Los Angeles Lakers: Stats breakdown

From the Department of Silver Linings: A run at history?

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
6:45
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Following last night's loss to Sacramento in San Diego, capping an unblemished preseason run of eight losses in eight games, I noted that while there is much work to do and for a variety of reasons the Lakers didn't get as much out of the exhibition season as they hoped, there are any number of positives, as well.

Consider: Dwight Howard's health; Metta World Peace's conditioning; and the play of non-Antawn Jamison members of the bench when considered in a realistic context.

And, now, there's one more nugget to appreciate amidst the octet of unfavorable final scores: The Lakers can make a run at history.

From ESPN Stats and Information:

Elias only has preseason information back to 1995-96. Only three teams since then had winless preseasons of 5+ games:

2012-13 Lakers 0-8
2008-09 Bobcats 0-8
2007-08 Heat 0-7

The prior two teams did not make the playoffs.


That's right, the Lakers have a chance to do something no team has ever done, just by making the postseason! I think we all agree that'll happen.

So if you happen to be one of those fans frustrated by the underwhelming numbers posted by your Lakers this preseason, remember it will all be worth it come April when the Lakers shatter the confines of historical precedent like General Zod from the Phantom Zone.
I was working on something like this, but it turns out Zach Lowe of SI.com not only beat me to the punch, he picked cooler numbers to look at. The eyeball test shows how much better the Lakers have been offensively since the arrival of Ramon Sessions, so it's not all that surprising to see the math tells the same story.

The sample size is small (four games, 100 minutes) and certain numbers are unsustainable (Sessions isn't going to shoot 57 percent, as he's done in purple and gold, for the rest of the year), but early returns are very solid. Writes Lowe:
In the 100 minutes Sessions has played, the Lakers have scored 114 points per 100 possessions, a mark that would lead the league by a mile, according to NBA.com’s stats tool. The Lakers have been more efficient in just about every way possible during those 100 minutes, but two micro-trends stick out:

" They have shot many more three-pointers per minute with Sessions on the floor and made them at a very high rate. This is a great thing for a team that has been one of the two or three worst three-point-shooting teams all season, a damaging flaw that prevents the Lakers from spacing the floor and playing the kind of inside-outside game a team with such great post players should be able to play. The Lakers have attempted the equivalent of 20 threes per 48 minutes with Sessions manning the point, hitting 48 percent. In the 92 minutes Sessions has sat during those four games, the Lakers are still the Lakers, clanking away to the tune of 25 percent from deep on just 14.6 tries.

Some of this has to do with personnel. Sessions has spent half his minutes with Troy Murphy and only 12 minutes total with the Pau Gasol/Andrew Bynum duo. This helps explain not just the three-point tries, but also why the Lakers have gotten to the free-throw line much less often with Sessions playing. Sessions has also shared 91 of his 100 minutes with Matt Barnes, with whom he has immediately developed a nice chemistry, especially in transition. But part of this has to do with the simple fact that Sessions can, you know, run a pick-and-roll (usually with Gasol), get into the lane, draw defenders and make good passes....Bryant has shot more often and more accurately with Sessions on the court, per NBA.com. He has attempted 28 field goals per 48 minutes, a giant number that is nonetheless about equivalent to how often Bryant shot before the Sessions deal. But he has shot 46 percent with Sessions, compared to just 33 percent without him over four games and 43 percent for the season, and he has been deadly from three-point range with Sessions running things. Kobe has hit 6-of-10 from deep since the trade, and at least a few of those looks have been more open spot-up chances than he usually gets."

The impact of Sessions on the offense can be measured in other ways, too.

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Statistically speaking, how much better are the Lakers defensively?

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
1:18
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Among the Generally Accepted Truths produced by the first 34 games of the 2011-12 Lakers season are these two:

1) The Lakers can't score.

2) The Lakers are vastly improved defensively.


Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
Mike Brown has preached defense, but how much have the Lakers actually improved this year?


The first is hard to argue. Efficiency-wise, the Lakers are down over seven points per 100 possessions, from 107.9 to 100.6. True shooting percentage (54.5 vs. 52.2), effective field goal percentage (50.2 vs. 48.1), old fashioned field goal percentage (46.3 vs. 44.9), 3-point percentage (35.2 vs. 30.4), free throw percentage (77.9 vs. 74.2), points (101.5 vs. 93.1), and aesthetics (occasionally beautiful and generally decent enough vs. poke your eyes out with a fork) have fallen as well.

About the only thing going up are turnovers (13.1 vs. 15.1).

Since offense is down across the NBA (league average in team scoring has dropped by 4.6 points heading into Tuesday's games) some loss in punch is to be expected. But the Lakers have generally fallen, in some cases a great deal, relative to the competition, too. The stats confirm what the eyes tell us, when not obscured by tears or forced shut by the brain: Points are hard to come by.

What about the other end? It certainly feels like the defense has improved and the Lakers have had some fairly heroic efforts on their own end of the floor -- how many teams can say they scored 73 points in a win? -- but what do the numbers say?

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The McTen: Rocky road win in Denver

February, 4, 2012
2/04/12
12:14
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Andrew BynumGarrett W. Ellwood/Getty ImagesAndrew Bynum finished with 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting in the Lakers' victory at Denver on Friday.

Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 93-89 road win against the Denver Nuggets on Friday ...
1


Every game on this Lakers trip figured to be important, what with the purple and gold embarking on this six-game challenge with a measly 2-7 road record and an overall record that would place them in the bottom half of teams to make the postseason if the playoffs started today.

And so the fourth quarter of the tip-off game for the trip became a battle of will, as the Lakers ignored their 3-7 record in the last 10 games at Pepsi Center and were the last team standing against one of the squads that rests above them in the standings.

"It’s good to get a win. We just kind of found a way to grind it out, stick with it; we relied on our defense, and defense got us a win in a tough environment," said Lakers coach Mike Brown. "I give my guys credit for finding a way to win."

The Lakers saw their eight-point lead with 7:10 remaining dwindle to just one less than three minutes later, but they never fell behind.

As ugly as it looked, L.A. outrebounded 14-7 in the final frame, including hauling in three offensive rebounds to the Nuggets' zero. Coming into the trip, Kobe Bryant called the offensive glass the Lakers' Achilles' heel.

"You got to go get the ball. You got to go get the ball," Bryant said. "We’re not shooting the ball particularly well from 3, so as a result, we got to go crash the glass. We’re a pretty good offensive rebounding team when we put our minds to it."

The road continues with tough games in Utah, Philadelphia and Boston and ends in New York and Toronto. The Lakers' Grammy trip has been a litmus test in years past. When they went a combined 6-14 from 2004 to 2007, nobody deemed them a championship contender. When they went 18-5 from 2007 to 2010, they made it to three straight NBA Finals.

The season hardly started out the way the Lakers had planned, but if the Denver win sparks a successful road trip, the season really takes on another tone.

"I keep telling everybody we’re going to be fine," Bryant said. "This is the start of the year and it’s tough to kind of get out on the road. We had some very tough opponents to start the season with on the road. It’s kind of getting used to everything with no practices. We’re going to be A-OK."

After a win like Friday, it's easier to believe him.

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ESPN Stats & Information on Kobe Bryant

January, 4, 2012
1/04/12
7:03
PM PT
By ESPN Stats and Information
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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NOTE: Below is information and statistics (along with some analysis, parts of which I agree with more than others) put together on Kobe Bryant by ESPN Stats & Information, centering heavily on his usage rate and related figures.

The objective in posting isn't to create another pro/anti-Kobe argument (most sane Lakers fans understand the team won't win if Kobe isn't a star), but continue the discussion of how best this team can succeed. Stats from 2011-12 reference a small sample size and should be taken with a grain of salt and shouldn't be assumed a long-term trend. There are nonetheless some interesting figures promoting good big-picture questions, equally appropriate after a nine-point loss as a 10-point win.

Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
He has been a busy man, Kobe Bryant.


Perhaps the most pressing is one of sustainability. In a stage of his career in which Kobe's game is naturally becoming less efficient and he faces more serious physical challenges, can he successfully navigate a season in which he is (as you'll see below) setting personal records for usage rate?

