Monthly Archive for May, 2012

Page 4 of 6

LAL 90, OKC 119: Game 1 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening Game 1 2nd Round playoff game at Oklahoma City, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Sessions, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
OKC: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, K. Perkins

10:39 Making the first two plays through a Thunderous OKC crowd screaming at everything was World Peace, booed upon his every touch, as he first rose to hit a triple and then nicely found Bynum for a dunk that put LAL up 5-4. The initial “Beat L.A.” chant was louder than most arenas get in overtime games.

5:59 Bynum was fully engaged, starting in excellent fashion on offense, making all three of his shots plus two free throws for eight early points. That put L.A. up 18-16 despite eight from Westbrook on the other end (three pull-up jumpers, 2 FT’s).

3:04 A problem LAL worried about prior to the series arose quickly, as Durant, Westbrook and Harden all drew calls while driving to the rim. Bryant was so mad that Mike Brown called time out to settle the troops (there had also been an obviously deflection off Harden that the ref didn’t see and gave to OKC, which really got to Kobe). After Harden’s and-1, the lead was 25-19, the crowd continuing to go nuts. Three minutes later, the lead was 30-23, as Daequan Cook hit a last-second baseline J to counter Kobe’s first field goal. OKC shot 50% to LAL’s 44.4%, and took advantage of five LAL turnovers.

8:39 While the Lakers got two tip ins from Gasol, a la Game 7 vs. Denver (11 offensive boards, an absurd number of tip ins), OKC was scoring despite having four non-scorers alongside James Harden. Cook hit a three (he’s more of a shooter than a scorer), Nick Collison a driving dunk and Nazr Mohammad a put-back of Harden’s miss to put the Thunder up 37-28.

6:34 The hole was suddenly much bigger, with LAL missing shots and turning the ball over, a 9-2 OKC run producing a 44-31 lead, thanks mostly to Harden, who converted an and-1 and stole Gasol’s pass to Kobe on the perimeter before coasting easily for a dunk. It was the seventh Lakers turnover, to just one for OKC. LAL did stop the momentum moments later when Scott Brooks put out a small ball line up with Durant at the 4, with both Sessions and World Peace scoring at the rim to cut the lead to 50-42.

0:00 Bynum’s leaner was the only LAL field goal in the final three minutes, the Thunder taking advantage on the other end to close the quarter on a 9-2 run that opened a 59-44 lead at the half. The Lakers had eight turnovers to OKC’s one, and struggled to get good looks on offense. OKC had nine days to prep for the Lakers (whom it seemed most likely they’d play after LAL opened a 3-1 lead on Denver), and they seem to have found a good game plan.

10:41 Already down 15, the third started like this: Durant pull-up J (good); Bryant long 2 (miss); Westbrook alley-oop dunk; Sessions missed J; Durant pull-up 3 (good). The result, a 66-44 lead before the Lakers could blink. OKC had been chomping at the bit since sweeping the Mavs back on May 5, LAL needing until May 12 to finish Denver off in Round 1, and the Lakers certainly looked to be tired while OKC sprinted up and down.

5:30 With OKC scoring so easily, hitting everything they threw up as L.A. struggled to pressure the ball, the lead soon ballooned to 31 at 83-52, the main question starting to become how long Mike Brown would play his starters. One of them, Bynum, had a quiet 20-point, 14-rebound double-double despite the scoreline.

0:00 With the Thunder making 12 of 15 FG’s in the third before two late misses, hanging around 60 percent from the field plus 21 of 25 free throw makes (all but one from Durant, Westbrook and Harden), the margin was 30 after three. Matt Barnes did hit two three-pointers to snap a cold streak from the first round, and Bryant reached 20 points by taking 18 shots, but this one had long been decided.

10:00 Brown decided to keep Gasol and World Peace in the game, a baseline J getting Gasol to just eight points with his seven boards, while Sessions returned for World Peace two minutes in. OKC had its entire second group out, led by Harden, whose nine free throws helped him to 17 bench points, keeping the lead at 30.

