Forget about first team to 100 wins. The first team to shoot 40 percent might win this game. The Lakers played into the Hornets’ hands by hoisting the first shot they saw instead of working the ball into a better position. Settling for long-range jumpers is not their game. The Hornets seemed perfectly content to chuck it from distance, however. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 16 points in the first half. The Lakers shot 35.6 percent and the Hornets shot 37. David West and James Posey had eight apiece for New Orleans.
Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, who died Friday from complications from diabetes, was something of an icon in Salt Lake City. He owned a number car dealerships in town, including one that’s next door to the Jazz’s practice facility. Derek Fisher played for the Jazz for one season and recalled that Miller was as much a part of Utah as the Jazz.
“It was just always refreshing to know that he cared so much about the success of the team and that it wasn’t just a business,” Fisher said tonight.”It wasn’t just a piece of the portfolio. It wasn’t just about dollars and cents with him. It was about trying to provide the best team and the best product for the Jazz fans.”
OAKLAND — The Lakers’ grit was in evidence during their 129-121 victory tonight over the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors’ ran and ran and ran and ran, pushing the Lakers to the brink before fading down the stretch. Kobe Bryant had 30 points to lead the Lakers, Pau Gasol added 24 points and 13 rebounds and Lamar Odom had 22 points.
Bryant on a variety of subjects: “We kept our poise tonight. Pau Gasol is an All-Star. He is tough down low. It’s always fun coming up here (to Oakland), especially because the Warriors are always going to play hard. Monta Ellis is phenomenal. He is one of my favorite players in the league to watch.”
Coach Phil Jackson on a lack of rebounding: “Well, they (the Warriors) shot 60 percent in the first half and 7-for-9 from the 3-point line. When that happens, there aren’t too many rebounds that are available.”
Jackson on Trevor Ariza, who made two key 3-pointers down the stretch: “He would have hesitated on them (last season). I think he would have taken them, but it wouldn’t have been a natural thing to swing into it. He’s playing with much more confidence.”
The Lakers’ decision to trade backup center Chris Mihm today to the Memphis Grizzlies invited more questions than it answered. First and foremost, does this mean GM Mitch Kupchak will make another move before the league’s trade deadline Thursday at noon? With starting center Andrew Bynum out until at least April, the Lakers are suddenly short on 7-footers. What’s more, who will serve as Pau Gasol’s backup with Bynum sidelined and Mihm in Memphis? The short answer is Josh Powell, a burly backup forward/center.
The play of the night –besides that college kid who made the half court shot — had to be Shannon Brown’s high-flying blocked shot in the fourth quarter that got his teammates up off the bench and was still the talk of the locker room an hour later.
That wasn’t the first time Brown has done something like that though. Check out this footage:
The Lakers’ 96-83 victory over the Atlanta Hawks was just what they hoped for in their first game after the All-Star break. At least that seemed to be the consensus in the locker room after tonight’s game. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol had big games for the Lakers, who left immediately after the game for tonight’s contest against Golden State in Oakland.
Here’s a sampling of the postgame chatter:
Kobe Bryant on the Lakers’ effort: “I was very happy with the effort. I felt like the guys, with the time off, did something good because they came back with a lot of energy and had a high motor, so it was good.”
Bryant on Odom, who had 15 points and a season-high 20 rebounds: “He’s found his niche.”
Odom on the team’s play after the break: “It’s the way we want to start it, with a win, playing the right way, playing good basketball, playing defense.”
Coach Phil Jackson on the Lakers’ sluggish start: “We were pretty rusty in the first half. I thought a lot of indecisive things happened in the first quarter. The young guys (Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar et al) came in and bailed us out at the end of that first quarter and got us going and got us to play a little more intense.”
The Lakers pounded the Atlanta Hawks into submission, 96-83, tonight, but the big story at Staples Center was that somebody actually hit the halfcourt shot between the third and fourth quarters. Robert Ward, a Mission Viejo native who is a senior at USC, won $165,000 when he became the first winner in the three-year history of The Mirage Big Shot Jackpot Contest.
The Lakers led the Atlanta Hawks, 45-36, at halftime tonight. Nothing wrong with a nine-point lead at intermission, but the Lakers seemed to be playing down to the level of their competition, which is never a good thing.
The Hawks shot poorly (37.8 percent), and so did the Lakers (40 percent). The Hawks threw the ball away (10 turnovers), and so did the Lakers (nine turnovers). The Lakers hammered the Hawks on the boards, 32-23, which was a positive sign.
Lamar Odom had 11 rebounds, his fourth straight game with 10 or more. Kobe Bryant had only four points in the first half. Mike Bibby led Atlanta with nine points.
Couple of updates before the Lakers take on the Atlanta Hawks tonight:
Andrew Bynum shot baskets during the morning shootaround, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the 7-foot center probably won’t start an exercise program until March. Bynum has been sidelined since tearing the MCL in his right knee Jan. 31. He probably will be out until April. … Sasha Vujacic said his sprained left ankle is sound again after he took a Mexican vacation over the All-Star break. … Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown were on the Lakers’ active roster for the first time together since they were acquired from the Charlotte Bobcats for Vladimir Radmanovic on Feb. 7.