Archives For Los Angeles Lakers

From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Los AngelesDwight Howard had no idea how good he had it as he left Staples Center late Saturday night. ”Day off tomorrow!” he said happily as he left the arena. After a long week of practice, three exhibition games, plus travel to Fresno and Ontario, it wasn’t surprising the Lakers would take Sunday off before starting a week in which they’ll practice every day, play three more exhibition games and travel to Anaheim and Las Vegas. It wasn’t surprising unless of course you spent any time around the team during Mike Brown’s first season as head coach. During the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, the Lakers worked 19 straight days from the time training camp started on December 9, finally taking a day off on December 28 after opening the regular season with back-to-back-to-back games. Things didn’t get much easier from there, as Brown earned the nickname “All day, every day” from his players, many of whom chafed at the coach’s hard-driving style.

From Mark Medina, LA TimesOne key Lakers veteran has high expectations for something that hardly warranted praise in recent seasons. “I feel we can be one of the most dangerous benches in the league,” said Antawn Jamison. Despite the “Bench Mob” and “Killer Bees” nicknames in recent seasons, few would describe that unit in Jamison’s terms. Last season, the Lakers finished last in points (20.5), 28th in efficiency (27.2), 20th in shooting percentage (41.7%) and 28th in point differential (9.4). Coach Mike Brown played musical chairs in the bench rotation in hopes he’d find a sudden surprise. Even with Lamar Odom falling off the deep end in Dallas, his absence created an irreplaceable void as the team’s bench leader. The Lakers have made changes this off-season to address those problems. They added dependable secondary scoring (Jamison) and outside shooting (Jodie Meeks). They kept young talent (Devin Ebanks) and sudden surprises (Jordan Hill).

From Trevor Wong, Lakers.comA year ago, Metta World Peace conceded he was out of shape. His shot was off, he seemed to be a step slow defensively and his entire game was affected. “The lockout hurt me a lot, because last season going into the playoffs I had a nerve issue in my back,” he explained during his exit interview in May. “Once the lockout happened I wasn’t able to address it so all I could do was rest. It took me 2-3 months to get in shape.” During the first half of last season, World Peace shot only 33.5 percent from the field and 23.9 percent from the 3-point line, while averaging just 4.9 points.

From Brian Kamenetzky, ESPN Los AngelesKobe knows exactly how he prioritizes that sort of thing relative to winning. Over the course of now 17 seasons in L.A., the demands on Kobe as a leader have changed. Earlier in his career, Bryant’s role wasn’t as expansive. He didn’t so much lead (not in the way we traditionally think of the word, at least) as get out front in a very competitive environment and drag guys with him through will, stubbornness, and on-floor talent. In time, though, as more has been required Bryant has adjusted. He’s softened the edges, grown less insular, and learned you can’t be that guy all the time and expect people to follow. There is greater depth to his leadership, and never does he demand levels of hard work he’s himself unwilling to meet.

From Marc Stein, ESPN.comImportant update to our weekend report regarding the prospect of a return to the Los Angeles Lakers for veteran guard Derek Fisher. Sources briefed on the discussions told ESPN.com on Monday that Fisher has, indeed, been verified by the league office as eligible to re-sign with the Lakers since July 1, which runs counter to the widely held assumption that Fisher had to wait at least one year from the date that the Lakers dealt him to Houston in March before a reunion with Kobe Bryant would be permissible.

From Mike Trudell, Lakers.comLakers reserve forward Earl Clark strained his left groin and is out indefinitely. Clark, acquired in the Dwight Howard trade with Orlando, has played solid defense in training camp but is not expected to be in the regular bench rotation. In the regular season, the Lakers will most likely have Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol play center for the second unit, with Jordan Hill and Antawn Jamison getting the power forward minutes.

-Ryan Cole

Box Score: Lakers 96, Mavs 91
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.3, Mavs 104.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 58.0%, Mavs 48.7%

We knew that the Lakers had a bit of a tough mini-road trip ahead before the All-Star break. The Mavs have been pretty hot. They won 7 of their last 8 going into this game.

