From Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: Laker fans have been disappointed at various times this season. Jerry West is talking about an old team, and Phil Jackson is not correcting him. There has been a lot of talk about lack of effort. But despite all of that, consider that as of this moment, and by a slim margin, John Hollinger’s playoff odds give the Lakers the greatest likelihood, of all 30 teams, of winning the title. There would seem to be no chance we have seen the Lakers’ best basketball of the year, so … are they the favorites?
From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: We all watched the highlights from Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game over the weekend, and in many ways it seemed like watching ancient history. Saturday marked the five-year anniversary of Bryant’s toasting Toronto, and since then his jersey number has gone from No. 8 to No. 24, his teammates have changed from the likes of Smush Parker and Kwame Brown to Pau Gasol and Ron Artest and even head coach Phil Jackson has gotten rid of his goatee, opting for a clean-shaven look. But the most significant change when it comes to Kobe is that the days of his racking up points on the scoreboard like it was a pinball machine may be over.
From C. A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: Late last week, Jerry West spoke ill of the Los Angeles Lakers’ future chances by calling the team old. He thinks the roster’s cumulative age is an important factor in determining the team’s defensive efficiency. He may well be right; Phil Jackson agreed that the team’s age poses certain issues defensively, especially as it pertains to team speed when trying to obtain defensive rebounds, or prevent perimeter penetration. There’s no real way to put West’s old age theory to the test. It’s something that he sees, and something that we all see at least in some form. The degree to which old age will affect the Lakers’ chances in this and upcoming seasons is up for debate, but the team’s veteran hue is inescapable.
From Jeff Miller, OC Register: Kobe Bryant last week called Denver Nuggets fans “stupid” first and then, given the opportunity to clarify, characterized them as “idiots.” Good thing we aren’t a wise guy. Otherwise, we’d point out the stupefying nerve required for Bryant to question the judgment and behavior of anyone while in the greater Denver area. Bryant was talking about the decision of the fans to boo Carmelo Anthony, who has made it known he dreams of playing in New York, which, for the record, isn’t in Colorado or particularly close to the Rocky Mountains. Imagine that, people reacting negatively when told that they’re second-best, if not worse. Talk about ignorance! They should just be thankful that Anthony agreed to accept millions and millions of dollars to grace them with his outrageous skills and god-like presence, even if he won’t play defense.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: The Lakers definitely get defensive when talking about their defense. ??It happened Monday, as word of Jerry West’s recent comments trickled through the locker room and spilled into media interviews after Lakers practice.? ?The NBA legend recently said his former team was having trouble defensively because of ever-advancing age, an observation that could be supported by the fact that 10 of the Lakers’ 14 players are 30 or older.?? Not that Derek Fisher wanted to hear much about it.??” You probably won’t get me to respond in any way to Jerry West.… I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” said Fisher, 36. “But anybody else who has anything to say about how we’ve been playing defensively, it’s just unfounded and not true.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: The Lakers aren’t the only team experiencing technical difficulties this season.?? Technical fouls for unsportsmanlike player behavior have increased 34% across the league from this time a year ago, part of a concerted effort by the NBA to crack down on animated on-court reactions.?? An even bigger jump can be found in rescinded technical fouls, which have increased more than 300% from a year ago.?? Referees have been busy, but the NBA office in New York has been even busier.?? “Each technical is reviewed daily so that we can ensure that both players and officials have a clear understanding of the expectations,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said. “We are very pleased with the results so far this season.”
From Brett Houston, Lakers.com: Coming off two fantastic offensive performances, the Utah Jazz felt good about themselves heading into a five-game road trip. Four games in, that confidence has taken a big hit – and Tuesday night’s finale doesn’t seem likely to restore it. The Jazz try to avoid their first 0-5 road trip in nearly six years by doing something they haven’t done in more than five years and 16 games – beat the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Utah (27-17) went into the trip on a three-game winning streak, averaging 126.0 points and shooting 55.1 percent in its last two home games against a pair of Eastern Conference opponents. That hot shooting disappeared on the Eastern portion of the Jazz’s five-game trip. Utah shot 42.2 percent and averaged just 91.8 points in dropping all four games, with Saturday’s 96-85 loss at Philadelphia the third to a sub-.500 opponent.
From Jeff Fogle, Hoopdata: ESPN ran a story Monday explaining that former GM Jerry West and current head coach Phil Jackson were concerned that age and a lack of speed was inhibiting the Los Angeles Lakers’ defense. West was quoted as saying: “If there’s a loose ball now, how often do they get to it? The reason you can’t play defense is because you can’t.” Jackson agreed: “He’s right. We have to do a lot of things right to be able to play defense the way we want to, and most of it is about controlling the tempo of a game. There’s something about just speed. Outright speed. We’re not the fastest team on the boards here in the NBA, but we can do it if we control things in the right way.”