Preview and Chat: The Orlando Magic

Kurt —  February 8, 2008

Records: Lakers 31-16 (5 seed); Magic 32-19 (3 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.7 (5th); Magic 112.2 (7th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.3 (7th); Magic) 107.5 (12th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladamir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Magic: Carlos Arroyo (although maybe Jameer Nelson, who has been playing well), Mo Evans, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard

Lakers Notes: Kobe is going to play tonight against Orlando, even through he stated his recently dislocated pinky finger on his shooting hand is bothering him (obviously, he is 7 for 27 from the field in the last two games). However, his participation in All Star weekend and the three-point shooting contest is up in the air. I hope he recovers, I really wanted to see him in that.

The question the Lakers need to answer for themselves in about 8 days is: Do we keep DJ Mbenga for the rest of this season? My gut feeling is yes. Bynum isn’t back for about six weeks, so we still need a backup big, and even when Bynum is back we may want another large body to spend some time on the Yao Mings of the world. He’s cheap and a decent post defender — he is a +2.9 per 48 minutes and has held opposing centers to a PER of 11.8 so far this season. You could look at other options, but he’s starting to know the system and has done what you ask of him off the bench. My meaningless vote is to keep him.

We’re big in Brazil Well, apparently. I don’t speak Portuguese, but Gustavo, the very nice NBA blogger at the official NBA site for Brazil asked me a few questions about the Gasol trade then used them and thoughts from other bloggers in this post. Regular commenter and poster here Gatinho actually speaks Portuguese, and has a Brazilian wife (which should make you jealous — have you seen Brazilian women?) and he and his wife gave us a translation:

Our friend Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold agrees with Ryan (from Hoopsaddict) and thinks that the Lakers have become a force in the West no matter what happens. “Over the next few years they will be the best team in the NBA, at least on paper,” says the beat writer for the Lakers.

There’s a question whether the arrival of a new star would affect Kobe’s ego, Kurt answered directly, “When Kobe was asked after the Nets game how he felt about only scoring 6 points but getting the victory, he had a big smile that we haven’t seen in years and said, ‘You have no idea.’”

It seems that finally things are coming together in the City of Angels.

Well, we’ll let the beat writer thing slide. Gatinho added he likes the blog — “His blog is actually pretty good. He talks about the Golden Globes and the Cohen brothers.”

The Magic Coming In: Third seed in the East, starting Mo Evans — what is going on in Orlando? To get a few answers, I posed a few questions to Ben Q. Rock at the quality Third Quarter Collapse blog (and I answered a few Qs on his site):

Since the trade from the Lakers, how have Brian Cook and Mo Evans fit into the Magic? Do they fit in any long-term plans?

The idea behind the trade was to improve three-point shooting and depth at power forward; Cook was the featured player because of his size, but Evans has contributed far more. He’s started the last 15 games for the Magic (an 16 overall), averaging 10.9 points and shooting .547 from the field. File him under “S” for “Surprises, Pleasant.” Cook only recently cracked the rotation, languishing on the bench for two months because he wasn’t in good enough shape. His production is spotty at best, and he does not play defense, as you’re well aware. Honestly, I think the trade was worth it, if only because Cook nailed three big treys in the third quarter in the win against Boston which ended on a Turkoglu buzzer-beating triple. Getting that win alone was worth it. Evans’ contract ends at the end of the season, and I don’t get the sense the Magic are interested in keeping him. He was basically a throw-in, and he’s taking minutes away from J.J. Redick. Personally, I think that’s a good thing, but the Magic tend to disagree because there’s going to be a riot of angry Duke fans and 12-year-old girls if J.J. keeps getting DNP-CDs. It’d definitely be a shame to see Evans go. Other Magic fans agree, as you can see in this thread on the MagicMadness forums. Nearly everyone who has responded thinks the Magic should retain him. He’s one of the few players we have who plays hard every second of every game. Cook has another three years on his deal, so he’s probably not going anywhere. If the Magic get a power forward with actual power forward skills, Cook will be valuable as a specialist. But as the first power forward off the bench? That’s gonna be ugly.

In his eighth year in the league, Hedo Turkoglu is suddenly playing his best basketball. His shooting, rebounding, assists are all much better than his career average, and in the last couple weeks he has been nearly Dwight Howard good. What is he doing right?

Turk is succeeding because Stan Van Gundy has freed him. Under Brian Hill last season, he was basically a spot-up shooter, rarely handling the ball or taking it to the basket; last season, 77% of his attempts were jumpers, compared to just 70% this season. This year, with the Magic’s point guards struggling, Turk has taken over the role of facilitator. He runs the pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard better than anyone else on the team, and the fact that he’s 6’10″ makes it almost impossible to defend.

Half a season in, how do you view the Rashard Lewis trade?

Lewis’ scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage have taken significant dips this season. He’s not much of a defender. He’s grossly overpaid. Yet I’m still happy with the trade because his presence opens up the middle for Dwight Howard, who is scoring better than ever. Yeah, he’s overpaid, but he’s also Rashard Lewis, and he also drills open threes. Are you really going to leave him open to double Dwight? Part of the numbers downturn is due to him playing out of position. He’s a power forward in name only. He’s not used to being defended by bigger, stronger guys; likewise, he’s not used to defending bigger, stronger guys, so he’s probably pretty worn-out. Oddly enough, he did a damn good job defending Dirk Nowitzki (!) the other night. Where Lewis kills us is on the boards. As I pointed out in a recent post about why the Magic need a “true” power forward, Lewis is 54th out of 55 players at that position in rebound rate. At some point, either by the trading deadline or over the summer, we’ll get a “true” power forward to put alongside Dwight. That’d move Lewis to the 3 and Turkoglu to the 2. The mismatch possibilities are pretty fun to think about. Not many teams have the size to guard four guys 6’10″ or taller playing at the same time.

When talking about contenders in the East, most people bring up Boston and Detroit, then Cleveland as a darkhorse. Should Orlando be in that conversation for this season? Why? And how do you see the team growing in the next three or four years?

No, I don’t think we’re quite ready to join that conversation just yet. From a talent standpoint, yes, we belong there. It’s hard to argue that Cleveland, even with LeBron James, has a deeper or more talented roster than we do. However, no one will take us seriously until we have a few playoff series under our belts. Sobering fact: the last time we won a playoff series, Bill Clinton was running for re-election. Given that long drought, it’s fair to exclude us. Then again, Toronto legitimized itself pretty quickly last year. We’re talented enough to duplicate that. Going forward, I feel good about our chances to seriously contend. Dwight Howard is only going to get better. He’s only 22 and he’s already one of the best centers in the game. Turkoglu and Lewis are in their primes. Boston and Detroit are getting older, although Detroit’s youngsters (Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson in particular) scare me. Toronto and Cleveland will probably be up there, too, but we can hang with them. We just need more time and an upgrade at power forward. Point guard is a bit of a concern — does anyone think Jameer Nelson, who turns 26 on Saturday, can lead this team to an NBA title? — but Turkoglu’s ballhanding skills neutralize it. Overall, I like our chances of at least making the Finals during the Howard/Lewis/Nelson era, and even beyond. Did I mention Dwight is only 22?

Keys To The Game: Right now the Magic provide a difficult defensive challenge for the Lakers. Without Bynum the Lakers have nobody who can begin to slow Howard on the block (no offense to Pau here, but low-block post defense is not his forté). I expect DJ Mbenga may get some extended run tonight.

The other problem is that the Magic have a lot of very good three-point shooters starting with Nelson, Lewis and Turk. We have in the past talk about the Lakers tendency to sag off the three-point shooters to protect the paint (Odom, we’re looking right at you) and if the Lakers do that tonight it could rain threes. Also, the Lakers need to play smart on the high screen-and-roll with Howard and Turk — Howard rolls fast and gets deep position down on the block, and if you let him get that spot it’s too late to do anything. He is a beast. Also, the Lakers need to focus on rebounding and not let Howard get a lot of offensive boards and easy putbacks.

On offense, Pau needs to make Howard work hard, drag him out of the paint with his midrange game and open things up some. Also, Kobe can’t really have another of those horrific shooting nights — Mo Evans is a nice player but Kobe should get his in that matchup. Another big night from Odom is needed as well.

Where you can watch: Another of those annoying delayed television broadcasts in Los Angeles. I can’t wait for that to end. Anyway, 4 pm start but 5:30 television in LA (KCAL 9 — which means news promos through the game blatantly targeting men). Nationally, you’ll need the League Pass.

Kurt

Posts

143 responses to Preview and Chat: The Orlando Magic

  1. I also think signing Mbenga for the rest of the season would be a good move. I like what I’ve seen from him, when used in the right situations he’s effective, and he seems to be working hard both on and off the court. Signing him still keeps the roster at 14, provides decent depth at the 5 (who knows what we can expect from Mihm?), and gives the team another 6 fouls to use on Shaq & Duncan come playoff time.

    Plus, I just like having a tough African martial arts expert on the squad.

  2. Keeping Mbenga is fine with me. But I really wish Mihm was healthy enough to play. It’s why we re-signed him, right?

    Pau is gonna have to just face up Howard on the defensive glass and allow the other Lakers to corral the rebound. If Pau tries standard box-outs, Howard is going to punish us on the boards. All 5 to the defensive glass tonight, fellas.

    After a day’s rest, we should be ready for this challenge. I know that Kobe is playing through the injury, but we are gonna need the guy who we think is MVP of the league, and soon. I’d like to see him attack the hoop more if his finger is bothering his jumper (and no doubt it is). Let’s go out and get a win! (You know, since we are integral to the success and all.)

  3. If Gasol picked up the 5 in one practice, maybe he picked up the 4 in his second practice. In which case, it would be nice to see him playing the 4 w/ either Ronny or Mbenga at the 5.

  4. If everything breaks right for Pau, he could conceivably be in position to have as good an NBA career of any European player, when all is said an done. I know Dirk has won an MVP, Kukoc won 3 rings, and Vlade’s in that mix somewhere too, but Gasol’s ROY and numbers have already put him in the conversation, and if the Lakers play the way we think they’re capable of playing the next 5-6 years…well, he’s in position, that’s all I’m saying.

    Some other top NBA careers by continent:

    Africa: Hakeem, by a mile.
    Asia: Yao, hasn’t had much competition to date.
    Australia: Guess you’d have to say Luc Longley.
    South America: Manu?

  5. I agree on Mbenga. And after watching Chris Webber huff and puff last night, I’m glad to have Mbenga.

    There is also a decent site for any Brazilians who frequent FB andG called http://www.lakersbrasil.com.

  6. I also (meaninglessly) vote to keep Mbenga. No harm in keeping a cheap player who is a decent defender, so-so rebounder, and at times a good shot-blocker.

    Obviously fouls are a big factor in this, but I’d also like to see Gasol play some 4 with Turiaf or Mbenga.

  7. I think Mbenga should send Shaq a fruit basket (or a donut basket, and maybe a pizza) because I think that trade solidified his need on the team. Since we’re paying the lux tax I was thinking he’d be out but now……

  8. The Dude Abides February 8, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    We definitely need to keep Mbenga. Not only can he block shots, but he frequently catches passes, and has shown the ability to dunk the ball, including one nifty reverse dunk. I agree with Bill Bridges that Ronny should get some time against Howard tonight. In fact, I think Ronny should start at center on defense, with Mbenga being the backup center. Why subject Pau’s sore back to maximum minutes on Howard, who is an absolute beast? When Howard goes to the bench, we can take out Ronny or DJ.

  9. “Not only can he block shots, but he frequently catches passes.”

    I can’t believe we’ve resorted to saying that seriously, with a straight face.

  10. Its amazing what one trade can do. I have only missed one or two games this season, but since we got Gasol (btw does he have an awesome nickname yet?) there is no way im gonna miss another game. I am very excited to see what he can do at the 4. I say, at least for a bit tonight, put him there with Ronny or Dj at the 5 and lets see what he car really do.

  11. why is Kobe not offering to sit out? If the injury is pretty serious, why not give it some time to heal?

  12. Kobe sit out??? It’s not in his DNA. That’s was one reason we were saying he wouldn’t dog it this year, regardless how he felt about management.

  13. I keep Mbenga, Mihm ain’t ever givin us servicable minutes again.

    Gotta defend the 3pt line tonite, we haven’t been good at that. Hopefully Lamar can take advantage of Lewis tonight, that’s the key matchup

  14. I think the Lakers should not abuse of the capability of POW to play at 5 position, facing a center as D. Howard would need a re-adjustment in my opinion. I think Pau should be 4 in this game and Turiaf 5, just to help defending the big man. But who knows… let’s see what Phil do. In any case…

    LETS EAT THE MAGIC ALIVE!!!

    GO POW!!!

    GO KOBE!!!

  15. I support starting Turiaf at center, there can’t be any doubling on Dwight Howard tonight the magic can destroy teams from three point range. I also think we need to see the 90′s Kobe, attacking the rim at will. Not only because of his finger, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Dwight have to leave his rebounding stance to try and block shots or possibly getting into foul trouble.

  16. Yeah, definitely. We’ll need to defend hard on this one and we’ll need the real Kobe to show up as well.

  17. I’d be surprised if Phil starts Ronny, but I like the idea of him and DJ getting the majority of minutes at the five and getting Pau time at the four. He too, just like Odom, could destroy Rashard Lewis’ “defense.”

  18. #4 – I know Longley won all those rings, but he was hardly the key member of those Bulls teams, and from a strictly talent perspective, I’d take Andrew Bogut.

  19. If you were Phil – how would you match up tonight? Pau on Howard? Vlad on Hedo? Kobe on Mo Evans. L-O on Lewis? The match-ups don’t seem to work for me. Lewis is too quick for Odom, Howard is too big for Pau and neither Hedo or Vald plays any defnse, so I guess they should be fine.

  20. Hey, my cousin in PHX said he would get tickets to the 20 Feb game if I came over. I got tickets on Southwest and their confirmation # is K24… Tell me that isn’t an omen.

  21. 4 – Don’t forget Rik Smits. The Dunking Dutchman was seriously underrated!

  22. #4: lauren jackson of the wnba is easily the most accomplished aussie hoops player, gender be damned.

  23. sorry if this is a repost.
    got this link from other lakersblog.

    the story is about bynum: (really nice story)
    http://proxy.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?name=20080128/everbodylovesbynum

    enjoy.

  24. 23. Thanks for the article; really nice story.

  25. Is there a reason for the KCAL delay (not that it affects me)?

  26. I assume KCAL delays games because no one is around to watch them at 4PM.

  27. Nagaz, pretty sure they get better ratings pushing the game back until 5:30 since alot of people are at work until 5..

  28. the other Stephen February 8, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    my soul wil continue to be incomplete until bynum and ariza come back. here’s to our front line of wookie, baby, and dumbo. and their backups, crashy, bashy, and smashy (mihm, turiaf, and ariza). okay, i don’t know where the hell i got that.

  29. the reason KCAL delays is to get closer to prime time, so people can watch the game after work., (which means higher ad revenue, and they are a business…)

    I also vote for keeping DJ, and I agree that the Shaq signing was the kicker for me and hopefully management, and yeah, DJ owes Shaq a nice dinner.

    looking forward to some more POW! and KB#24 pick and rolls tonight.

  30. I don’t blame KCAL for the delays, it’s smart business. It is just an annoyance on this blog.

  31. The Dude Abides February 8, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    >

    “I can’t believe we’ve resorted to saying that seriously, with a straight face.”

    Fanerman, I said it with only a partial straight face. For DJ’s limited minutes, all we really need him to do on the offensive end is to not brick dunks that turn into long rebounds and fast breaks for our opponent, or not drop routine passes when he is in a perfect position for a layup or dunk. He also goes to the rim very well when one of his teammates drives to the basket, so he’s usually in good position to receive a pass or get an offensive rebound. These qualities of his were not shared by our recently departed former center, but I will admit that he who shall not be named would have prevented some of those offensive rebounds by Horford.

    I also like DJ’s mobility on defense and his willingness to defend the rim. He’s the kind of guy whose athletic ability could translate into good results on the court when given playing time. Not only should we re-sign him for the rest of this season, but we should also sign him to an extension after the season. I’m sure we could get him for slightly above the minimum.

  32. The Dude Abides February 8, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    ‘Not only can he block shots, but he frequently catches passes.’

    The above sentence was the quoted first sentence in my previous post, but I guess it vanished into the ether.

  33. Gasol nicknames…well the obvious is “Serpico” but I also like “The Apostle” (Pau).

  34. don’t forget, DJ mbenga is being paid by Mark Cuban for this season and next season, at least this is what I think this link means-
    http://hoopshype.com/salaries/dallas.htm

  35. Does anyone know what the status update of Chris Mihm is? I thought he was supposed to play midway through the trip.

  36. SPOILER:

    God damn SOB Evans. Seriously I miss the guy and now he’s reminding us why.

  37. jellosjigglin’ February 8, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    SPOILER!!

    great news guys! the lakers are leaving the magic three point shooters wide open! they’ve hit 7 already and the first quarter isnt even over.

    its just ridiculous.

  38. SPOILER

    Why the hell couldn’t Evans ever shoot like that as a Laker?

  39. SPOILER:
    Too much Brokeback for these eyes…44 points given up in the 1st quarter. Curses on Cook and Evans. LO looks nonexistent in the game.

  40. jellosjigglin’ February 8, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    SPOILER:

    glad to see they learned their lesson by now. oh wait, they haven’t. cook just drained a 3 to end the first. they hit 8 threes on their way to setting a franchise record for most points in a quarter with 44! please phil, do some coaching. earn that money.

  41. SPOILER:

    Is it just me or did Orlando shoot 21-24 in the first quarter. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON??? They also only shot one free throw…HIT SOMEBODY.

  42. jellosjigglin’ February 8, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    BTW guys, if you want to catch the game live, raptorsnation.net is up and working. click the lakers/magic link on the right side navigation

  43. SPOILER

    Hey–if Kobe can’t play in the 3-point contest next weekend, can the Machine to take his place?

  44. while watching tonight’s game, i couldn’t agree more with exhelodrvr’s statement about splitting up Pau’s time at PF and C.

    exhelodrvr suggested:

    Bynum – C – 32 minutes
    Gasol – PF – 16 minutes, backup C – 16
    Odom PF – 32 minutes

    Gasol was doing so much more against their second unit… granted he was paired up with howard at first, but still… i think he would be more effective and provide the team with much needed offensive power.

  45. SPOILER ALERT

    THE MACHINE. Kobe and Gasol have awesome/instant chemistry

  46. man, i love the way how lakers didn’t give up and just kept at it… despite giving up 44 points… in a quarter!

  47. SPOILER: Gasol is just perfect for us on the offenive end. Man, he went on a tear in the 3rd quarter. He has such a pretty stroke for a 7 footer.

    Lakers back in it after a horrible start.

    Not a game we can afford to give away now. our 13 point lead is shrinking a bit.

  48. SPOILER

    Lakers new hobby: Finding new ways how to give up big leads.

  49. Whats up Phil? Pau ain’t worth extra minutes? Walton is killing us. F__cking sit his ass out!

  50. SPOILER ALERT

    Lakers need to run their offense in the 4th like they do the other 3 quarters. Only up 2, 7 mins left

  51. SPOILER

    Phil’s new job… CHEMIST!!! Let’s see, a dash of shasha here, oopps it worked. Hmnnn a drop of radman there, ok it works. Big lead.

    Let’s try somehing new… a scoop of Walton. Opppss not quite working. Let’s keep that walton substance there. Oh, no. its really not working. Lead’s gone, Time-out.

    Well, I guess it really isn’t Phil’s style to ride on the hot combinations. Substitutions, no matter how it may affect the game is a must for this team, I suppose.

  52. SPOILER

    Oh god… I feel like I’ve seen this movie…

  53. SPOILER!

    If we will not be able to execute properly, we are gonna lose this game the same way we did to Atlanta.

    CRAP!!!

  54. SPOILER

    I don’t know what PJ is upset about. Foul looked like it was on the floor, not in shooting.

  55. SPOILER!!!

    HAPPY FOR THE WIN!!!

    Good thing we have enough cushion going to that experimental fourth quarter.

    I hope there’ll be no more games were the team will lose big leads and leave us very disappointed.

    Nice save by the starters!!!

  56. SPOILER!

    THATS RIGHT BABY! THATS HOW WE DO IT!

  57. SPOILER

    Odom got away with one on Lewis, but hey, he was fouled in Detriot and it wasn’t called.

    I’m so glad Fish is on this team, dude has big…stones

  58. SPOILER

    I’m pretty sure a lot of us penciled this as a loss on our predictions and we managed to get a close one. I still cannot believe that we lost to Atlanta but hey, I think the win tonight guarantees we go .500 on this trip at least. Next up, Miami, Charlotte and Minny. Happy days are here… can anyone say 7-2 ?

    Gasol showed what he had in his game. I bet teams are starting to raise eyebrowns on this now that we have given Kobe Batman a legitimate Robin. Not to mention that he has 2 robins when Drew comes back! Oh did I mention that Lamar here becomes Alfred?

  59. ufff, too much suffering. Great effort anyway…

  60. SPOILER

    What was the last time two Lakers had 30 points in the same game? Do we have to go back to when Shaq was here?

  61. –SPOILER–

    wow, what a tight win this was. i appreciated Kobe’s sense of urgency in this game. Dude took some terrible shots, but he played some key defense on Hedo down the stretch.

    I agree with the team, this was a must-win for us. This will give us some momentum, and this was our biggest test remaining before the all-star break.

    Lakers have 3 left till this trip is over – Heat, Bobcats, and T-Wolves. Let’s hope we smell the blood in the air :)

  62. Spoiler

    Now that we’re 4 and 2, how do you guys think we’ll finish the 9 game trip?

    I say 7-2.

  63. Spoiler

    I’ll say 6-3

  64. –SPOILER–

    56 – 6-3 or 7-2 is a must now. anything worse would be a terrible letdown for the team.

    But, being the Lakers has a few curses, one of them is everyone you play comes out playing very hard. Always extra motivation when the Lake Show comes to town. Can’t take anyone for granted.

    But a 7-2 trip would make us 18-10 on the road this year. What a far cry from last year…

  65. What can i say?

    Pau & Kobe

    Kobe & Pau

    Best new couple on NBA.

    And Bynum it’s not even back yet.

    This is the new Lakers.

  66. Spoiler

    I’ll say 7-2 as well. I think that this win will generate enough momentum to carry the Lakers the rest of the way to the all-star break. That, and the Heat, Bobcats, and T-Wolves don’t really seem like that much of a challenge for anybody…

  67. SPOILER!!

    Spoiler doesn’t really work

    SPOILER!!

    Is Kobe and Pau really injured….doesn’t really look like it the way they played tonight.

    END SPOILER!!

  68. Stupid Knicks gave up a 3 at the end of the game to let San Antonio take it into OT, where the Knicks promptly laid down

  69. 68 – yea saw that kwame a. 8 game losing streak. 14-36 record in NYC. sad really.

    check out this article:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/knicks/2008/02/marburys-noshows-part-of-mutin.html

  70. Hmmm, i really don’t like the t-wolves game (5-5 in the last ten and right now:

    SPOILER!

    84-84 against Boston

  71. Man, Pau is the real deal. I just love watching him play. As others have noted, he and Kobe already have a great chemistry together. The thing about Pau is he just doesn’t seem to ever force anything. If he doesn’t have a good shot, he just passes the ball. I saw him do the patented check for blood on his mouth after getting fouled by Howard. Love it.

    On a different note, the Celtics and the Spurs pulled wins out of their butts tonight after boneheaded plays by the T-Wolves and Knicks respectively. The one by the Knicks was the worst: up by 3 with a few seconds left and the guy guarding Finley goes to help on a drive by Ginobli leaving Finley wide open–he promptly nails the 3. Terrible. The Spurs then ran away with it in OT. They have this team beard thing going on.

  72. That just felt like a really essential win, the Lakers needed to win one of these close ones on this trip.

    No one is talking about him much, but Vlad Rad is playing very well. Another well-rounded and efficient game tonight – 32 minutes, 10 points on 5 shots, 5 boards, 4 assists (he’s moving the ball nicely in the offense), 2 steals, a block, no turnovers.

  73. I hated giving that Hawks game away, but was happy to walk away with a win on this one. I only watched the last 6 minutes, but the Lakers had spotty execution in the last 6 min. I mean, iso, iso, absurd passes, missed jumper. Ugh. Guys came through in the end…

    Which leads me to two key plays…and they both included LO. First, LO had that tough shot in the lane, which Howard clearly goaltended on. Then, that block on Lewis was great. Howard set a hard screen (he might have been moving two) but LO somehow got around him and used his length to block Lewis’ jumper. Really good hustle on the block.

  74. it’s a good win, after losing the previous two close game (against pistons and hawks)…at least it shows that we could close game down the stretch

    although 4th quarter looked really scary, we blew a double digit leads.

    overall, i think we have no problem offensively. I think everyone contribute, starters and bench all have a scoring opportunity and making shots. (we shots 53.2% from the fields)

    but we are helped by howard’s foul trouble. if it’s not because of his limited time on court, i think we would lose this game (kudos to pau for drawing 4 fouls from howard)
    this fact surely shows that we have no answer to howard’s huge body (he went 8-8 from the field – BEAST)
    i guess this shows how much we miss bynumite as our defense anchor. cannot wait till he returns

    this game also once again shows that we have a defensive dilemma between stay in the perimeter defense or collapsing to help penetration/post play.
    ORL shots a lot of three and they made more than enough to the liking of PJ.

    1st quarter perimeter defense is horrible. we started getting better once howard is in foul trouble.

    i think we need to improve our defense scheme for these kind of situation, where opponent has a post threat and three points shooter.
    this won’t be a problem when we go against miami, but we need to sort this one out, before playoff (although i have a pretty good answer already – bynum)

    another important note of the game is KOBE is surely one tough guy. Dislocated finger is not an easy injury and he played through it incredibly today. (his shooting percentage could be higher but not bad enough to received a critic) I am pretty sure other players might already sit this one out, while KOBE receive around the clock treatment (I could imagine his finger receive a therapy while he’s sleeping)… awesome guy…his determination is beyond my imagination…(and i am a pretty dreamy guy hahaha)

    GO LAKERS!!!

  75. 57-I thought Odom got away with a foul at first too, but they showed a replay from the side that showed pretty clearly that he got the ball and nothing else. He barely got the ball at that. It was clean. Let’s give Odom credit on this one.

    60-They said the last time two Lakers scored 30+ in a game was back in 04-05 and it was Kobe and Caron.

  76. For all you young pups out there. Elgin Baylor and Jerry West AVERAGED over 30pts/game for an entire season. Now that was a scoring duo.

    Still this was great to watch – after the fact. During the game I was too intent on making sure I could reach my heart medicine easily.

  77. Woot.

    They combined for 66 points, 19 rebounds, 56% FGP. As USA Today put it, “they looked as though they had been playing together for years.”

    Never mind that Kobe is injured, Gasol is recovering from a sore back, they have had a long-stretched road trip so far, and it’s only their third game together.

    Yes, Mr. Kupchak, Odom would have never been able to put those numbers up as Batman’s Robin.

    If you observed the game closely tonight, you would have seen that together they executed the pick-and-roll so flawlessly.

    Kobe has found his “Pippen”.

  78. LO with the key block at the end. Even though he was almost invisible most of the game, he came up with key plays down the stretch. Drawing the goaltending call and blocking the Lewis 3-pt attempt.

    Kobe strayed away from the team near the end of the 4th but it was still a pretty good game for him.

    I’m surprised SVG decided to gamble and leave Dwight Howard in at that stage of the game. Does he not trust the other teammates to deliver? That decision was questionable.

    Lakers bench disappeared but Kobe and Gasol picked up the slack. Hope the bench recovers and the team takes out the last 3 gimme games at the end of the road trip. The West is getting tougher and tougher. Esp. when the Spurs are getting breaks and the Suns just got a break too (Wally from SEA calls a timeout when they have no timeouts left. Sonics were down 1 at that point but that error gave the game away).

    7-2 is very probable for the Lake Show.

  79. I hope we can finish 7-2, but we have this endlessly frustrating inability to easily take care of Charlotte (remember Jumaine Jones 2 yrs ago?) and they lost both games to them last year.
    And let’s just say D-Wade is gonna be more than rdy for Kobe on sunday.
    I think this has been a pretty successful road trip so far, but we really really miss Andrew and our defense has slacked a bit.

  80. 72-I agree with you about the bench. Sasha has played pretty good, and Ronny is adjusting to his new role off the bench. However, Farmar has had a tough trip, especially on the defensive end, and Walton has been terrible. We need Farmar to get going again, and Walton to find a seat at the end of the bench, dude got blocked terribly by BRIAN COOK

  81. Also, in New York, Washington, Atlanta and now Orlando, the crowd has chanted MVP for Kobe. He is the only player in the league who can be an entertainer and dominate the game at the same time, it’s even more apparent on the road.

  82. I’m noticing something about Pau that I don’t recall seeing while he was with Memphis: really emphatic/emotional reactions to plays, like yelling and fist-pumping following an assist or make. His reaction to drawing Dwight’s 3rd foul comes to mind.

    I always figured he was passionate player, just quietly so. For those of you who are more familiar with Pau’s court personality: is this typical for him? And secondly, is he talking smack out there, or just supplying a Ronny-like reaction to big plays?

    I have to say that seeing a 30 & 30 night for Kobe & Gasol put a smile on my face, but back-to-back tentative 4th quarters is something that needs swift attention.

  83. Way to go Wally Sczerbiak…”pulling a Webber” and calling a timeout when they didn’t have any. That clinched the win for the Suns.

  84. Hey people, we got enough of a break with Mitch getting Gasol; don’t complain if other teams don’t beat our competition for us. I will be happy if that is our job – constructed as we are for any type of play.

  85. Watching the end of the game I had no idea why Radmonovic was still in there. He is not a good defender and Kobe was not kicking the ball his way. Kobe got in his take over modes towards the end. Would’ve liked if he passed to the open guys but you live and die with your closer don’t u?

  86. 74, you are right, some players would sit for a finger injury. some would even sit five + games, someone like lebron james.

  87. Craig, at this point in the WC ones assets can be counted as the success of the bottom feeders – there is just too little of a margin and the Bynumite fuse is a few weeks out still.

  88. In my eternal search for depth and prospects, isn’t it better for the Lakers to keep DJ and trade Mihm to some team needing some depth at C?

  89. 74, 85 — Kobe played all but 2 minutes today. Just a site to behold. His play was erratic, but his effort motivated his teammates to step it up a bit. He played so aggressive all game. Massive kudos to him for gutting it out the past 3 games. we almost went 3-0 with our best player hurt. I’ll take that on any road trip in any year!

  90. 86 (Warren),

    DJ has provided us with a little of the frontcourt releif that we’ve needed in this stretch, but I can’t say that I’ve seen anything from him that makes me think that he warrants replacing Chris.

    As far as acquiring depth goes… when Chris is healthy he is–and has been–our second best center. I believe that when he returns he will continue to be that (if you look at Pau as a PF, as he will be when Andy returns).

    On the prospects front, I would be all for getting a first-round pick for him (to replace what we gave up for Pau), but I highly doubt that there’s a team willing to give one of those up for him. The idea of losing him for a second-rounder doesn’t sound all that enticing.

    Frankly, I don’t think we need to worry about making moves at this point; just cross your fingers for the Lakers’ collective health at this point. If that comes to fruition, I think we’re golden.

  91. LO played like a $4 million level player, not a $12-15 million player. With that kind of money, the Lakers can get 3 LOs. He
    is a big zero on the court other than silly turnovers. The “block”? A player never wants to make play like that at the end of the game, at the mercy of the referees. How about the moving screen before that?

    If the Lakers just wants to go to the first round of playoff, LO will do. If they want to go to the final, get someone better. Mark my words.

    Check the stat. An average player should get 1 point per two minutes on the court. Top players like Kobe and Gasol can get 1 points per minute. LO gets about .5 points per 2 minutes. He is simply not worth the $12-15 million salary.

  92. The Saga of Pau Gasol the Laker is going to be more interesting than I realized. He just got tested as a center and more than held his own.

    Many of us were convinced that Gasol/Howard was a matchup nightmare for the Lakers–and for much of the first quarter it appeared that way as Howard seemed to have his way with Pau. However, before the third quarter was over, Dwight was sitting on the bench in serious foul trouble–totally failing on defense and shut down on offense. Pau was doing fine.

    Dwight was a respectable 19-11, but Pau was 30-9. They both had 1 assist. Pau had a block-Dwight had none, and Pau had a turnover-Dwight had 2.

    Could Bynum have done any better?

    All the Laker starters were in double figures and looked good. Despite the score, the Lakers played pretty good defense. That 44 point first quarter completely distorted the game as a whole.

    Watching the new Lakers emerge should continue to force us to think many times before we fully assemble the pieces and put humpty together.

  93. The Dude Abides February 9, 2008 at 1:43 am

    #71-Muffin Man re Knicks/Spurs: that was hilarious. Knicks up three with four seconds left. Manu drives to the hole and is TRIPLE-TEAMED, including the guy who was supposed to stay with Finley beyond the arc. Pass to Finley, he makes the three. LOL-GREAT COACHING by Isiah. After the game, he said the “Spurs know how to win these games. We’ll get there.”

    “Yes, maybe next time we’re up three with four seconds left, I’ll tell my guys to guard the three-point shooters. I wish I’d thought of that tonight. Damn.”

  94. @91: It’s not all about the money and it’s not all about the points. For the money, LO’s contract was NOT signed by us and it is up after next season. To move the 12-15, you have to take back at least 11+. Who’s gonna give up contracts that total 11-12 and expire after next year? Not worth it. And as for the points, please. Lamar is a double-double machine, can pass, ignite the break, can drive, and is so versatile. When Ariza comes back to provide the perimeter defense, and Walton/Radman see less time, you will see how much LO helps this team.

  95. Anonymous (91): Kobe and Gasol score faster than 0.5 pts/min so the others don’t have to. Besides, who are you going to get for Lamar, exactly? Someone has to want to take him.

    If the average per player rate were 0.5 pts/min, anyway, the team would average 120 points.

  96. on mbenga contracts…i just read a latimes article that says lakers are not expected to sign mbenga for the rest of the season.
    the only two reasons i could come up with are:
    1. luxury tax because we are way over salary cap
    2. if you look at ronny’s minutes after pau’s trade, you could see that it’s hard to find minutes for mbenga, even ronny is averaging half of his usual minutes during those games.

    i just hope that we don’t have any injury to our front court anymore.
    personally, i think mihm is better than mbenga. mihm has the skills to make post play (he got a baby hook, turn around jumper, etc). although it’s a bit a stretch now since we don’t know which mihm will show up after this injury.
    but based on the two reasoning above, i could say that signing mbenga is redundant.

    as for prediction of the last 3 road games, i would say we should win all.
    1. Miami…now that shaq no longer there, they don’t have a inside threat (the only big man they have that we should pay attention is haslem – which would be outplayed just by turiaf)…they don’t have a solid perimeter threat too. wade is a better known for his penetration than his shooting ability.
    marion and banks is new addition in their early period of adaptation. (i am sure currently riley’s playbook are still has a bunch of play made for shaq, and without their shaq presence, it will be useless and need to be modified)
    moreover, marion has never been a real threat to lakers when he’s with suns…(suns has nash – so marion in heat without nash, shouldn’t be a real problem) + odom always creates a matchup problem for marion.
    so it would be awful if we lose to miami.

    2. Bobcats….i think we might lose a game in the last 3 games, this probably is the one. Bobcats has the potential to win game against big teams (ask Boston).
    Matchup wise, they are pretty good. they have okafor as their defense anchor and inside presence in the offense. their perimeter players are a pretty good shooting players (richardson, wallace and felton). carroll also is a three point threat. we might need to be really careful against bobcats, although i would say that we should beat them (at least on paper)

    3. Minnesota…well the only players that could be a threat is jefferson. the rest is really just a role player who might show up as a good player in one game and disappear in the other. i think we have more than enough firepower to muscle through this team. we need to win this game.

    so my prediction, we will be 35-17 by the end of this road trip, which will push our record 4 games better than the time we lose bynumite through injury.

    Oh btw, a note about vlad rad. I really think we are seeing his better contribution to the team. if you look at his contribution during this road trip, you can say that he’s getting better. his points is up (high percentage too), better rebounding, better assist, several blocks, he’s penetrating – not just standing in the three point line. so i am pretty confident that we are starting to see the kind of vlad rad we expect to see every game when we signed him for 30 mio.
    personally, i think he’s the type of player you need to have in lakers team. his plays are quite similar with glen rice or later robert horry. we need someone who could rebound a little, pass to open man and shoot with high percentage when left wide open in triangle offense. i think he’s the guy we need. if he keeps developing his inside and penetration game, he might end up like hedo turkoglu, which most of nba pundits think deserved to be put in east all star line ups.

    GO LAKERS!!!

  97. Also, if anything, referees are more reluctant to make the foul call at the end of the game, not less. At any rate, replays show that Lamar got all ball (plus possibly the hand that’s part of the ball).

    His moving screen was hardly that. It’s a slight hip turn on the pass-off that lots of people have done. He shouldn’t have done it, but it’s pretty nitpicky to get after him for that.

  98. Not true. With a total 240 minutes of playing time, each minute of playing time need to generate .5 points to get 120 points. So in average a player should score close to .5 point per minute (or 1 point per two minutes).

    Unless the Lakers can cruise through all the elite teams, they need to upgrade below-average players who are paid $12-15 millions a year. If they want to go to the final, something must be done about getting money’s worth.

    They can get a .3 points per minute player easily for less than $5 million a year. A player in this level can rebound and dribble too, except all the silly turnovers.

    Remember, we are talking about $12-15 million a year.

  99. Forgot to answer the following: 92: “Kobe and Gasol score faster than 0.5 pts/min so the others don’t have to.”

    Not true. Kobe and Gasol have bad games too. That’s when other starters need to step up. A starter that averages about .3 points per minute can hardly fill the void.

  100. Dudes check this out..Gregg Popovich goes nutso on the Pow trade..like I said,we are the Yankees of basketball once again..and i love it..

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/basketball/nba/02/08/popovich.grizzlies/index.html?eref=si_nba

  101. i´m spanish and i read this blog since Pau was traded to LAL. And i´m really learning a lot about NBA with your posts and comments. Thank you everyone who writes here.

    About Pau yesterday… the offensive game is very well but i liked very much how he expelled Howard of the game including two attack fouls; when Howard was out, the work in paint was easier for him.

  102. Not one to work the stat machine (too much like math homework), but has anyone ever done a stat on Kobe’s takeover mode games and contrast or compare that to his willingness to play injured!
    I would be interested to know the over and under on that stat. All of the games that he has played injured, hurt and with off court problems.
    Yes, we have lost some games because Kobe has gone into his takeover mode, but we have also won games when Kobe has played injured or hurt or distracted.
    Kobe will play when other superstars sit, one of the many reasons why he is MY second favorite Laker of all time!

  103. I am wondering where Ariza is, his two-four weeks should be up by now.

    Anyone know anything?

  104. Samy,
    I believe Ariza is also supposed to be about 8 weeks.

  105. 92-The question is not “Can Bynum do better”, it is “how awesome will the Lakers be when Bynum and Pao play together”

  106. Lakers pulled through with another great win last night! K-Pau attacked for some killer numbers (which hasn’t happened very recently in Lakerland). For some perspective, here are the last 6 games where 2 Lakers scored 30 points or more:

    01/08/2008 Bryant 36 Pau 30 117-113 W
    05/02/2007 Bryant 34 Odom 33 110-119 L
    04/08/2005 Bryant 42 Butler 31 117-94 W
    02/18/2004 Bryant 35 O’Neal 31 100-99 W
    02/04/2004 O’Neal 37 Payton 30 111-106 W
    11/06/2003 Bryant 37 O’Neal 35 120-117 W

    Standing at 4-2 (and a couple plays away from 6-0), I think we have a great shot at knocking out the rest of the games for a 7-2 record on the trip.

  107. That dunk by Kobe in the lane last night was OFF THE HOOK. Seriously, the guy is superhuman.

  108. Finally, Lamar comes through in the clutch. Twice at the end of the game. Winning shot and winning block.

  109. Better execution down the stretch but still not good enough… I would have liked to have seen Sasha in there instead of Vlad as Sasha is fearless, plays good man D and does not shy away from taking his shot. With Fish, Sasha, and Gasol, Kobe could give up the ball without fearing that his teammate chokes.

    Kobe was very aggressive offensively. When he’s aggressive he likes to post on the right low block. As this is the only place LO is consistently effective, LO was exiled to wander in the triangle hinterlands. He happened to make his shots. But except for the 2 layups, as we know more than anybody, his 3 pointers are not a good bet.

    If we want LO involed PJ has to run low post sets for him to start the game much like Detroit does for Prince. Remember the Bulls would start every game with 2 plays drawn up for Cartwright starting from the left low block.

  110. I was reading someone’s opinion on ESPN, complaining about the Pau trade, saying we should’ve given up Farmer or Vujacic because Crittenton had more “upside” and a better “basketball body”. Since when has potential become more important than results? This kind of talk annoys me.

  111. Ok so if the 8 weeks is true aboput Bynum he’ll be back on March 9 – which would be a home game against the Clippers.

    Thoughts my amigos?

  112. Ok so if the 8 weeks is true about Bynum he’ll be back on March 9 – which would be a home game against the Clippers.

    Thoughts my amigos?

  113. Louis C,
    Potential huh! Anyone remember Kwame Brown??

    I also really liked Crit’s potential. However, Farmar is now a proven commodity and a very good fit for the triangle. Crit likes the open floor better and will probably flower sooner in Memphis. I think this is a really good move for Crit.

  114. I was wondering about Mbenga, and that I heard that Dallas is paying his salary. if this is the case, then why would we worry about salary cap restrictions?
    and with Shaq coming to the west, I think it makes sense to keep him just for the extra big body to have around, especially if we need to resort of “hack a shaq”.

    can someone explain this about Dallas paying DJ and how this affects us?

  115. I really loved how Pau defended vs Howard last night, really smart, forcing some early fouls and inviting him to have a seat soon. Again it shows how versatile as a player is POW. Gotta love him.

  116. 113 – It’s not salary cap restrictions we’re worried about, but luxury tax penalties. I’m not 100% certain, but I believe the Mavs are paying the remaining guaranteed portion of Mbenga’s rookie contract, this year and next.

    However, even though he’s still collecting paychecks from Dallas, that doesn’t mean we can keep him for free. If we sign him for the rest of the season, we still have to pay him a pro-rated portion of the minimum salary. And since we’re over the luxury tax line, we pay a dolloar-for-dollar penalty on that salary.

    So essentially if we sign Mbenga for, say, $200,000 (I’m just making that number up as an example), after we pay the luxury tax penalty, it ends up costing us $400,000.

    For anyone who has questions about the salary cap, luxury tax and other things relating to the business side of the league, there’s a terrific faq you can check out:
    http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm

  117. I think Mat in 116 hit the nail on the head with Mbenga. The Lakers should get Mihm back soon and they are already paying him, so the theory is he is the other big. I’d like to keep Mbena, as I said, but it’s easy for me to say “it’s just $500,000.”

  118. I don’t know if players and teams can restructure contracts (i confuse salary rules between the MLB and NBA all the time), but if its possible, what are the chances that Kobe would restructure his contract to allow Odom to stay past next season?

  119. 118-

    Nope, restructuring contracts are not allowed under the current CBA.

  120. Kobe’s shooting is still off because of the finger, but it was much better than against Atlanta. He does so much else for the team that you have to play him, and he wouldn’t voluntarily sit out as long as he thinks he can contribute.

    Gasol had a great bounce back game after a mediocre effort in Atlanta.

    Most of the other Lakers played well, with Odom coming up big in crunch time at both ends of the court.

  121. Realistically, how much could Odom be resigned for? I’m not sure which teams will be FA players in 2 years, but I’m guessing he’d be more expensive than Vlad/Walton are, so maybe 2 mil more than the MLE? Puts him around the 7-8 million range.

    Contract restructurings aren’t allowed, but theoretically Kobe could opt out and then resign for less money

  122. This is great! now proclaim the lakers 7-2 on this road trip.

  123. 7-2 is where i made my prediction orginially, but said 6-3 just to be safe. The real bright side to all this is that they could’ve potentially gone undefeated on this road trip had 1) Prince missed one 3-pointer and 2) Kobe didn’t injure his finger causing a few too many turnovers and bad shooting from Kobe. The future looks quite bright for this Lakers team, both this year and for the years to come.

  124. Lakers Bringing Fear To The NBA February 9, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Yeah, they should finish 7-2 on this road trip IF they dont overlook anyone of these teams. Who knows how well Miami will play. Anyone have news if Marion plays? Should beat the Bobcats easily and should definitely beat the T’Wolves as well. Nice game for the lakeshow last night. Kobe seems to be getting better after the pinky injury. Gasol is only gonna get better and better with the triangle, scoring 30 points. Looks real good and hopefully better when Bynum gets back. Agree that they should really be 9-0 on this road trip.

  125. I just want to defend poor LO, who was 2-2 (!) from behind the arc. More seriously, I’m glad that he’s still putting in effort to find his game (more the drives than the jump shooting, and more the defense than that). I think (and hope) he doesn’t read the boards, but I still think it would be pretty easy for him to say “I’ve been replaced” and quit trying. I think he can still be a big asset for us in the stretch run and the play-offs.

    Also, I had mixed feelings about Bryan Cook in the past, but the fact that it was reported that he didn’t play for the first few weeks with the Magic because he “wasn’t in shape” makes me really glad we are rid of him. (It’s not like the Magic are a running team, after all.)

  126. The only thing Odom could do would be sign an extension with the Lakers this summer – to take affect starting next summer. This helps nothing at all for next year, but if he agreed to $7-8M for 2-3 yrs (can’t do 1 yr), then Buss might be willing to pay the Luxury Tax on his salary next year. I just don’t see Lamar doing this unless he really, really wants to stay with the Lakers. The odds are he would be leaving several million dollars on the table if he agreed to this. He won’t be able to command $14M from any team, but he might be offered $9-10M over 5yrs.

    If we win a championship this year or go to the WCF, Lamar might be able to approach Buss and get this done. However, if we only get to the 2nd round, I don’t see Lamar with the Lakers next year.

  127. I think the Bobcats is the trap game of the last 3 on this trip. It’s the Laker’s second of a back to back and Charlotte has some athletes to make it interesting (Wallace, Richardson & Felton). One plus is the Bobcats will also be on the second of a back to back after playing in Detroit Sunday.

    If the Laker’s bench mob is on I think they win easily because the Bobcats aren’t that deep. Otherwise the starters have to control the Bobcats streaky shooters, minimize turnovers and dominate in the paint.

  128. Here’s an interview with Pau Gasol in Spanish. Anything of interest in it . . . . ?

    http://www.elmundo.es/elmundodeporte/2008/02/08/baloncesto/1202508731.html

  129. I guess we have to stick to the shuffle function on our IPods because the DJ’s not coming back…

    But my Bynum prediction was solid.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-lakerep9feb09,1,3243807.story?ctrack=4&cset=true

  130. 126-To add to that worry about the Bobcats (not to disregard Miami at all), we got swept by them last year, including that terribly irritating triple overtime tape delayed game i sat through. Hope Carrol thanks us when we see him, we aided him in netting a multimillion dollar contract with his performances against us

  131. They’re still confused in Phoenix, but the coaching staff has already figured out how to integrate Shaq into the Suns offense. It’s been leaked to the net.

    New Phoenix Suns Playbook:

    4 Roadrunners and an armadillo

    http://www.collegehumor.com/article:1749390

  132. 131-

    Congratulations, you have found THE single funniest thing to come from that trade.

    I snorted. I’ll be on the lookout to see how many times D’antoni goes to “the Stretcher” It’ll be his new bread and butter.

  133. read this on hoopsworld about DJ-
    http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=7335

    pretty impressive about what it says about his character and life experience. between him and Ronnie, they know something more about what matters in this world, like health and freedom.
    I wish the team would keep him.

  134. oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to say this but keep forgetting…
    we all owe drrayeye a Wayne’s world, “we’re not worthy” bow. he’s been saying for months now that Pau would be available and what a difference he would make, (but he never would have ever dreamed we’d get him for Kwame…)
    but he sure was right about Pau! (POW!)
    Dr Ray Eye… here’s to you!
    we’re not worthy! (bowing)

  135. #110 – Look at what we got now in Bynum by holding him (potential) rather than trading him for Kidd (proven results).

  136. #134/5, the craziest part is that a year ago today any Laker fan would have traded Bynum, Odom, and whatever else they wanted to get Gasol. Hell over summer we all would have been content trading Bynum if it meant getting Jermaine O’Neal or both for KG

    I’m pretty sure we are truly lucky that Bynum improved by THIS much. Not even for how much he has made the team better, but just the fact that he went from decent C prospect to untouchable in trade talks is pretty remarkable. A year ago we’re waffling on whether to deal the guy for Jason kidd, an old PG with a huge contract that can’t shoot 3′s consistently…this year Chris Wallace doesn’t even bother trying to pry him loose for a legit all-star PF.

  137. 133
    Thanks for the link chris h, that was a nice article on Mbenga. Reading that really makes me wish we would keep him. I’d much rather root for a guy like that than some of the spoiled, me-first kids coming out of college.

  138. -128 yup, great interview

  139. (134) Thanks–even the blind chicken finds a corn once in awhile.

    The value of Pau Gasol to the Lakers keeps going up. He seems to have learned the triangle in one practice. Despite having a bad back, Pau came to the rescue in his first game as a Laker to save the game when Kobe hurt his hand. Against Orlando, we found that when the game is on the line, Pau has “attitude.” Even as a center, not his natural position, against Dwight Howard, the most dangerous opponent, Pau gets the job done. He makes the players around him better. Pau understands the enormous opportunities that he has as a Laker–and he loves the challenges. His attitude is amazingly similar to Kobe’s. I can understand why other teams in the NBA are scared.

    Pau Gasol has the heart of a champion.

  140. http://hardwoodparoxysm.blogspot.com/2008/02/pau-gasol-learns-best-thing-about-being.html

    It was quite amusing hehe flop or not, I’m pretty sure a whole lot of acting went there (especially with the last one).

    Hmm and what about the no charge zone rule thingie? Is that still in effect? I was wondering about that with the Hedo call.

    And is that another example of home announcer bias? I mean if that was a laker broadcast would they really blatantly call those things as flops?

  141. Hey, I-m form Spain and I enjoy reading you.
    For 128, who posted an interview with Gasol in spanish. It was long and here are the main things he said:
    1 Asked about the optimism around the lakers he said that superiority, real or supposed should not allow them to relax, and they needed more concentration specially to close out games like the Atlanta one.
    2 He said that they have chances to win the ring and that he has been more impressed by Phil Jackson than by Kobe, even though its an honour for him to play with both of them.
    3 He pointed out that he needed to time get more involved and know how to play because he finds himself somwhat lost from time to time.
    4 What he did in Memphis is the past and he has to prove himself now with the lakers.
    5 About the chemistry with Bryant: he answered that they are in the same boat (not shure if that makes sense) becauses all they cared about was winning.
    6 FInally and waht I found more important: His first goal is to be more aggressive, that he has to be a real presence in the paint and establish himself there thereby making kis teammates feel at ease playing with him and maing the most of his screens and assists.

    Hope it makes sense

  142. That makes sense to me, icaro. Your point #5 is a common expression here in the USA…”on the same boat” means that they have the same goal. In this case, that goal is to win. Thanks for the translation.

  143. Seriously tho, there’s no such thing as “Dwight Howard good” — there’s only one Dwight, and his “good” is beyond comparison: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIz7sYjp1Sc