Open Thread – game 4

Kurt —  April 30, 2006

Rather than me providing more comments on game three, look for a comment this morning from Gatinho, who was in Staples Center Friday night.

Today may not be a classic must win but it can define this series – win and we can almost start printing “hallway series” tickets.

The last two wins certainly have brought a lot of mainstream media attention to the Lakers. The one theme you keep hearing over and over is along the lines of, “look how Kobe is sharing the ball now and the Lakers are winning, this is how they should have played all year.”

For those just coming to the Laker bandwagon, or just starting to get a good look at this team, know that said line of thinking is not a very accurate reflection of this season. The Lakers challenge of getting teammates involved in the offense was really a chicken-or-the-egg problem – Kobe didn’t fully trust them but they did little to earn that trust.

The rest of the Lakers were still learning the triangle and they weren’t confident, and the team’s execution of the triangle reflected that. Their spacing would be bad, their shots poor ones – or just missed despite a good look and when they got in trouble they’d throw the ball to Kobe with six seconds left on the shot clock and expect him to bail them out. Plus, during the grind of the regular season, they took quarters and nights off defensively.

Kobe, for his part, was willing to take on whatever load his teammates would not. His confidence can and did carry the team at times, but it also could get in the way of growth some nights. Ultimately, Kobe wanted to win more than anything, and for much of the season the best way to do that was for him to take over games and hope one other player would add some support. The perfect example of this is the 81-point game against Toronto – the Lakers were down 16 when Kobe took over that game. They ended up winning.

They needed to win those games, to get to the playoffs, but as the season progressed we saw more and more signs that the team was starting to get the offense, they became more confident. By the last dozen games of the season, the team had started to really hit its stride.

And that’s what we’re seeing against Phoenix, the more mature, confident Lakers that bring their defensive focus every night and are using the triangle offense to exploit the opponent’s weakness. Kobe is playing within that system. But to say they are doing because he is now sharing the ball is the overly simplistic and basically wrong answer.

As for game four, I’m curious to see what the Suns will try – they’ve tried to run, and the Lakers made the mistake of occasionally running with them in game three, but it was not enough. They’ve tried doubling in the post and on Kobe, but he’s passing out and the other Lakers are now hitting their shots. With the current Suns roster, I’m not sure what other bullets are left in D’Antoni’s gun.

Again, I’d say the two keys for a Laker win are not to run with the Suns – 94 remains the under/over for possessions in my mind. (So far, all three games have been under but the last one was 92 and the Lakers let the tempo pick up at times, something they can’t allow.) Also, they must continue to defend the three-ball, making sure those shots for the Suns are not clean looks.

The comments will be flowing; I’ll be in as much as I can (although I’ll be getting back to the house right about tip off). It is a Sunday, so fewer people may be online, but this has been fun and today could be one of the best Laker experiences in a while.



107 responses to Open Thread – game 4

  1. Thanks again for the thread, Kurt.

    I actually think shooting the three is one thing Phoenix has done fairly well this series (and the Lakers are still winning!). The Suns had one off game from 3 (game 2 where they shot 9 out 27) but overall they’re shooting their season average of 40% from behind the arc.

    The Suns’ rebounding, on the other hand, is atrocious. I was fiddling around with numbers over lunch today & the Suns offensive rebounding percentage during this series is 12%. That’s a steep drop-off from their regular-season average of 22.1%, which already was the worst in the league. They’re like a team of reverse Dennis Rodmans.

    P.S. I used the offensive reb. formula from Dean Oliver
    [OReb% = TmOReb / (TmOReb + OppDReb)]

  2. “Kobe has played that position (of floor leader),” Odom said. “You look at the Lakers’ success early in their championships, that was his role.” –

    Well said, Lamar. Commentators who say that we are seeing some sort of new Kobe Bryant in this series just don’t get it.

  3. I think we’ve already been quite over exactly why this strategy is working for the Lakers now when it didn’t work for them before. There is defenitely some truth to what Kurt says though – after missing the playoffs last year and trusting his teammates the way he did, Kobe knew that it would be up to him most nights if the Lakers were going to win. winning is winning – winning culture breeds winning.

    Yet the Suns seem to have been nearly taken apart before this series. Everyone was predicting Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, but I’m almost certain even Kobe can see the facts. The Suns two best interior defenders (really, their ONLY interior defenders) are out indefenitely? Brian Grant, their next in line is playing junk minutes because of an injury? How can we not take this ball inside?

