Game Three Preview

Kurt —  April 26, 2007

The year was 2004, and the Lakers fell down 2-0 to the hot and rolling San Antonio Spurs. It looked bleak. It looked like a Laker team that, back before the season started, most fans thought would walk to an NBA title was going to be eliminated in the conference semifinals.

But the Lakers won two games at home, then went to San Antonio and stole a game on the legendary Derrick Fisher 0.4-second shot. The demoralized Spurs lot game six back at Staples.

It can be done, teams can come back from 2-0 deficits and win a series. We’ve seen it before. (Thanks to commenter Skigi for the reminder.)

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Those last three paragraphs are pretty much all the positive energy I’ve got.

I’m not going to get into how those Laker squads were filled with veteran role players that would step up when Kobe (or Shaq) was being doubled (as Jonesonthenba pointed out in the comments and pointed out the Lakers need now). And I’m not going to get into how those were good defensive teams.

There are a lot of reasons this year’s Lakers are not those Lakers. But, as a fan, I’ve got to believe it’s possible on some level. Otherwise I’m just an observer.

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Things that need to happen:

1) The Lakers cannot come out demoralized and let the Suns jump out early. Rarely have I been the advocate of Kobe taking over a game in the first quarter, but if Odom cannot get the ball in the post and take it right at Marion early on, Kobe has to step up. And Kobe going for 48 minutes is good with me. But, when the double and triple teams come to Kobe, and they will, somebody else has to hit the big shot.

2) Make Nash the shooter. In the first game the Lakers did a good job of not letting Nash dish off for easy baskets and open threes by his teammates. Not in game two. The Suns adjusted to better isolate him (and Barbosa) plus went to the pick-and-roll — the Lakers know how to defend these things they just have to step out with energy and do it. For 48 minutes. As we’ve said, making Nash score a lot is not ideal, he can score, but it’s better than the alternative.

3) The crowd needs to get the Lakers up and into the game emotionally.

4) Barbosa must be slowed. I’m good with Barkley’s suggestion of knocking him down once or twice. Even if it means a flagrant. But that threat of physical play only matters if you back it up with solid rotations the other times he drives, so he sees a body between him and the basket.

Kurt

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29 responses to Game Three Preview

  1. In a way Im kind of happy the way this series has gone. It’s tough to watch them get humiliated … I’m guessing I won’t be watching the 4th quarter of game 3.

    But maybe by getting torched for 125 again the decision-makers will focus on defense in the offseason. How often do we have to hear “we need to pick it up on defense” before someone questions whether the problem isn’t necessarily the effort-level but the personel? Is Radmonovic’s 3pt shooting worth ~12% of the (non-Brian Grant) payroll when Brian Cook is the same player? Why is the perimerter D so porous even though they’re are supposedly some solid defenders like Smush, Vujacic, Kobe, and Evans?

    Im not entirely sure if the problem is with effort, strategy, coaching, or personel but the Lakers aren’t winning jack without improving on the defensive HALF of the game. But even then, the real problem is with the overall talent level. If you were to replace Kobe with a average SG, this is easily a mid-lottery team that would never really have a shot at the playoffs. The lack of talent surrounding Kobe lay at Mitch Kupchack’s feet. If this team is serious about winning another championship (judging by Phil’s salary I think they are) he doesn’t seem to be the man for the job.

  2. Except I think if you swap out Kobe for a different all-star calibre wing, the team gets much better. You can hear it in Odom’s comments. The team doesn’t like each other. They aren’t “close” and he finds it “sad”.

    For your next round of trade proposals start with Kobe for youth, as Chad Ford suggested today.

    Trade Kobe if you really want to begin to fix the problems.

    Don’t worry about tonight. The Lakers will get 40 FTA to 12 for the Suns and the Lakers will win. Book it.

  3. Kobe for youth? What, this team isn’t young enough as it is?

  4. Kurt,

    Your writeup sounds very defeatist in tone. Let me at least lay out some possibilities that would give ME hope.

    First, it needs to start with defense. The strategy of letting Nash score, but not dish, covering the threes, encouraging mid range jump shots worked to perfection in game 1–until the first substitutions came in.

    Even in the second game, the starting five were competitive.

    Let me suggest some modifications:

    1. Most radical. Start Turiaf. Kwame has lost some quickness, but it would show less if he came in against a fatigued Amare–or someone else.

    2. Less radical. Bring in Turiaf after 5 minutes to get Phoenix out of synch.

    3. Nuanced. Bring in Turiaf for Odom if postup strategy fails–then bring in Odom with the 2nd quarter substitutes.

    4. Bring Bynum AND Turiaf in after 5 minutes to throw a curve at Phoenix.

    With the second quarter substitutes:

    1) start Shammond and Kwame with Odom (if Turiaf starts–otherwise bring in Turiaf) and rest Kobe

    2) Play the opposite strategy for Barbosa as for Nash–i.e. get Barbosa to dish, not shoot. You do that by trapping him, not letting him get started, having bigs jump out. In a pinch, play the zone.

