Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kobe shooting 3-21 isn't such a bad thing

Listen Kobe, I'm not going to sit here and pout over you having a [very] bad shooting performance today against the visiting Hornets who by the way were without Ariza, Landry, Okafor, Gordon (sore ankles/knees). A win is a win right?

One particular tweet comes to mind from @WhoCanTopDat:
"I'll take an UGLY win...over a PRETTY loss any day"
When Kobe shoots badly, for instance 3-21 in FG's, his teammates should jump to the opportunity to help save the day. I mean this opportunity doesn't come knocking too often, especially when you play alongside the league's leading scorer.

So, who would be next in the pecking order to help carry the offensive load when team captain is having an off night? Gasol? Bynum? MWP? Sessions? Bench?

It really shouldn't matter who steps up as long as that player can acclimate quickly into the role that Kobe makes look easy. We all know Kobe will [attempt to] get his game in and game out as he's averaging 23 FGA and 28 PPG so teammates should absolutely make the most of their added touches when he fails to do so.

Today's win is perfect example of what I'm talking about. Both big men stepped up and played well in Kobe's scoring absence. Gasol had 21 points w/ 11 rebounds and Bynum had 19 points w/ 10 rebounds, both players ending the game with a double double. Meanwhile Sessions has a quiet double double of his own scoring 10 points and adding 10 assists.

Why does Kobe shoot so much?
Also, I don't care if Kobe goes 1-100, I'm still drawing up a play for him to take the final shot, assuming that the Lakers are lucky enough to be in contention that late in the game with that kind of shooting percentage. Kobe may have not been able to throw the ball in the ocean while in a boat like he said post-game but the ocean was sure kind to him when he splashed in his three-pointer to regain the lead in the closing seconds of the game.

So, when Kobe System isn't working, Team System should. Kobe is arguably the best player in the league but he sometimes plays with no peripheral vision which limits his teammates game, whom two are easily among the top big men of the league. If the remaining players, specifically Gasol and Bynum can step it up like they did today, Kobe's lackluster games shouldn't be as bad in hindsight. In fact teammates should think of this as the light at the end of Kobe's tunnel vision. Divide and conquer!

Sources: BleacherReport.com, Yahoo! Sports
Photo source: Getty Images

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pau Gasol Launches Interactive Storybook for UNICEF


When Pau Gasol isn't averaging a double double as the Lakers starting power forward, he's spending his time as UNICEF Ambassador. Recently he helped launch the storybook app "Give a Day". Narrated by Gasol himself in three different languages— English, Spanish and Catalonian, this ebook, affiliated with PlayTales, a recognized leader in children’s ebooks, is available on the AppStore and Android Market.

Here is a video clip of Pau working on the release of “Give a Day”:


This project benefits two different UNICEF affiliated initiatives supported by Pau; The Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Hamburg Society. These initiatives have a special focus on orphaned children and especially girls, children in extreme poverty and other extreme at-risk situations. Through these initiatives, Pau has already supported the education of more than 12,000 children in Ethiopia through construction of schools, water and sanitation facilities, specialized teacher training programs and the distribution of much need school supplies and equipment.

Click here for the official press release.

Top photo courtesy of PlayTales

Friday, March 23, 2012

Is Ramon Sessions this seasons savior for the Lakers?

In a game where all Lakers starters score in double digits, you have to believe that team basketball exists in this Lakers organization once again. The main contributing factor to this new awakening is the recent pick up of Ramon Sessions.

Sessions finally got his start since being acquired to L.A. against the visiting Trailblazers Friday night and he made the most of his 35 minutes earning his first Laker double double scoring 20 points and dishing the rock for 11 assists.

When was the last time the entire first unit scored in double digits? In fact when was the last time a Laker pg recorded a double double? Better yet, when was the last time a Laker pg outscored Kobe?

Sessions is making it awfully easy for Laker fans to forget that they've just lost their veteran co-captain and team mentor of twelve seasons. In just five games Sessions is already averaging 13.6 points and 7 assists.

His game log shows escalating minutes which simply equate to escalating numbers. Keep him in the game coach!

Ramon is quick, I mean quick, and has great court vision. He sets the offensive tempo fast forward, almost reminiscent to D'Antoni's Suns years back. Sessions has quickly learned the system and in recent games you can see him more communicative which is gaining his teammates respect in doing so.

He's making wise choices with his passes and is giving up open shots for inside penetration passes that lead to easy two's. He's made several passes that led to turnovers but I personally think they were right on the money. I just think the players aren't use to passes like his. 

