Tag:Lamar Odom
Posted on: May 5, 2011 2:38 am
 

NBA Playoffs Mavs-Lakers: Lakers coming apart

Lakers begin tearing at each other, down 2-0 to Dallas. But can they respond?
Posted by Matt Moore




After the Lakers' 93-81 loss to the Mavericks, going down 2-0, Andrew Bynum said that the Lakers have "trust issues."  Magic Johnson, a member of the Lakers' front office, the biggest Lakers booster you'll find, is talking about chances being slim and the Lakers pointing fingers. Kobe Bryant was the voice of reason post-game, talking about how the trust issues are on defensive communication, and how everyone is "tripping" when they just need to go win a game. 

But there is trouble in the land of the champs. And the fact remains that the Lakers are no longer trying to avoid the edge of the cliffs. They're hearing the gravel bounce off the canyon walls below.  This is not something the Lakers are used to, even with a history of malaise and unimpressive performances relative to their capability. 

The Lakers have gone to seven with a Rockets team without Yao, six with a Thunder team with no experience, and had long series with the Nuggets and Suns. But 0-2, dropping both games in Staples, headed back to an amped up Dallas arena is a whole other hole to climb out of. 

The "trust issues' comment is interesting. Chemistry is a huge part of championship teams. But the Lakers have never seemed to have great chemistry. Kobe trusts Gasol only as far as Gasol's success takes him.  Lamar Odom is constantly in need of coddling and his reality show furthers the perception he's not plugged in. Andrew Bynum's injury issues for such a young player puts him aside. Against the Mavericks, the Lakers haven't shown any committment to strategy. They just rolled up on both ends and expected their talent and experience to come through. It didn't, and now the Lakers have to win four out of the next five games.  The Lakers notoriously coast through parts of the season, and now it's bitten themin a big way. 

But to say that these issues are all just the Lakers coming apart is to ignore how the Mavericks have attacked them.  The Mavericks beefed up their roster in the place the Lakers feel safest at, size down low. Brendan Haywood became a backup center. Tyson Chandler became the starter, and the combination meant Dirk Nowitzki could just focus on being the most versatile seven-foot power forward in the league. Against the Lakers, Nowitzki is hitting all of his usual ridiculous shots, attacking the rim, and doing a decent job defending Pau Gasol, who has shrunk from the moment like never before. The Mavericks' use of Shawn Marion was supposed to be an after thought, but Marion's length has allowed him to stick with Bryant as Kobe's athleticism and explosivness degrade with age. Jason Kidd is Derek Fisher's superior, and the Mavericks have shooters upon shooters on the perimeter. 

Now the Lakers are really a wounded animal, and have to figure out how to best a team that is playing with more confidence than any opponent they've faced. 

What have we seen from this Lakers core in the past as we look ahead to Games 3 and 4 in Dallas? The Lakers usually respond only when they absolutely have to. You could argue that they didn't have to yet, that they can even drop another game in Dallas before executing a backdoor sweep. But that would mean that Kobe Bryant's assertions are correct, that the Lakers don't have to adjust to Dallas, they just have to play better. The Lakers aren't struggling through like the Bulls, who seem like a better team playing down to their oppponent. The Lakers are losing to what looks like a better team in every phase of the game. And unless they come up with a considerable flip switch, they're going to ruin the storybook ending for Phil Jackson and the second Lakers' threepeat. It sounds impossible, but Dallas has set the level the Lakers have to respond to. 

So far, they've done nothing but burst under the pressure. 
Posted on: May 5, 2011 1:26 am
Edited on: May 5, 2011 1:39 am
 

Ron Artest ejected for clothesline on J.J. Barea

Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest was ejected for clotheslining Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea. Posted by Ben Golliver.

This right here is the definition of losing without dignity.

In the closing seconds of a 93-81 Game 2 loss, Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest clotheslined Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea for no apparent reason. 