THE GOOD
Hey there, Pau Gasol. Way to respond to trade rumors with this performance. Pau Gasol showed pretty much the whole repertoire today from the jumpers to the left-handed hooks to lay-ups to tiptoe dunks. 24 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. And he did a pretty decent job guarding Dirk Nowitzki, too.

Andrew Bynum looked pretty motivated earlier tonight, too. 19 points and 14 boards for the All-Star starting center. And his passing looked much improved today. Too bad, he didn’t get as many touches and shots as I would like.

Derek Fisher had a season-high 15 points in this game (topping his season-high of 13 which also came against Dallas). He shot 6 for 8 (2 for 3 behind the arc) earlier tonight. We all wish he could do this more often (only his sixth time getting double digits this season).

I like how the defense hunkered down on the Mavericks (the Mavs shot 40 percent). The Mavs were forced to shoot more three-pointers than they liked and it paid off for the Lakers (Mavs only shot 8 for 32, 25 percent!). There was also a huge stretch in the fourth quarter where the Mavericks didn’t score a point for nearly four minutes. The Lakers capitalized by going on a 9-0 run, which essentially put away the game.

The bench wasn’t exactly great today… but Matt Barnes nearly put up a double double (9 points, 9 boards). His hustle definitely helped out L.A. Especially late in the game after a missed freethrow (MORE ON MISSED FREETHROWS LATER).

THE BAD
Kobe Bryant didn’t let the game come to him. He stalled the offense in the 3rd while he tried to get his points. He also, for whatever reason, couldn’t handle the basketball and made some questionable decision-making. Kobe just didn’t look Kobe. He finished with 15 points (4 for 15 shooting) and 7 turnovers. But he did come up big at the end which I’ll bring up in a bit.

While I did like that the Lakers packed it in the paint, they still have to do a better job closing out on the perimeter. Yes, the Mavericks didn’t shoot very well behind the arc and we get that the 3-point shot is a low-percentage shot. But you still gotta come out and rotate. The Lakers were lucky that the Mavs didn’t make more treys. They lost a 14-point lead in the 2nd quarter partly because of back-to-back open 3s Dallas made.

And while we’re at it, the Lakers have to do a better job boxing out guys like Brendan Haywood and Shawn Marion. They were mostly responsible for 21 offensive boards for their team. The Lakers closed the gap with 17 of their own but they still gotta keep the other team in check when it comes to that.

The Lakers also had 17 turnovers. But again, Kobe did have the majority of them (he had 7 as mentioned).

Oh, and don’t let Vince Carter think it’s 2000 all over again. He had 18 points in the first half alone. Good thing that Metta World Peace did a decent job at him in the second half when he was out there (Barnes got the crunchtime minutes). Vince only scored 2 points in the final two quarters.

Shoutout to the refs who didn’t call a flagrant foul on Brendan Haywood. He clearly smashed Pau Gasol in the face late in the game.

THE UGLY
Well… we already know if you watched the game. Freethrows. 18 for 31 overall. That was because they shot 8 for 17 in the 4th. They missed six freethrows in a row with less than a minute to go. That would drive anyone nuts. The game would’ve been over earlier had they made, at least, two of those.

I sure hope Kobe is shooting foul shots (5 for 9) at the American Airlines Center right now. And I hope he took Pau (2 for 6) with him.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
Kobe to Andrew Bynum for the alley-oop dunk with 1:05 left in the game. That put the Lakers up seven (that should’ve put away the game… but ya know… freethrows) which made it a higher mountain for the Mavericks to climb. The play before that was pretty good, too, where Kobe passed it to Pau for a lay-up. Oh, Kobe. Two passes in a critical juncture after you tried to get your points? You’re such a troll. Anyway, the Lakers are now 2-0 against Dallas this season. It’s not the playoffs, sure, but I’m sure the Lakers and us fans can take a little satisfaction out of this.

The Lakers have now won 5 out of 6. They look more comfortable and settled in their roles. And even though the ending was a little bizarre, this is a BIG ROAD WIN by the Lakers. Yes, the Lakers laid an egg against the Suns at Phoenix but I’m going to look at that as an aberration compared to how they’ve been playing as of late.

No rest for the weary. The Lakers go to Oklahoma City tomorrow night for another big game. Both teams are going to be at the tail end of a back-to-back (the Thunder beat the Celtics earlier) so they’re both going to be pretty fatigued (although, yes, Oklahoma City has younger players). If the Lakers win against the Thunder, maybe the whole league should take notice of Kobe and the boys once again, eh?

Don’t stop believin’!

Box Score: Lakers 87, Jazz 96
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 103.6, Jazz 114.3
True Shooting %: Lakers 53.3%, Jazz 52.5%

The Good:
For most of the first 3 quarters, Andrew Bynum looked dominant. Nobody from the Jazz seemed capable of stopping his offense. He finished with another monster game with 21 points, 12 boards, and 2 blocks. We can’t ignore Pau Gasol’s production also… and while he took a team-leading 20 shots, he did finish with an even better statline (24 points, 16 rebounds, 2 blocks). He noticeably shortarmed a lot of his shots (including his freethrows) but, nevertheless, he had a good game, overall.

It was nice to see the Lakers’ Big 3 all get over 20 points. They also got to the line quite a bit (30 freethrow attempts by the Lakers compared to 20). They kept the game close for the first three quarters (biggest lead during that time frame was 6 by the Lakers). But the game is played with four quarters (insert very played-out LeBron James joke here).

The Bad:
Lakers shot 38.7%. Bad.

The Lakers lost their composure. We can all look at Mike Brown getting ejected after that play where Earl Watson pickpocketed Pau Gasol from behind (which looked more like a tackle). It got the Energy Solutions Arena crowd into it and the Lakers succumbed to a 16-1 Jazz run spearheaded by Watson himself (who had 8 points and 11 assists overall). The Lakers couldn’t execute in the fourth (heck, in the second half) like they did in the first half… and they couldn’t make a shot to save their lives.

While the Lakers did play well enough to keep the game close in those three quarters, Kobe Bryant looked like he was doing more bad than good during that time frame. He worked way too hard trying to get up a shot early and had two careless fouls in the third quarter. His aggressiveness seemed to work against him rather than for him. But it didn’t seem like much of a factor at the time as the game was close.

Late offensive boards killed any sign of a Laker comeback in the waning seconds. The Jazz beat up the Lakers on the boards, 50-42. And well… the Jazz, despite the Lakers’ big men getting big numbers, beat up the Lakers inside. Al Jefferson had 18 points and 13 boards while Paul Millsap had 16 and 13 to keep up with Bynum and Gasol.

Andrew Goudelock, who has been pretty good over the last few games, finished 1 for 5 (4 points). His misses were not pretty. And, by the way, can we stop with the Mini-Mamba nickname? Please? It’s horrendous.

Also, the Lakers only had 12 dimes (Jazz had 25). So much for ball movement.

Oh, yes. I know I haven’t mentioned that they got in late (4 A.M.). But it really shouldn’t be an excuse.

The Ugly:
As mentioned, Earl Watson led the Jazz to a 16-1 run early in the 4th. The Lakers didn’t make a field goal until 5:56 left when Kobe made the first of back-to-back 3-pointers.

We were thinking in the past few games that the bench may be all right since Goudelock has been carrying the load. With Goudelock not producing, the Laker bench only scored 12 points. It looks way worse when the Jazz bench scored a whopping 49 points. So as mentioned by fellow writer Zephid… if Goudelock goes, so do the Lakers? Pass me the alc… apple juice.

The Play Of The Game:
Bynum had the pass of his life when, after he hustled to get the ball after a Derek Fisher miss, he threw a no-look, over-the-shoulder pass underneath to Pau Gasol for the dunk. It was really pretty and it was nice to see the All-Star starter (YES! ALL-STAR STARTER!) make that kind of play.

Lakers go to Philadelphia next to continue on their six-game road trip. But the Lakers… well, they’re so Jekyll and Hyde. One game, they look like a pretty awesome squad. The next, they’ll lay an egg. I wonder which team we’re going to get against the Sixers.

