Things You Already Know:
After receiving word that future franchise center Greg Oden was out for the season with a knee injury, many expected the youthful Blazers squad to sink to the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Instead, Portland has rallied to become one of the league’s biggest surprises, knocking down a shocking 13 straight wins at one point earlier this season and leading the Northwest Division for much of the season’s first half.
Brandon Roy has emerged as the on and off the court leader for the Blazers this season, following up on his impressive Rookie-of-the-Year campaign with a stellar first half of the season that earned him first All-Star Game selection. After 56 games, Roy is averaging a team-high 19 points to go along with five rebounds.
Things You Might Not Know:
Roy is hardly the only Trailblazer to be having a breakout season though as teammate LaMarcus Aldridge has also blown up this year, averaging nearly 17 points and seven rebounds per game. The balanced Blazers attack also gets strong contributions from Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, Jarrett Jack and Steve Blake.
Continue reading ‘Things To Know: Trailblazers’
Every Monday the Lakers.com BasketBlog checks the net to bring you the latest NBA power rankings (except last week where the holiday and all-star weekend derailed us).
This Week: 1 | Last Week: 7 | Diff: +6
With Pau Gasol fitting in perfectly and Kobe Bryant seemingly unaffected by his mangled pinky, I’m not sure this team isn’t the favorite to win the title even without Andrew Bynum. And with Bynum’s rehab coming along, it would be very difficult for anyone to pick against the Lakers right now.
This Week: 1 | Last Week: 5 | Diff: +4
If our new BFFs from The Onion thought it was gutsy a few weeks back when we moved the Lakers from No. 4 to No. 3, what will they say when they see our mea culpa promotion of Kobe and Co. from No. 5 to No. 1?
This Week: 3 | Last Week: 5 | Diff: +2
Gee, Kobe Bryant’s pinkie sure had a miraculous recovery, didn’t it? The Lakers’ star pumped in 21 points in 26 minutes Sunday as they won at Seattle to make it eight straight. He also had 41 to slay the Suns last Wednesday.
Average Ranking: 1.66 | Last Week: 5.66 | Diff: +4
Thanks to Kevin Pelton of Supersonics.com for the Post-Game Notes
L.A. Lakers 111 (39-17), Sonics 91 (15-40)
February 24, 2008
The Lakers won their eighth straight game, their longest winning streak since March 13-April 12, 2004 (11).
Los Angeles has won seven straight road games for the first time since March 15-April 5, 2000.
With their win and Phoenix’s loss, the Lakers have sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.
The Lakers defeated the Sonics head-to-head for the fifth straight time.
Mickaël Gelabale scored a career-high 21 points. Gelabale has scored double-figures two straight games after doing it just once before this stretch.
Kobe Bryant posted 21 points and 10 assists before being ejected at the four-minute mark of the third quarter. Bryant recorded his 11th double-double of the season and fourth of the point-assist variety.
Lamar Odom (19 points, 11 rebounds) had his 25th double-double. Odom’s three blocks tied his season high (previously Jan. 9 at New Orleans).
Pau Gasol (22 points) led the Lakers in scoring for the third time.
The Lakers did not commit a foul during the first quarter.
Los Angeles improved to 9-1 with Gasol, with a differential of +13.3 points per game over that span.
KeyArena was sold out for the third time this season.
Since the Lakers defeated the Sonics in an early-season November battle, little has changed in Seattle from a wins and losses standpoint. The franchise is still in flux and the Sonics’ roster is still lunch meat for almost every team in the Western Conference. At 14-38, the Sonics have the third worst record in the conference.
However, in their last meeting in Seattle, the Sonics nearly shocked the Lakers, losing by a single basket 121-123 after yet another clutch shot by Kobe. In that game, Durant got his usual 19 points, but Nick Collison torched L.A. for 24 points and 18 rebounds. Kurt Thomas and Wally Szczerbiak also scored 16 and 18 points a piece.
The aforementioned Kevin Durant has continued his excellent rookie season, averaging 19 points to lead all rookies in scoring. Chris Wilcox has emerged as arguably the second most important player on Seattle’s roster, contributing 13 points and over seven rebounds per game. Nick Collison’s nine points and nine rebounds also help anchor the Sonics’ front line.
The Sonics were one of the most active players as the NBA trade deadline approached this week, sending Kurt Thomas to San Antonio and Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak to the Eastern Conference for little in exchange other than cap relief.
While the Sonics’ roster is nothing to brag home about—especially after their recent string of trades—they have already shown the potential to play a major role in the Western Conference playoff race as the season winds down, as evidenced by their stunning back-to-back upsets of defending champion San Antonio and the Cleveland Cavaliers in back-to-back games in January.
Things You Already Know:
The Clippers have one of the NBA’s worst records at just 18-33, that is fourth to last in the Western Conference standings. In their defense, they have been without injured forward and franchise player Elton Brand all season due to injury, leaving a shell of the team that came within one game of reaching the Western Conference Finals two years ago.
The inner-city rivals split their two matchups last season, with each team taking a game on each other’s “home court.” In their last meeting, a 118-110 Clippers’ victory on the Lakers’ court, Kobe went off for 50 points, but only two other teammates reached double figures in scoring.
Things You Might Not Know:
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week, the aforementioned Brand participated in non-contact drills this week and reiterated his plans to return to the court this season even if it would be too little, too late for the Clippers’ playoff hopes.
