Friday, November 28, 2014
Blog Page 212

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After the third quarter, Phil Jackson was asked in a sideline interview what it might take the team to win the game. Phil’s answer? A rabbit’s foot maybe?

Nothing seemed to be working offensively for anyone but Pau Gasol this afternoon, and lightheartedly as Phil spoke, so did his team play. With a chance to lock up the first place in the Western Conference for good, the Lakers, again, played with little purpose, little heart, and with what set them apart last season, very little intensity.

After such a great win against a strong Utah Jazz team two days ago, the Lakers spent Easter Sunday afternoon playing catch-up. Having led by nine points quickly in the first quarter, the Spurs went on a small but effective 7-0 run to cut the lead and eventually took the game over for good.

Tim Duncan did a job on the Lakers today. As difficult as it was for the Spurs to stop Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan was himself, just as unstoppable, looking every bit like the model of steadiness that he is known for. He curled around defenders to get to the hoop, scored on mid-range jumpers, threw out assists when he was double-teamed. He is to the Spurs what Pau is to the Lakers — never flashy, but quietly and oh-so efficiently dominant.

Manu Ginobli, since Tony Parker’s absence, has been the secondary and often primary scorer for San Antonio. He was stifled by Ron Artest in the final quarter of their last meeting, but today, there was no stopping that quick two-step that has provided problems for every one of his defenders. If the Lakers had a second offensive threat today, Manu’s contributions could have been challenged, if not at the very least equaled.

Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant, who collected 22 points on 8-24, suffered another terrible shooting day and no one else on the home team scored enough (not even collectively), to compensate.

Lamar Odom, who had one of his most dominant games against Utah, scored 16 (6-13) and 19 (8-18) respectively in the previous two wins against San Antonio. Today he led the game in rebounds, with 13, but only attempted eight shots to collect nine points. For someone who, according to Coach Popovich himself, poses problems for San Antonio (and every other team in the league), Lamar should have been more aggressive offensively with Pau, especially with Kobe not shooting well.

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First and foremost, Happy Easter to the entire Lakers Nation!

The (55-21) Los Angeles Lakers will host the (46-29) San Antonio Spurs.

The Lakers shook off their road struggles and in what became a statement game that had a solid start and finish to dispatch a red-hot Utah Jazz team.

Today’s game will be the last of the regular season series. Oddly enough after the third game of the series on March 24th, it appeared that the last major road trip would be promising. All those good feeling came after the Lakers put on an excellent defensive performance.

Several people have written off the Spurs as a team that can no longer compete at a high level. I don’t agree, San Antonio can make the Playoffs with a win today and a loss by the Memphis Grizzlies against the Orlando Magic.

This is the stretch drive for every team because everyone has something to prove at this time of the year.

The way that the Lakers played against the Jazz is the mentality that this team needs to play every game. The Spurs are still one of the top teams in the Western Conference as evidenced by their recent win over the Magic with Manu Ginobli scoring 43 points.

The Spurs are a talented team that will pose a problem for any opponent. The Lakers are very familiar with this team and in my opinion it all boils down to the Lakers’ defense and execution. When the Lakers are focused, playing solid defense as well as playing with a sense or urgency, they are a difficult team to beat. The Lakers have to slow down Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan and in the process not allow the other Spurs to be a factor.

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If last year’s playoffs is an indication, then yes. Lets hope he can.

Bleacher Report: Games like the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory over the Utah Jazz serve as a reminder why forward Pau Gasol is such an integral piece of the Lakers’ rotation and a legitimate second option behind Kobe Bryant.

Gasol has had to endure constant criticism for his lack of toughness, and the team of analysts covering the game last night made the issue a point of emphasis, as they equated Gasol’s love of the opera to his soft nature.

Say what you will about Gasol, but last night’s near triple-double, which included 14 points, 16 rebounds, and nine assists, is an example of the type of impact he brings to the Lakers and proof positive of his importance to a repeat.

On a night when Bryant couldn’t seem to find the rim, Gasol managed to dominate the game, while not standing out in any particular area, but contributing in nearly every facet of the game.

He acted as a facilitator by getting his teammates involved from the post, he played solid defense, and he was a terror on the defensive boards. He was also able to use the range on his jump shot to open up room in the paint.

