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…they are made in all of the preparation leading up to those decisive moments you remember.

Ansel Adams is considered one of the best photographers of all time. He has produced such wonders as Moonrise Hernandez, and this, and this.

Ansel always made it clear that photography was not about a lucky moment or just taking a bunch of photos until you were happy with one (the shotgun approach) or about having the best equipment. He was meticulous in both his composition and developing. He mastered the technical aspects of his cameras and his equipment. The key to his photographs, was his ability to know what he wanted from a photo and execute it using all of his prior experience and wealth of knowledge.

Sound like anyone else we know?

In countless other media, Kobe has been described similarly in terms of his preparation. His shoes? Analyzed and made as light and responsive as possible. He watches game film obsessively. He is constantly adding new moves to his game. He hired Tim Grover to be his assistant full-time last season. Whatever Kobe can think of to get better, he does it. His singular purpose is winning but he does not show up to a game without first making sure he is the most prepared person in the arena. The same can be said for Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, and Tiger Woods. Before the game has started, these men have already beat you.

Ansel advocated that photographers go through a process of visualization before ever touching their camera. To him, photography as an art was not about walking around and shooting what you came across, it was about creating an image using the tools available. Creating an image meant planning the place, the time, and the elements in a frame. It meant visualizing how the three-dimensional scene would transfer to the two-dimensional format of film. Knowing how to shoot a camera or a basketball does not make one great. It’s everything that leads up to the moment the shutter is released or the ball flicks off the fingertips. A player and a team must create a championship, it does not fall into their lap.

If the Lakers hope to repeat as champion, they must master all of the technical details but they must also make sure that they are as prepared as possible. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. Once San Antonio goes on their Rodeo trip at the beginning of February, everyone will know it is time to buckle down. The Lakers must start to become a finely tuned unit that will peak in June. It begins with these tough games but doesn’t end there. The Lakers must have the tenacity that the greats always display. They must visualize what it takes to reach the promised land and if they fail to prepare adequately they will surely come up short. Defensive rebounding, three-point shooting, and defensive intensity need to be tightened up. Does this team have what it takes? Can they survive the close calls and snuff out the pretenders? Can Ron Artest jump over a roll of quarters? OK, maybe that is just my own curiosity. Will the bench improve and provide consistent minutes? Can everyone stay healthy? FB&G faithful, the moments of judgement are now upon us. Let the team who has best visualized what it takes to be a champion wear triumph as their cologne and victory as their cape. (Except the Celtics. They can suck it.)


[picappgallerysingle id=”3800274″]Otherwise known as Where Amazing Didn’t Happen At All.

After getting mauled by the bear that is the Cavaliers and gutting out a win against the Kings, the Lakers swoop into Phoenix to take in their third viewing of The Steve Nash Show. Will the Lakers rise above the ashes or Icarus their way to a scorching?

Artest remains out.

1st Quarter

11:46 – Pau hits a nice turn around jumper from the right block. Great to see him start with good lift in his legs. Pau seemed a bit taken by surprise by the intensity of the Kings’ big men.

10:58 – Lakers run an atrocious “fast” break off a turnover. No spacing and the suns clog the middle.

10:06 – Grant Hill = Speedster? Hill beat the lakers down the floor for an easy bucket. LAL 2, PHX, 6

9:28 – The Lakers have turned into the Washington Generals. Derek charges down the floor and shoots an airball from 5 feet against Amare. This game is full of rec league hallmarks. Jason Richardson airballs a wide open three on the ensuing possession. I want to throw my face through a plaster wall right about now.

6:42 – Kobe gets smacked on the hand and it falls off! Just kidding. He’s in a little pain but he’ll hit the free throws. Lakers are settling down and figuring out how to use their height. Pau got a nice offensive rebound on a missed free throw by Bynum. LAL 12, PHX 10.

5:49 – Bynum gets a three point play. Rumors of his hibernation are being debunked a little here. He’s finding his height useful here against the smaller Suns players. Who would have thunk it?

1:55 – Jared Dudley throws a post entry pass to Josh Powell. I bet he wishes he had ctrl+z available there. LAL 20, PHX 20

1:30 – Whoa! Ammo nails a nice looking threeball. Sign him up for the three point contest at all-star weekend! Okay, maybe not yet. But hitting the long ball is helpful in opening up the middle for the bigs. LAL 23, PHX 20.

0:00 – Steve Nash pays himself some royalties at the end of the first after throwing a patented left-handed pass from the top of the key to Lopez who gets the shooter’s bounce as the lights go red. LAL 23, PHX 25.

2nd Quarter

Lakers defense has been pretty active but a few mistakes and missed communication have led to some easy layups/dunks. They’ll need to tighten that up and continue to find ways to improve the offense.

11:15 – Louis Ahmandson rides his bike to the scorer’s table to check in. Almost immediately he gets to watch Academy Award winning acting by Channing Frye as he mimes a tall person being hit by a sledgehammer in the chest as Gasol backed him down.

10:27 – The bench is doing well here. And by well, I mean they are struggling mightily. More ctrl+z material as Channing Frye tries the tomahawk. With furious anger he throws the ball down it goes straight up. And over the backboard. Dunk Fail. LAL 23, PHX 32.

9:12 – Farmar gets his Ariza on by knocking the ball out of a passing lane, takes the ball to the hoop. But then, he gets his Lamar on and throws the ball out of bounds. Farmar had Mr. Fantastic (Shannon) running with him but threw it about 4 feet behind him. LAL 25, PHX 35.

8:12 – A couple minutes ago, Lamar had his hand smashed in between his crotch and Barbosa’s backside (don’t ask) and has some sprained fingers on his right hand. We’ll see if Kobe points to his own broken finger and tells Lamar to man up. LAL 27, PHX 39.

5:02 – Bynum is forced to hold down the bench due to foul trouble.

4:48 – Kobe threw up a wonderfully ugly airball. It’s easy to blame the finger here. That finger should be admonished. Has one entry ever said the word ‘finger’ so many times?

3:16 – Suns shooting 41% so far, and brick it up nicely here. Hard to talk too much trash. Lakers are shooting below 35%. LAL 38, PHX 48.

2:30 – Kobe reattached his finger to his hand and immediately stroked two jumpers. Just as we should remember to appreciate Lamar, of course we should not forget Kobe’s evolution as a player and LAL 43, PHX 48.

1:56 – Amar’e dunks the crap out of the ball. Too bad the ball didn’t get the memo. It bounces out past the three point line. He and Channing Frye work on designing membership cards. LAL 45, PHX 48.

0:10 – It turned into the Amar’e and Kobe show here at the end. Kobe has hit 10 of the Lakers last 12 points and Amar’e has the last 10. Why did anyone else even suit up tonight? LAL 50, PHX 54.

0:02 – Lakers take Kurt’s advice and make Steve Nash a scorer. He obliges by drawing a foul on DJ Mbenga under the hoop with 2 seconds to go. Dear Mbenga, you don’t need to jump to block the shot of a 36 year old 6’0” point guard with no vertical. Shoot, I wouldn’t need to jump to block it. LAL 50, PHX 56.

3rd Quarter

11:10 – Channing Frye hits a beautiful shot from outside. He “nets” two points only, however, because his toes were on the line. LAL 50, PHX 58.

10:00 – Lakers and Suns are “hot” here to open. The teams have combined for only two misses in 8 shots. Mr. Nash had an unorthodox fading jumper from the wing. LAL 54 PHX 64.

8:58 – I enjoyed this possession. I’d characterize it like a nice red wine. With enough space and air, the offense worked well. Pau drew the attention of multiple defenders and Lamar took advantage by cutting to the middle. LAL 58, PHX 64.

7:37 – Adam Morrison looking like a seasoned veteran. Pau dishes the ball off to him block to block after Ammo recognizes he has Steve Nash in the post. It would have been fun to see Adam throw down a hammer there. I’m not sure he’s capable but I would be inordinately entertained. LAL 62, PHX 67.

5:15 – En tu Ojo! Steve Nash drills a three straight down the tube over the outstretched tentacle of The Spaniard. LAL 64, PHX 73.

4:51 – Derek loses his cool a little. After a blocking foul he pushes Nash out of the way.  Good call. Nash hits the T. LAL 66, PHX 74.

3:58 – Lakers are reaching vaunted heights here. They’re going to give up a four point play. Channing Frye hits a three and fisher gets called for a foul underneath.

3:39 – A nice little run here for the Suns (if you’re a suns fan) as they are now up by a whole bunch after some sloppy play and a Jason Richardson three pointer. LAL 66, PHX 82.

2:48 – Lakers try and stop an 11-0 run as Kobe misses with his left but Odom tips in the putback. LAL 68, PHX 84.

1:18 – Kobe wins the battle with Frye but his face loses.

0:56 – OOOooo. Amar’e absolutely demolishes the rim with a dunk. He just ran by Bynum and then threw it THROUGH the basket. Actually reminiscent of Dwight Howard’s superman dunk a couple years ago.

0:00 – Kobe gets the ball (UGLY miss by “shooter” Channing Frye) with 6 seconds to go and races down the court. Unfortunately he’s not 19 anymore and his layup is blocked. Great hustle by three Suns players to get back and contest it. LAL 77, PHX 89.

4th Quarter

11:55 – Chants of “Beat LA” rain down. Jared Dudley hits a nice corner three. Lakers are looking a little umm..sad out there. LAL 77, PHX 92.

10:39 – Dear Sasha,  I’ll send you a postcard from the rim. Please give my best to my wake. I’ve left it for you. Regards, Leandro Barbosa. In two steps Barbosa had him beat so bad Sasha gave up and just went down to the offensive end.

9:31 – Timeout called. For those of you who believe in The Secret, now would be a good time to start Secreting or whatever it’s called. LAL 84, PHX 98.

9:21 – Jeebs! Dudley just rakes Bynum across the wrist and the refs call a jump ball. I’m not sure how that qualifies as a jump ball. It gets more awesome. Dudley has to go against Bynum but can’t outjump him. So he does what anyone who’s ever gone against a giant does. He waits for Bynum to tap it backwards and then intercepts it. I’m not sure what the rule is but the refs let it go. I’m not sure that the Lakers can complain about the refs missing two calls when they have barely shown up tonight.

6:40 – After a Dudley three and a Barbosa jumper it’s time to shut this thing down before I stab myself in the pancreas with a macbook. If the Lakers make some sort of miraculous recover, I shall make sure to update and credit to you Secreters. LAL 89, PHX 108

Happy New Year everyone! Don’t take this one too hard. It just wasn’t meant to be.

Keeping up with Mr. Kardashian

nomuskles —  December 22, 2009

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It’s not often that players in the NBA are able to find a true turn-around in perception and production.

In 2004-2005, Lamar was struggling like most every other Lakers player. According Lamar was not contributing in proportion with his salary. He totaled a 45.9 win% and had a Net48 (points allowed per 48 minutes with him on the floor) of -2.1. (For the same season, Brian Cook had a Net48 of +3.5. Is that how you know you’re struggling?) The Lakers even put together losing streaks of 8 games, 6 games and 5 games at the end of the season to go 2-19 in their last 21 games. Dismal. Definitely not blaming Lamar, just providing some context. Clearly that was a team effort.

Despite the worry that marrying Khloe Kardashian would be a distraction and a negative influence on the court, this year Lamar has a win% of 71.4 and a Net48 of +9.5. Playing with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum instead of Chris Mihm and Brian Cook probably had something to do with it. To all of our eyes, Lamar has actually been a very important player the last couple of years after being a pretty big scapegoat (along with Luke and Farmar). He’s having a particularly good season so far and we should be sure to give thanks for being able to watch such a joyful player. Lamar won’t have his jersey retired with the Lakers but make sure to take note of the man who has been through a tragedy yet found a way to love life and the game of basketball anyway. A toast, then, to Mr. Lamar Odom.

Sunday Favortism? Not that simple

nomuskles —  November 24, 2009

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Hardwood Paroxysm recently dug into the scheduling oddities and discovered that the Lakers play 29% of their home games on Sunday.  Matt wonders if something fishy is going on. Is the league favoring the Lakers by playing them on Sundays more often than other days? His discussion covered the following:

1. Traveling west is harder for East teams than traveling east is for West teams.

2. The league wants a big market / marquee team on national television more often

3. Playing on Sunday after spending a Saturday (party) night in LA is setting a team up for failure.

4. 29% of games played on a single day of the week is too many. (Games evenly split among the days of the week would fall close to 14%.

I disagree with points 1 and 4. Number 2 is probably true, in my opinion. And number 3 is not exactly cut and dry.

Traveling west is NOT more difficult for the NBA teams. You gain hours traveling west, which means more hours to sleep before shootaround or the game (early Sunday games). A team traveling west might arrive late at night and then have to play the 12:30PT/3:30ET game. Their bodies feel like it’s 3:30pm. There is plenty of time for them to rest after flying in. Conversely, if the Lakers travel to the Eastern time zone and play the 12:30ET game, they are playing at 9:30 am according to their bodies. Have you ever tried to play at 9:30 in the morning? Not an easy task, especially after traveling and sleeping in a hotel.

The league probably does want the Lakers to play on Sundays more often than other teams. Not really a surprise.

As far as the concern that Sunday follows Saturday, I’m not sure how we could figure out if that is a big factor or not. For one, the Lakers are also available on Saturday night to go out and do whatever it is that young multimillionaires do. Secondly, wouldn’t teams be having the same problem during the week as well? It’s not like parties can’t be had on a Monday night in LA. Perhaps the only part of that argument that I buy is that the other teams may take part in the revelry more than the Lakers because the Lakers are used to the scene already.

Lastly, I don’t doubt that it’s a little suspicious that the Lakers play 29% of their games on Sunday. However, since they share Staples Center with The Kings and The Clippers, the team schedules tend to be similar every week. For instance, the Lakers usually play at home on Tuesdays and Thursdays and only have two home games on Wednesday and two on Monday. Is that suspicious as well? It’s not if you consider the Clippers tend to play on Monday and Wednesday. The Clippers only play 2 Tuesday games and 1 Thursday game this year. I think the scheduling overload on Sunday is caused as much by the wish to get the Lakers on ABC sunday games as it is to fit three teams into the same building.

If the Lakers hardly ever play at home on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, that only leaves four days to handle 90% of the games. It is not unthinkable then that a big market team with marquee players would be scheduled a little more often on Sunday than their other days, but it’s not exactly lopsided. Splitting their games evenly among the four days would be 25%. Compare that to the 29% calculated by the ESPN stats department and it’s not too far off.

As always, the answers probably lies somewhere in between two extreme arguments.


Welcome to the first nomuskles live blog of the year! It seemed like this day would never come!

Boston vs. Cleveland

Neither team looked incredibly impressive (it’s early) but two things stuck out about Cleveland. Shaq is pretty much his same self and Lebron is getting nastier and nastier. He continued his trend of incredible blocks from behind and hit some nice looking jumpers. That young man is unstoppable.

Championship Ring Presentation and Banner Unveiling

The Lakers receive their championship rings tonight because, in case you might have possibly perhaps forgotten, they beat the Orlando Magicians to earn the title of 2009 NBA Champions. That’s a phrase that never gets old. 2009 NBA Champions! How many times before that gets annoying? 2009 NBA Champions!

David Stern says something incomprehensible. Jeannie Buss stands next to him and says nothing. She has her umm…shall we say, “special occcasion” boots on.

The Lakers begin the ceremony with a few players from past Lakers championship teams. They are: Jerry West, Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes, Michael Cooper, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, AC Green, Rick Fox, and Robert Horry. Kareem is introduced later as a member of the coaching staff.

Players I wish would have been invited as well: Shaquille O’Neal, Ron Harper, Byron Scott, Elgin Baylor, and Elden Campbell. Okay, not Elden. I also wish Wilt Chamberlain and Chick Hearn could have been at the event. Alas.

This is followed by an awkward moment in which Dr. Buss is given some love by Magic and he has to put his drink down and we all notice that he’s sitting next to an attractive young woman who can’t be older than 33. It makes you wonder what his kids might think. And then you realize that his daughter…okay mm yeah. I’m going to stop myself right there.

Then of course Adam Morrison gets his well-deserved ring. Speaking of which, does anyone know if there are formal rules for who gets a ring and who does not? For instance, I assume Sun Yue will get one. Does Radmanovic get one also? How about Chris Wallace? I think in this case, the Lakers should send him one. And when will Trevor Ariza and Sun Yue get theirs?

Very triumphant music being played. Fisher looks like he has tears in his eyes. Kobe comes out with some young man energy smiling and bouncing around. Haters/Cynics go ahead and insert your “he’s disingenuine/fake” comments here.

The new banner is unveiled like a giant game of peek-a-boo. Amazing. I’d like to offer my appreciation to everyone here and in the Lakers organization for letting me enjoy such a great season last year. Titles don’t come very often to “your team” everyday. I’m savoring the moment.

The TNT crew does a great job ribbing Charles about the fact that Mbenga, Powell, and Morrison have championship rings. They also mention such legen..wait for it…dary legends as Rich Petruska, Zan Tabak, and Mike Penberthy.

1st Quarter

Starting Lineups
Lakers: Dfish, Kobe, Crazy Pills, LO, and Young Bynum
Clippers: Baron Davis, Baron Davis’s beard, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, Chris “The Recently German” Kaman, and Marcus Camby

11:50 – Lakers control the tip, go into Bynum who enjoys the give in the new rims and gets a jump hook to fall….eventually. Only notable because it forces the bench to wait on it’s new first made field goal ritual as the ball bounces around the rim. I watched the Major League version, and the bench actually does it slightly differently. Lakers tap their right foot twice in contrast to the movie guys who tapped their right foot once and then their left foot once before crossing over. Check out the 1:36 mark on youtube. Also of note: Josh Powell got it right this time. Mbenga…not so much. We are officially underway in this season of possibilities. LAC 0, LAL 2.

10:59 – For those who care, the Lakers are wearing a special patch celebrating their championship win. It’s the Larry O’Brien Trophy next to a black and gold banner that says 15 on it representing the 15 championships won by the franchise (including the ones from Minneapolis). The Lakers have also added decals along the baseline touting the 50 year history of the Lakers in Los Angeles. They now have about five different fonts on their court. Design nightmare. The in front of the benches, the new decals, the Lakers under the baskets, the Lakers logo at the center, and the Staples Center wordmark. Can’t we stick to one or two fonts? LAC 0, LAL 5.

10:22 – Baron Davis’s Beard is no match for Kobe Bryant’s Fadeaway. LAC 2, LAL 7.

8:52 – Sloppy play. Kobe goes around the back in the back court in transition and loses the ball. Kaman ends up with the ball and the enforcer, DFish, takes him out at the basket. There was a pile of Kaman on the floor afterwards. Recently German hits one of two. We also find out that Kaman built a workout facility on his farm in Minnesota. Someone tell Kaman that building a workout facility doesn’t fix the ugly. LAC 7, LAL 7.

7:15 – B Diddy looks good. He’s quick and he can still shoot bricks with the best of them. LAC 8, LAL 9.

6:43 – Marv Albert is telling me about how teams fair on opening night after winning the championship. Thanks Marv. Totally relevant. My life is now complete.

4:49 – The crowd Oohs and then Ahhs when Fisher throws a wraparound pass to Bynum who proceeds to Kwame it out of bounds. LAC 15, LAL 18.

3:32 – Crazy Pill decided to shave more stuff into his hair. It’s amazing. Words can’t do it justice. Go find a picture. Run, don’t walk. He shoots a couple free throws and makes one. The announcing crew proceeds to have a banal conversation about whether Artest will accept his role as a third or fourth option. Miller insights this little gem, “well he’s going to have to.” Thanks Captain Obvious. I’m glad you make so much money telling everyone what they already know.

1:07 – I believe Mike Dunleavy just asked his assistant coach what a clear-path foul is. You can now watch Bill Simmons light himself on fire. LAC 19, LAL 28.

0:53 – B Diddy fell asleep trying to receive the inbounds in the back court and Farmar accepts the gift, flushing home a deuce. Clippers turn it over again and the Lakers get two more. 4 careless points right there. I imagine Mike Dunleavy is pretty happy with that. LAC 19, LAL 32.

0:21 – Ricky Davis banks home a three instead of holding for the last shot. Hard to argue with that but Lakers will now have plenty of time to get the last shot. The scoreboard crew is also a little rusty. They add three points to the Lakers’ score and then have to take it away and add it to the Clippers’ score. LAC 25, LAL 32. That’s how the quarter ends as Artest can’t make the wide open three. Kanye West interrupts and says, “sorry Ron, but Ricky Davis had one of the best threes of all time.”

2nd Quarter
Summary of Mike Dunleavy’s 1st break interview: We’re playing well except those stupid mistakes we made. Oh really? And I’m a good cardiac surgeon except for all those patients I killed.

