Monthly Archive for November, 2010

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Lakers 103, Pistons 90: Nov. 17 Running Diary

wide101117kobebryantBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s road contest in Detroit as the Lakers looked to win back-to-back road games, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Pistons: Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, Ben Wallace

101117paugasolFIRST QUARTER
8:50 Before the tip, Eminem’s “Trick Trick” (featuring the line “Welcome to Detroit City”) was blasting over the loud speakers, but it seemed to work better for the visitors, as Kobe Bryant nailed two threes amidst a 10-0 run that made it 11-2 into a Pistons time out.

2:20 Detroit found some offense, scoring 17 points in the next six minutes, but L.A. hadn’t slowed down either in taking a 27-19 lead on Bryant’s baseline jumper off a Gasol near miss. Bryant and Fisher then went out in favor of Blake and Barnes, the latter of whom immediately buried a triple for a 11-point lead. Detroit pulled a basket back, but a pretty professional quarter for the Lakers ended with a 34-25 edge.

SECOND QUARTER
9:50 Though L.A.’s bench crew of Blake, Barnes, Brown and Walton (plus Gasol) conceded an early Pistons run, it wasn’t for lack of effort. Four Lakers got back on what should have been a routine transition layup for Detroit off a turnover, but instead L.A. cleared a defensive board after a contest.

4:51 Kobe’s legs looked great against the Bucks, and he didn’t lose a step here in Detroit, as shown by consecutive forays into the paint off nice up-fakes. He added a fadeaway from the baseline and a twisting drive to reach eight field goal makes in 11 attempts, reaching 24 points to lead L.A. to a 55-43 advantage.

0:00 L.A. tacked on two more points to its lead courtesy of Gasol (14 points) to take a 59-45 lead, looking firmly in control of the contest after 24 minutes. They were shooting the ball like Tiger Woods might put into a basketball hoop, making 57 percent from the field, 71 percent from three and 93 percent from the line.

101117kobebryantTHIRD QUARTER
5:51 It was coming so easily for the Lakers that the Pistons barely reacted after Odom’s behind-the-back assist to Gasol, plus the foul, made it 76-50 for the visitors. Moments later, a Bryant three-pointer pushed the lead to 26, and got him to 32 points on 11-of-18 field goals, including four triples.

2:40 The Spaniard prides himself on being an efficient player, and could be seen yelling at himself for missing three shots near the rim on consecutive possessions. Nonetheless, Gasol grabbed his first miss both times, and stuck the second one back in to reach 23 points with 12 boards in 30 minutes of action with L.A. up 80-56. He’d add another bucket, coming to within five points of giving the Lakers two 30-point scorers for the first time since March 1, 2009, when Bryant had 49 and Gasol 30. At the break, L.A. led 84-63, meaning Gasol may not have the chance to get up to 30 if L.A.’s bench could protect the lead to Phil Jackson’s content.

FOURTH QUARTER
6:04 In limited minutes this season, we’ve already seen a few SportsCenter worthy dunks from rookie Devin Ebanks, who added another on a two-handed follow-up jam off Brown’s missed layup, putting L.A. up 95-71 in game in which Bryant had been icing his knees. In fact, the most interesting part of the fourth quarter was watching Gasol, Odom, Bryant and Artest joke around on the bench, including multiple arm-around hugs, smiles and headlocks.

1:26 Not that it mattered, but the Pistons managed to cut L.A.’s lead down to 11 at one point before the final whistle buzzed with the Lakers up 103-90. That’s four road wins in five tries heading into Friday’s game in Minnesota.

Andrew Bynum: Nov. 17 Injury Update

UCLA Health SystemLakers center Andrew Bynum answered questions from a few traveling beat reporters prior to L.A.’s Wednesday evening contest in Detroit. Below is a transcription of the Q&A:

On if he knows when he’ll play in his first game:
Bynum: I have no idea. If these work outs continue to go well, hopefully I’ll be on time. But if I get swelling or something like that, I’ll have to slow down a little bit.

D067513008.JPGOn what he’s doing right now for rehabilitation work:
Bynum: Just post stuff, jump shots, jump hooks, that’s really it. A lot of running, straight line stuff. No lateral stuff yet. I like to go on the track because it’s more distance, better for your lungs, a lot less pounding than running on the treadmill. It’s good.

On how his knee feels:
Bynum: It feels pretty good. I haven’t had a set back yet, but it’s just my second day on the court.

On if his hope is to practice fully, not play in a game, by Thanksgiving:
Bynum: I have no idea. Hopefully I’ll be able to practice with my teammates (by then).

On if he is taking the long view with his knee:
Bynum: I’m not real concerned with it, just trying to get healthy and get back. My big thing is to be in the best shape that I can be when I get out there so nothing else happens. I don’t want to have a set back or regress.

Shannon Brown’s Shooting

62442385Eleven games into the 2010-11 season, Lakers reserve Shannon Brown is shooting the ball nearly as successfully as the Beatles archive just started selling on iTunes.

Not only does Brown rank 22nd in the NBA and second among shooting guards (Ben Gordon, 15th) in field goal percentage (.523), but perhaps more importantly for L.A.’s actual game results, he’s been on fire from three-point range.

Boosted by his 4-for-4 fourth quarter performance from downtown in the Lakers’ 118-107 Tuesday night victory in Milwaukee, Brown’s now hitting 51.3 percent of his threes (20-of-39), leading his team in makes.

“He had a great contribution (against the Bucks), he was terrific,” said Phil Jackson. “Everybody told Shannon (coming out of college) that he had to learn how to shoot a jump shot and he’s taken that seriously, worked hard on it, and now he’s a legitimate three-point shooter.”

Hampered in part by a thumb injury in the second half of last season and in part by a tendency to rush or force action at times, Brown shot only 42.7 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from three last season, and played just 14 minutes per game in the playoffs.

Since L.A.’s Game 7 victory over Boston, Brown has been in the gym.

“He’s a worker,” said Kobe Bryant, repeating the phrase for emphasis. “Not only is he talented (and) physically gifted, but he puts the work in, which you don’t see a lot of players do. Especially guys that are super athletic like he is, they don’t want to put the work in, but he has and continues to do so.”

Bryant — who has taken Brown under his wing, even calling him his ‘little brother’ — said that Brown’s improvement this year isn’t just about shooting, however. In fact, Bryant revealed that when he worked with or advised Brown over the summer, shooting wasn’t really a point of emphasis.

“Just ball-handling,” Bryant explained. “He’s always been a solid shooter, and he’s really worked on it since he got here, and now he’s even a better shooter than he was last year. But you see him now making plays off the dribble, making plays for others, passing off the dribble. He continues to get better, this is just the beginning for him.”

Brown himself acknowledged that he’s more confident this year, and sounded quite a bit like big brother when describing why.

“It’s just all about going out there, slowing down and taking what the defense gives,” he said. “Not trying to do too much.”

When asked how Bryant influenced him particularly over the summer, Brown shared an anecdote that explained a key point towards understanding the Maywood, Illinois native’s improvements.

“One thing (Kobe) told me at the beginning of this season when we were (at the team’s practice facility) lifting,” said Brown. “I told him, ‘Man I’m ready to get this thing going.’ (Kobe) was just like, ‘Relax.’ The season is going to come quick enough, go out there and just relax, have fun and play basketball and that’s what I’m doing. I value his opinion very much, everything that he’s accomplished individually and as a team, so when he tells me things, I do take heed.”

Sure enough, Brown has been noticeably more under control this season. Standing open on the weak side of the defense after Bryant or Pau Gasol drew a double team, 2009-10 Brown may have caught the ball, dribbled between his legs and tried to get to the hoop. But 2010-11 Brown will catch the ball, raise up for an open jumper, and more often than not find the bottom of the net.

That seems to be thanks as much to his mindset as it is to any actual improvements in his shot, and thus far, the Lakers are reaping the benefits.

