Friday, December 19, 2014
Blog Page 214

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The (54-19) Los Angeles Lakers are in New Orleans to face the (34-40) Hornets.

The game against the Thunder was tough to watch and hard to believe after such a strong defensive performance in San Antonio, but as we all know that from the moment the ball is tossed in the air both teams have the opportunity to win or lose. It proved what we all know, that the Lakers transition game isn’t their strong suit. More importantly, it showed that the first thing that the Lakers needs to do is stop the dribble penetration of their opponents.

The Lakers are now 2-1 on their five game road trip after beating the Houston Rockets, and winners of eight of their last 10 games. The Hornets have had a difficult season losing All-Star point guard Chris Paul for a large part. However, the team did find out that they had solid backup who could lead the show in Darren Collison.

The injury to Chris Paul also gave the young backcourt of Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton time to develop. The Lakers haven’t had any trouble with the Hornets this season; although in my opinion its playoff time and no one should be taken lightly.

Regardless of who starts at the point guard position, the Hornets have been a team that plays an up-tempo game that spends a lot of time out in transition running. The Lakers have to stop the ball and control the tempo. When the Hornets are forced to make plays in the half-court offense said plays will go through Chris Paul and David West.

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Inside The Lakers: I’ve been meaning to post this exchange between Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith during Thursday night’s TNT doubleheader. Barkley makes it clear he’s picking the Cleveland Cavaliers over the Lakers to win the NBA championship.

Barkley on why he believes the Cavaliers will win the championship this year: “I think the Cavaliers are the team to beat this year. This is not the same Cleveland team (as last year). With the addition of Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison they are not the same team. I never thought I would pick against the Lakers, but I’m going to.”

Smith: “The L.A. Lakers and even the Lakers fans are spoiled to the fact that they have the second-best record in basketball and they are asking ‘what’s wrong in Laker land?’ That’s a little spoiled. They are an incredible basketball team.”

Barkley: “They are missing something, they really miss Trevor Ariza. Nobody wants to say that. I like Ron Artest, but he has not played well. They are going to miss Trevor Ariza. He played great in the playoffs.”

Are they right? Are the Cavs the better team and are Lakers fans spoiled?

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Midway into the five game road trip, the Lakers have a record of 2-1, and have two more games on Monday and Wednesday.

The Lakers came into the road trip on fire, winning six straight games and looking to extend their streak at San Antonio.

The San Antonio Spurs came into last Wednesday’s game with the sixth seed at 42-27. The Lakers were very familiar with the Spurs and could possible meet them in the Playoffs this season. “We’re relatively familiar with San Antonio,” Jackson said. “They played us in the playoffs a year ago. We have a rivalry that goes back a long ways. We have some sense of who they are and how they play.” Even with All-Star guard Tony Parker out, the Spurs were still very talented, and with George Hill leading the point, the Spurs were looking for an upset.

The game was aggressive ofF the bat, and in the first quarter Lamar Odom put in 10 while Hill had 14 on 5-7 shooting. The Lakers were outscored in both of the opening quarters and were down 48-41 at the half. The Spurs had all the momentum going into the third, but the Lakers made adjustment and came out firing.

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Lakers need a bench… what we have now isn’t a bench.

OC Register: Attached to the flinging arrow was the zinging word that Phil Jackson knows really cuts Gasol.

“Pau was soft,” Jackson said Friday night.

On Saturday night, the 7-foot Gasol came out and found daring single coverage from Houston’s 6-6 Chuck Hayes, who rather closely resembles the stocky Rockets mascot bear “Clutch.”

Perhaps with Jackson’s Charmin still stuffed in his ears, Gasol tried to barge through Hayes and shoot over him. Hayes stayed low and stayed attached, affecting shots but not drawing whistles.

Gasol was incensed as an early Lakers lead was erased. He stormed to the Lakers’ bench. In that timeout is when Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw went to Gasol, did some swim moves to get past his scowls and frustrations and pointedly told Gasol to use his speed and skills to get away from Hayes.

Shaw demonstrated a post-pivot move to remind Gasol to spin and spin back the other way and reach for all the tricks in his bag. Jackson, even though he’d thrown that “soft” ball out there Friday night, had been thinking the same thing.

That’s why after Gasol listened to Shaw and finished with a season-high 30 points, Jackson smiled thinly and said of Gasol this time: “He was nifty.”

Continue reading ‘Lakers need a bench that listens’

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ESPN: The Los Angeles Lakers were happy with their bounce-back win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night after an ugly loss to Oklahoma City a night before even if coach Phil Jackson wasn’t overly impressed.

