Thursday, December 18, 2014
Blog Page 87

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Photo courtesy of Ezra Shaw of Getty Images

The Laker lead was 45-29. Alas, it was too early in the game for it to be of any significance to the team. The 16-point advantage was attained just seven minutes into the second quarter, and if there’s anything we’ve learned from the Lakers this season, it’s that no lead is secure unless it comes at the end of the final buzzer.

As they’ve done often this season, the Lakers started the game focused. Their shots weren’t falling with regularity at the onset, but their saving grace came on the heels of their defense. They allowed the Warriors just 16 points in the first quarter on 31% shooting and then went off on a run that created that 16-point lead midway through the second quarter. As easily as they built that lead, however, they also just as easily lost it and, going into the halftime, led by just seven points.

The ensuing 24 minutes after the break will surely be a hot topic in post-game news stories and sports talk radio, because after Kobe Bryant’s “benching” in Sunday’s loss, came Andrew Bynum’s benching in the midst of today’s win. Two minutes into the third quarter, Andrew Bynum attempted a three-pointer in transition and was immediately sent to the bench 30 seconds later. He didn’t play again until the fourth quarter, but after missing a jump shot, a layup, one of two free throws and failing to show any sort of effort on defense, he was sent back to the bench where he remained for the rest of the game.

The Lakers could have used him in those final minutes, on defense or to get some easy scores, but as fate would have it, they still had Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol on the floor, who combined to score 15 of the Lakers’ 25 points in the fourth quarter. It was a team win, with even the Laker bench contributing to the effort. Unfortunately, Bynum bowed out of this one and never looked back up, which is a real shame considering the efforts his teammates put in.

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Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It is March 27, 2012 and the (30-19) Los Angeles Lakers have traveled to Oakland, CA for a run against (20-27) Golden State Warriors. The Lakers had a subpar effort against the Grizzlies, never matched the intensity of their opponent, which resulted in a 102-96 loss, their second home loss in seven days.

The Grizzlies had seven players score in double-digits, out-rebounded the Lakers 42-38, Memphis won the points in the paint battle 52-36 and the Grizzlies reserves emphatically out-scored the Lakers reserves 41-9. Tonight’s meeting is the first of two in the next six days.

The Lakers lead the season series with the Warriors (1-0, winning 97-90 on 1/6/12), L.A. won last year’s series 3-1. The Lakers have swept four of the last six season series with the Warriors and have not lost a season series to the Warriors since losing 2-3 loss in the 1994-1995 season. The Lakers are 27-4 in the last 31 games against Golden State. The Lakers had their 12-game winning streak against the Warriors snapped in an 87-95 defeat on 4/6/11.

The Lakers have gone 8-2 against the Warriors in their last 10 games at the Oracle Arena. In 56 games (including 47 starts) against the Warriors, Kobe Bryant is averaging 27.1 points per game, his third highest average among all teams behind Charlotte, Toronto and Portland.

The Warriors are 4-6 in their last 10 games. Golden State has an 11-13 record at the Oracle Arena, 7-4 in the Pacific Division and 13-17 against the Western Conference. The Warriors are a team whose roster appears to be stuck in a state of ceaseless change. The Warriors are out of the NBA playoff picture.

Since the last meeting, the Warriors have traded away guard Monta Ellis and have been starting rookie Klay Thompson (the son of former player and current Lakers radio color analyst Mychal Thompson, who played his prep basketball locally at Santa Margarita HS in Orange County). Thompson has responded scoring in double-digits in the last six games including a 31-point outburst on 3/24/12 against the Sacramento Kings.

The Warriors are 3-6 since the Monta Ellis trade. David Lee is posting solid numbers for Golden State, but the Warriors do not have the personnel to deal with the Lakers frontline. Tonight’s game provides the Lakers an opportunity to fix what ails them. Establish Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the painted area and allow them to go to work. Gasol’s jump shot has been off in the last two games, it is time for him to catch the ball closer to the basket.

Tonight’s game provides Ramon Sessions and Kobe Bryant to improve their continuity. The Lakers effort, intensity and execution on defense have to improve. The Lakers have to play with a high energy level and play with a sense of urgency and match the intensity of their opponent. It is imperative that the Lakers ball movement and player movement greatly improve. To be successful, the Lakers have to make precise passes to limit their turnovers, defend, control the boards, win the points in the paint battle and receive a huge impact from their bench.

