From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: The Los Angeles Lakers’ commanding 5-0 start to the season has even the most guarded fan bouncing numbers around his head like John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind.” The New York Knicks’ NBA record 18-game winning streak to start the 1969-70 season? It’s on the table. The 33 in a row by the ’71-72 Lakers? Sure, why not? The best single-season record of 72-10 by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls? Hey, Phil Jackson already did it once … After the Lakers dismantled their latest victim in Sacramento on Wednesday, Lamar Odom sounded down-right Jeff Van Gundian when talking about what the Lakers are striving for this year.
From Scott Howard Cooper, NBA.com: On an early November night that shouldn’t have meant anything real to the Lakers, just another win in the young season inside crackling Arco Arena, Wednesday meant something. Kobe Bryant bleeping proved it. Everyone felt it. Phil Jackson said it. Bryant registered a 30-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound triple-double and played 36 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back during the 112-100 victory over the Kings, which would have been noteworthy enough for a 32 year old coming off knee surgery and expecting to ramp into the season. But then Jackson, hardly the type to heap false praise, said the Bryant recovery is ahead of schedule and that the point man in the three-peat bid is playing better than his coach had expected, and that was the real perspective.
From Billy Witz, Fox Sports: When the Lakers were last seen in June, they won the type of game – three yards and a cloud of sawdust – that few thought they had in them against the Celtics in Game 7. It has not become a habit. The Lakers’ offense in the first two weeks of the season has been a thing to behold: crisp ball movement, precision cuts and jump shots that would bring a nod of approval from Jimmy Chitwood. When the starters are on the floor, it has mostly been unstoppable. When the reserves are mixed in, it has been nearly so. Consider this: The Lakers lead the NBA in scoring (113.8), 3-point shooting (46.8 percent) and entering Thursday’s games had collected more offensive rebounds than any other team.
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Courtesy of Dave “McTen” McMenamin, we learned Wednesday Andrew Bynum, upon his eventual return, will immediately join the starting lineup, a move that slides Pau Gasol back to power forward and Lamar Odom back to second unit kingpin. During yesterday’s chat, several readers asked how we felt Phil would handle this eventual scenario, given Gasol’s and LO’s chemistry and Odom’s through-the-roof production. Dude’s averaging 16.6/11.4/3.6, plus gaudy percentages from the field (70.8) and behind the arc (80). Throw in Lamar’s typically underrated defense and the success experienced with him as a triangular conduit, and it’s understandable fans and media alike have wondered if Jackson might opt to flip the presumed script.
From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: Obviously, the stakes were just a bit different between Derek Fisher’s key seven-point scoring streak from Wednesday’s early-season road win in Sacramento and his absolutely critical 11-point scoring stretch in Game 3 of the NBA Finals last June. But there were similarities worthy of comparison, born out of a combination of the defense overreacting to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and Fisher’s confidence/experience/moxy in key situations. Here’s the play-by-play from last night:
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: As you know, Ron Artest can be easily distracted, so he wound up being the last one into the shower after the Lakers’ victory Thursday night in Sacramento. Many teammates were already dressed and headed to the bus or talking to reporters when Artest hustled into the shower room before suddenly popping his head back out with a hopeful smile on his face. Artest yelled into the room: “Got any soap? Hey! Any soap?! Any soap?!” Without flinching or cracking a smile, Gasol showed his comfort level with Artest’s eccentricity – not even turning around to look at Artest, just saying in deadpan style as he finished answering a reporter’s question: “No soap. No soap.” And Gasol moved on to answer the next question.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: As I noted in my analysis regarding the Lakers’ 112-100 win Wednesday over Sacramento, there was an incredible twist in that Kobe Bryant’s 17th career triple-double coincided with him becoming the Lakers’ all-time leader in minutes played, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record. Lately, the commentary regarding Bryant’s high basketball mileage, with the odometer reading 37,527 total minutes, has led to concerns about fatigue and the rehabilitation of his surgically repaired right knee. But if the first five regular-season games have indicated anything, it’s that Bryant will continue to flourish as long as he stays healthy. The heavy playing time surely contributes to wear and tear on a body, but Bryant has shown he’s found a way to fight through it. Below are a few numbers regarding Bryant’s playing time:
Sam Amick, AOL Fanhouse: The collective group breezed through what amounts to six percent of its schedule, but only one game came against a 2010 playoff team. Even that game hardly qualified, as it came against a Phoenix team that lost Amar’e Stoudemire to New York over the summer and is hardly a title contender now. Still, there is clearly an early focus among this group, a business-like approach mixed with chemistry and cohesion that Jackson acknowledged has carried over from their championship run in June. Odom even talked of striving for perfection, a goal that ensures relative failure every time but also serves as a constant source of inspiration.
Lastly, I joined Sam Holako on Raptors Republic for a quick Q&A about the Lakers: The Lakers added Steve Blake and Matt Barnes (who was almost a raptor) over the summer. Can you talk about the impact that both these players are having on this team? I’m especially interested in Barnes, who I think was a perfect addition on the wing (in the mold of Ariza, but better defensively). I think the addition of Steve Blake (to shore up the back up point guard spot) and Matt Barnes (adding even depth to the small forward spot) were two very good pick-ups for the Lakers this off-season. Steve Blake came in and picked up the Triangle Offense right away and has already developed some very good on-court chemistry with Lamar Odom. While I didn’t hate Jordan Farmar, I do love that his often push-the-pace, frantic style of basketball was replaced by the steady handed, better-shooting Steve Blake. He’s already knocked down a huge three pointer with 18 seconds left on the road against Phoenix and has helped to keep the bench’s turnover rate down.