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Lakers set the right tone following All-Star break with 104-80 victory over Atlanta Hawks


With so much surrounding the Lakers' three-game losing streak, the NBA All-Star break and a trade deadline that could spur different emotions and reactions, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant gathered the team together. He then summed up the first game following the break in as succinct terms as possible.

"It's a roll-call game," Bryant and other teammates said he described the Lakers' first contest following the All-Star game Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks. It's a matchup that usually leaves Coach Phil Jackson uncertain on how each team would handle the extended weekend of rest, parties and overall separation from basketball. Since the Lakers underwent such scrutiny among fans, media and most importantly themselves regarding their nagging inconsistencies, a three-game losing streak, sixth place overall standing in the Western Conference and the upcoming trade deadline, Bryant emphasized that the Lakers solely worrying about perfecting their role will help alleviate all the problems.

The 104-80 victory Tuesday over the Hawks reflected just that. Nearly every starter ranging from the usual in Kobe Bryant (20 points on five of 11 shooting, five assists) and Pau Gasol (14 points on four of nine shooting and 10 rebounds) to the unusual in Ron Artest (11 points on four of seven shooting) and Derek Fisher (10 points on three of seven shooting) each cracked double digits. Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who had complained earlier that the timing of his jumping remains an issue, finished with only five points on one of three shooting but made up for it with a season-high 15 rebounds along with three blocks and the consistency the Lakers need on help defense.

It turns out Bryant's message registered.

"It was about making sure everybody was here," he said. "Emotionally checked in, physically checked in and ready to do their jobs. Everybody on this team has a role and has a job. It's important at this stage of the season to do that."

59637748The Lakers enter Wednesday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden with plenty of rest, considering that every starter except Gasol sat out the fourth quarter and enjoyed sequences featuring the bench: Joe Smith's turnaround jumper that gave the Lakers a 94-68 lead with 4:51 left prompted Bryant, Fisher and Bynum to clap and Artest to stand up and cheer. Devin Ebank's explosive alley-oop dunk that widened the gap to 100-74 with 2:01 remaining caused Bryant to stand up and wave his towel.

But the Lakers enter their back-to-back with a healthy dose of skepticism for reasons beyond their troubled history at the Rose Garden. Jackson may have liked that the victory kept the Lakers (39-19) in third place with a 1 1/2 game lead over Oklahoma City (36-19), staying two games within Dallas (40-16) and moving ever so slightly behind San Antonio (46-10) after losing Tuesday to Chicago. But it's one game and it's not going to suddenly ease all anxieties, such as Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson tweeting before the game, "@Lakers need to make a small trade before the deadline to make a run for the playoffs."  

Also, Jackson's contention that the first game after the All-Star break typically presents little energy and poor decision-making equally applied to both his team and the Hawks, which featured the beginning of a five-game trip shooting 36.6%, trailing by as many as 29 points and going on a 4-minute, 34-second scoring drought in the latter part of the second quarter, statistics Gasol argued were "hard to say" if they spoke more to the Lakers' defense or Atlanta's shooting. Jackson, as he's done many times before, emphasized to his team not to equate a dominating win against Atlanta into justifying a belief that it can flip a switch, ticking off different personnel, traveling and unfriendly arenas.

"It's not just like, 'OK now we're back 100%'," Jackson said. "We've done this before and we know the next game can be a game we're not proud of.... It's about consistently building a game and having that ability to be purposeful in what we're trying to do."

59639925One thing Bryant's trying to have the Lakers do in measuring the team's progression for the remaining 24 games entails minimizing mistakes. In that department, the Lakers still have work to do. They committed 18 turnovers, appeared stagnant for part of the second quarter and Artest started out with all-too-typical sequences that both make the Lakers want to trade him even more and other teams to want him even less.

He couldn't catch a simple pass from Fisher and the ball went out of bounds. After the entire Staples Center crowd gasped when he received the ball, Artest airballed a three-pointer. And Artest demonstrated his ugly movement with a careless offensive foul. But Bryant's argument about minimizing mistakes also entails having the ability to correct them. Artest did just that by converting on a fast-break layup, stopping a fast break and converting on a pull-up jumper.

"I don't really focus on that," Artest said. "I just always pay attention to what's happening next. That's how I'm able to stay focused. I don't worry about what happened about before, yesterday or the past."

As for the rest of the team, the Lakers addressed the mistakes during a 3 1/2 hour practice on Monday, something that's atypical for a veteran team consumed with staying healthy and pacing themselves. That included several issues. Start off with the proper energy: Bryant's deflection, Fisher's three pull-up jumpers and Bryant's own pull-up epitomized that in an 8-0 start. Stay active on defense: The Lakers' constant communication, Bynum's size presence and the team's improved rhythm from the outside (six of 15 from three-point range) spurred the Lakers into solidifying themselves as a solid half-court defensive team and not one that has to constantly chase back teams in transition, with Jackson summing up: "The key to winning is about defense." And ensure proper ball movement: The Lakers finished with 20 assists to their 32 field goals and everyone on the roster played and scored.

"The energy was going to be there. We knew that, especially with the way we ended the road trip," Gasol said. "It was just a matter of executing and staying focused."

All these developments may simply just be another example demonstrating the Lakers' pendulum swing between strong and poor performances. Or it could be the mark of something new. For the time being, however, the Lakers at least made the proper steps in ensuring that they look like a much different team than the one that entered the All-Star break by snapping Cleveland's 26-game losing streak.

It certainly was a roll-call game and the Lakers appropriately made sure they all were in attendance.

"That' s how it has to go for the rest of the season," said guard Shannon Brown, who added 15 points on six of nine shooting and a fair collection of dunks. "If people aren't playing their roles, it's not going to work."

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at

Photo: Kobe Bryant, left, drives around forward Josh Smith during the first half of Tuesday's game. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Photo: Andrew Bynum dunks during the first half of Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Photo: Bryant puts up a three-point shot over Atlanta center Joe Johnson during the Lakers' 104-80 victory Tuesday at Staples Center. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (38)

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Re Ron's Contract- After FCM told me it was five years, I had to go back and check-

three years, with a two year player option. That is an interesting deal- Does the two year option have any advantages team wise over just a five year deal?

I remember being happy when we signed him that the deal wasn't as long or as much of a restraint as Trevor's five year deal, but I guess I wasn't understanding the issue.

I know Mitch ain't a dummy, there has to be some benefits to how that deal is structured, can anybody (LTLF) help me out here?


I guess, after thinking about it for a few minutes, that the main benefit to the contract is that for a player of Ron's caliber, it is just a pretty cheap deal. He is pretty underpaid for his level of player.

I guess when we get frustrated and it looks like he has no value at all, we need to just maybe hope that lakers fans if not other team's GMs can appreciate what kind of player Ron is over the long term. We don't get upset because we are stuck with a scrub, we get upset because we have a pretty good player who is underachieving. Somebody could get him for a discount if they remember that this is Ron underperforming...maybe it could be us if we hold onto him in spite of him underperforming. After all, the thing about a player playing below average- eventually that player will play better.

phred, it gave Ron an out to look for more money then.
remember, at the time the contract was made, he was taking a serious paycut. on the other hand, if he declined in skills and couldn't find a better deal(or if he just wanted to remain a Laker) he had a sure paycheck which make up for some of what he lost in not taking all the money that he could, while he could, to come to the Lakers.

Ron will be useful still.

phred, exactly.

quicker than i can type. well, i type pretty slowly...

OK, so 'roll call' it is! Whatever it takes. Major test tonight and quite a few coming soon.

TIVO experiment delayed for one more game.

There is a theory in organizational psychology called Equity Theory that suggests that workers who are under-payed relative to their peers of similar ability decrease the quality and quantity of work to create equity between their contributions versus rewards. Although there are exceptions (e.g., Marbury), I wonder if this is the case for Artest.

On the picture above, what happened to Josh Smith's left hand? Is he scratching something while guarding Kobe? LOL!

Nice win Lakeshow!


Posted by: boynamedsue| February 23, 2011 at 04:43 AM

Good point, Sir!

In most cases, I think this is actually true. But when deadline(in this case- playoffs) comes, these workers deliver! I'm sure this will be the case for Artest.



Interesting observation that may well be the case. Like JovBatz pointed out though, let's hope that come playoffs Ron Ron will revert to a $10million a season player.

PSP Intern

Nice win last night. The real test however, is tonight (TONIGHT! Petros and Money style) in Portland. Rip City is typically a tough out for the boys. My wife (MY WIFE! Also Petros and Money style) was happy to see Drew grabbing those delicious caroms, and was especially happy to the rooks get some tick.

The Blazers always seem to break the Lakers' momentum, so let's hope our guys set the tone early and inflict maximum damage. LaMarcus Aldridge has been playing in full beast mode lately. He must be shut down. That will be the key. Secondly, if the Lakers can nuetralize Batum and Fernandez on the wings, the rest should fall into place. The lack of a real inside presence for Portland should help Drew build some early confidence in order to finish strong. Gasol can wreck shop in the paint, thus opening up the perimeter for some 2 and 3 point bombs.

Let's do this thing!


Glad Shannon made your FINAL paragraph with his 14 points........6 out of 9 attempts.

Atlanta stole their defense from our Cleveland "Look Ma No Hands" game plan.

Nice win for the Lake show. Bummed I missed the end to see Smith and the rooks. But glad they got some burn.

I especially liked the starters coming out strong and setting a good pace. They were balanced and efficient. That's teamwork and LAKER basketball.

Tough PTL team tonight - hopefully a Laker W but those pesky Blazers are always challenging no matter who is sitting on the bench injured.

Cheers all - PLG

island priest wrote: When everyone is involved and the ball is shared LA is tough to beat. Now if Kobe did go off for 40 or something la would hav barely won or might have lost the game. This is what i have been preaching for weeks. Good win LA.

my response: What you have been preaching for weeks is nothing more than
cliche. What you consistently fail to address is *why* Kobe is having to
go off.

reading is fundamental:

What’s more, the actual increase in his shot attempts is observed typically in the second half, and typically sparks either a Lakers comeback (if the opponent leads) or a Lakers run to seal a win (if the game was close). Because these increases are typically observed in the second half, it is completely unreasonable to say that the increased attempts caused the Lakers’ misfortunes in the first place.

In short, the Lakers are more likely to lose competitive games, and Kobe shoots more in competitive games to try to prevent that. The competitiveness of the game causes both the Lakers’ lower winning percentage and Kobe’s increased shot count. Kobe’s shot count does not cause the Lakers’ lower winning percentage in those games.

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

It's a nice sentiment that works well with the popular ideal that Kobe is some ball-hogging freak by nature that has to somehow rein in his instincts to shoot every time down court. That he's so obsessed by putting up points and being the focal point that it's taken him years to understand that basketball is a team sport, and that he needs to, wait for it, "trust his teammates."

And it's all bollocks.

In fact, "trusting his teammates" in the playoffs against San Antonio in 2003 and Detroit in 2004 may have cost the Lakers a ring; because had Kobe taken over the games with the same shoot-first but-within-the-offense fervor we saw in 2005-06 and 2006-07, the ball may not have been in Robert Horry's shot-missin' hands in 2003, or Shaquille O'Neal's out-of-shape mitts in 2004.

You know why Kobe wanted Shaq gone? Not for more shots. Kobe wanted Shaq gone because Shaq was an under-motivated and out-of-shape millstone who barely gave a lick or a promise to defense and - outside of the 1999-00 season - barely showed up until March. Meanwhile, Kobe's in the gym all summer, treating opening night against Portland like a Game 7.

Nice win, that's more like it.

Looks like when Bynum puts his mind to it he can play some D.

If he played defense like that every game, ok, let' s say most games, there would be little to no trade talk of him and I would speculate that the Lakers would even win more games.

The only downside of him playing like that for one game is it begs the question, why?

The game started off with Fish coming off the 3 point line and hitting nice two pointers instead of bricking from 3. No 3 pt attempts from Fish is a good sign that he is working on getting his game in shape, instead of playing the role of the passive 3 pt taker.

Wow. Incredible. Now you trolls have started on Lew?

He's one of the most decent, positive, level-headed and biggest Laker boosters on here!

My god, what will you do when there are no good people left on here, eat yourselves like the painting by Goya? Trolls and crickets, that's all that will be left...

- - -

G. Money: Dude, why don't you just knock it off. Seems like you only coming in here to start something.

- - -

phred: "We need a sign in on here."
Amen to that.

- - -

Welp, another time where I've come and said nothing about what I had in mind. A little advice to everyone, if you all would speak up then the instigators would not be welcome. When we see someone like G.Money trying to start something, trolls calling out Lew, etc... and do nothing about it - what kind of society would it be if we saw old ladies getting mugged, cars jacked, banks robbed and did nothing? That's what goes on around here...


Tough PTL team tonight - hopefully a Laker W but those pesky Blazers are always challenging no matter who is sitting on the bench injured. Cheers all - PLG Posted by: PsychedLakerGirl | February 23, 2011 at 06:55 AM
WTH??? Psyched where's The Swagger, The Swagger??? Stop what you are doing immediately and drink a FULL cup of Dr. Fatty's LakerHolic Tonic...Carry On Ma'am!!!!

When we see someone like G.Money trying to start something, trolls calling out Lew, etc... and do nothing about it - what kind of society would it be if we saw old ladies getting mugged, cars jacked, banks robbed and did nothing? That's what goes on around here...Posted by: CyberCosmiX | February 23, 2011 at 07:26 AM
GOD#@$#$$$^!!!! If this is not RCOTD then it should be abolished. Yes it is True LEWSTRS is one of the Blogs shinning, new decent personalities which is why he is a target. OK then, now as for you Mr. CyberCosmiX...OUT FREAKIN STANDING SIR!!!!!! KUDOS!!!! Carry on sir.

what kind of society would it be if we saw old ladies getting mugged, cars jacked, banks robbed and did nothing? That's what goes on around here...


Posted by: CyberCosmiX | February 23, 2011 at 07:26 AM

Wow! This really isn't all that serious mang. It's a blog for Pete's sake, get a grip.
Old ladies getting mugged?
If Lew doesn't like what G has to say, all he has to do is ignore. Simple as that.

Can't you just be happy the Lakers won last night?

Can't you just be happy the Lakers won last night? Posted by: Magia32 | February 23, 2011 at 07:36 AM
Yes, Magia32, Yes I can:

Yes, Magia32, Yes I can:

Posted by: mamba24 | February 23, 2011 at 07:48 AM

You know it,

You know it,
Posted by: Magia32 | February 23, 2011 at 07:52 AM
OH SWEET JESUS!!! ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Welp, another time where I've come and said nothing about what I had in mind. A little advice to everyone, if you all would speak up then the instigators would not be welcome. When we see someone like G.Money trying to start something, trolls calling out Lew, etc... and do nothing about it - what kind of society would it be if we saw old ladies getting mugged, cars jacked, banks robbed and did nothing? That's what goes on around here...
Posted by: CyberCosmiX |


Be careful what you wish for. There is likely a large group of lurkers out there who may or may not agree with you. Do you really want everyone to start speaking up when they perceive what they consider to be an injustice or comments they don't like? Think about what that might turn into.
I think it would end up making it worse.

It has often been suggested to ignore trolls or whatever, but lately you have been involving yourself more in calling out others, speaking up for bloggers you like and against those you don't.

Is that being part of the solution or part of the problem?

I don't mean that in a disrespectful way and I mean it as rhetorical, as something to think about.

I'm not sure what the correct answer is, but if lots of bloggers all start taking sides and speaking up in favor of some or against others, will this turn into our own little Libya in blog form?
A blog popularity contest?

Sometimes people are silent as a vote of support, though we don't know in support of what.
Sometimes may be better to let sleeping dogs lie.

I'm not complaining about you, just some observations.

Another NBA superstar going east. D-Will to the Nets for Devin Harris and Derrick Favors. The balance of power has shifted big time. But the Champions still reside in the West.

Go Lakers!
Go Aztecs!

For a change, they needed that win to redeem their reputation as still the Champ to be reckoned with. If you watch again the Cleveland and Charlotte games and compare it to our Lakers last night, you could figure out why fans get so disgruntled and frustrated by lack of efforts. Disgruntled not because they hate this team but more of the missed opportunities due to distractions that goes with it misusing the fundamentals that they're supposed to do. Fundamentals to take any opponent seriously, first load them with points; second, take out their hearts and confidence and finally, convince them to surrender. Those fundamentals are part of any competition whether it's war, marketing of products and in sports. The defense last night from get-go was terrific, switching and helping one another while the offense was also decent, it seemed that the lay off and stirring criticisms woke up the reluctant giant. If you're Spurs or Mavs, how'd u look at this game? They sensed that it tall order of going to this hurdle of passing the Lakers. This team is not done yet based on the recent LakeShow.

Hello Phred, to answer your question Ron-ron was taken by the Lakers on MLE with 3 1/2 years remaining. Ron is the player we need during playoffs because of his leach-liked defense on your face, body and arms plus the strength of Samson, however during season games he gets distracted with all these selling on the side, it's all about Hollywood. He becomes a trade bait because of noted skills that u can get also exchange a good player.

PLG, you will love the efforts of our rookies and Joe Smith during the last three minutes, Joe can play defense & made two good blocks. I wish PJ will team up Joe with Drew that will really take care of the post. I have a haunch too that if you play Ebanks and/or Caracter, they will get adjusted to rough and tumble of NBA, it accelerates their progress and could really be a big help during the playoffs.

Another NBA superstar going east. D-Will to the Nets for Devin Harris and Derrick Favors. The balance of power has shifted big time. But the Champions still reside in the West.
Posted by: Rocky | February 23, 2011 at 08:20 AM
This puts a completely different spin on the Sloan/DWill supposed bust up. Yeah maybe Sloan did resign because of DWill, but not because he had an arguement with him but because...Sloan knew ownership was going to trade DWill and he did not want to stick around for the rebuilding!!

Good start to the last 25 games. I was especially impressed with Drew’s defense. He went out and got rebounds (out of his area) as well as blocking and challenging shots out of the paint. He was my MVP for the game and only scored one fg. And the best part was it didn’t seem to matter to Drew whether he got touches or was involved in the offense or not.

I think this trade of D Will for Devin and Favors is a one sided trade. It's a little bit emotional on the part of the Jazz is releasing their franchise player. If they were rebuilding, I would prefer two consecutive 1st rd draft picks than Favors while proceeding with the exchange of two PG's. D'Will is the type of PG that Lakers need, he could opt out of the Nets when his contract expires.

@Edwin Gueco- I think that's an easier play for Mark Cuban. Now, he can dangle some assets for Harris from the Jazz.


That was a nice tie in the previous topic. I am guessing Zegna?

No one's talking about Nawlins grabbing Carl Landry. That's a huge pickup for a small market team. And gives Monty Williams another scorer. Nawlins has quietly done their due diligence.

