Posts Tagged ‘Black Mamba’

Injury List Is Filling Up Fast


VIDEO: Marc Gasol leaves game vs. Spurs with knee injury

Everybody knows about the Monday morning blues.

But how about Friday night despair?

Derrick Rose goes down in Portland. Marc Gasol limps off in Memphis. Andre Iguodala feels a “pop” in his hamstring.

It was a painful start to the weekend for at least three contenders in the first month of a season that is already keeping the MRI machines working overtime and coaches and general managers reaching for the aspirin bottle.

Here’s a rundown of the biggest names currently on the injury list:

Derrick Rose, Bulls — Had to be helped off the floor when his right knee buckled while making a back cut Friday night in Portland. Prognosis: Results of MRI pending.

Marc Gasol, Grizzlies — The All-Star center and 2013 Defensive Player of the Year left Friday night’s loss at home to the Spurs with 10:24 left in the second quarter with an injury to his left knee. “Without him, we become a makeshift team,” said Tony Allen. Prognosis: Results of MRI pending.

Andre Iguodala, Warriors — The free agent signing who jumped Golden State from interesting team and tough matchup to true championship contender in the West, was sprinting down court in transition defense when he pulled up holding his left hamstring. Prognosis: Officially called a “strain,” Iguodala will have an MRI performed today.

Stephen Curry, Warriors — It was labeled a “mild concussion” when the sharp-shooting guard had his head bounced off the court in a scramble for the ball with Utah’s Marvin Williams, but he has now missed two straight games. Prognosis: Curry is a game-time decision at home tonight against the Trail Blazers (10:30 ET, League Pass).

Kobe Bryant, Lakers — The most famous Achilles’ tendon since, well, Achilles, has had the Black Mamba on the shelf since April, when any hope of the Lakers as a dark horse contender in the 2013 playoffs went up in smoke. Prognosis: He’s back on the court in practice, looking good, according to teammates. Bryant is proceeding cautiously, but now looks like a good bet to beat the consensus pick of Christmas Day for his return to the Lakers lineup.

Tyson Chandler, Knicks — The Knicks center and second-most important player on the roster behind Carmelo Anthony has been sidelined since suffering a broken right fibula in a game at Madison Square Garden against Charlotte on Nov. 5. The Knicks are 2-6 without him in the lineup. Prognosis: The 2012 Defensive Player of the year did not suffer nerve or ligament damage in his leg and is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Dwyane Wade, Heat — The All-Star guard has been battling balky knees all season. He’s missed three of Miami’s first dozen games, including the last two against Atlanta and at Orlando. Prognosis: Averaging 16.7 points in 33.2 minutes per game,Wade is expected to return at home tonight against the Magic (7:30 ET, League Pass).

Steve Nash, Lakers — Recurring nerve problems in his back have had the 39-year-old point guard out of the lineup since Nov. 10. Since that time, the former two-time MVP has had to push back at reports that he is considering retirement. Prognosis: Reports out of L.A. say Nash will sit for at least four more games, not returning before December at the earliest.

Deron Williams, Nets — He’s played in just two of the Nets’ last five games, leaving both early after re-injuring a bothersome left ankle. Wednesday night against Charlotte he played 13 minutes, making just 1 of 5 shots. He is having the worst season of his nine-year NBA career, averaging 9.3 points and shooting 40.5 percent. Prognosis: Williams sat out Friday night’s loss at Minnesota and is questionable for Sunday at home vs. the Pistons.

Brook Lopez, Nets — The Brooklyn center sprained his left ankle on Nov. 15 at Phoenix and has missed the last four games, all losses for the Nets. Prognosis: It has not yet been determined whether Lopez will be able to play Sunday night against the Pistons.

Andrei Kirilenko, Nets — The free agent forward signee has missed seven consecutive games with back spasms. The New York Daily News reported that he recently received an epidural injection. Prognosis: Kirilenko hopes to be cleared to return to contact and take part in practice starting on Monday.

Howard Feels The Red Mamba Tweaks


.

SAN ANTONIO — The Black Mamba didn’t tweet. Something about not wanting to be a distraction.

So Kobe Bryant sat at home again on the sofa in Orange County, this time resting his surgically repaired Achilles’ tendon and both his thumbs.

The Red Mamba did tweak. And jostle. And shove. And pull. And prod. It was all about being as bothersome as a mosquito at a nudist colony.

Matt Bonner never rested for even a single one of the 29 minutes that he had to contest, confront and confound Dwight Howard.

The Lakers All-Star center scored 16 points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked four shots, but also picked up five fouls and a technical in another one of those nights when he did so much head-shaking that you wondered if it might fall right off his broad and muscular shoulders.

This is life without Kobe for the Lakers, nobody to bail them out at the end of difficult possessions or do some of the improbable things that might make the Spurs defense loosen up and have to guard the perimeter.

There were times in the first half of Game 2 when Howard was a monster at both ends of the floor, muscling inside for rugged buckets and trying to swat down any shot that the Spurs tried. He snarled after rejecting a Tim Duncan shot and he roared after making back-to-back rejections on Tony Parker.

But Howard also went up for an offensive rebound and swung a hard right elbow that caught Bonner square on his face and sent him to the floor like a bag of rocks.

The red-haired Bonner wore a sheepish smile and a red welt as he stood in front of his locker.

“You knock me down, I’ll keep getting up,” said Bonner.

Call it the Chumbawamba defense. Maybe that’s why none other than Kobe himself bestowed the nickname Red Mamba.

Or maybe it was the 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting — including another running one-hander — dubbed the “Shyhook” by the wags of the Internet.

“Matty’s a tough-minded individual,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “He’s a heck of a competitor and a great team guy. He’ll do whatever we ask him to do. I think his family worries about him and the things we ask him to do out there.” (more…)

#Vino Is Out Of The Barrel, Lakers At .500

.

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Maybe you weren’t listening when Kobe Bryant vowed that the Los Angeles Lakers would not only make the playoffs, but make some noise when they get there.

Bryant was in full Black Mamba mode Sunday night at Staples Center, carving up and then finishing off the Atlanta Hawks late with big play after big play to help the Lakers reach  the .500 mark (30-30), the first time they’ve been there since  Dec. 28, in a 99-98 win.

Kobe scored 11 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter, which also included this not-so-subtle reminder to Hawks forward Josh Smith that he’s still got a few hops left (hey, Magic Johnson, forget about LeBron James. Why not throw that $1 million offer at this Kobe fella for the 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest?):

.

With four lead changes in the final minute of the final game of a wild Sunday of action, the NBA kicked off its own version of March Madness. The playoff chase is in full swing in both the Eastern and Western Conferences as teams from the top and bottom of the standings continue jockeying for position.

The Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers all scored big wins on the day before Bryant and the Lakers held off the Hawks, they led by 16 early, in the nightcap.

And truth be told, no team will be under more pressure over the next few weeks than the Lakers, who play 10 of their next 14 games on the road (starting with Tuesday night’s tilt in Oklahoma City on TNT).

But Kobe, who high-fived Hollywood star Jeremy Piven after that retro dunk over Smith, remains the most confident man in the room.

“I have plenty left but you guys are free to criticize and say I don’t,” he told reporters after the game. “Go right ahead.”

He said his mission was simple. “I just wanted to attack. Take the game right to them. Be aggressive, be physical.”

The Hawks tried to guard with Smith and other bigs and it backfired when it mattered most. “They switched with the bigs and when they stay home with the shooters,” Kobe said, “it’s my job to cook ’em”

Did he ever. He went into his vault in the fourth quarter, particularly down the stretch, going right at Smith, Al Horford and anyone else in his path for the game-winning plays.

“That’s pretty incredible,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I don’t know where he’s getting his young legs from. But the last three or four possessions he just went to the rim and made some incredible shots. The last three or four minutes was all him.”

Smith probably has no idea where Kobe’s lift came from either. But he’ll be forced to relive being on the wrong end of that dunk for a while, as it will no doubt be added to Bryant’s season and career highlight reel.

“He’s been doing it for a long time, so you have to respect what he brings to the table,” Smith told reporters after the game. “He’s an assassin. He wants that moment. But from a defensive standpoint, I love taking a challenge like that and try to step up and try to make it tough for him. It was kind of like a tug-of-war match. We were going back and forth, and they made one more play than we did to win the game. I live for moments like this.”

The best line of the night, however, came from Kobe himself. And it had to do with his new nickname (“Vino” … which is Italian for wine) that connects to his roots and his game, which is seemingly getting better with age.

“I was in my coffin a few years ago … Vino is out of the barrel.”

Kobe’s Greatest Hits, XV

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Few people have the introspective powers to look at their own careers and pinpoint exactly when they were at their very best.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant doesn’t have to worry about it, because his actions speak louder than any words he could muster. And at no time during his career did his actions speak any louder than they did during the 2005-06 season. The career-best 35.4 points per game scoring average, the 81-point outburst in Toronto and so much more was captured here for the finale of our Kobe’s Top 10 Plays series:

If you missed any of the other 14 installments of our Kobe’s Top 10 Plays series,all you have to do is click here to see what all the fuss is about. It’s hard to pick a favorite with everything from Afro-Kobe to Crazy8 Kobe to the Black Mamba and now the more mature KB Bryant.

We have to give a special shout out to David Thomas and his crew at NBA Entertainment for filing through all those thousands of plays to come up with the Black Mamba‘s top highlights.

So fellas, whose highlights are going through next?

Kobe’s Greatest Hits, VI

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We’ve been struggling with an in-house debate here at the hideout over which Kobe Bryant we like more, young Afro-Kobe or KB24.

Young, Crazy8 Kobe was a bit more acrobatic around the rim but mature, Black Mamba Kobe has the measured tone of an assassin in his prime. So it’s not an easy choice.

Today’s installment in HT‘s Top 10 Plays look back at Kobe‘s entire career gives another glimpse at the fearless young Kobe, the one we still weren’t sure would finish his career as one of the game’s all-time greats. But look at these plays from his 1997-98 season and you can see the seeds being sown:

Don’t forget, we’re eyeballing a different set of Kobe’s Top 10 Plays every day until the All-Star Game, Feb. 20 in Los Angeles, where we’ll get a good look at the current Kobe on the Hollywood stage.

Kobe’s Greatest Hits, IV

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Guess who’s back?

That’s right, Afro-Kobe returns in our look back at Kobe Bryant‘s long and storied NBA history. It doesn’t matter how many times we see him at this stage of his career, it’s worth a shake of the head to remember just how ridiculously athletic he was as a youngster. He had serious Hang Time!

Look for yourself here in Kobe’s Top 10 Plays from the 1998-99 season. And yes, there is a Greg Ostertag sighting in there:

Remember, this is just the fourth installment of our look back at the Top 1o Plays from the Black Mamba‘s career. Every day between now and the All-Star Game (Feb. 20) we’ll be posting a new season top 10.

Just remember, if you see that wrist band on his left arm above his elbow, our main man Afro-Kobe is probably in the building!