If Bryant continues at this rate, and he may not over the long term for a variety of reasons (team chemistry, coaching, injury, etc.), what does it mean for the Lakers? Having a supremely ball-dominant player isn't historically a good formula for title-winning teams, and readers of this space know my predisposition toward balance. With that in mind any discussion of Bryant's usage rate this season should note his current assist percentage (34.5) and assist rate (6.2 per 36 minutes) if carried through the season would be a career highs. By a mile. The notion Bryant is only shooting to the exclusion of facilitating is demonstrably false.

Moreover, if Kobe is going to lower his usage rate, the Lakers likely need to find ways to help him do it. Case in point: Via Synergy, Kobe has been the ball handler in 40 of the team's 59 pick-and-rolls. Without another effective alternative in those situations, it's tough to remove Kobe from the mix.

The question is less about ball-hogging and more of burden and efficiency. In a compressed season with a new coaching staff, a new system and a new injury Bryant absolutely must learn to play with if he plans to stay on the floor and be effective, what's the best formula?

It's a subject we have 59 more games (plus playoffs) to kick around. In the meantime, enjoy the numbers …

--BK

Via Stats & Info ...

ANGLE No. 1: Kobe Dominating the Basketball

One way to measure the degree to which a player is controlling the basketball is usage percentage. It is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he is on the floor. Bryant’s current usage rate not only leads the entire NBA, it would be a career-high, a remarkable feat for someone who has dominated the ball as much as Bryant has in his career.

Highest Usage Percentage

2011-12 season

Kobe Bryant, LAL -- 38.9<<
Carmelo Anthony, NYK -- 33.3
Russell Westbrook, OKC -- 32.7
Kevin Durant, OKC -- 31.8
Blake Griffin, LAC -- 31.5

<<Would be career-high

While most great players have high usage percentages -- particularly ball handlers -- Bryant is dominating the ball at a record pace despite not being at the top of his game.

What’s additionally remarkable is that Bryant’s current usage percentage would be the highest by any qualified player in the 3-point era (since 1979-80).

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The McTen: Gasol ends scoring slump

December, 28, 2011
12/28/11
9:26
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 96-71 home win against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday ...

1

The Lakers finally checked a notch in the win column Tuesday after going o'fer in new coach Mike Brown's first four games on the sidelines (two preseason, two regular season) and Pau Gasol put an end to a longer and just as dubious streak in the process.

Gasol scored 22 points, which may not seem like a tremendous total for a four time All-Star with a career scoring average of 18.8 points per game, but it had been a while since Gasol topped the 20-point plateau while wearing a Lakers uniform. You have to go all the way back to April 10 against Oklahoma City for the last time Gasol did it, which was 15 games ago (five regular season, 10 playoffs) for the Lakers. Gasol scored 26 in a loss against the Thunder. You have to go back even further for the last time he scored 20 in a win, 22 games to be precise, when Gasol went for 20 when Los Angeles beat Dallas on March 31st.

"[I was] just trying to be more active," said Gasol who had totals of 14 and 15 points in L.A.'s two losses to start the season. "Trying to make myself more available to my teammates and then just attack. I have to get more to the line like I did tonight and just be aggressive. Obviously they might throw different coverages here and there, but I just need to continue to be more aggressive and it pays off."

Gasol went 10-for-12 from the free throw line and shook off any discomfort he felt in his right shoulder after mildly spraining in while fighting through a screen Sunday against Chicago.

"It still bothers me a little bit, but it felt better [Tuesday] than it did [Monday] and it seems like it’s under control," Gasol said.

Now, the leaders of the Lakers' team -- Brown and Kobe Bryant -- would like to see Gasol take control more often.

"He has to. He has to," said Bryant who should know something about it after scoring 26 against Utah, his third straight game of 25-plus points while playing with a torn ligament in his right wrist. "He’s got to do it. He’s got to be aggressive. He’s got to take shots. We want to keep coming to him. He’s just got to look to score."

Brown said Gasol is a facilitator by nature from years of the Spanish National Team running its offense through Gasol in the post, and he even called Gasol's passing game "off the charts" for the three assists he picked up against Sacramento, but he'll certainly take the scoring version of the big man.

"He was very aggressive and we need that aggression out of him," Brown said.

Gasol was just as effective on defense, picking up five blocks and harassing Utah's Al Jefferson into a 2-for-16 shooting night.

