Monthly Archive for December, 2009

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Podcast: Jim Cleamons Previews the Nets

091218brookAlways a man with a plan, Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons joined us to preview in detail L.A.’s Saturday evening contest against the New Jersey Nets, the second and final meeting between the two squads this season.

New Jersey, winners of just two games in 24 tries, is led by second-year center Brook Lopez, whose success (team high 19.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.04 blocks) is counter-intuitive to that of his team. Point guard Devin Harris (16.8 points, 5.4 assists) has yet to reach his last-season form after missing 10 games to injury, while big man Josh Boone is the only player besides Lopez to appear in all 26 Nets games. In other words, it’s literally been basketball’s version of “M.A.S.H.” in Jersey.

Cleamons broke down how his squad plans on dealing with the team it beat 106-87 on Nov. 29, a game before the Nets set the NBA’s single-season record for consecutive losses to start the season with 19.

Morrison Aiming to Stay Sharp

Adam Morrison - CDRIsn’t it hard to stay sharp with one’s jump shot when field goal attempts in games are generally less common than December game winners for Kobe Bryant?

Take Adam Morrison.

He hasn’t played in five games, since being afforded 5:35 of late action against the Phoenix Suns on Dec. 6. And through 24 contests, 20 of them Lakers wins, Morrison has been on the court long enough to hoist only 32 total shots, hitting 11 (34.4 percent).

Yet as the Lakers attempt to build on back-to-back wins over the Bulls and Bucks with Saturday-Sunday contests in New Jersey and Detroit, minute allocation wouldn’t appear to be changing for a guy playing behind likely the NBA’s best and deepest roster.

After all, Morrison knows that he is much better than a 34.4 percent shooter, and the difficulty of trying to knock down shots after often sitting down for three quarters before entering (or just keeping his warm ups on altogether) hasn’t been lost on him.

That doesn’t mean he’s full of excuses.

“If you’re a short-minute guy or a specialist, like they call it now, you have to come in and have the attitude that you have to pull the trigger and let it go no matter what happens,” he said. “Your teammates and coaches are expecting you to knock it down, and that’s what I have to do.”

Adam MorrisonThe question is, how does a former college star who played nearly 30 minutes a game as a rookie before tearing his ACL prior to the 2007-08 season stay sharp with tempered expectations for game action?

“It’s repetition and practice, making sure you’re getting up enough shots every day, combined with the mindset of staying ready and confident in yourself to knock it down,” explained Morrison.

The Gonzaga product went on to say that if one is more or less assured of playing good minutes (take Kobe Bryant, as the easiest example), that player can pick and choose when it’s a good time to get his own shot or to pass the ball to a teammate within the flow of the offense.

On the other side of the coin, if you’re a player like Morrison or even Sasha Vujacic, each of whose primary threat to an opponent is his ability to score quickly, there’s a good chance that the focus of the defense is elsewhere. The shooters are expected to step up.

“You don’t really have time to let the game flow for you,” summarized Morrison. “You just gotta let it go.”

From a technical standpoint, Morrison has one trick that he uses to keep himself focused.

“I always just try and hold the follow through until it goes in,” he said. “That helps me because I usually short-arm shots if I don’t hold it.”

Other than that?

Like he said, there’s not much to think about.

Work Never Stops for Lakers Coaches

Lakers CoachesWith two days without games in one of the world’s greatest cities, you’d think that L.A.’s coaches would have a moment or two to relax, right?

Perhaps walk up and down one of New York’s famed avenues, check out the giant tree at Rockefeller Center or even see a show on Broadway.

But on Thursday, assistant coach Jim Cleamons was busy watching film and finalizing a scouting report for the New Jersey Nets, L.A.’s opponent on Saturday, and getting set to look ahead at the Oklahoma City Thunder, whom the Lakers host next Tuesday.

Fellow assistant Frank Hamblen is busy preparing for L.A.’s Sunday opponent, the Detroit Pistons.

In fact, on the plane ride from Milwaukee to New York City last night, each coach (Brian Shaw and Phil Jackson included) was breaking down film, discussing tactics and figuring out how the team will spend its next few days.

In short, “off days” don’t really exist for NBA coaches.

VIDEO: Kobe’s Game-Winner


This highlight is from the Bucks broadcast (so excuse the “MISS IT!!” as the shot goes up), but here’s the video of Kobe’s buzzer beating game-winner in Milwaukee Wednesday night.

Lakers 107, Bucks 106: Running Diary

94568853CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE LAKERS’ GAMEDAY PAGE
We took a look at the Lakers – Bucks contest in Milwaukee while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as L.A. looked to win their second straight road game.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton (15th straight game)
Bucks: Francisco Elson

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Bogut

Hamblen, Jackson Demanding Focus
Phil Jackson mentioned in his pregame interview that the Lakers coaches specifically warned the Lakers that they would lose this game if they didn’t come with energy immediately. While the Bucks don’t look like the NBA’s best team on paper, they’re actually pretty good, particularly at home (9-3). Assistant coach Frank Hamblen reiterated Jackson’s point, saying that he fully expects L.A. to struggle if they’re unable to match Milwaukee’s energy. The lone American-born starter, Brandon Jennings, is from Compton, CA., while the other four hail from Cameroon (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute), Australia (Andrew Bogut), Argentina (Carlos Delfino) and Turkey (Ersan Ilyasova). That’s fun.

94567401_10First Quarter
10:59 I don’t know if there’s anyone associated with the Lakers that doesn’t want Pau Gasol shooting much more than seven times, as he did in Chicago, so his immediate 18-footer (swish) was a pleasant sign. Completely unrelated: there’s a great chili place (“Real Chili”) in Milwaukee. Guaranteed to brighten one’s day.

6:25 After surviving three early three-pointers from the Bucks, the Lakers smartly got the ball inside to Bynum, who dropped in a baby hook before swatting consecutive shots on separate Milwaukee possessions. Bryant followed with a three and Gasol an elbow jumper to cap a quick 7-0 run that gave L.A. a one-point lead.

0:23.8 Milwaukee’s Michael Redd, playing in just his seventh game of the season as he continues to come back from knee surgery, hit a jumper that put the Bucks up a point at quarter’s close. Something else you should know: two of Milwaukee’s players make key cameos in this amazing “Boom Goes the Dynamite!!” college “sportscast*.”
*Andrew Boh-got and Hah-kim Warrick.

Second Quarter
10:42 Phil Jackson specifically mentioned the effort of Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown as key to last night’s victory in Chicago, and the athletic twosome made an immediate impact in this one with some Farmar D (a swat of Luke Ridnour) and Brown’s two free throws at the other end.

9:55 Milwaukee, continuing to rock nothing but jump shots, got their sixth three-pointer to fall in 11 attempts, meaning 18-of-28 points had come from beyond the arc. Furthermore, they’d yet to get to the free throw line, and despite their arc success led by just two.

2:45 The bad news for the Bucks: Pau Gasol stuffed Bogut at the rim, then finished a dunk after a pretty wrap-around pass from Artest. The good news: mascot Bango appears to have recovered from ACL surgery last season, after a nasty fall through the rim at the All-Star festivities in Phoenix last season. I like him … cool Buck outfit. The half ended with just the second field goal for Jennings, which gave Milwaukee a two point edge (47-45). Gasol had 13 and 11 to pace the Lakers.

94567392_10Third Quarter
7:06 Gasol continued his success with a layup from Kobe’s hand, capping a 6-0 run that put the Lakers up 59-58. As always, L.A. was scoring easily when it managed to get the ball inside.

2:33 The Bucks converted only their second field goal in five minutes, a Charlie Bell three, to cut L.A.’s lead to 70-66 into a time out. The Lakers had steadily flexed their defensive muscles, forcing a bevy of clanked jumpers to outrebound the Bucks 10-5 at that point in the quarter. Gasol had 16 boards already to match his total in Chicago; remember, he had back-to-back 20 rebound games before the win over the Bulls.

0:03.7 If L.A.’s close to the quarter was good, then “Jersey Shore” isn’t an awesome show. The Lakers committed two turnovers and stood and watched while Bryant clanked a fadeaway jumper (7-of-18 through three), then committed fouls on defense to allow five Bucks points that left L.A. with just a 74-71 edge after they had taken over the game midway through the period.

Fourth Quarter
9:18 The Bucks carried some third quarter mojo into the early fourth to take the lead back when Ilyasova hit his second three-pointer to make it 79-78. The Turkish forward, impressive all night, got to 20 points on Milwaukee’s next possession to answer two Kobe free throws.

4:30 L.A. got its first sniff of serious trouble when Ilyasova laid the ball off to Redd for a dunk, his 10th field goal off the bench for 22 points, giving Milwaukee a five-point lead as the crowd exploded into a standing ovation for the first time.

0:31.5 How many times has Derek Fisher come through in the clutch for L.A. (rhetorical)? He did it again with a 17-foot jumper to cap the timeliest of 7-0 runs, putting the Lakers up two. But Andrew Bogut answered at the other end with a move around Gasol, plus the foul, to tie the game, before missing the free throw. Instead of calling time out and letting the Bucks set up, L.A. went to Kobe, who dribbled down the shot clock before missing a 15-footer at the buzzer. Overtime.

94567443_10Overtime
2:38 Gasol continued his monster game with another shot over Bogut, who’s no defensive slouch, to reach 26 points (with 21 boards) and get L.A. within one after four straight Bucks points. His 20-20 effort was L.A.’s first since March 24 of 2008, when Lamar Odom had 23 points and 21 rebounds at Golden State.

1:25 The house began to come down in Milwaukee as Ridnour pulled up in transition and stuck a jumper for a 106-100 Bucks lead. Things looking dire for L.A. But Bryant went off for five straight points, including an and-1 layup, before Artest cleared a defensive rebound with five seconds remaining to give the Lakers a chance…

0:00.1 Kobe. Kobe. Kobe. You know what happened. After catching the basketball nearly exactly in the same spot as his regulation miss, Bryant rose to dagger the Bucks with a silly fadeaway jumper as time expired, from about 15 feet over Charlie Bell.

And with that, L.A. had won its second straight road game, before a Saturday – Sunday back-to-back against New Jersey and Detroit. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
78 Rebounds for Pau Gasol in the last four games, a ridiculous average of 19 per game. His 22 boards were a career high for the Spaniard, who followed up games of 20-20-16. Gasol added 26 points, four assists, four blocks and a steal. Decent.

47.4 Lakers shooting percentage for the game after they caught fire late, erasing a poor 38.9 percent start after one.

39 Points for Kobe Bryant, including seven in overtime.

16 Lakers edge in free throws attempted, showing how many jumpers Milwaukee took. The Bucks did hit 10 threes, to just four from L.A., who got a big one when Artest got his overtime attempt to go down.

7 Turnovers by Kobe Bryant, after eight the night before. Phil Jackson said it has to do with his broken finger, and we’ll go along with that. I think he’s excused after the game winner.

Meet the Bucks

Brandon JenningsThe Milwaukee Bucks (11-11) are set to host the Lakers (18-4) for the only time this season, and as an Eastern Conference team that isn’t necessarily a potential Finals opponent for L.A., they’re not at the top of the purple and gold radar screen.

But they’re also not a bad team; particularly at home, the Bucks can play basketball. They’ve lost only three times in 12 games at the Bradley Center, and as L.A.’s coaching staff insisted, can certainly beat the Lakers if a full effort isn’t exerted.

Let’s take a closer look at Milwaukee:

Watch the First Quarter
When the Bucks go into the second quarter with a lead at home, they’re 6-1, including wins over Denver and Portland. Andrew Bogut, perhaps the key to Milwaukee’s success, has played in five of those seven games, averaging 20.8 points and 10.2 rebounds.

The Rookie
Everyone heard about 10th overall draft pick Brandon Jennings’s 55-point outburst at home against Golden State on Nov. 14, as well as his escapades playing professionally in Italy after high school instead of going to college. But how’s he done lately? Pretty well. In his last five, Jennings is averaging 19.2 points, 6.6 assists, 3.6 assists per game. At the same time, Jennings has needed 18.4 shots per game to get to his 19.2 points due to 40.2 percent shooting from the field, not the most efficient of shooting numbers.

United Nations
The Bucks start four international players, one each from Australia (Bogut), Turkey (Ersan Ilyasova), Cameroon (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute) and Argentina (Carlos Delfino), and each has been productive this season. Bogut’s been terrific in his last three games, putting up 21.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists and 1.7 blocks, and Ilyasova’s averaged 15.7 points plus 8.3 boards, 1.3 steals and 1.0 assists while shooting 50 percent from three-point land. Delfino has struggled with his shot (39.2 percent field goals), but still provides 10.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 28 minutes per night.

Turnover Tornado
Head Coach Scott Skiles is known for getting/demanding defensive effort out of his players, and his Bucks have been forcing an average of 16.9 turnovers per game, which ranks second in the NBA. Of course, it’s important to convert those turnovers into points at the other end, and Milwaukee’s succeeded in that facet as well, scoring 18.3 points off turnovers to rank third in the NBA.

Throwing up Triples
Milwaukee likes to shoot threes. In fact, they average 8.4 three-point makes per game, which has them on pace to make 686 on the season to shatter the club record of 595 set in 2001-02. And remember, this is a franchise that featured gunners Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Michael Redd, who’s still on the team but has played in only six games this season as he attempts to recover from knee surgery.

Milwaukee’s Best on Reserve
OK, stole that title from Milwaukee’s PR staff, as it’s always fun to name things after cheap brew. Alas, we’re referring to Luke Ridnour, who has been one of the NBA’s better bench players this season, ranking in the top 10 in five categories including assist-to-turnover ratio (3.43 to 1), where he leads all pine sitters. He also has 35 points in his last 37 minutes, and will demand attention from Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown.

Lakers 96, Bulls 87: Running Diary

59156637CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE LAKERS’ GAMEDAY PAGE
We took a look at the Lakers – Bulls contest in the Windy City while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter looked to start a new winning streak.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton (14th straight game)
Bulls: Jerome James

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Bulls: Derrick Rose, John Salmons, Luol Deng, Brad Miller, Joakim Noah

Phil Jackson Pregame
Always a hit with the Chicago media (I think he won a few titles here?), Jackson has now actually coached more games in L.A. than he did in Chi-town, as Lakers sideline reporter John Ireland pointed out. Jackson said he still enjoys coming back, but it’s of course much different from how it used to be. He also explained that Kobe Bryant’s finger seems better to him than it was on Saturday in Utah, certainly, and that his co-captain’s stomach ailment is no longer an issue. One other note: the Lakers have beaten the Bulls five straight time, including sweeps in the last two seasons.

First Quarter
9:52 For the NBA’s 28th rated offense, the Bulls sure started out nicely, hitting their first four field goals to take an 8-2 lead. Meanwhile, Bryant clanked his first two jumpers, but then…

591557242:24 … He got ridiculously, ridiculously hot (like in “Zoolander”) from the perimeter. Bryant made eight straight perimeter J’s as if he were still taking unguarded pregame shots*. His first make came after drawing the second foul on John Salmons, who had to be relieved by Kirk Hinrich, who promptly allowed seven straight makes up close and personal. The last got Kobe to 20 points and kept L.A. in a ball game that saw Chicago open at 10-for-15 (66.7 percent).
*Wait a second. Kobe has a broken finger?

0:19.5 Jordan Farmar’s been as consistently productive off the bench of late as “Jersey Shore” is consistently (unintentionally) hilarious (OK maybe not that much), and he continued the trend by nailing a corner three to even the score at 31 heading into the second. The Bulls played a very good quarter, but received quite a blow when Rose left with 5:50 to play due to a strained left rib (questionable return).

Second Quarter
9:44 Shannon Brown checked in and quickly converted a pretty left-handed layup in front of many of his family members and friends. After all, he’s from Maywood, Ill., which is a stone’s throw away from the United Center. Even better, Brown forgot to bring a belt, instead using a piece of lace/string from the team hotel. Farmar and Adam Morrison couldn’t have been happier to see it.

5:35 Kobe’s first second quarter look after a good rest? Swish. The next two Lakers possession continued a trend of extra passes that saw Lamar Odom get two easy layup thanks to Gasol’s pretty looks, putting L.A. up 49-42 to match the visiting team’s biggest lead. Odom had seven points, two assists, two boards, a block and a steal at that point.

0:47.1 Gasol had one of his worst offensive halfs of the season by making just 1-of-4 with the energetic Joakim Noah chasing him all over the place, and he appeared to take it out on Chicago with a nasty move along the baseline that culminated in a reverse dunk. That basket put L.A. up 54-48 at the half, on strength of a 23-17 second quarter.

Third Quarter
10:21 Del Negro decided to take Joakim Noah – who may have been Chicago’s most effective player with 10 points, 11 boards and five blocks – out 59156332for rookie Taj Gibson to match up with Gasol? Meanwhile, Bryant, up-faked Salmons into his fourth foul very early in the period, bringing Hinrich (a better overall player) back into the game.

5:01 The Bulls continued to hang in after Rose got to the baseline for a pull-up jumper that cut L.A.’s lead to three at 64-61. In other news, Chicago’s mascot sat on the lap of the wife of a guy wearing a Lakers warm up jersey, sitting courtside. He was about as amused as Kobe gets after a missed call.

0:02.9 Rose missed a pull-up jumper to end a good quarter for Chicago which saw a six-point half time lead turn into a one-point deficit heading into the forth. The Lakers were only 4-for-19 in the quarter (21 percent).

Fourth Quarter
11:00 Have you been to LetShannonDunk.com? It’s fun. Check it out. Also, feel free to watch him fly as he did here, for a nasty baseline hammer that followed his three-pointer in a personal 5-0 run to start the quarter. His field goal a minute later gave him nine points on 4-of-4 shooting.

6:35 Kobe’s turnaround jumper capped a 14-4 Lakers that turned control of the game the purple and gold’s way with a 86-77 margin. Bryant had 38 points at that stage on 13-of-23 FGs, 11-of-15 FTs as L.A. tried to put the game on ice.

3:00 Odom, who was very effective early and not as effective in the middle of the game, broke Chicago’s back with a fadeaway jumper from the baseline as the shot clock expired, putting the Lakers back up eight as the Bulls tried a final rally. Who else but Bryant would seal the game with a running left-handed floater from 15-feet? It got him to 40 points, put L.A. up eight and buried the Bulls.

The Lakers will take their shot at Milwaukee tomorrow night, but until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
6 Blocks from Chicago’s Joakim Noah, who recently called out LeBron James for extra celebration. Noah was a problem for L.A. all night, grabbing 20 rebounds (14 offensive) and scoring 11 points (even if it took him 16 FGA’s).

10 Combined missed threes in the game from Kobe Bryant (1-for-5) and Ron Artest (1-for-7).

11 Free throws made by Bryant, as well as Chicago’s entire team.

20 Points scored by Bryant in a fantastic first quarter, en route to a game-high 42 on 15-of-26 field goals and 11-of-15 from the charity stripe. What hurt finger?

100 Shannon Brown’s shooting percentage on four attempts, including a three and a nasty dunk early in the fourth that turned the game’s momentum. Brown, a native of Maywood, Illinois (a few blocks from United Center), did the deed in front of many of his family members and friends. Special night for the second-year Laker.

In Chicago, Bryant To Push Through Pain (Again)

Lakers officials have stated that Kobe Bryant’s avulsion fracture on the index finger (also known as a crucial release point for shooting, passing and ball-handling) may start to feel better in two to three weeks, and perhaps heal in about six or more weeks.

In the meantime, Bryant’s going to feel a decent amount of pain every time he does anything on the basketball floor (or even if he presses the “Up” or “Down” arrow on an elevator). Fortunately for the Lakers, Kobe is … Kobe, a rare breed who boasts perhaps the highest pain tolerance and level of determination in the NBA.

Whether it hurts him or not, Bryant’s going to push on, as witnessed by his time line in the Windy City so far:

The Lakers landed in Chicago around 5 p.m. local time on Monday afternoon, and it wasn’t long until Bryant was on his way to the gym to get some shots up and test his finger.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, well before the team bus arrived, Bryant was at United Center taking more shots while assistant coach Chuck Person looked on. As you can see for yourself (below), Bryant’s shot looks just fine, even if the average person wouldn’t be advised to touch anything for weeks.

Walton Nails Broadcast Debut

Luke Walton - Spero DedesLuke Walton made his broadcast debut in L.A.’s Friday-Saturday games against Minnesota and Utah, and surprised no one that’s spoken with him by doing a terrific job alongside radio play-by-play man Spero Dedes on 710 ESPN.

Of course, Walton wasn’t going to sing his own praises.

“I had a great time doing the broadcasts, and was really impressed with Spero and how easy he made it for me,” said Walton.

Fair enough.

In that case, let’s talk to Dedes:

On Luke’s success in his first two games as a color analyst:
Spero Dedes: I expected that he was going to do well all along, and that was certainly the case. Luke is a very cerebral guy, as you know, and he’s a guy who thinks the game through as a player. When you put him in that position to analyze and commentate through the game, it’s a layup for him. We were breaking his chops for the first couple of minute, but he was great.

On Spero’s approach to the game working alongside a new partner:
Dedes: I’m used to Mychal (Thompson) ignoring me completely, so I tried to engage Luke a little bit more, ask him questions … I’m just kidding. But I did try to ask him what Phil (Jackson’s) thinking here, what his teammates are doing and so on, and Luke was offering really good nuggets along those lines all night long. One time, Lamar (Odom) made a defensive mistake, and Luke pointed it out right away, and the very next time down the floor defensively Lamar made the adjustment. Another sequence, Luke was talking about Ron Artest being a great defender, and Ron came up with a steal on the next possession. That made him look really good.

On the advantage of currently playing with the team for a broadcaster:
Dedes: Even Mychal’s not privy to that kind of stuff, because Luke’s working out with these guys even as he’s recovering from injury. Luke, I think, was apprehensive going into it, but I think he’s going to realize that once he’s done playing, whether it’s 10 years or 20, that this is a pretty good way to make a living for a guy that’s had a long and successful professional playing career.

Lakers 94, Jazz 102: Running Diary

Ron Artest - UtahCLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE LAKERS’ GAMEDAY PAGE

We took a look at the Lakers – Jazz contest while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as L.A. went for its 12th consecutive victory.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton (though he’s active in the broadcast booth)
Jazz: Andrei Kirilenko, Matt Harpring

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Jazz: Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Ronnie Brewer, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur

Bryant Suffering from Finger, Stomach Ailments
Phil Jackson spent part of his pregame session with the media calling Kobe Bryant the best he’s ever seen at playing through injuries and ailments, and as if to prove him right, Bryant showed up late for the game due to a case of gastroenteritis. Bryant also suffered an avulsion fracture to the index finger on his shooting hand (right) during L.A.’s 104-92 win over Minnesota last night, but neither condition will keep him off the floor.

Mehmet OkurFirst Quarter
7:12 Pau Gasol hit his second field goal of the game on a pull-up jumper that doubled as the seventh Lakers make in eight attempts. Bynum had converted an alley-oop, Fisher two jump shots and Artest two layups to get L.A., wearing gold jerseys with the Jazz again sporting throwback green kits, went up 14-9.

5:03 Bryant, trying to figure out his shot, missed for the third straight time. His first attempt was an open three, which went long; his second, a pull-up jumper from the left block that he took with his left hand that went well short, and his third a baseline jumper that rimmed out. The Lakers can live with a few early Bryant misses as he feels out how the splint affects his J, as they may well need him to hit some late in the game when it counts.

1:08 Lamar Odom’s baseline jumper capped an impressive 9-0 Lakers run that opened a 25-20 lead, as Bryant looked to have figured out his jumper with consecutive makes. In other Odom news: a reporter was making fun of another reporter for having a father in law that owned a yacht, so someone asked Odom if he liked boats. He responded that he had nothing against boats, but since he couldn’t swim, they made him pretty queasy. He also doesn’t do roller coasters, meaning his youth trips to Coney Island were just to play hoops or walk on the beach.

Second Quarter
8:56 Two free throws from Andrew Bynum and a big swat at the other end halted a strong opening to the second from Utah, which saw the Jazz take a seven-point lead. Luke Walton said on the radio that he thinks Bynum’s timing for blocks has improved considerably of late.

2:44 With L.A. trailing 51-45 into a timeout, I braced behind my computer/media table as the Jazz rolled out a t-shirt gun that looks like it belongs in a war, or at least protecting Fort Knox. Yikes. Anyway … Lakers are doing a good job of sticking in the game despite Utah’s energy and knack for getting to loose balls.

2:16 Derek Fisher continued an excellent first half by notching a steal and drawing a foul on D-Will at the other end before sticking two free throws. Moments later, Fish would hit a tough pull-up J over Williams to get to 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, already tying his season high in points, to get L.A. within six at the half (59-53). Phil Jackson also talked about how key Fisher’s contributions are in recognizing the sets of his former coach, Jerry Sloan.

Carlos BoozerThird Quarter
8:26 A Ronnie Brewer layup capped a strong opening to the third quarter for Utah by putting the Jazz up by 12, their biggest lead of the game.

8:18 Back-to-back hoops from Artest got him to a career landmark: 10,000 points. He has 12 in the game, trailing Fisher and Bynum’s 13 apiece. Fisher, however, got whistled for his fourth foul on a moving screen, sending him to the bench. The Lakers had been victim of 17 foul calls to that point, to just eight on the Jazz.

0.01.0 Farmar scored on a beautiful 360 layup with a decent amount of contact to bring L.A. within nine going into the final quarter as EnergySolutions Arena’s faithful grew louder by the minute.

Fourth Quarter
7:30 Starting to get a bit interesting? L.A., with Kobe and Pau back in, rolled off six straight points to take Utah’s lead down to 11, taking advantage of two straight Jazz turnovers on offensive fouls.

6:29 Often times, Kobe’s able to battle through sickness and pain as if it weren’t there, but it wasn’t so in the second half as he missed for the sixth straight time. The Jazz were scoring even when they shouldn’t have, with a end-of-shot-clock desperation jumper from Brewer swishing through before a Millsap layup that made it 94-77 with 5:02 to play.

1:11 The Lakers refused to go easily, as Gasol scored four points in a manner of seconds to cut Utah’s lead to 10, but it was too little, too late as Utah held on to win 102-94, sending L.A. to their first loss since the return of Gasol. Bryant was entirely exhausted afterwards, heading to the locker room a few seconds early surely to get back on the IV.

The Lakers will travel home immediately after the game, and leave for a four-game trip through Chicago, Milwaukee, New Jersey and Memphis on Monday morning. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
4 Second half assists for the Lakers, for a total of 15. The Jazz moved the ball with more success, nearly doubling L.A. with 29 dimes.

11 Game winning streak snapped with L.A.’s loss, its longest stretch since March and April of 2004.

13 First half points for Derek Fisher, matching his season high, though he scored just two second half points in part due to foul trouble.

16 Point total reached by three Lakers – Ron Artest, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, a new season low to lead the team.

51.9 Utah’s field goal percentage for the game, compared to 46.3 percent for L.A.