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Lakers' Kobe Bryant & Pau Gasol carry team to 115-105 victory over New York Knicks

Kobe

The Madison Square Garden crowd is used to Lakers guard Kobe Bryant providing theatrics.

There was the arena-record 61-point performance last season, the 39-point effort nearly two years ago and the 40-plus-point outputs on two occasions four (score) and seven years ago. He provided nothing like that Friday, but he still led the Lakers to a fourth-quarter rally along with Pau Gasol that resulted in a 115-105 victory over the New York Knicks. 

Bryant and Gasol combined for 23 of the team's 31 fourth-quarter points and outscored the Knicks in the final quarter by three points. Though the team presented a balanced supporting cast -- all five starters scored in double figures, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown combined for 20 points and Lamar Odom had a team-high 14 rebounds -- it was Bryant and Gasol who made the difference.

Sure, Byant and Gasol also had their issues. Bryant's 27 points came on eight-for-24 shooting, and his fractured right index finger appeared to worsen, specifically with 9:53 left in the third quarter where what appeared to be a fastbreak dunk morphed into an awkward layup that drew boos from the MSG crowd. Gasol allowed New York's David Lee to beat him for a layup in the fourth quarter, he yielded 16-first half points to Lee and he was partly responsible for the Knicks' grabbing eight offensive rebounds in the first half. 

But Bryant and Gasol still overcame their lapses. Bryant's six assists illustrated his willingness to distribute the ball -- a necessity given that Bryant refuses to sit out and the team refuses to force him to rest. Though more shots may create more discomfort in his finger because of contact, more distribution will create more team balance and show Bryant's on-court presence alone is invaluable.

Meanwhile, Gasol's 20 points on seven-for-10 shooting, eight rebounds and four blocked shots are a far improvement from Thursday's effort against Cleveland. There he scored 13 points, shot five for 14 and then missed two field-goal attempts and two free throws in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter on Friday, however, he didn't play soft, a buzz word that reemerged after Thursday's loss. Instead he scored 10 points and showed some bravado, including pounding his chest after being fouled on a layup. 

There were a few plays in the fourth quarter that illustrated the danger Bryant and Gasol present on the court. 

An entry pass from Odom to Gasol left Knicks forward Jared Jeffries conflicted. While Knicks forward Wilson Chandler guarded Gasol in the post, Jeffries spaced evenly between Gasol and Bryant on the right block in case a double team was needed. But Jeffries jumped toward Bryant so he wouldn't have an open three-pointer, leaving Gasol with an easy one-on-one bucket against Chandler. On a play minutes later, Jeffries committed to Gasol on the double team, leaving Bryant uncontested from downtown, a shot that gave the Lakers a 104-93 advantage with 4:31 remaining.

The chemistry between Bryant and Gasol isn't anything new. That's why the Lakers yearned for Gasol's hamstrings to heal as fast as they could. But on a night that wasn't exactly the Lakers' best basketball against an inferior frontline, the Lakers came up with a win by resorting to a combination that has mostly worked all season. 

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo:Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives past Knicks guard Larry Hughes in the third quarter Friday night. Credit: Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press.

 
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ok, mea culpa. I've been working like a mofo riot this week, no time for the team, and no time for the love, Dr Jones.

Here's a couple from the old crank file to keep y'all stimulated;

To the tune of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ by the Tokens.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LBmUwi6mEo


We Get Some Tacos Tonight
(A Block the shot, a swat the ball, a prowl the lane, a clean the glass)
(A Block the shot, a swat the ball, a prowl the lane, a clean the glass)

We get Tacos, we get some Tacos
Mbenga plays tonight
We get tacos, we get some Tacos
DJ’s in tonight

(A Block the shot, a swat the ball, a prowl the lane, a clean the glass)
(A Block the shot, a swat the ball, a prowl the lane, a clean the glass)

Ask his man, his quiet target,
Mbenga plays tonight
Ask the guy, the cowed center
DJ’s in tonight

(A Block the shot, a swat the ball, a prowl the lane, a clean the glass)
(A Block the shot, a swat the ball, a prowl the lane, a clean the glass)

whoops, post script;

Near the basket, don’t come near the basket
Mbenga plays tonight
Don’t bring that stuff, that weakling stuff
DJ’s in tonight.

(A Block the shot, a swat the ball, a prowl the lane, a clean the glass)
(A Block the shot, a swat the ball, a prowl the lane, a clean the glass)

also, this oldy but goodie;

another 'weird al phred' song pastiche.

This is a little number I did to the tune of The Strangler’s “Golden Brown”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7R7q1lSZfs

Shannon Brown

Shannon Brown, isn’t he fun
Steals the ball, down the court he runs
Jumps up so high
Floats through the sky
Never a frown on Shannon brown

Every time just like the last
Down the court looks for the pass
Though with both hands
Cheers in the stands
Folks in this town love Shannon brown

Shannon Brown, like UPS
In the dunk contest he’ll be the best.
He’s come to play
Get out of the way
He’s throwin down is Shannon Brown
He’s throwin down
That’s Shannon Brown
Never a frown
That’s Shannon Brown

Fire and Miss (the Sasha Song)

Sing along to the tune of “Fire and Rain,” by James Taylor

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T35WXFOmwI

It was a few weeks ago when we all heard the news
The Slovenian team had taken an axe to you
I got up this morning and I wrote down this song
I just hope I get it posted before we cut you too

I’ve seen you shoot and I’ve seen you miss
I’ve seen you take shots that I know’ll never go in
I’ve seen enough bricks to build a Holiday Inn,
But you always think that you’ll make it this time

Won’t you just calm down bit, Sasha
You have just got to take your time
I just wish you wouldn’t make it so very hard
Defend without the other team going to the line
So we get some bench time for our two guard

I’ve seen you shoot and I’ve seen you miss
I’ve seen you take shots that I know’ll never go in
I’ve seen enough bricks to build a Holiday Inn,
But you always think that you’ll make it this time

We may have paid you too much cause you had a decent season
We know there’s better guys making half of what you earn
And can’t believe it but we have to hope that Mitch might have had a reason
I guess about machine repair there’s a lot we've got to learn
I’ve seen you shoot and I’ve seen you miss

I’ve seen you take shots that I know’ll never go in
I’ve seen enough bricks to build a Holiday Inn,
But you always think you’ll make it, for sure this time
I know you think you’ll make it for sure this time
You’ve got just a few minutes to turn it around now
So you’ll shoot it, you’ll shoot it and you’ll miss, now, Sasha

DO NOT WORRY, SASHA, IT IS STILL ALL ABOUT THE LOVE

GO LAKERS!

and a good personal favorite of mine, a frequent request at my concerts...*ahem* my concerts in my head! (no, just kidding. I have no head, i mean, delusions about concerts. right. Just open the link and read along, ok?!)

“What you need to win”

Sing along to the tune of ‘Just a Friend,’ by Biz Markie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPyd7qFTsT8

Kobe; you, you got what you need, what you say you need to win
What say you need to win,
Kobe; you, you got pau gasol, the guy with really good hands,
The guy with really good court vision
Kobe; you, you got Lamar Odom, the guy who can do it all,
The man doesn’t even need the ball
Kobe you, you got Drew Bynum, the guy’s only twenty two,
The guy’s a dunking foo

Let me remind how it was back in 2008
We wanted to win and we didn’t want to wait
Let me tell you the story of the situation
How Laker fans were giddy with anticipation
I guess it really started back in oh oh seven
The wolves had a gm and his name was Kevin
I guess you could imply it was a little strange
How he was still close to his friend Danny Ainge
Kobe was already not thrilled with general manager Mitch
He was even on some video, really pitching him a complaint
There was no full glass, there wasn’t rah rah rah
So when KG cranked Boston up past eleven
It wasn’t just Ron Artest who hit the fan
It was worse than the movie ‘Lucky Number Slevin’
Kobe wanted Kidd, he wanted Jermaine Oneal
If you look at Smush and Kwame, you kinda see the appeal
If they’d asked ‘Are you happy?’ Kobe’s decision had been made
“I wanna go to Chi town; can you swing a trade?’
Come on, what could they give up for you?
This is what Jerry Buss is gonna say;


Kobe; You, you got what you need, what you say you need to win,
What you say you need to win
Kobe; You, you got Four Tenths DFish, when the ball you have to dish,
With clutch threes he makes a ‘swish’
Kobe; you, you got Ron Artest, the man does it all with zest,
At tight D he is the best
Kobe you, you got Luke Walton, the man has intangible tools
The man makes people obsess like fools,

This is what it was like at the start of the season
Kobe wasn’t thrilled and the fans could see the reason
But this is just when things started to change
It was like the Big Man did some things to rearrange
When selling eye-cancer you won’t get too many takers
But because of his daughter’s tragedy Fish came home to the Lakers
Then when the team started ballin, it was kinda shocking
The Beast burst out of the little kid with the stockings
Mamba could pass to Fish or Lamar could take it down
Hand the ball the Bynum and he’d take your ass to town
Everything was working so dandy and sweet
Then a knee jerk injury knocked us all on our seat
What the hell was gonna happen, was this setback gonna shelve us?
The answer was walkin in Memphis like that song about Elvis
Did Mitch throw some panic, did Kupchak show some fear?
Nah, he’d been plotting with the grizzlies GM for a year
It seems the Grizz owner had some bills that needed salves
Mitch said “who do want; An expiring contract with great calves?’
We’ll take a Gasol and give you one back, and even throw Javaris in
Let’s do this


Kobe; You, you got what you need; what you say you need to win,
What you say you need to win.
Kobe you, you got what you need, you got you Shannon Brown,
Youtube is his playground,
Kobe; you, you got what you need, you got some other guys,
You got some other guys
Kobe, you, you got what you need, what you say you need to win,
What you say you need to win

So was that it, were we done through dealin?
Just sit back and wait to see how Bynum was healin?
One would almost think Mitch knew what he was doin,
Still have Cook to move, let’s get another former Bruin
The rest of the year was almost sublime
Then Boston, they treated us like we were doin’ time
We weren’t done mixin, what can I say?
Drew getting hurt was becoming a cliche
We made one more trade, for Ammo and Brown
Then like House of Pain said, we came to get down
Then what happened? Don’t you know, son?
We went and took it all, Baby WE WON
So that’s it, we’re at the top we can’t get better?
Oh, snap! Guess what we did?
Oh no we didn’t, they’re havin cardiac arrest
We just went and picked up, guess who? Ron Artest
So please listen good, take this lesson to your chest
The Lakers aren’t just good, the Lakers are the best.


OK! THE LOVE HAS BEEN THE THE VAULTS AND THE LOVE IS CRANKING OUT THE TOP FORTY!

REMEMBER TO KEEP YOUR FEET ON THE GROUND AND KEEP REACHING FOR THE STARS!

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE LOVE

GO LAKERS!

"But Bryant and Gasol still overcame their lapses. Bryant's six assists illustrated his willingness to distribute the ball -- a necessity given that Bryant refuses to sit out and the team refuses to force him to rest. Though more shots may create more discomfort in his finger because of contact, more distribution will create more team balance and show Bryant's on-court presence alone is invaluable"


Aye, and there's the rub.

Great summation of the situation, FCM. Couldn't have been said better.


I love the media gushing over Kobe's "13 in the fourth quarter". Yeah, 13 in the fourth on 3-10 shooting. When your teammates are shooting close to 60% and you're only shooting 30%, don't you think it would be a good idea to stop trying to double everyone else's shot attempts?

Great posts phred :) wish you to not let too much work doing you mood harm :)

I just wanna post my happiness about the win.

I am just RIGHT NOW leaving to Florence for a great weekend and I wanna thank my Lakers to allow me quietness and joy for this two days.
I wouldn't have enjoyed any weekend if we would have lost cos then I would have been checked into jail for KILLING all my mates who followed the game along me and my bf, cheering for the KNicks (due to our homie boy Danilo Gallinari).

Seriously.

I missed the chat, but I couldn't be there. I had to check them all and menace them all for any shout out at our "probable" in their words loss.

No way.

We might have troubles going on but KNicks have the worst defense I have ever seen in my life (in a decent team). They just don't play it.

We haven't played any most of the game as well, sadly.

But I don't care.

I needed badly us to win and I got it.

Now I can pray for two days for Kobe to heal as fast as possible, and focuse on the fact this Sunday I am in San Siro for Milan Inter match and then, no sleep nor gap left almost, I will straight up turn on with you all to follow LakerLand against the Raptors.

More Italy vs Lakers match up. And Raptors are more concerning than Knicks.

Wish you all a great great weekend.

Much love (I will read all through iPhone... maybe posting as well... among some Uffizi's check ;))

Later fam :)

PS: MM, can you come to know what Kobe might have said to Danilo in italian? You can't really imagine how I would adore that :))

zaira- there will be no mood harm here. between the italio-laker- support network and the karmic benefits of being a child care counselor, i'm sending pro laker karma in flat out bursts across lakerdom. TAKE COVER ORANGE COUNTY!

anyhoo. thanks for the support. no, i'm happy to be back at work, even happier to be working part time after this week so I can stay home on the oh so important game nights.

A positive spin on this game?

*sobs into keyboard*

kensey

It wasn't pretty but a win is a win.
How about this line up, Shannon, Farmar, Kobe, Gasol and pick any-Bynum, LO, RonRon depending on the team and situation. Lots of sub possibilities with that line up, anyone could be subbed for Shannon and Farmar and Kobe can slide over to the guard position.
Why oh why does our broken fingered sore back guy keep on shooting so much?
I know he cant help it, he has a bigger ego than all of LA and he will shoot as much as he wants and he wont take any time off. But ya know, thats what the head coach is for. PJ needs to manage him or just bench him like he does Farmar and the others when they blink wrong. C'mon Phil, show Kobe some shooting stats, show him the %'s of Gasol/Bynum vs his own. Geesh.
Play the game inside first then out Kobe.
Remember how you won 3 rings with Shaq.

OK, phred, I hereby designate you the poet laureate of the Lakers Blog. Nice work. But,dude, you've got waaay too much time on your hands. One word of warning though from one who's been published and been on the poetry reading circuit: obsessing with writing will send you to the Poe House...but, hey, it could be verse.

"We might have troubles going on but KNicks have the worst defense I have ever seen in my life (in a decent team). "
- Zaira

Z Lady, that has been the fatal flaw of all of Mike D'Antoni's teams. Quick, sharp offense, but loose, lousy D. The Suns were Exhibit A. Lucky for us, though. We're not firing on all cylinders yet, so we we're fortunate to get the Knicks right after the beating we took from the Cavs (and sorry, my fave Euro babe, but your hated LeBronze really played great, as did all the Cavs, including The Big Shaqulus). Still, I like our chances by playoff time. Nobody understands it like Phil. He KNOWS he has all the pieces he needs to custom assemble for each team and each situation he's going to face. All the impassioned trade yapping by our fellow blog-bros is irrelevant. Phil likes what he's got (including Bynum, Farmar, Luke, yeah, and even Sasha). So you can sleep easily on the train home from Milan, because he's going to get ring #11 in June.

P.S. Ever had the bellini at Harry's Bar in Venice?

For my money, the best performance from ast night's Haiti concert has to be the ubercheesy "I'll Stand by You" by Shakira. That woman is very, very hot. And for a moment there...is it me, or was she singing to...me?


http://www.youtube.com/user/wesjoenixon#p/a/f/1/hO8f8_OHhpE


Wes

Phred,

You are in rare form tonight! Man, when is your next concert?

Good win. Good music. Good company. What else does a fan need?

Zaira,

Enjoy your weekend. Glad you didn't have to spend any time in jail for murder. That is always a good thing.

--FEARless

Here's what the emperor's clothes looked like last night:

With Ron Artest instead of Trevor Ariza
the Lakers look older, slower, more hesitant..

when they look for another gear, it's just not there.

Here's what the emperor's clothes looked like last night:

With Ron Artest instead of Trevor Ariza
the Lakers look older, slower, more hesitant..

when they look for another gear, it's just not there.

Posted by: stilldon'tcare | January 23, 2010 at 07:51 AM

I agree with you... they'll be fine. I still don't care either.

hahhaha!

I love the media gushing over Kobe's "13 in the fourth quarter". Yeah, 13 in the fourth on 3-10 shooting. When your teammates are shooting close to 60% and you're only shooting 30%, don't you think it would be a good idea to stop trying to double everyone else's shot attempts?

Posted by: LA Guy | January 23, 2010 at 12:02 AM

It took you this long to figure things out? Jeez, are you slow?

LA Guy - I wouldn't say that I was necessarily "gushing" over Kobe's 13 points in the fourth quarter. I mention he and Gasol helped lead the charge in the fourth quarter and that the team had balance, but I also point out all aspects. I say his shooting continued to suffer, but he was better than in say Thursday's game against Cleveland because he distributed the ball more.

I think the difference in this team and last year's team is just a degree of hunger. That's it. I mean, maybe they're a bit slower on defense, and maybe they could use a wildcat like Ariza to run around and tire guys out by default, but how do you have the same hunger when you've eaten the King's buffet for 6 months?


I'd say in one out of three games this year they've kept a sustained aggressiveness thru an entire game. Again, maybe that's age showing, but I think it's more the championship blues than anything else. I just see too many other teams more ravinous than us, and doing a lot more diving/running/jumping for rebounds.


But, we do have the league's best record and I really believe we will return home with that record intact. We're smart enough to keep this lead from evaporating on this trip. But we also need our coaching staff to step up and use this team's biggest asset--it's versatility--to solve matchup problems. If we cant pound it inside against Shaq, what is plan B? I hope it's not to just abandon the paint. What about extra passes and maybe a midrange game? We've got to get the Gasol/Bynum passing lanes open for business if we plan on going anywhere this spring.


And thus my next point: I'd keep my eye on Kirk Heinrich if I were myself. I think the combination of Laker expiring deals, our long term PG issues and our need for someone to run the show and play defense at the PG position may lead to showdown at the poker table between Dr. Buss and his money.


And I think the good doctor wins that duel.


Wes

PHRED ROCKS !!

And, I love the Faith that PJ can overcome our seemingly being a poorer team than Cleveland.

GOOOooOOOO LAKERS !!!

@phred, OK, normally I'm philosophically opposed to any comment on here more than 30 lines long. Not only do they tend to be self-promoting, but even worse, most seem to suffer from an appalling lack of humor. However phred, that was pretty funny.
"Phred, you wrote what we ne-eeed"

Would we be better off with Marc Gasol rather than Drew?

That's a question a fan asked Brad Turner. The answer to that question is not so clear as it would seem. As Brad Turner mentioned, Drew has more upside and is probably a more skilled player than Marc.

But I think Marc would better complement Pau on the floor than Drew at this point. I've long believed that Pau would be best served if he had a tough, physical C/PF playing next to him in the frontcourt because he's essentially a finesse player...and despite what some would argue, so is Drew.

The problem we have now is that both Pau and Drew want to be the primary low post options. For either to be effective, he needs the other to play the high post. I can't see Pau living on the high post and deferring to Drew, and Drew wouldn't be comfortable on the high post. What made Duncan and Robinson so effective is that Robinson willingly deferred to Duncan and became more of a high post threat in his later years.

Perhaps the practical solution would be to bring Drew off of the bench, where he can flourish with the subs and become more of primary option on offense. Having a good passer like Luke on the floor with him would also help.

Good Morning Charles...Good Morning Everyone...

another game we decided not to play defense until we thought we needed it, seemingly...finally pulling away just when we absolutely needed to, as it were...

besides Bynum's apparent lazy team defense, Lamar's lack of any kind of quickness or commitment to sliding over and helping on team defense was absolutely glaring to me last night--is he just extremely lazy or just lacking in basketball vision or brain power...

when Lamar is active (on both offense and defense) we are extremely hard to beat---it's the same old consistency / lack of fire thing we have all been saying since he got here...

and now with no trade rumour / threat his play is much too lackadazzy...hopefully he brings it in the playoffs...

it seems the Lakers with all their resources could bring in some defense specialist to coach Bynum, Lamar and whoever in playing defense and team defense...

Bynum had a great offensive coach in Kareem, how about now bring in someone to raise his defense to where his offense is? If Bynum can ever become a complete basket ball player the Lakers will dominate for the next ten years easily...

I thought Pau stepped up his defense at the end (finally) and played an overall decent game, far below his usual standards however...

Hubie Brown was a welcome change and I thought his observations (as usual) were quite good---especially his expression of incredubility (is that a word?) over the Lakers lack of getting the ball inside and easily dominating and destroying an under sized opponent...is there some league mandate that prohibits the Lakers from doing this?

not to mention the pick and roll---again, if we actually ran that with any kind of regularity (even once a game would be a welcome sight for these eyes) we would literally score 150 points a game...guess it's just not fair to the other teams and Phil wants to just toy with opponents (and us)rather than ripping their heart out once and for all...

like to see Shannon (with Farmar) play more--it seems Phil has this secret line up weapon he unleashes sparingly---maybe not wanting to show his hand (?)...Phil will keep the opposition guessing right up until we eliminate them from the playoffs...

"the world's a birthday cake, take a piece, but not too much"

"actually I'm a gynocologist and this is my lunch hour"

AS ALWAYS, AS EVER, YET ANOTHER GREAT DAY (AND CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON) TO BE A LAKER FAN !!!

GO LAKERS !!!

KOBE'S FINGER, AND UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES TO RON ARTEST...

Two very important disclaimers for starters.
1. I have a bias for Kobe. I love his game, his mentality, and his overall approach to the game.
2. I have no particular bias for or against Ron Artest. I shake my head and frown at some of the things he has done. I also nod my head respectfully at other things he has done. He is who he is ~ like all the other players in the NBA.

So, my defense of Artest at this moment (at *GULP* Kobe's expense) is credible. No ax to grind. No personal man-love of Artest to bias or sway me (*wink towards LakerTom).

Although reported quietly, and infrequently, Artest is suffering from plantar faciaitis in his right foot. If you have never experienced this problem or do not know what it is, here is the simple version. It is a pain that feels like half-bruise, half-sprain in the bottom of your foot every time you attempt to take a step. The pain is not just unavoidable, but weakens ones ability to jump and run. It lowers ones verticle and slows ones lateral.

Kobe's finger issues are revealed by evidence obvious to even the casual observer. Direct effects on his dribbling and shooting where all eyes are typically focused (on the ball).

Anyone with experience as an official knows what I mean by "off the ball" action. Ron's struggles are off the ball. Not the stuff of typical focus during game action. But, if you pay attention and compare today's Ron to the Ron back in November, you will notice a BIG difference in his verticle leap and lateral quickness.

The konk on his head on Christmas day made him a little goofey (even by Ron's standards!) for a few days. But his present funk is NOT due to that. It is clearly due to his foot pain.

What is the cure for plantar faciaitis? REST. And folks, can anyone see that happening? Hmmmm. Ron greatly respects Kobe who...
--Plays through anything short of amputation
--Makes subtle digs at Pau's recovery time with hammys
--Refuses to make excuses no matter his ailments

No way, no how Ron either RESTS or ADMITS to his foot problems. Yet, it is painfully clear that he is not the same. Here's something for all you "wish-we-still-had-Trevor-instead-of-Artest" yackers. If Trevor had the same foot problem, he would look even worse (speed being even more important to his game).

Don't argue with me UNTIL YOU FIRST watch Ron on Sunday versus Toronto. Watch what appears to be a lack of hustle in transition. Watch what appears to be a lack of effort in jumping for rebounds. Watch what appears to be a lack of good positioning in one-on-one defense. Then ask yourself why?

Ron is not a loafer. He is not lazy. His work ethic has never been questioned. The fact is he is hurting and is following the Kobe Bryant model of don't admit it, don't give into it, just do it.

Kobe's finger could use a break (wow, I really apologize for that bad choice of words!) and so could Ron's foot. Two different players. Two different injuries. But not disconnected. Yet more consequences of Kobe's stubborn approach to how he chooses to deal with his finger injury.

Mike

more thoughts, or so...

I think Mbenga should be inserted more, especially when defensive energy is lacking and or when the opposition is driving at will into the lane...

and the same goes for Shannon and even Sasha as far as needing some defensive energy injected into the game at certain points for even a few minutes...

I am really hoping for a 6-2 record on this road trip, which is very doable if we can play with any level of focus and if Phil uses his sub patterns effectively, as it were...

wish there are some more trade rumours to help light some fires under some of our players...

the hunger, desire, and focus of this team is being questioned and they are (typical for defending Champs) seemingly somewhat lacking in those attributes right now, but as the prize gets closer, I think this team will respond, especially with Kobe driving them, and Artest will get highly motivated as well...the season is long, but when the real season starts this team will be ready to turn it up...

the rest of the league (and us) have only seen glimpses of what this team will look like come play off time as well as down the stretch of the regular season...enjoy the ride (I know I always do, as it were...)

GO LAKERS !!!

nice observation, Laker Mike...

folks, this is a real good team. it's true, they've been a bit banged up and it's true that they've been a little under-motivated(this IS only the regular season, which is 82 games long). but they still have the best record in the league. this team knows what to do. only a crooked league and acts of God can keep them from the title, and the rest of the league knows it. that's why they resort to "physical play". if you can't win at basketball, perhaps you can win at...

people aren't going to be at their best 100% of the time, no matter what or who they are, nothing complicated it always at it's best. hopefully, everything is in order when playoff time arrives. the halfway point is not the time to panic. too far from port to not sail on now....

TOUGHNESS:

Toughness is NOT just about being physical. Kevin Garnett is considered TOUGH. But he is a string-bean of a player. He isn't BIG like Shaq. But it is his MENTAL TOUGHNESS that makes him a great player.

Toughness is about DESIRE. Do the Lakers WANT to win MORE than their opponent?

The Lakers LOST to the Cavaliers because collectively, the Cavaliers WANTED TO WIN MORE THAN THA LAKERS. Because of this, the Lakers WILTED.

Having won a championship, it is easy to see how the Lakers can become SOFT. Teams usually become SOFT after becoming FAT after a championship.

Andrew Bynum is SOFT, not TOUGH. He talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk.

Pau Gasol is SOFT. He has lost physical strength because of the time he wasted playing for Spain and getting injured, not training in a weight room like last year. With the lost stamina and strength, he has lost his composure and desire. Where's the TOUGH in you, Gasol? You should be playing more like your brother, Marc.

