Lakers’ Week 9 in review
The Lakers finished Week 9 back at .500 (15-15) after winning six of seven.
Coach Mike D’Antoni and the Lakers began to rediscover Pau Gasol and how his passing in the high post can work with both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
The Lakers beat the Knicks on Christmas Day 100-94, a tight battle that was put away by Gasol’s dunk with 11.6 seconds left in the game. The game pulled in big ratings for ABC.
After a difficult start to the season, Gasol said he feels the Lakers are “on the right path.” Of course not everything was perfect as the ache in Gasol’s foot was diagnosed as plantar fasciitis.
The Lakers would fall hard to the Nuggets in Denver the following night 126-114. Howard was ejected for a flagrant foul with a push to the face of Kenneth Faried.
With four flagrant-foul points, Howard is just two away from an automatic suspension. He escaped with a $35,000 fine for the foul on Faried.
Once the dust settled, Howard vowed to be more accountable for his actions. In a positive for the team, his free-throw shooting in December showed significant improvement.
The loss to the Nuggets wasn’t a surprise. Most teams lose in Denver on the second night of back-to-backs.
The Lakers rebounded from their defeat to the Nuggets with a dominating win over the Portland Trail Blazers 104-87, although afterwards Antawn Jamison admitted he was unhappy at his benching, another DNP-Coach’s Decision.
Jamison would later apologize for the critical comments.
Instead of Jamison, D’Antoni is investing in second-year guard Darius Morris, who has become the team’s starting two-guard. Kobe Bryant has slid to small forward with Metta World Peace coming off the bench.
One of the true highlights of the week was the retiring of Jamaal Wilkes’ jersey at halftime of the Blazers game. His No. 52 will stand directly to the left of Magic Johnson’s No. 32 in the rafters at Staples Center.
Not only did the Lakers start to win consistently with the return of Nash and Gasol, but both players also put up major assist numbers together, changing the complexion of the team.
Kobe Bryant’s ad for Turkish Airlines with Lionel Messi hit 101 million views on YouTube. Bryant briefly took over the @nikebasketball Twitter feed. The Lakers All-Star guard admitted he’s not quite ready to commit to starting his own Twitter account.
The Lakers released an app for Android and iOS devices. Metta World Peace asked children for advice in “Metta World Therapy.”
The league announced their second set of All-Star ballot returns, revealing Bryant has overtaken LeBron James as the leading vote-getter by about 7,000 votes.
Jerry West said he “never worked a day in my life,” as a player, manager and owner in the sport he loved. Matt Barnes called his time with the Lakers (primarily with Coach Mike Brown) a “bad situation.”
The Lakers head into Week 10 back in contention for a playoff spot, just a game behind the sixth-seeded Houston Rockets.
Dwight Howard hitting free throws at a higher rate
Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni investing in guard Darius Morris
Lakers getting big assist numbers from Steve Nash, Pau Gasol
Email Eric Pincus at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.
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