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Lakers must win in Sacramento

Posted by on Mar 30, 2013 in Lakers Analysis, Opinion | 3 comments

NOTE: Download the newest podcast by clicking here. Has MWP played his final game in purple and gold? How hard is it to play with Kobe when the team is losing? Are the Lakers fried mentally? Plus beards, and the ultimate in first world problems.

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For the Lakers — sporting an identical 37-36 record as Utah but behind thanks to the tie-breaker — to grab the Western Conference's final playoff seed, they have to win one more game down the stretch than the Jazz. It won't be easy. We know the L.A. has a tough slog over the final nine games. How does each team's slate match up?

Lakers: @SAC, vs. DAL, vs. MEM, @LAC, vs. NOH, @POR, vs. GSW, vs. SAS, vs. HOU.

Jazz: vs. BRK, vs. POR, vs. DEN, vs. NOH, @GSW, vs. OKC, vs. MIN, @MIN, @MEM.

Both have six home games, though L.A. only has to board two more airplanes after tonight's game in Sacramento. Then again, it's worth noting Utah is 26-9 at home. Both see a healthy dose of contending teams. The Lakers do have one back-to-back remaining (New Orleans and Portland). Utah has none. You could break it down six ways from Sunday trying to determine which is tougher. I'll save some time and say they're basically comparable.

It's Saturday, we've all got things to do.

Friday night, sitting in with the TWC Sportsnet gang, we were asked to predict how the Lakers would fare over their final nine games. Trying to think optimistically, I still had trouble landing at 4-5. Given their physical condition, with Metta World Peace's knee injury tearing a massive hole in an already suspect defense, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash limping, and the team looking beat down mentally, it's hard to be optimistic. If I'm right, the Lakers likely go home early.

For me to be wrong, a few things need to happen. Tuesday's game glows radioactive on the importance meter. Not only are the Lakers chasing Utah, they can also be caught by Dallas. Beating the Mavs at Staples is critical to doing the former and preventing the latter. But the three most important games on the schedule are Sacramento, New Orleans, and Portland, the final three sub-.500 squads on the schedule.* The Lakers, winners of two games this year against the W.C.'s top five seeds, aren't going to run the table against the six other teams they'll play. Losing to any of the three lottery squads means staying ahead of Utah — remember, tie goes to the Jazz — gets salt mine brutal.**

With that in mind, it's reasonable to say the season, whatever the value, hangs in the balance tonight in Sacramento. It may not be true in the most literal sense, but it's damn close.

*I'm graduating Dallas into the competent team category, based on how they've played to get back in the postseason derby.

**There's an argument that the more humane thing for the Lakers this season would be to go home early. It's something AK, a die-hard fan, has been wondering for a little while, now. Does rooting for them just prolong their suffering? We discuss in the new show linked above.

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Podcast: Metta World Peace out (sorry), Lakers unraveling, beards and the first-est world problems ever

Posted by on Mar 29, 2013 in Dwight Howard, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Metta World Peace, Opinion, Podcast | 1 comment

NOTE: Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here, find us on here.

The Lakers have dropped four of five following Thursday”s 113-103 loss in Milwaukee. Their hold on the eighth seed in the Western Conference is thin, as is — in a major change of pace — . It”s a tough moment in a tough season for the purple and gold. But while adversity might keep the Lakers from the playoffs, it can”t keep us from recording the newest edition of the Land O”Lakers Podcast.

