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.

78 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Phoenix is winning because they have figured out Shaq’s strengths and limitations within the offense. Amare sets the high screens and Shaq camps out under the basket. It’s simple, but effective. However, if you look at the teams the Suns beat on their winning streak, only San Antonio has a top notch big man in the line-up.

    The Suns still don’t match up well against a healthy Lakers squad. (But who does?) Personally, I’m much more worried about the Jazz, Spurs and Hornets.

  2. – LO is playing at another level. Playing assertive and hungry. He’s gobbling up rebounds he has no business gobbling up. I just wish he did those sweeping finger rolls with his left hand more often – like the one last night where he just made up his mind (the whole L ought to know by now) that he was going left, took a dribble, 2 long strides and kissed it off the glass.

    – Good point about the passing Kurt. As the cliche goes – passing is contagious. Even Stu and Joel got on Turiaf for overpassing. Cant be passing to a 3 pt shooter when you’re only 2 ft from a layup Ronny. Anyone see how pissed Mamba was after that play (which ended in a 3 sec in the key call)? High comedy.

    – Win or lose, last night was one he!! of a game. I could watch the Warriors play all day.

    – Their games are pretty much the same, so I thought I’d throw it out there – Who would you rather have on your team – Tony Parker or Monta Ellis?

    – Critt watch: 14 pts, 3 asst on 6-9 shooting against the Nugs last night. You guys can quote me on this – The Gasol trade is going to end up being even-steven after all is said and done. Critt down the line is going to be a beast for years to come.

    – I would welcome G.S. in the 1st round as well. But I would like to see them advance past the 1st round. I can’t get enough of watching them play. With that said, with a low post presence, we’d dispose of them easily. Not to kick a man while he’s down, but who wouldn’t want to face Dallas in the first round right now? That Dirk fall looked nasty…

  3. That last play last night has really really really made me mad… I can’t stand hearing about how it was a bad call… Monta Ellis was running full out in a straight line, Derek Fisher was standing in that line, Monta Ellis ran through him and Fishers hands were on Ellis… NOT A BAD CALL… i could’ve gone with a no-call, but if someone is to be called for a foul there, it’s got to be against Ellis because he was the one that was moving.

  4. Lakers passing has been great this year, but I have to say at the end of the game against the zone it was lacking with a few exceptions. The main exception was when Vujacic got open and hit Lamar with that final pass.

    Other than that we had a hard time scoring against the zone and we were really stagnant. We were making slow passes around the perimeter and when we did go inside once to Turiaf he never faced up and took forever to make a pass back out. The passing wasn’t fluid at all.

    I believe this will be fixed when we have Pau back. He did much better when receiving the entry pass against a zone than Turiaf does.

    We won because Sasha hit a big 3, Odom made a nice drive that wasn’t set up by a pass. The rest were free-throws also not set up by nice passes.

    These are all off memory, I can be wrong but I do remember the whole time last night I was unhappy with our passing against the zone, and I believe Stu agreed with me.

  5. I’m sorry. What did you say? I cannot hear out of my left ear after Mr. Daniel Sagal’s shouting. =P

    I’m scared of every team that’s going to make the playoffs. I think they can all do damage. And the Lakers are not exactly playing terrific defense to tide them over when their shooting gets shaky. But seriously, I love watching every single game right now. Just a great time all around!

  6. p.s. kurt, the banner at the top of the page isn’t a clickable object anymore to take me back to the homepage.

  7. Daniel Sagal,

    Ellis was not running full out. That guy is a blur, and if he was running full out it would have been a football collision. Ellis was working around, as Kurt called it, an attempt at a picket fence style play, Fisher impeded his path/stood his ground, and when Monta got into Fish’s body, Fish went down and pulled Monta down with him. The replays (up in the Bay and apparently on NBA TV) showed this very clearly. It was a veteran play by Fish, and (like The Dude Abides pointed out in the game chat) if Monta would have been more savvy himself he could have taken advantage of that and made it more clear to the ref what was going on. But to say that Monta was running full out and that it was a good call is just not what happened.

    As for the rest of the game there were 2 plays that I saw that were key to the Lakers win.

    First was the jumper that Fisher hit in overtime for our first points of the extra period. The Lakers (like had happened for a good portion of the game) were struggling with getting good looks against the Warriors zone, especially getting the ball to Kobe in positions to do damage. Right before Fish hit that jumper, they were trying to get Kobe the ball, but the W’s were smart and shifted the strenght of the zone to Kobe’s side to make any entry pass tough. When Fish realized getting the ball to Kobe was not going to happen, he needed to make a play and shoot with the clock running down. Turiaf did a great thing and set a ball screen. This shifted the strong side of the Lakers offense and created a situation where 2 W’s defenders had to play 3 Lakers. The other top side guard could not help on Fish and Fish buried the J. Had this not happened, the W’s would have had the ball and been up by two and it would have been a good momentum builder for the W’s. Instead, it’s tied and everything is even again. Without that J, I think we lose.