Starters
Lakers: R. Sessions, K. Bryant, M. Peace, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Warriors:
C. Jenkins, K. Thompson, D. Wright, D. Lee, J. Tyler

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
  • Golden State: CSN Bay (Jim Barnett & Bob Fitzgerald)

Radio

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Golden State: KNBR 680 (Tim Roye & Jim Barnett)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Jordan Hill (Sprained MCL, Right Knee) Questionable

Warriors:

  • Stephen Curry (Ankle Sprain) Out
  • Andris Biedrins (Groin) Day-to-Day
  • Nate Robinson (Hamstring) Day-to-Day
  • Andrew Bogut (Ankle) Out

 

 

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Photo by Harry How | Getty Images

Imagine if there was 5:45 left in the game, the Lakers were down by 14, and Mike Brown decides the Lakers are better off with Kobe Bryant on the bench.

Well it happened.

Mike Brown went with Metta World Peace over Kobe Bryant at the 5:45 mark in the 4th quarter. Kobe sat next to Josh McRoberts until 1:51 left in the game.

The Lakers ended up losing the game to the Memphis Grizzles 102 to 96.

Former Laker, and current Fox Sports Net analyst, Norm Nixon mentioned on FSN’s postgame show that Mike Brown may have forgot Kobe was on the bench. As Mike Brown was working with different rotations.

However, that was simply not the case as Mike Brown had this to say when asked why Kobe was on the bench down the stretch:

I just decided to make a sub.”

When prodded, and asked for more clarification Brown would not elaborate much:

At the time I just felt I needed to make a sub, so I did. It wasn’t one particular thing.”

Kobe Bryant was asked postgame if he was upset with the benching (via Mark Medina):

Of course I was…If you guys are looking for a story, I’m not going to give you one. I can’t sit here and criticize his decisions.”

The Lakers have lost three of their last five. Two of those losses being at home where the Lakers are now 20-4. The Lakers next game is Tuesday at Golden State, and then they come back home to host Derek Fisher and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Here is video of Kobe’s full postgame comments via Lakers.com:

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Photo Courtesy of Stephen Dunn from Getty Images

No energy, no effort, not even the slightest smidge of common sense. When a team is missing all this, they absolutely don’t deserve to win the game and that was the case with the Lakers tonight.

After a solid win on Friday against the scrappy Portland Trailblazers, the Lakers had Saturday to prepare for their third meeting against the Grizzlies; the first two contests going in the Lakers’ favor. Last time it took a second half effort from the Lakers to get over a large deficit, in addition to two overtimes to finally get the victory in Memphis, and that was without the services of Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph. Tonight, Gay and Randolph were in, and the Lakers looked like they were out.

They looked lazy at the onset, needing eight attempts to finally hit their first field goal, a layup from Pau Gasol after six missed jump shots and a missed tip-in. Jump shots, with Andrew Bynum patrolling the paint, the Lakers’ first six attempts from the field were jump shots. After the first quarter, the Lakers were down four points after shooting just 42% from the field and then fell behind by 10 points going into halftime after shooting just 39% in the first two quarters and allowing Memphis to shoot 50% from the field. The Lakers were playing like they’d just woken up and Memphis, who’d gotten blown out by the Clippers yesterday, had all the energy in this game.

After the half, the Lakers seemed to tap into some sort of energy source because they suddenly came alive, going on a 20-9 run to take the lead after Ramon Sessions hit one from downtown. It appeared the home team was finally ready to play and, going into the final quarter, got behind again, but only by three absolutely manageable points, or so it should have been.

The Laker defense came and went throughout the game, but it completely fell apart in the final quarter. In a span of two minutes, O.J. Mayo scoring nine straight points and the once manageable deficit turned into a 13-point hole at which the Lakers continued to chip away, but they let the game get away from them.

Kobe Bryant, with 5:45 left in the fourth, was oddly substituted out for Metta World Peace, and he sat on the bench until there was only 1:51 left in the game. By the time he checked back in, the Lakers were still down by nine points and any hope of a comeback had passed.

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Getty Images

It is March 25, 2012 and the (30-18) Los Angeles Lakers don their Sunday white jerseys to face the (25-21) Memphis Grizzlies, an hour later than usual. The Lakers beat the Trailblazers 103-96 on 3/23/12, but an interesting take away from the game was that all five starters for the Lakers were in double digits highlighted by Ramon Sessions’ 20-point 11-assist performance in his first start.

The Lakers recorded a season-high 33-assists and out-rebounded the Blazers 53-29. Ramon Sessions’ has averaged 13.6-points and seven assists in his five games sporting a purple and gold jersey. The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 games riding a two-game winning streak.

Ramon Sessions’ play has made the game easier for everyone. Sessions’ playmaking ability is allowing Kobe Bryant to play shooting guard without the added task of creating offense for others.  Tonight’s matchup has presented the Laker Nation with some forgettable moments.

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Photo courtesy of Stephen Dunn of Getty Images

After sharing pleasantries and “good game” sentiments with the Portland Trailblazers, Kobe Bryant walked along the side line and came upon teammate Matt Barnes, whose comment we may never learn, causes Bryant to throw his head back in a hearty laugh. Bryant grabbed each of Barnes’ shoulders from behind, giving his teammate a shake as they laughed on their way to the locker room, passing Metta World Peace to their right, doing a post-game radio interview, and Ramon Sessions on the left giving a live interview for the folks at Staples and FSN West.

For someone who hit his first 5-6 shots then missed his next 11, Bryant appeared to be in great spirits. There would be no late night shooting drills on the court; no terse replies or stoic staredowns with the media. The Lakers had just won their 20th game at home and currently occupy the third seed in the Western Conference, looking down at their rivals across the hall who, after being heralded when the season began, have since been doused with a good ol’ bucket of reality. His best friend in the league may have been traded without warning, but in exchange they’ve acquired a fast, young point guard who, get this, scores in bunches. Why shouldn’t Bryant be in good spirits?

After splitting their Texas two-step with a loss in Houston but a win in Dallas, the Lakers came home and Ramon Sessions was promoted to the starting line-up. Just like he fit coming off the bench, Sessions showed tonight that he fits in as a member of the starting five too.

Against a Trailblazers team who has gone through a coach firing and team retooling in the last week, the Lakers might’ve taken a greater advantage and pummeled over this team like they did in their last meeting at Staples, where Portland scored just seven points in the first quarter. But after opening the game with a hot start, scoring 30-19 in the first quarter alone, Portland threw a zone defense at the home team and suddenly the once double-digit advantage turned into a three-point advantage, and then it turned into a tie. Fortunately for the Lakers, a tie was as far as the Trailblazers would reach.

Thanks in large part to great all-around games from newcomer, Ramon Sessions and Metta World Peace, in addition to 33 assists, the Lakers managed to hang on to this win, and it was a fun win. The lost large lead aside, the Lakers looked like more than just a team focused on reaching the end. They looked like a TEAM who enjoyed each other’s successes as much as their own. They looked, simply, like they were having fun, and that seems to make all the difference.

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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

  • Lakers Trade Luke Walton, and Jason Kapono for Ramon Sessions

Question of the Show: Does Ramon Sessions Make Lakers a Title Contender?

Videographer: Ryan King

 

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Photo by Harry How | Getty Images

It’s March 23, 2012 and the (29-18) Los Angeles Lakers are back to work at the Staples Center to start a two-game home stand against the (22-25) Portland Trailblazers. The Lakers put on one of their best performances of the year shooting the lights out in Dallas and dismantling the Mavericks beating them for the third time this season and 13th time out of 16 regular season games.

New Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions asserted himself, on the recent two-game road trip, on display was the immediate impact his style of play brings to this team. The scary thing is that Sessions’ is far from reaching his peak as a Laker. It is safe to say that the journey has just begun. Ramon totaled 17 points 11 assists in his first two games, on the road Sessions’ posted 31 points on 13-of-17 shooting and 13 assists. The previously mentioned numbers will increase now that he is a starter and not just playing starter’s minutes.

The Portland Trailblazers waived Mehmet Okur to make room for J.J. Hickson.

Ironically, tonight’s game brings together three former Cavaliers (Christian Eyenga who is a young player acquired via trade developing with the L.A. Defenders in the D-league) and Cleveland’s two leading scorers last season in Ramon Sessions and J.J. Hickson.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Chambers from Getty Images

A concerted effort from tip-off to the final buzzer – well waddya know? After losing two games in a row, both in which they had early leads, the Lakers had to come into Dallas and play out of their minds to forget those unnecessary losses. Both the Jazz and Rockets games were winnable, and the team was in the process of doing just that – winning. But overconfidence always seems to peek in and the Lakers fall for the bait every time. Tonight, however, they were a team on a mission.

With a Dallas Mavericks team playing without the services of Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood, they were short a big body and a big scorer. The Lakers knew they needed to take care of this game tonight, and they knew they had to take advantage of their opponent’s disadvantage. They’d beaten Dallas twice this season already, at their full strength. There would be no excuses tonight.

Just as they did in last night’s game, the Lakers opened with a hot first quarter, shooting 60% from the field, led by Kobe Bryant’s 10 points on 4-7 and Pau Gasol’s eight points on 4-5. The stand-out star of the night, however, began his night with just under five minutes of the first quarter but produced five points and four assists. Ramon Sessions, in just his fourth game as a Laker, showed off his savvy under every category and the team is worlds better because of it.

In the second quarter, the Lakers managed to score 30 points on 54% shooting and allowed Dallas only 15 points on just 25% from the field. The Mavericks were kept to just 40% shooting for the half while the Lakers managed 57%.

Unlike last night’s game, the second half was an even better played 24 minutes of basketball than the first. The Lakers shot 61% from the field and completely pulled away midway in the final quarter. The threeball was falling (heck, even Pau Gasol hit one from the corner), the ball movement was there, they were aggressive on defense and the energy never wavered, and that goes a long way.

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(Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

It is March 21, 2012 and the (28-18) Los Angeles Lakers are facing the tough challenge of removing the stench of a bad two-game skid and snapping a four-game winning streak of the (27-20) defending World Champion Dallas Mavericks. That challenge is much more daunting in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

The Lakers have a strong desire to place a pair of terrible, frustrating and at times unfathomable performances behind them. Andrew Bynum’s game ended early against the Rockets because of his own undoing, he owes the Lakers franchise, his coaching staff, his teammates, the Laker Nation and himself a better performance and much better control of his temper.

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Photo by Patrick McDermott | Getty Images

UPDATE: Yahoo Sports! is reporting that Derek Fisher will play his first game for the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Los Angeles Clippers tonight.

According to ESPN.com, Derek Fisher will sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder when he clears waivers today:

Derek Fisher and the Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to terms on a rest-of-the-season contract that will be signed after Fisher clears waivers, according to sources close to the process.

Fisher is scheduled to clear waivers at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday and is already in Oklahoma City in anticipation of joining the Thunder, who beat out the Miami Heat to add Fisher for the playoffs.

The Thunder have roughly $3 million left of their mid-level exception and thus possessed the ability to outbid Miami by offering a portion of that amount to sign Fisher to a one-year deal.

The Lakers play the Thunder two more times this season. March 29th in Los Angeles, and April 22nd also in Los Angeles.

Fisher reached a buy-out agreement with the Houston Rockets after he was traded by the Los Angele Lakers for Jordan Hill.

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Photo courtesy of Christian Petersen from Getty Images

New game plan, Mike Brown – fall instantly behind by 15-20 points in the first half, and then surge from behind in the second half to win the game by two or three points. Evidently, the team can’t hang on to a double-digit lead during any part of the game, so best to just play from a deficit to give yourselves a better chance at the victory.

There are some things that winning teams just don’t do, and scoring 40 points in the first quarter on 68% shooting only to follow it by 16 points on 33% shooting in the second quarter, is one of those things. The Lakers played a great opening quarter behind the hot shooting of their Big Three – Pau Gasol (12 points on 6-8), Andrew Bynum (8 points on 4-6) and Kobe Bryant (9 points on 3-5). They had just a single turnover to the Rockets’ six and went into the next 12 minutes with all the momentum…and then they really let Houston have it. Yes, the Lakers let the Rockets take all of that momentum, and each time the visiting team grabbed some back, the home team snatched it from them.

After leading by as much as 17 points in the opening seconds of the second quarter, the Lakers suddenly went limp on their defense (Rockets scored on three straight possessions), their offense (they didn’t score for almost two minutes) and their typical regular carelessness with the ball began to rear it’s ugly head and added five giveaways in the second. By halftime, the once 17-point lead was six.

Halfway through the third quarter, the Rockets finally got over the hump, and it was back and forth until the final quarter, but not before Andrew Bynum was ejected from the game after getting his second technical foul. When the Lakers opened the fourth with a block from Josh McRoberts, a driving layup from Ramon Sessions and a long two from Metta World Peace, it looked like they were finally putting in the work to finish this game with a win. With the help of the Laker reserves on the floor, the lead turned into 12 with just over half the quarter gone…and then they suddenly turned into this jump shooting team. Bryant missed a three, followed by two missed two fadeaway jumpers, then Gasol missed a turnaround jumpshot. It was as if Bynum’s absence declared the paint forbidden. The Lakers led by 10 points halfway through the fourth quarter and STILL couldn’t hold on to it, if not build on it, to win.

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It is March 20, 2012 and the (28-17) Los Angeles Lakers are in H-town to face the (24-22) Houston Rockets. The Lakers seek to bounce back from a terrible performance at home against Utah, losing 103-99. The Lakers came out flat with no energy, suffered through a bad shooting night by Kobe Bryant (3-for-20), had an amazing 27-turn over’s and allowed the Jazz to shoot 47-percent from the field.

The loss wasted Andrew Bynum’s 33-point, 11-rebound, 1-assist, 1-steal and 2-blocked shot’s performance. Andrew is dominating in the post, demanding an immediate double-team. Bynum has averaged 28-points and 15-rebounds in the last five games.

The Lakers will pick up Bynum’s $16.1 million option for next season. Sounds like the Lakers are set to present their 24-year old all-star center with a long-term contract. The Lakers have until June 30; Bynum will be a free agent after the 2012-2013 season ironically at the same time that Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard is set to become a free agent, again.

The Lakers offense has improved, but it is at the expense of the defense. The Lakers need to re-commit to defensive side of the game. L.A. has surrendered 100 points in three of their last four games. Mike Brown and staff is one that prides itself on defense and has definitely stressed the exact same message in team meetings, video sessions and practice.

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Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Lakers general manager, Mitch Kupchak, joined The Dan Patrick Show this morning to talk about the Lakers’ moves at the trading deadline, why he chose not to trade Pau Gasol and how good he feels Andrew Bynum is compared to Dwight Howard. Here’s transcript of the interview:

On how many calls he took before the deadline:

Well leading up to the deadline there’s probably a week of big time activity. This year was different because of the lockout, it was moved back a little bit because many of the general managers were at the (NCAA basketball) conference tournaments. So it was moved back a little bit. And it got pretty heavy starting on Sunday and running through the deadline on Thursday. Whether you’re active or not you know there’s lots of phone calls. This year in particular Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday morning were very busy for us. As you know we made 2 deals and we think we improved our team but it cost us a long time Laker in Derek Fisher and that’s an emotional thing to get over. I can’t tell you how thankful we are for what he’s done for us over the years.”

On how close he came to trading Pau Gasol:

Not very close in the last week or so, about 3 months ago? Really close…About 3 months ago the much public deal that was talked about and that was in place with the Chris Paul thing and New Orleans and did not take place. But since that period in December there have been lots of talks and I think that really got to Pau to deal with the rumors day in and day out. But the last week or so we made the decision based on phone calls and opportunities and what was presented to us to make the deals we did and to take this team through the summer and hopefully proceed and do well in the playoffs this year.”

How serious did talks with Orlando get for Dwight Howard?:

There were lots of talks for months. My sense was there was much more uncertainly months ago than there was last week. And I’m talking about Orlando, so I cant get into great detail but there wasn’t a lot of activity. Clearly in Orlando there was a lot of back and forth between the player, the agent and the team. I think it worked out the way it was supposed to work out.”

Why didn’t the Lakers acquire Michael Beasley:

We had discussions with a bunch of teams, I’m not gong to say that we didn’t talk about players with Minnesota. But I’m not going to get into which players we did talk about. Players don’t need to hear that and GM’s don’t need to hear that their players may or may not have been moved so I’m going to have to decline on that one.”

How tough was it on you after Kobe’s comments about not wanting to trade Pau Gasol:

In Los Angeles what [losing in the 2nd round of the playoffs] does is it kick into motion a chain of events which focuses on trying to improve the team and getting back to a championship caliber team and when that happens, all bets are off on all players. Kobe is the only player in the NBA that has a no trade clause in his contract so you’ll never see a rumor about the Lakers trying to trade Kobe, but all the other players, when you lose and particularly in Los Angeles, are in play. And we look to make the team better going forward, our fans expect a lot and the rumor mill is a part of it.”

Is Andrew Bynum as good as Dwight Howard:

To go into great detail would be hard to do, but a basketball person would look at them and say, one of them is better down with moves with either hand in the low post. Certainly one is a much better athlete in terms of running the floor. But they’re both in my opinion the 2 best centers in the NBA. Dwight had a much longer and larger body of work to choose from but were hoping our guy in a year or two will be able to sit down and say, ‘hey listen there’s a debate on them, which one is better right now.’ But Dwight’s had a much larger body of work for people to judge him on.”

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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.