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Five things to take away from Lakers' 114-106 victory over Phoenix Suns

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1.Kobe Bryant continues to make progress on his right knee. - This isn't because Bryant scored a team-leading 25 points on a nine of 19 clip in the Lakers' 114-106 victory Friday over the Phoenix Suns. It's because his minutes (34) and involvement in other areas (seven rebounds, three assists) shows he's returning to his normal self. Another sign that Bryant's making progress is he seemed to enjoy matching Grant Hill's hot shooting (21 points on 10 of 17 shooting) and testing the foul limits. The next development I'm interested in seeing entails how Bryant's body responds next week when the Lakers play four games, including Sunday against Golden State, Tuesday against Memphis, Wednesday at Sacramento and Friday against Toronto.

2. Pau Gasol shows leadership All pre-season Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has prodded Gasol into taking charge of the team. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, he gathered together Ron Artest, Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown and Steve Blake together and appeared to give them advice. The Lakers entered the quarter leading 90-79, but no lead against Phoenix ever feels safe, considering the Suns shot 44 of 93, went nine of 24 from three-point range and featured five players cracking double digits, including Hill (21), center Robin Lopez (18), shooting guard Jason Richardson (17), backup guard Goran Dragic (15) and Jared Dudley (10) as well as nine assists from Steve Nash. Gasol helped the Lakers secure the win by dishing out five of his team-high nine assists in the fourth quarter, including plays that led to two Barnes' three-pointers, feeding Bryant and Lamar Odom inside for layups and finding Derek Fisher open for a jumper. Oh, and he also contributed with 21 points on 10 of 17 shooting with eight rebounds, falling short of the triple double.

Gasol's shooting stroke looked very smooth, resulting in numerous mid-range J's. His footwork remained unstoppable resulting in a left hook over Lopez. And his patience in letting the play develop while posting up paid off numerous times.

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3. Lamar Odom isn't missing a beat - KCAL-9 Lakers analyst Stu Lantz correctly observed that some fans take for Odom's contributions for granted. It's easy to fall into the trap with this game because he's provided all throughout the training camp. He had a field day against Hedo Turkoglu in the post and on the perimeter, scoring 18 points on eight of 12 shooting, along with 17 rebounds and five assists. After nailing a three at the top of the three in the second quarter, he grabbed a rebound and fired an outlet pass, resulting in a Shannon Brown layup. He drove the lane one time and immediately noticed traffic so he kicked it out to Bryant for the open shot. And he relentlessly owned the boards against an undersized Phoenix team, most notably when he grabbed a rebound off an Artest missed shot and converted on an off-balance layup.

Although he's recorded seven turnovers in the first two games, Odom avoided getting into foul trouble against Phoenix, which prevented Jackson from having to play Theo Ratliff heavy minutes as well as give rookie Derrick Caracter playing time.

4. The Lakers continue to show trust in their bench - It's amazing to already see the work Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak put in this offseason already reap the benefits. Shannon Brown provided another energy game, scoring eight points on four of eight shooting, while Barnes had 11 points, including three of four from three-point range. Blake, Barnes and Brown entered the game late in the third quarter, and partly contributed to the team going on a 9-2 run to create a 87-79 cushion. Barne made a key defensive rebound that resulted in Blake converted from long-range, and Brown stole a poor Dragic pass resulting in a thunderous two-handed slam. Clearly, Jackson has confidence the bench can secure and widen leads, and it's also clear that Sasha Vujacic's zero minutes through two games will prove to be the norm rather than the exception this season.

5. The Lakers show potential to be a better three-point shooting team than last year: It's only two games so obviously this statistic remains far from definitive. But the Lakers' 47.9% mark from three-point range shows the team has better personnel to shoot from three-point range than last year's team, which went 34.1% from the field. Barnes finished three of four from three-point range, Blake and Bryant went two of five, Artest went three of eight, Fisher hit one of two and Odom nailed his sole attempt.

It's going to be a nice skill for the Lakers to acquire considering that wasn't their biggest strength last season, and it's going to give teammates fits considering how dangerous the Lakers frontline usually shows. The Lakers should approach the game, however, looking to get the ball in the lane and post first, before settling for outside. Working inside-out instead of outside-in will also help the Lakers' perimeter shooters develop a better rhythm as well.

