Archive for the 'Preview' Category

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LAL’s Recent Road Success

The Lakers road struggles early in the season — as the team tried to figure out a new system without the benefit of training camp — were well pronounced, but in recent weeks, Mike Brown’s team seems to have figured something out.

In fact, L.A. has won six of its last seven games away from STAPLES Center:

4/4 @LAC: 113-108 W
4/1 @GSW: 104-101 W
3/21 @DAL: 109-93 W
3/20 @HOU: 107-104 L

3/14 @N.O.: 107-101 OT W
3/13 @MEM: 116-111 2OT W
3/9 @MIN: 105-102 W

The loss came at Houston when L.A. blew a 12-point lead with six minutes to play after playing a solid 3.5 quarters. Prior to the win at Minnesota, the Lakers also blew double-digit leads at Detroit and Washington, but controlled those games for the majority as well. Yet in general, the team’s play has been strong away from home, and has improved markedly on offense since the addition of Ramon Sessions.

All of this has brought the road record up to 12-15, still below what the team would like, but not too bad considering the 1-7 road start to the season, or the 6-14 mark before the recent string of success.

On the other hand, the team that for a while boasted NBA’s best home record, peaking at 19-2 thanks to a 10-game winning streak from Jan. 25 to March 18, has since played only .500 hoops at home, splitting eight games after a Friday loss to Houston.

Saturday evening’s game comes at Phoenix (28-27), the site of perhaps L.A.’s worst road performance of the season, a low-energy 102-90 loss on Feb. 19. The Suns lost Grant Hill, their best 1-on-1 defensive player, to injury and also come into the game off a loss, having fallen at Denver on Friday night.

Tip is at 7 p.m.; we’ll see you there.

LAL – NOH : Podcast Preview

With perhaps their five best players all dealing with injuries, the New Orleans Hornets may as well come into STAPLES Center in a medevac.

Eric Gordon (knee), Emeka Okafor (knee), Chris Kaman (flu), Jarrett Jack (ankle) and Trevor Ariza (ankle), a potential starting five at the beginning of the season, were all out of the team’s last game, a 99-93 loss at Portland, and the latter three are all questionable for Saturday’s 12:30 tip off against the Lakers.

But as Hornets.com’s Jim Eichenhofer explained to us, this hasn’t kept Monty Williams’ squad from playing hard, and thus making them anything but an automatic victory. L.A. certainly had to earn its March 14 overtime victory at New Orleans. In that one, L.A. trailed by 14 at halftime and needed three Kobe free throws on a late Gustavo Ayon foul at the three-point line just to force the overtime, where the two key plays came at the defensive end from Metta World Peace (see the [awesome] photo above).

To listen to Eichenhofer’s complete take on the Hornets and the matchup, click below:

Lakers – Warriors Preview Podcast

Other than professional wrestling and Lakers games, L.A. radio color commentator — and Showtime veteran — Mychal Thompson watches the Golden State Warriors more than anything else.

His son Klay, after all, happens to be a Warriors’ lottery pick who’s seen a recent uptick in minutes and responsibility after the big trade that send Monta Ellis and Epke Udoh to Milwaukee for (injured) Andrew Bogut and (traded for Richard Jefferson) Stephen Jackson.

We sat down with Thompson on the bus ride from the San Francisco airport to the team hotel to discuss the Warriors and Tuesday evening’s matchup in detail.

To listen, click play below:

LAL – Dallas Preview Podcast

With the Lakers in Dallas to push for a third consecutive win this season and 13th in 16 games against the Mavericks in the regular season, we dialed up Mavs TV play-by-play man Mark Followill to look deeper into Mark Cuban’s team.

The Mavs are hot, having won four straight games and five straight overall at home, riding Dirk Nowitzki’s 28.5 points per game over the last four and much-improved all-around game since the German started the season rather slowly. Followill updated us on the Mavs’ injury report*, discussed how to slow Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol with Brendan Hayward banged up and Tyson Chandler in New York, weighed in on Ramon Sessions and more:
*Brendan Haywood (sprained right knee) and Delonte West (fractured finger) are both out, while Shawn Marion (sore knee) is questionable but likely to try and play.

