Preview and Chat: The Cleveland Cavaliers

Kurt —  January 27, 2008

Records: Lakers 27-14 (6 seed); Cavaliers 23-19 (6 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.9 (6th); Cavaliers 106.2 (17th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.0 (8th); Cavaliers 110.4 (26th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown
Cavaliers: Larry Hughes, Ira Newbie, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Lakers Notes: It’s raining in Southern California, but if you listen to Lakers fans you’d think the sky is falling. It’s not.

Three weeks ago people were debating if this team could beat the Spurs in a seven game series, and after two losses in a row half the fan base is willing to trade anyone and everyone just to stop the bleeding. Relax, people. This is not the time for a panic move to “salvage the season” because that is how you end up with the Knicks roster.

The Lakers are 2-3 without Bynum and those losses are to Phoenix, San Antonio and Dallas. They beat a good Denver team in that stretch (and Seattle). Sure, the Lakers looked bad on a trip through Texas, but a lot of teams look bad in Texas. The Lakers are still trying to find themselves without their second best player. Good teams find a way through this, the Lakers have and need time to figure it out. Doing so makes them better come the playoffs, better for next season.

Not that the Lakers players, fans and coaches shouldn’t expect better and more consistent play than we saw the last couple of games. I rewatched the third quarter of the Lakers game against the Mavericks yesterday afternoon. Because I’m a masochist. But the lessons from that experience have been well documented before — the Lakers start ran too much isolation offense; then when someone (Kobe, Fisher, Farmar) drive into the paint, the help defender comes off Kwame, something teams dared not do off Bynum; the help defense is slow; Odom is not being aggressive and does not fight for position on the block to get a pass; Walton his hobbling.

But none of that is reason to panic.

The Cavaliers Coming In: Since the Lakers played Cleveland last month, the Cavs have gone 11-4, looking like a team that Boston and Detroit would like to avoid in the playoffs. How have they turned it around? I asked Brian Windhorst, the Cavs beat writer for the Akron Beacon Journal (and True Hoop favorite, one of the beat writers around the league that really gets the blogging thing right).

The Cavs turned things around when they starting using a defensive lineup to start games — with big guards Larry Hughes and Sasha Pavlovic defending the perimeter — and using a small lineup to finish them. This often means Anderson Varejao at center, LeBron at power forward, versatile Devin Brown at small forward and Damon Jones and Daniel Gibson at the guards. This is a hard lineup to defend because LeBron plays point guard and attracts double teams and he can kick it to the shooters or play pick-and-roll with Varejao, who is hard to deal with. They have been a great fourth quarter team for most of the season, they play many games close and then let James make plays at the end to win it.

The Cavs will not start Pavlovic as he got injured and is out for six weeks.

James is still having an MVP-caliber season — he is shooting 51.2% (eFG%) while using 32.5% of his team’s possessions (the highest percentage in the league, and nobody else in the top five shoots over 50%). He also has the highest PER in the league right now.

And in those clutch moments Windhorst talks about? (Fourth quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points). James is shooting 53.9% (eFG%), a higher percentage than he shoots the rest of the game.

The best way to stop him from beating you at the end of games? Don’t let it be close.

Last time these two met: This was one of the few times this season the Lakers bench cost them a game. The starters (with Bynum and Walton) built up an 11-point lead that came completely unraveled with a 16-0 run from late in the third into the fourth. The Lakers got close and even took a 2-point lead back in the fourth.

But it was a close game. And James took over. And the Cavs won by four with a 6-0 run to close the game.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers have to crash the boards hard. Yes, Kwame and Lamar, I’m looking at you. The Lakers gave up 13 offensive rebounds to the Mavericks and now they go up against the third best offensive rebounding team in the league (Cleveland grabs 29.8% of their misses). The Lakers can’t give up a bunch of easy second chances.

Besides James, only other player who has provided a season of good offense for the Cavs is Ilgauskas, who is shooting 48.4% for the season. Kwame can use his strength to defend him in the post, but he’s got to step out with him because Ilgauskas can hit the 17-footer if you give him the look. Watch out for the pick-and-pop with him.

