One step at a time

Kurt —  May 6, 2006

The loss hurts tonight, knowing how close we were to the second round, but as the wound heals we must remember that this was a solid Laker season, with big steps made after the disaster of last year.

A course has been set, we’re a triangle team. The defense, which had its ups and downs this season, was still much better than the year before. Key guys learned the triangle and got better as the year wore on, with Lamar Odom being on the top of that list. Smush was a find, Kwame improved. Those two have shortcomings, which were exposed in the playoffs, but don’t take away from them what they did this season.

And, Kobe established himself as the leader of this team and the best player in the NBA.

If at the start of this season you had been offered a deal where this Laker team would win 45 games, and take the number two seed seven games in the first round, you would have been a fool not to take it. It’s hard to overstate how far this team came from the rudderless ship that was the franchise at the end of last season.

What we saw were some big first steps back to being great again. Keep watching with me this summer to see what the next steps will be – we’ll start talking about it Monday.

(By the way, all the things the Lakers did to the Suns in the first few games, but couldn’t later, are things the Clippers do better than the Lakers. The Suns may be lucky to get this to a sixth game,)

Kurt

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20 responses to One step at a time

  1. The kids put on a good show this season. If our young team can add a veteran or two, and if the least experienced guys (Smush, Sasha, Turiaf, Bynum) can continue to improve offensively and (more importantly) defensively, we’ll have a solid group next season.

    Imagine the Lakers playing all 82 games of 06-07 the way they played the last 20 games of 05-06 — 55 wins is not out of the question. Though they repeated the same mistakes over and over this season, hopefully they will learn from them in the offseason and come back stronger and smarter.

    If first-round series were still 5 games, Phil’s game plan and the team’s execution might’ve earned them an upset, but over the course of a 7-game series, the better team almost always emerges victorious (barring injuries, of course). Witness every other matchup, in which the team with the better regular-season record came out on top.

    As Stu Lantz said, the Lakers will be “haunted” by being one defensive stop away from Round 2 at the end of regulation in Game 6. But Phoenix just had too much firepower (and flopping) to go down in the end, especially on their home floor.

    I look forward to following the Lakers during the offseason on this blog and on other blogs and forums … come November, I think we’ll be in for another exciting year’s worth of posts and comments.

    GO LAKERS!

  2. Well said, Kurt. And kudos to you for a great site. Looking forward to next year.

  3. Namaste, Kobe Bean Bryant.

    I am a Los Angeles Lakers Fan.
    All hail the Forum Blue and Gold.

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more. At least we have another LA team to cheer for in the playoffs!

  5. it’ll be a tricky offseason. can the organization in its right mind trade chris mihm, committing itself to kwame brown as the starting center for the next couple years? i just don’t think you can do that. i doubt kwame still has much trade value.

    egh, i’m changing my mind on devean george i think. i was willing to look past his offensive inconsistency for his commitment to defens, his playoff experience, rebounding, and knowledge of the triangle.

    i’d look elsewhere first before resigning him… but who else is out there that’s a good perimeter defender? when you had linked to that list of free agents, no one popped out to me as someone who could fill his shoes and keep kobe freed up to focus his energy on offense.

    i hope jerry buss doesn’t go crazy because of this last blowout. they’re young. let em grow.

  6. It wss a wonderful season. Capped off by a tremendous performance by everyone in game 4. We still have a long way to go defensively in particular, but we’ve come a long way. And there’s hope.

    Found your website after 81, and I’d like to thank you for doing a great job.

  7. For the love of god, can’t any of you fucking get upset!?! We were up 3-1 and we lost! Argh!!!!!! Fucking A, show a little angst you prissy mother fuckers.

  8. This series could have been previewed with the first couple of games the Lakers played this year.

    Smush tore it up for 20 points, it looked like Kobe would have some help, people played hard on defense and made smart rotations, etc. then in the next two games Smush dropped under 10 points in both, the defensive effort was decidedly lacking, and nobody but Kobe could hit shots.

    This team was far too young and inexperienced to close out a series against a resilient, veteran team like the Suns no matter what the matchups. Kobe couldn’t be everywhere on the floor an it took one bad rotation and one missed rebound to drive the dagger straight into the hearts of everyone else.

    Smush, as loveable as the guy is and as gutsy as some of his plays were, is too incosistent right now. If he’s with us next year he has to step up his game to a nightly basis of hustle on defense and good, accurate shooting when you have those wide open looks. Otherwise, we need to start looking elsewhere for our PG answer. I’ll say if Fisher is still our PG we don’t lost this series.

    Kwame.. the poor kid just needs to catch the ball. He’s been so good too and has great flashes of brillance, but he makes those little mistakes that cost us possessions.

    If Smush can develop a consistent shot and Kwame holds on to the ball, we are a top 5 team in the West. If they can’t, we need to do some shopping. I think Walton, Odom, and Kobe is a fairly good trio to start building around, Bynum just needs some more time to develop like the rest of our young roster.

  9. it’s great to see how this site is becoming a big laker-fans comunity and i love it.

    people who was just reading your posts at the begining and later start commenting them and giving their opinions, thats great.

    by the way, what do you spect from the lakers for the next season? its time to recover from this loss and look forward the next season.

    good job on this site, Kurt, Gatinho and all the guy who comment regulary

  10. Kirk, you are clearly new to this site. What’s more, I’m not sure the tone here is really what you are looking for. There are plenty of other Laker sites out there with end-of-the-world wailing going on today, try them.

