Monthly Archive for February, 2012

Kobe Bryant Post(Mask)game Quotes

Here’s a summary of Kobe Bryant’s postgame media session following his 31-point, 8-assist, 7-rebound game while wearing a mask to cover the broken nose he suffered, along with a concussion, at Sunday’s All-Star game:

On the last few days:
Bryant: It’s been an experience. I’ve never had (a concussion) before. I understand the severity of the situation. You have to go through those steps. It required me driving around a little bit, but I had to get it done.

On if he’s upset about getting hurt at an All-Star game:
Bryant: It happens. You just have to deal with it and try to heal as quickly as you possibly can.

On playing with the #KobeMask:
Bryant: It was fine. You start sweating immediately inside it. I felt like I had a sauna on my face, like I was drinking my own sweat.” Bryant added that he didn’t take the mask off because his broken nose remains too tender.

On if there’s anything he won’t play through:
Bryant: Don’t jinx me, man.

On how he feels now:
Bryant: I’m fine. I have no headaches. Everything is kind of in the neck … (it) feels like a constant throbbing at the base of my head where the neck is. I didn’t know if it was a concussion or not, I have never had one before.

On the team’s decisive win:
Bryant: We looked really sharp, played with a lot of aggression and energy.

On Dwyane Wade, who fouled him from behind causing the injury:
Bryant: I’ve known Dwyane for years … it’s always entertaining for me to have people talk about our relationship as if they know what’s going on. It was very simple – he didn’t mean to do it, he’s not that type of person. We’ve been close friends for a long time. Me, him and (Carmelo Anthony). He’s a nicer guy than I am, to be honest with you, but since 2007, the Olympic team, we became close.

On if his teammates gave him any nicknames regarding the mask:
Bryant: I wasn’t really in a good mood, so everyone just sort of stayed away from me.

On if Bryant could tell something was wrong when he initially hurt himself in the game:
Bryant: Things just seemed a little weird.

- Bryant added that he played about 14 minutes AFTER being concussed in the All-Star game for this reason: “I was curious.”

- Bryant explained that it’s difficult having a concussion, because you’re at the mercy of passing a test given the NBA policy. It’s not something you can tough out or choose to play through: “you’re pretty helpless, you just have to be patient and hope for the best.” Bryant said he was simply thinking positively, that when he woke up, he’d feel better and be able to play.

- I asked him if he was aware of the impact he can have on his teammates by playing through injuries, even if he’s self-motivated to do so regardless. His answer: “The message that it carries with it is that ‘I’m not going to back down,’ (that) type of attitude. If you’re capable of playing, you should be out there and you should play. I think that’s the kind of competitive edge that I want my guys to play with.”

- Finally, here’s what Mike Brown had to say about Kobe: “Kobe’s a special human being. I don’t have answers for him, I don’t know what he’s made of. He just thinks different, his body reacts different. It could inspire his teammates — he played a very good basketball game for us.”

Lakers 104, Wolves 85: Feb. 29 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening home contest against Minnesota, the Lakers looking for a 17th consecutive victory over the Wolves, 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, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Wolves: R. Rubio, L. Ridnour, W. Johnson, D. Williams*, N. Pekovic
*Kevin Love, it was announced pregame, was out due to flu-like symptoms.

FIRST QUARTER
6:31 So much for that broken nose and concussion, how Kobe? Instead o
f appearing affected by what he suffered after getting smacked by Dwyane Wade in Sunday’s All-Star game, Bryant came out (while wearing a protective mask that looked kind of fierce) aggressively hitting 3-of-5 shots with two boards and an assist to lead L.A. to a 13-6 start.

2:49 Did we mention that Kobe loves playing hurt? The mask didn’t stop him from a pretty baseline up-and-under move, or a subsequent steal and transition one-handed hammer dunk to reach 10 points and put L.A. up 24-11.

0:00 After building a 15-point lead, the Lakers conceded a 7-0 run to close the quarter, capped by a corner three from No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams (who had 27 points off the bench in Minny’s win over the Clippers last night, as did fellow bencher Michael Beasley) thanks to J.J. Barea’s dish. The Wolves second group has been terrific of late, as they showed pretty quickly in a quarter previously dominated by Bryant’s energy.

