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Caught in the Web: Lakers present a much different effort against Houston

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Game Stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan details how the Lakers played much better in their 109-101 victory Saturday against the Houston Rockets than the team did in Friday's game against Oklahoma City.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding details Pau Gasol's season-high 30-point performance.

--The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen details the Rockets' second-quarter letdown.

--NBA.com's Matt Miller outlines how the Lakers took advantage of injury-riddled Houston.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford observes that the Lakers' victory proved their embarrassing loss to Oklahoma City was just an aberration.


Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan reports that Lakers forward Lamar Odom doesn't believe players have tuned out Coach Phil Jackson, a sentiment he shared a day earlier with The Times' Broderick Turner.

--The Times' Turner says Rockets forward and former Laker Trevor Ariza has no regrets about joining Houston.


Columns

--The Times' T.J. Simers has a very interesting conversation with Lakers guard Derek Fisher about his struggling season and his future with the Lakers.

--The Orange County Register's Ding argues that the Lakers need their bench to listen more, especially Sasha Vujacic.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi reports that Jackson wants more from the team than just bouncing back from a loss.

--Even though Houston's defeat to the Lakers marked its fourth consecutive loss, The Dream Shake explains some of the positive developments on the Rockets' end.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky breaks down the Lakers' second-quarter run.

--Silver Screen and Roll chalked the Lakers' victory as a "pretty standard win for these Los Angeles Lakers, starting asleep, putting on a run to seemingly destroy any prospect of losing, yet then again very nearly losing the lead on the tail end. Nevertheless, it beats yesterday. Yawn. Playoffs, here we come."


More Lakers links

--The Times' Mark Heisler warns that any reports saying LeBron James will be going to (fill in the blank) after this season are all false, saying James won't make a decision until the NBA Finals are over.

--Among Fox Sports' 5 NBA Thoughts of the Week, one of them includes the prediction that the Lakers will stay on top in the Western Conference.

Tweet of the Day: "WORLD wants to see KobevsLeborn n the finals. this (MITE) b a finals preview yall turn n 2nite: check out magic/nuggets" -- Matt_Barnes22 (Orlando Magic forward Matt Barnes).

Reader Comment of the Day: "I can't get over the moon for a game against a band-aid torn version of the Rockets, but I certainly appreciated the vision on court after the débacle of the previous day." -- ZairaAmaterasu

-- Mark Medina

Photo: Kobe Bryant vies for a loose ball with Houston's Jermaine Taylor. Bryant's nine assists against the Rockets on Saturday night were two more than the Lakers had as a team in a 91-75 loss to Oklahoma City a night earlier. Credit: Dave Einsel / Associated Press

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

 
Comments () | Archives (28)

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Good morning.
My take on last night's game/win:
Gasol made plenty of "soft" shots. 11/17 for a team high 30 pts.
Mbenga played well but was never inserted back. Instead PJ chose to use Powell. Phil wonders why his players don't listen to him anymore?
Ariza should have stayed with the Lakers along with Artest. He stinks in Houston. 3/11 9-pts. 1/4 on 3-pt shots. But then again, with Artest on the team, he will get no PT.
Sasha DNP coach's decision. He must be in the doghouse.

Kevin Ding is right. The Bench needs to listen more.

Just another reason we need Luke Walton back. He runs the system and he's been around long enough that his voice lends more pressure for players like Sasha and Jordan to actually follow our coaches' advice.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!!

I'll say it again:

OK, Houston isn't very good but DJ was pretty good against 'em.
Not sure why he doesn't get more run even with Drew out.

Given how much time Drew has to get back to speed, we're gonna need some bangin'. Nobody bangs like da Mbenga man.

Mo bangin', Mo Mbenga in da mix


Jon K

Compelling report. The universe has obviously put you there to make sense of the insanity.

Too bad there's a 75% increase in living expenses here cause there are bars in Hollywood that could really use a philosopher bouncer.

go Mbenga!

I'm also glad that Derek has finally got out of his shooting slump. This may lead the haters to produce even more elaborate creative strategies to justify their continuted hate... which is always entertaining to observe.

Posted by Jon K

Jonny boy K are you kidding ???????????????? Fisher had more baskets in last nights game than in the 3 previous games combined !!! It is not a slump when you shoot under 40% for en entire season. Most nights he shoots 33% at best !!! How he is out of a slump which is not really even a slump !!!

VMan

Great observation about Mbenga! Actually you beat me to the punch.....great job

If I had to pick a MVP for last nights game would it be Pau Gasol? NO!

Would it be Kobe Bryant? Maybe...........Kobe is always MVP for this team

But the guy who had the biggest impact in last nights game and should wear the MVP honors?

DJ MBENGA!!!

Ironically he hasn't been mentioned much in most of the articles Medina posted. However, Mbenga was spectacular last night on the defensive end in the second quarter and in my opinion was the key to the Lakers run in that quarter that ultimately secured the game.

It's amazing that so many people can watch the game and so few people acknowledged the contributions of the man from the Congo.

MBenga is our best defensive center and remember it's defense and rebounds that wins championships

Jonkay,

I expect not to be liked by some people. Much like the people who hate on the Lakers for no darned good reason, some people will hate on me.

In short, I have better things to do with my time than care about your opinion.

Have I mentioned that I'm a big fan of Derek Fisher and Luke Walton and believe that BOTH of them provide major positive contributions to the team? How does that sit with you?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!!

Posted by: Jon K

Jonny boy K please explain to the class how Fisher and Walton provide major contributions to the team !!!! First Fisher is out of his so called slump you say. Which is not a slump, he just stinks. And noe both are major contributors. Neither are NBA caliber players. Fisher never has been, Luke looked like he could be, but that train has passed.

I remeber Mbenga playing against Orlando and DH, he did a great job holding DH down.

He was good last night.

I hope PJ gives him more minutes, so other teams can taste a bit of Mbenga, the congolese nightmare.

Cheers.

Awww.

I am watchin this from the halftime Milan-Lazio game in San Siro (don't ask... we're heading into OKC territory translated in soccer...) and I just saw you awarded my comment Reader Comment Of The Day.

awww.

Thank you MM.

This heals a lot, facing a true embarassing Milan.

Might even bring good luck for the next 45 minutes.

Have all a lovely Sunday.

;)

i don't care what trevor ariza tells broderick turner about being happy in houston, 'cuz we all know different. HE AND HIS AGENT SCREWED UP! same money as artest, same length of contract as artest. trevor and his agent just didn't know mitch had artest in his back pocket. trevor and his agent played hardball with the lakers and lost. while he's saying all the right things about being a member of the rockets.....you just know inside he's kicking himself. "damn, i screwed up, i got too greedy"! good luck trevor living in anonimity in houston!

JUST ANOTHER PRESEASON GAME...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“The end of the regular season is really just the pre-season for the playoffs.” –Rick Friedman
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Rick Friedman hit the proverbial nail dead on the head when he put into words the only plausible philosophy Lakerholics could successfully deploy as their beloved Lakers slog through the final dregs of the regular season. Love it or hate it, you get the feeling that whatever this Lakers team does or does not accomplish during the next two weeks really doesn’t matter. With home court advantage all but determined, there is really nothing left to do the rest of the regular season other than to stay healthy and get Andrew and Luke back.
~
It was refreshing to see both Derek and Jordan have excellent games, giving us productivity out of the point guard position that we have not seen for a long time. It was also great to see Pau rebound from his dismal game against the Thunder. While the Rockets injury depleted front court is not going to scare anybody, it was very encouraging to see Pau making a solid effort to protect the rim and help out when opposing players penetrated. His play last night reminded me of his play in last year’s finals and will hopefully be a sign of what is to come. If Pau can play like this and Drew can return and play like he was before his injury, we will be unstoppable.
~
I thought Kobe played a masterful game, getting everybody involved and almost posting a triple double. When Mamba plays like this, I find it hard not to think about him moving to point guard some time in the future. There are definitely times when Kobe and even Lamar seem to take over the job of setting up the offense and taking over as the playmaker. One of the beauties of the Triangle and the roster that Mitch Kupchak has put together is that positions and players are mostly interchangeable, which is we are such a matchup nightmare. Now if only Phil would stop benching the hot shooter in favor of maintaining consistent rotations…
~
Seriously, I can’t believe I actually clicked on a link knowing that it led to a T.J. Simers column but I really did. Even more surprising was that the article was overall well written and not at all negative, filled with the type of insightful quotes and observations that I normally associate with scribes that I respect like Kevin Ding. I do have to admit that Simers gave us an honest and fascinating inside look into Derek Fisher’s head and what his thoughts are about his play this season and the reality of his prospects with the Lakers after this year. In a way, I am still hoping that Fish will retire after this year and join Phil’s coaching staff as an assistant coach.
~
It was encouraging hearing that Drew is improving every day. It would be a big positive for the team if he can stay on schedule and be able to play in couple of weeks of regular season games to get his legs and timing back. There is no question that we’re going to need his low post power and presence in the paint if we want to repeat, particularly with the way that the other elite teams have bulked up and are now physically attacking Pau Gasol. We might be able to still win the West without Drew but we will need a strong performance from him in the finals if we want to repeat as NBA champions, especially if we end up facing LeBron, Shaq, and the Cavs.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

pj should start mbenga at 5 position along with gasol and LO unless untill big baby comes back from his monthly illness, perhaps they can built a substantial lead to start so our bench players can come in with less pressure on them. as we know our bench mob is unable to built a lead while trailing, but notice, when the lakers are comfortably ahead in points our bench mob performs a lot better. trade fish for a younger one spot.

I made a pledge to myself not to watch another Lakers's road games on this trip after watching the pathetic lack of effort game against OKC Thunders on Friday. But glad they won but please don't get on the repeat world champion wagon until this team can demonstrates that they're focus and raise their intensity level up a bit. Beating the injured ridden Rockets is not a hard task. They lost to the Clippers last week as well and is now an official bound for a lottery. Again, this team desperately needed a real PG, not because for running the Triangle O but to defend the opposing team PG. DFish was torched AGAIN by Brooks last night (At least in the first half) and I'm already written off Farmar as our next PG. The kid is fast but out of control most of the time.

I agree that DJ should get more playing time than Powell who gave us so little (Some offense but none on defense).

Go Lakers!!

Jonny boy K please explain to the class how Fisher and Walton provide major contributions to the team !!!! First Fisher is out of his so called slump you say. Which is not a slump, he just stinks. And noe both are major contributors. Neither are NBA caliber players. Fisher never has been, Luke looked like he could be, but that train has passed.
Posted by: DFish | March 28, 2010 at 11:38 AM

WOW! WOW! WOW!

Have you ever played an NBA game? It's like you're forgetting that these are professionals. They excel in what they do. Some times you have to take the little things that they do, on and off the court, into consideration. Luke with his passing and basketball IQ, and some awkward-layups here and there. Fisher, the steady rock and voice of the team, and we all know he doesn't choke during clutch time. Tell me, how is that not a major contribution?


Brylle

well put Brylle, i agree with you 100%. Yes D Fish has lost a few steps this year, but he is still very solid in many areas, and come crunch time he will be huge when counted on. so so many people do not look at all of the little things that don't show up in the nightly box scores. i am especially excited to get Luke back for the playoffs. the guy is smart, unselfish, a great passer and will be an extremely pivotal piece of our Championship puzzle.

pj should start mbenga at 5 position along with gasol and LO unless untill big baby comes back from his monthly illness... trade fish for a younger one spot.

Posted by: apujac | March 28, 2010 at 01:08 PM


Actually, a strained Achilles' Tendon isn't an illness. And "Big Baby" doesn't play for the lakers; he plays for the celtics.

Also, for your information, the trading deadline has passed.

Perhaps you should act like an informed fan of the NBA, since you're not a fan of the Lakers. That's the least you could do.

When we clinch the West (assuming we can't clinch overall) Home Court, PJ, please rest these guys!


Jonny boy K please explain to the class how Fisher and Walton provide major contributions to the team !!!! First Fisher is out of his so called slump you say. Which is not a slump, he just stinks. And noe both are major contributors. Neither are NBA caliber players. Fisher never has been, Luke looked like he could be, but that train has passed.
Posted by: DFish | March 28, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Dfish

Please explain to the class what you know about NBA ball other than fantasy stats. I agree Fisher isn’t “out of his slump” cuz of one good game, he is what he is as far as %’s. To say that Fisher or Walton makes no major contributions clearly shows you blinded by your ignorance or just plain imprudent.

To say that Fisher isn’t an NBA caliber player, well that would make you right and make people like Jerry West, Jerry Buss, Phil Jackson, and Jerry Sloan wrong. Three Jerry’s and a Phil can’t all be wrong just as there is no way you are right about anything with silly little comments as those.

"pj should start mbenga at 5 position along with gasol and LO unless untill big baby comes back from his monthly illness, perhaps they can built a substantial lead to start so our bench players can come in with less pressure on them. as we know our bench mob is unable to built a lead while trailing, but notice, when the lakers are comfortably ahead in points our bench mob performs a lot better. trade fish for a younger one spot.

Posted by: apujac | March 28, 2010 at 01:08 PM"

I would give that a try, but keep Artest in the starting lineup, I think he needs to go straight from warming up to playing, I think his ailments, especially the plantar fasciitis even if he claims he's not bothered by it, he denies everything in interviews, it's just his style....that way L.O. would still come off the bench for any of the 3, 4, or 5 position players who pick up the quick fouls...playing M'Benga as a starter might get that "rookie/automatic foul" stigma off his back even though he's been in the league about 4 years.....it's always who finishes the game that tells the tale of who is needed....according to my philosophy the dominiant team should play whoever they want and force the other team to adjust, but that hasn't been the case in the majority of the games. Yes, we will be beaten to the basket by the waterbug guards, but why do we have 21 feet worth of players at 3/4/5 if they can't keep their eye on the ball, and do the basics such as boxing out. Fish is not trade material, the Lakers need him to win the championship this year, then he is a free agent, un-restricted, he may be a player that a team picks up late in the year for the run for the ring next year. I don't know how Kobe would take to being called the point guard, although in the triangle, he does basically the same thing at times, Michael Jordan played the 3, which I believe positioned him in offense more off the ball, and moving side to side along the baseline, Kobe has shown he is more than capable of playing the 3. He does do a good job as the 1, however with his finger messed up and players supposedly hacking at it, his turnovers have been high. I sense Jordan Farmar will seek his own identity elsewhere next year, as the budget will be tight, and they would not be willing to pay enough to seek a better environment elsewhere, think of the Suns, he could learn a little from Nash and not have to put up with all the pressure he gets here. Sasha, Morrison, and Walton (maybe) are all expendable as players. But how about this...How high is Walton's basketball I,Q.? Could we throw his name into the mix of potential replacements for Phil. Yes he is still young, and has a few more years of play left in him, however, honestly, I believe the players would respect him. We know Byron is out there, and B and KB were close when they sat on the bench together, before KB became a starter, and B was finishing out his career, I believe,. The edge would go to B because the Buss men wan't showtime back, and everyone on staff now, and Fisher and Walton would probably stay with the Triangle. Yes, I know Walton would have to retire, but he's around 29 years old, if he's a candidate, then the pay could be equal his current salary or less, and with a clause that if he does not work out then he goes on staff as an assistant, and not into Limbo-land, like Rudy T. after he had his meltdown. KB24 needs to go under the scalpel the day after his last game this year, even if he misses the start of next season it would give more playing time for others, I say that tentatively because look at the Shannon Brown situation, he can opt out, and I'm sure that he could get into the 3.5 to 4 million a year range easily, there's the old business tactic of making your company stronger by raping the other company of their talent.

GOOD NEWS... NOT SO NICE NEWS...

THE GOOD...
I joined in on the live game chat last night ~ first time ever. I was humbled by the warm welcome from MM, Mamba, LAPA and so many others. I also have to confess that my fears that it would be too much drama (via LakerTom warnings) were unfounded. It was fun interacting with you all as we cheered on the game. Not easy to watch the game, read the posts, AND type my own comments, but it was fun.

By the way, LAKERTOM. I have a saying that goes like this. "The highest form of praise is what others say about you behind your back." You should know that the community of live-game chatters made several comments about you that revealed the level of respect they have for you. Good bunch of Laker fans around here!


NOT SO NICE NEWS...
In my opinion, this poster who goes by the name DFish has become dysfunctional when it comes to honest perspective. His comments are so biased and close-minded that it is difficult to reconcile much of what he says with reality. His tasteless attacks on fellow posters (Jon K material is wearisome) is inappropriate.

I am a nice guy. Some people even say a VERY nice guy! lol But, I want to suggest that DFish comments be left unanswered. His nonsense is a perfect example of what I have previously lamented as the reason some of us are on the fence regarding this blog. In the spirit of restraint and dignity, perhaps a BandWagon is called for which declares we will not interact with the redundancy of the class dunce(s).


