Monday, January 30, 2012

Kobe/Okafor or Blake/Perkins?

Which dunk is better considering all factoring variables? I think they're pretty damn close in my opinion. Regardless, the Staples Center hosts the best dunks in the league!

Blake's dunk tonight over 6-10' Perkins is spectacular. I mean Blake jumps so damn high he actually throws in his dunks. Damn.

Kobe's dunk last year was on a bigger stage in the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs over another 6-10' defender, Okafor.

What do you think? Is Blake's monster dunk tonight easily the best dunk ever at Staples Center?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rookie Goudelock continues to play well

With every Lakers loss comes the careful eyes on bench production and usually all fingers point to the lack of contribution from second stringer players, specifically from the reserve point guards.

Derek Fisher, Steve Blake, Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock are all employed at the one spot. Besides Fisher's iron man status and clutchness, this selection of point guards for the Lakers isn't all that impressive. Two inexperienced rookies, a very experienced veteran whose retirement door is coming a knockin' and a player who is in fabrication mode with his newly found shooting confidence, there is justifiable concern in the back court.

In a league that was once surplussed with superstar big men, it has now emerged into an advanced generation of quick elite guards. The NBA has been accustomed to taking the old familiar scenic route to the post season all these years but now a much faster league is taking a detour route on a newly developed stretch of highway with no speed limit. Same destination but with faster results.

The Lakers are unfortunately still taking the scenic route. Beyond a defensive role, I don't quite understand why Brown is still starting his veteran when matched with speedy teams. Fisher has started all season and is averaging just over 26 minutes a game. Fisher was criticized earlier in the season for not shooting the ball much but is shooting the ball more now. Despite his increase in FGA he's shooting 37% inside the arc and 32% beyond it which puts him at the bottom compared to his fellow ball handler's percentages. I think its time to put #2 as a #2 option.

Now to the premise of this article. It's known that Steve Blake has become Brown's second option at the point but with his Costochaondral fracture Goudelock or Glock to fans has been filling in just fine. Andrew Goudelock has surprised many people coming off the wood and has gained the trust from coach. In just two games (20+ minutes) he's averaging 13.5 points, shooting 55.6% in FG (10-18) and 62.5% behind the three-point line (5-8). Some would argue that Morris is quicker but he's failed to run this team effectively. Goudelock is a much needed contributor in a team struggling to balance the offense. Andrew just needs to learn a thing or two from Nash who leads the league in assists (179). Glock needs to create good shot opportunities, distribute the rock better and not take what often looks like wild shots that actually go in.

Photo credit: AP 2012-01-29

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MWP, Glock, Fish help Lakers from losing four straight

Lakers even the season series (1-1) by beating the Clippers 96-91 but more importantly avoid losing four straight.

Today's match up was physical and scrappy. I don't care if it's premature for me to say this but I'm officially calling this series the new heated rivalry among the Lakers and Clippers. Both teams call Staples Center their home but only one team has the home crowd.

Tempers flew right from the get-go and they never cooled down. In fact, with six technicals and one ejection, tonight's game reminded me of an NBA finals two years ago against those pesky Celtics.

Clipper Reggie Evans is just dirty. I had forgotten about his nut hunting ways. He must've been digging deep in McRoberts shorts to piss him off into an ejection tonight.

Let's revisit Evans doing Kaman dirty and the TNT aftermath:

The Lakers shot better than the Clippers throughout the entire game which had me questioning why the heck were they losing? Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. LAL had 16 to end the game and Kobe led the way with his game high 7. Kobe is currently 3rd in turnovers but stands tall leading the league in points with 573.

This L.A. team has been watched under very careful eyes and I believe the general consensus describing the Lakers weakness falls within the 4th guy needing to step up and peck away. Tonight, the 4th guy(s) was/were MWP, Goudelock and Fisher. Turnovers could've been yet another headliner for the Lakers 4th straight loss but MWP, Glock, and D Fish had difference making games and were the reason for tonight's victory outside the usual big 3 production (Kobe 20pts; Gasol 22pts/10reb; Bynum 19pts).