    Second was a play by Lamar. I think it was at the end of regulaiton, we were up by 1, and it was a similar scenario to the one I just referenced. Lamar had the ball and he’s looking for Kobe, but the defense had collapsed to Kobe’s side, denying an entry pass. Lamar drove to the middle, spun, went up to shoot and drew the 6th foul on Biedrins. Lamar, only hit one of two, but he fouled out the only interior defender for the W’s and was able to extend the lead to two. Baron ended up getting fouled and hitting his FT’s to force overtime, but without that play by LO, we are only up one and the W’s have the chance to win in regulation.

    Continuing on Lamar, he was just fantastic. Kurt mentioned it in his thoughts and it does deserve a mention by everyone, really. Lamar was doing everything he could, was worn out, and just continued to push through it. His rebounding was amazing and he really provided an interior presense on D that we were lacking with Ronny on the bench. Lamar is really finding his groove right as the playoffs approach, which is a big deal for the Lakers. He is the ultimate x-factor as not too many teams have players of his versatility that can match up with him when he’s playing like this. Also, I could just imagine Nellie salivating watching LO control the glass, blocking shots, pushing the fast break, hitting jumpers, penatrating and just playing a superb all around game. LO is the epitome of what Nellie wants in a player (only not as consistent on the 3pt shot) and I know that he wishes he had a guy of Lamars talent/skill-set.

    Overall that was an amazing 2 nights of basketball for any fan. The Warriors are showing that they can play. But, I have to agree with Kurt, having our bigs in the mix changes this matchup entirely. Bynum would have a field day against this team with his ability to finish inside and providing interior defense against Baron and Monta’s drives to the hoop. And Gasol could put so much pressure on the defense that the Warriors defenders heads would be spinning from Pau’s ability to read the defense and either make the quick pass or create his own offense. Turiaf, though continually improving and providing very solid play, is not at either Bynum or Pau’s level in any facet of the game besides shot blocking and can not exploit the W’s like our other, more talented bigs. So, I say, like Kurt, bring ’em on.

  8. Perhaps it Critt will be, but Lakers don’t have the luxary to wait with kobe already 29. They made the right trade at the right time.

  9. Did anyone notice that in OT of the game last night, when our offense was struggling against the zone, the Lakers sent in Derek Fisher inside of the zone and he passed out of it and got us some good ball movement that way? I thought it was a very smart adjustment by our staff.

  10. Phoenix has 2 more tough games on their road trip, hopefully they lose to both Philly and Boston.

    We should use these next couple games to get a look at Newble, see if he can bring something Luke and Vlad can’t.

    Jordan and Sasha both did a better job of taking shots within the offense last night, that needs to continue.

    Utah doesn’t scare me as much as Houston, N.O., S.A. or even Phoenix. Utah just doesn’t stop teams (they even gave up 120 againt the Clips), while all those other teams can keep teams fg% under 42%.

    I am a beliver in the Suns now, but the first guy on that was Nate Jones, and I gotta say he was right about that and Stuckey being a real player.

  11. LO!!! I recall a few people calling for Lamar to be moved…I have believed in Lamar…he is somehting else…and he is playing like it now.

    I loved in the post game interview how when questioned about him and what he is doing…he was rather disinterested….but then once they asked him about Sasha and his great pass to him and how he thought about the team play…he was very into talking about that.

    Lamar is truly the X factor of the Lakers IMO…

    Drik…I think he will not be down as long as they expect…I hope not at least…I cant help but love his game….the dude is tough…..I remember a few years back when Nash was still in Dallas…Dirk got a tooth broken off and went out of the game to the locker room…but then was back in the game with in like 5 minutes of playing time….I have broken teeth…IT HURTS!! So…to come out and play…TOUGH!!!!

    And I just found out that the Clippers do there pre season here at my College (SBCC) and staff and faculty are invited to attened a few of the scrimmages….I am stoked!!!

  12. The Dude Abides March 25, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Since I still laugh whenever I remember about the game on TV, I’m bringing my post #111 from the previous thread over to this one 😉

    My favorite non-Laker announcers, probably because I had more exposure to them seeing as how they were also LA, were the Clipper team of Ralph Lawler and Bill Walton. The funniest occurrence ever: a number of years ago, the Clippers were playing a game in Monterrey, Mexico. I don’t know why. Anyway, late in the first half, it was time to read the TV copyright language. In Spanish, for some reason. Ralph is about to read it, but then Walton says, “Give that to me. I grew up in Sahn DiAYgo. I speak flOOOent Spanish.” So, Bill proceeds to butcher the Spanish language reading the copyright statement. But it’s not the actual copyright statement. Lawler and the production crew substituted a retirement announcement, knowing that Walton doesn’t speak Spanish, but still thinks he himself is fluent. For the rest of the game, every five minutes, Ralph would announce to the viewers that Walton had stunningly retired from TV announcing in a surprise statement earlier in the game, “shocking all of us here.”

