Monthly Archive for December, 2010

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First All-Star Returns

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The first All-Star returns are in and, as of right now, two Lakers are poised to start for the Western Conference when the game tips off at STAPLES Center on February 20th, 2011.

Kobe Bryant leads all vote getters by a healthy margin, garnering 722,682 votes since the ballots went live on NBA.com. Teammate Pau Gasol is second among Western forwards with 390,808 votes, trailing only Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant at his position.

Other Lakers represented are Andrew Bynum (198,044/2nd among centers), Lamar Odom (134,594/7th among forwards) and Derek Fisher (81,088/10th among guards).

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The full returns are below:
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Lakers 109, Pacers 94: Dec. 15 Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening road game at Indiana, the fourth of a six-game trek through the Midwest and East Coast, 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
Pacers: D. Collison, B. Rush, D. Granger, J. McRoberts, R. Hibbert

FIRST QUARTER
8:00 Before the game, Matt Barnes sent out a tweet that basically promised revenge to the Pacers, whom he felt celebrated too much on the Lakers home floor. Well, apparently the team’s starters felt the same way, because they sprinted out to a 15-4 lead, with Ron Artest and Pau Gasol in particular doing whatever they wanted at both ends. Artest was 3-for-3 with two steals and an offensive rebound that led to Gasol’s fourth field goal, a driving power dunk on the baseline.

4:00 Not much changed as the Lakers continued to play terrific basketball, getting whatever they wanted on offense to score 29 points, while holding the Pacers to 10 by keeping them out of the paint.

0:00 Indy finally got something going by replacing its starters, a T.J. Ford, James Posey and Mike Dunleavy group leading them on a 12-5 run that helped trim L.A.’s lead a bit to 36-22 after the first quarter. Nonetheless, it was a very impressive stanza for L.A., which closed the quarter shooting 73.7 percent.

SECOND QUARTER
10:00 Steve Blake the scorer emerged early in the second period, hitting a three and two jumpers to put L.A. up 40-26. Blake’s an able scorer, but generally prefers to get teammates involved. In related news, guys love playing with Blake.

4:18 Gasol didn’t lose any of his early brilliance, making his ninth shot in 10 attempts to reach a game-high 20 points, plus five rebounds and a block on the previous possession. The Spaniard, as is his custom on back-to-backs, was receiving treatment between two 2:00 and 3:30 a.m. last night to get his body ready for tonight. Guess that paid off…

0:24.0 Odom wasn’t bad either, sticking a jumper to reach 12 points in the half, plus seven boards, two assists and a block. While Andrew Bynum didn’t take a shot in six minutes and grabbed only one board, his mere presence on the floor and in the rotation has clearly done early wonders for his frontcourt ‘mates.

THIRD QUARTER
9:30 Last night, Bryant scored 12 straight points at the end of the third quarter. Tonight, he put up 10 straight points in the first four minutes and change of the period, including a swished triple, pull-up J, three free throws after getting Granger to bite on a swing through move, and then another jumper near the free throw line.

3:45 Bryant’s next bucket came courtesy of a Bynum offensive rebound in heavy traffic. Moments later, Bynum grabbed another, this time offering an even better pass to Artest for a wing triple that put L.A. up 80-55. The 23-year-old center was at that point up to five boards, looking his most active in two games, while Bryant’s scoring burst got him up to 23 points (17 in the third) before he sat down.

0:01.0 Gasol was so dominant in the game, reaching 27 points by hitting two free throws on top of his 10-of-14 field goals, that some Pacers fans could think of nothing else but to chant “USA” while he was at the line. Indy managed to trim a few points off L.A.’s lead, but it was still considerable at 87-69 heading into the fourth.

FOURTH QUARTER
9:14 Brandon Rush was about all Indiana had going for its squad, as he reached 16 points with a tough runner over Bynum. Rush had also rimmed out on a few three-point attempts, but perhaps more pertinently, Indy still trailed by 21 after Barnes dropped a corner triple. By the way, L.A.’s bench unit of Blake, Brown, Barnes, Odom and Bynum is ridiculous for an NBA team. Tons of talent, tons of length.

6:00 The next step in Bynum’s slow progression was playing 12 straight minutes, with six minute stretches surrounding the end of the third quarter. Phil Jackson said before the game that his game and basketball shape would prevent him from looking good offensively, and sure enough, he managed to make only 1-of-4 field goals. Nonetheless, he moved pretty well up and down the court and laterally, and checked out with the Lakers up 20.

