Archives For March 2012

It’s Deadline Day

Darius Soriano —  March 15, 2012

UPDATE: Well, the Lakers got the point guard they’ve been linked to for weeks, acquiring Ramon Sessions from the Cavs according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The deal also includes forward Christian Eyenga coming to the Lakers in exchange for Luke Walton and the Lakers 2012 1st round draft pick. (UPDATE #2: Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Jason Kapono was also part of this deal and is headed to Cleveland.) The inclusion of Walton means that the Lakers trade exception from the Lamar Odom trade is still intact and could be used in another deal before the trade deadline comes at noon PT today.

We’ll have more on this acquisition a bit later, but for now you can all feel good about this trade. Sessions is a solid PG that will help this Lakers team this season.

As an aside, my best wishes go out to Luke Walton. I know he’s been a whipping boy for years among the Lakers fan base. His salary was too high and his productivity too low. However, he was a pro’s pro and by all accounts a great teammate. His body betrayed him in recent seasons and injuries robbed him of having a more productive career. He was best suited to the Triangle offense but his instincts as a passer and his want to help his teammates get good shots always left a mark on me.

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The trade deadline is finally here. Today is the day that all the rumors and whispers of deals come to fruition or whither on the vine and die. And we’ll be hear to cover the news the best we can.

From the Lakers side, we’ll see if any of the deals being speculated on actually happen. Reports still point to the Lakers having strong interest in both Michael Beasley and Ramon Sessions. To acquire Beasley, the  rumored deal is a three-team trade between the Lakers, Blazers, and Timberwolves where the principle players moving would be Steve Blake (to the Blazers), Jamal Crawford (to the T’Wolves), and Beasley (to the Lakers). What many aren’t mentioning is that this trade doesn’t work under the collective bargaining agreement unless the Lakers either include another player to match salaries or they absorb Beasley into the Lamar Odom TPE. I’d guess the Lakers would try to include more salary, as that would fit their m.o. of not wanting to take on additional payroll.

As for Sessions, the rumored deal is either a three team trade between the Lakers, Rockets, and Cavs where Jonny Flynn and draft picks would be on the move between the three teams with the Lakers landing Sessions or a straight up trade between the Lakers and Cavs in which the Lakers give up a first round pick for the Cavalier guard. Sessions’ ability to opt out of his contract at the end of this season complicates things as the Lakers may not bee keen on giving up a first round pick for a rental lasting through the end of the year. That said, if the team actually deals Blake in the aforementioned Beasley trade, they’ll need another PG on the roster by the end of the day.

Ultimately, though, these are all still just rumors. Whether or not the Lakers actually make a move remains to be seen. What we do know, however, is that there will be actual moves made today by other teams and we’ll be here to talk about those.

Box Score: Lakers 107, Hornets 101
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 117.6, Hornets 111.0
True Shooting %: Lakers 59.6%, Hornets 57.5%

Lakers go into the tail end of a back-to-back with TIRED legs. They played a double overtime game against Memphis the night before. But no rest for these weary Lakers.

THE GOOD
After a bit of a slow start (well, for most of these Lakers), Kobe Bryant looked like he had control out there. Kobe finished with 33 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was key in that 14-4 run in the 3rd quarter after the Hornets had them down as many as 17 points (for the second consecutive night, the Lakers had to overcome a 17-point deficit on the road). Kobe made some pretty big plays down the stretch. Of course, there were the three freethrows he made to send the game to overtime. And then he made a pretty big throwdown (and the foul) for a three-point play at the start of overtime. And, of course, the two freethrows to put the game away. Sure, he could shoot better than 10 for 23 from the field (but PERFECT in his 11 foul shots) but he, like the rest of the Lakers, never panicked.

And you shouldn’t panic when you have an All-Star center like Andrew Bynum. Darius calls him Altered Beast (I’m sure you guys remember that game, right? No? We must be old then.). This monster finished with 25 points and 18 rebounds (following a fantastic 37/16 effort the night before). Those alley-oops upside your heads from Pau Gasol have become a Laker signature play. I also love that the Lakers now trust him to do damage in the final few minutes of a game. And did you see his quick moves around the basket? Particularly that spin and reverse lay-up against Chris Kaman? I have never seen him move this fast… ever. I wonder which Laker fans want to trade him now after these showings.

