Preview and Chat: The Phoenix Suns

Kurt —  February 20, 2008

Records: Lakers 36-17 (3 seed); Suns 37-16 (2 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.1 (2nd); Suns 115.2 (1st)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.4 (8th); Suns 107.9 (15th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radminovic, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Suns: Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal

Lamar Odom talks: Over at Lamar Odom’s personal website, there is a new 12-minute interview with the man just before the All Star break where he talks about a wide range of topics. While at no point does he mock Coby Karl, the video is still worth watching. Among the highlights:

• Says that the last road trip was very good for him, and people are now noticing the little things he does more, in part because the team is winning.

• “With the addition of Pau, I can have a great game getting 12 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists, helping control the tempo on the perimeter.”

• He talked about his slower start to the season, saying it part that was due to an inability to train like he wanted in the summer and through training camp. He feels like he is coming around now, starting to peak.

• “We could change basketball here in America if we counted the hockey assist.”

• He compared the eventual pairing of Bynum and Gasol to an effective twin-towers duo — Tim Duncan and David Robinson. He said that with the two of them protecting the rim the Lakers could be a force on defense.

• He talks about his music label.

• “If we all get healthy at the same time, we can definitely go to the big dance, we can compete for a ring.”

Lakers Notes: Coby Karl has a career high in scoring last night to go with a surprising big-air dunk — you know good things are happening when that is the case.

The Lakers used a pressure defense to force 19 first half Hawk turnovers, and that was your ball game. Not a lot of breakdown warranted, the turnovers led to a very efficient Laker offense. The Hawks, in their first game with a new PG, looked lost and were quickly demoralized, which in turn led to a half-assed effort on defense from them as the first half wore on.

The best part for the Lakers — the starters got plenty of rest heading into a big, nationally-televised back-to-back.

The Suns Coming In: You’ve got to say this for the Suns under Steve Kerr — they were willing to take the big risk. Tonight is the first step in seeing if that will pay off.

With Shaq the Suns certainly gives them a bigger, more traditional inside presence. I have no doubt that Steve Nash can get him the ball in places he can succeed some on offense. I think the Suns will still score, the question (as always in the Valley of the Sun) is defense. One thing not to overlook — part of the Suns problems on defense is they are a weak rebounding team, the worst defensive rebounding team in the NBA this season (allowing opponents to grab 31% of their misses). Shaq will help change that.

One Sun who has been on a tear lately is Amare — is averaging 25 and 10, while shooting 59.2% inside the arc, in his last 10 games. Nash continues to be Nash. And let me admit that before the season I questioned the Suns getting Grant Hill, I didn’t think there was much left in the tank. I was wrong, he’s been a solid fit, not taking up too much of their offense (just 17% of shots when on the floor) and shooting a solid 53.2% eFG%.

Keys To The Game: If the Lakers do one thing on offense tonight when Shaq is in the game, it should be a ton of high pick-and-rolls. Both with Kobe and Fisher handling the ball. The reason is simple — in 2000, in (arguably) his prime, Shaq was unimpressive at defending the pick and roll. He’s worse now. If he comes out to defend it, there are no intimidating Suns guarding the rim (or, Amare can leave Odom/Radminovic and pay that price). If he stays in the paint, Pau pops out and drains the 18 footer. Also Fisher should handle the ball a lot in that situation because Nash is poor at defending the P&R as well — combined with Shaq the Lakers should be able to exploit that.

Shaq or no Shaq, it is Nash that stirs the drink in Phoenix and the game plan to stopping the Suns is the same as the last two meetings (which the Lakers won) — make Nash the shooter, don’t let him start feeding Amare or Hill or Shaq for easy dunks. And when he drives the lane everyone cannot collapse off their man to protect the paint, leaving three point shooters open. Lamar, I’m looking at you. Let Nash have a big scoring night, that’s not how the Suns win.

And, of course — transition defense. Go after offensive rebounds so the Suns all can’t take off early. Run back fast. Make them jump shooters and try to take away the easy buckets.

Where you can watch: The game is at 6 pm (Pacific) on KCAL 9 in Los Angeles and ESPN everywhere.

91 responses to Preview and Chat: The Phoenix Suns

  1. I think the game is actually at 6pm Pacific… can’t wait for a good show!

  2. 1. It is and the correction is made. Thanks for the catch.

  3. Let the picking and rolling begin…

    Diaw will be a key for them offensively. They can’t let him keep them in the game like he did last time with that free throw line jumper.