    All Bill could say was, “How long are you guys going to keep killing me?”

  13. The Dude Abides March 25, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Fisher = savvy
    Ellis = not savvy
    At the initial setup for end of game out of bounds plays, both sides typically grab on for dear life and hold onto each other. Baron and Kobe were holding each other from the beginning. Same with Ellis and Fish. All Ellis had to do was run laterally on that picket fence play instead of run forward and through Fisher. Running laterally would have deviated from the designed play, and perhaps incurred the wrath of The Donald. However, running laterally also may have gotten an out of bounds foul call on Fish. Running forward while Fish is holding you and you’re holding Fish? Result every time is Fish falling on his back.

  14. #10, Why would you worry about Yao-less Rockets?

  15. 7. I thought the signature play was at the end of the third quarter with the clock running down. Lakers missed a long shot, Kobe ran in from the three point line to grab the offensive rebound, was carried over by his momentum out of bounds, somehow manged to turn a 180 and make the perfect pass before he landed to Odom, who unlike many times in the past, went up for the shot immediately to get the go-ahead score. Had it been any player other than Kobe, this would have been a highlight play on Sportscenter or a top play on the NBA daily — for Kobe, this is all too routine.

  16. Is there any word about Gasol’s return? I know Bynum is about a week or two away.

    Last nights game was great. Im excited for the playoffs since every western conference playoff matchup is good and it will be competitive all the way to the Finals against Detroit or Boston(unless LeBron has a say in it).

  17. Ashish,
    Yeah, I actually forgot that play. But it’s interesting you brought it up because that was a few possesions after Kobe hit that crazy/only I can do this turnaround 3 after Azibuke (big ups to him btw, anyone could have had this kid, he’s hardnosed) had knocked the ball away. And after that play I thought to myself, “oh no. that is the type of shot that gets Kobe going”. At that point I told my lady that now is when Kobe is going to start doing all the little things that win games. On the next defensive possesion Kobe poked the ball away from Baron and dove for the loose ball causing the W’s to call a timeout when they recovered. Then 2 possesions or so later he got that rebound that you mentioned. That play was big.

  18. 14-I think we could beat Houston with a healthy Pau, but they are not gonna be easy. They didn’t win 22 in a row by accident, and it can be argued that their offense flows better through T-Mac instead of Yao. Add in the fact that they can choke off the lane and have several 3pt shooters. I guess I just think they are a tougher matchup than Utah for the Lakers, but not at all unbeatable.

  19. #14 and #18

    Yeah, I’d rather play the very good offensive team (Utah) vs. playing the very good defensive team (Houston). And besides their excellent team defense, Battier does an excellent job on Kobe too. I think our size and depth and coaching would trump what Houston does to limit us, but I feel pretty comfortable facing Utah (though they pose problems too).

  20. if we wind up facing the Rockets, someone, (PJ?) is going to make a big deal of the Battier “hand in the face, almost touching the eyes” defense on Kobe…some say it’s legal, some say it isn’t.
    what is it?

  21. chris h (20): It’s legal. What you can’t do is faceguard someone without the ball from behind. But what Shane Battier did is perfectly legal. Surprised that Kobe didn’t try the swing-through more often on him.

  22. #11 Regarding Dirk’s tooth being broken, I remember being shocked when that happened although when he came back they said it was a fake tooth or something that he had already had knocked out

    although I still don’t imagine that feeling too great

  23. 19 Maybe I’m in the minority, but I would not count the Rockets as a team the Lakers need to really worry about come playoffs. Their 22 game win streak (followed by losing the next three out of four) was a regular season aberration. Yes, it was very impressive, but with Pau and Bynum back, and Odom still there, our size will overwhelm them in the playoffs. Not to mention that Kobe rarely lets anywhere stifle him in a 7 game series.

    I worry about San Antonio and Utah with my wildcard worry being Phoenix. I have no idea what to expect from them. The Jekyll and Hyde team in the League right now.

  24. 23-What about the Hornets, I think they are better than the Jazz. Better defense, more athletic, a legit defensive center, peja, a rejuvinated Bonzi and CP3.

  25. kwame a.,
    I agree, everyone is forgetting NO. Yeah their experience quotient is low, but they are a tight group and coached by a real pro who has been to the finals as a player and a coach. They are a tough matchup for the Lakers and I would put them with the Spurs as the two teams I would like to avoid as long as possible.

  26. 24 I may be naive, but I do not fear the Hornets. If Bynum is near 100% by the time we play NOLA, then he eats Tyson Chandler for breakfast. Bonzi Wells may be playing well now but he is erratic at best. Predrag has his moments but I think the Lakers can bottle him up (welcome back Ariza!) CP3 is the only worry I have, but if we limit his assists, then we can wrap that series up.

  27. Fear the Spurs and the Jazz. They’re the only two teams that can guard both of our bigs and have effective perimeter defense. Plus, Pops and Sloan can coach effectively against PJ, as they proved in the past…

  28. Reagrding the point about the Suns.

    Living in Phoenix, I get to see more Suns games than Lakers (which sucks). I can tell you one thing, this Suns team is legit. They sure can compete against any opponent. Amare is a beast and Nash is as always really good. Grant Hill provides them with penetration and reliable outside shooting. Hill is the sort of veteran player who makes very few mistakes and always seems to make the right move. Sort of like Fish but but much more athletic.

    Purely from observation, Suns seem to be worse off with Shaq on the floor. Their best combination seems to be Nash, Bell, Hill, Diaw, Amare.

    Without Bynum, we don’t have anybody to stop Amare and it will be very competitive, similar to the game last month. With Bynum in the lineup we should hopefully get an easy victory.

    The thing going against the Suns is their depth, or lack of it. Also, Barbosa and Diaw have historically stunk it up in the playoffs. But make no mistake. This is a wily veteran team that will be a tough out in the playoffs.

  29. I sent my my Mav buddy a txt last night asking if the Mavs will make the playoffs? Lets just put it this way I can’t repeat what he sent back. My guess is they don’t make the playoffs.

    The Spurs, of course, and the Hornets scare me a bit. The reason I think the Hornets do is because we all have seen these young point guards just eat the lakers up alive. I still remember the game where Peja killed us from 3 and CP3 went nuts with the passes. In a 7 game series I still give the edge to the Lakers. I will bring Bynum talk when he is on the court until then I only talk the players who are suited up.

    L.O. is playing the way we all hoped he would from the beginning but hey he is doing it at THE right moment. We need it and if keeps this up as a 3rd option, even 4th at times possibly, sux to be the opponent.

  30. 27-Utah has no perimeter defense for Kobe, or even really our other guards. I do fear their bigs.

  31. if we get gasol back, i’m afraid of NO and Utah because they have those really pesky guards. PHX not as much as we’re really really used to them.

    If we don’t get gasol back, every matchup will be a nightmare… ouch.

    If we get both gasol and bynum back, and a healthy ariza… well, not sure if i’ll be scared of any matchup. contrary, i’ll be giddy with anticipation if we can ever play at full strength.

  32. Ok, sorry to beat a dead horse, but I just caught up with the conversation from last night about the Warriors commentators. Sure I may be biased but those are the only commentators I can think of that yell out reactions like “come on!” when a Warriors player gets blocked and no foul is called. They also want to dissect every call (well, many at least) that goes against the Warriors in slow-mo, which can distort the truth. The last call from last night is only one example, and I thought they were not even that bad last night. The first night was ridiculous. During the Lakers comeback it was like I had a drunk Warriors fan on the couch next to me…

  33. The Suns are not the same team we have faced in the past. Shaq changes all the equations. Lamar could bottle up Marion and now he is going to be asked to match up against Amare – not a good change for Lamar. If we are lucky, Bynum and Shaq will neutralize each other – if no Bynum then we have problems there. Bell and Kobe will somewhat neutralize each other too, although I do expect Kobe to have a noticeable advantage. With Nash vs Fisher/Farmar the Suns have a distinct edge. That leaves Gasol – our, probably decisive, advantage. However, I would expect the series to be really hard fought in ways other years weren’t played out.

  34. The Kobe effect, another often overlooked way.
    In the last couple of years, Kobe has become perhaps the biggest complainer of any player. It seems that he complains on virtually every possession expecting a call and it’s having an effect. I am noticing more and more players following their leader’s example and watched a couple of time vs. Golden State when LO was slow in transition as he was taking time to complain about non-calls. The team leader is also responsible for team morale and a team that complains incessantly is a team doomed to self-destruct.

  35. Whoaaaaaaa crazy colors and template, is this on purpose Kurt or have I been hanging around Bill Walton for too long?

  36. Melvin Mason Jr. March 25, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Is it just me, or is this the old WordPress template? What happened?

  37. Melvin Mason Jr. March 25, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Correction to 36: I meant theme instead of template.

  38. 34- A lot of the other teams announcers say how much Kobe does complain, and he does a lot. One thing I don’t get is the volume that he does, you are not fouled on every play. Take your pick but then again he might know better than we do. I hope it doesn’t rub off on other players such as Turiaf who raises his hand almost instantly when it is called on him. Gotta hustle fellas, don’t stop cause you think you are fouled.

