Lakers/Suns Game 1 Chat

Kurt —  April 22, 2007

If you want some additional last minute series preview, let me point you to three quality things.

First is Nate Jone’s thoughts at the NBA Fanhouse. Second is The Basketball Jones podcast (which features me, so I think it’s brilliant). Third is the alway erudite and insightful Bethlehem Shoals writing the Deadspin preview.

And one more quick thought: The Phoenix player that scares me the most in this series is Barbosa.

All right, enough with the previews, let’s tip it off. I’ll be here commenting through the game.



82 responses to Lakers/Suns Game 1 Chat

  1. Kurt, your Deadspin preview link above goes to Jones’ site.

  2. Thanks Matt, fixed.

  3. If Phil is saying he’s not sure if this team can win it, is he serious or is it motivation? Maybe a little of both.

  4. Hey does anyone know of any fellow Lakers fans in the San Luis Obispo area who might want to get together to watch a game? Just moved here & don’t know any other Lakers fans.

  5. That three by Marion is exactly what the Lakers can’t do, Nash gets into the lane and three Lakers go to them, so an open three for Marion. Next trip down another open three in transition, the Lakers just got lucky.

  6. Farmar directing Kobe to post up Bell, very nice. As is the three point play for Kobe.

  7. Lakers doing a good job early on the offensive glass. And a solid job defensively.

    A little more Kobe than maybe I’d hoped for, but if they are going to be lazy with the help on him….

  8. Haha Kurt, everytime I get up to type something you’ve already said it..I know that most people think that if Kobe does all the scoring then LA has no chance but if you’re going to give him those types of shots then i’ll take his 120 points happily

  9. I wasn’t sure we’d see these Lakers early, but we are — doing everything they need to on defense. Then going at the mismatches on offense, which has been Kobe singled a lot on Bell. More Lamar would be nice.

    And Farmar has been great.

  10. Agreed re: Farmar. He did about as good as you can hope for, especially considering it’s a rookie versus a potential three-time consecutive league MVP.

    Interesting that Phil brought in Smush to guard Barbosa. Earlier in the year, the rotation had Smush starting on Nash, Farmar to use his speed with Barbosa, and Sasha on Nash depending on how Smush was faring.

    Farmar’s starting obviously changes all of that.

  11. Marc Jackson just mentioned it as I typed, the Suns are switching to the hard double on Kobe, getting guys on him fast. Now he has to do a better job as the distributor than he did on those last two possessions.

    I’ll take quarters like that all day long….

  12. Can we put the game so far into some kind of capsule and send it to a lab to have it replicated and stored for future use??

    Odom is aggressive, Bynum is finishing strong, and the Suns look disjointed on offense. We’ve seen this season’s Lakers do this for parts of games — they need to keep it up for the full 48.

    This is the playoffs, there’s no game tomorrow, and Phoenix has everything to lose in this series. Play loose and leave it all on the pine.

    (FWIW, I started writing this before the little offensive lull a few minutes into the 2nd)

  13. I said I was worried about Barbosa…..

  14. Phil actually called a timeout before things got out of hands. Color me impressed!

  15. damn Odom, close on the thee…

  16. I still don’t like how the game, especially the playoffs, have become a whistle fest.

  17. Is this a case of we waking them up too early?

  18. Rats… so much for controlling the tempo. We need to finish around the basket.

  19. I love Turiaf, but you see how much Kwame means to the interior rebounding and defense of this team when he sits. Phil, put him back in…

  20. 17. You knew the runs were coming, the Suns are too good not to have some. Composure is key….

  21. Thank the Lord He delivered unto us Kobe.

  22. in all, a great first half. Kobe is picking and choosing (w/ 28!) and Lamar and Farmar are playing nicely. Need Kwame and Walton to step up, they aren’t playing bad, but I would like more (and better finishes near the hoop)
    Gotta like the D so far.

    on a totally different note, It’s the 2nd day of playoffs, and I’m already sick of the SluttyCat’s song.

  23. You mean Jerry West?

  24. That was as good a half as I/we could have hoped for. Especially on defense, holding the Suns to 39.7% (eFG%).

  25. excellent tempo for us in the first half. its hard for the suns to run when we are scoring or at least take interior shots. somebody give kwame the needle so he doesnt have to come out this half. if he does they should go with bynum over ronny.

  26. Holding the Suns under 40 for a half? Wow.

  27. Kind of scary that Kobe had to go into “Mamba mode” to prop up the offense at the end of the 1st.

    Hopefully the coaches will point out to the team what they were doing well earlier and they can get back to that.

    The defense is the key, though, and they need to keep it up. Phoenix has a couple more runs in them — especially if they hit some of the shots they were missing earlier — so, as Kurt said, “composure is key …”

  28. Hey Exick got a question here. How come points in playoff games don’t count towards career points? Or do they?

  29. @27. I don’t think it’s scary at all. If we don’t have Kobe going into Mamba Mode once in a while, what’s the point of having the best scorer in the game on your team?

  30. It’s good that Kobe could “come to the rescue”, but we can’t get into that mindset…yet.

    Lakers kept the Suns out of their “hot zones” until the end of the 2nd.

  31. @28. “Hey Exick got a question here. How come points in playoff games don’t count towards career points? Or do they?”

    They don’t. The reasoining is probably because the regular season is more of a level playing field. Injuries aside, everyone plays 82 games a year regardless of how good your team is. Playoff totals are tracked separately.

  32. Solid start to the second half…

  33. They need to keep going at Marion

  34. Was Phil Jackson actually standing up during the game?

  35. Can farmar throw amare to the floor?

  36. Anything from Smush would be butter…

  37. Seeing Raja get elbowed in the mouth by Lamar with no call kinda makes up for some of the idiotic whistles.

  38. i would like to see Barbosa receive a hard foul the next time he drives the lane.

  39. Good to take Kobe out, he was ignoring the offense and odom

  40. Okay, now bring Kobe back

  41. Anyone else hate this angle?

  42. Pre-game analysis taught me that Nash is the system and that he cannot be replaced. Barbosa taught me otherwise.

  43. Kobe shot them out of this one.

  44. You live by the Mamba, you die by the Mamba.

  45. This team was having their way with the suns on the boards and in the paint in the first half, Kobe was demolishing Bell off the post up and Odom and Walton were getting into the paint at will…I hate when this team gets away from what’s working

  46. At the end of the game none of the Lakers were moving on offense. When Kobe and 3-4 Suns are the only players in the TV picture, there is not only something wrong with your offense, but you will not be able to rebound worth a lick.

  47. Done in by the Kobe heat check offense. He missed 11 out of his last twelve.

    He really regressed in that half.

  48. That was a completely winnable game. The lakers wasted a huge opportunity, and the way they lost must have been very deflating for their confidence. This could easily turn into a series sweep.

    Kobe needs to pass out of hard doubles and triples. That being said its not like anyone other than Odom was stepping up. So many wide open jumpers were blown by the role players that it is almost impossible for Kobe to trust them, but he must.

  49. Part of the problem was the lack of going to the inside we had in the first half. Once again this game is basically a mirror of Game 1 from last year (or close enough). We had the chance to win but because we didn’t execute the gameplan to the perfection needed we lost out. Now the question is whether the Lakers will respond like they did last year. And we’re just gonna have to see about how that plays out.

    In the end I don’t know if I’m heartened or frustrated by today considering the last 3 regular season games basically played out in much the same fashion.

    @ 42….Their push came when he came in but I doubt that’ll be something people will remember next time the “player outside the system” question arises.

  50. goo- preach brotha, they were doing everything right in the first half, beginning of the third, then they went away from what was working. most importantly they went away from odom on the block, this led to jump shots, which in turn led to us losing cotnrol of the tempo. Anyone else notice that it was right when smush came in when we lost control of the game for good?

  51. Phil is about as phlexible as he gets by starting Jordan. Everything else is in lockstep. The Lakers played the same basic patterns of substitution that they had used throughout the season–except Smush was the guy coming off the bench. I thought that in the playoffs teams played fewer players.

    You could blame Kobe for the loss, but you might do better to look to substitution patterns in the second half.

    I’m not sure of the exact pattern, but Smush and Bynum were paired for some time. Just in case that didn’t totally disable the defense, Cook was brought in at Forward.

    I know that Farmar got 4 fouls, but putting the Smusher on Barbosa is not exactly a defensive gen–especially with Bynum as the inside “help.” The Lakers gave up almost as many points in the 3rd quarter as in the first half!

