Monthly Archive for February, 2009

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Phil Jackson Practice Report

Phil Jackson spoke to assembled media at length on Wednesday evening, after the team returned unblemished from a trip through Minneapolis and Oklahoma City to improve to 47-10 on the season.

Here’s what the head coach had to say about games versus Denver and Phoenix, Shaq’s running game, and the play of Lamar Odom and Sasha Vujacic.

  • On Denver and Phoenix: “If you don’t play defense and just try to outscore teams like that, you’re going to get caught in a bind.”

    He went on to explain that Phoenix has had great success scoring since their coaching change (Alvin Gentry replacing Terry Porter), with the exception of their loss to Boston, because they’re “exactly like” the old D’Antoni running teams in Phoenix.

  • On how Shaquille O’Neal’s fitting in to the running game: “It looked like he was going the opposite direction for the first five or six minutes of that Boston game, but he seems to be running very well … It doesn’t fit his style of play, obviously, but he’s a great outlet passer.” Jackson said Phoenix will run and then wait to get O’Neal involved once he makes it down the floor.
  • On Lamar Odom: “He’s done really well until last night. He was awful last night … No, he’s played really well. We know Lamar is an exceptional ball player, and players thrive on minutes in this game.” Jackson said that stats can be misleading sometimes, but what they really need from Odom is his rebounding and passing, and in particular his board work on the offensive glass.

    It’s funny that Jackson said Odom was “awful,” because while he certainly wasn’t as aggressive as he’s been in recent games, he still managed to lead the Lakers in +/- at +21.

  • A reporter asked Jackson if he were concerned about Vujacic’s lack of scoring of late. Phil wasn’t: “He doesn’t have to force shots or score for us to be successful, so as long as he flushes out that role and plays his 12 to 16 minutes and gives Kobe the rest he needs, that’s great. Now if he has extended minutes and is playing 24 minutes and isn’t in rhythm with his shot and we need those shots, than we are concerned. But I don’t worry about Sasha. He’s over here shooting two hours a day almost every day and is neurotic almost about his shooting.”

  • Andrew Bynum: (Brief) Update

    Andrew Bynum - Trevor ArizaLakers center Andrew Bynum has progressed in his rehabilitation regiment to include cardio work on a stationary bicycle as well as on a Precor machine. The Precor machine simulates cross country skiing and is popular with athletes because it does not create any impact on one’s joints.

    There is no schedule for Bynum’s return, as he’ll simply progress on the rehab of the torn MCL in his right knee based on his response to the training.

    We’ll be sure to include updates as soon as they’re made available.

    Lakers 107, Thunder 93: Postgame

    Jordan FarmarThe weather in Oklahoma City Tuesday night offered some easy comparisons to what we’ve become spoiled by in Los Angeles: 75 and sunny, not a cloud in the sky.

    The talented but very young OKC Thunder squad, however, was reminded that their level of basketball wasn’t on L.A.’s level (OK … maybe the Clippers).

    A game that started and finished in blowout fashion was momentarily close when the Thunder took advantage of some lax Lakers defense late in the third and early in the fourth to go on a 15-2 run that cut L.A.’s lead to one, but Kobe Bryant’s 15 fourth quarter points quickly removed any upset hopes.

    Now, an odd statistic that generally doesn’t occur for the league’s top rebounding team proved not to matter: OKC outrebounded the Lakers 45-30, including 12-3 on the offensive glass.

    “Sometimes games just go like that, no matter how hard you’re going after boards,” said Josh Powell, usually a cinch for three or four offensive boards (he had one). “But we have to be more focused on protecting the big leads we get than just the rebounding totals.”

    Though the Thunder shot 41 percent to L.A.’s 53 percent from the field, they deserve credit for their board activity, but ultimately lost because they couldn’t get a stop.

    L.A.’s bench had its best game in the last several, getting 10 points from Jordan Farmar, eight from Trevor Ariza and four each from Powell and Sasha Vujacic, which helped make up for slow offensive games from Pau Gasol (14 points on 11 shots) and Lamar Odom (eight points on seven attempts).

    6
    Assists from Pau Gasol to lead the Lakers from the center position.

    21
    Team-leading +/- rating for Lamar Odom, no shocker since L.O.’s seemingly always at the top of the plus/minus list. Odom had just eight points and eight boards with five fouls, but was very effective defensively and off the floor during OKC’s 15-2 run that started at the end of the third quarter.

    30
    Points in the paint for a Lakers team that did most of its damage from the perimeter.

    32
    Points for Kevin Durant, a bit less impressive since he went off for 19 in the first half before taking only six times from the floor in the second, instead getting his money at the free throw line with eight makes. The league’s best second-year player added 10 boards and six assists in a very solid all-around game.

    39
    Personal fouls whistled by the refs, who seemed to determined to slow the game’s tempo.

    82.5
    L.A.’s winning percentage this season on 47-of-57.

    Lakers – Thunder Running Diary

    WaltonAs 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 – Thunder Running Diary/Postgame
    Lakers 105, Thunder 98: Postgame
    Lakers – Thunder Running Diary 2-10-2009

    Inactives
    Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Sun Yue
    Thunder: Desmond Mason, Malik Rose, DJ White

    Starters
    Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Lamar and Pau
    Thunder Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic

    First Quarter
    11:09 After Westbrook’s backdoor layup nearly incited a riot inside the Ford Center, Walton answered with an open baseline three to put the Lakers up a point. This here’s an extreme example of what we’ve seen throughout the season on the road: opponents truly getting up for the Lakers. Just add in some youthful vigor and a first-year crowd happy to have a team, and the noise level raises considerably.

    Luke Walton8:56 What I didn’t mention in that last paragraph is the energy in the building is a good thing for the Lakers, who seemed to lull along with a deflated Target Center in Minneapolis on Sunday. It showed after Odom’s triple put L.A. up 10-2 as the Thunder really struggled with their defensive rotations.

    4:46 Since the Lakers were scoring so easily off basic ball movement in the triangle, Kobe got a bit bored and leaked out into transition after a Gasol rebound. He then waited for Westbrook to sort of catch up before doing a modified 360 and throwing it down. It was more fun to watch than that description, and it put L.A. up 21-9.

    2:22 Some more of that youthful exuberance here in OKC shone through when Westbrook found Durant for a large one-handed alley-oop in transition, an opportunity Durant used to stare at the adoring crowd for a few extra seconds. Point being, it was a nice play, but the Lakers still led 23-16 and were scoring easier than Bo Jackson in Techmo Bowl.

    0:08 Jordan Farmar’s triple gave him a quick five points off the bench and pushed L.A.’s lead to 12, though Durant scored his 10th point on a last-second putback that made it 32-22 after one.

    0:00 L.A. shot 59.1 percent in the quarter, including 3-of-3 from Walton, while the Thunder struggled to 9-of-24 shooting.

    Continue reading ‘Lakers – Thunder Running Diary’

    Where Innocence Was Left Behind

    090224okc_header“We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.”
    - Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum

    090224okc_interiorOn April 19, 1995, the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil prior to Sept. 11, 2001 occurred when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The attack killed 168 people and injured over 800 in a horrible act of cowardice that lingers strongly over the Memorial. Beautifully laid out in the heart of downtown with a long, thin lake, two large rectangular structures and 168 individual chairs symbolizing each passed victim, the Memorial stands today to “Honor the victims, survivors, rescuers and all who were changed forever,” as stated at the site.

    Some Lakers staffers ventured to the site on Tuesday afternoon, hours before tipoff at OKC’s Ford Center, where L.A. would take on the Thunder for the first time in their building this season.

    “It’s just such a sad thing with no justification or explanation,” said assistant coach Jim Cleamons. “We have to be thankful for what we have.”

    If nothing else, visiting the site – a truly sobering experience – lent some perspective on the game of basketball that we’re all quite fortunate to watch and be a part of.

    MT Podcast: Five Topic Rundown

    Mychal ThompsonMy initials happen to be the same as Lakers radio commentator Mychal Thompson, but the MT in the title refers to him.

    Since the Clear Channel restructuring took Thompson off his “Loose Cannons” daily radio show on AM 570 KLAC (and since the Lakers are moving to ESPN 710 next season), he’s hasn’t had an opinions outlet outside of Lakers broadcasts.

    No worries, folks … We pinned Thompson down for 24 minutes outside our Oklahoma City hotel to talk about the following five topics:

    1) Washington State hoops and Mychal’s son Klay Thompson, a 6-6 freshman guard.
    2) College hoops vs. pro hoops
    3) Pro Wrestling (WWE focus)
    4) NBA player tag teams (Shaq and Ron Artest?)
    5) L.A.’s top five contenders in the West

    Here’s what MT had to say:

    Gasol Earns Second Straight P.O.W. Honors

    What we didn’t talk about with Pau Gasol in our extended interview was how L.A.’s center/power forward won his second consecutive Western Conference Player of the Week award.

    In joining Kobe Bryant with two such accolades this season, Gasol led the Lakers to a 4-0 record last week while averaging 20.3 points on 63.5 percent shooting, grabbing 10.8 rebounds, tossing 6.5 assists while blocking one shot per game. Pau’s terrific week was highlighted by his third career triple-double when he scored 12 points with 13 rebounds and 10 assists in three quarters of L.A.’s 96-83 win over Atlanta on Feb. 17.

    Here’s a rundown of Gasol’s four games between Tuesday, Feb. 17 and Sunday, Feb. 22:

    Feb. 17 vs. Atlanta: Put up his first triple-double as a Laker with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 96-83 win over the Hawks.
    Feb. 18 @ Golden State: Registered 24 points, 13 boards and five dimes in a 129-121 win over the Warriors.
    Feb. 20 vs. New Orleans: Contributed 20 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in L.A.’s 115-111 OT win against the Hornets.
    Feb. 22 @ Minnesota: Scored 25 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished five assists and blocked two shots as the Lakers defeated the Timberwolves 111-108.

    Among the players Gasol narrowly beat out was Lamar Odom, who was fantastic himself in averaging 18.5 points on 54.9 percent shooting, 14.5 rebounds, 3.25 assists, 1.25 steals and 1.25 blocks.

    Over in the Eastern Conference, Dwight Howard took home the honor by averaging 25.5 points, 15.0 rebounds and 4.3 blocks while leading the Magic to a 3-1 week.

    In the Rankings: Week 17

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

    NBA.com
    This Week: 1 | Last Week: 1 | Diff: N/A

    If you count the game he got hurt (and only played five minutes), the Lakers are 10-1 without Andrew Bynum. But their defense has fallen off a bit (as it did last year when he went down), from 106.4 in their first 45 games to 109.0 in their last 11. That’s why they’ve struggled to beat the Warriors, Hornets and T-Wolves.

    ESPN.com
    This Week: 1 | Last Week: 1 | Diff: N/A

    How deep is the league’s deepest team? The Lakers dumped Radmanovic and Mihm to save a little money and are still 9-1 in February … all without the injured Bynum. A four-point stumble at Utah is the lone blemish.

    SI.com
    This Week: 1 | Last Week: 1 | Diff: N/A

    If you don’t believe them when they say they can win a championship without Bynum, at least consider what others around the league are saying. “I think they are better without Bynum,” an Eastern Conference head coach said. “Look at the way the league is trending. The really good teams are the ones that play fast. This Lakers team plays really fast.” Bynum’s replacement in the starting lineup, Lamar Odom, continues to play well, having pulled down at least 14 rebounds in seven games this month.

    USAToday.com
    This Week: 1 | Last Week: 1 | Diff: N/A

    Who needed to make a trade? Lakers 4-0 this week.

    Average Ranking: This Week: 1 | Last Week: 1 | Diff: N/A

    Frosted Flakes, Medicine and Penelope Cruz

    Whether you’re talking about food, basketball, medicine or what have you, Lakers forward Pau Gasol generally has something interesting to offer.

    We caught up with the 2008-09 All-Star in his hotel room – while he was waiting for some pasta with marinara sauce (entrée No. 1), grilled chicken breast with mashed potatoes (entrée No. 2), a coke (he had plenty of water at shootaround) and a banana (for dessert) – to see what was on his mind:

    MT: Let’s begin with a no-nonsense question. What’s your favorite cereal?
    Gasol: Frosted Flakes. That’s easy. Also, Corn Flakes … with sugar. I guess that’s basically Frosted Flakes, but I started eating them when I was very young in Spain.

    To read the rest of the interview, head right here on Lakers.com.

    Shannon Brown Block Talk

    The other day before shootaround we caught up with Shannon Brown and talked about what his first two weeks as a Laker have been like.

    What we really wanted to get into though was his ridiculous block on Mario West. When we asked Shannon to break it down for us he said he hadn’t even seen it yet. How that’s possible I don’t know. If I ever do something half as cool I’d have watched it at least 100 times the next day. Maybe Shannon just expects to spread the awesome whenever he’s on the court. That’s fine, I’m down with that.

    Anyway, we fired up the video and played it for Shannon. Luckily we taped his reaction for everyone to enjoy. I’ll quote him when I say, “Oh Wow.”