The Strong Side Zone and You

Kurt —  November 3, 2008


Lakers fans, these three words are your new mantra, your new best friend:

Strong Side Zone.

When the season started we were generally saying, “if the Lakers defense can just be in the top 10 in the league we’ll be in good shape.” Well, three games is an infinitesimal sample size, but so far the Lakers have the best defense in the league, giving up 88 points per 100 possessions. Every time I see that number my jaw drops like a character in a Tex Avery cartoon.

The reason is two-fold, one is a mental commitment to defense and the other is the strong side zone they have committed to. What is that exactly? Why is it working? What are other teams going to do to counter it? Let’s talk about the strong side zone, and why it is good for you.

Simply put, whatever side of the court the opponents have the ball on, the Lakers do two things: 1) They pressure the ball with that players’ defender; 2) They try to float another defender (usually Gasol or Odom at the four) over to the side the ball is on (or strong side). The team essentially plays a sort of zone behind the man pressuring the ball (although it can look like the Lakers are playing a soft man-to-man, it is more a matchup zone).

The reason for doing all this is pretty simple — to stop penetration. It killed the Lakers last year when Chris Paul or Paul Pierce beat their man and drove into the lane at will. Now, if Pierce (or someone else) gets the ball on the wing, Radmanovic might be out pressuring him and taking away the jumpshot, but he is also “shading” him, trying to get him to drive one direction — to where the additional help is now located. Essentially, trying to drive him into a trap (of Gasol, Bynum or Odom). When the ball is at the top of the key, the Lakers have more of a 1-2-2 zone, but with man-to-man matchup principals.

Phil Jackson said in an Eric Pincus story at Hoopsworld that the motivation for this change in philology from his prior love of strict man-to-man was how the game is being called. His old Bulls and even Lakers teams (from the threepete years) could take away penetration by being far more physical, hand checking guys out on the wings. But in today’s no-touch NBA (at least on the perimeter), nobody singlehandly can slow a Chris Paul or a Tony Parker or a host of other players (including Kobe). What the Lakers are doing with this strong-side zone is slowing the penetration by overloading the side with the ball.

Having all those bodies on the strong side also helps the two weakest Laker man defenders — Fisher and Radmanovic — by giving them a lot of backup and allowing them to force a guy a direction rather than just try to stay in front of him. (Similar to how Pierce and Allen are covered for in Boston.) The Lakers are doing all this with long players, which (as a few of Gatinho’s friends said) also takes away some passing lanes. Darius also adds this:

We’re using the zone primarily to slow penetration, but to also show any offensive player who catches the ball the 2nd defender immediately and then make that offensive player either shoot quickly while not getting to the basket or to pass the ball (and hopefully make a forced pass where we can get in the passing lane and get a deflection or a steal).

It should also be noted that the Lakers second unit seems to be more aggressive with the trapping aspect of the defense. The guy pressuring the ball stays on the hip of the penetrator and pushes him into the corner or out in a location he can be trapped on the wing when he picks up his dribble.

So far the strong side zone has worked. Portland seemed to have no idea what hit them and settled for outside shots. The Clippers made some good plays but also made some pretty horrific skip passes and turned the ball over.

But no defense is perfect, it all can be beat, either by smart play or overwhelming individual effort. Can’t do much about the latter, that just happens, some nights a Gilbert Arenas goes off and you just have to admire him. But the former, smart play, we started to see out of the Nuggets (of all teams) and we can expect to see more from the top squads.

One thing Denver did was slip the screen (meaning a bit would go out and look like he was going to set the high screen for a pick and roll, but would roll out of it early and the defenders would not recognize it fast enough, leaving him open going toward the basket). Darius can explain:

Last (game) Nene did this several times and while he didn’t always receive the pass, it broke down the integrity of our rotations and it led to openings on the weakside for easy baskets because we couldn’t recover back to perimeter quickly enough to cover shooters after we tried to help on the diving player (or when we did actually recover to the perimeter, we were not closing out under control and the offensive player was able to penetrate easily past that closing out defender). (On a side note, realize that in an NBA zone, the paint can actually be a difficult part of the court to cover if the offense doesn’t plant a player in the post. Because of the defensive 3 second rule, we can’t stack our zone with a 3rd defender just covering the paint (with the other two creating that strong side zone look that we’re showing) and that makes the slip/dive on the P&R a tough play to defend. We end up with players straddling both sides of the paint and it leaves the area right under the basket open.)