The Lakers were in a soft full court press, down by 11 points with 24 seconds remaining, when Artest came over to double team Barea with Lamar Odom. Rather than play defense, Artest reached his right arm out, fully extended, and grabbed Barea in the face, causing his head to snap backwards.

Artest was whistled for a technical foul for the play, his second of the game, and promptly ejected. There's a good chance the NBA league office will review the play and a possibility that further action could be taken against Artest, including the possibility of a fine and/or suspension.

Here's a look at the video of Artest's technical foul and ejection.



After the game, Lakers.com reported: "Phil Jackson said there was a 'good chance' Artest could be suspended for his late T on Barea; obviously, he hopes not."

Although there's no rational explanation for Artest's action, one possible motivating factor: Barea had been cutting up the Lakers down the stretch, finishing with 12 points and four assists in 17 minutes off of Dallas' bench. Barea scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers are now down 0-2 in the series, having lost both games in front of their home crowd at Staples Center.
Posted on: May 5, 2011 1:26 am
Edited on: May 5, 2011 1:50 am
 

Lakers are up against history now

Posted by Royce Young



The Lakers have dug themselves quite the little hole here. Down 0-2 to the Mavericks and the series has yet to go to Dallas. Not very good times for the back-to-back champs.

Here's an interesting bit of NBA history though: Only three teams in NBA history have ever come back to win a series after dropping the first two at home. The 1969 Lakers who came back against the Warriors, the 1994 Rockets who came back against the Suns and wouldn't you know it, the 2005 Mavs who came back against the Rockets.

Fourteen teams have gone down 0-2 at home and three have come back. That's a percentage of 21.4. That's actually better than the overall number of being down 0-2 in a series. In NBA history, teams that fall behind 0-2 period have went on to lose 94.3 percent of the time. Only 14 of 245 teams have come back from 2-0 in a best-of-seven series.

So what I'm trying to tell you is again, the Lakers have dug quite the little hole. The last time the Lakers dropped both at home was 1976-77, when they fell behind to the eventual champion Portland Trail Blazers.

Fans at Staples Center booed lustily, left early and basically gave up on the Lakers as the Mavericks held a double-digit lead for most of the fourth quarter. A comeback in Game 2 was out of the question but I think all of us agree: The Lakers aren't done until they've lost that fourth game.

Maybe the wounds from the Mavericks collapse against the Heat in the 2006 Finals are still a bit fresh. The conspiracy theorists are already lining up Danny Crawford for Game 3 in Dallas. And of course, we're talking the Lakers. You know, that team with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson? It just seems that this isn't how it ends for them. It's hard to get past it.

But history is telling us different. Charles Barkley said on TNT after Game 2 that the Lakers are done. They very well may be, but the Mavs know it can be done. They're the most recent and one of three to ever do it. It can happen. Though it's hard to ignore how much better the Mavs have looked and the fact these Lakers have shown a number of holes, starting the last few weeks of the regular season.

It's 2-0 and Dallas is entirely in the driver's seat. The Mavs have complete control. Game 3 will really swing things because all it takes is a win and the Lakers are back in it. But if Dallas can take down the Lakers a third straight time, well, history smiles even more favorably there -- no team has ever come back from 3-0.
Posted on: May 4, 2011 1:03 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 1:26 am
 

Playoff Fix: Kobe Bryant is 'highly concerned'

The Los Angeles Lakers look to even their series with the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. Posted by Ben Golliver.



DALLAS LEADS 1-0

One Big Thing:  The first two rounds of the Western Conference playoffs were always going to come down to the focus (or lack of focus) displayed by the Los Angeles Lakers. In Game 1, the Lakers collapsed in ugly fashion down the stretch, gifting the Dallas Mavericks a crucial road victory. Unlike L.A.'s two first-round losses to the New Orleans Hornets, though, the Lakers immediately made it clear that there was a sense of urgency. Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant was quoted by ESPNDallas.com saying after the loss: "I'm highly concerned. This team can beat us. It's clear. We just have to come in ready to play Game 2." And all it should take is intensity. The Lakers were able to build a commanding double-digit lead in Game 1 before the choke job.