    A strategy of hard fouls after Barboza gets by the defender is both outrageous and strategically flawed.

    If Kobe and Lamar really play great defense, they will need rest.

    The Lakers hopes are really best measured by how many points they give up–not how many points they score.

    If the Lakers know that they can get stops, it will boost their confidence and they will get better shots.

    The Lakers need to make adjustments during the game as needed–not stick to an outdated game plan to oblivion.

  5. The might prophet John R rides again…..

    Ping Ping goes the sound of the Clippers Lottery Balls.

  6. Why is Smush Parker riding the pine???

  7. “Why is Smush Parker riding the pine???”

    Seriously?

  8. Trade Kobe. That’s the most ridiculuos thing I’ve ever heard. Replace Kobe with Tmac or Vince Carter, do the Lakers make the playoffs? I don’t think so. On the other hand if the Rockets had Kobe instead of Tmac, I’d have to say they may be favored to win a championship. Kobe wants to win, that’s all. If the players get demoralized around a presence that has such a lust for victory, that’s their problem. Besides, the Smush’s and the Cook’s of the world are upset with Phil, not Kobe. Why? Because, Phil tells it like it is. Smush and Cook don’t have the hearts of winners, that’s clear.

  9. The crowd needs to get into it. Everyone in the nosebleeds should make the executives in the lower level put on their ear plugs.

  10. The Lakers have to make the Suns a little scared. Push them around a little, rattle the cocky bastards. They think they’re NBA champions already. We have to at least delay their trip to the next round.

  11. First of all, thanks Kurt for shout out in the preview. Nobody on TV or paper mentions that the Lakers were the last team to come back from 0-2. All they talk about is that no one does it.

    The season is on the line tonight. We’ve been waiting for like 3 months for the Lakers to find something to motivate them and light that spark. Tonights the night. With the way the Lakers management has been talking lately (including Phil and Kobe), every player other than KB24 should be playing tonight and sunday like it could be their last in a Laker uniform.

    From Lamar down to Smush, every Laker has to play like they have to EARN a spot on next year’s roster. Nothing is guaranteed when the Lakers are a mediocre team. Thats not acceptable here by the fans or the owners.

    Back in 04 when we came home down 0-2 to the Spurs, we needed a spark to get us energized and I remember a play early in game 3 where both Kobe and Shaq dove for a loose ball near midcourt and that was it. The team and the crowd saw the leaders playing their asses off and it was contagious to the rest of the team and the crowd and the Lakers never looked back in the series.

    Kobe and Lamar need to set an example by coming out super-energized tonight and hope that the rest of the team follows its leaders.

  12. Smush is on the bench because he can’t even guard any of us. He’s losing his heart and he’s bringing down the heart of this team with him. I say, Never play him again!!

    Trade Kobe? The Best Player on the Planet?
    No wait that makes sense lets trade the guy whose leading the league in scoring and the sole reason we’re in the playoffs so that Smush can get more minutes.

    D

  13. What I would LOVE to see is some Kobe-Lamar teamwork. That’s what we need. Have Lamar dominate.

  14. “Trade Kobe? The Best Player on the Planet?
    No wait that makes sense lets trade the guy whose leading the league in scoring and the sole reason we’re in the playoffs so that Smush can get more minutes.”

    This is what is called a strawman. I didn’t say trade Kobe for more minutes for Smush. Trade Kobe for a player who will bring the team “close” and who doesn’t make Odom “sad”. There are other players in the league who, while an individual step-down from Eagle Bryant, would be a better fit and a better teammate.

    Let Smush go. Most teams have 2 PG’s better than him. Farmar isn’t the answer either.

    Trade Kobe for Heinrich and Deng. THEN the Lakers get better.

    Trade Kobe for Lebron. The Lakers would get better, even if Smush’s minutes stayed constant.

    Kobe may be “the sole reason we’re in the playoffs” now, but he doesn’t have to be in the future. Wouldn’t it be better to have more than a sole reason to be there?

    Of course, I basically predicted how this whole thing would play out around game 7 of 82, so even though I have been proven, I don’t really expect anyone to start listening now. Noone ever said Lakers fans aren’t myopic.

  15. You want to talk about illogical debate, John R?

    1. Assuming Odom’s comment was about Bryant when there was no indication it was about any specific player.

    2. Assuming that a predicted result also validates a process perceived. With your foul/Lakers success prediction you’ve reached into “Questionable Cause” with a hint of “Post Hoc”. I’ll give you an example: Let’s say I predict it will rain tomorrow because I’m going to wear green socks. The next day I wear green socks and it rains. This does not mean my prediction was correct. It also does not mean I should feel superior to the folks describing the rain as a result of cloud droplets and heavy water vapor.

    Just saying.

  16. don’t let that conspiracy theorist john r get to you, he’s just trolling trying to get folks angry, like the way a spoiled teenager wants to get attention. I asked him yesterday about the clips, since I’d been out of the country, and when i left, they were closing in on the lakers, but i never heard from him. i guess from reading the comments, (about ping pong balls) they didn’t make it.

    regarding our team, we all know what has to happen, management has to get it’s ass in gear. no way can they say they can stand pat, blame it on injuries, whatever… we need some tough minded defensive stoppers, and a point guard, and dr buss knows that this city is spoiled, and has high expectations, and if he pays the money, (and subsequent tax) to get it right, he won’t lose money in the long run.
    titles= more merchanding and licensing money=success and profit!
    spend the money, bring in a winner…now!

  17. Why are people even talking about trading Kobe? Hes not the one who doesn’t play with energy every night. You don’t fix the problem by getting rid of someone who isn’t the problem. The problem we are having is the lack of production/energy from Smush, Sasha, Mckie, Williams, Cook, VladRad, Kwame and Bynum over the last 3 months, not Kobe having a bad game 2.

    Kobe, Lamar, Luke, Ronny, and Jordan Farmar are the only players who play with Laker pride

  18. Sorry I forgot Mo Evans plays hard too, he’s just streaky. One night he plays well and has a lot of points, other nights he looks like how he did in games 1 and 2, but for the most part, the guys shows passion. I would definitely like to see him on the roster next season

  19. Nash had a couple of concerns about the Suns being “fat” and Amare has been speaking in the very tone that Nash fears as a pitfall.

    Here’s hoping for a big dose of Staples love and some early Laker success.

    The only Suns’ weakness for the Lakers to exploit is their sometimes fragile esteem.

    Turiaf needs some major burn tonight…

  20. True, lets hope the Suns are overconfident. I bet D’Antoni is just feeding them ego juice.

  21. They can lose tonight and it wouldn’t really matter for them. We lost tonight and we’re toast. If we don’t outplay them tonight then I don’t know what else to say

  22. Expect Nash to get some rest…

  23. Hey guys,
    everybody take a quick second and read “The Rising Sun”‘s blog post from yesterday. Everybody involved with the Suns seems to have a very clear disrespect for the Lakers. I hope their overconfidence bites them in the ass tonight and sunday!

    http://phoenixsunsrising.blogspot.com/index.html

  24. The almighty John R. The king of basketball knowledge. Especially that salary cap. I’m still waiting on my apology.

    My question to you John is: Why do you hate Kobe and the Lakers so much? Was Kate Faber your sister or something? And why do you only come around when the Lakers are down? You don’t see me hanging around Clipper Blog (which I would never do, because I like Kevin) making negative comments. You sir, are just a biased hater. The Lakers don’t need to trade Kobe, they just need better players around him. As I’ve mentioned before, veteran role players that can step up hit an open shot, and guard their man. And don’t act like Kobe is holding down Lamar. Lamar has pretty much had the same statistics every year he’s been in the league.

    check for yourself: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3327

    I think you need to get in tune with reality, John R. There is no player in the league that you could replace Kobe with that would make that current cast of characters play any better than they currently are. Kobe is about the only thing going right with this team. Not the other way around. I mean, seriously…give Kobe some good role players and see how they do. Until then, get off of his case.

  25. jones,

    i disagree, there is one player in the nba who could’ve done a better job than he has with this team. That player is Tim Duncan, in my opinion, the best player in NBA. Still, what Kobe has done with this injury ridden team is very amazing, at the least…

  26. warren (philippines) April 26, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Remember that Kobe is on top of the triangle and I don’t mean the offense. No trade clause and Franchise money hanging in the Balance.

  27. 22 vs 4 FTA going into the 4th.

    Don’t say noone predicted it.

    If anyone is “in touch with reality” its me. Watching the Lakers has about as much to do “with reality” as watching Hulk Hogan wrestle the Macho Man.

    This is what you guys are into I guess. Its like a soap opera you men can pretend is masculine. Don’t worry, I get it.

  28. 11. Skigi — Don’t forget the Heat came back from 0-2 in last year’s finals.

  29. Kwame clearly wants to stay in LA. For those who don’t pay much attention +-, he just got your attention.

    Without Kwame, we can’t win. With the kind of Kwame we had last night, we can’t lose.

    He not only shook off the ankle pain, he compensated for some really wacky substitutions and even overcame the curse of the Smusher, who was myseriously paired with Shammond to close out the game.

    Lest you think of it as Zen genius, consider that the Smush/Sham tandem combined for 0 for 10 shooting and kept the game close