Tag Archive for 'LeBron James'

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 – Cavs: Pregame

After facing title contenders like Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, Utah, New Orleans and Houston, the Lakers get a shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers Monday night at STAPLES Center.

To get you ready, Lakers assistant coach Frank Hamblen – who prepared L.A.’s scouting report on Cleveland – talked about the opponent’s depth, how his squad plans to play LeBron, the addition of point guard Mo Williams and more.

Here’s a link to the video:

FRANK HAMBLEN ON CLEVELAND

Lakers Preparing for LeBron, Cavs

Best in the East?
Perfect 80 degree weather and the NFC Championship game (see: Kobe’s insistence that his Eagles t-shirt hang from his locker) didn’t keep the Lakers out of the gym on Sunday afternoon, not with LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers coming into town on Monday.

Cleveland is perhaps the last, if not the best, contender for the championship trophy that the L.A. has yet to play. After all, the purple and gold have already seen Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, New Orleans, Utah and Houston (and even Denver and Phoenix).

Why are the 31-7 Cavs so dangerous? The very obvious answer is LeBron’s 27.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and All-First Team defense.

“(James has) made some improvements, in terms of protecting the lane, getting out in passing lanes, but he’s his usual stellar self,” said Kobe Bryant after practice. “I’m a big fan of his … I think he’s terrific.”

Kobe conceded that LeBron’s Olympic experience probably helped spur his defense on this season, and also said that he will “definitely” guard James at times during Monday’s game.

But it’s anything but a one-man team in Cleveland … LeBron’s been boosted by the presence of Mo Williams – a free agent acquisition from Milwaukee – who has taken some of the ball-handling pressure off James, and is a terrific perimeter shooter.

“He’s a big help, a legitimate scoring threat,” said Kobe of Williams. “He’s a person you have to identify, and we played him last year when he was in Milwaukee and he gave us fits.”

Throw in some other smooth shooters like Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, Booby Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic, plus three bigs who play good defense – Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao – and your squad’s looking strong to quite strong.

On Monday, however, the Cavs will be without two starters: Ilgauskas, who’s been on the shelf with a bad ankle, and West, who broke his wrist against Chicago last week.

Walton Goes Through Full Practice, But Won’t Start
Luke Walton completed his first full practice since missing the last eight games due to his foot injury.

“You can run all day but until you’ve actually played defense, switched, gone over screens and rebounded, it’s not the same,” said Walton. “It felt great, it didn’t hurt at all.”

Though Walton was very effective against Cleveland last season, Phil Jackson will continue to start Vladimir Radmanovic.

“Last year, I thought Luke did a really good job on (James) when he played him,” said Jackson. “(But) he’s still feeling his way a little bit.”

Sasha Finds Shooting Touch
Phil Jackson liked what he saw from Sasha Vujacic at Sunday’s practice: “He was shooting the ball (well) and looks like he’s back in rhythm,” explained the coach.

“I’m glad he said that,” said Vujacic. “It’s definitely good to be back … I’m feeling good. (The Lakers training staff) has been huge in getting me ready to play, and I’m 100 percent right now.”

With Vujacic and Walton both feeling much better, L.A. finally has 13 players healthy, and is waiting only on Farmar to boast its full complement of players.