Breaking Down Game Two

Kurt —  May 5, 2008

First off, you can catch some of my thoughts on the series at the Hoops Addict podcast that just went up (also on there was a preview from the boys at My Utah Jazz). As a preview, Ryan asked if the Lakers could win a title without Bynum, I said I think this series is the real test of that.

Next, Reed’s comment post from yesterday deserves more run, so here it is in its entirety:

I think fans on both sides need to guard against homerish, post-game tunnel vision — we tend to interpret game results only in positive ways for our teams (i.e. if only X had happened, we would have won/won more handily). Remember, X didn’t happen for a reason, and it’s more likely what happened will happen again than the reverse.

*Kobe got to the rim at will and attempted 24 free throws. Lakers fans: par for the course. Jazz fans: we would have won if Kobe hadn’t been favored by the refs. Truth: the Jazz have weak perimeter defenders, foul a lot, and have no shot blockers inside. Kobe is going to spend a lot of time at the line and score fairly easily, even for him — this has been the case all season against Utah.

*The Jazz shot 38% and were far less efficient on offense than usual. Lakers fans: proof that the LA defense is top notch. Jazz fans: we would have won if we had shot like usual. Truth: somewhere in between; while the Jazz missed a lot of shots, LA’s length and rotations clearly had something to do with this. Aside from a few possessions, LA stayed with back cutters, prevented easy looks off of the pick and roll, stopped Deron from getting to the rim, and defended the 3 point line well — most of Utah’s possessions ended in long 2 point shots at the end of the shot clock (followed by an offensive rebound or three…). Fisher has been locked in defensively for the last few weeks and once Odom took Boozer, the Jazz didn’t have an easy advantage at any position (Boozer ate Gasol up in the first quarter though). Utah will score more than they did today, but will be more frustrated most games than they’d expect.

*Utah destroyed LA on the boards. Lakers fans: we’d have won by 25 if not for all the offensive rebounds. Jazz fans: we are a much tougher team. Truth: the Jazz are a much better rebounding team, with Bynum missing. They are stronger at every position besides SG, crash hard every possession, and will probably win the rebounding battle every game. LA’s job is to keep it close and eliminate easy put backs when they do get second chances.

*Gasol struggled to score on the block. Lakers fans: Pau had an off game (despite the numbers) and will eat Okur up. Jazz fans: Okur can handle Gasol fine — Kobe is the lingering problem. Truth: Okur is underrated defensively. He’s big, long, and doesn’t let Gasol get to the rim on isolation sets. Gasol has not been scoring well on the block for weeks and has been getting 90% of his offense off of great passes when the defense breaks down or in transition (which I have no problem with — I’d rather have the ball moving and Gasol getting 20 on 12 chip shots than have him attack hard on the block and get 30 on 22 isolation shots; there are enough weapons that we don’t need him to carry that heavy of a load).

*LA dominated in transition. Lakers fans: LA is faster, deeper and more explosive. Jazz fans: we were tired from the Houston series and you won’t get this advantage again. Truth: Utah was a bit sluggish, but LA is more athletic at every position but point guard and should have a significant fast break point edge every game.

I think Utah is capable of winning any game in this series, and the series itself. Deron is going to play better and go off a few times (he’ll realize that there isn’t a lot waiting for him at the rim when he gets by Fisher and start to lower his head and bull through more often). Boozer can put Gasol in foul trouble and thereby disrupt LA’s freak offensive efficiency. And Utah’s rebounding edge is going to be worth a lot of extra points in a series where the margins are narrow. But, LA should ultimately come through. Kobe is just an awful matchup for the Jazz given their lack of wing defenders or help shotblockers. LA’s defense is also enough better than Utah’s that they should have an easier time scoring points over the long haul.

For another great breakdown, the always amazing KD at Ball Don’t Lie looks behind the boxscore.

Game two on Wednesday will be interesting because both teams came out of game one thinking there were key areas to improve on — Utah’s shooting, particularly from D-Will and Boozer, and for the Lakers on the boards. Of course, one impacts the other — if Utah made more shots they would have gotten fewer offensive boards. But the team that makes the better adjustments here will be have the upper hand.

The Lakers have an odd concern here — because every Jazz player crashes the boards there are opportunities for run-outs and fast breaks. However, the Lakers have to be smart about it, because it can lead to overwhelming numbers of Jazz in the paint. Good times might include running close-outs on three-point shooters, Gasol got his late-game hesitation breakaway layup when he just kept running on a close-out, then Kobe got him the ball. (Do you think Kwame could have done that? Ha.)

