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Five things to take away from Lakers' 112-104 victory over the Clippers

604207921. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol played efficiently.

With hopes to post Andrew Bynum in the paint, Bryant pointed in all directions for him to establish position in a late fourth-quarter play. Bryant was unsatisfied with Bynum's base so he yelled "No," went one on one and made a pull-up jumper. That play in the Lakers' 112-104 victory Friday over the Clippers epitomized how he recorded 37 points on 11-of-21 shooting with a team-high six assists.

The aforementioned jumper gave the Lakers a 101-93 lead with 4:07 remaining, but there were plenty of fourth-quarter plays he made that helped the Lakers secure a victory. His steal on Clippers forward Al-Farouq Aminu led to Derek Fisher connecting with him on a fast-break dunk, widening the gap to 91-85 with 7:27. On the next possession, Bryant beat Eric Gordon baseline and found Gasol inside for a four-foot jump shot. And his 13-foot runner gave the Lakers a 105-99 advantage with 2:41 remaining.

"I'm just cranking it up," Bryant said after the Lakers' (52-20) victory gave them a 1 1/2 lead over Dallas for second place in the West improved their mark to 14-1 since the All-Star break. "I'm starting to get into playoff mode, playoff form and being more aggressive."

What distinguished Bryant wasn't his fourth-quarter presence, however. He maintained his scoring dominance with a controlled mindset. His work off the ball and off the dribble set himself up for fadeaway jumpers, runners in the lane and mid-range shots, with nine of his 11 field goals coming off those shots. By no means did Bryant remain passive from attacking the rim. His season-high 14-of-17 mark from the free-throw line revealed his ability to attack, something he's sorely lacked. And he remained open to connecting with teammates, many of them on jump passes, so long as they were open.

"The two days off came at the right time," Bryant said, in regards to treating his left ankle sprain and surgically repaired right knee with weight training, massage therapy and stretching. "I was able to chase those guys tonight."

Gasol had plenty of reason to want to score beyond maintaining his usual efficiency. He pledged to donate $1,000 for every point he scored to help victims affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, an initiative Magic Johnson then pledged to match. Gasol's 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting yielded $52,000.

The effort came on a night when Gasol demonstrated his consistency in hitting mid-range jumpers, including a first-quarter stretch where he hit four consecutive shots. The effort proved arguably as efficient as his newly created Twitter account, which accumulated 19,744 followers as of midnight in only seven hours.

"I look for those shots," Gasol said. "I space out and get those shots consistently. I think they're very effective when I'm from that range. I'm very comfortable catching and shooting from that distance."

2. Chris Kaman threatened to fight Derek Fisher outside following late-game ejection. The stories differ depending on who you ask. Fisher contended Kaman set illegal picks all game long, setting up both of them to collide near the three-point line where Kaman hit Fisher's head with 28 seconds remaining in the game. That in each of them earning technicals and Kaman getting ejected. Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro argued Fisher threw an elbow at Kaman, who then pointed at Fisher and suggested through body language that he meet by the loading dock afterward. The Times' T.J. Simers joked that Fisher has a date after the game.

"My wife is here," he said. "If he's there, that's fine."

3. Ron Artest continues to elevate his play even if it isn't always pretty

He walked toward the entrance tunnel appearing relaxed and loose. The obvious reason points to his 15 points on six-of-11 shooting and his ability to hold Eric Gordon to three-of-14 shooting by keeping him mostly out of the lane. But it's also a product of his contention that he's devoted more time to running and working out. That focus propelled him to drop to 250 pounds from 265 entering the season, but both Artest and Jackson worried he overdid it and lost some of the muscle in the process. But he's reverted back to his treadmill workouts and maintaining his avoidance of alcohol.

"I'm real athletic," Artest said. "But when my body is working it's really hard to score. My body is working."

