Power forward/center Pau Gasol earned Western Conference player of the week honors after averaging 24.8 points on 68.5 percent shooting, 11.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists in four games. The Lakers won all four, part of a six-game winning streak. Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics was named the Eastern Conference player of the week.
In case you missed it, here’s some of what Lakers coach Phil Jackson had to say immediately after Sunday’s 99-92 victory over the Washington Wizards: “It was an awful second half. There was no intensity. We didn’t play right. We didn’t play with a full functioning group of guys. Kobe (Bryant) took one shot in the second half, and that was it. … It just says something about our lack of intensity.”
Here was Jackson today, declining to back off in the least: “I really wasn’t happy with the attitude of some of our featured players, Kobe, Pau (Gasol) and Lamar (Odom), out there with those guys (the second unit) and not really contributing the way I’d like to see them contribute.”
Is he right to criticize the Lakers so harshly? Or is he overdoing it?
Pau Gasol scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Kobe Bryant added 24 points to lead the Lakers past the Washington Wizards tonight at Staples Center and extend their winning streak to six consecutive games. The Lakers hardly missed a beat in the first game since Andrew Bynum suffered a strained left Achilles tendon. Ron Artest added 16 points and Shannon Brown scored 13 in a reserve role. Lamar Odom, who was moved into the starting lineup to replace Bynum, scored only four points but had 13 rebounds. Next: the Lakers begin a five-game trip Wednesday at San Antonio.
Playing for the first time since center Andrew Bynum suffered a strained left Achilles tendon, the Lakers picked apart the Washington Wizards in the first half tonight. Or, more to the point, Kobe Bryant picked apart the Wizards. He scored 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting, which would be a pretty good game for some players. He scored 20 on 8-for-11 shooting in the second quarter. He still has the second half to play, although with the lopsided score it’s not clear how much he will play. Pau Gasol added 14 points and six rebounds, moving from power forward to center in place of Bynum. The Lakers shot 23 for 40 in the first half (57.5 percent).
Kobe Bryant scored 22 points and added 13 assists to lead the Lakers over the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight at Staples Center. The Lakers have won five consecutive games and have a 10-game streak against the Timberwolves. Lamar Odom added 18 points in a reserve role, Pau Gasol had 17 points and a team-leading 14 rebounds. Jordan Farmar scored 12 points and Ron Artest had 10. Andrew Bynum scored 11 before he suffered a strained left Achilles tendon in the third quarter and could not return to the game.
Here’s what Bynum said as he walked from the arena with his foot in a walking boot: “I was running back on (defense). It was just really sharp and really quick. It was one or two seconds and then it calmed down. I didn’t do anything. I was just running this time. I’m calm right now. It doesn’t hurt real bad.”
Andrew Bynum suffered a strained left Achilles tendon in the third quarter of tonight’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was not expected to return to the game, which the Lakers led almost from start to finish. He will be re-evaluated Saturday. Bynum suffered significant injuries to each of his knees in the last two seasons. He had made it through 2009-10 without hurting his knees. He had scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds before he left the game. The Lakers led the Timberwolves, 78-68, after three quarters.
Kobe Bryant had almost as many assists (nine) as points (11) in the first half tonight. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol also scored 11 points as the Lakers led most of the way over the Timberwolves. Kevin Love, a former UCLA standout, scored 12 points in a reserve role to lead Minnesota. This was Kurt Rambis’ second trip back to Staples Center to face the Lakers, the team for which he played and coached. The Lakers and Timberwolves play for the third and final time this season next month in Minneapolis. The Lakers need a victory tonight plus a win by the Boston Celtics over the Houston Rockets in order to clinch a playoff berth. The Celtics beat the Rockets, 94-87.
There were a couple of health notes before tonight’s game against Minnesota.
First, Pau Gasol said he was “good to go” after missing practice because of a case of tonsillitis Thursday. Gasol said he came down with inflamed tonsils after the Lakers’ victory Tuesday over the Kings in Sacramento.
Second, Luke Walton said he participated in a 4-on-4 scrimmage recently, but there is no timetable for his return to a full practice. He has been limited to 24 games this season because of a pinched nerve in his back.
Third, Ron Artest (sprained left thumb) asked out of an attempt at the world record for the most consecutive free throws by two people in one minute. Instead, Shannon Brown will join Lamar Odom in the attempt at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Fan Jam at the Convention Center.
Interesting item unearthed by Larry Altman, the Daily Breeze’s superb cops reporter. …
“Lakers forward Pau Gasol sought help from Redondo Beach police today when he became concerned about two men following him, officers said. The men turned out to be Spanish paparazzi trying to get a photograph of the star basketball player with his girlfriend. Gasol is dating a cheerleader who, like him, is from Spain.
“Gasol, who lives in Redondo Beach, told officers he saw the men following him before he got into his car. They tailed him with such tenacity that he was unsure if he was being stalked or if they were photographers, Redondo Beach police Sgt. Phil Keenan said.
“Gasol called a friend in law enforcement who advised him to pull into the back of the Redondo Beach police station. Gasol stopped at the station shortly after 1 p.m. and described the car to officers. Officers spotted the black sedan and pulled it over on Diamond Street near Catalina Avenue, just west of the police station. The occupants turned out to be credentialed paparazzi with a Spanish news agency and were allowed to leave, Keenan said. Police escorted Gasol home.
“In a brief interview, the men said they were paparazzi with a Spanish news agency. They declined to identify themselves or their agency. ‘Maybe he thought we were something else,’ the older of the pair said. ‘Maybe he thought we were kidnappers.’
“The girlfriend, Silvia Lopez Castro, has been linked to Gasol since last summer and reportedly lives with him.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson has tinkered with his backup guard rotation since Sasha Vujacic returned from an eight-game absence because of a sprained right shoulder. Vujacic hasn’t played major minutes in the four games since he returned to the active roster, but he has cut into Jordan Farmar’s minutes. Vujacic played 12 minutes Tuesday against Sacramento, six minutes against Golden State, 13 minutes against Phoenix and three minutes against Toronto. Farmar played nine minutes, nine minutes, three minutes and 15 minutes in the same four games. Overall, Vujacic is averaging eight minutes this season and Farmar is averaging 18 minutes.
“I’m trying to get Sasha back in game shape for us, so there is a minute situation that’s going on right now,” Jackson explained. “(Farmar) has to live with it. It’s what the team is all about, getting the team ready for the playoffs and trying to win games in the process. I know there are personal feelings and sometimes they have to be sublimated.”
Is Jackson doing the right thing here?