Sunday, May 30, 2010
As Los Angeles prepares to host rival Boston for Game 1 on Thursday, the endless chatter about LeBron James will switch momentarily to just which team will walk away with their second trophy in three years.
There's the Lakers and their home-court advantage.
There's how much Andrew Bynum can contribute. Bynum, who missed the entire 2008 playoff run due to a freak knee injury. Bynum, who has another freak knee injury limiting his playing time right now.
There's Ron Artest, who will replace Vladimir Radmanovic from two years ago as the starting small-forward. Artest, who has turned heads with his incredible Game 6 performance against the Suns. Artest, who was added to be the lock-down defender the Lakers lacked.
There's the absence of James Posey, Sam Cassell, and Eddie House; Chris Mihm, Ronny Turiaf, and Trevor Ariza. There's the additions of Nate Robinson and Shannon Brown.
There's the increasingly declining Kevin Garnett, the rapidly rising Rajon Rondo, the slow-but-still-lethally-clutch Derek Fisher, and the always-energized Kobe Bryant, who walks into this series ready to crush all memories of his embarrassing 2008 Game 6.
There's still a series to be played. A series the Lakers know will be very similar, but very different from what they experienced two years past. They know the scene has changed. Now they just need to change the ending.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Saturday, October 24, 2009
National Football League
Somehow, I think I'll manage.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Ron Artest: The controversial small-forward has received a warm reception, but he has big shoes to fill in Trevor Ariza. He also needs to know he is at best the third best player behind Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. No funny stuff, no crazy antics, just plain basketball.
Andrew Bynum's Knee: In an effort to compensate for his right knee which was injured last season, the young center has opted to wear a brace on both knees. His regular season play was outstanding; his postseason play was far from it. He enters this season as he did last year: having to prove his worth.
Lamar Odom: Odom's tempermental play was thrown aside when he returned after his stunning playoff push. He will still most likely work off the bench, but now that it's a role he is acquainted with, his on-again-off-again play might be a thing of the past. Might be.
The Bench: The bench received some added depth when Shannon Brown was resigned. After abysmal seasons, both Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic have to return to their former glory. Luke Walton needs to remain consistent, and Josh Powell needs to take a few lessons from Odom on how to be versitile. We saw a glimpse of Powell's potential when he sank a 3-pointer in the Finals. He needs to capitalize on that.
Phil Jackson: The NBA's winningest coach was in limbo this year. His health remains an issue, his right-hand man left for Minnesota, and he will be tasked with keeping Artest in check. There has never been such a strange combination for Jackson in his career as a coach. The way he handles the new frontieres he must face will set the tone for the rest of the team.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sound familiar? It should. This is the diatribe the media has been harping since the playoff matchups were set. FOX Sports ranks the Dodgers seventh of the eight teams in the playoffs, even behind the Colorado Rockies, the club they have beaten 14 of 18 times this season. Everyone says the rotation is in shambles. The bullpen is ignored for its incredible consistency (Tim Kurkjian of ESPN calls the Yankee ‘pen the best, citing how the relievers’ 40 wins is the most for a team in history). The offense is basically nonexistent, and that’s only based on the five-game losing streak. The media has never shown Los Angeles any love, going back to 1988 when the Dodgers were the team that couldn’t but did. As Tommy Lasorda said:
Nobody thought we could win the division! Nobody thought we could beat the mighty Mets! Nobody thought we could beat the team who won 104 games, but we believed it!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The Dodgers started where they left off on Saturday, scoring four runs in the first inning. A.J. Ellis had the first hit of his career, and it also led to his first RBI. Doug Mientkiewicz had three hits in his first start of the season, Casey Blake drove in two runs, and Orlando Hudson hit a double. Chin-Lung Hu was 2-for-4 and doubled as well.
Playoffs begin on Wednesday against St. Louis at 6:37 PST. Randy Wolf will get the ball to start Game 1, and Chris Carpenter will go for the Red Birds.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
It took a while, but the Dodgers finally did it! The Boys in Blue hung a crooked five in the seventh inning and defeated Colorado 5-0 to clinch the NL West crown. It was a long and harrowing journey, from Pittsburgh to San Diego to Los Angeles, but the Dodgers found a way to win, and to win big. Clayton Kershaw threw well enough to get the win, striking out ten while shutting down the Rockies over six innings. The bullpen of Hong-Chih Kuo, George Sherrill, and Jonathan Broxton threw a combined three perfect innings of relief, and the rest is history.
Things looked bleak going into the seventh inning. The offense was as stagnant as it had been all year. But Jorge De La Rosa, who threw three perfect innings to start the game, was removed after feeling tightness in his groin while pitching to Rafael Furcal in the fourth. Jose Contreras pitched three shutout innings of relief, but was shaky, giving up four hits and a walk.
In the seventh, Casey Blake opened with a single and took second on an error by Carlos Gonzalez in center. James Loney sacrificed him to second, and Ronnie Belliard, in his first at-bat since last Saturday, hit an infield single to plate Blake. Russell Martin worked a walk, and Mark Loretta hit a pinch-hit double to drive in Castro who pinch-ran for Belliard, his most important AB as a Dodger. With Furcal walked intentionally, and Juan Pierre hit a bloop single to score the third run of the inning. Matt Kemp hit an RBI-sacrifice fly, and Manny Ramirez broke a long 0fer stretch with an RBI single. By the time the third out was recorded, the Dodgers plated five runs.
Not UCLA's prettiest game. Kevin Craft was 22-for-34 in pass attempts as the Bruins fell in their Pac-10 opener against the Cardinal. The ground game was terrible, with UCLA collecting only 98 yards while the defense allowed 176 rushing yards. The third-down conversion rate was also starkly different, as the Bruins were 2-for-7 while Stanford was 7-for-13.
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press