Monthly Archive for October, 2008

Page 4 of 10

Jackson, Bynum After Practice

After Saturday’s practice at L.A.’s facility, we heard from Lakers head coach Phil Jackson and center Andrew Bynum. Here are some selected notes from the conversations:

Jackson:

  • Saturday’s was a relatively light, tactical practice.
  • Both Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vujacic responded well to playing in Friday’s win over Oklahoma City in Ontario, Calif.
  • Derek Fisher left practice late to go into the training room but Jackson did not hear any complaints or anticipate any problem.
  • Jackson didn’t bite too heavily on a question about the Bynum-Greg Oden matchup, though he did say it’d be interesting to watch and that he thought they may have played against each other previously.
  • Jackson added that while he was pleased with Bynum’s progress, we should credit his teammates for some terrific passes to the low post.
  • Reiterating what he’d said earlier, Jackson talked about how well Gasol has been playing.

    Bynum:

  • The biggest thing that changed to him from early training camp to his terrific performance in the final game was simply playing time. Getting 29 minutes allowed him to get comfortable out there. Otherwise, it was just getting in better shape.
  • When asked about his matchup with Oden, Bynum suggested that he was focused on the entire Blazers team, not just Oden. He named Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and (injured) Martell Webster by name.
  • Bynum said he hasn’t played against Oden since an AAU tournament in sixth grade. Oden was four inches taller, apparently. “I think a lot’s changed since then,” he added.
  • His timing is getting better on both ends, the reasons for his alley-oops and blocked shots in the past two games especially.

    The Lakers finally have a day off on Sunday, but will resume practicing on Monday.

  • Lakers Today: 10/25/08

    And finally the pre-season is over and the games can start to count again.

    The Lakers closed out their annual pre-season tour with a 6-2 record after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-94 on Friday night in Ontario’s brand new arena.

    The Lakers closed their eight-game slate with a six-game winning streak to equal their best pre-season record since the 2005-06 season.

    After a dismal defeat to the Clippers in Fresno everything started to click for the team’s second unit. Led by Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza, the reserves started running other team’s backups off the floor (kinda like the end of last regular season). Farmar ended up as the team’s leading scorer in the pre-season, averaging 12.3 points in just over 21-minutes per game. “He was really a spark plug for us this pre-season,” said head coach Phil Jackson.

    Other pre-season notes: (ones off the top of my head, if you have others send us an email)

  • As the pre-season went on Andrew Bynum continued to find his rhythm, getting better with each contest. He looks ready for the season to start.
  • Pau Gasol shot a silly 64% from the field, actually lowering his percentage by going 3/5 last night.
  • Sasha Vujacic got his one game in. After going out on the first day of training camp, and subsequently being shut down for a week, it was nice to see the Slovenian sharpshooter get in some live action before the real thing starts. He also dominated the crowd before last night’s game. Don’t give Sasha a mic unless you want him to rock it.
  • Lamar Odom settling in with the second unit has been fun to watch. Only Phil Jackson knows what the Lakers rotations will look like on opening night and beyond, but if Lamar comes off the bench six-minutes into the game he’s going to cause a lot of problems for the opposing squad. His abilities shines in the open floor game that Farmar and Ariza have been leading and Odom’s overall talent is head-and-shoulders above most of the players he’ll be matching up with.
  • Bynum and Gasol have been starting together and getting better, but as Mike Trudell pointed out last night, the ability to rotate the two talented bigs in-and-out with different lineups is a “nasty” option to have.
  • More than anything, NO MAJOR INJURIES… Kobe bumped a knee, but showed last night that he’s good to go. Sasha returned and is ready for the regular season. Josh Powell should be ready to go for Tuesday after being held out of the past two games with a tweaked hamstring. Jackson said that this is the hardest he’s worked a team since he returned to the Lakers and pretty much everyone has come away better for it.

    Sasha also told Mike Trudell last night that he elected himself President of the training room during this pre-season…

    TODAY
    Even though they’ve played five games in the last seven days, the team will return to the training facility for practice today.

  • Ontario: Post-Game Videos




    Sasha Vujacic Post-Game




    Phil Jackson Post-Game

    Lakers – Thunder Running Diary

    With the exception of reserve forward Josh Powell, you’re finally going to see a full complement of Lakers tonight, a fact we learned from Phil Jackson before the game as Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vujacic will both play.

    Speaking of Vujacic, he absolutely killed the pregame introduction over the loudspeakers to the fans in Ontario, skillfully pausing after his “welcome to your first NBA game” line to a (not Oklahoma City) thunderous roar. That’s going to be hard to beat, Sasha. Well done.

    As mentioned in a previous entry, this is indeed the first game in Ontario’s Citizen’s Business Bank Arena, and a sell-out crowd of around 11,000 has already created a fully-charged, college-like atmosphere that should be fun for everybody.

    First Quarter
    Seattle (oops – knew that was going to happen) errrr Oklahoma City has a big lineup with Jeff Green (6-9) at the three and Kevin Durant (6-9) at the two, coupled with the 7-0 Johan Petro and 6-10 Nick Collison up front. They might not be quite as bad as they look on paper, but they’re probably fighting with Memphis to avoid having the league’s worst record. I’d worry a bit about their transition defense…

    Kobe looks to be feeling OK. Just two deep threes without a hint of rim to make it 6-4 Lakers early on, then a defense-drawing slash through the lane resulting in a wide-open Gasol layup. Looking just as sharp are Gasol and Bynum, who combined for 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, mostly right underneath the hoop, to give L.A. an 18-13 lead at the 6:03 mark. Bynum added a big swat in the lane and a steal, and has certainly looked a bit better in each of L.A.’s eight preseason games.

    Odom was the first Laker off the bench, as expected, though we should see Vujacic soon. And so we would at the 4:05 mark, after Bynum’s second massive alley-oop jam of the quarter. That’s 10 points for ‘Drew. Crowd loving that, not to mention the 25-13 lead. The Laker offense has been spectacular, and the defense has forced nothing but jumpers from the visiting light blue with orange trim jerseys.

    Yesterday in our Gameday article I mentioned how Kevin Durant loves to get his FGAs. I just looked at the stat sheet and he’s taken eight shots already. He’s only made two, meaning he’s about on track to match his shooting percentage from last year. Sure, he averaged 20.3 points as a rookie, but he takes more shots than almost anyone in the league, and they’re all jumpers! Plus he’s 6-9 and averaged just 2.4 boards a game. Doesn’t this anger anyone else? I would have taken either Al Horford or Luis Scola for Rookie of the Year over Durant, and I don’t think it was close. That’s just me though, I guess…

    Lakers lead 30-22 after one.

    Continue reading ‘Lakers – Thunder Running Diary’

    Jackson: Bryant, Vujacic to Play

    Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said prior to Friday evening’s game in Ontario that both Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vujacic would play against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Jackson expects Vujacic to see significant time after missing the previous seven preseason games with his ankle injury, while Bryant will play just enough to keep his hyperextended knee – which is apparently close to 100 percent already – loose.

    While some question whether Bryant should even test the knee in a relatively meaningless preseason game, Jackson said that Bryant knows his body well enough at this stage of his career to make such a decision.

    Certainly both pieces of information regarding Kobe and Sasha are good news for the Lakers. On the other hand, forward Josh Powell will be held out of tonight’s game due to the same strained left hamstring that caused him to miss Thursday night’s win against Charlotte. Powell did tell me that he’s “definitely” going to be ready for the season opener, and we’ll see if the training staff concurs next week.

    At the (brand new) Arena

    Key phrase in the title: “brand new.”

    Tonight in Ontario, Calif., the Lakers literally open the so-fresh-and-so-clean Citizens Business Bank Arena with a nationally televised (ESPN) final game of the L.A. preseason against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    It’s so new that as Ty and I walked into the lower bowl, we said, “Wow it smells like a new car” at the same time. The paint is fresh and bright around the building, the temperature is a cool contrast to the 90-degree mountain valley outside and there is staff scurrying around everywhere in final preparation.

    Of course, not everything’s perfect – the TV cable isn’t yet connected, for example – but the people in the building have an excited but somewhat nervous anticipation that’s quite charming.

    Moving forward, the building will be used for Ontario’s minor league hockey team, and has already booked concerts like Carrie Underwood and Metallica, but the craziest thing about the $150 million arena is that the city does not owe any money on it.

    As reported in the Riverside Press Enterprise earlier this month, the building is mostly funded through revenue from city surplus funds and the sale of other property, an exception to the rule as many stadiums are built way under debt. In fact, the city of Ontario seems to have created a near ideal model for how to pay for city developments.

    Fair enough. By the way, the arena is already sold out for tonight’s game, about which we’ll have much more in our live blog.

    Talk to you in a few…

    Lakers Today: 10/24/08

    The Lakers cruised to their fifth straight pre-season win last night, defeating the Bobcats 88-77, in Anaheim. The play of the second unit, once again led by Jordan Farmar, has made all the difference in the wins. It reminds me of last year when the second unit would inherit a slight lead and push it to a significant lead that the starters could then pad down the stretch.

    Kobe Bryant did not play because of swelling in his knee, but according to the LA Times, could still play tonight if the swelling subsides. Sasha Vujacic also sat out last night, he expects to play tonight, and Josh Powell is day-to-day with a strained left hamstring.

    More on Kobe: A look back and a look ahead. One I don’t remember fondly and the other I’m not really looking forward to hearing about.

    GM Mitch Kupchak talks to NBA.com about their recent survey of General Managers that had the Lakers has heavy favorites to take the title.

    TODAY
    The Lakers christen the new Citizens Business Bank Arena tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 7:30pm on KCAL/9 HD and ESPN. The Inland Empire is fired up about seeing the Lakers (and their new arena) and the game is expected to be a sellout.

    Check the Lakers Gameday Preview for all your game info.

    This will be the team’s final pre-season game. They open the regular season against the Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday.

    Anaheim: Post-Game Videos




    Andrew Bynum Post-Game




    Pau Gasol Post-Game

    (Note from Trudell: Thanks for that cheesy picture, Ty, I really appreciate it. And no, you can’t use it for a holiday card.)

    Lakers – Bobcats in Anaheim: Running Diary

    Hey folks, welcome back to the Honda Center in Anaheim. If you’re watching on TV, it must be on TNT, who has exclusive rights to the broadcast for the first of 11 times this season.

    As such, the best team in the business – Kevin Harlan, Doug Collins and Cheryl Miller – is here to call the action, while our radio booth of Spero Dedes and Mychael Thompson can still be heard on your radio dial or via NBA.com.

    As we reported a bit earlier, Kobe Bryant, Sasha Vujacic and Josh Powell won’t be playing tonight; it’ll be interesting to see who Phil Jackson starts in the place of No. 24. As the media salivates as if a Jackson’s lineup card were a Carl’s Jr. burger (at midnight), here are a few options:

    A) Fisher, Odom, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
    B) Fisher, Ariza, Radmanovic, Gasol and Bynum
    C) Farmar, Fisher, Radmonovic, Gasol and Bynum
    D) Farmar, Fisher, Odom, Gasol and Bynum
    E) Fisher, Odom, Radmanovic, Gasol and Bynum
    F) Fisher, Walton, Odom, Gasol and Bynum
    G) None of the above

    If it were only Kobe missing the game, perhaps Jackson would go with Vujacic, but the third shooting guard on the depth chart is Coby Karl, and it’s fair to speculate he won’t be starting. Ty and I have been discussing how Jackson might not want to mess with his Odom-Farmar-Ariza combo off the bench since Kobe’s going to be back almost immediately, but we’re not sure about the best alternative.

    Any guesses?

    Jackson went with option B. Fair enough.

    First Quarter
    At about 5 p.m., it looked to me as if one of the rims were off a little bit. Just slightly slanted. But apparently that wasn’t the problem in a five-minute delay before tipoff at 7 p.m. Instead, as reported by the seated-next-to-me Cheryl Miller, the wire inside of the rim broke, and lead official Bob Delaney was concerned that it might cut one of the players. Make it a 13-minute and counting delay.

    No worries though, I’ll now look for a “Bayside Tigers” t-shirt online so I can be Zach Morris for Halloween. Don’t copy me – I already have unlaced high tops, stone-washed jeans and spiky blond hair with a Manhattan Beach wave.

    Actual First Quarter Tip
    OK. Only 14 minutes there for the two Honda Center guys that must have been sweating huge bullets trying to rush the rim-fixing job, which now features about 10 strips of very visible white tape keeping the net up. Gotta wonder if that distracts the shooter? Not Pau Gasol, who cleaned up an Ariza miss for the game’s first points. Remember, Gasol’s shooting 63.2 percent this preseason. He’s no Andris Biedrins, but that ain’t bad…

    Joining Gasol in the lane defensively was of course Bynum, who combined with the Spaniard to contest three early Bobcat misses near the rim before a Vladimir Radmanovic three made it 5-0. If Vlad had stepped on the line, he would have equaled Tampa’s 4-0 World Series game two lead over Philly.

    Continue reading ‘Lakers – Bobcats in Anaheim: Running Diary’

    Kobe, Sasha and JP Injury Update

    Kobe Bryant, Sasha Vujacic and Josh Powell will all be in street clothes for L.A.’s Thursday evening contest between the Lakers and Charlotte Bobcats.

  • Bryant said before the game that his knee is a little sore, but he remains quite pleased that the hyperextension was nothing at all serious. He’s listed as day-to-day, and could possibly play tomorrow night in Ontario … Though we shouldn’t be shocked if he doesn’t. We’ll certainly be shocked if he doesn’t start in Tuesday’s season opener.
  • Vujacic, on the other hand, told me that he is going to play tomorrow night, as he’s intent upon getting at least one preseason game under his belt before the regular season opener against Portland.
  • Offseason acquisition Powell suffered a strained left hamstring Tuesday night in San Diego, and is also day-to-day.