The X-Factor: This series will turn (or not) on the play of Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who was a bit disappointed in his passive play in Game 1. He should have been disappointed in his eight-point and five-rebound effort after posting four double-doubles against the Hornets, and falling just one rebound shy of a double-double in L.A.'s other two games against New Orleans. Mavericks center Tyson Chandler was a difference-maker in Game 1, never more obviously than with his help on a Bryant drive that led to a late fourth quarter turnover. Chandler can be foul prone, though, and Bynum is the player best equipped to send Chandler to the bench for stretches.  

The Adjustment: Dallas got big-time contributions top to bottom of the roster. They also shot the ball extremely well and hung in there on defense. If they could replicate their Game 1 performance, they would gladly do it, especially their steely play down the stretch. For the Lakers, the biggest adjustment is simple: Bryant can't be a one-dimensional bomber. He needs to look to get to the free throw line, avoid settling for difficult shots and continue to look to get his teammates open shots. In turn, his teammates must knock down those shots. The Lakers shot just 5-19 from deep in Game 1.

The Sticking Point: What will the Lakers do to better counter Dirk Nowitzki? The All-Star forward put up 28 points, while only shooting five free throws, but adding 14 rebounds. The performance was typical of his playoffs so far, as he continues to raise his game in the big moments and deliver when called upon. The Lakers will likely look to rough him up a bit more, but it's tricky because he's such an elite free throw shooter. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't with Nowitzki. But a little extra physicality from the likes of Ron Artest and Lamar Odom may be enough to make his life more difficult and his offense a little less efficient.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 2:08 am
 

Kobe gets a great look to win, somehow misses

Posted by Royce Young



According to most every casual NBA and Los Angeles Laker fan, the Lakers had the Mavericks right where they wanted them. Or at the least, in an advantageous spot. L.A. was down two with 3.1 seconds left.

Meaning it was Mamba Time.

We've all seen Kobe Bryant hit big shots time after time. He's done it my team, he's done it to your team. The image of him drilling a huge crunch-time shot is emblazoned into our brains. Ask most anyone that hasn't ever heard of 82games.com or has a Synergy Sports account and they'll tell you Kobe is the most clutch player since Michael Jordan.

And in some ways, he is. I mean, you let me pick one guy to take and make a shot with a few seconds left and I'm probably going to come back to Kobe. Still, a ton of research and a ton of great sportswriting has sort of debunked the Kobe in the clutch thing. A big reason for it is because the Lakers tend to go away from the offense that makes them so tough to defend and basically it turns into Kobeball. His ball-hogging bogs down the Lakers and in the clutch -- defined as the last five minutes of a game within five points -- the Lakers' offensive efficiency takes a massive hit.

Monday though, down two with a couple seconds left, the Lakers drew one up for you-know-who and it was a beauty. After Kobe caught the ball, I would assume every Dallas Maverick fan there is immediately sensed the worst coming. Kobe had a clean look and we all just knew we were about to watch the latest signature Kobe in the clutch moment.

Except a funny thing happened. He missed. Just barely, but he did.

A shame too, because what a great play it was. Andrew Bynum completely swallowed Jason Kidd whole, Derek Fisher delivered the ball on time and Kobe got a clean look. That, was a great play. That, was a great look. If Kobe nails it, we're all talking about The Black Mamba for a few days and bringing up names like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and every other big playoff shotmaker. But he missed it. It happens. Still, a great look for him.
Posted on: May 2, 2011 1:51 am
Edited on: May 2, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Mavericks-Lakers preview: The first time

A preview of the first round playoff series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. Posted by Ben Golliver.

kobe-kidd

I. Intro: No. 3 seed Dallas Mavericks (57-25) vs. No. 2 seed Los Angeles Lakers (57-25)

For the first time in the Dirk Nowitzki era, these two long-time Western Conference powers will face off in the playoffs. The Mavericks arrive in the Western Conference semifinals after knocking out the Blazers in six games. The Lakers are here by virtue of dispatching the New Orleans Hornets in six games.  Both teams are among the oldest in the league, sporting cores that have been through playoff fires together. (Obviously the Mavericks have been burned a bit worse than the Lakers). 