Metta World Peace has impeccable timing when it comes to making big plays. He made a 3-pointer late in the 4th quarter. He had an incredible inbounds pass to Kobe for a shot that would’ve won at regulation. In OT, he passed it to an open Derek Fisher that put the Lakers ahead for good. Then he followed it up with a steal and a lay-up that put them up three. Finally, he blocked Chris Kaman near the end of the game when Hornets were desperate for a score. Metta didn’t have incredible statistics (7 points and 3 assists) but he just has that big play ability when you least expect it. You would think his hands were like E. Honda’s 100-Hand Slap from Street Fighter the way he gets his hands on the basketball.

Pau Gasol finished with another double double (18 points and 10 rebounds). Derek Fisher (11 points) hit some big shots. And Matt Barnes finished with 10 points.

The Lakers finished with 24 assists so I really like that they trust each other out there on the court. After a slow start, the Lakers outboarded the Hornets, 44-34 (11-5 on the offensive end). And they really bore down defensively in the 2nd half. L.A held N’Awlins to 16 points (8/19 shooting) in the 3rd quarter. Not counting OT, the Hornets only scored 39 points in the 3rd and 4th quarters combined.

Somehow, the Lakers found their Gummi Berry Juice in that second half.

THE BAD
You can definitely tell the Lakers looked tired early. The Hornets shot above 60 percent in the first half and put the Lakers in a double digit hole. And the reason why Laker fans are clamoring for more point guard help? In the first half, Jarrett Jack made his first 8 shots (his ninth was a 3-pointer that missed) and back-up Greivis Vasquez made his first four. Jarrett Jack eventually finished with 30 points (even though it did get tougher for him in the 2nd half) with Vasquez chipping in 15. So when your opposing PGs score 45 on you, well… you either find a new PG or quit life (no, I’m kidding but…).

It was really mostly in the first half that the Hornets looked like worldbeaters but Chris Kaman was getting into the paint easily (13 of his 21 in the first two quarters). It’s like my 5’7″ self was guarding him. It was a combination of the Hornets taking advantage of the tired Laker legs and making nearly everything from the perimeter. So in a way, it was a bit encouraging that we knew the Hornets weren’t likely going to keep that pace up. Going into this game, the Hornets were averaging a whopping 88.2 points per game (good for 29th in the league).

The bench finished with 13 points (10 from Barnes, 3 from Steve Blake). And Mike Brown went back to Jason Kapono again instead of Andrew Goudelock. So what did Jason Kapono do again in this game?

I’ll wait.

THE UGLY
Once again, this seems like a product of tired legs in the first half… but the Lakers turned the ball over 19 times. 12 giveaways in the first half and 8 of those came from the second quarter.

But it, at least, made for an awesome comeback in the second half, right? What? You don’t like come-from-behind victories as opposed to Laker blowout wins? Sorry. Neither do I, actually, when it comes to these Lakers.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
So much to pick from. I can pick from one of the Pau/Drew alley-oops. Or Kobe throwing it down like he’s 21 again. Or Andrew Bynum packing the hell out of Jeff Foote’s (who?) hook shot. But I’ll give it to big-play Ron Artest, er, Metta World Peace with the steal and the breakaway lay-up that put the Lakers up 3 in OT. I can’t say enough on how he’s been coming through as of late. Metta has to think that every game from here on out is a big game.

The Lakers go back to the very comfortable Staples Center, where they’ve only had 2 blemishes in 20 contests. They have the Ricky Rubio-less Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Still, these guys are fighting for a playoff spot and Kevin Love isn’t exactly a chicken sandwich. It should be another hard-fought battle at Staples.

Two personal notes from me. 1) I can’t wait for Thursday to be done. I mostly hate (kinda like) the trade deadline so I’ll be glad when that’s over with. And 2) the last six games I was scheduled to do recap duty here, the Lakers won. I’m jinxing myself now, aren’t I? I’ll just shut up about this.

By Friday, we may have some new pieces! Let’s see what happens next!

Lakers are now only two games behind #2 San Antonio. The Lakers face the Spurs three times in April.

Records: Lakers: 26-16 (3rd in West), Hornets: 10-32 (15th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers: 104.1 (14th in NBA), Hornets: 99.1 (29th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers: 101.4 (9th in NBA), Hornets: 104.9 (17th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Hornets: Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, Al-Farouq Aminu, Gustavo Ayon, Chris Kaman
Injuries: Lakers: none; Hornets: Eric Gordon (out), Emeka Okafor (out), Carl Landry (questionable)

The Lakers Coming In: On the eve of a trade deadline that is looks to be less eventful than originally expected, I imagine one question more than any other is ricocheting inside the heads of much of Laker Nation… how the hell is this season going so well?

Amid an unrelenting barrage of speculation and innuendo, the Lakers, on the heels of the season’s most impressive road victory, cruise into the Crescent City winners of three straight and seven of ten, two games clear of the Clippers for the Pacific Division’s top spot and two behind the Spurs for #2 in the West. Behind a monstrous effort from Andrew Bynum (37 points, on 15-of-18 from the field, and 16 rebounds), a strong showing by Steve Blake (9-5-5, with three 3-pointers) a 34-9-5 from Kobe Bryant, the Lakers successfully kicked off a vital 20-day stretch –12 games, all against Western Conference opposition, eight featuring opponents currently less than three games out of a playoff spot. This is one of the gimmes.

Unfortunately, Laker teams of the past (like, last week) have assembled an impressive legacy of stumbling in games exactly like this one…

The Hornets Coming In: On this night, however, the Lakers encounter an opponent with interests perfectly aligned with their own.

From the moment in December that Chris Paul was Western-bound, the Hornets sights were set squarely on the lottery. A seemingly foolproof plan to secure two of the first 10 selections in June’s draft fizzling further with each Timberwolves win, it is now more important than ever for these Hornet to maintain their focus and probe as deep into the standing as possible. Winners of less than a quarter of their 42 games, the Hornets – despite the best efforts of Jarrett Jack, surprise rookie Gustavo Ayon and, when allowed, Chris Kaman – ensconced in the Western Conference cellar, will have their sights set on the lofty depths currently inhabited by the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats, who, respectively, trail the Nola by one and four games.

Apologies for the flippancy, but there is precious little drama to be found in the story of a team whose primary objective over the next 20 hours will be to jettison a pair of NBA-caliber (good, even!) centers in exchange for as little as possible.

Hornets Blogs: Both At The Hive and Hornets247 do an excellent job covering the Hornets. Give these guys a read.

Keys to the Game: Show up. Sorry, there I go again.

The Hornets’ three biggest strengths – an immense body in the middle capable of making Andrew Bynum works for his touches, a physical point guard and a long and athletic wing defender – do happen to coincide with the to-do list for defeating the Lakers. Additionally, Wednesday night represents the trio’s final opportunity to showcase their respective abilities to potential saviors, err, acquirers, prior to the deadline.

But seriously, provided the Lakers are mentally present and focused on Wednesday night, there is no reason to expect anything other than an uneventful, businesslike victory.

Where You Can Watch: 5pm start time on KCAL. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  March 14, 2012

The Lakers beat Memphis last night in double overtime – Andrew Bynum went absolutely beast with 37 points and 16 rebounds. The team plays in New Orleans tonight. The season continues its up and down ways but somehow, the Lakers are now in a solid third place slot. They’re not going to catch OKC but the Spurs are within sight. The storyline around the league of course is the trade deadline – tomorrow is D-day. It has been a relatively quiet barter period this season – due largely to a compressed schedule and the future impact of the new CBA. So far, the majority of noise has come from Dwight Howard who simply cannot resist the urge to issue wholly contradictory proclamations – should I stay or should I go now?

The Lakers should just say no to Dwight Howard – so says C.A. Clark at Silver Screen and Roll.

Danny Chau at Hardwood Paroxysm looks at Dwight’s potential as a villain.

Kevin Ding at the OC Register looks at Pau Gasol’s evolving role as the man behind the man.

It has been a surreal season for Gasol writes Mike Bresnahan at the L.A. Times, but a trade now looks unlikely.

Derek Fisher is at once, one of the hardest working and most maligned guards in the NBA. Daniel Buerge at Lakers Nation reports on Fish’s 10,000 points milestone.

Andrew Bogut’s broken ankle and Captain Jack are heading to Golden State. Kurt Helin at ProBasketBallTalk breaks down one of the stranger recent multi-player trades. The Bucks get Monta and the ever impressive Kwame Brown.

Zach Harper at HoopSpeak also writes about the Warriors/Bucks trade – hilariously.

Brian Kamenetzky at the Land O’Lakers offers insight into tonight’s game against the 10-win Hornets.

Bro Andy has the rapid reaction recap to last night’s double OT win.

ESPN’s The Announcement was on the other night. It’s the moving, well told story of Magic Johnson’s journey with HIV. Jan Hubbard, one of basketball’s finer writers, reflects on the story in Sheridan Hoops.

***

While there’s still the possibility of a Lakers trade (Sessions and Felton remain tangentially in the mix), there’s nothing tangible to report at the moment. We’ll all be monitoring events on the ground as they say – stay tuned and comment at will.

– Dave Murphy

Lakers 116 – Grizzlies 111 Box Score

The Good

In a gutsy, hard-fought game, the Lakers escaped Memphis with a win after playing two extra periods. Dominating for most of the game, Andrew Bynum brought the Lakers back from an early deficit, shooting 7-9 in the 1st half, finishing with a monstrous 15-18 for 37 points and 16 rebounds. For much of the 2nd quarter, Bynum and Marc Gasol seemingly traded punches for their teams, each team going exclusively into their big guys, Bynum’s power game against Gasol’s running hook shot and turnaround jumpers. The younger Gasol couldn’t keep pace, however, finishing 10-25 with 20 points and 10 boards.

Additionally, Kobe played a very controlled game, shooting only 5 times in the 1st half. It was in the 2nd half where he tried to take over, to somewhat mixed results. Many times, Kobe’s offensive brilliance allowed him to take and make shots that only he could; other times, Tony Allen and Quincy Pondexter really bothered Kobe, forcing to take several heavily contested shots. Kobe, however, adjusted his game and became a playmaker in the 4th quarter and both overtimes (more on that later).

Honorable mention goes to Steve Blake, who made 3-4 three pointers and ran the offense fairly smoothly. The Lakers defense also should get some credit, overcoming a 17 point deficit in the 3rd quarter to come back and tie the game in regulation before going on to win in double OT.

The Bad

Getting that deficit, however, I would not describe as “good.” Darius mentioned in the preview that two big things the Lakers had to watch out for were to 1.) not turn the ball over, and 2.) force the Grizzlies to shoot jump shots. Well the Lakers did the 2nd one fairly well, only to have Marreese Speights go crazy with his jump shot, sinking 9-13 at one point and finishing 12-20 for a season high 25 points. Tony Allen also started the game hot, going 5-8 (great by his standards), all on long jump shots.

The Lakers were still their own greatest enemy, turning the ball over 18 times, leading to 24 points for the Grizz. Many of these TOs were simply careless passes on the perimeter, things that shouldn’t happen in practice let alone a game. Credit the swarming defense of the Grizzlies, however, for taking advantage of these mistakes.

The Ugly

I think someone needs to check the stats on how well Metta World Peace shoots each game after either a.) making his first shot, or b.) missing his first shot. Against the Celtics, he made his first three, had a great game, and was a huge factor in that win. Today against the Grizz, he missed his first three, and went on to finish the game 1-7, missing all 5 of his attempts from 3 as well as three free throws. Today also marked another game where Troy Murphy, Matt Barnes, and Andrew Goudelock were mostly non-factors, and Josh McRoberts somehow played 6 minutes with 1 board and 1 assist. And this section wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include OJ Mayo, who shot 7-25 for the Grizz, including 0-8 from three, doing a lot to help the Lakers in the second overtime.

The Play of the Game

While I can’t point to a single play, I can point to a single set that the Lakers ran multiple times to excellent results. With Kobe handling the ball on the wing, Gasol comes to set a screen. Kobe goes over the screen, drawing both Gasol’s man and his own defender. Holding the ball for just a moment, Kobe hits Gasol with either a crisp bounce pass or a pass over the top. Gasol, with an open lane to the basket, sees Bynum’s man rotate to him on the closeout. Then, putting up a picture perfect lob, Bynum throws it down ferociously for two easy points. As Darius said, when the Lakers big 3 run that side pick and roll, it’s like a cheat code. The Lakers easily ran this set 4 times this game, including once in each OT session.

This just goes to show how irreplaceable each of these three guys are. Very few guards could draw the defense as well as Kobe, very few bigs can force the defense to close out and have the skill to make a pin point lob as Pau, and very few centers have the athleticism to throw down anything in the vicinity of the rim, even in traffic, as Bynum.

Overall, this was a tough win by the Lakers, and in a season in which road wins are rare, it makes this one all the more worthwhile.

-Zephid

Records: Lakers 25-16 (3rd in West), Grizzlies 24-16 (4th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 104.0 (15th in NBA), Grizzlies 102.7 (19th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 101.4 (9th in NBA), Grizzlies 100.3 (6th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Sam Young, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Injuries: Lakers: none; Grizzlies: Zach Randolph (out), Rudy Gay (out), Darrell Arthur (out)

The Lakers Coming in: Tell me if this sounds familiar: The Lakers are coming off an important game at home that left them in high spirits after claiming the W. In that game they got a big contribution from the Artest I call Ron and now leave the friendly confines of Staples Center to go on the road. In order to secure the win, the Lakers best players had to play heavy minutes but in the moment that mattered little as the win was all that mattered.

If your memory hasn’t been jogged yet, I’ll fill in the blanks: Last week, the Lakers beat the Heat in a statement game in a Sunday matinee contest that they hoped would give them a spark. The day before yesterday, the Lakers beat the Celtics in a game that was played under the exact same circumstances with the same desired after affects on everyone’s mind. However, after the win over the Heat, the Lakers went on the road and played lazy, uninspired basketball and dropped two games on back to back nights against the Pistons and Wizards. Today, they’re on the road and play their first game of a back to back against the Grizzlies and go to New Orleans to face the Hornets tomorrow.

Have the Lakers learned their lesson? Tonight we find out.

The Grizzlies Coming in: The Grizz have won 6 of 7 and 12 of their last 15. They’ve gone from questionable playoff team to 4th in the conference – which could move up to 3rd with a win tonight. They’ve been playing great defense, getting offensive contributions from a variety of players, and have exceeded nearly all expectations for this season after the injuries suffered to Zach Randolph and Darrell Arthur to start the year. How Lionel Hollins’ name isn’t mentioned more often for coach of the year is beyond me.

All that said, the Grizz enter tonight’s game more banged up than usual with Rudy Gay ruled out due to a mild concussion he suffered two days ago. According to this report, he’s gone through the mandated tests to be cleared the past two days and has not passed them. Gay’s absence obviously hurts the team but with their strong play of late and momentum on their side, I still expect a great effort from them tonight.

Grizzlies Blogs: 3 Shades of Blue does a great job covering the Grizz. Give their site a read.

Keys to game: On the surface, the Grizz are a team that matches up well with the Lakers. They start two big men with good size, have an elite wing defender, have a quick PG, and do wonders in transition off forcing turnovers. Their formula to win games is to pressure the ball, defend the paint, and outrun teams to get good shots in transition. When in the half court, they rely on P&R’s and off ball movement with Gasol intiating from the elbow area as a trigger man for their sets.

The Lakers, to counter these strengths, must play a certain way. A few things I’ll be watching for:

*How does Kobe work against Allen? Tony is one of the most agressive, and successful, wing defenders. He’ll pressure Kobe’s handle, body him on and off the ball, and contest every shot. To take advantage of this style, Kobe will need to work well off the ball and make his catches on the move. Running Allen off screens, cutting off ball and into space where he can make catches easier, and then using his stength to fend him off will be key. When he does receive passes in order to create in isolations he must move quickly and use his fakes judiciously. Allen wants to contest shots and that aggression can be used against him but the fakes must come when Kobe already has an advantage, not used to try and gain one.

*Get Bynum the ball early in possessions. One of Marc Gasol’s strengths as a defender is his anticipation and how he can play angles. He’ll battle Drew for space and cut off his path when trying to move into his preferred spots. So, Bynum will need to rim-run in early offense and try to get position early. When he does get it, the Lakers wings must locate him and get him the ball on time and on target to facilitate a quick move from Drew. Bynum can also use his turn and face game against Marc as a counter to his preferred power moves. Marc has the girth to fight with Drew on the block so Bynum should use his quickness and length to get good shots.

*The Lakers must avoid turnovers. Passing angles evaporate quicky against this team and lazy passes will be intercepted. They like to pressure the ball in the half court and will extend that pressure full court if they feel they can disrupt the other team’s offense. Tonight the Lakers will need to be careful with how they try to move the ball around the perimeter and try to push the ball up court quickly to avoid working late into the shot clock. Better off ball screens will do a lot to help free the Lakers wings (and big men moving to the post), making sure that contact is made and position on screens is held will be a key factor tonight.

*Defensively, the Lakers must protect the paint and should surrender jumpers to this team. They’re an awful three point shooting team and don’t do well when they settle for the J in favor of attacking. The Lakers need to gum up the Grizzlies’ P&R attack by going under screens and making Conley make jumpers. Mayo should also be tested early and forced to show that his J is on before he’s shown too much respect from range. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Kobe guarding Tony Allen to start the game and have him roam on D and help anytime the ball is penetrated or if the post is exposed for too long.

In the end, this is a game that affects the standings and is important for that reason alone. However, it’s also time that the Lakers show that they can be a viable road team by beating good teams. Yes Rudy is out and they’re already down Randolph. But that should provide even more incentive to get this win. Rather than relaxing, the Lakers need to come out hard and get this game. If they play well, they may even get some rest in the 4th.

Where you can watch: 5pm start time on KCAL. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

  • The trade deadline is in two days(!) and the reports of potential deals are starting to heat up. As a general rule, it’s always good to remember to take the reports you hear around this time of the year with a grain of salt. Right now, rumors will be more about leverage than anything else and while I don’t doubt “discussions” are happening all around the league, that could mean two low level staffers making calls to each other as much as it could mean two GM’s with the ability to pull the trigger hammering out the details to a deal likely to get done.
  • Speaking of trade reports, the Lakers are still being linked to multiple teams in their pursuit of a point guard. However, it’s the same names that we’ve been hearing for weeks: Sessions, Felton, and Lowry. At HoopsWorld, Alex Kennedy states that the order of preference is still Lowry, Sessions, then Felton and that makes sense as that’s the order most people would rank the players in terms of quality this season. Whether or not a deal gets done remains to be seen but if I was making a wager, I’d say Lowry is not a real possibility while a deal for Sessions or Felton will be dependent on how much Salary those teams are willing to take on in a deal. Both players can be absorbed into the Lakers’ TPE but my general sense is that the Lakers want to trade contracts and not just take on more salary at this point. Will Cleveland take back a player and add payroll? Will Portland take back multiple players, including one of LA’s bad contracts? This is what it may come down to as we approach Thursday.
  • Don’t look now but the Lakers are gaining separation from the Clippers in the standings. The Clips fell again last night (this time to the Celtics) and have now dropped 4 of their last 5 games. This has the Lakers one and a half games up in the Pacific Division and in 3rd place in the Conference (a half a game up on Memphis – tonight’s opponent).
  • Last night, Ron tweeted this: “Wow I’m shooting 40+ % from three over the last 15games. Keep leaving me open… Thank you…”. However, that’s actually not an accurate stat. In the last 15 games, he’s actually 17 for 46 which is 37%. But while Ron’s math was a bit off, that’s still a huge improvement from earlier in the year where he made 7 of his first 44 three point shots (16%). Let me add this though, what really matters to me is that Ron’s engaged on defense as his D is what really seems to fuel the rest of his game. Against Boston (and Miami), Ron was playing against players who demand defensive attention (not to mention the games were on national TV) and he stepped up his game to match the opponent. With that boost on D, his focus on O also improved and it led to good games. If the Lakers can get more of that Ron, they’ll be a much better team than they’ve been this year as he’s making an impact on both ends of the floor by playing tenacious defense and hitting some of the open shots the opposition will continue to give him.
  • A look at Boston’s late game collapse” is a headline I’ll click on every time I see it.
  • Getting away from the NBA game for a second, it’s about to be March Madness again as the tourney starts this Thursday. Who would be interested in a FB&G bracket challenge? Let me know in the comments.
  • Lastly, the good things that athletes do off the court rarely gets recognized. You may see a blurb a nice thing they’ve done every once and a while but that’s it. With that in mind, Steve Blake and his wife Kristen are raising money to fight cancer after having that disease hit too close to home over the years. If you want to help them out in reaching their goal, you can do so here. This really is a good cause.

 

Yesterday afternoon, the Lakers beat the Celtics. Then a bit later I watched the fantastic Magic Johsnon documentary “The Announcement” (a must watch for any basketball fan). After all that, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. So, you can only imagine how great I’m feeling after seeing that Beckley Mason (of HoopSpeak and the great Hoop Idea series at TrueHoop) posted a link to this video on twitter. It’s aptly titled, Magic Johnson – Passing Skills. Enjoy.