Friday, November 28, 2014
Blog Page 92

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It’s February 17, 2012 and the (17-12) Los Angeles Lakers host the (12-18) Phoenix Suns at the Staples Center. The Lakers easily dispatched the Hawks on Valentine’s Day it is doubtful that the purple and gold will show the Suns any love.

Kobe Bryant has a strong aversion for the professional basketball team from Phoenix. Could it be the Kobe Bryant feeling slighted by Steve Nash winning two consecutive league MVP award’s knowing that at least one of those should have his name on it?

Could it be the Suns come from behind 4-3 series win in the 2005-2006 playoffs?

Kobe’s distaste for the Suns is so strong, at times, that it appears that the Suns are the one team in the league that Kobe wants to beat the most. This probably is not the news that the Suns wanted to hear knowing that tonight is the first of back-to-back games against ‘the black mamba’.

There are occasions where the real thing is just as impressive as the legend. The black mamba’s venom gets into its victim quickly and disperses quickly causing harm and death quicker than any other snake.

In the last meeting, the Lakers beat the Suns 99-83 led by Kobe Bryant’s NBA season-high 48 points, his highest scoring outburst in any game in which he did not knock down a three-point shot. In 54 career games against the Suns including 47 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 26.4 points. Kobe is averaging a league-best 28.7 points per game. Kobe Bryant is four rebounds shy of becoming the ninth guard in NBA history to record 6,000 rebounds.

The Lakers currently lead their season series 1-0, after winning last season’s series with the Suns 3- 1 for the fourth consecutive season. An interesting fact is that Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Derek Fisher were all first-round picks in the 1996 NBA Draft, and three of six players from that draft still playing. Lakers’ assistant coach Darvin Ham was an undrafted player from the same draft class.

The Laker nation will have another opportunity to watch former Laker Shannon Brown return to the Staples Center. The Lakers still have to deal with the issue of a lack of speed and athleticism defensively on the perimeter, which has led to huge numbers for several point guards this season. Steve Nash might be 38 years of age, but he is still an excellent point guard highly effective at being a floor general, getting his teammates involved and scoring when necessary.

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(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

As we move closer to the March 15th NBA trade deadline, expect more and more of these stories to surface. According to Chris Tommason from Fox Sports the Minnesota Timberwolves have expressed interest in trading for Lakers F Pau Gasol.

…a source said Wednesday that Minnesota continues to pursue a possible trade for Lakers forward Pau Gasol, dangling rookie Derrick Williams, who is from the Los Angeles area, and draft choices. The only players considered untouchable by the Timberwolves, who are seeking to add a veteran by the trade deadline, are Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.

Williams is a promising young prospect out of La Mirada high school in southern california and has shown flashes in limited minutes for the T-Wolves this season. But as our friend Kurt Helin from Pro Basketball Talk points out, this would be a move more in the vein of a team that is rebuilding, not one that sees itself as a championship contender.

For the Lakers to consummate any deal with the Timberwolves, one would have to assume that the talks would begin and end with Kevin Love, who just signed a contract extension to remain in Minnesota. Since the “source” tabbed Love as untouchable, I would categorize this rumor along with the 5,000 others that we will all hear about in the next month that nothing will ever come of.

Although, one thing to keep in mind is that with higher luxury tax penalties levied against teams significantly over the cap, one can’t discount the fact that Gasol is owed nearly $40 million over the next two seasons. So to think that the Lakers wouldn’t be interested in moving him for multiple players to add depth, and be more financially efficient with the roster would be a mistake as well. Of course the major caveat of that is, it has to be the right package of players, and something tells me Derrick Williams, a few mediocre throw-ins and a collection of draft picks wouldn’t come close to cutting it.

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(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Home, sweet home.

In their first game back from the Grammy road trip that produced a 3-3 record, the Lakers were more than happy to be dribbling across their team logo again – finally! Welcoming them back to Staples were the Atlanta Hawks, coached by former Laker Larry Drew. Like the Lakers, the Hawks have been sort of a mystery this season, despite their relatively solid 18-10 record. They’ve beaten elite teams like the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Portland Trailblazers, but they’ve also lost games to teams with losing records, like the Charlotte Bobcats and Phoenix Suns. Still, with the likes of Joe Johnson and Josh Smith leading the way, the Hawks are  a team to contend with, and the Lakers did just that tonight – contend with them.

Against this Atlanta team with a benchful of former purple and gold wearers (head coach Drew, assistant coach Nick Van Exel, Jenaro Pargo and Vladimir Radmanovic), the Lakers put in a concerted effort, led by their dominant big men and helped along by a slew of supportive teammates.

Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol were monsters again tonight, and the Atlanta Hawks had no one even close to stopping either Laker big. After Zaza Pachulia was failing miserably at checking Bynum, 16-year vet Erick Dampier came in soon after the game began, took over, but still couldn’t do much of anything to compete with the Lakers’ size – as should be the case in every game. Bynum and Gasol, against Pachulia and Josh Smith, were too big, too strong, and too skilled. On a night where Kobe Bryant shot just 5-18 from the field, five Lakers scored in double figures to get the team their 17th win of the season.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

It’s February 14, 2012, Valentine’s Day, the (16-12) Los Angeles Lakers are hosting the (18-10) Atlanta Hawks. The Lakers return home after an average Grammy road trip salvaging a split. The extended road trip left the Lakers with far more questions than answers.

The most disappointing event was watching the Lakers surrender an 18-point first half lead against the Raptors, forced to make a comeback to walk away with a much-needed win. The Lakers bench outscored 47-24 in Toronto and consistently outscored by their opponents.

The Lakers, outscored in the second half of three of their six games were a Pau Gasol block and a Kobe Bryant game winning shot away from 1-5 record on their Grammy road trip. The Lakers are a different team away as opposed to at home and the difference is their defense. Defensively the purple and gold allowing 85.2 points at Staples center, but that number increasing to 95.8 on the road.

The Hawks have been one of the surprises of the league so far this season posting 18-wins; however, the Lakers are 11-2 at home. The Hawks have feasted on sub.500 teams this season with 13-wins. The Hawks have dropped four of their last six games. Atlanta has the NBA’s best road defense, surrendering 89.3 points on 42% shooting from the field.

The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 games overall against the Hawks.  At the Staples Center, the Lakers are 9-3 all-time. The Hawks have lost five straight road games to the Lakers at the Staples center by an average of 17 points. Tonight is the first of a five-game road trip for Atlanta. There is a chance that former Laker Jannero Pargo will either start or play extended minutes.

The Lakers have to play better defense it is evident that a point guard with quickness and craftiness can have success against the purple and gold. The Lakers have to play solid against the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, defend, get back in transition, control the boards and quickly rotate out to open shooters.

The Lakers big three Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol continue to lead the team in scoring and are instrumental in the outcome of the game, but the purple and  gold need to have others step up and contribute on a consistent basis.

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Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

To say that Lakers forward, Metta World Peace, has struggled this season would be a gross understatement. He is currently averaging career lows in almost every statistical category, including field goal percentage, where he is shooting a dismal 32% from the floor.

World Peace was outspoken in an interview with CBS Sports a few days ago saying that Lakers head coach, Mike Brown focuses too much on stats while not placing much emphasis on intangibles.

According to at least one Lakers player, whatever intangibles that World Peace believes he brings to the team, do not overshadow his overall ineffectiveness on a night in and night out basis. According to Joe McDonnell of FoxSportsWest.com one Laker player (under the condition of anonymity) expressed team-wide frustration with World Peace, and believes that many on the roster wouldn’t mind seeing the 14-year veteran leave:

“There are a lot of guys in here who’d just like to see him gone…I think we’d definitely be a better team if everyone didn’t have to walk on eggshells when he’s around.”

For all of his quirkiness and off the wall antics, World Peace has almost always carried public perception that he was well liked by many, if not all, of his teammates no matter where he played. However the mounting frustration with how the Lakers are performing, specifically on the offensive end of the floor, has possibly brought the players’ season-long frustrations to a head. World Peace can talk all he wants about intangibles and playing solid defense down the stretch of games, but one has to wonder if he is trying to convince Mike Brown and his teammates that he is truly being productive, or if he is simply trying to convince himself.

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Sam Greenwood | Getty Images

According to multiple sources, free-agent guard Gilbert Arenas conducted a workout in the Los Angeles area Sunday that was attended by Lakers officials.

Arenas, the oft-controversial guard once involved in a gun-toting gambling dispute in an NBA locker room, is looking to make his return to the NBA following his release from the Orlando Magic following their use of the amnesty clause. From ESPN Los Angeles:

Arenas, who turned 30 last month, looked “slimmed down” and “explosive,” according to a source with knowledge of the workout, but no signing is necessarily imminent as the guard flew back to his home in Orlando, Fla., from Los Angeles on Sunday night.

Arenas has been practicing and playing himself into shape since having a blood-spinning treatment performed on both knees and Arenas’ hip, the same procedure that the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant had during his offseason that has rejuvenated the Laker icon to lead the league in scoring.  With three surgeries on his left knee since 2006, Arenas had the procedure done on his hips as a preemptive measure that is often used on athletes that have a history of knee problems.

