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Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

Category: Post Game Wrap

Lakers' bumpy ride in the Rockies still adds up to a win

Lakers4_340Caught in the web: What our colleagues are saying about the Lakers' 93-89 victory over the Nuggets on Friday night in Denver:

--The Times' Ben Bolch writes about how the Lakers won with a flurry of big fourth-quarter plays.

-- ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin recaps 10 things about the grind-it-out win.

-- The OC Register's Kevin Ding on how the Lakers started their road trip with a bang.

-- The Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman on how two quality teams tried to find a way to win when not playing well.

-- Land O' Lakers bloggers Andy and Brian Kamenetzky discuss topics of interest in the Lakers' best road win of the season.

-- The Denver Post's Lindsay H. Jones, via the LA Daily News, on Coach Mike Brown staying with Metta World Peace as the starting small forward.

--The Times' Bolch reports that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is staying positive about the team's road prospects.

-- The Post's Nuggets Ink blogger Christopher Dempsey takes a look at an NBA Ironman, former L.A. Verbum Dei star Andre Miller.

ALSO:

Laker's Nation

Forum Blue and Gold

Silver Screen and Roll

-- Dan Loumena

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum looks for a landing spot after dunking against the Nuggets Friday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

Lakers present mixed performance in 102-98 victory over Philadelphia 76ers

Lakers5_510 There Lakers guard Kobe Bryant stood at the free-throw line, with the Staples Center crowd wearing gold New Year's Eve hats while chanting "M-V-P." The volume and energy somewhat resembled a playoff atmosphere, but the reason why the fans stood on their feet pointed to the Lakers' failure to solidify an ordinary regular-season win against an ordinary regular-season opponent.

It's a good thing considering the Lakers need to properly pace themselves for the grinding effort to three-peat. But it was also a bad thing because it kept a game much closer than it should've been. Bryant wrapped up that dichotomy by hitting two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to secure a 102-98 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at Staples Center. It also capped off Bryant scoring 10 of his team-high 33 points in the fourth quarter, including a 12-foot fadeaway jumper that gave the Lakers a 100-98 lead with 1:15 remaining.

"The ball goes into my hands and I have to make plays from there," Bryant said. "I know how to make those."

Bryant made plenty of plays, including two consecutive jumpers that gave the Lakers a 92-87 lead with 6:05 remaining and a 16-foot fadeaway to give the Lakers a 98-95 lead with 2:24 left. Bryant's late-game heroics should be reserved for marquee games and playoff series, not for a game against Philadelphia (13-20). The Lakers (23-10) had already developed enough bad habits in a recent three-game losing streak, only to show better effort and team balance Wednesday while winning at New Orleans. Against Philadelphia, the Lakers showed that foundation isn't firmly set yet.

"We play a ton of games in January so I anticipate that will help us get back in rhythm," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.

Yet in the present the Lakers had to manage a Sixers team that's demonstrated a youthful balance and a capability of picking up signature wins (Orlando, Denver) and giving teams fits (Boston, Lakers) under first-year Coach Doug Collins (whom Jackson initially worked for as an assistant with Chicago). But Jackson shouldn't have had to dissect the significance of Pau Gasol's block on Thaddeus Young with 58 seconds that prevented the Sixers from tying the score.

The Lakers led the entire way, yet Philadelphia made it awfully close, thanks to balanced scoring from Jrue Holiday (19), Lou Williams (18), Thaddeus Young (14), Andres Nocioni (13) and Evan Turner (12), exploiting the Lakers' poor transition defense with 18 fast-break points and punishing the Lakers for not closing out on the perimeter with a nine-of-25 clip from three-point range.

"We made too many mistakes," Jackson succinctly noted.

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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 mgmedin@gmail.com

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.

Lakers' teamwork evident on numerous plays in 96-81 victory over Utah Jazz

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It's likely Lakers fans have often heard or read buzzwords such as "teamwork," "collective effort" and "balance" to describe how the team has managed to survive this last week without guard Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle) and center Andrew Bynum (sore right hip) in the lineup.

