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Lakers E-Clipsed

1:03 am in Lakers, Loss, Road, Staples Center by Wicked Chicken

The Lakers had a big test against their Staples Center roommates and failed. The tide has changed in LA, and it is clear that the Clippers are the superior team. The Clippers came out of the gates and hammered the Lakers in the first quarter and every time the Lakers would make the game close, the Clippers would put on a run and blow it open again.

The Clippers are just faster, more athletic, and far better on the defensive end. The only reason the Lakers even made it a game was because of Kobe’s 43 minutes of phenomenal play dropping 38 points on 15-25 shooting, 3 assists, and 5 steals while guarding Chris Paul most of the game.

Dwight Howard had 21 points and 15 rebounds, Jordan Hill had a nice seven boards and 13 points, and Steve Nash had 12 points and 10 assists. Outside of that, Kobe didn’t get much help. Pau and Metta were each 1-6 shooting and the team shot 6-25 from beyond the arch.

The Mike D’Antoni system does not work with this team. They don’t have the legs, but they still have a ton of proven talent that just need to be used properly. I’m all for pushing the ball off rebounds and steals to catch the defense before they can setup, but they need to run a more tactical set on the offense. Whether it’s Steve Nash pick-and-roll, post ups with Dwight and Pau, or Kobe iso’s. Watching Pau and the rest of the team jack up threes every time they touch the ball is driving me insane.

This not only will help the offense be more efficient, but also the defense as they won’t turn the ball over as much, nor be caught in the frantic chaos ball they are playing now. They can’t keep up with the younger teams in this style of play, so please Mike D, maximize the tremendous talent you have, don’t let your ego force feed a system that doesn’t fit.

Stern dunks on Lakers

10:55 pm in David Stern, Lakers, Trades by The Emperor

Golden Horizons for Team USA

7:13 pm in Lakers by Wilde Sage

Team USA unveiled its pool of players under consideration for the 2012 Olympic games—and it looks like the gold standard is making a comeback. With Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Kobe Bryant, the city of Los Angles has three players whom are likely to make the final team of 12. Here’s a list of the 20 players in the mix.

  • Kobe Bryant
  • LeBron James
  • Kevin Durant
  • Dwight Howard
  • Derrick Rose
  • Chris Paul
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Deron Williams
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Blake Griffin
  • Chris Bosh
  • Kevin Love
  • LaMarcus Aldridge
  • Eric Gordon
  • Rudy Gay
  • Lamar Odom
  • Andrew Iguodala
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Tyson Chandler
  • Chauncey Billups

With Kobe Bryant teaming with Dwight Howard and LeBron James for a second time to compete for the gold, it’s clear that Team USA will have the Midas Touch in London this summer.

Lakers go down in the battle of LA

11:52 pm in Lakers by Wilde Sage

In the Battle of LA, the Clippers used broad brush strokes to change the color of the scene by defeating the Lakers in a city that’s painted with purple and gold. With playoff level intensity, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin dismantled the Laker defense from seemingly ever spot on the floor, propelling the Clippers to a 102-94 victory. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant continued his remarkable play with his fourth straight 40-point game, showing that he still holds the scepter in the NBA. After a heated game, here’s a breakdown of what went down in the city of angles:

  • Chris Paul: CP3 was unstoppable. With 33 points and great game management, CP3 showed why he’s the best pure point guard in the game.
  • Blake Griffin: Griffin straight up abused Pau Gasol and made him his cellmate en route to 22 points and 14 rebounds to go along with a variety of highlights that brought back memories of Dominque Wilkins.
  • Kobe Bryant: Kobe Bryant kept the Lakers in the game, scorching the Clippers with 42 points and seven rebounds. Kobe is the oldest player in league history to score 40-points in four straight game.
  • Pau Gasol: Pau continued to play poorly, failing to bang against the Clipper bigs, heaving up a three-point shot at the 6:57 mark, and dropping a pass from Kobe in the lane in a critical moment during the game, showing he’s not ready to show up when needed. As his opponents continue to blow right past him for easy buckets, let’s just hope the trade winds begin to blow sooner rather than later.

Although the Lakers still own this city, the Clippers owned the Lakers tonight. In a showdown against two Western Conference powerhouses, the Clippers look poised to make a little noise in 2012.

I Love LA!

1:00 am in Andrew Bynum, Home, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Loss, Staples Center by Wicked Chicken

This song has changed from the Lakers anthem to the Clippers by one quick veto of a certain CP3 trade from one team, and then packaged as a holiday gift to their roommates. What a difference a lockout makes.

