All Balls Don’t Bounce

Completely Random Sports Non Sequiturs From A Completely Random Hip Hop Head

Posts Tagged ‘clippers’

Aaaand We’re Back

Posted by hiphopmama on October 27, 2009

Ringzzz
LA Clippers 92, LA Lakers 99
(1-0)

It always feels a little weird to me when the NBA season doesn’t start on Halloween, but my daughter’s third birthday is as good a day as any to inaugurate another year of basketball.  With this being “Championship Ring Night,” which is apparently the newest addition to the commentator vernacular, emotions were high at Staples Center as the Lakers kicked off their season against their in-house rivals, the Clippers.

Now before I really get into it, I have a caveat. This year’s updates are going to be much shorter. At least that’s my intention. I’m back at work, braving daycare with my baby girl, and frankly too damn tired to pump out 800+ words for every Laker game. That said, I often have a hard time shutting my mouth (or my laptop), so brevity is more of a tentative goal than an absolute promise. And now on with the show.

The Lakers turned in a mostly convincing performance against a Clippers team that was without its number one draft pick Blake Griffin, who picked up a knee injury in the last game of an impressive preseason. He is expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks, which is a big blow to Dunleavy and the Clips. That wasn’t the biggest of their problems tonight, though, as they were generally dismantled by a far superior Lakers team that looked loose and ready to get back to work. We were without Pau Gasol due to a nagging but minor injury, so Odom was inserted into the starting line-up along with old faithfuls Kobe and Fish, the hopefully healthy Bynum, and newcomer Ron Artest.

The team fared well in the early going, moving the ball well and defending with good energy. Phil treated it like a preseason game with his rotation, playing the likes of Mbenga and Powell significant minutes in the first quarter somewhat surprisingly. When the Clippers made the expected run, the starters were re-inserted to steady the game and stretch the lead back to a comfortable margin. The same basic pattern followed in the second half, with the team taking a little cruise in the third quarter to let the Clips back to within one before slamming the door shut on them with an early fourth quarter burst.

It’s the first game of a long season, so I don’t think too much can be read into this one, but it’s worth analyzing things a bit I suppose. Kobe turned in a routine 33 in 38 minutes and filled out the rest of the stat sheet with 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals. He looked like a fish in water, thoroughly in his element and happy to be back on the court. He linked up well with his teammates all night long. Odom looked like the good Odom that makes us all but unbeatable, going for a cool 16 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Dayyyumm. Phil showed us a little somethin’ somethin’ with a three-guard set of Kobe, Farmar, and Brown on a couple occasions. We’ll have to see how that one plays out as the season goes on.

The biggest story of the night was easily Ron Artest’s debut in the purple and gold. He wasn’t spectacular, but he played the kind of game I’d like to see more of from him in the future. He was quiet for large stretches, defended staunchly, hustled for loose balls, and picked his spots offensively. The main question fans had going into the season was how Ron-Ron would fit into the triangle offense and whether or not he would be able to defer to the great offensive beings on his team. At least for tonight, he did all that and quite well. He missed a few open threes, but that will come with time, and the extra threat on the post and toughness in defense is well worth the transition time. And Ariza’s agent looks worse and worse….

So here I am, 650 words in and still talking. I’m gonna shut up now and leave it at that until Friday night, when we host the Mavericks. 20-1 may be a little lofty (but thanks for the nod, Reggie), but something similarly remarkable does seem achievable, at least for this early season stretch, which is pretty straightforward for the second straight year. 70 games? Probably not, but the goal is much more than that anyway. Here’s to all that and more.

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Back in the Saddle (Me and My Muse)

Posted by hiphopmama on January 21, 2009

42!

42!

LA Lakers 108, LA Clippers 97

(33-8 )

Bynum went for 42. Kobe had a triple-double. Luke was back in the starting five. But this game was all about me. Incredibly egotistical? Hell yeah, but true nonetheless. In a sort of “if a tree falls in the forest” way, I’m not convinced the Lakers exist outside my own consciousness. Because, really, what is their purpose outside of making my own life livable? You may disagree, but I know the truth – we have a personal connection and our fates are linked like ET and Elliott. The both of us – me and the Lakers – have been going through a rough time of late. My life has been, well, shit, for lack of a better word, but I’ve been rolling with the punches. Same for the Lake Show, losing the first two of the murderous trifecta but coming back strong to beat the Cavs in part three, and we’re all slowly getting back on our feet. For both our sakes, I hope this is the beginning of better times.

This should have been a routine victory against a decimated Clippers line-up, but we made it a little more difficult than that, giving up the inevitable late run to make it a bit nervy down the stretch. We’re already prone to such mistakes, but this time it seemed to be our desire to get Bynum to 40 that got us off track, as Kobe and others fed him repeatedly on the screen-roll to get him over that hump. It never happened, and in the meantime the Clips strung together some points and got it to within seven. But then Kobe finally got his game face back in time to nail a tough runner and effectively sew it up. When a defensive rebound fell to Kobe, he finally had the chance he needed and found Bynum on the outlet, setting up the slam for the big man to hit 40. A rebound put-back later, and he had upped his career high to 42 to go along with 15 rebounds and 3 blocks.

It was an incredible night all around for Andrew. He finally fulfilled on all the promise mostly by just playing smart positionally and giving all the energy he had been lacking for a while. He made a number of nice post moves, to be sure, but most of his points came much more easily as a result of good spacing, movement, and passing in the two-man game. The Kobe-Bynum screen-roll worked particularly well, but everyone else found him tonight too and he was constantly moving to keep himself in position to receive the ball from the outside. His incessant board work also netted him a few baskets and helped the Lakers dominate the glass, 46 to 26 in rebounds. Not too surprising since the Clippers were without Camby and Kaman, but still a pretty resounding margin. 

Kobe had a fairly mundane evening and still rolled out of the arena with a triple-double. No matter how much he tries to grin and bear it, that ring finger is hurting him and affecting his shot. The net result is that he’s still the best player on the floor every time out there, but he wisely adjusted his game to play to his strengths for the moment, foregoing the pull-up J in favor of slashing to the hoop and efficiently running the pick and roll from the elbow. He has been a league beyond his own lofty standards in distributing the ball these last few games, and he continued that trend with his 12 assists in this one. This year more than any other, he appears to have finally grasped the principle that it’s all about winning and not individual performance. If feeding the big guys down low will get it done, then do it do death, even if you take a few less shots in the process. Of course, it’s a lot easier to trust your teammates when you’re surrounding with the guys he’s playing with this year. 

Did I mention that Luke came back? People can whine all they want about him having a weak shot or being a half-step slower than others we have at that position. For my money, he still easily belongs in the starting line-up. That doesn’t mean he’s the right guy to have in there at any given moment in the game, especially in the late minutes, but I think he is clearly the right choice for the starting five. He is a savvy player who stabilizes the squad, and starting him helps keep Ariza fresh for when we need his defense and athleticism later on. And by the way, Trevor stunk if up tonight, at least offensively. I’m all for him being confident enough to take the open shot when it’s there, especially if it comes from running the offense, but having him randomly rise up for a jumper with 15 left on the shot clock without ever chucking it down low is not a strategy I want to see us employ much. I don’t even love to see Kobe do that much, and I’m certainly not gonna take kindly to Ariza going down that road. I still love the guy to death and thank my lucky stars we got him on the cheap, but I’d rather he stick to running his ass off without the ball.

The only other thing of note in this game was DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers rookie center who got his second start of the year tonight. I’d never even heard of this guy before, but he sure made an impression tonight. He massacred us with his 23 points on 11-of-12 shooting, scoring the vast majority of those on emphatic dunks and generally overpowering everyone within his massive wingspan. The 12 rebounds and 4 blocks were further evidence of his omnipresence in the paint. The Clippers home announcers are some of the better ones out there, and while their increasingly stratospheric comparisons (Dwight Howard! Hakeem Olajuwon!) got a little out of hand, I can’t say they were too far off the mark in their praise. This is the first time he’s ever had a game like this so it’s much too early to say for sure, but if tonight’s performance was at all indicative, he’s got quite a future ahead of him. The joy he played with was fun to watch as well, and I was glad to see Kobe have a long and seemingly encouraging chat with him when the buzzer sounded. I’m definitely a Lakers fan, but I’m never averse to seeing the Clippers do well, and this Jordan kid could be the start of something good.

We get the Wizards tomorrow in what will hopefully be a less nerve-wracking game than the last but with the same outcome. I don’t know if you remember, but they caught us up late and Caron Butler even had a three to win it at the buzzer that fell just short. The Wiz are 9-32, but we should know better than to take them lightly. For once I’d like to see us NOT play down to the level of an inferior opponent, but I’ll settle for a win however we can get it. It’s nice to see the injury situation progressing, with Luke and Odom both back and Farmar progressing ahead of schedule. Hopefully we can get all our guys back in time to set ourselves after the All-Star break and make a serious run in the second half of the season – not just for home court advantage but for the comfort that comes with working out the kinks well in advance of the big test.

Until tomorrow, when I fully intend to be back with another recap.

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Lakers Best Clippers, Go To 4-0

Posted by hiphopmama on November 5, 2008

Clippers Lakers Basketball

LA Clippers 88, LA Lakers 106

(4-0)

After a few days off, the Lakers got back down to business on Wednesday, starting slowly but steadily and using a late push to secure their second win of the season against the Clippers, who fell to 0-5 on the year. 

The Lakers trailed 51-47 at the half, and spent the third quarter trading the lead with the Clips, going into the fourth with a four point lead, 72-68. They fell behind by two at the 8-minute mark, and then it was over. They went on a 22-0 run, sparked by Kobe, Odom, and Farmar, and never looked back, eventually winning by 18 points. 

Next up are the Rockets on Sunday at Staples, so plenty of time between games again. This will have to catch up with us eventually… 

Some game stats:

  • The Lakers had five players in double figures: Kobe (27, 8/21); Odom (15, 4/8); Fisher (13, 4/12); Radmanovic (11, 4/9); Ariza (10, 4/8). Three other players – Gasol, Bynum, and Farmar – had 9 points.
  • Both teams shot pretty poorly, 38.8% for the Lakers and 38.9% for the Clippers.
  • The Lakers are consistently over 70% from the free throw line on the season. Not a huge stat, I know, but a nice change of pace from the Shaq days.
  • We out-rebounded the Clippers by 10, 54-44.
  • Kobe still only had to play 36 minutes. He’s averaging 33.3 minutes for the season, versus his 36.4 minute career average.
  • Bynum had 17 rebounds and 4 blocks. ‘Nuff said.

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Another Day, Another Win

Posted by hiphopmama on October 30, 2008

LA Lakers 117, LA Clippers 79

(2-0)

2-0 has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Obviously it’s extremely early. Hell, “early” is an understatement at less than 1-40th of the season completed, but good starts are better than bad starts, right? It’s such a nice change of place from the old days. By that, I mean the winning days, when we had the Terrible Twosome of Kobe and Shaq and made a habit of winning titles. Back then, we could never seem to get off to a strong start, instead picking up steam as the season wore on. It wasn’t an absolute, but it was certainly a trend, as Shaq always found some reason to be absent in those early games and the team was not built to survive without him. Hopefully they can continue this new trend. 

Tonight’s game was a great demonstration of what the Lakers can do, albeit against a Clippers team chock full of new guys still learning to play together. There were seven Lakers players in double figures, including four of five starters (sorry, Radmanovic) as well as Jordan Farmar (15), Ariza (11), and Mihm (10) off the bench. Furthermore, they played all 12 guys, and all 12 scored, with the lowest tally being Josh Powell and Luke Walton’s 4 points. Kobe’s stat line was modest by his standards: 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists (with 5 turnovers – grr), and 2 steals. Auspiciously, he only had to play 31 minutes tonight, bringing his total for the year to 64 minutes over two games. Not that it will last, but that amount of playing time would certainly leave him fresh deep into the playoffs. 

As the stats indicate, the bench is looking good, even better than last year. Picking up Farmar’s option was a no-brainer, and he’s proving it. My doubts about Trevor Ariza are ever so slowly evaporating. And if Chris Mihm can stay healthy, that’s yet another 7-footer to rotate in off the bench. 

Another promising sign is Bynum’s play. I just read about how he worked hard all summer on his mid-range jump shot, and I said to myself, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, I saw it tonight, even if it was just on his first shot of the night, when he popped up to the top of the key and comfortably nailed the open jumper. Time will tell whether or not he can consistently produce from that range, but he has given indications of being more of an offensive threat, however slightly. He still looks like he can’t quite believe he is as big as he is, but that will resolve itself soon enough. If he can settle into his role with the team and make a few strides in the post, he will be an incredible asset come playoff time. 

Some stats:

  • Clippers shooting: 30/78, 38.5%
  • Lakers shooting: 41/80, 51.3%
  • Lakers 3-point shooting: 10/19, 52.6%

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