Monthly Archive for October, 2012

Page 5 of 6

Postgame Quote Summary: Fresno

If you missed L.A.’s opening preseason game, or just want to hear what two of the starters and Mike Brown had to say afterwards, you can watch the postgame interviews right here:

Steve Nash: LAL – GSW Postgame
Metta World Peace: LAL – GSW Postgame
Mike Brown: LAL – GSW Postgame

Below is a summary of the comments featured in the videos:

Q: On his first game with the team:
Nash: I felt pretty good considering I’ve only been at this for a week — less than a week — so we got a long way to go. We covered a lot this week, and you never know what to expect the first time out. I felt like it wasn’t bad.

Q: On finding his teammates in the game:
Nash: We definitely found some opportunities to get easy buckets and some other opportunities where we got open looks. Make or miss, they were good shots for our team. My job is to facilitate and make the game easy for my teammates, get them opportunities to score easy baskets, have an advantage against their man or make the defense pay, so when you get to play with good players who understand the game, I think it’ll come together nicely.

Q: On how the week of practice helped team chemistry:
Nash: We just spent time on the court together. You have to spend time on the court to get any kind of chemistry, so I think the week of practice definitely helped, so we had somewhat of a familiarity going out there and we were able to find some cohesion. I thought both ends of the floor, we did a pretty decent job of playing together.

Q: On playing with Kobe:
Nash: It felt pretty good, to be honest. I felt pretty good and it’s only going to get better. I can’t complain about that part of the game … Hopefully (Kobe) can save some energy, get some looks, get his rhythm, get some baskets without having to put his head down and take on a team. And he can save his legs for later in the game.

Q: On his first game after losing so much weight in offseason:
MWP: It’s only the first game so I’m definitely 17 pounds lighter but at the same time, it’s still the beginning. But definitely, I feel much better.

Q: On if he didn’t like anything in the team’s first preseason game:
MWP: You always want to improve. It’s never a thing where I don’t like something. It’s just a thing where I can improve and always look at it as a positive rather than seeing it as a negative out there.

Q: On playing with Nash:
MWP: I mean, he’s Nash and his passes are really, really good. His passes are right on target, right on target.

Q: On the first half:
Brown: We’re going to get some great shots, we’re going to get some great looks. We scored 56 points in the first half and we could have even played better than we did in the first half. Then you throw in a guy like Dwight in there — on both ends of the floor, he helps your defense, he helps your offense — you just got some intelligent guys that can really play the game the right way offensively and defensively, so it was fun to watch.

Q: On Nash creating opportunities for his teammates:
Brown: He does. He’s a guy that’s extremely intelligent and it doesn’t matter how you play him. He’s going to find a weakness or a hole in the defense and he’s going to make the game easier for everybody. On the flip side, you got Metta and Dwight. Just like Steve sets the table for everybody offensively, those two guys are going to set the table for everybody defensively. It’s going to be exciting to watch.

Q: On if he didn’t like anything from the team in their first game together:
Brown: There were some things here and there we could have done a little bit better. Our transition defense could have been a little bit better and I thought we gambled too much, whether it was in transition or in the half court, which kind of put us out of position. But they’re all things that are definitely fixable.

Q: On if the Warriors’ 37-2 run was concerning:
Brown: My goal going into the game was to play everybody. I wanted to get guys a few minutes here, a few minutes there. I told our guys nobody would probably play over 20 minutes. I didn’t care what the score was. We could have been down 105 to 22 and I was going to stay the course, so that these guys can get a taste of it and get a feel of it. It was great they were going against some guys that played in the NBA for a long time it was great that they got to see what its like to guard Richard Jefferson, Harrison Barnes and David Lee. It was great experience for the guys and probably something they’ll never forget.

Q: On Nash and Kobe playing together:
Brown: It was good. It thought those guys played well out on the floor. They each tried to find one another and Steve just created easy shots for everybody. He made (Robert) Sacre look like he was in his third year in the league.

Q: On what team needs to work on:
Brown: The one thing we know we need to work on is transition defense an there are some things offensively, we can tweak on what we’re doing and learning how to do that better. The neat part about it is that we’ve probably put in 20 percent of what we’re gong to do offensively so there’s still a lot more that we need to add, which we’ll do in terms of taking our time. But there’s a lot to work on. Transition defense is probably the number one thing that we’ll get to.