Lakers open the period with Odom and Crazy Pills still in with Vujacic, Farmar, and Mbenga.

10:17 – Craig Smith is built like a tank. He scores underneath and then gets a steal and beats farmar down the court to get an easy layup. LAC 26, LAL 37.

9:27 – Eric Gordon’s nickname is Hobbit??? This is quite a well-read Clippers team we’ve got on our hands. I wonder if it’s a reference to The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. LAC 29, LAL 39. Every time the camera gets a glimpse of Blake Griffin, he’s standing and walking around. He should probably not be standing and walking so much if he’s got a borked knee. He is the new franchise player, just sayin’.

8:30 – Mbenga is throwing up all kinds of trash towards the rim in hopes that…well I’m not sure exactly. Let’s just move on.

6:35 – Mbenga spikes the ball off Josh Powell’s face. Did he yell hibachi? LAC 33, LAL 40.

5:36 – Bassy Telfair hits a jumper to make it 37-40. clippers making a little run here with Kobe, Fish, and Jerry West on the bench. I imagine they’ll be back out there on the flipside of this timeout. On a positive note, that means Kobe got a long rest with the 5 minutes from the intermission plus the 6 and a half minutes of game time already elapsed in the second quarter. If Phil can afford to do that for the entire year, Kobe is going to feel like a spring chicken come the playoffs. All the starters come back except LO. Powell stays in.

3:45 – Kobe is playing center field off his man but when Craig smith reaches the paint and Kobe doesn’t rotate over in time, what exactly is the point? If you’re cheating off your man, shouldn’t you be in prime position to help? If you’re not going to help, then just go guard your man. Don’t stand in no-man’s-land.

The following is almost as sad as Phil Jackson’s hanging dap is hilarious: Khloe Kardashian sees herself on the jumbo tron and almost points it out to her sister Kim but then realizes that she’s supposed to be above such pedestrian concerns and stops herself midway through saying “hey look, that’s us.” You could literally see the SLOW progression of thoughts from “Oh I’m on tv!” to “oh I want to tell my sister” to “Oh, I should just pretend not to notice.” You aren’t a publicity fiend at all, Khloe. Not at all. We’re totally buying that you don’t care about being famous. Yup. Totally buying it.

1:32 – Bynum swallows up Rasual Butler’s shot and gets called for a phantom foul. So much for the regular refs being the saviors of the game. After the free throws, LAC 45, LAL 51.

0:27 – Reggie “Ferengi” Miller can finally stop talking about Khloe Kardashian when Kobe makes a nice over the shoulder layup. He articulates “Mmm..nice” Mmm nice, indeed, Mr. Ferengi. Lakers make another steal and get a Bynum layup with 1 second left. Nice way to close out the half. LAC 49, LAL 59.


Good to see Agent Zero back in action. He was hoopin tonight.

3rd Quarter

Both teams go with their starting lineups. Young Bynum put a sleeve on his bad knee at halftime. Something to be worried about?

10:50 – Clippers run a horrendous slow break. Baron Davis lets his beard make decisions for him and shoots a three with no one else around. On replay, it’s obvious that Baron’s shot was about a foot to the right of the rim. He tries to play it off like it was deflected.

8:29 – Clippers fans are now going to light themselves on fire. Baron Davis just earned his third foul in the past two minutes.

6:57 – Camby asks the Staples Center staff to shut the door after he throws up a 19-foot shot from 21 feet away. LAC 61, LAL 70.

5:31 – Reminder: it’s the first game of the season. Turnovers and bad shots abound along with the inability to corral rebounds. LAC 63, LAL 70.

4:24 – Great battle of young centers. First Kaman puts Bynum in the popcorn machine with a plethora of fakes and jabs but can’t finish. Then Bynum gets fed in transition and beats Kaman at the other end for a pretty layup. LAC 63, LAL 71.

1:26 – we might hear this a lot more this season “[insert point guard’s name here] blows by fisher.” LAC 70, LAL 74.

0:41 – Hooo weee. Telfair gives a great alley-oop to marcus camby from the wing! Great vision by the young New Yorker. LAC 75, LAL 76.

4th Quarter

11:22 – Great defense by the Lakers. They are heavily pressuring the ballhandlers. OOOoooo. shanWOW breaks out the rocket pack and rises up in transition for a dunk after the Farmar steal. The German nudges him and takes out his legs and Shannon’s lucky not to get hurt. Brown was about to do a 180 degree reverse.

9:39 – LO! Kobe is trying to will the lakers to a win but misses the runner. Lamar grabs his 11th rebound and puts it back while getting fouled. He’ll try and pick up the 3 point play. He does. Big play right there. Did he learn how to close the deal from Khloe? LAC 77, LAL 82.

8:36 – Craig Smith (recall: built like a tank) has a full head of steam and Jordan Farmar (recall: not built like a tank) stands in the paint to accept the charge. I believe he breathed a gigantic sigh of relief when Smith wiggled his way around without any contact. Farmar immediately calls over the equipment manager for a change of shorts. Smith gets fouled at the rim but misses the free throws. LAC 77, LAL 84.

6:55 – It’s the Lamar Show! A couple seconds left on the 24 second clock and Lamar heaves up a deep three and it’s beautifully true. LAC 79, LAL 89.

5:35 – After Kobe throws up an ugly 27 footer that bounces straight to Bynum, Bynum deftly feeds Mamba on the move towards the bucket who draws the foul and hits the layup. Kobe gets a steal on the next possession and hits Ron Ron with a nice bounce pass for the layup in transition and the foul. Lakers are too deep and too strong for the Clipper Ships on this night of battle. LAC 79, LAL 94. …the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the jellooooo’s jiggling. This one is in the refrigerator.

0:27 – No one told the Clippers this game was over as they continue to play hard. Too little, too late. LAC 92, LAL 99 is your final.

Can the Lakers sustain the momentum they built yesterday against the Rockets or was that an outlier against a downward trend? The Lakers will attempt to answer this question in the positive tonight against the former inhabitants of the cavernous Alamo Dome.

A peek behind the curtains: I’m actually doing this live blog after it has finished. I’m a little nervous as to whether the recording actually recorded the whole game. Ah, the wonders of technology! Speaking of which, here are some clips from a series of commercials running in 1993. A friend of mine remarked on the fairly prescient nature of the predictions. See it here.

The score listed after the time marker is the score before the result of the play. Lakers score is listed first and Spurs score second.

1st Quarter

12:00 – LAL 0, SAS 0 – We start with a bad tip and a re-tip controlled by the forum blue and gold. Gasol shorts his first open 15 footer.

11:36 – 0, 0 – Finley strokes a nice jumper and Ariza drains a jumper of his own on the other end.

10:54 – 2, 2 – Doug Collins mentions that the Lakers miss The Space Cadet’s shooting and size. I start flinching involuntarily at the mention of Vladi’s name.

10:00 – 4, 4 – Bonner is tasked with guarding Lamar by himself and Odom overpowers/outlengths him and draws a foul on a made bucket. It’s very difficult to take a red-headed, pasty man seriously out there. He and Scalabrine probably have a support group for maligned red-headed NBA players. They’re the only members with Bill Walton acting as Chairman Emeritus.

9:43 – 7, 4 – Awkward possession for Wide Eyed Duncan as he drives across the lane. Pau hit the ball and Duncan left his feet but came down with it. Refs call a jump. I’m happy to relay the shock that was on Pop’s face.

8:34 – 9, 4 – Lakers are off to a great start. Kobe hits a step back jumper over the outstretched hands of the ginger. The Spurs turned the ball over out of bounds. And then Pau gets a tip-in off a wide open Kobe miss from the elbow to put the Lakers up 7. Spurs go with the tried and true early time out. TNT doesn’t go to commercial. That’s gotta be the first time a television broadcast has done that in a non-fourth quarter situation in forever. The announcers recap the past week or so for the Lakers (the ups and downs).

8:37 – 11, 4 – Parker collapses the Lakers defense and Finley finds himself wide open for three and he drills it. Great use of the timeout.

7:55 – 13, 7 – Great move by Finley to take his man off the dribble and drop in a left-handed floater over the secondary defender, Lamar. I’m not sure if Odom expected the shot to go up so quickly.

7:12 – 15, 9 – Lakers again force a turnover and in semi-transition Fisher smashes a three pointer home. Next time down, Ariza tries his luck and finds himself a winner. As drastic as the 11 point lead looks, it could very easily be a much closer game if these last two shots had missed, as they eventually will. It’s not time for the Spurs to panic and if you’re the Lakers, you plan for the maturity of the Los Spurs to set in and their defense to make adjustments.

5:45 – 23, 9 – Ariza picks Finley’s pocket and the Lakers come back the other way but don’t convert it into points. Coming back the other way, Kobe leaves Bowen all alone to provide support inside and stuffs Finley’s layup out of bounds. Spurs get a Kurt Thomas long two to fall. Lakers will live with that.

4:23 – 25, 11 – Lakers play some tough defense on the Spurs and Lamar stays with Tony Longoria enough to alter his shot at the end of the buzzer. Kobe misses a gimme (for him) and Ariza gets a steal again. Kobe gets another shot to fall. He’s playing in rhythm and smooth. Fears of a letdown are laid to rest. The Lakers are ready and willing for this one.

3:10 – 27, 11 – Odom does his patented throw the ball of the defender while falling out of bounds and we get an automatic timeout. I am astonished at how effective the Lakers have been against the Manu-less Spurs.  There is a Pau Gasol look-alike behind the Spurs bench except he’s wearing glasses. I feel you should know this. Is Popovich so maniacal that he’s going to send out a Gasol doppelganger in order to confuse the Lakers?

2:23 – 31, 15 – Lakers force Duncan into a difficult shot over Odom. Odom then gathers up a loose offensive rebound on the other end and deposits it through.

1:19 – 33, 17 – Ime Udoka is aghast at the foul that was just called on him. He planted an elbow into Luke’s jaw while holding the ball and he can’t figure out how he got caught. Umm, Ime, the refs are mainly watching the person with the ball and the person guarding the person with the ball. I think I’ve solved the case.

0:12 – 33, 17 – Kobe’s just going one on one on against his defender. Farmar is going to have an interesting time guarding Mason and being guarded by him. I’m not sure if Farmar can take advantage of his quickness advantage when Mason will have a significant height advantage. All that is going through my head while Kobe saunters around the perimeter for about 10 seconds before settling for a pull-up J in front of Bowen that draws water. Mason misses the last-second shot at the other end.

This is the point in the movie where the annoying buddy says, “this is going good. Tooooo good.”

2nd Quarter

11:30 – 35, 20 – Spurs aren’t taking care of their defensive glass as Luke corrals an offensive rebound. And then the Lakers cough it up.

10: 35 – 35, 20 – Finley is reaching into the way-back machine. He hits a pull-up jumper on the right baseline over Vujacic. Nicely done sir.

9:42 – 37, 22 – I’m okay with helping off Kurt Thomas when he’s standing 20 feet from the bucket but perhaps you don’t just watch him from 10 feet away  while he shoots a flat-footed set shot. He’s old, not dead.

8:51 – 37, 24 – The Spurs look disjointed on offense. They’re getting some penetration but not really doing much with it. Without players looking to slash and score, the Lakers aren’t being put in scramble mode.

8:20 – 37, 24 – Kurt Thomas tries to send Farmar to the hospital with a torn ACL in a loose ball situation and after the refs reward the Spurs with the ball out of bounds, the Spurs get a corner three. Lakers miss at the other end and Josh Powell and Kurt Thomas get tangled up for the second time in a row. Something to keep an eye on.

7:30 – 37, 26 – Pau hits a nice free throw jumper. Finley hits a corner three. Powell and Thomas are tangled again. Lakers don’t get back on defense but Thomas catches his own airball and gets called for traveling.  Spurs are making a push.

5:58 – 41, 31 – Farmar gets a nice block from behind on Finley showing he’s not going to quit. Kobe tightropes the baseline and finds Powell in the lane after Powell built a house and filled out a change of address form. Powell notices the Spaniard open and hits him for an easy jumper from 8 feet. Pop wants another timeout. The Lakers are playing superb. Can they sustain this level of play?

5:36 – 43, 31 – Mbenga gets called for a foul bodying up Duncan. Lamar shows a great bit of veteran leadership and encourages him. Fisher believes that he’s some sort of extraordinary shot blocker as he goes for Parker’s fake. Not much contact but the refs are fooled into giving Parker two free throws. 

4:40 – 45, 31 – After an Mbenga bucket, the Lakers starting five (except Mbenga for Pau) play stifling defense forcing a turnover from the Spurs.

3:45 – 45, 31 – Great hustle by the Lakers to pick up a rebound. Lamar really ran after the deflected ball and found himself one on one with Duncan. Lamar will not be denied! Two points in Duncan’s grill. Despite conventional wisdom, that does not make Duncan soft. Drew Gooden makes an unscheduled appearance. We’ll see how he does with his new mates.

2:08 – 49, 32 – Ariza hasn’t quite mastered the turnaround jumper off the dribble. Either that or a huge gust of wind blew through the arena because his shot came up about 14.2 inches short.

1:28 – 49, 34 – There’s a couple things that the cautious me is thinking. First of all, it’s easy to think this game is over but we haven’t yet played an entire half. The Spurs will have just as much time in the second half to erase the lead that the Lakers built in the same amount of time. Secondly, even if the Lakers win going away, the Spurs have been playing too good to dismiss them as non-competition. Especially with Manu not suiting up.

0:03 – 51, 38 – Not the prettiest last second play ever but Pau makes a strong move inside to get a jump hook to fall over Duncan. Odom was the initiator on that one, which is unusual but Mason did a good job battling Kobe and denying him the ball. Lakers can’t let that happen very often if they want to keep the game out of reach.


Halftime takes forever! Yammer yammer about nothing. “But nomuskles, aren’t you watching on DVR?” Hmm… yeah. I don’t know why I was watching the halftime show or the commercials. It’s been a long day. Finally Doug Collins has some actual analysis highlighting Michael Finley’s success and the collapsing Lakers defense that gave up some good looks from outside.

3rd Quarter

11:34 – LAL 53, SAS 38 – Lakers play pretty good defense but Finley is having a rejuvenated effort. He sinks a tough jumper over Pau and then Bonner comes and gets the luckiest shot ever to fall in from three. It bounced off the back iron about 8 feet in the air and dropped in. If he was playing pool, it would’ve been ball in hand.

10:11 – 55, 45 – Popovich blamed the first half on a timid first quarter by Duncan and Parker.

9:36 – 57, 45 – Lakers foul Duncan in the post. Kobe left Mason to double Duncan when Pau had good position. To my eye, that’s a little bit of a breakdown. Cheating off Mason isn’t really a winning strategy based on how well he’s shot this year.

9:04 – 57, 46 – Spurs fans are upset when the refs call Thomas for pushing Pau in the back off a Duncan miss. I don’t blame them. Looked like Pau just mistimed his jump.

8:46 – 57, 46 – NO FEAR! Ariza takes it strong to the hole and despite Finley raking his arms Ariza manages to finish off the glass. He also gets the free throw. Coming back the other way, Duncan draws a foul on Fisher and hits 1 of 2. Oh no. Duncan follows his own miss and gets an easy layup.

8:16 – 60, 49 – Kobe baits the ref into calling a foul on a jumper from 18 feet. Mason is fingered the culprit for tagging Kobe oh so gently.

7:45 – 62, 49 – Interesting sequence. Ariza makes a great steal on a bad pass. Fisher misses the layup on the break. Pau misses the putback dunk (contested). Spurs run the other way with an advantage and Finley misses a three from the right wing. Lakers hustle back down and early in the shot clock Kobe draws a foul against Duncan. [post-game note: this turned out to be a rare sloppy sequence in this otherwise highly skilled game]

7:25 – 64, 49 – Mason drills a three from the left side. Too open. Spurs trying to get the deficit under 10.

6:39 – 64, 52 – And they do it with a Tony Parker three wide open. TNT shows us the corner view. Kobe found Fisher for a three of his own to answer back! Spurs seem to have gotten some handle on the Lakers’ defense.

5:37 – 67, 56 – Tony Parker weaves his way around some screens and hits a nice looking jumper. The Lakers answer is a Derek Fisher contested three from 26 feet. Clang. Ugh. Spurs are making a push against the starters. It’ll be time for the bench to start coming in soon. How will they fair?

4:25 – Wow. Tony Parker just slices the Lakers interior defense into little tiny pieces. Just call him Sushi Chef Longoria-Parker

3:36 – Kobe gets a good seal against Bowen and Lamar gives him a great entry pass from the top of the circle. Spurs collapse and Kobe finds a diving Pau who is fouled in the act.

2:38 – 71, 60 – Kobe makes a great defensive play. He turned it over but hustled back into the play to make Finley alter the point blank layup. He missed.

2:15 – 71, 60 – ::throws shoe at TV:: tony parker is hitting his stride. He ties the lakers hands on defense and drops it off for Tim Duncan for the lay-in and the foul on Kobe. I guess it was too much to ask for the Lakers to keep a quick guard like Parker contained for an entire game. Duncan’s free throw is no good after the timeout and Spurs only trail by 9.

1:58 – 71, 62 – Luke!!!! Offensive rebound and putback in Duncan’s face. 

1:20 – 75, 62 – Ime uses the aerodynamic advantage of the shaved head to drop in a three point jumper.

1:07 – 75, 65 – Kevin Harlan says that Mason fouled “the angular Odom.” That made me chuckle. What does that mean? Is Odom sporting a protractor in his knee brace tonight?? He does the make one, miss one thing at the charity stripe.

0:48 – 76, 65 – Odom is enjoying his night tonight. He swats away George Hill’s timid layup. Unfortunately Tony Parker uses the out of bounds play to get himself a nice looking jumper.

0:08 – 78, 67 – Spurs turn it over on the bad Tony Parker pass. Farmar is forced out of bounds and the refs give the ball back to the Spurs. Parker takes advantage of the extra possession to hit a nice runner while drawing the foul. He hits the free throw. Lakers finish the quarter only up 8. They need to be more disciplined against Tony Parker, that’s for sure.

4th Quarter

11:30 – 78, 70 – Lakers give up back to back threes and a fast break dunk. Three point game. 8 points in practically zero time.

10:49 – 78, 75 – Needing a bucket the Lakers turn to the always reliable….Walton? Walton drives into the paint from the corner and dumps it off for Pau who gets the bucket and the foul. Pau makes the free throw. Finley drains a three. Their defense is much more intense and the Lakers are forced into a frustration foul/turnover.

9:59 – 81, 78 – With the crowd shouting for DE-FENSE! Powell makes a nice face-up shot in the post to quiet the crowd a little. Spurs turn it over. Lakers repay the favor. Finley can’t make the Lakers pay.

8:51 – 83, 78 – with Powell being guarded by the much smaller and more perimeter oriented Udoka, he goes into the post and uses a nice spin move to get a layup that he misses but follows for a tip in. Great show of confidence by Powell in hostile territory these two latest trips down. Spurs get a point taken away after the refs determine Mason was stepping on the line on one of his shots.

8:13 –85, 77 – Vujacic has hit his second basket of the night. That’s got to feel good for him.

7:30 – 87, 77 – altogether now, LUUUUUKKKEEE. Nice back door cut and a quick jump layup away from the defender. Lakers on an 8-0 run the past 3 minutes.

7:18 – 89, 77 – Tim Duncan is shooting free throws. It occurs to me that it still seems silly that the refs have numbers on their jerseys. And Kobe checks back in to the game having not taken a shot since the 2nd quarter.

6:25 – 89, 91 – Lakers are running with their starting lineup except Powell instead of Odom. Kobe gets a tough jumper to fall and then Parker waltzes into the paint before the Lakers get setup for an easy layup. Walton then dishes out some punishment to the rookie, George Hill and gets a layup of his own. Lakers up by 10.

5:25 – 93, 83 – Duncan isn’t going away quietly. Odom beats Thomas off the dribble and looks to have a good angle to the bucket but Duncan pins the layup against the glass.

4:18 – 93, 83 – Michael FINLEY!!!! Drills a three from the right side. Ridiculous how well he’s playing.

3:10 – 93, 88 – Lakers get a much-needed bucket. Kobe is doubled on the wing and with an unconventional pass he finds Pau with a water-polo pass on the opposite block against the smaller Parker. Pau goes dunkalicious.

2:55 – 95, 88 – Thomas then gets his own jumper to fall. Lakers collapsed again onto Duncan.

2:28 – 95, 90 – Kobe’s gone cold. He misses another shot. Parker hits a three and sets the crowd into a frenzy! Spurs pull within two and wield the momentum like a sledgehammer of doom.

1:47 – 95, 93 – Sideline pick and roll, Kobe and Pau. Shut down. Kobe iso. for three. over Hill. GOOD! Holy crap I just tinkled on myself. That shot was a huge dagger in the Spurs’ armor. They played disciplined to 2 seconds on the shot clock and Kobe hits it anyway. What else could they have done? At the other end, we witness a Timmy D jump hook for two. Lakers up 3.

1:22 – 98, 95 – ball in Kobe’s hand. Pressure release is Odom at the circle and he finds Gasol in the low post for a tough finish. Lakers reach 100 first. Will Lawler’s law hold?

1:10 – 100, 95 – ODOM! Forces the jump ball against Timmy and the Lakers control the tip.

0:30 – 100, 95 – Intense bit of defense by the Lakers. Finley ends up with a fairly reasonable look but it was contested and it comes up short after he was forced to create off the dribble. The Spurs want that one back.  Vujacic is fouled and gets two freebies. Lakers should win this one now.

Can the rest of you breathe? What a terrific battle for the Lakers and Spurs tonight. It’s a great feeling, I’m sure, to come out on top against the second place team in the West. Sometimes these live blogs turn out to be one-line zingers but tonight there was no place for that. The Spurs came roaring back in the 2nd half and the Lakers needed all their weapons to fend them off. Can’t say enough about the will to win tonight. Not to mention the contributions by the bench. Powell, Ariza, Luke and Vujacic had some timely buckets. Hats off the Spurs for their effort as they refused to fold in the face of a huge Lakers avalanche in the first quarter.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Phoenix Suns in Los Angeles

1st Quarter
Houston just handcuffed the LeBronsters and we’re going to get started any minute here! We’ve got Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins calling the action tonight. Man I can’t wait! I had this date circled from the very beginning looking forward to seeing Raja Bell get booed heavily, Boris Diaw get his triple double, Steve Nash dribble circles around everybody like Cousy, Barbosa prove he’s the fastest man on the court, Amare finish at the rim like the beast he is, and watch Marion pick up all the garbage and get his 20 and 10. What do you mean this isn’t 2006?

The starting lineup for the suns tonight is full people who were known for playing elsewhere. Leandro is the only holdover and he’ll be starting at guard. Wisconsin’s Big Ten Player of the Year Alando Tucker is the other guard. Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal will jump the tip off. Former Duke Blue Devil and Detroit Piston Grant Hill starts at small forward. And Golden State’s Jason Richardson starts at the other small forward. It’s just like the Wishbone formation ladies and gents! So crazy it just might work. I’d say this lineup bears watching, if only because it’s going to get more absurd as the subs you’ve never heard of check into the game.

Lakers will start the same five they’ve been starting for a while. The one that, you know, wins games.

Thank goodness no one has played up the Kobe vs. Shaq angle for this game. Doug Collins doesn’t even mention it before tip-off.

I gotta say, I like that the Lakers are wearing warmup jackets as of late, as opposed to shooting shirts. There are three teams who should ALWAYS be wearing shooting jackets. Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Detroit Pistons. Everyone else is welcome to ditch them or keep them as they please.

11:20 – Kobe’s favoring his post-up moves and jumpers lately. He combines them both and goes to the turnaround jumper in the low post. Wet.

10:49 – PHX 0, LAL 2 – Déjà vu. Same play except Tucker gets caught up in the air and Kobe earns a trip to the line where he deposits one of two free throws. Something that I don’t really get, if the Suns want to go back to SSOL after just 4 months, why in the world did they release the coach that perfected it?

9:41 – 2, 7 – Shaq establishes himself underneath the basket and Gasol proves helpless to uproot a 5000-pound body and Shaq slams the ball home.

8:30 – 7, 11 – Barbosa waltzes his way to a free layup after intercepting a kobe pass.

8:02 – 9, 11 – A little razzle dazzle with some man sauce on top! Barbosa runs the break and drops a beautiful behind the back dime to Richardson who absolutely crushes the ball through the hoop denting the floor. The towel guys can be seen trying to spackle the floor after that one. The game is all tied up. Staples Center is buzzinggggggggg. Stevie Nash enjoyed that one.

7:03 – 14, 13 – Kobe and Pau both watch Richardson dribble hard to the baseline and give up an uncontested reverse layup. Perhaps ‘help right’ sounds a lot like ‘help left’ when Pau puts his Spanish accent on it.

6:05 – 18, 17 – Kobe watches Tucker go baseline and again gets no help. Same result as before. Dear Kobe, feel free to provide a slight bit of resistance when they go to the bucket.  I understand that expending too much energy doesn’t look cool but you’ve taken that idea a little too far. Your friend, nomuskles.  “Wow, these are a lot damper than I expected.”

5:10 – 20, 20 – Mismatch. Somehow the extra tall Fisher ended up guarding the diminutive
Richardson. This led to a foul when the double team came.

4:42 – 20, 20 – With ZBo’s punching bag checking in (Ahmandson), the Suns are going small and Lamar makes them pay. Pau finds him underneath the basket with a great seal on Richardson and he dunks it home.

4:08 – 20, 22 – The Suns use the TFSOL (Twenty-Four seconds or less) technique and come up dry.

3:33 – 20, 24 – Kobe’s really been developing that fadeway lately. The only thing I don’t think is good is he doesn’t square up his shoulders to take it. But hey, you can’t argue too heavily with results. The ball drops through like it was destined for such a fate from the time it was still a cow.

2:35 – 20, 28 – Lakers don’t seem too interested in this one as they allow the Suns to tap the ball around the basket multiple times before JRich puts it in. A bunch of yellow jerseys take notes on their moleskin notepads. I believe I spot the words, “I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER?” on Odom’s.

2:07 – 22, 30 – Lakers get a steal in the backcourt and Kobe finishes with a beautiful finger roll up and under. He’s been the Lakers main threat so far.

1:44 – 22, 32 – An audible “whoa” escapes my lips as Matt Barnes throws up an aesthetically offensive shot that grazes the rim and catches Shaq’s hands by surprise. Shaq travels his way to a turnover underneath the bucket. In his excitement he forgot that a pivot foot needs to remain stationary. Honest mistake.

1:35 – 22, 34 – BOOSTIES! Kobe gives a great pass to Jordan (Farmar, not Michael) for the backside alley-oop.

0:49 – 22, 34 – two men who went to UCLA and have tattoos on their neck face off (Ariza vs. Barnes). No real idea there, I just thought that was an interesting juxtaposition.
0:38 – 24, 34 – He’s old, not dead. Farmar challenges Shaq and Shaq brushes his shot aside. Farmar decides to take his shot from outside after the inbounds and hits a three. Much better young’n.

0:15 – 24, 37 – you know what you definitely want on your last possession? Your young point guard to throw the ball away and let the other team run the other way for a fast break layup. Dragic might be a bit shaky. Okay, nevermind, the next time down he hits a nice 17 footer near the end of the quarter.

2nd Quarter
I just read Watchmen the graphic novel, and that commercial makes me want to see the movie. It was relatively action-less in printed form, but for the silver screen it looks like they’ve upped the number of explosions by a factor of 26. Count me in. Who doesn’t want to watch a big blue man walk around in a speedo?

11:40 – 26, 39 – Ariza drills his three and Jared Dudly answers back with a three of his own. Mbenga is in the game. What’s the chance he jiu jitsu’s someone? Is that even a verb?

10:54 – 29, 44 – Barnes throws up his second “whoa” of the night, in a bad way.

10:00 – 29, 48 – As great as Grant hill is, he can’t really guard Mbenga in the post. Mbenga shows off his turnaround jumper off the glass. The bank is open.

9:25 – 29, 48 – Matt Barnes goes for the hattrick! He looks to posterize Mbenga on a fastbreak dunk and Mbenga just turns him away like a bouncer at a nightclub. “I’m sorry sir, your ID says you are a baller. I don’t allow fake IDs in my club.” Barbosa cleans up the rebound and lays it in.

Great insight into Gentry boosting the confidence of Dragic telling the young man, “I don’t care how many mistakes you make as long as you play with confidence…  You’re a pro, you’re here. Just go out there and play.”

7:20 – 37, 50 – Lakers run the unconventional fast break. I guess they are trying out the A-11 offense too. Two on One fast break and Farmar has the ball. Instead of Vujacic making the run towards the hoop to take the ball to the bucket, he runs away from the basket and takes a 17 foot jumper/leaner on the baseline. He hits it anyway. Know your strengths, I guess. Also, with 52 points and 7:18 left in the 2nd Quarter, you might surmise this will be a high-scoring first half. I’m certainly not going to complain about that.

6:18 – 39, 52 – What? The Machine can dunk?? He jams one home on the fastbreak created by stifling defense that led to a turnover. I sort of assumed he couldn’t because he hasn’t done it in forever. By the way, worst gimmick ever is Sasha’s headband watch on his website. I’m boycotting noticing the color or thickness of his headband. If you asked me what color his headband was tonight, I’d have to say, ‘I don’t know, but that is a disallowed question because I’m opposed to stupid gimmicks.

5:30 – 41, 54 – This third unit of the Lakers is getting sucked into a track meet and it’s working for them as the Suns aren’t converting their offensive opportunities. There was just a string of three or four consecutive turnovers by the teams.

Oh. Just kidding. Turner Sports can’t resist. A montage of the shaq and kobe meetings post-trade. Why why why?? No one cares.

4:00 – 43, 60 – Adam Morrison is in there. He is not quick on defense. He is obviously a step behind knowing where he needs to be but he’ll benefit from being out ther with Kobe, Fisher and Odom. The camera shows Gentry wiping his face, trying to figure out how his team ended up in such a big hole.

2:42 – 45, 64 – Sideshow Bob ver 2.0 (or is it 3.0?) shows off his garbage collecting abilities and dunks it.

0:33 – 52, 69 – Shannon Brown subs into the game. I’m hoping for another crazy block. Lakers go four down for Fisher to close the quarter. He creates off the dribble and throws up a right hand runner across the lane. No good. Also, no blocks by Brown. Lakers up by 15, 55-70. That’s an astronomical number of points. If I were John Madden I would say “The team that scores the most points is going to win the game and the Lakers are scoring a lot of points.” Marc Jackson would say, “This Lakers team is soft but the Suns are soft. Good offense beats good defense.”

“16 points at halftime doesn’t mean anything.” –Alvin Gentry, Rhodes Scholar.

3rd Quarter

11:50 – PHX 55, LAL 70 – Lakers start it off right with a Gasol alley-oop.

10:55 – 58, 72 – Gasol takes a jumper from the elbow and then he takes a shot to the nether regions by Grant Hill. Hilarious for everyone not named Pau Gasol as he who is named Gasol grabs himself in pain.

8:30 – 63, 80 – After some good offensive possessions by the Lakers and poor execution by the Suns, the suns are forced to call timeout when Fisher drains a wide-open three ball. 63-83 is an absurd score for this point in the game. If the Lakers take this big of a lead into the fourth quarter, the broom wagon lineup will come in and depress the final score, but they are on a cosmic pace.

8:00 – 65, 83 – More fadeaway action from the MVP.

7:25 – 65, 85 – Kobe shows great patience in not forcing the play. Luke had a mismatch and Kobe tells him to setup in the midpost. Luke creates a great opportunity for Pau who get fouled and hits one of two from the line.

7:00 – 68, 86 – The nicely palindromic score doesn’t last long as Gasol flashes to the weakside elbow and Kobe from the strongside post whirls around and gets the alley-oop. It was a great looking sequence that taller teams committed defense wouldn’t allow.

4:54 – 69, 92 – Shaq and Grant Hill are subbed out at this point and the Suns just threw in the towel. Here at the nomuskles cave, we’re also going to throw in the towel. Seriously the Lakers were just too much for an injury-stricken Suns team still finding their way. Now I understand why Brett Pollakoff didn’t really give us any insight into the Suns’ strengths right now. They just aren’t comfortable in their own skin right now and the Lakers are too long and too skilled. There’s nothing they could’ve done tonight so I don’t think they’ll put too much into it. And…scene. Dolla dolla bills y’all.

I owe Mr. Andrew Bynum a half-hearted apology. Half-hearted because he contributes more than I thought, but still has some glaring deficiencies. After the past few games, and really the entire season, I have been a little bit down on the young’n. I believed that his lack of fitness and tenacity have been hurting the Lakers all season. I was disappointed that many of the problems the Lakers faced against Boston in the finals, including inconsistent effort, seemed to still be present. The comments around here have been pointing out Andrew’s lack of results on the boards and last night’s game hardly disagrees with those sentiments. He has not been garnering rebounds at anything nearing a respectable rate. Why is that? Was it laziness? Was it lack of fitness? Something else entirely?

I re-watched the game against the Magic and how Andrew faired when pitted against his supposed future rival in Dwight Howard. Instead of watching the ball, all I did was watch Bynum (and some of Howard for comparison). After closely examining Bynum, my overall opinion of him has not changed, but I understand his strengths and weaknesses different than before. While it’d be hasty to judge Andrew on just one game, especially against a force like Howard, it’s what I’ve got so we we’ll go with that. (The frustration of losing another one has driven me to look at the details a lot more closely.)

Andrew was not a terrific rebounder last night mainly due to lack of positioning and effort. Being focused on the negatives of the game due to the loss, I already had a hunch this was the case. Watching more attentively to Bynum opened up my eyes to a couple of other tendencies I hadn’t noticed before. Andrew takes a lot of offensive possessions off. He often sits on the lane opposite the side of the ball and does nothing to demand the ball. When he does catch it, he’s often like an archer at 1000 meters: too far out of his range to be effective. Another trend I noticed was Bynum is far more effective on the defensive end than I give him credit for. Many plays finish without Bynum earning a stat in the box score, but he actually contributed greatly to the success of the defense.


Rebounding: First and foremost, I considered his rebounding. If you read the notes below from the first half, you’ll notice, as I did, that Bynum doesn’t set himself up to be in good position to rebound at the defensive end, nor does he chase down rebounds. And on at least one play Bynum was too tired to reach up and grab a rebound that went straight over his shoulder to Howard. I’d say, without a doubt, Andrew’s lack of interest (or ability?) in rebounding is his single-most frustrating attribute. Andrew has two major habits that contribute to his shortcomings in rebounding. On defense, he doesn’t always block out a person. Sometimes he just puts a hand on a player from the other team, not getting a seal (more often) and sometimes he just stands around under the basket (occasionally). A lot of times, he relies on his height to cover up his lack of effort to establish position. Andrew’s teammates also cover-up for his disinterest by hustling after the rebounds themselves. Kobe, Lamar, and Ariza hustle for rebounds and often snag ones that seem Bynum’s for the taking. I might be remembering it wrong, but I believe Bynum was much more interested in skying for rebounds last year. 

The other habit I noticed was Bynum will go to the basket during offensive penetration looking for an offensive rebound (until he gets tired). His height was good for a couple of offensive rebounds, especially when Howard left Bynum to help his teammates. That being said, he does not go after rebounds (offensive or defensive) fiercely. He only grabs the ones that fall in his hands. Last night, Andrew did not hunger for loose balls; he passively collected rebounds that came his way. The bad news is this indicates a lack of desire. The good news is, he’s young and maybe he’ll figure out how to go after rebounds as time goes on. Cross your fingers Lakers nation, this is one of the main factors that will effect how high Bynum’s ceiling really is.

Offense: I hadn’t noticed before, how many possessions Bynum is just a non-factor. He touches the ball infrequently and when he does, it’s often in the midpost or further, where he doesn’t have as many moves. I realize that his defender was usually Dwight Howard and that it can be intimidating and fruitless to force it. However, Bynum received so few touches in the framework of the offense that it didn’t matter what kind of moves he could try against Howard, he never got a chance to show them off. You would like to blame the guards for not getting Bynum enough touches, but if you watch Bynum closely, he doesn’t work to establish position the way Shaq used to. He doesn’t make himself a big enough target where a post entry pass will be successful so the ball goes away from him. If he learns how to establish deeper position, he’ll be much more effective. It should be noted that Bynum has a more polished offensive game than Howard. Bynum has learned how to recognize and counter different defensive postures in the low post. Howard rushes himself and doesn’t have anything resembling a reliable midrange game. Howard doesn’t do a great job feeling his defender and exploiting the weakness. When you’re as athletic as he is, maybe you don’t have to. Low post offensive moves is the only place where Bynum has some advantage over Howard, and yet, he never showed off his full capabilities because he couldn’t receive the ball in scoring position.

Defense: Bynum’s defense is where I was surprised the most. Bynum was involved in countless pick and rolls and performed admirably on most of them. He was aided in this game by Howard’s low skill-level with the midrange game. Andrew could just sink down off the pick and allow his teammate to get around the screen while he slowed the dribbler and kept tabs on Howard. His presence discouraged Nelson and Hedo from attacking the basket time after time. There were a few times where Nelson exploited the PnR but for as many times as the PnR was run, the Lakers really didn’t suffer a lot due to Bynum. If Shaq or Kwame was in there I’d bet on at least twice the success rate. Bynum was also there a few times to alter shots that would end up missing as he better understands how to rotate in help situations. Early in the year, he frequently showed up late and got into a lot of foul trouble. Bynum’s presence in the game was definitely a positive defensively but he didn’t earn many stats in doing so. This is where I owe Bynum the biggest apology because he really expends quite a bit of energy trying to stay in a strong position. There are lapses, but much more often he’s doing the right thing. Howard is also good on the defensive end, although he plays a lot more by feel. Like Bynum, he changes shots and provides support for his guards. Lakers didn’t run pick and roll too many times with Howard as a defender, but at least on one occasion they exploited him for Bynum’s alley-oop lay-in.

Conditioning: Some folks will never been endurance runners, but Bynum would benefit greatly from more conditioning. Because he’s sucking wind, Bynum picks his spots to give bursts of energy. He plays hard when he’s involved in Pick and Roll and he plays hard when he’s got the ball. Those are the only two times he turns it into high gear. Setting screens, going after rebounds, and boxing out are not where he spends his energy. Better conditioning would improve all aspects of his game and it’s probably the crux of most of his weaknesses. You’ll notice that he mostly disappears on the court in the second half of the second quarter when he gets fatigued.


At 21, Bynum still has more years to grow, but he will only do so if he shows the willingness to do so. Based on this season and last night, I’d say the magic 8-ball is “not enough information.” If Bynum can correct some of his lazier habits he can be a cornerstone for the team in the future. But if he cannot, he will be merely good, not great. Conditioning is one of those things that NBA players should have in spades and Bynum is frankly lagging in that department. I consider that to be a lack of effort on his part to get in shape, which does not bode well for him putting in the effort to become a great player and improve all aspects of his game. Contradictorily, if you read the LA Times recently, they did a spotlight on Bynum and Kareem’s work together. They review tape at Bynum’s house going over specific ways in which Bynum can improve. Kareem mentions that Bynum will be aided by seeing how he can move without the ball, especially when Kobe is double-teamed. This is something Pau does well and Bynum would do well to learn. Beyond that and conditioning, Bynum needs to work on displaying tenacity in chasing down rebounds and establishing himself on offense BEFORE he has the ball. If he can do that, his contributions to the team will be much more significant. I am greatly encouraged by his defensive presence and hope that he continues to develop into a much smarter and effective defender as the year progresses. We all hope that Bynum turns into an all-star but he’s got a few obstacles to conquer before he does. 

Below is the Delayed Blog I put together. After three hours and only finishing the first half, I gave up taking detailed notes.
Positive plays by Bynum in bold.

1st Quarter

Tipoff: Dwight Howard employs the Shaq-like quick tip into his own backcourt.
11:40 – Defense: Bynum forces a pass on screen and roll with Dwight Howard and Hedo Torkoglu. Magic earn a good look from the corner that misses and Bynum faces Howard outside the restricted area to prevent Howard from getting the rebound. The lack of good position forces Howard to concede the rebound to Kobe who hustled for the ugly rebound.

11:34 – Offense: Quick bucket in semi-transition for the Lakers as Kobe took the ball all the way and as Bynum was jogging (not running) trailing the play, kobe found him. Only then did Bynum kick it into gear and finished with a strong slam. It was basically uncontested as Howard came over to help against Kobe.

11:15 – Defense: Andrew gets stuck on Jameer Nelson on a pick and roll play at the top of the circle. Bynum gives him to two steps of cushion to prevent penetration and then provides a late challenge to Nelson’s shot which splashes in. The key to the play is actually Dwight Howard using his size and his hands to make sure Fisher can’t get back to Nelson by taking Fisher down into the paint. In my opinion, it was an illegal screen (which is rarely called in the NBA). Since it isn’t called, it’s a very effective move. Bynum hasn’t shown an ability to provide that kind of screen consistently and should be on his list of things to add to his repertoire. Besides the mismatch of Bynum on Nelson, the Magic actually have Rashard Lewis moderately open as Pau is shading in to help Bynum against penetration and Hedo Turkoglu is wide open in the corner as his defender is Radmanovic and he goes into the paint to help Fisher guard Howard. The effective screen and roll compromised the defense. It’s not necessarily Bynum’s fault, but he was involved in the initial breakdown.

