Game 2 Thoughts

Kurt —  April 24, 2008

It bothered me in game one when Kobe took the Lakers out of what was working. In game two, he was working.

In the first quarter he took the ball to the basket — of his 10 shots in the quarter 4 were dunks or layups. That freed up his midrange game, five more shots were in the midrange. There was just one three attempted. I was worried that he would take on the challenge of Kenyon Martin by becoming “pull-up jumper Kobe,” but he went to the rack.

Then, when the Nuggets started to adjust to what he was doing, Kobe picked up 10 dimes in the last three quarters (he had none in the first). Eight of those came in the second half. The Nuggets really don’t have an answer. I think KD at Ball Don’t Lie summed it up well (as he always does):

Kobe Bryant (49 points, ten assists) is one of the best shooting guards to ever play this game.

Kobe Bryant was guarded, mostly, by a pair of power forwards who couldn’t keep up with most of this league’s small forwards. If you can’t follow Ryan Bowen around the pine, why should you have to guard Kobe Bryant? George? Kenyon and Eduardo want a word. And they want to move back to Ronny Turiaf, if at all possible.

Other thoughts:

• Game two looked a lot like game one on some key levels. First, the Nuggets offensive rating for the game was 109.2 (points per 100 possessions), not much different than the 110.7 they had in game one. The Lakers defense continues to keep the Nuggets just below their season average (112.1).

And, as is obvious without the numbers, the Nuggets don’t have any defensive answer to the Lakers. LA had an offensive rating of 124.5, pretty much identical to the 124.3 from game one. The Lakers season average was 114.9 and the Suns led the entire NBA at 115.8.

• The good news, 98 possessions in game two, five slower than game one. A few less would be great but the Lakers are better off with it under 100.

• Good note on Carmelo from Tony Starks in the comments:

Melo has gotten no calls these first 2 games. With that said, though, melo-melo man is a black hole. my gosh. mr. bridges says he only has 3 moves on the block. I’m sure 1 of them is definitely not passing. he must’ve got the ball at least 10 times on the block/15 ft. out (where he likes it).

3 times (at most) he passed the ball (reluctantly – 1 for a turnover, 1 for a made AI 3, and one for an AI miss). The other 9-10 times, he’s looking to get up his own shot. I’ve seen him and Kleiza pass the ball to each other like 3 times all series. Sad.

Reed added this note along the same lines:

Iverson and Melo are obviously talented and are going to put up gaudy scoring numbers, but you get the feeling they are incapable of combining to shoot better than 45%. With Denver having no one on their team that is going to get a lot of easy, efficient points inside, all of that perimeter scoring isn’t going to avail much. On the flip side, Kobe also usually shoots 45%, but he mixes it with Pau and Odom’s 55%+ shooting and great playmaking.

• When the Lakers attacked the Nuggets zone inside out (via Kobe penetration or passes into Pau) they got good looks, even the kick-out threes were very open ones. When they just went around the perimeter the looks were poor. Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere…..

• The Nuggets aren’t getting the calls? It’s “5 on 8” to quote Mr. Smith. Really? As J.D. Hastings pointed out in the comments, the Nuggets have shot more free throws than the Lakers in both games — 17 more over both games. While that is not the ultimate test of quality officiating, it’s a sign things may be more fair than the Nuggets realize. The Nuggets are just a little desperate. And letting the officials get into their heads.

80 responses to Game 2 Thoughts

  1. This Little Pinky April 24, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Kurt – Is the elephant still in the room?

  2. Sorry guys, but I’m going bullet style with a few points…

    *I’m not sure if this can be fixed with coaching but mentally, Denver is a mess. Technicals. Dumb fouls when being baited. And the worst part is that they were in the game! They had it down to 5, then they just implode. Is it really Coby’s Dad’s fault that these guys get caught up in this kind of stuff?

    *JR Smith has so much talent, it’s really sad that he is such a petulant child on the court. On one hand, he’s making change of direction moves, raining jumpers, and finishing the ball like an all-star shooting guard. Then, on the other hand, he’s alone on defense against Gasol on the break, he clubs Pau in the chest when he goes for the ball, and then has the audacity to jump up and down and act like he didn’t do anything. That’s a foul that almost every player in the league takes on purpose in the playoffs. But for Smith, he’s arguing like he didn’t do a thing. He even pulled this act on a baseline call when the foul wasn’t even on him! Way to earn respect from the refs there JR….almost get a “T” on a call that you thought was on you, but wasn’t. Jeez.