With teams like the Cavs that rely so much on one player, I’ve always been a fan of letting him have a big game but not letting the other Cavs get in the action. When LeBron drives and dishes to an open Gibson for a three, that’s when they make runs. The Lakers need to stay disciplined on defense.

On offense, Kobe should be able to get his and if the Lakers just run the offense and don’t fall into an isolation game they will be fine.

Where you can watch: Game time is 12:30 p.m. (Pacific) and no matter where you live you will be subjected to the ABC broadcast.

Kurt

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58 responses to Preview and Chat: The Cleveland Cavaliers

  1. Ha Kurt!- (in our where’s waldo mistake game)
    4th paragraph, 4th sentence, “the Lakers start(ers)..”
    found it!

  2. on a different topic, i’m watching the magic against the celtics. i think lakers and magic trade really benefitted both teams. cook just knocked down 3 3-pointers in the 3rd quarter. cook’s playing style works well with the magic since he does not need to be the post up guy lakers sought to use him for.

    similar to ariza, i think mo provides them with energy and defensive intensity in the backcourt while howard holds the fort in the front court.

    not to mention how lakers and fans are happy about ariza playing for the lakers.

    having said that, i think it would be hard to find similar trade going forward. so until that does happen, best is to find a way to work with the hand dealt.

  3. KC- I was just about to post that myself too. Rarely does such a trade happen that benefits both teams. Now a days the vast majority of trades are one-sided or simply sending someone away. That being said, the presense of Dwight Howard does negate some of the defensive liabilities of Cook.

    As for today’s game, I agree that staying with the 3 point shooters would be the key. Also, I expect and hope Lamar and Walton to have bounceback games, and we are going to need a solid performance from atleast one for us to win.

  4. Lamar Odom is back! January 27, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    In other news, some very nice words from Kobe on the Laker team:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?videoId=3213499&categoryId=2459788

    Last season I commented to my friends how it would be such a great improvement in Kobe’s game if he changed the way he played, to become more of a facilitator. Then the Lakers were plagued by injuries and Kobe had to step up. Then the Olympic qualifiers came and Kobe stepped down from his focus on scoring and focused on defense. That really allowed him to grow as a player and as a person. It’s a great thing to see.

  5. This is a game where Ariza would make a difference. On Phil’s previous teams he would put his best defender on whoever was the other team’s key playmaker and play the rest straight up. W/the other team’s playmaker struggling against Pippen/Rodman/Fox/Harper,the opposition’s offense would often fall apart as other player tried to do things they weren’t accustomed to.
    The lack of such a defensive standout is what has hobbled the post-Shaq Lakers more than anything else. If Ariza can stay healthy and rise to an elite defender status,the Laker D will become immensely better and their PlayOff runs more solidly grounded.
    If by some miracle the Lakers acquired a scorer deluxe(draft,trade,whatever)Kobe could prob fulfill the Pippen role of being defensive stopper and secondary scorer-but could he be talked into it? Previously I would have said no,but the past Olympic Qualifying makes me wonder.

  6. We should all thank Hedo Turkoglu for hitting that buzzer beater so that we can watch the first quarter of our game!

    (Cookie & Mo had good contributions in that win as well.)

  7. The hobbled Luke on LeBron to start the game. He got used by Carmelo in a similar situation a couple of games ago. How long can we get away with that?

  8. Hahaha … Ira “Newbie” is starting for the Cavs. NewbLe is actually not a newbie having played for 3 teams in 8 years in the NBA.

  9. the other Stephen January 27, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    just push big z out of the way, kwame. he’s a big man who rebounds, not a rebounder. he’s not going to fight you tooth and nail for the missed shots.

  10. Well, it’s obvious why players hate Van Gundy… Hard enough to listen to him for a few hours every now and then, but everyday…

  11. we can’t lose to any team that has a player with a fan site like this:
    http://heylarryhughespleasestoptakingsomanybadshots.com/

    come on Lakers!

