Monthly Archive for November, 2009

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Luke Walton Injury Interview

Luke WaltonBefore the third quarter of L.A.’s win over Detroit on Tuesday, Lakers forward Luke Walton talked to beat reporters about his sore lower back, which is expected to keep him out of action for at least six weeks.

On how it happened:
Walton: It was similar to what happened in the preseason, and I came back and it was feeling great. Then I felt a little bit of stiffness in the back, and it got worse and worse every day. There was a little pinch sensation in that back area, which I guess is a pinched nerve, and they said to pretty much shut it down and get all the swelling out of there. Hopefully this time will be the end of it when I come back.

On if he’ll be back by the first of the year:
Walton: I want to be back as soon as possible. Last time they wanted me out longer, but as soon as the back started feeling good I was begging them to let me start playing again, and they did. Obviously that was a mistake, I guess I wasn’t ready yet. But it’s frustrating to have to sit here and watch all the games; I was feeling good out on the court and having fun, but once the back goes it makes it really hard to play at this level when you can’t really move, cut and play defense the way you would like to. I’m going to let them tell me when to play this time, because last time I think I rushed it a little too quickly.

On when he first hurt it:
Walton: If I had a schedule in front of me I could tell you … but it was probably about a week that it’s been pretty bad.

On if he can do rehab:
Walton: Right now we’ve shut it down to where I’m not doing anything, until I can take the anti-inflammatories, work with (L.A.’s training staff), get the swelling down and depending on how bad it is get an injection or something like that. And then once it’s feeling better, do a couple hours of rehab every day on getting everything else strong so that when I come back, hopefully it will be ready to handle what it takes to play an NBA season.

On how long before he can resume rehabilitation exercises:
Walton: It all depends on once the low back feels better, once the muscles aren’t grabbing me every time. I can’t bend over and tie my shoe right now, that’s how tight the muscles are in the back. So once that all starts feeling better, everything’s calmed down, then we’re going to hit the rehab extremely hard.

Pau Gasol & Tennis Pro Sam Querrey

Pau Gasol - Sam QueeryPau Gasol can make even the very tall look average, as he does here with 6-6 American tennis pro Sam Querrey.

Querrey, a native of Thousand Oaks, California, currently lives in Santa Monica and was pictured with Pau (a friend of Rafael Nadal’s) at Tuesday’s Lakers – Pistons game.

The third ranked American player, Querrey reached a career-high ATP rank of #22, achieved on August 31, 2009. He also is the owner of the most consecutive aces award since the ATP began keeping those statistics, with 10.

Speaking of aces … I have a feeling Gasol would be able to drop a few bombs into the service box.

Kobe Closing in on Kareem

Kobe Bryant - Kareem Abdul-JabbarWith Kobe Bryant’s blistering scoring start to the 2009-10 season, he’s now only 16 points away from passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for second on the Lakers all-time scoring list.

Bryant, who has hit the 40-point mark four times already in his first 11 games to equal the four total times he hit that plateau last season, is leading the league with a 31.0 points per game average.

The 2009 Finals MVP has scored 24,161 points in his Lakers career, while Abdul-Jabbar’s Lakers mark stands at 24,176. After Kareem, Bryant has Jerry West and his 25,192 points to look forward to. While No. 24′s scoring average could take a slight dip while his assists rise with the return of Pau Gasol, Bryant would potentially surpass the Logo in early February.

Abdul-Jabbar, the league’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, notched 14,211 points in his first six seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks. Mr. Clutch ranks 14th on the list, and Bryant 16th.

Third Time’s A Charm

58946119Since the acquisition of Pau Gasol on February 1, 2008, the Lakers had yet to lose three consecutive games.

They’d lost two-straight on eight different occasions, but never thrice.

That’s a fact talked about throughout the week by reporters around L.A.’s practice facility …but L.A. had actually already won the next game after dropping two without Gasol twice, first against Dallas and then Washington in March of 2008 when the Spaniard was out with a sprained ankle.

Thanks to the 100th 40-point performance of Kobe Bryant’s outstanding career on Tuesday at STAPLES Center against Detroit, you can make that three times.

Gasol still in dress clothes due to a hamstring strain (yet looking to return in L.A.’s next game, on Thursday), the Lakers utilized pre-groin-tweak-looking Kobe and some swarming team defense to burst to a 25-point lead after three quarters. Detroit managed to cut to just seven late in the fourth before ultimately falling by 13 when Bryant swished a 28-foot three to get to his 40 (he’s good) on the final shot of the game. Guess the groin was OK?

“I wanted to come out and have a good game and have people stop asking about it,” he said.

Forty points surely did the trick, and led by No. 24, the purple and gold can still make the claim that you may get ‘em once, and maybe even twice, but definitely not three straight times.

58945900“(Losing) two in a row means something,” Phil Jackson had said after Monday’s practice. “One game is really a bump in the road for this team and they feel it. Two is an embarrassment. Three we don’t even want to think about.”

They won’t have to think about it, at least until the next two-game losing streak, which happened four times in 2008-09.

“Some of that is just talent and some of it is resiliency of the team that comes back,” said Jackson. “They were embarrassed with the losses and they want to feel good about themselves so they worked hard to change that.”

The tide of this one turned with L.A.’s first substitution late in the first quarter, when Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown checked in to match Detroit’s small lineup and produced a collective 11 points, two assists and two steals during a stretch that saw a 17-10 Pistons lead morph into a 48-36 Lakers edge with three minutes left in the second quarter (57-42 at the half).

“You’ve got to credit them,” said Pistons head coach John Kuester. “They played awfully hard, they were the aggressors.”

This was a welcome sight for the Lakers, whose bench struggled just as Bryant did in the team’s previous two games. Yet like the bench, Bryant turned things around in immediately after missing his first four shots by sinking eight of his next 10 for a game-high 21 points at the break, then converted 6-of-8 in the third to push L.A.’s lead to 88-63.

58944803“We played a couple of good periods in this game tonight and we sustained the effort at the end,” said Jackson. “I was pleased with the ball movement and the way we played in the first course of the game.”

The Pistons refused to quit, however, chipping away at L.A.’s lead first with a 9-0 run to start the quarter before getting it to seven with 1:55 remaining by outworking the Lakers second unit, drawing Jackson’s disdain. But it was too little, too late on this night.

L.A. has a chance to start a winning streak when the Chicago Bulls come to town, and perhaps more importantly, they expect to get their 7-foot power forward back in the process.

Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
1,049 Career coaching wins for Phil Jackson, pushing him past Charlotte Bobcats head coach Larry Brown for 5th on the NBA’s all-time coaching list.

65 Points scored by the Lakers in the second and third quarters, to 41 from Detroit. Kobe Bryant had 27 in that mid-game stretch.

44 Career double-doubles for Andrew Bynum heading into this season. Thus far in 2009-10, he already has eight double-doubles in nine games after posting 17 and 12 against Detroit.

24 Points off the bench for Pistons backup guard Will Bynum, who helped Detroit close the gap to seven points late in the fourth as Jackson put Bryant back into the game.

12 Edge on the glass for the Lakers, including a 25-15 margin in the first half.

8 Of lots of things for Lamar Odom, including eight rebounds, assists and points in 29 minutes.

New-Look Pistons in L.A.

Ben Gordon - Will Bynum - DetroitWhen the 2003-04 Pistons defeated the Lakers 4-1 in the NBA Finals, this was Detroit’s starting lineup: PG – Chauncey Billups; SG – Richard Hamilton; SF – Tayshaun Prince; PF – Rasheed Wallace; C – Ben Wallace

When the 2009-10 Pistons come to L.A., the lineup looks quite a bit different: PG – Rodney Stuckey; SG – Ben Gordon; SF – Jonas Jerebko; PF – Charlie Villanueva; C – Ben Wallace

Not only with the starters, but because General Manager Joe Dumars has retained only six players from the previous season, and Ben Wallace isn’t one of them. He was acquired in the offseason after spending the previous four seasons alternating between Cleveland and Chicago, and played his way into head coach John Kuester’s starting lineup. The other ’04 holdovers – Hamilton and Prince – have been battling respective injuries and played in only four combined games (three for Prince) as Detroit has opened 5-5 (2-3 on the road).

To get an idea of what this crew of Pistons’ is about, we enlisted assistant coach Frank Hamblen.

Luke Walton Injury Update

58901338Lakers forward Luke Walton, who did not play in last night’s game against the Rockets, was today was diagnosed with a pinched nerve and is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks.

Here’s the release from the Lakers PR staff:
Lakers forward Luke Walton was examined today by back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins and has been diagnosed with a pinched nerve. Walton is expected to be out a minimum of six weeks.

Gasol Guest Stars on “CSI: Miami” Tonight

CSI: MIAMIPau Gasol successfully made it through a full practice on Monday.

But how will he do on television?

You can watch for yourself when L.A.’s seven-foot All-Star follows up last season’s “Numb3rs” appearance by guest starring on “CSI: Miami.” The show begins at 10 p.m. on CBS, with the following plot line (via CBS):

The CSIs investigate a horrible car crash to discover who or what caused it. The probe reveals the darkest secrets of the drivers involved. The NBA’s Pau Gasol guest stars as a person of interest in the case.

Lakers Fall To Rockets at STAPLES

58925998While the Lakers were struggling in Denver last Thursday night, Rockets forward Shane Battier was with his team in Sacramento watching on television, apparently lamenting the score.

