Fresh off a streak-ending win over the struggling New Orleans Hornets, the Los Angeles Lakers have a much more formidable opponent standing in their way in the form of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After joining the 30,000 point club en route to a 29-point performance on Wednesday, Bryant is also just 10 points from surpassing Dr. J on the ABA/NBA combined scoring list. Bryant may have to bring his shooting touch against the Thunder. Pau Gasol will rest his knees for the third consecutive game and Dwight Howard’s struggles continue from the free throw line. The Lakers center has gotten so frustrated with advice from teammates about his free throw shooting that he’s even begun shunning advice from point guard Steve Nash, one of the best free throw shooters of all-time.
"My mind cannot get clouded with everybody telling me how to shoot a free throw. I just have to go up there and shoot it my way and not get caught up in what everybody else is saying, because that's when I miss." Howard said.
The Golden State Warriors have played very well in the early going of the 2012-2013 season. They are currently 9-6 and tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for first place in the Pacific Division. Most of that success has come despite the re-aggravation of Center Andrew Bogut’s ankle injury. What was initially diagnosed as just 7-10 days to rest the sore ankle has now become an injury that will keep him out one-to-three months. It was revealed that Bogut actually had microfracture surgery on his ankle, a far more severe procedure than the arthroscopic surgery that had been reported since the time of surgery in April. Bogut hopes to be back before the season is done, but didn’t want to put a definite timetable on his return. With Bogut’s injury, all eyes will fall on Power Forward Carl Landry.
Before Kobe Bryant has a chance to eclipse His Airness, Michael Jordan in rings or on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, he has another ex-high-flying guard to shoot down a peg.
In Bryant’s most recent outing, the Lakers guard put up 40 points in a losing effort. As a result, Bryant begins the weekend against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night just 100 points shy of 30,000 points and is 127 shy of surpassing 70’s and 80’s icon Dr. J on the all-time scoring list.
Surpassing Erving is an accomplishment that likely won’t garner much media attention because the NBA doesn’t recognize ABA statistics besides absorbing a number of its teams. That’s unfortunate for Bryant but more so for Erving, whose accomplishments have been diminished by the ABA’s dissolution.
Bryant has tallied over 11,000 more career NBA points than Erving on the NBA’s career scoring list but those numbers don’t include the 11,662 career points Dr. J tallied as the ABA’s fifth all-time leading scorer.
Erving retired at 37 after 16 seasons in 1987. The 34-year – old Bryant is in his 17th season but has played 67 fewer regular season games.
31 years ago, during the days before social media, Magic Johnson complained through the media that head coach Paul Westhead's high-scoring offense, which carried the Lakers to a championship in his rookie season was too dull. Paul Westhead's firing by the Lakers remainds the most ironic in league history.
Today, Westhead is known as the Guru of Go after his nitrous speed offensive system shattered collegiate and NBA records and Magic is back at his coach killing ways. This time, newly-hired Mike D’Antoni is in Johnson's crosshairs before ever coaching a game.
On Wednesday afternoon, after going on Twitter silence in the wake of D’Antoni’s hiring, Johnson broke his silence with a message heard throughout the Twittersphere: ‘The reason I haven’t tweeted in 2 days is because I’ve been mourning Phil Jackson not being hired as Lakers head coach.’
Johnson then tweeted, ‘My mother always taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’
The Golden State Warriors have become one of the more predictable teams in the NBA. For over a decade, they’ve been a team with some talent, a run ‘n’ gun offense, and an injury-prone group of players. The front office consistently made questionable decisions while the players continuously floundered late in games. This is a team that has not capitalized on its lottery draft picks (Ike Diogu, Patrick O’Bryant, etc…), nor has it had an impactful center. It was easy to predict that the Warriors would have flashes of brilliance, but would be otherwise average. It was easy to pencil them into the 10th to 12th seed in the Western Conference, never quite able to consistently break into the playoffs. But about a week into their 2012-2013 season, this looks nothing like the Warriors of old. We’ll start things off by looking at the center position.