    *I liked the adjustments that Kobe made. I wanted him to just make his move quickly…and he did. Quick, rhythm jumpers. Jab steps and strong drives to the bucket. Quick and smart. He made some great points in his interviews too. He talked about (after Gasol’s big night in Game 1) how he wanted to give Denver more to worry about. How he wanted to show them that he could score too. How he wanted to make them have to pay attention to him so it would open things back up for the rest of the guys. And that was exactly how the game played out. I’ll take 20 in the first and 19 in the 4th with 10 dimes in between every day of the playoffs, thanks. This guy is just a great player. Glad he’s on our side.

    *I said it after Game 1, too…but, LUUUUUUUKE!!! Funny, I don’t see him getting trashed on the boards any more.

  3. May they have continued cause to hold their peace.

    I do see that Luke looks physically lighter.

    He seemed to still be retaining some lbs.
    while recovering from the injury but they’ve
    dropped away.

    Perhaps that lack of fitness
    affected his timing and reaction,
    just as the time off during from the AllStar break
    seemed to be of benefit to Lamar’s mental fitness,
    Pau’s addition to the squad notwithstanding.

    Looks like Devean George ( pardon )
    also was motivated to lean up,
    and he seems to have been getting more minutes
    on the floor the latter part of the season.
    Perhaps too late for the Mavs,
    but its good to see even ex-Lakers show that discipline.

    Except for Magic ( go figure )
    anybody notice how trim the vets look?
    Kareem, Worthy, Fox, Coop, Norm, Byron,
    Eddie Jordan and Riley, even. AC looked a little frail
    in that shot I saw on Prime Ticket but it was nice
    to see him nonetheless.

    – 5 –

  4. Can’t see how officiating is the problem when there are double digit differences in scores. It could certainly be a part of the problem, but if you’re getting beat by double digits, there’s more to it than just officiating…

    and that KD piece was great. I was wondering why I liked Kobe, considering he’s not a likable ‘person,’ but then i guess it’s just like KD said… his professional attitude towards the game, the respect, the fire… that’s how players can be role models. by showing dedication to their craft, competing everyday, and like Rocky Balboa, getting up again when the entire world wants you to stay down…

  5. Is anyone else concerned about Fisher? He hasn’t seemed quite right in this series. And I’m mostly talking about his D. His offense usually comes every third or fourth game, so I’m not too concerned with his points.

  6. If Kobe would make up his mind to play like that all the time, and the team and coaching staff could plan on it and plan for it, the Lakers would be close to unstoppable. Even without Andrew Bynum.

  7. 5) Rob L,
    “And I’m mostly talking about his D.”

    He has a torn tendon, and is trying to cover AI.

  8. “the Nuggets have shot more free throws than the Lakers in both games”

    And that’s taking the technicals into consideration!

  9. The Dude Abides April 24, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    #3, I would imagine that there are going to be some side effects from the dozens of daily pills Magic has to take. He also might be on steroids in order to combat wasting syndrome. Before the really effective anti-retroviral regimen came into play in the late 1990s, heavy courses of anabolic steroids kept a lot of HIV+ people alive. It was cutting edge from about 1990 to 1995, and still probably helps a lot.

  10. I actually feel for the nuggets…so much talent…so poorly assembled. Unless they can some how play some decent ball in Denver I really think that this team is going to have be blown up.

    Melo can’t be moved…so it’s got to be AI and/or Camby…but those players are so silky…there’s no way to they can get even 50 cents on the dollar for those wily vets.

    Maybe, just maybe (scared to say even think this) Larry Brown is the perfect guy for this job…someone’s got to teach Melo how to play a little d…AI’s never going to stop gambling…but he’s not strong enough to bang anyways…might as well get some swipes. Melo’s got no excuse though…he’s strong, fast, has enough scoring support that he doesn’t need to ‘save his energy’ by playing no d…how can he not even make life difficult for gasol? Thibodeau?…he might be the answer…time to stop rambling…it’s just a shame that so much talent is getting wasted…I love my lakers, but it hurts seeing AI on the court with that team…he should be battling for a title (and he is battling…did you see him dive for the ball like a third-world olympian on that play that got fish perturbed?)…just get him a coach….that clip of G-Karl banging with his boys in the locker room is all you need to see…ship him out….he should be coaching (community) college ball anyways…I bet AI’d take larry ‘vagabond’ brown back in a heartbeat…

  11. exhelodrvr-I know Fish is injured. But that’s kind of my point. Is anyone else concerned? Sure, AI’s a tough assignment, but it isn’t going to get any easier. Williams, then Paul.

