Dam Troy Murphy!
The Lakers hit the road against the Pacers kicking off a 3 game eastern road trip, 3 games in 4 nights after getting fat off some home cooking. The Pacers came in not having much to hang their hats on on the season but did notch an impressive victory over the defending Champs and did stay close with eastern contender Orlando until losing in overtime to them. The Lakers made it a habit of disposing mediocre teams but this night would be one to forget. A relatively close game was blown open by the Lakers by the end of the 3rd as they went on their patented 17-0 run to take a 101-86 lead going into the 4th. The lead was built to 19 points and thats when the Lakers hit the forgot to hit the snooze button. Danny Granger who had 32 and public enemy #1 Troy Murphy put in 16 points along with 17 rebounds slowly dissected the Lakers defense who had more holes then swiss cheese, led the Pacers all the way back to set up an unforgettable finish. With bench struggling and the lead dissapearing Phil put back his entire starting lineup the last 6 minutes of the game to try to preserve a Laker victory but momentum was on the Pacers bench. On the last play of the game with the Lakers up 117-116, Marquis Daniels drove baseline to the basket to miss a a reverse layup but Troy Murphy closed in quickly over the out-stretched hands of the Lakers defense to tip in the game winner as it danced around the rim seemingly forever and finally dropped in with no time remaining as the David slayed another Goliath. Kobe led the way for the Lakers with 28, Gasol contributed 20 and Trevor Ariza off the bench was spectacular with 13 and 3 steals.
Kobe finally became the second youngest player to score 22,000 points in his career after falling 15 points short against Toronto, he scored 16 in the first half vs. Indy to break it.
Danny Granger on the game winner: “That’s purely unbelievable,” Granger said. “Troy is a monster on the boards. He gobbles up so many rebounds, and I’m glad he got it because I couldn’t get to it.”
Every dog has his day!
Lakers at 76ers
After suffering their 2nd loss of the season and their first road loss, the Lakers didnt have much time to sit around and cry about it. They looked to get back on track against Elton Brand and the dissapointing 76ers. It also marked a homecoming for Kobe Bryant and what a show he put on. The game started off with a couple of runs as Philly built a double digit lead only to have the Lakers answer back with a run of their own in the first quarter. Vlad Rad got the Lakers started early with 11 quick points. From that point on, the Lakers had complete control of the game as Kobe razzled and dazzled the home crowd with some spectacular moves. He put in a game high 32 points and a sizzling 12-20 for the game. The Staples Centers, Pau and Andy Bynum contributed as Pau had 22 points and Bynum 18 points but only 3 rebounds. For the Sixers Andre Miller was a thorn on the Lakers side as he had 26 points and Andre Iguodala who put in 19. Elton Brand struggled through the whole as the Lakers defense keyed in on him, he had only 3 points on 1-7 shooting. The Lakers again build a 18 point lead to watch it trickle down to just 7 with under 3 minutes left to play, but Kobe answered that run with a dagger shot as he crossed over A.I. and nailed a perimeter jumper to put the game away to chants of MVP from a significant amount of Lakers fans in the crowd..the Lakers came out victorious and got back to their winning ways with a 114-102 win.
When asked about the Lakers recent defensive struggles, Phil in Phil fashion indirectly called out the team with, "We are what we are, I guess," he said. "A good offensive team."
Also when asked about his thoughts on Andrew Bynum's 3 rebounds in the contest, Phil respnded, "Some of the guards outrebounded Andrew tonight,"
And Andrew responded, "I might have gotten some [rebounds] the last six minutes, again," said Bynum, who left for good with 5:34 to play and the Lakers ahead, 99-88. "You never know until the fat lady sings and he sings for me a lot."
Lakers at Wizards
There was no better time to get back to improving that defense that has been lackadasical the last couple of games then against a 3-13 team as the Lakers played their 3rd game in 4 nights against former Laker Caron Butler and the Chicago Zephers or better known as the Washington Wizards. The Lakers started off to a quick 11 point lead as Pau Gasol & Andrew Bynum was invloved early and often. Kobe Bryant made the play of the night when he passed the ball to himself off the backboard and dished it out to Gasol for the assist. Gasol finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Bynum put in a season high with 19 points and grabbed 10 boards also. Vlad Rad put in 14 points on 5-8 shooting and Jordan Farmar off the bench contributed with 11. For the Wizards who sported their throwback Zephers uni's were led by Caron Butler who had 26, Antwan Jamison who had 15 and former USC star Nick Young who had 13 and a couple of key 3 pointers along with Andray Blatche who had 18 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. The Lakers build another huge lead up to 20 points only to hang on and win at the last second. Hanging on to a 1 point lead Kobe hit one of 2 freethrows with 12 seconds left to give the Lakers a 106-104 lead. Lakers nation let out a sigh of relief when Caron Butler's 3 point attempt to win the game fell short at the buzzer as the Lakers hung on.
Phil Jackson assessing himself, “Poor coaching,” he said. “That’s what it was tonight. Putting too much trust and faith in a younger group—a second unit. They just can’t hold it on the road. They can’t withstand the fury or the intensity of the fourth quarter. I’m going to have to change it up a little bit.”
D. Fish on sub-par defensive play of late, "The great defensive teams are not only the ones that are great on on-ball defense, but it's really those four guys behind the guy guarding the ball that make the difference," Fisher said. "We're still improving in that area."
Caron Butler chatting with Kobe in the closing seconds, “I was messing with him,” said Butler, Bryant’s teammate for one season in Los Angeles. “I went and walked up to him and said, ‘Man, give me one.”’
