Tag:Andrew Bynum
Posted on: February 9, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2011 7:06 pm
 

Berger: Carmelo to L.A. is 'more than a rumor'

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com provides the latest on the Carmelo Anthony trade talks between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers. Posted by Ben Golliver.

On this week's edition of CBSSports.com's NBA Drive video, Ken Berger provided the latest on possible trade discussion between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers, centered around All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony and big man Andrew Bynum.

"Well, it's more than a rumor," Berger said. "There is some definite interest among some people in the Lakers organization to possibly trading Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony. It's an opportunity that's just too good to pass up."

Berger said the reported trade discussions might also be an attempt by the Nuggets to improve on an offer from the New York Knicks, who are known to be interested in Anthony's services but reportedly aren't willing to sacrifice much via trade. "There's an element here of possible leverage play because the Nuggets would love to and need to have another team involved here otherwise they're just stuck negotiating against the Knicks," Berger said. "The Knicks aren't going to negotiate against themselves. It's become ever more complicated. I suspect this is not going to be the last twist and turn in this Carmelo road before the trade deadline."

Here's the video for this week's NBA Drive, hosted by Lauren Shehadi and featuring the conversation with Berger and a chat with my Eye on Basketball blogging buddy Royce Young.


Posted on: February 9, 2011 6:20 pm
 

Kobe Bryant compares Carmelo trade to aliens

The Los Angeles Lakers deny interest in trading for Denver Nuggets all-star forward Carmelo Anthony. Posted by Ben Golliver. carmelo-anthony-lakers

Yesterday, we noted a report that the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers were engaged in some talks surrounding All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony and big man Andrew Bynum.

Upon further discussion in our Eye On Basketball roundtable, we generally agreed that it didn't make a ton of sense for the Lakers, given the timing, the loss of Bynum from their front line, money owed to Anthony and his questionable fit in the immediate short-term.

Now comes word from the Los Angeles Times that the Lakers were equally skeptical at the notion of the trade.
But the Lakers denied it was on the table in the first place and insisted team executive Jim Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak were on the same page as far as trade opportunities.
Coach Phil Jackson chuckled at the rumors in general after the Lakers practiced Wednesday in Boston. “I haven't even entertained it,” Jackson said of trading for Anthony. “My first thought is why are these [media] people interrupting my life with these kind of rumors.”
Leave it to Lakers star Kobe Bryant to deny the rumors with a great one-liner.
“We don't really deal with the unknowns,” he said. “You might as well talk about UFOs, too.”
In related news, extraterrestial sources close to the planet Mars tell me that the Milky Way galaxy has expressed interest in Lakers forward Ron Artest. The galaxy is said to value Artest's defensive intensity and ability to "think outside the Earth."

In case you missed it: today's other Carmelo Anthony headlines...
Posted on: February 8, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 6:22 pm
 

Roundtable: Carmelo Anthony to the L.A. Lakers?

The CBSSports.com's Eye On Basketball team got together to debate the merits of a potential trade between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angelescarmelo-anthony-lakers Lakers that would swap Carmelo Anthony and Andrew Bynum. Posted by Ben Golliver.

This morning, we noted a report that the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers were discussing a possible swap of forward Carmelo Anthony and big man Andrew Bynum. Good idea? Bad idea? Other? We thought we'd talk it out. 

Matt Moore: So apparently there's some interest from L.A. Am I the only one who thinks this is madness? You just won back-to-back titles! You have the deepest, most talented roster in the NBA, and that includes Miami's Triad and Boston with umpteen bajillion HOFers (when factoring age). I just can't fathom why you would disrupt what is your biggest strength, your size and length, in order to add a high-usage star who may wind up busting your chemistry and who doesn't help you match up against Boston any better. To me, this is some desperation tinkering. I've never been a big Bynum guy, not since Tex Winter questioned his work ethic. But the facts remain. Big, study, super-tall dude who dunks and gets offensive rebounds. It's pretty simple: tall guys are good at basketball. Sure, Melo's a star, and a wiz offensively, but is that what's going to deliver L.A. the three-peat? 

For Melo, though, I feel like this is a dream. New York's home, sure, and it's the market he wants. But no one turns down a chance to play for L.A. (well, besides Raja Bell, who's awesome for not needing that kind of glamor). This gives him all the attention he wants, he knows L.A. will constantly work to build a championship around him after Kobe retires, he gets to play with his friend Bryant for the best coach of our time, and the weather's nice! This is like pouting about how you don't like your toys and your parents buying you Disney Land. 

Royce Young: Is this the trade crap Mitch Kupchak was hinting at last week? Trading for Carmelo Anthony? 

I guess if you want to catch the attention of your team, talking about landing the biggest fish in the pond is a good way to do it. 

But like you said, Matt, why does this make sense for the Lakers? They've never been about the long-term. It's a season by season thing for them. They always have money, they always have the Hollywood draw, so they're always going to be able to get players. In terms of winning a title THIS YEAR, I don't see how Carmelo improves them for that. 

The Lakers won the title last season because they had Andrew Bynum, and an Andrew Bynum that wasn't 100 percent. He's a difference maker on that team. If this is a move to try and find Kobe Bryant's heir apparent, that makes some sense, but Melo wouldn't be accepting that role for another three or four years. By that time, he'd be up for another extension. Short-term, it doesn't make sense for them to do, which is what the Lakers are all about. 

Ben Golliver: I tend to agree. Given the relative age of the Los Angeles Lakers' key pieces and their salary cap situation, this is clearly a win-now team, even more so than usual. For all the panicking of late, the Lakers are still one of the top two or three favorites to win the title. The risk in trading Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony, first and foremost, is one of timing rather than production. Bynum has been injured this season and in past seasons, so the Lakers are used to making due without him. They'd vastly prefer to have him available, especially against the Celtics in the Finals, but a Pau Gasol / Lamar Odom frontline is more than capable. A Bynum trade would be felt more deeply further down the road, as the rest of the Lakers continue to age and more is required of their talented, young big man.

But, for now, the biggest issue would be: Could Anthony and Kobe Bryant figure out a way to play off each other and get enough shots/touches to make things work this spring? Would they be able to do so without compromising what Gasol gives L.A. inside? Anthony's introduction into the offense would turn LA's usage rates upside down, and his strength in isolation situations might take some adjustment time to integrate into the rest of the triangle offense. 

This would be an even more complicated version of the LeBron James / Dwyane Wade dynamic, as neither Bryant not Anthony is a natural born play-maker, and L.A. isn't likely to default to heavy pick and roll usage like Miami has this season. There would be no training camp and preseason to iron these things out. This would be wholesale change, on the fly, in the middle of a playoff chase that L.A. is already leading. Even given Anthony's age and his ability to take over the alpha dog role from Bryant as Bryant continues to age, the issue of timing -- and how it compromises this year's title run -- would give me serious pause if I'm L.A. We saw how Miami struggled out of the gates this fall. If you're Phil Jackson or Lakers management, do you really want to start that struggling, get-to-know-you process in March? 

Matt Moore: Great point, Ben. Chemistry adjustments are always difficult, and that's before bringing Kobe Bryant into the picture. This team needs to be really careful about things because there have already been flare ups in the team. This isn't a close, bonded team, it's one that walks on thin ice around Phil and Kobe. And you're bringing in a guy who hasn't had the coolest head or the smallest ego in his career. 

And for Denver, what possible good does this do? I continue to be stunned that they walked away from Harris-Favors-3-No.1s. That's an obscene package for one player, even a superstar, if you're not looking to take on major salary. Now they're looking at Bynum only? That's $15 mil next season. You're going to be paying $15 million for a triple-knee-injury still-raw center whose never had to carry a franchise in any meaningful capacity? How much lower is Ujiri looking to drop value, here? What's next, trading Melo for Stephen Jackson, straight up?

Royce Young: That's my main question too, Matt. Does this really improve both teams all that much? 

A healthy Bynum is definitely a building block piece. He's something you go for. But he has constant questions surrounding him and his knee. 

And how does Melo fit in with Kobe? How are there possibly enough shots for those two to be happy. If Ron Artest was frustrated with Kobe and Pau Gasol hogging too much offense, he's really going to hate playing with Melo and Kobe. 

Matt Moore: And all this is before we start to look at La La Vasquez and Khloe Kardashian on the same team, along with Monica. It's like a superego superstorm.

Ben Golliver: Basketball wives aren't exactly my forte, so I'll let that one slide (for now) to say that I'm not crazy about this trade for Denver, either. Picks, youth, money and flexibility would be much better. But I'm not dead set against the idea of Bynum on a team that's been known for physical, hard-nosed play and solid rebounding. I think he's a building block piece who, although you have to pay him and manage his injury situation, can keep you in the playoff race for years to come. If you can find a way to weasel some picks in a related trade and dump Chauncey Billups on someone, this could become the NBA trade equivalent of settling for the ugly Kardashian sister. Did I just make a nearly-relevant pop culture zing? Let's end it there.
Posted on: February 8, 2011 12:34 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 1:34 pm
 

Report: Lakers step into Melo talks

Are the Lakers in pursuit of a Carmelo Anthony trade?
Posted by Matt Moore



You knew it was only really a matter of time, really. The Los Angeles Lakers don't let opportunities to obtain star players go by unnoticed. That's not what they do. 

ESPN reports: 
The Denver Nuggets have had preliminary discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers on a Carmelo Anthony trade, league sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard on Tuesday.

The Lakers' package would be built around center Andrew Bynum. Denver has no interest in Ron Artest and isn't particularly interested in Lamar Odom either, sources said. A straight-up deal of Bynum for Anthony works financially, but there could be other players involved since Denver would look to shed more salary if possible.
via Sources: Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets have initial Carmelo Anthony talks - ESPN Los Angeles .

Before you ingest this information and get all excited, I'd like to give you this: it's a 12-foot-by-12-foot piece of salt. 

For the Lakers to do this deal would mean surrendering their true biggest advantage, their overwhelming size. Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom make up a 20'10'' rotating frontcourt. It's the reason they're able to disrupt so many passes, because passing between them is like floating a frisbee through a forest of sequoias. Taking on Anthony removes that element, as Pau Gasol would shift to center, and Odom to power forward. There's no big, physical force down low to guard the beasts or deter drives. Pau Gasol's an able defender, but he's not the same intimidating force Bynum is, even considering his injury issues. 

Furthermore, bringing Carmelo Anthony on would mean a largely decreased role for Kobe Bryant, and the rest of the Lakers. Are Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Ron Artest willing to take fewer shots? Because that's what it would mean. Otherwise you're talking about bringing on a largely offensive player and asking him not to shoot as much. And Jim Buss, who is heavily involved from the organization's perspective, is notoriously pro-Bynum. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News  reports that Buss shot down such an offer recently .

And that's just from the Lakers' perspective. What about the fact that in this deal, the Nuggets would pick up no pick? The Lakers traded their 2011 first-rounder to the Nets (who ironically had included it in their initial bid for Anthony).  So the Nugggets would not be able to acquire a first-round pick this season in the deal. They would go from the Nets deal (Harris, Favors, three first-rounders) to Andrew Bynum and no pick. That's the bottom of the barrel. Bynum's a fine player, when healthy, and can be a monster as he gets older (when healthy), but I'm not sure he's worth even the proposed Knicks deal (when healthy). Are you getting a pattern yet? 

But on the other hand, the Lakers always have a way of getting their man, and as Masai Ujiri continues to frustrate GMs with his insistence on "more, more, more." By continuing that play, he may set himself up to get less than what he wants.  Adding Anthony would add a fourth All-Star level player to the Lakers, making them not just the most talented team in the league, which they already are, but one of the most talented teams in NBA history. 

