Archive for the 'In-Game' Category

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Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 4

LakersRead 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

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

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

KobeFirst Quarter
12:00 As both teams continued to warm up, Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutumbo strode out of the locker room to a very nice ovation from the home fans. It’s certainly a shame to see over 14 feet of men in suits and ties, useless to their team on the court. Perhaps more of a shame is that Yao, so often a victim to lower leg injuries due in large part to his 7-6 frame, will have to deal with another offseason replete with question marks regarding his durability after he was perhaps two games away from making it through a fully healthy season.

11:45 Exactly the kind of play that should let the Lakers know Houston means business came immediately: Scola stepped out hard to contest a pass to Ariza, who fumbled it away to Artest for a fastbreak layup. Houston already had more FB points than in Game 3.

9:30 Houston was very active and aggressive on defense, forcing L.A. into four contested jumpers, all of which missed. Meanwhile, Battier hit a jumper and a three to give Houston a 7-0 lead.

8:31 Bryant crossed over Battier and pulled up for L.A.’s first points, which took 3:30 to get, before pulling up again in the lane for four straight points. Battier, however, responded with another triple, and it was 12-4.

6:16 Battier, who’d made just 3-of-12 threes (25 percent), nailed his third of the quarter to put Houston up 17-4. Ariza followed with his third turnover of the quarter, halfway to L.A.’s Game 3 turnover total by himself.

3:30 Houston can’t miss, getting four straight long jumpers from Brooks (2), Artest and Scola to go up 26-9. There’s a very clear element of “You’d better respect us, it’s not just Yao” from the Rockets.

2:32 With Dick Bavetta in the house, you knew the whistles weren’t going to be blown too often, and Houston was taking full advantage by pushing the Lakers all over the place. Bryant grew frustrated enough to draw a technical that would put Houston up by 15.

2:03 That’s something L.A. should milk like a cow: Gasol isolated on Scola. Easy bucket.

0:00 Bryant missed a buzzer-beating shot that allowed Houston to take a 29-16 lead into the second quarter. Two things explained Houston’s dominance: 1) More active defense; 2) More open looks on offense. It’ll be tough for the Rockets to keep up that high pace, but clearly the Lakers have to change their approach to the game.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 4′

Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 3

HoustonRead 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

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Derek Fisher*, Sun Yue
Rockets: Joey Dorsey, Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo
*Fisher was suspended for one game following his elbow of Luis Scola in Game 2.

Pregame Video
After hearing from Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, we spent a few minutes with assistant coach Jim Cleamons to get prepped for Friday night’s 6:30 p.m. L.A. tipoff against Houston in Game 4. Clem addressed L.A.’s need for an aggressive Pau Gasol (”the entire team wants Pau to be aggressive at times”) and spoke about how the Lakers can improve upon what they’ve been doing.

Brown, Farmar To Fisher: “We got you”
Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar preempted any need for Derek Fisher to put down words of wisdom heading into a game for which the veteran is suspended with a simple, collective phrase: “We got you.” Though L.A.’s offense will just as readily call upon Kobe Bryant, Sasha Vujacic and Lamar Odom to handle the ball, Brown and Farmar will surely see an increase in minutes in Fisher’s absence, and both said they’re confident and excited to help their team … And to gain the approving nod of their captain in the process.

Starters
Lakers: Farmar, Bryant, Ariza, Odom, Gasol
Rockets: Brooks, Battier, Artest, Scola, Yao

KobeFirst Quarter
12:00 The Rockets put out free Toyota t-shirts (that also mentioned the Rockets) … But only covered the length of the court in the lower bowl. In related news, TV cameras shoot along the length of the court. Meanwhile, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child (the one you don’t remember) sang the anthem, and while her voice is obviously quite good, the volume needed to come down about three levels. At the other end of the spectrum, Houston’s pregame video was tight, showcasing some serious graphical work.

11:51 Do teams not scout this play, or what? The alley-oop back pick works nearly every time for L.A., and this time saw Odom throw down a lofted Ariza pass. Yao then had his pocket picked by Farmar, before the Spaniard hit a 15-foot jumper over Yao, and Bryant a jumper over Battier to put L.A. up 6-0.

9:36 Bryant’s three-pointer pushed him past Larry Bird to 6th place on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list.

9:13 Back-to-back deep jumpers saw nothing but net from Kobe, the first a three-pointer in Artest’s face (Ron switched the Odom pick), and L.A. was up 11-4. Odom’s hoop a minute later found the Lakers up 13-5 on 6-of-8 shooting, and it was all coming quite easily on offense for the purple and gold.

