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Lakers 117, Bulls 109: Deep dish win

Ariza_buls No word as to whether the Lakers celebrated last night's 117-109 victory over the Bulls with a pie done up Chicago style (thick crust, boatload of cheese and typically with a beer in proximity), but either way, the night served as a reminder that the Lakers, at the top of their collective game, are one deep squad.  And that entire reserve of folks were needed to help reverse the results of a messy first half.   

62 points surrendered, lowlighted by a backbreaking runner at the buzzer by John Salmons.   Too many buckets given away off transition and not enough execution on the offensive end.  But after the halftime chalk talk and refreshments had been enjoyed, it was all about erasing a 14-point deficit, often through the efforts of the less heralded Lakers. 

It's always crucial to get significant contributions from those not named "Kobe Bryant" (who hardly played "lousy," but struggled once again from the floor).  Case in point: Eighteen points from Trevor Ariza, sixteen for Lamar Odom and a Pau Gasol double-double.  But ultimately, the players most in need of a personal pick me up not only found personal salvation, but came through to lift the entire roster. 

There's been tons of chatter- including on the latest 710 ESPN Lakers Podkast- these days about the struggles endured by the Laker bench mob, a group that displayed some flickers of hope against Golden State on Tuesday but were a long way from being certified as once again "money."  Last night brought them a little closer to such lofty status.   

With nary one starter on the floor (Odom), Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton Walton sparked one mother of a rally, a 21-6 run that ultimately preserved the contest.  Farmar took the advice of Phil Jackson and played more aggressive on both sides of the ball, a mindset that amounted to thirteen points and a trio of steals.  Vujacic and Walton each chipped in five points in the final frame, the latter also setting up a pair of Laker buckets, a sign that he can in fact keep the pine boys as hoped.

In bigger picture terms, each bit of success takes the mob one step further from their recent days as a hazard to leads built.  As Farmar conceded, this hasn't been an easy period for the second unit.  Uber-bench player Ben Gordon knows these cats are anything but "average," but no doubt, they've been reduced to feeling that way.  Little by little, they're resembling again the mirror images of their old selves.

OTHER NOTES

 
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K Bros, I'm pretty sure "nary" means "not even one," as in "nary a starter was on the floor except Odom."

Just sayin'.

I had a deep dish in Chicago once and hated it. The inversion of the toppings, corn meal in the dough, etc. I'll pass. Give me a nice thin crust slice from Joe's in the Village.

Watched a little of the Detroit Miami game just so I could see someone named Bynum actually take the floor. Sounds like the Pistons might get Sheed or AI back just in time for the game against the Lakers this week.

Pac-10 teams are falling like dominoes. Their hopes are left in the hands of USC (v Michigan State) and Arizona (v Cleveland State). Looks like the Wildcats, who weren't even supposed to make the tourney, have the best chance of advancing past the first weekend. The common thread in the losses (except maybe the Washington game), soft D from the Pac-10 schools.

Will be watching and hoping the Crabs can drop one in NJ later this afternoon on NBAtv.

Why couldn't he have hocked Swatches...I buy those all the time lol.

RE: Game. Like any slump, all it really needs is the desire and the belief to bust out of it. IMO the bench mob slump wasn't really a "bench mob" slump but a Sasha-Jordan slump that just made it worst for everyone else. So it's good to see both guys arise from the ashes of mediocrity.

Meanwhile both bandwagons are smiling pretty. Aren't you jealous you didn't join? haha, jk.

GO Lakers!

GO LAKERS!


Bench Mob Awakens.


Hey all!

KBros - Any idea if Phil's going to start playing Lamar with the bench instead of Pau until Bynum comes back? Lamar seems to work so much better with them. If he hasn't mentioned it, think you two could prod him with a question or two about that? Start of the fourth looked like the bench we all know and love.

Hell, I'd almost rather put Lamar back on the bench with Ariza and start Powell and Luke. Especially with Bynum coming back relatively soon, we hope. It'd get them acclimated to the old starting and bench rotations. It could at least be experimented with.

Hey, all you Today People;

Old Laker champions were ALL better than this "team." I put team in quotes because there is no floor leader, unlike the previous Laker champions - that's just the way it is. We big-bangers have seen and know, and Today People have not. So - listen, learn, and quit the personal attacks.

Generic-

Hey. If there was more time, I think that's what he'd do. Unfortunately, given when Bynum is expected back, I don't think they can simply drop him i the starting lineup. LO will almost assuredly continue to keep that job.

BK

Otis,

Have you been drinking today? With the exception of you being right on previous championship Laker teams being better than this one for now (Hey it's hard to top Kareem-Magic and Shaq-Kobe) still it is hard when there are people like Sunny who says crap that the Lakers will lose tonight and if they do win it was a crappy win.

-KB Blitz

is it Tuesday yet?

"stupid bloody Tuesday"

GO LAKERS !!!

Hi Blitz;

I did not see Sunny's comments, just the feedback that followed.
However, Sunny seems right-on, yes? All recent wins have been crappy, and so have the losses. Sunny is angry and yearns for someone on the Laker floor to knock the crappy play out of the mentality of our team - Sunny has yet to see this strength of purpose and neither have I. My hope is that we are on a good roll during the playoffs, 'cause we can't fix a bad roll. This is a major problem, and major problems become early vacations in Cancun and Hawaii.

Kobe

Is Cleveland only hungry for the Celtics or do they want to beat the Lakers too?

If we have all our guys back will win AGAIN!

Even if the Cavs and Lakers are at full strenght as well!

See? Blowing leads isn't always a bad thing.

Kobe needs some rest. He needs to play 1 quarter only for a few games against some of these sub 500 teams.

A robust Kobe is way more important than home court advantage.

Where can you get a good deep dish in LA. There was a really good place in Berkeley, any in LA?

Hope i can get my hands on one of those $285,000 Black Mamba watches...


*Crosses fingers for next months' dollar raise in salary*

No Otis this is why you read first before thinking second.

Sunny was on live blog a few times and kept saying:

"Lakers will lose tonight. Get over it!" only to have the Lakers win that game (Houston).

Are the wins sometimes unimpressive? Of course Golden State game was. Remember though we played games in the playoffs where we played quite crappy only to win in the end (Game 1 WCF 2008).

You want your team to flourish in the playoffs not in the regular season. Ask the 2006 Detroit Pistons, 2007 Dallas Mavericks, 2005 Miami Heat and they will say it's the PLAYOFFS that matter not the regular season.

Basically the Lakers are winning despite the mediocre play. That means well (usually) since they are down in March when they will surely rebound in the next few months when it matters!

As unimpressive as some of the wins were, get over it, would rather be playing well now and do bad in the playoffs or do bad now and do fantastic in the playoffs? Most sensible Laker and NBA fans would choose the latter.

131-92,

And while I can't speak for Cleveland Cavaliers they are hungry for the Celtics just as they are for the NBA championship. Until you guys win in Cleveland I'm having the Cavaliers win in 6 or 7.

-KB Blitz

70's Laker fan, KB Blitz, Justin N and anyone else for that matter,

This Laker team is going to rise or fall in the playoffs based primarily on the leadership skills of Kobe Bryant.

I've watched and played basketball my whole life. I saw the Lakers in the 70's as a young kid, was there for every game in the 80's (the golden era i would like to call it) and continue to go to most games and basically live and die with the Lakers.

The great teams, the teams that win championships, always have chemistry and strong leadership. Kobe, perhaps the greatest individual talent I've ever seen, is obviously holding all the leadership cards for this team.

Jerry West was the leader of the 60's and early 70's teams. (Though their championship heartbreak is well documented, he got them there, knocking at the door every year.) Magic, in my opinion the greatest ever, lead Showtime like no other and has the rings to back up his greatness. Kobe was the key in the early 2000 run because he gave the Lakers a deadly one, two punch and Phil was able to coax him into team concept with great, experienced role players.

Now, it's all about Kobe. He must coax, cajole, encourage, lead and make his teammates comfortable and confident in the throws of pressure playoff basketball. He was awesome last year on our run to the finals, but did not have a great final and that was ultimately our downfall. Once again this year, he must get the most out of his teammates for us to win it all, with or without Bynum. (Hopefully with.)

I'm saying this because lately, and at many times throughout his career, Kobe seems to think he's the only player that matters on the court and it's frustrating to watch his teammates stand around and let it be all Kobe all the time. That didn't work in the finals last year, it didn't work in the finals against Detroit in 2004 and it's not gonna work this year. The Lakers can play beautiful basketball when ball is moving and everyone is touching it. Hell, Gasol is the perfect complimentary player out there, but he must be involved. If the ball gets stuck in Kobe's hands, or he gets caught up in one on one battles, we will fail in long the run. We might win games, Kobe can win them by himself, but we won't win a championship that way. I've harped on the fact the Laker's are unstoppable if he averages between 7-8 assists a game and takes less than 25 shots. I keep saying this to promote the idea of Kobe as the most dangerous damn distributor on the planet. His teammates need to touch the ball. They need to touch it often, in close games as well. If Kobe gets his teammates more involved, they will kill for him and deliver when it matters most. We do it at times, but i want us to do it all the time. It's on Kobe to always look to encourage, and reward his teammates on the floor, that will be how we win the championship. Individual scoring, one on one battles, MVP awards don't mean crap at this point. It's all about rings now, Kobe must make the commitment to play for his teammates, that will get us to the promised land.


K bros -
Come on - you know that PJ will not play Bynum at all, because he wants to prove that he can win without him. That's been the plan all along.

Where Will Amazing Happen This Year? (funny)

http://tinyurl.com/c4kfor

mikefloss i hate to say it but the day Kobe averages 8+ assists under Phil Jackson is the day he becomes a ball hog. (Not saying he could get 10+ assists from time to time but average).

Why? I keep saying but you fail to listen. Kobe's job is not Pippen anymore. He's not the guy who has to be a single playmaker. 5, 6 assists is good. NEVER 10+.

You simply watch too much other coaches systems which is much more simplistic pick and rolls. So hate the coach more since he is "lowering" Kobe's stats for the sake of the win.

And don't ever bring me crap like "I've been a Laker fan since 1950" or whenever. That line is so pathetic whenever I hear a bandwagon Laker fan say that (not saying you are but when others do). Real Laker fans should look down on those who dares use the excuse of "I've been a Laker fan since Magic/West" when justifying whatever they want to say, regardless if it is good or poor criticism.

-KB Blitz

131-92,

Lakers are currently playing without a bloke called "Andrew Bynum", and you're saying Lakers are playing with full-strength?? dude, wake up :)

The Lakers had better get their rest now, because there's going to be little time for lounging toward the end of this road trip.

It ends with 5 games in 7 days, including a pair of back to backs wrapped around the Atlanta game.

Still, I expect to go undefeated. We have to, with the Cavs on the run they're on. We need every game on this trip.

Wes

I had a deep dish in Chicago once and hated it. The inversion of the toppings, corn meal in the dough, etc. I'll pass. Give me a nice thin crust slice from Joe's in the Village.

--Lakers STH

I gotta agree with you there LSTH. I'm just not into the fried dough taste that saturates the deep-dish variety pizza. Give me a foldable thin crust pizza where the dough is both crunchy and chewy and the Italian seasonings accent the cheese and marinara sauce better than a two pounds of mixed toppings ever could.

Make it simple too. All cheese, or cheese and pepperoni.

And can I get a glass of milk with that too? And maybe a big color TV and a Ray Harryhausen film?

That's pleasure in my eyes.

Wes

"Since we were 2-0 vs the Lakers last yr .... Im sure you gave your Lakers no shot in the Finals! Am I right?"

Nope I gave them a good chance to win considering when the Lakers lost against Boston twice there was no Pau Gasol. Don't get me wrong Bynum was a good player but he isn't Pau Gasol.

And I was right last year when I predicted the Celtics would win the series against Cleveland in 7 games. Why? Because I thought Cleveland would give the Celtics fits in Cleveland. And they did and both Game 3 and 4 were ownage by the Cavaliers.

And remember, this time you don't have Posey! Sure LBJ may have been beaten again at Boston but come playoff time who will with hold Lebron in Cleveland? And make more focus "in Cleveland" where the calls will usually be more biased in favor of the home team.

The playoffs is where it matters but for now the Celtics have *not* shown to be able to defeat Bron in Cleveland. And which team has that ugly "1" that blemishes the Cleveland Cavalier's home record??

Until I see "2" and it says "Celtics" I will still say Cleveland in 6 or 7.

-KB Blitz

Bynum will come off the bench for sure in the playoffs unless there is a consistent break out effort in games from him. Really this lineup except for Trevor went deep into the playoffs last year and played really well. Trevor in the lineup means less Kobe being forced to handle SF defensively and more on SG which he had to quite a bit last playoff run.

Last year Ronny was so overwhelmed in almost every way at center. Even a Bynum in the beginning of the year were back, it would be much better than Ronny. Starting in the WCF I noticed that most of the other Lakers were faltering down and Kobe's game was still at a high level. Then come Boston and they targeted him so much and beyond Pau-Lamar the bench just wiltered. I'm hoping for a the bench to be less owned this playoffs.

Bynum going against 2nd string centers?? He should dominate against them even not at 100%.

-KB Blitz

And speaking of geographic culinary preferences...

NYC thin crust, cardboard with cheese.

Pizza Uno's, Rush St. Chicago. An entrée and dessert in every slice.

KB Blitz,

You're a funny dude. Bandwagon Laker fan? That's hilarious. I guess if I've been going to Laker games since 1971, (I was nine) I'm a bandwagon fan? What's with you KB? You the only one who can make basketball commentary on this blog? Get over yourself, it's not that deep. Let's just say we're both passionate Laker fans and leave it at that.

As far as Kobe is concerned, you don't seem to want to acknowledge the fact that Kobe doesn't have a Pippen to play with. That being the case, he has almost 2 jobs. To be a Pippen and an MJ as the situation dictates. Believe me, he believes he can handle it, I do too, he's that good. I don't think Kobe needs to get 10, but I do think if he averaged 7-8 dimes and kept it under 25 shots as a rule, we would the championship hands down.

The bigger point is that Kobe must trust and utilize his teammates more. He needs to be a leader the way Magic was a leader. Reward your teammates, play unselfish within the system, pump them up. I get the feeling he has yet to fully grasp this concept completely. It's the last step to winning it all with this team.

Hey Cupertino,

Do you understand English or you just dont know how to read ... I said Boston will win even if the Cavs and Lakers are at full strength! I didnt say the Lakers are at full strength ... Do you think I dont know Bynum is out? You think I come into a Laker blog but have not heard that Bynum is out?

Maybe your spending too much time in front of you Mac and downloading to your new ipod.

Kobe

Let me get this straight ... Cleveland will win in 6 or 7 which means they will win one in Boston! When was the last time the Cavs won in Boston ... Since your so up to date on their season series? Last time they played in Boston with beat them w/o KG ... but Cleveland can win in Boston but Boston cant win in Cleveland. At least be consistant with your analysis!

I am proud of the bench mob after being at the Philadelphia shock I am glad we got a win and some production from the bench After the first half the Lakers had it was suprising to see their true colors in the second half, they actually looked like the chamiponship contendors we all know they are. Im sure they will get back to playing their game and succeed in the playoffs.
GO LAKERS!

131-92,
Can you puh-leeze check your posts for dumb errors? It'd painful to think you're a sick homer and illiterate, because they just reinforce each other.

131-92,

It seems you're literate enough to know Cupertino is the hometown of Apple, awesome!!

If you see the ranking currently, your celts are in #2, so for Cavaliers to win against Celtics in 7 games, they need NOT win in Boston at all!!

I'd say Cavs would take down you guys in 5, why 6 or 7!!


LO is Kobe's "Pippen"

Here's the winning equation:

Pau off the bench when AB returns (he's the only one who can handle it psychologically)
+
Play all three 16 minutes a half rotating at the 4 & 5 spots
=
All three average 15 points and 10 rebounds in the playoffs
and
a ring for everyone.


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