Monthly Archive for May, 2010

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Kobe Passes Mailman, Ranks 4th in Playoff Points

60562432When Kobe Bryant nailed a three-pointer at the 2:04 mark of the second period in Tuesday’s Game 4 in Phoenix, one of his six in the game, he surpassed Karl Malone (4,761) for fourth on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list.

His 38-point game upped his total to 4,785 points, thanks to 28.9 points per game in the 2010 postseason and over 30 points per game in both the 2008 and 2009 playoffs.

Bryant had already passed fellow Laker Jerry West (4,457) for first on the Lakers’ all-time playoff scoring chart and 5th in the NBA on April 22 at Oklahoma City, and passed Larry Bird (3,897), John Havlicek (3,776), Hakeem Olajuwon (3,755) and Magic Johnson (3,701) in last season’s title run.

Only three players remain on the list ahead of Bryant: Shaquille O’Neal (5,248); Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762); and Michael Jordan (5,987).

Kobe getting healthier, better

60545354Kobe Bryant sat out four of the Lakers’ final five regular season games to rest his sore right knee, then struggled with his ailment through the first four games of the team’s First Round series against Oklahoma City.

That the 2009 Finals MVP wasn’t playing like himself was pretty obvious from his jump shot alone, as his lack of usual burst saw him shoot a combined 33-for-86, just 38.4 percent, from the field.

But after Game 4, a 110-89 road loss, Bryant got the knee drained (as he confirmed after Monday’s practice heading into Tuesday’s Game 4 at Phoenix), and he’s looked like … well … Kobe Bryant, since.

In Game 5 of the OKC series, Bryant’s 13 points and seven assists were misleading as he led a dominating performance that created an 18-point halftime lead and allowed him to watch from the bench in the fourth quarter.

60545172From that point on, Bryant took off, scoring at least 30 points in six straight playoff games, all wins, before a 21-point, 13-assist (his playoff career high) performance in Game 2 of the Suns’ series and a near triple-double (36 points, 11 assists, nine rebounds) in Game 3.

(*UPDATED) Then Bryant was even better in Game 4, posting 38 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in a second consecutive loss.

Scoring wise, Bryant averaged 24 points on 38.4 percent shooting pre knee drain, and has averaged 30.8 points on 53.1 percent in the ten games since, eight of which were Lakers wins.

Here’s a breakdown of Bryant’s game-by-game numbers, including assists and rebounds, throughout the playoffs:

Conference Finals vs. Phoenix
Game 1: 40 points on 13-of-23 FG’s (56.5%); 5 assists; 5 rebounds
Game 2: 21 points on 8-of-18 FG’s (44.4%); 13 assists**; 5 rebounds
Game 3: 36 points on 13-of-24 FG’s (54.2%); 11 assists; 9 rebounds
Game 4: 38 points on 15-of-22 FG’s (68.2%); 10 assists; 7 rebounds
**Playoff career high
SERIES AVERAGES: 33.8 points; 55.7% FG’s; 9.8 assists; 6.5 rebounds

Semifinals vs. Utah
Game 1: 31 points on 12-of-19 FG’s (63.2%); 4 assists; 3 rebounds
Game 2: 30 points on 10-of-22 FG’s (45.5%); 8 assists; 5 rebounds
Game 3: 35 points on 13-of-24 FG’s (54.2%); 7 assists; 4 rebounds
Game 4: 32 points on 11-of-23 FG’s (47.8%); 4 assists; 3 rebounds
SERIES: 32.0 points; 52.3% FG’s; 5.8 assists; 3.8 rebounds

First Round vs. Oklahoma City
Game 1: 21 points on 6-of-19 FG’s (31.6%); 3 assists; 2 rebounds
Game 2: 39 points on 12-of-28 FG’s (42.9%); 1 assist; 5 rebounds
Game 3: 24 points on 10-of-29 FG’s (34.5%); 8 assists; 4 rebounds
Game 4: 12 points on 5-of-10 FG’s (50%); 4 assists; 3 rebounds
Game 5: 13 points on 4-of-9 FG’s (44.4%); 7 assists; 3 rebounds
Game 6: 32 points on 12-of-25 FG’s (48.0%); 3 assists; 7 rebounds
SERIES: 23.5 points; 40.8% FG’s; 4.3 assists; 4.0 rebounds

PLAYOFF TOTALS: 28.2 points; 47.1% FG’s; 6.0 assists; 4.5 rebounds; 1.0 steals

Subs Lead Suns over Lakers in Game 4

60562665In an absolute must-win Game 4 for the Phoenix Suns, it wasn’t Steve Nash or Amare Stoudemire, but the team’s entire bench that stepped up in a major way, hitting nine three-pointers and playing tough D to even the Western Conference Finals against L.A. at two despite another near triple-double from Kobe Bryant.

Bryant hit six threes himself, including three in the third quarter to help erase a 9-point halftime deficit created by the Suns’ 41-point second quarter, but Phoenix’s reserves hit three consecutive corner threes in just over a minute midway through the fourth quarter to turn a 87-85 Lakers’ lead into an 89-98 deficit.

L.A. would get no closer than six points with 2:24 to go before ultimately falling 115-106 as Bryant finished with 38 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds a game after going for 36, 11 and nine.

But for Phoenix, all five reserves played at least 17 minutes to combine for 54 points, while scrambling around on D and hitting an offensive glass that the Suns’ claimed 18-13.

60562422“I thought they played about as well as they could play,” said Suns coach Alvin Gentry of his pine unit. “I thought they were much better defensively than they were offensively, and they were great offensively.”

The Lakers, after taking 32 three-pointers in Game 3 (a franchise playoff high), attempted 28 to make nine against a healthy dose of zone defense, but L.A. coach Phil Jackson wasn’t upset with an offense that shot the ball very well overall.

“We shot 49 percent, didn’t we?,” said Jackson. “I don’t think we struggled against the zone. I think we struggled at the defensive end.”

Six Suns scored in double figures, led by Stoudemire’s 21 points and 14 from both Channing Frye (4-of-8 threes) and Leandro Barbosa (2-of-4 threes) for a team that for a second straight home game had a major margin at the free throw line.

“We lost the foul line both nights,” said Jackson, his team taking 13 foul shots to 32 from the Suns. “We have to do a better job in that activity. It seemed like every time we went near them they fell down.”

In Game 3, Phoenix took 22 more foul shots than the Lakers, and the 19 additional attempts in Game 4 helped mask L.A.’s edge in made field goals (45-41) and shooting percentage (49.5 to 48.8 percent). Yet the bottom line for Jackson was L.A.’s inability to get stops when they were most needed.

“They came out and hit a number of threes in that second quarter that excited the fans, and we knew we’d have to weather some storm in the sequence of games,” he explained. “We were hoping it would just be in the second quarter, but they came back in the fourth (and did it again). We didn’t shut them down in the fourth, and that’s the time you have to do it.”

Indeed, after winning the third period 29-21, L.A. lost the fourth 30-22.

That guaranteed the team’s return trip to Phoenix for a Saturday evening Game 6 following Thursday’s Game 5 at STAPLES Center.

Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
6 Three-pointers made by Kobe Bryant, tying his career playoff high that was previously set on June 2, 2000, in Portland. Bryant had yet another terrific all-around game, scoring 38 points on 15-of-22 field goals along with 10 assists and seven rebounds.

7 Turnovers for the Lakers … but the Suns had just eight in a mostly well-played game.

18 Offensive rebounds for Phoenix, which hurt L.A. throughout the evening.

41 Second quarter points for the Suns on 17-of-23 shooting, including 7-of-10 three-pointers.

54 Bench points for Phoenix, which shouldn’t be compared with L.A.’s 18 points off the pine since the Suns’ subs combined to play so many more minutes. No Suns’ starter, as it were, played more than 31:19, while Kobe Bryant played 44:42 for L.A.