There's one more element to consider here. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak almost never does deals in public. The Pau Gasol trade came out of nowhere. Each deal he does is done very close to the ground and the Lakers' organization is notoriously leak-proof. So if the Lakers aren't the ones leaking this trade, who is?  It may be an effort from the Nuggets to exert more leverage (lost in the Nets breakdown) on their dealings with New York, or it could be Melo's representatives putting pressure on New York to step up. 

The tangled web gets even more tangled. These are the days of our Melo.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Lakers C Andrew Bynum out with bruised left knee

Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum is out with knee soreness on Tuesday night. Posted by Ben Golliver. andrew-bynum

I've been consistent in advocating patience and calm in assessing the Los Angeles Lakers this season, as the mid-season ups and downs are inevitable and the Lakers remain the most talented and tested team in the Western Conference. But if you're in the market for a good reason to freak out about L.A.'s title hopes, Andrew Bynum's health is as good as it gets.

Bynum, who didn't return from offseason surgery on his right knee until Dec. 14, is out for Tuesday night's game against the Houston Rockets after an MRI revealed "a bone bruise on his left knee," according to Lakers.com. This after Bynum missed practice due to knee soreness on Monday. Going forward, Bynum is officially listed as day-to-day.

Bynum is averaging 11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 24.6 minutes per game so far this season, and he managed 11 points, six rebounds and a block in 28 minutes against the Boston Celtics on Sunday. He is a talented, big body that causes problems for the other Western Conference contenders and he would be a critical piece in a potential Finals match-up with either the Celtics, Orlando Magic or Miami Heat.  

While it's not clear whether Bynum's left knee soreness is a compensation injury stemming from his surgery and rehab on his right knee, or if it's entirely unrelated, I'm sanctioning a raise of the Lakers panic level from 0 to 1 based on this news. The Lakers are talented enough to beat Boston with Bynum, but not without him. As championship-or-bust is the ridiculously high standard that the Lakers operate under as back-to-back champions, any knee issue related to Bynum, who has dealt with them in the past, is enough cause for Lakers fans to get a little nervous. That the MRI came back clean otherwise, however, prevents this from being anything except an issue worth monitoring closely in the short-term.

Following Tuesday's game against the Rockets, the Lakers next play the Spurs in a nationally-televised game at Staples Center on Thursday night.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 1:28 am
Edited on: February 1, 2011 1:29 am
 

Lakers GM open to considering a trade

With Lakers underperforming, GM Mitch Kupchak says he "may have to look into a trade."
Posted by Matt Moore

The Lakers are 1-5 against top echelon teams. Phil Jackson couldn't care less. Kobe Bryant is beyond angry. And General Manager Mitch Kupchak? He's talking T-word. Trade. From the Los Angeles Times:

"Yes . . . I may have to look into a trade, but I'm not saying we have "talked to other teams yet, Kupchak said. "We have not been playing up to our level and I dont know why. Maybe its complacency. Im not sure."
via Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak says hes thought about making a trade - latimes.com.


A trade? By the defending champs? Could this be happening? Even with the measured and cautious words being tossed around by Kupchak, that's a pretty stunning development even if the Lakers are simply considering a trade. This is a team that has looked every bit like a Finals contender, unless they've been facing an elite team this year. It's also a team that's notorious for not taking teams seriously, having gone seven games with a Yao-less Rockets squad in 2009, having a terrible second half last year, and letting the Suns push them in the Western Conference Finals using a zone, for crying out loud. You have to think this is just an emotional quote from Kupchak revealing a frustration with the team's play, or at least a Jackson-like motivational tactic.

