From Kurt Over At Pro Basketball Talk: At one point in the first round, Kobe Bryant was showing all the leaping ability of Ron Artest. You could hardly tell them apart… well, except for the hair. And the build. And the fluidity of motion. Okay, so it wasn’t that bad. But it wasn’t good either. Oklahoma City was blanketing him with very good defenders like Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Durant — they deserve a lot of credit for making his life difficult. But Kobe was not his explosive self. He is the master of creating his own space then elevating for a jumper where he gets a good look. But the elevator was not going all the way to the top.
From Basket Blog: Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic told reporters prior to Tuesday’s Game 2 win over Utah that he’s ahead of schedule on the rehabilitation of his left ankle, though a timetable still does not exist for his return. “I ran today a little bit on the Alter G, and it’s going really well, actually,” he said. “Hopefully (I can return) very soon.” Vujacic is past the wait-for-the-swelling-to-go-down portion of his rehab, and on to strengthening the ankle and surrounding muscles.
From Hoops Vibe: Kobe Bryant is absolutely disgusted. I’m hearing the buzz. I am feeling the tremors. I smell fear. What’s going on? LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are making a lot of noise as a true contender through the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Video Game James won his 2nd MVP award and many people are counting out the Celtics against the Cavs. Something in the background is occurring behind the curtain that is most troubling. Try to strike up conversations with any Laker fan when you go about the day at the office. Go ahead. Try it. They’re not hard to spot.
From Lakers Nation: A recent article on Hoops Vibe declares that Lakers fans are afraid of playing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, but when this was made public, Lakers Nation vehemently denied such egregious accusations. However, this does not necessarily mean that Lakers fans as a whole are cowards. In fact, admitting fear and worry when facing a potential match-up is completely normal, and even though none of you may want to admit it, you’re all a little worried about the prospect of losing to LeBron and the Cavs.
From Ball Don’t Lie: I’m never quite sure what to think about the NBA’s All-Defensive teams. On one hand, it’s good to award guys like Bruce Bowen and Mookie Blaylock for their specialty since they wouldn’t be otherwise. But on the other hand, a lot of times players will keep turning up on the teams year after year, based solely on past achievements.
From Free Darko: Read this first. It’s all about structural change and Los Suns and brings you up-to-date on me on this. However, sometimes, you write a line that’s embarrassing, and then your friend writes something more thoughtful about it, and then you have to correct for the heat of the moment. “Fuck Phil Jackson” should have been “Phil Jackson is being cranky, dismissive, rude, and very predictably Boomer-ish.” Eric Freeman had another stance: Phil is a hypocrite, since those books he gives everyone couldn’t just be taken as lessons in basketball.
From the Los Angeles Times: As the man who jumped off the 20-story building was heard to note as he passed each floor: “So far, so good.” By now, Lakerdom should be aware anything is possible this postseason, from a sublime second title in a row to a sudden disappearance at the hands of some former punching bag.
From the Los Angeles Times: Andrew Bynum was hurt; Lamar Odom was, too. Then Game 2 happened against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, and the Lakers’ recent worries about injuries in their frontcourt turned into hope for the near future. All Bynum did was score 17 points on seven-for-nine shooting, with 14 rebounds and four blocked shots against the Jazz after he lumbered around the court two days earlier because of torn cartilage in his right knee.
From the LA Daily News: If he decides to coach again next season, and if he receives his doctor’s blessing and if he can agree to a new contract, then Phil Jackson said Tuesday night there was a “90 percent chance that if I’m coaching it would be here” with the Lakers. Jackson has been nothing if not straightforward about whether he would return to the Lakers after his contract runs out at season’s end. He said the team’s playoff success and his health would be significant factors.
From the LA Daily News: Kobe Bryant was back to his old defiant self Tuesday night. He refused to yield an inch to the Utah Jazz, who pressured him from all sides, and then bantered with reporters, who quizzed him from all angles after the Lakers’ victory in Game 2. Bryant scored 22 of his team-leading 30 points in the second half, helping to give the Lakers a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal playoff series. He made 6 of 11 shots and 10 of 11 free throws after halftime.
From The Sports Guy Column: If I went back in time and told 1984 Billy Simmons, “Twenty-six years from now, you will attend a home Lakers playoff game and enjoy it,” 1984 Me would have punched 2010 Me in the face. Check that — 1984 Me would have screamed, “No!!!!! No!!!!!!!!!!! I AM GOING TO LOSE MY SOUL!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!” And probably started running.
From Land O’ Lakers: Heading into Game 2, one of the presumed story lines was another mano y’ mano between Ron Artest and Jazz point guard Deron Williams. Phil Jackson put his defensive specialist on Utah’s All-Star for large chunks of Game 1 and hinted we’d see more of this look throughout the series. D. Will mentioned a speed advantage he deemed exploitable, an opinion clearly upping Artest’s dander. However, the joke was on us, as Tuesday’s 111-103 Game 2 victory featured mostly Derek Fisher checking his former protege. At least for those 48 minutes, a sequel got the kibosh.
From Fox Sports: They’re pretty accustomed to celebrities sitting courtside in L.A., which only makes sense, seeing as how they more or less invented the concept here. But in the moments before Game 2 of the Lakers’ Western Conference semifinal series against the Utah Jazz, there was one fan down in the expensive seats actually creating a little buzz. Soon-to-be free agent Chris Bosh was sitting on the floor, doing little to discourage rumors that he could be joining the home team in the offseason via a sign-and-trade deal.