Metta World Peace may not have appeared to be impressive in the points category but made a huge impact with his hustle. Metta had 2 steals and a team high/season high 7 assists. His high energy and muscle was needed, especially in a game where Kimbo Evan's was causing a ruckus.

Andrew Goudelock was huge coming off the bench. He led the second unit with 14 points going 5-8 inside the arc and 2-3 behind it. This was by far the biggest game of his young career.

Derek Fisher waited until the 16th game of the season to score in double digits and since then he's done it in every other game. His double digit point contribution regardless if they're in the lower mark are vital to this teams winning record.

Photo credit: AP 2012-01-25

Friday, January 20, 2012

Peace Corps nowhere to be found

In the off season the Lakers quietly built around their second unit, especially in the expected absence of Lamar Odom. They added a young quick guard in Darius Morris, a strong finisher in Josh McRoberts, a sharp shooting Jason Kapono and another [big man] sharp shooter in Troy Murphy. A once questioned Lakers bench now seemed to have gotten a renewed sense of hope coming into the shortened 66-game season.

All of these moves executed stealthily in the background while the organization was being scrutinized for their off season dramatics involving the highly publicized disqualification of the CP3 trade, losing LO per his request and the reawakened trade rumors for Howard. NBA predictions have Lamar ending this season with all-time career lows in Dallas.

Thanks to the high energy exhibited by L.A.'s second string players early on in the season, particularly with World Peace's hot start and McRoberts playing well as a starter/reserve, this Lakers bench became a quick fan favorite.

So what is the best part of becoming a fan favorite you ask? Becoming a fan favorite with a cool nickname. While many argued that it was too soon for the bench to be nicknamed, fans were determined to come up with a cool handle, something catchy but not cheesy. Last season it was the Killer B's fueled by the performances of Barnes, Blake, and Brown, this season it's the Peace Corps.

You can thank for the adaptation. They started the process by using their Facebook page platform asking their near 300,000 fans what would be a cool nickname for the Lakers second unit. This my friends is the power of movement driven by the fans.

Having a nickname comes the responsibility of upholding it. Just as fast as Peace Corps gained it's popularity among the sports world, a new nickname was blossoming. Peace Corps quickly became Peace Corpse all thanks to the bench not producing as well as expected. Maybe those skeptics were right, apparently it was way too soon to adopt an unworthy nickname.

Many experts and analysts say the Lakers weakness lies in the teams fourth option. Meaning the team needs someone other than the Lakers big three, Kobe, Gasol and Bynum to produce. All fingers point to Derek and Barnes.

I say the fingers should point to the Peace Corpse. Lakers have lost 3 of their last 5 games. Let's break down the bench contribution from those games:
  • January 13th - Lakers host the  Cavaliers - WIN
    • Lakers bench scores 4 points vs. Cleveland bench scoring 36  (advantage Cleveland)
  • January 14th - Lakers visit the Clippers (technically host) - LOSS
    • Lakers bench scores 13 vs. Clippers bench scoring 11 (advantage LAL)
  • January 16th - Lakers host the Mav's - WIN
    • Lakers bench scores 12 vs. Dallas bench scoring 32 (advantage Dallas)
  • January 19th - Lakers visit the Heat - LOSS
    •  Lakers bench scores 17 vs. Miami bench scoring 24 (advantage Miami)
  • January 20th - Lakesr visit the Magic - LOSS
    • Lakers bench scores 12 vs. Orlando bench scoring 14 (advantage Orlando)
You can say that the recent Laker losses came in the hands of poor team shooting, Kobe shooting too much, and/or the void coming from the 1 and 3 spots. These all may very well be factors to the Lakers not being able to compete with the leagues elite teams but you cannot ignore the disappearing act of the Peace Corps. They need to be the teams fourth option in the pecking order. Obviously L.A. cannot rely on Barnes or Fisher to put up game changing numbers so the reserves have to perform well when Brown waves them in.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fisher's season high 13 points needed to oust the Mavs

If I told you pregame that the Lakers would score a total of 73 points against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks who average 93 points a game, would you think they'd win or lose? Be honest.

