Although Kobe agrees with the cliche that the NBA Finals separates the men from the boys, according to the MVP, this year’s youthful Lakers squad is just as prepared to bring a championship to L.A.
“You couldn’t tell if it’s the Finals or the First Round,” said the MVP. “Everybody’s the same old, same old.”
Bryant said that, along with fellow veteran Derek Fisher, he’s kept it short and sweet in the advice he’s offered to some of his younger teammates.
“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re not trying to execute something new under the sun; we’re also not doing something that we’ve never seen before,” said Bryant. “Just go out there and play, just do the things that you’ve been working on and preparing since training camp.”
While Fisher and Bryant are the only two Lakers who have won a championship, Luke Walton was on the roster when the team lost to the Pistons in 2004-05–a feeling he won’t soon forget.
Continue reading ‘Lakers Not Intimidated by Lack of Finals Experience’
The reign of the San Antonio Spurs is over after the Lakers mounted a furious rally from 17 points down to win 100-92. The victory not only eliminated the Spurs four games to one, but sent L.A. to their first NBA Finals in four seasons.
After the game, Coach Jackson made sure to congratulate the Spurs for a noble attempt at defending their championship trophy.
“First of all, let me say a heartfelt congratulations to the Spurs for their run this season,” said Jackson. “They put a lot of dedication into it. I know how difficult it is when you have gone through the duration of seasons they’ve had to keep that energy going.”
Although Jackson played Kobe more minutes than he would have liked, the Lakers needed every one of the MVP’s game-high 39 points.
Continue reading ‘WCF Game 5: Lakers vs. Spurs Post-Game’
What Went Right:
• Kobe led the team in scoring once again with 30, including a stretch in the fourth quarter in which he connected on four consecutive three pointers to nearly put the Lakers back in contention in a game that was quickly becoming a rout at the hands of the Spurs.
• Jordan Farmar continued his Western Conference Finals resurgence with another double-digit effort, this time scoring 10 points to lead all Lakers reserves, including 2-3 from beyond the arc.
• The Lakers showed they can handle the Spurs on the boards once again, beating the San Antonio in the rebounding department by three, 42-39, including an 8-3 edge in offensive rebounds.
• Vladimir Radmanovic played a solid all-around game, contributing nine points and nine rebounds. Moreover, the forward showed an increased willingness to drive his way to the hoop instead of simply relying on his three point shot.
• L.A. played a productive first quarter, matching San Antonio’s early intensity by outscoring them 24-21 in the first 12 minutes. However, the purple and gold were dominated in the second quarter, 28-15, giving the Spurs the lead for good.
Continue reading ‘WCF Game 3: What Went Right/Wrong’
The Lakers manhandled San Antonio in Game 2, outscoring the Spurs 55-34 in the second half on their way to a 101-71 win. For L.A., all 11 players who stepped foot on the floor scored, led by 22 from Kobe Bryant.
Lamar Odom rebounded from a poor Game 1 effort, scoring 20 points to go along with a team-high 12 rebounds. Meanwhile, the Lakers held the Spurs to just 35% shooting and only 26% from beyond the three point line.
After the game, Coach Jackson said the poor shooting night was a combination of the Lakers’ defense and the Spurs simply missing good opportunities.
“I think they had an off night,” said Jackson. “I think they had some tired legs and I think that’s what happens sometimes. You get to playing a lot of playoff games back-to-back. We’re every other day here in this situation. Kind of crept up on them perhaps.”
Spurs Coach Greg Popovic said that the second game in the series was the one in which fatigue finally caught up to them, not Game 1.
Continue reading ‘WCF Game 2: Lakers vs Spurs Post-Game’
With Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals set to tip off tomorrow night, the Lakers talked about some of the matchups they’ll see against San Antonio.
As always with the Spurs, the conversation centered around former NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan and what the team has to do to slow the center down.
“We’ve tried not to have to double team against Tim in the past knowing that so much of their offense relies on three point shooting from the perimeter and he’s a good passer that really breaks down the defense too,” said Coach Jackson. “But, there are always extenuating circumstances; people get in foul trouble and you have to start doing something to protect players to help your team out so there’s a chance we may have to double team him.”
Jackson said that the Lakers will initially throw Gasol at Duncan, adding that he expects the Spurs to go inside to Tim early and often.
“Without a doubt, he’s going to have to play him (Duncan),” said Jackson. “They’ll see what it’s like, they’ll test it out early to see if they can create a foul situation. That’s not unusual in that situation. We’ll probably do the same thing.”
Continue reading ‘Lakers Talk Matchups Against Spurs’
Before tonight’s pivotal Game 5 against the Jazz, Coach Jackson said that Kobe seemed buoyant and optimistic today following the team’s shootaround.
Although Bryant himself is likely the only person who knows exactly what he can and cannot do on the court, Jackson said, “He’ll figure out what he has to do to help us in this game,” revealing that he thinks the MVP guard will be OK.
Jackson also took time to address the playoff struggles of backup point guard Jordan Farmar, confirming that he has no plans to bench Jordan–one of the only players on the team to play in all 82 games. The Lakers coach expressed optimism that the UCLA alum will continue to come out aggressive on both ends of the floor.
Jackson said the key tonight for both teams is execution, especially after the Lakers suffered with that area of their game in overtime of Game 4.
“We just have to execute,” said Jackson. “It’s the team that’s going to execute the best that’s going to win tonight.”
The Lakers slaughtered the Spurs 106-85 in one of the most unexpectedly lopsided victories of the entire year. The Lakers held the Spurs to only 32 points in the second half, outscoring them by 21 to break the halftime tie.
“What a half,” said Jackson. “We came out and played an exceptional second half.”
Jackson credited the Lakers’ lockdown defense in the second half, particularly with regards to slowing San Antonio’s guards down—most notable Tony Parker’s penetration.
Derek Fisher—who was the primary defender on Parker—had an impressive game on both ends of the floor, finishing with 14 points and doing a good job of attacking the Spurs guard on offense.
Although he is playing injured, Jackson said that Derek told him that he “feels like he can start extending himself a little more.”
The Lakers’ bench played on of their best games in recent memory, dominating the Spurs’ starters in the third quarter en route to 39 points. Ronny Turiaf and Jordan Farmar led the way for the reserves, scoring 10 and 11 points respectively.
“They really shot the door on the game,” said Jackson in response to the bench effort. Jackson said that the Lakers reserves played exceptional basketball in the second half of today’s game—something the group did frequently during the first half of the season.
Continue reading ‘Lakers vs. Spurs Post-Game’
The Lakers won a thriller against Dallas, coming back from a 10 point halftime deficit to defeat the Mavericks 112-108. Lamar Odom had one of his best games in a Lakers uniform, leading the team with 31 points to go along with 10 rebounds and five assists. Although they played second fiddle to Odom tonight, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol also had outstanding games, each scoring 25 points a piece.
“In the third quarter, we made a couple plays that kept them in ball games, that were retaliated back after we brought the score to 2, 4, 6 or something,” said Jackson. “They broke it back out to 9 points or 11 points and we battled back. It was an important part of the game. Big shot, Sasha made a 4 point play and took a lot of momentum, a lot of energy out of them. The fourth quarter, we were able to do some things offensively that broke them down.”
Jackson praised the all-around effort of Odom, admitting that it was probably one of Lamar’s top three games since he took over as Lakers coach again prior to the 2005-2006 season.
“He had a remarkable game, 12-14,” said Jackson. “I remember him missing one shot, a jumper, but he was at the basket, and he played defense. He did a lot of things for the team tonight. It was a tough cover for Nowitzki coming back from that ankle injury, and he (Lamar) exploited it.”
Continue reading ‘Lakers vs. Mavericks Post-Game’
Before practice today, Kobe said that the Lakers’ bench is one of the best groups of reserves he’s ever played with and probably the strongest bench in the NBA right now. Coach Jackson echoed Bryant’s sentiment, noting that the key to a good bench is having players who could be starters accept reserve roles.
According to Jackson, the Lakers bench is filled with such players, referencing Jordan Farmar as a key role player who comes off of the bench for L.A. Jackson said that Farmar, Sasha, Ronny and Co. make up one of the NBA’s deepest benches, also praising the reserves in San Antonio, Utah and New Orleans.
Bryant also spoke about the team’s current nine-game winning streak–the longest since the 2003-04 season when the team last won a title. Kobe said that the team is playing with a strong purpose right now, fueled by a loss to the Atlanta Hawks at the beginning of the month that left a “bad taste” in the teams’ mouth according to #24.
The Lakers rallied from seven points down at halftime to topple the Blazers 96-83. Kobe Bryant scored 30 points to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists in leading the Lakers to their season high ninth straight victory.
“It took us a while to get going in the ball game,” said Coach Jackson. “They took the game up another level as far as physicality and I thought we weren’t ready to match that.”
Jordan Farmar also matched his career high in points tonight with 21, energizing the Lakers on both ends of the floor.
“He was a factor tonight,” said Jackson. “Sasha didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half, Jordan got us back in the ball game with some plays and helped us win that game tonight.”
“I think it just shows our depth and versatility,” said Farmar. “That’s what comes into play when the stars aren’t playing well or certain guys aren’t, it’s not their night, other guys can come and step up into place, and that’s just a great team.”
The Lakers needed every bit of juice provided by Farmar as Pau Gasol was unable to assert himself on offense, despite scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
“…Pau struggled tonight; he didn’t get as much activity, penetration, lay-up type of things that he got before,” said Jackson. “Kobe and Lamar were in foul trouble for the most part tonight so I had to limit his game, so we had to have other people help us tonight.”
Continue reading ‘Lakers vs. Blazers Post-Game’