19 and Counting

Kurt —  March 10, 2009

NBA: OCT 28 Blazers at Lakers

Last night I started to break down a section of the game where the Lakers looked particularly inept (there were several options to choose from) but stopped after about a minute of game time.

I wasn’t really learning anything, and I’m not sure that we didn’t all know what was going on: Luke Walton tried but he cannot contain Brandon Roy, and he got little help behind him; Lamar Odom walked away from the bench and his rebounding responsibilities; you have to close out hard on the Blazers three point shooters, especially when they are hot, and the Lakers chose to continue to protect the paint; the Lakers tried to take Aldridge out of the game early and the other Blazers stepped up (see last comment about Lakers rotations); the Lakers did not establish Gasol on offense inside, and Gasol had an off night; when things stared going bad the offense stopped moving and guys were waiting for Kobe Nova. That’s a long list, but all things that focus and game planning could easily fix.

We’ve said it before this season, there are games like this. And we can write a certain amount of those off as what happens when the owners want to play a full 82 for their pocketbooks (same with the players who get a percentage of the income).

But that time is quickly starting to come to an end. There are 19 games left in the season, and the last 20 are when teams need to start gearing up their intensity and focus for the playoffs. For the last three road games, the Lakers have not done that. It is far too early to panic, but it is now a pattern to watch — just like the bench looking lost — because now is when you start to see championship teams build for postseason runs.

So I’m not freaking out about the worst loss of the year. But the timing got my attention, and some patterns need to start changing. Phil, Kobe, the entire team knows this, and they have five weeks to fix it. That’s a lot of time, but now is when the work begins. Another performance like this on April 4 back in Portland and I’ll be a lot more worried.


Regarding the Ariza foul: First things first, I am glad to hear that Rudy Fernandez is fine. That is what is most important.

I am also happy to hear Ariza is not suspended, although I would not have defended him with the vigor I tried to do Bynum. The reason to me is Bynum came from the side on a late rotation, but within the peripheral vision of Wallace. Ariza came from behind. Yes, he got ball, but he also got the head and arms of an airborn player. If he had been suspended, I could have lived with that. But what makes me happy is again the league is looking at the intent and not the result. Nobody (at least outside of Portland, and mostly not there) thinks Ariza was trying to injure Fernandez. It was a hard foul, but those are part of the game. Suspensions should be saved for those whose have some intent in their actions, and that is not Ariza.

No way the Lakers are a dirty team, as some will start to say today. But I think Matt is right at Hardwood Paroxysms, they can be reckless at times.

Also, Odom likely will get suspended. The league is strict on the leaving the bench rule, and the players have to know that. Odom lost his focus. But we’ve said that a lot for four games.


Thanks to Henry at TrueHoop for the kind words — and he was right, you guys rocked last night. Very reasonable and thought out reactions to what happened with the Fernandez incident, and the game. You guys and gals rock. You make this spot fun for me.

Henry, I think, missed one point. It was a very emotional game — for Blazers fans and the team. They (rightfully) still hate LA and regard us as an evil empire. A blowout win over the Lakers is cathartic for them in the way that the regular season wins this year over Boston were cathartic for us. But right now, while this rivalry with Portland is starting to warm up again for us, this is sort of a one-sided thing. This is not a huge deal, the game against the Spurs Thursday will be a bigger rivalry feel for us. Nothing personal, but rivalries come out of the playoffs, and it’s been a while since LA and Portland had to battle it out in the post season. That time is coming again in the next few years, but right now it is not. Sorry, just isn’t. The Lakers game is circled on the calender everywhere they go, and we fans are sort of just used to it now.

And now, a few other links for your enjoyment.

• Jordan Farmar on the weirdest motivational tactic Phil Jackson used on him.

“Well it was my rookie year when I wasn’t playing much. I ate a hamburger at halftime because I was starving. I wasn’t playing, I wasn’t getting any minutes. So I didn’t think..it had been like ten or twelve games where I didn’t see the court. And he saw me eat the hamburger, he fined me, he got mad at me. It was a close game up in Seattle and he put me in and said I hope you blow it.”

• Brilliant video of Kobe talking strategy — how to get your shot off, how to play defense, and the like. Great stuff. (Note to Time/Brightcove, join the times and make your videos available for embed.)

• Great column about Pau’s value to the Lakers.

• Wow, if I were in the East I would not want to face a D-Wade team in the first round.

• If we set it up somewhere online, would people be up for a no-cash FB&G March Madness pool?

to 19 and Counting

  1. Kurt, great post. I 100% agree with you on how important this last quarter is for our postseason aspirations.


  2. I don’t think the Lakers are any more reckless than other teams in the league. That sort of thing is going to happen. You just have to hope nothing serious happens and its good to hear Rudy’s ok. Pretty lame blog post by Hardwood Paroxysm.

    Lakers the past 4-5 games have been playing similarly to how they played in early December when they seemed disinterested during games. The bench has been awful and Odom’s back to his old form. They need to pick it up soon.


  3. Agree with you about Wade. Getting the first seed for Cleveland or Boston means that you have HCA, but also that you have to face Wade in the second round — as I can’t see Miami losing to Atlanta. Is that preferable over Orlando? Maybe. But good luck trying to contain him. Be interesting to see how Spoelstra — probably the best among the first year coaches this year — reacts under playoff pressure and whether Chalmers and Beasley can step it up.

    As for the Portland game, we looked flat all night. No one was creating any sort of offense whatsoever, and Pau is clearly tired from the haul so far. Having Walton and Sasha trying to guard Roy was a mistake also.


  4. Watching Ariza slump the last month I am wondering if he is fatigued. He seems to be taking more chances on defense instead of working to get to the proper position. Or perhaps his risk-taking produced better results in the first part of the season? Anyway, its possible he is wearing down after missing so many games last season. My two cents, love this site.


  5. I didn’t get into this in the post, I cut it, but I wonder if Walton on Roy was one of those in-season experiments by Phil, to see what would happen. Right now, you need to keep Kobe fresh for the road trip, in the playoffs that would be less of an issue, you could put Kobe on Roy or whomever. So Phil goes for the rest and the test of Luke, just to see.


  6. Kurt, I’m not sure what you were trying to get at when you mention how we don’t view Blazers games as a true rivalry yet. Are you trying to give a reason as to why they were noticeably more pumped up to play us than we were them?


  7. Any ideas on why Stu Jackson didn’t announce the Odom result (or just wait to announce Ariza and Odom)?

    Seems like a done deal that Odom will get the suspension especially after he claimed ignorance by saying he didn’t leave the bench.

    What is taking the NBA office longer to make up their mind? It’s on the same video feed, after all.


  8. 6. Yes, but it is also that with a fan base that fired up for the game, the building takes on a different energy. The Blazers NEEDED this game, their fans needed it. That is no excuse for the Lakers to come out that flat, but it talks about where the teams were mentally, and the where the fans were.

    7. If you can find anyone who can explain what the league office does in terms of logic or consistency, please let me know.


  9. And by the way, I think you are all missing how funny that Farmar note is.


  10. I did like that Farmar story. It is just that Phil has always been way, way far out in the motivational area. If a player has a tough hide he seems to take great glee in just roasting the player.


  11. The Dude Abides March 10, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Hah…the first time I read that Phil/Farmar story I interpreted “I hope you blow it” as “I hope you blow chunks.” I guess he really meant that he hoped Jordan would screw up.


  12. Portland is still bitter about game 7 of the 2000 WCF. For Lakers fans, Portland just faded into the background, while teams like San Antonio consistently challenged us in the playoffs.

    I think the Farmar thing was great. Who eats a hamburger at halftime? PJs comment was perfect.


  13. Great post. I very much enjoyed the bits you threw in at the end.
    I love PJ. He’s so weird sometimes. It’s like he does things just to keep himself amused. Both the Farmar thing and the Walton experiment.


  14. Well just keep neglecting to circle those games in the Rose Garden…7 in a row and counting. No big deal.


  15. Actually, the Walton experiment possibility makes a lot of sense – from a Phil point of view. Now, if he wants to move Luke around to better adjust to matchups, he has some reference point to talk to the players.

    Phil has just broadened his options in managing his rotations.


  16. I disagree with most of you in that what I saw last night troubled me. I saw a bunch of role-players that could not pull it together when Kobe/Gasol were having a hard time. If this were the first and only time this season that this occurred , I would not care, but it isnt. I’m not saying the sky is falling, but last night showed just how weak the Lakers can be when Gasol is having an off night (or is taken out of the equation through good D).

    I’m starting to get a little desolutioned that the depth of this team is not quite what some folks out there make it out to be. I’m sorry, but I did not see many players not named Kobe/Gasol/Fish or Ariza picking up the slack. I know, I”m a pessimist. But that’s my opinion at the moment.


  17. JT – So what? Yeah, losing seven games to any team consecutively isn’t good, but at the end of the day what does Portland get from it beyond some happy fans and bragging rights that no players care about?

    The Lakers haven’t lost to Portland in the playoffs since 1992.

    Going further, the Lakers knocked the Blazers out of the postseason in 1985, 1989, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2002.

    That’s not a rivalry.


  18. I’d be up for the NCAA bracket. I think ESPN will allow you to set up a group without too much trouble. The only downside is that you have to register at ESPN’s site. (And the ESPN site can be a bit of a pain to navigate.)


  19. 17. I’ve used Yahoo! in the past for my day job, that was easy. There also is CBS. Anyone have experience with the different platforms?


  20. Great analysis Kurt. And also glad to hear Fernandez is okay. When it happened, I actually did not think it was that hard at all, but that’s what replay is for.

    I will be in Portland for the april game. Trying to decide if I dare bring a Kobe jersey. I wore it to MSG duirng Isiah years, and last year to the Sonics, but never to a place like Portland. In those, it seemed about 50/50 Lakers fans. But Portland will be fun, never been to the Rose Garden.

    I would be interested in a FB&G pool, and Yahoo has a pretty nice setup.


  21. I am more concerned with Luke’s offense than his defense. I think that for the most part he is a solid team defender (he has guarded Pierce and Melo with some success, although Roy is much faster). My thing is, when he is clicking offensively we are tough to beat. When he is not contributing on offense (he has to make those open 15 footers) our offense become woefully predictable and far less efficient.


  22. totally down for a FB&G bracket!

    As for last night’s game, the fallout seems to be hurting the Lakers more than the actual game did. Portland’s dramatics with the stretcher (really? for a chest bruise?) have been interpreted by espn as high drama that they’re going to milk by portraying the Lakers as dirty cheapshot artists, from Ariza’s apparent head-hunting to Odom’s uncontrolled fury off the bench… nice journalistic integrity, ESPiN.


  23. I can’t believe Farmar would act like such a teenager and eat junk food in the middle of a world class athletic competition! Oh, I guess he might’ve been one at the time. How’d he get his hands on a hamburger? I’d love to see video of him coming into the game. PS Maybe LO’s suspension will do him good and get him out of his funk.


  24. lakerade – come on, this wasn’t exactly paul pierce being carried off by his teammates for tweaking his knee…this was a violent, defenseless collision with the floor. Portland was more than justified in bringing out the stretcher, neck brace, etc.


  25. ESPN can say and do whatever they want; it’s up to the Lakers to respond accordingly. I don’t think it’s going to rub off too much on the Lakers – once ESPN’s vulture picks the meat off of this story’s bones, they’ll move on to another T.O story or something and it’ll be an afterthought. It should already be one for the team


  26. Chris J-

    That’s equivalent of getting your butt kicked and then saying…”Oh yeah! Who cares. I wasn’t even trying. I could totally beat you if I was trying!” 7 times in a row. Gets a little old after awhile.


  27. I’d be down for a NCAA bracket (though I am never even close).

    Odom will be suspended for coming off the bench. I didn’t see the play so I can not comment on the foul.

    The Lakers look tired, Odom has not been focused and the bench is playing outside of their roles. Nothing major but they need to start focusing and picking up the intensity for the playoffs. The next two games should be a good test. If they come out and compete in both games (even if they don’t win both of them) then I will be happy. Odom probably won’t be there for Houston so it should be interesting to see what the Lakers do without Odom and Bynum. I think we might see Luke playing the four and Kobe playing at the three for long stretches.

    That Farmar quote is pretty damn funny.


  28. Oy Vey – Did anyone read Henry Abbott’s post:


    He compares Ariza to a hunter shooting a deer in a street filled with kids.

    I figured because he wrote for ESPN that he would try to keep his homerism in check…or at least make it entertaining (like Simmons).


  29. I’m down for a FB&G tourney bracket on Yahoo.


  30. the dude – i had that exact same thought!


  31. I agree with your post, hopefully these losses will teach these guys a lesson
    before the playoffs start.

    We should do a march madness tourny also should be fun.


  32. Chris – That is a pretty bad analogy by Henry. Shooting deer in a suburban area vs a hard foul in basketball while a player is airborne? I’m sure there are better examples of recklessness in other activities could’ve been used.


  33. PeanutButterSpread March 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    First and foremost, really glad to hear that Rudy is OKAY. I’m still not happy that he got injured, but I’m glad he’s OKAY.

    I don’t like it when people make a big deal when Laker players injure other players – saying Laker players are “dirty”. It’s a sport, injuries happen, if the intent was not malicious, it’s not a dirty play.

    Again, that being said, I really wished Rudy had not been injured. It’s never fun to watch a game when players, regardless from which team, gets injured.

    I do like LO sticking up for Ariza when the rest of the Portland bench was up in Ariza’s face.

    But I do hope this loss wakes the Lakers up. Big time. They had a nice vacation/break, you’d think they’d be well-rested, etc.

    Big reality check time from Pau down to the bench players. Kobe needs no reality check, he’s always in that mode. But the rest of the players need to wake up and show some intensity.

    I almost feel like they’re waiting for Drew to come back.

    Or they could be really really tired. I think Kobe needs to go supernova, wake the team up like he did at NY.


  34. It seems to me that whenever a Laker is involved in a hard foul that results in an ugly looking fall/injury (be it a real bad injury or just a little bruising), that the story gets a lot of attention and the Lakers are dragged through the mud. I remember watching Perkins intentionally throwing someone (don’t remember the team) down with a clothesline-like move and he was ejected for it, but (to my recollection) it never became a headline story that was discussed on every section of ESPN.

    So do you think that it’s a general ESPN bias against the Lakers being that many of their writers are not Laker fans or if it’s just ESPN trying to milk the drama for promotional purposes?

    Lakers are “not tough”, “soft”, and “dirty” all at the same time. Sheesh. Talk about bad press.


  35. Ariza was going for the ball but it was definitely a frustration swipe (the result of being down big).


  36. wiseolgoat – A stretcher would’ve been warranted if Rudy hadn’t already gotten halfway up before being pushed back down by people who I assume were the Blazers’ trainers.

    But I’m not here to talk about proper medic techniques… I’m glad Rudy’s okay… I shake my head but understand that Lakerhate sells newspapers (or website hits) in other parts of the country… I hope the Lakers do heed the wake up call… and I love this site for its high level of Laker and sports banter.

    I’m excited to see how the Lakers respond to three road losses in a row, and if Odom’s out, to see who will step up (I’m looking at you, Sasha).


  37. Anyone who expects ESPN to more evenhanded than FOX hasn’t been watching TV in a lot of years.


  38. Even as bad as they are, I wouldn’t compare ESPN to FOX. FOX is trash.


  39. Just last Sunday on national TV Perkins was given a Flagrant 2, not even a whisper about dirty play (and Perk is a guy who has a history of such plays). At some point the agenda becomes clear. For most people who saw the play, it was clearly an accident. Funniest thing of all is that Ariza, a guy that routinely is involved in high flying plays has been knocked around ALL season and I cant really remember once where any cried “dirty” on the player who nailed Ariza. Maybe its because he just always pops back up, but that goes back to the point of judging the intention based on the result, which is not fair. Such a dumb thing to be riled up about, I’d rather the talking heads just say how bad we played and move on from there


  40. i dont really care about the foul, it happened it’ll get dealt with acoordingly.

    the real issue is us getting blown out in portland even though our guys were aware that we hadn’t won on their home floor in a LONGGG time. our guys aren’t playing with intensity / heart (besides kobe) and pau is resorting back his old i guess you’d call it “soft” demeanor. guys are playing him harder and hes not responding!!!

    we should be peaking right now since these are our last games before the playoffs begin, i dont get why we are so lacksadasical. most of our guys just stand and watch kobe, i dont get this and our bench is not mentally prepared for the road. they shrivel up during road games and excel during home games, they really need to get their minds ready to play, PLAY HARD, especially on the road without comitting dumb fouls and expect for there to be no foul called.

    this laker team is frustrating because this game it seems exemplifies whats been wrong with the lakers for the past few weeks besides the 2 games last week at home. they all know they havent been playing up to par yet they continue to make the same mistake / make no attempt to fix whats becoming a horrible trend. we seriously need to get our act together and start playing defense and limit so many points in the paint. teams are playing us HARD and so we have to match up if not more.

    seriously worried if this team can’t get its act together (no i am not panicking because of this one game but we have been playing like this for so long, thats why its so frustrating and now its catching up to us. amounting in losses, more minutes for pau and kobe, etc.)


  41. Agree-I am shocked Kendrick Perkins doesn’t get more negative press. He does consistently seem to lose his head a bit, but I have seen some ESPN analysts sit and say it was a good, “tough” play. If that’s tough, I don’t want to be a tough team.

    Henry’s post should be taken with a grain of salt. He is a Blazers fan, and espite the fact that he’s writing for a major national website, he probably had to control himself to just write what he did. Someone had a good comment in the comments of that post, that in a few days he might regret what he posted, once everyone has calmed down and moved on.


  42. The Celtics are a big story, but not nearly the attention the Lakers get. That is the price you pay for being the leading NBA organization for the last 10 years. Say anything you want about Jerry Buss and Kobe Bryant, they certainly do attract the most attention.


  43. 39. EXACTLY

    There’s an old saying, “You’re not paranoid if everyone is actually out to get you.”

    That’s the situation with the Lakers. The Lakers are the Yankees of Basketball. Just like everyone hates the Yankees (outside of Yankee fans), everyone hates the Lakers (outside of Laker fans).

    Everything the Lakers do is going to be blown out of proportion. ESPN is an East Coast based company, so of course the reporting is going to have an anti-Lakers slant.

    Kwame is right – how many times has Ariza (or Kobe, for that matter) been hit in a similar fashion? They pop right up, though, so nothing more is said.

    Ariza was going for an emphatic block. It was a reckless play, but you could argue (and I know I’m treading in dangerous territory here) RUDY was reckless in his emphatic dunk attempt:

    His team was up by 28 at the end of the third quarter, he saw Ariza running in stride with him…what did he think was going to happen?

    That being said, I in no way want to see anyone get hurt – and I’m glad he’s okay. I’m just saying all this anti-Laker garbage is ridiculous.


  44. Odom got the suspension. I’ll hang out with him in Houston.


  45. “RUDY was reckless in his emphatic dunk attempt”

    Most idiotic post this year?

    In other news, all players who try to score with a lead in the 3rd quarter to beat the buzzer deserve anything they get.


  46. Odom is suspended – and it’s OK. Dura lex sed lex.

    As for Ariza: a brutal foul, flagrant 1 for my money. I don’t mind ejection, the game was over, with Ariza still in game it could have been a bloodbath.

    And I like all that jazz about Ariza. I like everybody recalls Bynum foul. I like the image of Lakers as new Pistons, Ariza as new Mahorn, Bynum as new Laimbeer. I think it will help. Maybe some opp would think twice before he penetrates.

    This April game in Portland – will be interesting. I see Portland as a very possible 2nd round opponent.


  47. Blazer fan here.

    I just wanted to give props to Farmar. Right after Rudy went down, he was by his side checking to see if he was ok. Seconds later, he was bearhugging Ariza, trying to keep the aggression on the court from escalating. Classy guy.

    I, along with many other Blazer fans I’ve talked to, didn’t feel that the foul was dirty. It was unfortunate, but it wasn’t near as bad as what Kidd did to Pargo last year in the first round of the playoffs. What was more disconcerting was his attitude afterwards. When Bynum floored Wallace, another unfortunate (but not dirty) occurrence, he immediately was at Wallace’s side, checking to make sure he was ok. Ariza seemed more interested in jawing at Roy and Aldridge. It was as if he didn’t even fully realize the extent of the damage he could have done.

    As for Odom, I hope they don’t suspend him. We need you guys to cream the Southwest divison this week. Go Lakers!


  48. I think Henry’s post is highly misleading. It makes it seem like we were playing Celtics or Bad Boy’s style basketball, really physical, with no plays after the whistle allowed.

    Yes, there were a lot of fouls called, and yes there was extra physicality, but that’s the way the game was being called. You could tell that Luke and Pau were both extremely frustrated because they kept getting pushed around on rebounds while the refs wouldn’t call anything. The referees were calling a very loose game, and the Lakers got pounded early by Przybilla because of it. Normally I don’t care if this is the case; As a team, you’re supposed to adjust to the ref conditions, which is what we did in the late third quarter, early fourth. However, when someone like Henry Abbott comes along and says we were playing dirty, trying to muscle up their players purely to unnerve them, that’s just bad journalism and blatant bias. We weren’t doing anything that the Blazer’s weren’t already doing in the 1st quarter. We were simply playing to the officiating, which is what all good teams do.

    Trevor was attempting to protect our basket, in effect giving his all to achieve our goal (win the game). Fernandez was doing the same by trying to dunk the basketball, giving his best effort to win the game. Now Abbott’s saying that it’s all right for the offensive player to try his best, but the defensive player should be forced to hold back? Why couldn’t Fernandez have slowed down and drained the clock? Who is at fault, Trevor for attempting to block the shot, or Fernandez for going up with the ball to try and dunk it? Going up for a dunk ha the same risk as going up for a block: you’re taking a risk that you won’t come down softly. Both Trevor and Fernandez were willing to take this risk, so why is one right and the other wrong?

    I usually love Henry’s stuff on TrueHoop, and I have a lot of respect for him as a journalist, but this latest post is just a complete fabrication of what took place. Add to that the fact that he claims Trevor trying to make a play on a fastbreak, trying to give his team anything to get going, was being reckless akin to firing a gun in a crowded area? Today I’ve lost a lot of respect for Henry Abbott.

    PS: Here’s a nice philosophical question. Imagine if Trevor had gotten back, and was in front of Fernandez. Now when Fernandez goes up for the dunk, imagine he uses so much force that he knocks Trevor onto the ground and Trevor needs to be carted off with a neck brace. Should Fernandez be suspended?


  49. Henry Abbott is a tool


  50. 45. Most idiotic post this year?

    Wow – that’s quite an honor.

    How many times have you seen someone get taken out the same way in similar circumstances? Remember Ronny trying to do that last year against a team the Lakers were blowing out and getting a similar treatment?

    The difference is most guys can pop right up – Fernandez is a string bean who fell awkwardly – it was unfortunate.

    What I’m saying is that’s what happens in the NBA – ALL THE TIME. If a team is losing badly (a team with an ounce of pride, anyway), and a player tries to rub it in – they often-times, get knocked on their keister.

    That’s why a lot of the smarter, vet players chose to lay it in softly (protecting themselves), rather than going for the aerial show. How many times have you seen Kobe choose the lay-in in similar circumstances?

    If Fernandez was more self-aware, he would have realized that was a possibility, and protected himself.


  51. The Dude Abides March 10, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    48. You make a good point, but on the other hand, if Rudy goes up soft, then Trevor has a highlight block. The play then goes on YouTube, and Rudy is the butt of jokes from his teammates and his opponents in the future.

    I do think Henry went overboard, as I don’t believe there was that fine a line between dirty and reckless on this play. It was simply reckless, and IMO Trevor should have gotten one game off.

    Either way, if this leaves a little doubt in the back of the minds of our opponents about flying in for dunks in traffic, I guess that’s not the worst thing 😀


  52. all i want to see right now is, granted the circumstances (that with our effort could not have been so many), a laker win in houston. plain and simple.


  53. I wouldn’t go as far as calling Rudy’s play reckless, but it had the kind of ‘Sasha-three-at-the-end-of-blowout’ kinda feel to it, which can irk players.

    As for our treatment, same ol same ol. Bowen gets away with a lot more and his labeled a defensive ace, and it’s just ‘east-coast basketball’ when the Cs or the Pistons do it. But since we’re the Showtime, showboating Lakers who are supposed to be ‘soft,’ when we do something it gets press.

    Anyway, although by no means do I condone such recklessness by our players, I wouldn’t mind Ariza making a name of himself in the Bowen-Bell mode.


  54. The Dude Abides March 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Oops my response was meant for Chris’ post. Somehow it went from #48 to #50.

    30. wiseolgoat, so I wasn’t the only one! Too funny. Anyway, it’s good to see Blazer fans also acknowledge Jordan’s concern for his fellow pro. That fall was brutal, and I’m glad Rudy’s going to be OK. No cracked ribs, I guess. It sure could have been worse.

    LO reacted typically…the guy sometimes just doesn’t think…or maybe he was thinking about unicorns when the play happened and he forgot to stay in the bench area.


  55. 53

    I would mind. I love Trevor and I think he plays the game the right way. He’s not the most talented guy in the league, but he busts his ass every night. He’s never had a reputation for dirty play and deservedly so. I wouldn’t want to see him get lumped in with guys like Bell (horse collar on Kobe) or Bowen (too many genuinely dirty plays to count) who really do show malicious intent out on the court at times.


  56. Who is a worse malcontent: Don Nelson or Stephon Marbury?


  57. Zephid–agreed on Henry. He went overboard on this one…just like he called Andrew out and said he “didn’t sound remorseful” even though Drew waited outside Charlotte’s bus to apologize to Gerald Wallace. I’m okay if he thinks the play was reckless, but it was a bang bang play and a mistake–no need to belabor the point.

    Also, I’m shocked at the way people are reacting to Odom’s role. The Blazers announcers particularly were calling him out for being a thug (interesting that they’d focus on that rather than hoping Rudy was okay when he was lying motionless on the ground). Odom did what for many years in the NBA would have been called sticking up for your teammate. The crazily stringent bench rule means he deserves his suspension, but that was hardly thuggish behavior.


  58. Fisher

    That would be my starting lineup for Wednesday. That frontcourt becomes non-existent now. Yikes! The only big left is Josh Powell. I could definitely see Jackson going small for long periods throughout the game.


  59. Lets cheer for Clippers to beat Cats


  60. I meant frontcourt depth.


  61. – Both Yahoo and ESPN run solid brackets, though Yahoo’s is much easier to set up and enter from what I remember. Plus, who would want to go through espn.com’s front page to make their picks. Perhaps the winner can get an FBG t-shirt? Whatdya say Kurt? 😉

    – I don’t really see Phil Jackson – Bulls Coach and Phil Jackson – Lakers Coach as the same person, and that Farmar quote is a good example why. He’s less zen and just way more asshole-y hilarious/stubborn now.


  62. The Dude Abides March 10, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    57. I’d start Fisher, Sasha, Kobe, Powell, and Pau. Luke would be backup PF, Mbenga backup C, Trevor at backup SF, Farmar backup PG. Kobe could play a little bit SG, and Pau could also play a little PF with DJ at C.

    Luke’s bricks are starting to drive me crazy again. If he’s not hitting the wide-open jumpers he gets because the opponents are deliberately leaving him open, then he is hurting the team. At least try to get good position and post up a smaller guy down low.


  63. 61. Shirt of choice to the winner was the plan. Now, which shirt do I want….


  64. 62,

    If Kobe plays the SF position, that would pit him against Artest defensively. I’d keep Sasha on the bench and put Ariza in his place with Walton at the PF. I think Adam Morrison’s shooting will be heard from in this game as a result of Ariza’s and Walton’s ineffectiveness lately.


  65. cavs down double digits at the half. oh me oh my!


  66. Last night was one of those games that make people doubt our toughness. Seriously, Lamar disappeared last night. Lamar completely, and all of the Lakers defensively. The Blazers were taking it straight to them, with authority, from the start. They questioned our toughness, and our guys didn’t step up. Time after time, Batum and Outlaw were aggressive in going to the rim, like we can’t stop them. Our effort and energy were disappointing. It wasn’t that we came out flat that bothers me, so much as them knowing they can take it to us.

    Kurt is right. Intensity needs to pick up now, and the bench has been inconsistent. But it was them who looked so good against Boston, Cleveland, and San Antonio, so I can’t make too much of it.


  67. I was bored and decided to set up the Bracket Pool if that’s okay. I kept the default scoring unless you guys want upset pick bonuses and fancy stuff like that. Here’s the info for you guys to join (maybe you want to edit this into the main post Kurt?)

    Direct Link to sign up:

    Info to join the league manually if you’re having problems:
    Group Name: Forum Blue & Gold
    Group ID#: 54708
    Password: smushcalade


  68. Re: 67 – I set the bracket up at Yahoo, forgot to mention that. This post will make more sense once my last one clears moderation.


  69. The Dude Abides March 10, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    64. Artest has been playing SG, with Battier at SF, Scola at PF, and Brooks at PG.


  70. I am very glad Rudy is going to be OK, the game lost it’s fun after his injury for me. We need this Houston game more than they do. Yeah, LO, I do not know what to say.

    Until you step out of your comfort zone and try it, you’ll think it’s not doable.


  71. Did anybody watch the Cavs game tonight? I dont live in LA, so I didnt see it. Was this case of the refs handing the game to Lebron or did the Cavs play that well to overcome a 17 point deficit in the 4th quarter?


  72. Portland announcers… Henry Abbott…please god don’t make me have to hear them ever again. I really can’t do more than glance at his columns anymore, as someone said above, he’s not even entertaining or mildly self-effacing in his homerism, like Simmons. Just a whiny, entitled, snarky little brat. But maybe Simmons wouldn’t be be any more magnanimous than Abbott if his teams had been so dramatically unsuccessful for so long.

    That was NOT a dirty play by Ariza, to my eyes. He went for the ball, glanced by his head in the process, Fernandez lost his balance and fell hard. Not even the Portland announcers could convince me of anything else. I’m glad Fernandez is ok, can we all move on now?

    And I’d like to second the poster from above: how can the lakers be both soft and overly aggressive at the same time? It gets hard to pay attention to these people at a certain point.

    But maybe a day off will do Odom good….he could use a little focus right now.


  73. 72. The Cavs had help, but more from the Clippers than from the refs. They went brain dead on offense, with horrible turnovers. They stopped closing out on three point shooters. Kaman looked like he hadn’t played since a few games into the season in the clutch and made some bad choices.

    All you need to see, look at the inbounds play the Clippers had with six seconds left and the game on the line. LeBron does a good job denying the ball to Davis (option #1) but there seems to be no option 2 as nobody moves to the ball. Finally Randolph does, get’s it 30 feet away, dribbles twice and goes for the pull-up 3. That sequence must have taken a year of Dunleavy’s life.


  74. One more thing about Abbott and ESPN in general: how can you call out Odom or Ariza for not being concerned about their teammate and running to his side, and not mention that Roy, Outlaw and Aldridge are screaming at them and starting stuff? Strange people, these writers. Kind of makes me long for the old days when writers had editors.


  75. I know this is a basketball blog, but if I could put any highlight in the ESPN viewer on this page, it would be The Netherlands beating the Domincan Republic in baseball. That is just cool.


  76. That Kobe video was awesome. A lil something something for the weekend warrior.


  77. Kurt, that game was great. DR should be ashamed of themselves. Seriously, they had one of the most talented teams in the WBC. That was just a really bad showing, but you have to give tons of credit to the Netherlands for competing hard. Their pitching has been great during the WBC and had some timely hitting.


  78. lolsaangkeleesr March 10, 2009 at 11:22 pm


    It truly disgusts me that Ariza’s foul is characterized so that its intent to injure ( Trevor Ariza has apologized for injuring Rudy Fernandez.), while “Kevin McHale’s infamous takedown of Kurt Rambis” is characterized as “maybe a notch or two beyond decency.”


  79. Oh Zach Randolph, will you ever learn?


    I love that Dunleavy and Thomas both had the same look on their face after it happened.


  80. i don’t think ariza’s intent was to injure sure.. but if u watch the play.. after he swipes for the ball he catches rudy’s hand and drags him down.. w/o that follow thru rudy would have landed ok instead twirling mid air and landing on his side…

    im not sure what to think of that.. some times u can’t help it.. but it really looks like ariza was trying to follow thru hard.. i think it might really have been abit of a dirty play..


  81. I 100% agree with this article but when 3 of the 5 starters don’t give you much in a game, Lakers should expect to lose and to me a change needs to come to the starting lineup starting with Fisher.Lakers need this win tonight badly.


  82. How many of you would have guessed in January that DJ Mbenga would be our best bench player in March?


  83. 74

    I nearly broke the remote after that play. However, Dunleavy helped to sabotage the game by persisting with Kaman even though he was clearly a liability. Marcus Camby should have been inserted much sooner. But hey, I guess that’s why Bill Simmons sponsored Dunleavy’s page on Basketball-Reference.com…



  84. Joel – how about Baron Davis continually refusing to shoot the ball or get to the line, but instead choosing to give the ball to Kaman with the game still on the line?

    I swear, I have zero sympathy for that guy, Simmons articles or not…


  85. 85

    Maybe he was worried about bringing down his FG%.

    Oh wait…


  86. Trevor’s foul is a great example of unintended consequences.
    If Trevor had tried to grab Rudy by the body to prevent the basket,it would have been a clear path foul,2 FTs and Blazers ball.
    If he had swung down on Rudy’s arms to prevent the dunk,it would have been called a Flagrant for not going for the ball.
    Coming from behind,Trevor’s only “legal” option was to swipe at the ball,which he did.
    Though the consequences could have been very unfortunate,it’s what the NBA considers the right play.


  87. Great post from Cuban of all places. Linked on Truehoop, but I thought I would add it here for those frustrated by Henry’s sobbing.


    The Lakers have had a very tough schedule in terms of difficulty, if not in terms of strength. I wonder if Hollinger accounts for this, as the disparity is marked.

    I agree with Kurt’s post here, and I wish the Lakers would defend the 3 with more energy. Time and time again, the most efficient shots are 1) Dunks and Lay-Ups and 2) 3 Point Shots. You must, MUST, defend those to win.

    There is a reason that Orlando gave us so much trouble, and why as fans we all dread the end of the quarters and the late game charges where teams are heaving it from deep.


  88. Okay, Henry from TrueHoop is going way too far. He tries to make a case based on some “freeze photos” that Ariza swung his arms down on Rudy’s that actually made the fall worse. Is he retarded? When you swipe at the ball from behind and your arms get tangled on a downward motion, of course that makes the fall worse, but not intentional. Seriously Kurt….I know you are taking the high road, but he’s blatantly stoking the fire b/t the Lakers and Portland insinuating that the Lakers are dirty. He goes as far as posting a stupid quote by Brandon Roy that the “Blazers knew that something dirty would happen with the Lakers”. This is the kind of crap that people talk about, refs hear it, it gets pumped in the media and the next time the Lakers play Portland I guarantee the refs are going to be super-biased against the Lakers and call every ticky tack foul.

    Unfortunately, it is his bias that gives credence to journalist maintaining that bloggers are not a justified source of information because of their inability to remain impartial and objective (of course, Kurt’s handling of the situation is the counter-argument to this).


  89. Am I the only one that is frustrated that Lamar’s swoon coincided with the passing of the trade deadline?


  90. I am reading Obams’s book “The Audacity of Hope” and finished the chapter Politics. The description of media in this chapter reminded me of Abbott’s column.

    Basically, news is reported based on the amount of interest/reaction comes from the story. Good news or evenly reported events do not create much interest. Therefore, the most successful reporting tends along the line of the National Enquirer – hence Fox News – hence Henry Abbott.


  91. Look guys, if you hate Abbott/ESPN/Simmons so much, then stop reading/watching them. You know what, I did that. I stopped reading Abbott last year and switched to Ball dont lie. I avoid watching ESPN as much as possible.

    As a consumer of any product, the ONLY way to protest against that product is to stop using it. The more you discuss about Abbott’s articles or ESPN’s biases, the more you are giving fire to those same biases.

    Some people like that sort of discussion. Personally, I like reading more of the basketball related stuff and less of controversies. Which is why I admire the way Kurt runs this blog and all the commenters here.


  92. I agree with anonymous. Abbott has increasingly become like the Around the Horn guys, because it sells, and keeps people coming back. I’m not knocking him for it, because it fits the ESPN model. Let him praise the Lakers and everything Kobe, and everyone will be with it. If he acts as if Kobe being upset with Fish’s foul is “curious” that Ariza’s foul was that bad, then it’s outrage. It’s one man’s opinion. Not everyone will have the opinion we have. How many Spurs fans would curse us out for debunking their claims of a “dynasty?” Are we wrong? Are they right? Abbott is still good at what he does. he just happens to be a Blazer fan. Poor him.

    It’s like Howard Stern. Everyone who loved him listened, and everyone who hated him listened just to point out the things they detest. This is where we are at now.


  93. Shaq has amazing quotes, but one that comes to mind is this, “Opinions are like belly buttons; everybody has one. I never knock a man for his opinion.”

    Can’t agree more with anonymous. Don’t like it don’t read it, don’t empower them by making us want to read it and argue their point. That’s what a writer like Abbott is trying to do, sensationalize so other people can form an opinion.


  94. Kurt……can you please put up tonight’s post. I’m over our loss to Portland. I’m more worried about the next two games.


  95. RE Rudy, Ariza, and Fouls: I am very happy that Rudy is going to recover. Ariza made a bad play based off good effort. Intent? I’ll leave that to the people that can read minds. Fouls happen like this a lot. Just the other day, Big Baby neck tied Varejao on a drive in which Baby was ejected. Henry Abbott was at the game live and twittered about it as it happened. The funny thing is that he only spoke about it in terms of typical Celtics rough play and (as Reed noted) the pychology of standing up to the C’s when stuff like this happens. I truly respect Henry, but in this case (as with the Bynum foul) I think he’s taking a special interest in what the Lakers are doing vs. what happens all around the league. However, that would make him exactly like most media; the Lakers (like the Cowboys or the Yankees) sell and they inspire conversation and strong opinions. Us fans just have to turn our radar on and off as we see fit.

    RE Kurt’s post: I see this two ways. On one hand, I agree with Kurt. Now is the time that our guys need to start playing better and finding their groove for the stretch run. Phil will still tinker, but it’s all about finding what will and won’t work for when the second season starts. On the other hand, I say the mistakes that cost us games that were once judged as less meaningful due to the date on the calendar don’t suddenly matter more because the weather is changing and daylight savings is in effect. They either always mattered or don’t matter much. We should decide on how important they are and whether they are true impediments to our title chances. What I’ve seen so far is that in the bigger games agains the top opponents, we’ve done well. We don’t win them all, but we win more than our fair share. So, I happen to think that we’ll be ready. I believe in our guys and think that they’ll be in position to play their best when the elimination games start.

    RE Portland as a foe: I’ve seen it referenced several times that we’ve lost 7 straight to these guys. But we’ve lost 7 straight Road Games, not 7 in a row overall. That might not mean much to people (losses are losses) but I think a distinction is in order. One means we have a block on playing in someone elses building, the other implies that the Blazers are a much better team than ours is. I prefer the former.


  96. 96
    They always mattered…


  97. 99-Exactly. Find stuff you enjoy, avoid stuff you don’t like, simple as that.


  98. The Dude Abides March 11, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    83. Bill Bridges – not even me. I did expect DJ to play this well, but I didn’t expect the rest of the bench to collapse. One of my pet peeves with Phil in last season’s Finals (besides waiting until Game 3 to have Kobe guard Rondo) was his playing poor Chris Mihm instead of DJ in one of the games we lost, when the outcome of the game was still up in the air.

    That peeve extended into this season, as IMO this version of Mihm is clearly the worst player in the NBA. There isn’t one aspect of basketball other than rebounding that Mihm is better at than DJ, and rebounding is only an exception because DJ excels at blocking shots while Mihm excels at matador defense. DJ is better at man-to-man defense, defending the rim, catching and dunking, jumpshooting, FT shooting, running the floor, and steals/anticipation.


  99. suddenly our bench doesn’t look that deep. can’t wait for bynum to return.


  100. The Dude Abides,
    Just a little bit of an exaggeration on Mbenga; and take into consideration the way he was playing last spring, not this year, when you talk about the Finals.


  101. well the results are in. rudy fernandez has been diagnosed with…nothing more than a few bruises. im glad hes ok, its great news. but wow…all this trouble over a couple of bruises. methinks the stretcher and neck brace were a little excessive and even a little paul pierce-like…


  102. Rockets preview finally up. Had to work at my kid’s preschool today.