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Lakers hope rest pays off today in Game 3 against Utah

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It's been four days since the Lakers last played, a long span that's welcomed within these circles, given the ongoing injuries. And that period of rest couldn't have been more beneficial than to Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who has been monitoring the lateral meniscus in his right knee in the Western Conference semifinals.

No period of rest, he's been told by doctors, will significantly heal his injury. The Lakers also feel they owe it to each other to play through the pain as they pursue another NBA championship, what with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant nursing a sore right knee, sprained left ankle and arthritis in his right index finger, Lamar Odom nursing a a sore left shoulder and sprained right knee and Ron Artest playing with a sprained left thumb and assorted finger injuries. But that doesn't mean this four-day period didn't prove critical for Bynum, who's still taking the extra steps to ensure his injury doesn't become worse.

"It's been big," Bynum said. "I have to stay off of it and keep the swelling down." That's why he received treatment for most of Thursday's practice, but he maintained he won't be limited for Saturday night's game, a welcome development considering he scored 17 points on seven of nine shooting along with 14 rebounds and four blocked shots in the Lakers' 111-103 Game 2 victory Tuesday over Utah. Now comes the point in which Bynum has to apply mental toughness for Game 3, a quality he said has helped him get through the pain.

"Don't look back; just keep going," said Bynum, who added that his sprained left Achilles' tendon is fully healed. "If it gets swelling, just put a bunch of treatment in and let's go."

The rest, undoubtedly, has also benefited Bryant, who added, "We'll be ready to go tomorrow." Even if he welcomed the extra days of rest, Bryant had actually physically turned a corner before that point. He specifically pinpointed the time between Games 4 and 5 in the Lakers' first-round series against Oklahoma City in which he noticed his knee improving tremendously.

And the statistics support Bryant's timeline. In Game 4, Bryant didn't even attempt a shot in the first quarter and finished with a quiet 12 points on five of 10 shooting. In Game 5, his box score suggested another quiet performance, with 13 points on a four of nine clip, but he set the tone defensively by limiting OKC guard Russell Westbrook to 15 points on four of 13 shooting and facilitating the offense.

In the last three games, Bryant has returned to become the dominant scorer while also maintaining that proper balance in getting others involved. But there's no doubt the Lakers welcome the fact that Bryant has the ability to create on his own, and scoring at least 30 points for the last three games.

That's the formula that's proved so successful against the Jazz thus far. In addition to Bryant's points, the Lakers have dominated inside by scoring 118 points in the paint. Lakers forward Pau Gasol has averaged 23.5 points per game in the first two contests. And in the first two games, Bynum, Gasol and Odom each grabbed at least 10 rebounds apiece, a feat that hasn't happened since the 1985 Portland team accomplished it in a playoff matchup against Dallas.

With the Lakers having that size advantage against Utah, the approach seems pretty simple. But as Gasol says in the video below, it all comes down to how the team executes its skillset.

"We can't be too confident," Gasol said. "We understand how hard it's going to be there."

All series long, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson had described the matchup with the Lakers and Jazz as a matchup that will come down to execution. The teams are very familiar with each other, what with playing four regular season games and meeting each other in the past four postseasons. So even with the return of Utah forward Andrei Kirilenko (strained left calf) and an electric atmosphere at EnergySolutions Arena, Jackson appeared more worried with his team's ability to sustain the same effort than trying to adapt to any strategic changes.

"We pretty much know this team," Jackson said.

It doesn't just come down to how the Lakers come out after a long stretch between games, and they how they maintain their dominance inside. The Lakers' reserves have allowed Utah to creep back in both Games 1 and 2 in the fourth quarter, making what appeared to be dominating victories into close contests.

--Mark Medina

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

Photo: Utah center Kyrylo Fesenko is fouled by Lakers forward Lamar Odom (not pictured) as forward Andrew Bynum defends during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
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OMG! Kevin Ding reports, referee assignments for Lakers-Jazz Game 3 tonight are Joey Crawford, Dick Bavetta and Greg Willard.

