Lakers Gameday | 12/25/09 | Cavs
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Fans throw foam on court in Lakers' loss to Cavs
By GREG BEACHAM
Posted Dec 25 2009 8:29PM
LOS ANGELES(AP) After the Cleveland Cavaliers made the defending NBA champions look ordinary, the Los Angeles Lakers' fans threw up their foam hands in frustration.
Mo Williams scored 28 points, LeBron James added 26 and the Cavaliers beat Los Angeles 102-87 Friday in a game that ended with angry Lakers fans throwing dozens of giveaway foam hands onto the court.
Shaquille O'Neal had 11 points in his latest Los Angeles return with the Cavaliers, who dominated the Lakers with sharp shooting and physical defense, prompting several technical fouls and retaliation hits in a one-sided matchup of title contenders.
The Lakers' crowd lost its holiday spirit with 4:04 left when Lamar Odom's ejection and another T on the Lakers' infuriated bench prompted many fans to throw their pregame presents onto the court. After another foul with 3:45 left, several more foam hands were thrown along with a full water bottle, which skittered between players without hitting anyone.
Kobe Bryant scored 35 points for the Lakers, who had won 16 of 17 before Cleveland's decisive victory behind Williams, James and the Cavs' impressive interior play, which negated the Lakers' usual advantages down low.
After Odom got his second technical foul in an altercation with Williams, the Lakers' bench drew a T - apparently on purpose - for delay of game by failing to produce a substitute in a timely manner. When referee Dan Crawford whistled that T, the Staples Center crowd let its hands fly.
The foam hands weren't the usual No. 1 finger normally found at sports events, but a representation of two puppet hands making the ``LA'' sign in a connection to Nike's advertising campaign featuring puppets of James and Bryant.
But with Williams leading the way in his third straight impressive road game, the Cavs forced Bryant and the Lakers into their least impressive performance in six weeks. The loss dropped the Lakers (23-5) back into a tie with Boston atop the overall NBA standings.
If this was an NBA finals preview of the matchup that many expected to materialize last summer before Orlando crashed the party, the Lakers should be wary. Cleveland's big men - O'Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao - allowed them to neutralize 7-foot starters Andrew Bynum, who managed just four points, and Pau Gasol, who had 11.
Meanwhile, the Cavs are tough to guard when James' teammates hit their outside shots with Williams' accuracy. James wasn't omnipresent, but played well enough to force Ron Artest to foul out with 5:01 to play.
The Cavaliers also made certain nobody will forget about them in the Eastern Conference race, where Boston and Orlando have dominated the discussion leading up to the Celtics' win over the Magic earlier Friday.
Cleveland never trailed and streaked to a 20-point lead in the second quarter during a run that included little help from James, sitting out while Williams sparked the Cavs. James had just two points and four assists in the quarter, which he ended with a half-court shot just after the buzzer.
Los Angeles got within six points in the third before Cleveland roared away again.
Williams is on a three-game streak with at least 24 points in each of the Cavs' victories, nailing his outside shot while outrunning Derek Fisher and the Lakers' defense. He even bounced up after Bryant sent him to the floor in pain with a collision in the third quarter.
There's no particular rivalry between these two franchises, or between James and Bryant, the Olympic teammates and top two vote-getters in All-Star balloting. Yet the high-profile matchup intrigued both players, with James flying his family to the West Coast for Christmas festivities.
O'Neal's returns to Los Angeles, where he teamed with Bryant to win three titles in Staples Center's first three seasons, no longer include the obligatory questions about whether Kobe could finally win a title without Shaq, who got boos and cheers during pregame introductions.
NOTES: Cleveland had beaten the Lakers five straight times before losing both matchups last season. ... It was Los Angeles' 19th home game already this season. After a two-game road trip, the Lakers will pass the midway point of their entire home schedule with games against Golden State and Sacramento next week. ... Fans included Sylvester Stallone, Anna Kournikova, Danny DeVito, Snoop Dogg, Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine, game show host Alex Trebek and baseball's Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Robinson.
Copyright 2009 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson on today’s game:
“That was not a very nice way to spend Christmas Day to tell you the truth, but I have to give them the credit. They came out here and played really well. Even though we came back in the game for a second in the third quarter, they pushed us right back into double-digit deficit. I have to chew on this game for a while before I tell you guys what I feel about it.”
On Lakers struggling bench:
“I like to see them be aggressive, but I didn’t think they were aggressive enough out there. They needed to come out there and play with the type of energy we take. So yes, we didn’t get much out of our bench today.”
On Shaq’s presence and defense on the court:
“He definitely had a presence in the game. I do know that he was a factor on Kobe. Shaq knocked him over a few times without even a call. Whether he went straight up or right into Kobe, that’s the referee’s job to make that determination. But he was definitely a presence out there.”
On fan’s reaction to today’s game:
“I have never seen a Los Angeles crowd act like this before. Liked their enthusiasm, but I didn’t like their demonstrative act. It was not a well refereed game and it was not a well played game and so as a response the crowd was unhappy about it.”
On trying to overcome the Cav’s run:
“We tried to call time outs to stop the game a little bit. Unlike my philosophy where I like to let them work it out, but I tried to call a timeout in the second quarter where they had a run and they just had another run right after I called the time out. I was not going to “bail” them out again with another timeout. I just felt like we didn’t respond and we needed the game to help us respond. We responded at the end of the half. But those are little issues that teams have to recover from and the ones we had today we did not do a very good job reacting competitively. I do not think we competed and we were just searching for players who felt like they could compete. Competing is a nebulous term when you talk about it in those terms. It’s about being able to play aggressively in the territory you feel comfortable with and we never got into a defensive stance where we felt we could compete well, except for that four-five minute stretch in the second quarter. Offensively they kept us off balance with a lot of the things they did and we didn’t string together scores…that was a big part of it too.”
Lakers’ player Kobe Bryant on today’s game:
“They played harder than we did. It’s as simple as that.”
On the poor shooting by the Lakers today:
“It’s going to happen. We attacked the rim, just didn’t get the benefit of the doubt today, half of those misses were from that, but it goes that way sometimes.”
On whether the Cav’s had anything to prove today:
“Probably. They came out and just worked us. It’s a good wake-up call for us.”
Lakers’ player Pau Gasol on the expectation that this would be a more competitive game:
“We were expecting to win the game, not just compete. We didn’t come out right and weren’t ready to play. So they played harder, better and they took the game.”
On having a more balanced scoring effort when the Lakers win:
“Everybody has to be conscious of what we have to do out there to have a balanced game. That’s how you’re supposed to do it; you can’t expect it to happen... We can’t cruise and expect things to come our way just because we have such high quality of players.”
Lakers’ player Andrew Bynum on today’s game:
“We were just protecting home court, like we’re supposed to, and we just didn’t do that today.”
On playing on Christmas Day:
“It’s cool, especially because the whole nation has an opportunity to look at us. Unfortunately, we came up short today but it was great.”
Lakers' Derek Fisher on playing Christmas Day:
"1 think there is more pressure out there to showcase for the fans. The match-ups, I don't think the individual teams, think of it as this big preview of what is to come. The fact they are quality teams with personalities that the fans enjoy seeing. There is a big focus on basketball that day and I think that is really what it is all about."
Cavs Coach Mike Brown’s thoughts on the game:
“I thought our guys did a nice job. I thought the one thing that you like about the way we played, I thought they focused defensively. We want to try to get better at trying to be a physical defensive team without fouling. In the first half, there was a big foul discrepancy in terms of 12 to 3, so we wanted to try to come out in the second half and still have the same physical mind-set but hopefully not send them to the free-throw line as much as we did in the first half. It was a good team performance and a lot of good individual performances. I thought that Mo was very good for us throughout the course of the game. He hit some big buckets when we needed them. I thought that off the bench Z and Andy were very good on the glass. I thought Delonte came in and did a nice job defensively. He changed the tempo a little bit on that end of the floor. And then Jamario was great. To have the length that we have with A.P. and Jamario and then moving Delonte to the 1, and obviously the two big guys with Z and Shaq, it was a positive for us. We won’t use that combination much this year, but we had it in our pocket. It worked out okay for us tonight and it worked out for us in the past when we used it down in Orlando and a couple other places. But first to get a win in this building with 19 turnovers and giving up 19 points off of those turnovers and 25 second-chance points, it was a credit to my group in the locker room. They did a nice job of just being resilient tonight no matter what the atmosphere was.”
