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Category: Lakers Trivia

Ron Artest moving past Game 5 heroics, but still feels disrespected

The moment Ron Artest's put-back went through the basket in the Lakers' 103-101 Game 5 Western Conference finals victory Thursday over the Phoenix Suns, he claimed for a split second he felt no emotion other than the fact the Lakers need to win Game 6 to clinch the series.

Soon after, however, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant embraced him, Lakers forward Lamar Odom wrapped his arms around him and the rest of the team quickly followed suit. I noted before that Artest, a player who prides himself on not dwelling on past performances, seemed to soak up the scene, slapping high-fives with teammates, enthusiastically recapping the theatrics to reporters and signing autographs to plenty of fans. Yet, he shared after Friday's practice that the brief jubilation pointed more to the fact that he viewed his game-winner as "more of a team thing" than any individual accomplishment. 

Artest's happiness became as fleeting as his rise from goat to hero in Game 5. That's when he launched an ill-advised three-pointer in the final minute as the Lakers nursed a three-point lead with 22 seconds on the shot clock. He then responded with a put-back off Bryant's missed three-pointer with 0.8 seconds remaining. Artest's post-game elation appeared so fleeting that he wondered why former Sacramento teammate Mike Bibby sent him a text message congratulating him for the shot. It appeared so fleeting that he went to a local gym to work out for an hour, believing that immediate postgame exercise would ensure longer recovery time before the next game. It appeared so fleeting that he used the phrase "move on" eight different times the next day when discussing his Game 5 heroics.

"I wasn't always that way," said Artest, whose career has mostly been defined by his aloof and angry on-court persona, most notably in the Brawl at the Palace. "When I was younger, I'd stay in the moment or stay in the past. But I wish I could've enjoyed it more. But there's nothing to enjoy."

As far as why that mindset has changed, Artest said, "I don't know." But he acknowledged he'll revel in the moment if Lakers win a championship, which explains why Artest signed a five-year deal worth $33 million with the organization and why fans and media members forever debate whether the Lakers are better off with Artest than Trevor Ariza. That's because Artest embodies a living contradiction that both frustrates and inspires, with his up-and-down performance in Game 5 serving as the most recent example. The Lakers have enjoyed his lockdown defensive presence but experience frustration with Artest's learning curve in the triangle offense. They lament his stubborn approach in shooting open shots, despite his 32.9 shooting percentage this postseason, but love that Artest maintains the confidence to immediately bounce back. Artest carries a serious approach in going to the gym immediately following Game 5, but arrives to practice the following day a half-hour late because he didn't read the correct time on the whiteboard.

That's why when a reporter asked Lakers Coach Phil Jackson if he can properly explain Artest, he immediately relents. "No, I certainly can't," said Jackson, who added he fined Artest an undisclosed amount for arriving late to practice. "I tell Lamar [Odom] he's his guardian. We have not the blind leading the blind, but probably the deaf leading the blind." Through the good and the bad, however, reveals one clear thing. Artest's teammates have fully embraced him. The team's support following Artest's game-winner appeared genuine, with Jackson describing the reaction this way: "They all knew he messed up and were rooting for him to have a comeback." Bryant admires Artest's willingness to play through adversity: "He just puts his head down and goes. And Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who describes Artest as a "good teammate" and "good guy," points to his want to help: "He's worked to try to adjust and fit in as much as he could."

"I don't know if that's the right thing or the wrong thing," Artest said. "I don't know if I'm going about things the right way or the wrong way but I worry about the next possession."

Nonetheless, you can't fault Artest for his earnestness in wanting to help the team. After suffering through plantar fasciitis (sore feet) in December, he went through pains to lose weight so he could compensate for his decreased quickness. He has routinely delegated to teammates, most notably Bryant, and makes it clear he's part of the supporting cast. And he's played through assorted injuries, including a sprained left thumb.

You can understand Artest's intentions, even if they didn't produce the desired result. He dyed his hair numerous times in hope to lighten the mood, only to be met with teasing and rolled eyes among teammates and the coaching staff. He's attempted to learn the offense and play through it, even if he often causes disruption. And he's tried to revamp his persona with numerous public appearances, though it's often diverted his attention from fully concentrating on basketball.

And then there are things you simply have to tolerate as Artest still shows small glimpses of immaturity. There was head-scratching over his Christmas night concussion. Artest's frustrations with Jackson's public criticism of his shooting prompted him to air his grievances via Twitter. And he views opponents' scouting reports in giving him open shots as a sign of disrespect when it really just speaks to teams playing the percentages.

But there's no amount of statistics to quantify the effort Artest will bring. There may be maddening performances to come. The rest of the postseason might also feature some strong defensive matchups and hot shooting nights. Whatever version of Artest the Lakers will experience, they know he's leaving everything on the court in an effort to help ensure the Lakers repeat. 

"My main thing is making sure I stay in the game, staying focused and giving 100%," Artest said. "Sometimes 100% is not good enough for people watching or it's just not good enough. If I give 100%, I'm totally happy. That's why I'm totally happy with being a villain sometimes or being hated. As long as I give 100%, I'm like, 'Cool, I gave 100%,' I went down like a soldier. That's the only thing I know."

But don't expect Artest to savor the moment anytime soon, unless, of course, the Lakers win the title.

Said Artest: "If God blesses me, if he allows me to have that, I will."

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

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 [email protected]

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.

Time wasting trivia challenge of the day

It's been a while since we brought one of these bad boys out, and I think I found a fun one...

For each number currently worn by a Laker, name the player who had previously owned it.
  For example, before Sun Yue pulled on his #9 sweater this season, it was sported by Laron Profit back in '06.  Kobe's old #8 belonged to Randolph Keys in '95.  (Like you needed me to tell you what number Randolph Keys wore in '95.  My bad.)

