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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

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.”

Halftime
“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.

Observations

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.

Conclusion

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. 
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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.

1st Quarter

The Space Cadet is starting tonight instead of Ariza or Luke (injured).

12:00 – And we’re off an auspicious start! The jump ball is whistled dead and goes the Lakers way, although I have no idea why and Joel doesn’t bother to tell us why. That’s great. Something confusing happens and neither announcer deems it necessary to clarify the situation.

11:45 – First possession the Lakers go to the oft used Fisher-in-the-low-post set. Fisher gets two point-blank tries and blows them both. Shocked, I say.

11:27 – The Hornets will throw up their initial shot with a David West jumper over Pau. Nope.

11:02 – Too close. Peja’s fake the three, one dribble to the midrange pull-up shot is short.

10:33 – David West draws first blood. Same pull-up jumper over The Spaniard this time goes in. 2-0 Hornets.

9:49 – Disjointed offensive possession by the Lakers. Kobe got stopped and Fisher ends up trying to penetrate from the corner. Bynum gets the feed inside and draws a foul. The Lakers bench is still standing and wishing they didn’t promise to stand until the first field goal is made. Bynum misses the first makes the second.

9:20 – Radmanovic throws his easy layup off the backboard like a young man meeting Scarlett Johansson. that is to say, it was spastic and overeager. Speaking of Ms. Johansson, she is not not not ugly. Yeah, that’s right. I busted out the rarely used triple negative.

8:57 – Double team on Pau and Fisher benefits with a wide open three. The Bench Mob can finally sit down. I was starting to feel bad for them. If they made it 4 minutes without a field goal, does Sun Yue just say, “aww forget it. I’m sitting. You guys are professional basketball players and can’t score. That’s pathetic.” 4-4

7:50 – Lakers look like they could use a Garmin Nuvi. They are lost. And then Kobe bails them out with a behind the back dribble that frees him for a jumper over Rasual Butler. Bucket. 6-6.

7:11 – Chris Paul has been relatively quiet. I feel it’s time for him to show his stuff. I’m psychic. It’s official. He gets a good screen and hits a 17 foot jumper.

6:19 – CP3 to TC6 (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it) alley-oop. 12-9 Hornets “stinging” the Lakers. Bad Pun Alert #1

5:50 – Pau’s turnaround hookshot comes up shorter than the Federal Budget.

5:03 – Kobe runs through a gauntlet of teal-clad defenders, draws a foul, and hits the running tear drop to spite his face. I’m pretty sure that cliché doesn’t apply here. Oh well. You can write your own live blog. Kobe converts the three point play 16-12 Hornets still lead.

3:04 – Lamar uses his own “crab dribble” (Lebron clearly traveled, btw) and picks up a couple free throws. FSW shows a great slo-mo of a chris paul tear drop on a prior possession. The ball never rotated more than a couple degrees. Great demonstration of the difficulty and skill of that shot.

2:35 – Sasha subs into the game and takes about three seconds to decide to shoot. THE MACHINE WILL STOP AT NOTHING! NOTHING! He drills the short corner three. Lakers still trail 24-18.

1:50-James Posey says, “BUT MOOOOOOOOM” Except in this case, Mom is Joey Crawford. I’m not sure he’s going to win this argument. Just sayin’. Kobe gets fouled out at the top of the circle (whistle sounds) and then when Kobe runs past, Posey fouled Kobe again as Kobe went up for the shot. Crawford whistles Posey for a technical and Posey can’t believe it. I’m okay with the call (Posey’s second foul was fairly late) but I also understand his confusion. If players can go for a second or two and still get continuation, defenders should be able to go for a second or two and still foul. New rule: a player can earn TWO fouls on the same play. Write that down. I’m a genius. After the free throw situation, Kobe’s Lakers are still down 27-20.

1:40 – Flopper award goes to: Chris Paul. Sasha hits him on the arm as he shoots and Chris acts like he got hit by Brian Urlacher. Sorry dude, that was too much.

1:13 – Sasha picks up a second foul going around a screen and he tells Phil not to take him out. Phil plays genie and grants his wish.

0:46 – Sasha wants to get embarrassed. He’s on an island against Chris Paul. The instectoids don’t take advantage.