Lamar still eats too many sweets and is still a head case. Sometimes LAMAR IS TOUGH. Many times he is SOFT. It is still a ROLL OF THE DICE which Lamar shows up.

Hopefully Ron Artest recovers from his head injury. Since the injury, he has been SOFT. He lacks aggression and quickness. Where are you, Ron Artest?

I like an Andrew Bynum for Chris Bosh trade. Chris Bosh has TOUGHNESS that Andrew lacks. I hope Andrew can grow and mature enough to be TOUGH, but he is a big SOFTIE currently. And I am not sure if toughness is in Andrew. He seems to wilt too often.

Bone Head Baby Bynum is a tough as Dairy Queen ice cream. When Shaq gave him a little boo boo on his lip, he whined all the way down the court instead of getting angry and demand the ball. Oh I forgot, once in a great while he tries to demand the ball with physical play not his verbiage!
NO MORE SOFT SERVE

TOUGHNESS CAN BE OVERRATED...

Yes, my NINE GAMES report card includes "toughness" as a category. But, I have to say something about this obsession some Laker fans seem to have with this specific trait.

I will admit, toughness is needed to succeed. Not just physical toughness (ability to stand up against the strong, sometimes bully-like contact of typical NBA games) but more importantly mental toughness (as JAMES KATT points out). I prefer to call mental toughness "FOCUS" to help separate the two attributes, because they are definitely different.

Shaq is physically tough ~ Kobe is mentally tough. Hate to use them in comparison against each other after all the destructiveness we Laker fans had to endure in the past with them, but they are classic examples of the difference. It has A LOT TO DO WITH SIZE VERSUS SKILL.

Wayne Gretzky had skills, but was not "physically tough" like some bouncer transformed to defenseman. Gretzky could knock an apple off your shoulder with a slapshot from 50 feet away. The bouncer-defenseman would need a dozen shots just to hit YOU once ~ forget about the apple!

Michael Jordan had skills, but never intimidated others with brute force like Mr. Mahorn from the bad boys of Detroit.

I want Gretzky. I want Jordan. I also want someone to protect them.

So here's my point. STOP trying to turn Bynum into Perkins, or Pau Gasol into Marc Gascol, or Lamar Odom into Anderson Varajao. These are our skill players who need to be mentally tough (FOCUSED) but will never be physically tough (BRUTES). Instead, we need to look to supplement our roster with a physically tough player or two. I don't know if DJ Mbenga or Josh Powell have what it takes.

Showtime of the 80's had skilled greyhounds on the loose. Also had Mr. Rambis (ironic that Bynum has lost some "toughness" since Kurt left for Minnesota).

Gretzky had McSorely.
Jordan had Oakly, then Rodman.
Kobe had Shaq.

Skill players, with a small dose of physically tough players, is what makes championship teams. I suggest we stop the chatter about trying to make our skilled players into physically tough players and consider the more obvious solutions. Go find a physical player who can support and blend in to the chemistry of the established core of this team.

Morrison, Powell and Sasha are removable parts. This is where our focus needs to be. Replace some overrated skill players with under-appreciated physical players.

For the record, I hate,,, absolutely hate the thought of giving up on DJ Mbenga. I personally think he is a 4 to 7 minute per half solution to so many of our energy/defensive woes.

Drew/Pau/LO definitely will improve in their FOCUS (mental toughness) as the season approaches the games that really matter. But let's appreciate the skill set they have, which sets them apart from the physically tough, but lessor skilled options.

Our focus should be on transforming a couple pieces of the roster rather than transforming a part of these players' games.

Mike

Hobbitimage and KBlitz,

Lakers are best when Kobe is a facilitator rather than volume shooter.
MM have you compiled Laker statistics as a function of Kobe FGA's?

Lakers fans like me don't give a flip about Kobe breaking the career scoring record.

What do we play for?

Rings, Rings, Rings!


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