Friday, December 19, 2014
Blog Page 208

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An injury update. We wish D.J. the best on his eye recovery!

Twitter: DJ Mbenga out Game 1 and maybe Game 2 after emergency laser surgery to left eye tonight. Was poked in practice today.

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Description: The dawn of the storm is upon us and the defending world champions are surrounded by doubt. Doubt that they can defend their title. Despite their struggles, they must reach deep within to find the courage to “strike” back against all the haters. The storm is upon us…

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The playoffs are set; and the guys are back with their thoughts and predictions in this mega-playoff extended edition of Basketball Taboo.

Mike Brown‘s concerns about Cleveland‘s chemistry.
– Is this the end of the Boston Celtics as we know them?
– Should Lebron be the unanimous MVP choice?

Plus, Manning and Riley hand out the rest of their regular seasons awards, and offer their analysis and predictions for each of the 8 upcoming NBA Playoff series.

Co-Host: Chris Manning
Co-Host: Jason Riley
The Voice: Sharla Pair

Ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions? Complaints? Want to come join the guys on the show? Drop us an email: Taboo@theLakersNation.com.

Subscribe: RSS | iTunes

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Download Link: Basketball Taboo – Episode #6

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For all NBA fans, this time of the year is full of excitement and dramatic finishes. For some teams, making it to mid- April is an accomplishment but of the Lakers, it is a championship or bust.

We all are a bit worried about the Lakers entering the playoffs, as they went 4-6 their last 10 games and don’t look as hungry than last year. This year’s version of the Lakers finished with a record of 57-25 and will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, who went 50-32 in the season. Although the Lakers won the series season 3 games to 1, the last meeting had the Thunder blow out the Lakers 91-75; the Lakers played horrible the entire game and finished shooting only 39%.

Some people are actually questioning the Lakers hunger and drive this year and believe the Thunder will push them to tell limit. We all have to admit the Lake Show of last year had much more drive than this year’s team, and the record shows it. However, can the young and inexperienced really beat the Lakers and the ever focused Kobe Bryant? I understand that the Lakers may lack focus, but the playoff atmosphere will definitely get them fired up and ready to defend their title, so look for a short first round series.

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Its now time for him to show what he’s made of.

NBA.com: Good morning, Ron Artest. This is your mid-April wake-up call.

The playoffs are here, though Ron-Ron isn’t. In the literal sense, yes — he played and started 77 games and was second on the Lakers in total minutes, behind only Kobe Bryant. But the expected energy rush has mostly been missing. The constriction on defense has mostly been lacking.

And now here comes Kevin Durant.

It’s a first round of Bryant and the Lakers against Durant and the Thunder starting Sunday at Staples Center, and of Artest against history. Think the rumble in Auburn Hills, Mich., cemented his legacy? Try being known as the difference between a back-to-back and a flat-on-their-back.

That means Lakers management is also very much on the hook. They’re the ones that took a screwdriver to a proven fit last summer and essentially swapped 24-year-old Trevor Ariza for the 30-year-old Artest even after Ariza played a key role in the 2009 title. Ariza was allowed to leave as a free agent and sign with Houston, and Ariza took his place in Houston in a perfect bit of symmetry and easy comparison.

Welcome to the outcome. Artest had a letdown of a regular season, but the playoffs and the playoffs. Now here comes Durant — scoring champion, 6-feet-9 of perimeter game, post game, drawing fouls, putting the ball on the floor — as the first assignment in an immediate showdown that will go a long way to settling the Ariza-Artest debate.

Handle Durantula as well as can be expected, and Artest is money well spent and a hero. Get picked apart, and Staples Center will yearn for Ariza.

Continue reading ‘Time to wake up Ron Ron’

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Mind games!

ESPN.com: “I really didn’t know what he was upset about,” Jackson said. “It really wasn’t that upsetting. He shot the most free throws in the league; he made the most free throws in the league. He shot the most shots in the league; he made the most shots in the league. I voted for him on the All-Star team; he made the All-Star team. We know he’s a great player, congratulations.”

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The Zen Master speaks…

O.C. Register: At noon Thursday, the NBA MVP ballot detailed below is due in the league office in New York. And where to put Kobe Bryant on that ballot was an intriguing question, especially after hearing Phil Jackson’s answer to a seemingly softball question to name the Lakers’ MVP this season.

“Kobe for the first 50 games,” Jackson said. “But I think the last 30, Pau (Gasol) has played very well for us.”

It was borderline condemnation of Bryant’s pre-eminence as much as it was promotion for Gasol in the postseason awards, where he’ll be fortunate to make third-team All-NBA given the depth of talent at his forward position and his 17-game injury absence. To suggest that Bryant was only the Lakers’ MVP for 60-something percent of the season is radical, no matter how tremendous Gasol’s productivity and efficiency have been.

Some of it is Bryant being injured this season – the broken finger, back spasms, ankle tendon and sore knee. Some of it is Bryant, appreciating a little better how Shaquille O’Neal used to see it, adjusting the intensity in the regular season as he’s aging. Some of it is simply that he’s aging.

“The inability to go just over people and shoot the ball with people on him or at him, I think that’s something he has to adjust to,” Jackson said. “Individual vs. three or four players, sometimes he would draw a crowd and still rise above the crowd to score or to get fouled. I think those are things that now have to be measured.”

Continue reading ‘Phil: Kobe not the MVP’

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A fun Q&A with Lamar.

Dime Magazine: It’s something they’d never admit publicly, but the L.A. Lakers didn’t really care that they lost to the Clippers in last night’s regular season finale. When you’re the defending NBA champs and you’ve secured the best record in your conference for the third straight year, the real season doesn’t start until the playoffs get underway.