3:45 Jackson often likes to keep positive momentum going when his team’s playing well, and in this case, inserted his starters back into the contest despite the big lead. Kobe didn’t take long to put on yet another offensive show, wowing the crowd with back-to-back deeeeep triples, then adding a tough turnaround jumper to get quickly to 31 points, surpassing Gasol’s 27. The Indy crowd actually let out a big cry of disappointment when Bryant missed his third three after sinking the first two, more interested in watching the ridiculous offensive display than the 108-91 score.

The final, moments later, was 109-94, the second straight dominant performance from the Lakers and third straight road win.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
59 Combined points for Kobe Bryant (31) and Pau Gasol (28), who were each terrific throughout. Gasol opened the game making 8-of-9 shots, and Bryant scored 10 straight points in the third and eight straight in the fourth while Pacers fans openly screamed their approval.

25 Assists for the Lakers, who moved the ball very well for the second straight game. Ten players scored in the contest, all but one registering an assist.

17 Minutes played by Andrew Bynum, who grabbed five rebounds with three points and two assists. It was another positive step for the big center, who has clearly offered a big physical and mental boost for Gasol and Lamar Odom, who scored 13 points with 17 rebounds.

15 Defensive rebounds grabbed by Odom, who added two on offense and was terrific throughout. He also scored 13 points, tossed three assists with a block.

13 Points for Indiana’s best player, Danny Granger, limited to 5-of-13 shooting by a fired up Ron Artest, who was playing against his former team.

Lakers Trade Vujacic, Acquire Joe Smith

The Lakers have traded guard Sasha Vujacic and their 2011 first round pick to New Jersey for Joe Smith, Golden State’s second round pick in 2011, Chicago’s second round pick in 2012 and the rights to Ukraine’s Sergei Lishouk.

The deal is contingent on both Vujacic and Smith passing physicals. Lakers team spokesman John Black said that the team plans to put Smith through a physical in Philadelphia in advance of L.A.’s Friday evening game against the 76ers, and if he passes, he’ll be eligible to play in that contest.

The trade was finalized early on Wednesday morning, since Dec. 15 was the first day offseason signees like Smith could be traded. Houston was also involved in the three team trade, and principally received Terrence Williams from the Nets.

Vujacic, drafted by the Lakers back in 2004 out of his native Slovenia, won two championships with the Lakers and had his best season in 2007-08, when he played 17.8 minutes per game to score 8.8 points while shooting a still-team-record 43.7 percent from three-point territory.

Vujacic said he was given a heads up about the potential trade after L.A.’s Tuesday night victory in Washington, but said he “did not know what to say at the moment” as nothing was yet official. He had been playing only 4.9 minutes per game in the 10 games in which he appeared this season, lost in the guard rotation behind starters Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher and subs Steve Blake and Shannon Brown. Vujacic will join fellow former Laker Jordan Farmar with the Nets.

Smith, the No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft, will be joining the 13th team of his 16-year career. He appeared in four games this season for New Jersey, playing a total of 24 minutes to score two points with three rebounds, and is considered a strong locker room presence.

Lishouk, 28, was originally selected with the 44th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies, and his rights were traded to Houston on February 21, 2008. A 6-11.5 center, Lishouk is currently playing for Valencia in Spain.

Per Lakers team policy, the terms of the trade were not disclosed.

Lakers 103, Wizards 89: Dec. 14 Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening roadie at Washington, the third of a six-game trek through the Midwest and East Coast, 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 P. Gasol
Wizards: G. Arenas*, K. Hinrich, A. Thornton, Yi Jianlain and J. McGee
*Arenas was starting for the injured John Wall, and Yi for Andray Blatche, both players out with knee soreness.

FIRST QUARTER
6:00 And, finally, Andrew Bynum entered the basketball floor for the Lakers. He’d missed the first 25 games of the season recovering and rehabbing from offseason knee surgery, and finally felt strong enough to give live game action a try. Within two minutes, he’d already drawn two fouls simply because he’s huge, making his first two but missing the next pair in a 13-all game. In somewhat odd news, both Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol picked up two personal fouls in the early goings, perhaps emboldened by the return of their bigger teammate.

0:29.0 Two more foul shots from Bynum came as he drew his third foul in the paint, and a moment after he’d blocked his second shot.

