From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: It’s not easy to do your best work when you’re emotionally wrought. In most endeavors, sound execution depends on a clear head, steady nerves and just generally having your wits about you. Giddiness and elation can be the enemies of a job well done. As we saw tonight at Staples Center, such are the hazards of having to play a basketball game immediately following a goosebump-worthy ring ceremony. The evening began in stirring fashion, as the Lakers were awarded their mammoth new championship rings by David Stern and a new banner was unveiled in the arena rafters. It was a cool presentation. Each of the players said some kind words about one of their teammates, and Phil Jackson took a moment to salute the dearly departed Josh Powell, Adam Morrison and D.J. Mbenga. (Even the Laker massage therapist got a ring.) A nicer person than I would observe that it’s something fans of every team should get to experience once in their lifetimes. Me, I just want the Lakers to keep repeating it year after year until I’m dead.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Thanks, new guys! With just over three minutes left in the third, the Lakers found themselves in a bit of a pickle. Lamar Odom and Gasol were both on the bench with four fouls, and Ron Artest was soon to join them. They hadn’t scored for nearly four minutes until Steve Blake hit two clutch 3s at the end of the quarter keep the Lakers in it. In the fourth, Matt Barnes energized the crowd with some aggressive play, penetrating and breaking down Houston’s defense, opening up the floor for a Gasol putback. With 9:30 to play, Barnes snagged an Odom miss, then his own after an errant putback. Eventually he worked his way to the line, hitting the free throws that tied the game at 86. Oh, and there was the matter of that game-winner from Blake with 18.8 seconds left, as Bryant penetrated and found the newbie wide open on the right wing. Whether he was actually attempting to pass to Blake or Gasol is an open question, but either way… splash. Then he stuck with Aaron Brooks — he’s fast! — on Houston’s final play, disrupting the shot and sealing the win. They say first impressions are the most important, right? We spent most of last season and into this offseason pumping the virtues of bringing Blake to Los Angeles. Way to make us look smart, Steve!
From Jill Painter, LA Daily News: The Lakers hadn’t even held court for Tuesday’s championship ring ceremony or tipped off their season against the Houston Rockets when they received a bit of good news: The Miami Heat lost their season opener. The Big Three started with a big dud. Meanwhile, the champion Lakers, who sported smiles and tears with their new bling presented before the game, did what championship teams do. They won. The Lakers trailed by 15 points in the first half, but they played solid defense in the second half and used Shannon Brown’s hot shooting touch – 14 points in the fourth quarter – to edge Houston, 112-102. Brown, who usually has fans on their feet with his thunderous dunks, got a standing ovation for making five of six shots during that span and all four of his 3-point attempts. Kobe Bryant buried him in a hug during a timeout.
From ESPN Stats and Information: After trailing 62-51 at halftime, the Lakers kicked it up a notch in the second half to pull out a 112-110 win over the Rockets on Tuesday. It was the Lakers’ third straight season-opening win and their eighth win in their last nine games vs Houston. The Rockets have defeated L.A. just twice since their win over the Lakers on opening night of the 2007-08 season. The Lakers are now 41-22 all-time in season openers, and 14-4 when opening the regular season at home since moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. Tuesday’s win leaves Phil Jackson one win away from joining Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Pat Riley and Jerry Sloan as the only NBA coaches with at least 1,100 wins.
From J.A. Adande, ESPN: That other team, you know, the two-time champions, started the season as well, Tuesday night, with a low-key ring ceremony consisting of one teammate introducing the next, followed by a victory produced by some low-wattage players. The first step of the Lakers’ title defense, a 112-110 victory over the Rockets, belonged in part to Steve Blake, one of the less spectacular (albeit fully logical) signings of the summer. Blake hit back-to-back 3-pointers that pulled the Lakers from 11 points down to within five in the final minute of the third quarter. Then Blake delivered the two biggest moments of the game, hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining and deterring Aaron Brooks’ game-tying reverse layup attempt on the final play.
From Rahat Huq, Red94: For as much reason as there was to be excited after the first half, there was cause for the same frustration as the game dwindled. The Rockets came out scorching last night in their season opener, determined to spoil the Lakers’ parade. The team moved the ball quickly off the boards, imposing a frantic pace, and putting the champs on their heels and out of their comfort zone. Guards Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks (of Everybody Hates Chris fame) looked intent on thrusting themselves into the debate as league’s best offensive backcourt, unconsciously netting almost 20 apiece in the first two frames, and second year man Chase Budinger chipped in with his usual share of highlights, looking as smooth as ever. Houston took a double digit lead into the break and all was well in our world until, as it has far too often during the Yao Ming era, everything completely fell apart.
From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: The last time L.A. took the STAPLES Center floor in a game that counted, they came back from a 13-point second half deficit to beat the Boston Celtics and secure the franchise’s 16th NBA title. Fast forward to Ring Night on Tuesday in a game that meant next to nothing in comparison yet retained some tangible energy, as the Lakers fell behind by as many as 15 points in the second half before rallying to secure a 112-110 victory over the Houston Rockets. Pau Gasol led all scorers with 29 points and 11 rebounds and Kobe Bryant added 27 points and seven assists, while reserves Steve Blake and Shannon Brown erupted to nail a combined 7-of-7 combined three-pointers in the second half to turn the game on its head.
From Mike Truddell, Basket Blog: Eighteen years ago, two 12-year-old kids from Queens, New York, met for the first time, paired on the same basketball team due to their already-advanced talents. Back then, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest could only dream to one day, somehow, be standing side by side as NBA Champions. But that, of course, is exactly what happened on Tuesday evening at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. Among the most poignant moments during a pregame ring ceremony in which each of the nine returning Lakers from the 2010 championship team took turns introducing one another was when Odom gave Artest his ring.
From Johnny Luddenn, Yahoo! Sports: Be ready, Kobe Bryant old Steve Blake. His championship coronation nearly doused in defeat, Bryant walked out of the huddle late Tuesday and welcomed his new teammate to the Los Angeles Lakers with a simple, two-word order. A couple minutes later, Bryant rifled a pass behind him and into the waiting hands of Blake, positioned perfectly a step behind the 3-point line. Blake elevated and coolly buried the shot. With less than 19 seconds left, it was the difference in the Lakers’ 112-110 victory over the Houston Rockets. On a night he toasted his fifth championship and began his hunt for a sixth, Kobe put his fortune in the hands of a teammate with whom he’d never played a meaningful game. This was no ordinary assist, and Blake knew it. “It was big of him,” Blake said, smiling, “to trust someone new on the court.”
From Kenny Masenda, Ed The Sports Fan: With the season starting up again, a majority of the folks I know cannot be more excited to see what’s in store. Some are waiting to see the new-look Heat, while others are eagerly anticipating the Lakers’ quest for a fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance and a three-peat. There are some people who want to see if the grumpy old men in Boston can get back to the Finals, and others want to see if Orlando has something to say about them getting there. There are others who are excited to see how the Thunder will do, how the Mavs will look, if the Clippers can make a run for the post-season, if John Wall can bring some excitement to Chocolate City, and even more.
Adande is with Espn. It says LA Times, which is where he worked before joining the mothership.
Looks like y’all had a good time with the live chat… I just browsed it, and wanted to make sure no one missed what could be the Comment Of The Year before the first game even started:
True story: my four year old daughter just asked: why does that girl sound different?
Referring to Sasha.
Darius Soriano says
#1. Thanks for the catch. I’ve gone in and fixed it.
Any chance that Brown found that old shooting regimen leaflet by Kobe lying around? The one that Ariza used over that summer.
Nice Ludden column. Blake won’t make that shot every time, but it’s good to have someone who’s ready to take it everytime and actually having good odds of it being successful.
I also liked that Fisher was cheering like mad while the guy fighting him for minutes made a good argument to be on the floor in crunch time. That’s the spirit the whole team will hopefully have this year.
Isn’t it interesting when the Lakers make a signing or acquisition and everyone kind of collectively says, “Wow…that makes a ton of sense!” and then it turns out to, indeed, MAKE A TON OF SENSE!
HELLO STEVE BLAKE!
I got the same feeling (obviously, to a greater degree) when the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol.
Steve Blake just made sense.
And the truth of the matter is, it’s not just the back to back three pointers in the 3rd quarter that changed an 11 point deficit to a 5 point deficit (and changed the momentum of the game) or the game winning three pointer (CLUTCH)…it’s all the little things Blake did during the course of the game that Farmar never understood, or had the inclination to understand:
1). Making proper entry passes that put Pau Gasol in good position to score.
2). Running a proper two-man, screen/roll set with Pau.
3). Getting the ball to the hot hand! (such a simple concept – but did you see Blake feeding Shannon when he got hot? Any doubt on that fast break in the 4th Farmar would have taken it to the cup himself, rather than feeding a red-hot Shannon Brown?)
4). Turning down the semi-open three pointer (that’s out of rhythm), that the D is baiting you to take, resetting the offense, and working the ball around to get a better shot.
5). Getting into the lane and making a proper kick-out pass.
6). Getting the ball to cutters behind the defense to put them in proper attack position.
7). Simply staying in front of your man on defense, rather than gambling for the steal.
8). Rotating over to the three point shooter when the ball gets dumped inside, rather than diving down and going for the steal on the big (thus, giving up a wide-open three).
Couldn’t be more pleased with Blake.
Darius – you’re welcome! This is a great site and I can’t wait to soak up all the great commentary on here as the season progresses. Three peat baby!
after witnessing laker torchings by blazer and most recently a clipper team that employed blake, i was very, very happy to see his acquisition made in the off season.
the blakester had a bit of a tough pre-season, but if shanwow let’s blake do the ball handling, he’s gonna enjoy more occasions like last nite…i.e. he’ll be demonstrating his improved stroke instead of turning the ball over with an ill-fated try at a killer crossover on the wing or a bad angled pass……….
I know Blake is supposed to be w/ the second unit like Farmar was so that they’re more free to use their “PG skills” but damn Blake is good with the starters
-Makes it a priority to get the ball to Pau
-Already one of our most reliable 3 point shooters
-Played next to Roy, who is as similar to Kobe as any player in the league
-Showed excellent chemistry with Odom in pre-season
To sum it up, seems like he’s best used with the starters until Bynum comes back and Odom leads the bench again.
And besides, if Fish’s value to the team is in his leadership and mastery of the triangle wouldn’t we be best served applying those strengths to the second unit which is currently without the defacto leader in Odom, and rife with guys who are learning the triangle?
Of course, this all sounds good but we know deep down Fish has to play with the starters because like it or not he’s easily the most limited player on the roster and his weaknesses need to be covered up with as much talent as we can muster if we’re to use him at all.
I kept watching last night, in awe of how incredible the second team could potentially be (the biggest weakness last year) and how as a whole this may be the most talented and versatile team I have ever seen. It’s still early and there’s plenty to fix and work on but come playoff time as long as everyone is healthy I have zero doubts that the Lakers will be threepeating.
A few game notes
-Steve Blake is a breath of fresh air but I wont rehash on what everyone else has said. A+
-Shannon looks more at ease on offense and more certain on what to do with the ball. The sky is the limit with his athletic ability at his age. A+
-Theo Ratliff – a solid dependable defensive, effort, and rebounding guy. He was constantly swatting at rebounds and playing sound defense, which is all the Lakers need in a backup C. I liked DJ but he looked like he was lost out there everytime he played.
-Matt Barnes did the little things, and wreaked havoc on both sides of the floor, and he’ll only improve. You cant help but to like the way he plays.
-LO played incredible, not much more can be said, I think the FIBA experience will make him better and more consistent.
-Pau and Kobe – enough said.
Finally we all know the offense is far ahead of the defense this early in the season, but just imagine when this team needs to play defense like in game 6 & 7 of the Finals, when their backs are against the wall, imagine the potential they could have. True Greatness
Last night was the first time I have found myself in the fourth quarter saying there’s no need to put Kobe back in, the second unit has this.
Overall, great game and great things ahead for this historic season.
Caracter looked a bit timid out there with the starters, and not quite sure where or what he should be doing on the floor. Afterall, he is a rookie and must become acclimated to the NBA. He’ll improve with playing time. I like that Phil stuck him in there so early in the game, I think that’s a signal to all of them to stay ready because they don’t know when their number will be called.
Interesting, no Sasha!
I am officially a Steve Blake fan. Burgundy has already listed all the reasons why he’s a great addition to the roster.
On an unrelated note, I thought the ring ceremony before the game was very touching. We never really get to see the fact that these guys who have worked and played together, in some cases for years and years, are closed friends who really care about each other. Some of it showed after Ron’s game winning tip in game 5 against the Suns and in similar emotional moments, but seeing a celebration is not the same. It doesn’t hammer it in nearly as thoroughly as seeing Shannon Brown describe Fisher as El Presidente, hearing Lamar talk about Ron as practically being family and how his family is proud of him, or see Phil joke about how Luke Walton is like a son to him.
It’s always nice to see a different side of the players and the team, and in this case, it was a very appealing side. Remember back when everyone said Kobe was a horrible team mate and that the Lakers had no chemistry because of him? The team has come a long way, probably because he has… That Ludden column makes several good points.
I’m not normally a Bill Plaschke fan, but his two-page piece on the ring ceremony was an enjoyable read.
The bench mod is back? I think so… time will tell! 🙂
Darius Soriano says
With everyone talking about Blake, I offer some of what I saw in the new post that’s up.