Stat of the Night: 1,100. The number of wins for Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, who became the fastest coach in NBA history to achieve such a feat.

Quote of the Night: I'm a great rebounder." -- Lakers foward Lamar Odom to KCAL-9's John Ireland

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives down the lane against Suns point guard Goran Dragic in the first quarter Friday night. Credit: Matt York/Associated Press

Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom looks to pass over the defense of Suns forward Hedo Turkoglu in the first quarter Friday night. Credit: Matt York / Associated Press

 
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Hey guys. Sorry this wasn't published until now. I had this written and already to go last night, but it wasn't edited until now

MM -

It's all good. Loved the analysis. I didn't know that we were doing so well with 3PT% - if we can shoot 40% as a team, we're going to be a very tough guard for other teams. And I think you are absolutely correct in noting that it is better to play inside-out than outside-in.

Question for you - did you notice if the team has done anything together (as a group) outside of basketball? I wanted to know if they've done anything for building camaraderie off the court, because they are playing wonderfully as a unit.

LakerPeace -

I saw some highlights of the Cleveland game this morning, and I saw Hollins had a SUPER block during the game. I don't really know much about him, nor have I really followed him professionally. Is he a good defender? Does he rebound well? How would he match up (physical features) with Character?

I share your worry about health for Andrew and Theo. I hope they can both be relatively injury free (knees wise) for the rest of the season.

Odom does look great. But I'll be glad when Drew comes back so the Lakers can cut back on his minutes. Since he didn't have the summer off...I'm concerned about fatigue in the playoffs.

3pt shooting is improved because of better ball movement with Blake, plus Ron Ron is more comfortable.

Great to see Pau dishing. The Triangle is so set up for a passing big man, so when we start cutting or get open at the 3, it's required to hit the open man, and Pau (always a good passer), seems to be getting comfortable with the offense going through him a little more (requiring good choices of shot or pass).

Good to see Barnes get a strong game under his belt. I like his style of play, and to hit some shots will be big for him down the line.

The lineup choices Phil has to play with this year... just, wow! And Drew isn't even back (and of course, The Luke isn't back, either). The mix-and-match is one of the most fun parts of this season so far for me.

Lamar... what can one say about him when he's in rhythm. He da Man! He'll get his games of poor matchups, and we'll see him struggle (he'll usually get quick fouls under those conditions), but he's such a joy to watch when he's in flow.

Suns looked pretty energetic on the 2nd night of a back to back. I know there's gonna b some grumbling about our lack of back to backs this year but we had plenty last year and still managed to repeat so people can just shut it.

Killer b's showed again that cringing when the second unit comes in will be more of a rarity rather than the norm as it was last year. When LO returns to the 2nd unit, it will be LO, the B's, and the Rest which conveniently spells LROB. Hmmm...lol

Hope to see some blowout to get the rooks some PT.

Have a good weekend all. Stay safe!

Good Morning Laker Fam,

Nice win yesterday to start off the weekend. Have a great Saturday. Here's one of my fav Saturday songs to get you started:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTFD1C4tVIg

Also, great to see kobe play efficiently with only 34 minutes! Hope that continues so he will be fresh for the playoff run!

Like I said on the last thread, 39 points, 25 rebounds and 13 assists from our two bigs is sick - that's what we should be getting every night, and then some, from our pivot position...especially when Bynum returns. The fact that we're shooting better as a team from the perimeter is just icing on the cake. Now, if we can just work on shoring up the defense a bit, everything will just be perfect!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs7Jy2y-33A

@Cali

You go boy...drawing the line in the sand...making a stand...London Bridge...didn't they hang William Wallace's head from there...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55eQvRVzebQ

@LRob

Didn't forget you today broham...good luck Spartans today...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkWS9PiXekE

The Lakers Dynasty - The Next Generation...

#17 Coming Up!!!

