Monthly Archive for July, 2009

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Top Playoff Moments

TeamWe recently received this question from reader Chris:

Q: These are my top five moments of the Lakers 2009 postseason:
5. Kobe’s 40-point outburst in Game 1 vs. Orlando
4. Kobe’s dagger three-pointer in Game 3 vs. Denver
3. D-Fish’s three-pointer in overtime of Game 4 vs. Orlando
2. Ariza’s steal in Game 1 vs. Denver
1. D-Fish’s three-pointer in Game 4 vs. Orlando to force overtime.

What am I missing?
- Chris, Hermosa Beach, CA

Not a bad list, Chris. You’ve done your research.

While it’s tough to argue with the selections, it’s also pretty easy to throw in five more moments, all of which you can re-live by going through our Lakers Gameday Archive.

Here’s what we came up with to supplement the list:

1) Kobe’s ridiculous bounce-back Game 4 against Utah in Round 1. The eventual Finals MVP scored 38 points on 16-of-24 from the field a game after he had converted just 5-of-24 in L.A.’s Game 3 loss. That was L.A.’s first big test, and thanks to Kobe, they aced it like Will Hunting on MIT’s chalkboard.
2) Kobe’s end-of-third-quarter dagger triple in Game 3 against Houston, which built a 12-point lead and crushed Houston’s spirit in a must-win road game that would return home court advantage to the Lakers.
3) Lamar Odom’s back-to-back threes in the third quarter of Game 5 of the Finals that directly answered Orlando’s push to get within five points. They’d never get close again.
4) Shannon Brown’s ridiculous transition dunk over Chris Andersen in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against Denver. Completely changed the game’s energy.
5) Pau Gasol’s heroics late in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, including the game-tying bucket of regulation and the game-sealing and-1 bucket in OT, indicative of his clutch performance throughout the postseason.

If you have more moments you think should have been included in our lil’ list, feel free to let us know via twitter: @LakersReporter.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters Honors Lakers

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) reacted on Wednesday to passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of her resolution honoring the Lakers on their 15th NBA Title, H. Res. 566.

As the NBA Finals Champions, the 2009 Los Angeles Lakers are quite deserving of this honor the House of Representatives has bestowed upon them. The Lakers kept us on the edge of our seats all season, never failing to amaze us with their teamwork, talent, and determination … The effective leadership and talent of Coach Phil Jackson and the athleticism and team spirit demonstrated by Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Paul Gasol, and Trevor Ariza – a graduate of Westchester High School in my District – made for an unstoppable combination,” said Congresswoman Waters. “Like previous Laker greats such as Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Pat Riley, and of course Coach Phil Jackson who now holds 10 NBA Finals Championships, the players on this year’s team have cemented their place in the history books. Congratulations once again to the 2009 Los Angeles Lakers.

Voice of the Lakers in Vegas

Before L.A.’s final Summer League game, we ran into Lakers play-by-play voice Joel Meyers.

Meyers, in town to call games for and NBATV, offered his observations about Adam Morrison and L.A.’s Vegas crew and threw in a few food “joints” to catch back in L.A. over the summer.

Josh Powell Podcast: A Road Less Traveled

Josh PowellKobe Bryant knew he was going to star in the NBA from a young age, and fulfilled his destiny as a teenager after Jerry West and the Lakers traded for his rights.

Pau Gasol grew up thinking he’d be a doctor, but quickly grew to be so good at basketball that he realized he could play for as long as he wanted.

Lakers forward Josh Powell’s basketball story, however, was quite different.

He grew up outside of Atlanta, Georgia, as more of a football and baseball player, with just a touch of the orange ball on the side. A linebacker by trade, standing about 6-2, Powell had no visions of professional basketball. As in, zero. Not even on the radar.

Then, around the age of 15, Powell shot up four or five inches in height. With his spurt came a growth in his love for the hardcourt, and helped him make the Riverdale High School varsity team as a freshman. Long, year-round days at the gym ultimately pushed Powell to N.C. State, and though a modest freshman year didn’t necessarily put his name on an NBA scout’s watch list, Powell exploded towards the end of his sophomore year to earn a spot on the ACC All-Tournament First Team. Finally, the NBA didn’t seem so far away, and after hearing that he could be taken at the end of the first round, Powell decided to leave school after his sophomore year and make himself eligible for the 2003 NBA Draft…

… But he wasn’t drafted.

Thus continued a distant hoops road that found Powell all by his lonesome in foreign lands like Russia and Italy, and in domestic leagues about which you’ve never heard. To take us through his journey in more detailed fashion, Powell called into the Popcorn Machine from his home in North Carolina.

You can listen to the interview by CLICKING HERE.

