Monday, December 22, 2014
Blog Page 233

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Yahoo! Sports: The Lakers and Nuggets won’t know for another few months who’s got the other’s number. For now, though, give Denver the edge.

Chauncey Billups scored a career-high 39 points, including nine 3-pointers, and the Nuggets won 126-113 Friday night, ending the Lakers’ eight-game home winning streak and improving to 2-0 against them.

Billups was 12 of 20 from the floor, including 9 of 13 from 3-point range, and made 6 of 8 free throws to go with eight assists for the Nuggets, who played without Carmelo Anthony for the seventh straight game because of a sprained left ankle.

“You’ve always got to be confident. There’s a lot of people that can say it, but until you can do it, you’ve got to get that confidence from the right place,” Billups said. “They’re the world champs. But we feel that we can compete with them.”

Billups scored 21 points in the third quarter alone, the most against the Lakers in one period since Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia 76ers had 23 in a game in February 1966. Billups’ nine 3-pointers were the second-most ever against the Lakers.

“He was shooting considerably beyond the line,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “I’m just glad that didn’t happen in a playoff game.”

Kobe Bryant scored 33 points on his sprained left ankle, but the first-place Lakers proved no match for the Western Conference’s No. 2 team, the one they beat in last year’s conference finals en route to their 15th NBA championship.

“I could still be effective and play,” Bryant said tersely. “Obviously, I’m not as explosive as I was but I can still command double teams, things like that.”

Continue reading ‘Lakers are defenseless in ugly loss to Nuggets’

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An interesting article that has some answers to the Lakers’ recent struggles.

L.A. Times: The Lakers have been banged up for quite a while now.

There was Pau Gasol’s left hamstring injury,Ron Artest’s plantar fasciitis and Lamar Odom’s recent sprain to his right index finger. Of course, there’s also Kobe Bryant’s eight-week-long fractured right index finger and his recently aggravated left ankle, though he will still suit up tonight against Denver.

The Lakers are also tired, coming off an eight-game, 13-day East Coast trip that consisted of stops to Cleveland, New York, Toronto, Washington, Indiana, Philadelphia, Boston and Memphis. When asked whether the Lakers’ fatigue is more mental or physical, Lakers forward Lamar Odom laughed and said, “It’s both.” Therefore, it’s practically an understatement to say the Lakers look forward to some rest.

Said Coach Phil Jackson, “We see that All-Star break and think that will be real good for this team.”

But the Lakers will have to wait. They have four games remaining before All-Star weekend, with contests all featuring playoff-caliber opponents including a back-to-back starting tonight against Denver and Saturday at Portland. The Lakers then return home for a game Monday against San Antonio before traveling for a Wednesday game against Utah. Forward Pau Gasol describes these contests as a “very tough stretch” for reasons beyond the team’s health concerns. That’s because the Lakers have all lost rather handily to the aforementioned opponents this season.

Said Gasol, “We have to prove what kind of team we are and if we want to be champions again.”

Continue reading ‘The Lakers try to grind it out before All Star break’

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Out of Bounds with Jason Riley

Last Sunday, shortly before Kobe committed aggravated burglary in Boston (the highlight of my NBA season thus far), I remembered all over again how much I hate the Boston Celtics. Just the sight of Paul Pierce getting tangled up with Ron Artest right before tip-off evoked irrational thoughts of rage that should certainly have me at CVS picking up my Paxil prescription.

On Monday morning, I spent a solid hour reading every single pro-Boston panic column I could find. I just couldn’t get enough, “Trade Ray Allen”, “We blew the game”, “Kobe hit a great shot” references. It was like basketball porn – and those five words alone are creepy enough that I will not edit them out of this column. Like I said, I should be medicated.

All of my Celtic-hate fashioned a rather interesting question that I’m going to throw out there to all of you TLN’ers to hear what you guys think. Let’s say you meet someone, and after a few weeks, you realize that you’re really digging them. Around date number four or so, sports comes up and they lay the following on you:

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Maybe Kobe should sit a game or two – he definetely deserves it. This is pretty amazing stuff…

ESPN: Courtesy of ESPN’s crack research team, here’s your Kobe Bryant Odometer, measured since the start of the 2007-08 season. We all know he’s played a lot, but I’ve never actually seen it tabulated like this.

Games Played Since 2007:
2007 Olympic Qualifying- 10
2007-08 Reg. Season- 82
2007-08 Postseason- 21
Pre-Olympic Tour- 5
Olympics- 8
2008-09 Reg. Season- 82
2008-09 Postseason- 23
2009-10 Reg. Season- 50

TOTAL- 281

Given how most of us haven’t gone to the gym 281 (or even 28) times since the start of the ’07-’08 season, the concern Kobe might be stretching himself a little thin this year after tweaking his groin, knee, and elbow, fracturing a finger, and now wrenching his left ankle. Still, all signs point to game 282 coming tonight against the Nuggets (7 pm PT, ESPN). At shootaround this morning, Kobe (and this will shock- shock!- you) said he’ll play despite the bum wheel.

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Is there anything that can stop this man?

L.A. Times: As expected, Kobe Bryant will play tonight against the Denver Nuggets.

“I think he wants to see his way through this game and see what it’s going to be like,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Friday morning.

Bryant initially sustained the sprain last Friday and aggravated it Wednesday after Lamar Odom stepped on his foot in a game against Charlotte.

Bryant walked through the defensive part of this morning’s shoot-around but did not take part in the shooting part of it.

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The (38-12) Los Angeles Lakers are at the Staples Center to host the (33-16) Denver Nuggets.

Tonight’s run will be the second of three this season, the Lakers lost emphatically against the Nuggets on November 13th 2009 in Denver 105-79.

Normally this is a match up of two of the leagues premier scorers, but with Kobe Bryant and Carmello Anthony nursing injuries, I highly doubt either player will be at or near 100% tonight. Anthony has missed six straight games and is hoping to end that streak tonight. Joey Graham’s streak as a starter might also come to a close.

Kobe is still banged up, but being a true warrior he is aiming to play. You have applaud the training staff for having him able to play as well as Kobe’s mental toughness to remain focused, which is nothing new for the Lakers All-Time leading scorer.

Denver is currently the second best team in the West Conference, four games behind the Purple and Gold. The Nuggets feel that it is their time to take over supremacy of the Western Conference; our Lakers needs to send them the message that ‘it’s not your time’. The Lakers also owe the Nuggets a beat down after their last meeting.

Chauncey Billups was carrying the offense scoring and distributing in Anthony’s absence, but he is also dealing with an ankle injury. Ty Lawson is a formidable player that’s not afraid to run the offense. Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar will have to play solid defense and force him to change directions and go east and west, as opposed to north and south to avoid his dribble penetration. Lakers have to be aware of as well as limit the impact of J.R. Smith off the bench.

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We know the Lakers have stated no “dramatic” changes need to be made, but it will be interesting to see if the Lakers pursue Hinrich; though doing so would go against their intentions of reducing payroll.

ESPN: Harder to read are the Lakers’ true intentions. They’re frequently mentioned as a prime suitor for Hinrich, but there are also regular rumblings that L.A.’s primary goal at the deadline is reducing payroll by persisting with recent attempts to move Sasha Vujacic or Luke Walton. Hinrich has two seasons and $17 million left on his contract after this season.

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Why is it everytime the overly-emotional Thuggets Nuggets meet the Lakers, they feel the need to continue to talk, talk and talk? Well, here we go again.

Yahoo! Sports: “We kind of know how to beat them, what we have to do,” Karl said. “We’re learning that better, and I think that’s a positive.”

“Why should we be? [The championship] was last year,” Anthony said. “They are the same to me. They are the Lakers, I guess.”

“I don’t know if they’re better,” Billups said. “But they won it all. They don’t have to be better. Nobody was as good as them.

“That’s yet to be seen. I really, really thought Trevor Ariza(notes) was good for that team. I think they miss him.”

Continue reading ‘Nuggets see no reason to fear Lakers; begin running their mouths’

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Kobe Bryant is going to give it a go tonight. It shouldn’t surprise any one of us though…

Twitter: Phil Jackson said that he expects Kobe Bryant (ankle) to play tonight against Denver.

Additionally, Gary Vitti had some high praises for Kobe’s toughness; most certainly unparalleled in the entire NBA.

Twitter: Lakers Trainer Gary Vitti on Kobe: He is absolutely the toughest, mentally and physically, athlete that I’ve ever worked with.”