    Is it me or does Fish have a really hard time making layups. I have noticed recently it’s not going in when he sees a big or almost any body down there. Most guards can control the contact and make it or maneuver around or even shoot it over them but Fish is struggling in his layup category. As bad as this maybe we all have done something like this. Sorry Fish, kind of funny.

    When I first came on here I completely thought I got the wrong site.

  39. Woah crazy theme…wondered what happened to the custom? Looks like WordPress crapped out…

    Anyways, I’ve been a longtime follower of the site and a Laker fan since 84 (4 years old)…born and raised in LA.

    My bro sent me this youtube video Lakers Rhapsody, to the tune of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody – it pretty funny:

  40. Something crazy is going on with the theme. Trying to fix it as we speak.

    As always, we can assume this was the work of Celtics fans until proven otherwise.

  41. @34

    Kobe pleads his case alot. Then again, so do alot of top tier stars. It’s nothing new. However, to say that he does it incessantly is exaggerating. The team is not doomed to self destruct because their morale is good.

    Regarding the Phoenix Suns, I happened to watch their game against the Pistons. I have to agree that the Suns are a different team. However, their defense is still way suspect. Rasheed completely demolished Amare. Don’t look at the stats because they distort the truth. Rasheed was having his way with Amare around on offense and defense which concluded with Amare kicking the floor like a kid at the end of the game. Nash and Barbosa are really sub-par on defense and now that their offense has become predictable, it really allows their bad defense to show.

    So when the question is how Lamar is going to guard Amare, I bring up how Amare is going to guard Lamar. Amare can’t play defense and if Lamar plays more aggressive, Amare will be in foul trouble whereas Lamar actually can play some solid D. Bynum versus Shaq is only a question mark given Bynum’s injury. But from the games Bynum were in this season, he has already shown he can play defense better than Shaq. Even though the Suns put up a good streak, I don’t think they are that different from the team in the past.

    The West still goes through the Alamo folks. The Spurs offense is creaky but their defense is just so beautiful to watch. That’s what the Lakers defense should emulate. We have all the pieces (arguably, better pieces than the Spurs) to play that style of defense. It just requires more commitment than what has been shown.

    Sorry for the long post. I haven’t gotten a chance to let things out due to school and work.

  42. everyone has pieces to play good defense. just that nobody ever does because these guys are paid millions to put on a show, and defense rarely pays them big bucks. huge endorsements for Bowen? Bell? Pippen, even? (i do remember him doing some sort of centrum commercial way back… if he wasn’t so darn awkward, it might have been better than malone’s rogaine…)

    as for the site, wow, baby blue? UCLA site now?

  43. Melvin Mason Jr. March 25, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    I little off topic, but Chris Webber is going to retire tomorrow. The Lakers were smart when they dealt with him, saying that they would offer two ten day contracts to see if he was ready to play. He declined and instead went to Golden State because they gave him guaranteed money.

    About a week later, we pulled off the Gasol trade. It worked out great for the Lakers. I live in Warriors TV territory and watch a lot of their games and it was very painful to watch Webber play on basically one leg. The end of a strange career.

  44. i kind of like it, except it’s missing the #’s
    something different for a change, hahaha

  45. Agree with UCSBShaw completely on 2 topics:

    Kobe does complain. A lot…I’m not sure. But when he does, it’s in such a demonstrative fashion that it seems like he complains after every non-call by an official. He’ll pull that veteran-savvy pump fake-then-jump shot looking for a foul, and he’ll drive the lane looking for contact and a foul. Both moves are admirable and good basketball- it’s just that the refs are kind of used to seeing it from him and aren’t going to call a foul every time, even if there is a foul.

    And I see it too UCSBShaw, Fish does struggle with layups in the paint. Everytime he’s about to drive the lane in transition (or early offense), I cringe. “Don’t do it Fish! Reconsider! Read some liter-ture on the subject! Take the mid-ranger!” Sorry to go all 3-stacks on yall.

  46. I think I’m liking the look, very throwback like last night’s jerseys

  47. Re Kobe’s whining. Yes he does it too much,but as noted that’s life in the NBA. Reminds me of story about Rick Barry. He was a non-stop whiner and one day someone convinced him to not whine and then he’d get the calls he wanted because the refs hated his whining and wouldn’t give him anything. So he didn’t say a word to the refs for 3-4 games and never got a call,never got any FTs. So Rick promptly started whining again and immediatetly started going back to the FT line. The problem w/whining is when a player or team gets caught up in whining and allows it to get into their head.

    As to First Rd match-ups,be a little realistic. Barring a Laker collapse,or three-3-teams running table,the Lakers won’t meet Utah who’s locked into that 4-5 spot. NO and SA have favorable enough schedules they shouldn’t slide out of top 5. The Rockets have 5 games against Sonics,Timberwolves,Clips the Port/Kings set that most of the contenders have and 4 games against Good teams,so they should have just enough to stay in top 5.The Suns schedule is pretty tough,I don’t see them cracking the top 5,prob at 6. So the prob 1 Rd Laker opps are amoung Suns,Mavs,Warriors or Denver. So long as Gasol can come back,I only see the Suns as having a realistic chance of beating LA in a 7 game Series.

  48. Stephen,

    I don’t think the Lakers are going to see the Suns until at least round 2. I see Denver/Golden State/Dallas as the only possible teams we will see in the first round based on the standings.

    As for the chances, I don’t see the Suns having a realistic chance of beating LA (unless there are major injuries or a collapse… knock on wood). The only team that would give them fits is San Antonio. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs suddenly became the Spurs of old and methodically appeared in the finals.

  49. I can’t believe there are still people out there who would not mind facing the Warriors in Rd. 1. Haven’t history already told us that they can pull off even the most incredible upset in the opening round when they have nothing to lose and a motivated group? This year’s team is 10 games better than last year’s group. This is not a championship-caliber team, but it certainly can play the spoiler to a lot of the on-the-edge-of-Finals teams ala Lakers.
    From what I’ve seen the past 2 games from the Lakers, nothing has changed my belief that this team is not disciplined enough (like the Spurs). They easily get sucked into playing the W’s pace and the turnovers keep piling on even though when you play against the W’s, TOs is the biggest thing you have to control. Not to mention, they still go long stretches where they look clueless on how to punish the zone defense.
    Yes, Bynum and Gasol will help, but the W’s can easily expose Gasol on the defensive end where he is already known to have issues. And I don’t realistically expect much out of Bynum in the 1st round.
    My opinion is that the Warriors scare the crap out of me in the 1st round and I’d do anything to avoid a matchup against them.

  50. chocomm, the Warriors play weak defense and I would rather face a bad defensive team in the first round (or any round, but they don’t last long). Plus, I think you underestimate the impact of Gasol and Bynum and how having a big protect the rim will be. That was the roster of last year’s 42 win Lakers that played GS to a standstill for two games, remember we get our second and third best players back for the playoffs (hopefully).

  51. the other Stephen March 26, 2008 at 7:51 am

    the website is looking kind of naked today. i hope someone fixes it.

  52. According to Mike Bresnahan, Gasol out tonight and probably Friday as well. Also, I love how buried in the story is the fact that “Bryant also revealed that he had suffered a sprained right ankle in Sunday’s equally frenzied 115-111 loss to the Warriors.” Dude’s gonna end up looking like Frankenstein come the later playoff rounds (or like Odom during last year’s playoffs — mummified and giving it all he’s got).

  53. Hertagnism,
    I doubt there will be a Suns/Lakers 1 Rd match-up. But,of the probable 1 Rd opps,the Suns are the only team I see w/a decent chance of beating LA in a Series. Not a good one,but a decent one.(Say 20-33%).Reasons are past history-the Suns know they have beaten LA the past 2 times they’ve met so they have confidence. The Phoenix bigs would give a decent edge over LA bigs still recovering from injuries. Nash is much better at using the screen/roll than the Laker points are. The Lakers have a bad tendency to lose 3pt shooters. So the Suns would have a decent chance of winning.(I just think a reasonably healthy Gasol spreads the offensive load enough that the Lakers would win.)

    Gasol would prove invaluable in picking up fouls from GS defenders,putting a pretty good FT shooting LA team on the line often. His skill both in passing and shooting takes alot of pressure off the “supporting cast”,making it less likely there will be deadly scoring droughts-esp when Kobe’s getting some rest. As an accomplished “Euro defender who knows how to flop”,he’ll cause some hesitation in Warriors driving the lane. And Kobe just seems to play team basketball at a higher level w/Gasol on the court.

  54. chocomm,
    The advantage in playing the Warriors in the 1st round is that we get them for 7 games over, like, 2 weeks. That gives us time to plan, time to rest, time to recover for players just coming back from injury. It is in the 1st round that I really want an offensive minded team. We have Phil Jackson (not Avery Johnson) as a coach and we will have time to work on our defense during this series. Don’t people all say Phil is one of the best coaches of all time in preparing a team – it’s the x’s and o’s during the game that we have issues with him.

  55. Charley Rosen tried to say that face guarding was illegal in the article he wrote after the Houston game. I couldn’t find anything except a rule that applied to NCAA women. The “eye guarding” NBA rule had to do with, as Brian T said, coming from behind the player, and aface guarding without the ball.

    Anyone else who knows more about this?

  56. Kurt, no offense, but the posts and comments are much easier to read like this.

  57. The Lakers and their fans shoudn’t fear anybody when Bynum and Gasol get back. Ariza would be another plus against teams with athletic wings.
    As for Mihm, forget about him. Signing him was a mistake, and if he ever gets healty enough to play there he would be the fourth center on the depth chart.

  58. Kurt,
    I do want the numbers back. It is much easier when returning to the site to read additional comments. Also, the right hand column with the most recent comments is invaluable. Otherwise, I agree with jaaason.

  59. Agreed the numbers are a must. But what about the Lakers colors. It’s not forum plain and simple……but to each its own.

    As to playing the Warriors in the first round some announcer said it they are one dimensional. When that dimension works watch it when it doesn’t they are mediocre at best. Plus we had to play to their strength the last bit. We had no inside game. They can’t play with our healthy bigs. I saw first hand what bynum did to them in December. I expect us to do something very similar if we play them.

    Tim – Are you saying Mbenga is better than a healthy Mihm? Or were you referring to Turiaf is a center? Either way I disagree. Big bodies are hard to come by in this league just ask Warriors and the Mavs. They are struggling for bodies to bang around. I believe that warriors need big bodies even if they don’t think so.

  60. I think that this is the same look as the RSS email feed.

  61. This is the basic wordpress design, which right now I am forced to revert to. Apparently this site was hacked, according to the tech guys. As soon as we can we are going to revert to the Laker colored blog and style the site has had for a couple years. This summer I am considering a redesign, and if that happens I’ll certainly seek suggestions because this is really a community site and should work for all. But a few things seem to be lost along with the look. At least it will finally force me to update the sidebar and links.

    The Bobcats preview will be up at some point, but the site repairs are taking priority.

  62. Warren Wee Lim March 26, 2008 at 9:39 am

    I think its the work of Gatinho and Kwame a. LOLz.

    Kurt, I was shocked to see this but its kinda more organized this way. I guess all the purple “darkened” the room.

    I too would love the numbers back… really love the neatness though.

  63. Warren Wee Lim March 26, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Kurt, is it not within your plans to make this a multi-topic blog? I mean, some members want to talk about something (crazy ideas and all…) and it would look like spamming the site if we did it on a particular topic.

    Also, just a suggestion, it might be nice to have a little “side” topic for a change… things like the things you forbid.

  64. Kurt,

    It looks like your house got robbed. Had to be some Warriors fans. Hackers from the Silicone Valley…ha.

    And look at Warren, I know he wants to talk trades, double ha.

    Anyways, hope it gets figured out. But man, I bet that’s a lot of work. Do you have friends who are the *tech support*, or are they hired guns?

    Oh, and I’m with everyone else on facing the Warriors. I like our chances even with only one of our bigs healthy. If we have both Bynum and Gasol, I don’t think they can handle us inside, similar to the Warriors/Jazz series from the 2nd round last year. It’s not just our ability to score inside, but our ability to control the glass on both ends and limit their running game by executing the offense and handling the glass. When a team can rebound the way that we can (especially on the offensive glass), teams can’t leak out and get those easy transition buckets. They’ll need all 5 on the defensive glass, and even then, they’ll struggle with our size advantage. We’ll get multiple possesions and wear them out. Remember too, it’s not like the Warriors are a deep team. When you play 8 guys and 6 of them are undersized, that takes a toll too when you are facing a bigger/more physical team.

  65. A lot of those “transition” plays the Warriors run come off of risky perimeter defensive maneuvers. Zone defense hides some of the worst aspects of these risks, but the true killer to this defensive style is in-and-out play or “passing over the zone”. Odom isn’t that high of a target, but any seven footer with decent hands plays into this game. With Gasol or Bynum, watch the pace slow, watch their transition points fall, watch an easy five or six game series. I believe that last year’s playoffs they played the Mavericks in the first round, right? Well what type of inside game do they have? Dampier only plays half the time and Dirk isn’t a center like Gasol isn’t a center. With our stash of Buddah Jackson on the sideline, commander Kobe on the court, and (watch out Obama) Odomination tearing up the boards, we’re going to be tough to beat plus a seven foot center (or two [or three]).

    Now my general question to those closet San Antonites, why do you give the Spurs any reasonable doubt? They’re playing mediocre–and a lot worse against NO–against a lot of AWFULLY good teams. I’ve seen some sloppy play from their stars in some really big games; and we’re not supposed to see that from them after the All-Star break, right? They’re supposed to be roiled up and sinking teams. It seems they can’t touch anyone with “playoffs” written on them.

    Here’s a quick review of the last month for the Spurs: Lost at Denver, Phoenix, New Orleans, Detroit, Philly, Boston… Granted they beat Denver in there, have come off to beat the Mavs (without a dirk), and showed an impressive last minute stand against Orlando last night. When are they going to start winning everything, in their anniversary form? Ten games is a little close to toe to turn it on.

    I think Phoenix is a good team, there’s no denying that, but in seven games? In three rounds? In the NBA finals? Hey, Shaq’s deserving of respect like any old sage, but old age and basketball games are antithetical–who knows when he’ll fall on his hip.

