Tag:Lamar Odom
Posted on: March 30, 2011 8:09 am
 

Shootaround 3.30.11: Cavs fans rejoice

Cleveland Cavaliers fans are treated to a great win, Lamar Odom connects with Lakers fans, a look at tonight's McDonald's All-American Game, Carlos Boozer goes pop and Jalen Rose's mug shot, plus a whole lot more. Posted by Ben Golliver. shootaround
  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has the latest from around the league in his post-ups.
  • RealGM has a nice primer on tonight's McDonald's All-American Game.
  • TMZ with more details of Jalen Rose's DUI arrest, including a mug shot. 
  • John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog gets to enjoy a recap for a change. "The Heat couldn’t focus, and the Cavs refused to believe that they were going to miss. Unbelievable. Great performance. Every court is just as wide as the next. The three-point line is in the same place. The lane is just as wide. The charge circles are painted the same. And yet there’s something about a special crowd that can change the outcome of a game. That’s what happened on Tuesday. A great win, and one the fans deserved."
Posted on: March 28, 2011 8:22 am
Edited on: March 28, 2011 8:24 am
 

Shootaround 3.28.11: Miami's Big 3 makes history

The Miami Heat's Big 3 make history, the Los Angeles Lakers could take a big financial hit, Russell Westbrook went big, the Portland Trail Blazers contemplate change and the New York Knicks make changes to their schedule. Posted by Ben Golliver. shootaround
  • The New York Times reports that the struggling Knicks are trying everything -- including making changes to their schedule's standard operating procedures -- to try to turn things around. 
  • The L.A. Times reports that Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom sounds kind of excited about potentially winning the NBA's Sixth Man Award. "It would be a great accomplishment," he said. "I never would have seen myself four or five years ago coming off the bench."
  • Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook was huge -- absolutely huge -- in a Sunday night win over the Portland Trail Blazers, sticking a three-pointer to ice it in the game's closing minutes. His coach Scott Brooks' take, according to The Oklahoman: “They were big shots. I'm not going to sit up here and say they were great shots, but they were big shots.”
  • ESPNLA.com says the Lakers could lose roughly 10% of their reported $3 billion cable TV deal if the Sacramento Kings move to Anaheim.
  • NetsDaily.com interviews Dmitry Razumov, "indispensable man" to New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. "I’ve closed many deals during my career," Razumov tells NetsDaily. "My proudest moments with the Nets so far have been when we closed the deal and the Deron trade." 
Posted on: March 23, 2011 2:27 am
 

Lakers need three OTs to put away the pesky Suns

Posted by Royce Young



You want March Madness, have you some March Madness.

The Lakers and Suns played an instant classic Tuesday night with the game going to three extra frames before Los Angeles finally prevailed, 139-137. Here's how wild this one was: Eventually it took a Ron Artest takeover in the third overtime for this thing to go to bed.

It was the type of game where it appeared to be over multiple times, but because of the Suns' ability to knock down 3s and the Lakers having Kobe Bryant, neither team would lay down. Finally the Suns ran out of gas after Artest hit a tough jumper in the lane to put the Lakers up five with a minute to go. Channing Frye drained a 3 to get it back to two, but Kobe hit a runner with 14 seconds left to put L.A. back up four. The Suns wasted too much time before Vince Carter finally hit a layup with 1.2 seconds left and all the Lakers had to do was get the ball in.

But that's just how it ended. How we got there is the interesting part.

In regulation, Grant Hill hit a corner 3 to tie the game at 112-112. Kobe missed a decent look to win and Phoenix snared the rebound. With a chance to win at the buzzer and save us all an extra hour, Carter missed wide on a 3 at the horn. On to overtime.

The Lakers looked to have it locked up leading by three and after a missed trey, Steve Nash tracked down the rebound and kicked back to Frye who was fouled on a desperation 3 by Lamar Odom. Naturally Frye drained all three free throws and we were off to another five minutes.

Phoenix had its chance in the second OT. Nash made an absolutely unreal play passing the ball behind his back as he was falling of out bounds to Marcin Gortat who steamrolled down the lane, eventually kicking to a wide open Frye who drained a 3 to put the Suns up 130-128 with 50 seconds left. The Suns got a stop, but Nash was unable to convert. The Lakers ended up with Pau Gasol knocking down a pair of free throws to knot the game at 130-130 and send us to a third overtime.

The Suns scored first and the Lakers started the third OT frame 0-6 from the field before Kobe eventually drained a deep ball. But maybe the biggest play came right before it as Grant Hill, who had defended Kobe brilliantly, picked up back-to-back which happened to be his fifth and sixth. Kobe immediately dropped the 3 to put L.A. up 133-132. Artest came up with a steal and a surprising lefty dunk, then hit the jumper that basically sealed it.

It was, quite the game.

A lot was on the line for Phoenix who are battling for eighth in the West while the Lakers are still trying to lock up the No. 2 seed. The Suns obviously need every game they're in and this one was no exception. They're three games back of the Grizzlies right now and with time running low on this season, each game is at the highest importance. Shame is, this triple-overtime game may cost them two, as they play Wednesday night at home versus the Raptors. Obviously still winnable, but it'll be interesting to see how the old bodies of Nash and Hill respond to play for three-plus hours.

Some games just don't die. Especially when you have a team as resiliant and hungry as the Suns against a team as talented and smart as the Lakers. What's funny, is that the only reason we got to three overtimes is because the Lakers blew a 15-point lead in the second half. The Suns got hot from 3, the Laker offense went cold (specifically the second unit) and Phoenix executed and hung in there. It's a bummer for the Suns to put that much in only to lose, but it was quite the effort and truly a terrific game.

Some stats from this one:
  • Channing Frye played a game-high 57 minutes. He scored 32 points and had 14 rebounds.
  • Coming off the bench, Marcin Gortat played 53 minutes and had 24 points and 16 rebounds.
  • The Lakers took 120 shots. Phoenix attempted 106.
  • The upset of the night? Kobe played 48 minutes and three overtimes yet somehow still only took 31 shots. He scored 42 points though and had 12 rebounds and nine assists to go with it.
  • Steve Nash finished with 20 assists and 19 points.
  • Impressive stat:The Lakers and Suns combined for just 22 turnovers in a triple-overtime game. That's crazy.
  • Opposite of impressive: In a game that went to three OTs and was that close, Vince Carter was still somehow a -20.
  • Derek Fisher finished with just two points on 0-7 shooting in 46 minutes.
  • Robin Lopez, who started the game at center for Phoenix, played only 10 minutes.
  • This was only second-ever triple-OT game at home in Los Angeles Lakers history. Other one came in February 1969.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 8:31 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 8:35 am
 

Kobe Bryant 'proud' of Andrew Bynum's dirty foul

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant says he is proud of center Andrew Bynum's hard foul. Posted by Ben Golliver. kobe-bynum

Over the weekend, we noted that Los Angeles Lakers big man Andrew Bynum was suspended without pay for two games by the NBA for a hard foul he delivered on Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley. Bynum met Beasley in the air, made no real attempt on the ball and sent Beasley crashing to the floor. It was a play straight out of Rick Mahorn's playbook.

That type of mindless thuggery might rub some people the wrong way, but it didn't bother Lakers star Kobe Bryant. On the contrary, reports the Los Angeles Times, Bryant was pleased to see it.
Not all the Lakers were upset with the league's decision. "I'm proud of him," Kobe Bryant said of Bynum. "He earned his stripes."
Bynum is in a weird spot with the Lakers for two reasons. One: he's younger and noticeably less mature than the rest of the team's core. Two: he's almost always the biggest player on the court. That combination leaves Bynum open to all sorts of criticism from fans (and teammates) if Los Angeles gives up too many points in the paint or if the Lakers get outrebounded.

In short, Bynum is a big, easy target for criticism. If the Lakers don't own the middle, it's his fault.

Bryant's positive reinforcement of dangerous behavior isn't really the best look, but it makes sense in context because the Lakers, like most contenders, feel that interior dominance is the key factor to playoff success. Pau Gasol is who he is: long and lean, not strong and mean. Lakers forwards Lamar Odom and Ron Artest are great at physically dominating their match-ups and getting inside opponents' heads, but they're not capable of the kind of space-eating intimidation that Bynum is.

This situation, then, becomes less about the actual foul and more about the fact that Bynum showed he was capable of delivering some pain. Had this play happened in the postseason and cost Bynum multiple playoff games, the cheerleading wouldn't be nearly as loud. The excitement today comes from the idea that Bynum, perhaps, has a reputation now. 

And, like it or not, reputations can influence players' decisions and, in turn, can influence games.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 12:28 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 12:54 am
 

What to remember from Lakers-Heat II

The Heat win a big one as the entire team steps up, while Kobe Bryant shows what makes him great, and frustrating, after the game. 
Posted by Matt Moore




Let's get this out the way. 

While this game was one that the Lakers genuinely cared about (as evidenced by the kind of effort given by both the players and Phil Jackson, who not only actively coached, but yelled at officials standing up, and called timeouts), it does not "matter." The Heat is still unlikely to face the Lakers again this season with both Chicago (0-2) and Boston (0-2) somewhere in their spring future. Had the Lakers won, it would not be a death knell on the Heat's future. This is not a conviction of the Lakers' season. 

But it was a great game, and it was one in which there were things that made zero sense, and some that made all the sense in the entire world. 




What we'll remember from this game

The Heat gave everything: We'd waited all season for them to rise to a moment, and they finally did. Wade diving on the floor for a loose ball, chucking it to James for a dunk so hard he wound up in the second row of photographers. It was effort from start to finish, and it was impressive, despite some terrible shooting performances. 

Dwyane Wade rose to the moment: I couldn't get over how terrible Dwyane Wade looked for the first 36 minutes of the game. He was losing balls unforced out of bounds off the dribble. He was missing wide-open spot-up threes. He was playing as he had in every big game for the Heat this year. Then suddenly, it all fell into place and Dwyane Wade, the Dwyane Wade who's an NBA champion, an MVP candidate, one of the best shooting guards in the history of the game stepped up and made the plays he needed to make to win the game. It was a definite redemption after the last three weeks of struggle, and something the Heat badly needed. James did his job, Wade did his job, capitalized on the opportunities, and perhaps most importantly, didn't settle from the outside. He attacked, and the result was shots at the rim. Wade's final eight-minute stretch? Eight points on 4-7 shooting, 2 offensive rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, 1 turnover. 

Chris Bosh shutting everyone up: Chris Bosh was supposed to struggle in the post. He was supposed to be the weak link. And he has for most of the year. But against the Lakers, he was everything he said he would be. He hit the post-turnaround over bigger defenders, he grabbed 9 boards, he worked hard at both ends, played aggressive, smart, and led the Heat in scoring. Chris Bosh was the best player for the Heat the whole night through. Who saw that coming?

Wasted Advantage Down Low: Andrew Bynum was 4-5 from the field, and 5-6 from the stripe for 13 points. That's some pretty incredible efficiency. Pau Gasol was 8-16 and 4-5 from the line. Not as stunning, but pretty good. Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, and Ron Artest were 14-37. You'd think that at some point, with the Heat trotting out Juwan Howard, Joel Anthony, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, that someone with the Lakers would say "Hey, maybe we should throw it to one of the really tall guys." It's not that their success is guaranteed, it's that it just seems like something that may have helped. The rebounding, though, that's all on the bigs. Outrebounded 46-37, with the Heat enjoying five more offensive boards. The Lakers did not bring their best efforts on the glass, worried too much about shutting down the Triad. 

Support players stepping up and down: The Heat bench outscored the Lakers' 22-16, something few saw coming. Mike Miller was in effect. The Heat badly needed a role player to step up in the first quarter, and it was Mario Chalmers, with three big 3-pointers. Zydrunas Ilgauskas wound up a +16 on the night. That's just an impressive overall performance for a squad that's been mocked, derided, and questioned all seasons. Against one of the stronger units, they stepped up and were a huge part of the Heat win. 

