Monthly Archive for December, 2010

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Lakers 113, Kings 80: Dec. 3 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home game against Sacramento, the Lakers aiming to snap a rare four-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 P. Gasol
Kings: T. Evans, L. Head, D. Greene, J. Thompson and S. Dalembert

FIRST QUARTER
12:00 The story of the last 24 hours in L.A. was the left hamstring of Pau Gasol, but it proved to be loose enough for the Spaniard to open the game in the starting line up. This was of course very good news for the Lakers, because neither Gasol nor the team would allow the 7-footer to play if he were actually injured more than tweaked.

7:13 The Kings opened up impressively on offense, hitting five of seven shots for an early 11-8 lead, L.A.’s defense still feeling out what Sacramento was running…

3:15 … Which didn’t take long. The Kings made only one more field goal for the rest of the quarter, finishing 7-for-19 (36.8 percent) while the Lakers managed to convert 10-of-21 shots for 21 points and an early lead. An 11-0 run, capped by a graceful left-handed layup from Odom, keyed L.A.’s offense in the period.

0:00 Stat of the quarter: L.A. outscored SAC 16-0 in the paint, getting several easy opportunities around the rim while defending their own quite well. That the lead wasn’t bigger than 21-16 was due in part to a slow pace, with the Lakers steadily controlling the action after the opening few minutes.

SECOND QUARTER
6:59 It didn’t take the Killer B’s long to make an early-November-like impact on this one, as Steve Blake nailed two three-pointers, Matt Barnes converted a tough transition layup and added an assist and board, while Shannon Brown scored six points of his own to help the Lakers open up a 38-24 lead.

2:54 Remember how Sacramento scored 11 points in the first four minutes of the game? They managed just 11 point in the entire second quarter up to the 2:54 mark, with L.A. taking advantage in the form of a 46-29 lead.

0:00 Behind several aggressive forays into the paint by Bryant, the Lakers took a 52-35 lead into the break, getting 16 total points from Kobe in the half, nine from Odom and eight from Gasol, meanwhile holding the Kings to just 33 percent shooting.

THIRD QUARTER
8:36 It was the Lakers, not the trailing-big Kings, who came out as the aggressors in the second half, quickly producing a 24-point margin at 60-36 with two hoops from Gasol and two from Bryant, the All-Stars combining for 34 points. Sacramento looked much like the team that had lost 11-of-12 games heading into this one.

5:02 The Lakers continued to look as comfortable as Matt Barnes in a tattoo parlor, opening up a 31-point lead as Odom’s layup made it 73-42, bringing the points in the paint stat up to 50-10 on the evening. Yikes. Meanwhile, Gasol dished two more pretty dimes to reach a team-high five, while Bryant’s 22 points led all scorers.

0:00 Not much new to report here folks, other than Blake adding his third three-pointer of the evening (in fact, the only three hit by L.A.) late in the period. The lead was 82-52, with the Kings failing to score 20 points in a quarter for the third straight time. Bryant and Gasol had checked out of the game with three minutes remaining in the third, and were getting ready for the always welcome fourth quarter ice wraps.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:34 L.A.’s fourth quarter bench unit hasn’t been its best defensive group, but, as witnessed by Brown’s (unintentionally) flagrant 1 foul on Omri Casspi’s breakaway dunk, they were playing hard despite a margin still at 30 points.

4:00 L.A.’s two second round picks took full advantage of their collective playing time in the fourth, with Derrick Caracter increasing his totals to 10 points with four rebounds, and Devin Ebanks notching seven quick points, all thanks to transition finishes.

2:35 Even in garbage time, L.A.’s coaches are paying attention, and they were happy to see Sasha Vujacic go six minutes without attempting a single shot, instead moving the ball (two assists) and rebounding (two boards) before finally swishing a wide-open look. It was a small thing, perhaps, but Bryant, Odom and Fisher appreciated the Slovenian’s effort enough to get up off the bench and cheer.

Your final: Lakers 113, Kings 80, allowing L.A. to move to 14-6 on the season, snapping their four-game losing streak in emphatic fashion.

