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Tag: Pau Gasol

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Gasol At The Free Agency Crossroads

[Update 3.10PM 07/07/2014] Gasol, while listening to offers from other teams, has indicated that he will re-sign with the Lakers if they can land Carmelo Anthony and/or LeBron James in free agency. Pau is still hot property on the FA market, but the Lakers appear to be in the box seat to should they be able to improve the roster with a big name player.

Pau Gasol has long been the subject of trade rumors since joining the Lakers late in 2007 and has dealt with his fair share of critics, but now, the 7 foot Laker big man is a free agent and the interest around the NBA has been huge.

Averaging over 17 points a game throughout his career, Gasol helped the Lakers to two successive titles in 2009 and 2010, but has since been a part of a team struggling to regain everything which made them one of the most formidable franchises in all of sports.

What feels like a cast of thousands have walked through the doors of the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo since Pau arrived, with the Spaniard withstanding some harsh judgement on the part of the fans and much of the LA media throughout his time there. Along with the aging Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol has been the true icon of loyalty and dedication to a franchise who badly needed it.

But here we are, summer 2014, and the Lakers and Pau are both trying to get back on the path to resurrection. Gasol, who has been so loyal, looking to get back to playing winning hoops and the Lakers, such a proud organization, desperately trying to find someone to guide them into a new era, of post-Kobe Bryant Los Angeles basketball.

Pau has, unsurprisingly, been hot property so far in free agency, drawing interest from a number of teams including the Thunder, Knicks, Heat, Bulls and Lakers. The 7-footer provides a big offensive presence for these teams, with the Thunder looking the perfect fit so far, followed by the Knicks and the Bulls.

While this is all well and good, Gasol will still command a mighty pay check, somewhere in the $8-10 million a year area, making teams think twice before jumping on him. Most teams that will consider Gasol will already have a contending front line, indicating they may only be willing to use the mini-mid level on Gasol. With that said, it is unclear whether Pau will be interesting in accepting a considerable pay cut to play contending basketball.

Forever the scapegoat of Los Angeles’ cut throat media, and often the fans too, Gasol will surely take the time to consider his options and what situation benefits him most going forward. Carmelo Anthony has expressed a desire to play alongside him (in New York or LA, it’s not yet clear), and the Heat have also come a’knockin’ this morning, while the Thunder stay hot on his heels.

Given his undying loyalty to Kobe and the Lakers, perhaps the NBA’s perennial nice guy is finding it just a little bit harder to say goodbye than once thought.

One thing is for sure however…

There will be a purple and gold jersey with the number 16 hanging in those rafters at Staples Center one day.



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Old Scores, New Glories

So last week I wrote over 6000 words for NBA Nation Australia’s Weekly Hoop Scoop piece and while it wasn’t a problem to do, it was very time consuming. With that in mind, I’ve decided to change up the weekly recap to a more streamlined one. There will be a highs and lows for each day as well as some highlights but gone is the recap of every single game. Hey, I need more time to drink beer you know!

This week has been an extremely hard one for Bulls fans, me included. Unless you have been living under a rock or have just come out of a coma then you know Derrick Rose has injured his other knee and its put a bit of a dampener on things for fans of Chi town basketball. I wrote a few words immediately following the injury if you’re interested in them, here’s a link – http://nbanationaustralia.com/2013/11/23/so-now-we-wait/

Anyway, what’s done is done regarding the former MVP and it’s time to move on, so welcome back to the week that was in the NBA for NBA Nation Australia, or as I’m calling it, Old Scores, New Glories.

Monday 18th November

The Highs

There were three games on the schedule to start the week with the best performance coming from the Los Angeles Lakers Jordan Hill, career highs in points and rebounds and a win over the Detroit Pistons. Hill had 24 points on 11 of 16 from the field and 17 rebounds. Talk about a much improved player so far this year!

