Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  April 21, 2008

To me, game one followed a predictable script, just like every Hugh Grant romantic comedy. The Nuggets had one big run in the second quarter, but for the other three they could not stop the Lakers so long as LA took care of the ball and didn’t shoot early in the clock. The problem for Denver is they don’t have a lot of options to change up that could affect what the Lakers do, not because of a lack of talent but just how the team plays together. Just like a romantic comedy, we can expect to see a few tweaks in the rest of the series, but I think we’ve seen the formula and we know how the movie ends.

Here are some other thoughts from game one, and also check out the stuff from the Nuggets blog Pick Axe and Roll.

Things I liked:

• The Nuggets had no answer for Pau Gasol (interesting that for a while Karl thought Carmelo might be that answer — he wasn’t, something we all could have predicted). And while his shooting was spectacular, what set that up was his passing. It started with the first two times he got the ball in the post — he got great assists (the pass inside to a cutting Radmanovic who had sealed off his man, then the cross courter to Fisher for the three). His passing had the Nuggets defenders looking for the pass, opening up his lanes for shots (first shot of the second half a fake pass gave him a lane, he drew the foul). That and he benefited from some great passing from teammates.

• One thing that breaks down the Nuggets defense is good passing. (Well, that’s true of every defense, but the gambling style of the Nuggets makes it worse. Even when they play a zone they don’t stay home.) The Lakers are the best passing team in the NBA right now, particularly among their big men. The front line of Odom, VladRad and Gasol combined for 20 assists. That led to a lot of the Lakers lay-ups or wide-open threes. Part of the advantage there was that with K-Mart on Kobe, it created a mismatch inside where Laker bigs could see better passing lanes.

• The Lakers offense thrived when it went inside out. Not so much when the ball just worked around the perimeter. Now, read the bullet point above this about passing again and it all comes together.

• Lamar Odom’s play. He just continues to be great to watch.

• Sasha on defense. The Lakers need to go to him more, his length gives Iverson and other Nuggets ball handlers issues.

• I like Drrayeye’s quote: “Unselfish Laker teamwork more than makes up for the extraordinary talent of those Nuggs.”

Things I did not like:

• The DUI chant. You’d think, after all the vitriol directed at Kobe after Colorado a few years ago and Lakers fans response to it, they would have learned a lesson here and not acted like a third-grade schoolyard bully. Not to downplay the seriousness of drinking and driving, but Anthony has handled it with as much class as could be hoped for. That chant was just cheap.

• The pace was 103 possessions. Too fast.

• The Nuggets second-quarter run was fueled in part by misses by the Lakers. Well, that and some questionable defense on JR Smith and Keliza. And some terrible defense in transition in that stretch. All season long the Lakers second unit (led by Farmar) has come in with a burst of energy and pushed the tempo, being willing to take jumpers early in the clock. In this game, against the Nuggets, that backfired. Which is why Farmar was a team worst -15.

• As a Laker fan, I didn’t like Kleiza’s play. He can hit the outside shot but he was one of the few Denver players to consistently drive to the basket. (Iverson tried).

• How Kobe was just a jump-shooter against Martin. One of the advantages Kobe has when he drives the lane is just how strong he is, but he’s not stronger than Martin. That and Martin’s size had Kobe pulling up, but he needs to attack more. Kobe generally makes better decisions when he’s attacking than when he’s pulling up.

Other random thoughts:

• I would expect Denver to try again to be more physical with the Lakers next game. Problem is Denver really doesn’t have the personnel to do it up and down the roster. Utah on the other hand….

• Man, how compelling was that opening weekend? The Suns and Spurs? The Sixers win in Detroit? Both of those were thrilling endings to watch. I’m excited the playoffs are back.

• If Tim Duncan beats you with a three (or sends it to another OT) you just have to tip your hat to the man. That’s the shot you want to force.

• I really like the MJ “Or maybe you’re just making excuses” commercial.

• Phil Jackson has become a master of saying nothing in his responses to those in-game questions. He should run for office.

Kurt

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54 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. great points. The lakers’s passing was sharp yesterday. We need more of that throughout the playoffs.

    I still think the mismatches Denver created for itself were one of their major downfalls. Leaving AI on Luke and RadMan isn’t going to work because he’s always going to need help. In no way do I think the Space Cadet or Son of Bill are better than AI, it’s just, size matters.

    I’m okay with letting Kleiza get his if it means we are stopping AI, Melo, and Camby.

    lastly, I <3 pau!

  2. skigi posted this in the last thread, I thought I’d move it over for him

    Hey guys… I was at the game yesterday in some pretty good seats (thanks to some free tickets we got through my brother’s work)… Great game. Here are some quick observations…
    -The Lakers started the game out by going to the mismatch every time down the court. The Nuggets started AI on VladRad so the Lakers were trying to post AI every time and it was working pretty well but the Lakers got away from that (which led to the Nugs going from 10 down to almost 10 up)
    -The Nuggets do NOT like to pass the ball to each other (except for Iverson). It seemed like every time down the court, anybody other than AI on the Nuggets was just looking out for themselves and their stats. No teamwork, No chemistry. Most of the times that Melo would get the ball, Kleiza would be WIDE WIDE open in the corner for a 3 (which he had been hitting) and Melo would not even look in his direction as he would drive into 3 Lakers and throw up a wild shot.
    -Allen Iverson is AMAZING to watch in person. His quickness is unbelievable, he hits the deck once every 2 minutes because he is so small and light, and he can not be rattled… every time the crowd would be amped and super loud, Iverson would make some ridiculous play and quiet everybody. AI was truly amazing yesterday.
    -Kleiza looks kinda fat in person but he is way more athletic than you would think. Solid role player.
    -Kobe and K-Mart were trash talking the ENTIRE game because K-Mart was trying to guard Kobe and Kobe was telling him that he could not.
    -Kevin Love and Derrick Rose were sitting right next to my isle. K-Love was with his dad (real tall) and Rose was with a couple basketball player looking friends and some guy who was looking and acting like an agent (started kissing up to Love and his dad once he saw them). Rose seemed pretty uninterested in the Lakers game, and Love seemed pretty uninterested in all the fans going up to him and asking for his autograph, he kind of seemed like an a-hole.
    -Ron Artest was walking around on the court at halftime saying hello to everybody on the Lakers and Nuggets and acting like he would like to be on their team next season.

  3. I definately agree with you regarding Kobe’s game- K-Mart did a great job in encouraging him to become a jump shooter and he obliged happily.

    I thought the ball movement was simply beautiful for much of the game but Kobe killed the offense a lot of times by stopping the ball in one place and then just going up for the j repeatedly, usually with a Nugget in his face.

    Now I know Kobe can go on a hot streak, but in the first place we didn’t need him to take over and he wasn’t making anything.

    I’m thinking we’ll see a lot less of Carter next game and a lot more Kleiza/Smith especially if they keep putting Martin on Kobe. To be honest I’m still rooting for them to keep Camby in the game as much as possible, he loves his jumper and tends to turn his head away from Pau a little bit too much.

  4. Somebody help me with the stats, but from what I see with mine two eyes, Lamar is the most valuable Laker in terms of +/- right now. It seems like every time the offense and/or rebounding gets stagnant, it’s cuz LO is on the bench. Too bad he can’t play a full 48 each night.

  5. Can anyone let me know where I can watch replay of the whole game?

  6. Don’t know if you guys have seen this yet, but thought I’d send it your way. Love any video where I get to see Ronny Turiaf and the Machine talk

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=granderson/080417&sportCat=nba

  7. Agreed on the Jordan commercial, between that and the “There Can Only Be One” ad’s the NBA is really on fire in its advertising (even though the Jordan one is for Nike, it still applies to basketball as a whole I would think)

    I don’t mind Kleiza and Smith going off, fairly sure it’s by design to get the ball in those guys hands and away from Chucklen Chuckverson and Chuckmelo Anthochuck…Kleiza can score 82 points if he wants but as long as the team doesn’t get going I’m going to have to get the broom ready for this series

  8. I didn’t mind the DUI chant, actually. Sure, it was juvenile as all get out, and something you’d expect even a college crowd to show more class with, but I still liked it. I’m a Lakers fan that just moved to Colorado from the San Diego area, and believe me when I say that no crowd in the NBA shows less class than Denver when Kobe comes to town. No insult is off limits, and some of this stuff I’d never even heard of. Carmelo probably wasn’t phased, and should’ve expected – he’s heard what his home fans have to say about Kobe.

    Two rights don’t make a wrong, sure – but this is just basketball. Trash talking is part of it. If Denver can dish, Denver can take. Believe me, come Saturday when I’m in attendance for Game 3 (and 4 on Monday), Denver will have their revenge with Kobe.

    No harm, no foul.

  9. I’m not sure that last sentence read properly – Come Saturday when I’m at Game 3, I will certainly hear worse than a DUI chant in Kobe’s direction.

  10. Some comments,

    Kurt’s right, the DUI chant was childish and cheap. Laker fans do not stoop to the level of the nuggets.

    ” The Nuggets second-quarter run was fueled in part by misses by the Lakers. Well, that and some questionable defense on JR Smith and Keliza. And some terrible defense in transition in that stretch. All season long the Lakers second unit (led by Farmar) has come in with a burst of energy and pushed the tempo, being willing to take jumpers early in the clock. In this game, against the Nuggets, that backfired. Which is why Farmar was a team worst -15.”

    Most of the damage was done by JR and Kleiza. From my viewpoint, it looked like the Lakers transition D was terrible (as you mentioned) and players failed to closeout (Kobe and Luke were tired). Ronny wasn’t 100% and it showed. I think PJ needs to tell the second team (Farmar, Sasha, et al.) to slow the ball down and be patient. Denver’s D is suspect and the middle will open itself up with some dribble drive penetration and kick-outs (how many points in the paint did they give up?), but only if they are late in the clock.

    I agree, Kobe should be more aggressive and look to pass around the double when it comes. Expect to see lots of allyoops next game. Odom and Pau move too well without the ball.

    Other random thoughts:

    Utah more physical than Denver? I used to think the same thing, but then again I don’t see AK, Mehmet, Deron, Brewer, Korver, etc. being too aggressive. AK is too thin. Mehmet is not musuclar enough. Deron needs to save his energy on offense. Brewer will get into foul trouble against Kobe. I can’t see Korver being physical. That leaves Millsap and Boozer to enforce. Yes, both of those players are physical and will give Odom and Pau problems. But, they need to stop 3 other players.

    Funny comment on PJ. He loves to play passive-aggressive with those reports at the Go network.

  11. Overall, I liked a lot from yesterday, and agree with pretty much everything Kurt said.

    A couple of things that were very meaningful to me were:

    1) How bad our transition d was. Awful. Kleiza, Smith, and AI were all able to attack in the open court and create easy offense. What the Lakers provided in that stretch in the 2nd quarter was worse than a pick up game with old fat people who don’t like to run.

    2) The number of baskets Gasol scored off of assists. I counted at least 9 or 10 of his baskets coming off assists. And many of these were gift wrapped, “here you go” type plays where he literally could have finished flat footed (and on a couple he did). I know that it’s rare for a big man to *create* his own offense the way that guards do. So it would make sense that a lot of bigs get baskets off of assists. But, in reality, many post players end up receiving a pass and performing some sort of rythm move/go to move in order to get their shot off. This motion usually takes away assist oppurtunities from the passer b/c the post player has used multiple dribbles or held the ball for so long before he shoots. But yesterday, Gasol was catching the ball in positions to just dunk or lay in the ball. Easy. Easy. Easy. Baskets.

    3) I’ve seen this mentioned before, but it bares repeating: Gasol changes ends like few 7 footers can. He glides. Now guys like the Mailman or, more currently, Amare can change ends. But Gasol is great at running that middle lane and finishing off the break on standard passes and on trail plays. Amazing that a guy that big can change ends like that consistently.

    4)Kobe vs. Kenyon. I actually think Kenyon did a good job in taking away Kobe’s driving lanes. Kenyon showed good lateral quickness in denying peneatration, although it certainly helped that he was playing a full step and a half to two steps off of Bean. But this tactic had it’s price of Camby having to deal with Gasol and Odom around the basket….and obviously it was too much. I think Karl will try to keep Martin on Kobe while also figuring out how his defense can rotate to cover the paint, but that is going to be tough without Melo or Kleiza being the physical, defensive types.

    5) And finally, Luuuuuuuuuuuuke!!! Walton was extremely effective in the post. Note to George Karl: You can not put a small guy on Luke. Ever. He will kill that guy in the post. One of Luke’s greatest strengths is his ability to obtain and hold position on the block. He uses his body in ways that only the strongest of post players can. He seals his man without pushing and can make solid moves to get to the rim or get his shot off with ease. If it really was that easy, everyone would do it. Look how Radman tried the same thing earlier in the game….he pushed his guy in the back and got an offensive foul. Luuuuuuuuuuuke!!!

  12. i for one do not think kb24 will have 2 bad shooting games in a row. the fact that his shot was not falling early enhanced the “d” kmart was playing and prevented kobe from getting into a good rhythm. kmart is long enough and still has some hops to challenge kb24 at the rack. by playing off him a bit, he afforded himself the space to close the angle if kb were to put the ball on the floor. now if kb’s shot was on and kmart had to close on the jumper, kb could get his head by kmart’s torso and be on his way to the rack where he could finish or if help came, pau and lo would be able to finish…….this latter scenerio is bound to surface in the next game if the nuggets stick to the same scheme…..

  13. Pretty crazy to see a 6’10 PF lead the break and pass off to a streaking 7’1 C for a slam dunk

    JR Smith is an ‘all or nothing’ offensive player. 3 ball or dunk, the Lakers must make him an off the dribble, mid-range shooter

    Kleiza is more difficult, but one thing that would be an improvment is not helping off of him when AI drives the lane, he is a good catch and shoot guy

    George Karl- I thought he made a nice move with K Mart on Kobe. I think he has to make the rest of the lineup right. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a

    Camby on Pau
    AI on Fish
    Melo on LO
    Kleiza (Smith, or Najera) on Vlad (Luke)
    Martin on Kobe

    The Lakers did a good job in the 3rd quarter mixing in good half court patience with great transition offense. This is the key, tempo, we must slow down, we can score all day.

  14. Kurt,

    re: Kobe

    Yes he was a jump shooter which didn’t make sense as he should have been able to blow by Martin and cause havoc in the lane.

    But the nature of the jump shots bothered me. It is one thing if he would take the jump shots in the context of the offense as a by product of off the ball movement. Instead, the offense came to a screeching halt as he would hold the ball, jab step, etc etc before launching the J. Another way to think about this is to figure out how many assists his teammates would have gotten if he had made his jump shots – very few.

    On a nuggets board I picked this comment from a reader:

    “Gasol, the Lakers ball movement and exploiting mismatches was the thorn in the Nuggets side today. If anyone says any different, they weren’t paying attention. If Kobe wasn’t dumb today, the Lakers would of won by 20 and scored 140+ points.

    The mindset of the team as well as some fans on this board to outscore or always blame **** on offense is disgusting. The FT’s and some other stuff didn’t help and really sucked, but it wouldn’t of changed the outcome of the game and if it did, then it would of been a fluke 130-128 type of win that would be hard to duplicate 3 more times.

    I mean, look at what Kobe did today (9-26 and 1 dime) and the Lakers still had no problems. If one of our stars had a game like that, then the Nuggets probably would of had no chance or gotten blown out. The Nuggets rely to heavily on AI or Melo having near perfect games offensively.

    It was hard to watch Kobe have a mediocre game and the Lakers still win pretty comfortable with others stepping up. That’s what makes a consistent and title contending team. Kenyon did a great job on Kobe, but it also set it up for Gasol and Odom to abuse the interior. Kobe was pretty stupid at times trying to do unnecassary ****, but not enough for the Nuggets to take advantage and steal an undeserved win.”

    I hope that Tex cuffs him about the ear and Kobe studies the tape and lubricates the offense rather than gumming it up the next game.

    Oh by the way let’s not have Kobe start on AI the next game. First of all, it didn’t seem to slow Iverson down at all anyway. And resulted in Kobe getting hyped up and picking up silly fouls. Being in foul trouble probably made him more tentative on offense to avoid picking up a charging foul. Wait for the 4th (like the last game in Denver) to put Kobe on AI.

  15. This Little Pinky April 21, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    So, is the guy going to get the girl at the end of this movie, or what?

  16. Not comfortable with the role the bench played in this one. They will be needed to respond if this team wants to make a serious run deep into these playoffs…

  17. I was no. 7 – anonymous for the record

  18. Yeah, definitely a weird game by Kobe. Ill-advised, off-rhythm jumpers, lazy defense, a lot of smack-talk.

    It’s really nice to know that he can have one of his “off” games and we can still win comfortably.

    At one point I could read Phil’s lips, uttering an exasperated “Kobe…” after he gave up an easy layup.

    Let’s hope he doesn’t forget he’s got some real weapons now and try to do it all himself.

  19. carter blanchrd April 21, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    This has been up and around for a while, and someone may have commented on it already here and I missed it, but if not, just wanted to point out the contrast between Kobe and LeBron when it comes to playing against “good” vs “bad” teams (good teams being in the top third, bad teams being the bottom third)
    http://82games.com/COM1S11.HTM

    Kobe:
    Good teams: 30.0 ppg, 47% fg, 40% from 3, 7.2 reb, 4.9 assists
    Bad teams: 27.5 ppg, 45.6% fg, 35.5% from 3, 4.9 reb, 5.3 assists

    LeBron:
    Good teams: 28.3 ppg, 44% fg, 30% from 3, 7.5 reb, 7.7 assists
    Bad teams: 32.9 ppg, 50.4% fg, 32.9% from 3, 7.5 reb, 6.8 assists

    The sample sizes from these aren’t great, (24-29 gms), but there’s definitely evidence to confirm what we’ve all know for a while: Kobe is capable of stepping it up big time when needed. There’s also some evidence that LeBron pads his stats a bit by beating up on some of the bottom-dwellars. Very few marquee players in the league see the kind of boost that Kobe shows in both production and efficiency when playing the best of the best. For further comparison, look to Carmelo who’s avg’s 23.2 ppg on 44% shooting against the best teams, but 28.6 ppg on 53.2% shooting against the average teams in the league. The Boston trio is really the only other group that I see, with my informal scanning, that steps it up against the toughest competition. Just an observation.

  20. There were a few things that I noticed. When the Nuggets have AI as the two and decide to put him or Carter on our 3 we have to take advantage of that. Radman could not but Luke did with his 13 points. I doubt if we see that again. It was mentioned on a different that the Nuggets excel the most when AI is at the point.
    What do you get when you have two really good offensive teams? Bad defense and even worse defense. There were too many dumb fouls commited on both ends. It made the flow of the game unbearable to watch at times. There were 52 fouls called in the game. That’s a ridiculous rate.
    Jordan got 5 points for the 6th man of the year. He deserved more but what you gonna do. Manu winning it is a literal joke in my book.
    http://www.nba.com/news/sixthman_080421.html

  21. Kobe gets our full support — and also our wrath, when he pulls stupid (read simply human) things. That is the price he pays for being the marquee player in the league today.

    The comment I liked the most was Bill Bridges’ statement that he hopes Tex will cuff him about the ears and make him watch hours of tape of him playing 1-on-1 with Kenyon Martin.

    Also, the realization of the Denver fan, who stated they really did a good job on Kobe, but the rest of the team just “killed” them.

    I really am not worrying about the Nuggets too much, but I will watch every game of the Jazz/Rocket series. That series will tell the tale about the Lakers this year, I think. They are reasonably deep and Williams/Boozer are a heavy duty combo with will have to be at our best with.

  22. 20. Just for the record, the Lakers had an offensive rating of 124 yesterday, about 10 points (per 100 possessions) above their season average. Denver was 112, about 2 points below their season average (which means they were basically at their level). I’d like to see the Laker defense do better, but to be fair Denver is a good offensive team.

  23. So it all makes sense now. That’s what Kobe used to look like when he scored 35 points a game. Carmelo had perfect opportunities to set up his teammates but instead just tried to ram himself into the heart of the Lakers defense. The way we share the ball and have flow to our game (cept when Kobe took bad out of rhythm shots) is so much fun to watch. Great passing gets contagious and is great since we have guys that have high bball IQ’s. We’re getting open looks galore, but let’s remember that this is Denver and know that it does get tougher here on out. Controlling the flow of the game and captilizing in the middle were the keys to the game we didn’t really need to play spectacular defense, like many of you said before they do a lot of iso’s and one and done sets, which is fine if you make all of your shots…Denver didn’t.

  24. Want to second Kwame A., Odom and Pau together were great to watch again (big hug from behind for Odom from Gasol after the game).

    Also, I’d keep Kobe off Iverson until the 4th as well or use him only in spurts before that. He’ll expend a lot of energy, possibly get in foul trouble and lose focus in situations that call for a concerted team defense – showing on the pick and roll, directing cutters to spots were help can come effectively etc.

    I came upon this Gasol article via Hoopshype, maybe some of you haven’t read it:

    http://www.presstelegram.com/moresports/ci_8989287

    Includes the info that Pau played at guard while he was younger, a fact I assumed to be true but hadn’t found confirmed up until now

  25. 19 – I’m not sure you can conclude that “Kobe steps it up” or that “LeBron pads his stats”.

    If true about Boston’s big three, then I would suspect their numbers are larger against good teams because they actually play significant minutes against better teams (like Kobe does). When the Bobcats come to town (LA or BOS), Kobe, Pierce, Alllen, KG have a higher likelyhood of sitting out significant minutes.

    Now I’m not saying that my initial reaction is correct, but those numbers don’t prove anything without further analysis.

  26. Kurt, it seemd a lot of the fouls were reach in fouls and bad defensive positioning. The good offensive for both teamns took advantage of bad defense, hense the 50 points from the line. You wouldn’t see that from good defensive teams. I completely agree the Lakers do need to tighten up the D. I don’t see the Nuggets taking this series but we can’t get away with this when other teams come into town.

  27. carter blanchrd April 21, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    26- I checked that, and it’s true that Kobe’s mpg drop from ~40 to ~37 against “poor” teams, which partially explains why his numbers against “good” teams jump out, but not to the extent that they do, and it definitely doesn’t explain his increased efficiency. For LeBron he plays ~40 mpg whether up against a good team or a bad team. The fact that his ppg drops by more than 4 and his fg% drops 6 against quality teams does suggest that in the West LeBron’s numbers might not be as gaudy.

  28. Let’s hope Houston puts up a fight. Can’t expend too much energy on Denver, although I think the Denver series will get everyone sort of in-rhythm because of all the running and gunning they get.

  29. What kind of adjustments do you guys think Denver will make, if any, in Game #2?

    1. I think Game #2 will feature Iverson back at the “point guard” position, dominating the ball, initiating the offense.

    2. They’re really in a bind when it comes to defense. FT situations allow the Lakers to set up their defense, and at the same time stifles Denver’s transition game.

    So, if Iverson is able to penetrate and make the defense collapse out of a half-court set, I expect the Nuggets to play a very physical game and foul more often; if not, I expect their typical style of play.

  30. What do you guys think about some sort of FBG meet-up for Game 3 on Saturday at 2:30?

  31. 32 – jealous, since I live across the pacific. Maybe us oversea fans could have a get together ;)

    31 – this comes across far better than the ‘shaking tree’ bit seen earlier. he seems humble and man enough to admit mistakes, which is always a sign of maturity.

    I still don’t like how he went about accumulating 9-20, 1 assist and 1 tech, but then again, it’s good to know that he can afford all that without us really breaking sweat. and, like Kobe says, in hindsight, it must be truly demoralizing to have a 9-20 Kobe show up and still get beaten by double-digits.

  32. not sure if any of you guys saw this (per rotoworld.com)
    On Monday, Lakers coach Phil Jackson called the possibility of Andrew Bynum returning to play, presumably at any point in the playoffs, “remote.”
    When asked about playing Bynum with Pau Gasol, Jackson said, “I think without a doubt that Andrew would come off the bench, and we would play him a little bit off the bench if there was any chance that he could come back and play again, but it’s such a remote thing. We’re not seriously thinking about it.” Getting Bynum back would be huge for LA’s championship chances, but right now, it sounds like it may not happen. Apr. 21 – 9:07 pm et

    ..isn’t much different from what we’ve been hearing but still doesn’t sound good

  33. 33)

    Well, I wouldn’t believe Phil Jackson. He’d rather pretend to be surprised about a 2nd round return than have the next team we face (assuming we make it out of the first round) prepared with a defensive plan against an iffy Andrew Bynum.

  34. Utah is a monster. That series is going to be dangerous. I hope we’re up to it.

  35. Utah is now 2 up on Houston, and both games were very tough minded. This will not be an easy series. ‘The Round Mound of Rebound’ called the Lakers and Jazz the 2 best teams in the conference and had hoped they would meet in the WCF. While I don’t consider Charles an authority, I do agree with him in this instance.

  36. Something on houston – Feel really sad of T-Mac, he doesn’t have any real support or a player on the current roster who can create his own shot and Alston being out rockets suffered another soft loss and are on way to another first round exit.

    On next game i think we will see Carter’s playing time to be cut and we will see more of Smith and Kleiza. Kleiza and Smith are tall can defend Vald and Luke. That ways Martin can still stay on Kobe if they want, but that will still create problems for nuggets in the paint due to the passing ability of Odom and Pau. Melo has to come out with greater intensity on the defensive end if they have to stop Odom. Odom’s been a huge factor in game 1.
    32 i live in portland and its so damn tough to find lakers supporters here, i wish i could join you guys.
    I really like the idea of kobe not gaurding AI early to save energy and also to stay out of foul trouble.
    Sasha needs more playing time when JR and Kleiza are on floor. Sasha matches Kleiza well on the perimeter (remember the block at the buzzer by Sasha)
    About Bynum coming back, you never know whats going on in PJ’s mind. He loves playing mind games. Though if bynum’s coming back i would love to see him get some playing time before confrence finals or championship finals so that he can get back into game shape.

  37. That was a tough game for Hou to swallow and Utah looked really good. I think the biggest difference for Utah this year from last year is the play of Kirilenko. He’s actually giving them some solid play and now that he’s happy playing ball he’s looking to do the little things. When he’s inspired he’s the European Shawn Marion. Kirilenko will hustle and use his length to chase down balls and to make those little hustle plays that can alter the course of a game like the tip to Korver tonight.

    The key thing I like about the matchup between the Lakers and Utah is that they’re both excellent rebounding teams. It will be a pleasure to see some physical and hard fought games.

    The only worry I have is that the Lakers are having unequivocal success on offense b/c Denver is showing no resistance. What happens when Utah plays rugid defense and actually presents a real threat to the Lakers title?

    I can’t wait to see what the Lakers are made of.

  38. What seems to be so amazing is that the Nugget players don’t see what is really obvious to their own fans. They have so much talent that they can win even with playground basketball–but not consistently.

    For some of them, “team” is a four letter word, and position “defense” comes from a foreign vocabulary. The purpose of basketball for their stars is to demonstrate one on one moves and score more points than anyone else–even teammates.

    When another team scores uncontested layups through carefully executed teamwork, opposition players are looked down upon as inferior talent. Pau Gasol was downgraded (by Kenyon Martin) because he only allegedly shot one jumpshot, not admired for getting free or setting up a teammate through positioning, passing, and teamwork.

    The purpose of Nugget defense is to get steals, so individual players can make spectacular transition baskets, not to reduce the likelihood that an opposing team will score. Smush Parker would feel so at home in Denver.

    We need to be careful not to oversimplify. The Nuggs can play as a team for spurts. They did it in the second quarter of the first playoff game.

    The Lakers can go playground–at least Kobe can. But a balance between offense and defense and a commitment to team play is much harder to beat. It could even win the Western Conference!

  39. Okay. I watched the game but didn’t pay attention to Phil’s sideline interview. What did he say that was so humorous/passive-aggressive?

  40. What George Karl should do is…

    1 – Play mixed defenses, alternating a 2-3 zone with man-to-man. Throw the triangle out of synch by cutting the flow of the offense.

    2 – Play Iverson, JR Smith, Kleiza, Martin and Camby as the core. Carmelo Anthony should not be playing for them.

    3 – Switch K-Mart to Odom, stop Odom and let Kobe get his points.

    4 – Really not much else they can do… The team is a mess…

    What I will think George Karl is actually going to do…

    1 – Bench Carter and play JR Smith. Kleiza will still have limited minutes.

    What Jackson should do…

    1 – Convince them to play D and mentally control (use a telepat or something) Kobe to start shooting J’s and trash-talking to K-Mart

    What Jackson’s going to try…

    1 – The above…

    What Jackson’s going to get…

    1 – Maybe a little bit of the above.

    2 – Mihm on the floor for a couple of minutes.

  41. Looking ahead,but I am having major second thoughts about Utah. I’ve been saying all along that they will be extremely tough for the Lakers,but w/Williams slowed by his “posterior” injury,they are a team the Lakers should handle. Yes,they are handling “my” Rockets fairly easily and doing it on the road. But……
    Scola has been able to get past Utah’s bigs w/ease,he just can’t finish. Quick points are driving at will on the Jazz. Their offense is very inconsistant,very fluid for a few possesions,they it’s all iso’s for a few. Boozer has shown an ability to pick up reach/slap fouls in bunches. Kobe should be able to blow past any defender the Jazz have,and if they put 1/2 the focus on him they have McGrady,the rest of the Lakers should have great games. Kirilenko is their only shot blocker and he’s not strong enough to contest a player taking it strong. They are intensely physical,but it will be interesting to see who the League assigns to the games and how they’ll be called.
    Not saying Utah isn’t a good team.I just don’t think they are as good as I did prior to this series. The Playoffs will shine a spotlight on a team’s weaknesses,and so far it looks like Utah doesn’t quite have the pure athleticism to be a sure contender.(For the Rockets it’s the same thing I’ve been whining about for 3 yrs. Lack of an athletic big who can rebound and block shots,a reserve wing who can fill it up and another playmaker.)

  42. I’m all about getting excited, but the Lakers have only won one game. This series is far from decided. It seems a bit premature to start looking at round two when round one JUST JUST JUST got started. It’s not like Denver is the worst team in the league. An injury, suspension or a bad game can change the complexion of this series. I’m just trying to enjoy the playoffs game to game, not all at once.

  43. I agree, Utah could be tough. But I like our chances, especially if Vladi, Luke, Jordan, etc. can get a rhythm going while we dispatch Denver. Those will be some fun games to watch. Speaking of watching, any of you FB&Gers in the Austin area?

  44. Keys to game 2:

    1) Use the shotclock. Kobe, please be patient. Do not force up jumpshots, even if you are hot. You have one of the best coaches, stick to the game plan for the W. Denver’s team defense stinks. They break down and double-team leaving opposing players open. Do not stray from the path #24.

    2) Force the Nugs into jumpshots. Melo and Iverson hung 60 points on you. So what? The majority of their points were jump shots. Make Denver a jump-shooting team and force them to play to the Lakers tempo (see #1).

    3) I don’t believe starting Kleiza or Smith will provide any advantages for Denver: a) Both players are susceptible to fouling and would slow the pace of the game down (especially Smith); b) They would limit Camby and K-mart minutes (good news for Kobe and Pau), and c) they will not limit Melo and AIs attempts.

  45. thinking about the Bynum news, that his possibility of playing at all for the rest of the year is “remote”…
    well, think about this folks, what if when Andrew went down last (what was it? January?) what if the team called it a “season ending” injury???
    think about the effect it would have on the team morale.
    but to call it an 8 week healing process, that gave us all hope that young ‘Drew would be coming back to help us down the stretch drive and the playoffs.
    I think it’s possible that the team took this strategy, to avoid a meltdown, a letdown that might have been irreversable.
    then they went out and pulled the trigger on Pau for Kwame, and no one, not even management could imagine that pau would have been so effective for the spirit and chemistry of this team.
    I think this is our team for the playoffs, and I think this team will go pretty far, and no doubt it will be fun to watch, no matter what the final outcome.
    and as Kobe said recently, this team is built for a long run, (this year, and the next, and the next…)
    so sit back and enjoy the ride!

  46. Funny: I’m not even sad about the Bynum news. Of course I’d love to see the young dude back, but I love the chemistry that LO and Pau are bringing and I’d hate to mess that up.

    The way I see it, if ‘Drew returns, it’s a nice bonus and another long, athletic big for the already imposing lineup. If he doesn’t, no big deal, let’s see what we can do with this group.

  47. Any thoughts on whether that was a foul by Scola on Kirilenko toward the end of that game with Utah up by three? T-Mac passes up the shot (of course) to Bobby Jackson who comes up with the huge trey, but it gets waved off because of a clear-out by Scola.

    Henry Abbott thinks it was a foul by Scola, but on the replay, I have to disagree. To me it looks like Kirilenko hooked Scola’s right arm and pushed himself out of bounds with Scola’s hand.

  48. HI, nomuskles, I’m with you 100%. As far as I can see (which isn’t very far), there are seven very good teams that could beat the Lakers–and we’ve managed to win one at home against Denver so far.

    Craig’s worried about the Jazz, others are worried about Phoenix–or San Antonio–or Dallas–or New Orleans. Some only want to think about slowing down the Celtics. I hear, but I don’t see.

    If we manage to survive this first challenge, I’ll think seriously about the next. It will be interesting to see what challenges those Nuggs have in store for us tomorrow.

    I’m absolutely certain that we don’t have to worry about the Warriors!

  49. I think this group could look really good in wins (the ride now is pretty amazing) but one bad loss could make you think twice about not having Drew back. But having to choose between a playoff run this year and a fully healed Drew next year with even more experience makes our Lakers very scary. As is, our trio of Kobe, Pau and Lamar are very well respected league-wide. The only suspect is our defense and for that I’d really want Trevor back to guard the Nashes and CP3s and Derons.

  50. New game 2 preview post up (linking to the JonesontheNBA post, among other things). The plan is to leave that post up until late tomorrow afternoon, when the game chat post goes up.