Ariza, Odom, Bryant Post-Game
Jordan Farmar 1-on-1
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How good was the Lakers’ defense in Tuesday’s 96-76 opening night win over the Portland Trail Blazers at STAPLES Center?
So good that the 76 points mustered by Portland were the fewest in franchise history against the Lakers, who gave up 79 to Portland on Feb. 1, 2005 for the previous low.
“We made them take hurried shots with the clock running down or shots out of their comfort zone,” explained Jackson after the game. “But they did miss some open shots so we can’t take all the credit for the defense.”
Fair enough. But still, the having L.A. at times overload one side of the floor to ball hawk and create havoc worked wonders as one of the Lakers seven-footers was usually waiting in the lane to deter drivers. While that was the game’s major story line, the most important specific stretch came after Portland narrowed L.A.’s lead to eight in the third quarter before Kobe Bryant went off for 17 of his 23 points to effectively bury the Blazers.
Here are a few other thoughts from the contest:
Live from STAPLES Center … your 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers.
We’ll be logging each minute on the court right here on the BasketBlog … Remember that you can hit your browsers’ refresh (or reload) button to get the latest entry. Game on.
Inactives for tonight:
Lakers – DJ Mbenga, Sun Yue
Blazers – Raef LaFrentz, Shavlik Randolph, Martell Webster
Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Blazers: Steve Blake, Brandon Roy, Travis Outlaw*, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden
*Nicolas Batum was slated to start but we got word from one of those “sources close to the team” that Outlaw was taking his place.
Radio: If you’re in Cali., you can tune into AM 570 KLAC to hear Spero Dedes and Mychael Thompson’s call.
TV: The Lakers get basketball’s top broadcast booth for the second time in as many weeks as Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins handle the call for TNT, with Cheryl Miller on sideline duty. Harlan, who’s been calling professional football and hoops since graduating from the University of Kansas, is terrific not just for his deep knowledge of the game, but because he’s such a great guy that every analyst loves working with him. As such, he always seems to strike up great chemistry with whoever is sharing the mic. Then there’s Collins, who at least in my opinion is the best color guy in sports, period. With a unique bio that includes an All-Star playing career (he’s a former No. 1 overall pick), eight seasons as an NBA coach and several years in the broadcasting booth, he always seems to tell you something about the game you didn’t know. Then there’s Miller, who along with Teresa Edwards is one of the best two players in women’s basketball history, and a woman who obviously has the respect of players and coaches around the league – meaning they’ll actually say interesting things to her on camera.
Bynum won the opening tip from Oden, who committed his first career foul on Pau Gasol’s and-1 that resulted from a Radmanovic offensive rebound. LaMarcus Aldridge answered with a 17-foot jumper that was immediately countered with a Derek Fisher pull-up jumper. Gasol hit again after a Bryant rebound from Aldridge’s miss, until Travis Outlaw his a long jumper.
Then after a fantastic Oden block of Bynum – one rearing some “ohhhs” from the crowd – Gasol nailed yet another jumper for a 9-4 lead.
Now you’re not going to see this on the box score, but Vladi has been terrific defensively in the first four minutes, as have Bynum and Gasol, who have collectively contested every Blazer shot near the rim. As a result, Portland has made just 2-of-8 shots to start the game, while the Lakers have been getting much better looks in making 5-of-9 and forcing an early Nate McMillan time out with an 11-4 lead.
Oden just missed badly, his third miss (Roy’s also 0-for-3) of the quarter, and committed his second foul by knocking Fish down on the offensive half. Joel Pryzbilla, who’s more than capable as a backup center (and solid defensively) is in. Jackson put Lamar Odom into the game at the 5:50 mark for Gasol (who had nine points) while Rudy Fernandez stepped onto an NBA floor for the first time for the Blazers.
Bryant’s first bucket came at the 5:00 mark, on a nice driving cut to the tin, before his acrobatic, hanging reverse a few seconds later just rimmed out, keeping a 15-4 lead that became 17-6 after an Aldridge hoop and a Bynum putback.
Apparently Phil Jackson’s preseason focus on defense did his squad some good … just six points for Portland at a TV timeout with 2:52 to go. The Blazers are a putrid 3-of-17 from the field.
Jackson went to his deep bench out of the timeout with Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza, leaving Odom on the floor and putting Gasol back in for Bynum. If you were looking for some instant offense from Ariza, you were rewarded with a dunk on Pryzbilla followed by a corner three to make it 22-10. As Vujacic checked in for Bryant, Ty said that Jackson will almost always take Kobe out late in the first quarter and wait until between eight and six minutes left in the second to bring him back.
