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first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisIt’s not everyday that an 8th grader gets the opportunity to travel out of the country. One student in particular, from Thunder Bay Junior High, has been invited to Europe for her amazing vocal talent.14-year-old Brianna Mucciante has been singing since she came out of the womb. Although singing in front of an audience frightens most people, Brianna says it’s her comfort zone.“I feel comfortable singing and it’s kind of like everyone has their thing. Their thing that they do that’s important to them and singing is my thing,” said Mucciante.After auditioning for the Blue Lake Fine Arts program, Brianna made it into the chamber choir. To her surprise, she was also invited to be apart of the international choir- which will travel to Europe this summer.The trip is an expensive one, costing $10,000, but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity“I think that it’s a once in a lifetime thing and I’m really honored that I was chosen and I want to make everyone proud,” said Mucciante. To help send Brianna to Europe, you can make a donation of any amount to her go fund me page at www.gofundme.com/p/j3xy or contact Diane Mucciante at 989–464–8659.  AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis Tags: 8th Grader, alpena, Blue Lake Fine Arts, Europe, LocalContinue ReadingPrevious National Pet Day: King Connor Joins WBKB NewsNext Fitness Friday: How Weight Training Helps the Entire Bodylast_img read more

first_imgThat was reinforced by ugly stretches of half-court offense, particularly in the first and fourth quarters against Oklahoma City. Some of the Lakers’ best half-court players are shelved. Their remaining weapons thrive the most in transition.“I think with LeBron, Rondo, Kuz, Beas out, we just got to pick up the tempo, to be quite honest,” center Tyson Chandler said. “We just got to get up and down the floor, get shots up. Turn it into a speed game, a scrambling game because we are young, we are missing a lot of our leadership and floor generals so we’re just going to have to adjust, basically.”It might not sound like a satisfying answer. McGee himself questioned how much faster the Lakers can play. But for a team with as many injuries as the Lakers, there are not a lot of satisfying answers to be found. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersBut even though the latest injury isn’t as serious as perhaps feared, it still tolls ominously as the Lakers soldier through misfortune on the health front. The most looming injury is to LeBron James, who has sat courtside for three straight games, once casually strolling into the building with a glass of wine. The team is 1-3 without him.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.On Wednesday night, cameras captured James in a less lighthearted mood, staring with a vacant expression while standing alongside General Manager Rob Pelinka and President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson. What exactly were they thinking as they watched the second half unfold without a number of the most important players on the roster?There is one concern on the front of every Lakers fan’s mind as the team pushes through the next stretch of games: How much can this affect the season? It’s best understood by breaking things up into the most pressing questions the team faces:HOW BAD IS THE INJURY SITUATION?There’s one man the Lakers need more than anyone else. And his injury might be the biggest mystery.On the one hand, the Lakers have acknowledged that James has a strained groin. They’ve also described his status as “day-to-day,” but as of Wednesday, James had yet to return to basketball activities. The Lakers seem to be giving him a lot of latitude to advance his own recovery – they don’t want to rush him back and have him re-injure the groin, which seems like sound judgment.center_img The way things have been sliding for the Lakers, the news that Kyle Kuzma is at least questionable for Friday’s game should draw a common-sense reaction.Whew.As the Lakers (21-17) well know, it could be so much worse.Nearly at the halfway point in the season, the Lakers sat in seventh place in the Western Conference before Thursday’s games looking for the silver lining. An MRI confirmed that Kuzma, who left the second quarter of a 107-100 loss to the Thunder on Wednesday, suffered a lower back contusion. He’s one of only four Lakers to play in every game so far this season, a number that seems to dwindle by the game. How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers That being said: If James hasn’t even practiced with the rest of the team yet, it puts his status in doubt for the next slate of games. He’s officially out for Friday’s game, and returning during a road back-to-back in Minneapolis and Dallas seems dubious. A reasonable estimate is that James will miss at least three more games.Add that to the others: Rondo missed 17 games with his previous hand injury which took more than a month to recover from, and after having surgery on his finger, he’s on a similar timeline. Michael Beasley has missed 13 games and counting as he grieves his mother’s death – the organization is not going to rush along that process.Then there are the lingering effects of injuries that have already occurred but continue to nag. Center JaVale McGee said Wednesday night that he’s still building on his stamina following a bout with pneumonia. Brandon Ingram continues to get extra treatment on the left ankle he turned last month.Nothing quite summed up how dire the Lakers’ problem is as when Josh Hart was switched to power forward against the Thunder’s 6-foot-9 Jerami Grant. Hart finished with a career-high 15 rebounds, but it was because he was forced to play out of position: The Lakers don’t have many natural power forwards left.“I don’t make excuses, honestly,” Hart said afterward. “I want to play all 48 (minutes). So I’m not going to say we’re tired or anything like that. You just got to execute, and if you are tired, we’ve got to find little bits and pieces of the game to catch a breath, maybe get an extra timeout.”HOW MUCH WILL IT AFFECT THE LAKERS’ RECORD?The Lakers are 1-3 without James, with all three losses coming to Western Conference teams with winning records. At least on Friday, that eases up a little with the Knicks (9-29) visiting town, but the Lakers could be without their two leading scorers and assist men if Kuzma misses the game. It will be up to Ingram, Hart, McGee and Lonzo Ball to carry much of the load, not to mention Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has scored 51 points in the last two games.The road back-to-back comes against Minnesota and Dallas, two teams with losing records. But the Timberwolves won the previous meeting in Target Center against the Lakers, and the Mavericks have kept the game close twice before.If James is still out after the next three, the schedule isn’t particularly punishing: The Lakers have to face the middling Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz (in Salt Lake City), before hosting the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. They probably would be favored to win at least half of those games. But the immediate slate is a little more threatening. James making a comeback on Jan. 13 against the Cavaliers at home is a compelling storyline, but certainly the Lakers will take him back as soon as possible.EVEN HEALTHY, HOW HARD WILL IT BE TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?Here’s the biggest concern: If the Lakers fumble a few more games during one of the softest stretches of their schedule, they could actually damage their playoff ambitions quite a bit.“We keep slipping the more we lose,” Ball said, “so gotta turn it around.”The Lakers are guaranteed to be over .500 at the halfway mark of the season, but if James misses any games beyond the next three and if the Lakers lose, that could force them to make quite a run to ensure the playoffs. Last year in the West, the 46-win Denver Nuggets did not make the cut. Even if the cutoff isn’t quite that high (the previous two years, a 41-win team made the playoffs), the Lakers would still have to win somewhere between 21 to 23 games on the back end of the schedule to qualify.Now think about the schedule: There are two five-game trips through the East Coast remaining on the schedule, with just two home games in all of February. There are three games against Golden State left, two games against Boston, two games against Milwaukee, two games against Philadelphia, two more against Oklahoma City. There are games with feisty Portland, Utah, Brooklyn, Indiana and New Orleans teams. It does not get easier.With a healthy James, the Lakers were 20-14. Over a 41-game span winning at roughly that rate, they’d come out with 24 wins. That might be enough to slide into the playoffs, but even then, does that mean they’re scratching out a 7- or 8-seed and face Golden State in the first round? That’s not ideal.WHAT CAN THE LAKERS DO IN THE MEANTIME?Coach Luke Walton again harped on the team’s tempo after the game, saying they slowed down in the fourth and it was a key reason why they lost to the Thunder. With James and Rondo out and perhaps Kuzma out too, the best advantage the Lakers might have is tempo.Related Articleslast_img read more