LAST POINT...
As the nick-nack injuries continue to mount (add Artest's foot to the list, despite his laughable postgame "nothing happened" comment), it is clear that the Lakers will not be at full strength during the playoffs. I think we are headed for a bumpy ride (certain that more aches & pains await in the playoffs), which makes the potential championship that much sweeter. But let us beware and be aware that these nagging injuries will cost us a game or two along the way. Let's not lose our joy on the journey by failing to accept limitations which dictate reasonable expectations.

Our playoff chant should not be FO-FO-FO-FO (borrowing from Moses back in the early 80's). Our playoff chant should be a single, simple "FO". We need to win FO series,,, period. Whether a sweep or 7-game nail-biter, let's stay focsued on "FO!"

Mike

Laker Mike - I'm glad you enjoyed the live chat and welcome here once again. It's great to have a new member on board and I hope you enjoy visiting the Lakers blog.

I'm pretty approachable so if there's a question you have, a suggestion you want to make or just want to chat, I'm all eyes and ears.

MM

LakerMike,

"NOT SO NICE NEWS...
In my opinion, this poster who goes by the name DFish has become dysfunctional when it comes to honest perspective. His comments are so biased and close-minded that it is difficult to reconcile much of what he says with reality. His tasteless attacks on fellow posters (Jon K material is wearisome) is inappropriate.

I am a nice guy. Some people even say a VERY nice guy! lol But, I want to suggest that DFish comments be left unanswered. His nonsense is a perfect example of what I have previously lamented as the reason some of us are on the fence regarding this blog. In the spirit of restraint and dignity, perhaps a BandWagon is called for which declares we will not interact with the redundancy of the class dunce(s)."

That's an interesting proposal. While we can always scroll past the same old stuff that this guy spews, it can become tiresome to do so. He, and now his alter ego, Jonkay, have quite a strange obsession with Jon K. It's like they're trying to use Jon K to draw attention to themselves...talk about a desperate cry for attention.

You can try to respond to him, but as I've learned, there's no point in trying to reason with the unreasonable. Don't waste your breath.

THANKS MM!
--Just to be clear, last night was my first time to live-game chat.
--I've been visiting the blog for a while (reading since '07, posting since '09)

Mike

MM:

I do have a question, that perhaps you could ask of a Laker coach, behind the scenes at practice. DJ Mbenga plays defense with energy that is contagious and often translates to positive performances from EVERYONE on the court with him. My question is this ~ Why is it that DJ fails to get mintues (3 to 5 per half) in relief of Pau/Drew? What is about his game that keeps coaching staff from using him on a regular basis?

Thanks!
Mike

VMan,

"The universe has obviously put you there to make sense of the insanity."

God, I hope so. I hope there is some deeper logic/meaning to this odd journey.

I just spent two hours with the same guy who fired me on my birthday screaming vitriol at me, re-hired me the next day, and today wants me to become manager.

Pure madness. I'm surrounded by people with Axis II personality disorders on a daily basis. It is a shocking look into the underbelly of Middle American society for a kid who was born in Newport Beach, grew up in Agoura Hills, went to school at UCLA, and was generally taught to first look for the best in people.

Man, there are a lot of people out there who are not very evolved as human beings. Lots of 'em. And they tend to gravitate towards anti-social and criminal behaviors, especially when those behaviors are considered "normal" within the community that rears them.

This experience has certainly expanded my understanding of the scope of human behavior.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

"Why is it that DJ fails to get mintues (3 to 5 per half) in relief of Pau/Drew?"

He is offensively unskilled.

p ang,

"He is offensively unskilled."

But is improving, is a talented blocker and hustles.

I'm definitely in the pro-Mbenga camp.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

Zaira - You're welcome. You deserved it. You had some great insight there

Laker Mike - My apologies. Just wanted to wish you a welcome anyway at least for joining the live chat for the first time. To answer your question about DJ, he had limited minutes in the rotation for a few reasons. One, Pau and Andrew are mainly backed up by Lamar. Two, PJ has cited DJ's conditioning level as a hindrance to devote a significant amount of bench minutes to him. And if you can only go for a 2-3 minute stretch, kind of dilutes effectiveness.

MM


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