Crawford and Bavetta on the same crew? Damn. We thought the fix was in for last night's game between the Cavs and Celtics.

This should be really weird.

hooray! fan stuff related to the basketball game!

Sorry Rick, but the refs called more fouls against the Cavs than they called on the Celtics. And that was in a 29-point victory. Refs don't put the ball in the basket or force KG and PP to walk up and down the court on every possession.

I can't help but look ahead to our matchup against the Suns in the WCF. As much as I disliked the Suns during the Smush/Kwame era, I really can't hate on the current Suns team. They're one of the best stories of this season. On the verge of being blown up at the trade deadline, they regroup and now are on the verge of making it to the WCF.

The guy I'm most impressed with is Grant Hill. How good is the Phoenix medical staff to make this guy look 10 years younger? It's a shame that we couldn't sign him because I think he would've been the solution to our starting PG dilemma. He's already shown he can guard PG's like Andre Miller in the first round using his length. He also has good ballhandling skills and now can shoot fairly well.

Hopefully we can sweep this series because Phoenix looks like they're gonna sweep theirs.


TONIGHT would be a statement. Tonight would start the swagger. Tonight would put all issues to rest, leaving the one, just win.

This series is won, but the statement is important to stop the conversation, the questions. Let's do this.

Jon K says:

"In contrast, they are not a very mentally tough team, you keep it close early, they tense up, their decision-making falters and they self-sabotoge.

It's pretty simple actually."


The stuff that comes out of your mouth is pretty funny sometimes. Have you watched the Cavs this year? The Cavs (with Lebron) are 32-9 in clutch games this year (games that are within 5 points in the last 5 minutes), and are +116 in those situations. The Lakers (with Kobe) by comparison are only 13-11, and only +19. So the Cavs have been FAR better in close games than the Lakers have been.

It's amazing the random stuff you just make up because you want to believe it.

http://www.82games.com/0910/09CLE11.HTM#clutch
http://www.82games.com/0910/09LAL5.HTM#clutch
http://www.82games.com/0910/CSORT11.HTM

I think you have to give the Cavs their due, they're tough this year. I'm actually looking forward to seeing them play the Magic, that series will be a monster.

If the Lakers see the Cavs in the finals, we'll have to play much better than last year to win.

A player who is really impressing me is Wesley Matthews....with his size and skills, I wonder if he could play point. 6'5" and 220 lbs (hey, Phil likes big guards who are not Chinese)....son of Wes Matthews, so the athletic pedigree and guidance was there. I can still remember the encounter that his dad, Wes had with the "X-Man", Xavier McDaniel of the former Seattle Supersonics....I can still remember Wes on the floor with X's hands choking him....and they call Artest out of control???? Now that the Sonics got ripped out of town by "Mr. Roboto" Clay Bennet...it's a shame that some jerseys and banners have no place to hang...Gary Payton, X-Man, Tom Chambers, etc, a championship banner...Stern is such a puppet to let stuff like this happen.....and we have to have the Clippers playing right next door....they should have built an arena when they built that great baseball stadium, that place is happening. and we have to have the Clippers around when Orange County could use them, Honda Center...all cuz Stern lets Donald Sterling pretend like he is important....he may be worth more than Buss in terms of investments, dude owns the Wilshire corridor...but why not focus on your team, cuz you're making money on it or the losses make for a good tax writeoff.

Being the 3rd game in the series and to be held in Salt Lake City, this is considered a L game. If Lakers win it, that will be pure gravy. Mormons have been praying for the last four days so while the flipping switch team, Lakers are just busy tweeting their fans and/or doing fashion in Williamsburg's festival. As usual, they are our dysfunctional Lakers always egging for drama.

With the entrance of AK-47, our twin drones are still at the advantage. It is the Lakers lethargic approach of the no-match game could be the worst enemy. They'll try to shoot lights out till they bricks them out, however if Kobe becomes a facilitator and Odom is active in the post, we'll win the 3rd game. Do we have a Dragic in the 2nd unit? Oh we wish that miracle. Both can do the Dragic style and even surpass if only Shannon and Farmar were international players. Their style is a freestyle basketball and winged it while playing with the big boys. They don't have any idea what to do with the ball adjust while dribbling between the legs ala' Kobe. If there are no opening, they go on a hit or miss shot. If they do an early shot, it is a perimeter shooting , a lazy dozy set up shot afraid to get hurt in a penetrating lay-up or possible pick and roll, as such it ends up not as efficient as Dragic but a tragic T/O. lol!

It was reported in the LAT this morning, Artest was tweeting is dissatisfaction with PJ. PJ loves to rave himself through the media, coach thru the media, negotiate his contract through the media. It is an indirect approach of motivation or criticism. The best approach is a direct contact where a player follows the coaching instruction. Knowing the explosive character of these two individuals, I think the indirect approach may be the most appropriate one. Can you imagine if they disagree with each other and put their ego over the team's interest at the middle of the competition, the team suffers. With Artest tweeting and PJ yakking thru media, it is the best remedy for both world, I think both of them get the message through traditional or non-traditional networking.

Question: I know we have the absolute best bigs in the game at building walls in the paint without fouling the opponents. Nevertheless, we saw the OKC series. Throughout games 1-4, Collisons ability to draw charges either kept the thunder in the game, put them back in the game, or kept the Lakers out of it.
I'm not suggesting that Pau, Drew, and Lamar start floppin all over the place, but what happened to Fisher's propensity for being able to get set in front of driving opponents of all size? His veteran experience garners much more respect from the refs than either farmar or brown, and Artest's style of defense does not involve taking charges at all. We all know we don't want Kobe taking unnecessary contact, so Fisher is who needs to step up in this department. I think we've gotten 1 charge call the entire playoffs. What do you think?

Ricky,

Hola. Estoy bien y usted?

you wrote:

heyyy hobbit, que tal, como va todo!!!!!!!!!!!

Welll, Spain is not the largest country in the world. "Aux contraire mon amie", Spain is a little country (40 Mio) with many problems actually (economy, job......) and my appartment is not bad (alongside the beach and that, for me, IS LIFE, i cant live without the beach)

KG and Pau can play center and PF both. Kobe can run the point (wade, too) For me, is a very competitive team.


my response:

1st. mon ami. amie is feminine and I'm not a girl. :)

2nd. Yes, I know Spain is not the largest country. That was my point.
You are making statements that are provably wrong and you're not
paying attention to this fact because you're making your statements
based upon emotions.

3rd. KG is a PF. When he was younger and in Minnesota he played PF/C.
This link: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/teams/roster?team=bos
gives the roster for the Boston Celtics.

While you can argue that he *can* play C, the question is *DOES* he play
center *AND* is he good at it? Another question would be *AGAINST*
whom does he play C?

4th. re: Kobe & Wade. The question is not whether they have the skill set
to play pg. They do. The question is whether or not that is the best position
to play them. The *FACT* is that they are both shooting guards. That is the
position that they are listed at. That is the position that they play. The
purpose of All-NBA awards is not to talk about the positions that a player
*COULD* play, but to talk about positions that they spend the majority of
their time playing. You *COULD* list Kobe as a SF, but that's not where he
spends most of his time. You *COULD* list Kobe as a PG, but normally
D-Fish or J-Farmar are on the court with him and they are the Lakers PG's.

Does that make things clearer?

you also wrote this: BB is a sport. Sport is basically emotions and passions. We cant see BB since a scientisc point of view. CP3, D-Will, Kobe, Wade and Lebron should l be and amazing team too.

my response: With respect, you view is too narrow. It is a *FACT* that when
you shoot the basketball it either goes into the hoop or it doesn't. Your
emotions/passions have nothing to do with it. If you *FEEL* that Kobe is
a point guard, and Phil Jackson plays him as a shooting guard ... then your
emotions/passions are wrong. Provably wrong and nobody cares how you
feel except for you. You are making statements that are *provably* wrong
based upon historical facts.

an example: You listed Ricky Rubio as a candidate for 3rd team all-nba.
He doesn't play in the NBA. Therefore, he CAN NOT be considered as a
candidate for an all-nba team. If you are going to consider Ricky Rubio as
a candidate for a *current* all-nba team, then you might as well consider
Magic Johnson as a candidate for a *current* all-nba team and MJ as a
candidate for a *current* all-nba team.

Does this make sense?

Gracias por la invitacion a Barcelona, pero no soy un hombre alto, delgado y
blanco. jejejeje

Utah's championship hopes really rest on how the ping-pong balls bounce in this year's lottery. If they get one of the top picks in the draft, they can become a legit championship contender. If not, they're doomed to get knocked out in the 2nd round every year.

Humanomaly,

I am sure Mitch K will be busy this summer in focusing on PG without trading Drew or LO. Besides Wesley Mathews, there are also others like the Euros we enumerated; Steve Blake, Will Bynum, Cj Watson, Earl Watson. We need good perimeter shooting and defense in the mid court. Look at the development of Dragic and Rondo, they became serviceable PG. Lately, Lakers have been using Kobe as the playmaker or LO doing more on facilitating. Good for the playoffs but not for the season game, it will add to wear and tear of Kobe. The future PG should attract attention thereby freeing Kobe to rove around while twin towers are also a threat in the inside.

Hola Hobbit,

Bueno, yo soy blanco, no muy alto - mediano -y bastante delgado, pero a mí el color de la gente me importa un pimiento, como se suele decir en España. Siento que no seas una chica, siempre es más agradable porque yo soy un chico, aunque bastante feo.

I think you are a warrior of civil rights or somethink like that. I believe in one race only: THE HUMAN RACE. You can visit Barcelona when you want. You are, while i tell you, my angelena connection. Hope i can be you Catalanish connection, too.

EJK - Grant Hill looks 10 years younger out there b/c he's hardly played a full season in 10 years. the guy who i'm impressed with is Steve Nash. the guy is playing arguably the best basketball of his career, and Fish will have no prayer of guarding him in the next series. all we can hope for is this team to cool off even slightly before we meet up with them. wow are they looking amazing.

kimcheese,

That's a good observation. The ability to draw charges is one of the more underrated skills in the game today. If you're an undersized big, that's probably the best way to protect the rim.

I don't know why Fish has been drawing less charges these days. Maybe he's trying to preserve his body b/c it's a contract year? :) Hopefully he signs for the vet's minimum and comes back as our backup PG next year. I'd like to have a big PG, in the Ron Harper mold, start for us next year.

You Korean?

LakerTom,

I think Hobbit found a new pal in Ricky, you're no longer in his scope. Ricky is also enjoying Hobbit sniping in Spanish so they have a connection there, perhaps they are related from the lineage of Felipe and Isabela. Ricky thinks it is Gasol as the player that makes the Lakers tick while you consider the beast as the great difference. Majority in this blog still thinks it is Kobe and without Kobe in the lineup, we'll not be competing in this playoffs but going for draft lotto. Well as you said the blog sync like PJ sing his wonderful praises through media, Artest tweets, Justa makes the revelation, Larry banned himself what is knew my friend in 2010 except who are getting older and poorer with the crash of the Stock Market. lol!

Well guys, I'm not gonna be able to read the comments today or catch the game (maybe 2nd half) because it's my son's 6th birthday party today! I just had to come on here to see if Mamba came back.