6:00 Starters minutes: Kobe (32); Bynum (31); Gasol (30); MWP (32); Sessions (26). That’s all for this line (lead stayed in the 20′s).

1:00 Devin Ebanks, just in for the final few minutes, got ejected seemingly for a shove, and took his jersey off while exiting the building. Rookies Morris and Goudelock did hit three-pointers in the final two minutes, but the game ended on a Derek Fisher three in the final minute, the margin mercifully closing at 119-90. Game 2 is on Wednesday.

2012 Playoff Podcast No. 4: Kevin Ding

L.A.’s reward for a tough 7-game Round 1 series with Denver is a young, fresh, talented Oklahoma City squad that’s been resting for nine days after sweeping Dallas 4-0 … but could that actually help the Lakers steal Game 1?

Orange County Register beat writer and columnist Kevin Ding joined us to break down the entire series, from specific matchups to general areas of importance.

We touched on the importance of Andrew Bynum’s constant defensive energy (can he bring it?), Pau Gasol’s All-Star level play in Game 7 (can he sustain it?), Kobe Bryant’s impact (count on it), the point guard situation (Sessions/Blake vs. Westbrook), Ding’s favorite thing about Oklahoma City (clouds) and more.

You can listen by clicking below:

LAL – DEN: Game 7 Postgame #’s

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s dramatic 96-87 Game 7 victory over Denver that sends them into the second round to face Oklahoma City:

Field goal made by Danilo Gallinari, with Metta World Peace attached to his hip all game, on nine attempts. Gallo had four turnovers, World Peace causing them all. After the game, Mike Brown called the defensive effort by MWP (who also saw time on Andre Miller, who was 1 of 10) “absolutely freaking amazing” and “monstrous,” both on and off the ball. Very impressive effort from MWP, coming off his 7-game suspension.

Consecutive three-pointers drained by Steve Blake, including three in the first half and a big corner triple with 5:51 left in the game to put the Lakers up five. He finished the game with 19 huge points, his personal playoff career high, and repeatedly came up big throughout the night: “I can’t lie, it feels great,” he said afterwards. “It’s a good feeling to make shots and help your team win.”

Assists for Kobe Bryant, who deferred to get teammates wide open shots when Denver double teams came, especially in the fourth quarter. He had several of the passes on the nine total threes that World Peace and Blake hit in the contest, but still nailed the ultimate dagger triple himself, his only make of the fourth quarter (two attempts) with 48.3 seconds to play.

Offensive rebounds from Pau Gasol, so key to the ultimate result, many of which helped him on his way towards a team-high 23 points. The Spaniard added six assists and four blocks in an entirely terrific all-around game, particularly after his struggles in a 3-point, 3-rebound performance in Game 6. That’s the All-Star Lakers fans had come to know. “We were more aggressive, we pounded the boards hard

Blocks for the Lakers, who had 15 in the Game 1 victory. Bynum led the way with six, while Gasol had four, World Peace two, Kobe and Blake one each.

Combined rebounds for Gasol (17) and Bynum (18), rendering this comment from George Karl: “Power won over pace … size won over speed.” Said Gasol: “Andrew and I attacked the boards all game – I think that’s what helped us win the game.”

Denver’s shooting percentage in the game. The Lakers were terrific on defense throughout, with Denver closer to 30 percent aside from a slew of transition hoops in the third quarter.

