Posted on: April 12, 2011 9:27 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Sprained ankle, bruised thigh, back spasms -- those are the normal things that keep players out of games. But chicken pox? You don't see that one every day.
And that's what's holding guard Steve Blake out for the Lakers Tuesday against the Spurs. Chicken pox. Seriously.
Along with that Matt Barnes is questionable with a sore right knee. He'll be a game-time decision.
The Laker bench has already been struggling a bit and has become a pretty good weakness for the team. Without both Blake and Barnes, things are even worse. Shannon Brown will likely get all the minutes behind Derek Fisher in place of Blake.
Of course the Lakers have dropped five consecutive games and are now actually a half game back of the Mavericks for second in the West. Another loss tonight versus the Spurs and the Lakers are in real trouble.
Posted on: April 11, 2011 2:12 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 4:21 pm
Can the Los Angeles Lakers survive the Western Conference for their chance at a three-peat? Posted by Ben Golliver.
The last thing that the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans are thinking about on Monday is the NBA Finals. The team has lost five straight for the first time in years, getting outrun by the slowest team in the NBA (the Portland Trail Blazers) on Friday night and out-executed down the stretch by a bunch of youngsters (the Oklahoma City Thunder) on Sunday. It’s never panic time when you’re the most talented and most tested team in the NBA, but things feel a lot different in mid-April than they did as recently as March, when the Lakers looked unbeatable, running off nine straight wins and briefly making a push for the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed.
To his credit, Lakers coach Phil Jackson is saying all the right things, calling out his players’ professionalism in Portland, saying that any talk of the Finals is “ludicrous” and stating very simply according to ESPNLA.com : “We're not concerned with anything in the Eastern Conference at all. Nothing.” Jackson didn’t win any of his 11 NBA titles as a coach by looking ahead, and he certainly isn’t going to jeopardize his run at a fourth three-peat by allowing his players to skip a step.
While it’s Jackson’s job to keep the focus tight, it’s our job to break out the wide angle lens. And the panoramic view of the Western Conference still looks much like it has for the three seasons: It’s the Lakers, and then everybody else. Whether you prefer a more subjective approach or a numbers-based outlook, the Lakers make dominant arguments.
LA sports the league’s fiercest competitor, Kobe Bryant, who at 32 years old is still cranking out 25 points per game and maintaining his 45% percent or better shooting percentage for the sixth straight season. He’s the best one-on-one offensive player in the Western Conference and he lives for the moment. His resume says it all: five rings, two Finals MVPs, countless game-winners. The Lakers’ story starts and ends with his ability to impose his will on both ends of the court, extract maximum effort from his teammates and make the key plays down the stretch.
Inside, the Lakers have the best trio of bigs in the game: Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Each has his weaknesses: Bynum is slow in transition, Gasol gets knocked for being soft and floating and Odom has dealt with questions about his consistency and focus for years. But together they are an overwhelming force, particularly when L.A.’s ball movement is humming. Gasol, who averaged 18.8 points and 10.1 rebounds, is a multi-dimensional threat, a skilled, fluid, long big man who is a nightmare match-up for all of the other top Western Conference teams. Bynum fills the space-eating and finish-at-the-rim roles well, while Odom can attack off the dribble, make effort plays defensively and gives L.A. some versatility in defending combo forwards.
The Bryant, Gasol, Bynum, Odom core is supplemented by Ron Artest – a physical wing who excels at playoff head games and making stars uncomfortable – and veteran guards Derek Fisher and Steve Blake – a heady, tested floor general and a knockdown shooter. Toss in Shannon Brown for some backcourt athleticism off the bench and Matt Barnes for more bullying hijinks and that’s the squad.
This group is the West’s favorite because they can beat you in every way. The Lakers are the No. 7 offense in the league through Sunday, a number that’s a little misleading because they’ve slipped a bit during this recent slide. Make no mistake: they can carve you up or pound it down your throat on any given night. Defensively, the Lakers are No. 6 in the league and currently rank as the Western Conference’s top unit. They excel at controlling the backboards – the No. 4 overall rebounding team – and protecting the basketball – the No. 2 team in terms of limiting turnovers. Despite all the harping on Bryant for breaking out of the team’s offense and doing his own thing, the Lakers are even a top 10 team when it comes to assist rate, a measure of what percentage of a team’s baskets come via assist. To boil it down: other than staying motivated late in the season, the Lakers simply don’t have a true weakness.
For this reason, they are the nightmare match-up for each of the West’s other contenders.
If the playoffs were to start today, the Lakers would have their dream first round match-up: they would be the No. 2 seed facing the No. 7 seed New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets have had a great run under first year coach Monty Williams, but they’ve essentially played .500 basketball over the last few months and lost starting power forward and go-to inside option David West. To make matters worse, franchise point guard Chris Paul is dealing with knee issues, as he had fluid drained last week and failed to score against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, the first time that’s happened during his NBA career. If that series goes five games, consider New Orleans lucky.
The Lakers are most likely to face the Dallas Mavericks, another team that’s stumbled in recent weeks, in the second round. Any way you slice that one, and regardless of who has home court advantage, the match-ups come up in LA’s favor. The Lakers have plenty of guys to harass Dirk Nowitzki, while Bryant is fully capable of making life miserable for any of Dallas’s perimeter defenders. The only tough cover for LA is Jason Terry, but that’s a secondary concern. A recent Lakers blowout of the Mavericks, in which Dallas lost its cool, felt like a fairly accurate playoff preview. This series wouldn’t be a landslide, but the Lakers are simply too skilled, top-to-bottom, to trip up.
Things get more interesting, though, when we get to the Western Conference Finals discussion.
Against the Spurs, the Lakers clearly have an overwhelming frontcourt advantage, with Tim Duncan unable to compete single-handedly with LA’s trees. His colleagues either too small or too old to provide an adequate counterbalance to the Gasol/Bynum/Odom triad. San Antonio will turn to its new-look, super-efficient offense to make up for their lack of size, but it’s unclear whether they will be able to consistently generate the pace necessary to make it work. The Spurs will also be seriously out-manned by the size, length and strength of LA’s wings with no good match-up for Lamar Odom. As long as Tony Parker doesn’t completely dissect LA’s perimeter defense, LA should be able to survive what is always a serious test.
The most intriguing Western Conference Finals match-ups, though, would come if either the Oklahoma City Thunder or Denver Nuggets are able to slip through that side of the bracket. As the Thunder showed on Sunday, they’re not afraid of the Lakers and they are talented enough and boast enough star power, in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, to make life really, really difficult for anyone they face, including the defending champions. In Denver, it’s a new-model approach to success in the NBA: a star-free, all-quality rotation that never lets up and executes extremely well. Both the Thunder and the Nuggets are riding high coming into the playoffs – both are 8-2 in their last 10 – and both are very well coached teams that play very well at home.
But even with the Thunder and the Nuggets, the arguments for the Lakers advancing are easier to make than the arguments against. This group of Lakers has beaten a super-efficient offense: the 2009 Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals. This group of Lakers has beaten a hard-working, team-centric group with great balance: the 2010 Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. This group of Lakers beat the Thunder last year and beat a good approximation of the Nuggets when they downed the high-octane, hard-charging Phoenix Suns in last season’s Western Conference Finals.
LA has everything you need to be a true contender: good health at the moment, experience, top-end talent, solid coaching, a go-to scoring option a recent track record of success against their biggest threats and, of course, the rings. The Lakers certainly can’t take anything for granted, not with the quality of competition in the West this season, but they take our title as “Finals Favorite” with ease.
Posted on: April 1, 2011 6:11 pm
Edited on: April 1, 2011 6:37 pm
Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes has been suspended for one game for tossing Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Terry Stotts to the ground.Posted by Ben Golliver.
On Thuesday, we noted a heated exchange occurred during the fourth quarter of a Los Angeles Lakers blowout victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Everything started when Mavericks guard Jason Terry shoved Lakers guard Steve Blake to the ground but things really got ugly when Lakers forward Matt Barnes got wrapped up in a bear hug by Mavericks assistant coach Terry Stotts.
After attempting to extricate himself multiple times, Barnes eventually turned around and knocked Stotts to the ground, getting himself ejected and assuring himself of a suspension in the process.
On Friday, the NBA announced that Barnes would be suspended for one game without pay.
Matt Barnes of the Los Angeles Lakers has been suspended one game without pay for escalating an on-court altercation and actions following his ejection, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
The incident occurred with 9:23 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 110-82 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on March 31. Barnes will serve his suspension tonight when the Lakers visit the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.Honestly, Barnes got off fairly easily here. Responding to a non-player involved in the scuffle sets a bad precedent and the NBA easily could have laid down the hammer given that Stotts was manhandled.
Barnes, for his part, was unapologetic. He took to Twitter on Friday afternoon to say he viewed the suspension as an "extra day of rest" for his knee and that the Mavericks could be beaten by being "punked."
I get an extra day of rest for my knee. Ill be watching the game 2nite w/the rest of the laker fans, on tv. All good team will keep it Rolln 2nite vs the Jazz.. Ill be bak sunday.. Appreciate the support from all the lakeshow fans.. RESPECT!!
Also another thing NO ONES worried bout wat Jason Terry is talkn bout everyone remembers the 07 season Me & the Golden St homies laid out the blueprint on how to beat Dallas.. "PUNK'EM" Aint **** changed homey.. So enough w/the small talkWell, after reading that I think it's clear that this suspension was completely meaningless. Something tells me we haven't heard the last of Barnes' antics this season.
Posted on: April 1, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: April 1, 2011 11:48 am
Lakers are pretty happy with their fights and ejections in blowout win over Mavericks.
Posted by Matt Moore
As we brought you Thursday night, the Lakers and Mavs had an ugly little set of tussles resulting in multiple ejections, starting with Jason Terry shoving Steve Blake and followed by Matt Barnes shoving down a Mavericks assistant.
Turns out the Lakers are pretty proud of themselves for standing up to 6-2 Jason Terry and an assistant coach. From the Los Angeles Times:
"I think we all reacted well," said Pau Gasol, who had 20 points -- a correction from the original stats, which had him with 19 -- as well as seven rebounds. "The bench kept its cool, and the guys on the floor did what they had to do. Basically, they just stood up to what was in front of them. They werent trying to create anything.:"It was good to see our guys handled it pretty well."via Lakers 110, Mavericks 82: Wild night at Staples - PE.com - Professional Sports.
In reality, the Lakers did need to stand up for Blake. Terry did shove Blake unprovoked and it's important to send messages. But it's that constant talk of message sending that shows a lot about the Lakers' identity when it comes to toughness.
The Lakers have had their toughness questioned since 2008 when the Celtics bullied them in a dominating six-game set. Since then, despite two titles, including one over those same Celtics, questions have remained about the Lakers' toughness. Most of this stems from Pau Gasol being a traditional "soft Euro" which usually just means he's really good at basketball. The addition of Ron Artest was seen as a move to improve the toughness of the team, and Barnes was brought on in the same vein. This of course ignores the fact that basketball is a game of who can put the ball in the hoop the most, not who's the biggest and baddest, but playoff basketball preaches that you need that level of aggression.
The Lakers seem to have found it. If Andrew Bynum's massive frame wasn't enough to dissuade teams from wanting to mix it up physically, the Lakers have shown they are willing to engage.
Literally everything is going L.A.'s way right now.
Posted on: April 1, 2011 1:46 am
Edited on: April 1, 2011 6:24 pm
Staples Center security had to forcibly remove a fan during the fourth quarter of a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. Posted by Ben Golliver.
As we've already detailed, the fourth quarter of Thursday night's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks got heated. Mavericks guard Jason Terry shoved Steve Blake to the ground, prompting an extended fracas that resulted in a total of four ejections. Meanwhile, Lakers forward Matt Barnes threw Terry Stotts, a Dallas Mavericks assistant coach, to the ground as well.
But the physical altercations weren't limited to the court. Staples Center security had to forcibly remove a fan who attempted to charge on the court near the Mavericks bench shortly after the fight broke out.
Play was interrupted as Lakers forward Lamar Odom was about to shoot his second free throw, with the Lakers leading, 90-78, with 7:58 remaining in the game. The Mavericks bench stood up as the commotion took place behind them but roughly five red coat wearing officers dragged the fan up the steps to the concourse and away from the game.
Here's video of the incident.
Here's a replay. Look carefully in the upper right hand corner and you can see the fan charging towards the court at a high rate of speed before being intercepted by security.
Kudos to the security team, who will all probably get commendations for their quick work and on-the-spot reactions.
Posted on: April 1, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: April 1, 2011 6:17 pm
Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry starts a fracas by shoving Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake to the ground and drawing a flagrant foul. Posted by Ben Golliver.
The fourth quarter of an otherwise routine Los Angeles Lakers home win over the Dallas Mavericks turned ugly when Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry shoved Lakers guard Steve Blake to the ground with two hands, prompting an extended skirmish that resulted in multiple ejections.
With the Lakers leading 90-73 with 9:22 remaining in the game. Blake drove to the basket and was discarded by Terry. Immediately taking exception to the foul, Blake popped up and jawed in Terry's face while an official and multiple members of both teams attempted to intervene. Lakers forward Matt Barnes came through to give Terry a pretty strong shove which set off more pushing that eventually ended with Barnes throwing Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Terry Stotts to the ground.
When all was said and done, Terry was assessed a flagrant foul 2 and was ejected from the game. Terry's teammate, center Brendan Haywood, was also ejected for his role in the skirmish. Both Blake and Barnes were ejected for their roles as well.
Here's the original play -- Terry's needless shove of Blake -- that set it all off.
Here's the video of the full fracas courtesy of YouTube user NBAFuFu.
Suspensions for multiple players -- particularly Terry and Barnes -- are likely to follow shortly. The Lakers held on to win, 110-82.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:54 pm
Lakers travel to Miami to take on the Heat Thursday night. Here are 5 things to keep an eye out for during the battle of the hype machines.
Posted by Matt Moore
This game feels weird to look at. On the one hand, it should be a Lakers cakewalk. They're on a monstrous roll, destorying everything in their path, while the Heat are in the depths of a downright pathetic losing streak, continuously failing out of close games thanks to their own ineptitude. The Lakers have Andrew Bynum at the Heat's weakest position and Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Pau Gasol match up favorably with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Pau Gasol. But the Heat won on Christmas in impressive fashion, the game is in Miami (though it's not like that's a huge homecourt advantage), and the Lakers are due to stop caring about the regular season again at any second. I'm leaning strongly towards a Lakers blowout, but that just seems too obvious. Regardless, here's five things to watch as the champs take on the hype when the Lakers meet the Heat Thursday night.
1. Chris Bosh Like A Low-Post Virgin: Chris Bosh says he needs more touches in the low-post. We've gone over why this is a bad idea. But it should be mentioned that Bosh had a lot of inside looks in the Christmas Day game, and played very well, while Andrew Bynum had 18 ineffective minutes. So it's possible Bosh could be on to something, particularly when it comes to this game, in regards to giving him a shot in the low-post. Forgive us if we're a bit skeptical about his ability to take on a healthy Bynum and Gasol when fully engaged, especially when he's in one of the worst slumps of his career. The big question will be if the Heat actually adopt such a strategy, placing their trust in the third best of the Triad to make the plays necessary on offense to control the game. Somehow it's hard to see LeBron James or Dwyane Wade getting fewer perimeter possessions so that Bosh can go to work in the block. But at this point, is there anything not worth trying?
3. Empty Bench Syndrome: The Lakers are going to get production out of their bench. They just are. Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, even Steve Blake and Matt Barnes will get some level of production. The Heat are going to lose the bench scoring match, there's no question on that. But how much is the issue. If Mario Chalmers can come in and provide a decent amount of scoring, just double digits, it will help a lot. Mike Miller needs to come out of his shooting slump, but that doesn't seem likely, especially if he's guarded by either Artest, Bryant, or Lamar Odom (who will eat him alive, physically). In the first matchup, Zydrunas Ilgauskas did a good job of spreading the floor. He could help things Thursday by knocking down a few mid-range jumpers to get the pressure off Bosh inside and open up the lanes a bit.
4. Dynamite by Bynum: See how I didn't go for the "Bynum-ite" joke there? That's professional, baby. Anyway, in this case it's more than just a rhyming phrase. Bynum can literally blow up the Heat defensively if he goes to work. They have no one that can guard him, in any way, shape, or form, and if he get active and gets room and trust to work, he could destroy that team deep in the post. There's no one to keep him off the offensive glass, and he's going to have great matchups to get his hooks and jumpers going. This could be a huge night for Bynum, if the Lakers decide to go to him early and often, and provided his knee is feeling up to par.
5. Desperate measures: This has to be considered a must-win game for the Heat. It's imperative that they win this game, just to get themselves some breathing room from the media and their own fans. But that means they have to play like it. The biggest issue for the Heat this year has been playing with urgency and cohesion. They've played without energy, without passion, and without focus in the moments they've needed it most. We have no reason to suspect they'll have it Thursday night against the Lakers, but that's really theire only chance to get this game, to want it more than the Lakers. Someone on that team is going to have to step up and lead. Will anyone?
Posted on: February 1, 2011 1:28 am
Edited on: February 1, 2011 1:29 am
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?
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.