Monday, November 15, 2010
The McTen: Sunny Side Down
By Dave McMenamin
Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 121-116 loss to the Suns on Sunday:
1. Before the game, the two coaches of the final two teams standing in the Western Conference last season weighed in on which two would be there this year.
If the playoffs started today, Phil Jackson's 8-2 Lakers would be the No. 3 seed behind 8-0 New Orleans and 8-1 San Antonio. Alvin Gentry's 5-4 Suns would be one of the four teams tied for the final two spots along with Denver, Oklahoma City and Portland.
(I'm not going to figure out the tiebreakers because this is only a hypothetical and there are still more than 70 games left to play for every team.)
Gentry likes the Nuggets, who gave the Lakers their first loss of the season Thursday.
"I think Denver's very good," Gentry said. "I don't know what that [Carmelo Anthony] situation is going to eventually be, but if that team is together and you get Kenyon Martin back, you get Birdman [Chris Andersen] back and that gives them extra depth, you know, I think they're a very good team."
Jackson gave his thoughts on several teams including ...
The Thunder: "They've had a tough schedule ... they're playing well the games are competitive."
The Utah Jazz (and the reason for all of their recent comeback victories): "In the second half they're playing offense in front of their bench and they're generating a lot of points in front of their bench because of that."
The Hornets: "I think they're playing great defense, I think that's the difference between them."
The Mavericks: "Dallas is going to be a good team."
When asked to pick one team to watch out for, Jackson said, "I have no idea, none ... I wouldn't even venture, there's probably six teams that could fit into that."
"I just think there are going to be so many teams that are going to be at that 50-win mark. It's going to be kind of sorted out at that level. I don't know who's going to step up into the second, third and fourth positions that are going to be in the West ... There's a number of teams that are going to sit there and get a lot of wins. I don't think there's anybody that's going to win 6o games, it's just going to be too tough, too tight."
"We hope to [win 60]," Jackson clarified. "I don't know though. Last year we couldn't accomplish it, so I don't know what it will be this year."
Despite their record at the moment, Gentry still places the back-to-back champs at the top of the heap in the West.
"I don't know where the Lakers' weaknesses really are so you have to play flawless basketball to have an opportunity to beat them in a playoff series," Gentry said. "To try to win four out of seven games against them, I think its going to be difficult for anyone."
2. A reader named Manny called it "Blitz-Three-G" in our Lakers Live! chat and he was spot on. The Suns broke a bunch of records from the outside Sunday, going 22-for-40 for the game (55 percent) on 3-pointers. They eclipsed their own mark of 19 makes against the Lakers from deep, setting the record for most 3s by an opponent. They were one off the all-time mark for makes in a game set by the Orlando Magic in Jan. 2009. They also beat their own team record of 20 triples in a game which they accomplished twice before. The 31 combined makes by the two teams (the Lakers were 9-for-23) was also one off the all-time best of 32 made by Phoenix and Seattle on Jan. 22, 2006, but that game went to double-overtime.
3. Actor David Arquette sat courtside in a look that I heard described as "half Elton John, half Vic the Brick." Have a see for yourself courtesy of 710 ESPN's Beto Duran's Twitter account, @DuranLA.
4. Bryant finished with 25 points, a season-high 14 assists and nine rebounds to end up one board shy of his second triple-double of the season and the 18th of his career. He shot 11-for-20 from the field, matching the amount of makes he had against Denver on Thursday but needing 12 less shots to do it. Undermining Bryant's productivity, however, were a season-high eight turnovers.
5. With Steve Blakeout with a stomach flu, Sasha Vujacic got 11 minutes at backup point guard and played for just the fifth time in 10 games this season. His final stat line wasn't particularly impressive -- three points on 1-for-3 shooting, three fouls, two turnovers and a steal -- but Jackson generally thought he played OK. "Sasha picked up a role, got out there and did some things," the coach said.
7. Kobe going off the the backboard to himself has become a somewhat signature play of his. He did it again with 7:39 remaining in the first quarter against the Suns. It's always surprising and seems like something you've never seen before when it happens, but here's him doing it during the 2003-04 season; and here in 2008-09; here's a clip of him doing it against the Jazz in the 2008 playoffs; and against the Rockets in the 2009 playoffs; and here's a clip of him doing it against the Bobcats last season. It's not as rare as you think.
8. L.A. takes its two-game losing streak into Milwaukee Tuesday. Last season the Lakers needed a game winner from Kobe in overtime to escape with a win. The Lakers have lost three games in a row just once since acquiring Gasol though, so they'll have that going for them against the Bucks.
Then the road trip takes them to Detroit and Minnesota.
"I like their sausages and their Thuringers, yeah, things like that … sauerkraut," Jackson deadpanned the other day when looking ahead to the trip. "That will be interesting and Detroit … it’s always a pleasure to go to The Palace. We had a snow storm that was so bad we shouldn’t have even flown that day when we went in there and played [last year], but we did. And then back to Minnesota, so yeah, it will be a challenge."
9. Quotes of the night: "We made 22 3s and we had to hold on to beat them, I think they're OK, OK? I really do think they're OK." -- Suns coach Alvin Gentry on the state of the Lakers who have dropped two straight after starting the season 8-0.
"It worked well tonight but you won't make 22 3s every night, so, that's a style they feel comfortable playing [and] it works for them at times ... I'll just say that I have five rings playing a particular way, I feel that works pretty well and other people do other things and we see the results." -- Derek Fisher discussing the Suns' style.
10. Stats of the night: The Lakers outscored the Suns 68-28 in the paint and controlled the glass 49-32 ... Matt Barnes finished with seven rebounds -- more than any front court player on the Suns grabbed -- and in the process went over the 2,000 rebound mark for his career ... Shannon Brown shot 2-for-3 on 3-pointers, the fifth time he's made multiple 3s in a game this season and the fourth time he's shot better than 50 percent while shooting them ... Jason Richardson scored 35 points, which is the second time he's gone for 35 points or more this season -- or two more 35-plus point games Kobe and Pau have had this season combined.