Monday, December 29, 2008

Lakers-Warriors: Golden State Fails To Make It a Sweep

The Lakers routed the Golden State Warriors 130-113, on December 28. Reigning MVP Kobe Bryant scored 31 points on 9-of-15 shooting, hitting three of his six three-point attempts and a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. He had 4 steals and 4 assists.

Derek Fisher, who had a lot of help from his teammates defensively, played for less than 25 minutes and scored 19 points on 9-of-12 field goal shooting. He had 5 assists and a steal.

Sasha Vujacic scored 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting hitting 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. He also had aix assists to go with his steal. Andrew Bynum played just over 25 minutes and made 6 of his 12 shots for 13 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals and a blocked shot.

Pau Gasol added 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 30 minutes. Trevor Ariza contributed 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists, a steal and two blocked shots off the bench (including a blocked jump shot by Marco Belinelli).

Jamal Crawford returned to the Warriors' lineup after missing two games with a groin strain and scored 22 points with five assists. Belinelli and Brandan Wright had 14 points each.

As expected, the Warriors front-court wasn't be able to match up against the Lakers big men. Andris Biedrins only scored eight points, despite inhaling 17 rebounds (including a season high 15 rebounds in the first half). Biedrins tied Amare Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns for the most reboudns in a half.

Stephen Jackson struggled with his shots hitting 3-of-9 for nine points with a single rebound. Former Laker Ronny Turiaf was scoreless in 20 minutes with a single rebound, despite blocking four shots.

The game was a shootout between the league's best offensive teams. The Lakers are the number one offensive team in the NBA averaging 107.3 points per game while the Warriors are number two with 105 points per contest.

But the Warriors are also the worst defensive team in the league, surrendering 111.3 points per game while the Lakers only allowed their opponents to score an average of 97.6 per game. The Lakers are, in fact, the 3rd leading team in the NBA in terms of point-differential, which is the average margin of victory.

The Warriors have proven that an energetic offensive team playing in their home court could win against a defensive team in their recent game against the Boston Celtics, the number one defensive team in the league that limits their opponents to 41.8% field goal shooting.

The Celtics didn't have enough offense to counter the Warriors' offensive run in the fourth quarter. The Warriors outscored the Celtics in the last period, 35-17 to seal their win.

But against the Lakers? No chance! The Lakers had enough offense to allow any letdown in any quarter in their game against the Warriors. Can the Warriors do it when they play in their home court against the Lakers on Jan. 7 next year?

Maybe... But I doubt it!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Warriors Will Try To Get Back-To-Back Wins Against Top Teams vs. The Lakers

Tonight's game against the Lakers (24-5) and the Golden State Warriors (9-22) will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Lakers have won 13 of their last 16 games against the Warriors.

They split their four regular games last season 2-2. They last played on March 24, 2008 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. The Lakers won 123-119. But we couldn't use their last season's record match-up to predict this game's winner as the Warriors is now a completely different team with the departure of Baron Davis, who went to the Lakers' hometown neighbor, LA Clippers, and the trade of Al Harrington to the New York Knicks for Jamal Crawford. Plus, Monta Ellis is still out with ankle injury.

Davis, Ellis and Harrington combined for an average of 57.8 points in their 4-game series with the Lakers—that's more than half of their teams' average of 113.8 points scored against their downstate rivals.

The trio scored 62 and 63 total points in their two wins against the Lakers last season. Where would the Warriors get those scoring contributions? From Jamal Crawford? Maybe! Crawford just had a breakout game, scoring 50 points in their 110-103 win against the Charlotte Bobcats last week.

The current Golden State lineup is a typical Don Nelson's small-ball, free-wheeling, offensive team. And they went even smaller after they sent forward Harrington to the Knicks for guard Crawford, who's now playing as their starting point guard while Ellis recovers from ankle injury. Crawford is averaging 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and 1.1 steals in 16 games in Warriors uniform this season. He missed last night's game against the Celtics due to groin injury. But he is expected to play tonight's game.

The Warriors were coming from a stunning victory against the Boston Celtics at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. Stephen Jackson returned to their starting lineup and scored eight straight points during the decisive fourth-quarter stretch to finish with 28, and the Warriors sent Boston to back-to-back losses for the first time this season by rallying past the Celtics 99-89. The Warriors won five straight and was 12 of 15 against the Celtics at home.

The Lakers have had some difficulty playing against small teams with quick guards who can penetrate inside. Would Crawford get inspired by his game against Bobcats and his team's win against the Celtics without him in the lineup to score another upset?

