Phil Jackson Says Lakers Don’t Play Well in the Morning

The Lakers were surprised at home losing 109-100 Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Hornets. After the game, Lakers coach Phil Jackson explained some of the team’s problems, noting two things: one, they didn’t have the proper effort and weren’t ready for the game, and two, that the team doesn’t play well in the mornings.

Responding to a question about the Lakers having a lot of rest before their first playoff game, Jackson went off on a tangent about the start time for the game. “We haven’t really been very good in mornings, morning games” Jackson interrupted. “We have not been. We just haven’t. Our guys really haven’t been sharp all year. We really tried to get them going today a couple of hours early to the arena so they’d be ready to go. We really weren’t animated and agressive. I think Ron was probably the best player we had out there today. Ron was keyed and ready to go and played well.”

Given that Phil referenced the Lakers not being ready for the game throughout his press conference, it sure seems like the biggest problem to him was the start time. Phil’s teams don’t often lose the first game of a playoff series, so for his team not to be ready was a surprise.

The good news for the Lakers is that the next three games in the series are night time. If you’re the type of person who is leery of conspiracy theories in the NBA, keep your eye on the start times for the TBA games the Lakers have. If you start seeing late games on the weekends for them, it’s a good reason to believe the league office is listening to Jackson.

Derrick Rose Is Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Michael Jordan all in one

Derrick Rose has elevated his game this season and will likely win the regular season MVP after leading his Bulls to the best record in the league. He’s improved his outside shooting and free throw shooting while maintaining his exceptional quickness and ball distributing skills, making him one of the best point guards and players in the whole league.

There just aren’t many opposing players who can guard him, and Darren Collison, the Pacers point guard, certainly isn’t one of them. No need to tell that to Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel who can already tell you that Rose is a more perfectly engineered being than Batman’s Bane.

Speaking after his team blew a 10-point lead with just over three minutes to go on Saturday, Vogel said of Rose:

“The kid’s out of this world. He’s got Allen Iverson speed, Jason Kidd’s vision, Chauncey Billups’ shooting ability and Michael Jordan’s athleticism. How do you guard that? We did a good job on him, but he was too much.”

Rose had 39 and was 19-21 on his free throws, so he really ended up being too much for Indiana. But a combination of Iverson, Kidd, Billups, and Michael Jordan? Are you serious? That’s almost better than having the voice of Fergie and Jesus. Not quite better, but almost. And if Rose is as good as Vogel says, the Bulls should win it all like Del says and come close to Jerry Reinsdorf’s proclamation.

Lamar Odom Wanted to Quit Filming Lamar and Khloe Show After Three Days

I’ve often thought it would be tough for Lakers forward Lamar Odom to maintain focus on basketball with everything he does off the court, and it turns out I’m not the only one. During a visit on The Ellen Show this week, Lamar admitted that a few days into filming the Khloe & Lamar show he wanted out. Here’s the video as shared by the LA Times:

In case you couldn’t watch the clip, Khloe Kardashian actually didn’t want to do the show because she knew how much work it involved. Being mindful of his playing career, she didn’t want to put Lamar through the show, but he’s actually the one who wanted to film it. Lamar said he thought it was going to be easy, but three days into filming he wanted to back out of the contract.

I couldn’t tell you how the show is, but just what we suspected is the case: having your own show is pretty intense and requires a lot of time and effort.

NBA Expert Playoff Predictions by Del

Finally, it matters. Like the Doc mentioned when he posted his NBA Playoff predictions, there are a lot of question marks heading into the 2011 postseason. When the year began the general consensus was that either the Lakers would continue to dominate after returning the same roster, the Heat super team would live up to their expectations, or the Celtics would make another great run. Any of those things can still happen, but the Lakers struggled mightily at times during the regular season and the Heat have yet to prove they are a dominant force together. The Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins and will be relying on the oft-injured Shaq, who is already out Game 1 against the Knicks. Oh yeah, and in the meantime the Bulls became very, very good.

First Round
(1) Spurs vs (8) Grizzlies – Spurs in five, experience wins out easily here as it so often does in the NBA playoffs.
(2) Lakers vs (7) Hornets – Lakers in five, Lakers lost five out of seven to close the season but they have too many weapons.
(3) Mavericks vs (6) Blazers – Blazers in seven, Blazers are solid and Mavs can’t close in the playoffs until they prove otherwise.
(4) Thunder vs (5) Nuggets – Thunder in six, OKC’s young talent combined with Perkins’ postseason experience could make them dangerous.

Second Round
(1) Spurs vs (4) Thunder – Spurs in six, experience, experience, experience. Spurs have a ton, OKC has barely any.
(2) Lakers vs (6) Blazers – Lakers in five, Blazers will be spent from giving everything they have to win a series. Lakers will have coasted.

Western Conference Finals
(1) Spurs vs (2) Lakers – Lakers in seven, Even if Bynum misses time, it’s nothing L.A. isn’t used to. Kobe gets it done again.

[Read more...]

NBA Playoffs Expert Predictions by Doc

The NBA playoffs have finally begun which is a nice change from the final month of the regular season where all that was at stake was seedings. All the first round match-ups are set meaning it’s time to predict who will emerge from each conference to reach the Finals.

What’s really strange is that every team seems to have questions. The Lakers seemed like a lock to chase down the Spurs in the West, but then they lost five in a row. The Spurs are an underrated top seed because most people don’t look at them as a dangerous team. The Bulls lack experience, the Heat lack size, and the Celtics have questions at center. So who will emerge? The Doc takes a look.

First Round
(1) Spurs vs (8) Grizzlies – Spurs in 6, Memphis will challenge but lacks the weapons
(2) Lakers vs (7) Hornets – Lakers in 5, closest to being a sweep, CP3 can get em one
(3) Mavericks vs (6) Blazers – Mavs in six, popular upset pick, but not on Dirk’s watch
(4) Thunder vs (5) Nuggets – Thunder in six, Denver’s looked good, but OKC is too tough at home

Second Round
(1) Spurs vs (4) Thunder – Spurs in seven, home court will be the difference
(2) Lakers vs (3) Mavs – Lakers in six, Mavs will crap panties again, only Dirk will show

Western Conference Finals
(1) Spurs vs (2) Lakers – Lakers in six. Too much size for San Antonio

[Read more...]

John Amaechi Compares Kobe’s Gay Slur to Use of N-Word

Kobe Bryant got into a serious amount of trouble in a short amount of time after calling referee Bennie Adams a “F—ing F—–” during a Lakers game Tuesday night. He had human rights groups after him, Gay and Lesbian rights groups after him, and the NBA fined him $100,000 for his actions. Initially, Kobe stuck by his words and did not apologize, but later he owned his comments and recognized they were wrong.

Even though Kobe apologized and understood what was wrong about what he did, it didn’t stop John Amaechi from sharing his opinion. Amaechi is an openly gay former NBA player and he talked about Kobe’s outburst both with USA Today and The New York Times.

Talking to USA Today, Amaechi said “We have to take it as unacceptable as a white person screaming the N-word at a black person. … I can tell you that I’ve been called a f——- fairly routinely, and yet people seem to hold off on calling me the N-word. We’ve got to mirror that progress.”

[Read more...]

Kobe Bryant’s Inspiration Was Rudy

Even if you can’t stand Notre Dame, it’s hard not to enjoy the sports classic movie Rudy. It’s a touching story that sends a great message about heart, perseverance, and inspiration. Some people think the story was embellished to make the movie more dramatic, but there’s little doubt it’s impacted its viewers. Those viewers even include Kobe Bryant whose work ethic has frequently been lauded by the media.

Arash Markazi of ESPNLA.com had a good story on Thursday about Kobe meeting Rudy Ruettiger, the man who inspired the movie. It was a chance meeting in Sacramento as Rudy’s daughter was singing the national anthem before the Lakers-Kings game. Kobe broke from his pregame routine to speak with Ruettiger and shocked us all with what he said.

“That movie changed my life,” Kobe said. “When I saw it I told myself if I can play as hard as Rudy with the talent I have, anything’s possible. I’ve met a lot of people in my life but that one there, man, that one [messed] me up.”

I’ve always loved watching Rudy and will flip it on whenever it’s playing on TV, but I never thought a movie like that could actually inspire a real athlete to achieve a level of greatness. Now that I know what it did for Kobe, I’m going to pipe that thing on a 24-7 loop for my son in his crib. At least he’d get his work ethic part down, right?