Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

Category: Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant passes Michael Jordan for most All-Star points

Kobe BryantOn a night where Kobe Bryant became the leading scorer in NBA All-Star game history, he hardly looked like the best player on the court.

In a game that could have featured a Bryant game-winner, he offered none. At a time where he could have showcased highlight reels, Bryant didn't have any.

But that's fine. The Western Conference's 152-149 victory Sunday over the Eastern Conference showed how Bryant remains tough and relevant despite the obstacles thrown at him.

LeBron James' 36 points on 15-of-23 shooting and numerous dunks revealed his tremendous talent. Yet, Bryant defended James on the final possession and then chastised him for passing up the last shot. Paul Pierce heckled Bryant about his missed free throws last week against Dallas as Bryant stood at the stripe with 18 seconds remaining. He only made one of two, but Bryant trash talked with Pierce before, during and afterwards.  Dwyane Wade committed a hard foul on Bryant that gave him a bloody nose with 8:48 left in the third quarter. Fittingly enough, Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan's All-Star scoring record by making two free throws between receiving treatment on his battered nose.

Bryant's 27 points on nine-of-17 shooting gave him 271 points through 13 All-Star game appearances. It's a testament to his longevity.  But his failure to surpass Hawks forward Bob Petitt with five All-Star MVP awards shows the emerging talent around Bryant. 

He has bigger things to worry about, though, than going on a scoring spree. The first part involves making sure his nose feels fine. The other part involves his second-half play.  An innovative procedure on both his surgically repaired right knee and sprained left ankle this summer ensured a healthier and more productive campaign where he's leading the league in scoring (28 points per game). But other signs show Bryant must pace himself for the remaining 33 regular-season games.

Continue reading »

A-Rod: Kobe Bryant considered retirement last season

Kobe Bryant

The lasting image behind the Lakers' four-game sweep to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals hardly jibed with Kobe Bryant's legacy.

He missed a game-winning shot in Game 1. Bryant's surgically repaired right knee and sprained left ankle limited his on-court explosiveness. His 23.25 points on 45.7% shooting showed he couldn't overcome double teams and fatigue. It would've hardly been the best way to end a storied career. Just ask Phil Jackson.

Yet, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez told reporters Saturday that Bryant told him the pain in his right knee and ankle felt so overwhelming that he considered retiring. That is, until an innovative procedure in Germany this off-season on both his right knee and left ankle fixed everything. 

Bryant "was really adamant about how great the procedure was for him," Rodriguez told reporters. "I know that he was hurting before, almost even thinking about retirement, that's how much pain he was under. And then he said after he went to Germany he felt like a 27-year-old again. I was still a little apprehensive about it and he kept staying on me about it."

Continue reading »

Darvin Ham says he, not Kobe, should've won 1997 dunk contest

He'd barely had a chance to introduce himself as one of the Lakers' new assistant coaches before Darvin Ham had a 15-year-old grievance to settle with Kobe Bryant. 

"Kobe, you got my trophy at your house," Ham recalls saying during the team's first practice. 

Bryant has many trophies. Five championship rings, one Olympic gold medal, two Finals MVPs, one regular-season MVP and four All-Star MVPs come to mind. But Ham was referring to the 1997 NBA dunk contest, which the 18-year-old Bryant won with a between-the-legs slam. Ham didn't even advance past the first round.

"I lost to one of the top five players in history," Ham said during the days leading into tonight's NBA dunk contest. "It's a pleasure for me to lose to that guy. I think I can get him right now. He won't admit it. I think I can get him right now."

Continue reading »

Kobe Bryant, said to be ill, misses All-Star media session

Bryant
Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a no-show at Friday's All-Star media availability session in Orlando, Fla.

Members of the news media waited 45 minutes for the 14-time All-Star to arrive, then were told by a Lakers spokesperson that Bryant was ill.

No further explanation was provided.

Bryant arrived in Orlando late Thursday evening following the Lakers 100-85 loss to Oklahoma City, in which he had 24 points on seven-for-24 shooting, six rebounds and three assists.

RELATED:

Lakers lose to Thunder in Oklahoma City, 100-85

Kobe Bryant's performance in Dallas shows he needs rest

Kobe Bryant deserves better communication from Jim Buss

-- John Cherwa and Melissa Rohlin

Photo: Kobe Bryant. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Andrew Bynum to have knee procedure

Lakers center Andrew Bynum will miss Saturday's practice during All-Star weekend because of a previously scheduled appointment with his longtime knee specialist, David AltchekThe Times' Mike Bresnahan notes that Lakers center Andrew Bynum will miss Saturday's practice during All-Star weekend because of a previously scheduled appointment with his longtime knee specialist, David Altchek. Bresnahan says Bynum will receive a Synvisc injection in his right knee, part of what the Lakers called a routine procedure to lubricate joints in the knee.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin also says Bynum is just undergoing the procedure for maintenance purposes.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell also details Bynum's procedure.

Game stories

--The Times' Bresnahan focuses on the off night Kobe Bryant and Bynum experienced in the Lakers' 100-85 loss Thursday to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding explains why the Lakers couldn't match the Thunder's speed.

--The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry believes a changing of guard has taken place between the Lakers and Oklahoma City.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford says Oklahoma City controlled the tempo against the Lakers.

Notebooks

--The Daily News' Teaford explains what Lakers Coach Mike Brown admires about Oklahoma City General Manager Sam Presti.

Sidebars

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr profiles Bynum.

--The Oklahoman's John Rohde highlights Kobe Bryant's contention that the media needs to stop scrutinizing Russell Westbrook.

Columns

--The Times' Helene Elliott argues that the Lakers' inconsistency will persist if they don't make a roster move before the March 15 deadline.

--The Oklahoman's Barry Tramel explains how the Thunder's victory over the Lakers validated their efforts in acquiring Kendrick Perkins.

Blogs

--Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin believes a changing of the guard is taking place between the Lakers and Thunder.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky as well as Ramona Shelburne debate the Lakers' future.

--ESPN Los Angele's McMenamin breaks down the Lakers' loss to Oklahoma City.

--Silver Screen and Roll's DexterFishmore argues OKC undressed the Lakers' weaknesses.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Phillip Barnett breaks down the good, bad and the ugly in the Lakers' loss to the Thunder.

Tweet of the Day: "I asked Dwight if true there was 0 percent chance he'd stay in Orlando: "If it's not about All-Star weekend I don't want to talk about it."" -- sam_amick (Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "These losses to better teams will continue unabated. we will not ever beat the Heat, the Bulls, or the Thunder, until we add a PG and another scoring threat. Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, and Ramon Sessions are out there for the taking, and none of them will cost us any of our big 3 of Bryant (of course), Bynum, or Gasol. I don't know what Kupchak is waiting for....this team has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will not get past the 1st round of the playoffs if they get there at all." -- Jeff Sadie

RELATED:

Lakers lose to Thunder in Oklahoma City, 100-85

Kobe Bryant's performance in Dallas shows he needs rest

Kobe Bryant deserves better communication from Jim Buss

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Andrew Bynum finishes off a dunk against the Thunder on Thursday night in Oklahoma City. Credit: Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

Thunder would beat Lakers in playoffs

Oklahoma City Thunder

Why the Thunder is a threat to the Lakers: The Lakers showed in their 100-85 loss Thursday to Oklahoma City why they would have no chance against the Thunder in the playoffs. Regardless of how the Lakers tried to control the tempo, it didn't work. The Thunder went on a 9-0 third-quarter run even though the Lakers remained methodical on offense and minimized Oklahoma City's transition game. The Thunder also scored 21 fast-break points. All in all, they showcased their depth, while the Lakers scrambled to find oxygen masks.

Why the Lakers are a threat to the Thunder: Blame part of the Lakers' struggles against the Thunder to their back-to-back the previous night against Dallas. In the playoffs, the Lakers would have more days to rest their aging bones and to make adjustments. James Harden's trash talk would prompt Kobe Bryant to light him up the next game. Metta World Peace would have more chances to figure out how to temper Kevin Durant's scoring. Andrew Bynum wouldn't do as much of a disappearing act. Also, come April, the Lakers offense will look much prettier than it appears right now.

VERDICT: Two years ago, the Lakers survived a six-game first-round series against the Thunder because of their experience. That's not a factor anymore. Oklahoma City is now battle-tested, having reached last year's Western Conference finals. Meanwhile, the Lakers have become older and slower. Unless they upgrade their roster, they likely could only push a playoff series to five games. 

RELATED:

Lakers would beat Clippers in the playoffs

Miami Heat would give Lakers trouble in NBA Finals

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) and guard James Harden slap hands after scoring against the Lakers and power forward Troy Murphy in the first half Thursday night in Oklahoma City. Credit: Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press / February 23, 2012

Kobe Bryant's performance at Dallas shows his need for more rest

Kobe BryantKobe Bryant's legs appeared wobbly. His shot looked shaky. The defense appeared overwhelming. 

The Lakers' 96-91 victory Wednesday over the Dallas Mavericks was hardly the kind of night Bryant has usually experienced this season. Most nights, he's draining shots with ease, taking over the end of the game and proving a torn ligament in his right wrist doesn't bother him.

Not this time.

Bryant posted a season-low 15 points on four-of-15 shooting, committed seven turnovers and hardly looked like a player you'd want carrying the offense. He's entitled to a bad game, of course. Bryant has led the league in scoring. He has  carried an often dysfunctional offense on his  back. Bryant has bought Lakers Coach Mike Brown some time to let  his philosophies  soak into the team without sacrificing enough wins to seriously jeopardize their playoff prospects.