7:10 Houston was having trouble getting good shots until Battier hit a three that preceded one from Artest, quickly pulling Houston back into the game at 13-11. We know that Artest isn’t a great perimeter shooter, but he’s been one in this series.

5:25 How did Houston stay in the game? Threes, hitting their third straight (Brooks) to tie things at 18. L.A. did answer with a layup from Odom and dunk from Ariza, Trevor’s courtesy of a terrific effort play from Farmar. Meanwhile, Bryant hit over Yao and around Battier, his fifth make in six shots. The “You can’t guard me” didn’t come out of his mouth, but everyone heard it.

2:47 The first timeout came with L.A. shooting 66 percent (12-of-18), signifying one thing: Houston hasn’t been able to stop L.A.’s starters for two straight games. Bryant had 11 and Odom eight, while Farmar had three assists without a turnover, and Jackson kept the starters on floor with L.A. up 26-20.

1:23 Yao hit his third shot of the quarter and second in a row to cap a 6-0 Rockets run that tied the game. He’s getting better post position on Pau, and the Rockets are doing a better job of feeding him than in Game 2.

0:22.0 Gasol hit another jumper over Yao to follow a Farmar dunk in transition, but you have to give Yao the center matchup after Pau dominated him in Game 2. Ming scored eight points with two boards, Gasol four and two. Overall, it was a very effective offensive quarter for the Lakers, who shot 61 percent for 30 points, but Houston also made a wide variety of shots to get 28 of their own. The good news for L.A.? The game was played at its pace.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 3′

Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 2

Lamar OdomRead 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

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison*, Sun Yue
Rockets: Joey Dorsey, Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo
*Luke Walton’s active for the first time since Game 4 of the Utah series when he injured his left ankle.

Losing A Good Thing?
For whatever reason, the 2008-09 Lakers have at times needed a reason to bring their best effort, like: Proving that they can beat Boston; proving that they can beat Boston IN Boston; becoming the first team to beat Cleveland at home; or beating the Spurs and Rockets on the road after a few losses. For whatever reason, Game 1 against the Rockets didn’t seem to bring the sense of urgency that L.A. can often win without … And it cost them. Yet, perhaps the anger/annoyance that resulted from Monday’s loss is the best thing that could have happened to the Lakers … If the team had managed a fourth quarter comeback after a sluggish first three periods, would they have really learned a lesson, or would Phil Jackson’s squad have once again figured it could always get by in the end? We’ll see momentarily exactly how the purple and gold were affected.

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom*, Gasol
Rockets: Brooks, Battier, Artest, Scola, Yao
*Odom replaces Andrew Bynum among L.A.’s starters, which we wrote about HERE.

Kobe BryantFirst Quarter
12:00 The man in the center of L.A.’s pregame huddle, Lamar Odom, walked a good seven city blocks from his downtown place to the arena tonight. In related news, it was hot out today. Good thing Odom’s is a physical freak, and doesn’t seem to get tired. The bottom line with him starting is he’s simply playing better basketball than Andrew Bynum, in addition to the points we linked to before.

11:44 Is Fisher hitting a perimeter jumper a harbinger for the evening? Only 47:16 remaining to find out. Another good sign? The best play-by-play/analyst combo in the business is back in the house: TNT’s Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins. Fortunately, I remembered my headphones so I can listen to the call on the press row monitors.

10:00 Gasol watched Bryant nail a jumper a possession earlier, ran down the court and swatted Brooks in the lane, then hit a turnaround jumper on Yao. Next came another jumper from Bryant, and L.A. was 4-for-4. Next into the action was Ariza, with a powerful flush in Scola’s face to put L.A. up 10-6 as the purple and gold remained perfect from the field.

7:08 Lakers on fire. Entirely fluid, entirely silky on offense, with a Gasol dunk from Odom and a step-back J from Kobe to put L.A. up 16-8 on the heels of some active pressure defense. “A much different team than we saw in Game 1,” said Doug Collins, TNT’s analyst.

6:38 Artest, who hit quite a few end-of-shot clock shots in Game 1, hit another, from three, but Bryant immediately answered at the other end to get to 10 points (on pace for 80).

5:08 As I watched Pau Gasol streak ahead of the pack, catch and flush an alley-oop from Odom, Ty pointed out that Yao was dragging several feet behind the entire fastbreak off a turnover (Ming played 40 minutes on Monday). Though Scola hit a jumper, Ariza and Bryant nailed back-to-back triples that put L.A. up 29-16.