While we all wait with bated breath to see how the Lakers play tonight, it was a pleasure seeing the team come out for the first game after the All-Star break with great energy and focus. It was also good to see Fish and Artest have good games so that we were not forced to play 3 or 4 against 5.
It was a victory with contributions literally from everybody on the roster who played and scored. Kobe continued to look in top game form. Although he only had 3 shot attempts and scored 5 points, Drew dominated the boards with 15 rebounds and anchored a great Lakers defensive effort by blocking 3 shots and challenging every shot attempt in the paint by an intimidated Hawks team.
It was also great to see solid contributions from the bench early in the game and in the fourth quarter with literally every single Laker on the active roster not only playing but also scoring. Pau played aggressively, Shannon was a real spark plug, and Blake was especially active. All in all, a great way to start out the second half of the season. 40 more wins will lead to a Lakers three-peat.
I would like to chime in on the issue of bloggers being banned or leaving the blog after being attacked. First of all, I do hope that everybody will pull together and support keeping 888 on the blog. Frankly, I have never liked seeing fellow bloggers banned or chased away. I would rather see the participants in disputes agree to disagree and move on. Even during my most heated battles with antagonists, I never wanted to see any blogger banned or leave the blog upset. I think it’s a shame when we let our emotions overrule our humanity and civility. Let’s just try to get along.

Sloan knew ownership was going to trade DWill and he did not want to stick around for the rebuilding!!

Posted by: mamba24 | February 23, 2011 at 08:30 AM

That's what I was thinking too. I actually like this trade for the Jazz. It's time for them to get younger and rebuild. With Favors, they get a true big man that they can develop with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Devin Harris, ehhh, he can be pretty good at times, he's solid. But, I like Utah's big man situation now. They have a bright future.

I'm not sure how this trade makes sense for the Nets. They're still not going anywhere, and they traded a huge part of their future in Favors. Maybe Troy Murphy will start playing again, he'll help a little bit. If they were to get Carmelo, that would have been one thing, but to trade the same peices for D-Will? Now they're in a situation where they'll be just good enough to not get another lottery pick, just like the Jazz were.

Go Lakers!
Go Aztecs!!

Art- How could we have a 'Libya type situation' on the blog? Does the Times have bombers now? No wonder they went bankrupt.

I'm not sure how this trade makes sense for the Nets. They're still not going anywhere, and they traded a huge part of their future in Favors. Posted by: Rocky | February 23, 2011 at 09:11 AM
Exactly! But since they lost out on the Melo sweepstakes , they got to get some kind of star or semblance of a star to draw the crowds when they move to Brooklyn. Maybe they think they will get CP3 when his contract is done next year. Like you say, very puzzling.

I agreed with island priest when kobe take too many shots the Lakers will loose,and its not why kobe goes of,the important thing is that there is a concept and a pattern the Lakers play,its the triangle offence,and kobe must play within the offence,he will certainly get his time to shoot and pick up the pace,but if he continues to ball hog and go off,not playing within the triangle,then he changes the pattern and the concept of team play,now in the end he may loose the ball ending in fast break for La opponents,some fans of La Lakers must think,its not about Kobe and whether he gets hot or not,its about team play and playing within the triangle and defending well,anything else will end in Lakers loosing.We lakers fans must really pay homage to Phil and his coaching staff,he showed us the way to win.Also we must remember he was the one to humiliate the Show time Lakers with his mighty Bulls in 1991.Good win for now.

People comment on 2003 and 2004 thats only two years,thats no excuse,Phil was always complaining about ball hogging and not playing within the offence,Shaq was even upset about players not wanting to share the ball,by this the team was never playing within the offence,then again Malone didnt have a clue about the triangle,the whole Laker team was a mess,in the end Phil had to pick up his bag and walk away.It was never like that on the Bulls team during those championship years under Phil and Tex.Yes MJ left and the Bulls lost because of a blunder made by the referee,but upon Jordan's return the Bulls reorganised themselves and started what is now a record breaking performance in NBA history a feat that this present Lakers cannot accomplish.The bulls play the game flawlessly,no ball hogging,they shared the ball.It was a beauty to watch these Bulls play the triangle,and there defence was what is known in the nfl the doomsday defence,they totally locked down teams.Time and time again you can see that whenever these Lakers play within the system,passing the ball,everyone contributing and playing good defence that they win games.Anything else is just bullocks.



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