  12. u mean Williams then Paul or Parker or Nash.

    Thanks for the first quote kurt. Ive never been prouder of my e-self.

  13. Mr Rob L,

    Fish is a (finely-tuned) tank…he’ll be a-ok…he knows that he’s still mamba’s goto and…dang…and, a lot of stuff… I bet that guy’s been grinding since he was in diapers…he was probably one of those babies that held his breath until he went ‘forum blue’ when he wanted something…and he wants another title…big time…I can’t think of a better pg for this team…really…I hope they retire his jersey one day…he deserves it as much as avery ‘where’s my little johnson?’ johnson (who also deserved it)…

  14. 3/10-I think AI is tougher player for Fish to cover than Paul and Williams because AI works one on one in space, whereas Fish will have help on the pick and roll from Lamar and Pau. That may help a little bit, but I do wish he was 100%. Pretty cool though that we are making a run with two gritty back-court vets, Kobe with a torn ligament in his finger and fish with a torn tendon in his foot. These guys know, now is the time to win, I know Phi has 14 up on the board, and I know those guys know what it will take.

  15. exhelodrvr,

    “If Kobe would make up his mind to play like that all the time…the Lakers would be close to unstoppable”?…my man, if Kobe played like that all the time they’d have to change the nba logo, rename the hall of fame, change the dimensions of the court, etc…then again…maybe you’re right…maybe he can…


    ok, you’re right…he is that good…already as good as mj ever was…(did I just say that?…yes I did)…and why is that 1st quarter fast-break not getting more air time?…he went over/around/through the defender all at once…I’d never seen that…maybe in space jam…maybe…but I doubt it…

  16. 12- Koko b. ware, I used to love watching you on Saturday mornings, your entrance to the ring was spectaular.

  17. …thank you kwame a…i really miss that parrot though…

  18. Home court does seem matters, look at raptors and wiwards, both blowout wins. Hopefully lakers will come back with a win from Denver.

  19. 12) koko.b.ware,

    His shots are not going to always be falling like they were last night, but his presence WILL always force the opponent to at least shade away from the other players a little. And as good a passer as he is, he could always be getting his teammates open and/or easy shots. With these teammates he has now …

  20. off topic, but seeing Arenas limp out again, i am 100% positive that i don’t want Bynum back in our lineup this season, even if we are playing the 7th game of the finals.

    Ariza, since it’s not a knee, i would like to see back as soon as he is useful, though.

    … still can’t stop worrying about Arenas… he did one of those nifty giveaways for his jerseys and signed shoe that cost me $25 plus shipping, and call me cheap, i’ve been a fan of his since 😉

  21. Great utah-houston game.

    I’ve found myself rooting for mcgrady and the rockets hard this series. T- Mac, I believe in you! Don’t ever give up!

  22. The Lakers are taking turns to light up the Nuggets. Don’t be suprised if Odom, Fisher, Radmonavic, and/or Walton go for 30+ points.

  23. Off topic:
    Here is an interesting article about how Nash and Paul are not reinventing the PG position or the MVP race.

  24. Carmelo is a scorer. He shoots the ball,rebounds misses so he can shoot some more,and that’s pretty much all he does or will do. That’s really not a problem,lots of players are that way. The problem is Denver hasn’t balanced him w/a strong defensive player who can guard the other team’s top gun. Pair him w/an Artest,Battier,Bell or Bowen and suddenly Denver looks a whole lot better defensively. Give them a true PG and they’re much better. But as pointed out elsewhere,we’re talking about a 50 win team as if they are putrid and need to be blown apart.
    (BTW,I did the pretend GM thing and there’s not a whole lotta teams Iverson makes sense for. We always talk about what his heart and scoring prowess,but can he make a team better? Of the Playoff teams you could maybe see him on Dallas or Phoenix-and that’s stretching it. The teams I could see him sorta fitting would be Clippers,Warriors or Knicks.)

    Re the Rockets/Jazz. It only took Scola 2 3/4 Playoff Games to figure out he needs to go strong to the basket. The Jazz are not nearly as good/tough as I thought they’d be. If Kobe takes the attitude that he’ll drive to pass,the Lakers will shred the Jazz D.(Gasol will prob get tired from dunking.) The open looks big men get near the basket is astonishing.

  25. Man, it sure is weird to read so many articles about Kobe “finally learning to play with his teammates”, the guy did play the facilitator role for 3 CHAMPIONSHIP teams.

  26. kwame a,
    Look, if the ‘talking heads’ don’t want to acknowledge a player’s skills, that part of the player’s game drops quickly off the normal fan’s brainwaves. If we can’t even remember that John Stockton averaged double digits in scoring and assists during his career, how do we expect people to remember little things — like Kobe’s previous 3 titles. Sure Shaq scored all the points and got all the assists and rebounds on that team; and the key other players were Fox and Horry, but, really, the ‘talking heads’ do know from whence they speak.

  27. This Little Pinky April 25, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Not much talk about how Farmar got schooled by Iverson in Game 2. Interesting that Fisher, who is much slower, seems to be much more effective in defending Iverson.

  28. 27- Fisher may be slower, but he is stronger than Jordan. He also is a respected vet, and may get away with a little more contact, allowing him to be more physical with AI. That and Jordan hasn’t been to stellar in defending attacking PG’s since after the all-star break.

  29. with the final scores being so high and denver getting 30 pt quarters, there is the impression that the defense is lacking. a couple of things to consider is: ai and melo are the #3 and #4 scorers in the league respectively (only behind kb24 and lebron). THEY ARE GOING TO GET THEIRS, they already have over an 82 game regular season. also, the lakeshow has gotten stops (or there have been empty nugget possessions) only to be trumped by an offensive rebound and subsequent 2nd chance points (34 offensive caroms in two games by the nuggets)……..i will live with 30 from ai and melo each, but i don’t want to see camby and kmart (also kleiza and smith in isolated events) getting put backs after a missed jumper to get theirs. in game 2 the first half should’ve been a high double digit lead, but the nuggets got 9 points off of 10 offensive rebounds………..a lot of ai’s points came off of pull up jumpers. fish and farmar are not going to be able to defend that aspect too much if he’s feeling it……..

  30. Jordan’s game is lacking 2 things: heft and experience. He is playing, effectively, his senior year in college. I do expect him to work the weights in the offseason to gain strength, particularly in his legs and butt. He will never be Devon Williams, but he doesn’t have to be Chris Paul size either. I am afraid we will just have to wait on his experience; he is getting quite a bit of it at the present time.

  31. namotuman,
    Good point about the scoring. We all seem to forget that 3 of the top 4 scorers in the league are in this series. Defense in this series may have to be measured differently.

  32. my big concern for Saturday’s game is motivation.
    we have 2 games in Denver, and I bet the team is thinking that if we get 1 out of 2, that’s a success, then come home and win it in game 5 at home. (plus don’t forget, Denver will bring everything, and more, 150% to game 3, they HAVE TO, or it’s totally over)
    if I was writing a script, I would lose game 3, and win game 4 which would give the Lakers the momentum to come home and win it on the home floor.

    or, a better script would be a 4 game sweep, let’s hope they are thinking that way too.

  33. I never saw a bigger bunch of babies than the Nuggets in these past two games. They crumble under the smallest amounts of pressure. I bet in the off-season (coming soon in two more games) they all make a pact to get “I hate refs and the Lakers” tattoos to match. Then they can have a nice group cry and a Technical Foul party where they take turns throwing each other out of the room. Sweet.

  34. 32 / Love the script…. just like to add one thing…Kobe accepting the MVP award.

  35. I fully believe we ought to aim high. Aim high for a championship. Aim high for a sweep this series. Any extra rest we can get while the rest of the West punishes each other the rest of the 1st round can only be a good thing, no?

  36. I guess Ariza is in for an MRI today and we could get an update. His return would be significant — would probably be our best defender against Iverson, Melo, Deron, Paul, Parker, Ginobili — any non-post player.

  37. Don’t know if you all saw this at the Fanhouse…

    “He was sitting on the sideline and we just got into a little conversation or something and he was going to tell me, you know, ‘Talk to me when you get a ring.’ I was like, I told that fool, ‘If I played with Magic and Worthy and Kareem I’d have a ring, too. So, you know, he’s a sucker in my book, but that’s a whole other story.”

    -Jerry Stackhouse on Byron Scott

    Stack needs to read up on NBA history. B Scott led the Lakers in scoring and steals in ’87-88, and the Lakers traded fan favorite Norm Nixon to get him. A move that many fans at the time weren’t very happy about.

    Gotta love the sub plots of the playoffs…

  38. Another point on defending Iverson. Iverson feels he can shoot over Farmar. He did that with a lot of success in game 2. However, in game 1, Farmar defended better against Iverson versus Fisher. Iverson got his points on screen and switches in the 2nd quarter (the lakers stood around in the paint and played crappy D).

    Iverson can be inconsistent with what type of game he brings. Score 1st mentality, pass well 1st, pass sloppy 1st, taking awful defensive chances, etc. I say force Iverson to be a scorer and make him and Melo settle for semi-open 20 footers.

  39. Stackhouse is just mad because his team was up fifteen points in the 4th quarter of Game 3 of the 2006 Finals. Poised to go up 3-0 in the series, they proceeded to lose that game and 8 of their next 10 playoff games. Stack…know your role.

  40. Great video showing Kobe’s 49 points:

  41. Byron Scott was better than Stack.

  42. Even if Trevor is ready for round 2 it’ll prob. only be in mop up time for a Lakers win 😉 Though they could def. use another perimeter stopper (for deron williams) with fish ailing and Kobe dominating on offense, given Luke’s recent success I don’t see him getting a whole lot of playing time during that series

  43. [edited]

    Hey, if you’re a player and some coach tells you, “Talk to me when you get a ring,” and you say nothing and back down, that’s on you, punk. Don’t bash Stackhouse just because Scott was a Laker, or that Stack had balls to comment on Scott when everyone else in the league is on his jock.

  44. Jimmy, I think I and everybody else on this board would appreciate that you don’t call people who comment on here names. If you disagree with somebody there are many civilized ways to state that without a rude comment. This is a very clean board with intelligent people that respect each other whether they agree or not.

    I am not a moderater or anything, but that is my humble opinion.

  45. Sixers up 14 and looking to be the best story (other than the Lakers) this playoffs. Fun young team, plays hard and has a couple key vets.

  46. This is an official notice to everybody that if the Pistons lose this game I will be lobbying hard to nickname them “The Narcoleptic Giant.”

    Whereas ordinary sleeping giants are something to avoid waking up, this team will inexplicably fall asleep even after they should have been fully wakened.

  47. It would be an incredible upset, but do we want this? If Detroit gets knocked out, Boston would have a clear path to the Finals. They’d show up rested and ready, and if we get there, we’d have just finished a (most likely) long series against the Spurs. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m actually rooting for the Pistons. Not only because I want them to tire the Celts, but because as a pure basketball fan, those two going at it is what we’ve been waiting for all year long.

  48. I have no problem with Stackhouse standing up for himself, or exchanging words with the opposing teams coach. Just pointing out the fact that his comments afterward were a little bit of revisionist history.

    Byron Scott grew up across the street from the Forum and snuck into Laker games as a kid. He grew up wanting to be a Laker, so he is, in a lot of ways, a quintessential Laker. A homeboy, if you will.

  49. Stackhouse has always been overrated, don’t worry about what he says this late in his career. He’s too old to be a brash youngster who could fire up a team by challenging the champions of times past. Byron Scott won with a great team, Stackhouse is losing with a good team (better before Kidd)…don’t be bitter, he should just shut up and try to make it right by beating the Hornets. Simple, right? If he wasn’t complaining about Byron Scott would he be worthy of any coverage whatsoever? Nope.

    And come one, the Sixers knocked another one over on the Pistons? This is crazy! After G1, I had the Pistons 4-1 and angry. Is Flip flippant? I’m from PA and like the fans, but I (to echo the thoughts above) don’t want the Celts to have a walk-on Finals just in case we D-up and get there. Put Dallas in the Eastern Conference next year and maybe Stackhouse will be relevant enough to be newsworthy….

  50. Regarding Spurs taking Hack-a-Shaq to a new level..
    I thought off the ball fouls were 2 free throws plus the ball back? Is that only in a certain time period of the game? (Maybe last 2 minutes of the half or 4th quarter?)

  51. “if the defensive team commits an off-the-ball foul within the last two minutes of the game, the offensive team would be allowed to keep possession of the ball after the awarding of either one or two free throws.”

    Another rule change caused by Wilt…

    ” Some of the funniest things I ever saw were players that used to chase [Wilt Chamberlain] like it was hide-and-seek. Wilt would run away from people, and the league changed the rule based on how silly that looked.” Pat Riley

  52. 51-I think its only last 2 minutes of the game.

  53. 50- I remember a story about Stack (UNC grad) playing a pick up game with THE UNC grad, MJ. Stack ran his mouth and as the story goes, MJ put it on him bad. Guess he doesn’t like to show respect to his elders.

  54. At what point do we start calling Detroit over-rated? At this point Detroit is looking alot like the recent Suns and Mavs. Good regular season teams when the Conf is relatively weak,but that’s about it. When faced by a team that’s not afraid of them they “go fishin'”.

  55. It looks like the Suns experiment has failed. They are getting killed on the same play over and over again…

  56. 55- I think we should call them the ,when movitated,s. As in, the Pistons are, when motivated, the best team in the league (Kelly Dwyer). But really, how surprised can you be when they lose to “worse” teams in the playoffs every year??

  57. 55 & 57 —
    The Pistons’ problem now is what it has always been – they lack an alpha dog player to drive the team and take over the game when needed. Larry Brown’s hard-driving coaching style compensated for that for a little while. Flip is way too easygoing; these guys need someone to push them.

    The Mavs are similar in that they lack the alpha dog guy. Dirk shows flashes of being that guy, but he can’t do it consistently. And Avery’s overcoaching and refusal to trust his players instills a lack of confidence in the players which has shown up in their playoff performances the last two years.

    The Suns are a different story. They were the second best team in the league for 2-3 years, but kept running into the best team in the league in the playoffs. But their management made several salary-dump trades of useful players, while wasting opportunities to improve their roster through the draft. And now it has caught up with them – they have no depth and felt compelled to make a panic trade at the deadline.

  58. The Suns are run and done. For good. It’s going to be interesting to see if they’ll get blown up or not. Parker lit them up; they just attacked the inside and dominated. Hack-a-Shaq in full effect.

    Man am I happy the Mavs finally pulled it out of the smoke and mirrors that is their “window”.

  59. 57,
    The “best team when motivated” excuse is getting pretty worn-out. What part of going for a title in the Playoffs is not motivating for them?
    If Malone hadn’t been injured the Lakers would prob have beaten Detroit. The Pacers were a superior team and had thrashed Detroit in Detroit when Ben Wallace started the “Brawl” and the result destroyed the Pacers. They barely got by a Miami team w/Shaq virtually immoble w/that thigh bruise.
    Not trying to denigrate what Detroit has done,but great teams don’t have their motivation questioned.

  60. Spurs are scary and evil. Scary in the sense that they have waken up and are all on the same page for the playoffs.

    Evil in the sense where, well everyone knows Shaq can’t defend the pick & roll that well but for the Spurs to isolate Shaq and attack him 75% of the time, I felt they were just showing up the Suns and going “your big cactus is just that: a cactus that stands there”. Especially when Tony Parker and Ginobili each took turns nailing a 3 when Shaq came out on them. Of course, that’s also bad coaching on part of D’antoni but seriously, the Spurs have destroyed the Suns.

    So what do you guys think? Have the window for the Suns closed with this inevitable series loss to the Spurs?

  61. ‘Or Maybe You’re Just Making Excuses’

    I better not hear any excuses from the Suns and/or Suns fans about them losing because of the Hack-A-Shaq.

    Seems like everything said before about the Suns is coming true. With a new gameplan and a lack of defensive presences, the team was bound to struggle. Add in the fact they still think they can come back when behind and ‘turn it on’ at any time, and that they are cocky as hell… they’re mentality isn’t going to do them any good.

    Were they expecting Nash to play defense all of the sudden?

  62. anoni,

    I think that’s where Marion could have helped them. If they traded Amare instead of Marion, their defense would still be there. They brought Shaq in for the sole purpose of guarding Duncan. Okay, then they forget about Manu and Parker. Marion could have guarded both alongside Raja Bell and at least prevented them from going off. But when they decided to keep Amare, they don’t have enough perimeter defenders to help out.

  63. 58 – Excellent post. I agree, we can’t lump all the disappointing teams together. It struck me today how, even though the Lakers (until recently) were never considered on even terms with Detroit, I could never see Kobe allowing an upset, the way the Pistons have lost to supposedly “lesser” three years in a row. They don’t have that one hombre who simply will not let them lose when the game is on the line. The Pistons are tough, so I never noticed it about them, but I’ve been saying this about the Mavs for years.

    It’s fun to see the Suns lose, but if I were Steve Kerr, D’Antoni would be gone. I read a great article (I think it might have been by Kelly Dwyer) last year, when the Suns were good, that illustrated how embarrassing Mike D’Antoni is. He throws childlike tantrums about every call. When your leader is that unpoised, you will never have a championship attitude in your locker room. Phil Jackson is the polar opposite; he exudes confidence in his players, and as a result, every single one of his teams is poised and disciplined.

    I would love to see Phil and Popovich in a chess match in the WCFinals. Don’t get me wrong, Pop is one of the best, but I’d take Phil and his mind games (and his X’s and O’s) any day.

  64. hert (62)

    But they didn’t really have a choice in trading Amare…trading him for anything less than Kevin Garnett would have been ridiculous, no matter how bad Amare is on the defensive end.

    I think their biggest mistake was letting go of Kurt Thomas, and also sacrificing two 1st round picks…heh, wouldn’t it have been funny if Kurt Thomas was the difference between a finals apperance and a 1st round exit?

    Oh yea, and what happened to the hype from Suns fans about Gordon Giricek’s importance?

    Here’s an interesting thought: If Jason Kidd and Steve Nash switched teams, would their teams benefit?

  65. Anoni, I agree that trading anything less than KG would have been bad. But they also had that opportunity too but they did not want to let go of Amare for KG. They were too concerned of the upside of Amare. Now that KG’s gone to Boston and did what he did there, Phoenix took a huge gamble for Shaq which was an all or nothing move.

    The let go of Kurt Thomas was just a head scratcher for me. They say that they needed Shaq to defend Duncan but Kurt Thomas was already that guy. They sent him away for what again?

    If Jason Kidd and Steve Nash switched teams? I don’t see any change. They would both be a liability on defense. And that’s the end of the court that wins championships.

    What’s left now is whether or not the Suns continue their style or will they dump D’antoni and look for a more championship type style. Because if they choose to adopt a new style, then they’re looking at a roster overhaul.

  66. Wow, the Spurs really put on a clinic tonight. Those pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops were ridiculously effective.

    In those situations, Nash can’t risk bellying-up to Parker at the cost of a foul here and there; the Suns have no true back-up pg and their offense sputters without him in the game.

    I don’t remember any effective trapping or double-switches to defend against it.

    I guess it was just wishful thinking on my part to believe *these* Spurs were not going to show up for the playoffs. Yikes.

  67. I think it is unfair to blame D’antoni for the Sun’s troubles. He isn’t the one who traded Thomas; he isn’t the one who traded Marion & a PG for Shaq; he isn’t the one who dumped all the draft picks because there would be too much money involved in signing the rookies. That falls on ownership and Steve Kerr. D’antoni was left with the problem of implementing his system with mismatched pieces and no depth.

    D’antoni is a one style coach, like Phil. It is just that his style has fewer variations. We can criticize his in-game coaching, but let’s not mistake the coaching for the management of the team.

  68. #68

    I hear you on personnel issues Craig W. I’m sure D’Antoni would love to have as good players as possible.

    But, I do think it’s his fault that the guys that he does have at his disposal aren’t utilized more. He continues to not develop guys and has not gotten the most out of players that do have *some* skill. For example, Skinner was a rotation player for them before the Shaq trade. Now he barely plays. In the few times I’ve seen DJ Strawberry, he has shown that he can defend the ball, at least. Could DJ be any worse on Parker than what is going on right now? D’Antoni seems allergic to some of his guys, especially the young ones. One of the reasons that D’Antoni has not even batted an eyelash when those draft picks were sold is that he likes to have veterans run his system because they make less mistakes. But look at Phil (who people have said is not the most pro-rookie/young player coach around) got production out of a young and green smush parker, has used farmar in ways that have been very successful, got good minutes from turiaf, and (going back some years) brought a rookie Luke Walton into the fold in the Finals and got production there, too. So, until D’Antoni figures out that he has an *NBA* roster, with capable pros who are there to help, and then puts those guys in positions to help the team, he’s going to fall short. Maybe I’m being a little harsh, and I do understand that he is only the head coach and not some sort of super czar of the Suns, but there is a point that his coaching deficiencies have hurt this team, in it’s current form.

  69. Sorry, D’antoni IS one of the biggest problems with that team. He is absolutely unable to change his tactics season to season and NO way to change series to series. He is a whiner and he is a very questionable in his attitude. The book that came out about the Suns was very informative in that regards. He should go to the East and coach a fast team. I doubt he will ever win a championship if he can’t progress or adapt to the circumstances. As for variations…there is no variation. Two years ago when we were up 3 to 1 I distinctly remember how lost he was in the press conference after talking about how he had no answer for what the Lakers were doing. If we hadn’t lost our heads (or just had two players not named Smush and Kwame) we would have taken that series. His players stepped up but I guarantee you there were no “coaching” changes to do change that series.

  70. @ 69 Nevermind that if all you do is throw the same 7 to 8 guys on the floor you basically eliminate all sorts of different lineups that you could throw at a team to befuddle or confuse them. That’s just basic mathematics.

  71. I am not saying that D’antoni is a great, or even above average, coach. I do recognize that he doesn’t develop players – a criticism that was leveled at Phil before 2006 – and I do think he is a whiner, like a number of other NBA coaches. What I am saying is that he has a style and the owner and GM got him players that didn’t fit that style and traded away those that did. If Mitch did that to Phil he would no longer be coaching the Lakers. D’antoni has been undermined by his organization – that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t go, just that he has little or no chance to succeed with the organizational changes that were made.

  72. (66) Two first round picks. Ha, one of them is an 09 or 010, can’t remember…but its value might skyrocket.

    Anybody see the Kenyon Martin video from Nuggets practice? Mouthing off isn’t going to do any good for the Nuggets…it shows how mentally weak they are. Along with JR Smith calling Kobe a showboat.

  73. any thoughts on game 3? I saw 2 playoff games yesterday that had me thinking. On the road, w/ a 2-0 series lead, we’re going to learn quite a bit about the lakers. I thin the start of the game is crucial. Are we going to start like the spurs did against the suns and come out aggresive? Or like the hornets against the mavs? Content w/ a 2-0 advantage, and lacking the fire that won the 1st 2 games at home.

  74. Craig, from 2006 until they got Kerr D’Antoni was GM as well as coach. Some of the trades occured on his watch, and like some have noted, he has never committed to using or developing a bench. That being said, you are right about his coaching style being undermined, they aren’t the same team.

  75. It’s not a coincedence Shaq is being swept out of 2 straight playoff series, the Spurs pretty much annihilated him on both ends of the court…I’m kind of surprised they played Hack-a-Shaq so much at the risk of him being pulled from the game…considering they were absolutely massacring him on Pick and Rolls with Parker. No matter how bad our P/R defense is I don’t think we’ve ever given up consistent 16 foot jumpers with 6 feet of space, Parker took about 10 of those in the 4th quarter alone

  76. So… D’Antoni was responsible for…

    – the hefty Diaw extension
    – Marcus Banks signing
    – Trade of Sergio Rodriguez for cash considerations

  77. First, game 3 preview post is up.

    As for D’Antoni, he was not a great GM but at least he was picking players that fit his system. What Kerr did was screw up a system that had made them a contender the last three years.

  78. (54) – We also must remember a young 16 year old Kobe Bryant being let into Sixers practice and taking Stackhouse to school during a one-on-one session. Apparently all the Sixers were clowning on Stack for running his mouth before and during the game, then losing pretty badly to a skinny high schooler. But yea, Stackhouse will always go down as a great scorer who never did enough to be a star in the league or take his team to the title. Byron Scott has had much more success as player and now as a coach. Lakers do not win that title against the Pistons without Scott.

    (77) D’Antoni, another example of why the GM/Coach dual role doesn’t work. I’d be peeved if i was D’Antoni and my ownership kept taking picks away from me for money though. I personally think D’Antoni is a pretty brilliant coach, but he needs a “Defensive Coordinator” to take his team to the next level. Always felt the same way about Don Nelson too.

  79. If Kerr stays, I wouldn’t be surprised if D’Antoni is fired and they make a run at Thibodeau (sp?)…