Pryzbilla was able to get free for a dunk near the quarter’s close and a Vujacic three – after some terrific ball movement from Farmar and Ariza – just rimmed out as the buzzer sounded, giving L.A. a 24-14 lead after one. Don’t worry, the play-by-play will slow down here, just wanted to get you the full view early on. In short, L.A. played solid defense, and put up 24 points even though it wasn’t able to get into much of an offensive flow. Good start.
Great start would apply to Gasol, who canned 4-of-5 shots plus a free throw, showing quite clearly that he’s much further along with his game than most NBA players at this point in the season … just like we’ve been hearing all preseason. Not so much for Bynum, who missed 3-of-4 shots he took. The kid’ll be back in a bit though…
About an hour and 15 minutes prior to Tuesday’s season tipoff against Portland, Phil Jackson addressed a large collection of media members in the STAPLES Center press conference room. Among the highlights:
Josh Powell, Farmar in the locker room:
A few more quick notes obtained before the game:
I apologize for it being wrinkled, but I snagged it out of a box as it was being unloaded on the event level at STAPLES Center. Anyhow… check out the t-shirt that everyone attending tonight’s game will receive as they enter. The road starts here.
Sasha Vujacic loves to shoot around after practice. Every day.
Sasha Vujacic loves to shoot around after shootaround. Every (game) day.
So it was no surprise to see Vujacic jacking up shots following Tuesday’s shootaround after the rest of the Lakers (besides Pao Gasol, Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar) had left.
After I bet Sasha that Gasol would hit more shots (oops, I lost), Vujacic came over to chat on camera.
You know you’re supposed to click on that link, right? OK cool.
Note: One thing I messed up when Sasha and I were talking about Guitar Hero – Kobe doesn’t play the guitar in the video … he’s just on lead vocals. My bad on that.
Check out Lakers Courtside Connection before every game for the scouting report straight from the coaching staff.
Their starting lineup consists of Steve Blake and Roy in the backcourt, Nicolas Batum and Aldridge at forwards, and Greg Oden at center. Blake has had a number of good games against us in his young career. He’s crafty and can hit the 3 and runs the team well. Roy is a star in this league. He is athletic and active. They will post him up, have him handle in screen and roll situations, and he can shoot to three point range. Throw in the ability to defend and you have a complete player who will be an all-star for years to come. Batum is a young active player who can shoot the three. He does a little bit of everything and likes to play the passing lanes defensively. Aldridge is a long, athletic big man who will come to block shots.
Play the Trivia Contest on Lakers Courtside Connection every day (Monday-Friday) for your chance to win great Lakers prizes.
Today’s question is:
How many Los Angeles Lakers previously played for the Los Angeles Clippers? (Answer Here)
If you think you know the answer, login to Lakers Courtside Connection and see if right. Then come back tomorrow to test your knowledge on Lakers history, while making the running towards really cool prizes.
Before the Lakers could get out on the practice court yesterday they had to do some housekeeping in the roster department. Coby Karl didn’t survive to see his second season as a Laker, being waived just hours before the roster deadline. On the flip side, guard Jordan Farmar had his fourth year option picked up by the team, ensuring that they will control his rights though the 2009-10 season.
It wasn’t a roster move, but Andrew Bynum turned 21-years old yesterday and some people have some wishes for him.
Phil Jackson wasn’t ready to reveal his starting lineup after yesterday’s practice, but there is a good chance that Vladimir Radmanovic will hear his named announced by Lawrence Tanter while the lights are down. As for the rest of the rotation… don’t even ask.
Kobe Bryant’s marketing might is picking up once again, as demonstrated by the latest Guitar Hero World Tour commercial. Here he talks about how he go out of wearing “chonies.”
The Trail Blazers roll into town with great expectations for a young team looking to erase memories of darker times. The game tips at 7:30pm and will be seen exclusively on TNT. Listen to all the action on AM 570 KLAC and ESPN 1330 in the LA area or check out the NBA’s Audio League Pass to listen for free.
Lakers Gameday has all your game info and an interview with Blazers beat writer Jason Quick. We’ll be on hand at STAPLES Center with pre-game, in-game and post-game coverage, so check back later in the day.
For all your gameday information check out the Lakers Gameday Preview on the main site.
In it you’ll find everything you need to know to get you ready for tonight’s season opener against the Portland Trail Blazers, including an audio interview that Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell did with Blazers beat writer Jason Quick.
Quick has covered the Blazers beat for nine seasons now along with writing one of the most interesting blogs out there.
You’ll have to read Lakers Gameday for the full preview, but you can check out the audio of the interview below. Enjoy.