But Bryant's performance against Dallas provided proof of a season-long problem Brown has yet to solve. Despite promises that  Bryant would be limited to 33-35 minutes per game, the Lakers star remains fourth in the league in playing time (38.2), nearly four minutes more than last season. 

Fortunately for the Lakers, they absorbed Bryant's poor night. The Lakers maintained their size advantage, with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combining for 43 points. Lakers guard Derek Fisher suddenly  was an effective outside shooter, dropping 15 points on a six-of-eight clip. Metta World Peace held Vince Carter to two second-half points. After the Lakers missed six consecutive free throws, including two from Bryant, Matt Barnes grabbed an offensive rebound with 27 seconds left and made two foul shots to secure the win. Even with Bryant's limitations, he still nailed a 25-foot three-pointer and threw two late-game lobs to Gasol and Bynum.

It's  presumptuous, however, to think the Lakers can consistently replicate such a balanced effort. It's more likely that it  reflected a motivation stemming from their recent frustrations with the front office and coaching staff. And that leaves the Lakers with a problem without a clear fix.

Brown has maintained he's gone against limiting Bryant's minutes simply because of the team's flimsy development. But he also held Bryant in double-digit losses to Miami and Phoenix this season.  The longer Brown avoids addressing this problem, however, the more likely Bryant won't play at his best when it matters in the playoffs. 

RELATED:

Five things to take from Lakers' 96-91 win over Dallas Mavericks

Kobe Bryant deserves better communication from Jim Buss

Kobe Bryant taking measured approach in leading Lakers

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, drives past Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki during the first half of Wednesday's game. Credit: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press / Feb. 22, 2012

Derrick Rose denies report he wants Bulls to acquire Pau Gasol

Pau GasolAfter nearly every made basket, Pau Gasol smiled, high-fived a teammate or laughed.

It's amazing what Kobe Bryant's public stewing about the front office regarding Gasol's future can do for the Lakers forward's psyche. That was on full display during the Lakers' 96-91 victory Wednesday over Dallas. Gasol's 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals showed his stronger aggression and engagement, signs that he's handling his uncertainty with the Lakers better than last week.

Here's another item that might help Gasol feel more at ease: Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose strongly denied a report that he wants the organization to acquire Gasol before the March 15 trade deadline.

"That's something I wouldn't say to anyone, that I need someone to come to this team or I'm trying to get rid of someone on this team," Rose told reporters in Chicago. "It was all false and that's something I would never do."

Sheridan Hoops' Chris Sheridan reported that Rose let it be known to management that he wants to play with Gasol if Chicago swings a trade with the Lakers. That semantic difference leaves room for Rose to deny that he said anything to management himself because an intermediary could have delivered such a message on his behalf.

The supposed terms of the deal would have sent forward Carlos Boozer and point guard C.J. Watson to the Lakers for Gasol. That would be a horrible move for the Lakers for various reasons. Boozer may not command as many touches as Gasol does and open up the post more for Andrew Bynum inside. But he offers little outside of rebounding on defense and is injury prone. As for Watson, he's proven to be only a decent backup point guard, hardly the answer to the Lakers' backcourt needs.

Gasol would be better served if he didn't read these things, anyway. Plenty of trade scenarios will emerge before the deadline with his name attached to them. Instead, he should play like he did against Dallas, with aggression, enthusiasm and energy, and refuse to let his uncertain standing affect him. For now, at least.

RELATED:

Kobe Bryant taking measured approach in leading Lakers

Pau Gasol fights frustrations during Lakers' win over Phoenix

Kobe Bryant: Trade speculation has made Pau Gasol emotional

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers forward Pau Gasol tries to put up a shot in the first half of the Lakers' 96-91 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. Credit: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

Five things to take from Lakers' 96-91 win over Dallas Mavericks

683066071. The Lakers made it harder than necessary in securing a 96-91 victory Wednesday over the Dallas Mavericks. They should feel happy by collecting a rare road win. But it didn't have to be this hard. Despite leading 93-86 with 1:06 remaining, the Lakers nearly squandered the game. They missed six consecutive free throws. They gave Jason Terry a wide-open three-pointer and failed to box out Dirk Nowitzki on a tip-in, plays that cut the lead to 93-91 with 29 seconds left. But the Lakers still prevailed, partly because Matt Barnes secured a rebound off Pau Gasol's second missed foul shot. Barnes then made both free throws to secure the win.

2. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum played aggressively. It's easy to psychoanalyze the reason behind Gasol's 24 points on 11-for-18 shooting  with nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. This came days after Kobe Bryant publicly blasted the front office for not providing clarity on Gasol's future. It also marked his first visit to Dallas since the Lakers' sweep by the Mavericks in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals, a series in which Gasol proved a huge factor in the Lakers' fall. Whatever it was, Gasol looked agressive right from the first possession.

He attacked the Mavericks on hook shots in the lane, turnaround jumpers and putbacks. Gasol made two crucial baskets late in the game. He tipped in Bryant's miss, tying the score, 80-80, with 6:41 to play. Gasol also converted off Bryant's jump pass to him inside, extending the Lakers' lead to 91-86 with 1:29 remaining. Despite having trouble guarding him in last year's playoffs, Gasol held Dirk Nowitzki to 25 points on nine-for-22 shooting by forcing him to take off-balance shots that even he couldn't make. He didn't avoid the brutal contact Brendan Haywood delivered with his elbow with 20 seconds left.

Gasol wasn't perfect. He committed five turnovers and missed his two free throws in the fourth quarter. But his aggressiveness, enthusiasm for greeting the bench after a hot start and high-fiving Bryant throughout the game demonstrated his sharp focus.

As for Bynum, his 19 points on six-of-10 shooting, seven free throws, 14 rebounds and one block appears more impressive than it does on paper. That's because his production mostly hinged on Bynum making himself big in the post, restablishing position after kicking out of double teams and making putbacks. The Lakers need to involve him more, but it shows Bynum's growth that he can still produce on his own.

3. Derek Fisher had a strong shooting night. Don't look now, but Fisher has put a string of performances that shows he's still capable of providing some supplementary shooting. He scored 15 points on six-for-eight shooting. He successfully advocated for an official's replay in the third quarter on an out-of-bounds call that went the Lakers' way. Fisher held possession off an inbounds pass with 27 seconds left despite facing a double team. 

It's unrealistic to think Fisher will sustain the 8.8 points on 62.5% shooting he has averaged in the last four games. But at least against the Mavericks, Fisher played with great efficiency. His shots came in rhythm and off great ball movement. That included a sequence that entailed Bryant facing a double team and feeding to Gasol at the left elbow, Gasol passing to Bynum inside and Bynum kicking the ball out at the top of the key. Fisher nailed the three-pointer to give the Lakers an 87-82 lead with 4:13 remaining. He then made a floater in the lane on the next possession, a shot Fisher usually never makes. For his strong play, Fisher played the last 5:28 of the fourth quarter. Brown usually has granted that time to Steve Blake both to rest Fisher's body and because of his shooting and defensive struggles. But against Dallas, Fisher rightfully earned the 27 minutes.

Continue reading »

Kobe Bryant deserves better communication from Jim Buss

6a00d8341c506253ef01538f05de40970b-600wi

In the middle of the night, Kobe Bryant often sees something on film and texts Mike Brown a thought or a question.

The Lakers coach texts right back.

Moments after stewing about the Lakers trading Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks, Bryant visited Mitch Kupchak's office. The general manager maintains the meeting remained jovial and involved more than just why the Lakers traded their most valuable reserve.

Soon after the Lakers' 103-92 victory Monday over the Portland Trail Blazers, Bryant spoke at an informal meeting. Just like they do during practice and games, his teammates' ears perked up.

Unfortunately for Bryant, executive Jim Buss hasn't extended the same courtesy. He didn't heed any of Bryant's suggestions during this offseason's coaching search for Phil Jackson's replacement. Buss didn't even alert him ahead of time the Lakers would hire Brown. The same can be said about Odom's departure, the franchise's direction and pretty much any imaginable topic. The silence has remained so rampant, Bryant revealed in an interview with the New York Post's Peter Vescey in December that he couldn't recall the last time he spoke with Buss.

It shouldn't be that way. That's why Magic Johnson suggested in a conference call that Buss should personally meet with Bryant, who "just wants to be informed as a leader and future Hall of Famer and a guy who has brought five championships to the Lakers."

"He wants more communication, probably like he did when [former coach] Phil Jackson was there and he worked well with Mitch," Johnson said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. "I don't think Kobe feels he has that type of relationship or the communication has been there with Jim. What probably has to happen is they need to sit Kobe down and sit Jim down. Dr. [Jerry] Buss was the master at taking you to lunch or taking you to dinner and going over what he was thinking and what he wanted to do with the team. Jerry West was good at that as well. Kobe, Mitch and Jim just have to get on the same page and things will be OK."

Continue reading »
Connect

Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

All Things Lakers »

Your database for all things purple and gold.

Find a Laker

Search a name

Select a season

Choose one of our lists



Categories


Archives
 

About the Bloggers


Bleacher Report | Lakers

Reader contributions from Times partner Bleacher Report

More Lakers on Bleacher Report »



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists:


In Case You Missed It...