Monthly Archive for January, 2008

February Schedule Breakdown

February is all about the road for the Purple & Gold as 12 of their 15 games will be played on another team’s floor (one is against the Clippers so it’s essentially a home game, but will technically still be played on the other team’s floor and all the cutesy cheerleaders, drum lines, and super-fans looking to jump ship for a buck that comes with that).

The combined records of the Lakers opponents is a sparse 287-380 (as of games ending the night of January 30th), or 43%, with only six of those games coming against team’s with a winning record. Seven of the games are against team’s currently slated to make the playoffs.

After playing Detroit to finish out January, the Lakers travel across international boundaries to meet up with Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors (2/1). This will be the first meeting between the teams this season after each defended their home court last year. The Raptors started slow, but are 7-3 in their last 10 games and sit in fifth place in the East.

After taking Saturday off, the team gets back to action early on Super Bowl Sunday with a noon eastern start against the Wizards (2/3) in DC. Gilbert Arenas has missed the majority of the season, but the Wiz have continued to chug along behind Antawn Jamison and an all-star season for ex-Laker Caron Butler. “Tough Juice” has been hobbled of late and might not play in this one.

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Since We Saw Them Last: Pistons

The Pistons are riding a 3 game win streak after losing 4 of 5. They have been on the road for a majority of January (10 games away vs. 5 at home) and as a result have posted an 8-6 record for the month. While that represents a cooling off since the beginning of the season, they still sit comfortably in second in the Eastern Conference, 4 games behind Boston and 4 ahead of Orlando.

In their last game against Indiana, Rasheed torched the Pacers on the inside, taking advantage of Jermaine O’Neal’s absence. The Pacers played a solid game and Mike Dunleavy in particular, but the Pistons were able to take care of business in the end. In somewhat of an anomaly, the Pistons bench was effective, with all their players getting at least 10 minutes. However, on the whole, their bench has been less effective than hoped other than Jason Maxiell. Maxiell is a tough undersized power forward who’s battle with Ronny should be a treat.

Another regular battle when the Pistons and Lakers face each other is Tayshaun Prince guarding Kobe. Prince’s numbers are down from last season and there are rumors that his defense is a little less sturdy than in the past, but he has always frustrated Kobe with his length and made him work extra hard for each basket.

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Road Trip Injury Roundup

Here’s a quick look at every Lakers’ health status as the team heads to Detroit to start the longest road trip in team history.

In alphabetical order…

Trevor Ariza
Still recovering from fracturing the fourth metatarsal in his right foot after landing on teammate Derek Fisher’s foot in practice on January 20th. Expected to miss another 6-7 more weeks. Did not travel with the team.

Kwame Brown
As healthy as he’s going to be during the course of an 82-game season.

Kobe Bryant
As healthy as he’s going to be during the course of an 82-game season.

Andrew Bynum
Still recovering from a subluxation of the patella and a bone bruise of his left knee that he suffered in the January 13th game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Expected to miss approximately 6 more weeks. Did not travel with the team.

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Farmar Selected For Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam

For the second consecutive year, Lakers Guard Jordan Farmar will be apart of All-Star Weekend after being selected to compete in the 2008 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam.

Last year Jordan was a part of the rookie team that lost to Andrew Bynum and the sophomores.

Farmar’s numbers are up across the board from last year as he averages 9.8 points, 2.9 assists, & 2.4 rebounds per game. He is second on the Lakers shooting 40.6% from behind the arc, trailing only Derek Fisher.

Jordan is one of only five returning players from last year’s rookie team. Raptors Forward Andrea Bargnani, Memphis Forward Rudy Gay, Jazz Forward Paul Milsap, & Blazers Guard Brandon Roy are the others.

Balkman Earns One-Game Suspension

A day after Ronaldo Balkman “acted primitively” (as Sasha put it) when he threw a elbow across the bow of Lakers Guard Sasha Vujacic the NBA hit him with a one-game suspension and assessed a Flagrant Foul, Penalty Two.

Balkman, who was not given a technical or flagrant foul when the incident occurred at the 7:07 mark in the second period, will not be available for the Knicks game against the Jazz tonight.

Lakers vs. Knicks Post-Game

The Lakers escaped with a victory tonight, winning 120-109 after a late run that finally put away the threatening Knicks. The Lakers struggled with defense for most of the night, nearly embarking on their nine-game road trip with a loss before Sasha Vujacic and Lamar Odom bailed the team out with timely shots down the stretch.

