Lakers Grades: February 22-28
Lakers catch fire from 3 in Memphis:
The Lakers were sleepwalking in Memphis for the first two quarters of their game Wednesday, falling down by 19 at the half before Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol and 3-point shooting sparked a turnaround. Farmar suggested to his teammates at halftime that they started going through Gasol in the post and having the offense flow from the inside out. Once Gasol started scoring down low (12 points in the second half), the double teams started coming his way, leading to Gasol finding wide-open teammates on the perimeter. L.A. shot 10-for-16 from deep after the change, cutting the Grizzlies’ lead all the way down to three before falling by five.
The Lakers are a part of history against the Brooklyn Nets:
The 2013-14 season will rather not be remembered by Lakers fans who can always fall back on the memories from 16 championship campaigns, but even in another forgettable loss, there was a moment that should be celebrated forever. Last Sunday, the Brooklyn Nets signed Jason Collins to a 10-day contract and when he checked into the game against the Lakers later that night, Collins became the first openly gay player to appear in a game in one of the four major professional sports in U.S. history. It was an event that will prove much more significant over time than the outcome of the game.
Xavier Henry does a stint in the D-League:
With time ticking away on the season and Xavier Henry set to become a free agent this summer, the pressure was starting to mount on the four-year vet who has been sidelined since Dec. 29 with a bone bruise in his right knee. Obviously, he did not want to return too soon and make his knee worse, but at the same time, it was paramount he get back on the court and prove that his solid start to the season for the Lakers wasn’t an aberration and that he is deserving of a new deal come July 1. With Henry, who had ramped up his workouts in recent weeks, needing a final on-court test before returning, the decision was made to have him play a game with the L.A. D-Fenders, the Lakers’ D-League affiliate, while the Lakers had the day off. The choice worked out. Henry had 15 points and four steals in 23 minutes, opening the door for his return to the varsity squad.
Nick Young’s return from knee injury is short-lived:
Young declared that it was a “miracle” that he was ready to return to the court less than three weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his left knee, as well as a bone bruise and added, “You can’t keep the swag down.” His exuberance didn’t last long, however. Young played 20 minutes against Brooklyn after sitting out six straight games and showed flashes of “Swaggy P,” particularly in being able to draw a foul on baseline fadeaway jumper as well as on a 3-point attempt, but experienced pain and swelling in the knee after scoring just 10 points against the Nets. After the game, Young admitted that he was partly motivated to rush his return because of the sudden glut of shooting guards on the Lakers roster after they acquired Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks. He went back to rehabbing the knee while the Lakers were on their two-game road trip through Indiana and Memphis.
Second half dooms the Lakers against the Pacers:
The Lakers came into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and hung around with the league-leading Pacers for the first half Tuesday, before reckless play robbed them of any chance of a victory over the final two quarters. Indiana outscored L.A. by 17 after halftime and while Bazemore’s career-high 23 points might seem like a bright spot from the game, he actually shot just 4-for-11 in the second half, prompting Gasol to go on a post-game rant criticizing the Lakers’ selfish play and lack of discipline.