    Name another team where Luke Walton could create such a mismatch. The kid’s got some great skills, but it’s hard to bring them out because of his position and style. Lamar Odom won’t have such an easy matchup ever again, the way he’s just abusing Marion night in and night out. He’s really blossomed into that 2 role. But with Kwame.. wow. If the Wizards ever expected they could get this consistently from the man, the way he’s been playing over the last two months has been amazing. the future looks bright for this team all of a sudden when there was darkness.

    But, everyone sometimes slips up on a few details.

    The Sun’s pourous perimeter defense allows for so much driving/kicking and drawing their bigs for nice interior passes.

    Kobe still commands a double team whenever he has the ball. Just the simple threat of Kobe is still enough and if they put single coverage on him at all, I think Phil won’t hesitate to let Kobe loose.

  4. “For the fact nobody expected us to be here, nobody expected us to do much in the series, they’ve really rallied around us, just going nuts because the people in the building, they believed in us. It’s more of an emotional attachment.”

    The Staples faithful really cut loose on Friday night. I was lucky enough to get a ticket and made the trek from SF, driving 900 miles in 30 hours. Not to get all Plaschke on you but…

    We cheered (and chanted) for Kwame, he found a home on Friday night.

    We really cheered when Rick Fox was shown on the jumbo-tron in the fourth quarter. He smiled and then raised a fist toward the camera adorned with a huge 2002 championship ring.

    We cheered when they showed Derek Fisher, who turned pink under his light brown skin. Embarrassed by the sentiment of thanks we rained upon him.

    I screamed until I thought I would faint, and I left my voice echoing off the hardwood.

    When you’re rooting for Goliath, fandom almost becomes a burden of expectation.

    When you are rooting for a 7 seed playing against the two time MVP, the payoff of a win brings tenfold elation.

    It is still too soon to say that we have seen the maturation of a team, but we can say that we have had our expectations surpassed. So far Phil Jackson and team have shown that they can do things the national and local media thought impossible. Here’s to continuing that trend today.

  5. notreallyimportant April 30, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    I’m waitin Gaitinho…

  6. Deen (previously known as WorthyTomahawk) April 30, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    Another thanks for the thread Kurt. I have decided give up my tribute to #42’s tomahawk jams and come back down to earth.

    Wholehearted agree with Josh, but i am a bit more worried about the Sun’s 3pt shooting. Tim Thomas is shooting 55% from 3pt range off of many PnR switches with Nash. Kwame doesn’t come out to cover the shot so somebody else has to.

    Also, some worries about Odom’s ankle (ouch).

    Keeping my fingers crossed here on the other coast.

  7. Awesome report, Gatinho. Good vibes with both Fox & Fish in the house. Must have been incredible to be in Staples with the crowd that alive. Nice “commute” to Staples, too.

  8. Oh no…they’re calling everything!

  9. Josh, that’s some great stuff. I hadn’t looked at that. More of the kill them inside theory.

  10. Where, where are the rotations on Nash after he beats Smush? The Suns seem to be spreading the floor even more to create space for Nash, but we can’t just give up uncontested layups.

    And Kwame, keep Thomas off the boards.

  11. Deen (previously known as WorthyTomahawk) April 30, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Odom’s ankle looks fine. So does Tim Thomas’ knee. Its going to be a dogfight. I expect Nash to score over 30!


  13. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    with Kobe and lamar out with 2 fouls, we look lost, Smush miss’s a 3, they get a layup, smush turnover, another layup…slow it down til we get some leadership

  14. They are calling this tight, I wonder if that is a league-wide edict after all the physical games of late?

    Smush is just not goode as the initiator of the tri.

  15. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    ok, end of the 1st qtr, survived some early foul trouble, gotta get control of the pace of the game…
    kwame droped a pass, gotta get him back in the flow, go to him some more.
    Lamar can own the boards with this team.
    I sure hope the refs don’t become a factor in this game…let ’em play..
    it’s the playoffs! dammit!
    ..unless there is some kind of conspiracy goin’ on..

  16. So they’re deciding to take it straight at us now and I think that has A LOT to do with us not getting inside on our end as much. It’s all about wearing them down, wearing them down. That’s the only way to win against this team because there is no knockout punch, there’s only end game descisions.

    (Yes I realized I may have said something different in earlier threads).

  17. Deen (previously known as WorthyTomahawk) April 30, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    Nash and Marion sitting without any foul trouble – what is D’antoni thinking?

    Go second unit!

  18. Deen, you’re always welcome to hide your identity here (how to you think I get Jerry Buss as a commneter. Kidding), but nice to know your name.

  19. You know…if this is league wide…this is BS. What else is playoff basketball?

  20. D*mn you Raja (a la john stewart)

  21. I think Raja and Martin Scorsese have the same number of Oscarrs.

  22. Rajing Bell?

  23. Kwame is playing like Tyson Chandler – too bad there is no low post scoring threat to be guarded.

  24. This is Kwame’s worst offensive game of the series. With Kobe out he has not stepped up.

  25. If you can’t see this team needs Kobe as a leader…the nothing will convince you.

    Speaking strictly as a fan…I can now defintely see why it’s STUPID to have the refs take out your star players…

  26. Another minute & we can breathe a bit easier (assuming #24/#8 doesn’t get whistled up early in the 3rd quarter).

    At least the Suns are missing a bunch of shots here in the 2nd. And I do mean missing…Lakes defense is flimsy compared to earlier games.

  27. Does anyone know who the guy in the hat always sitting next to Jack is?

  28. Just how badly did the Boris Diaw/Tony Parker high school team dominate every other team in France? Who could have stopped them?

  29. I’ve wondered who that guy is too?

  30. Lou Adler. Longtime record exec. (If that’s the guy I think you guys are talking about.)

  31. I have non Laker fan friends who called me to settle a $200 bet that it was Donald Sutherland.

  32. Yeah. I knew he was a producer but couldn’t remember what industry.

  33. I’ll take a 41 point half from Phoenix anytime.

  34. 42 first half possessions and the Suns had a true shooting percentage of just 46.6%. Do that again for another half, with Kobe in the game, and I think we win.

  35. Wait, wait — who’s collecting the $200? Are you out $200, Gatinho?

    Tony B. — yeah, me too. Things seem to have slowed in the 2nd quarter so that’s a good sign.

  36. Excellent Pos. #. Well on the way to going under that 94 over/under.

  37. NO…

    I knew better than that.

  38. Not many PGs in the league not named kidd can guard nash. Wonder if Sasha does a better job than Smush…

  39. The give away shirt at the game on Friday was a black Tee with only the team photo form the press guide on the front. Logo on the back. The message being sent was subtle but effective.

    Yes I scored one. Yes I’m wearing it right now.

  40. If I have to see that Vince Carter, T mobile commercial again I dont know what I’ll do.

  41. Did ABC hire some Fox execs? What is with the “let’s scare America” bird flu movie? I may forget to set tthe TiVo….

  42. Vince Carter is the new Applebee’s guys from March Madness.

  43. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 3:03 pm

    lou adler also produced “the Rocky Horror Picture Show”

    what is Smush…?…like O for 20?

    I’ve liked some of Smush’s “going to the hole” play last game, but it seems like he din’t BRING IT today.
    I’m hoping to see a free agent pick up in the point guard catagory this off season…I think Smush could be great off the bench.

    friggin refs, hope they ease up on the silly fouls in the second half, hate to see them have some outcome in the game

  44. Was that Kwame with a smart hustle play!!!!!!!

    :dies of shock:

  45. Smush is 0-7. Give him the halftime feature and it goes to his head….

    Smart move going with Sasha to start, Phil was trading off toward the end of the season with the hot player, he should keep that up

  46. Hell just froze over…

  47. And then promptly unfroze….

  48. Smush and Kwame, who have had a good series so far, are 4 of 17 combined in this game.

    STill, I just have this feeling the Lakers will pull this one out. Somehow.

  49. Suns have 10 more points in the paint than the lakers – ouch.

  50. What is with the dam skip pass when Kobe is doubled? Swing the ball around.

    And Cook is getting worked by Thomas. As off as he’s been we need Kwame back in there.

  51. Pretty much every player I have ever hated on has come up huge in the last two games, Devean pretty much was the last man on the list

  52. Gump shows up!!!

  53. Devean George: “Oh yeah — I exist!”

    The man was part of three championship teams himself. Hopefully he can keep it up for the next 9 minutes and make up for poor showings by Smush and Kwame (who were somewhat due to have one).

  54. What is the crowd chanting?

  55. Good ?

  56. Time out please!!!

  57. No is helping kobe out of the double teams!

  58. Suns interior passing cannot get better than its been in this qtr.

  59. I feel Kobe time coming on!

  60. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 3:56 pm


  61. Gentlemen, I believe we might need to see the debut of Odom time at the end of this game

  62. I don’t think Odom has the confidence to close out games ie the offensive fouls

  63. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 4:06 pm

    unbelieveable, we got it back to 1 pt, they get off another trey…
    we’ll i gotta say, we’re hanging tough, cause you know phx is playing for their lives, and at least we’re right there with them, I can’t see us getting blown out in any other games, this will be a 7 game series
    (unless we pull off a miracle, then we’ll win it in 6 at home)

  64. Oh. My. God.

  65. I don’tt berlieve what I just saw!!

  66. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    holy sh*t!

  67. *gurgle*

  68. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    7 tenths…come on baby..hold em!

  69. Quite possibly the best advice given to me after that shot was given by the FBG website when i could barely type coherently:

    Slow down cowboy.

  70. more specfically: Sorry, you can only post a new comment once every 15 seconds. Slow down cowboy.

  71. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    OT baby..I thought we fouled them on that inbounds play, so glad they didn’t call that one

  72. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    so, they won’t have marion, we have kobe, smush and a few others in foul trouble…i hope we can play with all our players, and no fouls in the OT

  73. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    I waitined 15 seconds before sending that last one

  74. My oh my how much did i miss the playoffs last year

  75. Come on swing the ball into the post guys

  76. We are switching too much and running the shot clock too close.

  77. Odom, you have got to step up, and get him the ball inside!

  78. i can’t believe what i’m watching

  79. That would be ripping your heart out!!!!

  80. what a will to win this young team has!

  81. The whole apartment complex just went nuts!

  82. Special thanks to walton and smush for the unbelievable stops!! What a close game – the basketball gods are smiling on us.

  83. Before the end of the 4th I saw people leaving in the front couple of rows, imagine leaving this game before the end of the 4th just so you could save 10 minutes leaving the parking lot

  84. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    some one tell me again please…
    who is this years MVP???

  85. There’s so much you can say about what this series is showing. You can talk about Nash and the Sun’s inability to perform when it matters. You can talk about this young Laker team playing the best ball we’ve seen them play. You can talk about how Jackson is coaching circles are D’Antoni.

    But it all comes down to one man who has lift over any defender in the league. One man who makes those shots every year now, whether it’s a three to send it into OT or the game winner.

    The closer.
    The Mamba.
    In the 4th quarter, Melo WHO?

    It’s all number 8 (24).

    Fuck hockey this year, nothing beats the NBA.


  86. That would be the FBG Open Thread, where the lakers are now 3-0 when it is open

  87. Kurt —

    Keep these open threads going forever!

    (P.S. I hope your daughter doesn’t get the wrong first impression of her Dad as a screaming lunatic thanks to these Lakers … 🙂

  88. AM, what do you mean “wrong” impression. 😉

  89. WOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

    Amazing. A-effing-mazing. I love LA!

  90. of all the games NOT to do a post-game interview/chat/whatever, they picked the best game of 2006.

  91. I’m dying to see this on Sportscenter.

    Hell I’m dying to hear people talk about this game. Wonder what Charles and Magic have to say.. sometimes I just hate living in Vancouver (don’t really get the EC games).

  92. If only the Pistons didn’t exist, then I’d be willing to get way ahead of myself and think about a Laker title

  93. notreallyimportant April 30, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    Kurt, I think you need to write a few paragraphs right after each game, to kind of sum things up. Although in this case John from Vancouver did an excellent job.

  94. chris henderson April 30, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    every game in this series has left me totally exhausted.
    wow, what a series, each game…unbelievable…and this one, undoubtedly, was the biggest, most exciting game of the year…wow…is all I got to say.
    and oh yeah, smush redeemed himself by a solid showing at the end, I gotta give him credit for playing tough til the end.
    and we wouldn’t have won this game, with out the great contributions of Luuuuuuukke!

  95. Lakers win…and my wife and I….uh…..celebrate…..Lord I love being married!

  96. My wife and 1.5 year daughter are so scared of daddy jumping up and down that they retreated into the bedroom during overtime.

  97. Just watched the jump ball again and Diaw does not come close to calling the TO in time. He calls it right as the ref is calling the jump ball.

  98. Understatement of the year comes from Kurt in his game 4 preview:

    “…and today could be one of the best Laker experiences in a while.”

  99. Notreally, I’ve thought about that and wanted to do it during the playoffs, but today situations at home made that almost impossible. I’m going to try on Tuesday.

  100. Kobe on the Staples crowd:
    “It’s a lot crazier now than in the past. The fans in the building are the ones who stuck with us. We went on this journey together and when people are not expecting us to do much, they rallied around us even more.”

  101. oh wow. just discovered this blog and im thrilled it exists. amazing game today. i couldn’t stop screaming, watched Kobe’s last shots on NBA broadband over and over and still got chills. can’t wait for the hallway series!

  102. Everyone not in LA knows what they saw. FIX.

  103. The game was amazing. The outcome given the situation was so improbable. Yet it happenened. The game was a classic and a defining moment for Kobe, Smush and Odom – it was a crash course in playoff experience and the Suns have to wonder what they have to do to win.