“Well defense was a hope and a prayer for the first three quarters for us tonight, but we found a way to defend a little bit at the end of the game that made sense,” said Coach Jackson after the game.

Lakers forward Luke Walton, already in the middle of a slump, suffered another blow in the first quarter after leaving the game for good with a hip pointer. However, unlike some of the Lakers’ other recent injuries, Luke’s does not appear to be serious.

“It looks like Luke will be able to make the trip with us,” Jackson said. “We doctored him up and iced him down a little bit, so he’ll be able to go tomorrow but we don’t know about his probability to play on Thursday.”

With the Lakers down 100-91 with around six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the team got a spark on the defensive end from one of its most unlikely sources–Kwame Brown (10 points, 11 rebounds). Ronny Turiaf also provided a huge boost off the bench, scoring 14 points and pulling down nine rebounds.

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Walton Injured

Luke Walton suffered a hip pointer during the first quarter of play Tuesday night. The extent of the injury is not known, but it will keep him out for the remainder of the ball game.

Lakers vs. Knicks In-Game

Inactives for Tonight’s Game:
Knicks: Stephon Marbury, Jerome James, Randolph Morris
Lakers: Trevor Ariza, Andrew Bynum, Chris Mihm

1st Quarter:
10:43 Lamar Odom opens up tonight’s game much like the way he started against the Cavs on Sunday–with two aggressive moves that led to easy driving layups. Odom needs to keep his foot on the accelerator though for the full 48 minutes after he was virtually non-existent in the fourth quarter against Cleveland.

7:04 Kobe gets his first deuce of the night, weaving his way into the lane for an uncontested layup for a 10-9 Lakers lead. So far, it looks like Kobe the facilitator has come out looking for his teammates to open up the game.

5:19 Kwame throws down a dunk, giving the Lakers an 18-9 lead and a 10-0 run. Brown nearly became public enemy number one for Lakers fans a few plays ago after missing a wide-open dunk with the ball barely getting to the rim. Luckily, Brown retrieved the loose ball and scored a layup off the glass, temporarily absolving him.

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Lakers vs. Knicks Pre-Game

Before tonight’s game, Coach Jackson stressed not looking too far ahead into the future, both against the Knicks tonight and on the team’s impending nine-game road trip.

When asked about the importance of establishing momentum against New York tonight following three consecutive losses, Jackson said, “We hope to. New York’s really competitive. They came back in the second half of the game we played back at the Garden a month ago, showed some resolve to speak. They’ve played competitively the past couple of weeks.”

With the toughest part of the schedule looming, Jackson also said that certain players are not playing to the best of their abilities.

“Some guys are feeling the pinch of having to perform and not really going out there and playing hard, worried about making mistakes, worried about certain aspects of the game instead of just playing,” said Jackson.”

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Since We Saw Them Last: Knicks

Since the Lakers defeated the Knicks 95-90 Dec. 23 at Madison Square Garden, New York has gone 6-10, losing their last game two nights ago at Golden State by a basket, 106-104. However, prior to the loss, the Knicks had been playing extremely solid basketball, winning five of seven games, including victories over playoff-bound Washington and Detroit. Before the recent success, New York endured a 1-9 slide that still has the Knicks firmly planted in last place in the Atlantic Division.

In their last matchup, Kobe Bryant dominated New York, scoring 39 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in what is quickly becoming a tradition of playing well against the Knicks. In fact, Kobe is averaging 36.8 points against the Jamal Crawford and Co. in his last five games against them.

Knicks guard Nate Robinson has been on a tear of his own of late, scoring 22 points and dishing out eight assists in his latest game against the Warriors. In his last nine games, Robinson is averaging almost 16 points and over five assists a game. The Lakers should already be fully aware of the 5’9″ guard’s potential though after he scored 16 points and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds in the L.A.’s December win.

The Knicks are one of the most balanced teams in the league with six players averaging at least 9.5 points, led by Crawford’s 20. The Knicks will be without one of those six though tonight as the latest saga in the Stephon Marbury drama has him out with bone spurs in his left ankle.

Tonight’s game against the Lakers is the second of a five game road trip for the Knicks that will take them to Salt Lake City tomorrow night before moving on to Portland and Seattle. New York has lost a whopping ten straight road games to Western Conference teams so this trip may mark an end to their recent period of success.