Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lakers/Pistons Pre Super Bowl Squares



Hey Laker fans, what are you doing this Superbowl Sunday? Whether you're brave enough to spare your home or conveniently available to visit friends/family, you'll still be able to catch the Lakers/Pistons game at 10AM PST before all the Super Bowl festivities. This is great news for those die-hard NFL fans who can't miss a Lakers game. 

In the spirit of Super Bowl tradition, we here at Laker Liker want to try something new. Inspired by NBA Betting Odds, we've designed a Lakers/Pistons Pre Super Bowl Squares Sheet. The same rules that would apply to your Super Bowl Squares Pool would obviously apply here. The grid can be mixed up a little by playing based on individual player stat results per quarter rather than the traditional points per quarter. It's entirely up to you. For your Super Bowl Squares Grid we've found this cool website - PrintYourBrackets.com.

To view/print the Lakers/Pistons Pre Super Bowl Squares Sheet click on the image above or follow the link below.

VIEW/PRINT LAKERS/PISTONS PRE SUPER BOWL SQUARES

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tyson Beck's Kobe Johnson


Laker fans if you don't follow Tyson Beck's work, you will now. Check out his latest master creation titled Kobe Johnson.

In Kobe's last three games he's averaging 13-assists. That's definitely Magic-ish. 

Follow Tyson Beck: Facebook, Website, Twitter

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kobe Bryant Reconstructed

The biggest game of the season came courtesy of the best team in the NBA. The 34-10 Thunder paid the Lakers a visit on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after several days of rain. This later evolved to be a metaphor as a new beginning after the storm for the 16X Champion Los Angeles Lakers.

The glitz and glam of Hollywood's elite and a jammed-packed STAPLES Center arena would help cheer on their home team in anticipation of Kobe Part II, ignited from two nights ago. 

A usually labelled "selfish" Kobe Bryant has metamorphosed into the leader and team player that loyal fans have been defending for so long. Today's 105-96 team victory confirms that the reconstructed facilitating Mamba is no accident. Let's talk about Kobe's production from this mini two-game winning streak.

January 25th - Kobe's Epiphany

The visiting Utah Jazz seek to take advantage of a dieing Lakers team who continue their struggles to be at .500. L.A. had lost four straight entering the game and even worse had only won two games entering the new year.

Surprise! Surprise! Utah would fall victim to a Kobe Bryant that no pre-game tape would prepare them for. Kobe's epiphany moment would come 24 (of course) seconds into the game when MWP rewarded Kobe by draining an open three - assist #1 Kobe Bryant. Weeks prior Kobe would've shot over five defenders before looking weak side.  

Since that moment, Kobe would be in facilitator beast mode dishing to teammates who were as shocked to receive the ball as statisticians were marking past 1 in the assists column. Team captain was finding his teammates and his teammates were finding rhythm. It was contagious.

Kobe would end the night with a season high 14-assists followed by an overshadowed 14-points/9-rebounds. He could've scored another 81-points and it wouldn't of mattered. To give some perspective, the last time he had as many assists was on November 14, 2010 against the Suns. Nash had 13 assists that game.

In my opinion the bigger stat was Kobe's 10 FGA. This proves that Kobe doesn't need to score 30+ for the team to win.

January 27th - Encore Performance

The true test would come against a very fast and talented OKC Thunder team who held the best record in the league. Quite the opposite from their opponent whose playoffs hopes were and still are hanging by a thread.

Was the win over the tough Utah Jazz just another erratic W before a series of losses? The big stage was set with an even bigger opportunity to prove skeptics wrong. Pattern would await for the first half Lakers to come out battled and beaten by the heavily favored highly advanced Supersonics. 

As the world turned so did the tide. Lakers had six players in double figures - Thunder had four. Durant would have a (ex)Kobe-like performance scoring a game high 35-points (10-26 FG) while leaving his teammates in the dust. Westbrook was closest at 17-points.

