Neil Paine (with an assist from some guy named Darius), Basketball-Reference: With the additions of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes, the Lakers have filled their two biggest holes from last season (floor general for the 2nd unit and a back up SF) and combined them with a group that is still hungry for titles. And while there are the yearly concerns of an injured Bynum, the potential decline of Kobe, and whether or not the Lakers’ shooting will make defenses pay for crowding the paint, those concerns really are minor. Because at this point, the Lakers still have the length, versatility, depth, coaching, and moxie to play any style against any type of opponent.
From Lakers.com: Fresh off their trips to Europe and Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Lakers wasted no time in doing what they do best: giving back to the community! This time, the Lakers partnered with the American Heart Association’s “Teaching Garden” program to create a model garden for students at Figueroa Street Elementary School in South LA. This event was a Lakers Team Up project, designed to encourage Los Angeles residents of all ages to volunteer in their community and engage in service projects and also tipped-off the 2010 NBA Cares Week of Service. Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter, Trey Johnson and Drew Naymick, and the Laker Girls all participated in a school assembly designed to teach the Figueroa Street Elementary students the value of good eating habits and the importance of physical activity. The Laker Girls got things started by teaching everyone a special dance that got all the students up and moving.
From Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post: LeBron James sneezed Monday. It wasn’t one of those intense air punctures that could wake a hibernating bear, but more of a kazoolike achoo. He received a “God bless you” three times and a “gesundheit” once. Sources close to James said the sneeze was because of allergies. Yes, America’s appetite for all things Miami Heat is insatiable. LeBron James! Dwyane Wade! Chris Bosh! How can they lose? Everything these guys do seems to be news, and the NBA season hasn’t even started. ESPN assigned its own reporting team to cover each and every sneeze from Heatville. And Las Vegas odds say the Heat, not the Lakers, is favored to win the NBA title. “People talk about what’s hot at the moment,” Nuggets all-star forward Carmelo Anthony said. “Miami is hot at the moment.” How soon folks forget that four months ago the Lakers won their second consecutive championship.
From Jeff Miller, OC Register: The Lakers have the superior size, but the Heat has the more formidable inside game. Not inside as in down low, but inside as in low down. Here’s the skinny you need to know on the fattened-up Heat: This is a team that will operate all season with the most primal, most potent of motivation. And the drive has nothing to do with proving the LeBron James critics wrong. No, what really will be pushing the Heat – and should be of most concern to the Lakers – is the collective desire of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to prove themselves right. The difference in semantics is minor; the difference in meaning is not.
From John P. Martin, The Philadelphia Inquirer: For years, Philadelphia has struggled with its feelings about native son Kobe Bryant. Awed by his skills, fans here have also disowned him, even booed him. For sporting a Dodgers hat at a Phillies playoff game. For vowing to “cut their hearts out” when his Los Angeles Lakers beat the 76ers for the NBA crown in 2001. For acting like the superstar celebrity he is. Over at Lower Merion High School, they know another Kobe. The alumnus who visits regularly, who chats with students and athletes, and who quietly donates his time and money. On Monday, the Lower Merion School District cheered that superstar by agreeing to name Lower Merion High’s new gymnasium after arguably its most famous graduate. The decision follows Bryant’s latest donation – $411,000, the largest gift in district history.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Steve Blake mixed it up earlier this calendar year in his pre-Lakers days with big men such as Dwight Howard and Andrew Bogut, so you know he’ll stand up for himself even when he doesn’t stand as tall. Blake’s reputation for feistiness was evident Tuesday night with an altercation in the second quarter with Utah Jazz 7-footer Francisco Elson. Blake smiled about it after the Lakers’ 82-74 exhibition loss Tuesday night at Honda Center, saying: “For some reason I always get into it with the big guys. … It gets me going.” Blake was fortunate he didn’t draw a technical or flagrant foul for initiating the extracurricular activity with a blow to Elson from behind. There was no whistle before that when Elson was giving it to Blake on a defensive switch as Blake tried to hold him off the offensive glass. “I liked it,” Kobe Bryant said afterward. “It was good.”
From Mark Medina, LA Times: The bench looked promising: Jackson could point to that as the only positive aspect, with Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake cracking double digits. Two plays epitomized Lamar Odom’s court awareness that resulted in nine assists, thanks to quality play in the post. As Odom drove the break, he saw Barnes on the wing and fed him a pass for the easy layup. On the next play, when Odom met a double team from Jeremy Evans and Gordon Hayward, Odom kicked the ball out to Brown for the open jumper. There were some nice plays from the starters, including Gasol’s behind-the-back pass to Barnes, Bryant’s connection to Gasol as he cut through the lane and Artest of all people directing Barnes and Brown with the triangle. But those were all isolated sequences.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Lamar Odom in the paint — Among the reasons Odom was less effective last season than he was during the ’08-’09 campaign was a fairly steep increase in the number of perimeter shots, and a corresponding drop in attempts from around the rim. During the offseason, we spent a lot of time speculating as to how Odom’s time with Team USA at the World Championships could impact his leadership skills, but may have missed the larger picture. He spent the entire tournament playing the five, planting him in the paint with regularity. Tonight, we saw how effective he can be in the offense from down there. In the first quarter, Odom assisted on three buckets, two of which came off passes out of double-teams down low. Later, he’d drive the lane from the perimeter, drawing the D and creating another open jumper. The common denominator: Odom was near, or moving toward, the basket. The more time he spends in or heading into the paint this season, the better. Overall, he finished with nine assists and nine rebounds, showing how he can make an impact even if only scoring two points.