Q: On how the team’s chemistry looked:
Brown: The first thing is we have good guys. Chemistry can be had if you have some good people in your group and we have good people in our group. Then when you have good people and the trust is there, that’s what chemistry is – it’s trust. Our guys understand that. We said this to them at the beginning of the year. Respect one another as teammates and what your teammates can bring to the table, respect the process and then respect the journey. You’re going to have ups and downs throughout the course of the journey and it’s how we handle the ups and how we handle the downs is going to determine whether or not we reach our goal at the end of the year. We have guys that understand that and are capable of dong that, and that’s what makes this thing exciting.

LAL 83, GSW 110: Preseason Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s preseason opener from Fresno against the Warriors, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Sacre*
Warriors: J. Jack, K. Thompton, B. Rush, D. Lee, F. Ezeli
*Dwight Howard (back) sat out the first game.

Welcome back, folks! Glad to have you back in the mix for another Lakers season, one that promises to be intriguing with one of the best offseasons in NBA history, in which a two-time MVP and 3-time Defensive POY join Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and the rest of the gang. We’ll have a running diary in case you miss anything from the games, or to supplement the broadcast, every time L.A. takes the court.

6:00 Behind some pretty Steve Nash passes and just as aesthetically pleasing Pau Gasol finishes, the Lakers opened with a 16-6 run to start the preseason. Dwight Howard looked on from the bench, smiling while sporting a bow tie … the fact that rookie Robert Sacre and not Jordan Hill started is likely good news re: Howard’s back, as Mike Brown wants to keep the rotation as is perhaps because Howard won’t be out too long.

0:00 The player Mike Brown seemed most pleased with in the first week of camp? If you get past the starters, it was certainly Jordan Hill, who came in for Sacre and promptly hit a 20-foot jumper, something he said he worked hard on in the offseason. The Lakers closed the quarter with a 26-17 lead, if against a Warriors team missing its two best players (Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut).

9:20 While Steve Blake, Antawn Jamison and Hill will be staples of the second unit, the backup two guard spot will see some competition between Devin Ebanks – who got the nod here and put L.A. up 10 with a corner three – and Jodie Meeks, with Andrew Goudelock also potentially factoring in. Meeks is a more natural two, so Ebanks may see the court as a three when Jamison plays four. This is what preseason’s for, to see who’s going to earn some regular season burn. Unrelated: MWP had three steals in the first quarter.

4:30 The second World Peace three of the quarter came thanks to Hill’s work on the O glass, and he followed with a nice cut to the hoop to draw a foul on the next possession. Two makes got him to 10 points to lead all scorers early, L.A. holding a 46-37 edge. Golden State got a late three from Klay Thompson to cut the lead down a bit, but the margin was 56-49 at the break, the starters likely done for the evening after a pretty solid overall performance.

8:22 If you love scoop shots, finger rolls and floaters from weird angles that usually go in, you’re going to enjoy watching Jamison play. A step-through finger roll off glass put L.A. up 66-58 early in the third, with the starters all resting on the bench. And that would be the last time the Lakers reserves would score in a while…

4:38 Our first look at Jodie Meeks and Earl Clark, both new to L.A., came with Golden State on a Lee-inspired run that opened a 74-66 lead. The run kept going until back-to-back Thompson threes capped a 22-0 run, putting L.A. in a 14-point hole.

9:41 The Warriors run, literally, went all the way to 35-0, with Golden State playing its usual second unit against a group of LAL reserves that had literally never played with one another: Darius Morris, Meeks, Clark, Reeves Nelson and Sacre. We’d gone 10 minutes without a point.

0:00 The final: 110-83, thanks to that massive second half run against a Lakers team that saw all 20 guys see game action, and no starters play after the break. After the game, Mike Brown offered his takeaway from the first half: “We’re going to get some great shots.” Indeed, the Lakers got a lot of wide open shots, a product of Nash pick and rolls in addition to flowing offense out of Princeton sets. If nothing else, that’s a nice positive to take out of Fresno, particularly when L.A. has seven more preseason games to fine tune everything … not to mention – at some point – welcome Dwight Howard back.

Injury Update: Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, who missed Thursday morning’s practice session with a sore right foot, was also held out of the evening session.

He is officially listed as “day-to-day.”

UPDATE: Bryant participated in Friday’s practice, confirming the team’s previous comments that it was nothing about which to worry.

Mike Brown Presser Round Up

Here’s a smattering of what the head coach has been saying after the past two practices:

Q: On Metta World Peace:
Brown: He’s shooting the ball well, he’s handling the ball great, defensively he’s locked in. He’s night and day performance wise now than what he was at this point last year.

