Tag Archive for 'Lakers'

Lakers 94, Blazers 111: Postgame

OutlawSince Friday night’s win against Minnesota, nearly every member of the Lakers traveling crew told me how tough it was for L.A. to play in Portland.

Mychal Thompson (who played for the Blazers for seven years and the Lakers for four and a half) told me. Stu Lantz told me. Joel Meyers, Spero Dedes, John Ireland and PR man Josh Rupprecht told me.

Still unconvinced, I felt like two light games against Memphis and Minnesota in a week would do L.A.’s legs some good, and they’d be eager to show that the six-game losing streak in the Rose Garden (since Feb. 2005) shouldn’t reflect on them.

Um, upon further consideration … After watching 48 minutes of basketball … Let me just write a quick letter.

To: Mychal, Stu, Joel, Spero, John and Josh
From: Mike
Subject: Point conceded
Body: See subject

L.A. simply didn’t match Portland’s energy. In fact, they didn’t really come anywhere near that level of amplitude.

Before this game, the Lakers had trailed by no more than 20 points throughout the entire season, and not once since Nov. 14th (Detroit). But at halftime, they were already down 23 after being outscored 61-38 (Travis Outlaw scored 17 alone in the second), and would trail by as many as 30 in a wild third quarter that closed on an even more sour note (if that were possible).

With 2.2 seconds remaining in the period, Rudy Fernandez broke away to attempt a dunk with Trevor Ariza attempted to block it. Ariza got a piece of the ball, but also hit an off-balance Fernandez’s head. Fernandez landed extremely hard on his side, which almost immediately had Portland’s other four players charging towards Ariza. Ultimately, no punches were thrown, but Ariza was hit with a flagrant two foul and ejected, while two Blazers and Josh Powell also received technical fouls.

As if the rivalry needed any more juice …

L.A. headed into the fourth quarter down (a ridiculous) 28 points, but seemed to finally wake up after the Ariza incident, opening the period on a 17-5 run to cut the lead to 16 at 89-73 on a Kobe Bryant triple.

That was as close as the Lakers would get. L.A. ultimately fell by 17 to a team on an absolute mission as no player that wasn’t named Kobe or Pau hit double figures until Jordan Farmar’s last-minute three pointer.

Portland’s bench outscored the entire Lakers team 39-38 in the first half, thanks in part to 17 points from sub Outlaw, and got 18 rebounds and 12 points in a tough low-post effort from starting center Joel Pryzbilla as a rabid crowd kept the pedal pushed to the floor throughout.

Portland’s basket seemed to be six feet wide while L.A.’s seemed to have a person lying across its own, as the Lakers struggled immensely from the field (35.6 percent through three) before heating up considerably in the fourth to finish at 43 percent.

The result was L.A.’s third-straight loss on the road, and it’s not getting easier this week with the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs waiting in Texas.

Until then, a few numbers:

3
Spaniards participating in the game, including Pau Gasol and Portland’s Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez. When Fernandez went down, his close friend Gasol was very outwardly concerned.

14
Combined points from Luke Walton (2), Lamar Odom (7) and Derek Fisher (5).

15
Offensive boards for Portland, including seven from Joel Pryzbilla.

27
Points from Brandon Roy to lead the Blazers, who had five players in double figures.

28
Free throws attempted by Portland, to 16 by the Lakers.

35.6
L.A.’s field goal percentage through three quarters on 21-of-59 field goals, with only 10 assists to that point. Walton had three of those dimes, with not one other player amassing more than one.

Lakers 105, Thunder 98: Postgame

Thunder Post-GameYou know that ol’ basketball maxim regarding the first home game after a road trip being particularly tough upon which to focus?

Before pulling away from a peppy Oklahoma City squad first in the final six minutes of the second quarter and finally in the fourth, the Lakers fell into that trap for stretches of Tuesday evening’s contest at STAPLES Center.

After casually strolling through the opening stanza to a 25-all tie, the Lakers turned up the juice in the second quarter, clapping the Thunder with a 21-6 run – including 11 points from Kobe Bryant – to take a commanding 60-47 lead into halftime. The purple and gold then took a collective nap as the baby-blue-and-orange clad visitors cut that lead to four near the start of the fourth quarter. No ultimate worries, however, as L.A.’s bench quickly built the lead back to a 10-point comfort zone that the starters would protect in the final minutes.

But why, you’re wondering, would the Lakers not completely hammer a far inferior team featuring two rookies and two second year players in the starting lineup? Certainly, the relative let-down is interesting, if not expected; No matter how tough Phil Jackson and his assistants told their players that OKC was going to play, it was understandably a bit difficult for the Lakers to bestow full respect on a 13-38 team that the holders of the NBA’s best record “knew” they would beat (oh wait … Charlotte … oops!). Hard it is to match the intensity that a team like the Thunder may bring in let’s-test-and-prove-our-worth mode, but surely the result was never in doubt, and getting the win was paramount to keep the momentum train generated during a fantastic 6-0 road trip on the tracks.

One downside of letting OKC stick around for awhile? Pau Gasol played 42 minutes after averaging 43 minutes since Andrew Bynum went down. That’s no good for L.A., particularly not with Utah looming the following day.

Alas, Gasol joined fellow All-Star Bryant and recently-reborn Lamar Odom in filling up the box score: Bryant finished with a game-high 34 points plus seven boards; Gasol chipped in 22 points, 14 rebounds and four dimes; and Odom backed up his 28 and 17 on Cleveland with 12 points and a season-high 18 boards.

More numbers upon which to chew:

1
Kobe Bryant’s rank in “Youngest to 23,000 points” after he surpassed (preceded?) Wilt Chamberlain’s record in the second quarter.

9
Points off the bench from Sasha Vujacic … and Jordan Farmar … and Trevor Ariza. Farmar added five dimes and Ariza three to L.A.’s effort.

18
Rebounds by Lamar Odom to surpass his 17 glass cleans in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon. Eleven of those glass cleans came in the first half, and five on the offensive board.

31
Points for second-year stud Kevin Durant on 10-of-23 shooting, plus 10-of-11 from the line. Durant added 10 boards and four dimes.

39.3
Shooting percentage for the Thunder, who relied primarily on jump shots. L.A. shot 45.5 percent from the field.

42
Points in the paint for the Lakers. In the first half. The Thunder, meanwhile, took nothing but jumpers in scoring just 18 paint points.

60
First half points from the Lakers on 50.9 percent shooting, including 21 in the final six minutes of the second quarter.

Lakers 101, Cavs 91: Postgame

Lamar OdomLeading into Sunday afternoon’s showdown between the Eastern Conference leading Cavs and Western Conference leading Lakers, Cleveland’s 23-0 mark at Quicken Loans Arena had been talked about more than A-Rod and ‘roids or David Beckham and Italy.

Well … That conversation’s over.

Three days after L.A.’s biggest win of the season – a 110-109 OT victory in Boston – the Lakers completed a season-sweep of the East’s other beast on Cleveland’s previously untarnished floor to complete a tremendous 6-0 road trip despite losing center Andrew Bynum in the journey’s second game.

The Lakers did the deed with a complete team effort, made even more necessary than usual since Kobe Bryant was vomiting all over the place at halftime due to flu-like symptons.

Leading the charge was Lamar Odom, who played inspired basketball in his best performance most can remember in totaling season-highs in points (28) and rebounds (17), including seven on the offensive glass. More importantly, 15 and 10 of those points and glass cleans came in the crucial third quarter, which the Lakers entered trailing by 10 but emerged from leading by five.

Pau Gasol played at least 40 minutes for the fourth straight game and offered 18 points, 12 boards and six assists while Bryant managed 19 points in 34 gutty minutes. In fact, Kobe seemed to be saving his energy for defense, spending most of the game on LeBron James (with some help from Trevor Ariza) to force LBJ into 5-of-20 shooting and only 16 points.

