Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Kurt —  January 31, 2009

Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles Lakers
Records: Lakers 36-9 (1st in the West) Grizzlies 11-34 (13th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.1 (1st in league) Grizzlies 101.8 (29th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.0 (6th in league) Grizzlies 109.4 (24th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Grizzlies Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Darrell Arthur, Marc Gasol.

The Lakers Coming In: It seems to have taken half the season, but Andrew Bynum is back. JonesontheNBA (another guy we miss, but law school will do that to you) said it well in the comments:

It’s safe to say Drew is finally fully healed. Just as little as a few weeks back Drew was still having trouble elevating and finishing around the rim. I wonder what clicked all of a sudden for him, because he’s back to catching lobs, actively moving on both ends, and finishing with authority.

I still wonder how much of that was confidence, both in himself and his knee, compared to a physical problem. Whichever it was, it is in the past now, and suddenly the Lakers have a true high post/low post game that no team in the NBA is going to be able to match. (Who is closest? Boston, probably.)

Right now the offense is clicking, and last night they scored at will on Minny. They should be able to do that again tonight.

The Grizzlies Coming In: The Griz come in having lost 11 in a row. They canned the coach they brought in just last year and replaced him with one apparently not loved by the players. It’s a tough spot for a franchise that has some talent on the roster. Over at 3 Shades of Blue they are already doing mock drafts.

The problem of late is that talent isn’t scoring much. And not efficiently. Of the team’s five leading scorers, none is shooting higher than 46.7% in the last 10 games. O.J. Mayo, who had a fun battle with Kobe last time these two met, is shooting just 44% (eFG%) and 32% from three in the last 10. Rudy Gay’s numbers are not much better.

The one guy playing pretty well of late is Mike Conley, who since being inserted into the lineup is shooting 47.6% from three and is getting four assists per game. He’d have more if his teammates would hit shots.

While the offense is struggling, the defense isn’t exactly shutting people down, either. It’s a bad combo.

Keys To The Game: These two teams met during the Lakers December swoon, and it took Kobe Bryant heroics to pull out the win. Bynum played a poor first half, as did Ariza and others. Today, the two teams are on very different trajectories.

There are no games in the NBA where you can just roll out the ball and win, but if the Lakers show up focused this should be a comfortable win. It would help to get a nice early lead and take the confidence out of Memphis.

Once again, the Lakers have an advantage inside. Arthur cannot stop Pau, and Bynum should be able to get points on the other Gasol if he continues this run of play. The Lakers need to pound the ball inside to start, establish the middle and that will open up shots for Fisher and the others spotted up at the arc. Oh, and that Kobe guy.

Their offense is pretty heavy on the pick-and-roll (well, at least it was under the old coach, I haven’t seen the new coach yet). Gay and Mayo can get in the lane and cause a lot of problems if you let them, but they are not good jump shooters. Go under picks for a change. Dare them to shoot from the outside.

Where you can watch: 5 p.m.,, KCAL 9 here in Los Angeles and League Pass and the usual spots nationally.

Kurt

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277 responses to Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. I’m pretty wary of teams with long losing streaks. That’s the kind of thing that sometimes leaves the Lakers unfocused and Memphis is one of those teams that really gets up to play the Lakers and plays them well so those two aren’t a great combination.

    Normally, I’d also be worried about this being the second of a back-to-back, but the Lakers have been probably the best in the league in these situations. 8-2 with the 2 losses being a combined 4 points in Orlando and San Antonio. Not bad.

  2. Andrew’s footwork and patience have been amazing. Add that with his length, strength, and some touch. He’s been hustling more as well. Right now, his play (at least to me) has been more than I could’ve expected. He’s learning so fast.

    Last year, it was mainly his length. We saw a lot of alley oops and hooks. Now? We’re seeing the whole catalog. He’s starting to look like Pau with his myriad of moves, combining power and touch. Up and under. Left, Right. Running the floor. 12 to 15 footers. Jump hooks. You name it. It’s almost as if his basketball IQ tripled in the last month. He’s getting whatever he wants, because he knows he can.

  3. I completely agree with you wondahbop. It is amazing how far he has seemingly progressed in such a short amount of time. I love it. If he keeps playing like this i really don’t see how anyone can beat us.

  4. When people beat us it is because we lose focus in two areas: defense and handling the ball (sloppy passes, primarily by the guards and Vlade).

    I don’t think this will ever be a constantly good defensive team, because we are so good on the offense we find time to relax on defense, and therefore I would really focus on making our passing game better. Several coaches have said the Lakers are the best passing team in the league, so I would concentrate on keeping our passes simple. If we stop jumping in the air to pass, eliminate flat passes, and reduce the passes directly into heavy traffic, we would eliminate most of our turnovers.

  5. a good example of andrews progress was a scene from the beginning of yesterdays game.
    al jefferson had the ball on the low block, guarded by drew, who kept him out of the lane beautifully. then jefferson threw a little off-balanced hook to the rim and it friendly-rolled in. seconds later, the lakers fed bynum in the post, he found himself a little out of position and showed a couple of nice moves, blew by jefferson and connected with a hand in his face. that was so sweet. i was really proud. people are talking about jefferson as a potential all-star, which he is, but andrew is right up there with his skills and recent performances.

  6. Its gonna be a closer game then people think tonight, Lakers can tend to play at a weaker teams level, I just dont see them losing this game. Hopefully its another big game from Bynum. Another 20 plus and 15 would be nice.

  7. Wait, who was it that said Andrew was a potential 20-10 guy as long as he got the touches? Oh yea, me (and a couple others, I guess).

    On a more serious note, I don’t really see that much different about Bynum’s execution and moves between now and the beginning of the year. However, what I do see is him being:

    1.) In much, much better condition
    2.) Having much, much more confidence

    I think early in the season, he was still playing his way out of his knee surgery, regaining his wind, and gaining physical confidence that his body will be able to hold him up. You can really see a difference in how he goes after rebounds now versus earlier in the season.

    Second, I think Andrew, as a quiet, young, shy guy, was still feeling out Gasol at the beginning of the year, and quite unsure about his role. Now I think he’s confident and comfortable being Gasol’s physical foil, being everything that Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry wish they could’ve been in New York (except with more defense, and less likelihood of criminal charges). Bynum and Gasol give us an unstoppable one-two punch in the low and high posts, and even more amazing is when Bynum became the focal point of the offense at the end of the Charlotte game.

    Needless to say, I’m taking great joy in patting myself on the back, and looking forward to many more years of dominance in the paint in LA.

  8. Bynum is also slowly coming around on defense, hes a little more aggressive. I knew Bynum would be a 20-10 guy, I just didnt think so fast. I was more than willing to give him time considering how young he is.

  9. I’m still waiting for the day that Drew catches the ball on the block, gives a dribble, a fake, and throws up the skyhook. That will be the day that his training from Kareem will be complete.

    …hey, I can dream, right?

  10. If you’re a Lakers fan and are on Facebook who should join this group: Lakers Fans Want Tacos.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=58146499987&ref=mf

  11. Bruinsfan – that is soooo true. Jesus son, just a sky hook and then the camera flashes to Bynum poiting to his Jedi-Master with that Shaq-like nod of respect.

    Honestly, if Kobe and Gasol continue to feed the ball to Bynum and treat him as their pupil in terms of skill and confidence – they could be creating a new link in the chain that is the Laker basketball chainsaw.

    Am I high? That is for you to ponder.

  12. I agree with everything Wondahbop said except that Bynum has not matched Pau’s ability to pass the rock to a cutting teammate (yet?). Don’t worry, I’m not complaining. I love Bynum’s ability (willingness) to finish strong at the hoop and he can do it more consistently than Pau because of his size. I’m hesitant to praise Bynum’s advantage here, because it seems that Bynum is also satisfied to rely on turnaround 12 footers a little too often.

    If Drew shored up everything in his arsenal right now, he’ll be a great building block for the Lakers present and future. Improving his passing and maintaining his hunger for rebounds will vault him into the next level.

    I hope the starters can sit out the fourth tonight, but something tells me this is going to be closer than it should be.

  13. Mildly interesting – Byron Russell is attempting a comeback. I hardly paid it any attention, because we’ve all how unsuccessfully old players come back from severe injuries.

    But hypothetically – if he can play somewhat close to his old level – doesn’t he actually fit what we need? We need a hard-nosed defender at the 3 who can space the floor, and a veteran presence would also help this young team. We also just need someone to start and play about 20 minutes a game; Ariza will get the most PT and close anyway.

    I know how crazy it sounds, 99.9% chance his injuries have dropped his defensive skills . But Kupchak might want to take a look. Championship teams always pick up these veterans around this time, and as a young team we could use another veteran even more than others.

  14. The Dude Abides January 31, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Snoopy, I think if Bryon Russell catches on with a contender, it will be Boston that picks him up, which could be a good thing from a Laker standpoint. I don’t believe he would be an improvement over any of our SFs, unless one considers Sun to be a 3. Luke gives us triangle knowledge, good passing, average spot-up shooting, and decent post man defense. Vlad gives us excellent 3-pt shooting and decent passing-lane defense, and Trevor gives us a little bit of everything. I’d love to see Russell try vainly to keep up with Trevor if we play the Celtics in the Finals. In fact, I believe I would derive much pleasure from that :-)

  15. 12. I’d think that’d be a bad idea. We have a log jam at the 3 already, why would we add another one and one who most likely has nothing in the tank at that. This locker room also doesn’t need another veteran presence. The chemistry has been great and most of the guys got some experience last year and Kobe, Fisher, and Phil have more than enough experience for everyone else.

  16. I’d love to see the sky hook. It would be the highlight of the season so far. Kareem has to have tried to teach it to him. Does any know i he has tried any in practice? If he did one at staples the crowd would go crazy (as crazy as a staples crown can go anyways).

  17. They need to take the Griz seriously, how many was it that the Kings had lost in a row when the Lakers went to Sacramento in December?

  18. Increasing talk of justifying pounding the ball inside at every opportunity by the players worry me a bit.

    not that it’s wrong, it is probably close to textbook, but I hope Kobe doesn’t take it the wrong way.

    honestly, that’d be a dream playbook – work the ball inside for Pau and Andrew, and if nothing happens late in the clock, throw it to Kobe and have him play ‘clutch’ in those botched possessions.

  19. Not only is Bynum posting double-doubles to the tune of 26.2 points and 13.8 rebounds per night, but he’s swatting 3.2 shots, shooting 65.3 percent (49-of-75) from the field and 82.5 percent from the free throw line (33-of-40).

    from lakers.com

    i think that sums up how effective bynums been this week, i hope he will continue to blossom especially when we’re set to play boston and cleaveland – big test for drew.

    we have to take this game seriously though. take it 1 game at a time.

  20. The Dude Abides January 31, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Ryan, the last time I can recall a skyhook discussion regarding Drew was last December or January, when he said that he was practicing it a lot, but hadn’t developed the necessary balance to try it in a game.

  21. 20. Well at least he is practicing. I’m sure that Pau has practiced it a little bit too. Wouldn’t it be amazing if both Pau and Drew could make a sky hook.

  22. The Dude Abides January 31, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    For a big laugh, there is an extremely funny post over at the Spurs blog previewing their game against the Hornets. As background info, everyone over at that blog wants Tony Parker to pass the ball more.

    http://www.poundingtherock.com/2009/1/31/742968/game-thread-46-vs-hornets

  23. any links to tonight’s game for us foreign to LA?

  24. 81 witness you beat me to it.

  25. ryan,

    I can’t find a working link anywhere…

  26. neither can I.

  27. Thanks so much cinz!!!

  28. Another link with Stu announcing, though both links are lagging for me.

    http://www.justin.tv/ll_rudy_ll

  29. Could that crowd seem any more dead?

  30. I know Kurt is a big beer fan, anybody else watch the game with a cold one in hand? Just opened a Blanche de Chambly from Unibroue.

  31. oh no. bynum!

  32. oh god. no!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. andrew injured?

  34. Stupid Grizzlies.

  35. Not again…

  36. They are BAD luck.

  37. There goes our season.

  38. The Dude Abides January 31, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Nightmare. What is it about January games against Memphis?

  39. OH MY GOSH…..

  40. *holding breath and feeling sick to my stomach*

  41. please! no!

  42. He needs help off. Not good.

  43. why the knee???

  44. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    sasha’s expression just summed up mine.
    all the Lakers look like they’re going to cry, especially Kobe.

    I’m going to curl in a corner now.

  45. i’m speechless

  46. What happened? Are there any details?

  47. I will come join you.

  48. how long can a hyperextension keep you out for???

  49. that replay didn’t look good…hopefully it’s just hyperextended and not torn….

  50. did you guys hear him screaming… its def an acl

  51. kobe fell into his knee…foot stayed on the floor and the knee buckled back..it really doesn’t look good :(

  52. that almost looked like the same thing that happened to kobe when josh powell ran into his knee….was kobe out any games?

  53. The life was sucked out of the Lakers.

  54. Too good to be true?

    Lakers will need to find a way to regroup and exploit their matchup advantages.

  55. hyperextension, stay positive guys, might not be that bad, wasn;t that what LO had?

  56. And somewhere Henry Abbott is smiling.

  57. Memphis again, what are the odds…

  58. I expect the worst and hope for the best . . . PRAY for the best.

  59. the lakers need to rebound.

  60. Yea when LO had his injury he walked to the locker room Bynum screamed on the floor and needed to be helped off without putting any weight on it.

  61. i cannot watch the game anymore…
    really sad right now….
    mannnn

    i hate this…
    i can’t even think of a happy feeling right now

  62. Where’s a magic wheelchair when you need one?

  63. Paul Pierce has a monopoly on those.

  64. i feel terrible. that has taken all the fun out of watching the lakers.

  65. Lets pray its not for the season

  66. I dont even care about this game now, if we lose Bynum, we cant win a championship….this sucks big time.

  67. I feel sick

  68. Such bad timing to – just when he was hitting his stride (to say the least). Let’s hope we’re all just being silly pessimists.

  69. bad breakdown by the Lakers. Farmar needed to stop the ball on that Miles drive.

  70. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers will be able to get their heads back in this game.

  71. Hard to really get into the game now… :(

  72. the scream…by bynum
    the curse…by bynum
    when he’s on the floor

    somehow makes me believe that it’s going to be a big injury….

    can’t even be optimistic right now….

  73. 73)
    i think it’s gonna be hard…
    you can tell that somehow, kobe blames himself

  74. I was so looking forward to seeing Bynum play against the celtics and cavs now that he’s playing so well. ugh. so sad.

  75. only a sprain, 2-3 weeks.

  76. i have to concur… i feel sick and sicker when i think of Boston being happy… sprained right knee… that can mean anything…. damn…

  77. Sprained right knee… MRI tmrw.

  78. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Of all the odds.

    Early reports: Drew has a sprained knee. Definitely out for tonight.

  79. I don’t know about you guys, but all my excitement/joy/fun about this game and the roadtrip is now gone.

  80. 76

    Yep. Kobe looked devastated sitting next to Bynum before he was helped off.

  81. MRI tomorrow. So far just a sprained knee. Thats at least a little good news. hopefully nothing serious.

  82. A sprain doesn’t sound bad. Where are you hearing this from?

  83. the lakers are playing distracted. i can only imagine how it must be for them if i’m not even into this game. that’s their ticket and future that went down.

  84. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    This is deja vu all over again.

  85. man down, man down… sad day, we’ll see how long he’s out.

  86. sprained right knee..
    what knee was injured last year?

  87. initial diagnosis and x ray really don’t matter but atleast there was no dislocation or fracturing or something…mri is what tells you if there’s an acl or ligament damage though

  88. I wanna apologize to everyone and especially bynum for having him on my injury cursed fantasy team.

  89. Bynum is getting an X-ray. But maybe afterwards he can come and sit on the bench, which might get the Lakers heads back into the game.

  90. 88/chris h, he hurt his left knee last year but tore his acl in his right knee in high school

  91. sprain knee, takes about 2-3 weeks. suffered it twice.

  92. the injury is on the same knee as last year. (the right one)

    last year, they also said it was a sprained knee

    man, i loose all my optimistic groove

  93. The sprain is just a preliminary diagnosis. I have limited knowledge of anatomy, but one cannot confirm a ligament/tendon tear without the use of an MRI. There’s quite a few external tests you can use, but it’s hard to differentiate those from a sprain.

    From the way he was screaming, I’d say it is worse than a sprain. Unless Bynum has an extremely low pain threshold, you don’t hear grown men screaming, writhing, and swearing that loud unless they’re seriously injured.

  94. I guarantee that all the Lakers are sick to their stomachs right now. Kobe more than anyone…

    This is when it sucks to be a professional. Got to keep playing, even when your man is in the locker room and no one knows what is going on…

    Someone needs to get Andrew an Elvis statue to ward off the Memphis HooDoo… pronto!

  95. Chris Mihm, it’s time to shine.

  96. Zephid. Yes most of the time you can not tell if it is a ligament without a MRI. Sometimes you can though, but him screaming does not mean that its a torn ACL or something. It might have just been, bad pain compared to oh Sht not again. Hopefully it is nothing serious.

  97. x-ray negative
    starting to see the light of hope

  98. Can x-rays pick up any ligament damage?

  99. Sometimes but not often. They could however pickup a fracture or something.

  100. No. MRI only.

  101. So we’re not completely out of the woods until the MRI.

  102. I would assume that Bynum was yelling at first from the feeling of the hyper-extension, then the smack of Kobe’s body/head, and lastly from pure rage, frustration and fear.

    No one blames him. That has nothing to do with toughness.

    In fact, if he hadn’t been yelling I would have been much more worried. Would have indicated shock.

  103. Weren’t X-rays negative last year as well?

  104. xray negative. but that doesn’t mean much. i guess best we can hope is a month. but even then, how effective will he be?

    i’m sick.

  105. They called it a sprain last year; x-rays were negative last year; they said he’d be back before the playoffs last year…

    This is truly disheartening.

  106. It’s unfortunate, but the Lakers have no heart for this game.

  107. And I can’t blame them. I don’t either.

  108. no defense again….

  109. Well, the one thing we won’t be this year is optimistic about a fast return.

  110. It happened against Memphis again. The curse of Jerry West?

  111. This just proves how the Lakers arent a tough team, Bynum goes out and they let this bad team run all over them….horrible.

  112. Maybe he just has Pierce Knee.

  113. Hmm, the Lakers can still win this one. Memphis was hot from the outside early. They will most likely not keep it up all game.

  114. Hopefully it is just a sprained knee. If anything, he’s probably scared out of his mind because it’s the same knee.

    And if not…Memphis, again?

  115. 111, can you really blame them? I don’t really care what happens is this game now either.

  116. @111
    The Lakers have something called a heart. They actually care for the health of their teammates. This has nothing to do with toughness.

  117. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    111,

    I can’t blame them for this. I don’t even feel like watching them play knowing Drew is out, how can the players?

    It’s like getting sucker punched in the stomach over and over again.

  118. I pray that there is no major damage. Please don’t let this end it. Wow. I’ll admit that I had a few tears. Please don’t let it be an acl. Drew, get healthy and Godspeed in your recovery. The season is not lost.

  119. The Lakers will get there heads straight in the locker room.

  120. Joe, just an fyi, be careful using the toughness card in this blog without backing it up or else the people here will let you have it…haha.

  121. well if bynum is out for an extended period of time think a trade will take place ?

    gotta get everyones head into the game, everyones sulking out there. hope drews allright and he just has a really low pain thresh hold.

  122. crapcrapcrapcrapcrap

  123. To be honest, the season is not lost regardless of what happens with Bynum. You just feel bad for him possibly having to go through the same agonising ordeal just one year later.

  124. joe, (not a plumber) your logic escapes me, how does this prove the lakers are not a tough team.
    1 note complainers.

  125. I demand the Grizzlies repay us with Rudy Gay.

    On a serious note, all of them are not even thinking about the game. They’re thinking of Andrew because he means so much to the team. Kobe looks like he wants to cry, and probably do alot of Laker fans too.

  126. Chris h

    I agree. The Lakers season is certainly not over. They have a deep and talented team. Though if Bynum is out for a lengthy period of time, this season does get much harder.

  127. Sorry. That was meant for Joel.

  128. and while it was good to see Mihm got some PT, I really think it’s time to see Josh Powell get some real minutes now.
    I’d rather see him than Mihm, Powell just has an instinct for chasing down rebounds, and a nice mid range jumper.
    who ever gets these minutes, I know that PJ will be thinking post season, and getting the PT for the eventual back up 5.

  129. Not the same knee. Last year was the left knee

  130. It’s the same team that won the West last year, we’ll be fine. In fact, we’re a bit better thanks to experience of having played together for a while. As long Andrew can come back for playoffs, we’ll be in good shape.

  131. What is it about January? When is the last time we’ve made it through a January without an injury to a major player on the team?

