Sunday, December 21, 2014
Blog Page 93

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Jeff Gross/Getty Images

It’s Thursday February 9, 2012 and the (14-11) Los Angeles Lakers have traveled to Boston to square off against the (14-10) Celtics in basketball’s best rivalry. Tonight’s match up is a historic rivalry renewed at the TD Banknorth Garden.

There is never a shortage of storylines when the Celtics and Lakers collide. These two storied franchises are synonymous with NBA history seeing as both franchises have combined to win more than half of all the NBA championships.

However, tonight’s contest does not seem to possess its normal buzz. The Celtics stumbled out of the starting gate posting a 5-9 mark, but have righted the ship; Boston has gone 10-2 since their slow start. Boston currently ranks as the best defensive team in the league allowing 86.5 points per game.

The Lakers split their last two season series (1-1) after sweeping the 2008-2009 series. The Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 regular season games in Boston, have won their last three straight at TD Banknorth Garden and are 5-1 in their last six meetings in Boston. The Celtics are playing their best basketball of the season and have put together a five-game winning streak.

The Lakers are close to a turnaround, but have not played a complete game and now have a 3-9 road record. The Lakers are looking to snap a two-game losing skid.  This game will be an emotionally charged event.

Although the Lakers have to keep their emotions in check, live in the moment, play smart basketball, get a solid contribution from everyone in a purple and gold jersey and execute. The Lakers have to do a better job of moving the basketball and moving bodies to avoid scoring draughts, like the one that occurred in the late game collapse in Philadelphia when the Lakers found a way to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

This is essentially a playoff game that will come down to half court execution and defensive stops. The Celtics will try to be physical with the Lakers and take them out of their offense and force the big players to be jump shooters. The Lakers front line Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol, have to be play big be physical, aggressive and attack the basket and finish whenever receiving the ball in the post.

The Lakers will once again see a zone defense and need to analyze it to decipher what type of zone it is, be patient, and get the ball to one of their big players to break the zone, but take the first open good percentage shot. The Lakers still have to get the ball inside and attack said zone and then crash the offensive boards. The Lakers need to treat every shot as a miss and collectively attack the boards.

The Lakers have to avoid the temptation of shooting jump shots and continue to move the ball to find a high percentage shot going to the basket. The Lakers have to run their offense through the post. Don’t be surprised to see Kobe Bryant in the post tonight. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol need multiple touches in the painted area to affect the outcome of this game.

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Getty Images | Doug Pensinger

The Lakers sure know how to set themselves up for a victory…and still lose in the end. It was Saturday against Utah all over again, with the visiting team keeping it close through three quarters and then failing to close it out in the fourth. The Lakers and Jazz were tied after the third quarter at 67 points a piece, then Utah went off for 29 points versus the Lakers’ 20 in the last 12 minutes. After the Lakers had beaten them twice this season, the Jazz finally exacted some revenge.

The same could be said for Philadelphia. Season after season of losing to the purple and gold on their own home court, the young, talented, energetic Sixers, led by inspiring coach, Doug Collins, exploited the Lakers’ inability to close games on the road and finally broke a losing streak that dates back through more a few seasons ago.

Tonight, with Coach Mike Brown suspended for making contact with an official in Saturday’s game, the Lakers were up by four points after a close first half, led by a spectacular Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately for the visiting team, spectacular from their leader only lasted the 19:53 minutes that he played in those first two quarters, because in the next 24 minutes (all of which Bryant played), he scored just four more points. Lucky the Lakers still had Andrew Bynum, who only had seven points in the first half then went off for 13 in the second. If not for him, this game wouldn’t have been as close as it was.

Bynum was huge factor in the 20 minutes he played in the second half. But after going into the final quarter down by just one, the Lakers took an 86-79 lead with just over four minutes to go, and couldn’t prevent the Sixers from going on a 16-4 run to win the game. 16-4 run! In the final four minutes of the game, the Lakers could only muster four points from two free throws from Bynum and one fadeaway from Bryant. Against an up and coming team like the Sixers, that just wasn’t good enough.

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Move Over, Shaq. Photo Credit: Kam Pashai

In a first half marked by a vintage Kobe Bryant performance, the Black Mamba has moved past Shaq and stands all alone at #5 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Congrats, Kobe!

 

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Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It’s Monday February 6, 2012 the (14-10) Los Angeles Lakers are on the third stop of their season-long six-game Grammy road trip in the city of brotherly love, Kobe Bryant’s hometown, for a meeting with the (17-7) 76ers. The Lakers fell apart and lost the second game of the road trip to the Utah Jazz.

