From Broderick Turner, LA Times: Almost 19 minutes more of playing time, and Kobe Bryant still can’t find his shot. Bryant took 10 shots Wednesday night in an exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings and made just two, finishing with seven points. He now is four for 28 from the field in three games. Bryant still is trying to get his legs back after having right knee surgery during the off-season. “He looked better to us,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said after his team defeated the Kings, 98-95, at Thomas & Mack Center. “He was two for 10 and he didn’t shoot the ball well, but he ran like he was more fluid in his running and it looks more like he’s starting to have a little bounce in his step. So I was pleased even though he didn’t shoot the ball well.”
From Mark Medina, LA Times (With Video): Long after practice ended, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant remained on the floor going through a seemingly never-ending routine. While the media talked with Coach Phil Jackson, partly to talk about Bryant’s four-of-28 clip through three exhibition games, Bryant remained on the floor shooting. While the media waited along the sideline to hear the latest on his surgically repaired right knee, Bryant remained on the floor shooting. And while former Laker Rick Fox waited to catch up with his former teammate, Bryant remained on the floor shooting.
From Mark Medina, LA Times (With Video): One of the many reasons to love Ron Artest is that you know every interview will be quotable, funny and/or memorable. You just never know where it’s going to go sometimes. Artest touched on many topics, such as the team’s current play, coming off a championship season, his charitable efforts, the Miami Heat and Kevin Durant. In fact, Artest made a point, unprompted as well, to declare Durant the second-best player in the NBA (behind Kobe Bryant, of course). Moments later in the interview, I made sure to bring that topic up again and ask Artest the thought process behind his rankings. “I think Kobe’s got five rings, six-game winners [last season], 23 straight points in the playoffs, mostly jump shots, couple attacks, big-shot maker,” Artest said. “So that said, Durant’s second-best player in the NBA.”
From Mark Medina, LA Times: As the Lakers tried on their 2009 championship rings, Ron Artest remained in the locker room, insistent that he didn’t deserve to witness the ceremony. As the Lakers were honored by President Obama for their championship run, Artest remained in his hotel room, insistent that he felt sick. And as the Lakers get ready for the season opener Oct. 26 against the Houston Rockets, Artest says he’s insistent on auctioning off his championship ring to help charitable efforts involving mental health issues. “I’ll look at it and put it back in the box,” Artest said.
From David Lassen, The Press Enterprise: Kobe Bryant remained on the court well after the Lakers’ practice Thursday, shooting. And shooting. And shooting. Bryant was 2 for 10 from the field in Wednesday’s 98-95 exhibition win over Sacramento in Las Vegas, and is 4 for 28 — a .143 shooting percentage — in the three exhibitions. But that wasn’t what prompted the extra shooting work. “I’ve been doing it,” Bryant said. “I normally do it before practice, here three and a half, four hours before practice. Today I wanted to make sure my legs were fresh for the scrimmage, so we did it after practice instead.”
From Mike Truddell, Basket Blog: Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic suffered a concussion after being inadvertently struck in the face, just below the left eye, by an errant elbow from Lamar Odom in Thursday’s practice. Vujacic will be monitored closely and re-evaluated on Friday, but for now is considered out indefinitely from basketball activity.
From Robert Baptista, Silver Screen and Roll: Eleven championships in nineteen seasons. We’ll all remember that Jordan had his Era, or that Kobe had his, but realistically, it was the Phil Jackson Era. It was under Big Chief Triangle’s guidance that talented teams became championship teams. All-Time great teams. Dynasties. Phil’s teams didn’t just win, they dominated. Completely. Those who try to slight Phil will bring up the talent he had playing for him. Jordan, Pippen, Grant, Rodman, Shaq, Kobe, Pau, Lamar, and Ron. True, those are some great players, but hasn’t Mike D’Antoni coached great talent. Hasn’t George Karl? Or even Jerry Sloan? No rings on their fingers. How about the ones that have won Championships with great talent? Larry Brown. Doc Rivers. Gregg Popovich. None of them has gone back-to-back, never mind have the chance to win a fourth three-peat. Phil has lost sometimes as well, but it was in some of the “losing” campaigns that have brought out the Zen Master’s finest work.
From Dimitri, Hoopsnotes: The Mavericks don’t have to send the message to the Lakers by e-mail or Federal Express. They can ship it Parcel Post since the teams don’t meet until Jan. 19. Regardless, the message is simple: Dallas is gunning for the Lakers. “That’s our goal,” said Mavericks guard Jason Terry. “They’re the champs. We’re coming for them. Last year, we were No. 2. We made some moves and this year we feel we can push them all the way to No. 1.” The Mavericks thought they could challenge the Lakers last season after a deal during All-Star Weekend in which they acquired forward Caron Butler and center Brendan Haywood from Washington. It appeared the teams might meet in the Western Conference finals after the Mavericks went 23-7 following the trade to finish 55-27 and secure the No. 2 seed behind the Lakers.