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NBA AM: The Lakers’ Ultimate Undoing
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On March 29, 2013 @ 9:49 am In NBA | No Comments
The Los Angeles Lakers have had more than their fair share of issues this season, from having two changes at head coach, their longtime owner Jerry Buss pass away and chemistry issues amongst their stars, but it looks like what is going to be their ultimate undoing this season is something that can derail even the best of teams: injuries.
The Lakers have only had their full roster available for one game this season. It started out with starting point guard Steve Nash missing the two months at the beginning of the season with a fractured leg. Then, shortly after his return, Jordan Hill was lost for the year with a hip injury. After Hill went down, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol were in and out of the lineup with various minor injuries of their own.
In early February Gasol suffered a major injury, a torn plantar fascia that kept him out for just over six weeks. Just prior to his return Kobe Bryant went down with a severely sprained ankle, but there was finally some hope that when he and Gasol returned the team could potentially salvage this season, make a strong final push and go into the playoffs as a team to fear.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the injuries have only continued to pile up.
They temporarily dodged another big hit earlier this week when Antawn Jamison suffered a torn ligament in his right wrist. It’s going to require surgery to fix, but Jamison is able to play through it and delay surgery until the offseason.
Metta World Peace was not as lucky with his ligament tear. The Lakers announced Wednesday that World Peace would be out for the next six weeks with a torn lateral meniscus, all but ending his season barring an unlikely deep playoff run by the Lakers. World Peace originally tweeted that he would be back in 10 days, but that turned out to be far too optimistic with surgery needed.
Still, despite all those setbacks, the Lakers find themselves in eighth place. But, on Thursday night they did not help their playoff cause at all, falling to the Milwaukee Bucks 113-103. Their lead on the ninth place Utah Jazz is just half a game, while the Dallas Mavericks are within a game themselves.
To make matters worse, both Bryant and Nash left the Bucks game in pain. Bryant is dealing with a bone spur in his left foot, while Nash is battling right hip spasms, an injury that originally occurred on Monday against the Golden State Warriors. Nash left in the third quarter and did not return.
It’s unknown at this point whether or not the two will miss any time. Bryant, who is notorious for his ability to play through pain, tried to give assurances after the game that he would be fine, but he was on crutches. Lakers trainer Gary Vitti actually wanted to hold Nash out of the Bucks game, but Nash wouldn’t oblige. They’ll only have one day to heal up as the Lakers will be back in action Saturday at the Sacramento Kings.
At 37-36 the Lakers have nine games remaining on their schedule. Six of them are at home, but they are against the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. Sprinkle in road stops at Sacramento, the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland and you have a really daunting schedule for the Lakers to try to do well enough against with a hobbled backcourt to stay in the top eight.
Take away this last waive of injuries and the Lakers very well may have been able to make something of this season. But, we won’t be seeing them healthy until 2013-2014 and who knows what the team will look like by then.
HOOPSWORLD TV: Looking at Florida Gulf Coast: The Eagles have been the talk of the tournament and later today they try to become the last college basketball team from Florida standing as they take on the Florida Gators in the Sweet 16. Below Alex Kennedy and I discuss the Eagles at length and break down their chances against a fierce Gators team.br> br>
Typing With 11 Rings Isn’t Easy: Earlier this week retired Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson surprised everyone by joining twitter. Outside of the Los Angeles Lakers’ public passing of him for Mike D’Antoni late last year, Jackson has kept a pretty low profile. Everyone was eagerly awaiting to see what his first tweet would be, and it actually turned out to be quite the head scratcher.
How could a guy as educated and wise as the Zen Master put out such a poorly-written first tweet? The video below shows how.
We Want to Know: Big men in the NBA are asked to do a lot of things, but finishing easy buckets around the rim is one of their most important duties by far. In today’s poll we list the top 12 players in the league in field goal percentage (with a minimum of 100 field goals attempted), all of which happen to be low post players, and ask you: Who do you trust the most as a finisher?
Make sure to discuss why you made the choice you did below in the comment section!
UCLA Looking At Stevens: In an expected development, the UCLA Bruins have zeroed in on Butler Bulldogs head coach Brad Stevens as one of their top options for their head coaching position according to reports. The Bruins fired Ben Howland recently and are trying to make a hire sometime in the next week-to-10 days.
Stevens is one of the hottest commodities in the country. Every high major with a vacancy in the last couple of years had hopes of prying him away, but were unable to do so. However, it’s different when UCLA comes calling.
The UCLA head coaching job is amongst the most prestigious in all of sports period, not just basketball. It comes with a lot of notoriety and all the resources a coach could ask for, but it’s a demanding job as well. Howland was fired after winning the Pac-12 regular season championship, a testament to just how dedicated the Bruins basketball program is to competing for national, not conference, championships.
Stevens is going to have to decide whether or not he is willing to exchange the security and sainthood he has at Butler for the bright lights and history of UCLA. It would be a move across the country for him and he would have to completely change his recruiting base. It’s the textbook definition of a high-risk, high-reward type move, but it will come with a raise and the opportunity to revitalize the program that the late, great John Wooden turned into a powerhouse.
Many have speculated in the past that it would be the Duke Blue Devils who would eventually pry away Stevens from Butler whenever Coach K decides to retire. The Bruins are going to be awfully tough to turn down, though, if they do indeed make an offer.
VCU’s Shaka Smart was another candidate for the Bruins, but he signed as extension with the Rams and has taken himself out of the running. If the Bruins and Stevens can’t come to an agreement the pressure will really be on Bruins athletic director Dan Guerrero to find a way to still make a big splash after missing out on both of the top young coaches in the country.
2013 NCAA Tournament Coverage: The Sweet 16 is here and HOOPSWORLD has plenty of content to ensure you’re up to speed on all of the top teams and players remaining in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
We have previewed every single game and you can find all of the previews here. They have in-depth stats, players to watch and a poll so that you can vote on which team will win. Once it tips off, feel free to discuss the game in the comment section.
If you want to take a look at the bracket, we’ve been updating it here.
Several of our writers have predicted every Sweet 16 game. Check out our Sweet 16 predictions here.
Are you an NBA fan who only watches the NCAA Tournament to get a look at this year’s draft prospects? Here is a look at 20 players to watch during March Madness.
We will continue to push out NCAA Tournament coverage over the next few weeks so be sure to check back regularly.
NBA Chats: I’ll be hosting my weekly chat at 11 am est. You can get your questions about the NCAA tournament, NBA Draft and NBA playoffs into me here. As always you can check our entire upcoming chat schedule out as well.
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