Gasol Expected to Play


Phil Jackson said that Pau Gasol does “anticipate that he will play” tonight against Sacramento.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone


However, if Gasol has a set back prior to the game (i.e. his hamstring tightens up) there’s a chance he’d miss the game.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Gasol Has Strained Hamstring

UCLA Health SystemCLICK HERE FOR GASOL POST-PRACTICE VIDEO

After the third quarter of Wednesday’s loss at Houston, Pau Gasol headed to the Lakers locker room with athletic trainer Gary Vitti to stretch out a tight left hamstring, returning early in the fourth quarter and finishing the game.

Unable to sprint or play with his usual activity, Gasol concluded the contest with just eight points and nine rebounds despite 38 minutes of action, numbers far below his usual averages of 21 points and 12 boards.

We learned on Thursday morning back in Los Angeles that Gasol does indeed have what the team is classifying as a strained hamstring, which he first aggravated during L.A.’s Tuesday evening’s loss to Memphis.

“It’s tight, a little sore,” Gasol explained. “We’ll see how it goes. Obviously when you have a little bit of a history with it, you get concerned, but you try to do your best handling it and not aggravating it too much while you’re trying to help the team.”

That history includes 17 missed games in 2009-10, 11 to start the season and six in January with strains of his respective right and left hamstrings. Gasol did reveal that his current strain is simply not as bad.

“So far it’s not comparable,” he said. “We’ll see if it stays useful.”

The Lakers are set to play the Sacramento Kings at home on Friday, and while Gasol is listed as “day-to-day,” Phil Jackson did acknowledge that the team has talked about holding him out. This in part because L.A.’s next game isn’t until Tuesday, which would give him five more days to make sure his hamstring is right.

“Hopefully tomorrow it will feel better,” Gasol concluded. “We don’t want to (get ahead of ourselves) … we’ll go through (Friday’s) shootaround and see how it feels.”

Phil Jackson Post-Houston Presser

Here’s a summary of Phil Jackson’s postgame presser with the media following L.A.’s 109-99 loss at Houston:

- On if it’s too early in the season to be concerned with the losing streak:
Jackson: It’s way too early in the season. We just have to hang on and (find) the right spot for our team to get better. We have some guys struggling, not playing well, but (some of) our guys I thought picked it up pretty well. I liked the bench tonight, they played pretty well. Shannon (Brown) and Matt (Barnes) both played well and I thought Steve (Blake) directed the team pretty good out there.

- Jackson said the Lakers shot the ball really well in the first half, but really struggled in the second, crediting Houston’s defense for picking up their defensive activity as each of the other three opponents L.A. has faced has during the losing streak also managed to do.

- On Gasol leaving the game with a tight hamstring before returning:
Jackson: We’re concerned about it. We’re concerned about the way he played tonight. He didn’t play with any activity, had probably his worst game of the season. He had some hamstring injuries and I think it was mostly physical (and not mental).

-On if the fact that none of his 11 championship teams ever lost four straight games was interesting:
Jackson: I don’t think so. You can’t compare (different seasons), it’s too obscure. (The players) need some life in their legs. They’ll get it this weekend, we have a couple of days off*.
*After Friday’s game against Sacramento, the Lakers have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off before playing Washington on Tuesday.

- Jackson said that the Lakers needed “another finger to put in the dike.” He acknowledged that Andrew Bynum would practice on Thursday, but wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was Bynum’s finger they needed.

- On what went wrong in the second half:
Jackson: Kevin Martin had 20 second half points … a lot of it was about fouls, he has 10 free throws. Battier got a set of three free throws (also), and those are things that certainly (affect the outcome). Those are just mistakes, errors, we should know better than that.

Lakers 99, Rockets 109: Dec. 1 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s road game at Houston, as the Lakers looked to avoid their first four-game losing streak since acquiring Pau Gasol in February of 2008, 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
Rockets: K. Lowry*, K. Martin, S. Battier, L. Scola, C. Hayes

FIRST QUARTER
8:38 The early returns on L.A.’s response to three straight losses were pretty positive, as the Lakers looked more sharp running their offense, involved Lamar Odom on two of the first three possessions (one resulting in his isolation hoop over Battier), stayed home defensively and used their length advantage inside to earn Bryant a layup (Gasol’s offensive board over Hayes) to grab a 9-6 edge.

