Game Two Thoughts

Kurt —  April 25, 2007

In those Greek tragedies we all were supposed to read in high school, there was something called Hamartia. (Apparently Gatinho read them because he pointed me to this.) What is Hamartia?

The “tragic hero” attempts to do the “right thing” in a situation where the right thing cannot be done.

I could see Kobe in that spot in game two. On one hand, he realizes the Lakers can’t beat the Suns over the course of a series if he has to score 50+ points and take over the games. On the other hand, the Lakers can’t seem to win any games if he does not score 50+ and take over the game.

These days we call it a “Catch 22,” based on another of those novels we were supposed to read in school. Call it whatever you like, unless the other Lakers step up it is an unsolvable bind.

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The reason there has to be so much pressure on Kobe and the offense is because 48 minutes of defense is beyond the Lakers.

The Suns made adjustments to get more isolation — both by clear outs or the pick-and-roll. Both of those required quick and smart defensive rotations to stop. The Lakers were slow and stupid. They let Nash be the passer not the shooter. The rotations that were solid in game one disappeared, to be replaced by a very confused look on many players’ faces.

I thought about breaking down a specific second quarter sequence where the Suns pulled away, but it largely read like this over and over:

Barbosa blows past Smush Parker and nobody rotates over with any urgency. Barbosa doesn’t even have to change direction on his layup.

There were some minor variations of that sequence, but not many. The Suns started their 24-9 run that gave them the big lead for good against a Laker lineup that was Kobe and the bench. The Suns bench outplayed the Laker bench pretty badly.

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I feared this, the one blowout game where the Lakers got behind early and the players just folded. I hoped they would fight back, I didn’t want to admit it really could happen, but I feared a game like that.

Thursday night we’ll learn a lot about the mental makeup of this team. Another effort like Tuesday’s and they might as well not bother to come to Staples Sunday. But they are capable of winning, if they are willing to play within the system, on both ends of the court.

And they have to do it all for 48 minutes.

Kurt

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