From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Trevor Ariza came into the Lakers’ locker room afterward to see his former teammates, prompting Lamar Odom happily to feed Ariza’s son, Tajh, some candy. DJ Mbenga came in later and fell into a warm embrace with Kobe Bryant. For a night, the Lakers again looked like the team to be with and the team to beat in the NBA. They executed their offense methodically — committing just one more turnover than the franchise-low three — and beat the New Orleans Hornets, 101-95, on Saturday night.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The best we ever saw from Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal was when their differences were complementary. Shaq dominating early, Kobe closing the door late. Shaq making it fun, Kobe showing the fire. Shaq sticking with the system, Kobe bucking for more. Opposites often attract. The trick in any relationship is for that contrast to evolve in such a healthy way that mutual respect leads to individual growth. That means you see the positives in what the other person is and does, and you wind up lifting a few pages from that playbook to yours. At their best, Bryant from O’Neal better understood the benefits of sticking with the script and O’Neal from Bryant better accepted that creativity won’t kill the cat.
From Broderick Turner, LA Times: The start of a seven-game, 13-day trip for the Lakers proved to be anything but easy, even against an injury-depleted New Orleans Hornets team. It meant the Lakers had to dig down on defense. It meant they had to take care of the basketball. And perhaps more important, it meant leaning on Pau Gasol to deliver. The grind-it-out 101-95 victory over the Hornets on Saturday night at the New Orleans Arena could be a harbinger for the Lakers because of the difficult road they still must travel on this trip. For now, the Lakers will take starting out 1-0, happy that Gasol was the aggressor once again after his talk with Kobe Bryant in which he demanded that the 7-foot forward be a force. Gasol had a season-high 34 points on 13-for-17 shooting. He missed only one of his nine free throws.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: First half offense. A few of L.A.’s 22 first half field goals (on 39 tries, good for over 56 percent) were fortunate. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol each hit some very tough floaters in the mid-post late in the shot clock, for example, but for the most part the Lakers posted an offensive efficiency of 140 over the first 24 minutes (thanks for the number, Forum Blue and Gold!) thanks to top shelf shot selection, good ball movement, and better recognition. Start with the first bucket of the game, where the Lakers found Andrew Bynum with Aaron Gray in his hip pocket, in great position. Nice feed, easy move, bucket. Or Kobe Bryant setting up Marcus Thornton in the mid-post, feeling what was supposed to be a double from David Andersen and casually spinning away from the paint before rising and kissing the jumper off the glass. Or a great sequence in which Gasol kicked from the right block to Derek Fisher in the corner, only to instantly get the ball back as the Hornets lost defensive spacing. Dunk.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: That’s because for most of the night, the Laker offense could not be halted. The champs executed splendidly with the rock, turning it over just four times and using fast, smart ball movement to attack the paint and earn plentiful visits to the free-throw line. Pau had his best offensive performance in eons. He had everything working: spot-up jumpers, hook shots, baseline spin moves, finishes in transition. Along with his 34 points (on only 21 shots, including free-throw possessions), he collected 10 boards and had three nooice assists. Just as influential were the contributions of Kobe Bryant, who scored 32 points on 26 shots and whose five assists led the team. When Pau and Kobe are both this sharp and are working in rhythm with one another, the Lakers are too much for almost any opponent. It’s a testament to how well the Hornets played that they hung close until the final moments.
From Zach Lowe, The Point Forward: The Lakers are 0-4 combined against the Spurs, Heat and Celtics after Thursday’s loss to San Antonio, inspiring an unusual form of panic among both the high-strung die-hards and the intelligentsia, some of whom are speculating that perhaps the Lakers should deal Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony. Here are some things about the 2010-11 Lakers: They are on pace to win 56 games. Last year’s championship team won 57 games, and though this group has benefited from an easy early-season schedule, it’s still close to last season’s win pace. Their average point differential, per 100 possessions, is +7.3. Last year’s number: +5.1. They are 9-10 overall against teams above .500. They went 25-20 against winning teams last season, and they’ll have plenty of chances over the last 31 games to jack up their current mark.
Lastly, LakersNation.com’s latest podcast features a segment with Kurt Helin and another with John Sally. Make sure you check it out.
For those who want to trade Bynum for Camelo, they forgot one thing, Camelo’s wife is an actress,she wants to live in NY. Can Camelo play and feel comfortable with Phil and trial angle offense ? If you play against Lakers,do you want to see Bynum or Odom who plays like 6-7 guard under basket ?
The bad thing this year is Lakers have to play against Dallas and SA, two teams with big guys, who can play inside, in the playoffs because Lakers are number 2 seed in the West.Do Lakers still have fresh legs in the NBA Final ? plus Lakers have to have home-court advantage.
The “intelligentsia” are speculating Bynum should be traded for ‘melo, huh?
Now that’s pretty funny.
Chris J says
Where has that Bynum for Anthony trade even been suggested? On some forum populated by 10-year-olds who think the NBA works like a video game?
First, lol at the trade. Second, Carmelo’s wife wants to go to NY rather than LA/Hollywood because she is an actress. Lost credibility of your post right there.
Anyways love Ding’s articles dude is awesome.
Igor Avidon says
I don’t think the Lakers are trading anyone significant for anyone significant.. but to suggest the Melo for Bynum isn’t a steal for us is ludicrous.
Drew is great in our system but we can’t even count on a full season out of him. He’s a difference maker when he’s in there, but he HAS TO BE IN THERE TO BE A DIFFERENCE MAKER. Sure he’s got potential but so do dozens of other youngsters who never fulfill it for one reason or another. Heck, look at Oden.
Melo is a proven winner- he led his team to a national title freshman year, as well as led his team deep into the playoffs in ’09. He is a proven ELITE scorer in the league. He simply lacks the right complementary pieces and the right coach to get him proper direction and instruction.
I’m not a proponent of trading Bynum for Melo, but if that deal was on the table? It would be foolish to scoff at it.
3 – referenced at “The Pont Forward” above, Z Lowe picked it up from a J.A. Adande post.
4 – “Ludicrous?” Me thinks not!
I know ‘melo’s a proven elite scorer. We already have one of those who also tends to dominate the ball. Last I checked, NBA teams are only allowed one ball on the court at a time. So that would be a big problem.
You speak of ‘melo needing the right complimentary pieces to win. True of any player, no matter how talented. A Bynum – less Lakers would be lacking a very big complimentary piece. (And yes, I’m painfully aware of young ‘drew’s injury history).
Plus, ‘melo’s a bit of a crybaby.
This happens every year. Every team does this until the all star break. They mention ridiculous trade scenarios with no basis in reality, and it is just a way for newer fans to the game to get excited about basketball in february.
We have gone to three straight finals. Do the people wanting trades not remember that?
Chris J says
I couldn’t disagree with you more, Igor.
Aside from the money — the max deal Carmelo would certainly command would cost more than Bynum’s due, not to mention the luxury tax ramifications — the Lakers can’t afford to trade defense for offense.
Yes, Anthony’s an elite scorer. But there’s only one ball, and it starts through a better elite scorer and then works through an elite inside scorer who gets better percentage looks than Anthony. He wouldn’t get the same touches in L.A. to warrant paying a No. 3 option No. 1 money.
And the Lakers defense would regress so much I’d question whether they’d get out of the first round of the playoffs, depending upon the opponent, if Bynum were traded from Anthony.
Darius Soriano says
Why is this even being discussed? Did I miss a credible report? Did Mitch suddenly come out and say that he’s looking to trade a big for a better wing?
If you want to discuss the merits of Melo as a player, that’s fine. I’m all ears there. But please let Bynum (or any other Laker) out of the discussion as there’s zero indication that anything is being discussed between the teams.
kinda interesting to compare bynum with the other Gasol, in terms of offense/defense basketall skills and also durability.
Darius, we didn’t start this discussion. It’s ALL Phillip’s fault for posting Zach Lowe’s entry, see above.
(I’m kidding, of course).
Igor Avidon says
Look at Melo’s flaws all you want (like every player, he has them) but he is far and away a better franchise player than Bynum. He is also worth a max contract, Drew is not (and make no mistake, Drew will ask for a max extension in 2 years) I’d rather have a player like Melo who is available 90% of the games my team plays than Drew, who is available just about half the time. If Drew was a healthy player, I’d sing a different tune – a talented seven-footer does bring a lot of good things that a wing couldn’t.
Once again, I’m not trying to discuss trades (as Darius said, no such trade scenario has even been reported) but I am amazed at the Laker fans saying they wouldn’t take Melo for Drew. Just, wow!
I don’t see ‘melo limping around on one very bad knee helping the Lakers to a championship.
And on the other hand, ‘drew has already done exactly that.
T. Rogers says
Lost in all this Carmelo for Bynum talk (like Denver would ever do that trade) is an uncomfortable reality. Unless Bynum is at the very least as good as he was last playoffs, the Lakers have no chance repeating. And I actually think he needs to be better than he was last year for the Lakers to have a chance.
The Lakers will need size to beat San Antonio, Dallas, Boston, or Miami. Combining Carmelo and Kobe is a lot like LeBron and Wade in Miami. It is not like Carmelo would come to LA and put up the same numbers he does in Denver. He won’t get enough touches to do that. So LA’s offense would become a little more potent while its defense, rebounding, and shot altering all become much worse.
Let’s leave these fantasy trade scenarios to the high school kids who like playing around with ESPN’s trade machine.
Chris J says
Didn’t mean to fuel the fire, Darius. Just the opposite — my comments were meant to shoot down such nonsense.
That said, the debate did begin, as R noted, from the post linked above (from The Point Forward.)