Not exactly the greatest showing by Vladimir Radmanovic or Tim Thomas in Tuesday night’s game. The two forwards combined to go 3 for 13 and 1 for 6 from 3-point range. If there’s one thing they share in common, it’s being able to shoot the ball.
Radmanovic opted to sign with the Lakers instead of returning to the Clippers back in July. The Clippers responded by signing Thomas away from Phoenix and making it known that they got better even in losing Radmanovic. Both forwards signed contracts starting with the $5.2 million midlevel exception.
There was a sequence in the fourth quarter where Thomas was called for an offensive foul at one end. Radmanovic then tried to drive on Thomas at the other end and tossed up a wild left-handed shot that missed. Thomas came back and missed a jumper. Ugly, ugly, ugly.
Radmanovic also wore a headband for the first time this season. You could barely see it, though, under his mess of hair. He missed all five shots he took and finished with one point, five rebounds, three assists and a block in 17 minutes.
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Smush Parker had a season-high 15 points and said after the game: “It’s funny that I come out a little slow the first couple games – – and people write me up like I can’t play. But I just go out and play hard every night. The first 10 games I just forgot to have fun. And tonight I just went out and had fun.”
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Tough time for Sasha Vujacic to go into a deep slump. There’s a special airing this week on FSN West about his life before he came to the Lakers. If you watch it, you learn that Vujacic earned the nickname “The Giant Killer” on his Italian team for how he rose to the occasion whenever big-name teams came to town.
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Three things you won’t see very often that happened in Tuesday’s Lakers-Clippers game:
No. 1: Kwame Brown grabbing a rebound in the fourth quarter and passing the ball to Parker to bring upcourt. The problem was, Parker had lost his headband on the play and stopped to pick it up. He had to dribble with his left hand across midcourt to avoid an eight-second violation with the headband in his right hand.
No. 2: Parker getting whistled for a technical foul in the third quarter while Kobe Bryant was at the line shooting a pair of free throws. Bryant made the first one but had to wait to take the second while Sam Cassell went to the other end for the technical free throw. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said after the game he didn’t know what Parker did to draw the technical.
No. 3: Brown somehow volleying a tip-in over the rim entirely. Brown missed several tip-ins Tuesday but still managed to total 10 points and 14 rebounds. He also shot a 14-foot free throw in the third quarter. Even if Brown were to average the 15 points and 10 rebounds the Lakers set forth as a goal this season, nobody said it would be pretty.
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By Ross Siler
If it seemed like the Lakers kept bumping into a glass ceiling as they tried to climb above .500 last season, maybe thats because thats exactly what was happening.
The first five times last season the Lakers had a chance to win and pull five games away from the .500 mark all turned out the same. The Lakers lost each of them, part of the reason they found themselves with a 34-34 record in mid-March.
They finally broke through on their sixth try, beating Houston on April 2 to improve to 40-35. It came as the Lakers won 11 of their last 14 games to make the playoffs as the Western Conferences No. 7 seed.
That was what made Tuesdays 105-101 victory over the Clippers so significant. The Lakers improved to 8-3, perched atop the Pacific Division, and won their fourth consecutive game.
“Its important for us to continue this momentum, Kobe Bryant said. Its so early in the season. The key for us, with the system that we operate out of, is to continue to get better.’
With Bryant missing all preseason recovering from knee surgery, the Lakers fast start has been a surprise to some degree. They have started 19-year-old Andrew Bynum at center and already played him nearly as many minutes as his entire rookie season.
Center Kwame Brown is only four games back from a shoulder injury and forward Vladimir Radmanovic, the Lakers main free-agent acquisition, has been limited by a hand injury and went 0 for 5 Tuesday against his old team.
They are winning despite averaging 18.7 turnovers per game, second-most in the league, and shooting 71.6 percent from the foul line.
What the Lakers have done is find a way to win the close games that eluded them last season. They were tied in the fourth quarter of each of their last three victories. That has enabled them to take advantage of a schedule loaded with home games.
“It says a lot about our team when we can win with half the guys not knowing the offense,” Brown said. “Sometimes we dont share the ball as much as we should and the coaches like, but we still find a way to win. Once we put it all together and guys learn the offense, we should be a pretty good team.
The Lakers also know that Bryant will be a different player come December or January as he plays his way back from surgery.
“He didnt really have that practice time to get back, forward Luke Walton said. “Hes been using games to get back into it because he missed the whole preseason. I think as the season goes on and the more he plays, hes just going to get stronger and stronger.
Within a couple weeks, hell be back to full strength.
Firing away: Lakers coach Phil Jackson was not happy with the 3-pointers his team launched at the start of the fourth quarter. Sasha Vujacic, Maurice Evans and Lamar Odom combined to miss four 3-pointers and the Clippers scored 11 straight points.
“Instead of looking for penetration, Jackson said, “and doing things that were inside the philosophy of our offense, the guys were just looking for killers, looking to pound that ball in there and get a lucky shot.
Slumping: Vujacic went 0 for 4 and missed three 3-pointers Tuesday. The third-year guard has made just 5 of 25 shots this season and 2 of 14 3-pointers after a strong showing in the preseason.