  12. Maybe with our lull coming in the second quarter today, the third won’t be so bad …

  13. haha, i like ur comment #9. 14 points in the 2nd quarter?? can’t get much worse in the 3rd… perhaps they were saving their energy for later in the game

    either way u look at it, the Lakers continue to play well and continue to not finish at the rim. I think Kobe’s dunk over Drew Gooden midway through the 2nd was the first real dunk that i have seen from Kobe in a while. Every since that groin strain he has not been attacking the basket the way he did before that…

  14. oh man… another one bites the dust… varejao hurt his ankle…

    it must be the staples center…

  15. the other Stephen January 27, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    8. i think JVG makes up for his poor coaching with his great commentating.

  16. Did anyone else just see Vujacic slap that ref’s ass!?

  17. A little too much Kobe at the moment on offense. The brief Kwame substitution also lost them a bit of defensive momentum. It’s turned into that close game that Kurt warned us about …

  18. The Dude Abides January 27, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Clutch defense by Kwame….not. That brief substitution will probably cost us the game. A 15-2 run since that momentum-destroying substitution.

  19. Sorry guys, should’ve took the last shot. But, as you all know, I suck.

  20. hmm, not sure what to say.

    Why is Luke scared to shoot?

    I am suprised, Phil didn’t put in more shooters on the floor for that last possesion. Why not have Sasha or Farmar on the floor who are not afraid to take the shot?

    I guess we are in the midst of a mini-slump.

  21. Two questions:
    – Why didn’t Luke shoot the last shot?
    – Why was Kwame subbed in the game when the Lakers had the momentum and 9 point lead?

  22. The Dude Abides January 27, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Bonehead plays in the fourth quarter when the team has been pulling away are momentum killers. Why bring in the one guy known around the league for bonehead plays? And then take him out 20 seconds later after his two stupid plays led to four quick points for the Cavs after we had stretched a two-point lead to nine points? I don’t get it. Kwame is not a fourth-quarter player. His constant stupid mistakes are magnified in the fourth quarter. The Lakers were pulling away, and he single-handedly let the Cavs back in the game. Ugh.

  23. In such a tight game, the inconsistent calls and no-calls really hurt, especially in the final seconds. You can make almost the same argument that teams used against Shaq — how can you call such ticky-tack fouls on a guy as powerful as LeBron, and then let a lot of the contact against Kobe go?

    While the last play was frustrating to watch (Luke was afraid of getting blocked by LeBron, but passing it back to Kobe at that point was not the “high basketball IQ” play), the steal under the basket that we didn’t convert was the real back-breaker for me.

  24. Same feelings as 15 and 16. I mean if you are going to bring Kwame in, let him stay in for more than 20 seconds. Also, the Lakers had a 30 left, so if things did not look great they could have taken it. Finally, I disagree with Phil taking Kobe out. Message or not, with him on the floor you have a better chance. And its not like the Lakers turned it around during that strech.

  25. Luke choked.
    He should’ve taken the shot.

  26. Jackson is a hard headed fool. Take Kobe out in the fourth quarter because he missed a couple of shots and watch Cleveland stretch the lead, and then rush him back in. How about not having Farmar on the floor when they need a 3 at the end of the game. That was another bonehead coaching decision.

    I wouldn’t blame Kobe if opts out after next season. Why should he stay if Jackson is going to treat him like whipping boy and an excuse to cover up his own bad coaching moves. Next year Kobe definitely wouldn’t approve a trade if it weakens the team he is going to. The best the Lakers can hope for is expiring contracts.

  27. Also, LeBron really closed the game for the Cavs, but the guy who I thought killed us was Larry Hughes. He hit a few key jumpers there to keep the momentum on Cleveland’s side.

