Friday, October 9, 2009

Lakers vs. Warriors Game 2 Preview

I’ve got goose bumps by simply hearing the phrase “the Lakers will face the Warriors at the Forum in Inglewood, CA on tonight”. Call it a blast from the past but great to hear. The Lakers started the 2009-2010 Pre-Season right where they ended last season convincingly beating their opponent.

The exhibition run gave everyone a look at what this team is capable of doing.
Ron Artest had a nice debut for Los Angeles with a 12 point, 9 rebound and 7 assist night. Andrew Bynum lead the Lakers is scoring with 24 points showing a lot of athleticism finishing at the rim early and often.

He also showed that he is fully recovered from the knee injury that plagued him in the playoffs and prepared to be a presence in the paint. Hopefully for the Lakers on both ends of the court.

Kobe Bryant put up 22 points and grabbed 9 boards as the defending NBA champions used a balanced scoring effort to win their pre-season opener big in Anaheim.The same two teams will match up again this evening under a different roof.

Always great to see the start of another basketball season but and even better sight on Wednesday night was to see the Lakers reserves put up 47 points. The bench production in 2009 wasn’t as solid or consistent as it was in 2008.

Earlier indications are that this area was addressed by the coaching staff and will improve with Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar & Adam Morrison consistently knocking down open shots. The Lakers won it all last year by playing solid defense and that needs to be their calling card this season. The addition of Ron Artest works toward accomplishing that goal.

Just as in the first game you’ll see Coach Phil Jackson stick to traditional rotations with Lamar Odom the first player off the bench as well as Jordan Farmar the first guard off the bench. Josh Powell might get extended minutes in the interest of resting Pau Gasol. Look for Adam Morrison to get a longer look with the regulars to help in his development.

It is still early and the Lakers have room for improvement like every other team in the league. The Lakers have to move their feet and play defense without fouling and limit the Warriors to one shot per possession.

Tony Gaffney has to be showing flashes defensively on film but he hasn’t made the roster as of yet. The Lakers will continue to work on getting their timing and chemistry together. I’m looking forward to seeing the Lakers play solid defense and display excellent player movement and excellent ball movement.

*The thoughts and prayers of the Lakers Nation go out to the Ratliff family for their loss and ours; John Ratcliff, the Lakers official scorer for the last 48 years passed away recently and will be missed.

Tip-off: 7:00 PM PST
Television -
• Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (HD)
• Golden State: CSN (HD)
Radio -
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
• Golden State: KNBR 1050 (Tim Roye & Jim Barnett)
Injuries -
• None to report.
• PF Brandon Wright (Shoulder)
• PG C.J. Watson

What made Jerry West one of the greatest players in the NBA?

I’m asked sports questions frequently and 9 times out of 10 I’ll have the answer. On this occasion two kids a 13 year old and 14 year old wanted some answers. The 13 year old kid presented me with a difficult question or at least one that was going to take a little time to answer.

I was asked the impossible question; to “describe what made Jerry West one of the greatest players in NBA history”.

I could’ve given him a sarcastic response or told him to research the information himself which would’ve been wrong considering that this kid was serious and wanted to know.

He could only speak of present day basketball players that he has seen and heard so much about. He didn’t have the pleasure of witnessing any of Jerry’s 932 games, hearing of his exploits or more importantly watching him compete.

I couldn’t truthfully tell him that I saw him play in his prime because he was before my time as well. By the time I did see him play I was 9 years old and Jerry West was at the tail end of his playing career. Thanks to the DVD series “The History of the Los Angeles Lakers” and NBA TV I was able to get myself up to speed years ago.

I took on the task by telling him that when you speak of Jerry West he was known as “Mr. Clutch”, “Zeke from Cabin Creek”, the Los Angeles Lakers 1st ever draft pick and later known as ‘the Logo’ as in the NBA Logo. I shared with him the mix he was described as in the NBA Encyclopedia.

“Combine a deadly jump shot, tenacious defense, obsessive perfectionism, unabashed confidence, and an uncompromising will to win, and you’ve got Jerry West, one of the greatest guards in NBA history”.

Fortunately for me and him I happen to collect previous sporting events on DVD & Video. He had no idea what a video tape was by the way but that is a different story for a different day.

I told him that Jerry West played his entire playing career with the L.A. Lakers. I showed him highlights of the 1969 NBA Finals game in which Jerry West posted a triple double with 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. He was shocked to see that Jerry West was named the Finals MVP. He was the first and only Finals MVP from the losing team.

I told them that he is a guy that has many accomplishments; he was an All-Star every year of his career, MVP of the 1972 All-Star game, played in 9 NBA finals finally winning a NBA title in 1972, he helped build the Lakers dynasty in the 1980’s that won 5 championships and brought coach Phil Jackson and both Shaq and Kobe to Los Angeles which helped the team win 4 more titles.

Apparently Jerry West’s influence had grown on the kids as I heard one say on more than one occasion “his jumper is perfect and goes in every time he shoots” and “he probably had to work really hard to make all of those shots”. I was elated to hear them say to each other that “we have to work hard on our game every chance we get”.

Their responses told me that in a sense they answered their own question. All I could do was to tell them that you have to learn how to play the game the right way, give it your all, constantly push yourself to the point of exhaustion if need be to make sure that no so that no one will outwork you.