Even stranger than the idea of the Lakers needing to make a trade is the idea of what trade they would be able to make. Every Laker of consequence with any value, contract or skill-wise, has at least two more years left on their deals. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are obviously not even in this discussion. So what are the next options?
  • Lamar Odom- Trade Status: Obscenely unlikely. Odom is the quintessential heart and soul of this club. He's found a home there and has flourished when his head is plugged in. What's more, he's part of the reason for the Lakers' absurd length advantage. When Odom is on, the Lakers are nearly unstoppable. Moving him would garner the best set of assets, but who could they get for him, with nearly $9 million on the books for next season, even with his 2013 salary non-guaranteed at $8.2 million?
  • Andrew Bynum- Trade Status: Pretty unlikely. Bynum has been involved in trade rumors for years due to his inconsistency, rehab work ethic, and injuries. Yet it was his toughness fighting through the Finals last spring on a torn ligament that helped assure the Lakers a title. He's now considered an invaluable part of the offense, and his improving defense, combined with his willingness to give a hard foul, means he's the backbone of what has been a very soft Lakers interior lately. Combine that with the difficulty of getting teams to invest in someone with his injury history, and the near-$15 million on the books for next year and a team option for over $16 million the next, and it's hard to see a suitor for Bynum that would keep the Lakers in contention.
  • Ron Artest- Trade Status: Difficult: From zero to hero to zero again. Artest struggled all last year trying to learn the Triangle, was terrible at times in the playoffs, then hit the biggest hot of his career to help clinch a title for the Lakers (as well as a tip-in in the Western Conference Finals) and was everyone's hero. This year? Back to the doghouse. If anyone's to be moved, it's probably Artest, but that says more about where Ron's sunk to rather than where his value is at. Getting anything for someone who's been such a pain for so many teams with over $21 million left on his contract after this year is difficult. When it's Ron Artest? Even harder.
  • Luke Walton- Trade Status: Ha-ha-ha-ha: Yes, because I'm sure that what GMs with a valuable commodity are thinking is "Oh, we can get the 28th pick in the draft and Luke Walton with over $11 million left on his contract over the next two years? Who wouldn't do that deal?" Walton's contract is slowly reaching movable status after an ill-advised extension, but he's a long ways away from upgrade-bait. 
  • Steve Blake- Trade Status- Limited: Blake's got three years after this one for a combined roughly $14 million, is a serviceable point guard, and fits easy into a rotation. So he's got some value. But in terms of trying to get a major upgrade, he'd have to be packaged with one of the above candidates in order for it to make any sense. He can act as icing on the cake, but even then, having three years left on his deal may make it a little too sweet for most. 
  • Derek Fisher - Trade Status: Laughable: The Lakers would never give up their most veteran leader who everyone came up to and thanked after winning the last title. Bryant would never stand to lose the guy he's been to the playoffs with the most. Not everyone can run the Triangle point guard position... okay, that's a lie. Pretty much everyone can dribble the ball up, pass it to Kobe Bryant, and then go sit in a corner and often get blown by on defense. But Fisher's hit too many huge shots in Laker history to be forsaken. And no one is looking to pay him another $6.8 million for two more years. 
  • Shannon Brown- Trade Status: Intriguing, if unlikely: Brown failed to fetch any significant offers on the open market this summer, so who's going to trade for him now, even in a career year for him? He's got great upside and has looked like a possible building block, but who doesn't when they're running next to this team? Brown's cheap and his contract is flexible, but he's not going to cash in any huge superstar on the open market. 
  • Matt Barnes- Trade Status: Injured: Barnes is injured for a few more weeks, his contract's too low to matter, and the only teams that would be interested in him are contenders, the sort of teams that would never give up valuable assets to the defending champs. 

So while Kupchak may be looking to try and upgrade his team, Michael Heisley and Chris Wallace aren't walking through that door. Even with the Nuggets being dragged slowly towards the inescapable black hole in the reality that they have to trade Carmelo Anthony, and the Sixers wanting to offload Iguodala to make room for their rebuilding project, or the Suns in near full-on blow-up mode, no one's going to be looking to the Lakers to cash in.  The Lakers are on top, and have spent a lot to get to the top. They're loaded with talent, but it's not talent that garners a lot on the market. 

