Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My Day in Sports Spectating 08/10

Today began with a late start. It's 1 p.m. already and I've barely turned the television on. Only sporting event to watch on a Monday afternoon, at least one that's a broadcast, is Manchester City versus West Bromwich and there's no surprise in this one. The favorite, Manchester City, holds a 3-0 lead in the 67th minute.

Just a few minutes before, Vincent Kompany of Man. City met a corner kick with the back of his head and directed it perfectly over the keeper from one side of the goal to the other, except it scored upon arrival to the other side, kind of like when you go to Mexico over spring break and you're in bed with a beautiful hooker 20 minutes after crossing the border.

The outcome to this one isn't a mystery and to be fair, I don't think it ever was one from the get go.

It was good to see the NFL season commence last night with the annual Hall of Fame game played in Canton, Ohio. This year's teams consisted of the Pittsburgh Steelers and my Minnesota Vikings. Even though not much is made from the preseason games, it gives coaches and fans a great opportunity to get a glimpse of young players and ones fighting to make the final roster. For that reason alone, there shouldn't be a shortage of competition  when it comes to these games.

The Vikings ended up taking the game 14-3, off of a 34-yard touchdown pass from backup Mike Kafka to young, tight end MyCole Pruitt and a 1-yard touchdown run by half back Joe Banyard, after he was set up by a 62-yard punt return from rookie, wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

The Vikings were efficient through the air yesterday completing 19 out of 26 passes spanning three different quarterbacks. Second-year starter Teddy Bridgewater completed five out of six passes for 44 yards. Backups Mike Kafka and Taylor Heinicke each completed 7 out of 10 passes, Kafka for 66 yards and a score and Heinicke for 51 yards.

Whatever the specific yardage, the efficiency of passes completed for the first game of the year was impressive. This should serve as a testimony to offensive coordinator Norv Turner and his system. Turner is known as an offensive genius. With the various offensive weapons the Vikings have at their disposal this year it's going to take someone with no less than Turner's cerebral capabilities in handling an offense in the professional football league. Vikings' fans should be excited. I know I am.

Something not to be too excited about is the prior series the Dodgers played out at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where they usually dominate the Pirates. This time, while their wasn't any domination of sort from either teams the Dodgers left Pittsburgh being swept. Offensively, the bats were awake, though they stranded a lot of runners of base. The issues came from the mound for the Dodgers. If it weren't the starters leaving the Dodgers with an almost insurmountable deficit to overcome, it was the bullpen creating the deficit that needed to be overcome.

After six innings and a 5-3 lead for the Dodgers to maintain in order to get the victory, Pittsburgh showed why they were called the Pirates, as they came in and stole any glimmer of hope the Dodgers had at redeeming the weekend series with a 9-run 7th inning. Dodgers fan's eyes were glued to the television, mouths open, with a gazing stare of disbelief as they mustered everything they had in them to utter the two words, "not again."

This is a world-series caliber team, that has a few kinks they need to get worked out. They've had enough time to develop consistency, but outside of starters Zack Grienke and Clayton Kershaw, they haven't seen it from their pitchers. They were hoping the additions of starters Matt Latos and Alex Wood would help solidify their rotation that has been hindered by a few injuries, but Latos' first start was horrific and Wood has been decent, at very best.

We have to hope for those two to pan out inevitably, if we want to make a push into the post season. Our bullpen on the other hand is a different story. The Dodgers made a trade involving three teams and 13 players, mostly acquiring players that were hopeful solutions to their bullpen issues. One of the players they copped, Jim Johnson, was the one who replaced Alex Wood in their most previous game versus the Pirates. You know, the one in which they gave up nine runs in the 7th. Well, guess who was the catalyst of that run scoring machine? In 2/3 of an inning pitched, Johnson gave up eight runs, walked one, actually struck one out(should he be redeemed? lol) and was on the count, deservedly so, for the loss. Let's hope for the best, a blunder in a blender of performances.

I'm not going to over analyze their pitching situation, just yet, because of how recent their acquisitions have been. But make no mistake, if the Dodgers don't end up winning the world series this year, or hell, even make the post season, you should know what direction to point the finger when it comes to blame.

Let's see what Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon have to say in the 30 minutes allotted to them on Pardon the Interruption. Well, at least stuff that I care about. I don't want to say I don't care about Frank Gifford, rest in peace, but, just not my time. I do send my prayers to his family, as I do know how it is to lose family.