    I don’t think Shaq will be as bad as some are saying, I expect him to be solid but not much more than that. I think where the Suns really will be hurt by this trade is missing the havoc that Marion could create on the defensive end…

  4. My keys to the game:

    1. Defend the 3 pt line.

    2. Run Kobe/Gasol pick and roll every time Shaq is on the court (well, as often as possible…). Avoid repeatedly going to Kobe isolation against Bell.

    3. Pau must stay out of foul trouble — tough task against Shaq/Amare.

    4. Turnovers. We must protect the ball and prevent their running game.

    This is a great measuring stick game for the Lakers. They’ve had a mixed showing in such games/situation so far — getting killed by Boston twice, beating the Suns on Christmas, responding on the road trip, etc. Unfortunately, it’s a perfect storm of energy for the Suns, with Shaq’s debut at home, hatred for LA, the division lead on the line, the season series on the line, and so forth. I’m not too worried about whether we in, but it’s crucial that we learn to play well against elite teams that are motivated to beat us.

    As a side note, is the Kobe/Gasol pick and roll the most powerful play we’ve seen in recent Laker history? Is there a big man better positioned to run the play with Kobe? As several have noted, Pau can catch and finish at the rim, catch and pass to a shooter/cutter if the defense collapses, pop out for a 15 footer — and all on the move. Not many 7 footers that can catch, score, pass, and shoot in so many situations. And that doesn’t touch Kobe’s ability to split the double, turn the corner, or just shoot the 20 footer. Add in Fisher, Radmanovic, Sasha, and Farmar spacing the floor and Odom cutting to the rim and it’s an impossible play to defend. The only defense is a really aggressive, fast trap against Kobe that forces him to pass it to someone besides Pau and then quick rotations/recovery. Not sure Shaq and Amare are up to it, as Kurt notes.

  5. Good post reed and good analysis Kurt. The Lakers need excellent floor spacing, good ball movement, and lots of screens on the offensive end tonight.

    As long as they can stop the transition, the Lakers can take the Suns out of their game and force them to become a half-court offense. Especially with Shaq. How will the Suns look with Shaq playing the post?

  6. Kurt, you bring up Lamar and covering the 3 pt. line and it’s a great point because that is one of his major lapses, game to game. But, I actually think that Lamar is really gonna have to be active with his interior defense and rebounding tonight. The days of him covering Marion are gone. He’s gonna have to deal with Stat on the offensive glass and his athleticism around the rim. Lamar is really going to have to be aware as Nash is extremely crafty at threading bounce passes in the lane and throwing up lob passes for Amare to flush on the fly or just snatch out of the air in close position to finish around the hoop. Lamar is going to be seeing a different monster than he is used to in these LA/Phoenix match-ups.

    Also, I totally agree with Reed. Pau can’t get in foul trouble tonight. It’s now the Suns that have the beefy front line and our team (w/o Bynum) that has depth issues when matching up with big frontlines (think Cleveland, for example) and Gasol is going to be key to all our offensive pick and roll sets that we can’t afford him to be out with early foul trouble.

    I can’t wait for this game though. Winning would be great, but I’m really looking for that competitive fire on defense and poise on offense. If we execute on both ends, we should win. The talent gap has closed and you could argue, it’s now in our favor. It’s time to play!

  7. Excellent break down by Kurt and Reed. As an NBA fan, I’m excited to see how Shaq and Amare work together, and how easy Nash makes the game for Shaq.

    Like Reed says, this is going to be a MOTIVATED Suns team. But the flip side is that we damn-well know that Kobe is galvanized with the this Laker team right now. There is a contagious energy spreading through the Laker roster and it showed on defense last night. The question that will need to be answered is whether we will be able to sustain that defensive effort.

    In the coming weeks (this game should be a good indicator) we’ll see if the Lakers will be a motivated team truly competing for a championship – a la the Celtics of this year. You see it with the Celtics – even when KG goes out with an injury or when their bench players come in, they sustain a high level of intensity on both ends of the court.

    The Lakers have done the same, especially on this recent road trip. We’ve been winning a lot of games and have been in the ones we’ve lost. Championship contenders compete and give an A for effort every game. Hopefully we respond to the energy that’s buzzing through Phoenix right now.