On playing the Lakers:
“I’ve said this before, I truly believe, I’m not just saying this, this team can get better. This game is not a statement game or anything like that. It was the first game between the two of us. It was a regular season game. But it was good because you play these games so you can see maybe what you might need to do if you face teams like that in the playoff or something like that. So it was a great game for us to get a feel and it was a great game for them to get a feel. We said that we needed to add some size to this group and that’s what we did. Tonight it worked, another night it may not work, I don’t know but we do feel good about the size and we got it.”
On his team’s defense tonight:
“It was the best defensive game, especially with the amount of turnovers we had and the amount of second-chance shoots and second-chance points they scored. From our stand-point, I thought we did a decent job, a pretty god job, defending throughout the shot-clock in the half-court. That’s why I got to give my guys credit. I do like the way we were a physical defensive team.”
On the margin of victory:
“We had some trouble in the past with having a double-digit lead and kind of giving it up. But I thought our guys were focused tonight throughout the course of the game. They just kept trying to pound it away, tried to keep it simple, never got too high, never got too low. And that’s the thing that you have to have against going the teams like the Lakers, especially on the road. I felt that our guys were good. LeBron, I thought his focus was great. Never got too high, never got too low and we fed off it as a staff and as a team. It was a positive in that area tonight.”
Cavaliers LeBron James on the significance of the win for his team:
“It wasn’t about sending a message to them. It was sending a message to ourselves and seeing how we match up with the best team in the NBA at this point. It was a good road win for us. We played well. It’s a good win.”
On how his team’s defensive performance tonight stacks up to the rest of their performances this season:
“I think it ranks up there just because the caliber of team and the caliber of players that they have and on the road. I think you could definitely rank this up there as one of the best ones we’ve had this year. But that’s just us. Defensively, we fly around. We help each other. Everyone did a wonderful job of communicating, trusting the system and just being aggressive.”
On having Shaq, Jamario and Mo:
“It’s great. First of all, Mo made some big plays. He was great from the field, made threes… Jamario’s length and defensively his athleticism helped us a lot, especially on Kobe… And then Shaq, the fact that he puts their bigs in foul trouble, that helps us a lot.”
Cavaliers Shaquille O’Neal on his defense down low:
“All year, we’ve been wanting to protect each other. Just didn’t want to give up any easy layups or any dunks. A lot of times that put me in foul trouble, but I just wanted to have the ‘no layups, no dunks’ concept.”
On whether he was surprised with how well his team played:
“I’m not surprised. We know that we can match up well with anybody. I felt yesterday that it was going to be a good test for us. The Lakers are the best team in the league and they have won it before.”
On his team stepping up:
“Most of the games we have lost we have beat ourselves. Today we came out, we stepped up to the challenge.”
Lakers vs. Cavs Game Preview
Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher scarcely remember how to celebrate Christmas without a high-profile game smack in the middle of their holiday season. That's life with the Los Angeles Lakers - and that goes for the Lakers' families, too.
``With the amount of gifts my kids receive, they could care less if I'm there or not,'' Fisher said with a laugh Thursday after the Lakers' light afternoon practice for their showdown with LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
``Santa Claus will do his job,'' the veteran point guard added. ``I've found that it's weird to think about not working on Christmas. A lot of guys realize it's special to be on that stage, while people are home with their eggnog relaxing.''
