Game Three Wasn’t As Much Fun As Game Two

Kurt —  May 26, 2008

Manu Ginobili was hot. Even-when-you-were-in-his-face-the-three-would-fall hot. Combine that with a more aggressive Tony Parker (getting into the lane) and Tim Duncan, and the big three accounted for 70% of the Spurs scoring. With those three all going motion returned to the San Antonio offnese, and Brent Barry helped open up the floor. All of that sparked the Spurs to an offensive rating of 112 (points per 100 possessions).

And I’m not that concerned about that too much, it was bound to happen in this series. The Spurs have those rings for a reason. But they will cool off a little in future games. More concerning was that the Lakers offense went into hibernation.

KD says the problem was Kobe took charge early and as a result Odom and Fisher (and to a degree Pau) went passive. That’s an old (like last season) chicken-or-the-egg problem with the Lakers. I personally put that less on Kobe and more on his teammates, they should not fold up because he decided to keep the team in the game early.

Some credit is due to the Spurs. They were more physical in game three (and the refs let them be) and were back to their long-time defensive strategy: defend the paint, defend the three-point line and make you shoot the midrange. The Lakers fell into that trap and did not attack the rim — on the season the Lakers made about 25 free throws for every 100 field goals they attempted, last night it worked out to about 9.8. The bench mob came in and, like all the Lakers starters not named Kobe, were ice cold. Take Kobe out of the stats and the Lakers shot 39% (eFG%), which really hurts on a team that wants to make you pay for paying too much attention to Kobe. Bowen (with Duncan backing him up in the paint) do a respectable job on Kobe, but the other Lakers need to take advantage of that focus. In Game Four, Odom and Pau have to be the aggressors and attack the rim, even if it means a few blocks. It also will mean a few made baskets and a few fouls on San Antonio bigs.

There are nights like game three when there is nothing you can do about a hot player on the other team (how other teams feel against Kobe all the time) but you still have to not let it rattle you and take care of business on the other end. That is what the Lakers failed to do in game three. We’ll see what changes in game four — because if nothing does the problems become much bigger.

• On a completely different track, but a very good one, the guys at Upside and Motor have a great idea — rather than have one of those online TNT yellowbook cams following Kobe, vote to have the camera follow Ronny Turiaf for a whole game. How much more entertaining would that be?

Kurt

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34 responses to Game Three Wasn’t As Much Fun As Game Two

  1. This little thumb May 26, 2008 at 9:49 am

    If Ginobili seems to be scoring again in Game 4, might it be time to give Ariza or Kobe a shot at guarding Manu?

    Also, I’m glad the refs finally called Bowen for that foul on Kobe’s three last night. Just because your arms are down doesn’t mean you can just walk into the player’s path as he’s shooting. Bowen does that all the time.

  2. the other Stephen May 26, 2008 at 10:25 am

    112) hahaha “weenie shots”

  3. I don’t know that I’d blame later offensive woes on Kobe taking a few shots in the 1Q. The Lakers had 24pts in 1Q and Kobe only had 8 of them on @1/2 dozen shots-most in early part of Quarter when team was misfiring.
    It seemed that a high percentage of Laker misses were short. Usually an indication of tiredness,but was last night more of a young team letting the pressure get to them?
    The impression that really stood out for me was how the Lakers forced the issue early in the game by advancing the ball as quickly as possible. Players were passing the ball to a teammate further down court every chance they had. In no Laker was ahead of them,they just dribbled down court as fast as they could. This seemed to really bother the Spurs as they were starting their defense off-kilter. As the game progressed the Lakers stopped forcing the ball upcourt and ended up back-passing to Lamar and letting him walk up the ball.

  4. Bingo T. Klown May 26, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I still don’t get how Kobe takes one FT. This is not one of those the refs are to blame comments, I just think the discrepancy between the number of FT’s Kobe had through 3 games against Utah and three games against the spurs is really, really bizarre if not a perfect example of poorly applied and inconsistent refereeing. I am not saying there’s a conspiracy but it really shows how bad the problem has gotten, and I felt this way after 2 straight wins.

    I know the spurs D is much better that Utah’s but 2 FT per game avg vs 17 FT per game avg?? C’mon.

    That said the obligatory “Spurs out played the Lakers” comment goes here.

