Preview & Chat: The Phoenix Suns

Kurt —  February 26, 2009

Sports News - February 16, 2009
Records: Lakers 47-10 (1st in West) Suns 32-24 (9th in West, half a game out of 8th)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.2 (1st in league) Suns 111.8 (4th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.4 (7th in league) Suns 109.5 (20th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Suns Leandro Barbosa, Jason Richardson, Matt Barnes, Grant Hill, Shaq

Lakers Coming In I think it’s a sign of how good things are going that what has Lakers fans upset is a perceived slight by John Hollinger over at ESPN. If that’s the biggest problem we have — a power ranking that has no bearing on the playoff seedings or anything else — then we are in good shape.

We are getting to the point in the season when we can start to look at potential first-round matchups. Right now, teams 7, 8 and 9 are Utah, Dallas and Phoenix. The only team I really wouldn’t want of that group to start with is Utah — not that the Lakers couldn’t beat them, I don’t think there is a team in the West that beats a healthy Lakers squad, but you want a first-round series you can end early and get some rest for your players. Utah will not be an easy out, and with the right matchup is a team that can pull a first-round upset. Dallas and Phoenix are good as well, both teams have players that can single handedly win a game or two in the playoffs, but it takes a team to win a series, and they don’t have that.

I expect that Utah will be seventh or higher, they are healthy now and playing well. Which means either the Suns or Mavs will be the odd team out (barring a major injury from a team above them). It will be interesting to see how that shakes out.

TOP CHEF SPOILER ALERT!

Hosea Is Top Chef? On one hand Hosea deserved it, he had the best overall meal on the last night of the show. I think Carla would have won this thing if she stuck to her guns and did what she wanted, Stephan could have won with a Top Chef Finale worthy desert, not ice cream. If you’re going to go desert in the finale, you better have a spectacular one in the cookbook.

Hosea was good and safe the entire show. He rarely ever was bad, but he was rarely ever spectacular. He was steady good, and that was good enough. But if I were opening a restaurant he would be the last of the final three I would hire — with some work you could get Stephan or Carla to put together an amazing menu, you just have to get the misses out of the lineup. Hosea’s menu would be good, but not great. I just wanted to see great win, not steady. But good on Hosea, who at least seemed like a guy you’d want to have a beer with.

The Suns Coming In: No Steve Nash tonight, that’s the report. I got that info from Brett Pollakoff of Fanhouse, who has been the best source of Suns info this year. Here are his thoughts on the Gentrified Suns:

We all know by now that the Suns have reverted to D’Antoni ball under new head coach (and former assistant under Mike D.) Alvin Gentry. Phoenix is 4-1 since they made the switch, with the only loss coming to the Celtics. Since Amare Stoudemire has left the lineup, Phoenix has decided to try to run even more if that’s possible, buy going extra-small in the starting lineup.

It’s been Nash, Barbosa, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, and Shaq. Barbosa has been playing out of his mind in the new (old) system, including putting up a crazy line of 41 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and six steals (!) against Oklahoma City last week. But a team like the Lakers should have little trouble handling this lineup — if they play smart and don’t get caught up in a track meet.

While the Suns have crushed some lesser NBA squads, what hurts them in the new system is their defense. Again, here’s Brett, this one from Fanhouse:

For a team that prides itself on being so quick offensively, the Suns are extremely slow when it comes to defense. The veterans have trouble staying in front of their man or fighting through screens, and the help comes late or not at all — so they end up fouling.

If the NY Times magazine piece taught us anything about beating the Lakers, one big key is keeping them off the free throw line. OKC did not do that the other night and it cost them. The Lakers should be able to get to the line tonight.

Keys To The Game: Phil is not one to adjust to what another coach is doing, he wants you to adjust to him. So look for the Lakers to try to use their size advantage tonight. If Shaq is on Gasol, put Pau in the high post and pull the big man away from the basket. Odom will be able to dominate the boards if Shaq is 15 feet out trying to run down Pau.

Here is the scoop on beating these Suns from Brett:

The way to beat the Suns is to push the ball like they do, but only when the opportunities are available. This is important, because if you start taking long jumpers (or three-pointers as the Lakers sometimes like to do) early in the shot clock, unless they’re all going down, it’s going to feed into the Phoenix running game. And obviously, you don’t want to do that.

The rest of the time — after made baskets or in the rare instance that the Suns get back on defense after a miss — the key is to run the offense, and have patience in waiting for high percentage shots to open up. And inevitably, they will. The Suns are a horrible half court defensive team, and they know it — which is why they try to avoid that scenario by pushing the tempo at all costs.

Run when you can, work for (and make!) high percentage shots in the half court set when you can’t. And don’t get sucked into taking bad shots early in the shot clock. That’s how to beat the Suns.

So Fish, although you hit them, lay off the PUJIT’s tonight. That recipe above is what the Celtics followed — they shot 60% against the Suns last week. The Lakers can do the same.

Also, because the Suns like to run now, they leave the rebounding to Shaq and just take off. If Gasol and Odom crash hard on the offensive glass, the Lakers should get some second chance points and put backs.

