Monthly Archive for January, 2012

Page 5 of 5

Lakers 97, Warriors 90: Jan. 6 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest against Golden State, the Lakers looking to bounce back from Thursday’s loss in Portland, 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
Warriors: C. Jenkins*, M. Ellis, D. Wright, D. Lee, K. Brown
*Steph Curry was out with an ankle injury, while Andris Biedrins was also in street clothes.

FIRST QUARTER
6:32 Last night in Portland, Matt Barnes declared himself fully healthy, that the knee he hurt last January was officially giving him no problems. We saw his statement come to life on the court early here, as he sprinted out ahead of the pack to get a transition layup, giving L.A. an early 10-6 lead.

0:00 Son of Lakers broadcaster Mychal Thompson Klay made an early impact by hitting two jumpers, the second a pull-up three, to give the Warriors a 22-20 lead after one. It was a rather listless defensive effort from a weary Lakers team, who landed in L.A. at 2 a.m. after Thursday’s loss to the Blazers … not that Mike Brown would be interested in any excuses.

SECOND QUARTER
6:05 Nate Robinson, who was just signed by the Warriors earlier in the week, got hot early off Golden State’s bench to score nine points, sparking a 21-9 edge in bench points for the visitors.

1:15 A somewhat bizarre game kept getting more weird, as not one but two lane violations were called on the Lakers during Brown free throw attempts … yet he missed all four. Gasol finally collected the rebound, his 11th of the half. Yet it was an ugly offensive half for the home team, who shot just 36.6 percent in the half, and trailed 39-35 heading into the tunnel.

THIRD QUARTER
8:03 With nothing going inside for Bynum on offense, as Warriors double teams continued to affect him, Bryant scored four straight to cut Golden State’s biggest lead from seven to three. Gasol added his second field goal of the third moments later to make it 46-45 Warriors, giving the Spaniard a double-double.

4:46 Doing a terrific job on defense for L.A. was Barnes, who held Ellis to just eight points on 4-of-13 FG’s before Ellis got a reverse to go thanks to a screen, and had 10 points of his own (six in the first six minutes of the third) to help L.A. build a halftime deficit into a 5-point lead.

0:00 Bryant was fantastic offensively in the third, capping off a 17-point effort with a buzzer-beating triple to reach 30 points on the evening, and build the Purple and Gold lead to nine. He also found Steve Blake for a triple on the second-to-last possession, and offered his typical fist pump of approval Blake’s way.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:57 After Bynum’s put-back of a Kobe miss gave him (just) five points on 2-of-8 field goals, Barnes continued his best game of the young season, sprinting up the floor for an and-1 layup after hitting a perimeter J, towards 14 points on 6-of-8 field goals, plus six boards, two assists and his D on Ellis (6-of-17).

4:33 Kobe continued to score (37 points, matching his last home game vs. Houston), and Bynum hit the glass (15 boards, six offensive) to keep L.A. up nine despite two straight hoops from the Warriors, leading to a Mike Brown time out. The Lakers had been in control thanks to that 32-19 third quarter, and had Blake plus the rest of the starters on the floor to close the game.

2:28 A furious and fast (should have written that the other way around?) 10-0 Warriors run suddenly cut L.A.’s lead down to just three, but Gasol answered with two jumpers around another transition layup from Barnes to keep the lead safe.

0:30.9 Yet two more Warriors buckets kept things interesting for a bit, even as Kobe’s two free throws (39 points, a season-high) made it 94-88. Ellis added a 15-footer, and Gasol missed the first of two free throws with 15.9 left. A few more free throws would be added, and your final: 97-90 Lakers. Up next, the Grizzlies on Sunday … see you then.

LAL Draw Warriors on Quick Turnaround

The rare road-home back-to-back rears its head for the Lakers today, with the team landing at about 2:00 a.m. from Portland after a tough loss on Thursday night, and Golden State waiting in Los Angeles for a tip just about 17 hours after the Lakers plane touched ground.

As is typical in the NBA, Mike Brown canceled the regular morning shootaround so that his players could get a bit of rest, and will instead have his squad gather on the early side for the Warriors game, to go through Golden State’s sets and schemes to prepare as well as possible for a team that’s lost three straight to fall to 2-4 on the young season.

The Warriors, under a head coach with no previous coaching experience in Mark Jackson (formerly with ESPN/ABC calling games last season), will be short-handed in this one, since starting point guard Stephen Curry will not play due to a hobbled ankle. The offense will run through Monta Ellis, who took 30 shots to get his 38 points in the team’s Wednesday loss to San Antonio, while rookie Klay Thompson (the son of Lakers radio broadcaster Mychal Thompson, the No. 11 overall pick attended Santa Margarita HS in Orange County) should see some extra minutes in Curry’s absence.

Golden State stars Andris Biedrins and David Lee at the four and five, giving L.A. its typical big advantage on the low blocks, and brings Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown off the bench in relief, tonight charged with trying to body up Andrew Bynum (four double-doubles in four games) and Pau Gasol.

A few other tidbits heading into the action from the team’s official game notes:

- The Lakers won last season’s series with Golden State 3-1 after sweeping the 2010-11 series 4-0 and have swept four of the last six season series with the Warriors. They have not lost a season series to Golden State since they were defeated 2-3 over five games during the 1994-95 season.
- The Lakers and Warriors have met 297 times in the regular season during the Los Angeles era, the Lakers leading 189-108.
- The Lakers are 26-4 in their last 30 games against Golden State but had their 12-game win streak against the Warriors snapped in their most recent meeting 4/6/11 at ORACLE Arena (87-95).
- At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 22-2 all-time against the Warriors.
- In 55 career games including 46 starts against the Warriors, Kobe Bryant is averaging 26.8 points per game with a high game of 51 points, his 4th highest average among all teams behind Charlotte, Toronto and Portland.
- Lakers guard Derek Fisher played two seasons for Golden State, where he averaged a career-best 13.3 points during the 2005-06 season.
- Lakers forward Troy Murphy was drafted by Golden State with the 14th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. Murphy played his first five and a half NBA seasons with the Warriors, averaging a double-double for the year three times in the Bay Area (2002-03, 2004-05, 2005-06).
- Kwame Brown played for two-plus seasons with the Lakers from 2005-08, averaging 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in 136 games before being traded to Memphis along with Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the draft rights to Marc Gasol and first round draft picks in 2008 and 2010 in exchange for Pau Gasol and a 2010 second round draft pick.

Lakers 96, Blazers 107: Jan. 5 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening road contest at Portland, the Lakers looking for a fifth win in six 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, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Blazers: R. Felton, W. Matthews, G. Wallace, L. Aldridge, M. Camby

FIRST QUARTER
12:00 Before the action, a question: why have the Lakers struggled so much in the Rose Garden in the last several years? They have only four wins in their last 20 trips here to Portland, and it’s not because of a lack of talent, since the Lakers have gone to the Finals in three of the last four years, and the Blazers have yet to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Instead, if you ask former Blazer and Laker (and current Lakers radio color man) Mychal Thompson, it’s because the Blazers treat these games like main event playoff contests, while the Lakers treat them like any other game. That difference in energy, spurred on by one of the league’s best home crowds, has made a big difference … not that Mike Brown is going to allow that as an excuse.

8:15 L.A. did well to quiet the crowd early by executing very well towards 8-of-9 field goal makes, allowing a 16-11 early lead. Portland, however, wasn’t far behind, as a Wes Matthews 3 got the Blazers up to 66 percent themselves.

0:00 L.A.’s efficiency didn’t slip much as the quarter continued, the big men Bynum and Gasol combining to make all nine of their shots for 18 collective points, and Bryant hitting 4-of-6 for eight of his own. Portland got two triples from Matthews to help his squad get within four, at 31-27, at the break.

SECOND QUARTER
6:00 With L.A. holding a 41-39 lead, we saw a pretty big disparity in shot making from the bench and the starters. Led by the bigs, the starters made 17-for-21 field goals, while the bench, taking mostly jumpers, managed just two hits in 10 attempts. The bench did, however, play better on defense, keeping Portland from getting out in transition.

0:00 Again, we can comment on how efficient the Lakers were on offense, getting whatever shots they wanted towards 61.5 percent from the field, led by a strong 7-for-7 from Bynum. L.A. did concede too many offensive rebounds for their coaches’ liking (five), and didn’t get around screens very well, as the Blazers trailed by only four at 56-52.

THIRD QUARTER
8:15 L.A. pushed its lead to six on Gasol’s 13-foot jumper, but the Blazers responded with an 8-0 run, capped by an and-1 layup in transition and a layup plus defensive three seconds technical, to open a 62-60 lead.

4:11 Things stopped going the Lakers way as Portland pressed, with Wallace getting back-to-back hoops, then Gasol and Bryant both missing tip ins only to watch Matthews tip in his own miss. The momentum had clearly changed, the crowd off its feet as L.A. saw its first half lead turn into a 72-66 deficit.

0:00 It got worse from there, the Lakers still struggling to hit anything (5-for-20 in the quarter), with Portland converting at the other end to open a 10-point lead when Jamal Crawford pulled up from way, way deep for a quarter-concluding triple.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:10 After back-to-back jumpers from Ebanks (playing for Matt Barnes, a coaching decision), and Blake, Bryant checked in with a tough fadeaway over Wallace to cut the lead to seven. Portland, however, responded with a 6-0 run to open its biggest lead at 96-83. Killing the Lakers, as has been the case all season, was transition defense. Wallace was the most frequent beneficiary of sprinting out, including his run-capping layup.

3:39 Despite a Kobe free throw and Gasol tip in of his missed second effort, L.A. still trailed by 10 points as the clock became a major issue. Meanwhile, Jamal Crawford had outscored the LAL bench himself, with a jumper giving him 17 to L.A.’s 14.

0:00 Bryant and Gasol hit a few more tough shots, but the Lakers couldn’t get any closer than nine in the final minutes, thus dropping to 4-4 on the season after a ____ loss. They’ll be back at it on Friday evening at home for a rare road/home back-to-back against Golden State. We’ll see you there.

Bynum Set for Blazers

As the Lakers get set for what’s always a tricky road matchup in Portland, take a look at Andrew Bynum’s averages in three games since returning from suspension: 22.7 points, 17.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks on 62% FG’s.

With Portland always circling Lakers games on the home calendar, L.A. has managed to win only four of the last 20 contests in Rip City, including a 2-8 mark in the last 10, even as the Lakers ultimately advanced to three NBA Finals. They did manage a split last season, and could certainly use another dominant post performance from their 24-year-old center on Thursday if they’re to get off on the right foot in 2012.

Bynum credited his fast start to an increased number of touches he’s getting this season in Mike Brown’s system, but his production isn’t a surprise to teammates that have seen him dominate practices, especially since he came into the season fully healthy for the first time in years.

“We all know the amount of talent that he has, and he’s really worked on it,” said Kobe Bryant after Bynum’s first 20-20 effort in Tuesday’s win over Houston. “The thing that I like about him is that he has an engine inside of him and he wants to do well. He wants to dominate. He has ambition to be great. I think that’s the biggest positive about him aside from all of the physical attributes.”

Against a Blazers front line that is quite long if not wide, Bynum will again have a major advantage under the hoop. Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge get the majority of low post minutes, with Camby starting at center and Aldridge sliding inside once Camby goes to the bench, while veteran Kurt Thomas pitches in off the bench. Camby is listed at 235 pounds, Aldridge 240 and Thomas 230, compared to Bynum’s 285. That’s a significant difference.

Lakers head coach Mike Brown said he expects double-doubles on the regular from Bynum, and even if 20-20 is a bit much to ask for, Brown only expects Bynum to improve as he gets in better game shape.

“He was very productive in the thirty-eight minutes he played,” said Brown, who left his center in longer than any other Laker. “His conditioning is getting a little better and if he can ever get it to a point where it’s great…oh my gosh.”

Generally speaking, Brown has been very pleased with how focused and energetic his team has been at practice, but thinks they’ve been a bit sluggish in games, perhaps due to how much time they’ve spent in the practice gym. As such, Brown gave the team Wednesday off, save for the flight to the Pacific Northwest, hoping that his players will have more energy for Thursday’s tip.

Bynum actually struggled in two games against Portland last season, the Blazers going small to try and keep him off the floor, but Brown does not want to see Bynum play too many less or more minutes than 34.

We’ll see how it plays out starting at 7:30 p.m. on KCAL 9 and 710 ESPN radio.

Lakers 108, Rockets 99: Jan. 3 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest against Houston, the Lakers looking to bounce back from Sunday’s loss at Denver, 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
Rockets: K. Lowry, K. Martin, C. Budinger, L. Scola, J. Hill

FIRST QUARTER
8:44 We know that Kobe went 6-for-28 in Sunday’s loss at Denver, and spent the flight back breaking down the game film while sitting next to his coach, Mike Brown, on the team plane. At practice, Kobe said he’d keep on shooting, and he delivered on his promise early while making his first three attempts, the third of which was a pass off the backboard, to himself, for a pretty hoop (one of his favorite moves).

2:38 Before hitting two free throws to put the Lakers up 22-19, Kobe had missed five straight field goals and two free throws, reversing hit hot early trend. It was a bit of a listless contest to that point, with neither team playing particularly well, but L.A. closed the quarter strong — getting a corner three from Steve Blake — to take a 31-26 lead out of the period. Bynum was strong with eight points and seven boards.

SECOND QUARTER
6:37 Bryant hit a free throw line jumper after checking back into the line up to put the Lakers up 39-31, but L.A. promptly gave up jumpers to Scola and Martin, seeing their lead chopped in half. Bryant missed his next shot, making him 4-for-10, while Gasol had only taken three shots (making two) despite a mismatch with Luis Scola. Shot distribution is always an interesting topic for the Lakers, but Mike Brown made it clear that he’d ride with Bryant being aggressive.

0:00 The close to the half was an interesting one for both teams, as Rockets coach Kevin McHale almost dared L.A. to pound the ball inside by having Scola an Chandler Parsons guarding Bynum and Gasol, but Bryant missed consecutive jumpers and Houston scored on the other end. L.A. finally got smart, force-feeding Gasol and Bynum (12 points, 14 rebounds) on back-to-back trips down, and Kobe hit a triple to give him a game-high 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting. The 7-0 run had L.A. up 50-46 at the break.

THIRD QUARTER
6:00 Moments after a rare easy transition basket from L.A. (Barnes streaking out ahead of HOU’s D after Bynum’s 17th rebound), Bryant drew the third foul on Martin … in the six minutes of the quarter. Out of a time out, Budinger was back on Kobe.

0:47.5 Bryant found his touch in the third, making 5-of-6 shots in the third, plus two free throws, to reach a game-high 28 points, though Houston trimmed three points off LAL’s halftime lead to get within 76-75. Scola was an efficient 10-for-15 towards his 20 points, while Budinger

FOURTH QUARTER
10:38 Back to Bynum early in the fourth, as his 18th board preceded 1-of-2 free throws, before backup PG’s Dragic and Blake exchanged three pointers. Blake then continued his second straight solid game off the bench by getting a pull-up jumper to drop, moving him up to 11 points on 4-of-6 FG’s, plus two boards and two assists, L.A. pulling to an 87-81 lead in the process.

4:40 A big momentum changer, at least potentially: with L.A. up 10, Gasol thought he drew a foul as Scola flopped, and hit the basket for an and-1 … but the foul went on him instead, and when Lowry pulled up for a three, we had a six-point swing. Dalembert then converted an and-1 in transition, turning that potential 13-point lead into just five points.

2:29 Kobe, however, was having none of it, hitting a baseline jumper, then adding a tough hoop off glass from the left block to get to 34 points. He’d found his touch in the second half, making eight of his 11 attempts, plus eight boards and six dimes. Bynum, meanwhile, recorded his second career 20-rebound game (21), and was three points away from his first 20-20 effort.

0:00 Sure enough, Bynum got his 20-20, leaking out for a breakaway slam off Barnes’ feed, to finish with 21 points and 22 boards. Despite some late triples from Lowry, L.A. also finished off Houston, emerging with a 108-99 win, their first 100-point scoring night of the season. That’s four wins in five games for L.A., who head to Portland tomorrow afternoon in advance of a Thursday road game.

Kobe Youngest to 28,000

Early in the third quarter of L.A.’s Sunday loss at Denver, Kobe Bryant hit the first of two free throws, seemingly insignificant … unless you consider the fact that it put his career scoring total at 28,000 points.

In the entire history of the NBA, only five other players managed to reach that milestone, and none was younger than Bryant’s 33 years and 132 days.

The Hall of Fame scorers Bryant is now among in the 28,000 club include three dominant centers (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal), one power forward (Karl Malone) and one guard (Michael Jordan). Not bad company, there, for No. 24, amongst four former Lakers and the player after whom he patterned so much of his game.

Chamberlain was the fastest to get to 28K, doing so in 825 games, followed by Jordan (886), Abdul-Jabbar (1,008), Malone (1,070) and Shaq (1,154).

As far as the all-time scoring chart goes, Bryant is currently on pace to surpass O’Neal somewhere close to the 30th game of the season, to break into the top five.

Lakers 90, Nuggets 99: Jan. 1 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening road contest at Denver, the Lakers looking to win a fourth straight game, 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
Nuggets: T. Lawson, A. Afflalo, D. Gallinari, Nene, T. Mozgov

FIRST QUARTER
12:00 Our early eye was trained to how L.A. got up and down the floor, as the famed altitude usually affects players in the first quarter more than anything, but one player it didn’t seem to bug too much was Bynum, fresh off his 29-point, 13-board debut. He scored six of L.A.’s first 14 points despite missing four free throws, his team up five points after two Gasol free throws gave him six points as well.

2:25 “Turnovers will keep Denver in this game,” said Mike Brown from his huddle, reflecting on L.A. committing six in the first 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Kobe was 0-for-4, the team had missed five foul shots and Bynum was on the bench with two personals. Denver took advantage to take a 26-21 lead into the second quarter.

SECOND QUARTER
6:39 That L.A. was down only 31-29 despite eight turnovers and early foul trouble for Bryant and Bynum was a good sign for the Lakers, who got four straight points from Metta World Peace resulting off low-post opportunities, where he’s been (by far) at his most effective this season.

2:26 A poor stretch on both ends of the floor resulted in an 8-0 Nuggets spurt, L.A. missing jumpers badly (Kobe 1-for-10) and putting the Nuggets on the foul line at the other end. The result: 47-36 Denver at the half, a truly terrible offensive half for the road team, who at least had 24 minutes to reverse the trend.

THIRD QUARTER
9:59 L.A. began to try and sneak their way back into the game through early buckets by Barnes and Gasol, cutting the lead to eight before a Barnes technical (he wanted a foul called) made it 50-41 Nuggs. At the break, assistant Quin Snyder told me it wasn’t so much about turnovers, defense, shot selection or anything specific, but just general effort that L.A. needed to rely upon.

10:00 Anybody want 28,000 career points? At the foul line, Bryant became just the sixth player in NBA history to reach that milestone, the only guard not named Michael Jordan on the list. Let’s pause for reflection. Now, back in Denver, Bryant was struggling like mad from the field, making only two of his first 15 attempts, but his intensity picked up, and so did that of his teammates, allowing a big run to tie the game at 50 after L.A. had trailed by 11 at the break.

0:00 A terrific overall quarter saw L.A. outscore Denver 35-25 to turn an 11-point halftime deficit into just one into the fourth, this despite Kobe’s 3-for-18 from the field. Steve Blake keyed a late Lakers run, pulling up from three to nail his first triple, and fourth shot in five attempts, for nine points off the pine.

FOURTH QUARTER
7:15 Finally getting one to go was Kobe, putting L.A. up four points on top of a corner jumper from Blake (designed out of a time out by assistant coach and great offensive mind John Kuester), giving L.A.’s backup PG 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The bench was key here, giving L.A. 30 points to Denver’s 36 a game after the Nuggets reserves outscored L.A. 39-16.

3:08 Bryant’s 20-foot jumper was just his fifth hit in 23 attempts, but Denver countered with a quick 3-0 run to tie the game. Gallinari, attacking the rim to try and end his perimeter shooting slump, then traded buckets with Kobe to tie the game at 90.

0:00 L.A. sure picked a bad time to concede a 10-0 run, but after taking that 90-88 lead, they bricked everything, with Denver converting each time at the other end. Bryant missed three more field goals, the most he’s ever missed in a game according to KCAL 9′s Bill Macdonald (6-for-28), World Peace missed a three and Bynum missed a put-back, while four different Nuggets scored on the other end. As such, L.A.’s three-game winning streak would be snapped.

Your final: 99-90 Denver. We’ll see you back in Los Angeles for a Tuesday tilt against Houston.