Flame Throwing Early: That was 29 points in eight minutes for L.A. on 86 percent shooting (13-of-15). Good post on Ty’s twitter from a fan: “Shane Battier better stop, drop and roll.” Clearly his hand in the face defense wasn’t doing much to Kobe, who had 13 points. Meanwhile, Harlan and Collins dominating the call.

2:42 Gasol spent the last two days talking about how aggressive he’d be against Yao, and he’s sure proven it in the first quarter. First came a beautiful spin move in the lane that finished with a big slam, then another spin move off the baseline that drew Yao’s second foul and gave Gasol 11 points to just two for Yao. Lakers by 15, as Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar checked in off the bench.

1:21 As soon as Yao sat down, Houston reeled off a 7-0 run that Gasol stopped with a tip in to join Bryant with 13 points. Interestingly, it was Josh Powell and not Bynum that came in for Gasol (Houston was really small with Scola and Landry at the four and five). Alas, two Walton free throws and Kobe’s seventh make in 11 attempts (15 points) put L.A. up 39-25.

In short, the Lakers controlled the pace, got a lot of good looks out of their offense, and nailed 72.7 percent of their attempts (16-of-22). Houston shot well also (10-of-18, 55 percent), but it didn’t matter. The Lakers handled the glass (10-3), and to me the biggest difference was Gasol’s aggressive nature, which produced a 5-of-5, three rebound, 13-point effort that was crucial.

Continue reading ‘Lakers – Rockets Running Diary 2′

Lakers – Rockets Running Diary

LakersRead 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.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton*, Sun Yue
Rockets: Joey Dorsey, Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo
*Walton sprained his ankle in Game 4 against Utah, partially tearing the deltoid ligament. He’ll be a game time decision for Wednesday’s game.

Phil Jackson Pregame
Jackson talked about Kobe’s health (“He’s fine”), Walton being inactive, LeBron earning the MVP (deserving in a tight race) but not too much about the Houston Rockets, whom the Lakers happen to be playing at 7:30 p.m.

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

Kobe BryantFirst Quarter
12:00 Tommy Shaw from the band Styx performed the National Anthem, which worried Ty (he thought they were from Canada). Nope. They hail from Chicago … Don’t worry Ty. Meanwhile, TNT’s broadcast played 50 Cent’s “Get Up” as the intro to the game, a song we approve of on Lakers.com.

11:35 Bynum’s first foul came early, on a questionable decision with ‘Drew trying to deflect an entry pass. It looked like he got ball, and though Yao collected and got a free shot up, he was awarded the foul. Bryant, however, answered with an 18-foot jumper to tie the score.

9:43 Bynum picked up his second foul, which would hurt most teams significantly but in this case simply allowed Lamar Odom to see the floor.

8:00 Bryant’s driving layup on Battier, which appeared quite easy, broke a run of five straight misses for the Lakers and tied the score at six. The teams had combined to miss 10 of the first 16 field goal attempts. Meanwhile, on the TV (headphones attached), I recognized Suresh from “Heroes” doing the voice over for a Land Rover commercial. Strange pairing, right?

7:11 Ty made up for his Styx mistake (he was thinking of Rush) with a good basketball point: Gasol’s been sprinting right past Yao in the open court. Ariza missed him on the last possession, but that’s something upon which to keep an eye. Moments later, Odom streaked past Houston’s entire team after grabbing Bryant’s steal of Yao, another key we’ll have to track.

4:45 Nothing emphasized L.A.’s rust having not played for a week more than Fisher’s air ball three. Phil Jackson mentioned at practice that it’s hard for players to keep a good shooting rhythm with time off, and we’ve seen that early with L.A.’s 5-of-15 from the field. Nonetheless, Ariza’s two free throws allowed Houston only a 13-12 lead as Artest had started 3-of-3 from the field.

2:54 Brooks capped a quick 6-0 run with a driving layup that made it 19-12, cementing the idea that Houston was the sharper team to start things off. Bryant, who skipped his usual pregame shooting routine to rest a sore throat, looked to be biding his time a bit, and Sasha Vujacic and Shannon Brown checked in for Ariza and Fisher. Energy boost? Perhaps in a bit, but Vujacic’s first jumper was the seventh straight that L.A. missed, until Gasol stuck a dead-on jumper.

1:06 Vujacic, employing his hyper-active pressure defense, forced Von Wafer to travel, then hit a layup at the other end. You can bet your butt that Vujacic pumped his fist a few times, and to be fair, it was exactly the energy boost L.A. needed. Moments later, Yao picked up his second foul to keep possession for the Lakers, but Vujacic missed an open corner three with about five seconds remaining in the quarter to allow Houston to keep its 21-18 lead.

0:04.3 During a timeout caused by some Battier blood (Vujacic caught him above the eye after tipping out a missed shot), TNT analyst Doug Collins had this to say: “(The Lakers are) getting their basketball legs back again, and I expect them to get better as the games go on.” He pointed out that Houston’s not good at coming from behind and that it was extremely important for them to get off to a good start before L.A. started clicking. It’s a good point, as clearly the Lakers were sluggish to start the game before picking things up in the final two minutes.
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Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 5

Game 5Read about the Lakers vs. Jazz 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 – Jazz Running Diary, April 19, 2009
Lakers 113, Jazz 100: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 21, 2009
Lakers 119, Jazz 109: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 21, 2009
Lakers 86, Jazz 88: Postgame

Game 4
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 23, 2009
Lakers 108, Jazz 94: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton*, Sun Yue
Jazz: Morris Almond, Kyrylo Fesenko, Kosta Koufos
*Walton sprained his ankle in Saturday’s win, partially tearing the deltoid ligament. He’ll be re-evaluated in a week.

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom and Gasol
Jazz: Williams, Brewer, Kirilenko, Boozer and Okur

Pau gasolFirst Quarter
12:00 Guess where the “Utah Sucks!” chants start? Um, yup, the 300 level. Nice. Meanwhile, “I Love L.A.” isn’t necessarily as much of a adrenaline pusher as “Welcome to the Jungle,” but it’s definitely better than Utah’s four songs in one minute.

11:13 Bryant countered a Brewer jumper with one of his own. Kobe missed his first look in his 5-for-24 Game 3 and made his first in his 16-of-24 Game 4. Just saying. Gasol followed with a hoop, though Utah got a good sign when Okur made a jumper (he was 0-for-3 on Saturday).

8:10 Noticing that Boozer had gotten switched over on him, Bryant immediately burst past the power forward, took off for a big dunk and drew a foul in the process. His two free throws made it 8-6 Lakers.

6:58 Okur did what he did in the regular season by nailing a three. Looked like the Lakers would have to guard the Turk, who nonetheless saw Paul Millsap come off the bench.

5:05 Maybe that would get ‘em going? Bryant tossed an alley-oop to Gasol in transition, which produced the crowd’s biggest yell and preceded an Odom triple that put L.A. up 15-14. Fisher then capped a 7-0 run courtesy of Gasol’s hand off, and the Lakers had a lil’ mojo goin’.

2:58 Yet Utah answered with two quick buckets, and the crowd volume was somewhere like what the noise level would be in a room full of high schoolers taking the SATs.

1:18 L.A.’s sixth turnover of the quarter allowed Brewer a breakaway dunk that put Utah up 22-21 moments after Ariza swatted Williams to produce and Odom fastbreak layup.

0:44.0 I guess his ankle’s feeling OK … Ariza followed an Odom miss with a furious two-handed dunk.

0:24.4 Gasol made a great play, saving a lob pass with one hand and directing it to Vujacic, which the Slovenian used to hit an open three. Williams, however, cradled the ball back and forth as only he can before pulling up for a game-tying jumper heading into the second quarter.

As a whole, it wasn’t the best quarter for the Lakers, who picked their spots on offense and conceded a few too many open looks on defense, but like in games one and two, they seemed to possess an ability to take their game to a level that Utah couldn’t match outside of Salt Lake City.
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Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 4

LakersRead about the Lakers vs. Jazz 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 – Jazz Running Diary, April 19, 2009
Lakers 113, Jazz 100: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 21, 2009
Lakers 119, Jazz 109: Postgame

Game 3
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 21, 2009
Lakers 86, Jazz 88: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Jazz: Kosta Koufos, Morris Almond, Kyrylo Fesenko

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom* and Gasol
Jazz: Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur
*It’s expected that Odom will start since Okur’s listed as a starter.

Pregame Thoughts
- It would appear that Jackson’s starting Lamar Odom as Jerry Sloan has Mehmet Okur in his Jazz lineup for the first time this series, an interesting development about which we’ll be able to reflect after seeing what Andrew Bynum’s able to do off the bench. How L.A.’s bench performs without Odom will be of interest as well, though Jackson’s expected to again shorten his rotation (Josh Powell and Jordan Farmar were DND-CD’s in Game 3). Yet in his pregame comments, Jackson said that part of the reason behind starting Odom has nothing to do with Okur. Rather, Odom simply has more familiarity playing against the Jazz generally speaking, having gone to six games with this team last season and earning the complete trust of his teammates in the process.

- Odom, as usual, was the guy keeping everybody loose in the locker room – he could be seen talking, at one point, to each of his Lakers teammates. There’s a reason the guy that everybody loves is in the middle of the pregame huddle.

Shannon BrownFirst Quarter
12:00 The noise level hadn’t dropped off from Thursday evening’s game … And neither had the number of (superfluous) high notes that the National Anthem singer attempted to hit. The young man singing on this occasion looked to be about 12 years old, and we’ll give him the edge over the lady from Game 3. By the way, the biggest downside to being in Utah instead of L.A. today is that I missed Spencer and Heidi’s wedding (sigh).

Also, the Jazz played four songs in the final two minutes before tip: “Let It Rock,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” some random techno bit, and “Jump.” Talk about superfluous.

11:44 Kobe Bryant = made jumper. That’s just one shot, but I think we all knew Bryant was going to be aggressive early on.

9:37 Bryant nailed a pull-up jumper on Brewer from the top of the key, then countered Boozer’s jumper with another from the top of the key. The second, however, also produced a foul on Brewer, and went in off glass.

7:27 L.A. was getting great looks thanks to its ball movement and because Utah was doubling Gasol, but Fisher missed two open threes, and Ariza one as Utah went up 10-7 on a Williams’ triple and two free throws. Bryant did answer with his fourth make in as many shots, and Utah pulled a hobbled-looking Okur for Paul Millsap.

5:58 The Lakers took a timeout down 14-9, with all nine points coming on Bryant jumpers. Odom had three boards, but Ariza*, Gasol and Fisher had produced nothing, literally, on the stat sheet. Out of the break, Kobe hit another jumper to go 5-of-6, equaling the number of field goals he hit in L.A.’s 88-86 loss. Meanwhile, anyone who doubted Bryant heading into this game pounded their head on the table.
*One assist.

4:25 Bryant, using a pick from newly-entered Bynum, glided to the hoop for a layup. He’d scored 13 of L.A.’s 15 points, the other two coming on a Fisher jumper, to put L.A. up 1.

2:47 A sick, flu-infested pass from Walton allowed Bynum a two-handed dunk, and to ‘Drew’s credit, he’d established some solid low-post position.

1:44 We were (the opposite of) treated to the worst “We Will Rock You” (Queen) remix of all time by the Jazz Dancers. The arrangement alone would have caused Simon Cowell’s head to explode, and even Paula would have hated it. All negative. Meanwhile, 1-of-2 Fisher free throws made it 21-18 Jazz.

1:05 The group of Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic, Bryant, Luke Walton and Gasol played two consecutive excellent defensive possessions, causing two Jazz turnovers. Utah was able to convert its final two possessions of the quarter into hoops, however, while Brown’s charge and a Vujacic miss from the corner (in and out variety) allowed the Jazz a 25-20 lead.

Injury Update: John Ireland reported that Ariza sprained his ankle, though the starting small forward remained on the bench.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 4′

Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 3

Lakers FansRead about the Lakers vs. Jazz 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 – Jazz Running Diary, April 19, 2009
Lakers 113, Jazz 100: Postgame

Game 2
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 21, 2009
Lakers 119, Jazz 109: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Jazz: Mehmet Okur*, Kosta Koufos, Morris Almond
*Okur will miss his third straight playoff game with a strained right hamstring.

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Jazz: Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Andrei Kirilenko*, Carlos Boozer and Jarron Collins
*Kirilenko is starting in place of Kyle Korver for defensive purposes.

Pregame Thoughts
That Jerry Sloan would tweak his lineup at this stage of the season shows a certain sign of desperation … In other words, Utah had to shake something up to have a better chance to beat L.A. In that case, going defensive isn’t a bad idea in principle (with Kirilenko assigned to the hot shooting Ariza), but it’s also an idea that could backfire since Utah won’t get the bench boost it’s used to from the Russian. Furthermore, L.A. probably doesn’t want Ariza taking a great deal of perimeter shots, as it will focus on ball control and getting the rock down to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

GasolFirst Quarter
12:00 Left ear drum nearly pops during warmups. If the regular season game here in February was like a Metallica concert, this is closer to having Metallica play in your dorm room.

11:55 The noise level dropped off about 100 decibels when Kirilenko threw his opening touch into the crowd. But here’s what you should know about Utah’s crowd … When the ball went off Boozer’s leg out of bounds on Utah’s next possession, protests went up like it were a hugely obvious wrongful conviction in a Supreme Court trial. This will get worse, and makes the job much tougher on the referees.

9:36 While the Lakers had yet to get a good shot, turning the ball over twice, Kirilenko finished at the rim for a 4-0 lead that could have been 8-0 had Brewer and Williams not missed open looks.

8:17 However, some great ball movement resulted in a Fisher three as the Lakers began to settle down a bit, staving off the early Jazz charge with just a one-point deficit. Subsequently, Bynum, who’d committed a silly foul in the first minute, was charged with his second as Collins went up for a layup, and Odom checked in for the visitors.

7:03 Odom doesn’t wait long to make his presence felt, does he? A top-of-the-key three put L.A. up 10-7. The only other player that’s as good as Odom off the bench in the NBA is a healthy Manu Ginobili, and in these playoffs, the only guy even close is Jason Terry … And he only helps you on one side of the floor.

5:23 Did you know that if you foul somebody on an inbounds play before the pass is made, it’s two free throws? Fisher found out as Williams’ two shots made it 13-10 Jazz, which preceded a Boozer jumper and Millsap layup that capped a 10-0 run.

3:30 Fisher finally stopped the bleeding with a tough, contested, running banker in the lane that was of the no … no … no … yes variety. The Lakers were shooting only 25 percent to that point, 4-of-16, not quite as good as Thursday’s 18-for-21. Jazz 19, Lakers 12.

2:40 After a Boozer free throw, the Lakers starters were lucky to be down by just eight. They were relatively soft in the lane defensively, didn’t get great ball movement with the exception of a few plays and were short on most jumpers. Into the game came Shannon Brown and Luke Walton, joining Bryant, Gasol and Odom. It was Bryant who took the first shot, and was short for the fourth straight time.

0:47.7 Odom put a nice move on Millsap, didn’t get a foul call on his layup attempt but grabbed his own board and stuck it back to make it 24-17. Brewer answered with a jumper, and Walton missed good looks from three and in the lane, respectively, allowing Utah to take a 9-point lead into the second quarter. The good news for L.A. is they couldn’t have played much worse, and had 36 minutes to make up for it.

Boozer was terrific with nine points and 11 boards to lead the Jazz, while Bryant failed to score, Bynum had just two free throws and Gasol went 2-for-7. Odom was the only Laker to play well, and would remain on the floor alongside Brown, Sasha Vujacic, Walton and Bynum to open the second.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 3′

Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 2

lakersRead about the Lakers vs. Jazz 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: Running Diary and Postgame
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary, April 19, 2009
Lakers 113, Jazz 100: Postgame

Lakers Playoff Central
All you need to know about the 65-win Lakers can be found by clicking HERE.

Inactives
Lakers: D.J. Mbenga, Sun Yue
Jazz: Mehmet Okur*, Kosta Koufos, Morris Almond
*Okur will miss his second straight playoff game with a strained right hamstring.

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Jazz: Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver*, Carlos Boozer and Jarron Collins

Pregame Thoughts
Okur’s continued absence is certainly not a good sign for the Jazz, who really struggled with L.A.’s length – especially defensively – in game one. Click here for a picture of Okur testing the leg before the game.

In other news, the Lakers are hoping to keep Utah off the free throw line, in part by doing a better job on the defensive glass so as not to foul opponents on easy put-back layups. While L.A. would like to keep Deron Williams out of the lane, they realize that point guards around the league (just look at Tony Parker, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo or Chris Paul in the playoffs) can get into the lane no matter how good the on-ball defense is with the current interpretation of the rules.

GasolFirst Quarter
11:40 What’s the best way for Bynum to start his sixth game back from injury and second in the playoffs? A step-through dunk from Kobe would do just fine.

10:36 Ariza, who scored 10 points in Sunday’s first quarter, got all the way to the hoop and finished high off the glass before Gasol’s easy bucket put L.A. up 6-2.

9:11 A lefty hook from Bynum? Pretty stuff from L.A. on offense to start the game, who got a triple from Ariza, who had more space than a baby in first class. Williams managed a triple for the Jazz, who also got two jumpers from Brewer to hang in there.

7:22 L.A. was putting on some kind of offensive clinic, getting shots from wherever they wanted to open up 15-7. It doesn’t hurt to have Gasol, who spun right around Boozer for a two-handed dunk, and Bynum, who had his way in the lane with another close look at the rim.

With the Lakers flying high after a Fisher three-pointer, there was an interesting contrast in benches: Odom, Powell, Farmar, Walton, Vujacic, Morrison and Brown were all standing and clapping, while the Jazz bench was sitting rather silently.

4:50 Andrew Bynum: dominating. You know you’ve played well when Kobe waits for you after the other team calls time out, walks heartily towards you and hits you hard on the head. That’s Bryant’s “Yeah boy!” mode, which rightly rewarded Bynum’s 5-of-5 start that netted 10 points for the Lakers and delivered a 24-14 lead. L.A. made 11-of-13 shots to start the game, otherwise known as 84.6 percent. He also managed a swat of Williams and two rebounds, and had already surpassed his game one total of seven points.

2:42 The Lakers were clearly feeding off a great crowd, which was noticeably more fired up than they were on Sunday as the offensive display continued with threes from Fisher and Bryant and a swished J from Gasol that made it 32-19 L.A. That was a long sentence. Meanwhile, Jack Nicholson stood up for an extended and hearty standing ovation after L.A. posted a “Happy Birthday Jack!” graphic on the jumbotron.

2:20 As Bryant hit a jumper, the Lakers had literally hit their last 12 shots and 15-of-17 for the game. Things as hot as the Lakers in the first quarter: A full helping of Chipotle hot salsa on a burrito (like as much as they put in a chips/salsa combo, which destroyed the roof of my mouth yesterday); the Sahara desert; Heather Locklear (“Melrose Place” years); fire.

0:37.8 Gasol continued an excellent personal quarter by nailing his fourth shot in as many attempts to get to nine points, making him and Bynum a combined 9-of-9. Odom added a nasty dunk that delivered an amazing 18-of-21 quarter (85.7 percent) for 41 points, a season high for a quarter in both percentage and points. Utah, however, also shot well, making 57 percent of their shots including three triples to score 29 points of their own to keep the game within reach.

“We’re still in the ball game, but we need to do a better job of slowing them down,” said Jerry Sloan to TNT’s Craig Sager after the quarter.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 2′

Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 1

Staples CenterRead about the Lakers vs. Jazz 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.

Lakers Playoff Central
All you need to know about the 65-win Lakers heading into the playoffs can be found by clicking HERE.

Inactives
Lakers: D.J. Mbenga, Sun Yue
Jazz: Mehmet Okur*, Kosta Koufos, Morris Almond
*Okur strained his hamstring in last Monday’s victory over the L.A. Clippers and did not play in the second half or in the regular season finale against the Lakers.

Kobe BryantStarters
Lakers Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Jazz Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver*, Carlos Boozer and Jarron Collins
*Matt Harping started Tuesday’s regular season finale against the Lakers. Korver’s inclusion is interesting as Ariza will need to do as good a job as Sasha Vujacic in chasing the three-point shooting specialist around.

Phil Jackson Pregame
Jackson spent much of his seven-minute pregame media session talking about his championship rings, as this is the first playoff round he’s not worn the 2002 ring since 2003. Though he revealed that there’s little that hasn’t already been covered regarding the Jazz, he spoke briefly on the matchup as well. Click HERE for the audio.

Pau GasolFirst Quarter
11:45 Bryant’s pass intended for Ariza was picked off by Williams, who pushed the ball and found Boozer cutting to the hoop for the game’s first points. Bynum then missed a baby hook, and Williams got to the rim to put Utah up 4-0.

10:40 As Gasol answered with a baby hook shot over Boozer, we see L.A.’s game plan pretty clearly – pound the rock inside. L.A.’s next possession saw Ariza hit an open three, and the fact that he hesitated not a second was a good sign. Fisher’s second foul on Williams brought Shannon Brown off the bench very early, but moments later Ariza nailed another triple to make it 8-6 Lakers.

7:05 Ariza continued a fantastic personal start by using Gasol’s steal to streak ahead of the pack for a one-handed dunk to get to eight points to see L.A. take a 12-8 lead.

6:05 As the Jazz continued to focus on Bryant, Kobe found Brown for another role player triple, then swatted Williams in the lane and got the ball to Brown in the open court. Fatman Sr. in turn found a streaking Gasol for a dunk, and L.A. found themselves up 17-10 before the Jazz took a timeout.

A few things stood out about the first six minutes, most notably that as Utah paid so much attention to Bryant, he complied by being the only Laker not to take a shot in the first six minutes while racking up four assists. Meanwhile, Lamar Odom was poised to come off the bench in a few minutes. Impressive start.

4:55 Ariza with 10 points already? Gasol found him with a beautiful look for a wide open two-handed dunk. Utah did manage to counter with two straight hoops, one by Williams and the other set up by the outstanding point guard (six points, four assists).

3:20 Gasol continued to make Boozer look like a middle schooler just learning the defensive slide with a left-handed hook, and then sprinted ahead in transition once again to finish a Brown setup after Fatman Sr. swiped the ball away from Williams. Lakers 23, Jazz 15.

1:55 With a lineup of Brown, Vujacic, Bryant, Odom and Gasol, Bryant immediately cut right through the lane for a layup, and Vujacic earned an offensive foul on Boozer by adeptly staying ahead of the screen. That’s one of Sasha’s strengths of which Jackson’s quite fond.

0:53.0 “Two for two from downtown for Shannon Brown!” That was ABC’s Mike Breen telling the story of another Brown triple. How about this line from Brown in his first meaningful playoff minutes: Six points on 2-of-2 shooting (both threes), two assists and a steal.

0:00.9 A emphatic opening to L.A.’s playoff run concluded with Bryant’s technical free throw make and 1-of-2 from Odom to give L.A. a 30-19 lead after one. Gasol had rebounded a Jazz miss and outletted to Vujacic, who found Odom slicing to the hole as Williams attempted to draw a charge. But if that was a charge, Lakers.com doesn’t support a CT reality show. Sloan didn’t like the call, earning his tech.

Stat of the Quarter: L.A. shot 70.6 percent from the field on 12-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three (two each from Ariza and Brown).
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Jazz Running Diary: Game 1′

Lakers – Jazz Running Diary

LakersRead about the Lakers vs. Jazz 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.

Previous Lakers – Jazz Running Diary/Postgame
Lakers – Jazz Running Diary 1-2-2009
Lakers 113, Jazz 100: Postgame

Lakers – Jazz Running Diary 2-11-2009
Lakers 109, Jazz 113: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: D.J. Mbenga, Sun Yue
Jazz: Mehmet Okur*
*Okur strained his hamstring in last night’s victory over the L.A. Clippers and did not play in the second half. Clearly, this makes L.A.’s Bynum-Gasol combination even more difficult to contend with.

Starters
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Ariza, Gasol and Bynum
Jazz Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Matt Harpring, Carlos Boozer and Jarron Collins

Pregame
Not going to lie, I’m saving some of the stuff we got from Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson in case L.A. plays Utah in the first round. I’ll say that Sloan’s primary focus is on winning this game, which he knows will be tough without Okur unless L.A. both limits its starters minutes considerably and if the team plays quite poorly.

BynumFirst Quarter
11:24 Gasol found himself alone up the floor all alone for a dunk after Williams lost the ball near midcourt, and a dunk resulted. More accurately, Gasol sprinted quickly past everyone and earned the hoop.

8:39 Consecutive terrific plays gave the Lakers a 10-8 lead, the former being a Gasol baseline turnaround (swish) and the latter a Bynum swat of Williams in the lane that produced an Ariza dunk at the other end.

8:04 Gasol continued a strong start with another swish, boosting him to six points as Carlos Boozer had a lot of problems with Pau’s length. Of course, with Bynum back, Utah needs to put either Okur (if healthy) or Jarron Collins on him, leaving Boozer to contend with the seven footer. Clearly that’s not ideal.

6:25 Let’s keep going on L.A.’s size advantage: Fisher found Bynum in the paint for an alley-oop right over Collins and Brewer, a play reminiscent of January Andrew Bynum.

4:28 Any guesses for the first off the bench? A) Shannon Brown; B) Fatman Sr.; C) All of the above, they’re the same person. Yup, C. Alas, what we’re looking for here is how Brown does on D-Will.

3:22 Brown stayed right with Williams despite several pump fakes, but the Olympian still managed to hit a step back three. After a turnover at the offensive end for L.A., Brown sprinted back to swat a Boozer layup attempt, but Harpring was underneath for the putback. Utah’s run continued with a Collins layup that put the Jazz up 23-17. It was in that stretch that the Lakers’ seemed to struggle just a bit to match Utah’s energy. Remember, the Jazz are in desperation mode, where as the Lakers don’t have any real motivation.

1:01 What do NBA refs have against Lamar Odom? Odom, alongside Gasol, Brown, Walton and Vujacic, wasn’t given the call when getting hit on a drive (Gasol grabbed the rebound and drew a foul) but was then called for a foul of his own when Brevin Knight fell down. After Sunday’s game, Odom said he found it “100 percent funny” that he wasn’t getting much luck in that department, which is a more positive way to deal with it than many would have.

Back on the floor, Brown scored four straight points to close Utah’s lead to 27-25.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Jazz Running Diary’