0:15 – CP3 again on an island against Sasha. Chris bangs into Sasha 35 feet from the bucket and gets another foul. That call was questionable at best. Questionable or not, that was Sasha’s third and we’ll not be seeing him again for a long while.

0:10 – Lakers will try and get the last shot of the possession.

0:03 – Lamar gets a lefty scoop to fall.

0:00 – Peja has a wide open shot to end the quarter that is too long. Radmanovich puts on his Chevy Chase impersonation and falls down face first into the lap of the first row ticket holder. I’m not sure what happened there. Maybe he wanted some popcorn. The result was Peja had too much space to shoot and the ensuing vacuum screwed up his usually text book form.

2nd Quarter

11:11 – Posey shows off his Olajuwon moves and hits a running hook over Radman. The Space Cadet’s a stout defender, to be sure. ::throws shoe at tv::

10:13 – Bynum shows some “energy” and dunks the ball around Hilton Armstrong. I’m not sure why this play isn’t run every time. David only beat Goliath once. The other 99 times Goliath would’ve eaten David as an h’ordeuvre.

8:51 – Lakers force a 24-second violation. It wasn’t great defense so much as disjointed offense. Without Chris Paul directing traffic, the Hornets had a little difficulty getting the ball into threatening position.

Whoa. Vlade Divac must have found some wonderful eateries in Europe. He’s carrying a lot of extra baggage. And, no, a psychiatrist would not be the right person to see about it.

8:15 – I <3 Ariza. He forces a steal at half court and then hustles for the ball. Sitting down he throws it to a streaking Radmanovich who finishes the layup with Posey fouling him hard. Beautiful sequence if you’re a Lakers fan. Lakers closing the gap, 35-36.

7:15 – Maybe it wasn’t CP3’s absence before that caused problems. They have a careless turnover even with him on the floor. Chandler felt the relentless pressure of Lamar and threw it into the backcourt.

7:03 – Lamar does his patented make one, miss one routine. Any other imitators will need to pay him royalties. 38-36 Hornets.

Kobe and Pau are back in. and of course, the right shot is a Lamar 3 pointer. What bizarro world are we living in? even more bizarre, Lamar nails it. First lead for the Lakers.

Hornets don’t let them keep it.

5:43 – Perhaps it’d be a good idea to pretend to guard David West from 18 feet. Just a thought. The Lakers can’t even manage to look like they are guarding him. 43-39 Hornets.

Lamar ignores PJ’s wish for a timeout and drives hard to the rim earning a bucket and a foul. Lamar converts it. Phew. 43-42 Lakers behind again.

5:00 – Hilton Armstrong is a beast on the boards. Well, that’s what LO is going to say, anyway. Armstrong gets an offensive rebound and a nice running hookshot to go. ::currently shoeless::

4:18 – The Lakers fans dust off the AIRBALL chant for Peja. That was muy feo. Where’s Pau??? He has been a virtual no-show.

3:59 – Fisher gets creamed drawing a charging foul on a 3 on 1 break. That’s going to leave a mark.

3:44 – Kobe has just turned the ball over for the second time on a sideline trap. Stu tells us that Kobe needs to avoid going to the sideline. Ya think? It would also help if the rest of the Lakers didn’t stand and punch their time cards on the other side of the court waiting for a Jesus and Lazarus moment.

3:14 – Kobe tries his hand at a three. It was pure all the way. Devin Brown, you got served.

3:03 – Lamar hyperextends his knee on a weird defensive play. He goes back to the locker room. He might not be back for a while.

2:22 – BYNUM! Hello young fella. He’s showing some energy again as he follows his own miss and gets fouled on the putback. Great stuff. Let’s see more of that! 50-48 going into a timeout with free throws coming. Bynum hits both and we’re tied.

2:11 – That was the fastest defensive two second call ever. Oh you’ve never heard of the defensive two second call? Me either. But Joey Crawford has. What a bald-headed ninny.

1:40 – Kobe is doing the right thing, passing when he’s double/triple teamed and his teammates aren’t hitting squat. Fisher misses so badly it leads to a NO fast break.

0:54 – I think that’s three or four straight turnovers by the Lakers. Yikes. 57-50 Hornets.

0:34 – Paul shows off his unstoppable teardrop again. This time it’s a cross-cultural learning project as he takes the Spaniard a la escuela.

0:01 – Paul hits a ridiculous shot over a couple defenders on the inside.

0:00 – Kobe gets the last shot on a great inbounds pass to half court and drills it as the lights come on. I’m not even going to mention Devin Brown is a knucklehead and fouled Kobe right before he took that shot. 61-56 Hornets take the lead into the intermission.

3rd Quarter

Lamar’s status is unknown. Officially it’s a hyperextension of the right knee. Pau is 0-4 with 0 points.

11:13 – Kobe matches david West as both of them hit three pointers. 63-58 Hornets.

10:50 – Maybe Kobe will just score another 81 points tonight. He seems to be the only Laker willing to make a bucket. Lamar will not return with an MRI coming tomorrow.

10:32 – Tyson Chandler has a beautiful free throw technique. It’s a little bit like a break dancer at the charity stripe.

10:01 – Six Pac! CP3 tries to find chandler rolling for the alley-oop and bynum spikes the pass into the first row of spectators.

9:30 – David West. How about we guard him? kthxbye. 69-65 Hornets.

8:57 – Pau doubles his scoring total with two free throws. 71-67 Hornets.

8:35 – West showed up to play tonight. He puts some man sauce on that one. A nice jump hook over the outstretched hands of Gasol.

So far Paul has 23 points and 10 assists with 0 turnovers. That’s some nice contribution.

8:01 – The Kobes score again. I’m calling them the Kobes because he’s the only one who seems to be able to score. David West answers back.

7:22 – david West is human after all. He misses.

7:10 – Rainbowwwwwwww. Kobe nails it from long distance. 77-72 Lakers trailing.

6:22 – mistmatch? Chris Paul vs. Andrew bynum at the arc. Awkward. Hornets don’t make them pay.

6:00 – Kobe’s rain dance paid off. His long three rattles home after almost bouncing out.

5:35 – chris Paul gets a three point play. Kobe just goes down and hits another three. 80-78 Hornets. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!! (zoolander fans?)

5:04 – Lakers tie it up. Not for long. Peja burns them with the corner three.

4:27 – Kobe isn’t playing against David West but he is taking the challenge personally. He drills another jumper. 83-82 Hornets.

3:48 – The crowd is ready to erupt as The Spaceman has a wide open three and he decides that it’s too early for histrionics. Brick.

3:17 – Fisher drains his three attempt. Lakers take the lead

2:52 – All of Staples Center breathes a sigh of relief as Peja’s wide open three (radman, I’m looking at you) misses. A Chris Paul foul takes us to a timeout. I’ll remember to breathe now.

2:06 – This game has long since turned into a defense-optional affair. It’s like all this talk about the effect of 7SOL has somehow made these teams want to shoot threes all over the place.

1:33 – Great hustle by Bynum to track down a long rebound, get it ahead to Kobe, who passed up a three to feed Pau under the rim for an easy dunk. Great play.

1:04 – Lakers prove to be bullet-dodgers as Peja misses what seems like his umpteenth open three.

0:35 – Kobe and Bynum two man game. Kobe drills a long three.

0:30 – Chris Paul whirling dervish shot in the post against fisher. Money. 87-92 Lakers up.

0:00 – Lakers finish the 3rd up by 3. 92-89.

4th Quarter

It’d be nice if the Lakers played better defense on their penetration. Whoever is defending West and Peja need to not sag in. they should just stay on their man.

11:30 – Hornets strike first with two Rasual Butler fouls.

Josh Powell sighting. He has two negative plays to start the quarter. He doesn’t stop West from getting an offensive rebound and he gets called for a traveling.

10:21 – Great hustle. Ariza tries to get his miss and it gets tapped out towards the New Orleans bench. Pau saves it. Kobe wastes the possession and throws up a prayer hoping to get fouled. The zebras (outdated moniker) don’t bail him out.

9:52 – david West needs more muscles. He clearly doesn’t work out enough. Yikes. He and Derek go to the same body sculptor.

9:51 – I learned something new. You can’t closed-fist contact the basketball. Hilton Armstrong is guilty of this little-known infraction.

9:10 – Kobe does the righty scoop in honor of Lamar and gets it to go.

8:50 – David West answers with a nice 15 footer of his own.

8:31 – If at first you don’t succeed… Ariza takes his billionth shot from downtown and finally hits it. 94-99 Lakers lead.

8:10 – David West gets his 30th point.

7:39 – Rasual Butler ties the game at 99 with his short corner three. Kobe’s on the bench and the Lakers will need to figure out how to score without him setting the court aflame.

7:10 – Or not. Kobe will check back in.

6:38 – A weak chant of “defense” breaks out. Lakers follow suit and allow david west to get his 34th point.

5:58 – Ariza gets a great steal and Fisher has himself a contested layup. He feels there is contact but the refs don’t see it that way. He is unable to convince them of the error of their ways and earns a technical. Wasted opportunity. 104-99 Hornets up after the T.

5:52 – The majestic Bynum has checked back in to re-ignite the twin towers. Posey beats them with a three from the corner. 107-99.

4:48 – Mr. West is going to win this one by himself. He raises up over The Spaniard to put the Hornets up 109-99.

4:07 – Ariza is left all alone…again. And he misses. Again. ::smacks forehead:: Did someone order a Coors Light? The Lakers are ice cold.

3:02 – David West might have gone to Xavier. I’m not sure. The big ‘X’ tattoo seems to indicate the possibility. He is now sitting on 39 points. 1 shy of his career high. 111-102.

2:29 – Lakers get a much-needed stop. Bynum bulls his way into an offensive foul. That should pretty much do it.

1:53 – 24 second shot clock violation on the teal marauders. No big deal for them.

1:22 – You know what’s awesome? Watching Chris Paul being guarded by a big and the big looking around like someone played a practical joke on him. Senor Gasol, I raise my glass to your befuddled bewilderment.

0:45 – Kobe saves some dignity by taking Rasual Butler’s. Kobe two-hand blocks Butler’s breakaway layup. Sick play. If Kobe did that at the park, Butler wouldn’t be allowed back on the court till Friday. Too bad it doesn’t mean anything. Hornets are too far ahead. Fisher hits a three off the turnover.

0:30 – That’ll do it. What a sad fourth quarter that was.

0:00 – 116-105 is your final count here. Man, I would love to thump David West on the ear right now. He killed the Lakers tonight. I guess that is a back-handed way of tipping my hat to him. Lakers fans go home disappointed. Hopefully they’ll make it up tomorrow night in Alameda County where we’ll be treated to the sweet sounds of Nellie Ball.

Things the Lakers did well:

  • Limited the Pick and Roll leading to an alley-oop
  • got open looks

Things the Lakers could’ve done more awesomely:

  • stopped the Juggernaut that was David West
  • hit a shot in the 4th.

Our Lakers are about to face off against the Detroit Smurfs. I mean, the Detroit Pistons. The Lakers are back home on the Staples Center court and one of the side stories tonight is that Mamba will be moving past Larry Legend and possibly The Glove on the all-time scoring list. In my humble opinion, that accomplishment doesn’t really mean a whole lot because evidence suggests that hanging a lot of points on your opponent individually doesn’t necessarily lead to championships. Kobe has proven he can score, but Lakers fans should be looking for him to fill up the rest of the stats and improve on Hollinger’s beloved PER. As the late Marvin Gaye might say, Let’s Get It On.

1st Quarter

As expected, Stone Hands Kwame will be in the starting lineup for the Smurfs. Newly acquired Allen Iverson will also be making his first appearance in LA as a Piston. Does it ever bother anyone else that the jargon used to describe player movement is similar to the word choice used to describe the buying and selling of consumer goods?

11:15 – Stone Hands gets booed as he gets the ball in the post and he ends up coughing it up. I feel really bad about calling him stone hands since he totally proved me right.

11:04 – Bynum shows that he has anti-stone hands as he catches turns and lays it in. It wasn’t the most graceful move but it involved a lot of concentration and control.

9:30 – The Smurfs are a lot faster to shoot with AI in the lineup. They have caught the Lakers flat footed and the score is 10-2. AI hasn’t missed.

8:43 – Tayshaun drills a pull up jumper in Radman’s eye from above the free throw line. That was an intense bucket.