Pau Gasol scored a season-high 30 points and the Lakers beat the short-handed Rockets 109-101. Houston, playing without Kevin Martin and Shane Battier, stayed with the Lakers early, but was simply outmanned and faded in its fourth consecutive loss.

“It was real good,” Kobe Bryant said. “We really wanted to come out and play well especially after the showing we had last night.”

Jackson was disappointed that his team let a 20-point lead at the end of the third quarter dwindle to single digits in the fourth.

“I told them I’m not happy with the win, but we won the game,” he said. “We get outscored 32-20 in the fourth quarter. You don’t want to finish a game like that.”

The Lakers used a 20-0 run in the last 6 minutes of the second quarter to take a commanding lead and didn’t trail after that en route to their eighth win in nine games.

“Those last minutes of the second quarter gave us the lead and gave us momentum to kind of put them away,” Gasol said. “I was glad to see that ending of the half because we don’t do that very often.”

Continue reading ‘Lakers rebound vs. undermanned Rockets’

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Trevor spoke about Ron and the triangle. Great stuff here.

Chron: Trevor Ariza rolled his eyes and let out the sort of laugh that seemed to say he did not find anything particularly funny.

Ron Artest, Ariza’s predecessor with the Rockets and successor with the Lakers, had been comparing himself to Ariza again, this time going a different way with the attention-grabbing — imagine that — suggestion that Ariza was not only a better fit for the Lakers but a better player because Ariza has a Lakers championship ring.

But Ariza was not moved by the Artestian praise.

“He’s probably only saying that because people have been yelling,” Ariza said. “He’s doing a good job. It’s tough to go into that system and learn how to do things your first year.

“If that’s what he wants to say, I appreciate it, but I’m just trying to play here.”

When asked if he thought Artest was sincere with his opinion, Ariza did not seem to care.

“I don’t think so, but whatever,” Ariza, 24, said. “That’s his team, and this is the team I’m on. We have to do what we have to do.

“I didn’t hear it. Even if I did, I wouldn’t study it. I’m just here to play, finish out the season right. Why would we even think about that? He’s 260, I’m 210. He’s stronger. I’m a little quicker. That’s not for us to decide.”

Continue reading ‘Ariza on Artest: “He’s doing a good job. It’s tough to go into that system and learn how to do things your first year.”‘

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Not too good to hear…

O.C. Register: The good vibe from the Lakers’ impressive last game was long gone by the early fourth quarter Friday night, when the Lakers’ frustration boiled over in a heated exchange on the bench between Sasha Vujacic and assistant coach Brian Shaw.

Shaw was bent over at the waist to lecture a seated Vujacic early in a timeout with the Lakers losing, 80-53, and 9:12 to play against Oklahoma City. Shaw wound up pointing his finger in Vujacic’s face, prompting Vujacic to fire back and point his finger back in Shaw’s face.

Ron Artest quickly moved in an attempt to calm Vujacic down. Jordan Farmar, who had seemed pleased that Shaw was trying to correct Vujacic’s mistakes, wound up stepping in front of Shaw.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson removed Vujacic from the game at that point, even though Vujacic hadn’t played but the first 2:48 of the fourth quarter. Vujacic went and sat alone at the end of the bench most of the rest of the game, although Artest went over soon after in an effort to console him.

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Well Lakers, you did something no one in L.A. thought you could ever do; you played WORSE than you did on Christmas Day. After that wretched date with the team that most everyone believes will snatch that Larry O’Brien trophy from your grasp, all the waiting began — waiting for you all to show up to these regular season games and play like you’re after something; waiting for that fire and will to win to blow out from the same competitors who seized every game last season like it was theirs to own; waiting for you all to step onto the floor and play like you mean it from jump ball to final buzzer.

With this 7-game winning streak, it appeared you were finally ready to defend that title. The wait was over! Now to end that efficient string of wins on this note? Getting behind by 30 points and then losing by 16? It looks like we are all back again… still waiting…

The first 89 seconds of this game against the Oklahoma City Thunder indicated everything we needed to know regarding the outcome of this game. In those 89 seconds to start the evening, three fouls had been called on the road team — one foul apiece for Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant.

The early foul calls should have been a signal to how watchful these officials would be calling the game. In such a case, a veteran team might take the hint — bring the ball inside, draw the fouls, but no. This is not how the Lakers operated tonight. They, instead, decided not to run their offense, stay muted on defense, and not rebound. As John Ireland reported at halftime, the Lakers coaching staff said that in the first half, the team did everything that they were told NOT to do and in effect, played into a loss they certainly deserved.

