Can we please replay the Detroit game??? 4 weeks in and the Lakers sitting pretty at 11-1...
Bulls at Lakers
After suffering their first loss of the season the Lakers looked to get back to their winning ways with stand out rookie Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls in town. Pau Gasol got involved early and often as the Spaniard scored 16 of his game high 34 points in the first quarter alone. The Lakers pounded the ball inside as Andrew Bynum showed his best outing of the season with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks as the Lakers built a 20 plus point lead. Ben Gordon in a losing effort also put in 23 points. Kobe added 21 points along with Lamar Odom who had 10 and Jordan Farmar with 12. The Lakers played stellar defense for intervals of the game but were not consistent enough to keep the Bulls under 100 points and get the Staples crowd free tacos. The Lakers had 11 blocks in the game and held the Bulls to 43% shooting but were out-rebounded 48-43. Despite a couple of runs by the Bulls fueled by rookie sensation Derrick Rose who added 25 points and 9 assists coupled with some defensive lapses by the Lakers, the Bulls couldnt overcome as the Lakers won the game 116-109. Next up for the Lakers was a Pacific Division showdown in Phoenix.
Sasha Vujacic and Trevor Ariza got into a heated exchange during the game but cooler heads prevailed, both stated it was no big deal, just 2 competitive players being...competitive. Trevor was asked who his favorite teammate was and Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw interjected with an emphatic "Sasha", Trevor smiled and agreed...The Machine is also my favorite but who is his BFF?
Lakers at Suns
There is really no need to hype up any Lakers vs. Suns matchups but former Laker Shaq made some news in the week building up to the game by stating he would be open to a possible return to the Lakers after he is done in Phoenix to a Sacramento Bee reporter. Umm thanks but no thanks...The game itself would be yet another real test as the Lakers sought out to make a statement. The Lakers turned what was a close game for about a quarter and a half into a laugher yet again against yet again another supposed Western elite. The star of the game turned out to be Space Cadet Vlad Rad himself as he was finally able to get on track draining some back breaking 3's to help sustain a double digit Laker lead in the second half of the game. The Lakers bench was also was stellar as usual as they outscored the Phoenix bench (who played w/o Leanardo Barbosa as was back home after the loss of his mother) 42-30. Lamar Odom led the charge off the bench with 13 points and 9 rebounds, Kobe added 24 but game hero Vlad Rad had 15 points going 5-5 from beyond the arc. For the Suns Amarie Stoudamire led them with 21 points, Shaq put in a respectable 15 points and 9 rebounds but the Lakers defense held Steve Nash to just 8 points on 3-9 shooting. The Lakers cruised to a 105-92 victory.
Kobe played very little in the 4th quarter as the Lakers were well ahead, he touched on his minutes:
“I was telling Luke (Walton) about 10 minutes ago that this might be the first season I average 31 minutes because we’ve been blowing people out,” Bryant said. “I’ve been sitting the whole fourth quarter. That’s pretty amazing.”.....Black Mamba shall be well rested when the playoffs roll around.
Shaq on running into the Bryant family at a restaurant..."If I see him and his family in a restaurant, it's, 'Hello Mr. Bryant, hello Ms. Bryant, hello little babies . . . ' " O'Neal said....he ended with "I Like Babies, Get in Mah Belly!"...jk although it wouldnt shock me!
Nuggets at Lakers
After another victory vs. a West contender, the Lakers set back home on the back end of a back to back to welcome the new look Denver Nuggets who were 7-1 since acquiring Chauncey Billups from Detroit in exchange for Allen Iverson. This one would surely be a test...at least thats what it was supposed to be. The Nuggets proved to be no match for the Lakers as the Lakers jumped on them early and often. By halftime the Lakers built a 20 point lead and led 67-47. Kobe led the way with his best shooting performance of the season with 29 points going 12-18. Andy Bynum put in 13pts and 13 rebounds and even seldomly used Josh Powell came in and contributed with 3 block shots. The Nuggets chipped away at the Lakers lead but could never get over the hump, Chauncey Billups put in 15 points but the Lakers played stimy defense againts Carmelo Anthony and held him to just 10 points on 5-19 shooting. J.R Smith added 18 points off the bench for Denver but the Lakers rolled again, 104-90.
Chauncey on the Lakers and the loss...
"We're still playing good. We just had a tough night," Billups said. "That team is a really, really good team. . . . We just had a rough night. We're not going to let this one game stop what we've got going. We've got to wash that loss off in the shower and keep it moving."...Try telling that to the Clippers, imagine how much soap they have gone through this season already.