Lamar Odom put up 21 points and 8 boards last night, his second-highest point total since he moved into the starting lineup to replace injured Andrew Bynum in late-March. With Bynum (Achilles) expected to rejoin the lineup in L.A.’s first-round series against Oklahoma City, Odom will eventually move back to the bench, but he’s still the Lakers’ third-best player and a key cog in their chances of repeating as champs. Shortly before the Lakers/Clippers game, I got up with L.O. for a few minutes to talk about what’s next for L.A. in the postseason:

Continue reading ‘Q&A with Lamar & defending the title’

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Thoughts?

Pro Basketball Talk: It’s very trendy to be down on the Lakers right now. They’ve given everyone plenty of reasons the last month — spotty execution, horrible outside shooting, questionable defensive rotations and a general malaise.

See, there I go doing it — we act as if these Lakers are that other team in LA. The Lakers won 57 games and won the West going away, despite a number of injuries. (Kobe had a number of injuries all by himself, it just doesn’t keep him out of games). It’s trendy to think the Lakers will fall short, and plenty of people are rooting for the Lakers to self destruct in a spectacular, Lindsay Lohan fashion.

But the reality is, these Lakers can win it all. They did it last year with almost this exact same roster. They know what it takes to climb the mountain. They can flip the switch from how they have played recently. The question is will they.

The reasons they can win are well known.

They have the best starting five in basketball, when healthy. Kobe Bryant is… well, Kobe Bryant. Injured or not, he is Kobe Bean Bryant. He’s a step slower but he gets to his spots on the floor still, and he hits shots nobody else wants to take.

For the last couple weeks, Pau Gasol has been best Laker going. He is scoring 26 a game and shooting 65 percent in the five previous games leading up to Wednesday. He is boarding. He is defending. He is draining the midrange jumper. He is finding space in the offense. He is looking like one of the best fours on the planet.

Continue reading ‘Lakers are just a flipped switch away from another title’

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What are his plans?

O.C. Register: Kobe Bryant has been doing his practice shooting recently without the usual splint for his fractured right index finger, and he is considering ditching the support for the postseason, which begins Sunday.

It’s no coincidence that Bryant’s experimentation comes right before the serious part of the championship defense. While working on his shooting before the Lakers’ game Wednesday night, he was not wearing the splint.

Bryant was listed as sitting out the last two games of the season to rest his finger, which he had typically splinted when he played Sunday against Portland and missed two key free throws down the stretch. After that game Bryant mentioned considering changes, saying: “I haven’t been shooting free throws very well anyway. I’m trying to brush up on them, change it up a little bit and get it right for the playoffs.”

The two games before that Bryant skipped, he was listed as sitting out to rest his swollen right knee, not his finger. Bryant initially suffered the avulsion fracture trying to receive a pass from Jordan Farmar on Dec. 11 in the 21st game of the regular season.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a general interview with the team’s Web site that he has noticed Bryant without the brace on his finger but didn’t know Bryant’s plans.

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This is the best news I’ve heard in a while.

Lakers.com: L.A. got some good news as far as 7-foot, 22-year-old centers go:

Andrew Bynum worked out for about 40 minutes on Thursday morning with coaching assistants Chuck Person and Rasheed Hazzard, and suffered no ill effects.

The 7-footer, who missed L.A.’s final 13 games after straining his left Achilles against Minnesota on March 19, went through running, jumping and shooting drills.

Because Bynum responded well to the activity, he is expected to practice with the team on Friday.

Bynum has maintained for the last week that he will “definitely” play in Sunday’s first round opener against Oklahoma City, and Thursday’s news is the best sign the team has had towards that end.

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Not again…

ESPN: For the second time in two weeks, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson has been fined $35,000 for publicly criticizing game officials; it was announced Thursday by Stu Jackson, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations.

Jackson was fined for comments made in reference to Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the third-year forward who led the league in free-throw attempts with 10.3 per game this season.

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ESPN: The posturing has begun between the Lakers and the Thunder.

Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson told reporters Wednesday that Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant gets preferential treatment from referees.

“Yeah, by the calls he gets, he really gets to the line a lot, I’ll tell ya,” Jackson said, according to The Oklahoman’s Web site.

But Durant, who didn’t get a key foul call at the end of a 140-139 overtime loss to the Jazz last week, wasn’t happy with Jackson suggesting he’s a pampered superstar.

“Because it’s taking away from what I do,” Durant said, according to The Oklahoman. “That’s a part of my game, getting to the free-throw line and being aggressive. If you say that I get superstar calls or I get babied by the refs, that’s just taking away from how I play. That’s disrespectful to me.

“I don’t disrespect nobody in this league,” Durant said, according to the report. “I respect every coach, every player, everybody. I never say anything bad about anybody else or question why they do this or do that. So for them to say that about me, I don’t even want to use no foul language.”

Jackson might be setting the stage to get a few calls to go his way, but Durant doesn’t believe it will work.

Continue reading ‘Durant: Phil’s comments were ‘disrespectful”

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Good news. Hopefully the results are positive.

O.C. Register: Andrew Bynum has a 10 a.m. date with an empty basketball court.

Bynum is scheduled to be at the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo at 10 a.m. Thursday to do an individual on-court workout for the first time since straining his left Achilles’ tendon on March 19.

The Lakers hope there has been sufficient healing in Bynum’s tendon that he is asymptomatic during his drills and continues to feel no pain or discomfort in team practices Friday and Saturday leading up to the Sunday playoff opener.

“We don’t know if he can play six minutes a half or play 10 minutes a half,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Bynum’s game availability. “We’ll look at his conditioning and measure it from there.”

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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.