Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  March 25, 2008

Got to these late because I stayed up late watching the overtime.

UPDATE: Please excuse the technical difficulties with the look of the site. Fixes are being worked on. No, I have no idea why this happened, but I blame Isiah Thomas.

• Just how good a passing team the Lakers have become was key to the win last night — when Golden State retreated to a match-up zone defense to protect the paint, the Lakers used a lot of skip passes, drive-and-kicks and just general good ball movement to get good looks. My personal preferred way to attack a zone is inside out — get the ball in the paint to your big and let him score or dish out for open looks when the defense collapses down (Gasol would be perfect for this). But without a big who could pull that off, the Lakers went another direction and pulled it off. Despite some ugly late turnovers, and the team at times getting sucked into the Warriors’ game, this was a good win.

• My two cents on the last play — I would have gone with a no-call. Baron Davis runs up and (as was accurately described in the comments) he and Kobe give each other a bear hug. I guess Don Nelson was trying to draw up the “picket fence” with Ellis coming off the end, but he crashed into Fisher and it ended up in a pile on the floor. I think the call could have gone either way, but who wants to see a game decided by a toss-up call? Maybe call the double foul and let the inbounds play happen again.

• That said, I’ll say to Warrior fans what I say to Lakers fans when close games are decided by late questionable calls — that’s on you for letting the game get close in the first place. The best teams take the decisions out of the ref’s hands, if you let it come down to a late play you live with the breaks.

• It keeps getting mentioned in the comments but really deserves a lot more space (and more than I am giving it here) — Lamar Odom is playing his best basketball as a Laker right now. He thrived since Gasol arrived and, in games like last night, providing a key inside presence in a win while the traditional bigs sit injured. Another plus is him grabbing the defensive board and leading the break himself, ala Magic, which has sparked some good transition points.

• A well written commentary saying perception is at the heart of the love/hate relationship that national fans and media have with Kobe.

• Maybe I just haven’t seen enough of them lately (just parts of games), but I’m still not sold on Phoenix being a huge playoff threat. Maybe kwame a. can convince me otherwise (or maybe I just get to see more of them). That said, there is a race again for the top spot in the Pacific. Good thing the Lakers schedule softens up. Oh, and we get that Gasol guy back.

• After watching these last two games, I’d welcome Golden State in the first round. It would be fun, but with the bigs in the fold I think the Lakers win fairly handily (as much as that happens for anyone in the West). I’ll be honest that Denver scares me only in that they have so much talent on the roster, if they ever figure out how to play together night in and night out they would be dangerous. If they haven’t all season it’s unlikely they flip a switch now, but these are the things I worry about.

• I feel bad for Dirk and Dallas fans, but you knew a key injury was going to change the landscape in the West. I’ve been amazed with how well the Lakers have stayed afloat without Gasol, it’s a real credit to the team. I’m not sure Dallas can do much without him, but then Houston seemed to take “The Ewing Theory” to a new level.

• Via True Hoop, the drive to get Wilt the Stilt a stamp is something I can get behind.