From Eric Pincus, LA Times: Slowly but surely Dwight Howard’s free-throw percentage is climbing. If the center has a major flaw to his game, it’s at the line, where he’s a career 58.4% shooter. Earlier in the season, Howard’s percentage had dipped to 48% as teams like the Orlando Magic successfully beat the Lakers, sending Howard to the line intentionally in volume. In November, Howard shot only 45.1% (60-133) from the line. He improved upon that dramatically in December at 56.7% (77-136). Over the team’s past 10 games, Howard hit 61.2% from the line (52-85). ”He was effective. You know, he made his free throws,” said Coach Terry Stotts on Friday after the Lakers had beaten the Portland Trail Blazers. “We didn’t foul him hard enough so he had and-ones and he was very effective.” The Blazers tried to intentionally foul Howard in the first half but he knocked down four in a row.”His presence on the defensive end is invaluable and we have to have it,” said D’Antoni. “He was good on the offensive end also, hitting foul shots when they were fouling him, that’s huge.
From Mark Medina, LA Daily News: Two days after openly questioning the thought process behind his diminished role, Lakers forward Antawn Jamison apologized. ”I shouldn’t have expressed my frustrations the way I did, especially after a win,” Jamison said following Sunday’s practice. “It derails from what we’re trying to do here.” He also reiterated his preference playing for the Lakers. ”There’s not going to be no rocking the boat for myself or demanding a trade,” Jamison said. “I’m here for the long haul. I’m here to help this team win a championship. If the opportunity comes up again, I just have to be patient and be ready for the opportunity to present itself.” The Lakers (15-15) have won six of their past seven games, coinciding with Jamison sitting out the past five. That reflected a stark contrast to the Lakers’ initial expectations when they signed him this offseason to a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum ($1.4 million). Few expected Jamison would reflect his career 19.2 points per game through 15 seasons. But they envisioned him becoming the Lakers’ sixth man and lead the bench with secondary scoring.
From Ramneet Singh, Lakers Nation: Before all you Twitter fanatics scramble to figure out the best way to get Kobe Bryant to follow you, just know that Bryant may not be on the social networking site anytime soon. Bryant previously hinted at the possibility of creating his own Twitter account, but the Los Angeles Times reports that Kobe believes he does not have the time to join another social networking platform. “The one thing about me is that when I’m doing it, I enjoy doing it myself,” said Bryant. “I don’t know if I have the time available to really give the fans the attention that they deserve.”
From Janis Carr, OC Register: Pau Gasol sat in front of his locker without a shirt, one foot in an ice bucket and a smile spread across his face. Although his foot ached, the Lakers forward was feeling good about his performance Friday. That’s because for the first time in weeks, Gasol seemed comfortable in Coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense, whether he was in the low post or out on the perimeter. ”I’m figuring out where I’m going to get my opportunities and where I’m going to get my looks, whether they’re 3s or anywhere else,” Gasol said after posting 15 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. “I just have to keep working on positions where I’m going to be mostly during the games and try to be effective from whichever place.” His play isn’t surprising. Everyone in the league knows the Spaniard can score from all points within 12 feet of the basket. Yet few know how effective he has become from beyond 22 feet. Gasol has been practicing his 3-point shot and his work is paying off. He was 2 for 3 from beyond the arc against Portland — the third consecutive game he has buried a 3-pointer. He has landed 5 of 9 3-point shots over the past three games.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: Call it a sign of the times Sunday when Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, with 16 championship banners hanging behind him at the team’s practice facility, admitted his team is looking up to the Los Angeles Clippers and their 16-game winning streak.”They’re real good and they’re having a great streak, so we’ll have to reckon with them and they’re kind of setting the bar of where we need to get to,” D’Antoni said. The Clippers, who share the Staples Center with the Lakers, came into Sunday with a league best 24-6 record and a win streak that accounted for more victories than the 15-15 Lakers have had all season, but D’Antoni said he doesn’t pay them more attention than he would any other elite NBA team. ”As much as you notice Oklahoma City,” D’Antoni said. “As much as you notice Miami. You watch. They’re a very good basketball team but I don’t get caught up that they’re across town. You can’t help where they are. But yeah, they’re good.” When asked if the current Clippers team was the best he’s seen in his 17 seasons as a professional basketball player in L.A., Kobe Bryant replied: “I don’t think it’s a question about it.”