Among the big talking points…

  • We”ve now seen two games without Metta World Peace out thanks to a meniscus tear in his left knee, and what it means for the Lakers on both sides of the ball. Thus far, it”s fair to say the team has become even more porous defensively. Any shot they patch the holes? Has MWP played his final game with the Lakers? 
  • Was Metta”s injury the straw that breaks the camel”s back? That last bit of adversity the Lakers can”t overcome?
  • If you”re a fan, do you really want the Lakers to make the playoffs, given what appears to be the inevitable pasting they”ll endure in the first round? Would it be more humane for the year to quietly end in mid-April? Andy, the resident Lakers die-hard, weighs in.
  • Tuesday”s game against Dallas won”t just have huge implications for the playoffs, but for facial hair as well. We discuss.
  • Finally  Jon Hamm and Mark Zuckerberg officially have two of the first-est first world problems in human history.
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Podcast: Kobe Bryant and postgame rhetoric, untimely slides, and D.J. Mbenga stories

Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion, Podcast | 5 comments

REMINDER: Subscribe to our show in iTunes here…

Those happy days when it looked like the Lakers might actually climb up the Western Conference playoff ladder and even (gasp!) make a little noise come the postseason are … well, if not gone are, in the parlance of seldom acknowledged Pink Floyd albums, Obscured By Clouds.

Now, having lost three straight including Monday”s not-nearly-as-close-as-the-final-score-indicates game against the Warriors in Oakland, the Lakers have lost touch with Golden State and Houston, and are just trying to hang on to the eighth spot. And they have some company.

With that backdrop, we sat down Tuesday afternoon to record the newest Kamenetzky Brothers Land O”Lakers Podcast (before the news about Metta World Peace”s lateral meniscus tear, just as an FYI). Among the talking points:

  • Why aren”t bulletin board material for the Lakers, but reflect bigger problems for the Lakers heading into the postseason … assuming they get there.
  • Speaking of which, will they?
  • After Monday”s loss, Kobe Bryant took the action hero, steely approach when asked if he was concerned about L.A.”s shrinking cushion in the playoff race. “I”m terrified,” he said. “Do I look terrified? Not at all.” Lest you think his question was rhetorical. Are zen calm and unshakable confidence the right approach at this point? If he”s saying the right stuff, what else ought Kobe be doing?
  • Finally, we take a comment from the Facebook Mailbag that most Lakers fans certainly identify with, and I share a conversation with V.O.T.L.* John Ireland following Friday”s loss encapsulating the ways in which this season has gone very wrong for the Lakers.

Finally, one more mention for this piece Andy put together for Red Bull Media House, on OKC”s Nick Collison”s evolution into the consummate role player.

*Voice of the Lakers. 

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Lakers take Dallas in what will henceforth be known as the "Amnesty That" Game

Posted by on Feb 25, 2013 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Lakers Video, Opinion |

How good was Kobe Bryant Sunday in Dallas?

This good.

This good:

The Lakers, thanks in large part to Bryant but also solid contributions from Steve Nash (20 points, four dimes), Dwight Howard (13 rebounds, two steals, 15 despite foul trouble), and absurdly good 3-point shooting (13-25), won a massively important game on the road against a highly motivated Mavs team starting to play well.

They (both losers Saturday night), and more importantly didn”t put themselves in a position of having to win Monday night in Denver. Don”t get me wrong, it would be super-helpful, but “must-win” and “second night of a back-to-back in altitude against a team with a 23-3 record on their home floor” don”t really mesh like hair metal and flying-v guitars. The Lakers have now won eight of ten, 11-of-15, and while the wins haven”t exactly been uniformly inspiring, they”re now only a game short of the .500 mark.

Under normal circumstances, not something to celebrate. This year? Definitely worth a toast or two.

What the Lakers lack — particularly important given the road heavy schedule coming in March — are signature wins against high-end road teams. Sunday was a quality step in the right direction. A victory Monday in Denver could be culture changing in ways similar to the OKC game at Staples last month, validating the last 15 games in ways not necessarily supported by the less-aesthetically attractive nature of some of those wins.

Even a solid performance in a loss would go a long way towards making me feel better about their chances of sneaking into the playoffs. Another moment of opportunity for the Lakers, who haven”t exactly pounced on similar moments this season.

Now everyone write Mark Cuban a nice thank you note, like Kobe did.

(H/T: Forum Blue and Gold for the video)

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