The (9-5) Los Angeles Lakers host the (8-5) defending champion Dallas Mavericks. The NBA is celebrating MLK day with 11 games on the schedule one of which is the Western Conference Semi-Final re-match between the Mavericks and the Lakers. Tonight’s game is one of those games that the Lakers have had circled on their calendars’ for a long time.
It is hard to remove the images of how last season ended for the Laker Nation. An interesting question is what type of rebounding effort will the purple and gold put on display. The Lakers are looking to bounce back from their third loss to the Clippers and get back on the winning track. However, despite two different opponents once again the rebounding effort remains a topic of conversation.
Kobe Bryant posted his fourth straight 40-point performance in the loss. Kobe Bryant, once again, named the Western Conference Player of the week after leading L.A. to a 3-1 record as well as scoring 40-points per game.
For the Lakers to win tonight and exact some revenge against the Mavericks, they will need a team effort with all hands on deck. The Lakers success begins and ends with their defense. Lamar Odom returns tonight after an emotional and event filled off-season. The Lakers need to make the adjustments tonight against the Mavericks that they failed to make in the post season.
A few of the adjustments are more dominance from the Lakers front line, more shots for Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol. Coming out of the series against the Mavericks the biggest takeaway was the lack of an impact by Pau Gasol. Pau Gasol has to be present and accounted for, play big and be aggressive. Pau Gasol was timid, lethargic and almost non-existent in the post season.
Due to new additions and a lack of familiarity, the Mavericks started slowly, but have started to play good basketball. Dallas is a balanced scoring team with several weapons. The Mavericks are an excellent passing team that will challenge your defensive rotations.
9.9 seconds left in the game and the score is tied. Derek Fisher inbounds the ball to Kobe Bryant, who dribbles at the top of the key and is immediately doubled by Shawn Marion and Jason Terry. With one swift motion, Bryant swings a pass to Fisher and starts walking backwards slowly, so familiar with the results of the next few seconds that he knows there is nothing more that he needs to do. And Fisher, as easily as he received the pass, so too released the ball, leaving an invisible, not to mention invincible arc that more often than not has ended in the other team’s heartbreak. Swish.
Fisher walked to mid-court and pumped his hand towards the ground, his left hand holding up three fingers as he did. As teammates came to congratulate him on his way to the bench, Bryant looked over to his long-time confidante and couldn’t help but smile, with a look that clearly said, “just like old times.” In the Mavericks timeout huddle, the camera closed in on the face of former Laker Lamar Odom, who looked like he was trying to hold in a smirk, glancing across the court at the other bench where he had so often embraced Fisher after plays like that. Teams and circumstances had changed for Odom, but one thing clearly did not, and that is his love for his former teammates.
After Vince Carter missed a three-point attempt to become the Mavericks’ hero, the Lakers won 73-70 and reveled in their resident conqueror; their old faithful; their Fisher of the big-time pressure moments. After a terrible shooting night for both teams, it was a welcome end to an unexpectedly ugly game between the last two NBA Champions.
In the last four games, Kobe Bryant is playing at a level comparable to the 2005-06 season when he averaged 35.4 points per game, and won the scoring title.
The Lakers have gone 3-1 in the last four games. Kobe has scored: 48,40,42, and 42 respectively.
According to ESPN’s Ric Bucher his recent scoring splurge has a little to do with recruiting Dwight Howard:
What I’ve heard is [Kobe Bryant] and Dwight Howard at one point were texting back and fourth about how much they would love to play together, and how exciting that would be.”
“And then it came back around to Kobe that Dwight was having questions about just how much Kobe has left in the tank. And certainly the wrist injury did not help, it looked like a very old guy out there.”
“What I have been told is this is Kobe’s way of saying, ‘Hey, young fella, you think I don’t have anything left in the tank? Let me show you just how much I have left in the tank.'”
The Lakers travel to Orlando to take on Dwight Howard and the Magic on Friday at 5:00pm.
All of us knew to whom this game meant more. The Clippers knew. The Lakers knew…but couldn’t they at least have faked it?! Most of the effort on the floor tonight was oozing out of the players in red, white and blue. The energy, the determination, the willingness to play the right way, was mostly all Clippers, and maybe there’s a simple explanation.
