Preview & Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

Kurt —  January 21, 2009
Al Thorton of the Los Angeles Clippers

Records: Lakers 32-8 (1st in West) Clippers 9-31 (14th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.6 (1st in league) Clippers 100.2 (30th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.7 (6th in league) Clippers 107.8 (17th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Clippers Eric Gordon, Mardy Collins, Al Thornton, Brian Skinner, DeAndre Jordan

The Lakers coming in In case you missed the news, Jordan Farmar has been progressing well and could be back before the All Star break. With his work ethic, no shock there.

Also, Kobe’s pain tolerance is higher than yours. And Andrew Bynum doesn’t like to be dunked on.

On a personal note, thanks to Gatinho, Reed, Kwame a., and Darius for all the help while I took a few days off to rest and recuperate. It’s just crazy the quality of the posts they put up.

I put a lot of my stuff in the Keys to the Game today, so head on down there for more about the Lakers.

Thoughts and Links I am hoping the Lakers jump out to a big early lead tonight so I can comfortably flip away and watch the season opener of Lost.

Can the Magic win it all? Anthony Macri, he of the IMG Basketball Academy, tackles that topic in a very well done recent article.

Andrew Bynum talks about getting drafted, and why he thinks people should be able to come straight out of the NBA from high school.

I love this blog and have wanted to link to it for a while — the best places to eat near stadiums around the nation (not just hoops). This could come in handy.

And I flat out just don’t link to the Brothers Kamenetzky often enough. I read them several times a day, I love their stuff and the style. One of my resolutions is to start linking more to the blogs I enjoy, and theirs is at the top of the list.

The Clippers Coming In: Think about the Clippers this way: How good would the Lakers be if they had to sit Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum due to injuries?

Tonight the Clips will be without Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman. This was not a deep team, but no NBA team would be good without their four best. Those injuries explain why the team has dropped 13 out of 14.

There are some guys to watch, for example I’ve seen flashes out of Eric Gordon, but he has a way to go. Kevin Arnovitz (he of Clipperblog and TrueHoop network) has some thoughts on others and what they need to do tonight:

# Al Thornton: Thaddeus Young and Al Thornton both shoot about 36% on two-point jump shots. Here’s the difference: 54% of Thornton’s shots are of the two-point jumper variety, but Young makes the low-percentage shot only 35% of his overall selection. Instead, Young opts for more attempts inside, where both he and Thornton shoot greater than 60%. Thornton must resist the temptation to settle for stuff outside. He’ll start the game against Vladimir Radmanovic, a defender he should be able to take off the dribble. Al will still have to confront the Lakers’ stellar help defense, but penetration gives him a fighting chance. Firing jumpers over the Lakers’ lanky defenders doesn’t.

# DeAndre Jordan: The Clippers’ rookie center did an effective job staying out of foul trouble on Monday while defending the post adequately against Al Jefferson. The Lakers’ Andrew Bynum is a more athletic cover. In addition, the Lakers’ bigs move around the halfcourt a lot more than Minnesota’s, which means Jordan’s most challenging task won’t necessarily be bodying up, but staying alert.

Keys To The Game: This is a classic trap game — just had four tough ones and now you can relax, right? This is still the NBA, these are still professional players. Take a night off mentally and you will have a game on your hands. Plus, for some reason the Lakers have had a lot of letdowns in the first game of back-to-backs.

Yes, Mardy Collins will be the guy covering Kobe Bryant tonight, and that is a serious mismatch. But that is not where the Lakers need to go first.

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum should have big nights — Al Jefferson destroyed the Clippers a couple nights back. It is true every night but especially tonight — establish the big men first and the triangle offense will flow much better. There should be shots a plenty tonight.

Teams actually don’t shoot that well against the Clippers (they are seventh in eFG% against) but they are not good at defensive rebounding and they do not create turnovers. Simply put, with the Lakers length they should get some easy putbacks and scores tonight. If they want it. Bynum, I’m looking at you.

Oh, and don’t turn the ball over.

Al Thornton and Eric Gordon are going to have to take on the scoring load for the Clippers, and the Lakers need to be smart in playing their penetration. The Laker bigs can afford to stay home against these Clippers, they should be good help, but the Lakers need to do what they did to LeBron and force these guys to beat them from he perimeter. As Kevin said, Thornton can be tempted into that.

