Monthly Archive for March, 2013

Kobe Postgame Quotes

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento KingsAt Sacramento, Kobe Bryant passed Wilt Chamberlain for No. 4 all-time on the NBA’s scoring list. Below is a transcription of his postgame interview touching on his relationship with Chamberlain, as well as Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol’s big nights in helping L.A. pull out a 103-98 victory.

KOBE BRYANT
Q: On his ankle:
Bryant: I aggravated it. The swelling went down on my ankle, but then I was playing through a bone spur, which just kept getting progressively worse. At the end of the last game, I couldn’t walk on it. Today it felt much, much better. I’ve been icing it nonstop trying not to aggravate it. That’s really the important thing.

Q: On the team growing with Steve Nash out:
Bryant: I think we’re tougher. You saw a very, very tough bunch out there that refused to go down. We just kept playing hard and never got discouraged. We just kept plugging away.

Q: On Dwight Howard’s growth:
Bryant: I think he’s figured the game out and he’s figured the rhythm out and how aggressive he can be. He’s just been extremely, extremely active, particularly tonight. They couldn’t’ stop him on the block and we went to him quite a bit. I thought his rebounding and his defense is really what keyed us.

Q: On Pau Gasol’s versatility and abilities:
Bryant: Everybody is a bunch of idiots. I don’t understand that. You don’t see a big with his skill set. You’d be hard-pressed to find a big with his skillset in the history of the game. We put him at the elbow for five straight minutes and he just tore them up – he tore them up. With his touch from the outside, posting up, passing the ball, you don’t see that skill set.

Q: On DeMarcus Cousins shooting those two 3-pointers late in the game:
Bryant: I’m not surprised. He’s a good shooter – a really good shooter.

Q: On extending his career past next year:
Bryant: It’s just about wanting to play. I can play. I can change my role completely and play point guard and average 12 assists. It’s just a matter if I want to play.

Q: On this possibly being his last game in Sacramento:
Bryant: No, it’s not. You guys have been saying that sh*t for three years. I’m tired of hearing that sh*t. You guys ain’t going nowhere. The cowbells are still in the building.

Q: On the memories playing in Sacramento:
Bryant: I think the Game 7 (in 2002) we had here was really the turning point for my career – dealing with that pressure in this environment against a great team. That was really a turning point for me individually and, really, for this franchise for us to go in and complete that 3-peat.

Q: On his relationship with Wilt Chamberlain:
Bryant: He knew me as Jellybean’s son. He took me up and showed me all the love in the world cause those Philly players all stick together. He knew my father, my uncle, my family and stuff. He and my grandma went to school together. We had a close relationship indirectly through my family and so forth.

Q: On passing Michael Jordan next on the scoring list:
Bryant: Honestly, the biggest thing I take out of it is the longevity. That’s the thing I’m most proud of. To be able to play for so many years and still be playing at a very, very high level, that’s the thing I’m most proud of.

Lakers – Kings Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento KingsWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 103-98 win at Sacramento:

31,434
Career points for Kobe Bryant, No. 4 all-time in NBA history. Bryant passed Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) with a pull-up jumper in the second quarter on his way to finishing with 19 points, 14 assists (tied a season-high) and nine boards.

36.9
Shooting percentage for Sacramento in the final three quarters after putting up 37 points in the first at a 71.4 clip. The Kings converted on 15 field goals in the first 12 minutes, but only made 24 (out of 65 attempts) the rest of the way.

23
Seconds Bryant sat out, despite battling ankle/foot problems. With Steve Nash forced to leave the game early, Bryant returned to more of a facilitator role, recording 14 dimes, one shy of his career high set against Washington in Feb. 2002.

15
Rebounds for Dwight Howard, his fifth straight game with at least that many. Howard also scored 24 points and blocked five shots, while playing nearly all 24 minutes in the second half. “I think he’s figured out the game and he’s figured the rhythm out and how aggressive he can be,” Bryant said of Howard.

10
Assists for Pau Gasol, who also finished with 12 points for his first double-double since returning from a partial tear of his plantar fascia. Along with Bryant’s 14 assists, the two combined for 24 of the Lakers’ 28 dimes. “You’d be hard pressed to find a big with his skill set in the history of the game,” Bryant said of Gasol.

