Tag Archives: Lakers

Lakers lose by 20 to Bobcats, then to NBA-worst Cavs – Will David Stern just eliminate the L.A. franchise?

17 Feb

“For years we have marketed the Lakers as a premiere NBA franchise, & their success is important to the health of our league,” Stern said.  “Losing to the lowly Bobcats & Cavs – especially the Cavs – is out of step with how we market the Lakers to NBA fans.  We cannot continue to tolerate this choking behavior from such a prominent ballclub.  In order to protect the league’s image, we had no choice but to remove the Lakers’ franchise from the NBA, effective immediately.” 

“We’re not saying Kobe, Pau & Lamar are banned from the game of basketball.  They are free to assemble in any gym, armory or blacktop playground, & Phil can even tag along if he wants.  The players can showcase their moves for current NBA teams, but the Lakers are done playing pro ball in the top-heavy league I claim to be in charge of,” Stern explained.  Stern wanted to speak in greater detail on the issue, but had time constraints to deal with.  “I’d love to talk more about dissolving Jerry Buss’ franchise, but I have a conference call to help the Knicks get Melo & Chris Paul.  I also have a meeting to help the Heat get Blake Griffin & Tyreke Evans.  Gotta run.”

Okay, so obviously the above quotes from Commish Stern are totally fake, & sound like something you would find on TheOnion.com rather than TheFloorSeats, but I just wanted to make you think about how ridiculous it is that the 2-time defending NBA champs have suffered bad losses to the Bobcats & Cavs.  Bear in mind in each case it was the opponent, not the Lakers, suffering from injuries, bad trades & free agency!

Even NBDL vet Christian Eyenga is dunking on the Lakers now?? The Spurs & Mavs must be licking their chops!

Here’s what ESPN.com & the AP had to say:

CLEVELAND — Kobe Bryant slipped a black backpack across his shoulders and left Quicken Loans Arena without talking about what had just happened.

After losing to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, nothing needed to be said.

The Lakers hit the All-Star break broken.

Looking nothing like two-time defending NBA champions, they dropped their third straight game, a stunning 104-99 loss Wednesday night to the Cavs — the league’s worst team, which avenged a 55-point embarrassment against Los Angeles last month.

The Lakers, who played so crisply and with purpose in recent wins over New York and Boston, look absolutely lost.

“It’s a painful, painful loss,” said Pau Gasol, who had 30 points and 20 rebounds. “It’s very disappointing. I don’t understand it.”

Ramon Sessions came off the bench and scored a season-high 32 points for the Cavaliers, who were beaten 112-57 by the Lakers on Jan. 11. That loss — the worst in club history — was No. 11 in a league-record streak that eventually reached 26 before Cleveland ended it last week with an overtime win against L.A.’s less-heralded squad, the Clippers.

After his club’s worst loss this season, coach Phil Jackson didn’t tell his players anything other than what time they’re due to report for practice Monday.

“I think they took the break before the game started,” he said.

Playing the finale of a seven-game road trip, the Lakers spent much of the night looking as if they were already on vacation. They threw errant passes, forced outside shots and couldn’t catch the Cavs down the stretch despite a frantic comeback.

“It’s back to the drawing board,” said Lamar Odom, who was asked what’s at the top of the team’s to-do list. “Defense. Cohesiveness. Our chemistry on offense. I’m not that worried. I think it’s things we can fix.”

Bryant finished with 17 points on 8-of-25 shooting. Derek Fisher had 19 for the Lakers, who committed 19 turnovers and enraged the normally tranquil Jackson, who screamed at them during timeouts after inexcusable defensive lapses.

Losing in Orlando on Sunday was hardly reason for much concern, but a 20-point setback in Charlotte on Monday left both Jackson and Bryant speechless. Now, a loss to the Cavaliers, who are 3-37 since Nov. 27, is enough reason for the Lakers to be worried.

Odom believes the Lakers coast against lesser teams.

“That’s our problem overall,” Odom said. “We take teams lightly at times. We play the cat-and-mouse game. Sometimes the cat loses.”

But as poorly as they played, the Lakers did cut a 10-point lead to two in the final minute. But Anthony Parker and Sessions made two free throws apiece in the last 17.9 seconds.

After the final horn, the Lakers walked slowly toward their locker room and a trip home not knowing what might happen next. With the trading deadline just a week away, the rumors involving Denver star Carmelo Anthony will likely heat up.

This much is clear: Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak needs to do something to awaken his team.

The Cavs, on the other hand, reached the season’s unofficial midpoint on a high.

This was their best effort of the season. They played with the energy coach Byron Scott wants every night, and they gave their dedicated fans a taste of what could be ahead. Beyond that, they somewhat erased the memory of being pummeled in Los Angeles.

“The only time you should be beating somebody by 50 points is on a video game,” said forward Antawn Jamison. “That night it felt like we were in one. It shows you when we focus for 48 minutes what we’re capable of doing. The biggest question is how do we be consistent doing that.”

Bryant’s 3-pointer helped the Lakers trim a 12-point deficit to three late in the third, but Cavs rookie forward Christian Eyenga followed with a dunk that had Cleveland fans instantly texting “OMG” to friends and one that is among the league’s best this season.

Eyenga blew past Bryant on the baseline, reared back with his right hand and smashed the ball through as Gasol made a halfhearted block attempt. Cleveland’s bench erupted at a dunk not seen around here since LeBron James delivered them on an almost nightly basis.

Jackson appears to have lost patience with his star-studded team, which seemed road-weary and disinterested.

In the second half, the Zen Master yelled at Gasol during two separate timeouts and the 11-time champion coach was animated while showing the Lakers what they were doing wrong on his erasable clipboard.

Things didn’t start well for the champions. Bryant picked up his second foul with 5:37 left in the first quarter, and on his way to the bench he said something to referee Kane Fitzgerald and was slapped with a technical. With Bryant out, the Cavs went on an 11-2 run and opened a 10-point lead.

It was a sign of things to come.

The Lakers were out of sync, and their sloppy play was perhaps best shown during a second-quarter possession when Gasol turned and fired a pass to where he expected a teammate to be. No one was there and the ball skipped into the feet of Los Angeles’ coaches.

“We had a lot of turnovers that really hurt us,” Jackson said. “We didn’t play a good road game at all.”

Game notes
Bryant credits Scott with being his mentor when he joined the NBA. The two remain close friends. Bryant sympathizes with what Scott has endured during a trying first season with Cleveland. “This is tough for him,” Bryant said. “He’s competitive. It’s killing him.” … Cavs G Mo Williams, who recently returned after missing 13 games with a hip flexor, injured his right ankle in the opening minutes. Scott said it was his decision to play Williams just 3 minutes.

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Lakers edge Celtics in Boston 92-86 for 1st meaningful win of the season

11 Feb

By Brian Kamenetzky, ESPN

Maybe the Lakers should just stay on the road.

In the third game of their season-long seven-game road trip, the Lakers again scored a win, this time against an elite team, the type of victory that has eluded them all season. It wasn’t a perfect measuring stick given Boston’s health issues only exacerbated by foul trouble, but, if I might borrow wisdom from the wisest of late 1970’s American summer camp cinema- Meatballs-  “It just doesn’t matter.” The Lakers still went into the TD Banknorth Garden and owned the second half of a game they needed to win. That it doesn’t “mean” anything in terms of determining a playoff favorite is irrelevant. Had the Lakers lost, the same would be true.

Thursday’s game may not be great for determining the NBA’s next champion, but it was excellent for providing a little perspective. All in all, it was a top-shelf performance, the type fans (and perhaps the Lakers themselves) have been looking for all season. Here’s how it broke down…

Highlights:

1. Second-Half Defense. Even with a rally to end the second quarter, the Lakers still allowed Boston to shoot over 51 percent from the field in the first half. In the third quarter, though, with Ray Allen on the bench with foul trouble (followed later by Von Wafer), Nate Robinson in the locker room with injury, the Lakers did a great job in the halfcourt of clamping down on Boston’s remaining scorers, forcing the Celtics into low-percentage looks, including a host of Rajon Rondo jumpers. Once Allen went to the bench at the 6:41 mark, the Lakers allowed only three field goals the rest of the quarter, all jumpers. The Celtics scored only 15 points overall, and combined with the best offensive quarter of the game for the Lakers made for quite a positive frame for the visitors.

2. Opening the Third Quarter. L.A. carried serious momentum into the half, cutting a 15-point deficit to eight over the last four minutes of the second quarter. Instead of allowing Boston to regain control coming out of the break, the Lakers continued their push. Derek Fisher drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut Boston’s lead to five. Kobe Bryant came right back, probing against Allen before splitting a double team off the pick and roll — it seemed Boston was preparing for Bryant to pass, given his first-half tendencies, and finishing at the rim, drawing the and-one in the process. In 38 seconds, the Lakers had six points. On their next trip, the Bryant again worked his way inside to score, followed by a Pau Gasol jumper at the 10:18 mark giving the Lakers a 55-53 lead.

From there, the Lakers continued establishing control over the game. But it was those first two minutes of the third swinging the balance of the game in their favor.

3. Kobe Bryant. A lingering criticism of the first matchup at Staples Center was Bryant’s shot selection. Efficient as he was early, Kobe dominated touches and shots. As the Lakers struggled in the second half, Bryant took even firmer control of the offense, at one point hoisting on over 10 straight trips.

Tonight, Bryant was clearly determined to get his teammates touches. He spent most of the first half working through double teams, coming off the pick and roll, penetrating to draw the defense, and then kicking to the open man. He found Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the two-man game, hit shooters on the perimeter, and did a great job distributing the ball. The results weren’t necessarily there — the Lakers missed a lot of shots in the first half — but the intention was. That he took three shots in the first half isn’t really the point, but rather his determination not force shots and get Boston moving in transition.

Having set up the Celtics early, Kobe was able to exploit cracks in Boston’s defense early in the third. Not surprisingly, he was more aggressive looking for his own shot over the final 24 minutes, and did so with good efficiency, hitting eight of 14 for 20 points. Once Allen was out of the game, Bryant made a point of attacking Wafer because he’s Kobe Bryant, and Von Wafer was guarding him. He’d finish with 23.

4. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Together, they combined for 36 points on 14-for-23 from the floor, 19 rebounds, and two blocks. Gasol continued his run of aggressive play, taking shots when they were available, attacking Kevin Garnett in the paint, and posting a far more influential game than when Boston visited Staples. He even took a bite out of Lamar Odom’s forehead in the third quarter, sending L.O. to the bench for medical attention. It was, presumably, unintentional, but who’s to say Gasol hasn’t evolved from Black Swan to Black Cannibal?

5. Rebounding.
 In nine of the last 10 times the Lakers and Celtics have played, the team winning the rebounding battle won the game. Tonight, the Lakers were plus-11 on the boards (47-36). They won the game. All hail predictive statistics!

Kobe's ability to get assists when double-teamed appeared to be the difference in this one. Would it have been easier with Melo instead of Baby Bynum? Regardless, now that the season is half over it's nice to see the Lakers finally get a quality win. L.A. won't be drawing CLE or DET in the playoffs, so they're going to need a lot more of these wins over good teams to really scare anyone!

Lowlights:

1. Early Odom. The Lakers struggled early in part because Odom was a bit of a train wreck. It’s rarely a bad thing for Odom to be assertive looking for his shot, but Thursday night he too often went too far, forcing shots in traffic and helping Boston to easy opportunities the other way. L.O. usually doesn’t fall into these sorts of patterns, but tonight he did in the first half, and it hurt.

2. First-Quarter Defense (bleeding into the second). The Lakers allowed 27 points on over 52 percent shooting, allowed Rondo too much freedom to roam, allowing him to both finish at the basket and create for others, and were a little squishy in their closeouts. Fortunately, they tightened things up over the final 30 minutes of the game, but opening returns were shaky.

3. Early Turnovers. Five in the first quarter, with miscues coming in the post and off the dribble, sometimes off pressure from the Celtics, sometimes off carelessness. Even some of the simple plays weren’t, as demonstrated by a Ron Artest pass from the wing to Gasol that skipped through Pau’s hands and to the scorer’s table. If there’s a reason the Lakers looked lethargic early, this is it.

4. Lack of Offensive Variety. Not a dig at his performance (referenced above), but rather the way he was deployed for much of the game. Kobe did his job in countless pick and roll sets, or probing from the perimeter to draw the defense before finding an open teammate. The problem were the countless pick and roll sets and plays with Kobe initiating the offense from the top of the shot clock. Over seven games against elite defensive teams, it’s not a recipe for success. As it was against the C’s the first time around, the Lakers need to do more running Kobe off the ball, allowing him to come off screens to catch on the run, whether to shoot or attack his defender off the dribble. It happened periodically- not nearly enough- but almost always with a great deal of success.

When Kobe catches after good off-ball action, he’s absurdly unguardable, able both to move the ball effectively and also get nearly any shot he wants, particularly when he receives the ball near either elbow. For his teammates, it’s often an issue simply of not giving up the ball to him so early in the clock, something the coaching staff repeatedly stresses to mixed effect. For the coaches, it’s a matter of continuing to insist on variety, and pushing the matchups and movements able to make it possible.

I’m hardly campaigning the Lakers ditch the Kobe-initiated pick and roll. It’s often ludicrously effective. But for the Lakers to be successful against Boston-esque defense over a full series, it can’t be the only play in the playbook. They need more variety than what was shown Thursday night.