Finally, don’t leave Steve Novak out at the three point line. The guy can do one thing — bury threes. He does it very well (41% career clip and 48% last year). That is the only thing he does very well. Force him to put the ball on the floor and he is neutralized.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start here in Los Angeles, the game is on KCAL 9 with the Lakers guys or Fox Sports with Ralph saying the Lakers were the first to 100. Lost is on ABC 7.

Kurt

Posts

136 responses to Preview & Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

  1. I am not too worried about this game. Even as a trap game their primary shooters are a rookie and a 2nd year man. That means they can be harried and may turn it over late.

    However, the bench people should be pointing to this game as one they should be able to get a lot of minutes in and establish their rhythm. I expect Fish and Pau to sit longer than usual and include Kobe if the 2nd unit is firing on all cylinders.

  2. Over/under on Sun’s PT? 7 min…

  3. sun better end up w/ a ton of playing time tonight…

  4. I agree with Craig W. – this is a great chance to bring fish’s average minutes a bit down, and give kobe and his finger lots of rest.

  5. Your preview commitment is noteworthy. No quality dropoff even for the Clips. I almost didn’t even bother coming back today, but the Farmer news is great. Of all this season’s injuries, his was the most damaging. Seems like our fast break game has basically gone the way of the dinosaur.

    And while I’m usually quick to call trap game, this ain’t one of ‘em. Feel safe while watching Lost…

  6. 5. And just for the record, I typed that preview with three dislocated fingers. I will not stop, not even against the Clippers.

  7. This is a total trap game, but I think the team will come through. I don’t see a wire to wire blowout though. The inclination to rest in game is too high. It takes an unnatural level of human activity to maintain that through a whole game if you don’t have to.

    I just hope they don’t give up ridiculously easy offensive scores, like the game where they were back cut 6 or 7 times in the first quarter, or where they stare at people taking open 3s from the corner.

  8. 5-Not to knock Jordan too much, but I think that our perimeter defense has been better without him on the court. Hopefully he will improve his defensive intensity/instincts when he gets back.

  9. 6 – 24 times 3!

    8 – Fair, but that’s not because of Fish. That’s team D and we’re still not exactly locking quick guards down. I think he will get better in team D as the season goes along. I had hoped he would make a big leap in his individual D over the offseason, but oh well, it’s a process.

  10. I really like Farmar, but I wonder if he’ll ever be the type of player that could play 30-35 minutes a night for us. I know he’s young, so that is a far reaching and pretty damning statement, but it’s what I believe. To me, he could play those minutes for several teams (Knicks, Warriors, Miami, and several others) where he’d be given more free reign to play his style of ball and would not have to be in such a structured system. But, for our team, he really needs to play under more control and fight his instincts to pound the dribble and constantly create for himself. I’m comfortable with his outside shooting, but there are other parts of his game (defense especially) where he’s not yet a full time quality player for us. So, I agree with Kwame A. in that we’ve been better on defense with him out and Sasha has proven capable enough as a ball handler that he can play the point for us. I also think that Sasha’s more half court game has meshed well with our first unit, while he’s also shown enough comfort in the open court to play with the Odom/Ariza combination.

  11. Expect Sun and Mihm sightings tonight.

    I’m interested to see how DeAndre Jordan deals with our bigs tonight. I always thought that the predraft comments on him being a lottery pick were a bit farfetched, and we can see their veracity tonight. Freak athlete though.

  12. Kurt,

    “The Clippers Coming In: Think about the Clippers this way: How good would the Lakers be if they had to sit Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum due to injuries?”

    I think you should have said:

    “The Clippers Coming In: Think about the Clippers this way: How good would the Lakers be if they sat out Derek Fisher, Luke Walton, Trevor Ariza, And Andrew Bynum due to injuries?”

    This would be about the equivalent in talent!

  13. kwame a.,
    Farmar has had lots of time to observe how the team functions without him. He is a gym rat and has a good bball IQ (I watched him closely at UCLA, under Howland). I suspect the time off will give him a better idea about how to adjust to the team, instead of the other way around. If he does this I think his team defense will improve.

