Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Time to Exhale

2010 NBA Playoffs - Western Conference
Los Angeles Lakers (1) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (8) @ L.A.
Round 1 - Game 5
Lakers lead 3-2

Post Game

Okay, can we exhale a little now? Tonight's victory seemed effortless and Hollywood scripted for an "amazing" 7 game series. It's obvious that home court advantage means EVERYTHING. Thunder can't beat us in L.A. and we cant beat them in Oklahoma City. Since Game 7 is at Staples Center and if we follow this series example Lakers will win in what came out to be a very exhausting battle among the surprising conference bottom seed.

This long first round series can either be a good thing or a fuel guzzling experience that might hurt the Lakers. L.A. can ride this momentum into the second round against the most likely Utah Jazz or come in worn out mirroring efforts from the regular season jet lag away games.

I understand that the Western Conference holds the more competitive match-ups but seeing how easily Cleveland, Boston and Orlando have moved on really concerns me. As a whole they only lost two games where as the favored top Western Conference teams are struggling early on. Denver losing 1-3, Dallas down 2-3 and us failing to close the 1st round sooner than expected. Never mind what the second round holds for us (assuming we pass the Thunder), we need to play with the same intensity as our rivals across the map because if we don't the Eastern Conference will tower over the beaten West with no mercy.

I'm not going to point out notable stats like I usually do because tonight's game was given by an OKC team who gave up in the second half. All they want to do now is fly back home to take their expected W and hope to finish this series with an upset back here in L.A.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"What the hell is going on around here?"

When Kobe Bryant was bombarded with questions by the concerned media today at practice about the Lakers back being against the wall, he gave a very quick frustrated reply, "What the hells going on around here? It's a 2-2 series, it's the playoffs". He's right people, it is a 2-2 series and it is after all the playoffs where the expected is thrown out and the unexpected is welcomed. What do you expect? I swear Lakers fans are so spoiled and only expect flawless results after every game. The reality is the Lakers have many flaws and OKC took full advantage of them the last two games.

Here are the Lakers flaws so far this playoffs series, in my opinion.

Lakers can not guard Westbrook at the 1 position, he's too fast. Either double-team him or match-up better. I love D. Fish to death but he's just not a good match-up with Westbrook.

Lakers perimeter defense collapses because of unnecessary double-teaming in the inside and slow switch-offs. Time and again I see players leaving their man open outside to try and grab the rebound from an assumed penetrating shot attempt and most of the time the inevitable outside dish is thrown at the exact time L.A. fans sigh with frustration.

Kobe, in facilitator mode, hurts the team. I know this is an unfortunate catch 22 for Kobe because when he shoots too much the media gets on him and when he shoots less the media gets on him. What do you want from the man? I agree 2 shot attempts a quarter isn't going to cut it so Kobe has to facilitate much less and orchestrate the offense with his usual barrage of shot attempts. I really don't care if he goes 15-100 as long as his points help towards a Lakers victory. I prefer Kobe demanding the rock rather than him passing it. Until I see his teammates (other than Gasol) start making their shots I would prefer to see Kobe ball hog at this point. It's now time for Kobe to be Kobe again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NBA Playoffs: Lakers vs Thunder Game 3 Post Game

2010 NBA Playoffs - Western Conference
Los Angeles Lakers (1) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (8) @ OKC
Round 1 - Game 3
Lakers lead 2-1

Post Game

First of all, what a game. Secondly, congrats to Oklahoma City and their rowdy fans. The fans came out tonight as thunderous as the Thunder and truly deserve the game ball. The Thunder roll over the Lakers 101-96.

Okay now to the game...pattern shows that the Lakers have started each playoff game in this series very strong beating OKC in the 1st quarter, having them play in catch-up mode from the beginning. Kobe hit several crowd silencing 3 pointers throughout the game that momentarily broke the Thunder's momentum but his 24 points were just not enough. D. Fish was impressive tonight hitting his shots right from the get-go, setting the tempo with his teammates following. We need his veteran leadership and offensive contribution in the upcoming playoff rounds against the better teams from the West (assuming we pass OKC). The entire first unit played well but OKC simply played better. The Spaniard did his usual damage by crashing the boards and using his height to score easy buckets under the rim and in transition. Gasol has the ability to find himself in open inside gaps for the open pass and easy put back baskets. This has been very damaging for the Thunder all series long. OKC needs to box out Gasol. Pau had 17 pts. w/ 15 rebs. Artest played well but he needs to seriously either grow smaller feet or look at the 3 point line because 2 or 3 long range shots should have counted for 3 as his toenails were on the line.