Rudy Gay has been having a year to forget so far but was actually very good for the Raptors in their loss to Portland. He had 30 points on 12 of 27 from the field, which for him is a very high percentage this year, he also grabbed 10 boards and hit the shot to take the game into overtime.

Nic Batum continues to impress this season as he had 24 points including 5 of 8 from downtown in that same game for Portland.

Zach Randolph was huge for Memphis in their win over the Sacramento Kings. He scored 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field, including 9 in the fourth period, and grabbed 10 boards.

The Lows

Robin Lopez contributed very little for Portland in their win over the Kings. He played 24 minutes, shot 1 of 2 from the field for his 6 points and grabbed 5 boards before he fouled out of the game. His plus minus was -7, which was the worst on the Trail Blazers roster for the game.

The Detroit Pistons bench, minus the efforts of Rodney Stuckey who had 16 points, could only manage a paltry 4 points for the entire game.

Highlights

Tuesday 19th November

The Highs

Kevin Durant had 38 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s win over the Denver Nuggets. His partner in crime, Russell Westbrook added 30 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists proving that OKC have one of the best one-two punches in the league.

#MontaHaveItAll. I’m sure we’re all well aware of the player Monta Ellis once was but are we all aware of the player he’s becoming? Ellis is becoming an efficient shooting, defensively adept and a real team player in Dallas and he was great for the Mavs in their win over Philadelphia. He had 24 points on 7 of 14 from the field, 10 assists and 4 rebounds.

Z Bo done it again on Tuesday with his 26 points on 10 of 16 from the field, 15 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in the Grizzlies big win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lows

The Bulls Bobcats game. Not one for the faint of heart or casual viewer. Both teams shot the ball at less than 37% in a total snooze fest of a game. Kemba Walker shot 3 of 14 for his 8 points in the contest and Derrick Rose 4 of 13 for his 12 points.

The Brooklyn Nets continue to be a major disappointment. Paul Pierce shot 2 of 12, Joe Johnson 4 of 12 and the team shot 36.5% for the game. Going nowhere fast!

Wilson Chandler’s 3 for 12 from the field, 8 points in Denver’s loss to OKC wasn’t particularly pretty.

Highlights

Wednesday 20th November 

The Highs

DeMarcus Cousins is looking like he may have gotten a handle on his erratic behaviour, not to mention his inconsistent play. He was sensational for the Kings in their win over the Phoenix Suns. He had 27 points on 9 of 18 from the field, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks.

The Washington Wizards pulled off an upset win over the Minnesota Timberwolves and it was John Wall who led the way with 14 points, 5 rebounds and he tied his career high with 16 dimes. Kevin Love was good for Minnesota in the loss as he put up 25 points and grabbed 11 boards.

Terrence Jones was great for Houston in their big win over the Boston Celtics. He scored 24 points on an amazing 10 of 12 from the field. He added 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in the 109-85 win.

The Lows

The Boston Celtics lost by 24 points to the Houston Rockets, shot the ball at 32.3% from the field and 35% from downtown and just thoroughly embarrassed themselves. Avery Bradley was 5 for 22 from the field in the game and had a shocking plus minus of -36.

The Atlanta Hawks starting five were out scored by their bench in the loss to the Miami Heat 46-42. The Hawks never really looked like a chance of downing the defending champions as they went down 104-88.

Ben McLemore shot 5 of 13 from the field in the Kings win over the Suns. 38.5% from the field for the game with no assists. Hes also shooting 37.6% on the year and averaging only 0.8 assists per game. Inefficient and not much vision.

Highlights

Thursday 21st November

The Highs

Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki are proving to be quite the combination. They combined for 72 points in Dallas’ 123-120 win over Houston. Ellis had 37 points on 13 of 18 from the field with 8 dimes whilst Dirk had 35 points on 13 of 20 from the field and 7 boards.

Paul George’s MVP caliber season continues as he put up 35 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in the Pacers dramatic overtime win over the New York Knicks. He shot the ball at 12 for 26 from the field and had 5 steals to boot.