  28. The Dude Abides January 27, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I’m not sure who was on the floor for the final nine seconds when we needed a three-pointer. We had Ronny, Luke, and Kobe. I’m assuming that Fish was out there too. So, who was the fifth player? Was it Lamar? If so, that’s a horrible lineup when you need a three-pointer to tie the game. Luke is too deferential to be effective in that situation. Why not Kobe, Farmar, Sasha, and Fish, with Ronny there to set a screen? I just don’t get it. If Phil is deliberately trying to have this team work through adversity with his disadvantageous substitution patterns, then at least that’s some type of explanation. However, he runs the risk of Kobe going off again. I don’t see how that would be a good thing.

  29. First Kwame, then Lamar, and now Luke… what do we do about stupid plays? There was a game last season when Luke did the same thing and tried to make the extra pass with under five seconds left… STOP RELYING ON KOBE TO BAIL YOU OUT… its time the rest of the guys finally step up and take the pressure shot… where was Lamar to take a stupid three pointer??? or Vujacic who never passes up a chance to shoot…

  30. I have to agree with Phil’s move to take Kobe out of the game near the end. He emphatically stated to his players that they all have to run the offense or not play in the game.

    That said, Phil really did not do a good coaching job, either letting the players play or his apparently nonsense substitutions in the 4th qtr. Why not put in 3pt shooters at the end??? What was that with Kwame???

    Phil is a very good coach, but he does make mistakes and this game was one of them.

  31. The strange thing about Phil is that I’m really not sure whether he makes bad substitutions and stupid mistakes or whether he does it to create more of a learning experience for his players… he has always discussed how important it is to learn from mistakes during the season rather than in the playoffs… however, this long road stretch now worries me…

  32. Kobe FTs + D-Fish 3 FG

  33. With all due respect to Kurt, I do think we are very close to needing to hit the panic button. While it may be true that Bynum and Ariza will be back this season, the Lakers may not be close enough to playoff position for their return to make a difference. With the Western Conference so close, the 27-15 Lakers are less than 3 games ahead of the 9th slot. With a monster 9-game road trip coming up, the Lakers could be in the draft lottery by the time reinforcements return. In addition, notwithstanding the clear-cut upgrade in PG in Fish over Smush, today’s game was a mirror of the team’s absolutely maddening deteriorating January play of last season. I’m NOT seeing a different team: Sporadic interior defense. Disappearing Lamar. Missed free throws. Devastating mental mistakes – particularly in the forth quarter. Extremely questionable “designed” plays at the end of the game. No one stepping up to support Kobe. A home loss to a very ho-hum Cleveland team after blowing a 9-point fourth-quarter lead just before a huge road trip is INEXCUSABLE. It pains me to say, but I am not optimistic about the Lakers even being able to tread water over the next two months. And treading water may not even be good enough. They should only be so lucky.

  34. I know why Phil is doing these stupid things and making “bad” decisions. He doesn’t want to coach the All Star Game.
    He’s said it multiple times.
    But he was just joking….

    Yeah………Right……..

  35. Daniel,
    “I’m really not sure whether he makes bad substitutions and stupid mistakes or whether he does it to create more of a learning experience for his players…”

    This is the statement I continually hear from people, and then they never question any of Phil’s moves. There have been so many questionable situations recently and they seem to duplicate moves made last year (as mentioned above). What comes across to me is that Phil is so locked into his way of doing things that he may not have the flexibility to learn new situations. I seriously hope I am wrong, but I am going to watch carefully to see if Phil has any ‘new tricks’. I don’t care how old or experienced the dog, he must be able to learn new tricks or he will not survive long in a dog-eat-dog world.

  36. i’m sure these games are really frustrating for Kobe, esp when you’re going up against another MVP candidate carrying his team.

    at any rate, i’m not even close to the panic button; a game decided by a late 3 pt attempt when we’re missing Bynum, Ariza, and Mihm?

    given health, this team isn’t a longshot to win it all. it’s never going to be a clear cut favorite, but in a 7 game series, this team will be good enough to make bets competitive and reasonable.

  37. It’s not quite panic time, and here’s why:

    1) The Lakers play the Knicks at home on Tuesday. If they lose that game, then by all means PANIC! Otherwise, calm down.

