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  #1  
Old 08-19-12, 04:24 AM
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Another reason why Lakers are favorites to win it all in June

Lakers' bench has gotten an upgrade - latimes.com


Remember when Lakers forward Robert Horry drilled that game-winning three-point shot in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference finals against the Sacramento Kings?

Or when Brian Shaw made those crucial three-pointers in Game 7 of the 2000 conference finals to bring the Lakers back from a 15-point, fourth-quarter deficit in a stirring victory over the Portland Trail Blazers?

Now think back to May of this year, when Steve Blake missed a wide-open, potential game-winning three-pointer in Game 2 of the conference semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder — a shot that was a microcosm of the dreadful year the Lakers' bench had.

But the worst bench in the NBA production-wise has improved markedly on paper in the off-season.

Gone are reserves Matt Barnes, Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy and Christian Eyenga.

The key new Lakers reserves are veteran forward Antawn Jamison and young guard Jodie Meeks, both signed as free agents.

Jamison, 36, has played 14 seasons in the league, but the two-time All-Star can still play. The 6-9 Jamison is versatile enough to play both power and small forward, and he averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 33 minutes a game last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Meeks, a 6-4 guard, averaged 8.1 points on 41.1% shooting, 37.1% on three-pointers, over his three-year career, and he started 50 of 66 games last season for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Lakers new bench may not rival the unit of Horry, Shaw, Rick Fox and Derek Fisher — Fox and Fisher eventually became starters — but this new group is a vast improvement over the 2011-12 crew that averaged only 15.6 points a game last season, last in the 30-team NBA.

Barnes led the Lakers' reserves, averaging 7.8 points on 45.2% shooting, 33.3% on three-pointers. Blake averaged only 5.2 points on 37.7% shooting, 33.5% from three-point range.

But just adding Jamison was an upgrade for the Lakers.

Getting Meeks to sign, and re-signing athletic forward Jordan Hill, made the Lakers' bench that much stronger. Hill came alive in the playoffs last spring, averaging 6.3 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.

Blake still is around, small forward Devin Ebanks re-signed and point guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark came over in the Dwight Howard trade.

"They'll either have Metta World Peace or Jamison coming off the bench, and that immediately makes their bench better," Phoenix Suns Coach Alvin Gentry said. "Then you throw in Jodie Meeks, which to me is like a great fit."

Jamison, 36, who signed a one-year, $1.4-million contract with the Lakers, has mostly been a starter. But he knows something about coming off the bench, and was the NBA's sixth man of the year in 2004 when he played for the Dallas Mavericks.

Meeks, who signed a two-year deal worth $3 million, turns 25 on Tuesday and will back up Kobe Bryant. Bryant, who turns 34 on Thursday, averaged 38.5 minutes a game last season, the most on the team.

"Compared to last year, this bench is a massive upgrade," Fox said. "But I don't know if you're going to see a lot of the bench. I don't know if the bench is going to be asked to do a lot because of the four All-Stars on the team."

Fox was referring to starters Bryant, Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.

Horry, Shaw, Fox and Fisher played major roles when the Lakers won championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Shaw recalled how Phil Jackson had a unique way of developing his reserves when he coached the Lakers.

"He kept the starting unit together in practice so they could develop a chemistry with each other," said Shaw, the associate head coach of the Indiana Pacers. "Then he kept the second team together so they could develop chemistry together. Then when it got to playoff time, Phil would take the eight or nine guys that were in the rotation down to his end of practice and develop that chemistry with the group that you're going to be out there on the floor with.

"But I think an accurate way to judge a bench is, do they lose the lead? Do they hold the lead or do they increase the lead? We did a good job of not losing leads and we had a calmness about us when we came off the bench."

And that will be the challenge for the Lakers' bench this season, as the team tries to make good on its position as one of the preseason favorites to win the championship next June.
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Old 08-19-12, 04:30 AM
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More from the LA TIMES:

San Antonio's recent edge over the Lakers was rooted in the smarts of point guard Tony Parker and center Tim Duncan, but Nash and Howard negate that advantage.

Miami's Big Three has been outnumbered.

San Antonio's savvy veterans have been outsmarted.

Oklahoma City's freakish athletes have been . . . well, let's not get ridiculous here.

The Lakers are not a perfect team, nor are they foolproof picks to win the 2013 NBA title just because Dwight Howard now graces a roster that also includes Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash.

But any bet on them to edge out top challengers involves smarter money than it did a few days ago.

With Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Lakers' four on floor shifts balance - latimes.com
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Old 08-19-12, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by SilverSpur View Post
More from the LA TIMES:

San Antonio's recent edge over the Lakers was rooted in the smarts of point guard Tony Parker and center Tim Duncan, but Nash and Howard negate that advantage.

Miami's Big Three has been outnumbered.

San Antonio's savvy veterans have been outsmarted.

Oklahoma City's freakish athletes have been . . . well, let's not get ridiculous here.

The Lakers are not a perfect team, nor are they foolproof picks to win the 2013 NBA title just because Dwight Howard now graces a roster that also includes Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash.

But any bet on them to edge out top challengers involves smarter money than it did a few days ago.

With Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Lakers' four on floor shifts balance - latimes.com
This writer seems to be forgetting that Miami made it's fair share of off-season moves.
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Old 08-19-12, 10:40 AM
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Miami are favorites to win it all.
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Old 08-19-12, 10:41 AM
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glad the LA Times could take time away from being bias to write this article
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Old 08-19-12, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Jose_TheGenius View Post
glad the LA Times could take time away from being bias to write this article
Objectivity is the name of the game when reporting the news .................well, yeah, sometimes. I don't know why I even made this comment, it left a foul taste in my mouth.
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Old 08-19-12, 12:26 PM
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We can bash the writer all we want, but we all know it will be LA and Miami in the Finals. And Stern with a hard on the whole time.
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Old 08-19-12, 01:35 PM
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I can't wait till Stern is gone. He is ruining this league.
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Old 08-19-12, 05:20 PM
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Lakers still and always will suck.
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Old 08-19-12, 10:07 PM
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Lakers still and always will suck.
I hope Cuban convinces Howard not to sign that extension in LA.
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  #11  
Old 08-20-12, 09:50 AM
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What the hell is a "Metta World Peace"? Never heard of that thing before!
What is it, some new sort of contraption?
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Old 08-20-12, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by xmas97 View Post
What the hell is a "Metta World Peace"? Never heard of that thing before!
What is it, some new sort of contraption?
Yes in moments of night charged, adrenaline flowing competitiveness, it tries to take your head off.
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  #13  
Old 08-20-12, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Uwe Blab View Post
We can bash the writer all we want, but we all know it will be LA and Miami in the Finals. And Stern with a hard on the whole time.
Wouldn't Stern would have allowed Chris Paul to go to the Lakers if he really cared about Lakers/Heat in the finals?
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Old 08-20-12, 11:30 PM
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Wouldn't Stern would have allowed Chris Paul to go to the Lakers if he really cared about Lakers/Heat in the finals?
CP3/Kobe/Bynum weren't taking them to the Finals, especially since Bynum isn't anything close to a pick and roller
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Old 08-21-12, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Jose_TheGenius View Post
CP3/Kobe/Bynum weren't taking them to the Finals, especially since Bynum isn't anything close to a pick and roller
Kobe/CP3/Howard would rival Miami's big three though and the Lakers would be setup for success for perhaps the next 6 or 7 years with CP3/Howard. Stern had a deal in front of him to make the Lakers better and he killed it. That tells me Stern doesn't want the Lakers to dominate, he wants to spread the wealth.

Last edited by maldoror; 08-21-12 at 12:16 AM.
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