Monthly Archive for January, 2010

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Lakers 115, Knicks 105: Running Diary

59365828Click here to check out the Lakers’ Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Knicks contest in New York City while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to complete a season sweep of the Knicks.

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison
Knicks: Eddy Curry

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Knicks: Chris Duhon, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Jared Jeffries, David Lee

First Quarter
7:33 The Lakers opened hotter than the roof of your mouth after drinking something hot too fast, with L.A. nailing 7-of-8 shots to take a 15-11 lead when Ron Artest sank his second deep jumper in as many attempts. Ron Ron, playing on the same floor he frequented as a St. John’s player, led the Lakers with a 38.4 percent success rate from three coming into the game.

593655165:30 The Knicks capped a quick 8-0 run with a Jared Jeffries dunk on the baseline, turning a four-point deficit into a four-point lead rather quickly. Phil Jackson had mentioned before the game how difficult the Knicks can be on a defense because of their unconventional system that takes time to adjust to, and that seemed the case as L.A. was unable to rotate to open shooters on time.

1:41 Andrew Bynum had a solid first quarter, leading the Lakers with 11 points after two free throws put L.A. up 30-25. Phil Jackson rewarded him by removing Pau Gasol when Lamar Odom checked into the contest moments before Bynum’s foul shots. Moments later another sub, Jordan Farmar (who joined Gasol in donating money to Haiti relief) nailed back-to-back threes to send the Lakers into the second quarter with a 36-30 lead.

Second Quarter
10:38 Gasol checked back into the contest to open the second quarter and scored quickly thanks to Odom’s offensive rebound. That gave him six points, which meant $6,000 for the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund since Gasol was donating $1,000 for each point he scored on the evening (Farmar is also donating to the Fund). Wouldn’t assisting one of Gasol’s buckets feel extra good tonight?

4:41 Gasol’s next bucket was a lefty hook off glass, which followed Luke Walton’s corner three to give the Lakers a 51-49 lead. Did you know that Walton leads the team in three-point percentage at 60 percent? OK, so he’s only taken 10. Whatever.

0:01.0 Artest was at it again from the three-point line, nailing his third in as many attempts to send the Lakers into the half tied at 63. Bynum led the Lakers with 17 points, Artest had 11 and Gasol eight while Bryant managed just five. The Lakers shot 56.1 percent from the field, but conceded eight offensive rebounds to the Knicks, which made up the difference of New York’s 48.1 percent from the field. It was not a good defensive effort for the Lakers, who caused not a single Knicks turnover, but L.A. generally plays its best D in the second half.

59365843Third Quarter
6:50 Bryant began to find an offensive rhythm at the quarter’s onset, scoring nine of L.A.’s 12 points capped by a three-pointer that made it 75-74 purple and gold. Clearly, he was going to find his way sooner than later.

2:44 Two Knicks – David Lee and Wilson Chandler – had been hurting the Lakers on defense throughout the evening, and each broke into 20-point scoring territory late in the third, producing an 81-79 lead for the home team thanks to Lee’s two-handed dunk. Lee had 21, and Chandler 22 at that point as Farmar and Brown entered the contest for L.A.

0:01.2 Bryant’s attempt at beating the buzzer with a driving layup was denied by Harrington, but Farmar’s third three-pointer of the game got the Lakers within a point at 85-84. L.A. stayed barely above the 50-percent shooting mark (50.8) and was executing decently on offense, but had forced just two Knicks turnovers to that point and grabbed only four offensive rebounds to 10 from the Knicks.

Fourth Quarter
8:37 Those offensive rebounding and turnover numbers sometimes equate to energy, and if the Lakers were tired from last night’s loss in Cleveland, they seemed determined to push past it in the fourth*. Phil Jackson’s decision to start the young legs of Farmar and Brown seemed to help considerably, and moments later it was Gasol whose energy tangibly affected the team. First came a back down of Chandler for a deuce, then a drawn charge, then tip in of Lamar Odom’s missed put-back and finally a swat of David Lee that helped create an eight-point lead.
*We later learned that Derek Fisher gave a pre-quarter speech that clearly riled up the troops.

4:03 Speaking of Gasol … his terrific fourth quarter continued with an and-1 driving layup. He made the free throw in some atonement for missing 3-of-8 to start, reaching eight points with two boards and three blocks in the quarter and matching L.A.’s largest lead at 107-95.

