Archive for the 'In-Game' Category

Page 4 of 22

Lakers – Magic Running Diary 1

staples_outsideRead about the Lakers vs. Magic Game 1 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Magic: Tyronn Lue, Jeremy Richardson

Starters
Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum
Magic: Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard

Stan Van Gundy Pregame
The big news out of the pregame interviews was that Jameer Nelson will dress and will “probably” play according to SVG, a surprise as it was reported earlier on Thursday that he likely would NOT play. Here’s the quote: “We’re going to dress him today and probably play him. Some ways not a difficult decision because it just comes down to trying to make a decision that we think gives us the best chance to win. The easiest decision would have been to not play him … He would have understood and it wouldn’t have disrupted our rotation. He’s ready to go, we think he can put some pressure on their defense.” The plan is to put Nelson in off the bench when Rafer Alston takes a seat. Van Gundy said the Magic will stick with him regardless of how well or poorly he plays.

Phil Jackson Pregame
On Nelson’s impact: “We haven’t discussed it by name, but by position. The players with specific talents, we discuss them … Rafer filled in and was almost identical to what they (had with Nelson).” So, essentially, the Lakers aren’t thinking too much about it. Jackson also addressed the nervous energy that leads into Game 1 of the NBA Finals when asked how his younger role players might respond, but did not seem at all concerned with it. He feels that L.A. is ready to play, though of course several adjustments will be made after Game 1. Basically the same stuff we’ve heard all week.

Follow Us On Twitter
In case there aren’t enough observations for you in the diary, feel free to follow us on twitter on @Lakers or @miketrudell.

first_q_gasolFirst Quarter
12:00 The game ball was presented by a guy named Earvin Johnson, who was led “Magic” by Lawrence Tanter. The assembled crowd appreciated that (apparently he was pretty good at basketball).

11:24 After Howard’s miss, a deep catch in the lane by Bynum immediately produced a personal foul on Lewis. After the inbounds pass, Gasol found Bynum with a pretty pass just under the rim, resulting in a dunk and the first points of the Finals.

10:54 Much has been said about Orlando’s three-point shooting ability, which Turkoglu showcased in the corner after Alston’s penetration. While Bynum answered with an elbow jumper, Alston drove right past Fisher for a layup. Gasol then lost the ball on offense, and Howard scored his first points to put Orlando up 7-4.

7:56 Worried about foul trouble, Howard barely contested another Bynum hoop, as ‘Drew’s six points gave L.A. a 10-9 lead.

5:30 The first time out came after Bynum drew Howard’s first personal on an isolation play from the left block, the score tied at 14 with two free throws coming. Both teams shot well in the first six minutes, combining for 13-of-25 (52 percent), primarily from the inside, as Turkoglu’s was the only 3-pointer attempted.

3:30 L.A.’s defense was happy to allow deep jumpers from sub Tony Battie, while Fisher and Gasol sunk theirs to put the Lakers up 20-16 as Bynum’s second foul so Odom check in.

2:36 Walton checked in for Ariza and immediately got a dunk for Gasol (you wonder why players love playing with Walton) who then drew Howard’s second foul on the other end. Meanwhile, Mickael Pietrus had checked in to guard Bryant, and Marcin Gortat in for Howard.

0:45.2 Orlando took the lead on an Alston layup after Bryant missed for the fifth time in eight attempts.

0:01.0 Another Bryant miss wouldn’t quite climb over the rim at the buzzer, allowing Orlando the 24-22 lead after the first quarter of the Finals.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Magic Running Diary 1′

Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary 6

57555951Read about the Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 6 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Game 1
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 19, 2009
Lakers 105, Nuggets 103: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 21, 2009
Lakers 103, Nuggets 106: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 23, 2009
Lakers 103, Nuggets 97: Postgame

Game 4
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 25, 2009
Lakers 101, Nuggets 120: Postgame

Game 5
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 27, 2009
Lakers 103, Nuggets 94: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Nuggets: Sonny Weems, Steven Hunter

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Nuggets: Billups, Jones, Anthony, Martin and Nene

Phil Jackson Pregame
Jackson was asked little about the actual game, as reporters instead focused on the referee situation before dipping into league rules from a general standpoint.

George Karl Pregame
Continuing a run of strange pregame pressers, Karl began talking about 70′s and 80′s bands about which he admittedly knew little, including calling R.E.M. “rem.” To be fair, it wasn’t his fault as several journalists prompted him. When eventually moving over to the team, Karl stated his excitement for Game 6, and said he thought Carmelo Anthony’s ankle was probably well enough to spend some time on Kobe Bryant.

Follow On Twitter
In case there aren’t enough observations for you in the diary, feel free to follow us on twitter on @Lakers or @miketrudell.