Anthony Davis has been nothing short of a revelation this season and his fine form was once again on display as the Pelicans downed Utah 105-98. Davis had 22 points on 9 of 12 from the field, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 8 blocks.

Dwight Howard showed off some of his low post moves in Houston’s loss to Dallas. He was a perfect 8 for 8 from the field at one point before finishing with 33 points on 12 of 16 from the field and 9 of 13 from the free throw line with 11 rebounds.

The Lows

Paul Pierce had just 12 points on 3 of 11 shooting in the Nets loss to Charlotte. He is now averaging 37.8% from the field for the season. Could be time to farewell the NBA if this keeps up.

The Cleveland Cavaliers starting line-up. Whilst Kyrie Irving scored 28 points, the other four starters only managed to score 7 points in the game. If they have any hopes of making the playoffs they will need this to improve out of sight.

The Orlando Magic bench was poor in their loss to the Miami Heat. They only managed 14 points for the game, despite four of them playing 15 minutes or more.

Another poor shooting night for Rudy Gay, 6 for 16 from the field. Becoming all too familiar really.

The Utah Jazz. Do I need to say anymore?

Highlights

Friday 22nd November

The Highs

Only two games played today, the Denver Nuggets beat the Chicago Bulls and were led by the play of Jordan Hamilton who had 17 points on 6 of 12 from the field and 6 rebounds.

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-91. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 28 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists while shooting 10 of 19 from the field.

The Lows

Luol Deng managed to grab 13 boards in the Bulls loss to Denver but he struggled to score, shooting just 3 of 18 from the field. A game to forget for Deng.

JJ Reddick shot 3 for 11 from the field for his 8 points in the Clippers loss to OKC.

Highlights

Saturday 23rd November

The Highs

Pau Gasol had 24 points on 11 of 19 shooting as the Los Angeles Lakers took out the victory against the Golden State Warriors. Gasol also added 10 rebounds and 3 assists in the win. Vintage Pau.

Caron Butler dropped 38 points including 4 of 8 from long range in the Bucks loss to the 76ers.

Spencer Hawes is having an unbelievable season so far and he was big for Philly in their win over Milwaukee. He scored 25 points, including the game tying three to take the game into overtime, 12 rebounds and 2 assists.

Kevin Love played just 28 minutes in Minnesota’s win over Brooklyn but he was big in those minutes. he had 17 points on 5 of 11 from the field and 16 boards.

The Portland Trail Blazers. They won their ninth straight with a victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The Lows

Derrick Rose, Andre Iguodala and Marc Gasol all left their games with serious injuries and all three of them are listed as out indefinitely for their teams. The Rose injury was especially bad considering he was only eleven games into his return from a torn ACL.

There were some other ordinary performances throughout the league but the real low was the injuries to the three big name players. A sad day in the NBA.

Highlights

Sunday 24th November

The Highs

The Portland Trail Blazers won their tenth straight with a win over the Golden State Warriors and it was LaMarcus Aldridge who led the way with 30 points and 21 rebounds.

Roy Hibbert’s 27 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks ensured the Pacers would continue on their winning ways.

John Wall had 31 points on 10 of 18 from the field and 7 assists as the Wizards downed the hapless Knicks.

Leading candidate for Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams scored 29 points in the 76ers loss to Indiana. He shot 11 for 21 from the field and added 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 7 steals.

DeMarcus Cousins had 23 points, 19 rebounds and 7 assists in Sacramento’s loss to the Clippers.

The Lows

The Sacramento Kings only had three players score in double figures in their loss to the Clippers.

The New York Knicks. Yes they really are 3-9 this season.

JJ Barea shot 1 of 10 from the field and had only 1 assist in 18 minutes of court time in Minnesota’s loss to Houston.

The Milwaukee Bucks dropped to 2-10 for the season with a loss to the Bobcats. They shot a paltry 35.3% in the game and only one player scored more than 10 points in the loss.

Highlights



Is Hack-a-Dwight Bad Sportsmanship?

Dwight and Shaq. Shaq and Dwight. You cannot talk about one without the other. Both played at Orlando. Both at one stage or another were the poster child of what a big man should be. Both played under the bright lights of LA. Both cannot shoot from outside 3 ft from the hoop, but Dwight, did you really have to be a terrible free-throw shooter as well? By shooting less than 50% (give or take) from the free-throw line you automatically become a target for the other team to foul during clutch situations. Foul the terrible free-throw shooter. Watch him hit one shot at best. Score at the other end and repeat. Simple formula and many teams have adapted it. Originally touted as “Hack a Shaq” but now Dwight has stepped up and taken over the reigns and “Hack a Dwight” has reared its ugly head again but is it bad sportsmanship? (more…)



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Five underrated teams for the 2013/14 NBA season

Miami Heat
The Heat have made three straight trips to the NBA Finals, won the last two NBA championships, have the greatest basketball player on earth in his prime, and have completed some shrewd off-season moves.

So it’s bewildering to hear people say that their successful run may come to an end this year. Why? Because people are simply bored of them winning?

I haven’t heard one logical, rational or believable reason to suggest why the Heat shouldn’t start overwhelming favourites to once again take home the NBA hardware.

The signings of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley are low risk/high reward, and if they come off towards the latter, the Heat will be near unstoppable.

Yet, even if both players flame out, a nucleus of LeBron James, (a healthy) Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mario Chambers, Chris Anderson, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, etc, should be expected to win the title.

I personally am not underrating the Heat, as I think they will three-peat, so it feels strange to put them on this list. But for all those that think their championship run is over, this selection is for you, because I think you’re madly underestimating them.

Minnesota Timberwolves
This was actually a popular pick last season, when many thought the combination of a healthy Ricky Rubio, the All Star play of Kevin Love, the return of Brandon Roy, and the emergence of Nikola Pekovic, would combine to see the Twloves sneak into the playoffs.

Sadly, injuries to key players cruelled their season and the team never recovered. However, I’m going to roll the dice again this year, and believe that if the roster can stay healthy, the team can create some noise based on everything in that first paragraph.

The key difference is that Kevin Martin replaces Roy in a sneaky good move by the organisation. Martin will give them reliable offense from the backcourt, along with experience and a level head.

I also like some of Minny’s role players a lot, especially Alexy Shved and Derrick Williams, both of whom I feel have the potential to have somewhat breakout years.

There is a lot of ‘ifs’ with this team, but if (there’s another one!) everything falls into place, I could see this team qualifying in seventh or eighth place in the West.

Washington Wizards
I must be mad selecting this perennial underachieving team to be underrated.

I won’t lie, I’ve been seduced by John Wall’s second half of last season, in which he looked like an out-and-out superstar. It remains to be seen whether or not that tremendous run was an aberration or a sign of things to come, but I’m banking it was the start of Wall fulfilling his potential, which will make the Wizards a dangerous team this season.

I also think Bradley Beal is a star in the making. Fluid, smooth and with a nice stroke, he could make ‘the leap’ this year, especially with Wall’s penetration setting him up for open looks or easy buckets.

Though Emeka Okafor is currently injured, when he returns alongside Nené, it forms a formidable and underrated frontcourt pairing. And if one other player can step-up and be consistent – ideally at the small forward spot – it will provide the Wizards with a very nice starting five.

Considering how weak the bottom half of the Eastern Conference is, playoff spots are up for grabs. The Wizards should be in the mix to nab one of them.

Portland Trailblazers
The knock – quite deservingly – on the TrailBlazers last season is that they had no depth. In fact, their bench was horrible. Credit must go to the front office for going out in the off-season and recruiting some reserves.

Mo Williams, Earl Watson, Thomas Robinson, C.J. McCollum, Dorell Wright and Meyers Leonard form a very solid collection of back-ups that should allow Portland to rest their starters without fearing they’ll be surrendering the game.

Good teams always have a nice inside/outside combination and Portland are lucky enough to have one of the best in Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Point guard Lillard was the runaway rookie-of-the-year award winner, and earned himself the reputation of a big game player by hitting a number of big shots last year.

Meanwhile, Aldridge is a stud. A beast on the low block, and what sometimes feels like an ‘automatic two points’ shooter from mid-range, he’s one of the best power forwards in the game, and deserves a solid supporting cast.

Considering both stars – plus other starters Nic Batum and Wes Matthews – will be able to have a consistent rest this season, I think Portland will push for playoff contention.

Los Angeles Lakers
I suspect this is more wishful thinking than anything else. Either way, I make this prediction with zero confidence, and 100% bias.

Yet utilising a ‘glass half full’ mentality, let’s assume Kobe comes back 100% and with a vengeance. Let’s assume that Steve Nash overcomes his injury concerns and keeps Father Time at bay for another season. Let’s assume Pau Gasol will be rejuvenated at being reintegrated into the offense. That’s the makings of a pretty dangerous team; I’m not sure I’d want to play them in the first round of the playoffs.

Of course, they’d have to actually make the playoffs in the first place.

That’s a lot of assumptions to rely on, and as my mum used to say ‘assume makes an ass out of u and me’. In fact, forget it. I can’t even delude myself into this pick. I’m off to watch some DVDs of the 2010 NBA Finals.



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Ten Things I Love/Hate About You

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The NBA season isn’t too far away now and there’s a lot to look forward to in season 2013/14 but I thought I’d share ten things that are on my mind as we impatiently wait for the season to begin

10. Pre-season.

It’s better than no NBA basketball at all and it’s the pre-cursor to the real thing. Enough said.

9. The Cleveland Cavaliers.

What can I say about this youthful and talented squad? There’s Uncle Drew with those crazy handles, Andrew Bynum with that crazy, well everything, not to mention the hair watch we’re all constantly on. Then you have the explosive and exciting number one pick Anthony Bennett, who should give us Larry Johnson style highlights on the offensive end and be a disaster defensively. If Head Coach Mike Brown can get this roster to gel, they will be a highly entertaining team to watch, if not, there’s always Bynum’s hair to keep us all entertained.

8. Michael Beasley and Greg Oden.

You’ve got LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, etc, etc but what you now have to add to that locker room is a walking frame and a bong. Talk about two guys on their last legs! Oden is a guy I’ve always wanted to see come back from those knee injuries but now he’s on the Heat I’m not sure I feel as strongly about him overcoming those setbacks. Michael Beasley is one lucky cat. He’s also on his ninth life and if he doesn’t get his act to together then I don’t see any more chances coming his way, but then again, like Oden, I don’t want to see Miami gain another valuable piece to their team. Anyone got Beasley’s dealers number?

7. Lakers Losing It.

Now I know I’ll cop some grief for this one, especially considering I converse all too often with many Laker fans, not to mention my fellow NBA Nation Australia writers, but it has to be said that things don’t look too promising in Laker land this year and I for one won’t be losing any sleep over it. Kobe is on his way back from a serious injury at 4000 years old, Steve Nash is 5000 years old and Pau Gasol is just too nice to be a big man in the NBA. Whatever happened to that nice fellow Dwight? Sounds like a sub .500 year for the second best team in L.A. Yes I just called the Clippers the best team in L.A and it feels so wrong, yet so right.

6. Tank For Wiggins?

Things could get really ugly this year between the cellar dwellers. Next year’s draft is off the charts and there’s no shortage of teams willing to tank for Wiggins. I mean seriously, the mighty and proud Boston Celtics blew up their team to have a chance at getting that elusive number one pick next year so you know tanking is the new winning in 2013/14. I fear for my mental health when I switch on League Pass whilst nursing a hangover on a Sunday morning only to see the 76ers playing the Bobcats. Also, MJ, what the hell were you thinking with Cody Zeller!?

