After yesterday’s embarrassing loss to the San Antonio Spurs, and his untimely ejection from the game early in the third quarter, and what appeared to be a confrontation with GM Mitch Kupchak (later dismissed) Lakers center Dwight Howard finally opened up to the world via Twitter in an attempt to rectify what he felt to be one of the most disappointing seasons of his career. Howard, widely regarded as the league’s best center, was ejected from yesterday’s game following his second technical foul for questioning the officials non-call after what he believed to be a hard foul. In the midst of all this, the Lakers were down by 20 points and Dwight being ejected at this point essentially spelled a loss before the game was even over, and the end of the 2012/13 Lakers season.
With the loss yesterday of Dr. Jerry Buss, The L.A. Lakers will wear a commemorative patch to honor the memory of their owner and leader tomorrow when they take on arch rivals the Celtics at Staples Center. The team will be hoping to avenge the blowout loss dealt to them by Boston a week ago at TD Garden, and a win would serve as a fitting tribute to Dr. Buss. Tributes continue to flow in from all around the World following Buss’ death yesterday.
After what was thought to be the job only Phil Jackson was going to take, the Los Angeles Lakers made a shock move late Monday night by hiring ex-New York Knicks and Olympic coach Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni will likely assume control of the team against Phoenix on Friday as he is currently unable to fly to LA due to an existing knee condition he recently had surgery on. This hiring makes a lot of sense to the Lakers who have struggled to get any fluency on offense this season, and with players like Steve Nash, whom D’Antoni has coached before, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard on the team this is sure to be one big offensive juggernaut. Here, we’re breaking down what went wrong with Phil Jackson, and where the Lakers can excel under Mike D’Antoni.
A new season, a new feature over at NBA Nation Australia!
Each week, we will share the 5 things we learned about the NBA from that week’s pool of games. A light hearted yet serious look at the good, the bad and the random that the NBA throws up at us each week.
Five random things that have us talking here at NBA Nation Australia HQ and Five things we think you guys will enjoy reading about…every week.
So here we go. The first list goes like this.
In news this morning it became official that Cavaliers utility Antawn Jamison has signed on with the Lakers for the 2012/13 season on a veteran’s minimum 1 year deal. Jamison could have signed elsewhere for more money, but instead decided he only wanted to play for a contender. Last season at the Cavs he averaged 17PPG and 6 rebounds per game and was a solid force for Cleveland. He will be an asset to the Lakers bench who last season registered a league low 20PPG collectively, and mostly on the back of Matt Barnes who is now an unrestricted free agent. This pick up should help bolster the bench’s production and fill the void left by Lamar Odom at the start of last season, whilst providing good back up in the forwards for Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace. The Lakers continue to hunt Dwight Howard, but it is also good to see them addressing the issues that plagued them last season such as the bench, and a championship quality point guard.
Imagine this scenario for a moment, if you will. There’s two minutes to play. You’re up by 7 points. Game two of a playoff series in a game away from home against one of the league’s youngest, fittest and most athletics teams. You know that this game is a must win to regain home court advantage and gain a minor edge in the series. You have the momentum, the desire and the will to win. The game is as good as done, and all that is required is that you maintain the same level of intensity that you have for the last 46 minutes. It’s your opposition’s ball, and they utilize it well, driving to the bucket and cutting the lead to 5 and drawing the foul. They sink the free throw. The lead is cut to 4. You regroup and discuss the next play, but to no avail. Another lost ball, this time at the hands of your most trusted player, results in a turnover and a fast break dunk at the other end. Your lead is now 2.
Pretend for a minute you’re a coach of world champion basketball team. A team who’s name is synonymous around the world with a winning culture. Pretend for a minute you have perhaps the greatest player of all time playing on your team. A player who time and time again has ripped victory from the jaws of defeat. Pretend for a minute you are down 14 points, with 6 minutes left in the last quarter, in a game where you’re fans and management demand a win. Pretend for a minute, you bench you’re best player. Welcome to the Staples Center, March 25th 2012. Los Angeles Lakers v Memphis Grizzles.
We have a big NBA Sunday coming up overnight, we here at NBA Nation Oz cant wait to see what happens. See below for some bets we think are worth a punt.
Miami @ Oklahoma City
The biggest game of the day could be a preview of the NBA Finals - 2 of the NBA’s hottest teams. Oklahoma are looking to defend their NBA best home court record of 21-4.
Our pick: OKC -1 ($1 = 1.91 on Sportingbet)
Oklahoma City just came of a inspiring win over Minnesota yesterday in double overtime, this win should give them the confidence to tackle the Heat head on. Each time the Thunder have beaten the Heat (since 07) it has been by 9 + points. We like the Thunder at home.
Utah @ Atlanta
This game will see one streak come to an end, Utah on an incredible streak of 6 wins while Atlanta look to defend a 3 game streak at home. Utah’s streak and crushing beat down on Denver on friday night has driven them into 7th in the Western Conference, giving the Jazz a shoot in the arm. Can Atlanta survive with it’s injury toll mounting (see: Injury Report)
Our Pick: Utah win ($1 = 2.05 on Sportingbet)
Utah are playing with enthusiasm and their bench is deep. Atlanta are at the tail end of a back-to-back-to-back and that could be their undoing. We like the inside presence and power of Favours & Jefferson to do some real damage to Smith and Pachulla.
Memphis @ Los Angeles Lakers
A reinvigorated Lakers outfit should see the team through the challenge that is the Grizzlies. The speed and tenacity of newly acquired point guard Ramon Sessions coupled with the size and strength of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol will undoubtedly be too much for this Memphis side. Because of these factors the pressure has been taken off Kobe Bryant, which in turn saw ALL FIVE starters register double figures on Saturday against Portland.
Our Pick: Los Angeles win ($1 = 1.33 on SportingBet)
LA have shown they are a real threat in the West, improving their win loss record to 30-18 and holding a 3-Game advantage over their cross-town rivals the Clippers. We are increasingly impressed with the power of Bynum who is playing MVP-quality ball, and how the team is coming together since the inclusion of Sessions. This will undoubtedly be too much for the likes of Randolph and Mayo in the confines of the Staples Center.
Washington Wizards @ Boston Celtics
It’s been a tough week for both these sides. The Celtics are coming off a crushing loss to Philadelphia which saw injuries sustained by Mickael Pietrus and Avery Bradley, and the Wizards are out of form in almost every way having won only three of the last ten games. They have also lost Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche to injury.
Our Pick: Boston win ($1 = 1.17 on SportingBet)
TD Garden has become a safe house for the Celtics of late with the team winning their last 5 at the venue, and will be looking to sweep the series with the Wizards 4-0. Paul Pierce is averaging 18 points a game and is still a genius in the clutch, whilst John Wall has averaged 12 points over the past three starts, not to mention making only 4/13 in his last visit to TD Garden. While the Celtics are struggling this season, we know that they still possess the ability to overcome the lowly Washington Wizards.
Stay tuned overnight as we launch our very own tipping comp.