Bryant is similarly excited about facing James on Friday in a meeting of the top two vote-getters in the NBA All-Star balloting.
O'Neal's latest return to Los Angeles also will draw attention, although Bryant eliminated a long-thriving subplot in their meetings by winning his first title without Shaq last summer.
``It's a tradition, and it's really special to be a part of it,'' said Bryant, whose daughters get some of their presents on Christmas Eve and the rest early the following morning.
While it's no imposition to play on Christmas, it's still an opportunity - although the Lakers acknowledge this matchup isn't quite as energizing as last year's visit from the Boston Celtics, whose 19-game winning streak ended in the holiday rematch of the 2008 NBA finals. Los Angeles' 92-83 victory also happened to be coach Phil Jackson's 1,000th win.
While Los Angeles and Boston have one of the NBA's best rivalries, the Cavs have no significant history or animosity with the Lakers. Even Kobe and Shaq apparently are on good terms five years after ``the big breakup of '04,'' as Fisher calls O'Neal's departure for Miami.
``There's nothing there,'' Bryant said. ``It's about putting LeBron and myself on national TV. Outside of that, there's nothing. ... We were really using that game last year as a measuring stick. This year, it's a little different.''
The Cavaliers are enjoying balmy California while playing a Christmas game for the fourth time in James' seven seasons. They worked out at UCLA on Thursday before James and other players spent time with families who traveled to the West Coast for the holiday fun and sun.
``It's bigger for (the media) than it is for us,'' James said before the Cavs' overtime victory over the Kings on Wednesday night. ``You guys put a lot of emphasis on LeBron and Kobe and the Christmas Day game. I'm focused on Sacramento right now. When it happens it will be a fun game. It's two of the best teams in the league. It will be a good test for us.''
Los Angeles has won five straight and 16 of 17. Cleveland has won two in a row after holding off Sacramento. While the Lakers lead the league, the Cavaliers are third in the Eastern Conference - but Jackson sees something brewing in Cleveland after a slow start to the season.
``They're in a rhythm now,'' said Jackson, whose grown children usually gather in Los Angeles for the holidays. ``They're playing pretty good basketball. ... Yeah, (Bryant and James) are rivals. I think they like to compete against each other. There's mutual respect there.''
Although O'Neal's playing time has fluctuated this season, apparently to his displeasure - he ducked out without speaking to reporters after playing 22 minutes in Sacramento - he's likely to play significant minutes against the Lakers' talented front line led by 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
``I think it should be a very competitive game,'' said Gasol, who signed a three-year contract extension with the Lakers on Wednesday. ``They are a contender also, and they have very good players on their roster. We've got to make sure we defend our home court, first of all, and always try to send a message. It's always good to make a stand against an opponent that's trying to reach the same goal that you are.''
Kobe Bryant (avulsion fracture, right index finger) will play.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is out.
Leon Powe (left knee surgery) is out.
SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers swept last season’s series with Cleveland 2-0. This will be the 96th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers holding a 57-38 series advantage. Last season, the Lakers snapped a 5- game losing streak to the Cavaliers with a 105-88 victory 1/19/09. In their last 10 overall meetings, the Lakers are 4-6 against the Cavaliers. The Lakers are 8-2 all-time against the Cavaliers at STAPLES Center. In Cleveland, the Lakers have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games, most recently snapping a 4- game losing streak in Cleveland with a 101-91 victory 2/8/09. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 12-6 against Cleveland. In 24 games against the Cavaliers, including 21 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 22.0 points per game including a series record 47 points 1/30/01 at Cleveland. In his last eight games against the Cavaliers, however, Bryant has averaged 28.5 points per game (228). In their most recent meeting (2/8/09), Bryant played through the effects of flu-like symptoms. In their prior meeting on 1/19/09, Bryant suffered a dislocated ring finger on his shooting hand but continued to play, marking the 3rd time Bryant has been injured against the Cavs. In 2004, Bryant suffered a sprained right shoulder that limited him to 17 minutes, five of which came after injuring his shoulder in the final seconds of the 1st quarter (1/12/04). Bryant tallied 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists, playing five 2nd quarter minutes predominantly left handed. The following season, Bryant suffered a severely sprained right ankle when he landed on Ira Newble’s right foot with 5:39 remaining in the first period (1/13/05) and did not return until the Lakers/Cavs next meeting that season. In two of his last five games against the Lakers, LeBron James has established new team Lakers/Cavs series scoring records, posting 38 points 2/15/07 and then surpassing that with 41 points 1/27/08. In 12 career games against the Lakers, James is averaging 27.3 points per game (327) with his team posting a 6-6 record in those contests. In Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s EIGHT career head-to-head meetings, Bryant is averaging 34.8 points (278), 6.1 rebounds (49) and 4.0 assists (32) while O’Neal is averaging 20.0 points (160), 10.3 rebounds (82) and 1.50 blocks (12). Bryant’s Lakers have won their 4-of-their- last-5 games in which O’Neal has played and are 4-4 overall in their eight meetings. O’Neal played eight seasons with the Lakers, averaging 27.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.49 blocked shots, and ranks among franchise leaders in points (7th/13,895), rebounds (5th/6,090), blocked shots (2nd/1,278) and field goal percentage (2nd/.575). Last season, Bryant and O’Neal shared MVP honors at the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix, AZ.
LAKERS ON CHRISTMAS
The Lakers relationship with Christmas day games dates all the way back to 1949 and the team’s second season in the NBA. On December 25, 1949, the Lakers hosted Ft. Wayne, defeating the Pistons 72-58 in the Lakers first ever Christmas day game. Now in their 62nd NBA season, the Lakers have played on Christmas day 35 times, going 20-15 in those games. The Lakers are 11-6 all-time when home for the holidays while going 8-8 in away games (1-1 in neutral court games).
This will be the Lakers 11th straight Christmas day game dating back to 1999 with Los Angeles going 4-6 in that span despite being winners of their last two straight. While the Lakers have faced the Cavaliers 15 times in the month of December (6-9) since Cleveland entered the league in 1970, the two teams have never met on Christmas day.
CHRISTMAS DAY ALL-TIME NBA LEADERS
This Christmas, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal will each be playing their 12th game on December 25th, one game shy of the record held by Dolph Schayes and Earl Monroe (13). Lakers head coach Phil Jackson ranks 13th in Christmas day games played with 10. Bryant ranks 2nd all-time in Christmas day points scored (269) behind Oscar Robertson (377) but ahead of O’Neal (259), who ranks third. Additionally, Bryant ranks 6th in assists (60) on Christmas day behind Robertson (145), Guy Rodgers (71), Walt Frazier (69), Bob Cousy (67) and Dick McGuire (65) while his 11 steals rank 7th on the holiday.
BRYANT NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR 26th TIME , PASSES JORDAN FOR MOST POW AWARDS ALL-TIME
After three Western Conference Player of the Week awards in each of the past two seasons, Kobe Bryant earned his SECOND WC Player of the week award this season for games played Monday, December 14 through Sunday, December 20. The award is the 26th of Bryant’s career (24 Western Conference POW, 2 NBA POW), tying Michael Jordan (23 NBA POW, 2 Eastern Conference POW) for the most Player of the Week Awards all-time while further surpassing Magic Johnson’s 18 NBA POW awards as the franchise’s all-time leader. Jordan and Johnson, however, earned the majority/all of their Player of the Week nods before the award was separated by Conference prior to the 2001-02 season. Since the Player of the Week was separated by Conference, Bryant’s 24 awards rank first among all players, three ahead of LeBron James (21).
Bryant led the Lakers to a 4-0 week, which included wins over the Bulls, Bucks, Nets and Pistons, averaging 34.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.50 steals. During the week, Bryant recorded his 5th 40-point game of the season with 42 points 12/15 at Chicago, scored 39 points including a game-winning buzzer beater in overtime 12/16 at Milwaukee, posted a double-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists 12/19 at New Jersey and totaled 28 points, four assists and five steals 12/20 at Detroit; all while playing with an avulsion fracture to his right index finger.
This is the 24th time Bryant has earned Player of the Week honors (11/4/01, 1/20/02, 11/3/02, 12/8/02, 1/12/03, 2/2/03, 2/23/03, 2/17/04, 3/22/04, 11/13/05, 12/18/05, 12/25/05, 1/22/06, 4/16/06, 3/18/07, 3/25/07, 1/13/08, 3/2/08, 4/6/08, 12/28/08, 1/11/09, 3/15/09, 11/22/09, 12/20/09) since the award was separated by Conference. He has twice earned NBA Player of the Week honors (4/16/00, 12/24/00), giving him 26 total career POW awards. The NBA began the Player of the Week award in 1979-80.
GASOL CRASHING THE BOARDS
With eight double-doubles and 126 rebounds over his last eight games, Pau Gasol is currently enjoying the best rebounding stretch of his career. Entering the season with a career-high 19 rebounds 4/9/09 vs. Denver, Gasol has bettered his career-high three times during this run (20 reb. 12/11 vs. Minnesota, 20 reb. 12/12 at Utah, 22 reb. 12/16 at Milwaukee). With 26 points and a career-high 22 rebounds 12/16 at Milwaukee, Gasol became the first Laker to record a 20pt/20reb game since Lamar Odom posted 23 points and 21 rebounds 3/24/08 at Golden State. Prior to that, the most recent Lakers player to record a 20/20 game was Shaquille O’Neal in 2004.
Additionally, with 20 rebounds 12/12/09 at Utah and 20 rebounds 12/11/09 vs. Minnesota, Gasol became the first Laker to record 20 rebounds in consecutive games since Lamar Odom posted 22 rebounds 3/23/08 vs. Golden State and 21 rebounds 3/24/08 at Golden State. The only other Laker to record back-to-back 20-plus rebounds in the past 30 years is Vlade Divac, who did so 2/24/95 vs. Charlotte (24 rebounds) and 2/25/95 vs. Los Angeles Clippers (20 rebounds). Prior to that, the most recent Lakers player to post consecutive 20 rebound games was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20 rebounds 1/24/78 vs. Philadelphia, 21 rebounds 1/27/78 vs. Milwaukee).
Kobe Bryant scored 40 points 12/22/09 vs. Oklahoma City, marking the 102nd time in his career that he has scored 40+ points in a game and the 6th time this season, further surpassing his total for all of last season (4). Bryant’s 46 points 2/1/08 at Toronto moved him past Elgin Baylor (88 40+ games) for 3rd all-time and into 1st in Lakers franchise history. In the history of the NBA, only two players have more career 40-point games: Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173). The Lakers are now 71- 31 all-time in games that Bryant scores 40+ points and are 6-0 in such games this season. Bryant holds the Lakers franchise record for 40-point games in a single season, recording 27 during the 2005-06 campaign. Bryant also holds the franchise record for most consecutive 40-point games (9), established during the 2002-03 season, which is tied for the fourth longest such streak in NBA history (Michael Jordan) behind Wilt Chamberlain, who twice posted streaks of 14 and once had a 10-game streak.
JUST ADD GASOL
Since Pau Gasol made his season debut 11/19 vs. Chicago, the Lakers are now 15-1 while defeating teams by an average of 12.3 points per game (197). Additionally, with Gasol’s return, all five starters have scored in double-figures five times whereas in the previous 11 games without him in the lineup, not once did that occur. In games played without Gasol since he joined the Lakers, Los Angeles is 15-7 overall (6-4 in 2007-08, 1-0 in 2008-09 and 8-3 in 2009-10). With Gasol in the lineup, the Lakers are 101-23 (.815) in the regular season since he joined the team in February of 2008 (22-5 in 2007-08, 64-17 in 2008-09 and 15-1 in 2009-10) and 30-14 (.682) in the playoffs.