Round 2 Schedule

Game 1 – Mon May 14 Lakers at Oklahoma City 6:30PM TNT
Game 2 – Wed May 16 Lakers at Oklahoma City 6:30PM TNT
Game 3 – Fri May 18 Oklahoma City at Lakers 7:30PM ESPN
Game 4 – Sat May 19 Oklahoma City at Lakers 7:30PM TNT

Game 5 * Mon May 21 Lakers at Oklahoma City TBD TNT
Game 6 * Wed May 23 Oklahoma City at Lakers TBD ESPN
Game 7 * Sun May 27 Lakers at Oklahoma City TBD TNT

* – if necessary
(All Times Pacific)

LAL 96, DEN 87: Game 7 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Saturday evening home playoff game against Denver, with absolutely all the marbles on the line in Game 7, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Sessions, Bryant, World Peace*, Gasol and Bynum
Denver: T. Lawson, A. Afflalo, D. Gallinari, K. Faried, T. Mozgov
*Metta was starting for the first time since an April 22 contest vs. OKC, after which he was suspended for seven games due to an elbow on James Harden.

12:00 Well, folks, here we are. Game 7. Is there anything better? The story lines are plentiful, from the return of Metta World Peace to both Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant asking Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol for more than they offered in the previous two games in particular. But more than anything else, Game 7 is a street fight, a battle, a war of attrition in which the importance of each possession is magnified so far beyond anything you get in even another playoff game. Who’s ready*?
*You know Kobe is.

4:11 It was indeed a great start from Gasol in particular (and solid one from Bynum as well), the Spaniard hitting 3 of 4 shots for six points and grabbing three boards (plus two assists), matching his board total and doubling his point total in Game 6. However, the Nuggets started out hot from the field despite having to take several tough shots, including three floaters, to take a 19-18 lead into the first time out.

1:43 Steve Blake, who as you recall hit the big dagger three in LAL’s last win in this series (Game 4), came in and provided an immediate spark by hitting a contested, end-of-clock triple, then gathering a steal before feeding Bryant for a transition layup to cap a 7-0 run that produced a 25-22 lead. Blake, a real tough-minded, feisty guy, has the right personality for a winner-take-all Game 7. The lead was cut to one at the break, but another key – aside from Gasol’s energetic start – was Bynum’s defensive presence. He blocked three shots, on pace for 12, after his 10-block Game 1 was so critical.

9:13 Despite cooling from the field (hitting 4 of 13 after starting 9 of 12), Denver continued to trail by just a point as Harrington hit an open three (Jordan Hill making a defensive mistake in not staying with him) to reach eight bench points, but Blake countered with two jumpers on the other end, including his second triple, to match Harrington’s output and make it 30-29.

6:23 To reiterate a first quarter note, you like having Blake in tight games because of his toughness. He’s not scared of anything, and showed it by draining his third triple, an open one from the corner thanks to Kobe’s feed, to cap an 8-0 run that put LAL up 38-31. Gasol had the other five points to reach 11, plus three boards and three assists.

0:00 The Spaniard was the story in the first half, capping a fantastic individual effort with a tip in of Bynum’s miss, reaching 13 points, seven boards and five assists to lead L.A. to a 48-42 lead. Denver managed to stick around by hitting some tough shots and hanging tough despite strong pressure D from the Lakers, who were playing the game very much at their pace. Strong overall half.

8:53 The biggest lead of the game to this point came as Metta World Peace drained a wide-open 3 created by Bryant (five assists), and Gasol hit a jumper to push the lead to 13. Moments later, World Peace connected on another triple (he was only 1 for 5 from three before going back-to-back) and Bryant followed with a tough left-handed finger roll to make it a 16-point margin at 60-46. The crowd was going nuts at this point, and MWP making Denver’s over-helping defense pay deeply. Meanwhile, Denver had managed only 10 of 40 field goals since starting 9 for 12 (38% overall).

4:08 Give the Nuggets credit for battling, as they have all series, a 6-0 Ty Lawson run (including back-to-back layups) cutting the lead back to nine, forcing L.A.’s time out. Bynum had been terrific contesting everything up to that point (both buckets coming in transition), but he was missing his shots at the other end, including a bunny in the paint that dropped him to 3 for 11. Nonetheless, LAL had to love that he wasn’t letting his struggles on O affecting his defense, which can happen to the 7-footer (and really many players) at times.