He figured the Lakers, annoyed with the big loss, would bring a little bit extra when the 2008-09 Western Conference Semi’s opponents locked horns. As if to specifically prove Battier’s point, the Lakers stormed out to a 16-2 lead on Sunday’s contest at STAPLES Center.

Yet L.A. also knew something about Houston.

The Rockets are an especially gritty team, as they showed last season in the Western Conference Semis and 11 days ago in a one-point, OT Lakers victory in Houston. As if to prove that point, the Rockets stormed right back into the game, climbing to within three points (24-21) before L.A. ended the quarter up 29-23.

Whatever burst the Lakers had out of the tunnel simply never came back, the Rockets outscoring the home team 49-37 in the second half to hand the Lakers their second home loss of the young season.

“It was a great game for us,” said Houston head coach Rick Adelman. “They jumped all over us (to) start the game and then we got our composure and got back in it. The whole second half was terrific.”

58926119In the third quarter, the Rockets had ridden the (red) hot hand of Aaron Brooks to a 28-19 spread that featured a 12-0 run, including three triples from the diminutive third-year guard. That gave Houston an 80-73 edge heading into the fourth, and new Rockets acquisition David Andersen promptly gave the visitors their biggest lead of the game to that point with back-to-back buckets to open the final period.

The Lakers never really got back into it from then on, watching their shooting percentage dip to just 38.1 percent for the game on 32-of-84 from the field. Kobe Bryant managed to hit just 5-of-20 and Derek Fisher 3-of-13, and while Andrew Bynum was again solid with 21 points and 11 rebounds, he only took 12 shots (making eight). Perhaps the stat of the game, however, was Houston’s 60-38 dominance of the backboard.

“(The Rockets) pursued the ball really well,” said Phil Jackson. “They just chased it. I was upset at halftime, I thought (we) forced shots. In the second half, (we) had wide open shots, much better shot selection, but (we) didn’t make shots.”

Some light was shed upon Bryant’s uncharacteristic effort when it was learned that he was dealing with a strained groin originally suffered on Sunday, Nov. 8 against New Orleans, which he tweaked in the first quarter*. Yet Bryant said he didn’t plan on missing any games, and looked forward to practice (and treatment) on Monday.
*CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL BRYANT INJURY UPDATE.

Ron Artest added 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting with three triples, plus six boards and three steals, while former Laker Trevor Ariza (who received his ring from Bryant and Fisher in a pregame ceremony) struggled to a 2-of-12 from the field offensive night, but was terrific on defense behind four steals, two blocks, eight rebounds and the stalking of Bryant.

L.A. has a chance to get back in the win column on Tuesday against Detroit, aiming to avoid losing for three consecutive times for the first time since the team acquired still-missing Pau Gasol (hamstring) in February of 2007.

In other news, Luke Walton missed the game with a sore back, and will be re-evaluated on Monday morning.

Until then, your numbers:

58926311POSTGAME NUMBERS
60 Rebounds for Houston to L.A.’s 38, giving the Rockets a commanding 22-board edge including a 13-6 win on the offensive glass.

45 Bench points for Houston, including 19 for Australian center David Andersen, 15 for Carl Landry and 11 for rookie Chase Budinger.

33.3 L.A.’s shooting percentage in the second half on 11-of-33. They made only 32-of-84 (38.1 percent) shots for the game.

25 “Is that Chris Rock” jokes that came into my Twitter account (@LakersReporter) referring to Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks, who torched the Lakers with a regular season career-high 33 points.

9 Combined blocks for both teams in the first 7:11 of the game.

5 Lakers turnovers in the first half, helping them overcome 41.2 percent shooting and the concession of six offensive boards.

Kobe Bryant Injury Update

58926405Kobe Bryant left L.A.’s 101-91 Sunday evening loss to Houston with 2:12 to play in the fourth quarter due to a strained groin originally suffered in a win over New Orleans on Sunday, Nov. 8. Bryant said he tweaked the groin in the first quarter against the Rockets.

“I’ve felt better,” he said after the game. “It’ll be all right though. You just treat it, try to work through it, practice tomorrow and play through it a little bit, see how it goes.”

Phil Jackson said in his postgame press conference that Bryant had skipped L.A.’s three days of practice leading into Thursday’s loss at Denver, when he made 7-of-17 shots for 19 points in three quarters. Against Houston on Sunday, Bryant again struggled to get his usual lift, making 5-of-20 shots towards 18 points.

While Bryant failed to use his groin to explain his poor shooting (“You know I don’t make excuses”) he did admit that a strained groin can affect “running, changing direction, pretty much everything,” adding that one simply had to find a way to fight through it.

Bryant said he did not plan on missing any action, and will go through treatment on Monday morning.

Walton Sits Out with Back Injury
Lakers forward Luke Walton joined Bryant on the injury report, missing the game against Houston. We’ll have more on Walton after practice tomorrow.

VIDEO: Trevor Ariza Gets His Ring