Events That Drastically Changed Course of the LA Lakers' Season
For the Los Angeles Lakers, the 2012-13 season has been tumultuous, to say the least. With the team experiencing its fair share of ups and downs, there have been key events this season that have stood out and have, in one way or another, affected the direction of the Lake Show.
Certain instances this season have brought smiles to our faces, or have just made us all that much angrier at a team with what was thought to be a squad with unlimited potential.
This will break down each major event in the Lakers' current campaign and will analyze the role each event played in LA's progress. Who knows? Maybe these occurrences have affected the purple and gold more than we thought.
Down with Brown, but Will We Like Mike?
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After a disappointing 1-4 start to the season, the Lakers gave head coach Mike Brown the old heave-ho, ending his failed experiment to introduce LA to the Princeton offense. Brown's strategies gave much to wonder; the team's offense was staggering, and the Lakers' defense began to falter and became borderline non-existent.
Once Brown was fired, rumors of the zen master himself, Phil Jackson began to surface. At one point, the possibility of Phil coming back to the Lakers yet again seemed as not a matter of if, but when. However, in one of the most memorable swerves in recent memory, LA hired former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni to lead the team.
The Lakers had a slow start under D'Antoni, going 2-3 in his first five games, but what made this connection so special was the reunion with Steve Nash, D'Antoni's proverbial golden boy. Since D'Antoni's hiring, LA has progressively gained momentum and has shown some significant improvement on both ends of the court.
It seems as though D'Antoni's guidance could very well lead the Lakers to yet another postseason berth.
Down Goes Gasol!...and Nash!...and Howard for a Little Bit!
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It's blatantly obvious that health and physical consistency have not been in the Lakers' favor this season. The team has had to battle injuries and health scares all season long, and it has, unfortunately, translated to their performance on the court.
Pau Gasol has taken the brunt of the Lakers' hits this season, almost quite literally. Gasol has been down with concussions, knee injuries and everything in between, and much doubt has risen as to whether or not the big man has it in him to dominate like he once used to.
Steve Nash's age has finally caught up to him, showing signs of wear and tear and have slightly slowed down his production on the court. The 39-year-old point guard has had everything banged up this season, specifically his back, leg and hip. He is currently sitting on the bench nursing his back injury, and his return is imminent.
Even Dwight Howard, one of the team's youngest and most promising players, wasn't safe from the injury bug. Many believe that Howard returned too quickly from his offseason back surgery and may still be feeling the effects of his hasty decision. On top of that, D12 has had to nurse an aching shoulder and occasionally plays like damaged goods on the court. Of course, this occurrence is rare, but the speculation is present.
Lakers Revamp Their Offense Yet Again...and It Works?!
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After trying what seemed to be just about everything strategically possible, D'Antoni and Co. changed the Lakers' offense one more time. In this latest incarnation, LA tried a strategy that involved less of Kobe Bryant's high-powered shooting and more of his skills as a facilitator.
Bryant began to assist more and shoot less, ensuring that his teammates were always in prime scoring position and only making the big shots when needed. This offense allowed for low-laying talent to arise, such as the case of one Earl Clark.
With the offensive focus being off of Bryant for once, this allowed for Clark to shine on the court. Clark provided the speed, youth and agility the Lakers needed to finally show some progress. Team cohesion finally began to make itself present, and the pieces finally began to come together on offense.
Playoff Aspirations Finally Become Reality
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With their revamped offense and their newfound chemistry as a team, the Lakers were finally able to accomplish a feat that has been the quintessential highlight of the team's success this season: They reached .500.
Once that landmark was reached, the Lakers quickly began to show momentum. Wins over teams like the Atlanta Hawks and the New Orleans Hornets were good enough to put the Lakers over the .500 mark and into the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Since then, LA has been playing quality basketball. Sure, the team still struggles against the marquee teams of the West, but at least there are finally some signs of progress being shown.
Fighting to Stay Alive
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Despite finally showing some signs of life in the playoff hunt, the Lakers are still experiencing trouble when facing the higher-caliber teams in the West, most recently against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers have had the Lakers' number all season, and the Lakers have had no answer for Lob City at all. Against other contenders like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs, LA has had some serious trouble in trying to find an answer for their powerful offense and their constant fast-paced style of playing.
What will happen if the Lakers face any of these teams in the playoffs? Will they have an answer for them, or will it be an exit that's as quick as their entrance into the postseason?
From this point forward, every game LA plays will be a small part in the answer to this riddle.