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Category: Basketball News

Caught in the Web: Previewing Game 2 of Lakers-Thunder series

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Lakers links

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan details the Lakers' varied moods after Monday's practice.

--The Times' Mark Heisler expresses concern about Kobe Bryant's assorted injuries.

--The Times' Broderick Turner details the adjustments Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons wants to see the team make in Game 2 against Oklahoma City.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore highlights how Oklahoma City guard and former UCLA standout Russell Westbrook gave the Lakers fits in Game 1.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr highlights the media circus surrounding the Lakers. She also lays out some possibilities on why Bryant has been struggling lately.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky highlights how Shannon Brown's patience in Game 1 paid off in a few sequences.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's David Lassen details the Lakers' struggle in playing a complete game.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Doug Mann does some number crunching from Game 1.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi reports that Lakers froward Ron Artest considers defense to be his drug. It's unlikely in this case the Lakers will stage an intervention and force him into rehab.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin details Bryant's grumpy mood after Monday's practice. To McMenamin's credit, he was the lone reporter to get Bryant to smile after asking him about D.J. Mbenga's glasses.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford has medical updates on Lakers centers Andrew Bynum and D.J. Mbenga.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell catches up Lakers reserve guard Jordan Farmar.

--The Orange County Register's Randy Youngman explains why the first round of the NBA playoffs puts him to sleep.

--Silver Screen and Roll anticipates the necessary Game 2 adjustments.

Thunder links

--The Daily Thunder has a detailed video breakdown on how Artest limited Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant in Game 1.

--Though Durant shot only seven-of-24 in Game 1, his teammates express confidence to The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry that Durant will have a much better outing in Game 2. Mayberry also explains what makes Thunder forward Jeff Green such a versatile defender.

--The Oklahoman's Barry Tramel argues Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook, given his Game 1 success against the Lakers, should try to take over the series.

--Lakers.com has details on Chick Hearn's statue unveiling.

National links

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper explains why Durant loves Oklahoma City so much, even if he's not offered a long-term contract.

--NBA Fanhouse's Sam Amick details the difficulties Bryant must overcome with his various injuries.

--ESPN.com's John Hollinger gives his take on what adjustments the Lakers and Thunder need to make in Game 2.

Don't have an insider subscription? No worries. Sports Illustrated's Britt Robson breaks down the adjustments he anticipates in Game 2.

--Sports Illustrated has a nice collection of Bryant pictures from his storied career. My, how much he has grown.

--Fox Sports' Randy Hill wonders whether Durant will bounce back from his poor performance.

Tweet of the Day: "if Kobe isn't looking to dominate - which he shouldn't since the bigs should win this series - he makes Sefolosha a non-factor" -- EricPincus (Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus).

Reader Comment of the Day: "Silence runs deep on the part of Kobe. A man who is injured cannot continue to be a miracle worker. He's there in the court with the guys, I think that is enough courage to be applauded by others. Don't expect too much from Kobe. Help Kobe and Kobe's presence on the court will help everyone get their scores. Without Kobe there, other players will have a hard time get their scores especially Bynum and Gasol because they will surely be doubled and fouled hard until they get hurt. It is the Odom, the Farmar, the Artest, the Brown who should contribute more. Kobe will get his score but he cannot be continue to be the workhorse at this time." -- Edwin Gueco.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Kobe Bryant goes for a reverse layup after gliding past Thunder center Nick Collison on Sunday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Lakers Roundtable: Mark Medina and the L.A. Times' Lisa Dillman preview the Lakers-Clippers matchup

There's really nothing to preview here, what with the Lakers facing the Clippers Wednesday night in the regular season finale. Sure, there was that embarrassing 102-91 loss Jan. 6 to the Clippers. But the Lakers have won 10 of the last 11 contests, including their most recent, a 40-point blowout. And clearly both the Lakers and the Clippers can't wait for the regular season to end. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (fractured right index finger) and center Andrew Bynum (left Achilles' tendon) are resting for the playoffs. Baron Davis (sprained right wrist) and Drew Gooden (sore right knee) will also remain on the sidelines. The Lakers (56-24) are looking ahead to the playoffs, and the Clippers (28-53) are looking ahead to free agency.