Its plain and simple, Ramon Sessions makes this team a lot better and I think Kobe is starting to realize that as he only shot the ball 17 times tonight and seemed to be okay with his newest teammate outscoring him. Kobe was also extra animated in the closing seconds of tonight's win. It was as if he just won his 6th ring. Hopefully he knows something we don't.

The fans have instantly fallen in love with Sessions because he's boosted this once questionable Lakers team into a now championship caliber Lakers team.

You have to give thanks to the organization, specifically Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak for essentially stealing Ramon Sessions right before the trade deadline. The Lakers sent their own 2012 first-round draft pick and forwards Luke Walton and Jason Kapono for Sessions and Eyenga.

Photo credit: AP 2012-03-23

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sessions will just have to wait for his starting session

With a shocking trade deadline move like losing Derek Fisher for a quicker pg in Ramon Sessions, one would think that a player big enough to dismiss a twelve and a half Laker season co-captain veteran would at least be getting his starting role right? Wrong.

It appears that coach Brown will start Steve Blake over Sessions because "Its a process". 

Dave McMenamin from ESPN.com recently covered this story and wrote this [excerpt]:
Steve Blake started at point guard Friday in the Lakers' 97-92 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, finishing with zero points, six assists and zero turnovers in 29 minutes, while Sessions had seven points, five assists and three turnovers in 19 minutes.
Last night in 26 minutes against the visiting Utah Jazz Steve Blake mirrored his points total of zero and had two assists with two turnovers while Ramon Sessions with just 22 minutes coming off the wood finished his second game as a Laker with ten points, six assists and zero turnovers.

Now just imagine Sessions with starter-like minutes.

Mr. McMenamin continues...
Sessions, 25, averaged 10.5 points and 5.2 assists in 24.5 minutes per game this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Blake, 32, is averaging 5.5 points and 3.6 assists in 24.8 minutes per game this season for the Lakers.
Its clear that Sessions is the bigger contributor so why isn't he replacing Blake at the starting one? The Lakers can't afford to acclimate him coming off the bench while the team suffers as a whole meanwhile. Sessions is getting paid $4.3 million to learn the system as a starter just like any entry position sales person would be paid pennies (in comparison) to meet an unimaginable monthly goal while learning to sell the product out in the field. If he doesn't make anticipated projections then he's simply canned. It's business right? If Sessions doesn't learn the new system as a starter THEN make all the necessary changes.

It's sink or swim time with just 21 games left in the season. The Lakers need Sessions to start so they don't lose to teams like the Utah Jazz who aren't even in playoff contention. Stop this, "It's a process" shit coach. Its going to be a much bigger process if you continue to take the slow and steady route and jeopardize meeting certain expectations especially with a faster back court now.

Wasn't all of the preseason drama with almost losing Gasol and ultimately losing Odom as a residual effect because of the organization wanting to make drastic changes to remain a deep postseason contender?

Why stop now? The organization has done what fans have been debating all along, cut Fisher for a quicker point guard. The bold move has been made. What better way is there to have butt hurt fans quickly forget about Fisher than to have them see how well Sessions plays as a starter? 

It all comes down to this and box score stats from the previous two games prove this - A system-knowing Blake is not as good as a system-learning Sessions. 

Original top photo: Getty Images    

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A change of scenery for the Lakers

...and here I was thinking that the Lakers were going to sit back and watch the storm pass.

The NBA trade deadline was today March 15th at 3 p.m. EST and boy did the Lakers organization meet that deadline. Here's an excerpt from Lakers.com:
A flurry of activity on trade deadline day in the NBA brought a new look to the Lakers heading into the final 23 games of the season, with the acquisition of point guard Ramon Sessions from Cleveland and departure of Derek Fisher to Houston headlining two moves directed by general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Joining Sessions from the Cavs is forward Christian Eyenga, in exchange for Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, a protected 2012 first round draft pick and other considerations. To get Fisher and the 2012 first pick L.A. received from Dallas in the Lamar Odom trade, the Rockets sent big man Jordan Hill to Los Angeles.
The thought of Derek Fisher no longer a Laker seems surreal to me. I fell victim to joining the countless of Laker fans who looked toward his direction as the first unit's weakest link but I would never think that Fish would be the first to go. I thought his role was better suited off the bench and not as a starter but now there's no Derek Fisher at all to argue any point. Fans certainly didn't expect this.

The upside to all of this is that the Lakers gain speed at the 1 in Ramon Sessions but lose the one player Kobe ever listened to as a teammate/coach. This is big since there's doubt in the locker room with how Brown is coaching his mega star. Losing Fisher who has been there with Kobe since both of their rookie years in '96 (w/ exception to seasons '04-'06) is going to be very hard on Kobe. His responsibility to provide leadership as team captain will be more critical than ever.
       

