The Los Angeles Lakers are in a groove right now, having won five of their last six games to move above .500 for the first time this season. They beat the Hawks 107-106 at home on Sunday night, thanks to a game-saving block from center Tyson Chandler, who recently signed with the team after being bought out by the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers' win streak comes as one of their veteran signings has been notably absent. It's our jumping off point for the latest roundup of Lakers news.
Michael Beasley Misses Another Game
Veteran forward Michael Beasley hasn't played for the Lakers since making a brief appearance against the Denver Nuggets on October 25th. He was absent for personal reasons which haven't been elaborated upon, but it looked like he might be ready to return to competition after rejoining the Lakers in practice last week.
He was warming up with the team before Sunday's game against the Hawks, but LakersNation.com's Matthew Moreno reports he had to leave before tip-off to deal with what the team is calling a family health matter.
Beasley has played all of 11 minutes for the team this season. The hope was he could generate instant offense off the bench as a forward/center, but the Lakers are playing just fine without him. Minutes in the paint are also going to be harder to come by with Chandler making a big impact on the defensive end, an area where Beasley's game suffers.
It's unclear if this family health matter is related to Beasley's earlier absence from the team this season. Beasley is on a one-year deal with the Lakers, so it's very possible the team parts ways with him if he can't get back to the court in time to prove he is needed in the rotation.
Magic Johnson Comments on Lakers' Winning Ways
The current Lakers hot streak clearly has fans excited for the team's potential. It's been a long time since L.A. resembled anything close to a threat in the Western Conference.
However, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, who knows a thing or two about winning basketball, had one simple reason for people to not get overly excited.
"It's still early," he told TMZ.com after Sunday's thrilling win over Atlanta.
Over the last six games, the Lakers have won only one game (Saturday against the Kings) by double digits. Winning is nice, but it's not like the purple and gold are running teams out of the building. The toughest team they have faced in this recent stretch was the 12-1 Toronto Raptors, who handily beat the Lakers 121-107.
It's understandable that folks are getting excited about the Lakers' chances this season—Sunday's win moved them to 7-6, good for eighth place in the West—but there isn't any reason to believe (yet) that the Lakers will be toppling the best teams in the league on a regular basis.
Lakers, Hawks Wear "Enough" Shirts
Both the Lakers and the Hawks wore black T-shirts Sunday night to honor the victims of the Thousand Oaks shooting in California, where a gunman shot and killed 12 people at a bar on Nov. 7. Thousand Oaks is a city in Ventura County, close to Los Angeles.
The T-shirts had the names of the 12 victims on the back with the word "Enough" on the front. NBA commissioner Adam Silver was at the Lakers game on Sunday night and said he supported the players' decision to wear the shirts.
"As I've always said, our players aren't just ballplayers, they're citizens," said Silver, per ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk. "They have strong feelings about what's happening in society and they react to them. I think this was something that was a groundswell within the league. It came from the players and it spread by word of mouth from one team to another."
LeBron James shared his feelings on the mass shooting and gun violence in the United States, per Youngmisuk:
"Probably the same that went through everybody's mind: 'Not again.' Or: 'Wow. What the hell?'" James said of what he initially thought when he heard the news of the shooting not far from where he plays and lives. Probably some more explicit terms that I won't say right here. It's just how do we clean up this. ... It all comes back to this gun situation that we have in America and gun violence. I don't want to go into that right now, but I can do it at a later point. We know that these people are just being able to go and buy guns and do things with them, and innocent lives are being taken at young ages. Young ages."