Monthly Archive for January, 2012

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Lakers – Mavericks Postgame Numbers

We compiled some of the more interesting numbers from L.A.’s 73-70 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers winning for ninth straight time at home thanks to Derek Fisher’s three-pointer with three seconds to go and consistently solid defense:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
35.0 Shooting percentage for the Mavericks, a testament to L.A.’s defensive effort throughout the game. Afterwards, Mike Brown had this to say: “I like that fact that if we don’t score, we can still win games. Eventually, we’re going to score, and we’re going to score at an efficient clip. Our guys understand that we can win ugly games, pretty games .. However you want to bring it, we can get down that way.”

21 Points for Dirk Nowitzki, which led Dallas, but he managed only one field goal in the fourth quarter, as Pau Gasol defended him as effectively as one can down the stretch, drawing postgame praise from his coach.

15 Rebounds by Andrew Bynum to lead all players, including three on the offensive glass. Dallas, however, did get the better of L.A. on the glass (49-44), the third straight game in which the league’s top rebounding team got out-boarded.

9 Points scored by Derek Fisher in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning 27-foot three-pointer. He totaled 13 points, a season high, his previous (9) coming against Utah in the season’s third game.

4 Consecutive games heading into the evening in which Kobe Bryant scored at least 40 points. He failed to score in the first quarter, tallied 13 points in the final three while struggling from the field (7-for-22), but still drew the double-team with five seconds left in the game that got Fisher the open look from three that won the contest.

1 Turnover in the fourth quarter, helping the Lakers outscore the Mavs 27-19 to come away with a victory. L.A. totaled only 11 turnovers in the game to 15 from Dallas.

Lakers 73, Mavs 70: Jan. 16 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening home contest against Dallas on Martin Luther King Day, the Lakers looking for a 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, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Mavericks J. Kidd, D. West, S. Marion, D. Nowitzki, B. Haywood

FIRST QUARTER
12:00 This, of course, marked the first time the Lakers saw Dallas since being swept 4-0 in the Western Semi’s last season, L.A. finally tiring both physically and mentally after three consecutive trips to the Finals in previous seasons, and the Mavs playing great basketball. While Mike Brown and his staff weren’t here, it was acknowledged that the players would have it top of mind.

6:55 After receiving a standing ovation upon entering the game wearing Mavericks blue, Lamar Odom hit a wing jumper to give Dallas an 8-7 lead. It was a nice moment for Odom, very much appreciated for his crucial contributions to back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. His wife Khloe (and her BFF Malika – yes, I used to watch the show, don’t worry about it) was sitting courtside, opposite the Lakers’ bench.

0:00 “Ugly” probably doesn’t suffice to describe the offense in the first quarter. L.A. managed to hit only 5-of-19 field goals, including a 1-for-5 from Gasol and 0-for-4 from Kobe (who came in with four consecutive 40-point games), and Dallas wasn’t much better, hitting only 8-of-24 including Dirk’s 0-for-5. Only Odom (3-for-4 with a three) had anything going, leading all scorers with seven points, giving Dallas an 18-15 lead

SECOND QUARTER
8:13 Dallas brings three proven, veteran scorers off the bench in Odom, Jason Terry and Vince Carter, and they were effective early with 13 of the 21 Mavericks points. However, L.A.’s unproven crew responded with a 6-0 run with buckets from Metta World Peace and Jason Kapono, and an alley-oop lob from Josh McRoberts to Bynum, to put L.A. up 23-21.

4:00 The two Finals MVP’s in the building started to get it going, with Dirk hitting three straight shots, and Kobe two as the lead exchanged hands (33-32 Lakers). Bryant and Dirk went respectively scoreless in the first quarter, but it’s always only a matter of time until they start splashing that net.

0:00 A better second quarter for L.A. ended with a 24-17 margin, turning a three-point first quarter deficit into a 39-35 lead at the break. Bryant closed out the half with four straight makes, and L.A.’s D held Dallas to 35.7 percent in the quarter. The bench managed only six points to 18 from the Mavs, but keep in mind that Dallas is set up for points off the pine, since when Nowitzki sits, the offense runs through Terry/Odom/Carter, where as Bynum/Gasol become the focus of the O with the subs when Kobe sits.

THIRD QUARTER
7:58 Playing better basketball to open the half was Dallas, led by Marion, who twice stripped Kobe, the second time leaking out in transition to draw a foul. The ensuing free throw (1-of-2) made it a 45-43 lead for the visitors, on an 10-4 run in the quarter.