The Lakers and Mavericks were similarly effective during the regular season, winning 57 games and putting up very, very similar efficiency numbers. The Lakers were No. 7 on offense and No. 6 on defense while the Mavericks were No. 8 on offense and No. 7 on defense. The teams even played exactly the same pace during the regular season, slightly below league average.

The Lakers, however, were a marginally better rebounding team and a significantly better team when it comes to taking care of the ball. Dallas enjoyed one major advantage: they lead the league in assist rate, meaning that no one scores a greater percentage of their points directly from passes. That offensive balance is key as the Mavericks generally have four scoring options on the court at all times and do a nice job of maximizing those players' skills. 

The difference between these two even-on-paper teams could very well wind up being L.A.'s star talent. The combination of Kobe Bryant / Pau Gasol / Andrew Bynum / Lamar Odom is a vicious four-headed monster for Nowitzki to fight off with a supporting cast that is a fairly motley crew at this stage of their careers.  

II. What Happened: A look at the season series

The Lakers took the season series, 2-1, with all three games taking place since New Year's Day. Both Lakers victories came in March. The most recent one was a chippy 110-82 blowout victory at Staples Center that saw multiple ejections, including forward Matt Barnes for throwing Mavericks assistant coach Terry Stotts to the ground. 

The teams split in Texas, where Dallas took a high-scoring 109-100 affair in January while the Lakers won a March grinder, 96-91.

L.A.'s homecourt advantage is a factor here, but both teams are equally capable of stealing a game in this series. Not only did these teams have identical regular season records, they were also very similar in their home/road split. The Lakers were 30-11 at home and 27-14 on the road; The Mavericks were 29-12 at home and a league-best 28-13 on the road. Both teams won on the road at least once during their first round series, including dual Game 6 close-out victories on the road. 

III. Secret of the Series: Foul trouble

A critical determining factor in this series could be foul trouble, as the Lakers succeeded in pounding the paint over the course of their first round series against the Hornets. While Dallas has better bigs than New Orleans by a long shot, they aren't particularly deep in the front court. Center Tyson Chandler was regularly in foul trouble against Portland, a factor the Blazers weren't able to fully exploit because their own front court lacks depth and size. 

The Lakers, on the other hand, are perfectly suited to making Chandler pay if he gets two or three quick ones. Gasol, Bynum and Odom are all capable scorers and Bryant can get into the paint when necessary too. If Chandler is able to stay on the court, the Mavericks stand a chance. If not, they'll be hard-pressed to rebound on both ends and prevent second chance points, and it will put an even greater burden on Nowitzki. Expect the Lakers to attack this positional weakness much more aggressively and directly than they did in round one.  

IV. The Line-Item Veto: Who wins each match-up?

PG: Jason Kidd's three-point shooting and overall offensive orchestry was a major difference-maker in Dallas' series victory over Portland. Derek Fisher will gladly serve as the underdog in this match-up as long as he doesn't have to guard Hornets point guard Chris Paul again. Advantage: Mavericks. 

SG: Despite all the talk about his ankle, Kobe Bryant surely looks healthy enough to enjoy great success here. The Mavericks are extremely weak at the two-guard spot, something they did well to overcome in their opening round series. DeShawn Stevenson and a ready-to-go Roddy Beaubois will set the table for sixth man Jason Terry, who came on strong late in the Portland series, but none are equipped to defend Bryant. Huge advantage: Lakers. 

