Archive for June 7th, 2010

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times reports:

Lamar Odom invisible early in Finals

Lamar Odom is not only one of the most genuinely good guys in all of Los Angeles sports, but also one of the most maddening. The Lakers need him, but, even after six years here, they don’t really know him. Even this spring, while he’s finally wearing one of their rings, they haven’t figured him out.

Is he the guy who finished so well against Oklahoma City, or who had trouble getting started against Utah? Is he the guy who went for 19 points and 19 rebounds against Phoenix or was he, as the Suns’ Amare Stoudemire said, just lucky?

So far in the Finals, he’s been neither. So far, he’s been less involved than Dustin Hoffman. With the series tied at one game apiece, he’s averaging four points and five rebounds in an average of 18 foul-ridden minutes per game.

From the moment one of Kobe Bryant’s passes bounced oddly off his chest in Game 1, Odom hasn’t been able to match the moment. Is his cluttered head there? Is his bruised body there? We know the Kardashian family is there, and that’s enough to make anyone lose his marbles.

Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald reports:

Ron Artest has been inconsistent, and Lamar Odom has been invisible. So, the Los Angeles Lakers have needed another player to step up in support of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

andrew bynum

Few expected it would be Andrew Bynum, but the Lakers center has been a major presence in the first two games of the Finals.

Bynum’s playing time had dipped significantly after he suffered a slight tear in his right meniscus in the first round against Oklahoma City, but he’s made a resurgence against the Celtics. The 7-footer is averaging 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks while shooting 62.5 percent from the field.

Bynum was a monster in the Lakers’ 103-94 Game 2 loss Sunday at the Staples Center, tying a career playoff-high with 21 points to go with seven blocks. He also logged a playoffs-high 39 minutes.

“I’m just out playing hard,” Bynum said. “I take my treatment and play hard. It is what it is with my knee. I’ve been telling myself that the whole playoffs.”

Hornets name Monty Williams head coach

The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have hired Monty Williams as the ninth head coach in franchise history. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not released. We’ll post details Tuesday.

“We wanted to make sure we interviewed all of the top candidates to get the best available coach on the market,” Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower said. “We feel like we succeeded with that objective and now that we have Monty on board, we can concentrate on helping him thrive by continuing to do whatever it takes to make this team better. Monty has all the qualities that we are looking for in a new head coach.”

“I am honored for this opportunity to be the Hornets head coach,” Hornets Head Coach Monty Williams said. “I have been fortunate to be around this game as a player and an assistant coach. I have had the privilege to play for and coach alongside some of the best coaches in this league. The Hornets have a first-class organization and team; this is the perfect opportunity for me. I am very excited to get started in New Orleans.”

Williams, a native of Fredericksburg, Va., comes to the Hornets after five seasons as the assistant coach under Nate McMillan of the Portland Trail Blazers During his time with the Blazers, he helped the team compile a 198-210 (.483) record. Known as one of the most promising young coaches in the NBA, Williams has been a key asset in developing some of the Blazers young talent. Over the last three seasons, the Blazers have compiled a record of 145-101 (.589), including two straight playoff appearances. A former swingman in the NBA, Williams is largely credited for the development of the young Blazers swingmen Nicholas Batum and Martell Webster, as well as former Blazer and current Los Angeles Clipper Travis Outlaw. Williams served as the head coach for the Blazers summer league team in the NBA Summer League in 2007 and 2008.

“Monty is an outstanding teacher, motivator of the game and one of the brightest young coaches in the NBA,” said Hornets President Hugh Weber. “His former coaches, who are among the best in the NBA, speak very highly of Monty. He teaches from experience and is a great developer of talent. We are extremely excited to add him to the Hornets family.”

Williams spent one season as a coaching intern under Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs during the 2004-05, helping the Spurs capture the NBA Championship that season. He was the head coach for the Spurs summer league entry team in the 2005 Rocky Mountain Revue.

“I am thrilled to have Coach Williams as our head coach and this season cannot get here fast enough,” Hornets point guard Chris Paul said. “He is one of the great young coaches in this league. Being a former player, he knows firsthand how the league works and he has played with and worked for some of the great talents in the NBA. I am really excited to be along in his first head coaching journey; he is a perfect fit for our team.”

Williams played in the NBA for 10 seasons before chronic knee problems forced him into retirement in 2003. Selected by the New York Knicks in the first round (24th pick overall) of the 1994 NBA Draft out of Notre Dame, Williams played for the Knicks, Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers. His best season was with the Spurs in 1996-97, when he averaged 9.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 65 games. Williams averaged 6.3 points in 456 career games.

Williams was an honorable mention All-American at Notre Dame after averaging 22.4 points and 8.4 rebounds during his senior season. He spent two years away from basketball (1990-1992) during college after being diagnosed with hypertropic cardiomyopathy, a rare condition of thickened muscle between the chambers of the heart. He earned a degree from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, majoring in communications and theatre.

The AP reports:

Somewhere during the second quarter in Game 2 of the NBA finals, Ray Allen slipped into that shooting zone only visited by real-life superstars and movie characters.

Ray Allen leads Celtics over Lakers in NBA Finals Game 2

With his fundamentally flawless jumper snapping crisply from his wrists, the Boston guard hit 3-pointers in dizzying bunches against the helpless Los Angeles Lakers. He made seven in the first half and finished with a finals-record eight 3’s in the Celtics’ 103-94 victory Sunday night.

Allen’s wry smile after he hit three straight 3-pointers in a two-minute span evoked memories of Michael Jordan shrugging his shoulders during his 35-point half against Portland in the 1992 finals. Even Jesus Shuttlesworth— you know, the sharpshooting kid Allen played in “He Got Game”—would have been proud.

The AP reports:

While Allen scored 27 of his 32 points in the first half with a record-setting 3-point shooting display, Rondo completed his fifth playoff triple-double down the stretch. Taking charge after Allen cooled down, the point guard racked up 19 points—including the quick-reflex basket that put Boston ahead for good—along with 12 rebounds and 10 assists…

Kobe Bryant scored 21 points while battling more foul trouble for the Lakers, who couldn’t catch up to Boston’s dynamic guards in Los Angeles’ first home playoff loss since last season’s Western Conference finals. Pau Gasol had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, and Andrew Bynum added 21 points and six rebounds.

The AP reports:

Andrew Bynum also had five fouls in between tying his career playoff high with 21 points and swatting seven blocked shots. Artest fouled out with 47 seconds remaining in the game.

Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 25 points, eight rebounds and six of their finals-record 14 blocked shots.

The AP reports:

Rondo made the go-ahead basket with 3:21 remaining, reacting quickly to a loose ball after Kendrick Perkins’ shot was blocked and putting it in to make it 91-90. He blocked Derek Fisher’s shot shortly after, then knocked down a huge jumper that extended the lead to 95-90 with 1:50 to play.

Allen powered the Celtics with seven 3-pointers and 27 points in the first half, but it appeared that would be wasted when he cooled off in the second half. Boston was getting nothing from its other big stars, as Pierce shot only 2 of 11 for 10 points and Garnett battled foul trouble and scored only six.

The AP reports:

Rondo hadn’t been as sharp recently as he was in the second-round stunner, battling a sore lower back after some hard falls in the Orlando series. But he played 42 minutes Sunday and appeared in good shape.

Suddenly, so do the Celtics.

“Anything I can do to help the team win is big,” Rondo said. “I take pride in my game and how I play the game.”

The Orange County Register reports:

The Lakers’ defense was so stout that it set an NBA Finals record with 14 blocks yet could not hold Boston off quite to the end. The Celtics shot 11 of 21 (52.4 percent) from the field to break a 72-72 tie entering the fourth quarter. The catalyst was Rajon Rondo, usually guarded by Kobe Bryant, and Rondo finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and one block.

The Lakers’ resolve was shaken when Bryant committed a charging foul for his fifth foul of the game with 11:15 still to play. Bryant’s foul trouble limited him to 34 minutes – five fewer than the sore-kneed Bynum, who again had to pick up slack left from Lamar Odom’s foul trouble – and the Lakers’ rhythm was profoundly affected by tilting too far toward Bryant when he was available…

Ron Artest  was 1 for 6 on 3-point shots and 1 for 10 overall from the field, offsetting his fine defense on Boston’s Paul Pierce. But Artest wasn’t as big a bust as Odom, who had said Saturday that “the most important thing” was for him to avoid foul trouble again.

Instead, the game knocked Odom on his heels right after he entered it. His first-half absence contributed to a 14-point deficit – double the Lakers’ largest deficit in a home game this postseason.

The Orange County Register reports:

The Lakers got strafed at the 3-point line but could have overcome it. They were outscored by 10 in the paint (and Rondo had much to do with it) even though they got early fouls on Garnett, Kendrick Perkins  and Glen Davis . None fouled out, and the Lakers wasted a precious 39-minute game from Andrew Bynum. He will have only one day of rest before Games 4 and 5.

The ball got to Bryant and stuck there far too much, and the Celtics rarely let him roam to the opposite side. He missed 12 of 20, with five turnovers and only three free throw tries.

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