Monthly Archive for April, 2010

Page 5 of 9

4/15 Injury Update: Sasha Vujacic’s Ankle

blog_100415sashavujacicA MRI taken by Dr. Ken Jung on Wednesday morning confirmed that Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic suffered a severe ankle sprain in the second quarter of L.A.’s Tuesday evening loss to the Clippers.

As the team reported after the game, there was no fracture to Vujacic’s ankle, but Lakers Spokesman John Black called it a “serious injury” that will take the Slovenian weeks, not days, from which to recover.

The team has put no official timetable on Vujacic’s potential return, but he is not expected to be available for at least L.A.’s first round series against Oklahoma City.

Phil Jackson Fined

From NBA PR:
NEW YORK, April 15, 2010 – Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson has been fined $35,000 for publicly criticizing game officials, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Jackson was fined for comments made to the media on April 13.

Healthy Bynum + Gasol = Wins

59329427It’s simple, really.

When Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol were healthy in the just-completed 2009-10 regular season, the Lakers went 38-12. That’s a 76 percent win ratio.

When one or both have been hurt, the Lakers went 19-13, a 59 percent win ratio.

L.A. actually managed to go 2-0 when neither big man played in November wins against Memphis and New Orleans at home. The Lakers went 9-6 without Gasol, and 8-7 with no Bynum.

Gasol closed the season on an absolute tear, averaging 27.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.8 blocks while shooting 65 percent from the field in the five games prior to Wednesday’s season finale (in which he scored 18 points with 17 rebounds in 27 minutes).

Bynum, meanwhile, has maintained for a week that he will play in L.A.’s playoff opener against Oklahoma City on Sunday, allowing Lamar Odom to return to the bench and re-establishing a crucial element to what makes the Lakers so difficult to play against.

Lakers – Thunder 1st Round Schedule

58989476The Lakers first round playoff matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder tips this Sunday at noon on ABC. Here’s the full schedule.

Game 1 Sunday, April 18 12:00pm STAPLES Center ABC
Game 2 Tuesday, April 20 7:30pm STAPLES Center FS West/TNT

Game 3 Thursday, April 22 6:30pm Ford Center KCAL/TNT
Game 4 Saturday, April 24 6:30pm Ford Center KCAL/ESPN

Game 5 Tuesday, April 27 TBD STAPLES Center FSW/TBD

Game 6 Friday, April 30 TBD Ford Center KCAL/TBD

Game 7 Sunday, May 2 TBD STAPLES Center TBD

NOTE: All start times are Pacific

NOTE: All games will be radio broadcast on 710 ESPN, the Lakers radio network and KWKW

Lakers 91, Clippers 107: Running Diary

60157224Lakers – Clippers Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Clippers contest in Los Angeles as the Lakers closed their 2009-10 regular season.

Lakers: Andrew Bynum (Achilles)
Clippers: Baron Davis

Lakers: Fisher, Brown*, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Clippers: Steve Blake, Rasual Butler, Travis Outlaw, Chris Kaman, DeAndre Jordan
*Starting for the second straight game in Kobe Bryant’s absence.

OKC on the Horizon
While L.A.’s coaching staff and players have stressed the importance of focusing on the team’s final game against the Clippers, it’s hard not to think about the looming matchup with Oklahoma City set to begin over the weekend. We’ll have a full preview available on on Thursday afternoon to ensure that you’re ready well in advance.

60157231First Quarter
5:57 A rather nondescript opening stanza saw the Clips claim a 12-11 lead into the first time out, though it was clear that the vast majority of fans in the building were wearing Lakers Purple and Gold. It was no surprise that in-fantastic-form Pau Gasol had it going early for the Lakers, producing six points with three boards.

2:06 Sasha Vujacic went after his second big dunk in traffic in a week, but was fouled on his way to the rim before converting both free throws to put L.A. up 24-21. Bench mate Josh Powell had nailed a triple on the team’s previous possession as Phil Jackson was surely looking to get heavy minutes from his reserves for the second straight night. Part of that motivation: Orlando had locked up the No. 2 overall seed by beating Philadelphia earlier on Wednesday night.