Feel free to run a count on how many times I've written those words, because I know they've circled in my head numerous times while the Lakers (40-13) have reeled off three consecutive victories, their latest being a 96-81 win Wednesday over the Utah Jazz

It remains unclear whether Bryant will play Sunday in the NBA All-Star game. It's also uncertain when Bynum will return, after recently telling reporters he may get a cortisone shot to treat his hip after the All-Star break.

Regardless of whether they will have to hold the fort without two of their starters, the Lakers have provided a model these last three games that the team can follow going forward. It's nothing groundbreaking. They simply have been executing the triangle offense and sticking to basic defensive principles, resulting with the team feeling pretty good about itself during the All-Star break. 

Though the Lakers had actually gotten off to slow starts against Portland and San Antonio before pulling away, they displayed a balanced effort the entire game against Utah. The execution mostly went well from start to finish. Below is a breakdown on how the Lakers pulled that off (after the jump). 

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Lakers' Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar instrumental in Lakers' 98-92 victory over Orlando Magic

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With the Lakers facing a seven-point deficit against the Orlando Magic with 2:57 remaining in the third quarter, backup guards Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar entered the game and immediately locked eyes on each other.

"Now is our time," Farmar said to Brown. "Let's go."

"I'm in," Brown responded.

Brown and Farmar made good on their word. They were instrumental in helping the Lakers put together 15 unanswered fourth-quarter points en route to a 98-92 victory over the Magic, the first time the two teams had met since the Lakers won 4-1 in the 2009 NBA Finals. 

If it weren't for the bench play led by Brown and Farmar, the Lakers (32-9) would have losses this season from every single team they eliminated in last season's playoffs.

"I told them they were the ones," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "They were the reason why we got this game."

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant scored 11 points on only four of 19 shooting, partly because of poor shot selection and partly because an attempted wraparound pass to D.J. Mbenga in the second quarter irritated the injury to his right index finger, he said. Center Andrew Bynum, suffering what Jackson referred to as low energy level, scored only eight points and missed the entire fourth quarter, sick in the locker room.  

Brown and Farmar certainly spiked the Lakers' energy level. Brown scored a career-high 22 points, while Farmar added nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. It was, all in all, a memorable day for Brown, who earlier had been included, officially, in the NBA Dunk Contest. 

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Collective effort ensures Lakers' 100-95 victory over Dallas Mavericks

Even if flaring back pains ultimately made Lakers guard Kobe Bryant miss the entire fourth quarter of the Lakers' loss Tuesday to San Antonio, he wasn't going to allow anything to prevent him from missing tonight's game against the Dallas Mavericks.

Not the likely discomfort of overnight travel from San Antonio to Dallas. Not the short time between games that makes significant progress unlikely. And certainly not the discomfort that made him feel like he couldn't even walk during Tuesday's game against the Spurs.

And if it required him to wake up as early as 5 a.m. today for treatment, well, is anyone really surprised Mamba wouldn't do this?

What is surprising is how the Lakers responded in their 100-95 victory over the Mavericks, giving the franchise its 3,000th victory and snapping the team's four-game road losing streak.

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Lakers' 95-77 victory over Milwaukee Bucks full of many plot points

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Flash back to a conversation Lakers Coach Phil Jackson had with Jordan Farmar during the 2007 NBA playoffs, and the advice he gave to him at that time regarding Kobe Bryant would still be applicable to this season.

"I always tell the players they have to be strong willed enough to turn him down when he demands the ball and something else better is going on the other side of the court," Jackson said of Bryant. "Until they develop that strength, we’re not going to bail him out."

Except that's exactly what happened Sunday in the Lakers' 95-77 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. No, Mamba's teammates didn't stage an intervention. But they bailed Bryant out in another way, something the Lakers struggled to do in their past two games during Mamba's shooting slump.

Though Bryant scored a season-low 12 points on four of 21 shooting, he at least acknowledged Sunday that his month-long right index finger has worsened, a fact that was painfully obvious for both him and his fans.

"I tried to play with a splint off," Bryant said. "I put it back off and then I put it back on in the second half. I'm just trying to get a little bit more flexibility back. My finger felt pretty good. So we tried to go without the splint. It’s just not strong enough yet."

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Nothing goes right for Lakers in loss to Clippers

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The Lakers coaching staff had plenty of reasons to criticize the team following their 102-91 loss Wednesday to the Clippers.

"They just said we played like boneheads," center Andrew Bynum recalled.

The statistics clearly spelled out many of the problems, with the Lakers shooting 38.4% and dishing out only 17 assists. Though the Lakers had hoped Ron Artest's return in the last two games would improve the team's defensive discipline, he's still a work in progress. Meanwhile, the Lakers yielded 54 points in the paint and allowed 26 points in transition.

Even with these daunting statistics, the Lakers have found ways before to overcome poor performances against sub-.500 teams. But they couldn't against the Clippers, who survived 10 ties and six lead changes en route to their first victory over the Lakers in 10 games.

The Lakers were victorious over Houston on Tuesday, thanks to Bynum's dominance inside and Lamar Odom's near-triple-double. Against the Clippers, center Chris Kaman's 21 points and 15 rebounds neutralized Bynum's 15 points and 14 boards, though it was his first double-double in 24 games.

Odom had a near-triple-double against Houston, despite feeling lousy with intestinal-flu-like symptoms that kept him from Monday's practice. Against the Clippers, those symptoms still lingered, and Odom finished with only nine points on three of 11 shooting.

So much for the Lakers having an inside presence to fill the void of Pau Gasol (sore left hamstring), who helped the Lakers clinch a victory last week against Golden State with a pair of clutch free throws.

"I always say the strength of our team is our depth," Odom said. "During the season there will always be people who go down. Of course we miss Pau. But we would miss Drew, Kobe and D-Fish. The strength of our team is our depth. So we’re prepared for that to happen. We just didn’t play well tonight."

The Lakers missed Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant, but they were still present on the court. Fisher sat out the entire fourth quarter for the third time in the last week, going one of three for three points while backup guard Shannon Brown had 15 (the rest of the bench had eight points).

In a win on New Year's Day against Sacramento, the Lakers survived a 20-point deficit with Bryant making his third game-winner of the season. Against the Clippers, he finished with 33 points on 10 of 30 shooting. Though his 17 third-quarter points helped narrow the Clippers' lead to 79-73 entering the fourth quarter, it wasn't enough -- a rare case when Bryant couldn't successfully fight through the fracture to his right index finger.

"It’s sore," Bryant said. "It’s OK. I played through it."

Instead, it was the play of Clippers guards Baron Davis (25 points, 10 assists) and Eric Gordon (18 points) that dominated the backcourt.

"He was looking to ride that streak he got going in the third quarter," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said of Bryant."I tried to give him some rest. He got five or six minutes of rest, but he couldn’t regenerate that in the fourth."

Even though the Lakers still stand with an impressive 28-7 record, Bynum fears Wednesday's loss presents serious issues.

"We can't continue to play like that," Bynum said. "It's going to wear us out later on in the season."

-- Mark Medina

Photo: Josh Powell, left, Rasual Butler and Kobe Bryant await a rebound during the Clippers' 102-91 victory over the Lakers on Wednesday night. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times.

Postgame Video: Lakers lose 102-91 to the Clippers

LA Times Reporters discuss Lakers 102-91 loss to the Clippers

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson

Lakers center Andrew Bynum

Lakers forward Lamar Odom

--Mark Medina

Lakers 101, Utah 77: It may not be "X" hat worthy, but 10 straight wins is pretty damn good

Am I wrong, or does it look in that video like I somehow ate my own neck for dinner? Hopefully it's just a lighting issue. Breakdown below.

BK

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