Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Blog Page 85

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Photo courtesy of Stephen Dunn, Getty Images

It’s been like clockwork for these Lakers this season. They get an impressive win, and then follow it up with a stinker. After besting the Dallas Mavericks in their first meeting since getting eliminated from last year’s playoffs, they were clobbered by the Heat in Miami. A huge win the following week against the Clippers, was followed by a loss to a short-handed Bucks team in Milwaukee. After a gritty, hard-fought victory in Boston, they lost in a poor effort in New York against the Knicks. After defeating Miami at Staples during a Sunday afternoon game, they dropped two in a row against the super-sub-.500 Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards. Last week, the Lakers took the season series away from the Clippers and then lost their season series to both the Houston Rockets, who are seventh in the West and the Phoenix Suns, who are still fighting to make a playoff berth. After that thumping they gave the second seed San Antonio Spurs, a letdown tonight would have been disappointing, but it wouldn’t have been surprising. Fortunately for us, no letdown was in sight.

With the post-season just six games away, now is as good a time as any to break those bad habits and adopt new ones, especially if they involve winning. After an inspiring win in San Antonio, the Lakers met the Denver Nuggets tonight and continued their mission to finish off the regular season on the right foot going into the playoffs. Absent for tonight’s game was Coach Mike Brown, who had to head home before tip-off to take care of a family matter, but in his stead was assistant coach, John Keuster.

After the first quarter, it looked like the Lakers had picked up where they left off a couple of days ago, getting what they wanted on offense (52% from the field with Andrew Bynum’s 10 points leading the way), because of what they were doing on defense (allowing Denver to convert just 35% of their shots). They outscored the Nuggets 30-19 before Denver finally woke up.

For the final three quarters, the Lakers’ lead oscillated from double to single digits, until it reached a single point late in the game. With Mr. Fourth Quarter, Kobe Bryant, sitting on the bench in his suit for the fourth game in a row, the Lakers’ guardian angel for the night came to the rescue in the form of Matt Barnes. Andrew Bynum may have led the game with his 30 points, and Metta World Peace kept them in the game in the first half, but the final quarter belonged to Barnes’ nine points on 4-5 from the field.

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Voice of the Nation hosts, David BrickleyJason Riley and Kevin Figgers discuss the Lakers top story-lines of the 2011-12 NBA Season.

Rundown

  • Kobe Bryant Playing Too Many Minutes?

Question of the Show: Kobe: Too Many Minutes or Simply Getting Older? (Comment Below)

Videographer: Ryan King

Editor: Colin Beatt

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Photo courtesy of Chris Graythen, Getty Images

That injured shin has prevented Kobe Bryant from putting on his uniform and playing, but it hasn’t stopped him from getting on his feet and cheering on his teammates, which he did a lot tonight and who could blame him?

For the third game in a row, the Lakers had to play without one of their captains, but in his place stepped up a slew of other leaders who did some mighty fine leading. Against the San Antonio Spurs, who are heralded for their success because they play as a team, aren’t distracted by the need for attention and are guided by a no-nonsense coach, the Lakers showed they are more than Kobe’s team and more than the drama they sometimes create.

Spurs coach, Greg Popovich received a combination of praise and raised eyebrows this week for resting Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. Actually, he didn’t just sit them out. They didn’t even travel with the team to Utah, a game they lost before tonight against the Lakers. With a significant lead in the standings, the Spurs could apparently afford to rest their stars in preparation for this evening’s contest, but based on how the San Antonio Big Three performed, it might’ve been better to keep them playing to avoid the rust. Duncan was the only Spur who took more than four shots and made 50% of his attempts. Parker and Ginobli combined for just 13 points of 5-20 from the field.

The Lakers, on the other hand, have run their starters ragged this season and they’ve shown fatigue and laziness that have resulted in lost leads and lost (completely winnable) games. Tonight, however, they were all in. The game started with each team starting 0-4 , and both shot under 40% from the field. The Lakers’ efforts on the glass, however, kept them ahead throughout, even despite the few lead changes.

After the first half, the Lakers led by just five points, but had outrebounded the Spurs 37-18, led by Andrew Bynum’s 19 rebounds. They also kept the Spurs off the offensive glass, preventing a single second chance point. After two quarters, three Lakers were in double figure points to lead the game.

In the third quarter, the Lakers pulled away, led by the phenomenal play of Metta World Peace, who scored 11 of his 26 points. They were also energized by a defense that forced the Spurs into shooting just 6-20 from the field (30%). The home team couldn’t get a bucket to save their lives and couldn’t run any defense to stop the Lakers from shooting 67%.

Duncan, Parker and Ginobli all sat out the fourth quarter, the mark of Popovich’s white flag, and despite the rest of the team cutting the 26-point lead in half late in the game, the Lakers managed to keep it together to pull out the win.

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Lamar Odom and the Dallas Mavericks have reached an agreement for Odom to leave the team.

The story was first broke Monday by Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

The Mavericks and Odom spent Easter Sunday working out a parting, according to sources close to the situation, that frees the struggling Odom to leave the team immediately without actually being released.

Odom also released a statement on the agreement:

“The Mavericks and I have mutually agreed that it’s in the best interest of both parties for me to step away from the team,” Odom said in a statement to ESPN.com. “I’m sorry that things didn’t work out better for both of us, but I wish the Mavs’ organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship.”

Since Odom will be placed on the inactive list he is not available to be picked up by another team. Even if he was officially released from the team he would not be available to sign with another team. Since the March 23rd trade deadline has already passed.

Odom never fit in with Dallas as he averaged just 6.6 points on 35 percent shooting.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Graythen, Getty Images

They had once led by nine points, and then they fell behind by nine points. Such is life for the Los Angeles Lakers. After dropping the last two games against teams who are either trying to maintain their playoff position or vying for a place in the Western Conference top eight at all, the Lakers had their third meeting with a team who doesn’t have much to fight for, but who fights hard anyway. The New Orleans Hornets have had a tough year – first they lost Chris Paul, which coincided with a failed trade with the Lakers (or perhaps dodging the bullet that is Lamar Odom was a blessing in disguise); they’re still under the management of the league, and at this point in the season, they’re down three of their best players in Eric Gordon, Emeka Okafor and, most recently, Jarrett Jack.

In the two teams’ first meeting, the Lakers came back up from being down 17 points to win in overtime. In their second game, it took a Kobe Bryant clutch three to win at home. Tonight, for the second game in a row, there was no Kobe Bryant, but fortunately for the Lakers, rather up-and-down as their season has been, they’re still equipped with some fine players beyond the Mamba.

Standing in for Bryant in the starting line-up was, again, Devin Ebanks. He scored just half as much as he did subbing in for the Phoenix game, but his efforts early in the first quarter did not go unnoticed. With Pau Gasol’s deflection on a pass, the ball went loose and Ebanks dove for it right through Greivis Vasquez’s legs, and immediately called timeout. That was just a sign of how this game was going to be won, and that would be through the dirty work of everyone in a purple uniform. This would not be a blowout, by either team, though the Hornets’ hot shooting behind the arc begged to differ.

For the third game in a row, the Lakers failed miserably to close in on opposing shooters and they paid for it. Marco Bellinelli hit 4-7 and Vasquez converted 5-6! But instead of responding to what seemed like a barrage of threes by jacking up their own from downtown, the Lakers stuck to their game – inside then out, with a dash of defense, and it worked. Go figure!

“We had no other choice but to get stops,” Gasol told Mike Trudell in his post-game interview. When pressed against the wall, the Lakers can play defense and tonight, they were pinned to one.

After getting outscored 12-4 to close the first half, the Lakers outscored New Orleans 28-19 in the final quarter to take the W.

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It’s April 9, 2012 and the (35-22) Los Angeles Lakers are in the big easy to play the (15-41) New Orleans Hornets. In the first game of a three-game road trip, playing without Kobe Bryant, the Suns (125-105) routed the Lakers. Saturday’s game against the Suns was the Lakers first in two seasons without the services of Kobe Bryant.

Bryant’s absence, due to injury, snapped a string of 138 consecutive regular season games.  Kobe Bryant leads the league in scoring averaging 28.1 points per game, against the Suns his average raises to 38 points, the numbers suggest that if healthy the outcome of Saturday’s game would have been different had the ‘black mamba’ laced up his Nike Kobe System VII Supremes.

Despite the loss, the game provided us with the good, bad & ugly. The good, that the Lakers scored 64 points in the paint, the front line of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace combined for 72 points, Bynum & Gasol 52 shot attempts, Metta World Peace averaging 21 points two straight games, everyone on the bench played and Devin Ebanks scored a career-high 12 points in 32 minutes.

The bad, Bynum & Gasol made only 24 –of- 52 shot attempts, the Lakers defending the three-point shot. The ugly, reserves scored 10 points, the reserves shooting 4-of-16 from the field, Andrew Goudelock & Darius Morris combining for four minutes, the Lakers shooting 1-of-11 from behind the arc.

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Photo courtesy of Christian Petersen, Getty Images

Kobe Bryant looked sharp on the bench…in his suit and tie that is. Having to sit out this game due to his bruised left shin that has turned into a swollen tendon (see OCRegister story here). Bryant handed off the reigns to the rest of his team. He’d been huge in their four previous wins (and even in yesterday’s loss), but when the Mamba misses just his second game in two seasons, you know it has to be bad.

Getting the starting nod in his absence was Devin Ebanks, and what a great start to the game he had. Of course, the Lakers, as expected, had a great start as a whole, but the Achilles heel for this team has been, for the majority of the season, being unable to follow through in the ensuing three quarters left to play.

The Lakers played a respectable first quarter, outscoring the Suns 32-24, shooting 48% and allowed the home team just 40% shooting rom the field. Pau Gasol was the only player in double figures after 12 minutes and the Lakers went the entire quarter without a single turnover. Up to that point, getting a victory without Kobe Bryant didn’t seem all that difficult…and then the dreaded next three quarters came.

When you allow a team to score 75 points in two quarters, it doesn’t usually bode well for the victory hopes, yet that is exactly what the Lakers did for the Suns. After scoring just 24 points in the first quarter, Phoenix scored 38 in the second and then 37 in the third to take a commanding 16-point lead going into the final 12 minutes. And unlike the Lakers, they actually know how to hold on to their double-digit advantage. Unfortunately, the Lakers couldn’t figure out how to dig themselves out of that hole, completely unable to control the Suns’ hot shooting from behind the arc. Phoenix led by as much as 22 points before finishing off the visitors by 20.

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Photo by Getty Images

It’s April 7, 2012 and the (35-21) Los Angeles Lakers are in the desert, dealing with 90-degree weather, looking to bounce back for last night’s loss against the (28-27) Phoenix Suns. The Lakers had their four-game winning streak snapped in the 112-107 loss to the Rockets.

Although the loss was disappointing, the way the Lakers have performed defensively as of late, the outcome should not be a total shock. The Lakers showed early in the season that they can be a solid defensive team.

It is imperative that Kobe Bryant, the leader of the team, pulls Andrew Bynum aside and informs him that he is an integral part of this team, that he will receive his touches and that the Lakers are at their best with him on the floor.

Regarding Bynum, and his transgressions, the consensus has been that he is immature or that he needs to find a balance. There is some truth in those statements, but the fact of the matter is that Bynum is a seven-year veteran that is being defiant. There is no need to treat a 25-year old like a teenager.

Bynum has developed into a dominant force; anchor of the defense, the number two scoring option on the team capable of carrying the team although now is not the time to draw a line in the sand and prove that point. As talented, as Bynum is it is better for the team if he ‘stays in his lane’ as opposed to demanding to be the main cannon.

The Lakers pattern of starting fast, establishing a lead with solid ball movement, excellent player movement then letting the lead and game get away from them has to stop.

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Photo courtesy of Harry How, Getty Images

In the Eastern Conference, the best center in the league is (unsuccessfully) trying to avoid looking like the bad guy. In the Western Conference, arguably the second best center in the league is doing one hell of a job reaching that reputation himself.

There is a laundry list of reasons why the Lakers lost tonight – it was their fifth game in seven days and Houston hasn’t played since Monday so the Lakers’ lack of energy was a factor; the lack of energy affected both their sloppy offense and barely-noticeable defense; Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ramon Sessions and Metta World Peace are all nursing somewhat mild injuries to various body parts. Bottom line: other than the injuries, all the other sources for this loss are fixable, but the ejected center who was producing before he got his second technical foul of the game? Who but Andrew Bynum himself could fix that?

Before he was ejected, Bynum had chipped in 19 points on 6-11 from the field and a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. He also had seven rebounds and two blocks. Having a great game himself tonight was Metta World Peace. With a slow start to Gasol’s night, not to mention Sessions, World Peace was a strong gust of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant game for the home team.

The Lakers did end the first half on a 10-2 run, however, and it appeared they finally got that surge of energy they needed to close out this game, but they got as far as a 63-52 lead to begin the second half, but were then outscored in the third quarter 34-22 with the help of Houston’s 5-6 from downtown. By the time the fourth quarter came around, the Lakers’ 11-point lead had turned into a four-point deficit.

After Bynum was ejected from the game, the Laker offense went south (as did their defense), scoring 26 points on an awful 8-26 from the field – 31%, and allowed Houston to shoot 50%. They lost this game after giving up that large lead…again.

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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant joined the Dan Patrick Radio Show to talk about where the team currently stands, the dunk heard ‘round the world against the Clippers on Wednesday night, Mike Brown and more. Here a few highlights from the interview:

On whether he took it personal that the Clippers were the media darlings at the start of the season…

As a group we used that to motivate us. We haven’t been in the position of being the underdog in our championship runs…and we kind of use that as fuel.”

On the how the schedule has affected him…

I find myself getting a little bit more rest than before. Its funny remembering back to when I was 23 and 22 [years old] I’d just bounce back and all of a sudden the injuries that you have don’t linger as long…now I find myself constantly taking care of my body, having to watch what I eat and all this stuff, its pretty crazy.”

On if there are any parallels between Andrew Bynum and Kobe when he was Bynum’s age…

The thing that we both have in common when I was his age is he has the drive to prove himself, you know on the court he’s very hungry to prove that he’s one of the top players and he goes out every night and tries to do that. You can tell when he plays he plays with confidence, he plays with determination no matter who he’s matched up against to prove night in and night out that he’s one of the best.”

On whether Andrew needs to be handled/motivated….

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Voice of the Nation hosts, David Brickley, Jason Riley and Kevin Figgers discuss the Lakers top story-lines of the 2011-12 NBA Season.

Rundown

  • Mike Brown Losing the Lakers Locker Room?

Question of the Show: Is Mike Brown losing the locker room? (Comment Below)

Videographer: Ryan King

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Photo courtesy of Harry How, Getty Images

“We got the W,” Pau Gasol said. “He can have the highlight.”

“He” refers to Blake Griffin, and as far as highlights go, he creates several in every game. Unfortunately, posters do not a victory make. Playing to your strengths and playing for and with your teammates – that’s what gets the win. Despite occasional lapses in judgment, the Lakers did just that. They used their strengths properly, and they got the win because of it – Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol’s size and skill, Kobe Bryant’s killer instinct, Ramon Sessions’ speed and decision-making on the fly, a supporting cast of defenders, rebounders and playmakers.

This was a meaningful game for both teams on several levels – the Pacific Division title, which could guarantee a favorable playoff seeding, the winner of the series tiebreaker should playoff positioning require one, and most of all, bragging rights as the better L.A. basketball team. As far as the Lakers are concerned, however, the Clippers hadn’t taken anything away from them except a little attention.

While the Clippers were crowned L.A.’s hot new team when the season began, the Lakers were basically shoved aside for being old, washed up and past their chance at attaining another championship. Funny thing about old people though – they often don’t give a hoot what the young ‘uns are doing – at least old man, Kobe Bryant, didn’t.

Blake Griffin dunked over Pau Gasol twice, knocking him down both times, and then hovering over him in the latter play. He also pushed Gasol on the back as the Laker forward went up for a shot in transition, which knocked him into the line of photographers sitting on the floor. Clearly heated for scarcely getting any calls in his favor, Gasol received a technical for complaining to the officials. Ramon Sessions, who felt he was getting the same treatment from Chris Paul, received a technical for showing his frustration for the lack of calls as well. On both occasions, Kobe Bryant channeled his inner Derek Fisher to calm both teammates. He pulled Sessions aside before he ran his mouth into a second technical. During a timeout, he basically told Gasol and Bynum to let their playing do taunting, and for doing just that, they got the W.

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Harry How/Getty Images

It’s April 4, 2012 and the (34-20) Los Angeles Lakers face the (32-21) Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in the 55thgame of the year. Pau Gasol (22 points and 12 rebounds) & Ramon  Sessions’ (19 points and 11 assists) posted a double-double, Kobe scored 24 points and his three-point shot at the end of the game saved the Lakers from a bad loss to the Nets after the purple and gold clad team lost a 17-point lead.

The Lakers are riding a three-game winning streak. Not to be out-done, the Clippers are enjoying a six-game winning streak, their longest since 1992. The Clippers are also in the midst of their best 53-game start since arriving in Los Angeles in 1984.

The winner of tonight’s game not only will be able to extend their winning streak, but also win the season series. The Lakers have split the first two games of their three-game season series after taking last season’s series 3-1. The Lakers lead the all-time series 142-49, (96-49 as the L.A. Clippers). The Lakers have lost just two season series in franchise history (1974-1975 & 1992-1993) to the Clippers.

The Lakers are 6-4 in the last 10 games overall against the Clippers. The Lakers are 21-4 all-time against the Clippers in home games at the Staples Center. The Lakers are 9-1 in their last 10 home contests and are winners of their last nine straight. On the road, against the Clippers the Lakers are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The irony is that the Lakers are technically playing a road game in their building.

The Lakers will more than likely have to face the Clippers without the services of Andrew Bynum. Bynum’s participation or not will be a game-time decision. It is imperative that everyone in a purple and gold jersey step their game up and do a little bit more in Bynum’s absence. The Lakers have developed a pattern of lethargic play that they will need to shake. Understandably this cannot be done overnight, but the Lakers need to develop a killer instinct, the ability to close out an opponent and maintain leads before the playoffs start.

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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.