Despite the Lakers scoring a season low 73 they inch their way past the visiting Mavs in a very ugly game of season lows.

When Kobe unexpectedly scores in low numbers the entire team has to step up to help balance the offensive load and tonight Derek Fisher did just that. He scored a season high 13 points, his first 10+ point game of the season. I know 13 points doesn't seem that much of a contribution but in an ugly game like tonight's, every single point Fisher gave was desperately needed, especially his last second high arcing beauty. Splash. Click below for video.

Kobe scores a season low 14 but has a team high 7 assists, one being his biggest of the season in the closing seconds of the game. Critics will oversee his passes and focus on his game high 4 turnovers. Kobe may have damaged his season PPG average a bit but I don't think he cares having beaten the team who swept the Lakers last post season. Kobe does not forget and to this day he still holds a grudge with Detroit for that Finals series in '04 that we don't speak of.

Bynum came up big tonight scoring 17pts with 15rebs. Gasol on the other hand has his worst game of the season. He scores a season low 8pts with 6 boards and shoots a horrid 27% in field goals (3-11).

Tonight's win is bittersweet because deep down inside I really wanted Odom to have a great game. If you live in a cave here's what happened this past off season. Odom demanded to be traded after being thrown into a big trade that was disqualified by NBA commissioner Stern. The Lakers then traded him to Dallas just days after his request. After all the drama Odom was real close to leaving the NBA for a one year sabbatical and the ironic part to that is his drama queen wife played peacemaker and convinced him otherwise. Since then Odom has had a horrible year with the Mavs averaging in single digits, 7pts/5rebs. He's shooting 31% in FG.   

Photo credit: Getty Images

Kobe Bryant Chess King Piece iPhone wallpaper

Here is our Kobe Bryant Chess King Piece iPhone wallpapers. Enjoy!

5 Easy steps to setting your new iPhone wallpaper:
  1. Click on the desired image above to enlarge then right-click and Save Image As
  2. Email image to any iPhone email account
  3. Open incoming email and press/hold on image to Save Image
  4. Press on Settings, Wallpaper, Camera Roll, then choose image
  5. Press Set then Set Lock Screen

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why Kobe's hunt for scoring title may hinder the team

With Andrew Bynum (T-5) and Pau Gasol (T-2) being among the top-10 in double doubles this season the Lakers should be a more dominating team collectively. 

Both Bynum and Gasol are averaging 16 points while Bynum is averaging 14 rebounds and Gasol 10. The Lakers are the only team in the league that has two top 10 players in double doubles. This luxury should be capitalized, not ignored.

Kobe Bryant scoring 40 points in four consecutive games is a fantastic individual feat but only limits his teammates production. What happens if/when Kobe's numbers start to drop? From the eyes of an outsider looking in it definitely looks like Kobe is only looking out for himself, perhaps a scoring title and from the looks of last night's lopsided performance that may be a fair statement to make. However Lakers fans know deep down (sometimes digging really deep) that Kobe is a team player and shoots an average of 30 shots a game because he simply has to. After all, he is the teams assists leader averaging 5.4 a game.

When you have two superstar big men that have the capability of putting up double-doubles game in and game out why wouldn't you want to take advantage of their talents in hopes of winning more games? Kobe shooting as many shots only limits the Lakers twin towers to the lower end of their averages. In fact Gasol is in route to averaging just 9 rebounds per game mirroring his career average. Gasol has the ability to shine much brighter.

