Another blatant jack from a Chelsea blog. Enjoy the good looks.
Posted by hiphopmama on April 27, 2009
Another blatant jack from a Chelsea blog. Enjoy the good looks.
Posted by hiphopmama on April 27, 2009
Utah 96, LA Lakers 107
Lakers win series 4-1
Now it’s official. It was essentially a foregone conclusion, but now that it’s happened we can move on. The Lakers are in the second round and prepping to face Houston, in all likelihood, en route to the ultimate goal. The Jazz were a heck of an eight seed, much better than anything outside of the top three or four in the East, but they were never going to match up with us or take more than a game. The one loss was disappointing, as much because we couldn’t close out a winnable game, but it’s to be expected that you’ll let one go here and there. And anyway, we don’t want to have too many days off in between games and get stale waiting for that next match-up.
The first quarter was a fairly stagnant affair, but we pulled in front in the second, mounting a nice run to close the quarter and take a 13-point lead into halftime. Kobe epitomized the team’s effort when he rescued a loose ball/quasi-turnover as the clock wound down and scored it on a ridiculous fall-away in the lane. The third was just one big surge, and we put together another quarter-ending run to take the air out of the Utah sails once and for all. Well, not quite, because they managed to come back from 21 down to within 7 with 4:40 left, and then 6 with 3:30 left. The Jazz went on a 16-2 run to put themselves in prime position, but once Sloan re-inserted his starters (read: Deron Williams), the Jazz lost their momentum, we tightened our defense, and our rebounding and fast break game saved us. We always gotta make it interesting. The important thing is that they got the job done and didn’t let it get any close than that, proving that they could close out a series at the first opportunity.
It was a great team effort tonight. Kobe was brilliant again, if slightly less dominant only because the rest of the guys stepped their game up. Our MVP had 31 points on 10-for-21 plus 4 assists and 4 steals. He was all over the court in this one, giving everything he had to make sure it ended here. Odom had a fantastic game as well, providing some great energy and shooting amazingly well (10-of-15) for his 26 points, 15 boards, 4 assists, and 3 blocks. Pau was good, not great, by his standards, adding 17 and 11 to the overall effort. No one on the bench was particularly enthralling, but the subs performed competently enough. Poor Bynum only made it to 12 minutes and 2 points. Let’s hope he can rest up and get rid of some of that soreness before the next series, because if it is Houston, we’ll need that extra big body down there to defend Yao. Have you seen that guy lately? He’s a monster.
Posted by hiphopmama on April 25, 2009
LA Lakers 108, Utah 94
Lakers lead series 3-1
Now THAT was more like it. That was the game we all knew we could play but were scared to hope for too much. You know what I’m talking about. Defensive effort for long stretches of time. Controlling the glass with solid box-outs and all-out effort. Smooth flowing offense and good transition defense. And maybe, now and then, a jaw-dropping game from Mr. Bryant.
Kobe came out determined to wipe out the memory of 5-for-24, and he started his mission 17 seconds in with a jumper at the top of the key. Drilled it. A minute later and he’s back at it, just inside three-point line. Swish. 40 seconds later, another. And so on and so on, till he had gone 6-for-8 in the first quarter and gotten us off to a decent start.
To be honest, our start wasn’t particularly impressive as we were outscored 25-20 in the first, but we found our rhythm in the second with some big shots from the bench. First Luke makes a three from the corner. Then Sasha drills one straight out. And finally Shannon Brown drains one to give us a two-point lead that we never looked back from. When Kobe came back in from his customary early-quarter rest, he took the game back over with a couple free throws and two long-distance jumpers, one for three, sending us into the locker room up seven, 60-53.
The third quarter was us entirely. Both teams traded shots for the first ten or so possessions, neither side missing a shot, until…well, until nothing, really. After a fast-paced start to the half, with Kobe owning the Jazz again to the tune of four straight deep J’s, things sort of slowed down, to our benefit. The Jazz started having to grind it out and our defense stepped up, so that, with a free throw here and a lay-up there, we were able to work the lead up to double-digits. From 11 to 14 and finally to 19 to close the third, it was a steady upward climb.