Lakers – Bucks Postgame Numbers

106920797We highlighted some of the more interesting numbers from the Lakers ninth win of the season, Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

1 Free throw shot by the Bucks in the first half, as Milwaukee made an inordinate amount of jump shots to take a 59-57 lead into the break, shooting as high as 72 percent early in the second. The Bucks did manage to get to the line 26 times in the second half, however, though Andrew Bogut made only 2-of-10 attempts.

5 First quarter threes for the Bucks in six attempts, meaning that the Lakers had conceded 27 three-pointers in a five-quarter stretch dating back to Sunday’s loss to Phoenix.

16 Fourth quarter points for Shannon Brown, including an impressive 4-of-4 shooting from three-point land, a major boost off the bench for the visitors. Phil Jackson rightfully rewarded him by giving Brown the full 12 minutes of the fourth.

31 Game-high points for Kobe Bryant, who made all 11 of his field goals and had good elevation on his jumper throughout the contest.

118 Season-high points conceded by the Bucks, who had allowed an NBA-low of 89 points per game coming into the contest, and allowed over 100 points only once, in an OT loss to Boston (102-105). Phil Jackson said that Milwaukee actually pushed the pace, perhaps thinking that was how they could beat L.A. as Phoenix and Denver had.

Lakers 118, Bucks 107: Nov. 16 Running Diary

62497892Below is a running diary of L.A.’s road contest in Milwaukee as the Lakers looked to snap a two-game losing streak, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, Luc Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden and Andrew Bogut

106919627_10FIRST QUARTER
5:08 Remember how Phoenix nailed an almost-league-record 22 threes last game? Well, Milwaukee looked intent upon matching that effort, making five of their first six to leave Luke Walton looking up at the scoreboard with a “Really?” expression on his face. Power forward Drew Gooden even got into the act, making two triples to match point guard Jennings.

0:00.1 It was sub Matt Barnes who made a key play to close the first, deftly snatching a late offensive rebound and turning to nail a buzzer-beating three to give the Lakers a 32-29 lead out of the first quarter. We’d expected a defensive game, the Bucks conceding 100 points only once all season and leading the league by allowing only 89 points per game due in part to a deliberate pace, but Milwaukee — actually pushing the pace — shot 63.2 percent and L.A. hit 52 percent with four offensive boards to keep the score up.

Bryant and Gasol posted 10 points apiece, while the Spaniard also grabbed four boards and keyed a late run with Bryant on the bench.

62497891SECOND QUARTER
8:09 The Bucks had yet to slow down on offense, converting a silly 72 percent of their shots, yet L.A. still managed to hold a two-point lead after Gasol’s pull-up jumper.

4:28 Bryant and Fisher returned at around the six-minute mark, and L.A.’s defense promptly clamped down a bit, allowing a quick 5-0 Fisher run (a three and two free throws) at the other end to put the Lakers up 51-47.

0:04.0 It wasn’t that the Lakers weren’t playing good defense, per say, but Milwaukee was simply making quite a few difficult, long jumpers, including two straight from Gooden (10 points) and Jennings (19), whose layup allowed the Bucks a 59-57 lead. Jennings, for whom the Bucks played 2pac and Dr. Dre’s “California Love” each time he scored (he is an L.A. native, after all), hurt the Lakers throughout the half with his shooting (8-of-13) in particular.

106919631_10THIRD QUARTER
7:03 Artest, Odom and Bryant scored respective hoops to put L.A. back on top after Jennings had opened a seven-point Deer lead early in the half. Milwaukee’s eighth three-pointer, this time from Salmons, made it 71-70 for the home team, but Odom answered with another jumper to reach 11 points.

3:15 So many times throughout his remarkable scoring career (26,000 and counting) has Bryant gone off on individual runs like the one we saw across a two-minute stretch in which he scored seven points, five coming at the foul line. Add Barnes’s second three, and L.A. had reeled off a 10-0 burst to take an 82-75 lead, its largest of the game.

