Tag:Kobe Bryant
Posted on: December 24, 2010 10:01 am
Edited on: December 24, 2010 11:26 am

NBA stocking stuffed on Christmas Day with games

Tis the season for Heat-Lakers, Celtics-Magic and more as we preview the NBA Christmas Day extravaganza.
Posted by NBA F&R Blog Staff

With five games on the NBA schedule Christmas Day, we walk you through each one, letting you know how to fit in your basketball with your sugarplums (we don't even know what those are, just go with it). 

Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers, 5 p.m. ET

When the Lakers and Heat tip off Saturday afternoon at Staples Center, their goal will not have anything to do with the other team. Forget sending messages, staking claim, or becoming top dog in conference (an impossibility for both teams considering their records relative to the conference leaders). This is about finding out about themselves. 

The Lakers have drifted after a stunning start, losing to teams they have no business losing to and doing so on a regular basis. Even the win streak they peeled off came against exceptionally weak opponents like the Wizards, Sixers, and Pacers. In reality, this is their first big test against a contending opponent since their loss to the Bulls two weeks ago in Chicago. No one really doubts the Lakers, not yet. But a loss on Christmas Day in a major hyped game against the Heat would definitely put a damper on Christmas and plant some seeds of doubt about their ability to simply breeze through to another title. Beating LeBron and company allows them to send a message: "Don't confuse our coasting with weakness. We've got our fingers on the switch ready to flip."

The Heat on the other hand, are in a no-win position. Should they beat L.A., downing the defending champs with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, critics will simply say what they've said every time the Heat have managed to win this season: it doesn't matter until the playoffs. (Note that when the Heat lose, this same approach is not employed; suddenly the games matter when the Heat lose "meaningless" games.) Should the Heat lose, well, that just means they're definitely not ready for prime time and that Kobe is still the real King. But testing themsevles against LA give them an opportunity to see where they're at and if the progress they've made is real in any sense. Beating the Lakers wouldn't be a real victory in terms of contending status, but would at least give them a measure of how good this team can be. 

So how does this matchup shake out, exactly?

L.A.'s interior defense is considerably bolstered by the return of Andrew Bynum, and they're going to have considerable advantages inside. The Heat have no one to counter Bynum or Gasol inside, as Chris Bosh is simply not good enough to slow down Pau Gasol if he gets touches. Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, and Kobe Bryant should have their hands full on defense in this game, and in fact, Bryant may want to take a backseat on offense just so he can keep Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in check on the perimeter. This isn't to say Kobe can't get it done on the offensive end, but it's a strategy that would play both to the Lakers' strengths and the Heat's weaknesses. Somehow I doubt Bryant will opt for that. 

Bryant needs to be careful though. If he decides to come out guns slinging and the triggers aren't perfectly aligned, he's going to start the fast break for the Heat. And that's their bread and butter. The Lakers need to slow this game down and force Miami to beat them in the halfcourt set, with Carlos Arroyo and James Jones taking jumpers. Do that, and Miami will wither and die on the vine. But get into an up-down type game with them, and the youth of Miami may create some problems for the Lakers.

Bench play will probably be huge in this game, since the Lakers have such a phenomenal advantage. Shannon Brown versus Mario Chalmers. Matt Barnes versus Juwan Howard. Steve Blake versus Eddie House, should Erik Spoelstra elect to turn to the veteran. The Lakers are dominant in this regard and should be able to extend leads or close deficits while multiple members of the Big 3 for Miami rest.

This isn't a game about sending a message to a possible Finals opponent. The Heat just aren't there, yet. But it is about proving something to themselves. For the Lakers, it's a firm conviction that they can turn it on whenever they need. For the Heat, it's that they may finally be ready to play with the big boys, something they have yet to show this season.

Should be merry and bright, indeed.

Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic (2:30 p.m ET)

The Magic just started clicking a bit with their new, revamped roster with a big win over the streaking Spurs. Now they get another chance to bust a big streak. 

The sizzling Celtics come to town riding a 14-game streak and playing as the best team in the Eastern Conference. Boston is doing damage behind a devastating defense and an offense that scores consistently throughout the entire 48. If Orlando expects to hang with Boston, the Magic will have to get production from their new line of scorers. Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson will have to provide Dwight Howard some major help. If Orlando doesn't get that, the Celtics will feast on the Magic's stalled offense and probably cruise to a 15th straight win. 

What Boston does so well defensively is that it funnels the opposing offense into becoming one dimensional. The Celtics take what you want to do and use it against you. Orlando wants to use dribble penetration to clear lanes for Howard and also to free shooters. Boston's fine with letting you try and do that, but they're just going to close those lanes off and shut down the shooters. This is a game where Howard will have to play big on the inside of Orlando wants to play with the Celtics. 

However, the new Magic have options that they didn't have before. This feels like it could be a big opportunity for Arenas to really break out offensively or for Turkoglu to get some of that isolation play going where he drains step-back after step-back. The Celtics can play with Orlando if it's scoring, but the Magic have the players to put points up in a hurry. Boston wants a game in the high 80s, while the Magic probably want to push the pace a bit more and score in triple-digits. 

This game will likely come down to who gets to play their game the longest, and also who plays the other guy's game better. The Celtics are tested and typically thrive in these situations, but the Magic may be gelling a bit. There's definitely a chance here to play streak-buster a second time for them.

Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks (12 p.m. EST)

A rematch of the November 4th Knicks win, this game features two teams still trying to gain an identity. After a long impressive win streak, the Knicks dropped three straight to Boston (understandable, especially on a buzzer beater), Miami (understandable, even in a blowout), and Cleveland (not understandable in any universe ever created). Then they go out and drop the Thunder this week, just to keep us on our toes.  The Bulls? We know they're good. But Joakim Noah is out with a hand injury, which changes much of their dynamic.  This game could wind up being a preview of a first-round playoff series, and we're going to see a lot of familiar themes most likely. Primarily that Carlos Boozer can't guard Amar'e Stoudemire in any impactful way, and that the Knicks are going to be run through by the saber that is Derrick Rose, especially on the pick and roll. 

This should be a fun one to open the day with, in a fast paced affair featuring two good point guards (and one elite), two good power forwards (and one elite), along with capable supporting players. The Knicks will need to send help in the form of wing defenders when Rose drives off the pick and roll, or he's going to get to the basket all day long. They have to take their chances with Kyle Korver and Luol Deng on the perimeter. The Bulls on the other hand will need to flash help at Stoudemire to get him off the shot-fake elbow-jumper that he's killing teams with this season. Tom Thibodeau versus Mike D'Antoni also means a classic clash of styles. 

Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder (8:00 p.m. ET)

The primetime Christmas Day game lost some of its luster with Carmelo Anthony missing due to a recent death in his family. Obviously, basketball has taken a backseat for Carmelo and rightly so. But despite his absence, there's still an important Northwest Division game to be played.

The Thunder are right atop the division with the Nuggets just a few back. Oklahoma City hasn't been the most consistent team in the world but with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook playing as the most dangerous tandem in basketball, they don't have to be. Denver will look to run and get hot from outside to keep pace with the Thunder's big guns, but OKC's improving defense will be a key in shutting off a big Nuggets run.

The game may not have the same star power and spotlight head-to-head matchup of Carmelo and KD, but it's still something worth watching.

Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors (10:30 p.m. ET)

Four out of five big-time match-ups isn't bad. Christmas Day's nightcap is easily the least glamorous affair on the schedule, with the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers, two teams that have battled injuries for the last two seasons, facing off in California.

Blazers guard Brandon Roy and center Joel Przybilla won't play, and Portland will continue to run things offensively through its make-shift centerpieces, LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews. The duo has stepped up big in Roy's, as has reserve guard Rudy Fernandez. The Blazers just beat the Warriors in Portland last week, so what will be different this time around? For starters, Portland always struggles on the road against the Warriors, and Golden State point guard Stephen Curry, as of this writing, is expected to make his return from a nagging ankle injury that has kept him out since Dec. 8. In Curry's absence, it's been all Monta Ellis all the time for the Warriors, as Golden State's leading scorer has maintained his big numbers from last season (25.6 points, 5.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds), while improving his field goal (from 44.9% to 48.0%) and three-point shooting (from 33.8% to 36.4%) numbers. Ellis had a chance to beat the Blazers at the buzzer in Portland, but it rimmed out. He's hit for 30+ four times in December, and could easily make it five on Saturday, assuming that he's out for a little Christmas revenge.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 3:25 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:45 pm

Car accident preceded Kobe Bryant's ejection

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was ejected on Tuesday night, an unfortunate end to a day that also included a minor car accident. Posted by Ben Golliver
Last night, we posted the glorious video of Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant melting down in the fourth quarter of a surprising home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, flying off the handle and shouting profanities at multiple referees, which led to two technical fouls and an ejection. ESPNLA.com reports that the scene was the unfortunate end to tough day for Bryant, according to Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
It started before noon when Bryant was late for the team's morning shootaround after an accident while driving to the Lakers' practice facility through uncommon Southern California rain.
"We had kind of a disjointed day today," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We didn't have a full group [at shootaround]. Kobe had an accident or whatever, so he wasn't on time, he was a half-hour late. ... [It was a] fender bender."
A bad day for me involves trouble getting my wireless mouse to sync with my laptop and/or running out of Red Bull during my work shift. If I 1) owned a luxury car like Bryant and 2) got into an accident in that luxury car, I would be so heated that I would get ejected as soon as I stepped foot into the arena, if I even made it there. Under the circumstances, it's a minor miracle that Bryant lasted until the fourth quarter, especially considering how badly the short-handed Bucks were stomping the Lakers. The LA Times reports that Bryant refused to conduct post-game interviews with reporters. In hindsight, that seems like a very, very wise decision.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 1:01 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:46 pm

Video: Lakers' Kobe Bryant ejected against Bucks

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was ejected during the fourth quarter of a Tuesday night home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. Posted by Ben Golliver

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant let his frustration boil over during the final minutes of a disappointing and surprising 98-79 home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.  After Milwaukee's microscopic point guard, Earl Boykins, hit a three-pointer to put the Bucks up 92-77 with a little more than two minutes to play, Bryant pushed the ball in transition, hoping to get a quick hoop. Bryant drove to the basket from the right side, but lost the ball on the way up and ran over Bucks center Andrew Bogut. Bogut appeared to be straddling the protected circle line, however the baseline official immediately whistled for a charging foul on Bryant.  Bryant responded by stomping over Bogut without touching him, and turning to the official to exchange some words as he walked back down the court. Whatever Bryant said was clearly not fit to print, because he was immediately whistled for a technical foul.  As Bryant continued to walk down the court, clearly heated, he turned to another official, standing near halfcourt, and appeared to shout a very popular obscenity while gesturing. Bryant was assessed a second technical in short order and continued to walk directly off the court and into the Lakers' locker room. Here's video of the incident. The loss drops the Lakers to 21-8 on the season, still good for first place in the Pacific Division. With the win, the Bucks improve to 11-16, and remain in third place in the Central Division.
Posted on: December 21, 2010 10:24 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:44 pm

Nowitzki passes Bird for 25th on NBA scoring list

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has passed Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird on the NBA's all time scoring list. Posted by Ben Golliverdirk-nowitzki

On Tuesday night, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 17 points in a 105-99 road win over the Orlando Magic. In the process, Nowitzki moved into 25th place on the NBA's all time scoring list. At night's end, Nowitzki had 21,798 points, passing Boston Celtics Hall of Fame forward Larry Bird (21,791).  If Nowitzki continues on his current scoring pace this season, he would finish the year with more than 23,000 points, moving him past Clyde Drexler (22,195) and Gary Payton (21,813) into 23rd place. Both Adrian Dantley (23,177) and Elgin Baylor (23,149) are also possibly within reach this year.  Given that Nowitzki is just 32 years old and his scoring production has remained relatively level for the past five seasons, there is a very, very good chance that he will end his career in the top 10 of the league's all time scoring list. To do so, he'd need to reach roughly 27,000 points, which equates to a little more than 2 years (after this season) at his current pace, or 3-4 seasons at a reduced rate. Given his history as an extremely durable player, no lingering injury concerns prevent Nowitzki from playing until he is 35 or 36, and his current contract runs for three years after this season. Nowitzki's current career scoring average of 23.0 points per game is better than half of the 24 guys currently above him on the list. Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, John Havlicek, Alex English, Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Robert Parish, Kevin Garnett, Drexler, and Payton all averaged less than 23.0 points per game. The only other active players in the top 25 currently are Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal (5th place), Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (11th place) and Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (22nd place). Bird had been one of only five players in the top 25 all time to achieve the mark in a career that lasted less than 1,000 games. The others: Jerry West (932 in 15th place), Allen Iverson (914, in 17th place), Dantley (955, in 20th place) and Baylor (846, in 21st place). NBA.com reports on Twitter that Bird sent Nowitzki a congratulatory text message after the game. 
Posted on: December 16, 2010 1:59 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 2:11 pm

First All-Star returns are in; any surprises?

Posted by Royce Young

The first returns for the 2011 All-Star teams are in and really, not a lot of big surprises. Kobe Bryant leads the West, Dwight Howard leads the East and for a 10th consecutive year, Brian Cardinal is nowhere to be found.

Looking over the numbers, obviously the first thing that has to stick out is of course Yao Ming and Andrew Bynum being the top two vote-getters at center in the West. Between the two, they've played a grand total of seven games.

This is what irks so many about letting fans votes, but that's just the way it is. Yao has the most populated country in the world voting for him and Bynum has probably the biggest fanbase voting for him. It's the way it works. I'd love to complain and gripe about it and tell you how Tyson Chandler or Al Jefferson should be getting consideration, but nobody's listening.

(Seriously though, neither Chandler or Jefferson were even on the first returns? Really? Chris Kaman, Andris Biedrins and DeMarcus Cousins are but the two most productive Western centers aren't? And Derek Fisher has 81,000 votes but the league's leading rebounder Kevin Love only has 700 more? I hate people sometimes.)

So if the All-Star Game were today, the starters for each conference would be:

PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Dwight Howard

PG: Chris Paul
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Yao Ming

The closest current races are Carmelo behind Gasol and Derrick Rose behind Rondo. Gasol trails Anthony by about 20,000 votes and Rose is behind Rondo by about 75,000 votes.

One mild and pleasant surprise is that Kevin Durant is the second-leading vote-getter in the West behind Kobe. Durant has 470,881 votes to his name right now, still almost 300,000 behind Kobe though. But Durant is well on his way to his second All-Star team and first one as a starter. He's ahead of talented players like Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony and Tim Duncan. Quite a big year for Durant. From a player known only as underrated and hidden in the league's smallest market to the second top star in the West only behind Kobe is a big step up.

The East though is basically the Miami Heat and friends. LeBron and Dwyane Wade are two of the top three vote-getters with Dwight Howard being second, Rajon Rondo fourth and Kevin Garnett fifth. The "other" guy on the Heat, Chris Bosh, is fifth among forwards right now with 161,801 votes. Interesting players that are ahead of Bosh in the East in total votes? Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Shaquille O'Neal. I guess if you really wanted the spotlight Chris, you should've went to Boston.

Talking rookies, Blake Griffin leads all so far with more than 245,000 votes. John Wall checks in with a little over 120,000 and Cousins has 37,000 in a watered down center class in the West.

Of course, these are just the first returns and things can definitely change. You'll see those kids at games with a stack four feet tall of ballots and then may all have only Derek Fisher's name punched. But more than likely, the two starting units will end up close to what they are now.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 12:55 pm

Kobe Bryant and President Obama talking trash

Posted by Royce Young

The 2009-10 Lakers met with President Obama yesterday, which happened to only be a few days after Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls beat Los Angeles 88-84.

Obama you see, is a Bulls fan. So naturally, the president saw an opportunity to zing Kobe. What Obama probably wasn't ready for, was for Kobe to zing him right back. Via ESPN LA:

Derrick Rose may have your number," President Obama lightheartedly jabbed at Kobe Bryant as the team posed for a photograph after presenting the president with an autographed replica 2009-10 championship banner, like the one that hangs at Staples Center.

"I said, 'If he calls that number, I'll be sure to pick up after the fifth ring,'" Bryant quipped back -- referring, naturally, to the five championship rings he has.

And boom goes the dynamite.
Posted on: December 13, 2010 5:38 pm

Lakers write veterans letters at President visit

Lakers visit President Obama at Boys and Girls Club of Washington, D.C., write letters to veterans overseas.Posted by Matt Moore

The Lakers visited the White House today for their (seemingly) annual trip to the White House in honor of their NBA championship. But since Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and Derek Fisher have been there enough to know which rooms have cable and which don't (as noted by the President himself ), the White House decided to do something different today.

Instead of the typical photo-op in the Rose garden, laugh and greet business, the Lakers joined the Boys and Girls club of Washington, D.C. and wrote letters to veterans overseas.

Pause to let the dust in here settle.

Here's a photo of the kids and Lakers mingling (courtesy of Mike Trudell's Twitter account ):

The Lakers did pose with the President later, and the President joked with Phil Jackson, reminding him he still had one more ring with the Bulls.

Kobe's response?

"Not for long ."
Posted on: December 13, 2010 8:06 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:33 pm

Shootaround 12.13.10: Nuggets GM talks Carmelo

The Denver Nuggets spin with the Carmelo Anthony situation, Avery Johnson says Kobe Bryant could be better than Michael Jordan, the Miami Heat could let an asset go to waste, the Sacramento Kings owners whoop it up while the Los Angeles Clippers owner trash talks his own players and two Western Conference big men are on the mend. Posted by Ben Golliver
  • Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri tells the New York media that he feels the situation with Carmelo Anthony is "promising." Writes the New York Post: "Ujiri told a throng of reporters that Anthony's sentiment is different than when he came aboard. 'I think it's encouraging that he says that (he's open to re-signing)," Ujiri said. "From when I got on board until now, that's encouraging. We have had a lot communication. "I'm sure everybody thought he'd be gone at training camp," Ujiri added. "It's promising that he's still here."
  • Yahoo! reports that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been taunting his players from his courtside seats during games, including point guard Baron Davis. What a mess. Here's Davis' quote on the matter: “There’s nothing I can say. I have no comment on that. You just get to this point where it’s a fight every day. It’s a fight. You’re fighting unnecessary battles. I’m fighting unnecessary battles."
  • Roundball Mining Company takes a minute to reflect on Denver Nuggets coach George Karl's 1000th victory. The site highlights a turning point. "As time passed, Karl seemed to find a healthy balance between caring enough on the court and not caring too much.  His passion appeared to return, largely thanks to the trade of Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups."
  • New Jersey Nets coach Avery Johnson on Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, as quoted by the New York Post. "[Bryant] could arguably be 1. In some polls, he'll be 2," the Nets coach said yesterday about the players he has seen since he entered the NBA in 1988. "He could be 1-A and Jordan can be 1-B or Jordan, some polls they'll be flipped. Fortunately I had a chance to play against both of them and now played and coached against Kobe. And boy, sometimes they're looking like the same player."
  • The Sun-Sentinel reports that there is a good chance the Miami Heat will allow their Disabled Player Exception, acquired from power forward Udonis Haslem's long-term injury, to go unused.
  • Here is a hilarious behind-the-scenes visit from FoxSports.com with the Kings owners during the Miami Heat's recent trip to Sacramento. The Maloofs run the gamut of emotions throughout the course of the game, eventually concluding that LeBron James is better than Kobe Bryant.
  • Speaking of Western Conference big men returning from injury, the Deseret News reports that Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur could be "within a week or two."
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com