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Category: NBA All-Star game

Video Caption Contest: Kobe Bryant posterizes LeBron James in 2011 NBA All-Star game

There's no need to offer up a prize for this contest. Readers of The Times' Lakers blog would write a caption for this even if it wasn't asked of them.

But for the sake of making things easier and to invite all the creativity that surrounds the comment threads, I encourage everyone to write their best caption to Kobe Bryant's posterizing dunk over LeBron James in the 2011 NBA All-Star game.

I found Bryant's two-handed dunk perfectly epitomized his want to stake his dominance in the All-Star game, securing a fourth All-Star MVP after scoring 37 points on 14 of 26 shots and hauling in 14 rebounds. It also provides the perfect image for Lakers fans to point to (aside from the five rings, of course) to illustrate why Bryant's better than James. Don't get carried away too much. James had a triple-double, after all, and proved instrumental in the East slicing what was a 17-point deficit to enter the fourth quarter.

You've likely glossed over, forgotten about and perhaps rolled your eyes at the latter two sentences, so I'll just cut to the chase. If your caption proves among the best, it will be presented in Tuesday's links post. I'll let Bryant provide a few ideas by featuring his explanation of the play itself.

"That was funny, actually, because I saw it coming and I wanted to see if I could avoid the LeBron chasedown," Bryant said. "But I told him afterwards, 'If I had tried to go over the rim, like get up, he probably would have blocked it with his armpit. So I just tried to be quick and just tried to time it up just the right way and I managed to do it. I kind of snuck it by him."

-- Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

James Worthy shares NBA All-Star memories

After a while they all strung together.

Former Lakers forward James Worthy appeared in seven consecutive All-Star games from 1986 to 1992, and over time they served as nothing more than a relaxing weekend and an opportunity to hang out with the league's elite. Unsurprisingly, however, there are two games that remain fresh in his mind.

1986 NBA All-Star game

Worthy instantly gelled with the Lakers after they drafted him in 1982 from North Carolina as the No. 1 pick. His 13.4 points per game and 57.9% mark from the field earned him a spot on the 1983 All-Rookie team. He moved into the starting lineup the next season and developed a hefty reputation as one of the league's best baseline post players.

Worthy acknowledged that his first All-Star appearance as a starter in 1986 was "pretty cool" because he saw it as a validation of his career, after distinguishing himself in the shadows of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the Showtime Era and helping the Lakers win the 1985 title against the Boston Celtics in six games. Worthy scored 20 points on 10-of-19 shooting in 28 minutes in the West's 139-132 loss to the East. His point total was second only to Abdul-Jabbar for the West (21 points on nine-of-15 shooting and seven rebounds).

"I was a young kid on the block," Worthy said. "I was pretty excited. The first time there, you're a nervous wreck because you're around all the legends and all the other All-Stars. You take it a little too seriously. I treated it like a playoff game and was really involved."

1992 NBA All-Star game

This game, his last All-Star appearance, stood out to Worthy but for different reasons. Just before the season began, Johnson had announced his retirement because he had HIV, but he returned to the All-Star game because fans voted him in as a starter. Ranging from Johnson embracing Isiah Thomas at center court, having one-on-one showdowns with Thomas and Michael Jordan and finishing with the All-Star MVP award, Johnson's 25-point effort in the West's 153-113 victory over stirred up several emotions for Worthy.

"It was good for everybody," said Worthy, who scored nine points on four-of-seven shooting in 14 minutes off the bench. "We had been educated about everything he had gone through. Everybody was very wise about HIV/AIDS. It was a warm welcome. And Magic, he did his thing."

-- Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Pau Gasol sheds some light on Lakers' team meeting following loss to Cleveland

Pau-gasol_400

Before the Lakers jetted off and went their separate ways during NBA All-Star weekend, there was still one matter to discuss: That touchy subject of the loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That game provided all indications that the Lakers were ready for the All-Star break before it actually began, so it was a tad ironic that attitude made it necessary for the Lakers to delay it as they discussed the current state of their play.

"We have talked," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said Friday during his media interview session as part of the NBA All-Star festivities at the J.W. Marriott hotel in downtown L.A. "We talked as a team. We talked and we addressed certain things. Hopefully we'll see a difference."

The scavenger hunt remains active for exactly what topics made the Lakers' minutes during their team meeting; Gasol didn't offer many specifics. But there's one item to cross off, according to Gasol -- dissension. There's also one topic that the team surely discussed at length: the Lakers are lacking consistent chemistry.

"Understanding the situation we're in and putting everything aside and appreciating and knowing we're there for a reason," Gasol said when asked what the team emphasized during the meeting, which he said also included the Lakers' coaching staff. "We're all in this and we can't make this worse and we have to play right. It won't happen by people trying on their own. As much as you can try individually, you have to put your efforts together in order to accomplish the team's success. ... It's not like our team is not together or we have problems internally. It's just we haven't been playing as well as we should for whatever reason. That's something we're trying to fix."

There are surely plenty of items. The first obviously entails avoiding losing to teams with the league's worst record. But that's only a fragment of their problems. The Lakers (38-19) aren't in any realistic position to surpass the San Antonio Spurs (46-10) for the top spot in the Western Conference, and they're constantly having to monitor the Dallas Mavericks (40-16) above them and the Oklahoma City Thunder (35-19) below them, so any additional losses could have tangible ramifications in playoff seeding. The Lakers have fallen near the middle of the pack in both offense (102.25 points a game, eighth in the NBA) and defense (96.4 points, 11th), field-goal percentage (46.8%, seventh) and assists (22.07, ninth).

But the Lakers' inconsistent performances make it difficult to accurately gauge the team. It was just last week, after all, that the Lakers' 4-0 start to a seven-game trip, including a crucial win at Boston, had assuaged fears about the state of the team and whether Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak would make any trades. Kupchak said that it's "unlikely" the team will make a trade before the Feb. 24 deadline, but didn't rule out making a move that would give the Lakers a better shot at three-peating. The Lakers' seemingly never-ending pendulum swing in performances also makes it hard for Gasol to accurately point to where the problem lies.

"There's been a lot of hot and cold this year and a lot of contrasts unfortunately," Gasol said. "We need to find a certain level of consistency. I think we can do that. I don't know about trades. I don't know what's going to happen. I have no control over that. I think with the team we have and the weapons we have on our team, we should be perfectly fine. Things are not clicking at this particular time."

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Pau Gasol faces the media onslaught during Friday's session at the NBA All-Star weekend. Credit: John G. Mabanglo / EPA

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