Posted on: November 15, 2010 3:19 pm
Posted by Royce Young
It feels like we're seeing this move more and more. A player gets caught after he picks up his dribble, looks around and has nowhere to go. He pivots, sees the lane open up but again, can't dribble because he lost it. So acting on instincts, he alley-oops himself off the glass. Andre Miller pulled it off beautifully last week against the Thunder, but if there's a master of the move, it's Kobe Bryant.
Kobe pulled it out wonderfully again Sunday night against the Suns. For shame all he gets is two points, because it's so pretty he deserves an assist and a rebound, plus the points.
It's a crafty "veteran" move as they like to say, but it's just clever basketball. It also fascinates me to see players think that quickly on their feet playing a game that goes a hundred miles an hour. It's what makes the great ones so great. Never panic, never lose focus. And Kobe obviously does both of those so, so well.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 11:18 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:46 pm
Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom was whistled for a controversial technical foul late in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Phoenix Suns. Posted by Ben Golliver. Earlier we noted that the Phoenix Suns scored an improbable victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Sunday, thanks to 22 (!) 3-pointers. Despite Phoenix's ridiculous outside shooting, Los Angeles still had a shot. With just under a minute left in the game, Lakers forward Lamar Odom, cut to the hoop and finished at the rim, finishing over Suns forward Hedo Turkoglu, who appeared to check him with both arms. Odom's basket cut the Phoenix lead to 111-109, but he protested the lack of a foul call by pumping his arm twice and yelling, which drew a technical foul. Here's video of the play courtesy of YouTube user TheRealCaCHookahMan. Suns guard Steve Nash converted the free throw to push the lead back to three points, and Phoenix held on to win 121-116. The Los Angeles Times reports that Lakers all star guard Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson were both steamed at the technical on Odom, which they believed was whistled as part of the NBA's new crackdown on excessive reactions.
"It's a bad, bad rule," Kobe Bryant said. "It's a bad one. It's subject to so much interpretation. I've been toeing the line here, so I don't want to [get fined]. It's something you have to be conscious of as a player, which kind of throws you off your game a little bit because basketball's such an emotional sport."
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said the technical foul "changed the context of the ballgame." "He got fouled," Jackson said, repeating it for emphasis. "It's a normal reaction. There's no doubt that we don't want guys complaining about plays up and down the court, but when someone's at the rim and gets fouled, and says, 'and one' or whatever, to stop a game or change a game around at a critical point in the game like that, it's just not the way that we want to be able to play."By the letter of the new NBA technical foul law, Odom was properly assessed the foul. But given the game-changing circumstances, this was a tough one for Lakers fans to swallow.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 10:29 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:46 pm
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is taking up the player's cause in the NBA collective bargaining negotiations. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Kobe Bryant's reputation as a basketball player is secure. If he walked away from basketball today, he would leave as a legend. A generation-leading, annual all-star game attending, gold medal-winning, MVP, Finals MVP and five-time NBA champion, Bryant has done everything there is to be done on a basketball court. He's already a top five guard of all time, will likely retire as one of the top 10 NBA players ever, and will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, no questions asked. But CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that Bryant is ready to break some new ground, joining Laker teammate and player's union president Derek Fisher as a leading voice for the players in the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations, a dispute that threatens the 2011-2012 NBA season.
Bryant, the highest-paid player in the league under what is likely to be his final contract, is scheduled to join Michael Jordan as the league’s only $30 million players in the final year of the deal in 2013-14. Asked where he stands in the labor dispute that could be more punitive to stars like Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose – who likely won’t get new contracts until a new CBA is in place – Bryant said, “I’m going to fight for our players.”
