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Lakers head into All-Star break on good note with 96-81 victory over Utah Jazz

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Sprinting down the court, Lakers forward Pau Gasol let out a smile.

He was just involved with a play in the first quarter that exemplified teamwork. He blocked a shot from Utah forward Carlos Boozer. Lakers forward Lamar Odom then ran a 3-on-2 break and found guard Shannon Brown on the left wing. Brown then one-timed it to Gasol on the other end for an alley-oop layin.

This play wasn't particularly unique. Fortunately for the Lakers, they executed many of these plays in their 96-81 victory Wednesday over the Utah Jazz. But the energy level on that particular play and the happy reaction after its perfect execution show how cohesion can do wonders for a team, and also end the Jazz's nine-game winning streak.

The effort resulted in the Lakers'  third consecutive victory without guard Kobe Bryant, who has been on the sidelines because of a sprained left ankle but is keeping his options open Sunday for the NBA All-Star game. The Lakers have also won without center Andrew Bynum, who missed the second half Saturday against Portland and the following two games against San Antonio and Utah (32-19) because of a bruised right hip. He is considering getting a cortisone shot after the All-Star break.

Forgive me if this game recap sounds repetitive, but it's hard to ignore what the Lakers have duplicated in the past three games against teams among the Western Conference elite. Odom continued his aggressiveness offensively and on the glass with a team-leading and season-high 25 points and 11 boards on a highly efficient clip of 7 of 9 shooting from the field. Gasol, more of a director than the team's No. 1 option, had 21 points on a 10 of 15 clip, 19 rebounds and five blocks. And reserve guard Jordan Farmar continued his energetic play with 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting.

Not everything worked perfectly. Guard Derek Fisher, forward Ron Artest and reserve forward Luke Walton combined for only nine points on 3 of 18 shooting. Shannon Brown, starting in place of Bryant, scored nine points on 4 of 6 shooting in the first quarter, but only scored two points on 1 of 9 shooting the rest of the way. And though the game's result was never in question, the Lakers opened the fourth quarter with sloppy play. But with a team effort on full display, there's really no need to nitpick individual performances.

Surely, the performances from these past three games will bring up debate before and after the All-Star break on how long the Lakers (41-13) can sustain these type of performances, especially whenever Bryant and Bynum return to the lineup. It's indisputable that Bryant is the Lakers' best player, the team is better off for it and he will justifiably have the most looks offensively. It's also indisputable that despite Bynum's inconsistency, he is a needed inside presence. That being said, it'll be interesting to see whether the Lakers can continue such a strong team effort whenever Bryant and Bynum return. But the bottom line is this -- teamwork isn't an exclusionary concept; it's inclusionary by nature. 

The Lakers have the numbers to back that up. In their last three games, Artest, Gasol, Odom, Fisher, Brown and Farmar have exceeded their scoring averages in at least one of the contests. During this stretch, the Lakers also held opponents to 84 points per game, 43.4% shooting from the field and 33.3% shooting from three-point range. Although those shooting percentage numbers bode similar to the Lakers' season average in allowing opponents to shoot 44.1% from the field and 31.8% from three-point range, their total team defense is a 12-point improvement from their season-average of 96.1 points per game.

Unlike the previous two contests, the Lakers didn't waste any time dictating the tone, ending the first quarter with a 31-18 lead thanks to a 12-0 run. Plays, such as Sasha Vujacic's steal that led to his behind-the-back pass to D.J. Mbenga on a fast-break dunk for a 46-32 lead with 5:58 remaining in the second quarter, typified the hustle the Lakers displayed throughout the first half.

The Lakers held Utah to one field goal in the final 3:29 of the second quarter en route to a 56-41 halftime lead. Yet, the Lakers coaching staff told KCAL-9's John Ireland that it drilled into the team that a flat effort in the remaining 24 minutes would result in a loss. That didn't happen, as the Lakers limited the Jazz to only 16 third-quarter points and led 76-57 entering the final quarter.

Of course, there were other factors that contributed to the win beyond the Lakers' control. Utah shot only 13 of 25 from the free-throw line. The team also came off a back-to-back against the Clippers Tuesday and reportedly didn't arrive in Utah until 5 a.m. on Wednesday.

But those small points shouldn't cloud the big picture. That picture is painted this way -- the Lakers head into the All-Star break with many things to be happy about, something that wasn't the case just three games ago.

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Lamar Odom had a season-high 25 points, going seven for nine from the field, 11 for 12 from the free-throw line. He also had 11 rebounds as the Lakers won their third straight game without Kobe Bryant and second straight without Andrew Bynum. Credit: Steve C Wilson/Associated Press.

 
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In the last four games vs. Denver, Portland, San Antonio and Utah....

Pau Gasol is:
32-66 from the floor, Almost 50%.
Not great.
9-11 from the line. Almost 90%.
Please is very easy from the line!!
23 offensive rebounds, 63 in total. 15.75 per game.
This guy is soft
22 ast., 5.5 per game.
Selfish!!!
13 blocks, 3.5 per game.
This guy is soooo soooooft
73 pts, 18.5 per game. Onlyyy????

Pau Gasol sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
European soft player!!!
Paula Gasoft!!!!

Trade Gasol for Godzilla.
Trade Bynum for Vanilla Ice.
Trade Kobe for ninja turtles.
Trade Fisher for David hasselhoff.
and Phil Jackson for mariah carey.


Go Lakers go!!

Game notes...

The Lakers played a near perfect first quarter, 31-18. They played good team defense and as a consequence got a number of steals, which they turned into several textbook fast-breaks.

The prettiest break was led by Pau, who picked of a pass at the top of the key, dribbled down the court to the opposite FT line, bounce passed to Brown on the right wing who immediately lobbed the ball to LO swooping in just to the left of the rim, from where he dropped in a short lay-up off the glass. A thing of beauty is a joy to behold!

Dirk’s got nothin’ on Pau. I’m with Pop, Pau’s the most skilled big man in the league right now and he’s starting to look like his dead-leg phase is behind him now. He could be a serious force down the regular season home stretch.

The whole thing ended with a Farmar three-pointer at the buzzer. LO had 10/5 in the quarter and everyone played effectively. Utah had four TOs in the final minute of the quarter and the Lakers had a lot to do with that with their defensive pressure.

Three minutes into the second quarter the Utah Jazz TV commentator says, “The Lakers team defense is just tremendous right now.” This dude obviously knows what he’s talking about.

Sasha picks off a pass on the left point, dribbles rather haltingly straight down that side of the court and when he’s about ten feet out wraps a behind the back pass to DJ streaking down the lane for a wind-up dunk. It looks like everyone’s gonna join in the fun tonight, but no Jerry Sloan coached team is going to stop playing hard this early in the game. The Lakers are going to have to keep up this level of effort and focus for the entire game if they want to finish them off. The sense of urgency is palpable.

DJ gets rewarded again for running the floor with a second fast-break dunk. Fish comes back in and Deron Williams immediately penetrates down straight down the lane for an uncontested lay-up. Coincidence? Not likely.

