From Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: Writer Sherman Alexie spends a lot of time thinking about basketball and some time thinking about aging. Both ideas appear in this poem, inspired by Kobe Bryant: Sonnet, with Kobe Bean Bryant 1. My friend, X, who played D1 basketball, and was the last cut during his only NBA training camp, hasn’t shot a basketball since he retired. 2. For a few years, all of his friends tried to get him to run in their pick-up games, but he refused. 3. “I hit a jumper over Shawn Kemp,” he said to me. “Just one. But how could it get any better than that?” 4. What he was really saying: “Sherman, no matter how many times I score, easily and repeatedly, on you, it will never have the same magic.” 5. As far as I know, he doesn’t have any regrets. 6. He’s a multi-sport athlete now, running ridiculous distances through the desert and swimming epic lengths in the water. And God knows what other medieval tortures he’s putting himself through.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: In my trade, we’re taught to avoid yes/no questions, as well as “leading” inquiries, because both tend to limit the quality of an answer and the number of directions a questionee can go with his response. Best to leave people with as much room to roam as possible, and narrow things down from there, if need be. There are exceptions, obviously, but generally speaking its a good rule to live by. Sometimes, though, it leads you squarely into Captain Obvious territory. Such was the case Monday, after Phil Jackson had earlier referenced bad habits developed by the team over the course of the losing streak, stuff they don’t want repeated. “Guys are making one effort, but not the second effort so our rotations are misaligned and misspent, and our energy was misspent last night in critical times. And then the little stuff that we have, mentally,” he said. “I think we fouled jump shooters, three point shooters, and also gave up an inordinate type of things we don’t have to do, to set ourselves on edge.”
From Scott Sereday, 48MOH: Not too long ago, the Spurs were coping with a six game losing streak while the Lakers were tearing through the NBA. Now it is the Lakers who are mired in a 5 game losing streak, while the Spurs have reeled off 4 straight wins. In fact, the argument could be made that the Lakers’ losing streak is more severe. In the Spurs 6 game skid, several starters missed time (most notably Duncan) and the losses were close contests against tough opponents. Although the Lakers’ losses have generally been close, they blew a couple easy matchups and their starters played significant minutes throughout. Of course, history has shown that streaks can reverse in an instant. All that matters is how the teams are playing once the playoffs begin. I can think of 5 potentially significant implications of tonight’s game:?The Lakers’ and Spurs’ confidence;?The Spurs’ playoff road (the Lakers’ seeding);?Home Court against the Bulls;?Injuries and rest;?Game 1 of the 1st round
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: On the heels of the Los Angeles Lakers’ fifth straight defeat, a 120-106 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the only important question to be asked of Lakers Nation is “How much stock do you put in the Lakers recent run of poor form?” On the one hand, there can be no doubt that much this 5 game losing streak can be attributed and written off to poor effort and lack of focus. How else can one explain the team with one of the league’s best offenses failing to top 100 points per 100 possession for four straight games, or one of the cleanest teams in the league (the Lakers are currently ranked 3rd in the league in turnover ratio) coughing the ball up 18, 19, 17, and 17 times respectively before yesterday’s 10 turnovers.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: The biggest concern regarding the Lakers’ current five-game losing streak involves setting themselves up for the more difficult task of ensuring home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs — at least for the first two rounds. Even if the Lakers have maintained all along that health and quality of play is more important than securing home-court advantage, there’s no need to make that destination any harder to reach. That’s why the Lakers have at least conceded they’re aiming for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference. It’s a fate they still technically control, but there’s no room for error. The Mavericks (56-25) are half a game ahead of the Lakers (55-25) for the second spot in the West after their 98-91 victory over Houston on Monday night, while Oklahoma City (55-25) only sits half a game behind the Lakers for third place.
From Jeff McDonald, San Antonio Express News: As recently as last week, this was supposed to be D-Day for the Spurs. They were in the throes of a season-worst losing streak. The Los Angeles Lakers had climbed within a game of seizing control of the Western Conference. Tonight’s game between the two longtime rivals at Staples Center was shaping up to be a Big Game, with a capital B. Then, the Lakers spiraled on a season-worst losing streak of their own, the Spurs locked down the No. 1 seed in the West, and suddenly today’s trip to Southern California took on all the intensity of a Disneyland vacation. “We want to play good and do our best, knowing there’s not that sense of urgency,” guard Manu Ginobili said. “It’s probably more important for them than us.” When the NBA released its schedule in September, many observers circled tonight’s game as one that could figure prominently in the Western Conference playoff race. Few could have predicted it would mean more to the two-time defending NBA champions than to the Spurs.