  8. Well, i heard that Dantoni said Shaq will only get approx 20 minutes tonight. I’m sure the Big Chamberneezy will be feeling his way around. I know the Suns fans are gonna be geeked for this one tonight just like the Lakers crowd was last night.

    Hopefully the Lakers jump on them early and can take the crowd right out of this one.

    Lakers 116
    Suns 109

    My prediction yesterday was not too far off, so hopefully that will be a trend because i’m always gonna pick our Lakers. Obviously! LOL

  9. I actually would not mind seeing some iso plays for Pau. Lately Pau has been pretty effective at getting centers in foul trouble. Also, I think Stat is a better matchup for Lamar considering how much he sagged off around the perimeter.

  10. I agree with the sentiments that tonight’s game is not necessarily a must-win for the Lakers, but that a high level of intensity and competitive fire are really what our boys need to show. After being at last night’s game, it’s clear they know how to exploit weaker teams, the new challenge is to find their way consistently against elite teams. Foul trouble will be a factor, but I think even Turiaf could run the P&R with our guards if it’s Shaq defending. Kobe’s finger looked fine last night (high-fives, dunks, threes, etc.) but he also was very protective of it when he drove the lane, often turning his body so his left shoulder led the way. I look for the Sun to be very grabby and slappy with him, especially if he takes it inside, and I also look for the Suns to test the durability of the finger by playing Kobe the same way Kurt mentioned we’ll be guarding Nash: not letting him get others involved, but forcing him to score all the points. The difference is that Kobe LOVES that and also the triangle is structured so that passes and ball movement come naturally, not necessarily as the result of a drive-and-kick like in the Sun’s system. Of course it’s all hypothetical right now, but this game reminds me of when the Lakers and Blazers had the same league-leading record late in the regular season of 99-00, and the fallout from that game affected both teams the rest of the way. The safety net for the Lakers is that they are still a Bynum away from unstoppable, but this is it for the Suns, unless they’re gonna say that Shaq just needs more time to get into “shape”. Either way, yes, I am equating Shaq now to Sabonis then, ha!

  11. Gasol absolutely needs to stay out of foul trouble, even if that means giving up some uncontested shots. On the other end, both Shaq and Amare have a tendency to get into foul trouble, so make them play defense.

    In re Lamar, the team and Bynum himself were still trying to figure out how to use him best on offense; he wasn’t a “real” number 2 option yet; more like a co-#2 with Lamar. Gasol is a “real” number 2 option, so Odom has less offensive pressure on him, which seems to help.

  12. I’m not sure Shaq’s 8 boards per game (5 defensive) are going to help them more than the 10 boards per game (8 defensive) the guy they traded for him was getting. It’s sort of like the kid who kills his parents, then pleads for mercy on account of he’s an orphan.

  13. I’d like to see how shaq and Kobe handle their “relationship” when they are both in their 50’s. It just strikes me as odd that two teammates had such great success and then there is always drama surrounding them. Name me when something like this happend before.

    I am looking forward to this game for several reasons:
    1. Point Guard play. We know Steve Nash can play but how will the D-Fish and Farmar play back. They both can cause damage but it seems Nash always gets the upper hand.
    2. LO. How will he do now that Marion isn’t there. He used to eat the Suns up.
    3. Bigmen Battle. We are skilled with Pau and energetic with Ronny but without Big Bynum we don’t have much muscle. As someone eluded to earlier we can get them in foul trouble and they are very foul prone.
    4. Not the announcers. I have to watch it on ESPN so that means the Kobe-Shaq thing will be brought up more than a sane man can handle.

  14. BShaw: try watching the game on ESPN, but turn down the volume and listen to the game over AM570s web stream

  15. Awesome post at FD today on Suns/Lakers, and by extension the maturation of Shaq/Kobe.

  16. I hope the Lakers pick-and-roll shaq to death.

  17. adding kurt thomas might help spurs a lot against Lakers and shaq

  18. My keys to the game:

    Contain Barbosa. If he doesn’t always have a huge game when he plays us, it sure feels like it.

    VladRad. PHX’s defense will target Kobe, our big men have big men of their own to contend with. VladRad can really throw a monkey wrench in PHX’s defensive plans if he steps up.

    Get Amare in early foul trouble. He’s prone to it. We have big guys who can iso against him with good results.

    Other than that, I look forward to watching 20 minuts of 4 on 5 whenever Shaq is lumbering up the court.

  19. To be honest, Kobe and Shaq have made more progress in the last couple years with their relationship than I thought they would have.

  20. Another key to the game, that hasn’t been mentioned could be making Shaq shoot free throws. Especially if he is getting alot of good looks at the basket. I really am anxious to see how Shaq fits in with Nash and what happens when they dump the ball into Shaq.

    vr, Xei

  21. here are the intangables to watch for tonight-
    1) the 6th man, the Phx home crowd, I’ve been to several Laker/Suns games in Phx and that crowd, the way they blast the music, it’s funny, they play cool hip hop when the Suns have the ball, and this weird crazy out of rhythm mixture of sounds when the Lakers are on O. this arena is wild! (and I’ve personally seen security toss out Laker fans when they weren’t that bad, but arguing with the locals). the Lakers are going to have to find a way to feed off this energy, not let them get down from this hostile environment, they really know how to use the crowd over there.
    2) Raja bell, I really don’t like this guy, he seems to get away with way too much man handling, and flops, and other BS. he’s a scrappy defender, and I also think he’s kind of a dirty player, like the time he tossed Kobe in the playoffs a year ago, (around the neck, if I remember correctly).
    anyway, watch out for Raja trying to hack the pinkie tonight…

  22. PJ’s never instituted the hack-a-shaq, has he? That’d be weird to see. It’s kind of striking that it supposedly took a phone call from Bill Russel to get Shaq to make ammends with Kobe. And speaking of all-time firsts Shaq and Kobe present, have there ever been teammates with more idiosyncratic names?

  23. A quick run of the Lakers road record vs the Suns home record in the Log5 formula, puts the Suns win expectancy at 64.89% for tonight

    vr, Xei

  24. Kurt Thomas has been traded from Seattle to San Antonio for Brent Barry, Francisco Elson and a 2009 first-rounder.

  25. Anybody else worried Bell is gonna be an ass and just go after The Pinky? I know that there is supposed to be SOME professionalism from NBA players, but RJ has always disliked Kobe and my gut says that if Raja has a couple fouls to give and Kobe starts going off in the 4th, he’s playing cheap ball. For the record, I predict a come-from-behind victory for the Lakers – 104-109.

  26. The San Antonio trade is probably the 4th biggest trade this month, but it definitely doesn’t help us. Keeps them old, but also makes them an even better defensive team. Ugh. Oh well. If you love the game, you want your team to succeed by beating the best…

  27. How many first rounders has Sam Presti stacked up? If he drafts well, that team will be back in the mix in a couple of seasons.

  28. The crazy thing about Kurt Thomas is that Presti got a first round pick for taking in, and then got a first round pick for sending him out. To say that worked out for him would be an understatement.

  29. And the carnage begins, Phoenix is the “land of the rising sun.” Amazing ESPN, amazing.

  30. My thoughts on that deal:

    Basically Presti turned a second round pick and a trade exemption into three first round picks (2008 from the Suns, 2009 from the Spurs, and 2010 fom the Suns). That’s a damn good GM right there!

  31. The ESPN announcers are such Suns homers it’s not even funny.

    I guess that’s why it’s called the “four letter network”.

  32. There was a report that the site may have been down for a bit, if you experienced something like that send me an email or leave me a comment.

  33. Wow, how many times does Nash and Stoudemire get away with the forearm?!?!

  34. That forearm is annoying. You know what I bet the Suns think are annoying — Gasol’s oh-so pretty hook shots.

  35. kobe is asking for the ball almost every time down the court..
    i hope he can share the ball a little bit more heading into the 4th quarter.

  36. looking at the boxscore i just thought….

    This is gonna be scary good when ‘Drew gets back. wow. That can’t happen soon enough.

  37. Has anyone ever seen them show the “touches” stat like they’re doing with Shaq, as if he were a running back? Weird.

  38. Has anyone ever seen this “touches” stat like they’re showing with Shaq, as if he were a running back? Weird.

  39. It’s great to see Gasol taking advantage of O’Neal’s seeming inability to consistently get up and down the court late in the game. Easy dunk with the opportunity for a 3-point play as Shaq was too slow to get back on defense.