Welcome back Mamba!!!!!!!!!! Glad to see you!!!!! Now I don't have to go jump off a cliff or anything lol!!! You have to know by now that you are the most beloved member of this blog, so please don't do that again. We all got your back buddy!

Game Day!!!!!!!!!!!! Lookin forward to a 3-0 series lead baby!!!!!!!! Let's kick the crap outa some bootah today!!!!!!

Man the Crabs suck, was hopin they would lose yesterday.

Okay, so I was just gonna ask everyone where the "jimmy" came from in princess jimmy. Then I wrote about it being a pun on "King James". Then I was like "oh, james - jimmy, I get it" LOL! God I'm slow sometimes!

kimcheese,

It is only Fisher whose willing to draw charges. Our Lakers are too Hollywoodish to absorb contacts. They have to do it with finesse. At this point Fisher maybe conserving his energy as what EJK suggested. I sometimes get frustrated on how the Lakers give uncontested lay-ups, too afraid to foul and when they foul they don't foul hard.

The Suns are looking good, they may end their series on Sunday. Lakers needs to win Game 3 at all cost. Right now, the Suns are playing better basketball than the Lakers. Don't think about the Finals just yet, we need to win our conference first. As one blogger noted, Mark Medina might have jinxed the Lakers when he posted a thread with the survey who the Laker fans prefer to face in the Finals, Celtics or Cavs.

Troy B,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUR SON and Happy Mothers Day to your wife and to all mothers in the blog.

MM

i do not want to go close to the word "dense". let's say un-informed, or U chose it.

All NBA DEFENSE teams R different then ALL NBA TEAMS: the best players in the NBA. first, second and 3rd. do some research. is 2-3 days old and i was able to find it even on my iPod.

this is BB. U need to brush UP. stop being defensive. Rick and I still love U.

as U know, it's all about LOVE

ouchhhhhhhh
I thought you had asked about the all-defensive team, not all-nba team

MM

Ok Hobbit and Wallace,

Sleep time for me. 21:51 in Barcelona. See you guys.

Edwin, thank you very much brother! My son's bday is actually on cinco de mayo today is just when we're having the party, but the well wishes are very much appreciated! A great present today would be to go up 3-0 on bootah! It would make my wife very happy (as in I won't be grumpy lol).

Ricky,

re: all-nba teams. On the other hand, I could be wrong. [grin]

MM

i did not know that Pau "corn flakes" Gasol would qualify for ANY defense team. obviously mentioning "fake flakes" should have clarify the context.

and regardless what i asked, U still did not mention the ALL NBA TEAMS. correct? it's not that is as important as photo shots. but at least had some Lakers reference to it. especially the First Team. because the Third Team will be the bench warmers.

Hey guys we got a new post up

MM

Ouchhh, corn flakes are healthy than your red meat. Pau is a very deceiving player, I thought Luke is the high IQ laker, no it is Pau. He always fall and get beaten in the post. however, he is not easily discouraged by temporary set backs. He pivots, hooks with the left or dissed on the right flank. He knows his basketball next to Kobe. Because of his corn flakes style in the post, he survives major injuries, he does not stretch his body to the limit but present in the closing minutes of the 4th where he makes those last second follow ups for Kobe's miss. Drew is our beast who will dunk the ball purposely but later hurts his meniscus knee then sits down at the closing minutes of the bell. Which one is corn flakes the one sitting down or the one who is playing?

No matter how good is Pau, he is not the chise' player reveled by Ricky. He is just an ordinary Star in NBA not yet legendary star who number will be hung in the rafters. It is too early to say how he will be perceived in the Laker world after his playing days.

Stay classy Jon K.

I gave you facts, you reply with baseless insults.

Pretty typical.

Jon K - This comment is unacceptable

"Go stuff your mouth with asbestos and then jump off a tall bridge into a very shallow creek."

I'm deleting the comment. You've had a good track record at least since I've been here, but don't make this kind of personal attacks.

MM


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