As expected, Lakers fans booed their one time big man who bolted for the Houston Rockets, Dwight Howard. Lakers fans let Dwight have it. Everything from Dwight sucks, Howard sucks, Get out of town, can’t make free throws, Howard heard it all. The fans were raucous in their displeasure for Howard. The game was more about booing Dwight rather than the game itself.
Nearly from the get go the game was uncompetitive as the Rockets took a 32-22 lead after the first quarter. The Lakers lack of defense helped propel the Rockets to a 64-43 halftime lead. Eventually the Rockets would put the nail in the coffin as they beat the Lakers at Staples Center with a 134-108 win. The boos weren’t enough to stop Howard and the Rockets. Howard finished the game with 20 points and 13 rebounds, James Harden had 29 pts and 11 assists, and Chandler Parsons added 18 pts on 8 of 14 shooting. The Rockets out rebounded the Lakers by 24 at 56 total team rebounds to the Lakers 34.
For the Lakers the key contributors offensively were Jodie Meeks, Kendall Marshall, and Wes Johnson. Meeks scored 19 pts, Marshall had another double-double with 20 points and 16 assists, and Wes Johnson scored a team high of 24 points and collected 7 rebounds.
The key news for the day actually happened before tipoff. Lakers point guard Steve Blake was traded to the Golden State Warriors for Marshon Brooks, and Kent Bazemore. The Laker faithful was pretty upset with this trade because Blake aka the White Mamba or the Blake Mamba had become a fan favorite with his tough play and three point shooting.
What do the Lakers need to do? Well simple this season is a complete loss in terms of trying to make the playoffs. Even if the Lakers miraculously came back and were a playoff team they would be the number 8th seed. Lets be honest the Lakers wouldn’t have gone far in the playoffs this season even with a healthy roster. This season was all about clearing salary cap space and making room for potential free agents to come to LA. The Lakers best move for this season is to keep doing what they have been doing which is #TEAMTANK. By tanking this season the Lakers are now sitting at a high draft pick for the NBA Lottery. Currently at the moment the Lakers would have the number 5 pick in the NBA Draft. Draft prospects the Lakers could end up with are the highly coveted (Forward) Andrew Wiggins and (Center) Joel Embiid both playing at the University of Kansas. Also Forward Jabari Parker (Duke) could be available, as well as guard Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State University. Dante Exum was in attendance yesterday for the Lakers Rockets game at Staples Center. Exum is an extremely skilled guard from Australia and he has great respect for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Exum has publicly said that he wants to be drafted by the Lakers.
“Definitely L.A. is one option,” he said. “I’ve been to L.A. many times and I love the city, and it is a great city. If I get the opportunity to go to L.A. and play for the Lakers, I know I’ll have love for the city. And their fans are loyal and they have the rivalry with the Clippers. But just to be in an environment where you have a great player like Kobe, where you have a mentor in a way as a rookie, I think that would be the best option.”
It may look like dark days are here for the Lakers, but the future is bright for the Laker faithful. The Lakers will have lots of cap space this offseason, and can potentially sign Kevin Love in 2015 or any other big time free agent. Even in 2016 free agents like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will be available and they could head to the City of Angels. The Lakers have always been able to rebuild. After the departure of Shaquille O’neal in 2004-05 the Lakers didn’t make the playoffs and were a lottery draft team. In the draft the took another big man named Andrew Bynum and although he was injured throughout his career, he was able to help the Lakers win the 2010 NBA Championship against the Boston Celtics and he was an AllStar in 2011. Lets not forget that the Lakers were able to pull off one of the biggest heists of all time trading Kwame Brown, Jarvis Crittendon for Pau Gasol who helped the Lakers win back to back titles and has been Kobe’s wingman.
The Lakers future looks very bright with a high draft pick that the team can build around as well as signing a big time free agent to assist Kobe Bryant and hopefully bring number 17 title to the Lakers and help Kobe attain his 6th ring. The Lakers might not be good this season, or maybe even next season but after that they will be a team to reckon with. Kobe is all about championships and legacy and so are the Lakers organization. The Lakers pride themselves in winning and they will definitely be back at the top real soon.