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Category: April 2011

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Lakers discuss Game 6 victory over New Orleans Hornets


--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Lakers-Mavericks schedule

Photo: Lakers Andrew Bynum is pressured by Maveriks Drew Gooden, left, and Jason Terry at the Staples Center Jan. 3, 2010. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times Expect analysis on the Lakers-Mavericks series starting tomorrow, but for now, here's the schedule.

Forward it to family members, bosses, friends, etc, etc, so that they don't schedule meetings, errands, dinner or anything around these games.

Game 1: Mon., May 2, at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m. Pacific (TNT)

Game 2: Wed., May 4, at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m. Pacific (TNT)

Game 3: Fri., May 6, at Dallas, 6:30 p.m. Pacific (ESPN)

Game 4: Sun., May 8, at Dallas, 12:30 p.m. Pacific (ABC)

Game 5 (if necessary): Tue., May 10, at Staples Center, TBD (TNT)

Game 6 (if necessary): Thurs., May 12, at Dallas, TBD (ESPN)

Game 7 (if necessary): Sun., May 15, at Staples Center, 12:30 p.m. Pacific (ABC)

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers Andrew Bynum is pressured by Maveriks Drew Gooden, left, and Jason Terry at the Staples Center Jan. 3, 2010. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Lakers' 98-80 Game 6 victory over New Orleans featured strong defensive effort

Lakers5_510 The Lakers' makeup doesn't make practice time ripe in preparing for the pick-and-roll offense no matter what they do.

Sure they can dissect film, mimic opposing team's tendencies and run pick-and-roll sequences until it's drilled into their heads. But part of the practice time also entails running the triangle offense, which operates without the traditional point guard and stresses off-ball movement and balanced spacing. Add the Lakers' veteran-laden roster, and it becomes the main area to try to exploit against them, a dicey scenario when they matched up with the New Orleans Hornets in the first round.

But if the Lakers' 98-80 Game 6 victory Thursday over New Orleans taught us anything besides the fact the defending champs survived their first-round series in six games and face the winner of Portland-Dallas in the West semifinals at Staples Center on Monday, it's that the matchup featured an evolution in how they guarded the pick-and-roll and eventually succeeded.

"It's been our weakness in the past," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson told reporters in New Orleans. "We learned a lot about it in the series and we got better."

That learning exercise reached its ending point in Game 6 where the Lakers largely depended on their defense to secure the victory and earn them three days of rest and practice time before the next series. The Lakers held Hornets guard Chris Paul to 10 points on four-for-nine shooting, 11 assists and five turnovers, a severe dropoff to the series average of 24.4 points on 55.9% shooting and the triple-double effort he posted in Game 4. The Lakers limited the Hornets to a 30-for-70 clip from the field (42.9%) and blocked six shots, including two each by Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. And they scored 18 points off 14 turnovers.

But it's not so much the stats that made the Lakers' defensive effort impressive so much as to how they played it.

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Lakers Chat: Lakers vs. Hornets Game 6

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Lakers vs. Hornets Game 6: Lakers 98, Hornets 80

Lakers1_600 Destination, Dallas.

Or Portland.

Either way, the Lakers will be the well-rested host for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal series against the Mavericks or Trail Blazers. They got the weekend off by defeating the Hornets, 98-80, in Game 6 on Thursday night at New Orleans Arena, winning the series, 4-2.

"It was huge," center Andrew Bynum said in his on-court TV interview of finishing the series in six games.

Game 1 of the next round will be Monday night at Staples Center.

To get there, it took three and a half quarters of hard work and tight defense -- the latter part of the fourth was mostly garbage time. The Lakers heroes were many: Bynum was a force early at both ends, finishing with a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds.

To get an idea of how dominant Bynum was in that department: Pau Gasol and Ron Artest combined for 12 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant and his sore left ankle managed a game-high 24 points, going six for 16 from the field. He hit all 10 of his free throws. Gasol had 16 points and Lamar Odom added 14 off the bench.

Hornets point guard Chris Paul, who vowed to come out guns blazing in Game 6, did just the opposite, starting quietly and he didn’t get the supporting help needed and looked dejected on the bench in the final seconds.

Paul got into double-digits late, finishing with 10 points and 11 assists, while power forward Carl Landry led the Hornets with 19 points.


Lakers-Hornets Game 6 box score

Lakers-Hornets Game 6 photo gallery

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Kobe Bryant foul upgraded by NBA

The foul Kobe Bryant committed against New Orleans center Emeka Okafor in Game 5 was upgraded to a flagrant one.

Bryant smacked Okafor across the face and neck with 3:14 left in the game Tuesday night at Staples Center but was called for just a foul on the play.

But after the NBA reviewed the play, Bryant had his foul upgraded.

The Lakers were informed of the upgrade during Thursday's shoot-around.

Incidentally, Okafor missed both free throws on the play.

-- Broderick Turner, reporting from New Orleans

Photo: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, fouls New Orleans Hornets center Emeka Okafor as he goes up for a shot during the second half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Tuesday. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / AP

Kobe Bryant ready to play on injured ankle

Lk6zjqnc Kobe Bryant sat in the stands inside the New Orleans Arena wearing dark sunglasses, just close enough to hear Lakers Coach Phil Jackson talk about the status of his All-Star guard for Thursday night's Game 6.

Bryant had declined to speak with the media about his sprained left ankle, but Jackson did talk about how his star would be limited in the game against the New Orleans Hornets.

"There's limitation on what he can do, obviously, but he tries to overcome," Jackson said at the team's shoot-around. "He's still a guy that's working on not 100%."

Bryant injured his ankle in the fourth quarter of Game 4 on Sunday but played in Game 5 Tuesday night at Staples Center, helping the Lakers open a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series.

Bryant played 29 minutes in Game 5 on the injured ankle, but Jackson wouldn't hesitate to play him more in Game 6.

"It's a matter of where his physical well-being is going to be with the ankle," Jackson said. "It's not whether he plays 28 minutes or 38 minutes. That obviously is going to put a little more stress on the ankle, but I think he can play 40 minutes tonight if he has to."

Jackson said they hoped to close out the series against the Hornets on Thursday night not so much to get some rest but so they don't prolong the series.

"These games are full of physical contact," Jackson said, "and there's plenty of things that can happen that take teams out of their rhythm, take players out of the game."

 -- Broderick Turner, reporting from New Orleans

Photo: Lakers Kobe Bryant grimaces after injuring his ankle against he Hornets in Game 4 of the NBA playoffs in New Orleans Sunday. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times

Lakers have strong record in closeout games

61205634The trend is as reliable as a Lakers sellout game.

The performances become as notable as the Laker flags waving all around Los Angeles.

And the record reveals about the same dominance as the Lakers' 16 NBA championships.

Ever since Phil Jackson took over as the Lakers' head coach in the 1999-2000 season, he has gone 27-7 in closeout games, a good sign for the Lakers entering Game 6 Thursday at New Orleans, where they have a 3-2 series lead. Because of differing personnel, it's misleading to look at the 12-2 closeout mark the Lakers' three-peat teams established in their 2000 to 2002 championship years, pointless to revisit Jackson's only major blip when the Lakers blew a 3-1 series lead to the Phoenix Suns in 2006 and even wonder why it took seven games before the Lakers beat the Houston Rockets in the 2009 semifinals since the defending champions have gone 8-1 in closeout games the last season.

The most valuable blueprint on how the Lakers can close out their first-round series against New Orleans and face the winner between Dallas and Portland in the West Semifinals beginning Monday points to the 2010 postseason, considering their entire starting lineup and Lamar Odom remain on the team. They went 4-0 during closeout games with Game 6 victories against Oklahoma City (first round) and Phoenix (West Finals), a sweep against Utah (West semifinals) and winning that memorable seventh game against Boston (NBA Finals). Below the jump are a few areas the Lakers perfected in closing out the series on the first opportunity.

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Send your fan photos to The Times' Lakers blog

Laker Tom
We here at the Lakers blog know how important the fans are. You’re cheering them on in the stands, diligently watching the game at home (while you scream and yell, of course) and you're even sporting Lakers gear around the city. Now we want to see it!

Since the playoffs have started and the Laker flags are waving, The Times is asking readers to submit their Lakers photos, whether it be you and your family at a game or a pic of the guy on the Metro wearing his purple-and-gold wig on the way to Staples Center. We want it all.

Each week, this blog will feature a Lakers fan photo in one of the "Caught in the Web" posts so the rest of the city can see Angelenos' boundless dedication.

The photo above features frequent Lakers blog member LakerTom and his grandson, Nick, at a Lakers-Warriors game earlier this month in Oracle Arena where they didn't take kindly to the "Beat LA" signs. "As I was starting to take the photo, Nick told me to stop and then picked up one of the "Beat LA" signs and tore it in half and told me now I could take the photo," LakerTom wrote in an e-mail. "I consider this to be Nick’s personal LAKERS MOMENT."

Here's how to submit photos: Perhaps the easiest way is to upload a picture on the L.A. Times' Lakers Facebook page. On the go? Send us your pics through Twitter. Just include the hashtag #latlakers when you create your tweet. And if you’re on Flickr, join the [email protected] photo pool. Or you can just email them to [email protected]

DISCLAIMER: All photos must be: 1) original — because it is so uncool to steal other people’s work; 2) unaltered — you know what we’re saying. We’re looking for a real moment, no showing off every Photoshop skill you ever acquired. Of course, slight exposure and color correction are acceptable; 3) Recent photos, please –- we’re talking current moments, not from your archive collection. Be sure to describe your photograph in detail, including where and when it was taken. Photographers must agree that The Times may reproduce the photos in any format.

-- Sarah Ardalani and Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Caught in the Web: Lakers prepare for Game 6 against New Orleans

--The Times' Mark Heisler explains the "Kobe rules."

--The Times' Lisa Dillman notes the changed optimism among the Lakers after their Game 5 victory over New Orleans.

--The Times' Broderick Turner talks to Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons about the keys to closing the series out in Game 6.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore highlights Monty Williams' complaints about the Lakers' physical play.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr details Trey Johnson's journey from the D-League to the Lakers.

--The Times-Picayune's John DeShazier argues the Hornets need to play more aggressive in Game 6.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding believes Kobe Bryant's killer instinct will come through in Game 6.

--Ball Don't Lie's Eric Freeman loved Kobe Bryant's dunk over Emeka Okafor. Didn't we all.

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