From NBA.com: While there’s plenty of video from Monday’s practice in this Practice Report (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum and Phil Jackson to your right), we also took a look at why the Spaniard is particularly devastating against Utah, what Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams had to say at Jazz practice and what Jordan Farmar was doing with a sixth grade photo of his class … starring young NBA player Derek Fisher.
From Land O’ Lakers: When last we saw Ron Artest, he was riffing in a playful but subtext-heavy way after being told Deron Williams felt he could “exploit” his speed while defended by #37. While clearly having fun with variations of the word “exploit,” it was also clear Artest had fast-forwarded in his mind to Tuesday’s possessions he’ll spend hounding the guy many feel is the league’s best point guard. Well, with 24 hours passed between game 1’s postgame interview and today’s practice, the topic didn’t get spark the same enthusiasm from the former Defensive Player of the Year.
From Kurt over at Pro Basketball Talk: Spring is here – humming birds are buzzing, flowers are blooming, birds are migrating to their summer homes, Andrew Bynum is injured. Every time Bynum makes a play right now, you can see him grimace a little. He will likely need off-season knee surgery to fix a tear in the lateral meniscus of his right knee. It hurts to run, jump, do basically all those things that you need to do to play basketball.
From the Los Angeles Times: Just another day at the Lakers’ training facility, with Kobe Bryant calling his much-discussed photo shoot “a little too artsy,” Andrew Bynum acknowledging he might indeed be injury-prone, and, oh yeah, some other players talking about the continuation of their playoff series against the Utah Jazz. It’s never boring in these parts, even during a seemingly one-sided playoff match-up that moves to Game 2 on Tuesday at Staples Center.
From the LA Daily News: The piercing pain shoots through Andrew Bynum’s right knee each time he pushes off the ground to grab a rebound or block a shot, a sort of jabbing sensation he feels whenever he exerts himself on the basketball court. It serves as a reminder of the inevitable knee surgery Bynum will undergo as soon as the Lakers season comes to a close, the one he is putting off as long as possible in order to assist the team in its quest to win a second consecutive NBA title.
From the LA Daily News: After back-to-back games with 30 or more points, is Kobe Bryant back? “I feel good,” he said Monday. “Very encouraged. Feel very healthy.” In fact, Bryant probably won’t be sound again until some point in the summer, after the Lakers end their season and he gets a good, long rest. It’s the only way injuries to his left ankle, right index finger and right knee will heal properly and completely.
From Yahoo! Sports: Andrew Bynum planted hard with both feet and rose for what usually would be an easy two-handed slam. But with his sore right knee throbbing, the Los Angeles Lakers’ 7-foot center felt like he had a “flat tire” as he barely lifted the basketball over the rim. As Bynum jogged down the floor gingerly, his knee covered by a bulky black brace, he looked like he was running in sand.
From the Press Enterprise: Andrew Bynum knows his right knee is going to bother him for the remainder of the playoffs. The Lakers know that will limit what Bynum can do. Bynum and the team, though, believe they can cope with this, in tonight’s Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal with Utah and beyond. “It’s not going to change,” Bynum said of the slight tear in the lateral meniscus. “It’s going to be painful. I’m ready to run through that and fix it later.”
From ESPN.com: Andrei Kirilenko has returned for his first full practice with the Utah Jazz since aggravating his strained left calf last month. The Russian forward worked out Monday. He gives himself a 50-50 chance of playing Tuesday night in Game 2 of Utah’s playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. Kirilenko hasn’t played a full game since getting hurt March 12, and he aggravated the injury April 15. If he sits out Tuesday, he’s almost certain he can return for Game 3 in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
From Ed The Sports Fan: Last Friday night, I had the opportunity to take the Shock the World Tour up to The Ford Center, to watch The Lakers-Thunder game. The Lakers ended up with the victory, which knocked the Thunder out of the playoffs, and in the midst of hearing 20,000 people stand and give their team an extended standing ovation, plus watching the youngsters huddle up for the final time, it made me proud to be a fan, and to see a fan base take pride in their team. If only they can stay together, add a piece or two, and get better, then they’ll be a force for years to come, and even contend for a championship.
From High Note Hoops: A lot went right for the Utah Jazz in the fourth quarter. A lot also went wrong. There’s plenty of finger-pointing going around. Here’s how it went down in the 4th quarter. 12:00 73-81 Lakers How the Jazz Got Back in the Game The Jazz entered the fourth down eight points with both teams’ reserves out there. Enter Ronnie Price and Paul Millsap who orchestrated an 8-1 run on short shots, layups, and hyperactivity-under-control from the Jazz backup point man who was grabbing boards and forcing turnovers.
From Both Teams Played Hard: In my Lakers/Thunder preview, I focused on how the long giants of the Lakers’ front line would beast the Jazz’s midget interior. (Respectively speaking here, obviously … 6?8/6?9? guys like Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap are fairly tall.) Well, that’s what we saw in Game 1, both on offense (Pau had 25 points on 15 shots) and, particularly, on defense. The Jazz had trouble simply even passing the ball past around the outstretched arms of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom (or even when one of those three was “short guy” Ron Artest). This, more than anything else, made the usually-surgical Jazz offense look mostly pedestrian
From DIME Mag: On the eve of the NBA playoffs, I listed 10 players I saw as the biggest X-factors to determine this year’s championship. On purpose, I didn’t include anybody from the Utah Jazz. Truth is, I didn’t think they had a realistic shot at the ‘chip. I was wrong. After knocking off the higher-seeded Nuggets in the first round and giving the Lakers all they could handle before losing down the stretch in yesterday’s Game 1 of the conference semifinals, the Jazz are as much a competitor as anybody else still alive in the postseason.
From the Los Angeles Times: You can look at cold, hard statistics to analyze the compelling, roller-coasterish fourth quarter between the Lakers and the Jazz in Game 1. But that wouldn’t be nearly as fun or as amusing. TNT’s NBA analyst Reggie Miller reached back into his youth and summoned a whimsical and pretty accurate visual from the playground or recreation room. “The Lakers seem to be playing the Jazz like the childhood toy the yo-yo,” he said. “Remember the trick with the yo-yo called ‘Walking the Dog’?