They are now saying that Michael Jordan says his Bulls could beat the showtime Lakers and that he could beat LeBron James one-on-one. Those questions are obsolete. Come on, you're asking an all-time competitor whose going to win between him and someone else, especially in their prime. Who do you think they're going to say is going to win? In my opinion, Jordan would definitely beat James one-on-one, but I don't think his Bulls are better than the showtime Lakers. They might have won more championships, but their era of competition was easier. Remember, it took Jordan a while to win not only because, but he did start in the showtime era.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention yesterday that after Seattle Sounders' forward Chad Barrett scored that goal for them in the opening minutes he pulled a hammy during the celebration. Sucks to say, but those are kind of funny to me.

Cam Newton got into a scuffle with one of his corner backs, Josh Norman in practice today. There was a 50-pound weight margin in the Newton's favor. But, the big deal is the fact that this is the quarterback, the leader of the team, the face of the franchise and the most important player on his team fighting against a player trying to make the squad. I think Norman's annual salary is $175,000, compared to Newton's $20 million. So you see where the problem is.

A lot of the fault has to be placed on the management, for not making a player like Norman understand that Newton is the one player he shouldn't be getting in a scuffle with. I can see why a player would want to take a shot at Newton, he seems to be a bit condescending on and off of the field, but Norman must remember what it means to be a man in today's society; doing things we don't want to do. Hah, the cast on Around the Horn is talking about how Cam has a smile during everything and even after every tragic event. They referred to a car accident he got into a while back, that looked pretty bad, according to them, and he came out of the car smiling. That's Cam. He's like the modern-day Undercover Brother.

Does a dugout fight bring a team closer together? That certainly depends on whose in your dugout and what they are fighting over. And, probably how your team is doing at the time of the fight and if the fight isn't because the team is doing shitty.

Monday, August 10, 2015

My Day in Sports Spectating. 08/09

I started today a bit late. I turned the television on to a Stoke City and Liverpool game already in the 60th minute. Liverpool, by name and legacy, would be the obvious favorite in this match up, but it remains nil, nil in 76th minute.

An interesting scoreline with a team that has so much fire power, as Liverpool does. Yes, they've been the chief possessors of the ball throughout the game, but this hasn't been as one sided as you'd think. Stoke is putting up a fight, trying to keep the status quo, as a draw would basically be equivalent to a victory against the English powerhouse.

Liverpool, since I've turned the game on has played wonderfully. They've made some beautiful passes and touches in the attacking third, that has nearly numerously resulted in the ball almost going in the back of the net. Stoke almost caught Liverpool off guard in the 80th minute when a wing player made a pass to the middle to an open Stoke player streaking down the middle, who then took a one-touch shot, only to find it deflected by a few defenders obstructing their opposition's prize. Not much play in the midfield from either squads. Both squads seemed to send the ball into the attacking third and go from there. That might have been due to time constraints, as I did turn the game on in the 60th minute.

As the game goes back and forth during the late stages it has began to get a bit touchy. Both teams are letting their competitive juices flow, without limit, as there's only 10 minutes, or so, remaining. The last five minutes the tempo has been turned in Stoke's way, as they've been the chief possessors and aggressors. About 10 minutes remain in what could be the Premier League's first scoreless draw of the year, but as I was writing those words down Liverpool's Brazilian striker, Philipe Coutihno blasts a beauty from approximately five yards outside of the box, that looked as if it was going to go wide ride and curved just at the last second inside the top, right corner of the goal and into the back of the net for what seems to be the winner! An Absolute stunner!

Stoke City still has about five minutes remaining, but they must be completely deflated after they made such a tremendous effort to keep the game scoreless and gave one up in a heart beat. Funny thing, it seems a substitute was standing on the side ready to come in and replace Coutihno, the man who scored what seems to be the game-winning goal. Whoa, and Stoke almost had an opportunity to draw in the 92nd minute, when one of their players got behind Liverpool's line of defense, but the send went a bit too far and into the Liverpool's goalkeeper's hands. The final whistles sound and the Stoke fans are stunned. Liverpool grabbed this one from the magician's top hat in the late stages and came away with three points.

That was an exciting, heart-stopping twenty minutes. Each team played formidable and either one deserved a win. A draw would've also served the two righteously.

As I search through the guide, there isn't really anything to watch. I turn to the NFL Network to watch their rankings of the top 100 players of last season. They're talking about Cam Chancellor right now. This guy is one of the best safeties in the league. He has the speed of a corner and the size of a line backer. He's extremely cerebral as well. The combination of those three qualities make him deadly in the backfield and a nightmare for opposing slot receivers and tight ends, the two positions that usually work the seams(the middle of the field) offensively.