There can be an I in WIN when Kobe scores 40+ points only when four starters score in double figures. Losses typically come pouring in when the SF doesn't contribute enough. Rest assured, L.A. can rely on their 3's to consistently carry their loads, Bryant, Gasol and Bynum but without the fourth option contributing, individual highs will only benefit fantasy basketball owners and not the team.

Point guard vacancy

I hate to to bring up the usual suspects when analyzing Laker voids but it wouldn't be fair not to. It would be nice to have a reliable point guard who can push not only the offense but more importantly the team to where they need to be. Unfortunately the truth of the matter is Derek Fisher has yet to score 10 points this season and really hasn't gotten in any kind of shooting rhythm. He's shooting 30% (FG/3PT).

Steve Blake, who has contributed the most at the 1 is out with a Constochaondral fracture (ribs). He's out for 3-4 weeks.

Rookie Darius Morris is quick and is only getting better with every passing game he gets to play in Blake's absence. He's shooting 62.5% (5-8FG) and has yet to miss a 3-pointer (2-2). One 3-pointer coming 50 feet away.

The other reason for Kobe's ball hogging ways is because of the void at the 3 spot.

Matt Barnes, in the last 5 games has gone 18-36, shooting 50%. He has been the big reason to the Lakers winning 5 of their last 6 games. In last night's loss to the Clippers though he went 1-6, hence the contribution needed at the 3. 

Metta World Peace is ice cold. In the last 5 games he's shooting 30% FG, in the season he's at 35%. You don't want to know what he's shooting behind the arc, 7.7% (2-26). His minutes have decreased at just 20. He needs to do something to regain coach Brown's trust.

Devin Ebanks has played in just 8 games and Luke Walton has only played in 5. Their contribution to the team is in scrimmage ball.

Kobe Bryant is having an unbelievable season but if he doesn't get any help from the teams 4th option his individual feats will only benefit him, advantage Kobe. If losses start to take their course Kobe will have to find a way to make his team better and the only way he'll be able to achieve that is to simply trust his teammates more. He already attracts the defense, now he just needs to attract it to create shots for his teammates.

Listen, he can still continue to score in high numbers while distributing the ball. Just look at Rose and the 12-2 Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose is averaging 21 points with 9 assists. A league best 12-2 record even with their star center Noah playing mediocre ball. 

Discouraging facts about Kobe winning back-to-back scoring titles (2006-2007)

Kobe won his first scoring title in 2005-06. Lakers regular season record that season was 45-37 (.549). They were ranked 7th entering the playoffs and knocked off in the first round to the Phoenix Suns.

The following year Kobe won back-to-back scoring titles in 2006-07. Lakers regular season record was 42-40 (.512). Again, same results entering the playoffs ranked 7th only to be taken out by Phoenix yet again in the first round. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Genius Nike ad for Kobe VII System Supreme

I don't care who you are this graphic is unbelievable. Kudos to Nike and the creative minds behind this beautiful design. Is it a black mamba or Kobe's latest shoes, the Nike Zoom Kobe VII System Supreme?

The snake's eyes are the Nike Swooshes and if you look even closer the snakes tongue is made up of the ends of the shoe laces and aglets. Pure genius.

You gotta love this ad. click on the link below for more information about the shoes.

Nike Zoom Kobe VII System Supreme

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kobe shoots a lot because he has to

For the second time this season 4 of the 5 Laker starters score in double digits and in both occasions L.A. came out victorious. One would think that the Lakers with such a dominating first unit (Fisher, Kobe, Barnes, Pau, Andrew) would have more games with this many starters scoring in double digits but surprisingly that isn't the case. I think the team just needs more time to gel to find a more offensive balance.

Kobe will get his no matter what. He leads the league in field goal attempts with 292 (an average of 24 FGA per game). Tonight in Utah he shot 14-31 FG scoring 40. His second consecutive game scoring 40 or more points.

It's clear that coach Brown's objective is to facilitate his offense around his superstar but my only concern with this strategy is when Kobe has an off night, who will step up to help carry the team through offensively? In the front court there is no other player that can create a shot like Kobe can. Having no one to pass the ball to besides his big men is the main reason why Kobe is labeled a ball hog and often criticized for shooting way too much. It's plain and simple, he has to.

