Tag Archives: Steve Blake

Trail Blazers Damian Lillard

New Era For The Portland Trail Blazers

Blazers LillardThe Portland Trailblazers begin the 2014-15 NBA campaign thinking that they belong with the elite teams in the West. After winning 54 games last year that assured them a spot in the playoffs where they were knocked off in the second round by the NBA champions San Antonio Spurs they realized we could play with anyone. Even after the Blazers had a rough March last year they still won nine of their last ten games to clinch the West’s fifth seed in the playoffs. Making a strong run at the end of the year and an aggressive showing in the playoffs gave them something to look forward to in their upcoming year. Portland’s ability to remain strong and willingness to work together is one reason why last year turned out the way it did. Returning almost the entire roster from last year will be a definite plus this year.

LaMarcus AldridgeAll-stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damien Lillard will help to lead the charge to a new campaign this year. The Blazers used their fourth-year option on Lillard at point guard. Lillard who made the All-star team after only his second year in the league will bring a 20.7 point average to the court to lead the Blazers. He also averaged 5.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds in his second year campaign. He will be backed up by Steve Blake who is beginning his third year with the Blazers. Blake became a fan favorite during his first two years in Portland. Blake signed a two year deal after splitting the season last year with Lakers and Warriors. He averaged 6.9 points and 5.6 assists last year.

The middle looks to be strong with the return of Robin Lopez in the 2014-15 campaign. This seven foot center in his sixth year will bring a strong 11 point average to the court. With almost 9 rebounds each game he will be a strong center to contend with. Portland also brought in Chris Kaman another seven footer to back up Lopez. Kaman has been around for 11 years in the league with almost 12 points and 8 rebounds in the paint for an impressive average. Look for the Blazers to find ways to have both of these seven footers on the court together at times.

Rip City Trail BlazersLast year the Blazers were not expected to make to the playoffs not to mention making it to the second round. To help the make it to the playoffs they won 21 more games last year than they did in the previous year. Look for the locker room leadership and presence Robin Lopez to make an impact with the Blazers giving them the leadership and confidence they will need to be a strong force in the NBA in the 2014-15 season. Even after starting the preseason 0-2 look for the Blazers to have it together October 29th when Blazers will host the Thunder in their regular-season opener.

Chris M.

Lakers Face Durant and Howard This Week

Lakers Tickets Courtside

Lakers Bulls

With Steve Nash and Steve Blake in the fold things might be looking up, at least a little bit, for the Los Angeles Lakers. Nash and Blake returned to the Lakers lineup on Tuesday night in Minnesota, with Nash making his season debut. The depleted Lakers ended up losing Tuesday night at the hands of the Timberwolves, but then went on to win two in a row on the road before losing at home Sunday versus the Chicago Bulls.

Week Recap: Even with the return of Nash and Blake the Lakers continue to be the most snake bit team in the NBA when it comes to losing players. The return of their two point guards coincided with the loss of Nick Young and Jodie Meeks to injury. Wednesday’s night win in Cleveland saw Robert Sacre of the Lakers stay in the game after fouling out, a rarely seen NBA rule, due to the fact the Lakers had just five players left. After already losing Nick Young to injury and Jordan Farmar to leg cramps the Lakers were down to five players after Chris Kaman fouled out. Even with a depleted roster the Lakers hit a season-high 18 three-point shots to defeat the Cavaliers and former Head Coach Mike Brown. Los Angeles continued their winning ways Friday night with a fourteen point defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers behind 19 points from Steve Nash on his 40th birthday. Steve Blake contributed 14 points and 8 assists in the victory. Even without Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol the return of Nash and Blake is a welcome sight for Lakers fans. The Lakers returned home Sunday to face a competitive Chicago Bulls team, losing a tough one, 92-86. Chicago ran out to a nineteen point lead and the Lakers rallied back but couldn’t close the gap in the end, losing despite a season-high 27 points from Chris Kaman. Unfortunately for the Lakers they may have lost Steve Nash again for a short period of time. Nash knocked knees with Kirk Hinrich in the third quarter, causing his knee to flare up once again. He’ll be evaluated and may miss a couple of games.

Lakers Tickets Staples Center

Staples Center

The Week Ahead: The Lakers have a big home stretch coming up with five games at STAPLES Center over the next two weeks, including two with key Western Conference contenders. Los Angeles kicks off the week Tuesday night when they host the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are coming off of an impressive home victory over the Miami Heat. Thursday night Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder make a visit to STAPLES Center, giving Lakers fans a chance to see the NBA’s leading MVP candidate in action. Following the All Star Break the Lakers return home next week when they face off versus the Houston Rockets in a game that many Lakers fans have had circled on the calendar since last summer. Wednesday will mark the return of former Lakers center Dwight Howard to STAPLES Center. The gifted big man, who had an up and down season in LA last year, has teamed with James Harden to put the Rockets in the fourth playoff position in the west. Lakers Vs Rockets tickets start at just $48 per ticket. The Lakers wrap up the following week by hosting the Boston Celtics on Friday and the New Jersey Nets on Sunday. With five games including four playoff contenders it will be a big ten days of basketball for Lakers fans. Chris Michaels.

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Lakers defeat Clippers in 2013 Home Opener

Battle For LA Game

Battle For LA


The Clippers coronation as Los Angeles’s dominant professional basketball may not be complete just yet. In a dramatic fourth quarter that saw the Lakers play five reserves and outscore the Clippers 41-24, the Lakers pulled away for an impressive 116-103 victory in the season opener for both clubs. Led by free agency signee Xavier Henry the Lakers bench scored seventy-six points, the most points scored by a group of Lakers reserves since 1988. It was a career high in points scored for Henry, a third year player out of the University of Kansas who was released by the New Orleans Hornet and signed by the Lakers in September. Jordan Farmar added sixteen off the bench for the Lakers. It was another interesting edition to the Clippers/Lakers rivalry, where one of the league’s greatest franchises suddenly finds itself in the role of underdog. With a trip to Golden State and then a visit by the San Antonio Spurs coming the Lakers may return back to earth quickly, but on opening night their energy and bench play lit up the STAPLES Center.

For fans of the Clippers the opening night loss may be an aberration or a sign that it might take a bit of time for Doc Rivers to implement his system. The Clippers opted for a smaller lineup with Ryan Hollins getting very little playing time (four minutes) and Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens not seeing the floor. When Rivers chose to rest center DeAndre Jordan the Clippers interior defense was lacking. As expected the Clippers were extremely efficient offensively, as they should be all season. They scored fifty-seven points in the first half, but led by only two points due to the Lakers all-around hustle and ability to get second chance points. One big stat was their 52-40 rebounding advantage, a category the Clippers may struggle with all season if they choose to continue to play a small-ball lineup. The Lakers simply out-sized and out-hustled the Clippers inside, with Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman combining for eleven offensive boards off the bench.

Much of the Clippers struggles can be chalked up to an adjustment to Doc Rivers’ system. For all the criticism that Mike D’Antoni has received the Lakers have had the opportunity to play in his system for nearly a year. Offensively the Clippers will be fine, it’s the defensive adjustments that will take some time. The Clippers had trouble defending the three-point shot last season and that didn’t change last season as the Lakers made fourteen of twenty-nine three pointers. The Lakers had a high number of open looks and knocked them down, running D’Antoni’s offense to perfection. Whether it was the Lakers effective rotation, or the Clippers just not executing the defense properly, the Lakers had too many wide open looks. NBA players will knock down open jump shots. The Clippers defense is clearly a work in progress, they’ll need to shore up how they guard the perimeter. Beyond the defensive concerns Clippers faithful are wondering if Blake Griffin is ready to make the next step in his evolution as a great player. Griffin struggled at the line, 3 for 10, and still lacks fluidity in his jump shot. In the fourth quarter when the Lakers made their run Griffin had zero points and zero rebounds. For the Clippers to leap into NBA title contention they’ll need bigger production from their star power forward.

For the Lakers it was an impressive start. The fact that no one believes they are a legit playoff team can be a motivating factor. They can’t expect many games like the bench had on Tuesday night, but the Lakers do seem to have injected some live into the roster. With Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman they have some nice size to back up Pau Gasol. They’ll struggle against elite backcourts, like the Golden State Warriors, until Kobe gets back. We’ll know a lot more about the Lakers after the play the Warriors and the Spurs, two strong Western Conference contenders.

Clippers Vs Lakers Tickets for their next meeting on Lakers home court Jan 10th 2014 are available now.