Jackson pointed to Artest's increased conditioning and preparation as the reason for Artest's improved numnbers since the All-Star break compared to his regular-season averages in points (up to 10.35 from 8.4), shooting percentage (42.5% from 40.2%) and playing time (32.43 minutes from 29). Bryant likewise noticed Artest feeling more confident in simplifying his role, such as his three steals or deflecting the ball from Blake Griffin in the final minute of the game. Said Bryant: Ron's hands are incredible. They're amazing hands. He gets deflections and steals that you don't think are possible."

As with anything regarding Artest, there always features a catch. He surprisingly drove baseline past Kaman for a reverse dunk in the second quarter and also had a one-hander on a fast break, marking the third dunk he threw down in the last two games. In hilarious fashion, Artest bricked two consecutive fast-break attempts to open the second half, one that hit off the rim and one that went off the backboard.  Mix in three turnovers and some extra dribbling, and it's obvious his offense is still a work in progress. But it's a start.

"I have to look at the tape, but I got higher than I usually get," Artest said. "I don't usually jump that high all the time. I wish I could've made the [expletive] dunk."

4. The Lakers lacked a defensive identity. Even with Artest's lockdown defense on Gordon and Bynum's seamless transition back into the lineup after serving a two-game suspension, the Lakers don't have the same defensive identity they held before their triple-overtime affair Tuesday against Phoenix. There's plenty of numbers to support this trend, such as the 104 points the Lakers allowed, Mo Williams' 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting and the 21 points they allowed in transition. The Lakers helped stave off the damage by owning the boards (41-34), but they became too exposed on their slow rotations in minimizing open looks.

5. The Lakers' bench remains inconsistent. Jackson lamented this department the most, considering this unit largely contributed to the Lakers failing to hold a 21-point lead. Bryant had thought Lamar Odom's return to the bench would help jump-start some consistency, but Barnes' tentativeness from his knee injury, Blake's passivity and Brown's inability to substitute poor shooting for anything productive remains an issue. Jackson will mostly rely on his starters and Odom during the playoffs. But finding opportunities to rest them for the remaining 10 games will prove valuable in ensuring the Lakers are in peak form once the postseason begins.

Said Jackson: "They have to start taking up the responsibility for that."

Quote of the Night:  "What’s he gonna do, shoot him with one of his bow & arrows? Give me a break." -- Bryant on Kaman wanting to fight Fisher.

Stat of the Night: 50% - The field-goal percentage of both teams. This made for some exciting basketball, but one that left the Lakers largely unsatisfied. Earlier in the season, the Lakers thought they could simply outscore teams rather than to be bothered to play defense. The Lakers changed their mindset after the All-Star break, but there's plenty of issues to cover when they watch the film on Saturday.

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has his layup challenged by Clippers center DeAndre Jordan in the first half Friday night at Staples Center. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

 
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Then let there be two.

Wes

"Gasol's 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting yielded $52,000, a nice gesture that still pales to the $17.8 million he makes this season."

You really have something against Gasol, don't you, Medina? Or is it that dogging Gasol gets you brown-nose points with some of the Bynum-lovers around here? Either way that comment was completely uncalled for and you need to retract it, period. The guy tries to do some good and in your typical passive-aggressive manner you smear him because you apparently have something against him or you're worried about your standing around here.

I'd have more respect for your comment if you just came out straight and said you think it's pathetic that someone who makes Gasol's salary is "only" making a low 5-digit gesture. You'd be wrong, but at least you would take a stand instead of looking like you're trying to squirm around your dislike for Gasol.

If you're really so concerned about it, why didn't you ask Gasol to his face if he thought at $17 million a year he should be donating more money (and phrase it in that exact manner since that's apparently the message you're trying to send)? While you're at it, why didn't you ask him if Magic's gesture to match his donation was exponentially more pathetic since Gasol's salary pales to the money Magic rakes in every year given his success as a business man? Looks kind of weak and cowardly to make a statement belittling someone's good gesture in a blog you know for a fact the player doesn't read.

And yes, I am expecting a response from you.

