My apologies for not getting this to you guys earlier in the week, I've had some Internet issues here at work and been busy at home painting the new pad!
The Lakers should have known this was going to be a trap game considering their inconsistencies on defense and how the Kings played the Lakers the first time around. Coming into the matchup the Kings were losers of 8 in a row but with Lakers in town and a struggling team hungry for a win had upset written all over it. The Kings again without Kevin Martin jumped on the Lakers early in the first building a double digit lead only to see the Lakers come back and take a small lead midway in the second quarter. They lead by 5 at the half and after 3 quarters had a 7 point lead going into the dreaded 4th quarter which has been a boil in the butt for the Lakers. On que the Lakers played a horrific 4th as the Kings couldnt miss as the Kings build a 110-92 lead. Francisco Garcia and John Salmons lead the way with 21, all 5 starters for the Kings were in double figures and Bobby Jackson off the bench who seemingly always has a career game against the Lakers contributed 15. The Kings completed the upset snapping their skid en route to a 113-101 victory. Kobe had 28, Gasol with 25 and Lamar off the bench put in 11 but not much else from the others.
There was a projected 5,000 Lakers fans in the sold out crowd at Arco, a far cry from the golden days of the Kings, even Kobe noticed, "I just couldn’t get in a rhythm,” said Bryant, who scored 28 points. “I probably missed the cowbells, just the cowbells and the food poisoning. … The place has changed a lot. Even last year, we came in and there were a lot of Lakers fans.”
Lamar on playing Westchester High, err the Kings, "You've got to respect your opponent to win games consistently, We came in here thinking we were going to win. We've got to come out with a lot of energy and play the right way the whole game. If we don't, then we could lose to Westchester High School."...Note: Trevor Ariza was not ammused by this comment, he went to Westchester High.
John Salmons on the victory, “It’s probably our biggest win of the season, especially at home, since we’ve been struggling,” Salmons said. “Hopefully we can grow from this. This was one of those games that could turn your whole season around. We could look back at tonight’s game a year from now and say, ‘The Lakers game was the turning point of this season.”....Apparantly not, the Kings recently fired head coach Reggie Theus a week after.
Suns at Lakers
The Lakers returned home to finish off their back to back with a familiar face. The Phoenix Suns were in town but the long anticipated return of Shaquile O'Neal to Staples in a Suns jersey was put on hold as he had to travel back home to attend the funeral of his grandmother. The Suns would also be short-handed without the services of Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Sean Singletary as they were traded prior to the game. Phil tweaked the Lakers lineup a bit and replaced Vlad Rad with seldomly used Luke Walton to spark things up a bit. The short-handed Suns gave the Lakers all they could handle as they took a 76-74 lead in the 3rd after a 19-6 run and kept it relatively close until Kobe and company were able to distance themselves in the 4th. Kobe who primarly defended Steve Nash held him to just 7 points on 2-12 shooting. Matt Barnes had a season high with 25 points, Grant Hill had 23 and Amarie Stoudamire had 21 pts and 11 boards but was inneffective down the stretch. For the Lakers, Pau Gasol outplayed STAT with 28 points on 11-14 shooting, Andrew Bynum put in 17 pts and 11 boards, Kobe had 18 points and Sasha Vujacic finally came out of his slumber with 15 pts on 3-4 shooting from beyond the arc. The Lakers won the game 115-110.
Phil addressing the media about the Lakers struggles, "Maybe I'll put it on tape and just run it right here on the podium so you guys don't have to ask me questions anymore,"
Kobe on the short handed Suns, “That’s what always happens when a team has eight players, nine players,” Bryant said. “They always come out with a lot of energy. We did a good job down the stretch"
Vlad Rad on getting benched, "I'm not really happy with it, but obviously that's coach's decision," he said of the demotion. "I'm happy for Luke. I'm friends with Luke, so as much as it's hard for me, on the other hand, I'm really happy he's going to get a chance to play and hopefully he'll play better than I did."...Luke Walton had 8 points, 6 assists and 2 steals.
Kings at Lakers
The Lakers came into this contest to avenge their previous loss to the Kings. The Lakers came out ready for the Kings as they quickly built a big lead but saw that dissapear by halftime. The 3rd quarter saw the Lakers defense hold the Kings to only 20 points and the Lakers ahead by 12. The 4th quarter as it has been a trend was about lapses in defense which has plagued the Lakers of late. The Lakers saw their 92-77 lead dissapear in a hurry as the Kings got it to within 3 points but timely baskets by Derek Fisher and an emphatice dunk by Kobe put the Lakers up for good. John Salmons did his best to keep the Kings in the game with 26 points, Beno Udrich had 17 and Francisco Garcia had 13 points. For the Lakers Kobe lead the way with one of his better shooting nights with 32 and Pau Gasol had 18 pts and 11 rebounds.
In the closing seconds of the game, the Kings were held to 99 points and with the entire Staple crowd chanting "We Want Tacos", Spencer Hawes drained a 3 ball to kill any hopes of the fans getting their tacos...Hawes has moved up to public enemy # 1 amongst Lakers fans.
John Salmons on Kobe and the rematch, “The whole world knew that he was going to come out ready for this game,” Salmons said. “So it is what it is—he is Kobe.”
Phil on giving up too many points in the 4th, "The thing that bothers us is the 30-point fourth quarters," Jackson said after the Lakers gave up 31. "Now you know the teams. Now you know what they do. Now's the time to squeeze it down to 18, 20 points a quarter in the fourth quarter and slow that down. We're not doing that well."...Come on Phil, if it wasnt for Hawes dagger 3 we would have only allowed 28 points!
T-Wolves at Lakers
Nothing like playing the 2nd worst team in the league to get things back on track for the Lakers. The T-Wolves came into the contest sporting a new head coach. Kevin McHale who was the GM for the Wolves relieved Randy Wittman of his coaching duties and took it upon himself to direct the mess he created via the Kevin Garnett trade last year. The Lakers didnt play a stellar game but played solid defense in the first half of the game allowing only 37 points. The Wolves were no match for the Lakers as the Lakers were in cruise control throughout the entire game. If this game breakdown sounds boring, its because the game was just as boring. None the less, the Lakers did improve their defensive play with a 98-86 victory. Kobe had 26, Pau Gasol had 18 and Andrew Bynum had 14 and both Gasol and Bynum blocked 3 shots each. Al Jefferson who is the biggest bright spot for Minnesota lead them with 20 points, Graig Smith had 18 and Rashard McCants had 12 off the bench. Former Bruin Kevin Love grabbed 10 boards but had a kwamish night scoring with only 2 points on 1-5 shooting.
Phil called the win over Minny "logy"
logy - lacking physical or mental energy or vitality; sluggish; dull; lethargic.
Lamar Odom on finally holding a lead, "This is the time that Pau and Kobe should be putting their ice on [their knees]," he said. "We can't hold a lead. These guys have to come back in the game and can't get a rest. That's awful."
Phil on possibly playing down to their competition, Could be," Jackson said. "It's a challenge. We'll see if these guys meet the challenge, if we can get them ready for those games. Right now it doesn't seem like our quickness or our execution or our speed is there that I like."
"Sometimes it looks more like an obtuse triangle," Winter said. As if the Lakers didnt have enough problems defensively, now the offense has become simply offensive. Tex eludes to the ball staying at one spot and not enough movement without the ball, "The ball stops, often times when the ball is in Kobe's hand," Winter said about Kobe Bryant. "That's fine, as long as it's an isolation situation that he can take advantage of. But the other players have to play without that basketball and stay spaced and make themselves available." The biggest benficiary of the Triangle has been Pau Gasol according to Tex, "Pau is a smart basketball player," Winter said. "He has a good basketball IQ. He knows how to get himself open in the spots and I think the offense is really good for him. Now I think the thing we need to have is have [ Andrew] Bynum get back to playing like he did last year. And he will. He'll come around. That's the encouraging thing about it. The discouraging thing is we'd like to have it happen sooner than later.
Looking ahead to the Celtics
In between now and Christmas Day, the Lakers will play their toughest stretch of games after the Knicks with a 4 game road trip that which sees the Lakers play 3 times if 4 days. The Celtics will come off a 3 game homestand. Phil wonders if there is any advantage, "We get back at 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock in the morning, and to have practice on the 24th is almost unfair after four games in five days," he said. "Preparing for the game is even difficult for us. Obviously, we have something to draw from last June, but that's . . . six months out." Well no excuses now Phil, both teams are on a collision course this year to reunite in the Finals again and the first shot will send a message.
Lakers moving to 710 AM ESPN
After 30 years on 570 AM KLAC, the Lakers next season will move to 710 AM ESPN Radio. Jeanie Buss said the move was made due in part to the ESPN brand and the move to L.A. Live will be beneficial for Lakers fans as well as the organization. Lakers radio play-by-play announcer Spero Dedes and color commentator Mychal Thompson will also make the move...does this mean this will finally mark the end of the "Loose Cannons", this also means we'll get a bigger dosage of Steve "Hater" Hartman...not liking this move at all! Oh well long live Vic "The Brick" Jacobs!
Week 8 Preview
The Lakers end their homestand as the take on the Mike D'Antoni and the New York Knicks and will head east...well south first for a Florida 2 step on Friday and Saturday, as they get the Heat and the Magic back to back.