Also, Reed mentioned Kobe’s penetration above, and I agree it’s something we can expect to see continue. But part of what drove Utah’s comeback was their penetration — the Jazz offense really opens when D-Will gets in the paint. The Lakers need to limit it again (as much as one can do that against D-Will).

Finally, I don’t think enough credit can be given to the Lakers bench — The Lakers second-quarter run that gave them a healthy lead came with a lineup of Vujacic, Turiaf, Walton, Farmar and Gasol. Speicial kudos to Sasha and Turiaf. Turiaf provided defensive energy in the paint the Lakers needed at key times. Sasha has now become the designated Korver stopper, which is a good role for him (but all those 13-year-old girls in Utah will hate him). Sasha finished +8 for the game, matched with Korver, a good sign.

There’s a lot more, like this smart series preview at The Painted Area, but we can’t get to it all. Plus, we need to save a few things for the game two preview.

Kurt

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64 responses to Breaking Down Game Two

  1. The first game was a great Lakers win. The breakdown by Ball Don’t Lie was great. Thanks for that link. I’m looking forward to plenty more domination in the playoffs. I feel like this team is a lot more mature and understands the need to practice properly and to study tape. I don’t think Kwame was one to go over game tape to learn a few things. I’m sure Pau is a bit smarter than Kwame at recognizing the offense and the defense that approaches him. Credit is due to Phil Jackson and his crew as well (minus Gary Vitti who has struggled to make anyone feel better in years)….

  2. Reed is the posting champ. That was a great piece of work on his part.

    Also, Kurt, you read my mind about the impact of the bench in the 2nd quarter. Turiaf was tremendous protecting the rim against the Jazz in not only blocking shots, but also at least making them adjust their shots (if not making them second guess completely about going to the bucket) when he didn’t get a piece of a shot. And what else can be said about Sasha? Long jumpers, driving and one layup, pretty good d as a chaser on Korver….just a very strong job. It’s really great to see how far, he in particular, has come since he was drafted.

    Also, one last thing on Kobe…it’s amazing to me that you really need a First Team All Defense type player to even slow him down. Not stop him, just slow him down. I mean Brewer is a pretty good athlete and looks like he can develop into a good wing defender. But he had no chance against Kobe. Kobe had him second guessing, opening his hips from jab steps, and really just ineffective in trying to defend him at all. There was one possesion in particular where Kobe had the ball at the top of the key, and he jab stepped, started his dribble, went right and got closed off, tried to go back left and got closed off, when between his legs for rhythm, pump faked, got Brewer in the air, and earned a foul call. Now Brewer probably didn’t have a stronger defensive possesion the entire game (against Kobe), and it still ended with him biting on a head fake and Kobe going to the line. We all know what Kobe is capable of, and maybe it’s overkill to mention it again. But jeez, this guy is a force….it’s nice he’s on our side.

  3. I do enjoy the level-headedness in Reed’s comments in distinction between Lakers and Jazz fans.

    Pb- The better team wins 90 % of the time? Ask Boston if that’s true. In the end it’s about which team comes out and competes harder and exerts its play closest to its max potential. Yesterday, both teams weren’t at their full potential but the Lakers were competing at a higher level than the Jazz. This is why you always hear Kobe and Coach Jackson talk about execution because that is the indicator of what the team believes is their full potential and is a litmus test on their game.

    Yes, the Lakers got outrebounded but it got the Lakers more transition buckets, which is just playing to what the other team gives you.

    The key to the series is definitely the defense on Deron Williams, it was mentioned in the LA Times that he calls the plays, which is something John Stockton never did and was often told what to run. We play excellent team defense on him and it takes the Jazz outside of their game and hinders their offense, which in turn makes their defense less in sync.

    It does appear that the stars are aligned this postseason. First, we get the Nuggets, which was a total mess and now we get the Jazz where Fisher knows most of the nuances and concepts behind their team (granted the assistant coaches do scouting reports and do the same thing) and with his leadership and sound defense, he should be able to get the Lakers past this team and ready for the next round, come what may.

    It’s an exciting time in LA, and we’re all loving every minute of it.

  4. Paraphrased from deadspin: “Confused Jazz discover their hack-a-Kobe strategy strangely ineffective”

  5. The MyUtahJazz guy said in that podcast that he didn’t like how Fisher handled being booed by Jazz fans earlier this season. That’s an interesting take. This should be interesting going back up there for games 3 and 4.

  6. the other Stephen May 5, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    ah, reed. what a great man. keep it up, and i might not even have to actually watch games anymore.

  7. Above and beyond the x’s and o’s and the matchups, I just don’t think you can overstate the case that this is a Laker team that plays with supreme confidence and seems to find a way to win, whatever the style of game.