“It’s about making sure we have the best deal going forward,” Bryant said. “That’s my stance and that’s not going to change. I’m not going to waver. It’s about taking care of the generation that’s coming after us. That’s what the guys before us tried to do, and that’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m not going to waver from that.”On the court, Bryant doesn't give his opponents an inch and he doesn't stand slights from anyone without exacting some form of revenge. And "slighted" is exactly how the players should feel given the owners' recent rhetoric surrounding salary cuts, roll backs, a hard cap and potential contraction in the face of increasing basketball-related income. Really, the owners are engaged in Kevin Garnett style huffing and puffing, demeaning the players by dragging the negotiations to needlessly sensational levels. The most obsessively driven NBA player since Michael Jordan, life is a competition for Bryant, so the current labor strife is a natural fit for his personality, even if he's chosen, like Jordan, to generally steer clear of hot topics and controversy, especially since the incident in Colorado. Good on Bryant for taking this step to stand up for his fellow players, following in a line of superstars that traces back to Bob Cousy, who championed for a player's union, and Oscar Robertson, who helped establish the legal basis for free agency in the NBA. From this point forward, everything Bryant does and says should be viewed as historical positioning. A quest to top Michael Jordan's six rings, a climb up the all time scoring list, a second gold medal as part of the 2012 Olympics team: all will help his case when it comes time for history to compare him to the league's other super-superstars. Leading a labor charge, or at least throwing his heft behind it, is worth brownie points in bunches when it comes to the big-picture. Reaching a labor deal would have a practical payoff for Bryant too, of course. Should the Lakers win their third straight title this season, the 2011-2012 season, the one that's in jeopardy due to a potential lockout, would be Bryant's first chance at a seventh title, which would surpass Jordan's mark. Whatever Bryant's motivation for entering the debate -- his own self-interest, the common good of the players, or both -- it isn't as important as the fact that he has spoken up. Players around the league idolize and fear him, and his words therefore carry more cachet than any other player's. Bryant talks; everyone listens. NBA owners may be about to find out what NBA coaches have known for more than a decade: you don't want to anger Kobe Bryant.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 9:50 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:33 pm
The Lakers are the class of the NBA, Boston's bench holds down the Oklahoma City Thunder, Pau Gasol goes triple-double thanks to some slick passing and Marco Belinelli hits from way downtown. 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: LAKERS REMAIN UNDEFEATEDAfter looking bored against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers put on their Sunday best to demolish the Portland Trail Blazers 121-96 at Staples. The game was over almost before it started, with the Lakers dominating virtually every facet of the game and breaking out some Showtime stunts as they coasted home during the second half. The scariest thing about Sunday night's win for the rest of the league is that it featured an ineffective and inefficient game from Kobe Bryant. Bryant was just 3-11 for 12 points in 25 minutes, but it hardly mattered, as the Lakers pounded the offensive glass (14 offensive rebounds) and got bucket after bucket at point blank range. Pau Gasol was sensational, slapping together a triple-double and operating at will from everywhere on the court. His interior passing was extraordinary at times, as the Lakers offense displayed great rhythm en route to their seventh straight victory to open the season. As impressive as the Lakers starters were -- and they were very impressive, with Ron Artest turning Portland all star Brandon Roy into a non-factor and Lamar Odom going off for a double-double -- the Lakers bench was equally solid. Point guard Steve Blake capped a solid evening for the second unit when he threw a transition alley oop off the glass after picking Blazers guard Wesley Matthews at the top of the key. Shannon Brown seemingly couldn't miss when open, Matt Barnes roughed up Rudy Fernandez and Derrick Caracter provided energy. Even without injured center Andrew Bynum, the Lakers are getting solid contributions from nine players deep, and the production drop off from the first unit to the second unit has been less noticeable than just about any other team in the league. Blake's addition is particularly key, as his ability to integrate quickly into the triangle offense makes the backcourt transition from first unit to reserves virtually seamless. It's starting to feel like the Lakers, by virtue of their unmatched chemistry, simply have a two year head start on the rest of the league (except Boston). The passing, the timing, the ball movement, the team defense, the group-first commitment is something that takes time -- perhaps more than a single season -- to get exactly right. The Lakers have all of that right now, in spades. The rest of the league, including the new-look Heat, are simply playing catch-up right now.
GO-GO-GADGET LINES:Pau Gasol:20 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals on 9-13 shooting. A triple double for LA's Spaniard in a runaway win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Honorable mention to...
Steve Nash: 19 points, 15 assists, five rebounds, 7-11 shooting. He's still got it, as the Suns top the Hawks in Atlanta on Sunday. Joe Johnson: 34 points, seven rebounds, six assists, on 15-27 shooting in 44 minutes. Huge night in a losing effort.
Al Horford: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks on 13-16 shooting in 42 minutes. Even huger night in a losing effort.
Evan Turner: 14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, 6-11 shooting in 35 minutes. Turner, starting in place of an injured Andre Iguodala, notched a double-double in a Sunday road win for Philly over the New York Knicks.