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The (53-18) Los Angeles Lakers are on the second stop of their five-game road trip to face the playoff-bound (43-27) Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers beat the Spurs on Wednesday and in the process sent out a dual message; they showed the Lakers Nation that the team is ready and willing to defend their title, and the rest of the NBA; ‘remember us — the defending NBA Champion’.

The second half of the Spurs game showed the Lakers potential when motivated. The Purple and Gold completely shutdown the rival Spurs, a solid playoff team, and holding them to a total of 35 points. As impressive as the nine point road win was in all actuality, it could have been a 16-point blowout had the Lakers made all of their free throws.

The scary thing is that the Lakers are a team that is improving, building momentum, and fine tuning their game for the post season. Their scoring output hasn’t been in question, but the consistency of their defense has been.

A defense led by Ron Artest, re-introducing himself to the league as a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. He is altering the scoring of so many star players in the league that if you google search ‘locking up people defensively’ a story about Ron-Ron will appear.

His stellar defense will be on display tonight in an excellent individual match up with Thunder small forward Kevin Durant. The Lakers are 3-0 against the young and talented Thunder team this season and Kevin Durant was held under his season average in the last meeting, but they must be swept. The best scenario for the Lakers will see the team play solid defensively; have Kobe Bryant start the game as a facilitator and finish it in closer mode.

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Update: Congratulations to awesomerob24 and Sam Lopez on winning our gift card giveaway. Check your e-mail for directions. Thanks to everyone that entered!

The Lakers Nation and GameStop have teamed up to give two lucky fans either a $100 NBA Store gift card or a $100 GameStop gift card!

Before we give you the deets on how to win these awesome prices, ya’ll might be interested to know that GameStop announced it will host a DJ Hero Battle on Saturday, March 27 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at more than 170 stores in the Los Angeles area. Start practicing your mixes and grooves in order to drop by any participating location and earn your top score to enter online at Lakers.com/DJHero. By entering a score, all players will get the chance to win hot Lakers tickets and be featured playing DJ Hero on Lakers TV.

The 3183 Wilshire Blvd location in Los Angeles will include appearances by the Lakers Girls and DJ Jeff G and the Flava Unit from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Radio station KPWR? POWER106? will be on site with giveaways and to keep the crowd pumped throughout the battle.

Other activities include…

  • Open game play area featuring DJ Hero on XBOX 360
  • Pictures and autographs with the Laker Girls
  • Radio Giveaways!

For a list of Los Angeles participating locations, visit Lakers.com/DJHero.

HOW EPIC IS THAT?

Giveaway deets after the cut…

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This is great news! Let’s get that three-peat!

NBA.com: Phil Jackson hopes to return next season as Lakers coach and does not anticipate that his return will be sidetracked by health issues or negotiations on a new lucrative contract, he told NBA.com Friday.

Jackson stopped short of saying an extension to remain in Los Angeles is a certainty, wanting to keep open his options until he talks with doctors after the season. And he conceded there is a lure to retiring. But the most-decorated coach in NBA history, with a record 10 championships, is clearly feeling better than a year ago and has been in good spirits all season.

Asked if he thinks he will be back with a new deal in 2010-11, Jackson said without hesitation: “Yeah.”

“The wear and tear of a season, I think, affects everybody, the travel and whatever else you have to do for an extended time,” he said at the Ford Center after a Lakers shootaround in preparation for the game against the Thunder later Friday. “But, all that being said, I’m as mobile as I’ve ever been in the last three years. That helps. I’m dealing with less arthritic elements that are painful things going on as you age. But there are still considerations as to the duration that I will coach, simply because I have to stay attuned to that.

“I look at something that happened like George Karl [the Nuggets coach who has been spending time away from the team while undergoing cancer treatment] and I just think it’s a shame. You can’t predict or project that as a possible situation, but he’s going to miss part of the season and it’s going to affect his team. I wouldn’t want to put a franchise in that position when there’s young healthy guys that can do the job.”

But, unlike a year ago at this time, he does not expect that health will be a determining factor.

“Probably not,” Jackson said. “I go at the end of the year for a medical checkup now. There are a couple issues I deal with, and if they’re all ‘go’, then I’ve cleared myself. If it’s a warning situation, then I’ll have to have another consideration.

Continue reading ‘Lakers’ Jackson expects to be back next season’

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Ugh! Injuries, how I hate you.

LA Times: Lakers forward Lamar Odom had actually kept his left shoulder injury undisclosed for 14 games, but then Coach Phil Jackson mentioned it after the Lakers’ victory last Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves

…. he promised he wouldn’t use the injury as an excuse.

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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.