Monthly Archive for January, 2009

Page 4 of 11

Lakers Set for Spurs

Lakers/SpursJanuary 14th’s showdown in San Antonio was one of L.A.’s most hotly-contested games of the year, the result of which was a 112-111 last-seconds lost to the Spurs when Roger Mason Jr. erased Kobe Bryant’s three-pointer with an and-1 play with 10 seconds remaining.

Let’s remind ourselves how it got to that point with a few segments from our running diary:

0:01, First Quarter An ill-advised play from the Lakers to close the quarter occurred as Gasol attempted to inbound the ball to Trevor Ariza, who let rookie George Hill jump in front of him for a steal. Instead of letting Hill heave up an attempt from half court, Ariza bumped him and gave Hill three free throws. The IUPUI product missed the first, but sank the second two that put San Antonio up 30-29 despite being outplayed by the Lakers.
This poor end to the quarter would become a habit for the Lakers.

5:05, Second Quarter Usually home teams don’t show replays of questionable calls that go their way, but that’s precisely what the AT&T Center folks did when Duncan got the benefit of the doubt on a Gasol swat. It was clean, but Duncan hit 1-of-2 free throws. Gasol answered with another jumper, his first points of the quarter, to make it 48-47 Spurs. Pau’s been very aggressive with Duncan guarding him for most of the game, backing down not at all
Another harbinger, as the refs probably didn’t need to blow the whistle on Fisher on Mason Jr.’s final shot, and then buried their sound makers when Ariza was tripped by Ginobili in the lane. But, of course, that’ll happen on the road.

4:13, Third Quarter Bynum, going right into Duncan, makes his second-straight shot in the paint to get to 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He and Gasol have now combined to make 16-of-24 shots (67 percent) against one of the league’s best interior defenses, though San Antonio still led by a point. This game is shaping up much like the Houston contest, with the Rockets playing extremely hard and shooting the ball great as the undermanned Lakers fought right back to stay in the contest until Kobe took over late. We’ll see if the second half of that action holds true…
Gasol finished with 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting, and didn’t get the ball nearly enough in the fourth quarter as he’d take only two more shots after this possession. Bynum was 9-of-15 for 18 points.

0:00, Third Quarter Yup. Ginobili, not to be outdone, nailed a three at the buzzer. Even more of a killer than his play-acting. Let’s give Manu full credit for the dagger triple, and take full insult for his gunshot wound to the chest. With that crazy sequence of nine points in 11 seconds, the Spurs took a commanding 95-87 lead into the fourth. The Spurs actually picked up their shooting in the third (57.1 percent) while the Lakers came back to earth (45 percent).
Ginobili was huge all game with 27 points in 30 minutes.

4:43, Fourth Quarter JPeezy again! What a time for Josh Powell to hit his third straight jumper. We’ve said all season that he’s very good from 18 or so feet in, though he hadn’t had a chance to prove it in pressure before tonight. Two-point game, 102-100, after L.A.’s 11-2 run, all with Fisher on the bench and Ariza/Odom helping Bryant in the backcourt. The crowd’s getting antsier than Hulk Hogan when walking towards the Venice Beach outdoor gym… (not sure where that random reference came from, sorry).
Anyone who wasn’t sure if Josh Powell could play ball was quickly proven wrong with a great fourth quarter stretch from L.A.’s free agent acquisition.

And the final 28 seconds:

0:28.0, Fourth Quarter Duncan, again on Gasol, again a hook and again a make. Spurs lead by one. Was it a mistake to take Bynum off Duncan? ‘Drew had done a great job in keeping Duncan out a few more feet than he got twice against the slighter Pau… The ball goes back to L.A., down one.
Bynum had doing a solid job keeping Duncan from getting position, and Gasol shouldn’t necessarily be expected to do the same. Yet and still, that hurt L.A. in the final two minute.

0:12.0 MAMBA! You know what that means. From three. Deeeeeep from three, a stone-cold pull-up for a two-point Lakers lead. Ridiculous.
Yeah. Just silly.

0:10.5 Roger Mason Jr., from just inside the free throw line, not only took contact from Fisher, but made the shot plus the free throw. One-point Spurs lead. That one hurts. Fisher had gone for the steal, missed the ball, and as he was off balance couldn’t get out of Jr.’s way as the two-guard rose up, drew contact and swished the baseline jumper. Plus the free throw.
In retrospect, it’s clear that Fish shouldn’t have gone for the steal.

0:00.8 Could Kobe do it again? No. After Bryant drew an aggressive double, he passed out to Ariza at the three-point line. Ariza took a dribble in the lane, and was called for traveling. Really tough not to get a shot up there, much like the Pacers and Rockets weren’t able to do in two of L.A.’s three last wins, particularly with Bryant hitting everything in the clutch of late. But Kobe made the right play, and Ariza simply couldn’t come through, as he may have been tripped but didn’t get the call on the road.
Tough play there, it probably should have resulted in free throws, but Ariza and the rest of us can understand why it wasn’t called.

Spurs win, 112-111 after an unreal comeback attempt from the Lakers in a game that could have easily doubled as a Western Conference Finals showdown.

You ready for the rematch?

Talkin’ Hoops with T.O.

Though his Dallas Cowboys haven’t played a game in three weeks, Terrell Owens has been right in the thick of the news cycle … Surprise, surprise.

Just this week, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, explained that Owens will not be released or traded this offseason, calling it a “non-story” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Soon after, from the stands of L.A.’s Thursday evening drubbing of the Washington Wizards, there was T.O. confirming Rosenhaus’ story line to TNT’s Cheryl Miller.

Terrell OwensWhile the drama and intrigue surrounding Owens – self-produced or not – continues to pile up in Dallas, we weren’t so much concerned with all that upon spotting T.O. hanging out in the tunnel connecting the STAPLES Center floor and Lakers locker room.

Nope … We just wanted to talk hoops.

So, if you’re more interested in hearing about Tony Romo’s pass-throwing ratio to T.O. and Jason Witten, or about Michael Irvin’s coming reality show that’ll put a player on the Cowboys training camp roster, you probably won’t enjoy the following video.

Owens instead gave us his opinion of Kobe Bryant the wide receiver, talked about his hoop game, offered a prediction for the coming NBA champion and more.

Lakers All-Star Picks … Plus Some Money

Deron Williams or Brandon Roy? Hedo Turkoglu or Andre Iguodala? Shaquille O’Neal or Al Jefferson? Hmmm…

Having completed my personal All-Star selections after the starters were revealed on Thursday night, I needed some outside expertise to make sure I hadn’t followed the wrong path.

So I called Money.

That’s Matt “Money” Smith (you know him well, you know his smell), the co-host of the now nationally broadcasted “Petros and Money Show” (PMS) that hits the airwaves locally on AM 570 KLAC between 4-7:00 p.m. Now, I first became a fan of Money’s NBA take while listening to him on “The Lakers Zone,” (where he handles pregame, halftime and postgame duties around the call of Spero Dedes and Mychal Thompson), and thus trusted he’d check and balance my roster.

As it turned out, we disagreed on just three of the reserves, settling in agreement on the other 11 players that will join the 10 voted-in starters in Phoenix. Here’s the original list, which includes individual statistics, team records and place in the conference standings plus selected “Honorable Mention” players who had excellent first halfs but didn’t quite make our squad. Below the list, you can check out where Money would have gone another way, and why.

TO CHECK IT OUT, CLICK HERE

Lakers 117, Wizards 97: Postgame

If there were a spell that the Wizards might have cast to keep the Lakers from blowing them out Thursday night at STAPLES, it certainly wasn’t executed.

Things were coming so easily for the purple and gold in the first half that only one of eight players* seeing at least 10 minutes of action shot worse than 50 percent individually. As a team, L.A. made 27-of-39 shots (69.2 percent), led by Andrew Bynum’s 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, to score the most points in any half this season and take a 72-47 lead into the tunnel.
*Kobe Bryant, who made 3-of-7 shots while trying to adjust to his injured finger.

Intent upon getting his rotations back in order after Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton had each missed time with minor injuries, Jackson went with his starters for the majority of the third quarter, at one time seeing the lead swell to 36 points.

Did we mention that it wasn’t close?

Bynum finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds in his second consecutive terrific effort (albeit against inferior low-post talent), four Lakers (Odom, Vujacic, Trevor Ariza and Vladimir Radmanovic) scored at least 10 points off the bench, and Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol would play 28 minutes each to power the Lakers to victory No. 34.

With Boston beating Orlando in the first game of TNT’s double-header, the Lakers once again own the league’s best record, which will be put to the test against a Spurs team that beat L.A. in the final seconds on Jan. 14 in San Antonio.

Until then, a few numbers:

4
Game streak snapped in which Kobe Bryant had at least 10 assists. In 28 minutes, Kobe managed five dimes, but to be fair, were his teammates hitting with more frequency off his looks the 10 may have come anyway.

12
Field goals attempted by Bynum and Gasol, respectively, to lead a very balanced Lakers attack.

28
Plus rating for Pau Gasol to lead all players.

29
Combined rebounds by Andrew Bynum in the last two games, after boarding had been a struggle for the 7-footer of late.

35
Assists tossed by the Lakers, led by eight from Derek Fisher and five each from Bryant and Odom.

Lakers – Wizards Running Diary

Running DiaryAs 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.