11:08 – Offense: Another quick hit from the Lakers who show much more energy early in the game. Kobe fed Andrew with deep post position against Howard. He had beaten Howard down the floor and earns himself a slightly contested layup. 4 points so far for Bynum. Great job on this play of hustling down the floor in transition.

10:55 – Defense: The Magic try another pick and roll on the side with Nelson and Howard but Nelson goes away from the pick and Fisher deflects the pass. Bynum did a good job discouraging Nelson from penetrating while guarding Howard at the same time. Result is a turnover. Bynum is already starting to get winded. His defensive position is too upright.

10:50 – Offense: Bynum lags behind the play as fisher brings the ball up. Bynum is the pressure release out high at the free throw line. With Dwight Howard sagging off him to guard against Gasol’s presence in the low post, Bynum decides to shoot an uncontested 15-footer. Not a bad decision, as no one else had a better scoring opportunity, but it’s off the mark. I have to believe Andrew’s conditioning played a part in that one. Pau’s work down low earned Bynum that shot. Lakers fans would hope bynum could repay him with a bucket.

10:28 – Defense: The Magic don’t bring the ball near Bynum and Howard doesn’t go for the offensive rebound. Then again, neither does Bynum. Kobe shows more tenacity going after the rebound and corrals it. We’ll call that a rebound Bynum was in position to grab but didn’t find it necessary to chase. That’s the first laction from Bynum so far. Many more to come.

10:20 – Offense: Bynum sets the laziest screen in history doesn’t get in position to set a screen and Kobe doesn’t get any space because of it. Bynum doesn’t roll with any kind of authority and Kobe passes the ball to the other side of the floor. Pau has a mismatch against Rashard Lewis on the block. Pau shoots a turnaround that Howad goes over to challenge. Andrew floated into the paint and grabs the rebound and gets an easy putback. +1 for being in the right place at the right time, -1 for providing nothing early in the possession.

10:10 – Transition: The camera stays on Bynum and shows how low his lower jaw is hanging as he’s sucking in oxygen. Dwight is clearly not dragging as much on his close up.

10:00 – Defense: Courtney Lee and Dwight Howard pick and roll. Drew had actually fallen down, tripping over Radmanovic and was thus out of position. Kobe goes underneath the Howard screen so completely that Courtney Lee has a wide open shot from 19 feet. Bynum is bent over at the waist (fatigue) while the shot is going up and only stick one arm on Dwight Howard to see if he’s going to go after the rebound. When he doesn’t, Bynum is content to let Pau get the rebound. -1 on the whole team. No one boxed out their man. Seriously? Two minutes into the game and Bynum already wants to put his hands on his knees?

9:42 – Offense: Bynum takes the play off. A tipped rebound is gathered by Jameer Nelson and Bynum provides matador pressure. All five magic players beat him and Fisher to the other end of the floor.

9:36 – Defense: Four lakers in the paint in transition. Two Magic players in the paint and three on the perimeter. Sounds like a recipe for success? Rashard takes a three that misses. Guess who couldn’t get off the ground to get a rebound that goes over his shoulder to Dwight Howard? Mr. Andrew Bynum. He doesn’t put any effort into boxing howard out while the shot goes up, and then is surprised by the fairly hard bounce. His lack of fitness is killing his effort right now. When Howard gets the ball, Bynum walks to cover the space between him and Howard. Luckily for Bynum, Howard lost the ball starting his post move. +1 for being a big enough body that Howard can’t just bowl him over. -3 for lagging in transition, not boxing out, and giving up an offensive rebound.

9:14 – Offense: Another lazy screen for Kobe. Pau goes to work on the block and shoots a running jump hook. Bynum walks the entire possession. Howard’s lack of discipline in going after a blocked shot means Bynum is again free to try and snag an offensive rebound. He is fouled in the process. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the opportunity was a result of work. It was a result of drifting and height.

9:01 – Offense: Bynum does an okay job making himself available to teammates, but he does not try and back Howard into the paint to establish good position when he’s on the block. Instead, The Space Cadet splashes one home from three. Bynum makes no attempt at a rebound.

8:36 – Defense: Howard receives the ball against Bynum in the post but is a little bit outside the paint. He turns and faces. Bynum, in all his wisdom, gives Howard about four feet of space in a good defensive stance. Howard decides to shoot the Tim Duncan bank shot from 8 feet but misses ugly. +1 to Bynum for knowing Howard isn’t a great shooter.

8:23 – Offense: Bynum expends a good amount of energy. Pau finds him in the low post and Bynum feels he has a chance to score. Great footwork getting closer to the basket with one dribble, faking the drop step baseline and then coming back into the lane with a jump hook. The only problem is Howard. Scary athletic play. Howard swiped down to try and stop Bynum’s shot from going up. When he missed, he had time to gather himself and leap (from about two feet away) and reject Bynum’s jump hook. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone make a play on Bynum’s jump hook like that before because he releases it from above the rim. Bynum perhaps should’ve tried to go more into Howard’s body. +1 to Bynum for making that happen. +a little more to Howard for being who we thought he was.

8:12 – Defense: Bynum is providing baseline support against penetration with his arms close down by his sides. Turkoglu takes a dribble to the baseline getting around Gasol. This brings bynum over a little bit further to stop the penetration. Hedo makes the pass to a cutting Howard. Bynum reaches and draws a foul. Bynum’s mistake was only at the end when he reached. He was playing the penetration perfectly but Pau needed to recover more quickly to stop the pass from splitting him and Bynum.

8:10 – As Howard shoots free throws, Bynum has his hands on his knees and is in no mood to go after a rebound.

7:46 – Offense: Bynum isn’t involved in the play but drifts toward the rim to see if he could get another rebound. There isn’t need as Kobe hits that difficult left handed shot. +1 for putting himself in a satisfactory position.

7:39 – Defense: Pick and Roll with Nelson and Howard. Because Howard isn’t a threat from outside, Bynum just sags off and guards the paint. This might be due to laziness, but it’s a good strategy against Howard. He’s much more dangerous rolling to he basket than popping out for a shot. PnR doesn’t result in much for the Magic and they reset. They actually run the triangle offense to get Howard an isolation against Bynum in the post, but outside the paint. Bynum stays at home against Howard and Fisher comes over to help and Howard’s spinning jump hook with his right hand is off the mark.

7:12 – Defense: more pick and roll, this time with Hedo and Howard. Bynum plays it well, again, by sagging into the paint to prevent penetration and the roll. Hedo passes it back out to the perimeter. Rashard Lewis takes it into bynum’s body and throws up a shot hoping to draw a foul. Bynum didn’t go for a shot block, just kind of stood there. No whistle and the shot drops in anyway. Bynum was in no position to get the rebound if there was one. Perhaps due to the contact and thinking he was going to get a foul call, he found himself down by the L of Lakers on the baseline. +1 for providing a resistance to the penetrating Lewis. -1 for then disappearing from the play. SVG is annoyed that no foul was called.

6:49 – offense: bynum is on the weak side with Kobe who shoots the ball from 20 feet. Bynum makes no effort to go after the rebound while Pau actually has inside position against rashard Lewis. -1 for effort. Ariza would’ve gone after it, which is why I <3 Ariza.

6:40 – Defense: Nelson and Howard run pick and roll again. This time Nelson figures it out and dribbles all the way to the bucket. Bynum initially shows but Nelson keeps going and as Howard rolls, Bynum goes back to Howard. Nelson gets a free layup. Kobe was the help man but he was reluctant to leave Courtney Lee all alone on the three point line in the corner. He actually got frozen and guarded neither. Not really Bynum’s fault as Howard is such a threat and he had to make a decision on who to guard.

6:34 – Offense: lakers play 4 on 5 as bynum doesn’t get into offensive end before Derek jacks up a three.

6:11 – Offense: Bynum expends zero energy as Kobe has an iso on the other side. Kobe settles for the jumper that won’t go.

6:09 – Defense: Bynum does a great job racing with Howard down the floor in transition. He actually beats Howard down the floor. Dwight gets the ball in the low post, again outside the paint (Bynum fronted Howard nicely while he was in the paint to prevent him receiving it there). Dwight throws it out to the perimeter because he’s too far away. He and Hedo run pick and roll. Andrew and radman switch. Hedo shoots a jumper that is lightly contested by Bynum. Howard pushes Rad out of bounds and slams home the putback. -1 to the refs.

5:37 – Offense: Bynum facilitated the offense from the high post well, but doesn’t go towards the basket to exploit the Magic rotation. Pau goes up for a shot and Bynum is already retreating even though no one is guarding him. -1 for effort and/or awareness. Howard gets away with a foul on Pau that isn’t whistled. Lakers lead by 3. 13-10.

5:29 – Offense: Bynum isn’t part of the offense and Fisher’s airball is caught by Howard. Howard did a good job keeping the non-effort Bynum on his back. Good job by Howard executing the fundamentals.

5:20 – Defense: Howard isn’t involved in the offense and Bynum does a good job staying with him. Pau provides help on penetration and gets called for a foul. During the second free throw, Pau and Bynum both block out well.

5:04 – Offense: Bynum makes himself available in the low post, but doesn’t work to get good position and receives it too far from the basket. He passes it out and the ball won’t come back to him. Howard makes sure to block him out as the shot goes up.

4:42 – Defense – Excellent play by Bynum here (and all the Lakers). Turkoglu and Howard run pick and roll on the wing. Radman gets caught on the pick so Bynum slides over to stop Hedo’s penetration. Hedo drives baseline but Hedo runs out of real estate as Bynum moves his feet extremely well. Pau slid off Battie to take away Howard’s roll (Kobe then comes off Nelson to take Battie at the top of the circle) and radman and Bynum trap Hedo. Hedo ends up throwing it wildly into the backcourt to get a violation. That was textbook defense by the Lakers and it was due to Drew being able to cut off the penetration, something he has not been skilled at this year. +2 for moving feet brilliantly against a faster man.

4:14 – Offense: Bynum isn’t involved in the offense. He stays on the weak side not doing much of anything, which is sort of what he’s apparently supposed to do (keeps spacing optimal). However, Rad gets stuck at one point at the elbow with his back to the basket – not his forte. Bynum could’ve curled to the basket and put the Magic defense in a compromising position. Instead he just hangs out on his side of the lane. A long jumper goes up and Bynum doesn’t go after the rebound. Turns out okay as the Space Cadet drills it.

3:58 – Defense: Bynum gets caught out of position as Dwight Howard acted like he was going to receive in the post but instead spun around Bynum and goes for the alley-oop. Bynum was caught severely flat footed. Not only that, the pass is off the mark so Howard can’t convert, but because Bynum has given up, he is nowhere to provide any help and Battie gets an uncontested dunk. -1, but it should be pointed out that every big has probably been beaten at some point by Howard’s quickness. It’s the lack of effort to get back into the play that earns him the minus.

3:44 –Offense: Kobe is double teamed and Bynum does not make himself available at all.

3:34 – Defense: In transition, Bynum does a great job preventing Howard from establishing good position and boxes him out. Unfortunately, the magic get a three to fall.

3:20 – Offense: Quick offense this possession as pau receives it down low and Howard goes over to help. Bynum moves quickly to the basket but isn’t in a position to receive a pass, which is fine. He’s there to get the offensive rebound or get an interior pass should the defense get out of position. A slight problem with him going to the basket is that Hedo came over to help and clogged the lane for Pau. Unfortunately Pau gets the ball slapped out of his hands by Howard. That’s not really Bynum’s fault, that means Hedo’s man is open now if Pau could’ve found him. Bynum gets subbed out for Odom.

The couple games of “rest” for Lamar seem to have done him well. He is hustling on defense and making sure to box out his man when the shot goes up. He’s also much more active on pick and roll defense then Bynum.

2nd Quarter

12:00 – Offense: Bynum is back in as Pau and Kobe get to rest. Bynum immediately goes to work against the smaller Gortat. (Howard is still on the bench.) Bynum misses the jump hook in the lane and misses the put back when the rebound falls to him. He doesn’t convert but good energy to start the second.

11:38 – Defense: Gortat smokes Bynum down the floor which Stu makes note of. Then on pick and roll on the wing, Gortat and Anthony Johnson play it to perfection. Bynum shows on Johnson on the sideline and Johnson finds the rolling Gortat who shoots left-handed over Lamar. Nice bucket for the undersized center.

11:15 – Offense: Bynum goes to work on the same spot in the post (still a little too far from the basket). He sets up the drop step and goes to it. The turnaround jumper from 10 feet over Gortat splashes home. +1. 8 points for Bynum so far.

10:55 – Defense: Bynum is guarding Gortat on the interior who never receives the ball. Bynum is playing lazy defense, standing straight up and down. Fisher intercepts a pass on the play.

10:43 – Offense: Bynum on the weak side is content to watch the rebound go to the Magic.

10:37 – Defense: Magic in quick transition. Lakers completely go to sleep. Ariza gets beat off the dribble by Hedo. Sasha reaches in without moving his feat. Lamar is there to challenge the layup but Hedo feeds Rashard who is wide open for three in the corner and he nails it. Fisher tried to get to him but was super late. Bynum didn’t box out anyone even though Gortat was standing right next to him. -1 for not boxing out.

10:20 – Offense: Ariza drives and dunks over Gortat and gets the foul. Spectacular play. Andrew not involved.

10:10 – Defense: After a foul. Magic run late into the clock. Hedo takes it strong to the hoop and Bynum is super late on the help. Hedo draws a small amount of body contact (Bynum was trying to jump sideways). The foul goes against Bynum. Questionable call but fairly common. Bynum reacts demonstrably.

9:49 – Offense: drew isn’t in view. Lamar gets called for a moving pick.

9:35 – Defense: Bynum lets Gortat roll to the bucket on the high pick and roll. Gortat doesn’t get the ball and Drew is lost. He’s running around not guarding anyone. The shot goes up and because he’s got such a height advantage, he manages to take the rebound away from Gortat. Good job trying to recover, but he shouldn’t have needed to recover on that one.

9:20 – Offense: Ariza and Bynum run a weak side pick and roll. Bynum sets a good enough screen to earn Ariza an open jumper from 19 feet that he drains. +1 for Bynum’s screen.

D 9:10 – Pick and roll. Gortat gets a moving pick call. Bynum was in good position to stop penetration by Johnson.

O9:00 – sasha shoots a three that doesn’t go. Bynum uninvolved.

D8:40 – bynum does a great job blocking Gortat out. The ball goes to his side but he just lets Fisher get the rebound. He never takes a step towards it.

O8:44 – PnR mismatch at the elbow with Fisher. Andrew slips the screen perfectly and his height allows him to receive the alley-oop pass from Fisher. Magic read it, but couldn’t do anything about it. Bynum is fouled and misses the dunk. +1 on footwork to get open. Jason Lezak interview. Free throws: Bynum gets the first and the second.

D8:38 – howard is back in. Andrew shows well on a pick and roll with Nelson. He’s in a great defensive stance and forces Nelson to pass. No one has picked up Howard who found his way into the paint and bynum is far away and tries to recover. Luckily, the Lakers deflect a pass that goes out of bounds. Good sequence by the Lakers. To force the Magic to operate with only 10 seconds on the shot clock. More PnR with Nelson. Andrew contests Nelson’s shot that misses. Lakers can’t get the rebound (Howard’s activity caused it) and it goes out of bounds back to the Magic. +2 for Bynum so far. Magic get a jumper and Bynum actively boxes out Howard. No one boxed out Hedo, but Hedo doesn’t catch the rebound and it goes out of bounds. Lakers catch a break. +1 more on effort from Bynum.

O7:55 – Bynum not involved in the offense. Fisher draws a shooting foul.

D7:40 – Bynum involved in PnR with Howard and Hedo. Howard gets away with a questionable screen. Hedo takes the jumper and makes it over Bynum.

O7:15 – Bynum isnot’ involved as Kobe has a mismatch iso against JJ Redick.

D7:10 – Howard/Nelson PnR. Bynum rejects Nelson’s runner. Hedo tracks down the ball. Bynum holds his ground against Hedo’s layup and causes him to miss. Howard picks up the rebound and is fouled by Fisher and Bynum. Bynum lucky not to pick up his second. Bynum is alert on the free throws. +1.

O6:53 – Lakers run the triangle. Weak side screen and roll Bynum and Kobe. Bynum rolls and help is late so kobe lobs it over the top for Andrew to drop it in. easy deuce. Great pass by kobe. SVG calls timeout.

D6:38 – Bynum and Howard have tea together at the weakside elbow and after a while, the Magic turn the ball over on a traveling call without either big man moving more than a foot in any direction.

O6:22 – Bynum’s size shields Hedo from getting to Ariza who shoots the three. It misses. I’m fairly sure Bynum meant to do that, so +1.

D6:15 – Howard establishes DEEP position in the middle of the paint with Bynum on his back. Jump hook good for two. Bynum didn’t fight for position at all. -1 for letting Howard get so deep. (Again, to be fair, no one is able to keep Howard out on every possession.)

O6:06 – Drew does not establish himself as a target in the post—standing with his knees locked. And then he just floats around the lane like a piece of bark floating in a river. However, when Fisher drives and Howard goes to help, Drew does go towards the basket for the possible rebound. Fisher makes a reverse layup.

D5:45 – Magic go early in the shot clock with a Redick three. Bynum boxed out Howard and Ariza gets the long rebound. Ariza misses the contested layup on the one-man fast break. Bynum didn’t get above a light jog and when he got to the free throw line he saw what was happening and turned around the other way.

O5:30 – Howard/nelson PnR again. Kobe holds Nelson going around the pick. Bynum still plays his sagging defense. Kobe picks up the foul. Drew will sit for Pau. Howard immediately goes to work against Pau and draws a foul in the lane. Bynum 12 points, 3 rebound. 5/9 from the field. 16 minutes. Not bad so far.

Pau and Howard are both active. Pau does well during this stint. Howard struggles a little bit. He might need a breather too. He goes out at 2:28. Bynum comes back.

O2:23 – Bynum uninvolved.

D2:03 – Bynum involved in Gortat/Nelson PnR. Nelson gets a jumper to fall.

O1:50 – bynum uninvolved.

D1:33 – Bynum boxes out no one.

O1:25 – Bynum runs the floor well but doesn’t’ get it right away. He then disappears from the play.

D1:15 – Bynum barely boxes out Gortat. Lakers get the rebound.

O0:54 – Bynum just kind of leans on his man when Pau’s fadeaway in the lane goes up.

D0:35 – Bynum does okay defending the paint. But doesn’t do a good job boxing out, or going after a rebound. Magic get a second chance and convert it. Drew did force Nelson to kick it out on the penetration, but Courtney Lee nails it from three. It was a great pass and nothing anyone could do about it. The Lakers were in scramble mode.

O0:10 – Last try for the Lakers. Bynum is momentarily matched up against Nelson but Fisher takes the three instead. Bynum isn’t in the mindset to go after the rebound as Gortat puts a body on him.

D0:05 – Orlando’s last second look is way too good. Point the finger on this one at Kobe who left Courtney Lee wide open and decided to guard no one in the paint. I was livid when I saw this the first time around. The Lakers give up way too many good looks due to laziness because they think the clock will run out. Lakers lead 44-52.

Dwight Howard has 9 points, 7 boards, and 2/7 FGs. Not exactly lighting it up. Bynum’s size has bothered Howard enough that he’s a little bit off his game.

3rd quarter

Bynum has a good start the third quarter. Showing good hustle. A few nice offensive moves. He is in a bad defensive positions a couple times and is forced to foul Howard. Still shows no nose for how to get himself in position to get rebounds (offensive or defensive). Howard struggles a little bit but does good work as well. When Bynum goes to the bench, Howard shows more activity and picks up a few rebounds. He’s also more aggressive offensively.

4th Quarter

Defensively Bynum struggles. He doesn’t rotate well, doesn’t play the PnR well, and has mixed results one on one with Howard. At 6:15 – Bynum let’s Dwight get an offensive rebound (no box out) and then Dwight gets an alley-oop because Bynum is flat footed.

Offensively, he draws more attention from Howard, which allows others to have just a little more space. One of Bynum’s habits that comes out is that Bynum floats towards the basket when the shot goes up if no one guards him, but he doesn’t go to the rim with purpose.

During Drew’s second stint after a quick breather, Drew never touched the ball on the offensive end. It’s a result of him being on the opposite side of the ball and not making himself a big target in the post. Drew doesn’t get into the game for meaningful minutes in crunch time.