Game Four Preview

Kurt —  April 28, 2007

Forty-eight minutes.

It’s pretty clear what the Lakers need to do to win in this series — if you have not read Nate Jones’s breakdown of game three on Fanhouse yesterday you must, it’s so good and comprehensive I’m not going to repeat it all here.

But this time they need to do all that for 48 minutes. The Lakers won game three doing it for 36 minutes. The Suns are too good and too deep to get away with taking a quarter off again and still get a win. Phoenix will come out focused, if the Lakers fall down by 17 in the first on Sunday I guarantee the road back will be a lot steeper this time.

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While having lunch at Riley’s yesterday I rewatched the first half of game three, and one thing jumped out at me:

Just how much more patient the Lakers were on offense starting in the second quarter.

In the first quarter the Lakers tried to force passes inside that weren’t there, tried to take specific shots even when they were not open, and were generally looking hurried. But then, with the first couple of subs off the bench, the Lakers adopted the classic John Wooden mantra — ”Be quick, don’t hurry.”

How many times did the Lakers run the high pick and roll offense, nothing developed, and Kobe pulled it out rather than force something up. And eventually they made a smart pass inside (or some other variant of the offense). They stopped forcing the play, rather they made the pass when it was there.

Those Lakers need to be back Sunday.

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Apparently some Phoenix fans wanted to lay the blame for the game three loss at the feet of the referees. I just felt I have to address this.

First, a little note of compromise: You are not going to get any argument here that the officiating in the NBA can be wildly inconsistent. Both from game to game and within a game. But for the most part I think the bad calls balance out in the long run.

As for game three, let me quote Gatinho from the comments: Unless the refs were helping run down some of the 20 offensive rebounds the Lakers had…

Whether it be Wade in last years finals or Kobe or Nash or Barbosa, the one constant in the NBA is that the aggressive player gets the calls most of the time. The guy who drives the lane goes to the line, not the jump shooter.

In game three, for the first time this series, the Lakers were the aggressors. They dove the lane, they crashed the offensive glass hard, they pounded the ball and were physical inside. And, with that, they got the calls. Yes, they didn’t get those calls in the other two games – but they didn’t earn them. Outside of Kobe, and occasionally Odom, the Lakers were passive jump shooters. That all changed in the last game.

And if they do all that again on Sunday, they’ll get the calls again. Personally, I hope to see that.

Kurt

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18 responses to Game Four Preview

  1. Game Three: Suns FTA 12, Lakers FTA 28 Lakers +16
    Game One: Suns FTA 24, Lakers FTA 11 Suns +13

    Everyone talking about FTA discrepancies can now explain why there was no outcry after Game One.

  2. I might add, the comments here at FB&G did not blame the refs for the Lakers Game One loss.

  3. Just listened to PJax’s post game comments on the XRTA website and thought this was a nice articulation to what the Lakers did in Game 3 and need to do for the rest of the series on the defensive end:

    Kwame… “bottled up their screen roll opportunities…
    We made Nash have to turn back away from the offensive end of the floor so he had to control the ball and that was the difference in the ball game. He then had to recover and reset the offense. Which gave us a chance to recover on our men.”

    Echoing Kurt’s comments about offensive patience, he talked about the Lakers making the Suns play defense to keep them from running out and this can only be accomplished by the aforementioned patience.

  4. My God, the Suns are ARROGENT S.O.B’s. Between all their whining about Game one to Amare’s comment “I’m gonna do a lot of things to Kwame, I just can’t tell you about any of them”

    My God, even if they beat us, I hope to god they never win.

  5. I hope Smush gets his minutes back over Farmar. The starters should be: Brown, Odom, Kobe, Smush, Shammond. They should get the most minutes, just like last game…

  6. I’m not sure a three guard line up would benefit the Lakers.

  7. Smush is not our answer on the defensive end, that run was a result of great team defense. Give Sasha + Shammond a run.

  8. Hurt Odom is probable for Game 4 ..

    The Lakers learned Friday that Lamar Odom hyperextended his left elbow during Thursday’s victory over Phoenix. Odom is considered probable for Sunday’s Game 4, team spokesman John Black said.

    Odom already is dealing with an injured shoulder that might require offseason surgery, and the elbow injury might be problematic since Odom is left-handed. Odom was not available for comment Friday

    …Bad Bad News :(

  9. Hmm now there’s an issue with Brian Cook. Cook sprained his left thumb in Game 3 and is considered questionable for Game 4. If he can’t go, Vladimir Radmanovic will rejoin the active roster. The way Phil was talking, it seems like he might try to find a spot for Radmanovic regardless ..

  10. Between Kwame, Lamar, Vlad, and Cook, it seems our only healthy big bodies are Andrew and Ronny. Those 2 are also the most inexperienced playoff players we have on the frontcourt.

    Our interior players are hanging on by a thread, but I am very proud of how they are playing through this pain.

    Their impact was enough to make Amare make dumb fouls and the Phoenix big men give up a ton of offensive rebounds, which is really a crucial factor for a Laker victory Sunday. Without those offensive rebounds, our shooting is not good enough alone to beat the Suns. Anytime you have 19 second-chance opportunities against the Suns 6, your frontcourt is setting the tone and putting you in prime position to win a playoff game.