Previous Lakers – Wizards Running Diary/Postgame
Lakers – Wizards Running Diary 12-05-2008
Lakers 106, Wizards 104: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Jordan Farmar, DJ Mbenga
Wizards: Gilbert Arenas, Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas

More important than any pregame news (e.g. Phil likes watching really good teams play each other, and thus was on time for the Orlando-Boston tip tonight) is how Antawn Jamison’s iPod rolls: Louis Vuitton style. If you can think of one good reason why ‘Tawn wouldn’t have an LV iPod cover, I’d love to hear it. I’d also love to hear how jealous Lamar Odom will be once he finds out.

Starters
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Pau and Bynum
Wizards Mike James, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Dominic McGuire and Andray Blatche

First Quarter
Before we get started here, the big news around the league today was the announcement of the All-Star starters. Kobe will start his 11th-straight game alongside Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul and Amar’e Stoudemire on the Western squad. To be honest, the only player who’s even questionable to me is Stoudemire. I’d rather have Dirk Nowitzki or Gasol among the starters, personally, and will debate as much with Matt Money Smith tomorrow afternoon on Lakers.com.

10:12 Luke Walton cashes in on a perimeter jumper from Bryant, who’s looking to get to 10 assists for the fifth-straight game tonight. I’d bet on that if he plays 30+ minutes.

9:32 The first triple of the game goes down for Fisher, who came in 10th in the league in three-point shooting (43.8 percent). Meanwhile, the Wiz started out 0-for-5 from the field.

7:35 Gasol and Bynum hit for the Lakers, though the Wizards finally got some shots to drop with back-to-back threes from Butler and Jamison to make it 11-8 L.A. Speaking of Butler, his nickname is “Tough Juice.” Is there a better nickname in the NBA?

5:38 Six of Washington’s 11 shots have come from three, and the third one just went down for Jamison to cut L.A.’s lead to 16-13. Jamison and Butler were both All-Stars last year, and both continue to play at a high level, but without Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood in particular, they simply aren’t getting any help. Thus the nine wins, tied for the worst in the league with Oklahoma City and the Clippers.

4:10 In yesterday’s first quarter, Bynum put up 13 points. He just scored his eighth against the Wiz, on 3-of-3 shooting plus 2-of-2 free throws. Throw in six rebounds for ‘Drew, and he’s on his way to backing up his 42-point, 15-board performance last night against the Clippers with a solid effort.

3:06 Ouch. As Bryant drove into the lane, James just took a swipe at the ball while it was in Kobe’s hands. It’s hard not to cringe whenever a wayward hand slaps in Bryant’s direction.

2:00 TNT’s long timeouts give us a chance to talk about Boston’s 90-80 victory in Orlando, certainly a statement game of sorts for the defending champs. It would still appear that the Celtics could add a player or two to their bench, but we shouldn’t hear too much more about their brief slump as they’ve responded with seven straight wins.

0:27.0 Newly-checked in Sasha Vujacic opens his effort with a swished triple on Kobe’s third assist to put the Lakers up 31-24 heading into the second quarter. Vujacic almost always shoots better in a given game when he hits his first attempt or two (anyone care to look this up and send it into the Mailbag?).

L.A. shot a terrific 12-of-19 in the quarter (63.2 percent) and outrebounded the Wizards 12-5.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Wizards Running Diary’

Kobe Earns 11th Straight All-Star Start

Kobe BryantThe last time Kobe Bryant didn’t start in an All-Star game, “Friends” was only halfway through its 10-year run, the Florida Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series and Tupac Shakur had been dead for a year.

Behind more than 2.8 million votes, Bryant will join Tim Duncan, Amar’e Stoudemire, Yao Ming and Chris Paul as a Western Conference starter in his personal 11th-straight start. The MVP of the All-Star game in 2002 and 2007 was also the youngest All-Star in NBA history in 1998.

Leading the Eastern Conference will be leading vote getter Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade and Allen Iverson.

Bryant finished third among all players behind Howard (3.1+ million) and James (2.9+ million).

Clem Breaks Down the Wiz

Great basketball mind and Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons sat down to talk about the 9-32 Washington Wizards, who wrap up their season series with the Lakers Thursday night at STAPLES Center.

Cleamons highlights the importance of establishing Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the post against a team short on bigs, offers some tips on dealing with Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison and talks about Kobe Bryant’s injured hand.

Here’s the video:

Jackson to Coach West All-Stars

Phil JacksonThe Lakers 108-97 win over the Clippers on Wednesday night gave the Lakers their 33rd victory of the season. It also cemented Phil Jackson as the head coach of this year’s Western Conference All-Star team.

This will be Jackson’s fourth time coaching an All-Star team.

Here’s the press release:

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson will coach the Western Conference All-Stars for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, to be played on Sunday, Feb. 15, at US Airways Center in Phoenix.

With the Lakers’ 108-97 win over the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, Jackson and the Lakers (33-8, .805) have at least tied for the best winning percentage in the conference through Feb. 1. In the event that the Spurs and the Lakers have the same winning percentage through Feb. 1, Jackson would earn the spot to coach the West All-Stars since Gregg Popovich has coached an All-Star team most recently (2005). This marks the fourth time Jackson will serve as an All-Star head coach (1992, 1996, 2000).

Head coaches for the East and West All-Star teams are based on teams with the best winning percentage in each conference. Last year’s coaches – Boston’s Doc Rivers and New Orleans’ Byron Scott – are not eligible to coach in the 2009 All-Star Game.

Continue reading ‘Jackson to Coach West All-Stars’

Odom & Kershaw

The old adage is that athletes want to be rock stars and rock stars want to be athletes. Some ballers even want to try their hand at other sports, as we recently saw with Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom.

At practice on Tuesday a contingent of Dodgers’ prospects and officials converged on the Lakers practice facility for a chance to see how Phil Jackson puts his team through the paces. They also got to talk with Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and take pictures with Kobe Bryant.

Dodgers top prospect Clayton Kershaw was on hand and took some time to interact with arguably the biggest baseball fan on the roster, fellow lefty Lamar Odom.

Clayton throws gas, but can he hit the three-pointer when he needs to? Lamar has no problem boarding, but how would he fair on the mound? Would he be in the rotation or come out of the pen? Check the video above to see what kind of odds they gave each other.

Lakers 108, Clippers 97: Postgame

Heading into Wednesday’s contest against a Clippers squad missing its best four players, including the only three experienced posts on the roster (Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman and Zach Randolph), Andrew Bynum may have been licking his chops.

‘Drew’s previous career high was 28 points, but even that seemed a bit high since he failed to get to 20 points in his last four games.

Key word there: “seemed.”

On this night, Bynum was entirely unstoppable, smashing his way to 42 points on 17-of-24 shooting, including a plethora of dunks, not to mention 15 rebounds and three swats.

“He is a great player,” said Clippers rookie center DeAndre Jordan, who himself had a career-high 23 points. “He is big, when he gets in the paint he takes up a lot of space … He uses his arms really well and makes you get over him.”

Joining Bynum in the fun was Kobe Bryant, who put up his second triple-double in three games (and 16th of his career) behind 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Bryant has now amassed 45 dimes in his last four games – the most in any four-game stretch of his career – to creep into the league’s top 25 dimers.

The Clippers managed to stay in the game throughout the first half by hitting 56 percent of their shots to trail the Lakers just 58-55 at the break, though the purple and gold turned on the defensive clamps in the third quarter. In that period, the Clips hit just 6-of-17 shots (35.3 percent), half plus one as many as the Lakers (13-of-20) to essentially put the game on ice. The Lakers would lead by as many as 18 in the fourth before allowing the Clips to get within seven whilst trying to get Bynum to 40 points, but the game result was never in question.

The Lakers are back at STAPLES tomorrow evening, this time serving as the home team with the 9-32 Washington Wizards heading into Los Angeles for a TNT game before which the All-Star starters (including Bryant) will be announced.

Until then, a few numbers:

11.25
Average assists for Bryant in his last four games. Chris Paul currently leads the league with his 11.1 dimes per evening average.

19
Points for Lamar Odom in 28 minutes, a new season high. Odom scored 10 of his points in a three-minute stretch to open the fourth quarter, and added nine rebounds with three blocks.

23.8
Three-point percentage for the Lakers on 5-of-21, including a 1-for-8 collective effort from Trevor Ariza and Sasha Vujacic, who combined for just those three points.

24
Season-high field goal attempts by Andrew Bynum to get to his 42 points, as he missed only seven shots. Bynum also converted 8-of-11 free throws.

26
Rebounds grabbed for the entire game by the Clippers, while the Lakers collected 46. The Lakers had only nine fewer offensive boards than total boards from the home team.

31
Minutes played by Derek Fisher, his lowest total in 10 games (Golden State, Dec. 28, 25 min.).

70
Points in the paint for the Lakers, thanks in no small part to Bynum.

92
Shooting percentage by Clippers rookie DeAndre Jordan, who made 11-of-12 shots from the field, nearly all of which were two-handed dunks.

For more on L.A.’s 33rd win, check out our Gameday Page.