Caught in the Web: Lakers win in Philadelphia, gear up for Boston
Where to begin?
You can start with the Lakers' 99-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, led by a showdown between Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson that reminded fans of the 2001 NBA Finals. Even if he had attended Lower Merion High school, distributed 100 tickets to friends and family and treated teammates to cheesesteaks, Philadelphia fans surely won't root for the Bryant, especially when the matchup involves Iverson, who lives and breathes the city's spirit of brashness and hard work.
As much as that matchup brought energy to an otherwise listless game, the immediate attention falls to Sunday's matchup with the Boston Celtics. For obvious reasons.
Even though we're one day away from the game, Silver Screen and Roll wishes it was being played right now. Kurt Helin of Forum Blue and Gold says in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Kamenetzky Brothers that as much as the fans will get excited for this, the teams will care more about this matchup if it happens in June.
Lakers fans have other storylines to follow beyond the heated rivalry. Bryant only needs 48 points to surpass former Lakers great and general manager Jerry West as the franchise's all-time leading scorer (25,192). Bryant will also move into 14th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson is only one win shy of tying former Coach Pat Riley for the franchise's all-time wins record (533), an accomplishment that makes Jackson unsure whether he's more identified with the Bulls or the Lakers. It's uncertain whether those milestones will be accomplished in Boston; Lakers fans surely hope that's the case.
More Lakers links (after the jump)
--Lakers center Andrew Bynum doesn't plan on holding a pity party for not making the All-Star team, a goal he had at the beginning of the season that he had hoped to reach. At times, Jackson has been critical of Bynum's play. But he struck a more optimistic outlook with reporters Friday, saying, "We think he's got a lot of room for improvement, but he's come a long way."
--It's been widely speculated that the Lakers may trade Bynum for Toronto forward Chris Bosh, but the Raptors' team President Bryan Colangelo told the Toronto Star he doesn't plan to trade Bosh. Bosh told the Globe and Mail that he doesn't want to be traded.
--The Lakers seem to want to tamper down the trade talk as well. The team's executive vice president of business operations, Jeanie Buss, wrote on her Twitter page that "I'm not listening to any Lakers trade rumors." Nonetheless, ESPN's Chad Ford says the Lakers are likely to make a trade because of the team's poor play at point guard (insider subscription required).
--Though most of the attention Friday was centered on the matchup between Bryant and Iverson, the Philadelphia Daily News' Bob Cooney writes that the Lakers won the game thanks to a defensive effort that shut down passing lanes and forced 20 turnovers. Given the team's dropoff in defense during most of the eight-game trip so far, the defensive presence was much needed.
Tweet of the day: "I want a bike with training wheels!!!" --RONARTESTCOM (Lakers forward Ron Artest)
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Philadelphia forward Andre Iguodala tries to cut off the drive of Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in the second half Friday night. Credit: Matt Slocum / Associated Press