0:52.0 It seemed a long time ago that LAL was rolling easily up 16 points, when two Harrington free throws capped a big Nuggets run to tie the game at 68. Lawson was the trigger man, scoring 13 of his 24 points, while Bryant inexplicably missed 3 of 4 free throws (LAL 6 of 13 in the game), the one make getting us to 69-68 heading into the final quarter.

10:39 Five straight points from Harrington to start the fourth had the Nuggets suddenly up four, but World Peace countered with a huge three, his fourth of the game in nine attempts (starting 1 for 5), to get a quieted crowd back involved. The Nuggets had made nine of their last 11 shots.

6:51 Gasol literally tipped the ball four times at the rim before his final attempt went home, putting L.A. up three, then tipped home Bynum’s miss after Miller answered with an and-1. Tense, fun, wild … just Game 7.

5:51 STEVE BLAKE. Just ridiculous. He nailed his 5th three in as many attempts, this the most important, putting LAL up five, when they’d trailed by four moments earlier. Gasol, meanwhile, was an absolute monster on the glass, reaching 17 total and 11 offensive boards, including two down the stretch.

2:53 Two Gasol free throws were countered by another Harrington make (22 points off Denver’s bench, all huge), so the lead stayed at five. And while Gasol had been tipping home misses all game, this time it was Bynum who put home his 7-foot ‘mate’s miss, then hit 2 FT’s on the next trip to make it an 89-80 margin with 1:51 to play.

0:48.0 Black Mamba, dagger three-pointer. He rose from the right wing and drained a contested triple, cutting off the final Denver push that included an Afflalo transition three to cut the lead to five. Kobe had taken only one other shot in the fourth, passing to teammates with confidence out of swift Nuggets double teams, reaching eight assists. But he wasn’t missing that triple.

0:00 Final: LAL 96, DEN 87. The Lakers showed their mettle when it most mattered, fighting their way through an intense fourth quarter, riding outstanding games from Gasol (23 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and four blocks), Bynum (16 points, 18 rebounds, six blocks), World Peace (15 points, four steals) and Blake (19 points, 5 of 6 three-pointers), with Kobe (17 points, 8 assists) calmly taking what the defense gave him. See you in Oklahoma City, everybody.

Lakers in Game 7′s

There’s nothing quite like a Game 7 in the playoffs.

And with the Lakers dropping Games 5 and 6 against Denver after opening a 3-1 series lead, Game 7 is what we get, promising to make for a raucous Saturday evening at STAPLES Center.

“It’s a one-game series, a final,” said Pau Gasol. “You win you move on, and the good thing is we play at home. We have to do whatever it takes to win.”

Everybody knows that Kobe Bryant will be ready – he dropped 31 points in Game 6 despite a bad case of gastroenteritis, only added to his legacy of always bringing it. But Gasol (three points, three rebounds) and Andrew Bynum (who did grab 16 rebounds) struggled to match Bryant’s energy, something that both bigs, Kobe, and really everybody else said is simply not acceptable in Game 7.

“We have to rely on aggressiveness, energy, owning every possession regardless of our experience,” added Gasol. “We have to want it more than they do.”

In franchise history, the Lakers have played 23 Game 7′s, going 15-8 in such contests (13-7 in Los Angeles, 2-1 in Minneapolis).

In Game 7 home games, however, the Lakers have been almost flawless, going 14-1 all-time (12-1 Los Angeles, 2-0 Minneapolis), the lone loss coming to Boston in the 1969 Finals (108-106).

The last Game 7 at STAPLES Center came in the 2010 NBA Finals against those same Celtics, with L.A. winning 83-79 behind a furious effort led by four starters that remain in purple and gold: Bryant, Gasol, Bynum and Metta World Peace, who returns to the fray after serving a 7-game suspension (and his teammates couldn’t be happier to have him back for such a winner-take-all game).