By:Chris Michaels

Lakers 2013-2014 NBA Season Playoff Chances

Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers

What a difference a season makes. Just twelve months ago the Los Angeles Lakers were seen by many as potential NBA title favorites. In a classic Lakers move the franchise added superstar center Dwight Howard to a lineup that already included three veteran superstars, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. The Lakers were so confident that former swingman Metta World Peace predicted 73 wins. The rest of the NBA was shaking their heads at another classic Lakers instant rebuild. Flash forward a year later and the team is in potential disarray with an unknown future. Dwight Howard is a member of the Houston Rockets. Kobe Bryant is recovering from a potential career ending injury. Steve Nash is going on forty and coming off an injury filled season. Metta World Peace is now a member of the New York Knicks.

So what’s in store for the Los Angeles Lakers this season? What will the team look like a year from now? Here are five stories to follow as the Lakers kick off the 2013-2014 season next Tuesday night versus the Clippers. You can get special Discount Codes for Battle For LA Lakers Vs Clippers Tickets now.

Kobe Bryant’s Health: In a season full of injuries and inconsistency Kobe Bryant put together a tremendous, MVP-like regular season. Although his game was diminished on the defensive end, Bryant was as effective as ever offensively. Typically when a player goes out with an Achilles injury it’s safe to write them off for nearly a year—not Kobe Bryant of course. The Lakers expect their star back much sooner than expected, perhaps even this calendar year. How quickly and effectively Bryant returns is the most significant factor for the Lakers this season. A healthy and effective Bryant can lead them to the playoffs. If he’s not the same player the Lakers have to think about the future.

What to do with Pau Gasol: Dwight Howard has come and gone while Pau Gasol remains. The veteran Spaniard remains one of the best big men in basketball. Without Howard clogging up the middle Gasol will be the number one option in the post. He’s an effective scorer, passer and all around efficient offensive force. If the team stays healthy and Kobe Bryant returns ahead of schedule they may have the veteran core to challenge for the playoffs. If last season’s frustrations are repeated the Lakers have a trade-able asset in Gasol. Gasol is in a contract year and resigning him will eliminate some of the cap space they have for next year’s free agent push. Trading him will also put the club under the luxury threshold, a tempting proposition, especially if the Lakers are under .500.

Improved Bench? The Lakers had very little depth last season. An aging team that only went eight deep was an issue. With limited cap space Mitch Kupchak did his best to rebuild the bench. Chris Kaman will provide capable size, defense and hustle in the post. Nick Young and Wesley Johnson are athletic wings who can hit the three point shot. It’s not a lot to work with but there is more quickness and youth than last season. Many are predicting a breakout year from Young as a wing off the bench. If the veteran starters stay healthy it’s a perfectly respectable bench. If the Lakers suffer injuries to the top rotation and the bench is thrust into regular duty like last season the Lakers will struggle.

Mike D’Antoni: The decision to go with D’Antoni to replace Mike Brown wasn’t a popular one. The perception was that D’Antoni’s system wasn’t conducive to the Lakers roster and the fact he isn’t a defensive minded coach were valid points. Howard clearly didn’t work out in the D’Antoni system, and he’s moved on as a result. The Lakers lack of youth will remain and issue, especially on the defensive end of the court. A second year in the D’Antoni system, combined with an offseason to mold the team in his favor, should benefit the club. Still if the Lakers get off to a weak start and struggle D’Antoni may not be long for the sidelines.

Next Year’s Draft: Next June’s draft is considered one of the deepest drafts in years with several prospective “can’t miss” prospects. Players such as Andrew Wiggins, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker and Andrew Harrison are seen as potential NBA All-Stars. If Kobe Bryant doesn’t return as soon or as effective as the Lakers would like the franchise may make the logical decision to trade Pau Gasol and build for the future. With only Robert Sacre and Nick Young on the books after next season the Lakers could very well re-sign Bryant, earn a high lottery pick, and then have the choice to sign two potential max-players—such as Lebron James.

Prediction: Too much of the Lakers success is based on the giant question mark surrounding the return of Kobe Bryant. He Lakers star has continually proved people wrong over the years and has an incredible work ethic. Expect Bryant to return earlier than expected and to put together a solid season. The Lakers will be better than many predict and will fight for one of the final playoff spots in the west.

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By:Chris Michaels