Lakers 106, Suns 115: Game 4 Running Diary

60562509Lakers – Suns Gameday Page
L.A. looked to bounce back from its Game 2 loss in Phoenix, which snapped an 8-game playoff winning streak, on Tuesday night in the Valley of the Sun. We were there to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison
Suns: Taylor Griffin

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Suns: Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire, Robin Lopez

Pregame Video: Brian Shaw
Assistant coach Brian Shaw joined us once again on Lakers TV to talk about the adjustments L.A. needed to make from Game 3, including better ball movement against the expected (at times) zone defense from Phoenix, and an emphasis on more interior shots. CLICK HERE to watch.

60562491First Quarter
9:50 Both teams came out on fire in Game 1 on offense, and nothing changed early on as L.A. and Phoenix combined to go 6-for-6. Bynum’s activity level was high, as he notched a bucket, an assist and two boards, after a tough Game 1 in which he played only seven minutes. The building was slightly less orange than in Game 1 (t-shirt give-away), but still looked like Holland despite a sprinkling of purple and gold jerseys.

4:54 Gasol was at heart of L.A.’s 9-0 run that opened a 17-12 lead, beginning with an and-1 layup and ending with a pretty layup off Bryant’s lead pass. The Suns, meanwhile, had managed to hit only three of 18 shots after the 3-for-3 start. In unrelated news, “The Bachelorette” started on Monday night, leading me to wonder who’d be the most entertaining Laker to see on the show. Few bachelors remain on the squad, but I wouldn’t mind watching Congo Cash (TV time outs are long, OK).

0:45.0 Luke Walton checked into the action to give Bryant a breather, and showed his worth with a beautiful trailing pass to Bynum – back into the game after Gasol picked up foul No. 2 – for a thunderous two-handed dunk that shook the basket. Jason Richardson, however, quickly countered with a pull-up three-pointer to tie the score at 23 heading into the second quarter.

Second Quarter
8:51 L.A. missed all but two of seven shots in the three second quarter minutes, though Bynum’s put-back of his own miss got him to six points with five boards. Phoenix, meanwhile, got a Jared Dudley three, Lou Amundson layup and Leandro Barbosa driving finish to put the home team up five.

5:59 Phoenix continued its push from the bench and lights-out shooting, getting three-pointers from Channing Frye and another from Dudley to take a 10-point lead. Stepping into what had quickly become a feverish crowd was Bryant, who hit back-to-back threes from the right wing (starting to roll after failing to score on only one first quarter attempt). Barbosa countered the first before being called for a charge (Fisher drawing it) with the Suns’ leading 47-40.

2:04 The three-point shot making grew to an absurd level in the second, as the Suns hit 7-of-9, including three from the previously-terrible Frye, but Bryant countered with 3-of-4 himself as L.A. stayed in the game, down 60-53 after Gasol hit 1-of-2 free throws. The lead settled at nine as the half ended after an incredible 17-for-23 shooting performance in the period for Phoenix,

60562497Third Quarter
8:46 Remember that massive Phoenix offensive output in the second quarter? Kobe seemed determined to erase its impact almost entirely, nailing back-to-back three-pointers from the wing, his fourth and fifth of the evening, to cut the Suns’ lead down to just two at 70-68. In related news, Bryant is ridiculous at basketball.

5:06 Gasol, somehow, grabbed just his first rebound on Stoudemire’s second missed free throw, strange considered he averaged about 13 heading into the game (though Phoenix not missing in the second played a role). Two minutes later, Bryant hit another jumper, that time a pull-up in the lane to make it a one-point game, vaulting himself to 28 points with six assists and six boards.