The newly social @KobeBryant must be reading Magic's tweets because Kobe's pre-game agenda was without a doubt to manufacture the same results he'd given versus the Jazz. Remember, Kobe was averaging 22 FGA before these two games so anything less would be astonishing. 

Objective complete. Kobe produces his best game (that ends in a victory) and the best team win of the season. His encore performance consisted of 14-assists/9-rebounds/21-points (by design I lead with assists and end in points). If Kobe would've brought down just one more rebound from both games he would've had consecutive triple doubles.

Again, the stand-out stat of the night is his ridiculously (by his standard) low 12 FGA. Kobe's had back-to-back 14-assist games. Thats' unheard of! I'm loving this new Kobe. Team chemistry has grown tenfold and Kobe is smiling again. 

Lakers next two opponents to end the month are the 15-29 New Orleans Hornets and the 15-30 Phoenix Suns. I'm not going to jinx anything but if there was any month to finish strong, it would be this one.

References: Utah Jazz Box Score, OKC Thunder Box Score - Yahoo! Sports

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pau 6MOTY?



I know, I know...relax but Pau is playing well off the bench. The spaniard is handling the demotion adequately despite reported dissatisfaction of D'Antoni's decision.

In his inaugural 4-games as a reserve he's averaging 14-points/8-rebounds and is shooting 54% (FG). I understand it's just four games but let's give Gasol some credit here. The man has been on everybody's hit list for years now and should be acknowledged when he doesn't live up to expectations. ["doesn't" used in reference to this season's woes]

He's getting just a tad over 26-minutes when subbing in for Clark. Certainly minutes he's not used to but minutes regardless in the D'Antoni system that's still as acquired as the taste for salt and vinegar chips - eventually you'll like it.

Lakers are 1-3 with the...
...cheering alongside Sacre or playing alongside Duhon. It all depends on how full/empty your glass is I guess.

The above-mentioned accollades are a subtle reminder of the kind of talent the Lakers' bench just picked up or sat down in this case.

If you're wondering about Gasol's shooting efficiency vs Pringles chosen successor Earl Clark, read this article:

System Failure: Pau Gasol Must Come Off The Bench

Don't count Gasol out quite yet - D'Antoni might have something going here.

References: Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Does Dwight want to be traded?

Getty Images
A recent UCLA study concluded that; “93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues.”  Nonverbal communication is the single most powerful form of communication and by the looks of the Lakers faces and body language in the closing minutes of tonight's loss against the Memphis Grizzlies (MEM 106-LAL 93), there's plenty wrong with this team.

Having only won twice entering the new year, an implode of the current roster is yet again the inevitable but whose name(s) will be on the chopping block come trade deadline?

Lets start by pointing out the obvious - Head coach D’Antoni has yet to execute an effective lineup from arguably the best roster in the league. Perhaps it is his fault or maybe the index finger should be pointed at the players, regardless something or someone has to change.

This system, whatever it may be, is clearly not working and clearly the wrong players are running it. The teams nemesis is Kobe offense. I'm still seeing too much of it. Kobe ISO - everyone else watch and hope for a rebound to come their way for scrap points, is getting really old.

Yes Kobe is the only shot creator on the team, but why not set more pick and rolls? The team has plenty of jump shooters, heck even the Lakers big men can stroke it - Gasol and Clark have shown consistency in their mid-range game.

One thing's for certain, Dwight Howard is showing signs of egress. He's playing with little intensity. Defenses have shut him down because of his predictable post game and his frustrations have led to several ejections already. His offense is out of rhythm, so can the Lakers still rely on his defense and rebounding? Well, his health is starting to decline again and the smallest reason to not suit up will certainly delight an already grinning Dwight Howard.  
 

With that being said, is it safe to assume that Dwight wants to be traded from this once promising Lakers roster? I'm sure his dream of getting his first championship ring through such a prestigious organization has unfortunately turned into his own Dwightmare. Oh the irony. 

On paper Howard's stat's so far this half season look favoring (17-pts/12-rebs/2-blks), but any Laker fan will tell you that those numbers are very misleading. Again, this might not be entirely his fault. Dwight himself has shared his discontent with the D'Antoni system.

