Lakers’ Week 17 in review

An image of Jerry Buss looks down on the statue of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as people gathered at L.A. Live for a memorial service for Buss.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The week opened with the sad news that Lakers owner Jerry Buss had passed away.

The NBA world responded with an outpouring of appreciation for Buss and his legacy. Jerry West said he was “blessed” to work for Buss.

The Lakers will wear a commemorative patch to honor Buss for the remainder of the season. A memorial service was held Thursday, with a massive turnout of Lakers legends.


Former Lakers coach and Miami Heat President Pat Riley said he was always thankful that Buss said “yes” to him on the bench.

In their first game of the week (on Wednesday), the Lakers defeated the rival Boston Celtics, 113-99. Kobe Bryant spoke to the crowd at Staples Center before the game.

After the victory, Bryant said the team needs to carry on the vision of Buss.

The Lakers won their second straight game Friday, defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 111-107. Steve Nash tweaked his back in the game, shooting just two for 11 from the field -- although he hit the Lakers’ go-ahead basket with 1:44 left in the game.

As the trade deadline neared earlier in the week, General Manager Mitch Kupchak reiterated that Howard would not be traded. Howard was still noncommittal on his Lakers’ future, but he did say he can see himself as part of the team’s future.

Howard’s relationship with Kupchak may be more important in the long term than how well he bonds with Steve Nash and Bryant. The Lakers center also noted that his conditioning has been “one of the biggest factors” for the team’s struggles as he still works his way back from back surgery.

The trade deadline passed Thursday without a Lakers’ deal. The team saw two trade exceptions expire. The Lakers’ Jordan Hill disabled player exception, which expires in March, can still be used to sign a free agent.

The Lakers closed out a win Sunday in Dallas against the Mavericks, 103-99, riding the hot hand of Kobe Bryant. Bryant was called for his league-leading 13th technical foul of the season -- three away from a one-game suspension.

Earlier in the week, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested that the Lakers might consider using their one-time amnesty clause on Kobe Bryant. Naturally the Lakers were not happy with Cuban’s comments. After the Lakers’ victory, Kobe Bryant gave him a little ribbing on Twitter.

In other news, Pau Gasol said he has made good progress with his foot injury (torn plantar fascia). Phil Jackson chimed in to say the Lakers aren’t using Dwight Howard properly.

Given the team’s poor first half to the season, oddsmakers said the Lakers were a sizable longshot to win the NBA title. In the Lakers’ chase to get into at least eighth place, a Golden State Warriors’ slump may open another possible window.

Bryant guaranteed the Lakers would make the playoffs, and his teammates backed him up on that vow. He also agreed with Michael Jordan that titles are the true measure of greatness.

Bryant did hint about life after basketball that could start around the ages of 35-36 years old. Bryant will turn 35 in August.

Leading into the Academy Awards, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gave his critique of “Django Unchained.”

Finally, the NBA revamped its website with a wealth of statistical data -- including box scores dating to the 1946-47 season.


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