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11-01-2008, 04:23 PM
Post articles/comments on our favorite team in the NBA, the LA Lakers.

11-01-2008, 04:26 PM


LAST SEASON: 57-25, lost to Boston 4-2 in NBA finals.

STARTING FIVE: G Derek Fisher (11.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.9 apg), G Kobe Bryant (28.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.4 apg), F Lamar Odom (14.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.6 apg), F Pau Gasol (18.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.2 apg), C Andrew Bynum (13.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.1 bpg).


KEY LOSSES: F Ronny Turiaf (free agent, Warriors).

COACH: Phil Jackson, fourth season of second stint with Lakers, 18th season overall; 976-418.

EYES ON: Bynum. His rapid improvement had him on the brink of becoming one of the league's dominant centers before his season-ending knee injury, and the Lakers need him to pick up where he left off. Los Angeles showed how badly it missed his interior toughness in its loss to the Celtics in the NBA finals.

OUTLOOK: They've got the best guard in the game in Bryant, so the key to the Lakers' hopes of getting back to the finals is their frontcourt. Bynum has to show he's all the way back, he and Gasol have to demonstrate they can play together, and Odom has to adjust to playing away from the basket. All that happens, and this team is again the best in the West.

11-01-2008, 04:27 PM
Lakers open NBA season with win over Trail Blazers
10/29/2008 | 01:47 PM
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LOS ANGELES - The Lakers provided a glimpse of the balance, depth and defense they hope will take them all the way to the NBA title this season.

Kobe Bryant had 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists Tuesday night, leading Los Angeles to a 96-76 season-opening victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and spoiling rookie Greg Oden's debut, which was cut short by another injury.

Bryant orchestrated a versatile offense for the defending Western Conference champion Lakers, who also played tenacious defense and held Portland to 35-percent shooting.

"I'm surprised," Bryant said of the margin of victory. "This is a team that gives us a lot of trouble. But we played very well and I am very pleased."

Oden hurt his right foot early in the game and left just before halftime. X-rays were inconclusive and an MRI was set Wednesday for what was diagnosed as a mid-foot sprain. The 7-foot, 285-pounder said after the game that his foot was "tender" but that he's not really concerned.

Pau Gasol had all of his 15 points in the first half as Los Angeles moved in front to stay. Trevor Ariza finished with 11 points and Jordan Farmar had nine. Andrew Bynum, back after sitting out since last January with a knee injury, had eight points, three rebounds and three blocks. Lamar Odom, in his new sixth-man role, had nine points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes.

Gasol was pleased by the team effort.

"We worked very hard defensively and we played together as a group," he said. "We just had so many weapons to use and we had that talent that we need to win."

The 20-year-old Oden missed all four of his shots, had five rebounds, one turnover, blocked one shot and picked up two fouls before leaving the game.

Taken by Portland with the first pick in the 2007 draft, Oden missed all last season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee.

Explaining how he got hurt against the Lakers, he said: "I was trying to go get a rebound and kind of came down on Derek Fisher's foot on like the third play of the game. I kind of fell and didn't think twice about it. I tried to play the rest of the half with it.

"I wanted to play in the second half. I was taped. I was trying to run. It just wasn't happening. I'm just trying to get through it and trying to get back. It's just a little setback. I'll still be in the gym tomorrow."

Portland coach Nate McMillan said, "I hope it's not serious because he's worked so hard to get himself back. We've tried to do all we could to get him into the season, and here we are — the first game. Hopefully in a couple of days, he can be back."

Travis Outlaw led Portland with 18 points and Rudy Fernandez had 16.

The Lakers were in control of the game virtually from the start, but the Trail Blazers briefly made it interesting when they cut the deficit to 49-41 early in the third quarter. Bryant, however, hit a 3, made a reverse layup, then sank four consecutive free throws to build the lead back to 17 points, and Los Angeles led 72-53 heading into the final 12 minutes.

The Lakers were Western Conference champions last season and lost to Boston in the NBA finals. - AP

11-01-2008, 04:29 PM
Lakers agree to extension with Andrew Bynum
10/31/2008 | 10:55 AM
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The Los Angeles Lakers signed Andrew Bynum to a contract extension Thursday, removing the possibility the 21-year-old center would become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We're extremely happy to have signed Andrew to this extension, which will secure his immediate future with the franchise," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "Andrew has shown a vast array of skills for a player his size and if he continues to stay dedicated and work hard to improve, he has an excellent chance to develop into one of the top players in the NBA."

Bynum, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft, will make $2.8 million this season. If an agreement hadn't been reached by Friday, the Lakers wouldn't have been able to negotiate with him until after the season and he would have become an unrestricted free agent.

"This has been a fantastic week for me so far: turning 21, winning our first two games of the season, and now getting this new contract signed," Bynum said. "This gives me and my family financial security, and more importantly, cements my future with the Lakers, which in my opinion is the best organization in all of professional sports. I couldn't be happier."

Bynum's agent, David Lee, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Bynum, a 7-foot, 285-pounder, established himself as one of the NBA's up-and-coming big men last season before having season-ending knee surgery Jan. 13. He averaged 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.06 blocked shots in 35 games, 25 of them starts, before being injured.

The Lakers reached the NBA finals without him, losing to the Boston Celtics in six games.

Bynum appears healthy now, making his team a solid favorite to win its first championship since 2002. He's averaging 7.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his career.

Bynum became the youngest player to be drafted in NBA history when the Lakers selected him following his graduation from St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J. - AP

Regular Grey
11-06-2008, 09:47 PM
Panalo ulit ang lakers kanina. Against the Clips. 4 - 0 na! Next opponent hhouston rockets sa monday (manila time)

11-06-2008, 10:46 PM
Panalo ulit ang lakers kanina. Against the Clips. 4* -* *0* *na!* *Next opponent hhouston rockets sa monday (manila time)

Galing! LA all the way! wala nalang sana mag magaling sa thread na to. Hehe

11-07-2008, 11:46 PM
Lakers vs Houston will be a good match.

Farmar(or Fish), Kobe, Ariza(or Radmanovic), Gasol, and Bynum vs Alston, Tmac, Artest, Scola, and Yao

Adelman can put either Tmac or Artest against Kobe. I think it will be more of Artest's job to follow Kobe all night unless the Lakers play a big lineup with Odom at SF.

It would also be interesting to see the battle of the big men: Yao and Scola vs Gasol and Bynum.

The Lakers will have the advantage in terms of bench crew with the likes of Odom, Fish, Radmanovic, Vujacic, (or Farmar and Ariza if Philjax starts Fish and Radmanovic) etc coming off the bench as opposed to Brooks, Hayes, Barry and Landry for Houston

11-20-2008, 07:28 PM
NBA: Bryant, Gasol lead Lakers past Rockets
11/10/2008 | 01:01 PM

Email this | Email the Editor | Print | Digg this | Add to del.icio.us LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant scored 23 points, Pau Gasol added 20 points and 15 rebounds, and the unbeaten Los Angeles Lakers routed the Houston Rockets 111-82 on Sunday night.

Jordan Farmar added 16 points and six assists and Andrew Bynum had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Lakers, who shot 65.8 percent in the second half. Los Angeles has won its five games by an average of 22.4 points.

Aaron Brooks, a reserve, paced Houston (4-3) with 20 points and four assists. Yao Ming, Luis Scola and Carl Landry had 12 points apiece. – AP

11-20-2008, 07:29 PM
NBA: Kobe leads Lakers to 6-0 start, beat Mavericks
11/12/2008 | 12:55 PM

Email this | Email the Editor | Print | Digg this | Add to del.icio.us DALLAS – Trevor Ariza turned an offensive rebound into an emphatic, go-ahead dunk early in the fourth quarter and Kobe Bryant quickly stretched the lead, sending the Los Angeles Lakers to a 106-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

Ariza’s basket put Los Angeles up for the first time since the opening minutes, then Bryant began stretching the lead with a one-handed rebound-dunk on the next possession. Soon after, he scored seven straight points and the Lakers held off the Mavericks down the stretch to improve to 6-0 for the first time since going 7-0 to open 2001-02, their last championship season.

Despite being without Josh Howard — their second-best scorer, co-leading rebounder and a top defender — the Mavericks came out with the fire star Dirk Nowitzki criticized them for lacking in their previous game. They scored a season-best 35 points in the first quarter and a season-best 60 in the first half, but couldn’t keep up the pace, scoring just 39 the rest of the way.

Jason Kidd got the 101st triple-double of his career with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and Erick Dampier tied a franchise record with 12 offensive rebounds. Ironically, it was Nowitzki who let Dallas down, fouling out with 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting. He was 1-of-9 in the second half and didn’t score after the opening minutes of the third quarter.

Bryant scored 27 points, most coming during a 30-9 spurt from late in the third quarter to the middle of the fourth that turned things around for Los Angeles. This was the first time all year the Lakers trailed going into the fourth. This was the most points they’d allowed all season and it matched their slimmest margin of victory.

Dallas cut it to 99-97 in the final minutes, but Nowitzki passed up a shot, giving the ball to Jerry Stackhouse, who missed. After a defensive stand, Nowitzki shot an airball on a 3-pointer. After yet another defensive stop, Nowitzki passed to Stackhouse in the corner and Ariza came flying in to swat a 3-point try out of bounds with 1 second left on the shot clock.

The Mavs couldn’t get a shot off in time and the Lakers finally made them pay. Pau Gasol caught an airball by Derek Fisher and made a 2-footer. Nowitzki fouled out on the play and Gasol hit the free throw with 23.1 seconds left. Dallas was out of answers after that.

Gasol had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrew Bynum had 11 points and 10 boards. Ariza scored a season-best 13 points and Lamar Odom finished with 12.

The Lakers will try to improve to 7-0 on Wednesday night in New Orleans against Chris Paul and the Hornets.

Howard missed his second straight game with a sprained left wrist. Gerald Green started in his place and keyed the strong start with eight first-quarter points before going to the locker room with a split lip. He had big dunks to open the third and fourth quarters, and finished with 17 points.

Jason Terry scored 21 and reserve Stackhouse added a season-high 17 points. Dampier had 11 points and 16 rebounds. – AP

11-20-2008, 07:30 PM
Lakers remain unbeaten in 7 games
11/13/2008 | 12:34 PM

Email this | Email the Editor | Print | Digg this | Add to del.icio.us NEW ORLEANS – Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher each scored 20 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers improved to 7-0 with a 93-86 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

The Lakers never trailed and led by as much as 23 before nervously holding on against a team that is expected to be one of their chief rivals for Western Conference supremacy.

Bryant drained a clutch 3-pointer while tightly guarded by James Posey with 1:08 left to make it 86-80, and the Lakers held on from there.

Chris Paul had 30 points and 13 assists for New Orleans (4-3).

Andrew Bynum's 8-foot turnaround jumper gave the Lakers a 79-63 lead with just under six minutes to go. But the Hornets used a frantic 17-4 run, during which Paul scored 11 points and assisted on three other baskets, to pull to 83-80 on Paul's floater off the glass with 1:33 left.

The fans were on their feet, urging on the defense, which appeared to be on the verge of getting another stop when Bryant's difficult 3 as the shot clock wound down hit the back rim and dropped straight through.

Soon after, Fisher made a key steal from David West and the Lakers never allowed the Hornets to get within one possession again.

Bynum and Pau Gasol each scored 14 for Los Angeles, and Trevor Ariza added 10 points. Bynum also had four blocked shots, setting the tone with a block on Hornets center Tyson Chandler on the game's opening possession.

West had 21 points and 12 rebounds. Peja Stojakovic had 10 points but was only 3-of-13 shooting. Chandler had 10 rebounds.

The Lakers dominated most of the game, taking a 28-17 lead on Jordan Farmar's jumper as the first quarter ended. The basket ignited a 12-2 run that gave Los Angeles a 38-19 lead on Sasha Vujacic's jump shot.

Poor shooting prevented the Hornets from making a sustained run in the first half. Paul kept feeding Stojakovic for open perimeter attempts, but Stojakovic couldn't get any to fall, missing his first eight shots.

Fisher's jump shot from just inside the 3-point line capped a 6-0 Lakers run to close out the second quarter and give Los Angeles a 51-30 lead at halftime.

The Hornets showed signs of making a game of it early in the third quarter, but only briefly. Stojakovic finally found his shooting touch, hitting a pair of 3s during an 11-2 run that also included a pair of alley-oop dunks by Chandler, both set up by Paul.

Fisher's running jumper stemmed New Orleans's surge, then Bynum scored inside before Fisher hit a 3 and the Lakers began to pull away again, leading 69-46 after Bynum scored inside. - AP

11-20-2008, 07:31 PM
NBA: Iverson, Pistons hand Lakers first loss
11/15/2008 | 02:28 PM

Email this | Email the Editor | Print | Digg this | Add to del.icio.us LOS ANGELES – Rasheed Wallace had 25 points and 13 rebounds, Allen Iverson added 25 points and the Detroit Pistons handed the Los Angeles Lakers their first loss of the season, 106-95, Friday night.

Kobe Bryant scored 29 points for the Lakers, but went 12-of-30 from the floor.

The Lakers, who won their first seven and were outscoring opponents by an average of 18 points, had been the only team in the NBA without a defeat.

The Pistons have dominated the Lakers recently, going 8-2. Their defense on Bryant has been a key, with Detroit holding him to 20 or fewer points in five of the last nine meetings. He had 17 through the first three quarters in the latest loss, when the Pistons built a big lead.

The Pistons beat the Lakers in Los Angeles despite playing back to back games — Detroit won at Golden State the previous night.

Both Bryant and Iverson moved up on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Bryant has 21,817 points and jumped into 21st ahead of Larry Bird (21,791) and Gary Payton (21,813). Iverson (23,156) passed Elgin Baylor (23,149) to jump to No. 19.

Iverson was playing his fifth game since being traded from Denver to Detroit, and the Pistons are 3-2 since his arrival.

Tayshaun Prince added 18 points in Detroit's balanced scoring. Former Laker Kwame Brown had a double-double, with 10 rebounds and 10 points, and Richard Hamilton also scored 10.

Pau Gasol had 10 points and was the only Lakers' starter other than Bryant in double figures. Lamar Odom had 11 points and Trevor Ariza 10.

The Pistons moved in front to stay late in the first quarter, and held a double-digit lead for most of the second half.

Detroit stretched the lead to 77-62 on Arron Afflalo's 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the third period. The Lakers pulled to 61-56 earlier in the quarter, but Prince made a reverse dunk and sank two free throws to help the Pistons stay in control.

Iverson had 14 points by halftime, Bryant had 13 and the Pistons were ahead 53-44 at the break.

Wallace had 13 for Detroit, including going 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. The Pistons went 23-of-41 from the floor in the first two quarters, while Los Angeles was just 19-of-46.

Prince added 11 first-half points for Detroit, and Gasol had 10 for the Lakers.

The Pistons held a 39-27 advantage 4½ minutes into the second quarter and Los Angeles got no closer than nine the rest of the period.

After Bryant scored on a high-above-the-rim lob from Gasol to give the Lakers their first lead at 14-12, Iverson closed out the first quarter with a steal off Bryant and a race downcourt to beat the buzzer. His running lob dropped through the hoop as time expired, putting Detroit up 23-16.

Iverson had 10 points in the opening quarter and Bryant led the Lakers with seven. The Pistons shot 58 percent from the floor and the Lakers shot just 32 percent. – AP

11-20-2008, 07:32 PM
Gasol scores 34 to lead Lakers past Bulls
11/19/2008 | 03:20 PM

Email this | Email the Editor | Print | Digg this | Add to del.icio.us LOS ANGELES – Losing a game didn't sit well with the Los Angeles Lakers. They took out their anger on the Chicago Bulls.

Pau Gasol scored 24 of his season-high 34 points in the first half, and the Lakers rebounded from their first setback of the season with a 116-109 victory over the Bulls on Tuesday night. His previous season high was 22 points.

Kobe Bryant added 21 points, five rebounds and six assists and Andrew Bynum had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers (8-1), who had three full days to contemplate a 106-95 loss to the Detroit Pistons.

Jordan Farmar scored 12 points and Lamar Odom had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists before fouling out with 8:30 remaining.

Derrick Rose led Chicago (5-6) with 25 points and nine assists. Ben Gordon added 23 points and Aaron Gray had 11 for the Bulls, who are winless in four road games.

With Bryant on the bench, Chicago rallied from an 18-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to draw within 10 on a twisting layup by Rose with 4:08 remaining. But that's as close as the Bulls would get until the outcome had been decided.

Bryant made his first appearance of the final period with 3:50 remaining and made a 3-pointer on the Lakers' first possession, helping to keep them safely in front.

Bryant scored seven points during a 12-2 run to start the second half, giving the Lakers a 73-58 lead. Chicago drew within eight points before Bynum scored six in a row and Bryant added a 3-pointer, making it 82-65. It was 90-74 entering the final period.

Bryant was held scoreless until hitting a jumper with 8:18 left in the second quarter, triggering a 21-4 run that gave the Lakers a 57-40 lead, and they were on top the rest of the way. Bryant scored eight points and Gasol six during the spurt.

The Bulls responded by outscoring the Lakers 16-4 during the remainder of the second quarter, making it 61-56 at halftime.

Gasol shot 7-of-9 while scoring 18 points in the first quarter, which ended with Los Angeles on top 30-29.

Notes:@ The 21-year-old Bynum got the 1,000th rebound of his career in the fourth quarter, becoming the eighth-youngest player in NBA history to reach that milestone. ... Lakers coach Phil Jackson has a 12-5 record against the Bulls since becoming coach of the Lakers in 1999. He coached the Bulls to six NBA championships before stepping down following the 1997-98 season. ... ... The game was the opener of a seven-game road trip for the Bulls that finishes Nov. 30 in Philadelphia. It's called the annual circus trip because a circus comes to the United Center while they're out of town. ... The Lakers play in Phoenix on Thursday night before finishing November with five straight home games. ... A moment of silence was observed before the game in memory of Hall of Fame coach Pete Newell, who died Monday at age 93. Newell served as Lakers general manager from 1972-76. ... Rose has scored in double figures in each of his 11 games with the Bulls. He's scored at least 20 points in five games and led the Bulls in scoring five times. - AP

11-20-2008, 07:33 PM
bata pa lang si Bynum and yet may 1,000 plus rebounds na siya sa NBA.
Expect more from this kid.
:D :D :D

11-26-2008, 05:58 PM
Bryant, Radmanovic lead Lakers past Suns 105-92
11/21/2008 | 02:25 PM

Email this | Email the Editor | Print | Digg this | Add to del.icio.us PHOENIX – Kobe Bryant scored 24 points and Vladimir Radmanovic made all five of his 3-pointers to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Phoenix Suns, 105-92 on Thursday night.

Bryant shot only 8-of-23, but the Lakers overwhelmed Phoenix with their depth. Six players reached double figures as Los Angeles improved its record to a league-best 9-1.

Radmanovic scored 15, Lamar Odom 13, Jordan Farmar 11, and Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza 10 apiece for Los Angeles. Amare Stoudemire scored 21 for Phoenix on 9-for-21 shooting.

Shaquille O'Neal added 15 points and nine rebounds against the Lakers, a team he helped win three NBA titles. The Suns' Steve Nash was scoreless in the first half and finished with eight points and 10 assists, leaving the court with back spasms with 4:38 to play.

The Lakers made 10 of 21 3-pointers to win in Phoenix for the third straight time.

Los Angeles took the lead for good late in the first half. The Lakers led by 14 in the third quarter and were up 89-71 when Odom sank a 3-pointer with 8:34 to play. Phoenix cut the lead to 10 in the final few minutes but got no closer.

The Lakers went on a 14-0 run to end the first quarter and start the second, taking a 32-24 lead on Bynum's 10-footer. The Suns responded with a 12-2 spurt to go up 37-34 when Grant Hill made one of two free throws with 7:05 left in the half.

Los Angeles, though, outscored Phoenix 17-7 the rest of the quarter to lead 51-44 at the break. The Lakers padded the lead in the opening minutes of the second half. Bryant's fast-break basket made it 63-51 with 7:47 left in the third quarter.

The Suns twice cut it to eight before back-to-back 3-pointers by Radmanovic and Derek Fisher gave Los Angeles a 76-62 with 2:21 left in the third. The Lakers led 80-67 entering the fourth.

Notes:@ Radmanovic was 11-for-30 on 3s going into the game. Foul trouble limited Bynum to 20 1/2 minutes. ... Suns coach Terry Porter went with Sean Singletary ahead of Goran Dragic at backup point guard. Both players are rookies. ... O'Neal gave Lakers coach Phil Jackson a big, sweaty hug in the hallway before the game. - AP

11-26-2008, 05:59 PM
NBA: Lakers make best start in seven years
11/22/2008 | 04:56 PM

Email this | Email the Editor | Print | Digg this | Add to del.icio.us LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers moved to their best start to an NBA season for seven years with a 104-90 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday.

Kobe Bryant scored 11 of his 29 points in the third quarter before sitting out the fourth and Andrew Bynum finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

The defending Western Conference champion Lakers are off to their best start through 11 games since the 2001-02 championship season, when they won 16 of their first 17.

11-26-2008, 06:00 PM
Lakers outlast Kings, 118-108, to go 11-1
11/24/2008 | 01:38 PM

Email this | Email the Editor | Print | Digg this | Add to del.icio.us LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant scored 24 points, Andrew Bynum had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers improved the NBA's best record to 11-1 with a 118-108 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.

All five Lakers starters reached double figures in points by the third quarter, and eight players finished with 10 or more as the defending Western Conference champions won for the fourth straight time since losing to Detroit at home.

Vladimir Radmanovic, wearing red tinted goggles after getting poked in his right eye during Friday night's win against Denver, made his first two attempts from 3-point range and finished with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting.

John Salmons led Sacramento with 24 points and reserve Bobby Brown added 21. Kevin Martin was sidelined for the eighth consecutive game with a sprained left ankle and Mikki Moore missed his fourth straight because of a sprained right ankle.

The Kings, who have lost five of six, used a starting lineup that included rookies Donte Greene and Jason Thompson, who has started every game since Martin's injury and scored 15 points against the Lakers.

Trailing by as many as 19 points after Bynum's three-point play to open the fourth quarter, Sacramento went on a 21-6 run that narrowed the gap to 105-101 with 6:17 to play. Bobby Jackson helped fuel the rally with 10 points, including a three-point play that capped the rally.

Bryant, Gasol and point guard Derek Fisher returned to the game following the ensuing timeout, and the Kings got no closer. The Lakers scored the next nine points.

Kings center Brad Miller, who missed the first five games of the season because of a suspension for violating the league's drug program, escaped a flagrant foul with 3:24 in the second quarter and Los Angeles leading 50-46. Lakers reserve forward Trevor Ariza drove to the basket past the Kings' 7-foot center, who wrapped his arm around Ariza's throat while he was in the air — sending him crashing to the floor.

Referee Eddie F. Rush didn't agree with the sellout crowd of 18,997, who were still booing while Ariza made one of two free throws.

All nine players coach Phil Jackson used in the first quarter scored. Sasha Vujacic got his first points on a buzzer-beating pull-up 3-pointer from the top of the arc for a 32-27 lead.

Notes:@ It was the first time this season that all five Lakers starters scored in double figures. ... Jackson's best start as an NBA coach with only one loss was in 1996-97 when the Chicago Bulls came out of the gate 17-1 and won the second of three straight NBA titles. The previous season, the Bulls finished 72-10. ... The Lakers won their final two meetings against Sacramento last season by 22 and 23 points, after the Kings beat them 114-113 at Staples Center. ... The Kings converted 18 Lakers turnovers into 30 points. ... Sacramento is 2-6 since Martin's injury. ... Despite their won-lost record, the Lakers have shot 50 percent or better from the field only three times in the first 12 games. They finished at 51.7 percent in this one. ... Sacramento is 0-7 when trailing after three quarters. - AP

11-26-2008, 06:00 PM
Lakers breeze to 12-1 with 120-93 romp over Nets
11/26/2008 | 03:18 PM

Email this | Email the Editor | Print | Digg this | Add to del.icio.us LOS ANGELES – Pau Gasol had 26 points and eight rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame a poor shooting performance by Kobe Bryant to rout the New Jersey Nets 120-93 on Tuesday night and improve the NBA's best record to 12-1.

Bryant had difficulty most of the game with Vince Carter's defense, going 5-for-17 from the field in 28 minutes and finishing with 12 points in the Lakers' fifth straight victory. He shot 1-for-9 in the first half and didn't get to the free-throw line until 1:11 remained in the second quarter.

The reigning MVP and two-time scoring champion had a similar game at New Jersey on Feb. 5, scoring a season-low six points on 3-for-13 shooting with no free-throw attempts.

Devin Harris had 21 points and six assists for the Nets, who again played without Stromile Swift (back), Josh Boone (bruised left ankle) and Chris Douglas-Roberts (right knee strain). Eduardo Najera, who has an injured back, did not make the trip.

Yi Jianlian had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Nets, who shot only 34.5 percent and were 3-for-19 in the fourth quarter while getting outscored 30-17. Carter scored 14 points before sitting out the final 6:51. Rookie center Brook Lopez made four of his first five shots, but went 2-for-10 the rest of the way and finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Big man Andrew Bynum picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter with the Lakers ahead 70-66, but his teammates responded with an 11-4 spurt and took a 90-76 lead into the fourth. The second unit opened the period with a 15-2 run, including 3-pointers by Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar and Lamar Odom and capped it on an 18-footer by Trevor Ariza that gave Los Angeles a 105-78 cushion with 8:19 left.

The Nets missed their first eight shots of the fourth before ending the drought on a 20-footer by Trenton Hassell with 5:24 remaining. By then, the Lakers led 113-88.

Gasol, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds against the Nets last February in his Lakers debut following his acquisition from the Memphis Grizzlies, paced Los Angeles to a 56-54 halftime lead with 16 points.

Notes:@ The Nets won their first 13 games after Lawrence Frank replaced Byron Scott as head coach on Jan. 26, 2004. Since that streak, they are 184-184 in the regular season and 18-20 in the playoffs. ... The Nets had allowed 30 or more points by an opposing player in each of their previous five games and seven of eight. ... Yi, the Nets' 7-foot forward, made a 3-pointer in the first quarter and is 23-for-56 from behind the arc in 79 NBA games. The other four 7-footers who were in uniform — Gasol, Bynum, Lopez and Lakers reserve center Chris Mihm — have yet to attempt a 3-point shot this season. ... The Nets did not attempt a free throw until 6:56 remained in the first half. ... The Lakers are 7-6 against the Nets since sweeping them in the 2002 NBA finals. ... The Nets continue their trip Wednesday night at Sacramento, where they have lost nine in a row. ... Bryant and Carter were among three players to average at least 21 points, six rebounds and five assists last season. The other was LeBron James. - AP

12-24-2008, 02:51 PM
Lakers beat Mavericks 114-107 to go 13-1
11/29/2008 | 05:52 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 35 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers used a 17-0 run in the second half Friday night to beat the Dallas Mavericks 114-107 and improve the NBA's best record to 13-1.

Andrew Bynum, playing on a sore right foot, had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Lakers' sixth straight victory. Bryant was 14-for-26 from the field after going 5-for-17 with 12 points in Wednesday's 120-93 win over New Jersey.

Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki had 19 points and 12 rebounds in a matchup of the leagues' last two MVPs, but Dallas' five-game winning streak was snapped.

Jason Kidd, who had a triple-double in the Mavericks' 106-99 loss to the Lakers on Nov. 11 in Dallas, had 12 points and 11 assists. The Mavericks were 13-for-19 from 3-point range after missing their first 10 shots from behind the arc in Tuesday's 109-106 win over Indiana.

Josh Howard missed his fourth straight game because of an injured left ankle. Jerry Stackhouse, who recently asked his agent to try and work out a trade to get him out of Dallas, did not accompany the team on this two-game road trip so that he could get treatment for a sore right heel.

Reserve Jason Terry had 29 points for the Mavericks, whose bench outscored the Lakers' reserves 58-25. Dallas has lost 32 of its last 35 against them in Los Angeles.

Terry's reverse layup gave Dallas a 78-67 lead with 3:48 left in the third quarter. Pau Gasol, who triggered the Lakers' pivotal run with a 15-foot jumper, tied the score at 78-all with an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Lamar Odom, and gave Los Angeles the lead for good 33 seconds later with a layup. He finished with 14 points.

From there, the Lakers' bench took over and increased the margin to 84-78 on a driving layup by Trevor Ariza with 10:20 to play. The Mavericks didn't get another field goal until Terry hit a 3-pointer with 9:12 left.

Kidd hit a pair of 3-pointers to help keep the Mavericks within striking distance, but Ariza responded with an 18-footer and a 3-pointer 28 seconds apart to give the Lakers a 103-93 lead with 5:16 remaining. Dallas got no closer than 108-103 on Terry's 3-pointer with 1:36 to go. - AP

12-24-2008, 02:53 PM
Gasol, Kobe help Lakers beat Raptors
12/01/2008 | 01:23 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Pau Gasol had 24 points and nine rebounds, Kobe Bryant had 23 points and seven assists before sitting out the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 112-99 on Sunday night to improve their league-best record to 14-1.

Bryant came 15 points shy of reaching the 22,000-point mark faster than any other player. Had he done it, he would have beaten Wilt Chamberlain to that total by one day, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Bryant was the fastest to 12,000 and every level up to 20,000. The two-time scoring champion and 10-time All-Star was the second-fastest to 21,000.

Anthony Parker led Toronto with 19 points and five teammates also scored in double figures. Jermaine O'Neal missed his third straight because of a sprained left ankle.

Bryant averaged 48.5 points in the Lakers' previous four home games against Toronto, including a staggering 81 on Jan. 22, 2006 — the second-highest total in league history. He led the Lakers to a 61-51 lead with 21 points, but was 1-for-3 with two points in his 11 minutes on the floor in the third quarter.

He became a spectator during the fourth while Andrew Bynum and the Lakers' reserves blew the game open with a 17-4 run that increased a six-point lead to 107-88 with 5:50 to play.

Bynum scored seven of his 18 points during the rally, including an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Sasha Vujacic, and another alley-oop play in which he guided in Jordan Farmar's lob above the rim. Bynum shot 8-for-13 and grabbed 10 rebounds despite a bone spur in his right foot, which he's had since landing on Vince Carter's foot during last Tuesday's game against New Jersey.

The Lakers have beaten the Raptors in their last seven regular-season meetings at Staples Center. The Raptors have never won a season series from the Lakers during their 13 seasons in the league and trail the all-time series 20-5.

Jordan Farmar, who turned 22 years old on Sunday, hit a 3-pointer during a 13-1 run that extended a one-point Lakers lead to 51-38 with 4:57 left in the half.

Point guard Jose Calderon, who came in 40-for-40 on free throws, didn't go to the line until 2:40 remained in the second quarter, after the Lakers got a technical foul for a defensive 3-second violation. He was 3-for-3 from the line, finishing with 12 points, 12 assists and six rebounds. - AP

12-24-2008, 02:58 PM
Bryant scores 32 in Lakers' win over 76ers
12/04/2008 | 11:08 AM
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PHILADELPHIA – Kobe 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.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said before the game that the thrill of playing in his home city has worn off for Bryant. But the reigning MVP appeared to enjoy every big 3-pointer that pushed back the Sixers and gave Los Angeles a boost.

The Lakers improved to 15-2 one night after they lost in Indiana on a late tip.

Los Angeles never let the middling Sixers get too close in this one. Philadelphia was within six in the third quarter when Derek Fisher and Bryant nailed 3-pointers that ballooned the lead to double digits.

Andre Miller scored 26 points and Andre Iguodala had 19 for the Sixers, who played the entire fourth quarter and the last 4 minutes of the third without Elton Brand.

It was unclear whether Brand was injured or simply benched on an off night. He was limited to three points on 1-for-7 shooting in 25 ineffective minutes.

The wildly inconsistent Sixers hoped to get their groove back after a 103-95 overtime win at Chicago on Tuesday. Again, they couldn't get Iguodala, Miller and Brand going offensively at the same time. They lost for the fourth time in five games and haven't won consecutive games since Nov. 21-23.

Team president Ed Stefanski said before the game he wasn't shocked the Sixers are having trouble adjusting to new roles that came with Brand's free-agent arrival.

Brand, though, was signed to deliver big games against teams like the Lakers. No injury report was given, so perhaps he just had an off night. But the Sixers can't afford many games like this from Brand if they want to make a move in the East.

With Brand on the bench, guard Lou Williams tried to rally the Sixers in the fourth. He scored all 15 of his points in the quarter and made three 3s, including two straight that pulled Philadelphia to 101-91.

Hearing some faint chants of "MVP!" mixed in with the usual Philly boos, Bryant sank a pair of free throws at the 2-minute mark that gave the Lakers a 108-97 lead, then followed with a spinning, right-handed layup that put the game away. Just for fun, he drilled a 3 the next time down and appeared to stare at Philly's bench.

With less than a minute left, Iguodala decided to guard Bryant as though Game 7 of a playoff series was tied. Bryant was called for a push-off foul, and what was left of the crowd howled at the late-game theatrics. - AP

12-24-2008, 03:05 PM
Lakers improve to 17-2 with 105-92 win over Bucks
12/08/2008 | 01:24 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant had 20 points and a season-high eight assists, Derek Fisher added 19 points and the Los Angeles Lakers beat Milwaukee 105-92 on Sunday, improving their record to 17-2 and equaling the best 19-game start in the franchise's 61-year history.

The Lakers also started the 1985-86 season 17-2. This was the sixth time the team has won 17 of its first 20 games, including the championship seasons of 1971-72 and 2001-02.

All the Lakers' starters scored in double digits, something none of the Bucks' starters did.

Bryant shot 6-for-13, sitting out the final 4 minutes of the third quarter after getting treated for a cut just above his left wrist. He started the fourth and was removed with 7:41 to play and the Lakers up by 19.

Andrew Bynum, who had a career-high 17 rebounds against the Bucks last Jan. 11, grabbed 14 boards and scored 14 points. Pau Gasol had 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Joe Alexander had a team-high 15 points for the Bucks, who have lost 15 of their last 17 against the Lakers in Los Angeles. Beleaguered coach Scott Skiles got only 18 points from his staring lineup, and the team shot a collective 38 percent from the field. Milwaukee has shot under 50 percent from the field in all 22 games this season.

Richard Jefferson, who averaged 22.2 points over his previous six games, scored three during a foul-plagued 9 minutes. He went to the bench after picking up his second foul with 6:36 left in the first quarter, then got his third with 9:22 left in the second quarter — just 40 seconds after reporting in. His fourth came with 8:39 left in the third and Milwaukee trailing by 21.

Compounding the Bucks' woes was the loss of forward Malik Allen, who left for good with 8:36 left in the first quarter because of a rib injury. It occurred when he lost his balance trying to knock down a pass near the Lakers' basket and crashed to the floor.

The Bucks missed their first seven shots. Shooting guard Michael Redd missed his first four and was 1-for-6 with two points in 20 minutes. He averaged 24.0 points in the two meetings with the Lakers last season, and had a 45-point outing against them at Staples Center two seasons ago.

Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut, playing his third game after missing the previous three with a bruised left knee, had nine rebounds, six points and five assists.

Los Angeles never trailed, increasing a 12-point halftime lead to 16-4 run capped by Gasol's layup with 8:08 left in the third quarter. The Bucks never seriously challenged after that.

Notes:@ The Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers are the only teams to use the same starting lineup in every game so far, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Last season, due to injuries and the acquisition of Gasol, the Lakers used 16 different lineups — with only Bryant and Fisher starting every game. ... No one has scored more than 25 points for the Bucks in any of their last 12 games, and only three times this season has one of their players had more than 25. ... The only player to score 30 or more points against Milwaukee this season is LeBron James, who had 41 on Nov. 11 and 32 on Nov. 29. ... Phil Jackson is seven wins away from becoming the sixth coach in NBA history with at least 1,000 regular-season victories. His .703 regular-season winning percentage is the best in league history. ... The Bucks are 2-12 against teams with won-lost records of .500 or better on the day they played them, and 6-0 against clubs with losing records. ... The Lakers are 13-0 when allowing fewer than 100 points. - AP

12-24-2008, 03:33 PM
Bryant leads Lakers past Kings, 112-103
12/13/2008 | 03:41 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant scored 32 points, Pau Gasol had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers avenged a loss earlier in the week with a 112-103 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

The Kings didn't go quietly in the rematch, storming back from a 92-77 deficit early in the fourth quarter to close to 101-98 on Spencer Hawes' 3-pointer with 3:02 remaining. But Derek Fisher sank a 14-footer, Bryant made a short jumper and then a driving dunk and free throw and the Lakers suddenly had stretched the lead back to 10.

One of only three defeats in Los Angeles' 22 games this season was at the hands of the otherwise struggling Kings, a 113-101 upset at Sacramento on Tuesday.

Although they never led, the Kings played the Lakers tough again and were tied 52-52 at halftime. Los Angeles opened a 76-61 lead with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter and was up 84-72 heading into the fourth.

Trevor Ariza scored 13 for Los Angeles, and Fisher had 11. Andrew Bynum had eight points and 10 rebounds when he fouled out with 4:24 remaining and the Lakers up 98-91.

John Salmons scored 26 for Sacramento, Beno Udrih had 16 and Francisco Garcia had 13. Hawes finished with 11 points.

Salmon's steal off Bryant and fastbreak layup with 7 seconds left in the first half drew the Kings even at 52. That was the third time and last time that the score was tied.

Bryant scored 10 in the opening quarter and Los Angeles led 33-27 after the first 12 minutes. Salmons was Sacramento's top scorer, but with just six points.

In their meeting in Sacramento three days earlier, the Lakers went in with 14 wins in their last 15 games, and the Kings were 5-16 and had lost 11 of their last 12. But Salmons and Garcia scored 21 points apiece, Bobby Jackson added 15 and the Kings claimed their first home win in nine game.

Bryant scored 28 in that loss, but was just 9-of-25 from the floor and the Lakers were held to 40 percent shooting. He was 11-of-21 in the rematch and the Lakers shot 50 percent. - AP

12-24-2008, 03:37 PM
Bryant leads Lakers to 98-86 win vs T-Wolves
12/15/2008 | 01:23 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant had 26 points and five assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves 98-86 on Sunday night.

Pau Gasol had 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, Andrew Bynum added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Trevor Ariza scored 14 points for the Lakers.

The win was the 13th in the last 14 games for the Lakers, whose 20-3 record is the second-best in the NBA behind Boston's 22-2 mark, but it wasn't very impressive. The Lakers won despite being outrebounded 53-46. They forced 17 turnovers while committing 10 themselves and shot 44.7 percent to Minnesota's 36.1 percent.

Al Jefferson had 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead Minnesota. Craig Smith added 18 points and eight rebounds, and Ryan Gomes scored 13 for the Timberwolves (4-19), who lost their ninth straight game and fourth in a row since Kevin McHale took over as coach last Monday.

The Timberwolves trailed 76-70 before a basket by Ariza and four straight points by Bryant gave the Lakers a 12-point lead with 4 1/2 minutes remaining. Minnesota didn't threaten after that.

The Timberwolves have the NBA's second-worst record and are 2-10 on the road, but they led 57-54 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter after scoring eight straight points. But a 3-pointer by Bryant, a basket by Lamar Odom and five straight points by Luke Walton gave the Lakers a seven-point lead, and they were on top the rest of the way. It was 69-62 entering the final period.

Both teams shot 2-of-11 to begin the second quarter, explaining why they each scored five points in the first 6 minutes, leaving the Lakers ahead 25-23.

The Timberwolves scored the next five points before the Lakers went on a 17-9 run to finish the period for a 42-37 halftime lead despite being outrebounded 31-18. Minnesota committed 13 turnovers to six for Los Angeles in the opening 24 minutes.

The Lakers led by as many as seven points before settling for a 20-18 lead after one quarter of play. - AP

12-24-2008, 03:40 PM
Bryant leads Lakers past Knicks 116-114
12/17/2008 | 03:46 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant scored nine of his 28 points in the last 7 1/2 minutes, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to beat the New York Knicks 116-114 on Tuesday night.

Trevor Ariza scored the go-ahead basket with 1:03 remaining to give the Lakers (21-3) their 14th win in 16 games.

Nate Robinson, who scored a season-high 33 points, had a chance to give New York the lead, but missed a short jumper with about 12 seconds to play. Two foul shots by Derek Fisher with 6.4 seconds left made it 115-112, and the Lakers then intentionally fouled Robinson, who made two foul shots with 3.8 seconds left to make it a one-point game.

Fisher made another foul shot with 2.7 seconds left, and Chris Duhon missed a desperation shot from the backcourt as time expired.

The Lakers played without Pau Gasol, who has strep throat. Gasol, averaging 18.0 points and 9.3 rebounds, came to Staples Center for the game, but was sent home. Lamar Odom made his first start of the season in Gasol's place and had season-high totals of 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Fisher had 15 points and a season-high seven assists; Luke Walton scored a season-high 14 points, Ariza added 13, and Andrew Bynum had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

The Lakers outrebounded the Knicks 49-38 and shot 47.4 percent to New York's 45.7 percent. The Knicks made 13 of 31 3-pointers to 6-of-23 for Los Angeles.

David Lee had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Quentin Richardson also scored 18 points for New York. Tim Thomas scored 13 points, Duhon had 12 points and 11 assists, and Al Harrington also scored 12 for the Knicks (11-14), who played without backup forward Jared Jeffries.

Bryant's 19-foot jumper with 1:38 left gave the Lakers a 111-109 lead, but Robinson made a 3-pointer 20 seconds later to give the Knicks a one-point lead. Ariza then scored off a pass from Odom with 1:03 to go, putting Los Angeles on top for good.

Bryant scored seven points during an 11-2 run that put the Lakers on top 103-101 with 5:18 remaining — their first lead since the first quarter. Neither team led by more than four points after that.

The Lakers outscored the Knicks 11-2 to begin the second half, trimming New York's lead to 67-61, and scored seven straight points later in the third quarter to draw within three. It was 88-84 entering the final period.

A night after going 5-of-37 from 3-point range in a 111-103 loss at Phoenix, the Knicks shot 11-of-23 from beyond the arc in the first half in taking a 65-50 lead. The sellout crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center booed the Lakers off the court at halftime.

Richardson scored 13 points, Robinson added 10, and the Knicks outscored the Lakers 23-8 to finish the first period for a 37-26 lead. Los Angeles trailed by 11 despite not committing a single turnover, but New York had only two, shot 52 percent, and won the rebounding battle 16-11.

Notes:@ Banished Knicks guard Stephon Marbury attended the game and spoke briefly with reporters at halftime. "I didn't create this, this is all their doing," he said of his status as a non-player with the Knicks despite being under contract. "I'm still earning my check by doing nothing. I'm staying in shape. My mind-set is to enjoy my life." Marbury hasn't played this season and the sides are working on a buyout. He is under contract for about $21 million. ... The Lakers entered the game as the NBA's highest-scoring team with a 108.0-point average, and the Knicks were third at 104.9 points. So it was no surprise to see such a high-scoring game between the teams. ... The Lakers are 14-1 at home this season, including 11 straight victories since a 106-95 loss to Detroit. ... The Lakers are 7-2 against Eastern Conference opponents and the Knicks are 5-5 against the West.

12-24-2008, 03:44 PM
Wade, Heat stifle Lakers to snap skid
12/20/2008 | 05:12 PM
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MIAMI — Dwyane Wade watched the ball leave Kobe Bryant’s hand and sail toward the basket, just as time expired. He watched it drop over the front of the rim, then bounce tantalizingly, adding even more drama to a suspenseful ending.

Finally, the ball fell away.

“About time we got a break," Wade said.

As the saying goes, the Miami Heat made their own breaks Friday night.

Wade snapped out of a mild slump with 35 points, and the Heat defense stifled the high-powered Los Angeles Lakers’ in ways no opponent has managed this season on the way to an 89-87 victory over the reigning Western Conference champions.

Miami held the Lakers to a season low in points, forced 21 turnovers — Los Angeles’ second-highest total of the year — and survived the final dagger that Bryant, the league’s MVP, could hoist their way.

“It was going down, then just popped out," said Bryant, who led the Lakers (21-4) with 28 points. “Happens sometimes."

Bryant made a spinning jumper from the left side of the lane to get the Lakers within two points with 41.7 seconds left, but his final shot from just a couple steps farther back simply wouldn’t go down.

“Shows that we’ve grown up a little bit," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said, after Miami (13-12) snapped a three-game slide.

For Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, everything is always about defense, continuing the mantra he learned from former coach and team president Pat Riley, his mentor on the Miami sideline.

And perhaps the quintessential defensive moment of the season came in the final seconds.

Miami led by two and the Lakers pounded the ball inside, looking to tie the game. Lamar Odom’s 8-footer was blocked by Joel Anthony, and Odom’s attempt at a follow-up was blocked by Wade. Pau Gasol gathered that loose ball — and Wade erased his shot attempt as well.

“Just a fantastic effort defensively at the very end," Spoelstra said.

The Lakers’ previous low this season was 93 points, and their 21 turnovers represented their second-highest total of the season.

Daequan Cook scored 14 points and Shawn Marion had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Miami, which saw most of a 12-point lead entering the fourth disappear.

Gasol had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who also got 13 points from Derek Fisher and 12 from Jordan Farmar.

“We just did not get ourselves going," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We had a terrible third quarter."

A third quarter that came with a spectacular ending, courtesy of Wade.

The game was tied after each of the first two quarters, and was nip-and-tuck again for much of the third before Miami took control in the final minutes of the period.

A 13-2 run over the final 3:33 gave Miami a 75-63 lead entering the fourth, and Wade delivered both the set up and knockout blows of the quarter. He found Cook for a 3-pointer that gave Miami a nine-point edge, and after losing the ball with 5 seconds left in the period, came through with another entry for his burgeoning highlight reel.

Stripped by Trevor Ariza near the 3-point line, Wade dove over the sprawled-out Lakers defender and collected the ball near halfcourt, dribbled to gather himself and let a 32-footer fly in desperation.

It dropped as time expired, and Wade posed on one knee as Ariza — who was still seated on the floor — only shook his head in disbelief.

“I knew it had a good chance of going in," Wade said. “And how’d you all like my pose?"

The Lakers held Miami scoreless for the first five minutes of the fourth, but never got the margin lower than four until the final minutes.

And by then, there simply wasn’t enough time for Bryant and the Lakers to shake the Heat.

“It’s a loss," Bryant said. “You regroup and you get back to work." – AP

12-24-2008, 03:52 PM
Bryant leads late rally to help Lakers beat Grizzlies
12/23/2008 | 11:51 AM
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Kobe Bryant scored 36 points and keyed a late rally to help the Los Angeles Lakers snap a two-game losing streak with a 105-96 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.

The Lakers trailed by 93-88 with 3:08 left, but closed the game on a 17-3 run, including 10 points from Bryant to overtake the Grizzlies down the stretch.

Bryant was 14-of-23 from the field, part of Los Angeles shooting 54 percent on the night.

Pau Gasol had 15 points, seven rebounds and had six assists in his return to Memphis.

Rudy Gay led Memphis with 23 points, while O.J. Mayo scored 22 and had six assists. - AP

12-24-2008, 03:54 PM
Hornets' Stojakovic, Daniels out vs Lakers
12/24/2008 | 09:43 AM
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NEW ORLEANS – Peja Stojakovic sat out his third straight game with back soreness on Tuesday night when the New Orleans Hornets hosted the Los Angeles Lakers.

Backup point guard Antonio Daniels, who twisted his knee during the Hornets' previous game on Saturday, also missed the game.

Hornets coach Byron Scott said Daniels' swelling has gone down and characterized his status as day-to-day.

Scott did not want to guess whether Stojakovic would return for the Hornets' Christmas Day game at Orlando or home game Friday night against Houston.

"We're not going to push him to try to play," Scott said. "We want to make sure that, in his mind, that he's fine, that he's comfortable, that he'll come back and give us everything he's got."

Stojakovic missed most of 2006-07 because of surgery to remove a disk fragment in his lower back, but came back strong last season, starting 77 games.

He has started 20 games this season, averaging 13.1 points. He is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range and leads the team in 3-pointers with 53.

With Stojakovic out, Scott inserted Devin Brown into the starting lineup at shooting guard against Los Angeles.

Stojakovic, 31, is now in his 11th NBA season, but Scott said he wasn't concerned that Stojakovic may be wearing down.

"I'm not real worried right now. I'll start worrying a little bit more when the trainer starts to worry," Scott said. "Right now he said it's just a little soreness, something they expected with the surgery, so right now we're just doing everything to make sure when he comes back that he's healthy so we won't have a reoccurrence of it." - AP

12-24-2008, 03:57 PM
Home > Sports > Top Stories
Lakers down Hornets 100-87
12/24/2008 | 12:28 PM
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NEW ORLEANS – So much for the Lakers' brief bout with vulnerability.

Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 20, and Los Angeles beat the New Orleans Hornets 100-87 on Tuesday night in a performance that was more dominant than the final score indicated.

Using swarming defense to bottle up Chris Paul for much of the game, the Lakers stormed to a 19-point halftime lead and led by 20 after Bryant's jumper over James Posey early in the fourth quarter.

After stumbling through the beginning of their four-game road trip, the Lakers' dominance of the Hornets should serve as a warning to the defending champion Boston Celtics, who visit Los Angeles for a much-anticipated Christmas Day contest.

Paul finished with 17 points and 10 assists for the Hornets, who had won 11 of their previous 13 games and were looking to move closer to the Lakers in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles (23-5) had dropped a pair of games on its road trip and needed a fourth-quarter comeback to win at Memphis on Monday. On Tuesday, the Lakers won convincingly for the second time in two meetings with the Hornets — both times in New Orleans — and ended the Hornets' six-game home winning streak.

The testiness of this budding rivalry also manifested itself in technical fouls.

Tyson Chandler was assessed a technical in the first quarter for shoving Sasha Vujacic. Rasual Butler and Gasol were assessed double technicals for arguing in the second quarter. Posey was assessed another for standing over Bryant after knocking the Lakers' star down while clearing him out of the lane.

New Orleans had trouble stopping Bryant without fouling him. He went 12-of-15 on free throws. Gasol was 8-of-10 from the field.

Andrew Bynum scored 13 points for Los Angeles, which also got 11 points from Derek Fisher and 10 from Trevor Ariza.

Butler scored 17 points for New Orleans. Morris Peterson added 16 and David West 13 on 5-of-15 shooting.

Bryant went to the bench only 4:10 into the game with two fouls, but the Hornets could not take advantage. The Lakers maintained a slim lead most of the quarter, going up 22-16 after an 8-0 run that included Vujacic's 3 and Gasol's basket inside as he was fouled.

The Hornets responded with a 8-0 run to take a 26-24 lead on Peterson's running hook, but the Lakers began to take command soon after when Ariza hit a 3 from the corner and Bynum followed his own miss with a dunk. After Paul's free throw cut the Lakers' lead to 29-28, Los Angeles went on a 9-0 run that included Fisher's tough floater in the lane over Chandler and a pair of jumpers by Ariza.

Later in the quarter, Bryant drove through a crowd for a double pump reverse dunk while the overflow crowd of 18,405 gasped as if collectively punched in the gut. The Hornets looked a little wobbly as well, turning the ball over five times in the period while shooting 5-of-13.

The Lakers, who had eight turnovers in the opening quarter, didn't lose the ball once in the second and scored on 16 of 21 possessions.

In the final minute of the period, Bryant ran down the clock while drawing a triple team to the right of the foul line, then passed to Gasol in the corner for a rare 3-point attempt by the 7-foot center. The shot dropped straight through (only the 18th 3 of his career), giving the Lakers a 56-37 lead at halftime. - AP

12-26-2008, 08:59 AM
lake show stopped the streak.

12-26-2008, 11:43 AM
great job by gasol during the last few mins of the game.

12-26-2008, 12:43 PM
Lakers end Celtics' 19-game winning streak

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The six-month wait is over. The Los Angeles Lakers can put the anguish of losing the NBA finals to the Boston Celtics and the embarrassment over the way the series ended behind them.

Kobe Bryant had 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final three minutes, and the Lakers used a strong finish to beat Boston 92-83 Thursday, snapping the Celtics' franchise-record 19-game winning streak.

The game was the first between the teams since the Celtics romped to a 131-92 victory in Game 6 of the finals last June to win their first championship in 22 years and league-high 17th title. The Lakers blew a 24-point second-quarter lead in Game 4 at Staples Center to fall behind 3-1 - a deficit that's never been overcome in the finals.

The teams have been archrivals since the 1960s, having met 11 times in the finals, with the Celtics going 9-2.

"We've been waiting for that opportunity for a long time, and we won," said Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic, who scored 10 points. "I don't like them at all. A lot of people called us softies or whatever. It doesn't matter at all. We know what we can do.

"Last year, they won the championship. This year, it's our year, we want to take it all the way."

The victory was the 1,000th for Los Angeles' Phil Jackson, enabling him to become the sixth NBA coach to reach that milestone. The 63-year-old Jackson has a career record of 1,000-423 in 17-plus seasons as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Lakers. He became the fastest to win 1,000 games, surpassing Pat Riley, who did it in 1,434 games.

"It's amazing. I mean, he's one of the greatest coaches of all time," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I can guarantee you that I won't win 1,000 games because I won't be around that long. It's just an amazing number. When you throw up 1,000 wins, that says a lot."

The Celtics entered with a 27-2 record - the fastest start by a two-loss team. They were in pretty good shape when Kevin Garnett dunked off a feed from Rajon Rondo to put them ahead 81-79 with 3:57 remaining. But the Lakers went on a 13-2 run to finish the game.

"Give them all the credit," said Boston's Paul Pierce, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds but was scoreless in the fourth quarter. "We just have to play better down the stretch."

Gasol missed his first four shots, and showed frustration at times. But 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.

"We were pretty physical," said Gasol, who had three rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. "We were able to contain them, keep our poise and finish the game off. I had to make sure I took it to them, not settle for easy jumpers. I'm glad I was able to get over that hump of a slow start.

"It shows we can beat anybody. Hopefully, we'll build on it."

Jackson said the Lakers played excellent defense in the fourth quarter, when they held the Celtics to 16 points. Boston shot 8-of-19 and was 0-for-7 on 3-pointers in the final period.

"I'm really happy with Pau," Jackson said. "He stepped up in that fourth quarter and we really needed him."

Lamar Odom had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Lakers (24-5), who won their 12th straight game at home, where they're 15-1. Andrew Bynum, who missed most of last season and the playoffs with an injured knee, had nine points and seven rebounds.

Garnett shot 11-of-14 in leading the Celtics (27-3) with 22 points and nine rebounds. Ray Allen scored 14, but went 2-of-11 after making his first three shots. Rondo was held to six points, shooting 3-of-11, but had 12 assists.

"They played great, give them credit," Rivers said. "For a team that has been phenomenal down a stretch of games, I didn't think we were very good tonight. We've been as composed as any team that I've seen in a long time, and I thought quite honestly that we lost it a little bit at the end."

A 15-foot jumper by Gasol with 2:48 left snapped an 81-all tie and put the Lakers ahead for good. Allen's 3-pointer failed, and Gasol scored from close range off an assist from Bryant with two minutes left, putting Los Angeles up by four and sending the crowd of 18,997 into a frenzy.

Garnett answered with a jumper to draw the Celtics within two, but Gasol's three-point play with 1:28 left put the Lakers on top 88-83. Gasol then blocked a 3-pointer by Allen, setting up Trevor Ariza for a dunk that gave Los Angeles a seven-point lead with 1:12 to go. Bryant's basket completed the scoring.

"It was my first Christmas game, and I'm obviously blessed to be here," Garnett said. "There's a reason why teams are playing on this special day, so it had a playoff energy and a playoff atmosphere to it, absolutely. It's tough when you lose against anybody. We probably took a step back, but hats off to a good Laker team. Pau made big shots when he had to and Kobe put stress on the defense."

Boston's Eddie House made his only basket with 8:09 remaining to tie it at 75. Neither team led by more than two points after that until the Lakers took command.

Pierce scored five points and Allen added three during an 8-0 run that put Boston ahead 64-62. Then, with Bryant on the bench, Odom made two 3-pointers, and the Lakers outscored the Celtics 9-3 to finish the third period and take a 71-67 lead.

Vujacic scored eight points and Bryant added six during a 16-5 run to begin the second quarter, giving the Lakers a 39-29 lead - largest in the game for either team - and they were on top 51-45 at halftime.

Neither team led by more than three in the first quarter, which ended with the Celtics on top 24-23. Boston shot 61.1 percent to 47.6 percent for the Lakers, but committed six of its 18 turnovers.

Notes: Boston's Glen Davis returned to action after missing two games because of a concussion sustained in a traffic accident last Sunday, and had four points and four rebounds in 13 minutes. ... The Lakers played without backup point guard Jordan Farmar, who underwent knee surgery Wednesday and will be sidelined approximately eight weeks. ... The game marked the first time in NBA history that two teams met with so few losses (seven) this late in the season. ... The game was the 10th straight for the Lakers on Christmas. They have an overall record of 20-15 on Christmas including 11-6 at home. ... It was the Celtics' first game on Christmas since 2002. They have a 10-15 record, going 9-15 on the road and 1-0 at a neutral site. They have never played at home on Christmas. ... The game was the first on Christmas between the teams since 1970, when the Lakers won a 123-113 home decision.

12-26-2008, 12:56 PM
The win against Boston proves that the Lakers can compete with the defending champs. Hindi sila na-intimidate and played the Celtics in a physical manner. Sana tuloy-tuloy na ito.

01-05-2009, 03:01 PM
Lakers beat Blazers for 15th straight home win

LOS ANGELES(AP) Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 19 and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 100-86 Sunday night for their sixth consecutive victory and 15th straight at home.

LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 22 points and 11 rebounds, as all five starters scored in double figures. But the Blazers shot only 39 percent overall.

Facing the Trail Blazers for the first time since their season-opening, 96-76 win - Portland's lowest point total ever against the Lakers - the defending Western Conference champions pulled away with a 15-3 run that increased their four-point lead to 75-59 with 2:12 left in the third quarter.

Bryant and Gasol got the Lakers going with 16-foot jumpers, Derek Fisher added a 3-pointer and Sasha Vujacic capped the rally with a four-point play - converting the free throw after Rudy Fernandez fouled him on a 3-pointer. Vujacic, playing despite a case of tonsillitis, had 11 points in 26 minutes.

Vladimir Radmanovic had 16 points off the bench for the Lakers, 12 of them in the fourth quarter. Portland made only three of 14 shots during the first 6:06 of the quarter, all of them 3-pointers, and never got closer than 14 points.

The Lakers, hoping to get out to a fast start against a Portland lineup missing leading scorer Brandon Roy because of an injured right hamstring, didn't take their first lead until Trevor Ariza's two free throws put them ahead 51-50 with 52.5 seconds left in the first half. Portland led 25-19 through one quarter after forcing nine turnovers - all of them in a 7:25 span and one fewer than the Lakers had in Friday's win over Utah.

Notes: The Lakers have defeated four of the teams that have beaten the defending champion Boston Celtics - Portland, Golden State, Denver and New York. The only club to beat both of last year's NBA finalists is Indiana. ... Portland forced an average of 13.4 turnovers through their previous 33 games this season. The Lakers finished with 14. ... The Lakers have won 18 of their last 20 home games against Portland and five in a row. ... Lakers F Luke Walton didn't play because of inflammation in the big toe on his right foot. ... The Lakers haven't allowed more than 23 points by an opposing player in seven straight games.

source: lakers.com

01-06-2009, 03:59 PM
Bryant leads Lakers past Warriors, 130-113
12/29/2008 | 01:15 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant scored 31 points, Derek Fisher added 19 and the Los Angeles Lakers rolled to a 130-113 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.

There was no letdown by the Lakers after their intense Christmas Day victory over Boston in the teams' first meeting since the NBA finals last summer, won by the Celtics.

The night following the 92-83 loss in Los Angeles that ended their 19-game win streak, the Celtics fell to the Warriors 99-89 in San Francisco. It was the first time this season Boston had lost two in a row.

The Lakers, who hadn't played since Thursday, breezed to a relatively easy victory over the Warriors, who have won just twice in 19 games against them at Staples Center.

Sasha Vujacic had 17 points, Pau Gasol had 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Andrew Bynum chipped in with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Jamal Crawford returned to the Warriors' lineup after missing two games with a groin strain and scored 22 points. Marco Belinelli and Brandan Wright had 14 points apiece, and Andris Biedrins had eight points and 17 rebounds.

Bryant and most of both teams' regulars sat out the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles took control of the game with a 37-point third quarter that increased the lead from 65-58 at halftime to 102-85 heading into the final period.

Bryant had 21 points by halftime, going 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Vujacic scored 11 for Los Angeles in the first half.

Belinelli had 14 points, Crawford 11 and Biedrins had eight points and 15 rebounds in the half to help the Warriors stay within striking distance.

Bryant scored 13 points and Los Angeles was up 31-27 at the end of the first 12 minutes.

Crawford and Belinelli each scored nine for the Warriors in the first period, but Golden State committed five turnovers that the Lakers turned into nine points. The Warriors finished with 17 turnovers that Los Angeles converted into 31 points. – AP

01-06-2009, 04:04 PM
Bryant scores 40 in Lakers’ 113-100 win over Jazz
01/03/2009 | 02:13 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant scored 40 points and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 113-100 Friday night for their fifth straight win and 17th in 18 home games.

Pau Gasol added 21 points, giving him 10,001 for his career, and had 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who were coming off a four-day break.

Mehmet Okur had 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz, who have lost four of their six and three in a row on the road, where they are 7-11. Ronnie Brewer added 20 points, and Deron Williams had 10 points and 12 assists.

Paul Millsap extended his streak of double-doubles to 17 — longest active in the NBA — with 16 points and 17 rebounds despite playing with a strained left leg ligament.

Down 15 points to start the fourth quarter, Utah outscored the Lakers 11-2 to get within seven. Lamar Odom’s driving dunk gave the Lakers back their double-digit lead only to see Utah take it away again.

The Lakers didn’t help themselves when Bryant missed two consecutive shots and Odom turned the ball over before Andrei Kirilenko scored off his own steal to draw the Jazz to 97-93 with 2:59 remaining.

But it was all Los Angeles in the final 2:38. Trevor Ariza converted a fast-break driving layup, got fouled and made the free throw after the ball spun around in the basket. He then grabbed an offensive rebound and scored off Derek Fisher’s air ball to keep the Lakers ahead 104-93. Bryant hit a late 3-pointer and Ariza dunked to dismiss the team they played in last season’s Western Conference semifinals, where the Lakers won in six games.

The Jazz whittled a 13-point deficit to three points on a 3-pointer by C.J. Miles with 5½ minutes left in the third. They opened the quarter by outscoring the Lakers 19-8, helped by five in a row by Brewer.

But the Lakers repelled the threat. Andrew Bynum’s one-handed block sent Williams sprawling to the court, then Williams missed and Miles committed two consecutive turnovers while the Lakers kept converting on each possession.

By the end of the third, Los Angeles pushed its lead to 81-66 with a 17-4 run during which the Jazz was held without a field goal and coach Jerry Sloan and Williams received technicals during separate timeouts.

Bryant rested the first five minutes of the second, with the Lakers building a 20-point lead as he watched from the bench. He made his presence felt upon returning by scoring off a driving dunk and later hitting a 3-pointer that made it 53-33. Gasol scored the Lakers’ final four points that sent them into halftime with a 57-43 lead.

The Lakers built a 17-point lead in the opening quarter behind 55 percent field-goal shooting. The Jazz hit just 8-of-22 with Okur scoring 10 points while playing all 12 minutes. – AP

01-06-2009, 04:05 PM
Lakers beat Blazers for 15th straight home win
01/05/2009 | 01:08 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 19 and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 100-86 Sunday night for their sixth consecutive victory and 15th straight at home.

LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 22 points and 11 rebounds, as all five starters scored in double figures. But the Blazers shot only 39 percent overall.

Facing the Trail Blazers for the first time since their season-opening, 96-76 win — Portland’s lowest point total ever against the Lakers — the defending Western Conference champions pulled away with a 15-3 run that increased their four-point lead to 75-59 with 2:12 left in the third quarter. – AP

01-06-2009, 04:06 PM
L SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) - Los Angeles Lakers forward Luke Walton will be sidelined for at least two weeks by a foot injury.

Walton, who started 11 consecutive games before missing Sunday's 100-86 win over Portland, has sesamoiditis in his right foot and will wear a protective boot for a week, the team said Monday.

The condition is an irritation of the sesamoid bones that extend to the big toe and generally heals without surgery.

Walton had averaged 5.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists since moving into the starting lineup. Trevor Ariza started in his place against the Trail Blazers and had four points, five rebounds and two assists while playing 33 minutes.

01-07-2009, 04:08 PM
Nowitzki leads Mavericks over hurting Clippers
01/07/2009 | 01:49 PM
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DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki scored 34 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 37 seconds left right after he blocked a shot, and the Dallas Mavericks survived for a 107-102 victory over the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

The Mavericks needed a game-ending 11-1 run to avoid being upset at home by Los Angeles, which had only eight players in uniform because of injuries and a suspension.

Los Angeles, two days after a one-point loss to Detroit, overcame an 18-point deficit before halftime and led in the fourth quarter. The Clippers have lost eight consecutive games.

Rookie Eric Gordon led the Clippers with 32 points, but he was blocked driving for a layup with 48 seconds left by Nowitzki, who then hit a high-arching 11-footer at the other end for a 103-102 lead.

Gordon, who finished with his fifth consecutive 20-point game, then had a turnover on the next Clippers possession. He followed his 31 points against Detroit with another career-high scoring night.

The Clippers have gone multiple games without the injured Baron Davis (bruised tailbone), Zach Randolph (left knee), Mike Taylor (right thumb) and Chris Kaman (left knee). Plus, Ricky Davis served the second of his five-game NBA suspension for violating the league's drug policy.

Still, Los Angeles led for the first time since the opening 2 minutes of the game when Mardy Collins hit a 3-pointer to make it 95-93 with 6:38 left.

Jose Barea then made a 3-pointer to put Dallas back in front, but Al Thornton made three consecutive baskets, two layups before his 24-foot jumper put the Clippers up 101-95 with 2:39 left. That was Los Angeles' last field goal.

Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer, then Josh Howard scored before Nowitzki blocked Gordon's shot.

Howard had 22 points, while Brandon Bass had 13.

Thornton finished with 25 points and Collins had 17. Gordon and Collins both played more than 45 minutes.

Dallas got started with its highest-scoring quarter of the season, going up 37-22 when Jason Terry and Howard hit consecutive 3-pointers at the end of the first to cap a 15-2 spurt.

Nowitzki scored 10 in an early 12-0 run that push the Mavericks in front to stay until late.

Gordon scored the final nine points for the Clippers in the first half, including two free throws in the final second after being fouled on an inbound play to get Los Angeles within 64-54 after being fouled on an inbound play.

Dallas threw the ball away on an inbound play with 0.8 seconds left. Devean George, put in for defense and making his only appearance of the game, wrapped his arm around Gordon and was called for a foul.

The Clippers got within 76-75 after scoring eight straight points in the third quarter with baskets from four different players. That stretch started when Collins had a steal and turned that into a layup. - AP

01-09-2009, 06:28 PM
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01-26-2009, 04:53 PM
Gasol's 4th-quarter surge leads Lakers over Warriors
01/08/2009 | 03:24 PM
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OAKLAND, Calif. – Pau Gasol had 33 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, Kobe Bryant added 21 points and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit for their seventh victory in eight games, 114-106 over Golden State on Wednesday night.

Andrew Bynum had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, whose home loss to New Orleans on Tuesday snapped a six-game winning streak for the Western Conference leaders.

Los Angeles struggled for the second straight night before Gasol took charge against Golden State's undersized frontcourt, scoring six points during the decisive 12-2 run midway through the period and adding a clinching jump-hook with 57 seconds to play.

Jamal Crawford had 25 points and nine assists for Golden State, and Corey Maggette added 19 points before fouling out of the Warriors' fifth loss in six games. But after beating Boston late last month, Golden State gave another tough game to an NBA finalist, with Marco Belinelli largely limiting Bryant's scoring until Gasol opened up the game down the stretch, getting 14 points and eight rebounds in the fourth quarter alone.

Both teams were missing key contributors. Stephen Jackson, the Warriors' captain and second-leading scorer, sat out with a hamstring injury, while Lakers forward Lamar Odom didn't make the trip because of a bone bruise.

While Maggette played his second straight game for Golden State after missing 15 games with a strained hamstring, the Warriors lost starting forward Brandan Wright to a partially dislocated left shoulder late in the first half after Gasol dunked on him.

Trevor Ariza scored a season-high 17 points for the Lakers, playing 33 minutes in Odom's absence. Sasha Vujacic scored seven of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 7:19 left.

Odom injured his knee in the second quarter of the Lakers' loss to New Orleans, leaving coach Phil Jackson with just six healthy players from the nine-man rotation he regularly used earlier this season.

Los Angeles still started strong after the previous night's disappointment, jumping to a 17-point lead in the second quarter. But Wright and Crawford led a 16-2 Golden State run to close the gap before halftime, and Crawford's layup put Golden State ahead early in the third quarter.

The Warriors led 90-87 entering the fourth, but the clubs traded the lead until Vujacic's 3-pointer put Los Angeles up for good.

The Warriors played their NBA-low 14th home game in front of an enthusiastic sellout crowd, but their brutal travel schedule over the past month still doesn't let up until the weekend. Golden State, which hasn't played two games in the same city since Dec. 10-12, must travel to Portland on Saturday before returning home against Indiana on Sunday for the start of a seven-game homestand.

Notes:@ Warriors G Monta Ellis is one step closer to returning from his nasty offseason ankle injury. The club cleared him Wednesday for the final stage of rehabilitation before returning to practice and games. Ellis, who averaged 20.2 points last year, hasn't played since tearing up his ankle while crashing a motorized scooter in August. ... G Anthony Morrow wasn't with the Warriors while awaiting the birth of his child with his girlfriend. ... Derek Fisher had eight assists, but just nine points in 38 minutes on 3-of-10 shooting. - AP

01-26-2009, 04:54 PM
Bryant’s late surge gives Lakers win
01/10/2009 | 04:14 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant has become one of the best team players and leaders in the league. Still, when it’s winning time, he wants the ball.

With the game tied and the clock ticking down, Bryant ran off 23 seconds, then, with defenders lunging at him, coolly hit a turnaround, fadeaway jumper with three seconds remaining Friday night to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 121-119 victory over the stubborn Indiana Pacers.

Bryant’s 36 points included the Lakers’ final 11 of the game, and he also finished with 13 assists and seven rebounds.

“I just played the game and made them (the Pacers) make decisions," Bryant said. “In the fourth quarter, you just have to stay home a little more."

He said his last shot felt good, “but I had shots in the past, like the one in Miami that felt good, but it came in and out. So I made sure that one stayed down."

Mike Dunleavy made a 3-pointer with 26.4 seconds remaining to pull the Pacers even at 119 before Bryant closed the scoring. Indiana took a timeout immediately after Bryant’s basket, then inbounded the ball but could not get a shot off before the buzzer.

Bryant went 15-of-17 from the free throw line and 10-of-20 from the floor. His shooting was off early in the final quarter, but he kept putting the ball up. The final 11 points were all he scored in the period.

“We couldn’t stop Kobe," said the Pacers’ Danny Granger, who had 28 points when he fouled out with 47 seconds remaining. “He was making shots, getting to the free throw line and that’s basically the tale of the game."

Dunleavy said, “Kobe made a tough shot like he’s done so many times before. We still had 3 seconds to get something off and we were looking for a 3-pointer. But obviously it didn’t pan out."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Bryant remained patient and determined down the stretch.

“He went dry there (earlier) in the fourth quarter," Jackson said. “He had some really good looks and wasn’t hitting them, but he didn’t get frustrated.

“He stayed with it and made some plays for us down the stretch."

The Lakers improved their home record to 19-2 and remained tied with Cleveland for the best overall record in the league at 29-6. The Cavaliers beat Boston 98-83 at home earlier Friday to improve their home mark to 19-0.

Troy Murphy had 24 points for Indiana and Dunleavy finished with 22.

Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, and Andrew Bynum had 20 points.

The game was tight all the way, but the Lakers never trailed after an 11-2 run that began with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter. Bryant had nine points during that spurt, which gave Los Angeles a 96-84 lead heading into the fourth.

Gasol had 17 points and Bryant 14 during the high-scoring first half, but Granger had 16 and Murphy 14 and the Lakers were up just 68-66. No more than six points separated the teams in the half, when there were 10 lead changes. – AP

01-26-2009, 04:55 PM
Bynum leads Lakers past Heat, 108-105
01/12/2009 | 01:16 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Andrew Bynum scored a season-high 24 points, including a go-ahead follow shot with 18.5 seconds remaining, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat 108-105 Sunday night to become the first Western Conference team to reach 30 victories.

After Bryant tipped in Kobe Bryant's miss to give the Lakers a 104-102 lead, Chris Quinn missed a baseline jumper. Vladimir Radmanovic got the rebound and was fouled with 6.6 seconds left. Radmanovic, an 83.3 percent shooter from the foul line, made both shots to give him a season-high 18 points and the Lakers a four-point lead.

Daequan Cook made a 3-pointer to cut the Lakers' lead to 106-105, but Bryant made two foul shots with 4.2 seconds left to complete the scoring. Cook missed a desperation 3-pointer as time expired.

Bryant added 19 points and seven assists, Pau Gasol had 14 points and 18 rebounds to match a career high, and Derek Fisher had 13 points and a season-high 11 assists for the Lakers (30-6), who won for the ninth time in 10 games.

Orlando and Boston each got their 30th wins earlier Sunday, but the Magic have eight losses and the Celtics nine.

Dwyane Wade led the Heat (19-17) with 27 points and nine assists, and rookie Michael Beasley scored 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. Cook added 17 points, and Shawn Marion and Quinn added 12 points apiece.

A tip-in by Gasol, a 3-pointer by Radmanovic and two free throws by Gasol gave the Lakers a 96-90 lead with 4:08 to play. It was 100-93 when Beasley scored seven points during a 9-2 run that tied the game at 102 with 38 seconds left, setting the stage for Bynum.

A basket by Beasley to start the fourth quarter moved the Heat within two points before Sasha Vujacic scored five points during an 8-2 spurt to give the Lakers an 85-77 lead. But Wade scored seven points and Udonis Haslem added four during a 13-4 run that gave the Heat a 90-89 lead with 5 1/2 minutes left.

The Lakers scored the first 12 points of the third quarter for a 62-51 lead. The Heat missed seven shots and committed two turnovers before a 3-pointer by Cook broke a scoreless drought of nearly five minutes.

The Heat drew within four points before Bryant scored six straight and assisted on a 3-pointer by Fisher, putting Los Angeles ahead 73-60. Miami responded by outscoring the Lakers 13-4 to finish the third period to draw within four again.

With Bryant on the bench, Wade scored seven points during an 18-10 run to start the second quarter to give Miami a 39-36 lead, and the Heat led 51-50 at halftime. Bryant shot 1-of-3 in scoring only five points in the half, but had six assists — all in the first quarter. Gasol was also held to five points, shooting 1-of-8.

Bynum, averaging 12.2 points, scored 12 in the first quarter to help the Lakers take a 26-21 lead.

Notes:@ The Heat held the Lakers to a season-low point total in beating them 89-87 last month in Miami. Wade, the NBA's leading scorer, had 35 points in that game. ... Lakers F Lamar Odom (bone bruise, right knee) sat out his third game. He's listed as day-to-day. Teammates Jordan Farmar (left knee) and Luke Walton (right foot) are also sidelined. ... The Heat are 1-2 on a franchise-record seven game road trip, which continues Tuesday night at Minnesota. ... Miami has lost four straight games to the Lakers at Staples Center since beating them 104-102 on Christmas Day in 2004. ... The Lakers are 20-2 at home and 10-4 on the road. Their 22 home games are tied for the most in the NBA with Charlotte, and their 14 road games are a league low. - AP

01-26-2009, 04:56 PM
Bryant scores 33 to lead Lakers over Rockets
01/14/2009 | 12:45 PM
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HOUSTON – Kobe Bryant sank a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left and scored 33 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the undermanned Houston Rockets 105-100 on Tuesday night.

Bryant had 13 points in the fourth quarter, finally getting the better of Houston's Von Wafer, who scored a career-high 23 points in place of the injured Tracy McGrady.

Carl Landry had a season-high 21 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who also played without Ron Artest.

McGrady is out at least two weeks to fully recuperate from a sore left knee that's bothered him for months. Artest has missed five of the last six games with a sprained right ankle. An MRI exam also showed a bone bruise that the Rockets say will keep him out 7-10 more days.

Shane Battier swished a 3-pointer from the corner just before the shot clock ran out to put the Rockets up 100-99. Bryant answered with a deep 3-pointer from the wing on the Lakers' next trip and held his follow-through as the crowd went silent.

Rafer Alston missed a floater, got his own rebound and was fouled, but missed two free throws with 9.6 seconds left. Pau Gasol hit one of two free throws with 7.5 seconds remaining and Yao Ming missed a shot in the lane on the Rockets' last chance to tie.

Trevor Ariza added 14 points for the Lakers, who've won 10 of 11.

Yao had 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Rockets, who lost for just the second time in their last 11 home games.

The Rockets hit nine of their first 13 shots and Wafer's 3-pointer with 5:22 left in the first quarter put Houston up it 20-11. The Lakers answered with a 10-2 spurt and the Rockets led only 26-25 after the first quarter.

Wafer, the Lakers' second-round pick in the 2005 draft, grabbed a loose ball early in the second quarter and beat Bryant down the floor for a dunk. Later, Bryant spun around Wafer and missed a layup. Wafer got the ball and threw a long pass to Brent Barry for an easy layup.

Houston led 38-34 when Dikembe Mutombo made his season debut with 8:01 left in the half. The 42-year-old Mutombo had two baskets and an offensive rebound in just over four minutes of action.

The Rockets shot a season-high 62.5 percent in the first half, but the game was tied at 54. Bryant outscored Wafer only 16-14 in the first half; Bryant was 6-for-17 from the field and Wafer was 6-for-7.

Yao dominated the first nine minutes of the third quarter with 11 points and six rebounds. He earned his fourth foul with 2:53 left in the quarter and earned a rare technical when he kicked a courtside table going to the bench.

Wafer hit a deep jumper and drove the lane for another basket to keep Houston ahead. He swished a jumper from the top of the key in the final minute for an 82-78 Houston lead. - AP

01-26-2009, 04:56 PM
Spurs beat Lakers in Western finals rematch
01/15/2009 | 01:11 PM
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SAN ANTONIO – Roger Mason hit a jumper with 10 seconds left and made a free throw after being fouled by Derek Fisher, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers 112-111 on Wednesday night in the first meeting between the teams since the Western Conference finals.

After Mason's three-point play, the Lakers failed to get a shot off when Trevor Ariza was called for traveling.

The Lakers rallied from 11 points behind in the fourth quarter and led when Kobe Bryant hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left.

Manu Ginobili led San Antonio with 27 points, and Bryant had 29 for Los Angeles. The Lakers lost for only the second time in their last 12 games.

The Lakers won the playoff series last year in five games losing the NBA finals to Boston. The Lakers and Spurs will play twice more this season.

Ginobili, the Sixth Man of the Year last season, was 9-of-15 from the field in his usual role off the bench for the Spurs, 10-2 in its last 12 and 25-12 overall.

The Spurs led 102-91 early in the fourth quarter on Tony Parker's layup. But the Lakers scored nine straight points to cut it to 102-100 with 4:45 left. - AP

01-26-2009, 04:57 PM
Kobe Bryant rues misses as Lakers lose to Magic
01/18/2009 | 01:02 AM
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LOS ANGELES – Two late missed jump shots by Kobe Bryant spoiled a banner performance by the Los Angles star, and allowed the Orlando Magic to beat the Lakers 109-103 in Friday's match of NBA divisional leaders.

Orlando, which has stayed under the rader this season while attention is lavished on the Lakers, Boston and Cleveland, made it six straight wins, giving the Magic the league's second-best record behind the Cavaliers.

Jameer Nelson, who finished with 28 points, got 10 of the Magic's last 12 points, including a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left that put Orlando up by a point, and he then sank four free throws.

Bryant had 28 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists to post the 15th triple-double of his career and first since April 1, 2005, but was left to rue two errant jumpers in the waning moments.

01-26-2009, 04:58 PM
Kobe, Gasol lead Lakers past Cavaliers 105-88
01/20/2009 | 03:32 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant and LeBron James tussled to a virtual standoff Monday night. But Bryant's supporting cast was far more effective, and that was the difference as the Los Angeles Lakers beat Cleveland 105-88 to snap a five-game losing streak to the Cavaliers.

Bryant had 20 points, six rebounds and 12 assists while shooting 9-of-22. Pau Gasol led Los Angeles with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Andrew Bynum and Sasha Vujacic scored 14 points each and Derek Fisher added 11 for the Lakers, whose 32-8 record is tops in the Western Conference.

James had 23 points and nine rebounds, but shot just 9-of-25. Mo Williams added 16 points, six rebounds and five assists and Sasha Pavlovic scored 12 for the Cavaliers (31-8), who absorbed their most one-sided loss of the season.

Bryant scored nine points during a 16-7 run to start the fourth quarter, giving the Lakers a 91-73 lead with 6:35 remaining. But just when the game seemed out of reach, the Cavaliers scored 11 straight points in three minutes to make it 91-84.

A jumper by Fisher ended the drought, and after a foul shot by James, Gasol scored on a dunk and Trevor Ariza made a 3-pointer to give the Lakers a 13-point lead, and the Cavaliers went quietly after that.

Gasol scored eight points and Bryant added six during a 22-10 run that gave the Lakers a 75-64 lead — largest of the game for either team to that stage. It was 75-66 entering the fourth quarter.

Wally Szczeriak scored seven straight points to give Cleveland a 38-37 lead, and the Cavaliers led 50-49 at halftime. James shot 4-of-11 and scored 10 points in the half while Bryant went 2-of-5 including a 15-footer with less than a second left in the half for five points, but he had six assists.

Bryant began the game guarding James, and the fans reacted with a murmur of anticipation when they saw the matchup.

Bryant, guarded by Pavlovic early on, dislocated the ring finger on his shooting hand in the opening two minutes, but trainer Gary Vitti popped it back into place and Bryant played on without coming out of the game or showing any ill effects. - AP

01-26-2009, 04:58 PM
Bynum shines as Lakers rout Wizards 117-97
01/23/2009 | 03:52 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Andrew Bynum is the first to acknowledge that his two best games of the season came against two of the worst teams in the NBA.

It's all about gaining confidence and strengthening his resolve for the postseason so that the 7-foot center can be a dynamic force for the Los Angeles Lakers — something they decidedly lacked last year in the NBA finals after he underwent season-ending knee surgery last January.

Bynum had 23 points and 14 rebounds Thursday night in a 117-97 rout of the Washington Wizards, just 24 hours after he recorded a career-high 42 points and 15 boards against the Clippers.

"I'm happy for him. If Andrew can continue to have that type of presence in the middle — no matter who the other team is — we're going to be a much better team," Lakers point guard Derek Fisher said. "He seems to just be getting more comfortable on the court, physically. He came into the season off a serious knee surgery and really hadn't played basketball since last January."

Bynum, who had a career-high 42 points along with 15 rebounds against the Clippers, played just 27 minutes against the Wizards and sat out the final 8:28. Phil Jackson kept the rest of the starters on the bench throughout the fourth quarter with the Lakers leading 97-68. Pau Gasol had 18 points.

"We went out there and moved the ball," Bynum said. "Everybody got shots. They were undermanned, and we were able to take advantage of them on the block."

This back-to-back set with the Clippers and Wizards wasn't much of a challenge for the defending Western Conference champions, whose 34-8 start is their best since 1971-72. Washington fell to 9-33, one night after the Clippers' record dropped to 9-32.

"The schedule is the schedule," Fisher said. "I think what makes it feel good, having this type of back-to-back is that we were able to take care of business the way we should have."

The Lakers' .809 winning percentage (34-8) is the best in the NBA, although Boston leads them by a half-game in the overall standings by virtue of their 90-80 win at Orlando in the only other game Thursday night. The defending champion Celtics have played three more games than the Lakers.

On the third anniversary of his franchise-record 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors, Kobe Bryant had 11 points, five assists and four rebounds in 28 minutes.

Earlier in the day, he was selected to start in the All-Star game for the 11th consecutive season. He was the MVP of the event in 2002 and 2007, joining Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal as the only Lakers to win the award twice.

Los Angeles posted its eighth wire-to-wire victory this season — and second against Washington. Caron Butler, who spent the 2004-05 campaign with the Lakers, had 12 points and six assists. He had 26 points the last time the teams met on Dec. 5, but missed a 3-point jumper that would have given the Wizards a victory. Instead, the Lakers won 106-104.

The rematch was no contest, as the Wizards fell to the Lakers for the fifth straight time. Los Angeles led 72-47 at halftime after outscoring the Wizards 15-5 over the final 3 1/2 minutes of the second quarter.

"It's all about how the defense is playing us," Bryant said. "We went through a stretch where teams felt like they could double on Pau, but we made them pay. Now they're trying to do the same thing with Andrew, and we're making them pay again. Teams are trying new things defensively against us to see what works."

The first half ended on a long no-look, slingshot pass from Bryant to Bynum all alone under the basket for a dunk after Trevor Ariza stole the ball from Mike James near midcourt. The 72 points were a season high for the Lakers in one half, as was their 69.2 shooting percentage.

Antawn Jamison scored 19 points for the woeful Wizards, who have lost eight of their last 10 games and 18 of 23.

Washington is 8-23 since Ed Tapscott took over as head coach for the fired Eddie Jordan. The Wizards, who beat Sacramento 110-107 on Wednesday, are 0-9 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season and have yet to win consecutive road games.

"They broke us down and beat us up," Tapscott said. "They play the game at a very high level and they sustain that level. We had some decent moments, but we had far too many bad moments tonight."

Bryant, playing with a dislocated ring finger on his shooting hand, came in averaging 23.8 points, 11.3 assists and 9.0 rebounds in his previous four games, with two triple-doubles. - AP

01-26-2009, 05:00 PM
Lakers breeze to 99-85 victory over Spurs
01/26/2009 | 08:53 AM
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LOS ANGELES – A matchup of the Western Conference's best teams turned out to be a mismatch.

Kobe Bryant scored 22 points before sitting out the fourth quarter, Pau Gasol added 16 points, five rebounds and four assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers routed the San Antonio Spurs 99-85 Sunday.

The win was the fourth straight and 14th in 17 games for the Lakers (35-8), whose .814 winning percentage is the best in the NBA although the defending champion Boston Celtics (37-9) lead them by a half-game in the overall standings by virtue of their 124-100 victory over Dallas earlier Sunday.

Trevor Ariza came off the bench to score 17 points to match his season high, Andrew Bynum had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Jordan Farmar added 14 points for the Lakers. Gasol was the only Los Angeles starter to play in the final period. Lakers reserves outscored their San Antonio counterparts 39-32.

Tony Parker had 19 points and six assists and Tim Duncan added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs (29-14), who lost for just the fourth time in their past 18 games. Neither played in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers outscored the Spurs 10-2 to start the fourth quarter for an 89-68 lead, and the Spurs didn't pose a serious threat after that.

Bryant and Derek Fisher made 3-pointers and Bynum added two free throws to begin the third quarter, giving the Lakers a 59-45 lead, and a three-point play by Gasol made it 68-53. It was 79-66 entering the final period.

Farmar, returning to action after missing 18 games because of an injured left knee, outscored San Antonio 7-2 by himself to give the Lakers a 40-34 lead. The Spurs responded with a 7-0 run before the Lakers outscored them 11-4 to finish the second period for a 51-45 halftime lead.

Bryant scored eight points in the first 6 1/2 minutes to help the Lakers take a 16-9 lead, but he wouldn't score again until making a pair of foul shots with 3:42 left before halftime. Michael Finley made two 3-pointers to spark a 14-6 run to finish the first quarter, putting the Spurs on top 23-22. - AP

01-28-2009, 04:09 PM
Diaw, Brown lead Bobcats past Lakers, 117-110
01/28/2009 | 03:26 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Boris Diaw had 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, reserve Shannon Brown scored five of his 14 points in the second overtime, and the Charlotte Bobcats continued their surprising recent domination of the Los Angeles Lakers by beating them 117-110 on Tuesday night.

The win was the Bobcats' fifth in their last six games against the Lakers, who got 38 points from Kobe Bryant before the Los Angeles star fouled out for the first time this season in the final minute of the first overtime.

Raymond Felton had 22 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and nine assists, Raja Bell added 17 points and Gerald Wallace scored 15 before leaving late in the fourth quarter after a flagrant foul by Andrew Bynum knocked him to the floor.

Bryant had eight rebounds and five assists to go with his 38 points. Bynum added 24 points and 14 rebounds and Derek Fisher scored 14 for the Lakers (35-9), who had their four-game winning streak snapped while losing for just the fourth time in 27 home games.

Brown's 3-pointer with 2:14 remaining put the Bobcats on top 110-107, and they led the rest of the way. Okafor scored four points around a three-point play by Bynum and Felton added two foul shots with 25.2 seconds left, giving Charlotte (19-26) a 116-110 lead and clinching the victory.

The Lakers rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final 2 1/2 minutes to force the first overtime, and got two baskets from Bryant and another from Bynum to begin the first extra period up 99-93 lead with 2:55 left.

But the Bobcats came back, and a 3-pointer by Diaw with 32.2 seconds to play tied the game at 103. Bryant was out of the game at that stage, having fouled out with 39.8 seconds left after scoring eight points in the first overtime.

Neither team got a good shot off after that, forcing the second overtime.

Diaw scored seven points during a 9-0 run that gave the Bobcats a 90-83 lead before seven points by Bryant and a 3-pointer by Fisher with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter tied the game at 93. Felton missed a 22-footer as time expired to force the first overtime.

Neither team led by more than four points in the third quarter until Charlotte scored six straight for a 70-63 lead with 3 1/2 minutes left in the period. The Bobcats led 76-70 entering the fourth quarter.

The Bobcats outscored the Lakers 10-3 for a 36-26 lead midway through the second quarter. Gasol had shot 2-of-10 and Bryant was 0-of-5 at that stage.

Bryant scored for the first time on a jumper with 5:20 left in the period, and added 10 more points before halftime, helping the Lakers outscore the Bobcats 22-13 to draw within one point.

Lakers forward Trevor Ariza left with 4:52 left in the second quarter after suffering a concussion and didn't return. He's not expected to miss any playing time.

Notes:@ The game was the Lakers' first overtime contest of the season, leaving New Orleans as the only team that hasn't gone into overtime. ... The Lakers' 16 first-quarter points tied a season-low. ... The Lakers, who've played an NBA-high 27 home games and a league-low 17 road games, open a six-game trip Friday night at Minnesota. They're 23-4 at home and 12-5 away. They'll play 22 of their next 31 games on the road. ... The Lakers are 4-5 overall against the Bobcats, who joined the NBA as an expansion team in 2004. ... The Bobcats are 12-10 since acquiring Diaw and Bell from Phoenix last month. ... The Lakers have a 12-6 record against Eastern Conference teams this season and the Bobcats are 9-6 against the West. - AP

02-03-2009, 01:13 PM
61 points for KB24...dinaig nya ang 55 points ni MJ sa MSG..

02-03-2009, 05:25 PM
61 points for KB24...dinaig nya ang 60 points ni MJ sa MSG..

actually it was Bernard King who scored 60 as a Knick in the Garden. As an opponent. MJ had 55..

02-04-2009, 08:59 AM
mali..bernard king pala yung 60..55 kay MJ..thanks aircanda for the correction.. ;D

02-04-2009, 11:28 AM
mali..bernard king pala yung 60..55 kay MJ..thanks aircanda for the correction.. ;D

no problemo.. :)

02-05-2009, 03:24 PM
Kobe scores 36 to lead Lakers past Raptors
02/05/2009 | 10:43 AM
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TORONTO – Kobe Bryant scored 36 points, Pau Gasol added 31 and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 115-107 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight victory and eighth in nine games.

Lamar Odom had 13 points, and Derek Fisher added 12 for Los Angeles.

Joey Graham had a career-high 24 points, and Jermaine O'Neal added 22 for Toronto. The Raptors have lost four straight. - AP

02-08-2009, 10:18 AM
the 'stache is going to LA.

the headache that is vladimir radmanovic is going to the 'cats.

02-08-2009, 04:48 PM
When I watched a Charlotte game earlier this season, I almost didn't recognize Adam Morrison with his new short haircut, which does look better on him than his previous long-haired and shaggy appearance. Let's see if Morrison can get find more success in California as he moves on to his 2nd NBA team.

02-11-2009, 04:59 PM
Lakers stop Cavs' home win streak in 101-91 win
02/09/2009 | 09:28 AM
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CLEVELAND – No second All-Star. No triple-double for LeBron James. And now, no more home winning streak. It's been a rough few days for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Lamar Odom scored a season-high 28 points, Kobe Bryant added 19 and the streak-breaking Los Angeles Lakers handed Cleveland its first loss at home this season, 101-91 on Sunday.

The Cavaliers came in 23-0 at Quicken Loans Arena, but were stopped by the Lakers, who ended Boston's 19-game winning streak on Christmas Day and halted a 12-game run by the Celtics earlier this week.

James finished with 16 points on just 5-of-20 shooting for Cleveland, which hadn't lost at home since Game 5 against Washington in the first round of last season's playoffs.

The Lakers weren't intimidated in the NBA's rowdiest arena and went 6-0 on a road trip that also included stops in Minnesota, Memphis, New York, Toronto and Boston.

Pau Gasol added 18 points with 12 rebounds for Los Angeles, which played a solid all-around game and made just six turnovers — none over the final 19:28. The Lakers' trip started rocky with center Andruw Bynum injuring his knee against the Grizzlies, but it couldn't have ended any better.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 22 to lead Cleveland. Mo Williams, whose All-Star snub had infuriated the Cavs, scored 19 and James finished with 12 assists and eight rebounds. It was James' first game since his apparent historic triple-double at Madison Square Garden was downgraded when the league took away one of his 10 rebounds.

Odom, who added a season-best 17 rebounds, scored 15 in the third quarter, when the Lakers outscored the Cavaliers 31-16 to turn a 10-point deficit into a 82-77 lead entering the fourth.

Odom scored 13 of Los Angeles' last 16 points to close the quarter, capping his one-man scorefest with a two-handed dunk off a miss in the final second as the Lakers became just the fourth team this season to lead Cleveland at home after three.

The Lakers pushed their lead to 10 before the Cavaliers rallied and closed to 93-89 on two free throws by Ilgauskas with 3:06 left. But Bryant, who was battling flulike symptoms, hit a high-arching fadeaway, and Gasol dropped one of two free throws to make it 96-89 when the jumbo scoreboard above midcourt inside Quicken Loans Arena went dark, a symbolic moment for Cleveland's players and fans.

James was stripped on the Cavs' next possession, and Gasol made two more free throws and scored on a putback as the Lakers put an exclamation point on one of their biggest wins this season.

Cleveland's crowd was at a playoff pitch from the outset for one of the most anticipated games of the season, a matchup of the league's top stars, both leading MVP candidates, and two of the NBA's best teams.

But the game never materialized into a Bryant vs. James affair as Odom stole the spotlight.

Earlier this week, Lakers coach Phil Jackson attributed some of Cleveland's dominance at home to a raucous crowd that may influence the officials.

"They all wear No. 23 and help him throw that (expletive) up in the air when he's at the scorer's desk," Jackson said. "He gets away with murder, on top of it, on his home court."

Jackson slightly backed off from those remarks before the game.

"I'm just saying, it's home court," he said. "There are going to be more fans who will be involved in every bump and grind and whatever happens individually to him. Those things will affect the decisions of referees."

James hadn't heard Jackson's remarks.

"Me get calls?" he said in a disbelieving tone. "You guys know Phil. He always makes a comment before a big game or rivalry game. He always says something to throw people's focus off. But you guys know that I don't get as many calls as I should get. We're not going to go there."

James was careful not to complain about losing his triple-double in New York, but he was clearly miffed by the league's decision.

"Um. Should I say something?" he wondered before opting to keep his opinion a secret. "We won the basketball game and that's all that matters."

Notes:@ Cavs F Sasha Pavlovic sprained his right ankle late in the first quarter and did not return. Pavlovic had missed Cleveland's two previous games with the flu. ... Before the game, Jackson was told Celtics coach Doc Rivers was fined $15,000 by the NBA for complaining about the officiating following Boston's overtime loss to the Lakers on Thursday night. "Is that all?" Jackson said. "It should have been more. That's Boston." ... Lakers F Adam Morrison, acquired in a trade from Charlotte on Saturday for Vladimir Radmanovic, has not yet taken his physical. - AP

02-11-2009, 05:00 PM
Bryant reaches 23,000 point-mark in win over Thunder
02/11/2009 | 02:17 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant showed no lingering effects from the flu, scoring 34 points and becoming the youngest player in NBA history to reach 23,000 in the Los Angeles Lakers' 105-98 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

Pau Gasol had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Lamar Odom had 12 points and a season-high 18 boards for the Lakers, just back from a 6-0 trip they concluded with wins against Boston and Cleveland.

Bryant had chills and fever and needed intravenous fluids at halftime of Sunday's game against the Cavaliers.

Although Los Angeles has the league's best record and Oklahoma City one of the worst, the Thunder stayed close most of the game, but they trailed the entire second half.

Kevin Durant finished with 31 points, his fifth 30-point game in a row, and 10 rebounds in the loss. Russell Westbrook had 17 points and nine rebounds.

With fans chanting "MVP," Bryant made a free throw with 5:13 left in the second quarter to become the youngest player in NBA history with 23,000 points at 30 years, 171 days old. He bounced the first of two free throws off the front of the rim, the backboard and in for his 14th point of the game. He joined 20 others in league history who've reached the mark.

Wilt Chamberlain was formerly the youngest at 30 years, 176 days. He still ranks as the fastest to 23,000, reaching it in 606 games, while Bryant, who came straight from high school to the NBA, reached it in his 917th game.

Los Angeles held a 13-point lead at halftime, but the Thunder cut the deficit to 80-73 by the end of the third quarter. - AP

02-11-2009, 05:05 PM
After a six-game road trip, the Lakers are back in their home court scoring an easy win against the Thunder.
Sana tuloy-tuloy na ang momentum ng team and continue to win games kahit injured pa si Bynum.
;) ;) ;)

02-20-2009, 08:43 AM
Gasol named FIBA Europe player of the year
Source: http://www.nba.com/2009/news/02/19/gasolfiba.20090219/index.html

FIBA Europe announced on Thursday that Spanish superstar Pau Gasol has been named the 2008 FIBA Europe Player of the Year by fans and a panel of expert voters.

Gasol finished ahead of fellow Spaniard Rudy Fernandez and 2005 winner Dirk Nowitzki, among others, to claim the prize.

The 2.15m center led Spain in points, rebounds and blocked shots at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where his team claimed a

Gasol's teammate Rudy Fernandez finished second. silver medal.

Those numbers included some herculean performances.

The Barcelona native scored 31 point and grabbed nine rebounds in a win over Angola and dominated Croatia to the tune of 20 point and 10 boards. He also performed admirably in the gold medal game against highly fancied Team USA, scoring 21 points and pulling down six rebounds.

Domestically Gasol helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the 2008 NBA Finals after being traded from Memphis mid-season. He averaged 18.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots in 27 games with the Lakers.

"Pau Gasol's performance this summer in Beijing proved how worthy he is of this award," said FIBA Europe President George Vassilakopoulos.

"There are few players more passionate about playing for their country then Pau, and that passion is evident on the court."

"Pau is just now entering the prime of his career. He was a joy to watch in Beijing, not only because of his physical skills but becuase of the obvious pride he takes in playing for his country." added Secretary General Nar Zanolin.

Following Gasol, Fernandez and Nowitzki in the top five of the voting were Ramunas Siskauskas of Lithuania and France's Tony Parker.
Congratulations, Pau!

02-20-2009, 01:59 PM
Jazz end Lakers 7-game run with 113-109 win
02/12/2009 | 01:23 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY – Deron Williams had 31 points and 11 assists and the Utah Jazz snapped the Los Angeles Lakers' seven-game winning streak with a 113-109 victory Wednesday night.

Mehmet Okur scored 22 points, CJ Miles had 17 and Ronnie Brewer added 16 to give the injury-plagued Jazz their fourth win in the last five games.

Kobe Bryant scored 37 points and Lamar Odom had 19 points and 19 rebounds, but the Lakers allowed the Jazz to shoot a season-high 58.6 percent.

The Jazz didn't score from the field and made 2-for-8 from the line in a nearly four-minute stretch in the fourth quarter to give the Lakers a last gasp.

Odom and Bryant combined for 10 points and Bryant's 3-pointer gave the Lakers their first lead of the fourth quarter, 105-104, at the 1:36 mark.

Sandwiched around Bryant's steal and layup, Paul Millsap made a three-point play for Utah and Okur hit a three-pointer to put Utah up, 110-107.

Williams made 3-of-6 free throws in the last 25 seconds while Derek Fisher missed two 3-point attempts and Bryant misfired once to clinch the Jazz win.

The Lakers closed the gap to 91-90, but Brewer sparked the Jazz with a series of scintillating plays. His reverse dunk started a 10-2 run that featured a steal, a block and another dunk over Bryant to give Utah a 101-92 lead with 5:59 to play. But Brewer missed four consecutive foul shots to open the door for L.A.

Williams has averaged 31 points in his last five games and is showing that he is finally healthy after missing 13 of Utah's first 15 games with a sprained ankle and later suffering from swelling in the knee.

He made 12-of-17 shots and his 11th assist was a Okur's 3-pointer with 42.8 seconds left.

After Williams drove the lane for a basket in the third quarter, Bryant switched to guard the Utah point guard. But Williams promptly drove past him for a layup and a foul. On the next possession, Williams got Bryant going backward and then hit a pull-up jumper. Utah led 80-73 with 2:55 left in the period.

The Jazz often double-teamed Bryant and eliminated any easy drives to the basket. Gambling to leave his teammates open on the perimeter paid off for Utah as Los Angeles went 5-of-19 from beyond the arc.

The last time the Lakers played in Salt Lake City they beat the Jazz in Game 6 of the 2008 Western Conference semifinals to win that physical series, 4-2, and this game turned very chippy as well.

Neither team led by more than nine points and the Lakers, though they boast best road record (18-6) in the NBA, seemed tired at times in playing seventh away from home in eight games.

The Jazz shot 62.5 percent over the first two periods and still trailed 63-61 at the half as the Lakers outrebounded Utah, 22-13. - AP

02-20-2009, 02:00 PM
Shaq and Kobe winners again in All-Star game
02/16/2009 | 12:42 PM
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PHOENIX – Shaq danced, Kobe dazzled.

And just like old times, they won again.

Bryant led all scorers with 27 points, O'Neal partied his way back onto the All-Star stage with 17 in just 11 minutes, and the Western Conference beat the East 146-119 Sunday night.

Back on the same team for the first time in nearly five years, the three-time champions shared the game MVP award. They helped the West get untracked after an awful start, then teamed up for a few buckets that helped blow it open in the third quarter.

And they did it in the ways that made them so different — Bryant with his cold-as-ice stare and focus, O'Neal as the oversized clown who made fans and foes alike laugh.

It was their first time on the floor as teammates since the 2004 NBA finals. O'Neal was traded to Miami that summer, breaking apart a duo that produced three straight titles but was perhaps better known for its frequent feuding that made the breakup inevitable.

"It felt like flashbacks," O'Neal said during an interview on TNT. "It felt like '99 to '02."

Bryant and O'Neal shared a slight hug after being announced as MVPs, then playfully fought over the trophy commissioner David Stern handed to them.

Amare Stoudemire scored 19 for the West, which bounced back from its loss last year in New Orleans, when Bryant was limited to just a few minutes of action while resting a dislocated pinkie finger.

LeBron James led the East with 20 points. Paul Pierce and Dwyane Wade each scored 18.

O'Neal missed the All-Star game last year after 14 straight selections, and he brought back his unmatched entertaining abilities. Players were introduced on a stage behind the Jabbawockeez, a hip-hop dance group. O'Neal, the last reserve to come out, was wearing one of their masks and boogied along with them before taking his spot on the court.

"That was freestyle," O'Neal said.

He later jazzed up a comedy skit in which players sang love songs for a fake Valentine's Day CD with an energetic rendition of Billy Ocean's "Caribbean Queen."

The weekend festivities were a welcome distraction for Phoenix basketball fans, whose disappointing Suns were apparently in the process of dismantling their team while the fun was going on around them.

Phoenix coach Terry Porter will be fired Monday and replaced by assistant Alvin Gentry, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke Sunday night on condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not been made.

The changes may not stop there.

Stoudemire, who started for the West, is the biggest name involved in trade rumors ahead of next week's deadline. Just in case he won't be seen again for a while, Stoudemire earned a pair of loud ovations before the game from the celebrity-filled crowd that included Muhammad Ali, plus Sen. John McCain sitting four seats away from Spike Lee.

O'Neal also could be moved, and he showed he's still got plenty of game left if somebody wants him.

The East started quickly, while the West missed nine of its first 11 shots and trailed 20-10 when West coach Phil Jackson called timeout and inserted O'Neal with 5:44 remaining in the first quarter. The West scored the next 11 points with Shaq and Kobe on the floor, part of a 19-0 run that made it 27-20.

O'Neal, enjoying a resurgence this season after an injury-plagued 2007-08, had three baskets and set up another during the run. There was little interaction between he and Bryant, who both insist they've patched things up, aside from normal basketball plays.

O'Neal returned midway through the third quarter with the West already ahead by double digits. Bryant set him up for a layup, then made one himself for a 97-85 lead.

O'Neal scored the next eight West points, including one basket when Bryant fed him for a dunk. Another came when he ran a give-and-go with Hornets guard Chris Paul — with O'Neal feeding the 6-foot Paul in the post and swooping in from the perimeter for a dunk.

Paul, Brandon Roy, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker all finished with 14 points for the West. - AP

02-20-2009, 02:04 PM
Gasol's triple-double leads Lakers past Hawks
02/18/2009 | 04:52 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Pau Gasol had 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists and the Los Angeles Lakers emerged from the All-Star break with a 96-83 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.

Lamar Odom had 15 points and 20 rebounds, Derek Fisher scored 14 points, and Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar added 10 points each to go with Gasol's third career triple-double on a night when Kobe Bryant scored a season-low 10 points.

All-Star Joe Johnson scored 14 points and Josh Smith added 13 for the Hawks, who had their three-game road winning streak end on the first night of their five-game West Coast trip. Atlanta, fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, had won four of five heading into the break.

Coming off a weekend in which he shared the All-Star MVP trophy with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant shot 4-of-12 and never got to the free throw line in his lowest offensive performance since he had 11 against Washington on Jan. 22.

Not that the Lakers needed their resident superstar.

They improved to 25-4 at Staples Center by blowing out the Hawks in the second half after Atlanta led by nine in the opening quarter.

Sparked by Ariza and Farmar, the Lakers' reserves outscored Atlanta's bench 37-31.

Bryant hit two 3-pointers in the third quarter, but his teammates did everything else as Los Angeles outscored the Hawks 40-24. Atlanta's Mike Bibby virtually disappeared after the first quarter, when he had nine, and never scored again.

That gave the Lakers an 85-60 lead going into the fourth, when the starters watched from the bench.

The Lakers recovered from a slow start to outscore Atlanta 22-12 in the second quarter. They did it with just one basket from Bryant, which was all he had in the first period.

Ariza picked up where Farmar left off, scoring six points, while Fisher hit a 3-pointer to send the Lakers into halftime ahead 45-36.

Helped by five steals, the Hawks opened the game on a 24-15 run for their largest lead. Bryant was 0-for-4 before his bank shot went in for his only basket of the first quarter.

Farmar came in with 2:53 left and ran off six straight points, including a fastbreak finger roll and a driving reverse layup, that sent the Lakers into the second quarter trailing 24-23. - AP

02-20-2009, 02:05 PM
Lakers come from behind to beat Warriors
02/19/2009 | 03:37 PM
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OAKLAND, Calif. – Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol added 24 points and 13 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers roared from behind in the final 5 minutes for their 13th victory in 15 games, 129-121 over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Lamar Odom scored 22 points for the Lakers, who have improved the NBA's best record to 44-10 with back-to-back wins following the All-Star break. Los Angeles trailed late into the fourth quarter, but made a 17-3 run beginning with back-to-back 3-pointers by Trevor Ariza, who finished with 17 points.

Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette scored 24 points apiece for the Warriors, who lost for just the second time in six games.

Jamal Crawford scored 23 points and Monta Ellis had 15 as Golden State's season-best three-game winning streak ended in its first game since last Thursday. The improving Warriors took another elite team down to the wire, but Los Angeles has won all three of its meetings with Golden State this season, scoring at least 114 points in each game.

Bryant was the only Los Angeles regular who had an unimpressive shooting night, going 9-of-22. But the reigning league MVP had nine assists and also scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, taking charge with plenty of energy in reserve after playing less than 29 minutes last night against Atlanta.

Before the game, Los Angeles traded center Chris Mihm to Memphis for a future draft pick, trimming about $2 million off their payroll and luxury tax obligations. Mihm, who will be a free agent this summer, couldn't crack coach Phil Jackson's rotation even after fellow 7-footer Andrew Bynum tore a ligament in his knee Jan. 31.

Josh Powell thrived with the extra playing time created by Mihm's departure, with the former Golden State forward getting 16 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes.

Golden State's Marco Belinelli returned from a 15-game absence with a sprained ankle with six points, all on 3-pointers, and four assists. The Italian guard was playing the best basketball of his short career when he was hurt last month in a game against Indiana.

But Warriors swingman Kelenna Azubuike sat out with a bruised knee, and Andris Biedrins hasn't returned from his sprained right ankle.

Crawford scored 14 points in the first quarter without missing a 3-pointer or a free throw, and Golden State never trailed during the middle two quarters. Bryant tied it for the Lakers with 37 seconds left in the third when he blocked Maggette's shot and threw a long pass to Powell for a dunk.

Los Angeles finally reclaimed the lead in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, but relinquished it again until Ariza's second 3-pointer with 3:45 to play. - AP

02-26-2009, 04:46 PM
Bryant, Lakers outlast spirited Wolves 111-108
02/23/2009 | 11:04 AM
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MINNEAPOLIS – Kobe Bryant scored 28 points to move past Elgin Baylor into 20th place on the NBA's career scoring list and the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 111-108 victory Sunday night.

Lamar Odom had 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Pau Gasol added 25 points for the team with the league's best record.

Ryan Gomes had 20 points and seven rebounds and Craig Smith scored 19 on 9-for-10 shooting for the Timberwolves, who committed 20 turnovers and lost their sixth straight home game.

Both teams were playing without their starting centers because of torn knee ligaments.

Andrew Bynum went down with a torn right MCL on Jan. 31 and isn't expected back until at least April. But the Lakers have defiantly steamrolled on without him. With Bryant upping his scoring average and Gasol playing huge minutes, the Lakers are 9-1 since their big fella went out.

The Timberwolves lost their heart and soul — Al Jefferson — to a torn ACL on Feb. 8 and have had a much tougher time figuring out how to play without him. They are 1-4 without their leading scorer and rebounder.

Bryant's breakaway lay-in with 10:42 to play in the third quarter pushed him past the former Laker great Baylor into third in franchise history, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West.

The last time the Lakers were here, Bynum had 27 points and 15 rebounds in the Lakers' 132-119 victory, but things weren't as easy this time around.

The Lakers had height mismatches all over the floor.

Bryant had a 2-inch advantage over Foye according to the listed heights, but he plays so much bigger than the Wolves' captain and had no problem getting his shots in the low post.

The 7-foot Gasol was an even bigger handful for Kevin Love, generously listed at 6-10, on the low block. The Spainiard routinely beat Love down the floor to gain position in the paint, and once he got the ball, it was all over.

Bryant was 6-for-8 in the first half, most coming on short turnaround jumpers over Foye. Gasol went 8-for-10 in the first two periods with nothing coming from further than 5 feet out.

Yet for all that success, the Lakers had plenty of problems putting this depleted Wolves team away. Smith made his first eight shots from the field, the last two on breakaway layups to give Minnesota an 80-78 lead after three quarters.

Bryant converted a three-point play and then a baseline turnaround jumper over Foye with his tongue wagging Jordan-style for a 106-103 lead. He added two free throws and Foye missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to seal it. - AP

02-26-2009, 04:50 PM
Bryant leads late surge as Lakers put away Thunder
02/25/2009 | 11:43 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Kobe Bryant scored 10 of his 36 points in a 3-minute span of the fourth quarter to thwart an Oklahoma City rally and lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 107-93 victory on Tuesday night.

Bryant moved into 19th place on the NBA's career scoring list, moving ahead of Adrian Dantley only one game after he passed Elgin Baylor for 20th. Entering the game, he had needed only 13 points to tie Dantley.

He got to that point with the first of back-to-back jumpers that pushed the lead back to 18 with 7:05 left in the third quarter after Oklahoma City had gotten within 10.

The Thunder still had one last charge in them, closing within one before Bryant returned from the bench and took over.

Kevin Durant scored 32 to lead Oklahoma City in its sixth straight loss. - AP

02-27-2009, 05:05 PM
48-10. DJ Mbenga showed signs of improvement in the game eariler. Made some shots, blocked Shaq and Barnes. I am really wondering why Chris Mihm got more minutes than this guy.

Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar tsk tsk nagbabakawan kanina. Sasha is in a slump!!! GISING EL MACHINA!!!

Still hoping for LA to grab Joe Smith from Oklahoma via free agency.

03-07-2009, 03:48 PM
Nuggets end skid against cold Lakers
02/28/2009 | 01:22 PM
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DENVER — J.R. Smith scored 22 points and the Denver Nuggets beat Kobe Bryant and cold-shooting Los Angeles 90-79 on Friday night to end a nine-game losing streak against the Lakers.

The Nuggets got solid performances from reserves Smith and Chris Andersen, who tied a career high with seven blocks, pulled down 12 rebounds and chipped in 11 points.

The Lakers has their second-worst shooting night since the franchise moved to Southern California from Minneapolis — 29.8 percent. They were on pace for their worst night ever when Jordan Farmar's breakaway layup with 5.1 seconds left allowed them to beat the old low-water mark of 29.4 percent set against Utah in 2004.

Bryant scored 29 points but he needed 31 shots to do it, sinking 10 of them.

The Lakers had won six straight.

Carmelo Anthony had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Denver, and Chauncey Billups scored 22. But it was the reserves that ended Los Angeles' hex — the Lakers had won five straight regular-season games plus a four-game sweep in the playoffs last year when the Nuggets became the first 50-win team to get shut out in the postseason.

Four nights after suffering a 38-point blowout by Boston at the Pepsi Center, the Nuggets hung tough with the Lakers, leading 46-40 at halftime and 66-63 after three quarters before pulling away.

Andersen led the way, pulling down a key rebound and rejecting a shot at one end and making two nifty layups at the other to help the Nuggets stretch their lead to 74-63.

Denver center Nene returned from a two-game absence with a bruised right knee. He didn't start but he did enter the game sooner than the Nuggets had hoped because Johan Petro picked up his third foul less than 3 minutes into the game.

The Nuggets had missed Nene's toughness in the paint, getting crushed by Boston and edging a short-handed Hawks team by a point on Wednesday night.

Los Angeles made just six of 23 shots in the first quarter but led 19-16 thanks to eight offensive boards. The Lakers never found a rhythm and lost to the Nuggets for the first time since 2007.

Bryant's free throws made it 52-50 with 8 minutes left in the third quarter, L.A.'s first lead since the 10:53 mark of the second, and Derek Fisher followed with a fast-break 3-pointer to cap a 15-4 second-half start for the Lakers. AP

03-07-2009, 03:51 PM
Shaq, Suns overcome Kobe to beat Lakers 118-111
03/02/2009 | 08:23 AM
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PHOENIX – Shaquille O'Neal scored 33 points and the Phoenix Suns overcame a 49-point performance by Kobe Bryant to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 118-111 on Sunday.

Matt Barnes added 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Suns, without Steve Nash for the third straight game because of a sprained right ankle, beat the Lakers for the first time in four tries this season.

Pau Gasol added 30 for the Lakers, who have lost two in a row for just the third time this season.

After his 45-point game against Toronto on Friday night, O'Neal has consecutive 30-point games for the first time since March 5-7, 2004, when he and Bryant were dominating teammates in Los Angeles.

Bryant made 18 of a season-high 38 attempts in the 96th 40-point game of his career. He scored 17 points in a span of less than four minutes early in the second half.

Leandro Barbosa added 22 points and Grant Hill 17 for the Suns, who improved to 6-2 since Alvin Gentry replaced the fired Terry Porter and returned the team to Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced style. It was the Gentry-led Suns' first win, though, over a team with a winning record.

Phoenix is 1 1/2 games behind Dallas for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West.

Barnes scored seven in a row to put Phoenix ahead 114-103 with 1:26 to play. He started the spurt with two free throws, sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key, then added two more from the foul line.

The Lakers finished with an 8-1 spurt but ran out of time in a game they trailed most of the way.

Phoenix led by as many as 15 in the first half were up by 10 at the break.

Then, Bryant scored his remarkable 17 in a 19-2 Lakers' outburst that erased a 12-point deficit and put Los Angeles ahead 75-70 on his 3-pointer with 6:24 left in the third quarter. Bryant made two 3s and converted a three-point play on a driving layup and foul by O'Neal during the surge.

It was a short-lived advantage.

After a time out, Phoenix scored the next 13 to go up 83-75 on O'Neal's three-point play with 3:33 left in the quarter. Robin Lopez blocked Jordan Farmar's layup try, leading to a breakaway layup by Barbosa at the buzzer that put the Suns ahead 91-81 entering the final quarter.

With Bryant on the bench, the Lakers started the fourth with a 11-2 run. Trevor Ariza made to 3-pointers and Sasha Vujacic one. Josh Powell's 14-footer cut Phoenix's lead to 94-92 with 10:26 remaining.

Los Angeles cut the lead to three on three occasions before Jason Richardson over-his-head layup and O'Neal's basket over Gasol put the Suns ahead 106-99 with 4:45 left.

The Lakers' Lamar Odom fouled out with 8:31 to play after scoring four points on 2-for-3 shooting in 23 minutes. - AP

03-07-2009, 03:54 PM
Bryant's 31 leads Lakers past Grizzlies
03/04/2009 | 03:14 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant scored 31 points and the Los Angeles Lakers ended their two-game skid with a front-running 99-89 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.

The Lakers avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season, taking the lead for good seven minutes into the game.

Memphis, 3-24 on the road, kept it relatively close until the Lakers pulled away from a 54-51 lead early in the third quarter. They were up 78-67 by the end of the period and remained comfortably ahead in the fourth quarter.

Lakers center Pau Gasol, matched in the middle against younger brother Marc, had 13 points and eight rebounds. Derek Fisher added 11 points for Los Angeles.

Lamar Odom was only 1-of-8 from the floor and scored just two points for Los Angeles, but posted some other impressive numbers: 13 rebounds, eight assists and six blocks.

Bryant was 12-of-23 from the line and sat out the fourth quarter while the Lakers went mostly with reserves.

Marc Gasol, 24 and four years younger than Pau, had 17 points and 14 rebounds for Memphis. O.J. Mayo scored 17.

Los Angeles was up by 15 early in the second quarter, but the Grizzlies chipped away and closed to within 52-47 on Marc Gasol's two free throws after his brother fouled him 4 seconds before halftime.

Bryant had 19 points by halftime, but was the lone Laker in double figures. Marc Gasol had 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists for Memphis by the break.

With the Lakers trailing 17-16 with five minutes left in the first quarter, Bryant pulled up and made an 11-footer, fed Pau Gasol for a dunk, hit a 16-footer, then added a 3. That ignited Los Angeles, and the Lakers went on to finish a 16-2 string that put them up 32-19 at the end of the period.

The Grizzlies are 1-21 this season in games when they've failed to score at last 20 points in the first quarter. -AP

03-07-2009, 03:55 PM
Lakers notch 50th win against Minnesota
03/07/2009 | 02:13 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant scored 23 points, Pau Gasol added 21 and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 110-90 Friday night, becoming the first NBA team to reach 50 victories.

Bryant and Gasol both went 5-for-5 from the line and Gasol grabbed a team-leading nine rebounds as the Lakers won their sixth in a row at home and beat the Wolves for the eighth consecutive time.

Ryan Gomes scored 20 points and rookie Kevin Love added 18 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped its eighth in a row and fell to 10-20 on the road. Sebastian Telfair had 18 points after missing the last two games with a sore right groin.

Bryant’s work was done after three quarters, when the Lakers led by 18. That allowed him to lead the cheers from the bench. He was up on his feet when DJ Mbenga came up with a huge block of Rodney Carney midway through the fourth. Shannon Brown’s one-handed dunk brought the entire bench onto the floor.

The Lakers’ second unit played the final period, giving them valuable experience and the coaching staff a chance to assess their skills ahead of the playoffs.

The Wolves outscored Los Angeles 9-2 behind five points by Love to open the third quarter, leaving them trailing 49-45. That’s as close as Minnesota came over the final three periods. The Wolves shot just 33 percent for the game.

Bryant’s jumper sparked a 28-14 run to end the quarter and send the Lakers into the final 12 minutes leading 77-59. Gasol had nine points and Derek Fisher seven in the spurt. But Bryant triggered two of the highlight moments.

He made consecutive 3-pointers, the second off a steal of Shelden Williams’ bad pass, before Josh Powell’s tip-in on a play that began with Fisher’s steal of Gomes’ bad pass. That sequence put the Lakers ahead by 21.

Bryant sat down for good with 1:53 left in the quarter.

Bryant’s second basket of the game late in the second quarter allowed him to pass Robert Parish for 18th on the NBA’s career scoring list, and he now has 23,354 points. Parish achieved his 23,334 points over 21 seasons, while Bryant is in his 12th year.

When the feat was announced coming out of a timeout, Bryant stuck his right hand in the air to acknowledge the standing ovation and fan chants of “MVP!"

He was mostly quiet until the final 5½ minutes of the period, when Bryant scored the final 13 points to keep the Lakers ahead 47-36 at halftime.

The Lakers swept the Wolves 4-0 for the second consecutive season and are 10-1 in the teams’ last 11 meetings. – AP

04-15-2009, 02:39 PM
Roy scores 27 in Blazers’ 111-94 win over Lakers
03/10/2009 | 01:45 PM
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PORTLAND, Ore. — Brandon Roy scored 27 points and the Trail Blazers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 111-94 on Monday night in a game marred by Portland’s Rudy Fernandez being carried off the court on a stretcher after a hard foul.

Fernandez, a rookie from Spain, was hurt late in the third quarter when he was fouled by Trevor Ariza while going up for a shot. He was carried from the court on a stretcher with his neck in a brace.

Fernandez was conscious and alert when he left the court, and he had full movement of his extremities, the team said. But he was experiencing chest pain and was taken to a hospital.

Travis Outlaw added 22 points for the Blazers, who have won 12 straight at the Rose Garden. Joel Przybilla also had 12 points and 18 rebounds, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant had 26 points, while Pau Gasol had 18 for the Lakers, who haven’t won at the Rose Garden in their last seven tries, with their last victory on Feb. 23, 2005.

It was the Lakers’ third straight road loss, although they have one of the league’s best overall road records at 21-9.

The Blazers are among the NBA’s best home teams with a 27-5 record, and their latest winning streak at home dates to a 104-98 loss to Cleveland on Jan. 21.

The rivalry between the Lakers and the Blazers had cooled in recent years, in part because Portland has not been a playoff contender. But it seems to be heating back up with the demise of the so-called "Jail Blazers" and the potential of the NBA’s second-youngest team.

Fans at the Rose Garden chanted "Beat L.A!" and booed nearly every time Bryant took a shot.

Portland jumped out to a 19-12 lead on rookie Nicolas Batum’s third dunk, as the Blazers found early success in the paint. The Blazers took off on a 10-2 run midway through the first half that put them up 31-16 after Outlaw’s 3-pointer.

Portland extended the lead to 51-32 on Aldridge’s dunk on a hand-off from Roy. Outlaw’s 17-foot jumper made it 60-36 and the Blazers wrapped up the half with a 61-38 lead.

Outlaw finished the half with 17 points, while Bryant had 12 for the Lakers on 6-of-15 shooting.

Fernandez hit a 3-pointer that gave Portland a 81-51 lead in the final minutes of the third quarter. Shortly thereafter, he was driving to the basket on a fast-break when he was fouled by Ariza.

Fernandez fell hard under the basket, on both his elbow and his hip. He remained prone on the court for more than 10 tense minutes before being taken from the court on a stretcher.

A skirmish broke out among the two teams and Ariza was ejected. The Blazers were assessed a pair of technical fouls.

The Blazers went flat after Fernandez went out, and the Lakers closed the gap to 89-73 midway through the fourth quarter.

But the Blazers wouldn’t let Los Angeles get any closer. Roy sealed it with a statement dunk with 2:58 left that made it 106-79. Afterward, he chest bumped his teammates.

The Blazers remained without Greg Oden, who hasn’t played since the All-Star break because of a bone chip in his knee. The 7-foot center is expected to be reevaluated this week. – AP

04-15-2009, 02:39 PM
Bryant scores 37 to lead Lakers past Rockets
03/12/2009 | 12:30 PM
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HOUSTON – Kobe Bryant scored 18 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, winning a contentious duel with Ron Artest, and the Los Angeles Lakers ended Houston's 12-game, home-court winning streak with a 102-96 win over the Rockets on Wednesday night.

Pau Gasol scored 20 points and Josh Powell added 17 for the Lakers, who overcame the absence of Lamar Odom to snap a three-game road losing streak. Odom, the Lakers' second-leading rebounder, served a one-game suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation in Monday's loss to Portland.

Reserve Von Wafer scored 20 points for the Rockets, who've lost all three meetings with the Lakers this season.

The Lakers led 75-72 when Bryant re-entered the game after a rest with 6:57 left. That's when things got interesting between him and Artest, the fiery forward who's one of Houston's top 1-on-1 defenders.

Only seconds after Bryant came in, Artest and Bryant faced off and exchanged words before referee Gary Zielinski quickly stepped in to separate them. Both stars got technical fouls before Wafer sank a 3-pointer to tie it at 76.

Artest and Bryant continued to shove each other as Luke Walton hit a jumper to give the Lakers the lead. Later, Bryant stripped the ball from Artest, but then missed a jumper with Artest defending.

Bryant got the final word.

He drove inside and converted a three-point play, then swished a 3-pointer after Artest tried to make a steal. That put the Lakers up 85-80 and Bryant held his follow-through and glared at the crowd before trotting down the court.

Aaron Brooks swished a 3-pointer, got fouled by Derek Fisher and hit the free throw before Artest stole the ball from Bryant and Wafer scored again to give the Rockets a brief lead.

But Bryant then drove past Yao Ming for a layup, then hit a tough fadeaway over Artest to put the Lakers up 92-86. After the second basket, Bryant gave a finger-wag to the Rockets' bench — seeming to mock Houston center Dikembe Mutombo's signature gesture after a blocked shot.

Bryant put away the game when he leaned into Shane Battier and hit an off-balance jumper with 38.5 seconds left. Battier was called for a foul and Bryant hit the free throw for a 95-88 lead.

Bryant and Artest continued to jaw at each other down to the final buzzer, even with the outcome already decided.

Artest went 4-for-16 from the field and scored 11. Yao also struggled, scoring 16, but giving away four of Houston's season-high 23 turnovers.

The Lakers broke a 24-all tie with 10-3 burst in the second quarter. The Rockets, averaging only 14 turnovers per game, coughed up 10 in the first 15 minutes.

Yao went to the bench for a rest with 8:50 left in the first half, and the Rockets mounted a 14-0 run.

Trevor Ariza's jumper with 3:54 left in the half ended the Lakers' 5-minute scoring drought. Artest hit a pull-up jumper and Wafer swished a 3-pointer before Yao returned with 2:12 remaining in the half.

Artest drove for a layup, drew contact and converted the three-point play to give the Rockets a 51-40 halftime lead, Houston's biggest to that point.

Bryant had only six points and two turnovers in the first half. - AP

04-15-2009, 02:40 PM
Kobe spews fire as Lakers clinch playoff berth
03/13/2009 | 11:09 AM
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SAN ANTONIO — The Los Angeles Lakers are the West's first team in the playoffs. Kobe Bryant made sure of it.

Bryant scored the last of his 23 points on a 3-pointer with 1:46 left, and the Lakers secured a postseason spot with a 100-95 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.

The Spurs have been the West's No. 2 team most of the season, and Los Angeles validated that pecking order. The Lakers also wrapped up the Pacific Division in the final rematch this season of the 2008 Western Conference finals.

Tony Parker and Michael Finley led San Antonio with 25 points apiece. Drew Gooden made his Spurs debut after being signed a week ago, but played just 3¼ minutes, scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds.

Lamar Odom had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles in his return from a one-game suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation in Monday's loss to Portland.

One night after ending Houston's 12-game home winning streak, the Lakers wrapped up their road swing by bringing San Antonio's three-game winning string to a halt.

The loss cut San Antonio's lead over the Rockets in the Southwest Division to two games, with the Spurs heading to Houston on Saturday. The Rockets play at Charlotte on Friday.

Tim Duncan had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs.

Trevor Ariza, who joined the Lakers' starting lineup this week, scored 10 points. Derek Fisher also added 10.

If it was a West playoff preview, it didn't feel that way until the fourth quarter. Los Angeles led by as much as 18 in the first quarter, but San Antonio chipped away, cutting the lead to 95-93 on a 3-pointer from Parker with 2:18 left.

Then Bryant, with rookie George Hill closely guarding him, drained a 3-pointer that quashed any hopes of a Spurs comeback. As Bryant left the court, several dozen fans chanted "M-V-P! M-V-P!" in what is usually hostile territory for the Lakers.

The close finish belied what looked like a Lakers blowout from the start.

Forcing the usually careful Spurs into several first-half turnovers and the Lakers rolled to a 35-17 lead — the most points allowed by the Spurs in the first quarter all season.

Bryant had 14 at the half against defenders ranging from 37-year-old Bruce Bowen to the rookie Hill. Finley kept the Spurs as close as he could, hitting a trio of 3-pointers and scoring 17 in the first half.

San Antonio trailed 78-70 to start the fourth period, but the Lakers couldn't put the Spurs away. Finley's 3-pointer with 10:30 left cut the lead to 81-78, bringing the sold-out crowd to its feet.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game he didn't know if Gooden would play, then inserted his new big man for a brief spell in the second half. It was just the third appearance since Jan. 19 for Gooden, who has been hobbled by a groin injury since starting the season in Chicago and then being traded to Sacramento last month. -AP

04-15-2009, 02:41 PM
Bryant, balanced Lakers beat Mavericks
03/16/2009 | 08:45 AM
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LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant scored 28 points, Trevor Ariza had a career-high 26, and the Los Angeles Lakers squandered a big lead before taking control late in a 107-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

Pau Gasol added 25 for the Lakers, who are battling Cleveland for the NBA's best record and are already the Pacific Division champs. They could meet the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Lakers had taken the lead in the first quarter and were ahead by 15 midway through the third before Dallas reserve Jason Terry led a 21-2 run that put the Mavericks in front 95-89 with 7:13 left in the game.

That was while both teams had mostly reserves on the court. When Bryant and the other Lakers starters returned, Los Angeles soon went on a 12-0 spurt of its own.

Bryant's 3-pointer with 6:51 left ended a string of nine consecutive misses by the Lakers from behind the arc, and he made another with 3:36 that ended the run with them up 101-95.

Terry led Dallas 29 points off the bench, and Dirk Nowitzki added 20 on 6-of-20 shooting.

Gasol finished 12-of-13 from the floor, making all 10 of his shots in the first half. Bryant was 11-of-20 for the game.

Lamar Odom chipped in with 10 points and 14 rebounds. James Singleton had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas.

Terry took seven shots in the third, all 3-pointers, and was good on five of them. He finished 7-of-16 from 3-point range.

Down by 15 midway through the third quarter, the Mavericks began their run on a pair of 3s by Terry. He added two more from beyond the arc after a pair of Los Angeles turnovers in the closing minute of the period to narrow the gap to 87-80.

Bryant didn't score in the first quarter but had 11 points in the second to help Los Angeles open a 66-54 lead. Gasol had 20 points by the break for the Lakers, who shot 61 percent from the floor in the half while holding Dallas to 42 percent shooting.

Nowitzki scored 15 in the half, but was just 4-of-13 from the floor.

Gasol had the range in the first quarter, going 8-for-8 and scoring 16 points from under the basket and on outside jumpers. Bryant, on the other hand, was 0-for-4 in the first 12 minutes.

Nowitzki had 10 first-quarter points. - AP

04-15-2009, 02:43 PM
Kobe, Gasol help Lakers hold off Warriors, 114-106
03/20/2009 | 04:20 PM
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LOS ANGELES — After giving up leads of 15 points and 14 points in their previous two games, the Los Angeles Lakers came within a 3-point miss by Kelenna Azubuike of squandering an 18-point advantage to the Golden State Warriors.

The Lakers held on for a 114-106 victory Thursday night as Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol each scored 21 points to help complete Los Angeles’ third four-game season sweep of the Warriors in four years.

Now the defending Western Conference champions begin their longest trip of the season — seven games — on Saturday night at Chicago, and don’t play again at Staples Center until April 3 against Houston.

“Jeanie wants me to have my suits sent ahead and not even pack," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said in reference to girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ executive vice president of business operations. “But I don’t feel that luxurious about my life yet. I still need to pack my own bags."

Jackson then packed away his trademark bemused grin and got serious.

“It’s a road trip that we have to play every game with that mentality of playing consistent conservative basketball," the Hall of Fame said.

Bryant feels that a long road trip is just what the Lakers need to prevent them from becoming too complacent before the playoffs begin.

“It’s good that it is coming up at this time of year," said Bryant, who committed five of the team’s 22 turnovers. “If you go out on the road, basically it’s us against the world, so to speak. So we are able to bond and connect. These type of trips build great momentum."

The Lakers, who haven’t lost consecutive home games since a three-game stretch last March, bounced back from a 94-93 defeat to Philadelphia on Tuesday night in which they blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and lost on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala.

On Sunday, they gave up a 15-point third-quarter lead against Dallas, and trailed by six in the fourth before rallying for a 107-100 win.

Jackson acknowledged that his team is far from being playoff-ready on defense — something that cost them in last year’s finals against Boston when they blew a 24-point lead at home before losing Game 4.

“We talked about that yesterday," Jackson said. “We had a list of seven items up there on the boards that were haunting us, starting with turnovers in transition plays and offensive rebounds, which are dead-giveway types of things, and understanding our rotations that we have to do when we get into screen-roll situations."

Thursday’s victory was the Lakers’ 31st at home, eclipsing last season’s total, and kept them a full game behind Cleveland for the NBA’s best record and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs with 14 games remaining.

Monta Ellis scored 27 points and Azubuike added 25 for the Warriors, who have lost 19 of their last 22 meetings with the Lakers and are 2-18 at Staples Center since the arena opened in 1999.

“There’s nothing we can say. we left it all on the court," Ellis said. They made more good plays than we did down the stretch."

The Lakers took a 77-59 lead on Derek Fisher’s 3-pointer with 3:34 left in the third quarter. The Warriors scored the next 12 points to make it a six-point differential. But Sasha Vujacic scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, and Lamar Odom converted a pair of 3-point plays 66 seconds apart to give Los Angeles a 101-86 lead with 5:59 to play.

Golden State then went on a 16-4 run capped by Jackson’s fastbreak layup with 2:40 remaining, after off one of six Lakers turnovers in the final quarter. But Azubuike missed a 3 that would have tied the game, and that was the Warriors’ last gasp.

Bryant who did not shoot any free throws against Philadelphia, didn’t attempt a foul shot against the Warriors until he completed a three-point play that gave the Lakers a 105-95 lead with 3:49 to play.

In a game that pitted the league’s top rebounding team against the worst, the Lakers held a 50-42 advantage. Gasol had 14 boards and Odom had 12, along with 16 points.

Warriors leading scorer Stephen Jackson returned to the lineup, scoring 10 points and shooting 5-for-17. He sat out Tuesday’s victory over the Clippers because of an automatic one-game suspension he received for getting his 16th technical foul of the season in Sunday’s loss to Phoenix. - AP

04-15-2009, 02:44 PM
Kobe spearheads Lakers' come-from-behind win vs Bulls
03/22/2009 | 11:33 AM
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CHICAGO — Kobe Bryant scored 28 points, Pau Gasol added 23 and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied to a 117-109 victory Saturday over the Chicago Bulls in the first of a season-high, seven-game trip.

The Lakers trailed by 16 in the second quarter and 14 at the half, but came roaring back in the third, pulling within one. They tied it early in the fourth and then took the lead with a 14-0 run that made it 106-93.

Bryant, who once said he wouldn't mind playing in Chicago, was serenaded with "MVP! MVP!" chants even though he was just 10-for-25, but this was far from a one-man effort.

Gasol grabbed 10 rebounds as the Lakers earned their fifth victory in six games. Trevor Ariza scored 18 points, Lamar Odom added 16 and Jordan Farmar had eight of his 13 in the decisive run.

After beating New Orleans and defending champion Boston, along with Oklahoma City, Chicago simply let this one slip away.

John Salmons scored 30 and Derrick Rose 25 for the Bulls, who had tied a season high with three straight wins, but their luck ended against the Western Conference leaders. So did their seven-game home win streak.

The Lakers had trouble the past four games holding onto big leads, but no problem erasing one Saturday.

Trailing 62-48 at halftime, the Lakers went on a 12-0 run to cut it to three after Salmons started the third quarter with a free throw for Chicago. They got as close as one midway through the period and finally tied it at 89 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Sasha Vujacic and Odom less than two minutes into the fourth.

The Lakers took their first lead since the early stages on a three-point play by Luke Walton that made it 92-91. After Ben Gordon made two free throws, the Lakers answered with 14 straight to put away Chicago.

Farmar hit two 3s and capped the run with dunk that made it 106-93 with 4:22 left, and the Bulls also committed three straight turnovers at one point during that stretch.

It was a difficult loss for the Bulls, who seemed poised to knock off another contender.

Salmons scored 18 points in the first half, Rose had 14, and both came up with eye-popping baskets in the final minute as the Bulls stalled a mini-spurt by the Lakers.

For Rose, it was a double-pump layup on the break with 28 seconds left to make it 59-46. Salmons' moment came after Trevor Ariza put back a 3 by Bryant that hit the side of the backboard with 3.8 seconds left, when he buried one from just beyond the arc as the buzzer sounded.

Two big shots. Two big performances.

But the Lakers pulled this one out. -AP

04-15-2009, 02:45 PM
Lakers rest starters in 107-89 blowout of Thunder
03/25/2009 | 10:29 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Kobe Bryant scored 19 points before taking the fourth quarter off, and the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a 107-89 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

The Lakers led from start to finish for the ninth time this season and closed within one game of idle Cleveland for the best record in the NBA.

Lamar Odom scored 18 points before fouling out and Pau Gasol had 14 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for Los Angeles. All of the Lakers starters spent the final 8 minutes on the bench, getting some needed rest two games into a seven-game road trip.

Kevin Durant scored 24 points to lead Oklahoma City, which had all five starters reach double figures. - AP

04-15-2009, 02:46 PM
Former housekeeper sues Kobe Bryant, his wife
03/26/2009 | 09:07 AM
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SANTA ANA, Calif. – Kobe Bryant's former housekeeper is suing the NBA star and his wife, contending she was "harassed and humiliated," denied health insurance and forced to quit because of "intolerable" working conditions.

In one instance, Maria Jimenez says Bryant's wife ordered her to put her hand in a container of dog waste to retrieve the price tag of a blouse.

Jimenez filed suit Friday in Orange County Superior Court. She says in court papers that Vanessa Bryant "badgered, harassed and humiliated" her in front of Bryant, the couple's children and others. She said the couple failed to provide health coverage, as promised when she was hired. She said she didn't learn she didn't have it until she became ill and sought medical attention.

The action seeks unspecified general, punitive and special damages, as well as back pay and overtime Jimenez says she is owed. The lawsuit was first reported by tmz.com.

Rob Pelinka, agent for the Los Angeles Lakers star, did not immediately return a call.

The 48-year-old Jimenez said in court papers she is owed more than $20,000 in earnings that were wrongly withheld, as well as unpaid overtime and penalties for not being paid properly.

After she left Bryant's employ, Jimenez said she asked again about the medical insurance, which she said had not been purchased as promised. She said she subsequently incurred more than $127,000 in medical bills for a back injury and surgery to remove an ovarian cyst.

Jimenez wasn't fired but her lawyer said she was wrongly discharged because Bryant's wife made it impossible for her to continue working at the couple's Orange County home.

"She quit but because the working conditions were intolerable," attorney William Vogeler said Wednesday. "We allege it was a violation of labor laws that protect people from working in unhealthy situations."

In court papers, Jimenez says she went to work for the Bryants in September 2007 and left in March 2008. Almost immediately upon starting work, "Vanessa began a continuing pattern of verbally abusing and demeaning her." Jimenez said she was called lazy, slow, dumb, a liar and was cursed and screamed at.

After Jimenez told Kobe Bryant she wanted to quit he talked her out of it and elicited an apology from his wife, court papers said. But then, she said, the abuse began again.

According to the papers, Vanessa Bryant screamed at Jimenez for putting an expensive blouse in the Bryants' clothes washer. "Then Vanessa demanded that Maria put her hand in a bag of dog feces to retrieve the price tag for the blouse."

Although she gave notice, Jimenez said, Vanessa Bryant demanded that she work until her next pay day to cover the $690 cost of the blouse. Jimenez said she did. - AP

04-15-2009, 02:47 PM
Bryant scores 30 points as Lakers beat Pistons
03/27/2009 | 10:57 AM
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Kobe Bryant scored 30 points and helped the Los Angeles Lakers score the last 20 points of the third quarter in a 92-77 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday night.

The Western Conference-leading Lakers have won four straight to pull within a victory of Cleveland's NBA-high total of 58, and five in a row on the road for a league-high 26 this season.

Detroit reserve Will Bynum had career highs with 25 points and 11 assists and helped his banged-up team outscore the Lakers 30-14 in the second quarter to lead 42-39.

The Pistons built a 10-point lead early in the second half and were ahead by five midway through the third quarter when Bryant's layup and Trevor Ariza consecutive putback dunks sparked a 20-0 run.

The Lakers snapped a nine-game losing streak, including three losses in the 2004 NBA Finals, at The Palace, where they hadn't won since Jan. 8, 2002.

These days, it's easy to beat Detroit home or away.

Detroit lost its third straight game and seventh of nine to come closer to falling out of the playoff race. The once-proud franchise fell to 18-19 at home this season and three games under .500 overall in a season that unraveled when Chauncey Billups was traded to Denver for Allen Iverson in November.

Against Los Angeles, the Pistons were without Iverson (back), Richard Hamilton (groin) and Rasheed Wallace (calf).

They expect to have Hamilton back on Saturday at Washington, where Wallace might also return, and hope Iverson will be able to play next week.

Los Angeles looked as if it was going to rout the struggling Pistons when it led 25-12, marking a low first-quarter total for an opponent, but their Bynum-led bench dominated the second quarter to make it competitive.

The Lakers, though, ended any doubts about the outcome by outscoring Detroit 31-13 in the third quarter before coasting to the victory.

Derek Fisher scored 15 points for the Lakers, and Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol each had 12 points. Detroit's Antonio McDyess had 14 points — making him its only double-digit scorer other than Bynum — and 12 rebounds. - AP

04-15-2009, 02:48 PM
Hawks hold off Kobe and the Lakers, 86-76
03/30/2009 | 09:23 AM
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ATLANTA – Kobe Bryant wasn't feeling well. It showed.

Mike Bibby scored 21 points — including an improbable 3 off the top of the backboard — and the Atlanta Hawks took advantage of a tough outing for Bryant, beating Los Angeles 86-76 Sunday to knock the Lakers another game behind Cleveland in the race for the NBA's best overall record.

The Hawks led nearly the entire way, bouncing back from consecutive home losses to two other elite teams, San Antonio and defending champion Boston. For Los Angeles, it was the lowest-scoring game of the season.

The Lakers had won five straight, locking up the top seed in the Western Conference, but an ailing Bryant had just 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting. Cleveland extended its lead for the best record to two games with a 102-74 win over Dallas.

Bryant, who missed a morning meal and film session because he wasn't feeling well, had his second straight subpar game. Coming off a 14-point performance at New Jersey, he picked up two quick fouls and had to sit out most of the first quarter.

He might have been better off just staying there, but no one stepped up to fill the void. Pau Gasol was the only other Los Angeles player in double figures, leading with 21 points, as the Lakers made just 35 percent (28 of 80) from the field.

With Atlanta struggling to make anything, the Lakers pulled to 76-68 approaching the midway point of the final period. But Bibby locked it up for the Hawks with two huge 3-pointers.

His second took the last bit of life out of Lakers, bouncing high off the rim, hitting the top of the backboard and dropping through the hoop to make it 82-70 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.

Having already clinched the top spot out West, the Lakers suffered a setback in their bid for the best overall record — and guaranteed home-court advantage should they make it all the way to the finals. They also lost for the first time on a seven-game road trip, which has two games left.

With Bryant on the bench through most of the first, the Lakers struggled to 5-of-23 shooting. Los Angeles led 8-4 when their star picked up his second foul, trying to draw a charge in the backcourt just 4 minutes into the game.

Atlanta outscored the Lakers 16-5 the rest of the period for a 20-13 lead — Los Angeles' lowest-scoring opening quarter of the season and less than half of their 27.3-point average in the first.

Bryant returned for most of the second period, sparking the Lakers with his shooting and passing. He scored seven points, even though the Hawks tried to shadow him with little-used defensive specialist Mario West and frequent double teams.

West jawed a bit after a defensive stop on Bryant, which only seemed to fire him up. Isolated on West, he switched directions four times near the top of the key before sinking a 19-foot jumper. When the Hawks tried to double, Bryant found the open man. Gasol and Trevor Ariza both dunked off passes from Bryant.

The Hawks, who had a 29-18 lead midway through the second, settled for a 40-39 advantage at the break. But Atlanta pulled away late in the third.

Maurice Evans hit a 3-pointer, and the Hawks turned it into a four-point play when Zaza Pachulia was elbowed in the side by Jordan Farmer while positioning for a possible rebound. Pachulia got up slowly but made the free throw.

Flip Murray missed a trey but Pachulia made a great tip in traffic for the basket, running back up the court with both hands in the air.

Then Joe Johnson stole the ball from Bryant and passed ahead to Evans, who went in for a thunderous dunk that gave Atlanta a 72-56 lead. Bryant scored off a baseline scoop with 0.2 seconds, but the Lakers went to the fourth down by 14.

Pachulia had 11 points and 13 rebounds, leading a strong effort by the thin Hawks bench. The reserves combined for 29 points and 15 rebounds. - AP

04-15-2009, 02:49 PM
Wallace, Bobcats beat Lakers, again, 94-84
04/01/2009 | 09:41 AM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Gerald Wallace had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and the Charlotte Bobcats continued their surprising mastery of the Los Angeles Lakers in a 94-84 victory on Tuesday night.

Raymond Felton added 16 points as the Bobcats completed a season sweep of the Western Conference leaders, who have lost six of seven to Charlotte.

Failing to reach 100 points in consecutive games for the first time since November, the Lakers dropped their second straight. Kobe Bryant scored 25 points, but hit just 11 of 28 shots. Lamar Odom added 20 points as the Lakers dropped to 4-2 on their seven-game road trip.

The Bobcats dominated the fourth quarter and held the Lakers to 39 percent shooting to move within one game of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. - AP

04-15-2009, 02:50 PM
Bryant, Gasol lead Lakers past Bucks
04/02/2009 | 11:16 AM
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MILWAUKEE — Kobe Bryant rebounded from a rough shooting night to hit his first seven from the field and score 30 points, Pau Gasol had eight of his 15 in the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 104-98 on Wednesday night.

Lamar Odom added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who were playing the finale of a grueling seven-game road trip and coming off two straight losses.

Ramon Sessions had his first career triple-double for the Bucks, who fell four games out of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot. Sessions finished with 16 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds.

With Milwaukee leading by two early in the fourth quarter, Gasol dunked and was fouled, completing the three-point play to give the Lakers an 85-84 lead. Gasol would score three more points in an 11-2 run, putting Los Angeles ahead 93-86 on a free throw with just over six minutes remaining.

Richard Jefferson made a driving layup, but Gasol answered with a hook shot and Bryant converted a three-point play after being fouled on a layup.

A 3-pointer by Jefferson and a jumper by Charlie Villanueva cut the Lakers' lead to five with 2:39 left. Jefferson came up with a steal, but Sessions missed a jumper.

Sessions, who briefly left the game earlier in the quarter after colliding with the Lakers' Josh Powell, then made a pair of free throws with 52 seconds left to cut the lead to three.

Bryant missed a jumper, but Jordan Farmar corralled a long rebound and Bryant was fouled, putting the game away with a pair of free throws.

Jefferson finished with 29 points for Milwaukee.

Los Angeles shot poorly and showed other signs of fatigue in consecutive losses at Atlanta and Charlotte after beginning the trip with four straight victories, but played well enough Wednesday to finish the road trip 5-2.

Bryant was 7-for-7 from the field in the first half, making shot after shot despite being challenged by Bucks rookie Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the team's best defender. But the Bucks, powered by Jefferson's 14 first-half points, took a 57-55 lead into halftime.

Bryant, who was 11-for-28 from the field in Tuesday's loss at Charlotte, finally missed a shot with 11:22 left in the third quarter, but was fouled on the 3-point attempt and made all three free throws to give the Lakers a 60-59 lead.

Bryant's first miss that counted came a few minutes later, clanking one off the front of the rim at the 9:56 mark. Milwaukee then went on an 11-3 run that began with three scores by Dan Gadzuric — a forceful dunk that left him holding his finger in pain, a turnaround jumper and driving layup.

Milwaukee led by as many as six points in the third quarter, taking a 70-64 lead on a fast-break dunk by Sessions with 6:10 left, and led 81-80 going into the fourth quarter. -AP

04-15-2009, 02:51 PM
Gasol scores 23 points, Lakers pick up win No. 60
04/04/2009 | 01:35 PM
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LOS ANGELES— Pau Gasol had 23 points and 10 rebounds, Kobe Bryant added 20 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers picked up their 60th victory by beating the Houston Rockets 93-81 on Friday night.

Derek Fisher added 15 for the Lakers, who reached 60 wins for the 11th time in franchise history and the first since they went 67-15 in 1999-2000. Los Angeles pulled within a game of Cleveland for the NBA's best record.

Ron Artest had 21 points for the Rockets, who slid one game behind San Antonio in the Southwest Division. Bryant hit back-to-back 3-pointers with less than five minutes remaining to give the Lakers an 11-point lead and Gasol hit four free throws down the stretch.

Yao Ming and Luis Scola each had 16 for the Rockets, who were swept by the Lakers in the season series for the first time in seven years. The Rockets had a 13-4 run that stretched from the third into the fourth, but then went without a field goal for nearly five minutes until Scola hit a jumper with 5:25 remaining.

Shane Battier, who finished with 14 points, brought the Rockets within five with 4:41 to play, but that's when Bryant started hitting his 3s.

Houston took away the inside in the second half, so Los Angeles kept hitting mid-range and deep jumpers instead. Gasol had 10 points in the third quarter, Fisher added seven, and the Lakers took advantage of Houston's turnovers to build a 65-55 lead.

Houston shot just 30 percent in the quarter, with Yao going 1-for-4 and Artest 2-for-5 with four points.

Bryant scored once in the first quarter and didn't get going until late in the first half. He had seven of the Lakers' final nine points in the second period, including a 3-pointer, to give them a 44-41 lead, but Artest hit a 3 to tie it at 44 at the break.

Bryant had 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting by halftime.

The Lakers started the game with a 10-2 run, but Houston answered with a 10-4 spurt behind Yao's seven points. Scola then hit two jumpers and Artest had a basket in the paint to end the burst, giving the Rockets their first lead at 21-20. -AP

04-15-2009, 02:56 PM
Lakers beat Kings to move within half-game of Cavs
04/08/2009 | 12:23 PM
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Pau Gasol scored 26 points, Kobe Bryant added 22 and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame a sluggish start to beat the Sacramento Kings 122-104 Tuesday night and move within a half-game of Cleveland for the best record in the NBA.

Los Angeles fell behind by 12 points midway through the first quarter before finding its stride against the NBA’s worst team and avenging a surprising loss earlier this season to the Kings at Arco Arena.

Losing again to Sacramento could have seriously damaged the Lakers’ hopes for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Los Angeles (62-16) still needs the Cavaliers (62-15) to lose at least once down the stretch to win the race. The Lakers hold the tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping the season series against Cleveland.

Lamar Odom added 15 points and 11 rebounds, Trevor Ariza scored 14 points and Gasol had 12 rebounds to go with his 11-for-16 shooting against overmatched Sacramento. Los Angeles has won four straight since losing back-to-back games in Charlotte and Atlanta.

Spencer Hawes had 21 points and 15 rebounds, Jason Thompson added 18 points and 11 boards, and Francisco Garcia scored 19 for the Kings (16-61), who lost their fifth straight game and have already set a franchise record for most losses in a season.

What once was a heated rivalry between the two California teams has cooled off in recent years as the Kings have fallen from a perennial contender to a lottery regular. There were many Lakers fans in attendance, chanting "M-V-P!" for Bryant throughout the game and booing a "Beat L.A.!" cheer from the Kings contingent.

After a first quarter in which the Lakers allowed Sacramento open looks on almost every trip, the game had little resemblance to those heated contests earlier in the decade.

Coach Phil Jackson was so disgusted after the Lakers blew most of a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter of an 88-85 win over the Clippers that he didn’t take questions from reporters. He couldn’t have been much happier with what he saw in the opening minutes against Sacramento.

The Kings came out firing, making 11 of their first 15 shots to open a 29-17 lead less than seven minutes into the game on a three-point play by Thompson. Sacramento then missed its next five shots but still took a 37-31 lead into the second quarter after Bobby Jackson’s jumper with 4 seconds remaining.

The lead proved to be short-lived, as the Lakers tightened up defensively in the second quarter and the reserves took advantage of the Sacramento’s shoddy zone defense. Los Angeles used runs of 10-0 with Bryant on the bench and then 12-0 with its star back in the game to open up a double-digit lead.

Shannon Brown’s steal and layup in the closing seconds capped the 40-point quarter and gave the Lakers a 71-55 lead at the half. Brown, Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar and Josh Powell scored 22 points combined off the bench in the quarter. – AP

04-15-2009, 02:57 PM
Lakers' Phil Jackson to skip Portland trip
04/10/2009 | 07:40 AM
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LOS ANGELES – Lakers coach Phil Jackson will skip Friday's game at Portland because of pain and swelling in his lower right leg.

The team says Jackson will stay behind when the Lakers fly to Portland after Thursday night's home game against Denver, which he will coach.

The pain and swelling in Jackson's leg is caused by plantar fasciitis.

Assistant Kurt Rambis will replace the 63-year-old Hall of Famer on Friday night. Jackson will rejoin the team for practice Saturday and isn't expected to miss any more games.

Jackson missed the team's first preseason game on Oct. 7 in Anaheim against Utah because of soreness and swelling in his lower legs.

He has undergone two hip replacement operations since October 2006. - AP

04-15-2009, 02:58 PM
Lakers win to take share of NBA lead with Cavs
04/10/2009 | 02:11 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant scored 33 points, Pau Gasol added 27 points and 19 rebounds and the Los Angeles Lakers welcomed back center Andrew Bynum in a 116-102 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

The win was the fifth straight for the Lakers (63-16) and tied them with the idle Cleveland Cavaliers (63-15) for the league lead.

Bynum, playing in his first game since tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on Jan. 31, had 16 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes.

Wearing a black brace on the knee, Bynum was greeted with cheers when his name was announced in the starting lineup. Another loud eruption came when the Lakers' announcer asked fans to welcome back the center.

Carmelo Anthony had 23 points to lead the Nuggets, who lost for the first time in nine games and failed to secure the number two seed in the Western Conference. J.R. Smith had 19 points, while Chauncey Billups and Nene each added 17.

The Nuggets got within six with 8:12 remaining when Nene scored a bucket in the paint, but Bryant turned it on. He scored six straight, including a bank shot from the left side of the key that didn't look like it had a chance, to give the Lakers an insurmountable 107-93 lead.

One of the story lines coming into the game focused on the Nuggets and their improved defense, but Los Angeles easily topped 100 points with three starters scoring in double digits.

Bynum, who started in place of Lamar Odom, didn't shy away from contact and bumped up against Denver's bigs throughout. It took him a while to get comfy in his first start, though, and he was 0-for-2 in the first quarter while losing the ball twice.

He scored nine points in the third quarter and showed flashes of his old self when finishing shots, and wound up 7-for-11 from the field.

It was Bryant and Gasol who put the Lakers ahead in the third period, when the two launched Los Angeles on a 16-5 run with less than six minutes remaining.

Shannon Brown hit a wide-open 3-pointer to start it and Gasol and Bryant combined to add 11 points in the spurt. Bryant's 3 with 1:39 remaining gave the Lakers a 13-point lead.

While most of the focus was on Bynum's return, it was Gasol who got the Lakers going. He was one rebound shy of a double-double by the end of the first quarter and had six points as part of an 8-0 run that gave Los Angeles a 32-21 lead.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson turned the game over to his bench in the second quarter, but subbed his starters back in at the 5:50 mark in an attempt to slow the Nuggets down.

They provided a spark for a few minutes before Denver went on a 12-4 run behind a pair of 3s from Smith, one a buzzer-beater that tied the game at 56 going into halftime. - AP

04-15-2009, 03:01 PM
Bynum sharp in Lakers' 92-75 win over Memphis
04/13/2009 | 12:28 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Andrew Bynum scored 18 points in his third game back from a knee injury and the Los Angeles Lakers rolled to a 92-75 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night.

Kobe Bryant took just nine shots, made seven, and finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Pau Gasol, often matched against his brother Marc in the middle, scored 12 points and had 13 rebounds. Trevor Ariza also scored 12 in the Lakers' balanced attack.

The 7-foot Bynum, who missed 32 games after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right knee Jan. 31, played 25:03 against the Grizzlies. He went 6-of-10 from the floor and had five rebounds.

The Lakers' chances of finishing with the best record in the NBA and earning home-court advantage through the finals all but mathematically ended earlier Sunday when Cleveland, with two games remaining, beat Boston 107-76 to improve to 65-15. With one game left, Los Angeles is 64-17.

O.J. Mayo led the Grizzlies with 20 points, and Marc Gasol had 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Down 48-37 at halftime after shooting just 33 percent to Los Angeles' 44 percent in the first half, the Grizzlies narrowed the gap to 58-52 on Rudy Gay's 3 with 4:07 left in the third quarter. But Bryant hit a turnaround jumper from 15 feet, Pau Gasol made a layup, Ariza added a pair of dunks and Los Angeles suddenly had opened the lead back to 14. The Lakers were up 70-59 heading into the fourth quarter and pulled away from there.

The Grizzlies began the game with a pair of treys by Mayo and Gay, and a dunk by Darrell Arthur to shoot out to an 8-0 lead in the opening 2:19. The Lakers then got Pau Gasol's layup, Bynum's dunk and layup, and a drive by Ariza that made it 8-8 4:26 in.

Los Angeles went on to lead 23-15 at the end of the first quarter and was in front the rest of the game.

The Lakers close the regular season at home Tuesday against the Utah Jazz, their probable first-round foes. -AP

04-18-2009, 02:44 PM
Jazz limp into first-round matchup against Lakers
04/17/2009 | 04:24 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz know why nobody is giving them a chance to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

They haven't given any reason to suspect an upset is possible against the top team in the Western Conference.

"It's our fault," point guard Deron Williams said. "If you asked people at the beginning of the season they probably would have said we have a chance."

Utah ended the season by losing seven of nine, punctuated by a 125-112 loss to the Lakers on Tuesday in the regular-season finale.

When the Jazz return to Los Angeles for Game 1 on Sunday, they will have one chance to convert everybody who has declared the series over before it even begins.

And there are plenty.

Local headlines Thursday included "They're toast" and "Road kill," a reference to Utah's 15-26 record away from home.

The Jazz shrugged off the harsh reviews before they returned to practice Thursday, noting that the series is still tied 0-0.

"We finished the season kind of weak, but it's over with now," Williams said.

Utah had a difficult schedule at the end, playing six straight road games against playoff-bound teams. The Jazz went 1-5 during that stretch and compounded it with losses at home to Minnesota and Golden State in between.

"We put ourselves in a bad position," Williams said.

The Jazz haven't beaten the Lakers in Los Angeles since 2006.

The Lakers ran away with the No. 1 seed in the West, finishing with an 11-game margin over No. 2 Denver, going 65-17 and tying for the third-most wins in the franchise's rich history.

Utah coach Jerry Sloan described the situation as looking "pretty bleak" after the Jazz's late collapse Tuesday night, when the Lakers broke open a one-point game with two big scoring runs and coasted the rest of the way.

Sloan had cooled off a little by Thursday.

"I was listening to what everybody told me," Sloan said. "That's all anybody says — 'How are you going to beat these guys? It's virtually impossible.'"

The series comes to Utah next week for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and Saturday. If Utah comes up with an upset Sunday in the opener or Tuesday in Game 2, the outlook will be decidedly different.

"Whoever wins four first is the winner. You can talk about all the other stuff you want. The bottom line is you've got to play," Sloan said.

"The season is not over — as gloomy as it appears from what everybody says," he added. "Hopefully players are energized by the fact that there's 14 teams already home. And you don't want to be the 15th team."

Utah can use the long break before Sunday's opener to get healthy. Center Mehmet Okur missed Tuesday's game with a strained hamstring and did not practice Thursday.

Forward C.J. Miles is still recovering from a dislocated finger and reserve forward Matt Harpring missed practice with a nasal infection. -AP

04-21-2009, 02:59 PM
Lakers beat Jazz 113-110 to win playoff opener
04/20/2009 | 07:31 AM
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LOS ANGELES – The Lakers won the West in a runaway and they stuck to a similar script in their playoff opener. Kobe Bryant scored 24 points, Trevor Ariza added 21 and Pau Gasol 20 as Los Angeles defeated the Utah Jazz 113-100 Sunday.

Allowing a Phil Jackson-coached team to win Game 1 of any series doesn't bode well for the opposition. Jackson's teams improved to 42-0 in series openers, including 18-0 with the Lakers.

The Lakers wrapped up the top seed in the Western Conference with 2 1/2 weeks remaining in the regular season, and eventually won the West by 11 games.

They pretty much had their way against the Jazz, leading by 22 points at halftime and then answered resoundingly both times Utah got within nine in the second half.

Bryant's total gave him 3,710 career postseason points, moving him past Magic Johnson and into ninth on the NBA's list. He trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4,070) and Jerry West (4,457) for most points in the playoffs with the Lakers.

Carlos Boozer led the Jazz with 27 points and Deron Williams added 16 points and a career playoff-high 17 assists. Both were in foul trouble, with Boozer getting his third just before halftime when Williams already had two.

The Jazz sorely missed Mehmet Okur, who sat out with a mild right hamstring strain. He averages 17 points and 7.5 rebounds and gives Utah a much-needed inside presence against the Lakers' twin 7-footers, Andrew Bynum and Gasol.

Bynum had seven points and three rebounds playing in foul trouble most of the game.

The Jazz were 15-26 on the road during the regular season, and their luck at Staples Center isn't any better. The Lakers have won 10 in a row, including playoff games, at home against them.

The Jazz outscored the Lakers 33-24 in the third quarter to trail 86-73 going into the final 12 minutes. They opened the quarter on a 9-0 run, then a 9-2 burst got them to 72-63, their first single-digit deficit since late in the opening quarter.

But Bryant scored three in a row and Shannon Brown hit a 3-pointer that kept the Lakers ahead by 13.

The Jazz got to 98-89 on a 3-pointer by Andrei Kirilenko with 5:46 remaining in the game. Bryant answered with four points in a row and Gasol hit two free throws that pushed the lead back to 13 points.

Williams stole the ball from Bryant to start the game and the Jazz hit three quick shots to take their largest lead of four points.

It was all Lakers after that.

Bryant spent the first quarter getting his teammates involved, dishing off to Ariza and Brown for 3-pointers, and the Lakers built a 30-10 lead while shooting 71 percent.

Bryant sat down to start the second quarter while Lamar Odom and Bynum combined to score the Lakers' first 12 points, stretching their lead to 42-29. Twice the Jazz got within 10 in that span, but the Lakers took off on a 20-8 scoring binge the second time.

Bryant contributed by reeling off nine consecutive points before Luke Walton's 3-pointer gave the Lakers a 62-40 halftime lead.

The Jazz struggled on 35 percent shooting from the floor, and hit just 1-of-7 from 3-point range in the half.

Notes: Lakers coach Phil Jackson is breaking with his playoff tradition of wearing the most recent championship ring from his collection of nine NBA titles. "I'm tired of wearing that ring," he said about his 2002 bauble. "I've been wearing it for seven years now." ... Utah coach Jerry Sloan, Bryant and Odom each received technical fouls. ... Lakers G Jordan Farmar played despite tendinitis in his right pinky toe. ... Kanye West, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Eddie Murphy and Kelsey Grammar were among the celebs at the game. - AP

04-21-2009, 02:59 PM
Lakers beat Jazz 113-110 to win playoff opener
04/20/2009 | 07:31 AM
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LOS ANGELES – The Lakers won the West in a runaway and they stuck to a similar script in their playoff opener. Kobe Bryant scored 24 points, Trevor Ariza added 21 and Pau Gasol 20 as Los Angeles defeated the Utah Jazz 113-100 Sunday.

Allowing a Phil Jackson-coached team to win Game 1 of any series doesn't bode well for the opposition. Jackson's teams improved to 42-0 in series openers, including 18-0 with the Lakers.

The Lakers wrapped up the top seed in the Western Conference with 2 1/2 weeks remaining in the regular season, and eventually won the West by 11 games.

They pretty much had their way against the Jazz, leading by 22 points at halftime and then answered resoundingly both times Utah got within nine in the second half.

Bryant's total gave him 3,710 career postseason points, moving him past Magic Johnson and into ninth on the NBA's list. He trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4,070) and Jerry West (4,457) for most points in the playoffs with the Lakers.

Carlos Boozer led the Jazz with 27 points and Deron Williams added 16 points and a career playoff-high 17 assists. Both were in foul trouble, with Boozer getting his third just before halftime when Williams already had two.

The Jazz sorely missed Mehmet Okur, who sat out with a mild right hamstring strain. He averages 17 points and 7.5 rebounds and gives Utah a much-needed inside presence against the Lakers' twin 7-footers, Andrew Bynum and Gasol.

Bynum had seven points and three rebounds playing in foul trouble most of the game.

The Jazz were 15-26 on the road during the regular season, and their luck at Staples Center isn't any better. The Lakers have won 10 in a row, including playoff games, at home against them.

The Jazz outscored the Lakers 33-24 in the third quarter to trail 86-73 going into the final 12 minutes. They opened the quarter on a 9-0 run, then a 9-2 burst got them to 72-63, their first single-digit deficit since late in the opening quarter.

But Bryant scored three in a row and Shannon Brown hit a 3-pointer that kept the Lakers ahead by 13.

The Jazz got to 98-89 on a 3-pointer by Andrei Kirilenko with 5:46 remaining in the game. Bryant answered with four points in a row and Gasol hit two free throws that pushed the lead back to 13 points.

Williams stole the ball from Bryant to start the game and the Jazz hit three quick shots to take their largest lead of four points.

It was all Lakers after that.

Bryant spent the first quarter getting his teammates involved, dishing off to Ariza and Brown for 3-pointers, and the Lakers built a 30-10 lead while shooting 71 percent.

Bryant sat down to start the second quarter while Lamar Odom and Bynum combined to score the Lakers' first 12 points, stretching their lead to 42-29. Twice the Jazz got within 10 in that span, but the Lakers took off on a 20-8 scoring binge the second time.

Bryant contributed by reeling off nine consecutive points before Luke Walton's 3-pointer gave the Lakers a 62-40 halftime lead.

The Jazz struggled on 35 percent shooting from the floor, and hit just 1-of-7 from 3-point range in the half.

Notes: Lakers coach Phil Jackson is breaking with his playoff tradition of wearing the most recent championship ring from his collection of nine NBA titles. "I'm tired of wearing that ring," he said about his 2002 bauble. "I've been wearing it for seven years now." ... Utah coach Jerry Sloan, Bryant and Odom each received technical fouls. ... Lakers G Jordan Farmar played despite tendinitis in his right pinky toe. ... Kanye West, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Eddie Murphy and Kelsey Grammar were among the celebs at the game. - AP

04-21-2009, 03:01 PM
Phil Jackson wants Lakers to avoid letup vs Jazz
04/21/2009 | 09:56 AM
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LOS ANGELES – Phil Jackson wants a better sustained effort from the Lakers against the Utah Jazz. Not a repeat of the second half when Utah camped out at the free-throw line, scored inside and mucked up the flow.

Sure, the Lakers won Sunday's series opener by 13 points, but they got outscored in the second half after leading by 22 at the break.

Jackson was so displeased with the final 24 minutes that he wrote a message afterward in the locker room: "15? Not like that." He was referring to the team needing 15 more victories to win its first NBA championship since 2002.

"We're not going to win 15 games if we play like that," Jackson said Monday. "This is a time of the season where you look for improvement."

The Jazz will be looking to end its 10-game losing skid at Staples Center in Game 2 Tuesday night. Utah coach Jerry Sloan questioned his team's nastiness after their loss, and he was still prodding them Monday.

"You've got to get up and guard people," he said. "This is the playoffs. It's not the regular season. We're playing, to some extent, like it's a regular-season game. They're too good a team to play that way."

Carlos Boozer offered his interpretation of Sloan's demand for nastiness.

"Our style is physical, in your face, scrappy, feisty, whatever you want to call it," he said. "We've got to make them feel that all night long."

Utah controlled the second half, outscoring the Lakers 60-51 although the Jazz never got closer than nine points twice.

"I didn't like the way we carried ourselves at the end of the game and the start of the second half," Jackson said. "There's a tendency for this team when they do that to let up in the third quarter. I don't like that. It's about playing hard all the time and playing with purpose."

The Jazz's biggest impact came at the line, where Utah was 29-of-35, and the repeated trips slowed the game down.

"You give a team free throws, then all of a sudden it stops the momentum and the game becomes choppy and they sneak back into the game," Kobe Bryant said. "From that point forward, it's an uphill battle to try to regain momentum. They kept getting to nine, 10, but they never were able to break through that and that was good execution on our part."

The Jazz scored 44 points in the paint Sunday despite the absence of center Mehmet Okur, who averages 17 points. He worked out on the sideline during Monday's practice, but the Jazz said it would be a game-time decision whether he can play with a strained right hamstring.

"Mehmo does so much for our team," Boozer said. "He spreads the floor out. Not many centers step out and shoot 3s and bring the opposing center out of the paint. We're missing his offense. We're missing his presence out there."

The Jazz outrebounded the Lakers by eight, and held a 20-7 edge on the offensive boards, another stat that Jackson found irksome.

"We could be doing a lot better, but a lot of that is because (Deron) Williams takes so much of an effort from our big guys," he said. "They're trying to stay in front of him because it's hard for our guards to stop that drive then it's leaving (Paul) Millsap and Boozer and other guys open opportunities to rebound the ball."

The Jazz's road struggles this season were well documented, but Utah is 28-81 away from home in franchise playoff games.

"If we steal one tomorrow then the series is back in our favor, but no matter what, they've still got to come to Salt Lake," Boozer said.

Williams had 16 points and a career playoff-high 17 assists while playing 45 minutes in the opener, and he's ready to go the full 48 Tuesday if need be.

"It just all depends on how the game is going. If we're down 20 points at halftime, then I'm probably going to play most of the game," he said. "If we're hanging in there, Brev's (Brevin Knight) playing good and the second group is clicking, then he can probably afford to leave me out a little longer."

For his part, Bryant relishes the Jazz's physical style.

"It's the same old Utah, they're just going to keep coming at you," he said. "It's East Coast-style basketball."

Jackson's teams have never lost a playoff series after winning Game 1, going 41-for-41 with Chicago and the Lakers.

"We just don't want to be the team that (messes) it up," Bryant said. - AP

04-21-2009, 03:12 PM
Hope the Lakers win Game Number 2 tom para pagpunta ng Utah, may advantage na kagad sila.

04-29-2009, 02:37 PM
Lakers oust Jazz, so they await their next opponent.

05-01-2009, 04:22 PM
Bryant, Lakers close out Jazz with 107-96 win
04/28/2009 | 01:45 PM
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are moving on in the NBA playoffs — as if that was really in doubt.

With Bryant making everything from 3-pointers to a fadeaway jumper while falling on his backside, the Lakers ran away from the Utah Jazz on Monday night, winning 107-96 to finish the opening-round series in five games.

Bryant scored 31 points and Lamar Odom had 26 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who earned several days of rest before meeting the winner of the Portland-Houston series.

The Lakers didn't want to have to go back to Salt Lake City, the site of their Game 3 collapse and their Game 4 bounceback.

Although it wasn't the most artistic game at times, the Lakers got the shots to fall when they needed them most.

If there was any question that this was going to be the Lakers' night on their home court, Bryant answered that in the closing seconds of the first half.

He drove the lane and passed to Pau Gasol. The ball was batted loose and Bryant grabbed it, turned and sank a fadeaway jumper as he fell on his rear end, giving the Lakers a 56-43 halftime lead.

By late in the third quarter, the Lakers were toying with the Jazz. Bryant made a layup, hit a 3-pointer and fed Gasol for a slam dunk. Odom added a bucket and just like that it was 80-58.

The crowd spent the ensuing timeout cheering the celebrities shown on the big screen at Staples Center — John McEnroe, Dustin Hoffman, Glenn Frey and, of course, Jack Nicholson.

The Jazz cut the lead to 93-86 with 4:37 left but Bryant hit a turnaround jumper and Odom finished a fast break with a slam dunk to fend off Utah's late run.

Paul Millsap led Utah with 16 points while Andrei Kirilenko and Deron Williams had 14 apiece.

Gasol had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Trevor Ariza 12 points for the Lakers.

The Lakers weren't particularly sharp in the first quarter, and the Jazz held on for a 26-all tie.

But when the Jazz took out Williams starting the second quarter, the Lakers went on an 8-0 that put them ahead for good. Odom and Bryant each hit a 3-pointer and Bryant made two free throws for a 34-26 lead. -AP

05-01-2009, 04:22 PM
Lakers' Bynum anticipating showdown with Yao
04/30/2009 | 08:48 AM
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – After his teammates had left the court, Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum was still there, shooting jumpers with assistant coach Kurt Rambis at the team's practice facility on Wednesday morning.

Bynum's mission?

Rebound from a mediocre performance during the first round of the NBA playoffs and prepare for a likely matchup against the Rockets' Yao Ming.

Although the Lakers are still awaiting the winner of the Houston-Portland series, Bynum believes it will be the Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals. Houston holds a 3-2 lead in the series with Game 6 at home Thursday night.

"I expect to play more just because of Yao Ming being out there," said Bynum, who averaged 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in five games against Utah in the first round. "That's who I'm thinking we're going to play.

"They have the lead and they have two games to win one."

After disposing of Utah, the Lakers took Tuesday off and had another light day on Wednesday. Players watched film and received treatment before leaving, though some including Bynum stayed behind to play 3-on-3.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson missed the session to attend to personal matters while Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza left the facility early.

Bynum started the first three games against the Jazz before being relegated to a reserve role the last two.

After missing 32 games during the regular season with a torn MCL in his right knee, Bynum said he is still adjusting to moving with a heavy brace and trying to find his rhythm again.

Lakers assistant coach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — who has worked closely with the 21-year-old Bynum, now in his third season in the league — believes Bynum will be fine.

"He wants to excel," Abdul-Jabbar said. "He's looking to dominate the game and sometimes you have to be patient.

"He's figuring it out. By he end of the playoffs, people won't be talking about these issues."

Though Bynum is certain the Lakers will play Houston, whom the Lakers swept during the regular season, forward Pau Gasol said he was "absolutely not" thinking about Houston.

"First, they have to finish this series off," Gasol said. "I think that game tomorrow will be really hard on them.

"They're playing big, big minutes, all their starters, so let's see how they hold up and if they're able to pull off that win at home. Which probably they will, but it's not 100 percent."

To veteran guard Derek Fisher, who has won three NBA championships with the Lakers, it doesn't matter who the team plays.

Houston is the more experienced squad that relies heavily on the 7-6 Yao and has gotten great play out of 6-9 Luis Scola, while Portland is more athletic and led by dynamic two-time All-Star and former rookie of the year Brandon Roy.

The Lakers looked dominant at times against Utah before letting the Jazz cut into double-digit leads in three games that made the final outcome more difficult than they should have been, but Fisher is confident he and his teammates won't make the same mistakes again.

Despite sweeping the regular season series against Houston and splitting the series against Portland with each team winning both home games, Fisher has no preference on who the Lakers play next because he feels his team controls its own destiny.

"The things that we've done to build the type of leads that we've built against anybody, those are the things that we're capable of doing for longer periods of time and not allowing that slippage," Fisher said.

"In my opinion, it's not a matter of who we're playing against. If we're able to hold our focus and our intensity, it doesn't matter." - AP

05-09-2009, 02:43 PM
Lakers know Yao Ming presents big obstacle
05/03/2009 | 08:35 AM
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EL SEGUNDO, California — Yao Ming stands as a big obstacle in the Los Angeles Lakers' way of returning to the NBA finals.

Just not as big as Lamar Odom thought.

Though Yao is listed at 7-feet-6 (2.29 meters), Odom made the Chinese star even bigger when discussing the Houston Rockets' center after practice on Saturday.

"I've never played against a player that was 7-7 (2.31) and so skilled," the Lakers forward said. "He can really shoot, has passing ability.

"He has a high IQ for the game. He's so wide down low, too. He's hard to get around."

When informed that Yao is actually 7-6 (2.29), Odom laughed.

"Shoot, it doesn't make a difference after that," Odom joked, "7-7, 7-6; same thing. He's tall."

Finding a way to run their offense efficiently with Yao in the paint and trying to contain him are top priorities for the Lakers, who will host the Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Monday.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson has been impressed with the way Yao has increased his stamina to play more minutes. In four regular-season games against the Lakers, Yao averaged 15.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks while playing 33.8 minutes per game.

The Lakers swept the season series against the Rockets for the first time since the 2001-02 season, winning by an average of 13 points. During those four contests, the Lakers averaged 102.8 points while holding the Rockets to 89.8 points.

That means little to the Lakers, who are aware that regular-season results don't mean anything once the playoffs start. Jackson noted that several key players from each team didn't play each time they faced each other.

"I think they understand the regular season has a lot of parameters to it," Jackson said. "There's a lot that goes into the regular season that doesn't match up in the playoffs.

"This is a whole new ballgame now."

The Lakers haven't played since finishing off the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of their first-round series last Monday.

The time off has given the players an opportunity to rest and has been especially beneficial for Lakers forward Luke Walton, who is nursing a sprained ankle, but may be available to play this series.

Center Andrew Bynum spent the downtime preparing for Yao in hopes of bouncing back from a subpar performance against Utah. Bynum got into foul trouble and averaged 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in that series.

But Bynum, who missed 32 games during the regular season with a torn MCL in his right knee, will likely be inserted into the starting lineup on Monday. -AP

05-09-2009, 02:45 PM
Yao Ming hurts knee in fourth quarter vs Lakers
05/05/2009 | 01:19 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Houston Rockets center Yao Ming hurt his right knee when he collided with Kobe Bryant in the fourth quarter of Monday night's Western Conference semifinal opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant drove on Yao in the key and the two collided, with Yao falling to the floor. Los Angeles' Pau Gasol picked up the ball for a slam dunk that pulled the Lakers to 85-79 with 4:54 left.

Yao grabbed his knee and grimaced in pain as he sat on the floor. After being tended to, he limped off the court. Moments later, he was back in the game. -AP

05-09-2009, 02:46 PM
Rockets outmuscle Lakers 100-92 in series opener
05/05/2009 | 01:46 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Blood flowed, players were sprawled on the court and the Houston Rockets came into Staples Center and outmuscled Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Yao Ming, who briefly left with a knee injury in the closing minutes, had 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Rockets to a physical 100-92 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Ron Artest added 21 points and Aaron Brooks had 19 for the Rockets, who are in the second round since 1997.

Bryant, who finished a distant second to LeBron James in NBA MVP voting announced earlier Monday, scored 32 points, doing his best to keep the Lakers in the game despite missing practice on Sunday with a sore throat. He scored 22 of the Lakers' final 42 points.

Houston forward Shane Battier needed four stitches to close a gash over his left eye late in the first quarter.

Although the Rockets took the brunt of the hits, Yao was too much for the Lakers. The Rockets were much livelier on offense and wrested away homecourt advantage from the top-seeded Lakers.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

Bryant drove on Yao in the key and the two collided, with Yao falling to the court. Los Angeles' Pau Gasol picked up the ball for a slam dunk that pulled the Lakers to 85-79 with 4:54 left.

Yao grabbed his knee and grimaced in pain as he sat on the court. After being tended to, he limped off the court. Moments later, after stretching his knee in the tunnel, he was back in the game.

Yao had eight points after coming back; a jumper and six free throws. He made all 10 of his free throws.

Battier was cut over his left eye and had blood streaming down his face in the closing seconds of the first quarter. He was hit when Los Angeles' Sasha Vujacic swatted a loose ball out to Bryant. The force of the impact knocked Battier to the ground.

Workers spent a few minutes wiping blood off the court.

Battier returned late in the second quarter.

Earlier in the quarter, the Lakers' Pau Gasol had trainers work on a cut over his left eye, and Gasol returned to the game, finishing with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The Lakers trailed 59-50 with just less than 6 minutes left in the third quarter after Artest hit a 3-pointer. Bryant scored 11 of the Lakers' last 14 points in the quarter, which ended with the Rockets ahead 70-67.

Bryant made three jumpers in just over than 2 minutes, helping keep the Lakers close as both Yao and Brooks drove the baseline for dunks. -AP

05-09-2009, 02:47 PM
Bryant relishes adversity against Rockets
05/06/2009 | 12:29 PM
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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers were abject failures in their Western Conference semifinal opener against the Houston Rockets. It was hard to tell, though, by Kobe Bryant's downright cheerful attitude Tuesday.

"We played really bad," he said of the 100-92 loss in which the Lakers shot 44 percent from the floor, were 2-of-18 from 3-point range, and 12-of-19 from the line.

Sensing panic in the streets among Laker fans, Bryant offered up some calming words.

"It's not like it's the end of the world," he said. "We're not the first team ever to lose a Game 1 at home, it's just here in Los Angeles, people get pretty nervous."

Bryant isn't among them.

"Last year we kind of had a cakewalk to the NBA finals, it feels good to be tested a little bit," he said. "To be champions, you got to go through some stuff. You got to have the resolve to be able to fight through a little adversity and respond, so here it is."

The Lakers fell behind in the first quarter Monday night and never got into a rhythm. They had been off for six days after dispatching Utah in the first round.

Game 2 against the Rockets is Wednesday night at Staples Center.

"The next game is extremely critical," Bryant said. "Everybody is a little edgy, pretty energetic and excited about it."

Andrew Bynum returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench in the last two games against Utah. But he picked up two quick fouls, and finished with 10 points and just three rebounds in 15 minutes.

"It is hurting the team," he said, adding that he's no more than 90 percent physically as he continues recovering from a torn MCL in his right knee.

Bynum's ability to pivot and jump explosively is missing, and he needs those skills to defend Houston's Yao Ming, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds in Game 1.

"He's got to be much more active as a defender, not letting Yao catch the ball where he wants to," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

"Yao will catch it and throw it back out and reposition in a better position. Drew has a tendency to just stand behind and play defense because of his size. That doesn't work against Yao. Defense and rebounding are the focus we really want to have."

The Rockets appeared relaxed and energetic at their practice, knowing they've suddenly got the Lakers' full attention.

"Tomorrow is going to be probably the most difficult game," coach Rick Adelman said. "They're going to really come after us."

Yao showed no ill effects from his knee-to-knee collision with Bryant on Monday, when he limped off the court before returning. Yao went through a full practice Tuesday, then sat with an ice pack around his right knee.

"It's a little bit sore. It's fine. I could move around well," he said. "We are a physical team, particularly defensively. If the rest of the games stay like Game 1, we're happy."

The Rockets shot 48 percent from the floor, with speedy second-year guard Aaron Brooks scoring 19 points.

"You almost got to treat him like Tony Parker in terms of his speed and quickness in getting to the rim," Bryant said.

Houston's Shane Battier got into a minor shoving match with Bryant while chasing a loose ball. Battier later took an inadvertent elbow from Sasha Vujacic, drawing blood that streamed down the left side of Battier's face.

Even though Bryant had an off-night shooting (14-of-31 for 32 points), Battier expects the guy he describes as "the best player on the planet" to do more damage.

"We've just got to make him take a lot of shots, make him work and try to limit the offense of the other guys," Battier said. "He's so great, you've got to give him different looks."

Bryant's confidence and upbeat attitude stemmed from knowing the Lakers can't play any worse than they did.

"I feel fantastic," he said, grinning. "We know we can perform better. I'm anxious to see how we respond." – AP

05-09-2009, 02:48 PM
Lakers' Derek Fisher, Houston's Artest ejected
05/07/2009 | 01:22 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher and Houston Rockets forward Ron Artest were ejected in separate incidents in the second half of Wednesday night's Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Fisher was called for a flagrant foul with 13 seconds left in the third quarter when he collided with Luis Scola as the Rockets brought the ball up the court.

Scola fell to the court and Fisher received a cut on his head near his right ear.

Moments earlier, Scola and Lakers teammates Luke Walton and Lamar Odom were all hit with technical fouls after they jawed at Los Angeles' end of the court.

With 6:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, Artest received a technical and was ejected after pointing and making a gesture near his throat after complaining that Kobe Bryant of the Lakers had elbowed him in the throat under the basket.

Bryant received a technical foul a few minutes later when he said something to Houston's Shane Battier after hitting a shot. -AP

05-09-2009, 02:48 PM
Lakers beat Rockets 111-98 to even playoff series
05/07/2009 | 01:39 PM
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LOS ANGELES— Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, Pau Gasol added 22 points and 14 rebounds and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Houston Rockets won 111-98 in Game 2 on Wednesday night to even the Western Conference semifinal series.

Ron Artest, one of two players ejected in the game, scored 25 points and Carl Landry added a career playoff-high 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who overcame a 14-point deficit in the first half only to trail most of the second half.

Game 3 is Friday night in Houston.

Houston's Yao Ming finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds after picking up three fouls in the first half.

Emotions boiled over in the second half, with Derek Fisher and Artest getting ejected and five technical fouls assessed, including one to Bryant. -AP

05-09-2009, 02:49 PM
Update: Lakers beat Rockets to even playoff series
05/07/2009 | 02:12 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Another rough-and-tumble game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets turned bloody. This time, though, the Lakers defended their home court.

Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, Pau Gasol added 22 points and 14 rebounds and the Lakers won Game 2 111-98 on Wednesday night to even the Western Conference semifinal series.

Ron Artest, one of two players ejected in the game, scored 25 points and Carl Landry added a career playoff-high 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who overcame a 14-point deficit in the first half only to trail most of the second half.

Game 3 is Friday night in Houston.

Houston's Yao Ming finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds after picking up three fouls in the first half.

Emotions boiled over in the second half, with Derek Fisher of the Lakers and Artest getting ejected and technical fouls assessed to Bryant, Artest, Luis Scola, Luke Walton and Lamar Odom, who had 11 rebounds.

"It's the playoffs," Bryant said, "this is what it's about."

Artest was sent off the court by referee Joe Crawford with 6:57 remaining in the game after he pointed across the court at Bryant and made a gesture near his throat. Artest complained that he was elbowed in the throat by Bryant under the basket.

"We are playing basketball, there is a lot of contact taking place," Bryant said. "If you are going to be physical you have to expect to get physical back."

The final 30 seconds of the third quarter turned into a foul fest. Scola and teammates Odom and Walton all were hit with technicals after they jawed at the Lakers' end of the court.

Moments later, Fisher was called for a flagrant foul when he collided with Scola as the Rockets brought the ball up the court.

Scola fell to the court and Fisher received a bloody cut on his head near his right ear. Scola made both free throws and Houston retained possession.

There was sideline drama, too. Houston's Von Wafer was escorted to the locker room at the end of the third quarter after he was seen exchanging words with coach Rick Adelman.

Blood ran in Monday's series opener, won by the Rockets. Houston's Shane Battier had blood streaming down the left side of his face after catching an inadvertent elbow from Sasha Vujacic.

"Right from the opening tip we wanted to be aggressive, get after it a bit," Bryant said. "We are being tested and this is fun."

In between the whistles and walkoffs, there was basketball.

The Lakers opened the fourth quarter on a 13-9 run that pushed their lead to 99-86. The Rockets closed to 99-90 on a 3-pointer by Aaron Brooks, but Bryant scored five straight points and Houston didn't threaten again.

Tied at halftime, the Lakers outscored the Rockets 16-4 to take a 73-62 lead midway through the third quarter. Los Angeles made 7 of 9 free throws down the stretch and extended its lead to 86-77 entering the final 12 minutes.

Led by Landry's 16 points, the Rockets' reserves clobbered the Lakers' bench in the second quarter and erased all of the 14-point deficit. Houston took its first lead of the game, 49-48, on a 14-foot jumper by Artest that capped a 10-0 run.

Wafer added five points and Chuck Hayes two as Houston led by four points late in the period. But Bryant hit a 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds remaining to pull the Lakers into a halftime tie at 57.

The Lakers shot 73 percent from the field in the first quarter, streaking to a 39-25 lead. Bryant had 15 points — including a 22-footer to beat the final buzzer — and Gasol added 13. The Rockets made 10 of 18 shots but never led. -AP

05-09-2009, 02:49 PM
Magic's Alston, Lakers' Fisher suspended by NBA
05/08/2009 | 08:02 AM
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NEW YORK – Rafer Alston of Orlando and Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers have each been suspended for the next game of their playoff series.

In the Magic's 112-94 loss on Tuesday night, Boston's Eddie House was celebrating as after making a shot when Alston reached out and slapped him in the back of the head. Each received a technical foul after standing face-to-face for a few seconds before referees intervened.

For Los Angeles, Fisher was called for a flagrant foul when he collided with Luis Scola, who was setting a pick, as the Rockets brought the ball up the court. He was ejected.

Both players will sit out of games on Friday. The Magic are at home, tied 1-1 with Boston, while the Lakers will be in Houston. That series is also 1-1. - AP

05-09-2009, 02:50 PM
Lakers-Rockets series shifts to Houston
05/08/2009 | 01:14 PM
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HOUSTON — Round 3 might be a more fitting label than Game 3 when the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets meet Friday night in the Western Conference semifinal series.

Ron Artest of the Rockets and Derek Fisher of the Lakers were ejected in separate incidents and a total of five technical fouls were called in Los Angeles' testy 111-98 victory on Wednesday night that evened the series at 1-1.

On Thursday, the NBA suspended Fisher for Game 3 after he decked Luis Scola with a shoulder block as the Rockets forward set a pick. Houston coach Rick Adelman called the shot "malicious" and said the suspension was justified.

"There was just no excuse for anybody doing that," Adelman said Thursday.

Later in Game 2, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers hit Artest with an elbow that wasn't called. Artest pleaded to the referees, then ran across the court and got right in Bryant's face, earning a technical and the ejection.

The league gave Bryant a flagrant foul one penalty on Thursday, meaning he will be suspended for one game if he gets three more flagrant foul ones during the postseason.

Artest was disappointed with the ruling on Bryant, saying NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson should look at the replay again.

Artest said Bryant landed his elbow above his shoulders, but Jackson said it hit Artest in the chest.

"If that was me throwing the elbow at Kobe, first of all, I would've hurt Kobe way more than he hurt me," said Artest, who scored 25 points in Game 2. "I probably would've knocked him out with the same force he used against me. That's why I'm not going to throw an elbow at somebody's head. It's dangerous. That goes to show me, that if Kobe hits me with an elbow, I can just get hit."

So what's in store for Game 3?

Shane Battier, who has guarded Bryant for most of the series, expects both teams to tone down the unnecessary roughness, because the referees will try to take immediate control.

"They'll call a tight game, a lot tighter game than we've seen to this point," Battier said.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson isn't so sure the shoving will stop.

"They're going to be physical, we're going to have to meet that," Jackson said. "I don't think we have to retaliate, but we certainly have to be able to contest."

Bryant, who scored 40 points in Game 2, said the Lakers are benefiting from the series' ruggedness so far.

"I think it's good for us," Bryant said. "It elevates our play, it makes the game extremely emotional and kind of raises it to a fever pitch, which brings out the best in a lot of players."

Artest said the Lakers want to prove they can handle physical play after losing to Boston in last year's finals.

"They don't want that to happen again," Artest said. "Last year, that was the word on the street, that they got punked by the Celtics. This year, they came out tough, so I kind of respect them."

Amid the confrontations in Game 2, Pau Gasol had 22 points and 14 rebounds and Lamar Odom added 11 rebounds, starting in place of struggling Andrew Bynum. The two helped hold Yao Ming to 12 points after Houston's leading scorer had 28 in the series opener.

Houston committed 19 turnovers which Los Angeles turned into 23 points, one of Adelman's main concerns heading into Game 3.

"We were really stagnant (Wednesday), we stood a lot," Adelman said. "We're turning the ball over because they're very aggressive. They're one of the best teams at guarding isolations, guarding post-ups. We have to get them out of their comfort level defensively."

The Rockets, who took home-court advantage in the series with their Game 1 victory, went 33-8 at home during the regular season. But the Lakers compiled the league's best road record (29-12), including two wins in Houston, so the Lakers are downplaying any edge the Rockets may have stolen.

"It's 1-to-1," Odom said. "If you consider home court an advantage, then I guess you could say so. But we can play on the road and I think that we have proved that the whole year."

Adelman said Thursday that Von Wafer will play in Game 3 after the two argued and the guard was sent to the locker room during Game 2. Adelman said Wafer was just upset about being taking out of the game.

"He doesn't have to like coming out," Adelman said, "but it's his job to accept that." – AP

05-09-2009, 02:51 PM
Lakers beat Rockets to take 2-1 series lead
05/09/2009 | 01:05 PM
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HOUSTON — Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and the Los Angeles Lakers took a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series with a 108-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

Lamar Odom had 16 points and 13 rebounds and reserve point guard Jordan Farmar had 12 points and seven assists in place of the suspended Derek Fisher, who was ejected from Game 2 for a hard hit on Luis Scola when he set a pick.

Game 3 had no signs of the rough play that turned testy in Game 2 until the final minute, when Houston's Ron Artest was ejected for a hard foul on Pau Gasol. Artest was ejected from Game 2 for a verbal altercation with Bryant following Bryant's elbow to Artest's upper chest.

"I don't think that was a flagrant, maybe a flagrant one," Bryant said of Artest's ejection. "That rule is so all over the place, it's hard to judge. I'm an '80s baby, so that's just two shots and let's go."

Artest had 25 points and Yao Ming added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets but he was bothered by a lower left leg injury in the final minutes and was limping as he left the court.

The Lakers snapped the Rockets' nine-game home winning streak.

Game 4 is Sunday in Houston.

The Rockets trailed 50-48 at halftime, then missed 15 of their first 19 shots in the third quarter.

"We had to get stops," Bryant said. "When they started desperation plays we were not able to get stops. In the third quarter and into the fourth quarter, we started to get stops and it sustained us."

Bryant had a quiet third quarter until the final 3 seconds, when he took an inbounds pass, dribbled away from Artest and swished a straight-on 33-footer at the buzzer to give the Lakers a 74-62 lead. He struck a frozen pose at midcourt after another signature shot, silencing the capacity crowd that booed him every time he touched the ball.

"I missed some easy shots at the rim, they just didn't go down for me," Bryant said. "I had to pull the string on that 3-pointer."

Early in the fourth quarter, Houston's Von Wafer jumped into Sasha Vujacic on a 3-point try and hit the floor. Players from both teams rushed over, but Wafer defused a potential confrontation by walking away. Wafer made three free throws to cut Houston's deficit to 81-71.

Artest muscled inside for a layup and Yao dunked to pull the Rockets within 90-84 by the 4-minute mark. Farmar sank a baseline jumper with 3:54 to boost the lead back to eight.

Yao missed a baseline shot with 3 minutes left and Bryant beat the shot clock with another 3 with 2:21 left for a 95-84 that virtually put it away.

Los Angeles pushed the tempo from the start.

Odom dunked an alley-oop pass from Trevor Ariza 9 seconds into the game and Bryant hit a 3-pointer a minute later to pass Larry Bird and move into sixth place on the all-time postseason scoring list.

Los Angeles led 30-28 heading to the second quarter, notable because the team leading after the first period had won all of Houston's eight previous playoff games.

The first sign of the chippy play that marred Game 2 came midway through the second quarter, when Luke Walton was called for a technical foul for nonchalantly kicking the ball after knocking down Kyle Lowry.

Bryant went 5 for 6 from the field and had 11 points in the first quarter, then missed six of seven shots in the second. The Rockets slowed the pace, got to the free-throw line more and took a 46-43 lead.

But Houston had 11 turnovers in the first half — two in the final 90 seconds — and the Lakers were up two at the half. – AP

05-11-2009, 03:31 PM
Rockets rip Lakers 99-87 without Yao, even series
05/11/2009 | 06:20 AM
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(Upadted 10 a.m.) HOUSTON – The Houston Rockets not only beat the Los Angeles Lakers without Yao Ming, they made it look easy. Aaron Brooks scored a career-high 34, Shane Battier sank five 3-pointers and added 23 and the Houston Rockets routed the Los Angeles Lakers 99-87 on Sunday to even their Western Conference semifinal at two games apiece.

Luis Scola had 11 points and 14 rebounds as the Rockets got exactly the team effort they needed after Yao broke his left foot in the Lakers' win in Game 3.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles, and anyone who thought the Rockets were finished without their best player only needed to watch the first few minutes on Sunday, when Houston built a 22-7 lead.

Pau Gasol scored 30 points and Kobe Bryant had a quiet 15 for Los Angeles.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson warned his team about taking the Rockets too lightly after hearing about Yao's injury. But the Lakers looked lethargic from the start, giving away careless turnovers and playing lax defense.

The Rockets opened the game with a 22-7 run, starting 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Bryant scored the Lakers' first three baskets, but the rest of the team missed its first seven shots.

Houston led 54-36 at the break. The Lakers grabbed only two offensive rebounds and generated only four fast-break points in their lowest-scoring half of the season. Battier had 15 points at halftime, two more than Bryant.

The Rockets outscored Los Angeles 29-18 in the decisive third quarter, led by Brooks' 17 points. The speedy, 6-foot guard finished the quarter by catching a midcourt pass by Ron Artest and putting in a layup just before the buzzer.

Lamar Odom, who scored 16 points in Game 3, drove into Battier and was called for a charge midway through the quarter. He hit the floor hard, limped to the bench and went to the locker room with back spasms. He did not return.

And when Brooks completed the last-second alley-oop, Artest smacked his hands on the scorers' table and smiled to the roaring crowd, in seeming disbelief about the way things were going.

Artest scored only eight points, but had 10 rebounds and six assists.

Bryant returned from a long rest with 5:41 left in the game and the Lakers cut the deficit to 10. But it was too late by then and Brooks fittingly scored Houston's last two points on free throws in the final minute. - AP

05-13-2009, 03:28 PM
Lakers bounce back to beat Rockets 118-78
05/13/2009 | 02:28 PM
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LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant needed only three quarters to score 26 points and the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back from their Game 4 flop, routing the Houston Rockets 118-78 on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

The top-seeded Lakers did everything they didn't do in Sunday's 99-87 loss at Houston — hustled, rebounded and played tight defense on Houston's smaller lineup, keeping Aaron Brooks in check and limiting wide-open shots.

On Sunday the Lakers trailed by 29 points. On Tuesday night, they had a 29-point lead by late in the second quarter, on a 3-pointer by Bryant, who led seven Lakers in double figures.

The Lakers can wrap up the series Thursday night in Houston.

"We've got to stay focused and understand that the effort we gave tonight is not going to be enough on Thursday. It's just not," Bryant said. "We're not playing some chump team. I don't care how many people they have out. This is a tough team, it's a tough team full of competitors."

The Rockets played their second game without Yao Ming, who sustained a season-ending stress fracture in his left foot in Game 3.

Bryant looked more like himself after being held to 15 points on Sunday. With the Lakers far ahead after holding the Rockets to only 15 points in each of the second and third quarters, he sat out the fourth period.

"We played just the opposite we did the last game," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "We turned it over in the first half, shot it poorly. We said if we turn it over against this team we're going to be in big trouble. That's exactly what we did.

"It just kind of fed their energy level. The second and third quarters are about as bad as we've played in a long time."

Pau Gasol had 16 points and 13 rebounds, Andrew Bynum 14 points, Trevor Ariza 13 and Jordan Farmar 12. Lamar Odom and Josh Powell had 10 apiece.

Brooks was held to 14 points after scoring a career-high 34 on Sunday. Ron Artest had a horrible night shooting, 4-of-15 for nine points. The Rockets shot only 32 percent.

The Lakers fell behind by six points midway through the first quarter, but it didn't take them long to answer the question of whether they'd show up.

Los Angeles gained control by outscoring Houston 23-6 during the final six minutes of the first quarter. Bryant had eight points, making three straight shots at one point. Odom sank a 3-pointer and Farmar another 3 at the buzzer for a 35-24 lead.

With Bryant sitting out at the start of the second quarter, the Lakers didn't lose any of their intensity, going on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 43-24. Gasol made a hook shot and two free throws, Odom made two free throws and Sasha Vujacic blocked a shot by Von Wafer, raced down the court and took a pass from Gasol for a slam dunk.

With Houston going cold, the Lakers piled it on, taking a 64-35 lead on Bryant's 3-pointer with 1:31 before halftime. It was 64-39 at the break. - AP

05-15-2009, 02:45 PM
Rockets force Game 7 with 95-80 win over Lakers
05/15/2009 | 01:20 PM
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HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets came up with one more stunning victory to set up a final showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Aaron Brooks scored 26 points, Luis Scola added 24 points and 12 rebounds, and the scrappy, undermanned Rockets pushed the top-seeded Lakers to the brink in their Western Conference semifinal series with a 95-80 win in Game 6 on Thursday night.

Reserve Carl Landry scored 15 as the Rockets built another huge lead in the first half, then fought off a Lakers rally to force Game 7 on Sunday at the Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant scored 32 and Pau Gasol added 14 for Los Angeles, which lost for only the third time in the last 18 games when it has a chance to close out a series.

The Lakers have one more opportunity to finish off Houston, but they probably didn't expect to need it, three games after Yao Ming exited the series with a broken left foot.

"We still have no chance," Brooks said with a huge smile. "We'll keep playing, though."

The winner will play the Denver Nuggets, who finished off Dallas on Wednesday night and now have a few extra days to rest.

Ron Artest pumped his fist and Scola embraced Brooks near midcourt as the final buzzer sounded and the Lakers walked off the court with their heads down.

Los Angeles won Game 5 by 40 points, matching Houston's worst playoff loss.

The Rockets came out dominant instead of demoralized on Thursday night. They put together a near carbon copy of the first half of Game 4, when they seemed to hit every open shot, smothered the Lakers on defense and built an 18-point halftime lead.

Bryant missed a halfcourt shot at the halftime buzzer in this one and angrily shook his head as he stormed off the court. The Rockets led 52-36 at the break — one basket shy of the halftime score in Game 4.

On Sunday, Houston stretched its lead to 29 and cruised to a 99-87 win. This time, the Lakers made a game of it, opening the second half with a 16-2 spurt.

But Landry converted a three-point play to break the Lakers' momentum and Brooks sank a 3-pointer to help Houston rebuild its lead.

The Rockets hit their last eight shots in the third quarter and took a 75-65 lead to the fourth. Landry drove down the lane for a one-handed dunk with 6:56 left to put Houston up 81-71 and Bryant checked in after a long rest.

But Bryant missed four of his next six shots and Brooks scored eight points over the next five minutes to secure another surprise over the Western Conference's top seed.

"We got active again against Kobe. He's going to make some shots. We toughed it out in the fourth quarter," Brooks said.

The Lakers outrebounded Houston 45-39, but the Rockets scored 40 points in the paint and held Los Angeles to 36 percent shooting (30-for-84). The Lakers went only 5-for-23 from 3-point range.

Houston opened the game with a 17-1 burst, electrifying another red-clad capacity crowd at the Toyota Center.

Bryant made the Lakers' first field goal near the 6-minute mark, but Scola put in another short jumper to make it 19-3 — one point better than Houston's opening run in Game 4.

Artest got a nice pass from Chuck Hayes and muscled inside for a layup to make it 21-3. The Lakers missed 14 of 20 shots in the quarter and trailed 27-15.

Shane Battier and Artest sank 3-pointers early in the second quarter, another good sign for Houston. The Rockets made 10 3-pointers in their Game 4 victory, but only five in Game 5.

Von Wafer, averaging only 6.6 points in the series, sank a 3 with 5:51 left in the half to put Houston ahead 42-25 and force Lakers coach Phil Jackson to use a timeout.

But Houston stayed in control and Bryant's frustration boiled over near the 2-minute mark.

With Artest blanketing him near midcourt, Bryant appeared to shove Artest and earned a technical foul. The temperamental Artest, ejected from Games 2 and 3, ran away to avoid a confrontation and Brooks sank the free throw for a 47-31 Houston lead. – A

05-20-2009, 03:52 PM
Real Lakers show up, rout Rockets 89-70 in Game 7
05/18/2009 | 08:54 AM
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LOS ANGELES – All is well again in La-La Land. The real Los Angeles Lakers showed up, and in a Game 7, no less.

With Pau Gasol dominating on both ends of the court, the Lakers emphatically silenced the doubters and the Houston Rockets, winning the decisive final game of the Western Conference semifinals 89-70 on Sunday.

Playing with emotion, Gasol scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. The Lakers looked like the conference's top-seeded team, not the maddeningly inconsistent one that was pushed to the limit by the undermanned, smaller Rockets.

Trying to reach the NBA finals for the second straight year, the Lakers host the opener of the conference finals against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.

The Lakers have been so up and down in this series that coach Phil Jackson said before Game 5 that they had a little bit of Jekyll and Hyde in them. That was the night the Lakers raced to a 40-point win at home, only to follow it up two nights later with a 15-point loss, the second straight game they were blind-sided in Houston.

There are any number of theories as to why the Lakers have had a split personality.

Asked what the Lakers learned from this series, Kobe Bryant cracked: "That we're bipolar."

Added Lamar Odom: "To make it interesting. It's Hollywood, you know."

It turns out that home-court advantage and a smothering defense were all it took to jump-start the Lakers, who made sure they didn't choke this one away against the No. 5 seed.

The Lakers dominated the paint on both ends, forcing the Rockets into turnovers and bad shots. The owned the backboards, taking a 55-33 advantage, and blocked 10 shots. They had an 8-0 lead a few minutes in and widened it to 25 points on Gasol's jump hook shortly before halftime.

After the game, Bryant patted Gasol on the shoulder and offered words of congratulations.

"I was just proud of the way he played," Bryant said. "He answered the challenge and he played like one of the best players in the world. I was just excited for him."

Gasol kept Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks from penetrating, as he did often in this series. The Spaniard had 12 defensive rebounds and swatted away three shots.

"We all know what he can do offensively. I just felt like defensively, he had a superb game," Bryant said.

Gasol made 10 of 19 shots. He left to a nice ovation with 3:34 remaining in the game.

Trevor Ariza scored 15 points while Bryant and Andrew Bynum had 14 apiece. Bryant added five assists and seven rebounds.

Brooks was held to 13 points and Luis Scola to 11 for Houston. Ron Artest (seven points) and Shane Battier (three) were non-factors.

"I think we learned that if we play hard every night and we're ready to compete, starting on the defensive end, we're going to give ourselves a chance," Gasol said. "Hopefully we're going to carry that into the next round and to a championship. That's something we need to do consistently, no matter what, no matter where we play."

This one was practically over before the fans settled into their seats.

With Houston missing its first 12 shots, Los Angeles used two Houston turnovers and a blocked shot in racing to an 8-0 lead. Gasol blocked a shot by Scola and fed Bryant for a layup. Scola's turnover led to Ariza's tip-in of Gasol's miss. A turnover by Brooks set up Ariza's 3-pointer, forcing Houston to call timeout with 9:32 to go in the quarter.

Houston missed seven shots during the next 2 1/2 minutes, and didn't get on the scoreboard until Brooks made two free throws just more than five minutes in.

"Coming in here for Game 7, we knew they were going to give us their best shot, especially in the first quarter," Battier said. "To be honest with you, we just didn't have energy to match it. Unfortunately, after we got past the first quarter we played them pretty straight up, but the damage had been done at that point."

During one sequence, Odom blocked a shot by Brooks, Bryant ended up with the ball and whipped a crosscourt pass to Ariza for a 3-pointer and a 13-2 lead.

It wasn't until then that the Rockets made their first basket, a layup by Chuck Hayes.

Houston made only 5 of 20 shots in the first quarter, while the Lakers had 17 rebounds, including 12 on defense.

The Lakers were up 22-12 at the end of the first quarter and steadily pulled away.

Leading by 19, the Lakers scored six straight late in the quarter. Bryant stole a pass and fed Ariza for a slam dunk, bringing Jack Nicholson out of his courtside seat.

It was 51-31 at halftime.

"Obviously, the Lakers are more experienced than us, but I thought we were the better team," Artest said. "I thought it was a good learning experience for these guys. They've been through a Game 7. Most young teams get swept. That will really help the Rockets in the future."

05-20-2009, 03:53 PM
Kobe's Lakers, Melo's Nuggets ready for showtime
05/19/2009 | 11:24 AM
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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers stepped off one thrill ride and, after little time to catch their breath, have to jump on another.

No big deal, Kobe Bryant said Monday, the only day the top-seeded Lakers had to prepare for the Western Conference finals against Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the second-seeded Denver Nuggets.

"You just get after it. We're pretty familiar with this team," Bryant said.

Game 1 is Tuesday night at Staples Center. The Lakers will be trying to get back to the NBA finals for the second straight year while the Nuggets will be trying to get there for the first time.

"Honestly, when we played them in Denver, the second-to-last time we played them, I told Melo, 'I'll see you in the Western Conference finals,' because I just felt like they had all the pieces there," Bryant said. "They had the depth, the toughness. They had the camaraderie. It's no surprise to me that they're here."

The Lakers advanced after an erratic, baffling semifinal series against the Houston Rockets. After being pushed to Game 7, the Lakers responded with an 89-70 win on Sunday, getting a brilliant performance on both ends of the court by Pau Gasol, who had 21 points and 18 rebounds.

The Nuggets have been chilling since Wednesday night, when they eliminated the Dallas Mavericks and advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 1985.

"They are going to come in with a lot of confidence and be ready to play," Bryant said. "They're going to come out on our home court and put on a show. We've got to be ready."

The Nuggets are ready, having eliminated New Orleans and Dallas, each in five games. They just hope the rest doesn't lead to rust.

"We're very confident," Anthony said. "Not cocky, but confident. In the back of our minds we know what we did to get to this point."

While the Lakers are Hollywood, the Nuggets are talented and entertaining in their own right, with Billups, Anthony, Nene, Kenyon Martin, Dahntay Jones and Chris "Birdman" Andersen.

The Nuggets say they'll have to step it up defensively, which the Lakers did in eliminating the Rockets on Sunday.

"We're playing at a very good level, a very efficient offensive level," coach George Karl said. "Defensively, we have not been special. Against New Orleans we were pretty good. The Dallas series turned into an offensive game. I don't think we can win an offensive game against the Lakers. We have to win at least two games with our defense."

Martin, who along with Nene will be matched up against Gasol, agreed.

"They have great offensive talent, so we are going to bring our best defensive game we are capable of playing," Martin said. "I think we proved during the playoffs we can stand up if we put our heads into it. It's just a matter of us going out and doing it"

The Nuggets have gone 1-10 against L.A. the last two seasons, including a four-game sweep in the first round of last year's playoffs, when Denver became the first 50-win team in league history to get swept in the first round. Karl hasn't won at Staples Center since taking over as Denver's coach midway through the 2004-05 season.

"Well, I think you can pull some things from that," Billups said. "But like I said, we're just a totally different basketball team right now, so none of that stuff really matters. It's playoff basketball. It's a different intensity, it's a different focus. Everything is different. "

Los Angeles won the season series 3-1.

"Their personnel is obviously challenging," Gasol said. "We have a really good team and we are feeling really good right now after yesterday's win. We're ready to step up and continue this right path we're building."

The Lakers were wildly inconsistent against the Rockets, looking all-world one game, then getting railroaded the next. Bryant said they decided at halftime of Game 6 — which they ended up losing by 15 points — to turn up their defense a notch, something they think they can carry into this series.

Asked if the Lakers deserved the beating they took from the media for their split personality, Bryant laughed.

"I mean, I always find that stuff entertaining to read," he said. "We as a ballclub, we know what we have to do. I'm definitely more upset than anything anybody could write about. We're harder on ourselves than anything anybody can write.

Said Gasol: "I think what we went through with Houston made us grow as a team. Hopefully we'll show that."

Bryant and Anthony became friends last summer when they were teammates on the U.S. Olympic team, which won the gold medal in Beijing.

"He's like a brother to me," Bryant said. "Truly, I love him. We spent a lot of time together last summer. He was the one I was the most close with on the team."

Said Anthony: "That's my man. That's my guy, but I don't know him this week." -AP

05-20-2009, 03:54 PM
(Update) Bryant's free throws give Lakers 105-103 win
05/20/2009 | 12:18 PM
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(Update) LOS ANGELES — Those wildly inconsistent Lakers showed up for their Western Conference finals opener against Denver and still managed to defend their home court.

Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, including six free throws in the final 30 seconds, to lift Los Angeles to a 105-103 victory over the Nuggets on Tuesday night after the Lakers trailed most of the game.

Pau Gasol added 13 points and 14 rebounds and Derek Fisher had 13 points for the Lakers, who faced a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Gasol's two free throws tied the game for the last time at 99 before Bryant went to the line, offsetting a 3-pointer by Chauncey Billups and a free throw by J.R. Smith.

Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points, Billups added 18 and Kenyon Martin had 15 for the Nuggets, who hadn't played since taking care of Dallas in five games last Wednesday.

Game 2 is Thursday in Los Angeles.

Bryant, who was 9 for 9 from the line in the fourth quarter, made two for a 101-99 lead with 30 seconds left. Trevor Ariza stole the inbounds near midcourt and the Lakers were able to run the clock down to 10 seconds when Bryant made two more free throws.

Billups hit a 3-pointer to get the Nuggets to 103-102 with 5 seconds left, but then Anthony fouled Bryant, who made his final two foul shots.

Smith made one free throw with 3.2 seconds left and missed the second intentionally. Bryant grabbed the game's last rebound.

"A good one, an important one," Bryant said of the win. "Like I told the guys in a timeout, this is a different series. We felt kind of down on ourselves with a slow start. ... I told them to forget about that, this is a different series."

The Lakers were back in action 48 hours after closing out Houston in seven games in the conference semifinals.

"We just had to push through it, we didn't come out with the kind of energy we wanted, guys were fatigued, a little tired," Bryant said. "But it was a gut check for us."

Denver led most of the game in its return to the conference finals for the first time in 24 years. But the Nuggets couldn't stop Bryant over the final 6:48, when he scored 15 points, including seven straight to help the Lakers improve to 7-1 at home in the playoffs. They are 8-0 this postseason when scoring 100 points.

Bryant got the better of Anthony, his U.S. Olympic teammate.

"It was a lot of fun, he's a bull down there," Bryant said. "I am a little out of my weight class, but I'll give it my best shot."

Neither team led by more than five points in the third quarter, when Laker starters Andrew Bynum and Ariza both picked up their fourth fouls.

The Lakers used a 9-0 run, including seven straight by Fisher, to go up 70-66. From there, though, the Nuggets ended the quarter on a 10-4 run to lead 76-74. Billups had five consecutive points, including a free throw after a technical foul on Bryant, in the spurt.

The Nuggets moved the ball well and aggressively drove the basket in taking a 13-point lead in the opening quarter, but hurt themselves by going 12 of 21 from the line in the half. Billups, who missed three free throws in the first two playoff series combined, missed his first three of the game.

The Nuggets controlled the first half, leading until the final 1:10 of the second quarter. That's when Josh Powell hit two free throws to give the Lakers their first lead.

The Nuggets went back in front before Fisher hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Lakers into halftime leading 55-54. Fisher was 0 for 6 before connecting from the right baseline, which was emblematic of the Lakers' shooting woes. They hit 38 percent from the field, with Bryant going 7 of 16. -AP

05-22-2009, 04:04 PM
Bryant: Lakers got away with 1 against Nuggets
05/21/2009 | 10:46 AM
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LOS ANGELES – Nobody was feeling luckier than Kobe Bryant a day after rescuing the Los Angeles Lakers from certain defeat against the Denver Nuggets in their Western Conference finals opener.

"We just kind of got away with one," he said, grinning. "It happens sometimes."

Bryant scored 40 points, including six free throws in the final 30 seconds Tuesday night, to give the Lakers a 105-103 victory after being outplayed most of the game.

Call it stealing one at home.

"It was one of those gutty performances that you have to have throughout the postseason," Bryant said after practice Wednesday. "We had everything working against us — mistakes, loose balls, bobbling balls out of bounds. It just seemed like one of those nights, but we managed to pull through it."

Game 2 is Thursday night at Staples Center. The Nuggets have lost 11 consecutive playoff games to the Lakers, including a first-round sweep last season.

"We played 46 1/2 solid minutes, just the last minute or so got away from us. But we can take a lot of things from it that we did well," Kenyon Martin said. "We just need to eliminate some of the little mistakes and go from there. That's the beauty of it, there's another game tomorrow."

Bryant was forced into playing both ends of the floor after teammate Trevor Ariza couldn't stop Denver's Carmelo Anthony, who owned a lackluster history against the Lakers until exploding for 39 points.

Bryant started out defending Chauncey Billups (18 points), then took on J.R. Smith (eight points) before sliding over late to Anthony, his US Olympic teammate. Forget asking coach Phil Jackson for permission to change defensive assignments, either.

"We have the type of relationship where I just do it," Bryant said. "Whatever it took to win the game, I had to do. It was fun."

Anthony had a breakout game, going 14 of 20 from the floor, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range, 7 of 8 from the line, with six rebounds and four assists.

"He's been phenomenal," Billups said. "For a while he fell out of that whole LeBron (James), D-Wade, Melo talk and I'm happy that he's back where he should be. He's led his team to the Western Conference finals and he's been the best player on our team all year."

But Anthony doesn't consider himself the kind of one-man show Bryant had to be for the Lakers.

"I don't really think it's about me putting up numbers," Anthony said. "I'm not going to beat the Lakers by myself. Chauncey's not going to beat the Lakers by himself. We need our bench, our X-factor guys J.R. (Smith), LK (Linas Kleiza) and Birdman (Chris Andersen). We need everybody like we've been doing it so far."

Smith sprained his right knee in the game, but he said it was better Wednesday.

"I'm definitely going to play," he said. "I'll be ready for tomorrow."

Ariza referred to Anthony's defensive domination of him as "getting served." But Bryant expects Ariza will come better prepared Thursday.

"He doesn't back down," Bryant said. "Carmelo had his way with him in the first game. He's not the only one who's had his way with him, so he shouldn't feel bad about it."

A day later, the Nuggets were feeling they outplayed the Lakers most of the way but had nothing to show for it.

"Our heads are still high. We're still standing tall, we're still confident," Anthony said. "We did everything but win the game. We can take that as a good sign. We're going to respond, I guarantee you we respond."

The Lakers' big men will be looking to make a stand, something 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum didn't accomplish in Game 1. They were outscored 29-19 by the shorter duo of Martin and Nene. Bynum was limited by foul trouble, and Gasol had four fouls.

"Just on defense alone we can be more productive," Lamar Odom said. "We were lucky to kind of stay in that game. We know we can play a lot better than we did."

Denver's front line outmuscled Gasol, Bynum and Odom. In Game 2, Jackson expects Bynum's focus to be in the low post, while letting Gasol and Odom play away from the basket.

"He's got to be a power player in there and he's got to be a big guy that makes them feel small and uses his size against them," the coach said. "Pau and Lamar can be active enough to do things out on the floor to change the game up. They can pass the ball and dribble the ball. They have to be really mobile and have that attack idea."

Denver coach George Karl seemingly took the loss harder than his players. He sat in silence for several seconds after being asked about the game. By Wednesday, though, the emotion of losing in the final seconds had dissipated.

"I like our chances if you give us a six-point lead with four minutes to go," he said. "I'll take our chances winning this series. I'll sign that contract tomorrow." - AP

05-22-2009, 04:05 PM
Nuggets beat Lakers, even Western Conference finals series
05/22/2009 | 12:21 PM
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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers' 24-year playoff dominance of the Denver Nuggets dissipated over the final 29 seconds of the fourth quarter.

That's when Kenyon Martin hit a layup in traffic and Chauncey Billups made 3 of 4 free throws to give Denver a 106-103 victory in Game 2 on Thursday night to even the Western Conference finals.

It was Denver's first-ever playoff win against Los Angeles, which owned an 11-0 record dating to 1985, the second-longest postseason winning streak against one team in NBA history.

Carmelo Anthony had 34 points and 14 rebounds, Billups had 27 points and 16 rebounds and Linas Kleiza added 16 points for the Nuggets. Nene finished with six points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Kobe Bryant had 32 points, including making all 10 of his free throws, Trevor Ariza scored a career playoff-high 20 points and Pau Gasol 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Lakers, who dropped to 7-2 at Staples Center in the playoffs this season.

"To get one on the road is always tough. We came in and got it," Anthony said. "We're mentally tough and we showed that in this game coming off the loss that we gave away in Game 1."

Game 3 is Saturday in Denver.

"I think this is going to be a long series," Denver coach George Karl said.

The Nuggets recovered from poor free throw shooting in a two-point loss in Game 1 to make 17 consecutive foul shots until Billups missed one with 4 seconds remaining. He hit the second to seal the victory.

Derek Fisher launched a 3-pointer from the right corner that missed as time expired.

Tied at 101, Martin made the layup off Nene's assist that gave the Nuggets the lead for good.

Bryant dribbled upcourt and got into traffic, with Nene tipping the ball away to earn a jump ball with 18 seconds left. Gasol controlled the tip to Ariza, but the ball squirted away and Fisher fouled Billups. He made both for a 105-101 lead.

Martin fouled Gasol, who made both before Billups got fouled.

The Lakers were shaky on free throws in the fourth, making 9 of 14, while Denver didn't blink at the line.

Kleiza's 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter gave the Nuggets an 85-82 lead, their first since the game's opening minutes. Billups followed with two free throws and Anthony hit two baskets in a row to extend Denver's lead to 91-84.

Bryant missed a jumper, but he came up big on the Lakers' next possession, hitting a 3-pointer with Anthony's hand in his face. Shannon Brown tossed in a 3 and Lamar Odom made two free throws as part of an 11-2 run that put the Lakers back in front 95-93.

Denver regained the lead before Bryant's 3-pointer, again with Anthony guarding closely, tied the game at 99 with 1:59 remaining. Billups made two free throws before Bryant's jumper tied it at 101.

"We kind of changed our fourth-quarter philosophy on Kobe," Karl said. "We weren't going to jump him, but we didn't want to give him the 3-ball."

Ariza briefly gave the Lakers some breathing room in a tight third quarter by scoring seven consecutive points for a 71-64 lead. Bryant hit a streaking Ariza with a long pass for a fastbreak layup. He got fouled and made the free throw.

But Denver stepped up its defense and rebounding while outscoring the Lakers 16-10 to trail 81-80 heading into the final 12 minutes. Billups and Anthony had six points each, but the Nuggets missed two free throws in that stretch that could have given them the lead.

The Lakers opened a 14-point lead early in the second quarter. Anthony began a run of 14 consecutive points for the Nuggets to get them to 51-40.

That was the spark Denver needed. From there, they outscored the Lakers 14-2 to end the half trailing 55-54. – AP

05-24-2009, 03:20 PM
Lakers center Bynum, coach Phil Jackson at odds
05/24/2009 | 11:05 AM
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DENVER — Andrew Bynum wants to play more minutes, and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson has just the solution: Play better defense.

"If he plays well, he'll have more time," Jackson said Saturday, several hours before Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets.

Bynum criticized the Lakers' defensive scheme after getting yanked from Game 2 early in the second half for his lackadaisical play that led to an easy bucket for Denver.

Jackson was displeased that Bynum didn't hustle downcourt after failing to get a pass in the post, which allowed Nuggets center Nene to make a layup and draw a foul from Kobe Bryant. So, Bynum took a seat with 7:14 left in the third quarter and never returned, finishing with nine points, two rebounds, one foul and no turnovers in the Lakers' 106-103 loss that evened the series at 1-1.

Bynum bristled Friday when asked about Denver's frontcourt prowess in this series.

"They're getting their stuff because of our defensive scheme. They're just driving to the basket and nobody's bumping them," Bynum said, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Before Game 3, Bynum said he hadn't discussed his criticism with his coach but he alternately stuck by his assertion and backed away from it.

"Yeah, and I think we went over some different things today, changed it up a little bit," Bynum said of the defensive philosophies.

So, what exactly was wrong with the defensive scheme?

"Not the scheme is the problem. We're just not executing it," Bynum said. "You've got to take away that middle pass. They're throwing it into the middle and just getting too much penetration."

Bynum insisted there's no friction between him and Jackson.

"No, definitely not. Like I said, the scheme is fine. We're not executing it," he said.

Does that mean Bynum's not executing it?

"Everybody," he said. "Nobody's doing what we need to do correctly."

Bynum, who missed a chunk of the season for the second straight year after tearing a ligament in his right knee Jan. 31, has been inconsistent in the playoffs. He went scoreless three times against Houston in the semifinals. Bynum said he's feeling fine and guessed his knee was at 85 to 90 percent.

He brushed aside a suggestion that having missed so much time, he's playing at a slower speed in the playoffs than his opponents.

"The only part that's tough is not knowing when you're going to be called upon," Bynum said. "Because you get tight and you get stiff."

Jackson said the way to stay on the court was playing better. But he added that this dispute with his 21-year-old center was overblown.

"I think he's doing fine. I think there's just way too much focus. This is a guy who hasn't even played a lot of minutes," Jackson said. "To sustain the effort for Andrew is a big deal. He can run for three, four minutes on the court and then he tires. ... So, we're just looking for short bursts from him and opportunities for him to go in there and help us." -AP

05-24-2009, 03:20 PM
Nuggets, Lakers laud LeBron's amazing shot
05/24/2009 | 11:09 AM
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DENVER — Kobe Bryant was impressed by LeBron James' amazing buzzer-beater, not envious.

"He got a clean look," Bryant said. "That's what you really want to do."

The fashionable argument for Lakers fans after watching James' 3-pointer over Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu that knotted the Eastern Conference finals at 1-1 was to say Bryant should have been given the same chance to salvage Game 2 against Denver in the Western Conference finals in Los Angeles.

Instead, Bryant was a decoy for a play designed for Derek Fisher, whose 3-pointer was deflected by Nene at the buzzer, preserving Denver's 106-103 win at the Staples Center on Thursday night and evening their series.

Hours before the Game 3 tip-off at the Pepsi Center, Bryant sat courtside after a short shootaround and talked about James' basket off the inbounds with a second left for a 96-95 win.

"He got a good look, no matter whatever Hedo does or whoever does, you can put your hand up, it's not going to matter," Bryant said. "If you get a good look at the basket, that ball's going down."

No, Bryant insisted, his first thought wasn't that he should have gotten the same shot 24 hours earlier.

"No. Game 2's over with," Bryant said, adding, "I always want the ball, so that doesn't change anything."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he'd still draw up the final play for Fisher with the Lakers down 106-103 and trying to force overtime.

"Kobe wouldn't have gotten an opportunity. They would have fouled him," Jackson said. "That's the difference between being down three and having a two-point game. Now, Orlando has to guard the basket and the lane and everything else and the opportunity's there. So we had to find a surprise shot."

When Turkoglu's shot with one second left put Orlando ahead by two, Jackson figured James would still salvage the series for the Cavaliers.

"I was sitting at a counter, a greasy sthingy I have in my soup and a greasy burger," Jackson said. "The guy next to me said, 'Aw, man, Orlando's going to go up 2-0 and Cleveland's going to go down in the series. You want to see Orlando? I said, 'You wrote off this guy. He can still make a shot from almost anywhere.' And he did. That's the way he is. James is just a terrific player."

The Nuggets were also abuzz over the shot heard 'round the NBA.

"Great, great shot," Chauncey Billups said. "It's what the great ones do."

Unlike Jackson, however, he wasn't so sure the Cavs were going to pull it out.

"I didn't know if they would get a shot off," Billups said. "But with him getting a clean look like that, you've got to think that he's going to make that shot."

Nuggets coach George Karl, whose strategic blunders in the closing minute of Game 1 in L.A. might have cost his team a big win, sympathized with Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.

Van Gundy had his defense take away the lob pass to the basket. That forced James to back up beyond the arc, where he had a clean catch and an open look at the biggest 3-pointer in Cavaliers history.

"In a lot of ways I think Stan did a great job of knowing what they were going to run," Karl said. "And I think Stan Van Gundy has done a great job coaching this year. And I know he's miserable right now. In some ways he's got to understand that he's in a great place," tied 1-1 and heading home. -AP

05-24-2009, 03:21 PM
(Update) Bryant's 3 sparks Lakers past Nuggets
05/24/2009 | 12:04 PM
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DENVER — Kobe Bryant's 3-pointer wasn't nearly as dramatic as LeBron James' but equally effective.

Bryant's big shot over J.R. Smith gave Los Angeles a one-point lead with just over a minute left Saturday night and sparked the Lakers to a 103-97 victory over the downtrodden Denver Nuggets for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Bryant, who scored 41 points, went 5-of-6 on free throws to ice it after his 3-pointer gave Los Angeles a 96-95 lead.

Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points but just three after halftime for Denver, which lost at home for the first time since March 9. He was 4-for-13 in his worst performance of the postseason.

Before Saturday night, the Nuggets had been dominant at home in the playoffs. They ran away with all six games at Pepsi Center against the New Orleans Hornets and Dallas Mavericks by an average of 17.5 points.

But as Bryant said, "It's the Western Conference finals. It should be close."

The Nuggets, who led most of the game but were done in by poor decisions and a failure to keep their composure, fell behind by four points when Trevor Ariza stole Kenyon Martin's inbounds pass, was fouled by Anthony and sank two foul shots for a 99-95 lead with 36 seconds left.

Chauncey Billups' two free throws made it 99-97, but Bryant sank two more free throws with 22 seconds remaining, Billups missed a 3-pointer and Bryant capped his big night with two more foul shots with 12 seconds left.

Several hours before the game, Bryant was admiring James' buzzer-beater that gave Cleveland a 96-95 win over Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals, saying big-time players make big-time shots.

He showed that.

The Nuggets had won 16 in a row at home, and now Los Angeles has grabbed back the home-court advantage.

Game 4 is Monday night, when the Lakers and Nuggets will have the Pepsi Center to themselves after World Wrestling Entertainment moved Monday Night Raw to the Staples Center in Los Angeles because of the double booking that WWE chairman Vince McMahon milked for all it was worth.

That doesn't mean the crowd in Denver won't see some elbows, forearms and more trash talking like they did Saturday night, when there were five technicals called, including one on Smith for taunting Sasha Vujacic after swishing a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer.

The Nuggets took a 79-71 lead on Smith's bucket. Vujacic, who had just hit a 3-pointer of his own, his first points of the game, nearly stole Billups' pass, but Smith snared it, spun and swished the 3-pointer as the backboard lit up in red and he fell to the floor with the crowd going crazy.

Caught up in the moment, Smith jumped up jawing at Vujacic and was T'd up.

Denver coach George Karl told ABC at the break that he didn't like the way the Nuggets had played the third quarter, saying they had lost composure with fouls and technicals and weren't playing smart.

Before the fourth quarter started, Bryant swished the technical free throw, and the comeback had begun.

Ariza's 3-pointer gave the Lakers an 81-80 lead with 7½ minutes remaining.

After Billups' four-point play — a 3-pointer while getting bumped by Bryant — gave Denver a 89-86 lead, Pau Gasol hit back-to-back jumpers over Nene to put the Lakers back on top, and Bryant's bucket made it 92-91 with three minutes left.

The Lakers were just 9-of-17 on free throws in the first half and Denver hit 17 of 20, but the Nuggets couldn't break free for one of their patented spurts, twice missing three shots on one trip downcourt when a bucket would have given them some cushion. -AP

05-24-2009, 03:21 PM
Lakers put brakes on Anthony in Game 3 win
05/24/2009 | 12:30 PM
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DENVER — So much for the thought that nobody on the Lakers can stop Carmelo Anthony.

'Melo finished with 21 points Saturday night — seven below his playoff average — and only seven of those came in the last three quarters of Denver's 103-97 loss to Los Angeles in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

Give a big dose of the credit to Trevor Ariza, the Lakers' lanky forward, who draped himself all over Denver's star for most of the last three quarters.

Give some more to the foul trouble Anthony found himself in from the second quarter on.

And give all of the Lakers the rest for refusing to believe what had been pounded into them over the first two games — that there was no solution for Anthony, who scored 34 and 39 points in Denver's split at the Staples Center.

The Nuggets now trail 2-1.

"Other than physically beating him up better than (they) did first two games, they were more aware of him, there were more times with two people in front of him, more body contact with him," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "They got him off the rhythm of his game in second half, and we didn't have an offensive leader."

Anthony played all 12 minutes in the first quarter, scored 14 points, and looked like he might have 30 by halftime.

Quickly, though, the long-range jumpers that fell so easily in the first two games stopped going in. He finished 1-for-7 from 3-point range. The Nuggets had trouble getting him the ball down low and frustration — the kind this new, improved Nuggets team thought it had left behind — started setting in on offense.

After taking 10 free throws in the first half, Anthony got to the line only four more times in the second. He shot 53 percent in the first two games against the Lakers but went 4-for-13 in this one.

Fouls were also a killer. Anthony picked up his fourth foul with 5 minutes left in the third quarter, his fifth with 3 minutes left in the fourth and left the game after the Nuggets botched a late inbounds pass for the second time in three games. Kenyon Martin was trying to get the ball to Anthony, but Ariza stepped in front, made the steal, got fouled and hit two free throws to essentially ice the game.

"It was kind of funny, pretty much the same thing but just different players involved," said Ariza, who also made the steal in Game 1.

In Game 1, though, the Lakers didn't have an answer for Anthony. This time they did.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he'd need to look at the game tape to know exactly what it was that changed.

His early guess was that they were picking him up more quickly when Denver went into its offense. Good guess. Melo averaged 25 shots a game in the first two. He barely got half that this time.

"It was getting in front of the picks he was coming off, knowing where he wanted to get the ball," Jackson said. "Some of those things were much better tonight." -AP

05-24-2009, 03:22 PM
Ariza's clutch steals killing Nuggets
05/24/2009 | 01:23 PM
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DENVER — Trevor Ariza's clutch steals are punching a dagger in Denver's season just as much as Kobe Bryant's big baskets.

For the second time in three games, Ariza stole an inbounds pass in the final minute to help Los Angeles beat the Nuggets, this time 103-97 at the Pepsi Center for a 2-1 lead that restored the Lakers' home-court advantage in the Western Conference finals.

Ariza, whose steal of Anthony Carter's lazy lob sealed the Lakers' win in the series opener, sliced in front of Carmelo Anthony to swipe Kenyon Martin's inbounds pass with the Lakers clinging to a two-point lead with 36 seconds left.

Anthony fouled out to prevent the breakaway basket and Ariza sank both free throws for a 99-95 lead.

"Trevor, he's very crafty, he's long, he's fast, he's quick and he's a ball hog," said Bryant, who scored 41 points. "He does a good job of reading those things. It's a great defensive play."

As he did in the first game, Lamar Odom guarded the inbounds, only this time it wasn't the shortest player on the team he was facing, but the 6-foot-9 Martin trying to get the ball in over the Lakers' 6-10 forward.

"He's long, look at him," Sasha Vujacic said of Odom. "He's very long. He's athletic. He's got eyes behind his ears. He knows how to jump all around the ball."

Hounded, K-Mart called timeout, but on the redo, he wasn't so lucky as he led 'Melo too much with the pass and Ariza snatched away both the ball and Denver's shot at a win for the second time in five nights.

"It was kind of deja vu from Game 1," Anthony said.

Ariza thought so, too.

"It was kind of funny," he said. "It was pretty much the same thing, different players. But we got the steal. We got a win, that's the most important thing."

Bryant made four free throws in the final 22 seconds to seal the win after sinking a 3-pointer over J.R. Smith with 1:09 left to put Los Angles ahead for good at 96-95.

"Kobe does that time and time and time and time and time again for game winners," Odom said of Bryant's 3-pointer. "It is routine — for him."

Pau Gasol added 20 points and 11 rebounds.

"I think Gasol was the key to them winning tonight," Anthony said. "Getting him going and him making shots, it made it hard to double-team him and still try to guard Kobe out there."

Anthony scored 21 points but just three after halftime, and Denver lost at home for the first time since March 9.

"I don't really think they did anything different tonight. But I missed some easy shots," said Anthony, who had averaged 35 points in his previous five games but went just 4-for-13.

Before Saturday night, the Nuggets, who had won 16 straight games at home, had been dominant in Denver in the playoffs. They ran away with all six games at Pepsi Center against New Orleans and Dallas by an average of 17.5 points.

The Nuggets led most of the game but were done in by poor decisions and a failure to keep their composure. They shot just 5-for-27 on 3-pointers and committed three technical fouls.

Game 4 is Monday night, when the Lakers and Nuggets will have the Pepsi Center to themselves after World Wrestling Entertainment moved Monday Night Raw to the Staples Center in Los Angeles because of the double booking that WWE chairman Vince McMahon milked for all it was worth.

That doesn't mean the crowd in Denver won't see some elbows, forearms and more trash talking like they did Saturday night, when there were five technicals called, including one on Smith for taunting Vujacic after swishing a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer.

The Nuggets took a 79-71 lead on Smith's bucket. Vujacic, who had just hit a 3-pointer of his own, his first points of the game, nearly stole Billups' pass, but Smith snared it, spun and swished the 3-pointer as the backboard lit up in red and he fell to the floor with the crowd going crazy.

Caught up in the moment, Smith jumped up jawing at Vujacic and was T'd up.

After Bryant swished the technical free throw, Denver would miss its first nine shots of the fourth quarter, finally putting a shot through the hoop on Martin's dunk with 6:34 left.

"I rank this right up there with some of the biggest road wins we've had since I've been a Laker," Bryant said. "Because, in the past we always had guys that had a lot of experience. Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Ron Harper, they've all been through this before. For our guys this is brand new.

"Last year we weren't tested like this. And it goes a long way for us as a ballclub." -AP

05-26-2009, 02:07 PM
WWE stages raw takedown of Nuggets
05/26/2009 | 11:23 AM
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LOS ANGELES — Vince McMahon got his takedown of Denver Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke on the WWE television show Monday night.

Sort of.

During the World Wrestling Entertainment's "Monday Night Raw" show, McMahon shoved a mock Kroenke to the mat and the faux Kroenke fell out of the ring at the Staples Center. The wrestling card was switched from the Pepsi Center last week to Los Angeles because of Game 4 of the Lakers-Nuggets series being played in Denver. Originally, the date was held by the WWE.

In the TV skit, the counterfeit Kroenke, microphone in hand, sauntered toward the ring with a basketball under his arm. He handed the ball to an equally fake Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who was standing next to a phony David Stern and Jack Nicholson.

The imitation Kroenke then announced that he is "the owner of the soon-to-be NBA champion Denver Nuggets. And I cannot stand the WWE or its fans, for that matter."

"Do you think that I care that I screwed thousands of WWE fans? I do not. I have much more important things to do with my team than worry about you people."

McMahon then entered the fray, ambling into the ring and telling the pretend Kroenke, "None of this had to happen. All you had to do was pick up the phone, say 'I didn't think my team would make the playoffs, I screwed up.'"

Seconds later, McMahon shoved "Kroenke" after warning him, "When you push the WWE universe, they push back."

The finale featured five-man tag teams wearing Nuggets and Lakers jerseys. The Lakers won, eliciting loud cheers from the Staples Center crowd. -AP

05-26-2009, 02:07 PM
Nuggets even Western finals against Lakers at 2-2
05/26/2009 | 12:15 PM
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DENVER — The Denver Nuggets evened the Western Conference finals Monday night, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 120-101 in Game 4 despite a hobbled Carmelo Anthony.

Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith scored 24 points and Kenyon Martin had a double-double as the Nuggets posted their eighth blowout of the postseason but first against Los Angeles following three games that came down to the final seconds.

The Nuggets didn't need to worry about a botched inbounds pass in the closing seconds like the ones that cost them wins in Games 1 and 3, although Kobe Bryant had another monster fourth quarter in an attempt to put a stranglehold on the series that shifts to Los Angeles for Game 5 Wednesday night.

Bryant, who is averaging 37 points in the series, scored 34. -AP

05-26-2009, 02:08 PM
Lakers coach Jackson calls Nuggets guard Jones ‘unsportsmanlike’
05/26/2009 | 01:27 PM
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DENVER — Lakers coach Phil Jackson accused Nuggets guard Dahntay Jones of playing "unsportsmanlike basketball" by intentionally tripping Kobe Bryant during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Monday night.

Jackson's rip on Jones came after Los Angeles fell 120-101 to Denver to tie the series at 2.

The Lakers coach was upset with what he deemed inconsistent officiating that resulted in 49 Denver free throws — 14 more than the Lakers.

"There's another situation out there tonight that was unacceptable by Dahntay Jones," Jackson said. "Just unacceptable defense, tripping guys and playing unsportsmanlike basketball."

Asked if he felt Jones went out of his way to trip Bryant during a sequence late in the third quarter that, oddly enough, ended up with Jones getting fouled, Jackson replied: "Yes. It's not the first time it's happened in this series."

Bryant tried to stay away from the question when asked about it moments later — sort of.

"I just fell on my face for no reason," he said. "I'm a klutz."

Was Jones playing him dirty?

"Good defense," Bryant said.

Jones, a defensive specialist who starts for the Nuggets, has been charged with hounding Bryant at the start of the first and third quarters. In Game 2, he had five fouls by the middle of the third quarter.

He said he wasn't bothered by Jackson calling him dirty.

"Just playing hard," Jones said. "If he can't respect it, I'm sorry. I'm trying to be aggressive and give it all I have out there. My teammates appreciate it." – AP

05-26-2009, 02:35 PM
Bryant great late, but Lakers never had a chance
05/26/2009 | 02:09 PM
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DENVER — He can't do everything.

But if the Lakers are going to advance to the NBA finals, Kobe Bryant might just have to.

Over four desperate minutes late in Monday night's 120-101 loss to Denver, Bryant took the first shot on seven straight Los Angeles possessions, made it to the line six times and scored 13 points in a futile attempt to catch up.

The rest of the Lakers' production: four free throws from Pau Gasol.

So, Los Angeles left Denver having regained home-court advantage, but appearing never more dependent on its admittedly exhausted star with the Western Conference finals now tied at 2.

"Yes, those are actions we have to go to and they're drastic actions," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of the Kobe-or-nothing strategy at the end.

A good strategy? That's up for debate. Gasol went 8-for-11 for 21 points. He's shooting 62 percent for the series. But the only way he could get his hands on the ball late in this game was to grab an offensive rebound.

"You tell me," he said. "I don't think there's many people who would say there's something right about it. I wish we would take more advantage of our inside game, because it's pretty effective. It's unfortunate we don't recognize it enough."

Gasol may be effective but he's not a game-changer.

The Lakers only have one of those.

Bryant was attached to an IV in the locker room after Game 3, when he hit a 3-pointer and five free throws late to help the Lakers take a late lead and keep it in a 103-97 win.

He finished with 34 points on Monday and is still averaging 36 for the series. But there was no late run in this game, the first of the series to be decided before the last few possessions.

Bryant conceded he was exhausted after almost single-handedly pulling one out for the Lakers in Game 3 — sort of the same way he did it in Game 1. Jackson said he didn't have any problem with his superstar admitting a weakness.

"It's foolish to deny it. He could barely stand up," Jackson said in the pregame.

The truth was evident on the court, too. His team playing catch-up all night, Bryant played all 12 minutes of the third quarter but scored only two points.

He spent the first 5:16 of the fourth quarter on the bench, resting up for one last run, and when he returned, the Lakers were trailing by 10.

"He takes responsibility and he demands the ball," Gasol said. "He is pretty effective with it, for the most part. Absolutely."

Bryant missed on his first shot, though Gasol got the rebound and got fouled.

After that, hardly any other Laker touched the ball.

A forced 20-footer that went in.

Another shot that dropped from 21 with Chris Andersen in his face.

A 3-point swish, then a 3-point miss that resulted in an offensive rebound and two more free throws by Gasol.

Then, Bryant made six straight free throws.

Yet Los Angeles never trimmed the deficit below 10.

"It's more tiring to have to do that," Bryant said. "But physically, I felt OK today. There were certain stretches where I was a bit winded but, all in all, I felt pretty damn good."

For all the late-game magic Bryant has conjured up over his career, it was hard to ignore the difference between his supporting cast and Denver's on this night.

Carmelo Anthony came in with the stomach flu, then twisted his ankle in the second quarter. He finished with only 15 points on 3-for-16 shooting, but he had help in the form of J.R. Smith and Chauncey Billups (24 points apiece), Andersen (14 rebounds) and others.

The Lakers?

"They were kind of a three-man show," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "It was Gasol, Bynum and Kobe."

Andrew Bynum had 14 points — but nothing in the last nine minutes.

So really, it was just Kobe at the end, and this time, that wasn't good enough. -AP

05-27-2009, 04:04 PM
NBA fines Lakers' Jackson $25,000 for ref criticisms
05/27/2009 | 08:51 AM
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NEW YORK — Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Tuesday for his public criticisms of the referees following Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals.

The Lakers organization was also fined $25,000, the day after a 120-101 loss to the Denver Nuggets that evened the series.

Jackson was angry with the free throw discrepancy — Denver's 49 attempts were 14 more than the Lakers — and accused the Nuggets' Dahntay Jones of a dirty play for tripping Kobe Bryant. Jackson was also upset by a flurry of fouls called against Luke Walton.

Game 5 is on Wednesday in Los Angeles. - AP

05-27-2009, 04:04 PM
Lakers look to clean up inside game against Denver
05/27/2009 | 11:50 AM
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LOS ANGELES — Pau Gasol wants the ball inside against the Denver Nuggets. Only he's not about to pull a Keyshawn Johnson and order his Los Angeles Lakers teammates to "just give me the damn ball."

That's not the Spaniard's way.

Gasol is all about finesse on and off the court, so he'll leave the angry big man approach alone.

"I just want to go with what's effective and what works out there and what's been working for us and what's a strength of ours," he said after Tuesday's practice. "I think we should explore that a little more."

The mild-mannered Gasol complained about only taking four shots in the second half of a 120-101 loss at Denver on Monday night that left the Western Conference finals tied at two.

Gasol went 8 of 11 for 21 points in Game 4. He's shooting 62 percent in the series, but he had only four free throws in the fourth quarter Monday.

"I don't think there's many people who would say there's something right about it," he said afterward. "I wish we would take more advantage of our inside game, because it's pretty effective. It's unfortunate we don't recognize it enough."

Kobe Bryant knows what's keeping the Lakers from delivering the ball to Gasol in the post.

"They're double-teaming him on the catch. He's got to go a little quicker when he catches it," Bryant said. "That's something I've always told him, 'When you got a shot you got to take it.' At this late in the postseason, teams aren't going to let you back out there and spin and do some of the things he likes to do in the post. He's got to go and go quickly."

Pushed on whether he would demand the ball in Game 5 on Wednesday night, Gasol didn't sound too convincing.

"I'll try, but there's only so much I can do as far as demanding," he said. "I'd rather talk to our coaches and our guys and hopefully we see what's effective and what works and we go to it."

The Lakers' frontcourt of Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum were no match for Denver's trio of Nene, Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen, who dominated the boards 42-25 in Game 4.

"One of our main focuses was trying to get the rebound so that way we can do our running game," Andersen said. "Our best offense is our defense and rebounding is a big part of that."

The Nuggets practiced in Denver on Tuesday before flying to Los Angeles.

Coach George Karl believes winning Game 5 on the road would be easier than doing so in a Game 7 on the Lakers' home court.

"We right now have made somewhat of a move to challenge them to try and figure us out a little bit more," he said. "Can we win the energy game down there? It would be a big step towards getting a win. My big guys were terrific last night. I don't know if I've had three big guys be so dominant on the boards."

The Nuggets rested for a week after putting Dallas away in five games in the conference semifinals. The Lakers, meanwhile, were pushed to seven games before escaping against Houston, and the fatigue appears to be showing.

"They've been playing every other day since May and we've had our breaks and the advantage to heal our bodies is better than the Lakers," Andersen said. "Now we're starting to get back in our rhythm that we were at when the playoffs started."

Odom said the Lakers need a dose of energy and effort Wednesday night at Staples Center, where the Nuggets won Game 2.

"When you get behind, you take quick shots and you tend to give those guys some good numbers when it comes to rebounding," he said. "We want to clean up the defensive boards and keep them off the offensive boards."

Odom is continuing treatment for a lower back injury, but he declined to specify just how hurt he is.

"For this team to be good, I need to pick it up," he said.

Bryant wouldn't concede fatigue is hurting the Lakers.

"I don't think it had anything to do with how we played yesterday, they just played better," he said. "We do a pretty good job of responding to challenges and we certainly have one here tomorrow night. The challenge of the situation re-energizes me."

The NBA fined Lakers coach Phil Jackson and the team $25,000 on Tuesday for his post-game comments on the officiating in Game 4.

The fines were announced after the Lakers addressed the media, but Jackson was asked whether the Nuggets have shifted their play from physical to dirty.

"There's a sense of how much people want it, how you play when you have to play hard and how aggressive you become and that's a fine line," he said. "I want to keep the topic on a positive note. I don't want to talk about that aspect of it." -AP

05-30-2009, 03:53 PM
Phil Jackson: NBA will 'come back and hammer you'
05/28/2009 | 09:49 AM
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson was unrepentant about being fined $25,000 by the NBA for his criticism of the referees in the Western Conference finals.

"I didn't think very good of it at all," he said on Wednesday. "I thought I was very conciliatory, tried to soft-pedal my comments, but that's the league for you. They'll come back and hammer you."

The Lakers organization was also fined $25,000 on Tuesday, the day after the team's 120-101 loss in Denver that evened the series at 2-2.

"If it was a $10 fine it would still bother me," Jackson said. "Parking tickets still bother me."

Jackson was angry with the free throw discrepancy — Denver's 49 attempts were 14 more than the Lakers — and accused the Nuggets' Dahntay Jones of being unsportsmanlike for tripping Kobe Bryant.

Jones wasn't called for a foul when the trip happened late in the third quarter, but on Tuesday, the NBA assessed Denver's defensive specialist a flagrant-1 foul. Jones has three flagrant-foul points in the playoffs; one more and he's suspended for a game.

"We kind of laugh a little bit about how in a six-week period of time we've become the bad boys of the NBA," Denver coach George Karl said. "They weren't saying that in February. We don't play the game to intimidate. We are aggressive, but I don't think, what was Phil's term, we are unsportsmanlike." - AP

05-30-2009, 03:54 PM
Lakers beat Nuggets 103-94 in Game 5
05/28/2009 | 12:06 PM
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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers owned the fourth quarter against Denver. Now they have a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Kobe Bryant scored 22 points, Lamar Odom had 19 points and 14 rebounds and Pau Gasol added 14 points and 10 rebounds in Los Angeles' 103-94 victory Wednesday night.

Game 6 is Friday in Denver, where the Lakers lost Game 4 by 19 points.

"Got to come ready to play," Bryant said. "We made a lot of mistakes the last time, the mistakes that took place were execution, and we didn't do things at the defensive end.

"We'll come ready to play."

Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points, hitting 12 of 13 free throws, and Kenyon Martin and Chauncey Billups added 12 points each for the Nuggets.

The teams were tied after the first, second and third quarters for just the fourth time in NBA playoff history.

So it all came down to the final 12 minutes.

Bryant, Odom and Gasol teamed for all but seven of the Lakers' points in the fourth. They opened on an 11-0 run for their first lead of the second half and it was capped by Shannon Brown's jumper that beat the shot clock.

The Nuggets used a 13-6 run to close to 93-89. Linas Kleiza scored seven straight and Anthony had six in the spurt.

But then the Lakers regained control and finished off the victory. They improved to 20-0 in Game 5s at home when a series is tied 2-2.

Bryant said he changed his role from the what it had been in the series.

"It was a big gamble for me coming in, but I wanted to change my approach this game and be more of a decoy," he said after adding eight assists, several out of double-teams in the fourth quarter. "The past couple games they really were loading to my side and I figured I could be a decoy and try to give chances to my teammates."

Anthony hit a jumper to get Denver to 96-91 with 1:24 remaining. But the Nuggets went cold from the field over the final 3:38, while the Lakers capitalized at the line. Los Angeles outscored Denver 10-5 in that span, including going 6 of 8 from the line.

Denver returns home needing a victory to send the series back to Los Angeles for a Game 7 on Sunday. The Nuggets have never won a best-of-7 series after losing Game 1.

The good kind of history is seemingly on the Lakers' side. They haven't lost a best-of-7 series that was tied 2-2 after winning Game 5 since the 1969 NBA finals against Boston.

Denver twice led by seven points in the third quarter only to see the Lakers tie it at 76 on a 3-pointer by Bryant to end the period. Los Angeles never led, but managed the two ties.

In a first half featuring 13 ties, the teams ended up even after both the first and second quarters. On the Lakers' final play, Bryant held the ball at midcourt as the clock ticked down before driving and kicking to Sasha Vujacic, who hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 56-all going into halftime. The Lakers were 0 for 7 from long range until then. - AP

05-30-2009, 03:55 PM
Jackson wants NBA transparency to improve game
05/30/2009 | 09:40 AM
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DENVER — Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson is still waiting for the NBA's new era of officiating "transparency" to improve the game.

Speaking before Friday's Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against Denver — a series beset by complaints about refereeing that included $50,000 in fines against the Lakers and their coach — Jackson conceded how difficult it is to call an NBA game.

"This is the dawn of a new age, we were told in the last two years," he said. "Transparency, a wonderful word, was going to be used, and we're looking for that to help us. In that regard, we want to use all these aspects, whether it's called credibility or accountability, and use it to improve everything that can happen to this game, because it's a great game."

Jackson was speaking about some of the changes the NBA has made in the wake of the scandal involving Tim Donaghy, the former NBA ref who was serving a 15-month sentence after confessing to betting on games and passing game information to gamblers.

After Game 4 of the ongoing series, Jackson drew the fines for criticizing the refs for the 14-shot discrepancy in Denver's favor from the free throw line. He also complained about Denver guard Dahntay Jones being "unsportsmanlike" for tripping Kobe Bryant. Jones, not called for a foul on the play, was assessed a flagrant-1 foul the next day.

After Game 5, some of the Denver players were confused about inconsistent whistles that resulted in eight more fouls on them than the Lakers.

Denver coach George Karl voiced mild complaints after Games 3 and 5 but nothing that has gotten him fined. He stayed away from critiquing the refs before Game 6.

Veteran official Joe Crawford was assigned to Game 6, along with Mike Callahan and Mark Wunderlich. - AP

05-30-2009, 03:55 PM
Lakers returning to NBA finals with Game 6 win
05/30/2009 | 12:16 PM
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DENVER — Kobe Bryant had 35 points and 10 assists to lead the Los Angeles Lakers back to the NBA finals with a 119-92 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.

Bryant got plenty of scoring help Friday from Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom as the Lakers shot 57.3 percent from the field to avoid having to play a Game 7 back at the Staples Center.

They will finally get some much-needed rest after playing every other day for a grueling two weeks.

These Lakers, who are headed to their record 30th NBA finals and are seeking their 15th title, are a more grizzled group — but also more bruised and battered — than the one that fell to Boston in the finals last year. – AP

05-30-2009, 03:55 PM
(Update) Bryant leads Lakers back to finals
05/30/2009 | 01:41 PM
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DENVER — One-half of the Kobe-LeBron dream matchup is set.

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are in the NBA finals for the second straight year and record 30th time overall.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will need to win two more wins to join them. Otherwise, it will be Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on the league's biggest stage.

Not as sexy for Madison Ave., but certainly intriguing.

Bryant and the Lakers dispatched Carmelo Anthony and the pesky Denver Nuggets with a 119-92 victory in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Friday night.

"We saved our best game for last here, or maybe we caught our opponent a little bit off stride," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who gets a shot at his record 10th title.

Bryant had 35 points and 10 assists and got plenty of scoring help from Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom as the Lakers shot 57.3 percent from the field to avoid having to play a Game 7 back at the Staples Center.

They will finally get some much-needed rest after playing every other day for a grueling two weeks.

These Lakers, who are seeking their 15th title, are a more grizzled group — but also more bruised and battered — than the one that fell to Boston in the finals last year.

"Now we're in a place where we didn't get the job accomplished last year," Bryant said. "Hopefully we will this time."

Instead of cruising through the West this time, the Lakers survived an arduous seven-game semifinal series against Houston and another test against Denver.

"It's been a physical march all the way back to the finals, every series has been tough," Bryant said.

The Magic lead 3-2 and can clinch the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night at home in Game 6 and prevent that Kobe-LeBron matchup that has basketball fans and corporate sponsors atwitter.

The finals begin Thursday, at Los Angeles if Orlando wins, and at Cleveland if the Cavaliers prevail.

Anthony led the Nuggets with 25 points and J.R. Smith added 24, but Denver trailed for all but a few seconds and never mounted a serious charge after halftime, although they kept hitting 3-pointers, finishing 8 of 19 from beyond the arc.

This was the Nuggets' eighth consecutive loss in a playoff elimination game.

Odom and Gasol both scored 20 points and Ariza had 17, and the Lakers made all 24 of their free throws and were 9 of 16 on 3s.

"We are really tough to beat because we're using all our weapons, not focusing on Kobe or myself," said Gasol, who had 12 rebounds and six assists. "We have a really good team and need to use everybody. That is how we are going to win it."

The Lakers might very well have been swept by the energetic Nuggets if veterans Anthony Carter and Kenyon Martin hadn't botched inbounds passes in the final seconds of Games 1 and 3, respectively.

Bryant didn't wait for the fourth quarter Friday night to give the Nuggets, who had posted eight postseason blowouts, a taste of their own medicine.

He scored 11 points in a decisive 21-7 run that gave the Lakers a 53-40 halftime lead, took the buzz out of the Pepsi Center and the air out of the Nuggets.

"We had the effort and the execution to match," Bryant said. "It took us a while to really get a feel for the team, just how to take advantage of the defense. We saw something how they were playing us and we executed extremely well."

Bryant started his run with two free throws, then hit a jumper over Smith. After Ariza's 3-pointer, Bryant made baskets over Anthony from the left and right corners on the next two possessions, then capped the run with a dagger — a 3-pointer with 4.1 seconds left following Gasol's offensive rebound.

The Nuggets trimmed their deficit to 79-67 but the Lakers replied with a 9-0 run to restore their stranglehold. Bryant scored seven straight points, including a 3-pointer that made it 101-82.

"He had a great five minutes at the end of the game that no one in basketball could have covered him," Nuggets coach George Karl lamented.

Karl likes the Lakers in the finals no matter if it's Kobe-LeBron or Kobe-Superman.

"I saw little cracks in the Lakers and somehow we've cemented those cracks back up, and I think they're the best team right now in the NBA," he said.

The Nuggets thought they had the Lakers right where they wanted them after stealing Game 2 in Los Angeles, but they quickly gave the homecourt edge back on Martin's botched inbounds in Game 3 that cost them their first loss at the Pepsi Center since March 9.

After winning 16 straight games at home, the Nuggets lost two of three there in their first trip to the conference finals in 24 years.

Chauncey Billups, whose acquisition from Detroit for Allen Iverson in early November, transformed the Nuggets from afterthoughts to contenders, said, "I'll never forget this year. But this is not as far as I want to go."

Jackson thinks these Nuggets, with their top five scorers returning next season, have arrived as an elite team.

"They thrashed a lot of opponents in the Western Conference playoffs," Jackson said. "And their physicality and athleticism and their scoring ability is remarkable."

Bryant concurred, suggesting the Nuggets helped the Lakers play to their potential.

"Denver is a great team, very skilled at all positions," he said. "Strong inside. Strong on the perimeter. Huge problem for us. And because of that, we had to elevate our level as a unit. And if we didn't do that, we'd be going home early." – AP

06-01-2009, 04:58 PM
Lakers rest while awaiting start of NBA finals
05/31/2009 | 11:07 AM
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant stared straight ahead, delivering his answer without emotion. His teammates were out of earshot, though Bryant undoubtedly told them the same thing.

Asked what it would take to close out Denver in six games, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar replied, "Be cold-blooded, go out there and execute. We have to stay focused and poised and try to cut them up."

Led by Bryant's merciless efficiency, the Lakers sliced and diced the Nuggets to advance to the NBA finals for the second consecutive year. Los Angeles turned what had been a back-and-forth series into a rout Friday night, winning 119-92 on the road.

"Now we're in a place where we didn't get the job accomplished last year," Bryant said. "Hopefully we will this time."

Battered, bruised and just plain exhausted, the Lakers took Saturday off. They'll get a few days' rest before the finals begin Thursday. Orlando leads Cleveland 3-2 and can clinch the Eastern Conference title Saturday night at home in Game 6.

The Lakers will open at home if Dwight Howard and Orlando win or at Cleveland if LeBron James and the Cavaliers prevail.

"We're back to where we wanted to get to and we're probably playing at the highest level that we have all year," Luke Walton said.

It hasn't been easy.

Critics have questioned the Lakers' effort throughout the playoffs, especially when they were forced to a seventh game by an undermanned Houston team in the conference semifinals.

They have seemingly turned it on and off at times, getting thumped 120-101 in Game 4 at Denver before coming home and dominating the Nuggets in the fourth quarter of Game 5, then dissecting them with precision in the elimination game.

"We didn't allow the early energy and emotion of the home team and their crowd to force us to play from behind," Derek Fisher said. "That was a real key for us, mentally as well. We had a very solid start and we were able to sustain it for four quarters."

The Lakers overwhelmed the Nuggets with a 21-7 run in the second quarter, with Bryant scoring 11, to lead 53-40 at halftime. Denver failed to make a serious run in the second half.

"That was definitely killer instinct. That was definitely as focused of a game as we've played all year," said Walton, who had 10 points. "We've heard in the media people questioning us. We've never questioned our own ability. It's nice to put a full 48 (minutes) together in one of the biggest games of our year."

For the second consecutive game, Bryant got his teammates involved while he passed out of double-teams. Sure, he scored 35 points, but he also had 10 assists and counseled his teammates to keep their focus.

Pau Gasol added 20 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, Lamar Odom scored 20 and Trevor Ariza 17 while helping the Lakers shoot 57 percent. The bench, including Walton, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown, injected energy. The Lakers made all 24 of their free throws.

"It was important to step through that door, seize the opportunity. Don't wait," Fisher said. "Now is our time to finish what we didn't finish last season."

A year ago, the Lakers breezed into the finals with a 12-3 playoff record before losing to Boston in six games. This year, they're 12-6, having been tested by the Rockets and the Nuggets in arduous back-to-back series after beating Utah 4-1 in the first round.

"We're more prepared to play against teams that are physical or extremely athletic or play a certain style of offense or defense," Fisher said. "It doesn't guarantee us any success going forward, but I definitely think we've learned from some of the things we've been through in the last three or four weeks."

The Lakers are in the NBA finals for a record 30th time. They've won 15 titles, but none since Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal teamed for three in a row ending in 2002.

This time, Bryant will be seeking to quiet everyone who reminds him he hasn't won a championship without O'Neal, while coach Phil Jackson is going for his record 10th title.

Their humiliating 131-92 dismissal by Boston in Game 6 last year still stings.

"It's about winning it," Ariza said. "That's what we're focused on." - AP

06-01-2009, 04:59 PM
It's Magic: Orlando makes Kobe-LeBron disappear
05/31/2009 | 12:30 PM
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NEW YORK — There will be no Kobe-LeBron showdown in the NBA finals — and that could make things tougher for the Lakers.

Instead, Los Angeles will face Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, who swept the Western Conference champions during the regular season.

The Lakers will try to prove that means nothing when the finals begin Thursday on their home floor against Orlando, which upset Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Cavaliers had the NBA's best record, but lost both meetings with the Lakers. Had Cleveland made the finals, it would have set up a highly anticipated duel between Bryant and James, the last two NBA MVPs.

The Magic ruined that script, just as they wrecked Boston's hopes of a repeat by ousting the defending champions in the second round. Now they look to deny Phil Jackson his 10th coaching title, which would move him past Red Auerbach for most all-time.

"To get to the finals is most definitely deserving for this team, but we feel like we still have work to go out there and do, and try to go out there and win it all," Orlando forward Rashard Lewis said. "Getting to the finals is not enough for us."

Orlando finished off Cleveland 103-90 on Saturday behind 40 points from Howard and is in the finals for only the second time. The Magic can become the first first-time champion since another Florida team, the Miami Heat, won the 2006 title.

The Lakers clinched their 30th finals appearance, most in NBA history, by beating the Denver Nuggets 119-92 on Friday to win that series in six games. They remained stuck on 15 championships, second behind Boston, when the Celtics beat them last year in six games.

Los Angeles is in much better shape this year. Center Andrew Bynum is healthy after missing the 2008 postseason with a knee injury, and Trevor Ariza — a former Magic player — has become a key starter after missing most of last year's playoffs with a foot injury.

It didn't matter who the Lakers had against the Magic this season. Orlando won 106-103 at home in December despite 41 points from Bryant, then pulled out a 109-103 victory in Los Angeles about a month later behind 25 points and 20 rebounds from Howard.

Still, Jackson said he didn't care which team the Lakers faced.

"The only thing that makes a difference is if it's Orlando, we make one road trip in this setup," Jackson said after Friday's victory.

The Magic made 12 3-pointers in each game, a weapon they relied heavily on in their elimination of the Cavaliers. Los Angeles should be better equipped to deal with the matchup problems that Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu created against Cleveland by inserting Lamar Odom, who had strong performances in the final two games of the West finals after struggling through most of the series.

Looming over the series is the large shadow of Shaquille O'Neal, who led both teams to the finals. He took Orlando there in 1995, then left for Los Angeles the following year and the Magic struggled for years after.

He teamed with Bryant to lead the Lakers to three straight titles from 2000-02, but the Lakers haven't won another since they traded him in the summer of 2004.

Game 2 will also be at Staples Center before the series shifts to Central Florida for Games 3 and 4, and if necessary, Game 5. - AP

06-01-2009, 04:59 PM
Lakers carry home-court advantage into NBA finals
06/01/2009 | 11:11 AM
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LOS ANGELES — It's going to be Orlando, not Boston, in the NBA finals. Even though the opponent is different, the Los Angeles Lakers are still consumed with redeeming themselves after last year's abject failure.

Their humiliating 131-92 dismissal by the Celtics in Game 6 last year still stings.

"We know what it feels like to lose and we just want to come out there and amend that," coach Phil Jackson said Sunday.

A year ago, Pau Gasol had never played in the NBA finals, so he was excited just to be there.

Not this time.

"The team right now is hungry and focused," he said. "This year we have a mission. It's like, 'OK, we're in the finals, now let's go to work.' It's a big difference."

Another difference is that the Lakers have home-court advantage this year. Games 1 and 2 are Thursday and next Sunday at Staples Center before the best-of-7 series moves to Orlando for up to three games.

"It's nice to have home-court advantage, but it's still not something to rely on in this kind of a series," Jackson said. "Orlando is one of the better road teams in the league the last two years."

No doubt Jackson will remind his team that both Houston and Denver won at Staples in the past two rounds, costing the Lakers home-court advantage.

"That's something you don't want to do in the finals with this kind of 2-3-2 setup," he said. "It's just about trying to get a leg up right off the bat so you have advantage."

After taking Saturday off, the Lakers reconvened Sunday for a video session. Except for Gasol and Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant and the other starters departed without speaking to the media.

Having played 13 games in 26 days to reach the finals, the Lakers are taking advantage of the six-day break before making one last push at a 16th NBA championship.

"We got really banged up in these last two series," Jackson said. "There are a number of guys that physically could use the days off."

They include Lamar Odom (sore back), Trevor Ariza (sore hip and groin) and Luke Walton (ankle).

"We've been in situations where we had days of rest and then we were a little sluggish at the beginning of a series," Gasol said. "Now there's no slacking, no slipping or nothing. We're ready to start and we're ready to play."

Bryant admitted during the Western Conference finals that he's not sleeping much. He's been sending text messages to Gasol in the wee hours and getting responses.

"We exchanged a couple of text messages making sure we're on the same page," Gasol said. "It just brings us together."

The Lakers' immediate problem is how to contain Dwight Howard. He averaged 21.5 points and 16 rebounds when the Magic swept them in two regular-season games.

"I don't think there have been many players like him because of his physical gifts and attributes," Gasol said. "You have to be really focused on him, don't let him get any deep catches and don't let him get going or confident."

Howard does most of the damage inside, while Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Mickael Pietrus and Rafer Alston are threats from 3-point range.

"It's to your advantage not to double against this team," Jackson said. "They're going to threaten you with that (outside shooting), but really it's their inside game that you have to be concerned about."

Gasol believes the Lakers own an advantage that Cleveland lacked in losing the Eastern Conference finals to the Magic.

"They didn't have that balance of an inside-outside game and we do have that and we will be a tougher matchup," he said. "Let's see if we give them more of an outside shot or we let Dwight go to work a little more and see what he can do. He's becoming a pretty good passer off the post and making smart decisions."

With Orlando's quartet throwing up 3-pointers from all corners of the court, Fisher figures rebounding could be a key difference in the finals.

"There's going to be a lot of long rebounds from the 3-point shots, so for perimeter players especially, we'll have to make sure we're getting in there and grabbing a few extra ones," he said. - AP

06-06-2009, 01:39 AM
Kobe facing prospect of seeing ‘Superman’ again
06/03/2009 | 08:46 AM
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant is staring down the prospect of sharing the court with Superman again. Only this time, it's Dwight Howard and not Shaquille O'Neal who's wearing the cape that Bryant wants to tug on.

Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers will be trying to win their first NBA title without O'Neal when the finals open on Thursday against Howard and the Orlando Magic.

They failed to do so last year, losing to the Boston Celtics in a humiliating Game 6 defeat.

O'Neal was traded after Los Angeles lost the 2004 finals to Detroit, leaving Bryant the undisputed leader of a team that won three straight championships at the start of the decade. Bryant still bristles at implications he had something to do with that.

"People that really know basketball know that that stuff means nothing," Bryant said, deflecting questions on O'Neal. "It's nonsensical actually. You want to win just to win it."

Bryant, who turns 31 in August, is completing his 13th season. He kept to himself around his older teammates early in his career. Although he teamed with O'Neal to lead the Lakers to three straight championships, the two frequently sniped each publicly.

Adding a fourth NBA championship to the gold medal he helped the United States win at last year's Beijing Olympics would burnish Bryant's still developing legacy.

"You're thankful to be in this position," he said. "A lot of players never get to this position once in a career and I've been fortunate to be here for six times now. It's been very, very lucky."

Like O'Neal, Lakers coach Phil Jackson also departed after the 2003-04 season, and later wrote a book in which he called Bryant "uncoachable." Jackson then returned after taking a season off and has had a seamless relationship with Bryant ever since.

But there have been big bumps in the road.

Bryant implored the Lakers to surround him with better players in the summer of 2007, then demanded a trade.

The team responded by adding Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and Los Angeles reached the finals last year for the first time since 2004. Bryant also won his first league MVP award a year ago.

Jackson initially noticed a change in Bryant's outlook two years ago.

"He ended up just racing away with the scoring championship on an incredible run of about 15 games in a row," the coach recalled. "When we came back the next year we just said we don't want that type of ball to happen again. We want more inclusiveness. There was a whole issue about us getting better talent around him and that's happened over the last two years and here we are."

Bryant often talks about his love for his teammates and the ways in which he's counseled them on improving their games. Derek Fisher's return last season clearly benefited Bryant on and off the court. They were teammates on the Lakers from 1996-04 before Fisher left for three years.

"He's continued to recognize that in order for him to accomplish some of his individual goals, the team goals have to match or exceed his own goals," Fisher said. "That means other guys around him have to perform at a high level. Things he can share with them, he knows how important that is, and how well we take it when he does. He's done a great job at it the last couple of years."

And when his teammates struggle, well, Bryant can always just take over games himself. He did so in the Western Conference finals opener against Denver, scoring 40 points and making six free throws in the final 30 seconds to cinch the victory after the Lakers trailed for most of the game.

"He's just gotten more comfortable with where he is in terms of what he's capable of doing on the floor and knows he can always come back to that," Fisher said.

After losing the 2004 finals, the Lakers didn't make the playoffs the following season. They failed to get out of the first round in 2006 and '07, increasing Bryant's feelings of frustration and impatience.

"It's been a long haul to get back here for all of us," he said. "I certainly appreciate it even more. Once you have that celebration and that feeling of winning, of accomplishment, you want to have it again." - AP

06-06-2009, 01:40 AM
Obama picks Lakers to win NBA crown in 6 games
06/03/2009 | 09:41 AM
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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama thinks the Los Angeles Lakers are going to win the NBA crown.

The president was on his way to the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn on Tuesday when a reporter shouted a question. The topic: Who is going to win the NBA championship, the Lakers or the Orlando Magic?

Said the smiling president: "Lakers in six, I think." In sports terms, that means the Lakers will win the best-of-seven series in six games. The series begins Thursday.

So far so good this year for Obama. A huge basketball fan, he correctly predicted that that the University of North Carolina men's basketball team would win the NCAA college championship.

Obama was leaving Tuesday on a trip to the Middle East. - AP

06-06-2009, 01:41 AM
Kobe Bryant focused on fourth NBA title
06/04/2009 | 09:22 AM
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LOS ANGELES — After a humbling loss to Boston last year, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers will be seeking atonement — and a 15th title — when they face the resurrected Orlando Magic in the NBA finals from Thursday.

For Bryant, the NBA's greatest late-game closer since Michael Jordan, it's a second opportunity at shutting up some of his loudest detractors. He has won three titles, but hasn't been able to get No. 4 since Shaquille O'Neal was traded after the 2004 season to Miami.

Bryant was asked on Wednesday if he needed a post-Shaq championship to enhance his legacy.

"Not at all," Bryant said. "It means nothing. To me, it's about winning another one, just because I want to win another one."

Before catching his breath, Bryant, who had been loose and relaxed earlier this week, then took a verbal swipe worthy of a flagrant foul at O'Neal, his former teammate with whom he famously feuded.

"People think Shaq would have won a championship without me on that team," he said. "They're crazy."

This is Bryant's chance. He doesn't want to waste it.

And O'Neal, a 7-foot (2.14-meter) timeline connecting finals appearances by both teams, posted a message on his Twitter.com site saying he was backing Bryant.

"I am saying it today and today only," Shaq tweeted. "I want kobe bryant to get number four, spread da word."

From the moment Bryant dejectedly walked off the floor in Boston last June following L.A.'s 39-point loss in the title-deciding Game 6, he has been focused on a return. He helped restore US basketball's world supremacy by leading the Americans to an Olympic gold medal in China last summer.

"My next goal is winning the NBA championship," he said. "We don't want to fall short of that."

Los Angeles would seem to have everything — history, experience, star power, coaching, A-List celebrities — over Orlando.

The Lakers have won 14 titles. Orlando, 0.

The Lakers have won 61 finals games. Orlando, 0.

Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson has nine championship rings. Orlando's Stan Van Gundy 1 — but he got it as an assistant and doesn't know where it is.

Yet the Magic, making their first appearance in the finals since 1995, won both regular-season matchups against the Lakers and are capable of an upset.

"They've beaten us three of the last four times," Bryant said. "So we're very, very concerned."

They should be.

Dwight Howard, Orlando's fun-loving Superman of a center, is the league's latest incarnation of Shaq. He can bend backboards, take over a game at both ends and crack up his teammates with a killer impersonation of the frumpy and grumpy Van Gundy.

In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, Howard scored 40 points with 14 rebounds as the Magic finished off Cleveland and sawed the Kobe Bryant-LeBron James dream finals matchup in half.

On their way to the finals, the 3-point-happy Magic (they made 62 3s against the Cavaliers and are averaging 8.6 per game in the playoffs) have knocked off favored Boston, Cleveland and can now dispatch the Lakers.

That would be quite a trifecta. No team has ever beaten three 60-win teams in the same postseason.

Superman doesn't mind his role as underdog.

"We've always been overlooked," Howard said. "We were overlooked in the first series against Philly. We were overlooked against Boston. We were overlooked against the Cavaliers, and we're still overlooked. We don't want to be a team that everybody picks to win, because I think as a young team, once everybody starts saying, 'OK, you're this or you're that,' sometimes you tend to forget what got you there.

"Everybody picking against us motivates us. It drives us to do something greater."

The overriding theme for the Lakers was how last season's finals lessons will help them this time. A year ago, many of Los Angeles' young players got swept up and overrun by the mammoth media attention.

"We're upset about losing in the finals," forward Pau Gasol said. "We should have given it a better shot than we did. It didn't happen, and now we're here again and we can give it a much better shot and really get it done." - AP

06-06-2009, 01:42 AM
Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant set for title tilt
06/04/2009 | 04:21 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Sporting a body-hugging tank top, Dwight Howard bounded onto the press conference podium flashing his megawatt smile and muscles on muscles.

Unsure where to sit, he looked at the high chair to his right, a perch he was told was reserved for Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson.

Not there.

So Howard slid into a seat occupied moments earlier by Lakers star Kobe Bryant, whose interview session was cold and charmless. Orlando's super center was just the opposite. He beamed like a little kid at the circus and then announced his arrival at the NBA finals.

"This is the chance of a lifetime to be playing for a championship," Howard said. "Our motivation is greatness. We want to be a great team."

They'll have their chance.

Overlooked for months and an underdog throughout much of the playoffs, the Magic will return to the finals for the first time since 1995 on Thursday night when they take on the Lakers at Staples Center.

Orlando hasn't been on the big hardwood stage since they had Shaquille O'Neal, their original Superman, breaking backboards and roaming the paint on both ends. The Magic are back, and Howard and his band of merry marksmen are relishing that they aren't being given much of a shot.

"We've always been overlooked," Howard said. "We were overlooked in the first series against Philly. We were overlooked against Boston. We were overlooked against the Cavs, and we're still overlooked. We don't want to be a team that everybody picks to win, because I think as a young team, once everybody starts saying, 'OK, you're this or you're that,' sometimes you tend to forget what got you there.

"Everybody picking against us motivates us. It drives us to do something greater."

To understand these two teams and their differences, one need look no further than the two team's respective superstars: Bryant and Howard.

The 30-year-old Bryant, with three championship rings in his jewelry box, is looking for his first without Shaq, his former teammate with whom he shared a love/hate relationship.

But Bryant, who maintained a stone-faced look throughout his interview session, doesn't feel he needs a post-Shaq championship for his legacy.

"Not at all," Bryant said. "It means nothing. To me, it's about winning another one, just because I want to win another one. "People think Shaq would have won a championship without me on that team. They're crazy."

O'Neal, a 7-foot timeline connecting finals appearances by both franchises, posted a message on his Twitter feed saying he was pulling for Bryant.

"I am saying it today and today only," Shaq tweeted. "I want kobe bryant to get number four, spread da word."

Bryant said he and his teammates have learned from last year's Boston massacre, when they were beaten in Game 6 by 39 points. This time, the focus, the drive, everything will be different with the Lakers.

"We've been through this hoopla," Bryant said.

Los Angeles would seem to have everything — history, experience, star power, coaching, A-List celebrities — over Orlando.

The Lakers have won 14 titles. Orlando, 0.

The Lakers have won 61 finals games. Orlando, 0.

Jackson has nine championship rings. Orlando's Stan Van Gundy 1 — but he got it as an assistant and doesn't know where it is.

Even Van Gundy poked fun at himself while comparing resumes with Jackson.

"The guy has won more playoff series than I have playoff games," Van Gundy said. "You're talking about one of the greatest coaches, if not the greatest coach, in the history of the NBA and I'm here for the first time. It's not a coaching matchup, it's a team matchup."

The Magic won both meetings between the teams during the regular season.

"They've beaten us three of the last four times," Bryant said. "So we're very, very concerned."

They should be.

Howard, the league's defensive player of the year, is getting better by the touch on offense and is coming off a 40-point, 14-rebound performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals when the Magic sent LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers home in a huff.

Pay too much attention to Howard inside and the Magic make opponents pay by knocking down 3-pointers. They made 62 of them against the Cavs and are averaging 8.6 per game in the postseason.

Orlando has knocked off the favored Celtics, Cavaliers and can now dispatch the Lakers.

No team has ever beaten three 60-win teams in the same postseason.

Howard thinks the Magic can nail the trifecta.

"I like our chances of winning this series," he said. "If we defend, rebound and run, we should have a title." – AP

06-06-2009, 01:43 AM
Phil Jackson close to mulling coaching future with Lakers
06/04/2009 | 04:45 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Seven years have passed since Phil Jackson coached the Los Angeles Lakers to their third consecutive NBA championship in his first three seasons with the team.

He's definitely counting.

They lost to Detroit in the 2004 finals and again last year to Boston. Starting on Thursday against Orlando, Jackson gets a third chance to win his record 10th title, which would break a tie with fellow Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach.

But he insists that's not his main motivation.

"It's just about this year, not about the 10th," he said.

Jackson joked about the value of possibly owning 10 championship rings, saying, "One for each finger and two thumbs."

He played against Auerbach's Boston teams, but never coached against the cigar-chomping coach with whom he said he had a "really competitive" relationship.

Auerbach, who died in October 2006, once downplayed Jackson's nine titles by saying the former New York Knicks player "picks his spots," implying that his championships were the result of coaching stars such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

The chance to surpass Auerbach and make history of his own might be a personal goal of Jackson's, but it trails what the team is trying to achieve, assistant coach Kurt Rambis said.

"Is he obsessed with it? Does he lose sleep over it? I seriously doubt it," he said.

Jackson turns 64 in September. He has undergone two hip replacement operations since October 2006 — using a cane at various times — and walks with a noticeable hitch in his step.

This season, he missed two road games because of pain and swelling in his lower legs caused by plantar fasciitis. He blamed late-night flights that aggravated the condition, which he plans to have doctors check out after the season ends.

Jackson credits team trainer Gary Vitti and his staff for working out his physical kinks, partly the result of his 12-year NBA playing career, and equipment manager Rudy Garciduenas for carrying his luggage on the road.

"They keep me going every day," he said.

He didn't mention the role of his 47-year-old girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, a team executive and daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss. They've been together since shortly after Jackson began his first stint as coach of the team in 2000, and survived his one-season firing in 2004-05.

"I came back at the behest of the Buss family to coach this team back into playoff contention," Jackson said. "Every night we give ourselves a chance to win. So that's been really the blessing of coming back and having this opportunity again, to see this team come out from the ashes and become again a dominant team in the league."

In doing so, Jackson has toned down his intense approach and become more patient. He signed a two-year contract extension in 2007 for approximately $24 million, which takes him through this season.

Twice in 40 years, Jackson has gotten away from the grind of NBA life that exists from October to June. The idea of permanently stepping away would be hard, he said.

"It always comes down to health with him," Rambis said. "I don't think he views his career as over now."

Jackson hasn't allowed himself to consider what he'll do if he wins a 10th title.

Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher are the Lakers who've played the longest for Jackson. Bryant says he doesn't think about a future without the gray-haired coach.

"I just try to focus on the task at hand, which was one of the things that he's taught us all," he said. "I'm just honored to be coached by the best coach of all time. It would be a tremendous honor to be on the team that can get him that 10th championship." – AP

06-06-2009, 01:45 AM
Lakers rout Magic 100-75 in Game 1 of NBA finals
06/05/2009 | 11:53 AM
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LOS ANGELES – One step toward redemption, one step toward a ring.

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers began the NBA finals with power and purpose.

Bryant, playing like a man possessed, scored 40 points and the Lakers, who have waited nearly one year for a chance to erase bitter memories of a Boston beatdown and a championship they felt belonged to them, pounded the Orlando Magic 100-75 in Game 1 on Thursday night.

This year, nothing short of a 15th title will do for the Lakers.

And with the sensational Bryant out front, they may be on their way.

Game 2 is Sunday night at star-studded Staples Center, where actors Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and rapper Kanye West had front-row seats to see another virtuoso performance by Bryant, who scored 18 points in the third quarter as the Lakers opened a 26-point lead.

The last time the Lakers were seen in the finals, they were heading toward their locker room in Boston last June and summer break after being drubbed by 39 points in a series-ending Game 6 by the Celtics. The renewed rivalry between the league's superpowers never panned out.

Bryant and his teammates have used that humiliation to motivate them all season and throughout these playoffs.

They are on a mission.

The Magic, who went 2-0 against the Lakers in the regular season, appeared a touch overwhelmed in their first finals appearance since 1995. Not even the return of All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson from a four-month layoff following shoulder surgery could help the Eastern Conference champions.

Orlando center Dwight Howard was engulfed by two and three Lakers every time he touched the ball and scored 12 — 10 on free throws — on just 1-of-6 shooting. And the Magic's outside shooters, so deadly while eliminating MVP LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals, were off the mark.

The Magic went just 8-of-23 on 3s and shot only 30 percent overall. They are facing some long odds, too.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson, seeking a record 10th title, is 43-0 in series in which his team wins Game 1. - AP

06-12-2009, 04:00 PM
Howard contained, rest of Magic awful in Game 1
06/05/2009 | 01:11 PM
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LOS ANGELES — Rashard Lewis clanged jumpers, Dwight Howard was anything but Super.

And once their two top threats couldn't get going, the Orlando Magic had nowhere to look for offense.

The Magic shot just 29.9 percent from the field in their return to the NBA finals and were overmatched by the Los Angeles Lakers in a 100-75 loss in Game 1 on Thursday night.

"Our effort tonight, it just wasn't there," Howard said. "Nobody's effort was there. We didn't go for any loose ball, we just weren't fighting. That's not Magic basketball."

Orlando led early, sparked by the return of Jameer Nelson, but the momentum was quickly lost under a flurry of missed shots. The Magic weren't far from the worst shooting effort in finals history, Syracuse's 27.5 percent performance against Fort Wayne in 1955.

Nelson was a rusty 3-of-9, but that counts as a good night for the guys in blue uniforms.

Howard had 12 points and 15 rebounds, but was only 1-of-6 from the floor. Lewis managed only eight points, going 2-of-10.

Howard averaged 25.8 points in the conference finals against Cleveland, capped by a 40-point performance in Orlando's Game 6 clincher. The Lakers never let him get going in Game 1, sending two or three defenders anytime Superman caught the ball too close to the basket.

He took only two shots, missing both, and scored two points in the pivotal third quarter, when the Lakers extended a 10-point halftime lead to as much as 26.

Orlando's offense flows best when Howard forces teams to double him, so he can kick it out to the Magic's plethora of perimeter threats. But he didn't have many options when he threw it back out Thursday.

Hedo Turkoglu was 3-of-11, Courtney Lee 3-of-10, Rafer Alston 2-of-9, and Mickael Pietrus 5-of-13.

And people thought LeBron James' help was bad.

"I thought Dwight made some good passes out. Second half we weren't able to make any shots out of that," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "But I thought we had a lot of trouble getting the ball inside. I thought they did a good job making that difficult, and we've got to find a way to get better ball movement."

Lewis was averaging 19.4 points in the postseason, causing matchup nightmares for opponents as a 6-foot-10 3-point threat. The Lakers are better suited to deal with the problems he creates because they have Lamar Odom, just as tall and quick enough to get out to the arc.

The Lakers forced Lewis to put the ball on the floor, and he's not as comfortable shooting off the dribble. He made two 3-pointers but was 0-for-6 inside the arc, missing whether he drove all the way to the basket or pulling up for midrange jumpers.

Add it all up, and the Magic simply had no shot.

"It's only one game. Game 2 we're going to go back, watch film, figure out a way to move the ball a lot better." – AP

06-12-2009, 04:01 PM
Lakers' Bryant pushing toward title
06/07/2009 | 11:03 AM
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Behind Kobe Bryant's stone-faced mask and the icy grimace he's wearing in these finals, his eyes are laser locked on one target: His fourth NBA title.

His vision is so narrow, so sharp that he can't think about anything but a shiny championship trophy now close enough to touch.

To him, these two weeks are all that matters.

After that, it's anyone's guess.

As he and the Los Angeles Lakers practiced in advance of playing the Orlando Magic in Sunday's Game 2, Bryant, as few as three games from wrapping up his 13th season as a pro, said he has not given any thought about giving up what has been the driving force in his life.

"I don't know," he said when asked how much longer he'll play. "I just love the game so much still. "I just feel like there's still so much out there for me to improve on and work on. My body feels great. God willing, I stay healthy, I'll just keep going."

Bryant, who will turn 31 in August, has an upcoming decision to make on his future. While he's under contact to make $23 million next season, he has an early termination option, which he can exercise if he so chooses this summer. The idea of a Bryant-less Lakers may be farfetched, but nothing can be assumed.

Michael Jordan was just 30 the first time he quit, stepping away to chase his dream of playing baseball.

Could Bryant, who scored 40 points in Game 1 and has been the closest thing to M.J. the league has seen, follow him and do something else?

His coach doesn't think so.

"Kobe is going to play it out for as long as he can," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He's just a player that is going to find a way regardless. When his skill level deteriorates, he's going to find a level to play at that his athleticism is going to allow. I can see him playing to 36, 37."

There are no apparent signs that Bryant's wondrous skills are receding. In fact, and this is a scary thought for every other team in the league, Bryant may be just hitting his prime. He has become a smarter, more efficient player. He takes care of his body. His work ethic is unsurpassed. He is driven like never before.

Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy laughed when he was asked if he has seen any flaws or erosion in Bryant's magnificence.

"Yeah, I thought he dropped off quite a bit the other night," he quipped.

Van Gundy, who has spent the past two days devising a better scheme to slow L.A.'s No. 24, expects Bryant's game to evolve in the years ahead. Bryant won't be able to slash to the basket as often, but he'll figure out new ways of destroying defenses — just like Mike.

"That's what happened to Jordan," Van Gundy said. "So now even though at the end of his career he might have lost a half step or a quarter step, they get to the basket when they want to because you've got to take away that jump shot, and they just get smarter and smarter.

"Those guys get better and better."

Jackson has seen it firsthand. He won six titles with Jordan in Chicago, and the gray-haired Zen Master is seeking his fourth with Bryant. As long as Bryant stays healthy, Jackson expects him to follow the same path toward retirement as Jordan did.

"All players that remain physically competent, as they get old, they just get better," Jackson said. "Their reactive ability is probably most noted on the defensive end. That's usually where they get hurt the most. But you saw guys like (Jerry) Stackhouse and Jordan playing past 35 with great ability.

"There's no reason why Kobe won't."

With the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks opening their season at Staples Center, both teams had to work out at the Lakers' training facility on Saturday.

As the Magic shot around on L.A.'s practice floor, they could look up and see eight of the 14 Larry O'Brien Trophies won by the Lakers lined up side by side behind a second-floor window overlooking the court. It's an imposing sight for a franchise which has been to the finals just twice, has yet to win a game in either visit and got blown out in Game 1.

Van Gundy has reminded his players that they can get back in the series. Orlando shot just 30 percent from the field and center Dwight Howard made only one field goal.

The Magic have spent the entire season in comeback mode. It's time to rally again.

"We've been through it," said Van Gundy, who plans to keep his rotations intact for Game 2. "As the playoffs have gone on, I'm given them history lessons of just about anything that can happen in the playoffs, people being blown out at times. All of us were upset with our performances the other night; I wasn't happy with mine, I don't think they were happy with theirs. We're anxious to get back at it."

So is Bryant.

He is consumed with winning it all, and although his body language says otherwise, Bryant insists he's having fun in his sixth finals.

"Just because you're focused on something doesn't mean you don't enjoy something," he said. "That's part of the fun is just figuring out how to focus and how to get ready. You can still do your job and have a good time."

At various times, Bryant has been called aloof, selfish, moody, arrogant. Those he allows to get close to him, say he's different.

Jackson was asked the biggest misconception about Bryant.

"That he's a nice guy," Jackson said. "He's a killer. He's a gun slinger, and he's a guy that's going to take the weak and have no mercy on them."

Bryant, whose obligatory news conferences have been painful because of his uptight demeanor and one-word responses, was told of his coach's portrait of him.

"He lied," Bryant said, smiling. - AP

06-12-2009, 04:02 PM
Bynum ready for 2nd rumble with Superman
06/07/2009 | 11:34 AM
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Andrew Bynum was helpless to stop the Boston Celtics' pummeling of the Lakers in the NBA finals a year ago. He's finally getting a chance to do something about bringing a title to Los Angeles.

Even with an awkward brace on his surgically repaired knee, Bynum had the best start of any Lakers player in the 100-75 Game 1 victory against Orlando. He had eight points and four rebounds playing just under 9 minutes in the first quarter.

"That's what we want, that early inside presence out there in the ballgame, and the combination of Pau (Gasol) and Drew out there gave us that impact," coach Phil Jackson said.

At the same time, Bynum was helping hold down Dwight Howard, who made just one shot in the game.

"That was part of our game plan, just keep him away from the basket and make him shoot shots," Bynum said.

Still a pro basketball baby at 21, Bynum has endured two major knee injuries since becoming the youngest player ever drafted three years ago.

He was rapidly coming of age in January 2008 — shooting a league-best 64 percent — when he went up for a rebound in a game and came down on teammate Lamar Odom's foot. Bynum underwent surgery and missed the rest of the season while rehabbing.

Then injury struck again.

Bynum tore the MCL in his right knee on Jan. 31 and missed 32 games. He returned just as the regular season was ending, giving the 7-footer barely any time to prepare for the playoffs.

"Playing a handful of games at the end of the season I think was a benefit for him," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He didn't fully get to rehab his knee, but he got as close as we can possibly get before he started playing. So that's one of the things that we're really concerned, that he fully rehabs after the season is over and he's 100 percent. But he's come back and played with a brace which has some limitation."

Bynum used up some fouls working down low against Howard, having picked up three at halftime. He played fewer minutes in the second half, when Bryant carried the offensive load and Gasol, the Lakers' other 7-footer, took over.

"Pau has been very good at looking for Andrew, feeding Andrew, getting the ball into him when he has an open spot and an opportunity, and that's helped Andrew's game a lot," Jackson said.

Now the coach is looking for Bynum to strike a balance between helping shut down Howard in Game 2 on Sunday and stopping penetration.

"He's very animated, intensely focused, on this matchup between himself and Howard, almost too much so, to the point where he still has to help," Jackson said. "But he really has it in his mind that he's going to stay attached to him, keep his body off the rim or away from the rebounds."

Howard, who's 23, first saw Bynum play in a high school All-Star game. They were both drafted out of high school; Howard in Atlanta and Bynum in New Jersey.

"He was wider but now he's slimmed down, gotten into better shape," Howard said. "His game has improved from the first time he's been in the NBA. I really love watching him develop, and I think we both have a lot of respect for each other. Knowing that we're like dinosaurs in the NBA, there's not a lot of us (big men), we have to stick together."

Now in his third year with the Lakers, Bynum was the youngest to play in a regular season game at 18 years and 6 days against Denver. He became the youngest Lakers player to record a double-double in November 2006, surpassing Magic Johnson's mark.

"Andrew is a really good shooter," Jackson said. "He's a good enough shooter to have a touch and make baskets and shoot free throws, we know that. The big key with him is defensive help, defensive retreat and how active he can be at that end of the floor."

Bynum helped hold Orlando to 30 percent shooting in the opening win.

"We can be better, but as far as the intensity, we're going to have the same level as the other night," he said. "We've just got to hold them under 100 points, that's the way we look at it. Keeping a team under 100 points gives you your best chance to win." - AP

06-12-2009, 04:02 PM
Lakers take 2-0 lead over Magic in NBA finals
06/08/2009 | 11:12 AM
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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers have won taken a 2-0 in the NBA finals, beating the Orlando Magic 101-96 in overtime Sunday night.

Kobe Bryant scored 29 points, and Pau Gasol had a big overtime and finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds as the Lakers moved within two wins of their 15th championship.

Rashard Lewis had 34 points and 11 rebounds, and Hedo Turkoglu had 22 points. But rookie Courtney Lee missed a layup at the buzzer that would have won it in regulation for the Magic, who have still never won a finals game.

Game 3 is Tuesday in Orlando. - AP

06-12-2009, 04:03 PM
(Update) Lakers beat Magic in OT, take 2-0 lead
06/08/2009 | 11:53 AM
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers made the most of their second chance Sunday, beating Orlando 101-96 in overtime to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA finals series.

Orlando rookie Courtney Lee missed a potential winning layup as regulation ended, forcing the game into overtime. Pau Gasol scored seven points in overtime as the Lakers, so dominant in a 25-point win in the series opener, survived to win by five points over the Magic in Game 2.

"There is a sense of relief because they played very well," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "There's no doubt they had every opportunity or chance to win."

If Orlando doesn't come back and win a game in the series, Lee's miss may go down as one of the biggest gaffes in finals history.

He had a chance to give the Magic its first finals win, but misfired.

"We missed it. I don't know what else to say," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We executed well, Hedo (Turkoglu) made a great pass. I'm not trying to be a pain ... Hedo made a great pass and (Lee) just missed it."

Orlando may not get a better shot to beat the Lakers.

"We blew a lot of assignments tonight — a lot of assignments — and we still managed to get a win," Bryant said.

When it was finally over, Derek Fisher and the Lakers jogged to the locker room, smiling and high-fiving fans along the way.

Turkoglu trudged through the tunnel dejected, a towel hanging from his head.

Bryant scored 29 points, Gasol added 24 and 10 rebounds and Lamar Odom 19 points for the Lakers, who won Game 1 by 25 but needed 53 minutes to put away the Magic.

Rashard Lewis scored 34 — 18 in the second quarter alone — and Dwight Howard had 17 points and 16 rebounds for Orlando.

With the score tied at 88-88 in regulation, Lee missed the first of two late-game shots when he drove the lane and missed a contested layup with 10.5 seconds remaining.

The Lakers called time with 9.1 seconds to play, and after Odom caught the inbounds pass, he quickly gave it to Bryant, who drove into a crowd. Bryant attempted an off-balance 12-footer, but his shot was blocked from behind by Turkoglu with 1.8 seconds left.

The horn sounded, the clock expired to zeros and Jack Nicholson and the star-studded Staples Center crowd braced for overtime.

But the officials huddled at the scorer's table and decided to put 0.6 seconds back on the clock because Turkoglu grabbed the ball and called timeout.

Turkoglu couldn't find anyone open and was forced to call a timeout. On the Magic's second attempt, Lee got free on a perfectly executed play and caught Turkoglu's long lob pass as he neared the left side of the basket. But with 7-foot Gasol closing in on him, Lee's shot caromed off the backboard and front of the rim.

Howard dunked in the miss as Lee put his hands behind his head in disbelief and began a long walk back to the bench as his teammates tried to console him.

Game 3 is Tuesday night at Orlando's Amway Arena, which will be hosting a finals game for the first time since June 9, 1995. - AP

06-12-2009, 04:03 PM
Gasol comes up big in Lakers' Game 2 win
06/08/2009 | 12:49 PM
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LOS ANGELES — The big man nobody was talking about came up huge for the Lakers.

Pau Gasol dominated overtime with seven of his 24 points, helping Los Angeles defeat the Orlando Magic 101-96 Sunday night to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA finals.

Most of the focus had been on the matchup between Gasol's teammate Andrew Bynum and Orlando star Dwight Howard. But the 7-foot Gasol muscled his way into the picture in his usual calm and cool way.

"Incredible," Lamar Odom said. "His hand-eye coordination is remarkable for someone that size. He never drops the ball. He's great at catching and delivering really quick, keeping the basketball high. He's one of the best players I've ever played with."

The Spaniard was 10 of 11 from the free throw line, grabbed 10 rebounds — all on the defensive boards — had two steals and a blocked shot in nearly 44 minutes.

Gasol had a close-up view of the heart-pounding final play of regulation.

Orlando's Courtney Lee took a crosscourt inbounds pass from Hedo Turkoglu in midair with a second left and tried to lay the ball in for the winner. It sailed across the rim and hit the right side before bouncing away to set up overtime.

"I was happy he missed it," Gasol said. "I was surprised he was kind of wide open. But I tried to contest it as good as I could, and then we gave ourselves a chance to win the ballgame."

Tied at 88, Gasol stripped the ball from Howard to begin overtime. He then scored the Lakers' first two points on free throws. The Lakers went 24 of 28 from the line.

"They're mixing it up on me," Howard said about Gasol and the Lakers' defense. "He's forcing me baseline. It's been frustrating a little bit."

Gasol and Kobe Bryant teamed on a pick-and-roll that ended with Gasol driving to the basket and getting fouled. Bryant pointed his index finger at Gasol and they hugged before Gasol made the free throw to keep the Lakers ahead 97-91.

Bryant often speaks to Gasol in Spanish, saying, "It's just whatever rolls off the tongue."

Gasol has heard critics label him as soft, a tag often attached to European players who come to the NBA.

"A guy has a set of skills and is more of a finesse player, then he's labeled as a soft player," he said. "I'm not bothered by it because I know I'm a competitor, I'm a winner."

Gasol has said that a year ago he was just happy to be in his first finals after three playoff appearances with Memphis. The Lakers were blown out in a Game 6 loss to the Boston Celtics.

"I really criticize myself when I don't perform well, when I fall short, and last year I felt like I fell short at the end," he said. "I ran out of strength. I ran out of energy and couldn't deliver the way I wanted to."

Gasol helped Spain win a silver medal in the Beijing Olympics, then he returned to the Lakers and diligently hit the weight room. He bulked up, determined to be more of a presence despite a frame that is far from the prototypical body of a big man.

"I'm able to hold my ground a lot better," he said. "I've been staying out of injuries all year long because I got myself in that position and I've been disciplined about it."

Now, he's helped move the Lakers within two wins of the franchise's 15th championship. - AP

06-12-2009, 04:04 PM
Lakers come to Orlando, look to make Magic vanish
06/09/2009 | 11:11 AM
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Kobe Bryant has changed his look.

Gone is the teeth-baring, nose-flaring, eyes-on-the-prize scowl that the Los Angeles Lakers star showed again and again in Game 1 of the NBA finals. The intensity diminished after Game 2, his expression morphing into one of relief and sheer luck.

A botched layup by Magic rookie Courtney Lee is perhaps the biggest reason why these finals are not tied and why Bryant isn't smiling even with his team up 2-0. That level of seriousness might be cause for Orlando to grimace.

The Magic nearly returned from Los Angeles with the best-of-seven series tied. Instead, they're down 2-0, and now Bryant has a promise for Game 3 on Tuesday night.

"We're about to kick it up," he said. "You'd better believe it. We're close. You see what I'm saying? This is the finals. We're going to be ready to go."

For all the bravado, the Lakers can be careless, a team with holes and an inability to finish off an opponent as a champion must. They let Houston extend a series despite the absence of Yao Ming. Denver outmuscled and outhustled a Lakers team that seemed to lose its enthusiasm until Game 6 of the conference finals.

Los Angeles believes those days are over.

"We're playing tougher," forward Pau Gasol said. "We understand what it takes to go get the championship."

This is a franchise closing in on its 15th title. It is facing Magic team still searching for its first finals victory. Bryants insists this is no time to get comfortable.

"What's there to be happy about?" he asked. "The job's not finished."

The Magic have had their shots — one in particular — to change the series.

Lee missed a wide-open, alley-oop layup that would have won Game 2 at the fourth-quarter buzzer Sunday night. It was another chapter in a long history of Magic misery, one that now has them 0-6 in finals games.

Call it the "alley-oops." This mistake, however, might hurt the most.

Orlando has been able to come back from seemingly every heartbreak this season — injuries, four last-second losses in the playoffs and series deficits in two rounds. But this could be too tough a challenge. Only three teams have won a title after losing the first two games in the finals, most recently Miami over Dallas in 2006.

"We've just got to go home and take care of business," Magic center Dwight Howard said. "The Lakers did a good job of protecting their home, and now it's our turn to do the same thing. We've been in some tough situations. We've just got to fight our way out."

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy led the Heat to start that 2005-06 season before stepping aside. He was still on the Heat payroll helping Pat Riley from afar.

"Dallas never won another game," Van Gundy said. "You know, series can change."

The Magic would need quite a turnaround. Their backcourt has been dreadful. Rafer Alston and Jameer Nelson, who returned for the finals after being out since early February because of shoulder surgery, were so inconsistent that Van Gundy benched them for most of the fourth quarter to have 6-foot-10 forward Hedo Turkoglu run the point.

The Magic had 20 turnovers, just 22 assists and no true ballhandler to make the Lakers pay for double-teaming Howard. With Nelson coming off the bench in place of reliable reserve Anthony Johnson and Alston having already said he wasn't pleased with his minutes in Game 1, Van Gundy might face another dilemma.

"We were just trying to see if we could get somebody out there who would make shots off of the double teams and off the pick-and-rolls and things like that," Van Gundy said. "I thought our guys fought hard, but we couldn't make enough plays. And the 20 turnovers crushed us."

The Lakers know the Magic, too, could change in a moment.

One of the streakiest teams in the league all season, Orlando has shot well at home. It plays with a carefree attitude, and Bryant says that's reason to be wary.

"This is a very loosey-goosey team we're playing against," he said. "You seen some of the shots they hit. Those are tough shots — supposed to be tough shots. For them it's like shooting fish in a barrel. They're just thinking about Game 3, and so are we." - AP

06-12-2009, 04:04 PM
Phil Jackson not tempted to coach in Olympics
06/09/2009 | 12:29 PM
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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers are two victories away from giving Phil Jackson a record 10th NBA title. That would make him the league's most successful coach ever, yet despite his track record, Jackson's name never shows up on a U.S. Olympic roster.

Several years ago, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was working with USA Basketball and asked Jackson if he wanted to be part of the U.S. staff.

Jackson turned him down flat.

"It's something I've never desired to do," he said. "I was asked by the Canadians if I'd like to coach their Olympic team. Steve Nash wasn't a mature enough player yet, so I had to turn that one down."

Nash captained Canada's team in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The point guard stopped playing for the national team after signing with the Phoenix Suns in 2004.

Mixing it up
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy tried everything from playing without a point guard in Game 2 to moving Hedo Turkoglu around at the 1, 2 and 3 spots.

The end result was another loss to the Lakers, leaving the Magic trailing 2-0 in the best-of-7 series.

"I'm not sure I got another lineup to throw out there that you haven't seen now," Van Gundy said. "What do they say, just keep throwing stuff at the wall and hope something sticks."

Turkoglu scored 22 points and committed five of the Magic's 20 turnovers. Dwight Howard had 17 points, 16 rebounds and seven turnovers in the 101-96 overtime loss.

"Dwight was patient, throwing the ball out and creating open shots and then in the fourth quarter I think he wanted to do it," Van Gundy said. "He wanted to do it and be the guy and it forced him into some bad plays and some turnovers and some really difficult shots. So we went away from that."

The Lakers capitalized on the Magic's turnovers, leading to easy baskets. Howard believes his team plays better in Orlando, where the series resumes Tuesday with Game 3.

"We tend to run more, shots fall more, but we've got to come out and really try not to turn the ball over as much as we did," he said. "If we can control that, we should win."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson is expecting a rowdy atmosphere at Orlando's Amway Arena. The Magic will be hosting their first finals game since 1995.

"It's going to be a big event for their town. We know there's going to be a lot of energy that's surrounding their team," he said. "We're going to have to use all our centers, foul situations, and that's where they're going to be best at running and fast-breaking and the transition game. We've kept that to a minimum at this point, and we're fortunate because of it."

Bynum’s disappearing act
Andrew Bynum keeps disappearing in the NBA finals.

The Lakers' 7-foot center has gotten into foul trouble in the first two games, limiting the time he spends in the post defending Orlando's Dwight Howard.

"Nothing I can do about it outside of stop reaching," said Bynum, who had five fouls in 16 1/2 minutes Sunday. "I have to watch some tape and really look at it."

The Lakers double-teamed Howard in Game 2, leaving Orlando's vaunted 3-point shooters open. The Magic were 10 of 30 from long-range.

Bynum blamed it on blowing defensive assignments, with players not getting to their designated spots in time.

"The biggest thing is not hesitating," he said. "You have to be able to know where you need to go and get there versus taking a look around and taking those couple of extra steps that will slow you up and give them the open shot."

Coach Phil Jackson said Bynum is learning as he goes along in his first finals.

"He made a critical mistake with his fifth foul, trying to run through a pick instead of sliding his way through and wedging his way through that screen," Jackson said. "He'll find a way to be effective for us. We need him for 20 minutes."

Bank shots
Kobe Bryant's 29 points in Game 2 gave him 644 career points in the finals and moved him past Frank Ramsey (634) into 19th place on the all-time list. Depending on how many more games Bryant plays in these finals, he can surpass Wilt Chamberlain (652), Scottie Pippen (664) and Dennis Johnson (676). ... The Lakers' Pau Gasol has double-doubles in 14 of his last 17 games in this postseason. ... For the fifth consecutive year, the home team won the first two games. – AP

06-12-2009, 04:04 PM
Magic beat Lakers for first NBA finals win
06/10/2009 | 12:20 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Missing for two games, Orlando found its Magic touch.

Making easy shots and tough ones from everywhere, the Magic won their first game in two visits to the NBA finals as Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis scored 21 points apiece in a 108-104 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 on Tuesday night to pull within 2-1.

Orlando shot a finals record 63 percent — including another finals record 75 percent in the first half — to snap a six-game finals losing streak and avoid falling into an 0-3 hole that no team in postseason history has been able to escape.

Kobe Bryant, seeking a fourth title and his first since 2002, scored 31 points for the Lakers but the superstar had just 10 points in the second half and went only 4 of 15 from the field after the first quarter. He also missed five free throws, points that could have given the Lakers that 3-0 lead.

Game 4 is Thursday night, and Game 5 — now necessary — will be at Amway Arena on Sunday.

With their season 48 minutes from all but disappearing, the Magic, hosting their first finals game since 1995, had five players score at least 18 points. Rafer Alston, who was just 3 of 17 from the field n the first two games, had 20 and Hedo Turkoglu and Mickael Pietrus 18 each.

"We've got to play like this," Howard said of the balanced scoring. "When guys are attacking we're tough to guard.

"We moved the ball a lot tonight," he said. "We got some good shots. We didn't rush anything."

Pau Gasol scored 23 points but had just three rebounds and the Lakers were only 16 of 26 from the line.

For a while, it appeared the Magic, who shot just 36 percent while dropping Games 1 and 2 at Staples Center, couldn't or wouldn't miss.

From 20 feet, swish. From 10 feet, nothing but net. Layups, runners, banks, pull-ups, didn't matter. You name it, if it went up, more times than not it went in.

"Well, it was going in the basket. That always works," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "That formula's always tried and true."

Orlando made 24 of 32 shots in the first half and only cooled off a little in the third quarter as they entered the fourth at a 65 percent clip and clinging to an 81-75 lead.

Bryant sat out the first 4:47 of the fourth, and when he finally subbed in, the Lakers were still down by five and unable to do anything to stop the Magic's marksmanship.

But then, Orlando began to misfire at the worst time possible.

After Pietrus was long with a wide-open 3, Gasol was fouled at the other end and made two free throws to make it 99 all with 2:41 remaining. Orlando's rowdy crowd, which waited 14 years for a chance to welcome the Larry O'Brien Trophy to town, grew nervous.

"Oh, boy," muttered one fan near the media section. – AP

06-12-2009, 04:05 PM
Bryant's 4th quarter 'absence' hastens Lakers' fall
06/10/2009 | 01:52 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Kobe Bryant came out looking to put the Los Angeles Lakers in complete control of the NBA finals.

Instead, the Orlando Magic found a way to control him.

Bryant followed an explosive first quarter with three quiet ones, and the Lakers had their series lead sliced to 2-1 after a 108-104 loss to the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

"It was disappointing," Bryant said. "I'm used to coming through in those situations, the team trusts me to come through in those situations, and it just didn't happen tonight."

Bryant still finished with 31 points, but he couldn't deliver in the fourth quarter like he so often does. The only thing he could hit down the stretch was his own head — which he was doing on the bench after turning the ball over with about 30 seconds left and a chance to tie the game.

Dwight Howard knocked the ball out Bryant's hands on the preceding play, the highlight of the Magic's strong defensive effort on the Lakers superstar after the first 12 minutes.

Bryant scored only 10 points in the second half and was just 4 of 15 from the field in the final three quarters. He missed 10 of 12 shots down the stretch and finished 5 of 10 from the foul line.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he thought Bryant looked tired, but Bryant said he felt OK and refused to credit any of his defenders for making adjustments on him.

"It's called four more guys," he said. "They threw the whole kitchen sink, and they did a great job staying on my body. They brought help from the weak side, simple as that."

Bryant had one field goal in the final quarter, and the player often called the best closer in basketball failed on some late chances that could have changed the game.

He sped down the court after a turnover, but was off on a drive to the basket that would have tied the game at 99 with about 3½ minutes left. He missed a 3-pointer with the Lakers trailing by two with 2:03 to go.

Bryant then was sent to the line with just under a minute left, but the first free throw rattled out as he looked away in disgust. He did score on a putback later, but that came with just .5 seconds left after he had tossed up two of the Lakers' four misses from 3-point range in a desperate possession.

After their 101-96 overtime victory in Game 2, Jackson said it wasn't one of Bryant's best performances, and the All-Star guard agreed.

Bryant looked intent on making up for it.

He scored 17 points in the first quarter — all but two of the Lakers' final 19. He hit both 3-pointers, one while being fouled, and he completed the four-point play for a 31-27 lead with 30 seconds left in the period.

He seemed headed for a repeat of his Game 1 performance, when he scored 40 points in the Lakers' 25-point win.

But he took his normal rest to start the second quarter, and his touch didn't return with him.

Bryant was 1 of 5 in the period, then hit one field goal in the third. He even curiously struggled from the line, at one point missing two of three after he was fouled beyond the arc.

"I thought they really started coming hard to him," Jackson said. "Howard was consistently coming at him on shots, making it difficult. He never really got in a rhythm again the same way he was at that time."

Mickael Pietrus is Orlando's best defender and the one with the primary responsibility of defending Bryant, but he was in foul trouble in Game 2. He stayed on the court for 31 minutes Tuesday, making Bryant work for everything and getting help any time he was beaten into the middle.

Bryant sought a quick end to the finals. Nothing came easy Tuesday — and now neither will that fourth title he craves.

"I missed a lot of free throws, we still put ourselves in position to win," Bryant said. "It didn't work out for us." - AP

06-15-2009, 12:13 PM

We have to bring back Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown AT ALL COSTS. I'm sure the Buss Family is already into it.

Sasha Vujacic should be brought to the junk shop. Kiluhin na yan para pambayad ng sweldo ng ibang Lakers

06-19-2009, 02:29 PM
Ariza gets Lakers' comeback started in 3rd quarter
06/12/2009 | 04:23 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla. — It was a minor deal that sent Trevor Ariza from Orlando to Los Angeles in 2007.

It's now a major reason the NBA finals have swung back in the Lakers' favor.

Ariza rejuvenated a team that was lifeless in the first half with 13 points in the third quarter, then hit a tying 3-pointer with 2:37 left in regulation as the Lakers rallied to beat the Magic 99-91 in overtime Thursday night and move a win away from a 15th championship.

"He just made big plays," Kobe Bryant said of Ariza. "He kept the floor spaced and knocked down shots."

Ariza was scoreless in the first half, continuing a disappointing finals on the offensive end. Then he nearly outscored the Magic by himself over the next 12 minutes as the Lakers surged into the lead.

"In the third quarter I just tried to come out and be aggressive," Ariza said. "When I'm aggressive early, it kind of gets our team going. Anything I can do to help my team win, that's what I'm going to try to do."

The forward has mostly been known for his defensive abilities since Los Angeles acquired him in the first month of the 2007-08 season for forward Brian Cook and swingman Maurice Evans.

He played tough defensively against Hedo Turkoglu on Thursday, but the Lakers couldn't have won this one without what he did on the other end.

"Turkoglu had a great first half and Trevor came out and just found something out there, made a big shot when the clock was running down on us, kind of a loose-ball situation," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He really carried a lot of energy for us the second half. We needed everything he could give us."

No longer just a slasher, Ariza has developed a fairly reliable jumper — he shot 50 percent from 3-point range in the Western Conference playoffs — and his perimeter shooting turned around a game that was all Orlando after the Magic opened a 49-37 halftime lead.

After going 9 of 30 in the first three games, Ariza missed all six attempts in the first half, when he was so frustrated he slammed the ball on the court after he was called for a foul and was then charged with a technical.

He came up with a steal and dunk early in the third for his first basket of the game, then did most of his damage away from the rim.

Ariza hit a 10-foot jumper, then buried two 3-pointers a short time apart as the Lakers cut the lead to 54-53. He found Andrew Bynum under the basket, and after Bynum was fouled and hit the two free throws, Los Angeles was in the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter.

He had one more basket later in the period as Los Angeles outscored Orlando 30-14 in the quarter and got Turkoglu, the Magic's leading scorer in the first half, in foul trouble.

It looked as if the Lakers would waste his effort when Orlando recovered to take a three-point lead with under 3 minutes left in regulation. Then, with the shot clock about to expire after a scramble, Ariza fired in another 3 to tie it at 82.

Ariza's 16 points were double what he was averaging in the series, and he grabbed nine rebounds in 44 minutes. Not bad for a guy the Magic unloaded in part because they didn't think much of him as a shooter.

"I don't cry over the past or worry about spilled milk," Ariza said. "I'm just focused on my team and winning the championship." – AP

06-19-2009, 02:29 PM
Lakers love Fisher for more than his big shots
06/13/2009 | 05:04 PM
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ORLANDO, Florida — Derek Fisher did not go back to Los Angeles because he wanted to play for the Lakers again.

His return didn't have anything to do with basketball at all.

And that, just as much as his history of making big shots, is the reason he's so beloved by his teammates.

"He's an incredible person, as well as a basketball player," forward Lamar Odom said. "He puts being a good man first, and that's important, especially for the chemistry in the locker room and things like that."

Make no mistake, the stuff he does on the floor is crucial, too.

They Lakers weren't forgetting it when Fisher was struggling earlier in the playoffs, and they certainly aren't now, not after he added another chapter to his legacy of late-game heroics in the final minutes of Game 4 of the NBA finals late Thursday.

Fisher nailed a tying 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left in regulation time, then made another that gave the Lakers the lead for good with 31 seconds remaining in overtime of a 99-91 victory that gave them a 3-1 lead over the Orlando Magic.

The 34-year-old guard had missed his first five 3-pointers of the game, and he's missed far more than he's made in these playoffs. And while critics have seen a player who has looked washed up, the Lakers see one they always believe will come through for them.

"Fish is one of the best not only teammates I've ever had, but one of the greatest people I've ever known," forward Luke Walton said. "He's done this since I've been here — hit big shots — and he doesn't listen to any of that stuff. We don't listen to that stuff. He just hits big shots all the time."

Before Thursday, the list of big shots was topped by one with 0.4 seconds left that stunned San Antonio in Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference semifinals, when he caught an inbounds pass and quickly turned and flung it in. The Lakers made it back to the finals before losing to Detroit, denying them a fourth title in five years.

And it seemed that would be Fisher's last big moment with the Lakers. He went off to Golden State and then was traded to Utah, where his memorable moment was more difficult than hitting a buzzer-beating shot.

Hours after he was in New York for an operation to treat his 10-month-old daughter's cancer, he flew back to Salt Lake City, where Utah was playing Golden State in a playoff game. With no time to warm up in a game that had already started, Fisher entered in the second half, hit a huge 3-pointer and scored five points in overtime, and helped Utah win as he was embraced by players from both teams.

He asked Utah to release him that summer so he could move his family to a bigger city where Tatum Fisher would have better treatment options, and he signed with the team that drafted him in 1996.

The Lakers had another rookie guard on that team named Kobe Bryant, who hasn't always embraced or been embraced by his teammates. But he saw things in Fisher when they practiced together that reminded him of himself, from Fisher's determination in games that don't count to his willingness to take the big shots in ones that mean everything.

"A lot of times we were the only two there, so we ended up playing full court 1-on-1 basketball and we were almost fighting, literally, just because we were both competitive," Bryant said. "From that point forward I just gained so much respect for him because of his competitiveness and his ability to hit big shots."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson also knows Fisher has Bryant's respect, saying Fisher will go elsewhere with the ball when Bryant is demanding it, if giving it to him isn't the right decision.

Fisher said earlier in the finals that another title with the Lakers would be meaningful, but not necessary for him. He chose Los Angeles for family, not fortune, and Tatum Fisher is healthy now.

However he got there, the Lakers realize they are lucky to have him.

"The guys on this team are just unbelievable," Fisher said. "They ride with me, good or bad, so I'll just continue to want to really thank them or reward them by continuing to show the confidence that I need to show when I'm out there on the floor." – AP

06-19-2009, 02:29 PM
Lakers' Jackson fined $25,000 for ref comments
06/14/2009 | 05:34 PM
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ORLANDO, Florida — The NBA fined Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson $25,000 for criticizing the officials during Game 4 of the finals.

The league also penalized the Lakers $25,000 on Saturday for Jackson's comments, which came during a televised interview between the first and second quarters of their 99-91 overtime victory on Thursday.

Jackson said there were some "bogus" calls after the Lakers' Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum each picked up two fouls in the first quarter. - AP

06-19-2009, 02:31 PM
Kobe, Jackson on verge of another NBA title
06/15/2009 | 08:30 AM
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ORLANDO, Fla. – Like any couple, they've had their fair share of ups and downs. They've feuded publicly and fought privately. They separated for a year and reunited with an understanding that it was best for both of their careers. They've grown older together.

Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson have endured.

Bonded by basketball, the superstar and his contemplative coach are on the cusp of another NBA title.

For Bryant, No. 4.

For Jackson, No. 10 — and one for the record books.

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers, seeking their 15th championship and first since 2002, will try to put away the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of a finals in which every game but the opener has been decided by one or two key plays in the closing seconds.

After a day to decompress following L.A.'s 99-91 overtime win in Game 4, both teams practiced on Saturday at Amway Arena, which because of the 2-3-2 format, will be hosting its final game of the season. The Magic, who have been written off several times in these playoffs, have faith that they can become the first team in finals history to overcome a 3-1 deficit.

The first 29 failed.

"We know what's ahead of us," said Orlando center Dwight Howard, whose frightful free-throw shooting (6-of-14) in Game 4 hurt the Magic. "We know what's been said and the situation that we're in. We won't stop believing."

The Lakers understand what's at hand. They don't want to give life to an Orlando team that has come back before. One year after losing in the finals to Boston, Bryant and his teammates want to finish the job.

This is the chance Bryant has longed for, the opportunity to silence those who feel he needs a fourth title to validate his legacy. He and the Lakers have not won it all since Shaquille O'Neal left in 2004, shortly after The Big Diesel chugged off in a trade to Miami.

Bryant swears the he-can't-win-one-without-Shaq argument hasn't bothered him. That's hard to believe. The three straight championships from 2000-02 came so easy. It seemed as though it would take no time for him to win Nos. 4, 5, 6.

But it's been a long time since the last one. Bryant's seven-year itch.

A devout student of the game, Bryant knows that championships are what divide the very goods from the greats.

Bill Russell won 11 rings. Michael Jordan six. On Saturday, he was asked if Jordan's mark was a number he would like to chase?

"I'm trying to get this d**n fourth one," Bryant said, laughing.

A rare smile. Throughout much of the series, he has worn a scowl. His kids nicknamed him Grumpy after one of the Seven Dwarfs. He's turning into Happy. On the brink of returning to the top, Bryant seems more at ease, confident.

He has an appreciation for the journey to each of his three titles. Bryant knows the road well, and he can finally see its end.

"This one is special because you rarely have the opportunity to get back up to the mountain twice in a career," Bryant said. "You have first run and then you hit rock bottom and then you've got to build back up and get back to the top."

While Bryant embraces the possibility of completing his quest, Jackson is leery of looking too far ahead. That's asking for trouble.

The cautious coach.

If the Lakers win, the 64-year-old Jackson will surpass Red Auerbach for the most titles in history. It's a distinction that almost seems to bother Jackson, who won six in Chicago with Jordan and Scottie Pippen running his triangle offense before he took over the Lakers in 1999.

Even considering the achievement makes him squirm in his flip-flops. Two handfuls of rings is not something the son of a preacher from North Dakota who became a valued role player on two championship teams in New York in the 1970s could have imagined.

"They say it takes four games to win," Jackson said, "and I just don't want to even talk about anything like that until there's a done deed."

Jackson spoke with reverence about Auerbach on Saturday. He praised the cigar-smoking legend for savvy trades, making Russell a player/coach and his hoops knowledge. Jackson also called his 1991 arrival in Chicago, when Jordan was coming into his prime as "a real gift for me."

His second gift was inheriting the O'Neal-Bryant package. But after winning three straight titles, the Lakers' family became dysfunctional. Success splintered the team.

Bryant craved the ball. But O'Neal got it, and more often than not, Jackson sided with his big man.

It ended with a messy breakup: O'Neal was traded, Jackson stepped down for the 2004-05 season and Bryant was painted as the villain. Jackson famously ripped the All-Star guard in a diary of the 2003-04 season, titled "The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul."

But time has healed all the surface wounds and Bryant and Jackson now share a bond built on respect and a common drive to excel.

While they may not outwardly show it, Bryant and his coach are tighter than ever.

"The second time around it became more of a personal relationship, us having been around each other and then having this new group of guys that we both had to lead," Bryant said. "The relationship has carried over to off the court, whereas in the past it's always just been more of an Xs and Os kind of relationship."

Bryant called Jackson's potential trump of Auerbach "phenomenal" and scoffed at the idea he has only won because of talent.

"I can't name one coach that won a championship with a bunch of scrubs," Bryant said. "So that argument makes no sense."

As for the possibility of playing for anyone but Jackson, who has not outlined his plans beyond this season, Bryant can't consider it.

"I've been spoiled my whole career playing for Phil," he said. "It's hard to imagine playing for anybody else. I grew up with him." - AP

06-19-2009, 02:31 PM
Lakers roll to 15th NBA title behind Bryant's big game
06/15/2009 | 10:44 AM
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Kobe Bryant has the NBA title he needed most — the one without Shaq.

Bryant's seven-year chase of a coveted championship is over. He's got his fourth, and Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson his record 10th, a ring for each finger. One year after failing in the finals, Bryant and the Lakers have redemption, and all the rewards that go with it.

They earned their 15th title on Sunday night as Bryant scored 30 points and Pau Gasol added 14 and 15 rebounds in a 99-86 win in Game 5 over the Orlando Magic, who ran out of comebacks.

It took longer than Bryant expected, but he has stepped out of former teammate Shaquille O'Neal's enormous shadow — at last. His fourth championship secured a strong case can be made for Bryant being the league's best player since Michael Jordan hung up his sneakers.

O'Neal, now with the Phoenix Suns, was glad to see the Bryant win another title.

"Congratulations kobe, u deserve it," O'Neal said on Twitter page. "You played great. Enjoy it my man enjoy it."

Bryant's coach stands alone.

Jackson, the chilled-out, bow-legged Zen Master who won six league titles in the 1990s with Jordan in Chicago, now has won No. 4 with Los Angeles and broke a tie with legendary Boston coach Red Auerbach as the winningest coach in finals history.

"I'll smoke the cigar tonight in memory of Red," Jackson said. "He was a great guy."

Bryant and Jackson, whose relationship strained and briefly snapped under the weight of success, are again at the top of their games.


Nothing was going to stop Bryant, who spent the postseason scowling, snarling, baring his teeth and all but breathing fire at anything in his path. For weeks, the All-Star has worn his game face, and only when the victory was his in the final seconds did the finals MVP allow himself to smile.

After the final horn, he leaped into the air and was quickly engulfed by his teammates, who bounced around the floor of Amway Arena. Bryant then gave a long, heartfelt hug and shared a few words with Jackson before sweeping up his daughters, both wearing gold Lakers dresses, into his arms.

Bryant had come up short twice in the finals before, in 2004 with O'Neal against Detroit, and again last season against the Celtics in the renewal of the league's best rivalry. The Lakers were beaten in six games, losing the finale in Boston by 39 points, a humiliating beatdown that Bryant and his teammates had trouble shaking.

They went to training camp with one goal in mind. This was going to be their season, and except for a few minor missteps, it was.

"It's so tough to win championships," Bryant said. "We started over from scratch. Here we are again. This really feels like a dream."

After beating Utah in the first round, Los Angeles was forced to go seven games against Houston, which lost center Yao Ming to an injury. The Lakers then took care of Denver in six games, setting up a matchup with the shoot-from-their-hips Magic, who made their first visit to the finals since O'Neal took them there in 1995.

Orlando will be haunted by moments in a series that swung on a few plays and had two overtime games.

After losing Game 1 by 25 points, the Magic had their chance in Game 2 but rookie Courtney Lee missed an alley-oop layup in the final second of regulation. In Game 4, Dwight Howard clanged two free throws with 11.1 seconds, and the Magic allowed Derek Fisher to nail a game-tying 3-pointer to force OT.

Howard, the Magic's super hero center, was hardly a factor in Game 5. He scored 11 points, took just nine shots and never got a chance to get going. Rashard Lewis scored 18 points, but was only 3 of 12 on 3s for Orlando, which after living on the 3, finally died by it.

The Magic went just 8 of 27 from long range.

Orlando was trying to become the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the finals. They had rallied to knock off Philadelphia and Boston, and then upset LeBron James and Cleveland in the conference finals. The Magic always felt they had a shot at history.

Bryant, though, wouldn't be denied his place.

Orlando's magical mystery tour came to a quick end.

As teammates, Bryant and O'Neal were nearly unbeatable on the court. Off it, there were problems.

The pair won three straight titles together from 2000-02, but the Bryant-O'Neal dynasty became dysfunctional as both fought for control with Jackson publicly siding with his All-Star center. It all eventually crumbled in 2004 when O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat.

Bryant was blamed for the breakup, and as the years passed, his many critics said he couldn't win one by himself. He couldn't, but the addition of Gasol, who came over in a stunning trade from Memphis last season, filled O'Neal's massive void at center and gave Bryant help.

Fisher, who has four rings himself, came back to L.A. after stints in Golden State and Utah and became a steadying force. If not for his two key 3-pointers in Game 4, this series would still be going.

The Lakers were anything but The Kobe Show.

They got help from their entire roster as Odom, Trevor Ariza and Andrew Bynum, who missed most of last season and the playoffs with a knee injury, came through.

The Lakers began to separate from the Magic in the second quarter, and they did it by borrowing a page from Orlando's playbook — shooting at will.

Trailing 40-36, Los Angeles went on a 16-0 run, which included two 3-pointers by Ariza and one by Fisher. When Fisher got Howard to leave his feet and dropped a layup, the Lakers were up by nine and a sizable contingent of purple-and-gold clad fans began chants of "Let's Go Lakers!"

They led 56-46 at halftime and kept their distance in the second half, forcing the Magic, who shot a finals record 63 percent in Game 3, into rapid-fire mode.

This time, the shots wouldn't drop.

The Lakers' shots weren't falling either early on, and if their field-goal percentage wasn't ugly enough, Bryant jammed the outside fingers on his shooting hand when he had the ball ripped away.

During a timeout, Bryant, who has been bothered by a dislocated pinky for two seasons, kicked his feet in obvious pain as he sat on the bench. At halftime, one of the team's trainers yanked on his hand and Bryant turned down an offer of ice.

"I want to feel the pain," he said.

On this night, he wanted to savor it all. - AP

06-19-2009, 02:32 PM
Bryant's help comes through for champion Lakers
06/15/2009 | 12:43 PM
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ORLANDO, Florida — As great as Kobe Bryant is, one player wasn't going to beat the Orlando Magic.

LeBron James learned that lesson.

Bryant didn't have to.

He had plenty of help in the NBA finals, with four teammates scoring in double figures in the 99-86 Game 5 victory Sunday that gave the Lakers a 15th championship.

Bryant scored 30 points and was the finals MVP, but he wouldn't be lofting any trophies without the help he got from a solid but unspectacular group that turned out to be the perfect support for him.

"I think as teammates we understand what kind of player he is, what he brings to the table, and we try to complement each other," Pau Gasol said. "I think what we've been doing well this year is understanding what our roles were, what our abilities are out there as individuals and make it work as a team. It really worked out well. I think we all understood how to play this game together and to take us to this championship."

Kobe's supporting cast:

—Gasol, the supposedly soft player who stood up to Superman, had 14 points and 15 rebounds.

—Lamar Odom, with the superstar skills he willingly accepted a sixth man role, had 17 points and 10 boards.

—Derek Fisher, the veteran who found his missing shot just in time to swing the series in Game 4, scored 13 points.

—Trevor Ariza, the swingman who couldn't shoot and has turned into a reliable threat from outside, added 15.

It was last year in Los Angeles' humiliating loss to Boston in Game 6 that coach Phil Jackson had to leave Bryant on the court longer than usual in the first half, with no other Lakers able to get anything going.

This time, everyone but Bryant had it going during the decisive second quarter.

Bryant scored only four points in the period, with just one basket during a 16-0 burst the Lakers rode into the lead.

With the Lakers trailing 40-36 midway through the period, Fisher and Ariza hit 3s, and after a jumper by Bryant, Ariza made another 3 for a 47-40 lead. Fisher followed with another bucket, Ariza hit a free throw, and a basket by Odom pushed the lead to 52-40.

Bryant averaged more than seven assists in the series, confident when he gave the ball up his teammates would do something good with it.

"Kobe was the thrust that created shots for guys and the opportunities for guys on the floor," Jackson said. "That was really our chance, and we said at halftime, we get another opportunity like that, we have this game in hand if we can just crack one more three-minute span like that and create some turnovers and run outs and do it again. Kobe said, 'I'll push the guys and I'll find guys if you guys run the court.'"

It was less than two years ago, frustrated after a second straight first-round elimination, that Bryant thought so little of his teammates that he said he wanted to be traded.

Instead, the Lakers decided to keep him and build a contender around him.

Fisher came back to Los Angeles so his family could live in a large city with the health care they needed to treat his young daughter's cancer. The Lakers then stole Gasol, who even Jackson wasn't sure was tough enough to be part of a champion, in a trade with Memphis before the 2008 trade deadline.

"Got a new point guard, got a new wing, got a Spaniard, and then it was all good," Bryant said. "It was all good. I had a bunch of Christmas presents that came early."

They struggled at times in the postseason. Fisher looked old and slow, and his shot was off. Odom was shaky for a few games after a hard fall on his back in the second round, when the Lakers needed seven games to get past Houston.

The Showtime Lakers of the '80s were loaded with star power, and their championship teams in this decade were led by Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.

Only one superstar on this team, but plenty of help for him.

Just what Bryant needed. - AP
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06-19-2009, 02:32 PM
Tiger and Kobe eat out in Orlando
06/17/2009 | 02:16 PM
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FARMINGDALE, New York — Tiger Woods grew up watching the great 1980s Los Angeles Lakers and remains a big fan, even though he lives in Orlando and has front-row seats for the Magic's games.

But he had additional interest in the NBA finals this year, having spent more time with All-Star guard Kobe Bryant. He said he took Bryant out to dinner when the Lakers were in Orlando, although he didn't say which day.

"His work ethic is phenomenal," Woods said. "Look at him on the court, how he guides his team throughout the game. That's steady. That's knowing the offenses, knowing defenses you're going against, knowing basically all the chess pieces. That takes hours upon hours upon hours of study. His preparation is second to none. And that's certainly something anyone can appreciate."

What was the occasion for taking Bryant to dinner?

06-19-2009, 02:33 PM
Fans flood Lakers party drenched in purple, gold
06/18/2009 | 09:38 AM
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LOS ANGELES – The streets of downtown were transformed into a sea of purple and gold on Wednesday as tens of thousands of joyous Los Angeles Lakers fans joined their team in a raucous but mostly peaceful celebration of its 15th NBA championship.

Taking a time-out from work or unemployment, 95,000 people filled the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to give a hero's welcome to players and coaches, who were showered with purple and gold confetti as the Randy Newman song "I Love L.A." blared from loudspeakers.

Tens of thousands more fans lined a 2 1/2-mile parade route, standing 20 or more deep beneath bright sunshine to cheer as double-decker buses carried the team to the stadium.

"Thank you for all the support, baby. We love you. Let's go, Lakers," veteran guard Derek Fisher, one of the heroes of the NBA Finals, shouted to fans along the route.

Reserve Sasha Vujacic happily snapped photos and star forward Lamar Odom tweeted, "Wow! This is crazy!"

At the stadium, the Laker Girls danced on a hardwood floor that was moved to the Coliseum from Staples Center, the team's home court.

"We are humbled by your devotion and appreciation to us," said coach Phil Jackson, who thanked his girlfriend, Jeannie Buss, the daughter of team owner Jerry Buss, for talking him into returning as coach after he left the team for a year after the 2004 season.

Parades and rallies celebrating Lakers championships have been a tradition in Los Angeles since the teams led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar began winning titles with regularity in the 1980s.

But none were as big, loud or celebratory as this one, which came after down years endured since the team's last championship in 2002.

"This is more special because we went through so many dark years," said Bryant, who played on Jackson-coached, title-winning teams in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

With Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and other stars past and present looking on, Bryant led the crowd at the stadium in a chant that he said the players shouted before, during and after every game this year as they fought for the title.

"I want everybody to say 'ring' on three," Bryant said. "One, two, three ... " The crowd responded.

Then he and his high-fiving, body-bumping teammates embraced in a brief circle dance.

"It's a great thing to be a part of," said Letitcia Gutierrez, who watched the parade while squeezed against a chain-link fence separating fans from the buses carrying the players.

"We got passion and motivation. We're rowdy," she said.

Some in the crowd got a little too rowdy, including a group that was shut out of the celebration when the Coliseum filled to capacity. Dozens of people who tried to enter by climbing over a ticket booth were turned back by police on horseback and in riot gear. Some officers fired beanbags into the crowd.

In all, 15 people were arrested, police said. Several cases of heat exhaustion were the only injuries reported.

Police Chief William J. Bratton said at least 1,700 officers, some in plainclothes, kept watch on the crowd.

Fan Michael Sims arrived before dawn with his brother, sister, niece and nephews to ensure they would get seats inside the Coliseum.

"Who would miss this? This is magical," said the 45-year-old Sims, who has been cheering the Lakers since the days of Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar.

In the days before the event, much was made of its estimated $2 million cost, with critics complaining that a city a half-billion dollars in debt and facing layoffs could not afford the celebration.

But private donors joined the team and the owners of Staples Center to underwrite most of the cost. It was the first of at the four Laker victory parades this decade to be privately funded. - AP

06-19-2009, 02:33 PM
Odom's mind on returning to Lakers next season
06/19/2009 | 07:13 AM
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Lamar Odom says he wants to return to the Los Angeles Lakers, and he hopes the team will keep both him and Trevor Ariza.

Odom and Ariza become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

"You want to keep the team together," Odom said. "We just won a championship, you don't want to see one piece not there. Hopefully we can keep everybody here."

Odom met with coach Phil Jackson and general manager Mitch Kupchak during an individual 20-minute exit interview Thursday.

"Hopefully, it won't take that long," he said, joking about upcoming contract negotiations. "In and out, three years, 80 million." - AP

06-26-2009, 12:55 AM
Puro news clips. Discussions naman! Champion na champion wala man lang nagpopost dito :(


06-27-2009, 08:30 PM
Puro news clips. Discussions naman! Champion na champion wala man lang nagpopost dito :(


Mukhang intact ang Lakers by next season with Ariza and Odom already assuring that they will remain in LA.

06-28-2009, 10:26 PM
Oo nga. They can dump Sasha Vujacic for cash and a bag of chips too. He's not really a factor. Tuturo ko pa sila sa pinakamalapit na junk shop. Mas maraming pera, mas magiging pulido ang pag-resign kay Odom, Ariza and Brown.

Heard Farmar's on the trading block. What about Vujabrick??? ;D

07-03-2009, 10:10 AM

Ariza's going to Houston. What a great morning. What a great day. ;D

07-03-2009, 02:20 PM

Ariza's going to Houston. What a great morning. What a great day. ;D

Magaling si Ariza and I'm so sad to see him go but the Lakers will be more formidable with the entry of Ron Artest. Seryoso talaga Lakers na maka back-to-back and have another dynasty sa NBA.
;) ;) ;)

07-03-2009, 02:21 PM
Ron Artest is joining Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

David Bauman, Artest's agent, told The Associated Press that the Houston Rockets forward has verbally agreed to play for the NBA champions next season. Bauman said the final details are still being worked out, but could be finished as early as Thursday night.

The Los Angeles Times says the two sides are close to reaching a deal, probably for the full mid-level exception, roughly five years and $32 million. Bauman would not confirm numbers, saying the deal was still being negotiated.

"We're not quite there yet," Bauman said. "We're still working on it."

The 6-foot-7 forward earned $7.4 million in his only season with Houston, averaging 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists. The 2004 Defensive Player of the Year was also a rugged 1-on-1 defender, often assigned to guard the opponent's most dynamic scorer.

Bauman said Artest was looking for a championship-caliber team when he became an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday and the Lakers were one of his top choices.

"He wants to win a ring," Bauman said. "He's a winner and a hard worker and he went looking for a team with whom he could find some justification for what he does. He plays his best when he's in that kind of an environment."

Artest could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier Thursday, Bauman said Artest was being courted by several teams that made the playoffs last season and received text messages from unspecified "superstars" who were trying to lure him to their cities. Bauman would not say if Bryant was one of those players, but acknowledged on Thursday night that their friendship was a factor in Artest's decision.

"The whole situation was extremely appealing to Ron," Bauman said.

The two had a feisty individual battle in the second round of the playoffs, as the undermanned Rockets pushed Bryant and the Lakers to seven games. Artest and Bryant often mouthed off at one another and Artest was ejected from one game for confronting a referee and claiming that Bryant elbowed him in the neck.

Artest's decision is another tough blow to the Rockets, who acquired Artest in a trade with Sacramento last summer. The Rockets envisioned Artest as the final piece to a "Big Three" with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, but those two All-Stars are now dealing with long-term injuries.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey did not immediately return a phone message on Thursday night.

He already seemed resigned to losing Artest, flying to Las Vegas earlier in the day to meet with Lakers forward Trevor Ariza. The 6-8 Ariza averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists for the Lakers last season and would fit into Artest's role in Houston's starting lineup.

Houston already knows it will be missing McGrady for the bulk of next season as he recovers from microfracture surgery on his left knee.

The Rockets are also awaiting a definitive prognosis on Yao, who sustained a hairline fracture in his left foot in the playoffs. Morey made an aggressive pitch to free agent center Marcin Gortat shortly after the free agency period began on Wednesday.

07-03-2009, 02:53 PM
Magaling si Ariza and I'm so sad to see him go but the Lakers will be more formidable with the entry of Ron Artest. Seryoso talaga Lakers na maka back-to-back and have another dynasty sa NBA. ;) ;) ;)

You know what's better? Ariza is not going to Cleveland! ;D

07-03-2009, 02:55 PM
Also, this


Kobe Coming to Manila!!! JULY 21!!! ;D ;D ;D

07-07-2009, 11:36 AM
Magaling si Ariza and I'm so sad to see him go but the Lakers will be more formidable with the entry of Ron Artest. Seryoso talaga Lakers na maka back-to-back and have another dynasty sa NBA. ;) ;) ;)

You know what's better? Ariza is not going to Cleveland! ;D

Kasalanan ng agent niya yan kaya nalipat siya sa Houston. Anyway, malabo na siyang bumalik sa Orlando dahil dun diba nag start ang career niya at hindi naman siya gaanon na utilize in his first year if I'm not mistaken.

07-09-2009, 09:21 AM
^ he was drafted by and played for the Knicks his rookie year. But, you're right he was never utilized enough before being traded to Orlando. There he had a bit of playing time but was eventually traded to the Lakers (who initiated the trade if i'm not mistaken)

07-09-2009, 02:56 PM
i love ariza and all but he won't be the first option in houston and he really thrives in a system where he doesn't have to create his own shot

07-22-2009, 07:32 AM

Kobe visits Manila in opening stop on Asian tour

By OLIVER TEVES, Associated Press Writer

MANILA, Philippines (AP)—Kobe Bryant believes Americans will keep paying to go to basketball games despite recession and rising unemployment. He says the sacrifices by fans make him try harder.

“(I) get my heart out there in the court to play because this may be the first time or the last time that a kid or a family ever comes to watch us play or perform,” he said Tuesday.

Bryant, who led the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA title last month, was greeted by about 1,000 fans on the first stop of an Asian tour to promote a new shoe. He will also visit Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Shanghai and Chengdu in China.

Bryant said he wants to be remembered as someone who enjoys a good time and loves basketball.

“But when you step into that basketball court, then it becomes business, then it becomes hard work, focus and drive and everything else,” he said. “We focus on one thing and one thing only, and that’s playing the game.”

Bryant, who grew up in Italy, was making his third visit to the Philippines. He said the country is “like a home away from home.”

“I love it here,” he said. “I am welcomed with open arms. They treat me like family.”

At one point, Bryant took off his shoes and autographed them. He gave the right shoe to a man and his son and the left to a girl who had yelled, “I love you, Kobe.”

An aide handed him another pair before he left for a basketball clinic in suburban Pasig.

“They love the game, and I love being around their energy,” Bryant said. “It takes me back to when I was a kid.”

07-22-2009, 08:58 AM


07-22-2009, 09:04 AM
"Gooden is too stupid for the triangle offense". ;D ;D

07-24-2009, 03:25 PM
Love talaga ni Kobe ang Manila, especially the whole of Asia Super sikat kasi siya dito eh.
:D :D :D :D

07-26-2009, 12:30 PM
Sources: Odom leaning toward signing with Heat
By Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports

Lamar Odom(notes) is leaning strongly toward accepting the Miami Heat’s contract offer and leaving the Los Angeles Lakers, multiple sources with knowledge of the talks said.

Odom has not reached a final decision, the sources said, but there is growing belief he will ultimately return to the Heat unless the Lakers improve their current offer.

“It’s close, but it’s not done,” said one source.

Lakers officials and Odom’s representatives resumed talking after a weeklong standoff that began when Jerry Buss, the team’s owner, withdrew a four-year, $36 million offer that guaranteed $30 million. Sources close to Odom said that while the two sides have since talked, Buss is now offering less than the Lakers’ previous proposal.

Odom could sign a five-year, $34 million with the Heat or take a four-year contract that would give him the option to become a free agent in three seasons and seek a more lucrative deal. He also would not have to pay state income tax in Florida.

Odom, who will turn 30 on Nov. 6, played for the Heat during the 2003-04 season – the only season in his 10-year career that he didn’t spend in Los Angeles – and has maintained a good relationship with Dwyane Wade(notes).

Odom’s departure would be a huge loss for the Lakers and an unexpected gift for the Western Conference’s other top contenders. He averaged 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds last season, and played well during the Lakers’ run to the championship despite being bothered by back spasms. The Lakers replaced Trevor Ariza(notes) with Ron Artest(notes) this summer, but Odom’s length and versatility made him a difficult matchup off the bench for opposing teams

07-31-2009, 02:43 PM
Lamar Odom staying with Lakers
By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Lamar Odom(notes) is sticking with the NBA champs.

After a rocky free-agent courtship, Odom agreed on a multiyear contract Thursday to stay with the Los Angeles Lakers, keeping intact most of the roster that won the club’s 15th NBA title this summer.

Lakers spokesman John Black confirmed an agreement, but wouldn’t discuss specifics. Odom still hasn’t signed the deal, but could do so as early as Friday.

The contract, which is expected to contain three guaranteed years and a fourth-year option, maintains the Lakers’ core of Kobe Bryant(notes), Pau Gasol(notes), Derek Fisher(notes) and Odom alongside new teammate Ron Artest(notes). Odom’s return means Los Angeles likely will be favored to win another Western Conference title—and that’s what the 6-foot-10 Odom said he prized most during his eventful few weeks as a free agent.

Odom, a 10-year NBA veteran, proved his determination to win last season when he accepted and thrived in a reserve role for the Lakers, averaging 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds during the postseason.

Odom repeatedly said he preferred to stay with the Lakers, but apparently came close to leaving—either by choice or necessity. Los Angeles pulled a previous contract offer from the table when Odom was slow to respond to it, and Dwyane Wade(notes) heavily lobbied Odom to return to Miami, where they spent one season together.

Portland also apparently made a bid for Odom’s versatile offensive game and passing skills, but the New York City native always made it clear he preferred the personal opportunities and lifestyle only found in Los Angeles, where he spent his first four NBA seasons with the Clippers and his last five with the Lakers.

After playing extensively up front last season, Odom could move to the backcourt for more playing time in the fall. Center Andrew Bynum(notes) will be healthy after missing much of last season with a torn knee ligament, while Artest’s defensive versatility allows him to guard much taller players—perhaps freeing up Odom to use his improved 3-point stroke from the perimeter.

Among the key players in last season’s run to the title, the Lakers lost only forward Trevor Ariza(notes), who emerged as a dependable rotation player last season, particularly during the playoffs. Ariza joined the Houston Rockets after Los Angeles signed Artest, the mercurial defensive specialist who finally realized his long-held dream to play with Bryant.

11-04-2009, 03:23 PM
The Los Angeles Lakers just defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder despite Bryant having a flu!

11-04-2009, 03:24 PM

11-05-2009, 01:52 PM

http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/the_sporting_blog/entry/view/41735/... (http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/the_sporting_blog/entry/view/41735/maria_sharapova_dates_sasha_vujacic,_proves_tall,_ rich_guys_still_have_game)

Tall, Rich Guys Still Have Game
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Posted By Andy Hutchins 3:15 PM

There probably aren't a lot of ways to spin the news of Sasha Vujacic and Maria Sharapova's burgeoning relationship: It's one athlete finding kinship with another, and it's not like this is unprecedented in human history. But Vujacic is not about to confirm anything, via the OC Register.

As he was walking to the locker-room exit, Sasha Vujacic was told that Maria Sharapova was very nice.

“I know,” Vujacic said.

And very smart.

“I know,” Vujacic said.

Vujacic, 25, danced around the topic of his dating tennis star Maria Sharapova, 22, for several minutes without any suggestion of a denial on his part. Vujacic did not explicitly confirm, but he was grinning revealingly through most of my conversation with him — and other sources verified the relationship is legit. Vujacic said he wasn’t sure he could answer a “highly personal question” from me, but later did say with a smile: “I like tennis. It’s a good sport.”

Yeah, Sasha, everyone does.

So, yes, that's probably wink-wink-nod-nod confirmation that Sharapova and "The Machine" are now an item, and one that enjoys U2 together, which proves once again that being tall, remotely attractive, athletic and wealthy is one heck of a combination for wooing women who are similarly situated. (Except, of course, for Dirk Nowitzki.)

The question, though, remains: What will we call the couple? I vote for the mellifluous "Sasharia." The not-so-pretty surname mash-up "Sharapovujacic" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

11-08-2009, 07:17 PM
^ amps, ang swerte naman nitong si vujacic kung ganun! *inggit*

12-07-2009, 08:35 PM
sa tingin niyo guys, magiging champion ulit lakers this year? ;D i bet yes, maganda feedback ni artest sa team, hindi na masyado naging dependent kay kobe yun team ;)

01-03-2010, 03:28 PM
sa tingin niyo guys, magiging champion ulit lakers this year? ;D i bet yes, maganda feedback ni artest sa team, hindi na masyado naging dependent kay kobe yun team ;)

Sana nga kasi maganda ang chemistry ng team. Kahit ang reserve players maganda rin nilalaro.
Kobe is playing hurt pero despite that, he's dishing out MVP numbers.

01-03-2010, 03:41 PM

Mr. Clutch at his best.

01-03-2010, 05:29 PM
sa tingin niyo guys, magiging champion ulit lakers this year? ;D i bet yes, maganda feedback ni artest sa team, hindi na masyado naging dependent kay kobe yun team ;)

Sana nga kasi maganda ang chemistry ng team. Kahit ang reserve players maganda rin nilalaro.
Kobe is playing hurt pero despite that, he's dishing out MVP numbers.

impressive ang athleticism niya, kahit injured ang finger niya sa shooting hand, kaya pa mga impossible shot hahaha:P ang problem lang ngayon is hindi sila consistent sa lamang nila sa points sa kalaban, nahahabol kasi lage, saka mga close fight pa lage.. feel ko lebron vs kobe ang finals, mahina naman kasi yung celtics parang may arthritis na mga player nila, halos lahat veteran na hahahaha

01-03-2010, 07:47 PM
Sana nga lang maging consistent pa sila and of course maging healthy mga players. Sa Bosto, daming injured at nagkakasakit na players. Kahit sa ibang team ganun din.

04-19-2010, 05:46 AM
Game 1 Result

LA Lakers defeated OKC Thunder 87-79

LA Lakers 1 - 0

05-28-2010, 01:00 PM
RonRon saves the day! ;D

05-28-2010, 03:34 PM
Ang tagal na pala wala nagpopost. Wala ba Lakers ba diyan. ;D Well nalungkot kami kanina. :-[ Great game for Nash. It is just that Ron Artest knows how to pick up from his previous mistake.

05-28-2010, 04:07 PM
By Bryan Chu, for NBA.com
Posted Friday May 28, 2010 2:30AM

LOS ANGELES (NBA.com exclusive) -- Ron Artest seemingly didn't know how to celebrate.
With his arms half raised for a second, Artest looked around shocked. Then as he turned, Artest saw Kobe Bryant and wrapped his arms around him as the two began jumping up and down in jubilation.
Following a short 3-point attempt by Bryant, Artest outmuscled Jason Richardson to the rebound and wound up banking in the putback at the buzzer as the Lakers took a thrilling 103-101 victory over the Suns in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Thursday at Staples Center.
"Biggest layup," said Artest of whether this was the biggest shot of his career.
"I've very happy for [Ron]," said Bryant, who had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. "But we'll leave it here and go up there and try to win one."
An otherwise forgettable stat line for Artest -- four points, five rebounds and three steals -- now has the defending champions in prime position to return to the NBA Finals as Los Angeles took a 3-2 series lead and can close out the series Saturday in Phoenix.
For the record, when winning Game 5 of a best-of-seven series, the Lakers are 42-7 all time.
Steve Nash, who had 29 points and 11 assists, drilled key basket after key basket and continued to find his teammates. At one point down the stretch, he had nine of the team's 11 points.
"I was just determined to try to win," said Nash, who helped the Suns rally with a 19-10 run before Artest's game-winning shot. "It was a crazy game."
But Bryant and Derek Fisher, who had 22 points, answered backed with timely buckets of their own.
Whittling away at the Lakers' 18-point lead, the Suns were down just 101-98 in the final minute. After Pau Gasol's missed dunk with 20.9 seconds left, Nash brought the ball up and fired a 3-pointer. Long. Richardson took his shot. Long. Then Channing Frye controlled the rebound and gave it right back to Richardson, who banked in a 27-footer to tie the game with 3.5 seconds left.
"I knew he was going to make it," Frye said.
Then Artest came to the rescue.
"Bottom line," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "We didn't box Ron out. We let him walk right in and get the rebound."
Artest did have his fair share of highs and lows in the final minute, however.
With his team up by 101-98 and a fresh shot clock, Artest fired an ill-advised 3-pointer with 22 seconds on the clock and under a minute to play. The fans shouted "NO!" Then on their next possession, the Suns wound up tying the game.
"He redeemed himself right there," Shannon Brown said.
The moment may have been especially poignant given the heroics of Trevor Ariza in last year's playoffs and the constant debate of whether signing Artest was the right move.
"I always remind him that this is why he came here," Lamar Odom said. "You know, to be in a position like he was in tonight.
"His whole career, I mean his whole life, was about perseverance, sticking with it. Tonight was a prime example of that."
After the game, the Suns tried to stomach the defeat.
"We got to swallow this one," said Amar'e Stoudemire, who had 19 points and four rebounds.
"Once it went in," Jared Dudley said, "it was deflating. It stung. It hurt.
"But by the time we got in the locker room, we huddled together and we realized we have to put this one behind us and just win Game 6."
Added Leandro Barbosa, "we can't put our head down."
To build a lead that swelled to as many as 18 in the third quarter, the Lakers had to make adjustments.
After succumbing to the Suns' zone in Phoenix, it seemed the Lakers figured it out. They penetrated inside and worked inside and out. That helped them go on a 16-5 run in the third quarter.
Gasol, who had 21, and Odom (17 points and 13 rebounds) were the beneficiaries, flashing and scoring in the paint time after time.
But once again, the Suns' bench came up big in the waning minutes of the third and at the start of the fourth. After scoring just two points in the first half, the Suns' bench dropped 31 for the game. In the third, Dudley had a four-point play and Frye had a pair of 3-pointers as the Suns closed out the quarter on a 16-4 run and trailed 78-72.
For most of the game, the Lakers' defense was on point.
The play that was a microcosm of that was in the third quarter when Bryant pounded Stoudemire's layup into the glass. And there was more of that in the second period.
"Defensively," Bryant said. "We were terrific."
Bryant had himself a big game after getting picking up two fouls in the first two minutes and 35 seconds.
In the second period, Bryant had 13 point and drained three consecutive 3-pointers. That onslaught was part of a 13-0 run, lifting the Lakers to a 41-25 lead with 6:14 left in the second period.
Fisher had a huge game as well, picking up the slack with Bryant in foul trouble. He scored 11 points in the first quarter and helped the Lakers grab a 24-21 lead at the end of the first quarter despite trailing by as many as seven points.
The Suns held the Lakers to a series-low 41.8 percent shooting, but they did shoot themselves in the foot, going 20-for-29 from the free-throw line.
After the game, Nash made it clear that his team won't have a letdown in a possible closeout game Saturday.
"They held home court," Nash said. "We'll go back and do the same. We'll come back here for Game 7."

06-05-2010, 03:12 AM
NBA 2010 Finals LA Lakers Highlights (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd-Wkbg2zuA)

06-29-2010, 11:06 PM

but there seems to be problems with money for the lakers. dr. buss is going sarver on the phil jackson. of all people! JESUS CHRIST JERRY that is the ZEN MASTER and you don't underpay him!

the lakers made nice picks with ebanks and caracter and i hope they pan out well so that the lakers would have additional bodies to match up against teams like portland and oklahoma city. i'm particularly watching ebanks as he is projected to be an ariza-lite who can defend the 2-4 positions. looks like the point guard situation is a problem that will be tried to be solved in the free-agency. i would've loved for the lakers to pick jon scheyer though. he was there for the team to take, but hey i trust mitch kupchak.

07-23-2010, 11:41 AM

Barnes signs with Lakers

Veteran swingman Matt Barnes, one of the most coveted free agents left on the open market, is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Barnes announced the move via his Twitter feed on Thursday, and the Lakers confirmed the deal.

Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Barnes agreed to a two-year contract worth $3.6 million.

"Its official I AM A LOS ANGLES LAKER. I wanna thank u for all ur patients and understanding. This is a dream come true!!! Good lookn Kobe," Barnes posted on his Twitter feed.

The deal is significantly less than the one he reportedly agreed to with the Toronto Raptors on Monday.

Barnes announced Monday night via his Twitter feed that he was headed to Toronto. But that deal quickly unraveled when it became apparent that the limited sign-and-trade options available to Orlando -- Barnes' last team -- would not allow for the contract that Barnes was anticipating.

Under the impression that he would be receiving a two-year contract worth roughly $9 million, Barnes tweeted his thanks to Magic fans after announcing that he'd be "playing for the Toronto Raptors" next season.

The Magic are prevented by salary-cap rules from starting a sign-and-trade deal for Barnes at higher than $1.9 million, because Orlando doesn't have Barnes' full Bird rights after employing him for only one season. A sign-and-trade deal would also have to span at least three years, although only the first year is required to be guaranteed.

Since Toronto recently spent the bulk of its $5.8 million mid-level exception to sign Linas Kleiza, it did not have the available funds to sign Barnes outright to a deal that starts in the neighborhood of $4 million.

Barnes started 58 games last year for Orlando in his only season with the Magic after a hard recruiting push from center Dwight Howard, averaging 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. The 30-year-old originally signed a two-year deal with Orlando but exercised his option to become a free agent after playing for $1.6 million in 2009-10.

Shannon Brown's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin that Barnes' signing does not change things in Brown's negotiations with the Lakers but with 11 players now under contract for the Lakers and the remaining two roster spots considered earmarked for the team's two second-round draft picks, it would appear that Brown will not be returning to L.A.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Marc Stein was used in this report.

07-23-2010, 11:43 AM

15-year veteran Ratliff signs with Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers added depth along the front line by signing Theo Ratliff, the team announced on Thursday.

The 37-year-old played 49 games last season with San Antonio and Charlotte, averaging 3.6 points and 3.2 rebounds. He revived his career while starting 26 games with the Bobcats, averaging 5.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.54 blocked shots. He has averaged 7.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.45 blocks and 25.5 minutes in his 15-year NBA career with the Pistons, 76ers, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, Spurs and Bobcats.

"I've had a long and very rewarding career, and joining a storied and legendary franchise such as the Lakers adds an even more special element," Ratliff said in a statement released by the team. "I look forward to playing for Coach Jackson and with great players such as Kobe [Bryant], Derek [Fisher], Pau [Gasol], Lamar [Odom] Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum and all my other new teammates, and hopefully to helping the Lakers win a third straight championship."

Ratliff said he'll join the two-time defending NBA champions as a backup to Gasol and Bynum.

Ratliff has always seemed to find a home due to his shot-blocking ability. He ranks 18th in NBA history with 1,963 blocks and led the league three times.

"Theo has long been considered to be one of the best defensive big men in the league," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. "He is a consummate professional and a welcome addition to our team. Together with Bynum, Gasol, Odom and Artest, he gives us a formidable and deep front line."

08-06-2010, 09:27 AM
Guard Shannon Brown to re-sign with Lakers

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Shannon Brown(notes) is returning to the Los Angeles Lakers, turning down more lucrative offers for a shot at a third straight championship.

Brown’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the high-flying free agent guard agreed to a two-year deal worth $4.6 million to return for his third season with Los Angeles.

“He’s been there two years, and they’ve won two championships,” Bartelstein said. “There’s very few times you have a chance to go for a threepeat. When you have that opportunity, he couldn’t pass it up.”

The Lakers acquired Brown in a trade in early 2009, and he quickly earned a role in their rotation as a backup to Kobe Bryant(notes). Brown also became a crowd favorite for his acrobatic dunks, earning an invitation to last season’s dunk contest at All-Star weekend.

Brown averaged career highs of 8.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists last season while playing solid defense for the Lakers. His role could grow next season if Los Angeles attempts to reduce Bryant’s minutes to keep him fresh for another postseason, although Brown again will be competing for minutes with Sasha Vujacic.

Read complete article here - http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AlFmtg2FPRAOkU30PdLZZHe8vLYF?slug=ap-lakers-brown