  5. Heading into the series there was a lot of talk about a great “chess match” between Phil and Pop. The onus was on SA to make adjustments after getting edged in game 1 and owned in game 2. They did there job at home.

    Phil is now in a position to make his adjustments. He’ll need to find a way to get Kobe to the line, which probably means him taking a lot less 3-point shots and getting to the rim more. That should open up things for Pau and Lamar inside off Kobe’s dishes. Pau has to get some consistency back. Lamar will fall in place behind those guys, so he’s no problem. Kobe, as a playmaker, should be able to get the Spurs D to stop the ball when he blows by his defender (yes, even Bowen). This will result in more trips to the stripe, more easy finishes for Pau and Lamar at the rim, and some wide-open kick-outs to Fish and Vladman. Of course nothing I’m saying is a grand new scheme, but he’ll likely push to implement more of it now to right the offense.

    Another thing is that the Spurs have a very respectable half court D. Our second unit can struggle to score when they don’t have a creator like Kobe to initiate. They should focus on the transition game and pushing the ball, which is that units strength anyway. Glad to see Farmar got his head out of his…well, he’s shooting better and making less “dumb” turnovers. I’m glad Trevor’s getting some minutes. Hopefully if this thing goes 6 or 7 games he’ll be in good enough condition to lock down Ginobili so we can get out of this series alive.

    Game 3 was frustrating, to be sure, but the panic button still has dust on it from last May when we almost lost a Mamba. Even if the Spurs grab another Tuesday, I think our guys will find the gear they found against Utah and close it in 6. Sure would like to be up 3-1 though. Those boot heal accessories are sharp, and sure can make you nervous.

  6. the other Stephen May 26, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    i dunno about you, but i voted turiaf and farmar.

  7. Kobe should shoot more free throws. For some reason, Bowen gets the calls and is allowed to be more physical than most other defenders guarding Kobe. He averaged like 16FTA against the Jazz and now is like averaging 2FTA per game against these Spurs.

    Either way, Kobe needs to get the ball moving. He’s been doing a great job managing the game but I think the only way they can win on the road is to get everyone involved.

  8. One thing I forgot to mention:

    Manu’s a great player and all, but I don’t think we have to worry about many more games like he just had. I say if he thinks he can beat us with highly contested, fall-away 3-pointers for a few more wins…let him try. He did have an outstanding game, no question, but the pace (whole Spurs team included in this portion of the comment) isn’t something he/they should be able to sustain at his/their age.

    They may be able to get up for G4, but I feel they’ll fizzle shortly after this POP. Pun intended.

  9. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-plaschke26-2008may26,0,1673957.column?page=1&track=ntothtml
    I like the amount of blame LO is placing on himself. He usually bounces back strong after games like these. If we were going to lose, I think it’s actually better he played so bad, because now he’ll work that much harder next game.

    Kobe’s FT woes are a combination of different things. One, Bowen is definitely allowed more leeway by the refs. Two, his physical play, though Kobe will never admit it, must wear Kobe down to a certain degree, and so Kobe isn’t attacking as much as he did in the Utah series. Three, when he does attack, Bowen usually leaves the rest to the interior defenders, and Duncan is good about not picking up fouls with his hands-straight-up defense (that worked especially well on Lebron last year).

    However, it all comes down to Kobe not being aggressive enough. I understand it’s easier said than done against the Spurs, but if you go back and look at every play, I think it’d be hard to find 5 total plays where Kobe drove and something bad happened.

    I don’t mind Kobe coming out firing – but he has to do it by driving, not taking J’s. Jumpshots take his teammates out of the game, whereas drives lead to kickouts and easy buckets and get everybody off.

  10. Kurt,

    You say: “In Game Four, Odom and Pau have to be the aggressors and attack the rim, even if it means a few blocks.”

    I couldn’t disagree more–especially in relation to Lamar. That’s not the way to start the game. The early strategy for the last three games has been to get the ball to Lamar and have him attack the rim. This, in turn, supposedly frees things up for Gasol.

    When it works, it is a killer strategy. Unfortunately, it has only worked for game 2. It has been catastrophic in games one and three, putting pressure on Lamar–and we know how Lamar responds to pressure. Unlike Genobili, Lamar’s mea culpa may not portend a big game 4–but it could. Remember, he’s the x factor.

    To be really effective, players need to be virtually automatic on the short to midrange jumper, forcing close coverage. The only outside category in which Lamar is virtually automatic is the three pointer–but in the wrong direction.

    There are other ways to get things started without a slashing Kobe early on drawing fouls. That’s a high risk approach that we better save for extreme desperation later on in the game.

    One alternative strategy is to bring in a player (not Kobe) with more confidence on the short to midrange jumper, saving Lamar and Pau for offensive rebounds, putbacks, and inside dishoffs. When the defense extends to defend the short/med. jumper, all of the other “bigs” get their chances to attack the rim.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, that man is VladRad. Let’s add Trevor Ariza to the mix as an off the bench slasher/defender to provide contrast and relief–he’s a guy that can really attack the rim!

    Look carefully at VladRad’s stats–including game 3–and you may see why Phil put VladRad (not Vladman, Finalyst) in to replace Lamar toward the end of game 3.

    VladRad is much better at the midrange to long jumper than Lamar, can shoot the 3, and also can attack the rim if challenged on the jumpshot. Lamar is the best rebounder, and does especially well if aided by a complementary player. VladRad is more than ready for redemption.

    Let’s give Vladamir Radmanovich a chance.

  11. Bowen is playing Kobe differently than Utah did. Utah crowded him,putting their bodies on him,racking up numerous non-shooting fouls that resulted in the Lakers being in the bonus early. They often had a second defender between Kobe and the basket so when Kobe got past the “crowder” there was help and the rest of the team collapsed into paint. This put several defenders in Kobe’s path and resulted in quite a bit of contact some of which was called.
    Bowen is staying about arms length away,giving up the jumper,but preventing Kobe from blowing past him on initial step. Bowen is using the space he’s giving up to angle off Kobe’s drive giving the help D time to get set as Kobe has to drive around Bowen. By backing off,Bowen avoids the perimeter fouls that soon turn into FTs. The help D is pretty much set and it’s hard for refs to call fouls on players who have established position.
    No one has mentioned this in a while but I wonder if Kobe’s back is still bothering him. If he’s somewhat worried about taking it strong to rim for fear of tweaking it again. He definitely looks like he’s lost some of his incredible explosiveness to me.
    As to Bowen,he’s fortunate that the Lakers don’t have an enforcer. In LA he deliberately threw his shoulder into Laker going upcourt and the 4pt play was a deliberate attempt to roll up Kobe’s legs. I’m suprised at how little outrage there is on that one. He lowered his torso and swung his body at Kobe’s legs.It was clearly w/the intent to injure.

  12. The Dude Abides May 26, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I did a search on YouTube for “Bowen Kobe game 4″ and the first video on the searched list was a compilation of Kobe’s points in last night’s game. On EVERY jumper in which Bowen was guarding him, Bowen stuck his lead foot out into Kobe’s landing area, and on the three-pointer where Bowen got called for a foul, the poster Stephen above me is right. Bowen should have gotten a flagrant. The Lakers should forward this last play to the league, at the least.

  13. I hope to bring some perspective to the board. The FT issue is a clear difference in the teams not refs. Utah is the most fouling team in the league. They have poor foot speed at every defensive position, only AK-47 is a legit shot blocker and a reputation for fouling. They’re also physical on the boards which leads to over the back calls and gives up fast breaks the other way, which leads to fouls trying to prevent layups. Thats puts them in the penalty early in quarters and thus allows non shooting fouls to equal FTs. SA is the anti-Utah. They are one of the least fouling teams in the league, have a legit shot blocker and emphasize getting back on D instead of offensive rebounds. It’s whole different philosophy.

    The other issue is that this is the WCF. It’s going to be physical and so long as the refs let both teams play, there should be no complaining. SA took 10 FTs in game 2, a franchise low for a playoff game. Parker and Manu get hit in the paint and Manu gets reached in on all the time, no call. So long as it’s the same both ways, play through it. I also believe the reason they don’t call Bowen for more body fouls is also why they don’t call Kobe for pushing off or extending his forearm: they’re both physical competitors and they both can play through it. As a ref at this point in the playoffs, why would you want to decide a game by helping either guy get in foul trouble? If they’re gonna put Bowen on the bench for that then they have to put Gasol there too cause he gets away with contact on Duncan, but why make this series be decided by Turiaf and Udoka? Unless it’s legit, play through it.