Arenas, who has been working out in Orlando since being cut by the Magic on Dec. 9 when they used their amnesty clause on the 30-year-old, would only be offered the veteran minimum of $1.4 million by the Lakers. Though, because of

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Chris Chambers | Getty Images Sport

Just when it seems like the Lakers are falling out of the spotlight, what with Jeremy Lin torching the Lakers for 38 points and with the possibility of the Lakers finishing their Grammy road trip with sub-.500 results, Kobe Bryant pushed the Lakers right back into the spotlight.

With the Toronto Raptors playing without star player Andrea Bargnani due to injury, the Lakers’ primary goal was to emerge from their six-game road trip with a 3-3 record after an inconsistent stretch that saw the Lakers beating Boston at the TD Garden in overtime, but losing to the New York Knicks playing without Amare Stoudemire or Carmelo Anthony the following night.

Despite an early surge in an equally early game (10AM start time??) that saw the Lakers dominating the first quarter, the Lakers would watch their 15-point lead slowly fade away across three quarters before falling back on Kobe Bryant’s bailout fallaway with 4.2 seconds remaining to take a 93-92 lead. When Raptor forward Rasual Butler would be called for a five-second inbounding violation, Bryant’s one of two free throws would push the Laker lead to 94-92, as a late airball from DeMar DeRozan would secure the victory for the Lakers.

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(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

It’s February 12, 2012 and the (15-12) Los Angeles Lakers are in the provincial capital of Ontario and Canada’s largest city Toronto, and in their only appearance at the Air Canada Centre to face the (9-19) Raptors.

The Lakers will not have time to visit the CN Tower the world’s tallest freestanding structure or Toronto’s majestic castle, Casa Loma. This is still a business trip: the purple and gold have an opportunity to earn a much-needed win and finish off their extended road trip with a .500 record.

There are no excuses; the Knicks beat the Lakers and snapped their nine-game losing streak leading to many raised eyebrows, although it was evident that the emotional overtime win over the Celtics took something out of the Lakers. Today’s game will be the Lakers sixth in nine and a half days and an early start has never been advantageous for the purple and gold.

L.A. faces another young team with a solid point guard that wants to get out in transition and run. Jose Calderon is a talented point guard who had a 17-point 14-assist game in the win over the Celtics. The Raptors have two L.A. area natives on their roster in starting shooting guard and former USC Trojan DeMar DeRozen their leading scorer who put up 21-points against Boston and Westchester high school alumnus Amir Johnson. The Lakers have to get off to a fast start and play with energy, focus, intensity and with a sense of urgency.

The Lakers need to establish Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant in the post. It would behoove the Lakers to start their offense on the inside and provide Bynum & Gasol 35+ shot attempts. The Lakers are settling for entirely too many jump shots and not getting the ball into their big players. The Lakers have to do a better job of moving the basketball and moving bodies to find a high percentage shot.

If the Lakers returned to running the triangle offense, their offensive production would increase. The core of the team is still familiar with the offense that has produced multiple championships.

The Lakers seem to play better defense at Staples Center than on the road. To come away with a win the Lakers have to communicate on defense, do a solid job of defending the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, get back in transition, win the rebounding battle and quickly rotate out to open shooters.

The Lakers bench has to become a factor and contribute. The return of Steve Blake should increase the bench production. L.A. has to have more production out of Metta World Peace, Derek Fisher and all of the small forwards. The Lakers need to get back to developing their younger players.

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Photo by Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

There have been multiple rumors over the last couple of weeks concerning potential free agents the Lakers can bring in to improve their roster, and more specifically, their bench production. If it were up to Kobe Bryant, that help would come by way of 3-time all-star guard, Gilbert Arenas. According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the Lakers star guard has endorsed the signing of Arenas:

Not only do the Lakers intend to take a look at Gilbert Arenas whenever he holds a workout in his attempt to reignite his career, the team also has Bryant’s blessing to sign him, two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com. Perhaps just as important, Arenas, 30, has Bryant’s personal stamp of approval. Bryant reached out to Arenas recently through an intermediary to let him know he’s on board with Arenas joining the Lakers. Bryant has reached out to other players this way, most notably Metta World Peace — back when his name was Ron Artest and the Lakers signed him in 2009.

There have been conflicting reports that say that Arenas has already held a personal workout with the Lakers in Los Angeles in addition to an open workout for all interested teams in LA.  The Lakers currently rank dead last in the NBA in bench scoring and the addition of Arenas would be a low risk/high reward move that would give them a proven scorer to anchor the 2nd unit. If they sign Arenas and he pans out, the Lakers might have a shot of getting back into the title race, if he doesnt pan out, he’ll only be in LA for one year on a prorated league minimum salary.

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(Photo: Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

The Lakers led 2-0, then 4-3 to start the game. Then they fell behind by as many as 14 and then scraped their way back up to get within 3 in the fourth quarter. That’s as close as they got after then giving up six straight points to the Knicks en route to another loss on the road. So much for a 4-2 trip.

