Archive for the 'All-Star 2010' Category

Pau Gasol Post All-Star Quotes

Pau GasolAfter his Western Conference team’s narrow 141-139 loss to the Eastern Conference in the 2010 All-Star Game in Dallas, Lakers forward Pau Gasol – who scored 13 points with six rebounds – joined respective media members for a Q&A session:

Q: On accomplishing his dual goals of having fun and staying healthy:
Gasol: We accomplished both goals. It was fun game, an unbelievable crowd, incredible stadium. Definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. I was tearing up. I couldn’t believe how many people came to the game and supported us and enjoyed the game. Really, really pleased that I had a chance to experience this. I look forward to continue to be apart of other All-Star weekends.

Q: On always playing to win:
Gasol: Sometimes I think about it, but it’s hard to get loose out there. You try not to make mistakes, even though it’s a game (where) you have to try and put on a good show. My goal is always to try and help the team win.

Q: On the crowd:
Gasol: It looked like a lot, a lot of people. It’s hard to get a feel for how many were there. We thought there were going to be 90,000-plus, but we didn’t know there were going to be over 100,000. It was great to feel the love.

59603495Q: On playing 20 minutes and 18 seconds:
Gasol: You can always play more, you can always play less. I’m thankful that the coach put me out there for as long as he put me out there.

Q: On shooting in a different type of stadium:
Gasol: It’s a different feeling, but once you get over that … because the dimensions are so different and the crowd is so far away and the building is humongous, you get used to it and it’s still just basketball.

Q: On Kobe Bryant looking a bit antsy on the sideline:
Gasol: I’m sure he would have loved to have been apart of the game. He would have enjoyed it. I’m sorry that he missed it, especially in close games. I (thought), oh I hope it doesn’t get too close, because he loves those kinds of shots in those kinds of situations … You always miss one of the best players in the world.

Q: On the potential of playing the All-Star game in a European city one day:
Gasol: I’m sure there are a lot of (good venues). Obviously, personally I would love for it to be in Barcelona, so (the people) would get to enjoy this kind of environment and this party of basketball. Anywhere would be interesting, but it’s hard to do it in the middle of the season.

Q: On the whole weekend:
Gasol: There was a lot going on, a lot of media availability, a lot of commitments and appearances. They keep us pretty busy, but at the same time, it’s fun to be apart of it. I think it’s a great honor to be named an All-Star, and it’s a party of basketball. It’s a good break from the daily routine that we go through, and now it’s over and we have to get back to work.

Q: On L.A.’s momentum heading into the post-break stretch:
Gasol: The momentum is there. We finished with a nice three-game swing and we were playing really well. Now we want to continue to play well and build on it. We’re ready for those 28 regular season games that we have left, and then getting back a playoff mindset.

Q: On the stadium:
Gasol: Unbelievable, incredible. I’ve never been to a football stadium before, I’ve been to a couple of soccer stadiums. But never like this, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.

2010 All-Star Running Diary

59602776What a scene.

In the biggest indoor arena in the world, with the most people watching a basketball game in the history of the sport, we were obligated to take down some notes for you.

Of course we’ll follow every move of Pau Gasol, L.A.’s lone participant as Kobe Bryant (ankle) observed from the sidelines in street clothes (admittedly, that take, and keep an eye on the rest of the 2010 All-Star game’s highlights.

First, your starters, then a quarter-by-quarter synopsis:

Western Conference: Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire
Eastern Conference: Joe Johnson, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard

59602325First Quarter
12:00 There was a full running diary’s worth of action before the game even tipped, including Usher’s performance of “More” and “Yeah” as the East and West were respectively introduced. Perhaps more notable than his song choices were his clothing choices, which included a Dwight-Howard-like sleeveless, skin-tight vest that looked like body armor and black leather capri pants over boots (never seen that before). Both Pau and Kobe received hearty ovations from the 100,000 odd people in attendance.

One other note: ESPN.com’s John Hollinger had a funny tweet after the Canadian Tenors (who were very good) sang “Oh Canada:” – “Tough week to book A-list Canadian talent,” referring of course to the Olympics in Vancouver.

8:00 Remember the scowl on Stan Van Gundy’s face that occurred just a few times (OK … more than a few) during the NBA Finals last season? He brought it out for the first time when his center, Howard, jacked up a three. Of course, the triple swished through the net. Nice.

2:50 Before the game, Lakers.com webmaster Ty Nowell and I conducted an MVP podcast to make things a bit more interesting. After almost 10 minutes, one of Team Trudell’s picks, Carmelo Anthony, had put up 13 points on 6-of-11 from the field.

596019620:52.0 Gasol scored the final two buckets of the first quarter for the West, first off a pretty baseline spin move around Howard that Bosh goal-tended, and second with a righty touch shot off glass after up-faking Howard. Gasol had also blocked Howard at the other end, though he was called for a personal foul. The quarter itself ended with the East holding a 37-34 lead, with Carmelo Anthony’s 13 points leading all scorers.

Second Quarter
8:02 With West Head Coach George Karl giving him some extra run, Gasol showed off his typical efficiency, making 4-of-6 shots including a two-handed dunk that got him to nine points with three rebounds, a steal and a block.

5:07 With the West up 57-55, the players seemed a tad more interested in the Cowboys cheerleader dance than the dry-erase board during a time out. This shocks no one. Meanwhile, weird stat alert: 10 different Western stars had exactly one turnover, no one had two. David Lee took that early honor with three of his own.

0:15.8 The half’s leading scorer, Anthony, added a layup to reach 17 points for the West, which trailed 76-69. Gasol played a total of 10:17 for his aforementioned stats, about which Phil Jackson can’t complain. We also saw Magic Johnson get introduced with three other 1992 Dream Team members (Mullin, Pippen and Ewing), and Derek Fisher address the crowd about the NBA Cares program while flanked by Boys and Girls Club (Arlington) members. Up next … Alicia Keys and Shakira at halftime.
59602439
Third Quarter
12:00 Gasol, being the only fluent Spanish-speaking All-Star (to my knowledge, anyway), must have a nice edge in befriending Shakira, right? Oh wait … Al Horford’s from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and is also fluent. Never mind.

5:40 The D-Wade – LeBron combo started to get loose in the third, pushing the East’s lead to 16 on a series of alley-oops, including LeBron’s two-handed reverse slam off Wade’s 10th assist. Of course, even a 30-point lead isn’t safe in the All-Star game. Moments later, Gasol returned for the West for his second set of minutes.

596034510:01.0 Kevin Durant’s deep three-pointer as time expired allowed the West to get within nine points heading into the fourth quarter. Gasol grabbed one rebound and missed two shots (fouled on both, obviously) in his short stint. After the quarter, Mavs Owner Mark Cuban and Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones announced the amazing attendance at 108,713, surpassing the already-high expectations and setting a Guinness World Record for the most people ever to watch a basketball game.

Fourth Quarter
7:25 Chauncey Billups, who nailed nine three-pointers on the Lakers last Friday, made his fourth of the game to get the West within a single point of the East, capping a nice run for a bench crew including Gasol, Deron Wiliams, Kevin Durant and Zach Randolph that was all around +10 for the game. Karl responded by keeping his reserves on the floor for an extended period.

3:52 Gasol checked out of the game, retiring with 13 points and six boards, and accomplishing his only goal of staying healthy (OK, having fun too). The West had begun to pull away as Wade’s slam made it 135-126.

596050741:46 Wade, who’d been fantastic all night (26 points on 12-of-16 and a game-high 11 assists), committed a mistake by reaching in on Dirk after a rebound to send the German to the foul line for two. Dirk made both, and since Billups had nailed his fifth three on the previous possession, brought the West two within two. Then after Bosh’s missed alley-oop finish, Billups sunk a jumper to tie the game with 1:05 to play.

0:12.7 Atonement, thy name was Dwyane Wade, who first stripped Williams on D as the West went for a go-ahead bucket, but then drew an unsolicited reach in foul from Williams (who must have thought that his team was still trailing). Wade made both, but Dirk then drew a foul when Howard jumped into him to tie it at 139.

And for the game winner? Well … it was more free throws, hit by Chris Bosh. ‘Melo had a chance to steal the game back with a buzzer-beating three, but missed as the East sealed the deal.

Wade won MVP honors (Ty had him … sigh). There’s always next year.

All-Star MVP Draft

blog_100214paugasolintroWatching the Super Bowl is always fun on its own … but if you’re like me, things are always a bit more interesting when you make a gentleman’s bet with your buddies about such unknowns as the MVP.

Sadly, I had Peyton Manning vs. (Lakers.com’s) Ty Nowell’s Drew Brees in the Saints victory over Indianapolis. Chalk one up for the webmaster. And while we tend to make selections on most everything (example: MTV RW-RR Challenges), my first chance at revenge comes during the NBA’s All-Star game on Sunday at the amazing Cowboy’s Stadium.

Last year in Phoenix, Ty had Kobe Bryant and I Shaquille O’Neal on respective rosters, and as the former teammates ended up sharing MVP honors, neither of us were pleased (who wants a push).

Earlier, we went through a snake style draft while sitting courtside and recording a podcast (click play below the picks) to explain our selections. Below are our Top 5 picks.

Ty: 1) Dirk Nowitzki: Home-town favorite.
Me: 2) LeBron James: Most likely to lead in FGA’s and minutes.
Me: 3) Kevin Durant: Upstart pick, mix of talent & excitement.
Ty: 4) Dwyane Wade: Handcuff for Dirk if East wins.
Ty: 5) Deron Williams: Hometown kid, something to prove.
Me: 6) Steve Nash: Teammates love him, maybe 20 dimes.
Me: 7) Dwight Howard: Sheer size combo w/excitement.
Ty: 8) Chris Bosh: Another home-towner, plus skills.
Ty: 9) Joe Johnson: Lots of minutes, raw scorer.
Me: 10) Pau Gasol: Homer pick.
Me: 11) Carmelo Anthony: Scores more easily than anyone.
Ty:12) Paul Pierce: Pierce loves his shot after 3-point win.

Video: Gasol Warming Up

About two hours before the 2010 All-Star Game at the more-than-impressive Cowboy’s Stadium, Pau Gasol began going through his usual series of pregame warmups.

The Spaniard, like his fellow All-Stars, was very excited about playing in front of the biggest crowd in the history of basketball.

“I’m really looking forward to getting the game started soon,” he said. “This place is really amazing.”

Gasol did concede that he won’t allow the buzz in the arena to change the way he plays his game, as he said his primary concern is staying healthy for another Lakers championship run.

Brown Misses Out On Slam Dunk Finals

Shannon Brown After months of build up keyed by the LetShannonDunk campaign, Shannon Brown’s entrance into the 2010 Slam Dunk Contest ended faster than most expected on All-Star Saturday night in Dallas.

He of the 44.5-inch vertical leap had put Lakers fans on their feet so often in his calendar-year stint with the team thanks to a bevy of crazy slams that anything but a victory seemed unlikely.

In fact, while 1986 Slam Dunk Champ and 2010 judge Spud Webb hadn’t seen much of Brown himself, he had certainly heard the word.

“Everybody I talk to says, ‘That’s my favorite, that’s my favorite, that’s my favorite,” Webb said.

59587568The event’s second dunker, Brown opened by running in from just beyond midcourt and taking off from in front of the left elbow for a huge 360, but surprised even himself by clanking the attempt off the rim. Participants have two full minutes to make a dunk, however, and Brown responded by rising high with the ball in his right hand before switching over at the last second to his left for the jam.

“After I missed the 360 I thought about doing it again, but I wanted to take off from a little bit further,” he said afterwards. “I decided to switch hands in the air. I looked at (the replay), it looked good still, but the judges gave me the score they gave me.”

That score was a 37, the lowest of the four participants that included eventual champion Nate Robinson (44), DeMar DeRozan (42) and Gerald Wallace (38).

For his second dunk, Brown called upon the assistance of former dunk champion Kobe Bryant, who tossed an alley-oop high into the air that Brown caught before hammering home a left-handed flush. Brown had hoped to cradle the ball downwards before bringing it back up, but it didn’t work out that way. He got a 41 for a total of 78, tying him with Wallace.

“(Kobe) was going to throw it up and I was supposed to catch it and bring it down, but when he threw it, I was so high that I just tried to lean in with it,” Brown explained.

It certainly wasn’t the result Brown had hoped for, but he quickly put things in perspective.

“There’s disappointment, but like I’ve been saying the whole time, I’m definitely blessed and honored to be able to participate,” he said. “Hopefully there will be a next time.”

Brown hinted that had he advanced to the final round – where Robinson beat out DeRozan for his third straight title – he had planned to use both Kobe and D.J. Mbenga, who was also in his Lakers warmups on the sideline: “I was just basically going to jump over them.”

Oh well.

The good news for Brown is that he gets to return to the league’s defending champion Lakers (41-13), who hold a 5.5 game lead over Denver in the Western Conference. He knows he can try to get some dunking revenge on the court, just not until he watches teammate Pau Gasol in Sunday’s All-Star game.

“I’m going to finish out this weekend, watch the game tomorrow and go dream about that, and just have a good time,” he concluded.

Spud Webb on Shannon Brown

Spud WebbIn 1986, Spud Webb – all 5’7” of him – put on a ridiculous performance to win the Slam Dunk Contest.

Twenty-four years later, Spud will be judging the 2010 Slam Dunk Contest, featuring Lakers guard (and air traffic control violator) Shannon Brown.

“I haven’t gotten to see him all that much, but from what I hear, he jumps out of the gym,” said Spud. “Everybody I talk to says, ‘That’s my favorite, that’s my favorite, that’s my favorite.

“He gets up high and he’ll hopefully be creative in his dunks. I just want to see a new winner, so hopefully he can come up.”

Top 10 Dunks: Shannon Brown

Our friends over at NBA.com posted the above highlight video of Shannon Brown’s Top 10 dunks, which doesn’t ever get boring to watch.

Furthermore, on Friday at the All-Star media availability session, we talked to Brown, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and fellow Slam Dunk participants Nate Robinson and DeMar DeRozan for more on Brown’s freakish abilities.

To watch, CLICK HERE.

Coverage of All-Star Saturday night in Dallas, featuring Brown’s participation in the Slam Dunk Contest, begins at 5:30 PM on TNT.

Lakers Attend Rookie/Sophmore Game

blog_as10rookiegame_500While the Lakers didn’t have anyone participating in this year’s Rookie/Sophmore Challenge that didn’t stop three Lakers from attending for various reasons.

Guard Jordan Farmar, in town as the team’s players association representative, sat courtside next to the the Clippers’ Chris Kaman while watching fellow UCLA Bruins Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook.

At halftime the NBA held their first ever Dunk-In contest between DeMar DeRozan and Eric Gordon with the winner gaining entrance into Saturday night’s main event. Shannon Brown is quickly becoming the people’s favorite to take the Slam Dunk crown but that didn’t stop him from doing a little scouting Saturday.

For Pau Gasol it was a family affair as for the second year in a row his brother Marc was involved in the game.

Pau Gasol Media Session

As mentioned in the “Kobe Bryant Media Session” post, we’ll have video of L.A.’s All-Star players’ respective media sessions on the ver at All-Star Central page later today. In the meantime, here are a few comments from Pau Gasol:

Q: On Shannon Brown’s chances at the Slam Dunk Contest:
Gasol: I think he’s impressive enough to take the whole thing. The way he jumps, the way he palms the ball so much … I think it will be shocking for him not to (win).

Q: On if Brown dunks on D.J. Mbenga the most in practice:
Gasol: Probably. But most of Shannon’s dunks are on the break. He takes off, and you know how he dunks. But (yes), D.J. is definitely the guy who gets dunked on the most, because he goes after everything no matter (what).

On if he’s ready for the “Shooting Stars” competition:
Gasol: Not yet. I still have to figure out what the spots are. I think we still have to assign them. It will be interesting, but I hope I can make my spots and help the team. In this case it would have helped me to take some halfcourt shots (like Sasha Vujacic).

On Kobe Bryant’s absence from the game and health:
Gasol: It’s a pity that Kobe can’t play, but I know that he needs that ankle to heal, and that’s for the best of the team. It’s a good thing. He brings so much excitement and hype to the (All-Star) game … (but) I’ll do my best in the game and try to stay out of trouble, out of danger and try to have fun.

Kobe Bryant Media Session

Kobe BryantOver at All-Star Central later today, we’ll have video of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Shannon Brown’s media sessions from Friday afternoon in Dallas.

To whet your appetite, here’s some Kobe:

On his ankle:
Bryant: It’s doing OK. It’s still sore, obviously. Just gotta treat it and get it ready.

On missing the All-Star Game:
Bryant: Weird. Especially here. This is a historical All-Star Game being played at Cowboy Stadium, so it’s a shame that I have to miss this one.

On Shannon Brown keeping it “Old School” in the Dunk Contest:
Bryant: What I mean by that is to kind of take it back to the way the Dunk Contest used to be and just showcase your god-given ability, just go up there and fly. Like he can. Not get too fancy, just get up there and do what he does.

On his rehabilitation:
Bryant: I’m doing therapy non-stop, around the clock until it’s ready to go. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later … The back’s fine, the finger I can’t do anything about – it’s broken. It is what it is. The finger is going to have to be taped probably as long as I continue to play.

On how he thinks he will feel after the All-Star break, with 10 days of rest:
Bryant: I’ll definitely be healthier than I was the last (month). That’s a plus. I won’t have to limp around, won’t have to take short cuts throughout the course of the game. I can play with a lot of energy in the that I was at the start of the season.

On if the Lakers are the team to beat:
Bryant: We’re the champions. Absolutely. I said the same thing about Boston the year before. Until somebody knocks you off, you’re the team to beat. But I feel confident with who we have. I like our depth, I like our size, I like our chemistry.

On if the Lakers need to do anything before the Feb. 18 trade deadline:
Bryant: I don’t think so. That’s (Lakers General Manager) Mitch’s (Kupchak) call.