Friday, November 21, 2014
Blog Page 39

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Photo by: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America

The NBA world isn’t just about what you do on the court. We scoured the web for Lakers-related quotations to provide you with the 10 best quotes from the past fourteen days:

#10:

I think championship should be an expectation. Realistically we have enough talent here that there will be enough to where our goal is a championship.

Mike D’Antoni, via Lakers.com

#9:

[The fans’ support] drives me. It gives me more fuel and more focus to have that support. They believe in me. I take that and I wear that as a badge of honor not to disappoint them.

Kobe Bryant, who’s been recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered on April 12th, via Lakers.com

#8:

My back was pretty much painful the whole year. I came back five or six months earlier than I was supposed to, for this team, for this city because I wanted to win so bad.

Dwight Howard, via Lakers.com

#7:

As a coach you sleep like a baby … Every 15 minutes you wake up and cry.

Mike D’Antoni, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin

#6:

I understand the position I find myself in. It can be a little draining. It’s not ideal. But I also accept it. I accept where I am. I accept the circumstances the team is in. I’m not upset about it. It’s just the way it is. The future is uncertain. There’s a possibility I could be gone. There’s a possibility I could stay. But I’m prepared either way.

Pau Gasol, via Lakers.com

#5:

We have a great legacy, a great history of great players in this city dating back to when the franchise came here in 1960, and he certainly fits the mold. If you just look at the opportunity, which is to play for this franchise in this city, with what this franchise has meant to this city and its accomplishments, that’s probably the most any team can offer a player.

Mitch Kupchak, on why he’s optimistic that Dwight Howard will re-sign with the Lakers, via Lakers.com

#4:

This is probably the craziest year I’ve been apart of. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong, with the talent, the expectations we had. We definitely had a team that was capable of winning a championship, we just never had a chance to put it together.

Chris Duhon, via Lakers.com

#3:

He went through a situation with back surgery where he was all by himself. He sees that and he doesn’t want me to experience the same thing he experienced. Our bond grew a lot. It shows through adversity your bond can become stronger. The support for each other really shined through. That’s why I would love for this group to come back and get another crack at it.

Kobe Bryant, on Dwight Howard, via Lakers.com

#2:

When you lose, everything is in play. This is the third year in a row that you could argue we didn’t live up to or play up to expectations. Everybody is in play, whether it’s Pau [Gasol] or anybody else to look for ways to improve the team. By and large, the organization has always looked to put the best product on the court, and that will continue to be how we’ll move going forward. Looking for the best players that give us what we think is the best chance to win.

Mitch Kupchak, via Lakers.com

#1:

[This year] was like a nightmare. It was like a bad dream, and we couldn’t wake up out of it. It seemed like nothing could go right from the start.

Dwight Howard, after the Lakers season-ending loss to the Spurs, via NBC Sports

What is your favorite one? Do you think any quotations got snubbed? Let us know in the comment section below!

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According to Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times, the Lakers have notified assistant coaches Bernie Bickerstaff and Chuck Person that they won’t be back with the team next season.

Bresnahan adds…

Bernie Bickerstaff served as interim head coach for five games, taking over for a fired Mike Brown; he went 4-1.

Coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t get a chance to fill his entire staff when he took over during the season.

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Via Lakers.com:

Over the course of last week’s exit interviews, many of Dwight Howard’s teammates plus general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Mike D’Antoni weighed in on the big man’s season, adding their thoughts on the impending free agent’s future.

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Kobe Bryant’s timetable for return from achilles surgery is 6-9 months. When will he return? Also, when he does return, will Kobe be the same player?

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The Dwightmare continues this off-season as Dwight Howard needs to answer a $118 million question. Will he sign a max deal with the Los Angeles Lakers? STNTV gives their percentage chance he stays in the Purple & Gold.

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Hold off the “We Want Phil” chants for now.

Phil Jackson has accepted a role on an NBA team, but it’s not the Lakers. The Detroit Pistons will bring Jackson in to advise the team on its coaching search.

