Los Angeles Lakers: The McTen

The McTen: No road redemption in Phoenix

February, 19, 2012
2/19/12
11:01
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 102-90 road loss against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday ...

1

The Lakers followed a familiar script in Phoenix on Sunday.

Fall down double digits early while playing on the road. Expend a lot of effort attempting to mount a comeback. End up falling short because the hole was too deep.

It could have been Orlando or Miami or Sacramento or Denver. Same script, different day.

Knowing that his team had strung together three wins in a row and dismissed the Suns pretty easily just two days before, Lakers coach Mike Brown tried to cut complacency off at the pass by doing something he doesn't usually do: deliver a speech before tip-off.

"One thing I talked to our ballclub about before the game was, and I don’t say much, but I told our ballclub that this is going to be an interesting game because this is a mental game right here," Brown said. "It would be interesting to see how mentally we come out and we try to play the game tonight because for us, it could be a task mentally. So, 'Let’s go.'"

Instead of "let's go" it was "no go" as the Lakers trailed by 16 after the first quarter, gave up 63 points in the first half and never got the lead under 10 from then on.

The Lakers are now 5-11 away from Staples Center on the season and have a difficult road back-to-back looming this week against Dallas and Oklahoma City.

"It’s easy to play at home because you have your crowd there, so you’re ready to go and the energy is there," Jason Kapono said, and it was such a difficult night for L.A. that Kapono was worthy of commenting after going from two straight DNPs to playing 19 minutes. "For some reason, we lack that on the road. So, we need to find a way to come out here at the start of games and find a way to not start out down 8-10 [points] and always try to claw back and fight back."

2

Before the Lakers think about the road again, they must first worry about a home game against Portland on Monday. The Lakers might be 13-2 at home this season, but they will have some weary stars with Kobe Bryant playing 40 minutes and Pau Gasol playing 37 minutes against Phoenix.

Bryant finished with a game-high 32 points on 11-for-24 shooting, with 20 of those points coming in the second half when L.A. tried to get back in it.

"He was scoring and making plays for us so we kept the ball in his hands," Brown said of playing Bryant so long despite the fact that A) he had 10 turnovers and B) the Lakers have a game against Portland on Monday. "Is that something he can do? Yeah. But that’s a lot of pressure on one guy to make plays for everybody and then also to score the basketball."

(Read full post)

The McTen: Rocky road win in Denver

February, 4, 2012
2/04/12
12:14
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
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.

(Read full post)

The McTen: Lakers' big three shine in Minny

January, 29, 2012
1/29/12
10:12
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Los Angeles LakersBrace Hemmelgarn/US PresswireThe Lakers had plenty to smile about after finally winning another game on the road Sunday.

Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 106-101 road win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday ...
1


Before the season had begun and the Lakers' prospects for a return trip to the championship round already seemed farfetched with the departures of Shannon Brown and Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant maintained confidence in his group.

"Last I checked I still have Pau [Gasol] and Andrew [Bynum]," Bryant said back in the first week of training camp. "I kind of like my chances."

Bryant, Gasol and Bynum combined for 84 of the Lakers' 106 points against Minnesota (79.2 percent) and his wasn't Bryant scoring 81 again and Gasol and Bynum combining for the other three, either.

The NBA's top trios are usually thought to be in Miami, Boston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, but the Lakers still have a formidable threesome of their own.

"Our three guys -- Gasol, Bynum and Bryant -- all stepped up offensively and put the ball in the hole for us," said Lakers coach Mike Brown.

"The 'big three,' " Gasol said with a smile and a laugh when a reported rattled off how Bryant (35 points), Gasol (28 points) and Bynum (21 points) were all able to click together in the same game.

There have been plenty of games when two of the three had found their rhythm in a single night, but the Wolves game allowed all three to get going because they took turns as the featured offensive thrust. Gasol had 14 points in the first quarter on 6-for-8 shooting. Bryant's biggest quarter came in the third when he had 13 on 4-for-10 shooting. Bynum scored two in the first, six in the second, six in the third and hit his crescendo in the fourth with seven points on 3-for-7 shooting as the Lakers kept feeding it inside after the Timberwolves had battled all the way back from being down by 18.

"When a guy gets it going, obviously a team recognizes it and we try to get the ball to that guy so he can continue to be effective and be productive," Gasol said.

