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What Can The Lakers Expect From Kobe Bryant’s Return?

Kobe Bryant

Kobe

After consecutive days of practice where he was able to fully participate in team activities all signs point towards a potential Kobe Bryant return Sunday at home versus the Toronto Raptors. With the Lakers off to a solid start and the look of a potential Western Conference playoff contender the return of their superstar from an Achilles injury suffered last April versus the Golden State Warriors should give the franchise an additional boost. After a difficult playoff exit that involved a sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs and the loss of center Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets tmany pundits were critical of the Lakers chances heading into the 2013-2014 season. After remaking the roster with limited resources to do so the Lakers are in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference and in a position to make a potential playoff run.

The big question is what can the Lakers expect from Bryant when he returns? Bryant isn’t the first NBA superstar to return from a torn Achilles. Four well known players who have suffered the injury and returned are Dominique Wilkins, Isiah Thomas, Chauncey Billups and Elton Brand. For Wilkins and Thomas, the results were mixed. Wilkins, the former Atlanta Hawks superstar suffered his injury at the age of thirty-two and returned nine months later, playing an additional seven seasons and averaging nearly thirty points a game in the season he returned. Thomas, the former Detroit Pistons Hall of Famer suffered the injury fourteen seasons into his career and never returned. Elton Brand returned and played an additional seven seasons but never had the same explosiveness. Bryant, known for his incredible work ethic, has aggressively rehabbed the injury and all indications from Lakers practice are that he’s ready to return to the NBA.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak did a solid job this offseason adding to the roster to inject some youth and athleticism into the roster. The Lakers now go as much as ten players deep with no one on the roster averaging more than thirty-minutes per game. Bryant will be able to smoothly work his way back into the rotation but unlike last season the Lakers won’t be forced to play their superstar more minutes than they’d like. Last season Bryant averaged 38.6 minutes per game, his highest number in nearly five seasons. The Lakers renewed depth will allow D’Antoni to slowly build up Bryant’s minutes as the Lakers contend for and hopefully reach the playoffs. The fewer minutes should make Bryant more efficient on both the offensive and defensive ends. He had a wonderful season last year but by most indications his defense suffered. Like most veteran players Bryant has reached the point where he has to pick his spots defensively and conserve his energy. Fewer minutes should allow Bryant to maximize his energy on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. With the addition of Wesley Johnson, Nick Young, Xavier Henry and Jordan Farmar (once he returns from injury) the Lakers have more options off the bench to spell Bryant. At the same time the Lakers young players, especially Young and Johnson, should benefit from the presence of Bryant. Johnson, a former fourth overall draft pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves, is a tremendous athlete with the ability to defend several positions on the court and hit the three point shot. Nick Young, a Los Angeles native, has provided instant offense off the bench and given the Lakers a go-to perimeter player down the stretch. When Bryant returns he’ll be able to once again take over the crunch time duties and allow Young to come in and provide a scoring touch when Bryant rests. The Lakers depth should also allow them to not have to play Bryant in back-to-back nights until he works himself back into game shape.

Kobe Bryant Black Mamba

Black Mamba

In addition to his customary shooting guard/small forward role, Head Coach Mike D’Antoni indicated that Bryant may play some point guard upon his return, signaling the fact that the return of Steve Nash be not be as soon as the return of Bryant. With Jordan Farmar on the shelf for at least the next month the Lakers need an option to spell current starting point guard Steve Blake. Sliding Bryant into an occasional point guard role will not upset the Lakers current rotation and give them a bigger lineup that could provide some defensive challenges for Western Conference teams with smaller back courts.

If Bryant does return Sunday versus the Toronto Raptors he’ll have a fired up STAPLES Center crowd and consecutive home games to get ready for a tough slate of upcoming games. Following the matchup with Rudy Gay and the Raptors the Lakers host the surprising Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night. Following the Suns game the Lakers have three days off before they head out on a road trip that includes four games in five days. The road trip kicks off with a high profile matchup in Oklahoma City versus Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. With a manageable schedule prior the Lakers could very well head into Oklahoma City multiple games over the .500 record mark. After the Lakers face the Thunder they have to travel to Charlotte to face the Bobcats in a back-to-back. As much as Bryant would love to play against the team built by his boyhood idol Michael Jordan it’s hard to imagine the Lakers playing him in back-to-back night so soon after his return. The Lakers will spend the weekend on the east coast followed by consecutive games at Atlanta and Memphis before they return home to STAPLES Center to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, December 20th.

The big date on the Lakers calendar is the Christmas Day visit to STAPLES Center by Lebron James and the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. If Bryant can return Sunday night versus the Raptors he’ll have just over two weeks to prepare for the Heat and the traditional nationally televised Christmas Day games. If the Lakers can properly manage the next three weeks of games they’ll be well positioned to charge into the New Year as legitimate playoff contenders.