    Turiaf’s playing time was way too little–Bynum’s playing time was too much.

    With Farmar and Kwame back in, the Lakers made the stops, but did not make adjustments on offense. By that time, Kobe was a big liability. The Lakers might have won with Kobe on the bench for the last 6 minutes.

  52. The chances of the NBA thriving in the future are in inverse proportion to Kobe Bryant being a loser. His selfish play is the antithesis of good basketball, making him perhaps the perfect anti-player.

    Kobe is the worst player in the NBA, his talent notwithstanding. And lest you Kobe apologists ring in with talk of his impressive stats, let’s just remember that there are supposed to be five guys out there and not one.

    Bryant last year showed that he’s nothing but a spoiled brat more interested in personal success than in team victories. This year he’s showing same.

    Let’s hope that the NBA Gods never allow a player of his ilk to enter this game again.

  53. 52 – Yeah, Jordan was disaterous for the popularity of the NBA.

  54. Looks like the bandwagooners are jumping!

  55. Hey Fabio, how’s the weather over there in Denial?

  56. Sigh … just like the season as a whole, the Lakers instilled some hope in their fans, only to disappoint in the end.

    The bench needs to step up in their limited time on the floor. Only Andrew provided much of anything tonight. Kobe needs to put the ball in Lamar and Luke’s hands more. We all know what happened there.

    There’s not much this squad can do against Barbosa — who was put on Earth to expose weaknesses in teams’ defensive rotations and transition defense — except to force him to work on the defensive end and try to take him out of the game that way.

    The only bad quarters they had were the third, defensively, and the fourth, offensively. The Suns are always going to have their runs, but the Lakers have to trust their game plan when that happens. They went away from what was working twice today — the first time it led to 11 points by Kobe to end the first half, the second time … not so much.

  57. There was one play, I think it was toward the end of the 3rd qtr, that epitomized Smush’s play.

    Smush was playing Barbosa on the perimeter, keeping him out of the middle, but leaving him a very large driving lane to the basket (an other Laker was defending the left wing, but far to far away to be of any help. Bynum was in the middle waiting to see what would happen. Of course Barbosa moved a little to his left and exploded through the ‘gap’ toward the left side of the basket, Bynum moved slightly to his left and Barbosa stepped right and – open look.

    With about 22ft of open space there is NO WAY Bynum, or any other big, can get in Barbosa’s way. From the amount of space Smush gave the guy I could have driven the lane – well, maybe not, but you get the idea.

  58. (52) Fabio,

    One might have made your criticism early in Kobe’s career, but not recently. Besides the inappropriate tone and lack of respect, your comments are out of date. You must have just gotten around to reading Phil Jackson’s book.

    Kobe has proven himself to be very coachable–as long as the goal is to win and he’s in on the plan. In last year’s playoffs against Phoenix, Kobe had a game in which he hardly scored at all–and they won.

    The problem that has faced the Shaqless Lakers is that they are a few pieces short of a championship team. It is very easy for them to overuse and misuse Kobe to fill seats and generate attendance. Mr. Bean is all too willing to go along, but is that “the antithesis of good basketball” making him “perhaps the perfect anti-player”?

    Kobe is not the coach. If he is not playing defense and/or not sharing the ball, he can be benched. Why not point at least a bit of your vitriol toward the Zen Master?

    Kobe was actually benched in this game toward the end when he apparently deviated from the PLAN–but it was too late.

    Given your attitude toward Kobe, I wonder how you feel about Wilt, Kareem, Rick Berry, and Elgin Baylor? You’d probably say that the Laker Gods have been less than perfect in the past!

  59. DrRayEye,
    It took about 3 posts to confirm Fabio’s one-note theory (I sometimes am a little slow). Now I just scan past his posts.

  60. This game reminded me a lot of last years game 1. I think the Lakers proved to everyone that they can play with the Suns. From looking at the Stats, you would think that the Lakers would have one. I mean, usually when you hold phx to less than 100 points, good things happen. However, their offense sputtered in the end. They gotta play a two man game with Odom and Kobe. Let those guys play off of each other, and have the shooters and cutters come off from the other side of the court. No one on the suns can guard L.O. I mean he shot 60% from the floor. Also, they can’t shoot those long jumpers that Kobe, Mo, and Sasha were settling for in the fourth, because that is exactly what PHX wants them to do. Long rebounds lead to fast breaking. So the keys again: Post up Odom, Post up Luke, Post up Kobe and keep the tempo in their favor. I can’t wait for Tuesday’s game.

  61. Argh. Barbosa. You killed us.

    And boy, we missed a ton of open jumpers in that 4th quarter before Kobe started chucking.

    One day we’ll learn that Lamar, Bynum, and Luke are actually great post players that have a much higher percentage than our role players tossing up 3’s, open or not. Seems like we always forget this during the 4th quarter.

    Lamar’s game was great, but typical of his overall game. Just can’t take his game to the next superstar level. So close.

  62. Dually noted mr. nate.

  63. Jones- that was just like last year’s game 1, but hurts all the same. such a winnable game, but if they take the good things they did in this game that could translate into an upset. Another thing they did well early was helping off the right player, in most cases Diaw.

  64. Btw, where was Kurt Thomas?

    Also, freakin Brazilians are taking over the NBA — Nene looked great as well against the Spurs.

    If the Lakers need a Brazilian scout to find the next Brazilian NBA stars, I’ll volunteer to go down there. No problem. Anything for the team, eh?

  65. (60) Nate,

    All of your offensive suggestions sound good–except the Lakers may need to give LO or Kobe some rest–maybe in response to Phoenix substitutions: Evans for Kobe and Turiaf for LO?

    Would you be willing to consider a few defensive substitution suggestions:

    1) Play the Smusher as often as Phoenix plays Marcus Banks.

    2) If one plays Bynum, wait for Amare to rest.

    3) If Kwame can’t keep up with Amare, use Turiaf.

    4) Even if Kwame CAN keep up with Amare, use Turiaf somewhere for at least 20 minutes

    5) NEVER play Bynum, Smush, and Cook at the same time

  66. Never play Smush. Period. Same for Cook.

    Bench Lineup

    pg: Sasha
    sg: Evans
    sf: Odom/Kobe,one needs to be on the floor at all times
    pf: Turiaf/Vlad
    c: Bynum/Turiaf

  67. Most damning stat of the game

    3rd Quarter- Barbosa: 13 pts in 4 minutes. 75-68 lead eventually went to 85-81 deficit. 17-6 run, game over, Phil cannot leave a liability like that in the game while he’s getting torched, make a substitution

  68. To me the game’s turning point was when Farmar had to leave the game after getting some tough foul calls. You can really see the difference when Smush is on the floor… poor ball movement, terrible defense.

    It’s actually pretty disturbing that the Suns only had 11 fouls called on them the entire game, and we only had a total of 11 free throws. Pretty scewed if you ask me.

    But in all honesty, the most frustrating thing about the game is watching Kobe play one-on-five basketball. Especially when he is tired at the end of games. I’m amazed Phil lets these fade away jumpers and triple team spin moves continue to go on out there. Kobe… PLAY WITHIN THE OFFENSE. He had a great first half, and I was worried he was going to revert to mamba ball… and he did.

  69. And Brian Cook is embarassing.

  70. I should note that Kobe is the only reason we were winning the game in the first place. He had an incredible first half. This team is too reliant on his scoring… we need someone else that can consistently score over 20 points.

  71. fabio escobar,

    good thing the whole world is not as melodramatic as you, cause if that were the case, all of us are DOOMED!

  72. Game time was 4 in the morning here in Manila. Not worrying if I will sport eyebags to work, I woke up early to cheer and pray for the Lakers. It was a winnable game but we ran out of gas.

    Smush, I believe, will never be professional enough to accept his new role and would be a liability off the bench. He lacked focus on both ends of the court. His defensive lapses (beaten twice by Barbosa) were very crucial. Kobe should have shifted to Leandro in that 4 minute stretch that the Blur killed us.

    Just wondering, is Kwame close to 100%? There were long stretches that he was in the bench and Amare was able to do his thing in the paint.

    Wonderful start but horrible ending. However, I do feel that Amare and company would not be as confident as they were before the beginning of the series. If the guys were able to sustain the tempo they dictated for 3 quarters, they could have won.

    In the final 12 minutes, they stopped exploiting mismatches and forgot to play transition defense. I also noted that there were several fouls made that were soft which resulted to several and 1 plays (why go to penalty without making the other party feel that you mean business). I mean, touch fouls are the most worthless fouls in bball. I hope the next game, our guys will bring a bigger stick.

    Can’t wait ’til the next game. I feel that if we can steal one to set-up the home games, we can steal the series. As the saying goes here in the Philippines, “Bilog ang Bola, Kahit Ano Pwedeng Mangyari! ” (The Ball is Round, Anything Can Happen!)

    Go Lakers!

  73. The Warriors? What the heck they won?

  74. I watched the Warriors/Mavericks game. I didn’t exactly expect the 97-85 score, but I expected the Warriors to win.

    It was no accident that the Warriors swept the Mavericks in the regular season. Dallas is in deep ____.

    When one considers that Nuggets/Spurs was no fluke either–and we shouldn’t count the Lakers out–the playoffs are already not nearly as predictable as presented.

  75. pgblooded,

    Kwame is still bothered by his ankle. He’s only playing through the pain after the doctors confirmed that he could do no further damage to the ankle … (and after being called out by Phil)

    I also agree about the and-one opportunities the Lakers gave the Suns. It always pains me to see those half-assed fouls throughout the game, especially when it gets tight in the end.

    The players are probably afraid of being charged with a flagrant, but just slapping at the ball doesn’t get you anywhere either.

  76. warren (philippines) April 22, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    The Lakers are now appearing to be the weakest among the 4 underdogs of the West. But with what was shown earlier, I think they just have an outside chance at it. They’ve shown how one can beat Phoenix. Something only a few teams have done this season.

    Turiaf has to be in more as Kwame is clearly struggling with the pace. It has to be a concerted effort for this squad if they intend to beat Phoenix. Game 2 is up and I cant help but be excited once more. Just one baby, just one. Losing Game 1 wasn’t that much a disappointment coz it showed that Farmar can be competitive. Its a brighter 2008 for em.

    I’m surprised that Radman wasnt playing, maybe stil because of the injury. But He can be effective down the stretch guarding Marion in sub time. Oh please spare me the Smush vs. Blur match-up Phil. It’s killing us. He needs to be chased from end to end. He’s not that good defensively so give him somebody with no other job but to chase him. Mo Evans is the guy.

  77. Some quick thoughts on game 1:
    – They played our tempo the whole game. We should be very happy about that.
    – When we switched to full court D in the first half, it kinda woke up the Suns fast break. They started passing quicker to beat the backcourt pressure and it just got them going faster, not good
    – Smush got DESTROYED by Barbosa. Turning point in the game. Deactivate Smush and play Shammond next game.
    – Kobe was horrible in the 4th. Got benched for taking bad shots, came back in and took even worse shots. We can’t rely on him taking fall away jumpers over 3 people all day.
    – All in all, we can’t be too upset. We played better than them. Should have won, but its a long series and if we keep playing the way we played the first 3 quarters, we definitely have a chance at upsetting these guys. Stealing game 2 and going home 1-1 will be CRUCIAL.

  78. 66- excellent points Dr., you hit ’em right on

  79. warren (philippines) April 22, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    I had foregone comment until I was familiar with how the game was played. The game was shown here at 930am, by that time of course I already knew the final score as game time was 3am here in our place.

    Brian Cook will be the subject of D’Antoni’s next book. He’ll run out of adjectives for the guy and not to mention Smush wouldn’t even make it to the book. Bynum was decent but he can’t match up with Amare. Turiaf is the key baby…

  80. As soon as Farmar went out of the game with foul trouble in the 3rd qtr. and Smush came in, I turned to my friend and said “watch the Suns go on a run right here”…..and sure enough….

  81. Warren, BTV televised the game live dito sa Pinas. I got lucky checking if they will.

    Not at all Muddy. Losing because of Smush had never been coincidental from the time that his being a starter went into his head. Prima Donna? I can’t help but agree. Maybe he feels that he is in the league of KB or LO that he need not work his ass off to be appreciated. I hope that the coaching staff review the game tape well so as not to make the mistake of sending him in on crucial stretches.

    I hope the guys will give a concerted effort to play harder D and to execute the game plan the whole 48 minutes of the succeeding games. The Suns are not invinsible as they want people to perceive them to be.

    Game 2 will be crucial. Robbery starts Tuesday (Wednesday here in Manila).