Lakers Still 'Lucky' Against Setting Suns
Well, maybe the last 10 of them.
In 1960, the Minneapolis Lakers moved after having won five titles in the 1950s. They could have gone somewhere like Schenectady, NY or Des Moines, Iowa.
But, no, they moved to Los Angeles. And all those star big men eventually came to sunny Southern California through free agency (Shaquille O'Neal) or trade requests (Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
Evidently, they're just perpetually lucky out here (it is called the City of Angels). After all, why else would Phoenix forward Amar'e Stoudemire say Lakers forward Lamar Odom was "lucky'' in grabbing 19 rebounds in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals?
In Wednesday's Game 2, the big statistic was guard Kobe Bryant handing out a career playoff-high 13 assists in the Lakers' 124-112 win, which gave them a 2-0 series lead. While no Phoenix player was heard to say Bryant was lucky, wasn't he? After all, look at all the guys who somehow made shots after Bryant passed the ball.
There was another Lakers guard who once handed out a lot of assists. Of course, there was luck involved with him, right?
"They got lucky,'' said Suns forward Grant Hill, looking back on the Lakers drafting Magic Johnson No. 1 in 1979 after having gotten the pick three years earlier as compensation for the New Orleans Jazz signing aging guard Gail Goodrich. "I'm still surprised they got Magic. How did that work? How did they get Magic and (fellow perennial power) Boston got (Larry) Bird?''
Nice to see Hill was able to joke a bit about Stoudemire's ridiculous remark on Tuesday, when he said of Odom, "I'm not giving him no hype. He had a lucky game in Game 1.''
Grabbing a lot of rebounds in the physical NBA is not exactly something that would be called "lucky.'' Now, perhaps Odom was lucky he happened to grow to 6-foot-10, which certainly helps in cleaning the glass.
Odom totaled 17 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday. But on this night Stoudemire said he wasn't lucky.
"He played well,'' Stoudemire said. "He did a great job off the bench. He's giving that team a lift off the bench. That's something that they needed, and he's giving it to them.''
On Wednesday, it was evidently a gritty lift Odom provided. On Monday, just a lucky lift.
If Stoudemire looked around, he could find plenty more on the Lakers that is luck. There's another tall guy who really has been hurting Phoenix. And 7-foot center Pau Gasol, who scored a game-high 29 points in Game 2, admits he's lucky to be scorching the Suns.
"I would say luck for me was that I was traded to the Lakers rather than somewhere else,'' said Gasol, who, since arriving Feb. 1, 2008 from Memphis, is on the verge of helping the Lakers to a third straight NBA Finals. "Obviously, it was great. I couldn't ask for anything else.''
Well, he could have asked for more. Gasol only grabbed 10 rebounds Wednesday. He didn't luck out and get 19.
But while Gasol said rebounding is not luck, he does remember once hitting a shot at the halftime buzzer just inside the halfcourt stripe.
"That was luck,'' he said.
Seems there's a lot of lucky guys now on the Lakers. Forward Ron Artest recalled a shot he made while with Sacramento from 2005-08.
"I was playing against (guard) Steve Blake, and I went to the hole on a fast break and turned around and spinned it off the glass, and it went in,'' Artest said. "That was lucky. What (Odom) did wasn't.''
Hold off on all those wisecracks about how lucky Artest was in making 3-of-6 3-pointers Wednesday after having hit just 13 of 57 previously in the playoffs.
As for Stoudemire, his "lucky'' comment has gotten ample publicity. HIll cracked that this deep in the playoffs "every time you sneeze, every time you break wind, it seems like it's reported.''
it hasn't helped Stoudemire's cause that he's averaging a whopping 4.5 rebounds in the series, about half his regular-season mark of 8.9. Even some of his teammates have been rolling their eyes about Stoudemire's word choice in describing Odom's big game.
"I think he was kind of mad the way we lost the first game and for some way, some reason he said that,'' said guard Leandro Barbosa. "But I don't think it was like that. I think Lamar had a great game, and is doing a great job in both games.''
So it wasn't luck Wednesday when midway through the first quarter Derek Fisher missed a layup on a fast break and Odom, because he had hustled down the court, got the rebound and converted a layup?
"It's just not there,'' said a stone-faced Odom when asked if he can find any humor in Stoudemire's "lucky'' comment.
Heck, even Bryant, always Mr. Super Serious during the playoffs, had some fun with it. When asked about the second straight double-figure rebounding game by "Lucky Lamar,'' Bryant said with a grin, "Very fortunate to have him.''
Then again, with all those lucky assists Bryant had Wednesday, it was no wonder he was in a good mood.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson