Caught in the Web: Lakers inspired by trip to the White House
Entering Tuesday's game against the Washington Wizards having lost two of their last three road games, the Lakers shared many reasons why their eight-game trip didn't get off to the best of starts.
The Riverside Press Enterprise's Jeff Eisenberg noted that "Kobe Bryant called it a malaise. Lamar Odom blamed it on cockiness. Phil Jackson attributed it to a lack of intensity." For all the reasons that contributed to the Lakers' poor start, there only seemed to be one reason why the Lakers responded with a 115-103 victory Tuesday over the Washington Wizards.
The Lakers played as if inspired after their White House visit Monday with President Obama, who honored the team's 2009 NBA championship season. In addition to giving players a chance to hobnob with the president, the ceremony was a nice way to break up the trip and stirred nostalgia for their championship season. That championship required teamwork, something Jackson also thought was key in Tuesday's victory.
The Lakers' opponents also deserve some credit for their Tuesday win. The Wizards (15-29) are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and are facing all types of drama this season. It's gotten to the point, says the Washington Post's Michael Wilbon, that fans show up at Verizon Center not to see the Wizards but whoever the Wizards are playing.
Nonetheless, Silver Screen and Roll gives the Lakers credit for at least playing inspired basketball and providing a good blueprint in team balance, with solid production by Bryant, Pau Gasol and the bench.
More Lakers links (after the jump)
-- Lakers backup guard Jordan Farmar blogs about his White House experience. The highlight? "As an animal lover, I just had to go play with the First Family’s dog Bo when I saw him near the Rose Garden."
-- Lakers forward Ron Artest felt so sick with the flu on Monday that he didn't even watch the White House ceremony on TV. It's probably just as well he didn't watch it. The Times' Mike Bresnahan reports that Artest had told teammates before the event that he'd feel left out since he wasn't part of last season's championship team.
--The Daily Herald's Mike McGraw reports that the Bulls have talked to the Lakers about trading Kirk Hinrich, likely for Adam Morrison and Sasha Vujacic, but he says nothing is imminent.
-- It's nearly two years since the Lakers acquired Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. NBA.com's Shaun Powell notes that Gasol's recent contract extension may have been surprising to some because of the current economy, but he says the deal really speaks to the chemistry between Gasol and Bryant. The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding says that chemistry beats any bond Bryant had with Odom.-- Kurt Rambis will be forever remembered for his scrappy play for the Lakers during the "Showtime" era, but he reflects with the New York Times' Howard Beck about getting drafted with the New York Knicks before getting cut in training camp.
Tweet of the Day: "Kobe's next visit with Obama might be on the court: 'We talked about it a little bit, over the summer playing a little pick-up basketball.' ... Not sure the leader of the free world has much of a chance against Kobe." -- Mike_Bresnahan (L.A. Times Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan).
-- Mark Medina
Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: The Lakers hit 58.7% of their shots Tuesday against the Wizards, one of their best shooting efforts this season. Kobe Bryant made eight of 15 during the 115-103 victory. Credit: Harry E. Walker / MCT