From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: It’s a testament to the relative health this season of the Lakers- and certainly Kobe Bryant- that 24′s ailing left ankle gets it’s own “watch,” despite playing Monday night against Orlando. As it was Wednesday, Bryant neither practiced nor spoke to the media Thursday afternoon, but another happy report on his condition was delivered by Phil Jackson. Certainly there’s no reason to believe Bryant won’t be ready Friday night against the Timberwolves. “I think there’s progress, but we didn’t have him on the court today. He stayed off it,” Jackson said of Kobe. “We’ll just see. We’ll see how it is tomorrow, and go from there. He says it’s got strength. He’s got good strength in his ankle. It’s still swollen quite a bit, but he has the strength in it that he feels he can play.”
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: If you missed it, GQ Magazine named Lakers fans the 15th worst in American sports. Because their little blurb on the purple and gold faithful contains a word best not associated with a family website, you’ll have to find the link yourself. Suffice to say, the logic of the writer’s argument is based more on stereotypes than actual knowledge of Lakers loyalists- my inbox, along with a zillion straight sellouts, ubiquitous car flags, etc. attests to their collective passion- and aspects of the Staples Center experience, admittedly less raucous on a typical Tuesday night than some buildings around the NBA. (Though, it should be noted, much more raucous- and more importantly, much more filled- than others.) Still, insofar as the celebrity culture is concerned, Lakers fans have a well-earned high brow rep, one Ron Artest wasn’t afraid to tease a little this afternoon in El Segundo.
From Wandahbap, Silver Screen and Roll: 1. The Thunder are the scariest team in the West. The Lakers’ recent victories over the Spurs and Mavericks just reinforced what we’ve already known. Both teams just simply aren’t big enough, or good enough to compete with the Lakers at maximum capacity. Are the Spurs and Mavs better than last year? Sure, but neither team can bother the Lakers upfront like the Thunder can with Serge Ibaka’s athleticism added to Perkins’ defensive prowess. The Thunder have the most potential of the three teams, and it will be their defense that sets them apart from the other two. 2. Having said that… With Andrew Bynum playing as well as he is, the Lakers (in my opinion) have the best defense in the NBA by far. Neither Ibaka, Perkins, Collison nor Mohammed can deal with Bynum. He’s that much of a difference maker. It was defense that enabled them to win the past two championships, and it’s Bynum’s game-changing dominance that has made the Lakers 10-1 since the All-Star break, and gives the potential to be better than the previous two years.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: It won’t be long before everyone knows whether Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will suit up Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves while nursing a sprained left ankle. It’s debatable whether that issue is even an uncertainty considering Bryant’s tendency to play through injuries and the Lakers’ three-day lapse since their 97-84 victory Monday over the Orlando Magic gave him more time than usual to get the necessary medical treatment. Still, it’s an issue that will likely extend beyond the Lakers’ game against Minnesota with only 14 regular season games remaining. So when you vote in the latest poll, it’s necessary to consider a few factors. Should Bryant rest in games because health for this team remains the No. 1 priority? Should he rest against teams considered highly mediocre opponents? Or would it be bad to risk anything since the Lakers are competing with the Mavericks for second place in the Western Conference?
From Mark Medina, LA Times: If there was any such exercise that’s the equivalent of throwing red meat to the masses to devour, this would be the perfect item. Sure, there are plenty of Laker stories that cause division and uprising. There’s an Andrew Bynum injury, questioning of Kobe Bryant’s shot selection, debating the Lakers’ all-time greatest players, Luke Walton’s contract and any praise for the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat. But this one surpasses them all — questioning the Lakers’ fanhood. The latest issue of GQ Magazine ranks the top 15 worst sports fans in the country and to no one’s surprise, Lakers fans are on that list. Below is the excerpt:
From Billy Witz, Fox Sports: As the Lakers have gotten their game together since the All-Star break, it is no coincidence that most players have settled into a comfort zone. Most noticeably, Andrew Bynum has become a terror defending his basket and attacking rebounds. But Pau Gasol has regained his early season legs – as much as can be expected anyway – along with his shooting touch. Ron Artest is concerned only with defending the other team’s best perimeter player. Kobe Bryant, with the exception of late in the Miami loss, has taken his shots within the offense and has even shown fits of disruptive defense. And Lamar Odom, as usual, is doing whatever is necessary. Even the bench no longer looks like an albatross. It is starting to contribute enough energy, defense and points – particularly in Monday’s win over Orlando – that it no longer looks as if the starters will have to survive 40 minutes a night in the playoffs.