SECOND QUARTER
9:50 It didn’t take long to see what a difference Bynum makes just for the rotation alone. Because Gasol and Odom had some rare-of-late rest in the first, they started the second quarter alongside the Killer B’s, and naturally the Wizards couldn’t begin to match that kind of talent. A 10-0 run ensued, with Gasol and Odom combining for seven points.

6:49 It was almost an unfair matchup, with All-Star Gasol and potential All-Star Odom combining for 16 points, four assists and four rebounds in the first five minutes of the second, during which the Lakers outscored a youthful Wiz frontline of McGee, Trevor Booker and Al Thornton 21-6.

0:01.0 Gasol continued a solid around half by making all three of his second quarter attempts, including the final field goal of the half, to join Odom with 12 points and put the Lakers up 57-46. L.A. barely missed in the 2nd, hitting 12-of-17 shots (70 percent) on 10 assists. Shannon Brown’s 12 points, all in the quarter, led the way, while Bynum got three more minutes of PT to reach seven points with a board and two blocks in the half. He was moving quite well, if at times seeming a bit tentative in rebounding crowds, as could be expected.

THIRD QUARTER
7:00 Kobe flashed back to the 1997 dunk contest with a flying two-handed oop off Fisher’s alley, giving the Lakers a 68-56 lead with the game well under L.A.’s control. Gasol, meanwhile, was threatening triple-double range by dishing his sixth assist, going along with 12 points and eight boards.

4:34 For the first time in December, Ron Artest reached double figures on the scoreboard after converting a layup off yet another Gasol assist. Moments earlier, Bryant had missed all three free throws (possible related: he got cracked on the hand/finger earlier in the game), but atoned by sinking a corner triple to cap an 8-0 run and put the Lakers up 80-64.

2:01 Not that the Wizards are able to pose much opposition particularly with Andray Blatche and John Wall — perhaps their two best players — out, but the Lakers were looking a lot like the Lakers. Bryant in particular went off at the end of the third, entering Black Mamba mode to score 12 straight points, hitting 3-of-3 three-pointers plus 3-of-3 free throws after drawing Nick Young’s foul from three. Down on the low block, Gasol and Odom continued to appear physically and mentally recharged with Bynum’s return, combining to make 11-of-14 field goals with 18 rebounds and nine assists. The result of all that was a 92-70 score heading into the fourth.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:48 Despite Gasol and Odom starting the fourth, the Lakers failed to score while conceding eight straight Wizards points, the lead cut to 14. At that point, Odom had played 32 minutes, Gasol 28, Bryant 24 and Bynum 13. If Phil Jackson had his way, they’d all get to sit in the fourth since L.A. has to play a back-to-back at Indiana tomorrow evening, but they couldn’t sit without a safe lead.

6:11 That came moments later, however, as Odom streaked to the hoop on a 3-on-1 fastbreak, opting to keep the ball while throwing down a left-handed dunk on Kevin Seraphin, plus the foul. Since Brown had hit a jumper on the previous possession, the lead grew back to 19, and Bynum sent Gasol back to the bench to rest.

0:00 It was all over from there, the final score = 103-89. Let’s get to your postgame numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
84.6 Combined shooting percentage for Lamar Odom (5-of-5) and Pau Gasol (6-of-8) in the first three quarters, as the two bigs showed fresh legs and minds with the return of Andrew Bynum.

40 Free throws attempted by the Lakers. Despite missing 11 of those attempts, L.A. still made 17 more FT’s than the Wizards (12-of-16).

23 L.A.’s biggest lead in a contest that wasn’t close throughout, the road team holding a double-digit lead almost throughout. The Wiz, playing without their two best players in injured John Wall and Andray Blatche, led by at most two early in the first quarter.

17 Minutes played by Bynum in his first contest after 25 missed games. He scored seven
points, five coming at the free throw line, while making only 1-of-5 field goal attempts, plus four rebounds and two blocks. His return was certainly a successful one for the Lakers.

12 Points scored in a two-minute period between the 3:56 and 2:01 marks of the third quarter, thanks to 3-of-3 shooting from three and 3-of-3 free throws drawn on a three-point attempt. He finished the game with 24 points in just 24 minutes, getting ample rest for the back-to-back at Indiana on Wednesday.

Bynum: “I’m Definitely Playing Tomorrow”

UCLA Health SystemAfter 25 games of the 2010-11 season spent on the bench, the wait for Andrew Bynum’s return appears to be over.

The 23-year-old center told reporters at Monday afternoon’s visit with President Barack Obama that he was “definitely playing tomorrow,” referring to L.A.’s Tuesday evening game against the Washington Wizards. His presence in the line up is way more than welcome to the Lakers, who have struggled (relatively, at least) of late due primarily to a lack of bodies in the post, as Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have had to carry well more weight than should be necessary in December.

“I just want to go out there,” said Bynum. “It’s definitely going to be in bursts, either starting or not, it’s going to be quick spurts — five minutes here, five minutes there.”

Bynum said that he wasn’t sure whether he’d be starting or not, but Phil Jackson has consistently maintained that Bynum will indeed start, in part so that he can take advantage of a body (and specifically knee) that’s been warmed up prior to the game. That would move Lamar Odom back to the bench, a role Odom’s been quite comfortable with for the past two championship seasons.

The Lakers also play on Wednesday evening in Indiana, which Bynum acknowledged should prove to be a good litmus test.

“That’s a another reason probably why we believe that this will be a good test just to see what happens on a back-to-back situation, if there will be any swelling or anything like that,” he said.

President Obama and the Lakers


United States President Barack Obama shares a laugh with the 2010 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Lakers 99, Nets 92: Dec. 12 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon road game at New Jersey, the second of a six-game trek through the Midwest and East Coast, 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 P. Gasol
Nets: D. Harris, A. Morrow, Q. Ross*, K. Humphries and B. Lopez
*Ross was starting his first game of the season as Travis Outlaw was benched prior to the previous game, while rookie Damion James suffered an injury in his first start.

FIRST QUARTER
4:51 A few minutes after the Lakers fell behind 7-0 while missing their first six field goal attempts signified the fact that it was only 10 a.m. in California, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom hit back-to-back threes to put the Lakers up 17-14.

2:58 Pau Gasol has tired legs. Have you heard? It’s a topic that’s been discussed repeatedly of late, but it keeps coming up because his energy hasn’t been the same with such a heavy load to carry down low. Sure enough, his jumper looking flat to start this game, all four of his shots missing until Derrick Caracter subbed him out of the game. The Lakers weren’t too worse for the wear, however, thanks to 10 points from Odom on 4-of-5 shooting.

L.A. actually finished the quarter plus five on the scoreboard since Caracter entered, taking a 30-24 lead into the second quarter in a game that had yet to really start moving.

SECOND QUARTER
7:46 In his first career game against the Lakers, Jordan Farmar played a solid, controlled seven minutes to hit his only shot, a three, while grabbing two rebounds without a turnover. L.A.’s lead was nine at that point, thanks in part to a nice boost from the bench to begin the second.

2:35 Anthony Morrow, literally the second best three-point shooter in NBA history if going by percentages (Steve Kerr is first), missed an open look in transition that would have capped a 9-0 run to tie the game. Instead, the Lakers sealed the rebound and called time out, perhaps to discuss why they hadn’t scored in three minutes.

0:00 Then came a quick L.A. burst, featuring a newly-entered Devin Ebanks jumper and Gasol’s dunk from Bryant in transition that put the Lakers up 52-42 at the break. Those offensive opportunities had come because crafty vets Fisher and Bryant had combined for three strips of the ball on defense, making up for Gasol’s 3-for-11 and Bryant’s 1-for-6 from the field.

THIRD QUARTER
5:26 A 9-0 Nets run, capped by Morrow’s second three, came amidst more offensive struggles for Gasol, who missed consecutive shots to drop to 3-for-13 from the field. He did manage to hit his next jumper, and Bryant added two of his own to put the lead back at five at 62-57.

3:51 Tired as Gasol may have been, he was playing effective defense on Jersey’s best player, Brook Lopez, holding him to 14 points on 14 shot attempts while blocking three of the former Stanford star’s shots. On the other end, Bryant led a mini-burst from L.A., finding a cutting Odom for a wide-open layup and then hitting a three-pointer to re-open a 10-point lead.

0:00 For the second time in the quarter, the Lakers conceded a Nets run that trimmed their double-digit lead this time to two points, the Lakers failing to score in the final 3:09 of the quarter (since Bryant’s three-pointer).

FOURTH QUARTER
8:15 With Odom on the bench with four fouls and Gasol getting a rare breather, Bryant scored six of L.A.’s eight points to start the fourth, maintaining a one-point lead four minutes into the final stanza. Farmar, meanwhile, was effective for the Nets, scoring five of his eight points including a darting and-1 layup through traffic.

3:40 Moments after Bryant nailed an extremely tough three-pointer off the dribble, Odom got 1-of-2 free throws to drop after taking a hard foul from Lopez while gliding in for a layup, giving the Lakers an 86-85 lead they’d try to hold for the final three minutes.

2:00 The Lakers are the NBA’s second best free throw shooting team on the season, but stars Bryant, Odom and Gasol all missed the front end of attempts to keep three points off the board in a tight game they led by three after Gasol’s lay-in. It was just his sixth make in 19 attempts.

0:42.0 But those same stars more than atoned for the missed free throws, as Bryant twice drew extra attention in the paint after beating Harris off the dribble, and first found Gasol for an open layup, then Odom for an open dunk. After their third straight stop, Odom then hit his second triple of the game thanks to an extra pass from Fisher, a dagger in New Jersey’s chest as it opened an eight-point lead.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
2 Clutch assists from Kobe Bryant, who drove into the paint and attracted multiple defenders on back-to-back possessions late in the fourth quarter before finding Pau Gasol for a layup and Lamar Odom for a dunk that buried the Nets. Bryant finished with six dimes in the contest to lead the Lakers.

3 Late free throws missed by Bryant, Gasol and Odom (one each) that made those two buckets from Bryant more than necessary. Odom also added the game’s dagger from three-point distance, his second and L.A.’s seventh of the game.

9 Rebounds collected by guards Shannon Brown (four) and Steve Blake (five) off the bench despite limited playing time. The Nets finished the game +3 on the glass at 45-42.

16 Shots missed by Gasol in a 6-for-19 day from the field. While that rarity showed his tired legs, Gasol still managed 15 points and 11 rebounds with five blocks.

32 Points scored by Bryant to lead all scorers on 9-of-19 shooting. He scored 14 of those 32 in the fourth quarter, making 3-of-6 shots and hitting 7-of-8 free throws. He added four steals and four boards to his aforementioned six dimes.

Lakers Draw Farmar, Nets on Sunday

For the first time this season, the Lakers will compete against a former teammate from the 2009-10 championship roster, as New Jersey’s Jordan Farmar takes the court for a 10 a.m. Pacific tip off on Sunday in Newark.

Farmar, also the backup point guard on the 2008-09 title team in Los Angeles, may actually have a chance to start against Derek Fisher … this because regular Nets starting PG Devin Harris is listed as a game-time decision* due to a hard fall on his shoulder in a Thursday loss to Dallas.
*UPDATE: Harris will start.

Phil Jackson, who coached Farmar throughout his three seasons in Los Angeles, said that he and his staff “keep an eye on him” and track how Farmar’s doing. Jackson said that the team’s decision not to re-sign Farmar was a financial one more so than a basketball one.

“Jordan’s a talented athlete and he should have a good NBA career… Jordan helped us win,” Jackson said, specifically recalling a few key moments such as Game 3 of the Western Semi’s against Houston in 2009 when Farmar played very well in a starting role due to Derek Fisher’s suspension.

Farmar has started two games for the Nets this season, and has been an effective offensive option off the bench in 21 other games, averaging 10.4 points per game plus 4.6 assists and 1.09 steals in 26.1 minutes, all career highs. He’s shooting 35.6 percent from three, but only 38.4 percent overall from the field, offsetting his much-improved free throw percentage of 85.4 percent.

Farmar said he’s happy in New Jersey both on and off the court, boosted away from the arena by his baby girl (five-month old Phoenix Farmar) and at the arena by an increased role with the team.

“I’m getting a chance to play basketball in a little different light, do some more things on the floor, have the ball in my hand, run the team,” he said. “It’s been a growing process, a good experience for me.”

Nets Coach Avery Johnson has often deployed a two-point-guard line up of both Harris and Farmar down the stretch of games, though New Jersey has struggled while winning only six times with 17 losses. While Farmar is optimistic about New Jersey’s future and is taking the long view with a young team that has room to grow, he naturally misses his old teammates.

“Those guys are family in (the Lakers locker room),” he said. “We’ve been through wars together. I wish them nothing but the best except when we’re going against each other. I miss those guys, but at the same time, I love the new guys we have here and what we’re working towards. Our record doesn’t show how far we’ve come this season.”

Farmar’s best friend on the Lakers, Luke Walton, met Farmar for dinner in New York City on Saturday night, while he said he keeps in touch with several other players as well.

Lakers fans will have a chance to see the L.A. native Farmar back at STAPLES Center on Jan. 14*, while fellow former teammates D.J. Mbenga (New Orleans) and Josh Powell (Atlanta) come to Los Angeles on Jan. 7 and Feb. 22, respectively.
*The Lakers will present Farmar (and then Powell and Mbenga) with his 2010 championship ring prior to that contest in a pregame ceremony.

Lakers 84, Bulls 88: Dec. 10 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening road game at Chicago, the start of a six-game trek through the Midwest and East Coast, 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 P. Gasol
Bulls: D. Rose, K. Bogans, L. Deng, C. Boozer, J. Noah

FIRST QUARTER
7:50 When the Lakers were at their best early in the season, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom were extremely aggressive on offense, the ball was moving around crisply with Kobe Bryant not having to over-exert himself. That’s exactly what we saw from the Lakers in a terrific first four minutes, with Gasol making 3-of-4 shots, Odom 2-of-3 and Bryant not shooting until a wide-open painted area (Chicago focusing on Gasol and Odom) created a lane for Kobe’s driving two-handed dunk. The score, accordingly, was 12-4 L.A.

2:47 The offense slowed a bit for the Lakers, but their defense didn’t, effectively keeping the Bulls on the perimeter while holding them to 4-of-15 shooting (26.7 percent). Most of L.A.’s 18 points had come in the paint, including four consecutive dunks during one stretch. Gasol was especially effective, making 5-of-7 shots for 10 points, already two more field goals than he managed in a 3-of-10 night against Joakim Noah at STAPLES Center a few weeks back.

0:00 Though a few rim outs put LAL’s shooting percentage below 50 percent, the Lakers held the home team to only 25 percent shooting in the period for a 22-12 lead. Gasol nearly outscored Chicago himself with those 10 points, while Odom’s eight points and five assists didn’t give him enough credit, since he also held Carlos Boozer without a field goal attempt in nine minutes.

SECOND QUARTER
5:35 If the Lakers end up losing this game, they may begrudge the fact that they really struggled to take advantage of Chicago’s historically bad early shooting (22 percent halfway through the period), making only 2-of-9 shots to start the period. Bryant re-entered and hit a jumper, but Rose countered with a three that cut L.A.’s lead to 29-20.

2:48 An 13-2 Bulls run made it a new ball game, back-to-back triples from Kyle Korver and Deng keying the spurt and erasing L.A.’s 13-point lead. Instead, we had a 32-30 contest, which made some sense as lineup changes took away the early paint dominance established by Gasol and Odom.

0:00 Things got oddly even worse for the Lakers, as two more turnovers gave them eight in the quarter, including an inexplicable error between Fisher and Bryant in which the PG and SG couldn’t connect on an uncontested three-foot pass. This allowed Chicago the final possession of the half, and Rose scored from the baseline to give Chicago a 36-32 lead at the half of an odd first half. The Lakers made only 4-of-15 shots in the period for 10 total points.

THIRD QUARTER
7:30 Fortunately for the Lakers, things were looking more like the first than the second quarter, in part because the starting lineup was out there in full effect. Bryant led an early quarter surge to tie the game at 40, getting within nine points of surpassing John Havlicek for 11th on the league’s all-time scoring list in the process.

3:41 It was tight at both ends throughout the period, the teams exchanging leads until Odom’s 1-of-2 free throws tied the game at 49. In other Odom news, he spent the day relaxing, choosing not to leave his hotel room, as he plans on spending time with his kids when the team’s in New York City tomorrow.

0:44.6 But it was all Bulls in the final three minutes, Chicago reeling off a 15-5 run to open a 64-54 lead. Gasol would add two free throws, Deng a jumper and Barnes draw Noah’s goaltend to make it a 66-58 Bulls lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Continue reading ‘Lakers 84, Bulls 88: Dec. 10 Running Diary’

Lakers To Meet President Obama On Monday

Last January, the Lakers became the first NBA team to meet with President Barack Obama, a noted hoops fan who congratulated the team in the East Room of the White House for winning the 2009 championship.

Because the Lakers defended their title by defeating the Boston Celtics in the 2010 Finals, they will in turn meet with President Obama for the second straight year, this time at a community service event on Monday, Dec. 13 at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, D.C.

President Obama will join Lakers coaches, players and staff for a service project with local D.C.-area youth, and then “congratulate the team for achievements on and off the basketball court,” according to the White House press release.

The Lakers, in D.C. to play the Wizards on Tuesday, Dec. 14, will also present President Obama with a gift from the organization to follow up on the personalized No. 1 jersey with “Obama” on the back he was given last year.