2:20 Anybody mention the Black Mamba yet? Bryant nailed still another three-pointer to tie the game, his sixth (a career playoff high), to reach 31 points. Then he found a cutting Odom for a wide-open layup when Phoenix overplayed him, and Gasol hit 1-of-2 freebies to give the Lakers their first lead in a while at 84-83. The Suns did get two points back when Farmar fouled Goran Dragic trying to grab a jump ball to take an 85-84 lead into the fourth, but L.A. – thanks to Bryant and some solid defnse – had trimmed the 9-point halftime lead to just one.

Fourth Quarter
6:47 That was fast … after a quiet third from the Suns, the bench unit picked up where it left off in the second as Frye, Barbosa and Dudley hit back-to-back-to-back threes, all nearly from the same spot in the corner opposite L.A.’s bench. That turned an 87-all tie into a 98-89 Suns lead, the visitors in a bit of trouble.

2:24 The Lakers, looking for a final push, cut the lead to six when Kobe hit a defensive three-seconds technical and Gasol slammed home Artest’s miss, but the Suns made five straight free throws (as first Gasol, then Bryant looked incredulous at respective calls) to put the game on ice. Phoenix ended up shooting 19 more free throws after taking 22 more in Game 3.

0:35.4 Odom’s three-pointer was L.A.’s ninth, but it took 28 attempts to get there, and fell into the too-little, too-late category. Bryant finished with 36 points, 10 assists and seven boards a night after going for 36, 11 and nine in the series tying loss.

Stay tuned for more on Lakers.com.

Video Preview: Game 4 in Phoenix

After the Lakers’ first loss in just under a month, assistant coach Brian Shaw joined us to preview Game 4 in Phoenix, set for a 6 p.m. tip on Tuesday evening.

The former Laker player detailed his frustration with the team’s high volume of three-pointers taken and failure to break down the Suns’ zone defense, shared his expectations for adjustments in Game 4 (such as trying to make Amare Stoudemire pass the ball) and more.

To watch, click play above or head over to our Lakers Gameday page.

L.A.’s 8-game playoff streak snapped in Phoenix

60545164After eight consecutive playoff victories, the Lakers found themselves on the other side of the scoreboard in a Game 3 loss to Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals, struggling to get the ball inside while conceding 22 more free throws and committing 10 more turnovers than the Suns in a 118-109 result.

Kobe Bryant nearly reached his first career playoff triple-double with a 36-point, 11-assist, 9-rebound performance, but Amare Stoudemire scored 42 points while a foul-plagued Andrew Bynum played for just 7:31 and Lamar Odom fouled out late in the fourth.

“They attacked the hoop today and earned 42 foul shots,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. “We seemed to be staying home on the three-point shooters, and Stoudemire and (Robin) Lopez (carried) night for them.”

The Suns certainly took advantage of L.A.’s lack of Bynum inside, as Stoudemire made 14-of-22 field goals and Lopez 8-of-10 (20 total points), the whole team parading to the foul line, including 11 times in a tone-setting first quarter.

“I think the early fouls on our front court guys really impacted the game,” said Derek Fisher, who scored 18 points with five boards and three assists in a solid individual game. “That allowed them to get to the free throw line really on a consistent basis … we held them to a low shooting percentage most of the game but the free throws were just killing us.”

60545082The Lakers did get what’s become customarily elite efficiency from Pau Gasol, who nailed 11-of-14 shots to improve his shooting percentage in the series to 69.6 percent, but he took just one of those shots in the fourth quarter after scoring 14 final quarter points in Game 2. Odom attempted 14 shots, but many came on the perimeter (0-of-4 from three) while Bynum attempted only one shot in his limited minutes.

“I think the zone defense caused us some problems because we weren’t able to get the ball in to Pau on a consistent basis,” said Fisher. “That’s when we’re at our best.”

Instead, the Lakers attempted 32 three-pointers, the most in playoff franchise history, with their previous high coming in the team’s Game 3 First Round loss in Oklahoma City.

“Thirty-two three-point shots is not what we want to do as a basketball team,” said Jackson, whose team had carved up Phoenix in the lane in Games 1 and 2 at STAPLES Center. “(Phoenix played) a better zone (defense) than they played (in Game 2). I think we figured it out in the third quarter, but we didn’t figure out defensively what we had to do.”

It didn’t help that L.A.’s best defensive presence lasted only two first quarter minutes before checking out with two fouls, and picked up foul No. 4 with 9:14 left in the third.

“Obviously (Bynum’s) been a key player all year,” said Gasol. “He can bring a lot to the table, defensively and offensively. He’s a big presence for us … of course I would like him to play more and produce more and help us.”

Even without Bynum, the Lakers took a brief lead with 8:47 to go in the fourth, as two free throws from Odom made it 90-89 before Phoenix outscored L.A. by 10 in the final eight minutes, making 10-of-12 free throws to finish 37-of-42 at the line.

Bryant’s advice?

“Stop hacking,” he said. “Simple as that. Play fundamentally sound, make them take tough shots.”

Many of those fouls were drawn by Stoudemire, who made 18 trips to the charity stripe, cementing an impressive individual game after taking some heat for his play and comments in L.A.

“He wasn’t going to come out here and roll over,” said Bryant. “Still, we could have done a better job keeping him off the free throw line. Even though Amare had an explosive game, we feel like we gave them way too many easy points at the free throw line.”

At the other end of the floor individually, Bryant was deadly with his shooting early on, making his first five and 7-of-9 first quarter shots for 15 points before beginning to dish off when Phoenix brought double-teams as the game went on. But he did have five of the team’s 17 turnovers.

“Some of them were bobbled balls and dribbling with your toe on the line, silly stuff,” he lamented. “Other ones came from their defense in the zone, and not reading lanes correctly, them getting hands on balls.”

Free throws, turnovers, too many threes, indeed, but the bottom line from L.A.’s perspective becomes getting a win in Game 4 so an opportunity to clinch the series in Game 5 at home is on the table.

The Lakers have won at least one road game in each of their last six playoff series.

“We’ll be OK,” said Ron Artest, who struggled with his shooting (4-for-13) as well. “We’ll come back and play hard and put it together and come back and get it.”

Until L.A. has that chance on Tuesday back at US Airways Center, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
1 More rebound needed for Kobe Bryant to reach his first career playoff triple-double, as he finished with 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.

10 Turnover discrepancy, helping keep Phoenix ahead throughout most of the game, as L.A. committed 17 giveaways to just 10 from the Suns. Phoenix also shot 22 more free throws in the contest, making 37-of-42 (88.1%) to L.A.’s 16-of-20 (80%).

29 Days since L.A.’s last loss, which came on April 24 in Oklahoma City.

30.4 Combined shooting percentage of Ron Artest, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown, who came into the game shooting 56.8% from the field including 11-of-19 (57.9%) from three-point range. They were a collective 4-of-13 (28.6%) from distance.

69.6 Pau Gasol’s shooting percentage in the series after another stellar shooting game, in which he made 11-of-14 shots (78.6%). Gasol, however, took just one fourth quarter shot a game after he scored 14 points in the final period.

Lakers 109, Suns 118: Game 3 Running Diary

60544698Lakers – Suns Gameday Page
L.A. looked to follow up two impressive home victories in Game 3′s Sunday evening contest in Phoenix. We were there to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison
Suns: Taylor Griffin

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Suns: Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire, Robin Lopez

Pregame Video: Brian Shaw
Assistant coach Brian Shaw joined us on Lakers TV to discuss L.A.’s pick-and-roll defense, Pau Gasol’s basketball IQ, why Lamar Odom is so crucial to the team’s success, what to expect from the Suns’ reserves in particular playing on their home floor and more. CLICK HERE to watch.

60544723First Quarter
7:37 After an all-offense opening, in which both teams scored 15 points in five minutes, Fisher (decided not to use first names anymore in diaries … you know the Lakers if you’re reading this) nailed his second straight open perimeter jumper, thanks to Gasol’s pretty pass out of a double-team. Moments earlier, Odom – in early with Bynum picking up two personal fouls on Stoudemire – banked home an alley-oop inbounds pass out of a time out. How many times has that play worked?