For all that Kobe Bryant tried to do last night in saying he didn’t know who Jeremy Lin was, or what “Linsanity” meant, he knows full well now. It may have only been a week since the Harvard alum started catching New York’s – heck, the NBA’s attention, but based on this small sample of play, the Knicks appear to have been revived by the unlikeliest of characters. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire would do well to get behind this kid when they get back on the floor, because unlike them, Lin has been able to do something to the Knicks that they haven’t been able to do since they arrived late last season – lead.

There would be no 61-point games for Bryant. No epic comebacks for the Lakers who have beaten this Knicks team in nine previous contests. None of those shenanigans would rock Madison Square Garden tonight, not on Lin’s watch, and certainly not when the Lakers left their momentum from a hard-fought game against the Celtics back in Boston. There was no sign of that team tonight. No movement in their offense, no grit in their defense. They arrived in the Big Apple at 3 am and they played like it, which is absolutely no excuse for a poor effort but it was what it was and they paid for it with yet another loss.

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(Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

It’s February 10, 2012 and the (15-11) Los Angeles Lakers are ready to take a bite out of the big apple in a back-to-back game against the (11-15) New York Knicks. The Lakers were able to outlast the Celtics in Boston, force them to deal with rejection, put an end to their five-game winning streak and snap their own two-game losing skid.

The Lakers big three of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol came up huge combining for 68 points and 36 rebounds. The Lakers defense was solid and the game possessed playoff intensity. The Celtics went to the free throw line five times in the first half and did not get back to the line the remainder of the game.

A poor shooting performance, eight bench players combining for 18-points was not enough to stop the Lakers from wrestling away their fourth straight win in bean town. After notching their fourth road win of the season, taking the 187-mile flight to New York City the purple and gold will face a depleted Knicks team.

The Lakers lead the current season series (1-0 after a 99-82 win on 12/29/11), after sweeping last season’s series (2-0) for the fourth consecutive year. The Lakers have gone 9-1 against the Knicks in their last 10 games. The Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 games at Madison Square Garden. In 29 games, (25 starts), Kobe Bryant has averaged 26.6 points per game against the Knicks. Kobe Bryant set the Madison Square Garden scoring record with a 61-point performance on 2/2/2009. The Knicks are riding a three-game winning streak.

Jeremy Lin has been a catalyst for the Knicks win streak and some have even asked the question has Jeremy Lin saved Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni? The fact of the matter is that D’Antoni’s offense designed to flourish with solid point guard play an entity that the Knicks have not had consistently. It is nice to see an undrafted player from Harvard who went to the D-league, spent a summer in Dallas had a cup of coffee in Houston & Oakland do well; It is what dreams are made of.

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Getty Images | Stephen Dunn

The Lakers and the Celtics may be rivals. They may hate each other for as long as the NBA has existed, to eons into the future. This season, however, they have more in common than any two adversaries in the league could be. Their records are almost identical, with the Lakers at 15-11 and the Celtics with14-11. They both dominate the league in unsexier categories like points allowed (Boston in first and the Lakers in 4th) instead of blowing up the box score with explosive offense. They are both constantly written off for being too old and too slow against the new forefront of younger, more exciting teams like the Thunder, Clippers and Bulls. But the one thing that sets these two teams apart the most from the younger packs is their ability to make even a sub-40% shooting night into a nail-biting, hair-pulling thriller of a game merely due to the colors of their jerseys.

The longer the clock ran at TD North, the uglier the game got. And the uglier the game got, the harder the two teams worked. Boy did they both work…and work…until the literal last nanosecond of the entire game. And in that last nanosecond, Pau Gasol blocked the living daylights out of Ray Allen’s attempt to hit the winning shot, and the Lakers recorded their fourth regular season win in a row in Beantown.

There were nine lead changes and nine ties in 53 minutes of game time. The largest lead was Boston’s nine-point advantage in the first half, and the highest shooting percentage for either team was the Celtics’ 48% in the first quarter. None of it mattered, however, because Boston, as excellent defensively as they are, cannot compete with the Lakers’ 14-foot tandem. They tried taking Kobe Bryant out of commission, doubling him in the first half, sometimes with the ball still en route to his hands, but it only left Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum open to do their own damage, and damage they wreaked on Boston’s front court. Kobe Bryant may have scored the most, but make no mistake – this game in Boston was won on the shoulders of the Laker big men.

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(Photo: Ezra O. Shaw/Allsport)

The Big Fella is about to get some big recognition.

On the heels of Shaquille O’Neal’s retirement last season, the Lakers had announced that the team would in fact raise the #34 jersey… at some point. We now have a better idea of when that will take place.

NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper reports that the team will retire Shaq’s number next season (2012-2013).

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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.