Tag Archives: Utah Jazz

NBA’s Western Conference Mirrors Crowded GOP Race

Kobe Bryant told Yahoo Sports that the Los Angeles Lakers could ‘absolutely’ make the playoffs this season. Sure it is mathematically possible for the Lakers to finish in the top eight of the Western Conference. What is more likely to happen is they fall short while battling in a competitive field.

Much like the 2016 Republican presidential campaign, the Western Conference is so fully loaded that teams with adequate talent will not make the playoffs the same way Governors Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal didn’t qualify for the first presidential debate.

45-37 was good enough for the Lakers to get the 7th seed in the 2006 season, but that win total wasn’t enough for the Oklahoma City Thunder to make the playoffs in 2015. After 21 victories last season, the Lakers can drastically improve, even double their win total, and it still may only be good enough for 9th place.

The Lakers will join the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trailblazers  in jockeying for position like Senators Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum- except they have a better chance of making the playoffs than either of them have of getting the GOP nomination.

 

Jordan Clarkson is ready to be an L.A. Boss

 

It wasn’t simply Jordan Clarkson’s throw down dunk on Dante Exum. It was him stealing the ball from the Australian sensation beforehand which initiated the instant classic hi-lite. Los Angeles Lakers rookie Jordan Clarkson symbolically had his coming out party in a 100-97 win in Utah against the Jazz.

While the Lakers are racking up injuries, DNP-CD’s, and overall bad vibes, Jordan Clarkson infused hope for the future with one facial that will surely stay in rotation for seasons to come.

Clarkson has now earned league-wide credibility.  Players are wacthing YouTube, Vine, and are just as engaged on Twitter as any fan. Best believe the next defender will think twice about challenging Jordan Clarkson at the rim, lest they get Dante Exumed. There is visual evidence that he got game. Jordan Clarkson wants to be that dude and his chance has arrived.

Now this may not have been Jordan in the back-court Kobe Bryant dreamt of playing alongside in his fleeting thoughts to sign  with the Washington Wizards earlier in the decade. But Clarkson’s tenacity fulfills the prerequisite of being accepted by Bryant. After years of having to defend the other teams point guards, Clarkson’s athleticism should relieve Bryant of the burden for the remainder of his career. Defensively the Lakers can finally address Stephen Curry, Damian Lilliard, Russell Westbrook, and the long list of guards who dominate the Western Conference.

With four draft-picks this off-season, and the return of Julius Randall, Jordan Clarkson is poised to lead the youth movement in Los Angeles.

 

Revelations, rTT, TT, Run The Triangle

World-Peace Still Defending LeBron James

Former NBA strongman Metta World-Peace took to social-media to defend Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James. He mentioned ESPN Analyst Stephen A. Smith’s name specifically, and asked a question of the media in general about LeBron sacrificing his scoring for team basketball.

James is by far still playing like a superstar who is miles ahead of everyone. But there have been moments this season where his athletic ability has seemed to wane. Most notably in a 102-100 loss to the Utah Jazz where Gordon Hayward got a chase down block on James followed by a transition dunk.

Much like Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, LeBron James has been playing in the NBA since the age of 18, and has spent a significant portion of his career making deep playoff runs with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat. LeBron may be dealing with fatigue rather than the declination of his game.

Kobe Bryant still building legacy brick-by-brick

The case against Kobe Bryant officially began with a set of missed field-goal attempts.

The Lakers were eliminated in overtime of Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals when Bryant shot an air-ball at the end of regulation, followed by another that would have tied the game in the extra period. He was comforted by his  teammate Shaquille O’Neal who encouraged him to keep shooting the ball. It was advice that would ironically contribute to their division years later.

Kobe Bryant hasn’t stopped shooting. He became the NBA’s all-time leader in missed field-goals during the Lakers 102-107 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. As infamous as it sounds, being known as the player who has missed the most shots means you have been around long enough to take them.
It wasn’t a forgone conclusion that Kobe Bryant would miss the most shots in NBA history. He had a mere 176 attempts during the regular season of his rookie year. To put it in perspective, fellow 96 draft class rookie Antoine Walker hoisted away 1,354 attempts for the Boston Celtics. It took Bryant two seasons and change to become the starting shooting-guard for the Lakers after Eddie Jones was traded to the Charlotte Hornets during the 1999 lockout season.

Kobe has been consistently good for so long that the evolution of his game is taken for granted. Unlike LeBron James, Bryant wasn’t given the green-light as a rookie. He even endured DNP’s under coach Del Harris when he was known as “Showtime” because of his flashy play in practice. But Bryant still had to earn minutes behind Eddie Jones and current Head Coach Byron Scott.

And he kept shooting.

He quickly earned the reputation as an introvert by choosing not to be a part of the Hollywood club scene with known playboys like Shaq and Rick Fox. His competitive nature and aggressiveness got around the league quickly, and the elder statesman started laying the wood as a right of passage. It all culminated with a fight with Chris Childs against the New York Knicks during the Lakers 2000 championship run. The nationally televised game between the two most popular teams in the NBA was the graduation of Kobe Bryant into superstar status.

His longevity has masked the fact that he’s played in seven seasons of 70 games or less. It took him five years before he completed an 80 game NBA season.

Bryant hasn’t ceased firing away, continuing to add bricks to the foundation he’s set. He has the chance to join Michael Jordan as the only players to lead the league in scoring at 36-years old. He has displayed that athleticism is still very much a part of his game, and although they won’t admit it, many analyst privately expressed that Bryant would no longer be an all-star after the layoff.

Kobe said he would rather go 0-30 instead of 0-9. He’s missed the most shots because he’s had the drive to make the most.

 

40 Water Under The Bridge As Bryant Scores 27 Points In 28 Minutes

Kobe Bryant and Gordon Hayward both received lucrative contract extensions during the off-season.

The two battled during exhibition play with Bryant winning the personal battle, while Hayward’s Utah Jazz squad won the war, 119-86.

But that didn’t stop Bryant from jostling in the post with Hayward, once even drawing an offensive foul. As with Steph Curry a few nights earlier, he took on the challenge of fiercely harassing Hayward in a supposedly meaningless game.

Bryant played with purpose after being ranked ESPN as the 40th best-player.

“I’ve known for a long time that they’re a bunch of idiots,” said a wry smiling Bryant.

He continued to display excellent footwork and court savvy, including putting rookie Rodney Hood in the popcorn machine on a three-point play in the first quarter. He is effectively utilizing the screen-roll, and showed he can still get to the basket by driving past Hayward for a dish to Carlos Boozer.

“I would just hate to be one of the guys that doubted him,” Scott said. “I know he’s going to get stronger. I think he’ll have the last laugh.”

Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and Carlos Boozer had 17, but the Lakers couldn’t hit from beyond the arc, missing all five attempts.