3:33 Showing just how veteran the two teams are, the only player on the floor under 30 for a good stretch of the second was Bynum, who improved to 6-of-10 from the field with a nice move around Haywood, not to mention a game-high 13 rebounds.

0:00 How close was this to the worst offensive quarter in Lakers history? Only 1-of-2 free throws from Bynum in the final seconds kept it from (literally) being the all-time lowest mark of six, which came on Nov. 20, 1977, vs. Chicago. So, yeah. Somehow, L.A. was down only five heading into the fourth quarter.

FOURTH QUARTER
11:18 A beautiful reverse slam from McRoberts off World Peace’s pass was the exact opposite of the entire third quarter, here bringing the Lakers within four points. The next alley-oop, two minutes later, came from Kapono to Bynum, getting L.A. within three at 55-52.

7:03 Upon returning, Kobe made consecutive shots to give L.A. more field goals in the fourth than it managed in the entire third, getting his team within one. Helping the Lakers stay in the game despite the rough start was terrible 3-point shooting from Cuban’s bunch, making just 4-of-24 (including Jason Kidd’s 0-for-8).

4:44 Coming up with three key plays to spark a 6-0 run was Fisher, who first stripped Dirk and fed Barnes (running another fly pattern resulting in two free throws), then drew Terry’s foul on the perimeter and made his own free throws and finally stripped Kidd before streaking down the court with his 37-year-old legs for a layup.

0:38.7 A terrific defensive effort from Gasol on Dirk this time resulted in a travel from the German, allowing L.A. to keep the ball, up two, down the stretch. Bryant missed a baseline jumper, however, and Jason Terry hit a pull-up jumper in the lane to tie the game with 9.9 seconds to play.

0:03.0 We mentioned that big spark Fisher gave in the middle of the quarter … and he sure knew how to put a big cherry on top by, with three seconds on the clock in a tie game, pulling up for a game-winning three-pointer after Bryant passed out of a double team. Add another huge one to Fisher’s big-shot lore, this one delivering the 9th straight home victory for the Lakers, who improved to 10-5 with the victory. Next up, a tough double-header in Miami and Orlando; we’ll see you later in the week.

Lakers Reunite with Odom

There’s no question that the Lakers miss what Lamar Odom, traded to Dallas in the preseason, brings to the basketball court. Any team would. But as some of Odom’s old teammates explained at Sunday’s practice, they may miss Odom’s presence off the court even more.

Luke Walton, one of Odom’s best friends, explained why.

“This was family to him,” he said. “He’s a very caring person when it comes to the people he’s close to and he was close to a lot of people here.”

Walton has tried to connect with Odom over the phone, but quipped that Odom “doesn’t answer his phone,” well known to his friends. Yet he was the guy that kept the Lakers’ locker room loose, the proverbial straw that stirred the drink.

Last January, Walton told us in a feature story about Odom why he valued the friendship so much:

A few years ago, Walton lost a close friend from college, leaving him “all messed up in the head,” he said. Walton didn’t tell anybody about it, and says he was simply out of it. Odom approached him wanting to talk, but Walton wasn’t ready and continued to hold it in. Insistent, Odom pulled Walton aside, and eventually got Walton to join him for a beer to discuss whatever Odom sensed was bothering his buddy.

“He told me different personal stuff about his life, and by the time we got done hashing it out, I felt way better,” said Walton. “Lamar left, and I was just like, ‘Wow.’ He didn’t have to do that. I hadn’t even told him there was anything wrong with me. He just perceived how I was acting.

“For someone to go through as much as he has in his life, to still be that guy who is always smiling, always making sure other people are happy, really shows what kind of person he is.”

The Lakers and Mavericks tip off at 7:30 p.m. at STAPLES Center.

Kobe Bryant named Olympic Finalist

As expected, Kobe Bryant was named as one of the 20 finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s basketball team, a roster which includes eight 2008 Olympic gold medalists and 10 members of the 2010 USA World Championship gold medal winning team.

The lone Laker to be named, Bryant will await further word about making the final roster, which has only 12 spots, but he is certainly expected to be in London.

“The USA Basketball Men’s National Team program has come a long way as the elite list of players who are now part of our program shows,” said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo. “The selected finalists are a very, very talented group; the depth of the talent is extraordinary. This selection decision was as difficult of a challenge as I’ve faced since I took on the USA National Team program in 2005.”

Bryant has previously expressed his desire to play in the Olympics, and his coach in Los Angeles, Mike Brown, offered his encouragement on Monday at the team’s practice facility.

While Brown acknowledged that all coaches would like to make sure their players stand the best chance of being healthy for the next NBA season by getting proper rest in the offseason, he understands the pull of playing for one’s country.

The USA coaching staff is led by Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski, with assistants Jim Boeheim, Mike D’Antoni, and Nate McMillan.

“Jerry has built an extremely deep and talented USA National Team roster of 35 players and I want to thank each player for their incredible commitment to being part of USA Basketball,” said Krzyzewski. “Reducing to 20 players was unbelievably difficult.”

Bryant Named Player of the Week… Again

NEW YORK, Jan. 16, 2012 – The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant today was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, Jan. 9, through Sunday, Jan. 15.

Bryant guided the Lakers to a 3-1 week, and led the league in scoring with a 43.0 average. Bryant tallied 40-plus points in each of the Lakers’ four games. The Lakers opened the week with a 99-83 win over the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 10, fueled by Bryant’s 48 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Bryant’s 32.0-point scoring average is tops in the league.

Jan. 10 vs. Phoenix: Racked up 48 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in a 99-83 victory over the Suns.
Jan. 11 @ Utah: Tallied 40 points and added eight rebounds during a 90-87 win over the Jazz.
Jan. 13 vs. Cleveland: Posted 42 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals as the Lakers bested the Cavaliers 97-92.

This marked the 30th time in Bryant’s career that he was named Player of the Week.

Lakers 94, Clippers 102: Jan. 14 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Saturday evening road contest against the Clippers, the Lakers looking for a sixth straight win, 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, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Clippers: C. Paul, C. Billups, C. Butler, B. Griffin, D. Jordan

FIRST QUARTER
9:29 A real strong swat from Gasol on Griffin was the first head turner of the evening, and it turned into offense on the other end as Barnes drew a foul in transition and hit both foul shots. Griffin had scored on Gasol on the previous trip, but the Spaniard’s length can give him problems.

0:00 The Clips gained control of the quarter as Kobe struggled from the field (1-for-6) and L.A. had trouble getting good entry passes to their bigs, but got a ridiculous running halfcourt heave from rookie Darius Morris to beat the buzzer, cutting the lead to 31-24. Morris was being asked to do quite a bit, not only guarding Chris Paul but also running the offense, and had twice turned it over earlier trying to get the ball inside.

SECOND QUARTER
5:51 Bryant continued to struggle to find his range, making just 3-for-11, but he did get a tough alley-oop tip in lay up to fall off a McRoberts pass, cutting the Clips lead to 39-36. The Lakers were having problems on the personal foul front, however, as all but one player of the nine who’d played had committed a foul, including three on McRoberts and two on Kapono. The only guy not to commit one? Matt Barnes, who came in leading the team with 37 PF’s on the season.

4:10 A defensive breakdown from the Lakers on the perimeter led directly to a wide open three pointer from Billups, which he drained to put LAC up 45-36. Mike Brown immediately called a time out, and wrote the words “MULTIPLE EFFORT!!!” with three underlines. If you’re confused as to why I know that, we’re pulling double duty for road games with the sideline on KCAL-9. Brown was very animated, and he had his players nodding in silence.

0:00 The quarter didn’t end much better, however. The Clips gathered 13 offensive boards, waaaay more than LAL typically concede in a game, and got to the line consistently to take a 55-42 lead into the break. The Clippers were definitely working harder, and the scoreboard reflected it. An apologist could suggest that LAL came in on a back-to-back and had played the most games in the league, 13, in 21 days while the Clips had played just eight, but Brown didn’t want to hear that.

THIRD QUARTER
6:00 With the shot clock falling quickly, Paul found a way to sneak into a tiny opening, and converted a tough leaner to put the Clips up 65-53. L.A. was doing a better job cleaning its defensive glass, but it continued to struggle hitting shots, converting only 21-of-52.

2:48 L.A. cut the lead to eight thanks to back-to-back long jumpers from Kobe, finally finding his range from the perimeter, but the Clips answered with a Griffin drive and CP3 technical free throw, this one coming on Darius Morris, for getting into it in the corner. The lead was thus at 11, L.A. still trying to find traction despite continuing to struggle to find its legs.