MM

"5. The Lakers show potential to be a better three-point shooting team than last year: It's only two games so obviously this statistic remains far from definitive. But the Lakers' 47.9% mark from three-point range shows the team has better personnel to shoot from three-point range than last year's team, which went 34.1% from the field. Barnes finished three of four from three-point range, Blake and Bryant went two of five, Artest went three of eight, Fisher hit one of two and Odom nailed his sole attempt.

It's going to be a nice skill for the Lakers to acquire considering that wasn't their biggest strength last season, and it's going to give teammates fits considering how dangerous the Lakers frontline usually shows. The Lakers should approach the game, however, looking to get the ball in the lane and post first, before settling for outside. Working inside-out instead of outside-in will also help the Lakers' perimeter shooters develop a better rhythm as well."
======
Steve Blake's lifetime 3 pt% is just a tick below the great Reggie Miller (yes, I know he shoots far less three balls than Reggie did). I have noticed from the past and from Blake's very brief tenure with the Lakers, that he doesn't shoot them unless and until he has a wide open look. With the exception of Kobe and also those occasions when the shot clock has run down, I hope we see three point attempts ONLY when these guys are wide open like we saw last night with that Swiss Cheese defense that the Suns play. The better, quicker defensive teams like OKC will run at our three point shooters, so we will see the number of attempts go down against those teams while we remain patient within the offense.

In the end, I'm sure the Lakers will shoot a higher percentage this season. Artest couldn't be worse than he was last season and now he's much more comfortable in the triangle and is showing that he will be more aggressive on offense anyway. Blake's Blake and Matt Barnes is showing that he's a smart, veteran player not prone to take dumb shots. And then there's Shannon Brown and also Sasha (not to mention Kobe and Fish). We're fine from downtown and it's not a "weakness" unless you want to compare it to everything else on this potentially historic team.

Random Thoughts from yesterday games...

Another last minute comeback by the Nets keyed by Devin Harris and Farmar. Avery has played Devin & Jordan together late in both games. So far so good.

Lots of love for Jeremy Lin. He got in with only a couple of minutes left and the crowd went nuts. A great feel good story.

Orlando's GM Otis Smith was one of the first to bash Lebron. Van Gundy followed. Score one for the heat. Lebron mental notes 1-0.

Rondo 24 assist. No more talk of big 3...its the Big 1 in Beantown.

Good to see Larry Drew roaming the sidelines in Atl. Remember him & Rambis were being considered to take over the Lakers when Del Harris was fired (sorry DBDH). Kurt got the gig. Now both of them are head coaches. Good for them. I'd be interested to hear what type of influence they say Del had on them.

Serge Ibaka is good! Man we had the wrong Congo cash...lol.

ARISE OH MIGHTY LAKERS NATION!!!! THE WORLD IS OURS!!!
Good Morning 16 Time NBA Champs, 4 Dynasty, soon to be 2 Time 3 Peat Lakers Nation
Good Morning, Morning Crue: Lrob, Cali, LakerPeace, Lewstrs, Fabulous J, NewMexicoLL.
63 Footer, Jefe101, LakerFanInCowTown, KobeMVP888, Ouchhh,
@Cali, Devastating Rebuttal bro, simply…OUT FREAKIN STANDING
OK for my first song I dedicate to my Best Friend, My Ex. Who has decided to reconsider my
3-Peat proposal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iapTWyn_etY - Poo La La = Roy Ayers

Hello Halloween-eeeeeeeees hanging in this awesome blog!!!

I am about to celebrate Halloween third day in row, but while I get maked-upped (???? No word as such, I know... ;)) and whipped in my hair (not really...) , and after I paid the due respect to the FAB profile of our adored Faith (hall Hail to The Queeeeeeennn!!!) I come in to check the superb analysis MM did of yesterday game (well, it was already my today, but who cares...), and which sees me agreeing on every word.

I wish I could present some kind of deep analysis to back what you guys already said, but I don't really have anything insightful to offer.

This is the very start of a long season and so far we faced two good teams... but all I care about still, regardeless of the outcome, what we play like and how we look like as a team.

All I see is good, and way beyond what I was expecting at this point of the season.

But we are the Lakers... I expect some slump at sometime, I don't wanna to pile up victories just for the sake of a big regular season reacord... I just wanna win as much as we need to have homecourt advantage, and then test all possible scenarios as for players interactions and chemistry formulas.

