Monthly Archive for December, 2008

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Pre-Boston Audio: Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol spoke about how the game probably has equal importance to both teams, explained what the Lakers need to do better than what they put forth in the last few games of the Finals and more.

Here’s Pau:

Pre-Boston Audio: Derek Fisher

Derek Fisher addressed L.A.’s mindset heading into the Boston game, looked forward to the energy of the players and the crowd and added this quote:

“It’s the same way I feel about the Pistons: If you lose in the Finals, that’s the end of your relationship. It’s over.”

Here’s the audio:

Pre-Boston Audio: Andrew Bynum

Andrew Bynum talked about his matchup with Kendrick Perkins in the paint, avoiding early foul trouble and bringing a level of physicality to the game that was lacking in last year’s NBA Finals.

Here’s ‘Drew:

Lakers Acquire Hayden Simone Powell

Looking for additional quickness, depth and smooth skin in the backcourt, the Lakers signed newborn Hayden Simone Powell on Tuesday evening at 10:37 p.m. in New Orleans.

Hayden’s listed measurements are (an athletic) 7.1 pounds and 19 3/4 inches. It wasn’t all smooth sailing at first, however, as the Lakers had to throw in a few crates of Gerber’s Apple Sauce to ensure that Hayden would make a hand print on the contract.

Proud father Josh Powell, who already boasts a talented young daughter, Patience, with his wife Lauren, couldn’t be happier to welcome Hayden into the organization.

“I’m very proud I have two wonderful, beautiful girls,” said Powell.

Josh is just a tad bigger than his new daughter at 6-9, 240 pounds, but it’s already clear that his athletic instincts have been passed on.

“Sure, Hayden might be on the small side of the league, but she’s extremely agile,” said a source close to the team. “I don’t think anyone in the NBA can match up with Hayden size wise, though Nate Robinson may come the closest.”

“Yeah, I mean, I can’t think of any reason why L.A. doesn’t make that acquisition,” added Lakers radio voice Spero Dedes. “I think I speak for everybody when I say that we’re all excited to see how Phil Jackson employs Hayden into the rotation.”

Lauren, Hayden and Patience will hang out in New Orleans to gloat over L.A.’s 100-87 win for a few days, while Josh will return to join his teammates in Los Angeles heading into the Christmas Day game against Boston.

Welcome to the family, Hayden!

Daily Trivia: 2001 Draft

Today’s Trivia Question:
How many draft picks did the Lakers get in the 2001 NBA draft?
(Answer Here)

If you think you know the answer, login to Lakers Courtside Connection and see if you’re right. Then come back tomorrow to test your knowledge on Lakers history again, while making a run towards really cool prizes.

Lakers 100, Hornets 87: Postgame

Lakers HornetsAfter the Lakers dropped close games in Miami and Orlando and just squeaked out a win in Memphis, Tuesday evening’s drubbing of a Hornets team that had been playing great basketball in Cajun Country was certainly a confidence booster heading into the X-Mas Day showdown with Boston.

The 100-87 Lakers win was never in doubt thanks to an effort complete with defensive intensity, good ball movement and, more importantly, a consistently fiery competitiveness that had been lurking in the distance in recent weeks.

It was a team win in the truest sense of the word; Everybody chipped in:

Kobe Bryant took just 18 shots for his 26 points; Pau Gasol was fantastic with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting, with seven boards and three assists; Andrew Bynum was solid defensively with three blocks and seven boards, plus 13 points; Trevor Ariza had 10 points and two key steals; Lamar Odom had eight points, eight boards, five assists, a steal and a block; Sasha Vujacic contributed seven points and three steals in 11 minutes of feisty play; Vladimir Radmanovic hit a key second half three despite sitting on the bench for most of the game; Derek Fisher hit a few big shots in 39 more minutes and Luke Walton tossed a few slick passes the sparked L.A. in the early goings.

As a team, the purple and gold had just four turnovers after the first quarter, blocked six shots, grabbed seven steals, went to the foul line 32 times and held the Hornets below 40 percent shooting for nearly the whole game.

Instead of numbers, here’s what some of the players and both coaches had to say afterwards:

Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson
On the game: “I thought we sustained our effort against (Chris) Paul, trying to keep him out of the paint. I think the big deal is David West. We really wanted to get that match-up the right way, and Pau (Gasol) has done a good job on him before. I thought that really helped tonight. He’s a 20-point-a-game scorer, and we were able to keep that down a little bit. They obviously missed (Peja) Stojakovic tonight; we’re not going to make too big a deal out of it.”

On the second half: “I didn’t like our second half too much. I think our first half was very good, we played right, and we did a lot of good things. The second half, we got stalled up, they (the Hornets) did some really good defensive things, and we didn’t come out shooting well. But our defense held pretty strong.”

On the defense: “It was ok. There are still things that we’re working on about those easy baskets that we shouldn’t give up. We gave up a few of them. And there are still things that we’re working on about rebounds. They have to be gathered in; we have to get to that ball.”

Lakers Forward Lamar Odom
On the game: “We played up to our capability, though we feel like we could play better. I think we did a better job of closing it out. We tried to make it hard for them using our length, as well as our quickness. It was a good offense against a good defense. We had Pau (Gasol) be aggressive early. We wanted to come out and do it as a team.”

Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant
On the game: “We did a good job on our rotations, looking down lanes and getting to shooters. It was a good game for us. The last two times we’ve been here we had big leads and gave them away. We had to battle this one out. Even though they made a run, it felt good to keep them at bay where the game wasn’t threatened. We were in great rhythm.”

Hornets Head Coach Byron Scott:
“We got so emotionally involved in the game that we stopped playing against the Lakers and started moaning and groaning about every call. We got back to worrying about the team we were playing against in the end of the 3rd and 4th quarter, and started playing much better. As a young group we can’t get that emotionally involved in the game and we got to play better basketball.”

“Two of our worst games have been against this team. It could be us. It could be them. It could be both.”

Hornets Forward David West:
On the Lakers: “They just play aggressive. We had to work way too hard on the offensive end to get baskets. That’s basically what it came down to. We really had to buckle down and guard them on every single play. We made it easy for them to guard us.”

On if the Lakers present matchup problems: “They’re really disciplined. They come down and they really get what they want on the offensive (end) and they really make you defend them. It makes it really tough. A lot of times a guy is going to be out on an island by themselves.”

Hornets Guard/Forward Morris Peterson
On the loss: “We can’t come out and play like we did in the first half and then try to make it an uphill battle against a team like the Lakers. When I’m out there on the floor, I just try to concentrate on doing what I can to help. A lot of times, I am out there to try and spread the floor. Tonight we came up short. It’s a disappointing night for us.”

Lakers – Hornets 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.

Lakers: Jordan Farmar, D.J. Mbenga
Hornets: Peja Stojakovic, Antonio Daniels

Hello from New Orleans, folks. Four things you need to know:

A) The Hornets are without Peja Stojakovic and backup point guard Antonio Daniels. You can read more about that in the pregame entry.
B) In the locker room, assistant coach Frank Hamblen explained that in addition to the pick and roll defense, this game will be about dictating tempo. He said the Lakers do want to run particularly when Chris Paul gets stuck below the foul line on offense, but otherwise L.A. needs to feed its bigs and make sure to run the offense.
C) Morris Peterson is the only guard on the Hornets bench with Daniels out, and he’s 6-7 and not particularly mobile. That’s good for the Lakers in some senses, though it also means that Chris Paul will have to play 40+ minutes … Which isn’t good.
D) Josh Powell and his wife Lauren are expecting their second daughter, to be named Hayden, tonight in New Orleans.

Starting Lineups:
Lakers: Fish, Kobe, Luke, Pau and Bynum
Hornets: Chris Paul, Devin Brown, Rasual Butler, David West and Tyson Chandler

First Quarter
10:44 Gasol opens the scoring for L.A. with an elbow jumper, a shot the Lakers seem able to get out of the triangle.

9:44 After three straight solid defensive possessions for the Lakers (three Hornets misses from the field after Butler hit a jumper to open the scoring) led to a Bryant jumper in transition and a 4-2 early lead.

7:50 Bryant picked up his second foul on a loose ball, with the Hornets up 7-6. This will be the earliest entry point for Sasha Vujacic all season. A minute later, Vujacic would pick up a personal which could have gone on Bynum (that would have been No. 2) to put the Hornets in the bonus pretty early.

5:22 CP3′s steal in his 108th consecutive game resulted in a Butler lay-up at the other end and a 12-12 tie after Vujacic canned a three on a great pass out of the double from Gasol. You have to credit Vujacic for finding the open spot in the defense.

4:40 Bynum’s second foul came on Chandler, who’s not someone you want getting easy baskets since he’s a terrible free throw shooter (56 percent). Time for Lamar Odom. Speaking of Odom … I’m not sure people realize how strong Odom is, but after running into him and his strength trainer at consecutive road hotels, it’s easier to see how he occasionally handles big power forwards and centers. He’s a lot bigger than you think.

Continue reading ‘Lakers – Hornets Running Diary’

Stojakovic, Daniels Out for Game

L.A. isn’t the only team missing its backup point guard tonight.

We heard before the game that Antonio Daniels, whom New Orleans acquired from Washington on Dec. 10 for Mike James, will be out with a minor knee injury. Perhaps more significantly, the Hornets will also miss Peja Stojakovic, who’s inactive with back spasms. Peja’s spot in the starting lineup will be filled by Rasual Butler, who’s averaging 9.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in his last five games, while Devin Brown (5.7 points, 1.0 assists) will fill in at shooting guard.

The Lakers will of course be without the services of Jordan Farmar, who will undergo knee surgery on Wednesday.

Injuries aside, the bottom line on Tuesday is this: If the Lakers can defend the Hornets high pick-and-roll with Chris Paul effectively, they will almost surely win. If they struggle to contain Paul, the PG who’s putting up 25.6 points and 11.2 assists in his last five contests will lead his team to victory. It’s that simple. After all, the Hornets run at least half of their plays out of that set, as a visiting NBA scout told me before the game.

Check back in a few minutes for the running diary.

Powell Family Expecting New Baby Girl

Josh PowellGet ready for an understatement: Josh Powell has a lot on his mind … And Chris Paul driving into the paint during Tuesday evening’s game in New Orleans isn’t even close to the top of his thought list.

Let’s just say that Powell has something a bit more personal happening … He and his wife Lauren are expecting their second daughter tonight.

“I’m almost speechless,” an excited Powell told me before the game. “Her name will be Hayden Simone, and if she doesn’t come during the game, then after the game for sure.”

His wife Lauren, who’s from New Orleans, is in the hospital with family right now; the Powell’s first daughter, Patience, will soon be welcoming a new baby sister.

“That’s your family, so that’s always your biggest concern,” Josh continued. “But I’m (at the arena) because I want to support the team and I understand the mission that we have this year. I want to show my dedication towards my team, and then get to the hospital as soon as possible.”

Congrats in advance, Josh!

Powell will stay with his family in New Orleans tonight, and return to Los Angeles on Wednesday to rejoin the team.

Farmar Injury Update

According to Lakers spokesman John Black, Jordan Farmar will have surgery on Wednesday to repair the torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. Dr. Clarence Shields of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Group will perform the surgery.

Upon the conclusion of the surgery, the Lakers will issue a release with an estimated time for Farmar’s return.