0:50.0 Then, suddenly, L.A. found its game, rolling off points (mostly from Bryant) and finally clearing the defensive glass to cut the 13-point halftime lead all the way down to 3 when Bryant hit 1-of-2 FT’s. The miss, however, was cleared by Randy Foye (whom Bryant had just blocked), whose FT’s in the bonus put the lead back at four at the quarter break. In case you were keeping track, Bryant exploded for 21 points in the third to get the Lakers back into the game, and himself within eight points of a fourth consecutive 40-point night.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:55 The biggest shot of the game to that point came from Paul, on a desperation 3-point attempt with the clock expiring, to restore an eight-point lead in the midst of L.A.’s furious comeback attempt. Rookie Morris was still in the game, and took advantage of a Gasol tip out to sink a baseline jumper, cutting the lead to 84-78.

5:00 Bryant got two more tough jumpers to fall, boosting his total to 36 points, but the Clips responded with a bucket by Jordan at the rim to make it a 91-82 lead. With the home team aggressively doubling Kobe, trying to get the ball out of his hands on one end, Paul continued to excel on the other, first feeding Griffin for a dunk, then reaching 33 points on a tough fallaway to make it a 13-point edge.

0:00 A determined second-half effort ended up being not quite enough for the Lakers to erase that 13-point halftime lead. Bryant continued to score, mostly on tough jumpers, to reach 42 points, but the Lakers consequently didn’t get the ball inside to punish the Clippers inside, Bynum and Gasol combining for just eight second half points. Whether tired legs caught up to L.A. or not, the Clippers earned the win, particularly with Paul’s outstanding game. We’ll see you back at STAPLES for a home game on Monday against Dallas. Final score: 102-94 Clips.

Lakers 97, Cavs 92: Jan. 13 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest against Cleveland, the Lakers looking for a fifth straight win and seventh straight at home, 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, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Cavs: K. Irving, A. Parker, O. Casspi, A. Jamison, A. Varejao

FIRST QUARTER
10:00 It was all Bynum early, L.A. using its superior size to get the big fella three touches next to the rim, and a 6-0 lead. The Cavs are quite small in starting Jamison at the four and Varejao (who may be a more natural power forward) at center, something Mike Brown knows well (thus the game plan).

5:20 Not the best night for Derek Fisher to pick up two early fouls, since his backup Steve Blake was unavailable due to injured ribs. Enter rookie second rounder Darius Morris, an L.A. native, whose first appearance at home this season produced a corner three, and consecutive assists to Gasol and Barnes to put L.A. up 21-18. And by the way … Morris would be having his name called quite often, as we learned that Blake would actually miss 3-4 weeks after further evaluation, differing from his original “day-to-day” diagnosis.

0:00 While Bynum was a perfect 5-for-5 in the first, Kobe wasn’t far behind, hitting 4-of-5 FG’s and 3-of-3 FT’s to reach a game-high 11 points, enough to put L.A. up 32-28 after one. The defense wasn’t where Brown wanted it, however, L.A. conceding nearly 50 percent shooting to Cleveland.

SECOND QUARTER
9:00 Leading a second unit of Morris, Devin Ebanks, Troy Murphy and Jason Kapono (the latter two returning after two missed games apiece) was Gasol, who improved to 4-of-5 from the field with a jumper, and grabbed three defensive boards to reach a game-high six. L.A., thus, held onto a 35-29 lead.

4:35 On the previous trip, the refs changed what appeared to be a Kobe three to a two … so he just pulled up from three on the next trip down, and sunk it. Fair enough. He was quickly up to 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Bryant hitting threes consistently will be a sign of the wrist feeling better, as getting a feel from long distance through the wrist has been a struggle for him all season (19.6 percent). Indeed, he’d nail another triple two minutes later to put L.A. up 13.

0:00 We spoke too soon, as Bryant nailed yet another deep three to reach 24 points on 9-of-13 field goals. Meanwhile, the Lakers defense was excellent in the second quarter, holding Cleveland to only 13 points on 4-of-20 shooting (20 percent).

THIRD QUARTER
9:11 A minute after catching an alley-oop from Barnes, Gasol returned the favor by leading the break and lofting one for L.A.’s starting small forward. Gasol was at it again on the next trip down, hitting a jumper to improve to 16 points with his eight boards and three dimes.

7:14 The season-high 10th assist from Fisher got Barnes another hoop, giving him 13 points as the fourth Laker in double figures. L.A., however, forgot about defense for a few possessions, enough to elicit a Mike Brown time out after a quick 6-0 Cavs run cut the lead to 13.

