Lakers/Spurs Game 4 Chat

Kurt —  May 27, 2008

Tonight could be one of the best and most entertaining games of the playoffs — I just have that feeling.

Coming back home, the Spurs opened up the motion in their offense — that got some role players like Brent Barry open looks. They also had a fantastic game from Manu Ginobili, one that must have Phil Jackson thinking of giving Kobe some key moments on him defensively if it happens again (I’d be worried about all game only because Manu could get Kobe in foul trouble).

To counter, the Lakers have to stick with their men and be smart and quick in their rotations. The Lakers did a reasonable job on the big three last game (Manu was just hot) but they did a less impressive job on the role guys. Those guys can score with open looks — even Oberto. Darius had thoughts on this:

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.)

But as we said the night of the game, the problem was not the Lakers defense but really that the offense. Here, friend of the site KD is right — the Lakers need to get into the offense early, get the motion going rather than becoming a more stagnant team.

Tonight, that particularly means getting Odom and Gasol the ball in places they can succeed and players can work off of them. Bill Bridges had some ideas about this:

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).

I had said after the last game I wanted to see Pau be more aggressive going to the hoop, but the more I think about it the more I think it is a mix of what Drrayeye and Darius thought as well — driving into a crowd isn’t the answer. The Lakers need to get Odom the ball in a better position for him to exploit mismatches, but when Odom gets in that spot he needs to attack with more aggression. Same is true of Gasol. Part of that could be on plays in transition or early in the clock before the Spurs defense sets, when mismatches can occur. Push the pace.

Along those same lines, the Lakers bench needs to come in, push the pace and get some easy buckets in transition (or in mismatches early in the clock). The Spurs bench players were energized at home, they played far more comfortably, and that seemed to make our bench guys recoil a little. Tonight they need to attack.

One other thing to look for tonight — the Ronny Yellowbook Cam. For some opposing views, check out Spurs Dynasty and Pounding The Rock.

Kurt

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50 responses to Lakers/Spurs Game 4 Chat

  1. The Lakers are saying all the right stuff. Odom has taken some blame, Phil has challenged Gasol (who has accepted) and Fish has stated they will execute properly on both ends. I trust this team, they know what they did wrong, and I am confident we will spread the court on offense (allowing us to score) and choke off the 3pt line (which will bring the Spurs back to the 80s)

  2. warren…dude? wake up! you missed it again man.

  3. I posted with Warren’s spirit in my mind.

  4. it was all about offensive execution. Kurt, KD, et al. hit this one on the nose. I would actually place Pau lower in the post this game. This would force SA to change their scheme against him as the focus. Let him challenge and beat Timmy one-on-one. Once the help comes, run back door. Pau says he is up to the challenge, challenge him.

    We also need to get Fisher, Sasha, and Luke more involved in this game. Coming off of lackluster performances, these guys need to get decent looks and play smart.

    I think the Laker D is fine. I predicted SA was going to have one great shooting game where they would nail from the outside. hats off to them. Keep giving them the 20 ft+ open looks and let them try to duplicate. Odds are they will be over-confident and will struggle to find their rhythm until much later in the game tonight.

  5. I gotta say, the posts over at Pound the Rock are pretty funny.

  6. Warren Wee Lim May 27, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I fully entrust the blessing towards kwame a.’s post guys. Its 3am in the Phils.

  7. carter blanchard May 27, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Trouble: Kobe has passed up Ronny on the yellowbook cam. 40 – 37 currently. Keep fighting!

  8. Vote for Ronny Turiaf for the TNT Overtime Player Cam. He is just a few % points behind Kobe right now and would absolutely be comedy gold. The link to the site is in my name. Thanks!

  9. Tonight is an anything goes game. Kobe could score 40 and lose. He could do a 28 and 8 and be victorious. Manu could struggle with his ankle and Spurs lose. Or he could just have a solid 20 and Spurs win by double digits. Who knows? End of the day, if SA role players named Barry, Udoka, Finley and/or Horry hit open shots, especially from 3, LA can’t win. If they struggle, then SA only wins by having monster games from Duncan and either Parker or Manu, with the other posting a solid 20. Less than that and LA likley wins. They’d only need a huge Kobe game or typical Kobe and Gasol with a hot Odom to pull of a road win if SA is below par.

    One big question, if both teams play at or near their best, who wins? I see these teams as quite even, with LA being more versatile and quick on offense and SA more stout and committed on defense. In such a best case scenario for both squads I’d say the home teams wins. Will both be at their best? SA is more desperate but LA will be in game 5 should they lose tonight; will their young guys recognize and take that pressure on and do so without wilting?

    Many questions. One item that has been answered: Joey Crawford, lead ref tonight. David Stern is trying to help LA so I say they better take advantage. That means he won’t ref another game this series.

  10. Looking at past NBA drafts – the trade for Horace Grant led to the Lakers giving up a #1 – #27 in 2001, who ended up being Jamaal Tinsley, one pick before Tony Parker. Wow.

    Does anyone know why the Lakers gave up their 1995 1st round pick to Phoenix? (It ended up being Michael Finley.) As far as I can tell, the Ceballos-Horry traded didn’t include that pick…

    Also interesting – the Spurs traded Leandro Barbosa for a future #1 that they included with Malike Rose to get Nazr Mohammed. That helped them win the championship, but that pick ended up being David Lee. Funny how such things work out.

    Of course, trading draft picks can’t be mentioned on a Lakers forum without this question – what if Rod Thorn didn’t overrule John Calipari and took Kobe Bryant instead of Kerry Kittles? Would Kobe really have held out and forced a trade?

  11. I love this site. Can’t imagine watching a Lakers game without it. And I have to admit……..SpurredOn, you are giving some great analysis from the “other side”. Keep up the good work. A healthy discussion is always welcomed here (if I can speak on Kurt’s behalf).

    I really hope to see Ariza in the game today (but then again, I’m an Ariza-homer). I’d like him on Ginoboli or Parker.

    By the way, wanted to get some people’s opinion on this: What is our best defensive lineup (for me it is Kobe, Ariza, Sasha, Gasol, LO)? And what lineup do you want at the end of the game (Kobe, Sasha, Fish, Gasol, LO – only b/c Sasha is more proven at this point than Ariza)?

  12. Just to mention that Pop made a good adjustment by shifting Barry into the backup PG position. Less minutes for Vaughan gotta be good for the Spurs, right?

    If I were Farmar, my eyes would light up and would be taking Barry to the hole every single possession.

  13. Just voted Ronney and its 35%-35%, KB to RT. The Lion’s Mane is coming on strong.

  14. the other Stephen May 27, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    that’s RIGHT. break those antique spurs ankles, farmar. break them all. down with the san antonio TUNING FORKS.

    has anyone noticed how critical the media has been of boston throughout the playoffs?

  15. 9- “One big question, if both teams play at or near their best, who wins? ”

    I think that at their peak performance L.A. would win because of their length, athletic ability and shooting up and down the roster. However, I think that outside of ideal conditions the Spurs play a lot closer to their peak mode at any given point than the lakers do. That’s why their defense can be so stifling while the Lakers’ D is often lackluster. If every Laker played up to their potential on D they should be as good as anybody, but it doesn’t happen often, except for stretches.

    To me that might be the main difference between the teams. The Lakers have more “talent” and potential but the Spurs are the best team in the league at Actuating their potential.

  16. aB – Thanks for the compliment. Much appreciated.

    BillBridges – Pop using Barry as teh backup PG goes back to the ’05 Finals. Then, Udrich was too trunover prone vs the Piston press and Pop wanted someone he trusts to handle the ball. Brent is a great passer with tremendous hoops IQ. Obviously in the genes. He certainly can be adefensive liability but Pop doesn’t mind that. He enjoys baiting a team to go one on one. If Farmar goes at him every possession, that means Kobe, LO and Gasol aren’t getting touches. It also means he drives right into the heart of the Spurs team D.

  17. SpurredOn-Laker fans aren’t exactly enthralled with Joey Crawford either. I hope the refs aren’t the tipping point tonight.

    One thing I can see Phil doing, especially if Barry is playing the back-up 2, is going to a lineup with Sasha at the 1, Kobe, Ariza, Odom and Gasol. This would put the lineup aB mentioned, and counter the Barry move.

    Another possible adjustment Phil can make is (along the lines drrayeye mentioned) going with the lineup that worked well in the Game 1 comeback, Farmar, Sasha, Kobe, Vlad, Gasol.

    Regardless of what adjustments are made, we need to get back to balanced scoring and strong effort on defense.

  18. Sorry-meant Barry playing backup 1

  19. A line up of Sasha/Kobe/Ariza/LO/Pau…Only in my dreams. Too good. Never is gonna happen. That team could switch every single pick on the perimeter which means no penetration, no open shots. Imagine the traps and steals with Kobe/Sasha/Ariza… kinda like USA vs Angola….

  20. The Lakers line up is so versatile that I think the subs will be coming in frequently tonight if the offense continues the way it did in Game 3. Ariza should be getting a few minutes earlier in the game today as he has proven he can move well and is in shape to run, for a given period of time at least.

    And, I am once again hosting a Live Blog for the game that I invite everyone to join. Don of With-Malice.com and Khandor of Khandorssportsblog.com have been participating in every game. TCO of Myinnerfan.blogspot.com has also been a great contributor to the conversation.

