Tag Archive for 'Postgame'

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 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.

Lakers 103, Magic 109: Postgame

Jameer NelsonJust two days after suffering a last-second loss in San Antonio, the Lakers again fell victim to an opponent’s last-minute heroics as Jameer Nelson’s second three-pointer in the final 1:26 ultimately spelled L.A.’s doom on Friday night at STAPLES Center.

Kobe Bryant had a chance to tie the game on a terrific look from three with 10.1 seconds left on the clock, but rimmed out for the ninth time in 12 fourth quarter shots, putting a damper on his 15th career triple-double.

“I had a great look, great, great look and it just didn’t want to stay down for me,” explained Bryant, who finished with 28 points, 13 boards and 11 assists.

In a crazy, fast-paced fourth quarter, the lead changed 15 times and the Magic canned 5-of-8 threes that proved deadly. Lamar Odom had a terrific game off the bench with 17 points and nine rebounds – 10 and five of which were in the fourth quarter – but he did miss 3-of-5 free throws in the fourth. The Magic countered with 25 points and 20 boards from Dwight Howard and 28 points with eight dimes from the playing-like-an-All-Star Nelson.

Yet as a team, after holding Orlando to 44 points in the first half, the Lakers allowed 65 in the second, due in part simply to a more energetic Magic squad and perhaps to some tired legs resulting from seven tough games in 11 days, all of which were closely contested.

Let’s review: After a close loss to the Hornets on Jan. 6, L.A. came from behind to beat Golden State on the road; two days later they got a final seconds jumper from Bryant to beat Indiana; Then came a tip in from Andrew Bynum to beat Miami last Sunday; Next a last-minute three again from Kobe to beat the Rockets in Houston on Tuesday, which preceded a last-second loss at San Antonio the next night; and finally came Friday night’s loss to the Magic.

As such, a banged up and weary Lakers team went 4-3 against some of the league’s better competition, and retained the best record in the Western Conference by 4.5 games over the second place Denver Nuggets.

Mercifully, L.A. has two days before its next game against Eastern Conference leading Cleveland, who come to Los Angeles for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day special on Monday.

A few numbers:

0
Fastbreak points for the Lakers, compared with 10 for the Magic.

Also the number of points for Sasha Vujacic in 13 minutes in his first game since missing the Texas trip.

3
Rebounds for Andrew Bynum, who had just four combined boards in L.A.’s two games in Texas.

5
Three-pointers dropped by the Magic in the fourth quarter after they’d made just 7-of-20 in the first three quarters. Jameer Nelson was a perfect 3-of-3 in the fourth, including the two last minute and change daggers, and finished with 15 final-quarter points.

5
Threes hit by Vladimir Radmanovic in the first three quarters for 15 points.

14
Orlando’s rebounding edge (54-40), signified most loudly by Howard’s 20 boards to Bynum’s three. Pau Gasol managed nine window cleans, while Bryant had a season-high 13, in part due to Orlando’s long-range shooting.

18
Combined missed free throws from both teams. Howard was the biggest culprit with seven misses, while Odom missed four for the Lakers.

39.8
L.A.’s shooting percentage for the game, due in part to a 9-for-26 (34.6 percent) clip in the fourth quarter. Kobe Bryant was 10-of-26.

Lakers 111, Spurs 112: Postgame

No one thought the Texas two-step through Houston and San Antonio was going to be easy, particularly with L.A.’s collection of injuries and the back-to-back situation.

How ’bout the opposite?

After the Lakers pulled out a final-seconds victory on Kobe Bryant’s three-point bomb against the Rockets on Tuesday, a worn-down Lakers team battled the Spurs to another final-second contest that was played so well it could have served as game seven of the Western Conference Finals.

Now, if I told you that Bryant turned Mamba again and dropped another contested triple with 12.0 seconds left to put L.A. up by two, would you be surprised?

Nope. Not at all.

But after that hammer, which capped a gutty run from 11-points down with 8:05 to play, the opponents struck back viciously. Not only did former Wizards castoff Roger Mason Jr. nail a deep jumper to tie the game with 10.5 seconds left, but he drew a foul and converted the free throw as Derek Fisher* went for the steal. In essence, Mason Jr. backed into Fisher, who was already behind him, drew the contact and went up with his 17-footer. Bucket.
*Fisher had left the game in the fourth quarter with a minor groin injury, and will be re-evaluated in L.A. … As if the Lakers can afford to lose another guard.

Suffice it to say that nobody in the AT&T Center was ready to celebrate (well, OK, maybe a few [all] of the screaming rubes couldn’t contain themselves), not with 10 seconds left and a Mamba lurking…

But after getting the ball on the wing, the Spurs quickly and aggressively brought a double-team towards Bryant, who consented to pass to a wide-open Trevor Ariza at the top of the key. Seeing a lane to the hoop, Ariza took one dribble and appeared to either slip or be tripped with less then a second on the clock. Free throws?

Nope. Traveling. Game over.

Alas, after eeking out final-minutes wins against Indiana, Miami and Houston in succession, the Lakers finally wound up on the wrong end of the final score in, again, an absolutely fantastic regular season game.

Both teams shot nearly 60 percent throughout the game (finishing at near the 57 percent mark, respectively) and got huge performances from several players: L.A. was led by 29 points and 10 assists from Bryant, 39 combined points from Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol on 14-of-25 from the field, and a great fourth quarter from subs Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom and Josh Powell. The Spurs countered with a near triple-double from Duncan (20, 10 and eight), 27 points off the pine from Manu Ginobili and 38 combined points from guards Tony Parker and Mason Jr.

The game was chalk full of game-changing shots, such as Ginobili’s triple that buzzer-beat the third quarter, three straight jumpers from Powell during L.A.’s 11-2 fourth quarter run to claim the lead, and the back-to-back cold-blooded J’s from Kobe and Mason Jr.

And that was only the second half. Needless to say, these two teams will see one another again.

Your numbers:

57.0
Shooting percentage for both teams in an extremely well-executed game.

56
Points in the paint for L.A., behind a terrific offensive effort from Bynum (9-of-15, 18 points) and Gasol (10-of-14, 21 points), despite San Antonio’s sound low-post defense.

27
Points off the bench from Manu Ginobili in easily his best game of the season. Ginobili hit four threes and had 19 of his points in the first half, plus three steals and three boards.

19
Three-pointers hit in the game as both teams shot at least 50 percent from three.

11
Free throw attempts by the Lakers, who had a really tough time getting calls throughout the evening. Most concerning to Phil Jackson was what may have been a trip on Ariza that wasn’t called in the final seconds, though road teams rarely get the benefit of the doubt in those types of situations.

6
Key points during L.A.’s 11-2 run to take the lead in the fourth quarter from reserve Josh Powell, all jumpers of the pick-and-pop variety.

5
Straight jumpers canned by Gasol in his 14-point first quarter to get the Lakers off on the right foot offensively.

2
Assists away from a triple-double for Tim Duncan, who put up 20 points and 10 rebounds with his eight dimes.

And finally…

1,000,000,000*
Sun Yue’s stat line for the second-straight night, putting him soundly in club trillion. To get into that exclusive club, one must play at least one minute, and not appear anywhere else on the stat sheet (points, field goal attempts, fouls, etc.), thus producing a 1-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0 on the box score. Or, 2-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0, as was the case in Houston.
*Editor’s Note: Oh no!!! Sun came up with a steal that I missed at the time (a great play, which led to an Ariza layup), eliminating him from Club Trillion contention in San Antonio. Sorry, Sun, but at least you made it in Houston.