2:24 For the seventh time in eight games, Kobe hit the 30-point mark, this time on an and-1. He’d missed all but one of his first six attempts from the perimeter in the third, perhaps suggesting that his wrist tightened up at halftime … thus driving to the hoop for the and-1. L.A. held a 12-point lead. Cleveland would pull one bucket back before the quarter buzzer, making it 82-70 Lakers into the final quarter. Kobe was up to 35 points after his fourth triple, and a pull-up J in transition.

FOURTH QUARTER
7:07 A poor start to the final quarter suddenly had Cleveland within three points, as L.A. went 0-for-7 from the field on one end, largely with a line up featuring three second round picks (Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Ebanks), while allowing nine points to the Cavs. The starters returned with 7:43 to play.

4:02 Bryant’s jumper was only the second Lakers field goal of the quarter, but the starters had reclaimed control with defense, holding the Cavs without points on five straight trips to lead 87-79. His next hoop came two minutes later, again on a jumper, giving him 40 points for the third straight game, and this the first time he’d scored at least 40 in three consecutive games since March of 2007, when he was 27 years old.

0:57.6 A Bynum free throw put the lead back at 10 in the final minute, though his alley-oop layup from Gasol had just about sealed things moments earlier. Gasol (18 points, 10 boards, four assists), Bynum (15 points, 11 boards, three assists) and Bryant (40 points, five boards, three assists) all had terrific games, while Fisher’s 10 assists and 15 points from Barnes didn’t hurt. More points would come as Cleveland managed to drain a couple of last minute threes, and L.A. some free throws, producing a 97-92 final.

That’s seven straight home wins for L.A. after the opening day last-second loss to Chicago, and five straight overall. We’ll see you tomorrow night for Lakers – Clippers.

Steve Blake Injury Update

LOS ANGELES - After further evaluation, it has been determined that Lakers guard Steve Blake will be out approximately three to four weeks dur to the costochaondral fracture (fracture of the cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum) he originally suffered during the Lakers game against Phoenix on Tuesday and aggravated in Wednesday’s game at Utah.

Lakers Injury Update: Jan. 13

Part of the toll of L.A.’s having played 12 games in 18 days to open the season, the most in the NBA, has been a growing injury list.

However, the Lakers expect to get a few guys back heading into Friday evening’s tilt against Cleveland. Here is who’s playing that did not against Phoenix or at Utah:

EXPECTED TO PLAY
- Josh McRoberts, who has missed six consecutive games battling a very sore sprained left big toe, is expected to return against Cleveland. L.A.’s coaches are excited to have McRoberts (technically a game-time decision, though Mike Brown said he expects him to play) back, as he was in particular a key to the team’s strong weak side defense to open the season.
- Troy Murphy: the backup power forward is feeling better after suffering from gastroenteritis, which kept him out of Tuesday’s game against the Suns and home in Los Angeles when the team went to Salt Lake City. Murphy said after shootaround that he’s feeling “fine” and is ready to play the Cavs.
- Jason Kapono, who is fully healthy, but missed the last two due to the birth of his twin girls, Isla and Campbell, with the full blessing of his coach and teammates.

Kobe Bryant (torn lunotriquetral ligament, right wrist) and Pau Gasol (sprained right shoulder) continue to be listed on the injury report, but both will play as they have in each previous game.

NOT PLAYING
On the other hand, backup point guard Steve Blake will not play against Cleveland, and is expected to be out against the Clippers on Saturday as well. Blake suffered a costochaondral fracture (fracture of the cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum) against Phoenix, and aggravated the injury in Wednesday’s third quarter at Utah. He’s listed as “day-to-day,” and did not do anything physical at Friday morning shootaround.

Cavs Preview Podcast: Jeff Phelps

The Lakers play the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mike Brown’s former team, only once this season due to the compressed NBA schedule, so to better understand what we can expect in advance of Friday night’s contest, we dialed up Fox Sports Ohio sideline reporter Jeff Phelps.

An Akron, Ohio, native, Phelps has been covering the Cavs on TV for nine years, and Cleveland sports for 24 years, so he was there for the entire Brown and LeBron James eras. He shared what he knows about Brown and his assistant John Kuester, offered a variety of thoughts on James, detailed the strong start to the season from Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, discussed current Cleveland coach and former Showtime Laker Byron Scott, underrated big man Anderson Varejao and more: