Preview and Chat: The San Antonio Spurs

Kurt —  April 13, 2008

Records: Lakers 55-25 (1 seed, tie); Spurs 54-25 (2 seed, tie)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.7 (3rd); Spurs 108.9 (14th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 107.3 (9th); Spurs 103.5 (3rd)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Spurs: Tony Parker, Michael Finley, Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan, Fabricio Oberto

Lakers Notes: I’m not sure I thought, even with Pau back, the Lakers could get the one seed back. And, as Goo said in the comments, I feel like I need a shower after pulling for the Kings. But here they are — win out and the odds of a good first-round matchup improve. They do not control their own destiny (a three-way tie with Houston and NO is possible, even if it is not likely) but they control their own games. I’m not that worried about getting Kobe and the other starters a little extra rest down the stretch because of how drawn out the first round of the playoffs is.

If the Lakers play defense like they did in the first half against the Hornets, they can beat anyone. Fisher did a better job staying in front of Paul than I thought he could. The Lakers’ rotations, particularly from Odom and Pau were sharp. The Lakers were aggressive on the ball and their doubles were hard and smart, that led to turnovers and fast-break opportunities. The Lakers attacked Paul and Chandler on the offensive end, not letting them play half the court. It was, in my humble opinion, the best half of basketball the Lakers have played this year.

But, inconsistency reared its ugly head in the second half, as it has all season for the Lakers. They can’t do that today, or starting next weekend in the playoffs.

By the way: If you make a comment during the game and you don’t see it quickly, it got held for moderation (only some do, as pulled aside by a spam filter). And, rather than moderating comments I’ll be downing Dodger Dogs and seeing if Chad Billingsley can get that 9.64 ERA into double digits. I’ll be watching the Lakers on delay, so know I won’t be approving comments during the game. One of the other moderators may pitch in if they can, but just wanted everyone to have a heads up.

Spurs Coming in: The Lakers catch a big break today as Ginobli is not expected to play due to a groin strain. Of course, that break didn’t help Seattle at all a few nights ago as Parker took on more of the offensive load and the Spurs cruised

I’m not in the camp of “The Spurs Are Done” but the more I see them lately the more I think they will not win the title this year. The reason isn’t the big three — Duncan, Parker and Ginobli have played well all season and that has really continued of late (the spurs are 8-2 in their last 10). In the last 10 all three are averaging at least 16.6 points per game. (That said, Parker is shooting 45.9% and is not hitting his threes, he is someone to lay back on right now). Also, the Spurs have been getting solid play from Finley of late.

And it is not the Spurs defense, which is still the third best in the league for the season. It’s been even better of late, opposing teams are shooting just 44.6% (eFG%) in the last 10. To me, that defense is what keeps them in contention.

But they don’t get the play off the bench that they used to, and I think that will be their downfall in the playoffs. Ime Udoka has had good stretches, same with Kurt Thomas and Brent Barry. But the fact of the matter, you have to have solid group of role players to win a title, and I think the big three in San Antonio no longer have the supporting cast to get them another ring.

Don’t think for a second they are an easy out. Teams that play that kind of defense are all in it.

For more Spurs info, check out Pounding The Rock.

Keys To The Game: It’s all about the Lakers defense, as always, and that starts with keeping the penetration of Parker under control. You can’t let him get into the paint for easy buckets, and when they do get in the paint you can’t collapse on them off Bowen in the corner or Barry. Parker’s outside shooting has been off of late (and it was never great, but he is 0-11 from three in the last 10 games) so this would be the rare instance I think the Lakers should go under picks, play off him a little and make him a jumpshooter.

The other thing about the Lakers defense – it always leads to fast break points when they are playing it right. That would be a big help today, the Spurs like it slow (28th in pace in the league). Push the tempo and they become more uncomfortable. (Although, part of what makes the Spurs fantastic is they never stop doing what they want to do, they don’t get sucked into your game. That is a veteran team.)

Well, I guess I should say it’s not all about the Lakers defense – the teams Spurs have had the most trouble with this year are the ones that are the most offensively efficient. Against the teams that are the 10 best shooting teams in the league, the Spurs have won “just” 48% of the games, and the teams that move the ball the best (as determined by racking up assists) beat the Spurs 54% of the time. Basically, if the Lakers play their offense they should score, and that will put pressure on the Spurs offense, not that team’s strong suit.

