The Lakers had a full practice today in Washington D.C. before heading off to meet President Barack Obama, and it sounds like Andrew Bynum had the one full hard practice he wanted before he steps back out on the court (via the LA Times Mike Bresnahan’s twitter account).
“I’m definitely playing tomorrow”
The Lakers take on the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center Tuesday night.
Bynum had knee surgery this summer but what was supposed to be a simple procedure ended up being more complex, meaning a longer recovery. Add in the usual slow healing of Bynum and you have him missing the first seven weeks of the season.
Without him the Lakers have been good but missing something on defense — Derrick Rose was slashing to the hoop with impunity last Friday night. When John Wall does it Tuesday night the 7’6” wingspan of Bynum will be there to alter and block shots. Bynum brings that and a real big body at the five which allows Pau Gasol to play his natural four, which makes the Lakers that much better (plus Lamar Odom goes to the bench and now that unit is better).
Nobody is rejoicing at the return like Gasol. Who likely will celebrate with a long soak in an ice bath. While in Texas Tim Duncan is barely getting into the fourth quarters of games and is getting a lot of rest early in the season, Gasol is playing more than 40 minutes in 8 of the last 10 Lakers’ games. If you don’t think that kind of rest can matter, remember the run the rested and healthy Celtics went on in the playoffs.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.
Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.
His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.
Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.