From Silver Screen and Roll: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the biggest question facing the Los Angeles Lakers this postseason is whether or not they are capable of “flipping the switch”. It matters a great deal, because over the past month or so, the Lakers have looked more like a lottery team than a champion. If the Lakers are capable of willing themselves to dramatic improvement, through focus, effort, and execution, they remain at least a contender for the title, if not the favorite. If their struggles were indicative of the team’s true “self”, the season will probably end sooner than we’re all comfortable with.
From the Los Angeles Times’ Lakers Blog (with Video): Lakers guard Kobe Bryant stood surrounded by a pack of reporters with cameras, tape recorders and questions. He stared back offering a subdued demeanor, quiet and clipped answers and barely let out a smile. The only time he let one out was when he was asked about D.J. Mbenga’s orange-tinted glasses after the reserve center’s recent eye surgery, before offering a simple “They’re nice” response.
From the Los Angeles Times: The emotions used to express the mood of the Lakers would be as varied as their two most recognizable faces Monday. Kobe Bryant would be the frowning icon, continuing to act unhappy around teammates and the media. “I’m just moody today, I guess,” he said between terse, monosyllabic answers to reporters’ questions. A bit later, the smiley face of the group, Coach Phil Jackson, grabbed a remote control to turn down a too-loud TV in an interview room before sitting down with the media.
From Land O’ Lakers (with video): Not Kobe Bryant, center of the Laker universe. Nor Andrew Bynum, whose return played a key role in Sunday’s victory. It wasn’t even D.J. Mbenga, whose future is so bright, he’s gotta wear shades. (Yes, technically speaking, the orange-tinted shades are more about protecting D.J.’s eye than a bright future, but if you think I’d turn down an easy Timbuk3 reference, frankly, you don’t know me. While he’s not officially cleared yet for action on Tuesday, Mbenga said he’s feeling better and seemed in good spirits. When I mentioned how he and Jack Nicholson are now the coolest guys in Staples with their indoor sunglasses, D.J. busted out a big laugh.)
From Land O’ Lakers: When you see a photo of a Lakers player dressed in his purple and gold on the court in a newspaper, magazine or on a Web site, odds are it came from the lens of the camera of one man: Andy Bernstein. Bernstein is the Lakers official team photographer and has been with the franchise for nearly three decades. He is also a senior photographer for the NBA and has chronicled everything from a regular season game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves in March, to all six of Michael Jordan’s championships with the Bulls. Bernstein chatted with ESPN.com/LosAngeles looking back at the pictures that have illustrated his career. 10 Questions with Andy Bernstein …
From the OC Register: The NBA isn’t all glamour and bright lights. Day in and day out for nearly six months, Lakers players and coaches go over strategies, scouting reports and watch film. Then they run the court, practicing offensive moves and defensive schemes. After all the running, they engage in several minutes of free throw shooting and full-court drills. Then in comes the media, who want to know all the minute details of how the Lakers plan to stop their opponents. Monday was no different, except for the number of reporters and TV cameramen.
From NBA Fan House: If Kobe Bryant is still standing in mid-June, his fifth trophy held in his hurting hand and his march to match Michael Jordan’s six titles still on track, this is one championship that won’t have been won on his Atlas-like back. It’s his middle finger that will have carried the weight of his world. And that, make no mistake, would be perfectly poetic.
This is a great post on the Artest-Durant battle from The Daily Thunder (with video): I think we can all agree that Ron Artest did a terrific job on Kevin Durant yesterday. KD went just 7-24 from the floor and took eight 3-pointers, hitting only one. He took almost all jumpers, and never looked comfortable. A lot of it had to do with some visible nerves early in the game, but most of it was because of Artest just being a pest. He was disruptive in every way, pushing, pulling and grabbing Durant around every corner. Here are five plays Durant was stopped and on the end, one successful trip down the floor.