"It gives me more confidence," Gasol said. "It gives me a path to follow and it feels good play at the level that you know you’re capable of playing and you’ve been playing for a long time. Now it seems to me that I found a good path and I just got to stick to it."


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The McTen: Bynum sounds off

April, 7, 2011
4/07/11
12:27
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 95-87 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday ...

1

If there was one player on the Lakers' roster most responsible for their remarkable turnaround after the All-Star break, it was Andrew Bynum.

And now that the Lakers are starting to look like the lackadaisical bunch they were before the break, when they hit rock bottom with a loss to Cleveland, no player has been more vocal about it than Bynum either.

"I just think we’re going out there and playing kind of stupid basketball," said Bynum after his 13 points and 17 rebounds weren't enough from stopping the Lakers from losing to Golden State to extend their current losing streak to three games.

"We’re not playing our smartest," he continued. "People are going hard, but the energy … When you put negative energy out, it’s going to come back to you. That’s what happens. And it goes all the way down the line, from the coaching staff to the players who miss free throws to when we came in at halftime, the video guy put in the [wrong game] from two-three games ago against Golden State. So, the collective energy is just bad right now."

Bryant, who scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to cut the Warriors' 19-point lead to eight in a too-little too-late rally, took it all with a grain of salt.

Asked if Friday's game against Portland was a "must-win" to avoid dropping four straight, Kobe replied with thick sarcasm: "It’s massive. It’s a season-turner."

When he was nearing the end of his bemused postgame remarks, a reporter commented that he didn't seem too upset to which Kobe replied to in sing-song fashion: "Oh yeah, I’m totally happy with the way we played tonight. I’m ecstatic."

The fact of the matter is this team is too experienced to get too low after a single loss or even a few losses. They remember going 4-9 over the last 13 games of the regular season last year and still winning the ring. And they recall sleepwalking through the Houston series two years ago en route to their first championship.

"We know that come playoff time, everything is going to be fine," Bynum said, coming down from his rant with some rationale. "When I say that, I mean there’s not going to be anybody out there not playing their hardest basketball."

2

The loss mathematically eliminated the Lakers from the possibility of catching the Spurs for No. 1 in the West.

Not that the team is sweating it. There’s been varied opinions shared by the Lakers as to how important home court advantage throughout the playoffs really is.

Bryant, using his own circuitous logic, said that the Lakers actually didn’t have home court advantage in the Finals last year because after the series started 1-1, three of the final five games were in Boston.

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The McTen: Unharmonious ending vs. Jazz

April, 6, 2011
4/06/11
7:53
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 86-85 loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday ...

1

Kobe Bryant had just nailed two clutch 3-pointers in the game's final minute and change when he found the ball in his hands again, with his team down by one and six seconds left to play.

He sized up Utah's rookie Gordon Hayward, who was checking him, made his move into the lane to attempt one of his patented game winners and then . . . he didn't find the ball in his hands any more.

"It slipped out my hands," Bryant said. "It just slipped."

As Bryant walked off the court after the final buzzer had sounded he held both of his hands in front of his face and stared blankly at the 10 fingers that did him wrong.

Bryant hit eight game winners last season but has yet to add a buzzer beater to his resume this year. Tuesday seemed like the perfect opportunity, but Lamar Odom wasn't surprised that Bryant didn't even manage to get a shot off.

"It happens and I’m not surprised it happens in a game like this," said Odom who went on to call the loss their "worst game of the year, by far."

Bryant blamed himself for the loss, not because he fumbled the final possession, but because he only attempted one shot in the first half and thought he failed to establish an aggressive tone for his team.

Andrew Bynum placed the fault on everybody.

"Tonight was just the case of coming out and really thinking we can just beat the team just by being there," Bynum said. "I don’t know why we torture ourselves like that."

2

The Lakers had 19 turnovers Tuesday, a game after coughing it up 20 times against the Nuggets.

"That speaks to the inefficiency offensively in terms of decision making and spacing and making sure that we’re operating in a way that allows for all five of our guys to be effective," said Derek Fisher.

Bynum was more blunt, claiming the team "gave up on the triangle."

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The McTen: Denver tip-in leaves L.A. ticked off

April, 3, 2011
4/03/11
11:09
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 95-90 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday ...

1

On Friday against Utah, Lamar Odom played sick.

