I’ve compiled a hodgepodge of links gathered from the Lakers’ off day.
On Home Court Advantage
From Los Angeles Times: The Lakers finished with the best record in the Western Conference last season and secured home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs. That paid dividends after the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had the best record in the NBA last season, were upset by the Orlando Magic, allowing the Lakers to get the home-court edge in the NBA Finals because they had the second-best record in the NBA. The Lakers are basically in the same spot as last season, holding the best record in the West at 50-18, second behind 54-15 Cleveland. Because the Lakers were tested in the West playoffs last season, Kobe Bryant was asked if it’s a big deal for them to have the top seeding in their conference.
From The Orange County Register: We all take a lot of our days for granted. Andrew Bynum, who has been a big-time force for the Lakers during this four-game winning streak, says he’s not going to do that anymore, and that’s the thrust of my latest column. Do you believe him? Phil Jackson hasn’t always been Bynum’s biggest fan publicly, but this season Jackson has largely supported and excused Bynum despite not meeting the coach’s expectations. Now, Jackson is on board with Bynum’s enthusiasm and production. “We’ve found a better idea what and how to use Drew inside,” Jackson said. “He’s got a resurgence after he hurt his hip. He had a bad knee bruise. He had a couple things physically that kept him from having the power that he likes to have in the post. (Tuesday night) was an exhibition by him and Pau (Gasol) that showed the strength of our team.” Many skeptics are waiting for Bynum to undermine the team by suffering another injury. But Bynum’s optimism about the Lakers being on the upswing is obvious.
From NBA.com: The matter was settled in clipped, definite terms Tuesday night at 5:40 p.m. in a corner of the visitor’s cubby-hole locker room inside Arco Arena. The Lakers will have home-court advantage through at least the West portion of the playoffs. The Lakers will not lose that No. 1 spot in the conference standings. Lamar Odom said so. “That’s not going to happen,” he insisted. Say again. “That’s not going to happen,” the reserve forward repeated. You’re sure? “Positive.” How can you be so sure? “Because I know my team,” Odom said. “It’s not acceptable.” But, Denver. Dallas. “Of course they’re serious threats. Every team’s a serious threat. You can lose any game you play. But us losing that spot’s not going to happen.”
From SI.Com: FAST FACTS Josh Smith (page 40), the only NBA player with both 100 blocks and 100 steals this year, did not receive a single vote…. Phil Jackson, the coach of Artest and Bryant, has coached four NBA All-Defensive first-teamers during his 19-year career…. Only three true centers received any votes, the least of any position by far: Howard, the Pistons’ Ben Wallace (2%) and the Celtics’ Kendrick Perkins (1%).
From the Sacramento Bee: We miss Ron Artest. We do. It isn’t often these days that a prime-time scorer visits Arco Arena and leaves with bruises tattooed to his assorted body parts. Artest has that effect on people. Chicago. Indiana. Sacramento. Houston. Now L.A. When he remembers who he is, what makes him so unique, and why the above-mentioned teams paid him handsomely and put up with his antics – at least for a while – he ranks among the game’s great defenders. But then he forgets. He becomes conflicted. He gets distracted. He starts thinking about a potential music career, his overseas charities, and closer to home, his quest to be regarded as the equal of Kobe Bryant. “You know me,” Artest said before the Lakers sprinted past the Kings on Tuesday. “I like to be involved in everything. With the Lakers, it’s a little bit different. We’re in first place, so things are OK, not great. I’m used to being the No. 1 option. I’m still trying to learn the (triangle) offense, and that can be confusing because the ball makes the decisions for you. But I’m adjusting.”
From Pro Basketball Talk: The scales must be balanced. If not for the sake of justice and Karma, then at least because I’ll be at the Lakers game and talking to Ron Artest this weekend, and I don’t want him angry at me. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. Earlier today as part of our seemingly daily bit of Tyreke Evans love, we showed you his amazing spin move where Evans just abused Ron Artest. What we didn’t show you is that for the game, Artest did more than just hold his own. The fantastic site NBA Playbook broke it all down, complete with video.
