Lakers/Suns Thoughts

Kurt —  May 5, 2006

Just a short collection of thoughts as we work our way toward game seven. My mood remains pretty sour about that loss.

• Early in this series we were all praising Phil Jackson for the job he did. Well, credit Mike D’Antoni, who made a few tweaks to what the Suns were doing that worked, and it is the Lakers who have been unable to counter them.

• One way to counter them, something I brought up and was echoed in the comments — we need to give Nash new looks on the pick-and-roll. The Lakers have done basically the same thing all series, and he and D’Antoni have made the adjustments. The Lakers need to trap him a few times, show once in a while, just change things up so he doesn’t automatically know what’s coming. The Lakers are acting afraid of his passing skills — they need to respect them but not play so much on their heels.

• Note to Luke Walton: When you have Steve Nash covering you in the post — take it to the hole! What was with shooting fade aways over him last night?

• Smush has been exposed in this series, as tends to happen in the playoffs. That possession in the last minute where he took the shot was one of the worst all game and completely out of the flow of what the Lakers had been doing. As Deen noted yesterday, he has a true shooting percentage of 42% in the series, his confidence is currently shaken and that is hurting the Lakers because they are now doubling off him and, when the passes come, daring him to shoot. Point guard remains this team’s most pressing off-season need.

• All the Lakers have become sloppy with the ball, reacting slowly to the doubles and making risky passes at times. Kobe was part of that, with 7 turnovers last night (what was with the long outlet over Odom’s head?). If one thing needs to change to win game seven, this is it.

• I had a casual conversation with Frank Burleson of the Press-Telegram today, the most basketball knowledgeable scribe in the area (scouts call him and ask his opinion). This, like I said, was a casual group conversation, but here were his two thoughts: 1) tempo is everything and the Lakers are not disrupting the Suns tempo now; 2) he’s amazed how much Kwame has improved this season. That’s just something to remember after a night where his Roberto Duran impression was hard to watch.

• Quick Eastern Confrence thought: While everyone is doing the “Shaq is back” thing today, I keep thinking that the Nets are really a better version of the Bulls, who gave the Heat some trouble. The Nets are far superior on the perimeter than the Heat (despite Wade) and the question is can Shaq counter that enough to win four games. I’m not sure he can.

• This series is not over, the Lakers have proven they can win in Phoenix. They played no defense and still almost won last night. Just like all season long the key is not Kobe but the rest of the players — they are the ones that need to step up, to prove they are ready for this stage. That is what will determine who plays the Clippers come Monday.

to Lakers/Suns Thoughts

  1. Great analysis of the Lakers problems over the last few games. The best one is the lack of adjustments by the Laker coaching staff in Game 4, 5 and 6. If Smush is going to pout, they simply can NOT play him in Game 7. He is going to kill the Lakers.

    Also, as the playoffs have proven, if you have guys like Smush Parker and Chucky Atkins as your starting points guards, advancing in the playoffs is very difficult.
    Biggest Laker need this off-season is a PG who can shoot the J.


  2. chris henderson May 5, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    …and play the D (point guard, that is)


  3. I know phil hates to breakup 1st and 2nd units, but maybe we could throw the suns a curveball by playing…


    …that way when Nash/Diaw execute the screen & roll the speed/size mismatch between Sasha/Luke won’t be as debilitating as Smush/Kwame.


  4. I think one of the big problems and something im wondering about, but too lazy to look up the stats on, is the difference between Raja Bell and Leandro Barbosa on the offensive end.

    Obviously, the Suns had no answer for Kobe on the defensive side of the ball. I think the difference offensively for the Suns with Barbosa on the floor vs. Bell was HUGE in game 6…So D’Antoni is faced with a bit of a dilemma in game 7…is it more valuable to keep speed and offense on the floor with Barbosa, or do you want Bell on the floor for his defense and lose some of that speed?


  5. chris henderson May 5, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    I agree, we got clobbered on those pick and rools exposing Kwame trying to stop nash… (or Cookie for that matter)
    I like the concept of keeping the most aggressive players on the floor…
    and I’ve been saying this all season, Smush has a tendency to pout after a bad call, or a miss, or he holds the pose after he hits a shot, (been a while) all the while the Suns are blazing back on their end.
    Smush needs some off season time to ponder how hungry is is and will be next year.


  6. With Bell back in for game 7, Kobe should be able to double on the pick and roll more. Bell just isnt the offensive threat Barbosa is.