This year that we clearly have the luxury of a real bench, let's exploit it up.

Let's let them merge.

I'm a chemist, I'm naturally inclined to these kind of stuff: I will love to lose some games if in the maintime we can get some adventurous mashing up of unexpected fives on the floor.

It could be useful for the future plans.

I know everyone this year want to contribute and CAN do it.

I am really proud of the way Lamar played yesterday and even more of the way he spoke about what the guys feel as a team.

I know they feel this way because I read it on their faces and especially Kobe's.

Last year through all the injuries (his and the ones of the others) he developed TRUST in the fact we are a team, and he understood the assurance of that factor can let himself give himself a different pace this season so that he can save his "Saviour Mode" for more mattering scenarios.

This is a luxury we probably never experienced in the last decade.

And I can't avoid to be totally serene: I told you before and I will keep tellin you.

And no, I won't freak out when/if we are gonna lose some games.

To me 66 as record is okay.

I don't wanna us dried in April.

I let regular season records matter for the losers (eerrrrm... Bronzey? You just won a game with the Meat where Dwade outshone you... and you feel already bad for it? Kid... you'll never learn what it takes to win. But it's hilarious how journalists feed your ego up, while very coach knows well which team stands in the top place STILL this season, just like past season and also previous one. It's not just Gentry who knows it. Everyone who has not to sell products to retarded kids mind prone to blind hype reckons it. Take a look at Rajon: you ain't gonna stop that train. WE WILL. Take notes. Destiny is upon you and once more you won't like its message buddy. SORRY... Naw ;) not sorry at all).

Song for today is this one:

I started with an Hello, and I close with another:

Lionel Ritchie, Hello (to the fam!!!):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_ILDFp5DGA

LLL dear Fam, hugs, Z. ;)

@Lew - Thanks for the Spartan love. Gerard Butler actually was at MSU BBall Midnight Madness a few weeks ago....

http://www.gerardbutler.net/10-16-10-gerard-surprises-the-michigan-state-spartans/

Next another dedication to my Ex,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H48W_eWGtWM - Love will find away – Lionel Ritchie

And Finally I dedicate this to.....My Ex.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-0Sk5NidQs - All this Love - Debarge

Nice links, Jefe and mamba24....

Here's mine for the day:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EF1UuWg_wg

And really finally I dedicate this to, My Ex. Thanks Honey!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztGE8PfZ3hA More Love - Smokey Robinson Miracles

Impressive so far...this looking like a much better Team than last year. The second unit is playing really well considering they are just adapting to the triangle and each other, plus Bynum isn't even playing and Kobe is working his way back into assassin form. Here's a question for y'all...when Bynum does return do you bring him off the bench? Bynum, Brown, Blake, Barnes (B4)plus one starter. That would be a good 1st unit for many teams.BTW, what is the official nick name for the bench mob now...Killer B's, B3PO (Star Wars reference, 3p = 3peat), The Bad News (for the other team) B's, BB Bling (as in another ring). Where will Sasha and Luke find minutes with Theo as the bigs rest provider, that puts us at 10 deep when Drew comes back? Nice to have 10 million dollars worth of garbage time fodder.

@Mamba - Roy...the vibe master. You getting smooth on a Saturday.

@MVP - well stated on 3pt. I agree.

@jefe – man that Scritti sounds as good today 25 years later.

@LFICT – lol

@63 Footer – agree about LO abusing bad matchups. Now drop a Saturday song on me.

@Zaira – You’re right we’ll slow do that Rondo express just like last year. Are you trying to make us cry with “Hello”? Great selection

@Caliphilosopher,
I really dont know about him either except I have an impression of him to be very versatile player. He could be a good fit in triangle. Here's his stat and salary:

http://espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?playerId=3008

@Magic Phil - Thanks for posting that. What an all-star line up. Chaka, Koz, Savion Glover..wow. It was especially good to see my Detroit homey Greg Philliganes as the bandleader. Stevie discovered him and he's worked with all the greats from Simon, Clapton, MJ, Anita. Check him out slamming the keyboards on Anita's Fairytales.

JohnnyV

lakers already have 3 SF in artest, barnes, and ebanks... at the moment artest is barely getting 30min, barnes barely 15min and ebanks none... so the question is at whose expense will luke be getting his?

theres just not even minutes to go around... with shannon/blake meshing well then barnes will have to get minutes most his minutes at SF... sasha aint even playing and if you wanna give him any light of day kobe may have to play even mores SF minutes... and what about when bynum comes back? lamar will take up even more forward minutes off the bench...

if lakers had a shortage at forwards maybe i'd understand but at the moment its more like a overabundance.. and even worst case scenario if luke gets garbage minutes then he'd even be taking away valuable PT from ebanks and hindering his development.

we all know luke is damaged goods.. even when he returns chances are he'll play for a brief stretch, steal some more bench minute and then get injured again and end up right back in streetclothes..

IMHO its just a lose lose proposition.


Also, great to see kobe play efficiently with only 34 minutes! Hope that continues so he will be fresh for the playoff run!

Posted by: LakerFanInCowTown | October 30, 2010 at 09:49 AM

Ditto...with the Killer B's playing well Kobe can sit and rely on his team some more...perfect with his millage. I hope PJ can make this the norm this season. Nice fun game last night...Pau & LO played excellent!

LEWSTRS -

What's going on? I actually didn't know that about William Wallace. I'll start to do some researching and see if they have something about that here. They have a whole bunch of historical signs placed on buildings throughout the city, so I'll have to start carrying my camera around to take stock of everything.

I've also got a long night ahead of me, since the draft for the 2nd Fantasy league is around 3 AM my time, and I don't want to get shafted with only Celtics and Heat players on my team. :-)

Do you have any other things I should see while I'm out here? I'll take all the advice from people who have already been out here. In addition: If you have advice about europe (or anyone for that matter, including the Blog Goddess), I'll take it. I've got about 13 more months here, so I want to make the most of it.

yellowfever -

When you make it apparent how deep this team is, it is quite scary for other teams. Without Andrew even playing, we're 9-10 deep (with two promising rookies on the way in due time).

Once everyone gets healthy, I would just love to see how this team starts to cohere. Especially if we can become road warriors. I know from looking at the schedule that there is a 6-game road trip in December, and a 7 game road trip in February right before the all-star game (where MM will be taking Justa with him).

Which stretch do you foresee them becoming a road force? I'm curious as to your thoughts on things.

LRob, Philliganes is AWESOME, nobody plays bass keyboard like him, and that's coming from a bass player.

Great to have two wins, but giving up 108 points a game? Obviously an area for improvement. Hope to see improvement after a bigger sampling of games.

A quick comment about our friends in Miami. LeBron leads the scoring, 0-1, Wade leads the scoring, 2-0. I know it's early, but will be interesting to see if the trend continues.

Great plays by Lamar Odom, shades of Wilt Chamberlain dominating the boards and low post scoring.

Kobe is just warming up.

And Gasol commanding the offense.

And to celebrate this win I leave this link to great music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tQspFesT3E

From the legendary Los Angeles band "Love". Enjoy the sound.

"Great plays by Lamar Odom, shades of Wilt Chamberlain dominating the boards and low post scoring. "

Wilt wherever you are please forgive that post for comparing Lamar Odom's game against a no defense Phoenix team to be compared to your consistent dominant games.

Not a knock on Lamar he had a fantastic game but no way is it even shades of Wilt's rebounding/scoring.

TitleWave,

I Love Love.

Cali - The Lakers are a veteran group, even their newcomers and they all have had a prolonged career to know how rare it is to win an NBA championship. They all just want to win any way they can. I can't say specifically who hangs out with who and what not. They are professionals after all. But the European trip brought them closer and there's no drama on the team.

@KB Blitz: Wilt is my favourite player of all time. Even if I only have seen him in past footage and read his books.

My post was only to show the easy way that Lamar dominated the rebounds and also some post moves that reminded me of Wilt.

And you are right against the players of today it's easier.
In no way I'm comparing Lamar to Wilt.

I think we just have to be happy about Lamar Odom playing form.


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