    He has the athleticism, but not the size, to be a decent 1-on-1 defender, but must put in the effort in practice.

    All that said, I doubt he will ever be much above the NBA average for point guards. Of course, that ain’t too bad and is enough for a system team.

  14. we can win tonight without kobe…

    so why does he not just rest and give his finger less stress.

    i know he has a huge pain tolerance but i just feel that him not playing tonight is more beneficial as we will still get the win and he will give that finger some rest

  15. ocho,

    What Kurt meant was that the Clips are sitting their best 4 guys in Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman, so if the Lakers sat Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, that would be the equivalent.

  16. 12. Wondahbap hit it on the head, I tried to pick our best three front line guys and our floor leader for the example. The Clipper players are not as good as the Lakers guys, but the point stands that no team could give up its four best players and be the same.

    14. It’s just not in Kobe’s makeup. The drive that has him out there when most players would take a few games off in this case is the same passion that has him taking 500 turnaround jumpers a day in the offseason to perfect that shot. You don’t get one without the other, the drive for perfection without the drive to play in relatively meaningless games.

  17. anyone watching the miama vs celts game? are miamis shots just not falling or is it the celtics impressive D? anyone know? Celts are looking good again, gotta watch out for them

  18. All this conversation about Kobe seems strange. We have been talking about this type of thing ever since this blog was started. The continuing comments must mean your (Kurt) new connection has drawn a substantial number of new readers. Congrats!

  19. 10. Darius: Sad as it is to say, Fish is showing the wear on his treads the last couple of seasons, and that isn’t going to get better. We aren’t exactly at the Ol’ Yeller stage, but at the same time, Farmer will start taking the lion’s share of play time, simply because young legs are young legs.

    I doubt that tonight’s game will be too close, but you have to play hard. Play soft, and suddenly the injury bug pops up.

  20. If Kobe’s going to miss a game he either can’t lift his arm or can’t walk. Just like Kurt said, his drive isn’t something that has an on/off switch. He’s going to go out and play…On some levels this reminds me of a famous anectdote that is often recited about MJ. Jordans said that every night his motivation to play his best was that one fan in the upper deck who had never seen him play. He wanted to show that one fan what the big deal was about; to give that fan his water cooler story for the next day or the memory that would stay with him/her. Kobe, in this same vein, wants to go out every night and show everyone what all the hype is about. If that means he plays through some pain he plays through some pain.

    In the last thread, there was a comment that said it’s Kobe’s comments about him feeling the best that he ever has that is the proof that he should sit, that he only feels this good because his minutes are down (due to blowouts and a better team to give him rest) and that he should take any opportunity to rest that he can. However, Kobe is also quoted as saying that this injury won’t affect his play at all. So, should we believe him or not? I think we should take him for his word. Last year, Reed put together a comment (or post, I can’t remember which) where he showed that Kobe’s offensive numbers didn’t dip at all after he hurt his pinkie, even though as fans we questioned whether his ball handling was as good or if there were other minor parts of his game that were suffering because of the injury. I think we should give Kobe the benefit of the doubt with his injuries/ailments. If anything, I think during these times where he’s not physically 100% that his focus narrows even further and he proves to be even more effective.

  21. 19. I agree that finding more rest for Fisher is important. During the Cavs game, Doug Collins even mentioned that in a conversation with Fish that Derek mentioned that getting Farmar back is important to get him some more rest. And while Fisher maintains that his conditioning is strong, I think we all understand everyone’s roles and that Fish’s minutes need to be monitored.

    My point is more about Farmar’s ability to be the full time replacement for Fish and take over as the lead guard when Fish either retires, get’s his role reduced, or leaves the team. I really think we need another guard in the pipeline that can play a key role for us for future seasons. Whether that’s a young guard (who’s extremely poised and can handle the role) or a veteran that is ready to assume that role is irrelevant, as long as he can contribute in the ways that we need him to. And if Farmar proves me wrong, all the better, but I do have my questions.

  22. 13-I’m hoping that the whole ‘learning while watching’ thing happens for Jordan too. When he is attacking the basket and creating in transition he brings something we really don’t have, if his team defense improves he will be quite valuable, however I do think Sasha has earned his right to 15-20 mins a game. I guess its a luxury to have such a problem, and Phil will have options.

  23. I am trying to watch many NBA games at once tonight. And something struck me: who has the worst facial hair–Paul Pierce or Yao Ming?

  24. 23. Pierce. I often think he just looks dirty. My opinion is if you can’t grow a decent beard or stach, you should just shave it and if you shave it, make sure it shave ALL of it. It’s like a little boy trying to grow facial hair when you can’t and it just makes you like silly and ugly. Every time I see Pierce I just want to take a razor to his face. Shave that shiet off.

    Ariza has the same problem. Wish he shave it too. Come now, can’t they afford a razor with their salaries?

  25. Someone needs to tell Kevin Love that Color Me Badd called, and they want their facial hair back.

  26. I enjoy games like this because we should be seeing players that we don’t normally get to see play much.

  27. And I disagree about Farmar.I expect he’ll have a long and very successful career with the Lakers.Guy’s an amazing athlete.

  28. No one has asked for a link, which on some levels is really funny to me. Anyways, here’s one:

    http://www.justin.tv/manute2001

  29. I can see this being a 120 to 110 Laker win tonight. Lakers are gonna be more relaxed this game since they no the team their player has hardly any chance of beating them…I want to see more from our bench, especially Sasha who has been inconsistent with his jump shot, he needs to get more consistency with it.

  30. any other links guys?

  31. walton back in the starting line-up

  32. Walton starting tonight. Interesting to see how he performs after the injury.

  33. also would have liked for camby to be healthy, would be an interesting matchup to see how bynum would contain him since camby is a rebounding beast. would have been a nice challenge for young AB

  34. Oh its a Clippers broadcast on league pass? Awesome! I love Jerry Lawler. He always puts on the best face on a terrible situation.

    I feel like if he ever caught a burglar in his house he’d be polite. “BINGO! That’s a great TV your stealing. Great choice!”

  35. Bynum is a man among boys out there.

  36. Nice start. I like the disposition of the team at the outset, all biz.

  37. i wonder how long it will take vlad to get back into the rhythm of the offense now that he’s been replaced for the 2nd time?

  38. Yea anyone got any other links?

  39. another link:

    http://www.atdhe.net/

    just scroll down and you’ll see it.

  40. dunk with both hands, drew

  41. What a horrible way to end a quarter…

  42. lame.

  43. It’s amazing how often the Lakers play down to their competition.

  44. if past games against teams with multiple players out are any indication, this one will probably be a dog fight till the end. i hope i’m wrong.

  45. Here is a MUCH better link if anybody is watching. http://tvacores.co.cc/desporto_no_ar.htm

  46. Bynum with 21 and 9 and it’s less than half way through the 2nd quarter. Who said my man couldn’t get 20-10?

  47. I like the Clippers commentators, not nealy as homer as a number of other announcers.

  48. I know this is a league of professional players, but there is no way the clippers should still be in this game.

  49. The Clipper announcers are pretty good yea, but they are kinda goofy as well.

  50. “Oh me oh my!”

  51. What are the odds on Bynum getting a single assist tonight?

  52. Probably about the same as Odom hitting a right handed layup off glass?

  53. Bynum is nearly outrebounding the whole clipper team.

    But we just lead by 4…

  54. Thanks for the links guys…helps me out here in Chicago.

  55. what a surprise… clips shooting well over 50%…

  56. “oh me oh my! bingo!”

  57. Is there any PG in the league who can’t get into the lane against the Laker PGs? Mardy Collins looks like Deron Williams out there.

  58. Anybody think that Bynum is better right now than Greg Oden??…at least offensively he is.

  59. Missed the first half — someone break it down for me… Complacent? What happened to Drew? How is Kobe’s finger?

  60. I believe Bynum got the memo on hitting the boards and being more aggressive. I like what I see.

  61. Who said they’re not worried about this game?

  62. and just like the lakers, let someone on another team have a career best game, which novak appears to be heading torwards…

  63. 58

    I don’t think there’s any question thatBynum is the better player right now.

  64. Reed,
    The Clips are getting into the lane using the CP3 P&R where the screener is really setting a back screen on the PG and the ball handler is getting a head of steam going to the basket. This has opened up DeAndre Jordan inside to get putbacks and recieve interior passes and Mardy Collins to get into the lane and hit some floaters. Also the Clips are hitting jumpers, some of which are contested but a few that are not. Novak is showing off his pure shooting stroke and suprised me when he got ran off the 3pt. line, took a hard dribble to his left, and buried a jumper. Very Ray Allen like.

    As for Andrew, he’s controlling the paint on offense and rebounding like last season. On offense, he’s catching lobs and also showing nice hands in receiving bounce passes on dives off the P&R, he’s showing nice patience on the block using good footwork and ballfakes to get his shot off, and he’s hitting his little jumper. Basically he’s looking very polished. To me, the rebounding is more a product of the Clips not having anyone nearly his size to battle him on the glass, but there were a couple of plays where he did hustle for a long rebound and/or showed good instincts in reading the ball off the rim to get a good beat on the ball. It’s easily his best game of the season, but Brian Skinner and DeAndre Jordan have something to do with that as well.

    Kobe’s hand doesn’t seem to be a problem. He’s not been very agressive, but he hit two long jumpers in the 2nd quarter and showed a good looking stroke on his FT’s, further proving (to me at least) that he’s really not human when it comes to these injuries on his hand.

  65. Awesome, thanks Darius.

  66. Kobe has really been actively looking to be a set-up man in the last few games. One more dime and he’ll have a 4th straight double-digit assist game.

  67. at pass by luke. yes thats sarcasm

  68. Nice behind-the-back pass from Kobe to Bynum. Kudos to Kobe for his double-double and Bynum for his career high.

  69. here’s hoping for a non blow out so bynum can get some more burn.

    it would be great for his confidence if he gets 40+

    although it might stroke his ego a bit too much

  70. I like that Fisher has only 3 shots.

  71. who’s the clippers’ color commentator? his comments about fish’s weakness being his penchant for throwing up “too many crazy runners” was spot on.

  72. Who else really wants Bynum to hit 40?

  73. 71

    I think his name is Michael Smith but don’t hold me to that…

  74. Has Sun been out there yet? Why is Kobe still in there when the Lakers are up by 18?

  75. 8:15 still to play, a bit too early to be emptying the bench.

  76. i’d love to see powell come in for pau here

  77. because its the lakers and they don’t know how to hold leads…

  78. Clips fan here…DJ is gonna be a beast once he develops a back to the basket game!

  79. Ariza’s shot selection this game has been uncharacteristically awful.

  80. why does pau scream anytime he is under the basket? trying to get the ref’s attention?

  81. @ 74. Ryan

    because no lead is too large in the nba?

    Although with the injuries to the clippers roster I’d barely count them as an NBDL team.

  82. How exactly did the Clippers get this guy at #35? As Smith pointed out he was considered a possible lottery pick a couple years ago.

  83. 80

    He does shout a lot, I thought Kobe was bad but Pau takes the cake.

  84. boys…you’re being treated to the best play by play man in the nation and definetly LA since Chick Hearn…his name is Ralph Lawler…due for HOF induction…Mike Smith is much better analyst than the channel 9 guys…

  85. Joel,

    He was benched for the last half of the season. Scouts soured on the fact his game was underdeveloped and he didn’t seemed interesting in improving or picking up the nuances of the game. It didn’t help that his scout was convinced he was going to be a lottery pick and didn’t show him to teams that weren’t lottery-bound.

  86. The Clippers TV Director has also had pretty terrible shot selection tonight

  87. *His agent was convinced that he was a lottery pick. My bad.

  88. Jordan is the classic boom or bust prospect. Many thought he wasn’t hungry enough to really be a real player in this league and wondered if he’d ever put the work in to gain the skill to match his athleticism. Realize too that he’s barely been playing this season until this rash of injuries to the Clips bigs. They’ve been playing Skinner in front of him, but with their 3 bigs all hurt right now, Dunleavy has no choice but to play this kid and he’s proving to be athletic enough to have an impact.

  89. or it could just be the lakers bad defense that makes him look better than he really is.

  90. 84 & 87

    I remember hearing rumblings like that, but man, this guy’s athleticism is scary. You’d think someone would have taken a chance on him earlier than the second round.

  91. all these losses will make next season’s wins alot sweeter!

  92. Funny Lawler hasn’t mentioned his law during the comeback attempt by the clippers

  93. 40 for Bynum, triple-double for Kobe.

  94. Kobe with the TRIPLE DOUBLE

  95. where was that all night Al!!…i swear his bball IQ is so low!

  96. Uhm, how can you get a triple double with 3 good fingers on your shooting hand?

    The man hitting 6/6 from the FT line lets you know what kinda work ethic the guy has. Adjustment.

  97. thornton is your classic inefficient volume scorer – as a fantasy owner of his, i know this all too well.

  98. Lawler mentiones his law right when a team reaches 100…

  99. I know they didn’t have Camby or Kaman but man…Andrew was great tonight. Best I’ve seen of him.

  100. 97: I’m hoping they don’t change it at all. I especially enjoy that it doesn’t feature many comments about things “blowing” and such.

  101. Well,gee that was fun.Drew looked more like he did last year.

  102. Looking at the stat, Luke’s 2 blocks jump out (other than the obvious AB and KB stats) as well as Odom’s 19/9.

    And then we have awful lines from Vlad (not much PT), Ariza and Sasha.

    Since i missed the game (might catch it using torrent later) can somebody tell me what happened?

  103. Luke also had a good night being a return game and all..5-9 for 11fgs, 2a, 2b, 2s.

  104. #100

    Blogs on the SBNation have real time posting…much better, especially during game threads.

  105. Lawler, if you’re not happy here, there are a lot of other Lakers sites you can troll. We’ll happily show you the door.

  106. the other Stephen January 21, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    i don’t think he was trolling, kurt.. don’t take it so seriously.

  107. sorry kurt, first time here…if you notice my ingame posts, you will note, i’m not trolling…I just thought i’d comment on it…don’t worry i’ll only be around during the next clips vs lakers matchup…thanks though…

  108. Kevin…Note my ingame posts…not a troll…
    I know Kevin’s clipperblog was updated prior to the change to better reflect ingame chats, why not have the same at this top echalon (sp?) site?

  109. Well, Lawler’s law is kind of stupid. So is the Bingo call.

    So Kurt, I think you should give Bynum the stink eye more if these are the results.

  110. This was great to see this kind of effort from Bynum tonight. Bryant with another tripple double, nice indeed. I got a little nervious towards the very end of the game, for no reason at all apparently.

  111. Sorry, with a lot of new people on the site I’m being, well, let’s say very protective. What Kevin did at his site was totally separate from what happens here. Different comment systems, different everything. Things are not changing here.

  112. Bynum has really come around on his offense. 2 main things remain, he needs to rebound better and be a little more aggressive on defense. He did both of those things tonight…15 boards and 3 block shots. More than the amount of points he scoring, I want to see more high rebounding totals from him as I am sure we all do.

  113. Bynum was just bigger, longer, and more skilled than anything that the Clippers had to throw at him on defense tonight. And on the other side of that coin, the Clippers’ Jordan was more athletic than anyone the Lakers have on our entire roster. That play where he grabbed an offensive rebound over Pau, gathered himself, and went up and dunked looked so easy that it looked like he was playing on a 9′ rim. Pretty rediculous, really.

    Overall, even though the Clips took a modest lead in the 2nd quarter, the Lakers weren’t really threatened and were able to pull away in the 3rd against an overmatched team. I think (and Odom mentioned this postgame) that late in the game, the Lakers obviously broke away from letting the flow of the game dictate where the ball went in order to determine how they would score and just decided to try and get Bynum his 40 point game. Phil was even smirking when we were forcing passes, turning the ball over, and just attempting to pull a 1994 David Robinson (ironically against the Clips as well) to try and get our center his numbers. Overall, this game is what you’d expect against a bad team with all it’s best players injured.

  114. are their any sites where I can watch the replay of the game??

  115. Darius:
    I agree, and I’m particularly happy that we seem to finally acquired the mentality to give it to our big men throughout the entire game, as opposed to just the first half of the first quarter.

    Another thing to think about: compared with earlier in the season, is Pau looking to shoot more or not? It seems as though now he immediately looks for the shot upon getting the ball-if he’s wide open he sinks it and if he’s not he looks for the pass or tries to draw a double team.

    And finally: somebody mentioned over at 20 Second Timeout (excellent, excellent blog) that if LeBron had played Kobe the way the Kobe played LeBron Monday night, the MVP coronation would have begun already. Despite Reed’s beautiful post, I believe that Kobe’s determination and complete skill set still (albeit not for long) overcome LeBron’s physicality and hype.

    Aqzi

  116. The Lakers needed a game like this. Even if their defense left something to be desired, the Lakers were clearly able to dominate the game whenever it was needed.

    Given the nature of this race for playoff home court advantage against 3 Eastern Conference teams, the Lakers need every win they can get.

  117. kobes 2nd triple double in the last 3 games and bynum for 42 points, good stuff

  118. Kurt -

    Dont let the pressures of ESPN f* with you, man….It’s all good. Plus, it’s a cool upgrade, especially the ESPN highlight reel to the right, that’s sick. But I think people are overplaying the “truehoop network”. Yes, it’s cool and it’s a nice step that ESPN is taking by initiating growth within the blog community….But forum blue and gold will be FB&G….

    So whoever earlier said “this 40 pt game might stroke AB’s ego”…well, that statement has me semi-skeptical. But we have the hardware to let any such issue become…an issue.

    Kobe is a basketball genius…you wanna talk about basketball IQ..
    in the sense that a guy that is legitimately injured (Jamal Mashburn explained that he once disclocated his finger in the playoffs and then missed 2 GAMES because of it) can get a triple double when that is not his thing, well – that’s impressive..But that’s the greatness that is Kobe Bryant – does what he is best at all times…he knew tonight he wasn’t going to be shooting the ball extremely well…

    I didn’t even watch the game, but I have gathered all of this just from the comments. Why? Well because we are at the single best sports blog on the web – That’s WHY

  119. “But we have the hardware to not let any such issue become…an issue…”

    that’s what I meant

  120. Adam, the best part of your comment (to me) is that you said “we” when referring to FB&G. That brings a smile to my face, that’s what I want to see.

    And while the number of visitors is up some, the comments have remained great and I expect that will continue.

  121. Just got back reading the dime and couple things:

    1. The league is going way out of its way to hype LeBron in any manner possible. I understand the need for a less divisive superstar, but still, on a night where you have a three double digit stats from a star with three good digits and two dead ones in one hand is quite irritating. Sure AB made the box but urgh. And LeBron suddenly finding his jumper is actually a testament to our defense the last game. Wow, that must have irked me more than I care to admit.

    2. We have four teams with single digit losses and three teams with single digit wins nearing the halfway point of the season. That’s quite unreal.

    … and, pardon my ignorance, but it never really occured to me until this point: how did we end up having a 82 game season?

    We play the same division 4 times (4*4=16), other conference twice (2*15=30) that I’m fairly certain. I think we play teams in the same conference 3 times each, but that leaves us 6 games short, which really can’t be divvied up in any meaningful way. Or I could just be really mistaken in this…

  122. @Harold, I was about to respond that it used to work out evenly (4 games vs. the west teams and 2 vs. the east teams), which it did, but I imagine that the 82 game season was in place before that alignment, so the point is probably not an answer to your question. I’m going to go back to the point people were making last year (and probably the year before that too) the season seems entirely too long. What exactly do we know at 82 games that we don’t know at 55 or 60 games? Does it really take 82 games to seed teams in the playoffs? Even if the last team into the playoffs for each conference could’ve used the extra games to sneak in, it’s not like the 8th seed challenges for the crown.

    Shortening the season (significantly) might have the added benefit of making the games more meaningful and hopefully create fewer games that players seem to coast through. not only that, players might not be as tired (from a long, physical season) and play better because of it.

    @tonight’s game: Mr. Bynum did everything opposite of what I noticed against the Magic. And conditioning wise, he miraculously looked more energized. Was it the undersized opposition that gave him confidence or is this going to be a regular occurrence?

  123. @nomuskles

    I believe we would be better off with 6 games less on the calendar (4 vs division, 3 vs conference, 2 vs other conference) and the old playoff system (5-7-7-7). 76 games is still plenty of games and who wants to see the 1st seed play that many games against an 8th seed?(Unless it’s the Celtics against the Hawks)

  124. Over on the Clipper broadcast, McClain commented that a player is never tired when he is going for a career best. I think that says everything about Andrew tonight and against Orlando.

  125. Renato – I think the 7×4 style works well. As they say, the best team of the two will almost ALWAYS win a seven game series. That is just an accepted fact. That extra game or two, a week overall, is no problem…

    PS: talk to Mr. Stern about the prospect of cutting out 6 games times 32 teams at the end of the season…I don’t imagine you’ll get much of a consensus..But, then again, at least it’s not the BCS

  126. it seems like drew really took the nonmuskles post personal and stepped up to it, what a coincidence ;).
    kobe is just amazing. he gives you 110 % any given day, its such a pleasure to witness him. he should have had this ad, anyway.
    one particular scene i really enjoyed was when ariza passed the ball back to LO, instead of looking to score himself. he is the definition of a team player! the priority this offseason will be to resign him and kobe, of course.

  127. The Dude Abides January 22, 2009 at 3:57 am

    The schedule works out so that we play 30 against the East, four games within the Pacific Division, and then a coin flip (or some other method) for each team in the West outside of the Pacific Division to determine if we play that team three times or four times.

    I love watching Kobe the facilitator. When he’s in that mode, at least two of our bigs are going to have a great game.

  128. Nice to see Andrew at the top of his game. Has to inspire a bit of swagger in the young man, and swagger is what playing in the paint is all about.

    Kobe is awesome. It is simply nice to watch him play.

  129. Obviously, the reason for 82 game season in actuality is money. More games televised, more games season ticket holders have to buy, more games where that horrid stadium cheese for nachos can be sold. The league would be better off with fewer games, but the owners would never go for it.

    IT’s about the money, it’s always about the money.

    But if I were Czar I would go with Renato’s suggestion.

  130. Wow it’ll be fun to see Phil coaching the All-Star game for the first time in 9 years. He seems like he’d be too laid-back to care much about what his players do lol. I don’t think he’ll play Kobe much because of his finger, which is bad for us Kobe fans, but we’ll appreciate it hopefully in June.

  131. the other Stephen January 22, 2009 at 10:16 am

    lamar’s step, quick dribble, fake behind the back pass while jumping into the pro hop/jumpstop, and over the shoulder pass to the trailer was so beautiful. so was ariza’s pitch to lamar for the dunk.

    i am so proud of odom, walton, bynum, ariza, farmar, and yes, even vujacic.

  132. 129.

    I would be more sympathetic to this argument if the NBA had recently expanded the regular season. However, the NBA has been playing an 82 game regular season since 1967-68 (when there were a whopping 12 teams in the L) . I just don’t see the argument for throwing away 40 years of continuity in record comparison for such a limited reduction as 6 games, which would have little to no effect on effort given on a particular night.

    And if we’re talking about a meaningful reduction of games, then you can definitely count me out. I remember ’98-99. The 50 game long regular season didn’t make that regular season feel more meaningful, it made it feel incomplete.

  133. The 82 game season used to work out really well from a scheduling standpoint when there were less teams (before expansion) and when each conference only had two divisions. Now it’s a bit awkward and nonsensical.

    That said, I’m not in favor of shortening it, because then it would make the dreadful summer sports season – after the NBA ends and before the NFL starts – that much more horrific.

  134. Brian,

    Dreadful Summer?!

    But you have 9,000 baseball games to watch.

  135. If there is one thing I love about the ESPN affiliation (besides an excerpt from Thorpe on a post about our team) it’s that there is now a video on the player on the right hand side that highlights Kobe’s 81 point game. I’m sure the Vid will be gone tomorrow, but today I’ll probably watch that little clip 10 more times.

  136. New post up, Wizards preview. And a live chat tonight.