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Category: Basketball News

NBA lockout: There must be a 2011-12 season

David Stern

As deadlines passed to salvage part of the 2011-12 season, both the owners and players union kicked the can down the road, believing a deal of their liking will eventually offset the canceled games and lost revenue.

Each fallout has spurred both sides to speak with inflamed rhetoric, offer doomsday threats and further stall negotiatons. The approach masks a collective arrogance that's beyond reproach. Neither side has believed that holding firm to a position will push it into a point of no return. That point where continued defiance will just result in a worse deal. That point where canceled games and lost money will cause irreparable damage to the league's brand. That point where a significant number of fans will eventually throw their hands up in disgust and walk away from something they once loved.

Surely, casual fans don't pay attention to the NBA playoffs once the Christmas Day games start, or even the postseason. Our nation's history has shown that once sports leagues end their labor strife, fans happily return, albeit in a delayed fashion. But in a sagging economy, the owners and players trade association are playing a serious game of chicken that could result in a huge accident. Owners calculate the players will crack more as they continue to lose paychecks. Players calculate owners will soon reveal their united front is a sham as they continue to lose money at the gate. Both at this point have refused to blink.

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Caught in the Web: Detailing how the Lakers are shaping up in training camp

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--The Times' Broderick Turner explains how Lakers forward Lamar Odom is the team's handy man.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding has the details on the Lakers' trip to London and Barcelona.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky sticks up for Andrew Bynum.

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper argues that Bynum should have undergone surgery earlier.

--Ball Don't Lie's Trey Kerby takes a look at Sasha Vujacic's denim line.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin explains how Vujacic has looked good in training camp thus far.

--The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller looks at how Derrick Caracter is fitting in with the Lakers.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford sizes up how Vujacic will fit in the rotation.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell explains why Phil Jackson would like to have longer practices.

--Silver Screen and Roll's Gil Meriken breaks down Theo Ratliff's game.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano argues that the Lakers will be able to absorb Bynum's absence.

--Lakers of Fire's Garrett Wilson explains what Ratliff could provide in Bynum's absence.

Tweet of the Day: "S.Blake and D.Ebanks dived to the floor to wrestle for a loose ball today. Two hungry players looking for 1st ring, helping team get 3rd" -- mcten (ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin)

Reader Comment of the Day: "You always need a Sasha in your team, when things are not going right, an opposing player is dominating the game, here comes Sasha. He will change the dynamics of the evening with his irritating body contact on your face, it's sort of annoyance and when he is called foul, he will give an innocent face: "what me?.'" -- Edwin Gueco

-- Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Kobe Bryant flips a basketball behind his back as he is videotaped during Lakers media day at the Toyota Sports Center on Saturday. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

Theo Ratliff and Derrick Caracter to have increased roles during Andrew Bynum's absence

The Lakers would have preferred not to be in this position, especially this soon. But they structured their roster so the team would be ready in case it happened.

With Lakers center Andrew Bynum expected to miss the entire preseason -- and in Phil Jackson's estimation the first two to three weeks of the regular season because of rehabilitation efforts after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee this off-season -- the next two months should feature a lot of shuffling in the roster.

Afforded an entire off-season of rest, Pau Gasol will see more time on the floor. Lamar Odom, fresh off a stint with Team USA's FIBA World Championship run, in which he played center, could see time at the 3, 4 and 5 spots. And this could also give the Lakers an opportunity to see how more of a perimeter-oriented lineup would look when the size advantage doesn't prove to be a necessity.

But more than likely, Bynum's absence will lead to increased court time for rookie Derrick Caracter and 37-year-old veteran Theo Ratliff. Each of them enter this scenario in different circumstances.

"I just have to mentally focus in," said Caracter, whom the Lakers drafted out of Texas El Paso with their 58th pick. "Mentally, I have to do the same thing that got me here and do the same thing now and even more. Focus in on learning the triangle and the different options out of it, and stepping in and being confident."

"There's no pressure," said Ratliff, a 15-year veteran who signed with the Lakers this off-season for a one-year, $1.35-million contract. "I'm going to go out there and do the things I've been doing my whole career, play defense and make sure I stay in the offense."

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Lakers' Jordan Farmar gets contract offer from New Jersey

Jordan Farmar said Sunday that he has gotten a contract offer from the New Jersey Nets, but that he hasn't signed it yet.

Farmar, who spent his first four NBA seasons with the Lakers, said the offer was for three years and $12 million.

"It's on the table," Farmar said in a phone interview. "Both sides are trying to figure some things out. I'm definitely interested."

Farmar became an unrestricted free agent when the Lakers decided at the end of July not to enxtend the 6-foot-2 guard a qualfying offer. That meant the Lakers couldn't match any offer Farmar got from another team.

Farmar won two NBA championships with the Lakers, but he has always felt his style of play was not best suited for the triangle offense.

Farmar also has wanted to be a starter with the Lakers, but has spent the last three seasons behind Derek Fisher, who still is in negotiations with the Lakers and Miami Heat for a multi-year contract.

If Farmar does sign a deal with the Nets, he'll probably still will be a back-up point guard behind Devin Harris.


-- Broderick Turner

Caught in the Web: Reactions to Lakers' 89-67 Game 6 victory over Boston Celtics

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Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan details how the Lakers dominated the Celtics on Tuesday in their 89-67 Game 6 victory.

--The Boston Globe's Julian Benbow calls the Celtics' effort a "Hollywood flop."

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding contrasts the Lakers' Game 6 performance with their poor play in Game 5.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's David Lassen says the Lakers' swagger made the difference.

--The Boston Herald's Mark Murphy explains why the Celtics had trouble closing out the series.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford believes the Lakers will win the championship if they duplicate their Game 6 performance.

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan highlights the contributions from Lakers forward Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.

--The Boston Globe's Benbow and Frank Dell'Apa detail Kendrick Perkins' injury.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr tells why Derek Fisher doesn't believe in leprechauns.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Lassen keys in on the Lakers' rebounding advantage.

--The Boston Herald's Mark Murphy focuses on the Celtics' poor rebounding.

--The Daily News' Teaford explains why history is not on the Lakers' side in winning the title.

Sidebars

--The Times' Broderick Turner explains what led to Lakers forward Ron Artest having a turnaround game.

--The Times' Lisa Dillman gives back the Lakers' reserves their "Bench Mob" nickname.

--The Times' Baxter Holmes highlights the contention from Glen "Big Baby" Davis that the Celtics will win Game 7. Holmes also focuses on how Perkins' injury affected Boston.

--The Daily News' Phil Collin credits the effort from the Lakers' bench.

Columns

--The Times' Bill Plaschke notices that the Lakers played out of desperation.

--The Times' T.J. Simers takes Jeff Van Gundy to task for his contention that the media don't fully recognize Kobe Bryant's talent.

--The Times' Mark Heisler notes how typical it is for Lakers-Celtics Finals match-ups to go seven games.

--Former Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy argues in The Times that the Lakers won Game 6 because of teamwork.

--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande looks at how this game had added meaning for Artest.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore isn't surprised by how competitive this series is.

--The Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett criticizes the Celtics for doing everything the hard way.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Matt Calkins highlights the Lakers' pride.

--The Orange County Register's Ding believes that the Lakers will win Game 7.

--Former Laker Rick Fox explains at ESPN Los Angeles why home-court advantage makes such a difference.

--ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg wonders if the Celtics will draw inspiration from Perkins' injury.

--Yahoo! Sports' Johnny Ludden credits the Lakers' team effort

--Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix breaks down the game.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi calls the Lakers-Celtics Game 7 Finals match-up a "dream come true."

--ESPN Boston's Peter May faults the Celtics' bench and poor rebounding.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin thinks the Lakers look like a championship-caliber team.

--The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller likes the Lakers' attitude.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Gregg Patton explains what caused the Lakers' bench to wake up.

--The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan faults the Celtics for not showing up.

--The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy believes that the only thing going in the Celtics favor is their favorable history.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne looks at how the Lakers are trying to put the 2008 Finals loss behind them.

--ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan reports that Perkins won't play in Game 7.

--Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen believes that it's fitting the Finals will go to seven games, considering the Lakers-Celtics history. He also gives his take in the video below on who the Finals MVP will be.

--The Orange County Register's Mark Whicker focuses on the Lakers' bench.

--Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski expects a classic in Game 7.

Blogs

--True Hoop's Kevin Arnovitz breaks down the Lakers' defense in Game 6.

--Celtic Blog's Jeff Clark faults Boston's rebounding effort.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius credits the Lakers' energy.

--Silver Screen and Roll's DexterFishmore highlights the Lakers' defensive efficiency.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky credits the Lakers' team effort.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell explains why the Lakers were clicking on all cylinders.

Tweet of the Day: "Boston’s Glen "Big Baby" Davis on Game 7: “I can’t wait. I can’t wait to step up on the floor and win here in L.A.” -- KevinDing (Orange County Register Lakers beat reporter Kevin Ding)

Reader Comment of the Day: May this serve as a lesson to all Laker fans: never give up on your team. The only thing certain is that one team is gonna be awfully heartbroken on Thursday night, and methinks it's gonna be Boston. -- EJK

-- Mark Medina

twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers fans show their support outside Staples Center before the start of Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Caught in the Web: Previewing Game 4 of Lakers-Suns series

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Lakers links

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan explains how the Lakers plan to attack the Suns' zone defense.

--The Times' Broderick Turner details the Lakers' second-quarter breakdown in Game 3.

--ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reports that the Chicago Bulls have reached out to Phil Jackson.

--Yahoo! Sports Johnny Ludden believes it's in the Lakers' best interests to rest Andrew Bynum in Game 4.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Matt Calkins discusses why the Lakers plan to play Bynum in Game 4.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding focuses on how the Lakers plan to sharpen their offensive execution.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky discuss the Lakers' Game 3 loss, Amare Stoudemire's improved play, Phoenix's improved defense and a look ahead to Game 3 in their latest podcast.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin credits the Lakers for taking an even-keel approach to the loss.

--The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller highlights Derek Fisher's physical play.

--Fox Sports' Charley Rosen wonders how the Lakers will respond to Phoenix's zone in Game 4.

--Sports Illustrated's Dan Shaughnessy is looking forward to a Lakers-Celtics Finals showdown.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford examines the Lakers' decision not to rest center Bynum in Game 4.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell has a complete practice report from Tuesday's practice.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius documents what mental adjustments the Lakers need to make in Game 4.

--Silver Screen and Roll's DexterFishmore previews Game 4.

Suns links

--The Times' Turner highlights Phoenix's willingness to play zone again in Game 4.

--The Times' Mark Heisler showcases how Stoudemire's inconsistency leaves his future with Phoenix in doubt.

--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande points to the Suns' loose and fun demeanor as a big reason they have stayed in contention with the Lakers.

--The Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley argues that Robin Lopez serves as Phoenix's missing link.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore illustrates how Lopez's contributions caught the Lakers off guard.

--The Arizona Republic's Paul Coro details how the Sun's zone defense caught the Lakers off guard.

--NBA.com's Art Garcia credits the Suns for increasing their intensity in Game 3.

--The Arizona Republic's Doug Haller reports Channing Frye will remain in the Suns' rotation.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Greg Patton argues that it doesn't matter if zone defenses are "manly," so long as they work.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne credits Suns General Manager Steve Kerr for assembling the team's current roster.

--The Daily News' Teaford observes that Phoenix Coach Alvin Gentry became rather defensive about his team's zone defense.

--The Arizona Republic's Bob Young showcases Steve Nash's heavy tolerance for pain.

--Valley of the Suns' Mike Schmitz breaks down the Suns' zone defense.

Radio Interview

I discussed the Lakers' Game 3 loss to Phoenix with Sports Nutz's Mike Pilosof and Michael Gay on Z-92/K-101-FM (based in Woodward, Oklahoma).

Tweet of the Day: "If Phil was to return to Chicago who should coach the Lakers? Kobe player coach" -- Rickafox (Former Laker Rick Fox).

Reader Comment of the Day: "I'm glad Bynum is going to play. The high/low game of his and Pau's will be just the recipe that we need to kill the zone." -- Rocky

-- Mark Medina

twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Suns power forward Amare Stoudemire (background) grabs a rebound from Lakers forwards Lamar Odom (7) and Ron Artest (37) in the first half of Game 3 on Sunday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Bynum expected to play in Game 4, but will Lakers break Suns' zone?

Fabforum_500

Center Andrew Bynum will probably play in Game 4, but the Lakers had another dilemma: what to do with the Phoenix Suns' zone defense.

The Lakers said they had never seen so much zone in an NBA game, particularly in the playoffs. But now they say they'll try to find a way to beat it Tuesday by penetrating more often and, of course, shooting better from the outside in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

Pau Gasol had only one shot in the fourth quarter of Game 3 on Sunday as the Suns pulled away from the Lakers, 118-109, and pulled within a game of evening their best-of-seven series.

"The zone forced us to go away from the inside," said Gasol, who made 11 of 14 shots and had 23 points. "It limited touches in there."

Gasol sees plenty of zone defense when playing internationally on the Spanish national team, but the Suns' use of it from the second quarter onward was a novelty in an NBA game, Gasol said.

"That's the first time probably that I've ever seen it that long," he said.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he had never seen that much zone defense "in a playoff game."

The Lakers set a franchise playoff record by shooting 32 times from three-point range and made only nine.

"Got to be more aggressive," Kobe Bryant said. "We're standing around the perimeter way too much."

Meanwhile, Jackson said he was no longer considering sitting Bynum in Game 4 after a string of punchless performances by the 22-year-old.

Slowed by torn cartilage in his right knee for almost four weeks, Bynum had two points and two rebounds in less than eight minutes Sunday.

"I think he's going to be fine," Jackson said Monday before the Lakers practiced. "I talked to him this morning. He feels like he's OK. I was worried that he was impinging his ability to play by being concerned about his health or his status. He said he's OK."

Jackson thought Bynum might not have been getting full extension on his knee because of the brace he was wearing, so the Lakers will look at adjusting or changing it.

Bynum declined to blame his injury for his recent struggles. Four of his last five games have been quiet at best, including Sunday's foul-plagued effort. He had four fouls and was never a factor.

"I'm not putting it on the knee," he said. "I've been able to play well with it. The pain has been the same. It hasn't increased."

Surgery had been out of the question, the Lakers reiterated, because Bynum's return this season would have been questionable when the injury happened April 30 against Oklahoma City.

"Everything he's done with therapy and procedures in the past have taken longer" than expected for his recovery, Jackson said. "Three or four weeks would have been six or eight."

The NBA Finals, if the Lakers get there, begin June 1 or 3.

In other injury news, Suns guard Steve Nash was diagnosed with a minimally displaced nasal fracture and also displaced cartilage in the nose, though he won't miss any time. He was injured in the fourth quarter of Game 3 after being fouled by Derek Fisher. 

-- Mike Bresnahan, reporting from Phoenix

Photo: Forward Louis Amundson #17 of the Phoenix Suns reaches for the ball against Andrew Bynum of the Lakers in Game 3. Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Caught in the Web: Reactions to Lakers' 104-99 Game 1 victory over Utah Jazz

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Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan explains why the Lakers' 104-99 Game 1 victory Sunday over the Utah Jazz didn't exactly entail an inspiring performance.

--NBA.com's Bryan Chu details how Kobe Bryant's health has improved.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding highlights Bryant's fourth-quarter effort.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's David Lassen details the Lakers' late-game defensive stops.

--The Salt Lake Tribune's Ross Siler explains all that went wrong in Utah's effort against the Lakers.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford notes how the Lakers have often allowed teams to come back after a strong start.

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan reports that Andrew Bynum will play through his latest knee injury, because surgery to repair a slight tear in the anterior horn of cartilage in his right knee would sideline him for four to six weeks.

--The Times' Broderick Turner explains why Utah Coach Jerry Sloan wants the Jazz to toughen up.

--The Times' Turner documents Derek Fisher's improvement.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr reports that Ron Artest was offended by Deron Williams' suggestion that he's quicker than Artest.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Lassen highlights Fisher's contributions.

--The Salt Lake Tribune's Steve Luhm believes Bryant played Sunday like the league MVP.

--The Daily News' Jill Painter details how Wesley Matthews tried guarding Bryant.

--The Salt Lake Tribune's Siler details Utah's poor start.

--The Daily News' Teaford reports that reserve guard Sasha Vujacic could play at some point in the Jazz series.

Columns

--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande says the Lakers' bench is faltering.

--The Times' Bill Plaschke credits Lamar Odom's fourth-quarter effort.

--The Times' T.J. Simers criticizes the Lakers' underachieving performance against Utah.

--The Times' Mark Heisler details the Lakers' familiarity with Utah.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore focuses on the Lakers' poor bench.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Matt Calkins says the Lakers reserves played so poorly, they should feel fortunate they play in the same facility as the Clippers.

--The Orange County Register's Ding argues that the Lakers need to have better teamwork while Bynum recovers from his injuries.

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper explains how Sloan and Lakers Coach Phil Jackson are complete opposites.

--Sports Illustrated's Frank Hughes argues that Bryant is back in full form.

--The Salt Lake Tribune's Kurt Kragthorpe argues that C.J. Miles' missed shot late in the game proved to be a turning point.

--Fox Sports' Mark Kriegel explains why Utah has such a tough time against the Lakers.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi argues that Utah lacks toughness.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin details the Kobe face, and how it might be needed this postseason.

--The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller wasn't impressed with the Lakers' Game 1 victory.

--The Salt Lake Tribune's Gordon Monson believes that toughness is the main ingredient Utah needs to overcome its lack of talent compared with the Lakers.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Gregg Patton argues that the Lakers can't take Utah for granted, even if it's warranted for fans and the media to do so.

--Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears shares his skepticism on Bynum's decision to delay surgery.

Blogs

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky talk about the Lakers' up-and-down performance, with analysis and video.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell credits Bryant and Pau Gasol as the key contributors to the win.

--ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin explains why the Lakers' length will continue posing problems for the Jazz.

--Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus has a detailed breakdown of Game 1.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius has seen the Lakers play up-and-down one too many times.

--Silver Screen and Roll's Dexter Fishmore believes there's no use trying to analyze the Lakers' Game 1 victory.

Other Lakers links

--In an interview with the L.A. Times Magazine's Tom Murray, we learn what irritates Bryant the most. It's not questions about his injuries or about LeBron James winning the league MVP award. It's dog feces.

--I also did an a few interviews Sunday night talking about the Lakers. That included one with Fox Sports Radio's Sean Farham and Pooh Richardson (audio file below)

Fox Sports Radio


I also appeared The Point After on WBSU-89.1, based out of Brockport, NY.

WBSU-89.1



Tweet of the Day: "You can't give up that putback to Lamar Odom. You can't let Kobe Bryant drive all the way down the lane for layup." -- tribjazz (Salt Lake Tribune's Utah Jazz beat reporter Ross Siler)

Reader Comment of the Day: "When the Lakers are firing on all cylinders, there's not a team in the league that can stop them. The problem is, they fire on all cylinders so infrequently that we all fear a wasted season. The truth is, the Lakers are their own worst adversary." -- Tim-4-Show

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who scored 13 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, scores on a driving layup down the lane against Utah forwards Carlos Boozer, left, and Paul Millsap with 22 seconds left in the game Sunday. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

Phil Jackson split on poor shooting from Ron Artest and Derek Fisher

The Lakers have shot 39.7% through the first two games of the NBA playoffs, but Coach Phil Jackson said he's not concerned with those numbers unless the team gets eliminated from the postseason. He believes the team just needs to build a rhythm, but the Lakers' perimeter shooting has been inconsistent most of the regular season. And with the Thunder blocking a 17 shots in Game 2 against the Lakers, a playoff record for Lakers opponents, Jackson knows the main challenge heading into Game 3 Thursday at Oklahoma City.

Sure, the Lakers now have a resurgent Kobe Bryant, who overcame his recent shooting struggles by leading a fourth-quarter charge in Game 2. They also have forward Pau Gasol, whose consistency has resulted in seven double doubles in the last nine games. And the Lakers' 2-0 lead suggests they should eliminate the Thunder, because a top-seeded team has never lost to an eighth-seeded team after winning the series' first two games. 

But Lakers center Andrew Bynum provides a perfect example on why the team could use another scoring option. He came back from an injury to his left Achilles' tendon without a hitch in Game 1, but the Oklahoma City defense locked down on him inside in Game 2, limiting him to six points on three-of-nine shooting. Though he expects to play in Game 3 despite missing Wednesday's practice to get more treatment, there's no telling how effective he could be Thursday night.

That means there are others who need to fill the void. Jackson has called out forward Lamar Odom, who is averaging 5.5 points and shooting 30.8% this series. But there are other struggling players in the lineup.  Forward Ron Artest may have locked down Thunder forward Kevin Durant to 28 points on 38% shooting along with six turnovers a game, but his numbers aren't much better. Sure, Artest isn't the main option on offense, but his six points per game average on 28% shooting has disrupted the triangle offense. Yet, Artest, who's been nursing sore fingers, downplayed any offensive problems and even suggested in the video below that his main concern involves his effectiveness on defense. When I followed up and asked if that means he's not really worried about his offensive numbers, Artest shrugged and didn't answer the question.

Continue reading »

Caught in the Web: Reactions to Lakers' 95-92 victory over Oklahoma City

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Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan notes Kobe Bryant's late-game theatrics in the Lakers' 95-92 Game 2 victory Tuesday over Oklahoma City, but believes there are many serious issues the team needs to iron out.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding argues Oklahoma City has proved it belongs in the playoffs.

--It may not have been pretty, but the Riverside Press Enterprise's David Lassen says the Lakers have a comfortable 2-0 lead over the Thunder.

--The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry explains why OKC has a good shot to win the series even if it trails 2-0.

---The Daily News' Elliott Teaford details how Oklahoma City gave the Lakers a difficult time in Game 2.

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan details the unveiling of Chick Hearn's statue outside Staples Center.

--The Orange County Register has a photo gallery of all the sights and sounds regarding Hearn's dedication.

--The Times' Broderick Turner explains the dichotomy that is Ron Artest's impressive defense and deplorable offense. 

--The Riverside Press Enterprise's Lassen explains what's up with D.J. Mbenga's hair.

--The Oklahoman's Mayberry and Barry Tramel note why asking Durant about Jackson doesn't exactly put him in the best mood.

--The Daily News' Teaford notes Jackson's analysis on Bryant's injuries.

Columns

--The Times' Bill Plaschke believes the Lakers are suffering an identity crisis.

--The Times' T.J. Simers expresses amusement over Bryant's and Phil Jackson's non-communicative relationship.

--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande highlights how Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant believes his son still has what it takes to stay on top of the game.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore argues Bryant's 39-point performance in Game 2 served as a response to Jackson's challenge for him to fix up his game.

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper argues the Thunder will have a tough time scraping out of a 2-0 series deficit.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding explains why the Lakers aren't shooting well.

--It never ceases to amaze Fox Sports' Mark Kriegal when he witnesses Bryant bailing out his team again.

--Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix gives a nuts-and-bolts rundown of the game.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi explains difficulty the Thunder had in stopping the Lakers.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin chalks up Bryant's fourth-quarter resurgence to going back to the basics.

--The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller is impressed with Bryant's fourth-quarter heroics, but not the rest of his game.

--The Riverside Press Enterprise's Gregg Patton is impressed with how the Thunder is playing.

--The Oklahoman's Tramel believes the Thunder has become a much better team, despite these two losses to the Lakers.

Blogs

--The Times' Lisa Dillman recounts her conversation with Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant in the Fabulous Forum blog.

--The Daily Thunder details how Oklahoma City folded in the final minutes.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky break down the key parts of the game along with video interviews.

--Forum Blue and Gold gives credit to Lakers forward Pau Gasol for also being instrumental in the victory.

--Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus has a detailed rundown of the game.

--Pro Basketball Talk's John Krolik explains how the Lakers managed a win even after scrapping their initial game plan.

--Silver Screen and Roll can't help but notice how the Lakers are aging.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell details Bryant's statement game.

Tweet of the Day: "Walked with Kid Rock after Lakers win turns to me and says "F***, Whooo, Whooo" -- DuranLA (710 ESPN's Beto Duran).

Reader Comment of the Day: "OK, it wasn't pretty but the thing I like about both games is that the Lakers might not play well for the whole 48, but they're playing hard for the whole 48. That's a big deal. OKC is probably the best lower seed in the playoffs, experience or not, and you have to give them credit for playing well. I don't remember seeing a game with that many blocks. That was a legit block party." -- Mark G

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tries to finish his shot after getting fouled on a drive against Oklahoma City's Jeff Green (22) and Nick Collison (lower right) in the fourth quarter Tuesday night. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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