Lakers Absent from USA Youth Mini-Camp

Kobe BryantKobe Bryant was the lone Lakers player to compete for Team USA in 2008′s Olympic triumph.

Yet it’s no coincidence that not a single player from the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Cavaliers, Magic or Mavericks will participate in Team USA’s mini-camp set to take place from July 23-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada. After all, the NBA’s elite teams feature established names like Bryant, Garnett, Duncan, James, Howard and Nowitzki, each of whom lead contenders for the league championship and whose teams don’t often feature lottery picks.

However, Oklahoma City, Memphis, New Jersey and the Clippers all have at least two players on the 23-man mini-camp roster, which highlights their collective place among the league’s developing teams. In fact, only two players on the squad were taken after the first round, both by the Utah Jazz: Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver. Most are high lottery selections like O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Jeff Green, Eric Gordon, Anthony Randolph and Josh Smith. Highlighting the group are 2007-08 Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant, 2008-09 winner Derrick Rose and 2009 No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin.

Former Laker and now Houston Rocket Trevor Ariza had previously been among those names, but he – along with LaMarcus Aldridge, Glen Davis and Brandon Roy – will not attend the mini-camp.

USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo, responsible for the roster, had this to say about the process:

While we look to continue to build continuity within the USA National Team program and continue to improve, in 2009 we will get a look at some of the top young NBA players who haven’t been involved in USA Basketball at the top national program level previously. Although some of these players have represented USA Basketball in the past, this is their opportunity to be considered for the next generation of players who will help make up the USA Basketball National program. As was the case in 2005-08, the roster for the national team program will be fluid in 2010-2012 and we will make adjustments to the roster each year to help insure we have the strongest program and the strongest teams possible.

The Lakers do feature three international players that are set to compete for their National teams in the coming Eurobasket Tournament: Pau Gasol (Spain); Sasha Vujacic (Slovenia) and D.J. Mbenga (Belgium). As for the Americans? Team USA’s senior squad will next compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championships from Aug. 28-Sept. 12 in Turkey.

Chucky Brown on Lakers Summer League

That L.A. managed to go 3-2 in Las Vegas with just one player assured a spot on L.A.’s regular season roster, the lowest of any team at the Summer League, was an impressive feat for SL Head Coach Chucky Brown and assistant Rasheed Hazzard. We spent a few minutes with Brown prior to L.A.’s final game to talk about Adam Morrison’s week (Morrison missed the final game with the stomach flu), Hazzard’s help with implementing the triangle and Brown’s pride regarding his team’s effort.

Morrison Misses Final Summer League Game

After a solid week of action, Lakers forward Adam Morrison sat out of L.A.’s final Summer League game due to the stomach flu.

With Morrison back at the team hotel, the Lakers competed hard – grabbing 12 offensive boards to help overcome offensive struggles towards a 40-40 halftime tie with undefeated Houston – but the lack of scoring proved to be too much in the second half of a 92-77 defeat.

Chinemelu ElonuHouston outscored L.A. 27-12 in the third quarter thanks in part to second round pick Chase Budinger, who dropped 25 points in 26 minutes for the game. Meanwhile, L.A.’s second round pick Chinemelu Elonu wasn’t bad himself, leading the Vegas version of purple and gold with 16 points plus eight rebounds.

The Lakers shot just 39.0 percent from the field, failed to make a single three-pointer and stayed in the game largely due to hustle on the glass, which netted 19 offensive boards and a 41-37 overall edge. Ben McCauley went for an 11 and 10 point-rebound double-double, while an efficient David Monds added 14 points off the bench plus six boards in 18 minutes.

As for Morrison: He finished the week with a 20.8 scoring average on 29-of-69 shooting (42 percent), including 8-of-19 from three (42.1 percent) and 17-of-19 from the foul line (89.5 percent). He was shooting 47 percent from the floor before struggling to a 5-for-18 performance in the team’s Tuesday win over Oklahoma City, but Summer League Head Coach Chucky Brown praised Morrison for drawing most of the Thunder’s defensive attention, which produced open looks for his teammates.

The former No. 3 overall pick also averaged 5.0 rebounds, tossed eight assists and notched three steals with two blocks, and looked to be fully recovered from the torn ACL that occurred prior to the 2007-08 season.

Podcast: ‘Sheed’s Summer League Wrap

Rasheed HazzardPrior to L.A.’s final game of the Las Vegas Summer League, we sat down with assistant coach/advance scout Rasheed Hazzard, who was charged with implementing the triangle offense and coaching up L.A.’s roster along with SL head coach Chucky Brown.

Hazzard detailed Adam Morrison’s week as the primary offensive option and looked ahead to his possible impact on the 2009-10 regular season, evaluated second round draft pick Chinemelu Elonu and went through the rest of L.A.’s Vegas crew.