    Lastly, Phil made a great choice to involve TD in his pick and roll. It pulls him away from the basket and give LO a chance to finish there. Pop also did well to run a more motion offense; the Spurs are at their best when everyone gets involved and Barry is key bench guy for that. His passing and deadly shooting open up the floor. Game four will be interesting because though I wouldn’t count on Manu scoring 30 again, a 20 point game from him is enough for SA to win. Parker still hasn’t had a break out game and TD can get 28+ at anytime in this match up. I still say these teams are quite even and a 2-2 series would prove just that.

  14. I think following Turiaf is a given, but I’d also like to follow Sasha. Watching his in game defense is fascinating to me, the way he’s always fighting through screens, keeping his hands up and active, and doing everything he can to harass Ginobli.

    Defense can be taught to some degree, but really it’s about desire. I don’t think Kupchak drafted Sasha with any hope that he would put this much effort into the defensive end, but here he is, the closest thing we have a Bowen.

  15. I’m wondering if it’s actually a good strategy to just give up defending the J, or hedge strongly toward stopping the drive against Kobe.

    Anyway, the enforcer thing will be difficult, since the Lakers have, at least according to one article, morphed into a euro-centric team with an emphasis of not fouling, etc.

  16. Mark the Filipino May 26, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    One thing I noticed was that the Lakers’ energy was not there.
    In the past 2 games, the Lakers were stellar defensively. They were holding SA to 37.5% shooting especially in the 3-pt line ( 25.6%). They were averaging 7.5 steals and 6.5 blocks, compared to Game 3′s 5 steals and NO blocks performance.
    They were playing defense well for at least the first quarter and a half, but the problem was, they were not shooting well. Kobe was doing his thing, and as you pointed out (because of Kobe making his first 3 shots), his teammates probably went too much to him.

    I would like to see a lot more aggressiveness + good shot selection from both Fisher, Odom, and Gasol.

    I’m glad Farmar is playing pretty well.
    I hope to see Ariza on Parker.
    and I’m still a believer on Sasha versus Manu.

    Like the Fanalyst said, Manu probably played his best shooting game of the series. I don’t see him doing anymore damage (That much) as he did in Game 3.

  17. Mbenga! there’s your enforcer.

  18. Why was Gasol practicing his shooting stroke every time he missed a shot, instead of getting back on D?

  19. What are your thoughts on game 4?

    Lane
    http://LosAngelesSource.com/

  20. I love the idea of following Ronny during a game instead of Kobe. I watch the game on TV anyway and just having another video screen open on my computer during the game of Ronny dancing would make the experience that much more pleasurable.

  21. I agree with you, Kurt, about Kobe’s decision to “take over” early. It’s a road game in SA, trust Kobe to set a comfortable pace, which he did, early on. calm the crowd..Lamar needs to trust his game, be stronger on his cuts. With his agility, there’s no reason he can’t get into good POST position through the triangle if he’s making proper cuts. He’s still good for that

    Fish is fine, just should try to pick on parker in transition more, though, but it’s tough doing everything you can to keep TP in front of you. And I really like Vlade’s contributions, Turiaf, Farmar, playing pretty tough – game 3 was a bit of a shellshock..

    It really comes down to Pau and Odom, whether or not we win this series. They don’t need to be superstars by any means (esp. LO)…just fill the roles they’ve been doing. Really, they need to match Duncan & Obertos’ work down at the other end. Pau’s gotta start going towards duncan a little stronger, try to throw down in Timmy boy’s face once (it is capable), do something to say I’m here, you can’t guard me either sometimes..

    Lakers in 5. Let’s come out strong, boys!

    PS espn will drive you crazy second guessing your team – After all, we got the Mamba right?

  22. I just can’t believe how Kobe just cannot win…
    - Get teammates involved early, score later (ie Game 1) should’ve taken over earlier
    - Take the lead on the road and actually make good percentage of shots (ie Game 3), took his teammates out of rhythm

    Kobe cannot shoot for Lamar, Pau, or Fisher. The guy plays a good game (and actually gave his team a fighting chance down the stretch) and Dwyer & Co has the gall to even point to him as the culprit. What the heck does he have to do to be trusted?

    Kobe ain’t perfect, but to blame him for Game 3? Come on.