It's painstakingly clear though that the Lakers look miserable out there. They look as distant and out of touch as fanny pack wearers. There's absolutely no leadership present and Kobe really needs to step up in that department. Why not give an occasional chest bump when his teammates play well? Why not root for them like Sacre does? Why not smile and say "good job" more often? All these things will easily raise team morale and build chemistry.

These are the characteristics I wish Kobe had in him. You can see that his teammates are intimidated. They're even afraid to shoot the ball near him. All shots come from the weak side when he's on the floor. The potential is there, Kobe just needs to help expose it.

Magic was the quintessential leader who made his teammates better. Kobe just isn't Magic.

Co-Written By Loit Kaskla

Friday, January 18, 2013

Our experience at the 9th Annual Lakers All-Access event




Hey Laker fans, we wanted to share our experience from the 9th Annual Lakers All-Access event last night at Staples with you. We were sharing photos live from the floor via our @LakerLiker Twitter handle and your comments made the experience that much sweeter.


Lets start off by saying that last night was epic. There was so much to absorb. I was hoping to get in an interview or two but honestly the atmosphere alone was satisfying enough. I was able to enjoy the event as a fan and also with a fan of the site. He was blown away to say the least.


We arrived early at STAPLES to walk around L.A. Live knowing the area wouldn't disappoint as it usually doesn't. I hadn't seen the KAJ statue since its unveiling back in November so taking a snap shot of the bronze skyhook was a definite must. We were also able to see the TNT broadcast booth set up for the upcoming Lakers/Heat game and the L.A. Kings set up for ring ceremony night on Saturday.

 

Now that we were done with the outside festivities it was time to enjoy what was waiting for us inside. We made the entrance and right off the bat we were shaking hands with Lakers personality and emcee for the night Bill McDonald.


We make our way down to the floor and our eyes are automatically drawn to the Lakers shoot around. We also take notice of the open bars, buffets, Laker girls, Larry O'Briens, a silent auction for signed memorabilia from current and former Laker greats and finally a sign leading to the all-access (hence the event name) behind-the-scenes tour of the Lakers locker room.



We make our way to the Laker girls first (of course). After we realized that our jaws were still open long after our photos were taken with them, we anxiously walked toward the shoot around.

The shoot around at the moment (there were many) was by far the highlight of the night. I mean come on, who wouldn't want to shoot some hoops on the same court Kobe and the Lakers do?



Photo op galore. The new Lakers court is even more amazing up close. Loving the addition of the new Lakers script just underneath the rim and secondary logo located outside of the key. 

The new star decals that surround the center court Lakers logo represents each of the 16 championship years. The floor was surprisingly slick so it was a good thing I wore my throw back Kobe Zoom IV's.


So it's time to test our basketball skills. I, like Nash, do my free throw routine before it was my turn. Ya know, I wanted to make sure I had my shooting motion ready. In my mind I felt like Kobe but when the ball actually touched my hands I felt like Howard. The only problem was I was jump-shooting. Take a look for yourself of us laying brick:




After making complete fools of ourselves, we head toward the Lakers locker room tour. Great moments surpassed by new ones. The next 10-minutes would be epic. Let me just let the photos do all the talking. 



I digress and regain my composure. We then head to the media room for some grub. There we met Kevin Figgers who is the producer for AM 570 Fox Sports, host for STNTV and LakerNation.com. As I was complimenting him on all the successes, he quickly gave credit to his fellow colleagues. The man is humble and a true professional.

We also met @LakerNation co-founder Kam Pashai who is reputably known for his graphic design work but now fills his time dabbling in the digital world via his website wearece.com.

I think we touched on every topic imaginable from video game consoles to fantasy basketball. Kam is the kind of dude you'd want to be stuck in an elevator with - great conversationalist. Kam, once you get your NBA 2K13 copy choose the Xbox 360 platform - less updates. We were also sitting next to Alex Lambeth who writes for LakerNation.com - be sure to follow him at @AlexLambeth. He's a young upcomer.