57555991First Quarter
12:00 Rocker Zakk Wylde played the National Anthem on his guitar … Sorry, gotta go with Flea (by a lot) on that one. Even with the PA guy doing his Detroit Pistons thing again, it was a great atmosphere in Denver, which began as Bynum won the tip over Nene.

11:25 Though Bynum missed an opening alley-oop pass, Bryant forced a Billups foul off a near-interception, and Gasol converted from the baseline to put L.A. on top. At the other end, Anthony and Martin each missed a baseline jumper.

10:15 Ariza nailed a three from his spot, which is halfway between the top of the key and the baseline on the wing.

9:01 Anthony finally scored for Denver by hitting the second of two free throws after a hard foul on Bynum.

7:17 A nice defensive play from Bynum forced a Billups miss, and Bryant went the other way to draw a hard foul on Martin. His free throws put the Lakers up 9-5 even as they’d missed a few easy offensive opportunities.

5:54 It’s fair to say that L.A. controlled the opening six minutes, a far cry from Game 4 in Denver when the Nuggets were the aggressors. Were L.A. to hit some great looks resulting from three Nuggs turnovers, it would have more than the 2-point cushion into the first time out.

2:56 The Lakers really seemed to have figured out Denver’s defense, particularly when they’re trapping, getting several good looks near the hoop including an Odom layup and Ariza dunk. Denver, meanwhile, stayed in the game by getting back-to-back threes from J.R. Smith and Billups.

1:26 After Bryant drove right past Smith for a layup, he found Odom in the paint for another easy deuce. Smith did counter with a drive past Odom, but Ariza hit from the other wing, his second hit, to put L.A. up 24-18.

0:35.0 When Bynum went to the bench, L.A. gave up two straight layups, the second to Anthony. A defensive 3-second call then earned Bryant free throw, which he made to get to seven points, three fewer than Ariza.

All-in-all, it was a very good first quarter for the Lakers, who got a little something from everybody that stepped onto the court.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary 6′

Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary – Game 5

57543528Read about the Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 5 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Game 1
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 19, 2009
Lakers 105, Nuggets 103: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 21, 2009
Lakers 103, Nuggets 106: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 23, 2009
Lakers 103, Nuggets 97: Postgame

Game 4
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 25, 2009
Lakers 101, Nuggets 120: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Nuggets: Sonny Weems, Steven Hunter

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Nuggets: Billups, Jones, Anthony, Martin and Nene

Phil Jackson Pregame
Jackson was first asked his reaction the receiving a $25,000 fine from the NBA, and he said this: “Parking tickets still bother me.” Then he was asked about Andrew Bynum’s slight increase in minutes: “Some of it is about the game getting in a 10, 12-point situation, and Pau needed the rest. (Bynum’s) perfectly capable of scoring in there, but Andrew still has an activity level that he knows he has to pick up in this series where he’s rebounding and (active) on the defensive end.” Finally, when asked if he were “planting seeds” by addressing the referee situation, Jackson said that he was a “gardener.”

George Karl Pregame
Karl was, once again, full of nothing but jokes for the first three minutes of his press conference before being asked if his CBA coaching experience helped him on the big stage (yes). “I think really good coaches in the NBA feel a problem before it happens,” he said. He also addressed Carmelo Anthony’s struggles, but primarily is concerned with his team matching the effort level they’d brought throughout the series.

Big Time
While Kobe Bryant is always the straw that stirs L.A.’s drink, keep an eye out for L.A.’s early work on the boards, particularly from Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and later Lamar Odom. The Lakers bigs saw Denver outrebound their team 58-40 in Game 4, and don’t think for a second that didn’t come up in the film room. Controlling the boards may well control the game, and L.A. is well aware. The good news for the Lakers is that in any game they’ve really HAD to win this season, they’ve brought the defensive and rebounding noise, so the precedent is there.

57543476First Quarter
12:00 Tyrese Gibson was solid on the National Anthem, though I think it’d be cool if Optimus Prime handled it.

11:40 Fisher missed a wide open triple, and Billups sank one … Then Bynum missed a shot in the lane before fouling Jones hard at the hoop. Jones missed the first, but Denver jumped out 4-0. On ESPN, Jeff Van Gundy said he thought Jones should have been suspended for the trip on Bryant that was turned into a Flagrant Type 1 foul by the league.

8:50 The Nuggets had yet to miss from the field (4-of-4), but Bryant and Fisher stuck jumpers to make it 10-6 for the visitors. More disconcerting than Denver’s perfect shooting percentage was that they were getting some really good looks.

7:10 Bryant fed Bynum for an alley-oop dunk out of a timeout. That’s what you’d call a good inbounds play. Then at the other end, Bynum contested a Jones’ miss, Gasol picked Jones in the backcourt and Bryant went straight to the hole to draw a foul. Four quick points.

5:32 Well, that was more like what we expected; After that sequence, four more points capped an 8-0, highlighted by a nasty spin move and two-handed dunk over Nene from Bynum. Fisher also hit his second jumper of the quarter, and got real low for some (low) fives from the bench when George Karl called time out.

4:46 Gasol’s put back followed a Nene tip, and Fisher countered an Anthony layup (which drew Bynum’s second foul) for his third make in four attempts to make it 18-15 L.A.

2:23 Billups picked up his second foul with the score knotted at 21, and had to go to the bench in favor of Anthony Carter. L.A. immediately posted Bryant on A.C., which earned Odom a baseline hook that rattled in.

0:13.9 A great defensive possession that included a block each from Odom and Gasol still resulted in a Denver bucket as Carter gathered with the shot clock expiring. On the other end, Andersen made a great play to block an Odom dunk attempt, and the score stayed tied at 25 after one.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary – Game 5′

Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary 4

57535188Read about the Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 4 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Game 1
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 19, 2009
Lakers 105, Nuggets 103: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 21, 2009
Lakers 103, Nuggets 106: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 23, 2009
Lakers 103, Nuggets 97: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Nuggets: Sonny Weems, Steven Hunter

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Nuggets: Billups, Jones, Anthony, Martin and Nene

Phil Jackson Pregame
Jackson’s primary message to his team, he said, was to come with a sense of urgency to match what the Nuggets promise to deliver with their collective back against the wall. He added that the coaching staff would have to watch the minutes of Trevor Ariza (hip, groin), but that you can’t really monitor Kobe Bryant’s minutes: “He wants to play all of them.” A reporter also mentioned that Ariza’s numbers are up across the board in the playoffs (51 percent from 3-point range, for example), which Jackson said was simply because some players step their games in the postseason, and Ariza appears to be one of them.

George Karl Pregame
Karl opened talking about L.A.’s weariness: “Fatigue is a part of a playoff series if it goes for a long time … I hope that does become a factor, because I think right now our bench has a little more confidence.” Karl added that the Nuggets did a good job on Bryant with the exception of a few fouls and a few times in which Bryant got the ball back after an initial denial. Finally, Karl said that coaches have more trouble with close losses, while players feel better about them because they knew they were right in the game.

Jones Push of Kobe Changed to “Flagrant 1″
According to NBA VP of PR Tim Frank, the two-handed push that Dahntay Jones committed on Kobe Bryant with 7:13 left in the third quarter was changed from a personal foul to a flagrant 1. Bryant made both free throws at the time to bring L.A. within two at 60-58.

57535349First Quarter
11:46 Bryant immediately split a double team and drew a foul on Jones, who has to be approaching an NBA playoff record for most fouls-per-minute in a series.

10:40 Apparently free throw practice didn’t do a ton of good for the Lakers, who missed 3-of-4 to start the game, including both from Ariza.

10:09 Game plan: pound it in the paint, which worked as Gasol smartly found Bynum with a lob, and the young center converted on the baseline to make it 4-3 Nuggets (who’d gotten two hoops from Martin).

7:31 After Ariza missed his second straight open three, Bynum dunked courtesy of a pretty Pau pass to make it 8-5 Denver, who’d already grabbed three offensive boards. The hustle stats are going to be tough for L.A. especially in the first half.

3:58 Getting a tough runner to go off glass in the lane was one thing for Fish, but his pull-up didn’t look at good, and Martin hit 1-of-2 freebies at the other end to put Denver up seven. With that, Lamar Odom and Luke Walton checked in for Bynum and Ariza.

1:53 Surprise, surprise: Odom deflected a Martin inbounds pass out of bounds. Denver did collect, however, and get two more FT’s when Walton was whistled for another bump, this time on Martin, whose FT’s made it 20-13 Nuggets.

0:00 A tough, in-traffic, running bank shot from Kobe went down for his third straight make, which kept the Lakers within three (22-19) after one. Denver threw a great deal of effort at the Lakers, but didn’t execute very well (7-of-21, 33 percent) by missing a few layups and four free throws.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary 4′

Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary 3

57525336Read about the Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 3 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Game 1
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 19, 2009
Lakers 105, Nuggets 103: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 21, 2009
Lakers 103, Nuggets 106: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Nuggets: Sonny Weems, Steven Hunter

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Nuggets: Billups, Jones, Anthony, Martin and Nene

Phil Jackson Pregame
Phil said he talked to Andrew Bynum after practice yesterday, explaining that eight minutes is the maximum he can play at full speed. Basically, Jackson is suggesting that Bynum’s activity level dwindles if he plays too many minutes. “We’re trying to monitor his level of conditioning,” he said. “If I see an opportunity to use him, I will … I don’t have any trouble with Andrew. We sit next to each other in the film room (and discuss things).” Jackson also noted that Derek Fisher hasn’t been a problem defensively, as he’s spent little time on Chauncey Billups, and said that Lamar Odom didn’t find a comfort zone in Game 2 as a rebounder or transition operator.

