From Silver Screen and Roll: First, a quick checklist of players NOT injured at some point in this season: Josh Powell. Adam Morrison. Derek Fisher. Get the point? The Lakers have been plagued by injuries all season long, from Pau’s hammies to Artest’s hangover to Kobe’s whole body. Whilst injuries cannot and must not be used as an excuse for substandard performance, it is nonetheless true that injuries have limited the Lakers for the majority of the season; and that the Lakers have literally not been able to play together as a team all season.
Practice report From Land O’ Lakers (with video): “We definitely got some work done today,” Derek Fisher said with a smile Thursday afternoon in El Segundo following a lengthy practice and film session for the Lakers. “Any complacency, or guys thinking that they were going to come into practice today and just kind of go through the motions, Phil [Jackson] and our coaches were sure to shake that out of us pretty quickly.”
From Momma There Goes That Man: For me, these are the things that separate Kobe and LeBron. Kobe is a better basketball player, LeBron is a more dominant basketball player. While you may want to start your franchise with an LBJ, it’s Kobe’s attention to detail and fundamental skill you want to teach the next generation of future hoopers. This post isn’t about which of those two is better than the other, but more about how Kobe’s game is amazing to watch if you want more than just no-look passes and dunks.
From High Note Hoops: You can’t click a blog nor open a paper article without seeing what to Utah Jazz fans has become the dirty, four-letter “L” word. The LA in “LA Lakers” now means strictly “Long, Athletic Lakers.” The Jazz’s undersized bigs, the effective ones at any rate, are badly out-matched by their opponents by nearly a foot. We got it. Thank you very much, but this is not news. The Lakers’ bigs have set up camp in the painted area, and don’t plan on breaking it any time soon. The 19 points and 12 rebounds a game that Carlos Boozer has managed to get in the series, with a mere three FTAs mind you, have been some the hardest-won 18 scores and 24 boards by anyone that I’ve seen. To jump the man for it is a joke.
From the Los Angeles Times: Remember that ancient era when the Utah Jazz could not only win a playoff game on the road against the Lakers, but were expected to do so? Yes, there was life before Staples Center, Lakers World Domination and the best-planned photo shoots gone awry. The last time the Jazz defeated the Lakers in Southern California in a playoff game was May 24, 1998 behind the efforts of the ageless Karl Malone and John Stockton. It happened to be the fourth game of a sweep in the Western Conference finals, coming at the Forum in Inglewood.
From the Los Angeles Times: If any of the Lakers came to practice Thursday expecting it to be easy or for Coach Phil Jackson to have a soft work schedule after taking Wednesday off to rest and nurse injuries, they quickly found out otherwise. If any of the Lakers figured just because they have a 2-0 lead over the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinal series and Friday is another day to prepare before Game 3 in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jackson put an end to that.
From the LA Daily News: Three Lakers are averaging 10 or more rebounds through the first two games of their second-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz, the first time that’s happened since the Portland Trail Blazers did it back in 1985. It explains why the Lakers have a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena, and since there’s zero chance the Jazz will grow a few inches, there’s every reason to believe the Lakers will continue their rebounding dominance.
From the LA Daily News: The Phoenix Suns celebrated Cinco de Mayo and protested Arizona’s new immigration law by wearing Los Suns on their jerseys during their victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of their second-round series Wednesday in Phoenix. The Spurs said they would have worn their Los Spurs jerseys, but they couldn’t get them to Arizona in time for the game. Which begs the question, would the Lakers wear their Los Lakers jerseys in solidarity with the Suns? Lamar Odom shared a few thoughts today.
Practice report from NBA.com (with video): After controlling Games 1 and 2 of their Second Round series against the Jazz at STAPLES Center, the Lakers began prepping for a trek to always difficult Energy Solutions Arena in Utah for Saturday’s Game 3. Derek Fisher mentioned that the team would like to cut its turnovers down and better limit Utah’s second chance points, but said that he’s been happy with the team’s defense.
All NBA Team from ESPN.com: Two-time league MVP LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and defensive player of the year Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic were unanimous selections to the All-NBA first team announced Thursday. Joining James and Howard on the team are Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat. James was named to the first team for the third straight season and fourth time overall, finishing second in the league in scoring (29.7 ppg) and averaging 8.6 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks.
From ESPN.com: Kobe Bryant was honored, Ron Artest was snubbed, but the fact two Lakers were thought worthy of inclusion on the NBA All-Defensive team only goes to show why Los Angeles has held opponents to 39.9 percent shooting from the field during the playoffs, the No. 1 mark in the league. Bryant was announced to the first team Wednesday, amassing 13 first-team votes and eight second-team votes from a panel consisting of the NBA’s 30 head coaches, earning his fifth-straight first-team appearance.
From Yahoo! Sports: Andrei Kirilenko is running out of patience and time to rehabilitate his left calf. After more than a month of waiting for his strained calf to heal, Kirilenko expects to be playing for the Utah Jazz when they host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday in the Western Conference playoffs. Already down 2-0 to the defending NBA champions, the short-handed Jazz can use even a limited version of Kirilenko. “We don’t have that kind of luxury to wait, especially right now,” Kirilenko said before the Jazz practiced Thursday. “I feel way better than I was like a week ago so I have to get back and start playing the game.”