Los Angeles Lakers: Clippers

Lakers react to Clippers' comeback

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
5:09
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The opening weekend of the 2012 NBA playoffs featured two games with dramatic fourth quarter results that got the rest of league's attention.

On Saturday, Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose tore the ACL in his left knee when he was still on the court in the fourth quarter even though the Bulls led the Philadelphia 76ers by 12 with just 1:22 remaining.

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Clippers trailed by as many as 27 points in the second half and came back to beat the Memphis Grizzlies with a furious rally in the fourth quarter.

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau, the NBA's reigning Coach of the Year, was left to defend his decision to keep Rose and the rest of his starters in the game. Just a day later, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro continued to play his best players late in the game even though his team entered the fourth quarter down by 21 points.

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Brown on Griffin's dunk on Gasol: "That’s an offensive foul"

April, 6, 2012
4/06/12
2:21
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Lakers coach Mike Brown doesn't have a DeLorean to take him back to Wednesday evening so he can save Pau Gasol from joining Timofey Mozgov and Kendrick Perkins as Blake Griffin's most battered dunk victims, but that doesn't mean he can't try to add a postscript to the plays by getting the league to admit the dunks should have been disallowed.

Brown told reporters at shootaround Friday in preparation for L.A.'s game against the Houston Rockets that the Lakers have reached out to the league seeking clarification as to why both of Griffin's dunks on Gasol -- a putback in the first quarter and the poster-worthy jam in the third -- weren't called as fouls against Griffin.

"I’m waiting to see an interpretation on the call because it’s a heck of a play [but] I thought if you led with your forearm, I thought that’s an offensive foul," Brown said. "But maybe I don’t know the rules that well. It will be interesting to make sure that I have an explanation or understanding of what the rules are."

Brown said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has reached out to the league office on behalf of the team, searching for answers.

Gasol took umbrage with Griffin's Mozgov-like dunk after the game Wednesday.

"You don't really see what happened," Gasol said. "It was quick, a hit-and-run kind of thing, right? The ball went in, I was on my ass, I woke up, I stood up and told the referee I had a f---ing forearm on my face, on my throat, and that's something that needs to be looked at."

Brown said Griffin's first-quarter dunk on Gasol also should have been an infraction.

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World Peace declining? Nah, just "bored"

January, 26, 2012
1/26/12
6:54
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Since signing with the Lakers he’s changed his jersey number his name, but Metta World Peace hasn’t been able to change the fact that he’s declining as a player.

After an impressive performance in the Lakers’ 96-91 win over the Clippers on Wednesday, World Peace at least wanted to change the narrative of why his play has been slipping.

“The defense, I got to bring it back,” World Peace said after practice Thursday, a day after putting up three points, seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block while playing a season-high 38 minutes. “I got bored with defense because it was so easy for me to stop people over the years. I got real bored with it. When you’re playing against guys and you’re stopping guys every single time, what else are you going to do [but get bored]? It caught up to me, but this year I’m doing better. This year I’m almost back to where I want to be.”

As wild as his premise might sound (“bored” could explain why he changed his name from Ron Artest, however), Kobe Bryant actually agreed with World Peace’s logic.

“I can relate to that,” Bryant said. “That’s happened to me before as well. That’s human nature sometimes. You have to have [and] you have to find challenges that kind of get you going and keep your energy.

“It’s about finding your edge. You have to find your edge. It’s not something that’s farfetched. He was a great defensive player. Things sometimes become too easy. Offensively, things for me get really, really easy sometimes and the game just feels boring. But you have to find that edge, you have to find something that’s going to push you.”

What pushed World Peace against the Clippers was the chance to push tough guys Reggie Evans and Blake Griffin around a little bit.

“Once the guys [on the Clippers] started talking to me, I had to come out of my shell a little bit,” World Peace told 710 ESPN’s “Mason & Ireland Show” on Thursday. “So, they kind of woke me up.”

The wake-up call was appreciated by World Peace’s teammates.