    It’s going to be tough for any team to win 4 out of 7 against this bunch.

  8. I respect what Henry does, but KD is the best general NBA guy out there. His remarks are spot on, the Jazz hack, no sugar-coating that.

  9. I hope those Jazz fans who have commented stick around through the series. It is always more interesting to have reasoned, (mostly) dispassionate give and take with the opposition than yourself. I also only saw the Jazz 5-7 times this year so it’s hard for me to always know whether I’m seeing representative play from their players or not.

    I’m scared of how Deron will respond next game. I’ve followed him closely since going to school in Chicago during his Illinois years, and he is one of a few stars that have “it” — that will to win and crunch time confidence. I don’t think he’s quite figured out when to assert himself and when to facilitate, but he’s always capable of turning it on and willing a team to victory. It could be epic to see him square off against Kobe possession by possession in a few close games (partly because neither team has a good answer for the other).

    I thought we had left the 2 days between games territory behind in the first round… So painful to wait.

  10. Reed,
    Speaking of Deron, I still remember how we wanted to badly move into the top 3-4 of that draft to take him. And the next year we were all over Brandon Roy, but weren’t able to swing a deal in that draft either. For all the blasting that Mitch took during those years, it’s interesting that not only have the guys that he did draft develop quite nicely, but those 2 guys in particular have *great player* written all over them. Maybe it’s not a stretch to see it in Williams and Roy, but Roy lasted until pick #7 (I believe) and everyone criticized the Jazz for taking Williams above Paul and questioned if he would ever be that impact player when he had a so-so rookie campaign. So, I just want to give it up again for Mitch for actually knowing talent when many questioned his chops in that area.

  11. 8. I think what KD and Henry do is a little different, Henry knows he is not an Xs and Os guy and tends to go for others for game breakdowns, he is more news based. KD though is my favorite NBA blogger on the Web and when I win the lottery I’ll pay him to have his own site. (I’m just six numbers away.)

  12. Ooh, ooh! When you win the lottery, Kurt, can I have a pony?

  13. 5 – J.D. Hastings – What didn’t he like about Fisher’s reaction? The fact that he played a poor game? (But as a Jazz fan, why wouldn’t he like that?)

  14. 13. Some (many?) Jazz fans have this irrational belief that Fisher ditched them to come to LA and his daughter was just an excuse. I’m not going to go into breaking down how wrong I think that is again, but apparently he gets hammered on Jazz talk radio and the like. And, like most fans, once you dislike/hate someone, nothing they do will be right. So, I guess somehow that being shocked that he was booed (and, I think, the fact Kobe took his frustrations out on the Jazz) is now seen as him being petulant, or something along those lines.

  15. One interesting stat that was flashed during the Game 1 telecast, but that I don’t think has been mentioned here yet: Phil Jackson is 39-0 in playoff series where his team wins the first game. Now, I know past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future success, but…wow.

  16. The key for Phil is that he has the first game to take the measure of his opponent. When he also wins that first game he really has an advantage in his game preparation – the area he is most superior in.

  17. The Lakers will have to spend more time pushing back underneath the boards.

    How many times did we see Pau and others get pushed out of position from behind and miss the subsequent rebound while flailing demonstratively and yelling, looking for a loose ball foul?

    Their initial defense on the Jazz was great. but one of the ironies of basketball is that you can play great defense and force a team into an ugly shot, which inevitably takes a crazy bounce off the rim, goes long and ends up in the offense’s hands.

    Not making excuses, but I bet you get what I’m saying.

  18. Bill Bridges May 5, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Re: Utah’s booing Fish. I can’t understand it and noone has been able to explain it. This is the guy who gets off a trans continental flight after taking care of his sick daughter to drain the dagger 3 against Golden State. This is the guy who left the Jazz much stronger than when he arrived.

    It is as if nobody in Utah has ever accepted a new job offer before resigning from the current one. The hypocricy.

    Of course In Fish’s case, the NBA’s anti tampering rules prohibit recruitment of player under contract.

    Facts:

    1. HIs daughter is under experimental trial therapy. Hospitals in SLC are not equipped to provide such therapy. Conventional treatment would have been removal of the tumor and loss of the eye.

    2. Tatum is tested now in LA more often than in NY.

    3. Fish left 6.5M on the table by taking a lower paid contract offer from LA

    4. Anti tampering rules prohibit any prior arrangement

    In the league of idiot fandom (Spanish formula 1 fans, Balkan soccer fans, German tennis fans), the fans in Utah has reserved a special place. Poetic justice will be a Fish dagger 3 to ice the game in the fourth quarter of one of the games in SLC.

  19. 18-Exactly, add in the fact that Boozer was let out of his contract to re-sign with Cleveland, only for Utah to offer him a contract more lucractive. Boozer really did screw the Cavs, his was a straight money play (I don’t begrudge Boozer, just wish the Jazz fans could see how silly they are being)

  20. pogi wan kenobi May 5, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    re: fish, don’t forget that he was jumping on an LA team that was supposed to miss the playoffs completely. not like he was riding on the coattails of a juggernaut. how in the world could his move have been interpreted as anything other than doing what was best for his family? dude, there wasn’t even a guarantee that kobe was gonna be around for fish to team up with!!

  21. This Little Pinky May 5, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I’d like to take a step back to appreciate the strategic excellence of Phil Jackson.

    Remember how the Lakers came within one rebound of upsetting the Phoenix Suns in the first round? The game plan for that series was flawless. Slow the Suns down, prevent them from getting transistion opportunities, don’t get caught up in the helter-skelter game, pound the ball in to Lamar and Kwame (!).

    Have you ever seen a Phil Jackson team lose in the playoffs due to poor strategy? The guy is always prepared, he lays out the game plan – all that’s left is for the players to execute.

    In much the same way that Kobe was a gunslinger that needed “guns to bring in a gunfight”, PJ is like an architect, the Frank Lloyd Wright of coaches. Give him second-rate materials, and he can still build you something that looks nice … but give him a strong foundation (Kobe) , quality steel (Pau), sturdy wood (Fisher, Odom), and some nuts and bolts (Vlad, Sasha, Farmar, Luke, Ronny, and DJ) and he will build you a masterpiece. I think I killed that metaphor.

    Point is, Phil Jackson is a master tactician, and don’t you ever forget it.

  22. 21-All the “experts” that act like PJ didn’t deserve coach of the year had the Lakers finishing 8th or 9th. When people look back on Phil’s career, his second stint with the Lakers will be considered his best work. He has stayed the same but adapted all at once. That and he has not played head games with his players, especially Kobe, those two have a relationship that is a complete 180 from Phil’s first stint.

  23. I would never boo Fisher and I don’t understand why so many fellow Jazz fans do. He is one of the class acts in the league, but I guess when you leave a team, especially when you do so willingly, people view you as the enemy.

    People here weren’t too happy with Karl Malone when he left for the Lakers either, but the truth is, we probably needed him to leave, to give us the chance to rebuild (although the Jazz almost made the playoffs anyway and ended up doing squat with the draft that year).

  24. I kinda get the Fisher booing, since it wasn’t until comment 18 that I learned Tatum was getting care in LA not in NYC. But kinda ironic since Boozer joined them in a much more blatant fashion.

    I don’t think the Jazz are too worried about losing Game 1. I’m glad as hell we won it, but the BIG ONE for us(and the Jazz) is Game 2. Winning Game 2 will put undue pressure on the Jazz who now have to win both at home.

    In order of importance for the home team:
    Game 2 > Game 3 > Game 1 > Game 7…

    In order of importance for the road team:
    Game 3 > Game 2 > Game 4 > Game 1…

    Of course these things shouldn’t be thought ahead and instead be taken one-game-at-a-time, and I really don’t have stats to prove which game ended up being pivotal (if you could measure that somehow… maybe there is a stat somewhere that has the list of every game won for home and away teams… and we could see which game was won most by the team that advances)

  25. pogi wan kenobi May 5, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    23: appreciate the perspective from a jazz fan. i think us laker fans are pretty protective of fish, and have a hard time understanding why anyone could hate on such a straightforward, down-to-earth guy. and again, hate to pound on the same point over and over, but would jazz fans be as upset if the lakers finished 9th and didn’t make the playoffs (as some “experts” predicted)? it was fortunate for fish (and the lakers) that he joined the team this year, but i don’t think it was part of some master plan to screw over the jazz organization. if it was, then fish’s foresight is RIDICULOUS, and someone should tell him to play the lotto more often.

  26. This Little Pinky May 5, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Ooh, and did anyone else love Hubie’s frustration at Farmar not passing it in to Gasol in the low post?

    “Farmar missed a GREAT opportunity, Gasol had his man PINNED three feet from the basket!”

    You could even see Hubie in the lower left corner of the screen, headphones on, his back to the viewer, totallly animated, arms flailing about.

    Hubie is FANTASTIC.

  27. The Dude Abides May 5, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    I checked out the Jazz forums in the various SLC newspapers during the Fisher “controversies,” this season, and a number of commentators rationalized that he would make up his pay cut with more endorsement money. Some even said he was lying about his daughter’s cancer to get out of his contract! Sadly, I even read a comment that “clean-cut” players like Harpring and Korver would never do what Fisher did. I think we all know what “clean-cut” is a euphemism for. Coupled with the epithets that the Warriors received in SLC during last year’s playoff series, that’s pretty sad in this day and age. It’s too bad that this sort of mindset still exists there, even if it’s just a small remnant, and I’m sure that the thoughtful Jazz fans who commented on this blog the past few days also regret this.

  28. I lived in Utah for a few years, and while I find the fans as obnoxious as anywhere in the country, I will say that racism is not a prevalant, or even existent, attitude up there. Sad that a few bad apples can mark the entire fan base.

  29. 27 – that’s going a bit too far, don’t you think? It’s not like their roster is free of bearded monsters a-la BDavis. Malone, D-Will, and Boozer probably got/get more love than Korver, Harpring, and Kirilenko.

    I do think that Stockton and Sloan, and perhaps even Hornaceck were/are most respected in terms of clean-cut-ness, but I would think that the ‘average’ fan probably identifies with them more too.

    Me, ethnically, I’d have to go with Yao Ming, or Ichiro Suzuki in baseball, or C.J. Choi in PGA, or Michael Chang in tennis, or Ji-Sung Park in the premier league…

    But honestly, this probably has little to do with hating on Fisher. It’s one thing to say a columnist is biased, but quite another to say most of their fans are.

  30. laughing hard May 5, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    I think the New York thing was big for Salt Lake fans. Many are still under the (mistaken!) belief that Tatum’s primary care is located at Sloan-Kettering in New York City, not Los Angeles, which is why this doesn’t seem quite right to them. The MyUtahJazz guy reiterated that error on the podcast.

  31. Travis, it’s my fault that I wasn’t specific or clear, but I still think that compare to football or baseball, basketball is more about talent. In NBA playoffs (best 4 out of 7 series), the better teams win about 90% of time, meaning there are fewer true upsets in NBA than there are in NFL and MLB. It’s true that in one game, anything could happen, but 7 games series makes it almost impossible for less talented teams to win. I bet if Bos and Atl played 10 playoff series, Bos will win 9 out of 10 times.

    That said, I think LA is better team than UTA, but not by much, especially considering the match ups. Where we are strong, they are weak and vice versa. Center battle will be interesting to watch throughout the series. Okur can’t rebound much better than he did, but we know that Odom and Pau can rebound better than they did. Therefore, I think the rebounding gap won’t be as great as it was in game 1. Furthermore, more physically fit Walton will provide some added rebounding for our team. I’m sure UTAH fans will also say that DFish can’t make more steals than he did and UTAH players won’t make that many TO’s. Therefore, possession numbers will somewhat nullify each other. Will Okur hit more 3s? Most likely. Will Pau score better in post? I think so. Thus, if Cs cancel each other out, then Lakers will most likely win. If somehow Okur dominate Pau, than UTAH can win. I just don’t see that happen as Pau is a player with a lot of skill, experience, and pride. Unless both Okur and Boozer dominate Pau and LO, I don’t think UTA can beat us in this series.

  32. personally, I think we haven’t begun to see the full upside of Pau Gasol.
    with his b-ball IQ, wingspan, and being at his more natural position of PF…(next year with ‘drew back)…
    then I think we are going to see a Hall Of Fame player in Pau not unlike Kevin McHale when he was at his best.
    imagine, Kobe, ‘Drew, Lo, and Pau, all potential HOFer’s…
    all on the same team, wow. big wow.

  33. RE: “imagine, Kobe, ‘Drew, Lo, and Pau, all potential HOFer’s…”

    I agree with you and foam at the mouth while thinking of next year’s team, but I disagree with the HOF comments.
    Kobe – uh…YA
    Pau – Has the potential and right scenario in place with the Lakers, needs to be an All Star for many more years though.
    LO – Superb role player tweener ie not a star, but role player doesn’t justify it either. Great player, won;t get to the Hall.
    Bynum – We’ve seen three months of potential HOF ball. We need more, and he has the potential.

  34. Nice points by Aaron in regards to the HOF. We don’t know enough about Bynum, Pau hasn’t accomplished anything yet, and LO is just a solid role player. Let’s see what develops in the next couple years but I suppose if all four guys stick together, and even Fisher, for the next few years and win a few championships together, they will all be members of the Hall of Fame one day.

  35. 32, 33.

    I can see Kobe get to HOF, probably in his very first year of eligibility. Getting that MVP, and being associated with just one franchise(hoping) will help too, not that he needs any.

    pau… if he can help the lakers get a ring or two, yes. if not, i really doubt it.