The night ended with the anticipated panel discussions led by Bill McDonald. The first of two sit-downs had Laker Legends and HOF's James Worthy and Jamaal Wilkes whose Laker jersey was recently retired up in the rafters. Former Laker and 7-time NBA champ Robert Horry and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak were also in the mix.

The second and final sit down discussion welcomed Antawn Jamison, Steve Blake and coach D'Antoni. You could feel the tension between Jamison and D'Antoni. You can tell Antawn wanted to scream, "Play me coach!!!"


Bill McDonald's questions were both personal and business-related. Some topics were for giggles but others were taboo to even talk about but still shockingly addressed such as Kobe making bad shot decisions late in games. No holds barred and those in attendance appreciated the candid answers.


After the discussions were over I spotted L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina. I head over to his direction and introduced myself to him. Very personable. In fact all media personalities that we met that night were very friendly.


In the end I tried to hide behind several seats in the front row for the Miami Heat game the following night but security caught me. I played it off as if I was searching for my lost content lens.

In closing we want to give a special thanks to the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC) for hosting the event. It was a huge success. We had such a great time. Bring on the 10th Annual Lakers All-Access event!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lakers hit the reset button and win 2-straight


Entering Sunday's game against the worst team in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Lakers were on a 6-game losing streak and fans were on a 36-game hope-losing streak for a playoff bound season. In fact, "Is the Lakers season lost?" was making headlines.

Fast forward to tonight and the Lakers have managed to win 2-straight. They beat the struggling Cav's by 20, with the final score being 113-19 and tonight they take the Bucks by the horns (and by 16), 104-88. These two games taken quite convincingly by a combined 36-points, something fans have been expecting with a roster like the Lakers'.

It's as if the Lakers have hit the reset button coming near the midway mark of the season. Something has clearly changed in the offense but more importantly in the defensive end. With Gasol being sidelined by another questionable injury, and Hill gone for the season, other teammates have had to fill the void left behind in the front court.

Earl Clark has been the x-factor and with his newly acquired fan given nick name of Clark Knight (unofficial), he's found his niche in the ever rotating lineup. Since Gasol's concussion, Clark has averaged roughly 29-minutes in 5-games. These are precious minutes he's determined not to waste and has proven so by averaging 11-pts and 10-rebs.

2-Game Winning Streak Factors

The Lakers offense has seen its share of Kobe touches (league leading 828 FGA) with minimal ball movement but as of late the team, specifically Kobe has shown signs of peripheral basketball. In result the Lakers have tallied in 62 assists. Yes, Kobe will still get his touches but fans are now starting to see him look for the open man. On occasion he's snuck in a pass or two from his shooting motion for an easy Howard deuce. Plays like those builds team morale and gets other teammates actively involved rather than their usual spectator mode or hasty shots due to late shot clocks.

Defensively the Lakers have been spot on, keeping opponents to low point production and limiting star player involvement. Howard is a big reason for the defensive turnaround. He's had a combined 5 blocks, 53 points, and 30 rebounds. He and Kobe have become the primary contributors to these victories but this is certainly not to discount the contribution of other teammates like Jamison who is finally seeing minutes. He's scored a total 26-pts off the bench.

All in all, the Lakers are showing signs of how they should've started the season. The next test is of course the upcoming Thursday game against the reigning champs. A victory over the 24-12 Miami Heat will prove that these recent wins over mediocre teams is no fluke.

          

Sunday, January 13, 2013

@kobebryant officially on Twitter



For those Laker fans who missed the memo, Kobe Bryant is officially on Twitter by the way of his @kobebryant handle.

His first tweet:
He's tweeted 43-times since. Just after Christmas I said that fans shouldn't expect an official Kobe Bryant Twitter account when I wrote about his overtaking of the @nikebasketball handle for just a couple of days to help promote his recently launched Nike Zoom Kobe 8 shoes. Literally days after he was hash-tagging mambatweets via his own blue check mark.

