Posts Tagged ‘LA Daily News’

MVP Ladder: A Little Love For Blake!

VIDEO: The Clippers’ Blake Griffin is one just four players in the league averaging 20 and 10 this season

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — A grand total of four players, just four, can boast of averaging 21 or more points and 10 or more rebounds a night this season in the NBA. The Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin is one of them, along with Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Three of the four are firmly entrenched on the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder this week, Griffin joins the party this week at No. 8, and some folks would argue that Cousins should be included in that mix as well (if he keeps up his current level of play he might gain entry in the coming weeks).

Griffin’s ascent this season, however, has come with the added pleasure of watching one of the league’s true highlight players add some substance to all of that style. This is a tougher, feistier and much more rugged version of the dunk machine we’ve all watched the past few years.

“It’s really cool to be on his team these two years and watch the growth he’s made,” Clippers guard Jamal Crawford told the Los Angeles Daily News. Griffin will only continue to get better under the tutelage of Clippers coach Doc Rivers, whose ability to get the best out of his players is well-known.

Griffin’s task is even more complicated right now with fellow captain, All-Star and MVP candidate Chris Paul sidelined for six weeks with a separated shoulder. But Griffin seems more than up to the task, having increased his production (16 assists in the three games Paul has been out) in certain areas while maintaining his steady flow everywhere else.

And the best part, he hasn’t had to sacrifice his penchant for making highlights — as Kris Humphries can attest — in the meantime.

Dive in here for more on Griffin and a shake up involving Kevin Durant and LeBron James at the top of this week’s KIA Race To The MVP Ladder!

Making Sense Of The World Peace Mess

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The NBA’s deans of discipline handed down a most appropriate fine for Metta World Peace‘s elbow to James Harden‘s head that caused a concussion and 48 hours of on unnecessary pain and suffering for the game of basketball.

Lakers fans might not feel that way, but if they remove those purple-and-gold-colored glasses for just a minute, they’ll realize that justice was served in this instance.

Unlike some hardliners, we saw no reason for World Peace to suffer through a 10-game suspension or the lifetime ban some were calling for (yes, we’ve read all of your comments and emails on the subject). That would have been excessive, even for a player with as checkered a past as World Peace.

It’s clear the league took into account all of the good deeds he’s done and the way, up until Sunday at least, he’s conducted himself within the lines the past few seasons. NBA Commissioner David Stern could have dropped the hammer on World Peace this time and met with little resistance in the court of public opinion outside of Lakerland.

Unlike World Peace, someone took the time to consider all of the options instead of just reacting in the heat of the moment. Instead of listening to the tide of discontent surrounding this latest act and using his extensive history of running afoul of the league’s code of conduct for all players, someone at the league office decided not to make an example of World Peace when they so easily could have.

Seven games might seem harsh to some, but in this day and age of bounties in the NFL and the like, seven games seems more than appropriate. And the Lakers’ acceptance of the penalty (and their continued support of World Peace) would indicate that they recognize as much and ready to try to move on from this incident.

And to his credit, World Peace did the classy thing and apologized to the Thunder and their fans for what happened on his website. Despite suggestions to the contrary, he is fully aware of what went down and seems genuinely contrite for allowing his emotions to get the best of him yet again. We’re not here to condemn the man for that. In fact, we applaud him for recognizing that and handling himself the right way now.


Sessions Gets Kobe Seal Of Approval

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Everyone seems to be moving on quite nicely.

Derek Fisher is in Oklahoma City and is already embracing his role there as elder statesmen and veteran leader. Ramon Sessions is quickly earning his stripes as the Lakers’ newest point guard addition, even earning the early Kobe Bryant Seal of Approval after his work in the Lakers’ win over the Mavericks last night.

And at the end of the day, after all of the drama that accompanied the trade that sent Fisher to Houston and ultimately to free agency and the Thunder, and the other trade that brought Sessions from Cleveland to the Los Angeles, it really is about getting Kobe’s seal of approval, isn’t it?

Sure, Sessions still has some work to do in order to get completely comfortable in his role with the Lakers. And we’re still not sure how this works — Steve Blake is the starter but Sessions is the Lakers’ point guard with the game on the line … ?

But when you hear Bryant speak about his point guard the way he did about Sessions last night, to Dave McMenamin of, you know something good is cooking:

“We just let him handle the ball,” Bryant said of Sessions. “You saw me off the ball a lot, more than probably you’ve ever seen me. As a result, my night was a lot easier. I really didn’t have to work. I had, what, 30 points? I didn’t have to work for any of it because he’s doing all the penetrating and I was getting great screens.”

Sessions finished with 17 points, nine assists and five rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench and was even more accurate than Bryant, shooting 7-for-8.

“He definitely takes pressure off of me,” Sessions said of Bryant. “He lets me do what I do: be aggressive.”

… “I’ve been extremely impressed,” Bryant said. “He takes a lot of pressure off of me. I can be a legitimate 2-guard now. Know what I mean? He can play-make for others. Before, I had to score and play-make for others, as well. I don’t have to do that. I can be on the receiving end of those plays.”

Sessions referred to Bryant as “Kob,” which is another sign that the two of them are quickly developing a rapport that could have a solid and lasting impact for the Lakers down the road, this season and beyond.

Bryant torched the Mavericks for 30 points, shooting 11-for-18 from the field. It’s his first game shooting 50 percent or better in his last 11 games. Sessions was spectacular, finishing his night with 17 points, nine assists and five rebounds in just 29 minutes.

That’s a sweet line for a guy who is admittedly still trying to figure it all out, on and off the court, in his new environment. Sessions said as much to Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News:

“I’m definitely not up to speed yet,” Sessions said. “I’m not comfortable like I would like to be just because I don’t know exactly where everybody is supposed to be out on the floor. I’m starting to know more plays for myself as where I’m supposed to go.

If this is Sessions when he’s not even up to speed yet, the Lakers might very well have snagged the prize of the trade deadline!

The Lakers’ Risky Point Guard Shuffle

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Lakers coach Mike Brown had all the pressure in the basketball world on his shoulders the moment he decided to accept the offer to replace a living legend like Phil Jackson.

But that’s an institutional pressure any coach would have faced stepping into those gigantic footsteps.

Now comes an even more specific set of pressures for Brown, whose job it is to sort out the Lakers’ point guard situation now that Derek Fisher is gone and Ramon Sessions has been added to back up Steve Blake.

Brown has a rotation in mind: Blake as the starter and Sessions as his backup with both capable of playing off the ball late in games when Kobe Bryant is handling facilitator duties or playing together in a three-guard rotation with Bryant, if called for.

But what if the proposed upgrade and new rotation don’t take hold in time for the Lakers to make the championship push expected? That heat will undoubtedly fall on Brown, who explained his new mix to the Los Angeles Daily News like this:

“Right now, Steve Blake is my starting point guard, and he’s my starting point guard for the foreseeable future until there’s a time I think I need to make a change and right now I don’t see a time right now, but who knows?” Brown said.

Is that because Brown likes Blake as his starter or Sessions as a backup?

“Both,” Brown said.

“Basically, Steve Blake has taken Derek Fisher’s spot and Ramon Sessions has taken Steve Blake’s spot,” Brown added.

Presumably the rotation will change once Sessions becomes more comfortable in the Lakers’ offensive and defensive schemes and the team plays against the sort of young, fast and athletic point guards that hurt them in the past.

It’s no secret the reason the Lakers acquired Sessions from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday and traded Fisher to the Houston Rockets was to match up better with point guards like Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Sessions is the Lakers’ only hope of dealing with the likes of Westbrook or any of the other big point guards in the league. Blake, as valuable as he is, does not have the size or defensive chops to match those guys. Few players in the league can.