0:24.9 The brightest sign of the period was Odom’s offensive emergence after a quiet string of games during L.A.’s losing streak. He took five shots, making four, including an in-rhythm three-pointer to give the Lakers a 26-23 lead after one. I asked Phil Jackson before the game what he thought about Odom’s minutes considering his Team USA requirements, and he responded that he’d actually like to be playing Odom more than he has. With Bryant’s FGA’s going up and Odom less involved particularly with Gasol than he had been in L.A.’s 8-0 start, the team’s coaching staff must have been pleased to see an aggressive Odom.

SECOND QUARTER
9:01 Jackson certainly backed up his comments about playing Odom more, which continued to pay off as he led the bench on a 10-4 run to open the second (15-4 including Odom’s final five points of the first) to make it a 36-27 game. Odom had 11 points with five rebounds, while Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown scored two buckets each in support.

6:00 OK, last Odom comment for a while: with L.O. running the show, the Lakers held onto a 40-36 lead halfway through the period while giving Gasol and Bryant a healthy rest. Odom scored 15 points, coming predominantly on jumpers, which is somewhat rare as his offensive bursts usually come as a product of his offensive glass work alongside streaks out in transition. This is also heartening for the Lakers as Odom will be returning to play with that second unit when Bynum comes back shortly.

0:16.2 After almost entirely controlling the half, the Lakers took their foot off the pedal just for a minute, and Houston said “Thanks” while scoring 11 straight points, including two transition three-pointers, to cut the lead suddenly to just one. Bryant did manage a fadeaway J from the free throw line at the buzzer to put L.A. up 56-53 at the half.

THIRD QUARTER
5:53 The Lakers failed to exert the control they’d established in the first 22 minutes of the game, allowing Houston to tie the score at 66 halfway through the third, the Rockets gaining an element of confidence they’d lacked until that last burst. Odom hadn’t slowed, however, nailing a triple to reach 21 points, one short of his season high. He’d add two more buckets in the next few minutes to reach a season-high 25 points.

0:00 The third quarter was played to a relative draw, Houston managing to trim one point off L.A.’s halftime lead with the visitors taking a 78-76 lead into the fourth. Gasol, however, left for the locker room with trainer Gary Vitti, and with Kobe still resting on the bench, the group featuring Blake, Brown, Barnes, Odom and Caracter would be tasked with preserving the lead to open the final period, playing to avoid the team’s first four-game losing streak since acquiring Gasol.
Continue reading ‘Lakers 99, Rockets 109: Dec. 1 Running Diary’

Matt Barnes: Just Tupac

If you approach a headphone-wearing Matt Barnes in the locker room before Lakers games, you might not be able to guess exactly what song he’s listening to … but there is a quick way to narrow it down, because it’s definitely a track by Tupac Shakur.

“I’ve got about 400 Tupac songs on my iPod,” revealed Barnes. “And I just rotate.”

While chatting with Barnes about the video scouting reports he studies to prep for literally any player that he might guard throughout a game — from point guards to power forwards — I noticed one of my personal favorite songs from Tupac’s “All Eyez on Me” album (“Heartz of Men”) blaring out of his headphones. I told Barnes that happened to be my first hip hop album, and that in fact, I played the CD so often on my Discman it became so scratched that I had to purchase many of the songs on iTunes.

Barnes, who was listening to Tupac growing up in Sacramento in the 1990′s while I was doing the same in Minneapolis, understood exactly what was so appealing.

“Tupac paints a picture for you,” he said. “He really makes you understand what’s going on in his life … I always keep it on ‘Pac.”

His favorite album is also “All Eyez On Me,” though he’s also partial to “Makaveli – The 7 Day Theory.”

In 2pac conclusion, Barnes also gave us his five favorite tracks right now, a list that changes periodically:

1) “Letter 2 My Unborn”
2) “Secretzs of War”
3) “Against All Odds”
4) “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted”
5) “Who Do You Believe In?”