5. New Orleans Pelicans.

Of all the names you could choose for a sporting team, the Pelicans is the best you could come up with? Whoever is responsible for this atrocity should be forced to watch Austin Rivers rookie season over and over again. I’m sorry but I’ll never be able to take this team seriously now, actually, come to think of it, I don’t think I ever did beforehand! Move on.

4. Sun Shines In the Golden State.

One team I thoroughly enjoyed watching in last year’s playoffs were the Golden State Warriors. Those huge games from the sharp shooting Steph Curry were ones to remember and although they failed to beat the Spurs in the Western Conference semi-finals they showed they’re not a team you want to take lightly. They have made some solid off-season moves and providing Curry’s glass ankles stay healthy and Bogut can avoid whatever freak injury may occur then the Warriors will be a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Can the sun shine on the golden state?

3. Bring Back Wilt!

It’s about time we seen a scoring champ who averages over 30 points per game this season. KD, Melo, are you there? Shit, I don’t care if it’s Kobe and he shoots .400 to do it, actually I would take great pleasure in witnessing this; see number 7 on this list. I just think the scoring title isn’t the same when the winner averages a mere 28.7ppg. Bring back Wilt!

2. The NBA Finals.

The NBA Finals! What more do I need to say? I’m no fan of the Miami Heat or the San Antonio Spurs but watching that Finals series last season was unbelievably great. The spectacle, fanfare and meaning that comes with each and every game is what keeps me coming back every year to see it all play out. One thing though, hoop gods, can we not have the Heat again this season? Sincerely, Bulls fan Dan

1.The Return.

Ok, so it’s a little later than first anticipated but it’s no less exciting. The prodigal son returns, Chicago’s very own, D Rose, rises from his injury exile to take the league by storm destroying everyone in his path! Ok, so I’m going with the best case scenario here but after almost 18 months it’s my god damn right to be so optimistic! Bring on the season!



Looking to the 2013/2014 Season

The NBA season is fast approaching and I cannot wait. There are so many aspects of the game to look forward to and not all of them happen on the court. Here is my A-Z of the upcoming 2013-2014 season.

A: Air Balls

There is truly something special about an entire stadium full of fans chanting “Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrr BBBaaaaaaaaaallllllll!” in unison. It has to be one of the most humiliating events for an NBA superstar. Now an air ball from the three point line can happen fairly often but an air ball from the charity stripe is something to behold. My money would be on Dwight Howard to throw up a free throw line air ball at some stage this year. He truly is abominable from the line and he isn’t getting any better.

B: Birdman (Chris Andersen)

This dude is a loose cannon. You never quite know what he’s going to do next. Will he attempt to punch out an opponent? Rise up for a monster tip jam? Berate a referee? Start a fight? Create some new and zany hairstyle? Or get a Mike Tyson face tattoo? With the Birdman you never quite know but if there’s action happening on the court (or even off it) you can almost guarantee the Birdman will be there somehow.

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Back To Back

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It’s always a tough ask to win an NBA title but it’s even tougher to back it up and win the following year. Every team is gunning for you, wanting to beat the top dog and you never get an easy game. So with the Miami Heat winning their second consecutive championship this week, I thought we would have a look back at some of the NBA’s other back to back title winning teams.

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A Season Gone Begging

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After being beaten in 5 games in the 2011-2012 season the Lakers organisation appeared hell bent on change. A franchise that thrives on being number one had for the second year, been booted out of the playoffs in the second round.

And so it began.

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Dwight Howard’s Message To Lakers Nation; Where To From Here?

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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.

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Pau Gasol Out Indefinitely; Lakers Season Worsens

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The Los Angeles Lakers turbulent season took another turn for the worse Thursday morning (Aus) as scans revealed key forward/center Pau Gasol would miss between 4 to 8 weeks of game time following a tear in his plantar fascia tendon. While the Lakers have been improving of late, winning 6 or their last 7, this potentially very damaging injury could put them back several places in the race for a playoffs birth.

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