There will be plenty of analysis leading into the Lakers-Oklahoma City playoff matchup, aside from just how NBA2K10 believes the Lakers will win the series in five. But I thought I'd briefly interrupt that conversation and get a take from L.A. Times Clippers reporter Lisa Dillman on that team's future.

Among the highlights:

--How Blake Griffin's season-ending injury and a horrifying experience in Memphis served as the turning point toward a failed season

--Why the Clippers sorely miss Marcus Camby

--The Clippers' chances of landing LeBron James

--The future of the team, including nine free agents and interim coach Kim Hughes.

You can read more of Dillman's work at The Times' website and you can also follow her on Twitter.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Caught in the Web: Lakers preparing for five-game trip

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Practice reports

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan takes a look at the teams the Lakers will face on their five-game trip.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr observes Lamar Odom's insistence to fight through his left- shoulder injury and not make excuses about it.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's David Lassen documents how the Lakers plan to increase their intensity in the remaining 12 games of the regular season.

--Though Lakers Coach Phil Jackson says the five-game trip won't "make or break" the team's chances of holding the top spot in the West, the Daily News' Elliott Teaford reports that Jackson still expects the team to win all five games. The story also mentions forward Luke Walton is hoping to fully recover from a pinched nerve in his lower back in time for the postseason.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell breaks down some numbers for Wednesday night's game between the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.

--The Spurs have won 11 of their last 15 games, and the San Antonio Express-News' Mike Monroe deems their matchup with the Lakers will ultimately tell if the team is truly in sync.

More Lakers links

--Still debating whether Trevor Ariza or Ron Artest is a better fit for the Lakers? Well, Artest told The Times' Bill Plaschke, "he's a better player than me," though Plaschke noted his comment "contained some annoyed sarcasm."

--Former Times writer Steve Springer has a revealing Q&A with Lakers owner Jerry Buss.

--The Register's Carr highlights Kobe Bryant's popularity in Turkey.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky provides 20 reasons why Lakers fans should be happy with the season thus far.

--Silver Screen and Roll's Dexter Fishmore previews the Lakers' upcoming trip and further analyzes how San Antonio, Portland and Oklahoma City could be first-round opponents.

--48 Minutes of Hell breaks down Kobe versus LeBron

--Fox Sports' Kelani Simpson explains why a Kobe-LeBron matchup in the Finals must happen.

Tweet of the Day: "Mark Jackson sitting behind me on LAX-SA flight. Safe assumption game on ESPN and he's not going to San Antonio on holiday?" -- KevinDing (Orange County Register Lakers reporter Kevin Ding).

Photo Caption Comment of the Day: "Kobe showing the team what he meant by "use your head." -- puddle

Reader Comment of the Day: "Sometimes, you just have to sit back and smile because Phil comes off just like a dog trainer, doling out carrots or sticks as needed and providing a consistent and nurturing environment for the pups to grow, develop, and bond as a team. While he likes to win every game, Phil’s genius lies in his unique ability to build team play and chemistry where every player knows and executes his role perfectly. This is the road trip when I expect this team to start to display their championship mettle." -- Tom

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com.

Photo: Kobe Bryant takes aim between the Spurs' Keith Bogans and Tony Parker. Credit: Brendan Maloney / US Presswire

Caught in the Web: Lakers chalk up a win as they fail to dominate Golden State

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Game Stories

-- The Times' Mike Bresnahan chalks up the Lakers' 124-121 victory over Golden State to the team's usual display of complacency.

-- The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding points to the Lakers' poor pick-and-roll defense as the main reason they struggled getting the win.

-- NBA.com's Geoff Lepper explains why Kobe Bryant isn't going to take much away from the ugly win.

-- The San Francisco Chronicle's Rusty Simmons quotes Warriors center Chris Hunter blaming the loss to the Lakers on the "Invisible Man."

-- The Daily News' Elliott Teaford highlighted many of the Lakers' shortcomings they eventually overcame.

-- The Oakland Tribune's Marcus Thompson II reports Warriors guard Stephen Curry asked Lakers guard Kobe Bryant if he was worried in the final moments of the game. Bryant responded with a snicker.

Notebooks

-- The Times' Mike Bresnahan notes a few issues, including the Lakers' number of hand injuries, their admiration for the Portland Trail Blazers, the NCAA men's basketball tournament and Pau Gasol's hard foul on Phoenix center Louis Admunson being upgraded to a flagrant foul Type I.

-- The Daily News' Elliott Teaford reports Lakers guard Derek Fisher believes the team is on its upside and has enough time to improve before the regular season ends.

Columns

-- The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding explains why the relationship between Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol is strong.

Blogs

-- For the zero defense the Lakers and Warriors put on display, the performance inevitably brought back memories of playing NBA Jam. Well, there's a new version coming out (kudos to SB Nation)

-- Ball Don't Lie's Trey Kerby likes how Gasol looks without any braces.

-- ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky doesn't like to place too much important on one contest in an 82-game schedule, but he considered Lakers' play against Golden State too troubling to ignore.

-- Forum Blue and Gold went to the game and had a good time.

-- Golden State of Mind argues that Warriors Coach Don Nelson is the right man for the job, even if others don't believe so.

-- Lakers.com's Mike Trudell has a running diary of the Lakers' game.

-- Silver Screen and Roll is impressed with Curry, but not so much with the Lakers.

League rankings

-- ESPN's John Hollinger provides his latest calculations.

-- Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix predicts the Lakers won't be able to keep pace with the Dallas Mavericks.

-- Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus explains why the Lakers' three-game winning streak doesn't warrant the team moving up in the rankings.

-- ESPN's Marc Stein dissects Bryant's shot selection.

Tweet of the Day: "You'll see better defense in pickup games at Venice Beach." - Mike_Bresnahan (The Times' Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan on the team's poor defense against Golden State).

Reader Comment of the Day: "just played it all and there were about 5 too much info moments on it. Lamar has the best smile though, he is a great interview along with being a funny guy." -- CyberCosmiX on Lakers forward Lamar Odom and wife Khloe Kardashian appearing on "Lopez Tonight."

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: The Lakers' starting five -- from left, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant -- gather after a foul was called against the Warriors on Monday night. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images.

Bryant late because of intestinal issues, Artest on time with new haircut

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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant missed the team bus and showed up 18 minutes late for pre-game activities Sunday because of intestinal issues, according to the team.

He is still expected to play against Orlando, though it is unclear when he fell ill.

"I have no idea," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "I wasn't in his room last night at all. I wasn't there with him. I didn't eat dinner with him either. So maybe he had something that wasn't good at dinner."

In totally unrelated news, Ron Artest arrived with a new dye job and several inscriptions in his hair. He declined to talk about it before the game, though Jackson said he thought it said "defense" in three different languages. Artest will presumably talk about it after the game.

-- Mike Bresnahan

Photo: All-Star guard Kobe Bryant brings the ball up court against Charlotte on Friday night. Credit: Sam Sharpe / US Presswire

Kobe Bryant plans on playing against Memphis

Kobe Bryant, who has missed the last five games with a sprained left ankle, practiced Saturday and said he plans on playing Tuesday when the Lakers play at Memphis.

Bryant will have been out for 18 days since he last played in a game.

He said the ankle was still sore after practice Saturday.

Still, when asked if he was playing on Tuesday, Bryant smiled.

"I should be. If not I'm firing everybody," Bryant said. "It's been long enough."

Sasha Vujacic suffered a sprained right shoulder during Thursday night's game and will be out for several weeks, the Lakers said.

-- Broderick Turner

Caught in the Web: Trades dominate discussion as deadline looms

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The Lakers surely aren't eliciting headlines involving trade talks, like the Dallas Mavericks did, with their recent deal with Washington that brought Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson to the Mavericks in exchange for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross. Or how about the Clippers, who are trading veteran Marcus Camby for Portland forward Travis Outlaw, guard Steve Blake and some cash? Camby told The Times' Kevin Baxter on Monday he wanted to stay, and apparently his teammates wanted to keep hm around. One Clipper told Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, "“All the guys are upset because our best defensive player got traded basically for a backup point guard and money.”

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak recently told The Times' Mike Bresnahan not to anticipate any significant trades (like say Amare Stoudemire). Kupchak told the same thing to Lakers.com's Mike Trudell, but added he is willing to make "tweaks" before Thursday's trade deadline.

The most often talked about "tweak" involves Chicago Bulls forward Kirk Hinrich, who wants to remain a Bull but as often been linked with the Lakers. The combinations appear wide-ranging, going from Jordan Farmar, Adam Morrison and Josh Powell (ESPN insider subscription required), to Shannon Brown and Morrison, to Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic and a three-team trade in which Vujacic would ultimately land in Portland.

But there are complications with all those scenarios, namely involving salary cap implications. And there's also belief that the Lakers are fine with what they have, what with leading the Western Conference with a 41-13 record. Though acknowledging it as a problem, ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky explains why the Lakers' poor point guard play isn't as bad as it seems. The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding argues Vujacic could still provide value to the Lakers. And Forum Blue and Gold raises concerns on how any trade could disrupt team dynamics.

One thing is sure, though. Other teams are making trades to best position themselves to move up the NBA rankings and eventually unseat the defending league champions. Oh yeah, and another thing: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and center Andrew Bynum will return Tuesday night against Golden State, a news item that would get buried during this time of year.

Tweet of the Day: "Lakers family - Favor? U R most passionate & loyal fans in world. My little dog is having cataract surgery today can U send good thoughts?" -- jeaniEBUSS (Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss).

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak says he doesn't plan on making any "significant" trades as the Feb. 18 trade deadline looms. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Kobe Bryant not expected to play; Bynum to get injection; Odom will play

Kobe2 Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was not expected to play in Wednesday night's game against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena here in Salt Lake City, Coach Phil Jackson said after the team's shoot-around earlier in the day.

Perhaps even more disturbing is that Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who also won't play against the Jazz, said he would get a cortisone injection in his bruised right hip sometime next week, probably Monday after the All-Star break.

If Bryant doesn't play against the Jazz and he doesn't play in Sunday's All-Star game at Dallas Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas, he would have had 10 days to rest his ankle. Bryant also would have missed the last three consecutive games.

On a side note, if Bryant doesn't play against Utah, he won't be obligated by the NBA to play in the All-Star game. However, Lakers guard Shannon Brown said Tuesday that Bryant would pass him the ball when he participates in the dunk contest Saturday night of the All-Star weekend.

When Bryant does play in his next game, it will be the 1,000th regular-season game of his 14-year NBA career.

It's looking more and more as if that will come when the Lakers host the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

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Live Lakers-76ers Chat plus a note in changes to the Lakers blog

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The Lakers blog, effective today, will also feature posts from our Lakers' beat writers Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner, giving everyone here more Lakers news and notes for their reading pleasure.

Brez and BT (as I call them) have often supplemented their beat coverage in the newspaper on the Fabulous Forum blog with breaking news tidbits, in-game updates and other supplemental items. The most recent example includes Brez's note on Thursday that Lakers forward Pau Gasol was selected for the NBA All-Star game, hours before the news was officially announced on TNT. Now that coverage will instead appear in the Lakers blog so that we can give you the best and most comprehensive Lakers coverage in the blogosphere.

Beyond that, I will fill the same role I have served these past few weeks, hosting live game chats, writing post-game and practice items, shooting video and finding other ways to satisfy your insatiable Lakers fix. 

I have worked well with Brez and BT for the past nine months in various capacities, and I'm sure you will notice that in our coverage. That may be obvious to you already. After all, they already assigned me a nickname in one of our post-game videos. 

 --Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Kobe Bryant. Credit: Darron Cummings / Associated Press

Caught in the Web: Debating the NBA All-Star snubs, Lakers links

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If it makes Lakers forward Andrew Bynum feel any better, he can take comfort in knowing he's not the only one -- other players also thought they were snubbed by NBA All-Star game selectors.

There was Clippers center Chris Kaman, who leads all centers in the league in scoring but who anticipated well ahead of time that the team's losing record doesn't really impress coaches. There was a deserving player (Cleveland guard Mo Williams) and an undeserving player  (Cavs center Shaquille O'Neal) who didn't make the cut, something Coach Mike Brown says is his fault since he doesn't exactly want players to just pad stats (except for LeBron). And then there are guys like New York's David Lee,  who says he'll just use the rejection as motivation.

Denver guard Chauncey Billups won't complain. He knows he has all-star numbers, but he promised he wouldn't get upset if he was left off the roster (he was). There's no use complaining when you have every media outlet telling you that you were wronged. When you go  through all the lists (here, here, here and there, and over there) and compile all the names, you have enough for multiple All-Snub teams, which the league should announce as a consolation prize. 

Lakers links (after the jump)

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