1:50 It was truly all Kobe and Pau on offense for the Lakers in the fourth, as the two combined to score 23-of-27 points to create a 113-103 lead. Both teams would add two points as the game concluded moments later, the Lakers erasing Thursday evening’s losing stench thanks to a 31-20 final period. The Knicks really struggled to get good looks thanks to active defense in that final period, and scored only 44 points in the second half after a 63-point first half.

The Lakers will sleep in New York City tonight, then hop on a plane to Canada tomorrow in advance of Sunday’s game against Toronto. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
42 Second half points for the Knicks, who put 63 on the Lakers defense in the first half. Phil Jackson said the team made notable adjustments at halftime and generally played in more aggressive fashion.

23 Combined fourth quarter points for Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, who finished with 27 and 20, respectively, to lead the Lakers.

14 Rebounds off the bench by Lamar Odom to lead the Lakers, including five on the offensive end.

6 Turnovers created by the Lakers, well below their average.

4 Blocked shots for Pau Gasol, who played center for the entire fourth quarter to better match up with New York’s small lineup. Gasol added 10 points and five boards in the final period to finish with 20 points, eight boards, five assists and four boards.

Gasol Donating $1,000 Per Point Tonight

blog_100122paugasolhaitiFor every point Lakers big man Pau Gasol scores tonight against the New York Knicks he will donate $1,000 to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

The two former presidents established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) to respond to unmet needs in the country, foster economic opportunity, improve the quality of life over the long term for those affected, and assist the people of Haiti as they rebuild their lives and “build back better,” according to their website, clintonbushhaitifund.org

President Clinton will be on hand at Madison Square Garden for tonight’s game and will be interviewed by ESPN at halftime along with Gasol and the Knicks’ Danilo Gallinari.

Other Wasserman Media Group players like Antawn Jamison, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Tyreke Evans and many other will join in donating monies per point in tonight’s game.

Lakers guard Jordan Farmar, also represented by Wasserman, headlines a group of players making generous contributions to the relief effort.

Earlier this week the Lakers organization and their fans mobilized on several fronts to raise nearly $40,000 for American Red Cross – Haiti Relief and Recovery. Read more about that here.

61 – A Look Back at Kobe’s MSG Record

On February 3, 2009, Kobe Bryant scored a Madison Square Garden record 61 points in a vintage performance, nearly a full calendar year before he became one of 15 players in NBA history to score 25,000 points.

Take a look back at what we wrote last year, including a running diary of that 126-117 Lakers win, the postgame story, a bucket-by-bucket review in addition to the point-by-point video:

So, how’d he do it?

How did Kobe Bryant become the only player to ever score 61 points in Madison Square Garden?

We’ve gone over his motivation in the postgame article* from L.A.’s 126-117 win and posted reactions from* Trevor Ariza, Luke Walton and Kobe himself*.
*In case you missed it, those underlines are all links to the videos and articles, so simply click on the word to read or watch.

But to keep throwing fuel on the Mamba fire, we spent a few minutes with Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons** to see what his great basketball mind was thinking about during Kobe’s offensive barrage.
**Same story

Just in case you need more from Kobe’s 61, what follows is every pertinent Kobe entry from the running diary of the game, so that you can trace a relative play-by-play in narrative form:

Kobe Bryant Dunk in MSGFirst Quarter
10:41 After canning a deep jumper, Bryant pulled up for a deep three to make it 6-2 Lakers.

9:52 Kobe again with a deep jumper. Swish. In related news, Kobe likes to play in New York.

6:35 After a driving layup off Pau’s feed and an open jumper, Bryant had 13 points in 5:30 of play. The Knicks then missed another jumper (5-of-16, 31 percent from the field) and Gasol capitalized on a nice Odom pass to put L.A. up 18-11. Meanwhile, for better or worse, New York’s PA announcer is easily the most informative of any I’ve heard around the league this year.

2:24 BIG MVP chant for Kobe as he made two more free throws to get to 15 points. That’s probably the loudest road arena Kobe chant this year.

0:48.1 Wilson Chandler dropped a three on Kobe … Which didn’t sit well with Mamba, so he decided to put one on the Knicks 10 seconds later for a five-point lead.

Second Quarter
7:30 Two-straight turnovers from Radmanovic turned into four Knicks points, cutting L.A.’s lead to one. The first came as he dribbled off his foot, the second after a bad pass intended for Ariza. Vladi thought he was being pulled when Kobe checked in, but it was Farmar who sat, leaving Vujacic to guard Duhon. Bryant immediately took advantage of the space afforded him by a drive-wary Chandler and pulled up for his third triple. Well, it didn’t take Bryant long to get going again, huh?

6:27 It seems to be ones of those (Mamba) nights for Kobe, who first crossed Chandler over on the perimeter, rose and buried another jumper. Then he pulled up again on the next possession from deep (swish) before rising up in transition to throw down a dunk.
“MVP … MVP … MVP” chants wore on for about two minutes after the Knicks called timeout with 5:44 to play. Kobe was 10-of-14 from the field for 27 points in about 14 minutes to give L.A. a 49-42 lead. If you’re the Lakers, you’re probably cool with Kobe taking a few more heat-check jumpers, but it should be time to go back in the paint to Pau shortly.

4:21 After a great feed from Kobe to Odom for a slam, Gasol returned for Powell. When Kobe scored again on a Michael Jordan double-pump fake jumper to get to 29 points, he and Pau had combined for 43 of L.A.’s 53 points.

1:56 Bryant’s transition dunk set off a quick 5-0 Lakers run, capped by 1-of-2 (again) Odom free throws that made it 62-47. In the middle of those two plays was a nice swat of a Robinson three by Walton, plus Luke’s pull-up jumper.

0:42.2 MVP chant, again, for an all-business Kobe after a driving and-1 that gave him 34 points. The combination of latent anger over Bynum’s injury and the NYC spotlight lesson the surprise about Bryant’s burst, but still… decent stuff. His final line was 13-of-20 from the field and 5-of-5 from the line plus two assists. Harrington did answer with a three to make it a 65-54 Lakers lead at the break. Kobe almost made us forget that Andrew Bynum’s out for 8-to-12 weeks with his barrage.

Kobe BryantThird Quarter
9:20 Kobe swatted a potential game-tying layup attempt from Richardson, and Walton scored in the lane at the other end to make it 69-65. Bynum’s presence in the lane (or lack there of) is certainly missed by the Lakers, who needed their shooting guard to clean up the paint. By the way, New York’s “center” Jeffries is guarding Kobe.

7:07 Kobe’s second tough, fade-away jumper in a minute put L.A.’s lead at 75-67, as he and Gasol had combined for 56 points. But Lee and Harrington then scored easily at L.A.’s unprotected rim. That’s 40 points for Kobe.

5:11 Kobe’s 42nd point came on a kind of ridiculous running shot that mirrored his left-to-right action late in Memphis. That’s his new season high, as he had 41 in Orlando.

3:36 As soon as Kobe finally missed back-to-back jumpers, the Knicks capitalized to get within six at 84-78. But out of a timeout, Bryant drew a foul on Duhon from the perimeter, and sunk both as L.A. was in the bonus.

Fourth Quarter
7:30 Think the bench cooled Kobe off? Nope. Jumper, 46 points, 14-point lead.

6:06 And we’re at 50. Bryant hit two free throws courtesy of Josh Powell’s second offensive board in a minute.

5:50 Ouch. Peezy went down haaaard on his head and back after trying to block a Robinson runner … But obviously he got right up. He might star in the new G.I. Joe’s movie. Into a timeout out of which Kobe was set to go to the foul line, L.A. held a 112-98 lead. He made both, then stuck two more a minute later to go 15-for-15 from the charity stripe. We’re at 54 and counting with 5:12 remaining.

3:23 59. The latest came on an up-and-under spin around Chandler. It’s almost unfair, but even the Knicks fans are loving it.

2:45 N.Y. had hit back-to-back threes, the second of which Ariza countered with a three of his own. Then came an Odom steal and dish to Kobe in the frontcourt, which put Bryant back at the line. He can miss one and get to 60.

Nah, made ‘em both. He’s 19-of-31 from the field and 20-of-20 from the foul line, and the Lakers led 126-106.

1:48 Wow. When’s the last time an opposing player left the floor of a regular season game to a standing ovation from the home crowd as chants of “MVP” rang loudly through the arena? That’s what just happened for Kobe.

Lakers 87, Cavs 93: Running Diary

59355599Click here to check out the Lakers’ Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Cavs contest in Cleveland while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to avenge their Christmas Day loss.

