Gameday Dish

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles LakersThe Oklahoma City Thunder, owners of the best record in the league at 42-12, come to the Staples Center this evening to take on the 18-34 Los Angeles Lakers.

The Basketball Gods have been merciless on the storied franchise, and it has taken a horrible toll. The 16-time NBA Champs have lost 21 of their last 26 games.

The Lakers now sit in a virtual tie with Sacramento for the Western Conference’s worst record. In addition, coach Mike D’Antoni’s squad has lost their past six home contests.

With a loss tonight, this Lakers group will set a mark for the most straight home defeats. The franchise has not endured seven consecutive losses since moving to SoCal in 1960.

Injuries have plagued The Lake Show this season. Los Angeles continues to play without five of its key performers: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Nick Young, Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry. Jordan Farmar has also missed 19 of the last 20 games, and Steve Nash will be sidelined yet again after exiting against Utah due to issues with his leg and back.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Portland Trail Blazers

When the Purple & Gold played Tuesday night, they were bludgeoned by the woeful Jazz, 96-79. Eleventh-year center Chris Kaman led the team with 25 points and 14 boards.

The Lakers and Thunder last met on December 13th in the Sooner State. KD and company drubbed LA 122-97, outscoring the Lakers in every quarter. Durant, now the clear frontrunner for the 2014 NBA MVP, went for 31 points, 8 boards, 5 dimes and 4 steals in the one-sided affair. It was just Kobe’s third game back from injury, and he scored only 4 points, but managed to dish out 13 assists. Pau Gasol had 14 and 7 boards in the loss.

The surging Thunder have gone 14-2 over their last 16, including a 98-95 hard-fought W in Portland on Tuesday night. KD was his usual unstoppable self, hitting for 36 points and 10 boards. Second-year SG Jeremy Lamb came off the bench to add a crucial 19 points on 8-11 shooting.

Tune in to TNT tonight at 10:30 PM ET to see if Los Angeles, playing the unfamiliar role of struggling underdog, can stop OKC’s winning ways and prevent a dubious home loss mark.

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles LakersThe storied, ring-heavy Los Angeles Lakers are not accustomed to losing. And they don’t plan on getting used to it. After 34 contests and a slew of key injuries, the 14-20 Lake Show has been searching for players to come in and add a spark to the struggling squad.

With guards Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake all on the shelf with various ailments, GM Mitch Kupchak and coach Mike D’Antoni have been on the lookout for backcourt help.

On December 20th, they signed second-year PG Kendall Marshall. The 6’4” southpaw has played in six games for LA thus far and started two.

This past Friday, in a win at home against Utah, the former Tar Heel went for 20 points, 15 dimes, 6 boards and only a single TO in 41 minutes. Marshall followed up this stat-filled performance on Sunday in a loss at Staples versus Denver with 9 points, 17 assists, 6 boards and 2 steals in 39 minutes of action.

The Virginia native was selected 13th overall in the 2012 Draft after spending just two seasons in Chapel Hill, where he set Carolina’s single-season assist record as well as the ACC’s single-season assist mark.

The 2012 Bob Cousy Award winner and 3rd Team All-American played alongside future NBA ballers Harrsion Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Reggie Bullock while in college.

In his bumpy rookie year with Phoenix, Marshall averaged only 3 points and 3 assists in 14.6 mpg. He spent significant time with the Suns’ D-League affiliate before being traded to and then released by the Wizards.

Up until this past week or so, Marshall’s adjustment to the pro game hindered his ability to stay on the court and produce any sort of Fantasy numbers. However, Fantasy GMs looking to add a 1-guard to their rosters should acquire Marshall sooner rather than later as his current situation with the Purple & Gold seems tailor-made for juicy stat lines.

Czar’s Season Preview

Czar's Preview-Lakers-21OCT2013

Czar’s Season Preview

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Czar’s Season Preview

Czar's Preview-Gasol-21OCT2013