Monthly Archive for December, 2008

Phil, Kobe Practice Video

After L.A.’s first practice in three days, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson and guard Kobe Bryant addressed assembled media.

We were there taping, so you could watch for yourself:

KOBE VIDEO

PHIL VIDEO

Stay tuned tomorrow and Friday, as we’ll have more from Derek Fisher on how much he enjoys playing big minutes, not to mention a conversation with Josh Powell about abbreviations in text messages.

Finally, we’ll have a pregame look at a banged up Utah Jazz squad which has managed to keep their record in the “solid” category at 19-12.

Happy New Year

(YouTube versions of the videos are below the jump)

Continue reading ‘Phil, Kobe Practice Video’

Bryant Named Western Player of the Week

Kobe Player of the WeekKobe Bryant was named the Western Conference Players of the Week for the first time this season for games played Monday, Dec. 22, through Sunday, Dec. 28.

Bryant averaged 30.0 points on 54 percent shooting, plus 5.5 boards and 4.0 assists to lead the Lakers to a 4-0 week, including L.A.’s big Christmas Day 92-83 win over Boston, in which he tallied a game-high 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Kobe capped off the week with 31 points, four steals, four assists and three boards in a 130-113 victory over Golden State.

Here’s a recap of Bryant’s week courtesy of NBA.com:

• Dec. 22 @ Memphis: Tallied 36 points, four rebounds and three assists in the Lakers’ 105-96 win over the Grizzlies.
• Dec. 23 @ New Orleans: Finished with 26 points, six rebounds and four assists in the Lakers’ 100-87 win over the Hornets.
• Dec. 25 vs. Boston: Scored a game-high 27 points, to go with nine rebounds and five assists in the Lakers’ 92-83 win over the Celtics.
• Dec. 28 vs. Golden State: Hit for 31 points and tied a season-high with four steals in the Lakers’ 130-113 win over the Warriors.

Other nominees for the Western Conference Players of the Week were Houston’s Yao Ming, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and San Antonio’s Tony Parker.

Sasha After Shootaround = Success

Sasha

Lakers.com is fully willing to take credit for Sasha Vujacic’s best home games.

We can’t explain exactly why it works like this, but when Sasha sits down with us after shootaround before home games, he balls out.

During Sunday’s beating of Golden State, Vujacic was 6-of-10 from the field and 4-of-7 from three for a season-high 17 points, plus a season-high six assists, two boards and a steal … Not to mention only two turnovers while serving as the backup point guard in the absence of Jordan Farmar, and some tough defense against smaller guards on the perimeter. Not coincidentally, he appeared on Lakers.com that morning.

Sasha’s already admitted the cause (admittedly, playing 30 minutes didn’t hurt his cause), and can even rewind back to the season’s first four games, in which he’d made just 7-of-22 shots and was ready to crack his head against the base of the basket. Sasha came on Lakers.com, and proceeded to make all three of his shots from the field with three assists and a steal for a +15 in 15 minutes of playing time against Houston the next day.

Alas, below is the video of Sasha before his best game of the season … Though, clearly, he’s more worried about the socks* I wore to shootaround then the fact that Lakers.com is basically ensuring that he lives up to his contract.

*OK, I wore white socks with my blue suit at 11 a.m. shootaround, because I had to promptly change back into jeans and running shoes to cart my in-town family around Manhattan Beach. Obviously, blue socks were waiting in the car for the game, but Sasha cared so little about that excuse that he brought it up three times during the video (some were edited out) and then again twice in the locker room. Thanks for blowing up my spot, Sasha, ‘ppreciate you.

Blocks, Free Throws and the Player Rater


My name is Mike Trudell, and I’m a fantasy basketball addict (I don’t need to attend meetings, do I?).

As a point of fact, I love fantasy hoops about as much as …
A) Teenage girls love the Jonas Brothers
B) Teenage boys love Megan Fox
C) Bill Belichick loves cheating
D) Tom Cruise loves Scientology
E) Nike stock loves Michael Jordan

So, my love affair with sports numbers is why I get frustrated (to quite frustrated) when I see that Dwight Howard is No. 35 on ESPN’s “Player Rater.”

No. 35? Really!!!??

Check me out: Howard is leading the league in rebounding (13.6) and blocked shots (3.68) by a long shot. He’s ninth in field goal percentage (55.1) and 24th in scoring (19.9). He’s missed exactly two games in his four-plus year career (both this season due to a left knee tweak) and is a mortal lock to put up big numbers every night because he’s twice as athletic as anyone his size … and very few boast his size in the first place.

So wait … What are we missing? Oh yeah. He’s a big-time clanker.

One of the NBA’s worst ever free throw shooters, Howards hits only 56.5 percent of his league-high 11.3 attempts, which can admittedly cause you to lose the free throw category each week (unless you know how to properly compensate). Because of the way ESPN’s rankings system works, Howard’s charity bricks drop him all the way down to 35th in the rater.

Basically, ESPN’s player rater assigns an exact +/- number in each of eight categories (points, assists, steals, blocks, rebounds, FT%, FG%, 3PM) based on how one compares to the rest of the players in the league. So Howard earns a ridiculous +6.52 for blocks*, by far the highest of any category (CP3 gets a 5.11 for assists, the next highest), but his free throw number (-6.8) is also the lowest number in any category, and completely eviscerates his blocks, while de-emphasizing his FG%, points and boards.
*Only three other players (Marcus Camby, Chris Anderson and Ronny Turiaf, the latter two who don’t play much) average over two blocks, making Howard’s swats even more valuable than, say, Dwyane Wade’s 28.9 points (since 13 other players average over 22 points).

Is that fair? No way. Let’s continue…

If you drafted Howard at No. 35 overall in your fantasy league this year, and you’re not a moron with the rest of your squad, you are probably winning your league. That suggests that the rater is off a bit, right? After all, Howard is a rare player who significantly helps you in four categories, just like ‘Bron, Wade and Paul and really no one else. With Dwight on your team, even if you’re punting free throws – which you don’t necessarily have to do – you’re most likely going to win blocks, you have an excellent chance in rebounding and field goal percentage and you even get 20 extra points per game. He won’t help you much in assists, steals or threes (duh), but his massive production in those other categories cannot be matched by any other player, even LeBron. Furthermore, if you’re smart, you can put more point guards and point forwards on your roster to help you with the categories Howard doesn’t excel in, while letting Dwight do the work of two centers. No, seriously. Look at this:

Taking out the shooting categories (we know Dwight has the edge in FG and a deficit in FT), here are Howard’s numbers compared to Rasheed Wallace and Al Horford’s numbers … combined.

Dwight Howard: 19.9 points, 13.6 boards, 3.7 blocks, 0.9 steals, 1.4 assists
Wallace and Horford: 23.3 points, 16.2 boards, 3.2 blocks, 1.6 steals, 4.3 assists

While ‘Sheed’s 1.9 threes are a factor as well, it’s pretty telling that it takes two very good players to just surpass the Player Rater’s 35th best guy.

If someone can please explain to me how missing free throws (again, one out of nine categories) can push a player down about 32 spots in the fantasy rankings (Nene and Jason Terry are 17th and 18th, OK!), I’d LOVE to hear it. I mean, a solid all-around player like Joe Johnson (11th on the PR) doesn’t have one number below or above 3.0, and has a minus only in the turnover category, so his 10.84 more than handles Howard’s 7.95

OK, time to bounce … I need to go frantically put together trade propositions for Howard in all three of my leagues.

In the Rankings: Week 9

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

NBA.com
This Week: 2 | Last Week: 4 | Diff: +2

The Lakers needed that win over the Celtics and they got it. And we shouldn’t overlook Tuesday’s win in New Orleans. But Jordan Farmar’s injury (he’s out two months after knee surgery) hurts, so they’ll be looking for a backup point guard.

ESPN.com
This Week: 1 | Last Week: 3 | Diff: +2

About Adande’s theory for the Lakers’ up-and-down play in December after such a dominant November because they couldn’t get excited about anything except the Boston game: They sure made him look good.

SI.com
This Week: 2 | Last Week: 3 | Diff: +1

Who should be the Lakers’ starting small forward? Vladimir Radmanovic? Trevor Ariza? Lamar Odom? Right now, it’s Luke Walton, and don’t expect a change anytime soon. The Lakers are 8-2 since coach Phil Jackson moved Walton into the starting lineup. “Luke’s a real good passer-playmaker,” Jackson said. “I felt the team was lacking that.”

USAToday.com
This Week: 3 | Last Week: 3 | Diff: N/A

Gasol shines in sweet Christmas Day revenge win over Celtics.

Average Ranking: This Week: 2 | Last Week: 3.25 | Diff: +1.25

Lakers – Warriors Postgame Quotes

Below is a look at the postgame quotes from L.A.’s 130-113 victory over the Golden State Warriors. First comes Phil Jackson, then Warriors head coach Don Nelson, followed by various Lakers and Warriors players.

Perhaps most interesting of the quotes are Nelson’s comments about LA compared with Boston:

Warriors Head Coach Don Nelson
On coming up short tonight:
“They (Lakers) did what they were supposed to do and took care of business. Let’s just say that they beat us.”

On the Lakers as a team:
“I thought they were the best team that I had seen (when we had not played them yet) and it is hard for me to say anything other than that. They have the whole package and they have a chance to win the whole thing this year.”

On who else are competitors for the finals this year:
“The other team that I saw that was really good was Orlando. I know what Boston is doing and what they did but they still have two players missing from their last team that are really important to them. They either have to get those guys back or replace them with someone because I just think that the Lakers, after a year of going to the finals are just ready; they know what it takes and they are so well coached and disciplined.”

On Kobe Bryant:
“Kobe now has a grasp on the game [after playing in last year’s finals] like no other player and he controls it when he wants to. He makes his players along side of him succeed and he is a real leader out there. I mean he has the whole package going for him; he is not just the best player in the league but probably the best leader, the way that he leads these guys and directs them and lets them succeed. He could get 50 any time he wanted, I am sure.”

On the Lakers having the whole package:
“I think that they know they are good and they know that it is a long season. They know what they need to do and they do what they are supposed to, to get a number of wins so they get the home court advantage. But the real game for them starts when the playoffs start.”
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Warriors Postgame Quotes’

Lakers 130, Warriors 113: Postgame

Post-GameSo, this one was a blowout. Even Forrest Gump could take a look at the postgame box and come to that conclusion.

But heading into Sunday’s contest against the Warriors, you had a pretty obvious recipe for a letdown game:

A: Exude maximum mental and physical effort to beat a Boston team that defeated your squad in the previous season’s NBA Finals +
B: Welcome in a team like the Warriors that plays hot potato offense and just a touch more defense than the (0-16) Detroit Lions +
C: Get a day off from practice while spending time with your family and friends for the Holidays (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, apple pie and the like)

For the first 10 minutes of Sunday afternoon’s Lakers – Warriors matchup at STAPLES, an energy sap from L.A.’s X-Mas win over the Celtics was precisely what we saw … at least defensively, as the two teams put up 27 points apiece.

But it didn’t last long for the Lakers.

L.A.’s bench – with Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom and Sasha Vujacic in leading roles – quickly pushed the Lakers on a 7-0 run to close the first quarter, and moments later L.A. jumped to a 15-point lead on Vujacic’s triple early in the second. Sure, the Warriors dabbled in various comeback attempts (a 10-0 second quarter run, for example), but the game was never in doubt after the aforementioned burst.

Derek Fisher’s three at the 6:40 mark of the third quarter pushed L.A.’s lead to a then-high 16 points, and Odom’s triple to close the third quarter increased the max on L.A.’s lead to 17 at 102-85. The blowout continued in the fourth quarter, when Fish (9-of-12 for the game) couldn’t miss, Vujacic hit two more triples (season-high 17 points), and Pau Gasol and Bryant got ice on their knees early.

From that point on, it was the Sun Yue (fall-away jumper in the final minute), Josh Powell, Trevor Ariza, Vladi Radmanovic and Vujacic show, against a Warriors lineup featuring the likes of something called Robert Kurz (????), Anthony Morrow (yup) and DeMarcus Nelson (just up from the D-League). Ultimately, L.A. scored a season-high 130 points, and emerged with its 25th win in 30 games.

5
Categories in which Trevor Ariza made a solid impact with this stat line: 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one steal, two blocks.

7
Team-leading assists for Pau Gasol, plus nine boards and 13 points. Two of Gasol’s dimes were terrific touch passes to Bynum for dunks. Bynum notched the game’s only double-double with his 13 points and 10 boards in 25 minutes.

13
First quarter points from Kobe Bryant, who finished with a game-high 31 in 31 minutes, on an impressive 9-of-15 from the field plus 10-of-10 free throws (Bryant didn’t get to the free throw line once against Boston).

17
Vujacic’s point total, the most he’s scored since putting up 20 in game three of the NBA Finals last season. Sasha added a season high six assists, and continued to play his best games after appearing on Lakers.com after shootaround. Seriously.

22
Lamar Odom’s +/- ranking, a game high. Odom’s stat sheet wasn’t particularly loud (six points, three boards, a steal, block and assist), but his floor leadership of the second unit was quite good.

50
Points in the paint by the Lakers, to 38 for Golden State.

130
Points by the Lakers, a season-high.

Welcome Back Ronny


Tonight forward/center Ronny Turiaf returned to face the Lakers for the first since joining the Golden State Warriors as a free agent. In his three years with the team Ronny became one of the most popular Lakers on and off the court because of his blue collar work ethic and unbridled enthusiasm for the game. The organization welcomed Ronny back to STAPLES Center with a short video of appreciation before tip-off.

Lakers – Warriors Running Diary

As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Inactives
Lakers: Jordan Farmar, D.J. Mbenga
Warriors: Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette, Marcus Williams

Well Lakers.com BasketBlog followers, you’ve had 29-games (and a preseason) worth of Mike Trudell, but tonight you’ll be subjected to the stylings of Ty Nowell (me). I’m sure my two fans from last year are excited. The rest of you are just going to have to survive until Friday when Mike will be back in action and giving you what you’ve come to expect from these running diaries. If you see chunks of time go by without any posts it probably means the Chargers did something that helped them back into the playoffs and I got distracted. For now they’re up 17-6 and driving so we all might get lucky.

Starters:
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Pau and Bynum
Warriors Jamal Crawford, Marco Belinelli, Stephen Jackson, Brandan Wright, Andris Biedrins

First Quarter
12:00 The Ronny welcome back video got a nice ovation and Fish is rocking a head band tonight. Those two events were not related.

7:38 The Lakers carry a 13-8 lead into the first break with Kobe leading the way with five-points. Early offense continues to be a focal point of the MVP’s game. D-Fish also added four points on an easy layup and an open jumper from the free throw line after a Bynum steal. The inside game hasn’t been a huge factor yet, but there was a pretty over the head no look pass from Pau to Bynum after the Spaniard got doubled down low. The transition defense hasn’t been tested.

7:29 Like clockwork, illegal defense on the Lakers.

4:32 Sloppy play and long rebounds stoke the Warriors fire and they were able to take a 20-18 lead as the Lakers decided to take the long jumpers and make ill-advised passes. Every trip down that doesn’t involve either Gasol or Bynum is just annoying. The Warriors make it unbelievably easy to score down low.

3:02 I don’t have any insightful stats for you at this point because Celina on the stat crew put her purse down on a bunch of cables and disconnected all the stat monitors in the building. I assure you she has many fine qualities and the upside of all that is that the Chargers are up 24-6 at the half and I got to watch some of it during the timeout without feeling too guilty.

Continue reading ‘Lakers – Warriors Running Diary’

L.A. – Golden State Pregame: Wounded Warriors

Throughout the 2008-09 early-season campaign, Warriors head coach Don Nelson has had more lineups than TomKat’s children received Christmas presents.

Today’s questionable list includes Jamal Crawford – who will see how his groin feels before the game before making a decision before tip – and Corey Maggette, who has missed Golden State’s last 11 games with a hamstring injury and is doubtful.

In fact, only one Warrior – Andris Biedrins – has played in all 31 Warriors games, of which they’ve won nine. In addition to Crawford and Maggette, G.S.’s two leading scorers, captain Stephen Jackson’s missed six games; Monta Ellis isn’t expected to play until late January at the earliest; and young players such as Brandon Wright, C.J. Watson, Marco Bellineli have, respectively, both started and received DNP’s while active.

Yet and still, the Warriors play Nelson’s up-tempo system that can beat any team – such as Boston on Friday night – on any given night, and Phil Jackson’s aware. Before Sunday’s contest, Jackson said that the Warriors are playing better defense than they have in the past, and that it’s difficult to game plan against them since one never knows who’s going to be on the floor.

Jackson added a few other notes to assembled media:

  • He always liked Ronny Turiaf because of his energy, which this season has helped him block 2.17 blocks a game despite only 17.4 minutes per evening. Turiaf has been playing more minutes lately, however, including 30 against Boston.
  • That the Lakers have just one game in eight days is good for everybody to rest, particularly veterans like Derek Fisher, who’ve had to play big minutes lately.
  • Jackson counts on Sasha Vujacic to chase smaller guards around screens, which is not something many players on L.A.’s roster can do.

    That’s all for now … See you at tipoff.