Live from Staples- Lakers vs. Knicks
BK here. Pardon my typos. I haven't live blogged for two games.
Lakers open with pregame montage set to Sympathy for the Devil. Nice little change of pace. Rock solid classic rock. Crowd seemed to like it, too. Then into the traditional Baba O'Reilly. All in all, it's been a big night for old school iconic bands.
Starting lineups- Kwame, Luke, Kobe, Fish, LO. Knicks- Curry, Richardson, Crawford, Collins, Randolph.
Apropos (sp?) to nothing in particular, how much fun would it be if the Knicks got Morris Peterson? Then they could have Zach Randolph, Randolph Morris, and Morris Peterson all on one squad. I bet that sort of thing never happens. Anyway,
11:00- Nice work by Kwame on Curry to avoid picking up his second foul as Curry backed him down on the post. The Knicks have fed the post on every possession thus far. With a quick foul on 54, they'll keep at it, I'm sure they'll keep at it.
9:00- Kwame gets sent to the line, but that looked like a pretty clean block from Curry on the dunk attempt. You can still tell 54 doesn't have much lift, because that's a shot that goes through if he goes up with two hands. Brown misses both FTs, and the score is still 4-4. The Lakers have done a lot of good work on the offensive glass early. If that keeps up, they'll earn a lot of cheap buckets.
7:30- Luke misses another clean look from downtown. He just can't buy a shot. He had one earlier, as well, and that one clanged, too. At least he's taking the looks when they're available. You'll know it's turned real ugly when he passes wide open jumpers (no, that's not supposed to be a reference to Cleveland).
7:00- Kobe gets to the rack for an easy deuce, then Kwame draws a charge on Curry at the other end for his second foul. Nice work there. Lakers up 10-9.
6:30- Wow. The crowd was rally buzzing after Kwame missed that layup, then got it back and put it back in. I'm sure a lot of people worried he'd miss again. But nope, he put it in. But like I said, folks were atwitter.
5:10- Timeout on the floor, Lakers up 18-9. Good start early for Kwame, with six points and four boards, but he's still not quite all there, especially on the offensive end. But nobody guards him, so it's important that he keep moving and make himself available. He did a nice job on Curry on the other end, though, and as we know, that's what he's around for. Hopefully strong work on one end will engender some confidence on the other.
Lakers KILLING NYK on the glass, 12-2.
3:39- Watching Zach Randolph move defensively must make basketball coaches cry. Turiaf in for Brown, Vlad Rad in for Walton, who heads straight to the locker room. Not sure why, yet, but keep an eye out for some news.
2:51- Timeout, Lakers. An LO TO leads to a nifty Crawford finger roll, after two consecutive defensive breakdowns (one presub, one postsub) that gave David Lee easy layups. PJ doesn't like what he's seeing, and calls the TO. 20-18 LAL.
2:31- LO picks up his second personal, but there's nobody to put on the floor for him, really. He'll just have to be careful. On the next possession, Vlad feeds Ronny down low with a terrible, and I mean terrible, pass, which forces Turiaf to go down to get the ball, and probably costs LA a chance at a bucket.
Sasha in for LO. Lakers go real small.
END OF THE FIRST: Knicks up 29-28. Lakers are controlling the boards, but bombing too much from downtown. 2-10. On the one hand, if those start to fall, they're in business. On the other, when they don't, they're making life easier for the Knicks. They've hurt LA in transition a few times. Four TO's isn't outrageous, but cleaning that up will help, too. Neither team has really taken any sort of control of this one.
AK will have the second.
Hey all. Just got word on Luke Walton. He's got a hip pointer and won't return. While I realize Walton's play of late will likely make some of y'all cheer upon this announcement, this ain't a good thing. Aside from the obvious "most reasonable Laker fans won't ever wish injury upon their own," it leaves them even thinner up front, especially with Kwame and Vlad still rounding to form, Ronny battling a toe issue and Mihm not back yet.
11:15 - While it was nice to see Sasha debate going up to block Eddy Curry's dunk, it was probably wise that he quickly decided to let the big man have it. That could have left Sasha flatter than Debra Messing.
9:20 -Instead, Sasha sticks with what he does best (and not just according to reputation): Hit three pointers. Gotta say, as someone whose spent almost all of Vujacic's career doubting his ability to play at this level, the dude's cobbling together a considerably better season. He's starting to play under much more control and, like he's paid to do, actually sink some baskets. Only 2-5 now, but he's generally been better. If anyone needed (and has worked hard) for a year like this, it would be Slovenia's Favorite Son.
8:45 - Vlad follows suit with a three ball of his own, also his second of the game. Man, it would be huge not only for himself, but for his squad, if the Former Cat Stevens could pick things uyp. He wasn't playing great before the ankle sprain and without the glut of injuries, might have played his way out of the rotation. But they could use some contributions in a big way.
7:18 - Kwame gets raked in the face by Jeffries going up to the hoop, missing the two handed dunk. He misses both chances at the stripe, but earns a small "MVP" chant from a few yahoos in the crowd. The NBA: Where good natured ribbing happens.
7:07 - But that ain't half as bad as the shot Sasha just took in the punin from Renaldo Balkman. Dude leveled Vujacic, who actually ain't afraif to scrap. On the next play, Vjacic fouls Balkman and the two get a little chesty as Balkman heads to the line, receiving the most boos he's heard since draft day 2005.
6:35 - The good: Kwame draws Curry's fourth foul of the half. The bad: He misses a gimme made no tougher by the ensuing foul. But he sinks both freebies, eliciting a huge round of applause from the crowd, who seem to be somewhat amused by Kwame's topsy-turvy, but actually fairly good outing.
By the way, if anyone needed further evidence that Curry is just an atrocious defender (and one doesn't, but for the sake of arguement), seriously, who the hell bites on a Kwame Brown headfake? We're talking about a guy who spends half the game unguarded.
4:29 - Stop! Mbenga time!
2:30 - Two consecutive possessions where Kobe does a fantastic job organizing the offense. First, he motions to the right spot for the Critter to head, then pops the ball back to a cutting Ronny, who connects from just inside the arc. On the next play (after Mbenga does a nice job challenging Q on a point blank shot, then the putback attempt), Kobe recieves the loose ball, busts a couple quick gallops, then skips the ball crosscourt to Fish for the 20 footer. Good stuff from Bryant, who's already sitting on six dimes and could have easily had about nine by now, were it not for a few misses.
1:38 - Great job by Ronny of connecting on an alley-ish oop. I say "ish" because Farmar's pass was both short and too far right, forcing Ronny to stretch and recover before throwing down.
38.5 - Mbenga does a seamless job covering for Kwame, in that neither can hit a layup.
HALFTIME- 61-58 Knicks. Not a good performance from the Lakers, especially defensively. In the second quarter, they started moving the ball a little better, and knocked down some shots, but they've had some really inopportune tunrovers, which have hurt. But mostly, they've put up very little resistence on the defensive end. The Knicks are getting clean looks outside, they're getting penetration inside, they're doing well in transition. If the Lakers can tighten up, they'll be fine. But they'll need to avoid foul trouble, adn keep guys healthy. With Walton's injury, they're short one more dude.
More to come.
Vlad Rad starts on the floor in place of Walton.
Both teams off to slow starts in the quarter, not all that shocking given how ludicrous the pace was early. Although as I say that, the Knicks convert on two straight trips. 65-60 NY.
9:34- Kobe gets T'd up for saying a magic word that refs (or television censors) don't like to hear. I believe, loosely translated, that Kobe wanted a foul on that last drive to the hole.
8:06- Kobe picks up his third foul. The pace of the game, though, has slowed down considerably. Unfortunately, the ball movement for the Lakers has died along with it, and they're having trouble generating good looks on the offensive end. But to see nine points on the board almost halfway through the quarter in what was a hyper game seems a little weird.
Fish hits a three, and the Lakers cut the deficit to 69-65.
5:59- Timeout, Lakers, down by 3. 71-68. This game has come to a screeching, grinding halt. On the one hand, they've tightened up a little on defense. On the other, they've stopped moving on offense. Lots of jump shooting, not much initiation of the O.
Great play by Kwame off the Kobe missed FT after the TO (it's like I'm texting) to keep the possession alive, tipping the ball to Ronny. It pays off with a made bucket for Fish. This is easily the strongest game he's played in a while.
3:19- Crawford hits a triple to give the Knicks a five point lead, but Sasha (just in for Kwame) gives the Lakers those points back with a three of his own. Nate Robinson then takes them back for NY with his own three. Fish comes back with a long jumper, which was about a foot away from a three. Good thing, two, because after "bomb" I was out of synonyms for three point shots.
Knicks get the ball inside, Richardson gets the layup. Timeout on the floor, Knicks up by 5.
1:21- Kobe's having an unusually tough time hitting his FTs. Odd. Let's see if LO can do any better, after doing a nice job on the glass to give the Lakers a second opportunity to go to the hole.
Sort of. He makes one of two, but the lakers get the ball back. Farmar does some more good work on the boards, tipping the long Kobe rebound to Ronny, who earns a couple FTs. Lakers down by two, 85-83.
END OF THE THIRD- Lakers down 87-85. The pace of play slowed down, at least for a little while, and LO started to get a little more active at the end of the quarter. He's sitting on 12/10, and has a chance to leave the game with a nice number on the board. It's been a pretty quiet double double, but there's some production in there. The balance offensively has been great. Kobe hasn't done much, but the Lakers are sitting on 85 points through three. Already five guys in double figures, with the chance for at least a couple more to get there, too.
But again, they need to get some stops. AK with the fourth.
11:09 - More of the same. Ronny hits a pair of free throws, putting the Lakers within two. But before I can even compliment this nice happenstance, Lil' Nate pops a three ball into the net and widens the Knicks advantage. To paraphrase Paul Abdul, two steps forward, six steps back.
9:34 - I don't know if it'll ends up part of a winning effort, but man alive, was that dunk by Kobe ridiculously sweet. Great feed from LO.
8:46 - Sasha connects from behind the arc, but as has been the case, it's the back end of a traded trey ball (this time from his nemesis Balkman). These buckets have to come on the heels of a stop or else it's all just the makings of a faulty shootout.
7:35 - Another threebie from NY's wee one. This shrimp is seriously en fuego right now. Twenty seconds later, LO goes to the line and Kwame checks in for Ronny.
6:52 -0utstanding play by Kobe. Balkman ends up in the post with Farmar guarding him, a serious New York mismatch. Balkman puts up the shot, and Kobe streaks into the action for the weakside block. The crowd is undertandably gaga.
6:36 - Liliputian Nate takes exception to Sasha wrapping him to prevent a layup, and gets all up in his grill telling him. RObinson requires considerably more effort to be restrained by teammates and he's eventually T'd up. If I'm Sasha, I'd look to bait him. The 5 footer is a serious hothead and not hard to rankle. A second T would get him tossed. And the Lakers could use him taking an early shower.
5:29 - Not that Kwame shouldn't manage to block a shot from Midget Nate, but I'll still take the swat. By the way, has anybody noticed how hard I'm working to avoid recycling the same "small" adjectives? I hope y'all appreciate the labor.
4:31 - Curry checks back in. What's the over/under on how quickly he picks up that 6th? One nano sec? Four?
2:52 - For a second, I'm worried Sasha's dash to the hole will turn into another indecisive pass out of the paint (as well as he's played of late, that's still a habit), but he ends up shuttling it to a nearby LO for the dunk.
2:30 - Very strong board by Kwame between Zach and Curry.
1:14 - Kobe works a few dribbles against Q's solid D (dude's actually made Kobe work for a few this game), then dishes to Sasha, who converts from behind the arc, his fifth three-ball of the game. Also the 11th dime for Kobe, who's two boards short of a trip-dub.
Kwame winds down the game by snagging his 11th board (a miss from Tiny Nate Robinson), securing a game already in hand. Lakers 120, Knicks 109. To say the least, this one wasn't always pretty (especially on the lockdown front), but the Lake Show got the job done in the fourth quarter. They put up 35, held NY to 22, and got the important rebounds down the stretch. They needed this one heading out on the great wide open, so we'll take it. Thanks for dropping by. More to come later.