3:11 OK … speaking of “all offense.” It was almost ridiculous, the teams trading buckets as in a layup line from all over the court. Bryant led the way for L.A., making his first four shots, including a three-pointer, while Jason Richardson nailed two three-pointers to help Phoenix to a 27-22 lead before Fisher and Bryant hit again to cut the lead to one. Bryant finally missed, though with his left hand, after 5-for-5 with his right.

25.9 Despite a huge advantage at the foul line (11 attempts to L.A.’s 0), the Suns trailed 32-29 as L.A. again shot 58 percent (literally the team’s percentage in Games 1 & 2) behind Bryant’s 7-of-9, plus Gasol’s 4-of-6 (including the quarter’s final hoop, an emphatic one-handed jam). The Suns shot just 39.1 percent, but used the foul line to hang around. Nice atmosphere in Phoenix for Game 3, unless you’re allergic to oranges…

60544682Second Quarter
11:04 After closing the first on a 10-2 run, the Lakers quickly scored the first four points of the second when Bynum converted in the lane plus the foul, and Brown hopped on his broom to fly in and slam home the missed free throw, opening a 36-29 lead for L.A. In related news, Brown’s a completely absurd athlete, helping to obscure his other three field goal misses.

6:41 The Suns did respond with a 6-0 run, but back came the Lakers with a Gasol basket near the hoop and Farmar’s first triple of the night after he nailed 5-of-6 in Games 1 and 2 to put L.A. up 41-35 and cause a Suns’ time out.

0:54.8 It certainly wasn’t a good final few minutes for the Lakers, who conceded an 8-0 run to close the half, including four more Suns freebies that pushed the home team’s edge to 20-3 in free throw attempts. The Suns capitalized by making 18, while L.A. missed all three, in a 54-47 halftime margin. The Lakers had led by as many as seven early in the quarter, also known as a 14-point turnaround. The Lakers also had some trouble with the 2-3 zone defense Phoenix used for part of the second, scoring just 15 points after a 32-point first quarter.

60544693Third Quarter
9:58 Lots of action in the first two minutes of the third, as Bynum picked up foul No. 4, Artest hit his first three, Fisher drew a foul while attempting a three (making all) and Jason Richardson joined Stoudemire, Robin Lopez and Steve Nash in double figures with an and-1 layup to put the Suns up 64-57. My fingers are tired from that.

5:20 After hitting his second three-pointer, Fisher took exception to something Lopez said, or the contact he made, while running past Fisher, which ultimately resulted in matching technical fouls (no free throws). As things began to heat up, Artest then drew a foul on Lopez, and made both to cut the Suns’ lead to three at 73-70. While Lopez managed yet another field goal, his improbable seventh in eight attempts, Fisher answered with still another three.

0:01.0 A solid quarter from the visitors was shown on the scoreboard, L.A. tying things up at 84 with three seconds left when Bryant hit two free throws, but Brown was whistled for a foul after making light contact with Leandro Barbosa at midcourt, allowing the Brazilian two free throws that put Phoenix up 86-84 after three. In Game 3 in Utah, L.A. had turned a 4-point deficit at halftime into a 2-point lead after three, and in this Game 3 were sparked by Fisher and Artest, who scored 20-of-28 points to get things going, before Bryant added seven in a 37-point offensive performance.

60544793Fourth Quarter
8:47 Despite being down 10 in the turnover battle (14-4), and 19 points from the foul line, the Lakers took a 1-point lead when Odom hit 2-of-2 free throws, making it 90-89 for the Purple and Gold.

4:08 Two Bryant free throws broke a three-plus minute scoreless streak for L.A., who then got another stop on D and two more Kobe FT’s to make it a 4-point game at 100-96. Phoenix had begun to take control before the mini run from No. 24, who reached 32 points with his 10 assists and eight boards, in search of his first career playoff triple-double.

2:42 Back-to-back possessions epitomized a rough game for Odom, who first missed a wide-open corner three (4-of-14 shooting on the night), then grabbed Lopez, which was his sixth foul. The two Lopez free throws and a Nash corner jumper after Artest’s missed three pushed the Phoenix lead to 10, its biggest of the night. Though L.A. would get as close as six once again on a corner three from Ron Ron, the Suns would eventually win by nine at 118-109 to ensure at least a Game 5 in Los Angeles.

Clearly, the Lakers took too many three-pointers for Phil Jackson’s liking, taking 32 while making nine, scoring only 44 points in the paint despite 11-of-14 shooting from Pau Gasol.

Stay tuned for all your postgame info on Lakers.com.

Lakers Pregame Music Update

73969385MW008_De_La_Hoya_v__6_12_14_PMSure, we had assistant coach Brian Shaw on LakersTV to talk about Game 3 in Phoenix.

Perhaps more important: what music certain Lakers players have playing on respective iPods heading to Sunday night’s contest:

Lamar Odom: 50 Cent
Note: Back in the winter months, Odom was in a Rick Ross phase, but said he’d switched over to some 50 Cent (pictured above, photo credit to Ethan Miller/Getty Images). This is natural, since 50, like Odom, is from Jamaica Queens, New York. We then spent two minutes talking about Floyd Mayweather’s entrance to his fight with Oscar De La Hoya, when 50 Cent rapped live while accompanying Mayweather into the ring (awesome … you can find on YouTube).

Ron Artest: “Coach”
Note: That would be Phil Jackson. Artest actually answered my question as follows: “Whatever Coach is saying.” Odom, seated in the next locker over, got a kick out of that response, but Artest just affirmed that he was all about Phil. Dead serious, he was, which Jackson and his staff would likely enjoy hearing.

Shannon Brown: “The usual”
Note: For Brown, that means some Young Jeezy, some Lil’ Wayne, some Rick Ross, Jay-Z and a few more. Brown seems to stay pretty consistent and loyal to his regulars.

DJ Mbenga: Congolese music
Note: Though Mbenga will on occasion listen to some American music, he’s often getting into Congolese beats before games. Mbenga has repeatedly offered to share some of these songs with us, but we’ve yet to make it happen (apologies). He has also explained that both Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher enjoy the music, particularly dancing along with it, and even got Bryant to nod his affirmation after practice one day.

Josh Powell: Justin Bieber
Note: The man of many musical tastes, who likes hip hop the most but listens to a wide variety of songs (as shared throughout last season’s “J-Peezy’s Playlist” was listening to Justin Bieber’s “Baby” (featuring Ludacris). I asked Powell what his new baby boy (Joshua Jr., whom he calls “Deuce”) listens to, suggesting 2pac. Powell’s (facetious) answer: “We keep him Lil’ Wayned out.”

Just thought you should know.

Video Preview: L.A. – Phoenix Game 3

Assistant coach Brian Shaw joined us on LakersTV to preview Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, as the Lakers look to build on a 2-0 series lead they built in part by averaging 126 points in two home games.

Shaw identified a particular play with which Phoenix had success that L.A. would like to contain, talked about his team’s pick-and-roll defense, Pau Gasol’s basketball IQ, why Lamar Odom is so crucial to the team’s success and what to expect from the Suns’ reserves in particular playing on their home floor.

To watch, click play up above.

Playoff Podcast: Kevin Ding

blog_100521_kevindingThe Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding has covered the Lakers’ beat throughout Phil Jackson’s tenure in Los Angeles, starting back in the 1999-2000 campaign, meaning he’s nearly through with his 11th season of Purple and Gold basketball.

Ding joined us on the latest Playoff Podcast to delve into the always-interesting topic of Lamar Odom, to trace the symbiotic relationship of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol over the past three seasons (forged in part on a language of extremely high basketball IQ), to examine the up-and-down nature of L.A.’s bench (currently: up) and more.

To listen, click play below.