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Category: Lakers-Celtics

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 [email protected]

NBA TV to air memorable Lakers playoff games

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird With nearly a month gone by since the NBA began its lockout, it appears the general public has nearly completed phase one of its reaction to the work stoppage.

That's the hand-wringing about who's to blame for this situation, the billionaire owners, the millionaire players or both. It's involved discussing whether NBA players will eventually take their talents overseas and if that's a necessary negotiating move or a needlessly risky gamble with their bodies. And it's included, at least in this corner of the blogosphere, going over nearly every story line entering the 2011-2012 season, assuming there is one.

Now we've entered phase two, in which the lack of summer-league play and the possibility of a lost season have spurred many to watch old NBA games.

Many this weekend clamored to find video featuring the likes of Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose balling in an exhibition game. Others are headed to Washington Park each week to check out the Drew League, which sparked a surprise appearance last weekend by LeBron James. Others of us are watching and rewatch classic NBA games, hoping this will somehow make us forget that the current season is on hiatus. 

Tuesday marks one of those days, as NBA TV will air Game 6 of the Lakers-Sixers 1980 NBA Finals series at 9 a.m., Game 4 of the Lakers-Celtics 1987 NBA Finals series at 10:30 a.m. and Game 5 of the Lakers-Warriors Western Conference semifinal series at 12:30 p.m. Below is a look at some of the memorable moments surrounding those games.

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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.

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Lakers' 92-86 victory over Boston Celtics proves to be best win all season

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The lasting image of the Lakers' 92-86 victory Thursday over the Boston Celtics that signifies the team's jump back to dominance might be this: Kobe Bryant puckered his lips after draining a fadeaway jumper over Ray Allen that gave the Lakers an eight-point lead with 48 seconds remaining. The lasting image of the Lakers' aggressiveness might feature this: Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom accidentally knocking heads, an episode that happened after Odom tipped in Gasol's missed shot, required a bandage on his forehead and necessitated stitches afterward. And the lasting image of the Lakers' sense of relief might be this: the team exchanging handshakes and pats on the back after a well-fought victory.

The obvious ramifications behind this win: The Lakers improved to 3-0 on their seven-game trip, winning four of their last five games, increased their mark against teams with better records than them to 2-6 and, of course, softened concern over the Lakers' play and whether they need to make a trade, mostly notably Andrew Bynum, who posted an impressive 16 points and nine rebounds. But what makes the Lakers' victory against the Celtics more more meaningful goes beyond the fact they evened the season-series against their archrivals. The reason may not go in the history books, as will Allen's 20-point performance that catapulted him to the league's all-time leading three-point shooter in field-goals made, but it's something that will serve them well particularly when the postseason begins. The Lakers showed they're a much different team than when they suffered a double-digit loss Jan. 30 to Boston by managing to overcome the initial adversities that initially plagued them.

The Lakers trailed as many as 15 points for reasons that sound too familiar. The Lakers had no answer for Allen. They appeared as motionless as they often do against a sub.-500 opponent. And the Lakers' decision to involve Pau Gasol and Bynum early at the expense of Kobe Bryant seemed to do little to ease the team's poor outside shooting.

Then came the second half, when Magic Johnson tweeted "It's a good game, but if the Lakers are going to win Kobe has to take over!" That's exactly what happened. Bryant's 23 points on nine of 17 shooting featured him scoring five of the Lakers eight points to open the third quarter, scoring 12 third quarter points and plenty of vintage fourth-quarter plays. His turnaround jumper off the left block moments after entering the game, his sharp drive to the basket and his fadeaway that threw Allen off balance all demonstrate how Bryant's aggressiveness helped jump-start the offense.

But what bodes more impressive is how he helped lay that foundation for everyone else. Remember, how he scored only two points off two shots in the first quarter while Gasol and Bynum combined for 14 points? Well the Lakers' 27-20 first-quarter deficit didn't prove that strategy is worse than in what happened in the last matchup, where Bryant's 41-point effort happened while everyone else stood around. It proved instead that no amount of offense will be enough if the Lakers don't make stops.

That all changed in the second half, when the Lakers held the Celtics to 33 points on 28.9% shooting, a severe dropoff from the 51.3% mark Boston previously shot from the field. It also changed when an aggressive Bryant didn't mean everyone else stood around. Bryant sat on the bench for the fourth quarter until the 5:03 mark. Even through mistakes such as Bynum's fumbled rebound, rushed pass to Odom on the perimeter and missed close-range shot, the fourth quarter revealed a resurgent Shannon Brown (four of his 12 points) an aggressive Odom (threw Garnett to the ground) and a disciplined defense that held Boston scoreless for the first three minutes and led to a 47-36 rebounding advantage, marking the 10th time in 11 games the winner on the glass between these two teams determined the outcome.

