Posts Tagged ‘Ramon Sessions’

Fisher Gains A Measure Of Revenge





OKLAHOMA CITY – In the quiet of the near-empty Thunder locker room, as the last player to leave after the Monday victory that sent Oklahoma City to the Western Conference final, Derek Fisher passed on the chance to make noise. He would help beat the Lakers, but he would not bash them.

“It obviously feels good to advance and beat anybody we face,” he said.

Except that it wasn’t anybody this time. It was the team that dealt him at the trade deadline in a shock to Fisher and most around the Lakers. It was the organization that felt it needed to replace him for an upgrade at point guard and then needed to move him to clear a wide berth for Ramon Sessions to be the successor.

Surely this was not just another victory for a player who has known many.

“If I came here just to beat the Lakers, then maybe so,” Fisher said. “But the idea was to come here and have an opportunity to win a championship. That journey is still in front of us. We’ll keep working at it.”

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Lakers Have No One Else To Blame But Themselves For Latest Playoff Ouster





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – Before anyone else in Los Angeles points another finger at Pau Gasol, Mike Brown, Ramon Sessions or any of the other convenient scapegoats in the wake of a second straight second-round playoff exit, look in the mirror.

Stare long and hard and ask yourself if you didn’t see this coming. Didn’t you realize last season, when Andrew Bynum was heading to visitor’s locker room in Dallas without his jersey, that this team was fatally flawed and had no chance of overcoming its own internal obstacles?

Like an aging heavyweight champ who gets K.O.’d in his last bout and then comes back into the ring the next time without truly understanding what went wrong, the Lakers got popped against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals. This time, it came by believing in their ability to overcome any obstacle with sheer talent alone.

Avoiding the sweep this time around shouldn’t ease the sting for Lakers fans, either. They knew (better than most) what they saw from this group during last season’s semifinal flame-out against the Mavericks exposed the team’s flaws.

Why would anyone, Kobe Bryant included, be surprised at Gasol’s struggles against the Thunder when you saw him crumble against the Mavericks?

You replaced a living legend in Phil Jackson with a good coach in Brown, but if Jackson couldn’t get this team over the proverbial hump in his final season, why would anyone assume Brown would be capable of pulling it off now? And Sessions was supposed to be the anti-Derek Fisher — a younger, more athletically gifted point guard capable of matching up better against the league’s younger and more athletic guards. He proved to be just as ill-equipped to handle Russell Westbrook as Fisher would have been.

This is a mess of the Lakers’ own making, whether they admit it or not. They are the ones that tossed Jackson’s hand-picked successor, Brian Shaw, aside in favor of Brown. They saw the cracks in their foundation and opted for some instant sealant instead of legit fixes.

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Quick Turnaround For Thunder, Lakers





LOS ANGELES – The Lakers and Thunder, after playing 2 hours 43 minutes without overtime Friday night, return to Staples Center tonight for Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals and the rarity of a postseason back-to-back.

It is a particular challenge for the older Lakers at a time they need a win to avoid what would be a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 deficit as the series shifts back to Oklahoma City.

“It’s going to take a mental commitment on our part in order to fight through the fatigue we might feel (Saturday),” Pau Gasol said after the Lakers grinded out a victory in Game 3. “It’s going to be all will and desire and effort. Just pushing ourselves through everything and anything that we might be feeling or going on out there.”

The Lakers are playing on consecutive days in the playoffs for the first time since May 22-23, 1999, in the second round against the Spurs.

“It’ll be a little different,” Steve Blake said of a back-to-back in the regular season compared to the playoffs. “The intensity. A back-to-back during the regular season, sometimes the first quarter can be a little bit lull. But I don’t think it’ll be that way tomorrow night.”

Other topics heading into Game 4:

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Playoff Time A New Time For Sessions




EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – On days like Thursday, when the shades to the second-floor office of Jeanie Buss — the Lakers’ executive vice president of business operations — are open, 10 gold championship trophies shine down on the court at the practice facility. At home games, the title banners hang prominently on an inside wall at one end of Staples Center.

Ramon Sessions notices. Not that he needed much reminding of playoff expectations after he arrived from Cleveland in a trade-deadline deal, but the pressure of delivering in the postseason has been hammered home. Little that happens in the previous months matter.

Sessions is in the playoffs for the first time anywhere as his career moves to a unique level of pressure because he replaces a point guard known for postseason clutch. That was the thing with Derek Fisher — he could drive Lakers fans mad with poor shooting and susceptible defense the first 82 games and still head into summer a hero.

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Rosen’s Report: Spurs at Lakers




This game is all about jockeying for playoff position. In the homestretch, the Spurs have two goals: To stay healthy and to catch Oklahoma City and gain home court advantage throughout the Western Conference post-season tournament.

The Lakers are intent on keeping the Clippers in the rear-view mirror by securing the third seed. And in doing so, the Lakers would face Dallas in the first round, a team they’ve swept in the regular season (4-0). Also, with Kobe Bryant‘s injured shin most likely to keep him on the bench, the Lakers have another chance to develop the offensive chops of his teammates — something that would undoubtedly make L.A. even tougher to beat in the playoffs.

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Blogtable: Who’s Running on Empty?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

We’re near the end of a crazy, compacted season. Give us a player who has been heavily leaned-on during this breakneck schedule who may be in danger of flaming out in the playoffs.

Steve Aschburner: The easy answer would be Kobe Bryant, given his minutes, his advanced years and his usage rate for the Lakers. Baron Davis might experience a shock to his system, taking on the stretch-drive load that the Knicks need now with Jeremy Lin sidelined. But neither of those is my final answer. I’m going with Chicago forward Luol Deng, who is trying to make it through most of the season, whatever playoff push the Bulls enjoy and the 2012 London Olympics playing with a torn ligament in his left wrist. Surgery would have wiped out most or all of that for Deng, the most used (39.0 mpg) and versatile tool in Tom Thibodeau‘s belt. But just because Kobe played through something similar once doesn’t mean most mortals can do that. Deng feels it every time he falls or takes a whack on that wrist, and it has affected some of his moves on the court.

Fran Blinebury: If Kobe has a few more 3-for-20 shooting nights and the Lakers lose in the playoffs, is he the “flame-out” you’re looking for?  Can Lamar Odom qualify as a “flame-out” if he’s been just a soggy pack of matches all season? If you’re looking for someone who needs to stop playing games, get his head screwed on straight and deliver in the playoffs, well, there’s that infamous 3-point shooter Mr. Bynum.  He could be the difference in the Lakers making a real run at The Finals or crashing and burning early.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Bad trend for Jameer Nelson: He has shot worse than 38 percent in two of the last three playoffs. Bad trend for the Magic.

Shaun Powell: I wonder about Chris Paul, never accused of being the sturdiest player in his career, continuing to play at a high level without Chauncey Billups. He does have Randy Foye and Mo Williams for relief, but neither can run the team or involve teammates quite like Paul; the Clippers suffer when he isn’t on the floor. He has led this late charge (six straight wins) that rescued Vinny Del Negro and the club from flirting with disaster; will he feel the effects in May? Possibly. (more…)

Rosen’s Report: OKC at L.A. Lakers




In the wake of their recent trouncing of Miami, the Thunder are convinced that they are destined to be champs. Their occasional lapses in focus, however, still need to be remedied. Here is a chance for OKC to restore their A-game and discourage the reconstituted Lakers from thinking that they are now the best in the West.

After previously being a good-to-middling team, the Lakers believe that the addition of Ramon Sessions does indeed make them a legitimate championship contender. Even as Sessions’ shakedown cruise continues, L.A. seeks to prove that they now have the size and the speed to quell the Thunder.

HOW THE THUNDER CAN WIN

• Kevin Durant has to escape the defensive clutches of Metta World Peace to score at least 30 efficient points. To accomplish this, KD must move without the ball, drop beacoup treys, and also knife his way to the rim. In so doing, he must be prepared to be physically assaulted. Moreover, when Durant moves into the low post, his passing options have to be expanded by his teammates executing more dive-cuts and fades than are generally included in OKC’s game plan.

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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 ESPNLosAngeles.com, 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!

Rick’s Tips: Waiver Watching





It’s time to hit up the waiver wire during the best part of the fantasy season as the playoffs are upon us. I haven’t been with y’all for a couple weeks, so I’m doubling your pleasure with 10 names that could come to the rescue for your team.

Ramon Sessions

In separate moves on deadline day, the Lakers shipped Derek Fisher to Houston and brought in Ramon Sessions from the Cavaliers to solidify the point guard position.

Ramon isn’t starting yet, but he averaged 8.5 points and 5.5 assists in 22 minutes in his first two games in Purple and Gold. Lakers coach Mike Brown recently told reporters Steve Blake may keep the starting job for the remainder of the season, but I’m not buying it. You don’t ship out Five-Ring Fisher and then not start his replacement. It may take another week or two, but when Sessions gets promoted, he’ll flirt with double-doubles on a nightly basis.

Klay Thompson

As soon as the Warriors selected this sharp-shooting two-guard with the 11th pick in the 2011 draft, the writing was on the wall regarding Monta Ellis’ future in Oakland. It was only a matter of time before Monta was dealt, which happened last Tuesday, opening the starting gig for Thompson.

In five games as a starter, Thompson is averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 assists and 2.2 3s in 36.2 minutes. The rookie is light on rebounds and steals, and he’s shooting just 40 percent since the promotion, but the points and 3s are a nice boost this late in the season. (more…)

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.

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