At least, they won against Denver?

Box Score: Lakers 80, Magic 92
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 94.1, Magic 108.2
True Shooting %: Lakers 49.5%, Magic 55.6%

The Good:
Kobe Bryant had an efficient 30 points and 8 assists.

They showed some fight on some parts of the game. It was nice to see them play through Pau Gasol at the start of the third quarter (before going away from it again). The Lakers did turn up the defense better in the second half and I actually thought the Lakers had a chance to steal the game after they cut the lead down to eight. A quick-trigger technical foul on Kobe killed all that momentum.

The ball movement seemed a little better in this game than the contest against Miami. It’s just that the Lakers can’t throw a dime into the ocean and they end up building houses (BRICKING) inside Amway Center. They should go hide in those newly-built houses after the game. This performance was, overall, shameful.

The Bad:
I don’t even know where to start. I’m surprised that the Magic didn’t lead by 30 at one point.

Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol didn’t make any field goals in the first half. And while we touted the Bynum/Howard match-up, Dwight Howard thoroughly outplayed the Lakers center tonight (Howard had 21 points and 23 boards while Drew ended with a deceiving 10 points and 12 rebounds). It didn’t help that Bynum was in foul trouble the whole game. As for Gasol, he settled for too many jumpers once again. This has become a disturbing trend as we know how wonderful Pau is on the post. Like most of the Lakers, he looks completely lost in this new system. As for the rest of the Lakers, the bench continues its bad production. They only scored 12 points (and they are dead last at 19.9 points per game coming into Orlando). And I know I’m not the only one clamoring for this but it’d be very nice to get Steve Blake back soon. Also, the Lakers are missing Lamar Odom more and more everyday. But let’s deal with the cards the Lakers currently have.

Coming into the game, the Lakers were third in rebounding (45.1) while the Magic were 13th (42.7). Howard led the charge with 23 rebounds and helped outrebound the Lakers to the tune of 51-42. Once again, the Lakers got killed on the offensive glass (15-8).

It also looked like that the Lakers were tired after they got smashed by the Heat the night before. Mike Brown chose to play the starters through the end of that Miami game even though the result was already academic. Yes, we all know that Phil Jackson used to do that at times… but this one basically came back to bite the Lakers the following night.

Can’t forget that the Magic made 12 treys. The Lakers are the worst 3-point shooting team in the league and while they made six, they still got outscored by 18 behind the arc.

The Ugly:
We’d better get used to this. The Laker offense is terrible (only scored 100 or over once this season). Today was no exception… and the first quarter was ESPECIALLY ugly. They shot 4 for 21 (19 percent) in the opening quarter and only scored 10 points. The Lakers also went 7 minutes and 36 seconds of game time without a field goal before a Troy Murphy 3 stopped the bleeding. The Lakers would finish the first half at 11/38 (29 percent) and would end the game at a “somewhat respectable” 38 percent.

And good grief, I expected SOME jumpers to fall in for the Lakers but it seemed like they couldn’t make anything. I swore that every time the Lakers clanked an outside J, a brick would smash through my window every time.

I feel like at some point, Kobe is going to yell about shipping his teammates out. This is not getting any easier for him and the Lakers.

The Play Of The Game:
I have to pick one?

How about that difficult driving banker by Kobe early in the second quarter. It’s quite amazing he made that over three Magic defenders. But Laker fans would be hard-pressed to cheer for SOMETHING in this Laker game. Hopefully, it’s something completely different at Staples Center when they face the Pacers on Sunday night. At least, the Lakers are a tidy 9-1 at Staples.

Box Score: Lakers 94, Clippers 102
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 109.3, Clippers 118.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 57.0%, Clippers 55.7%

The Good:
I suppose people will point to Kobe Bryant dropping another 40+ game. After all, he pretty much kept the Lakers within striking distance in a game that was basically controlled by the Clippers for the most part. He finished with 42 points and shot 14 for 28 so it was still efficient despite the crazy perimeter shots he took. Kobe had a monster 3rd quarter where he scored 21 points and helped cut the lead down to 74-72 near the end of the stanza.

