Saturday, May 30, 2009

Time For Redemption

Congratulations to the Denver Nuggets for giving the L.A. Lakers all they could handle. But after six games the Lakers finally prevail in an almost textbook perfect game. And once again to all the fair weather fans who claim the Lakers have no heart - take this game home with you!

I've blogged on this before but I will repeat: to win an NBA championship you have to win on the road. Teams have to overcome home-court officiating which can be tough on the road. Last night the Lakers did both.

Kobe had thirty-five points and was perfect at the free throw line as all the Lakers were. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom scored twenty and Trevor Arriza had seventeen points to spread the wealth around. Now it's on to ?

Here's hoping for an Orlando victory which would give L.A. the home-court advantage. We'll know more after tonight's game in Orlando.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lakers Tough One Out In Denver

After a series of blowouts in the Rockets vs Lakers semi-final we're getting to see some dogfight Basketball now. All three games have been close and could have gone either way. After losing home-court on Thursday night the Lakers toughed on out in Denver and went and got it back.

Kobe was great tonight along with Pau Gasol, Trevor Arizza, Lamar Odom and the rest of the Lakers. After being down early in the first period the Lakers wouldn't quit. To all the sports writer who have been questioning the heart of the Lakers, it's time to shut up. They didn't stop fighting and scrapping until the final buzzer.

Thanks to a key steal by Trevor Arizza in the closing minutes and great defense by Lamar Odom on the inbound the Lakers were able to pull this one out. Kobe had forty-one points and two very clutch three pointers in the fourth period to nail it down.

Game four is on Monday in Denver. Unlike the Utah and Houston series, this one is shaping up to be everything I hoped it would be. We're seeing some very good Basketball and hard fought games.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lakers vs Rockets - Things Are Heating Up!

Game one: This was a cold shooting error filled game with the Lakers playing like they had this series already won. Someone forgot to tell the Rockets and they caught the Lakers with their pants down. Yao Ming was a problem matchup for the Lakers as I predicted and he burned them. And Andrew Bynum did get into early foul trouble once again. Ron Artest scored 21 points, Yao had 28, and Aaron Brooks scored 19 to lead Houston. Poor free throw shooting and turnovers via ball-handling mistakes probably cost the Lakers game one, along with the home court advantage.

Game two: This was a completely different story. The Lakers came out running and Yao quickly got into foul trouble trying to keep up with Pau Gasol. Lamar Odom started in place of Bynum and the Lakers jumped on the Rockets early. But...the Lakers have a bad tendency to give up leads and last night was no different. After leading in the first quarter the Lakers fell in love with the three-point shot and ended up tied at 57-57 at the half-time buzzer. The second half showed an entirely different Laker team. Not usually known for playing a physical type of game, the Lakers got rough. In times past the Lakers would tend to fold when challenged with force. This time they fought back. Derek Fisher was ejected (rightly so) for a flagrant foul on Scola and suspended for one game. Kobe (a few minutes later) put an elbow to the throat of Ron Artest while fighting for a rebound. The officials missed that one. In retaliation Ron Artest subsequently charged Kobe and gave him a verbal warning about rough play resulting in Artest being tossed. He should have been given a Technical and nothing more. Anyway, the Lakers got tough and ended up with a win.

Game three: With Jordan Farmar starting in place of Derek Fisher we got much better play last night from the Laker starters. Better free throw shooting and three-point shooting. I expected things to get dirty but surprisingly the game was a hard fought and clean game. The Rockets looked flat. Artest couldn't buy a three point shot in the first three quarters. Once again, Artest got tossed. He fouled Pau Gasol on a drive that should have just been a clean, but hard foul. At the very worst a continuation basket. The referees are obviously making an effort to take control of a series that was starting to get out of hand. The Lakers win and take back the home-court advantage. Game four is Sunday

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Damn - That Didn't Take Long!

In an earlier post I predicted that Manny Pacquiao would drop Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton in six rounds. Well WTF do I know? Hatton barely lasted two rounds.

The Pacman ended the fight with a left that had the Hitman unconscious and on the canvas for six minutes. Here's hoping that Ricky Hatton suffered no lasting damage from the devastating punch that put him on queer street.

As for Pacquiao, it's on to bigger and better things. Perhaps a match next Fall with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Maybe Floyd should re-think his un-retirement after witnessing what happened last night to Hatton. As I said in a post last year - it is Paquiao who is the PFP best fighter in boxing, not Mayweather.

Now if Floyd has the stones to step into the ring with Manny he may learn a very painful lesson about the proper time to stay retired. Oscar De La Hoya learned the hard way and so may Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lakers Vs Rockets - It's On!

This should be a very good series. The match-ups are interesting to say the least. In March the Lakers played the Rockets and Kobe and Ron Artest got into a trash talking exchange. Well after that, a pissed off Kobe torched Artest for thirty-one points in the second half. If there's one thing special about Kobe Bryant it's his competitive spirit. He can and will take over a game if need be - or if he gets angry as he did with Artest. In seasons past it was often necessary for Kobe to do so. Now that the Lakers have a great starting five and probably the deepest bench in the NBA the load can and will be spread around.

The match-up at Center should be intriguing. Who's gonna guard Yao Ming? Paul Gasol has the quickness but not the strength. If it's Andrew Bynum will he get into foul trouble as he did in the Utah series? How about Lamar Odom? Lamar has the speed AND strength but he often gets into early foul trouble too. The Lakers do have several options at Center. All three big men (Gasol, Bynum, Odom) can play Center or Power Forward, although Andrew Bynum is a true Center. It gives the Lakers a lot of versatility.

Trevor Ariza is really coming into his own as a Laker and he's been a pleasure to watch. The same can be said about Josh Powell and Jordan Farmar. They have all really matured this season and are key players. As of now Luke Walton is injured so he may not be a factor.

There will be some interesting switching in the low-post. As in the Jazz series it may come down to who makes the fewer mistakes. Passing and ball-handling are the Laker's weakness. Kobe is NOT a good ball handler. Derek Fisher should take care of pushing the ball up court as much as possible. I'm going to pick the Lakers in six. The second round for the Lakers vs Rockets begins Monday night at the Staples Center.

Home court advantage is the deal breaker in this series - unless someone wins on the road. And, as with with all NBA games, the officiating will always go in favor of the home-court team. That's the way it is is. I have blogged about this in the past. This is why home-court advantage is so crucial in the playoffs.

Final note: I watched the Bulls vs Celtics game last night and it was great. What a battle of wills. The game went into three overtimes before Jochim Noah made a great steal and got fouled for a three point play to seal the deal for Chicago. I am rooting for Boston to go all the way to the finals. They have some serious injury problems with Kevin Garnett being out but that's sports. Last year when they played the Lakers Andrew Bynum was hurt and that may have been the difference in the series. Who knows? Anyway - Go Celtics on Saturday. You have an appointment with L.A. in a couple of weeks....... I hope.

Pacman Vs Hitman - Who's Gonna Win?

I have been a big fan of Manny Pacquiao for the last five years or so and the upcoming fight should be a brawl. Ricky Hatton is a straight ahead brawler custom made for Pacquiao's style. And, Manny Pacquiao keeps getting better with each fight. Hatton is also gonna have trouble (as most fighters do) with Pacquiao being left-handed. Manny is too fast, hits too hard and won't quit. Hatton is gonna take a beating - count on it. I'll take the Pacman in seven rounds.