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Lakers forward Ron Artest has unenviable task of guarding Kevin Durant

Ron Artest #4

Seemingly every minute during the off-season, Lakers forward Ron Artest managed to attract attention. He showed up to his introductory news conferenceready to talk all things, including the Lakers, Michael Jackson, TMZ and the infamous Brawl at the Palace. He gave out his private cellphone number during his tour in China and spoke directly to fans. And he arrived in San Diego unaware the city had a baseball team.

Each appearance certainly sparked reactions, and brought a good old time. If nothing else, it showed he had moved beyond the toxic persona he once projected. Yet, intentional or not, it was during his appearance in San Diego that he provided the framework on how fans should view him in the upcoming season after signing to a five-year deal worth $33 million. With the Lakers coming off an NBA championship, Artest told the public to square the blame solely on him if the Lakers didn't repeat in 2010.

"They should. That's exactly what should happen if we don't repeat," he said at the time. "They won last year, and I'm the new addition. The fans expect to repeat. Everybody in L.A. expects a second ring. And if we don't then yeah, they should point it right at me, throwing tomatoes and everything."

The jury is obviously still out on whether fans should start collecting their vegetables, what with the Lakers beginning the playoffs Sunday, Game 1 in a first-round matchup against Oklahoma City. So even if the Lakers went 57-25 and haven't been playing their best basketball, they clearly have time to turn it around. I have  maintained several times that it's too early to say whether the Lakers benefit more from having Artest instead of Trevor Ariza. But it's safe to draw a few conclusions.

Despite his proclamation that he has "gotten used to" the triangle offense, Artest still appears lost in it. His 34.4% shooting from the field in April was his worst in any month this season. On the defensive end, it's a different story. After battling inconsistency partly because of his plantar fasciitis, Artest has held several marquee players under their season averages, including Pacers forward Danny Granger, Denver's Carmelo Anthony, Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala, Dallas' Shawn Marion, Memphis' Rudy Gay, Boston's Paul Pierce and Golden State's Corey Maggette

His next assignment involves trying to slow down Oklahoma forward Kevin Durant, who leads the league in scoring (30.1 points per game) and trips to the free-throw line(10.2 per game). It's an assignment that could have added intrigue considering the back-and-forth Lakers Coach Phil Jackson had with Durant over the Zen Master's assertion that Durant receives favorable treatment from officials.

Artest downplayed the matchup, saying, "I've been guarding the best player all of my career." Jackson did as well, saying, "I don't put expectations on Ron." Nonetheless, it's clear that Artest's playoff performance could determine whether fans laud him for instilling defensive toughness in the team, or throw tomatoes at him as if he performed a bad comedy routine. 

When a reporter revisited Artest's comments in San Diego, he didn't directly address them. But it rang clear that he attempted to distance himself from his earlier proclamations.

"We're at a point now where we're a unit," Artest said. "We're a strong unit. I'm going to hold myself accountable definitely for what I do, but we're definitely a unit. We don't feel losing is an option."

Even if Artest can't rewrite "Sacred Hoops,"his sketchy knowledge of the triangle offense won't make or break the Lakers. I had often joked during the Live Chat that the proper solution might entail his going to the far corner as teammates refuse to pass him the ball, essentially putting Artest on an island. Jackson didn't suggest that extreme, but he did note, "He does have to take good shots."

Defensively, Artest's impact could be huge. He's correct in saying that "it's going to come down to the Lakers versus Oklahoma City than any individual matchup," meaning there are other issues such as the Lakers' experience, the Thunder's speedy backcourt and the Lakers' size that could help prove the difference. Still, in the Lakers' 3-1 season series against Oklahoma City, Artest held Durant to an average of 25.8 points per contest, his fourth-lowest total against any opponent. Against a team that boasts the ninth-worst assist rate in the NBA, there remains a strong chance Artest's success against Durant could be the difference. 

--Mark Medina

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

Photo: Ron Artest (37) and Clippers guard Steve Blake battle for a rebound during Wednesday's game. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (33)

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Artest vs Durant - should be a great battle.

Lebron and his High School Championship experience will no doubt be the difference this year as he tries to lead his team for the umpteenth time to win an NBA ring.

I don't really count the Olympics as everyone knows it was Kobe in the clutch that won the gold.

Artest will need to watch how he handles skinny-boy....and if Phil had said that he would have been fined another $35,000.

Good morning crew:

It's playoff time. We're waiting all season for this process to start. Our beaming confidence is dimmed somewhat during the season by our own high expectations, sub-par bench play, lackadaisical performance at the end of the regular season and injuries to our key players. Nevertheless, the regular season is over! I don't think we're as well-oiled, has swaggers and hungry as the team we had last year but still, this team can get it done.

I think the Lakers will surprise OKC in the opening...4-0!

I lauded a praise for Q Richardson of the Heat yesterday who approached Paula Pierce at the end of the game after he went down untouched and complaint about his shoulder injury. What a drama queen he is!!! I was cracking when Q gave an interview after the game and said that, he went over to talk to the two actresses (Pierce and Garnett) to stop stalling the game. Q said he didn't touch Paula before he went down. He didn't back down from KG after taken cheap sucker elbow throw from KG. I'm less and less respect KG nowadays. He's a thug! However, I hope they made it though the Finals 'cause we need a revenge after our collapse in 2008.

I'm starting a bandwagon for trading for or sign Q Richardson for our team next year..He could be a good backup for Kobe. He can shoot 3s, play good defense, brave, is a tall guard (Phil's model) and hates the Celtics. He would look good in Lakers uniform!

Go Lakers!

One play at a time, one quarter at a time, one game at a time, one series at a time. Repeat. Go Lakers!

FAKERS TODAY
FAKERS TOMORROW
FAKERS FOREVER

Posted by: Eric Wrong | April 17, 2010 at 09:10 PM

WRONG AGAIN. YOU LOSE!

Quentin Richardson is my new favorite Heat player. I love that when Paul Pierce went down with another "season ending... or not" injury, Q went over and gave him a ration of smack and called him an actress.

Very nice.

WAH ! WAH !
No one is replying to my comments so I will post negative comments about the Lakers maybe they will reply.

Eric Wrong aka TJ Simers

ALRIGHT...lady's and Gent's start your engine, enough talk "LET THE GAMES BEGAIN" It's all about the LOVE, positive energy creates our REALITY. The UNIVERSE has spoken, the Lakers in a SWEEP.

Well, it's been a long preseason. Now the real season finally begins.

To tell the truth, I'm still hoping for a Lakers-Celtics finals, as nothing would please me more than to see the Lakers smack them down into a green pulp.

I want to see Paula Pierce fawl down and start acting like he's badly hurt and then have Ron Artest just walk over and smack him in the face and tell him to get his punk ass up.

I want to see Kevin Garnett try to punk Andrew Bynum and have Socks stay cool and go for 30 scoring at will over and around a slower KG.

I want to see Sasha harassing Jesus Shuttlesworth so much that eventually Allen gets so pissed off he throttles him and gets ejected (as others have in the past)

I want to see Sheed bricking 3's and getting tossed out for technicals at least once or twice.

I want to see KryptoNate try to take down Batman & Robin and fail miserably.

I want to see Red's Bastard Child posting smack here before the start of the series and then completely vanish before the end.

But if we have to see a Kobe smackdown on LeBron and Shaq finals, I'd settle for that as well.

Happy playoff day everybody.

Game Day.

Let the battle begin!

DFish,

First, how long did that take you to find to give a superior feeling first thing in the AM?
Baylor retired because of injury and he physically couldn't go. In a rational person's view that is quite different from what we are seeing from the Lakers this year but then I wouldn't expect you to have that type of view. Don't bother, you're going to say: "Fisher has shown that he was physically unable to go for the last two years blah blah blah blah etc..." We know the story.

Oh, and some of us don't spend our days memorizing statistics and crap from the Internet.

JR

I keep saying that Phil's earlier comments were intended to let Artest get under Durant's skin that much more easily. Ron is going to be so close to him for the next 4 or 5 games that he is going to be able to get joint custody of Durant's personal space. Now the question is going to be whether or not he can play smart and only pick up strategic Ts (we know that Ron is going to pick up one or two if he's off his meds). Hopefully the Lakers can score in a way that Ron's points are gravy and not something we have to depend on. I don't know if he can play both ends effectively, so I'm just lookin' for his D.

JR

mti312,

"Eric Wrong aka TJ Simers"

I laughed.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!


Talking points are mute... for now. Style points irrelevant... sort of.

The real season...great to share it with y'all.

Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson are my favorite Lakers to be interviewed; Fisher and Jackson because they're so thoughtful; Artest and Bynum because they're so off-the-cuff.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

Mark Medina,

"Lakers forward Ron Artest has unenviable task of guarding Kevin Durant"

I will, once again, respectfully question the energy of your headline.

We're talking about Ron Artest, remember?

Ron's not the kind of guy who wants to be put on the opposition's worst offensive player. He WANTS to be put on their best offensive player because that is Thriller's best opportunity to shine. A competitor like Thriller wants that challenge. So, there's nothing to be scared of. There's just an opportunity for Thriller to step and and for this team to shine.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

Game Day Prayer coming up soon...

I want to remind eveyone who is attending the game or knows someone attending the game that the crowd is LITERALLY the sixth man on the court.

The crowd matters, not figuratively, literally. As such, YOU matter. YOUR energy matters. It influences the game.

MAKE NOISE IN SUPPORT OF YOUR TEAM!!!!

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!!

Phred,

Just for the record, I didn't take it personally. I just thought it misrepresented the context of hundreds of posts, most of which are about the team, not the blog. No big deal. We're fine. It's all about the love.

Jolly

Nice lol

FIIIINNNNNNAALLLLLYYY here we are.

Games that count! I'll be sitting down hoping to see the Lakers use their size and versatility to wear down the Thunder. Put the ball in the post. Move bodies. Move the ball. Get good looks. Do what this big, skilled, experienced team has the tools to do - win, night in and night out by pounding the ball inside.

Execution, baby!!

Let's go Lakers!!!!

Tom D.

TOM’S KEYS TO THE GAME…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1. POINTS IN THE PAINT – The Lakers must dominate the paint on offense because that is where they have their greatest mismatch and advantage. Based on comments and practice reports, it does appear that Phil and the players are all on the same page as to the need to play inside-out basketball.
~
2. SHOT SELECTION – The Lakers must run the Triangle Offense and rely on great ball and player movement to get easy open shots rather than relying on isolations for Kobe where everybody stands around and watches. Running the offense will result in easier shots for everybody, including Kobe.
~
3. BALL PROTECTION – The Lakers must limit their turnovers and the best way to do that is to run the offense and move the basketball quickly via the pass to beat the double and triple teams rather than trying to dribble through traffic or beat multiple defenders. We must limit points of turnovers.
~
3. GREAT TEAM DEFENSE – Ron Artest and Derek Fisher are both excellent position defenders but neither has the foot quickness or speed to stay with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. That means that the rest of the team has to play solid team defense, especially Drew and Pau in the post.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

Heavenly Father, let us pray.

We come to you, Oh Father, with humble hearts filled with gratitude for your LOVE and presence in our lives.

We thank you for the bounty which you have provided us bringing us so much joy in our lives and a lifetime of memories of our Lakers which have colored so many experiences to form the fabric of our being. You have given us the most successful franchise in professional basketball with the most wins and hightest winning percentage: The Los Angeles Lakers--a team to which we feel a deep connection with and that connection brings us hope, commitment, and joy, qualities which bring us closer to you. Thank you.

We thank you for this blogmunity where we as Lakeraholics have a forum to share our passion, our LOVE for the Los Angeles Lakers and basketball itself. We thank you for the special individuals who have helped build this blogmunity over time. We thank you for our chaplain, Utzworld--the Banner Holder, who has so faithfully lead us in prayer over these years. His heart, his honor, his humility and his spirit will be missed and we wish for his early return and we ask you, Oh Father, to bless him and his family in all ways.

We thank you for the leadership of Mark Medina. When the Kamentzky Brothers left us mid-season, the blogmunity was filled with angst, confusion, fear and anger. There were discussions as to whether or not blog would even continue. Dark times for the blog. And then you brought us the nigh-supernatural prolificness of Mark Medina and his professional and ever-courteous personality. His talent, approachability, and intelligence have been a true blessing to the blog. His writing and insight brighten each of our day and we thank you for that.

And most of all, Dear Father, we thank you for your LOVE. As your children, each of us are spiritually born in your love. Each of us. You love us independent of what our sex, race, ethnicity, faith, wealth, intelligence... you love us all as your children... even those of us have made the choice to be a troll. All of us. Thank you, Father. Thank you for your LOVE and thank you for creating each one of us in the creative spirit of that LOVE.

Father, each moment of our lives you have given us an opportunity to know you and better know that LOVE and through that LOVE better understand the true motivations of your Divine Spirit in fueling the creation of each of our individual souls, for through knowing you we also know ourselves and also through that knowledge of the LOVE we evolve to be our BEST. Too often we do not take the time to better know you, Oh Father, but out of your constant and inexhaustable LOVE you never give up on us. After each squandered opportunity, one after another after another after another... you hold fast in your faith in us and you provide us another moment--another opportunity--to come closer to you, whether it be in the smile of a stranger, the human wonder of a beautiful piece of architecture, the color of a sunset, or the tension of a family relationship. EVERYTHING is an opportunity to become closer to you and to better understand your creative vision born of LOVE and our role in that vision.

We thank you for your inexhaustable LOVE, Oh Father.

You love each of us so much, Great Father, that you have given each of us the opportunity to FAIL, for without failure, we would not have the opportunity to also succeed--to know VICTORY, to be our BEST. Without freewill and consequences this life would be hollow, but it is not. It is meaningful and that meaning is illuminated by your LOVE.

That meaning is potentiated by your desire for each of us to be our BEST and that BEST is acheived through challenging ourselves to seize the moment and realize the opportunities you provide us each and every second to commit ourselves to knowing you through your creation.

One of the ways that each of us reach to be our BEST is through COMPETITION, through competing with ourselves and with our fellow man, for as iron sharpens iron, our bellow brothers and sisters challenge us to be our best--sometimes through support, sometimes through struggle.

Too often in this fallen world, we as humans let go of our opportunity to know you through competition--to be our BEST through compeition--by competing with one another out of selfishness and ego and pride, rather than LOVE and thus we fall away from you. But still you provide another opportunity to choose differently and to return to the path of VICTORY.

As Kobe Bryant has said, "Sometimes basketball is more than a game," because it is, when it born of a competitive spirit of LOVE--LOVE for the game, LOVE for your teammates, LOVE for the joy of competing, LOVE for desire to be one's BEST, LOVE for the experience of VICTORY!

The PASSION that fuels this blogmunity, that fuels Laker Nation, that fuels the Los Angeles Lakers, is born of that LOVE and that unquenchable desire to know VICTORY in being one's BEST in the fierce competitive spirit of giving one's all to feel that moment, that perfect moment, where one has given one's all to acheive one's BEST and in that moment, not with the mind, but with the HEART, one experiences a true understanding of the BRILLANCE of your creative design and our role within it, that perfect moment where everything seems to make sense, where everything is right, when one's heart radiates true JOY and one spirit abides in boundless PEACE: VICTORY!

Heavenly Father, as our beloved Lakers enter into these playoffs towards a singular goal--CHAMPIONSHIP--bless them with the full bounty and passion of your LOVE. Fill their hearts with a deep and unrelenting commitment to be their BEST in LOVE towards acheiving their goals. Lead them to VICTORY, O Father!

When their bodies feel exhaustion and their minds are stressed, bring them clarity, the clarity to know that they CAN dig deeper, bring them the faith that their BEST is an evolving TRUTH and that every moment is an opportunity to improve, every moment is an opportunity to be their BEST and, in doing so, an opportunity to bring themselves closer to you, O Father. Bring our team PEACE and renew their spirits after each game. Bring us to VICTORY, Oh Father, a VICTORY that can only come through CHAMPIONSHIP as that is our goal.

We thank you, Father, for the Oklahoma City Thunder, for through their presence and competition, they inspire us to be our BEST as we inspire them to be their BEST, but this time our BEST is destined for CHAMPIONSHIP.

We ask you to protect all players bodies--whether they be Lakers or our competitors--from injury. Please protect the health of all players and let them compete with the full capacities of their bodies and hearts driven by mutual respect and LOVE, not anger, hatred, and ego.

On this day, let us witness beautiful basketball, so that each of us in Laker Nation will feel inspired, will feel that joy, of witnessing VICTORY and in that witnessing, in some way SHARE in that VICTORY, and through the experience, be closer to you and your LOVE.

Amen.


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

GO LAKERS!!!!

***LAKER NATION THE TIME IS HERE
***LET THE NBA COWER WITH FEAR
***THE TIME HAS COME LET IT BE KNOWN
***NO ONE, TAKES THE LAKERS THRONE

** YEA THO I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF DARTH STERN
** I FEAR NO DEFEAT FOR KOBE BRYANT, THE BADDEST MAN
**IN THE VALLEY IS WITH ME***

*** MY NAME IS MAMBA24 AND I AM A LAKERHOLIC **

**ERIC WRIGHT YOU FREAKING TOOL AFTER TODAY YOU WILL LOOK LIKE A FOOL **
MAMBA24

rick- now perhaps i am confused as to which post of mine you were making reference. eh, i'm sure we'll get it figured out eventually.

Thanks MM for all the video.

Ron says at one point that it isn't about him scoring, its about the triangle being "in the flow" and mentions a game where he had 3 points and the Lakers one big.

It's something a lot of players have a hard time learning and most fans can't see. If the offense is "in the flow" somebody is scoring. It doesn't matter who. It takes 5 guys to keep it "in the flow" so everybody deserves credit when the Lakers are flowing.

These are things guys like Fish and Walton and Fox and Harper have brought to PJs Lakers. They tend to be way underappreciated, but they make sure the floor spacing is right and the ball is moving, and even if they go 0-5 they often have a lot to do with TEAM getting 100 points.

The guys who go outside the offense, and play out of position and take ill advised shots may go 3-6 in a game, but they screw up the whole flow.

When the Lakers look good it is a lot of hard to see things going right.

LakerTom,

Your keys to the game are right on target.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

Nice prayer Jon,

Amen.

Canada loves our ONE AND DONE FAKERS!!!!
Posted by: Eric Wright | April 18, 2010 at 09:51 AM

Whoa, dude, you have no idea how you have suddenly explained all with your foolish revelation that you are actually...(must suppress uncontrollable laughter)...a CANADIAN Laker hater!

No offense to our many, great Canadian Laker fans (love you guys/gals and I LOVE Canada), but even they know that there is a certain type there who has a neurotic inferiority complex relative to the US and to anything and anyone here that is powerful and successful...like our Lakers.

So dude, you've blown your cover. Here you had us all thinking that you're some huge, powerful, confident, malevolent force like the Wizard of Oz or some stud in South Boston or in the ghettos of Cleveland (which is like MOST of Cleveland)...and now you just ripped open the curtain yourself and revealed that you're just some Michael J. Fox-like quivering goo pipsqueak in some godforsaken, snow-encrusted basement way up in the frozen provinces.

Thanks, dude, this will make our victory over OKC all the more sweet knowing who and what you really are and why you keep taunting us. And hey, you're still welcome here, because when you're #1, you understand the pain of those hosers who just can't accept the reality of their having to face unending mediocrity. Seriously, we understand about your small peccadillo. No wonder you have come to the home of Mr. Clutch and the Black Mamba.

Eric Wrong is.....
Wrong again...as always.


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