Lets look at Kobe's options:
(averages below include three-pointers (if applicable))

Derek Fisher has a beautiful jay but only averages 6 shot attempts. Derek is shooting 30% overall. Fisher has yet to score in double digits.

Matt Barnes is fast and a great slasher but just like D. Fish he also only averages 6 shot attempts and is shooting a dismal 28.6% overall.

Metta World Peace is a strong physical player who should be able to force his way in but is averaging a modest 9 shot attempts. MWP has only made 30 of 105 shots (shooting 29% overall).

Troy Murphy is a big man who has a decent jump shot, its too bad he only shoots the rock about 4 times a game. He needs to simply shoot more in the 21 minutes he's getting. His positive contribution is in the rebounds category. He's averaging more rebounds than points (4pts/6rebs).

Jason Kapono was added to the roster to help ignite the offense, specifically behind the arc, coming off the bench. His time is limited averaging just about 14 minutes so shooting the ball 5-times a game is acceptable in my mind. He's also shooting 43% overall. The only issue with Kapono is his PT.

Steve Blake has obviously grown a trigger happy jay this past off season and is shooting the ball with a new found confidence. Blake is no longer the shy insecure shooter that he once was a season ago as is consequently shooting 11-times a game (38.5% overall). Despite Blake not starting he still averages more minutes than Derek. I think the only thing to do now for coach Brown is start Blake over Fisher. Its clear that Blake is the more productive PG on the team.

Josh McRoberts has brought energy to the team and is a strong finisher. His sprained left big toe has unfortunately put a temporary stop to his season numbers. In the 6 games that he's played in he's averaging 5 shot attempts in 23 minutes and is shooting an impressive 54% overall. Josh just needs to aggressively shoot more to increase his 6ppg.

Devin Ebanks, like Fisher has yet to score in double digits. He's gone 8-22 shooting 36% overall. Despite starting in several games his minutes have been limited.

Andrew Bynum has proven to be quite the beast since his late entrance to the season. In just 8 games Andrew is averaging 17pts/14rebs. Bynum has become the second option in front of Gasol. Bynum is averaging 13 FGA having made 54 out of 105 attempts. He's shooting 52% FG.

Pau Gasol has quietly become the teams third option since Bynum's admission. Gasol is averaging 16pts/10rebs. Even though Gasol is still averaging a double-double, his numbers are slowly starting to decline. The Spaniard is averaging 13 shot attempts in 12 games as where Bynum is averaging the same amount in just 8. Gasol has gone 81-149 shooting 54% overall. Pau's character will not allow him to throw a tantrum because of his decreasing numbers, he will always contribute however which way he can.  

Andrew Goudelock, Luke Walton, Darius Morris and Derrick Caracter (Darius/Derrick have yet to play) all average less than 10 minutes so I didn't add them to the list.

So Kobe's options are Bynum first, Gasol second, perhaps Blake as Kobe's third and then maybe McRoberts if you're basing your decision on the number of shot attempts and shooting percentages. MWP is just a brick station right now. He needs to improve his shooting percentages if he wants to be a viable option for Kobe.

I don't know, you tell me. Who would be the best candidate for the 3rd and 4th option job opening?

Photo credit: AP 2012-01-11

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Curious Case of Benjamin Bryant

16-Year NBA career, 5-time NBA Champ, 2-time NBA Finals MVP, regular season MVP, 13-time NBA All-Star, 4-time NBA All-Star MVP, 2-time NBA scoring champ, NBA Slam Dunk champ...the list goes on and on.

When you read these amazing accolades you assume this resume holder is retired and has already been naturally inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Nah, Kobe Bryant is just getting warmed up. The older he gets the younger he plays. Tonight versus the Phoenix Suns, this old veteran scored a season high 48, the most points scored in a single game so far this season. Kobe isn't slowing down, in fact he's #8 fast again and only getting stronger as the season progresses.