On the second night of a back-to-back, and their fourth game in five days, the Lakers looked lazy, tired and, frankly, almost apathetic in some moments. The Clippers, meanwhile, had two days off, looked fresh, ready and excited to be in this position – playing a game that actually mattered, that people were actually excited to see; a game against the Lakers where people didn’t expect them to lose. And they didn’t lose for all the reasons just listed. No third quarter surge from Kobe Bryant could defeat them. No stat rating that has them dead last in rebounding. This Clipper team was determined to follow their win against Miami with a win against the Lakers, and the Lakers were probably determined to just keep any more players from making it to the injury list.
HIGH POINTS Turnovers – Just 11 for the game, which is a big deal. Considering how often the Lakers have been giving up the ball, 11 is a good number, especially when they had 24 assists on 35 made field goals. Lakers’ Third Quarter – At halftime, the Lakers were behind by 13, and at the end of the third, they were behind by just four points, thanks to Kobe Bryant’s 21 on 6-10 from the field. Bryant went just 3-12 for 11 points in the first half, flanked by white uniforms each time he had the ball in his hands. But he managed to get around or through the Clipper defense and led a surge that cut significantly into the lead. Bryant finished with another, 40+ game with 42 points on 14-28, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.
Also, after shooting just 37% in the first half, the Lakers managed to shoot 56% in the third quarter and allowed the Clippers just 39% shooting for their 21 points. Chris Paul, who played the entire 12 minutes, shot only 3-7 and handed out just a single assist. Whatever Derek Fisher and Darius Morris did to “contain” him, even just a little, it worked. And speaking of Morris…
The (9-4) Los Angeles Lakers are on the road, technically, (in their own building) to face the (5-3) Los Angeles Clippers. Thanks to David Stern, the Clippers have vastly improved although all of those naysayers that prematurely buried the Lakers have to re-evaluate those thoughts.
Chris Paul was supposed to join Kobe Bryant and help the Lakers win their third championship in four years. David Stern and the league office had other ideas and with one bizarre decision added new life to the Staples Center hallway series.
Mike Brown and the Lakers are on a five-game winning streak after beating his former team the Cavaliers. Dan Gilbert owner of the Cavaliers fired Brown after five successful seasons in Cleveland although Brown has moved on and harbors no hard feelings. The Lakers led by Kobe Bryant’s third straight 40-point game. It was the first time since 2007 that has occurred
Bryant produced his 110th 40-point game of his career placing him 3rd in NBA history, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant has been on fire, scoring at least 30-points in seven of his last eight games. Derek Fisher posted a 10-assist game, getting double-digit assists for the 15th time in his 16th season.
Lakers point guard, Steve Blake, will be out of action for 3-4 weeks according to a tweet from the team’s official twitter account.
After further evaluation Steve Blake will be out approximately 3-4 weeks due to the costochaondral fracture he suffered against PHX.”
Blake has been much improved this year off of the bench for the Purple and Gold, averaging 7.1 points and 2.8 assists in 24 minutes per game. After starting point guard, Derek Fisher, the other options the Lakers have at the point guard position are rookies Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock, who both saw minutes in the win against Cleveland on Friday night.
Where do you go from the top? You go over the top.
In this latest spot from Nike, Kobe Bryant guides the successful to becoming ultra successful. Whatever the artist equivalent is to dropping 40 points on three consecutive games, Kanye West wants to do that.
Check out the Zoom Kobe VII Year of the Dragon colorway that released in China this week. Kobe supposedly appreciates Chinese culture, in particular Chinese Kung Fu. Drawing inspiration from Kobe’s Italian roots and Kung Fu movies filmed in that country, the design team rendered the Kobe VII Year of the Dragon with the signature three colors of Italy.
What do you think about this Kobe VII Year of the Dragon Colorway?
The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers were in town, the Lakers beat them (to a pulp) by 55 points. Tonight, the Lakers decided (consciously, subconsciously – who can tell?) to make the game more challenging, so they played a nearly flawless first half, and then played a flaw-filled second half…until it was time to actually win the game.