George Karl Pregame
Karl said the difference between his Nuggets at home and on the road is that the fans help with defensive intensity, and that they don’t have to rely on their stars as much since at least two role players seem to step up various portions of their game (3-point shooting in particular). He also talked about Carmelo Anthony getting out of the First Round having really helped his confidence, and how much his perimeter jumper has improved.

Adam Morrison: Video Game King
In news completely unrelated to and irrelevant for Saturday’s game, as I “tweeted” this afternoon, Adam Morrison is the best FIFA Soccer video game player I’ve ever seen. He deserves ample respect, though he is challenged by Luke Walton … who “completely copied my game,” according to Morrison. Walton also competes well in NCAA Football ’09 with Jordan Farmar, while Farmar adds NBA 2K9 to his arsenal. Lakers.com will take its shot at Farmar on Sunday afternoon, and we’ll let you know how it goes.

57525284First Quarter
12:00 Denver’s fans set a new 2008-09 season record for “Most Disparaging Remarks About an Opponent” during pauses in the National Anthem. In other game ops news, Houston’s intro was much, much better, but the Pepsi Center faithful are certainly amped.

11:33 Which two players were being chastised for 48 hours? Bynum and Fish … Who opened with a block and a deep jumper, respectively, for L.A.

9:07 The game started to look like Game 2′s final five minutes, with ten consecutive free throws taken. Denver hit 5-of-6, Fisher missed two and Bryant made two as Denver led 9-6. Meanwhile, neither Bynum nor Gasol had touched the ball in the paint on five offensive possessions.

7:48 L.A. finally got the idea by posting Bynum and Gasol on consecutive possessions. Bynum missed his shot, but Gasol didn’t. Bryant followed with an easy layup, then Fisher stripped Billups and fed Ariza for a 6-point-run-capping layup. L.A. 12, Denver 11.

6:06 Bynum swatted Jones for his second block, but was called for his second foul trying to block Nene on the put-back attempt, bringing Odom into the game. Bynum had two blocks, missed both his shots and didn’t grab a rebound, though Gasol grabbed three. Not a great box score, but Denver didn’t get anything easy at the rim.

4:37 The Lakers weren’t getting very good looks from their offense until Bryant found Fisher for a wide-open back door layup, but Denver hit three straight jumpers at the other end (two from Anthony) to take a 21-15 lead.

3:32 L.A. continued to give away some easy points, turning the ball over on a 3-on-1 break as Ariza lost the ball to Anthony and Fisher fouled him. ‘Melo’s free throws (bonus) put Denver up six, and after a Gasol baseline miss, Martin found Chris Andersen with a pretty behind-the-back pass to push the lead to 25-17.

2:37 Walton missed L.A.’s fourth and fifth free throws of the quarter as Denver.

0:01.7 Odom finished off a pretty spin move at the bucket, following a 20-foot jumper from Farmar (and a bad Anthony miss from three in transition) to cut Denver’s lead to just two points after one. Considering that the Lakers really didn’t play well, missed six free throws and didn’t hit a three, they’d take it.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary 3′

Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary 2

57510567Read about the Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 2 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Game 1
Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary, May 19, 2009
Lakers 105, Nuggets 103: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Nuggets: Sonny Weems, Steven Hunter

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Rockets: Billups, Jones, Anthony, Martin and Nene

Why L.A. Needs a Big Bynum
Last season, when the Lakers swept the Nuggets 4-0 in Round 1, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol destroyed the Nuggets with interior passing. A big difference on the block this season, however, is that Nene has taken over for Marcus Camby, and he’s simply a much more physical presence, if without the shot blocking. This is to the disadvantage of Pau Gasol, upon whom Denver effectively sicked Nene with Bynum in foul trouble. In addition to some affective game planning, that allowed Denver to control the paint until the final two minutes, which L.A. can’t allow once again.

Pregame Video Scouting Report
Frank Hamblen joined us to talk about countering Denver’s Game 1 advantage on the low block, defending Carmelo Anthony and the importance of winning the bench battle. The watch, CLICK HERE.

57510856First Quarter
10:14 For the third straight possession, L.A. dumped the ball down low to Bynum. The first time, Gasol was called for three seconds, and the second, Martin was whistled for a non-shooting foul. But the third resulted in a two-handed dunk for L.A. This is the matchup Lakers.com has been looking for.

8:20 After barely touching the ball on offense, Gasol stuck back a Fisher miss to tie the game at six. Eleven of his 13 points in Game 1 came in similar fashion.

6:49 Martin was fronting Bynum, and he was fed with a nice lob pass that resulted in a free throw. A possession later, Jones picked up his fourth foul in less than six minutes as Bryant scored plus the harm … But is that good for L.A.? If I’m Denver, I’d rather have J.R. Smith in there anyway. The real problem could come if Bryant gets Smith in foul trouble as well. Lakers 13, Nuggets 10.

5:22 Two straight nice plays from Gasol, first a swat of an Anthony three and second another tip in. In the process, Billups was T’d up by the league’s best official, Steve Javie.

4:25 Another put-back, this time a dunk, came from Lamar Odom. After Game 1, Odom said these opportunities were available since Denver tried to block so many shots, and he was onto something. That play was followed by an Odom rebound, then an Ariza and-1 that put L.A. up 21-14.

2:30 More solid help defense on Anthony (1-for-6) resulted in a Bryant pull-up at the other end that found L.A. up 25-16 and looking very good doing it.

0:32.0 A very fortunate bounce turned a Lakers turnover into a Linas Kleiza three in the corner, as the ball kicked off Billups when L.A. appeared to have a break out. That shot cut L.A.’s lead to six, but Bryant responded with two free throws after drawing Smith’s second foul, and it was 31-23. Bryant had followed up his 18 fourth quarter points in Game 1 with 14 in this one.

Quick summary: L.A. was much better defensively with rotations, again attacked the offensive glass and shot 52.4 percent to reverse the score of Tuesday’s Game 1.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary 2′

Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary 1

57487534Read about the Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 1 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Nuggets: Sonny Weems, Steven Hunter

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Nuggets: Chauncey Billups, Dahntay Jones, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Nene

Matchups the Key
In the NBA playoffs, it’s often a matchup game … Who’s got more advantages? We took a look at each of the position-by-position contests that will play out on the floor in our complete Western Conference Finals preview, but here’s a hint: Denver, like most teams, will have trouble with the Bynum – Gasol combination.

Pregame Video Scouting Report
Lakers assistant coach Frank Hamblen sat down with us to preview Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, explaining why Denver’s improved defensively, talking about George Karl’s 30-30-30 formula and the importance of Chauncey Billups. To watch the video, CLICK HERE.

Layoff Warning
It’s been six days since the Nuggets last played (Wed., May 13), the same number of days L.A. had off before the Houston series. The Lakers struggled to get it going early in that Game 1 loss to Houston … Will Denver be ready to play?

57487501First Quarter
12:00 STAPLES off to a strong start with a Dick Van Dyke National Anthem and an Elgin Baylor ball delivery.

11:45 Billups opened the game with a jumper off a screen, which preceded a Jones’ FT and ‘Melo layup off Ariza’s bad pass to start 5-0.

10:20 L.A.’s first bucket came in a fortunate way, with Ariza’s rainbow baseline J swishing through after spending a good three seconds in the air. I’ll say this … The 6 p.m. local start is a bit deflating for L.A. since many fans have yet to arrive (not that it’s anyone’s fault for having to stay at work, get stuck in traffic and deal with the American Idol craziness).

8:06 Bryant’s put-back layup followed back-to-back jumpers from Anthony, one a top-of-the-key three, that had L.A. down 10-4.

7:08 An open dunk from Nene countered Bynum’s hoop in the paint, and the Lakers trailed by eight heading into the first time out. I’d questioned if the long layoff would affect Denver’s early energy, and boy was that off base. Even if the Lakers missed some wide open looks and Denver made 6-of-8, the Nuggets certainly controlled the tempo. Also, Gasol barely touched the ball on offense.

6:33 Everything going Denver’s way as Martin made his second straight line drive from 15 feet.

4:03 Bynum scored on the baseline for his second hoop, but the bigger story was the ease with which Denver was getting open looks and scoring, as proven by another easy layup from Nene. Many, including myself, thought the Lakers would come out with the same defensive intensity that stifled the Rockets to 12 first quarter points in Sunday’s Game 7, but we’d certainly yet to see that in the opening minutes.

3:18 Down 20-12, Jackson inserted Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton. In related news, CLICK HERE for a pregame story on Odom’s back. Some interesting matchups: Bryant on Billups; Walton on Anthony and Vujacic on also-checked in J.R. Smith.

2:32 Martin ran uncontested through the lane for Denver’s third dunk.

1:50 Anthony nailed a three for his 14th point, looking completely locked in. Almost shocking how easily the Nuggets were scoring, though Gasol mercifully answered with an and-1 to make it a 27-17 game.