It was a great all-around performance from a great player, who may be unfairly criticized due to the finesse nature of his game, which really translates to the rest of his team.

Continue reading ‘Can Pau bring ‘toughness’ into post-season?’

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Very, very interesting!

Bleacher Report: The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied and successful franchises in the history of the NBA, and have established a legacy which will endure for generations.

The list of players who have donned the purple and gold reads like a who’s who of NBA royalty, and because Laker ownership is dedicated to excellence, Los Angeles has been able to maintain that through the years.

Even more impressive is the delicate manner which Dr. Jerry Buss, Jerry West, and now Mitch Kupchak have gone about constructing the team so it is relevant each season.

The Lakers have won 15 NBA championships and have only missed the postseason two times due to the ability of management to blend talent through free-agency, trades, and the NBA draft.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and Shaquille O’Neal were some of the most dominant centers of their era. The Lakers were able to pry all three away from different teams.

The list of talent which Los Angeles acquired by means of the draft is just as impressive, and may be even more responsible for the sustained glory of the franchise.

I have attempted to compile a list of the very best draft picks in Los Angeles Lakers’ history, and, similar to the unpredictability of the draft, my list may be hit or miss on some targets.

View the Slideshow of ‘Top 10 Draft Picks in Lakers history’

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O, what can happen outside the great city of Los Angeles. The Lakers found themselves away from Staples Center for five games and were hoping to go undefeated. Well, that didn’t happen and tension began to rise.

The Lakers did play strong on the opener in San Antonio. Lamar had a good first quarter as he dropped 10 points; the team was down 48-41 at the half but came out firing in the third. The team showed some determination as they outscored the Spurs 30-18, and went into the final period up 71-66.

The game did indeed end with a Lakers 92-83 victory, while Kobe and Lamar put up solid numbers.

And in the end, Kobe surpassed Alex English for 12th on the all time scoring list with 24 points; Lamar had 19 points and 13 rebounds.

Game two featured the surprising Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers. The game was controlled by the Thunder from the opening tip to the final buzzer. The first quarter had the Lakers shooting 30% from the field while the Thunder shot 48% and had a 27-15 lead.

The second quarter was no different, as the Lakers were down 53-34 and shot 37% from the field. There was no defensive pride as the Thunder were 53% shooting, Kevin Durant had 13 points and Russell Westbrook dropped 17.

There was no rise of intensity or any type of the effort from the Lakers as the Thunder won the third quarter 27-13; and eventually won the game 91-75. The Lakers did not even try to get a run going, and Phil benched Kobe for the entire fourth. The Lakers finished the game at 39% shooting, with only 7 assists and 18 turnovers.

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This isn’t good news…

ESPN: Andrew Bynum was examined by Dr. Steve Lombardo after Friday night’s 106-92 win over the Jazz. According to a team spokesperson, Lombardo said Bynum is making progress, but wasn’t ready for running or jumping yet. The center will get an MRI exam on Monday or Tuesday.

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“There’s no sense of urgency in this team right now,” a very candid Phil Jackson said to Bill MacDonald before the game. He also added, “And the coaches can’t push the stick hard enough up their butts to do it.” Talk about honesty.

Phil and the rest of the Lakers coaching staff looked more dejected and frustrated during the last road trip than they have been all season, and who could blame them?

The team was given a 5-0 challenge before they set off for a week and a half away from Staples Center, and managed to come 3 games short of completing the mission.

They played some of the most unfocused, uninspired, spiritless games that were far from what championship-caliber ball should look like and this game tonight was an undeniable must-win for this team.

A homecoming game against the red-hot Utah Jazz posed a welcome opportunity to play better in front of a friendly audience, but it also came with one gigantic caveat. A road trip wrought with quick guards, the likes of Russell Westbrook, Aaron Brooks, Chris Paul, and Jamal Crawford, it was only fitting, in a challenging post All-Star Game schedule, that even the first home game after a road trip would be against another thorn in the collective Laker foot — Deron Williams.

A team’s first field goal is often indicative of how the rest of the game will play out. The Lakers’ first points came from a running Kobe Bryant pass to a flying Lamar Odom, and that was just the beginning.