Watching the game with Craig Hodges
From ESPN.Com: Lakers shooting coach Craig Hodges is dressed just as he does before any Lakers home game. Black Lakers-logoed shirt covering his slim torso. Black mesh shorts over legs still sculpted enough to carry his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame up and down the court for a game with ease, even though he turns 50 in June. White NBA-logoed socks on his feet. Only he’s not wearing any sneakers. And he’s home. As in home home, at his apartment in Long Beach, getting ready to watch the Lakers road game against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. Hodges, who played for Lakers special assistant coach Tex Winter in college at Long Beach State and for head coach Phil Jackson when they were first together back in Chicago, is in his fifth season assisting the team, providing the shooting expertise that led to a three-peat of 3-point contest titles for him at NBA All-Star Weekend in the early ’90s.
Q&A about Courtship of Rivals
From Off The Dribble: When Magic Johnson approached HBO Sports around 18 months ago about making a documentary about his relationship with Larry Bird, it took them “two seconds” to get on board, said Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports. “Magic & Bird: a Courtship of Rivals” follows the intense rivalry that began with the N.C.A.A. championship game in 1979, when Johnson’s Michigan State team defeated Bird and Indiana State, 75-64. “I knew it was gonna haunt him forever because we were gonna see each other a lot,” Johnson said in the film. The pair then led the Lakers and the Celtics to a combined eight titles, three of which were head-to-head, with Johnson and the Lakers winning two. They also have three most valuable player awards apiece.
On Pau Gasol
From Silver Screen and Roll:
The Lakers followed their 3 game road losing streak with a 3 game road winning streak, and a very important feature of this lovely little 3 game jaunt around the Pacific Division has been the re-emergence of Pau Gasol’s game. Check out the Spaniard’s last three box scores; it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Over the last three, Gasol is averaging 23 pts, a shade under 10 rebs, 2 blocks, and just 1 turnover per game. Oh, and he’s shooting 76% FROM FIELD!! The only thing Pau has not done well in the past three is make free throws. This is the Pau Gasol that had a few experts pegging him as 1st team All NBA last year, and possibly the best pivot player in the league. This is the Gasol that might be considered the most talented 7 footer in the game. He’s been gone for a while, and I guess there’s no guarantee he’s back to stay. But this is the Pau Gasol that we all fell in love with (strictly in a basketball sense, I swear), and this is the Gasol that’s earned the right to say whatever he wants.
On Sasha Vujacic
From The Los Angeles Times: Each game Sasha Vujacic plays, it is a step in the right direction for him. After missing eight games with a sprained right shoulder, Vujacic has played in four consecutive games, the one against the Sacramento Kings Tuesday night at Arco Arena being his best. He had six points on three-for-four shooting. “I said at the beginning, when I decided that I was going to play, I’m going to play,” Vujacic said. “There’s no more holding back.” Lately, Vujacic has played at the expense of Jordan Farmar.
that picture is hella funny. It’s Kobe’s mannerisms wearing off on everybody.
I don’t know what is going through Sasha’s mind when he shoots (nor does anyone except for him and whoever he’s told) but it just seems he has a more confident, quicker and pure shot inside the arch. Maybe he was just bound to miss his 4th shot in Sac. but I noticed he hesitated on his gather when he got ready to shoot.
I don’t mind at all if he feels more comfortable shooting 20-22 footers opposed to 3 pointers as long as he is more efficient there. Now, if he is consistantly making long 2’s with his foot on the line then that would be a different story.
As for my opinion on point guard starters (as of March and early april) the list and reasons go as so:
1) Sasha; He plays within the offense (when he is not in I’m a shooter so I’ll shoot mode) and he is pesky on defense. Also, this would be a great way to warm him up without jeopardizing games (that’s why we hide derek with the starters).
2) Derek; Keep things status quo (it is march, we shouldn’t shake things up too much.) Additionally, this will hide Derek with 4 A.S candidates.
3)Jordan: He has the most raw talent in this position but still fails to play within the offense and is notably inconsistant. Further more, on any given night he is the spark off the bench that seals the deal for an early clinch for a win. If he could do that more consistantly, that would be way more valuable than having him as a descent starter on a team he would be last scoring option in the lineup.
Last and yes, least 4) Shanwow; He has had problems handling the ball lately and has just as big of a problem playing within the offense as Jordan. What really set’s him apart to put him in last is the fact that he is vital as our worthy backup for both PG and SG. Our team has had a lot of problems with our wing players this season and luckily Shannon has been there to make it not so painful all season long. So, keeping him on the bench to be called on when we need him in desperate times is the best thing we could do right now.
5) Lamar Odom; would be #1 on most teams but not ours!
some laker nostalgia art:
One game done, and my bracket is already busted. Thanks Notre Dame, thanks a lot.
3, haha I switched to ODU at the last second on a whim