Head coach Mike Brown is out for tonight’s game. Brown, tossed for arguing a non-call and bumping an official. The league suspended Brown for one game without pay and hit him with a $25,000 fine for making contact with an official and not leaving the court in a timely manner once ejected. A big question is how will his absence affect the outcome of tonight’s game?

The Lakers should be in good shape with a veteran coaching staff and veteran players. The Lakers also possess veteran leadership on the court with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Tonight’s game will be the only Lakers vs. 76ers match up this season after sweeping last year’s season series (2-0) for the second straight year.

The Lakers have won four straight games in Philadelphia. The purple and gold are only 4-6 in their last 10 games at the Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers lost two of their first three games this season, and then won 16 of their next 21 games. Tonight’s game appears to be a match up of size, age and experience versus youth, depth and athleticism.  Kobe Bryant is all business when he returns to Philly.

Bryant is 24 points away from passing Shaquille O’Neal to move into 5th place on the NBA all-time scoring list. Bryant has played 28 games (24 starts) against the 76ers and has averaged 22.6 points. The only other Laker averaging 20+ points is Pau Gasol who has posted on average 21.8 points in 18 games.

Do not be surprised to see Kobe Bryant score 24-points and pass Shaquille O’Neal by the middle of the second quarter. The 76ers are a young, athletic and very energetic team. A superstar player leads the majority of teams in the NBA; Andre Igoudala is the best player on the 76ers, but not considered a superstar.

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Lakers head coach, Mike Brown, has been fined $25,000 and has been suspended for the Lakers contest against the 76ers tonight in Philadelphia. According to NBA VP of Basketball of Operations, Stu Jackson, Brown has been fined and suspended for making contact with an official and failing to the leave the sideline in a timely manner after being ejected.

Brown was ejected in the 4th quarter of the Lakers’ 96-87 loss in Utah on Saturday night after disputing a no-call by an official after Pau Gasol was stripped of the basketball by Jazz guard, Devin Harris.

Brown acknowledged after the game that he should have handled things differently, but that point is moot. Lakers assistant, John Kuester is expected to replace Brown as the head coach of the team for today’s game.

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Earlier this season, we showed you the Nike Zoom Kobe VII Great White Shark colorway from Kobe’s “Predator Pack”. Here’s a look at the Kobe VII Wolf colorway that will also be released as part of the Predator Pack.

Appropriately, the Kobe VII Wolf colorway is based in Nike’s Wolf Grey coloring and accented in total orange, cool grey, black and white. Look for this colorway to hit stores March 1st.

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Photo: Getty Images

It’s Saturday February 4, 2012 and the (14-9) Los Angeles Lakers are in the 45th state to join the union to battle the hobbled (12-9) Utah Jazz in a back-to-back game. The Lakers kept their composure, relied on their defense and survived late game scares, the onslaught of the Nuggets potent bench to win a close hard fought game in Denver.

The Nuggets bench outscored the Lakers bench 46 to 21. However, the Lakers, led by all star’s Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum opened their six-game Grammy road trip with a win. Kobe’s shot was off, but Bryant still posted a 20-point, grabbed six rebounds, nine assist, and three steals effort.

Kobe Bryant, number six on the all-time NBA scoring list has scored 28,547 points in his Hall of Fame career. Bryant is averaging 29.5 points per game this season. At that rate he should surpass former Laker Shaquille O’Neal and move into the number five slot in his hometown of Philadelphia, the third stop of the Grammy trip.

Andrew Bynum was dominant, posting a solid 22-point, 10 rebound, three blocked shots effort and Pau Gasol posted a double-double as well and was also dominate on the boards grabbing a season-high 17-rebounds. The Lakers had five players score in double digits and Andrew Goudelock was impressive scoring 13 points off the bench.

Tonight’s match up against the depleted Jazz has ‘trap game’ written all over it. The Jazz are dealing with their starting backcourt and a key reserve guard out due to injuries. The Lakers have to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that the Jazz are a wounded opponent that they can easily defeat.

The Lakers lead the season series (2-0) after splitting last season’s 2-2. The split snapped four years worth of season series victories: 2006-07 (2-1), 2007-08 (3-1), 2008-09 (2-1) 2009-10 (3-1) for the purple and gold. The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 game against the Jazz. The Lakers have won their last two games at Energy Solutions Arena and have gone 5-5 in their last 10 regular season games in Utah. The Jazz are on a two-game losing streak despite scoring over 100-points in each contest.

The Lakers can acquire their second win of the Grammy trip by tightening the screws of their defense. The Lakers defense as a whole has been solid, but there is room for improvement. Despite starting two seven-footers, offensive rebounding seems to remain a problem.