It would be interesting to see if Jackson advises the Pistons to consider two of his former assistants, Kurt Rambis and Brian Shaw.

Meanwhile, a Phil Jackson return to Los Angeles seems highly unlikely.

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Former Lakers head coach and current author, Phil Jackson, will be holding an event at Glendale’s Alex Theatre on Wednesday, June 12th to discuss his latest memoir, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.

Via Alex Theatre:

[blockquote1]During a storied career as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson won 11 titles – more championships than any coach in the history of professional sports. Never wavering from coaching his way, from a place of deep values, Jackson was tagged as the ‘Zen master’ by sportswriters; the nickname speaks to an important truth: this is a coach who inspired, not goaded; who led by awakening and challenging the better angels of his players’ nature, not their egos, fear, or greed.[/blockquote1]

Former Laker, John Salley will be hosting the event with Jackson.

Tickets are available through Alex Theatre’s website. You can read more about the event here.

[button colour=”purple” type=”standard” size=”medium” link=”http://www.alextheatre.org/calendar/events/index.php?com=detail&eID=826″ target=”_blank”]More Info[/button][button colour=”purple” type=”standard” size=”medium” link=”http://www.alextheatre.org/patrons/boxoffice.php” target=”_blank”]Purchase Tickets[/button]

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Photo courtesy of Harry How, Getty Images

Andrew Bynum ladies and gentlemen. If he is not making the headlines for his hairdos, racing around in Ferrari’s, bowling, or sitting out an entire NBA season then everything must be okay, right?

6 weeks ago Bynum had orthroscopic surgery, again, on both of his knees. That surgery ended his 2012-2013 season as a Philadelphia 76er, one in which he never played a single game in. You would figure that with his knees being operated on recently and his name still be a lightning rod for critics he would rest up and prepare for the 2013-2014 season. No, not really. As Zach Harper at CBS reported, Bynum was dancing the night away in Spain on his annual European off season trip.

In a year of many hairdos for the Philadelphia 76ers‘ center but zero minutes on the court, he collected a big paycheck and made his upcoming free agency even more confusing for potential bidders.

But anyone hoping to ink him to a big contract might want to check out this video. Bynum is apparently in Madrid, he’s dancing, and he’s moving like a guy that can cha-cha his way to a max deal.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200270184370233

Here is to Andrew Bynum and his knees, as he will continue to not care what others think.

 

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“My back was in pain the whole year. I came back 5-6 months earlier than I was supposed to. I did that for the team and city”

– Dwight Howard

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Brian McKnight talks with Jason Riley

Listen to Jason Riley’s full interview with Brian McKnight:

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Brian McKnight sits down with LakerNation.com's Jason Riley.
Brian McKnight sits down with LakerNation.com’s Jason Riley.

I don’t like to talk about how old (or young) I am.

For those that care (probably none of you), I’m younger than Channing Tatum, older than Ryan Gosling, but unfortunately look like neither of them.

Now that I’ve dated myself, it won’t sound so surprising that I can still remember when my buddy enthusiastically handed me a bright orange CD as I was leaving a house party back in high school.

“Just listen to it”, he commanded.

I jumped in my ’91 Mustang 5.0, slid the CD into my newly installed player, and the next 48 minutes forever shaped my musical taste. Even 15 years later, Anytime still ranks as my all-time favorite album.

For this reason alone, I jumped at the opportunity to sit down with Brian McKnight and chat about his latest album – More than Words – which hit stores a little more than a month ago.

For all of our efforts to stay on point and talk music, we couldn’t avoid the bunny trail of sports – and more specifically, the Lakers.

That may seem surprising if you don’t know Brian’s story. His life has been the perfect embodiment of the musician who wants to be an athlete – only his greatest success started on the opposite end of that statement.

What many don’t know about the 6’5” McKnight is that he almost played in the NBA. Ironically enough, it was the derailment of his professional sports dream that ultimately paved the way for Anytime, the album that launched him into mainstream stardom in the late 1990’s.

“I still think that (being) a professional athlete is the best job on earth. Do you know what I would do for a 10-day contract? I would kill myself just for a 10 day.”

Even after almost two decades of success in the highly competitive music industry, Brian still wonders about that NBA career that never materialized.

“I think if I was to go back and do it again, I would have probably gone after my hoop dreams because I would still have been writing music, which I’ve been doing since I was 15.”

McKnight spends the majority of his time on the road, playing to mostly sold-out venues, but he lives and records in Los Angeles and keeps a close eye on all the ensuing drama in Laker Nation.

“Injuries have played a huge part. I’m sure that Dwight didn’t come back at the 100% level we would have all wanted him to come back at. I don’t think anyone wants to be the kind of person that relies on an excuse. If you’re playing, you’re playing. Period.”

When Brian talks about the Lakers, he comes across as an educated fan. When he talks about Lakers star Kobe Bryant, it’s a little bit more personal.

Brian McKnight's latest album, More than Words.
Brian McKnight’s latest album, More than Words.

Back in ’98, during Kobe’s short-lived music career, Brian worked with Bryant on the song Hold Me. They have remained friends through the years, and McKnight reflected back on his observations of a pre-superstar Kobe Bryant:

“He was very interesting. I don’t even know if you could get a sense of who he was at the time. He was so young. He wasn’t starting just yet, but you already saw flashes of what he was about to become.”

And become is exactly what both Kobe Bryant and Brian McKnight have done since working together.

While Bryant’s successes have been well documented, you can make the argument that McKnight’s have been equally impressive.

Since Anytime topped the R&B charts in the late 1990’s, he has racked up 16 Grammy nominations, sold over 20 million albums, and maybe most impressively, mastered 8 instruments.

While he continues to perfect his craft on the stage and in the studio, he fully expects Kobe to do the same on the court next season.

“You know Kobe Bryant like I do. He wants to prove to everybody that he can come back and be better than ever.

I think we’re going to see that when he comes back, he’s going to be, if not exactly the same player, very, very close to the same player, just because of his sheer determination.”

I found it interesting that he spoke of sheer determination, because in my experience, that seems to be the most discernible trait in highly successful people. Whether it’s Kobe shooting jumpers in the middle of the night, or Brian mastering a new instrument in the darkness of an empty studio, success is almost always the bi-product of hard work.

“I don’t think anybody’s better than anybody at anything, it’s that some people just work harder at something than other people.”

There’s really little question that Kobe’s work ethic will have him back on the court next season, and if I had to take a guess, More than Words won’t be the last studio album we’ll see from Brian McKnight.

Unless, of course, there’s an NBA team looking for a 43-year old, 6’5” shooting guard…

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Listen to Jason Riley’s full interview with Brian McKnight:

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San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers - Game FourIt’s been there for the past seven months now – an early end to the season. It’s been staring this Laker team in the face since their new star player, Dwight Howard, walked in still recovering from back surgery. Then it came at them full force when All-Star, two-time MVP, Steve Nash, played 16 minutes in just the second game of the regular season, and then sat out the next 24 games after suffering a lower left leg fracture. Next up came an abdominal injury to Nash’s back-up, Steve Blake, who missed 37 games. Pau Gasol suffered tendinitis in both of his knees, a concussion and torn plantar fascia in his right foot for a total of 33 missed games. Jordan Hill went down in the beginning of the year due to an injury in his left hip that forced him to miss 53 games. With the regular season winding down, Metta World Peace tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee and sat out six games. Antawn Jamison sprained his right wrist and Earl Clark had a sore right foot during the season, and to cap it all off before the playoffs, Kobe Bryant ruptured his Achilles tendon. And that’s not even the end of it. In the post-season, Nash and Blake played Games 1 and 2 but sat out the final two games with hamstring and leg injuries respectively. Jodie Meeks sprained his left ankle in Game 1 and didn’t play the rest of the series. MWP, who came back much too soon from having his torn meniscus repaired, also sat out the final game against the Spurs (thanks to Mike Trudell at Lakers.com  for breaking down this litany of woe for us).

Now this – swept by the San Antonio Spurs who are, simply, a superior team in many respects (especially when it comes to relative health). How this series played out wasn’t a surprise, considering the physical (and probably mental) state that the Lakers were in. Battered and broken all season long, how was this season supposed to end? Still, as a fan, until the final buzzer sounded in the deciding game, there was always hope for a comeback, no matter how improbable.

But the buzzer sounded, all right, signaling the end of a third disappointing season in a row.

HIGH POINTS:
Kobe Bryant – When the most exciting part of the game is Kobe Bryant walking into the arena on his crutches, then you know the things weren’t going well. But he did so in the second half to a standing ovation of fans who know that this 0-3 series hole wouldn’t be so had he not fallen to injury. And Bryant didn’t just sit there and watch. Despite the team being down by a seemingly impossible deficit from which to climb out, he continued to be who he has been to the team all season long. After a timeout, in which he was part of the huddle, he gave Darius Morris some advice, gesturing to points on the court before the young guard had to check back in. After Pau Gasol checked out of the game, Bryant put both his hands on Gasol’s shoulders, showing the Spaniard the support that he has shown consistently since he arrived five seasons ago. How could the Lakers possibly get through the playoffs, get through the first round, with the heart and soul of their team sitting at home with his left leg elevated? Tonight’s loss against the Spurs wasn’t the final blow that ended the Lakers’ season. The final knockout came six games ago when Kobe Bryant was injured.

LOW POINTS:
Dwight Howard – “Sometimes when things don’t go your way,” Howard said, “sometimes you react the wrong way, Just have to learn to keep my cool.” It was the only ending the All-Star center could come up with. In a season that failed to live up to all the expectations, Howard was ejected from the game and escorted off the floor as one of the more disappointing parts of this Laker season. Was he being unfairly and too aggressively fouled without detriment to the other team? After re-watching both causes of his two technicals? Yes he was. Could he have reacted differently? Yes, he could have and should have. But that’s all that Howard’s season has been filled with – coulda, shoulda, wouldas. His team needed him in this series, in this game. Seven points, eight rebounds, one assist and two technical, however, do not a victory make. There’s no telling whether Howard played his final game in a Laker uniform tonight, but no matter his jersey color next season, a courses on mental toughness might be in order.
Turnovers – 16 in the first half alone and 22 for the game. 22 turnovers that resulted in 24 points for the Spurs. In a 21-point loss, it’s not hard to figure out what the Lakers could have done better (taking care of the ball would have been a great start).
Another Early Exit – And we thought reaching just the second round of the playoffs in the previous two seasons was disappointing.

Even Spurs’ coach, Gregg Popovich, felt some sympathy for the Lakers.

“It wasn’t a fair fight,” he said after the game. “But they came to play every night. The guys that replaced hurt people played their [butts] off.”

Coach Mike D’Antoni seconded the notion.

“They fought as hard as they could fight,” he said. “And…I appreciated it. I hate that injuries started mounting up.”

The Lakers showed a lot of fight. Despite being 17-25 at one point, eight games under .500 and sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference, they clawed their way to get to the seventh seed, finished off their regular season with a 28-12 record, and 7-1 in April, all while battling every sort of catastrophe they could endure – injuries, Jerry Buss’ death, and then more injuries. Each week (and sometimes each game), saw a different rotation of players, different game plans, different feats to overcome. In the end, however, there was nothing left with which to fight.

This Lakers’ season was like riding a rowboat on a river that led to a waterfall in the end. In the backs of our minds, we knew this injury-ridden season wasn’t leading anywhere good, but we wanted this team to try rowing out the current anyway, and they did.

Now comes the most nerve-wracking part of the season – the off-season and all the uncertainty that accompanies it. What will this team look like in October? The coaching staff – will Mike D’Antoni really get another crack at this team? The roster – was Pau Gasol’s standing ovation his last in a Laker uniform??Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers’ front office have their work cut out for them, and all we can hope for is to have another real chance at going at it again in 2014.

Until then, LakerNation – thank you for journeying through the season with us. We’ll keep you updated as the road to recovery (physically and mentally) moves on. #GoLakers

Box Score

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PhotoCredit:Getty Images

Last night the San Antonio Spurs handed the Los Angeles Lakers their worst home playoff loss in history.  A 120-89 defeat to a dilapidated Lakers team has left fans and the team in utter disbelief.  With a season filled with such hope prior to its start, this ending is what no fan ever expected.

The injury bug would be an understatement, it was more of an injury plague, and one that affected every single Lakers starter and most of the bench.  No one managed to escape it, and this is just something that comes with being an old team and just never seeming to catch that elusive “break” everyone else seemed to get this season.

Regardless of the injuries and which teams had better luck than the Lakers, they still find themselves in an 0-3 hole against the number two seeded San Antonio Spurs.  In NBA history no team has ever come back from this kind of deficit to win the series, so the future looks bleak for this years Lakers team.  Of course anything is possible in the NBA and maybe this years team could be the first to ever come back from such a hole, or you could be in need of seeking a mental institution that could lock you up alone in a room for being delusional.

After the game on Friday night players were deflated, Lakers players that is, across the building the Spurs were massaging their hands after delivering such a spanking.  These following quotes via the Lakers NBA page:

“We respect these guys, and we’re not trying to give them any momentum whatsoever, Duncan said.”

Well that’s a nice way to talk about embarrassing a storied franchise like the Lakers, a team not used to being a seventh seeded playoff team let alone losing by 31 points at home.

Coach D’Antoni weighed in as well,

“The first half, we gave everything we had, and it obviously wasn’t enough,” Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I thought our guys played as hard as they can play.”

PhotoCredit:Harry How/Getty Images
PhotoCredit:Harry How/Getty Images

It’s almost sad to hear something like this, with as depleted as the Lakers were last night, and clearly they were, they still tried as hard as they could and that resulted in a 31 point defeat. Wow.

At least Howard hasn’t given up hope, even if everyone else likely has,

“It’s been a very tough year, but we’re not going to make any excuses, and we’re not going to quit,” Howard said.

Honestly, what is he supposed to say?  We’re done, we have no shot, let’s just throw in the towel and go home?  So his statement doesn’t carry much weight, but at least he said it, that’s what counts.

However Ginobili didn’t quite hold back with his statements,

“We saw the opportunity because of their injuries and the lack of length of the bench and the depth of the bench. We really punished them.”

Punished is a great word for what they did to the Lakers last night, truly couldn’t have said it any better myself.  He didn’t sugar coat his commentary and he shouldn’t have, although I’ll bet him and the rest of the Spurs are still bitter from the 2004 and 2008 playoffs, in which LA got the better end of those series’.

So, after such a loss the Lakers didn’t only lose the game and likely the series but they lost their luster and overall shine they used to produce for the Laker faithful.  I don’t remember watching a Laker playoff series quite as bad as this one, where it’s really just not competitive.  Even getting swept by Dallas in 2011 was more competitive than this, and at least it wasn’t in the first round.  The Lakers are known for putting on a show with an extremely high entertainment value, and last night that just wasn’t the case.  Even in losses the Lakers managed to fight to the end and keep it interesting with that allure that hovered over Los Angeles like a halo.

I know they’re injured but the product on the floor was just not something to be very proud of or worthy of remembrance.  The fans boo’d midway through the second quarter and by the end of the game were chanting “We want Phil”, and at this point the chance of the Lakers getting PJ back is about as good as winning this series.  The funny thing is that it’s not even all D’Antoni’s fault, the man never got a chance to have his whole team at his disposal, and that’s difficult for any coach, even Phil Jackson.

As negative as this article may sound, I’d like to point out a few bright spots or silver linings from last nights trouncing.  Andrew Goudelock deserves to be

PhotoCredit:GettyImages
PhotoCredit:GettyImages

considered for a roster spot next season, he played great last night and showed he deserves to be given a chance.  Same goes for Darius Morris as he played great as well and stepped up when his moment came. Pau Gasol also posted only the seventh Laker playoff triple double ever, congratulations to the big man for going out there and competing in every aspect of the game.  Dwight had good numbers too, putting up 25 and 11 but they could’ve been better for somebody of his caliber.  The guys went out and competed, it just wasn’t nearly enough.

