Thursday, December 18, 2014
Blog Page 225

24

The Lakers and Nuggets meet this Sunday. Denver’s J.R. Smith tweeted this after watching on TV as Bryant hit the tying and winning 3-pointers in Memphis.

Twitter: “Dont get me wrong kobe is great but not when he play me”

Typically we here would leave it at that, but Smith, don’t have such a short memory… Sunday should be fun…

9

A great piece on Caron Butler and Kobe.

Mavericks Blog: Caron Butler spent a year in Los Angeles as Kobe Bryant’s Laker teammate thanks to the Shaquille O’Neal trade that sent the big fella to Miami.

“I say that’s the best thing that ever could have happened for me personally for my career,” Butler said. “To play alongside a guy like that, see his preparation, see what it takes to get to that level, that’s why I was able to be so good in Washington because I took everything I learned from him under his wing.”

Butler played in 77 games in 2004-05 with the Lakers. He averaged a then career-high (by a tick) 15.5 points and then career-high 5.8 rebounds. His free throw shooting improved, too.

“Work ethic,” Butler said. “He comes to the gym 6:30, 7 in the morning, gets shots every day, a rhythm. Afterward hits the weight room, works out in the summer, studying film, critiquing guys, watching their tendencies, picking things up … Just studying the game with him taught me a lot.”

Butler and Bryant talk every couple of weeks and when Butler was traded to Dallas Bryant was quick with a call.

“He told me he was happy for me and happy to see me in a situation to be able to legitimately compete for a title,” Butler said.

But Wednesday will be a different conversation.

“You always hear that he’s ready to compete,” Butler said. “He’s happy but at the same time once we get on the court all bets are off with Kobe. He’s going to bring it, then hug me afterwards. That’s how it is. It’s business.”

Continue reading ‘ Caron Grateful He Was Kobe’s Teammate’

4

A little tidbit from Lazenby’s new book on Jerry West! West was a true mastermind, indeed.

Dime Magazine: Today, ESPN Books released Roland Lazenby’s latest book, Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon. While the majority of the book is about West growing up and his days as a Laker, the latter chapters revolve around West’s career as the Lakers GM. You know, the West that younger fans have experienced firsthand and have come to revere. There are great details about West as the mastermind behind assembling the early 2000’s Lakers dynasty, but this is probably the most revealing anecdote from p. 379:

First West had to take the huge gamble of trading veteran center Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for their thirteenth pick in the draft. Then he learned that John Calipari, the coach of the New Jersey Nets, planned to take [Kobe] Bryant with the eighth pick before the Lakers could snare him at thirteen.

“Jerry wanted Kobe, so he basically called up and talked Cal out of drafting Kobe,” explained Hal Wiseel, who was with the Nets at the time. West encouraged the Bryant family to talk to Calipari and explain that their son really wanted to play for the Lakers. “He knew if we didn’t take him at eight, he’d drop to Charlotte, and he could make the deal with Charlotte,” Wissel recalled. “Cal was young in the league and, hey, it’s Jerry West on the phone.”

Wow. If you have won a fantasy sports league amongst your friends recently, you have probably pulled what we’ll now call, “A Logo.” That is, managing to talk your friend out of drafting someone because you want him with a later pick (although you most likely didn’t get his family involved). Even crazier is that it was John Calipari, the same guy under constant scrutiny for the caliber of players he has been able to bring to his programs. The same guy whose 2008 Memphis Tigers team had their entire season erased from the NCAA record books for recruiting violations of Derrick Rose. After conceding to Jerry West and losing out on Kobe, it’s not hard to see where Calipari has gotten his recruiting proficiency from.

2

The Mamba is back!

L.A. Times: Kobe Bryant made a point of finding every teammate after the game and embracing them, even thanking them.

He was indisputably back, making another mark on another 48 minutes of Lakers basketball.

He hadn’t played a game in 18 days, but there he was Tuesday, the ball in his hands and the game clock almost drained to zeros.

So he did it again, drilling a three-pointer with 4.3 seconds left that ultimately dropped the Memphis Grizzlies, 99-98, at FedEx Forum.

It was met with sarcasm.

“He’s lucky,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said dryly. “Very, very lucky.”

It was greeted with wonderment.

“He really stepped up at the end of the game,” Pau Gasol said, “like he was never out.”

And it was surrounded by questions.

“I lost it a little bit,” he said, leading to a few confused looks from media members.

He didn’t look like he had lost anything in his return, other than a couple of bad passes.

“My off hand lost the ball a little bit and I had to gather it a little bit,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Kobe is back, and it shows!’

1

Lakers are nearing Cleveland for homecourt, but they shouldn’t let that be their mindset to approach games.

L.A. Times: With the Lakers comfortably ahead in the Western Conference, only one race matters the rest of the regular season.

The Lakers (43-14) are half a game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers (44-14) for the best record in the league and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Cleveland holds the tiebreaker because of a two-game sweep of the Lakers, but the Lakers are sensing a battle down to the final week of the regular season.

“I don’t see us blistering through the rest of the season and losing one or two games,” Jackson said. “I don’t see them doing the same thing and losing one or two games.

“We have a harder schedule, I think, than they do right now simply because of conference play.”

It’s a debatable point.

Among the Lakers’ notable games remaining are two against Denver, two against San Antonio and one each against Dallas, Orlando, Atlanta and Utah.

Among the Cavaliers’ notable games are three against Boston, two against San Antonio, two against Atlanta and one against Orlando.

It’s not quite March, but it’s not too early to plan ahead.

“It’s not a worry, [but] it’s got to be more of a goal and a focus,” Gasol said. “Every game makes a difference.”

The Lakers are 5 1/2 games ahead of Denver in the West.

Continue reading ‘The Cleveland race’

8

He redeemed his poor performance from a few weeks ago.

L.A. Times: Pau Gasol returned again to Tennessee’s largest city, the scene of so many images from his past.

Some of them haven’t been pretty — booing from fans a few years ago after he requested a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies, a 10-point effort in a loss here three weeks ago with the Lakers — but he’ll want to remember Tuesday’s game.

Gasol clearly outplayed his younger brother, Marc, and provided solid defense on the game’s final play, getting a hand in the face of O.J. Mayo as the Grizzlies’ guard shot long on a 20-footer as time expired.

Gasol had 22 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in the Lakers’ 99-98 victory. Marc Gasol had eight points, 11 rebounds and no assists.

“What I wanted to do is just contribute to help my team to win, just like what I usually try to do . . . but especially here,” the elder Gasol said. “I felt really bad when we lost last time. I’m glad that we got a nice win tonight.”

Gasol had only 10 points in the Lakers’ 95-93 loss on Feb. 1 and also said his teammates didn’t look inside enough.

He had no such criticism after their victory Tuesday.

“A lot better tonight,” he said. “I think our balance was good.”

Continue reading ‘Pau had a solid game in Memphis’

40

This one went back and forth for awhile before Memphis opened up a lead in the fourth. Clearly that lead wasn’t large enough as it only took two missed free throws by Mayo and two clutch threes by Kobe to seal a win for the Lakers Tuesday night in Memphis.

Kobe and Mayo battled all night in this game. Both players made some incredible shots and led their teams in scoring.

The Grizzlies really played well tonight and made some difficult shots in traffic.

In the end, the Lakers inside presence was just too much. Gasol and Bynum may not have scored much, but they physically wore down the Grizzlies big men.

It was a pretty sloppy game for the team, but they did just enough to come out with the win–much thanks to number 24.

Now, the bests of the day…

9

Our very own Gregory Small was awesome enough to attend last week’s NBA All-Star festivities for the California Crusader! Here’s what he had to say…

California Crusader: The 2010 NBA All-Star weekend in Dallas, TX did not disappoint. Billionaire’s Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban collaborated to make it a historic weekend, jam packing 108,713 to the newly built Cowboys Stadium, an NBA record in viewership.

I was fortunate enough to get all access for the entire weekend.

The story was almost over before it began, as Dallas got record snow on Thursday the 11th, canceling many flights to Dallas Fort Worth, mine included. After being re-booked twice, I finally landed in Dallas on Friday just in time to catch the activities.

First was the Celebrity Basketball Game, where I got to see a slimmed down Rick Fox play against another former Laker Robert Hory. NFL player Terrell Owens looked as if he could play power forward in the NBA, displaying some serious basketball skills to go along with his athleticism. Shaquille O’Neal watched with his children. I was able to give him and Pau Gasol a hearty hand shake as they crossed one another on their way to and from their seats.

From the Dallas Convention Center, I headed to American Airlines arena to catch the Rookie/Sophomore game. I watched from the second row, right behind Shannon Brown, Nate Robinson, and Gasol. Pau cheered every good play made by his brother, Marc Gasol, who was representing the Memphis Grizzlies. The ladies- both young and old- couldn’t keep their hands off of Shannon Brown, who was one of the most popular players during the weekend.

The next morning, I went to my favorite event, the NBA All-Star Practice. I have attended this event over the last two years as a fan, but the experience was overwhelming being on the floor with the players.

Continue reading ‘Hustling the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend’

42

The (42-14) Los Angeles Lakers are in Tennessee to face the (28-27) Memphis Grizzlies.

It was great to see the team compete without Kobe and continue to win games in his absence. If I was told that Kobe would miss five games before the All-Star break and that the Lakers would post a 4-1 record at Trailblazers, Spurs, at Jazz, Warriors, and against the team from Massachusetts – – I’d gladly accept that.

However after 18 days, all indications are that the difference maker and team leader will return to the lineup tonight.

Tonight’s game will mark another milestone  as Kobe finally records his career 1,000th game; he will also break the NBA record set by Kevin Garnett and become the youngest player to play 1,000 NBA games.

What we’ve seen in Bryant’s absence from the Lakers was a disciplined more team focused approach which was expected with the system utilized as well as still having veteran players in the lineup. Those players stepped their game up and accepted the challenge of being tasked with shouldering more of the scoring load.

The approach the team used without Bryant wasn’t surprising the way the team played and executed in his absence was, excluding the end of the game against the team from Massachusetts when the Purple and Gold ruined an excellent defensive performance and allowed a sure win to get away from them.

14

Jeanie is plans to 1-up Mark Cuban’s All-Star game. Only if David Stern would let this happen!

ESPN Los Angeles: For a variety of reasons, not the least of which are the explosion of the Internet and the NBA League Pass, I think the All-Star Game has lost much of its luster. Count me among those believing the whole weekend could use a shake-up. Along those lines, Lakers Executive VP of Business Operations Jeanie Buss has a killer idea to breathe new life into the All Star format.

“I would do something really crazy with the All Star Game. This is something I’ve thought about a lot. I would like to see the fans vote for all the All Stars. Then you put them in a pool, and you take the two coaches and they draft the team right there, kind of like you used to do on a schoolyard. It wouldn’t have anything to do with (Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference), it would just be all All-Stars, and then the coaches would decide which players they would take. Someone said (to me), “Well, whoever got taken last would be embarrassed.” I thought, “OK, that’s a good thing, because everybody’s going to want to try and play hard.”

I’ve heard any number of ideas on how to improve All-Star weekend, but this is by far the best. The picking of teams would be seriously compelling television. Kobe or LeBron? CP3 or Steve Nash? Forget the game, I’d pay just to watch that part.

And Jeanie is absolutely right about professional pride spurring hard play. Remember how much it sucked to be picked last during kickball in elementary school? (I don’t, as my kickball skills were ample and highly-sought-after.) Or what it’s like to be the last guy picked up at the rec? (This I know.) Or even have guys you think you’re better than go before you?

Imagine how much having their relative worth (relatively speaking) determined in front of millions of people would motivate the players. Nothing like poking egos to spark a good show.

It’ll never happen, but with the game heading to L.A. next year, I wish it would.

Continue reading ‘Jeanie Buss revamps the All-Star game’

3

So Kobe returns healthy. Thats good news!

L.A. Times: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said he will play Tuesday against Memphis, ending a five-game absence because of a sore ankle.

“I feel good, like a gazelle,” he said after practicing Monday.

Bryant acknowledged that the ankle wasn’t fully healthy but wasn’t concerned about further damaging it.

“Where I’m at now, I feel confident about playing and, while I play, getting to 100%,” Bryant said. “It’s about 80, 85 [percent] right now. The rest of the percentage is just made up just from strength.”

The Lakers went 4-1 without Bryant, who was sidelined by a sprain in the ankle and a sore peroneal tendon, which runs vertically behind the ankle bone.

The Lakers have a back-to-back set this week, playing in Dallas a night after playing in Memphis.

Continue reading ‘Kobe says he will play Tuesday against Memphis’

0

Kobe feeling like a gazelle? It took long, yet it was worth the recovery.

L.A. Times: Kobe Bryant said he would play Tuesday against Memphis, 18 days after his last game with the Lakers, bolstered by a four-day weekend and a Monday morning practice that didn’t produce any pain in his left ankle.

“I feel good, like a gazelle,” he said. “As always, the ultimate test is to see how it develops and how it holds up to stress and the pressure of traveling and playing in back-to-backs.”

The Lakers play an increasingly intriguing game Wednesday in Dallas, a day after Bryant’s expected return against the Grizzlies. He acknowledged that the ankle didn’t feel entirely healed but said it was close enough.

“Where I’m at now, I feel confident about playing and, while I play, getting to 100%,” he said. “It’s about 80-85 right now. The rest of the percentage is made up just from strength.”

Bryant is averaging 28 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists, but the Lakers went 4-1 in a series of well-balanced efforts without him. They are half a game behind Cleveland (43-14) for the NBA’s best record.

“It’ll be a little bit of an adjustment for us, but we’re all excited to have him back,” forward Pau Gasol said. “He looked good. With this little break that we just had after the Boston game, everybody’s energized and ready to go. I think it’s going to translate to the games.

“We have to make sure we continue to move the ball. I think that’s a big part of our success.”

Bryant’s return would come against the same Grizzlies team he lit up for 44 points on 16-for-28 shooting this month, but the Lakers lost, 95-93, when Ron Artest missed a three-point attempt as time expired.

After that game, during which Bryant broke Jerry West’s career franchise scoring record, Gasol said the Lakers were “not making a conscious effort on pounding the ball inside.”

Gasol had only 10 points on four-for-seven shooting that night and said Monday that returning to Memphis, the franchise that dealt him to the Lakers two years ago and employs his younger brother,Marc, at center, always represented a personally charged night.

“There’s a lot going on emotionally,” he said. “I want to play well, especially in that game. Last time I was a little bit upset because I wasn’t able to do that.”

Continue reading ‘Kobe feels ‘good’, like a gazelle and expects to play against Memphis’

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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.