Continue reading ‘Things To Know: Clippers’
The Suns made one of the biggest splashes in the trade market so far this, trading for Miami Heat center and former Laker Shaquille O’Neal two weeks ago. For years, Phoenix has been the prototype for fast-break basketball, a facet of their game that will almost certainly be diminished somewhat by the slower O’Neal.
However, what O’Neal lacks in speed, he makes up for with his enormous presence in the lane. With Shaq and incumbent Amare Stoudemire clogging the middle, teams will no longer be able to drive to the lane at will against the Suns. Moreover, ONeal brings some much-needed championship savvy to the Phoenix roster.
While Phoenix did not exactly need to make a move as they have won 10 of 14 games since they last played the Lakers, O’Neal’s experience will be crucial against L.A. and the Suns’ other Western Conference rivals. Phoenix has continued to struggle against the conference’s better teams, evident by their losses to San Antonio ad New Orleans in recent weeks.
Coming into tonights contest, the Lakers are only one game behind Phoenix in the standings after winning five consecutive games and six of seven since Pau Gasols arrival in L.A. In many ways, the Lakers and Suns will likely have to feel each other out as both teams will be facing off with their new rosters for the first time.
While there are certainly several subplots dominating pre-game talk, the most important result from tonight is the one that could matter most at the end of the season should Phoenix and L.A. end up tied: head to head record. Even though the Lakers lost the last time out against the Suns in mid-January, they still have a chance to take the season series tonight.
The Lakers decimated the Hawks 122-93 in Pau Gasol’s STAPLES Center debut, building an insurmountable 41 point lead at one point during the first half.
“Well we got off to a good start and kept it going the first three quarters, the fourth quarter too probably, but they were just real aggressive tonight, created turnovers, and shot the ball well,” said Coach Phil Jackson. “Not much else to say about that game.”
“We’re playing great,” said Lamar Odom. “We can get better; we could have played better in that third quarter Right now we are confident and we expect to win every game.”
Jackson praised the Lakers’ ability to come out strong after their lengthy nine-game road trip.
“I just thought the start wasn’t good, the first three or four possessions, and then all of the sudden it was like everything seemed to tilt in our direction. A lot of it was will, a lot was just energy, and our purpose. We played with a real purpose there for a while.”
Gasol and Kobe Bryant each had 23 points for the Lakers while Odom had 17 points and a team-high 15 rebounds. In all, six Lakers scored in double figures, including all five starters.
Continue reading ‘Lakers vs. Hawks Post-Game’
Inactives for Tonight’s Game:
Hawks: Speedy Claxton
Lakers: Chris Mihm, Trevor Ariza, Andrew Bynum
10:02 Emphatic drunk from Lamar Odom to tie the game at four. Newly acquired Hawk Mike Bibby is getting booed every time he touches the ball as it looks like the STAPLES Center crowd is still riled up from a deafening introduction to Pau Gasol.
9:29 Fisher throws a perfect pass right to the rim for Gasol who easily puts in his first points on the home court. The Lakers have opened up a 12-4 lead behind an increasingly more raucous home crowd.
6:15 Gasol continues his strong start, grabbing the offensive rebound and laying the ball in and one. Pau leads the Lakers with six points so far, helping them to a 16-12 lead approximately halfway through the quarter.
Continue reading ‘Lakers vs. Hawks In-Game’
Prior to tonight’s game against the Hawks, Coach Phil Jackson said that it may be difficult for the team to sustain the momentum gained from their record-setting nine-game road trip. According to Jackson, it could take an entire game before the Lakers reacclimate themselves.
Lakers newcomer Pau Gasol–set to make his STAPLES Center debut tonight–also spoke at length about his adjustment to Los Angeles and what being a Laker means to him. “It’s difficult, yet easy at the same time,” Gasol said, also revealing that his immense excitement has helped him find his niche with the team.
Gasol said that the differences in expectations is the biggest difference between the Lakers and the Grizzlies. With the Lakers in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, the Spanish forward said that he has newfound energy and an increased pep in his step.
With regards to his first time in front of the L.A. fans, Gasol said he wants to “give fans a little taste of what it’s going to be like” with him on the team.
In his six games with the team, Jackson said that Gasol has provided the Lakers with a much-needed inside presence that has resulted in more open shots for teammates.
The Lakers get a quick chance for revenge against the Hawks tonight following their 98-95 loss in Atlanta less than two weeks ago. Despite controlling that game and leading by eight points entering the fourth quarter, L.A. wilted under a balanced Hawks attack and were outscored 30-19 in the final frame. Joe Johnson led Atlanta with 28 points to go along with four other Hawk players in double figures.
After defeating the Lakers , the Hawks lost four straight games heading into the All-Star break. While three of the four the losses did come against the Eastern Conference juggernaut Pistons and the upstart Cavs and Rockets, the Hawks will be looking to come out strong in the first game of the second half.
The Lakers will likely be seeing an entirely different Hawks team tonight after Atlanta just completed a trade for veteran Sacramento Kings guard Mike Bibby, a move that should solidify their place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. The Hawks did not part with any of their core team members either, sending Anthony Johnson, 2007 first-round pick Shelden Williams, Tyronn Lue, Lorenzen Wright and a 2008 second-round selection to Sacramento.
Tonight’s matchup also marks the beginning of a five game swing out West for the Hawks, meanwhile Lakers’ newcomer Pau Gasol will be making his STAPLES Center debut.