SECOND QUARTER
7:45 Reflecting what he’s been working out all season in practice, Andrew Goudelock brought out a crossover into a floater to snap a 5-0 Wolves run, putting L.A. up 36-29. On the floor for Minny’s second unit were four top 6 picks, while L.A. had just Bynum (No. 10) and Murphy (No. 14) in the later lottery.

0:00 The Lakers largely controlled the second quarter as they had the first, but had a terrible final minute to allow Minny to creep within six points at the half, 50-44, thanks to four quick points off two straight Bryant turnovers. First an errant pass to Gasol (Ridnour FT’s on other end after World Peace fouled hi) and then tripping near L.A.’s bench (Ridnour layup). Still, L.A. shot 54 percent and had 17 assists on 22 field goals, the ball moving well.

THIRD QUARTER
9:44 A strong start to the second half quickly saw L.A.’s lead grow to 15 at 59-44 (9-0 run), capped by a World Peace and-1 layup that obviously had him kissing his bicep (plus a toss of the ball to a courtside fan for good measure). And radio PXP voice John Ireland tweeted this amazing picture of Pekovic, a full on replica of Non from Superman 2.

6:54 Gasol turned his second swat of a Wolves’ three-pointer into his second fast break hoop, this time a dunk, to put L.A. up 63-50. Bryant was starting to flirt with a triple-double in the process, with hi 14 points, seven dimes and five boards. The Spaniard then converted a tough and-1, and two minutes later L.A. found itself up 74-56.

0:00 A very strong third quarter (33-15 Lakers) blew the game wide open, L.A. taking an 83-59 lead into the final period. #KobeMask finished the quarter with 24 points, seven boards and seven assists, while Gasol got up to 15 points, four boards, four assists and three blocks, much of that production coming in the third.

FOURTH QUARTER
6:30 A 9-0 run from Minnesota’s bench, again playing well, was enough for Brown to yank his own bench and return Bryant and Gasol (who’d seemingly been done for the night) back into the game. Bryant promptly scored on the first two possessions, the lead back to 21 (though it had only been cut to 19).

2:46 The lead pushed back to 24 as Kobe reached 31 points, seven in the three-plus minute stretch, he finally sat for the night having played 33 minutes through his mask. This was a game fully dominated by the Lakers, and specifically Bryant’s energy, inspiring some extra effort by – as always – playing through pain.

0:00 Final: Lakers 104, Wolves 85. This was the 17th consecutive Lakers victory over Minnesota. Up next is Friday’s contest against Sacramento.

Lakers – Wolves Podcast Preview

The Lakers have won 16 consecutive games against Minnesota, dating back to 2007, but the current Rick Adelman-coached squad is easily the best team the Wolves have had since Kevin Garnett roamed around Minneapolis.

Minnesota (18-17) has already won more games than it did in the full 2010-11 season (17-65), and this season has beaten the Clippers, Mavericks and Rockets on the road … even if they again lost to L.A. 106-101 at home on Jan. 29. To preview Wednesday evening’s game at Staples Center – in which it now appears Kobe Bryant may play – we dialed up Wolves color analyst Jim Petersen.

Click below to listen:

Kobe Bryant Symptom Free

Kobe Bryant, who suffered a broken nose and concussion at Sunday’s All-Star game, has been “symptom free” since last afternoon, according to Lakers spokesman John Black.

Bryant saw neurologist Dr. Williams this morning and passed the neurological exam, and according to Black, is “doing great so far.”

It’s an NBA requirement to be symptom free for 24 hours ahead of a game in order for a player with a concussion to play, a policy new this season. Bryant also passed three further tests, one on a bicycle, one on a treadmill and what’s known as an Axon test – a baseline test for cognitive function – on Wednesday. Another portion of the test comes on the basketball court, in which Bryant played 2-on-2 subsequent to Black’s address to the media.

Provided that hoops test went well, and Bryant passes the pregame neurological exam, he will indeed play against Minnesota.

By the way: the Lakers do have a mask that Bryant may wear as protection for his broken nose.

UPDATE: BRYANT PASSED HIS FINAL NEUROLOGICAL EXAM AND WAS CLEARED TO PLAY.

Kobe Bryant Injury Update

Kobe Bryant went to see ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. John Rehm on Tuesday after suffering a broken nose at Sunday’s All-Star game, and because Bryant is experiencing further symptoms, Dr. Rehm recommended an MRI and that Bryant see a neurologist.

Bryant, who did not practice with the team on Tuesday, is expected to see the neurologist and undergo the exam this afternoon; the Lakers will provide an update as soon as one becomes available.

Lakers Schedule Softens

The first half of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season went by so fast, it was a task just to keep track of what city the Lakers (20-14) were going to be in on a given night, let alone how that particular opponent was playing.

But with a bit of reflection, we see that the Lakers played perhaps the NBA’s most difficult road schedule, and one that was more challenging than most at home:

Opposing Team Record for Home Games: 285-280 (50.4 percent)
Opposing Team Record for Road Games: 304-266 (53.3 percent)

A 53.3 win percentage for road opponents is strong considering the slow starts of teams like Boston (15-17), New York (17-18), Portland (18-16)* and Denver (18-17). All of those squads play the Lakers particularly tough at home, but L.A. escaped that foursome at 2-3 (two games at Denver). Meanwhile, the best Eastern team the Lakers will travel towards is struggling Detroit (11-24), having already checked off Miami, Orlando and Philly and having Chicago, Atlanta and Indiana left off this season’s road campaign.
*If L.A. played a team with close to a 53.3 percent record every night, Portland at 18-16 (.529) is the closest.

Some tough road games remain, namely: San Antonio (twice); Memphis; Houston; Dallas and the Clippers. But L.A. won’t complain about not returning to Portland, Denver, Utah or Oklahoma City.

Here’s what the second half opponents look like for Mike Brown and Co.:

Post Break Opposing Team Record for Home Games: 307-263 (53.9 percent)
Post Break Opposing Team Record for Road Games: 230-266 (46.4 percent)

L.A.’s coming road games are by far the easiest by opponent win percentage of any of the four sets, while the home schedule is the most difficult, narrowly edging out the road schedule from the first half. L.A., however, has been excellent at home, going 14-2, the only losses (Chicago, Indiana) coming in games the Lakers controlled until the final seconds.

Furthermore: 17 of 32 games are at home; four of 15 road games are in California, four are in Texas and only two come against the East (@DET, @WAS, 3/6 & 3/7).

On the other hand, the Clippers (20-11) – whom L.A. trails by 1.5 games in the Pacific Division, key for playoff seeding – have among the league’s most difficult second stanzas. According to ESPNLA.com’s Arash Markazi, the Clips start March with six road games in nine days, and play 20 games in the 31 days. They also finish the season with nine of their 14 games in April on the road, while the Lakers play only 17 games in March and are at an even 7-7 home/road split in April.

Having weaker opponents by record, of course, guarantees the Lakers nothing. That’s why they play the games, as they say.

Bynum Ready to Play Wednesday

After receiving a routine Synvisc injection in his right knee as part of normal and continuing treatment to maintain the knee’s health on Friday, Andrew Bynum did not participate in Saturday’s Western Conference All-Star practice, and played only 5:31 in the first quarter of Sunday’s All-Star game.

“It was planned this way,” Bynum told the Orange County Register’s Janis Carr. “I decided to play just a little bit to experience it … If I waited to do it (rest) Monday, (the knee) would have been an issue.”

Bynum did manage three rebounds, a steal, an assist and a block with his 0-for-3 FG’s in the five minutes he played, but was more concerned about being healthy for Wednesday’s Lakers game against Minnesota at Staples Center.

Kobe Breaks His Nose … then MJ’s Record

CLICK HERE TO GET THE WALLPAPER.

Kobe Bryant was as red hot as his Western Conference uniform to start the All-Star game, making six of his first seven shots (including two three-pointers), and when his two-handed slam went through the rim with 4:56 left in the third quarter he had surpassed Michael Jordan’s all-time record for points in the game of stars.

