Friday, December 19, 2014
Blog Page 210

6

We WANT him to sit!

ESPN: Kobe Bryant won’t be missing any more games this season to rest his legs and swollen right knee. He plans on playing when the Lakers close the regular season with a back-to-back Tuesday against Sacramento and Wednesday against the Clippers to “sharpen up” and said “we want to win both of these games.”

Bryant’s shot could certainly use a little sharpening. Bryant shot just 8-for-23 on Sunday after sitting out the Lakers last two games in hopes of getting back the lift in his legs that was lacking and affecting the trajectory of his attempts. Bryant’s shot total in the last three games he’s played in is an alarming 21-for-70 (30 percent).

While his final line didn’t reflect it, Bryant said the time off made a difference, in his limbs at least, but straddled the line when rest leads to rust.

“It feels pretty good,” Bryant said. “It’s a little rusty, a little stiff from not playing, not being active. I’ll be fine. That’s why it’s important to get out there and play a little bit, loosen up the joints a little bit . . . It’s OK. It feels strong.”

Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who played a big part in convincing Bryant to sit out the two games in the first place, saw improvement in his guard’s legs as well.

“He shot the ball poorly today but I think some of it was more shot selection,” Jackson said. “It looked like at the end of the game he got into it and got in rhythm and got that energy behind his game that he has.”

Jackson said he will not sit any of his players over the final two games the way he sat Bryant.

Continue reading ‘Kobe will not sit last 2 games of the season’

19

Pau Gasol waited for Kobe Bryant before approaching the bench for a timeout. They smiled at each other, Pau rubbed Kobe on the back of the head and suddenly, a familiar phenomenon resurfaced; one that seemed to come and go as this past season has progressed. Just a few seconds before Portland called the timeout, the shot clock ran down to its final few seconds when Kobe penetrated, jumped like he was going to take a shot, but passed to his left where Pau was waiting. In one swift move, Pau caught the ball in midair with both hands, lowered his left arm, and guided the ball with his right — two points.

The phenomenon that was there throughout last season’s championship run but seems to have gone missing through so much of this season? A kindred spirit — that kinship and natural affinity towards each other, in this case, out there on the hardwood.

Last season’s Laker team was overflowing with this kinship. They had one mission — a championship title; one strategy — defense; and they had one collective attitude — all or nothing.

This season, however, this kindredness has been difficult to identify.

This Sunday afternoon game was the second of a nationally televised double-header with the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers playing first (Note: Does anyone notice how the Lakers seem to lose on the same days that the Cavaliers lose? Just a strange observation). Though the Lakers have already secured home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, and beating Cavaliers out of the best record in the league is now impossible, a secondary goal of at least staying ahead of Orlando for the second best record was set, just in case the two teams were to meet again in the Finals.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, getting from Game 1 of the playoffs to Game 1 of the NBA Finals will not be a cakewalk. First they have to get through teams in the tougher of the two conferences and their first round possible match-up could be their opponents today — the Portland Trailblazers.

15

The (56-23) Los Angeles Lakers are hosting the (48-31) Portland Trailblazers in a Sunday Matinee game at the Staples Center. Today’s game starts the last week of the regular season but make no mistake, the Purple and Gold are prepared to defend their Championship title.

In beating the Timberwolves on Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers earned the top spot in the Western Conference for the third straight season.

A win is a win and I’ll take it, but it was a mixed bag of both good and bad things. The bench led by Jordan Farmar’s 13 points (hitting 3-6 shots from behind the arc) scored 33 points, D.J. Mbenga scored a career-high 11 points and the team had only 12 turnovers for the game.

The Lakers have split their last two games, although the effort shows me that this team is prepared to put up a fight. I always feel that once you reach mid-March on the schedule, a team needs to play Playoff basketball and in my mind’s eye, I have some concerns about the team. However, no doubt that people have prematurely counted this team out. I also feel that several teams will pay for their transgressions.

I’m not buying all of the ‘this team won’t make it out of the first round’ talk. The haters making this statement seem to have forgotten that this team has already done all the things that the naysayers are saying that this team can’t do now. It won’t be easy, but the Lakers will repeat. Regardless of what happens in the Playoffs, the outcome will be solely based on what the Lakers are able to accomplish.

The Trailblazers have been a thorn in the Lakers side for a while. The season series is tied, considering that on February 6th the Lakers won in Portland at the Rose Garden to snap a 9-game losing streak without Kobe Bryant.

2
Out of Bounds with Jason Riley

Years before Pau Gasol breathed life back into the Lakers organization, Derek Fisher cemented his crunch-time legacy and Kobe surged into the GOAT conversation… they were there.

Pinched between generational periods of Boston sport-hate, disgust for the overconfident Denver Nuggets and the hushed arrogance of NBA poster boy Kobe East (Lebron James)… they were there.

From dunk-on-you Kobe to step-back jumper Kobe; young-Phil to aged-Phil and all the championship parades in-between… the San Antonio Spurs have always been there, methodically providing the Lakers with a legitimate rival – one who has been able to do something that none of the Lakers’ pretend western conference challengers have…

Beat a championship caliber Lakers’ team when it matters. (’99, ’03)

The San Antonio Spurs have always given me that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach – you know, the one Kendrick Perkins feels when he accidentally glances at a mirror.

6

No need for him to play now, he should take the game off.

ESPN: “He’s anticipating [playing],” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said after his team’s practice Saturday.

“It depends on how he feels,” Jackson said. “He may be very live tomorrow and feel great. We’ll see how he plays. He obviously wanted to compete, so we’ll see how he plays.”

“We talked about it on the plane last night and [Bryant] said “I have every intention of playing, I just hope it progresses as well as its going,'” Jackson said.

8

It has been mentioned repeatedly in each of the last two games. With their next win, the Lakers would clinch the top spot in the Western Conference. They could not get it done against San Antonio, and they could not get it done in Denver, either. Tonight, however, they finally cemented their first place in the ultra-competitive West as the playoffs feel that much closer.

Reported to have arrived in Minneapolis at 3:00AM after a hard-fought game against Denver, the Lakers could have let another get away from them and it would not have been a surprise, given their inconvenient traveling circumstances.

Item #1 on Stu’s Views, however, was “No Excuses.” A late night, an early morning — it should not matter how exhausted you feel. Put your best foot forward and just play. Item #3 states, “Remember Who You Are.”

Against a young, but pesky, Minnesota Timberwolves team, who is still trying to find themselves, it was not difficult for the Lakers to be reminded of the huge gap that lay between them and their opponents this evening. On one side, a coach who holds the record for the most NBA titles and a veteran team defending their championship; on the other, a new coach teaching the nuances of the triangle offense to a patchwork of youths still learning to stitch their way together.

Pau Gasol, finding his efficiency at just the right time, remained the floor leader on this team. No one in a Minnesota uniform could guard against Pau’s quickness or his offensive arsenal. He scored on a swinging left-handed hook shot, jumpers and dunks. His knowledge of every player’s position on the floor was, as usual, keen, allowing him to create plays from the inside. Each time he was doubled, passes to open men were deliberate and crisp, often resulting in wide-open opportunities.

With 29 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks, Pau had one of his most well rounded games to date.

4

Well we could use a rested Pau now that we clinched the #1 seed in the west.

O.C. Register: Pau Gasol told Phil Jackson he doesn’t need a stay at the Kobe Bryant Rest and Relaxation Spa.

Bryant has spent the past two games recharging his legs and watching the games on TV back in the team’s locker room, getting treatment and kicking back in sweats instead of in dress clothes that would be mandated for him to wear if he sat on the bench with the team. Gasol has put up monster numbers both in Denver and Minnesota as the team’s primary option, and he feels strong enough that he doesn’t want to sit out to prepare for the postseason.

Gasol did get some time off earlier this season with two hamstring injuries, and now he wants to stay in rhythm.

“It’s just the way I feel better going into the playoffs,” Gasol said Friday night.

He also noted the Lakers will probably have a day of total rest after the regular season ends Wednesday and then more days without games before the postseason opener.

“That’s plenty of rest for me,” Gasol said.

Continue reading ‘Pau doesn’t won’t sit rest of the season’

3

The (55-23) Los Angeles Lakers are in the land of 10,000 lakes to face the (15-63) Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Lakers took one on the chin last night by losing a very winnable game to the Nuggets. However, Kobe Bryant not suiting up was a game time decision and understandable.

The Lakers showed great effort in erasing a 15-point deficit to get back into the game, but some uncharacteristic things happened down the stretch. They came up dry on two straight possessions toward the end of the game, although what has me still scratching my head was to see the team play solid defense and the possession should have ended with Shannon Brown blocking J.R. Smith’s shot and the Lakers securing the rebound with a great shot at a great win without Kobe Bryant.

Two decisions sealed the Purple and Gold’s fate last night; Shannon Brown’s ill-advised pass and Phil Jackson deciding not to use one of two available time-outs to set up a play without the best closer in the business in uniform.