  66. Hey look, its up now.

  67. Darius, it’s funny but my first thought was some Warrior fan. No proof, but I jumped to that same conclusion. And the tech guys (and girls) are hired guns, part of an slightly higher-than-average monthly hosting fee I pay for the site. I know my tech skills suck, so it’s worth it to me, and the limited advertising on this site has so far covered the costs.

    Warren, yes this site could be whatever. I have the ability to do something more along the lines of Jeff’s fantastic Celtics Blog, with message boards and “diaries” where commenters could write longer posts on other topics than the main one. But what I like about this blog and the community here is the intimacy of it. I like the narrow focus, personally. My goal is not to have the largest, #1 Lakers site on the web. This site already is far more of a community and a great spot than I ever imagined it being, and that is thanks to all of you. I’m really a caretaker here for the community. In that way, when I do get around to a redesign I’m open to ideas of change and growth, but I want to keep the core and heart of what is going on here unchanged.

  68. hackers from the silicon? warriors fans? haha

    Stephen, I agree with your estimated % of the Suns beating the Lakers should they meet. But I’m still concerned about the reasons you stated because those same reasons (past history) can also be used against the Suns. The Lakers know the Suns are going to die by the three ball and they have shown that they can at least play against that style (see: progression of defense against New Orleans).

    the thing with San Antonio is, I think, they are still laying low. Although they did lose to the teams you mentioned, they are still in the thick of the race. Their age is showing so this might be the year that they continue their lackadaisal play through March and then turn it up in April. There’s also the fact that they are missing Brent Barry and Mighty Mouse has not given them the contributions they expected.

  69. hertagnism-I think you make a great point about Barry. The Spurs are at their best when Duncan gets going in the post, and can start kicking out for 3’s. The problem they have had is guys like Ime Udoka and Michael Finely have not been hitting consistently. In the playoffs when they surrond Duncan with Bowen, Parker, Manu and Barry or Horry, and this spreads the floor for them. They also still play strong defense, and Ginobli and Parker would feast on our pick and roll defense.

  70. the other Stephen March 26, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Kurt, you find those hackers and we’ll mash ’em.

  71. We’re assuming the Lakers get the #1 or #2 seed. It’s not set in stone yet…

    However, I see Houston falling as far as #6 easily. Top 5 will be LA, NO, SA, Utah (locked at #4) and probably PHO. GS, DAL, DEN and HOU are second-tier teams… This West is unbelievable.

  72. I blame the Celtics… They know we’re getting just one banner away from them… They feel it… And they don’t want us to be tied with them next year…


  73. This may seem simplistic, but San Antonio has never repeated as champions. That’s not to say it can’t happen (they would have been very close/favored the year Fish hit that .4 shot, when we went on to lose to Detroit), but they have had consistently strong teams ever since Duncan came into the league and have not gotten it done. Are they a worthy foe? No doubt. But, it takes so much to repeat just because of the number of games that go into those 2 seasons. You’re looking at 164 regular season games and 32 more playoff wins over 2 seasons. Realistically, any team looking to repeat is looking at over 200 games over that period. When you have an aging, veteran team, that will take it’s toll. So as much as the Spur’s talent, coaching, and pedigree are concerns, they’ve got a tall hill to climb to even get back to the finals much less win it. When you combine that with the fact that we match up extremely well with them, I think we can and would beat the Spurs in any potential series. I think the one thing in facing the Spurs that we have going for us is that even though Parker is the kind of guard that can kill you, Phil has done a pretty good job of limiting him in past series’. Parker, much like Kidd, is a guard that you can go *under* on P&R’s and make him beat you with the jumper…these are the types of players/teams that our P&R defense will have less trouble with. We can get into more X’s and O’s if/when we meet, but I like our chances against the Spurs.

  74. So I’ve rewatched “the Call” about 100 times now since I live in the Bay area and am stuck in the Warriors echo chamber. I think Monta had his hands on Fisher, but it’s true that it was probably a result of fisher being all over him. That definitely should have been a no call.

    On the other hand, if you keep your eye on Davis and Harrington, Davis pushes Kobe towards where Harrington is battling with Luke Walton until Harrington throws a perfect football block on Kobe, knocking him down to free Davis. THAT is a definite foul, if not on Davis, then on Harrington. It helps to watch the full play develop and not the shortened hilight version.

  75. Im worried about the Suns. Especially if Bynum is not 100% healthy. Im not so sure Gasol can outplay Shaq when it really matters in a 7 game series. Shaq will try and get physical with Gasol and it all depends on how the refs let Shaq play.

    If they allow Shaq to get physical then Gasol will have a tough time.

  76. any thoughts by anyone on how newble fits in with the current injury riddled lakers? Why doesn’t he get any burn?

  77. I want to be on record stating that the San Antonio Spurs will never win another championship in the Tim Duncan era. Its over….their luck has ran out.

  78. Bobcat preview up.