Dont miss the return of the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant! Use Promo Code KOBERETURNS on Lakers Tickets and save up to 20% on your guaranteed authentic seats!
By:Chris Michaels

Dwight Howard and the Lakers face Paker and the Spurs today

Lakers Vs Spurs Playoff Tickets

Lakers Vs Spurs Playoff Tickets

After a miraculous run during the last weeks of the regular season the Los Angeles Lakers ended up even higher then they were expected to be. They finished 7th in the Western Conference and now the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs are on their way to another challenging run, this time in the Playoffs.
The momentum for LA is big. Not only did they manage to make it to the Playoffs after losing their superstar Kobe Bryant and also after being almost paralyzed by the constant injuries this season. They also topped the Houston Rockets in the season finale and clinched the 7th seed. This could turn out to be crucial for their post-season course. The reason for that is no other than the fact that they avoided the sizzling Oklahoma City Thunder, at least for the moment.

Despite that there was a huge gap on the record table between the Spurs and the Lakers, one could notice that San Antonio is a much more preferable opponent for LA.

The Spurs edged the season series 2-1 but it was nowhere near an easy job for them. In fact San Antonio won the first matchup by just a two point deficit and also the second one by just three. Both of the games were decided by details and could have easily turned the other way around. Also, during their latest meeting, the Lakers got a must-win game without Kobe. That game was a preview of what’s going to be the story in the upcoming series.

The blueprint for the Lakers’ success is simple. Everybody needs to step up. Of course, much load will be on the shoulders of Dwight Howard. He will need to reach the monstrous performances he had during his Orlando Magic days. He is more that capable of dominating the paint, even with an ever young Tim Duncan on the opposite side. After the injury of the Black Mamba, D-12 has exceled his offensive rhythm. His accuracy from the charity stripe will also play a big role. Every detail counts during the Playoffs and his below-50% shooting from the line could be one of them.

Of course Howard will need some help. Fortunately, his teammates have showed some urgency during the last games. The encouraging fact for LA is that they expect Steve Nash to be ready for Game 1. They will need their entire available arsenal to beat their opponents. Gasol also will be a key player in the series. The two-time NBA Champion has to step up as another strong presence inside and help Howard in rebounding.
On the other side, Gregg Popovic has a few headaches on his head. Parker and Ginobili came back from injuries, but it still remains to be seen if they are at their full strength. Also, despite their great course this season, his team encountered some serious problems when playing against the Lakers in their previous matchups. The addition of the T-Mac of course only adds to the team’s firepower. The Spurs will have the pressure on their side as they are considered to be the favorites. Shall they slip one of their first two games, they will lose home court advantage and then the momentum suddenly will be on LA’s side.
With the drama of the regular season disappeared after the capture of the 7th seed, the road ahead has no limits for LA. Even without Kobe and despite not having their ideal lineup – the one that was projected to make them almost unbeatable – the Lakers can still respond well to yet another challenge and advance to the next round.

First game of the series tips off on Sunday the 21th of April at San Antonio and the two teams play again on Wednesday. Then the series move to the Staples Center on Friday the 26th and Sunday the 28th. If necessary, the next games will take place on Tuesday the 30th, Thursday the 2nd of May and the last game will be on the 4th of May.

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Showdown at Staples Center 7:30pm Tonight

Preview: L.A. Lakers At L.A. Clippers
When: 10:30 PM ET, Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

You can purchase Clippers Vs Lakers Tickets for tonights game.

THE STORY: An all-Los Angeles tilt at this time of year usually means a lot more to the Lakers than it does to the Clippers. But with both L.A.-based teams jockeying for playoff positioning, Wednesday’s game carries significance for everyone as the Lakers and Clippers do battle at the Staples Center. The Lakers sit third in the Western Conference but are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the streaking Clippers, who have won six in a row. Lakers center Andrew Bynum hopes to return to action after sitting out missing Wednesday’s near-collapse against New Jersey with an ankle injury.

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Fox Sports San Diego

ABOUT THE LAKERS (34-20): It took a late surge from Kobe Bryant for Los Angeles to get past the Nets after squandering all of a 17-point advantage. Head coach Mike Brown noted this wasn’t the first time his club was caught napping. “We feel as a group that when we do get a double-digit lead, we tend to relax a little bit,” coach Mike Brown said. “The other team, they’re going to amp it up, take chances and be more physical. Next thing you know, it’s a three-point game.”

ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (32-21): Los Angeles is enjoying its longest winning streak in more than 20 years, but a bigger milestone awaits. A win Wednesday would give the Clippers its first season-series win over the Lakers since the 1992-93 campaign – a development that could have a major impact on the team’s confidence level moving forward. Los Angeles is coming off an impressive 94-75 win over the defending-champion Mavericks, a game that saw the Clippers hold the Dallas Mavericks to 39 percent from the field.

BUZZER BEATERS:

1. Bryant, who leads the NBA in scoring, averages 25.5 points on 45.8-percent shooting in 59 career meetings with the Clippers.

2. The Lakers are 8-8 on zero days rest so far this season, while the Clippers boast a 19-9 mark on one day of rest.

3. The over has prevailed in each of the last four meetings between the clubs.

PREDICTION: Clippers 105, Lakers 101.