The Lakers started this preseason just as they finished the 2010-2011 postseason by looking completely shell shocked and confused. I realize this is an abridged training camp and preseason. I realize that the Lakers have a new coach. I realize that there are many new players and that the Lakers are learning a new system, but none of this seemed to stop the Clippers from absolutely embarrassing the “home team” Lakers in front of their Staples Center crowd.

Chris Paul was doing what he does best, breaking down defenses, lobbing passes to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, and once again proving why he is the best point guard in the game today by dropping 19 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, and 5 steals in 24 minutes of play.

Chauncey Billups also looked good by leading the team with 23 points on 5 for 8 shooting with 3 steals and 3 assists in 20 minutes of play.

On the Lakers side there was not much positivity to speak of. Josh McRoberts came in and gave the Lakers a bit of spark with his hustle play and is sure to be a fan favorite. Bynum looked fairly solid with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks. I really like the addition of Jason Kapono as he scored 9 points on 3-5 shooting and looked really confident and natural with his shot. This is an element the Lakers have been missing.

Rookie point guard Darius Morris got a lot of playing time and had some spotty moments of both bad and good. He looked a bit erratic and often was stuck with the ball with the clock winding down, but hit a few clutch shots. My quick assessment of Morris is he has some individual skill, but I didn’t see much team play out of him especially for a point guard who is supposed to be getting others involved. Darius ended up with 11 points on 5-9 shooting, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 turnovers in over 23 minutes of play.

Outside of that, the Lakers looked pretty much horrible. All the hype on Mike Brown’s defense is just that as they gave up 114 points. Kobe had some nice moments with his 22 points, but I didn’t see anything that leads me to believe he is back to his most elite level of play. I don’t want to believe the “father time” decline in Kobe’s game, nor do I want to put too much emphasis on a preseason opener, but his 7 turnovers and lack of game dominance are hard to ignore. I fear there may be some truth that Kobe is not what he once was. Not that I’m saying he’s washed up, but that Kobe is merely a great player, just not the greatest in uniform today.

Gasol picked up right where he left the playoffs last year…pathetic. Even though Pau’s stat line looks decent, outside of a 3 pointer he hit, Gasol didn’t do much positive work. He was weak on the boards and was consistently being bullied around in the paint. Most of his points came from other players setting him up for for wide open layups and dunks. The wrong player was traded while Pau is still standing in a Lakers uniform.

The artist formerly known as Ron Ron may have been the biggest train wreck out there. I’m a huge Ron Artest fan, but Metta World Peace is a different story. He looked lost and desperate going 0-8 and with 3 points.

With all of the player movement in the offseason the Lakers did not address their most pressing issue; the point guard position. Steve Blake was scorched by CP3 and didn’t show any improvement from last year. The Lakers can’t expect to raise the trophy at the end of the year without improving this position. Fisher and Blake will just not cut it anymore. Not in this system, not with the talent at that position from every other team in the NBA.

The NBA’s Shady Dealings

12:48 pm in David Stern, Trades by Wilde Sage

Yahoo! Sports—one of the only media outlets to examine the credibility of the NBA with any degree of objectivity—highlights the league’s shady dealings with the Chris Paul trade. Take a look at an insightful article written by Adrian Wojnarowski—and get the inside scoop at how the NBA appears to be willing to chose winners and losers at all cost.

Read the entire article here: Chris Paul Trade Stained NBA’s Credibility.

Another domino falls

12:11 pm in Lakers, Trades by Wicked Chicken

The Lakers leverage and trade assets went out the window with the Lamar Odom debacle as all Lakers fans can do is longingly watch their title hopes be traded to their Staples center roommates. You know, the Junior Varsity team that gets a pat on the head every year? Well guess what, the Clippers are all grows up now and have a fiercely talented roster headlined by names like Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan, Mo Williams, Chauncey Billups, and of course their newly acquired superstar point guard Chris Paul. Hate to say it, but the big ticket this year could be to see the Clippers, not the Lakers. Can you imagine seeing Jack sitting court side for the Clips? Can you imagine how many sportscenter highlights we’re gonna see of CP3 lobbing to Blake Griffin? Can you imagine if Mitch and crew didn’t put Lamar on the trading block and then deal him for nothing? Lakers fans and staff might be celebrating a superstar acquisition instead of scratching their heads thinking, “now what?”

But at least the Lakers fans can feel comfortable knowing team executives are adding saviors like McBob to the lineup.

Stern goes rogue and stings NBA

2:43 pm in Lakers by Wilde Sage

So this is what corruption looks like? In one heavy-handed swing, David Stern landed a shot that shattered the integrity of the game. After years of conspiracy theories, Stern provided more ammo to support the claim that his game is about controlling and manufacturing outcomes—and not about responsible stewardship. Remember, it was only a couple of years ago that NBA referee Tim Dognhey was shipped away to prison for betting on games he officiated. Back then, Stern called Dognhey a rogue official. Do you believe it now? If the Stern can control player movement after teams follow the rules in the new CBA, what else can he do?

As  social medial networks are ablaze with comments about Stern’s attempt to burn the teams involved in the trade, a few words come to mind to describe how he scorched the NBA’s reputation—again. Corruption. Collusion. Control. It’s one thing to negotiate a CBA that attempts to create greater competitive balance—it’s another thing to intervene in team business when the league doesn’t like the outcome. Yes, the NBA owns the Hornets. But, it placed Dell Demps in charge to manage that team with full autonomy—all in an attempt to avoid a situation like this.

Zach Harper from the Daily Dime Live said: “If this is a case of limiting what a big-market team can do, that sounds like league collusion to me.” Meanwhile, Larry Coon from ESPN stated that: “For whatever reason, Stern is now exercising his power to nix deals he doesn’t like.” Sounds like Stern is crossing the Rubicon, right? As Ramona Shelburne writes in the NBA sets a dangerous precedent, “it simply doesn’t make sense to allow Hornets general manager Dell Demps to negotiate this hard and this deep into this many possible trades for Paul for the league office” to ultimately pull the plug. The magnitude of the move subdues the excitement that naturally comes with the start of a new season and taints the entire NBA operation. With Stern at the helm, possibilities no longer have a shot at becoming a reality. It’s a sad day for the NBA—and it exposes David Stern’s penchant for maintaining a heavy-handed level of control over the game he’s suppose to govern fairly and objectively.

As Yahoo!’s Charles Joel points out, “After a career of bullying players and coaches, mishandling lockout negotiations, dishing out draconian fines and managing a cheating referee scandal, this is how Stern launches the 2011-12 NBA season”? Although Stern is feared by league officials, one is unable to deny that his questionable tactics over the years have damaged the game immeasurably. Perhaps, the lockout was a byproduct of incompetence rather than collusion—but blocking a fairly negotiated trade was an act of corruption. Either way, the NBA must act—and act quickly.

So how does the NBA clean up its own mess? First, it must reverse its decision and allow the trade to happen based on the parameters of the agreement negotiated by the three teams involved. Second, and most importantly, David Stern must step down immediately. The NBA product is too valuable for Stern’s anachronistic approach to keep holding it back. As he has demonstrated through his actions, Stern doesn’t have the ability or intention of maximizing the value of the NBA brand. Regardless of his intentions, it’s never been easier to blow the whistle and make the right call. Stern must go. 

CP3 trade reversed by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert?

10:08 pm in David Stern, Lamar Odom, Trades by The Emperor

Rumors are swirling that the league has reversed the trade involving Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odomm and that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert may be behind it. Although I have no proof of this letter’s legitimacy, there appears to be an email floating around from Gilbert to commissioner Stern asking him to veto the trade. Take a look:

Dan Gilbert's email to Stern

What will Stern get his dirty little hands on next?

Oh, and apparently there’s a petition to reverse the trade reversal.

Is Dwight here yet?

1:31 pm in Lakers by Wilde Sage

With Christmas approaching, everyone knows that Dwight Howard is high on the Laker wish list. In fact, he’s the top prize for every team in the NBA. The good news, however, is that the Lakers actually has a good chance of landing him. Consider the following:

  • D-Howard has no intention to of resigning with the Orlando Magic
  • The Lakers maintain several key trade assets
  • The Lakers appear willing to absorb a bad contract (e.g., Hedo Turkoglu)
  • Sources indicate D-Howard wants to play in LA

Hey, Matt Barnes publicly revealed that he spoke to D-Howard and he confirmed he wanted to come to LA. The rumor mill doesn’t spin any faster when a Laker player gives insights about an actual conversation he had with the player of interest.

So what’s the hold up? Well, player movement doesn’t start until December 9th—and the Dallas Mavericks are looking to play the role of the Grinch. With an arsenal of trade assets, the defending champs are among the few teams that appear willing to trade for D-Howard without getting assurance that the player will sign long-term contract. This might appear to be highly risky move by the Mavs, but it’s one that’s likely to result in another championship.

Nonetheless, all indications point in LA’s direction—and despite the talk about  about the young talent on the Clippers—there’s no top five player in the league willing to go to play second fiddle to a team that shares the same floor. That’s about as disastrous to a players brand as Nero playing fiddle as Rome goes up in flames. Teaming with Kobe on one of the most prestigious teams in professional sports is certainly more appealing than playing a team that needs its own identity—let alone its own city. While we’re at it, it’s important to note that the Lakers are looking at landing CP3 as well. Now, that’s not bad for a stocking stuffer.