Caron on going for the win rather then play for overtime, “Nah, you know, I thought I took it just in time, because—clean look, and if it went in, game was over. You didn’t want it to be one of those situations in which the shot goes in, you’ve got a second left, and the best closer in basketball is at the other end, you know, asking for the ball,” Butler said. “So it was like one of those situations—you want the time to run out and hit the shot and run to the locker room with your hands up.”
Bucks at Lakers
The Lakers ended the week returning home to face another less then average eastern conference team. Hopeful the Lakers defense would put out a better showing, the Bucks were the perfect sacrifical lamb. A sloppy first half saw both teams being held to under 40% shooting but saw the Lakers with a 12 point lead at the half. The 3rd quarter saw the Lakers take control as usual as their offense improved while the Bucks still couldnt find the basket. Despite the Lakers shooting woes, Derek Fisher was outstanding with 19 points on 7-10 shooting, Kobe had 20 points and 8 assists and Any Bynum had 14 points and 14 rebounds. For the Bucks their bench contributed most of their offensive scoring led by for UCLA stand out Luc Richard Mbah a Mute who had 14 points, Charlie Villanueva had 12 and Joe Alexander who had 15 points. Kobe and the Lakers defense held Bucks star Michael Redd to only 2 points on 1-6 shooting. The true test for the Lakers was what they would do with a big lead going into the 4th which at one point reached to 27 points. Although the Lakers did let the lead dwindle down to 12 it was different from previous games as they was no danger for loosing this lead. In garbage time Sun Yue made his debut with a clean sta-line of 4 points, 4 fouls in 5 minutes!
Phil after the Lakers struggles offensively, "Tex (Winters) is foaming at the mouth down there in the coaches' office right now," Jackson said. "He wanted his money back at halftime. Now he wants to make sure that we take the triangle offense out of any connection with him."
D-Fish on why the Lakers are blowing...
Leads that is...Despite going 3-1 this week the Lakers left very little desired for as far as their defensive efforts and tendencies to ease off are concerned. He reflected back to Game 4 of the Finals last year after the Lakers blew a 24 point lead, "That was a window of opportunity to be champions, to take that series to 2-2 with the fifth game on our home court," Fisher said. "We did the same thing that we're starting to do now -- allow teams to get back into a game by executing poorly on offense, turning the ball over, taking poor shots and becoming porous on defense. I just wanted to kind of remind us that if we want to get back to that point, we have to correct this now."
This is the point that I have been trying to make, the Lakers can't allow themselvs to form bad habits. Game 4 last year was a pivotal turning point in the series. Despite the 17-2 mark, the Lakers have to hold themselves to a higher standard because of what Boston is doing right now also. There is no doubt in my mind that Lakers and Celtics will meet in the finals again, the question is who will be better prepared. Its good to take care of bad habits early then let this become a tendency or a trend.
Lamar to lead Bench Mob
After the erratic play of the bench of late on the recent road trip and last night against Milwaukee, Phil has asked Lamar Odom to step into the role of Paul Revere to the Minutemen. Phil is concerned that the younger bench players are going in looking to polish up on their statline and not play within the scope of the game.
"I've asked Lamar to take a bigger leadership role," the Lakers coach said Sunday. "I kind of called him out on it, pointed out to him in the second half of the game the other night about his leadership on the floor [Friday against Washington].
"I know he's got some wild guys out there with him at times and it's hard. . . . It's tough for me, let alone Lamar. We've had guys that come in and at times are looking to either pad their scoring average or try to play the up-tempo game when it's not the right time," Jackson said. "On the road, they've got to learn how to slow it down and exercise the options the offense gives . . . instead of just doing it off their speed and quickness and dribbling acumen."
Lakers coaches downplay the possibility of 70 wins
Doesnt seem like the coaching staff has any expectations for the Lakers to eclipse the Chicago Bulls 72-10 mark set back in 1996. Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons who was a part of the Lakers 1972 team which initially set the single season win total record at 69 wins and was a coach on the Bulls team that broke it stated, "The team, as we sit right now, it's not mature enough to win that amount of games," Cleamons said emphatically. "It's about talent on one hand, but it's about maturity on the other hand. The team that won 72, that team had been together." Phil also seems to think the Lakers wont reach 70 due to travel as they will play 13 games in the eastern time zone although the 71-72 team played 22 games.
I suspect the reason for the pessimism is to keep the team grounded and not to try to set too many high goals so they can focus on better preparing for the stretch run and the playoffs, more focused on what they need to do. I just wonder it comes to fruition would the coaches let the guys go after the record?
Former Laker Arrested
Corie Blount was arrested and charged with felony drug possession after authorities caught him picking up a package of marijuana. They later confiscated total of 29 pounds of marijuana, a 1996 Mercedes Benz, a 2004 Cadillac Escalade, a 2000 Chevrolet Sububan, three guns and $29,500 in cash. Blount was a volunteer coach this season at Cincinnati State and earned a degree this year in criminal justice. Define Irony?
Week 7 Preview
The Lakers hit the road tomorrow as they take on the lowly Sacramento Queens (it always feels good saying that), the Kings are 5-16 and have lost 8 in a row but you know the cow bells and red necks will be out in full force. The Lakers return home the following night to face the Phoenix Suns as Shaq makes his return to Staples Center for the first time in almost 2 years and on a Western Conference team. we get to see the Queens again on Friday night and end the week at home vs. Minnesota with new head coach Kevin McHale or better known as Kevin McFail.