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Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It’s Friday February 3, 2012 and the (13-9) Los Angeles Lakers are in Denver, Colorado tonight, the first stop on their 6-game Grammy road trip, to face the (15-7) Nuggets. The Denver Nuggets have the second-best record in the Western Conference. After beating the Clippers on Thursday night, the Nuggets are seeking a two-game sweep of Los Angeles.

If the playoffs started today, tonight’s game would be part of a first round series with the #2 seeded Nuggets facing the #7 seeded Lakers. The Nuggets and Lakers have split their first two games in this year’s season series with two meetings remaining.

The Lakers dropped last year’s season series (1-2) as well as the 2009-2010 season series (1-3) against the Nuggets, this marked the second time the Lakers have lost consecutive season series to the Nuggets (1977-78, 1978-1979). The Lakers are 4-6 in their last 10 regular season games against the Nuggets. The Lakers are 3-7 versus the Nuggets in their last 10 games at the Pepsi Center.

After dispatching the Charlotte Bobcats, the Lakers start the longest road trip of this short truncated season on a 2-game winning streak. Two also represents the number of road wins that the Lakers possess.

The aftermath of the Lakers win over the Bobcats produced both good and bad things. The good, six players scoring in double-digits, the bench scoring 48 points, three reserves scoring in double-digits, 12 of their 13 players recording a basket, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol playing under 30 minutes, improved shooting 55% from the field, 46% from behind the arc and 91% from the free throw line.

The bad, despite starting two seven-footers offensive rebounding is still a problem, turnovers, surrendering leads and scoring from the small forward position is still a group effort. This road trip could be a season defining trip for the Lakers. The extended road trip gives the team time to bond, more practice time to work on their execution and improve the rotations.

The Lakers did an excellent job at moving the ball and moving bodies on their two-game winning streak and the spacing was good. The Lakers defense will determine their success or failure this season. The offense is still a work in progress but improving daily. The Nuggets present the Lakers with several difficult challenges that L.A. appears prepared to handle.

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Photo by Jonathan Daniel | Getty Images

Remember when you said, “If Bynum could just stay healthy he would be an All-Star”.

All be it a 66-game condensed schedule, that time has come.

The Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, gets the nod at starting center for the Western Conference All-Stars with 1,051,945 votes.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, a four-time All-Star MVP (2002, 2007, 2009, and 2011), is the leading vote-getter in the Western Conference with 1,555,479 votes. Bryant ties Jerry West, Karl Malone, and Shaquille O’Neal for the most consecutive All-Star nods in NBA history with 14.

Here is how the starting rosters shape up:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Chris Paul – G
Kobe Bryant – G
Kevin Durant – F
Blake Griffin – F
Andrew Bynum – C

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Derrick Rose – G
Dwayne Wade – G
Carmelo Anthony – F
LeBron James – F
Dwight Howard – C

This marks the first time since 1997 (Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, and Seattle’s Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton) that two pair of teammates have been voted to start for one conference. (Bryant & Bynum, Paul & Griffin)

In selecting the reserves, the 30 NBA head coaches must vote for seven players within their conference, including two guards, two forwards, a center and two players regardless of position. Coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their team. After the coaches select the reserves, if a player is unable to participate in the All-Star Game, NBA Commissioner David Stern will select a replacement.

Reserves will be announced Feb. 9, on TNT.

Information gathered from NBA PR

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Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Anyone who has seen the 2011-12 edition of the Los Angeles Lakers knows that they are one of the more flawed basketball teams of the top 5 or 6 squads that have TRUE championship aspirations. Although their numbers have improved over the last week or so, the Lakers are still one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, and their offense as a whole leaves much to be desired, especially in the backcourt.

There have been multiple rumors floating around about the Lakers’ interest in veteran free agent guard, Gilbert Arenas as well Cleveland Cavaliers point guard, Ramon Sessions. But according to Marc Spears from Yahoo! Sports the Lakers may also be looking for more help in the frontcourt:

Kenyon Martin is expected to decide by this weekend which NBA team he’ll join, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks have expressed interest in signing the veteran forward. Martin has been working out in Los Angeles, where he owns a house…If the Lakers don’t sign Martin, they could have interest in adding Rasheed Wallace, who contacted the team several weeks ago, a league source said. Wallace retired after the 2009-10 season, but has told friends he’s interested in returning to the NBA.”

Martin signed a contract with Xinjiang Gyang Hui of the Chinese Basketball Association during the NBA lockout and per the terms of his signing, will not be eligible to play in the NBA until his clubs’ season ends (which could be as late as March if they qualify for the postseason), even though Martin has left the team and is currently living in Southern California. Martin would add a veteran defensive prescence off of the bench but would offer little value on the offensive end, despite his mildly-improved jumpshot. But his hustle, passion and toughness are all qualities that Lakers head coach Mike Brown would undoubtedly covet.