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The (54-21) Los Angeles Lakers are back home at the Staples Center to host the red-hot (50-26) Utah Jazz.

First the good news, the five-game road trip is over, Kobe Bryant has signed a three-year contract extension, and after 24-games; Luke Walton has returned.

Now the bad news, the Lakers are facing a team that is playing at a high level and has won eight of their last 10 games.

The Lakers are coming off of a horrible road trip; the team struggled mightily throughout the trip defensively. The frustration with their play of late has affected everyone on the team. Things have gone from questioning if the Lakers will repeat, to questioning if the Lakers will make it out of the first round.

I don’t agree with this assessment of the Purple and Gold, but I do understand the argument. As a fan of a team, you can’t simply give them a pass when they’re playing bad. I’m quite sure several members of the Lakers Nation can recall the late great Lakers legend Chick Hearn calling out the team when the team wasn’t getting the job done.

If you remove the second half of the Spurs game to start the road trip, the team has not looked good at all. Despite this fact I can honestly say that the team we have witnessed of late will not be the team we will see in the Playoffs later this month.

0

Thoughts?

ESPN: Of the five teams out there with no coach under contract next season — Atlanta, Memphis, New Jersey and New Orleans are the others — you’d still rank the Lakers at No. 5 on that list in terms of coaching instability.

Phil Jackson recently insisted to NBA.com that he expects to be back in 2010-11, despite any recent rumblings to the contrary, echoing suggestions Lakers owner Jerry Buss made recently to ESPN.com contributor Steve Springer that any panic is premature because Phil wouldn’t seriously entertain discussions about a contract extension until after the season anyway.

However …

It’s milder drama compared to what the Lakers have grown accustomed to in the Kobe Bryant era, but the uneasiness spreading across Lakerland about Jackson’s future is real.

Buss is said to be adamant that Jackson takes a pay cut from his $12 million annual salary in this economy and has always been a reluctant fan of Phil’s triangle offense because of his Showtime roots. Jackson, meanwhile, has insisted that he doesn’t foresee health issues preventing him from coaching next season at age 64 … but he’s also dropped a few hints about walking away if L.A. fails to repeat as champions or if a roster that features five big names (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest) and not much dependable behind them isn’t refreshed in the offseason.

1

Ron is getting a new TV show – that’s crazy (pun intended)!

Hollywood Reporter: The bad boy NBA player is to develop and produce the “They Call Me Crazy” show with E1 Entertainment and Tijuana Entertainment. The series will document the ups and downs of Artest’s life, allowing him to “make amends for past transgressions,” according to E1 Entertainment….

3

Great news alongside his new Lakers extension – he will play for team USA this summer!

Yahoo! Sports: Team USA’s oldest and youngest stars – the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant – are committed to playing this summer. As one source said, “Kobe will probably take inventory on his body at the end of the season,” but he is planning to play.

20

World, rejoice! After about a year of back and fourth talks, Kobe and the Lakers have signed a contract extension. The Black Mamba is inked for another 3 years. Lakers.com reports…

Lakers: The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard Kobe Bryant to a three-year contract extension, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

“We are extremely pleased that we were able to reach an agreement and come to terms on the extension at this time,” said Kupchak. “Kobe has been a cornerstone of the Lakers for well over a decade, helping to lead us to four NBA Championships and in the process developing into one of the greatest players in basketball history.”

“Two of our main goals heading into this season were to sign Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to contract extensions,” continued Kupchak. “With the signing of Pau earlier this season and the signing of Kobe today, we were able to accomplish those goals, helping to keep the core of this team intact for the foreseeable future and in turn help to ensure the franchise’s continued success over the years to come.”

Video after the cut…

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Good news!

ESPN: “Luke was back on the floor today and we’re hopefully that he’ll have a real good response to this practice and be available on Sunday,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson of Walton, who has played in only 24 games this season while battling a pinched nerve in his lower back.

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Bynum Update – “They will do an assessment tomorrow and we’ll find out more about it,” Jackson said. “They were going to do some diagnostic tests but they decided it wasn’t really necessary because his pain is just localized. They say it’s progressing and according to my crack training staff they say it’s right on schedule. My schedule is not like that but it’s right on their schedule.”

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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.