0:40.0 Two big momentum plays from Vujacic, who hustled to poke a defensive board out of Billups’ reach, then nailed a corner three at the other end. Denver continued to make everything (Martin on the baseline), but Shannon Brown hit L.A.’s second three in 25 seconds to cut the lead to eight.

0:02.2 Billups missed two free throws that allowed L.A. to stay within eight at 31-23, which really didn’t reflect Denver’s domination of the first quarter.

Leading the way? Carmelo Anthony, who averaged 14.5 points against the Lakers in the regular season, but in the first quarter went for 16 on 7-of-8 shooting.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Nuggets Running Diary 1′

Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 7

Lakers FansRead about the Lakers vs. Rockets Game 7 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Game 1
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 4, 2009
Lakers 92, Rockets 100: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 6, 2009
Lakers 111, Rockets 98: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 8, 2009
Lakers 108, Rockets 94: Postgame

Game 4
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 10, 2009
Lakers 87, Rockets 99: Postgame

Game 5
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 12, 2009
Lakers 118, Rockets 78: Postgame

Game 6
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 14, 2009
Lakers 80, Rockets 95: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Rockets: Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Rockets: Brooks, Battier, Artest, Scola, Hayes

Early Signs To Watch For
First of all, look to see how the game’s called. If the Rockets are being called for pushing and reaching in the paint, it’s a really good sign for L.A. Second, look to see how Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant try to get Andrew Bynum activated on offense. Easy looks for ‘Drew early on always benefit his total game. Finally, pay attention to Gasol’s work on the glass … If he’s active on the glass, L.A.’s in good shape, because that signifies his overall activity level. But more than anything else, Game 7 is about talent and execution, because the effort’s going to be there for both team.

Undefeated in White
L.A. has yet to lose this season when wearing the Sunday and holiday white jerseys. FYI.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 7′

Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 6

LakersRead about the Lakers vs. Rockets Game 6 as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Game 1
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 4, 2009
Lakers 92, Rockets 100: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 6, 2009
Lakers 111, Rockets 98: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 8, 2009
Lakers 108, Rockets 94: Postgame

Game 4
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 10, 2009
Lakers 87, Rockets 99: Postgame

Game 5
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 12, 2009
Lakers 118, Rockets 78: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Rockets: Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Rockets: Brooks, Battier, Artest, Scola, Hayes

Shannon Brown Pregame
Quick … Who’s leading the NBA in postseason 3-point field goal percentage? Um, Chauncey Billups? (nope, third) … Mike Bibby? (no, fourth) … Eddie House? (uh uh, seventh). It’s Shannon Brown, who’s nailed 10-of-16 bombs from deep for a 62.5 percent success rate (Trevor Ariza’s in fifth, by the way, shooting 53.1 percent). I spent a few minutes with Brown in the locker room before the game, and he first credited his teammates with getting him open shots, and rightfully so. While he said his stroke feels fantastic, he also made sure to credit each one of L.A.’s coaches (he named each individually) with helping him maintain confidence to take the shot when he’s open. Luckily for L.A., he’s been listening.

Adelman: All about “Activity”:
I asked Rockets head coach Rick Adelman why Houston got fewer good looks in Game 5 than in Game 4, and he said it was L.A.’s activity more than any switch in scheme or adjustment. Basically, the Lakers worked harder to get in lanes and contest shots, and Houston had trouble dealing with it.

ScolaFirst Quarter
12:00 Loved the short National Anthem. Always a boost. Alas, keep an eye on the first five minutes, because in Game 3, L.A. led 13-5 at that point. In Game 4, it was 12-4 Rockets.

11:20 L.A. could have had an open alley-oop to Bynum, but Ariza threw a bounce pass instead that went out of bounds. Scola responded with a jumper and then two free throws after Bryant missed a J, and finally capped a personal 6-0 run with a turnaround move on Bynum (9:59).

9:22 L.A.’s first point was an Ariza free throw, which Brooks countered with a floater and Artest a breakaway dunk when Gasol turned it over.

7:28 Really? Anyone else shocked that the Lakers were again unable to match Houston’s opening salvo? With the energy level extremely high for Houston on defense, L.A. started 0-of-6, including two really good looks from Bynum and four misses from Bryant. The Rockets had no such trouble in nailing 5-of-8 shots to open the quarter, including a Brooks three that forced a Phil Jackson timeout. Rockets 13, Lakers 1 (no typo).

7:20 Jackson inserted Walton and Odom in for Ariza and Bynum, but Fisher missed an open three and Scola first spun around Odom for a deuce, then turned another Fisher miss into another bucket in the paint. That gave Scola 10 points, and the Rockets a 17-1 lead.

