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Category: Boston Celtics

When will Father Time catch Kobe Bryant? Ask him

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These are difficult days for Kobe Bryant.

He said Wednesday he was "obsessed" with slipping a finger into a sixth championship ring, but the Lakers would hardly be termed title-contending material with a 14-11 record.

He seemed nostalgic, almost wistful, when he spoke after the Lakers practiced at TD Garden in Boston. They play the Celtics on Thursday.

At age 33 and with 49,282 minutes on his NBA odometer, it might only get tougher for Bryant.

"That's what I hear," he said. "Father Time will eventually catch up. It’s not going to catch up this year. Maybe it will be next year. Maybe it will be the year after that. That’s the kind of the challenge that I enjoy going through."

Bryant has two more years on his contract, for $58.3 million, after this season.

The Lakers are a work in progress this season, a well-documented 3-9 on the road and one of the NBA's worst-shooting teams from long distance, but Bryant still wants another title to add to his collection of five.

"I’m obsessed about it. I’ve got to get it," he said. "It’s just one of those things. I can think of nothing else.

"As a kid growing up, that’s all I saw. I watched [Larry] Bird, I watched Magic [Johnson] and I watched [Michael] Jordan win multiple titles. You just kind of grow up saying this is how it should be. This is what I must do. I want another one."

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-- Mike Bresnahan in Boston

Photo: The Nuggets' Andre Miller guards Kobe Bryant. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images.

 

Kevin Garnett considered joining Lakers in 2007

Kobe Bryant To this day, the Lakers front office and Kobe Bryant have conflicting accounts about what led to the team acquiring Pau Gasol.

Bryant has said he believes his infamous summer of 2007, when he demanded to be traded, added urgency to make a move. General Manager Mitch Kupchak has acknowledged the need to appease Bryant, but maintained that all trades hinge on the negotiations.

Regardless of whose account is more valid, Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett told Sports Illustrated's Dan Patrick that the drama surrounding Bryant actually kept him from going to the Lakers when they were in trade talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2007. 

"I was pretty close [to going to L.A.] to be honest," Garnett said. "What disturbed me about the whole Laker situation was Kobe [Bryant] and Phil [Jackson] at the time. They was pretty bad. That situation was something I didn't want to get into. It was my choice. There was a lot going on and I didn't want to be a part of it."

Still, it's a stretch for anyone with the Lakers to lament what might have been. No doubt, securing Garnett would've made the Lakers an instant contender. The move could've also denied the Celtics the 2008 NBA title. But consider the reporting from The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Mark Heisler that indicated the Lakers offered Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum in that deal. The report also indicated that Kevin McHale, the former Timberwolves' vice president of basketball operations, didn't like the offer.

The Lakers, instead, managed to land another all-star forward, Gasol, by giving up Kwame Brown, Aaron McKieJavaris Crittenton, two first-round picks and the rights to Pau's brother, Marc, who the Lakers drafted with a second-round pick in 2007. Even though Pau disappeared in the 2011 NBA playoffs and Marc has emerged as another all-star, the Lakers turned out just fine.

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-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Kobe Bryant drives in for a layup against the Celtics in Boston last season. Credit: Getty Images

Rajon Rondo sports purple and gold in Sporting Goods commercial

The mere thought of Rajon Rondo playing for the Lakers would repulse many fans who cheer for the purple and gold.

Rondo plays for the Boston Celtics after all. Then again, many Lakers have worn Celtics uniforms, including Bill Sharman, Rick Fox and Brian Shaw.

But for those who would quickly shed the hatred toward the speedy point guard if he joined the Lakers shouldn't get their hopes up. He signed a five-year, $55-million extension with the Celtics in 2009. Plus the Lakers can't really afford him anyway. And judging from Rondo's reaction in a recent Sporting Goods commercial, he'd be far from excited about wearing the Lakers colors.

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-- Mark Medina

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

Lakers shouldn't see early playoff adversities as lessons

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Considering each run to a championship a journey, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has compared that process to a school year.

The season proves just as long. There are plenty of ups and downs. And there are plenty of teachable moments.

"It's a process that for me I've had great fortune in looking at seasons as something of a long haul where it's going to be an eight-month or seven-and-a-half month project," Jackson said before the 2010-2011 season started. "But in reality, you still have to give import to this opening game or this next game next week or this preseason game."

It's a tough balancing act between ensuring that team members strategically pace themselves without mailing in performances, and ensuring that they play sharp basketball without burning out. The most telling example is the San Antonio Spurs, who looked mostly sharp throughout the season en route to a Western Conference-leading 61-21 record, only to lose a six-game first-round playoff series to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Lakers guard Derek Fisher once argued that the team needs challenges and adversities because that allows for "true growth." That's fair enough, but save those lessons for the regular season.

Continue reading »

Rival centers and the Lakers title run

Shaqbynum Anyone looking ahead to a Lakers-Celtics rubber match in June should know that Shaquille O’Neal turned 39 on Sunday.

Yes, Shaq, is the NBA’s oldest player. When Celtics GM Danny Ainge traded Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder he also rolled the dice on Shaq standing up throughout the playoffs.

Granted, there are no back-to-backs scheduled in the playoffs, but it’s still a long slog to a title. Last spring the Lakers needed 23 playoff contests to win it, and they played 23 games in 2009. Other recent title runs: the Celtics’ 26 games in 2008, the Spurs’ 20 in 2007, and the Heat’s 21 in 2006.

Of the eight plausible title contenders, only the Heat lacks a meaningful center. For the other seven teams, most rely on centers who have carry medical concerns.

Let’s start with the Bulls: Joakim Noah, in his fourth season, looked like an All-Star till he went down and missed 30 games for thumb surgery. Last season he sat out 18 games.

Celtics: For the Shamrock’s, Shaq has laced them up for 36 games and missed 25 — and counting — with knee, hip and Achilles woes. This season Shaq’s PR for consecutive games played is 16.

Lakers: Andrew Bynum at 23 is the youngest of this group. He played in all 23 playoff games last spring, though mostly on one leg. He played limited minutes in their 2009 title run, and missed 21 playoff games in 2008.

Magic: Dwight Howard is Superman, missing three games in seven seasons.

Mavericks: Tyson Chandler, 28, has anchored the paint for Dallas and missed but three of their first 57 games. Now, he’s sat out the last two with a sprained right ankle. Chandler knows downtime: missing 31 games for Charlotte last season, and 36 games for New Orleans in 2008-09.

Spurs: Tim Duncan reaches the NBA’s antique threshold when he turns 35 in April. Wise Gregg Popovich has reduced Duncan’s court time to a career-low 29 minutes.

Thunder: Perkins has yet to play for OKC. He missed 43 games for Boston after reconstructive right knee surgery, then played 12 games and averaged 8.1 boards, bruised his left knee two weeks ago and was traded.

My wager is the last team standing in June is the one with a starting center still able to power up and down the court on two healthy legs.

--Barry Stavro

Photo: Shaquille O’Neal fouls Andrew Bynum in the Lakers-Celtics game at Staples Center in January. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Jerry West clarifies comments about the Lakers' defense and critiques the team's offense

Hearing his critical comments about the Lakers' defense and age repeated to the team at practice and games, dissected on talk radio and analyzed by various outlets, including this one, was a situation that Lakers Hall of Famer Jerry West described as "laughable" and just part of an "endless soap opera."

So what caused such a commotion?

Oh, nothing, other than appearing three weeks ago at the annual Orange County Automobile Dealers Assn. luncheon, as reported by the Orange County Register, and giving his take on various Lakers topics. The talk included concerns about the team's longevity: "I don't think the Lakers will be good for much longer. You can keep a car running for a long time by changing the tires, etc. You can't change a player's tires." It had a scathing critique of the Lakers' defense: "If there's a loose ball now, how often do they get it? The reason you 'can't play defense' is because you can't!" And it expressed more optimism about an arch rival's championship chances. "I think Boston is a very dangerous team. I would not want to play them every other night."

Fresh off the Lakers' 92-86 victory Thursday over the Celtics, West, speaking Friday at a promotional event in Malibu in connection with his role as executive director of the Northern Trust Open, said the public took his comments too much at face value.

"You can't even have an opinion anymore," West said. "Everyone has an opinion. I was joking."

The Lakers (37-16) enter Friday's game in New York (26-25) winning their first three games of a seven-game trip, which West said proved that getting away from the local media scrutiny eased the pressure on the team. But he still didn't hold back on providing comments that will likely again gain traction, though he acknowledged the Lakers have made progress in fixing the problems described below.

"To a lesser degree, I think the Lakers biggest problem defensively has been their offense," West said. "If they don't run patiently with their offense. They have two big guys, and when they get down in their set, they're very good. But if they turn the ball over and have quick shots, they can't get back. You have to give the other teams credit. All coaches do the same thing. Some have better talent. The Lakers have great talent, and they should be favored to win. But as I say, they're not going to win if they don't run their offense correctly, which will lead to bad defense."

That was just one of many things West enthusiastically addressed. The topics were wide-ranging, including the upcoming Northern Trust Open that will take place Feb. 14 -20 at Riviera Country Club and has confirmed 21 of the 30 top money winners, including Phil Mickelson. He also talked about the Lakers' plans to unveil a statue in his honor outside Staples Center on Feb. 17, his belief that Lamar Odom was snubbed from the All-Star game and, of course, the state of the Lakers.

With the Lakers defeating Boston on Thursday, a game West described as a "great win," he said he's more optimistic about their championship chances -- but that comes with qualifiers.

He argued that the great unknown involves how healthy the players can stay for the duration of the season. While he said that "losing Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol would destroy this team" and that the Lakers in that case would "become a common team," he said the same would be true if Miami lost LeBron James or Dwyane Wade ("they would not be a threat to win a championship") or if the Celtics were without Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce.

And getting a season split on the Celtics didn't ease West's worry about the Lakers' arch rival one bit. 

"I would not want to play Boston in a seven-game series, regardless of who it's going to be," he said. "There's a long way to go."

-- Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

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

 

Ready or not, here come the Celtics

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The Lakers have been in Boston for three days, a quirk in the schedule since their victory Monday in Memphis.

Now they finally get to play a game tonight at TD Garden.

For reasons either informational or torturous, they were forced by Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to watch game video of their 109-96 loss to Boston at Staples Center two weeks ago.

"It was entertaining," Kobe Bryant said Thursday, cognizant of the Lakers' lazy fourth quarter in which Boston scored 32 points.

After the team's shoot-around Thursday, Bryant had fun with an us-vs.-them mindset.

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett has been criticized recently for over-aggressive play, including a game in Phoenix in which he hit Suns forward-center Channing Frye in the groin.

"He’s a Celtic," Bryant said wryly. "That’s what Celtics do. He’s always been intense. But he’s a great guy. He plays his heart out.”

Then Bryant stepped way back into the feisty Lakers-Celtics history.

"It’s Danny Ainge. Kurt [Rambis] getting clothes-lined. We’re the good guys," he said. "I’ll probably be jawing with all of them tonight. It's fun."

-Mike Bresnahan reporting from Boston

Photo: Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen defends Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on Jan. 30. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Reuters.

Lakers vs Boston: Lakers lose to Celtics

Lakers1_300 Celtics 109, Lakers 96 (final)

The old and tired Boston Celtics beat the even-older and more-tired looking Lakers on Sunday at Staples Center.

For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant was the only player who put up a good showing. He had 41 points on 16-for-29 shooting.

But Bryant couldn't do it alone.

The Lakers' defense wasn't very good, allowing the Celtics to make 60.3% of their shots.

Paul Pierce ripped apart Ron Artest, scoring 32 points on 11-for-18 shooting.

Ray Allen had 21 points and Kevin Garnett added 18 for Boston.

That meant Boston's Big Three did the job on the Lakers.

The Lakers are now 3-4 in their last seven games.

Maybe the Lakers beat the Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals last June, but Boston looks intent on getting some revenge, starting with Sunday's game.

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Celtics 77, Lakers 72 (end of third quarter)

 

Foul trouble wasn't the only problem for Lakers center Andrew Bynum.

He also has a sore left knee. When he sat down after committing his fourth foul with 9:33 left in the third quarter, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti checked on Bynum.

Bynum returned later in the third quarter with white tape across his knee.

Another problem for the Lakers was Ron Artest trying to defend Celtics forward Paul Pierce.

Artest did such a bad job that Lakers Coach Phil Jackson yanked him from the game with 9:33 left in the third and put in Luke Walton.

Jackson also re-inserted Artest into the game later in the fourth quarter as well.

Through three quarters, Pierce had 30 points on 10-for-16 shooting, three for five on three-pointers.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 30 points on 11-for-18 shooting.

Continue reading »

Caught in the Web: Lakers prepare for Sacramento Kings (and pretend not to think about Boston Celtics)

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--The Times' Mike Bresnahan focuses on Phil Jackson's insistence that this is his last season.

--True Hoop's Henry Abbott goes into detail on his view that Kobe Bryant isn't the king of clutch.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr provides a few tidbits from the Lakers' "All-Access Inside the Lines" dinner Thursday.

--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande shares some observations from "Lakers All-Access."

--Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer highlights Kevin Garnett's plan to sport the Celtics' all-time record against the Lakers on his shoe when the two teams square up Sunday.

--Use this handy map to spot where celebrities sit courtside at Lakers games.

--The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones details Carl Landry's apology to his Kings teammates and coaching staff.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky sizes up the chances that Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom make the NBA All-Star team.

--The Riverside Preess-Enterprise's David Lassen looks at Gasol's belief that he could be picked to replace the injured Yao Ming at center for the All-Star game.

--Hoops Hype's Roland Lazenby wonders which NBA teams would contract.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin highlights Jackson's comments about retirement.

--ESPN.com's Bill Simmons credits Bryant, Ray Allen, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki for their longevity.

--NBA.com's Sekou Smith expresses some love for Bryant.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford documents Bryant's scoring trek, noting that he's 12 points away from surpassing Hakeem Olajuwon on the NBA list of all-time leading scorers.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell breaks down some numbers that highlight Bryant's improved efficiency.

--Silver Screen and Roll's Dexter Fishmore talks about the greatest Lakers of all time, from jersey numbers 30 to 39.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano argues that  Ron Artest has found his groove.

--Lakers Nation's Fern Rea looks at the best "tough it out moments" in team history.

Tweet of the Day: "PS: Thx to NBA.com for giving me 2 yrs of its upcoming package of yearly Kobe highlight reels (including his epic 2005 dunk over Howard)." -- sportsguy33 (ESPN.com's Bill Simmons)

Reader Comment of the Day: Weighing in on the issues of the day: 1) PJ is one of the handful of greatest coaches ever in the NBA. As a Laker fan, I feel immensely fortunate that he came here and brought us 7 Finals trips and 5 titles ... so far. The fact his owner, GM and players all want him to come back shows that the old dude is still getting it done. But for him I think this is the end of the road. SO SEND HIM OFF WITH ANOTHER TITLE. Phil not only gets the game, he gets the rhythms of an 82 game season and how to deal with players. He was brilliant with Shaq and Kobe for 3 years, letting them blow off steam during the season, but geeting them on the same page when the playoffs came around.

2) LakerTom, I love what you do here and your passion for Drew. That said, I agree with Drew that he has not been an All-Star yet, playing regularly and consistently at that level. On the other hand, with Yao and Oden out, the West is a bit thin on real centers. Al Jefferson is deserving. Tyson Chandler has made a difference in Dallas. Pau played a lot of center. But if you wanted to pick a true big man to battle Dwight Howard, Drew is the only one standing, and he is playing well. It's borderline.

3) Both Phil and Jerry have been talking about the Celtics recently, and I agree with them. Miami is good but Boston is the team I would pick coming out of the East. They are so big and deep inside with Perkins, Garnett, Shaq, Davis, O'Neill. Pierce and Allen are getting older, but they are still Pierce and Allen. And Rondo is a quick, quality PG. They defend well, they efficient on offense and they are tough and smart and battle-tested. Another Boston-LA series would be another great series. Who would win? Toss a coin, just like last year." -- Tom Daniels

-- Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

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

Photo: Kobe Bryant and the Lakers host the Sacramento Kings Friday at Staples Center before their anticipated rematch Sunday with their NBA Finals opponent, the Boston Celtics. Credit: Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Caught in the Web: Kobe Bryant continues rehab process

Kobe shooting--The Times' Mike Bresnahan explains why Miami's offseason spurred Kobe Bryant to ensure that his surgically repaired right knee is fully healthy.

--Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer has follow-up details on how Laker Girl Ashley is doing.

--Sportsradiointerviews.com's Chris Fedor asks Boston forward Paul Pierce to share how much the Celtics' Game 7 loss to the Lakers still haunts him.

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper reports that Ron Artest will sell his championship ring Dec. 25 in an online raffle, and that Artest is interviewing ghostwriters for an autobiography. Howard-Cooper also previews the Lakers' season.

--Fox Sports shares a refrain that Lakers fans have frustratingly heard for a while now: Andrew Bynum would be a top-10 center if he were healthy.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky highlights Derrick Caracter's acclimation to the team.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's David Lassen details more of Bryant's shooting struggles.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin thought plenty was going on during Lakers practice Thursday.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford documents Shannon Brown's offseason efforts to improve his shooting.

--AOL Fanhouse's Chris Tomasson details how Dallas is gunning for the Lakers.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell has full details on Thursday's practice.

--Silver Screen and Roll's wondahbap sizes up Coach Phil Jackson.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano argues that it's premature to say Bryant is on the decline.

-Lakers of Fire's Garrett Wilson checks out the Boston Celtics.

--Lakers Nation's Michael Goldsholl explains how forward Lamar Odom has responded to his critics.

--Sactown Royalty's Ziller blames forward Matt Barnes for the Laker Girl accident.

Tweet of the Day: "The Twitterverse is rolling on the topic Ron Artest's autobiohraphy after picking a ghostwriter...." -- SHowardCooper (NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper)

Reader Comment of the Day: "I love the comments by Ron Artest. It puts something in LeBron's mind. Nobody has ever challenged LeBron like that. It's going to be interesting to see how he responds to it on Christmas" -- Rocky

-- Mark Medina 
Twitter.com/latmedina

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

Photo: Kobe Bryant warms up before Wednesday's exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

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