Kobe Bryant after-hours: Is there a more iconic image of Bryant? In a game that featured a terrible shooting performance from him, where he turned the ball over late, where he hoisted 35-foot 3-pointers into the air, ignoring any semblance of an offensive system, he returns an hour after the game to work on his jumper. This is Kobe Bryant, the most feared player in the NBA, determined to work on the very shots that should never have been taken, confident that if he works hard enough, they'll fall, because they've fallen before. Maybe they fell because he was younger, stronger, but he'll never approach the game that way and his fans will never want him to. They'll want him doing exactly what he did Thursday night, work on his game until his blood's run dry, even if that game isn't what Phil Jackson wants, the Lakers need, or his body requires. As for why he says he did it? "This is (his) job." He'll focus on those shots he missed, never considering that maybe he should have created, should have worked in the flow of the offense, should have been a part of the engine as opposed to the sole operator. He's won five championships because of this, he may win his sixth because of this, and he'll be simultaneously revered and reviled because of it. Some will say it's what sets him apart from LeBron James even as James got the win. Others will say it's an attention-grabbing stunt, even as he never informed media he'd be there or paid any attention to them. Kobe Bryant will always be the player we can never agree on, can never let go of.  He's too determined, too stubborn, too brilliant, too frustrating. But at the end of the day, he's got his rings, and a great chance at another. For one night, however, he's got that gym, and his thoughts. 

The Heat have the win. 
Posted on: March 10, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:54 pm
 

5 Things to Watch: Lakers at Heat

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?

Lakers at Heat
2. Mamba Killing: Kobe Bryant has been on a tear, looking like, well, Kobe Bryant since the All-Star break. The whole repertoire has been in effect, including the shake-and-bake fadeaway, the drive and kick pull-up jumper, and the baseline spin floater off the glass. All the greatest hits, essentially. The question tonight will be how the Heat guard him. Typically, they sick Dywane Wade on Bryant and don't bring help, but Byrant's been hot enough that may not be possible. The best option may honestly be to put LeBron James on him and hope the Lakers don't immediately put Lamar Odom in the post versus either Wade or Mike Miller. Otherwise, the Heat have to be ready with help defense on Bryant, particularly at the elbow where he does a ton of damage. 

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 8, 2011 12:34 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 1:34 pm
 

Report: Lakers step into Melo talks

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tangled web gets even more tangled. These are the days of our Melo.
Posted on: February 8, 2011 1:12 am
Edited on: February 8, 2011 1:35 am
 

Defense sets the tone as Lakers back on track

Following disappointing losses to the Celtics and Spurs, the Lakers have won two straight after downing Memphis in an ugly slobber-knocker. 
Posted by Matt Moore




It's pretty simple, really, and that's what makes it so frustrating. When the Los Angeles Lakers execute with focus and intensity, they win. That may sound like it could be true for any team in the National Basketball Association, but it's not.  Many teams give the good effort but don't have the talent, don't have the size, don't have the experience. Nowhere was that more evident than in the Lakers' 93-84 slugfest win over Memphis to put the Lakers back on a winning streak headed into Thursday's rematch with Boston. 

Before the game, Phil Jackson commented that despite L.A. having lost the last two to this upstart Grizzlies team, that the key to beating Memphis wasn't about Memphis at all. 

"I'm not so much concerned about Memphis," Jackson said, "as I am concerned about us." 

Nothing new for Jackson, who thrives on undermining opponents and focusing on being the most talented team in basketball, which he's almost always coaching. And after the Lakers bludgeoned the Grizzlies' frontline, Jackson commented that controlling the tempo was a key to taking control of the game after a Grizzlies run in the third quarter. It's really that simple. The Lakers are a superior team, and when they focus, and execute, there's not a team in the league outside of Boston who can stop them. 

Funny, the Lakers seem to be headed to face that test back on the right track.  After disappointing losses to Sacramento, Boston, and San Antonio, the Lakers have won two in a row and seem to be playing with more cohesion, especially defensively. But the biggest advantage is still their team makeup, which features superb talent wrapped in size and length that's nearly impossible to combat for 48 minutes. 

Versus the previous losses where Kobe Bryant took over the lion's share of the offense and continued to force things, this win featured equal contributions from the entire Lakers' arsenal. But really? It was the three-headed monster of Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum, a 20'10'' beast that when functioning, swallows opponents alive. Odom, who has been the most consistent Laker this season (if you thought you'd ever say that sentence out loud, please buy yourself an ice cream cone), was huge against Memphis with 15 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, and zero turnovers. It was his three-point play late in the fourth that put the game out of reach for good. 

Jackson commented post game that he had actually decided to draw up a play for Odom instead of just having the ball given to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers watching him dribble around. After the play resulted in a three-point play, Odom remarked that they should draw that play up more, Jackson remarked, laughing. But it cuts to the center of the Lakers' problems this season, and why Jackson has remained calm, cool, and collected throughout the struggle. When they execute, when they have the energy, they are the most talented team in basketball. And no one can match up with their size and length, let alone their versatility. 

Lamar Odom said after the game, however, that it's not their size that really makes the Lakers so tough. 

"We've got so many different lineups we can play, so many guys who can play different positions. The strength of our team is our depth." 

Against the Grizzlies, that was apparent, as the combinations Lionel Hollins employed never seemed to spark a run, and the Lakers used varying combinations to constantly put the Grizzlies off-balance. For example, Pau Gasol started on, and played primarily against Zach Randolph, and Gasol's gangly reach kept the normally surefire offense or Randolph at bay, forcing a dreadful 2-14 performance that sealed Memphis' fate. You will not beat L.A. if you do not get frontcourt scoring, and the Lakers' three-headed beast outscored Randolph, Rudy Gay, and Marc Gasol 43-36, and that's before you factor in an aggressive Kobe Bryant. 

Perhaps most pertinent heading into the more hyped game Thursday was that the Lakers showed a real sense of toughness in a gritty win. There was no flashy burst of offense in this one. It was messy, ugly, and brutal. The Lakers out-muscled and out-worked the Grizzlies at the defensive end.  Ron Artest took a shot to the mouth from Marc Gasol, but the Lakers' bigs spent the rest of the night bullying the younger Gasol and company. 

The swagger is back, even as they have not poured in a consistent blowout effort yet. It doesn't have to be. All this team has to do is play to a reasonable percentage of its potential and they'll be back vying for a top-two seed. And if they don't get it, that's fine, as long as they're in a position to execute as they did tonight. But don't expect the same kind of talkative swagger you expect from Boston about this "revenge game." When asked about what the Lakers hope to do against the Celtics, Jackson cracked that cocky smirk of his and said...

"Hopefully it's not going to snow and we won't get trapped in with the ice and we'll be fine." 

Same old Lakers.  Except this time, they seem ready to throw a few punches as well as those flashy smiles. 
*******************
Notes:
  • The crowd at FedEx Forum was split evenly between Grizzlies fans and Lakers fans (particularly Kobe Bryant fans as few of the other Lakers received genuine cheers).  The game had the feel of a neutral site game for both teams. 
  • Jackson said he had not yet showed the team tape from the Boston loss a little over a week ago. He planned to do that on the two-day break between games. 
  • Shannon Brown said that the Triangle forces the team concept on the Lakers, and eliminates the drive to get your stats. He also mentioned that his improved shooting wasn't on account of working with a shooting coach, but more reps inside the flow of an offense last summer. 
  • Bryant received treatment on an ankle sore after the game and was walking pretty gingerly in the locker room. 
  • After I promised not to ask Marc Gasol about his brother and the overhyped cliche-fest stories they're always billed around when these two teams meet, Gasol was appreciative, admitting that the questions were "getting a little old." As a younger brother, I completely understood. 
  • Jackson credited Ron Artest from walking away from the confrontation with Gasol, but in reality, it was a little overdramatic. It was an obvious accidental hit, and Artest seemed ready to detonate in a very Ron-Artest way before calming down and heading to the free throw line, bricking both free throws, and coming out to get treatment. Can't blame him for clanking those, though, considering the shot he took.
  • Speaking of clanging free throws, the Lakers missed as many free throws (14) as the Grizzlies hit. 
  • The Lakers refrain was pretty simple as to what won the game. Bryant, Odom, and Artest all said the same thing: the Lakers winning ways begin with defense. 
  • Snoop Dogg and Warren G were both in the house. If you have never seen Snoop Dogg interacting with SuperGrizz, the Grizzlies mascot in a superhero outfit, you have not truly experienced life. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com