And for the sake of accurate reporting (if that notion still exists), you need modify your statement to say "yielded $52,000, a nice gesture that still pales in comparison to the $[do some research and sum up Magic's yearly gross revenue with Gasol's salary] that Gasol and Magic combine to make this year" since it was a combination of Gasol AND Magic making that gesture you apparently think is unworthy.

It will be a damn shame if Ron Ron doesn't make the all defensive team.

*crickets*...

@MM – I enjoyed the Ron Ron interview. That was cool how you listed the readers who submitted the questions. Good job.

@luis – welcome aboard. Let’s get ready for this 3peat.

@MVP/Humanomaly/Fever – Tall Tales by Pluto is a good one. Focus on 60’s and early 70’s. Lots of Wilt, Elgin, Jerry, Big O, Red quotes, stories, etc.

@Triangular – Thanks for the Da Costa. Did anyone do more session work than he did from about 75-85. Crusaders, EWF, Minnie, MJ, Stanley…seems like he was on ever album I picked up back in the day.

@ms – Betty Hutton…really…wow…nice.

Love loves to love love. Hate loves to love hate.

You get what you concentrate on.

The Lakers are concentrating on a threepeat.

I also think the dig at Pau and Magic for giving to charity is totally inappropriate, and deserves a personal and direct and public apology to Pau and Magic.

It doesn’t look like Haslem is coming back this season. Here’s what he said….


"I just want people to understand not to get caught up in me coming back," Haslem told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"One, we have enough. Two, I'm going to work out as hard as I can and I'm going to work to get back as soon as I can. But if the doctors say they don't feel like I should be out there, then I can't go out there. I don't want people to hang their hats on me being the savior."


Spring Trolls

... harbinger's of playoff basketball. They lie along the road to the ring which they know, runs through LA.

Most are easy to spot by their grammar, misspellings (how ignorant to you have to be to misspell with spell check) and overall stupidity. Rational trolls are tougher to deal with but fun to have around from time to time knowing they just want what we have.

In the end, "troll" rhymes with "scroll". Go Lakers!

This season's NBA playoff race is like MLB penant race, which is great. There are so many other games you are paying close attention to the scores.

Today's games that I will pay attention to:
Chicago at Milwaukee
Dallas at Utah

Meanwhile things are unraveling in Beantown. Doc blames selfish play…

The way we're playing shocks me. Our attitude shocks me," Rivers said. "I just think we've become very, very selfish, not just as far as trying to get our own [shots], but everything is about how we're playing individually, instead of how the team is playing.
--------------------------

Ray says they don’t have chemistry with the new guys yet….

"It's not about making excuses," Allen said, "but I think the chemistry with the new guys is still being built."

Nice win, still can't believe the refs missed that call where Mo Williams Stinks (that is his name, isn't it??? lol...) practically knocked Kobe's head off.

Wish the Lakers hadn't coasted through some stretches of the earlier season, maybe they could have had a chance to catch the Spurs. Like I said before, over the course of the season the cream will rise to the top.

As for Pau donating $1k per basket, he did as a couple pledged to do. I watch NBA AIDS commercials, watch St. Jude Children's Hospital commercials, watch other NBA charity things - Pau is almost always involved.

Why call Pau out for 'merely' donating $26k? Yes, that is a smallish amount for an NBA player as compared with their salaries - yet I don't see most other players donating. Not money nor time. Kobe made the PSA for the Japan relief, but Pau donated money. Cool of both of them. But, shouldn't we be calling out the 400-some NBA players that DIDN'T cough up a cent nor give any time to this or any charity cause for that matter?

Pau could be criticized for aspects of his game, but as far as his helping with charity and humanitarian work he is head and shoulders above most/all NBA players.

He deserves to be commended for donating, not mocked. Especially when he was one of the very few players that actually did donate...


AS ALWAYS - AND FOREVER - GO LAKERS!!!!!!

There are only two teams to be considered as failure if they don't win the title this season: Lakers and Celtics

And, there are two overachieving teams that could win the title, but it's won't be too bad if they don't: Bulls and Spurs

Then, there is Miami that belongs to neither groups....

@KobeMVP888. I kind of agree with you the Lakers bench was just awful yesterday against the Clippers. Odom was only one who produced but barely he only had 9 points & 6 rebounds. Everytime the starters went out and the bench came in the Clippers made the game closer and closer, then Phil who probably wanted to rest his starters more from that triple OT game had to bring them back a minute or 2 earlier. But people really need to stop overrating Pau Gasol! Fisher is not the overrated one, Gasol is! When he scores he wont play ANY defense down at the other end, Gasol kind of gets on your nerves after a while when people just come down the court getting wide open dunks and Pau is supposed to be the center. AT LEAST WE HAVE BYNUM! Also Kobe is great (best player in NBA) after playing in triple OT where he has 42pts 12rbs 9ast, he has another great game 3 days later with 37pts 6ast. Kobe is slowly moving up spots in MVP! If the Lakers catch the Spurs Kobe for MVP without a doubt, D-Rose is my second favorite player but if L.A catches the Spurs Kobe deserves it over Rose.

Posted by: JORDAN | March 26, 2011 at 05:54 AM
=====

I love Pau Gasol. Not only do I think he is underrated now, but I maintain that he is historically underrated. He would have succeeded in any era. Few men his size have possessed his passing ability, court vision, IQ, ability to play with his back to the basket and use both hands as well as possessing a deadly mid-range "jump" shot. He's obviously not a bruising player, but he is a champion who ratchets it up when he needs to like in the two recent close out championship games, when he clearly outplayed Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett. He also brings more defensive intensity at the end of close games. A great defensive player? No. Underrated? Definitely.

HAVING SAID THAT, I'm not a fan of pitting our players against one another. This is not a matter of whether Bynum is better than Pau defensively or Lamar brings more versatility than Bynum, etc. This is a matter how our 4-5 rotation of Pau-Bynum-LO wears down teams in a 7 game series because no other team in the NBA can match their length, versatility and talent level for 40 minutes.

This is a back-to-back championship with a blend of talents whereby each player helps maximize the best attributes of his teammates. Unlike some systems, not every player can be plugged into Phil Jackson's schemes seamlessly and taking one player out of the rotation hurts the team more than in other systems, in my opinion. That's why Barnes' absence effected our energy, why Bynum's absence causes Pau to look "soft" and our defense to weaken, etc. I'm not saying that injuries, illnesses and suspensions don't effect other teams, but I do believe that PJ's system does require all of his key players to be "available" (e.g., Bynum at 50-60% the last 2 playoffs) to be successful.

Mr. Medina. How much money you dedicated to humanitarian causes
Mr. Medina. How much vacation time devoted to humanitarian causes

Demagoguery defines persons. Mr. Medina

Pau could be criticized for aspects of his game, but as far as his helping with charity and humanitarian work he is head and shoulders above most/all NBA players.

He deserves to be commended for donating, not mocked. Especially when he was one of the very few players that actually did donate...

"Gasol's 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting yielded $52,000, a nice gesture that still pales to the $17.8 million he makes this season."

You really have something against Gasol, don't you, Medina?

I'd have more respect for your comment if you just came out straight and said you think it's pathetic that someone who makes Gasol's salary is "only" making a low 5-digit gesture. You'd be wrong, but at least you would take a stand instead of looking like you're trying to squirm around your dislike for Gasol.

If you're really so concerned about it, why didn't you ask Gasol to his face if he thought at $17 million a year he should be donating more money (and phrase it in that exact manner since that's apparently the message you're trying to send)? While you're at it, why didn't you ask him if Magic's gesture to match his donation was exponentially more pathetic since Gasol's salary pales to the money Magic rakes in every year given his success as a business man? Looks kind of weak and cowardly to make a statement belittling someone's good gesture in a blog you know for a fact the player doesn't read.

And yes, I am expecting a response from you.

TOTALLY AGREE.

How many 6 ft guards in the NBA are able to "instigate" 7 ft center to fight against them? Imagine that Bynum "wants" to fight against Mo Williams. DFisher is the only 6ft guard picks up big guys like Scola and Kaman. That's why you love to have him on your team but uncomfortable to play against him. Fisher is like your son that you love him dearly although he sometimes gets bad grades, and that you are glad he is "your" son, not other's.

How many 6 ft guards in the NBA are able to "instigate" 7 ft center to fight against them? Imagine that Bynum "wants" to fight against Mo Williams. DFisher is the only 6ft guard picks up big guys like Scola and Kaman. That's why you love to have him on your team but uncomfortable to play against him. Fisher is like your son that you love him dearly although he sometimes gets bad grades, and that you are glad he is "your" son, not other's.

Posted by: LakerPeace | March 26, 2011 at 10:14 AM
====

Exemplary post!

I am embarrassed for Chris Kaman. He spent the whole game getting dunked on, and then gets thrown out for trying to pick a fight with the smallest guy on the court. For what he brings to the table, his contract is downright Waltonian.

Hilton - I removed the comments. It was meant to add context, not mock

maybe kobe donated without fanfare,
not everyone makes an issue out of what
they give to charity.

HAVING SAID THAT, I'm not a fan of pitting our players against one another. This is not a matter of whether Bynum is better than Pau defensively or Lamar brings more versatility than Bynum, etc. This is a matter how our 4-5 rotation of Pau-Bynum-LO wears down teams in a 7 game series because no other team in the NBA can match their length, versatility and talent level for 40 minutes.

Posted by: KobeMVP888 | March 26, 2011 at 09:45 AM

-----------------------

Excellent! Of course, I know you meant 48 minutes instead of 40 (I see you're caught up in March Madness also...lol)

Kobe said the following things about DFish on the interview above…Maybe it would be a good idea to please remember Kobe's take on Fish...
---------------------------
He’s solid.
I don’t know what people want from him.
This team doesn’t need a super pg. We have the pieces of the puzzle in place. People still don’t understand what they have in Fish.
They can’t understand players that just do their job…no more no less.

If Gasol says $10K for every point he scores, every common person would think, dang, the celebs have it covered...$1000 a point is pretty significant, look, he's not supposed to rebuild the whole devastation by himself. He sets an example that everyone could contribute any amount that they are comfortable with. If he starts to lead causes, and become guided "to build your PR"...he could be the next Antoine Walker. I'm sure that when he goes out to dinner and picks up the check for him and his friend, he thinks about it just as we think about it, I'm sure he doesn't just slap $1000 on the table and buy popularity. We all know he is smart. Yes Gasol does make in the higher end of the NBA payscale, but other less highly paid players could donate some money, $500 to $1000...and buy one less pair of dress shoes...I usually don't donate unless I know that the money is going to get to the "cause"....a percent here and there adds up....

Kaman is unraveling...just a year or two ago he was the centerpiece for the team, now he knows DeAndre Jordan has his job, and that he will be phased out...The Clippers are moving up. I don't know what they have in terms of their draft picks this year, but young players would be willing to play in LA for the Clippers soon, if they can see professionalism from the management and ownership. Shipping out Baron Davis was smart. He liked LA probably, but didn't work hard enough to be a consistent top point guard. For all the Fisher bashing, I would take Fisher over Baron at equal pay.....Phil better wake his bench up, because they haven't been doing that great a job, and with playoffs coming, and potential injuries or matchups...he may need some of those guys, that's the problem with not giving your bench enough floor time, I don't mean at the end of games, but a few minutes in the earlier stages of games, with the main rotation players...

I think it would benefit Ron "Thriller" Artest to begin studying Tai Chi or Taoist Kung Fu or even Pa-Qua.

The guy has so much strength and power, but he is completely lacking grace in his movements. Some study of internal martial arts would take care of that and complete his game.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

I could only watch the first quarter of the game and then I had to work on video for a event production project I'm working on. I followed the score on Yahoo.

Still, I feel denied missing my favorite two teams play.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!!

acb statistics Clippers-Lakers

LA CLIPPERS
Ryan Gomes 2
Blake Griffin 20
Chris Kaman 8
Mo Williams 27
Eric Gordon -3
Randy Foye 10
Craig Smith 8
DeAndre Jordan 3
Al Farouq Aminu 13
Eric Bledsoe 0
Team 88

L.A. LAKERS
Ron Artest 13
Pau Gasol 28
Andrew Bynum 23
Kobe Bryant 31
Derek Fisher 4
Lamar Odom 10
Matt Barnes -2
Steve Blake 0
Shannon Brown 0
Team 107

laker bench 8


acb statistics TRAILBLAZERS-SPURS

P. TRAILBLAZERS
Gerald Wallace 17
Nicolas Batum 19
LaMarcus Aldridge 9
Andre Miller 28
Wesley Matthews 7
Marcus Camby 7
Brandon Roy 1
Rudy Fernandez 2
Team 90

SA SPURS
Richard Jefferson 14
Tiago Splitter 17
Antonio McDyess 10
Tony Parker 5
Manu Ginobili 15
Matt Bonner 13
Steve Novak -1
George Hill 4
Gary Neal 5
DeJuan Blair 5
Team 87

I have the most respect to Fisher. His career did not leave any doubt about the kind of player he is. His best moment comes in the postseason, as Robert Horry.

I fully share this opinion

Pau Gasol, few men his size have possessed his passing ability, court vision, IQ, ability to play with his back to the basket and use both hands as well as possessing a deadly mid-range "jump" shot. He's obviously not a bruising player, but he is a champion who ratchets it up when he needs to like in the two recent close out championship games, when he clearly outplayed Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett. He also brings more defensive intensity at the end of close games.

HAVING SAID THAT, I'm not a fan of pitting our players against one another. This is not a matter of whether Bynum is better than Pau defensively or Lamar brings more versatility than Bynum, etc. This is a matter how our 4-5 rotation of Pau-Bynum-LO wears down teams in a 7 game series because no other team in the NBA can match their length, versatility and talent level for 40 minutes.

This is a back-to-back championship with a blend of talents whereby each player helps maximize the best attributes of his teammates.
Posted by: KobeMVP888 | March 26, 2011 at 09:45 AM

and add that also helps to hide the flaws of each player. The Lakers are the team with more talent in the world. Enjoy them


The donation of Gasol and any member of the NBA family seems perfect, whether it's time, effort or money.
I think Mark Medina and LA Time has its editorial line, but I do not want to disrespect anyone. This is a good place to give the opinion of the lakers and democracy lets all give our opinion, however different they are. No problems.

CyberCosmiX, I forgot to tell you that if you need anything from Tenerife or the Canary Islands do not hesitate to ask. Greetings

MM - I think there was a bit of an overreaction to what was a minor mistake on your part.Here is my two cents -

You'd be the last person I'd figure as someone who would try and belittle another man's effort for helping people in dire need.I know you weren't trying to do that but that is how it came across in your article.The context you say you were trying to provide is lost on me since I see no purpose in comparing Pau's salary with his contribution. I don't think too many people are contributing amounts commensurate with their earnings.

Thanks for removing that comment.You are a fair man who can always be counted on to have his heart in the right place.Keep up the good work :)

GOD BLESS YOU PHIL, KOBE AND THE LAKER PLAYERS. YOU'RE A BLESSING FROM GOD. JEREMIAH 29:11 STAY HUMBLE, RESPECTFUL AND LOVING AND EVEN THE SKY WON'T BE THE LIMIT. ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE. BELIEVE YOU CAN CATCH THE SPURS AND YOU WILL. JEREMIAH 32: 27


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