Bottom line is the Lakers are done for this season, not much dispute there. Whether they fold on Sunday night or extend it back to San Antonio, the season is over and can go down as a colossal failure.  Last nights loss was but a microcosm of the entire season.  With a starting line up consisting of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard nobody anticipated it all going down this way, no one saw the team personifying the Hindenburg disaster.  Set your sights on next year Laker Nation, changes will be made, injuries will heal, and the Los Angeles Lakers will be in top form to compete for an NBA Championship, mark my words.

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Photo courtesy of Frederic J. Brown, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Frederic J. Brown, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Frederic J. Brown, Getty Images

The Spurs, for as long as Greg Popovich has been coach, have looked the same every year. Barring serious injuries, they play with a steadiness that has earned them multiple championships, numerous trips through the post-season and a reputation, not of flash and excitement, but of consistency. They don’t play with a lot of nonsense and drama surrounding them so they are able to focus on a singular, collective goal – winning.

For all the trials that this season has brought, the Lakers looked the exact opposite of their first round opponents. They are deeply scarred by injuries and play with anything BUT consistence and steadiness. The best player on this team was in the locker room getting treatment for a season-ending injury, three regular rotation players sat on the bench in suits, the starting backcourt consisted of a back-up to the back-up point guard plus a D-Leaguer (MVP though, might I add), their back-up center was playing in just his second game since suffering an injury back in January, their leading rebounder (on the team and in the league) seems to have lost the desire to grab boards, their co-captain ended the regular season with back-to-back triple doubles, but since then cannot figure out how to lead this team on the court, and the coach is being blamed for all of it. The Lakers are, in a phrase, a raging hot mess, and an 0-3 position in this series doesn’t begin to tell the tale of just how much.

HIGH POINTS:
Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris – Since word that three more guards would be shutting down, the two young Lakers were called upon to play their hearts out, and that they certainly did. After Goudelock received his D-League MVP award before the game, he went out and scored 20 points on 8-17 from the field and added three steals to his stat line. Morris, who went from playing regularly when Nash and Blake were out to begin the season, to not playing at all, to suddenly starting, contributed 24 points on 9-15 and handed out six assists. The pair were given a task and they carried it out as best they could, which is more than can be said of the veteran teammates who are supposed to be examples for them.

DRAW:
Dwight Howard – Howard, for his part, put in 25 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. Is it too much to ask that the league’s leading rebounder do a little more rebounding? That a three-time defensive player of the year could stop a an older player, like Tim Duncan, from going off for 26 points?
Pau Gasol – What an anti-climactic triple double – 11 points on 5-10 from the field, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. That’s all well and good, since the Lakers needed every bit of those boards and dimes, but he could have and should have been more adamant about scoring. Early in the fourth quarter, Gasol blew by Tim Duncan and the Spurs’ defense and scored on a layup. Where was that in the first three quarters when the Lakers weren’t already down by 30 points?
Turnovers – Only 13 turnovers for the Lakers, which would have been worth a whole lot more had they won the game.

LOW POINTS:
Bench – 46-9, that was the Spurs’ advantage off the reserves. To be fair, all of the Laker reserves are either injured or starting, but nine points between four players who saw the floor? Chris Duhon was never depended on to score and Jordan Hill just came back from injury. Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark, however, didn’t play aggressively enough.
Defense – The Spurs shot 61% FOR THE GAME. They also outrebounded the Lakers 49-35. There isn’t much explanation needed here.

The Spurs can, and sadly will probably, end this series on Sunday. Certainly, there’s a part of every fan (and perhaps player), that would prefer for the band-aid to be torn off quickly and painlessly. Unfortunately, despite the speed with which this series has panned out, the pain can hardly be ignored, nor forgotten.

Box Score

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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.