After all, how do you possibly get great return on trading members of the most talented team in the league? Instead, I think the Lakers will take the Phil Jackson approach. Sit back, relax, coast through the next four months, and flip the switch when it counts. They've done it before. They'll do it again. 
Posted on: January 28, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2011 3:20 am
 

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

What Sunday's Celtics-Lakers game means for the Boston Celtics in the first rematch since the 2010 Finals. 

Posted by Matt Moore



On Sunday, Boston travels to L.A. for Modern Celtics-Lakers XX.  The 20th time these two have met since the 07-08 season (twice in the regular season for three years, plus 13 playoff games) will still represent what many feel is a clash of the two best teams in basketball currently, as well as the resumption of the oldest and greatest rivalry the sport has ever known. With Los Angeles at 33-13 and the Celtics 35-10, the two look every bit ready to see each other once more in the Finals, even with challengers like San Antonio and Miami in their path. 

This rivalry extends beyond the history and legacies of their franchises, though. There's a genuine dislike between the two teams, even if they share a mutual respect.  The Celtics' brutally tough, bullying defense and marksman like precision clashes organically with the Lakers' smooth ball movement and overpowering height and athleticism run through the Triangle.  Doc Rivers' explosive motivational coaching approach runs in contrast to Phil Jackson's zen-like trust in his players and press-conference tweaking.  And at the end of it, they just don't like one another. 

But as the two meet in the rare regular season game that actually does seem to matter (although afterward the loser will predictably dismiss such claims), what does this matchup actually mean for Boston? 

Just for Kicks

Kevin Garnett has never been one to back down from an opportunity for dramatics. As much as his reputation is for visceral toughness and unbridled intensity, he is also a showman.  While the legitimacy of his stanchion-smashing, cobra-weaving, "Anything is possible" lunacy is up for debate, he does know how to send a message in outright terms. Nothing proves that like the shoes it was announced Garnett would be wearing for the game. Yes, his shoes. Have a look, courtesy of Nice Kicks /Aaron Knows and The Basketball Jones :




On the tongue there? That's the Celtics all time record against the Lakers, 152-120. The shoe is delicately titled "Beat L.A.."  Kevin Garnett had shoes produced for one game.  If that doesn't serve as proof of Garnett's intentions in this game, nothing will. It's just his feet, but in basketball terms, that's as good as wearing a T-shirt that reads "I plan on kicking your face in because that's what my team does to your team."  It's an outright signal of the Celtics' entire attitude, which isn't just "We're going to win" but "We're going to win because we're better than you, our franchise is better than you, and our collective being in every way is superior to yours."

It's why the Celtics don't really respect Orlando, nor do they show real signs of respect for anyone. It's part of their own personal code of conduct. But it's amped to another level with L.A. That will always be part of it as the players seek to carry on the legacy of the game built into the rivalry. But it's even more prevalent because of how things were the last time these two stepped on a court together. 

Revenge and the Art of Maniacal Maintenance

Losing to the Lakers in the Finals was devastating for the Celtics. Losing a championship series is hard for any player, but these are the Celtics, a group of veterans trying to make good on promises to themselves as well as their fans that they would collect multiple rings once among players of their caliber. Beyond that, though, losing to L.A. creates a sense of failure beyond just disappointment. You've let down the players that came before you, the players who managed to beat the Lakers, who protected that legacy (despite the Lakers having won quite a few of their own throughout the years).  It's the darkest of all places, as Garnett told WEEI this fall about his mindset after Game 7: 
“Very dark, to be honest, dark. ‘Just leave me alone, let me be my myself. I don’t want to deal with anything right now. Let me just be in a dark place.’ Just the way I replay the game over and over in my mind, trying to get a resolution to some type of place to where you can settle with it. I never found it, but that’s what it is. I say it’s fuel to the fire. [Expletive? (Bleeped completely out] .“
via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Kevin Garnett Goes To A Dark Place In The Off-Season .

Paul Pierce wasn't in a great place afterward either, when WEEI spoke to him about it: 
How long does it take a competitive person like you to get over a seventh-game loss in the NBA (Finals)? A week? A month? Ever?

“I still haven’t gotten over it. It’s tough. Because you envision back, and say, ‘If we could have done this different, that different in the game, it would have been a different outcome.’ So, it’s hard. You think about the what ifs and all of that. I don’t think you ever forget it.”

What’s the process? Do you go in your bedroom for a couple of days and sleep, and then don’t shave for a while, or don’t bathe, and then finally come out of the shell?

“I didn’t talk to people for a long time. I didn’t watch any basketball for a long time. I sort of kind of did go into a shell. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t even want to go out and eat for a while, because you just felt that bad about the loss. But then as I got back into the gym and working out, I just used it for motivation and just sort of loosened up from there.”
via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Paul Pierce on Losing Game 7 .

This is just speculation, but I'm betting Glen Davis' reaction was to eat a muffin. Or a boar whole, or something. Regardless, things were pretty rough for the C's after that loss. 

Nothing will really provide the Celtics with a satisfied feeling of revenge short of winning the championship, preferably over the Lakers this spring.  But this game is a chance to send a message.  It's an opportunity to go into the Lakers' house and show them that they are still every bit as tough as they have been, and even tougher with their improved depth. It's a chance to illustrate that they are the ones in control of this rivalry, even after last spring, and that even though this is just a regular season game, they can dominate at will. 

This isn't about just showing L.A. who's boss, it's about testing themselves. Being 35-10 means little to them because they don't care about beating the Nets, or the Bobcats, or even the Magic or Heat.  They want to show they can beat the Lakers.  Everything else is just a means to get there. 

And in part, the Celtics want the opportunity to show that they're right: Kendrick Perkins was the reason they lost. 

Man Down, Ring Down

Losing Kendrick Perkins before Game 7 hurt .  One of the Celtics' biggest advantages against the Lakers as opposed to nearly every team in the league is their ability to counter the Lakers' length with their own interior defense.  Perkins isn't a behemoth like Andrew Bynum, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in toughness, physicality, and savvy.  Losing him meant the Celtics lost just enough of an edge down low.

At the end of the matchup considerations, though, is this: the Celtics were without a starter for Game 7 of the Finals.  That's enough to prompt anyone to keep an excuse at the back of their minds, even if they'll publicly give the other team credit.  Perkins means a lot to this team, and even in limited minutes now that he's back, you can see what he brings the team.  

Sunday is an opportunity to showcase what they look like at full-strength, should they stay healthy till then (which is far from guaranteed, this is the Celtics, after all).  Even with Shaquille O'Neal nursing an injury and Jermaine O'Neal still struggling through his knee problems, this is the Celtics, at their core.  Sunday provides an opportunity to show the difference in the Celtics with and without Perkins. Perkins wasn't even expected to be available for this game, supposedly out another week.

But of course Tuesday he pops up healthy.  That's how this works. Some, like myself, never questioned that Perkins would be back for this game. This game matters to him. You'll have a hard time keeping him out of a game like this, even in the regular season. Because this is like a dress rehearsal.

Trial Run

There's no way to duplicate the intensity of the Finals, but this will be as close as it will get for a while, at least until the Lakers visit Boston in a few weeks.  And it's a chance to test things for future reference. How will Shaquille O'Neal do against Andrew Bynum?  How will Nate Robinson do as backup against Shannon Brown or Steve Blake?  What can a healthy Marquis Daniels do against Ron Artest

These are the questions that will be in Doc Rivers' mind, as they try and get a regular season win, but also try and figure out some things to rely on should these two meet again.  There's no way to block it out, though they may try. "It's just another game" will likely be a refrain at practice and shootaround. Don't be fooled. This is the setup, the first act of the 2011 chapter of Lakers-Celtics.  Let's draw the curtain, and see what happens.




Posted on: January 17, 2011 12:31 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2011 12:45 pm
 

Game Changer: Clippers top Lakers in LA

The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the battle for LA and the San Antonio Spurs easily handled the Denver Nuggets at home. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer. 

THE BIG ONE: YOU WILL BEND TO Blake Griffin 

Los Angeles Clippers rookie Blake Griffin is not only phenomenally athletic, he plays the role of "rookie that doesn't care about your veteran way of doing things" absolutely perfectly. 

Griffin's Clippers defeated the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and while it certainly wasn't Griffin's most efficient night, he left his stamp on the game in the closing seconds.

With a comfortable lead and the win virtually secured, Griffin continued to battle hard underneath the glass during a free throw attempt, prompting Lakers forward Lamar Odom to swing him by the jersey for his perceived unnecessary hustle and physical play. The two forwards had a staredown which resulted in four players being ejected (video here) and the Lakers left a little salty at Griffin's lack of decorum in a situation that happens hundreds of times over a long NBA career.

Will Griffin still chase every rebounding attempt with absolute ferocity when he's Odom's age? Possibly not, but it's not out of the question. Sunday's exchange was simply proof that when it comes to "motor" -- that all-purpose scouting term that combines hustle, energy level, activity and desire -- Griffin, even as a rookie, rocks the most cylinders and has the most horsepower. 

Not only does he go hard, though, Griffin has shown in recent games that, despite being soft-spoken and even-keeled off the court, he excels in the macho on-court NBA climate of punking and trashtalking. He's been delivering stares after dunks for months now, but his success as a rookie has made him a target of mental attacks from his opponents. Against the Miami Heat last week, Griffin responded to some trash-talking by throwing down a ridiculous double-pump dunk and then letting the Heat know about it. Here, against the Lakers, Griffin holds his ground as his teammates comically come to his defense, as if anyone was really going to mess with Griffin one-on-one, face-to-face.  

Griffin is still finding his way in the league, as demonstrated by Portland Trail Blazers point guard Andre Miller body-slamming him in retaliation for some rebounding skirmishes. But Griffin's message to the rest of the NBA has become clear and consistent: you guys will adjust to me and my talent, not the other way around. 

So far it's working out pretty well for him.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:


Tony Parker: 30 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals on 11-15 shooting in 32 minutes in a San Antonio Spurs home victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Blake Griffin: 18 points, 15 rebounds, three assists in 38 minutes in a Los Angeles Clippers home victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Andrew Bynum: 18 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks on 7-11 shooting in 32 minutes in a Los Angeles Lakers road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

DON'T MISS:

WHIMSY:

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan serves as a spotter as his teammate does a pre-game handstand.   clippers-handstand

HIGHLIGHT REEL PART ONE:

J.R. Smith is the best in-game dunker in the NBA (only LeBron James comes close). One of the reasons why: Smith doesn't care at all about time/score situations. Even in blowouts, he's looking to put you on a poster. Here, down big against the San Antonio Spurs, Smith rises up and over Spurs big man Tiago Splitter for a nasty one-handed dunk.


HIGHLIGHT REEL PART TWO:

Here's Splitter's attempt at revenge, a two-handed dunk in transition that was completely unnecessary because the clock was set to run out. Splitter violated the NBA rule of "no unnecessary shooting if the opposition agrees not to foul or play defense" and karma got the best of him. Splitter went crashing to the floor after the uncontested dunk attempt, landing hard on his backside. The good news: no injury was sustained during the course of this blooper.


FINAL THOUGHT:

The Carmelo Anthony saga is driving everyone a little nuts, but leave it to his Nuggets teammate J.R. Smith to find a funny side. Quoted by NBA.com, Smith said the Nuggets give Anthony some grief: "We ask him, 'What are you gonna look like in a Nets uniform?,' How cold it's going to be out there. What (city) he's gonna end up in? He could be playing for some team in Alaska."
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com