After such a successful first half, with excellent ball movement, efficient scoring and just all out activity, the Lakers walked into the third quarter with an 18-point lead and not much else. The ball stopped moving, the offense stalled, the defense was lackadaisical, and the home team found themselves up by just eight points after three quarters.
Yes, Kobe Bryant had another monster 40-plus game – which is incredible! But tonight, he may not have needed it. After a bad shooting night in Utah two days ago, Gasol and Bynum’s offense was humming in the first half tonight and it’s a shame they didn’t get the ball into their hands quite as much as they should have in the second half. Nevertheless, the Lakers eked out their ninth victory, fifth win in a row, despite dealing with a variety of injuries to some important players.
HIGH POINTS First Half (everything) – As far as their offense went, the Lakers shot 78% in the first quarter and 65% for the first half. Kobe Bryant already had 24 points on an excellent 9-13 from the field. Pau Gasol’s jumper was falling and it was nothing but net each time. Andrew Bynum, despite what appeared to be turning his ankle in the first quarter (gasp!) was fine to finish the game. He was 6-6 from the field for his 12 points, completely taking advantage of Anderson Varejao. And the huge reason for all this efficiency?…
The (8-4) Los Angeles Lakers put their 4-game winning streak on the line tonight against the (5-5) Cleveland Cavaliers. The Lakers got their first road win of the season in overtime in Utah, behind another 40-point performance by Kobe Bryant and their big three coming through in the clutch.
Los Angeles native and former Pepperdine standout Mychel Thompson returns to Los Angeles as a Cleveland Cavalier. The Lakers split the two-game season series with the Cavaliers last year, after losing the 2009-2010 season series. In the last 10 meeting’s the Lakers have a 3-7 record against the Cavaliers.
The good news is the Lakers are 9-3 all-time against the Cavaliers at the Staples Center. In the interest of keeping, the good news coming Cavaliers head coach and former Laker, Byron Scott, will be back home in front of Laker Nation. It has been 15 years since the L.A. native donned the purple and gold.
Before the much-ballyhooed event, spoken of as ‘the decision’, Cavaliers vs. Lakers was once a marquee NBA match-up now these teams are like “ships that pass in the night” in short moving in different directions. Fortunately, for the Lakers and the rest of the association Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was asleep at the wheel and chose not to see the entire draft picture clearly.
The Cavaliers possessed the first and fourth overall picks in the 2011 NBA Draft and the ability to select two franchise players, chose not to read the draft board correctly and selected PG Kyrie Irving and PF/SF Tristan Thompson. Both could turn out to be solid pro players. However, if the decision was to acquire a versatile front line player and a point guard to lead the offense.
It goes by quickly, those five minutes of overtime. After 48 minutes of back and forth, the Jazz and the Lakers needed just a few more minutes to award a victor. It opened with Pau Gasol getting stripped on two possessions in a row and the Utah Jazz taking a four-point lead. The Laker big men were having a tough shooting night, and the fatigue of playing the second night of a back-to-back was obvious in the lack of speed and energy with which they played in regulation. In overtime, however, they made up for it with some key plays.
Kobe Bryant hit a three after giving up two baskets to Pau Millsap. That was answered on the other end by Josh Howard, giving the Jazz a four-point lead, with almost half of overtime gone. And then Andrew Bynum and Gasol finally came to. With the shot clock running and Bryant surrounded, he passed to Gasol waiting in the corner.
“Give it to me, please. One time, just hit me,” is what Gasol said he was thinking. Upon receiving the opportunity, he scored a corner three, the ball hitting nothing but net. Following that was Bynum tipping in Bryant’s missed jumper. And then everything seemed to happen in fast-forward.
With just seconds left in overtime and the Lakers leading by a single point, Gordon Hayward drove into the lane, the eyes of Bynum following the ball into the hands of Al Jefferson. Jefferson rose up with a chance to hit the game winning shot and who should he run into but the long arm of Bynum blocking his chance to be the game’s hero. The blocked ball landed into the hands of Kobe Bryant, and Bynum landed into the congratulatory arms of Pau Gasol and Matt Barnes. With 0.7 seconds left in overtime, Paul Millsap inbounded to Devin Harris, who turned around to shoot a long three when he was blocked by Bryant’s good hand, giving the Lakers their first road win.
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.