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1. You have a $100k salary cap to build your team.
2. You pick 8 players (2 guards, 2 forwards, 2 centers and 2 utility) to fill your roster.
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The (44-19) Los Angeles Lakers are in Texas for round three with the (51-11) San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have the best record in the Association. The also have a franchise record 22-game home win streak and a NBA-best 29-2 mark at the AT&T Center.
In San Antonio’s last game, they routed the Miami Heat by 30 and hitting a franchise-record 17 three pointers. They benefitted from a speedy return from injury of Tony Parker.
The Lakers lost both games against the Spurs this season despite playing well enough to win the last contest at the Staples Center by going down to defeat on a last second tip in basket.
This is the first leg of a four game road trip for the Lakers. All four opponents hold one of the league’s 10 best records. The bulldog, Derek Fisher, will play today and start.
They won a sloppy game and finally defeated the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday. They take a six-game winning streak into today’s game.
Kwame Brown went after an offensive board and, with Fisher’s left arm caught up in his right, tried to untangle himself from his former teammate by pulling away. The slow-mo caught Fisher’s face after Brown pulled on his left arm – it was a look of pain. The Lakers took a timeout and Fisher headed to the locker room. He was done for the night. On the Bobcats’ possession after that timeout, D.J. Agustin drove to the basket and let a floater fly, but it was blocked and knocked against the backboard with a thump hard ‘round the arena.
Dear Bobcats. That was for Derek Fisher. Love, Andrew Bynum.
With their big man, Gerald Wallace, in Portland, the Charlotte Bobcats are not the same team that defeated this Lakers team a few weeks ago. Kwame Brown? He had 6 points, 7 rebounds. Bynum was THE MAN out there for the Lakers. Nine points on 3-4, 3-4 from the free throw line, 17 rebounds, 6 blocks, 1 steal and zero fouls. He was the menace that Charlotte may have scouted for on offense, but had no plan for what he did to them on the defensive end. Bynum ate up every rebound there was to have, and he contested the shots of whoever was shooting around him. Agustin will have nightmares about this man tonight. From the quick smaller guards, to the big men in the paint, Bynum could’ve cared less who was taking the shot. If they were within his reach, he’d contest their attempt, and the difference he made on the court was crystal clear as soon as he stepped off the floor.
The (43-19) Los Angeles Lakers are at Staples Center tonight squaring off with the pesky (26-34) Charlotte Bobcats. The Lakers happen to have a losing record against the Bobcats. They’ve had difficulty with the Bobcats in Charlotte and Los Angeles. In fact, the Lakers have lost eight of their last 10, and that includes a 20-point whipping in February.
The Lakers have payback on their minds tonight. They’re seeking revenge against a team that has given them fits on more than one occasion and a sixth consecutive win. This match up has been maddening for the Lakers as the Charlotte Bobcats have taken three of the last four games at Staples Center.
The Bobcats have gone through some huge changes since their February 14 win. Charlotte traded Gerald Wallace to Portland for Joel Przybilla, Sean Marks, Dante Cunningham and two first round draft picks. The two wins the Lakers have against the Bobcats were with Gerald Wallace out of the lineup due to injury.
According to reports and by all indications, Matt Barnes will be ready to suit up for tomorrow nights game against the Charlotte Bobcats. Barnes successfully ran a full practice today in El Segundo.
Barnes tore his knee cartilage earlier in the year against the New Orleans Hornets. Early reports had Barnes out of action for an expected 8 weeks. In his absence, Luke Walton and Devin Ebanks have gotten a jump in playing time.
In the season and a half that Ron Artest has played in Los Angeles, he’s been called many things by media and fans alike; ‘Triangle Offense Guru’ isn’t one of them.
Phil Jackson had a rather strange (but considering it’s Phil, not so strange) comment to make regarding Artest’s grasp of the offense after Tuesday nights 90-78 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves:
“He’s probably a little better at it than Kobe [Bryant] is, because Kobe ignores the offense,”
If you have a feel for Jackson’s intensions — it doesn’t take much to realize that he’s taking a jab at Kobe, as opposed to complimenting Artest’s understanding of the triangle; an offense that Kobe has been running for about a decade of his career.
With that said, this had much ado about nothing. Jackson’s comments tend to be a bit lighthearted at times; it’s hard to read into his sense of humor when in quotes. None the less, noteworthy.
…And we’re not talking about the weather. Boy were the Lakers cold on the court tonight. They didn’t attempt their first shot until almost two minutes into the game, and didn’t hit their first field goal until almost three minutes after that, and that was on their SEVENTH attempt. They managed to hit just five shots in 22 tries in the first quarter and finished with a measly 30% shooting after 24 minutes. Awful. Awful. Awful.
Tonight was nothing like their last visit in November, when Matt Barnes played a perfect game; going 7-7 from the field, 5-5 from behind the arc, and 5-5 from the free throw line. There was no Barnes on the court today, and there were certainly no signs of perfection. Nonetheless, the Lakers found a way to win. Like they’ve learned on a few occasions this season, when the offense isn’t flowing, then get your defense going, and that’s exactly how they managed their fifth straight victory.
At the top of the scouting report for the Timberwolves was Kevin “Mr. Double-Double” Love. In a win over the Golden State Warriors this past Sunday, Love went for 37 points and 23 rebounds. There is no doubt who the head of the snake in Minnesota is, and just like they did in their last win over this team, the Lakers’ target was clear. Behead the reptile and leave with a win. In their last meeting, Love was held to zero points on 0-7 from the field and a very pedestrian seven rebounds. Tonight he still got his double-double, with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but it took 2-10 shooting and 9-10 free throws to get there. Phil Jackson noted in his post-game interview that their plan was to close in on Love, and not allow him any space to shoot. With Love limited, opportunities opened up for rookie, Wesley Johnson and Michael Beasley to take over, but it just wasn’t enough.
The (42-19) Los Angeles Lakers have returned to the city the franchise called home in the 1940’s and 1950’s; Minneapolis, Minnesota. Known as the “city of lakes” to face the (14-46) Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers won six championships in three leagues to become the NBA’s first dynasty prior to moving to Los Angeles.
The Timberwolves are dead last in the league in points allowed. The Lakers have won both games against the T-Wolves this season. The Lakers have won the season series the last three seasons. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 games at the Target Center winning six straight.
During the Lakers 112-95 win on 11/19/2010, Matt Barnes was outstanding. Barnes led the Lakers in scoring with 24 points on a perfect shooting night (7-7 from the Field, 5-5 from 3-point range, 5-5 from the Free Throw line) while grabbing seven boards and handing out six assists in an efficient 24 minutes off the bench.
“I love everything about those kids,” Kobe Bryant said of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. “They work extremely hard, they’re all about winning and they’re not afraid.”
Hard-working, hungry for victory and fearless – sounds like someone we know. And with just a quarter left in the regular season, Bryant is aware that in order to get to the top of the mountain again, he can’t be the only one on this defending championship team with a relentless drive for greatness. Maybe it took a short break during the All-Star weekend to put it all together. Maybe with the bulk of the regular season behind them, the Lakers are finally ready to sprint the final leg to the playoffs. The means to that end will not be an easy one, but based on this latest four-game winning streak, this team looks more than just alive. They are actually kicking.
The last time the Lakers were in Oklahoma City, they had just eliminated the Thunder in that challenging first-round of last season’s playoffs. But before that visit, they were trounced in Games 3 and 4 by the young team and, let’s face it, their uber supportive home crowd. With OKC beefing up their roster with the addition of Kendrick Perkins, they have a chance to finally compete with the Lakers’ size, and today’s game proved just how much they need it.
The (41-18) Los Angeles Lakers are on the road for the 61st game of the season facing the (36-21) Oklahoma City Thunder. It is the first time in Oklahoma City for the Lakers since the Pau Gasol tip-in basket ended Game Six and the first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs.
The Thunder traded for two veteran big men, Kendrick Perkins, Nazr Mohammed and Nate Robinson. This move adds veteran toughness, inside presence, playoff experience, bulk, and a defensive mindset needed as an accompaniment to the athleticism and scoring ability of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Although it may appear today that the Thunder has received damaged goods, when healthy Kendrick Perkins is one of the best low-post defenders in the game. This has the potential to be a solid move for the future of the Thunder.
Eric Bledsoe saw an open lane and drove to the hoop. He tossed up a floater but his attempt changed directions when it met the long arm of Andrew Bynum. A half a moment later, DeAndre Jordan grabbed the offensive rebound from Bledsoe’s miss and rose to get a shot up himself, but the ball was met, again, by the hand of Bynum. The moral of this story – if you have a skilled 7-footer who can defend as well as he can score, you let the trade deadline pass without moving him, so thank you, Mitch Kupchack.
Bynum, with his 16 points on 6-10, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block may not be a defensive stopper, but he sure makes players think twice when he gets in their way. If his stat line is reflective of anything, let it be indicative of his offensive aggression (getting in at least 10 attempts, which is a good number for this team full of scorers), effort (double digit boards) and his ability to see himself as more than just a big body who can muscle up a dunk (four dimes).
Playing just as actively as Bynum was his fellow 7-footer, Pau Gasol, whose jumper from outside the paint (and I know I’ve said this a hundred times this season but it deserves mentioning), is just as lethal as his left-handed hook shots. Gasol, aka the Black Swan, was a force with which the Clippers could not reckon in the first half. He had 18 points after two quarters, and finished with 22 on an almost perfect 8-9 from the field, not to mention a flawless 6-6 from the free throw line. He also handed out four assists and blocked two shots. The only black mark from his evening were the four rebounds. Gasol averages10.50 rpg. There is absolutely no excuse for pulling down less than half of that average.
With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.