Monthly Archive for August, 2010

USA Beats Brazil, Improves to 3-0 at Worlds

61449285On Sunday afternoon in Istanbul, Turkey, Lamar Odom scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds to help Team USA secure a narrow 70-68 victory, improving the American’s record to 3-0 at the World Championships.

Starting at center for the third consecutive game despite generally playing power forward for the Lakers, Odom played 30 of the 40 minutes for USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, second only to Kevin Durant’s 37 minutes. Odom, who has guarded NBA centers at times but rarely has to for Phil Jackson, spent much of his time banging bodies with Brazil’s 6-11 center, Tiago Splitter.

Splitter, who will play alongside Tim Duncan in San Antonio next season, was widely considered to be the best big man in Europe for the past few years. He managed a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double against the U.S., but saw limited action in the fourth quarter after Odom drew the Brazilian’s fourth foul on a charge late in the third period.

61449503Krzyzewski and his squad were afforded the benefit of Odom’s ball-handling* and passing abilities at a position usually lacking such skills, thanks to his ability to simultaneously contain Brazil’s biggest low post threat. As such, more traditional center Tyson Chandler was needed for only five minutes, the same number played by backup power forward Kevin Love.
*Odom did have four turnovers, however.

Leading the team on the offensive end was Durant, who netted 27 points on 18 shots, canning four three-pointers as well as leading the team with 10 boards in 37 minutes.

Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups – who join Durant, Odom and Andre Iguodala in the starting lineup – combined for 26 points in the U.S. back court, but the bench contributed only six points on the evening.

Team USA shot just 41.8 percent from the field, but went to the foul line 23 times compared to Brazil’s eight, signifying the American’s ability to get into the paint. Brazil, on the other hand, attempted 28 threes (0.7 per minute), and while early success from distance helped the South Americans build a lead, the well dried up late.

Up next for Odom and Co. is a Wednesday afternoon contest against Iran, followed by Thursday’s game against Tunisia to conclude group play. Should the U.S. continue their winning ways against the two weakest teams in their group, they’ll shore up the top seed in Group B heading into the next round of action.

Odom Assists USA in Win over Spain

61368356With 7:42 left in the second quarter of Team USA’s Sunday exhibition game against Spain in Madrid, the Spaniards had begun to come back from an explosive Team USA start.

With an early 16-point lead trimmed to eight due thanks to the play of Ricky Rubio, a draftee of Kurt Rambis’ Minnesota Timberwolves, the NBATV cameras picked up a shot of Lamar Odom gesturing demonstrably with his hands. L.A.’s forward continuously brought his thumbs to meet fingers in the form of a clamp, signifying to the Americans that they must communicate better after Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose failed to rotate into the paint when Chauncey Billups was beaten off the dribble.

Improve, they would.

On the next possession, Durant did well to close out on a perimeter shot, and Odom sealed the rebound with two hands. Then Odom took three big steps up the court with ball in hand to start the break, finding Billups on the right wing before cutting to the hoop. Billups rewarded Odom’s continued sprint to the basket with a pretty pass, resulting in a two-handed dunk.

61368260Odom kept going, gathering another defensive board, and just missing an offensive rebound at the other end before the ball went out of bounds. The two younger NBAers Odom had encouraged to communicate moments earlier then made consecutively excellent defensive plays to force Spanish turnovers, and after the second, Durant fed Odom for a lefty layup, plus the harm. L.O. missed the freebie, but he made up for it with a swat on defense. Billups capitalized with a layup, and team USA was back up by 14.

Odom’s line in that two-minute stretch: four points, three rebounds, one block and lots of talking.

The lanky lefty’s influence was apparent in the second half, as well. He was on the bench during Spain’s biggest run, during which Rubio and Marc Gasol helped cut the USA lead down to just two points. Yet by the end of the quarter, Odom helped the Americans build the lead back to 11, capped by a transition layup from Odom at the buzzer that made it 69-58.

In a more closely played final period, Odom made a key layup with 4:30 remaining, then made up for air-balling a potential tie-breaking corner three by clearing his ninth rebound* and starting a break which led to Rose’s slick driving layup with 32 seconds left.
*Odom added 12 points.

Spain’s Juan Carlos Navarro responded with a critical driving layup plus the foul to put Spain up 85-84 with 27 seconds to play, but Rose put the USA back up a point by converting two free throws. The game-clinching play came on defense, as Durant rose to swat a Rudy Fernandez jumper as time expired.

Both Durant and Rose were terrific particularly after Odom’s key second quarter stanza; fitting it was that the two would combine with Odom to secure victory for Team USA.

Artest Switches to Jersey #15

Lakers forward Ron Artest won a championship while sporting the No. 37 jersey in his first year in Los Angeles, but has decided to switch things up heading into year two.

The Lakers on Friday confirmed a report that Artest will wear No. 15, his first jersey number in the NBA with Chicago, as well as the digits he wore in college at St. Johns.

During the 2009-10 season, Artest mentioned that he would consider switching jerseys every year, so we’ll have to wait and see how long No. 15 lasts.

The Queens, New York native won’t be the only Lakers player with a uniform number not seen last season. Here’s the list:

Steve Blake: 5
Matt Barnes: 9
Theo Ratliff: 50
Devin Ebanks: 3
Derrick Caracter: 58

Caracter, a second-round pick like Ebanks, will be sporting the number of his overall draft position, while Ebanks will wear the former jersey number of Trevor Ariza. Former No. 9′s include Nick Van Exel, Bryon Russell and Chucky Atkins, while Eddie Jordan wore both numbers five and 15 in his Lakers career.