The fourth quarter was more of the same. Shannon got us out of the blocks nicely with some good hustle play as part of Phil’s new favorite back-court: Brown, Vujacic, and Kobe. They were out there with some combination of Walton, Odom, and Gasol at various times, and it worked well for us. It’s a very atypical thing for Jackson to do, but credit to him for switching it up when necessary. Utah did eventually string a few points together to get it down to around 15, thanks to some lax play from us, and I was encouraged to see Phil call a time-out to convey his unhappiness with the casualness. We ended up with a 14-point win and a convincing victory in an arena where we’ve had our problems.
This win was just what the doctor ordered after having our faces slapped in game three. Utah basically said to us, “Yeah, you’re the best team, but you still have to beat us.” We weren’t up to the challenge on Thursday, but we most definitely were tonight and I don’t see us looking back after this performance. I’ve already used the word multiple times, but I was so encouraged to see us play like this in response to a tough loss on the road. This bounce-back is what the playoffs are about, at least for the victors, so it was – yes – encouraging for our team to step up so thoroughly.
Oh, and that Kobe guy? He’s pretty darn good. He went all Michael on the Jazz tonight, and it was all they could do to wave a hand at him now and then. Not to say they didn’t play some serious defense on him. He just had better offense, every single time. I can’t even count how many contested jumpers he drained with a hand or two in his face, falling away, out of rhythm, after two or three ball fakes. That kind of skill should be blasphemy. It’s just completely unfair. Gosh it’s nice to have him on our team. =)
So what’s the word tonight, Josh? “Pwned”? That gets my vote.
Posted by hiphopmama on April 23, 2009
LA Lakers 86, Utah 88
Lakers lead series 2-1
Fighting for their season, Utah finally came up with the goods on their home floor, holding off the Lakers in thrilling fashion. And that was a tough loss. I know I complained about our poor third quarters in the first two games, but I’ll take a good performance in quarters one, two, and four with a shitty third over one solitary good quarter coming out of halftime. Because that’s what we saw tonight, when the Lakers trailed throughout the first half before coming out like gangbusters in the third and jumping in front of Utah by as many as 13. Then, of course, we let the lead evaporate, as we always do, and this time we couldn’t hang on in the end. The two teams went back and forth in the final minutes, but Utah came up with the bigger plays, capped by Williams’ game-winning bucket with 2.2 seconds remaining. Kobe went for the win from an absurd distance when he probably had time to get a tad bit closer, but you know Kobe. He always thinks he can hit any and every shot, especially when the game is on the line, so he pulled up as soon as he got the ball and missed badly, setting everyone up for an intense battle in game four on Saturday.
The sole reason for Utah’s improved play tonight was Carlos Boozer. I think he’s a douchebag, to be quite honest, but he is one heck of a player when he decides to show up. And show up he did in this one, snatching 22 rebounds to go with his 23 points, including a monster in-your-face jam to put Utah up two in the waning seconds. The Lakers did a better job of shutting down Deron Williams, which I suppose is comforting, but we let the rest of the team get off instead. Just like other teams strategizing to contain Kobe, I think we’d be better off letting D-Will get his 30 as long as we hold guys like Korver, Harpring, and to a limited extent Boozer in check. One solitary player can be dangerous – no one knows that better than us – but I’d still take our odds against that one guy than against a full team of players who have gotten their shots working over the course of a full game of target practice. Hopefully we could still keep Williams from going nuts, but under no circumstances should their undersized front line have that big of a game against us again.
On the Laker side, the offense was shit. Kobe had a god-awful game (5-for-24 for 18 points, and even that is generous), Pau looked positively human shooting 8-for-15 in pursuit of his 20 points, and we shot 36.8% as a whole. It reminded me over and over of that loss to Denver a little while back, when, despite the opposition playing a good game, we still had every chance to win it but couldn’t get our offense in gear. The same was true here. Hats off to Utah – they executed their offense much better at home and slugged it out with us down the stretch – but even at full tilt we had chances to take this one. Hell, if we could have just played them even in the fourth we would have walked out with an 8-point victory and a 3-0 advantage in the series. Instead, our offense never got off its fat ass as Kobe tried to shoot himself out of his slump and consequently hurt any rhythm we ever thought about getting. You can’t fault him too much, because more often than not he finds a way to come up with that big shot, but it didn’t happen tonight and it hurt the team’s momentum as well.
So now we face the prospect of a contentious game four in a building where the Jazz feel supremely confident, more so now that they will be coming off a gritty win over the best the West has to offer. This could go two ways. It could energize Utah, convince them of their ability to hang with us, and boost them to another victory. Or it could be a nice slap in the face to our often complacent team, a much needed reminder that NBA teams – and playoff teams in particular – will beat you if you don’t bring your A-game and effort, in which case the Lakers rediscover their spark and whip the Jazz into submission. I tend to favor some version of the latter option, both in terms of what I want and in terms of what I predict. I still say this one will finish up in LA in game six. We’ll know about that soon enough.
Oh, and for the record, Utah fans are classless assholes. How the fuck do you boo a man who took an over $6 million pay decrease to live in a city where his infant daughter could receive treatment for fucking EYE CANCER?! What part of “retinoblastoma” don’t you idiots understand? I get it – you hate the Lakers. We’re damn good, so everybody does. But Fish didn’t just up and decide he’d ditch Utah and resign with LA out of nowhere. Your podunk-ass state couldn’t provide the kind of medical care his daughter needed, so he had to explore other options. He put his FAMILY FIRST, in a move Utah natives supposedly understand and respect, and sacrificed a significant portion of his income to get her the help she needed. So sorry it meant he ended up with a Lakers team that you will continue to lose to, but that’s life. Get over it. And a big FUCK YOU to any of the stupid cunts who booed him, or any of their apologists. Derek Fisher >>>>> you on his worst day.
Here’s the final minute or so of the game, in case you were on another planet and happened to miss it.
Oh, and one more thing. Am I the only one who sees Andrew Bynum sulking out there? Yeah, he’s coming back from an awful injury, but he gets pissy and whiney every time something doesn’t go his way. Sometimes I could swear he was TRYING to pick up his final two fouls as if to make some kind of point. I can forgive his being a step or two slow and getting in foul trouble that way, and Phil should find a way to work the rotation so he can play significant minutes at a time, regardless of the foul situation, but the woe-is-me stuff can go. Just my two cents.
Posted by hiphopmama on April 21, 2009
Utah 109, LA Lakers 119
Lakers lead series 2-0
What’s new? We can’t keep quick guards out of the lane and we can’t hold a lead. Oh, and we rarely lose. I guess I’ll take those first two as long as they come with the third. We came out strong again tonight, building up another big lead in the first half and squandering it due to sloppy play in the third quarter. We had a strong finish to the third to set us up for the fourth quarter up double-figures, but that disintegrated after a while too and we found ourselves up just three points with three minutes remaining. An Odom lay-up and Kobe pull-up put it into the cooler, if not the refrigerator, but Ariza’s three with 33 seconds to go put the game on ice and shipped it back to Utah for game 3.
What was so disappointing here was that the boneheadedness was distributed throughout the team so evenly, even creeping into the play of bona fide clutch-masters like Kobe. Up just 5 points with 1:42 to play, Kobe throws a ridiculous full-court pass off a steal that gets intercepted but thankfully only leads to a Utah shot clock violation. Pau missed a pair of free throws late that would have left the ending much less in doubt. The whole team played lackadaisical basketball throughout the third and fourth quarters, seemingly drinking the Kool-Aid and believing their own hype. Deron Williams was a fucking beast again, and he refused to let his team go quietly into the night, firing away for 35 points and 6 three-pointers. His 9 assists outweighed his 7 turnovers, but the TOs hurt him in the end as they squashed any chance of a Utah comeback.
This is the kind of game we’ve seen the Lakers play all year, and we attribute it to regular season malaise. “They’re just too good for the competition,” we say. “Wait for the postseason. They’ll get it together then, when there’s something to play for.” To which I say: bull…shit. There is no proverbial switch. You build and lose momentum incrementally, and you cannot simply turn it around because you feel like it. That means that you MUST play the entire game like every possession – both offensive and defensive – is crucial. No more of this taking quarters off business, especially the third. It’s inexcusable. We’re not THAT good, for pete’s sake. No one is.
Still, at the end of the day, we head back to Utah up two games to none and looking, realistically, for a split in the two games in Salt Lake City. We don’t have the most pristine record facing the Jazz away, so I don’t foresee a sweep, but one win out of two seems like a reasonable prediction. Then, if we don’t make too big a mess of it, we should be poised to close things out on our own home court in five games to give us ample rest time before the second round. Looking too far ahead, you say? Nah, never that. Just reading the writing on the wall, as even Jerry Sloan seems to have done. We’re still the best team in basketball, albeit by a slim margin (kudos to Mike Brown and Cleveland), but we’re going to have to play like it to claim that title officially, and tonight was not the best indication of our potential. Phil should yell/scream/meditate/WHATEVER some sense into them after that game and remind them that the better teams WILL make them pay for those kinds of lapses. Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me twice……can’t- can’t get fooled again.
Posted by hiphopmama on April 20, 2009
Utah 100, LA Lakers 113
Lakers lead series 1-0
That went pretty much according to plan. We got a fairly comfortable double-digit victory on our home floor against the lowest ranked playoff opposition in the Western Conference. It’s nothing to get over-excited about, but it definitely puts us on the right path.
I won’t do much game summary, since everyone in the world was able to watch this one, but suffice it to say that, once we got ourselves on the scoreboard after a few tries, we never looked back. We allowed the Jazz to put up a big third quarter against us when we came out of the break looking complacent, as if we thought we had already won the game, but we played them even after that and the 22-point halftime margin saw us through to a game one victory. The statistical breakdown is encouraging as well. Only Kobe hit the 40-minute mark, which is to be expected from him in the postseason – I swear the guy is a cyborg – and Pau barely got to 37 before picking up his sixth personal and fouling out for the first time all season. The most comforting aspect of the game was how much production we got outside of those two. Trevor Ariza led us in scoring most of the way, until Kobe decided to let loose and seal it for us, and his 21 points came on a clutch 8-for-10 shooting performance. Lamar chipped in a solid 13 as well, and Luke got himself on the board as well with 5. And what can you say about Shannon (not Chris, Jeff) Brown? 3-for-4 from the field, all threes, for 9 points, plus 3 assists and a couple boards on top of his all-around hustle play. Can I start this man’s fan club?
Because it was such a straightforward game, it might be tempting to dismiss this Jazz team – as, I’ll admit, I have essentially done – but there were a few points from this match-up that are worth keeping an eye on. For one, we foul this team way too much. How often do opposing teams shoot more free throws than us? Okay, I honestly have no idea, but I’d have to guess we generally win in that category. Today, however, we continued the trend we started in the final regular season game by putting Utah on the line seemingly every possession. They shot 35 damn free throws to our 32. That’s not a huge margin or anything, but it’s still too many to be giving up to a team that relies so heavily on the pick and roll and has no true big man. Where exactly are all these fouls coming from? Granted, Deron Williams will draw a handful or two on his own, but why do we need to foul Ronnie Brewer EVER? All the fouls were part of a slightly troubling lack of composure for a few moments, which resulted in technical fouls for both Kobe and Lamar and threatened to halt our momentum. Harpring is an irritating little bastard, but he’s got nothing to really threaten us with besides his wayward forearms so just let him slide. In a similar vein, our 17 turnovers weren’t particularly pleasant either, especially since almost all of Utah’s offense came off of our missteps. If we can clean it up just a tad, we won’t have another problem in this series, or any other for that matter. Realistically, however, we will have a one-game slip-up somewhere along the way, almost certainly in Utah, and that will snap us back into focus. Let’s hope it comes at a not too painful time.
One final raised glass here to Kobe, who controlled the game throughout without having to dominate possession or take all the shots. He looked to set up his teammates from the beginning, getting them going before seeking out his own shot, and it paid big dividends in the form of multiple teammates getting and staying in rhythm. Trevor’s offensive explosion – and career playoff-high numbers – can be largely attributed to Kobe setting the table for him early on. Same goes for Shannon’s threes. He was a maestro out there today in orchestrating the whole team, and he was still able to step up and knock down bunches of baskets when we needed him to. Best player in the world till Lebron takes it from him via a title. I’m still waiting.
Posted by hiphopmama on April 14, 2009
Utah 112, LA Lakers 125
And now the fun begins. It was a very good season – an exceptional one, had LeBron and the Cavs not spoiled the party – but you can put it all in the rearview at this point. The real season starts Sunday, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel – at Staples against this eight-seed Jazz team.
Aside from a good opening quarter from Utah, this one went pretty much according to plan. We worked our numerous advantages to progressively grind down the Jazz, who eventually called it a night and sat their big guns midway through the fourth quarter. Deron Williams was explosive as always, but the rest of the team looked out of their league against our guys. It was the perfect way to finish the season: playing our prospective first-round opponents, whipping them by double-digits, getting some good minutes from the subs, and resting our starters.
I gotta admit, I feel how I imagine the players must feel – done with this regular season business and itching to get the real season started. I don’t really have it in me to go in-depth on this game that doesn’t mean much, aside from its psychological value in putting the Jazz in their place. I mean, kudos to them for making the playoffs in a tough Western Conference, but when you go 33-8 at home and 15-26 on the road you’re gonna put yourself in a tough position come playoff time. That feat has earned them the honor of facing us in the first round, and if tonight is any indication, I don’t foresee too many bumps in the road for us. It will be a challenge, to be sure, as postseason match-ups always are, but Utah doesn’t present any real personnel problems, aside from the obvious D-Will issue. Aside from him, they just don’t have much to trouble us. They certainly don’t have the size to match up with our front line, especially now that Bynum is back, and no one on their team is equipped to handle the versatility of Odom or poise of Kobe. This one should be done in five.
And now, because it has gotten late early on me, I’m going to call it a night and get some much-needed sleep. If my daughter lets me, of course. I need my beauty rest so I can be prepared for the big playoff push and there with our boys every step of the way. The last two years of the three-peat were nice, but this season has just about matched them for sheer entertainment value, and this blog has been a big part of that. I’ve never gone as in-depth in my viewership or analysis of the team, and it has made it that much more fun. I will never again be able to live without the NBA League Pass. Thanks again, Mom, for the perfect Christmas present.
Posted by hiphopmama on February 11, 2009
LA Lakers 109, Utah 113
And so it was exactly as predicted. The Lakers finally succumbed to the grueling schedule of the last two weeks and saw their seven game winning streak come to an end in Utah. It was a tough break to roll in there at the end of this stretch of games, because it always takes every ounce of energy you have to beat a Sloan team and we just didn’t have enough left in the tank tonight. Kobe’s 37 couldn’t even stave off the loss, although he did his level best to propel us into the All-Star break on 8-0.
I’m sort of cheating on this one, because I’ve only watched until halfway through the third quarter, but I have to go to bed and needed to know the result. It was disappointing but expected, and I won’t lose any sleep over it. I thought our redemption might come through the fact that the Jazz were beating us, through most of the first half, from perimeter jumpers – lots of threes from the guards and outside shots from Okur in particular (have I mentioned our Achilles heel before?). I kept saying to myself, “They can’t keep shooting this well.” But they did. Utah finished the game shooting 58.6%, which means an epic fail on our part. They are a good, well-coached team, but 60%? I don’t think so. We were obviously gassed, but if we could have knuckled down for just a couple extra possessions we could have gotten the job done. It’s not really our character, though, and when you’re tired you generally revert to square one, which for us means zero defense. It cost us tonight, but I don’t suspect it will carry much further than the occasional loss at the end of a road trip. C’est la vie.
I only have two more things to say:
For what it’s worth, here are the first half highlights. It was all I could find…
Posted by hiphopmama on January 2, 2009
Utah 100, LA Lakers 113
After the first few possessions, I could feel that this would be a good effort from our boys. It wasn’t the easy offensive production or overall team play. It was the crispness of the defense. Kobe and Bynum both got early blocks, and the Lakers forced the Jazz into a number of mid-range jumpers that clearly were not what they were looking for. That, along with a cruising game from Kobe, got the Lakers off to a fantastic start, finishing the first quarter up 17.
They gave up a bit of a run to close the half and went into the locker room up by (just?) 14. It sounds like a sizable lead, but against Sloan and the Jazz, you know it’s going to take more to get the win. And sure enough, Utah went on a quick run to start the third and cut the lead to just three before the Lakers re-found their focus and closed the quarter on a 14-2 run. The Jazz never got that close again, although they did whittle it down to four late in the fourth, but the Lakers handled all their surges calmly and closed the game in fine fashion, thanks largely to some re-diculous play by Trevor Ariza. With two and a half minutes left and a six point lead, the Lakers tracked back on defense with Ariza picking up CJ Miles at the top of the key. Miles moved to cross the ball over, but Ariza was too quick and tapped the ball away, sparking a fast break that resulted in a three point play for Trevor. On the next offensive possession, he snuck in and grabbed a rebound and put it back to extend the lead further. He wasn’t finished, though, as he closed out the game with yet another defensive hustle play and a dunk to cap his effort, which included 5 assists on the night.
Plenty of other Lakers had great games too. Kobe had an almost effortless 40 points in 38 minutes, bringing his two-game production to an absurdly efficient 71 points in 70 minutes. He didn’t take many bad shots and played some solid defense against Deron Williams, who was held to 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting. Pau Gasol was a sparkplug tonight as well, becoming just the fourth European player to come straight to the NBA and score 10,000 points. He had another complete game with 21, 11, and 6. The highlight of the night was Pau leading the break at the end of the game, reverse-dribbling between his legs, faking the pass to the right, and finally no-looking it over to Ariza on the left for the dunk. It was a little unnecessary at that point in the game, but it was nice to see Pau loose and having fun out there. A little personality never hurt anybody.
This makes four good games in a row for the Lakers. It’s not that there haven’t been issues in that stretch – there most definitely have – but they haven’t let themselves be tripped up by them for extended periods of time and have finally decided that defense may be worth their time again. It was encouraging to see them hold their own against Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, and Deron Williams, players who I fully expected to rip us to shreds. While I wouldn’t mind seeing them keep that monstrous lead for the full 48, it was understandable that they would wane a little bit over the course of the game and let the dedicated Utah team back in. Props to them for buckling down when they needed to and never letting them all the way back (because within three doesn’t count, right?).
Now the pace really starts to pick up. They are embarking upon a run of 14 games in 26 days, including a number of match-ups with stiff Western Conference opposition. After knocking off Utah, they will face Portland on Sunday followed by New Orleans Tuesday. I tend to believe that the quicker pace of games will help them find their rhythm, but after seeing them run rampant tonight following a five-day hiatus, I’m not so sure. In any case, they have plenty of chances to cement their place at the top of the Western Conference and keep pace with the two biggies back east. As they say, the real test is how you’re playing in April, and if they keep building on this kind of effort, they will be right where they want to be.
No highlights yet, but check out the Pau School of Dribbling: