Preview and Chat: The Atlanta Hawks

Kurt —  February 6, 2008

Records: Lakers 31-16 (5 seed); Hawks 20-24 (7 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.7 (5th); Hawks 105.0 (20th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.3 (8th); Hawks 106.4 (9th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladamir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Hawks: Anthony Johnson, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford

UPDATE: The Kamenetzky brothers (Andrew and Brian) had me on their Purple, Gold and Blue podcast today to talk all things Lakers and Western Conference. We discuss Pau’s first night, just how tough the Lakers will be all around once everyone gets healthy, and if Shaq can get healthy. And if he does, can he really provide the defense the Suns need anymore? You can listen to it either at the LA Times Lakers Blog site or on NowLive. Check it out, they are smart and witty, and I only stumble over my own words like 12 times.

Lakers Notes: Just a few plays that I love from the second half of last night:

Early in the second half, Pau is a strong-side forward in the triangle and comes out to set the high pick for Fisher on the wing, then because his defender (Josh Boone) stays back Pau slides out to 18 feet on the pick-and-pop, and Fish gets him the ball. But as Gasol gets it and Boone comes out toward him he uses a surprisingly quick first step to blow by Boone, gets under the basket and makes a reverse lay-up, plus gets the and one.

11 minutes left in the fourth, Gasol sets the high pick this time for Kobe, both Nets players try to trap Kobe and Gasol rolls to the hoop. Kobe splits the double and hits Gasol with the pass as Carter rotates to him fast, but Gasol sees the whole floor and whips a pass cross-court to a wide-open Sasha for a three. Which he misses, but that happens. Keep making that quick pass to the open man and the Lakers will score a lot of points. (I want to see a lot of this play where Gasol sets the pick for Kobe in crunch time, seriously who do you defend here? The Lakers had some great looks with this play.)

8:53 Fourth Quarter: Farmar has the ball out on the left wing and throws it to Luke Walton cutting up to the free throw line from the weak side. Gasol has sealed off Sean Williams on the block and is now open, Luke quickly spins by his man and takes a step into the lane and looks to pass to Gasol, except Williams will not leave Pau and basically concedes the lay-up to Luke rather than leave his man. This used to happen all the time with Bynum, leave him and there was a lob and dunk, but we haven’t seen that for a few weeks.

5:10 Fourth Quarter. After the Lakers work it around the perimeter Fisher feeds it to Pau on the right block, Boone behind him. Then Fisher cuts through baseline beneath Pau and that draws Kidd to the area who chooses to double Pau (who has 20 at this point), so Gasol makes a nifty little no-look over the head pass to Fisher for the lay-up.

Other things that were great to see: A better defensive effort, holding the Nets to 96.8 offensive rating and shooting 45.8% (eFG%); Radmanovic really finding his spots in the offense in the last couple games, and putting the ball on the floor when defenders run at him; the Lakers using their height advantage — Pau posted up, Odom did, Kobe did with Kidd on him; Kobe passing that much when his shot is off (and the Lakers winning when his shot is off); great spacing in the offense;

Now, for the obligatory disclaimer — it’s just one game. And the Nets aren’t a good team right now. Still, if you were not smiling after that game, you aren’t a Lakers fan. (But you wouldn’t be smiling if you were a Spurs fan, or a Mavs fan, or a Suns fan, or a….)

Shaq in the Valley of the Sun: If this ends up happening (as it appears it will pending physicals), so much for that whole “we don’t want to pay the luxury tax” thing the Suns owners were professing.

Shaq, even what’s left of him, certainly brings an inside presence that they have not had in Phoenix during recent years. He can still score some and grab some rebounds, and he can pass well out of the post (and now has a much better cast to pass to).

But, I think this is a bad move on two levels. One, he still slows the game down clogging the paint in a way their guys cutting and penetrating are not used to. He hasn’t run the floor in years. And, I don’t think he opens up the half-court offense that much because he no longer commands the double team. (The Lakers, with Bynum or even Gasol and Mbenga will not have to.) It is still going to be Nash’s team, and Shaq will get a few pretty lobs, but I don’t see this as a brilliant move. And on defense, well, Shaq for Marion doesn’t seem like a much of a win. In the comments someone put it well — Shaq is now a better version of Kwame Brown. He can defend man-on-man on the low block, but step away from the hoop or ask him to rotate and, well, Shaq back in 2000 could do those things, but today not so much.

Second, and more importantly, it cuts away at the core of what the Suns were. They hadn’t won a title, sure, but from the owner on down it was clear what the Suns were trying to do. The coach was at the core of that philosophy. Now Steve Kerr is changing that, clearly trying to match up with other teams in the West (the Spurs and Lakers). He may eventually change the philosophy, but once you start to move away from the style of team you’ve built on the court there will be an ugly transition period.

The best line I read has come from the always-insightful Bethlehem Shoals at Free Darko:

“If the Suns were going to win a title, it should’ve been on their own terms. They should’ve thrown themselves back in it again, knowing that they’d brought something to this game, something that could beat back others. It would’ve taken a little luck, or a particularly torrid run, but that’s what their whole style was predicated on. Now, we’re back in the realm of positivism. Rotting positivism. As far as the eye can see.”

The Hawks Coming In: For the second night in the row, the Lakers play a team with a ton of potential that don’t live up to it on a regular basis. However, the Hawks have a better excuse — they are young and improving.

Josh Smith is the leader of the “insanely talented but will he bring it?” group. Two nights ago against the 76ers he turned heads: 19 points, nine assists, nine blocks, six rebounds and four steals. But there are plenty of very athletic and long guys on this roster — All Star Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Josh Childress and so on. That makes them dangerous.

But what has keyed the success the Hawks are having is defense. (By the way, 20-24 and the seven seed really is success for Hawks fans, after all they have been through.) The Hawks defense this season has been almost identical to that of the Lakers overall. What they do well is create turnovers with that length and quickness, but you can get them on the offensive boards.

Keys To The Game: First and foremost, it depends on what Hawks team shows up on offense — they have a lot of skill but haven’t really figured out how to use it. This is very much NBA isolation, one-on-one basketball. The times I’ve watched I thought they could use more structure in their offense, but as these guys mature in the NBA they may like a more flexible, isolation offense better. But as fans, we can at least count on a few spectacular plays from the Hawks.