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Milestones have been coming here and there for the Lakers recently.

Lamar Odom will become the 7th player with 3,000+ assists and 6,000+ rebounds with 5 more assists, given the chance tonight to reach this milestone.

Kevin Ding: … The top 6 fastest to 3,000 assists + 6,000 rebounds = Bird, CWebb, KG, Big O, Kareem and Wilt. Not bad company for Odom.

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I’m sure I speak for all Laker fans when I say “Let the Mamba rest!”

L.A. Times: Kobe Bryant has ignored his ever-thickening medical file, playing through a broken finger, strained elbow, back spasms and, most recently, a sprained left ankle.

But it might be time for him to sit a game or two, a thought that crossed Phil Jackson’s mind while the Lakers’ coach watched him hobble around the court Wednesday against the Charlotte Bobcats.

“It occurred to me yesterday during the course of that game,” Jackson said a day after Bryant had only five points, his lowest total since a January 2005 game against Cleveland in which he scored two points before being carried off the court because of a severely sprained ankle.

This ankle injury isn’t nearly as bad, but it’s the latest in a line of maladies that have plagued Bryant since he sustained a broken right index finger Dec. 11.

Bryant was unavailable for comment Thursday. He has not missed a game because of injury since Dec. 6, 2006, against Atlanta (sprained right ankle) and is not expected to sit out Friday night against Denver.

Continue reading ‘Phil Jackson ponders resting Kobe’

11

This should settle those trade talks people keep bringing up.

L.A. Times: The trade deadline is two weeks from today, meaning 14 more days of rumors and whispers, but the Lakers are not expected to be big players in the market.

They have the NBA’s second-best record, the league’s highest payroll and do not plan on moving any of their starters or sixth man Lamar Odom.

“There is no compelling reason to dramatically change this team, in particular its core,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. “We won a championship last year and we feel like we can be as strong this year with the one change we made — the Ron Artest change.

“If this is the team we go into the playoffs with, we’ll be happy with our roster, provided we stay healthy. The caveat, as always, is we’ll look at roster flexibility and areas where we can tweak the roster.”

In other words, Toronto forward Chris Bosh will not be wearing a Lakers uniform this month despite persistent rumors.

If the Lakers make a move by Feb. 18, it probably will be to shore up their depth at ball-handling guard, with an eye toward the future.

Continue reading ‘Lakers won’t make major trades before deadline’

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We all know Kobe Bryant will laugh at this if he reads it. But I ask the fans this — should Kobe sit out a few games and heal up his body. He’s in such great physical shape, but he is a bit banged up and last night against the Bobcats, he suffered another small injury; sprained ankle. In fact, Phil Jackson told us he was getting therapy the entire practice to see if he can play tomorrow night against Denver.

Bryant did not participate in practice, opting to spend the time “trying a variety of therapies on the ankle to see what will work for him,” according to Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

Perhaps Kobe should sit out a few and heal up for a game or two. Also, Melo is reportedly out tomorrow so maybe it would be good for Kobe to miss a few? The BIG picture is the post-season, afterall… Sound off.

29

Lamar Odom squirmed in front of the camera’s bright light, wiping his forehead as beads of sweat trickled down his face, all the while trying to listen as FSN West’s Michael Eaves began his post-game interview. Eaves opened up by saying that Bobcats coach, Larry Brown, pointed to Odom’s contribution as the difference in the game. Odom shrugged upon hearing this instance of praise and was quick to explain, “I just tried to find my way to the offensive glass and make some plays… We’re a little beaten up right now… I just used my finesse and eye-hand coordination to get to the ball.”

He basically said, “I did what I had to do.” Odom didn’t break any records against the Bobcats, nor did he achieve any career stats, but just for doing what he had to do, the Lakers got what they needed — a win.

It is often noted and discussed, by basketball analysts, beat writers, play-by-play announcers, coaches and players alike, that Odom, at 6’10”, possesses a most unique combination of basketball talent, skill and ability. He is tall and lanky, able to reach over and/or across players to snatch rebounds, block shots, deflect or steal. He’s quick, with a signature play that has him grabbing a defensive board, going coast-to-coast and scoring on a fastbreak so swiftly that his defender is left wandering 60 feet away from the field goal.

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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.