SF: Shawn Marion was perhaps Dallas' most pleasant surprise in round one as he neutralized Portland's potential X-factor, Gerald Wallace, while also chipping in on the boards and with some scoring production. Ron Artest probably hasn't hit his stride yet but we're entering the part of the calendar when he is at his best, making everyone's life miserable and making heady hustle plays. Marion was good for 10.5 points and 6.2 rebounds in round one; Artest put up 11.8 and 5.0. Artest could very well end up winning out. For now, call this one a push. 

PF: Just as Dirk Nowitzki vs. LaMarcus Aldridge was one of the must-watch first round matchups, so too will be Nowitzki vs. Pau Gasol. There's no question about who played better in round one. Nowitzki carried the Mavericks by averaging 27.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while Gasol once again warded off criticism for his passive play. If there's a silver lining for Gasol, it's that he will have plenty of help from Artest, Lamar Odom and company in defending Nowitzki. Still, he will have his hands full. Advantage: Mavericks.

C: The Lakers should win the pivot. Andrew Bynum was dominant against the Hornets, putting up 15.2 points and 10.3 rebounds while also blocking nearly two shots per game. Tyson Chandler isn't asked to score much, but he did rebound effectively against the Blazers, including a monster 20-rebound performance to help secure a Game 5 victory.  The key issue, as mentioned above, will be his ability to stay out of foul trouble. His back-up, Brendan Haywood, doesn't stand a chance in this series. Advantage: Lakers.

Bench: This match-up pits this year's Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom, versus a perennial candidate for that award, in Terry. Both present defensive problems for their opponents but Odom is a particularly tough cover for the Mavericks. The burden will likely fall to Marion, who will have to wrestle with Artest and then track Odom all over the court. That's a lot for one man to bear. Dallas' reserves don't stand much of a chance of helping ease that load, either. The Lakers will continue to use Shannon Brown and Steve Blake to make life easier for Derek Fisher while the return of Beaubois could provide a much-needed athleticism and energy spark off of Dallas' bench, as J.J. Barea didn't get much done in round one. Terry aside, L.A.'s backcourt is a touch more proven and cohesive. Overall, slight advantage: Lakers.

Coach: Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle did an excellent job of making the necessary adjustments in round one but he had the deeper and more talented team on both sides of the ball. He will be on the other side of that equation in round two and that will make his life, and the adjustments, significantly more difficult. Meanwhile, Lakers coach Phil Jackson still has more rings than anyone can count and was able to pull L.A. through some stretches of sporadic play to knock off a feisty Hornets team. He's still got it. Advantage: Lakers.

V. Conclusion

The Lakers aren't playing perfectly but, in sum, are simply a cut above the Mavericks from a talent perspective. They've got multiple options to throw at Nowitzki, no other clear match-up disadvantages, multiple stars in Bryant and Odom that should be able to operate with impunity and a third in Bynum who could swing the series if he continues to show the unstoppable size/skill combination that he flashed in round one. The Mavericks are confident, capable of getting hot and smartly get to the line late in games, especially at home. Ultimately, that probably won't be enough. Prediction: Lakers in 6.

Posted on: April 30, 2011 7:49 pm
 

Carlisle: Caron Butler won't play against Lakers

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle says forward Caron Butler won't play against the Los Angeles Lakers. Posted by Ben Golliver. caron-butler

Back in January, Dallas Mavericks forward Caron Butler underwent surgery to repair a ruptered right patellar tendon. Soon after, he started making noise about attempting a possible playoff return.

According to ESPNDallas.com, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said on Friday that a return will not take place during Dallas' second round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers, which is set to begin on Monday.
"He is not going to play in this series," Carlisle told 103.3 FM ESPN's Galloway and Company, adding that Butler has yet to be cleared by a doctor.
Butler's absence puts added pressure on Shawn Marion, who must deal with the likes of Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes. Marion averaged 10.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in Dallas' first round series against the Portland Trail Blazers

The Mavericks will also turn to reserve forward Peja Stojakovic, who provided some timeline three-point shooting.

