Friday, December 19, 2014
Blog Page 218

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The (48-18) Los Angeles Lakers are in Northern California for the two remaining games of this road trip; tonight, facing the (18-47) Golden State Warriors in Oakland.

The last time these teams met; the Warriors’ Monta Ellis and the Black Mamba couldn’t go, but the game turned out to be the Shannon Brown show. Brown led the way, putting on a show for the Purple and Gold faithful by posting 27 points and 10 rebound stat line.

Before you casually look at the Warriors win-loss record and consider this an easy win for the Lakers, I urge you to proceed with caution and consider the Lakers struggles against other teams with poor records that are considered non-playoff teams.

The Lakers have dominated the Warriors for quite sometime; taking 23 of the last 26 games including tonight’s match up. The Lakers can and will build on the win against the Suns and carry it through the remainder of the season simply by playing with a sense of urgency and stringing together solid wins regardless of the opponent.

Ron Artest said that he wants the Lakers to finish the regular season 18-0; I like that thought, I like the mentality that it’s doable and I know for a fact that the Lakers Nation feels the same way.

The Lakers will defend their title, but are still in need of improvements. The Lakers needs to eliminate the turnovers, rebound better and shake being allergic to the free throw line. The Warriors are a team that causes a lot of turnovers so the Purple and Gold will have to take care of the basketball and make quality passes.

The Warriors are a team that wants to get out in transition and score easy baskets. Lakers need to control the tempo by establishing both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the painted area and allow them to go to work.

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This sounds awesome! Hope they break the world record!

Per ESPN Los Angeles: This Saturday, March 20th, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest will attempt to break the Guiness World Record for “Most Free Throws Made by a Pair within 60 Seconds”. Current record stands at 10 made freethrows by a pair from England.

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Are the Lakers really doing well? Share your thoughts.

Daily News: Ron Artest has insisted for months the Lakers haven’t played well. He has been concerned about it and has suggested the reason for their mediocre play was because things were too easy at the start of the season.

He said Sunday he saw a change in the team during the Lakers’ latest victory, however. He said he saw some of the fire and efficiency they displayed while starting the season with an 18-3 record.

The Lakers ended a four- game losing streak on the road with a 102-96 victory Friday over the Phoenix Suns, which gave them a two-game winning streak. They led for most of the second half and outplayed the Suns down the stretch.

“We’ve always been confident,” Artest said. “We were just kind of waiting for it to be handed to us rather than going out there and doing the right things. In Phoenix, we did that. We didn’t play well, but we did make an effort to play team basketball.”

It’s no secret the Lakers (48-18) are a better team when they share the ball, especially when they pass it to 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the triangle offense. They haven’t been nearly as effective when they abandon the triangle.

Artest called the season “a hell of a storm” and a “roller-coaster ride” when asked to explain why the Lakers haven’t played their best for a while. He said the team has been anxious to get to the playoffs and hasn’t given the regular season its due.

Continue reading ‘Arest: Lakers on the right path’

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Alvin Gentry gives the Lakers some more love.

Daily News: Struggles? What struggles?

OK, so maybe the Lakers haven’t been as crisp in their play this month as they were in February or January, but really, what’s not to like? They’re still the team to beat in the Western Conference, according to Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry.

The Lakers are not as vulnerable as some might think, Gentry insisted Friday.

“I don’t know if there’s any team out there playing that can beat them four out of seven games (in a playoff series),” he said. “I don’t know if that’s possible. They’ve got a completely different agenda than what we have. We’re trying to get ourselves into the playoffs. They’re trying to get themselves ready for a championship run.

“I don’t know if vulnerable is the word I would use.”

To be sure, the Lakers recently had their share of troubles on the road, including a three-game losing streak going into Friday’s game against the Suns. They were swept on a three-game trip to Miami, Charlotte and Orlando earlier this month.

“They haven’t closed out a few games,” Gentry said, referring to their losses to the Heat in overtime and the Magic in the closing seconds after Kobe Bryant missed a potential tying jump shot.

Charlotte played great against them.

“Even the Toronto game, they struggled in that and once again (Bryant) rescued them (with a last-second jump shot to help the Lakers win Tuesday’s game),” Gentry said.

Continue reading ‘Alvin Gentry: Lakers far from vulnerable’

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Derek doesn’t look like he wants to let go of this game after he’s done.

ESPN: Derek Fisher has steadfastly maintained plans to keep playing after his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers expires, but when retirement beckons, coaching is one of the options Fisher is considering.

“I think about a number of different things that I feel like I enjoy doing and could be committed to and passionate about doing,” said Fisher after Sunday’s practice in El Segundo. “That’s probably what would be the most important thing in terms of the impact of my decision about what I do after I’m done.”

Having always been observant of coaching strategies and approaches, Fisher said he finds himself thinking even more at this stage of his career about how he’d handle issues during a game.

“I think we all have a natural instinct to visualize ourselves in certain positions and places in our lives. Obviously being closer to the end than the beginning, those pictures are coming into vision clearer and better than they did when I first came into the league.”

Continue reading ‘Fisher ponders coaching career’

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Ron Artest wants to close out the season without losing.

ESPN: “We just want to win every game and hopefully just win out,” Artest said. “That would be the main goal, just not to lose anymore.”

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Chris Manning and Jason Riley are back for another episode of ‘Basketball Taboo’ – and a promise to ramble less (or at-least try to).

In this episode, they discuss:

  • Does Kobe trust his teammates?
  • Are the Celtics championship contending days over with?
  • Can the Lakers repeat?

Plus, the guys talk Kobe’s best clutch shot of the season and whether or not that makes the Lakers record look better than they actually are.

Ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions? Complaints? Want to be a Guest? Send us an email: Taboo@theLakersNation.com.

[Voice Talent: Sharla Pair]

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Download Link: Basketball Taboo – Episode #2

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The greatest of all compliments comes from Alvin Gentry. Good to see Kobe getting the respect he deserves.

AZ Central: How much respect does Suns coach Alvin Gentry have for Lakers star Kobe Bryant?

At his team’s morning shootaround, Gentry said that if Friday night’s game at US Airways Center came down to a final possession for the Lakers, Bryant would have to shoot “over three guys.”

But by about an hour before tipoff, Gentry had upgraded, saying Bryant “will have to make a shot over four guys.”

“He’s the best closer in the history of the game if you ask me,” Gentry said. “Yeah, that is including Michael Jordan. I just think what he’s done this year, to have six game-winning shots that come on the last possession of the game, I don’t know if anybody has ever done that.

“If that’s the case, we have to try to make somebody else be that closer. That’s not to say that he’ll give it up. I’ve seen him make it over three guys, too. But as far as we’re concerned, we have to try to get the ball out of his hands some kind of way.”

Gentry noted that Bryant was on the floor at 4:45 p.m. putting up shots – and it turned out he actually had gotten out there about a half-hour earlier.

“I tell our guys, ‘You want to be great?’ That’s how you become great,” Gentry said.

Continue reading ‘Alvin Gentry calls Kobe best closer in NBA history’

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A fantastic article on Kobe Bryant and his leadership.

Yahoo! Sports: Privately, people wonder: How many more passes does Kobe Bryant give Pau Gasol for speaking so boldly about him? How long until Bryant’s public and private reprisal comes with a ferocity that could bring a 7-footer to his knees? All season, Gasol has been a relentlessly consistent, if not passively aggressive, critic of the franchise star’s shooting habits, of an offense that doesn’t deliver him the ball with the frequency that he wants.

“I believe in what I believe,” Gasol said.

Hours before Friday night’s victory over the Phoenix Suns, chatting on a chair inside U.S. Airways Center, Bryant let out a laugh and insisted there will be no public rebuttals. “I’m not touching that,” Bryant said with a smile and shrug.

Bryant could come out and say that Gasol had never won a playoff game until arriving to the Lakers. He could tell Gasol that the Lakers still had the NBA’s best record without him for a month to start the season. He could tell him to make a free throw in the last minutes of tough games, tell him to toughen up.

Truth be told, Kobe Bryant could tell Pau Gasol to simply shut the bleep up.

Only, Bryant doesn’t do it. Tempted? Well, of course. Yet, the reason for such restraint is simple: The Lakers desperately need Gasol, and a public chastising of him would almost assuredly reduce his fragile psyche to rubble, costing Bryant the player he needs to catch Michael Jordan and his six championship rings.

Bryant responds with polite, processed reason: He isn’t playing differently this season, he insists.

Perhaps circumstances have changed, but not him.

Continue reading ‘Bryant measures his leadership of Lakers’

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The Lakers have been a topic of conversation in the NBA lately, and not because of anything they’re doing right; mostly because of everything they’re doing wrong. The Lakers have been criticized often for being soft, apathetic or lacking effort on defense, but the one area they’ve always been able to fall back on to squeak out a win is their prolific offense.

The last few games, however, paint a different picture, and though they shot 51% in the loss to Miami and 49.4% tonight against Phoenix, they shot just 36.2% in Charlotte and 37.5% in Orlando.

One bad shooting night is not unheard of in the NBA. It’s a long season after all, but to have two brick-tossing games in a row in the year they are defending a title? Unacceptable. Is the stagnant offense dumbfounding and a bit concerning? Yes. Is it irreparable? No.

Kobe Bryant, reported to have arrived more than two hours before the game to shoot around, scored 21 points from only 16 attempted shots. Playing against the highest-scoring team in the NBA, the Lakers needed to pull out every scoring weapon they had in the armory and Kobe, their sharpest shooter, had to be on point.

Scoring first in the game on a turnaround followed by an and-1, Kobe’s game face was just as it was after his game-winning shot against Toronto — focused and very businesslike.

With 17 games left before the playoffs, and with two teams hovering over their first place seat in the Western Conference, Kobe is done having his fun and some of his teammates seemed to follow suit.

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The numbers behind the clutch shooting and no surprise, Kobe leads.

ESPN: Through the years, there have been many different sets of data about clutch shooting. Any which way I have ever seen it sliced (last five minutes of close games to last ten seconds), as I have written on TrueHoop before, it has looked like Kobe Bryant has been a guy who shoots a ton in crunch time, and hits at a pretty good, but not elite, rate.

I’m open to the idea that he could still be the best clutch player in the NBA. At that time of the game, there’s value in being able to create scoring opportunities. Bryant may shoot those difficult fallaways that often miss, but he’d be a far worse player if he couldn’t get a shot off at all. And that’s the situation some lesser players would find themselves in.

Quite honestly, I think the real way to crown a crunch time king would be with video. Somebody should make a TV special where they string together every crunch time touch of the handful of elite end-game players (Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony etc.) If we want to tell the world that somebody is the most likely to succeed in a certain setting, let’s take an honest and complete look at how they do in that setting. Show me the turnovers, the misses and all that. Let everyone watch all of that video — not just the makes! — and at the end of that I think we’ll end up with a good sense of who’s the best.

A lot of sports fans think it’s crazy talk to even consider candidates other than Bryant. And they’re especially vocal right now, when Bryant seems to be hitting game-winners just about every night.

So, how’s it going?

Continue reading ‘Kobe’s numbers in crunch time’

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The (47-18) Los Angeles Lakers are in the desert to face the (40-25) Phoenix Suns the first of a three-game road trip. Tonight’s game will be the last meeting of the regular season; the Lakers leads the season series two games to one.

The Lakers were able to snap their three-game losing streak with a much-needed win against the Toronto Raptors, but it took a last second shot by Kobe Bryant again; his seventh of the season. Seeing the ‘Black Mamba’ do his thing never gets old, but the fact of the matter is that the game should not have been that close.

The Lakers are still struggling to get their game back on track. The reality is that the Lakers have played a lot of games at a high level basketball in the last three years; the team is taking their opponents best shot and not dealing out their own or responding for that matter.

The above statement isn’t being mentioned as an excuse; teams will always get up for the Lakers, it is the uniform and years of success. They are a team that plays with a lot of confidence that is currently making several uncharacteristic mental mistakes.

There are 17 games remaining in the regular season, and 10 of them are on the road. This is not the time to start and point fingers, this is a time to start to get to work. The task at hand is taking everyone serious and competing as if every opponent is the best there is. They need to play every game like a must-win game.

The Lakers have to take on an ‘us against the world’ mentality, play with a sense of urgency at a high energy level on both sides of the court.

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The Lakers may be slipping, but Voice of the Nation never does, as it returns to bring you more exclusive Lakers coverage.

G-Small and D-Bricks break down the Lakers recent slide in play and intensity, and look ahead to the  final 17 games of the season.

Their are more NBA players talking smack to the Lakers on Twitter, and is the fall off due to the decline of Kobe Bryant?

Tune into Voice of the Nation #73!

Audio
Jay-Z – Paper Chase
Notorious B.I.G. – Unbelievable

Additional Audio
Phil Jackson, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum – Lakers Post-Game

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Download Link: Voice of the Nation – Episode #73

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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.