Notes at 3 am

Kurt —  May 3, 2006

Welcome to the newest feature here at FB&G, a column largely constructed, and typed one handed, in the middle of the night while up with my two-week-old daughter. There will be basketball notes plus thoughts on other stuff, including what’s on television in the middle of the night (Girls Gone Wild!). Expect to see this semi-regularly until my daughter starts sleeping through the night.

Update: Raja Bell has been suspended for game six.

• The line that keeps popping into my head is from Tripper Harrison: “It just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter…”

The Lakers need to put that last game behind them and move on, including dwelling on the foul and whether or not Raja Bell is around for Thursday’s game. There are certainly lessons to be learned and adjustments to be made. However, a key problem was one we saw all season — when Kobe and Odom were slowed, other guys didn’t step up. Guys who stepped up early in the series wilted. Kwame became a non-factor defensively after the early calls. Smush suddenly had alligator arms on his shots (his eFG% in the last two games is 21.1%). The Suns have worked to take Kobe and Odom out as much as they can, which means everyone else needs to take advantage. Those guys need to put the off-games behind them — it just doesn’t matter.

I’m sure today, Phil is oh-so-gently reminding the team they need to get back to what they did in the first three games — pound the ball inside, pound the offensive glass, don’t turn the ball over, play smart, rotate on defense and slow the pace — and they can win.

Do that and what happened in Phoenix just won’t matter.

• Should Raja Bell be suspended? I think so, but I’m biased. The problem is Stu Jackson has not drawn a definitive line this postseason — how the hell was Reggie Evans only fined $10,000? What he did was far worse than the Artest elbow that got a suspension. So who knows. If the Lakers play their game it won’t matter anyway.

• Good point last night from Deen in the comments:

One last comment on turnovers this game …
Offensive fouls: Lakers=4, Suns=0.
Traveling calls: Lakers=5, Suns=0.
…that’s 9 possessions lost.

For some perspective TOTALS from first 4 games …
– offensive fouls: Lakers=11, Suns=11
– travels: Lakers=2, Suns=6

So the avg is 3 off fouls and 1 travel per game per team. Did the Suns defense get that much better this game?

• One interesting thing looking at the game flow — the Suns five starters all had positive +/- numbers, all the bench guys were negative. D’Antoni just leaned more on his starters, which why a few fouls (or a suspension) could be big next game. Back at Staples, the call pendulum should swing the other way again (it’s almost never in the middle).

• Damn I love Ronny Turiaf!

• Also, with all the talk about how well the Lakers did on the offensive glass in the first four games, the Lakers gave up 12 offensive boards last night.

• For a great breakdown of the series (prior to game 5), check out this piece from friend of the site Kevin Pelton (first posted in the comments last night).

• Just finished reading Bacchus and Me by Jay McInerney (he of Bright Lights, Big City fame), and if you are a wine lover I highly recommend it, otherwise it’s not for you. My only complaint was I read large chunks of it while in the hospital with my wife for a few days, and this book is about a guy drinking the world’s finest wines paired perfectly with the food from the best restaurants in Manhattan. I’d finish a chapter then have to go down to the hospital cafeteria and pick out the least objectionable meal for my dinner. That killed me.

• I’m pretty much set on my Kentucky Derby picks, which I will post Saturday morning (something of a tradition at my blog, at least in my mind). Two of the last three years, if you boxed an exacta with my three picks, you would have done well. Of course, just like the Bushwood Country Club, we do not encourage gambling.

• By the way, if you didn’t read Seabiscuit (you should) and think the life of a jockey is easy, check out this good piece on ESPN.com. Those guys are athletes of a high order, and totally fearless.

Kurt

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