“I think [Wednesday] night it was definitely a positive,” said Pau Gasol. “I don’t think you might need that necessarily every night, but his aggression and aggressiveness and level of energy last night really made an impact and that’s something that we look forward to from Ron. Because, he might not be having a great shooting night, but if he has a couple steals, gets into a couple guys’ faces, puts his body on people, knocks somebody around a little bit here and there, plays physical … He’s as physical as it gets at the small forward position. You don’t get a much stronger guy than him, so you got to use his body to be a factor.”

World Peace’s body is finally back in top form after coming into training camp admittedly out of shape. Coach Mike Brown called him “heavy” and reduced World Peace’s minutes from 29.4 per game as the starting small forward last season to 20.9 this year in a reserve role. Brown even sat World Peace out the entire game against Cleveland less than two weeks ago, surprising considering World Peace played in all 82 of the Lakers’ games a year ago.

“I just think I’m getting in shape,” World Peace told 710 ESPN. “I planned on playing really hard this season, but I couldn’t do that early on because I was out of shape and then when I got in shape, I wasn’t getting no minutes so I wasn’t able to show the things that I was able to do.”

He insists that his career low averages of 5.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 0.2 blocks on just 33.9 percent shooting has more to do with his minutes being cut and his body rounding into shape than it does with his not being fully engaged.

“It really hasn’t changed,” World Peace said. “I’ve just been out on the floor. On the bench, I was really enthusiastic on the bench. Bench players don’t get credit for clapping. I had a lot of energy on the bench.”

After the Clippers game, Bryant said he wants to see more of the old, aggressive Ron Artest and less of the passive World Peace.

“Ron was his feisty self on the perimeter,” Bryant said Thursday. “He just needs to be who he is. We brought him in there for him being himself, so he just has to be himself.”

World Peace wants people to know the definition of who he is doesn’t include any malicious intent.

“On the court, I’m definitely not a mean person. I’m still the same person. I play extremely hard,” he told 710 ESPN. “You won’t be seeing that much. I can play basketball with just as much energy without talking smack and still being energized and having fun with the fans.”

Gasol put it thusly: “He’s World Peace now. He can’t be too aggressive or too violent out there. He’s preaching peace.”

Still, whatever player wore No. 15 for the Lakers last night-- the docile Metta World Peace, the rambunctious Ron Artest, or some combination of the two -- was sprung to life by the Clippers. And Clippers-Lakers games are sure to be just as lively for every player involved moving forward.

“I love it,” World Peace said. “It’s a L.A. rival. It’s here. I’m happy the Clippers are doing well. I’m happy we got a chance to [be like] New York that has the subway series with the Yankees and the Mets. I’m happy to be a part of this Clippers and Lakers rivalry. I hope we meet each other in the playoffs. That would be great for the city.”

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Countdown to Christmas: Predictions, predictions

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
9:50
AM PT
By ESPNLosAngeles.com
ESPNLosAngeles.com
With the start of the season just around the corner, we asked some of our NBA experts to look ahead. Can the Lakers remain a title contender without Lamar Odom? Will the Clippers of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin deliver on their promise?

Andy Kamenetzky

LAKERS
Predicted record: 42-24
Predicted finish: Western Conference Semifinals, then eliminated.

The recent days haven't been sunny. Trades nixed. Sixth men traded. Direction questioned by the franchise player, who Monday added "torn wrist ligament" to a sea of recent injuries. By comparison, the lockout was fun.

Still, the sky hasn't quite fallen. Yes, the lack of two-guard depth and wings capable of creating their own shot is problematic, as is learning Mike Brown's systems on the fly. But the Laker big three stacks up well against any in the league, and some roster issues (frontcourt depth, outside shooting) were addressed. Plus, getting slapped by reality during the playoffs should erase any complacency.

I don't consider the Lakers front-runners anymore, but they're way too talented to dismiss. Good health and perhaps good use of the Odom trade exception, and they may just surprise.

CLIPPERS
Predicted record: 46-20
Predicted finish: Western Conference Finals, then eliminated.

The Bizarro-Lakers: Nothing but excitement, optimism, and finals talk. It's a mite early to declare L.A. a "Clipper town," but the legitimacy Chris Paul provides is a game-changer. Plus, that Blake Griffin character is pretty good, and Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and DeAndre Jordan equal an excellent starting five.

Of course, there are questions about health (Butler, Paul), age (Billups) and the bench (low on scorers beyond Mo Williams). Vinny Del Negro isn't proven. And if a deep playoff run awaits, how will Griffin fare in his first appearance?

For that matter, how will overnight expectations of greatness be handled?
However, if the answer is "well," the Clips could be among the NBA's scariest teams.

---------

Dave McMenamin

LAKERS
Predicted record: 42-24
Predicted finish: Second round of playoffs

The reports of the Lakers demise are greatly exaggerated. While they might not be the top-five championship contender they've been the last several seasons, it's not like they're lottery bound either. As long as Andrew Bynum can stay healthy and Kobe Bryant doesn't miss too much time because of the torn ligament in his right wrist, the Lakers' core as it is currently constructed should end up somewhere in the 3-5 seed range, with a good shot at a home playoff series to begin the postseason.

CLIPPERS
Predicted record: 40-26
Predicted finish: First round of playoffs

They aren't quite there yet in terms of being a title team, but the offseason acquisitions of Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler should be enough to push them into the playoffs for the first time since 2006. They had better invest in a backup big man, however. After Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, their frontcourt depth gets very thin. Just because predictions are meaningless (does anybody else remember Phil Jackson guaranteeing the Lakers would be bringing their Western Conference semifinals series back to L.A. after falling down 2-0 and heading to Dallas?), I'll say the Clippers end up the five seed, the Lakers end up the four seed and I won't have to book any hotels, flights or car rentals for the first round of the playoffs.

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Clippers 114, Lakers 95: Rapid Reaction

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
10:27
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Actual footage from outside Staples Center following the Los Angeles Lakers' 114-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night:



In virtually any other year, a lopsided score in a preseason game would likely be ignored. This is not any year. The mood among fans surrounding this season's Lakers team heading into Monday night's preseason game was already dark. Fair to say the evening's events won't add any light.

Below are five takeaways from the game:

1. Kobe Bryant looked good physically

The score is the score and the aesthetics were bad, but is anything really more important than this? There will be plenty of time to worry about the bench, point guard play and more, but if Bryant isn't whole, none of it really matters. Monday, Kobe appeared relatively spry en route to his 22 points, whether working on the ball in the pick-and-roll or running from the weak side to catch-and-shoot from midrange. Even in his heart-stopping moment -- falling awkwardly on his right wrist after DeAndre Jordan swatted away a dunk attempt -- had a silver lining. Kobe showed some nice hops on the play, and if Jordan would have simply moved out of the way, Lakers fans would have had a nice highlight to offset the final score.

Perhaps the best sign of Bryant's health were his 15 trips to the free-throw line.

Yes, there were too many turnovers (seven), some coming off mishandled plays on the dribble, a problem he had during Friday's scrimmage as well, but a lot of that is related to the general difficulties the Lakers had executing their offense. Those are things that can improve with time. Had Kobe started this season behind the eight ball physically, that wouldn't change.

2. The Lakers look like a team learning a new system

The starters, particularly in the first half, were fine. But generally speaking, even with the high-end talent on the floor the Lakers appeared indecisive in their offense. (Things were even worse with the reserves.) They often got up the floor quickly, but when limited to the half court they took a while to make choices on and off the ball. Very little looked automatic. Of course, all of this should be understood. The Lakers are a team learning a new system while integrating new pieces almost daily, something that has gone a little under-discussed given all the action surrounding the roster. It is going to take time, and some regular-season games, for this to work itself out.

Not saying there aren't going to be problems or shortcomings down the road, but it would have been more surprising if the Lakers looked efficient offensively.

3. It's hard to gauge the defense, for many of the same reasons

Lakers coach Mike Brown won't be happy, but the same lack of cohesion they saw offensively shows up at the other end, and particularly in the third quarter when the Lakers turned the ball over nine times and were outscored 36-17, the horrible offense made it tough to maintain a solid defensive posture.

Before the wheels came off, the Lakers showed some decent activity on that side of the floor. Pau Gasol kept a lid on Blake Griffin, Andrew Bynum (despite rhythm-less moments offensively) got after the boards, and overall the effort seemed reasonable. Now the results have to improve, and fast.

4. The lack of a secondary shot creator is going to hurt

There were some good performances off the bench. Jason Kapono hit both his 3-pointers, Troy Murphy hit the only triple he took (from his favored spot at the top of the arc), and Josh McRoberts was a flurry of activity, running the floor and displaying some nifty passing skills. Devin Ebanks, starting the second half at small forward, had some of the only bright spots in the final 24 minutes. But the Lakers were short on ball handlers and shot creators before they shipped Lamar Odom to Dallas, and the hole felt acute Monday night.

Particularly until the Lakers reach some level of proficiency in their execution and can generate good chances without relying too much on one-on-one play, they're going to have some problems. Or they'll have to rely far more on Kobe to create for his teammates, which isn't a great option, either, given how much is already on his plate.

5. Metta World Peace as bench spark ... not a good debut

The forward formerly known as Ron Artest went 0-8 from the floor, 0-5 from 3, plus had a turnover and some curious moments.

Mom on the behavior of NBA owners

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
12:49
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Kobe Bryant said Thursday he believes NBA owners definitely scuttled the Chris Paul trade to prevent the Lakers from getting another star. He'll get no argument from our mother.

Her take:

"It's like when you go shopping with the girls and you tell your friend a dress looks bad on her, because you're jealous and don't want her to look better than you."

A reminder never to hit the department store with Dan Gilbert.

Countdown to Christmas: Worst-case scenario

December, 15, 2011
12/15/11
9:07
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Lakers fans, you better sit down for this one.

Exploring the worst-case scenario for the Lakers this season can get pretty ugly, pretty quick.

Even before the Lakers have played a game things are pretty unbearable if you live in Los Angeles and root for the purple and gold.

It all began last week (seems like a year ago now) when the Lakers had a deal in place to acquire Chris Paul for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.

Kobe Bryant and Paul were supposed to form one of the best backcourts in NBA history. The Lakers were supposed to finally have a young, quick floor general to combat against the NBA’s new wave of dynamic guards dominating the game in Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Stephen Curry and John Wall. The 26-year-old Paul and 24-year-old Andrew Bynum were supposed to give the Lakers a backbone to build upon for the next five years as the 33-year-old Bryant hit season No. 16 and beyond.

Instead? Well, just follow these four events in the course they occurred. Each one seems worse than the last.
1. NBA commissioner David Stern vetoes the trade -- In an unprecedented flex of power, Stern quashed the deal citing “basketball reasons.” Lakers general manager was left with little options for recourse, telling reporters, “We did the best we can to express our displeasure.” Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, in the hospital being treated for blood clots in his legs at the time, had to have felt punched in the gut after supporting Stern throughout the lockout and even going along with the commish’s revenue sharing model, even though it meant $50 million being plucked from the Lakers’ coffers and redistributed to their opponents every season.

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Lakers preseason games announced

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
4:44
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Normally, revealing the Lakers' preseason schedule rates somewhere with "Wet Paint at Local Gymnasium Now Dry" on the Big News Story Scale, but of course nothing about the (tentative) 2011-12 season is normal. Meaning the announcement of this year's truncated slate of warm up games-- a home and home against the Clippers on December 19 (@LAL) and 21 (@LAC), both at 7:30 pm PT-- actually provides a few talking points.

First, the Lakers benefit from not having to go anywhere to play. Even a short flight to Golden State or Sacramento would mean losing time better spent doing something else, namely practicing. Second, the Clippers are a real team with genuine playoff ambition, particularly if rumors about Caron Butler prove true. The red, white, and blue should be focused and ready to go, and won't be spending much time auditioning prospective talent. They have a basic rotation in place, as do the Lakers, and those are the guys who will play. All told, it improves the quality of the two dress rehearsals. Given how little time the Lakers have to prepare for Christmas day, this matters.

The short camp combined with a new coaching staff and any number of other open questions about the Lakers means we're likely to assign more meaning to the outcome of these games than they probably deserve, but no question they count for something more than your typical preseason contest.

And if nothing else, sticking Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin together in a pair of games likely to have a regular season feel to them benefits fans who normally don't get much of a show for their preseason ticket dollar.

Lakers vs. Clippers -- What to watch with ClipperBlog

February, 25, 2011
2/25/11
11:03
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Historically, seeing the Clippers on the schedule has been a happy thing for the Lakers. This year, though, the red,white, and blue have flipped the script, losing by a point in the first meeting (on a buzzer beating lefty flip at the rim from Derek Fisher), then beating the champs by seven on January 16.

No question the Clips will be fired up for tonight's rubber match, but the circumstances for both teams are different. The Lakers, gearing up for the stretch run and playoff drive, are coming off two big wins out of the All-Star break. The LAC, on the other hand, have struggled. Without Eric Gordon (wrist), the Clippers have lost eight of ten on their extended road trip, ending tonight as visitors in their building (or more accurately, visitors in the building in which they play).


David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images
Baron out, Mo in. Cue applause.


Moreover, the Clips are a team in transition, having shipped Baron Davis- beard, contract, and questionable fitness habits included- to Cleveland for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. Even factoring in the lottery pick heading to the Cavs as part of the exchange, it's still a brilliant deal for the Clips, frankly one I figured they'd be unable to make given the Full Albatross status of Davis' contract and his less-than-pristine reputation around the NBA.

In the long run, the Clippers will benefit. In the now, it makes tonight's game a little tougher to handicap. For some help, I hit up Breene Murphy, outstanding steward of ClipperBlog, for some insight:

1) What impact does moving Baron have for the Clippers, on the floor and off? How does Mo Williams fit in?

You said in your email I could keep this short, and then asked a question that I could write 30,000 words on. Is this some sort of torture?

Moving Baron really was all about the future of the franchise. After all, the Clippers aren’t making the playoffs this year, but Baron’s contract was preventing them from pursuing free agents this summer, and the following year as well. By bringing in Mo Williams they save at least $8.5 million and more likely $11 million, even more if you count the salary of the draft pick that they gave up to get rid of Baron.

There is one sneaky tenet that this trade assumes though- that players will want to come to the Clippers to play. I know they have Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, even the other rooks [Al-Farouq] Aminu, [Eric] Bledsoe (and maybe Willie Warren) have potential. But there still is the fact that Donald Sterling owns the franchise. Not only someone with a poor historical record from an effectiveness standpoint, but also someone not exactly famous for being a good guy, you know?

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Lakers collapse vs. Clippers: Seven minutes of... not heaven

January, 17, 2011
1/17/11
10:54
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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With 7:12 to play in Sunday's loss to Clippers at Staples, the Lakers held a reasonably comfortable seven point lead. At the final buzzer, the Clippers had a seven point win. That's a 14 point swing, really 16 because the Lakers finished the game with a Shannon Brown layup meaningless to all who didn't start him on their fantasy team.

So what went wrong? Particularly considering the Clips had scored all of two points in the quarter to that point . . . and would go on to pile up 29 the rest of the way?

Here's the play-by-play...

7:12- With six seconds left on the shot clock, the Clippers inbound along the baseline. Baron Davis shoots down from the top of the key, guarded by Brown. Kobe Bryant, who was defending the pass on the restart, helps on Baron as well. Davis makes a nice pass to Ryan Gomes -- who inbounded the ball -- in the right corner, forcing Ron Artest (guarding Randy Foye on the wing) to rotate down. Gomes makes a nice pass to Foye, who drifted back to the top of the floor behind the arc. Foye shoots over Kobe, who can't recover in time. As Ralph Lawler would say, "Bingo."

77-73, Lakers.


Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
Eric Gordon scored 30 and was red hot late Sunday when the Clippers beat the Lakers.


7:00- Brown brings the ball up the right wing, leaving it for Lamar Odom. Odom swings to Artest at the top of the key. Brown pops up to the right wing from the lane off a double screen of Odom and Pau Gasol, and Artest hits him in stride. Shannon shoots . . . in and out. No penetration on the play, but Brown did get a clean look.

6:40- Davis up the center of the floor guarded by Brown. Griffin sets a screen, which Davis uses going to his left. Odom and Shannon both go with Davis, who swings the ball back weakside to Foye, set up beyond the arc on the right wing. He shoots over a closing Artest and misses. The long rebound goes to Kobe, who smartly feeds a streaking Brown down the right wing as the Lakers push in transition. Foye foils Brown's dunk attempt, fouling him in the process.

Shannon makes both freebies. 79-73, LAL. Stay tuned.

6:20- Out of a timeout, Vinny Del Negro gets Eric Gordon back in the game. Smart move. Davis walks the ball up the center of the floor, tossing a pass to Griffin near the right elbow. Griffin drifts to his left, and leaves for Gordon coming off a screen. Gordon, near the left elbow, draws Artest and Odom, and passes back to the top of the key to Griffin, who swings left to Davis on the left wing. Baron penetrates to the lane around a Griffin screen, kicking to Foye in the right corner. Foye penetrates baseline, kicks back to Davis center court just above the arc. By now, the shot clock is running down, but the Lakers are scrambling. As Artest tries to close on Davis, he makes a nice touch pass to Gordon on the right wing.

Artest, asked to guard two players at once, tries to close but can't get there in time. Three pointer. Very good patience, very good ball movement from the Clippers. 79-76, Lakers.

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The NBA Tonight crew previews the Sunday afternoon matchup between the Lakers and Clippers.

Derek Fisher's offense proves a point about Derek Fisher's defense

December, 9, 2010
12/09/10
2:38
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Derek Fisher is a pretty serious guy, particularly when it comes to people pointing out those (generally age related) deficiencies in his game. So it wasn't surprising, after winning Wednesday's game against the Clippers with a last second drive past rookie Eric Bledsoe, he poked one of the most prominent "Fisher sucks!" criticisms with a pointy, game-winning, hero stick.

Noah Graham/Getty Images
You just can't keep Derek Fisher out of the paint.



"I've been in that situation before," he said, interjecting into his own very well-detailed breakdown of how the play developed. "Many of you have documented how easily guys get around me at the top of the floor. When you're in the middle of the floor, and a guy can go left or right regardless of what hand he is, it's a very tough spot to be in. I'm not as fast as they come, obviously, and I can get around a guy if I have the ball on the top of the floor, in the middle like that."

After every game, we get complaints about Fisher's inability to stay in front of "quick point guards," and how the quick ones consistently tie the Lakers in knots. But it's not really quick point guards who hurt the Lakers, but good ones, and most of the good ones are quick. The reason has less to do with Fisher's relative lack of agility than the team's shortcomings defending the pick and roll and in transition. (Fisher, it should be noted, is one of the team's more effective players at disrupting the opposition's break, whether by taking a charge or dropping to the right level to break up a pass.) I once asked Aaron Brooks, as quick as any player in the league, if he was quick enough to guard himself. He said no. Brooks can't guard Brooks, Rajon Rondo can't guard Rajon Rondo, and so on.

Many aren't quick enough to guard Fisher, especially off a screen, or even in the open floor, as Wednesday's final sequence demonstrated. He's not (last night's stunner notwithstanding) a quality finisher near the bucket, but the guy gets into the paint all the time. More than many fans would like. And he's almost certainly the slowest starting PG in the NBA.

The point isn't that Fisher is some all-world defender who just as strong on the ball as his strongest colleagues, just that this particular criticism is overblown. He has weaknesses defensively along with strengths, but it's as a collective where the Lakers succeed or fail keeping points off the board and Fisher's understanding of those mechanics are his greatest asset as a defender. If he were such a destructive force, there's no way the Lakers could have posted such strong defensive numbers over the last two seasons. In reality, when he hurts the team Fisher almost always does so on offense, whether with questionable attacks of the rack, the more than occasional P.U.J.I.T. (pull up jumper in transition), or what has over the course of his career been a low shooting percentage.

But he certainly makes big shots, no question. Nor is he afraid to stick up for himself, and did so Wednesday after a moment of strength and triumph, meaning he doesn't just have ice water in his veins, but an impeccable sense of timing. Maybe his inspirational speeches aren't the only reason teammates believe he could have a career in higher office?

Lakers 87, Clippers 86 - At the buzzer

December, 8, 2010
12/08/10
10:22
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The Lakers rightly ought to go on to win a bunch of games this year, but not many will be grittier than this one. They spent much of the game running through mud- playing hard, but they certainly not well, and there wasn't much energy to feed off in the arena, with the Staples crowd basically split in half between L.A.'s two squads.

But while the offense bogged down, the defense stood up, forcing critical turnovers. And when they absolutely, positively needed points, Kobe Bryant came through with two big jumpers, and Derek Fisher finished off the Clippers with- and I totally called this as the Lakers came out of the timeout- a driving layup on a play starting well beyond the three point line.

As I've always said, the Clippers have a ton of trouble defending slow point guards, right?

More to come, but here's the quick breakdown...

Three Up:

Kobe led the way in scoring with 24 on a nice nine-for-15 clip, and cranked up his game in the clutch (we've seen this movie). He had a pretty good game, but there were some other high points, too. Namely...

Shannon Brown- For the record, I believe he's now shooting 67 percent from around 40 feet and beyond after his third quarter heave with one second left cut a nine point Clippers lead down to six. But while that was a bit of a prayer (to say the least) the rest of his offensive game was hardly an accident. Brown's jumper, which had deserted him for a few games during the losing streak, was back in a big way on Wednesday. He finished four-of-four from beyond the arc en route to 16 points, but more importantly provided critical points for a Lakers team struggling to score for most of the first three quarters, notching 11 points after entering the game for Kobe with 3:22 to play in the third.

In the fourth as the Lakers rallied, Brown started distributing, assisting on two of the team's first four field goals of the fourth quarter. As he has for much of the season, after the game Brown pointed not just to a confidence in his skills, but a greater understanding of when and where he'll find his shot, and how he can create opportunities for teammates.

"It's maturing. Getting older and maturing in the offense, maturing in every part of my basketball game. Just getting better," he said. "I think [things have slowed down]. Things have slowed down a whole lot. That's one of the things I'm able to do- slow down and see what's going on out there, and be able to execute."

That Brown takes such pride in his development on the mental end of things is among the best signs this year's leap is a) not a mirage, and b) not yet at its ceiling.

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The McTen: Wobbly Win vs. Washington

December, 8, 2010
12/08/10
8:40
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers 115-108 win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday ...

1

It was the case of the lead that could just not be kept.

The Lakers led by 15 points with 9:35 remaining in the second quarter before the Wizards cut it to four with 5:50 to go, less than four minutes of game time later.

The Lakers led by 19 points with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter before the Wizards cut it to just three as the game headed into the fourth.

The Lakers led by 10 points with 4:40 remaining in the fourth before the Wizards cut it back to four with 1:20 remaining in the game.

L.A. ended up winning by seven but it felt like something they just barely eked out.

"It was a game of runs," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. "We put together a good run to finish the second period. We put together a good one at the end of the first half, but they had a run at the end of the third and made a game out of it."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0