L.A. also won a home Game 7 against Houston in the 2009 Western Semi’s, in which they won easily, 89-70. The last Game 7 loss, and the only one of Bryant’s career, came at Phoenix in the 2006 First Round.

Tip off is at 7:30 p.m. – we’ll see you there.

Follow Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) on Twitter for full coverage surrounding Game 7 vs. Denver.

LAL – DEN: Game 6 Postgame #’s

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 113-96 Game 6 loss to Denver:

Straight close out games lost by the Lakers, who were 12-1 in such chances to eliminate an opponent since acquiring Pau Gasol before back-to-back losses to the Nuggets. As such, L.A. is now in an elimination Game 7, on Saturday evening at STAPLES Center.

Points for Pau Gasol, on only 1 of 10 field goals, which is surprising even to type. Andrew Bynum wasn’t much better offensively, making 4 of 11 shots with constant Denver double teams in his face, the two 7-footers – presumably LAL’s big advantage heading into the series – combining for 14 points. Mike Brown explicitly questioned the overall effort of both bigs after the game, stating his disappointment especially when Kobe Bryant was going hard on both ends despite being sick.

Three pointers hit by the Nuggets, which is exactly half of the amount they made in the entire first five games (20). Ty Lawson got Denver off to a swift start on that front, nailing four triples in the first few minutes of the game. Lawson led all scores with 32 points on an impressive 13 of 18 field goals, including 5 of 6 from three.

Plus/minus rating for deep sub Christian Eyenga with the game well secured Denver’s way in the final six minutes, which made the final score close than the game was throughout.

Denver’s run to start the game, putting L.A. into a deep, immediate hole. The Lakers would manage to get within four late in the second quarter, thanks mostly to Bryant’s scoring, but allowed a 7-2 run to close the half down nine.

Fast break points for Denver, actually below their league-high season average, which the Lakers will take. However, with L.A. cutting off the paint well enough throughout, the Nuggets just kicked the ball out for trailing threes that killed the Lakers.

Denver’s biggest lead, attained early in the fourth quarter.

Thirty-plus point games for Kobe in his playoff career, second only to Michael Jordan’s 109, as he managed 31 on 13 of 23 field goals despite battling gastroenteritis that had him throwing up in the morning and fatigued throughout the day and the game. He needed IV fluid injections before the game and at halftime, but still managed to be the most assertive Laker.

LAL 96, DEN 113: Game 6 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening road playoff contest against Denver, the Lakers trying to close out the series after failing to win Game 5 at home, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Sessions, Bryant, Ebanks, Gasol and Bynum
Denver: T. Lawson, A. Afflalo, D. Gallinari, K. Faried, T. Mozgov

7:57 The Lakers couldn’t have started much worse, allowing a 13-0 burst to start the game, as Denver drained three triples (two from Lawson, who was 2 for 16 in the series coming into the game) and L.A. missed its first eight shots. Kobe, battling gastroenteritis to the point that he had his head down and eyes closed just before the game on the bench, finally broke the run with a J and two free throws.

0:00 Denver finally cooled off, scoring 17 across the remaining eight minutes, and L.A. got 10 Bryant points towards a 30-20 deficit. What continues to surprise is that lack of offensive impact from Bynum (0 for 5) and Gasol (0 for 0), particularly with Bryant struggling with his health.

8:55 The deficit remained at 10 early in the second, as Barnes managed to hit just his third 3 of the series in 21 attempts to go with a slashing hoop, but L.A. conceded yet another transition three (sub Corey Brewer) on the other end.

4:15 Kobe continues to remind us to never take him for granted. Sick as he was, he still managed to score 19 points with four minutes to play in the second quarter, more than half of his team’s 38, to cut the deficit to five. Gasol had yet to score, and Bynum had just a single field goal, the paint dominance that is supposed to belong to the Lakers non existent on offense with the Nuggets crashing the lane.

