New Year’s Resolutions

Kobe Bryant: “It’s always (good) health.”

Derek Fisher: “I try not to do (resolutions) just because anything you try starting Jan. 1, you could have been doing already. I just think we should all reflect on 2008 and what all has been accomplished. Guys should stop and think how far we have come from December of last year to December of this year. And think about how much farther ahead we want to be a year from now.”

Pau Gasol: “Hopefully, getting that (championship) ring would be wonderful.”

Phil Jackson: “No, I stay away from that. New Year’s Eve is amateur night and New Year’s resolutions are for fools.”

Lamar Odom: “Just to be consistent in everything I do in life.”

Sasha Vujacic: “The only thing I can think of in 2009 that would make me happy, health and happiness aside, is a championship. That’s no secret.”

This is probably the final post for 2008, so it’s a good time to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2009. Thanks for visiting and posting your comments. Peace.

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More praise from Golden State

Light posting since the Lakers aren’t practicing today or Tuesday and don’t play again until Friday against Utah. But I couldn’t let a few comments from the Warriors about the Lakers go without posting them. Interesting stuff from Warriors guard Jamal Crawford.

“They’re playing great,” Crawford said after the Lakers defeated Golden State by 17 points Sunday. “I’m a fan of basketball, and I’ve been watching them all season and they’re playing great. They’re playing more physical. It’s tough to say if they have an advantage over the Celtics.

“The Christmas win gives them the psychological edge that they kind of needed. Up to that point, Boston was still better than them. It’ll be a good series if they (the Lakers and Celtics) make it back (to the NBA Finals).”

Golden State coach Don Nelson had this to say: “They have the whole package and they have a chance to win the whole thing this year. … I just think that the Lakers, after a year of going to the Finals, are just ready. They know what it takes and they’re so well coached and disciplined.”

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Nellie praises Kobe

Golden State coach Don Nelson had some nice things to say about Kobe Bryant after the Lakers routed the Warriors, 130-113, on Sunday night. Bryant scored 31 points, making 9 of 15 shots and 10 of 10 free throws. He didn’t play for even a second in the fourth quarter.

“Kobe now has a grasp on the game like no other and he controls it when he wants to,” Nelson said of the league’s reigning MVP. “He makes his players alongside of him succeed and he’s a real leader out there. I mean he has the whole package going for him. He’s not just the best player in the league, but probably the best leader, the way he leads these guys and directs them and lets them succeed. He could get 50 (points) any time he wanted, I am sure.”

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Halftime: Lakers 65, Warriors 58

Can’t anybody here play defense? The Lakers weren’t very successful at stopping the Golden State Warriors in the first half. The Warriors were even less successful at halting the Lakers, who built a 15-point lead in the second quarter. Kobe Bryant had 21 points and Sasha Vujacic added 11 for the Lakers. Marco Belinelli led Golden State with 14. Andris Biedrins had 15 rebounds for the Warriors. Ex-Laker Ronny Turiaf did not score.

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Mihm wants to stay

Chris Mihm said he has no interest in playing more minutes for a losing team. He wants to stick with the Lakers and have a chance to win the NBA title that eluded him and his teammates in last June’s bitter loss to the Boston Celtics. He said he heard of the report out of Milwaukee that he could be traded for Bucks guard Tyronn Lue.

“I’m happy here,” Mihm said before the Lakers played host to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night. “I’ve been through a lot in the last five years (with the Lakers), and I feel like we’re on the track to something special here. It’s something I want to be a part of. I’m nine years in (the league); I want to win a title.

“This team has come a long way in the five years I’ve been here. This is something I’ve worked for my whole career. I know the role I have to play here, and right now it’s being a veteran presence on this team, helping the other guys out.”

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Lakers to discuss back-up point guard situation this weekend

Derek Fisher says he can keep playing extended minutes for as long as the team needs him to. Sasha Vujacic says he loves playing point guard, even though his role on the team is as a shooter.

Right now, that’s how the Lakers have been coping with the knee injury to backup Jordan Farmar that’s expected to keep him out for up to eight weeks.

Over the weekend though, general manager Mitch Kupchak said that the Lakers’ brain trust will “reconvene” preliminary discussions on whether they need to bring in additional help.

“I can’t put a percentage on it,” Kupchak said. “But I don’t think we’re looking for a practice player. If we’re going to sign someone, it has to be a player we feel we can put in the game. If we can’t find that player, we should probably do nothing.”

With Farmar out, the Lakers have two players with the ability to facilitate the triangle offense: Lamar Odom and Vujacic. They also have rookie Sun Yue, but he’s made exactly one official appearance in an NBA regular season game and is considered a long-range project.

Kupchak declined to comment on which players the Lakers would look at, if they were to decide to add another point guard, but it’s a fair assumption that familiarity with the Lakers’ system would be a plus for any candidate.

Kupchak added that the team is mostly concerned by losing Farmar at the defensive end of the court.

“I think from an offensive point of view, we have players that can facilitate the offense,” he said. “From a defensive perspective, we have to look at it and say, `Can we adequately defend the small guards in this league with only one small guard on our roster in Derek Fisher?’ ”

The Lakers currently have 14 players on the roster, meaning they have one available roster spot. Would they want to commit that to a point guard for the rest of the season with Farmar due back around the All Star break in mid-February?

Teams can sign players to 10-day contracts beginning Jan. 5, but Kupchak said that date has no relevance to the discussion because the team could also sign a player to a non-guaranteed contract at any point.

Of course, if the current situation works out well, with Fisher playing longer minutes, Vujacic and/or Odom handling the rest of the ball-handling duties, and Trevor Ariza stepping in to defend some of the quicker point guards in the league as he did Tuesday night in New Orleans against Chris Paul, the Lakers could just end up standing pat and waiting for Farmar to return.

“The more you play, you may get comfortable with the players you have,” Kupchak admitted.

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Lakers 92, Boston 83

It never did feel even a little like Christmas.

Nor did it change anything that happened last June.

But for a few hours Thursday afternoon, the anguish the Lakers and their fans had been left to gnaw on for six long months was finally vanquished as they beat the Boston Celtics 92-83 in round one of the much-hyped rematch of last years’ NBA Finals in front of a raucous sellout crowd at the Staples Center.

How much weight or measure can be taken from the events of Thursday’s game probably won’t be clear for a while, if ever.

How much satisfaction the home team took home with it Thursday night after snapping the Celtics franchise-record 19-game winning streak was easier to surmise.

“It’s a great gift,” Laker guard Kobe Bryant said. “It makes the day that much more enjoyable to go home and spend with your family.

“But we’re 24-5 That’s it. (The Celtics streak) is neither here nor there. We want to get it done in June.”

As much as Bryant and other team leaders tried to downplay the importance of Thursday’s Christmas Day game, it was clear early on that this was no ordinary regular season game.

At tipoff, nearly every seat inside the arena was filled. Even those held by the fashionably-late set who generally tend to linger in Staples Centers’ swanky lounges deep into the first half.

Chants of “Boston Sucks” rang out midway through the first quarter, young children held up homemade signs saying proclaiming their hatred for the Celtics (27-3).

And the arena nearly erupted in cheer when Sasha Vujacic converted a three-point play following a frenetic series of loose-ball tips and saves by Kobe Bryant and Trevor Ariza with 9 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

On the court, the emotion was just as high. Elbows flew, players dove into the sidelines for stray balls, voices were raised and jaws clenched.

“You know what, it did have a little spice to it,” Ariza said. “It was a fun game to play. I wouldn’t say it felt like June, but it felt like a big game.”
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Lakers 100, Hornets 87

NEW ORLEANS, La. — And just like that, the Lakers got their groove back.

After beginning this four-game road trip with two sour, discordant notes in losses to the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, then righting themselves statistically, but not artistically in Monday’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers turned in their most impressive performance in several weeks Tuesday night, beating the New Orleans Hornets 100-87 at New Orleans Arena.

“I liked the way we came out of this road trip,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “I didn’t like the way we started it.”

All of which means Thursday’s long-anticipated Christmas Day showdown against the Boston Celtics can proceed, as hyped, without any cautionary notes.

“It’s big that we got a little bit of a rhythm back to get ready for the showdown against them (Boston),” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “They are playing phenomenal basketball right now. It’ll be fun to match up with a team like that.”

How much does the outcome of Thursday’s game matter, though?

“The only stock we put in it is to see where we stand, right at this moment,” Bryant said. “It’s like a balance sheet. …The Finals is the ultimate revenge.”
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