Lakers/Nuggets Game 4 Chat

Kurt —  April 28, 2008

At this point I think it’s okay for us fans do a little looking ahead (not the players — they need to keep their eyes on game 4). And do a little scoreboard watching. It almost certainly is Lakers/Utah in the next round, and we’ll get into the matchups more later this week. (Although, in the comments some of you seem dismissive of Utah — I think you underestimate how good D Williams is and, more importantly, how physical Boozer and Millsap are in the paint and how well AK-47 is playing right now. And how those things are matchup problems for LA. This is not Denver, it is a team to fear.)

But the things to focus on today are rest and recovery — any series against Utah is likely to start Sunday at the Staples Center (according to Ross Siler out of the Salt Lake Tribune). Whether the Lakers win tonight or at home Wednesday, they should get plenty of rest and time in the film room before game one (although a win today is better). However, tomorrow night Lakers fans should be Rockets fans — if Houston can extend the series one game Utah will have to play the Rockets Friday night then turn around and play the Lakers Sunday. That would be a nice advantage.

On to tonight’s matchup — Denver will come out hungry and energetic, I think early on we will see more fire out of them (especially considering what was said after the last game). Two thoughts on that: 1) A motivated Denver likely means AI and Carmelo trying to do more on their own on offense, which will fall apart over time (unless one has one of those unstoppable games); 2) Once the Lakers make a run they need to keep their foot on the gas — this Nugget team can be demoralized. Obviously.

Keys for the Lakers are not fuel Denver’s early fire with turnovers and a fast pace. Do what has worked all series. The Lakers must to continue to play smart basketball against Denver’s isolation offense (you can see a great explanation of what they are doing at The Xs and Os of Basketball blog).

I have stopped thinking too much about this series, to be honest. Yesterday I spent a great afternoon at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (where I was lucky enough to run into and talk with Jon of Dodger Thoughts — in front of the children’s stage, of course). The Lakers barely entered my mind, because there is nothing left to really worry about in this round.

There is nothing Denver can do to stop this train — yes for one night AI and Melo could get hot and overwhelm the Lakers. But you just know the series is over, and with the makeup of this current Denver team they are far more likely to roll over than rise up tonight. So long as the Lakers don’t give them any reason to believe.

159 responses to Lakers/Nuggets Game 4 Chat

  1. I watched most of the Utah-Houston game on Saturday and here are some thoughts:

    a) They have multiple players who could play Kobe reasonably well, based on how well they could guard McGrady. Millsap did a good job on McGrady in stages. They are one of the few teams with good defensive answers for Odom (Kirilenko) and Gasol (Boozer).

    b) They have a very deep bench. Other than a big-4 of Williams, Boozer, Okur, and Kirilenko, who match up well with Gasol, Odom, Kobe, and Fisher, they also have Millsap, Harpring, Price, Brewer, and Korver who were all effective against Houston.

    c) Utah will be very hard to defend because they have a very herky-jerky offense that will be hard to plan for. They don’t have any smooth scorers that you could try to disrupt. On the other hand, they didn’t strike me as a team that can do volume scoring no matter what the defense is like.

    I guess what I am saying is that any defense (good or bad) is likely to have only a small impact on how much they score. So the Lakers need to focus on the offensive side a little more in the next series.

  2. Unmentioned thus far is the solid job that DJ Mbenga has been doing. Given extra minutes due to Ronny’s “disease”, Mbenga has played solid defense and has even put in a hook or two.

    That said, it would be great to see Ronny get a good run tonight. The Utah’s bigs can pose a problem for our front court, especially Millsap and Fesenko (alot of buzz in Utah that Fesenko will be activated for the series vs the Lakers), and Ronny will be critical to counter their strength and activity.

    Will Vlade show up on offense tonight? Will Farmar continue to improve on defense? Will one of the Nuggets finally take a shot at Vujacic? Lets find out.

  3. Obviously I’m rooting for domination tonight, nothing would make me happier than a 4 game sweep. That said, I always get a little nervous when a team rolling like the Lake Show is right now gets a long break before the next series.

    Bill Bridges: When Sasha took that elbow to the neck I immediately thought, “Well that was bound to happen sooner or later,” though it turned out not to be as intentional as it seemed. Either way, Sasha’s got to get hit at some point, right? (The Machine!)

  4. IMO, the Nougats will come out with a lot of fire, thus them being more prone to commiting hard fouls technical fouls..e.g. lakers should avoid answering back at their actions and making “dumb” hard fouls/actions (think j-kidd; maybe he will get suspended) because it might affect us in the next series. That will show a lot of maturity – also as mentioned in the comments yesterday, the lakers, with a win, will be the only team in the NBA to sweep its first round opponent. not even c’s, not even the pistons. that would be amazing. god, i hope the c’s lose today.

  5. 3 – I agree…we all know that our biggest frustrations of the season for our team has been that they don’t win the games they should easily win…because they lack intensity from the beginning of the game. I just hope that we can weather the inital storm that the Nuggs may (or not). I thought when the Nuggs began with an easy dunk in game 3, we might have been in trouble. But our methodical running of our offense kept up with them in scoring and eventually brought the Nuggs back to the earth. It will take that kind of professionalism and cool execution of our offense and defensive game plan. If they do, they can blow them out again by 20+. If they just show up and nonchalantly play by jacking up 3s after 3s, they will lose tonight, not because dENVER came to play, but because we didn’t work hard enough. Even for a team that’s down and out like dENVER, there can be enough pride to fight back (though it’s highly unlikely). If Kobe can come out and either get hot from the start or get easy buckets for his teammates, we can finish the game in the first half of this game.

  6. We will rebuild him. We will make him stronger. He is the (could not find his salary in the short time I looked but it’s something in the 1-2 million dollar range) man.

  7. 4 – CT,
    Here are some good salary resources:

    Sasha is the 1.756 million dollar man.

  8. The Cavs beat writer suggested today that he was worried about the Wiz trying to hurt Lebron if it is clear they are getting eliminated. I worry the same way aboutt the Nuggets, they play reckless and physical and with there impending dismissal, I too worry about the safety of Laker players tonite.

  9. I agree with #1 in some aspect. Utah usually play their normal offensive sets with D. wiliams at the beginning of clock but if they are unable to create a shot out of that, they get to scramble mode of random cutting and slashing. They have a lot of athletic player who can slash and cut go to the ring. So our defense needs to be very solid and uptempo to counter that. Having Ariza would be really nice.
    Another thing about Utah is they are a very physical team and pound the board hard. I agree with Kurt that Utah matches very well with Lakers and boozer with his physical play can cause problems to lakers. Although i have noticed one thing about Utah is that they sometime give up too many fouls and especially boozer, if you attack him can get into early foul trouble. We need to attack him.
    On tonights game i would like to see our bench getting some more burn so they are ready against Utah. Utah has a deep bench so we will need our bench mob to come up big against them.

  10. Good dude, that Jeremy at Pickaxe. Today’s post titled “I Quit Too” he says, ” The Nuggets have one last chance this season to get back at the Utah Jazz. They can get swept and allow the Lakers as much rest as possible before they move on to face Utah in the semifinals.”

    Good one. Tough being a Nuggs blogger but then he could be mr 3 shades of blue…

    Also on , they were talking about setting up a site…

  11. 10. I will add, one of the things I learned in this last couple of weeks is just how good a blogger Jeremy is. That’s a quality site.

    4, 7: Maybe the best salary info is a brand new collection at Draft Express (the best of the draft sites):

  12. I’m not really sure what to think about Utah…I agree with Kurt that they are legit and not to be underestimated, but at the same time I feel strangely (perhaps misguidedly) confident about our chances against them.

    We’ve been saying all along that the teams the Lakers have the hardest time with are grind-it-out teams that play solid D (see: Spurs, Celtics). On the other hand, any team that tries to win by outscoring us is going to have a hard time doing so, given all the weapons we have at our disposal. This Jazz team is good, but it’s not your typical Jerry Sloan, defense-first squad. In fact, while they play at a slightly slower pace than the Lakers (93 pos/game vs. 96 pos/game), their point differential per 100 possessions is identical to that of the Lakers (the Lakers score one less point and give up one less point per 100 possessions).

    In any event, I think it’s going to be an extremely entertaining, high-scoring series. As some other folks have pointed out, the Jazz match up pretty well with us, and Phil and Jerry Sloan are (in my estimation) two of the finest coaches in the league. Lots of stuff to get excited about there.

  13. This Little Pinky April 28, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Seems to me that officiating is going to be the deciding factor if the Lakers meet Utah in the next round. How much clutching, grabbing, and flopping are the refs going to allow? What is going to fly? Nobody knows. Not even Bennett Salvatore knows.

  14. This Little Pinky April 28, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Oh, and continuing the thread on the last post, I was thinking that I’m the Jack Nicholson, not of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, or “The Shining”, but the guy who sits at Lakers games (the Forum Blue and Gold site), is big Lakers supporter, sits and watches most of the time, and once in a while says something to the refs (I comment once in a while), but doesn’t really affect the outcome of the game (my comments are pretty trivial).

  15. Just spotted this. I knew he takes the charge as well as anybody in the league, but didn’t know that Fish was the BEST. To think this position was occupied by Smush last year. No Smush, Cook, and Brown … still hard to believe some time.

  16. Let’s see what these Lakers are made of, eh? They absolutely have the ability to demoralize and crush the Nuggets today, but are they willing to do it? And I agree with all of you worrying about Denver being physical, just ’cause they know they’re losing. I hope we get our starters off the floor as soon as possible (not saying that I want our bench to get hit, but you know what I Mean).

    IF we play Utah, we need to win the series for Fisher.

    And to continue the interesting discussion in the previous thread about playoff positioning and the draft lottery, here’s a link from TrueHoop (posted April 16) — lots of good comments:

  17. The LA Times Laker Blog mentioned the potential for dirty play tonight as well. Looks like we’re all on somewhat the same page. Hope we’re overworrying….

  18. I really don’t enjoy reading John Hollinger. He bases his assumptions purely on stats, being only a numbers guy, and truly, truly, seems to hate our Lakers. He says Utah in 6 b/c they have a physical advantage and are better at the 1 (D-Will over D-Fish), 3 (AK47 over Vlad) and 4 (Booz over Odom). He says we only have advantage with Pau and Kobe. Yet, IMO, that advantage is much better than the slight advantages they have over us. And I’m glad our floor leader, D-Fish, knows the ins and outs of that Jazz team, similar to leaving John Gruden in NFL a few years back leaving Oakland for Tampa Bay and destroying them in the Super Bowl cuz he knew his former team too well. I have a feeling Fish will do that for us too.

  19. The Lakers need to lose this game for two reasons…

    1 – Keep in rythm. Nothing’s worse for a winning team than beeing left waiting for the next team.

    2 – Humility. They need to know they can lose any game, so that they keep going at full throttle.

    Of course Fish needs some rest and watching tape would be nice, but still, I think it’s better to lose a game earlier than later.

  20. 18. I realize Laker fans love to hate Hollinger, but two things: First, he watches more basketball than you do, and he played small college ball. He has his stats, but if you think that’s all he does you’re wrong. Second, I read what he said and he said this was as close to a 50-50 series as you could find, and the difference would be which would win out, the Laker quickness or Utah’s physical play. Um, what exactly is wrong with that? And the difference between D-Will and Fish is not slight, as much as I love Fish.

  21. my only question for tonite’s game is: pale ale or pilsner?

    #15-cool link…..looks like bogut went to the divac school for big man flopping………..

  22. 18. Oh, I do hate Hollinger… When you see his numbers, look where Shane Battier is… Yet, except for Kobe, Pau and Bynum, I would trade anyone in our current roster for him…

    Just an example that numbers matter somewhat, but only when comparing with what you actually see… (one of these days I’m doing an extensive post on LeBron as well, seriously, I am)

  23. All respect to Kurt, but I do get the sense that Hollinger has a true dislike for the Lakers and their superstar that he clothes in stats and numbers.

  24. I’m in the camp that’s not too worried about Utah. Now, to be clear, I don’t take them lightly, or underestimate them. I’m just very confident we can beat them.

    A lot of people look at Utah’s point differential and proclaim them as the best team in the West (cough Hollinger cough Chad Ford cough), but they ignore the Kobe Factor.

    When two relatively evenly-matched teams play in the playoffs, the outcome is usually determined by which team has the player who can impose his will on the game. That’s why in the last two decades the dominant teams have been the Bulls (who had MJ), the Rockets (Hakeem), the Lakers (Shaq-Kobe) and the Spurs (Duncan).

    That’s also why teams like the Kings of the early part of the decade and the Pistons of today continually fall short – they don’t have that one guy who can take over a game and will his team to victory.

    Witness Kobe hauling a mediocre 2006 Lakers team into the playoffs and almost singlehandedly willing them to a near-upset of the far superior Suns. Or look at what he did in games 1 & 2 against the Nuggets. He was having a terrible game one, then he scored 18 in the final 8 minutes to ice the victory. In game two he put up 19 in the final 7 minutes to seal the win.

    Who on Utah’s roster can do that? No one. The only guys in the league who are in Kobe’s class as a playoff killer are LeBron and Duncan. (And Chris Paul is currently submitting his application to join that group.)

    As has been mentioned numerous times, our achilles heal is matching up against teams that play lock-down D, because then the game will be decided by our own inconsistent D. The Jazz are not that team. They’re a tough, physical team and they’ll challenge us. I just don’t think they can beat a focused, determined Fisher & Kobe-led Lakers team.

  25. Re: Hollinger

    I have no problems with a quantitative model for performance measurement. But the Hollinger PER is a poor approximation. My problem is that the NBA doesn’t keep track of the right stats. Simple points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots and TS% doesn’t capture the nuances of the game.

    For instance, a blocked shot out of bounds early in the shot clock is actually no different than an offensive rebound. Also functionally speaking that blocked shot is no different than a deflected pass which the offensive team retains possession. Yet the blocked shot is a stat item and the deflected pass is a … nothing. (A deflected pass that leads to a change of possession is a… steal!). You can argue that a deflected pass is more disruptive to an offensive than a blocked shot because a recovered blocked shot often leads to an easy put back because the shotblocker is out of position.

    Even rebounds collected could be misleading. The best rebounder on a bad rebounding team can collect alot of boards even as his poor block outs give up alot of offensive boards. A rebounder on a bad shooting team automatically gets more offensive boards. (OF course you can intentionally inflate the boards a la Moses Malone)

    The hockey assist would reward the player that gets double teamed and passes out to a passer who create a wide open shot. (Kobe would do well here). As opposed to pure assists that inflates the stats of those who always have the ball.

    Factor in charges taken, hockey assists, deflected passes, % team boards on a +/- basis, true blocks (blocks late in the shot clock or that changes posession), opponent’s fouls generated, etc, etc ALL adjusted for pace.. THEN the quantitative models might be worth something.

    The NBA is very poor at recording and communicating data. In baseball, a player’s avg with a man in scoring position with 2 outs in a away night game is a normal stat to measure and communicate to the fans. In basketball we are pretty much stuck with points, rebounds, and assists.

    Even good sites like 82games and knickerblogger cannot dig into the real nuances of the games because the league doesn’t keep the stats!

    The NBA under estimates the intelligence of fans and does itself a disservice.

  26. I believe most people’s dislike for Hollingers stems from their own bias. Fans for all teams have some sort of grudge against each analyst because they have said something negative about their team at some points.

    Most fans tend to have an elevated opinion about their own team, and if an analyst doesn’t agree they are (insert team here) haters.

    I don’t always agree with Hollingers and others but I respect them and don’t think they hate any particular team.

  27. The thing is with Hollinger, everyone quotes him when he says what you like and thinks he’s a “hater” when he doesn’t. I guess that’s true of most media. I think people assign personality biases toward him that I don’t think exist. I’ll be the first to agree that PER is not perfect, but if you really read his writing he is more than a pure numbers guy.

    I’m not loving being the guy defending him, but this is they typical Lakers fan “Your with us totally or your against us” mentality, it seems to me.

  28. the only espn’ers that really have our backs are: adande and stein
    add hollinger….will plead lack of thoroughness, but at quick glance, how does utah end up higher than the lakeshow with less of a record and lower strength of schedule?

  29. Regarding Hollinger, there are two problems that I see.

    First, his PER stat is misnamed. PER does not, as it implies, measure a player’s efficiency. It measures a player’s OFFENSIVE efficiency. It should really be named OER. (And don’t talk about steals and blocks, those stats do not accurately reflect quality defense.)

    Second, I think there should be about a 50-50 balance in how much faith you place in stats versus watching the games. And I think Hollinger’s faith is more like 80-20 in favor of stats. His stats and others can be very valuable and informative when viewed in a larger context. But when you look solely at the stats to provide an understanding of the game, that’s when you go astray.

    I am by no means a Hollinger fan, but I read everything he writes and I’ve listened to him on several podcasts, and to be fair I have to admit that he often makes some very salient points. I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s often infuriating, but often illuminating.

  30. Re: Bill Bridges dislike for PER

    I agree with you about not having perfect stats, but as Kurt likes to say the PER gives the average person a quick snap shot of how effective a player is. It is by no means the final answer but a nice starting point.

    Obviously some players are favored more by the stat, but more informed fans can compensate for that. Obviously Bruce Bowen and Shane Battier offer more than their PER states, such as Carl Landry isn’t one of the best players in the league.

    If any stat gurus decide to record the stats you mentioned that will only enchance the usefulness of PER or other similar all in one stats.

    Even then Defense will never be accounted for correctly so alas no perfect stat will every be created. We will always be left with only starting point stats and then have to apply visual logic to the stats to make more accurate accessments.

  31. It seems hard to gauge how well this Laker team is playing in the relative chaos of this Nuggets team.

    Utah will battle as any Sloan team is prone to do, but the movement of pieces and the exploitation of match ups will be paramount in this next series.

    Do the Lakers have the patience on the offensive end to run the offense to fruition?

    Does our seeming lack of physicality catch up with us here?

    Is this commitment to defense bona fide or are the Nuggets making us look like world beaters with their lack of ball movement and predictability?

    A close out tonight does wonders for the continuing growth of this team’s confidence.

  32. 25 – Bill,
    Totally agree with you. The NBA does a terrible job with statistics. They’re living in the dark ages.

    26 – Kurt,
    I agree with you too. Overemotional fans read one sentence and go bananas, while ignoring everything else he’s written.

  33. It seems hard to gauge how well this Laker team is playing in the relative chaos of this Nuggets team.

    Well said Gatinho. Clearly they are playing well, but the next series will be a better test of how well. There the matchups are a lot closer than in this series, and Utah plays as a unit.

  34. I posted a link awhile back about the Rocket’s GM who is applying Billy ball to hoops. I’m not going to try to find the link but the article described the huge investment in technology necessary to capture, decompose and catalogue every single possession and the actions of every single player of every game. I’d like to see his stats.

  35. In response to anyone who thinks the Lakers are a superior team to the Jazz, I would first like to ask them how many Utah games they actually watched during the season.

    Do not be fooled by the LA Kool-Aid: Utah is scary, scary good.

    I have been terrified of Utah since they acquired Kyle Korver. Please keep in mind, that I am a die-hard Laker fan and I love this team as currently assembled. That being said, I think the Lakers lose that series in 6 games.

    1. A Utah-Lakers series would be extremely tough for LA because of the physicality of Harpring, Boozer, Deron Williams, Kirilenko, etc. will wear the Lakers down. WIthout Bynum, we will not win this series due to Pau’s inability to box-out someone like Boozer and will get owned on all of the pin-down screens and cutting action of the Jazz offense.

    2. Kobe will be worn down in this series. The Jazz have the length to stay with Kobe and at least make him shoot around 8 for 22 consistently. With Brewer and Kirilenko, these are two extremely long, quick guards that will make him miss shots and could turn him into a ball stopper just like what is happening to Melo and AI in this series.

    3. Lamar Odom will be eaten up in this series. I’m sorry, I just dont see him doing anything on Kirilenko or Harpring. Let alone LO traditionally disapearing in the playoffs (and dont get me started on his 4th quarter FT shooting).

    4. Our bench will be neutralized since the Jazz bench is at least on par with what the Bench mob has been providing. Has anyone been watching Ronnie Price lately? Millsap perhaps? And the aforementioned Kyle Korver who provides clutch free throw shooting and another guy that will kill the Lakers from 3 on rotations (along with Okur and D Will).

    5. Phil Jackson’s coaching advantage will be neutralized by Jerry Sloan.

    I hope to God I am wrong, but let’s face facts, this Jazz series will be brutal for Laker fans, and I do not like our chances.

  36. I don’t hate Hollinger, either. I think anyone who thinks he personally dislikes the Lakers, or gives them short shrift for non-basketball reasons, reveals more about themselves than about Hollinger. Maybe Hollinger does have a bias against some teams, but I haven’t seen it.

    That said, I think he does rely too much on statistics. No, Kurt, he doesn’t rely solely on them, but too often, his non-statistical reasoning seems adduced solely to back up the conclusions reached from the statistics. This isn’t just with the Lakers, incidentally–it’s across the board. Any good statistics geek explains why the statistics might be misleading, whether they agree with the results or not. To me, it’s telling that Hollinger is more likely to explain why they might go wrong when they actually are wrong.

    There’s nothing at all wrong with relying on statistics for some things. As a method of determining, after the fact, why one team performed better than another, it’s quite useful. For more subjective matters such as which team or player is “better” than another, it’s more useful for generating heat than light. I’m sure ESPN has no problem with Hollinger generating a little heat.

    namotuman (28): My guess is that it’s the margin of victory in the last quarter of the season, which is a pretty impressive 10+ points per game. Hollinger’s power rankings (which are entirely automated, so there’s no direct hating here) weight recent performance more heavily, as it should. (Personally, I’d weight it with a decaying exponential, but this is a minor quibble.)

    Not really the responsibility of ESPN commentators to have our backs, anyway. 🙂

    Bill Bridges (25): Baseball is, in many ways, the ideal sport to capture statistics for. It is, in modeling jargon, a discrete event sport. There are very few direct player-to-player interactions; most significant interactions are mediated by the ball, meaning that the ball is a useful reference point for recording plays. If I write on my scorecard 8-4-6X-2X, I know who threw the ball where, and when the outs were recorded. In a real sense, baseball is statistics-friendly for the same reason that many non-fans consider it the most boring major North American sport.

    Basketball, it’s much harder to collect stats for. There are picks, posts, double teams, triple teams, cuts–all events that happen in great number and simultaneously, and which make it difficult to capture all that statistical information. It might be easier to program motion capture into some AI and have the computer analyze game tapes directly. Seriously, though, it’s a tough row to hoe.

    That’s not to say that basketball statistics couldn’t be improved considerably. Keeping direct record of major and minor possessions would be a start. So would distinguishing between live-ball and dead-ball turnovers, front-court and back-court turnovers, live-ball and dead-ball offensive rebounds, etc. But make no mistake, it would be a much harder task to gather enough statistics to recover a basketball game from those statistics than it would be in baseball.

  37. Looks like Isaiah hacked the server again. I guess he’s got a lot of time on his hands now.

  38. back to hollinger, are we not? it doesn’t matter how much ‘experience’ you have had playing ball if you have a distorted view to begin with.

    i like his ‘work’ which is everything he does BEFORE he adds his two cents. He likes going against the mainstream perception using his stats and is anxious to be recognized as somebody who ‘sees things differently.’ He is as much an attention seeker as any diva he tries to shoot down with his stats, and I really don’t find credibility in people who crave the spotlight rather than enhance fans’ understanding of the game.

    that said, i do agree with him that UTA will be a tough matchup, one that might to to UTA despite us having home-court (thank god we do). I can see his reasoning behind UTA in six, and i think that’s as reasonable as predicting LAL in six. I doubt the series will be decided in less than 5 (neither us or the utes have that kind of killer mentality).

  39. 36. I think it was Hollinger.

    Seriously, I’m sorry for the intermittent server issues. Apparently one of my plug-ins is messing with the database, whatever that means. It’s not good, but the tech guys are on it. It should be licked.

  40. Charter Cable out AGAIN in Malibu. Anybody have any links to watch the game tonight online? Charter Cable is the MOST ghetto cable company in the world. And that’s saying something.

  41. By the way, I have only caught bits and pieces of this series, but it looks like the vaunted Boston defense has some holes if your patient and have guys good off the dribble. Any thoughts from those who have seen more of this one?

  42. Warren Wee Lim April 28, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    This is not much of a game 4 chat as Denver will not put up much of a fight tonight (I hope).

    Utah is a team we beat 3x this year, with them beating us on a game without Boozer. Its still a toss-up but the Laker in me thinks highly of our team. With or without Drew and preferably with, this Utah team is a good test of character more than anything. DWill is the epitome of someone who gives us many problems and they have the kind of bench that could really disheart the faint-hearted Laker.

    Fish – Deron
    Kobe – Korver
    Radman – AK
    Odom – Boozer
    Gasol – Okur

    I think we will be seeing more of AK on Kobe defense. I think Utah likes the idea of putting a bigger and longer player on Kobe that is noted for D. I think Kobe will still destroy AK and whoever is assigned.

    Boozer will have his numbers. But it will be because the Lakers will be shutting down everyone else. Deron is still the engine and I do not mind him scoring 50 as long as everyone else is not involved. This is the Nash-like concept we tried to emphasize for the last 2 years against Phoenix.

    Fish will be running on emotions. Much like the last games, they were chanting against Fish in Utah and it backfired. I won’t even start why Mormon-Country needs to tone it down for their own good. When Kobe says its personal, it is.

    The Bench:
    Farmar – Hart/Price
    Sasha – Brewer
    Walton – Harpring
    Turiaf – Millsap
    Mbenga/Mihm – Collins

    Farmar and Sasha have the advantage – offensively. But defensively, Brewer and Hart has the advantage. Though it seems its pretty even, this is a match up on our favor.

    Luke on Harpring gives me relief. Harp is not the most athletic three there is and AK might be bothered by Luke’s size. I think Luke has transformed into a quasi-PF for this team that is playing the least athletic big man on the other squad’s roster.

    Finally, the bigs are a wash. Turiaf is clearly the more experienced and gritted player as DJ and Chris provide us with some “time-being” defense and rebounding. If Andrew and Trevor ever get back, it would be sickkker. Paul Millsap is no pushover but we will have to do a good job covering his cuts and falls. His body drags people down thus getting him the foul. Good honest D guys.

  43. Warren, in Utah Brewer is the starter and Kover comes off the bench. I think we can assume Utah will defend Kobe as it has done T-Mac, with Brewer much of the time and AK-47 the rest. Also, Walton on Harpring does not make me all that comfortable.

  44. Warren- I think Korver will be VERY limited against Kobe. As in I don’t think he’ll get much PT at all. Sloan simply won’t play him. He’ll only get in when Sascha is in. I could be wrong, and I hope I am, ’cause Kobe will have a field day against Korver.

  45. Kurt, I think that defense is what they did on Kobe in the last game they played against them also. That game I think also highlighted the difference of the team TMac plays with and the team Kobe plays with. It just seems like the last few weeks the Lakers are playing so cohesively, compared to TMac who is having to carry much more of the load due to injuries, etc.

    I think it will be a great series, but I also think that while they (Utah( have been able to get away with lots of pressure on TMac, the Lakers will be more apt to make them pay for any defensive mistakes much better than Houston.

  46. I’m in agreement with Brian Tung here. Hollinger has an air around his writings that is very confident (read: arrogant). Statistics is a precise exercise in guesswork. My mom designs statistical models for an HMO and I’ve never heard her use the same absolutist terms that Hollinger uses around his “analysis”. Where this really comes out is when his predictions prove incorrect. As Brian pointed out, that is when Hollinger pulls his signature back peddle, finding every excuse or justification to dismiss contradictions. Either way, without his statistics, he still has an interesting point of view. Except when it comes to Kobe; his article on CP3’s MVP candidacy was very selective in its use of statistics, ignoring certain stats which offered an alternative view. I don’t think his assertion (which he made at one point) that Kobe wasn’t even in the top three as an MVP candidate was obnoxious at least but really more dishonest than anything.

  47. If ur not watching the celtics hawks game you need to!

    wow… do u think gatorade will keep playing the KG commercial if the celts get kicked out?

  48. I am becoming a huge joe johnson fan…

    btw 47 was me.

  49. GO HAWKS!!!!

  50. Oh. My. Goodness.

    Celts-Hawks are now tied 2-2. I’m stunned.

    I have to say, though, that the struggles of the Pistons & Celtics gives me tremendous hope that if we do reach the Finals we’ll have a much better chance of winning than I thought two weeks ago. If the Spurs continue to play the way they have against Phoenix, they scare me more than anyone right now.

  51. What is up with the Celtics?

    I don’t like blaming people, but is Doc Rivers at fault? Remember the motivational techniques against the KNICKS? Is Mike Woodson outcoaching Doc Rivers?

    Maybe Thibodeau really deserves all the credit…

  52. God I love Reggie Miller, he just was talking about the Carmelo quitting comments and said, “It shows a lack of immaturity.” You just don’t get the double negatives enough anymore.

    Good Lakers start, just what we needed.

  53. Hollinger is the stats-obsessed guy who is necessary so the rest of us can use those stats discriminatingly, as tools in our toolbox which, presumably, includes other things.

  54. Lmao it looks like Reggie Miller heard the comments about his use of the word “garnished.” Just now he talked about the fact that Pau Gasol “garnished – er…garnered a lot of attention.” lol I got a kick out of that

  55. Good start from the Lakers, I like the match-up zone we threw out there. Seems to have confused Enver the first 6-8 minutes of the game.

    Our starting unit is playing real well right now, a lotta poise and that stems from the veteran backcourt

  56. I feel like the deciding factor in this series will be the fact that the Utah fans taunted Fisher.

    Kobe obviously doesn’t “like” very many people. He is a strange bird, but very loyal to Fish for some reason. You could tell in his post game interview (after they broke the Jazz’s Home Winning Streak) that he was actually very upset at the treatment that Fish received.

    Angry Kobe is the Jazz’s worst nightmare.

    Also, Josh Smith is officially ridiculous.

  57. NBA Fun Fact: JR Smith has never missed a shot. It’s just that every foul that causes the ball from not going in has gone uncalled.

  58. Well don’t worry, Celtics are still going to win the series. We’ll still get a Lakers/Celtics final 🙂

  59. I have to say that I don’t agree we will have as much trouble with Utah as everyone seems to think. DFish may not be as good as Deron, but I think people underestimate how much you can learn about a player having played on his team. Whilst it works both ways and I’m not expecting a big series from DFish, I don’t think Deron will be as effective as people think.

    Also Kobe at the 2 spot is a massive advantage and I don’t agree that AK47 has it over VRad for the simple fact that VRad pulls AK47 out of the paint where he does most of his damage. Thats just my take on it and I could well be wrong but I guess we’ll see in a few days…

  60. 56- How crazy was it to see Josh Smith outplay KG in crunch-time…two-straight games

  61. Wow, the Lakers are running a ton of that match-up zone, I would not be surprised if we are practicing.

  62. As a Laker fan, I instinctively hope Boston is destroyed. The sooner the better.

    Mbenga for president!

  63. 61. And there is a renewed interest in rebounding and play inside, which is clearly the coaching staff thinking ahead. At least I hope so.

    59. I hope you’re right, but I think you underestimate D-Will and that the physicality of Utah is a bigger issue without Bynum than people think.

  64. Denver has had a layup drill in the last couple of minutes…Where is the D?

  65. Does it seem like Phil was playing with the lineups a lot there in the 2nd?

  66. So, now that Paul Pierce came out, as everyone expected, and completely destroyed the Hawks with 18 points on 5-14 shooting, maybe someone can explain to me: why exactly was Horford’s taunt completely stupid (as the talking heads universally trumpeted)? I thought it was awesome. I wonder if the Celts will be this year’s dominant/flameout team like the Mavs, Pistons and Suns the past 3 years.

  67. Fun stuff over at the other bracket, with Boston losing two in a row. Would be all the more interesting if we get a sweep (the only one possible) here.

    I’m kinda worried about Lamar now. He hasn’t been quite the #3 we envisioned him to be of late, and I don’t see him becoming any more effective in the Utah series.

    This would be a blowout tho if Vlad made one or two of his 3’s…

  68. #65 i agree with you!! i saw that too. PJ played both fisher and farmar for some time. 2 pg’s and i dont think so this matchup will be used anywhere as they both are small and wont be used together against Utah in any case. We should not let denver sniff a chance to win, because they will come hard. We need to stop giving easy transition buckets.
    Vladi is having a really bad series offensively. He is struggling to hit his shots.

  69. The Dude Abides April 28, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    I think Mitch is not getting credit for another personnel move he made earlier this year–choosing Mbenga over Webber. DJ doesn’t look for his shot much, but he made one sick block (I believe on Nene), one sick rebound dunk (maybe was basket interference), and one clean block of a JR Smith dunk that was called a foul. DJ knows his role, and it’s the last line of defense.

  70. Once again, the Lakers need to start pulling away and take away any thought from the Nuggets that they can win this.

  71. credit the nuggs with this, their passing is better in this game than it has been all series. And they are pushing the ball better on misses.

  72. wow, what a bad quarter so far..

  73. Kobe Bryant is losing the game for us in the 3rd quarter.

  74. Gasol came out sluggish. Disrupted the offense. Plus the Lakers got rattled a bit by Denver’s energy. The energy got the crowd going and the crowd made the refs swallow their whistle on the Lakers end. Good practice for Utah.

  75. Denver actually passed the ball the the 3rd and we saw the result. Let’s see if they can actually do taht for two quarters.

    Also, Larry BRown is back coaching.

  76. Lakers only gave up 23 that quarter but their offense was terrible. Kobe especially. He’s 1-9 after starting 6-8, and has nearly evened his assists with his turnovers.

    Tighten it up!

  77. 73. fortunately Kobe is cancelled out by Carmelo.

  78. No ball movement. We had 8 assists the first quarter and 8 since. We aren’t punishing the small lineup.

  79. There wasn’t much movement off the ball either during the 3rd. No cuts, no slip screens or anything that had become a staple of our offense.

  80. Post Walton up and work off of him.

  81. 77. haha good point, harold.

    But for all the talk of Kobe possessing that unique killer instinct, that 3rd quarter was a complete letdown for me. Who knows? Kobe might play terrific this 4th quarter and I’ll forever be afraid to make another post after that.

  82. Whew…never seen Bryant hacked so much with no calls. I mean….damn.

  83. Gasol should be just taking it to Najara, and he’s not. 6 of 12 shooting from him, but it seems much worse.

  84. So far this game, Denver has rebounded 37% of their misses. That and the Lakers defense in the paint in this series scares me a little for the next round. Which we may need one more game to reach.

  85. Well, I guess 2 great games in one night is too much to ask from TNT. Too bad all the excitement and great basketball was used up in the first game and all we’re left with is just sloppy playground basketball with questionable shot selection and stupid fouls.

  86. 6 minutes, tie game, let’s see if we can close this out

  87. Kobe seems to be ‘feeling’ these comments in cyberspace and somehow taking them ‘personally.’

  88. great battle between Smith and Bryant.
    Smith not backing down at all.

  89. Steal and a 3ball by Walton, that may be the decider.

  90. … or not.

    and i’m kinda sorry i made the Melo / Kobe remark, Melo seems to be getting just hot enough when Kobe is getting his touch back.

  91. This game is good for us. A nice tight game to get our juices flowing.

  92. If we win this game, we better give fisher some props for knocking the ball out of the hands of ‘Melo w/ 2″59 left.

  93. 2 stops and the game is over

  94. I want to see somebody else involved in the offense, not just Kobe. And as I write that, Walton with the three. Kobe keeps hitting but some other guys will get open looks like that.

  95. hot or not I’ll let Smith take those 28 footers all night.

  96. Bunch of thugs…

  97. oh no Lamar!!

  98. That Kobe. He’s pretty good.

  99. sometimes, late in the game, Kobe has to take the team on his back. this was one of those times. not a way to win every game, but ask Dallas, Detroit and other teams (even Boston) about having one guy who can defintley get buckets in crunch-time. In the playoffs it is invaluable.

  100. They’re too soft to be thugs… thuggettes, maybe.

    Well, i guess we’ll have all the time in the world to practice Free Throws. A more reasonable clip and this wouldn’t be as close.

  101. 97-I immediatley had T.Thomas Game 6 flashbacks

  102. @99 Yea…Boston is all about team but that didn’t help them at all tonight.

  103. What’s the playoff record for most offensive fouls by one team?

    Also: When a team is behind and tries to save time by letting the ball bounce down half the court before they pick it up, why not send that player’s man out to harass him just to take a few extra seconds off? If its just one guy you aren’t giving up numbers, so why not?

    Kobe’s good.

  104. there’s the ball movement.

  105. Listen to that crowd try and drown out that MVP chant.

  106. Hello, Second Round. Didn’t think we’d be hanging out this year..

  107. I told Kobe that his Shaquille O’Neal’s Free Throw Instructional Video was a bad investment.

    Get some rest, boys!

  108. Get ready for Sacramento? Kobe really must think he’s back in 2000-2002.

  109. This was probably the worst officiating I have seen in the playoffs this year. The refs were giving all the calls against the Lakers in the third and somehow to make up for it they gave several iffy calls in the 4th which favored the Lakers.

  110. Yes! (fist pump)

    I hope the Suns, Rockets, Mavs and Hawks take their series to 7 !

  111. Wow….what a night…Lakers sweep and the Celtics lost.

    Good tough win for the Lakers to prepare for the second round. It only gets harder from here. Kobe came through, even though he had a poor third.

    Lakers gotta make them FTs. It’s killing us. Those gimmes are crucial for advancing.

  112. Take out your brooms please. Thank you.

  113. A sweep, people, A SWEEP!

    I don’t care if it was the self-combusting nuggets or the Miami Heat, no sweeps anywhere else but we got one.

    Now they can all fly and watch the Utah-Houston game in person. That’d be the ultimate taunt, wouldn’t it? Having the other team wait and watch? Why can’t those things happen in the NBA?

  114. 109-I agree. That block by Camby on Pau late in the 4th looked like a foul to me…

    JR Smith is a really talented player. Six straight points late the 4th. No hesitation on that 3 way behind the line. Too bad it wasn’t enough to contain Kobe.

    *pumps fist*

  115. At least Denver showed up to play tonight. They played a good game (even if most of that was the Lakers play shoddy interior defense), and they gave their fans something to cheer for.

    That said, break out the brooms! =)

  116. Amazing, simply amazing..
    A first round sweep. Let’s go Lakers!!

  117. Kobe was killer down the stretch, minus the times he went to the free throw line.

    Round two, here we come.

  118. what a game! Nuggets finally put up a fight and the Lakers stayed with it and pulling out the victory. TMK. too much kobe. no live blog tonight. I just enjoyed the game. Hopefully we’ll start them up again in the next round! (i can barely remember what the second round feels like anymore)

  119. it’s not easy ballin’ with a broom in your hands but somebody had to do it

    🙂 to round 2!

  120. I don’t like games ending (particularly close out games) with several questionable calls ie Kobe’s reach in (not called) on Smith, Kenyon’s moving screen, Melo’s reach in on Kobe. I’d like not to give ammo to the crowd that thinks the league is in cahoots with the refs to give the Lakers the win.

  121. 107- 63% from the ft line…however, we swept a 50 win team, so HORRAYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  122. 118- I think there were questionable calls on both sides. In the third it seemed like the refs got caught up in the denver mo and missed quite a bit, that “block” on fisher, and so forth.

    As coaches always say, games aren’t decided by refs, and if they are, it’s your fault for putting the game in their hands.

  123. The Dude Abides April 28, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Craig Sager = douc**ebag
    He just told Carmelo Anthony, “You’re the first 50-win team to get swept out of the playoffs.” If I were Melo, I would have popped him in the mouth for that lie. Seriously, Sager is in idiot. I respect the way Denver came back and fought tonight. They played by far their best defensive game of the series, and didn’t make any cheap-shot fouls. I think what won the game for the Lakers was KMart’s insistence on committing stupid moving screens. I mean, he kept doing it. Dumb.

    It sure was an excellent effort by the Lake Show. Everyone bore down and played a solid game. They took Denver’s best punch in that third quarter (great D by Denver), and Kobe stuck the knife in down the stretch. Also, solid play in the first four minutes of that last quarter by our bench. Kudos and congrats, they earned the #1 seed and earned their rest…the only team to sweep so far!

  124. chocomm,
    Time to call you about your Kobe comment in the 3rd. He does seem to save it sometimes for the last 5/6 minutes.

  125. How about the play of Mbenga? Bringing some energy off the bench, blocking shots, finishing around the rim….a much better and cheaper player than Kwame ever was.

  126. Mbenga may be playing for a backup role next year. If he can learn where he is supposed to be and how to think/and act pass first he could be an asset on the 2nd team. I bet he gets a heavy summer assignment from Phil.

    Karl will have to put on some weight and pick up his defense or he will be gone to a big guard rookie next year.

    The way Walton is playing in the playoffs reminds me of Horry – and he possibly insuring that Radman gets traded, if Mitch can pull it off.

  127. 124. Yep, that’s what’s great about the lakers, we have kobe bean bryant as the closer! Conrgrats to the team and off to the 2nd round!

  128. How soon will Ariza and Bynum (though not expectant anymore) be back? If the Jazz- Lakers series ends up as a cancel-each-other type of series, the Lakers will definitely need Ariza’s type at least at 75%percent. Having Bynum though would be a blast off the bench, imagine FINALLY the Lakers at such a crucial time in full-strength (not-so-much). One thing I am quite sure though, the Jazz or no team at all will be able to shut down Kobe for a series. That will stand and that will be the difference.

    I do hope the Lakers have more consistency on execution on both sides. They can be very explosive but there are some stretches like the third quarter when the Lakers can give a scare. That has to go if they are to be championship-caliber.

    I like the Lakers’ chances by the day. I don’t think even the Spurs can contain what the Lakers can potentially achieve. There’s so much spirit and with good ol Jackson discipline, it’s over. That’s why I want to see them at full strength.

    Should they lose a series, no big deal. The Lakers have 3-4 years with a window at it. Veterans and other great talents would sacrifice big bucks to play for the Lakers and its young core will continue to grow. A ring is still a ring. That makes me see beyond Xs and Os and appreciate sticking it up with the Lakers’ ups and downs and all the bashing in other forums. Go Lakers!

  129. It was ugly…but it was a win. (Or is it the other way around?)

    I can’t take too much satisfaction from the series win. The Nuggets were by far the weakest of the eight teams. Yes, they were a 50-win team, but these guys snapped like a Kit Kat bar under playoff pressure. We’re not going to get that kind of easy win in any of the three following rounds. (Well, I’d be glad to be proven wrong, but I’m not counting on it.)

  130. Great win.

    Looking ahead to Utah, I’m really not that worried. Everyone talks about how physical Utah is, but that’s a complete myth. The only reason Utah seems physical is because they go after offensive rebounds and hustle. Other than that, they lack everything else of a “physical” team, especially solid defense.

    Look at their starting 5:

    AK – Skinny as a pole and easily overpowered. Overrated defender in the mold of Camby. Over eager shot blocker, terrible on-ball/position defender. Compensates for his poor lateral speed with length and going for blocks. Very limited offensively. Scores mostly in transition off easy dunks or when the team falls asleep on him in the halfcourt. Walton should be fine against him. So long as he doesn’t fall asleep on defense, AK won’t be that big a factor.

    Okur – Poor man’s dirk, although better at rebounding in traffic. Mediocre post game, terrible on defense. Odom will easily handle him. Okur isn’t good enough to punish Odom in the post and isn’t fast enough to use his perimeter game.

    Brewer – Quick, atheltic SG. Limited offensive tools, but makes it up with his defense. Not a physical presence. Will NOT bother Kobe/wear him down.

    Boozer – Strong, but undersized PF. Can physically overpower other PFs, but has trouble against legit 7 footers. In last year’s series against HOU, Boozer was able to go off because he was quicker than Yao. He scored most of his points by diving and ducking underneath/around Yao, but when he tried to overpower him the post, he simply wasn’t strong/tall enough. Gasol will handle him fine. Even though Gasol isn’t that strong, he’s too big and tall for Boozer to really muscle him out. Moreover, he’s fast enough to keep up with Boozer, so his offense will be limited. Mediocre to bad defender as well.

    Dwill – The only true legit physical presence. No need to go too far into this part. Excellent D and O. Will be biggest headache. Fisher has a lot of experience playing against him so we’ll see how that turns out. Also, Dwill isn’t blazingly fast so Fisher will have a better chance of keeping up and using his own strength to his advanage.

  131. Also, just to reiterate, Utah is a mediocre to bad defensive team. Throughout the entire regular season, they basically played like the Lakers and depended on outscoring the opponent with their efficient offense.

    The only reason people are even mentioning Utah’s defense is because they’ve been limiting the Rocket’s offense. But if you look @ Hou, other than T-Mac, no one else can really score. So they just keep throwing bodies @ T-Mac and when his shot doesn’t fall, Hou loses.

    But the Lakers are a different case. We absolutely PUNISH teams that try to double Kobe. Moreover, Kobe’s got a lot more heart than T-Mac. Physical play won’t slow him down and he’ll keep picking apart the Utah’s defense.

  132. “I can’t take too much satisfaction from the series win. The Nuggets were by far the weakest of the eight teams.”

    I don’t agree with that. Houston is by far the weakest team. And Dallas is about as weak as Denver also. That might sound strange, but Dallas isn’t an elite team anymore. They’re overall about as talented as Denver and they have the same mental toughness issues.

  133. There’s some good and some bad to take away from this game. The bad is that the Lakers sometimes looked uninterested out there, namely whenever they had a lead of 7+ points. There were some crazy sequences – the loose ball that half the Lakers fought over that led to Carmelo clanging an alley-oop so bad that it landed half a court away – that wouldn’t have happened with a bit more effort, I think. Nights like that against either the Jazz or the Rockets will probably result in a beat down.

    The good is that even with the Lakers not playing all that well – Kobe had SIX turnovers! – they still were able to beat the Nuggets’ best game effort of the series (Coach Karl said, “My wish would be that we could have had four games like tonight,” in reference to Denver’s play in Game 4). Also, Mbenga’s play was promising: he was one of the few high-effort Lakers, and his dunk off of the free throw miss was classic.

    Oh, one more bad – Turiaf’s antics on the sidelines. I appreciate the enthusiasm, but come on, man, that’s just too much. There’s a difference between showing support and excitement and trying to draw attention to yourself, and you should never be drawing attention to yourself if you’re on the bench.

    It’s funny, if someone had told me that one of the 1-8 series would be tied up 2-2 and one would be a sweep after four games, I would’ve thought the Lakers-Nuggets would be the former and the Celtics-Hawks would be the latter, not vice-versa.

  134. In an effort to peek ahead and get playoff perspective at the same time, I watched the Hornets sting those Mavs, and the Celts get intimidated by the Hawks (believe it or not). Looking at the Lakers in the harshest light, I can still imagine their coaches and fans saying, “. . . and you think YOU’VE got problems!”

    Yes, the Lakers play defense in spurts. Yes, Lamar reverts to being Lamar as we’ve known him for years-disappearing, making hopeless decisions, upchucking Oh! No! Dumb! threes at the worst possible times, making one of two free throws . . . . Yes, VladRad sometimes loses confidence in his 3 and intensity in his D. Yes, Sasha and Jordan sometimes take too many threes. Yes, Kobe sometimes departs from the team concept. Yes, Pau loses his composure and misses shots when favorite passing lanes are blocked. We could go on, but:

    We swept a team that had 50 wins during the regular season. All our peers have already lost. We have home court advantage at least until the NBA championship. Our players are reasonably healthy. Ariza is coming back. Mbenga is at least a cameo of what we expected from Andrew. Our team chemistry is self-evident and very strong.

    If the Jazz pay us a visit in LA next round, they better know how to play the Blues.

  135. More than the physical issue, which is not as big as you might think, what worries me is Sloan. Jerry Sloan’s offense is based on cuts and backdoor passes, with a lot of picks being set at mid-range. The thing is, this offense gets the defense “tired”. You must fight through picks on places you’re not supposed to and on blind spots, so you must spend more energy.

    If everyone is focused and collapses to the paint, those backdoors don’t mean anything… But has time progresses (and Korver is inserted in the lineup) we’ll see some passes from the inside to the outside and then… then it starts to rain (if they’re hitting, of course).

    So, to stop Utah’s offense, I would give the following instructions…

    a) The Utah’s perimeter shooter is not to be left alone… No help from that defender.
    b) Punish the guy setting the picks. The offense is built to punish the defense and get them tired. Just hit them back (you know what I’m talking about… when you turn around your hand may “collide” with the other guy’s stomach… when you can run around the pick you elbow may “accidentally” hit another guy’s ribs… or may not even “see” the pick from your blind spot and run almost at full charge against the pick)

    Utah may play physical basketball, but except for Deron and Boozer, individually, they’re not that strong.

    They play a man’s game, so punish them back for doing it on offense. It’s not nice, but sometimes we must use our “darkside” to win a couple of games.

    NOTE: I’m not saying we get someone injured nor hurt. I’m saying that having hands and elbows hitting you troughout a game will diminish you physically. Those who played pro-ball know what I’m talking about… Those games that left your muscles sore even two days after, even though you didn’t run that much…

  136. Also, never give help from the strong side… Ever.

    See what Lebron did in Washington? He dribbled to the left and the help defender (Arenas?) was coming from the side he was dribbling to. He had a clear view of Delonte West all alone… easy pass. Let them penetrate some more and have a big block his path from the weak side… Much harder to kick out the ball.

  137. Weird game. Spotty officiating, both ways. Ok, horrible officiating both ways. It was strangely exciting, tho.

    Kenyon Martin plays some of the best D I’ve ever seen on Kobe, but Kobe still took over. Kenyon played physical all series, and I got on Kobe for not taking it to the rack enough on him, but, yeah, who is I. Kobe knows exactly what he’s doing. He deserves a lot of credit for tonight. He wouldn’t let us lose.

    Credit comment #24 by Matt too. Please read. I agree with every single part of this comment:

    “I’m in the camp that’s not too worried about Utah. Now, to be clear, I don’t take them lightly, or underestimate them. I’m just very confident we can beat them.

    A lot of people look at Utah’s point differential and proclaim them as the best team in the West (cough Hollinger cough Chad Ford cough), but they ignore the Kobe Factor.

    When two relatively evenly-matched teams play in the playoffs, the outcome is usually determined by which team has the player who can impose his will on the game. That’s why in the last two decades the dominant teams have been the Bulls (who had MJ), the Rockets (Hakeem), the Lakers (Shaq-Kobe) and the Spurs (Duncan).

    That’s also why teams like the Kings of the early part of the decade and the Pistons of today continually fall short – they don’t have that one guy who can take over a game and will his team to victory.

    Witness Kobe hauling a mediocre 2006 Lakers team into the playoffs and almost singlehandedly willing them to a near-upset of the far superior Suns. Or look at what he did in games 1 & 2 against the Nuggets. He was having a terrible game one, then he scored 18 in the final 8 minutes to ice the victory. In game two he put up 19 in the final 7 minutes to seal the win.

    Who on Utah’s roster can do that? No one. The only guys in the league who are in Kobe’s class as a playoff killer are LeBron and Duncan. (And Chris Paul is currently submitting his application to join that group.)

    As has been mentioned numerous times, our achilles heal is matching up against teams that play lock-down D, because then the game will be decided by our own inconsistent D. The Jazz are not that team. They’re a tough, physical team and they’ll challenge us. I just don’t think they can beat a focused, determined Fisher & Kobe-led Lakers team.”

    Well said. This came before Kobe took over Game 4 tonight, but none of us are surprised. What’s amazing is that Enver threw the kitchen sink at Kobe (6 diff. guys guarded him), their efense was geared to stop him, but he still took over when they knew he wanted to take over. Utah can’t stop him in a similar situation. San Antonio can. Don’t know if they will, but they can.

    Similar situation with what is prob gonna be Boston-Cleveland in the 2nd round… if Boston can’t stop Joe Johnson from getting into the paint, how they goin to stop Bron-Bron? Too bad the rest of Bron’s team is mediocre…

    As has been said before, we’re going to find out a lot about Kobe’s legacy in the next few weeks. We shouldn’t be able to beat a team like San Antonio or Boston in a 7 game series with the D we’re playing (see tonight), but we have a legitimate chance because we have Mamba.

  138. I think all this talk about underestimating Utah or whatever is kind of blown out of proportion, Personally I am glad to be facing Utah not so much because they will be an easy match up but REALLY what team left would be an easy match up for us??

    If the Spurs Hornets and Jazz all win I think we should all be really happy to face the Jazz in round 2. As good as Williams – Boozer – AK47 are I am would be more scared of Paul – Chandler – West or Manu – Tony – Timmy.

    Nothing is going to be easy from here on out, but I think Utah is beatable at home and on the road as a injured Houston team has proven already in this series. I think the Houston really had no chance here as the Jazz were hot going in to the playoffs and Houston had You Ming and Alson out, McGrady is batlling injuries.

    Either way Utah should be interesting but I do believe will should win this series.

  139. 130- Great points Jack. I agree with you about Utah’s defense, although it has been improving. However, no team can beat the Lakers outscoring them, that is why I was happy we drew Denver. If that is Utah’s strategy, they will be sorely surprised.

  140. Warren Wee Lim April 29, 2008 at 7:20 am

    I agree with Jack on the Utah D. They are no longer the Stockton-Malone-Russell-Hornacek team. I believe offense is their biggest tool and we love that don’t we? We love em offensive teams and we somehow want to avoid those tough defensive ones.

    Ironic how I would want to face Utah at full strength rather than Houston at full. But I will be cheering for HOU tomorrow just to stretch the Jazz to a 6th, possibly 7th game.

  141. Warren Wee Lim April 29, 2008 at 7:25 am

    A little late but Congratulations Laker Fans all throughout the world. Our team has made it past round 1 with flying colors and gets the NBA’s only sweep. Impressive showing against a team we bullied all throughout the year, but a good one nevertheless. 50 wins is not a fluke, our Lakers are not a fluke.

    Lets toast and drink to this… tomorrow is another day. Utah could be in the horizon and we are giddy as ever. I like the match up from the competition standpoint. Utah will not shy away from the limelight. They made it through to the WCF last year, they won’t this year. Ha!

    Hick! Hick!

  142. And the Hawks and Celtics are 2-2.

    Feels great to be a Laker fan again.

  143. i think a better adjective for utah’s d is HARDNOSED. just take a look at the head coach. he infuses his teams with his penchant for the tough play that can coincidentally be physical. although this version has a bit more athletic tinge to it with dwill, boozer, and brewer……it will be a great series to watch, unlike the now swept nuggets, utah actually has an offensive system that they execute very well………….

  144. 135- It will be a very physical series and unfortunatley I think the refs will play a big role. 3 key places I see this happening

    Pau on Boozer: If we stick Odom on the 3pt happy Okur, we will have Pau on Boozer and the Jazz would love to get Pau in early foul trouble.

    Utah on Kobe: The refs will be key in determining just how physical Utah is with Kobe. They have allowed Utah to play tough with T-Mac.

    D.Fish on D.Will: Fish will need to be able to play physical with D.Will to match-up with him. Also, I think the primary other cover for D.Will needs to be Sasha (or Ariza). D.Will punishes oppossing PG’s with his physicality, the refs will defitnley have to find boudaries for how physical the series will be.

  145. jack,
    I think you underrate AK. He was a bigger part of their offense, but Sloan pushed him back to the 3 where some of his talents are not as visible – think Odom next year.

    Odom better not leave Okur to rebound or he will bury him with the 3.

    Brewer is young and very, very athletic – part of a tag team.

    Boozer – remember Unseld? They said he was too small to play center – heck, remember the round mound of rebound at PF? I remember when we could have had Boozer a couple of years ago, but though he was too short.

    The last thing is that this team is really deep – an answer to our bench.

    I don’t say we won’t beat these guys, but please don’t take them lightly. As a combo they may match up with us better than any other team in the NBA and the playoffs is all about matchups – look at Boston/Atlanta.

  146. hey people, I predicted this, if you go back about 300 comments, I think after we won game three and the Celt’s lost to the Hawks, and the surprising Pistons/76er’s, I predicted that we would be the only team to sweep in the first round!

  147. the physicality is subjective here. more physical than the nuggets, yes, utah will d up with less emphasis on gambling in passing lanes… physical as the stockton-malone teams, nah. the lakeshow will be fine. the coaching staff, kb24, fish, and even walton in a limited capacity, have dealt with series changes in play styles………”very physical” conjurs up visions of late ’80s pistons………

  148. 129 – Aw man, Jack. Good analysis, well-thought out. But, i can’t fully agree with you here.

    Utah plays solid defense, the kind of defense that can take us out of our rhythm, which is what playoff intensity is all about on the defensive end. If Utah loses, they would prefer it be because of Kobe having to be a one-man show.

    Utah/Houston/Boston/Detroit/San Antonio are the only teams remaining that can take the Lakers out of their very pass-friendly, carve-em-up, triangle offense. So playing Utah should frighten all Laker fans in that regard. Doesn’t mean we can’t beat them. But Utah will put up as good a fight as any team in these playoffs.

    And don’t think the Jazz can’t put up some points. AK-47 is a great passer that has come on of late. When he is playing well, the Jazz have a pretty versatile offense, not one to dismiss. Lakers also enjoy leaving the Korver’s/Stojakavic’s of the world open, that will have to cease in this series or we will be in some trouble.

    Gonna be a great series. So proud of this team for showing up in the first round with a real purpose and a killer instinct. Feels a lot like 2001 the way we played this round.

  149. In regards to the people not satisfied with the sweep of the nuggets.

    *Denver isn’t a good team
    Truth: Denver is a 50-win team

    *Denver is a combustible team
    Truth: That goes both ways, if Lakers gave them life they get super hot. Teams don’t score 168 points by accident

    *Denver worse team in playoffs
    Truth: Philly and Atlanta are definitely worse, then there is the argument that Houston depleted is worse as well. All those teams are giving their counter parts difficulty. Detriot and Celtics haven’t shown the playoff focus the Lakers have.

    The Lakers did a great thing by sweeping Denver. Don’t sell them short, it is never easy to sweep a team and crush a team into chaos. Let alone a 50-win team in a super tough conference.

    Lakers just did.

  150. Also about the horrible research jobs by sports analyst these days. The comment about Denver being the first team ever to be swept with a 50 win season is just another example.

    As noted by True Hoops Portland also got sweeped by the Lakers in 2000-01 by the Lakers.

    Also the most glaring reason people should have known was Pau Gasol had been swept every year, and he led his Memphis team to 50 wins in 03-04.

    You see this fake stats thrown out way to often these days and it is upsetting. When average fans have more NBA knowledge than people getting paid to have better knowledge something is wrong.

    Anyways, I am done ranting.

    Go Lakers!

    Lakers beat Utah in 7 tough games. (One blowout by each team)

  151. At least the Lakers got to sniff some road play off basketball last night. Phil did a good job of putting the young guys out there either without LO or KB.

    I see Utah trying a similar defensive strategy with AK47 as KMart on Kobe. Using his length and size to keep Kobe out of the paint, allowing Boozer to stick to Pau and muscle him out of the offense.

  152. Jack, I suggest you watch the Utah game tonight and see if you still think their physicality is a myth. Paul Bunyan is a myth, Utah’s style of play is not.

  153. I don’t understand how anyone can not be concerned about Utah. Because of the way we handled Denver? Denver did not play a team game. They did not play any defense. They played with little to no discipline the entire series (save game 4). So I hope no one is basing how we’ll do against Utah off how *well* we played against a team whos style of play was right in our wheelhouse…

    What we need to understand about Utah is 3 fold. They may not be a strong defensive team, but they are a physical team. They lead the league in fouls every year. The Lakers are going to have to play through that physicality and get used to not getting every call, especially when we play in Utah. Refs get intimidated by that crowd. Phil knows this too, he mentions it every year we go to Utah. Utah is also extremely talented on offense. They have a diverse attack with a lot of weapons that can hurt you. Williams, Boozer, Okur, AK47, Korver, Millsap, Harpring, Brewer….all these guys can get Utah buckets and do it in diverse enough ways that our defense will be tested. Utah is a disciplined team on offense and the run motion sets…so while we got used to playing pretty good defense against Denver’s Iso sets, we will have a significantly more difficult challenge putting the clamps on Utah’s attack. Also, have we really improved our P&R defense? We will find out this series. The P&R is the staple of the Utah offense and they can score off it in a variety of ways. Williams can shoot the J or drive the hole. Boozer can roll on a dive cut, pop out and shoot the midrange J, or slip the screen and either dive hard or stop short for a lane jumper. Basically, we are going to have our hands full.

    Have we tradtionally beaten teams that try to outscore us? Indeed we have. But this series is going to be much more difficult than the one we just played. We are going to be facing a team that matches up with us well and has a deep enough bench where we probably won’t have a decided advantage at any one position besides Kobe’s. Utah is not a team that we can take lightly, look past, or think is going to be any sort of easy out.

  154. Sager: “Kobe seems to be trying to get everyone involved tonight. Is that the game plan?”

    Jackson: “That’s always the game plan.”

  155. jack (132): Houston? Houston won in Utah, without Yao, and were within a T-Mac assist to Okur away from getting a chance to win Game 4. Houston at least plays some D. Houston at least has some camaraderie and didn’t fold like stale chocolate when they went down 2-0. I’m not sure Houston is even the second weakest team, because I agree with you about Dallas. I think that trade for Kidd was a poor idea, born of a desire to do something for the sake of doing something. I put Houston and Dallas together around second-weakest, both ahead of (behind?) Denver.

    Denver is a very talented collection of players (how about J.R. Smith, huh?), but either Karl can’t coach, or his players can’t listen, and no, those two aren’t the same thing. The result is a weak playoff team.

  156. I think UTA is a legitimate concern for the Lakers as they are definitely capable of beating the Lakers in 7 game series. However, the Lakers are the better team because they have more talent overall and have the best player in the game, both offensively and defensively. I truly think the series will be dictated by how we play, not how UTA plays. If we play good defense and patiently excute on offense, we WILL beat UTA. Nothing UTA does can pose a problem that we can’t solve. We have answer for all their attacks. It’s just a matter of having the right game plan. However, UTA cannot say the same thing. They have no answer for KB24. No one does right now, except for SA or BOS defense (though BOS was torched by Joe Johnson last night – which I think was more of a fluke). Kobe can be stopped if the defense keys on him, but with our supporting cast of Pau, LO, and Fish, we can hurt them if they focus on only Kobe. What I’m trying to say is that while we need to be cautious, our team just need to focus on doing things they do well and not worry about what UTA will be doing. We will dictate the matchups and we will win the series in 5 or 6 games.

    SA is a whole another matter though….

  157. New post up, where we can continue the Utah discussion.

  158. I concur that Utah is indeed physical but they do not have the “enforcer” type defenders that make me tremble. By all means I am not thinking little of Utah. As a matter of fact, I like them better than Houston because I believe that if we are to be champs, we should face the real competition and stop making excuses such as “wait till Drew is back” or “the refs ate their whistles”. In the end, its all about competition and this year, in the Utah series, we will see the Lakers show up or roll over.

    Utah runs the PNR to death. Something that has more to do with us rather than them. Many teams run this but the “under” man is not as big and as excellent as DWill. So this is a problem. We will need to address this or else Utah is going to the WCF for the second straight year.

    Guys, Utah is a type A team. Otherwise, why the heck are they in these playoffs (and the WCF last year) if they aren’t. However, to our delight, we are a type A+ team. Without Drew, we are a tad behind what we would like to be but as is, we are a better team and we have the home court. To say we will “cruise” against Utah is to be overly cocky and not optimistic. But again, as Emma inquires about, is it blind’s faith?

    The answer is no.

    Game 1/4 was at the start of the season at LA. Highlights include Andrew Bynum showing up for 15/9 off the bench. Kobe scored 33-5-3-3-2 with 5 TOs on 13/19 shooting. Boozer had 23/12 while Deron had 26/5 dimes. Lakers won by 10.

    Game 2/4 was at Salt Lake. Boozer and Okur are absent but Utah countered with AK47’s triple double of 20-11-11-6-4. Naturally, we won’t be seeing this from AK since Booze and Okur are expected to suit up. Deron was his usual monstrous self scoring 35pts on 14/24 clip. Kobe had 28-4-3 but the Lakers were outrebounded 48-34. Utah claims this by 24.

    Game 3/4 was played at Staples with the Lakers winning in 3 quarters. This was Phil Jackson’s milestone tying Red Auerbach’s win record. Kobe totaled 31-4-7 while resting the whole of the 4th quarter. The final score lead was 14pts but the Jazz outscored the Lakers 35-17 in the 4th. The winning margin was 32 at the end of the 3rd. Trevor Ariza was in this game and we held Deron Williams to only 6pts. Hmmmmm.

    Game 4/4 had plenty of meaning. Utah was white hot at home thus securing the playoff berth at 4th. But the Lakers had other plans other than extending their home win streak. Lakeshow beat this Utah team WITHOUT Drew, WITHOUT Trevor and WITHOUT Pau ON THE ROAD. Lamar Odom showcased this game with a 21-12-6 performance beside Kobe’s 27-8-7. Deron tallied 26-7-12 and Boozer had 23-15 in the losing effort.

    If you ask me, the Lakers consistently beat Utah convincingly this year, all 4 games without PAU, all but one win without Trevor and Drew. Kobe gets MVP-like numbers when playing against them with an average of 30-6-5 on these 4 games, having played only 15 quarters.

    The interesting fact is Jordan Farmar’s strong play against this team. He is averaging 15ppg against the Jazz.

  159. Kurt, would you suggest I change my name to Luke Warren Walton? 🙂