The Black Mamba is defying the test of time and the strands of sand in Father Time's hourglass is moving in slo-mo Matrix style just like Kobe's defenders.

Tonight's performance keeps Kobe at the top of the points leader board. In 11-games he's scored a total of 324 points, Durant has 279 and LeBron right behind him with 267.

I know the season is young but Kobe is already averaging 29ppg.  Throughout his career Kobe has always started the season hot but to do it this deep in his career and at such a high intensity level in a much younger league is truly inspiring. This is history in the making folks and if you're a fan you gotta be loving his performance yet despite a wrist injury that should be slowing him down.

Photo credit:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

BMW - Black Mamba Wheels

Check out this photo taken by Lakers fan John Chadwell.

What's better than an all black 3 series BMW coupe?

An all black 3 series BMW coupe with these plates.

Thanks for sharing John.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lakers need Howard not Bynum

Bynum starts the season with 4-consecutive double-double games. Big deal. D. Howard already has a double-double in 5 out of 7 games so far.

Oh my God Bynum gets his first career 20-20 game!!! Howard already has two 20-20 games in this early season.

Lets compare career averages since season averages would be unfair due to Bynum's late entrance. Howard's career average is 18pts/13rebs. vs. Bynum at 10pts/7rebs.

Who's more reliable? Hmm, Howard has only missed 7 regular season games out of 581. Not too shabby for an 8-year vet. Bynum has missed, lets count it, 36 games in 05-06, 47 games in 07-08, 32 games in 08-09, 17 games in 09-10, 28 games in 10-11 and finally 4 games this season. This brings the grand total to 164 missed regular season games out of 499. This equals to Bynum leaving his team hanging dry for two full regular seasons. The Lakers cannot afford to have an injury prone big man, they need D. Howard who's more dependable.   

Come on! Don't let Bynum's start deceive you from the much bigger picture. Dwight needs to come to the Lakers. Bynum is not the athlete that Kobe or Pau is. Jeanie needs to have some say in the Lakers Club.

The Lakers will not be able to get #17 if they keep #17!!! Those fans who think that Bynum is great...sure, but he can't run up and down the court in a fast-paced game as evidenced in last night's game versus the fast Portland Trailblazers.

D. Howard is always welcome in LA.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Crawford alone outscores Peace Corps

Oregon running back Kenjon Barner was seen texting from the sideline at tonight's game...

Incoming text message: Hey what's up Kenny? Where you at?

Outgoing text message: Just children here at the game watching them blaze up and catch on fire.

Incoming text message: Say what?! That's some crazy ass weed. Save me some.

Outgoing text message: Huh? Oh LOL. Stupid phone. I meant to say that I'm just chilling here at the game watching them Blazers catch fire.

Yes the Lakers did throw (not shoot, shooting is an attempt to make a shot) 0-11 at the three-point line in tonight's loss to the Portland Trailblazers. The Lakers haven't shot this poorly behind the arc since 2003.

This loss in Portland gives the Lakers a 4-17 record at the Rose Garden in their last 21 visits. Portland is tough to beat at home and continue to curse the visiting Lakers.

One stat that stood out the most for me is Jamal Crawford's 17 points that alone outscored the Lakers Bench by 3. Where was the Peace Corps tonight? MWP 0-5, Blake 2-9, Ebanks 1-5 in FG. Little production from the bench plus the team shooting .000 long distance will always equate to nights like these.

Fisher despite only scoring 6 points went 2-2 FG, 2-2 FT, 6 assists, and had 0 turnovers and was the only Laker who had a plus 4 in the point differential. Derek just needs to be more aggressive and shoot more. Two shot attempts isn't going to cut it as the starting PG.