Kings at Lakers
After solid wins over the Suns and the Nuggets on back to back nights, the Kings should'nt have been much trouble for the Lakers...but this is why you play the game...although not the same rivalry it once was, its still the Queens and its still fun beating them. Playing without leading scorer Kevin Martin, the Kings hoped to derail the Lakers train. The Lakers though forgot to play defense against the Kings, again they had an early lead but a 21-6 run fueled by Bobby Jackson who ended with 15 points cut the Lakers lead to just 4 points. The Lakers lack of defense was overshadowed by a brilliant offensive game for the Lakers. The Kings couldnt continue the run as the Lakers put a fork in them with a 118-110 victory. The Lakers committed 18 TO's that led to 30 points for the Suns. The Lakers offense though had 8 players in double figures including all the starters. Kobe was Kobe matching his jersey number to the total of points he had. Andy Bynum had a solid game with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Lamar Odom off the bench had 14 points on 7-9 shooting. The Kings were lead by John Salmons who had 24, Bobby Brown (who wasnt humping around) off the bench contributed with 21 points.
Kobe on the Lakers lack luster win:
“I’m not happy with this win. We could have played much more solid defensively,” Bryant said. “They did a good job getting out in transition. So from that aspect, we might have been a little worn down.”....I'm chalking this up 3 games in 4 nights.
Phil rememebering the Queens days:
"I just saw Rick Fox and it immediately flashed in my mind," Jackson said, referencing Fox's notorious fight with Kings guard Doug Christie on the floor and then in the tunnel during a preseason game. "It's Sacramento and there's Rick."
After being poked in the eye in the prior game, Vlad Rad sported orange tinted goggles, he paid omage to Kurt Rambis:
I'm going with the throwback Kurt Rambis look tonight," Radmanovic joked. "Superman is back for tonight." ...When I saw those, I thought Vlad Rad was about to hit the slopes again!
Random Thoughts with Shaq
Let by-gones be by-gones I guess, Shaq did some smooching prior to the Phoenix game touching on his comments about Phil (saying they were taken out of context) being the main culprit for not easing tension between Kobe and Shaq to his thoughts on the Lakers. In regards to Phil, "On the record, Phil has always done right by me and we had a pretty good relationship," O'Neal continued. "We won (three consecutive) championships. It would be idiotic of me to say something bad about him." But that obviously didnt stop Shaq before, I guess its that easy to ridicule and bad mouth a former coach, teammate, team and city and then brush it off as a joke...oh thats just Shaq being Shaq!
Phil did actually agree though that Shaq may have been misquoted, "I had no doubt that [article] was something out of context, or whatever," Jackson said. "We had a great time. We had a great run for four years, five years."
Phil touched on what could have been, "It was purely an economic situation with our owner," Jackson said. "It wasn't about personalities. He voiced some speculation about a (lower) salary, which Shaq eventually accepted in Miami. I think if he had done that in L.A., he probably would still be there. ... I think the owner had every intention of restructuring Shaq's contract and keeping Kobe" I guess we'll never know!
Shaq also touched on his former team a bit praising them...on his thoughts on Kobe as a player now and the Lakers overall:
"They are the best team," O'Neal said. "They are 9-1. They are playing pretty good. Kobe is playing excellent ball, keeping everybody involved. He's got a lot of shooters around. They are a very dangerous team. . . . They are probably the best team in the West right now."
He was also asked if thats how he wished Kobe would have played when they were togerther, "He's playing excellent ball," O'Neal said. "I can't say anything bad about him now."
On Andrew Bynum:
He does what he's supposed to do," O'Neal said. "He catches it, keeps it up high and throws it down. He's bigger, a lot stronger. He's not really the first, second or third option. He just gets lobs, gets rebounds. He does what he's supposed to do as a 7-footer."
Okay, its nice to hear all these great things Shaq has said about the Lakers for a change but why does this seem like an future audition to get back into the good graces of the Lakers. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, if Kobe can reform then so can Shaq, I just hope he is sincere in this. Players or for that matter people in general can mature after they come to the realization of their mistakes, dont know if Shaq has reached this point yet but he's on the right track. I guess what I'm waiting for is also an admission or an acknowledgement that maybe he also along with Kobe and Phil had a little something to do with the break-up. Sure its all fun and dandy for him looking back at it but those were some tense times and it jeopradized the Lakers chances of being an immortal dynasty and it screwed us fans out of bragging rights till the end of our lifetime...Well whats done is done, and I hope that Shaq can finally move on now and us Lakers fans are grateful to him for helping us win those 3 titles but at the same time we are spiteful to him for screwing us out of 3 more possible titles. The question has been asked if Lakers fans would welcome him back, out of respect for the big fella the only thing of Shaq's that I want to welcome back is his jersey hanging on the walls of Staples alongside the other Laker greats, thats how I would like to remember him and not for the player he is now.
Week 5 Preview
Week 5 will mark the end of our current home-stand with 3 more games. New Jersey is next on the menu Tuesday night followed by the Mavs on ESPN the day after Thanksgiving and ends Sunday with a matchup against Chris Bosh and the Raptors. Week 6 kicks off a 3 game east coast road swing, so this week will be a chance to shine up the record a bit although I expect the Mavs and Raptors to give us some competition.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!