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison
Cavs: Mo Williams (left shoulder), Leon Powe, Jamario Moon

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Cavs: Delonte West, Anthony Parker, LeBron James, J.J. Hickson, Shaquille O’Neal

59355109First Quarter
10:02 Pau Gasol’s turnaround in the lane capped a 9-0 Lakers run to open the contest, beginning with consecutive Kobe Bryant jumpers (the second a three-pointer) and an Andrew Bynum dunk courtesy of Ron Artest’s offensive rebound and dish. Not a bad start.

7:03 Cleveland, which boasts a 15-3 home record and has won 13-of-14 at “The Q” (Quicken Loans Arena, mind you), responded to L.A.’s burst with a 10-2 run of their own to pull within a point. A little late on this note, but when LeBron throws the powder in the air, do you think he ever considers using Pixie Stix (just to benefit the fans and broadcasters)?

1:09 Bryant nailed his fifth shot in eight attempts in an aggressive first quarter that produced 12 points (two-of-two from three) and helped give the Lakers a 27-18 lead after the period. Gasol, Odom and Bynum did a terrific job on the glass, doubling up the Cavs 16-8 and not allowing a single offensive board (helped that Cleveland shot 35.3 percent to L.A.’s 52.2).

Second Quarter
8:57 Kobe continued to impress with his offensive arsenal by nailing two more jumpers from the right wing to reach 7-of-10 for 16 points in pacing 59355408the Lakers to a 32-26 lead. He’d also switched over to guard LeBron James, with Artest getting a breather.

3:00 Had enough Kobe mentions yet? Well, if you score 25,000 points in your career on the first of two free throws, you can get your third straight running diary mention too.

0:04.8 James had a successful half in terms of getting to the rim, drawing the sixth Lakers foul on him personally to close the half with two of his eight makes in 10 attempts, bringing Cleveland within two points (46-44) when they had trailed by as many as 11 in the half. For point of reference: last season in the same building, the Lakers were down 10 points heading into the third.

Continue reading ‘Lakers 87, Cavs 93: Running Diary’

Kobe Bryant Scores Point No. 25,000

59329735With a second quarter free throw in L.A.’s Thursday evening contest in Cleveland, Kobe Bryant became the 15th player in NBA history to score 25,000 career points.

Currently 31 years and 151 days old, Bryant is the youngest player in league history to reach that milestone, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain (31 years, 186 days).

Congrats, Kobe.

Morrison & Che Guevara

blog_100121morrisonchephilLast night, we learned that Phil Jackson gifted Adam Morrison the book “Che,” by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, which is a graphic biography (also known as a picture book) of Che Guevara.

“Adam has been sporting a Che Guevara t-shirt, so he got the picture book,” said Jackson. “Most of the books are hand-picked.”

Morrison said that he was quite happy with Jackson’s choice for him, as he read Guevara’s biography in high school and found it fascinating.

Prior to the tipoff in Cleveland, Morrison spent a moment discussing the revolutionary nature of the book … before returning to hit a few three-pointers. No word on if there’s any connection to shooting threes and Guevara’s ideas.

Kobe Bryant Leads West in Voting

blog_100121kobeallstaruniKobe Bryant, a three time All-Star MVP, will make his 12th All-Star game appearance alongside Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire for the Western Conference at the 2010 All-Star Game in Dallas.

The reserves for each conference will be announced next Thursday on TNT. Here’s how the selection process for the reserves works:

In selecting the reserves, the 30 NBA head coaches must vote for seven players within their conference, including two guards, two forwards, a center and two players regardless of position. Coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their team. After the coaches select the reserves, if a player is unable to participate in the All-Star Game, NBA Commissioner David Stern will select a replacement. Reserves will be announced Jan. 28, on TNT.

The East and West All-Star coaches and coaching staffs will be determined by the best record in each conference through games played Jan. 31. Last year’s East and West coaches – Cleveland’s Mike Brown and the L.A. Lakers’ Phil Jackson — are not eligible to coach this year’s All-Star Game.

The final voting tallies are listed below the jump.

Continue reading ‘Kobe Bryant Leads West in Voting’

Wearing Gold in Cleveland

blog_100121goldjerseyAs was the case in December against the Utah Jazz, the Lakers will wear their gold uniforms in an opposing city.

On that day, the Jazz exercised their option to wear their alternate green uniforms, forcing the Lakers to bring gold unis that are normally reserved for home use only.

