Monthly Archive for July, 2010

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Popcorn Machine: ESPN’s Doris Burke

Making her second appearance on the Popcorn Machine is ESPN hoops analyst/reporter Doris Burke, who covered the sideline for ABC’s broadcast of the NBA Finals for the second straight season.

Burke offered her perspective on the much-noted postgame 7 interview with Ron Artest, discussed what she’s seen behind the scenes from Phil Jackson, talked about the on-court basketball fusion of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and more.

To listen, head over to the Popcorn Machine page on

Dr. Jerry Buss – Hall of Fame

Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss has seen his team into the NBA Finals 16 times in 31 seasons atop the franchise ladder, ultimately resulting in 10 of the team’s 16 championships.

For his accomplishments, Dr. Buss is set to receive the highest honor in sports: enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which will take place August 13 and 14.

Steve Springer documented Dr. Buss’s career in a piece special to that you can read by CLICKING HERE.

By The Numbers: Gasol vs. NBA’s Best Bigs

59605319Pau Gasol is a better basketball player than his statistics, impressive as they are, show.

When one is competing with talents like Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom, certain stat production – namely scoring, field goal attempts and rebounds – are going to take a hit. On the other hand, assists and field goal percentage can receive a boost, all things we saw with the Spaniard’s statistical 2009-10.

Here’s how Gasol’s regular and postseason numbers compared with some of the league’s other elite bigs, whose teams made the playoffs with the exception of Chris Bosh and Andrew Bogut:

Regular Season Numbers Points Rebounds Assists Blocks FG%
Pau Gasol 18.3 11.3 3.4 1.74 53.6
Dwight Howard 18.3 13.2 1.8 2.8 61.2
Tim Duncan 17.9 10.1 3.2 1.5 51.8
Amare Stoudemire 23.1 8.9 1.0 1.0 55.7
Dirk Nowitzki 25.0 7.7 2.7 1.0 48.1
Chris Bosh 24.0 10.8 2.4 1.0 51.8
Carlos Boozer 19.5 11.2 3.2 0.5 56.2
Kevin Garnett 14.3 7.3 2.7 0.8 52.1
Andrew Bogut 15.9 10.2 1.8 2.5 52.0
Al Horford 14.2 9.9 2.3 1.1 55.1

Playoffs Numbers Points Rebounds Assists Blocks FG%
Pau Gasol 19.6 11.1 3.5 2.1 53.9
Dwight Howard 18.1 11.1 1.4 3.5 61.4
Tim Duncan 19.0 9.9 2.6 1.7 52.0
Amare Stoudemire 22.2 6.6 1.1 1.5 51.9
Dirk Nowitzki 26.7 8.2 3.0 0.7 54.7
Carlos Boozer 19.7 13.2 3.0 0.7 53.0
Kevin Garnett 15.0 7.4 2.5 0.9 49.5
Al Horford 14.6 9.0 1.8 1.7 52.3
Chris Bosh N/A*
Andrew Bogut N/A**

*Team did not make playoffs
**Due to injury

In Summation
By these measures, it’s pretty clear that Gasol belongs at the forefront of the argument for the NBA’s best all-around big man* from 2009-10, particularly in the playoffs.

Numbers, however, never tell the whole story. For example, Garnett’s or especially Howard’s defensive impact can’t be shown statistically; Duncan’s intangibles and Gasol’s mastery of Phil Jackson’s offense help team flow immeasurably; Nowitzki’s or Bosh’s game is often on the perimeter, which can be easier on a defense than a low-post threat;

But the statistics also don’t lie.

For the regular season, Gasol tied for fifth in points with the other elite bigs, ranked second in rebounding and assists, came in third in blocks and fifth in field goal percentage.

In the playoffs, the three-time All-Star ranked third in scoring, tied for second on the glass, came in second with blocked shots, third in field goal percentage and led all bigs in assists.

And his team, of course, won the championship.

*We considered including a few other players like Chris Kaman and Zach Randolph (whose teams didn’t make the playoffs), David Lee (team missed playoffs, doesn’t spend as much time on the block), but ultimately settled on the 10 players listed.

Date Set For Bynum’s Surgery

D073839007The Lakers confirmed Monday night that center Andrew Bynum will undergo minor surgery on July 28 to correct a small tear of the anterior horn of his lateral meniscus in the right knee that he suffered in Game 6 of Round 1 of the playoffs.

Bynum had previously speculated that the surgery would take place on July 18.

The 22-year-old had the knee drained on June 22, and subsequently took some time off, highlighted by a trip to watch the World Cup in South Africa with some of his high school friends just a few days after becoming a two-time NBA champion.

Bynum impressed the organization, his coaches and his teammates by battling through pain in that knee all the way through Game 7 of the Finals, offering his paint presence at both ends while averaging 8.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.57 blocks in 24 minutes.

