Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Starting too see a Kobe without Shaq

For a while, it appeared as though Kobe Bryant wouldn't make it out of the first quarter -- let alone come up with his most productive game of the season.

Bryant scored 48 points in 46 minutes after spraining his left shoulder, and the Los Angeles Lakers recorded a season high in points Tuesday night with a 117-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

``It couldn't have been that bad, because he scored 48,'' teammate Lamar Odom said. ``Kobe doesn't show signs of hurt. He won't let you know. And that's probably a weakness.''

Los Angeles got 18 points and nine rebounds from Caron Butler, who returned from a one-game suspension. Odom had 15 points and 13 rebounds despite early foul trouble.

Bryant's non-shooting shoulder took a beating in the first 5 1/2 minutes. First, he hit the deck after missing a spinning layup and falling over Eric Williams. He staggered off the court wincing again after driving the lane and getting the ball slapped out of his hands by rookie center Rafael Araujo.

Bryant, coming off a 42-point effort against Miami on Saturday, went to the dressing room after the second incident. But only seven seconds ticked off the clock before he reported back in -- the only time Bryant wasn't on the floor until the fourth quarter, when he spent the first two minutes on the bench.

``There were certain things that I could not do with it, but I could still raise my arm up and still move it from side to side,'' said Bryant, who was 14-for-26 from the field and 16-for-18 on free throws. ``Some of the movements I couldn't do -- like tying my shoe -- were not really important.''

The Lakers, primed for an emotional letdown following their 104-102 overtime loss to the Heat in Shaquille O'Neal's celebrity-studded return to Staples Center, beat Toronto for the sixth straight time. They were 13-for-25 from 3-point range after attempting a franchise-record 36 shots from 3-point range against Miami and making 14.

``We've got a confident group of guys when it comes to shooting the ball,'' Odom said. ``We've got guys 6-11 like Brian Cook who can step out and hit 3s. Jumaine Jones can really let it fly, and Kobe can hit shots from anywhere. But it can definitely come back and bite you. ... With the 3-pointer, you either live by it or die by it.''

Donyell Marshall made a 3-pointer and a dunk 21 seconds apart to give Toronto a six-point lead with 8:15 to play. But Bryant fueled a game-ending 32-8 run with 17 points, and the Lakers held the Raptors to just one field goal over the final 6:45.

``We're a team that doesn't give up, no matter what, and we just keep gnawing at you. But we've just got to protect the paint,'' Butler said.

``We'd be so great if we could do that, because then we could get into our running game more often. We've got guys like Lamar, Kobe, Chucky Atkins, and myself who look great on the break. But in order to get into our fast-break offense, we've got to stop people.''

It was the first time in 10 tries this season that the Lakers won a game they trailed after three quarters, and dropped the Raptors to 0-15 when they give up at least 100 points.

``We've got to play hard from beginning to end,'' Marshall said. ``We can't start off well and then try to come back. We have to play a good solid 48 minutes.''

The Lakers improved to 15-12 and finished their December schedule 6-6. It's their first month without a winning record since last January, when O'Neal missed 12 games with a strained right calf and they were 6-9.

Rafer Alston had 13 points and 11 assists for the Raptors, who had seven players in double digits while losing for the 11th time in 14 games and the ninth straight time on the road. Williams, making his third start since Jalen Rose was dropped from the starting lineup last Wednesday, had 12 points.

Toronto is 2-4 since trading Vince Carter to New Jersey for Williams, Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams and two first-round draft picks on Dec. 17. Mourning has yet to play for the Raptors because of injuries that landed him on the injured list Monday.

Araujo, who replaced Mourning on the active roster, had eight points in 19 minutes after missing five games with a lower back strain.

Although Kobe had a slow start, he really got things going in the 2nd quarter. He is really starting to show his leadership position that was given more of a load without Shaq. Lets hope the shoulder injury doesn't hold him back too much.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Lakers Outlastted by Heat

from NBA.com
Shaquille O'Neal received the loudest ovation before the game. Kobe Bryant came up short in his bid to earn the final cheers.

Bryant scored a season-high 42 points but missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime as the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Miami Heat, 104-102, in a highly anticipated reunion with former teammate O'Neal.

It was Miami's 11th straight victory, tying a franchise record set from January 27-February 20, 1997.

O'Neal, who was greeted with a standing ovation during pregame introductions, collected 24 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in his first game against the Lakers -- whom he helped lead to three NBA titles and last season's Finals -- since being traded in the offseason.

Before the game, O'Neal and Bryant had a cold greeting at mid-court. O'Neal patted Bryant on the back and both players acknowledged each other with a nod.

O'Neal, who lobbied for a trade after he felt Bryant forced coach Phil Jackson's departure after losing to the Detroit Pistons in the Finals, said in the buildup to the game that he was "a brick wall" and Bryant "a Corvette," and that everybody knows what happens when a Corvette collides with a brick wall.

During the game, Bryant made a handful of drives to the basket but never was the recipient of an especially hard foul by O'Neal.

"I know there is a lot to talk about, the brick wall and all of that," Bryant said. "But I think that was just to hype the game. Ultimately (Shaq) is just going to come out here and play good basketball and that is what he did. The fans were treated to a good ballgame."

"I wanted to come in and get my team a win," O'Neal said. "I wasn't worried about doing anything crazy or out of my team's character. I would rather get a win every time."

With O'Neal having fouled out late in the fourth quarter, Dwyane Wade took over down the stretch for the Heat, scoring four of his 29 points in overtime, including a leaner in the paint with 2:08 left that opened a 104-99 cushion.

"We played just like every game when we had Shaq," Wade said. "And that's what this team does. We've all got each other's back. I just tried to be aggressive and make good passes and just try to make plays."

Los Angeles pulled within 104-102 on a 3-pointer by Lamar Odom, who contributed 24 points and 11 rebounds, with 1:11 to play in the extra session, but did not score again.

With 27 seconds to play, Lakers guard Chucky Atkins was called for charging, but Miami did not get a shot off before the 24-second clock expired, giving Los Angeles the ball back with 3.4 seconds to play.

The ball was worked to Bryant, who got a clean look at a 3-pointer from near the left hash mark but only could hit the front of the rim.

"I had a pretty good look," Bryant said of the final shot. "I did not get the balance that I would have liked to on the shot and as a consequence the shot went left."

The Lakers had trouble scoring in the fourth quarter, too, failing to make a basket after a banked jumper by Bryant gave them an 86-82 edge with 5:42 remaining.

"We dug in defensively and got some stops," Wade said. "We constantly talked about making them take tough shots because they were shooting the ball unbelievable in the first quarter. At the end we had to make them take tough shots, and I think we did a good job of that."

O'Neal fouled out with 2:15 left in regulation after bumping Bryant on a drive down the lane. Bryant sank the pair of free throws to give the Lakers a 93-91 lead but did not score thereafter.

"Shaq said to me to just go ahead and get this one for me," Wade said of O'Neal's departure. "And I said, 'I got you.'"

The game was tied, 94-94, when Wade missed a jumper with 23 seconds left. Heat forward Christian Laettner tapped the rebound back to his teammates, but Wade front-rimmed a jumper just before the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

Despite the loss, the Lakers set a franchise record with 14 3-pointers, attempting 36.

"It was disappointing but it is a good learning experience for us," Bryant said. "We have been in so many of these games, about three or four of them against the top teams in the league, but have not been able to close them down. The more the season goes on, in January and February, you are going to see us winning these games. We are close."

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Lewis scores 37 as Seattle improves to 18-4

from ESPN.com
This was supposed to be a battle between Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant, meeting on the court for the first time since trading preseason barbs in the press.

Nobody told Rashard Lewis he wasn't invited to the show.

Lewis scored a season-high 37 points and had seven rebounds as the Seattle SuperSonics improved to 18-4 with a 108-93 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

Lewis made 13 of 22 shots, including seven 3-pointers.

"We know what kind of threat Rashard is. He is extremely versatile," Bryant said. "He just hurt us tonight from all over the court."

When guarded by a smaller player, Lewis went inside and used his height advantage. When a bigger player tried to slow down Seattle's small forward, Lewis stepped out and drained 3-pointers.

"Too much focus was on Ray Allen tonight and I got a lot of open shots and I took advantage," Lewis said. "Even though it was Ray and Kobe ... I felt like Kobe was talking to us as a team. We're a team and we're going to back each other up."

It's Seattle's best start since beginning the 1993-94 season 20-2 on the way to 63 wins. The SuperSonics have the second-best record in the NBA and will host league-leading Phoenix on Friday night.

Bryant led the Lakers with 35 points and Allen scored 26 points for Seattle, in a matchup anticipated since the preseason.

On Oct. 13, the day after the Lakers and SuperSonics met to open the preseason, Allen questioned Bryant's ability to lead the Lakers, wondering if the superstar's attitude would allow him to take a backseat some nights and let his teammates develop their games.

Bryant responded, telling a reporter not to put Allen's name in the same breath with his. During a later preseason game which Allen sat out, Bryant told Allen he would see him again.

Before Tuesday's game, Bryant said he took Allen's words as an attack on his team and he hoped they would respond.

Bryant's supporting cast did little to back him up.

Caron Butler added 16 points for Los Angeles, but aside from Bryant's 12-for-23 shooting performance, the Lakers made just 20-of-58 shots.

"We ran into a team that has been playing great basketball," Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "They shot the ball so well. We tried three different methods of trying to play them and they had answers for everything."

Lewis scored 17 points in the first quarter and had 22 in the first half as Seattle built a 10-point lead at the break.

Seattle was also unselfish with the ball, with 28 assists on 42 field goals. Luke Ridnour tied a season-high with 11 assists.

"Rashard was the guy at the other end of the floor for us that kept us in the game and allowed us to take control," Allen said. "I don't know if teams have respected him yet to where they have to take him out of the offense."

Seattle took control in the second quarter as the Lakers struggled to make a shot. The SuperSonics went on a 17-5 run, highlighted by fast break dunks from Lewis and Jerome James, to take a 51-33 lead.

Los Angeles missed 13 of 14 shots during the nearly seven-minute span as they struggled against a zone defense by Seattle. The Lakers' only points were a long jumper from Bryant and free throws from Bryant and Chris Mihm.

The Lakers got no closer than eight in the second half.

"I thought our zone did a good job of getting them out of their comfort zone and forcing them to play against a defense that you don't see a lot of in the NBA," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. "I thought that slowed them down just enough for us to get some stops and create some offense for ourselves."

Los Angeles fell to 8-9 on the season when Bryant leads the Lakers in scoring.

Monday, November 29, 2004

A come back

After a 5-5 start, it looks like we are ready to turn it around. We have 3-1 in the last 4 games and our one loss was hard fought to the end...
From sports.yahoo.com:

The Lakers are 0-6 in games when they give up 100 or more points and 7-0 when they hold the opposition under 100.

``Our nemesis is the 100-point mark,'' Bryant said. ``One of these days we're going to win a game when the other team scores over 100.

Lets hope thats one streak we won't have to deal with again but if it does happen, lets end it. Although they made a run at the end, we played great otherwise. Kobe seems to be adjusting to the game without Shaq. In some ways the trade has improved out team, but lets hope we can keep up the wins with Kobe leading the way. GO Lakers!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Home=good, away is another story.

From sports.yahoo.com:
The Lakers still rule Los Angeles -- at least for now.

Kobe Bryant had 23 points, six rebounds and a season-high 11 assists, Chucky Atkins scored 12 of his 17 points in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, and the Lakers beat the Los Angeles Clippers 103-89 Wednesday night.

With Shaquille O'Neal gone and Bryant surrounded by a whole new team, the crosstown rivalry appears a lot more even than in past years. But the Lakers remained on top in the first meeting this season.

``For me, it's old hat,'' Bryant said.

The Lakers are 18-3 against the Clippers at Staples Center since the arena opened five years ago, and have a 27-3 record in the last 30 games between the teams.

The Lakers took command by outscoring the Clippers 24-7 for a 95-78 lead with 5:43 left. Bryant highlighted the run with a soaring dunk after an alley-oop pass from Atkins with 6:50 to play, bringing the Staples Center fans to their feet.


Corey Maggette scored seven points in a row for the Clippers to make it interesting, but Bryant got the next four to make it 99-85.

Chris Mihm scored 15 points, Caron Butler added 14, Brian Cook had 12, and Lamar Odom 11 for the Lakers (5-4).

``We knew they wanted to come out and get us,'' said Cook, a second-year player who mostly sat on the bench as a rookie. ``We've got a big target on our back. We came out and showed them what's up.''

There are nine newcomers on the Lakers' roster this season. Cook is one of six returnees.

``With everybody we had last year, there was only one ball to go around,'' Cook said. ``Everybody had their egos. Everybody gets along this year. We know that we have to work every day to get better.''

Asked about Bryant, Cook said: ``I think he's more involved with the players, talking to them, even hanging out with them a little bit. You can tell he wants to be the leader of this team.''

Maggette finished with 24 points. Bobby Simmons had 23 points and eight rebounds, Elton Brand added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Chris Wilcox had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers (5-4).

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AP - Nov 18, 1:07 am EST
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``We weren't as sharp tonight defensively,'' Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. ``We let Mihm catch the ball way too deep a lot of times. We had some miscues on our coverages on some of the pick-and-roll stuff and let their guys get to our rim, which we hadn't been doing. There's no excuses for it. We just didn't play well.''

Bryant didn't appear bothered by a sore left foot diagnosed last week as plantar fasciitis. He sat out practice Monday and Tuesday, but wound up playing 45 minutes, including all 24 in the second half.

``Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn't. It's pretty sore right now,'' he acknowledged afterward.

Simmons scored 12 points in the first eight minutes of the third quarter, making six shots without a miss, to spark a 20-12 run that put the Clippers up 66-65.

The Lakers went ahead for good by scoring nine straight points to finish the third period and start the fourth for an 80-71 lead.

``We felt we could win this game and we let it get away,'' Maggette said. ``If you look at the stats, it looks pretty even all the way around except for the free throws. We attacked the rim, but we didn't get the calls.''

The Lakers shot 20-of-24 from the foul line to 9-of-11 for the Clippers.

Bryant had seven points and eight assists in the first half, which ended with the Lakers leading 53-46. He assisted on 3-pointers from the left corner in the final seconds of the first and second quarters -- the first by Luke Walton, the second by Butler.

The Lakers led 29-24 after the opening period despite allowing the Clippers to grab 11 offensive rebounds while getting just one themselves. Mihm had 12 points in the quarter, but got only three after that -- all late in the third period.

Although we are having a descent season so far, we need to start winning those important away games. We won't make it back to another NBA final without winning the crucial away games that have plagued every team one time or another. we are 3-1 at home while we are 2-3 on the road. If we don't tackle the problem early, it will get us for the whole season. Lets get up at the top Lakers!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Lakers even for the season openers, Kobe is here to stay.

From sports.yahoo.com:
BRISTOL, Connecticut (Ticker) - A lot has changed for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers since they walked off the court at the Palace at Auburn Hills in June after being thoroughly dominated by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

Superstar Shaquille
O'Neal
was traded to Miami, supercoach Phil Jackson retired to his Montana
hideaway and Bryant signed the largest contract in franchise history - seven
years, $134 million - giving him the keys to one of the glitziest teams in sports.

And of course, Bryant avoided going to jail for 20 years.
Well Kobe Bryant is here to stay for now, but so far, we havn't looked like a more than mediocre team so far. Without the presence of Shaq, it will be hard for us to have as large of an offensive push. So far this season, we have seen some new comers in terms of powerhouse teams in the NBA. During the Spurs games, we really lacked a large presence in the center of the court and it really showed with the lose. Only time can tell how much better or worse we will do this season without Shaq. So keep the cheering up, because we got our load on the new guys!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Lakers Victorious in Preseason Finale

From NBA.com

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oct. 28 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant scored 19 points and Lamar Odom collected 16 and nine rebounds as Los Angeles Lakers posted a 97-87 victory over the Washington Wizards in the preseason finale for both teams.

Despite shooting just 4-of-14 from the floor, Bryant was 11-of-12 from the line. Odom scored five points in the final 1:46 of the first half, including a follow dunk of his own missed free throw.

Washington took a 73-72 lead with 8:14 left on a free throw by Brendan Haywood before Jumaine Jones scored six points in a 1:34 span and Kareem Rush buried two 3-pointers to put the game out of reach.

Lakers guard Tierre Brown added six of his 12 points in the final period, including four free throws down the stretch.

Larry Hughes scored 10 of his 15 points in the first quarter, helping the Wizards to a 23-20 lead.

After winning their last four preseason games, the Lakers (6-2) will open the season with a nationally televised home game against Denver on Tuesday.

The Wizards went 3-5 in preseason and will travel to Memphis for their season opener. They will be without Gilbert Arenas, Anthony Peeler, Hughes and Haywood, all of whom will be serving suspensions

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

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