  7. notreallyimportant May 5, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    I will be very dissapointed if Smush gets the start, He is bringing absolutely nothing to the table that Sasha is not, and Sasha clearly wants it much much more.

    Giving Devean the start could be a great confidence booster, get him into a rythym early.

    The if the Lakers just slow it down they will have a better than even chance of winning, I just hope Raja doesn’t get Kobe into fould trouble by flopping all over the place.


  8. Two words for next season… Speedy Claxton. I enjoyed the “manos de piedra” reference.


  9. chris henderson May 5, 2006 at 9:10 pm

    you know guys…who the f*@k is this John R guy?
    I mean I like some good banter, but I am really getting tired of his BS…
    I left him a few comments in yesterdays thread, and I’m writing this in case he misses it. I didn’t see his reply about the “verbal flopping” until tonight. I was at work today, and a little too busy to follow the board.
    llike I said, if he actually made a decent point, and didn’t just go about calling folks idiots because he assumes they said one thing or another…
    reminds me of a bad relationship I once had trying to be a step father to a very arguementative teenager…wow, that was tough!


  10. I personally blame myself for the losses. Games 2-4 my ass was firmly implanted on my favorite chair with my laptop nearby talking to the FBG faithful. Games 5 and 6 I decide to be sociable in case of ensuing celebratory needs. Lets just say for game 7 I will be working on my ass groove talking to anyone who can stop by


  11. Smush will definitely start. That’s just Phil Jackson: he’ll leave his guys out there to win OR lose. He’s not the type of coach to make rash substitutions, even when EVERYONE in the building (including Phil) knows that player A (Smush) or player B (Kwame) is killing the team . That’s why he doesn’t call timeouts when the team is in trouble. He let’s the players sort things out. He LETS them fail.

    But, that’s also why his teams tend to be so mentally tough. Think about the 1999-2004 Lakers teams. They never get rattled. They never quit.

    It’s a trial by fire. But those who survive are generally hardened by the process. We’ll see how Smush and the Lakers respond.


  12. Oh, and I don’t really buy the ‘tempo is everythin’ argument. Phoenix didn’t run much last game–they’ve been more concerned with limiting our offensive rebounds.

    However, they were in a total comfort zone at the offensive end since they could basically just run one play over and over and over again. Namely, the pick and roll with whoever Kwame is guarding. It leads to Nash torturing Kwame off the dribble, or a big posting up Smush.

    That one play lead to easy bsket after easy basket after easy basket.
    As far as I’m concerned, that’s the most important concern strategically.


  13. 4. Big Game, the Suns offense has been 4 points er 100 possessions better with Barbosa than Bell, although I agree it seemed like more than that.

    12. I think Tempo is important, but it’s part code for pounding the ball inside and doing the things that take the Suns out of their agressive style. The last game was not a crazy temp (I think less than 90 in regulation), but the looks the Suns got in the half court were still too good. Which brings us back to defending the pick and roll….


  14. notreallyimportant May 5, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    They ran in OT, and that is when th4ey blew us out.


  15. How about this lineup for key moments: Kobe (on Nash), Devean (on Bell), Walton, Odom and Kwame. That should lessen the switching problems on the pick and roll, and create huge problems for the Suns to match up with size wise.


  16. Someone please give Kwame back his mojo!

    Someone tell Smush he can play.

    Someone tell someone that Tim Thomas can shoot.

    Someone please, please foul Steve Nash hard enough that he feels it.

    Someone tell Phil to show the tapes of games 2 & 3 when the Lakers played some D.

    Then tell the whole damn team that it’s the Suns that are soft, not vice-versa.

    Game 7 time boys, the heart attack kids are back.

    I guess it’s rediculous to get worked up over this current edition, being as they are newbies to this whole playoff thing. What can I say, I’m still bleeding that purple (f.b.) & gold and looking for a Lakers sack check.


  17. Tempo is important in that it limits the Suns’ possesions. This is especially key when the Suns are in the bonus and the Lakers are fouling them with 15+ left on the shot clock.


  18. Made it out of the wilderness (on a field trip with my students) long enough last night to cruise into Santa Barabara and watch with my brother. Do we still have a foul to give?

    Losing to the Suns is tough, but where the hell are the basketball gods to let Tim T be the guy in this series? His karma just ran over my dogma.

    Live by the switch, die by the switsh. Is a doulbe ever going to come when we a little on a big?

    I like the lineup, Kurt. It makes for more interchangeable parts.