The fact of the matter is that the Lakers still need just one win in the last four games of the regular season to wrap up the top seed in the Western Conference. That win will happen tonight on the road against the Timberwolves.

The Lakers can’t take anyone lightly to include tonight’s opponent. The positive that the Lakers Nation can take away from last nights game was that even with a skeleton crew, the team put up a solid effort and were in position to win the game. That statement couldn’t be said throughout the most recent five-game road trip.

It is imperative that the Lakers receive a contribution from everyone tonight.

0

Great article!

O.C. Register: As amusing as it was to see always earnest Andrew Bynum sitting at his locker before the game wearing his nerdy computer headset to learn Spanish from Rosetta Stone …

As refreshing as it was to see some sincere enthusiasm in the faces of longtime Lakers Luke Walton andLamar Odom while this team actually cared enough to try really hard …

As much as Pau Gasol’s voice began to take on a Jan Brady “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” tone when asked one too many questions about Kobe Bryant not playing after Gasol had played and put up 26 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks …

Nothing from this Thursday night in Denver will be remembered, ultimately, except that Bryant had enough weakness and discomfort in a swollen right knee not to play. (Sorry, Pau.)

That’s because a month from now, maybe two, Bryant’s jumper will look as pretty as confetti falling from the rafters again. Or maybe it will be flat, his elevation won’t be quite right, his efficiency will be down and there will be no confetti for the Lakers this time around.

Either way, we’ll remember Phil Jackson and the Lakers did what they could to revive Bryant and this twice-surgically-repaired knee (2003 and ’06), and it worked or it didn’t. The ramifications are so monumental that it makes the gamble to sacrifice today for tomorrow easily worth it.

“We want him ready for the playoffs,” said Gasol, who was perfectly willing to answer the first time he was asked about Bryant not playing.

Continue reading ‘Resting Kobe now is a smart move for Lakers’

2

No important games coming up, so I don’t mind.

L.A. Times: Lakers center Andrew Bynum missed his ninth game because of a strained left Achilles’ tendon, though he pledged to return by a fairly important date — April 18.

“I’m going to play the first game of the playoffs,” he said before the Lakers played Denver, staying back in the locker room with Kobe Bryant, who sat out because of swelling in his right knee.

24

This game began much the same way that many Laker games of late seem to begin — with the Lakers appearing ready to play, moving the ball, getting offensive rebounds for second chance points and then, as fast as you can say “altitude,” they are suddenly down by nine.

Three-point shooting, again, affected the Lakers tonight — those that Denver shot with ease, and those that the visiting team simply could not hit.

After Carmelo Anthony let one loose from beyond the arc, Phil Jackson immediately called a timeout, lashing at his team as they made their way to the bench. Shooters seemed to be wide open all over the court.

The second quarter started with a Carmelo drive directly to the basket with not one player in Purple and Gold standing in his way. It took 20 shots for ‘Melo to get his 31 points, but the Lakers’ defense against him was not as potent as it had been in that fourth quarter the last time these two teams met. Perhaps Ron Artest, assigned to ‘Melo watch, was in more of an offensive groove tonight.

In the absence of Kobe Bryant, it was Ron who helped Pau Gasol on the offensive end, shooting 7-11, three from downtown.

Helping ‘Melo carry the offensive weight tonight was J.R. Smith off the bench. As smug and cocky as any professional athlete can be, J.R. Smith is, at the very least, a dependable source of offense for Denver off the bench. He thinks he can shoot over anyone, blow past anyone, and defend against anyone. And as hated as he is by so many Laker fans, at least he has stats to back up his talk, which is more than can be said for the Laker reserves.

At the end of the first half, it was Laker Bench 12, J.R. Smith – 16.

0

I think he should miss the games to rest. Team USA won’t bring him an NBA trophy.

ESPN: Bryant said he is playing “as far as I know,” but added that the decision would hinge on his health.

“Obviously I have a couple health issues, one being a cracked finger,” Bryant said. “But, we’ll see how it goes.”

0

Are we ready for the playoffs? Chris Manning and Jason Riley sure are, and they’re back with a brand new edition of Basketball Taboo.

Here’s what’s on tap for Episode #5…

  • Mark Cuban’s comments on the Mavs ability to, and we quote, “kill anybody”.
  • Real GM’s report on Lebron James’ decision to stay in Cleveland – no matter what.
  • The Rasheed Wallace Project vs. The Ron Artest Project.

Plus, the guys talk about the Lakers playoff chances, Kobe’s injuries, Bill Simmons and, of course, get to your questions in an all-new Taboo Mailbag.

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 #5

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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.