The Lakers are looking to rebound from a tough loss at Houston in which L.A. couldn’t hold onto a 12-point lead with six minutes to play.

To listen, click play below:

LAL – HOU: Preview Podcast

We spent some time picking the brain of Rockets.com’s Jason Friedman about the Rockets in advance of L.A.’s Tuesday evening game in Houston.

Friedman discussed: the injuries to Kevin Martin (shoulder) and Kyle Lowry (bacterial infection), Houston’s top two scorers who will both be out of the line up; the acquisition of Marcus Camby and his big man pairing with Samuel Dalembert; what he thinks of new Laker Jordan Hill and his game; how Houston has managed to play L.A. tough despite eight of ten wins for the Lakers and seven of 10 at Houston; and his favorite Rocket to interview.

The game tips off at 5 p.m. on KCAL 9 and can be heard on 710 ESPN radio.

To listen to the podcast, click play below:

L.A. at Houston: Pregame Tidbits

What do you need to know about the Lakers and Rockets heading into Tuesday evening’s game in Houston? This:

BYNUM GOING OFF: Andrew Bynum was so good last week that he received the Western Conference Player of the Week nod for the second time in his 7-year career (week of Jan. 26, 2009). Bynum led the Lakers to a 3-1 week, averaging 27.5 points on 65.5 percent shooting and leading the West in rebounding (14.8). He needs only 28 more POW selections to catch Kobe Bryant (30). Bynum actually had the first 20-point, 20-rebound game of his career against Houston in LAL’s home win on 1/3 (21 and 22), and is up to 2nd in the NBA in field goal percentage at .578 behind only Tyson Chandler, who has attempted only 245 shots to Bynum’s 512.

SESSIONS FITTING IN: Two games in, the reviews on Ramon Sessions from his teammates and coaches have been universally positive. His ability to penetrate the opposing paint is a big bonus for a team that didn’t much do so, aside from Kobe Bryant’s occasional forays, which puts a whole new kind of pressure on defenses and forces Sessions into the scouting report, taking away some focus from Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Sessions had six assists in 22 minutes against Utah and five in 19 against Minnesota; he ranks 11th in the NBA in assist per 48 minutes with 10.2.
To watch our “Get to Know” video with Sessions, in which he talks about his 6-month old puppy, “Sesh,” click here.

INJURY UPDATE: Injuries have been the biggest factor in Houston’s struggles, with Kyle Lowry out the past six games with a bacterial infection and Kevin Martin missing the last four with a strained right shoulder. Lowry will miss Tuesday’s game, and we’ll have to wait and see about Martin. Courtney Lee played really well at OKC and LAC in Martin’s place, scoring 21 and 25 points, though he struggled with his shooting vs. CHA and @ Phoenix (0-for-8 last game). Lowry almost went for a triple-double in Houston’s loss at L.A. in January with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, though Goran Dragic has been very good behind him. Dragic is averaging 16 points, 9.2 assists and 1.8 steals in the games Lowry has missed.

TURNOVERS: Think this will be at the top of Mike Brown’s “Do Not Do!” list? Even without committing a single turnover in the fourth quarter against Utah, the Lakers still finished with 24 in the loss, second only to the 27 they committed against Memphis on Jan. 8. Both Brown and Kobe Bryant said many of the turnovers were unforced, which is more about focus than anything else, though Utah’s physicality did have an effect. Sometimes a tough loss helps reenforce that such mistakes don’t go unpunished in the NBA.

DEFENSE SLIPPING AS OFFENSE IMPROVES?: LAL’s coaches pride themselves on defense, so the fact that the Lakers have given up 100 points in three of the last four games, even while the offense has improved, does not sit well with Mike Brown. “That’s not who we are,” he said. “We have to get back to committing to the defensive end of the floor and not giving up baskets the way that we have been. To have Utah shoot over 47 percent and score 103 points is mind-boggling for us.”

SHOT SELECTION NOT AN ISSUE: One could look at Bynum’s super efficient 12-for-14 evening against Utah and Kobe Bryant’s very inefficient 3-for-20 and conclude that Bynum should have taken more shots, but it’s not really like that. In fact, Bynum got a ton of touches, but often had to pass out of double and triple teams, so getting 14 shots up was pretty good. Bryant generally takes more than 20 shots, and most were ones he usually makes. Brown doesn’t want Kobe passing up on really good scoring opportunities. The bottom line was that Bryant simply had a bad shooting night. It happens.

HOUSTON STRUGGLING TO HOLD LEADS: Six teams have come back from at least 10 down to defeat the Rockets this season.

Tip is at 5 p.m. Pacific in Houston; see you there.

LAL > MIN: League’s Longest W Streak

The Lakers have won 18 consecutive games against the Minnesota Timberwolves, dating back to March 6, 2007, which stands as the longest winning streak by one team over another in the NBA.

L.A. has already one three matchups with the Wolves this season, including two at Minnesota, most recently on March 9 (105-102). The Wolves’ excellent young point guard, Ricky Rubio, tore his left ACL with under a minute to play in that game, while Kevin Love was a last-minute scratch due to a sore back. Love also missed Minnesota’s 104-85 loss at Staples Center on Feb. 29 with flu-like symptoms, but is expected to play Friday night.

The Lakers have won 11 consecutive games over Minnesota in Los Angeles, dating back to Dec. 2, 2005. The Wolves, however, have been breaking streaks all season. They snapped 16-game loss runs to both Portland and San Antonio, in addition to a 9-game home losing streak to Dallas.

Tip off is at 7:30, which you can watch on FS West and hear on 710 ESPN radio.

Lakers – Hornets: Preview Podcast

After a tough double-overtime victory at Memphis on Tuesday, the Lakers are in New Orleans to face the Hornets on Wednesday, so we dialed up Hornets.com’s Jim Eichenhofer to discuss the matchup.

Among the topics: how New Orleans has started 15 different starting line ups due to a bevy of injuries; why the Hornets have played better basketball against the league’s better teams; Chris Kaman’s strong play as a starter; Eric Gordon and Emeka Okafor injury updates and more.

To listen, click below:

Lakers – Celtics Preview Podcast

Click for the video scouting report on LAL – BOS with assistant coach Chuck Person.

With the Celtics coming into Los Angeles for the only time this season to kick off their eight-game road trip, we called up NESN anchor and reporter Randy Scott to discuss the matchup. Sunday afternoon’s early start (12:30 p.m.) will wrap the two-game season series that began with L.A.’s 88-87 overtime victory on Feb. 9 sealed by a Pau Gasol block.

Scott details how the locals in Boston are feeling about an aging Celtics squad that looks great at times and struggles at others, discussed who’s been playing well of late (Paul Pierce) and who’s struggled (injured Jermaine O’Neal), talked about L.A.’s inside advantage thanks to Gasol and Bynum and offered his take on the best and worst Celtics to interview.

To listen, click below:

Lakers – Wolves Podcast Preview

The Lakers have won 16 consecutive games against Minnesota, dating back to 2007, but the current Rick Adelman-coached squad is easily the best team the Wolves have had since Kevin Garnett roamed around Minneapolis.

Minnesota (18-17) has already won more games than it did in the full 2010-11 season (17-65), and this season has beaten the Clippers, Mavericks and Rockets on the road … even if they again lost to L.A. 106-101 at home on Jan. 29. To preview Wednesday evening’s game at Staples Center – in which it now appears Kobe Bryant may play – we dialed up Wolves color analyst Jim Petersen.

Click below to listen: