Los Angeles Lakers: Kent Bazemore
L.A. blazes a trail up north to win first game at the Moda Center:
A name change did the Lakers good. After years of frustrating losses playing at the Rose Garden in Portland, the Lakers started off 1-0 at the revamped Moda Center with a 107-106 win over the Trail Blazers last week. L.A. jumped ahead to an early 15-point lead and was able to hold on late thanks to a wonderful Wesley Johnson go-ahead alley-oop layup with 6.9 seconds left, followed by solid defense by Jodie Meeks on Damian Lillard’s last-second heave. Even more impressive was the Lakers’ 32-9 advantage in fastbreak points against the young and able Blazers.
Xavier Henry rounds into form:
Henry had become the forgotten man in the Lakers’ rotation after being sidelined since Dec. 29 with a bone bruise in his right knee, but he quietly had an encouraging comeback week for L.A. The 22-year-old played just five minutes against Portland in his debut, but followed that up by averaging 13.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 16.5 minutes against New Orleans and the Clippers.
Kent Bazemore continues to produce:
As Bazemore’s sample size of games played grows with the Lakers, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny that the Lakers found themselves a deal in the Steve Blake trade. While Blake’s toughness and steady play has been missed by the Lakers’ veterans in the locker room, the point guard was set to become a free agent this summer. Rather than potentially see him walk, L.A. traded for an asset in Bazemore while saving $4 million in salary and luxury tax implications in the process. In Bazemore’s first eight games with the Lakers the Old Dominion product is averaging 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 46.4 percent from the field and an eye-popping 43.6 percent from 3.
Lakers give up 132 points to lowly Pelicans:
The Lakers had a chance to follow up wins against Sacramento and Portland by beating New Orleans at home to secure the team’s first three-game winning streak since November. It was all set up for L.A. too, as the Pelicans came into Staples Center having lost eight straight games. Not so fast. New Orleans shot 59.7 percent from the field and got whatever it wanted on offense against L.A. as Anthony Davis (28 points), Eric Gordon (28 points) and Tyreke Evans (24 points) led the way.
Lakers suffer worst loss in franchise history against the Clippers:
Never before the in 67-year history of the Lakers had the team suffered as bad a loss as it did in Thursday’s 142-94 drubbing at the hands of the Clippers. “There’s nobody happy over there and everybody knows we’re embarrassed and everybody knows that this league does not really care that we’re embarrassed,” said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni after the game. It’s been quite a fall from grace this season for one of the league’s signature franchise. At 21-41 (.339), the Lakers are on pace to have their worst season since moving from Minneapolis, edging out the team's 1974-75 season when it went 30-52 (.366).
LOS ANGELES -- Confidence was high coming into the night for the Los Angeles Lakers. As bad as this season has been, they actually had something to smile about for the first time in forever and were hoping to keep it up with a little celebrating of their own as they hosted the New Orleans Pelicans.
L.A. was coming off its most impressive win of the season in Portland on Monday and had the chance to tie its longest win streak of the season at three as long as it took care of the struggling Pelicans who limped into Staples Center, losers of eight straight.
"They never quit trying," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said before the game, asked to reflect how his team was finally turning it around. "Sometimes things click and guys play good together at the right time and that gives you confidence.
"It's just taken awhile."
The same could be said about Tuesday night's game, a 132-125 loss.
The Lakers trailed by 12 points after the first quarter and by as many as 21 in the third before mounting a comeback. They had the deficit cut to 10 heading into the fourth and all the way down to four only a couple of minutes into the final quarter after a MarShon Brooks basket, but the Pelicans quickly doubled their lead back to eight.
The margin stayed in that range before the Lakers got five straight points from Jordan Farmar to cut it to five with 3:38 left.
The Lakers' small-ball lineup worked in spurts, giving the team a chance to score in bunches in the open court when it created stops with its activity on the other end.
The problem was, as it has often been this season, there was no consistency to their effectiveness on defense, which put a lot of pressure on their offense to perform at peak levels to have a chance.
So even though L.A. scored in the 120s, ultimately two missed 3-pointers from Kent Bazemore and Farmar in the final minutes ended up doing the Lakers in because, of course, they also allowed the Pelicans to score in the 130s.
They fought to get back into it against New Orleans, but it proved too little, too late, as the Lakers fell to 21-40.
How it happened: Pau Gasol scored the first 13 points of the game for the Lakers but was still outscored by Anthony Davis 17-15 after the opening quarter. It was an omen of what was to come, as L.A.'s offensive power just couldn't match its defensive shortcomings.
What it means: This one is sure to take some wind out of the Lakers' sails. Even though L.A. was on the second night of a back-to-back, the Pelicans were on the last day of an eight-day trip and should have been ripe for the picking.
Hits: Gasol scored a season-high 29 points on 10-for-15 shooting to go with 12 rebounds and four assists.
Farmar started the second half at shooting guard and finished with 20 points and eight assists.
Xavier Henry looked a bit like his old self in his second game back from his right knee injury, scoring 12 points in 14 minutes to go with two assists and an impressive open-floor dunk.
Bazemore tied his career high with 23 points, including 13 in the third when L.A. tried to get back in the game.
Jodie Meeks scored 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting.
Misses: L.A.'s defense allowed New Orleans to shoot 46-for-77 (59.7 percent).
The Lakers had 14 turnovers leading to 18 points for the Pelicans and were outrebounded 39-30.
Stat of the game: 24. The Pelicans had three players score 24 points or more in Tyreke Evans (24), Eric Gordon (28) and Davis (28).
Up next: The Lakers get the day off Wednesday before another back-to-back set, at home on Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers and on the road Friday against the Denver Nuggets.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Maybe the Rose Garden by any other name really isn’t still the Rose Garden when it comes to giving the Los Angeles Lakers fits.
The Lakers played for the first time in the re-named Moda Center on Monday and looked nothing like the team that routinely made the 960-mile trip up the West Coast only to get their doors blown off by the Trail Blazers, even in their good years.
This season wouldn’t classify as good, or even decent. More like dreadful. But Monday’s game was an escape from all that.
For the second straight game, the Lakers came out hitting on all cylinders on offense and all the scoring fueled their effort on defense. It wasn’t quite the season-high 126 points they scored against the Sacramento Kings or a franchise record 19 made 3-pointers. Then again, this game was against a Portland team that came into the night with the third-best record in the Western Conference, including a 23-7 home mark.
“As long as they’re fighting and as long as they’re competitive and they’re playing together and showing a good spirit, then we’ll be in most games and we’ll surprise some people,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said before his team's 107-106 victory.
Surprise, not shock. With 22 games left in the season, even D’Antoni conceded at shootaround in Portland “we’re not making the playoffs.”
But what once seemed to be a death march in store for the Lakers the rest of the way -- especially with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant’s returns this campaign looking less and less likely -- is now turning into a bit of a late rebirth for the Lakers.
How it happened: The Lakers led by as many as 15 points in the first half and took a seven-point lead into intermission by improbably controlling the boards 26-23 through the first two quarters and outscoring Portland 22-4 in fast-break points and 32-18 in points in the paint. L.A. kept its cushion for most of the third quarter before it got sloppy with the ball, leading to back-to-back 3-pointers by Dorell Wright to cut the Lakers’ lead from nine to three with 1:55 remaining.
The Lakers’ lead stood at the start of the fourth quarter. But things seemed to be slipping away when Jodie Meeks was called for a five-second violation for not inbounding the ball to Jordan Farmar in time from the sidelines. Farmar pounded the ball on the floor in frustration and had a few sharp words for Meeks for not passing it in sooner. But on the very next possession, the Lakers forced a turnover and it was Meeks and Farmar running the two-on-one break with Farmar finding Meeks for a 3 that put L.A. up by eight.
Portland got it back down to six thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge scoring two of his 21 points, but L.A. surged right back with a 5-0 run thanks to a 3-point play by Meeks and a Robert Sacre deuce, giving the Lakers an 11-point advantage.
Portland responded, cutting it back down to two after Wes Matthews stripped Farmar of the ball and passed it back down court to a wide-open Nicolas Batum for a 3 with 3:37 to go. Portland had a chance to tie it a couple minutes later, but Damian Lillard was called for a travel after dragging his pivot foot with 1:35 remaining, giving L.A. new life. Pau Gasol missed a shot, however, opening the door for Matthews to tie it up with a fadeaway jumper with 1:10 remaining.
The Blazers finally broke through on their next possession, with Lillard going 1-for-2 from the free throw line to give the Blazers their first lead since the first quarter and corralling the ball after he missed the second one, to boot. Matthews missed a shot from the corner after a Portland timeout, leading to Kent Bazemore streaking up the floor with a chance to get L.A. the lead back, but he lost it out of bounds.
At least that was the call on the floor. The referees went to the video monitor to check the replay after it was unclear if Matthews had hit the ball out of Bazemore’s hands clean or Bazemore touched it last. The call was overturned and L.A. got the ball back with 7.1 seconds left leading to an excellent play call -- Bazemore finding Wesley Johnson with a lob at the rim to give the Lakers a 107-106 edge with 6.4 seconds remaining.
Portland went to their Mr. Everything on their final possession, but Lillard was defended well by Meeks and his shot fell short at the buzzer.
What it means: The Lakers have some fight in them yet. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing for a team with a first-round pick in June’s upcoming draft.
Hits: Johnson had 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, two blocks and the game winner.
Bazemore hit a career-high four 3-pointers en route to 14 points.
That dunk Meeks had on Batum in the second quarter.
Gasol chipped in 22 points, Meeks had 21.
Farmar and Kendall Marshall combined for 16 points and 17 assists playing the point jointly.
Misses: That dunk Robin Lopez had on Robert Sacre in the second quarter.
Stat of the game: 0.7. The amount of time that went off the clock from the time Bazemore threw the ball in with 7.1 seconds left to the time Johnson put in the winning layup with 6.4 seconds remaining.
Up next: The Lakers play the second night of a back-to-back Tuesday at home against the New Orleans Pelicans. They follow that up with another back-to-back this week by hosting the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, then traveling to Denver to play the Nuggets on Friday.
Lakers catch fire from 3 in Memphis:
The Lakers were sleepwalking in Memphis for the first two quarters of their game Wednesday, falling down by 19 at the half before Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol and 3-point shooting sparked a turnaround. Farmar suggested to his teammates at halftime that they started going through Gasol in the post and having the offense flow from the inside out. Once Gasol started scoring down low (12 points in the second half), the double teams started coming his way, leading to Gasol finding wide-open teammates on the perimeter. L.A. shot 10-for-16 from deep after the change, cutting the Grizzlies’ lead all the way down to three before falling by five.
The Lakers are a part of history against the Brooklyn Nets:
The 2013-14 season will rather not be remembered by Lakers fans who can always fall back on the memories from 16 championship campaigns, but even in another forgettable loss, there was a moment that should be celebrated forever. Last Sunday, the Brooklyn Nets signed Jason Collins to a 10-day contract and when he checked into the game against the Lakers later that night, Collins became the first openly gay player to appear in a game in one of the four major professional sports in U.S. history. It was an event that will prove much more significant over time than the outcome of the game.
Xavier Henry does a stint in the D-League:
With time ticking away on the season and Xavier Henry set to become a free agent this summer, the pressure was starting to mount on the four-year vet who has been sidelined since Dec. 29 with a bone bruise in his right knee. Obviously, he did not want to return too soon and make his knee worse, but at the same time, it was paramount he get back on the court and prove that his solid start to the season for the Lakers wasn’t an aberration and that he is deserving of a new deal come July 1. With Henry, who had ramped up his workouts in recent weeks, needing a final on-court test before returning, the decision was made to have him play a game with the L.A. D-Fenders, the Lakers’ D-League affiliate, while the Lakers had the day off. The choice worked out. Henry had 15 points and four steals in 23 minutes, opening the door for his return to the varsity squad.
Nick Young’s return from knee injury is short-lived:
Young declared that it was a “miracle” that he was ready to return to the court less than three weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his left knee, as well as a bone bruise and added, “You can’t keep the swag down.” His exuberance didn’t last long, however. Young played 20 minutes against Brooklyn after sitting out six straight games and showed flashes of “Swaggy P,” particularly in being able to draw a foul on baseline fadeaway jumper as well as on a 3-point attempt, but experienced pain and swelling in the knee after scoring just 10 points against the Nets. After the game, Young admitted that he was partly motivated to rush his return because of the sudden glut of shooting guards on the Lakers roster after they acquired Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks. He went back to rehabbing the knee while the Lakers were on their two-game road trip through Indiana and Memphis.
Second half dooms the Lakers against the Pacers:
The Lakers came into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and hung around with the league-leading Pacers for the first half Tuesday, before reckless play robbed them of any chance of a victory over the final two quarters. Indiana outscored L.A. by 17 after halftime and while Bazemore’s career-high 23 points might seem like a bright spot from the game, he actually shot just 4-for-11 in the second half, prompting Gasol to go on a post-game rant criticizing the Lakers’ selfish play and lack of discipline.
His Los Angeles Lakers had already dug themselves a 19-point hole through the first two quarters to the Memphis Grizzlies -- a night after being outscored by 17 in the final two quarters at Indiana, meaning Farmar and the rest of the guys had been through a full game's worth of blowout city up to that point.
This season is not what he signed up for when he left more than $3 million on the table in Turkey this past summer to return to his hometown team.
A rash of injuries, mounting losses and a roster made up primarily of players -- himself included -- on one-year deals, had created a caustic environment.
So when Farmar went searching for some kind of savior on a cold night in Memphis, his eyes settled on the guy he knew has what it takes to be a winner: Pau Gasol.
Like Farmar, Gasol had resisted simply accepting what has happened to the once-proud Lakers franchise this season. He spoke up about it Tuesday, calling out coach Mike D'Antoni for not creating accountability in the locker room through discipline and calling out his teammates for being selfish in the way they played the game.
So, Farmar had an idea: Forget small ball. Forget pick-and-rolls. Let's go through Gasol and let the chips fall where they may.
"I suggested it at halftime," Farmar said. "He's our best player by far. He's a many-time All-Star. He's one of the best players in the NBA. We have to use him to his strengths. We can't just expect him to just play through the motions and figure it out. So, playing through him, he's a willing passer and once he starts going to work, guys start doubling, guys get open shots, open driving angles and things like that. So, I suggested it, we did it and it worked out for us for a while."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Just before the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Lakers gave the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder all they could handle for 3½ quarters before falling off at the end.
Tuesday against the best the Eastern Conference has to offer in the Indiana Pacers, L.A. could put the pressure on for only two quarters before being outclassed.
After keeping it close, trailing 57-54 at halftime, the Lakers were outscored 34-16 in the third quarter as Pacers All-Star Paul George shook off a 2-for-11 first half to score 11 of his 20 points in the period.
It was garbage time after that.
How it happened: Indiana jumped out to an early 18-6 lead before the Lakers crawled back in it thanks to Kent Bazemore (23 points) relentlessly attacking the paint. But then it seemed as if the Pacers remembered they were playing the Lakers and turned the game into a blowout.
What it means: Tuesday's game against the Pacers kicks off a very difficult stretch for the Lakers, with 17 of their final 26 games coming against teams with .500 records or better. It's not going to get any easier for the 19-38 Lakers, who have, on average, lost two out of every three games they've played this season.
Hits: Wesley Johnson had 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
Five Lakers scored in double digits.
Misses: L.A. was just 12-for-20 (60 percent) from the free throw line.
The Pacers outrebounded the Lakers 62-42.
Stat of the game: 15, 17, 23. Those are Bazemore's scoring totals in his first three games with the Lakers, setting a new career high in each game he played.
Up next: L.A. finishes off its two-game trip with the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies, who are 31-24 and lost to the Lakers at home once already this season.
But those little-known players, Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, are suddenly being played a lot and that seemingly minor deadline deal has the rest of the Lakers feeling out of whack.
"They was actually telling me to wait until it's pain-free, but I just love the game of basketball and I want to get out there as fast as I can," Young said after putting up 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting in 20 minutes.
Young undoubtedly loves to play more than most in his sport, but his decision wasn't entirely altruistic. Young's contract expires at the end of the season and there will be money to be had on the free-agent market if he proves he can still play over this final stretch to the season.
To prove it, he'll need playing time, something he feared could be dwindling with Bazemore averaging 31 minutes in his first two games with L.A., Brooks averaging 21 minutes and Xavier Henry set to return in a week from the bone bruise in his right knee.
"When you see players out there -- like when we had four point guards -- you don't want to be lost in the shuffle," Young said. "I wanted to get back."
Young wanted to be back so bad that when he was re-examined this week by Lakers physician Steve Lombardo, he did not opt for an MRI exam on his knee as a final clearance.
"I'd rather not know it," Young said. "I told Doc I was ready."
While it has been a fairytale turn of events for Bazemore and Brooks to go from nightly DNPs to averaging 16 and 10.5 points, respectively, through their first two games with the purple and gold, it has been unsettling to the glut of wing players the Lakers already had on the roster.
While nobody in L.A. was happy to see Steve Blake go at the trade deadline, the Lakers were able to save $4 million in the deal and may have found a keeper or two in Bazemore and Brooks in their trade with Golden State. After joining the Lakers for a shootaround before playing in their first game, the former Warriors combined for 18 fourth-quarter points against the Celtics, with Bazemore finishing with a career-high 15 points and Brooks scoring a season-high 14 on 7-for-11 shooting with three steals.
As bad as the Lakers have been this season, most of their struggles have come because of injuries (despite what coach Mike D'Antoni's lack of popularity in L.A. would suggest). It was no coincidence the Lakers finally ended their eight-game home losing streak with a 101-92 win over the Celtics thanks in large part to Gasol's 16 points and seven rebounds in his first game back from a right groin strain, and also the return of Meeks, who has led the team in scoring (17.5 points per game) in the two games he played since recovering from a sprained right ankle.
Lakers stay conservative at the trade deadline:
Leading up the trade deadline it seemed as if Gasol, Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman would all be on their way out of town if there were draft picks to be had and luxury-tax relief attached to the deal. Instead, the Lakers chose to stand pat after the Blake deal, setting up what is sure to be an offseason flush with activity.
Dwight Howard makes his triumphant return to Staples Center:
Lakers fans tried to take out their frustrations for the last year and a half of the franchise's struggles by chanting "Dwight Sucks!" when Howard and the Houston Rockets played at Staples Center against the Lakers for the first time since the All-Star center left L.A. in the offseason. Howard just laughed in their face, mocking the jeer by joining in himself, at the end of a night when he put up 20 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks on the way to a 134-108 win for his new team.
Another setback for Kobe Bryant:
The chances of Bryant making a return to the court sometime during the 2013-14 season are becoming slim. One day after Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said, "We're not going to push him to get back," Bryant was examined by Lakers physician Steve Lombardo and it was determined the star guard would miss at least three more weeks because of pain and swelling in his left knee before being re-evaluated. Of course at that point, Bryant would likely need another week or two of practice and conditioning before he would play in a game. If that's the case, there would be about only a dozen games left -- if that -- in the season for Bryant to return to.
According to Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, it's pretty easy to find the answer. Just look to see if the stats came in a win or a loss.
The second came in Wednesday's 134-108 loss to the Houston Rockets, a game in which L.A. had only seven players available, and whatever good that came on offense was undone by all-out embarrassing defense that led to a franchise-worst eighth straight home loss.
Even though there was some joy and excitement in Staples Center for the first time in a long time Friday as the Lakers earned their first home win since Jan. 3 and swept the season series with the rival Celtics in the process, the reality is that even with the win, L.A. (19-36) is still 14th in the Western Conference, 13½ games out of a playoff spot with only 27 games left to play.
All the Lakers have left to play for this season is determining which players out of the 12 who have expiring contracts they will want to bring back for next season and beyond.
And while it's true the Lakers' chances of getting better positioning to add one player through the draft will be helped by losing, the best way the team will have a chance to properly determine what it has in those dozen other guys is to remain competitive.
"We also want to judge players around other good players. Especially like a Kendall Marshall," D'Antoni said, noting how important it was for the team to have Pau Gasol return from a groin injury Friday so it had a proper No. 1 option to revolve around. "And Pau will give that. So, you can judge players better instead of just putting stats up on a bad team. Anybody can do that. So, let's see if we can get some wins, see if we can get some traction, see if these guys can become winners, and then you can judge them a lot easier."
"I would hope right now, we need a win," D'Antoni said when asked how much he thinks about the long-standing rivalry between the two teams. "I don't care who walks into the arena."
Just like Pitino said Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish were "not walking through that door," a championship version of the Celtics didn't come into Staples Center on Friday, nor were these Celtics being hosted by a title-contending group of Lakers, either.
Staples Center was the site of the last great moment in the rivalry's history -- Game 7 of the 2010 Finals -- but so much has changed since then that only four players combined from both rosters (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar and Rajon Rondo) were on either team that night.
"A lot of us in the locker room have never been a part of those games, but I think everybody gets it and I think everybody at different times throughout their lives have watched it in awe," first-year Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
There wasn't a championship anywhere within reach for the two teams that came into the night a combined 35 games under .500, but there were some awe-inspiring moments from a couple of new Lakers in Kent Bazemore (15 points, four assists, three rebounds) and MarShon Brooks (14 points on 7-for-11 shooting), who combined to score 18 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Lakers to a 101-92 win, their first at home in nine games and a 2-0 season sweep of the Celtics.
How it happened: The Celtics jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first half before L.A. cut it to two heading into the third quarter. Boston pushed its cushion back up to as many as 13 in the third, but L.A. came out like gangbusters in the fourth quarter, erasing the deficit and pushing its own lead all the way up to double digits at 10 points en route to the runaway win.