  132. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    121,

    yeah seriously. they repaid us last year with Pau, I demand a Rudy Gay trade be dealt now.

    but in all seriousness, I won’t chalk how the Lakers are playing right now to a lack of “mental toughness.”

    Every single Laker is thinking about Drew, everyone was rooting for him to go for his 6th double double and THIS happens, AGAIN?!

    No way can I blame them for feeling distracted. There is nothing like seeing a teammate go down and having to go back out and be a professional.

    Hopefully though the Lakers will regroup in the Locker room, let Drew’s injury sink in and take it out on the Grizzlies.

  133. My stomach just dropped, coming on here and reading your guys’ comments. I can’t believe this would happen again. I was even thinking of this once January started, how until this time last year our hopes were up too.

    I can’t even think of what to say right now. Wow.

    We can’t lose hope until the MRI.

    And to stay positive – we still have the starting frontcourt that went to the NBA Finals last year, but now with a potential super-sub in Josh Powell.

    But damn this sucks. Sucks sucks sucks.

  134. QQ

    =’(

    ME SAD

  135. This most likely means the Lakers will go back to last year’s offensive style, smaller but more movement. Lamar and Pau playing off of Kobe last year was a deadly combination. On defense it’s up to the whole team to play harder in order to make up for the lack of a shot blocker

  136. how come players can get x-rays as soon as injuries happen, but they have to wait until the next day to get an MRI? Surely there’s a hospital with 24-hour MRI availability in every major NBA city?

  137. The Lakers will have even more reason to fully commit to the defensive scheme from here on out.

  138. @133 they probably want the swelling to go down a little before they do the MRI.

  139. The Lakers look sharp and focused.

  140. DTC,

    I don’t think they should revert to last year’s offensive style. Keep things as steady as possible because without Bynum, we still have Josh Powell who loves to bang and has a knack for chasing down rebounds. Remember all PJ wanted Bynum to do was defense and rebounding, two areas that Josh Powell can be satisfactory in. Hell, even Chris Mihm can provide that with discipline. We just need to hold down the fort and hope Drew is healthy.

    I want to go cry still.

  141. Guys, injuries are deceiving. Nothing might have happened and it could just be a sprained knee. Let’s just wait until tomorrow’s MRI before we start talking about trades, geeze.

  142. 132 – Most likely because X-rays take a few seconds, but MRIs take quite a while, up to an hour in certain cases or even longer. In the acute phase of an injury, the most important thing is ice, compression, and quick treatment – if they did an MRI right away, they’d be waiting a couple hours to ice the knee, which is a priority.

  143. the other Stephen January 31, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    last year, we arguably lost the championship in part because of bynum’s absence. this year, if he indeed doesn’t make it back in time for the playoffs, i hope we win it for him. he’s worked damn hard on both his game and his rehabilitation. can anyone please describe how the injury looked?

  144. The fear now is even if he comes back hopefully soon, will he pick up where he left off, or, more likely, revert to the tentative, lethargic Bynum we saw to begin this season?

    But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s just wait for tomorrow’s news.

  145. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    JANUARY SUCKS!!!!!!!!

    I HATE JANUARY!

    and on the last day of friggin January.

    AGAINST THE GRIZZLIES.

    AGAIN.

  146. That mayo kid is good. He shoots over the mismatch so confidently.

  147. 139 – Stephen, here’s a link where you can see for yourself:

    It looks like the filter keeps out websites, so just do youtube dot com slash watch?v=hKwMU0u5SVg (no spaces) or search for “Bynum falls again”.

  148. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    140,

    I don’t care if Drewreverts back to lethargic tentative Drew in the beginning of the season. Just his presence in the middle is enough. I want him healthy and playing ASAP.

    That’s all I ask.

    I just want Drew back.

  149. 142 – Although the games are different, I see a lot of Kobe in Mayo, in his drive and maturity and work ethic. It’s the closest comparison I see to Kobe.

  150. hopefully there will be good news tomorrow after the MRI and Bynum will only miss a few games

  151. Chris H, how have the Lakers proved they are a tough team? If the Lakers were a tough team they would win 70 games. They are a talented team, but it dont make them tough.

  152. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    The Lakers need to win this game for Drew.

  153. Fisher really needs to work on his D this game, lots of penetration.

  154. I finally get home from work, I rush to the TV, find the game… just in time to see the Grizzlies drill a three and take the lead. Grrr!

    Yahoo sports are saying Bynum’s knee was injured from banging into Kobe. Snoopy, thanks for the link! It looks depressingly bad though… I’m right now debating whether to pray fervently or just give up and go for the vodka for the rest of the night.

  155. I vote for the Vodka.

  156. Is there anyone who misses more dunks than Omom lol

  157. 146
    So your telling me there are no tough teams in the NBA? what does winning 70 have to do with being tough?

  158. @ Tremble,

    Actually you misunderstood our tone. We were trying to lighten the mood with our unsuccessful humor attempts at recent NBA history.

  159. everyone just needs to give up this whole “tough” angle… its really getting old

  160. is Pau Gasoft tough?

  161. The Lakers are a bunch of marshmallows. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

  162. Speaking of the game, the Lakers are executing a lot better.

  163. The Lakers are tough? Your either tough or your not. The Lakers are a talented team, but it dont make them tough. They are not a tough team like Boston, not even close, I have watched boston enough over the years, including this year to know that. If the Lakers wantto be tougher, Bynum needs to get a little more aggrssive on defense, his offense is there, of course he will be out for awhile. Also, they need more mental toughness, there are still a lot of young players on the Lakers who need to grow their experience. These things will comein time.

  164. And it seems like the grizz. aren’t making as many jumpers this half

  165. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    I cracked a smile, emh101. Thanks, I really needed that.

    To continue with the sky is falling rhetoric:

    Marshmallows are nice toasted, just like how our season’s now.

  166. MRI will tell all. Our medical staff might not help either. I still recall how we botched the Mailman’s recovery. Just lit the prayer candles. Keep the faith.

  167. I guess the only thing that makes a team tough is if they beat the Celtics in the finals and beat every inferior team no matter what sort of trauma occurs to distract the players. Beating Utah doesn’t cut it. Beating SA doesn’t cut it. Making it to the finals having lost their starting center and an important player off the bench doesn’t cut it. Joe, you are entitled to your opinion but you might want to consider a little context when judging human endeavors.

    I’m still sick.

  168. Kobe can make just about any type of shot. It is always fun to watch him play for his shot making ability

  169. Joe, seriously. will the tough celtics win 70 this season? did they do it last season?

  170. If you guys are tired of the toughness card, then stop responding to Joe and move on….geez

  171. My pleasure, PeanutButterSpread. I am also smiling through my tears.

  172. Anyone else catch Kobe’s reaction? Didn’t even look worried about Andrew. No leaning over to ask if he’s OK. No leaning over to help. Just frustrated and goes away. Just more evidence that Kobe is a terrible teammate.

  173. Vodka it is!

    Pau needs to step up now though. At least the remaining group managed to get to the NBA finals last year, and most of them are better this year. Which doesn’t in any way change the fact that I’m very much hoping Andrew’s knee heals very much quicker than last year.

  174. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Well Boston still has to deal with the Crabs and Orlando breathing down their necks.

    Not saying the Lakers don’t because the Western Conference is still hella scary and the Lakeshow is still trying to achieve best record in NBA.

    It’s going to be difficult without Drew, but they did it before last season (being top in WC). Hopefully they remember that.

  175. Wierd how much this year is like last year – Kobe dislocates a finger on his shooting hand, against Memphis a teammate lands on Bynum’s knee.

  176. I dont judge a team basedon who they beat and dont. For example, the bobcats are not a talented team and arent gonna make the playoffs even, but they are atough team. All Larry Brown teams are. That is why they beat us the other night, they out toughed us. What I am suggesting is, if they are going to beat boston, they need to get tougher. Magic Johnson agrees with this as well. So I guess hes wrong as well right?

  177. I, for one, thought Kobe looked dismayed and heartbroken.

  178. 146. You’re an absolute tool. Look at the game. All of the players were absolutely devasted when Bynum went down. They have the mental fortitude to gather themselves at half time and come back and outscore the Grizzlies by 15.

    Was beating Boston not tough for you? How bout beating the Cavs? Guess there isn’t a single tough team out west huh?

    Can you even define tough for me? Is tough determined by how many hard fouls you have in a game? Do you have to wave your fingers at lesser players and act like a prick like Boston? Do you have to play “slow, grind it out basketball”? So fast pace teams like the Showtime Lakers aren’t tough right? Those championships they won don’t count right?

  179. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    170,

    Kobe looked torn to me. He wasn’t sure whether to get back down the court and help defend or stay there with Drew and I’m pretty sure at that split moment he was already blaming himself.

    Great job of correlating Kobe’s reaction to him being a bad teammate. You should get a job as a psychologist. I’m sure you’d win a nobel prize.

  180. igor you have to be kidding me… Kobe was leaned over him the whole time he was screaming, and his facial expression obviously showed that he was concerned.

  181. domination. all started with some great defense.

  182. Have you noticed that the Lakers are not overly celebrating? They are going about their work and getting it done.

  183. 169

    Just more evidence that some people will scramble for anything to denigrate Kobe’s character, no matter how ridiculous.

  184. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    emh101, that’s good. I think they’re taking their anger out on the Grizzlies, coolly and coldly.

  185. Kobe looked totally devastated and you could tell he was blaming himself for it. You could see it in his face and body language the whole 1st half after it happened.

  186. Well said Worthy… if it takes 70 wins to be though, as was previously suggested, there have only been a few tough teams in the last decade.

  187. starting to look like Kobe’s done for the night. Good job by the second unit.

  188. hopefully the lakers finishes the game with this lineup on the floor.

    I don’t want any of our starters taking the court anymore.

  189. Worthy. we beat the Cavs without two of their best players, that dont mean nothing. Beating Boston was impressive, it was our best win of the season, we beat the Celtics at their own grind it out game. But grind it out as you suggested is usually how all games end up in the playoffs, especially the end of games. Im not sure the Lakers can beat the Celtics in a grind itout game, like they did at Staples earlier.

  190. get that 24 guy some ice and rest

  191. 176

    Lack of ‘toughness’ is now the default reason for every Lakers loss (or bad couple of quarters, in this case).

  192. It would be nice to see Powell get some play.

  193. Odom is limping now, holy crap.

  194. Bummer x2.

  195. Mostly all the Lakers losses this year are because of a lack of defense, I think that has a lot to do with a lack of toughness.

  196. What? Are you serious Joel? What happened with Lamar?

  197. Why was my post removed? There was nothing offensive in it.

  198. Not a Celts fan, no one wants a championship this year more than me actually, but unlike all of you, Im not afraid to admit, that this team still has some work to do before they can be considered in the league of the Celts

  199. Oops, weird numbering going on, my bad.

  200. Toughness means that when you lose you lose fighting, and afterwards, you get back up, you put it behind you, and you move on towards the next game.

    Getting back in the game and grabbing the lead and holding on to it when a team mate you care about is in excruciating pain and could be gone for the rest of the season is tough. Real toughness has nothing to do with how big and strong you are, and anyone who has ever seen it would tell you that.

    Can we move on from this whole “they are not tough enough” debate now?

  201. Not sure what happened magic, but at some point in the last possession Odom came up limping and signaled for a timeout. (As with Kobe on MLK Day they somehow managed not to call one and let the other team score instead.)

  202. Thanks GR8scott… getting sick of all the negativity. And the lack of toughness is getting real tired.

  203. Gotta love the maturity of some of you. Makes this a fun place to voice your opinions.

  204. 209, need a better come back then to nit pick spelling…

  205. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    I’d say winning over the Grizzlies right now is a sign of “mental toughness,” whatever that means.

  206. From the replays I saw, Kobe’s initial reaction was disgust and frustration. Didn’t even look at Andrew. Perhaps he did go over to him afterwards, but instead of leaning in right away he just showed frustration and disgust. Little initial concern shown other than for his own selfish reasons.

  207. Joe, every single team has periods of bad defense, and lose games because of it. Until a team goes 82-0 and wins every playoff game, every single team will do so. So if bad defense occasionally=lack of toughness, then every team is guilty of it. Even the Celtics.

  208. Sigh. It is fruitless to argue.

  209. I never said I have no faith, I am just saying my opinion, in that I dont think the Lakers are all there yet.

  210. I think I saw Kobe kick Bynum before he got up. That’s tough isn’t it?

  211. Lakers have held the Grizzlies to 21 points in the 3rd, 15 so far in the 4th with 1:40 left according to Yahoo. Cool.

  212. bittersweet win for the Lakers

  213. Lamar tweaked an ankle. Sitting out to see if it feels better…

    I don’t want to believe anything negative about the Bynum Injury…

    The Bright side is that he gets his MRI in New York and it will be presided over by the Dr. that performed his knee surgery for those loose particles last year.

    And… it’s not the same knee. Phew…

    (Anybody find it odd that he injures the left knee in a home game in january against memphis – then – he injures the right knee away against memphis – horrible coincidence)

  214. Igor, i don’t know what replay your watching but the one i see shows kobe laying on the floor next to bynum. Not going back on defense, rather, staying right with bynum and then kneeling down right over the top of him… i don’t understand the “selfish reasons” your talking about

  215. Lakers outscored the Grizzlies 60-37 in the second half. Looks like they did a good job regrouping.

  216. Joe,

    I do not think anyone here feels the Lakers are without problems. It’s just that “toughness” is so hard to quantify. It’s become a buzzword that has lost all meaning.

  217. I have a definition of what it means to me, and I explained that in a recent post. But basically I say one little negative thing regarding the team, and I get ganged up on and continue to be insulted, which is uncalled for, I am as diehard a Laker fan as anyone.

  218. We won! The vodka will be used for celebration now. :)

    The debate about whether Kobe is a bad team mate or not is as old as it is pointless. Only his team mates really know, and as long as they enjoy playing with him, I’d think that sort of settles the debate, doesn’t it?

  219. Joe,

    We know the team still has some issues, but we get at you because your concerns and reasonings for them are baseless. Tired cliches. You over react. You NEED perfection. No team is ever perfect. One team is Champ, and until a Chip is won, your only excuse or defense is reciting those tired cliches.

    Our team is good. they are tough. they proved it all season, and proved it tonight. if you have ever played a sport, you might know the feeling of seeing Bynum go down AGAIN like that. Especially when he is vital to this team, and they came out in the 2nd half and did what they had to. What they should.

    How can you expect anyone to take you serious when you make wild moronic statements like if the Lakers were tough, they’d win 70 games? Only one team has.

  220. James Worthy just said that Kobe was feeling the season just went down the drain due to the injury to Bynum. What is he talking about, how can he assume that is what Kobe was thinking, we went to the Finals last year without Bynum. LO is now are starting PF for now, not to bad I would think.

  221. Igor, from what I saw, I feel Kobe’s expression of disgust and frustration was towards himself and at the situation – in that he was the one that fell into Bynum and the clear indication of severe pain by Bynum.

  222. Joe

    People are a little weary over the whole toughness issue. We’ve been beaten over the head with the “toughness” bat since the Finals. You do not get through the Western Conference and into the Finals without being tough. In fact, I think you are pretty tough if you play professional basketball at all. You need to pick an issue that rings true. Toughness rings hollow.

  223. Well wonda, thats where we differ then, while it may be old, I still think its true, I dont feel this Laker team is as tough and mean as they could be. But hey, its just different opinions, I can live with that.

  224. *–Actually Relevant News–*

    Bynum’s MRI is at Noon tomorrow

  225. Well, I hope I’m wrong and KB24 is a fantastic teammate and leader. But from what I’ve seen and heard so far, that’s not the case. I’ll keep my interpretation of his reaction, and you guys can have yours. As long as we keep winning, I won’t complain about Kobe’s downfalls. Much.

  226. 12 pm Pacific time or Eastern?

  227. wondahbap,

    I hope you have a nice, chastising post for Igor, too. Please.

  228. How about this. Lets compare this team not to the Celts, but lets compare them to our Kob, Shaq championship teams, dont you see a difference in terms of “toughness”? That team would wipe the floor with this one.

  229. I don’t know why people feel the need to insult Joe. Despite the fact that he has a persective that most of us, including myself, find old and tiresome, that is no reason to call names or use insults. It’s just his opinion, as he said.

  230. This whole question of toughness is overblown media hype for the casual fans who need an angle and water cooler talk. It’s so lame, tired and played out. Some of you can retread stupid cliches. Me, I know the truth, and I don’t recite NBA Pre-Game shows. I can’t see how anyone who has watched this team every game this year could possibly fall for the okeydoke.

    I’m done for the night. Later.

  231. From the interview, Andrew says he feels better about this one compared to the last injury. He can put pressure on it and walk, though it is not advised. That’s good news. Keeping positive here.

  232. Igor is wasting his talents as a facial reader, we need him at the next world summit to read the expressions of all the attendees. You know, tell us what they really think about each other.

    Kobe probably felt more like the way Vujacic looked immediately after the accident, but Kobe being Kobe he is only going to open up a tiny window on how he really feels.

    He looked better mentally after half time, he actually smiled at the end of the third. So, I believe that the news regarding Bynum internally is not as dire as everyone is it making it out to be.

    Good to see Mihm getting some time I think we will need him as the season progresses.

    What is the deal with Vlad? He starts does a decent job spreading the floor when he hits his shots and has tried to improve defensively. Yet, he is not getting any playing time. Does anyone know PJ’s motivation for this, or is this a typical Laker trade bait ploy?

  233. man…if i could, i’d take the injury for bynum in an instant…really hope its nothing serious, get well soon drew they need you out there

  234. Joe: I don’t agree. Of course Shaq would have an advantage over Drew, but I think Drew’s length could at least bother him.
    Pau would have a clear advantage, and Kobe would dominate his old self if you ask me.

    Also, the bench is way better now.

  235. emh101,

    I didn’t get to read the post from him that has you all in a tizzy, but Joe is always like this, and it’s tired. I don’t want to chastise people, but some things can’t slide. If Igor felt that Kobe was selfish in his reaction, I think he’s wrong, but that’s the way he interpreted it. Joe’s on another level.

    P.S. The name calling between some commenters needs to stop. That’s just juvenile.

  236. Interesting day. Not much was said about the game, huh?

  237. Looks like someone just can’t get away

  238. Matt,

    The game seems almost like an afterthought tonight. But the Lakers did a great job of shaking off Bynum’s loss and picking apart the Grizzlie’s interior defense.

    wondahbap,

    I was frustrated with Igor’s comments of Kobe’s selfishness, his lack of leadership, and his being a bad teammate. And then interpreting Kobe’s “reaction” to Bynum’s injury as proof of the above.

  239. So, is Drew’s MRI is at 12:00 ET or 12:00 Pacific? Thanks.

  240. I would assume noon EST, since it is being done in New York.

  241. Wow I’ve never seen a game thread like this. Looks like Kurt turned off the moderation for 1 night.

    I, too, have become tired of excessive pessimism, but let’s not get into personal attacks. Especially not over and over again. When I first came to this site I liked the atmosphere of mutual respect and sophistication of the commentors. Let’s try to keep that level.

    I think there’s a lot of frustration tonight in Lakers land, and we’re taking it out on each other.

    Someone already said it, but isn’t it eerie how similar this is to last year? Kobe with the finger, Andrew going down in Jan. Maybe a big trade is around the corner….I kid, we still have what we need.

    On an unrelated note, do you think one of our assistant coaches goes through vocal exercises with our players? Pau, now Drew, Lamar, and Kobe all do a fantastic job of screaming bloody murder anytime they get close to the paint. If it works, I can’t knock it.

  242. on a not-about-drews-injury-not we played good D in the second half tonight.

    and about drew as long as he is not out for the rest of the season we will be fine

    we have a better farmar
    we have ariza
    we have a better gasol
    and we have kobe.

    i think we’ll be OK, but we do need to see LO step it up. he played well tonight, i hope the tweaked ankle is nothing serious

  243. Not Charlie Rosen January 31, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Joe…here’s the thing…feel free to have an opinion…but of all nights to be voicing your “concerns” about the lakers, which come out very negative…why tonight? When we’re all on edge and upset over Bynum’s injury already?

  244. I’m praying that Drew’s MRI comes back negative and that he will be back In a few games bt In the meanwhile we cant hang our heads we got to the Finals without Drew and I feel that we can get back there and win It all even without Bynum but every player on the team must commit to defense and rebounding and cut down on the bonehead mistakes that have cost us a few games. We have to at least have a better record than at least 2 of the 3 teams that our leading the eastern conference Boston Cleveland and Orlando we don’t want to go on the road starting the final against all three teams, to get a road game you have to be mentally tough and the Lakers showed that kind of resolve against the Grizzlies tonight. Let’s keep hope alive remember we have had 3 Injuries so far that most thought would ruin our championship aspirations Kobe, Lamar, Jordan, and kobe Is playing with Injuries now Let’s just weather this storm people because I have a feeling we will all be sipping champagne In June!!!

  245. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Drew looked relieved/happy in his interview … that’s a good sign. Praying to the basketball gods that the MRI doesn’t show anything bad.

  246. the other Stephen January 31, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    *** who cares about what joe said? there are some million more people who think that the lakers are soft, and if you’re out to make them apologize for that belief and change their ways one at a time, good luck. if you want to tack a sign on the front of the site disallowing all unproductive conversation, i understand that. but when you get responses from other commenters like this, it feels more like mob rule and fan snobbery.

    instead of wasting time burning joe at the stake, can we please talk about what people saw tonight? how bad did the injury look? i know that’s a superficial indicator, but if the big guy is pounding his fist on the court because of the pain, it’s got to mean something. how well did odom, the man we’ve been keeping around for this moment and more, respond in his game?

    we’ll all know by tommorow about the mri results, but in the case that bynum does not come back early enough this season to make a difference, what happens?

  247. All – I think Joe is just acting like one of the ESPN trolls we’re going to have to live with since the merger with TrueHoop. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but others have said it best – this is a tough team, as evidenced by the way we bounced back from an injury to Bynum that could possibly alter how this team continues to gel and improve. An earlier post said it best – let’s expect the worst and hope for the best. Joe and Igor’s comments are non-sensical garbage and it takes away from a truly inspiring team performance tonight. We are still the best in the West and no other team in the league has fewer losses than us. With the talent we have and the sustained drive, we can still make this work for us and win the championship. Having a healthy Bynum would improve those odds, but that is why this is a team game. 2-0 on the road trip, NY on Monday and let’s all pray that Bynum’s knee is okay and that he can return this season healthy.

  248. Gerald Walker’s Ghost January 31, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Really sorry for tripping Kobe into Bynum…

  249. Gerald Wallace’s Ghost January 31, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Whatchu talking bout, that was me.

  250. 260 – don’t you mean gerald wallace?

  251. I’m a Lakers fan from Toronto, Canada and I saw the Bynum injury and was highly concerned. I hate the Celtics because of their trash talk, KG intimidating younger players and thats why I want Lakers and Co. to smash the crap outta the celtics this upcoming game. i hope kobe drops 82 and destroys them in the TD banknorth garden. thats why bynums injury was a concern. they need him to demolish the celtics goooo lakerssss

  252. I’m sure people wouldn’t mind the “lack of toughness” comments, if those who made them actually had some evidence to back it up. The Lakers are top 4 in offensive rebounding, top 4 in defensive efficiency, what else can you ask for? I don’t care how many singular examples you have on “lacking toughness”; I can come up with just as many examples of a Laker exuding toughness.

    It’s one thing to have an opinion; it’s another to assume your opinion is right without having some sort of factual basis to back it up. You can have all the unfounded opinions you want, just don’t expect anyone else to buy into them.

    I for one know the Lakers are not the toughest team in the league, but I also don’t think they ever will be. It’s not this team’s style; it’s not our personnel’s style. Our team is built to outscore our opponents in the long-run, while having short-run spurts of defensive brilliance. Compare that to Boston’s philosophy to out-defend an opponent in the long-run, then score more points than them in the short-run, and I don’t see any reason why LA needs to be as tough as Boston. Look at how much Boston has struggled when their offense is off; same as us when our defense is giving up a bazillion points.

    Anyone looking for perfection in anything, let alone a basketball team, is looking for disappointment. Boston wasn’t a perfect team last year; the 72-10 Bulls weren’t a perfect team in 95-96. But you don’t have to be perfect to be a champion, you just have to be better than everyone else for 4 games out of 7.

  253. I have a simple request and that is to refrain from changing this great forum into one of those ESPN boards where the content makes vomit a daily occurrence.

    So let’s get back to topic, please.

    We hope the injury with Andrew won’t be anything serious. I think the first half could be explained by the shock of Drew going down. People forget that this team is as tight-knitted as the Cavs so the shock took them out of the game.

    The second half, I liked how the team bounced back. That was a good sight of cutting out all the holes of the first half and finishing strong but also, the second unit seems to be falling into the “big lead” syndrome, letting teams get back into it with poor execution and a rushed pace. I know the second unit likes to push the pace, but sometimes they need to know when to slow it down a bit.

    Let’s refrain from character attacks please.

  254. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Whoever said Kobe was being a bad teammate, here was his reaction to Drew’s injury:

    “I feel bad for him because he’s been playing so well and putting in a lot of work to get to this point. I’m a little (ticked) off right now because this happened to him at this moment in time. Hopefully, it’s not something that’s too severe and he’ll get back soon and pick right back up where he left off. I’m just upset that this happened to him with all the work he’s done. You have to stay positive. I’m happy he has that approach.”

    Drew himself is optimistic though:

    “I saw Kobe driving to the basket, and I was able to pick my leg up and that saved me from major damage,” Bynum said. “I can put pressure on it. I can walk. I don’t need the crutch. It’s just there. I definitely feel optimistic as opposed to last year.

    “It’s much better than what happened last year. I am able to put weight on it. There were no ‘pops.’ I don’t really need the crutches, but they’d like me to use them for now. I have to stay optimistic. I want to return and continue doing the things I was doing out there.”

  255. Here’s an HQ version of the video for anyone who hasn’t seen it:

    youtube dot com / watch?v=Fqcdz9dDilc

  256. the other Stephen January 31, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    thanks for the updates, peanut butter and snoopy.

  257. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    no problem, the other Stephen!

  258. Cal’s center, Jordan Wilkes, left today’s game injured too. Bad day.

  259. Completely off-topic, but Brook Lopez just went for 24 pts on 50% FG, 17 boards, 4 blocks. Wow. This rookie class is so strong. Another up and coming big man, great for the league.

  260. How about Pau Gasoft? Is he tough?

  261. Kobe and Fisher are the only starters I would call tough. And off the bench you got Odom and Ariza. Bynum is getting there. Gasol is not tough, but its no surprise as most of these European players tend not to be (Dirk). Also, look at Vlad. you look at the Celtics however, and its hard to find a player on that team that isnt tough. Most Laker fans are too blind to see this.

  262. Simply put, the name calling will cease. At everyone on this board.

    Don’t get sucked into the game Joe and anon want to play, the bate you into an argument game. It’s very third grade. And that will be ending here as well.

    But there are a lot of people who think the Lakers are a soft team. As I’ve said before, I think the conventional wisdom is that teams are soft until they are not — the Lakers win the title and suddenly they are tough, or tough enough. Until then, soft will be the default answer for anyone who can’t come up with something better. Lakers fans need to accept on some level that is the default for many fans and challenge it with smart thoughts. But in the end, the only thing that changes that perception is a title, even though a title and some level of toughness are not hand in hand.

  263. And yes, the moderation got a little lose tonight because I tivo’d the game and went to a party at a friend’s place where the game was not on. I continue to live and learn. This blog has gotten more hits since the ESPN affiliation, but I will not let the comments here and the core of this site change in substance from what it has been. If that means more stringent steps to keep things sane, I’ll do it. I just hope it won’t come to that. I’m an optimist at heart.

  264. Finally, let me make a comment on the weary toughness issue with fans and the media that explains my thinking (and yes, three in a row, sorry).

    What do you think Celtics fans and the Boston media were saying after game six against Atlanta in the playoffs last year? That the Celtics were warriors, a tough team? Not exactly. This was a soft team that may escape Atlanta but was doomed long term.

    We know that to be wrong. In the first round of the playoffs, we still were not sure the Celtics were the best team in basketball. But they win the title and all their sins are washed away. That is how conventional wisdom works. I think this is a tougher Lakers team, but to be honest nobody knows right now any anyone who is certain is foolish at this point.

    But Lakers fans, I think, want to believe and hope for the best.

  265. Kurt,

    Thanks for your guidance. I agree that you will need to maintain vigilance to keep the best F,B, & G qualities with an increased volume and variety of new posters.

    Although I appreciate the interesting attributions and personal philosophies, I’d like to make a few points about the Lakers in tonight’s game. Perhaps i can consolidate a few of the earlier comments.

    During the first and second quarter, the Lakers were outscored by Memphis–and gave up 61 points by half time. Even without the distraction of the Bynum “drama,” that has not been unusual with the Lakers of late. What is unusual is that they won going away on the basis of a defense that gave up only 37 points in the second half: they did it with defense!

    They did it with alignments and substitution patterns similar to their run last year after Gasol joined the team, and Gasol picked up some of the scoring slack, Lamar took on a more active role in the offense, and Trevor was the new X factor.

    Little used Chris Mihm did his best imitation of Ronny Turiaff with agressive picks and defensive positioning, adding more rebounds and about the same number of fouls.

    It is what we are likely to see for the rest of this road trip, and if this type of defense continues, I like the Laker’s chances–even against the “Crabs” and the “Leprechauns.”

  266. Kurt, I was not trying to argue with nobody. I expressed an opinion in which I believed the Lakers are still a fairly soft team. It has nothing to do with the media. And people started to disagree with me, which was fine, but then started to refer to me as “joe the plumber”, which was completely uncalled for. The fact is, the toughness I am referring to is just as much mental as it is physical. And this has nothing to do with the media, I hate the media as much as anybody, I agree that people like Michael Wilbon, know nothing about basketball even though he acts like he does. The Lakers are not as tough as Boston, can you agree with that? Ok, Boston may be the toughest and most physical team in the league, but you play a team like that in the championship, and it really puts you at a disadvantage. I mainly go by history. Most teams that have won the championship in the last 20 years have been, yes you guessed it, “tough teams”. The pistons in when they won it those two years before the Bulls were very very tough. The Bulls with Jordon and Pippin were very tough. The Spurs won their championships because they were a tough team that could shut you down defensively. Our Laker teams that won 3 in a row were some of the most mentally tough teams I had ever seen. Should of lost to the Blazers, but made an amazing come back in the 4th quarter. Beat that really tough King’s team on their homecourt who pretty much outplayed us the whole series. This team we have now, I dont believe can match the physical and mental toughness of many of those teams I just mentioned. Your right Kurt, I need more proof that the Lakers are indeed a tough team. Unfortunetly however, they have lost a lot of close games this year, they have giving up too many points too many times. And keep in mind we may be right there with the 3 eastern monsters, but way more of our games have been home games, and we play in an easier conference, against the East, the Lakers are under 700 hundred. Maybe I expect too much from this team, but I think thats a good thing. I am not content at all where the Lakers are at and mark my words, they have a lot of work to do before they beat Boston in the finals, that is, if that is how it ends up.

  267. I look at the big picture probably more than anyone in this forum. Right now the Lakers are good enough to be beating down teams, and even without Bynum. But come NBA finals if that is where they end up, can they really beat Boston? Lets assume Boston since that will be their toughest match up. I really dont think so. So while I am confident they will get better throughout the year, I am not going to sit here all content. Once in awhile I may dish out some criticism, but I usually say good things, and of course the bad always overlooks the good. I mean talent is not the issue. But obviously something is an issue because this team is not ready to beat Boston. So what is it you guys think if it aint the toughness factor? I would even say defense can be a problem, but no one in this forum thinks that’s a problem either. Ok you know what, I am done talking about this. But just remember, I love the Lakers and I do NOT get my sources of information from the media!

  268. Joe, let me put this as simply as I can:

    NOBODY knows if the Lakers are “tough enough” to win the NBA title. So to come in to this forum, using a very simplistic term like “tough” to compare this team to the Celtics, and saying that they cannot beat them because of it, to come off as certain they cannot (and that is how you come off), generates a lot of frustrated comments from Lakers fans who understand that nobody is certain about anything point.

    Some Lakers fans have seemingly severe emotional scars from the finals last season, which is too bad. Because this is a fun and beautiful team to watch, the offense is spectacular and the defense is improved. This is a fun team to watch play, and it is one of the three best in the NBA, a team certainly a contender for the title.

    I feel bad for fans who are “championships or bust” and can’t enjoy the game and this team for the great things it is doing. Life is about the journey, not the destination.

  269. Kurt, I love getting into New York City but I could do without the plane ride. That said, I am enjoying this season and hope that Drew’s injury becomes a footnote an the way to his speedy return and great victories.

    They say that the winners get to write history. I wasn’t around back in the Russell years but I am guessing that Boston fans had a perception of LA and the Lakers which gave rise to the softness label. I do remember the 80′s and very clearly recall that “fakers” tag along with the derogatory view of glittery LA and how the fans were fake and the team was soft even as the Lakers were winning 5 championships to their few. Even when the Lakers were beating a very tough Detroit team there was a perception, less valid but still pressed by some, that the Lakers were a finesse team. Boston and Detroit were blue collar teams. Remember the Lakers only beat Detroit because Isaiah had a bumb ankle. I can’t remember all the excuses coming out of Boston back then. Now, I might agree with the finesse tag but there was a mental toughness to the 80′s Lakers that cannot be argued against. Even as nobody could claim that a team centered around Shaq in his prime was anything but physically tough lets not forget that until Utah was put aside, they didn’t have the mental fortitude to win the big games either… until they could. Now, this is speculation but, I am pretty sure that if the C’s had a team worthy of meeting the Shaq-Kobe Lakers then there would have been a line of thinking that these Lakers were too soft leading to that series. It is simply how the Boston fans think and how their media presents the narrative and when the Celtics win then it becomes the general perception. The winner writes history. If you think about it, that is the story we sort of tell regarding the Blazers who were too mentally weak to hold a 15-point lead in the 4th quarter of a game seven and what else is the tag “Queens” supposed to say about Sactown’s team?

    Kurt speaks to this in his latest comment but it bears repeating, its a little sad that we are so focused on who wins the last game of the season that we often miss out on appreciating all the great games played by some very good, very talented, very spirited teams. They say we never remember who came in second. I remember. I remember the Blazers. I remember the Kings. I remember the Nets. I remember the Spurs. I remember the Pacers and the 6ers. I kind of remember the Nuggets and I remember the Jazz. I remember the Lakers and this year I’m going to remember the Celtics.