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Laker Girls Lunch Date at Carls Jr.

Alright Laker fans here's your chance to grab a Famous Star with cheese and meet the world-famous Laker Girls with ease. 

From March 19 through April 7, Carl’s Jr. will be hosting an in-restaurant tour featuring the Los Angeles Laker Girls, visiting 20 different Carl’s Jr. locations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Ventura counties; one stop per day, every day.

Here is the schedule courtesy of Lakers.com:
Click to enlarge
At each stop, two or more Laker Girls will be in-store for one hour to autograph photos, pose for pictures with fans, hand out Carl’s Jr. coupons and give away special Lakers goodies, while supplies last. Some lucky participants will also have the chance to win tickets to an upcoming Lakers home game. Fans sporting purple and gold on Lakers game days will have the chance to receive additional giveaway items.

Photo source: Lakers.com
LakerLiker has no affiliation with this ad. Promotional intent only.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lakers are top 3 in the Western Conference

Lets be honest here, how many of you would've guessed that the Lakers would be sitting at the #3 spot in the Western Conference standings this late in the season after all the drama that happened pre-Christmas Day?

Their current record of 25-16 is as shocking as a slow played ace. In the last 10 games the Lakers are 7-3, having beat the leagues top team Miami Heat (at the time) but also having been beaten by the second worst Washington Wizards. The purple and gold have collectively found a rhythm that seems to be working and more importantly Kobe has finally found trust in his teammates (i.e. Bynum in the closing seconds of Sunday's Boston game).

Its clear that the Lakers are standing the test of time. Dallas, Boston, New York are all having difficulty mirroring last seasons successions while the Lakers are staying in familiar territory among the top 3 in their conference.

So whats the secret? Even after losing their star 6th MOTY and leaving team morale at an all-time low, how does this L.A. team do it year after year? Its simple, teamwork and the will to never give up especially when staring down the eye of adversity.

No matter what league disqualification, bitter Hollywood separation, personal issues, new coaching system, the Los Angeles Lakers always find a way to carry through. It may be tough as hell at times but at the end of the day this team reminds its fans that they will never disappoint. How can you when you have Kobe Bryant still lacing his shoes?

With only 25 games left in the season the Lakers have a solid chance to pass San Antonio and who knows even pass OKC for the top spot in the WC. Here's the reality of all of this, as we all know the Lakers are horrible on road (7-14) and unfortunately they have 12 more away games left in the regular season. However Lakers are a very impressive 18-2 at home. Now if they just play well consistently at home and turn things around when touching ground, their 2011-12 regular season record could be as tremendous as their momentum carrying into the postseason.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Masked Mamba never to reveal his identity

To wear or not to wear? Kobe has gone mad since he's devised the Hamilton contraption. In just three games of becoming the fan favorite "Masked Mamba" Kobe has averaged 34 points helping his team begin the second half of the season in a perfect 3-0 fashion.

Kobe has acclimated to his facial sauna with no despair and his shooting game has reaped the benefits. When your superstar guard is shooting 54.3% inside the arc (L3-70 FGA), you have to question if its superstitious to just keep the Masked Mamba's identity concealed.

This begs the cliche, "If it ain't broke don't fix it". Ironically Kobe's fiery start to the latter part of the season is in result to a broken nose that needed fixing.

So does Kobe risk killing his momentum by taking off the plastic or does he just keep that damn thing on? Maybe this is why Rip Hamilton never took his off.

One thing's for certain, Kobe is playing phenomenal basketball since the "freak" accident. The team is playing uniformly now and look post-season strong again.

Photo credit: AP 2012-03-04

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Who was that masked man last night?

Despite having to fashion a Rich Hamilton nose guard (minus the head band) that was later described as a sauna, Kobe still managed to score a game high 31 points (4th 30+ point game in Feb.) versus the Love-less Timberwolves. Kobe also added 7 rebounds and 8 assists.

If I'm not mistaken, this is the first time Kobe has ever worn a nose guard in his entire career. It looked a bit creepy, Hannibal Lecter-like, but it did not stop Kobe nor slow him down. In fact, the new look gave opportunity for a new nickname.

So far I've found these thanks to social media, specifically LakersNation.com who are known to be the driving force behind new Laker nicknames:
  • Masked Mamba
  • The Phantom of the Mambora
  • The Mask
  • PhantoMamba
  • The Mamba of the Opera
  • Darth Mamba
  • Bat Mamba
  • Mamba Man
What do you think? Do you have any better nicknames?

Photo credit: AP