LAL 2012-13 Schedule Breakdown
Below is a breakdown of the 2012-13 Lakers Schedule:
One Home One Goal
For the first time ever, folks, every single locally broadcasted Lakers game will be on one TV network: Time Warner Cable SportsNet (English / Time Warner Cable Deportes (Espanol). Last season's home and away games were on different networks, but you can now just leave your TV on Time Warner Cable SportsNet and never miss the call of Bill Macdonald with Stu Lantz and Adrian Garcia Marquez with Francisco Pinto. It's also the first time in NBA history you'll be able to watch games in either English or Spanish, while Time Warner Cable Sports promises more behind-the-scenes access than ever before (already proven by extensive coverage of Steve Nash's presser and the Laker Girls auditions).
The Opener: Steve Nash, Ladies and Gents!
(Insert Lawrence Tanter Voice): "Starting at point guard at 6-3 out of Santa Clara … Steve Nash!" When LT's baritone says that for the first time, you'll have had your opening night highlight before the game even starts. And indeed, with the addition of the two-time MVP comes a newfound confidence and perhaps a more believable championship aspiration (Kobe Bryant would have had that regardless, but that's Kobe). Pick and rolls, pretty dishes and swished shots from all over the court should follow, but the positive energy the Canadian brings L.A.'s way could be just as critical. The back-to-back-to-back trips to the Finals took a lot mentally from L.A.'s core, but is Nash the elixir? Just ask any of his former running mates to name their favorite teammate ever. The opening act comes against Dallas, where Nash played alongside Dirk Nowitzki for six seasons. After the game, the Lakers drive straight to LAX to hop a flight to Portland for the season's first back-to-back.
Keeping Jack Happy
You always want to try to keep the coolest guy in the room happy, right? So the fact that Jack Nicholson gets to watch his squad play at STAPLES in 12 of the first 17 games should keep a variation of his patented movie scowl out of the mix. Portland, Utah, Sacramento, Memphis and Dallas will host the Lakers from the opener through early December, with 12 different squads (eight Western, four Eastern) coming to Los Angeles. November of 2010-11 featured eight home and seven away games, so the 2012-13 version more closely mirror 2009-10, when L.A. played 17 of its first 21 at STAPLES and went 18-3. Nine of the 17 opponents for this November were playoff teams last season. Alas, while Jack knows much of the roster quite well, he'll have a few games to study how much punch Antawn Jamison and his career 19.5 ppg offers the bench.
Back to Backs
With 66 games crammed into the 2011-12 schedule, the Lakers had 18 back-to-backs and one back-to-back-to-back, meaning 20 games were played sans rest. This season, L.A. will have only 16 B2B's, sure to be among the lower numbers in the NBA. Furthermore, the back-to-backs are spaced out across the season, with two in November and February, three in December and January and four in March plus one each in October and April. With 16-year veterans like Bryant and Nash, this is excellent news. It gives Gary Vitti's training staff a much more sensible opportunity to keep guys as fresh as possible. Speaking of Vitti's staff: they managed to get the players through the lockout season without a single guy taking an injury into the offseason. #health
To: Schedule Maker – Thanks! Love – LAL Travel Staff
Let's check off the cities in which the Lakers get an extra off day. New York? Check (twice, thanks to the Nets moving to Brooklyn). Miami? You bet. Boston and Philly? Uh huh. Chicago? Sort of ... it's not a typical off night, but the team will likely stay the night after the contest instead of typical immediate departure. Minneapolis? Twice! OK, not everybody on the plane is thrilled that the team has an off day for both trips to the great state of Minnesota, but yours truly happens to dwell from the Land of 10,000 Lakes (from where your favorite team comes, of course). However, Mychal Thompson is a U of M Golden Gopher, so he and I are typically defending Minnesota while Orange County-raised John Ireland and Bill Macdonald complain about the weather. But nobody is complaining about some time in the rest of the large cities, where everybody has a friend or relative to meet for dinner.
Get Your Whites Cleaned for Sunday
In the lockout compressed season, each team essentially added an extra game each two weeks, which for the Lakers often came on Saturday, typically an off day in "regular" regular seasons. Of the 22 Sundays during the regular season, L.A. plays on 18, including 12 at STAPLES Center. And as has become tradition, the Lakers will wear their crisp Sunday white uniforms on all 12 occasions, not to mention the holiday games like Christmas Day (vs. Knicks). Now, on the contrary, you literally will never see purple and gold at STAPLES on Monday. So averse to Monday are the Lakers that the first of four away games doesn't come until Jan. 21 (at Chicago). Generally speaking, you still can't get your hair cut, go out for Chinese food or sushi on Monday, but since there's not a single home game on the first day of the week, feel free to catch up on all the errands you skipped running while watching Nash feed Kobe a steady diet of basketballs on Sunday. Related: L.A. also plays only three games on Saturday, while Tuesday (18) and Friday (19) are heavy.
The Grammy Trip: L.A.'s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Adele dominated the 2012 Grammys, but since hip hop is the genre of choice in the locker room, Kanye West's rap album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" winner gets the nod on Lakers.com.
Dark: Jan. 30 marks Steve Nash's first trip to Phoenix, where "dark" can only begin to define how many loyal Suns fans must feel to see their beloved donning hated purple and gold.
Twisted: The later tip time is scheduled for the Feb. 7 game at Boston, the more twisted are the words of the Celtics faithful towards their arch rivals. These are the types of games where Metta World Peace is particularly handy, as the more twisted or revved up the atmosphere, the more he likes it.
Fantasy: Kobe, LeBron, Nash, Wade, Howard, Bosh, Gasol. The Feb. 10 meeting is the second of the season, but NBA fans certainly wouldn't complain if both found a way back to one another in the Finals. OKC in particular will have something to say about L.A.'s fantasy.
Altogether, the Grammy trip features a manageable 7-game schedule (@PHO, MIN, DET, BKN, BOS, CHA, MIA) featuring only two playoff teams from last season spread out across 12 days, with only one back-to-back (BOS-CHA). Soon after comes the All-Star game, for which the Lakers have four strong candidates.
The Anti-Catalan Contests
In Pau Gasol's glorious native city of Barcelona, Spain, dinner often isn't served until 10 or 11 p.m. In related news, Gasol would rather run wind sprints up and down La Rambla than play games that START at 10 a.m. Unfortunately for one of the league's most cultured players, the Lakers have three games with that dreaded 10 a.m. tip: 1/20 @ TOR; 2/3 @ DET; 2/24 @ DAL. Furthermore, the Christmas game starts at 12 p.m. Fortunately for Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant is basically a vampire for whom sleep is more of an annoyance than a necessity.
Only 3 Times
Three's a Charm
Each year, teams plays four opponents within their conference only three times instead of the typical four. In the Lakers case, they'll host two Western teams only once, and go to two Western cities only once (to the chagrin of the respective ticket sales staffs). This year, San Antonio and Utah will welcome L.A. once, while Minnesota and Memphis get only one trip to play the Lakers at STAPLES, always a spotlight night for opponents.
And, in the End
"The love you take is equal to the love you make." John Lennon wasn't talking about basketball, but a relatively soft concluding schedule could allow the Lakers some control in their Western playoff standing. With seven of the eight final games in Los Angeles (including one at the Clippers), and only one of the final five against a playoff team from last season, Mike Brown can look for his team to recover a bit from the rather difficult months of February and March.
Mark Your Calendar: Five Good Ones
1) Dec. 7 @ OKC
2) Dec. 25 vs. NYK
3) Jan 17 vs. MIA
4) Feb 7 at BOS
5) Apr 7 at LAC