There are currently 14 players on the roster.  Bonus points for adding Vlad and Mihm.  First to name the most correct answers wins, and if you have to look it up make it clear.  There's no shame in that.  However, there's a special wing in the afterlife for those who cheat in blog trivia contests, and it's not pleasant. 

Have at it!

BK

Trivia Answer

Sorry, I forgot to post the answer to the following:

"What Laker holds the single game record for blocks? How many did he have? Hint? It's a number big enough to make you wonder why the opposition didn't just take jumpers from the perimeter."

As many of you posted, some by looking it up on the Web (for shame, for shame), the answer is Elmore Smith with 17, against Portland back in '73. Although as many pointed out, blocks weren't an official stat until the '73-'74 season, so who knows for sure what the number might have been if people had been counting when Wilt was patrolling the lane.

BK

Lakers Trivia Question of the Day

For today's trivia question, I decided to get a little nostalgic and harken back to the long ago days of November, when Kobe lit up the Jazz for 30 in the third. (I'm a product of the MTV generation. My memory doesn't stretch back that far.) That was some pretty impressive stuff, but many a Laker has had an incredible single-game performance. So I hit the Lakers bible (i.e., the media guide) in search of what I found to be the most impressive one-day record of the lot ... tossing out '81 because that's just too easy. I passed over Magic's twin 24-dime games in '89-'90, Wilt's 42 boards in '69 (dude was very, very tall), and Jerry West's 10 steals in '73 before landing on the figure that made me go, "Damn!" Or at least moreso. So here it is:

What Laker holds the single game record for blocks? How many did he have? Hint? It's a number big enough to make you wonder why the opposition didn't just take jumpers from the perimeter.

As always, no cheating.

BK

Trivia Answer

Earlier in the week, I posed the following:

"As everyone, especially those of you who plowed 100+ bucks into No. 8 replica jerseys, has noticed, Kobe Bryant is now sporting number 24. Because it's not in the rafters, you can assume that at the very least, that number has not seen true greatness in purple and gold (or baby blue and gold, either). In reality, it hasn't even seen all that much pretty-goodness. Kobe is the 15th player to don the number, and by far the most accomplished. How many of the other 14 can you name? Remember, no cheating, and if there's any wagering, we don't want to know about it."

I know you've been clamoring for an answer. "Put us out of our misery, BK! Please!" you've been clamoring. OK, here we go. Below the jump are the mighty 15 guys — including Kobe — who have worn 24 for the Lakers.

Continue reading »

On This Day in History, and Some 24 Trivia

It's a shame I didn't do this yesterday, because on the fifth of November 1971, Rick Roberson was traded to Cleveland for a draft choice and cash. Oh, and Elgin Baylor retired. Oh well. We'll recycle that one in 364 days. Anyway...

ON THIS DAY IN LAKERS HISTORY: 11/6/84 — L.A. waived Chuck Nevitt. He would be signed, waived, signed, and waived again by 11/23/85. Damn.

NOW FOR THE TRIVIA: As everyone, especially those of you who plowed $100+ bucks into No. 8 replica jerseys, has noticed, Kobe Bryant is now sporting number 24. Because it's not in the rafters, you can assume that at the very least, that number has not seen true greatness in purple and gold (or baby blue and gold, either). In reality, it hasn't even seen all that much pretty-goodness. Kobe is the 15th player to don the number, and by far the most accomplished. How many of the other 14 can you name? Remember, no cheating, and if there's any wagering, we don't want to know about it.

BK

We Have a Winner (and information...)

Congratulations to rdlee, who was the first person to correctly answer tonight's trivia question: 

"...how many times has a Laker been named Rookie of the Year?  Name them all."

The winning answer:  Elgin Baylor (and only Elgin Baylor), who won after a 1958-59 season in which he averaged 24.9 points, 15 boards, and 4.1 assists a game.  Not bad for a rook, right?

Runner up was Roger B, who gets props for naming the correct year.  We'll throw a bone as well to Jon Kavulic who quickly pointed out that no Los Angeles Laker has won... but forgot to mention Elgin. 

Also, a few of you have asked who you should write to let the Times know you want a Dodger blog.  Try [email protected]

Thanks. 

BK

Continue reading »

Lakers Trivia Question of the Day

Lots of banter on the site today about new blood for the Lakers.  I don't think anyone thinks it's not needed, that's for sure.  But if next season's injection of talent comes in the form of a rookie, how likely is he to haul home some hardware at the end of the year  That brings us to today's question:

You can make a solid argument that no franchise in basketball has had the sheer number of star players wear their uniform as the Lakers.  But how many times has a Laker been named Rookie of the Year?  Name them all. 

Rock on. 

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

And I'm not talking about the Lakers and their 102-97 win Tuesday night over Orlando.  Nope.  I'm here to congratulate Don Ford, who was the first to correctly post the answer to today's Lakers Trivia Question! 

(Since the 1973-74 season, only six Lakers have led the team in blocked shots for a season.  Name them.)

Don's winning answer:

Elmore Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Vlade Divac, Elden Campbell, Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Mihm. 

Honorable mention to Scott, who had to slog through what was apparently a poorly worded, hella confusing question.  Once he knew what it was, Scott posted the correct answer.  Thanks to all who played!  Extra thanks to those of you who reminded us that the San Diego Conquistadors existed.  Fantastic team name.  I miss the ABA, or would if I had been more than a year old when it folded/merged with the NBA. 

Anyway, for his trouble Don Ford wins nothing but Lakers Blog pride.  Until we get a bigger budget, I'm afraid that's all we have to give away.  Sorry.  Send any complaints to the Times.

BK

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