Butler would have been a major difference-maker, given the talent and physicality of L.A.'s perimeter players. Marion did an excellent job of holding Blazers forward Gerald Wallace in check but he also benefited from the fact that Portland's other wing players -- Nicolas Batum, Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez -- aren't particularly physical or adept at getting to the free throw line. 

Odom, in particular, could become a nightmare match-up for the Mavericks.  
Posted on: April 21, 2011 3:32 am
Edited on: April 21, 2011 4:09 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hornets-Lakers: Bynum big in Game 2

The Los Angeles Lakers evened their first round series with the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night. Posted by Ben Golliver.
hornets-lakers

Championship teams can beat you at their game, and they can beat you at your game, too.


The Los Angeles Lakers looked like a genuine contender for the first time in a few weeks on Wednesday, downing the New Orleans Hornets in fairly ugly fashion, 87-79, to even their first-round series, 1-1. Only the Portland Trail Blazers played at a slower pace than New Orleans this season, and the out-gunned Hornets are happy to muck around in a low-scoring, sloppy setting when facing the longer, more athletic and more talented Lakers. With Kobe Bryant having an off night -- 11 points on 3-10 shooting -- and Pau Gasol continuing to do his Invisible Man routine -- eight points and five rebounds -- Wednesday was the rare night. If was a night in which Andrew Bynum became L.A.'s headliner. 

The biggest man on the court was the obvious difference-maker, showing up huge in the box score and the game plan. And Bynum's contributions were especially valuable on a night when both teams combined to commit 29 turnovers, and were whistled for 42 fouls that led to 54 free throws.

For a center, owning the paint comes down to finishing at the rim and clearing the defensive glass in traffic. That was Bynum's Modus operandi in Game 2, after proving in Game 1 that no one on the Hornets' undersized roster can really handle his strength and bulk in the post. 

On Wednesday, the Lakers smartly exploited that fact, turning to Bynum regularly in the halfcourt set. Bynum scored 17 points on 8-11 shooting and had Emeka Okafor in early foul trouble again. Bynum was also the reason that many New Orleans possessions went one shot and done, as he gathered in 10 defensive rebounds and helped hold the New Orleans' bigs (Okafor, Carl Landry, Aaron Gray, Jason Smith, D.J. Mbenga, Jason Smith) to just five combined offensive boards in 93 minutes. 

Bynum showed comfort away from the basket on both ends, too. On offense, he stepped out to hit a few jumpers of varied length. If developed, that's a dimension to his game that could make him lethal. On defense, meanwhile, he ran regularly at Hornets point guard Chris Paul, especially late, contesting shots and walling off the court. Taking up space, but doing it with a bit of grace. His ability to step out when needed, and then return to the boards, impacted a number of scrums and, by the fourth quarter, it was clear that the Hornets bigs were worn down and simply not competing as hard as he was. Bynum's defensive numbers -- two blocks and one steal -- don't do his impact justice. 

Pro Basketball Talk quoted  Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Bynum's night.
“We know that [Bynum] is the one that plays well against this team because of his size,” Phil Jackson said after the game. “He really carries things pretty well, so we’re confident in him having a good game … we think he can play at an even higher level than this.”
Jackson's right. Bynum is still scratching the surface of his potential, mostly because he's so far down the normal offensive pecking order. Bynum scored 20+ points just once this season. Could he average 20 points per game next year if he was on a team that needed him to be the go-to scoring option, and he stayed healthy enough to play big minutes? I don't see why not.

That team isn't yet the Lakers, but it could be in a few years. Bynum's evident maturity -- there's a lot less pouting these days -- makes imagining his future a tantalizing project. How much higher a level can Bynum reach? Who knows. But he looked like the NBA's best center not named Dwight Howard on Wednesday. If he continues to play at this level, pencil the Lakers into the Western Conference Finals.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com