Bryant's 29 shots were the same amount as Gasol's and Bynum's shot attempts combined. It's not a perfect proportion. If the Lakers' Big Three are to get 58 shots between them, the ideal mix would probably be 24 for Bryant and 17 apiece for Gasol and Bynum, but it wasn't that far off.

"They get the same amount of touches pretty much every game," Bryant said. "They played well because they were aggressive and they created space and they made good of their opportunities. It’s about them capitalizing on those chances and being physical down low and creating from those opportunities that they’re given."

Bynum, who grumbled about only getting 10 shots against Milwaukee, was pleased with his output.

"It felt good to get some touches and do some good stuff with them," Bynum said.

The triple threat left the Wolves exasperated.

"What they did was that they loaded Kobe and Bynum on the same side along with Gasol, so it was like pick your poison," Michael Beasley said.

(Read full post)

The McTen: Gasol's dagger 3 jolts Jazz

January, 11, 2012
1/11/12
11:51
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Pau Gasol AP Photo/Jim Urquhart Pau Gasol's 3-pointer in overtime proved to be one of the keys down the stretch for the Lakers.

Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 90-87 overtime road win against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday ...

1
At 7 feet, 250 pounds and one of a dying breed of true back-to-the-basket post players in the league, Pau Gasol has been relegated to the paint for most of his 11-year career.

When he dared dabble out on the perimeter the results haven't been pretty. Sure, he proved he could hit a 3-pointer in a pressure-cooker situation with that triple he connected on in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the first round against New Orleans last spring, but he also infamously missed a potential winning 3-pointer at the buzzer that Phil Jackson had drawn up for him in a game against Portland a few seasons back and had just a 19-for-88 career mark from downtown.

That all went out the window with 2:02 remaining in OT Wednesday when Kobe Bryant sucked in the defense at passed out to a wide-open Gasol who was parked in the corner and calmly splashed the 3 to turn a two-point deficit into a one-point lead for L.A.

"I’m just glad that he found me and I was [shooting] with confidence and I practiced that shot enough that I can make it," said Gasol who had hit a 3-pointer in the preseason against the Clippers but started off the regular season 0-for-3 from deep. "I was also happy that I made it because I did not have a good game overall, so it was a big play for the team to make and I was happy I was able to score and knock it down basically."

Gasol finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but had five turnovers, including two early in the extra period that led to the Jazz opening up a four-point lead.

Lakers coach Mike Brown said Gasol has "a green light to shoot the 3," and added, "as you could tell, guys trust him [shooting it]," but it wasn't such and easy decision for Bryant to cough it up.

"Coach [John] Kuester’s been urging me to trust him at the 3-point line, because he’s statistically one of our better 3-point shooters in practice and I decided to kick it to him and he knocked it down," Bryant said. "I thought about it [for what] seemed like an eternity and I thought, ‘What the hell.’"

After the pass, Bryant's thoughts shifted to the heavens.

"If you think [Tim] Tebow prays, when that ball left his hands I must have said 30 Hail Mary’s in 10 seconds," Bryant said.

Gasol made it clear that he's not going to go all Dirk Nowitzki all of the sudden and start using his 7-foot frame to launch from beyond the arc with regularity, but he said he wants to test his range from game to game to see if he's feeling it from deep on that particular night.

"That won’t be the focus of my game, at all," Gasol said. "It will just be another weapon, another thing to add up to it."

Brown seems to be endorsing the option.

"He can shoot that thing," Brown said. "He can shoot it very well."

(Read full post)

The McTen: Another late-game collapse

January, 1, 2012
1/01/12
11:28
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive


Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 99-90 road loss against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday ...

1

The Lakers led 90-88 with 2:47 remaining in the fourth quarter on Sunday before Denver went on an 11-0 run to finish the game.

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

The Lakers were ahead of the Chicago Bulls by 11 with 3:44 remaining in the season opener, before the Bulls finished with a 17-5 run to end it.

The Lakers were down by just two to the Sacramento Kings with 4:24 remaining before the Kings ended the game with an 11-4 spurt.

And so, New Year's Day felt a little like the movie "Groundhog Day" as the Lakers once again stumbled down the stretch.

"To close out games, you need to be able to execute and that’s something we’re struggling with right now to be consistent at doing, is executing and getting our guys that we want to have the basketball at certain times at certain spots where they can be most effective," said Lakers co-captain Derek Fisher.

The Lakers were outscored 27-19 in the fourth quarter, allowing Denver to shoot 10-for-17 (58.8 percent), including giving up a 7-0 edge to the Nugget in fastbreak points.

"To win close games, in particular close games on the road, No. 1, you can’t play from behind the entire time, but No. 2, you have to be able to execute down the stretch and we weren’t able to do that which led to some of the runouts that [Danilo] Gallinari got out there at the end," Fisher said.

Pau Gasol could only shake his head at Los Angeles' 3-3 record to start the season.

"Those three losses were three games that we could have had. It’s very unfortunate when you let a team off the hook like we have in these three losses," Gasol said. "With this team and the talent that we have, we should have a little bit better record than we do now … Hopefully we’ll finish games off better than we have."

(Read full post)

The McTen: Gasol ends scoring slump

December, 28, 2011
12/28/11
9:26
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive


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."


(Read full post)

The McTen: How about that Morris?

December, 20, 2011
12/20/11
8:38
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive


Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 114-95 preseason loss against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday ...


1

There wasn't much for Mike Brown to smile about after the Lakers trailed by as many as 27 en route to a 19-point rout.

But, after opening his postgame remarks by admitting it was an "ugly game from us," Brown couldn't help but break out a grin and chuckle a little bit when talking about how rookie point guard Darius Morris played.

"The rook came in and he was either feast or famine, which was OK," said Brown. "It was his first taste of NBA experience."

That first taste was more than just a nibble because starting point guard Derek Fisher sat out Monday as a preventative measure as he continues to work himself back into playing shape. And so Morris played just 34 seconds less than Steve Blake on Monday and was the lone true bright spot for the Lakers, finishing with 11 points, three assists and three rebounds in 24 minutes.

"Coming out that tunnel, it was just an honor," the L.A. native and Winward School graduate said of wearing his No. 1 Lakers jersey for the first time.

Morris made an immediate impact when he checked into the game as Brown's first substitute midway through the first quarter.

After Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum combined for three straight turnovers, Morris found the ball in his hands as the shot clock was winding down on the possession. Rather than playing hot potato with the ball and dumping it off to a teammate, Morris rose up and connected on a 22-footer before the 24 seconds had eclipsed.

"I think that was like the ice breaker for me," Morris said. "For that one to go in was a huge boost for my confidence."

(Read full post)

The McTen: What the Draft means

June, 23, 2011
6/23/11
4:29
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The Lakers have only had six first-round draft picks in the last 10 years and only one of those (Andrew Bynum) was a lottery pick, so L.A. fans have been able to kick back and watch David Stern shaking hands on draft night for the last decade without thinking the night's events would have long-term ramifications on how the franchise fares.

This year's draft should be quite the same, as the Lakers have zero first-round picks but four in the second round (Nos. 41, 46, 56 and 58). Yet, it feels very different this time around as the Lakers aren't coming off a Finals appearance, they're rather coming off their first exit in the playoffs via a 4-0 sweep since 1999 when they lost to San Antonio in the second round.

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the Lakers leading up to the draft, especially for a team that has no first-round picks, but there is reasoning behind most of the rumors that have surfaced.

Trying to make some sense of it all before the draft begins on Thursday, here are 10 thoughts behind why you're hearing what you're hearing ...

1. Why is Lamar Odom being linked to multiple trade scenarios?

Odom is the Lakers' most tradable asset. He is coming off a stellar campaign, earning him Sixth Man of the Year; he's owed $8.9 million next year and could be bought out the year after that for only approximately $2 million so he's being paid a fair market value and if he depreciates suddenly as he creeps a year further into his thirties, he can be let go of relatively painlessly; he can literally play all five positions on the court (which is why he wore No. 5 as a freshman at Rhode Island); and plus, he is a well-liked, affable guy with a great reputation around the league.

It's no wonder that he is being talked about more than someone like Bynum or Pau Gasol, because both of those players are harder to trade. The bigger the contract, the less teams to covet it.

(Read full post)

The McTen: Bynum sounds off

April, 7, 2011
4/07/11
12:27
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
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.

(Read full post)

The McTen: Unharmonious ending vs. Jazz

April, 6, 2011
4/06/11
7:53
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
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."

(Read full post)

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
Archive

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]!"

(Read full post)

The McTen: Odom upchucks, upends Utah

April, 2, 2011
4/02/11
5:30
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
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.

(Read full post)

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
Archive
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
Archive
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."

(Read full post)

The McTen: A little mayhem vs. Minnesota

March, 19, 2011
3/19/11
10:40
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
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)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5