    Kwame and Lamar — hang in there guys! We are lost without you two fighting on the offensive glass.

    And Kobe, another 45 points on efficient shooting along with 6 assists will be nice. Just keep driving to the hole and set the tone. Don’t let Phoenix keep you out of the lane. That is where you separate yourself from Raja Bell, or any double team they throw at you.

    This is it boys, if you win, it’s anyone’s series. Don’t go out like a bunch of punks, you are all too good and too competitive to let Laker nation down at home in a Game 4.

  11. And to all the people who are critical of the cocky Suns comments lately, the only way to shut them up is to out-work them in Game 4. They are only saying those things because reporters are having to ask them why they lost Game 3. Probably a bit of frustration. They know the pressure is squarely on their shoulders if the Lakers win today.

    But they shouldn’t be too worried right now. All the pressure is on the Lakers to defend homecourt tomorrow, so why would the Suns worry until that happens? We have to earn it first. One win at home means nothing except that we avoided a sweep. I was the same way when other teams beat the Lakers in the playoffs when we were on the road in the past. We have to win Game 4 or it’s damn near pointless to even listen to all the in-series talk.

  12. The game 3 Laker victory was not a blowout. It could have gone the other way. Let’s not pat ourselves on the back, but rather see if we can foresee Game 4 problems.

    1) When three Laker PGs are 0/10 collectively from the 3 point line (as they were in game 3), there is something wrong with the offense, not the players. They should have netted at least 10 points. The Lakers need to find ways to get those shots taken in rhthm–or not at all.

    2) The Smush/Shammond combination was NOT the magical success elixer that the Lakers overlooked all season long–it was “twinkle toes” Brown applying a UCLA style trap up top! “Twinkle toes” Turiaff could help. If the Smusher plays again, you can be sure that theSuns will find new ways to isolate him and resore his infamous Smushian “turnstyle.”

    3) It is unlikely that the Lakers will survive the curse of the Smusher in the last 3 minutes, two games in a row.

    4) I didn’t understand how Cook augmented the game 3 defense in the 4th quarter. I guess I’m jsut not into the ways of Zen. If I used Cook at all, it would be in the 2nd quarter.

    5) There is always Sasha and the zone.

  13. Our guards and wingmen should be ready for this afternoon’s ballgame. After what Kwame did in game 3, I am sure the Suns will adjust their defense. They will most probably resort to a half-hearted double teaming defense like they did in Game 1. Nash, Barbosa and Bell, once an entry pass is made to our biggies, will make a half-hearted double and if our guards or wingmen don’t react by cutting or spotting-up, will make a go for it resulting to swipes, steals and bad passes by our biggies.

    Our guards and wingmen better be ready to shoot and make lay-ups and jumpers. Otherwise, we’re in trouble of deferring too much to KB24 again.

  14. Intensity, I feel, will be important with regards to LA’s defense. It may sound difficult to have the same intensity on both ends of the court but that’s what’s needed to get a win against the Suns.

    The Sun’s would most probably adjust on their offensive spacing so there should be no laying-off on defending the Sun’s screen-roll and running game. If the Sun’s plans to run, rebounding will also be a key. Beating the Suns by more than 50% in the offensive rebound department would be a plus.

    I hope our guys will have the energy to do the above.

  15. warren (philippines) April 29, 2007 at 8:42 am

    matt and Kurt, I posted a reply re:Mid-level and Brian Cook on the previous post. Pls. see, thanks.

  16. A tidbit from Paul Coro’s AZCentral “blog”. Careful, the truth hurts.:

    Los Angeles’ reserves went 1 for 16 from the field in Game 3. So as much as Phoenix feels great about holding the Lakers to 42 percent shooting, the Lakers bench probably won’t be that awful again.

    It is not a sterling bunch. Andrew Bynum can’t make free throws and missed two good post looks in Game 3 but he can be effective if he gets deep enough position. The Lakers are reaching with the Shammond Williams move after he sat for three weeks. He may be quick to help on defense but he has been an average three-point shooter in his career and gives away size. Smush Parker is on the bench by demotion. Brian Cook has done next to nothing and could be replaced by Vladmir Radmanovic, swapping one bad Lakers contract decision for another. Maurice Evans has drawn one shooting foul in 12 games.”

    Between making free throws and someone/anyone contributing off the bench, that would be another 10-15 points.

  17. A Suns beat writer has a lot of balls talking about bad contract decisions on the Lakers when the team in Phoenix is going to be in salary cap hell pretty soon.

  18. The reason the Suns are going to be in cap hell is because they have 3 max-type all-stars (Nash, Marion, Stoudemire) and several very good role players (Thomas, Diaw, Barbosa, Bell). The only bad contract on their books next year is Marcus Banks.

    We have Vlade & Cook on the books, two guys who are both soft, 3-point shooting power forwards who don’t rebound well or play much D. He’s right, those two were both bad contract decisions.