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Posts Tagged ‘L.A. Lakers’

Los Angeles Lakers Pre-Game Report by Jeff Little

October 26, 2010 1 comment

It’s the season opener for the 2010-2011 Los Angeles Lakers; but before the journey to repeat commences the squad will receive their championship rings for last seasons exploits. This past off-season was the quietest off-season ever for a two-time defending champion in any sport.

The Lakers have no problem with being under the radar with all the pressure being on a certain team that plays in the east. While the majority of the NBA was enamored with a super team being assembled with the three biggest names in free agency landing on the east coast.

The spotlight, scrutiny and high expectations will hover over the Heat all-season and like it or not the move ushered in a new era in the NBA. The super team that Miami is chasing is already assembled and in place on the west coast. However, the purple reign is far from over, but it has improved. The purple and gold didn’t rest on their laurels and stand pat. The two-time defending champion Lakers retooled and are now two deep at every position.

The Additions of veterans Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Theo Ratliff and impressive rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter provide a needed mixture of versatility, experience and youth. The Lakers bench was a weakness last year and now should add better outside shooting as well as produce 35+ points per game.

The additions have also extended the careers of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher as well as provide the Lakers with the ability to match up with anyone. Facing the Rockets; the Lakers have to prepare to play two different teams; one with Yao Ming and one without.

It has been widely publicized that Yao will be limited to 24 minutes per game. Yao is a huge presence in the post and will get the majority of his touches in the half-court offense the Lakers have to minimize his impact on this game.

Los Angeles needs to control the tempo and not allow the Rockets to get out and run. It is a must that all five Lakers get back on defense to eliminate transition baskets. Los Angeles will have to do a good job defending the screen and roll as well as rotating out to their three-point shooters. Los Angeles needs to control the boards and play defense without fouling.

It is imperative that the Lakers take care of the ball, limit their turnovers. The Lakers can out-work the Rockets with a combination of excellent ball and player movement.  When the Lakers do a good job of sharing the ball; effectively moving it from the strong to the weak side and moving the defense in the process, they’re tough to beat. The Lakers need to trust their offense and get into a rhythm early. Los Angeles will run their offense through Pau Gasol in the post and he needs to accept the challenge and be much more aggressive.

 

Prediction: Lakers 102 – Rockets 94

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: TNT
  • Houston: TNT

Radio

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
  • Houston: 1140 AM KHTK (Gary Gerould)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Andrew Bynum (Knee) Out
  • Luke Walton (Hamstring) Out
  • Theo Ratliff (Knee) Listed as Day-to-Day

Rockets

  • C Yao Ming (Foot) Listed as Day-to-Day
  • PG Kyle Lowry (Back Spasms) Listed as Day-to-Day

 

Jeff Little is the mid-day host of the Locker Room on the Sports Journey Network.  Based out of Los Angeles, he is also a writer for Laker Nation.

King Kobe! by Lake Lewis

February 25, 2010 1 comment

Earlier in the year after watching Kobe Bryant drop 42 points on the Chicago Bulls in the “place that Mike built”, I could not help but think that he was a victim of the guy who won those 6 championships in Chi-Town.  Having watched his late game heroics against Memphis in his first game back after being out of action for a few weeks, Kobe Bryant in any era of basketball could be mentioned as perhaps the greatest of all time.  But we now must say “could have” and that’s because any player who plays after Michael Jordan will never get their just due.  Just like we date things in history from BC to AD, we now need to start looking at basketball history the same way.  There is the before Jordan era (BJ) and the after Jordan era (AJ).  Depending on when you played will determine how fans can place you historically.  I have said on numerous occasions as great a player Kobe Bryant is I can not put him in my top five as of yet.  When I actually said that on my radio show was during last years NBA Finals that Kobe and the Lakers won in convincing fashion over Orlando.  At the time I had Kobe ranked seven on my all time NBA player list.  That’s right I had him trailing Jordan, Magic, Bird, Chamberlain, Russell, and Kareem.  No one can argue that these guys at best can be mentioned with Kobe.

What keeps these players at the top of most NBA fan lists is that these guys played (BJ).  Kobe is the lone victim who is playing (AJ).  Sure LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony are great young players now, but they are not benefiting from playing in the Jordan era.  Kobe is the last link to this greatness.  He actually played against Jordan and had the torch passed to him directly.  This helps his cause along with his great game to be mentioned along side the greats.  All of the players that are on my list had one two special things in common.  Dominance on the floor, and championships.  At no time is Kobe the second best player on the floor.  Never!  He is at worst the second best player on a particular night if things are not going well.

Here lie the problems with me putting him ahead of these great players at this point in his career.

