It wasn’t as loud as the ovation they gave Kobe in pregame introductions, but the Staples Center crowd just erupted when video of Chicago’s Game 4 victory over the Miami Heat was shown on the JumboTron. Chicago just completed a sweep of the defending NBA champs. You know, the team Shaq plays for.
OK. We’re just a few minutes from tip-off here in Game 4. Everyone is still kind of waking up, as they usually are for 12:30 Sunday afternoon games. I saw a lot of the guys for both teams out on the court early, shooting around and trying to get it going.
Luke Walton spent a lot of time shooting before the game. He didn’t seem to be bothered at all by the dislocated pinky he suffered at practice the other day.
Sasha Vujacic looked particularly sharp. Some guys just have a way of snapping the net on every shot with crisp rotation. When Sasha hits a shot, it’s like it rips through the net. Still, because of his defense, I’m not sure how much Sasha will be on the court today.
No surprises in the starting lineups. Jordan Farmar is starting again, even though Shammond Williams and Smush were key to the Lakers second-half defensive effort. It’ll be interesting to see how the playing time breaks down between those three today.
Vladamir Radmanovic is again inactive.
Kobe, Lamar and Phil Jackson talked today, so you’ll be able to read that in its entirety below. Lamar Odom, who hyperextended his elbow in Game 3, and Luke Walton, who dislocated his right pinky finger in practice Saturday, seem ready to play Sunday but now there’s an issue with Brian Cook. Cook sprained his left thumb in Game 3 and is considered questionable for Game 4. If he can’t go, Vladimir Radmanovic will rejoin the active roster. The way Phil was talking, it seems like he might try to find a spot for Radmanovic regardless.
Here’s the latest round of Q&A with the Lakers. The news today is about injuries and, really, when isn’t it? Lamar Odom hyperextended his left elbow in Game 3 but is considered probable for Sunday. It probably won’t be issue but remember, Odom is left-handed. Also, Luke Walton dislocated his right pinky finger in practice. He taped it up and kept shooting, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
The team had the right attitude today. They were pleased with the victory but they know there’s still a ton of work to be done, especially since the Suns will adjust to the things the Lakers did in Game 3.
The view from the other locker room:
“I thought they played harder than we did. That’s really the bottom line. They played harder than we did and I don’t think we stick to our game plan like we did so well in the first two games.
“We were a step slow. We weren’t in the right spots. And they were so good at it the first two games. I know we played with a lot of energy, but I thought our concentration in the first two games was good too.
“They were a desperate team. They played with a lot of desperation and we didn’t trea it the same way. That was one team wanting to win more than the other one did.
“i thought we made it pretty clear that we didn’t think we had it in the bag — its a series.”
Thought you guys might be interested in what Kobe Bryant had to say after Thursday’s Game 3 victory over the Suns.
“We made a lot of mistakes offesnively still, but when you have that hustle, when you play really hard particularly on the defensive end, you still give yourself a chance to win.
“They (Phoenix) have an explosive team and they jumped on us early. Going back to the time out, I just told the guys it’s not a big deal. Since they’re and explosive team, they’re going to do thsi everyone in a while. The key is for us to just get our boundaries set and the great thing about it is that we still have 45 minutes to get back in the game.
“There’s nthing that you could do besides that but just play harder. When you’re in this position, down 2-0, you can put your tail between your legs and run or fight. I made a statement earlier in the week that this game would be a good indicator to see how many fighters we have on this team. And to a man, everybody stepped up and responded to the challenge.
On Kwame’s performance:
“Like Willis Reed. It was fortunate for us, it was his good ankle. … he came back in a he played well. From the geginning of the game throughout, he played extremely well. He didn’t get discouraged when he didn’t finish plays inside. He just continued to be aggressive adn continued to attack. That’s what we need him to do at both ends of the floor.