What it means: L.A. stopped the bleedingl, and maybe with Gasol back healthy and the returns of Nick Young and Xavier Henry potentially right around the corner, these final 27 games of the season won't be quite as ugly as the first 55.
Hits: Other than Brooks' and Bazemore's impressive debuts, L.A. was helped by its big men. Gasol had 16 points and seven rebounds, Chris Kaman had 16 points and eight boards and Jordan Hill had 10 and 12.
Misses: Wesley Johnson's hot month of February was subdued with an 0-for-4 shooting night with four fouls.
Stat of the game: 8-for-24. That's what Boston shot in the fourth quarter as L.A. held the Celtics to 18 points on 33.3 percent shooting.
Up next: L.A. hosts the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday before heading off on a two-game back-to-back on the road in Indianapolis and Memphis, Tenn.
It didn't take long for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, the newest members of the Los Angeles Lakers acquired from Golden State for Steve Blake earlier this week, to reveal how they have been molded by the Black Mamba.
"At first I was in shock," Bazemore said, recalling how Warriors general manager Bob Myers and coach Mark Jackson broke the news about the trade. "Then (Myers) said, 'Los Angeles, like, the Lakers,' and I was like, 'Oh my god! That's a dream come true.'
"Growing up, idolizing Kobe Bryant. He's probably, hands down, one of the greatest players to ever touch the basketball."
Brooks shared similar sentiments.
"I grew up a Lakers fan, a big Kobe Bryant fan, so I'm just excited to get to work," the third-year veteran out of Providence said.
Bazemore, who has been teammates with Brooks since the Warriors traded for him from Boston in January, said that Brooks has a game that is more like Bryant's.
"MarShon is reminiscent of, he used to get it in college, of the young Kobe Bryant with the fro and how he moves," said Bazemore, adding that Brooks is "one of the smoothest players around."
Brooks averaged 12.6 points per game as a rookie with the then New Jersey Nets, but has seen his scoring average dip to 5.4 points per game last year and just 2.6 points points this season in 17 combined games with Boston and Golden State.
When asked to describe his game, Brooks said: "I can score the ball, pretty much. Play make. Just make things happen, create my own shot."
While Brooks has tried to replicate Bryant's offensive skills, Bazemore has emulated Bryant's will.
"Kobe Bryant arguably has the greatest ticker in sports history as far as a guy that wants to get the job done and it's kind of contagious," said Bazemore. "I watched him growing up and you could see the fire in his eyes. When I put on the Lakers jersey tonight, hopefully I get some of those same powers going."
When asked to describe his game, Bazemore said: "Energy. Just bringing energy, whether it be on offense or defense."
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said that both Brooks and Bazemore would play anywhere from 10-25 minutes against the Boston Celtics on Friday, despite only arriving in L.A. on Thursday afternoon and going through just one brief shootaround with the team Friday morning.
"Hopefully we don't put too much in their mind to bog them down and let them just flow and play and try to make it simple for them as much as we can," D'Antoni said.
D'Antoni's easy-going, open attitude with his offensive system was already appreciated by both Bazemore and Brooks.
Said Bazemore: "It's good for guards like myself that like to get up and down and use my length and athleticism to run the wing, get in the pick-and-roll, get in the lane and finish. He's a very player-coach type of guy that likes to joke around with you, but all he asks for is just to play hard and give it your all."
Added Brooks: "I've proven I could score in this league. Just so much space on the court -- they like to play with four shooters around one big -- that's just a lot of spacing and I'm excited."
Outside of their mutual respect for Bryant, Bazemore and Brooks are also in the same boat when it comes to their murky NBA future. Both players have contracts that expire at the end of the season and are trying to find their NBA footing.
Brooks might have had that big rookie season, but he has collected a DNP-CD in nine out of the Warriors last 13 games.
"This year I haven't really had the opportunity to play at all," said Brooks. "I haven't really played meaningful minutes at all."
Bazemore might have had a 26-point game in the Las Vegas Summer League against the Lakers (leading to Lakers officials "giving him crap" for the performance on Friday, according to Bazemore), but he has averaged just 2.1 points in 105 games in the NBA.
"Obviously they're in the pros, so they got talent and we'll try to fit them in," said D'Antoni. "Each one is a little bit different. Bazemore is long and rangy and a defender and Brooks is a good offensive player. More than that, I don't know. We'll (get to) know their personalities and we'll see what they can do."