Monthly Archive for March, 2008

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Lakers vs. Sonics Post-Game

It took most of the first half for the Lakers to get rolling, but once they did, their was no stopping them en route to a 130-105 manhandling of the lowly Seattle Sonics. The Lakers’ lead at halftime was only eight, but they came out in the second half and scored 68 points, outscoring Seattle by 17.

“I was concerned that we might have been too flippant in the first half,” said Coach Jackson. “We worked our way through it in the third and got a little extension and were able to come out there and open the game up…” Jackson also praised the way the Lakers came out in the first quarter full of energy despite playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

A total of eight Lakers reached double figures in one of the team’s most balanced scoring nights of the season, highlighted by 23 points from Kobe Bryant. Luke Walton was second in scoring for the Lakers, knocking in 17 points in one of his best offensive nights of the season. In all, every Laker that entered the game scored, including newcomer Ira Newble who got almost four minutes of playing time in his first appearance in the purple and gold.

The blowout victory also enabled the Lakers to rest their starters heading into a difficult home-and-home against the Warriors beginning Sunday night.

“What I was concerned about was that, Seattle has such a good up tempo game that, you know, we might fade,” said Jackson. “But with the lead that they extended in the first quarter, I was able to rest guys and play them in rotation minutes.”

Lakers vs. Sonics In-Game

Inactives for Tonight’s Game:

Sonics: Gelabale, Swift
Lakers: Bynum, Mihm, Ariza

1st Quarter:
10:18 Kobe scores the third and fourth points of the night for the Lakers, after driving into the lane and drawing the foul. Kobe’s attempt wouldn’t have been possible without a nifty tap off of Turiaf’s missed shot by an extremely active Radmanovic. On the previous possession, Vladimir nailed an eight footer to put L.A. on the board.

8:52 Ronny throws down a two-handed jam on the break after a great pass by Fisher. The Lakers have jumped out to an early 12-2 lead on the undermanned Sonics. It’s been a balanced effort so far too as all five starters have scored already.

6:07 Odom swishes his third shot in a row to take over the lead in scoring for the Lakers with six points. Lamar’s picked up right where he left off in Salt Lake City last night, looking for his own shot and shooting the ball with incredible confidence. Kobe and Radmanovic have four points a piece for L.A.

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Lakers vs. Sonics Pre-Game

Before the fourth and final game of the season between the Sonics and the Lakers, Coach Jackson provided updates op the injury status of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Jackson said that Bynum continues to progress, working out on the treadmill and shooting on the floor. Jackson said that Gasol was on the floor doing some things today, with his activity level continuing to increase. According to the Lakers coach, he’s not anticipating that Pau will play in the home-and-home against Golden State beginning this Sunday, but it would be a welcome surprise.

With the addition of Ira Newble–signed to a 10-day contract today–Jackson said that he expects the forward to contribute, but it will be difficult at first with only a limited shooting practice before tonight’s game. “He’s just there to protect our roster right now…he’s an experienced player that ca go and do some things, cover some of our patches if we have some over the course of the game,” said Jackson.

“Hopefully in the next week, he’ll have an opportunity to play a couple of times…” Jackson praised Newble’s ability to guard opponents’ toughest players, saying, “He’s a defensive player, noted for his defense. He’s had some good games against us as a player in the past.” After Kobe, Jackson said that Sasha is the Lakers’ lone defender at the wing spot with Ariza still out with injury, so Newble will serve as a stopgap in case Trevor is unable to return this season.

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Since We Saw Them Last: Sonics

Although the Sonics have historically caused trouble for the Lakers, that has not been the case this season as L.A. has beaten the Sonics in all three games between the teams. Of the three wins, two of them came in blowout fashion, with the only close contest coming in the Emerald City when the Lakers escaped by a basket thanks to Kobe’s late game heroics.

The Sonics are losers of nine straight heading into tonight’s battle, suffering recent losses to some of the league’s best teams in Phoenix and Boston. Meanwhile, the Lakers return to STAPLES Center after their most difficult four-game road trip in over three decades, riding a huge wave of momentum following their convincing win over the Jazz to end Utah’s 19-game home winning streak.

For Seattle–already facing long–term uncertainty about the franchise’s permanent residency– Kevin Durant has been a lone bright spot this year, averaging almost 20 points a game to lead the 2007-08 rookie class. However, Durant has little help on offense, especially after Seattle traded fellow scorer Wally Szcerbiak to Cleveland in a blockbuster deal at the trading deadline. Defense has been a problem all year for the Sonics, as they give up over 106 points a night–the second worst figure in the entire league.

In the two teams’ last meeting, Mickael Gelabale had a career night for Seattle, scoring 21 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the field. However, the Sonics will be without his services tonight after Gelabale tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in Seattle’s practice on Tuesday. The news went from bad to worse when Chris Wilcox–who did not play the last time L.A. faced Seattle either–announced that he is considering sitting out the rest of the season to heal his injured pinkie finger. His absence inside should help the Lakers fare better inside the paint, already plagued with injuries to Gasol and Bynum on their own front line.

Although L.A. has won the past three season series against Seattle, a victory tonight would mark the first sweep since the since 1989-90.

Since We Saw Them Last: Jazz

The Lakers have already taken two of three games from the Jazz this season, with the lone loss coming in Salt Lake City where Utah is a league best 28-3 at Energy Solutions Arena. However, L.A. exacted revenge on the Jazz in their last meeting on Dec. 28 by winning 123-109, making up for the 120-96 drubbing Utah gave them the last time the Lakers played them on the road. In that game, a total of six Lakers scored in double figures, led by Kobe’s 31 and Odom’s 17. Deron Williams—usually a Lakers killer—had one of his worst games of the season, scoring only six points to go along with six assists, both numbers well below his 19 point, 10 assist average for the season.

Despite maintaining a firm grasp on the Northwest Division lead, the Jazz have been somewhat up and down in their last 12 games, with big wins over title contenders in Detroit, Phoenix, Dallas and Boston somewhat diluted by puzzling losses to Chicago and most recently, New Jersey.

Still, Utah figures to be a major player in the post-season, with Carlos Boozer’s 22 points and 11 rebounds and William’s impressive third-year stats giving the Jazz the perfect one-two combo to match up against the West’s exceptional line of big men and point guards. Utah also has a strong group of role players to complement their Big Two, highlighted by Andrei Kirilenko, Ronnie Brewer and relative newcomer, Kyle Korver, making his first appearance against the Lakers in his new uniform.

While the Lakers have created some distance between themselves and the Jazz in the Western Conference standings, there is still a chance that Utah could catch L.A., thereby giving them home court advantage in a potential playoff series.

Since We Saw Them Last: Mavericks

After a rough start to Part 2 of the Jason Kidd era in Dallas, the Mavericks have been on a roll of late, winners of five straight games. While the Mavs will certainly head into tomorrow night’s matchup with plenty of momentum, it should be noted that all five of their blowout wins came against some of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams–New Jersey, New York, Charlotte, Indiana and most recently, Miami.

While Jason Kidd’s adjustment to Dallas’ offensive and defensive schemes started out slow, the perennial All-Star has shows signs of improvement during the team’s streak, even if his six points and nine assist average for the past five games does not necessarily match the sentiment.

The last time the Lakers and Mavs met at STAPLES Center on March 2, they produced one of the best games in the NBA this season, with L.A. holding on for a 108-104 overtime win. In that game, Kobe turned in arguably his greatest performance this this season, scoring 52 points ad grabbing 11 rebounds to lead the Lakers in both categories.

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In the Rankings: Week 20

Every Monday, the Lakers Basketblog checks the net to bring you the latest NBA power rankings.

NBA.com
This Week: 5 | Last Week: 3 | Diff: -2

No one will miss Pau Gasol (estimated to be out for another two weeks) more than Lamar Odom. Since Gasol arrived in L.A., Odom is shooting an unbelievable .633 from the field.

ESPN.com
This Week: 5 | Last Week: 3 | Diff: -2

It won’t be easy — and the Lakers honestly have bigger concerns if Pau isn’t back in a few games — but Kobe can’t do his MVP campaign any harm if he can keep LA in the top five with Bynum and Gasol out injured.

SI.com
This Week: 9 | Last Week: 6 | Diff: -3

The loss of Pau Gasol (sprained ankle) for at least a week knocks them down a few spots in these rankings. With stops this week at Dallas (Tuesday) and Utah (Thursday), on the heels of losses at New Orleans and Houston, they could easily go winless on their four-game trip.

Average Ranking: This Week: 6.33 | Last Week: 4 | Diff: -2.33

Since We Saw Them Last: Rockets

The Rockets have been on an incredible streak since they last saw the Lakers on Nov. 14 in Texas. Despite losing Yao Ming to injury for the remainder of the season halfway through their astonishing 21-game win streak–now the second longest in NBA history–the Rockets have continue to dominate opponents on both ends of the floor. Heading into tomorrow afternoon’s showdown, Houston is tied with the Lakers atop the Western Conference playoff standings at 45-20.

In the first meeting of the season in L.A’s home opener, the Rockets defeated the Lakers to stave off an almost stunning Lakers comeback from 10 points down with a minute and half to go. However, despite Kobe Bryant’s late-game heroics, the Lakers fell 95-95 after a clutch basket by Shane Battier. In their rematch two weeks later, L.A. narrowly defeated the Rockets 93-90 behind Bryant’s 30 points.

Without Ming, filling his enormous void has been a team effort, with Tracy McGrady leading the charge with more than 22 points, five rebounds and six assists a night. Rafer Alston has also stepped up in Yao’s absence, with almost 13 points a game. The Rockets also get strong contributions from Luis Scola, Shane Battier, Carl Landry and Luther Head. More important than stats however, Houston’s awe-inspiring streak is largely due to their unwavering energy. With so much at stake in tomorrow’s game, there’s no reason to expect anything different.

Pau Ankle Injury

Pau Gasol was injured in the 1st quarter of the Lakers game at New Orleans after playing just 2:33. Pau rolled his left ankle and immediately left the game. X-rays were negative. The ankle sprain is severe enough that he will miss the game at Houston on Sunday and he is expected to miss the remainder of the 4 game road trip. Pau will be re-assessed in the next few days to determine the full extent of the injury.

Since We Saw Them Last: Hornets

Since the Lakers manhandled the Hornets 109-80 in a January showdown in the Big Easy, both teams have continued to roll, with the Lakers sitting atop the Western Conference going into tonight’s matchup. New Orleans is nipping at their heels though, compiling a 43-20 record that puts them only a game and a half behind L.A.

In their January win, five Lakers scored in double figures, highlighted by Kobe’s great all-around game with 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Luke Walton had one of his better scoring nights of the season too, totaling 14 points.

Chris Paul has been on a tear of late for the Hornets, averaging an impressive 28 points and 14 assists over their last five games, including 19 points and 21 assists in New Orleans’ drubbing of the defending champion Spurs on Wednesday night.

Bryant has been heating up for the Lakers too, averaging 32 points over his last five games, four above his season average. As a team, L.A. has won 14 of 16 games, including their win over the Raptors on Tuesday.

While the Hornets will be at full strength going into tonight’s game, the Lakers are still missing center Andrew Bynum, who dominated New Orleans in their last meeting, scoring 17 points and pulling down nine rebounds to lead the Lakers to victory. Tonight’s game also marks the first time the Hornets will play against Pau Gasol in a purple a gold uniform.