  40. I love Shaq, 3 of 8 from the line and took out Raja!

  41. 35 – I think you mean Shaq is 3 of 10 from the line, with a pair of statistical assists from the officials. =P

  42. Booyah Pau! What I said in 34 only moreso. Time for some stops, now!

  43. suns are going…

  44. That was just a pleasure to watch. Who else loved Vujacic jumping on Pau after his dunk from the Kobe outlet–it just felt good to watch as a fan =)

  45. HELLZ YEAH!! NBA you are on notice. The Lakers are BACK and badder than ever!

    That was AMAZING B-Ball – Poised, Polished & Professional. Kobe was on a mission and gasol is a godsend… and I feel like an idiot for asking for Lamar to be traded less than a month ago… he has appeared to have found his niche.


  46. 41 – Yeah, I love that Sasha is so affectionate! He’s shown that side to him a number of times.

  47. I revise my game keys…

    No pick and roll; total kobe isolation.

    Kobe gave us a game for the ages.

  48. 45. Dude come on.

  49. was that a KB block on a Shaq dunk-attempt?!!! whew

  50. Is it just me or is the forearm comment moving lower and lower on the comments?

    Also a very entertaining game. I think Raja Bell had 0 points, and generally it used to be that when he or Marion would be hitting 3’s that wold kill us. A bit interesting thing is, when we are healthy, we are actually going to matchup even better with the suns.

    Also, love the passion from Pau and that [man]bear hug from The Machine haha.

  51. AHHHHH!




  52. Not the type of game I expected from the Lakers, but a fun one to watch and a thrilling W. The Lakers shot 58.7% (eFG%) as a team. But our defense and defensive rebounding… well, I’d be worried if I didn’t know Bynum would be back.

  53. I think I love Shaq again: 3 for 8 from the line and he took out Raja too!

  54. I try to be objective when I watch Laker games. So I would like to know what others thought of the officiating? It seemed like the Suns got all the calls. I haven’t looked at the nimbers, but sometimes that doesn’t tell the whole story either.


    and to think we’re doing all this without Andrew.
    the future’s so bright…
    gotta wear shades.

    although, it is going to be a battle to the end, hope all teams are healthy at the end, it’s going to be one wild playoff season!

    now we got a couple days off, then the clips, seattle, portland, gotta take care of the teams we’re supposed to beat, and stay on top of the division.

  56. btw kurt, earlier today, your site wasn’t coming up on my PC, but it did on my mac.
    that was earlier in the day, let me try now, looks like the pc is still not bringing you up.
    but you are up on the mac, or else I wouldn’t be writing this.

  57. as reported on truehoop…. steve nash should be streaming live on this thing now…


    should be interesting seeing live streaming questions from lots of drunk people and how he deals with it…. of course… although i can’t stand many of the suns, nash has always been a funny guy and a class act.

    oh, and yeah… crazy [stuff] going on here with the site tonight, kurt

  58. After the game only one thing comes to mind:


    Not only does Kobe get outshined by a dude playing with 2 future HOFers, he doesn’t get credit for playing with a broken pinkie when that other dude missed out on multiple games now from a nagging injury, and he had the perfect game tonight.

    There is something wrong with David Stern, the basketball sportswriters, and the NBA if Bryant does not get the MVP this year. He is Kobe Bryant and not Michael Jordan. Do not try and judge him for the man that you think he should be, but judge him for the man he is.

  59. A truly inspiring win. Not an easy one but still worth the anxiety.

    I’m glad the guy’s pulled-out the win. However, I felt that the Suns exposed a chink on the team’s armor with this game… lack of inside muscle. Consider the stats:

    Offensive Rebounds – Phx 16 LA 7
    Defensive Rebounds – Phx 30 LA 26
    Total Rebounds – Phx 46 LA 33

    Whenever we made a run, the Suns turned-on their inside game and instantly made a game out of it, i. e. Shaq’s six straight points late in the 4th that cut the lead down to 1.

    I am not saying that we suck in the defensive end but I really feel that the guys should make a concerted effort to help each other defensively most especially in rebounding. They should try to hold the fort until Andrew comes back most especially during games with teams that has a strong inside presence like the Spurs.

    We have no problem offensively. It was a joy watching the team closed-out the game through team effort. Two assists in two important and succesive plays in the last two minutes of the 4th.

    I hope Drew comes back as scheduled. We have a strong and competitive team that can be dominant with another strong and agile big man.


  60. Anyone watching the Celtics v Warriors? Warriors up by 2 with 28 sec left. Warriors possession. Exciting stuff.

  61. i try to look at the officiating from an objective standpoint as well, and yes, the suns got some calls, but how about that crucial jump-ball call between Shaq and Pau going the Lakers way? Pau was the one that tipped it out of bounds, not Shaq. Yet the Lakers got the ball. Come on folks, officiating was pretty even throughout this game.

  62. Such a good win. On the road, on the wrong end of a back-to-back, against one of the best teams in the L riding the emotional high of the Shaq trade. Anyone else feel like we took their best shot (huge game from Amare, great Nash/Hill games, solid Shaq game, hard to expext much more) and just weren’t phased. We’ve had a ton of thrilling wins, but tonight’s might have been the most significant thus far. I am feeling amped up. With the Suns’ upcoming schedule, we should be able to hang on to our lead for the Pacific for a while; would be nice to maintain it the rest of the way. (Also, Kobe’s pinkie is a lie)

  63. Awww!!!!!!!

    Baron wins it for GS!!!!!


  64. 55, I thought that most of the calls were in the Suns favor as well (what was up with that play where Amare bumped into Nash, dunked, and then Nash got a free throw?, also the dumb goal-tend on Kobe when he blocked Shaq’s shot that had no chance of going in). However, they bailed us out when Pau tipped the ball out of bounds and they gave it back to us anyway. I’m glad we won, despite a so-so defensive night.

    Additionally, I personally thought the announcers on ESPN tonight were terrible. They should’ve had Van Gundy and Mark Jackson and whoever the third guy on the crew is.

  65. Statement win.

  66. Great win. You knew Phoenix was going to be geeked for this game, and the Lakers never folded.

    Kobe is amazing.

    Not wishing to dump on Luke, who’s been looking a little better of late, and playing with more confidence and control, but has anyone noticed how much trouble he has taking the ball out of bounds? He’s made his rep as a gifted passer, and yet he constantly seems to be running low on the 5 count or burning timeouts when trying to inbound the ball on the baseline. It’s been this way for a couple of years at least.

  67. Another reason to LA fans to be optimistic–the Lakers’ schedule for the rest of the month is not too scary: Clippers, Seattle, Portland, Miami, and Portland again.

    With the Blazers slumping (they’ve dropped their last 5 straight), is anyone else feeling a 14-1 February?

  68. People, do not sleep on those Portland games. That team is legit.

  69. 65. Wasn’t that the automatic technical foul on Lamar for bouncing the ball against the stanchion, giving Nash another free throw?

  70. Referees
    Seriously, I thought the refs gave a lot of the calls to the Suns, but I do admit we did get that jump ball call. For example many times Stoudemire would go to the hoop and Odom barely nudges him. BEEEEP, foul. On the other end Lamar drives and gets contact no foul. Same thing with Gasol, some of the calls against him were atrocious. And that foul against Fisher when he established his position against Nash, unbelievable.

    Kobe was great, offensively and defensively.
    Reed’s comments were great. I was thinking that the pick and roll between those two was going to be special. Pau needed to take a few more outside jumpers cuz his shot was great.

    We need to get Turiaf some more time!!! He has so much confidence in his jumper… c’mon Phil give him some burn.

    Lamar has been working his butt off, and it’s showing on the court, what a great complementary player. He was ferocious tonight and was a key to the game with solid D on Amare and playing within the offense.

    1st place in the Pacific… the whole league is getting shivers….Lakers basketball, it’s FANTASTIC.

  71. If the Lakers finish out the year on top and Kobe does not win the MVP, I don’t know what to think anymore.

    They can’t say that he doesn’t deserve it because he has the talent of Gasol by his side, which isn’t any different with Nash having Marion or Amare, and they can’t give it to Lebron for “single handedly leading his team” because isn’t that what Kobe did two years ago in averaging 35 ppg and leading a mediocre team to the brink of a playoff upset? Not to mention Lebron is in the East and sitting out games due to his pinky, while Kobe is dropping 40 in the mighty West on four fingers.

  72. 65, others: I didn’t think the refereeing was that unfair. I just thought it sucked. So many calls that were not simply wrong (I can deal with wrong), but weirdo calls that didn’t make sense. As Stu pointed out, what’s up with Barbosa not getting a T for kicking the ball after Pau’s hook at the end of the third, not long after Lamar picked up the T for bouncing the ball of the stanchion? Or the jump ball that seemingly surely came off Pau’s hand? Or Strawberry’s fantastic (NOT) acting jobs? Or Barbosa holding the ball up for a second or two between dribbles? How do you not see that palm? Just bizarre.

  73. Uhh, folks, before you decry the unfairness of Kobe not winning the MVP award, can we at least wait until he doesn’t, in fact, win the MVP award?

  74. Brian –

    This resentment has built up over Kobe’s entire career. It’s about time he wins an MVP. Especially, since he will eventually apex from his prime!

  75. Brian –

    This resentment has built up over Kobe’s entire career. It’s about time he wins an MVP. Especially, since he will eventually apex from his prime!

  76. Amare had his way with Lamar, but another strong showing from LO, despite getting banged around without getting too many calls in his favor. I’m still not sure what the best match-ups are against Phoenix, when Shaq is in the game. Bynum won the battle against Amare in the first two games, but if they were to be matched up, who would guard Shaq? Pau and Ronny combined to do a decent job, though Shaq was able to take advantage when they had to help on Amare. Perhaps with Andrew handling Amare one-on-one, Shaq doesn’t get the offensive boards and dunks. Drew on Shaq means Pau or Ronny on Amare, and I don’t know if they’d do much better than LO. Maybe the twin-towers effect will be enough to plug the paint for everyone on the opposing team.

    BTW, I hope the coaching staff finds more ways to get Turiaf on the floor — tonight he essentially filled in for Pau when Pau was on the pine. His mid-range shot is working, and we all know what he can do around the rim, running the O, and on defense. Our depth was a big factor in the win tonight, with valuable minutes coming from Sasha, Jordan, and Ronny off the bench. What an embarrassment of riches!

  77. I hate to spam the board with the same thought, but getting drew back is going to be huge. Phoenix stayed in the game by their work on the glass tonight; that’s a non-issue with drew back.

    re: Burn for Ronny – how cool is it that during every game I’m absolutely pumped to see Ronny, Jordan, and Sasha out there. I want to see Sasha and Jordon getting way more shots out of the offense. We have some serious quality in our bench. That’s an amazingly nice problem to have.

    The Nash streaming video thing was cool, but short. Awesome guy.

    Lastly, Kobe’s been playing absolutely incredibly. I think most everyone agrees he has the most polished game in the League…. he’s the most skilled scorer… other years there have been excuses, but I see this year as being his first opportunity to shine as great player – achieving individually while leading a great team. I think an MVP is in order.

  78. carter blanchard February 21, 2008 at 1:26 am

    The refs weren’t biased against us. But there were iffy calls (both ways). A pet peeve of mine is when a guy gets T’ed for showing frustration at himself, not the officiating, which I think was the case with LO’s technical today. Another call that really irked me was making the unclear lane violation a jump ball, essentially granting them a whole other possession rather than just the extra FT. How did that make sense? Anyway, those are the types of things you let bother you after a loss, not tonight. I would really love to see a Suns series, both because I think it would be hugely entertaining and because when healthy I’d really like our odds. I must say Shaq does appear to have more of an impact than I thought he would (particularly in freeing up Amare, assuming today was no fluke), but I’d still take Marion’s 15 and 9 over Shaq’s anyday. Forget positional concerns, the Matrix is the better rebounder/defender today.

    Also, the GSW win was awesome. Baron is one of a handful that could have hit that.

  79. Yeah, I thought Phil should’ve played Ronny way more than he did, with all he brings to the D. He brought it DJ Mbenga off the bench first (for some reason) and he was completely ineffective on offense and defense. The entire time Mbenga was making mistakes, I was wondering where Ronny was.

  80. great game! I think vlad should get some credit for his defense. Big help in the first half.

  81. excellent post Reed and Kurt.

    i love it how suns came out with fierce intensity and lakers beat them pretty much at their own game. especially at the beginning of the 3rd quarter, how the guys came out firing all those 3’s. it felt good to give them the same headache they’ve been causing us.

    i thought shaq played really well, considering that this is a new system and all, and it made me laugh when he ran back to the other court after one series.

    as usual, nash caused us tons of headache and heartache whlie i thought hill played a nice game as well.

  82. kurt, the site problems are still there, and here’s a bit more info-
    won’t work on my PC, and that’s Internet Explorer.
    does come up on my mac, and that’s safari.

    additional comments on the game-
    I did feel the refs made some bad calls, but the most potential errors for harm to us were the phantom calls on Pau in the 2nd quarter, thus sending Pau to the pine…advantage Phx with Shaq and Amare staying in.
    so in comes Ronnie, who outplays Shaq, out hustles, rebounds and scores Shaq.
    so in my mind, the combination of Phx letting down when pau goes out, thinking they have a nice advantage and should start kicking out butts, along with the unexpected (to Phx, not us LA fans) hustling and outplaying of their players, Ronnie cancelled out any advantage they might have had.

    for the rest of the way, I think the bad calls pretty much cancelled themselves out, in that they were consistently bad for both teams.

    Ronnie was a huge factor in keeping us in the game during that critical 2nd qtr stretch when Pau goes out…yeah ronnie!!!

  83. oh, and I want to thank Shaq for taking out Raja…
    not sure if anyone else noticed, but Raja was pretty quiet most of the game, doing his best to shut down Kobe, but the Suns were also letting Hill have KB some of the time, saving Raja for what they knew would be a blistering 4th quarter.
    then near the end of the game, when it was still anybodies ballgame, close score, back and forth, all it would take is 2 stops and that team would have the lead with only minutes to go.
    just before Shaq took out Raja, there was a play where Kobe had made a couple shots in a row, so this possession, Raja was a blanket on Kobe, (this should have been called a foul and this is why I hate Raja so much, he always gets away with this) he was draped over Kobe, who should have passed out of it but instead he forces up a bad shot, missed, Suns rebound and are off to the races.
    it was my fear that Raja would continue to get away with this, KB continues to force his way through it, expecting a call, but not getting it, and this could have been the end for us.

    but noooooo, next possession, KB drives, Raja backs up, BAM! head to elbow, lights out, stars and tweety birds circling around poor Raja’s noggin (did you see that bump on his head!?)

    Lakers preserve the W, thanks again to Shaq, because I was afraid that Raja would have been the difference maker down the stretch.

  84. My early concerns (# 6) came true and we still pulled out the win. Kobe is playing at a tempo that defies any defense. He is getting to the tin with ease. It’s a beautiful thing to watch when a player is in complete control and can dictate to the defense in order to get whatever he wants. Kobe is in that zone right now. This was the type of game (national tv, everyone watching..even other players) where the Lakers showed what they are capable of. 130 points, execution on offense, and Kobe playing the type of game that truly shows his greatness. I’m not saying we put the league on notice, but I know they are now paying attention. I also loved Wilbon’s comments on SportsCenter after the game.

  85. 80. Darius, any chance you remember what Wilbon said? I missed it, and love that guy, and though he’ll probably repeat on PTI I’m a sucker for guys I love praising the Lake Show.

  86. A lot of hype preceded this season and this game. It did not negatively effect Kobe’s play. On the contrary, Kobe has played inspiring basketball. And not only is he playing through injury, he’s posting MVP numbers through through injury. He not only has heart, but the intelligence and mental dexterity to make little adjustments in his game. His determination is unbelievable.

    I’d like to know two things. First, in the eyes of his teammates, to what extent is Kobe a role model? And second, how much does emulating Kobe factor into their success this year?

  87. phineas: wilbon said a lot. really to much to recall accurately after i was so juiced up like i ate 15 kit kats, but he did go over several topics including:

    *the atmosphere of the game. he said “it’s tough to recall a regular season game living up to the hype. but this one did”

    *that shaq was still finding his way in the suns attack. catching the ball at the high post is new for shaq and he will have to find his groove in the phoenix sets.

    *that the lakers are the best team in the west. with kobe in a zone (he mentioned a pre-game conversation with kobe, where kobe even admitted that he is in a zone right now; feeling confident about where the team is headed) that the lakers are gonna be a tough out and his pick to come out of the west. he consistently said that the lakers are the best team playing the best ball and will be a scary team.

    That’s really all I can remember…sorry I don’t have more. I was so excited to see the Lakers play strong ball against a really good team that my memory is short. Also, living in Oakland, I was flipping back and forth from ESPN to the Warriors/Celtics game, which was amazing as well. Baron Davis, man o man.

  88. kurt, the problem I was having with Internet Explorer and my PC are fixed now, at least the site comes up now, and if this goes through, then it looks like you’re good to go. (ps, checked the mac, ie; safari, also good)

  89. 79) “unclear lane violation a jump ball”

    It wasn’t “unclear” – both teams had a violation, which results in a jump ball. It was the correct call.

  90. Very entertaining game. I thought i was watching the 1987 Denver Nuggets vs the Showtime Lakers for a minute there. Lamar is playing like the Lamar in the playoffs the last 2 seasons only he is doing in now in the regular season.