  11. chris henderson May 7, 2006 at 11:01 am

    well said Kurt, I also wanted to point out to Kirk that sure, of course we are all upset about this series loss, but we are also all aware that after the dismal season we had last year, the shake up the team went through, that none of us were expecting a championship this year. Phil stated, (and was amazingingly close) early in the year we might win about 45 games, and get into the first round with this line up. well, he was right. add to that this team peaked at the right time, and was 1 rebound away from making the second round, well, we all knew we were basically playing above our heads, call it a combo of luck, good coaching, or whatever, but we all knew Phx was a better team, that’s pretty obvious, we had some potential weaknesses, and did pretty well staying away from them for a better part of the series.
    The Lakers are not about throwing tons of money, (NY) to try to buy a championship for 1 year, and throw away a future. this was a rebuilding year, no doubt, and to end the season this well was remarkable. The Lakers are in a 3 year plan, the way I see it, add a few players this off season, we’ve all seen where we need upgrades, another year brings more familiarity to the players, let’s our young players grow with the veterans, and I’m fairly certain next year will be even better than this.
    Look at how many plays the Suns run where the pass is hitting the player in stride, (of course this is partly Nash’s skills, but he’s not the only player capable of this) they know each other much better, having several years playing together. so much of that is “timing plays” and “trust in your teammates” that comes from several seasons together. we have those windows of opportunity to make the same kind of passes, but if there’s just an ounce of hesitation, the window slams shut, next year, I believe we’ll see less hesitation, sharper passing, less turnovers, etc, resulting in a better team.
    Of course we are all upset at the loss, but most of us were also surprised we had such a solid performance at the end of the season, and in the first round. that, and we all know the Lakers have a tradition that’s all about winning, some years we should go all the way, this year, we knew it was going to be a year of growth, and from that perspective, they achieved their goal.

  12. Chris Mihm for Carlos Boozer. That’s what I would need if I’m going to consider trading Mihm. I would need a quasi-All Star at the 4 in return. I would posibly consider a PG, just b/c we need one so bad, but that probably wouldn’t be enough b/c the Lakers can’t afford to give up big for small like that … not if we’re going to stake ourselves to Kwame.

  13. I think everyone just needs to realize that Kwame developed leaps and bounds throughout the end of the regular season and the playoffs. His major problem is slowing down. He’s the wide receiver that starts running before he catches the ball. I think he will develop into that player. And the fact that he was able to play through the rape allegation is also something that we should commend. They pretty much have to trade Chris Mihm. They are commited to Kwame, and Chris and Kwame can’t play on the floor together. Also, Chris is the only player they are willing to get rid of with solid trade value. Smush has to go to the bench. He is not an NBA starter. We just have to be honest with ourselves about this one. If smush only had to play 20 minutes a night, I think he would be much more efficient. So next year the Lakers need to focus on getting some more shooters and some more rebounders. They also need a pace changing back up point guard. The balls in your court Mitch…

  14. I’m not yet sold on Kwame’s development. He had a good second half for Washington a couple years ago and then reverted back to bad-Kwame. Show me one full season of good basketball and I’ll become a believer. Until then, however…

    Bad-Kwame is a better defensive presence than Mihm and bad-Kwame has substantial upside on the offensive end.

    Right now, Mihm is the better offensive player, but I don’t think Mihm has as much upside defensively as Kwame has upside offensively. Mihm just doesn’t move his feet quickly enough to play great defense. Also, as between offense and defense I will take defense.

    Boozer and K-Mart would be my initial targets if I were in Mitch’s shoes. And unlike most people, I have faith in Mitch b/c I think he has done a good job over the past few years with the hand he’s been dealt.

  15. Remember peeps. As miniscule as this sounds in the big picture we do have Laron Profit returning next year. Believe it or not I really think that helps us more then you’d think…

  16. What does everyone think of Lamar Odom’s potential for the coming season(s)?

    I’ve seen a bunch of articles today calling him things like “a shrinking violet” and saying that he “regressed” in just one game.

    I mean, the man played like he was possessed since the All-Star Break, and he was a monster for most of this series.

    The knock on him has always been his lack of consistency and late-game gaffes and vanishing acts — both of which seem to have taken a turn for the better this season, Game 7 notwithstanding.

    Do you think that he can grow from this type of experience, which he’s really only faced once before (with Miami), or has he already been given enough chances to prove that he can be something more than just unfulfilled potential?

  17. Lamar has been a monster. Someone just needs to tie his left hand behind his back for an entire summer so that he can learn to make a right handed layup. If he had the ability to go right, he would be an unstoppable player in the post and off of the dribble. Lakers just need a Ben Gordon style shooter/scorer to knock down shots on the weakside of the triangle/overload…

  18. I didn’t realize that Nash completely destroyed Kobe in the MVP voting. Kobe had less than half of Nash’s votes, and finished a distant fourth. Wow. I thought the performance Kobe put on this season will be better remembered than what the other players did. That Kobe had the 2nd-most first place votes and yet finished forth suggests that if people didn’t vote for him for 1st place, they likely didn’t vote for him for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th either. I’m a little disappointed.

  19. What we learned in this series is that Kobe can trust his teammates to win games, but he can’t yet trust them to win a series. Unfortunately, Pheonix’s style of play preys off of missed jumpshots, which means that if Kobe were to try to take a game or two over, he would have to take to the hole everytime. When they collapse of him, can he trust Kwame to make a wide open dunk or catch the dish for that matter?

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