Monthly Archive for April, 2009

Walton “Absolutely” Expected to Play

Luke Street ClothesOn his way out of the practice facility, we caught up with Luke Walton to see how his ankle is feeling almost a week after he partially tore the deltoid ligament in his left ankle.

“I’m feeling really good,” he said. “I’m excited with how well my ankle’s responding and how much better it feels from day-to-day*.”
*Listen for yourself with the audio at the bottom of this post.

You did hear the word “absolutely” in there, though a specific date is (as always) not available. Nonetheless, Phil Jackson weighed in on Walton’s situation with this post-practice comment: “He’s happy with (his progress). Luke looks like he’s going to be a player who’s going to play in this next series, for sure.”

It was good ankle news all around in El Segundo, as Trevor Ariza called his a non issue, while even Sun Yue seemed fully recovered from his ankle sprain from a few weeks back.

Meanwhile, the Lakers will take Friday off, and resume practice on Saturday.

Playoff Podcast #7: Rasheed Hazzard

sheedAs the Lakers wait on the conclusion of the Rockets & Blazers series we wondered what things Lakers fans should be looking for in tonight’s Game 6. So we went to the man that’s seen them more than anyone, Lakers’ advance scout Rasheed Hazzard.

Hazzard has seen every game of the series live and gave us some interesting insights into what he’s seen so far.

As always, listen below or check out Playoff Central for everything else you need to know about this series.

Kobe has Top Jersey

Kobe Jersey 2Based on sales from the NBA Store in New York and online sales through NBAStore.com, Guard Kobe Bryant once again has the most popular selling jersey in the NBA. Bryant’s #24 jersey was also the most popular in 2006-07, before falling to second last year in the wake of Boston’s acquisition of Kevin Garnett.

Here’s the top 15:

1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
4. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
5. Allen Iverson, Detroit Pistons
6. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
7. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
8. Nate Robinson, New York Knicks
9. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
10. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
11. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
12. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
13. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
14. Shaquille O’Neal, Phoenix Suns
15. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets

The Lakers also were the most popular team in overall merchandise sales.

Fans continue to demand Los Angeles Lakers merchandise as the team tops the NBA’s list of most popular team merchandise. Lakers merchandise has been the most popular among fans for six out of the last seven seasons. The Celtics fall to No. 2 after holding the top spot for the first time during its 2008 championship season. The New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls round out the top five.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Boston Celtics
3. New York Knicks
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Chicago Bulls
6. New Orleans Hornets
7. Phoenix Suns
8. Miami Heat
9. Detroit Pistons
10. San Antonio Spurs

Head over to Lakersstore.com to get all your official Lakers gear.

Our Twitter Contest Winner

On Monday we ran our first contest on Twitter, giving away a pair of tickets to the first of our followers that could find Mike Trudell and myself having lunch. @bryanz got there about three minutes after we gave the final location clue. For his efforts he got to see the Lakers close out the Jazz in Game 5. Here’s his story in his own words.

Since this is my story about winning tix via Twitter, I’m retelling it in < 140 character increments.

I live in Marina Del Rey and had to pick up a friend from LAX at 2:15. At about 1:30 on Monday I saw this come across Tweetdeck:

@bryanzLakers Reporter Mike Trudell & I will be getting lunch in El Segundo. 1st person to find us and say “Playoffs” will win. More clues coming.

What better do I have going on? El Segundo is 15 minutes away. Hopped on Yelp! to find the best places to eat lunch for some clues. >:)

Grand Ave. has a ton of hits, heading there. Grab the Blackberry! Taking Lincoln to Sepulveda, past LAX, then down into El Seg.

In the car, just made a right onto Grand and passed Chipotle. Mmmm… Chipotle. I’d eat lunch there and this is a crapshoot. Any updates?

At 1:55pm: This is where we’re at in El Segundo, come find us & say “playoffs” http://twitpic.com/44c1t

Carl’s Jr?!? Where is that? Google Maps on Blackberry = Miracle worker! There’s a Carl’s Jr. a quarter mile from here. *tires peeling out*

Continue reading ‘Our Twitter Contest Winner’

Wednesday Practice Report

We had the camera set on Andrew Bynum and Derek Fisher following a modified, extra light practice day at L.A.’s El Segundo facility. While some of the younger Lakers engaged in some

Bynum talked about keeping himself in shape with extra work, his mindset heading into the second round and what limitations he’s feeling primarily due to what he says is his bulky knee brace. More than anything else, Bynum said he’s simply excited to get back on the floor and erase what was a forgettable personal series against Utah.

Fisher delved into the advantages of watching a future opponent (be it Houston or Portland), about not caring which opponent is next in line and such.

CLICK HERE to watch the videos.

Playoff Podcast #6: Lakers.com

More playoff talk on the podcast. Today we focus on the Lakers finishing off the Jazz, talk about the other series, Trudell gives out some awards and as always, finish it off with some talk that has nothing to do with basketball.

As always, listen below or check out Playoff Central for everything else you need to know about this series.

Laker Memories

Mitch Chortkoff, who covers the Lakers to this day, began writing about the team for the LA Herald-Examiner in 1968. He often sits alongside Lakers.com during games in the middle press row, providing occassional but always astute points about the game. Before he began covering the Lakers, Chortkoff served as the Lakers PR Director.

His best friend of 40 years died last week, and Chortkoff wrote a poignant piece about his life with her, as it mirrored some Lakers history.

You can read it by CLICKING HERE.

Utah Series Wrap: Coming Soon

We’ll have a full report from L.A.’s 4-1 first round series win over the Utah Jazz, complete with links to each running diary and postgame story, a player-by-player breakdown of each Laker on the roster and an interview with Andrei Kirilenko highlighting an opposing player’s view of the Lakers.