    2) Take away two unusually horrible third quarters and a couple of wasted posessions today, and the thoroughly depleted Lakers are still hanging tough with the Spurs, the Mavs and the Cavs. I’m not making excuses… I’m just saying, we’ve seen them play well for reasonably long stretches against good teams without Bynum.

    3) The Lakers have a 9-game road trip, but most of those games will be against mediocre or bad eastern conference teams. Even if they simply play at the level they’ve been playing at, I’m penciling them in for 5 likely wins (Miami, Minnesota, Charlotte, Atlanta, New Jersey).

    4) Vlad and Sasha will be up and fully operational soon. This gives them 4 outside shooters (aside from Kobe) who can get hot from on any given night, open up the floor and stand in as the 3rd scoring option. For the first week without Bynum, we only had two such players (Fish and Farmar).

    5) The boys are beginning to make adjustments and those adjustments will pay off against the non-elite teams. Even Kwame has been playing better over the past couple of games. It may not be enough to beat the defending champs, but it WILL be enough to beat the Knicks.

    6) The All-Star break buys the Lakers a little more time. If Bynum’s absence didn’t fall over the break, it could mean 2-3 more games without him.

    6) Andrew and Trevor will come back to a softer, more home-heavy schedule. From mid-March to mid-April, the Lakers will be camping out in the Staples center, and playing the likes of Sacramento twice, along with Seattle, Charlotte, Memphis and the Clippers. Not to mention 2 against the Warriors, who the Lakers have owned for most of the past 3 years. If they are at full strength, it is not far-fetched to envision a run of around 13-5 to finish out the year.

    Yes, this will be a tough road, but not one to freak out over. L.A. can and will make the playoffs. And I still think they can become a stronger team for all of this adversity.

  38. Phil Jackson is probably one of the more eccentric coaches out there. Hard to pin one of those losing streaks to one of the greatest. He is like Gregory House of House MD. You never know when he is killing someone or saving them. Apparently for Phil, the painful process of Learning requires Pain.

    I for one expected a win tonight but woke up to realize we blew it. Nevermind the last play for Luke, nevermind the “mental” mistakes along the way. The only thing I am banking on is Phil and Kobe and how they handle these adversities or “planned losses” as supposed to fearing another Kobe tirade. Phil signing that expensive extension leads me to believe he has something in mind.

  39. The lineup for the last play was Ronny, Lamar, Luke, Kobe and Fish.

    Honestly, while I am not sure its time to press the panic button, I do think something needs to be done to keep LA alive. We are a very good team w/ Ariza and Bynum, but we need to actually be in the playoffs to do any damage. I really think Phil needs to do something, whether it be bench one or more of the starters (Kwame, Luke or Odom) or change his substitution pattern.

    We’ll learn a lot about how this team compares to last years on this monster road trip. So lets wait and hopefully, Phil will make a move to warrant his status as a HOF coach and a 10 mil a year coach.

  40. LINE-UP CHANGE….Will Lamar show up? We all agree that is a nagging concern. Phil should sit hime down and tell him that the team needs 20/10 from him every night. If that doesn’t work, how about a lineup change? Move Lamar to the 5. He’s got the height and elevation. Since he won’t dribble penetrate on a consistent basis, maybe he can be more effective down low. Ronny to the 4. Mr. Enengy is great for this team. Kobe to the 3. Farmar and Fish in the backcourt. Now you’ve got scoring and strong D. Any thoughts?????

  41. I was just thinking about the planned adversity that PJ seems to use to teach. Usually it seems like an easy trade to lose a few early games for experience, but this year “a few games” could very well be the difference between homecourt in the first round and a tough, tough, first round matchup (or none at all….).

    I’m frustrated, but choosing not to panic yet. These losses have all been learning losses against quality teams that could have each been different with a couple small changes.

    I’d like to see PJ start playing to win over the long road trip. I think they’re capable of a nice record against that lineup if they play to win. It’s absolutely imperative that this group of players build confidence as a unit before Bynum get back. If they have a strong roadtrip and carry momentum into the break, I think they’ll be in great shape when they pick up Bynum and Ariza again.

  42. Is it me or did anyone notice how the Lakers were playing good in the 4th quarter with the lead and Phil puts in Kwame for Luke and everything changes? I think Phil is trying to build up Kwame mentaly but it is a lost cause. He may not be the most skilled big man but there is no reason for his lack of hustle night in and night out. It seems like he just drains all the energy out of Lakers when he steps on the court. Bottom line is he can’t shoot it, can’t pass it, can’t dribble it. No one else would fall for a pump fake from big Z the slowest player on the court! Bynum please get well soon, this team needs you.

  43. 40. Odom cannot defend the five. That said, I like the small Fisher, Farmar, Kobe, Odom and Turiaf lineup, let them run. But Odom is not a five.

  44. What a frustrating ending. I’m with those who say that obviously Luke blew it; but really, that’s the exception that proves the rule for Luke. None of us are perfect. The sitting Kobe for it seemed like about three minutes (anyone?) I have no problem with. Phil is pretty trusting of his players but we know he doesn’t like a player, even #24 trying to commandeer the game. You don’t get 9 rings without knowing a thing or two. That said, some of his substitutions did seem a bit puzzling. However, I’d also say Kobe got robbed a couple times by the refs. He was certainly fouled on that last play and there was at least one other drive late in the 4th when he should have been sent to the line. Cavs played some decent D also, but I really didn’t think much of the refereeing in that game, particularly that late and when #24 is taking it to the rack.

  45. And no, nothing apart from, oh, the kitchen sink, is falling from the air. I thought Kwame played pretty well. He had a lot of energy, didn’t hang on to the ball or try and be overly creative with it; Ronny had a really nice game; Fish, Kobe, Luke (apart from his last decision), Sasha all played quite well. It really is maddening to me that Lamar though does not capitalize on mismatches. I love that he will pass and I know nothing will really change a basketball player’s nature, but isn’t it common sense, when you’re down low and you’re absolutely owning a guy, to just finish on him? Anyway, I’m hoping that after hopefully more pushing and prodding from BShaw, Phil, Rambo, etc, Lamar will realize it’s not being selfish if you have a great matchup and you’re at the hoop.

  46. Fun fact, Lebron and Kobe play different positions. At times it seems as though they are doing the same job, but in fact, they play two completely different roles. James is a small forward while Kobe is a shooting guard. James is much bigger and bulkier thus making it difficult for Kobe to defend him. Lebron is a high flier and Kobe seems to shoot more from about 15-20 feet. Lebron’s teammates have learned to set screens to free up the court for him while Phil Jackson has Kobe’s teammates running around setting up the play to find the open shot, no matter who’s shot it is. The Cavs offense is a free for all and Lebron will either shoot if he can get it up and if not he will pass it to whoever is left over from Jame’s double team. I will write on this topic tomorrow, come check it out at http://www.laballtalk.com

  47. It was Kobe, playing basketball the right way, and Labron, playing like Kobe used to play–and Labron won! Wrong moral message delivered.

    I’ve been too depressed to post.

    Luke may have had difficulty at the end, but he made a great steal/dunk against Labron. Lamar filled out his stat sheet today, and took only one of those Oh! No! Dumb! threes. Kwame helped foul out Ilgaskus and made most of his shots, got rebounds, no turnovers, but forgot how to make free throws, and made some momentum changing mistakes in the fourth quarter. Derek Fisher missed all his threes. VladRad missed 2 shots, had a foul and a turnover in five minutes. When Kobe allowed himself to be lured into one-on-one against Labron, he sometimes lost his composure.–and missed two consecutive free throws near the end for 13-18–not Kobe style freethrowing. But Kobe made some truly brilliant assists, and made an offensive rebound after Kwame missed two free throws that was pure inspiration.

    If you want to pick and blame, you can blame almost any Laker you want–I guess even Phil. I was surprized that someone didn’t blame it all on the maintenance men for not drying out the court well enough and making Kobe slip and turn the ball over. I know, that guy should have been fired on the spot!