On Sunday, a crucial play that didn't go his way late in the game made him sick.

Denver center Nene missed the second of two free throws with 11.3 seconds left with a chance to turn a three-point Nuggets lead into a two-possession game. Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin was lined up around the key with Odom between him and the basket and Ron Artest behind him.

Martin pushed Odom under the basket, tipped in the miss and put the game out of reach.

The normally easy-going Odom let his frustration show after the game, first chucking the basketball from one end of the court more than 60 feet towards the opposite basket and hitting a camera mounted on the top of the shot clock and later telling a reporter as he made his way across the locker room, "Second time ... Two times this year ... [Expletive]!"

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The McTen: Odom upchucks, upends Utah

April, 2, 2011
4/02/11
5:30
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 96-85 win against the Utah Jazz on Friday ...

1

Lamar Odom is usually a 6-10 bundle of energy before a game.

Sometimes he'll get in an extra couple sets of push-ups and sit-ups right before tip-off.

Other times he'll work the room, talking to teammates and reporters about what's going on in the world of sports on that particular day.

Then there are the days he'll rifle through a bag of candy to get that last sugar rush before taking the court.

Before the game Friday in Utah however, Odom just sat slumped in his chair leaning his head against his locker. He barely moved other than to shuffle to the bathroom. He hardly spoke and with baseball's opening day just passed and his Yankees starting with a win there was plenty to talk about. He didn't dare eat and instead gingerly took sips from a cup of water.

When the game started he had to run back to the locker room twice more before he checked in for the first time.

"I was back there throwing up. I don’t know if it was what I ate, or what," revealed Odom after the game. He was officially listed with gastroenteritis (stomach flu), yet played through it. "Guys like Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol, these guys are great and they don’t miss games if they’re hurt, tired [or] sick. You learn from their greatness. It rubs off on you."

Odom finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes and hit a 3-pointer early on in the fourth quarter to put L.A. up double digits that really broke Utah's spirits after they had led by as many as 17.

"Come on, lock him in -- Sixth Man of the Year," Bryant said after the game, continuing to be Odom's No. 1 spokesman for the award. "It shouldn’t even be a question."

Said Gasol: "He gave us everything he’s got as usual, but more credit to him for not feeling well [and playing]. Throwing up is not something easy to deal with when you have to play an NBA game, but he played really well."

Of course, it wasn't the first good game a player has had with the flu in Salt Lake City.

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Lakers dominating on both ends, lacking charitable spirit

March, 29, 2011
3/29/11
6:58
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Lakers aren't just playing great basketball since the All-Star break, but historically good basketball. Their 15-1 run has them on pace to post the best post-break record in NBA history.

As Zach Lowe of SI.com notes, the Lakers are distancing themselves from opponents on both sides of the ball:
"In their 15-1 stretch since the All-Star break, the Lakers have scored 109.3 points per 100 possessions, according to Hoopdata. Only one team — Denver — has a better mark over the full season. On defense, the Lakers have surrendered just 99 points per 100 possessions in that 16-game run; only the Bulls and Celtics have been stingier, and the gap vanishes once you consider that the Lakers have played a strong schedule in that span.

Put simply, the Lakers are playing both offense and defense better than anyone else."

Not a bad formula. Lowe identifies another aspect of L.A.'s defense we've talked about on the blog throughout the year- their ability to defend without fouling. That they're good at it is no secret (they lead the league in free throws allowed per field goal attempt, at .178). I didn't realize, though, just how good they've been:
"They are, in fact, close to becoming the least foul-prone team in NBA history. Consider: The Lakers have yielded 19.4 foul shots per game. Only eight teams have ever allowed fewer than 20 per game over a full season, and if the Lakers keep playing like they are now, they will break the all-time record (19.3). Since the All-Star break, Los Angeles has given up only 18.4 free throws a game — an unthinkable number.

And if you prefer free throw rate, which measures free throws allowed per shot attempt and thus factors in pace, the Lakers are on a historic pace there, too. Only six other teams have allowed so few free throws per shot attempt, and only one of those six (the 2004-05 Suns) played in the post-hand-checking era."