0:21.9 The quarter ended just as well for L.A., who got Blake’s second three of the game to open a 90-81 lead heading into the final quarter. He, Barnes and Brown had all been effective, allowing Bryant, Fisher and Artest some extra rest on the eve of a back-to-back. Meanwhile, Bucks mascot Bango, one of the league’s best, attached a bunch of balloons to some Bucks fan instructed to wear a Lakers jersey’s Lakers hat, sending the lid up to the ceiling. Fun stuff.

106920349_10FOURTH QUARTER
8:39 With Bryant still resting on the bench, Blake and Luke Walton took turns setting up uncontested dunks first for Gasol and then Barnes, followed by a Brown reverse layup that kept the Lakers up somewhat comfortably, 99-88.

5:35 Before the game, Brown told me that he put 12 tickets aside for family members and friends who made the 90-odd mile drive up from Maywood, Illinois, just west of the United Center in Chicago. With a ridiculous fourth quarter stretch in which he nailed three triples for nine of 13 points (18 total), Brown kept the Lakers up 10 despite a four-point possession from Drew Gooden (flagrant 1 foul on Odom plus a tip-in).

0:55 Brown added still another three-pointer to essentially toss the dagger in Milwaukee, before a slick tip pass from Bryant to Gasol and then the second running fadeaway J of the quarter from Kobe made it 118-107 in the final minute. That’s how it would end, with L.A. improving to 9-2 on the season, and 3-1 on the road.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
1 Free throw shot by the Bucks in the first half, as Milwaukee made an inordinate amount of jump shots to take a 59-57 lead into the break, shooting as high as 72 percent early in the second. The Bucks did manage to get to the line 26 times in the second half, however, though Andrew Bogut made only 2-of-10 attempts.

5 First quarter threes for the Bucks in six attempts, meaning that the Lakers had conceded 27 three-pointers in a five-quarter stretch dating back to Sunday’s loss to Phoenix.

16 Fourth quarter points for Shannon Brown, including an impressive 4-of-4 shooting from three-point land, a major boost off the bench for the visitors. Phil Jackson rightfully rewarded him by giving Brown the full 12 minutes of the fourth.

31 Game-high points for Kobe Bryant, who made all 11 of his field goals and had good elevation on his jumper throughout the contest.

118 Season-high points conceded by the Bucks, who had allowed an NBA-low of 89 points per game coming into the contest, and allowed over 100 points only once, in an OT loss to Boston (102-105).

Lakers Begin Midwest Swing in Milwaukee

101116_kobemilwThe Lakers stayed in Los Angeles for seven of their first 10 contests of this season, venturing on the road only as far east as Denver, Colorado, and won their first eight before dropping the last two.

Time to hit the road.

Tuesday evening marks the start of a three-game Midwest swing through Milwaukee, Detroit and Minnesota, beginning with a Bucks team hungry to exact revenge for Kobe Bryant’s game-winning buzzer-beater over Charlie Bell that gave L.A. a 107-106 victory last time the two teams met at the Bradley Center.

After a poor start found the Bucks at a surprising 1-4, the Deer have rallied to win four of five games, including the past three, to even their record at 5-5. They’ve beaten the Knicks, Hawks and Warriors in consecutive contests and done so with defense, allowing 91 points or fewer in each of the last five games and an opponent to reach 100 points only once. The Lakers, meanwhile, lead the league with 112.5 points per game, but Phil Jackson would seemingly be more pleased if the twice defending champs picked things up a bit at the defensive end themselves.

Jackson’s team will have to pay particular attention to Bucks center Andrew Bogut, returning from a gruesome season-ending dislocation of his right elbow, sprained right wrist and broken right hand after an extremely hard foul. Bogut is averaging just 12.8 points compared to his 15.9 last season, but still leads the team in rebounds (10.6) and field goal percentage (51.6) and blocked seven shots against Golden State.

Brandon Jennings, fresh off a terrific rookie year, leads the team in scoring with 15.7 points as well as assists with 6.3 per game, while John Salmons and Corey Maggette form a solid scoring tandem on the wings in the absence of injured starter Carlos Delfino (neck strain). Jennings (10-of-19) and Salmons (8-of-15) have combined to make 52.9 percent of their threes in the last four games. Maggette’s 12.9 points lead the Bucks’ reserves, who have outscored the opponent’s bench in 7-of-9 games.

The Lakers swept the season series last season for the second consecutive year, and hold a 76-43 all-time edge over the Bucks. L.A. has had success in the Bradley Center of late, winning 7-of-10 games, and have not lost since Nov. 21, 2007 (103-110).

Nov. 15 Injury Update: Odom, Ratliff & Blake

blog_101115odomratliff_updates500UCLA Health SystemWith a Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-back against the Bucks and Pistons on the horizon, the Lakers had some injury questions as Lamar Odom and Theo Ratliff underwent respective MRI’s on Monday morning, and Steve Blake had missed Sunday evening’s loss against Phoenix with a stomach virus.

L.A. got good news relating to Odom, as the MRI on a sore right foot came back negative. The MRI did confirm what Phil Jackson had previously described as a “bone bruise,” but the lanky lefty can play on it and will stay in the starting lineup against Milwaukee.

Blake is also expected to play in Wisconsin, as he was feeling better and did make the trip with the team.

The news is not so good in Ratliff’s case, however, as the 37-year-old center will have arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday morning in hopes of discerning the problem with his sore left knee. Lakers spokesman John Black said that the team would provide an update after the surgery.

***UPDATE: Ratliff had successful surgery and will miss at least 4-6 weeks. You can find the details by clicking here.

Lakers – Suns Postgame Numbers

62470816We highlighted some of the more interesting numbers from L.A.’s Sunday evening loss to the Phoenix Suns at STAPLES Center.

3 double-doubles registered by the five Lakers starters. Lamar Odom with 22 & 11, Pau Gasol with 28 & 17 and Kobe Bryant just one rebound shy of a triple-double with 25 points, 9 rebounds and 14 assists.

12 points scored by Shannon Brown off the bench. Brown has registered double digit scoring in six of the team’s ten games so far this season.

22 three pointers for the Suns on 40 attempts. Just one off the NBA record of 23 triples set by the Orlando Magic. Phoenix set a franchise record for three pointers made.

40 more points in the paint for the Lakers (68-28) as LA controlled the inside game along with the boards.

2,000 With his rebound at the 8:15 mark of the second quarter Matt Barnes reached the 2,000 rebound plateau for his career.

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Suns 121, Lakers 116 Running Diary

62470470Below is a running diary of L.A.’s home contest against Suns.

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Suns: Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Hedo Turkoglu, Robin Lopez

Blake Inactive
Steve Blake will miss his first game as a Laker tonight as he caught the stomach flu and has been placed on the inactive list.

1ST QUARTER
624704807:39 Kobe Bryant electrified the sluggish Sunday crowd when he found himself alone at the free throw lane and decided to pass it off the backboard to himself and snag the easy layup instead of taking the leaning 15-footer. Not the first time Bryant has used this technique, but after seeing Drew Gooden pull it off recently for the Bucks he probably wanted to remind people who trademarked it. The basket gave the Lakers an early 12-9 lead.

2:46 Lamar Odom played just 25:33 Thursday night against Denver as the Lakers stuck with the hot shooting Shannon Brown and went small against the Nuggets. Tonight through the first nine minutes tonight Pau Gasol has dominated the boards (six rebounds) but Odom has been active on the offensive end tallying nine-points, all within three feet of the basket. Lamar remains on the floor with Kobe and Pau as Matt Barnes and Sasha Vujacic enter. With Steve Blake missing the game due to a stomach virus Vujacic will be relied upon more heavily than he has all season.

0:00 The Lakers out rebounded Phoenix 13-7 and shot a much higher percentage from the floor (52.4% to 38.1%) but the Suns were hot from behind the arc (5/9) to keep the game close, 25-23. Ron Artest, the only Laker to attempt a triple, made his first two from long range for LA, but finished the quarter missing his next three.
Continue reading ‘Suns 121, Lakers 116 Running Diary’

Blake Doubtful vs. Phoenix


RT @KevinDing: Steve Blake (stomach virus) is listed as doubtful for Lakers tonight vs. visiting Phoenix.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck