Learning Some Things

Kurt —  March 12, 2008

In Kobe’s post-game interview after last night’s win he touted the team’s defense in key spots against Toronto.

I really hope, after he watches the tape, he changes that opinion, because by any objective measure the Lakers defense stunk it up last night. — they had an offensive rating of 116.1 (points per 100 possessions) and grabbed 30% of their missed shots (numbers well above their season averages). Toronto didn’t shoot any better than they regularly do (they were right at their season average) but they got a lot more good looks in the paint than they are used to. The Lakers got the win by outscoring their opponents. Again.

That is not going to work in the playoffs, and it’s not going to work on the four-game road trip that starts Friday night in New Orleans. If the same Lakers perimeter defense from the Toronto game shows up against Chris Paul, it could be ugly.

It’s too early to be all doom-and-gloom — Bynum ran on a treadmill yesterday (a $75,000 treadmill that helps support the runner so not too much weight is put on the knee, by the way) and his return will be a defensive boost. And, in the playoffs it’s about matchups and Phil is a master at defense against one team for seven games.

But if the latest Lakers trend in defense continues, these playoffs could be a lot shorter for the Lakers than many predict. Here are some thoughts from some of the regular commenters and better game-analysis guys on this site:

Reed:

I would like to officially retract my post from a few weeks ago about Pau’s arrival potentially transforming our defense to something Spurs-esque. He’s really just lost on defense most the time unless he’s guarding someone with their back to the basket. He also just looks a little sluggish on defense — not a ton of activity. When Kobe’s in gambling mode, Pau is sucked out to the perimeter on pick and rolls, and our point guards face speed, we really struggle.

I worry about the defense because I think it’s a reflection of attitude and effort. Pau, Farmar, etc. could be really effective, smart defenders, but right now they’re putting tremendous strain on our team defense by constantly getting beat or being out of position.

Kwame a.

(Gasol’s) biggest problem seems to be pick-and-roll recovery, as you mentioned previously, it has really allowed teams to get layups. However, his helpside needs to do its job too, and for the most part that help has been late. All around, the D needs to improve, there is no sugar coating this, we are beating teams by outscoring them, and that aint gonna win titles.

Darius:

I honestly think that the players are a little intoxicated with their success. We have won games with lackluster performances, boosting our confidence but also creating a false sense of our overall quality. Players aren’t immune to that feeling of superiority that develops from everyone touting your virtues. And, c’mon, the Lakers are the betting favorite to win the title…no one can tell me players don’t know the betting lines and who the favorites are.

I could do a whole blog’s worth of bad defensive examples from last night, but here are just three to highlight a few things:

9:15 left second quarter, 27-27: After a Turiaf block the Raptors are taking the ball out under the basket. The ball is inbounded to Graham out on the wing (covered by Coby Karl) and Brezec comes over to set the pick. Ronny on Brezec shows out hard to stop the penetration so Graham quickly passes to Humphries out high at the top of the key. Now the Lakers have Ronny looking around to find his man, who had swung out to the wing then with the pass to Humphries makes a be-line for the basket. The help defender is Luke but he follows his man Kopono out of the key the other direction toward the three-point line. The result is a quick pass to Brezec who gets the dunk and gets fouled by the late Turiaf.

6:24 third quarter, Lakers 73-65:
Calderon is dribbling out high when Anthony Parker gets a down-screen that allows him to get the ball out at the three-point line straight away. He keeps his momentum going right and Nesterovic has come out for the high pick and roll. Gasol shows out hard to cut off the penetration, and it works. However Kobe never really takes away the passing lane to the now rolling to the hoop Rasho, and when Gasol turns around he is way too far away to recover. Odom is the help defender but he is a step slow and he can’t stop Rasho’s hook even if he was in the right spot.

4:20 third quarter, 78-71 Lakers. Thee Raptors spread the floor at the three-point line as TJ Ford brings the ball up and doesn’t bother to wait for Rasho to set a pick for him, something Fisher slides over easily, so TJ stops and goes back to his left at the top of the key with the now set Nesterovic in place. This time Fish slides under the pick while Gasol hangs back closer to the free throw line. All the while this is happening Radmanovic keeps watching TJ and cheating up off Moon who is in the corner three spot. Radman is so far up when TJ comes to his left, Vlad wants to stop the penetration so badly he left Moon all alone to cut baseline. Bounce pass and dunk. Really nice dunk.

Again, this is not the end of the Lakers season. There are 18 games to go, which is plenty of time to right the ship, and I truly believe getting Bynum back will be a part of that. But the effort and smart decisions should be there without Drew in the lineup, and right now they are not.

Off topic note: If you didn’t see it yesterday, Hoops Addict has a one-on-one with Turiaf.

Kurt

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60 responses to Learning Some Things

  1. There’s so much talk about how good a defender Kobe can be, locking down opponents when he wants to. But 75% of the times he either gambles into passing lanes or doesn’t rotate/close out on players. His overall team defense seems poor to me. He can and does play good team defense but it’s only when he seems like wants to. If the Lakers want to succeed in the playoffs. Kobe needs to show his effort on the defensive end as soon as the game starts, instead of in the 4th like he always does. He really needs to set the tone right away like he did in the Olympics.

  2. I’m in complete agreement with Reed and Kwame A. Our defense has slipped and our focus since the killer road trip has waned. Hopefully this next killer roadie brings us back together and refocuses us. Pau in particular may have some excuse to losing focus at home since it still isn’t home for him and he has all sorts of other things to consider in between games regarding his past and future living arrangements. I don’t know if that’s really the case or if the intitial excitement of the trade naturally gave way to the realization that this is a very long season, but I have to hope that this stretch wakes us up again.

    No matter what happens, this road trip will tell us a lot about this team and it’s mentality.

  3. I asked Brian Windhorst (beat writer for the Cavs, regular TrueHoop contributor) about Ira Newble, who the Lakers are apparently considering to help bolster the D. Here was his response:

    Ira was guarding bigger power forwards for much of the season, but I thought he played well with the Cavs. He’s in great shape, maybe the best of his career, and he’s got good length. He would totally be a matchup player at this point.

  4. To add to comment #9, a list of potential first round PG’s/penetrators in the first round (all pulled from the bottom half of the playoff standings, which could and will change 20 times before the season is over):

    #9 Denver – A.I.
    #8 Golden State – Boom Dizzle & Monta Ellis (um… uh-oh?)
    #7 Dallas – J Kidd
    #6 Phoenix – Steve Nash
    #5 New Orleans – CP3
    #4 Utah – Derron Williams

    Pretty dangerous list. This 4-game road trip allows us a chance to see where we stand against quick guards and the pick and roll.

    CP3 will pick and roll us to death, as will Derron and the Jazz. Hopefully we will take steps to shore up the D – from the initial pick and roll to the subsequent rotations.

    Personally, I’m not as concerned about our record on this trip as I am about our effort. Everyone from Kurt to Stu Lantz has been harping on it – there’s been a sense of complacency with our team on defense, as if we’ve already accomplished something. We haven’t accomplished anything! We had a bit of success on a long road trip, that’s it.

    My guess is that we’re going to need a reality check – a punch to the stomach, if you will – to get refocused on our real goal. And nothing says reality check like a 1-3 (or even an 0-4) road trip. Lately we haven’t been playing the toughest teams in the league and we’ve bought into an attitude that our offense will carry us against any opponent. Our defensive intensity isn’t what it was on the long road trip when we first acquired Pau. We need to revert to that to have any chance of making some noise come playoff time. And no, I do not believe Bynum and Ariza coming back will be the only way we shore up the defense. We showed we can play D with a passion even without those two. We need to be playing that caliber of D before they come back.

  5. I think the Pau trade did a couple of things:

    1). It re-energized the team at a time when we really needed that boost. I’m not talking about Pau’s production either. I’m strictly talking about how the idea of Pau replacing Kwame affected the mentality of the team. Just reading the headlines was like drinking 5 RedBulls. Kobe got that extra pep in his step and his renewed energy and sense of purpose inspired the team.

    2). One of the big things that is always mentioned when the Lakers aquire a new player is aclimating that player to the offense. It was true of Critt when we drafted him (one of his +’s was that he had played the triangle in High School). We said it about Ariza (how quickly can he learn the offense? when will he see some action?) and we were saying the same thing about Pau. So when we got Pau and put him into game action, I think our focus shifted almost entirely to fitting Pau into the offense. The thing is though, and we all see it, it’s been a perfect fit. But, even though that assimilation went a lot faster and was easier than even the most hopeful optimists would have predicted, we have not gone back to focusing on defense. We are still just focusing on executing the offense. Do I think we can get that focus back? I do. But it may take one of those losses to a really good team where we either execute our offense brilliantly and still lose or get suffocated by a great defense and don’t play the defense we need to play in order to win a game where we don’t score the ball well. This team needs proof that they can’t win playing offense only. Phil needs that teaching oppurtunity; he needs that chance to say “see, this is what we need”. Dropping a game to the Kings or playing close ones against the Raps and Mavs but still winning won’t do the trick. We need to play some playoff teams and lose in a way that the point is made clear: Tighten up the D!!! It sucks to say it too, but this awakening will probably come during this tough road trip. Hostile environments + quality opponents + bad defense = losses. Simple formula.

    Now, I don’t know if any of this will actually happen. Maybe we don’t lose to any of those teams or lose only once and no point is made. Maybe we don’t lose but Phil is still able to get the point across that defense is the most important factor in winning the ring everyone wants. I really don’t know…but, I ultimately think the message will get delivered and we have the type of players that are receptive to coaching and will understand the stakes and we will get it done. The players are too smart and Phil’s too great a coach to let it really hurt us come playoff time. At least I hope that’s the case.

  6. I totally agree with this article. The thing I don’t understand is why isn’t Phil seeing how badly we play defense, and if he is, why aren’t we doing anything to fix it? Even if we are a little drunk on our own success, Phil of all people should be able to see through it and make sure we do a better job of locking down teams. We’re certainly capable of it.

  7. Tony Starks (#15), huh? Who knew Ghostface was a Lakers fan?

  8. We did play a more focused team defense on the road trip, no doubt about that. But, it is worth mentioning, we are playing a very Western conference heavy schedule right now and the rest of the way. We will lose a few of these games because we are playing higher quality of teams night in and night out.

    Fact is even Sacramento would be a playoff team no one wants to play over in the East.

    These last 18 games as well as the playoffs are gonna be a flat-out war. There are no clear cut favorites, all the teams at the top are flawed. Quite frankly, only the Spurs have the experience that can be relied on this time of the year.

    Exciting nonetheless. But i fear i am gonna be on pins and needles for the next couple of months here. I wonder if being a Lakers fan leads a person to be more susceptable to having an ulcer?

  9. hey kurt, have I been edited?
    I asked in a post here about what it takes to stop these speedy PG’s we’re gonna face, ie; is it a tough speedy defensive PG, (and if so, can someone name one?) or, is it a team approach? …and how do other teams successfully stop these guys?
    …but it seems to have dissappeared.
    have I offended?

  10. http://realgm.com/src_wiretap_archives/51398/20080312/clippers_sign_smush_parker/

    Clippers sign Smush Parker. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls another false hope.

  11. 9. Something weird has just happened, there used to be 15+ comments on this post and it shrank back. Trying to find out why.

  12. thanks, I was thinking either I was crazy, and (for the first time ever) got edited.

  13. 12, Well, I make no claims about your sanity, but I didn’t edit you.

    (Notice how what is now comment 7 references #15. Somehow the early comments on this post went missing. This happened once before and my tech guy pulled them out of the archives, somehow.)

  14. why am i the only one not worried? honestly, i’d rather have them suffer a minor losing streak, bounce back and be un the upward swing come playoffs, at the cost of a seed or two or even three.

    of all the teams out there, only team i don’t want to face in the first round are the Spurs. everyone else, in a 7 game series, very comfy. of course securing #1 seed will probably allow us to avoid SA until the WCF, but SA can slip as well and we won’t know anything for certain.

    guys forget, but we did take PHX to a 7 game series when they were arguably at their peak, with Smush and Kwame. Of course it did take a couple Kobe-being-Kobe games, and we didn’t do so great the year after, but just having Pau instead of Kwame and Fish instead of Parker should make things very managable.

    besides, focus will never be a problem in the POs… conditioning and sheer stamina may be. so let the guys take it easy a bit, just enough to stay competitive and work on digging out of holes, keeping close games close, and hopefully even winning from behind.

  15. I agree with you guys that the Lakers may need a jolt and a little dose of reality, but I think if we go either 0-4 or 1-3 on this road trip, it might have lasting effects on this team and the playoff race.
    The fact that we are playing all 4 teams who are just 4 games or less behind us in the loss column means that we could very easily slide down to 6th or 7th by the end of this road trip. We were very happy that the Lakers hung on to that #1 spot during this 16-3 stretch, but the fact is that other playoff teams were facing better competition and we couldn’t separate ourselves further from those teams.
    I know we have one of the easiest schedules remaining after this road trip, but our confidence might suffer if we get blown out a couple of times, which is a threatening possibility.
    We are sure gonna see what we’re made of and our flaws will be exposed this road trip. Let’s hope we dig in and pull some wins out.

  16. Offense begets defense in hoops. I’m not sure if anyone has touched on this yet, but a lot of people seem to be focused on the defense inadequacy when it’s equally apparent that they just aren’t shooting or finishing as well as when Pau first arrived. And they seem to be turning the ball over more. If not more, than at least at bad times (like when they seem to just be about to make a nice run and get some momentum going). When you’re knocking down shots and throwing circus-like oops around the basket and it’s all working, it’s a lot easier to get it up for the D. Otherwise you’re flat footed and getting beaten. Out.

  17. On the Lakers.com practice report video, Phil Jackson said that Bynum was practicing by himself and was dunking the ball. He also said this surprised him. That’s about the extent of the exchange, but it brings up a lot of questions. A) Who was having Bynum doing this stuff that would surprise the head coach? I’m assuming the trainers, but I thought that was weird. B) Seeing as how they didn’t want him running on his full weight yesterday, is the fact that they are having him dunk on his full weight a good sign? C) I take it this means he didn’t swell up after yesterday?

    I kind of wish he hadn’t said anything about it because without the followup it’s just going to get my hopes up again, and we’re guarantess another week of silence coming up as the team goes on the road without him.

  18. Kobe set the tone last night with early 3s and 4 TOs. That also set the tone for the defense. We are basically an offensive club, but it is true that good offense makes defense easier. If Kobe can drive early and try to avoid spectacular passes for efficient ones, I think we will be alright. Hopefully last night was a lesson to K24 to stay fundamental at the start of games.

    We can have our confidence shaken, but the guys basically believe in the system. I don’t see us going 1-3 or 0-4 on this trip and I would be ok with 2-2 – anything better and I think we can hold down #1.

  19. Guys Im watching the Spurs Hornets game and wow… this crowd is IN TO THEIR TEAM like a close play-off game.

  20. Warren Wee Lim March 12, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Conspiracy Theory
    ============
    March 13th 2008

    The Spurs and Lakers want to be 1 and 2. Either way its going to happen, both teams have set themselves a rendezvous in the WCF for all the marbles.

    Truth is, if you try to read the Spurs mind, the only team they are trying to avoid in the 1st 2 rounds is US. They will still be the team to beat but I know they are thinking of the same thing we are with regards to matchups.

    In this script of things, the Lakers will most probably come out #1. Even though the Spurs own the tiebreak at the moment, the Spurs simply have a tough-er sked compared to all other Western teams in playoff contention.

    In the long term, the Spurs might be targeting the #2 after all. Denver has distanced itself from the #8 spot and they too have a tougher sked themselves. So it looks like its GS once more for the #8 and the Spurs would want the Lakers to face this team (better for us too rather than Dallas or Phoenix in the 1st) whereas, the Spurs eat the possible 6’s or 7’s for breakfast.

    The only difference now is, will Houston and New Orleans stay being tied for 3rd… That looks to be an easier mold for the Spurs on rd 2 than for us (Utah).

  21. Warren, Byron Scott has a 30 point lead with two minutes to go in the Spurs-NOH game… Do you really think the Spurs will still want NOH?

    I think they could take roks out way better than NOH or even Dallas.

  22. 17-Ive never heard the NO crowd so loud. NO has a bench now, with B. Wells, the rookie J. Wright, Pargo and Ely. They are a matchup problem for SA. The West is crazy, downright crazy. One night Utah looks the best, another the Mavs, another the Lakers another…

  23. So as far as Bynum goes do we need to concede that Ric Bucher was right?

  24. the other Stephen March 12, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    RONNY IS AWESOME. that is all.

  25. Kurt,

    My earlier post ended up in hyperspace, so let me restate my perspective. This Toronto victory is neither the game nor the time to rag on Laker defense. From earlier post:

    Since Pau Gasol has been a Laker, we haven’t lost, though we ran out of time on a few games. Still, we have some Chicken Littles telling us that the sky is falling.

    The Raptors can beat you from the outside, so our defense played them tight. They took it to the basket. They packed the interior, so we shot the lights out from the outside. A post by J. D. (34) in an earlier thread asserting a “switching jerseys” analogy between Raptors and Lakers is not too far off.

    Against a pretty good team, the Lakers slightly exceeded their average victory margin. It was a so-so game all the way. Maybe some of the fans were expecting Kobe to score 81 again. I guess lots of you were looking for Pau to provide some muscle with his lock down “D.” Even when his ghost wasn’t here, that’s not been how we’ve been beating Toronto.

    Friday and Sunday, we will meet teams that could be our top competition in the West. If they both beat us, I’m afraid to read what the Chicken Little guys will say!

    If we beat both of them, I’m sure that, nonetheless, there will be a gnashing of teeth about the penetration of Paul, and the selflessness of the Houston team.

    I’ll take it either way and watch the Lakers craft their way to the playoffs, prepared to raise their game up a notch or two when it counts.

    We may then finally see if the Lakers can really play defense when it counts.

  26. 25. I’m glad the Chicken Little reference survived.

  27. PJ was cited this morning saying how this team needs to improve on its pick n’ roll defense. One of the main problems with this team is that they don’t talk to each other on defense. I never hear the words “switch,” “release,” or “screen-right/left” while watching the game.

    Every individual player on this Laker teams plays the screen or pick’n roll on defense differently. Until they call them out or have any sort of consistent defensel, look for this to continue.

  28. From: http://www.dailybreeze.com/sports/ci_8553892

    “Andrew Bynum’s return from a left kneecap injury is perhaps the lone bit of intrigue surrounding the Lakers.

    ‘I saw him dunking the ball a couple of times, which surprised me,’ Jackson said. ‘He shot the ball a few times, but we were busy on the court.’ ”

    Knock on wood…

  29. 25- “when it counts” is now. Everyone from Phil Jackson, to Steve Nash to any talking TV head have said the playoffs have started, the last 30 games of this crazy Western Conference season IS the playoffs.

  30. The NBA needs fewer games! This is an amazing year, with so much intrigue at the top in the West, the MVP debate, the trades, and what not. Despite all that, the next month has a somewhat anticlimactic feel for me — I can’t wait for the playoffs to start. All the teams have already played each other (multiple times in the same conference).

    12-20 fewer games => relatively little drop in TV revenue (since only a small fraction of the games are nationally televised), a drop in gate proceeds which will get partially offset with higher prices, more fan excitement with every game, fewer injuries, etc, and most of all, the slow building of excitement which would peak at the start of the playoffs, not a month or two before.

    As a case in point, this is the most exciting Laker season in 5 years, and the comments on this blog are dropping since all the stories have been discussed already (I know there were some technical glitches today, but even the Toronto game garnered less discussion than other recent games).

    But Stern is the master of tunnel vision, short term greed, and control freakiness.

  31. This upcoming road trip is obviously so huge. If we don’t get at least a split (while praying for an outright 4-0 sweep) I think it’s safe to say that Bynum’s return is even more significant than everyone thinks now. And right now everyone thinks it is really, really significant, so that’s saying something about the kid. It’s strange that a lot of casual fans thought he was a throwaway less than a year ago and now he’s elevated to playoff savior. Glorious Mr. Kupchak. God forbid we only get one in the next four, I hope it’s at least against the Rockets. Gotta protect that 33. Maybe Jerry will dust off the old shoes and throw in. If Wilt has a place in heaven I hope he pulls a few strings.

  32. Against TOR, it seemed like we were switching every pick to guard against their 3s. So they got a lot of mismatches of bigs on small and vice versa. We gave up ton of points inside, but very few 3s. It was good thing we hit enough 3s to outscore them again. My feeling to guard these elite point guards is to make them all shooters, hopefully long 2s and not 3s. These PGs are most effective when they get their teammates involved. It doesn’t matter if they score 30. As long as we can keep them from sharing the ball, especially to their bigs inside for easy buckets, we can beat them by playing solid team ball. I thought that TJ Ford trying to win singlehandedly hurt them down the stretch. No matter how good a player is (except for MJ, Kobe, and LeBron), it’s almost impossible to win singlehandedly in the NBA. So I say, we sag off and cover the penetration and the pick and rollers, rather than trailing the ball handler and force everything towards middle to provide help more easily.

  33. 30.

    Uh, you want tickets to be even more expensive than they already are? That’s a first.

    Also, I’m not sure how David Stern is supposed to be held culpable for the 82 game-long regular season, given that this was implemented in 1961 (when there were only 9 teams in the L).

    I’m not sure about anybody else, but I’m hardly starting to get bored watching Laker games.

  34. 30. The economics just do not work to shorten the season. TV revenue for local teams would dip — all the Lakers games are broadcast on cable back in LA, a case that is true of most NBA teams, and those contracts would be worth less. But gate revenue would be the big problem — NBA tickets are already crazy expensive and you can’t charge basically the same amount for fewer games.

    I also think it’s dubious to think casual fan interest and ratings would increase with fewer games. Their interest will rise only closer to the playoffs or due to a compelling story, regardless of when the season starts or how many games there are.

  35. Yeah, if fans don’t want to watch during the regular season that is on them. I think the regular season length is perfect. And with the type of game play we’ve had this season, there is no excuse to just “wait for the playoffs”. If you’re doing that, you’re missing some GREAT basketball. Monta Ellis probably won’t get past the first round this season. if you skipped the entire regular season, you miss out on watching a very entertaining player that likely won’t be around for a number of games during the playoffs. If anything, I just think they need to shorten the first round back down to a five game series. The league also needs to do a better job of picking showcase games and being flexible with which teams get showcased on National television during the regular season. I love the move they made to move up the start time of the upcoming houston/lakers game so that it could be broadcast on ABC.

  36. SC v. UCLA tommorow. Should be good.

  37. what time does SC and UCLA play tomorrow?

  38. About that UCLA – Cal game, kinda. I’m a Cal grad and still live in town. If your team has 2 legit, productive, NBA prospects in its frontcourt, shouldn’t you at least be expected to make the NCAA tournament? Is that unreasonable? Ben Braun is a nice recruiter (though how hard is it when you’re the closest div 1 school to oakland?) but couldn’t coach a team out of a wet paper bag.

  39. I think the SC UCLA game will be the ladder game tommorow, so 8:30 pst. Mayo has really improved since December, his play in conference (as well as the other Freshman: Bayless, Harden and Love) has really impressed me.

  40. J.D. (38): Funny, that’s pretty much what they used to say about Steve Lavin.

    Brian (Cal ’89)

  41. 39. I watched some of that game today (on my lunch break) and I thought the same thing about Mayo. I watched a few games early on and he didn’t impress, but today he was making smart decisions and playing better off the pressure that came to him. He looked like a quality prospect today.

  42. Warren Wee Lim March 13, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    I have this mathematical probe on how and why teams play 82 games and I could not find the exact reason why until Sean P. said that this was actually done in 1961 – this I assume when Stern was not commish yet.

    So the NBA has evolved and so has the salaries. Many fans are now GM-minded in approaching things and not just wander-trading time and again. So its time for some proposed changes and here’s my take:

    The regular season should be shortened – but not for a lot. In order to balance the teams’ schedules, I am looking at a 76-game season (only 6 games lesser) which would more or less start the playoffs by the 1st week of April not on the 3rd week.

    Each team will face off same-division teams 4x for a total of 16 games. Same-conference but not different division we play 3x for a total of 30 games. Lastly, those on the other conference will be played 2x for another 30 games. This totals 76 games with clear tie-breaks from non-division rivals based on the head-to-head being a best of three.

  43. 38. Ben has my support from the days he took the team to the dance after Shareef left. at least i think that was Ben coaching, anyway…

    Harold (Cal ’99)

    40. btw, brian, you made me feel young again :p

  44. Like him or not, Jack McCallum’s new article about the Lakers references Yeats, Saul Bellow, and Elvis Costello while Kobe references Mozart and the Salieri’s of his career.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/jack_mccallum/03/11/lakers/index.html?eref=si_writers

  45. Saw the end of the Cleveland/Washington game. Lebron missed a 3pt at the buzzer and the Wiz won the game. Hummmm!

  46. 40 & 43. Wow, nice to see we have some Cal alums roaming about here at FB&G. I haven’t followed Cal basketball much since I graduated, but I’m happy to see Leon Powe having some success over in Boston. It always blew me away when people would describe him as “under-sized.” I saw him on campus a few times and he was–if I can use a word that doesn’t exist–ginormous.

    -Ryan (Cal ’04)

  47. go bears (’93)

  48. Warren,
    I agree that would be a sensible reduction,but if the NBA has to keep 82 games I would change to 4 games per Div,3 per Conf,2 against other Conf and an extra 2 against the other Conf Div equivalent.-First against First,Second against Second and so on.

    I have a couple of diff suggestions for amending the Playoffs.
    1)Top seven teams in each Conf are in as now. Season ends on Sunday. Four teams w/next best records(regardless of Conf)play 3 game Qualifying Series. Best record of 4 hosts worst,etc. Better 2 teams are at home on Tue,Wed and if needed on road Fri. 2 winners play Sunday at Best record team in each Conf. Other 12 teams can start their series Wed/Thur.Best record in each Conf gets rewarded w/a week off. Each Conf gets at least 7 teams. Extra 2 teams get taste of Playoff pressure.
    2)The radical idea. First season at 76 games as Warren or I have suggested. Div champs and other 4 best records in Playoffs. Season ends Sunday. Tue 8 best record hosts 15,9 hosts 14,etc. 4 winners play Thurs,best survive record host worst,etc. 2 survivors plat Sat for right to enter “real’ Playoffs against best team.Teams in the Qualifying Tournament split gate reciepts. Combine w/change draft lottery to true lottery w/30 balls-1 for each team,no more protected picks,you either trade or don’t the pick,if a team has traded away pick no ball,team has 2+ picks has 2+ balls-and first team ball drawn is #1 pick and so on. These 2 changes eliminate almost all reasons for tanking,keep a major injury in first 1/2 of yr from ruining season and gives every team a chance at a miracle.

  49. UC…LA

  50. eat my shorts.

  51. Stephen, I love the idea of the even lottery balls but if that scheme were implemented, it would have to start in 2011 where picks have not been traded yet and will not be traded for the upcoming July 1st of 2008.

  52. Not Charlie Rosen March 14, 2008 at 1:01 am

    44 – This is why I love Kobe, and at the same time know why so many hate him:

    ‘But when somebody mentions that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ James is a favorite [for MVP] because he’s a near one-man team, Bryant, who was averaging 28.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists through Sunday, snaps, “Put me in the East and see what happens.”‘

    And really, that kind of answers that.

  53. Hey Ryan, Howard, J.D., Dan,

    Go Bears!!!! (’07)

    That is all.

  54. 44-That was a good article. I was a little sad to see Henry try to use it as a basis for boosting his LBJ for MVP argument. Don’t know what every ESPN affliated person has against Kobe, he really can’t get an endorsement from them to save his life.

  55. My Gauchos have a decent shot at a tourney bid with their #1 seed in the Big West tourney. I’ll be switching between the Lakers and them tonight.

  56. Kurk, you guys may win tonight but no way you are getting past the Matadors of Cal State Northridge tomorrow. Hell, you guys needed OT to beat Long Beach State the last game of the season.

    (To be fair, I saw a decent amount of LB State this season and Dan Monson did a nice job with them, they got better as the year wore on, and they played hard. They simply need to recruit talent.)

  57. Truehoop has been pretty anti-Kobe lately. It’s a great blog but all the “hail the King” is beginning to taint it, just a bit.

  58. RE: 56 and 57

    I’ll be at the Gauchos game cheering on the alma mater. We’ve been playing great ball as of late and I have a good feeling about the tourney. I think we can ride Alex Harris right into the big dance!

    PS If memory serves, didn’t we just beat down Northridge last week?

    Go Gauchos!

  59. New Hornets preview up.