And oh, by the way, he did so with a broken nose for most of the second half.

The physicality started to increase early in the third quarter, with Bryant stealing the ball from East/Heat guard Dwyane Wade with 10:27 left, resulting in an alley-oop dunk for the West on the other end. About two minutes later, with 8:48 on the clock, Bryant spun around Wade to the baseline, creating a clear path to the hoop. Wade turned to swing both arms in No. 24′s direction, catching Bryant directly in the nose with his right arm. A 30-second official’s time out was called on the court to stop the bleeding.

TO VIEW 61 PHOTOS OF BRYANT & BYNUM AT THE ALL-STAR GAME, CLICK HERE.

Wade told reporters that he tried to take a foul but obviously not draw blood, and that Kobe had fouled him on two previous plays.

We wouldn’t learn that Bryant’s nose was broken until just after 10:30 Pacific time, 1:30 a.m. in Orlando, when physicians who treated Bryant communicated back to Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti and VP of Public Relations John Black, who subsequently informed Lakers.com.

Yet, as soon as the blood stopped running, Bryant hit both free throws to reach 18 points in the game, matching Jordan’s record of 262 All-Star points. Without saying a word to Thunder/All-Star coach Scott Brooks about coming out, Bryant continued to play through pain as he always does. About four minutes after the blow to his nose, he sprinted out in transition after Kevin Durant stole the ball from LeBron James, caught Durant’s pass with Wade a step behind him, got to the rim in one dribble, took off and passed Jordan before his feet touched the ground.

Bryant added two more free throws and a layup before the third quarter ended to reach 24 points, having made eight of his 13 shots (61.5 percent). He’d finish with 1-of-4 makes in the fourth quarter plus 1-of-2 free throws in the final minute to finish at 9-of-17 (52.9 percent), good for 27 points. The league’s leading scorer in the first half of the season (28.4 points per game) mixed in a typical motley crew of buckets, including a 17-foot pull up, a 19-foot fadeaway, some layups, turnaround jumpers, dunks and 7-of-8 free throws, in the process making the all-time scoring list look like this:

271 – Kobe Bryant
262 – Michael Jordan
251 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
246 – Oscar Robertson

Bryant’s legs looked rather fresh after three days rest from four Lakers games in five nights before the break, and he’ll get two more to rest from the 35 minutes he played – second only to Durant’s 37 – before L.A.’s Wednesday evening game vs. Minnesota.

No. 24 returned to Los Angeles on Monday to get his nose re-evaluated by ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. John Rehm; perhaps the nose hurts just a little bit less now that he’s the most prolific scorer in the history of an All-Star game he’d been apart of since 1997-98, his second season in the NBA.

Fisher Reflects on Season’s First Half

The Lakers closed out the first half of the season with five victories in seven games to improve to 20-14 despite Thursday’s loss at Oklahoma City, when L.A., playing its fourth game in five nights, appeared to run out of gas in the second half.

Afterwards, Derek Fisher reflected upon the first half of the season, discussed what the Lakers need to improve upon into the second half, explained the reasons he is optimistic about L.A.’s prospects and more:

On what the Lakers need to improve upon in the second half:
Fisher: How we can continue to make everyone better on our team. I think we’ve done a decent job at times, but right now, essentially Kobe (Bryant), Andrew (Bynum) and Pau (Gasol) are having to score (60)-plus points and everyone is pitching in here or there. I think if we can improve in our execution, ball movement and player movement where we can actually utilize the full capabilities of all the guys on our team, and put teams in a position where they have to defend everybody, I think we can put ourselves in a better (position). We’re asking those three guys to do too much when we just run a play to get them the ball so they can go 1-on-1 and hope that the other team comes and helps, and then you kick it out to somebody. We have to put them in better positions to be effective offensively by getting them the ball after we’ve moved the defense a certain way.