You can listen by clicking below:

Lakers Stop the Thunder in Vegas

As we saw during L.A.’s fourth Summer League game in Las Vegas, each NBA franchise sending a squad to Sin City has a different goal, depending primarily on that team’s roster heading into the 2009-10 season.

The Oklahoma City Thunder (0-2) – a team building for what looks to be a bright future – falls among those squads eager for a first look at their first-round picks (James Harden and B.J. Mullens in this case), looking for an early indication of how they’ll fit in with the senior squad.

The championship-winning Lakers (3-1), on the other hand, sold their first two picks and, based on the minute distribution and the way the offense was run, were primarily interested in the health and form of signed-through-next-season Adam Morrison.

Morrison, who came into the game averaging 22 points in his previous three, again led the Lakers in scoring with 17 points, even though he needed 18 attempts to get there (5-of-18) in a come-from-behind 74-68 win.

“I wasn’t happy with how I played tonight, but I’m glad we got the win,” said Morrison, who added five boards, two assists and two steals. “Overall I feel pretty good and am glad to be getting some good minutes on the floor.”

Morrison, who said his health is no longer an issue, moved quite well in an active 34 minutes, and his stroke looked pure the few times he managed to find space against an athletic Thunder defense that keyed on him doggedly. At least six players on OKC’s Summer League roster will play for the big squad, which gave the Thunder a distinct edge in on-paper talent.

Still, the teams went back-and-forth through the first three quarters with the Thunder up five heading into the final period, but the Lakers outscored their opponents 23-12 in the period to steal the contest. L.A. turned it on in a big way in the final two minutes, highlighted by a 6-0 run capped by a Ben McCauley reverse lay-up with 24 seconds left that sealed the game.

“It was good to come out with a win using our team concepts,” said Lakers Summer League Head Coach Chucky Brown. “Adam is our best scorer, and we wanted to get him the ball.”

That they did, but OKC countered with Kyle Weaver – who started and guarded Kobe Bryant in the regular season – to chase Morrison all over the place. The former No. 3 overall pick out of Gonzaga saw frequent double and triple teams particularly when he got into the paint, resulting in a tough night from the field even as he kept his average at 20.8 per game in Vegas.

“They were doubling (Morrison), but I thought Adam did a good job,” said Brown. “I thought he got hit on the arm a few times … They just tried to take him away from us because he’s our biggest scorer.”

Though L.A. lacked OKC’s athleticism, they didn’t lack for effort, typified by second round pick Chinemelu Elonu’s game-high eight rebounds, plus 14 steals that signaled 23 Thunder turnovers.

“We wanted to turn up the defensive pressure in the second half, and we were able to do that,” said Brown, whose team opened the half on an 11-2 run and caused 12 of OKC’s TO’s in the second half.

That helped the Lakers overcome a poor shooting night all around (41.4 percent) even as OKC hit 52.8 percent of its shots, led by an excellent 9-of-14 for 23 James Harden points. Fellow rookie Mullens added 10 points, five boards and five blocks for the Thunder.

With that, both teams essentially got what they were looking for at the Summer League: A flash of young talent for OKC and a heavy dose of minutes for Morrison.

L.A.’s final game comes against Houston on Thursday evening.

Lakers Fall to Clippers in Summer League

Blake GriffinL.A.’s two NBA teams met for the fifth time in the last calendar year, with the Clippers winning for the first time after a regular season sweep by the Lakers.

Of course, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol weren’t in the building.

Instead, it was the Summer League backdrop in Las Vegas, where there wasn’t a great deal at stake in terms of wins and losses even as young players attempted to prove their individual worth.

Despite 20 more points from Adam Morrison – who’d averaged 23.0 in L.A.’s (2-1) two previous wins – the Lakers weren’t able to deal with the Clippers combination of No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin and last year’s lottery pick Eric Gordon in a 93-82 loss.

Griffin had little trouble with L.A.’s front line, bullying his way to 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting along with 12 rebounds; Gordon, who went seventh in 2008, added 21 points and three steals.

L.A.’s lone 2009 draft pick, Chinemelu Elonu, was productive in his 18 minutes. He scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds despite committing a game-high nine fouls (there’s no fouling out of Summer League games).

The Lakers shot a decent 44.3 percent from the field, but led by Griffin’s 73.3 percent, the Clips hit at an outstanding 57.1 percent … uh … clip … to make up for 20 turnovers, including five from Griffin. The Lakers made just 1-of-7 three-pointers, were out-rebounded by eight and committed 35 personal fouls in the loss.

The purple and gold has a chance to get back in the win column against Russell Westbrook, James Harden and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. will be in Las Vegas to cover all the action.