Friday, November 2, 2012

Steve Nash's Injury Could be a Disaster for the Lakers

Steve Nash injured his left leg during the 2nd quarter of Wednesdays game vs. the Blazers

Steve Nash will be a game time decision for the Los Angeles derby on Friday night as the Clippers “visit” the Lakers for the first game between the two LA teams of the season. The way he came off the court, it's likely to be doubtful for him to play. What does this mean for the Lakers? It means the bench gets even worse as Steve Blake is pushed into the starting lineup, a role in which I’m sure he’ll thrive because of his firm grasp on the Princeton Offense, and his better-than-Steve-Nash’s defense.

Steve Blake hasn’t been phenomenal coming off of the bench, but he’s been exactly what the Lakers have needed this season at the point guard position; he hasn’t been turning the ball over (0.5 per game so far), he’s been leaving his fair share of assists (4.5) and isn’t trying to do too much within the passers paradise known as the Princeton Offense. This hasn’t been as good for a bench that has trouble creating their own shots, and doesn’t seem to understand the Princeton just yet; however this is great for a starting lineup that appears offensively in sync.

What this means is 3rd string point guard Chris Duhon has to learn, and learn quickly; in his short time against the Blazers, he contributed to absolutely nothing offensively, and while normally this wouldn’t be much of a problem in the Princeton Offense, except for the fact that he was holding on to the ball for much longer than needed, and taking away precious seconds from his teammates to go to work against a Blazer’s defense that was on its heels as Los Angeles was closing in on them 76-73 at the time; it resulted in bad shots taken (and missed) and easy rebounds for the Blazers; most of their points from the 13-0 run to end the 3rd quarter were off of fast break points coming off of long rebounds from bad Laker shots.

But Duhon is only part of the problem; the whole Lakers bench has been horrid offensively and defensively as they haven’t been giving much rest to star players Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. As I predicted in an earlier article, Antawn Jamison has been completely below average for the Lakers, shooting 33% from the field and is 0 for 3 from three point range. His Win Share per 48 minutes is a below average .095 during these two games. If the Lakers wish to win their first game of the season, and keep bragging rights against their Staples Center roommates, the bench has to wake up.

Steve Nash’s injury is doing more damage to the Lakers’ rotation than just Nash not playing; it’s forcing the bench to step up and fill in some big shoes, something the bench isn’t ready for at this stage of the season.

If there's a positive sign for the Lakers, it's Dwight Howard's dominance Wednesday with 33 points and 14 rebounds. Howard fouled out with 19 points and 10 boards and missed 11 of 14 foul shots in Tuesday's 99-91 home loss to Dallas.

The Lakers, though, struggled defensively against the Blazers, who placed all their starters in double figures and shot 50.6 percent.

This will be the fourth head-to-head matchup between Howard and Clippers big man Blake Griffin. Howard has averaged 25.7 points and 14.0 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent in those meetings, and Griffin has averaged 18.3 points and 12.7 boards while making 45.7 percent of his field-goal attempts.

Starting Lineups: 
Point Guard
Chris Paul
Steve Blake
Shooting Guard
Jamal Crawford
Kobe Bryant
Small Forward
Caron Butler
Metta World Peace
Power Forward
Blake Griffin
Pau Gasol
DeAndre Jordan
Dwight Howard