Los Angeles Lakers: Terry Stotts

Lakers at Blazers: What to watch

October, 31, 2012
10/31/12
11:08
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
No rest for the winless. Upon wrapping up a disappointing debut against the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers hopped a plane to the great Northwest for a date with the Portland Trail Blazers. For the past decade or so, the Rose Garden has served as purple-and-gold Kryptonite. Blame it on the energy from a rabid fan base, a typically solid roster or the rain, but whatever the reason, Portland's been a tough place to score a road victory, even during championship seasons. However, the Blazers are in the midst of a post-Brandon Roy/Greg Oden/Nate McMillan facelift, and the results aren't expected by most to be immediately pretty.

Will this developmental stage equal an easier road in the Rose City and the first Lakers' win of the season? For more perspective, I conducted an IM discussion with Andrew Tonry of the True Hoop network's Portland Roundball Society. Below is the transcript:

Andy Kamenetzky: Like the Lakers, the Blazers have undergone a lot of roster changes. What's your general impression of this team?

Andrew Tonry: I hate to say it, but the forecast for the season looks a lot like the Portland weather: cold, dark and grey. The team is rebuilding. (As a Laker follower, you may forget how that works.) While there are pieces to be excited about -- rookie point guard Damian Lillard, for example -- Portland simply lacks talent. Perhaps half of their roster is true NBA-level players, and the top -- LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum -- have yet to prove themselves as guys truly capable of leading a playoff-bound squad.

AK: What are Portland's strengths and weaknesses so far?

AT: New Blazers coach Terry Stotts gets a lot of credit for Dallas' offensive schemes over the last few seasons. He's come to Portland with a plan to open things up with more movement and dynamism. The Blazers leaders -- Aldridge and Batum -- are guys who've shown the most promise on the offensive end. Defense, however, will be the sticking point. Nobody on Portland's roster is particularly known for defense, especially around the rim, where the Blazers will start J.J. Hickson, a natural power-forward, at center.

Even more than defensive deficiencies, the Blazers will be hurt by a wafer-thin bench. As I mentioned earlier, most of the guys in the second unit are players who lucked their way onto the roster because bodies were needed.

AK: As a natural forward playing center, how do you anticipate Hickson handling the matchup against Howard?

AT: I anticipate Hickson getting manhandled. I also anticipate rookie Meyers Leonard getting some minutes, and for what it's worth, he's a true 7-footer, one of the few players in the NBA with the size, strength and quickness to match Howard's. But it's too early to expect much. Leonard has a lot to learn, including how to stay out of foul trouble.

The Lakers starters haven't had much time together. How long do you expect it'll be until they become a cohesive unit? And until their potential is reached?

(Read full post)

Matt Barnes suspended by the NBA for one game

April, 1, 2011
4/01/11
7:44
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
For the second time in two weeks, the long arm of NBA law has reached out and cuffed a member of the Lakers.

Friday, it was Matt Barnes forced to the sidelines, suspended one game by the league for "escalating an on-court altercation and actions following his ejection" during the fourth quarter of Thursday's 28-point smackdown (pun semi-intended) of the Dallas Mavericks at Staples. The other members of fracas No. 1 -- Steve Blake, Brendan Haywood, and Jason Terry -- received no additional punishment. Terry, in fact, saw his flagrant foul 2 reduced to a mere flagrant foul 1, despite being the guy who started all the nonsense with his shove of Blake near the baseline.

Shannon Brown, ejected in fracas No. 2 also received no additional discipline.

In the wake of these sorts of incidents, standard practice among the media is to ask the following question as many times to as many people as possible: "So, you think he'll get a game?" My reaction, along with most people I spoke with Thursday night, was yes. The NBA rightly frowns on players who, as they put it, escalate dustups, and while he wasn't technically the third guy in as Blake and Terry were jawing with each other, Barnes was clearly "the escalator." Particularly when you consider the distance he covered reaching the scrum.

Assuming the NBA is dinging him more for that than anything happening along the sidelines with Dallas assistant Terry Stotts, it's a reasonable move. While nothing really came of the scuffle, it could have, and much of it would have been on Barnes.

As for the stuff near the Dallas bench, while it looked bad to see Stotts hit the deck, Barnes didn't do anything wrong, in large part because Stotts had no business putting his arms around him in the first place. As Barnes put it Thursday, "I was just trying to walk to our bench and someone was trying to bear-hug me. I didn't realize it was a coach until I turned around, after he was kind of off me. I definitely wouldn't want to push a coach but he was bear-hugging me right on their bench."

The unwritten rule says coaches handle their own guys, save some sort of calamity. Barnes was walking toward his bench, with an official in between him and the court. Stotts meant no harm and Barnes certainly could have handled the situation with more elegance, but if this part of the proceedings added to the ledger against Barnes, it's unfair.

Barnes did, though, take a long time leaving the court, and never stopped yapping at any point, again a no-no in the eyes of the NBA. I'm sure that weighed into things, too.

All in all, it was a fair punishment, one that shouldn't hurt the Lakers too much Friday night in Utah. The Jazz are a downtrodden bunch, while the Lakers are accustomed to operating without Barnes. More importantly, the incident started what could be a top shelf Twitter war heading into a potential second round playoff matchup.

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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