Q: On who has looked good among the reserves early in camp:
Brown: Jordan Hill is showing that he needs to be on the floor. He’s the one guy I can say besides my starters that is showing he really needs to be on the floor with his activity out there. Antawn (Jamison) is a pro, he’s going to get it done. He’s shown he can be on the floor. Besides that, you have Jodie Meeks, Devin Ebanks, Chris Duhon, Steve Blake; those are probably the next guys along with a few of the young guys.

Q: On Dwight Howard’s defense:
Brown: Dwight, defensively, does for us what Steve Nash does offensively for us. Nash makes the game easy for everybody on the offensive end of the floor. Dwight’s going to make the game easier for everybody on the defensive end of the floor, whether it’s in the pick-and-roll, coming from the weak side and help defense. His presence alone is going to (be huge).

Q: On Howard’s defensive capabilities to Anderson Varejao, whom Brown coached in Cleveland:
Brown: The athleticism is a lot different (between) the two guys, but you talk about the agility of a Dwight Howard and the agility of an Anderson Varejao. Both those are off the charts. Anderson doesn’t have great athleticism, but he’s extremely agile and he has great feet. And there aren’t too many people that have the feet that he does.

Q: On what Howard’s done in practice:
Brown: He’s done (pretty much) everything. I don’t have a rule where a guy has to play in x number of preseason games. He can still play in the opener (if ready).

Q: On seeing all the talent on the floor:
Brown: It’s exciting because, again, we do have a talented group of guys, but they’re good guys. Not only are they good guys, but they work hard and they want to win. So, in a short amount of time we’ve thrown a lot at them. We’ve been throwing all the stuff at them to see if they can pick it up, understand it, feel it, execute it is just a testament to how intelligent the group is overall.

Q: On Steve Blake’s first practice back from a foot injury:
Brown: He’s tough as nails. I don’t know if he’ll ever get out of shape. He only knows one way to play, which is hard. And he’s worked extremely hard on his game this summer. Watching him, you couldn’t tell this was his first practice. He’s worked extremely hard this summer on his game and it had shown. Right before he got hurt, he was playing some — not good basketball — great basketball.

Q: On what he’ll need from Blake this year:
Brown: We’ll need him to play hard and show some leadership. When he’s open, to knock down shots, when he feels like being aggressive, be aggressive and run the team. Just as important as that, he’s going to have to defend, and he’s going to have to defend at a high level, which is what he does very well.

Q: On if there’s more competition among 13th, 14th, 15th guys than last season:
Brown: Yeah, definitely. This is a deep roster and we feel good about the guys coming off the bench. It was a little tough from the standpoint of last year because we had a shortened training camp so couldn’t see everybody. Not only could you see everybody, but because the season started so all of a sudden, you had guys playing overseas that couldn’t get out of their deal, and because they couldn’t get out of their deal, they were standing and watching. By the time they were out of their deal, we had to move past them because we only had two preseason games and then the season was here. So it was a lot tougher last year, obviously.

Q: On Gasol’s passing, particularly as it could benefit Howard:
Brown: Obviously, Dwight can play. You don’t want to take anybody away from him, but to me, Pau is Steve Nash in the paint. He is probably a better passer than Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Pau is probably on the level of (Arvidas) Sabonis maybe. That touch pass he made to Dwight – Are you kidding me? Pau, to me, is a jack of all trades. If we need him to shoot jumpers, he can shoot jumpers. If we need him to take a guy off the dribble, he’ll take a guy off the dribble. If we need him to facilitate, he can facilitate. If he needs to rebound, he’ll rebound. To me, he’s a jack of all trades guy that can do it all. And most guys, when they do it all, they do a good job of doing it all or a solid job. But Pau, he’s great at everything.

Q: On Gasol’s role offensively this year:
Brown: He’s too good for me to be specific with him. But he just does so much, I don’t want to put a ceiling on him. Literally, Pau can play dribble hand off, he can be the giver or the receiver, he can play pick and roll, Pau can come off a jump shot and catch and shoot and make a play, he can come off a screen, Pau can set the screen. So I don’t want to put him a box just because he is so versatile. His role with us is going to be doing whatever he can to help us offensively.

- Mike Brown after practice 10/05/12
- Mike Brown after practice 10/04/12

Howard to Shaq: “Your Time is Up”

It’s Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak’s hope that one day, Dwight Howard’s No. 12 jersey will hang in the STAPLES Center rafters alongside those of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and, coming this year, Shaquille O’Neal.

While Abdul-Jabbar has reached out to Howard offering his assistance, O’Neal’s taken a different approach.

Last week on an roundtable with fellow TNT analysts, Shaq essentially said that he’d choose Brook Lopez and Andrew Bynum over Howard, explaining that he prefers (what he considers) more typical back-to-the-basket centers.

Howard has been the All-NBA First Team selection in the pivot every year since 2008, but this isn’t the first time he’s taken criticism from O’Neal.

After Thursday’s practice — in which Howard looked very strong in 5-on-5-on-5 contact drills as he continues to progress from back surgery in April — Howard was asked by a reporter what he thought of Shaq’s recent comments.

Often times, athletes will choose to gloss over or make light of such a story, but give Howard credit for offering his opinion:

I don’t really care what Shaq says. Shaq played the game … he’s done. He’s gone. It’s time to move on. He hated the fact that when he played, the older guys were talking about him and how he played, and now he’s doing the exact same thing. Just let it go. There’s no sense for him to be talking trash. He did his thing in the league, (he’s one) of the greatest to ever play the game. Just sit back and relax. Your time is up. I don’t really care. He can say whatever he wants … I have respect for him and what he did for basketball. That’s it. Like I said, he already did his thing. He played. When my time is up there’s going to be someone else who can do everything I can do and probably do it better. Instead of me talking about it, I’ll do my job to help him get where I’m at. That’s what guys who’ve done it before should do.

CLICK HERE for video of Howard’s media session after Thursday’s practice.

Dwight Slam

Dwight Howard finishes with authority through traffic during the 5-on-5-on-5 drill during Thursday afternoon’s practice.

Injury Update: Blake Ready to Practice

Lakers backup point guard Steve Blake, who suffered a puncture wound to his left foot on Sept. 24, has been cleared to practice fully on Thursday.

According to team spokesman John Black, there will be no restrictions on Blake. The University of Maryland product was expected to miss at least three weeks, but will have been out only 10 days.

Blake told us at media day that he was planning on returning earlier than expected, and will prove himself right on the third day of camp.

Injury Update: Dwight Howard

For the second consecutive day to open training camp, Dwight Howard (back) participated fully, going through everything from 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 contact drills to the offensive and defensive skeleton sets being implemented by the coaching staff.

“As much as he’s practicing, to me he’s back,” said Lakers head coach Mike Brown after the team completed the first of two Wednesday practices. “Just waiting for the doctors (and) trainers to clear him. When that happens, he’ll go full tilt. But he looks good out there.”

The night session would feature the first full court 5-on-5 scrimmage, the one thing L.A.’s training staff will hold Howard out of as his rehabilitation process continues.

“I’m still trying to regain strength,” Howard explained. “I’m not playing until I’m 100 percent. Just because I’m doing drills with the team or running up and down, it doesn’t mean I’m ready to play in a game. There’s a difference between running up and down and being actually out there battling. When I’m 100 percent and able to go, then I’ll go.”

After Tuesday’s extensive session, Howard relayed why many of his teammates feel he’s ahead of the expected schedule.

“Hopefully, I will be back for some preseason games,” Howard said. “I think we are going to need it for chemistry and all that stuff. But like I said, I’m not going to rush it.”

The six-time All Star wanted to see how he felt after Tuesday’s first full practice with teammates, and revealed that Wednesday’s work out also went well; the word “setback” has certainly not come up.

As such, optimism reigns in Los Angeles as it pertains to Howard, who spent far more time running up and down the court and dunking than many expected to start training camp.

NBA Institutes Flopping Fines

The NBA announced on Tuesday morning that it will adopt an anti-flopping rule starting this coming 2012-13 season.

“Flops have no place in our game – they either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call,” said Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations Stu Jackson. “Accordingly, both the Board of Governors and the Competition Committee felt strongly that any player who the league determines, following video review, to have committed a flop should – after a warning – be given an automatic penalty.”

As the NBA defined it, “flopping” is: “any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player.” A player’s physical reaction to contact with another player must match what would reasonably be expected “given the force or direction of the contact.”

Legitimate basketball plays, like moving to a spot in order to draw an offensive foul), and minor physical reactions to contact won’t be treated as flops. But if a flop is determined by video review, the following fines will be assigned:

Violation 1: Warning
Violation 2: $5,000 fine
Violation 3: $10,000 fine
Violation 4: $15,000 fine
Violation 5: $30,000 fine

Any player violating the anti-flopping rule six times or more will be subject to further discipline.

Effect on the Lakers:
In short, the new flopping fines should help the Lakers more than hurt them. L.A.’s defense will be anchored by the league’s best defensive player, Dwight Howard, who rarely attempts to take charges thanks in part to his fantastic athletic ability. Howard is exponentially more likely to come over from the weak side to block or change a shot with his length and hops, instead of sliding in for a charge. Fellow seven footer Pau Gasol will take an occasional charge if the man he’s defending is aggressively backing him in, but also utilizes his length to protect the rim on the weak side instead of sliding in to draw contact.

Kobe Bryant has repeatedly told reporters that he isn’t interested in taking charges, citing the history of injuries suffered by players who commonly did so (Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen) as opposed to those who did not (Michael Jordan). Metta World Peace takes pride in his on-ball defense, and grew up playing on the hard courts of Queens, New York, where charges and flops simply don’t happen. Steve Nash has certainly stepped in to take charges in his career thanks to his hoops IQ, but is not known as the kind of player to try and trick the refs with a flop.

On the other hand, the Lakers should benefit from opponents having an incentive not to flop, due to the mismatches and angles that should be created thanks to the mix of elite offensive talent and new cuts in the Princeton offense. Furthermore, Howard may be allowed to worry a bit less about getting into foul trouble on the offensive end, if defenders are mindful of flopping fines.

With the first preseason game now only four days away, we’ll get a look at how the policy is implemented very soon.

Bryant Describes LAL’s Opening Practice

Story lines at the first day of Lakers practice are so plentiful that one could find something interesting to discuss about all 20 guys on the roster, not to mention the coaching staff.

But of course, everything in L.A. starts with Kobe Bryant, who took a good nine minutes of questions from assembled reporters on Monday afternoon, covering how Dwight Howard (back) looked, what the first day receiving passes from Steve Nash felt like, how he may see his minutes limited and more:

We took some notes while Kobe was talking:

- At the end of each practice, Mike Brown has the players shoot free throws to determine whether they’ll have to run sprints or not, and on the first day, he asked for a volunteer. Steve Nash stepped up, with Bryant in support: “Nash, Nash Nash … I’ll take that 92 percent* free throw shooter every day.” Kobe was pleased when Nash swished three straight, as Brown’s video assistants and personal assistant ran a sprint instead.
*Kobe was kind to his new teammate, giving the career 90.4 percent shooter some extra points.

- Bryant weighed in on how Dwight Howard looked: “He was able to go through all the drills offensively and the schemes we want to do, working through the Princeton Offense, so it was very productive.” True. A bit more on Howard: he competed in the full practice, doing everything including 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 contact drills, and could be seen dunking while running those Princeton sets at the end of practice. The only thing he didn’t do was 5-on-5 full contact scrimmage, which isn’t on his program just yet. Howard looked great, and had this to say after practice: “Hopefully I’ll be back for some preseason games. I think we’re going to need it for chemistry and all that stuff. But like I said, I’m not going to rush it.” Bryant qualified a bit by saying L.A.’s training staff wouldn’t put Howard in a position in which he’d have to “test the limits of his back.”

- Kobe’s not concerned about learning the new system. He cited the first year Phil Jackson came in and instituted the triangle offense, which wasn’t difficult thanks to the high IQ of the players on that team. Bryant thinks the current squad has that same capability, and he himself has seen every possible NBA offense through his 16 years. I asked him about his meeting with Mike Brown and Eddie Jordan about the offense a few weeks back: “I’m pretty familiar with the (Princeton Offense), we played against it for multiple years with Sacramento. There are some similarities to what we ran with the Triangle Offense, and I think it was good to sit down and map out the advantages of the offense, the advantages of having a system vs. having a conventional approach.”

- Bryant’s main takeaway from practice No. 1: “There’s a lot of talent out here. It’s exciting.”

- Kobe said he did not have any knee procedure this summer: “I was a little busy.”

- The Olympics essentially put Kobe “in game shape right from the beginning.” He argued that it’s beneficial coming into training camp because you don’t have to put in the strenuous effort to really get back into shape in training camp. There’s a lot of evidence to that nature in recent years, as the returning players from the Olympics and World Championships have generally had excellent NBA seasons.

- Kobe and Nash, with their doctorates in basketball, don’t really have to talk much on the floor. A look will suffice: “Most of the time I don’t have to say anything. He’s already seeing what I’m seeing.” That should pay off especially in crunch time.

- Mike Brown suggested in his media session that he’d like to limit Kobe’s minutes this season after he averaged 38.5 last year, which is simply too many. Kobe’s thought: “That’s always a goal for everybody, for every team, to have your players rest as much as possible in the (regular season) to be as fresh as possible come postseason. So we’ll see … I’m ready either way.”

Related Video Links:
- Dwight Howard after practice
- Mike Brown after practice
- Steve Nash after practice