BOSTON BENCH HOLDS DOWN OKC:
Posted by Royce Young.
Holding leads as big as 22, the Celtics appeared to have the Thunder completely under control Sunday night. Oklahoma City was turning the ball over at a rapid rate, couldn't score and couldn't stop anybody. The game was on the verge of getting out of hand, if it wasn't already.
The deep Celtic bench was in charge of holding the lead, but Russell Westbrook sparked his club to a quick 9-0 run and then Kevin Durant got into the mix as well, keying another 13-2 spurt to finish the third quarter. The Thunder held the Celtics without a field goal for the last four minutes of the third and cut the lead to nine heading into the fourth. OKC wasn't done either. James Harden knocked down a 3 to start the fourth and just like that, OKC had Boston's lead to six with an entire quarter to go.
That's where Doc Rivers did something interesting. He didn't call timeout. And he didn't put his starters back in. Instead, he trusted his bench.
It's a luxury Rivers has the very few other coaches do. A bench that can be relied upon to hold leads, spell starters and in some cases, handle business all on their own. A lineup of Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden, Glen Davis and starter Ray Allen, saw the Celtics' lead dwindle, but they were also the ones that restored it. After OKC cut it to six, Glen Davis hit back-to-back jumpshots to push the lead to 10, starting a 13-4 run that basically ended the game early.
Rivers eventually went back to his starting five with 4:30 left in the game, but truthfully, he could've used his bench to close out the Thunder. It was possibly more a function of the bench guys needing a break and the starters stepped in to spell them. Ironic, indeed.
The Boston bench is really what won the game for the Celtics too. In terms of starting scoring, the Thunder won 71-59. But the Celtics second group outscored OKC 33-12. It was pretty evenly distributed with Robinson and Erden scoring nine, Davis eight and Daniels seven. And most importantly, they upheld the Celtic way playing terrific defense and keeping the Thunder out of the game.
Boston's depth is truly a weapon and something general manager Danny Ainge has wisely added to this team. With the age of the starters and the fact some games will be missed due to injuries or other things, the Celtics have the option to defer to a second unit that can not only stay competitive, but can win.
WHIMSY:Fresh out of jail, rapper Lil Wayne showed up courtside as the New Orleans Hornets hosted the Miami Heat on Friday night.
HERO OF THE NIGHT:On Saturday night, the New Orleans Hornets topped the Milwaukee Bucks 87-81 thanks in part to a super long distance bomb by Hornets forward Marco Belinelli to close the first half.
ONE FINAL THOUGHT:Via HoopsHype : Through Sunday's games, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are combining for 64.5 ppg, 27.6 rpg and 12.9 apg. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are combining for 59.2 ppg, 16.5 rpg and 13.2 apg.
Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.
Posted on: November 7, 2010 12:55 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:31 pm
Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant got a chance to meet the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Just because Kevin Durant has risen to become the best professional basketball player in the world -- yeah, I said it -- doesn't mean his life story has stopped being one Hallmark card after another. In this must-read NewsOK.com piece, we get a great glimpse at Durant, the person, and a thorough follow-up on what was one of the more interesting stories of the summer. Back in August, Barack Obama, the President of the Unites States, and a huge basketball junkie, hosted NBA stars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade for a birthday basketball game. Once word got out, Durant, who hails from the greater-DC area and was the key piece on this summer's Team USA World Championship gold medal winning team, made it known on his Twitter account that he wished he could have been there. One thing led to another and in September Durant got to meet Obama for an informal game of pickup hoops.
"It was a good feeling to meet the president," Durant said. "Of course I always wanted to do that. Me being from D.C., it was pretty cool to see him. I was excited to get that opportunity. It's something I'm always going to remember."
The day happened to be one day after Durant's grandmother's 63rd birthday. And Barbara Davis received an unexpected and unforgettable birthday gift. She accompanied Durant and Durant's mother, Wanda Pratt, to the Commander in Chief's home court. "She's been in D.C. for 60 years and never got to meet the president," Durant said. "Now we have the first African-American president, and that felt good for me to give her that opportunity."Durant also invited teammates Eric Maynor and James Harden to get in on the presidential treatment, and both left awe-struck and sworn to secrecy by Durant, who reportedly wanted to keep the meeting private. What a story. It begs just one question: Who snubbed Durant in the first place? Can we elect that person out of office, please?
Posted on: November 6, 2010 5:41 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2010 5:42 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The 2012 Olympic roster is filling out already. Well, not technically. Just players that will almost definitely be on the team are saying they want in. So far, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant have all said they are ready and willing.
Well, add two more: Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.
Paul told The Times-Picayune that he's all in. "I'm in. I want to be," Paul said Friday night. "I want to play. If they'll have me, I want to play."
Anthony told The Denver Post, "I'm in," Anthony said. "Yeah, I'm locked in."
Of course, both players have to "make" the team, but that shouldn't be too much of an issue. Neither participated in the 2010 World Championships though. Paul didn't play because he was recovering from a couple different injuries. Anthony didn't play because he was getting married.
"At least most of us (from the 2008 team want to play)," Paul also added. "Those guys did an outstanding job this year, so it's going to be tough with the committee deciding who's going to be on and off the team. But I want to be on. No question. I need me another gold medal."
They aren't complete locks though because Coach K and Jerry Colangelo seemed extremely pleased with the roster that participated in Turkey. So with some of those guys maturing a bit more over the next two years, there actually may be some competition.
But think about it: Durant, LeBron, Kobe, Howard, Paul, Carmelo are almost certainly going to be on the team. And then there's Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Stephen Curry and the list of guys that were terrific in Turkey. And then, there are other players like Deron Williams, Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade who haven't committed either way yet.
The 2012 roster will definitely be stacked. It's just a matter of who it's stacked with.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 2:49 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 2:56 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
Like any good red-blooded American under the age of 40, I've played my fair share of first-person shooter video games. I've done the old "sneak up behind your friend with the silencer and give him the digital double tap" routine. Very little shocks me in the way of either video games or their advertisements, and yet the latest commercial for "Call of Duty: Black Ops" has me a little off-kilter. There's nothing particularly over the top about the ad. See for yourself.
Like I said, nothing particularly over the top. The commercial doesn't depict blood, gore, or death. There's a lot of random shooting, and a helicopter goes down, but there's nothing that really shows the traumatic effects of war.
Which is kind of the problem. You've got ordinary citizens, mixed in with the Black Mamba and Jimmy Kimmel, shooting at enemies in a massive combat scene. It definitely depicts the idea that everyone should want to pick up an automatic assault rifle and start firing indescriminently. In a lot of ways, the ad is mocking itself, particularly with Kimmel's appearance. But similar to the LA Times ' take, I find myself a little bothered by the overall message of casual violence and gun play.
There have been rampant debates on the effects of violent video games, most of which I tend to want to avoid, but for whatever reason, this commercial seems to breach that line of making it clear these are video games, and portraying violence as a real, enjoyable, and admirable activity.
But hey, Kobe looks cool.
UPDATE: As BDL notes, Bryant appeared at a charity event held by Activision (the maker of the game) which gives funds to veterans and veteran organizations. Also, apparently Bryant fired real weapons on set, which must have been fun for Lakers' PR, and the game is rated M for Mature and they are targeting adult audiences. Like football. Because kids don't watch football. Or read sports blogs. Wait.
Posted on: November 4, 2010 1:38 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2010 1:49 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
Andrew Bynum should be back soon. No, really. Quit looking at us like that. He's seriously on track this time. It's different this time! Honest!
Anyway, the question is, with Lamar Odom playing lights out, and the Lakers, you know, destroying everything in their path, Will Bynum start when he returns? Well, it would interrupt chemistry, and Odom's definitely earned the minutes, and you don't fix it if it's not broken, so naturally yes! He will start when he gets back. From ESPNLA :
"We like what we see from these five guys [in the starting lineup]; however, there are extenuating circumstances with Drew," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. "He has a knee that [puts him] in a situation [where] he's got to get himself prepped before a ballgame. He wears a brace because of it and, as a consequence, once he's warmed up you hate to have a guy sit down for 15 minutes and cool off and have to start all over again."So thanks for everything, Lamar, but we kind of need Bynum to keep that knee warmed up for the ten to fifteen minutes he's available.
I'm kidding, of course, it's a reasonable approach, and besides, Odom's never chafed at coming off the bench. This team is deep enough, they could have a gigantic asteroid smash through their chemistry and still beat most opponents by 15. That's how good this Lakers team is. And when Bynum gets back, they'll be even better.