    Join us tonight at game time on http://www.LABallTalk.com

  21. The Lakers will need to continue to show that they can learn from their mistakes and build on their successes. They did this against Utah and must continue to be good students in their NBA playoffs 101 class.

    Barkley has said that the Spurs big 3 would have to score 90 points to beat the Lakers. Now I know that is a typical Chuckster exaggeration, but I think that keeping those guys out of their rythym bleeds to the rest of the team.

    Will,
    The first round pick was involved in the trade that brought Jet Ski Ceballos to the Lakers in the first place. The trade that sent him back to the Suns was Ced and Rumeal Robinson for Horry.

  22. Via Ball Don’t Lie, something to lighten the mood before an intense game 4:

    http://lakers-fan.com/?page_id=3

  23. The Dude Abides May 27, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    One thing from the previous thread regarding Odom that’s been overlooked on the national blogs and the Laker-centric blogs is that Horry is still a damn good defender in his limited minutes. Lamar’s weaknesses on offense are his focus and his outside shot, while his strengths are his length and his handle. Horry’s strengths on defense are his craftiness, his length, and his quick hands. Horry has won this matchup in two out of the three games, and Lamar doesn’t play as well when he tries to dominate. I’d like him to play aggressively but smart, and look for his opportunities more often when he’s matched up with Oberto.

  24. The Spurs used more motion in their offense in Game 3. To avoid the fatigue factor, Popovich went to his bench; discounting the minutes to Bonner and Vaughn, Popovich went to a 10 man rotation. Because of their superb play, the bench afforded their starters adequate rest. So, I believe one key to Game 4 is how the Laker bench battles their counterparts, especially on the defensive end. They can force Popovich to play his starters more minutes than he’d like, and hopefully that will spell the difference in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

  25. Chibi-I agree. Luke,Jordan,Sasha,Ronny, they have to bring it tonite, but so do the starters. To win it will take the oldest most tired cliche in the book…a total team effort.

  26. Good points by Bill Bridges – (that Bill Bridges)?

    Is Pau still hurt? I haven’t seen quick spin moves against Duncan. Pau also doesn’t seem to be elevating on his jump hooks. After all, he wasn’t putting up “weenie” shots until recently.

    Frankly, methinks Lamar’s ability to hit (or not to hit) the mid-range jumper will go a long way to determine if he is the small foward next year when Bynum returns. Those aren’t difficult shots he is being given. Seems pretty smart – Lamar likes being the #3 option, so Pop makes him the #1 option in terms of available shots – but a shot Lamar doesn’t have much confidence in. It screws up the offense when he passes it up. Maybe switching Pau and Lamar could work.

    If the Lakers were going to lose anyway on Sunday they should never have let the role players get confidence by giving them open looks. Barry, et al getting confidence does not bode well.

    Regarding Kobe, just a wild, probably stupid thought: If Bowen is “making him a jump shooter” then so what. He can make those shots all day. The problem is Kobe trying to facilitate when he can’t get to the hoop. So maybe Kobe should just go for 60 tonight. If he gets hot, that will open things up eventually. Screw what the commentators say, sometimes he needs to just demonstrate WHY teams have to double and triple team him. Face Bowen up and drill the J, again and again! Then foul Bowen out and feast on Udoka.

  27. The thing with J’s(or anything that the other team willingly gives) is that it makes your teammates a bit complacent, while making it predictable to the other team. No way in hell that we can win with Kobe firing 44 shots – it isn’t just because of execution that the Lakers keep saying that good defense comes from good offense. Players need to be alert at both ends, and it’s a lot easier to lose focus if you’re not doing much on offense.

    If both teams are at their best, I don’t see anyone really beating the Lakers, because, uhm, I don’t know if anyone other than LeBron can really match Kobe at his best, and that’s just on offense. Besides Lamar can be a beast on the boards at his ‘best,’ and urgh, if we’re speaking in hypothetical terms, we’d have to include Bynum and…

    Let’s hope Kobe can find his drive, at least. The game should be much easier if we can reduce the Spurs’ defense to ‘can’t do anything but foul at this point.’

  28. TimmyDtherealMVP May 27, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    The Lakers defense was ranked 19th during the regular season. They are not known for being able to play ‘shutdown’ defense and agianst a team that executes so well like the Spurs. the idea of the Lakers defense disrupting the Spurs offense is almost laughable. Simply put, the Lakers have to do what they do best and score points. Right now they are averaging 91.4 points a game in this series as opposed to their previous average of 109.9 points per game. Spurs in 6

  29. 28-using more advanced metrics, the Lakers is defense is better than what you make it out to be.

  30. Anywhere to watch online (other than the TNT player feeds)?

  31. If Ariza has any impact,it will be more on offence. He can’t shoot jumpers,he gets his by driving to the hoop.
    If Ariza gets ant meaningful run,he has to take it strong to the basket a few times. That would loosen the Spurs D enough to get some space for the shooters.

  32. Mark the Filipino May 27, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Hi everyone! I’ve got my keys for tonight :

    Get the Triangle going – One thing I’ve noticed in Game 3 was that the Lakers were rushing shots that they wouldn’t necessarily take. They were so down in a big hole that they tried to make things happen by taking quick shots. The beauty of the Triangle is in its passing; stretching patience until someone is open or has a good look. The Lakers only had 13 assists in Game 3, much, much different than Game 1 (18) and Game 2 (20).

    Defense, LA, Defense – Another thing I’ve noticed was that the Lakers’ energy in Games 1&2 was not showing up. Prior to Game 3, 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 ZERO block performance.

    The Fish-Odom Factor : Game 3 was , as Simon puts it, “utterly horrendous” for Lamar and Fish. They were the game-changer in Game 2, but were a no-show in San Antonio. They combined for 9 points in Game 3, a big step back from Game 2’s 31 points. I say let Fisher and Odom be the aggressors in tonight’s game early.

    I hope we blow them out today!

  33. I still like Sasha on Ginobili. I love Ariza too, but I think people might be expecting too much. After months off, it’s only been a few weeks that he’s been able to run normally. To expect him to slow down Ginobili, one of the hardest players to stop in the entire league when he’s on, is just asking too much, and I think Phil knows it. There’s nothing wrong with a new look, but I wouldn’t expect extended minutes for Ariza.

    Here we go. Almost tipoff time. Lamar, Pau, Fish, we’re counting on you….

  34. Game 4 Live Blog going on now. New post.

  35. Great start to that quarter, not a great end. Our offensive execution looked amazing at the beginning, even if our defense wasn’t outstanding. Walton changed the momentum of the game with his TO’s and missed bunnies. I expect Phil to stick with him, but I would really like to see more Radman.

    I think sometimes coaches sour on a player and never give them a fair shot afterwards. Pop was that way with Beno Udrich. I think Vlade has done a fine job tonight. He realizes they’re leaving him, he’s finding the open spaces on the floor, playing a more cerebral game than usual, and doing a decent job defensively. He’s earned more minutes.

  36. I know Phil is reluctant to play him, but can Ariza be any worse than Luke?

  37. 36 – He could be, to be honest. No idea whether his game timing is back, but if it’s not, he’ll probably have more TO’s than Luke.

    Luke’s picked his game back up nicely. But Vlade does most of what Luke does (tonight at least), but he also spaces the floor. He finishes much better and drives quicker too. Luke’s solid though, not slamming him.

  38. Mark the Filipino May 27, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    I don’t like the calls so far.

  39. In all fairness, they’re letting us play pretty physical on Duncan

  40. Kobe’s forcing way too much. And most of his forced shots are still jumpshots.

    Wow, the Spurs could actually have the lead after we played so well in that 1st half. That’s a downer.

  41. A serious foul call disparity going on here…touch fouls on the Lakers not being called on the Spurs. Apparently no one ever fouls Kobe.

  42. Mark the Filipino May 27, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Duncan averages more free throws than Kobe. That’s sick.

  43. Why the [insert expletive here] are they leaving Barry over and over again? Leave anybody but that guy.

  44. Ariza!

  45. ^^^ hahaha he must mean the obvious foul on barry by fisher, lolz

  46. Wow. We escaped. Bad clock management by Kobe, 2 missed FTs by Pau, airball by Fish…..and in all honesty, I do think Fish made a huge mistake jumping on that last shot. It’s generally accepted that the refs don’t like to decide the game on a last play, but bad play by Fish.

    We were lucky. They say every champion has some amount of luck, though. If Horry hadn’t hip checked Nash last year, the Spurs might never have won a title. Let’s make sure we close it out on Thursday.

    I’ve never seen Kobe make that many mistakes at the end of a game. That was the best defensive job I’ve seen on Kobe in a long time. Kudos to the Spurs.

  47. Kobe shoots 29 times and doesn’t shoot a free throw. Wow. Anyway, that was a team win, and that is what was necessary to win. Vlad and Luke gave us a big boost in the first half and LO and Pau came through in the second half. 5 game series. Let’s make that a reality.

  48. TimmyDtherealMVP May 27, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    The second chance points is what costs the Spurs the game. I don’t think they’ll put up much of a fight come game 5. But if I was the Lakers I wouldn’t take it for granted. Nothing really bothered me about the game except for Bryant’s snowbirding. Him and Walton always do it and it’s pretty pathetic.

  49. Mark the Filipino May 27, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    TimmyDtherealMVP , I’m sure you swallowed a pill tonight.

    Spurs in 6 looks ugly though.