The Lakers need to crash the boards hard and not let Duncan and Oberto control them for easy put backs.

Where you can watch: Game time is 12:30 pm (Pacific) and it is ABC for everyone.

102 responses to Preview and Chat: The San Antonio Spurs

  1. 2 games left and 4 teams still have a real shot at the 1 seed, what a crazy season.

    Lakers need to play that swarming rotating defense we saw in the first half, it was beautiful.

  2. Just a little request, could we not have Tony Parker go for 35 and not let Ime Udoka have a career day, thanks Lake Show.

  3. With Ginobili out, Finley becomes the key. Stop Finley and the Spurs have too little firepower on offense. Finley has one move. One. The one or two dribble J moving to his left. The key is to close out on him whilst shading to his left. He cannot go to his right.

    I like our matchups. As Pau has always played Duncan tough, the only real tough one is Parker. Similar aggressive shows on the PNR like against Paul and we should be fine.

    Lamar has a huge advantage against Oberto, Thomas, or Duncan. Let him isolate and take his man off the dribble.

    The Lakers need one of the 3 Vlad/Luke/Farmar to step up (all three were non entities against the Hornets).

  4. I’m still sceptical that manu won’t show up, last second change up, but I’m hoping that won’t make a diference either way.
    I really liked that Kobe defensive stop on the PNR against the Hornets, when he dropped back and blocked the alley oop to Chandler…that made ’em think again before trying that one and took one of their staple plays away, for a time anyway.
    I’d like to see more of that, we all know Kobe can JUMP, (like over cars…hahaha)

  5. This has been the most exciting regular season finale I’ve ever seen and I’ve been watching since showtime. The Laker’s need to use their athleticism and superior offensive power against San Antonio. I agree with Bill that Odom can have his way with this team if he gives a really aggressive effort tonight. If Fish can stay in front of Paul, I’m pretty sure he can do the same with Parker. Fish/Farmer will really be the x factors on the defensive end.

    The Spurs are a drive and kick team, we need our guards to prevent Parker from finding creases.

    Conversely, we need to be in attack mode the entire 48. The Spurs contest everything and I think if we can get a lot of dribble penetration the Spurs could end up in foul trouble.

  6. Sunday afternoon Laker games always means “watching” with my 2-yearold son. Really he is watching Thomas the Tank Engine or some other such nonsense while I watch the game. Hopefully it will be a good game from the Laker perspective as he tends to enjoy the experience more when I’m excited and celebratory than when I’m pensive and seething.

    Anyway, I want to see one of those inspired 30-point showings from LO today, seems he likes to have those on national TV.

  7. I love listening to the ABC announcers trying to generate interest in the Toronto-Detroit game…

  8. Back to tiebreakers and controlling our own destiny…

    I am sure we control our own destiny (as The Dude Abides and Stephen noted on the other thread). All the tiebreaker rules state that if there is a 3 way tie, the first thing you do is use tiebreakers to determine division champions. Then you apply the other tiebreaker rules among the divisional champions to determine seeding. So if LA, NO, and Houston finish 57-25, you first have to determine division champion between NO and Houston. NO wins because of the better division record (they went 2-2 head to head). Then you apply the rules to NO and LA, and LA wins (better conference record). All of this leaves Houston as the 3 despite having the best head to head among the 3 teams (which would decide any seeding between the teams where divisional champions didn’t matter, but it does here). That would leave:

    1. LA (57-25)
    2. NO (57-25)
    3. Houston (57-25)
    4. Utah
    5. San Antonio (if we finish 57-25, they can’t finish with more than 56 wins; if they lose out then Phoenix passes them for the 5, but that is unlikely)
    6. Phoenix
    7. Dallas
    8. Denver/GS

  9. Why so pessimistic w/ Chad?!?!

  10. Thanks for the clarification Reed. I guess there’s a chance the Houston wins out and NO loses one…

  11. 10– Damn. You’re right.

  12. I still can’t believe that we could be a 2 or 3 seed and play Dallas or Phoenix round 1 followed by San Antonio in round 2 (if we make it).

    In other words: let’s get a win today.

  13. The wild card in all the final standings is the last game of the season. Because chances are everybody’s going to be sitting out their stars. I know I’d be shocked if McGrady,Battier and Motumbo played against the Clips,just as I’d be amazed if Kobe,Lamar and Gasol played against the Kings.

  14. This should be a great game. I’m very optimistic for the Lakers, but won’t peek beyond this game. The rest of the day and tyhe next two days should continue to be very interesting.

  15. Houston is a threat to us for the #1 seed even if we win today and against the Kings, but they play Denver and Utah in their next 2 games. The fact that so many teams now have 25 wins and could either get the 1 or 5 seed is nuts. Who does NOH pull for when we play San Antonio? We’d need to lose to get them back in the hunt for #1, but a Spurs loss helps NOH claim the division title…

    I guess we’ll see what happens and take what we can.

    I hope Bowen doesn’t go for 25 against us again today. I just got a new LCD tv yesterday. I don’t want my inaugural Lakers HD game to be a loss.

  16. I didn’t read Reed’s post before writing that post (bad idea on my part). So nevermind my concerns about Houston I guess. This stuff is complicated.

  17. Stephen…l def. expect kobe and co to play against the kings

  18. Will ANYONE be sitting their stars with so much at stake? Or conversely, will they be doing so because there’s no way to gauge where the other top teams are gonna end up?

    This really makes me hope for Hollinger’s re-alignment of playoff seedings across the league, which would be so weird …

  19. Every time I see Finley step to the left and hit that jumper, I think of Bill Bridges. Someone should print out Bill’s scouting-reports-slash-comments and staple them to the Lakers’ heads! (That means you, Vlad Rad!)

  20. We should be ashamed to let this team score 53 in a half and over 52% from the field. Parker is dissecting us.

  21. The Lakers need to stop being a midrange jumpshot team. Every time they go inside they get fouls, or easy looks at the rim, with little resistance. Frankly, SA looks tired.

  22. Kobe to Michelle

    Take it to the hole
    Take care of the ball
    Don’t give up open corner 3’s

    Well they know what to do…

    Lets see if they can execute. 81 Witness is right. Spurs look tired (except for Parker) . Energy on defense to create some transition points would be real handy in the first 5 minutes of the 3rd.

  23. Good defense to start the half. Kobe is playing a good team game, Lakers gotta push this lead and out and kill em now!

  24. Out of a time out. Watch out for a Duncan/Parker high pick n roll with Parker looking for Bowen for the corner three.

  25. Wow, there’s some deep-rooted pessimism over on the Spurs blog.

  26. Why do lakers continue to double team Duncan when Gasol is doing a good job guarding him one-on-one? It’s leaving guys like Udoka, Finley and Bowen wide open for jumpers. Horrible!

  27. Why the f**k are the lakers continuing to double team duncan. Gasol is doing a good job one-on-one with him?

  28. It feels like the Spurs are barely hanging on for dear life in this game, but for some reason we can’t put them away. Heading into the 4th, we really need to come out with great intensity and remove any hope or desire the Spurs have to win this game.

  29. Finally. please go to Odom on the right block (Not the LEFT) every time.

  30. If we keep this lead, Pop may just fold tent and let Parker and Duncan sit, no time to let up. Rony is having a great impact today, both ends of the floor

  31. lakers bench just owned the spurs’ second unit….wow down 20 with less than 7 mins left….pop should fold tent

  32. Am I the only one dancing like Ronny in my house right now?

    (The floating towel dance is harder than it looks!)

  33. Where’s Coby Karl when you need him?

  34. And he just did. No Parker or Duncan.

  35. And now…back to hating the Kings!!!!

    Kurt-you called it, the bench was the difference.

  36. Best part of this run….Kobe and Gasol not playing

  37. And now…Kobe is icing his knees on the bench!

  38. I’m not concerned too much about Houston going 3-0 for the rest of the season. This road swing at Denver and at Utah will be very tough.

  39. Wow, we didn’t just beat the spurs, we dismantled them! Jesus, 1st in the west is now looking a lot more likely. :-D!

  40. Now here was a win to give us fans confidence. The only thing I worry about – I always find something to worry about – is overconfidence against the Kings. These guys have destroyed two teams to give us this position; so let’s not underestimate the damage they could do to us. Don’t think they won’t cherish the role of spoiler against the hated Lakers.

  41. The Dude Abides April 13, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    I don’t think the Lakers will be complacent against the Kings. They already beat us here, and they just beat NO up there. They would be a top five team in the East. As for today’s game, the Lakers did what they had to do, and that’s take care of your home court against an elite team that’s equally shorthanded.

    Oh yes, I just love how Bowen tried to convince the refs that his hard foul on Luke on that rebound in the fourth quarter wasn’t even a foul. I mean, come on. You slam your arm down as hard as you can on a guy’s head, and that’s not a foul? I’d love to see dirty Bruce get suspended in the playoffs, but that would open up playing time for Udoka, who’s playing better basketball right now.

    What happened to “Bill Points” this games???? Both Kobe and LO didn’t hit their total??? :-)!

  43. Aaron… come on you gotta play the 4th…

  44. So, we need to win our game and A) have the Hornets win out, or B) if the Hornets lose one more, have the Rockets lose at least one more game.

  45. This, I believe was Pau’s best game as a Laker. I was in Athens for the 2004 Olympics and in the knock out game against Spain, Gasol just owned Duncan. The USA only won because Starbury got incendiary and didnt’ miss. Ever since then Gasol probably became Duncan’s toughest match up. Somehow during the Olymjpics when Pau realized that he was the best big man in the tournament and not Duncan, something clicked for him. Nobody else, not Shaq, blocks Duncan’s hook shot in the lane.

    Oh and Aaron, I said that when Kobe and Lamar get their Bill points, the Lakers win. Not that the Laker’s can’t win when they don’t.

  46. Warren Wee Lim April 13, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    emma from the other thread…

    It ain’t blind’s faith no more eh? Ãœ

    Anyway, this is such a nice present for my Bday. Ahhh life is good these days..

  47. No, it’s great … but I still would like to know your reasoning! Happy Birthday, btw.

  48. great win. if we can keep this up, next season with Bynum and Ariza will be a cakewalk!

    incredible, how Houston jumped into the mix with that mighty win streak. I really didn’t think Houston would be in the discussion, even after the streak, but here they are. If they do win the west, COY might as well go to Adelman…

    anyway, this season is incredible in that we started the season with sweep in the championship, Donaghy, tanking, Kobe demanding trades… and ended up with KG, Gasol, Kidd and Shaq being traded, 23 win streak by a team that lost its #1 player (arguably), handful of players playing their minds out, Hornets coming out of nowhere, and the west about to force a near-50 win team out of the playoffs as well as having 3 teams fight for the #1 seed until the last minute.

    speaking of seeds, in a conference this tight, does it really matter? surely there are more favorable matchups, especially with certain teams better equipped to deal with certain others, but we could even let Portland and the Kings into the playoffs and nobody would take them for granted either…

  49. The Dude Abides April 13, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    LOL, watching the Sports Central show on CBS LA: Jim Hill and Steve Hartman are clueless. Hill just said that the Lakers win the tiebreaker over NO because of a 3-1 head-to-head record, and then he said the Lakers have the tiebreaker over HOU because of a 2-1 head-to-head record. Great work, guys!

  50. Man, I don’t see how Phil doesn’t have a strong argument himself for COY, he’s utilizing players the talking heads (and Kobe) doubted could even make the playoffs (granted we now have Pau).

  51. That accidental basket in the first game loss to houston looms large…

  52. The Dude Abides April 13, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Reed, no way that HOU goes on the road and beats DEN and UTAH on back to back nights. I’m hoping that HOU loses both games and gets the #5 seed. I wouldn’t mind the Lakers playing DEN and UTAH in their first two rounds while PHO, SA, DAL, and NO fight it out in seven-game series, giving Andrew and Trevor more time to get healthy for the WCF.

  53. 49 – Dude,
    Even the ESPN commentators were confused on the tiebreaker issue, saying HOU would have the 3-team tiebraker. Now that I look at (before I read the tiebreakers on ESPN), it clearly states:

    “c. Guidelines For Applying Tie-Break Criteria.
    (1) (a) … ties to determine the division winners must be broken before any other ties.”

    Which means HOU has to win out AND NO lose a game for HOU to tie us and take the top seed. But yeah, the CBS guys really should have done their homework on head-to-head records. That’s ridiculous.

    FYI, both NO and SA have the tiebraker with HOU for the division title based on division record.

  54. #1 seed watch: Denver up on Houston by 12, early 2nd quarter, Houtson playing without Battier, McGrady is forced to cover Melo.

  55. Hey Bill Bridges, I always wondered, given your great posts, whether you are “the” Bill Bridges–the power forward out of Kansas. Yes?

  56. things look good for our heroes, Denver up 17 at the half, 61-44. flipside to that is we may be playing a hot nuggets team, whose bench (jr smith, najera and nene) have been playing well, although they play no D and that is better than Dallas or Pho who do.

  57. 52– Agreed. While it’s probable we need to make the run without Bynum, it never hurts to draw an easy round or two to give him and Ariza time. Denver + Houston in the first two rounds would be ideal. Both are capable of beating us in a series, but much less so than the heavyweights we’d be avoiding on the other side. I rank our feared opponents as: (1) Phoenix, (2) San Antonio, (3) New Orleans, (4) Utah, (5) Dallas, (6) Golden State, (7) Houston, and (8) Denver. Big gap after #5.

  58. Wow, ESPN really has the tiebreaker situation wrong if you guys are right. Regardless, Denver up 20 midway through the third. Denver/Houston is as ideal as it can get, though Houston and its defense scare me. I do feel like, though Houston is CLEARLY an inferior team to us, and through a 7 game series that’ll show itself. If this is how it plays out, we definitely will be getting VERY lucky, and at least have a really good shot at WCF regardless if Bynum/Ariza ever come back.

  59. I don’t want to jinx anything, but Denver is doing pretty great against Houston right now. I’m crossing my fingers.

  60. I don’t think there’s any way we can get Houston in the first round, so the Nuggets are definitely who we want to see. Even if the Warriors somehow pull it out (which doesn’t look likely), we still want the 1 seed, because it will likely mean not having to see the Spurs or Suns until the WCF. This, of course, assumes that the Spurs can gain the 3 spot back from Houston.

    I’d love a Lakers-Suns series for the drama–it’d be so much sweeter/satisfying to beat Phx than the Nuggets or Warriors–but I’m not sure I want to see the Suns w/o Bynum. I think we can win, but that would probably go 7 games, and would tire us out. The easier the road thru the playoffs, the better.

    Although seeing Kobe throw a tomahawk over Shaq might be the greatest point of the entire season.

  61. who holds the tie breaker? Mavs or Nuggets?

  62. 59: Denver–they won the season series 2-1.

  63. I have a feeling George Karl will be dining with his son over the next few weeks …

  64. Okay, so it doesn’t really matter now, because Denver just won. All we need is for the Lakers to win one more up in Arco, giving us the #1 seed and the easier path to the WCF.

  65. Well, no more jinxing, it looks like Houston will be losing this one. This is definitely HUGE for the Lakers, but before we start talking…SAC-TOWN we gotta close that baby out!

  66. 62 — Actually, the game Tuesday is at Staples… good sign for picking up the #1 seed, I think!

  67. So… since Seattle upset Dallas, if Denver beats Memphis and New Orleans beats Dallas, then Denver will move to the #7 seed, and the top seed will play Dallas in the first round…

    I’m feeling less good about being #1 in the west.

  68. LOL!!!! Maybe we should lose to Sactown… a Dallas team that can’t beat Seattle shouldn’t be too hard to handle, right?

  69. 65 – Dallas might fall to 8th anyway on a tiebreaker if they lose to NO and Denver beats Memphis

    Let’s beat Sac and let the rest fall into place

  70. I know, I know, we’re 3-1 against the Mavs (all without Bynum, and our 1 loss was pre-Gasol), but this is a team that scares me a little bit!