Here's some perspective of how crazy quick Kobe's popularity is - the @nikebasketball handle that he teased fans with currently has 475,000 followers. Kobe's nine-day-old account already has just over 811,000 followers.

Kobe is currently following 41 people. The list consists of many high profile people such as Oprah, Timberlake, George Lopez, Russell Simmons, Snoop Dogg, all to name a few. Strangely among those elite celebrities are no actively tweeting Laker legends like @MagicJohnson, @kaj33 or @James_Worthy42

Some say the socially tweeting Mamba is a bad idea as his team is on a 6-game losing streak (5 since hatching) but tonight that streak was snapped. The Lakers beat the worst team in the league, the Cleveland Cav's, 113-93. They're crawling back up and are now 5-games below .500.

If you're married to the Lakers like I am, following @Lakers and @kobebryant is a must.

#Believe

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Loyal fans have jumped off the Gasol Love Train

It's no secret D'Antoni has been experimenting with his starting lineup in hopes of finding an effective rotation before the Buss family finds an effective coach. Due to injuries, he's been having to mix it up a bit. Some moves came expectantly and others threw up question marks.

Fans have thrown out the idea of starting Hill or Jamison over Gasol. In hindsight, that isn't such a bad idea. Hill has proven to be a productive scrapper making his points off of missed shots. His jumper is almost as good as Gasol's and with his limited minutes he's become a fan-favorite because of his hustle. Defensively Hill is the better player.

Jamison has disappeared since Gasol's return from injuries but when he was a useful component his shooting consistency was well received by fans. In one game against a tough Nuggets team, he scored 33. Antawn is averaging 16-points when he gets 25+ minutes (8 games).    

To D'Antoni's defense, his star-ting big men have been inconsistent so far this season. Yes, Howard is averaging an impressive 17-pts/12-rebs but his game in and game out numbers are unpredictable. Fans wish his double-digit contributions were as long-lived as his on-court smile.

To say that Pau Gasol is struggling is an understatement. Although the season is still technically young (32 games in), Gasol is well under his 18-point average. He's currently averaging 12-points with 9-rebounds.

The two big men have struggled to work well together. While Howard demands for inside feeds, Gasol can be found wandering around the perimeter. This explains his 21 3PA already. Last season, Pau had a career high 27 attempts behind the 3-point line. With a 7-foot frame, fans expect Gasol to use his towering height more dominantly. Lakers have plenty of jump shooters, they don't need a big man doing that job.

Some say D'Antoni is to blame for Gasol's struggles but the finger needs to be pointed at Pau. He hesitates to step inside the paint offensively/defensively and only screams (literally) when he dares to venture in. The memo is out, defenses think nothing of Gasol's 7-inch vertical and telegraphic lay-ups. 

His teammates are supportive despite his lost role with the team. Just the other night after losing to the Clippers where Gasol went 1-6 only scoring 2, Nash said this about his teammate:
"I'm just here to support (Gasol), he's a tremendous talent, he's had a great career, and I'm just here to support him and (help him) find his best. We've all been there. It's tough when things aren't going for you, and you're struggling a little bit.
You've just got to support him. Six months ago, he was unbelievable at the Olympics. It's still in there somewhere, and part of it is probably a bit of fatigue, a bit of injuries, and a bit of just trying to find his niche playing along side Dwight and myself and new guys."
Anytime Gasol lacks toughness inside his unwanted yet opportunistic nickname "Gasoft" is an audible favorite. To give some perspective, Pau missed 8 games earlier this season due to knee tendinitis which retired WNBA L.A. Sparks legend Lisa Leslie later addressed on the air saying she often played through the same injury throughout her 12-year career.

Gasol may have his teammates support, but his loyal fans who've stuck by his side throughout the years have jumped off the Gasol Love Train. The frail Spaniard is on the chopping block and March is just around the corner. It will be interesting to see what Gasol has to offer before the looming trade deadline.
  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Video: Here's another look at Kobe's ridiculous dunk on CP3



Take another look Laker fans, this is how Kobe silences those bandwagon Clipper fans.

Nasty. Just pure nastiness.