  1. He has benefited from a water downed league where he does not have a legitimate rival to his greatness.  Until James and Wade came along there was no other player who had the burden Kobe has to carry Jordan’s torch.  This may not seem fair to Kobe but that is the way it is.
  2. There has been only one “dynasty team” opposing Kobe’s Lakers during his entire career.  That team is the San Antonio Spurs.  All of the great players mentioned above had two and sometimes three “dynasty teams” that they had to conquer in order to win their championships.  Magic and Kareem’s Lakers teams had to go through Boston and Detroit.  Bird’s Celtics had to go through the Lakers, Detroit, and finally MJ’s Bulls.  Michael Jordan’s Bulls had to go through Boston, Detroit, L.A., and to a lesser extent Utah who had a great team.  Chamberlain and Russell had to go through each other and the Lakers when Wilt was playing in Philadelphia.
  3. Until last year when LeBron won the MVP there had not been a player or non-center to rival Kobe’s greatness.  Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal are the only players that could be mentioned with Kobe but the world would have liked a real rival from the non-center position.

Should Kobe win another championship which is highly probable I would have to put him in the top three trailing only Jordan and Russell?  His career averages of 25.2 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assist put him in this select category.  More importantly he will have 5 NBA Rings to back that.  That is where only the true greats can be mentioned because they dominated and won championships.   Take nothing away from Kobe because he did not choose which era he was going to play in.  He has been a true student of the game and has never shied away from greatness.  When he plays the best players in the game you can see him take it upon himself to show those players that he is the “man”.  This is what all of the games greats have done over time.  They would rise to the occasion to show that they could not be equaled.  At least in the (AJ) era Kobe is establishing the (KB) era.  That’s not such a bad deal is it?

Lake Lewis is the President and CEO of the Sports Journey Broadcast Network.  He was a host on ESPN Radio 1060 Orlando, ESPN Radio 1080 Melbourne and the Drive Time host ESPN Radio 1240 Maryland and WMET 1160 in Washington DC

My Weekly Sports Journey for the week ending March 29, 2008

Kobe better just shut up

The scene is the Lakers locker room on Wednesday night after a sorry looking performance against the Charlotte Bobcats in which the pattern of the last week continued: get down early playing virtually no aggressive defense and claw back in a frenzy hoping to maintain the right energy to win. They are now 1-2 in games like that but last night’s comeback was made even more difficult without Kobe who got thrown out with a bit more than 3 minutes to play. You never count the Lakers out if Kobe goes into overdrive in the 4th quarter, focuses like no one but Tiger Woods, takes over the game by finding those that actually can make outside shots and then drives to the basket to absorb hard fouls just to get 2 points that he couldn’t get any other way. That wasn’t gonna happen last night. He had a scowl from the beginning of the game and started barking, as the Lakers radio TV broadcaster Stu Lantz, likes to say, early in the game at the officials. His beef? The refs aren’t giving him the love he wants and thinks he deserves as the superstar he is. Why aren’t there Kobe rules the way Jordan had his? Well, Jordan understood that if you bite the hands that feed you the doggie treats don’t keep coming. Kobe has a sense of entitlement that used to plague Shaq when he was here in LA. If you took a close camera shot of O’Neal and opponents under the basket you’d see multiple fouls every time he jumped up for an offensive rebound or a put-back bucket. Did he get those calls? Usually not since the typical decision of the league refs was to allow him to absorb contact that wasn’t too obvious or hurtful…in their opinion. He got the benefit of that on the other end however since when he was aggressively making his move to clear a path for himself to put the ball up he would swing those elbows around and more than one NBA guy lost teeth or had lumps under his eyes.

Lately Kobe isn’t getting the benefit of the doubt and it is starting to show. He gets elbowed in the face by Baron Davis that opens a gash under his eye but no foul is called, which is the Shaq rule on the receiving end, but he’s getting called for ticky tack reach ins or taps on the arm as he goes up to defend. After a while the build up from that has gotten to him. He had almost reached this boiling point a few weeks ago when he had 3 fewer technicals and Phil took him aside to tell him that it was unseemly. While Phil appreciated the unfairness of the situation he believed that Kobe’s bellyaching on each ticky tack called on him as well as the “barking” when he is obviously fouled on his end of the court was getting the officials sick of it all. Unfair yes, but a fact of life as well. As a team leader and a top candidate for MVP you’ve got to man up and realize there is a bigger goal at stake here: home court for the playoffs and a championship once your 2 star centers get back. You can’t be a baby and get treated like a man. Hey, I like that for a tee shirt that they sell on the streets outside Staples. Acceptance of the situation is needed here and for some reason Kobe is losing it without taking into account the consequences of being 1 more technical away from being suspended for a game. That game could come next week against Dallas or New Orleans and with Pau expected back, how would that play if the team lost with the Western Conference race as tight as my skinny jeans. He knows the rules, the risks and the consequences; who will step up and rip him a new hole where the sun don’t shine? Anyone?

Want more? Read my Daily Dose of Duffy column at www.incidentalcontact.com and listen to me on the Sports Journey radio show on Wednesday and Friday.

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