  23. 11. I’ve always called him Vladman, it’s just my own take on it. I know most people stick with the traditional VladRad. I have a hard time switching over, both in writing here and verbally when watching the games. Just so you know I’m not an idiot and/or prone to excessive typos.

    I predict a much tighter game tonight. I’d love to see one of those “whoever has the ball last” games. Especially if Kobe has the ball last. Go Lakers!

  24. I would hate to bother you with my usual hoopla about Lakers optimism, but it is necessary! :)

    Game 3 was Spurs to win, not ours to lose. I do not think that these Lakers are so arrogant that they were pondering sweep and these Spurs are definitely not so disgruntled to agree. Spurs had a lot of things going their way in Game 3. The standard things: Home court, raving crowd, referee’s minor sympathy, desperation and most importantly familiarity of circumstances. SOme of the non-standard things that went their way included (and to a certain extent could be predicted in advance) : LA being over excited about what they could have accomplished, LA role players not believing that they could actually beat Spurs three in a row, Manu Ginobilli having a terrific game which is characteristic for super players no matter injured or not, Popovich making adjustments on offense and the pure validaity of statistical probability. LA and SA are so good it is impossible to say one is better than the other. Think of it as a head or tail toss-up. The chances of tossing 3 heads in a row are very very small when the probability is 50/50 given similar quality of teams.

    That said, nothing was new for me in Game 3. As I have noted before, I expected this to happen. And I am sure the Lakers will still win in 5 games. This was a game Spurs had to get simply because they are not sweep-material.

    Game 4 will be different trust me. To a certain extent I am actually glad the Lakers lost. Now they will not be over-believing themselves and underestimating opposition (which could have happened in the NBA finals if Lakers swept the Spurs). Phil realizes Manu is walking on one leg and will not erupt for 30 like he did in Game 3. He also understands that stopping the Spurs goes through eliminating Tony’s drives. I expect to see a lot of zone in game 4, with Fisha and Probably Odom blocking the lane at the top of the key. That will force Tony to go sideways and will mean either of two things: 1) Spurs perimter players will have to move around as well from the comfort zones (Bowen and Finely) and/or 2) less efficient passes into Duncan from the wings. Duncan will have his numbers and I have no problem with that, I just do not think Tony and Manu will duplicate theirs’.

    On the other hand, Gasol will probably be big in Game 4. I expect Lakers to call a lot more plays for him. Because 1) he can certainly finish/shoot and 2) he can put it on the floor and get Spurs bigs into uncomfortable positions of having to foul and/or give up on their man. I see Pau getting around 22 pts, 9-10 rebs, 5-6 asst. Oberto, Thomas and Horry are in for a hussle night.

    Fish will be the key without having the ball. His ability to pump up other guys with his stares and mini-advices are invaluable. Also his ability to hit big shots from outside will force Tony to stay more on Fish rather provide some blind defense help. Fish will probably finish with 11 points (2 3-pointers, a basket and 3 Fts), 3-4 assts and 2-3 steals

    Radmanovich will show up for the Game 4. I am sure of it. This guy is very effective at going on vacation for couple of games so that teams fall asleep on him and then erupts for good offensive night. RadMan will probably get in the range of 14-16 points, 3-4 rebs and 2 assts. Those are terrific numbers for him

    Kobe will be agressive. He understands that now is the time to prove himself as a top notch player. Everyone knows he is a top talent, and best all-around player but in order to reach the greatness you have to put the team on your back. I do not think He will score 25+ but he will have a triple double with 10 rebs and 12 assists. Most of his points will come from the FT line as he will be playing off of the strategy to make Pau the primary scorere. His drives to the basket will free up Pau and Odom and give kobe perfect opportunities to rack up assists on Pau/Odom/Turiaf easy dunks.

    Odom will be the primary beneficiary of all this. He will have sort of a free role on offense. Just go around and make sure everything is going fine with the team and if something is not clicking just be there for a putback, rebound or a dunk.

    Lakers in 5, Our team is too good to doubt it!!!

  25. Don,

    It has less to do with Kobe the person or the player and more to do with that offense. The Triangle needs to start from the inside/out early in games. It has to establish spacing early on, get players used to cutting away from the ball, the Lakers (or any team that runs it) has to gauge how the defense is deciding to cover certain angles of the offense, and then make decisions from there. That was the case when Jordan was in the midst of it, when Ron Harper and Randy Brown were trying to run it during 1999, and with Jackson’s Lakers.

    If Kobe tweaked his ankle, missed the game, and Lamar Odom had come out and missed the same shots, he would have gotten the same treatment. You wouldn’t have bothered to comment, but he would have gotten the same reaction from me.

    I’m sorry for getting angry, but this is what makes it impossible to have a cogent back and forth with some Laker fans because of the burn that follows Kobe’s name.

    Then these fans decide not to go and look back at what certain writers say about other games (a la, my take on Game 1) before putting words in my mouth that don’t fit. Would you do that with political commentary, taking two points of view from either side of the left/right spectrum, coupling them, before deducing that a politician “can’t win?”

    Did you actually see what I wrote in Game 1 before you made your comment?

    “*Kobe Bryant may have only taken three shots, making one, in the first half; but he wasn’t acting as some sort of benevolent master, keeping his teammates’ hands warm. He was just playing smart basketball, taking what the defense gave him (this is a guy who opened up the game on the first possession taking a open jumper, what the defense gave him). Throw in a four and a half minute rest to start the second quarter, and that’s how two-point halves result.

    It wasn’t his fault that his Laker teammates weren’t hitting shots, or putting up some lousy perimeter looks.”

    It’s the OFFENSE, people, not the KOBE. Stop freakin’ making it about Kobe just because he’s part of the story. There are five players on that floor, and sometimes one of them hurts the offense more than he helps it. And sometimes, less often than most, that person is Kobe.

    Christ.

  26. Let me finish with this:

    It is possible that some writers are so involved in their work and the games themselves that they don’t really have the time (assuming they had an inclination to begin with) to develop a bias, or to overlook what is real and what is the truth in order to sustain that bias.

    It’s also possible that, after a while, fans of certain teams make it harder than most to stay away from the trappings that seem to take in so many others. Talk to me in three years, assuming I’m still putting up with this crap.

  27. A few thoughts after reviewing the tape.

    On defense. For the most part, the defense on Manu was good. His 22 1st half points carried the Spurs when they came out flat. Good for him. His 8 second half points were not the reason that the Spurs broke the game open. For some reason, the Lakers played confused on D. They got themselves into mismatches without a whole lot of work on the Spurs part. Fish on Duncan, LO on Parker. The Spurs exploited these mismatch situations and got the Lakers scrambling resulting in easy buckets.

    The Lakers went the to blindside trap against Duncan only once, resulting in a steal by Rad. Look for this more often.

    On offense.

    1. After 10 plus years competing against Phil, Pop has devised an anti-triangle defense that worked well in the last game. Play Pau straight-up, let Lamar shoot and use his man to give support to Bowen. Every body else stays with his man to prevent an open 3. Basically, the triangle’s weakness is that once that balls goes into the post, there is not much off-the-ball picks to free up shooters. Against other teams, Pau was doubled, resulting in a collapsing defense for either easy 3’s or cuts by Lamar. Played straight-up, Pau was looking for teammates who for the most part were standing around. This is the reason no outside shooter could get his shot off except for Kobe.

    Only one sequence had the Lakers execute the last sequences of the triangle which call for sharp cuts to the basket by wing players with the ball in the low post. Kobe cut, received a bounce pass from Pau and dunked easily. Look for more of this especially from Lamar and Kobe. The issue is that to beat this defense will require advanced triangle. Not simple triangle. I bet Pau picks it up quickly.

    2. Make Lamar an outside shooter. One of the primary sequences of the triangle is a pass out from the post to the weakside wing for a 15 footer from the PF. Think Horace Grant. The Spurs are daring Lamar to shoot this. Instead of giving the ball up and flashing to the hole, Lamar is trying to take it in himself against congestion resulting in a missed shot or charge. The Lakers need to consider switching hi-lo with Pau and Lamar and make Lamar work from the right low block as the primary (instead of Pau on the left low block) and either swing in for his hook or pass out to Pau ( who hopefully can hit the 15 footer).

    Yes more energy is needed but really a bit more poise, patience, and IQ. BTW , assuming Farmar is quicker than the geriatric and crippled Barry, I’d like to see him beat Brent off the dribble just once.

