Game Two Preview

Kurt —  April 24, 2007

There are not many secrets left between these two teams. The Lakers (and the Suns) have played each other a lot the last couple years and know what they have to do to win. For the Lakers that means not abandoning the game plan — pound it inside, post up Odom (and Walton and Kobe and Kwame and everyone else on the floor), crash the boards, make Nash the shooter and get back on defense. If game one taught us anything, it’s that the Lakers can’t deviate from this for even a few minutes.

Other thoughts heading forward:

• Great note that reader and commenter Omar sent to me:

I was reading “Mindgames” by Roland Lazenby last night and I could not help myself but to replace Jordan’s name with Bryant’s in the following paragraph:

“Faced every game night with the task of urging Jordan (Bryant) not to dominate the basketball in the fourth quarter, to include his teammates, Jackson spoke to Jordan (Bryant) through film clips inserted in the team’s scouting tapes. In 1998, as Jackson guided the bulls to their sixth championship, he chose to insert clips of the feature film Devil’s Advocate into the Bull’s scouting tapes. In that film, the protagonist’s wife slices her own throat with a shard of glass. Feeling the need to speak forcefully, Jackson showed his team a film clip of a possession where Jordan (Bryant) held the ball too long, then he cut to a clip of the woman cutting her own throat. Gruesomely effective, Jackson’s editing spoke to Jordan in a way that no verbal communication could.”

• I thought Farmar did a respectable job tasked with the impossible job of shadowing Nash. Where he really got in trouble is when Nash moved without the ball on down low picks, he lost Nash several times and that led to wide open shots for a two-time MVP. Forget the ball, stay with the man.

• The idea expressed by AP in the comments — to run Kobe off some off-the-ball screens for quick catch-and-shoots — is a good one. The Lakers did it a couple times in the first half (remember Kobe flashing into the lane and hitting a fade-away?) but abandoned it in the second half, like everything else. Need to get back to that, too.

• The Lakers need an answer for Barbosa, I just have no idea what it is. Smush and Sasha clearly weren’t it. Maybe give Mo Evans a shot.

• Great line by Clipper coach Mike Dunleavy in a radio interview this morning (that Rogan/Simers show) talking about the Suns. He said there were three guys on the Suns who could create their own shot and needed to be stopped — Nash, Barbosa and:

“Diaw’s right hand. The guy can’t even go to the bathroom with his left hand.”

• I am saddened by the passing of David Halberstam. If you want some great views of the United States post World War II, his writing is some of the best. My personal favorite is “The Fifties,” both the book and PBS series. Highly recommended.

to Game Two Preview

  1. The Lakers tried running Kobe of some screens in the second half, but the Suns adjusted defensivley. Usually it was Lamar or Jordan setting the screen and in the secnd half the man guarding those two (Marion and Nash respectivley) would hedge towards Kobe until the other man recoverd. On one possession we punished them for over playing Kobe, passed it to a wide open Jordan who hit the shot. We never went back to that option of hitting the screener for an open shot and I dont know why but it will be there


  2. I really liked what the Lakers did in the first game defensively, even in the 4th quarter. Not so much in the 3rd however. Obviously the offense sputtered dramatically in the 4th, yielding only 10 points.

    Things I’d like to see:
    When Odom was on Marion, he was giving him all sorts of space to shoot. I’ve never known Marion to be much of a threat to drive to the basket with the ball. He seems to get his points off of putbacks, short jumpers, and his ugly set shot. If he’s out on the perimeter, make him think about doing something besides shooting. As has been said before, chase them off the 3 point line.

    Earlier offense. I know this sounds like it plays into the Suns hands, but hear me out. The Lakers were slowly bringing the ball up the court most of the game, which I don’t deny is good. Limiting the possessions is something I approve of, but there’s something to be said for mixing it up and getting into the triangle quickly. The Suns are mostly a scrambling team on defense. If the offense sets up quickly and starts moving the ball around, Phoenix gets lost. There were at least two times during game 1 where the weak side was completely vacated because of defensive confusion. Kobe and Odom both had uncontested driving dunks because of a quick setup.


  3. I don’t disagree, Ex.

    Just as Kurt pointed out with Kobe
    about greatest strength also being an Achilles heel,
    it’s also true many times that a team can get sick
    on a dose of its own medicine–

    teams that successfully execute the pick and roll
    that don’t defend it well,
    3-point shooting teams that can’t defend the perimeter,
    and so on.

    There were more than two times
    the weak side was open like a truck stop diner
    into the fourth and no Laker cut to or drove to it,
    and it was maddening.

    Also to plod up the court and allow the defense
    to set themselves eats up shot clock
    and reduces offensive options especially
    when Walton is not out there swinging the ball.

    Thoidly, dispense with the lofty layups
    that the god of physics nudges out .
    They don’t have to slam them in, but rather
    play every drive in the paint as if it were contested
    and it usually is by Stoudemire–
    and pop it in with both hands when possible.

    And make those free shots.

    – 5 –


  4. What adjustments are the Lakers going to make to slow down Barbosa, who is his own fast break?


  5. What adjustments are the Lakers going to make to slow down Barbosa, who is his own fast break?

    a) Don’t put Smush on him.
    b) Make him go left.
    c) Get their feet set and take a charge.


  6. How about putting him on the ground the next couple of times he takes it to the hole. I’m not saying do what that kid did in the UNC-Duke game and just lay him out with an elbow, I’m saying do it within the parameters of the game. This is the Playoffs. When Barbosa is killing us like that, hard foul him two or three times in a row in the paint and I gaurantee you he will start to think twice about going in there again.


  7. [5]
    I remember when Tony Parker would waltz into the paint at will a few years ago until Shaq laid him out once or twice…needless to say he was relegated to jump shooting after that point


  8. skigi, I don’t disagree with that in principle. I said as much about Tony Parker several years ago when he would drive through the paint past the likes of Derek Fisher and Kareem Rush. Once, just once I asked, that Shaq would put him on his ass. It may have happened, I don’t recall. The Spurs series in 2003 has been erased from memory banks.

    The problem with doing that to Barbosa, insofar as it relates to game 1 of this series, is that the Lakers had enough foul trouble to begin with. Phoenix had more than double the free throw attempts. Maybe you give him the business with the idea of conceding free throws tonight in return for fear in the upcoming games, but by the time they all looked up and saw what Barbosa was doing they’d dug themselves a hole that they would rather dig out of than dig deeper.


  9. I see your point Exick,
    Hard fouling Barbosa would not exactly help in the moment. He is a good free throw shooter. But the reason I think we need to hard foul him is that slashing to the hoop at 100 mph is his game, thats what he does. We can not let him do what he does against us in this series. We have to take him out of that comfort zone and make him do things that he is not used to doing. Same applies to the rest of the Suns, make them have to do things they are not comfortable doing.


  10. via the Daily News blog today, Lamar Odom on stopping Barbosa:

    “Our team defense is going to have to step up and he’s going to have to end up on his back.”


  11. When they asked Kobe [How do you defend Barbosa?]
    Give him a soccer ball. Tell him he should be playing soccer, not basketball. Somebody dropped the ball when he was growing up. They didn’t give him the memo. He’s a phenomenal player. He’s a hell of a talent and he has a great work ethic. I enjoy watching him play and obviously we have our hands full with that guy when he comes into the game. I’m sure we’ll make some adjustments.


  12. Laker reporter John Ireland, says they are going to try and post up Walton on clear outs every time Barbosa is in the game gaurding him. The thinking is to get him into foul trouble.

    On another note (although I hate to get away from the playoffs), the Lakers should try and get Kirilenko from the Jazz. And I think that they should resign Walton and package him with Vlad Rad to do it. Vlad Rad is the shooter that Jerry sloan is looking for out of that three spot and Walton (like Fisher) is the heady player that Sloan covets. I love Luke, but I think AK-47 is under utilized in Utah and would be great in forum blue and gold. The best thing about him is the fact that he would help vastly improve our defense.

    Anyhow, I think the Lakers should be able to pull something out tonight if they keep the game at their pace, run their offense, and pound the ball inside.