In Case You Forgot: Chris Bosh Is An All-Star

The reaction to Chris Bosh‘s spectacular game four performance against the Celtics was one of utter disbelief. Folks were shocked that Bosh was able to come up with a big time game in such an important game. While I myself was a bit surprised that Bosh was able to prevent Kevin Garnett from [...]

Pau Giveth And Pau Taketh Away

The Los Angeles Lakers have made the NBA Finals for three straight years since they acquired Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. On Sunday afternoon, that streak will come to an end. If it’s not Sunday, then Tuesday. If the Lakers can force a game six, then that streak will end next Thursday. No [...]

On The Importance Of Understanding One’s Role

The Dallas Mavericks are headed back home with a surprising 2-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Lakers. Though the Lakers looked like the better team in game one only to collapse in the third quarter Dallas looked far superior to the Lakers in game two and at this point you can find just [...]

Lay-Up Line: Featuring A Pair Of Streaks

The Los Angeles Lakers are riding an eight-game winning streak as they head into their match-up against the Miami Heat tonight. The two teams are going in completely opposite directions right now as the Lakers have regained championship form since the All-Star Break while the Miami Heat are facing a five-game skid with several [...]

Kobe, Lakers Pick Apart The Celtics

The Los Angeles Lakers, at some point, needed to take one of these games – those against the league’s other elite teams – to make a statement to the rest of the league. They needed to take a stand, if only for a night, just they could stop hearing about their supposed demise. The same rumblings were around last season and when the Lakers had had enough of it, they went out and sent a message. In a similar situation tonight, the Lakers went out and convincingly handled the Celtics for a half en route to a 92-86 victory over their most bitter rivals.

The Celtics started off the game with the momentum, with their fans jacked up about the possibility of Ray Allen breaking the NBA record for three-pointers made. Allen’s first three attempt was errant, but the fans were still up, going crazy in anticipation. Allen ended up tying and breaking the record in the first quarter, which may have been the worst thing for the Celtics. They had a 15-point lead in the first half, but because Allen had already broken the record – and because Allen had to sit out a good chunk of the game because of foul trouble – the Garden crowd never got into in the second half.

Allen hit a few mid-range jumpers in the first half as well, as Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and even Von Wafer helped to grow the Celtics lead. But once the second half begin, the Lakers took control of the ball game. Entering the third period down five thanks to a spurt at the end of the first half, the Lakers scored the first 10 points of the quarter thanks a three from Derek Fisher, a pair of nice finishes from Kobe Bryant and a Pau Gasol mid-range two. The Celtics would cut the lead to four to start the fourth period but the Laker reserves would keep them at bay – a Lamar Odom three, a Shannon Brown tip-in and a few nice plays from Steve Blake on both ends would help the Lakers maintain their cushion.

Phil Jackson may have went with his reserve unit a bit too long in the fourth, as Kobe and Pau sat until the five minute mark in the period. By then, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce had already returned, with Allen hitting a triple and Pierce getting to the bucket to cut the lead to three. But when Kobe checked in, the game was all but over. Bryant channeled Mamba mode for the first time all season and flat out dominated Boston down the stretch.

He started things off with a 19-foot turnaround over Ray Allen, then he swished a 20-footer coming off a curl, then he took the ball to the basket for an easy deuce, then he drove baseline, drew the double team and gave Pau Gasol a beautiful pass for an easy two, and he finished things off with an isolation destruction of Ray Allen, taking him the half-court line to the free throw stripe, with Allen guessing every which way before Kobe pulled up and knocked down the jumper to seal the deal.

More on the game after the break…

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Carmelo, Lakers Not A Match

Just days after I floated the idea of the Lakers trading Andrew Bynum to the Denver Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony in my column about the Lakers’ trade possibilities, a Bynum-Melo rumor was actually reported by ESPN. The report states that the Nuggets and Lakers have had initial conversations regarding a swap that would revolve around Carmelo and Bynum but that no deal has been put into place at this moment. For all of those of you that think this deal would be beneficial for the Lakers, lets set things straight: Carmelo Anthony would be a horrible fit for the Lakers.

First, lets take a look at what I said in my column about Bynum:

This scenario is the least likely of all of these, but its the one that most casual fans are calling for. Carmelo Anthony has been linked to a number of teams this season and with the Lakers’ fans in panic mode and their GM talking about trades, it seems logical to throw out a “Carmelo to the Lakers” idea. This deal could be a simple two-for-two swap, star for star and bad contract for bad contract. Carmelo and Al Harrington for Bynum and Artest. The Nuggets get themselves a new player to center their franchise around and create on of the best big men duo’s in the league in Bynum and Nene.

This doesn’t make quite as much sense for the Lakers, though. Carmelo is a high volume scorer that needs 20 shots to score 25 points on most nights, which makes him similar to Kobe in a way. That’s not what the Lakers need. They don’t need another volume scorer that gets his points by doing the same things (mostly mid-range jumpers). Iguodala is a great fit because he would be willing to change his role to defensive stopper, transition highlight reel and occasional spot-up shooter. Anthony would likely only create problems for the Lakers, who are being criticized already for relying on Bryant isolations too often instead of triangle-based offensive sets. Thus, adding Anthony, who has been involved in 393 isolation plays this season, the second most in the league (behind Amare and in front of Kobe), would be a bad fit for the Lakers offense.

While Melo to the Lakers is a big story and though Lala might enjoy her new digs in Los Angeles, this trade doesn’t make sense for the Lakers, and the Nuggets may be able to get a little more than just Bynum elsewhere.

Digging in deeper to the numbers, Carmelo Anthony takes the most mid-range jumpers per game in the league (6.5 per contest) than any other player in the league, which means he is taking the worst shots possible more frequently than anyone else. Anthony takes almost all of those shots off the dribble, which is another problem. For a player like Dirk Nowizki, taking 6.1 16-23 foot shots per game isn’t a problem not only because he’s the best mid-range shooter perhaps ever, but also because 80% of his makes come off of an assist. Only 40% of Anthony’s long two point jumpers are the result of a pass, making his shot selection even more questionable.

More on why Carmelo would be a bad fit for the Lakers after the break…

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Can The Lakers Pull Off A Blockbuster For Bynum?

Last season, around this time, there were rumblings that the Los Angeles Lakers were attempting to deal for Chris Bosh. The key to the deal would be center Andrew Bynum had any trade gone through but after a week or two of speculation (but no actual evidence from the Lakers that they were interested in Bosh), the rumors died and Bosh ended up going to Miami in the off-season. While there was never any confirmation that the Lakers were willing to deal Bynum in a deal for Bosh from the team, it was widely believed that he was on the market.

With the Lakers going through a bit of a rough patch right now (which isn’t saying much, for the defending champs in February, but still), trade rumors are starting to come up again. General Manager Mitch Kupchak mentioned last week that if he felt a trade needed to be made, that he would pull the trigger and ESPN’s Marc Stein reported today that Lakers’ forward Ron Artest is actually rooting to be traded by the defending world champions.

Clearly, Artest is not someone that teams will be calling the Lakers about, rather, if Los Angeles is going to deal him, they will be the ones having to sell Artest’s potential contributions across the league. But if Kupchak is serious about making an in-season deal with more than just a financial impact (like the Sasha Vujacic-Joe Smith swap), he does have one piece that every team in the league should be at least somewhat interested in.

If Andrew Bynum was on a team that wasn’t loaded like the Lakers and if he had avoided injuries to this point in his career, there’s no doubt in my mind that we are talking about Bynum as one of the best if not the best center in the league along with Dwight Howard. Offensively, he’s extremely talented with a bevy of moves in the post and the strength of an ox that allows him to back down almost any post defender that has the tall order of guarding his backside. On defense, we have seen just how valuable Bynum can be this season as the Lakers have been a much better defensive team when Drew is guarding the weakside.

Despite the lengthy list of injuries Bynum has suffered at such a young age, he is still just 23 years old, and as the top big man on a team with good role players and a star on the wing, he can be one of the most effective players in the entire league. Thus, almost any ballclub that isn’t already in the title chase would do well to acquire such a promising young big man.

Hit the jump to see the players I think the Lakers should target in a deal involving Bynum…

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The Lakers Signing of LO Keeps the Drive for Five Alive

Lamar Odom has ended the biggest media circus of the NBA Off-Season by agreeing to a 4-year, $33 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, with the fourth year being a team option and $27 million being guaranteed. Odom was being pursued by the Miami Heat for a good time but when the Portland [...]

NBA Free Agency Starts Soon: Who is Available?

NBA free agency kicks off at midnight eastern time tonight and it is time to look at who will be available on the market when the clock hits 12.

We will start out on a somber note. The most talked about would-be free agent over the past few weeks has been Carlos Boozer, [...]

Do the Lakers Pay to Keep Lamar Odom or Trevor Ariza?

If there is any trouble in paradise this off-season, it is the possible departure of star forwards Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza. Due to disastrous contracts for Sasha Vujacic ($5 million) and Adam Morrison ($5.3 million), the Lakers may only be able to keep one of them.

Odom brings something very special to the [...]