Now, when you bring an extra defender over to the strong side, you are by definition leaving one less guy on the weak side, making you susceptible to skip passes (or just very quick ball movement). Also, as the season wears on, expect teams to counter what the Lakers are doing by setting screens on the weakside trying to shake a man free of his defender then having him flash to a location for the ball and a shot (or drive).

Quick guards are still going to give the Lakers fits, by the way. Iverson showed that (plus, you know, Iverson is an offensive force). Against Denver Iverson so badly beat the man covering him a few times that rather than going into a trap situation with the second defender, he was in a one-on-one with that defender, and from there passes to cutters and others open up, and the integrity of the defense breaks down. Chris Paul, D-Will, Parker, others are going to create this problem at times as well, and the person pressuring the ball (Fisher last night) needs not to lose his man that completely.

Clearly, the Lakers players have bought into this defensive philosophy, and that is as or more important than the philosophy itself. They are not doing the zone every time down, there is still man-to-man, but it is another arrow in the quiver and Jackson clearly is not afraid to use it. Other coaches are as well, I’ve seen a lot more zone this year than in years past, largely for the same reasons I would imagine.

Learn to love the zone, Lakers fans, it could help bring you a pretty new banner to hang in that place we call home.

Kurt

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62 responses to The Strong Side Zone and You

  1. If AI, Paul, and Deron can still beat the system (I still remember AI’s baseline dribble) what’s the point?

    Fron Denver’s game, at least, it looked like a team could really make us look dumb doing it when they pass right, and they really had a lot of good chances. Actually liked Denver’s defense more, except that Melo didn’t make the shots Kobe made (including free throws, which could’ve been the difference).

    Still, I agree that the thing to look for is not the system but the fact that the players have bought into the system, or rather, the emphasis on D that created the system.

    But still, as much i think and know defense to be important, my favorite play was Gasol’s lefty dunk over Andersen. Some serious payback mentality at work, there was. Something I’d really love to see against Boston from all of us…

  2. The defense does work, the amount of penetration against the Lakers is down, but there are players in the league that can break down any defense. How many times has Kobe done that? If there was a “perfect” defensive system everyone would run it. No defensive system can stop some guys, but what the Lakers are doing now is working very well. So far. And a light week of games with practice means they can refine it some.

  3. Bynum injures shoulder in practice but is expected to play on Weds against Clips. Hopefully it is as they report it, nothing serious.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-spw-lakeweb4-2008nov04,0,2252298.story

  4. Harold,
    “AI, Paul, and Deron can still beat the system ”

    They can beat ANY system. The point is making them work harder to do so. (i.e. do so at a lower efficiency.)

  5. The most important thing about this zone is this statement: “It is another arrow in the quiver and Jackson clearly is not afraid to use it.” The second biggest problem with the Lakers’ defense last year was the fact that the Lakers only had one look that they could throw at the opposition (the first was defensive commitment). When it worked, great, but when it didn’t (like against the Celtics), the Lakers had nothing they could do to mix it up and try to mess up the other team’s flow.

    This year is different. First, as the post so eloquently describes, the Lakers have the strong side zone. Second, the Lakers can throw multiple looks at teams now that they have a healthy and effective Bynum. They can go small, big, or very big, depending on which team is playing. If the Lakers can add a few more zones to their repertoire (a few more ‘arrows,’ if you will), the Lakers may finally be a strong defensive team.

    theartofsport.blogspot.com

  6. Another thing I like about our zone is that it puts the players into very specific roles and acting out very specific actions. One of the things that I’ve noticed about our team (and this was highlighted in the playoffs) is that some of our players don’t have very strong defensive instincts. (I could give many examples, but 2 are how we consistently let players drive in the opposite direction of the screen against both Utah and Boston when we wanted the driver to go over the screen and contend with the hedge AND how we consistently let players drive to the middle of the court). Playing this zone lessens the requirement of the players having strong defensive instincts. We’re telling them “Do THIS every time” and making the offense adjust to it. Now the players don’t have to rely on instincts on every play…on some of these plays they’re relying strictly on scheme. To me, this makes us a stronger defensive unit because it gets every player on the same page and reacting the same way to what the offense does. One thing that is easily noticed when you watch the strongest defensive teams (like Boston, Houston, and San Antonio) is how all 5 guys move together and react together in a way that makes it difficult for the offense to do any damage. I referenced this in another post a while back, but it’s like a phalanx in the movie 300, every guy is compensating for and cooperating with the guy next to him and there’s a strength that comes from that togetherness.

  7. About that Gasol trade:

    Marc Gasol, our throw-in in the deal, had 27 pts, 16 reb, and 3 blocks tonight…..

  8. 7) Aaron,
    When the trade was made, people who looked at it carefully saw that over the long term, there was a decent chance that Memphis would get the best of it. Marc Gasol was the equivalent of a mid-low first round pick. Obviously it’s too soon to tell yet, but if Memphis makes smart decisions with the draft picks, and Marc Gasol turns out to be decent, it will have been a good trade for them.

  9. 2, 4 – The defense seemed as if it was employed to stop those who we couldn’t stop, namely fast point guards, which it doesn’t. Sure I understand there’s no perfect defense (no matter how good you are, hail mary’s will go in every now and then) but if the system was placed to stop something, it better stop it. From the looks of it, it actually HELPS the people we’re trying to stop – that is, quick guards that can pass.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the Lakers working on a defensive system that will slow just about everyone… just have a problem with it being used to penetration, which, from the Denver game at least, didn’t seem to (some of it had to do with AI being AI, some of it had to do with Farmar not getting back, but still).

    As for the Gasol trade, it doesn’t matter how the trade turns out ‘in the end’ as long as we got something ‘in the beginning.’ Us going to the finals and having a happy Kobe was well worth the trade regardless of how good Marc Gasol turns out to be. Heck, the giddiness of this preseason alone was worth the trade. Besides, we needed someone close to Kobe’s window, not another project. I think i’d actually be perfectly happy to see Marc, Mo, Brian, Kwame, Smush, Javaris do really well and still not think the trades we made as bad ones.

  10. What was the defense that Boston employed in the Finals? Wasn’t that similar to the strong side zone as well? If so, why couldn’t we – as one of the best passing teams in the league, and also with the greatest superstar – break the defense down? I’ve never seen anything that effective at slowing Kobe down.

    Also, what defense did Detroit use in 2004? I seem to recall that Detroit played more man to man, leaving Prince to handle Kobe on his own, but I may be wrong.

  11. 9. I think you are missing what is happening if you think this defense makes it easier on quick wing players or PGs. Last year, how many times did the Chris Pauls of the world get by their man and have nobody between them and a dunk or layup. Now, the goal is to drive that player into the help. Even if someone like AI gets cleanly past his man there still is another defender in his path. If you want to look at Denver, they shot the best of anyone so far 51.4% (eFG%) and that is basically average. We’ll see how it goes throughout the season, but I think what the Lakers are doing is a huge step forward.

  12. 10. What the Lakers are doing, once I looked at it more closely, is somewhat different than what Boston did. I don’t want to steal another blogger’s thunder, someone is talking about this in a post later in the week (not at this site, but I’ll link to it), so I didn’t get into it.

    What Detroit did was essentially funnel all penetration to Wallace, who was at the peak of his game. They had some very good on-ball defenders such as Billups and Prince, but they had the defense designed to have Wallace as the backstop.

  13. In my limited experience of playing/watching basketball, the zone had the following effects:

    1. give lesser talented teams a better chance to defend
    2. allow players adjust to different teammates on the floor
    3. make defenses predictable.

    As we’re integrating a very intriguing lineups every day with multiple combinations (three seven footers, maybe three guards, etc) it’s good to have a system where players just need to know ‘where’ they’re supposed to be.

    As communication improves and familiarity is achieved, I seriously think we’re better off using the zone sparingly, because of the third aspect of a zone and because I think our players are generally long enough to cause problems as is. They just need to remember the principles like quick doubles, funnelling and rotations…

    Anyway, my concerns may be moot since the NBA will have many many options and counter options to prevent the opposing team from continually exploiting a zone, but there must be more than just infamiliarity that kept NBA coaches from employing the zone heavily…

  14. I love the Iverson trade for Denver, the Pistons and the Lakers…

    First off, for DET. They definitely got the best player in the deal. While there is a strong case for Chauncey here, but we aren’t talking about particulars like poise, defense or leadership. I am talking about the best player in the bunch.

    Secondly, the beaten up cap space argument for 09 and 10 and the go-to guy incentive that DET gets.

    Best of all for DET, its the shot for the younger guys to get the burn. Remember that Maxiell didn’t get extended for nothing. He is a legit NBA PF and part of me wishes we have a guy with his guts off our bench.

    I’ll continue this in another post… (i’m on my mobile phone so you could imagine the torture of text-writing this)

  15. This is the Pistons payroll for 08/09 to have a clearer picture:

    Richard Hamilton – 11,375,000.00
    Tayshaun Prince – 10,324,380.00
    Kwame Brown – 4,100,000.00
    Amir Johnson – 3,666,666.00
    Jason Maxiell – 5,000,000.00
    Rodney Stuckey – 1,805,040.00
    Arron Afflalo – 1,086,240.00
    Walter Sharpe – 736,420.00

    TOTAL – $38,093,746.00

    Assuming the cap next year is at 60m (very safe estimate considering the payroll this year is 58.68m) and we assume the Pistons pick would be at 1.9m on his 1st year, the Pistons will have 9 players and 40m of payroll. They will have a “possible” cap space of 20m for 2009.

    I say that the cap is “possible” and not absolute is because of the cap hold that the CBA provides for every team that has for its expirers. Since Sheed is owning a salary level of 13.68m he will have a cap hold of about the same amount (or a certain percentage of that more or less) and so with Iverson. The Pistons would need to renounce their rights to these 2 players to have the absolute 20m of cap.

    If my assumptions are correct, the MAX for every player having 1-6 years of experience could be no greater than 25% of the set salary cap. As for players with 7-9 years of experience, 30% and to those who have 10yrs and more, 35% of the said cap.

    This being:
    25% of 60m = 15m
    30% of 60m = 18m
    35% of 60m = 20m

    The said salary range applies only to the 1st year of the contract with bird rights applicable or not. With Birds, the team owning the player’s rights can offer a maximum of 6 years with 10.5% raises while the other teams can only get them for 5 years and a lesser % of raise (probably 8%).

    Taking all this into account, the best possible scenario for the pistons is to negotiate Allen Iverson to a decently-sized contract (my numbers lead me to 12m on the 1st year and 13m on the following) and renounce Rasheed Wallace’s rights in order to free up the cap hold of 13m which will disable them anyway. They sign someone for a contract of up to a 1st-yr salary of 8m (these contracts are rather big already so its a nice weapon) and can still pick up someone else via MLE (which will be about 6m flat for this year) – could still be Sheed in this manner, and they still have their LLE.

    The Pistons will then end up with still with Iverson but now with some 8m of cap space (starting salary) to work with. Yet after they decide to use this, they can still acquire someone via MLE which will only bring them to a 66m payroll and way below the tax line.

    SO as you can see, the Pistons are nowhere near happy with this deal. They are ecstatic!

  16. As for Denver, their payroll next year is at 74.5m that with only 8 players and with Kleiza not on board. This is their 08/09 payroll:

    Carmelo Anthony – 15,779,912.00
    Kenyon Martin – 15,363,636.00
    Chauncey Billups – 12,100,000.00
    Nenê – 10,520,000.00
    Antonio McDyess – 6,813,050.00 (assumed bought out)
    JR Smith – 5,500,000.00
    Steven Hunter – 3,696,000.00
    Renaldo Balkman 2,036,920.00

    AS you can see, the situation is different for Denver. While this deal is good for them, it puts them in a position to Have-To Win rather than “take-it-easy” like what they were after trading Camby.

    Kleiza will be an integral part of the plans as is the possibility of shipping out Kenyon Martin in a shorter deal (ala Bobby Simmons or Larry Hughes). While very speculative in nature, I seriously think NY is a good partner with a Kmart-Zbo swap.

    In terms of basketball, Billups does bring balance, poise and leadership to the team. While the best player is still Melo no doubt, the Nuggets will now have a calming presence in the locker room as is a clutch player to bank on who brings a defensive philosophy to the team.

    JR Smith will have a breakout season this year and so will the role of Nene becoming more and more vital by the day. If he can play up to 65-70 games this year, the Nuggets will have become better already.

  17. As for our dear Lakers, giving Boston some serious opponents will help us out. Cleveland already became better with Mo Williams manning the point… Detroit now gets better with a re-tool/quasi-rebuild trade while being high on its youth.

    Philly is also a serious team to watch out and Toronto seems to have things figured out early with a nice rotation themselves.

    Any trades involving strengthening the East helps us out. Not to mention the Strong Side Zone is something to be loving on.

    I miss FBG.

  18. marc gasol looked great haha

  19. When talking about defenses it is like talking about passing laws (or electing politicians) and thinking they will solve your problems. Nothing is ever perfect. All you can hope for is to move in a direction that does good things for your team (society). If you think you will ever get to your objective you will be sorely disappointed – there is no nirvana. We will always be refining our team, under the best of circumstances, and those refinements will only work for a limited time. That is why it is so important to enjoy what we have now and now spend too much time crabbing about what we need.

  20. I like the strong side zone so far. I think it has helped quite a bit in keeping people out of the paint. There will be games where a player or team will break it down and it won’t look to good. There were games last year where Boston’s D (basically the same thing the Lakers are trying to do) was broke down by good ball movement and cutting (against Utah for instance). But so far the D has definitely been improved.

    Against the rules but just reminding everyone to go out and vote today.

  21. Date for your diaries: Monday 22nd December.

    Lakers vs Grizzlies
    Gasol vs Gasol.

    Should be a good one to watch.

  22. for those questioning how the defense looked againt Denver, remember they shot 33% in the fourth quarter when the Lakers tightened the screws.

  23. The NBA is in a better position now in terms of a competitive league than it has ever been. With a slew of wily veterans (can you believe that T-Mac is 29?) and hordes of awesome young players, so many teams have a legitimate shot at a title if things break their way…

    Look at the playoff lineup in the west:

    1)Lakers
    2)Hornets
    3)Rockets
    4)Spurs
    5)Jazz
    6)Nuggets
    7)Suns
    8)Portland

    Any of these teams could win the West with a few lucky breaks. We are seeing a resurgence of the NBA in more markets than ever before in the league’s history.

  24. Off topic, but this thread has drifted away:

    Will Carrol on Greg Oden:

    http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=433

  25. I’m still very interested in how our defense develops over the coming weeks and months. We’ve already shown a better commitment to defense, whether we’re playing man or zone. And that is the most important aspect of our continued development on defense.

  26. Marc Gasol looked great against who? Golden State…with 27, 1, 16

    but against Chicago he was 3, 1, 8
    against Orlando he was 10, 3, 5
    against Houston he was 12, 1, 12
    averaging 13.0, 1.5, 10.3
    so that is not bad at all…but…I dont know…the numbers dont wow me…not yet at least…and Memphis is 2 and 2.

    Marc is going to be a good player…but I dont think he is going to be better than his brother.

    Tho I will say that Marc helped my fantasy team win the night!!! and Biedrin had 22 boards too!!!

  27. Thats interesting. Marc Gasol is averaging better numbers then our beloved 54million dollar center. Points is understandable because our team has many offensive weapons, but how about the rebounds??

  28. One of the things about the zone I like most is the fact that it essentially forces the Lakers to play more together. Like Kurt has noted, this has led to more communication on the court. On an even broader level, it improves the team chemistry by giving everyone a shared responsibility. This notion brings inclusivness and almost equitabily distributes the duties on defense, so no one player is forced to do more than they can.

  29. Getting back to the defense, I see a lot in common so far between this Lakers team and the 1995-96 Bulls. And I hate to say that since I hated the Jordan-era Bulls.

    Beyond the obvious Phil Jackson connection, you’re looking at a team lead by a fierce competitor (Kobe, Jordan) and a cohort who’d tasted wins in the past (Fisher, and the more-talented Pippen). The roster was filled out by some new pieces in each case, but the two biggest common threads were as follows:

    1) Both teams lost in the playoffs the prior year, against a team many claimed they’d never be able to topple. Jordan’s loss to the Shaq-era Magic drove him to come back harder the next year, and they did later down the Magic after a great regular season.

    2) And what made that regular season so great (besides the padded 72 wins that included cupcake expansion teams in Toronto and Vancouver, and the watered down rosters elsewhere from teams that had lost bench depth to the expansion draft . This is why that Bulls team deserves an asterisk for its best record of all-time, but I digress…)?

    The ’95-’96 Bulls played some of the best defense the league has seen in years. They got after it almost every night and shut down good teams with a will to lock up whomever may think of scoring. It’s very early, but if the Lakers can match that focus and intensity with the new scheme, they’ll be in great shape as the year goes on.

  30. Hollinger brings up the idea that Lakers could sign McDyess for MLE – I don’t really think we need him…

  31. It seems like the Lakers are finally maximizing their talent when it comes to defensive philosophy. The 3-peat teams were successful because they held their opponents to relatively low shooting percentages while maintaining a relatively high rate of defensive rebounding. With rule changes etc and our new found length, depth etc, it is important that Phil adapt strategy this way that doesn’t keep emphasizing 20th century defensive philosophy in 21st century rules.

    I am not feeling Lamar’s role on this team. If he can’t shoot, isn’t he just another big guy (of which we seem to have PLENTY?)

  32. #31-Mike,
    Lamar’s doing fine. He’s the first big off the bench and played crunch time minutes against Denver in our last game. And his ability to shoot is mitigated by his ability to drive, especially when he’s playing the majority of his minutes at PF. At PF he can take almost any defender that is going to guard him off the dribble (even elite defenders like KG), so I’m perfectly happy with the role that he’s playing right now for the team. And I would disagree that we have PLENTY of big men. We’ve got Bynum and Gasol (besides Odom). I don’t know about you, but if I have to choose between Odom and Mihm, I’m taking Odom. Between Odom and Powell?…Odom. Between Odom and Mbenga?…Odom. With LO on this team, our front court rotation is elite. No other team in the league has 3 front court players of the quality that we have. And the fact that we can have a rotation where at least 2 of them are on the court at all times is going to be one of the real difference makers for this team. Plus, this is a guy that has handled Marion and Boozer in recent playoff runs and now he’s coming off our bench. We’ll need this guy to play starter minutes at some point this season.

  33. 30,

    I completely agree. I think this is a case of Hollinger paying very little attention to anything outside of his numbers, which leaves him ill equipped to comment on free agents and trades. If we were going to pay a back-up big mid-level money, I think we would have kept Ronny. He knows the system, brought boundless energy, and fit in perfectly with our team chemistry. Not to mention the price tag was $1m cheaper.
    But regardless of the player, the MLE would cost the team $10m+, with the luxury tax, for a player who would likely see less than 10 minutes a night (Chris Mihm, our current 4th big, has only played 12 min through 3 games, none of them meaningful). A two year deal for Dice at $5m+ per would also make it that much harder to resign Lamar and Trevor next summer. I think that money would be much better saved for next summer to try to keep our current group together.

  34. 27. Forget the numbers. The Lakers are playing a 3-man front court rotation right now, With Bynum, Gasol (10.2/game) and Odom (5.7/game) all getting a chunk of the rebounds, not to mention that Kobe guy (7.7/game). I think Bynum has been good at grabbing boards so far, and doing a really good job altering shots defensively. He made a couple of especially solid clutch defensive plays at the end of the Nuggets game, even though he was playing with 5 fouls, which really showed his understanding of the role Jackson wants him to play. What I understand from interviews, Phil currently wants Bynum to be controlling the paint, making it hard for the other team to score (whether on dribble penetration or one-on-one against the other team’s big), box out the other big and try and grab some offensive boards. I’m happy with his play so far, irregardless of his or Marc Gasol’s rebounds/game, and don’t find that statistic discouraging in the least.

  35. 27. The role Bynum is asked to play on a championship caliber team and the one Marc Gasol is asked for on an young team learning to play together are radically different. We’re comparing apples and oranges here. Who is fighting Marc for rebounds? The Lakers have Pau, Odom, and Kobe, as Hassan pointed out.

    Not that Marc hasn’t played well, better than reports indicated out of Europe. But I thought he looked good in the Olympics. That said, I’d make that trade with Memphis 100 times.

  36. I know this is off topic, but has does anyone else here think we’ll sweep all games in our division?

  37. 36-Not to be short but, No. No way.

  38. My thought looking at the Golden State-Memphis box score was how BOTH centers dominated. Gasol with more points, Biedrins with more rebounds. But that just made me wonder about each’s defense. And note that neither team actually scored a lot of points. One player’s numbers on a bad team don’t tell you much.

    On a non-partisan, political note, I’ve been saying for a while now that this election is like a basketball game where the scoreboard is covered with a sheet until the game is over. Teams still work to score, but nobody is quite sure what exactly is happening. At each quarter, they might poll the people in the stands so that a consensus appears of what people THINK is happening, but until the sheet is removed, everybody is still nervous. And maybe the polling makes one team feel safe so nobody notices while the other goes on a run to pull out the win… My point is this: THAT WOULD BE A TERRIBLE WAY TO RUN A BASKETBALL GAME.

    Somebody just tell me who won so I can get on with my life.

  39. 21- Brother vs. Brother is going to be interesting indeed, after us having put on a Son vs. Father show last year.

    Lakers, where drama happens.

    19, 20, 25 – As stated before, I like the fact that we’re talking defense and committing to it. I don’t like the zone, but any sort of defensive commitment is better than a vague one.

    Lakers, where defense happens.

    … and we all know what defense wins…

  40. 36. Hahaha you’re almost as excited as me! :) But no, there will be injuries to deal with, foul trouble, bad shooting nights, great performances from other teams (who will single out the Lakers to try and take down), bad refereeing calls, tough back-to-backs and just way too many uncontrollable factors to reasonably expect to win em all. But hey, we can dream right?

  41. 39 – who was the father/son matchup? You’re not talking about the Karls are you? Coach vs Player is not really a matchup at all (unless it is practice, your name is Latrell, and your coach’s is PJ). WOW! I just thought of the greatest reality TV show ever! put both Dunleavy’s, both Waltons, and both Gasol’s in a house together with the Van Gundy’s running the show! Not funny enough for you? Make it the house from that little people show… and let Reggie and Cheryl do the commentary. I’d watch all day marathons of this on NBATV

  42. i think we need another game to talk about. SOON.

  43. 42. How about tomorrow? I think we can set that up.

  44. Anyone have a stream for the Celtics-Rockets game?

  45. We can talk all we want, but I think we will have a better understanding by the end of this week of just how good our Lakers really are or what areas they need to improve upon.
    We will have seen two physical teams that play decent D(Houston and Detroit) , one very quick team that is on a hot streak (Hornets) and an always competitite team that, although slow, should pose some interesting match ups for the Lakers (the Mavs).

    I think the addition of Iverson to the Pistons changes their defensive mindset, so we may very well have to wait until December 25 to find out just how improved our D really is against an eastern conference powerhouse. Personally, i think the game to watch willl be against the Rockets. Artest is a beast and I can’t wait to see who Phil puts on him (and hopefully does well).

  46. I meant.. by the end of NEXT week.

  47. So this stream works:
    http://www.justin.tv/furby08

    It’s a little laggy for me though. If anyone has another feed, please post. Thanks.

  48. Boston ran a lot of strong side zones last season.

  49. The Celtics are putting it on Houston right now.

  50. Rockets closed the gap. How fast has T-Mac fallen from being a superstar. Too often he’s a non-factor.

  51. Keep an eye on Shaq, He is totally dominating… I am certainly skeptical about his age and recent history, but if he manages to take Suns deep into playoffs by playing well he will certainly be up there with the biggest if he is not there already.

  52. This link works:
    http://stoogetv.com/player.html

    That site usually has every basketball game but its a little laggy right now.

  53. Just as soon as I open my mouth T-Mac is getting hot. Kobe-lite hot.

  54. Off-Topic
    Regardless of political background you have to be proud of the US to be able to elect an African American to be president.

  55. 54. And the best basketball playing president in our history. Sure, Lincoln was long, but his jumper needed a lot of work.

  56. 54 – next election, we may even get a female president, eh?

    http://news.yahoo.com/election/2008/dashboard

    Indiana is darn close although it has no bearing in the outcome now. Kinda funny how the outcome is not really checkered but more or less follows geographical lines, and interesting how there are only a couple states where the outcome is really close.

  57. Abe “Hot Sauce” Lincoln was not to be trifled with.

    Fanhouse is reporting Monta Ellis may force a trade or force the Warriors to void his deal. Man, I do not miss this kind of off-the-court drama.

  58. Don’t count out Lincoln. He may have been known as “honest abe” but he’d pick your pocket in a second.

  59. Hi FB&G … I’m back.

    #58… Fo sho.. the South was like… “jigga whaaaa?!”

  60. I think this discussion is futile after this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CmvDQK3k2w&feature=related

  61. 55,

    A scouting report on Lincoln and LBJ. With several screenings of Obama’s tapes I’m sure we could post a presidential prediction.
    Lincoln was second best. Has Obama supplanted LBJ by simple proximity to the sport, or was LBJ more of a baller in general?

    http://freedarko.blogspot.com/2008/09/presidential-21-tourney-finals.html#comments

  62. Clippers preview post up