On his general reflections* about the first half of the season:
Fisher: Our record is obviously not something we’re accustomed to or comfortable with at the All-Star break, but I think we’re playing better basketball than what our record says, even if you are what your record says you are. I think we’ve had very few games, even with 14 losses, where we haven’t had a chance to win. The Phoenix game a few nights ago was one of those nights, tonight we weren’t close enough to really compete down the stretch, but by and large, we’ve been there. Our margin for error is small right now because we’re still offensively searching for better ways to be the most efficient team we can be. But we’re getting there. We can’t rest on that, but I think we’re feeling more comfortable with who we are and the identity of who this team is going to be this year. Although we’ve dropped some road games recently, we’ve improved on the road compared to our start and we’re going to be closer to who we need to be as this season goes on.
*Mike Brown also weighed in: “We’re not going to be the No. 1 defensive team and the No. 1 offensive team in the league after being together in a shortened season in a month and a half or two months,” he said after the OKC game. “Anybody that thinks that really doesn’t know what they’re thinking. It’s going to take some time. So with all the stuff that went on, the shortened season and so on and so forth, I’m OK with the progress that we’re making, because I feel like we still have room to grow.”

On being encouraged about where the team is after the shortened training camp, the new coaching staff and system and so on:
Fisher: Yeah. Obviously things could change with the trade deadline looming, personnel could change if that’s what ownership or management decides, but if this is our team, I think we’re getting a better feel for who we are and what we’re capable of doing. I think our coaches are continuing to feel us out and continuing to do a better job of putting us in a position to be successful, and we’re getting there. It’s frustrating, but at the same time, to be in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference (No. 5 seed) when we’ve had to adjust on the fly in terms of who we are with new coaches and new players, an entirely new way of playing basketball with a core that’s pretty much the same was tough early, but we’re settling in.

On looking around the West to see that few other teams are running away with anything, with the possible exception of Oklahoma City (seven losses):
Fisher: We’re not overly concerned with how everyone else is doing, but obviously when you look around the league and you look at standings, you’re trying to measure where you are as a team, we realize that we’re a middle of the pack kind of team, but we feel like we have the opportunity to improve. We have the pieces necessary to compete in this league, and compete against the best teams out there, and we’re going to remain confident in that. That’s not going to change. We’re going to continue to push to maximize what we’re capable of doing.

On getting a majority of the team’s toughest road games out of the way in the first half of the season:
Fisher: I was definitely conscious of teams that we have played on the road; it’s not like we’ve gone anywhere where winning games are easy. As always, in the Western Conference, there might be two nights or three where you are outmatched or you can outmatch your opponent just showing up. There aren’t a lot of teams out there where you can do that in the West, so we’ve done some good things, we’ve competed well, but we obviously want to do a better job in the second half of the season of turning competing well into more wins, in particular on the road.

Bynum to get Routine Knee Injection

On Friday afternoon in Port St. Lucie Fla., Andrew Bynum will meet with his personal doctor, Dr. David Altchek, to receive a Synvisc injection on his right knee as part of normal and continuing treatment to maintain the knee’s health.

The injection is intended to serve as a lubricant for the knee, providing Bynum with extended relief on an area he said he will protect with a bulky brace for the duration of his career.

After Thursday night’s Lakers loss at Oklahoma City, Bynum boarded a plane along with Kobe Bryant bound for Orlando to take part in his first All-Star game, to which he was elected by fans as a starter. Bynum is scheduled to fulfill his media and charity commitments on Friday, and subsequently go to meet Altchek for the injection.

Bynum will not participate in Saturday’s Western Conference practice run by Thunder coach Scott Brooks, but he is expected to be fine to play in Sunday’s All Star game.

Bynum came into the season the healthiest he’s been in recent years, and has played the best basketball of his career towards averages of 16.3 points and 12.7 rebounds in 34.6 minutes, all career highs, plus 2.0 blocks per game (ranking seventh in the league) on 54.4 percent shooting (ranking fourth). His 21 double-doubles in 30 games ties him with teammate Pau Gasol, trailing only Dwight Howard (27) and Kevin Love (30).

Bynum made only 5-of-15 shots against the Thunder in the team’s fourth game in five nights, but did lead L.A. with 12 boards and two blocks.