The Lakers should be able to attack on the offensive glass and get put backs, only five teams give up more offensive boards than Atlanta. And, this could be a big night for Lamar Odom (assuming that is who Josh Smith guards). Smith loves to come from the weak side and block — if Odom can stay in space and the Lakers penetrators keep their eyes open Odom should get some open looks.

Because of the Lakers height, they may be able to create mismatches on the high pick-and-roll, the Hawks switch everything. Also, the Lakers need to protect the ball, the Hawks pressure a lot and try to use their athleticism to disrupt.

Where you can watch: Game time is 4 pm (Pacific) but again the Los Angeles KCAL broadcast doesn’t start until 5:30. Remember if you are watching the game live to put “spoiler alert” on your comments, protecting those of us in LA who have to wait.

Kurt

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102 responses to Preview and Chat: The Atlanta Hawks

  1. Kurt – I am not sure how to evaluate this trade. On one hand – a Shaq/Amare front line is formidable. On the other hand – this slows down what the Suns do best – run. Is it possible this elevates their defense and rebounding enough to make up for the changes on offense? Also – doesn’t this seem like a last ditch effort by the Suns to stay relevant? Next year, Shaq, Nash and Hill will all be one year older, with that many more miles on the tires. In contrast, the Lakers are getting younger. This has the smell of desperation.

  2. I probably would advise you to put spoiler ALERTS on you comments in addition to putting “spoilers on your comments for those watching in LA”.

  3. *your comments

  4. Were the Suns going to win as currently constructed? i don’t think so. If you agree with that, then making a change is a no-brainer.

    does this give them a better chance, at least in the short term? I think so.

    This also allows them to match up better with the Lakers. Odom always did pretty well on Marion, so the Lakers lose out there. Bynum will have his hands full with Shaq (although I think the Lakers win there), which (presumably) leaves Gasol on Stoudamire. Suns win that match-up. That makes it a crap shoot with the rest of the team. I still give the edge to the Lakers, but it’s not nearly as much of an edge as it was prior to the trade. (If the trade happens.) Fouls (more specifically quick fouls) among Bynum, Gasol, Shaq, and Amare will be a huge factor; that also makes home court more significant.

  5. The trade makes sense, even though it’s obviously a gamble. No way were the Suns going to be able to defend a Bynum/Gasol front line.

    Shaq hasn’t been healthy and/or motivated to get back in shape. He’s not as bad as he’s been looking this year, probably.

    Big gamble, but one of the best out there if they want to win a ring. I like it.

  6. The Suns have to be looking at this for 2 reasons. First is improved chemistry. If Marion and STAT were not going to get along, one of them had to go. Which one would you want? Second, Banks’ contract was awful, plus he never played. So if the Suns can gain chemistry and remove their worst contract (in terms of bang for the buck) then they needed to make a deal. The only team desperate enough to take Banks off their hands was the Heat. We’ll just have to see how Shaq fits in. But it’s not like the Suns are going to miss a beat on offense. They never ran a play for Marion. Marion got all his points off fast breaks, kick out jumpers, and put backs. Phoenix will still run it’s screen and roll with STAT, and when the help comes Nash can look for STAT on the roll or Shaq crashing from the weak side. My only question is, can Shaq stay healthy? Marion is one of the most durable players in the league and the Suns already use a short rotation. When Marion is replaced by Shaq, they’ll need durability from him or this is going to end up going very badly. So if Shaq is reinjured in a month….sorry Phoenix.

  7. The Suns-Heat trade makes as much sense for the Suns as the Kwame Brown – Caron Butler trade made for the Lakers.

    Desperate to get a big up front, losing out on skill, scoring, defense and talent.

  8. Obviously, it’s only one game, but Gasol looked as expected to me — efficient and skilled on offense and weak on defense. Teams are going to have an impossible task stopping our offense when we have two long, 7 foot, mobile, highly efficient scorers inside, Kobe on the wing, and our shooters in the corners. There is just no easy way to pressure the attack to slow it down. Double Kobe and we throw it inside. Double inside and we throw it to our shooters. And how do you approach a Kobe/Gasol or Kobe/Bynum pick and roll when you can’t help off of Fisher/Radmanovic/Sasha or Odom cutting to the rim? I expect that we’ll be the most efficient offensive team in the league once healthy.

    Gasol looked lost on defense, always slow rotating and passive helping. He clearly cannot be the anchor of a defense. But, I’m still confident that next to Bynum he will help our defense as a secondary 7 foot deterrent. It will take time, however, and Phil will have to really help him figure out how to be effective.

    I’m completely split on the Shaq deal. There’s no question they were too small for us before and a Shaq/Amare/Diaw front line will do better with our size than before. I also think Shaq has been coasting, as he likes to do, and will look much better on the Suns. But then I remember the Bulls series from last year and think that no matter how hard he tries he’s just a step slow and too beat up. I don’t think his effect on their running game will mean anything. They’ll run the 20 minutes he’s out and he’ll generate few more fast break opportunities with his rebounding. Phoenix also has significantly slowed it down, especially against the relevant elite teams. You don’t see them racing around on SA, Detroit, Boston, etc. Those key playoff series were bound to be grind it out half court battles and Shaq could be critical in creating and preventing easy baskets. We’ll see.

    One possible side benefit is it makes it a tad more likely we win the division, as Phoenix will take a step back as it works Shaq in and deals with his injuries. Getting the 1/2 seed is huge this year as the West is essentially 6 deep (Spurs, Suns, LA, Dallas, NO, Utah). It would be a boon to avoid one of those teams in the first round and see the Suns have to battle SA, Utah, or Dallas first round. With Bynum out, that may be wishful thinking, but it’s worth hoping for.

  9. if this trade happens….awesome…the west is ours for sure then. Shaq is a shell of who he was….plain and simple.

    Go Lake show!!!

  10. cap-wise, it makes sense. shaq and nash both come off the books after 2010, in time for the lebron/wade/etc FA class.

    kerr made a good trade, they were not going to go deep in their present composition. and let’s not forget his other questioned moves (hill and skinner) have come out roses. as a laker fan, this makes them a lot scarier.

    of course, it could all fail miserably, which would be awesome for me.

  11. Ok so pending on the physical today…

    Lets say that the physical doesn’t bode too well, and say the suns decline due to this thus turning the offer down and going back to plan A. Wouldn’t that just ruin the chemistry some more. Knowing that they are ready to go and all only to back out the last minute.

    I can see them going back on this deal, only because the negative outweighs the positive. not only that but when the time comes that nash’ stint is over with the suns, im sure they realize they really dont have much wiggle room due to tossing draft picks left and right.

  12. I just got done doing the Kamenetzky brothers podcast at the LA Times Lakers Blog site. We talked Shaq trade a lot, and I thought Andrew makes a good point:

    Let’s say Shaq gets healthy. The Suns offense is still going to be good, maybe different but still good. But, can Shaq really give them the defense they think he can? He’s going to get in foul trouble with guards blowing past Nash into the paint, and Shaq is a shell of a great defender now. Bottom line, I still don’t get it.

  13. Shaq’s per48 minute averages are still up there. So he is still effective when he plays. Alls I gots to say is whoop it up Lakers!!! Whoop!! Whoop!

  14. I think the Shaq trade could work out marginally well for Phoenix for the following reasons:

    1. PHX needs size in the paint. They get it. This has been the conventional knock on why the Suns can’t go all the way.
    2. It doesn’t matter as much if Shaq can’t rotate like he used to on defense. The other 4 starters can mostly cover. And the points allowed by Shaq’s reduced help defense should be less than the points denied by Shaq’s size.
    3. Shaq doesn’t have to run for the Suns to. Sure, it will slow the tempo some. But a lot of what the Suns running is about are those 2-3 man transition breaks. This won’t be affected. (Kurt Thomas didn’t participate in them, why should Shaq have to?) Though the complete five man unit will obviously be much slower up-and-down.
    4. Shaq gets healthy. Quick. He ain’t Kobe. When he feels he’s in a bad spot, he doesn’t work. He’ll start working hard again in the desert.

    Potential Pitfalls of the Shaq trade:

    1. Does working that extra step on D to cover Shaq’s slower rotations tire the PHX starters even more going into the playoffs?
    2. Can the team handle the schizophrenic nature of the game they will be forced to play when Shaq is or is not on the floor?
    3. Shaq grew tired of the Heat’s season quickly this year. He might not be truly hurt, but he’s not in tip-top condition. It’s a little late in the season to start playing yourself into shape.

  15. The only way the Shaq trade in my mind makes some sense is the Suns plan to revamp everything in 2010m but that’s a far stretch in my book. Otherwise I am sure you can find some other teams who are willing to trade a big body who can actually play defense for any of the Suns talented players. Shaq’s best years as a defender only made the all nba defensive second team. I feel that was only three times the last time being 5+ years ago. His fouls per minutes are way up. To me the suns could have done so much better. I hope the Warriors play the Suns in the first round and the Suns lose to the Warriors because they can’t keep up the tempo.

    As for Pau, he surprised me. I didn’t think he would play as well as he did. It was his first game. The way he moved around the basket and how he made it look so easy I was impressed. Teams won’t double him most of the time unless Kobe is out. When everything is clicking this team is going to be Stephen King scary to the Association.

  16. Kurt,
    I can’t find the link to the podcast (I’m not too familiar with the site).

  17. I think this is a great trade for the Fan. It creates more drama in the West (especially with Lakers). Shaq will definitely be motivated to play his best to regain some sort of pride. He will step up. Miami really needs someone just to stay healthy.

    Don’t worry about Gasol’s defense. He will improve as he gets to know his teammates.

  18. Hey Kurt, I think the Hawks record is 20w-24L. You had it down as 20-14.

  19. Wow! Several of you do not understand enough by observing games.

    A. Gasol is a much better defender than you think. He altered many shots last night. We got killed from the outside. Why? Because Lakers were still in the mindset of Kwame being back on D. Just look at the stats from the 4th and early 1st quarter.

    B. Somebody gave the advantage to Amare over Gasol? What?!?!? Amare’s points come on put backs, deep posts (results in fouls), and alley-oops. Adding Shaq and moving him away from the basket forces him to shoot longer and contested shots, which will slow down his production. He will now be involved in more challenges to beat players 1-on-1. This strays from the Suns’ offensive game plan. Sure he’ll still get give-n-go plays, but they will be reduced when Shaq is in the game. This move hurts the overall character of the Suns offense.

    Defense stays the same. He will alter outside shots, but will be more susceptible to the dribble drive. I give him the same defensive rating as before, because he still has Shaq in the paint behind him.

    C. This trade stinks for the Suns because of the minute ratio. Banks and Marion would receive about 50 min/game while Shaq will average 25 per game from the day of the trade until the end of the season. Shaq will be very fortunate to get a 25 minute average if a trade happens this season.

  20. I’m with Rob in that I think this trade is potentially able to help the Suns, especially with regards to their lack of size but mostly I feel this was a lateral or backwards move for the Suns in the sense that they now open themselves up to the same problems that they create on the offensive end with mismatches coming with a pick a roll. Run a pick and roll with the players Steve and Shaq are guarding and a good tandem tears those two apart.

    I’d also call into question the wisdom of solving locker room strife by bring in shaq. Eventually he’ll start complaining about not being the man and how he wants a new contract. More strife to ensue.

    With the Lakers, we’ve noticed an intangible excitement since the Gasol-Kwame heist. Is it possible Phoenix will see a similar boost now that they’ve got a legit big man? They might feel that they’ve got an answer to the teams who have abused their lack of size in the past.

  21. as far as tonight’s game goes, I’m really looking forward to seeing Atlanta in action. I penciled the Lakers in for a loss here when we did those predictions (pre-Gasol heist) due to the athleticism, the back to back, and the chance for a let down game. Anyway, I want to see Al Horford and Marvin Williams to see how they play given the attention they’ve garnered over the course of the season. It’s always great to see talented young players showing flashes of brilliance that might come together in the future.

  22. Sorry, no matter how Shaqtacular it is for Phoenix, we’re having too much fun with our team. As the heretic who felt that a trade for Gasol was better for the Lakers than KG, and who kept bringing up Gasol, I should be claiming credit for my “vision.”

    Instead, I now think I severely underestimated how well all the pieces fit. I somehow didn’t notice that Gasol completes a “Euro” contingent with VladRad, Sasha, and Ronny working with Kobe–who is really part Euro himself. I underappreciated that Gasol is motivated by nothing less than championships. I underappreciated Pau’s powerful Spanish speaking fan base.

    Most of all, I underappreciated how much fun the Lakers are going to have. Kobe may have been the only one who really “knew,” but I think that even he an Pau were pleased at how well it actually works in a game. Lamar was suddenly brilliant, Fisher was a demon, VladRad was having fun.

    We saw in game one what I expected in week 2. What’s it going to be like when Gasol actually picks it all up? I’m not even ready to consider things when Bynum and
    Ariza come back.

  23. excuse me for the triple post… don’t ban/flame me…

    did anyone else know kobe is planning to participate in the three point contest? I had no idea. http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080206/SPORTS03/80206053/0/NEWS04

    I hate to doubt kobe in anything, but I don’t think he’ll win. I think Kapono wins again.

  24. 23. I had no idea Kobe was doing the three point shooting contest, that was just announced. And, that is quite a group, Nash and Gibson can fill it up as well.

    16. At the LA Times Laker Blog site, just scroll down and it’s on the right hand side. Looks like a little gray radio looking thing and says “My Live Show” at the top.

    Also, I finally cleaned up a few of the mistakes in that post, including Atlanta’s record..

  25. Not sure I agree with all the “when Shaq gets in shape” comments. Shaq actually already had about the lowest body fat level he’s had in years. The Shaq everyone was saying was washed up was moving about as fast as his worn-down frame can go these days. He’ll do some positive things for them. But what happens when he starts demanding the ball? Does Amare go off on him about how its his team?
    And Reed makes an excellent point about the value of getting the 1-2 seed this year. Why are the Suns so worried about the Lakers only? Odds are they won’t even meet in the playoffs this year, and they could very easily lose in the 1st (!) round of the playoffs should they draw any one of those six teams reed mentioned.
    And this deal only confirms Marion’s point that he gets no love on that team. Nobody is even talking about what they lose in him. Never mind Shaq a second, Amare is going to cover Boozer, Nowitzki, West, Duncan, etc.? And some of us are concerned about Gasol at that position, I’m sorry but Amare is much worse on D.
    Speaking of Pau…perfect, perfect fit for the triangle. So perfect. So he’s not perfect on D, we can find a way to cover for that. And he can’t really be judged until he’s playing the 4 on D when Andrew’s back anyway. Maybe he’ll look better, maybe those aforementioned 4′s will make look worse. Can’t wait to find out for sure!

  26. 12-I can’t think of 3 worse individual defenders that start for contending teams than Nash, Shaq and Amare. Swiss cheese

  27. Hey. Been reading the blog for months. First Post.
    The most important part about last night’s game was Kobe’s comment, “there is a g-d, there is a g-d” He looked so giddy out there.

  28. Trivial quirks to the Shaq trade (if it happens).

    First, Shaq has now been traded both for Lamar Odom and for Shawn Marion, who have each been famously rumored to be traded for each other. (Which is also peculiar because of course neither is Shaq’s position.)

    Also (perhaps less peculiar), Shaq has played for 4 teams now, and every single one has been a bonafide sun belt town (Florida, LA, Florida, ‘Land of the Sun’).

  29. Kurt, great spot on the Kamenetzky bros podcast. I like what those guys do over there, they’re funny and scour the lakerweb for interesting pieces.

    22. You’re last point is minor but bears repeating: I’m not even able to yet consider how everything comes together when Bynum and Ariza come back. I almost think it would be wrong to do so. It’s just too much to comprehend all at once. (And I mean that in the best possible way.) For now let’s just enjoy this unexpected, almost unbelievable, and thrilling ride.

    Here’s to structuring the rest of my evenings for the next several months around Laker games.

  30. #4- Stoudamire could probably score on Gasol at will, you’re right, but Gasol can also score on Stoudamire at will. The Suns, even with Shaq, would not be able to slow down our offense.

  31. 11 games so far without Andrew: 6-5
    9 game road trip so far: 3-1

  32. I dont get it…

    Sahq PER and other stats are still pretty good..when he plays…there is one problem with those figures thou…..

    THEY ARE IN THE EAST…lets not forget that….how has he fared against above 500 teams…how has he fared against the West top 8?

    I bet you DWade is stoked that he dosent have to start with the “Come on Shaq…get it together” attittude…like Kobe took heat for.

    I love Shaquille…and I really would love to see one last hurrah (and that championship in Miami wasnt his…that was a DWade and Zoe). So I want him to be succesful….but NOT IN PHONIEX!!!!

  33. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Shaq to the Suns is a donation to the Lakers. I would gladly welcome the deal because Shawn Marion has recently been making the Lakers lives a lot more difficult. He has been the top performer according to ESPN in two of the three games against the Lakers and Shaq will not thrive in the run-n-gun Phoenix offense. Bring it on…

  34. well now that kobe’s jacked up his finger it seems unlikely he’ll win the shooting contest

  35. Rob-Out of those 5 loses, 2 came down to the last play of the game (Det and Cle) and 2 we played 2 strong quarters (SA and Dal). I really like the way the team has responded, special kudos to Kobe, Turiaf, Sasha and the team’s understanding of the tri.

    Tonite-I think we should pound pound pound the ball inside. Horford Williams and Smith are all 6’9 and under. We should be able to utilize the nice inside passing chemistry that Pau and LO exhibited.

  36. So does this mean the lakers can institute a “hack a shaq” stratigy against the suns in the playoffs? haha but really I think the NBATV anouncers where dead on when they said with pau in the lineup there is no weakness on the Lakers roster when it comes to the charity stripe.

  37. Bold gamble by Suns that works if Shaq stays relatively healthy thru PlayOffs.
    In the East he rarely faced quality bigs,the opposing Cs flopped alot drawing charges. In the West that will not happen as much. He still draws a foul or two a Quarter,which for a Suns team that rarely gets another team’s player in foul trouble can be invaluable. He will draw the defense’s attention on Phoenix shot attempt’s in 1/2 court making it easier for Stoudamire to swoop in and get offensive rebounds. His passing out of post will help when Nash takes a break.
    But Kurt,after watching quite a few Heat games,successful lobs to Shaq will be few and far between-he has little lift from a stationary position.

  38. Hollinger made some great points about why the shaq trade is a stinker.. mostly that the suns (with marion) are on pace for a 58 win season. Why tinker with that? They only lost to SA last year b/c of that lame suspension and they would have destroyed the Cavs just as easily as SA in a seven game series.

    Personally, I think it makes the suns weaker. Marion is there, “do everything” guy or as Jalen Rose put it, there MIP. Losing him is gonna hurt come playoff time or around any significant injuries.. I love Shaq, even when he burned the Lakers all those years ago (as he did the magic before them and surely the heat after he leaves) but the guy is over and done and he knows it. This is more Shaqs last chance than anything else…and I think it’s just a bone headed move by steve kerr.

    back in the showtime era, Riley was famous for extending Kareems career by at least 4 seasons by devising a plan to start him but then quickly sub in Mychal Thompson in the 1st quarter. Cap still got his and the Lakers kept winning… It amazes me that Riley is so off the deep end (maybe cause zo is no longer avail?) that he just chucks the dude when he knows (riley) he had a crap off-season and didn’t rebuild properly. It just stinks to see Riles and Shaq’s careers come to this…especially when they both could have just made it work. I get the salary cap issues… but sometimes you just have to go with loyalty and heart… something that both of them have forgotten all about.

    As far as the Lakers? WOW, WOW,WOW,WOW!!!! Pau is the perfect addition and the thought of him and Bynum is just UNREAL… I have no words other than THANK YOU Basketball Gods!!! THANK YOU!!!

  39. ESPN is reporting the Shaq trade as done.

  40. 19- Yes, yes and yes! Saying Gasol is poor on defense reeks of racial stereotyping. He’s a very effective defensive player.

  41. Gasol is better in D as a 4. Nowitzki achieved very low points defended by Gasol (11pts in a game, 14pts in other game…). Gasol looked out of place in the game, but eventually he will also fit in the defensive scheme as he did in the Spanish National Team. Don’t worry, he will do it great as he did yesterday, even better. Go Lakers!!!

    Regards from Spain

  42. So what are the mavs going to do. No way Cuban sits and watches the Lakers and Suns make big moves while he keeps the one and done mavs as is. Im just waiting for the Kidd anouncement.

  43. I don’t think Shaq will fit in the Suns sketch but I do have one thing clear: Mitch & Phil knows exactly what they’re doing… Pau fits perfectly in the Lakers, adding a lot of skilled european big guy goodness! When he gets adapted 100% to the team and Bynum gets back (moving Pau to his natural position, PF) this team will be unstoppable… so many power!!!

    Fisher/Bryant/Odom/Gasol/Bynum

    I know this have been said a lot already.. but this line up is just scary!!!

    The game vs the Nets was just a little preview of what’s coming…

    and btw, I think ‘Pow’ is the best nickname for Pau Gasol

  44. Kudos to you Kurt. From those start up days with all of 2 -4 comments/post to today’s 100+, this is great to see! I’ll echo everyone’s Paumania here. Great assesment of our new D by Reed.

    As for Shaq, providing he is committed to becoming the second coming of Wilt Chamberlain as a Laker, this can work. After all, which scares you more, especially on defense- Amare/Marion/Diaw/Hill or Shaq/Amare/Diaw/Hill? Who has played center for the Suns when Amare was resting anyhow? I will say that one of Shaq’s great, unappreciated skills has been his passing. But compared to the triangle’s share the passing scheme in which Shaq flourished, the Sun’s offense tends to go through one Steve Nash. This is definitely going to entail some changed roles and probable friction. Looks like Mikey D will be earning his $ more than ever.

  45. I know the NBA is a global thing now, but it seems to me that we’ve got a lot of non US born players…
    how many languages can the Lakers team speak?
    Mbenga and Ronnie speak something like 6 each,
    then there’s Vlad and Sasha
    Kobe is fluent in Italian isn’t he?
    Pau reps Spain…
    I guess that’s about it. (did I forget someone?)
    still, that’s a lot of different backgrounds.

  46. Lakers Bringing Fear To The NBA February 6, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    I dont know what Phoenix is thinking. Maybe hoping a change in scenery can help motivate shaq to play and be in shape. Another thing is they run so much, so why make this trade? Agree with many that this looks like a desperate act to answer the Lakers trade in getting Gasol. Marion was an explosive player fit perfectly to run and score. I say a bad trade for the Suns. THey should have traded him to a player that fits their style of play, and not slow down the offense that makes them successful. Shaq is no longer Shaq. Anyways, onto the laker game…. should blow out the Hawks, if they dont overlook them. Hope Kobe gets well soon. The pinky injury doesnt seem serious, but it can definitely affect his shot. Just gives Pau even more motivation to step up and score more. Same with Lamar.

  47. Jeremy – I like Hollinger a lot, but disagree with the basis for his argument in this case. There may be a lot of reasons the Suns shouldn’t have traded for Shaq, but holding up their regular season win totals as one of them is just plain wrong.

    We know the Suns are built for the regular season. This move is intended to make them a better team in the playoffs. Heck, the Suns might even know this move will cost them some regular season victories as they figure it out.

    But never forget any contender’s goal is to win a championship, not to maximize regular season wins. Just ask the Patriots about that.

  48. Man i dont know what to make of the suns, were they not the top runner for garnett before the season started? now they settle for past-prime shaq.

    IMO i would have preferred garnett/marion/nash as oppose to shaq/stoudamire/nash. desperation move at its best.

    gl to shaq though.

  49. If you want to watch the laker game live online for free try this:

    http://www.channelsurfing.net/

    Just scroll down and click on the Lakers link, you don’t have to install anything.

  50. Lakers Vs Hawks:
    I predict another double digit victory for the Lakers. Being back to back the bench may need to have a more significant role, but for all the youth and talent in in Atlanta, they are still just a sub 500 Eastern Conference Team and the Lakers are contenders.

    Lakers Vs Nets:
    What an incredible game from Pau Gasol in his Laker debut. Despite foul trouble in the first half Gasol managed to have a remarkably efficient second half. I thought his passing, jump shots and drives to the basket were all very fluid within the offense. He did not look like one of the chickens with their heads cut off that the Lakers were when they were trying to play Hamblem’s version of the triangle a few years ago. It is very evident how high is IQ is by his seamless transition to the offense and pass recognition of his teammates. Posting up, passing and cutting (isn’t that the triangle in a nutshell?). Yes I know it is just one game, but I am pretty confident that Gasol will continue to fit in very well, he is smart and he is a winner. Gasol’s defense was not great but not horrible either. I think if it was not for the foul trouble (the reach on Carter in the 1st was clearly a phantom call) Gasol would have been a little more aggressive on defense and possibly picked up a block or two as he did alter several shots.

    With the way that 4 out of the 5 starters played, this game should have been a blow out. Unfortunately the one starter who had a rough game and a finger injury was superstar Kobe Bryant. Was he ever lucky that Gasol suited up tonight to over shadow his 6 point 7 turnover debacle, that I have yet to hear anyone comment on. I know this site is a Laker love fest and I am one of Kobe’s biggest fans, but you have to tell it like it is. It wasn’t all bad for Kobe, who had 2 steals, 2 blocks and 8 assists (at least a couple of which were to Gasol). Realistically though, if I was to suggest that Kobe would miss 10 of 13 shots, not get to the free throw line even once (averaging 10.2 attempts per game in Bynum’s absence) and turn the ball over more times than all of his teammates combined, I don’t think that anyone would consider the outcome would be a Lakers 15 point victory; against a New Jersey team that already beat them on their home floor this year with a healthy and effective Bynum.

    SHAQ for Marion Trade

    I believe that anyone who thinks that this is a good trade for the Suns is kidding themselves. Have you seen Shaq play this season? He is the “token big man” that he vowed he would never become.

    I think Pat Riley is a genius; instead of negotiating a buy out for Shaq and starting an immediate rebuild, he now has two of the most versatile players in the NBA. Not that Marion will turn around Miami this season, that is a lost cause, but he can be the first step to a productive off season that makes them legitimate in the east, where it is not very hard to make the playoffs. Marion is 29 years old and one of the most under rated and underappreciated talents in the league. He does everything well as he can hit the three (.347 3pt%), shoot mid range and take it to the hoop (.526 FG%), pass (2.1 asst), rebound (9.9rpg), block shots (1.5bpg), and steal the ball (2.0bpg). Shaq is turning 35 next month and will never be a dominate force in the NBA again. I need not to discuss his stats for comparison, because there is none.

    However I do not think that Shaq will hurt the team too much at all. Even if he is injured or can’t play enough minutes in the up tempo offense, this will open up minutes for the very talented Hill and Diaw to share. This would have been a great trade a couple years ago, because Shaq would have had enough left to take the Suns to a championship, but today the Suns have just traded away part of their future for a deteriorating Shaq, and I know they could have done better.

    Personally I am happy to see Shaq on a competitive team again, as he deserves it. I also will be happy to see him play more games against Kobe and our Lakers.

    If Shaq can bring the playoff magic that he has so many times displayed before and take the Suns to the promise land this year, it will truly be his best accomplishment among a great hall of fame resume; but I sure wouldn’t bet on it happening and I hope no one holds their breath.

    Side Note
    In case anyone forgot, Kwame had a debut yesterday as well. Let’s compare stats:
    Gasol: (34 minutes) 24 points, 12 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 1 Steal, 3 Fouls, 2 Turnovers
    Vs.
    Brown: (15 minutes) 4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 fouls and 3 turnovers; he did make BOTH FREE THROWS!

    I’d say it was a good trade.

  51. The trade is done… I couldn’t help but look into the details of Marion’s impact on his team and am so glad he is now out of Phoenix… I even decided to stray away from the Lakers topic a bit and discuss the Suns on my page!!

  52. SPOILER

    With Kobe off the floor Lakes still have so many threats!!!

  53. I predict that when Shaq returns (any word on when that’s supposed to be?) his numbers will go up. He may even average close to 20/10 for the rest of the year and people will declare him a success. But his success will come at the expense of the Sun’s identity and their overall offensive efficiency will suffer while their defensive efficiency will not improve proportionately.

  54. Not to be jumping the gun…too much anyways, but 20th of February, @ PHX.

    SPOILER!

    The Radman is having a great game so far. The bench, not so much. They’re a combined 3/10 so far.

  55. man, more than anything, i think kobe smiling as he’s playing is really priceless.

    at the same time he isn’t losing intensity either, it just appears that he’s playing at the highest level and at the same time truly he enjoys playing… his shooters are knocking down long distance shots, his cutters are making layups, and his post up players are making passes and making back to the basket plays!

    in re shaq trade… something about it make me a bit queasy… hopefully i’m wrong.

  56. This is NOT a spoiler comment…
    Just way, way off topic – but about sports.

    I loved the story today that Roger Clements lawyer called Brian McNamee (the trainer who testified against Clements) deceptive, because he gave federal investigators items that prove Roger took performance enhancing drugs.

    Wasn’t it Roger Clements who taped a phone conversation with McNamee without his knowledge and then released it to the press? What goes around comes around.

    I guess we can’t believe Roger Clements either! Such a surprise.

  57. I love that Marion Mr. I’m so underappreciated is finally traded. Let him taste what winning 1 out of the last 20 tastes like. But you know what’s funny? He won’t even be the number one banana b/c of a certain Mr. Wade. Oh the irony…

    Shaq…
    I love the Kwame comparison, b/c this season Shaq has been playing with injuries and hasn’t been able to finish around the basket. Then again he now has Nash to feed him the ball. Phoenix has excellent 3 pt shooters so that should increase the effectiveness for Shaq. My question is do they run the offense through Shaq first? That takes Phoenix out of their whole give the ball to Nash and let him create mentality. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    Finally, does Shaq have what it takes to guard Duncan, Bynum, Gasol, or Boozer? I’m going with no, but then again we’ll have to see how healthy Shaq is. Alright klac time let’s go lakers!!!

  58. SPOILER

    Lakers look tired. Getting beaten in transition at will by the Hawks.

  59. I wonder how the NBA will finish that Hawks v. Heat OT game now that Shaq is a Phx Suns.

  60. Happy Chinese New Year, everyone.

  61. SPOILER,
    Kobe is 0 for his last 7. Oy.

  62. lol DY I don’t think anyone has even thought of that… since it was shaq that was wrongly excluded from the game wtf are they going to do?!

  63. DY: When’s that replay scheduled for? That adds a funny new wrinkle to an already bizarre situation.

  64. 63. No idea…perhaps Earl Barron will suffice as a replacement for Shaq…

  65. SPOILER

    Uhh… Ty Lue? Really? What IS it with the Lakers allowing journeymen to have huge games against them?

    On another note, Lamar, FREE THROWS argh.

  66. Oh, SPOILER again

    Wow. 20 rebounds for Horford? Ouch. That’s… Unfortunate.

  67. They were going to reply it before the next atl v miami game…

  68. SPOILER

    Unfortunate the game is going to be decided by a ref’s bad call… Shame shame, foul on Fish?

  69. SPOILER

    Lakers deserve to lose after that last play.

  70. SPOILER:
    :08.0 LAL – Over and back violation on K. Bryant
    Como? I think Kobe is having a hangover from getting Gasol. I mean, Kobe was soooo happy there’s no way he was in a sober state of mind. I think this game ought to be a wake-up call.

  71. SPOILER

    Lakers shoot 62.5% on FTs (10/16), ATL shoots 93% (13/14). Dang.

  72. SPOILER

    Sorry, make that 15/16, nearly 94%.

  73. **Spoiler**

    ouch… sasha…

    even more so, slippery floor and missed FT… doh!

  74. SPOILER

    lakers lose. Rebounding was key during the game. Hawks outrebounded and had many transition points compared to the lakers.

  75. Another one of those we could have won. If the guys had the composure to close-out games such as these we could have been 4 to 5 wins better.

    Same reason why we lost to Detroit… FREE THROWS!!! Those two misses on important freethrows by Fish and Lamar did us in again.

  76. SPOILER ALERT

    Kurt-If you do a breakdown, let me suggest you start from where the bench pushed the lead back out to
    85-77. After that Atlanta took a timeout, the starters came back in and proceeded to give up an 11-2 run that lead to the loss. I think we didn’t go inside enough all game.

  77. Alright, who’s ready for a TOTAL non-sequiter?

    I think we can all agree that up until this point the “where amazing happens” commercials have been kinda cool (as commercials go). I just gotta bitch about the new one with Chris Paul and Caron Butler. Nothing against those guys at all, but the “wheres”, so to speak, are totally non-specific. Part of what made those commercial neat was the specificity of them. I felt like I was part of the NBA club. I remember Kobe’s 81. I remember Nash, and his annoying Canadian sportsmanship, congratulating Timmy after that heartbreaking loss. Shaq is immovable. Benny does have a sweet fro. But now we’ve got “where bringing it home happens.” “Where wanting it more happens.” What the hell is that?! I wanna see a picture of Dick Bavetta and Chuckles frozen in a stadium of flashbulbs; “where still shockingly quick happens.” A mash-up picture of Pau Gasol in a Lakers Uniform just standing there next to Bynum, with Odom and fish out of focus in the background, “where Kevin who? happens.”

    Just thought I’d bitch a little.

  78. –SPOILER–

    Lamar, make your Effin free throws and stop giving up offensive boards….

    terrible way to lose, especially cause the 2nd unit held the lead for us in the 4th.

    Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford are stellar. they should make the playoffs with that core.

  79. the other Stephen February 6, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    66. happy chinese new year to you too.

    i don’t think the spoiler alerts helped at all.

  80. I gotta say, this one I put on Kobe and Lamar.

    Kobe because he insisted on controlling things when he was really not at full strength. Sometimes we all have to have a little faith.

    Lamar because he doesn’t seem to be able to guard a lamppost when that post moves to the 3pt line. Hey, sometimes we all have to stay with our man and not concentrate on rebounds.

    Bad habits beget bad results.

  81. well remember fellas, way back before the Gasol news (which was a huge surprise don’t forget) that we were all picking our w/l ratio for the 9 game road trip, and the average I seem to recall was about 4-5 or 5-4…
    well, right now we are 3 and 2, with some of the tougher teams behind us, and with this new energy bc of the addition of Pau (POW!) and subtraction of Kwame.
    so, again, a tough loss, but again, lessons learned I am sure. PJ and the team will review this loss and take something positive away from it.
    …like how to close out games!

  82. TRADE GASOL!

  83. Well, this game was not a bad loss at all. 2nd game of a back-to-back with a new player, Kobe injured, team adjusting and trying to re-integrate. The finger must be really bothering Kobe but he played a relatively good game, 10 assists and 1 TO (only the turnover was a crucial one).

    Only Orlando scares me for the rest of the trip. Charlotte, Miami, and Minnesota after that? It’ll be a shame if Lakers lose any of those 3. 6-3 is still very probable.

    Most people are jumping on PJ for inserting the starters in and killing the flow of the game. I don’t see it that way. In the playoffs, those guys are going to be there at the end so might as well get them warmed up and prepared. It was a game that the Lakers should’ve won but like chris h (81) said, they’ll take something positive out of it.

    The future is bright. Now I’m dying to see how Shaq fits into the Suns.

  84. chris h,
    You are right. I picked 6-3 as the most probable and I still could be right.

    It is just that this game was so winnable. I still don’t know what Phil has Lamar in the game near the end – didn’t he learn anything in Detroit? However, it wasn’t Lamar at the end. It was the refusal of people to utilize the offense and move to create passing lanes. The habit of waiting on Kobe is just a very tough one to break, even for Kobe.

  85. No excuse for the loss since the Lakers were controlling the game for about 45 minutes. The reason why the Hawks hung around was b/c they were willing to outwork the Lakers. Yea, the Lakers were on a back to back on their 5th game of a roadtrip but c’mon all those offensive rebounds and points in the paint really hurt us. Hopefully this is a lesson that needs to be learned. B/c this needs to shape up if we’re gonna be a contender.

    on another note….
    chris paul vs. nash was awesome…. but a little scary b/c that’s the type of point guard we’re gonna have to stop in the playoffs. Hope they work that out.

  86. Bad game for the Lakers. Kobe is not even playing since Gasol debut (just some assisting)… and that stupid turnover at the end… the Lakers lost their last chance of winning there…

    Not a bad game for Gasol, though let’s clear out something; he is efficient in D, but he’s a better defender in his natural position (4) as it’s obvious, and he’s more of an offensive player as well. When Bynum gets back and Pau moves to his position we’ll see a better D in the team, that’s for sure.

    The Lakers also looked a little bit tired and the Hawks got a good night.

    Just a game anyways.

    GO LAKERS!!!

  87. A few bumps along the road are to be expected as Gasol is eased into the system. On reflection his 24 pts in his Laker debut was incredible considering the circumstances. This season is only looking more positive following the news out of Phoenix, a road loss to the Hawks is not end of days and games such as this where Kobe takes a backseat offensively are only going to be of benefit come playoff time, regardless of the end result.

  88. I guess I don’t mind the loss so much as I wonder if Phil is able to make in-game adjustments. I know that is sacrilege, but he has only left the 2nd unit in once before this year and they were widening the gap. This time they were holding their own and slowly adding a point here-and-there. When Kobe and Lamar were subbed back in all the momentum stopped. I realize this is not the norm, but ATL is a very young club and this would have been a good time to leave the 2nd unit in to give them all some quality minutes.

    Yeah, yeah! If we had lost the lead in the end we all would have been criticizing Phil, but we lost anyway.

  89. My only real concern about the current squad is the lack of a genuine backup big man with playoff experience, let alone championship experience. Duncan is obviously still a force and Shaq’s arrival, reeking of desperation as much as it is, forces the Lakers to contemplate the possibility that a bigger body may be needed. Mihm would probably be adequately suited to fill this role if his availability were in anyway reliable, regardless he can hardly claim to have proven himself as a consistent playoff performer.

    Don’t get me wrong, the combination of Gasol and Bynum ensures the Lakers are a major force inside, particularly with a strong rebounding 6-10 small forward filling out the front line. While the bench is among the best in the league in terms of depth and versatility, with the departure of Kwame there isn’t really a player noted for his defense and rebounding apart from Turiaf, who to be fair is the quintessential hustling reserve forward though he will not be at his best in the playoffs if he is forced to guard the likes of Duncan, Shaq, Yao etc for a sustained period of time.

    Of course, the problem lies in the fact that there aren’t that many players available to fill this role. Obviously the jury is still out on whether Mbenga can fill this role, though personally come playoff time I’d feel a little more confident if he had a few more legitimate war stories. A guy like PJ Brown would almost guarantee the Lakers a trip to the Finals, though by all reports he is well an truly grown accustomed to retirement. I’d even be willing to add a guy like Kevin Willis as a twelfth or thirteenth man to play something of a John Salley role and to perhaps add 5 minutes of toughness, rebounding and fouls to give.

  90. 4 games in 6 days, all road games, with a key new player, the team may looked tired at the end of the game, and when you’re tired, the first thing to go is execution. You could pin the losses to Clevleand, Detroit and Atlanta on failing to exectute offensivley and defensivley in the last 3 minutes of the game. Hopefully these situation serve as growing pains for a team that will become very efficient in the last minutes of games.

  91. 90. Let me add on to that thought: For all the concern about the playoffs and how this team will do, there will not be any losses like last night because the games are spread out more. The first round takes like a month, you play two games a week. Even after that the closest games get is every other night. The execution does need to get better, but the tired part will not be an issue.

  92. So I didn’t get to watch the game, first one I have missed all season. I ordered leagues pass because in San Diego I do not get road games. I recorded the game on DVR and came home after work to watch it and it was all black. It turns out league pass broadcasted a blacked out game because the Hawks couldn’t sell out the game so they blacked it out and I didn’t get to watch it because of Hawks fans. This is what my cable guy said. Anyone else have this problem who has league pass?

    From what I have read it seems like the road trip got to the team. Also how bad is Kobes pinky? The highlights I saw, his shot did not look like it did in the beginning of the road trip(where he couldn’t miss). I am glad to hear the bench came through in the end of the game, too bad Joe Johnson can make his free throws.

  93. http://boss.streamos.com/wmedia-live/nba/12195/512_nba-suns_060914.asx

    Shaq and the suns major press conference if u guys are interested should start in a few min.

  94. After watching the past two games, the person affected most negatively has to be Ronny. His minutes have obviously dropped off and he hasn’t been able to spark the offense or defense (except that one monster block) in the limited role he’s been given. I kind of miss his contributions we grew accustomed to in the first part of the road trip.

  95. I forgot how freaking funny Shaq was. And as much as I HATE Raja the douche, I am excited to see how this Suns team comes together.

  96. #92 hey man, i live in san diego also and have league pass. I dvr’d the game also, but mine played back fine. We got to watch the entire game with no problem. Sounds like the cable guy is givin you the run around

  97. This was the fifth game in seven days. The Lakers looked tired down the stretch, and Pau looked tired for the whole game. The last few days have been a whirlwind for him, so that’s perfectly understandable. I believe that when the team is tired, they are more susceptible to standing around and watching Kobe. Also, it should be obvious to everyone watching that Kobe’s finger isn’t right. The Hawks knew it too, as they gave him a lot more room than most teams do. They wanted him to shoot his jump shot and wanted to prevent his drives, so his primary defender stayed way back. I was really bummed about losing this game, but I can totally understand it. Also remember that young, high-jumping, athletic teams can give the Lakers trouble on the boards and as secondary shotblockers. Then when you have a star like Joe Johnson (and a journeyman like Tyronn Lue playing out of his mind), you have a recipe for losing.

  98. OT-I knew late last night that something was going down out here in the Valley. There were constant sirens for hours. Most nights I don’t even hear one siren. Reminded me of the North Hollywood shootout.

  99. 96 – Do you have Time Warner or Cox? I am calling them back today and letting my voice be heard. Heads will roll for this.

  100. Im re-watching the first half of the game here in class (hahahaha) and wow, Lamar can run the floor so damn well in transition – honestly I would hate to see him go. Lamar to Kobe to Gasol for the dunk – BEAUTIFUL!

  101. Lamar Odom is back! February 7, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    anybody know what day bynum and ariza will come back? how long has it been since they’ve been hurt?

  102. #99 – i have time warner i beleive