7
Turnovers for the Lakers, tying a season-low. This came on the heels of the last two games where L.A. turned the ball over a combined 39 times. With L.A. taking care of the ball, Sacramento was not able to get out in transition (10 fastbreak points) after they had averaged 20 in the last three games.

2
Minutes for Nash, who had to exit the game early because of a strained right hamstring. Nash came into the game as questionable after trying to play through hip/back issues in the previous game. In his absence, Steve Blake drilled five 3-pointers off the pine, while the Lakers also received contributions from Jodie Meeks (14 points), Antawn Jamison (10 points, seven boards) and Earl Clark (seven points, four boards).

LAL 103, Kings 98: March 30 Running Diary

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento KingsBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s Saturday evening road contest against Sacramento, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Meeks, Bryant, Gasol and Howard
Kings: I. Thomas, T. Evans, J. Salmons, J. Thompson, D. Cousins

FIRST QUARTER
4:10 Sacramento showed why it leads the NBA in scoring since the All-Star break, reaching 30 points with four minutes yet to play. The Lakers were hanging, scoring 25 themselves, but the pace of the game was too fast for them to sustain. To make matters worse, Steve Nash lasted only a couple of minutes before leaving the game with a right hamstring strain.

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings0:00 The Kings didn’t stop scoring, but L.A. did, so a 37-25 lead for the home team had the Lakers in trouble yet again, amidst four losses in the last five games. They allowed 71.4 percent shooting to the Kings, including 4 of 5 triples.

SECOND QUARTER
3:00 But behind Kobe Bryant, it was a different story in the second quarter. Yet to take a rest despite a sore left foot and ankle, Kobe pushed L.A. to a 23-11 start to the quarter, the Kings suddenly struggling to score as L.A. slowed the tempo (no turnovers in the period) and executed inside and out. We were tied at 48, L.A. having trailed by 12 after 1.

And oh, by the way, Kobe became the fourth greatest scorer in NBA history early in the period, hitting a jumper in the paint to pass Wilt Chamberlain. More on that after the game.

0:00 After a terrific second quarter, the Lakers didn’t need Isaiah Thomas to nail a buzzer-beating three, but he did, allowing Sacramento a 57-53 lead. L.A. had been within a single point moments earlier after two Bryant free throws with four seconds left. They allowed only 20 points in the period, after the 37 in the first quarter, at least getting themselves back in it. Bryant played all 24 first half minutes.

THIRD QUARTER
7:10 Continuing his stretch of improved play in the past three contests, Pau Gasol was up to eight assists after finding Bryant for a jumper. Kobe had eight dimes of his own, and had the Lakers within a point, before consecutive Kings buckets pushed their lead to 70-65.

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings0:00 Riding some terrific defense, L.A. closed the quarter on a 14-1 run, and 11-0, to take an 82-75 lead out of the period. What a comeback, having allowed 37 points in the first quarter, but only 20 in the second and 18 in the third. In fact, Sacramento managed 15 combined field goals in the second and third after 15 in the first. Kobe sat for only the last 20 seconds, a defensive possession that resulted in another stop, and was up to 16 points with his 11 assists and six boards.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:01 Blake had four triples in this one, and Jodie Meeks had three after draining one off Kobe’s 12th assist, to keep the Lakers up six four minutes into the final period. Marcus Thornton was really hurting L.A., however, having scored 12 of his 18 in only four minutes.

4:50 The 13th Bryant helper got Gasol a dunk, the Spaniard getting all the way to the rim as a trailer in transition, keeping L.A.’s lead at five in crunch time. He had 10 assists of his own, many getting Howard shots at the rim.

0:00 In crunch time, L.A. got it done at the foul line and on defense, getting the key stops they needed with Bryant converting foul shots at the other end for what ended up being a 103-98 victory. Playing all but 23 seconds, Kobe finished with 19 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds on the evening. He had a lot of help, Dwight Howard going for 24 points (10 of 14 field goals) with 15 boards and five blocks, while Gasol added 12 points and 10 assists, stepping up his playmaking in the absence of Nash. Up next is a big home game against Dallas on Tuesday. See you there.

Bryant and Nash Injury Update

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles LakersLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemFrom Lakers PR:

Kobe Bryant received treatment on his foot and ankle today and his status for tomorrow is probable. Steve Nash also received treatment today and his status for tomorrow is questionable.

Lakers – Bucks Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee BucksWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 113-103 loss at Milwaukee:

53.2
Field-goal percentage for Milwaukee in the second half towards 60 points. The Bucks erased a small halftime deficit and a Lakers lead that was 13 at one point during the second quarter to snap a four-game skid. L.A.’s final lead was at 88-87 after a Steve Blake triple, but the home team went on a 17-4 run over the next four-and-a-half minutes to put the game out of reach.

30
Fastbreak points for Milwaukee, although the Lakers had 19 of their own. Many of these points came off 18 Los Angeles turnovers, which the Bucks turned into 22 points. Eight of the 18 miscues came in the third quarter when the home team outscored the visitors 29-21 and took a 5-point lead into the fourth.

6
Dunks for Larry Sanders, as he tied a career-high with 21 points, to go along with 13 rebounds and two blocked shots. The VCU product recorded 13 points and five boards on 6 of 7 field goals in the third, almost single-handedly spurring the Bucks’ rally.

4
Number of points Kobe Bryant is shy of – five from passing – tying Wilt Chamberlain for No. 4 all-time on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant shot just 6 of 17 field goals, but converted on 18 of 20 free throws towards a game-high 30 points.

0.5
The Lakers remain ahead of Utah for the No. 8 seed in the West, but are tied with the Jazz in the loss column. They are 1.5 games ahead of Dallas, with an April 2 matchup at Staples looming.

0
Minutes for Steve Nash in the fourth quarter after having back and hamstring problems. Nash had a strong second quarter with 14 points (4 of 5 FG’s, 5 of 5 FT’s) and three assists, but struggled in his seven third-quarter minutes (three turnovers) before being pulled for good.

LAL 103, Bucks 113: March 28 Running Diary

Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee BucksBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening contest at Milwaukee, the Lakers in search of a back-to-back sweep for the first time all season, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Meeks, Bryant, Gasol and Howard
Bucks: B. Jennings, M. Ellis, M. Daniels, E. Ilyasova, L. Sanders

FIRST QUARTER
Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks6:37 Picking up where he left off against Minnesota, Pau Gasol had a terrific start on offense, dropping off three pretty passes to teammates that resulted in 2 of 3 field goals at the rim. He added a jumper to put the Lakers up 8-2, though Milwaukee rallied to go up 12-10 thanks to a pair of three-pointers.

0:00 Coming into the game 35 points shy of passing Wilt Chamberlain for fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, Kobe Bryant was off to a good start, scoring the final eight points of the quarter to give the Lakers a 25-18 lead. Dwight Howard was sitting on the bench for the final six minutes of the period after picking up two fouls, but he also had three blocks in limited time to discourage Bucks drives.

SECOND QUARTER
11:48 Mike D’Antoni has taken to sitting Nash around the 5-minute mark of the first and bringing him back to start the second quarter, encouraging him to take more control of the offense when Kobe rested. And he opened the second by hitting a triple, putting the Lakers up 10 points.

Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks0:00 Nash continued to execute L.A.’s offense brilliantly in the opening six minutes of the quarter, allowing a 13-point lead as he reached 14 points with five assists after a quiet first quarter. When Bryant returned around the 5-minute mark, the Lakers were up 11 at 44-33, but by the half’s end, the lead was cut to only three at 56-53. Bryant had two of his five turnovers, leading directly to four of Milwaukee’s 17 fastbreak points, hit 1 of 3 shots and 3 of 4 free throws. L.A. also simply blew some defensive assignments, letting Ersan Ilyasova get a wide open look at a three in the final minute, joining Brandon Jennings with two makes from deep.

THIRD QUARTER
4:23 Riding Gasol post ups on Ilyasova early and layups from Nash and Jamison, the Lakers pushed their lead back to six, only to allow a 9-0 Bucks run that made it 72-69 for the home team. Turnovers continued to plague the Lakers, as Nash threw it away three times before getting a rest halfway through the quarter.

0:00 Larry Sanders typified Milwaukee’s athletic edge in a 29-21 third quarter with 13 points and six boards, helping allow an 82-77 lead (was as many as eight) heading into the fourth quarter. Nash and Kobe were looking particularly fatigued, and L.A. would need to rely more upon Howard in the final quarter to escape with a win.

FOURTH QUARTER
Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks7:05 As Bryant, Gasol and Nash continued to sit, Milwaukee got a fastbreak bucket from Ellis, catching a pass just out of Steve Blake’s reach, to allow a 92-89 lead. The Lakers had momentarily erased Milwaukee’s 8-point lead in the third quarter behind Jamison and Howard going into a time out.

3:20 The Lakers just didn’t have anything going, watching the Bucks fly by on defense (Monta Ellis eight of his 18 in the previous few minutes), with Bryant falling to 6 of 17 from the field, 1 of 5 in the fourth, as Nash continued to sit with perhaps a hip/back issue (nothing official from the team). They were in imminent danger of falling even with Utah and Dallas in the loss column at 36.

0:00 For the 15th time this season, the Lakers failed to sweep back to back games, falling 113-103 to Milwaukee a night after defeating Minnesota. Bryant made 18 of 20 free throws. Howard had 15 points and 15 boards, Gasol 12 and 9 in the losing effort. They’ll need a bounce back win at Sacramento on Saturday to salvage a .500 road trip that began with a loss at Golden State on Monday. We’ll see you in California’s capital.

Lakers – Wolves Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota TimberwolvesWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 120-117 win at Minnesota:

70
Points in the second half for the Lakers, a season-high (they scored 71 in the first half against Denver in November). Forty-one came in the third quarter – another season high – when L.A. made 18 of 25 field goals (72 percent). Kobe Bryant scored 16 of his game-high 31 on 7 of 9 from the floor during this span.

36
Minutes for Pau Gasol, nearly as many as he played in the previous two games combined since returning from a 20-game absence due to a plantar fascia tear on Feb. 5. Gasol started the game strong with the Lakers getting the 7-foot Spaniard involved on offense – nine points and six boards in the first – en route to posting 17 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks for the game.

25
Second-chance points for Minnesota off 17 offensive rebounds that allowed them to keep close. In the fourth quarter alone, the Wolves grabbed seven offensive boards towards 14 second-chance points. Combined with employing the Hack-a-Howard strategy (2 of 8), the home team got the Lakers out of a rhythm offensively and managed to make a game of it in the final two minutes.

21
Turnovers for the Lakers – 15 coming in the first half – that Minnesota turned into 20 points. L.A. had come into the contest averaging just 15 per game, which ranked 24th in the NBA.

16
Rebounds for Dwight Howard, to go along with 25 points, five steals and five blocks. It was the 10th time in the last 13 games he grabbed at least 15 boards, a sign he’s feeling much healthier. The big man made his mark on both ends, particularly in the second quarter, when he posted seven points, eight boards and three swats (Minnesota shot just 8 of 22, too).

10
Made 3-pointers for the Lakers out of 22 attempts (45.5 percent). In three games vs. Minnesota this season, L.A. is 38 of 86 (44.2 percent), having made 28 combined in the previous two meetings. Toward the end of the third, the Lakers made three straight triples to extend their lead to its biggest margin at 15 points.

LAL 120, Wolves 117: March 27 Running Diary

Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota TimberwolvesBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening contest at Minnesota, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Meeks, Bryant, Gasol and Howard
Wolves: R. Rubio, L. Ridnour, A. Kirilenko, D. Williams, N. Pekovic

FIRST QUARTER
Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves4:27 The second Dwight Howard field goal produced an 18-15 lead after Antawn Jamison replaced Pau Gasol, but it was the Spaniard who really set the tone for the Lakers early, making four of his six shots – one of the two misses was a missed goaltending call – for eight points. L.A. did a good job of getting Gasol looks near the rim, taking advantage of a mismatch with Derrick Williams, giving up at least three inches to Gasol.

0:00 After biding his time in the early goings with Gasol taking care of the offense, Bryant exploded for a dunk in the final seconds to provide a 26-23 lead. Gasol’s nine points and six boards were complimented by a block and a steal, the Spaniard looking much better than in his first two games back from a 20-game injury absence. He played 11 of the 12 minutes, as Howard picked up his second foul late in the period. That’s quite a luxury for L.A., being able to put just replace Howard with Gasol, who’s best position is certainly center.

SECOND QUARTER
6:50 L.A. were turning the ball over with alarming consistency early in the second, with five of their 12 in just 16 minutes, but maintained a 36-31 lead thanks in part to poor Wolves shooting (35 percent) and back-to-back triples from Antawn Jamison.

3:10 The turnovers kept mounting, but so did L.A.’s effort on D, particularly from Howard, who had four blocks (two consecutive on Nikola Pekovic, who’d been effective early but was only 4 of 9) and 10 rebounds alongside his 12 points, L.A. up 44-38 after Dwight split foul shots on the other end. Minnesota cut the lead to as few as two, before a 50-46 margin at the break, one that may have been much larger save for the 15 turnovers, the same number L.A. averages in a full game.

THIRD QUARTER
9:35 A 15-3 run for the Lakers allowed a 61-47 lead, Jodie Meeks capping the push with a fastbreak layup off Bryant’s sixth assist. Nash had one more dime, coming on an alley-oop to Howard, who dunked it home to reach a game-high 14 points with his 12 boards and four blocks from the first half.

2:15 Bryant had turned attack mode on, hitting 6 of 8 shots in the period for 13 of his 21 points, pushing L.A.’s lead to 84-70, one point less than the biggest lead. The Lakers were in firm control, but certainly needed to continue the defensive effort that had helped hold Minnesota to around 40 percent shooting. The lead would be 12 after three, thanks to a 41-point quarter (Kobe had 16), even though Minnesota scored 33 as L.A.’s D relaxed a bit in the process of scoring at will.

FOURTH QUARTER
5:03 Even after a Chase Budinger jumper, L.A. held a commanding 12-point lead with five to play, Howard’s stat line jumping out (23 points, 15 boards, five steals, four blocks) after consecutive buckets in the paint, but the Wolves were still working, Ricky Rubio leading the charge from an effort standpoint.

0:00 Some Hack-a-Howard really junked up the game in the final moments, Howard hitting only 2 of 8 from the stripe as the Wolves scoring almost at will on the other end to trim a 10-point lead down to as few as three points with a minute to play. As such, L.A. needed a big bucket from Kobe, who drained a 22-foot jumper to restore a five-point lead. He and Nash would subsequently convert most of their free throws in the final minute to produce an eventual 120-117 victory. Minnesota wanted a foul on a game-tying 3-point attempt from Rubio as time expired, but didn’t get it. The Lakers snapped a 3-game losing streak in the process, in advance of Thursday’s back-to-back at Milwaukee. We’ll see you there.

MRI Shows Meniscus Tear for MWP

Los Angeles Lakers v Orlando MagicLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemBelow is an injury update on Metta World Peace from the Lakers PR staff:

Lakers forward Metta World Peace, who injured his left knee in last night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, had an MRI exam today in Minneapolis. Results of the MRI showed a lateral meniscus tear. He will return to Los Angeles where he will be examined tomorrow by team doctor Steve Lombardo. An update, including a time table for his return, will be issued at the conclusion of his examination.

Lakers – Warriors Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State WarriorsWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 109-103 loss at Golden State:

66
Combined points from Golden State’s backcourt of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack. Curry, originally a game-time decision, played 43 minutes and finished with 25 points – took 24 shots to get there – to go along with 10 assists and seven boards, while Thompson had 22, including six 3-pointers. After recording 29 points and 11 assists in the last meeting, Jack scored 19 points off the pine.

55.3
Field-goal percentage for the Warriors in the first half, including a 35-point second quarter where they shot 62.5 percent. The last four points came in 1.9 seconds off a David Lee putback dunk and an Andrew Bogut alley-oop tip-in after an errant inbounds pass from Metta World Peace that gave the home team the ball under their own basket. The Lakers were at a 35.6 clip and fell behind 63-40 after the first 24 minutes.

19
Minutes for Metta World Peace, who strained his left knee in the first half and did not return. Coach Mike D’Antoni opted to go small in the fourth, using a lineup of Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. The Lakers made a late push with small ball, cutting the deficit to single digits with 2:51 remaining, but the rally fell short.

4
Consecutive 3-pointers made for Golden State to open the third quarter, pushing their lead to 25 points. The Warriors hit 10 triples on the evening out of 23 attempts, a 43.5 clip.

1
Lead change in the game, with the Lakers staying ahead for the first three-plus minutes, but trailing the rest of the game after Golden State started hitting shots. Despite the loss, L.A. remains one game ahead of Utah for the No. 8 spot with 11 games to play.