8:29 – Kobe gets stuck in the high post doing his up and down routine and RIP won’t go for the fakes. Kobe decides to jump into Hamilton and create contact and somehow draws the whistle and the bucket. If the refs are going to call it that way all night, RIP is in for a long night.

8:10 – Tayshaun Prince is the Smurfs point forward—he’s handling most of the point guard duties (heh, I just said, duties). He decides to dribble out the shot clock (in part due to the Space Cadet’s excellent defense. no really. I’ll wait while you roll on the floor with uncontrollable laughter) and then takes a low elevation fadeaway from about 18 feet. It’s the Smurfs’ first miss of the night.

7:48 – great two-man game between Bynum and Pau at the mid post and high post. Pau got Bynum an assist when Stone Hands went for the Bynum up-fake. Rasheed had to come over to guard bynum and Pau spaced to the left wing for the open jumper. Splash.

7:07 – great hustle play by stone Hands to get his team a second chance opportunity. Smurfs don’t convert.

6:48 – Bynum misses two in a row. One of them a gimme from 5 feet over Kwame’s stellar I’m-Not-going-to-jump defense.

6:13 – Bynum gets his team a second chance. And then a third chance. And then Kobe finds Bynum dashing toward the basket. Bynum keeps the ball high and lays it in off the window. With a couple stops and some buckets, the Lakers only trail by three. Stone Hands is no match for the mobility and activity of the young kid. 12-9 Smurfs lead.

5:33 – Out of a timeout, the Pistons had no idea what to do and the Lakers caused a 24-second violation. That’s not good coaching.

5:18 – Kobe spins around Rip and there is no one within 10 feet. Kobe gets a two handed slam. 12-11 Smurfs up.

4:58 – Kwame gets deep position against Bynum (Bynum probably should’ve worked harder before the catch) but blows the turnaround.

4:35 – Bynum goes after another offensive board. Stone Hands has got to be feeling a little silly. Pau will convert that possession into two free throw attempts. He gets one of them.

4:13 – On a semi-fast break, The Spaniard throws up a terrible alley-oop to the Mamba from the three point line and somehow Kobe is able to get the elevator to go one level higher. He throws it in with one hand without breaking his arm on the backboard. Unbelievable. Mamba had to throw it throw it back against the momentum of the ball to prevent it from bouncing off the glass. Kobe should do the Sam Cassell big balls dance right now. Lakers take the lead and the Smurfs take a timeout.

3:57 – Pau gets whistled for a foul on the post entry into Rasheed. Kobe was about to come from the weakside to get the blindside steal. That’s what we’ve been talking about with the willingness of the Lakers to leave one man open on the opposite side of the floor in order to force more pressure on the ball handlers.

3:18 – Smurfs figure out the defense on this possession. Rasheed runner in the lane off a nice feed.

2:44 – Wallace this time from outside drains the three. Don’t let that guy go off. 17-14 Smurfs take the lead.

1:45 – Lamar hits the long two. Nice stroke on that one. Remember last year when he couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn?

0:55 – Lakers bungle that possession and violate the 24-second limit.

0:50 – Ariza is guarding Stuckey (who really does look like 50 cent). Iverson drills the fadeaway from the right baseline over Farmar.

0:31 – Odom appears to get away with a feet shuffle on the wing and takes it strong the basket. He draws a foul on Stone Hands. Misses the first badly. Fabio err… Walter Hermann enters the game. Odom misses the second off the back iron.

0:00 – Kobe has the ball as the clock winds down. Stuckey’s defense causes him to rethink his shot attempt. He passes it but Iverson intercepts it and he sprints the other direction. AI somehow gets this funky running lob slash floater shotput to go as the buzzer sounds. Sick. 23-16 Smurfs withstand the Lakers run. Will they open up the lead or will the Lakers make the necessary adjustments?

2nd Quarter

11:35 – The Lakers use all of the 24 second shot clock to get a terrible shot out of Ariza from 25 feet.

10:57 – Iverson auditions in front of the Hollywood producers as he flops his way to a foul in defensive transition. Farmar is the victim of his acting skills.

10:32 – Farmar gets two points back from the Rasheed three that just dropped.

10:10 – Farmar throws a nice lob to Ariza in transition.

9:31 – Perhaps gasol should consider guarding Rasheed on the three point line. I think that’s Rasheed’s third from deep. 33-20.

8:53 – Odom takes it away from Fabio.

8:41 – Out of a timeout, the play is… for an Ariza pull up jumper? He drains it.

8:18 – tayshaun drains his straightaway three. Lakers have to be losing that stat category. 36-24 Smurfs.

7:39 – Machine make baskets. 36-27.

7:23 – Ariza gets hit in the man bits. Warren Sapp makes Stu look silly. Stu asks him about his baseball career in high school and Sapp tells him to stop reading Wikipedia because he never played baseball. He played basketball

7:07 – Gasol converts!

6:45 – Gasol trails the play and looks like he wants to dunk it but at the very last second, he drops it off to Odom for the finish. Beautiful. Odom gets the next one inside as well. 43-34 Smurfs.

5:57 – Jason Maxiell Boston Celtics Lamar and Pau. That is to say, he exploits their stand and wait rebounding technique. He dunks the miss with some attitude. Timeout golden warriors. 45-34.

5:29 – Ariza picks Maxiell’s pocket with some ninja surprise. Kobe converts a turnaround jumper from the elbow at the other end.

4:41 – Stuckey Cent takes Ninja Surprise off the dribble. To create space he lowers his shoulder and sends Ariza into the first row of photographers. The refs decide this is a move disallowed by the rules of the NBA. Stuckey goes to the bench.

4:18 – Ninja Surprise uses all of his activity to generate a second possession for the Lakers which Pau misses. Ninja Surprise says, “I got this.” And dunks the ball off the Gasol miss. 47-38 Detroit showing LA who’s boss.

3:45 – Phil allows Bynum to come back into the game. I think good things are going to happen.

2:22 – Some sloppy possessions by both sides. Pau gets marshmallowy and loses control of the ball. Kobe demonstrates the proper way to draw a foul. He’ll shoot two after the tv timeout. I got distracted and missed what happened with the free throws.

1:45 – Lakers (i.e. Super Kobe) miss the jumper. Lakers trail 51-40.

0:50 – Hamilton barrels into Fisher on the drive and kick. Fisher accepts the out-of-control call and it will go the other way.

0:30 – Kobe dribbles it away. Tayshaun gets three layup attempts and converts the last one.

0:01 – Kobe gets to his spot on the right side about 10 feet out and banks it off the glass as time expires. 53-44 Lakers trail the Smurfs.

Halftime

Billy Mac and Norm Nixon look a lot more comfortable outside than they did last week when they were fighting off the blustery wind.  Did anyone see Quantum of Solace yet? Should I go see it? Bond films aren’t usually my thing, but the trailers look good, if unrevealing.

3rd 25%

My prescription for a comeback: More Ariza and Bynum. Ariza is having his normal positive effect on both sides of the floor and Bynum makes the Smurfs pay for their small lineup. Hamblin says the Lakers adjustments will be to try and contain the guard penetration. Really? That’s it? Your plan is to try and stay in front of AI? Isn’t everyone’s? Isn’t the whole point of his career that you can’t stay in front of him? This is my definition of a flawed plan executed to perfection.

11:16 – Bynum erases Rasheed’s layup.

10:46 – Stone Hands watch: Kwame makes the dunk off the feed from Hamilton.

10:24 – RIP makes the short jumper.

10:06 – Dfish makes his first jumper of the night. He and Radman are 1-12 tonight combined according to Stu.

9:34 – Kobe hits the PUJIT over Wallace. 57-50 Smurfs up.

9:07 – Lakers are running a lopsided polygon offense. Poor shot results.

8:45 – AI’s jumper falls from inside the three point line off the dribble. On the plus side, he didn’t penetrate. ::rolls eyes::

8:00 – Kobe takes it left off the dribble and dunks it left-handed. Beautiful.

7:38 – Stone Hands bricks his free throw after getting the bucket against the Bynum foul. 61-54 Smurfs.

6:45 – Bynum now believes that Tayshaun is a magician. Prince beat Radman left and squeezed past Bynum on the baseline for the two hand jam. I’m not sure why the space cadet was shading Prince to his strong hand but maybe he believed that was the smart strategy. Hindsight is 20/20. 65-56 Pistons.

5:00 – Bynum swats Hamilton’s layup about 35 feet into the second row on the sideline. Rasheed hits the buzzer beater three ball over the outstretched arm of Gasol. The bank is late tonight! 70-58. Lakers are in trouble.

3:22 – Trevor slashes to the bucket and finishes in traffic. Nice, but you can’t rely on that all the time. 70-60.

2:40 – The band is playing the defense chant, about four fans are cheering along.

2:00 – Stone Hands Brown blocks Gasol’s turnaround set shot in the paint. The Spaniard might need to trim that caveman beard to help him get more lift on that shot.

1:33 – Lakers get a fast break layup off a turnover. Lamar converts the tough finish.

0:49 – The Machine breaks defense. He let’s Rip run back door for the easy flex cut feed.

0:15 – Pistons open up their biggest lead of 15.

0:01 – The Machine misses from deep. And the quarter ends 77-62. Pistons are just frustrating everything the Lakers are trying to do.

4th Quarter

11:43 – Stone Hands receives the love from the crowd. They boo him vociferously and he rattles both of his free throws home. One of them was an accidental bank.

11:15 – Stuckey Cent draws a foul on the Machine.

10:38 – Farmar’s stepback goes from the top of the key. 79-64.

9:48 – Smurfs run their end of quarter offense. Four down and the lakers get a steal. Farmar with the fast break layup at the other end.

9:25 – The Machine needs a firmware revision. He fouls again. Rip will get two free throws. He makes both.

8:55 – The nomuskles sister has called this one for the Pistons. Thought you should know.

8:07 – Lamar takes Prince on the block and converts the lefty jump hook and the ensuing free throw.

8:03 – Machine gets a jump ball surprising StuckeyCent in the backcourt. They’ll toss it up in the Lakers offensive end but Rasheed gets the tip.

7:28 – “At least they’re getting it inside now.” –Joel. I smell the declaration of a moral victory. Bynum converts his two freebies. 83-71.

6:45 – The Lakers got a great look for Bynum from Kobe under the bucket but Bynum missed the contested shot and in the disorganized transition, Prince hibachi’s the three ball. Timeout Zen Master. I still say, less Machine, more Ninja Surprise and Bynum. Also, where is Mamba? Are his legs tired from Beijing? Actually, it’s just the constant double teams that are giving him fits. The secondary defenders are cheating off their men early and cramming the lane. The Smurfs watched the game tape from last season’s Finals and learned a trick or two.

5:01 – Finally Mamba hits something. He hit’s a three from the left wing. 91-74.

4:30 – Odom gets the intentional foul to stop the clock and send the Pistons to the line. Unfortunately, that’s not what he was trying to do. He was just trying to get around Wallace in the backcourt after the rebound. Mental fatigue. Lamar sits down. I’d expect to see Chris Mihm and Josh Powell soon.

4:18 – Kobe hits a three ball from the Nokia theater.

4:03 – Kobe is going to just shoot three’s the rest of the way here. He misses another.

3:44 – Moral victory: Kobe stuffs Rip’s jumper back into Hamilton’s face. Anti Victory: Lakers still losing by a the square of four.

3:34 – Mamba fixes a broken play, splitting the double time and gets fouled on his layup. He misses the free throw short. 93-79.

3:08 – DFish hits his second three point attempt on the possession. Rasheed gets an easy dunk as the pistons break the trap. And this one is done folks. We’re going to go ahead and invoke the mercy rule for the live blog.

On a more positive note, I would highly recommend the Flight Path Museum for anyone in Southern California. The museum is on the LAX campus (you enter off of Imperial Highway past the end of the 105 West and pays tribute to aviation history of the Los Angeles area and the airport itself. I visited the small museum today and had a great experience with a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guide. While not overwhelming, the museum is informative and contains many notable artifacts from commercial aviation history. Make sure you take a peek at the Spirit of Seventy-Six, a non-working DC-3. Admission is free but you can donate, if you wish. My visit happened to coincide with the departure of the USC football team and was fortunate enough to be invited onto their charter plane to check out the cockpit of a modern 757. More interesting to viewers of this site is that the tour guide said that the Lakers often leave from the same area of the airport. Check it out if you have a free hour or want to rent out the space for an organizational event.