Tonight the Cavs will pay tribute to their earlier years in Cleveland as they break out their wine and gold duds.

The game is set for a 5pm tip on TNT.

Lakers – Cavs: The Matchup

Ron Artest - LeBron JamesIn a few hours, the Lakers and Cavs meet for the final time in 2009-10 … at least in the regular season.

Here’s more than you need to know about the matchup:

LAST TIME: The Cavs were simply the more aggressive team when they beat L.A. 102-87 at STAPLES Center on Christmas day. Cleveland shot 53.3 percent to L.A.’s 36.5%, had 24 assists on their 38 made field goals and got a terrific effort from point guard Mo Williams, who made all three of his three-pointers and 9-of-10 free throws for 28 points.
***UPDATE: Williams will miss Thursday night’s game with a left shoulder strain.

CAVS AT HOME: Last season, Cleveland was undefeated at home (23-0) … until the Andrew Bynum-less Lakers came to town in early February and won 101-91. Their only other loss came in the regular season’s final game, when the Cavs rested most of their starters including LeBron James. This season, the Cavs lost two games at home early and have lost three total, yet are still 15-3 and have won 13-of-14 in Ohio. That 15-3 mark is the NBA’s third best at home, after the Lakers (23-3) and Nuggets (18-3).

LOTS OF WINS: The Cavs and Lakers have both won a league-high 32 games, though Cleveland has picked up two more losses. The Cavaliers are 20-6 mark over the last 26 games, the best in the NBA. L.A. is 9-6 on the road, the six losses tied with Boston for the league’s fewest on the road, but the purple and gold have also played the fewest road games.

POINT DIFFERENTIAL: Always a good way to measure the league’s best teams is point differential, which the Lakers happen to lead at +7.0, the Cavs close behind at +6.5 (Boston had led the league before Kevin Garnett’s injury). L.A. and Cleveland are also the league’s best teams when hitting 100 points, the Lakers ranking first (26-1, .963) and the Cavaliers second (25-1, .962). One reason: the Lakers continue to lead the NBA in defensive field goal percentage (.435), while Cleveland ranks third (.438).

WATCH THE LINE: The Cavs are the league’s best three-point shooting team right now, making 40.9 percent of their shots, while the Lakers lead the league in three-point percentage against. Something has to give.

TEAM CONNECTIONS: Cavs forward J.J. Hickson and Josh Powell both attended North Carolina State University, though Powell was gone before Hickson arrived; Ron Artest played under then assistant coach Mike Brown in Indiana from 2002-2005; 2010 Slam Dunk participant Shannon Brown was the Cavaliers 2006 first round draft pick (25th overall); Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons played five seasons (1972-1977) with the Cavaliers, played collegiate basketball at Ohio State, graduating in 1971 and is a member of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2008.

KOBE, HISTORY: Kobe Bryant is only 19 points away from 25,000 in his career, a mark he could well reach against the Cavs. Bryant had a game-high 35 points in the X-Mas day matchup.

Phil Jackson, Book Distributor

blog_090619philjacksonEach NBA season, Phil Jackson distributes books to his players before what is generally the team’s longest road trip, and the current eight-game trek offered the perfect opportunity.

Thanks to the tweeting of Jeanie Buss, we learned what L.A.’s head coach gave to each of his players:

1) Kobe Bryant: “Montana 1948″ by Larry Watson
2) Derek Fisher: “Soul on Ice” by Eldridge Cleaver
3) Pau Gasol: “2666″ by Roberto Bolano
4) Lamar Odom: “The Right Mistake” by Walter Mosley (one of Jackson’s favorite authors, says Buss)
5) Ron Artest: “Sacred Hoops” by Phil Jackson* (Buss noted that Jackson likes his new players to become more familiar with his philosophies as laid out in his book)
6) Andrew Bynum: “Six Easy Pieces” by Walter Mosley
7) Jordan Farmar: “Makes Me Wanna Holler” by Nahan McCall
8) Shannon Brown: “Dreams from My Father” by Barack Obama
9) Luke Walton: “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Abbey
10) Josh Powell: “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois
11) Sasha Vujacic: “Reservation Blues” by Sherman Alexie
12) D.J. Mbenga: “Monster: the Autobiography of an LA Gang Member” by Sanyika Shakur (Author), Monster Kody Scott (Contributor)
13) Adam Morrison: “Che” – Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon – a Graphic Biography of Che Guevara