  28. In our entire run in the playoffs, this is the game that interests me the most, by far. In our game 4 against Utah, despite Kobe’s gimpy back, we came very close to winning in regulation…only to lose in overtime. I hope to see the same type of push that the team provided late in that game for the entire 48 minutes tonight.

    As for some strategy…The Spurs did what Utah did when they went home: They opened up their offense with more motion sets in order to get our defense in a reactive mode. Players were moving off the ball and setting good screens to the point that we were not able to recover in time and run shooters off their sweet spots. Tonight, we’ll need better off ball defense on the Spurs role players in order to get them out of rhythm. We can’t let guys like Barry, Finley, Udoka, or even Oberto get the type of wide open looks they got in game 3. These guys will make these shots at home. I know that they didn’t kill us in game 3, but they did hit some daggers and really had some shots that shut down potential rallies. (Note, I’m not even going to mention Ginobili or Parker. Those guys played the way they were supposed to play. Sure we can limit them more….I actually think we should give Ginobili the AI treatment and deny him entry passes all over the court and out to the 3pt. line where if he back cuts it’s into the teeth of the defense, but besides that just don’t let him touch it if you can.)

    We also need sharper execution on offense. I’d like to see more strong side ball entries that lead to many of the cuts and screens that give the triangle it’s precision. Too many times, we are getting the weak side entry with a post iso for Gasol or Kobe (Odom has been getting looks here as well) and everyone else is standing around on the other side of the court watching. We can’t do the stand around offense against a strong defensive team like the Spurs. Against Utah or Denver, that’s fine because those teams don’t rotate well and don’t have the defensive principles or execution needed to stop scorers like Kobe or Gasol. But the Spurs do. Their 2 best defenders (all league quality guys, to boot) are consistently matched up with our 2 best offensive players. That means that in order to open up our offense we need to get back to active ball and player movement in order to get the Spurs older players rotating and chasing rather than set up in that phalanx formation that stifles penetration and interior passing. We need to occupy off ball defenders with movement and attack with our passing. Remember what Kobe said after game 1: “I can get off anytime.” Now while that is a little arrogant, we know that Kobe *is* the best shot creator in the entire league so we need to try and get the rest of the guys going in order to get the flow of the game and the momentum going in our direction. Kobe can get his, but his job becomes easier when the rest of the guys are threats offensively. And he can create for others so much better when shooters are making shots and player movement is occupying defenders. So, we need stong screens, hard cuts, and crisp passing off the ball to create lanes for Gasol, Kobe, and Odom to make plays (whether passes or their own shots).

    Lets get a win tonight.

  29. I like your thinking Bill Bridges,

    I would love for Pau to play off of Odom in the post for some high low action. The result is that 15 ft jumper that Pau is inclined to hit. There were some of those opportunities last game but Pau didn’t have his shot falling.

    I also noticed a lack of movement once Pau got the ball, and Coach Jackson noted that there was too much iso for Pau, and that there should be more ball movement.

    I hope the wrinkles you suggested and more will be instituted today. Can only wonder what adjustments will be made.

  30. carter blanchard May 27, 2008 at 10:54 am

    As a lot of people pointed out before the series, our best matchup at any given time should be Lamar against Oberto or Horry. I think Lamar senses this and has felt the need to be aggressive, creating things 1-on-1. The consequence of this, in part thanks to amazing team D and in part to surprising effectiveness from the Spurs’ PFs, is a lot of missed layups. Lamar looks like pre-Pau Lamar. It reminds me of when there’s a switch on D and a guard is being covered by a big so the guard feels compelled to exploit the mismatch, but often fails because he’s trying to do more than he’s comfortable with. Lamar needs to go back to picking up the scraps the defense leaves him, going off for one his highly efficient 7-10 type of nights, rather than trying to force the issue and ending up with another 2-11 night. I worry he’ll try overcompensating for Friday’s poor performance which could compound the problem.

  31. carter blanchard May 27, 2008 at 10:55 am

    (oops I meant Sunday’s game. Mem. weekend made me lose track of days)

  32. I don’t think it holds up that Pau and Odom were less aggressive because of Kobe. Pau took 17 shots, (most of those before the 4th), which is above his average. He just wasn’t doing much to actually make them count. Odom also had assists and FGAs, they also just weren’t going in. And they both clearly became frustrated and gave up in the third quarter from what I could see.

  33. Game 4 chat post up