I’m going to point out Andrew Bynum’s disappearing act on the offensive end later but it was nice to see him continue being aggressive on the boards. He ended up with 16 so, at least, Drew is doing other things that don’t involve scoring.

Despite the sloppiness seen throughout the game, the Lakers only turned the ball over nine times (a nice drop from 17 against Cleveland). And they did show some energy in the 3rd quarter when the game got chippy. It was good to see the Lakers show that kind of moxie (even if it is for one quarter) even though they were playing their fourth game in five nights.

I’ll commend the Lakers for keeping the Clippers’ shooting percentage at 41.2 percent (they were mostly held under 40 percent throughout the game) but maybe it’s a product of the Clippers not really playing as smart and the Clippers missing shots that they should be making.

And, hey, the Lakers bench outscored the Clippers bench, 13-11! That’s good, right? Hello?

I suppose it’s fatigue but while we know that the Lakers are going to have trouble going against athletic squads like the Clippers, you wonder what would happen if they had enough energy the entire game. Nevertheless, they weren’t good enough to keep that winning streak going. Their run stops at 5 games.

The Bad:
On the surface, it looked like Pau Gasol (14 points and 10 boards) and Bynum (12 points and 16 boards) had good games. But they seemed so invisible in the second half (with Bynum last scoring with 6:20 left in the third and Pau last scoring with 10:44 left in the game). It really goes both ways. Yes, we know Kobe goes into this mode where he’s unconscious and just wants to score. But, hey, the bigs gotta demand the ball, too. I’m not saying give them more shots but give them more touches in the post (not shoot jumpers, Pau) to set up better shots for any Laker. Go inside-out. I mentioned yesterday that basketball can be a very simple game to play but sometimes, I wonder why they want to make it as hard as brain surgery.

How about the boardwork? The Lakers were crushed in the rebound department early on. They were able to whittle it down to a final of 50-42 boards in favor of the Clippers but the Clippers are the worst rebounding team in the league (with the Lakers being second best). Besides the fatigue, that seems inexplicable to me. Our favorite ball-grabber from the Clippers, Reggie Evans, had eight off the bench (six on the offensive end). For a guy that played only 17 minutes, he seemed to make more of an impact than Gasol and Bynum.

I’d like to see more inside-out play from the Lakers. I did notice Bynum’s face; he seemed a little upset about not getting touches. Maybe he should be more vocal about it. More communication, please.

Overall, the Lakers looked very lethargic on both sides out there. Sure, blame it on the fatigue and their heavy schedule and all teams are going to have a dud or two or twenty per season. The day off will do them well before they have to go against Dallas on Martin Luther King day.

As far as time off goes, it may get easier for the Lakers. They have played 14 games so far (tied with the Bulls for most games played in the league).

The Ugly:
It’s ugly on the Lakers side as Chris Paul dissected the Lakers all game long with 33 points and 6 assists. Whoever guarded Paul never stood a chance and while I applaud Darius Morris for his efforts, efforts just aren’t good enough, sometimes.

The game, overall, was hard to watch despite the fanfare. Both teams shot less than 40 percent for the most part and even though they only had 9 turnovers each, it seemed like the Lakers had trouble passing it to the post, there were a lot of botched plays, and, all the while, the referees mostly let them play this ugly brand of basketball. It was Slop City at its finest (yeah, I couldn’t help but make a Lob City reference… kill me).

The Play Of The Game:
On a Laker fastbreak in the third quarter, Kobe passed it to Andrew Bynum down the lane where Bynum made a nice spin move into a dunk as Chauncey Billups held him. It was nice footwork and a pretty play by Bynum and I thought this was going to be something of a surge by Bynum.

It wasn’t. That was the last time he scored in the game.

Lakers play the Mavericks on Monday where I figure an irritated Bynum is going to take his frustrations out on Roddy Beaubois. Maybe. That or we can see Kobe try to gun for 40 for the fifth straight game. That would be kinda fun.