That complete team effort before alluded to was what assistant coach Jim Cleamons said L.A. needed in order to bust Cleveland’s perfect home record, and all 10 Lakers that saw the floor found a way to boost the squad that’s a league-best 41-9. Cleveland had been the only other team in the league without 10 losses.

Let’s see some numbers:

6
Turnovers by the Lakers, who (insert Captain Obvious) took great care of the basketball.

7
Offensive rebounds for Lamar Odom. The Lakers also got three on that end of the glass from Pau Gasol and one each from Luke Walton and Josh Powell, though Cleveland did get 15 of its own.

8
Threes nailed by the Cavs at halftime to take a 61-51 lead. Nearly every other statistical category was equal, including assists, personal fouls, steals and turnovers. Mo Williams was 3-of-4 and Wally Szczerbiak 3-of-3. Meanwhile, L.A. was 1-of-6.

15 and 10
Odom’s respective points and boards totals in the third quarter alone in by far his best performance of the season. Odom had five offensive boards in the period, and finished the game with season highs in points (28) and rebounds (17).

15
Three-point percentage by the Lakers, who hit just 3-of-20, including 2-of-14 in the second half. The Cavs shot 47.8 percent from distance (11-for-23).

30
Second half points for Cleveland after they scored 61 in the first half.

62
Points in the paint by the Lakers in the game, which completely dwarfed Cleveland’s 24 points down low. The Cavs stayed in the game by making 11 threes to L.A.’s three.

Lakers 126, Knicks 117: Postgame

Kobe BryantMonday night in New York City was about one thing and one thing only: Mamba.

After Kobe Bryant was finished annihilating the Knicks with a Madison Square Garden record 61 points, he left the floor with 1:48 to go in the fourth and his team up 20 as the New York crowd stood up, chanted “MVP” and high-fived one another in amazement.

When’s the last time that happened on the road, particularly in the regular season?

Maybe when Michael Jordan put up a then-visiting-player high of 55 points in the 1994-95 season just a few games after his return from minor league baseball?

Before we get into the details of Mamba’s ridiculous performance, let’s think about three things motivating Bryant heading into Monday night’s contest against the Knicks:

A) L.A. found out that Andrew Bynum would be out for 8-to-12 weeks, something about which Bryant felt personally as he’d fallen into ‘Drew’s right knee in Memphis.
B) Kobe has always loved playing in MSG, and only gets to show New York fans what he’s about once a year.
C) After the game, Kobe knew he was going to go over Spike Lee’s Kobe documentary with the director and certainly didn’t want to hear from the avid Knicks fan for a whole evening.

And hey, did Bryant ever find away to turn that mental motivation into physical on-court production. The most points in MSG history? Really? He made 19-of-31 shots (61 percent) from the field, 20-of-20 free throws (you do the math) and tossed in three dimes and a block to bury the Knicks.

“When he’s going off like that, you just give him the ball and get out of the way,” said Trevor Ariza. “Amazing.”

Also chalking up impressive nights for the Lakers were Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, the former who’d stepped into the center position for Bynum and the latter who’d slid into Gasol’s power forward slot in the starting lineup. Pau was dominant inside with 31 points, 14 boards, five assists and two blocks while Odom filled up the stat sheet with six points, 14 rebounds, four dimes, a steal and three blocks. Ariza wasn’t bad himself with 13 points – including three huge dunks – and eight boards.

As a team, the Lakers shot 52.4 percent, out-rebounded the Knicks 52-41 and blocked eight shots to only one by the Knicks.

Only one number tonight:

61

Lakers 115, Grizzlies 98: Postgame

That the Lakers were able to battle through severe adversity and win for the second time this season against the Grizzlies barely seemed to matter on a suddenly sullen Saturday night in Memphis.

After playing inspired basketball for the last five games, center Andrew Bynum went down in a heap with 6:55 to go in the first quarter with the original diagnosis of a sprained right knee (x-rays negative). Bynum will undergo further testing in New York City on Sunday morning, as the Lakers community awaits eagerly and nervously for the results.

The coincidence of the injury was almost cruel, as it was here in Memphis on Jan. 13 last season when Bynum suffered an ultimately season-ending injury to his left knee.

Yet and still, the Lakers had an opponent to play, and after falling behind by as many as 13 in a first half where minds were certainly in another place, L.A. rallied together at the break to open the third quarter on a 9-2 run, including five points from Bryant. Pau Gasol then scored eight points in a six-minute stretch to help put the Lakers up by as many as 11 in the third, before settling on a 91-82 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

L.A. would then completely shut their defensive rim, holding Memphis without a point in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. They’d lead by as many as 18 during that stretch before ultimately settling on a 115-98 victory.

So, while the focus and level of basketball was quite impressive in the second half, the only though on anyone’s mind leaving FedExForum was regarding Bynum’s health.

A few numbers, and remember to check Lakers.com tomorrow for a full report on Bynum, who talked to reporters after the game in surprisingly good spirits, suggesting that he didn’t hear anything “pop” and could already put pressure on the knee.

0
Points scored by Memphis in roughly the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. They’d ultimately get to 15 for the period.

6
Minutes into the game when Bynum went down. ‘Drew already had seven points and a swat on 2-of-2 shooting plus 3-of-3 from the line.

12
Combined number of boards (six), assists (3), steals (2) and blocks (1) for Lamar Odom, who added 13 points off the bench in a solid overall effort. Odom replaced Bynum in the starting lineup for the second half.

15
Point difference between the Lakers (36) and Grizzlies (21) in the third quarter. Kobe Bryant had 10 points, Pau Gasol eight and Lamar Odom nine in the period.

25
Points for Bryant to lead the Lakers, just one more than Gasol’s 24.

38
Points in the second half for the Grizzlies.

57.1
Shooting percentage by the Grizzlies in the first half.

60
Second half points for the Lakers, a 22-point advantage over the Grizzlies.

Bynum Posting Beastly Numbers

Bynum Dunk on SpursIn his last five games, Lakers center Andrew Bynum has been on an absolute war path, putting up numbers mirroring Lil’ Wayne’s album sales.

Not only is Bynum posting double-doubles to the tune of 26.2 points and 13.8 rebounds per night, but he’s swatting 3.2 shots, shooting 65.3 percent (49-of-75) from the field and 82.5 percent from the free throw line (33-of-40).

Furthermore, you can’t discount these stats due to inferior competition, because Bynum was nearly as effective against Tim Duncan and Emeka Okafor as he was against Al Jefferson and Washington’s JaVale McGee (OK, Clips rookie DeAndre Jordan was another story).

Here are ‘Drew’s game-by-game stats:

Jan. 21 vs L.A. Clippers (105-88 win)
36 minutes, 42 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks, 17-of-24 shooting (70.8 percent), 8-of-11 free throws (72.7 percent)

Jan. 22 vs Washington (117-97 win)
27 minutes, 23 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, one block, 8-of-12 shooting (66.7 percent), 7-of-8 free throws (87.5 percent)

Jan. 25 vs. San Antonio (99-85 win)
24 minutes, 15 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, one assist, one steal, 4-of-10 shooting (40 percent), 7-of-8 free throws (87.5 percent)

Jan. 27 vs. Charlotte (117-100 Double OT loss)
41 minutes, 24 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks, one assist, 10-of-14 shooting (71.4 percent), 4-of-5 free throws (80 percent)

Jan. 30 @ Minnesota (132-119 win)
30 minutes, 27 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks, one assist, 10-of-15 shooting (66.7 percent), 7-of-8 free throws (87.5 percent)

After the Friday night game in Minnesota, Bynum even drew praise from the hard-to-impress Kobe Bryant:

“(Bynum) is playing extremely well,” said Kobe. “We’re starting to expect it from him because he’s being aggressive, he’s being assertive, he’s finding his niche where he can operate in the offense. I like it. I like it a lot.

“I think the game where he gained the most confidence was in San Antonio. He had a big game and we lost the game the way that we did. On the bus I said, ‘Hey, you know Tim Duncan is one of the greatest defensive players of all time ever.’ If you can do that to him, you can do that to anybody else. I think for him to have that confidence to play against Tim, that had to kind of sink in for him. He’s one of the best defensive players ever and his confidence has shot through the roof after that. He played extremely well and I think it started from there.”

‘Drew will go for his sixth straight double-double against a Memphis Grizzlies team that’s been without big man Darko Milicic since late December, and starts Pau Gasol’s brother Marc at center. There’s no reason to expect any kind of slip in Bynum’s game, particularly not with his new-found Tiger-Woods-on-Sunday attack mode in full swing…

But that’s why they play the games.

Tip is at 5 p.m. Pacific from the FedExForum.

Lakers To See A Hungry Wolves Squad

FoyeHaving won 10 of their 13 games in January after suffering a 13-game losing streak in December, the Minnesota Timberwolves are eager to test their mettle against the team they consider among the elite few in the league.

“They’ve got Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, great shooters and a great bench,” said Wolves guard Randy Foye after Friday’s shootaround. “But we’re just trying to stay consistent. No matter who we’re playing against, the Lakers or Boston, we believe we can win.”

The culture change in Minnesota since Kevin McHale took over as head coach is what Foye and many of his teammates credit more than anything else for the team’s turnaround.

“Kevin McHale’s a great coach, a great guy, a player’s type of coach,” Foye explained. “He played in the league and he knows what players want to hear and what they don’t want to hear.”

Foye’s recent improved play has been another reason the Wolves have been chalking up wins, but things might not come as easy on this night as he’ll have to deal with an angry Kobe Bryant after the MVP fouled out in the first overtime of L.A.’s Tuesday evening loss.

For a complete breakdown of what the Lakers can expect to see from the Wolves Friday night in icy Minnesota, we spoke with Wolves TV analyst Jim Petersen. Just click on the “Lakers.com Preview” in our gameday page:

Lakers Gameday Preview

Tipoff’s at 5 p.m. Pacific time, before the Lakers head to Memphis for the tail end of a back-to-back on Saturday evening.

Farmar on Active List, Could Play

The title pretty much sums it up…

In his scheduled pregame media session, Phil Jackson said that Lakers backup point guard Jordan Farmar will be on the active list for Sunday’s matinee matchup against the San Antonio Spurs.

Farmar could play for the first time since Dec. 19 in Miami, when he tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee. He was expected to miss approximately eight weeks after the surgery, but has healed at nearly twice that pace.

Clem Breaks Down the Wiz

Great basketball mind and Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons sat down to talk about the 9-32 Washington Wizards, who wrap up their season series with the Lakers Thursday night at STAPLES Center.

Cleamons highlights the importance of establishing Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the post against a team short on bigs, offers some tips on dealing with Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison and talks about Kobe Bryant’s injured hand.

Here’s the video:

Clippers Missing Four Best Players

Perhaps the biggest story heading into Wednesday’s Los Angeles battle is that the Clippers are one of the least healthy teams in NBA history.

When Phil Jackson was asked if he could remember a time when a team was missing its four best players, he had to go all the way back to the 1978 Portland Trail Blazers squad, a good 31 years ago.

Here’s the scratch list for the red and blue:

Baron Davis: Bruised tailbone
Marcus Camby: Sprained left ankle
Chris Kaman: Strained left arch
Zach Randolph: Sore left knee

Yikes.

With those four players healthy, plus Al Thornton, Eric Gordon, Ricky Davis and Mardy Collins chipping in, the Clips could actually be a good squad.

Tonight, however, it’s going to be tough to beat the Lakers unless Collins, Gordon, Thornton, DeAndre Jordan and Brian Skinner shoot a collective 65 percent from the field. That’s sort of like asking the L.A. Dodgers to bat .600 in a game when they had seven starters out with injuries.

But that’s why they play the game…