    LO… even if we do win a few rings, his case is iffy at best. considering that, despite all our best intentions, his career with the Lakers is uncertain, i doubt he’ll make it. however, if buss decides to keep him, and if he performs consistently as a great third wheel (fourth if bynum comes back… another reason why his case will be weakened.

    Bynum.. urgh. big maybe. we don’t even know if he can sustain his early season form without injury, and now that he had one, we don’t know whether he’ll pull a stoudemire or never be the same again. potential, yes, probability… not looking good at this point. i’d actually give Pau more a chance than Bynum, and Lamar about the same chance here.

  36. dudes, all I am saying is that while we all enjoy what Pau brings to the party, I (in my humble opinion) don’t think we’ve even begun to see his potential.
    I guess time will tell, it’s not really a debatable topic, just stuff to dream about.
    talk to me in 3 years, and let’s see.

  37. The Dude Abides May 5, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    29-When it’s in the context of Fisher vs Harpring/Korver, the use of “clean-cut” to describe how the latter two compare to Fish seems to be a pretty clear euphemism to me. DFish is not a heavily tatooed individual. Also, I did say that mindset represents a small remnant.

  38. Not to just try and kill this discussion but I hate the HOF. If a guy like Dennis Johnson can’t get in and Adrian Dantley has to wait forever to get recognized, I don’t put too much stock into who potentially gets in and who doesn’t. Couple that with the slew of International and College representatives that they induct in every class and I’m done with it entirely. Sadly, the Basketball HOF does not come close to carrying the same cache for me that the NFL and MLB HOF’s do. I know it means a great deal to the players (and for obvious reasons) but when they don’t put in some of the best players that I saw during the 80′s all while insisting on putting in folks whose accomplishments are almost completely foreign to the american basketball fan just pisses me off to no end. Sorry for the rant, but that’s just how I feel.

    As for the Jazz fans, I have heard a theory in the past that makes sense to me, especially in terms of Fisher. Basically it goes like this: Because Utah is seen as a *white* state and basketball is seen as a *black* sport, there is a feeling that many players actually don’t want to go to the Jazz to play. This plays itself out pretty much every year there is a good FA class when rarely ever does a marquee free agent decide that they’d rather go to the Jazz than some other team. Now, I know that you can point to Boozer as a guy that went there, and you could even point to Magette when he signed an offer sheet there in his RFA year. But besides those two, when was the last time that a really good player decided that he would spurn other offers in order to go to the Jazz? Now think about how well the Lakers do in that regard. Then look at Fish….he left Utah and signed with the Lakers. Now that argument is silly if you know or even seek out the facts. And by no means am I trying to defend those fans that decide that they are going to boo Fish for reasons that aren’t based on anything but speculation and misinformation. But I think that it can fuel some of the vile feelings towards Fish from the Jazz fans.

  39. Man, if the Lakers weren’t in the playoffs this year (they’re already in, so I’m not jinxing them), I’d so be rooting for the Hornets. What a great story for that city, for the players, and for Byron Scott.

    But since the Lakers *are* in the playoffs, I’m looking at them with as a potential opponent, and I’m a little scared.

  40. New Orleans is making the Spurs look very ordinary. 2-0. Wow.

  41. laughing hard May 5, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Tim Duncan was a -32 for the game tonight… yikes.

    I’m getting a-scared!

  42. Warren Wee Lim May 5, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Case in Point: Derek Fisher. I’ll do a Reed on this one.

    Utah – he screwed us! He used his daughter to get out of Utah.
    LA – no! Tatum is indeed sick and he needs the proper care which LA can offer well.

    Utah – why not New York then? He screwed us!
    LA – Can’t you see how big a mess that NY team is? I can’t imagine Fish being there even if they were able to absorb his waiver salary.

    Warren – Fish, at this point in his life and career, should be able to choose well between contention plus money, as supposed to rebuilding plus less salary. There is a daunting difference between his former salary and the new one, considering he would need to spend for Tatum’s care. For what its worth, many of you are right. There is no way Fisher could have predicted this to happen otherwise he’d have ridiculous foresight! Besides, its puzzles me that Utah fans could still make something up and said Fisher did this to leave Utah.

    That being the case, doesn’t that say anything about Sloan and the City? How sad… I seriously doubt Fish did it to simply “have the starting role back” as supposed to being the wily reserve with dagger threes at Utah. SHeesh!

  43. Gils_Keloids May 5, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I really, really think it’s more of a case of the Spurs being mediocre than it is that New Orleans is brilliant.

    And not only because I’m a terrible homer.

    San Antonio beat a Suns team that I thought was very mediocre, too. I wasn’t sure watching that series if I was right, but after watching New Orleans throttle San Antonio, I feel vindicated.

    The Spurs-Suns series was just two mediocre teams fighting it out.

    The Hornets are good, but both the Jazz and the Lakers are better.

  44. Uch….Please don’t let this great discussion degenerate into a racial argument. Unfortunately, the NBA is viewed as an African American sport and will always have discussions regarding race. It came up during the past 3 MVP’s of Dirk and Steve Nash. But you know what? Race comes up not only in other sports, but politics as well as other forums (see Democratic nominees). Just because it’s sometimes an issue, we don’t have to make it one here. Let’s focus on the great play of the Lakers in the first game and hope for similar results (+ a little rebounding) in the second.

  45. There are three referees whom I hold in the lowest of regard, and two of them are Steve Javie and Derrick Stafford. No surprise to me that they managed to bungle the end of the third quarter in Detroit tonight.

    (The last one is Son of Darrell, so nil nisi bonum for the time being.)

  46. There was an interesting article from Mark Heisler at the L.A. Times talking about Kobe and his ride from off-season meltdown to MVP award. I thought it was good and I tend to agree with a lot of what he said. I wrote an article that was inspired by Heisler’s if anyone wants to check it out on my site. I’m hope some Lakers fans think the same. http://www.lakerology.com/2008/05/05/kobe-bryants-strange-and-fantastic-voyage/

  47. 7 playoff games
    75 assists
    9 (!) turnovers!

    CP3 = Unbaweebabol.

    Kobe and LBJ have got some serious company in the “best player in the lig” discussion. And that company is a full half-a-foot shorter.

    Loving these playoffs.

    Can’t wait to see how Lebron plays against the Celtics. They couldn’t even handle Joe Johnson.

    Wanna see how the rest of SA-NO plays out and if NO can keep up the high level of play on the road.

    And finally, can’t wait to see if (ok – when, and how many times) Mamba does the throat stomp-routine on the Jazz. Where he just doesn’t let the Lakers lose.

    Don’t care bout ORL-DET.

  48. From an L.A. Times article, which definitely increases my respect for Jerry Sloan:

    Here’s an aberration: A coach is mad at his players, not the referees, for too many foul calls. “We can’t hold and grab them as much,” Sloan said. “We got four or five fouls trying to pull guys’ uniforms off. That shouldn’t happen in a ballgame.”

  49. Bill Bridges May 6, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Thanks for your thoughts about the Fish issue. The racial element is the only one that makes sense to me. One that hadn’t occurred to me before. In this regard, my comparisons to Eastern European soccer fans and Spanish F1 fans were unintentionally apropos. Whilst they are more overtly invidious (wearing gorilla suits and making money noises), I find the disguised racism of the Jazz fans more infuriating. Maybe this is why Kobe took it so personally.

  50. Bill Bridges May 6, 2008 at 2:19 am

    sorry typo… monkey not “money”

  51. Bill Bridges,
    Your typo has some unintended – but perhaps appropriate – meaning. Maybe not to Fish, but certainly to Boozer.

  52. Bill Bridges May 6, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Aaron. I don’t think the discussion “degenerated” into a racial issue. Other blogs’ discussions often degenerate. The absence of this behavior is one of the reasons why (I think) we enjoy this one. Having said that, I agree that the discussion is inappropriate. The issue is illuminated sufficiently for me and hope we focus exclusively going forward on basketball issues.

  53. Bill – Love your comments and couldn’t agree more.

  54. 43, the Spurs are not mediocre. You don’t place 3rd in the Western Conf by being mediocre. It’s just that the Hornets are playing excellent team D. They double-team quickly but their superb rotations allow them to recover. On the other end, they’re executing on offense. They’re shooting close to 50% fg against a team that typically holds opponents to around 44%.

  55. 54-Yup. Byron’s gameplan has been excellent. They have taken Duncan out of the mix by doubling and fronting him, and then have limited Ginobli and Parker by pressuring them up top and having Chandler clean anything that gets to the hoop. Spurs need to play Barry more, they need more scoring on the court.

  56. Re: The Hornets/Spurs series. I don’t think the Big Three in San Antonio are average at all, but the guys they are surrounded with can no longer make you pay for mismatches, they can no longer force mistakes. Credit the Hornets though, Tyson Chandler has been amazing in the paint, killing the penetration of Parker.

  57. Yeah, I seriously underrated the Hornets D. Gotta see if they can bring it in San Antonio though.

    Some appropriate hyperbole though by Dwyer in today’s BBS:

    “Forget Tony Parker. He’s been lapped.”

    We might see the 3 best players in the Lig in the Conference Finals. Unbaweebabol.

  58. I’m ready to talk about game 2.

    I believe that on offense the Lakers will take what they are given, which may lead to more balanced scoring. Although VladRad has quietly made important contributions for several playoff games, I see a larger role for Walton in game two–if his health allows. I think that on defense, Walton will do better on the boards and on offense will facilitate in the paint scoring.

    On defense, the Lakers need to rethink matchup patterns. As predicted, Odom had foul troubles and fouled out. It was also not surprising to see Gasol get in early foul trouble matched agaist Boozer. The Lakers need Gasol’s presence on offense so much that they can’t allow him to get in foul trouble early.

    Ronny needs to play a role and be a presence against Utah–but more under control. More playing time for Walton may help Ronny both on offense (getting set up for shots) and defense–with Walton/Gasol to get the rebounds after Ronny blocks the shots. Ronny needs to work more on getting position and rebounds rather than spectacular but often futile blocks (and fouls).

    I predict that the critical action will again take place in the second quarter. If the Lakers take a lead into the fourth, they will be very difficult to stop.

  59. drrayeye-Good point about Vlad, I also think he’s had a good playoffs so far (although he hasn’t been hitting his 3 with consistency). What do people think and Mbenga getting some run (10-12 mins) to bring more physicality back to the Jazz?

  60. I agree with the notion that Walton and Turiaf are important keys to this series. Turiaf was key to our win in Salt Lake without Pau and his ability to bang inside, get what rebounds he can and generally take some of the pressure (read: foul trouble) off Pau/LO is an important facet. Hopefully luke has used these 2 edays to get healthy and can provide some more rebounding at the 3 spot. I don’t have a problem with Vlade, but his role is pretty set. If he can crash the glass a little more, good, but I think its more reasonable to expect that from Walton. I also think Kobe can devote himself to that a little more too. It’s a full team issue.

    I dunno about Mbenga. He gave us some good, active minutes against Denver, but outside of those minutes he’s never struck me as a great rebounder, often taking himself out of position by going for the block…

    On the Fisher thing, I understand the initial reaction to Fisher (though I disagree with it) but was taken aback at criticizing Fisher for his reaction to being booed. Is there a code of conduct for players being in that position? Once you boo/taunt somebody I think you have to accept any reaction from them (short of anything over the top like violence/confrontation) to be fair game.

  61. Very brief Kobe is MVP post up, with video footage!

  62. As for game 2, I look for Utah to start off against the Lakers the same way they did against Houston in Game 6 and the Lakers in Game 1.

    They looked to get Boozer off early on the low block; both Mutombo and Gasol drew 2 early fouls. I think one way to counter that tactic and take advantage of Gasol’s length is to front Boozer.

    Deron will look to distribute the ball and get his team involved in the 1st half; in the 2nd, he’ll work the pick and roll with Boozer and see if his jumpshot is falling.

    So, I think Fisher can afford to go under screens while other Lakers play the passing lanes and anticipate steals in the 1st, and then play a little more conservatively in the 2nd.

    Against Houston, the Jazz defense was repeatedly burnt by McGrady’s drives; unlike McGrady, Kobe didn’t settle for too many jumpshots in the 2nd. Due to good play from the bench, he was able to rest and had enough gas left in his tank to take the ball to the hoop in 4th.

    That penetration should be the Lakers’ bread-and-butter. So, I think if the Lakers are going to impose their will on this game, the bench must come through again; at the same time, interior defense must improve

  63. Tyrone Johnson May 6, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    great analysis starks! where’d u get those stats?

    go bron bron, and the lakers!

    punish ‘em

  64. I have to say that I think the booing of Fisher was blown way out of proportion. Yes, I am sure some Jazz fans booed because they felt that Fisher pulled a fast one on Jazz management to get back to the Lakers. But I think most fans, of which I was one, booed him simply because he switched sides–and not just to any old team, but to the most hated team in Utah–the cursed Lakers). However, unlike our booing of Kobe (or even Melo), when we booed Fish we did it with smiles on our faces, not scowls. We like the guy, and respect what he did for our team. We were just kind of scared of what would happen to our very young team without him.

    And the comparisons to the Mailman’s defection to LA are way, way off in this case. DFish was loved, but he was only in Utah for one season–not nearly long enough to warrant applause when he shows up back in town wearing purple and gold.

    For what it is worth (probably not much more than extending this DFish discussion even further into irrelevancy) and contrary to reports by laughinghard (although maybe he has inside info that ABC doesn’t have) Lisa Salters mentioned during Game 1 that Fisher does return to NYC periodically during the season to get treatment for his daughter at Sloan Kettering. And as reported by Tim Buckley at the Deseret News, Fisher’s doctor in LA is merely monitoring the situation while the Fishers can’t be in NYC.