Where you can watch: It’s the second TNT game, so the official start is 7:30, the actual will be 7:45 and we will still miss the first five minutes.

Kurt

Posts

165 responses to Preview & Chat: The Phoenix Suns

  1. the other Stephen February 26, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    what a delightful recipe. phil jackson, chef de cuisine, and his merry band of dream-crushers and seven seconds or more basketball.

  2. why is Nash out?
    sure ain’t like the old days, Nash would never miss a game with the Lakers, if it was at all possible, guess it’s a combo of him growing older, more fatigued, and that we’re not as much a rival these days.
    seems like onlt yesterday that they had our number and beat down on us on a regular basis.
    I have a friend in Phx, and he would bring me to the Laker games in Phx, good seats, what a rowdy crowd!
    and talk about hating the lakers! almost as bad a beantown.
    my how things have changed.
    the thing to be careful tonight is that whenever we face teams with a few starters out, (Nash/Amare) we tend to let down our intensity a bit…gotta bring it tonight, every night now down the stretch.
    saw in the Times today, Andrew is on the bike, but still 4 to 8 weeks away. (hope they are just trying to keep our expectations low, and he surprises all with an early return)

  3. What’s wrong with nash?

  4. Ah, nevermind – I see he’s got a sprained ankle. too bad.

    This would be a good game for Mbenga to spell Pau some and offer up some fouls in defense of Shaq.

  5. I have no evidence of this whatsoever but I feel fish has cut down on his PUJITs- and FGAs in general- lately. He’s had big moments late in games, but I feel like he’s been saving himself a little. Again, I have nothing to back that up whatsoever.

    What is the combined over/under on the number of points the Lakers score in the next 3 games? I’m saying they score over 350.

  6. I’d like to see the Lakers make another statement win tonight, and again over the following two games.

    We all read the debate/discussion about the psychological value of regualr season games. Well these games are against teams that aren’t as good as the Lakers, and which could be potential playoff opponents. I’d like to see the Lakers put a smack down beating on these teams this week so that it’ll stay in their opponents minds two to three months from now.

    I want to see the Suns and Nuggets starters on the bench in the fourth quarter, with those dejected, “We can’t beat these guys” looks on their faces.

    It’s late in the year and the time for letting bad teams linger (a al the Wolves a few days ago) needs to cease.

    Here’s to a 2000-01 style close out of the regular season, blitzing everyone on the way to a dominant playoffs. It’s possible if the Lakers are willing to go out and get it done.

  7. Anyone want to place odds that Shaq pulls his customary Staples Center no-show? I actually think he’ll play tonight, but if you look at his history (on Miami and Phoenix) in games against the Lakers in LA, it’s downright shameful….

  8. chris j, the best ‘tude I ever saw was with the Magic led team of the late 80′s. I was at a game one time in the Forum, against the Jazz, and Malone, Stockton, Eton, etc were all at center court waiting for the Lakers to come out for opening tip. I had floor seats for this one so my angle was perfect, I was behind the team as they walked on the court and I could see it in Malone’s and Stockton’s eyes, it was like “Oh man, here they come…and we don’t have a chance…”.
    and the lakers were like that line up walking in slo-mo in “reservoir dogs” slowly walking out like…”we bad, we know it”.
    it was so cool, and yeah, we stomped ‘em that night.

  9. Should be an interesting back to back. We haven’t seen the either team in awhile. We need to be sharper compared to the Minnesota/OKC trip. As long as we don’t get into a track meet w/ the Suns everything should be good.

    I expect a good amount of defensive 3 on PHX w/ Shaq not coming out on Pau.

  10. Ahh Kurt! I wish you had marked off the Top Chef spoilers… I DVR’ed it and was planning to watch it after the game tonight!

  11. Spike, I’m sorry, I’ll put one in now.

  12. I think Utah will finish 3rd in the West, and that makes me glad. The Lakers are the deepest team in the conference, but the Jazz are the next deepest. I’d love to see them and the Spurs duke it out in the second round. I believe Houston and NOLA will duel for the 4th spot and home-court advantage in the first round. Denver and Portland will fight it out for 6th, with Dallas coming in 8th. I think the Big Shaqtus will miss the playoffs this season. More time for Scrabble with Mike Breen and Stuart Scott (that commercial kills me every time).

    I was on a site walk for my job this morning with about eight other guys, and everyone was buzzing about the Clips beating the C’s last night. Good times :-))

  13. Interesting article by Hollinger on the all time best Laker duos. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=PERDiem-090226. As Lakers fans we should feel blessed by the amazing amount of HOF athletes we have been privileged to watch over the years.

  14. Any thoughts by Kurt or others on what Phoenix’s strengths are right now that can threaten the Lakers tonight? Are they able to run the pick and roll without Amare? Are they just going to make it a track meet and hope to outlast the Lakers? I don’t think that works over the course of a game since the Lakers offense can get going pretty good if you give it the chance. While today’s preview does a great job detailing some of the shortcomings of PHX, I’m hoping someone has seen a couple of their recent games enough to recognize one or two of their strengths for us to look out for.

  15. Hollinger was just tossing a bone to Laker fans, since there are too many who probably take him to task for having the Lakers 3rd in his Power Rankings formula.

  16. Does anyone know Hollinger’s formula for determining his rankings? I’d rather call the formula flawed and leave the man alone.

  17. Hollinger’s exact formula is here:

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=Rankings-Intro&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba%2finsider%2fcolumns%2fstory%3fcolumnist%3dhollinger_john%26page%3dRankings-Intro

    As someone who has experience in metric synthesis, it is very, very difficult to create a quantitative measure of a subjective characteristic (which team is better). Overall, I like and support Hollinger’s formula, but Hollinger’s formula, like all statistics, should be taken with a grain of salt.

  18. Is Top Chef over yet? I don’t like seeing updates about it on an otherwise amazing sports (Lakers) blog.

  19. Hollinger’s numbers are a joke. His stuff isn’t even worth reading. It’s just nerd psychobabble.

    8 – I wholly agree that that 80′s-era squad had the attitude of greatness, and was far superior to the 2000-era squads.

    That said, that 2000-01 run to close out the year was the most-enjoyable playoff stretch I can remember as a fan. They just crushed good to great teams, night in and night out. Aside from a couple of close games, there was never a doubt which team was best from March on through the parade.

    The closest the 80s Lakers came to that kind of playoff run was probably 1989, when they were 11-0 heading into the Finals before Magic and Byron went down with leg injuries and the Pistons swept the series.

    Coulda, shoulda, woulda doesn’t mean anything, but had those guys – maybe even just one of them – not gone down in the Finals, that Laker team probably would have topped the 2000-01 team’s run.

    But bad luck got in the way…

  20. I didn’t think any of the contestants worthy of the title Top Chef. I thought all three lacked confidence at some level, with tragic results.

    Karla didn’t believe in herself, which is why she took those suggestions.

    Stefan lacked confidence in his native cuisine, which comprised his most successful dishes; he relied too heavily on convention and technique and overestimated their value.

    Hosea lacked confidence in his pastry skills; I suppose being a well-rounded chef doesn’t count for much in the judge’s eyes.

    The most impressive thing about the finale was the amount of cleavage Gail Simmons put on display, to be perfectly frank.

    Anyway, I’d be shocked if the Lakers lose tonight.

  21. 14. Nomuskles, their strength is that their offense is good, although a little off sans Nash and Amare. They can still score, but like has been said what they need to win is a team willing to play the game on their terms. Dictate the terms and you will win.

  22. Darn that Top Chef spoiler! It couldnt have waited could it? =)

  23. coffee is for closers February 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    I’m apoplectic about the TC result – that sniveling little whining, play-it-safe hosea won – c’mon! exactly, if given the choice, i’m eating at the other two chef’s restaurant.

    as for hollinger, he reminds me of the geeky stat guy from high school who’s too busy charting information into his spreadsheet, and doesn’t actually watch what’s taking place on the court.

  24. If you look at Hollinger’s playoff odds, it has the Celts and Crabs beating us, but the Magic or lesser East evils losing to the Lakes.

    We all know what happened this season:
    Lakers swept Celts and Crabs, but got swept by the Magic.

    But, that’s what happens when you base your system on mathematical theory.

  25. Eh, I don’t know why people are complaining about Hollinger’s rankings so much. It’s a mathematical formula. There’s no bias or anything really. If you have a problem with the formula, then that’s fine, but I don’t know what the big deal is.

    For Top Chef, Hosea definitely wasn’t the best chef, but was the one that came through down the stretch and in the end, that’s all that matters. Doesn’t matter what your record is coming in, but how you perform in the finale.

    Anyhow, I think DJ might see some burn against Shaq just to have a big body in the lane. Asking Pau to guard Shaq in the low post is a bit much. That said, on the offensive end, if Pau can lure Shaq out of the paint, Lamar should be able to drive at will to the basket.

  26. Anybody who complains about Hollinger’s formula is just that. Complaining. You don’t like it. You think its a bad way to judge a team. Why don’t you come up with a better formula to figure out which team is better then……

  27. Hollinger’s formula is fine – not perfect by any means, but valuable as a point of information.

    81 Witness – Do you honestly believe that the Lakers are more likely to lose to a team in the East other than the Cavs or Celts? Even including the information of Lakers victories over both, you would rather face them than another East team?

    As for Phoenix – I worry somewhat because the Bench Mob could very easily get sucked into the Suns’ game style – it’s not that dissimilar to the way they usually play, but they’ve been far less effective since Bynum went down, and I could see Phoenix making runs while the starters sit.

  28. I’m pissed off. My thermometer’s power ranking put PHEONIX ahead of the Lakers, who it actually has at the same level as the CLIPPERS??? What a travesty! I do support its low ranking for the Celtics, who are ranked even below the Carlotte Bobcats, but I’m sick of the blatant Texas/ Arizona bias!

  29. With all the missing players and problems the Suns have been having, I think the biggest danger they pose to the Lakers is to appear harmless.

    The Lakers fall asleep during the long TNT delay and commercial breaks and don’t realize the game has started until someone mentions it to Kobe when he’s on the bench at the start of the fourth quarter, and the long climb back from a double-digit deficit begins . . .

  30. 28, Underbruin, I whole-heartedly disagree. I believe our bench will benefit greatly from the increased pace. Unless Phoenix is letting Barbosa go the whole 48, there’s no way their bench is better at “running” SSOL than our bench. With Farmar, Vujacic, Ariza, and Odom getting out in transition, I expect our bench to be just as efficient as them offensively. As we’ve seen in the past few games, our bench really gets bogged down running the triangle and our sets, but they’re great in transition. Giving them a chance to let loose will hopefully get them out of the funk. It will be the defensive end which will ultimately decide the game.

    I’m worried about Pau pounding on Shaq for the entire game. I second the idea to bring in Mbenga for some extended burn against Shaq. As Shaq himself said, it is not running up and down that is tiring; it is pounding in the post that takes a lot more out of him. And I don’t want to have Gasol holding up a 7 foot, 360+ pound wall.

  31. 30. I hear ya. I would love for the Big shaqtus to go out and get 30 and 15 against DJ as along as we win and Shaq doesn’t crush Pau’s vital organs.

  32. Oh no. Marv, Mike, and Reggie doing the Cleveland-Houston game. That means Mark Jackson and JVG for the LA-Phoenix game. Ouch.

  33. Tough to argue with Hollinger’s post on Lakers’ Duos. As for his formula, you treat it like PER. Interesting, useful to a degree, but with its flaws.

  34. that is rough. I really like Reggie. He cracks me up.

  35. Unless I am very much mistaken, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are ESPN commentators, not TNT.

  36. i will be doing the lakers game

  37. Ah, my bad. I misread the schedule. Thank God.

  38. as for TC, there really wasn’t a winning chef this year, really a mediocre crew. Hosea is just a line hog, always will be. Stefan is in catering because nobody will want to work with him and his food is basically like cover-band: tell him what you want and he’ll play it. Karla cooks with a lot of joy but sometimes not much else.

    to keep this somewhat Laker-related, I was reminded again during the fourth quarter against OKC just how privileged we all are to be able to watch Kobe on a day-to-day basis. Sure he has his ups and downs and maybe, just maybe, he’s not the BEST BASKETBALL PLAYER EVER (who thinks up this stuff?), but it really is like having Springsteen in your living room three times a week. I can’t think of another player who makes you marvel at his ability the way he does.

  39. Sweet. Doug Collins is my favorite.

  40. Really? I like the JVG/Mark Jackson duo as long as they have a solid play-by-play guy like Marv or Breen with them. On the other hand, after all-star weekend I would be thrilled if I never heard Reggie Miller’s voice ever again.

  41. A few observations from the Rockets game.

    1) The rockets are pretty good without McHurty

    2) They play pretty good defense.

    3) Shane really does the little things, taking charges, blocking shots, rotating well, boxing out etc

    4) They are a team you might not want to play in the first round.

  42. I wonder if the Lakers will try Hack A Shaq?

    It never seemed to work when he was a Laker …

  43. Hubie brown needs to do every game period.

  44. i like jvg

  45. he annoys me. Gets too focused on one thing for long periods of time.

  46. The only severe limitation that Houston has is an inability to score as soon as Yao leaves the floor. Take them down the stretch and they have a ton of guys who can’t create their own shot. Artest can be hot and cold at the offensive end and really needs his feet set to score.

  47. im funny though.

  48. I just started watching the Cavs-Rockets game, and… where’s Lebron? Not on the court, and I don’t see him on the bench either. Huh?

  49. Ah, there he is. Never mind :)

    Hi everyone, btw. I’ve missed this place.

  50. I just like that he doesn’t seem to censor himself all that much…he’s kind of like a more coherent Charles Barkley.

    My favorite JVG quote was during the game that Chris Paul broke the record for consecutive games with a steal. They put a graphic up on the screen (one that Van Gundy clearly hadn’t seen before) showing the 4 active players with the longest streaks of games with at least one steal. 1st was Chris Paul with 120 or whatever it was, then Rondo with 20-something, then two players tied for 3rd with 9: Jarrett Jack (I think) and…Jeff Foster. Van Gundy was incredulous: “JEFF FOSTER?? Uh oh! You’ve gotta hold on to the ball when JEFF FOSTER is in the vicinity!” That killed me.

  51. Mimsy, Lebron hasn’t had a very good night artest has been all over him, and he had four fouls early in the 3rd. Not hurt or anything…

  52. Ah, that makes perfect sense. Thanks, Derek! :)

  53. And to top off the night, Yao stuffs LeBron on a drive. Wow. Great game for Houston.

  54. artest and battier have been swarming him and he has not been responding well. Hes just sitting because I think Brown has conceded the game

  55. After tonight…
    Rockets with McGrady: 20-15
    Rockets w/o McGrady: 17-6

    The guy was hurt all season, and was hurting his team whenever he played. Houston looks scary with both Artest and Battier in the starting lineup guarding the wings. Barring injury, they’re winning their first round. I think I’ll revise my previous formula and state that they will be battling Utah for 3rd in the West, with NOLA coming in 5th.

  56. Cavs lose!!!

    Ben Wallace fractured fibula
    Lebron shaken up with the spurs tmrw

  57. 40

    I would have said the same thing before All-Star Weekend. He is terrible.

  58. You know what would be really messed up? If the Rockets were to finally win a first round series – without T-Mac. And it’s a distinct possibility if they end up facing a team like Dallas or Portland.

  59. link pls?

  60. I think this might be the one… http://www.justin.tv/jackets21

  61. Sloppy passing=fast break buckets for Phoenix.

  62. Is that Nash disguised as Barbosa?

  63. take away the baseline drive and reverse layup. Please.

  64. chances I get 50 tonight?

  65. Can’t afford to be sloppy against this Phoenix team. Give them any opportunity to get on the break and they’re going to have a field day in the open court.

  66. Another link if the other one bothers you for some reason:

    http://www.justin.tv/weakattack

  67. Is it just bad help side defense or is Kobe going against team philosophy by allowing baseline when his guy has the ball in the corner? You obviously want to take away the drive to the middle, but maybe at a slighty narrower angle.

  68. Forcing baseline is one thing..backing off completely from your man and then the big basically welcoming him to the basket is another.

  69. #69,
    Question is though, is that score the fault of the big welcoming him or the perimeter defender backing away? I say it’s a team blame thing.

  70. Kobe is as hot as I have ever seen him right now.

  71. Depth baby, depth.

  72. #70, that’s why I’m asking. Since the Lakers have installed a clear pattern for more complicated strong side situations, this seems like a perfect one for a set rotation. Meaning it might make sense to open up the baseline a little and encourage the drive, but only if the big is already waiting to come to double.

  73. Take away Shaq and this team is absolutely tiny. Either they play Lopez or they are going to have to double every time Pau touches the ball in the post.

  74. 68/69. The principles of the Lakers D call for help from a big for Kobe, he got none.

  75. Man, is the Lakers’ attack ever beautiful to watch? It’s really something special at times=)

  76. Fair point, Kaifa. That only works if the big in the paint is ready for the drive, not to mention able to stop it.

    It’s in moments like these that I miss Bynum…

  77. Ironically, standing next to Sager might be one of the few occasions where I wouldn’t complain about a detached retina.

  78. thanks mimsy!

  79. Always happy to help, Chris. :)

  80. The main drawback to Hollinger’s system is that it is very heavily weighted to Point Differential, because in the past that has been one of the most consistent indicators, especially in hindsight.

    But, it doesn’t take coaching into account.

    The announcers said tonight that Kobe has sat the entire 4th quarter eight times this season. (Is that true? Wow.) That makes a big difference, for sure, in final point differential, even though it is a sound coaching choice and did not cost the Lakers any wins.

    Also, last minute heaves, garbage time, etc all factor in, so the Lakers suffer a bit for that.

    Let’s be honest, any game that Sun Yue or Adam Morrison see playtime in during the fourth quarter should not be taken into consideration…

  81. Thoughts on Farmar’s beard?

  82. There has been a depressing lack of facial hair on the Laker bench since Turiaf left. Morrison’s porn stac is all well and good, but we needed for a real beard. Farmer stepped up and did what was necessary for the team, and should be commended. Plus, the beard makes his ears look smaller which means he now looks more like an Earthling and less like a Vulcan. Since extra-terrestrials have been banned from playing in the NBA for some time now, that will also cut back significantly on administrative costs for the team.

    In short, we approve of the beard.

  83. Kobe’s got 4 ast and is 6-6 already, this is going to be a good night for him.

  84. 82
    its absolutely sensational!

  85. 3Threelll: True. Also, Phil generally has a tendency to let the second unit play through the rough spots, whereas other coaches would just put the starters in right away. That tends to skew the numbers.

  86. 81-I think Hollinger believes (and I may be wrong) that these sorts of things balance out. Cleveland and Boston probably rest their stars at a similiar amount to Phil. Whether they do or don’t is another question… All teams have scrubs that only play at the end of blowouts. But for what it’s worth, LeBron’s minutes are down to 37.4 this year.

  87. I approve of the Farmar beard.

    And Mbenga seeing burn against Shaq.

  88. Wow. Mbenga scored his first basket of the season. What a game.

  89. Mbenga!!!!!

  90. mbenga is playin awesome!

  91. mbenga pulls a shannon brown

  92. Mbenga with another basket? My goodness.

  93. Joel: You might have to change your famous exclamation to “Stop! Mbenga Time!”;)

  94. Who needs Andrew Bynum when we have DJ Mbenga? :)

  95. Mbenga has done more in the last 3 minutes than Mihm did all season.

  96. Wow! Where did this Mbenga come from? He’s… playing aggressive. This is awesome!

  97. 94

    Whoa there Andreas, let’s not take things too far now…

  98. Sasha can dunk?

  99. Sasha with a dunk!!!

  100. Mbenga hitting turnaround bank shots, Sasha dunking… You know things are going well when things like that are happening.

  101. Maybe we can rest Pau, Kobe and LO for three entire quarters tonight?:D

  102. I say let the starters sit the rest of the game and have our 2nd unit run run run with the suns…

  103. Now Adam Morrison is on the court. If that’s not disrespect I don’t know what is.

  104. Someone please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks Morrison looks like Emperor Ming, with his hair like that…?

  105. You know, I was really happy when the Sun traded for Shaq and began thier decline, but now I am kind-of sad… I’m going to miss this old rivalry…

  106. In 7 1/2 minutes, Mbenga scored 4 pts on 2-2 FG, 1 reb, 1 stl, 2 blks (including a facial on Shaq that everyone missed because of the bad camera angle). Why did Chris Mihm even get one minute of playing time all season? Currently, he’s not even 20% of the player that Mbenga is.

  107. I love Doug Collins, but why do analysts think Lamar suddenly started getting 10 more rebounds a game (and points, for that matter)? His playing time did increase…

  108. Emperor Ming gets the rebound!

  109. Ammo with an offensive rebound and a dunk. This game is fun.

  110. Sweet dish by Ammo.

  111. The Lakers just made a 70 point half look routine.

  112. Darius

    to add to that…they did it without one starter playing more than 15 minutes

  113. You know things are good when we go 12 deep.

  114. what won it for Hosea was Richard Blaise. Richard should have won season 4 and just kind of dropped the ball in the final challenge.

    and yes, it is halftime and this game isn’t holding my attention at all so a discussion of Top Chef is warranted.

    On a non top chef note: I hope Adam Morrison continues to get playing time in the “extended garbage time” of the second half. If he gets healthy and commits to defense in the off season he could compete with Luke for minutes.

  115. DJ Mbenga career-high eight points on 4-of-4 shooting in eight minutes Versus Sacremento on April 4, 2008

    I hope he goes double digits tonight!

  116. Clark, you are dead on about Richard.

  117. So… how much fan points do I lose if I admit that I’m not watching the game anymore…? It’s my birthday, and my husband gave me a new videogame, so I would hope I have some excuse…?

  118. DJ sent one of Shaq’s jump hooks back air mail, and the announcers didn’t say anything out of respect for Shaq. There was no replay, and the live camera angle was end to end on the court instead of the usual side center. So, everyone missed that spectacular block except for the statistician. Just think what Shaq would be doing to poor Chris Mihm tonight if he were still on the team.

  119. i remember that…the announcer said “shaq being defended by mbenga” but it looked like a block to me too

  120. Clark,

    I agree. Of the three sous chefs, Richard offered the greatest upside because so much of his stuff is complimentary to other cooking styles; his work on the foie gras on Hosea’s scallops made that dish a lot better. Carla shot herself in the foot by taking too much of Casey’s advice. Marcel and Stefan clearly didn’t mesh, as Marcel didn’t tell him that freezing the scallop carpaccio was a bad idea.

  121. 120. Shaq was about five feet away from the rim and DJ sent it back nearly to the FT line. The whole first unit stood up off the bench and applauded. Then a couple plays later, he stuffed Matt Barnes on a fast break. I guess I always defend the guy because when Andrew went down last season, I said we should sign him and sure enough, we did. I’ve always thought the guy could play, but he’s always been relegated to the back of the bench because he doesn’t play as well in practice as he does in the games.

  122. 118. 0.0%. I have a Lakers blog and as soon as my wife gets back from dinner with her friends I am putting on last night’s Lost. I’ll keep the game on DVR, and check the score, but I don’t think I’m learning anything from here on out.

    By the way, I had my identity stolen today, and it sucks.

  123. So sorry to hear that Kurt. You got all your accounts and cards blocked, right?

  124. Happy Birthday Mimsy!

    And Kurt, that’s awful.

  125. Come on guys! The suns still might come back…maybe…probably not…ok they won’t. You got me.

  126. I want to keep watching to see how the 2nd unit plays for the entire 4th and defineately see more Mbenga action.

    We need to worry more about them Rockets I think.

  127. BofA called this morning and asked if I had just spent $1,500 at a Westin hotel about a mile from my home. Plus another $500 or so at other spots. BofA has been great and will make it right, but not for a month at least. In my world, that is a lot of money. I hope the Police catch the bastard, but I’m not optomistic on that part.

  128. Too bad he’s in a suit, I think Sun could score in this game.

  129. On the plus side, BofA will at least take care of the worst part for you. Which in no way means this is any less of a crappy thing to have happen.

    Back to the Laker game, while enjoying my birthday gift I have the box score on in another tab, and I see Mbenga is back in. Still doing well, I hope?

  130. 127 – Kurt, sorry to hear!

    “I hope the Police catch the bastard” – I hope so, too.

  131. Mimsy, happy birthday!!! Enjoy it, life is too short not to celebrate things like this.

  132. Thank you Darius. It was a very happy one :)

  133. And thanks Kurt as well. :)

  134. damn, mbenga.

  135. I hope PHX gets the 8th seed. Please.

  136. Mbenga is hustling out there. He’s making the most of his miinutes.

  137. I think we see why Mbenga doesn’t play much. He has a great motor and is very active, but offensively is prone to illegal screens and doesn’t have much of a one-on-one game, and on defense racks up fouls like Ronny Turiaf with 3 redbulls passing through his system.

  138. Mimsy, he threw down a thunderous dunk then followed it on the next possession with a thunderous air ball from 15 feet on the baseline ;-)

  139. dude – thunderous airball *hilarious*
    kurt — same thing happened to me and BofA reimbursed me for anything that was bought within 48 hours of the report. (which was everything)

  140. corner 3! morrison’s gonzaga specialty

  141. Did you hear the crowd when the Suns score got to 100, no tacos tonight.

    BofA helped me when someone used my check card number on the Internet, how do they get our card numbers to use at will?

  142. How about that… everyone scored tonight! Not much considering we did it against the Suns, but still…

  143. I got my wish about 11 minutes into the third quarter, with a nice TNT pan of the dejected Suns bench.

    Barkley just called SSOL “sissyball” and said the Suns ran Porter off because the players didn’t want to play defense. Classic.

  144. Loved this game. I don’t know about you guys, but I always start cheering louder when our bench guys are in. I just like watching guys like Mbenga, Morrison, and Brown, who are destined to ride the pine, get some good quality burn on national TV. Now for some notes:

    1.) All 5 starters shot 50% or over (some of them way over). Odom was 11-12 and Kobe was 10-13, which is probably Kobe most efficient game this season.

    2.) Is it weird that I really really liked the lineup of Farmar, Brown, Morrison, Powell, and Mbenga? Whoever said Mbenga has no one-on-one offensive game didn’t watch this game. He had a super sweet bank shot in the 2nd quarter right in Shaq’s face. Loved it. Meanwhile, Morrison and Brown seem to be picking up the triangle quite nicely, and Brown’s defense was especially good during junk time. I’m looking forward to him and Farmar possibly becoming a two-headed monster at point guard in the future.

    3.) These Suns are just going completely in opposite directions. Their young guys are at least 1-2 years away from being impact players (Dragic, Dudley, Tucker, Lopez) and their old guys are probably 2-3 years away from the glue factory. But man do they make games easy to watch.

    4.) Towards the end of the game, I think Sasha started coming out of his slump. A couple of threes rattled home during junk time, so look for Sasha to start heating up in the next couple games.

    5.) On that note, Sasha had 14 shots?! More than any other Laker?! Something is just wrong here.

  145. 138. Matt, the more games he plays, the fewer turnovers and fouls per minute he will commit. He had only played about five minutes all season before tonight. Did you see his sweet turnaround bank shot in the first half? I think his biggest flaw is trying for too many blocks, but at least he makes his presence felt. He caused two or three turnovers in the game when he intimidated Dragic and a couple others down low into making extra passes, which they threw away. The only player he should be compared to is Mihm, and the question should be which one of the two is the better third-string center.

  146. Just a random thought here, but there’s something weird I’d like to ask around here.

    Is it possible for a player in the NBA to “volunteer” his services for a single team.. as in play for them for a number of years absolutely free?

    Or if that’s not possible, let’s say I’m a multi-millionaire (in a presumably better economic environment of course) with some spare money to throw around… could I possibly put an NBA player on my payroll just to play for a single team?

    Example: I tell Player A in his off-season free agency looking to sign a contract to take a significantly lower deal, and then promise to pay him the rest of what he was originally looking for myself.

    This is just something that has been bugging me for a while… sorry for the weird ideas.

  147. I went to the Cal- USC game tonight. Crazy game. Cal went up by 10 early in the second half. Then Floyd takes a T and the calls went from favoring the Bears to favoring the Trojans. Cal gets away from its game and they end up in OT. Cal gives up a 3 with under 34 seconds left in OT to bring USC within 1. There are 2 guys Cal wants to get the ball to shoot FTs- Randle and Christopher. Christopher dominated this game but was taking the ball out of bounds. However, nobody guarded that inbounds and Christopher did the old pass-to-himself off the butt of the defender. He hits both FTs and USC airballs at the buzzer. I’ve never seen a play like that affect a game in in crunch time. It had the whole arena abuzz.

    ESPN Gametime will be in Berkeley this Saturday. I don’t think I’ll be up at 6am to get to the show though. I don’t know what value a grizzled 33 year old nursing a tall cup of coffee would add to the scene.

  148. No to both. There are minimum salaries and rules against the second question. The closest thing I could think of to what you are suggesting is maybe putting an older player on a long contract even though you know he’ll only play another year or so, then if he retires the salary could probably come off the books for purposes of the cap but still be paid out. I’m not sure about the last thing I said but may be possible.

  149. Solid game against a team without two key starters that RUN the up-tempo offense.

    We did whatever we wanted. I think opposing teams should look at this tape and notice the sets of Kobe scoring. Because that is exactly what he wants.

    The only thing I didn’t like was Kobe showboating with a 20+ lead putting it between his legs. Like Chuck said, I would have flattened somebody, nothing dirty, but just let the other team know that I’m not going to get embarrassed. I was shuddering when I saw Kobe doing that, b/c then Luke passed it between his legs and it was getting out of hand.

    Glad Pau finally got some rest, now with the best record becoming more and more attainable I hope Phil finds more time for Pau to rest up for the playoffs. If the best record is finalized, Phil talked about a week off later in the season.

    Finally, dang it Boras and Manny. Just trying to start a bidding war between…nobody. Who cares, it’s Laker time.

  150. sorry to hear about your lost cards. i hate that suckers are able to use cards so easily.

  151. #145: I, for one, was glad to see him shoot that much. I’d rather see him shoot than try to take someone off the dribble, and I’ve felt bad for the guy and that slump he’s been in.

  152. 150. Thanks for the answer, much appreciated.

    For a little bit of clarification for my second question though, my position as the multi-millionaire there is just one as a fan, not related in any way to the team.

    A fan, of course, who can’t stand to see his team possibly being broken apart because of the possibility of some players leaving for greener pastures, so he decides to step in and offer to pay them more himself if they sign for less with their current team.

    Yeah, I guess you guys know where I’m going with this… :D

  153. Kurt- sorry to hear about your troubles. I once had a check stolen from me down in L.A. Somebody used it to donate 600% to a church down there. Once I reported it, BofA cancelled it and reimbursed me completely. I guess that’s easier for a check though. A westin would probably have witnesses or video, but I don’t know how much manpoer the police would devote to it.

    Is 4 rebounds Morrison’s career high?? (I kid, I kid!)

  154. 155. Don’t know about Morrison, but 3 assists has to be Mbenga’s career high :)
    I like the fact that Pau sat out the entire 2nd quarter, with DJ getting 7 1/2 of those minutes and Powell getting the remainder. Pretty useful seeing we have a game with Denver tomorrow and another game with Phoenix on Sunday.

  155. I will say, BofA has been great. Just part of modern life, but because of where they charged there is video of them. So, we will see.

    Nice win tonight, but tomorrow will be more of a challenge.

  156. Tonight was the perfect example of what we can do when we face an overmatched team and all (or most of) our players are clicking on offense. The Suns (sans Nash, Amare, and even one capable back up big) are not a legit NBA team. At least with Nash, they’d do a better job of controlling the ball and not commit so many careless turnovers. But with Dragic playing big minutes and then having to start Tucker, they really didn’t have much of an arsenal to contend with our firepower.

  157. Some things to remember about this game:

    1. On +/-, every Laker was +(plus) and every Sun was -(minus).

    2. Lamar was the leading scorer (23) and played the most minutes (34).

    3. Pau, Kobe, and Fisher all played about half the game.

    4. Mbenga was mbanging: 8 points and 5 fouls in 15 minutes.

    An observation:

    When we combine the 19 point loss by Cleveland with the 26 point Laker victory, the Hollinger W/L point differential between the Lakers and Cleveland will narrow almost 1 point per game.

    Consider this wild opinion:

    At this point (with injuries taken into account), the Clippers are better than the Suns.

  158. Oh, and it was nice to see DJ play some effective minutes. Shaq is actually the exact type of player that Mbenga can play well against. DJ can use his strength and athleticism to battle Shaq for positioning and also find himself close to basket on defense (as Shaq will usually be right around the bucket) in order to contest shots from other players at the rim and to rebound well. I hope he can keep it up against other types of players who will try to exploit the limitations in his game, but then I wonder if Phil would use him against those types of players. (On a side note to that point, I do think that playing DJ tonight was classic coaching by Phil in that he really does know how to put players in positions to succeed and in play them in matchups where they can do well.)

  159. I really liked Hollinger’s piece, I always like the near-impossible task of comparing today’s players to the all-time greats.

    I agree with his rankings. My general view is that, if you put aside duration and simply look at each duo at their peak, Shaq and Kobe might be on par or very close to Kareem and Magic. At their peak, it was the most unstoppable inside and outside half-court combination this league has ever seen, but Magic and Kareem were a fusion of a legendary post presence with a man who catalyzed the most successful running system in the game. And the Magic/Kareem tandem not only lasted longer and had more success, but did so in a more difficult era.

    My disclaimer – I never saw the Showtime era in person, so I may be way off. Those are just my impressions from stats and stories I’ve read.

  160. Who writes NBA picture captions? Here’s a great pic from tonight’s game, of Josh Powell fouling “Suns forward Boris Diaw (3) of France.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/photos?photoId=2159428&gameId=290226013

    Someone somewhere is very confused.

  161. New post up. Live Blog creamy goodness!

  162. My 28: “As for Phoenix – I worry somewhat because the Bench Mob could very easily get sucked into the Suns’ game style – it’s not that dissimilar to the way they usually play, but they’ve been far less effective since Bynum went down, and I could see Phoenix making runs while the starters sit.”

    Zephid’s 31:”…I whole-heartedly disagree. I believe our bench will benefit greatly from the increased pace. Unless Phoenix is letting Barbosa go the whole 48, there’s no way their bench is better at “running” SSOL than our bench. With Farmar, Vujacic, Ariza, and Odom getting out in transition, I expect our bench to be just as efficient as them offensively. As we’ve seen in the past few games, our bench really gets bogged down running the triangle and our sets, but they’re great in transition. Giving them a chance to let loose will hopefully get them out of the funk. It will be the defensive end which will ultimately decide the game.”

    … Wow. Good call, Zephid. Gotta give props on that one.

  163. Those Rockets will be a tough out. I hope they meet the Jazz or the Spurs and deplete them for us…