  71. This is just me speculating…..

    But I’m guessing that the Western Conference Race has FINALLY taken it’s toll…..on all of the teams in the conference EXCEPT us. Spus are cracking down the stretch, Dallas looks Vulnerable, Hornets look like they’ve got nothing left, and Houston just got their asses handed to them by a young upstart.

    We’re peaking at JUST the right time. Take care of sac on Tues, and the rest wiull fall into place.

  72. Yes, Tuesday game is at Staples. Kobe won’t have to worry about eating bad cheeseburgers in Sactown…

  73. 57 – Reed,
    I agree with Phoenix, SA, and NO, but I don’t fear Utah and Dallas at all. I feel like we match up really well with them. I actually fear Golden State a lot more, not because I think we’d lose, but because of how much energy we’d have to expend to win. I think we all agree though that Denver would be the easiest matchup.

    Big games tomorrow:
    Houston @ Utah
    Golden State @ Phoenix
    San Antonio @ Cowbells

    Clippers @ New Orleans
    Cowbells @ Lakers

    New Orleans @ Dallas
    Clippers @ Houston
    Memphis @ Denver
    Utah @ San Antonio
    Portland @ Phoenix
    Seattle @ Golden State

    I think the seeding battle will go down to the last nite. Hopefully GS wins tomorrow at PHO so the race for 8th will go until Wednesday too.

  74. Happy to be a Lakers fan today. But let’s be real, the playoffs are where it’s at. Let’s get it on!

  75. I’ve been a faithful lakers fan since the early 80’s and I’ve never seen a season like this, with so many winning teams all clustered at the top and nothing actually decided, (sort of) until the lasy game or two.
    wow, what a season!
    ans, I’m not one to buy into all this MVP debating, but, when you consider how amazing this year has been for the western elite, top 8 or 9, and that Kobe has lad this team to the top, well, I can’t see him not winning it now.
    case closed.
    I said this a couple days ago, the Kings could be a spolier for us as well as the Hornets and Spurs, we gotta take care of business, finish it out strong!
    going to be a tough game, no one saving anything, and that’s something you gotta admire about now…look at Fish, the cagey vet is bringing it now, at the end of the season, when it’s needed the most, and he’s been through the playoffs, all the way to the championship, so he knows what to expect. his leadership will be a huge advantage for us now.

  76. Speaking of playoffs, nice article by Adande on ESPN saying that after this weekend the Lakers look like the team to beat:

    Interesting quote by Fisher comparing this Lakers team to the 3-peat Shaq-Kobe Lakers.

  77. It’s good to have our very own Lakers correspondent over at ESPN.

    “Instead of engaging in hand-to-hand combat with Bruce Bowen, then contending with Duncan at the rim, Bryant whipped passes to Fisher or dumped it inside to Gasol.”

    Miss reading that kind of material every other day in the LA Times.

  78. Speaking of playoffs, do any of you guys know where you can dl torrents of the games?

    I’m planning to watch all of the West playoff games and archiving it and rewatching it over the summer. Any sites? Anybody? Pretty please? Pretty please w/ a cherry on top?

  79. 77, try
    As a new member (bench warmer) you’ll need to stick to freeleech/bonusleech torrents for about a week, but once you get past the trial phrase it’s REALLY clutch

  80. Today went extremely well for the Lakers both in the victory and matchups. Not only did the Lakers beat San Antonio, but Houston lost–and Dallas fell to the Sonics!

    What can tomorrow bring?

    Golden State/Phoenix, Houston/Utah, and San Antonio/Sacramento–any of these games could change pairings for the playoffs.

    Let’s wait to see what happens Monday before we face Tuesday, and the Lakers final game to assure their #1 position in the playoffs–whatever that means.


    just went over to read the spurs blog, and wow, that’s some pessimism there. scary part is that they were right.

    now can we have the kings blog be as pessimistic and be right as well?

  82. The Dude Abides April 14, 2008 at 1:17 am

    Buried within this article is a hint that Andrew also isn’t confident about the Laker medical staff, echoing the views of some national bloggers and the occasional blog commenter.,1,3000813.story

  83. 77 – hertagnism, is alrite, and you might also check out, which I prefer. Much easier to navigate and their rules aren’t nearly as restrictive. Also, is the best site for Lakers games only, although they do take occasional requests. All 3 of those sites require you to join.

  84. Will,

    My Nom de Guerre is an homage to the great Laker PF, Bil Bridges, the second best Laker PF in history. My rankings by the way:
    1. Happy Hairston
    2. Bill Bridges
    3. AC Green

    McAdoo, Thompson, and Malone were all better but they were well past their prime by the time they were in PnG.

    Next year, I trust Gasol will be in the #1 slot. Bill Bridges, career double double and the nastiest elbow to the kidneys ever seen in the NBA. Nobody messed with a team with Bill Bridges on it.

    Did you all catch the interesting defensive scheme the Lakers brought out in the second half? The Spurs try to force the opponent to double team Duncan who then passes it out for open 3’s. The rotation is usually easy for Duncan to spot as it comes from the wing or corner.

    In the second half. The Lakers didn’t double him as much. Instead, when the Spur in the corner facing duncan cleared baseline, the Laker guarding him followed his man past Duncan but then immediately turned back to double him from the blindside. This disrupted Duncan’s usual kick outs because his usual normal targets were still covered yet he was being doubled hard from the baseline. Very smart and effective.

  85. 84-The key to that was the discipline. Everyone was on the same page, so the rotations were quick enough to disallow open looks. That bodes well for the playoffs, however we still need to improve our high screen and roll defense (we need to play it like we did the 1st half of Friday’s Hornets game, all game).

    New #1 seed twist- If Dallas loses to NO and Denver wins against Memphis, (assuming the Lakers win) we will play Dallas, not Denver, because Dallas will be 8.

  86. Odom deserves a shout out. He was the best player in both of the weekend victories (he had a team leading +/- of +13 in the NO game, no other starter was positive; he had a team leading +26 in the SA game). In fact, he’s been as good and critical as Gasol for a few weeks now (and Gasol has been amazing, even improving his defense and rebounding of late to go with the great offense). Odom finally gets it. Since the all-star break:

    15.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.4 blocks, and 58% shooting.

    The rebounding line would be good for 3rd in the league on the year and the FG% would be 4th. Add in great, versatile defense and you have a sure-fire all star. He is our x-factor. If he continues to play like an all star, we are the team to beat in the West, even without Drew. Some credit for this should go to Gasol, whose arrival sparked Lamar’s transformation (in ways I both do and don’t fully understand).

    I vote that the next person who says something about trading him for a Mike Miller or Andre Nocioni pu pu platter be banned. I don’t care if he isn’t the great spot up shooter as a 3 next to Pau and Bynum — we have plenty of those. He’s a 6’10”, fill in the gap , efficient at both ends, matchup nightmare and he’s perfect for us.

  87. We shouldn’t care about first round at all. We need the #1 seed to get home court until the Finals. Now, the team reaching the Finals will be exhausted, while the Pistons or the Celtics will only have played seven real games… Oh well…

  88. 86 Amen, brother! I have been a proponent of LO since he came to the Lakers. I have always been an admirer of his low key, all around game. Sure, he makes a few mental errors a game, but what he brings to the table each night is indispensible. And I am SO happy he has stepped it up these last few months.

    He is indeed our x-factor. I think our playoffs go according to how he plays, with or without Bynum.

  89. I love what LO brings to the game – and his stepping things up the last 2 mos has brought him to his potential, which was huge – but we also have to realize his limitations: passing and long distance set shots at pressure points in the game. This is no knock on Lamar, we all have our weaknesses, but the team and the fans have to realize there are places in the game where we should not expect Lamar to contribute as much.

  90. 89-That is the beauty of Pau, he fills the role as our other dependable scorer, allowing Lamar to do what he does well. The chemistry between those two is amazing.

  91. 87- That may not work in favor of the rested and untested team that comes out of the East!

  92. Bill Bridges……very cool, very old skool…..i like it. i also like your top three pf list. good old harold “happy” hairston. i still remember him and jimmy mac as a couple of my favorite lakers on that record setting team……..nice to see ronny getting back into the swing and attacking the rack and shooting the face up j with some confidence………dispense sacto on tues and bring on the playoffs!!

  93. Reed… About Odom. Only if the Lakers would give him the ball more (and if he would demand it) on the right block his numbers would even be scarier. He now has a counter drop step along with his hook in the lane. And with his new-found facility with his right hand… Damn near unstoppable. But he should NOT camp out on the left side as he nearly always takes the fade away J (clang)

    Also. As Randy Jackson says. Ronny Turiaf. IS BACK!. I don’t know where he went for the last 2 weeks but he’s BACK. Great to see.

    Acouple of links for the community of interest:

    Remind yourselves of how far we’ve come and cherish this team.


    Would you sell out for “low 7 figures” Kurt?

  94. Warren Wee Lim April 14, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Using my mobile here so i’ll be thrift on words.

    LO is definitely coming out. I guess a little threat to be moved out and not extended counts for something. He is playing like he is auditioning for the team.

    I like where we are. I think Kobe is conscious of how the #1 seed can cement his name as MVP. He is now the best player on the best team. The 2 big wins over NOH and SA definitely did him in.

    Congrats Kobe Bryant !!

  95. 93- turiaf is absolutely brilliant!! Yesterday afternoon he was consistently hitting that midrange j….he really reminds me of a more active udonis haslem (in limited mins ofc) doing all the dirty work, scrapping for rebounds, always fighting out there. simply amazing!! Lakers are definately going to finals if everyone plays like yesterday!

  96. 84 – I noticed one play in particular that Luke helped on the weakside, but still guarded his passing options, while Pau shut down Duncan on the inside. Very effective and nice to see the coaching staff making adjustments and the team being able to execute them.

    This is the most amazing spot we could be from where I pictured us in the beginning of the season. If you’d have told me that all we needed to do was beat the Kings at home and we’d have the #1 seed in the west, I’d have been ecstatic. And that wouldn’t have even taken into account the fact that we made the trade to acquire Pau and did it all with Andrew hurt what looks to be the toughest conference in league history. May the purple and gold flags fly high for many years to come! Go Lakers!

  97. What a second half yesterday! Fish has really stepped up the intensity the last couple games, Pau had a great game against Duncan and Kobe was, well, Kobesque. Ronny was great out there as was the rest of the bench.

    As far as all those tiebreakers go, let the math heads deal with it. All I know is, when the Lakers beat the Kings they own the #1 seed regardless of what anyone else does.

    Okay, here’s my gripes (and I always have some when it comes to the Lakers):
    Still too in love with the 3. There need to be more dribble penetration. Kobe can get to the line whenever he wants, but he sometimes gets too satisfied with launching deep bombs.
    Consistency on D. Great D for stretches during the first half against the Hornets and the entire second half against the Spurs, but it needs to be for more than 20-25 minutes a game.
    And finally, this is more for the fans at Staples. Wake up! The crowd was asleep for the entire first half. Laker crowds are notorious for sitting on their hands, but this is a young team that feeds off of emotion and they barely made a peep in the first half on Sunday.

    Anyway, I’m happy that it looks like the Lakers are going to wind up playing the Nuggets in the first round. I think that series will break some scoring records. AI and Carmelo will both break 30 points a game and the Lakers will still cruise to victory.

  98. carter blanchrd April 14, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Loving the Odom love (Reed’s post in particular). I also giggle every time Ronny gets in position for that 18 footer that he’s making very consistently these days.

    Also, Bridges, please keep up the great scouting breakdowns. I love it when you make explicit something I sort of think I’m seeing, but am unable to articulate clearly. And then once you do break it down, it totally changes the way I watch play unfold.

  99. it seems more likely that we will face Mavs in the 1st round. so much for the 1st:(

  100. What a reversal of expectations and fortunes this franchise has gone through over the past months. To go into the playoffs with the division title and possibly the best record in the West while still not being too heavily favored is a treat. The only thing this team lacks (besides young AB) is some battle testing and let’s hope that occurs through some on-the-job training.

    And let’s not forget our playoff secret weapon, Phil Jackson, Zen trickster.

  101. how can you be worried about the spurs bench when it is the exact same as last year PLUS Kirt Thomas?