I don't think so! First, Jamal Crawford has had difficulty scoring against the Lakers team. He only averages 15.8 points in his last 13 games against the Lakers. The Lakers is no Bobcats! They won't allow anybody to drop 50 on them. Not even Dwayne Wade, whom they allowed to score 35 points in one of their losses. That game would probably be the last time they would allow an opposing player score 35 or more points on them. Well, at least before they visit Lebron James and his Cavaliers on Feb. 8 next year.

Also, the Warriors front-court wouldn't be able to match-up against the Lakers big men. 6'11" Andris Biedrins only averages six points and less than seven boards in 13 games against the Lakers. 6'9" Brandan Wright was also ineffective, scoring just 6 and 0 points in his last two games against the Lakers.

Would Nelson start 6'5" Kelenna Azubuike at small forward with 6'8" Stephen Jackson at power forward? Or maybe former Laker, 6'10" Ronny Turiaf with 4.2 points per game. Maybe he could use Turiaf's 2.2 blocks per game to stop 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

But hey, didn't the small-lineup Heat, playing like David, beat the the Giant Lakers? I'm sure Don Nelson has been spending nights watching and analyzing that game. He'd want to be the next David to defeat Goliath.

Only that Phil Jackson and his coaching staff are doing the same watching and analyzing. I'm sure they've learned already from that game.

I hope...


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lakers beat Celtics on Christmas day

The Los Angeles Lakers gave us "love this Christmas day" by beating Boston, 92-83, and snap the Celtics 19-game winning streak.

I knew it! There's no way the Lakers would lose this game I even made a bet that I'd stop posting in this blog if the Celtics win the game. Thank you Phil. Thank you Kobe. Thank you Pau. Thank you Lakers for keeping this blog alive!

Phil was right in sticking to his starting lineup featuring "The Twin Towers" with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, even though it's not their most efficient unit, and they sometimes struggled on road games against smaller and quicker teams like Miami, Sacramento, Orlando, and Indiana. They almost lost in New York with a short-handed Knicks lineup. Jackson really prepared his players well for a game like this--against the best and hottest team in the league.

Bynum had 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and just 2 personal fouls in 36 minutes. Luke Walton had a solid game in 28 minutes scoring 8 points, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 4 rebounds. He was also 2-3 in the 3-point line. Now we know why Phil inserted him in the starting lineup replacing Vladimir Radmanovic, who seemed to have found his offensive game before the switch. Luke is a better defender and passer, having mastered the triangle offense in his 5 years of playing for the Lakers. He's also more consistent against championship caliber opponents.

Kobe Bryant had his usual game that made him MVP last season with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Pau Gasol scored 7 of his 20 points in the final three minutes. He also had 5 assists and blocked 3 shots, one of which was on Ray Allen's 3-point attempt that would have put the Celtics within two points with 1:16 minutes left in the game.

Derek Fisher helped limit Rajon Rondo to 6 points on 3-of-11 shooting although he also struggled offensively, shooting 2-of-10 in the field scoring 6 points but he made 7 assists. Lamar Odom came off the bench and contributed 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. He also made two of his three 3-point attempts. Sasha Vujacic also contributed 10 points.

Kevin Garnett topscored for the Celtics with 22 points with 9 rebounds. Paul Pierce had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Ray Allen scored 14 points on 5-of-14 field goal shooting.

The Lakers played excellent defense in the fourth quarter, limiting the Celtics to 16 points. Boston missed all seven of their 3-point attempts in the final period. They surely missed James Posey's clutch 3-point shooting.

Gasol, who, before this game, usually defers to Bryant in the last quarter, was more aggressive at both ends of the floor. He made all three of his shots and all three of his free throws in the fourth quarter for nine of his team's 21 points.

The Lakers' frontcourt players blocked nine of their opponents shots to Boston's three. The Lakers also had more trips to the free-throw line making 12-of-15 to 6-of-8 for the Celtics. They also made 8-of-20 3-point shots while Boston was only 5-of-22 for 22.7%. The team's swarming defense also forced 17 Celtics turnovers.

Who's the best defensive team in the league right now? They say it's the Boston Celtics. Well, maybe they were last year. But this season, the Lakers proved they can play defense to the team that beat them in the NBA Finals just six months ago.


Lakers-Celtics Preview - 25-Dec-08

The Lakers will win this game against the Boston Celtics this Christmas. That's my prediction. And I'm pretty confident of this that I'd be willing to bet the life of this blog to any Celtics bloggers out there if the Lakers lose this game.

Basketball analysts either refuses or can't make their own predictions due to many variables. The Celtics is the hottest team right now, coming to the game trying to get their 20th winning streak to tie them with the third-best in NBA history. Meanwhile, the Lakers, at least on paper, made the better roster upgrade with the return of 7-footer Andrew Bynum, who was injured during last year's playoffs, while the Celtics lost James Posey and veterans P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell and haven't made yet any significant additions to their lineup.

Many believed that the Lakers' recent slide--their 2-2 performance, in their 4 game road trip--is a telling sign that they are not yet ready for a showdown with the Celtics. I don't buy that! Phil Jackson's insistence of keeping both his 7-footers in the starting lineup, even though it's not their best performing unit, is obviously in preparation for this matchup (or similar ones like with the Cleveland Cavaliers). Jackson is not the winningest coach is NBA for nothing.

Judging from their games last season's Finals and both teams' recent development, I'm convinced that the Lakers now have the right pieces to win over the Celtics, not just in this game but their eventual match up in this season's Finals (assuming the Celtics would win over the Cavaliers).

Taking out Game 6 of the Finals, in which the Lakers players and coaching staff obviously gave up, the series was evenly matched up with both teams winning their home games except for Game 4. That game showed that the Lakers could dominate the Celtics using their superior offensive game and their swarming defense. Although the Celtics won the game 97-91, the Lakers was dominant in the first half of that game. They scored 35 points and limited the Celtics to 14 points in the first quarter. Lamar Odom, who seemed to be unstoppable during that quarter, made all his field goal attempts and scored 13 points with 5 rebounds. The teams dominance continued in the second quarter when they increased their lead to 24 points on a 3-point shot of Vujacic midway through the quarter. Unfortunately, they stopped playing their game after that.

The Celtics bounced back in the second half scoring 31 points in the third quarter while limiting the Lakers to 15 points. Odom disappeared during that quarter scoring only 2 points on free throws. He added only 6 points, 2 in each quarter, to his first quarter numbers to score 19 points with 10 rebounds in the game. Bryant, who was forced to miss a lot of jump shots to make up for his team's missing offensive game in the second half, scored only 17 points but had 10 assists and 4 steals. Gasol also had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Fisher and Radmanovic added 13 and 10 points for the starters, respectively.

The Celtics superiority in defense showed up in that game. But this superiority, I believe, is now negated with the addition of Andrew Bynum and the healthy Trevor Ariza in the Lakers lineup. Plus, their best Kobe stopper in James Posey now is playing for the Hornets.

Let's see how it would go. Please share your thoughts.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lakers defeat Hornets 100-87 in New Orleans

The Los Angeles Lakers used a balanced offense and swarming defense to beat their Western Conference rivals, New Orleans Hornets, 100-87 for the second time this season. Kobe Bryant played 37 minutes and had 26 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Pau Gasol scored 20 points on 8-10 shooting and collected 8 rebounds.

Andrew Bynum and Derek Fisher scored 13 and 11 points respectively. Trevor Ariza contributed 10 points with 2 steals and Lamar Odom had 8 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists off the bench.

Chris Paul played 46 minutes and had 17 points, 10 assists, and 6 steals. Rasual Butler also scored 17 points. David West continues to struggle against the Lakers scoring only 13 points on 5-15 shooting. Morris Peterson added 16 points off the bench.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lakers defeat Memphis, 105-96, on the road

On Pau Gasol's first game against his former team--also the first against his brother Mark, who was part of the trade that sent him to the Lakers--he helped his new team defeat the Grizzlies, 105-96. Kobe Bryant scored 36 points, making 14 of 23 field goal attemps, 3-6 from the 3-point line and keyed a late rally to help the team snap a two-game losing streak. Gasol had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Andrew Bynum scored 13 points in 21 minutes while Derek Fisher, playing more than 40 minutes due to the absence of injured backup point guard, Jordan Farmar, scored 11 points. Lamar Odom added 12 points off the bench.

Rudy Gay topscored for the Grizzlies with 23 points. Rookie O.J. Mayo hit five 3-point field goals in nine tries and scored 22 points while Darko Milicic had 11 points and 8 rebounds. Hakim Warric and Mike Conley contributed 14 and 11 points, respectively, off the bench.



Monday, December 22, 2008

Lakers-Memphis Preview - 22-Dec-08

Lakers (21-5) at Grizzlies (9-17) , 22-Dec-08, FedExForum, Memphis, TN

This is the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Lakers record against Grizzlies last season was 2-1. Their first meeting was on January 8, 2008 at Memphis. The Lakers won 117-101 in a very balanced offense with all their starters scoring in double-figures. Derek Fisher top-scored for the Lakers with 26 points on 10-11 field goal shooting hitting a perfect 5-5 on his 3 point shots. Kobe Bryant played 40 minutes scoring 25 points, 6 assists and 5 steals. Lamar Odom had 10 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists. Andrew Bynum had 10 points and 9 boards and Luke Walton also had 10 points. Jordan Farmar added 13 points off the bench.

The Grizzlies, who never led in the game, were paced by Mike Miller with 19 points. Pau Gasol, who was still playing for Memphis during that game, added 18 points and 12 rebounds. Rudy Gay finished with 15 points.

The Lakers also won their second game with the Grizzlies on January 13, 2008 at home, 100-99 although this game might have caused them the title last season as Andrew Bynum, who was a key factor in the team's ascent to elite status at that stage of the season, sprained his left knee early in the third quarter. He played just 20 minutes and scored 10 points with 9 rebounds. Bryant scored 37 points and had 4 steals with 4 assists. Odom had 10 points and 10 rebounds while Farmar added 10 points off the bench.

Mike Miller scored 27 points and Pau Gasol, still playing for the Grizzlies, had 21 points and season-high totals of 18 rebounds and eight assists for the Grizzlies, who lost for the 10th time in their last 12 games.

The Grizzlies won their third meeting with the Lakers last season, 114-111 at the Staples Center on March 28, 2008. Pau Gasol was already playing for the Lakers, having been traded February 1, but missed the first meeting between the teams since he was traded with a sprained left ankle. Bryant had a spectacular game with 53 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 steals but his effort was "pretty much of a waste" as all his teammates in the starting lineup failed to score in double-figures. Ronny Turiaf, who started playing center in place of injured Pau Gasol, was 3-10 from the field for 6 points, Fisher was 2-7 for 4 points, Radmanovic was 3-8 for 9 points, and Odom was 1-7 for 2 points although he had 11 rebounds.

Vujacic scored 14 points off the bench although he had to take 17 field goal attempts to reach that, missing 10 of his 14 3-point attempts. Farmar was the only other bench players to score in double-figures with 11 points.

Darko Milicic had 22 points and 12 rebounds, Hakim Warrick 16 points, Kyle Lowry 11 and Mike Miller 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who were 6-30 on the road and 2-20 away from home against Western Conference teams. Kwame Brown, who was sent to Memphis as part of the Gasol trade, didn't play for the fifth consecutive game but Javaris Crittenton played 18 minutes and scored 6 points.

The Grizzlies now features a different line up having lost Mike Miller but have one of the top rookies O.J. Mayo and Pau Gasol's younger brother Mark, who was part of the trade that sent the older Gasol to the Lakers. But talent-wise, I believe they are basically the same and the Lakers should have no problem disposing the Grizzlies. Unless Bryant's teammates play as lousy as the've played the last two games or their last game against Memphis. After losing 2 straight games, expect Kobe to play his best game this night. But let's just hope that his teammates, especially Pau and Lamar, play the way they used to last year.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lakers lost to the Magic, 103-106

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered its first 2-game losing streak of the season. After losing to the Miami Heat the night before, the Lakers lost to the surging Orlando Magic 103-106--both losses on the road. Sasha Vujacic, who was 0-5 in the field and scored just 1 point, had a chance to win the game but his 3-point shot attempt bounced out of the basket leaving the Lakers behind 104-103, with three seconds left. Dwight Howard got the rebound and was fouled. He made both free throws for the final margin. Kobe Bryant missed a three-pointer as the clock wound down, sending the Lakers to their second consecutive defeat on this four-game trip.

Bryant had a spectacular night scoring 41 points with 8 rebounds and just 1 turnover in the losing effort. Derek Fisher added 27 points. Pau Gasol, who attempted only 9 field goals, contributed just 11 points. For two nights straight, Andrew Bynum played limited minutes and scored just 3 points, 1 rebound, 2 turnovers, and 5 personal fouls.

Jameer Nelson topscored for the Magic with 27 points. Rashard Lewis scored 22 points. Dwight Howard added 18 points with 12 rebounds.

It should be obvious by now that the Twin Tower Experiment of Phil Jackson is not working. It worked in November because their opponents haven't figured out yet how to score with two 7-footers patrolling the paint. But after their first loss against Detroit, their weakness have been exposed and teams are exploiting that--just move your Bigs outside and have your best slasher drive to the basket. Phil should really consider having Bynum come off the bench and move back Odom to the starting lineup. You may want to read my previous post for what I thought would be the "keys to this game."

Bynum doesn't have the versatility of Odom. Not yet, anyway. Sure he's able to provide some defense against big body post players like Howard but their opposing guards are killing them--in this case, Rashard Lewis--by his inability to provide help defense without committing fouls.

Moreover, Gasol's scoring opportunities are being limited by Bynum's presence. The night after taking only 10 shots in their loss in Miami, Pau attempted one fewer shots today. Was he worried about his shooting percentage or he's just not getting enough touches? Bynum-Gasol teamup is not like the old Twin Tower of the Spurs, Robinson-Duncan. Bynum passing ability is still a work in progress. How many assists he had this game? Let me Oh, how I miss Shaq!

And how about Odom? He seems to be very confused on offense although he's still decent on defense. He made only 1 field goal in 7 attempts with 2 free throws for 4 points. Well, at least he matched Bryant's 8 rebounds and had 3 steals in 36 minutes on the floor. I think his inability to be a factor on offense is not because of his waning talent. He was an All-Star material just last year and he's on his contract year so he should be very serious about being a very effective contributor on his team.

Watching the team play, it's pretty obvious that they are not running a lot of Odom-Gasol sets that was so effective last year. I could still remember how unstoppable they were during the first half of Game 4 Finals against the Celtics. Of course, they lost that game when the "unstoppable Pau and Lamar" disappeared in the second half of the game. That game cost them the Finals, right? But at least they run unbelievable highlight plays for one quarter.

And look at how effective Lamar was in their game against the Knicks--the only time he started the game in place of Gasol who was sick. He elevated his game because he knew he had to. He didn't have Pau Gasol to defer to. He's like a Manu Ginobilli on the Spurs team with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. He's perfect when he's the third best player in his team--one of the three options. You make him the 4th option and he'd be the worst performer on the Lakers team.

So, what should the Lakers do? I hate to keep on repeating myself but I'll do it anyway. Put Odom back to the starting lineup!



Lakers-Magic Preview - 20-Dec-08

Lakers (21-4) at Magic (20-6), 20-Dec-08, 7:00pm ET

This is the first meeting between the Lakers and Orlando Magic this season. Their record last season was 1-1 beating the other team on the road. They first met at Staples Center on December 2, 2007. Magic won 104-97. Kobe Bryant had 28 points on 10-26 shooting, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. Lamar Odom had 19 points and 17 rebounds. Andrew Bynum had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 7 block shots. Pau Gasol was still playing for Memphis during that time.

Rashard Lewis led five Magic players in double-figures with 18 points. Dwight Howard had 17 points and 8 boards. Hedo Turkoglu scored 14 points and collected 10 rebounds.

Their second meeting was on February 8, 2008 in Orlando. Lakers won 117-113. Bryant scored 36 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. Gasol, on his third game on a Laker uniform, torched the Magic with 30 points on 12-15 field goal shooting and 9 rebounds. Odom went 5-5 from the field, 2-2 on the 3pt line, for 12 points with 6 boards. Bynum was on the injured list during that time.

Howard was 8-8 from the field for 19 points and collected 11 rebounds but played for only 29 minutes due to foul troubles. Their starting point guard, Jameer Nelson had 17 points and 9 assists. Lewis and Turkoglu added 16 points each.

Orlando has an 8-2 record the last 10 games. They lost to Boston and Phoenix and beat the Clippers, Portland, Utah and Golden State on the road. They beat Minnesota, Oklahoma City, and in their last game, San Antonio at home.

Keys to the game:

  • With his teammates struggling, Kobe Bryant should continue to be more aggressive.
  • Pau Gasol should be more assertive in his offense. In their loss to Miami last night, he took only 10 shots and made 5 scoring just 13 points. He is a better offensive player than Dwight Howard and he should take advantage of that.
  • Lamar Odom should play the way he was playing last year. He looks very confused in his role which maybe attributed to him coming off the bench.
  • Andrew Bynum should avoid getting into early foul troubles. His contributions would be critical in a close game providing defense on Dwight Howard.
  • Phil Jackson should consider having Andrew Bynum come off the bench to avoid getting him in early foul troubles. Odom should start with Kobe and Gasol at center--their lethal combination last year. Odom can't lead their second unit. He should put Kobe to provide leadership to their bench mob as he seems to be the only player in this team that Sasha Vujacic listens to.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Lakers lost to the Heat was a coaching mistake

How can the Lakers with two 7-footers and a 6'8" forward in its starting frontcourt lose to a Miami Heat team featuring a 6'9" center and forwards barely reaching 6'8" in height in its starting lineup? The Lakers bigs should have dominated their undersized counterparts and scored 100 points, right? Wrong! Here's what happened:

  • 7' Andrew Bynum had 4 points and 4 fouls with only 6 rebounds in 27 minutes

  • 7' Pau Gasol only took 10 shots and made 5 with 3-6 free throws for 13 points (although he had 11 rebounds)

  • 6'8" Luke Walton was a non-factor with 2 points on 1-4 shooting

  • 6'10" Lamar Odom took 6 shots and made 1 and 1-4 free throws for 3 points with 4 rebounds

  • 6'8" Trevor Ariza had 7 points on 3-5 shooting

Their total score? Twenty-nine! Just 1 more than Kobe Bryant's 28 points but less than the 30 points their 'undersized' counterparts in the Miami heat roster scored.
  • 6'7" Marion had 12 points and matched the 7' Gasol's total boards at 11

  • 6'9" Anthony had 8 rebounds 3 steals and 2 blocked shots

  • 6'8" Haslem also had 3 steals and 2 blocks

  • 6'10" Beasly and 6'11" Magloire had limited minutes but still scored 6 and 2 points respectively

The result: Miami 89, LA Lakers 87. And everybody blames Kobe for not hitting the game-tying shot and their team's lack of defense. It's not their defense folks! It's their offense! They were able to limit their opponent to 89 points but at the same time, they we're held to 87 points--season lowest for the team that just 2 weeks ago, was being regarded as the offensive juggernaut in the NBA.

How can Phil Jackson let this happen? They lost on a night Kobe Bryant is having a fairly solid game and wasn't struggling on his shots. He made 12-24 shots and scored his usual 28 points (although he had 5 turnovers). I really believe it's about time that Phil revamp his starting lineup. He should put Odom back to their starting unit and have Bynum come off the bench.

Here are some additional arguments for my recommended starting unit of Fisher-Bryant-Ariza-Odom-Gasol:
  • Bynum takes away scoring opportunities for Gasol early in the game. He only took 10 shots in a game where his defender is much smaller. He should have been the leading scorer in this game if he was given more opportunities

  • Bynum is slower than Odom in providing help defense. Notice how Dwyane Wade keeps on attacking the basket and Bynum can't cover him when he get past his primary defender

  • Odom plays well when he starts the game as evident in the Lakers game against the Knicks just 2 days ago. And he plays a lot better with Gasol as his frontcourt partner (see his performance last year)

I really hope that Jackson considers this line up.


Odom should return to the starting lineup

Lamar Odom's good game as a starter in the Lakers' last game against the New York Knicks should convince Phil Jackson to go back to their starting lineup last year with Odom on power forward slot, and Pau Gasol moving back to the center spot while Bynum comes off the bench. I think their strongest lineup is the Fisher-Bryant-Ariza-Odom-Gasol combination, and Coach Phil knows this--he keeps them at the end of close games.

According to, this unit is their most productive combination that produced 1.21 points per possession and only allowed 0.95 opponent points per possession. Also, this starting lineup would maximize the effectiveness of Bynum on defense by keeping him out of early foul troubles and spread the floor on offense to allow Bryant to play his best game--attacking the rim and take higher percentage shots or get fouled and take free-throws--instead of taking too many long outside shots early in the game. It's hard to attack the lane if you have a 7-footer teammate in the low-block (Bynum) and another fellow 7-footer in the high-post (Gasol).

But I think Jackson is sticking with his current starting lineup because he's preparing the team for Boston Celtics. It's obvious that their strongest unit lacks the defensive force for the Celts, as they experienced in last year's finals. They need Bynum to matchup with the Perkins of Boston pound-for-pound and protect the paint, which Lamar or Pau couldn't do in last year finals.

But Phil might be overdoing it. By sticking with their current lineup, they may be sacrificing their overall effectiveness that made them the favorites to win the championship early in the season. Their current starting unit with Bynum and Walton in the lineup only makes 1.09 points while surrendering 1.00 opponent points per possession. Their previous starting lineup with Radmanovic and Bynum had a 1.11/1.05 record.

I believe the key to the continued development of the team is by doing what the other top two teams in the league, the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, are doing--try to dominate the opposition in every game by letting your best players play their best games. See how the Cavaliers are dominating their opponents by letting Lebron James play his dominating attack-the-basket and play-above-the-rim game and still make the team better?

At this point, all players in the Lakers team have regressed from their last year's performance. Only Trevor Ariza has better stats. And that's mainly because he wasn't playing much last year. Everyone wonders why Kobe Bryant usually struggles with his shots early in the game. Isn't he taking too many low-percentage jump shots? Is there something wrong with him? As Phil Jackson correctly pointed out, "there's nothing wrong with him." There's something wrong with his team--specially with their starting lineup.

Kobe was very effective last year playing with two quick front court players in Pau and Lamar and two spot-up wing players, Derek and Vlad, who can make 3-point shots. He can drive and drop to the post or kick out to the wing for long bombers. Gasol and Odom also are effective feeding each other alternating in the high and low post. That unit was very effective it earned Bryant his first MVP trophy! Unbeatable, the basketball analysts used to say.

Why would you change a very effective, high-octane, running-on-all-cylinders, like-a-Ferrari-sports-car unit that cruised through the insanely competitive western conference playoffs just last year? Not even the other most dominant team of this decade, the San Antonio Spurs, were able to figure out how to put the brakes on them. Because the Celtics locomotive run over the Lakers 12-cylinder engine and beat them in six games in the Finals?

Well, the Lakers are not playing them until December 25, right? And they'd only be racing with that massive steam-engine train called the Celtics for only one more time next year. In the meantime, please give us back the Lakers that the fans love and opponents feared so much. Just twink it a little by replacing a slower Radmanovic with the faster and more defensive-minded Ariza. Give Andrew his minutes. He's too good to warm the bench and his contributions will be critical against teams like the Celts and Cavs. But allow our team to start full-throttle by putting our best players to start the vaunted Lakers Engine and try to dominate the competition early in the game.

If you do that, Coach Phil, the Lakers sports car will jump over the Celtics train in June.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lakers is the winningest team in the NBA

The Los Angeles Lakers has the best winning percentage record in the NBA. Since 1949 the Lakers have won 2,926 games in 4,753 games for league-best 61.6%. The number two team, Boston Celtics, that joined the league two years earlier, had 2,883 wins against 1,981 losses (59.3%) while the third-best, San Antonio Spurs, had 1,942 wins in 3,359 games (57.8%).

Although the Celtics has won more championships with 17 titles, against 14 championships for the Lakers, the Lakers franchise has more Conference and Division titles. The team had 16 conference and 30 division titles while Boston had only 8 and 26 respectively. The Celtics' better championship record is mainly due to their dominance in the 60's. Bill Russel, who was peerless during that period, led them to 8 straight championships from 1958 to 1966. Russel also led them to 2 championships in 3 seasons from 1966 to 1969 as a coach.

The Lakers have played in the playoffs for 55 seasons compared to 46 playoffs for the Celtics. The former had only missed the playoffs in 1958, 1975-76, 1994, and 2005, the year they traded Shaq to Miami.

Click here for the complete statistics.


Marbury attended Knicks game against the Lakers

By MARC BERMAN - New York Post

After a training session yesterday morning in the Hollywood Hills, banned Stephon Marbury Stephon Marbury shocked the Knicks New York Knicks by attending their game last night vs. the Lakers at Staples Center as a fan. Marbury sat in a corner baseline, front-row seat by the Lakers girls. Marbury hasn't been under the same roof as the Knicks since Thanksgiving Eve when he was suspended, then banned.



Jackson passed Auerbach on most games coached

Lakers Team Report - Fox Sports

Phil Jackson didn't have a legendary playing career, but his coaching career continues to make quite a mark on the NBA.

With the Lakers' victory Tuesday night over the New York Knicks -- whom Jackson represented for almost his entire playing career -- Jackson passed Red Auerbach on the list of all-time games coached in the NBA. Jackson now is 12th in league history, and he's the only coach in NBA history to win more than 70 percent of his games (997-421). On March 25, 2007, Jackson coached career game 1,300 to pass his mentor, longtime Knicks coach Red Holzman.



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lakers beat Knicks, 116-114, despite Gasol's absence

Kobe Bryant scored 28 points to lead the Lakers to victory against the New York Knicks at the Staples Center, 116-114. The Lakers played without its second leading scorer, Pau Gasol because of strep throat.

Lamar Odom, who started for Gasol, scored 17 points with 12 rebounds. Andrew Bynum also had a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards. Derek Fisher added 15 points and 7 assists. Luke Walton and Trevor Ariza completes the 6 players in double-figures at 14 and 13 points respectively.



Monday, December 15, 2008

Mismatches turn in Lakers' favor

By Jerry Zgoda, Star Tribune

Kevin McHale's draft-night swap of O.J. Mayo for Kevin Love in an eight-player deal was predicated on the notion that skilled 7-footers are few and far between in the NBA these days.

The Los Angeles Lakers, and Sunday night, are exceptions.

The Lakers present two of those aberrations -- Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol -- in their starting lineup and thus, the Lakers' 98-86 victory at Staples Center featured the kind of mismatches McHale once dismissed and now bases his coaching philosophies around.



Lakers just good enough to win again

By Elliott Teaford, LA Daily News

Maybe this is as good as it gets right now. Maybe this is the best the Lakers can do. Maybe winning ugly games against bad teams is their method of operation.

That certainly seemed to be the case again Sunday night, when the Lakers rumbled, bumbled and stumbled their way past the Minnesota Timberwolves, 98-86, in front of a sellout crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center.



Lakers beat Timberwolves, 98-86

By Mike Bresnahan, LA Times

Lakers deliver another subpar effort, waiting until the fourth quarter to put away the 4-19 Timberwolves in a 98-86 victory that improves L.A.'s record to 20-3.

The Lakers finally revisited the concept of holding a team under 100, but there was a glaring omission of something equally important -- an offense.

The Lakers sputtered and coughed their way to a 98-86 victory Sunday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center.



Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lakers beats Kings, 112-103

By KEN PETERS, AP Sports Writer, December 13, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Lakers didn’t look like world beaters, but were good enough to beat the Kings this time.

Avenging their loss at Sacramento three days earlier, Los Angeles survived a late charge to hold off the Kings 112-103 on Friday night.

“We did better playing against them tonight,” said Kobe Bryant, who led the Lakers with 32 points. “In Sacramento we weren’t able to contain them in any stretch.

“They made a couple of big 3s down the stretch on a couple of blown assignments. But still in all, we did OK.”



Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gasol leads Lakers to 115-110 win over Suns

By JOHN NADEL, AP Sports Writer - December 11, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Los Angeles Lakers battled like crazy to put the short-handed Phoenix Suns away.

That’s precisely what Kobe Bryant expected they would have to do.

Pau Gasol scored 28 points, Bryant had seven of his 18 in the last 6 1/2 minutes, and the Western Conference-leading Lakers struggled to a 115-110 victory Wednesday night.

Andrew Bynum added 17 points and 11 rebounds, Sasha Vujacic scored a season-high 15 points and Derek Fisher had 13 for the Lakers (18-3), who were coming off a lethargic 113-101 loss at Sacramento on Tuesday night and didn’t clinch this victory until the final minute.



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kings stunned the Lakers 113-101 for its third loss in the season

December 10, 2008 at the Arco Arena, Sacramento, CA.

Francisco Garcia and John Salmons scored 21 points apiece, and Sacramento snapped an eight-game losing streak with a surprising 113-101 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Kobe Bryant scored 28 points while Pau Gasol played 43 minutes and had 25 points with 12 rebounds in the losing effort, only their third this season. But they are the only starters in double figures. Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum and Vladimir Radmanovic shot a combined 9-for-22 from the field. Lamar Odom contributed 11 points and 8 rebounds off the bench.



Monday, December 8, 2008

Lakers improve to 17-2 with 105-92 win over Bucks

LOS ANGELES (AP)—A stubborn defense by the Los Angeles Lakers compensated for a disjointed offense that committed 25 turnovers. The cold-shooting Milwaukee Bucks weren’t able to capitalize much at the other end, though.

Kobe Bryant had 20 points and a season-high eight assists, Derek Fisher added 19 points, and the Lakers coasted to a 105-92 victory on Sunday that improved their record to 17-2 and equaled the best 19-game start in the franchise’s 61-year history.



Friday, December 5, 2008

Lakers edge struggling Wizards 106-104

By HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Sports Writer - December 5, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP)—Kobe Bryant’s first field-goal attempt, officially, came about 5 minutes into Friday night’s game.

Finding his path blocked on a drive into the lane, Bryant “shot” the ball off the glass right back to himself, then threw a perfect pass to Pau Gasol for a wide-open jumper. Bryant drew louder “oohs” and “aahs” later with a double-pump, two-handed reverse jam off a behind-the-back feed from Trevor Ariza.

Bryant entertained enough to draw “M-V-P!” chants again on the road, but he and his teammates on the best-in-the-West Lakers also nearly found a way to blow a 20-point lead against the worst-in-the-East Wizards before pulling out a 106-104 victory.



Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lakers beat 76ers in Philadelphia

By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer - December 3, 2008

PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Kobe Bryant heard some different sounds from the hometown crowd during his usual mix of rally-killing 3-pointers and straight-to-YouTube baskets.

Long reviled in Philadelphia, Bryant heard some cheers, even some “MVP!” chants this time around.

Winning a game and winning over fans made it a good night for Bryant.

Bryant tormented his hometown team again, scoring 32 points to help the Los Angeles Lakers rebound from a last-second loss with a 114-102 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pacers handed the Lakers its second loss

By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer - December 2, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Troy Murphy and Danny Granger spent most of Tuesday night working to keep the Pacers close to the Lakers. They spent those final few seconds like everyone else in Conseco Fieldhouse — watching, waiting and wondering if Murphy’s tantalizing tip would actually drop through the net. It did—just as the buzzer sounded.

Murphy’s game-winner completed an improbable comeback and gave the Pacers a desperately needed 118-117 victory after replay reviews confirmed the basket was good.

Kobe Bryant finished with 28 points, becoming the second-fastest player in league history to reach 22,000 career points, behind Wilt Chamberlain. Pau Gasol scored 20 points and 9 rebounds while Andrew Bynum had 17 and 9.



Monday, December 1, 2008

Gasol, Kobe help Lakers beat Raptors

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Kobe Bryant spent the fourth quarter on the Los Angeles Lakers’ bench, content in watching the second unit blow the game open. The last thing on his mind was Wilt Chamberlain.

This kind of trend—and attitude—has the defending Western Conference champions off to an NBA-best 14-1 record.

Pau Gasol had 24 points and nine rebounds, Bryant had 23 points and a season-high seven assists, and the Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 112-99 on Sunday night for their seventh straight victory.



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