Once Bryant entered the lineup, he took over while everyone else stayed involved thanks to the team's strategy in playing Bryant off the ball much like the way they did last week in an overtime victory against Houston. That included Bryant driving baseline, drawing a triple team and finding Gasol open after cutting through the lane, Bryant taking a well-placed pass from Ron Artest and everyone crashing the board when Bryant went in isolation.

Boston may very well not feel as concerned, with reasons including a decimated lineup including Shaquille O'Neal, key reserve Marquis Daniels and backup center Semih Erden.  The Celtics also featured a limited Nate Robinson, who left in the second quarter because of a bruised knee,

But that doesn't water down the significance of the Lakers one bit. That's because in a game that truly served as a measuring stick for the Lakers' progress, they collectively took ownership and overcame the initial challenges that awaited them. There's no telling how much that mind-set would help should they meet Boston, or any opponent for that matter, in the 2011 NBA Finals.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tries to cut off a drive by Celtics forward Paul Pierce in the first half Thursday night. Credit: David Butler II / US Presswire

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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Lakers-Celtics box score

Lakers vs. Celtics photos

 

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.

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NBA 2K11: How a Michael Jordan Lakers team would fare with Boston, Miami; 95-96 Bulls superior to current Lakers

Lakers forward Ron Artest says he can't wait to buy NBA 2K11 because it features his rap single "Champion." Lakers forward Kobe Bryant says in an ad he can't wait to buy the newly released video game so he can add Michael Jordan to his team. And I couldn't wait to play it either so I could see how such a scenario would turn out.

NBA players, Bryant among them, like the video game because of its realistic game play and graphics.

You may be left scratching your heads about how on earth I maneuvered a trade involving Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic for Jordan from the '95-'96 Bulls team. It's like this: Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak somehow acquired Pau Gasol and a second-round pick from Memphis in 2008 for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Marc Gasol, Aaron McKie and two first-round picks. So don't consider this far-fetched, even if the Lakers prove unsuccessful in getting Vujacic off the books before this season's trading deadline and the move puts the team way over the luxury-tax threshold.

With M.J. and the Black Mamba side by side, I pitted the Lakers against the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat, the two Eastern Conference teams I thought had the best shot in meeting the Lakers in this season's NBA Finals. The results: The Lakers beat Boston rather handily, 103-85, but lost to Miami 105-99.

I also matched up the current Lakers team with the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team that still holds the regular-season record for most wins (72), a feat this year's Lakers team, Heat team or any team won't surpass anytime soon. And the Bulls proved their dominance in that one, with M.J. dropping 56 points in a 114-106 victory over the Lakers.

Clearly things didn't turn out the way Bryant would've imagined in the ad below.

Below the jump, watch the highlights for yourself.

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The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Mark Medina tackle some Laker questions

The Lakers are officially underway. They're finally playing basketball, providing glimpses of how the roster might shape up and giving the fans of the L.A. Times' Lakers blog something to keep them from going insane (or so I hope).

But this is one game. As much as I detailed five things to take away from the Lakers' 111-92 loss Monday to the Minnesota Timberwolves, it's one exhibition game. I don't want to say my post was a waste of time to read and write, but you have to take it for what it is. The Lakers have seven remaining pre-season games and the ring ceremony/opening night isn't until Oct. 26 against Houston.

That leaves time for The Times' Mike Bresnahan and myself to dive into a few questions after the jump.

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Poll results show Laker fans feel strongly confident about a three-peat

54398053-1Our economy is in disarray. There's uncertainty over the Afghan war. And political tensions remain high. There are plenty of things for people to be upset about these days, and the polls certainly show it. But the polls here at the L.A. Times Lakers blog reveal upbeat attitudes about one thing, anyway: the Lakers' chances for a three-peat.

The Lakers are coming off a second consecutive championship, making the off-season more relaxing, the free-agency process known as "The Decision" more laughable and causing the urge to start up the season to spike. Not to worry, though, folks. Training camp starts Saturday, meaning you can stop rewinding Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, playing out imaginary Lakers games in your dreams and searching miles and miles for any morsel of Lakers news.

Magic Johnson once said to the L.A. Times' Chris Erskine, referring to the Lakers after they won their 16th championship: "It's the only thing the people can trust. They trust the Lakers."

So what kind of trust do you have in the Lakers for the 2010-11 NBA season?  Poll results show that 96.15% of you believe the Lakers will three-peat, so you may as well start planning for another parade. The reasons vary. I listed multiple factors that seemed to work in the Lakers' favor, including talent, experience, off-season acquisitions, Phil Jackson and the seemingly inferior competition. Instead of singling out one variable that will push the Lakers over the edge, 63.49% of you said all of the above -- all these qualities make the Lakers tough to beat.

For those who want a seat at the NBA Finals, well, start thinking about booking flights to South Beach or Boston. Most of you are ready to fly 3,000 miles to Chowder City, with 57.52% predicting the Celtics will rematch the Lakers in the 2011 NBA Finals. It'd be a compelling series for sure, what with Shaquille O'Neal up against Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest duking it out again with Paul Pierce and the Lakers hoping to close the series gap to 17-12. But then there's the 36.91% of you who think the Lakers will be taking their talents to South Beach and proving which team is really super.

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Paul Pierce's jersey is retired -- in Inglewood

As I stepped foot Tuesday morning into the auditorium of Inglewood High School, I felt like I was instantly teleported from Los Angeles to Boston. I noticed the green banners and streamers. I noted the absence of Lakers jerseys. And I heard the never-ending cheers for Celtics forward Paul Pierce.

Pierce, a former standout at Inglewood High, was having his No. 34 jersey retired at the school. You'd think that might bring up conflicted feelings, because, you know, the Lakers beat the Celtics in the 2010 Finals.

But Pierce said: "I don't have conflicted memories. I live here. I'm from here. I'm around my friends and my family. Obviously losing to the Lakers in Game 7 hurts, but it's just home for me in the offseason. I spend a lot of time around people that had a chance to watch Paul Pierce grow and had a chance to watch Paul Pierce succeed in high school, college and the NBA."

Some of his other statements might get Lakers fans riled up: He said that Doc Rivers' contention that the Lakers haven't beaten the Celtics' starting five is accurate, though the Lakers lost to Boston in the 2008 NBA Finals without Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza. "He was right," Pierce said of Rivers' misleading claim. "Hopefully we can get to the Finals healthy and have an opportunity to win a championship."

He also said the Celtics' loss to the Lakers in the 2010 Finals continues to haunt him (It's a tough memory for me to erase."), and he called new Celtic Shaquille O'Neal "one of my all-time favorite players" and "one of the greatest players to play the game," the latter claim being one even the most ardent Lakers fan can't dispute.

Like you, I rolled my eyes at Pierce's wheelchair stunt, his claim that Boston fans are more intelligent than L.A. fans and his guarantee that Boston wouldn't return here after Game 2. Even if this falls on deaf ears, I have to admit it was humbling to see how much of a genuine impact Pierce had at Inglewood High. The assembly was filled with students who cheered when speakers referenced the Lakers and Celtics, and the speakers in the video below (will be uploaded shortly) offer good examples of how he's provided inspiration at his alma mater.  But I did do a double-take when Pierce's former math teacher, Elijah Mackey, boasted that Ron Artest had trouble defending Pierce in the Finals.

-- Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Kobe Bryant's comments after 2010 NBA Finals apparently planted seed for Shaq joining the Celtics

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Welcome to Phase II of the Kobe/Shaq rivalry.

And if you believe the Celtics' principal owner, Wyc Grousbeck,  Bryant planted the idea for Boston to acquire Shaquille O'Neal because of his comments to a question after Game 7 of the NBA Finals this spring regarding what a fifth NBA championship means to him.

"Just got one more than Shaq," Bryant said to a laughing press corps, which normally receives glares, rolled eyes and non-answers when they ask Kobe a Shaq-related question. "You can take that to the bank. You know how I am. I don't forget anything."

That probably includes Shaq's distasteful freestyle about Bryant after the Lakers lost in the 2008 NBA Finals. So why is it called Phase II? Bryant truly wants to win more titles than than Shaq and anyone else, but this rivalry is now just manufactured.

“The minute I heard Kobe [Bryant] say he had one more ring than Shaq, I said to [Celtics president] Danny [Ainge], ‘Let’s go get Shaq,’ and it happened,’’ Grousbeck told the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn.

Grousbeck may have actually said that, but I don't buy for a second the impression Boston wouldn't have come up with the idea in acquiring Shaq if not for Bryant's post-game comments.

It was just two years ago where the symbolic images of the 2009 All-Star game, at least superficially, showed their feud had ended. Bryant and O'Neal played alongside each other and were coached by none other than Phil Jackson. They also shared the MVP award, with Bryant scoring 27 points and Shaq adding 17 in the West's 146-119 victory over the East. The two even hugged each other. Shaq had remarked during the 2009 NBA Finals that the storyline of "Can Kobe win a title without Shaq" was misleading. He argued that Kobe would be the Lakers' greatest player of all time if they beat Boston in the 2010 NBA Finals.

The Times' Mark Heisler had observed during Kobe's and Shaq's All-Star reunion that their spat actually ended in 2006 and the two remain cordial, though they were never friends. But given the fact the Celtics again could meet the Lakers in the Finals -- Shaq's figured out the media game pretty well and we're very willing to accommodate -- this likely will become a repeated storyline. Just don't put too much stock in it. 

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina.

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

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