Wallace is a bit of a different story. Though he has not played in the NBA since the Celtics Game 7 loss to the Lakers in the NBA Finals in 2010, Wallace could at the very least provide the Lakers with another player who can stretch the defense from the 3 point line, as well as block shots and grab rebounds adequately. In his final season with the Celtics, Wallace averaged 9 points, 4 rebounds and just under a block per game in just over 22 minutes a night. How effective he would be at the age of 37 and after taking a year-plus off, would be the obvious sticking point to determining whether or not the Lakers take a serious look.

Neither Wallace or Martin would come close to solving all of the Lakers woes. But at this point in time the Lakers would be best served to explore any and all avenues to try to improve their roster.

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Getty Images | Harry How

Kobe Bryant sitting on the bench in the fourth quarter, wearing his warm-ups, a towel over his shoulders, and a giant smile – what a vision to behold. Playing just under 28 minutes in only the first three quarters, Bryant had every reason to showcase that grin. The Lakers had a huge lead in the final minutes of the game, and no heroics were necessary to close out the dreaded Charlotte Bobcats. What’s not to be happy about?

File this under “games the Lakers are supposed to win.” The Bobcats have the worst record in the league, and though the Lakers have a penchant for showing up listless against sub-500 squads, there is always that hope that they’ll actually play the way they’re supposed to play against bad teams. Tonight they actually did, and got some excellent production from players who have been anything but productive.

Kobe Bryant maybe have stolen the first half with his 24 points on 9-16, and Andrew Bynum may have collected his 11th double-double of the season, but it was the Laker bench who Coach Mike Brown trusted in the fourth quarter after the Lakers lost a 26-point lead in the third.

After shooting 59% for 60 first-half points, the Lakers came into the third quarter a little wayward, lazy and did everything they avoided doing in the first two quarters, like score efficiently. The Bobcats outscored them 22-13 in the third quarter and continued to knock down the huge lead until it was a mere 11 points. With just under 10 minutes left in the game, Mike Brown trusted his line-up of Andrew Goudelock, Jason Kapono, Matt Barnes, Troy Murphy and Andrew Bynum and he was rewarded.

The Laker reserves, with Bynum in the line-up, were privy to the task at hand – move the ball, exploit the dominant inside game of their talented center, and what the heck, hit some threes. And so they went in this merry way, with Bynum abusing the Bobcats in the paint, and the reserves hitting six consecutive shots from downtown. Suddenly that 11-point lead had ballooned to 28 with three minutes remaining, and they never looked back.

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Photo by Mike Ehrmann | Getty Images

The (12-9) Los Angeles Lakers in their final home game before their six-game Grammy road trip host the (3-18) Charlotte Bobcats. The Lakers got a double rarity in their 106-101 road win against the T-wolves, their 16th straight. The facts that the Lakers reached the century mark and recorded their second road win of the season. The Lakers big three of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol were the difference in the game and will have to be in every game.

The Lakers split the two-game season series with the Bobcats last year for the second consecutive year. These teams have met 14 times and the Lakers trail the all-time series 6-8. The Bobcats are one of only two teams in the NBA that the Lakers have a .500 or losing record against, the other sports a green and white jersey and resides in the state of Massachusetts.

The Bobcats are on an 8-game losing streak. The Bobcats have the worst record in the association and are one of four teams that have lost nine of their last 10 games (the others Hornets, Pistons & Knicks). This contest screams trap game for the purple and gold.

The question becomes will the purple and gold play like the Lakers or play down to their competition?

In 13 career games against Charlotte, Kobe Bryant is averaging 29.6 points per game, his highest career average against any team in the association. The Lakers need to come out with a high energy level, superior effort and play with a sense of urgency. The Lakers need to approach and mindset that this game as the most important game on the schedule.

The Lakers need a balanced effort offensively with a solid contribution from everyone in a gold jersey. The Lakers success is predicated on the defense and rebounding. The Lakers need to have a strong game defending the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, box out their men and own the offensive & defensive boards.

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Kobe and everyones favorite Spanish rookie, Ricky Rubio (pronounced: RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-bi-O), exchanged some friendly words trash talk following Sunday nights Lakers win over the Timberwolves. In the video, Rubio promises Kobe a silver medal for Team USA.

Kobe Bryant will be leading gold medal favorites, Team USA, in the 2012 Olympics in London. Rubio and Gasol will both be representing Spain.

As to be expected, minor language warning from Kobe. You’re welcome.

No word yet on if Ricky Rubio accepted a bet.

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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.