    Labron may have done us in, but he’s no Kobe Bryant.

    Now if Lamar had gotten a bit more frustrated and tried one of his football moves on Labron . . . . . .

    It would have been dumb and it would have been wrong, but I would have felt better.

  48. Class:

    I have never been to this site before. I am a Cleveland and Lebron fan and I like to go to other teams blogs to read what is being said about the cavs from a different perspective.

    I have to say that the LA bloggers have class. Usually, when I go to another Blog, I read how terrible Lebron is and how the officials blew every call. It is nice to read comments from intelligent/civil fans.

    It is refreshing compared to Detroit/NY etc….

  49. i really admire coach phil about his decision in subtituting kwame for luke . i think he just making a new trend in that situation , so in the playoffs probably they can relate in that moment . about kwame i think phil just wanna give him confidence so he can realize it. so when the big game is there .. maybe next time he can deliver.

  50. A striking difference in the ball game was how the two teams chose to defend the stars with the game on the line.

    The CAVS doubled Kobe high immediately to get the ball out his hands (resulting in a weak, lazy pass back to Luke with LJ running at him). Kobe checked Lebron one-on-one. As sad it is to write (as it was to watch), it was painfully easy for Lebron to look Kobe off to his left, take one dribble to his right and get a very good look at the hoop. I think Lebron would get this look against any one defender in the history of the league (that’s why no team would cover him one-on-one). It is hubris of Kobe (and Phil) that he could.

    Oh and Phil… please please play DJ instead of Kwame…

    Kwame’s -4 point in 20 seconds was a killer…

  51. For everyone talking about these losses being a learning experience for the team…How about the old school thought that wins instill confidence in teams…Especially wins against good teams. Like maybe Washington beating Boston twice this year. We had three tough opponents in a row, with a day off between each of them. We could have won any of the games, but did not. Phil’s coaching has something to do with at least two of the three games. I think that is a damning observation right there.

  52. #42, I’m with you Kev, I felt like when Kwame came in yesterday, all the “mo” shifted away from the Lakers, it was like they were playing with only 4 guys.
    Sure there were other reasons for the loss, especially in the last couple of minutes, but this game didn’t have to swing away and be so close at the end.
    After the notorious “boos” at Staples a while ago, Kwame came out and played a couple of respectable games, and he still seems to be trying to try hard, stay somewhat focused…
    but once he gets fouled, it all goes downhill.
    he simply can’t hit his freethrows with any consistency. (he had an air ball the other day). he has added the “motion” now before he shoots, and I hope he finds a way to be consistent, because his fear of embarrassment at the FT line is THE reason he can’t catch the ball, (or do anything else down there on O).
    he’s the typical “deer in the headlights”.

  53. Cavs were also very highly motivated, after losing to Phoenix on their home court letting them come back from 18 down.

    We need a stretch of games against some cruddy teams to build our confidence again. Hopefully we still remain a good road outfit.

  54. In it’s current state, the Lakers roster needs to play exceptionally well to beat decent teams. There is no room for error.

  55. Without Bynum, the Lakers perimeter defense is mediocre at best. Cleveland has good outside shooters; LeBron is excellent at finding open teammates. If they doubled LeBron, it would have turned out worse.

  56. Can we give a complement to Kwame for a change? For all of the things he’s not, he actually has pretty good interior passing. And I liked him a lot in the last couple games.

    Let’s start a new trend and start thinking about Kwame like a late second rounder that is being forced to play outside his game because the two centers in the rotation in front of him went down. I think we’ll be a lot happier to see that same ugly game with lowered expectations.

  57. The 10 million dollar coach is costing the Lakers games. His stubborness and giant ego are smothering his common sense.

  58. 54-I completley agree. Think of the teams they have lost to, Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio and Clevleand. All of those teams (except S.A.) are hot right now, and are elite teams. As long as we beat the “teams we should beat” we will stay in the mix until we are healtyh…Now if we lose to the Knicks