As for the Thunder tonight, Harden came out of his shell and scored 18 points to help the Thunder come out victorious. Durant was cold in the early going but just went off in the 2nd half. He ended up grabbing 19 boards with 29 points. Westbrook and his quick speed around defenders hurt the Lakers. His fast step back hesitation dribble to still the defense for either an open jump shot or a penetrating dunk was the difference in tonight's game. He ended the night with 27 points. The second half was really where Oklahoma City destroyed L.A. They took advantage of Kobe resting and sprayed L.A. with their perimeter assault and slashing offense leading to crowd deafening dunks and 3 pointers. Westbrook was just too damn quick for any Laker to guard and Kevin Durant was on FIRE!!! You could have put Manute Bol on Shawn Bradley's shoulders to defend Durant and Durant still would've found a way to score. Westbrook and Durant in the second half took the game with their production alone and with the crowd behind them, they were simply unstoppable.

Click on the link below for tonight's box score courtesy of Yahoo Sports!
Lakers vs Thunder - Game 3 Box Score

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Craig Calloway Makes Half Court Shot For $235,000

How to make $235,000 in just a matter of seconds. Craig Calloway, an electrician from Compton, had a opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to win the Mirage Big Shot Jackpot Challenge of $235,000 by making a half court shot right before the 4th quarter in last night's game. Craig dribbles a little (million thoughts running through his head I'm sure), takes a quick second to say a last prayer and chucked up a half court bomb and MADE IT! He not only nailed the long ball, he swished it hitting nothing but net.

Congrats Craig! That ball was going in the very second it left your fingertips!

L.A. Times Magazine Photo Shoot - Kobe Bryant

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NBA Playoffs: Lakers vs Thunder - Game 2 Post Game

2010 NBA Playoffs - Western Conference
Los Angeles Lakers (1) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (8)
Round 1 - Game 2
Lakers lead 2-0

Post Game

Today was a beautiful day despite the evening gloom of a rainy forecast. The setting sun peeking through the clouds to take a look. Fans surrounding the front of the Staples Center to share the moment. Laker legends arriving to help honor one of their own, a teammate whose performance game in and game out decorated the court poetically with his words and his microphone.

Outside before the game, Marge Hearn helped with the unveiling of her husband's statue. Chick Hearn sat tall at 16 feet, weighing at 5,000 pounds, and looking as dashing as ever. What makes his statue especially awesome is the photo op for fans. The statue includes an empty seat next to Hearn so fans can sit next to him and pose for photographs, similar to Red Auerbach's statue at Faneuil Hall in Boston.
Photo source: Flickr

The Lakers HAVE to win now with the great Chick Hearns revisiting the Staples Center. What a game of ups and downs and one-sided quarters. A game too close for comfort. Lakers easily take the 1st quarter and the Thunder turn it around and easily take the 2nd quarter. The second half showed a much tighter contested ball game with the score drawn even towards the end. Thunder had their chances to tie or even take the lead with just seconds left but fail to close out in the clutch. Lakers win in the final seconds of Game 2 to go up 2-0. Final score is 95-92.

Kobe scores a game high 38 points while Durant puts up a team high 32. These two stars who definitely hold their own did not disappoint fans. The difference in tonight's game for OKC was the starters production. All 5 starters scored in double digits where as only two Laker starters held 10+ points. Once again fans were given the Kobe and Pau show. Their points alone totaled 64 points, more than 4 Thunder starters altogether.

Any celebrities at the game? How about Kobe Bryant's Dad Joe "Jellybean" Bryant. Yes, Kobe's Dad was at the game giving Kobe that extra needed push.

The next 2 games will be in OKC. Kobe said at the end of the game that Oklahoma City is a hostile environment and the Thunder easily beat the Lakers last time they were out there. Thunder fans will need to make the Oklahoma Ford Center as hostile as can be in order to avoid the sweep.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NBA Playoffs: Lakers vs Thunder - Round 1 Game 1 Post Game

2010 NBA playoffs - Western Conference
Los Angeles Lakers (1) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (8)
Round 1 - Game 1

Post Game

Lakers take Game 1 pretty convincingly beating the Thunder 87-79. The BIG story to today's Laker victory was Bynum's return after missing 13 games. What an impact two 7 footers can bring to a game, especially when they're on the same team. Bynum came out with a vengeance making his defensive presence felt early by blocking two shots in the first half and adding two more in the second. This is what the Lakers were missing ending the regular season. His energy alone was contagious and erupted his teammates and fans. Go Bynum!

Its Playoff time which means only one thing. The postseason championship level Lakers that we all know and love come out to play. Lakers always press the START/STOP button when necessary. What many skeptics fail to realize is that the postseason is a different level of basketball. Mid April basketball brings out the more physical, more energetic, and more superior performances by the leagues best athletes.

You can immediately see a different Lakers squad hit the hardwood floor within the first minute of the game. The energy was high octane, the Lakers tempo was fast and the defense was very strong. Today's game reassured the fans why the Lakers are THE BEST team in the Western Conference. Both big men played well, having double doubles and Kobe did his usual thing by scoring in double figures (team high 21 points) and setting the tempo and help carry the momentum to where the Thunder had no chance to catch up. The 1st quarter was really where the game was won due to the Lakers outscoring the Thunder by 14 points, 27-13. L.A. played great in all areas of the court leaving OKC dazed and confused. Give credit to Ron Artest with helping contain Durant to just 24 points. I say just 24 points because the Durantula averaged 30 points in the regular season. Durant went 7-24.

Oklahoma City's Westbrook and Durant were the only notable players carrying the team but their production was no matchup to the Lakers over-all team performance (4-5 Lakers starters in double figures). The Thunder will need much more help offensively from anyone other than Westbrook and Durant in order to avoid a sweep. Jeff Green was nowhere to be seen. He needs to contribute with the minutes he's getting. You can see that Krstic's bruised knee is still bugging him so Collison will need to step up big to crash those REB's for second shot opportunities or fast transition basketball.

Click on the link here to view the box score to today's game: Yahoo Sports!

Shot of the game (or pre game). Team captain will always be among the first to show up at the Staples Center practicing his shots, here he's practicing his free-throws well before game time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2010 NBA Playoffs Bracket

It's official, the 2010 NBA Playoffs schedule is set and ready for dissecting. What a last week of regular season games. A week of ruined predictions, meaningless games, and important match-ups that determined home court advantage and clinched playoff spots.

To end the 2009-10 NBA regular season, fans were entertained with preseason-like performances fueled by season high bench productions and heavy media monitoring.

To make things a little easier for you, we have created an easy to follow bracket of the entire playoffs race starting with the first round. To download/print click below:

LAKERLIKER 2010 NBA Playoffs Bracket (PDF)

Remember, the NBA playoffs start this Saturday, April 17th! (for the Lakers it's the 18th) Here is the schedule for the 1st round against the Oklahoma City Thunder:

Game 1 - April 18th (Home)
12:00PM PST - TV: ABC

Game 2 - April 20th (Home)
7:30Pm PST - TV: TNT

Game 3 - April 22nd (Away)
6:30PM PST - TV: TNT

Game 4 - April 24th (Away)

* Game 5 - April 27th (Home)

* Game 6 - April 30th (Away)

* Game 7 - May 2nd (Home)

* If necessary

The Staples Center Honors Chick Hearn

The Golden Throat Chick Hearn will FINALLY be immortalized permanently (long over due) by having his statue unveiled at the front of Staples Center before Game 2 of the first-round NBA playoffs against OKC Thunder.

The statue will show Chick seated at his broadcast table wearing his famous headphones, sitting in front of his microphone that was left behind too soon in 2002. If it was up to me I would rename the Staples Center, the Chick Hearn Center. He will always be the voice of the Los Angeles Lakers. His soul may be rested but the 42 years of announcing for the Lakers game in and game out will NEVER be put to rest. We will always miss you Chick.

Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky and Oscar De La Hoya will look even taller with Chick Hearn's statuesque presence.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Look Back at the Lakers 2009-10 Season

We collected several photos (shown in no particular order) from this season to help depict the ups and downs before we revisit the upcoming postseason.

What's your favorite Lakers 2009-10 Lakers season moment?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bynum will play in the Playoffs!

LA Times: Then there’s the other starter who sat out Thursday’s game….

Lakers center Andrew Bynum missed his ninth game because of a strained left Achilles’ tendon, though he pledged to return by a fairly important date — April 18.

“I’m going to play the first game of the playoffs,” he said before the Lakers played Denver, staying back in the locker room with Kobe Bryant, who sat out because of swelling in his right knee.

Bynum missed 32 games down the stretch last season because of a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee, but said it wouldn’t take as long for him to return to form this time.

In fact, he seemed to look forward to a series of practices after the Lakers finish the regular season Wednesday against the Clippers.

“It’s definitely going to be a couple of games before you get into your rhythm, but I do have a bunch of practice days to get it in and get my touch back,” he said.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ESPN’s E:60 Examines Kobe Bryant’s Estranged Relationship with Philadelphia

ESPN's award-winning primetime newsmagazine E:60 will go back home to Philadelphia with NBA star Kobe Bryant in the episode airing Tuesday, April 13, at 7 p.m. ET. The program, which launched in October 2007, combines investigative reporting, in-depth profiles of intriguing sports personalities and features on emerging star athletes. These stories are presented in a fresh and innovative format that incorporates producer/correspondent meetings.

Even though he was a high school basketball standout in Philadelphia, Bryant has never enjoyed a warm relationship with his hometown and has often been booed when his Los Angeles Lakers have played there. E:60 reporter Lisa Salters goes back to Philadelphia with Bryant and as they visit some of Bryant’s favorite places, learns that the estranged relationship may be warming.

“You can’t really think about any major superstar who has the kind of relationship with his hometown that Kobe Bryant has,” said Salters, also a Philadelphia native. “Their hometowns have a love affair with their superstar athletes, and they are the hometown hero. And it just hasn’t always been the case with Kobe Bryant. He considers Philadelphia to be very special. He goes back during the summertime, he has relatives there, he talks fondly, like any athlete would, about their hometown. But when you mention Kobe Bryant’s name, people will either love him, or they will absolutely hate him.

“There are a lot of different factors that go into why – one is just because Philadelphia is Philadelphia. It’s unique in that sense. It’s the city that booed Santa Claus.”

Salters reports that the Philadelphia fans may be starting to be more accepting of Bryant. “When the Lakers were in Philly earlier this year, there were some chants of ‘MVP, MVP!’ in the crowd. It was the first time I had ever heard it, and Kobe heard it, too.”

Here is a preview clip of the Kobe Bryant feature. (click on second video clip from side panel)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Playoffs Just 5 Games Away

Five more regular season games until the 2010 NBA Playoffs. The playoffs is where it counts, I can personally care less about these last games. We got the top spot in the West and now lets just prepare to meet the top spot in the East, Cleveland.

I hear all this talk about how important it is for the Lakers to finish strong before entering the playoffs, who cares! Actually, rest the starters as much as we can because on April 17th, the remaining teams will be introduced to an entirely new Lakers squad. Bynum will be back eager to help the team, and Gasol will continue to play well and better when fellow big man is back on the court, Kobe will go into Playoffs mode, D Fish will be his usual clutch, Artest will be more physical defensively, Odom will penetrate much more and not settle for medium range jump shots, and most importantly the bench will play well again.

Listen, every Lakers fan knows that the real Lakers come out to play when it really counts. Remember what we did to Denver last year?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tijuana calls Ron Artest "Crazy" and hoping you will too

Ron Artest lands his new reality show called, "They Call Me Crazy" produced by Tijuana Entertainment, E1 Entertainment and Ron himself.

The show (once produced) will expose Ron's day to day routine allowing him to help rebuild burned bridges from his "crazy" past. This show will also let Ron expose his music hip-hop label, Tru Warier.

"I'm really excited to have the opportunity to invite people into my world to see the real me, and show them there are many more sides to the Ron Artest they see on the basketball court," Artest said in a statement.

Artest is responsible for the NBA's worst ever brawl involving fans. Here is the video in case you wanted to refresh your memory.

It will take a hell of a lot out of Artest to help re-polish his image. Artest has embraced Hollywood and the fans since his arrival and Lakers fans have already made him a Laker favorite. This new reality show (if done correctly) just might make Ron not only a local favorite but a favorite worldwide.

Lakers vs Spurs Highlights 4/4/2010

Lakers lose to the Spurs, 81-100.

Here is the box score courtesy of Yahoo Sports! (click to enlarge)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lakers vs Jazz Highlights 4/2/2010

Lakers win over Utah 106-92.

Here is the box score courtesy of Yahoo Sports! (click to enlarge)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lakers sign Kobe Bryant to 3-year extension

Kobe Bryant is Lakers franchise and the Dr. knows it. The Lakers organization signed Kobe to a 3-year extension leaving us fans feeling that more secure about his never departing the team. The tormenting thought of Kobe ever playing for another team has officially expired...we hope.

The financial terms total to $83.5 million scattered in his 3-year extension. Kobe will make $25.2 million in 2011, $27.8 million in 2012 & then close his contract out with $30.4 million in 2013. Cha-ching!

Kobe's 3-year extension comes a very long way from that terrifying radio interview given by Stephen A. Smith back in May of 2007. Kobe said on 1050 ESPN Radio in New York: "I would like to be traded, yeah. Tough as it is to come to that conclusion there's no other alternative, you know?"

Bryant was also asked if there was anything the Lakers could do to change his mind. "No," Bryant said. "I just want them to do the right thing."

My heart fell when I heard Kobe say these words. The Lakers organization pulled through and signed Pau Gasol that same year. Gasol also signed his contract extension earlier this season. GM Kupchak and Team Owner Dr. Jerry Buss recognize these two Hall of Famers as Lakers franchise players and thank them by cementing their spots through 2013-14.

Lakers vs Hawks Highlights

Lakers lose to the Hawks, 92-109.

Here is the box score courtesy of Yahoo Sports! (click to enlarge)