0:00 Bynum wasn’t scoring (three points), but he was boarding (10 rebounds), helping LAL go on a run to cut the Nuggets lead down to just four when Gasol hit his first shot of the game. However, a 7-2 run to close the half, ending with a goaltending call on Gasol at the buzzer as he pushed his hand up under the rim, allowed Denver to restore a nine-point margin at 54-45. Take out the 13-0 and 7-2 runs, and LAL actually outscored the Nuggets 43-34 (not that you can erase points … just sayin’). And by the way, Denver hit EIGHT first half triples, only two fewer than they managed to hit in the first five GAMES (20).

5:40 Bryant was up to 25 points after hitting two more jumpers, but Denver had opened the quarter on a 9-0 run and shortly thereafter pushed the lead all the way up to 20. At risk of sounding like a broken record, Denver’s strategy of collapsing their entire defense on Bynum and Gasol was working wonders, the two bigs combining for only five points on a combined 3 for 16 shooting. Needless to say, that wasn’t going to do the trick.

3:32 Ty Lawson, who was responsible for the early burst by nailing four threes in the first few minutes, didn’t cool off, reaching 29 points on a super-efficient 12 of 16 field goals, his latest putting the Nuggets up 83-59. Starting to look a whole lot like Game 7 for the Lakers.

0:00 A huge lead of 90-68 was Denver’s heading into the final period, with nearly every statistical category favoring the home team. Bottom line, L.A. got out-worked, out-hustled and out-played for most of the first 36 minutes.

11:00 How was LAL’s night going? Well, usual non-scorer Corey Brewer went for six points in the first minute and change of the fourth, pushing Denver’s lead up to 96-70. Kobe managed to get to 31 points on 13 of 22 field goals after draining another jumper, the 85th time in his career he went over 30 in the playoffs, if you’re looking for at least one positive purple and gold thing.

7:52 Um, did we mention Brewer? He scored two more buckets, including the 10th Denver three, scoring all 11 points to push the lead to 28. So, yes, we’ll be seeing you on Saturday in Los Angeles for Game 7. The white flag was waved moments later, with a line up of Darius Morris-Devin Ebanks-Christian Eyenga-Troy Murphy-Jordan Hill given the final six minutes.

0:00 The third unit actually played quite well, showing more energy than some of the regulars, momentarily trimming the lead back under 20 thanks to Ebanks and Morris. Alas, the final: Denver 113, LAL 96. See ya at STAPLES Center, folks, after the second straight failure for LAL to close out the Nuggets after winning three of the first four games.

Kobe to Start Game 6 at Denver

Despite a bout of gastroenteritis, Kobe Bryant will start in Game 6 at Denver, as the Lakers try to wrap up their first round series with the Nuggets.

Bryant had skipped the team’s morning shootaround, and while everyone would have been shocked if one of the league’s toughest players in history didn’t play through the illness, the official word that he’d play didn’t come until Mike Brown’s pregame media session.

Earlier on Thursday morning, Lakers head athletic trainer Gary Vitti got a text message from Bryant, who shared that he was sick to the point of vomiting and stomach problems.

Vitti first got Bryant to stop vomiting, then treated him with further medicine that helped stop the stomach problems. Bryant began to feel better as the day went on, and was able to keep both fluids and a meal down.

The league’s all-time postseason minutes leader will receive an IV prior to the game to restore more fluids into his body, and be ready for action. There is no restriction on his playing time, per Vitti.

As we may hear after the game from Bryant, it was going to take a whole lot more than a sickness to keep him out of a playoff game.

Bryant (Gastroenteritis) Misses Shootaround

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant missed Thursday morning’s shootaround ahead of Game 6 with gastroenteritis.

We’ll know more about his status for the contest this evening about 90 minutes before tip off when the team’s PR staff or head coach Mike Brown provides an update on his condition.

Bryant has a history of playing through injuries and ailments particularly in playoff games, but the team will refrain from speculating until seeing how he feels prior to the game.

Bryant is averaging 31.2 points per game in the series plus 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals on 43 percent shooting in 40 minutes per game.