60787695His importance to the Lakers was also felt in the regular season: when he and Pau Gasol were both healthy, the team went 38-12 (.76); when one or both didn’t play, L.A. was just 19-13 (.59).

The New Jersey native opened the season by amassing double-doubles in eight of L.A.’s first nine games, averaging 18.4 points and 11.8 rebounds in Gasol’s absence (hamstring). Then in March, Bynum was heating up down the stretch, averaging 20.0 points and 10.3 rebounds in a four-game period before his regular season ended with a strained Achilles injury.

Fortunately for Bynum and the Lakers, his Achilles is fully healed, and he’s confident that recovery from the minor knee surgery won’t cut into his offseason plan to improve his core strength, footwork and finishing moves.

“I definitely have work to do,” he said during his exit interview. “I know with my size I (can be dominant). Offensively there is stuff that I can work on with core strength so I can finish over contact.”

Bynum is also sure to be happy about the return of both his coach, Phil Jackson, and co-captain, Derek Fisher, whose collective return was “super important” to him.

Stay tuned for an update on when information is made available following Bynum’s operation.

Video: Lakers Top 10 Playoff Plays

The NBA put together a video highlight package (above) of some of L.A.’s best postseason plays:

10) Pau Gasol’s facial off Kobe Bryant’s bounce pass on Phoenix’s Lou Amundson in Game 3 of the Western Finals.

9) Gasol and Lamar Odom swat back-to-back Carlos Boozer layup attempts in Game 1 of the Western Semi’s.

8) Odom strips Suns PG Steve Nash, and feeds Bryant for a breakaway dunk in Game 1 vs. Phoenix as L.A. ran away to victory.

7) Bryant swats Jazz guard Wesley Matthews and feeds Shannon Brown for a transition jam, sealing Game 2 against Utah at STAPLES Center.

6) Gasol tosses a no-look bounce pass to a cutting Kobe for an and-1 layup late in Game 1 against Phoenix.

5) Brown violated Phoenix air space while flying in for a two-handed put-back slam of Andrew Bynum’s missed free throw in Game 3 at Phoenix.

4) Brown was way, way up in the air again, hammering home a one-handed alley-oop from Gasol in Game 6 of the Finals against Boston to put L.A. up by 20 halfway through the third quarter.

3) With L.A. down 94-93 in Game 6 against Oklahoma City, Bryant narrowly missed a fadeaway J, but Gasol was there to tip the ball in and win the first round series for the Lakers.

2) Ron Artest charged past Suns forward Jason Richardson to a loose ball when Bryant air-balled a deep three-pointer and flung it off glass to win Game 5 of the Western Finals.

1) A medley of big plays in Game 7 of the Finals against Boston: an Artest strip of Ray Allen and subsequent layup; Fisher’s clutch game-tying three halfway through the fourth quarter

Take a look for yourself, and let us know on Twitter (@Lakers or @LakersReporter) what other plays you’d like to see*.
*Like Bryant’s series of fourth quarter daggers against Phoenix, or Fisher’s three-point bomb to give L.A. the lead late in Game 3 at Utah.

Caracter Finishes 3rd on Rookie Ladder

61057587Last week, Lakers second round picks Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks ranked first and third, respectively, on’s Rookie Ladder based on individual performances at the Las Vegas summer league.

While the statistical production of Ebanks waned in L.A.’s final two games, Caracter fell just two spots to No. 3, finishing behind only John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, the respective No. 1 and No. 5 overall picks in the 2010 Draft.

Not bad for a player Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak nabbed with the No. 58 selection.

The UTEP prospect closed summer league with averages of 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds (sixth most in league), 1.8 assists and 1.4 blocks on 59.3 percent shooting (second among players averaging at least 13 points).

Ebanks, meanwhile, finished with averages of 15.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting 45.5 percent from three-point range (5-of-11).

Both players performed more than well enough to produce some optimism heading into training camp, as summer league head coach Chuck Person said that both were “NBA players.”

Caracter and Ebanks will get their chance against some of the world’s best come October, when they’ll take the court with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and the rest of the Lakers.

Lakers Conclude Summer League with Loss

61057007It’s a good thing that the Lakers summer league squad was more intent on integrating players into the triangle offense than winning … because they didn’t win in Las Vegas.

An 80-71 loss on Thursday afternoon to San Antonio in L.A.’s final contest dropped the team to 0-5, though second rounders Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter ultimately showed some positive signs heading into October’s training camp.

Caracter scored 10 points with six boards, and Ebanks 11 point with seven boards, the two also combining for three blocks.

Both players were more productive throughout the five games than in Game 5, with Ebanks totaling 45 points in his first two contests and Caracter amassing three straight double-doubles.

Former first round pick and Slam Dunk champ Gerald Green had his chance to shine in the loss to San Antonio, using 30 minutes of playing time to score 18 points while matching Ebanks with seven rebounds.

The Lakers took a 35-34 lead into halftime, but were outscored 23-12 in what proved to be the decisive third quarter.

When the team gets back from Vegas, we’ll sit down with assistant coach Rasheed Hazzard for a more detailed breakdown, focusing on Ebanks and Caracter.

Kobe, Phil Pick up ESPY Awards

60928597In 2009, the Lakers won ESPN’s ESPY award for “Best Team” after winning their first title since 2002 with a 4-1 series victory over the Orlando Magic.

This year, the Saints took New Orleans to its first Super Bowl to win the team award and overshadow L.A.’s title at Boston’s expense, but Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson received awards to recognize their respective individual accomplishments.

Bryant was named best NBA player for a season in which he was named Finals MVP, an All-Star and as a member of both the All-NBA First Team and All-NBA Defensive First Team.

Jackson was recognized as the best coach in sports after taking a team to a title for the 11th time in his men-leading career.

For Kobe, it was the fifth ESPY he’s received, having previously been recognized for his 81-point game, another best player accolade in 2008 and for best team awards in 2002 and 2009.

Steve Blake In Laker Gold

Here’s a shot of the newest Laker, Steve Blake, donning his gold Lakers jersey for the first time:


Summer League is for Teaching


The name “Bill Bertka” carries considerable weight in basketball circles.

The long time coach, scout and executive – currently L.A.’s Director of Scouting/Basketball Consultant – has quite literally been working with the game’s best players for longer than any current NBA player has been alive, and enters his 30th season with the Lakers alone.

We mention Bertka because before L.A. played the Kings in their fourth summer league game in Las Vegas, he revealed the primary purpose of the summer sessions for the Lakers: to see how potential senior team roster prospects (see: Ebanks, Devin and Caracter, Derrick) fit into the triangle offense.

Towards that end, Bertka and Lakers summer league head coach Chuck Person and assistant Rasheed Hazzard spent six practices teaching their players the basics of the triangle, and continued to preach the key elements of the triple-post offense through four games, with one final contest to come on Thursday.

As such, while the Lakers are trying to install perhaps basketball’s most intricate system, most other teams run more simple offenses in Vegas.

61032342In related news, the Lakers have lost all four games, most recently Tuesday evening’s 90-84 defeat to DeMarcus Cousins (19 and 12) and Sacramento.

The triangle, after all, can take years for NBA veterans to learn, so one can imagine what it looks like when a group of guys with no previous triangle experience try to get their Tex Winter on.

But as Bertka explained, that’s the whole purpose heading into training camp in October.

“We’re trying to show these players how to operate the triangle in a short period of time,” he said. “There’s a long way to go, but we’re pleased with the progress they’ve made. (Tuesday night) was the best they’ve run the offense thus far.”

Indeed, after shooting just 33 percent in a Monday loss to New York, L.A. converted 45.5 percent of its shots against the Kings, including Caracter’s 6-of-9 performance for 14 points, as he grew more comfortable with where to be on the floor.

“My goal has been to understand the offense overall in general, continue to learn and take the things that my coaches are telling me,” said the team’s No. 58 pick. “I think I’ll be a lot better once everybody else knows the triangle in training camp.”

It’s much the same in the NFL, when teams hold OTA (Offseason Training Activities) primarily to integrate their rookies and young players into the team’s offensive and defensive schemes.

And, after four games, reports on both Ebanks and Caracter are positive.

“They’ve done well with the basic parts of the triangle,” said Person. “It’s a simple but complicated offense, so the fact that they’re making the right reads, have the right foot work and are trying to do the things we do with our regular (Lakers) team.

“I think Caracter and Ebanks are definitely NBA players.”

All the post-draft buzz about Ebanks (43rd pick) centered on his defense, and while he didn’t disappoint in that aspect, he showcased a more-developed-than-was-reported offensive flair, averaging 17.3 points in the first three games before a 12-point performance against the Kings.

Caracter, whom had atop the rookie ladder (with Ebanks third) after he posted double-doubles in the team’s first three games (17.7 points, 10.7 rebounds), posted 14 points with five rebounds and four blocks against No. 5 overall pick Cousins, who had a true size advantage against which Caracter battled ably.

“Cousins is a legitimate center in this league, and Caracter is a little bit undersized, but he has a good nose for the basketball, has good hands and he can jump, is quick off his feet,” Person continued. “I think he fared well, and as he continues to lose weight and get in shape and get acclimated into our system, he could (play) for us down the line.”

“Down the line” is what matters anyway.

“We’re looking for these guys to come into camp well versed in the things that we like to do out of Coach (Phil) Jackson’s system, so I was very impressed with what they did tonight,” Person concluded. “We try to get guys in the right positions to make the right reads out of the triangle, and I’ve been impressed and excited with the way things have worked out so far.”

That’s just how Bertka likes it.