6:20 Bryant’s basline drive made it 17-3, a point better than Houston’s 17-4 start in Game 4. But Scola scored again, easily, in the paint, and Gasol missed an open jumper. L.A. couldn’t get close despite having plenty of open looks.

2:46 Even Chuck Hayes (averaging 0.9 points in the postseason) was getting into it for Houston, but the Lakers finally hit some shots (three straight) to make it 23-9.

1:59 The good news for L.A.? Bryant started going to the hoop and Fisher hit his first jumper after three misses to make it 23-9, which was three points less than their Game 4 deficit at this time.

1:23 Farmar immediately contributed with a three, but Scola continued his career best quarter with another jumper. How about 14 points for Scola on 6-of-9? Yikes.

0:14.3 Another triple from Farmar cut the deficit to 12 … Think Jackson’s staying with the UCLA product? He was the key in L.A.’s 12-6 run to close a quarter down 27-15 after at one point being down 21-3.

L.A. hit just 6-of-20 shots (30 percent), while Houston made twice that, 12-of-21 (57 percent), numbers that should start to even out as the game progresses.

KobeSecond Quarter
11:22 Good start for the Lakers, who got a Bryant bucket and two Brown free throws (thanks to an Odom swat of Scola) to cut the lead to eight.

9:50 Big counter from the Rockets, who watched Battier and Artest nail back-to-back threes to erase L.A.’s solid open.

5:50 Von Wafer’s three followed a Lowry hoop to give Houston a 42-25 lead, its biggest of the quarter.

5:35 Bryant, fresh off the bench, stuck a jumper. He’ll need a few more of those. The rhythm of the game has turned from all Houston to back and forth, but the Lakers clearly need to do more than trade hoops.

2:50 Bryant’s been able to drive by Artest all series, and he did it again to get a Lakers layup. L.A. may have built on it as Kobe swatted a Battier layup attempt and got Ariza an open three, but Ariza missed … Then Bynum missed his follow up to an offensive board, rushing the shot with his left hand, and Houston got another Scola hoop at the other end (18 points).

2:03 Bryant drew a technical foul for making contact with Artest after Ron-Ron fouled him. It was hard to see what happened from here, but Artest reacted as if Bryant had given him a Mike Tyson right hook. After Brooks hit the T, Bryant made his two free throws, and seemed to settle matters with a conversation with Artest. It appeared as if Bryant were trying to get Artest’s hands off him, and he caught Ron lightly on the face with his arm? You tell me.

0:40.3 Ariza drew a blocking foul on Hayes (his third) but missed 1-of-2 from the line, L.A’s fourth miss (two each for him and Odom). Farmar then fouled Brooks near midcourt, and he hit both to put Houston up 15.

0:26.7 L.A. should hope the Rockets keep Artest on him at times … Bryant blew by him for a two-handed dunk.

0:03.0 An end-of-shot clock three from Brooks was just about fitting for that first half, and it put Houston up 52-36 at the break. In Game 4, Houston led 54-36 in a relatively similar game. The Rockets shot 51 percent to L.A.’s 31 percent, made five threes and turned the ball over just four times.

ArtestThird Quarter
11:37 Some good ball movement earned Fisher an open three, but he missed again … Ariza made up for it, however, with a steal and two-handed breakaway dunk at the other end.

10:20 Big hit from Ariza, from downtown, and L.A. had the quarter’s first five points. Ariza then drew a pushing foul on Artest at the other end, and No. 3 had in two minutes changed the tune of the game, because Gasol nailed a lefty hook at the other end to cut the lead to nine.

9:16 Gasol’s tap out on a missed triple fell into Bryant’s hands, and a blocking foul earned two free throws that made it 52-45. The TV timeout had preceded the free throws, which meant the crowd wasn’t able to get as elevated since Bryant hit both.

7:03 Bryant for three, end of shot clock, and a Gasol layup cut the lead to only four. L.A. had basically earned itself a whole new ball game.

6:09 Solid couple of defensive plays from Bynum, including a contest of Scola and rebound … Then two Bryant FTs cut the lead to 54-52, a 16-2 run to start the quarter.

4:20 The tenor of the game had changed, but in case anyone thought the resilient Rockets were going to lay down, they reeled off an 8-2 run to go back up by eight, capped by a corner three from Brooks.

3:40 Jackson has to like how aggressive Bryant’s been going to the hoop, which again resulted in two free throws. He hit again in the paint a possession later to get to 27 points on 20 shots.

1:19 Farmar, who came in around the 4-minute mark, nailed a corner three to cut the lead to five before Artest and Gasol traded hoops.

0:05.4 A momentum changing shot went down for Scola off the pick and pop, getting him to 24 points and giving Houston a 9-point lead thanks to the final four points of the quarter. L.A. unwisely didn’t take two open shots that would have given them a 2-for-1, and had to settle for a heaved three from Farmar that had no chance. Still, the visitors shaved nine points off the halftime lead.

BryantFourth Quarter
10:32 A personal foul (reaching in) and missed jumper got Vujacic on the bench immediately in favor of Shannon Brown, who joined Farmar, Walton, Odom and Gasol on the floor. Odom followed a Gasol miss with a two-handed dunk to make it 7-point game.

8:48 A tad surprising that Kobe stayed on the bench after a timeout, but Artest took a terrible jumper to give L.A. the ball back still down seven. Artest is 5-of-14 on the evening, and disturbingly for Houston, he’s not using his size advantage to get on the block, instead settling for J’s.

7:33 What do I know? Artest responded with a top-of-the-key three. Eh, on second thought, he’s still hurting Houston with all the perimeter action.

6:56 Big momentum play for Landry, who threw in a hammer dunk in the lane plus the harm to put Houston up 81-71 (missed the FT). Meanwhile, Bryant was back in for L.A., set to make a final push for the purple and gold.

4:56 A kicked ball wasn’t called on Houston, giving Farmar a turnover and the Rockets possession up nine.

3:39 Big shot from Brooks, a pull up in the lane, which preceded a big play: Battier clearly hit Bryant’s wrist on a three, but no call was given. That set the score at 86-75 as time began to run out on L.A.’s comeback attempt.

2:12 A hard to understand foul on Odom preceded a Bryant hoop (31 points), but L.O. fouled out trying to block Brooks at the other end and the game was officially over (14-point lead).

0:00 Want some good news, Lakers fans? Game 7 is in STAPLES.

Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 5

FleaRead about the Lakers vs. Rockets game as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Game 1
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 4, 2009
Lakers 92, Rockets 100: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 6, 2009
Lakers 111, Rockets 98: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 8, 2009
Lakers 108, Rockets 94: Postgame

Game 4
Lakers – Rockets Running Diary, May 10, 2009
Lakers 87, Rockets 99: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Rockets: Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum*
Rockets: Brooks, Battier, Artest, Scola, Hayes
*Phil Jackson had implied that Lamar Odom would start if he were active, but nope … It’s Andrew Bynum. Surprise, surprise.

Flea Hits National Anthem on Bass
Domination. We’ll try to get that video later, but here’s a link to Flea’s Western Conference Finals performance from last season, when he played his trumpet.

Odom Update: TNT’s Craig Sager is saying that it’s doubtful for Odom to play, which he ascertained by talking to Odom on the court during warmups. Odom then had conversations with L.A.’s team Dr. and athletic trainer Gary Vitti, which apparently didn’t go well.
**Update: Odom checked in with 4:22 left in the first … So, never mind.

Andrew BynumFirst Quarter
11:36 Literally the best play that L.A. could have run to get Bynum involved immediately: an alley-oop from Gasol. If you’re L.A., use your height.

10:24 Bryant’s bad pass resulted in Artest’s put-back at the other end, but Bynum scored again from Bryant on the next possession. Generally Bynum’s activity level on defense grows with early offense…

8:37 A Brooks layup gave the young point guard two early buckets, and his teammates weren’t missing either, nailing 6-of-9 to put 13 quick points on the board. L.A. has to get used to Houston’s small lineup with two seven footers on the floor … After all, it took three quarters to adjust to with Odom out there.

7:05 Some good defensive energy produced two Gasol blocks on one possession (three total already) and allowed L.A. to get within 13-11 thanks to four points from Bryant and an Ariza free throw. Credit the Rockets for hitting some tough shots, but L.A.’s shown that it won’t be conceding anything easily.

5:19 Houston’s first turnover, an Ariza pick from Brooks, resulted in a two-handed jam from the UCLA product to cap a 6-0 run and tie the game at 18. It’s a different Ariza from the one that casually turned the ball over to start Game 4.

3:11 Bryant opened the game 4-of-5, primarily on shots in the lane, which is surely a good sign for the Lakers. Houston has not a single shot blocker, and penetration’s been an available early option.

1:27 I had just leaned over to tell Ty Nowell this: “Odom’s not moving well, look at him laboring up the court.” Then he nailed a three to put L.A. up 27-20.

0:53.0 Gasol’s angry face after he smashed a two-handed dunk after spinning around Scola was a welcome sign to Lakers fans.

0:00 Quite a bit more pleasing for the assembled was Farmar’s buzzer beating triple from 30 feet, which followed Ariza’s transition three to cap a 23-6 L.A. run that had the home team up 35-24 after one.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 5′