Add in their ability to take care of the ball (despite some monumentally sloppy games sprinkled through the first few months of the season, L.A. has been at or near the top of the league in turnover percentage for most of the year), and the Lakers are forcing opponents to do all their own heavy lifting. Sunday's win was a perfect example: Only nine turnovers, and 15 free throws allowed.

This is, more or less, how the Lakers have rolled over the last few seasons, among the reasons in broad terms their current level of play doesn't seem unsustainable.

The McTen: Substitutes subpar in win vs. N.O.

March, 28, 2011
3/28/11
12:14
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 102-84 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday ...

1

The Hornets did one thing well on Sunday: manage to make the Lakers' second unit look decent in comparison.

New Orleans reserves shot just 10-for-27 from the field, while similarly the Los Angeles' substitutes went 11-for-26.

The Lakers bench let a 17-point third quarter lead dwindle to six in the fourth quarter before L.A. was able to pull away by 18. It echoed recent performances against Phoenix (where a 21-point lead disappeared, and the Lakers won in triple overtime) and against the L.A. Clippers (where a 16-point lead was cut to four).

Besides letting leads slip away, the Lakers bench has had a hard time of extending the margins when the starters check out. As bad as their 11-for-27 shooting line Sunday, it was an improvement to the 5-for-20 shooting the L.A. bench put up Friday against the Clippers.

"I wasn't happy with some of the end of the third quarter and the second quarter," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said about the bench. "They had open shots, they worked the ball the right way and Shannon [Brown] and some good looks. They just didn't go down."

2

Bynum's statistics were pretty meager by his recent standards (13 points, five rebounds, one blocked shot), as the 7-footer played only 22 minutes because of picking up five fouls.

"It wasn’t foul trouble," Bynum maintained after the game. "I don’t think I committed any fouls tonight."

The refs thought otherwise, whistling Bynum for an offensive foul with 9:37 remaining in the fourth, his fifth of the game.

With the Lakers lead at 10 points, Jackson kept Bynum on the floor, rather than take him out and save him in case New Orleans was able to close the gap.

Rather than play tentatively, Bynum was aggressive, scoring seven of the Lakers next nine points, including two on a ferocious dunk after a sweet pivot move in the post.

"At that point I was like, ‘Well, I might as well go hard because if I get a foul, it’s to be expected,’" Bynum explained. "Luckily, some good things happened."

(Read full post)

The McTen: Chippy win against the Clips

March, 26, 2011
3/26/11
7:03
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 112-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday ...

1

The Lakers are nothing these days if not prophetic.

Earlier in the week, Pau Gasol was asked about having his playing time extended while Andrew Bynum was out of the lineup serving his two-game suspension.

"It doesn't matter if you play 10 extra minutes on one given night," Gasol said. "You might have to play a two-overtime game down the road."

Sure enough, the next day the Lakers played their epic triple-overtime game against the Suns.

Before the Lakers and Clippers tipped off Friday, head coach Phil Jackson hinted that his team was headed towards a wacky night.

"I enjoy these games, I think they’re kind of fun for our fans but there’s always a little bit of dread involved in them because you never know what’s going to happen," Jackson said. "They always turn into something else than just a game."

That element PJax saw coming down the pike occurred with 28.8 seconds left in the game with the Lakers up 110-104.

Chris Kaman set a screen on Derek Fisher out past the 3-point line. There was a lot of contact. Next thing you know, Kaman is whistled for two technical fouls, Fisher is whistled for one and as Kaman is being ushered off the court he gestured to Fisher to meet him in the hallway after the game.

There was no old-fashioned fisticuffs afterward that we know of, although Matt Barnes asked Fisher if he wanted him to walk out of the arena with him to watch his back should Kaman be waiting for him. "What’s he going to do, shoot him with one of his bow and arrows? Give me a break," Kobe Bryant said, rolling his eyes.

"Everybody talks tough in this league. Nobody is a fighter."

There wasn't any fighting, but there was some dispute as to who was at fault when Fisher and Kaman collided. "I thought Derek came up high on his head," said Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro.

"I thought it was a pretty bad play on his part. Chris could have gotten hurt. There's no call, no reason for that. Chris was just setting a good screen, it was a legal screen and Fisher came up high with the elbow so the NBA will look at it and they'll make their decision." Jackson said quite the opposite, pointing out that it was Kaman who hit Fisher in the head.