Bynum gets his fourth straight double-double to start the season. Kobe scores 30 or more points in two consecutive games and Gasol continues to handle being a quiet third option quite well since Bynum's return. Lakers just need to shoot better and play better transition defense.

Photo credit: AP 2012-01-05

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Game highs, season highs, career highs oh my!

For the Lakers tonight's victory over the Rockets was the best win of the season as far as numbers go.    

Team highs

Lakers shoot a season high .526 in field goals and crash the boards for a season high 53 rebounds.

Player highs

Kobe has a game high/season high 37 points complimented with 8 boards/6 assists.

Bynum has his first career 20-20 game scoring 21 points and bringing down a game high/season high 22 rebounds. The last game he ever got closest to reaching this feat was against the Milwaukee Bucks on 1/11/2008 where he had 25pts/17reb.

With his third consecutive double-double since his return Andrew Bynum is only getting better as the season progresses. Not to jump the gun here but with the big man playing this well, this Lakers team who isn't expected to place top 3 in the western conference this season should be given a second look.

In seven seasons Bynum has never started this hot. In just three games he's averaging 23pts/17reb. His early season performance should make fans forget about Howard and be reminded that having the always dependable Gasol and a healthy Bynum in the front court always makes this team top contenders in the league.

Photo credit: AP 2012-01-03

Top 5 Most Anticipated Lakers Games of 2012

With a compressed season and redemption on their minds, the Lakers are certain to have a dynamic season ahead of them. Here are my top five most anticipated games of the season in chronological order.

1. Monday, January 16 vs. Dallas Mavericks (TNT)

The Lakers’ performance in last year’s semi-finals was simply embarrassing, especially because they were swept in the last game of the series. While winning this game may not be a harbinger for the 2012 title, revenge will certainly be sweet.

2. Thursday, January 19 vs. Miami Heat (TNT)

Last Christmas, the Heat blew away the Lakers on their home turf, followed closely by another close loss in Miami. All the comparisons between Kobe and LeBron might be toned down if the Lakers can take back the court, especially if this match-up comes back for the Finals.

3. Wednesday, January 25 vs. Los Angeles Clippers (NBA TV)

A few years ago, no one would have considered this to be a must-watch game. But with Chris Paul and other young players joining the ranks of the Clippers this season, some have speculated whether the team might be better than the Lakers. One thing for sure is that this will be a great night for Los Angeles basketball.

4. Thursday, February 9 vs. Boston Celtics (TNT)

Their infamous rivalry makes this match-up one of the most anticipated games in the NBA. Both teams feel that they have something to prove this season and have their eyes on the championship. This is bound to be an intense, non-stop game.

5. Thursday, February 23 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (TNT)

The Thunder are expected to pose the Lakers’ biggest threat in the Western Conference this season. If the Lakers want a chance at the championship, the Thunder is the team to beat, especially with so many young players who can withstand the demands of a compressed season.

This article was written by Nathan Henley. He is a sports psychologist who specializes in performance improvement and injury rehabilitation. He also owns the site Sports Psychology Degree for students interested in getting a degree in sports psychology.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Is Andrew Bynum Kobe's bad luck charm?

Since Bynum's return to the starting line-up Kobe's numbers have dropped. Lately it seems like Kobe is trying to be more of the facilitator rather than the natural superstar scorer that we're all used to seeing. While Kobe's assists may have taken the wheel his points have taken the back seat. He's averaging 16.5ppg in the last two games scoring a total of 33 points. Compared to the 28 points that he was averaging per game, this is a significant drop to Kobe's usual offensive contribution.

Kobe has also become a late blooming scorer with his first points coming in the final minutes of the second quarter. In the recent Denver series Kobe's field goal percentage has taken an ugly turn. He's gone 12-46, shooting a dismal 26%.

With Bynum's hot start and Gasol's escalating numbers (team high 20pts/11reb tonight), once Kobe gets out of this funk this Lakers team should start beating teams quite convincingly, with all due respect of course to their opponents.    

Photo credit: Getty Images