This article I'm reading in the LA Times seems to have revealed an issue the Dodgers are having. They've lost 23 out of 35 games this year against National League teams with winning records. That doesn't sound like a squad destined to make any push once it comes to the post season, since they can't fare well against teams that will likely be there with them.

Against the Pirates yesterday the way the outcome was achieved was somewhat odd. Usually, the Dodgers' bullpen have problems subsequent to a near flawless outing by whomever their starter is. This time it was quite the contrary. Newly acquired pitcher Matt Latos gave up six runs in four innings before being pulled. The bullpen though, kept the Dodgers in it by not giving up a single run, while the Dodgers rallied to score five and almost pull one out as they left a runner stranded on third in the ninth inning.

The Dodgers are running out of time to make things click together. They have the right pieces, and they get the performances they expect from them, only scarcely are they intertwined. One night the starters are on, while the bullpen gives up a game. Other nights the bullpen has to get called on early on, like yesterday and get the job done. If they want to make a run in October they have to be firing on all cylinders. The gun can't jam. They've got to get six shots out of the six-shot magnum. I'll give Latos a pass. It was his first start in Dodger blue. But don't expect me to turn into John Stockton, I'll give him A pass.

So, the Dodgers have designed a new program called "speed camp". They designate a few players, (five at first, now three) to this camp and train them to do one thing and only one thing, steal bases. These players aren't worried about the offensive or defensive part of baseball. They're here to learn how to steal bases the best they can and if they master the art can earn themselves a spot on the roster as a designated runner. For those who don't know what that is, a designated runner is a player that is substituted into the game for a hitter that gets on base. Say for instance, its the 9th inning and old, slow Jim Thome drives a single into left field and gets on base. It is the 9th inning and the need for Thome beyond that is obsolete, and since the man obviously could barely run faster than me he's then replaced by a player whose specialty is base running. So, though the role seems minuscule in the time played, it definitely isn't in value.

The three players who are up for this role are: Edwin Drexler, 23, who is with class-A Rancho Cucamonga; Robbie Garvey, 26, who is with double-A Tulsa; and Kyle Hudson, 28, who is currently on the disabled list because of a strained calf.

Before I could sit down and even begin writing about the game I'm watching, the Seattle Sounders versus the Los Angeles Galaxy a Sounders' player sent the ball in between defenders in perfect spot to runner who got behind the line and it was an easy tap into the back of the net in the opening minute to give them a very early 1-0 lead.

It shouldn't be a deficit that the Galaxy can't overcome, especially when they, basically, have the whole game to do so. The Galaxy come into this one (as they do basically all of their matches) as heavy favorites, because of their roster. World-class international players such as Irishman Robbie Keane and newly acquired Steven Gerrard of England and Giovani Dos Santos of Mexico.

Players like this keep butts in the seats around the stadium. L.A. averages near 21,000 fans a game, which isn't bad for a stadium that has a 27,000 spectator capacity. Their opponent, Seattle on the other hand, averages near 40,000 people in attendance for each game, which is the most by a highly significant margin. With Dos Santos joining the squad it would give more incentive to locals to attend Galaxy games, being he's a Mexican international and so is Los Angeles' population.

And hey, the expected didn't take long to happen, as a 13th minute galaxy goal off of a rebound from a corner kick brought the two sides together at one a piece. Similar to Seattle's goal, you could basically credit the goal to the assist man because  of the absolutely perfectly placed ball to the runner who got behind the defense. Credit the runner for penetrating the opposing defense, but the pass was flawless.

In the 24th minute a deadly header that scorches past the defense on its way to goal was blocked by Galaxy goal keeper Donovan Ricketts. Then once again in the 30th minute a great send into the box turned into a Sounders' shot that ended up in the back of the net, but fortunately for the Galaxy the goal was waived off because the scorer was in an offside position.

A little food for thought; Seattle hasn't won at the Stub Hub Center for six years, in 10 visits, since the team's first match there ever. They're looking to change that today, but without a couple important pieces, like forwards Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. An organization's worst nightmare could be a reserves dream though, the chance to show everybody what they're all about.

Like the prior futbol match i was watching there isn't much midfield play, which leads to a sloppy game. The score at halftime is 1-1, with both teams going into their respective locker rooms to devise a plan that will inch them ahead, give them the slight advantage needed to get the upper hand in a match that is closer than the friend you've had since you were 6.