Just check Lakers.com later tonight.

Lakers 107, Jazz 96: Postgame 5

OdomFor a group that generally prefers hip hop music, the Lakers had heard enough Jazz over the last two weeks.

But after Monday night at STAPLES Center, the purple and gold finally buried the saxes and trumpets, holding on in the end after Utah’s subs took advantage of a drop in energy to go on a 13-0 fourth quarter run that cut a 20-point lead down to just six with 3:15 remaining.

Perhaps fittingly, it was Lamar Odom that finally put the nail in Utah’s stubborn coffin, leaking out in transition after back-to-back stops, catching a Derek Fisher bounce pass and throwing down a left-handed dunk to put the Lakers up 98-89 with 1:32 to play.

“With Lamar you can drop him anywhere and he’s going to be effective,” said Kobe Bryant of his teammate who replaced an ineffective Andrew Bynum in the starting lineup for games four and five. “He’s just a big key for us.”

Big key, indeed, as witnessed by his 26 points, 15 boards (five offensive), four assists and three blocks, building his series’ averages to 18 points and 11 boards. Meanwhile, Bryant followed up his 16-for-24, 38-point performance by hitting 10-of-21 shots and adding four steals and three assists, while Trevor Ariza fought through an ankle sprain suffered in Utah to contribute 12 points, seven boards, four assists and two blocks.

Those stats, and some help from a Pau Gasol double-double (17 and 11) added up to one thing: Round 2.

The Lakers earned what should be at least five, if not six days rest pending the conclusion of the Houston – Portland series (which Houston leads 3-1 but must take into Portland for Game 5), their reward for outlasting a gritty Jazz team that certainly wasn’t only the eighth best in the Western Conference.

“Well, we out did them,” said Phil Jackson. “I thought it was a disappointment to them but they played hard; they played together and you have to give them credit. I thank them for giving us a run and a good, hard series.”

Surely, the Lakers are thankful that they don’t have to go back to Salt Lake City for a Game
6. After all, they’d heard enough Jazz.

Postgame Numbers
6
Assists for Deron Williams, half of what he’d been averaging coming into Game 5.

7
Kobe Bryant’s ranking on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list. In the first round, Bryant passed both Hakeem Olajuwon and John Havlicek, and now has 3,786 postseason points.

12
Straight wins for the Lakers over the Jazz at STAPLES Center.

22
L.A.’s biggest lead, which came early in the fourth quarter.

40.2
Utah’s shooting percentage, including a 4-for-12 effort from Deron Williams, who finished with only 14 points. Paul Millsap was Utah’s most effective scoring option, as he made 6-of-11 shots for a team high 16 points.

95
Points put up by L.A.’s starters. Derek Fisher, with nine points, was the only starter not to hit double digits.

Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 5

Game 5Read about the Lakers vs. Jazz game as it unfolds. 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.

Game 1
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 19, 2009
Lakers 113, Jazz 100: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 21, 2009
Lakers 119, Jazz 109: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 21, 2009
Lakers 86, Jazz 88: Postgame

Game 4
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 23, 2009
Lakers 108, Jazz 94: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton*, Sun Yue
Jazz: Morris Almond, Kyrylo Fesenko, Kosta Koufos
*Walton sprained his ankle in Saturday’s win, partially tearing the deltoid ligament. He’ll be re-evaluated in a week.

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom and Gasol
Jazz: Williams, Brewer, Kirilenko, Boozer and Okur

Pau gasolFirst Quarter
12:00 Guess where the “Utah Sucks!” chants start? Um, yup, the 300 level. Nice. Meanwhile, “I Love L.A.” isn’t necessarily as much of a adrenaline pusher as “Welcome to the Jungle,” but it’s definitely better than Utah’s four songs in one minute.

11:13 Bryant countered a Brewer jumper with one of his own. Kobe missed his first look in his 5-for-24 Game 3 and made his first in his 16-of-24 Game 4. Just saying. Gasol followed with a hoop, though Utah got a good sign when Okur made a jumper (he was 0-for-3 on Saturday).

8:10 Noticing that Boozer had gotten switched over on him, Bryant immediately burst past the power forward, took off for a big dunk and drew a foul in the process. His two free throws made it 8-6 Lakers.

6:58 Okur did what he did in the regular season by nailing a three. Looked like the Lakers would have to guard the Turk, who nonetheless saw Paul Millsap come off the bench.

5:05 Maybe that would get ‘em going? Bryant tossed an alley-oop to Gasol in transition, which produced the crowd’s biggest yell and preceded an Odom triple that put L.A. up 15-14. Fisher then capped a 7-0 run courtesy of Gasol’s hand off, and the Lakers had a lil’ mojo goin’.

2:58 Yet Utah answered with two quick buckets, and the crowd volume was somewhere like what the noise level would be in a room full of high schoolers taking the SATs.

1:18 L.A.’s sixth turnover of the quarter allowed Brewer a breakaway dunk that put Utah up 22-21 moments after Ariza swatted Williams to produce and Odom fastbreak layup.

0:44.0 I guess his ankle’s feeling OK … Ariza followed an Odom miss with a furious two-handed dunk.

0:24.4 Gasol made a great play, saving a lob pass with one hand and directing it to Vujacic, which the Slovenian used to hit an open three. Williams, however, cradled the ball back and forth as only he can before pulling up for a game-tying jumper heading into the second quarter.

As a whole, it wasn’t the best quarter for the Lakers, who picked their spots on offense and conceded a few too many open looks on defense, but like in games one and two, they seemed to possess an ability to take their game to a level that Utah couldn’t match outside of Salt Lake City.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 5′