0:00 In case you’re curious, the rest of the West had nearly shaped up on the season’s final day, with Dallas locking into the two seed and San Antonio into the seventh with Portland in sixth. All that remained was the Phoenix at Utah game. If Utah won, they’d get the three seed and play Portland (with Denver getting the five seed), but if Phoenix won, they’d get the three and put Utah into the five seed to Denver’s No. 4. Meanwhile, Shannon Brown’s jumper put the Lakers up five with 13 seconds left before DeAndre Jordan pulled two points back to cut L.A.’s (“L.A.” always refers to the Lakers on lead to 28-25 after one.

Second Quarter
6:28 Powell continued a solid stretch by finding Luke Walton for an 11-foot jumper that got L.A. within a point, then continued to attack the glass to the tune of seven boards in 13 minutes by the close of the first half (new J-Peezy’s Playlist coming soon, promise).

2:51 L.A.’s No. 1 concern in its final two games was simply to stay healthy, which is why Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum didn’t play. Unfortunately, Jordan Farmar strained his left hamstring against Sacramento on Tuesday night, and Sasha Vujacic sprained his left ankle against the Clippers after landing awkwardly on a jump shot (he was fouled). Really a tough break for Vujacic and the Lakers.

1:20 Gasol went right along with his scoring/rebounding routine by dropping in a turnaround hook (14 points) and grabbing a defensive rebound (eight boards) to bring L.A. within three at 50-47, though two Steve Blake free throws and Powell’s put-back would make it 52-49 at half.

60157227Third Quarter
7:06 The stink of Vujacic’s injury seemed to carry into the third quarter, as an Odom put back was immediately negated by Smith’s short hoop to push the Clippers to a 65-54 lead on strength of a 13-5 edge in the period. The Lakers, understandably, seemed a bit hesitant.

0:00 Gasol played the entire third quarter to climb to 18 points with 17 rebounds, but the Lakers were outscored 26-16 while continuing to look tentative. No need to elaborate much on that point.

Fourth Quarter
9:09 A quick 7-0 run featuring five points from Brown got the Lakers to within eight points after they’d fallen behind by 15 early in the fourth. Lamar Odom was the only starter remaining in the contest.

3:53 Perhaps the most interesting thing going on was Odom’s body banging with a few of the Clippers off the ball as the red and blue squad continued to build their lead to as many as 18 points, though Powell’s put-back did get him to seven points with nine boards off the bench in 24 minutes.

0:00 The Clips closed the game out shortly thereafter, ultimately winning 107-91 as the Lakers at least avoided any further injuries. Odom finished with 21 points and eight boards, Gasol 18 and 17 while Brown also scored 18.

The Lakers will now have three days without a game before beginning the first round of the playoffs against Oklahoma City on Sunday. Until then, your numbers:

1 Triple-double for Clippers point guard Steve Blake, who scored 23 points with 11 assists and 10 rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting (4-of-6 3-pointers).

2 Unfortunate injuries in as many days for the Lakers as Sasha Vujacic’s severely sprained left ankle followed Jordan Farmar’s strained left hamstring from the previous night. Farmar, however, is expected to be OK.

17 Rebounds for Pau Gasol, allowing him to finish with an average of 11.3. That’s good for a career high, and fifth in the NBA.

21 Points for Lamar Odom to lead the Lakers on an efficient 7-for-12 from the field.

39.5 L.A.’s shooting percentage, over 10 points lower than the Clippers’ 50.6 percent.

Vujacic Severely Sprains Left Ankle vs. Clips

L.A.’s primary goal heading into the postseason was to be as healthy as possible, but to the contrary, the team suffered an unfortunate injury for the second straight game when Sasha Vujacic severely sprained his left ankle in the second quarter of L.A.’s Wednesday evening contest against the Clippers.

This after Jordan Farmar strained his left hamstring in Tuesday evening’s win against Sacramento, though Farmar did say he would be “fine” and is expected to play in L.A.’s first playoff game.

While the team won’t put a timetable on Vujacic’s potential return, X-rays did show that he suffered no fracture in the ankle. He will have an MRI on Thursday morning to give the team a more clear picture of the injury.

Vujacic was clipped by guard Mardy Collins while on his way down from a jump shot, rolling over on the ankle before being helped off the floor by Lakers Athletic Trainer Gary Vitti and Farmar.

The injury came a game after Vujacic’s best performance of the season, when he scored a season-high 13 points and added six rebounds (also a season high) in the Tuesday win over the Kings. The Slovenian had eight points on 3-of-7 shooting against the Clips before hurting the ankle.

Lakers Face Clippers in Season Finale

D070589018.JPGOn Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m., the Lakers will play the Clippers at STAPLES Center … while wearing purple jerseys.

It’s a road game, after all, one that could potentially still mean something if the Orlando Magic improbably lose at home to Philadelphia. In such case, a Lakers’ win would draw L.A. even with Orlando in the race for the second overall seed in the league, the tiebreaker going to L.A. in case a 2009 Finals rematch occurred since the Lakers have a better record against the opposing conference.

But if Orlando manages to win, the Lakers can only improve from 57 wins on the season to 58.

On the Injury Front
- Kobe Bryant will not play, and neither will Andrew Bynum, though the Lakers did get some positive news in that Bynum took the practice court to shoot on Wednesday morning for the first time since straining his left Achilles.
- Jordan Farmar strained his left hamstring in L.A.’s Tuesday evening win over Sacramento, but will dress and could possibly play against the Clippers.
- Luke Walton played a season-high 24 minutes on his sore back, which he said felt “great.” Obviously, he hopes to stay pain free but isn’t making any assumptions with such a tricky part of the body.

Gasol Going Off
Speaking of “great,” that’s an easy way to describes Pau Gasol’s play of late. The Spaniard produced 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting with eight boards, three assists and a block against Sacramento to complete a five-game stretch featuring the following averages: 27.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.8 blocks while shooting 65 percent from the field.

D070460022.JPGClippers Scouting Report
Among the keys against the Clippers:

- Limit Chris Kaman’s touches on the block. He can score with either hand and is very active on the glass. He averages 18.5 points and 9.3 boards to lead he Clips in both categories.
- Recognize what newcomers Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw can do, as L.A. hasn’t seen either in the Clippers’ lineup this season.
- Contain Craig Smith in the paint. “The Rhino” averages eight points off the Clippers’ bench, and made 6-of-7 shots for 12 points in the Clippers’ Jan. 6 win against L.A. He then went for 17 in the Clippers’ Jan. 15 loss to the Lakers.
- Control Baron Davis, who had a monster game with 25 points and 10 assists in that Jan. 6 Clips win.

Limited Minutes?
Phil Jackson said that he would like to limit the minutes of Derek Fisher and keep the rest of his regular starters below their averages as well, though Gasol did play 32 minutes and Lamar Odom nearly 35 against the Kings (Ron Artest’s were down to 25 Fisher’s to 18).

Lakers Bench, Gasol Key Victory over Kings

60149560Lakers – Kings Gameday Page
In their final home contest of the 2009-10 regular season, the Lakers (57-24) won game No. 34 at STAPLES Center, 106-100, against the visiting Sacramento Kings on Tuesday evening.

Though the Purple and Gold had the Western Conference locked up and a slim chance of matching Orlando for the league’s second-best record*, and with Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum out with respective injuries, L.A. still found something to play for: the chance to get some guys going off the bench.
*Orlando would have to lose at home to Philadelphia with L.A. beating the Clippers.

As it turned out, the bench managed one of its better performances of the season in scoring 41 points to complement Pau Gasol’s game-high 28 points and eight rebounds, the Lakers holding off a late charge from the Kings in Sacramento’s final game of the season.

“Got that game competitive after getting a little 13 point lead at the end of the third quarter,” summarized Phil Jackson. “Had to dig in a little bit at the end of the game to sustain that victory. Good game by Pau Gasol and Shannon (Brown*). They led us in the scoring tonight and we had some help off the bench.”

60149844It wasn’t all good news off the bench, however, since Jordan Farmar strained his hamstring early in the second quarter. Farmar, however, will be active and could potentially play against the Clippers on Wednesday evening after being re-evaluated in the morning.

“He’ll dress tomorrow,” said Jackson of his quick-healing backup point guard. “He’s played 81 games this year. I want him to dress and be on the active roster for tomorrow’s game.”

The rest of the regular bench players all played a role in L.A.’s win, led by Sasha Vujacic’s season-high 13 points and six rebounds*, Luke Walton’s nine points with three assists in a season-high 24 minutes, and DJ Mbenga’s seven points with five boards (and his newly-gold dyed hair, matching that of Ron Artest). Regular sub Brown, starting in Bryant’s absence, added 24 points with three rebounds and three assists.
*Four of Vujacic’s season-high six rebounds came on the offensive end, including two tip ins, prompting this Phil Jackson postgame quip: “He’s an offensive rebounding Machine. That’s what he is now.”

Jackson suggested that Vujacic’s play has “got to make him feel much better about his game, and said that Walton “does things that create a little offensive rhythm for us and offensive opportunities.” While the team will continue to monitor how Walton’s back feels heading into the playoffs, he was happy at least with where things were on Tuesday.

“(My back) felt great,” he said. “It was a lot of fun out there, playing again and being out there and not having pain. To be out there and move and stuff was a lot of fun.”

Altogether, L.A.’s pine crew put up 24 points in the first half to help the Lakers take a 60-54 lead into the break, the home team shooting 52.3 percent thanks in part to Gasol’s 5-of-7. Sacramento wasn’t far behind, however, making 50 percent of their shots led by Jason Thompson’s 6-of-10 (15 points) and Francisco Garcia’s 5-for-8 (11 points).

60149846It was Vujacic who keyed the bench effort in the second half, not from the field but with those season-high six boards. Brown added 12 of his points, including a dagger jumper that put L.A. up 106-100 with 28 seconds remaining, getting that look thanks to good ball movement that had been a factor all night.

“We got the ball moving today and then everybody got good looks,” explained Brown.

The bench effort wouldn’t have mattered without the outstanding play of Gasol, who nailed 12-of-15 shots from the field to score his 28, marking the fifth straight game that he’d managed at least 23 points. In fact, Gasol’s averaged
27.6 points in those last five on 65 percent shooting, not to mention nearly 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

“He’s had real good opportunities, he’s had some real exceptional games for us,” said Jackson. “Without Kobe on the floor he’s had more of a load to carry, so all those things have contributed to it. He’s going in at the right level which I want to see him play at the offensive end.”

In short, with Kobe Bryant getting some rest for the playoffs, the Lakers’ other superstar has been playing his best basketball.

The bench, meanwhile, will look to back up its collective performance with another good one in the Wednesday finale back at STAPLES Center, albeit on the road, but until then, your numbers:

65 Pau Gasol’s shooting percentage in his last five games, during which he’s averaged 27.6 points, nearly 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. He went for 28 points, eight boards, three assists and a block against the Kings.

49.4 L.A.’s solid shooting percentage for the evening, though Sacramento hung around thanks to converting 47.8 percent of its own shots.

41 Bench points for the Lakers, paced by Sasha Vujacic’s 13, nine from Luke Walton – who played a season-high 24 minutes, and seven from DJ Mbenga.

24 Points for Shannon Brown, just three off his season and career high, on 10-of-19 shooting in place of Kobe Bryant, who rested the avulsion fracture on his right index finger.

13 Season-high point total for Sasha Vujacic, who made 5-of-9 shots, including a buzzer-beating three in the first quarter. He also managed a season-high six rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end, all in the second half.

Jordan Farmar Strains Left Hamstring

*****UPDATE: Farmar will be re-evaluated on Wednesday morning, but according to Lakers PR, he may in fact play in L.A.’s game against the Clippers. It was originally reported (see below) that he would not play.

Jordan Farmar strained his left hamstring in the second quarter of L.A.’s Tuesday evening game against Sacramento, and would not return to action.

The Lakers announced that Farmar would also not play in the team’s regular season finale on Wednesday evening against the Clippers.

He is listed as day-to-day and will be re-evaluated heading into the playoffs, which the Lakers will open against Oklahoma City.

Pau Gasol: Stat Monster

60132597The performance of Pau Gasol in the last week or so has been nothing short of fantastic, worthy of a quick look:

April 4 vs. San Antonio: 13-of-20 FG’s, 32 pts, 7 reb, 6 ast, 3 blk
April 8 @ Denver: 8-of-17 FG’s, 26 pts, 13 reb, 5 ast, 3 blk
April 9 @ Minnesota: 11-of-17 FG’s, 29 pts, 15 reb, 4 ast, 4 blk
April 11 vs. Portland: 9-of-13 FG’s, 23 pts, 12 reb, 4 ast, 3 blk

That averages out to 27.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists & 3.3 blocks on 61.2 percent shooting.

Not bad.

On the season, Gasol’s averaging 18.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.57 steals and 1.76 blocks in 37.2 minutes per game.