Monthly Archive for October, 2009

Page 5 of 6

Walton/Gasol Out, Odom Game Time Decision

During his pregame meeting with the media Phil Jackson officially ruled forwards Luke Walton and Pau Gasol out of tonight’s contest against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Walton has been battling a slight hamstring strain, while Gasol has been experiencing minor back pain since early in the week.

Forward Lamar Odom will be a game time decision after suffering shin contusion in Thursday’s win over the Sacramento Kings.

Lakers Prepare for Shootout

Staples CenterAfter preseason games at their homes away from home (Anaheim, Inglewood & Las Vegas), the Lakers return to the friendly confines of STAPLES Center in downtown Los Angeles for games this Saturday and Sunday.

The Charlotte Bobcats, Utah Jazz and fellow STAPLES Center tenant Los Angeles Clippers will join the Lakers for the two day shootout event.

The Clippers and Jazz kick off the action at 4:30pm on Saturday with the Lakers hosting the Bobcats at 7:30pm (FS West/710ESPN).

Sunday’s slate features winners playing winners and losers playing losers with the Lakers locked into the 7:30pm start time against either the Clippers or Jazz.

Your ticket for each day is good for both games on the corresponding day.

If you don’t have tickets yet, visit Ticketmaster. SATURDAY | SUNDAY

Odom Suffers Contusion

Add Lamar Odom to the list of Lakers forwards that are nursing minor injuries as training camp hits the midway point.

Late in the first half Ron Artest and Sacramento’s Jon Brockman got tangled up under the basket, eventually kicking Odom in the shin as they fell to the floor.

Odom would briefly return to action in the second half before retiring to the locker room to get checked out by trainer Gary Vitti. He is officially being listed as day-to-day with a lower right leg contusion.

After the game Odom told Lakers.com’s Mike Trudell that while the shin was sore, he wasn’t overly worried about it.

Bynum Solid Early and Often in Lakers Win

Andrew BynumIf the first three preseason games are any indication, a major part of the Lakers’ first quarter offensive game plan is pretty simple: Let Andrew Bynum go to work in the paint.

On Thursday evening in Las Vegas against the Sacramento Kings, Bynum was dominant in a 16-point, four-rebound first quarter in what was ultimately a 98-92 Lakers victory, controlling the paint much like he did against Golden State in L.A.’s first two contests.

“I think that’s something that you’re going to see all year,” said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak from his courtside seat. “It’s always a focus to initially attack teams down low, and Andrew has that ability.”

“You have to be aggressive to start the game, because sometimes people come out relaxed,” added Bynum. “We know we can move the ball to the backside and (get those inside shots).”

Andrew BynumThe numbers suggest as much, as the first game against the Warriors saw the 21-year-old hit 4-of-5 shots and all five free throws for 13 points, plus three offensive boards (four total). The second contest, just two days later also against the Warriors, saw a less-inspired team effort produce 24 first quarter points. Ten of those points were scored by Kobe Bryant as Bynum chipped in four points and two boards on 2-of-4 shooting. Nonetheless, L.A. still looked for Bynum’s initial post ups, and he didn’t force anything. On Wednesday, No. 17 again hit all of his free throws (6-of-6 off fouls committed at the rim) and made 5-of-8 shots including two powerful dunks off alley-oops from Bryant and Derek Fisher, respectively.

“He’s completing at the basket,” said Phil Jackson. “I think he’s stronger. At times his defense has been really good (although) there are always areas to work on.”

Bynum has scored 33 points with 10 rebounds in three first quarters, though in fairness, the Warriors and Kings don’t exactly offer the league’s most threatening defensive frontcourts. Furthermore, Pau Gasol (hamstring, day-to-day) didn’t play on Thursday, affording Bynum at least a few more touches than he may get consistently. Nevertheless, Bynum will indeed get the ball often in the early goings, and L.A. will have trouble thinking of a reason not to feed him the ball when he’s this productive, particularly when he’s establishing such good post position.

“I need to focus all year long on being the first one up the floor on both (offense and defense),” said Bynum. “Because if I stay ahead of the ball and stay healthy I think the sky is the limit.”

As it turned out in Vegas, the Lakers looked for Bynum far less often as the game continued, producing just five additional field goal attempts in 20 more minutes (32 total as he played the entire first quarter), yet he still finished with a game high 24 points and eight boards plus a block. But the lack of late touches didn’t seem to bother him; on the contrary, Bynum understands that it’s his defense and rebounding that will increase in importance as games draw on.

“That’s when people are really going to come out and attack, especially if you have a big lead at halftime,” he concluded. “You have to shift your focus to defense.”

So, with a recipe made up of one part early offense and another late defense, Bynum is already looking much more like the January 2009 version of himself than what he was able to show in the playoffs due to his knee injury.

For the Lakers, that’s pretty good news.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
1 Injured shin for Lamar Odom, who was kicked as Ron Artest and Kings rookie Jon Brockman wrestled underneath the hoop. Odom missed the second half – though he tried to return but couldn’t run – and is listed as day-to-day. After the game, he said he was “sore,” but “fine.”

2 Three pointers made by the Lakers, one each from Sasha Vujacic and Ron Artest, to go with nine misses. Artest finished with seven points, seven rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes.

4 Steals from Kobe Bryant, two of which ignited explosive fastbreak dunks for the Finals MVP, the first of which featured No. 24 double-pumping the ball off his left shoulder. Bryant finished with 18 points, four assists, four rebounds and four steals as he entertained a highly-partisan Lakers crowd.

12 Game-high plus/minus rating for Bryant and Odom, no surprise the team’s best in that category throughout the 2008-09 season.

18 Margin for the Lakers after three quarters (85-67), until the Kings regulars cut the lead to as few as three with 1:45 minutes remaining in the fourth against L.A.’s bench.

26 Made free throws by the Lakers on 30 attempts for a solid 86.7 percent.

80 Percent shooting for Vujacic, who nailed 4-of-5 shots (the only miss was a full-court heave at the third quarter buzzer) as he continues to shoot the ball well early in the preseason.

Coach’s Preview: Kings

Walton, Gasol Miss Another Practice

Lakers Forwards Pau Gasol and Luke Walton sat out practice for the second day in a row Wednesday due to a slight hamstring strain and minor back pain respectively.

“There’s nothing defining for either one of them right now,” said Head Coach Phil Jackson. “Pau felt a little twinge when he was doing warmup exercises and what not.”

Both will travel with the team to Las Vegas for Thursday night’s matchup with the Sacramento Kings, but Jackson expressed doubt when asked about their ability to play.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF PHIL JACKSON AFTER TODAY’S PRACTICE

Gasol, Walton Sit Out Tuesday’s Practice

Walton GasolAll-Star Pau Gasol and reserve Luke Walton sat out Tuesday’s practice witih respective minor injuries.

Lakers spokesman John Black said that Walton was experiencing minor back pain, while Gasol had a slight hamstring strain.

Both players are listed as day-to-day.

Artest Opens Strong in Anaheim

artestThe Lakers knew what they were getting in Ron Artest before he was signed away from Houston in July, at least from a tangible perspective:

- A 6-7, 260-pound, muscle-bound frame.
- A well-rounded perimeter and post skill set that’s produced career averages of 16.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.1 steals.
- Numerous All-Defensive Teams (including a spot on last season’s Second Team) and a Defensive Player of the Year award.

Many of Artest’s physical traits were present in an all-too-easy 118-101 Lakers win over Golden State in Wednesday evening’s preseason opener, during which the Queens, N.Y. native produced 12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals in 23 minutes.

“He just plays hard, man,” said Shannon Brown. “He can hoop.”

Harder to measure was how Artest would gel with his new teammates, but early reports out of training camp suggested that the man with stints in Chicago, Indiana and Sacramento prior to Houston fit like Pau Gasol and soft hands. Standing out most clearly has been that ever-present energy alluded to by Brown.

Ron Artest“I try to always go hard, try to always play hard, I’ve been doing that for a long time,” Artest said prior to the game. “It’s the only way I know how to play.”

Preseason or not.

“You always want to give 100 percent when you play,” the St. Johns product continued. “You always try to find a way to take it up a notch, no matter if it’s preseason or regular season. The coach will be the one to minimize the importance of the game based on playing time. But as long as you’re out there, you gotta play.”

That he did, particularly on defense, showing some versatility in defending Warriors forwards (like Stephen Jackson) and guards (like rookie Stephen Curry). On the other end, particularly in the first half, Artest found himself left all alone – for the first time in several NBA seasons – on the perimeter. Of course, that’s what happens when Andrew Bynum is occupying the block, Pau Gasol is on the high post, Kobe Bryant’s lurking and Derek Fisher is spreading the floor from the corner.

“It’s going to be great throughout the year (to be that open), he said. “Over the last couple of years a lot of those shots have come off the dribble, with pressure, off down screens and that kind of stuff. It’s going to be a fun year.”

Indeed, he may have been too open as he missed his first three shots, but the fourth – for which he took an extra second to line up – swished through the net. Artest found other ways to contribute in the half, amassing four assists and five boards plus a steal in nearly 16 minutes of burn. Then in the second half, he found his stroke, hitting 3-of-4 as he began to find his spots within Phil Jackson’s offense.

“I haven’t worked in the triangle in a long time but now is about playing against other teams, and (I’m going to) learn fast,” he explained.

“Ron has a number of things he has to comprehend,” said Jackson. “We’ve kept it relatively simple, but we’ve added some things these last couple of days. We just want to see how he does.”

That’s to be determined as the season rolls on, though Artest did get his first taste of how just how good the Lakers can be, witnessing an array of dunks (like an absolutely viscious Shannon Brown hammer slam over Mikki Moore), threes (four in the third quarter) and effective defense that kept Golden State on the perimeter (to the tune of 36 percent shooting through three quarters).

“If you’re playing on a championship team, you’re just hungry to be on that team,” said Artest. “You want to get another one. You don’t think you can bring that much, you’re looking for guidance and help to get a ring. Maybe you don’t realize how much you bring.”

A near triple-double in 23 minutes wasn’t a bad way to start.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
45: Inches in Shannon Brown’s vertical jump, all of which the Anaheim crowd witnessed during his ridiculous dunk in the second quarter.

29: Assists for the Lakers on 44 field goals, led by seven from Ron Artest and six from Jordan Farmar.

20: First half points from Andrew Bynum on 7-of-11 shooting, including three dunks. He’d finish with a game-high 24 points along with five boards.

18: Lakers turnovers, a stat that tends to trend high in the preseason.

16: Steals amassed by an active Lakers defense, led by three each from Bryant, Farmar and Derek Fisher.

15: Rebounding edge for the longer Lakers (53-38), including 17 offensive boards and led by nine each from Bryant (who added 22 points in 26 minutes) and Artest.

4: Third quarter threes by the Lakers, from four different players.

Shannon Brown’s Dunk

Shannon Brown Dunk(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)

Shannon Brown over Mikki Moore

Lakers Guard Shannon Brown elevates over the Warriors Mikki Moore at the 3:44 mark of the team’s first preseason game of the year.