The Jazz FSN crew is too numerous to count, or to keep track of who’s who when they’re talking. As the game began, they were talking about how Deron Williams should be able to take advantage of Fish, “he’s just not at a point in his career where he can keep Deron in front of him.” But then, there still seems to be a lot of pent of resentment in Utah for Fish and the circumstances and consequences of his departure.

I always thought that Fish played Williams as tough as anyone. After all, he mentored him for a year so he should know the guy’s game intimately. I think my memories have a closer relationship to what’s actually happened in the game so far, as Deron Williams has not been big factor in the first half and his blow-by of a fresh off the pine Fish seems to be the exception tonight rather than the rule.

The Jazz announcing team is starting to make excuses for them, they’re coming off a back-to-back last night against the Clips, tired legs, etc. You know the drill. Excuses are for losers, there’s no need for them when you’re winning.

Halftime, Lakers 56-41 and it’s looking good. Pau’s got 12/12/3/3 at the half, LO got 13 points, Farmar 10 and Brown 9. The Jazz have eight TOs leading to 11 Laker points.

The third quarter starts out pretty evenly, which is good for the Lakers since they’re still up by double digits. LO has made a number of thoughtless TOs tonight and missed a long two that he probably shouldn’t have taken. Still, he’s been effective on the boards, as per usual, and he’s putting some points up.

The Jazz are 7-19 from the FT line four minutes into the third quarter, the Lakers are 6-6. “That’s just great interior team defense” is another rousing compliment paid the Lakers from the Utah announcing crew. And another, “You can make the argument that the Lakers are just as good with Kobe Bryant as without.” Wow, that dude better not show up on the Lakers blog!

“He might have popcorn in his mouth” after Shannon Brown jumps into the front row, landed on some fans and spilled their drinks. These guys are starting to grow on me.

You can almost feel the Lakers’ comradery through the airwaves, all the way from Utah. The third quarter ends with the Lakers up by 19, 76-57, they’ve won every quarter so far and just need to keep from falling apart completely in the fourth. Pau has 17 rebounds LO has 11, while the Lakers as a team have 36.

Sasha jukes a technical foul on Ronny Price out of the refs before the clock even starts ticking on the fourth quarter and the Lakers still get to inbound the ball after he makes a FT.

Okur is having a nightmare of a game for the Jazz and he just passed the ball into the crowd for another Utah TO. Farmar immediately returns the favor with a lazy pass on the point that is picked off and converted into Utah’s sixth straight point at the beginning of the quarter.

The Jazz are finally making their run. The lead is down to 12 at the seven minute mark. Farmar then hits his fourth three-pointer of the game, the crew calls it “a dagger” and it is. I really don’t expect the lead to be reduce to single-digits again at this point, where it hasn’t been since the first quarter, but we’ll see if the Lakers can close this thing out efficiently.

The crew closes out the game by praising the Lakers profusely some more. They’ve nominated Pau for the NBA player of the week award by consensus. I’ve gotta hand it to these guys, they’re graceful losers, which is more than I could ever say about myself. Things are getting a little sloppy here near the end but I don’t think the output’s in doubt anymore.
The final score is 96-81 Lakers, another dominating performance. Pau 22/19, which is two games in a row with 19 boards and 5 blocks, LO 25/11 with 7-9 FG and 11-12 FT, and Farmar 18 points and 4-4 on 3s. Freakin’ magical!


Winning these 3 games without Kobe and Bynum doesn't prove we are better without them. It only proves that the offense is more effective when it executed as designed by Tex Winter.

We have all the pieces required to repeat. We MUST play as a unit and execute on both ends of the court.

JUST SAY NO TO THE ALL STAR GAME.

WE NEED a healthy Kobe when the playoffs start.

aztronut:
“You can make the argument that the Lakers are just as good with Kobe Bryant as without.” Wow, that dude better not show up on the Lakers blog!

hahahahahahaha!!

nice to see the scrubs step up without kobe... some post game comments:

- what is up w/ lamar? playin like a man possessed.. every midseason he hits a new gear so enjoy while it lasts

- very proud of our spaniard.. where did he get his new set of balls? esta jugando con pelotas muy grande

- and what has gotten into farmarboy for cryin out loud!! who is that guy? that aint the farmar we know... if he keeps this up he might dupe mitch into another 5MIL contract following in the footsteps of luke and sasha.

- got a little nervous there to start the fourth when that lead shrank to 11 and the crowd got back in the game.. phil almost managed to blow that lead with luke, sasha and farmar at the same time on the court! r u kiddin me phillip? why dont we just bring back kwaminus and smush parkeminus and play them all together again for old times sake?!?!

- if theres one thing we all learned the last three games is that luke is just garbage WITH or WITHOUT kobe... i think i remember some lukelovers saying hes the glue and the fate of our bench rests on luke.. i wonder what they're thinkin now.

- i would credit this recent scrub surge to RON RON... without him i cant see our scrubs playin so tough and steppin up like this. this is beyond human comprehension!

- can somebody tell ak47 that jokes over and he can get rid of that atrocious looking bowl haircut and start combing his hair again?


The Lakers are going to be OK.
Kobe likes to be the star but he also like to win championships.
Bryant has one of the highest basketball IQs in the game but sometimes his emotional needs supersede his cognition. (Happens to all of us)
He's going to figure it out when he comes back.
The nice thing is Laker team ball or as some have called it - Gasol ball - is inclusive.
No, we won't go 44-0 the rest of the season, but I have a feeling that the Lakers as a team have stepped it up another level, and they can go still yet another level higher when KB and Drew come back.

Congratulations to Lamar Odom for being named to the 2012 Olympic team pool. The way he ran circles around Boozer, US Olympic team member, in SLC, just showed how much LO deserves to be in the next team.

And more motivation to Kid Bynum, Brook Lopez gets named to the team. (And of course Chris Kaman gets named to West All-Stars as sub)
You've got a lot of catching up to do kid.

Farmar's energetic play for 15-20 minutes is beginning to match Rondo's for 40 minutes and SB seems more comfortable with the triangle. Sasha finally played his best quarter as a Laker at both ends. LO & Pau have been playing great! Ron played good defense but his offense was poor tonight but seems a bit more comfortable with the triangle. Mbenga & Powell played well but Luke was pathetic. I have to retract past recommendations to trade Farmar & Sasha if they continue to play with energy at both ends & take open shots with confidence. If LO,JF & SB can attack the basket with prudent drives and dunks the Lakers can win the championship: Kobe can now trust these guys, average 8 assists & 30 pts./game with less than 24 shots/game the rest of the way. Rebounding intensity & positioning when the ball is shot & going after it, fewer TOs-lazy passes should guarantee another championship!!!! Mitch, the only trade you need to consider is for Morrison. Go Lakers!

I deeply enjoy to watch Lamar and Pau play together.
They speak the same body language and they have both so much skill as game play it's really like watching a basketball lesson in movement to see how they interact.
To top this Kobe should be there as well, making it all even more poetically impressive, but even so, these two together are a wonderful thing to see when they exchange court sapiency.

In Italy they use to call Lamar "Magic with one hand, the lefty that can change any game if he only wishes to".

Well, thenthey of course add Magic stays on another planet because he was determined, and the most constant player around, but you get the praise out of such a comparison.

Lamar is our key to Figueroa once again. As a sixth man. Who can have such a talent to be thrown in in the middle of a game? NOBODY.

Pau and Lamar yesterday added another chapter of pure display of class in their personal records and add another winn to the Lakers storybook.

I am filled of joy anytime they play so. Because I like them a lot, and because this is the game I love. All about class and brain, strategy, perfect moves and timing, variations, constance, determination that has nothing to do with brutal force, but with elegant choices of game developing.

We need the bench to keep being consistent, too.

And, last but not least: congratulation Derek. If I could squeeze you in a warm embrace, I would any given day.

Get a well deserved rest guys.

Pau, sweet Prince of the Court: don't let ASG dry you. Just be there for five minutes. NBA doesn't love the Lakers. It's time we start to get reciprocal...

still feeling giddy after the last two "kobe-less" laker victories, i wondered what L.A. team would show up in utah. i was hoping the laker's team would continue to build on what they've done for the past two games. i didn't get to see the game because i was enroute to japan. but my fears were instantly put aside after turning on my laptop and cruising over to latimes.com. where i found out the lakers won AGAIN in utah, 96 - 81. again, after reading the blogs with new blogger mark medina and bresnahan and my fellow laker comrades, you have all hit it on the head why L.A. has been so successful the past three games. it starts with gasol, then odom and then the newly improved bench. why does it take an injury to kobe and bynum for these guys to start playing like they're CAPABLE OF PLAYING? well, for whatever reason, i'm glad they're playing like monsters out there. when kobe does come back, i'd like to see kobe more as a facillitator. currently everyone for the past 3 game have been working the triangle offense quite nicely. i do like seeing 5, 6 guys in double figures. there's no reason they can't keep this up. let's face it, kobe is still "the man". but, maybe he'll see his role a little differently after watching the way his team has played in his absence. what do you guys think? also, just how did bynum hurt his hip???? do any of you know? i live in arizona and don't get to see all of the games like you do in so cal. go lakers! keep it up!

Speaking of Utah...

I was lying in bed the other night, unable to sleep, and thought to myself...
how the hell is it that Steve Nash, who has never led a team to the NBA finals, let alone to a championship, got two MVP awards, while playing in a fast system... and John Stockton, one of the greatest pure point guards ever to play the game, who took his team to multiple finals series (dang that Michael Jordan, eh?), never won anything significant?

And unlike Nash, Stockton knew the meaning of defense...
and by that, I mean, he was dirty as hell.
Gotta respect that.

/end rant

I hate to say it, but I'm just not going to invest the time it takes to write a long post when I know the blog is churning out 6-7 stories a day. What about our conversations? I can not follow other bloggers when there 6 new one-paragraph posts up each day. And some of these posts are for breaking stories like Kobe not playing? That's not good. That's not enough of a reason to cut our conversations off. Brodrick, sorry, my man. I'm thinking your posts have to go. Leave the work to Mark, and let the readers talk to one another. This has to be tweaked guys.


I know Mark has a job to do, but how about one or two posts a day with more time spent on the creativity side of the writing? We used to have one or maybe two daily Kamenetsky essays with 200-300 reader posts per day! And we were able to follow conversations and build relationships with eachother. Now we have time to respond to the specific article, and that's it. I think we have a philosophical difference here. A lot of us see this as a reader-driven blog, and the Times (no one in particular) sees this as a writer-centric blog. There's a big, big difference for me. I come here for other bloggers, not the paid times staff. Not trying to be mean, it's just the way it is. So when our conversations are just torn to shreds like a surfer on the Great Barrier Reef, I can't stand it.


Just a rant, sorry. But the blog's just not running well yet. It's like American Chopper series, which I'm VERY sad to see cancelled, when it's broken, fix it . Quick. Or else.


Wes

Antiques Roadshow and American Choppper--where my personalities go to mingle.


The two best shows on television.


Wes

Jon K, I know exactly what you were thinking...but couldn't quite let it come out, my bro. Hmmmm. One game like this could have been just a fluke. Two games like this makes you start to wonder. But three??? No, I've got to say it. This was "Kobe-less Lakers Unleashed!"

And sorry, Zaira, we all love you like a sister, (well, some here would like to love you like some rednecks love their sisters) but nobody who watched these three games can avoid the truth: Kobe has kept this team on a leash. A very tight one. And now unleashed, they are running with the big dogs. No they ARE the big dogs.

Am I saying, like some, that Kobe should be traded? Heck no. I love Kobe. I want Kobe to stay a Laker. But more than anything, I want the Lakers to play like this. THIS is "Laker basketball ." And now KOBE needs to fit into this type of basketball, not the other way around (paging Phil Jackson...paging Mr. Phil Jackson).

This team without Kobe hasn't just gutted it out. They are on a completely different level. They're blowing off and shocking quality teams. And not just in the last 2 minutes. Yeah, I've read the "yeah, but" qualifiers about each win. Lame, really lame. These weren't the Timberwolves, Nets, and Washington Generals, but three of the top teams and coaches in the NBA. And our guys blitzed all of them.

So because I didn't believe it myself, I went to my DVR library (1 terrabyte) and started browsing to see what is it about the Kobe-less Lakers that's different. (Hey, I wonder if the Laker coaches ever look at their own game films and scout themselves, MM?) Shocka...it's pretty revealing.

On offense now, we are pushing the ball up court at speed. We are getting there before the defenses get set. We are finding holes in the unset defenses. Our guards are hitting the posts quickly. Everyone without the ball is moving. We're getting open shots. We've got guys in position to rebound, and we're crashing the boards. (Oh, and FYI, Farmar has jets that Hinrich can only dream of, and a touch around the basket on blow-by drives that, here's a clue, is the best of ANY guard in the NBA.)

By contrast, with Kobe, he/we walk the ball up court. The defenses are set. Kobe dribbles around the perimeter probing for an opening for much of the clock. Our guys are watching him to try to guess where/when he's going to go start his one on three drive. Etc. Seriously, rewind your DVR's and watch a few of these sequences. They're painful to watch. Maybe that's why our coaches don't do it.

Similar painful watching on defense. In the Kobe-less games, the word "funnel" (when I played, this was called "crappy defense because you can't stay in front of your guy") is almost non-existent. No serious breakdowns, or guys doing layup drills on us.

So here's the deal. CAN we be even better with Kobe back in the lineup? Absolutely. But the way I see it, it's no longer Kobe's choice. PHIL has to demand it. It shouldn't be a "suggestion" or an aside to the other players. Heck, I'll even donate my DVR clips for free.

Lakers' roster all around roster talent has been on display. The last 3 games are not luck. In fact, some players Farmar, Brown, Sasha, Artest and Walton have more game upside they can display in future games.

Question is would Lakers have beat Denver if Kobe hadn't played?

Answer is probably so.

Kobe return is more threatening than Bynum's. Kobe numerous FGA's destroy teamwork and ball movement. Hopefully Kobe will control himself and take no more than 20 shots. (15 shots would be better).

Bynum's return is not a problem since Bynum doesn't shoot excessively and has the highest fg% on the team.

wow after all the post I read the last few days with the Kobe bashing,I haven't seen ant so far after the third win.... Interesting Odom only had 1 assist......trade him....lol that's how the folks talking about getting rid of Kobe an the lakers being a better team without him sound..... Stay away frfom drugs.....................

Koby bryant is a super player, and lakers need him on the team, and i dont think Pau is in a campaign against koby, because Koby always defended the skill of Pau, and Pau always defended the leadership and skill of Koby. I just think Pau as european has a concept of basketball with full teamplay, gasol thinks shooting must be selected, because he is a great passer,and has great basketball IQ. koby sometimes takes shotting that has very low chance of success, and that hurts the whole team play, and that creates doubts on his teamates, that suddenly become less efficient, because to shoot well u need selfconfidence.Koby has been for a long time surrounded by scrubs and now he has to addapt hiself to this new situation, he has to combine that hunger about being the new michael Jordan with the feeling of belonging to a super team, that could make history with their beautiful teamplay.Lets hope his ego is not too big to accept this new rolle in this new "democracy" team as someone called in some post.Anyway, still long to the playoffs , everything can change, we cant know.

I for one am not in the least bit worried about Kobe. You can't blame the guy for trying to shoulder the load recently; did anyone really watch how bad his teammates were playing? Lamar was disappearing at an alarming rate, Artest made some yearn for Ariza, Pau was playing like Pau Gasoft, Bynum couldn't keep up, Fisher was routinely putting up atrocious numbers, and Sasha couldn't hit a shot if his life depended on it.

Bynum is better off not starting, he would be best suited to play against the bigger and slower center's in the league, but one thing is obvious his presence is a detriment to the team's development. He was a hindrance in the playoffs last year and not much has changed this year. The Lakers simply play better team ball without AB. Lamar is such a better all-around player and he fits the Triangle Offense to a tee.

Phil needs to tell Jimmy Buss that the "Andrew Bynum Project" will be shelved for the time being. The only thing that matters is winning the Championship and that means we can't wait for Bynum. No offense to those who like Bynum, heck, I like Bynum, but even his most ardent supporters must admit he is not progressing at a rate acceptable enough to be taking minutes away from Lamar Odum and to be taking touches away from Gasol.

THE ANDREW BYNUM PROJECT NEEDS TO BE PUT ON-HOLD FOR THE BETTER OF THE TEAM


And if I was a fall guy
I wouldn't need no alibi
I don't care
What you do
I wouldn't want to be like you

oh all the Kobe -hate comments were on the previous post...artest,odom, an gasol were successful on previous teams...yep just like pierce allen and garnett..... u guys need to stop just stop it already it's embarassing!!!! I wonder how it would have been like if the Lakers were'nt the defending champs... I think this blog is like the twilight zone at times been readind alot an haven't posted in a real long time but this shiz is getting ridic

ridiculous..dunno what happened there.

Wow, have these last 3 games been fun to watch or what. I'd love to be a fly on the wall of these Lakers when they are in private. Wonder what they all really are thinking and feeling right now.

I kinda wish there wasnt an excuse for each solid win (Blazers shorthanded, Spurs on the road and in a funk, Jazz 2nd game of a back to back). I wish they had played the Cavs or Nuggets, just for fun.
The Cavs and Nugs are going to be the teams to beat this year. I think both can give us a tough time and match up well.

Hey, about that Kobe guy. When he played for the Olympic team, wonder how many shots he took. IIRC, he wasnt the teams leading scorer on more than one occasion. I dont have any stats but would be curious to see the stat lines from those games. I seem to remember there was quite a bit of balance, but maybe I remember wrong. My point is, why would that be the case? Was it the respect Kobe had for his fellow Olympians, was it the coaching game plan? Whatever it was, can we please figure out a way to bring that Kobe back when he returns from injury. The other players have earned his respect these last 3 games.

I really feel conflicted about the Kobster. I love those big shots, the game winners, the shots that nobody should be able to make yet he does. Yet there is a real lack of balance and team play with Kobe. I mean, not always, not every game, but way too often.

And there is that whole 'I eat first' mentality, I cringe when I think about that, Kobe what were you thinking? Can any of the Kobe Lovers here please justify that comment to me. And while your at it, justify to me also why Kobe is not on the bench with his team during the game. Man this irks me. Big stars from all over the NBA have been injured and sat right there on the bench with their teammates, cheering them on. He's getting treatment? No, thats not really acceptable for an excuse, plenty of time for treatment. And didnt he himself say he didnt know what to do with himself, wandering around back there?

I think Kobe is a great player for sure and glad he is not playing on another team, but still, he does have some flaws that need attention if this team is going to play up to its full potential and get those Rings this June. Both the Cavs and the Nugs are better this year than the Magic were last year.

I hope Kobe doesn't mess things up when he returns...

Dear hiltontown:

¿Pau está jugando con pelotas muy grandes? Mmmm... You are forgetting that Gasol is one of the most intelligent players in (and out) the NBA.
He´s able to give the team what it needs when it needs it. So it´s not a matter of "balls" but "brains".

"Bryant has one of the highest basketball IQs in the game but sometimes his emotional needs supersede his cognition. (Happens to all of us)"

Bingo!

I have no doubt that Kobe knows at some level what he should be doing....but sometimes he thinks that he can get away with a certain amount of it and win a championship anyway. Remember when Wilt dropped to 15ppg for the good of the team, and ended up leading the Lakers to a championship and getting Finals MVP? That would never be Kobe - he will score exactly as many as he thinks he can while still hoisting that trophy in the end. What the last three games hopefully will prove to him is that what he can get away with is going to have to drop down a little bit, since people have seen exactly how good these other Lakers can be.

Okay, I love and respect Kobe Bryant. I appreciate what he does for us when we have to dig down DEEP to win against a very serious and tough opponent. But there is a scenario playing through my imagination that I just HAVE to share.

Kobe returns to the team for practice after the allstar break. The whole team is in there dressing and no one says a word.... all of them waiting for some kind of response from Kobe after they dusted off 3 good teams. Kobe dresses for practice and notices the guys are giving him the silent treatment. He turns around and faces them, smiles and says "Alright, that was impressive." They jump on him dogpile style and give him nuggies and indian burns. Alot of laughing and smiling from everyone ensues.

After the laughing and smiling subsides, Kobe looks at Sasha and says, "You with us dawg? I mean, was that even you playin?" Kobe then starts razzing and giving Sasha a bad time and the smiles and laughing starts all over again. This time the team roasting Sasha.

Nothing has to be said. Nothing has to be fought over. They all know and Kobe knows. That statement needed to be made and they made it. There are defining moments during a long season. The last 3 games have been this seasons statement. It wasn't made to the other teams, it was something internal. Now they know.

Benjamin - the Steve Nash MVPs will go down as two of the worst in NBA history. Sorry, but the first one should have been Duncan's and the second should have been Lebron's. Steve Nash is an all-star caliber player who got placed in a perfect system for his skills, but he wasn't an MVP.

WOW! The Lakers are finally showing their true colors these last 3 games. I had doubts about their win against Portland since they (Portland)were undermanned too. Doubt against the Spurs since they are getting old and creaky. But last night, they proved me wrong. They can beat anyone even without Kobe!!! They are starting to peak at the right time. If they can keep playing like this and with Kobe and Drew back in the lineup, NOBODY will be able to stop the LAKERS from repeating as CHAMPS!

Good win by the Lakers. I was not able to watch but follow the game chat.

I agree with KTD comments on the previous post. A lot of people made a lot of money on bets.

This blog becoming anti-Kobe, I thought only these garbage are only at ESPN. Too bad, too sad. I like Pau and I think he is a good player. Someone need to tell him to stop this post game interviews as "indirect attack to Kobe". It leaves a bad taste in the mouth really. If he wants to be the face of the Lakers the put up. Pau got contract extension, next year Kobe may opt out. To all Kobe haters, be careful for what you wish for. Lakers are capable in paying these huge payroll because Kobe is bringing in the money. Ok, bench Kobe, he is a cancer, ballhog, whatever. Do you think Pau can lead Lakers to the Championship? Like what Faith said on game chat Pau=Finals but Kobe=Championship. I don't need to bash Pau, I like him but he needs to stop these comments.

Bech mob ressurected.

Lakers without Kobe and Andrew is much more fun to watch. Now we have a real team that doesn't depend on a person, and we can win games over and over just playing together as a team!

Jonny boy K,
With every blog you prove how little you know about basketball. Let's see this scrub Laker team beat a team that is playing well that night. It is easy to crush teams that are having bad nights. How did this team that was struggling with Kobe and Bynum in the lineup...go to a dominant team without them !! Maybe this is more about the opposition than the Lakers !! And Fish had an oustanding 1000th consecutive game. Not !!! Would you stop with the Fisher nonsense and take off the rose colored glasses. He is embarassing himself on a nightly basis. Watching him play out there is funnier than watching a comedy on television.

After the rough road trip I said something like this: this isn't about individual Lakers playing poorly, it's about them playing poorly as a team. In this run of three wins it was just the opposite. ON BOTH ENDS we saw a real team effort. Helping on defense. Moving the ball on ofeense. Proper spacing. Good movement . The defensive pressure against Utah was fun to watch.


I'll grant Utah was on a back-to-back and missed free throws and generally looked slow. But the Lakers still went into Utah and took the inititaive and just plain took the game away from a very good team.


So the elephant in the room is, what about Kobe? Well, Kobe has been injured for a long time in a lot of ways. Replacing a seriously banged up Kobe with a healthy Shannon helped on defense and the Lakers have plenty of offensive weapons. A healthy Kobe will a huge addition. they won't win it all without THE MAN.


But that is not say Kobe shouldn't make some adjustments based on the last 3 games. In short, Kobe could to freelance less on both ends. Defensively Kobe's tendency to leave his man and play free safety throws off the balance of the defense.


On offense, it was interesting watching these games. No clear outs where 4 guys stand around and watch. Nobody throwing Kobe the ball when the clock starts to run down and praying he bails them out. Almost no pick and rolls that take a big man out 20 feet from the basket. Just good spacing and ball and man movement.


I'm not saying Kobe needs to shoot less, just that he should do it more in the flow of the triangle. Less iso, less pick and rolls. Less of Kobe chasing the ball accross the floor and throwing off spacing. And more aggressive offense from the other guys on the floor. These guys proved they can weather an opponent's run without Kobe. They need to remember that, and so does Kobe. If the other guys run off 10 points, run the offense BETTER, don't abandon it!


These games can be the foundation of a stretch run where these guys run everybody else off the floor.


Tom Daniels

Zaira -

Thank you for your last two posts. Hopefully people will really take that to heart and try to fully understand what you've said.

Remember when the Bros. K would break the game down into the good, not so good, and bad?

Good: Again, as I wrote then, the Portland game was as huge as Kobe's 61 against Knicks. It meant we are not in trouble, we are in charge, going into the second half of the season.

Bad: I am sure his D was key, but Ron Ron's 1 - 10 was Fish - like. I only put Ron in the Bad, and not Luke, as I don't expect more out of Luke.

Question of the month?
Will they lose their first game when Kobe returns? If so, what will he learn? Will he learn?

GOOooooOOOO LAKERS TEAM !!!!

The Lakers have been great last 3 games. They now they need to continue that great effort after KB and AB come back. I can't help but wonder why LO did not play that well when the Lakers were healthy? At least I am grateful he became alot more agressive when much needed.

Learnings from these three wins - Part II - what about Drew?.


This is pretty simple to me. I like Drew. He is a good young NBA center. Not the next Wilt, but not the next Kwame either. But he is young and raw and immature. Emphasis on immature. Drew has a lot of growing up to do.


Right now, Lamar Odom is clearly a better player than Drew. He is also unselfish. With Kobe and Pau on the floor, a facilitator like Lamar is a good fit. I would start Lamar and move Drew to the bench. His time will come, but for this year's title I would ride Lamar.


The bench can be Farmar and Shannon the the guards with Drew at center and some combination of Pau, Lamar, Kobe, Artest, Walton and Sasha at the 3 & 4 spots, getting everyone rest.


This is not a dig at Drew. He is good now and could be better in the future. But the job at hand is to win a title. Right now, Lamar is more ready to help deliver that title. And Drew can be more of a focus offensively in the second unit.


Tom Daniels

Can we officially retire the Pau Gasoft garbage?


Pau is not soft. Yes, his body type is long and slender. No he can't outmuscle some of the huge guys in the league. But goes out and bangs anyway. Soft is a big guy who plays small. Not a skinny guy who goes out and bangs with huge studs every night and usually wins the battle. Pau works his ass off and does not shy away from contact - he is tough, not soft.


Pau's advantages are length, speed and skills. He goes out and uses them every night. He is mentally tough. There were playoff games last year where Pau struggled against stronger guys early on, but he always stuck with it and usually ended up putting up huge numbers in the end.


Pau is a guy who gets criticized for what he is not instead of appreciated for what he is. Since he came to LA, the Lakers have been winners. He loves the game. He plays hard, with all his heart. He plays good man and help defense. He rebounds like a maniac. He scores in the post and facing up. He facilitates the offense. What the hell do people want from him? Look at the way he led in these last three games.


Pau Ga-solid is more like it. This guy ain't soft.


Tom Daniels

Good morning,

Still feeling like we're the luckiest fans in the world. This Lakers team is finally showing its mettle. Three wins against quality teams, with two of our best players on the sidelines. More important than the wins - yes, there is such a thing - beautifully executed team basketball by individual athletes reaching deep for their best selves. That's what makes the wins so rewarding.

Now, about our wounded warriors. For me, it's like the proverbial tale of two cities. Kobe seems focused on treatment, treatment, treatment. Kobe seems committed to doing whatever it takes to restore his ability to contribute on the court. Andrew seems focused on rest, rest, and more rest. He says he'll wait until Monday to decide on a cortisone shot and draining of the fluids impairing his play. Why wait? Is he 2 years old and afraid of the doctor? All that inflammation needs time to dissipate.

This blog is full of opinions about the Lakers with and without Kobe. Some are informed (regardless of position) and some are just the rantings of people who hate Kobe. If you're a Kobe hater, stop reading now. I've got nothing to say to you.

When the Mamba is at his best, there is no one like him. His ability to make the otherwise impossible shot is a joy to watch. The trouble is, sometimes the other players become like me, paralyzed with awe. They love watching him, too. All of a sudden, they become bystanders, or worse, finding themselves lacking just by his presence. Their self-confidence crumbles. Team basketball disintegrates into Kobe ball.

Of course, that hypothesis is unprovable. But you've seen it, just like I have. I'm hoping that three games with Mamba in the locker room will restore the team mojo and that the squad can recognize that they're players, too. They are. I'm also hoping that the coach will renew his confidence in the other players, and give them all a little more leash to let them play without fear of being sent to the pine for the smallest infraction. Kobe, too, must be more willing to distribute. And we fans must be less demanding that Kobe assume his hero persona too soon in a game. In short, team basketball requires a balanced perspective on all fronts.

None of this will happen unless the players who showed their stuff when Kobe was sidelined continue to contribute at a high level when he returns. The onus is on them. More minutes by the role players means the front line will be more rested for the high level of play demanded by the playoffs. They know that and we know that.

The idiots screaming trade Kobe or that the Lakers are better without Kobe are best ignored. Kobe's absence in the three games before the All-Star break showed how good the Lakers can become. When he returns, his presence can assure the Lakers of domination through June. There should be no doubt that the Lakers are better with Kobe, pure and simple.

hope the lakers continue kicking ass after the all star break. send bynum to the D-league or trade him for any rookie center or strong forward in the league.

I have two things to say.

1. WOW! A GREAT WIN!!!

2. "We've been playing good basketball recently. It was unfortunate that Kobe had to go out and Andrew as well," Farmar said. "Everybody took it upon themselves to really play better basketball and play together."

It's unfortunate that the team has been coasting per a paraphrase of Farmar's
words.

Oiiyyyy a lot of negative comments after a gritty win last night, can we just enjoy this team? Can we just appreciate all players! The Lakers need Kobe to deliver the 2010 Champ Banner. End of discussion. Ironic how RonRon is the one to put some perspective on all these crazy talks, “We need Kobe,” said Lakers forward Ron Artest. “They [the Jazz] just came off a back-to-back. We beat Portland. Portland didn’t have a lot of people. Who else did we beat [the Spurs]? I forget. Can’t let people start that. We’re 41-13 because of your team, not just because of one person and not because of us. We need everybody.”

Check out the link, it's snowboard basketball, absolutely cool in my book! http://tinyurl.com/create.php

Hope Kobe's taking notes.

no question that our BIGs played a great game....but the player that's impressed me most in this 3-game run is jordan farmar....playing under control and hustling on the defensive end.....he clearly has the tools to be a triangle point guard....now he just has to show the consistency needed to run a championship team....

from ocregister: http://tinyurl.com/yjhmwvv

Phil Jackson acknowledged late Wednesday night that his trusted assistants are already lobbying him to make the change to start Odom over Bynum – and he’s going to contemplate it when the Lakers reconvene after the All-Star break.

That revelation is yet another flare in the air for young Bynum to understand that his progress needs to be more consistent, particularly on defense.

Considering Bynum’s lack of footspeed, he can become a dump truck trying to chase the IndyCars when he has to play with the Lakers’ tempo-pushing second unit. He’s a score-first player, and if his points go down, it’s highly likely so does his commitment to defense. There is a very real risk that you lose the best of Bynum if you bench him and shake his confidence.

This more mature Odom, who even for a change did responsible offseason training last summer,

note: things said in the past about Odom seem to be true re: inconsistency &
training.

note: things said about Bynum about being and offense 1st glory seeker seem
to be true.

note: Lakers seem committed to keeping Bynum & helping him grow.
[ that's for your LakerTom ]

Y'all should read the article.

Aztronut,

I feel you on the balance given by Jazz commentators. I've always been impressed. Also, their beat writers are pretty fair as well (go read their articles, and you'll see they give everyone a fair shake), they give credit where credit is due. Pop has always been a "call it as he sees it" kind of guy. I can really dig why guys play so hard for him.

But, the elephant in the room for Utah is undoubtedly the fans. They are the ones who turned on Fish. They are the ones who spout racial slurs during games (that can sometimes be heard over the live feed).

Did anyone see the fan that Brown landed on? He tossed Shannon off him like Shannon had the swine flu with a runny nose. I was shocked. Because, at Staples, whenever a dude lands in the stands all the fans go all ga-ga and try to help, shake his hand, whatever. No matter who the player is. Home team, or away. At least at Staples, the taunts don't resume 'till the player gets back on the court.

Well, except if its a Craptic. You never know what will happen when a Craptic goes into the stands. His next sighting just MIGHT be on the side of a milk carton...

I replayed in a few times, just to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. But, they showed the play from like three angles, and it just rubbed me wrong every time.

Fish has never said anything but kind words about Utah, but I wonder what it was really like working there.

--FEARless

It's time we start to get reciprocal...

Posted by: ZairaAmaterasu | February 11, 2010 at 01:05 AM

Zaira,

Beautiful! I'm stealing that one. That is the new mantra of the second half of the season!

--FEARless

Guys - a new post should be up in about 10 minutes. Wes - Regarding the number of posts, I see your concern, but in reality we need to balance two things - the community you mentioned and the need to satisfy readers with news. Regarding non-news items, I've spaced out blog posts in a span of 2-3 hours throughout the day. Sometimes the breaking news items inevitably leave the shelf life of previous threads a little shorter. But when there's an injury update, or other news coming from practice or before the game or after the game, it's our obligation to get that news up.

I hope that clears up a few things. But feel free to post your thoughts or email directly.

MM

Benajamin,

"I was lying in bed the other night, unable to sleep, and thought to myself...
how the hell is it that Steve Nash, who has never led a team to the NBA finals, let alone to a championship, got two MVP awards, while playing in a fast system... and John Stockton, one of the greatest pure point guards ever to play the game, who took his team to multiple finals series (dang that Michael Jordan, eh?), never won anything significant?"

It's a conspiracy pushed by Darth Stern to try to get the NBA to expand into Canada by giving a Canadian player not one MVP, but two.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

BTW, did anyone else notice just how crafty on D Fish has been lately? Sure, he gets blown by on iso plays a couple times a game, but the guy he's been guarding lately has not been "going off" on the Lakers, which had been the case for about the previous month.

Last night, Fish funnelled Deron into Pau's sternum just about every time down the court. Then, LO would step over and take away the old reverse in the backfield route that many PG's are expert at in this league.

Deron never had an answer. Everything he tried last night was forced, but he had no other choice.

People, that is the value of team defense versus individual defense. Team defense is much more psychologically demoralizing. It is the reason why the Lakers are able to defend against free throws. This season, teams have been shooting below their season average for free throws. You only get that by intimidation and humiliation and frustration and fatigue. All of which are by-products of stifling team defense.

In that regard, Fish is still the perfect guy. Plus, he drew 2? critical charges last night.

I'm still stayin' with Fish.

--FEARless

Dfish and Troll Man are predictably hilarious. Who didn't know what they were going to say ahead of time?


If the Lakers had lost big: "Obviously they needed Kobe."
If the Lakers had lost close: "They needed Kobe to close out that game."
If the Lakers had won close: "They got lucky - with Kobe the game never would have been close. It's not going to last."

But when the Lakers dominate three quality opponents in a row?

"Fluke! It's a fluke! This team is utterly dependent on Kobe taking 25 shots! Stop bashing Kobe! The other Lakers suck and its never his fault!"

DFish,

You are an idiot and you are not a Lakers fan.

I quote you in calling the Lakers "the Fakers."

No one should listen to a word you type, you whiney little miscretant who desperately craves attention.

Go away. Everyone here knows you're an idiot. Go to whatever blog for whatever team you actually root for.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

I'm enjoying how people are ridiculing the chicken littles who have infested this blog. It's about time.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Lakeshowinphx,

"just how did bynum hurt his hip???? do any of you know? i live in arizona and don't get to see all of the games like you do in so cal. go lakers! keep it up!"

Bynum crashed to the floor after some contact very early on in the Portland game last Friday and seemed to have limited mobility immediately after the incident. As I recall, and I'm working from memory here which is dangerous, he came out about seven minutes into the first quarter after Juwan Howard beat him back down the floor in transition for a dunk. He came back for just a couple of minutes in the second quarter to see if he could go, and apparently it didn't work so he sat out the rest of the game, logging only 9.5 minutes in the first half and not playing at all in the second.

There was also another incident a couple of games before that, against the Bobcats I believe, where he bumped knee-to-knee with an opponent and went down in a heap. He got back up after that and seemed fine but in the following games he was suddenly sporting an extra knee brace on his other knee. Subsequent to the hip injury, it was also revealed that he had swelling in that other knee and so has been sitting out with these two issues since the Blazer game.

That's probably more detail than you were interested in, but there's my take on it. BTW, I'm in Phoenix as well. I always like to schedule my travel out of town for the summer if I can, and stick around this time of year when the weather is relatively nice. Although it did rain yesterday, it wasn't much and is probably the last of it we will see 'til the monsoon. Hope you're gonna be back for Spring Training if you enjoy baseball, I've got 10-20 games I plan to go to next month. Have a safe trip back.

also, just how did bynum hurt his hip???? do any of you know? i live in arizona and don't get to see all of the games like you do in so cal. go lakers! keep it up!

Posted by: Lakeshowinphx | February 11, 2010 at 02:33 AM

--

He fell on his hip in the 1st qtr of the Portland game. He came back for a few minutes in the 2nd qtr but did not show up for the remainder of the game.

The Portland win looks even more impressive now that the Blazers went to Phoenix and dominated the Suns in their own house with the same players.

The Lakers were on the second day of a back-to-back in Portland, coming off a tough loss in Denver. Why is it that everyone's making excuses for Utah when the non-Kobe Lakers were able to dominate Portland in the same circumstances?

Going into the Denver-Portland-San Antonio-Utah stretch, everyone was saying that LA would be happy with 2-2 and could go 0-4. Now that they went 0-1 with Kobe, 3-0 without Kobe, you want to belittle the competition? No one was saying "the Spurs are old!" or "Portland is decimated!" or "Utah is tired!" when Kobe was still going to suit up, were they?

The prettiest break was led by Pau, who picked of a pass at the top of the key, dribbled down the court to the opposite FT line, bounce passed to Brown on the right wing who immediately lobbed the ball to LO swooping in just to the left of the rim, from where he dropped in a short lay-up off the glass. A thing of beauty is a joy to behold!

Posted by: aztronut | February 10, 2010 at 11:42 PM
--
Pau played PG when he was still a 6'-7" teenager. So it is not surprising that he can orchestrate a fastbreak every now and then.

It's time for my "Play As A Unit" Anthem!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mPt3Zz_xLc

Mark M,

This post (below) by Wes, I totally agree. Please lighten up on the number of stories, it really does interrupt the flow of the comments.


I hate to say it, but I'm just not going to invest the time it takes to write a long post when I know the blog is churning out 6-7 stories a day. What about our conversations? I can not follow other bloggers when there 6 new one-paragraph posts up each day. And some of these posts are for breaking stories like Kobe not playing? That's not good. That's not enough of a reason to cut our conversations off. Brodrick, sorry, my man. I'm thinking your posts have to go. Leave the work to Mark, and let the readers talk to one another. This has to be tweaked guys.
Wes
Posted by: wesjoenixon | February 11, 2010 at 04:37 AM

It appears that the Times couldn't afford to send someone to the game and Mark Medina watched the game on TV. If he was at the game, it might have helped him remember that Sascha gave the assist to DJ via a behind-the-back pass for the dunk. Or perhaps he could have read about the play on the Lakers.com blog. This is the freaking Lakers, Times. Southwest Airlines is not that expensive.

timeto - sorry about the mistake. i made the correction.
MM

Sorry, Mark. I just realized you are the blogger and not the reporter. Apologies to you and the Times

I should have included FEARless and hobbitmage in the "predictably hilarious" crowd.

hobbitmage,

Thank you for pointing out the obvious that all these Kobe/Bynum bashers have been conveniently glossing over. What we are seeing is the result of a bunch of high-paid grown men who have been spending more than half of a season coasting along and depending on Kobe to bail them out.


Why?

Because only Kobe came out of training camp ready to play, that's why. These guys have been dogging it since DAY ONE.

I was the guy who told the whole blog just how quick and athletic Farmar is when he first came to the Lakers. That was ME! So, while everyone else is wondering where he suddenly got all these "extra gears" that allow him to get to the rack with impunity, he's always had them. Why did he wait half a season to show up? His comments were a Freudian slip, I think. He just ratted himself out on that one.

What we are seeing is the degree to which these guys have been dogging it. Now, they are forced to play, or get embarrassed. What was Kobe to do? Tank the first few games of the season just to make everyone else step up?

That isn't Kobe. What he decided was to let the Mamba out. And on his back (until he got hurt, and even a few games into that period) he led the Lakers to the best record in the League.

We know Kobe can play with this team, and I'm getting SICK and TIRED of people continuing with the "IF Kobe can play with this NEW mindset" type of crap.

IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED!!!!!!

Did anyone watch the playoffs last year?!?!?!

The question has never been "IF". The question has always been "WHEN". WAKE UP PEOPLE!

I have been saying for almost 50 games now that "WHEN" would be after the All-Star break. As it has always been EVERY SINGLE SEASON since PJ has been our coach. My, how soon we forget...

When are we seeing the newly resurgent Lakers "scrubs" as some are still calling them? Would this time of year not be the ALL STAR BREAK? Is this some sort of cosmic coincidence? Or will we not finally admit that this is going just as PJ has planned it, once again? Hmmmm.....

Maybe he actually earned those 10 rings. You think!?

Heck! You can set your watch to when Lamar plays like an All-World All-Star. It is ALWAYS in the games immediately following the announcement of the All-Star invitees. Every season, no matter what team he plays for. His entire career.

He will go down as the greatest player never to be an All-Star because of it.

Trust me.

The rest of the season, we are going to see this "New Kobe", which isn't the New Kobe at all, but the "OLD FREAKIN' KOBE"!!!

OKAY!?


hobbitmage, you da' man. Keep the sanity coming.

--FEARless

ladyJem24,

Oh My God, great link. Ron Ron is a Laker for LIFE!

"We need everybody". Spoken like a TRUE WARRIOR!

"Who else did we beat? I forget." Spoken like a dude concentrating on HIS TEAM and not ANY-DANG-BODY-ELSE!

Ron Ron = Laker for LIFE!

--FEARless

FEARless,

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. I just put up a scrubbed version on MMs latest post.

I think that the problems the Utah fans have with Fish must involve the consequences of his departure, not to the Jazz but to the Lakers. Meaning that they were probably pretty pissed to see Fish go back home and help lead the Lakers to yet another championship while they continued to struggle in the playoffs.

That and the fact that the Jazz didn't really get anything in return beyond the self-satisfaction of knowing that they did the right thing. Although in hindsight I guess the razzing started before the Lakers won it all last year, didn't it. I guess that they're just more bitter people clinging to their guns and religion?

Fish wasn't bluffing though, I feel certain that he would have retired if he wasn't released from his Jazz contract. The familial obligations he was dealing with at that time were overwhelming and that had to be his primary priority.

I didn't recall the reaction of the Jazz fans in the front row to Shannon stealing their popcorn and drinks until you reminded me. After searching my faded-photograph memory, I do remember scowls and straight-arms pushing him back onto the court. I didn't think much of it at the time but your insights give it some new added meaning for me as well.

Aztronut,

I find myself usually not agreeing much with the things you say. But, you are so obviously thoughtful that I still read every word. And, Dude, when you are right, your are right. I can't argue, I must give props.

The whole Utah thing just distresses me, though. I'm wondering why that city even has an NBA team? They play a style of basketball that will always be successful in the regular season, but may never bear fruit in the playoffs. Unless they can possibly find another Stockton/Malone caliber duo. Daron and Boozer, though close, are obviously not them.

But, the results will still be the same; they will still be beatable by a team with a clearly defined and deserving Alpha-Dog on their roster. Stockton/Malone had Jordan. Deron/Boozer have Kobe. Which means Utah won't be seeing the Finals for awhile.

Sucks to be them.

--FEARless

Some fools post as if they've never seen Kobe out of a game before. THANK GOD the bench has stepped up and we got away with 3 wins while Kobe is hurt. But remember all the times when the starters (Kobe) are on the bench and the second team has blown big leads. Kobe has lead this team for years and a few myopic fools want to bad mouth him after 3 games?? What if we had lost the last three games? Take a lesson from Phil Jackson and stay calm folks. I hope Kobe comes back like MJ did the year the Bulls went 72-10 and takes the team on a long winning streak and wins another championship.

@Caliphijlosopher: you know they won't, man. They just can't reach that stage. ;) No problem. I'm glad you got that instead.

@CJ: no. We won't ever agree on that, sorry. When his teammates will be THIS consistent, he will help them and play team ball. Like it has happened already. The way balance is performed is dependable on a two factors trail: one side, Kobe's skill which is superior in ANY aspect of the game to the one of all of his (very skilled anyway) teammates (and which is superior to ANY SINGLE PLAYER of the NBA, too); the other, the way his teammates show their presence on court, providing every movement, scheme, reactivity, intensity, constructiveness and application of hustle and triangle on the floor.
Do you think a month ago these factors were the same as they are now from his teammates? They obviously were not and Kobe had to compensate those deficiencies. And he did.
The story of Kobe not being a good teammate are honestly old stuff, and not true since when Pau came in this team.
But you can believe what you prefer. I know for sure this team won't win without Kobe. And I for one already suffer for the day when I won't be able anymore to see him play, because that day I will lose the best sight I ever witnessed on a basketball court.

On Pau: his best ability is the one of being able to play each side of the field, with both sides of his self, and even when he's not in his favourized situation, the way he executes his second and third best is at a level that resembles his first best option. Quite simple, no one as tall as he is is not even remotedly that close technically. Ask Dwight Howard for references.
Pau is a joy for any basketball lover to see.
But even then, Kobe stays up, up above.
And Pau agrees.

FEARless,

"I find myself usually not agreeing much with the things you say. But, you are so obviously thoughtful that I still read every word. And, Dude, when you are right, your are right. I can't argue, I must give props."

Thanks again, as I told you before that kind of stuff is just music to my ears. I really don't expect people to agree with me. When I find myself agreeing with the majority, I start wondering if there isn't something wrong with my thought processes.

The goal around here should be to expand the cognitive boundaries of all those Laker fans sitting in their comfy chairs night after night watching all the action on TV and buying into everything they're told by the pundits and the blogster peanut gallery. Except of course for those unlucky bastards with season-tickets, who don't have such comfy chairs, nor probably as good a view of the action, but at least their wallets aren't as uncomfortably large to sit their fat-asses on without all that do-re-mi.

Not to say that this describes you, I'm sure it doesn't, but that's what my jaundiced, cynical, and all-seeing eyes imagine we're dealing with on the other side of those internet tubes. Which makes it difficult for those of us who hate conflict but don't run from it.

I appreciate your respectful attitude and thoughtful responses, as I try my best to be respectful and thoughtful around here as well. I just wish more of these folks could show a little more consideration to ideas they might not agree with. As Oliver Cromwell famously pleaded, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."

If I was Laker management I would be a little upset. The
guys who won these last 3 games have had plenty opportunity
to play this way when Kobe and Bynum were not in the game.
We have lost games because the bench didn't demonstrate
this "teamwork and hustle" when needed.

If they played like
this every night instead of standing around watching Kobe,
Kobe wouldn't have to save so many games.

If Odom played like this every night, and if Gasol would play with Bynum the
way he plays with Odom we would be undefeated.

Woody - sorry, but everyone on the Lakers is human. Why do you excuse Kobe's natural human tendency to be selfish, but berate Pau, Odom, and the rest for their natural human tendency to lower their effort when someone else is hogging the ball? Do you really expect everyone to kill themselves for the team when they don't know when the offense is actually going to be run and when Kobe is just going to ignore all of them and do his own thing?

As for the 10 minutes or so when Kobe is out, it's not easy to just suddenly turn it on for a few minutes a game. Look at how often Kobe takes 10-15 shots to heat up. He started off 1-4 and 3-8 in that game where he ended up with 44 points. How often do other Lakers never even get past 8 shots to get into their own rhythm?


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