Tag Archive for 'Trudell'

Lakers All-Star Picks … Plus Some Money

Deron Williams or Brandon Roy? Hedo Turkoglu or Andre Iguodala? Shaquille O’Neal or Al Jefferson? Hmmm…

Having completed my personal All-Star selections after the starters were revealed on Thursday night, I needed some outside expertise to make sure I hadn’t followed the wrong path.

So I called Money.

That’s Matt “Money” Smith (you know him well, you know his smell), the co-host of the now nationally broadcasted “Petros and Money Show” (PMS) that hits the airwaves locally on AM 570 KLAC between 4-7:00 p.m. Now, I first became a fan of Money’s NBA take while listening to him on “The Lakers Zone,” (where he handles pregame, halftime and postgame duties around the call of Spero Dedes and Mychal Thompson), and thus trusted he’d check and balance my roster.

As it turned out, we disagreed on just three of the reserves, settling in agreement on the other 11 players that will join the 10 voted-in starters in Phoenix. Here’s the original list, which includes individual statistics, team records and place in the conference standings plus selected “Honorable Mention” players who had excellent first halfs but didn’t quite make our squad. Below the list, you can check out where Money would have gone another way, and why.


The Eagles Coulda Used Kobe

Kobe EaglesWhen Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb tried to bring his Eagles back from a 32-25 deficit during Sunday’s NFC Championship game, little did he know that his best receiving option was driving home from practice in Los Angeles.

“I’d be a wide receiver,” said the 6-6, 205-pound Kobe Bryant. “I’d be a bad (man) too.”

The conversation started when Bryant grew slightly tired of answering the expected questions about his good friend LeBron James after Sunday’s practice, and was instead eager to talk about his favorite football squad, who ended up losing a chance at the Super Bowl.

Go ahead, Kobe…

“No more red zone issue,” he explained. “Just throw it over the top. I’m (Randy) Mossin’ it.”

When you think about it for a second, it’s really not that far-fetched.

Freakishly athleticism: Check.
Great size: Check
Shiftiness: Check
Strength: Check
Savvy: Check
Intelligence: Check
Experience: OK, maybe not
Confidence: Um, yup…

But could he turn routine catches into six points?

“I’ve got that, man, I got all that,” was the response. “I’m physical as (heck).”

Sorry. But what if Lamar Odom’s your QB? He claims he could play at that level, you know…

“If Lamar’s quarterback, I’m not playing,” stated the MVP (of the NBA). “He’d try to run all the time, he ain’t got no arm. His arm ain’t strong enough.”

But really, Kobe. Seriously, could you play in the NFL right now?

“Of course,” he knew (for a fact). “Throw that ball up there, I’ll go get it. Knock my head off … I enjoy it, I love it.”

OK then. We’re not betting against you.

Too bad McNabb didn’t know…

Mbenga Pushing For Education in Congo

DJ MbengaYou haven’t heard much from D.J. Mbenga this season, as he’s buried behind Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom on L.A.’s bench.

But take a few moments to speak with him, and you immediately realize that he has a great deal to say, and not just about basketball.

Mbenga, who was born in Congo but forced to grow up in Belgium due to political circumstances in his home country, has an insatiable desire for learning, and spends much of his free time keeping up with the latest world news, particularly the largely dire situation in Congo. Indeed, when I stroll by Mbenga’s locker before most games, it’s not that night’s opponent but the latest news around which our conversations center, even if just for a minute.

Accordingly, prior to Tuesday night’s game in Houston, we began to talk about Congo since Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo is actually from the same town as D.J., and has served as Mbenga’s big brother since Mbenga came into the league. Mutombo’s done amazing things for his people in Africa, including putting a widely-reported $16 million of his own money to build a hospital.

And while Mbenga is extremely proud of Mutombo and will always look up to him, his focus is education.

“We’re trying to educate these people and especially these young kids,” Mbenga explained. “Even one dollar is a lot for someone over there, so that’s why we do everything we can … Education is very important. When you educate, you save the world.”

As such, Mbenga has actually set up a foundation – The Mbenga Foundation – specifically designed to help children in Africa, which you can link to below:

MBENGA FOUNDATION: Caring and Sharing

Here’s the audio from our conversation in Houston, in which Mbenga details the need for education in Congo and talks specifically about what he’s doing to extend a helping hand to his country.

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:

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

And finally…

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.