It didn't take long for the Galaxy to find the upper hand. A ball from the right wing from A.J. DeLaGarza, on the floor as well, found its way between the group of Sounders' defenders in the box and found the last man Seattle would have wanted it to find, Robbie Keane, and he put the ball where it needed to be put, the back of the net for a Galaxy 2-1 lead.

A shot from Giovani Dos Santos from nearly 20 yards out just sailed above the crossbar in the 52nd minute and the expression caught by camera on spectator David Beckham's face shows how agonizingly close the Galaxy were to taking a 3-1 lead. But it remains so, for now.

The lead has allowed the Galaxy to slow their play down a bit and take control in the midfield, which, I think should be an objective whether you have established a lead or not.

The first one barely missed, but a player of his caliber doesn't miss often and the very next chance Dos Santos got on a break to score he put the ball in the back of the net and gives the Galaxy a resounding, versus the Sounders, 3-1 lead in about the 63rd minute. And with his services not needed, Dos Santos is subbed out in the 69th minute to a big ovation from the home(in more than one way)team, in his very first game in a L.A. Galaxy uniform. Expect big things to come from this guy in the MLS now and in the very near future.

A close call came in the 71st minute when the ball found its way in front of the Galaxy goal, after a cross from the right wing was sent with good distance, and while keeper Ricketts was off of his line. One of the Sounders' players managed to get a touch on it, but with not much velocity and a Galaxy defender was able to boot the ball out of the box before it went in the goal.

Then on the Galaxy counter, they found themselves pushing forward quick with numbers. With the ball on the left side of the box and a Galaxy player making a run behind the defense on the right side the ball rolled behind the defense by a pass from a Galaxy player, across the middle, to find the cutting player for a perfect shot only to find it volley off of the post and fire back, as if shot from a cannon.

Fortunately that goal wasn't necessary because of the 3-1 lead they'd established. The Galaxy got another good shot, this time by Juhnihno in the 89th minute, which was a rocket that was sailing above the keeper into the goal, but the Sounders' keeper made a jumping effort to block it and force the ensuing corner kick.

After two minutes of added time, the official blew his whistle a couple times to mark the end of the match. The Galaxy ends up in the win column with a 3-1 victory over the Sounders, giving them an 11-7-7 mark, good for 4th place in the western conference up to this point.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Attempting to Update Daily.

I will attempt to maintain a daily update of my thoughts on events and happenings. These will consist of and not be limited to sports, local news, major news, politics and other topics that come to mind in the future.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Buscaino Pushes to Rename Intersection Di Carlo Square

          The Di Carlo Bakery meant a lot to the city of San Pedro. It provided a main part of many of the town's different culture's meals, fresh bread, for an affordable price. Something this hard-working town could appreciate.
District 15 councilman Joe Buscaino wants to commemorate the bakery for what it meant and did for the community. It provided employment with great benefits. It provided a place for the people of San Pedro to come and buy fresh food for a good price. For years, you could get a whiff of the fresh loaves of bread being baked baked as you drove by the bakery every morning.
The friendliness of the employees made the store a big part of San Pedro. Most employees were lifers. They were offered good wages, pensions and were treated well. Keeping employees happy showed with embracing interactions that were had with customers.
“I came to San Pedro in 1977,” San Pedro resident Ed Lamar said. “A neighbor always had the best baked goods. She told me to try the Di Carlo Bakery day-old racks. At Di Carlo’s, I got friendly service and baked goods at a bargain price. Moreover, the Di Carlo baked goods were fresher than those at the grocery stores.”
To display its gratitude, on Dec. 10, 2014, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a motion to rename the intersection of North Gaffey Street and Capitol Drive in San Pedro Di Carlo Square.
Buscaino also ordered the Department of Transportation to erect a statue on the intersection in commemoration of Di Carlo Bakery, which closed in 2004.
May 14, 2004 marked the day the final loaf of bread came out of an oven with the beautiful aroma that could be smelled from streets away.
The bakery opened in 1906, running out of Lorenzo Di Carlo’s back room on 11th and Mesa streets. The business moved twice. It moved once to the 300 block of 11th Street, then to 9th and Pacific Avenue.
When business expanded overwhelmingly, Di Carlo made a more permanent move to its final 10-acre site on North Gaffey Street. But then, a year later, the bakery was sold to Continental Bakery Co.
Lorenzo’s grandson Larry Dicarlo stayed on board until 1985, when it was subsequently sold to Interstate Bakery Co. Then, about two decades later, Interstate shut down and sold the factory, Inevitably finding itself in bankruptcy cour.
The 184 employees were to be placed at different factories owned by Interstate, but most of them decided not to make the move and take the bountiful retirement pension that Di Carlo provided, instead.
“My grandpa used to work as a mixer at the Di Carlo Bakery,” said 50-year San Pedro resident Edward Marshall. “My mom worked in the retail portion and she would bring us back all sorts of different chocolate pies.
“The loaves were delicious. One loaf would feed a family of five hungry children, the wheat loaf with the honey. They were big. It was only $1.29, the day olds. In my opinion they were better [than the loaves made on the same day].”
The move from Continental Co. to Interstate Bakery Co. marked the end of Di Carlo. Interstate, a big corporation that also owns Wonder Bread and Hostess, which are the most popular of many other baked goods companies they owned, wasn’t interested in the bakery and what it meant to the community. It was only interested in profits and gains.  
         James R. Elsesser, the Interstate Bakery Co. CEO which now goes by the name Hostess Brand Inc., said the factory was closed so that the company could consolidate operations and make production more efficient.
          "The Di Carlo bakery, which was created [at the Gaffey St. and Capitol Dr. location]in 1957, is not as efficient as our other facilities," Elsesser said in an www.just-food.com news article written in March, 2014. "As a result, we concluded that economically it was best for the company to close the facility."
Inevitably, the 10-acre property with a Little League baseball field in the corner was auctioned off to Target for $17.8 million. Target opened a megastore in its place in 2009.
Its closing also marked the closing of the 3-acre Eastview Little League baseball field, in the corner of the property that had been such a significant part of the town as well.
Residents were a bit excited to see a Target being opened locally, but the fact that the baseball field was going to have to go seemed to transcend their eagerness. They didn’t want to see it go.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

North Western san pedro neighborhood council meeting

The Northwestern San Pedro Neighborhood Council, Land Use Planning and Public Works Committee held a meeting at Peck Park on Nov. 17. The meeting had discussions involving the new foods with genetically modified organisms testing and labeling state assembly bill that was recently proposed by state legislatures and how to solve leakage at the Rancho LPG  facility.

The new bill involving gmo testing is garnering much attention after its initial attempt on the ballot in 2012 resulted in a failure. This time, the bill has received backing from all state legislatures, except one. That one is our very own Joe Buscaino, who represents district 15 which San Pedro is a part of.

Those in attendance were somewhat perplexed and would like to know why Buscaino voted against the measure that would prohibit the growth and sale of plants or seeds which contain GMO's within the Los Angeles city  limits. According to a LA Times article, Buscaino stated that he thought this type of issue should be dealt with on a federal level and that his job was to assure that things on the streets of his district was taken care of.

“Let’s focus on streets and sidewalks," Buscaino told LA Times. "[The city] is not equipped to investigate or enforce this ordinance.”

The Rancho LPG  facility  came up again, as those at the meeting discussed the multiple leaks and minor accidents that have occurred  during the 42 years that residents have been fighting the facility's existence and location. Everyone also, with an astonished look wondered how they miraculously haven't been of a higher magnitude.

A lot has been done locally to contest the facility, such as letters from neighboring residents and organizations like Earth Justice, to the Environmental Protection Agency, the mayor  and city attorney. The council would love for the youth to become involved in the battle as well, giving the people any extra edge that it can get.

Once again, Buscaino says that this issue should be deferred to a federal level  and that there is nothing he can do about it. Still, this issue remains highly imminent  due to assumptions that the Pacific Rail line which is involved in a lot of transportations from the facility doesn't have enough insurance to cover a major accident.

These issues will be delved into more deeply at the Board and Stakeholders meeting on Dec. 9.

Visit www.nwsanpedro.org for more details, agendas and minutes from previous meetings.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Did kobe take too much or are we whining too much?

I'm still hearing talk among the media in an accusatory tone about the contract extension Kobe Bryant signed last season, which spans two years and is worth $48,5 million. 

And, as the Lakers were in Dallas to take on the Mavericks the talk arose once again, because of  hometown star Dirk Nowitzki's decision to take significantly less money than did Bryant in order to allow his team to field a competitive roster and the Lakers' continuing struggles.

Nowitzki, who has brought his owner Mark Cuban a Larry O'Brien trophy, signed a three-year extension valued at $25 million during the prior summer. The Mavericks were able to make acquisitions, such as bringing in Chandler Parsons and bringing back Tyson Chandler, who was a crucial part of the 2011 championship team.

"If you look at our ticket prices, how many times have we lowered them?" Cuban asked ESPN.com. "How many times have we paid the luxury tax? How many times have I told you guys 'I don't care if we lose money, I want to win? You know my motivations and I think Dirk's motivations are similar."

So, does that mean Bryant's motivation isn't similar? Does that mean Bryant doesn't care whether the Lakers are contenders, only that he receives a fat pay day? Let's slow down for a second here. I highly doubt that Bryant doesn't care about winning.

Even with his annual salary the Lakers had the cap space to field a competitive team. They tried signing high priced superstars to play alongside Bryant and they deferred because they simply had better options elsewhere.

So Bryant didn't obstruct the Lakers' chances of being good because he commanded and accepted his contract.

Still, many in the media and fans abroad have no problem pointing the finger at Bryant and blaming him for the Lakers' woes so far this season. But, it is basically a fabricated sense of perspective and management are the ones that should take blame if any responsibility must be claimed. 

Or, we could just accept the fact that things just didn't roll the Lakers' way this year and that just proves that perfection in this world isn't guaranteed.They lost their first-round pick early for the year, they have a new coach and a new roster aside three players from the previous year. 

Besides, for Bryant this is a business. The owners just want to milk their players for as much as they can, so why should the players mirror that mentality? It's only capitalism. 

This is what Bryant told ESPN regarding his decision to take $45.5 million for two years, which I guess is filling the salary cap so much that the Lakers can't sign a high profile player. Which is complete bullshit.

"I think you need to look at the business of basketball," Bryant told ESPN.com. "I think for a lot of writers, for a lot of fans, they have a very hard time distinguishing the two. This is a business and you have to look at individuals and what they generate and the market that they're generating revenue in. 

"And you can't separate those. People have a hard time separating that stuff. So, did I take a discount?  Yeah. Did I take as big a discount as some of you fans would want me to? No. Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah. "

Enough said. The Lakers' annual revenue is $295 million and are valued at $1.35 billion according to forbes.com. The Mavericks' annual revenue is $162 million and are valued at $765 million.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lakers Recent Improvements

With Nick Young coming back to the lineup for the decimated and already beat-up Lakers, they have strung together consecutive respectable performances and victories.

In Nick Young's first game in the lineup he put up 17 points on an efficient 6 for 10 from the floor, adding five rebounds and a couple from behind the arc in 27 minutes. With an added offensive spark more importantly, Kobe Bryant only attempted 18 shots and put up 28 points on 10 makes.

The whole light at the end of the tunnel point of view to this turnaround is that contrarily, before Young's return, Bryant had shot only 38 percent from the field on 24 attempts, but 27.5 points per game. At 36, Kobe is also averaging 36.5 minutes a game, which especially coming off of a major Achilles tear, constitutes an endangerment to his health.

Bryant still did play 36 minutes in the Lakers' victory over Atlanta and 39 minutes against Houston, Young's return is only meant to soften the blow. The roster is decimated with injuries. Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Clark and Xavier Henry did not play last night and Julius Randle is done for the season.

It is only one player, but this one has some swag about him that the Lakers whom are in a deep, miserable funk right now desperately needs. And his return equated into consecutive victories.

"Nick ! Having another player on the floor that can create and score puts pressure on the defense," Kobe Bryant told ESPN.com. "It makes a huge difference."

In Young's second game back he put up 16 points on 6 for 15 shooting, 4 rebounds and another 2 makes from behind the arc (only this time out of 8 attempts) in 28 minutes. Bryant had to put up 28 shots and made only 10, but he did manage 29 points going 8 for 10 from the charity stripe to help that case.

Wait a minute, 18 shots to 28 shots in a one-game turnaround. What gives? Well Jermey Lin only gave them 3 points and Carlos Boozer 12, both of which are capable of and should be contributing close to 20 points a game. And the Lakers only got 13 points out of reserves not named Swaggy P.

But they still managed the 98-92 victory with some clutch free-throw shooting near the end of the game and a where did this come from, but should of been here, explosion out of Wes Johnson defensively and in transition to put the icing on the cake,

"Defensively, we've been doing  a much better job," Bryant told ESPN.com. "Transition [defense] was a big Achilles heel for us. We've been doing a better job getting back on defense."

And when ESPN asked Bryant about how it felt to be so close to nearing that 32,000-point milestone he said, "I've been very fortunate and blessed. I've had some injuries, but not until a few years ago have been career threatening.

"I've had some great mentors in my career that have really taught me a lot, so I'm just very blessed and very fortunate."

I think a little mamba might have helped too.