Welcome to Heartbreak Hotel!
Whether its pure boredom or complacency, the Lakers coming into the Knicks game have been the most criticized 20-3 team to date. With the Knicks rogue offense in town under former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni who if you recall last season was told by Phil Jackson to park his keester after calling a timeout right after he had called a timeout in an early meeting with the Suns last year. The stars were out tonight with all the New York transplants in LA buying courtside seats but the most unusual was an actually member of the Knicks buying a seat also. Disgruntled Stephon Marbury was there, but the Lakers were without Pau Gasol who came down with strep throat virus and a number of Laker players playing under the weather. A flu bitten Lamar Odom would get the start but the Knicks were the ones that got off to a great start. Hitting 11 3 pointers in the first half and scoring 65 points in 2 quarters, the Kinicks amped Lakers fans to boo their team off the floor as they built a 15 point lead. After putting up no fight what so ever in the first half, the Lakers intenisty and defense picked up in the second half as they erased a 15 point Knicks lead and cooled off their hot shooting. With a 116-114 lead, Laker fans let out a sigh of relief when Chris Duhon missed a desperation half court shot. Nate Robinson for the Knicks was impressive as he scored 33 points, David Lee and Quentin Richardson each put in 18 points. For the Lakers it was Kobe leading the way with 28, Lamar Odom in his first start of the season had a solid 17 points and 12 rebounds while Trevor Ariza off the bench scored 13.
Stephon Marbury on "earning" his paycheck, “I didn’t create this, this is all their doing,” he said of his status as a non-player with the Knicks despite being under contract. “I’m still earning my check by doing nothing. I’m staying in shape. My mind-set is to enjoy my life.”
Phil on the Lakers losing a little bit of their edge, "This team, they've lost that spark, and so that's what's missing, and people see it,"
Lamar on the flu bug, “Luke (Walton) was sick, Trevor and Josh (Powell), Pau. … Like kindergarten,”
Lakers at Miami
The Lakers set off for their first real big test of the season. A 4 game road trip with a back to back in Florida with 4 games in 5 days. First up was Miami and the rejuvenated Dwayne Wade. With the a few of the Lakers nursing the flu, the Lakers hoped to get better in a hurry vs. a struggling Miami team that had lost 3 in a row. But as we all know, teams get up for the Lakers but it was the Lakers who never got rolling. In a lackadasical game the Lakers commited 21 turnovers. Miami's defense and the Lakers poor play would not bode well but regardless the Lakers somehow found a way to make it close and ended up with the ball trailing 89-87. Kobe's last second shot to send it to overtime went pratically halfway in and rattled out as the Heat pulled off the upset holding the Lakers to their lowest point total of the season. Dwayne Wade as usual lead the way for Miami with 35 points including clutch buckets down the stretch and a couple of key blocks, Shawn Marion had 12 points and DaequanCook off the bench for Miami had 14 including 4-6 from 3 point land. The Lakers were lead by Kobe who had 28, Pau and D. Fish put in 13 points each and Jordan Farmar off the bench had 14.
Jordan Farmar left the game after tweaking his knee after a steal for a layup. He did not play the Orlando game is his status is uncertian at the moment.
Kobe on the last second shot, It felt good," Bryant said. "It had a little rattling action and I thought it was going to fall. It just didn't happen."
Udonis Haslem on Kobe's shot, "If you can get half a point for a bucket, he would have gotten half a point,"
Dwayne Wade after Kobe's miss got down to one knee and breathed a sigh of relief, “I knew it had a good chance of going in,” Wade said. “And how’d you all like my pose?”
Lakers at Orlando
Not having much time to hold their heads down about the heartbreaker in Miami, the Lakers went to work against Orlando the very next night. Things started off promising for the Lakers as they got off to a lead and held it until the dreaded 2nd half. The Lakers went into the half with a 58-49 lead and seemingly were starting to get back into the groove of things. The 3rd quarter saw Orlando get back right into the mix of things as they outscored the Lakers by 10 points to get back in the game. In the closing moments of the game the Lakers would check back into Heartbreak Hotel. With Orlando leading by 1 point, Kobe drove to the basket to find a wide open Sasha Vujacic camped out on the edge to hit what could have possibly been the game winning basket. And much like the night before the Lakers were cursed again with the ball going in and out which eventually lead to the Lakers losing back to back for the first time this season, Dwight Howard although was plagued with foul trouble put in 18 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals and blocks, Derek Fisher clone Jameer Nelson had a stand out game scoring 27 points and Rashard Lewis contributed 22. For the Lakers it was a dissapointing finish to otherwise an outstanding game by Kobe who had 41 points and Derek Fisher who had 27 but not much contribution elsewhere.
Sasha on the last shot, "Those are the shots that I live for," Vujacic said. "When I saw it come out, I was just shocked. It is just painful."
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy on defending Kobe, "ESPN magazine did a story about how to defend LeBron James,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy joked. “I don’t think anybody is coming to me for that gig about defending Kobe. We better keep winning games, so I can stay employed.”
Phil on the cruelities playing on the road, “Those things are going to happen when you’re on the road,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “Those shots are more friendly at home, I guess.”
Phil on the team reverting back to old ways, "I was yelling at the guys, they kept giving the ball back to Kobe after he'd hit somebody in an open situation," Coach Phil Jackson said. "He was dead-legged out there and really gave us a great effort for three quarters, but that fourth quarter, he was tired."
Lakers looking like the Run "N" Gun Suns
And thats not exactly a compliment. The Lakers blew another lead in Orlando letting them back in the game which eventually lead to the loss. Lamar Odom was quick to notice that the Lakers are falling into a bad habit of giving teams confidence they can come back on them similar to the D'Antoni Suns, "It's just like when we used to play against Phoenix two seasons ago," Odom said. "We always felt like, 'Oh, we're going to get back in the game. They are playing an offensive style of basketball.' I think that's how teams right now might be looking at us. We're not making it hard enough for teams, as far as around the basket, as far as our defense. At the beginning of the year, maybe the first seven or eight or 10 games, we had teams that quit. It was like, 'This is too hard. We know we can't stop them. And they're making it hard for us on defense. Now, I feel like teams feel like we're going to let them back in the game"
Couldnt agree with Lamar more, although its understandable that its tough to keep up that pace and intensity for the entire game, the Lakers are easing up at the most crucial moments of the games. Lamar also had a great point about playing styles on the road compared to home, "You can't make it an offensive game on the road," Odom said. "That's not directed toward any one person on our team or any one individual. That's just how we've been approaching the game lately, I think, as a unit. We've been playing an offensive game or an offensive way of basketball."
The Lakers are currently allowing 98 points per game which is ranked 16 in the middle of the pack.
Week 9 Preview
Pau Gasol makes his return to where it all began for him in Memphis Tuesday night. Coming off 2 back to back heartbreaking losses, the Lakers look to avoid a 3 game losing streak. With Boston on the horizon Christmas day, the last game of the road trip is no gimme with the Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets who have been playing as well as anyone in the West.