Lamar Odom: Team USA Update

61292324Forward Lamar Odom has been wearing a different colored jersey for the past month or so, trading in Lakers purple and gold for the red, white and blue of Team USA.

Having essentially locked up a spot on the roster as well as in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s rotation, Odom played a total of 32 minutes in last weekend’s scrimmage against China and exhibition game against France.

He totaled nine points, eight boards, two assists, two steals and two turnovers on 4-of-5 shooting, playing well against France (eight points on put-backs) but showing little in 14 minutes against China (one point, one rebound).

To go over Odom’s play thus far and to look ahead at three coming exhibitions (Lithuania, Spain and Greece) as well as the World Championships, we dialed up NBA.com’s John Schuhmann, who’s been covering the team throughout.

Click below to listen to what Schuhmann had to offer about Odom and Team USA:

Odom Addresses Spanish Media

61336096In about six weeks, Lamar Odom will fly to Spain with his Lakers teammates in advance of a preseason tilt against F.C. Barcelona.

And while Odom has heard all about Barcelona from teammate Pau Gasol, L.O.’s currently getting a taste of Spain’s capital city, Madrid, with the US National Team.

On Wednesday, the NBA provided audio from a press conference Odom held in Madrid, where the US squad awaits exhibition games that include a matchup with the Spanish team.

Here’s a summary of what Odom had to offer:

On Spain playing without Pau Gasol: (They’re) still a great team. They’re so deep. Of course any team that doesn’t have Pau will miss him – I should know, right? But they’re still a really good team, really competitive.

On if Pau would offer any tips about playing Spain: I don’t think Pau will give me any information. Maybe on every NBA team, but not this team.

On his personal outlook: Just to play my game, to be aggressive. Look to make plays. Look to be a leader.

On his biggest concern about Spanish team: Honestly, you’re never concerned about competition, because competition is fun and that’s what we live for. Honestly they’re a great team, they do so many things well, but we look forward to the confrontation. We look forward to the competitiveness. It’s still fun … it’s just a game. It’s basketball, it’s what we love to do.

On Spain playing at home: This is their home court. I’d imagine that they’re going to have home court advantage, but playing on the road is something we’re all used to doing. It’s just going to be a tough game. Both teams are very prideful, and we can’t wait to play against them.

Videos: Hall of Famer Dr. Jerry Buss

Quite a weekend it was for Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, who added the title of “Hall of Famer” to his championship reign in Los Angeles.

If you missed it on Lakers.com, we’ve embedded the video of his speech from the Hall of Fame inauguration below, in addition to parts one and two of his Tuesday afternoon press conference from the Bicycle Casino:

Hall of Fame Inauguration Speech

Press Conference Part 1

Press Conference Part 2

Popcorn Machine: Chuck Person

102618713GE385_Summer_LeagueChuck Person spent the latest of his 25 years in the NBA as a player and coach as a special assistant coach on Phil Jackson’s staff last season, making such a positive impact that he was named a full-time assistant coach on Aug. 2.

Person, known as “The Rifleman” during a 13-year playing career that began with a Rookie of the Year award for the 1986-87 season, joined us on the Popcorn Machine to discuss his basketball past, his relationship with Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant and what he’s learned from Jackson thus far.

CLICK HERE to head over to our Lakers.com Popcorn Machine page to listen.

Offseason Podcast: ESPN’s Ric Bucher

60707698As the NBA’s offseason months roll on, we dialed up ESPN’s Ric Bucher to chat about covering the Finals, Kobe Bryant’s “unquenchable thirst” (not to mention his tussling of Bucher’s hair), the additions of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes to L.A., Bucher’s questions about LeBron James going to Miami and more.

Bucher also offered up his most underrated NBA city, favorite road meal and stated why he thinks the Lakers should consider moving a major piece at some point of the season.

To listen to the podcast, click play below:

NBA Announces Marquee Games

blog_100803marqueegames1Lakers vs. Heat, on Christmas Day in Los Angeles.

That’ll be fun.

We learned of that game, likely the most anticipated of the regular season, and a few others when the NBA announced the schedule for selected nationally televised games on Monday. Below are the four contests in which the Lakers will play a part:

Season Opener: 10/26 – Lakers vs. Rockets, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
- The Lakers will accept their 2010 championship rings. You know it as “Ring Night.”

NBA Tip-Off Week: 10/29 – Lakers @ Suns, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
- A rematch of the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers head to the Valley of the Sun.

Christmas Day: 12/25 – Lakers vs. Heat, 2 p.m. on ABC
- Kobe, Wade, Gasol, LeBron, Bynum, Bosh, Artest, Miller, Odom, Haslem. The shiny new toy in the East heads to the left coast to see where they stand against the two-time defending champs.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 1/17 – Lakers vs. Thunder, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
- Lakers go against their first round opponent from the 2010 playoffs, with OKC looking to firmly establish themselves as a Western power.

Below is the complete schedule released by the NBA:
Continue reading ‘NBA Announces Marquee Games’

Laker Girl Auditions: Photo Gallery

blog_100802_img_3066The 2010-11 Laker Girl team was selected after an always-grueling, week-long process that concluded last week, but not before a bunch of photos were snapped of the process.

CLICK HERE to head over to Lakers.com to take a peek at our photo gallery from auditions.