"He doesn't take too kindly to that," Jackson said.

Fisher explained how he looked at the play. "You can't come and set moving screens the whole game and not expect there is going to be some times where you get tangled up with a guy," Fisher said. "To me, that's part of the game. Don't come screen if you don't want to get into a tangle."

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The McTen: A little mayhem vs. Minnesota

March, 19, 2011
3/19/11
10:40
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 106-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday ...

1

It was a weird game for Kobe Bryant from the very start.

After deciding to play against Minnesota after not practicing all week on his bum left ankle, the lack of time on the court showed. He looked pretty rusty. Bryant was 0-for-5 in the first quarter for zero points with a turnover while his main defensive assignment, Wolves rookie Wesley Johnson, went 5-for-6 while scoring 14.

He found a little rhythm in the second quarter by hitting consecutive 3-pointers with less than a minute remaining, but then didn't make it out of the locker room at halftime in time to start the third quarter, leaving Shannon Brown to fill in a the two in his place.

"He was detained," said Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, somewhat cryptically, when asked what held Bryant up.

"I was just stretching [my ankle] out," Bryant explained. "It was really stiff so I made sure I got a good stretch."

Bryant made a couple more shots in the second half (and Johnson made a couple more as well, finishing with a career-high 29), but it was a shot he took to the face when the back of Martell Webster's head collided with Bryant's cheek that could have some ramifications long after the Lakers have forgotten about the T-Wolves.

"I got hit in the jaw, but my jaw is fine. I can take a hit," Bryant said after the game, in a foul mood despite the win. "It was just that my neck snapped back. My neck is pretty stiff right now."

Even with the ankle and the neck working against him, Bryant finished with 18 points, five assists and four rebounds in 28 minutes as he kept up his streak of not missing a game all season.

L.A.'s next game is Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers, who Bryant scored 37 against in an overtime win in the Lakers' second game after the All-Star break.

"I'll be ready, for sure, I promise you that," Bryant said. "I'll be more than ready."

Jackson said that Bryant's quickness was hampered by the ankle and it affected his defense against Johnson and he'll discuss with his reigning Finals MVP about having to sit out to heal up.

"We’ll talk about it," Jackson said. "I’m sure he’s going to say no, but we’ll definitely talk about it and see how he’s doing, if there’s anything bothering him."

(Read full post)

The McTen: Streaking Lakers fly past Hawks

March, 8, 2011
3/08/11
10:48
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers 101-87 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday ...

1

It's the Lakers' version of the chicken and the egg.

What came first: the Lakers defense looking dominant because of Andrew Bynum or Andrew Bynum looking dominant because of the Lakers' defense?

No matter what the answer to the question, the result of the game was more of the same as L.A. throttled Atlanta with Bynum leading the way with 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.

"It made me feel like I could find a little bit of a niche on the squad and find where I’m supposed to be," Bynum said of his new responsibilities this season as the rover in the middle.

And it's found the Lakers right where they need to be with the playoffs fast approaching and their play rising to a championship level.

Despite a right knee that is still less than 100 percent (Bynum admitted to taking pain medication for it Tuesday), the sixth-year center continues to put mind over matter and drag his teammates along with him.

"He played through injury last year and actually played better," said Ron Artest. "He played through a knee that was almost gone. He played even tougher last year and now he’s healthy, so, of course, this is nothing."

Said Kobe Bryant: "He’s playing phenomenally well. He’s just doing everything we can ask him to do."

And everything Bynum is doing for L.A.'s success is bringing everyone on the Lakers together on and off the court.

"You start to come together more as a team and that’s where we’re at as far as this part of the season where we’re at right now," said Lamar Odom. "Our camaraderie, what we think about each other, how we feel about each other and how we all love to win is showing on the court."

2

Bynum's 16 boards gives him a staggering 50 rebounds over his last three games. The 7-footer has always been OK on the glass, averaging 8.2 rebounds for the season and 6.9 for his career, but he has taken it to another level.

"He’s pursuing the ball," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "That makes such a difference when that big guy goes to where the point of the ball is coming off. He’s gotten challenged on rebounds and he’s still coming down with them. His hand strength and arm strength is dominant out there. Not only his size, but he is challenged on rebounds and comes away with them."

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.3