Preview & Chat: The San Antonio Spurs

Kurt —  March 12, 2009
Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs

Records: Lakers 51-13 (1st in the West) Spurs 43-20 (2nd in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.9 (1st in league) Spurs 108.7 (14th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (6th in league) Spurs 104.0 (4th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Spurs Tony Parker, Roger Mason, Michael Finley, Mat Bonner, Tim Duncan

The Lakers coming in: For all the hype about statistics and Battier and Kobe, there was one line in that piece that is forgotten. Watching the game with a Rockets executive, the executive says it is a case of “pick your poison” with Kobe. You can do everything right, and he will still hit the shot a frightening amount of the time. I think when that article was published, the Rockets front office winced a little because they knew this game was coming — the article portrayed the Rockets front office as almost arrogant regarding stopping Kobe (that may have been more the focus of the writer than what actually happened), and you have to be careful about pissing off Kobe and making him hyper-focused. Artest being physical and barking at him doesn’t help.

A few people in the comments said they want to get back to more team-oriented ball tonight, and I think the Lakers will. But on a night when the best player in the game is hot, you ride that train.

The real big news last night was the move of Trevor Ariza to the starting lineup — at the request of Luke Walton. Credit Walton for taking the step.

More to the point, this is another case of Phil letting the players figure out for themselves what is needed, not just dictating change. Rather than forcing Ariza to start as many coaches would have done earlier in the year, Phil let everyone figure it out for themselves, and with that they are far more accepting of their roles.

I think we’ve all known Ariza was the best Laker three this season — the best defender, the guy playing with the most aggression. Now he is the starter, and he makes the first five that much better because of the defense, because he works well from the weakside (with Kobe and Pau dominating the strong side), because he can get some easy baskets in transition, and he will get some boards. The key on offense will be hitting some threes — he is up to 31.7% from there for the season, but is just 24.9% in the last 10 games.

Walton to the second unit also means that unit may slow down a little, but they will run the offense and get shots out of it. That is what happened last night, and they looked better. Once Bynum returns and Odom (or Bynum) play with the second unit, all the better. Imagine the ball movement of a second unit with Farmar, Walton and Odom — that is going to expand leads because teams will not be used to dealing with that type of play.

The Spurs Coming In: This is a team that remains with two-thirds of the Big Three — Manu is out. The question has to be, how far can they go in the postseason without him at 100%?

Over at 48 Minutes of Hell, there is an interesting talk about Bruce Bowen. The issue is, while he has slowed, their defensive numbers are still much better when he plays.

If Bowen remains such a potent defensive force than why has Popovich decreased his minutes so significantly? Well, two reasons. The first is that little number I mentioned earlier: 37. Bowen is borderline psychotic about his conditioning but no workout regimen can bring the biological clock to a screeching halt. If Popovich wants Bowen to continue to be as effective as he once was, he realizes Bruce has to be used in an increasingly surgical manner.

The second reason has a lot to do with the Lakers, actually. After a 4-1 thumping in last year’s Western Conference Finals, everyone understood that the Spurs needed some tweaking if they were going to sneak past LA this season. The most decisive “tweak” Popovich made was to use more offensive minded 5-man units a greater percentage of the time. By replacing Finley with Mason, Bowen with Finley, and Oberto with Bonner, Popovich sacrificed defensive ability for offensive output at 3 of the 5 starting positions.

As I’ve said repeatedly, I think this is the right strategy. No matter what point of decline you think Bowen may be at, it is clear this team is no longer the defensive juggernaut we once were. We may still be one of the top 5 defensive teams in the league but we do not possess the talent to stop the Lakers entirely; our best hope is to slow them down. But in order for the Spurs to win a 7 game series against the Lake Show (or at least stand a better chance than last season), we have to show more offensive consistency than we did in ‘08. I often complain about the awful droughts the Spurs’ offense suffered last season. The Spurs cannot sacrifice an entire quarter of offensive output and expect to outscore LA over the course of 48 minutes. By leaving more shooters and less stoppers on the floor, Pop is giving us a better chance to upset Los Angeles.

Keys To The Game: Okay, we’ve talked about everyone else, but this game really comes down to Tony Parker — if he gets in the lane a lot, the Spurs win, if the Lakers are focused and keep him out, they win. Without Manu, he is the only one who can really create his own offense off the dribble for the Spurs.

Rotations to shooters at the three-point line, the closeouts, have to be quick. The Spurs will make the extra pass to the open man, so you have to get out there.

The Lakers length bothers Tim Duncan, but you can’t just give that man one look all night. Double sometimes (and from different places), man up others, just don’t let him get comfortable. Then go at him on offense with Pau and make him work at both ends.

Try to push the pace and get some transition baskets, but don’t be reckless about it. Push and if it is not there pull back and be patient with the offense. But there are some easy baskets to be had.

Where you can watch: 5 p.m. start on TNT nationally. Also, for a fun live blog, log on to the Wall Street Journal — yes, the WSJ — where Zach of Celtics Hub is doing the live blog. Yes, a Celtics guy, but a very smart hoops guy and fan as well. He will have some good insights.

Kurt

Posts

225 responses to Preview & Chat: The San Antonio Spurs

  1. If I’m correct on my math, if the Lakers win and the Suns lose tonight, I believe they clinch the division.

  2. 1. thats great … but id rather have the suns win tonight … it will give us a better cusion with the cavs

  3. This is the type of game we really miss Drew. He played Duncan great in that game in LA before he got hurt and more importantly he really altered or intimidated Tony Parker on Parker’s drives to the hoop. As great as Gasol is, this is not his game. I would think about putting Kobe on Parker (or Ariza on Parker) to force TP into tougher shots. I think Fish can handle Mason on the perimeter.

  4. Kwame, I think we’ve fared well in the past with Kobe on the opposing team’s best 2 or 3 and Ariza on the quick point guard. Also, I wouldn’t rule out playing Lamar on Duncan. He doesn’t have Pau’s defensive smarts but he can still do a nice job of using his length to challenge shots. If he D’s up on Duncan the way he has against Nowitzki (this could be a nice back-to-back for Lamar given the game on Sunday), then we’ll be in good shape.

  5. Hey Kurt (or anyone else who knows), I haven’t paid close enough attention — can anyone help me with the following?

    1. Bynum’s progress? Last I heard they were talking about the end of March. That’s just about two and a half weeks. I would assume that he’d need to be working out, maybe practicing with the team pretty soon? Anyone know? Is he already? Like I say, I haven’t paid close enough attention…

    2. More importantly, anyone know anything about Fish’s daughter? When’s the last thing we heard? Seems like a forgotten fact — I hope that’s because she’s healthy.

  6. 3. I totally spaced on putting that in the preview, but at the end of the last meeting the Lakers went with Ariza on Parker and by my memory that went fairly well. I expect it again.

    5. Dan, good to see you! I will get more when I go to the game Wednesday, but right now Bynum is running on a treadmill. The Lakers spokespeople are playing this very, very cautious after last season, but all signs point to him coming back on schedule, which is some time next month.

    I’ll have to ask about Fisher’s kid. Hard to get him though, he’s a great interview so his time is booked often.

  7. The game is also on KCAL 9 in LA, for those who prefer Joel and Stu over . . . whoever talks over the game on the national broadcast. (This seems unusual for the Thursday, since TNT usually has exclusive coverage, but I’ve checked it several places.)

  8. 8- Kenny Smith is officially “dead” to me. In the preview for this game, he mentioned that the Lakers “have never figured out TIm Duncan”. Where does he base this from? We have played the Spurs in the playoffs 5 times this decade, winning 4 of the series. In those 4 series we beat the Spurs 16 out of 20 times. Bynum, Pau and LO all have experienced a modicum of success against TD as well. Not to say Duncan isn’t the best big other than Shaq of this generation, I just don’t like when people like Kenny Smith make baseless comments.

  9. Spurs are the only team in the West I believe to have a shot of beating the Lakers in a season series this year. So far its 1-1, both teams winning on their homecourt. Utah has a chance to I think on the last game of the season, but not likely they will beat us at Staples. The Spurs got the best shot. Orlando is the only team to clinch season series over us, and bobcats and pistons also have a shot. But its remarkable how much we have dominated the West this year. I was going to pick the Spurs tonight, but with no Manu, I think the Lakers will find a way to pull it out. Lakers by 5

  10. The Laker defensive “strategy” of clogging the lane and giving up three point shot attempts doesn’t inspire alot of confidence going into this game.

  11. The Walton/Ariza starting role is confusing, since it seems to me that Walton is the one finishing games lately. Maybe it’s about match-ups, but Ariza does seem to be a little off lately, more with his decision-making than his physical play. Tonight may be a night where we need Ariza to chase Parker, but I think PJ is opting for Walton’s reliability at crunch time.

    My favorite play from the Houston game: near the end when Artest knocked the ball out of Kobe’s hands just beyond the three-point line. It looked like Kobe was watching Artest and let the ball just bounce behind him until Artest went after it. As soon as Artest got out of position, he grabbed the ball, wandered back to the three-point line and drained the shot.

  12. 3, 9 – Yes, Drew did a yeoman’s against Duncan in SA. No, he didn’t rebound much, but his post d was superb and he bothered Duncan a lot. Thinking forward, this offensive lineup Pop has went to is their best chance…and it still won’t work if we have Bynum. They can’t score enough, Duncan will be controlled, and we have Kobe.

    And don’t give up on Jet part 1. He says crazy stuff sometimes, but he does know the game. And he’s “not a stat guy”, like me. Plus, at the end of the day, he never bets against Kobe. He ain’t crazy.

  13. again, breathing, sighing and hoping nothing more than a lakers win (and maybe a suns win to boot)

  14. Alex V is right. I watched that game on espn down here in Brazil last night and that move gave me great satisfaction. So sweet…

  15. Quick thought, what if phil let a lineup of
    Pau
    Powell
    Odom
    Kobe
    Fish/Farmar
    get some run? Powell could step out and hit that 15-20 footer to clear up space down low for pau, and kobe to drive? any thoughts

  16. I have my BB tonight. Be proud, lots of Forum Blue and Gold. Team looks relaxed but focused. No smack from SA fans…yet.

  17. Bob – That lineup could work if Odom plays as the point forward throughout his stay on the court. Odom could take advantage of Bonner off the dribble and possibly set up his teammates for open shots.

  18. nice thought bob and i wish josh could deliver night in and out like he did (at least some post presence with consistency off the bench). if he could put up numbers like yesterday, than powell at pf for a time with lamar and pau can work. powell can go up and down on that midrange j. if not, phil should know what next. i like giving trevor a break b on tp today so that along with other combinations can compete with your given lineup.

    lamar on td sounds nice as well and i could only hope they cancel each other out or at most with pau. that will leave us with parker and their host of shooters to deal with. kobe is a good perimeter defender, i hope he has time to chase off mason and company and of course, burn the spurs on offense a la 4th quarter yesterday.

  19. Great start for the first 3 minutes

  20. good start. like the defence

  21. Wow the Lakers are hot. I hope that it keeps up.

  22. We look crisp to start, nice ball movement, shots are falling. Must be that we are playing up to the level of our competition.

  23. Ariza can’t miss this game. If he shoots like this, we can’t possibly lose to anyone.

  24. Anybody got a streaming site for us ex-pats?

  25. we are on FIRE

  26. Best line from the WSJ blog:

    Al Harrington has a shoe? Pros: it’s only $34.99, which is cool in a Starbury sort of way. Cons: You’re buying a shoe endorsed by Al Harrington. I wonder if the shoes making you start shooting pull-up threes with a hand in your face.

  27. I like Ariza in the starting lineup like this, gives the Lakers a better defender at the three spot without losing a guy who can spread the D. It also gives the Lakers to come out of the gate a little quicker I think putting less pressure on that second unit which has been a little hit or miss lately.

    Just a note, Lakers are taking a ton of jumpers early, they’re falling right now, but they can’t count on that for 48 minutes…

  28. Wow we are looking good tonight!

  29. Ariza is wreaking havoc out there.

  30. ariza is freaking long…he’s the only guy i can think of who can simultaneously challenge a post entry pass with one arm while the other arm is deterring a jump shot

  31. the other Stephen March 12, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Drew ran for the first time today, ya’ll. Reportedly, he spent hours on a treadmill chasing a championship.

    http://www.insidesocal.com/lakers/2009/03/bynum-running-again.html

  32. Wow this Kobe guy is pretty damn good.

  33. That has to be the best first quarter we’ve played all year. If that’s the tone we want to set this game, I’m very happy with the change in attitude. Agree with the above that Ariza in the starting lineup looks like a good choice so far.

  34. Well, I amend my earlier statement. If we keep playing rough and tough with Duncan in the post, filling the lanes on defense, and banging the offensive glass, then by all means they can take as many twenty footers as they would like.

  35. The Dude Abides March 12, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    29. Nick, that’s true that the jumpers probably won’t fall the entire game, but our defense has been very solid.

  36. Also, zero turnovers in the first quarter. Wow.

  37. Couldn’t ask for a much better start… On D we’re helping each other, containing TP, and frustrating Duncan. On O we’re moving the ball (with the exception of some Kobe 1 on 1), knocking down shots, and getting in the right positions for shots or rebounds.

  38. Farmar needs to calm down

  39. How about we run the offense through Pau Gasol? Just a thought. An obvious thought!

  40. What was the Chick saying when someone made a great move but then misses the basket at the rim (like Farmar just did)?

  41. im so disapointed with farmar this season

  42. I want to know what Sashas defensive philosophy is. He just seems to play with reckless abandon not purpose.

  43. No reason Pau isn’t touching the ball more.

  44. You know, I’ve been waiting for Sasha to get his mojo back all season. Not coming back tonight.

  45. Anyone have a link to the game?

  46. Apparently the bench took Oceanic 815 to get to this game.

  47. Gasol hasn’t touched the ball the entire second quarter.

  48. Uh, guys? There’s this fella on your team by the name of Pau Gasol. All-Star this season. Excellent post scorer and passer. You might have heard of him.

  49. Lakers are still playing some tough defense, but we’re not moving the ball the same way we were in the first quarter, guys have been trying to do too much by themselves on offense

  50. The only reason that Pau might not get every possesion run through him when he is out there with the 2nd unit is that they might not want to tire him out…but if that is the case, might as well put DJ out there and rest Pau. I seriously don’t know why he isn’t getting the ball every time down the floor.

  51. Although, it looks to have gotten a lot better when Kobe came back in the game. Look no further if you need proof that he makes his teammates better I say…

  52. My dislike of the second unit is slowly becoming a dislike of Farmar and how he runs the second unit.

  53. was it really that complicated to get it to gasol

  54. Mbenga has zero follow through on his jumper…hilarious!

  55. Two calls the refs need to look at this offseason:

    1) Offensive players jumping into defensive players – and drawing fouls – when the defensive player isn’t even close to the offensive player. I’m talking to you Parker.
    2) Defensive players coming out of nowhere to draw offensive charges. When the defensive player has nothing to do with the play and the offensive player isn’t out of control, that’s an annoying call. Maybe it’s just me.

  56. Spurs have been doing themselves ZERO favors at the line so far…

  57. The Dude Abides March 12, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Good to see Lamar have a comeback game so far. Also, DJ’s defense on Timmy has been pretty good. If the Spurs don’t go on a run, Phil should leave him in the rest of the half.

  58. mbeautiful

  59. Mbenga!!!!!

  60. The Dude Abides March 12, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Nice flop Tony, but the refs aren’t biting tonight.

  61. That first half was Magical. From the staters, anyway. Bench needs to step it up.

  62. A Frenchman flopping? Hmm, surprising.

  63. The Dude Abides March 12, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Great last possession of the half. LO breaks down Gooden off the dribble and passes to Pau, who drives in the lane and reverses for the baby jump hook. Thing of beauty. Way to take advantage of Gooden’s sore groin.

  64. I swear, Mbenga simply can’t miss that jumper. His stroke is incredibly ugly, but if he’s open from 15-20 ft, it’s been nothing but net. Big change for a guy who previously couldn’t convert anything but a dunk. And he played pretty passable defense on Duncan in that second quarter.

    So Mihm was ahead of him in the depth chart why again?

  65. up by 15 at the half?! NICE! now to take it to 20. any links guys?

  66. 55

    This is why I don’t think Farmar will ever be a starter on a team like the Lakers that runs a deliberate halfcourt offense. Too many home run plays and too much ad libbing.

  67. check out our starters’ +/- vs the spurs’!

  68. This is the team we’re most threatened by in the West???

    I’m liking our chances to make the Finals…

  69. #69 Exactly and it seems he holds the ball way too much, I duno though. Definitely can’t see him ever becoming starter material, he still can become a good backup though.

  70. the jazz (and to extent the blazers but now with HCA) concern me more than this-level of spurs basketball. manu changes a lot though but i don’t think it’s enough. fingers-crossed guys. GO LAKERS!

  71. If you watched Duncan off the ball, Mbenga was playing great, physical defence and denying him both early post entries and subsequent moves the rim – at least 3 times, Duncan quickly kicked the ball back out after receiving it with Mbenga defending. Plus he was getting his jumper to go; that seems like his ‘hot spot’, that straight-away 20-footer. Perhaps the coaching staff had picked up on Mbenga’s improvement and figured Mihm was ultimately disposable, even more so than he already was perhaps.

  72. but not while we have HCA

  73. Yeah, I don’t get the 2nd unit not running the offense through Gasol. He’s, um, good.

  74. What’s that now, 45 offensive rebounds? Odom is giving the Spurs big men hell.

  75. Why would Trevor give it to Fish, of all people, on the break?

  76. this is the kobe that wins games…when the spurs try to troop back, go troop to the line and eat the d alive!

  77. FISHER! nice one kobe. his mastery of the game is becoming or is the same as jordan’s indeed.

  78. and as i said that, the spurs cut the lead to 9. sheesh! (and still it’s the spurs who call for time)

  79. what is our record when our starting 5 all score in double digits? got to be good. hold on LA hold on!

  80. is it the D or are the spurs missing those layups out of poor execution of shots?

  81. Hmmm, I wonder who left his man on that corner 3.

    Make your free throws.

  82. @58
    1) Offensive players jumping into defensive players – and drawing fouls – when the defensive player isn’t even close to the offensive player. I’m talking to you Parker.

    I’m pretty sure Kobe does this alot, he may not have the straight on bang that parker has, but he does do this a lot while twisting to the side.

  83. We really need to get Sasha going.

  84. god that was a huge missed call by the refs on farmar getting bumped out, but what the hell was he doing going so close to the sideline?

  85. refs could have cost us a 5 point swing there

  86. Why doesn’t Odom pin Udoka’s little a$$ in the post? The Lakers should run the offense through him in the paint.

  87. Mico – From time-to-time, you’re right…but most of the time, Kobe is savvy enough to just spin away from a guy who is flying past him.

    Generally, I don’t like it when an offensive player jumps into a defensive player who is out of the play…even if it’s Kobe.

  88. Farmar is 100% hopeless tonight.

  89. Make Mason go to his left, Vujacic. Somebody please tell him this vital piece of information.

  90. Where the hell did that lead disappear to?

  91. farmar is such a liabilty

  92. I’m really liking Walton on the second unit. Despite the second unit tonight, you see some things.

    Got to close out on Finley, he’s the hot hand.

  93. Stop! Powell Time!!!

  94. And this is what you want to see out of the bench, why you leave them in. Let them figure it out, it helps you now and down the line.

  95. Powell and Luke have been HUGE for the bench. The key is they maintain control and stay in their lanes, unlike the guy who keeps throwing away passes.

  96. 2 big baskets by Powell to stem the tide.

    Farmar has been dreadful tonight.

  97. We are getting the lead back now and the starters have been resting, great play by Powell.

  98. Powell is becoming my favorite non Kobe/Pau Laker. Guy works really hard and it is paying off. Where did he play in college?

  99. How many points has Parker scored on the second half? He seems to have warmed up after a rather cold first half.

  100. I’ve come to the conclusion that with the exception of lobs, farmer is not really a good passer.

  101. Conclusions from this game (and many others):

    1. The second unit should make the ball go through Pau let’s say….95 % of the time?

    2. The Lakers somehow always let teams back into games.

    3. The Lakers generally win those games anyway – maybe they like the excitement?;)

  102. 98

    Agreed, they have rallied well in this quarter so far.

  103. I’d say the Lakers really let teams back in on the road, they are better at home. And it’s hard to hold down teams for 48 on the road.

  104. i think we can say that the ariza/walton switch was a good idea

  105. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Early leads are often problematic. Especially against a good, motivated team. The Clippers might give up once things look bad, but the Spurs are going to continue fighting. I liked PJ going to and staying with the bench as the run was made.

  106. KOBE!

  107. Luke is very effective against smaller guys in the post, even if it looks incredibly ugly.

  108. I like that fact that we are in the lead despite Kobe having a relatively quiet game (err as quiet as 18 points can be)

  109. Kurt Thomas and Michael Finley have been deadly on their jump shots. What is this, 2001?

    Meanwhile, Laker bench has been big in this fourth quarter, while the Spurs bench (especially Hill) really sputtered.

  110. Kurt: Agreed. Their abilty to still win those games is uncanny though.

  111. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    When was the last time you saw a screening out of bounds TO?? I didn’t even know that was a rule…

  112. So far this new plan (Ariza starting, Walton coming off the bench) is working out just fine.

  113. I like it when Luke posts up smaller guys…something good almost always happens.

  114. I like it that Phil let Powell stay in the game and did not substitute Odom in.

  115. Reading both this thread and the WSJ thread, and listening to these announcers – great great analysis. Wow, I dread the next Portland game…

  116. Pau Gasol is like a Swiss watch. He is consistently getting 20-10 since the paleolithic.

  117. Luke no good at face-up.

  118. Lakers are taking too many quick shots right now, need to slow down and run the offense, burn some clock.

  119. go pau bring down that ferocious dunk and a roar!

  120. I wish Kobe would attack off that pick instead of pulling up for a jumper every time.

  121. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Who slipped Parker the God mode code at halftime?

  122. As soon as I said that of course Phil brings Odom in after the timeout.

  123. Take it inside, Kobe…

  124. now those 3s are hurting us real bad!

  125. not liking where this game is headed.

  126. Lakers have been terrible at closing out on jumpshooters… Again…

  127. Also, I don’t mind Luke in there with the second unit, but I would like Ariza to be closing games. I just think he gives a couple more looks than look and his D is obviously superior. I would expect him to be back after this time out…

  128. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Parker I can understand. Finley is more of a surprise. Except when we leave him open for 3.

  129. The Dude Abides March 12, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Ugh…remember Phil how well the first unit has played tonight with Trevor included? Luke’s playing decently, but he doesn’t close out on shooters or defend the passing lane as well as Trevor.

  130. We tend to take a lot of jump shots with the game on the line. We dont have the pound-it-in-and/or-get-the-foul mentality.

  131. The Gasol & Kobe P&R should get a better shot than a long twenty-one footer. Have Kobe take it in, move the ball inside, Gasol at elbow, or high-low with Odom.

  132. Looking at the Spurs’ FG%, 3pt% and FT%, I’m glad we’re at least defending the FT line.

  133. We still win close games because Kobe is incredible.

  134. Stop! Kobe time!

  135. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    hey everybody it’s the TIM DUNCAN FACE!

  136. Yeah, that Kobe guy. Great god it must be so easy to hate this Kobe guy if he wasn’t on our team.

  137. I don’t know about having Sasha on the floor here…

  138. The P&R with Gasol and Kobe and Odom coming from the weak side to the free throw line is a thing of beauty

  139. kobe atones for his missed jumpers with a dagger 3. nice one lamar! execution down the stretch!

  140. That was one of our best defensive possessions in a LONG time.

  141. If Lamar hits here the game is over. Solid win. Nice job toughing it out at the end. Great Tieup by LO.

  142. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    142- are you kidding? Who else do you want to corrale the clutch rebound at that point in the game?

  143. I think we may have to look at the Elias and see if there was ever a game where a team had a FT% that was lower than its game fg% and 3pt%.

  144. nice win again. 2-1 this road trip is pretty darn good.

  145. 146 – I was think Shannon Brown maybe?

  146. Shasha contributing with a rebound and 2 points at an important moment…

  147. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Tony Parker looks like a muppet.

    There. Somebody had to say it.

  148. i agree harold but i think there is such a record. nice win by the lakers in this texas two-step

  149. Whoops, I meant 147 I guess, damn delayed comment posting…

  150. lamar with late game antics esp at the FT line!

  151. This wasn’t easy, and San Antonio didn’t have Manu.

  152. good to know luis that we weren’t with bynum either. but no excuses, a win is a win

  153. BUT… every single Laker on the floor scored.

  154. Yeah, because the Lakers have a divine right to blow other teams out (even on their home floor).

    Geez, some people are never happy. It was a good win against a Western contender on the road. What more do you want?

  155. Lets cheer for the big aristotle to beat the cats

  156. Not sure if having Manu out there would have improved their already outrageous FG% of 50% and 3pt of 65%.

    If anything, having Manu probably decreased the number of 3 pt attempts and created a different ballgame, and since he’s not known for his defensive excellence, would not have made a huge difference in our % either.

    No, this was a game where SA played out of its mind (65% from the 3!) and we still won.

  157. very solid performance

  158. And with that win we clinch a playoff spot…

  159. 65% from the 3 is scandalous.

  160. I’ve finally figured out who Josh Powell reminds me of – he’s a carbon copy of Udonis Haslem. Tough, slightly undersized 4’s who crash the boards hard, have solid jumpshots, will occasionally surprise you by attacking off the dribble, and just do all the right things to win a game.

    Haslem’s one of my favorites, that blue-collar banger that every great team should have. And I think Powell provides us with a very similar skill set.

    Did Kobe tell David Aldridge that Ariza brings “spacing” to the starting lineup? He must have been tired after a hard-fought (OK, not really) game.

  161. There is nothing stopping us from winning the championship this year. Great win. It doesn’t matter who we face in the finals. It’ll probably be the Cavs because the Celtics are, well, not good. The Cavs aren’t much competition either.

  162. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves Bujo. I would say that both teams would qualify as being “much competition.” That being said, the Lake-show has handled itself well this year…

  163. Lakers showed a lot of composure and professionalism hanging onto that game, impressive… And so Utah is the only team in the West that can still win the season series from us.

  164. Utah. They are the team in the league that scares me the most. More than the Cavs, Celts, and Spurs. I am terrified of playin the Jazz and having Deron Williams absolutely destroy FIsh and Farmar.

  165. Some of these comments are getting too cocky.

    I liked our composure down the stretch. Sasha, again, proving his critics wrong.

    Although I agree with Ethan that the Celtics are overrated due to their recent losses and injuries. I’m not a big KG or Ray Allen fan because I think they’re both loud mouth jerks.

  166. lakers r playing real well right now. i hope they keep this up into the playoffs so we can get to the finals and hold up another one of those gold things. peace.

  167. Okay, can we stop this celtic bashing? What are they doing in here? What did they do to us tonight?

    Cleveland and Boston are most definitely good competition. To say otherwise is ridiculous. They are our equals, at least. And our path to the finals will not be easy-counting out the Spurs has been proven to be dumb idea over the last decade, and Utah is finally getting healthy.

    Let’s take tonight for what it is. A good win against a top competitor.

  168. supertrooper is right i don’t like KG either but he is a way better player than DJ just like Ray is way better than sasha. I love our team and all of our guys fit theyre roll well. But lets not get carried away with ourselves

  169. The radio people had it right. They warned that the 2nd half the Lakers would slow down – both because of SA and this is the 2nd night of a back-to-back.

    This was a good win, but no reason to get all uppity about our team.

  170. Agree with Trooper, some of the comment(er)s are getting way over their heads already.

    We have reputation here already as a respectable Laker blog, let’s try to keep in line with that.

  171. This is getting ridiculous now. How many times has an opposing team’s fan come on here and said they were pleasantly suprised with our compusure and level-headedness? We sure aren’t right now.

    Please stop these ridiculous comparisons.

  172. i really like walton with the 2nd unit – when the game got close it seemed like he didn’t panic. Even that momentum-changing dish to pau for the and one – he just took his time even though the shot clock was running out and made a smart play.

  173. wiseolgoat,
    I think you and I are the only regular commentators on right now. I think that is part of the content problem. Goodby for tonight. Enjoyed the game.

  174. Craig – glad I’m not the only voice of reason around here…

  175. Ethank,
    “how overrated was the Celtics team last year”

    I don’t know – they won the title. Couldn’t have been that much overrated. Or if they were, then the Lakers were double-incredibly overrated, because they were picked to beat the Celtics.

  176. I love the effort. We were the ones attacking and making plays for the ball. You can see the difference between Duncan and Yao tonight. When we doubled Duncan from the blind side, Duncan was able to square up, protect the ball, and find the opposite wing open for the 3-pointer. Last night, Yao wasn’t able to execute that play, and we were able to take Yao’s post up out of the game and finish the Rockets off.

    Back to tonight’s game…
    It appears that Sasha has notched a point for his cause to play the closing minutes. His effort was a reminder of his play from last year, playing tough D, getting fouled and converting free throws, and hitting that open jump shot. If that is there for the playoffs I’d advocate Sasha over Ariza b/c of the shooting aspect.

  177. The Dude Abides March 12, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Wow…this blog has been invaded by 12-year olds and Celtic trolls! I especially liked the comment by a Celtic troll that Derek Fisher is a much better shooter than Ray Allen. Sorry, we see through your silly little game of trying to point out how ridiculous Laker fans are to the NBA blogosphere.

  178. The second unit needs Luke more than the starting unit, that seems obvious now. The switch was a great idea by Luke for the teams benefit, that’s the way he is, a team player all the way.

    Fear only exists to be conquered, fear will eventually vanish.

  179. 182 & 183, There are a lot of “readers” that feel the same. (content)

  180. We win a tough game on the road against a really good opponent and apparently we will be unstoppable for the next decade. Contrast this to when we lose (like against Portland or Denver) and it’s as if the Lakers are on the road to ruin and to a quick first round playoff exit.

    The Lakers are definitely an elite team, but do not discount the Celtics, the Cavs or even the Magic, the Spurs and the Jazz. They are also very good teams that could be a tough out in the playoffs for us.

  181. What I liked is that they won this game on the the second night of a back to back.

    The second unit played themselves back into it.

    Sasha hit some shots. (We need him shooting well.)

    Mbenga gave some quality minutes.

    The team seems to be gelling and communicating, i.e. for the most part they are more about winning than themselves.

  182. I agree completely that Luke was huge in this game. Unfortunately, he was a -12. I have no idea how that happened, but he had a series of really good possessions to stop that Spurs run. That Drive-Post Up-Pass to Pau for the And-1 probably sealed the game. The Spurs came back within 2 with 2 minutes left, but it took too much energy to get there.

    The Spurs are a hard team to figure out in mid-game. They play very methodically, alot of TD-centric stuff for about 75% of the game, and then if they sense any sort of weakness they open up their offense and start the hawking defense. This season especially, they seem to save their energy and take your punches until the time is right. It’s almost like they’re using rope-a-dope, taking a few mini-runs from their opponent and hoping to land a big run of their own somewhere in the 2nd half.

  183. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Did you know: Delonte West and Wanda Sykes share the same hair dresser.

  184. I’d actually debate a bit if I wanted KG over Pau/Bynum/Lamar, just because I’m curious as to how the intensity he’ll bring will mingle with Kobe’s.

    I’d definitely take Allen over Sasha, and maybe even Fisher, but that’s debatable as long as we’re playing the triangle.

    Paul Pierce over Trevor is also something that I’d actually have to think about since we only have one ball ;)

    But still, the thing in my mind that separates ‘our Lakers’ and ‘their Celtics’ is that our major pieces are home-grown. Granted we have a major piece in Pau that was imported, but everyone else on our team (counting Trevor here too since I consider him to have blossomed into something else HERE) bleed purple and gold as opposed to the Celtics who always have most of its major pieces coming via trades/veteran signings.

    Anyway, not sure why I wrote so much about the Celtics; I really think this year is LeBron’s. It’ll take a helluva team effort from us to keep him away from the trophy.

  185. Just got back from the game and it was GREAT. Kobe was tame, for the most part, but that 3 was huge – it sucked the life out of the building. I would estimate at least 20% of the fans were Laker fans. A few minor skirmishes afterwards amongst those of us in the cheap seats, but nothing bad this time. If I’m SA, I would be worried. They can’t win a series against us by shooting only 3s. Also, Duncan looked very average – again. His knee is not so good. Let’s keep winning and gear up for the playoffs. Tomorrow’s weather may be gray for San Antonio, but the gold beams from the game will last a while.

  186. Dude Abides – Yup, you got it right. After Henry at Truehoop was class enough to link to a FBaG comment thread, looks like some jealous Celts and possibly other team fans have come on and tried to dirty up the board.

    Kurt probably was busy tonight, but I hope the ridiculous fake Laker fan comments will be moderated, although things will probably get back to normal soon enough.

  187. I’ve said this before in other games with similar effort and tactics, but I really liked how we kept the ball on one side of the court against the Spurs offense (the Spurs really helped us accomplish this by continuing to initiate their sets from the wing, but that’s a tangental discussion). We did not allow Parker to get back to the middle of the court and continued to force him baseline and feed him to our bigs. Parker would much rather shoot from directly in front of the hoop with his floater or come at an angle where he can use the glass, but when he comes from the side and he can’t do either he will not force it. I also liked the way that Odom played Parker when we switched the P&R-following him through the lane and then chasing him back to the perimeter, playing off him, and then contesting his jumpers. In the second half, we didn’t do as good a job of keeping Parker out of the middle of the court and he showed why he’s one of the better scoring guards in the league. But overall, we did a good job and without our big lead generated by our stellar first half we may not have held on for the win. (Though Kobe’s heroics probably would have shined through regardless tonight; he’s been incredibly focussed these last two nights.)

  188. J.D. – hilarious!

  189. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Lebron is writhing on the ground…

  190. Our bench played very efficiently in the second half. Sasha, Luke and Powell were playing well. For all of the grief we give Luke and Sasha, both stepped up at key times to relieve the starters. I will say this about Sasha – he wants to make the big play. Whether he makes it or not is a different story, but he wants to play at the end of a close game. As for Farmar…he just doesn’t do much outside of transition, although his D was solid at times. Both games in SA were on the second night of back to backs and we’ve played well enough to win them both. There isn’t a team in the west that can consistently beat us in more than one way. Le’ts get HCA and take it…

  191. Labron just went down. Grabbed his knee. Hope he’s ok. The playoffs wouldn’t be the same without him.

  192. I should really watch what I write. I need LeBron to be healthy; I want LeBron vs. Kobe in the finals with Kobe on top.

    Anyone with insider access to ESPN? Curious to know what Hollinger said about Kobe and Kobe stoppers.

    I don’t like the guy but he sticks to his stats and does his homework – and I respect that…

  193. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Alright he just banged his knee and pulled a Vince Carter as described by Kelly Dwyer the other day. He’s fine.

    Wiseolgoat- I just report the facts the fans want to know!

  194. Great win tonight, although unlike some posters I’m not about to camp out on Figueroa just yet. I definitely wouldn’t say KG is pure talk and no production, because that just says you’re not a true fan of basketball, yes at times he can be ridiculous with his on court antics but he’s still one of the greatest PF’s of all time and saying you wouldn’t take him or R. Allen is just crazy. Looking forward to the game vs. Dalllas as we might be seeing them in the 1st round in the playoffs and it would be great to get a W against all three Texas teams in a row.

  195. Sorry guys, right as the game was ending my inlaws came over so I figured it was safe to walk away from the computer for a while. Not sure where the 12 year olds came from, but a bunch of messages just went the way of the dodo, and I’ll be around now. (of course, they seem to be gone.)

  196. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Oh, J Rich…

  197. j. d. hastings March 12, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Oh, Lebron…

  198. omg if I was a suns fan i would want to kill j rich, who does a 360 in a tight fourh quarter with lebron james behind them, never think i would see lebron miss a dunk

  199. Yeah. That was a great block Reggie Miller. Are you blind? When you can take a swipe at someone’s hands, it’s easy to block a shot…

  200. 197, harold ,that’s not true. Rondo, Perkins, and Paul Pierce have all been Celtics for their entire careers. Same goes for Tony Allen, Leon Powe, Glen Davis, many of their supplementary bench players. While agree that most of the Lakers are home-grown, 2 of the biggest ones, Lamar and Pau, were imported from elsewhere, similar to Ray Allen and KG on Boston.

    As for all the boastful trash-talking, some of the posts on this forum have become utter nonsense, after both wins and losses. When we lose, all the pessimists come out with stupid statements like “the Lakers aren’t tough enough” or “our bench is one of the worst in the league” or “we can’t beat any of the good teams in the league.” When we win, all the optimists come out, making idiotic statements like “no one can challenge us for the championship,” and “Boston and Cleveland are pushovers,” among other completely irrational statements, like claiming KG has no talent and Ray Allen is overrated.

    KG is one of the top 10 PF’s ever by consensus; no rational person can deny that. Between his stats, his defensive intensity, awards, and impact on his team, any statement belittling his talents is just idiocy. Ray Allen is one of the best pure shooters of all-time. He will break the record for three-point shots made, while remaining one of the top percentage shooters from all three areas (FG%, 3PFG%, FT%). Saying Fish is better than him as a shooter is ridiculous.

    This was a great win for the team. We just beat the 2nd best team in the Western Conference on their home floor. Who cares if we gave up a lead; the great teams always fight back on their home court, refusing to get embarassed in front of their own fans, which is exactly what the Spurs did. We managed to pull off a victory in their building, in March, during the playoff push. Savor this win.

    On that note, loved the playcalling down the stretch. We ran the Kobe-Gasol PNR every time down the floor during the last 7 minutes (with one Odom-Gasol PNR intermingled in there). Despite running the same play what had to be 7 times in a row, the Spurs had no defensive answer, which is just beautiful to behold. And our bench really ground it out in the early fourth quarter, with some huge buckets by Luke and Sasha. Overall, this is an enormously impressive win, but one that we shouldn’t get too carried away with, considering their best scorer was out.

  201. Talk about not wanting to lose…

    Syracue vs. Uconn

    5ot and counting…

  202. Labron banging knees again. I hope he survives this game in good health.

  203. holy crap! 6 OTs?? Is that a record?

  204. 208……finally

  205. Aaaand… that about does it for Phoenix I guess against the Cavs *sigh*

    Not unless someone else goes for a wild freefall in the following weeks, we won’t get a little taste of payback for them in the playoffs. I realize they’re not the same team back then, but still.

    On a side note, the Cavs are tied again with us for the best record right? Thankfully we still have that tie-breaker if things end up this way at the regular season end :p

  206. I really, really do not get it. That block by Lebron on J-Rich was clearly a foul. Ok, the referees missed it. That’s fine! But everybody is still gushing over it as if it was a clean block. I am seriously getting sick of this love-fest for Lebron.

  207. 196. harold –
    Hollinger had this to say about ‘Kobe stoppers':

    It’s hard to come up with a more spectacular finish to a game than the final 4:13 Kobe Bryant put together against Houston on Wednesday night. Through the first 43-plus minutes, Bryant had a relatively mundane outing, needing 19 shot tries (including one during which he was fouled) to generate 19 points.

    But in the final 4:13, he nearly matched that total with 18 points, and used just nine possessions in doing it (including one during which he turned the ball over). His woofing battle with Ron Artest added to the theater and underscored a key decision Houston made late — taking Shane Battier off the floor for Von Wafer.

    Wafer was undeniably hot, scoring 20 points in 28 minutes compared to the four put up by Battier, and the fact that Battier missed all four of his 3-point attempts undoubtedly made it a little easier for L.A. to double Yao Ming.

    That said, Battier’s history as a Kobe stopper is much more accomplished than Artest’s, so his being on the bench until 1:02 remained with Kobe already 10 points into his onslaught was notable. Perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered — Bryant got an and-one on Battier immediately after he checked in — but this might be one case Rick Adelman will regret riding a hot hand.

    Great game tonight. The -12 on Walton’s part was interesting. Because he made key plays, his impact may have seemed more salient than it actually was. The +/- is very much reflective of what players you’re playing against and what players you’re playing with, so obviously with Farmar committing turnovers and that stretch in the 3rd when the bench ignored Gasol, that number decreases for Walton. This is why the Roland rating takes the difference between you and your opposing player or substitute.
    I’m glad to see our defensive focus upped a notch tonight. That’s why we won the game. Our closeouts were decent, but it seemed like we could’ve been smarter about choosing when to help. The helper got drawn in at times when the penetrator did not pose a significant threat i.e. someone else was in position to cut him off. But I’m happy since playing the same way we wouldn’t t expect 65% of threes to go in.
    I’m not worried about Utah because they have no inside presence and only end up having to foul when their defense is compromised. The Celtics could be very dangerous with the improved play of Rondo/Perkins, especially with a short rotation in the playoffs. All opponents are dangerous. It’s the NBA for god sakes. I think maybe some of the borderline juvenile commenters feel that our talent and potential is far greater than these teams. We’ve shown we can guard and execute brilliantly. But potential certainly does not translate automatically to success and this does not mean the playoffs will be a walk in the park.
    One last note. Did Kobe take a single shot in the paint? His work was all on the perimeter. And it was so sublime to watch. I’ve had gripes with his shot selection, but tonight I may have had a slight change of heart. It got me thinking, especially after the comment that Barkley made about how the Lakers would win 70 games w/ LeBron instead of Kobe. Kobe takes difficult jumpers when the team needs it, whether it be the clock ticking down, or the offensive set failed to get a good look, he has to make something of nothing and this is very difficult to do. LeBron, on the other hand, takes shots in the motion of the offense. When he tries to create or jack up difficult shots during the same circumstances, he probably converts at a much lower frequency. So while he has a higher shooting percentage and is thought of as a more ‘team-oriented’ player, he may actually not be helping his team as much as Kobe. Creating impossible shots against a compromised defense is a huge net bonus, while making shots when the defense is already compromised can be done by an NBA player with decent skills. Anyone care to comment on this?

  208. That was a clear foul on LeBron’s block of Richardson. Not to say that Richardson isn’t a moron for not figuring out that LeBron is coming at a billion miles an hour to swat whatever shot comes up, but anyways.

    Our second unit tonight was sustained by the two people we thought wouldn’t contribute a whole lot at the start of the year — Powell and Walton — and brought down by the two players we thought were going to carry it — Farmar and Vujacic. The offense flows so much more smoothly when Walton is on the floor, and Powell is showing how good of a replacement he is for Ronny (besides the dancing, which I’m fairly certain won’t be duplicated for a long time). Farmar needs to settle down in the halfcourt and not try for home run passes to operate the offense. Sasha needs to stop at the three point line and wait for an open look with his feet set than trying to hit a fadeaway jumper after trying and failing to beat his man off the dribble. As we’ve frequently stated, people trying to play outside their roles hurt this team, and Farmar and Sasha have been trying to do that all year.

    Anyhow, with this out of the way, the hardest two-game stretch for us for the rest of the season is out of the way. For the rest of the season, our remaining (possibly) difficult games are Dallas, @Detroit, @Atlanta, Houston, Denver, @Portland, and Utah. Of those, the only ones that really show a decent amount of difficulty are Detroit, who seems to have their mojo back with Iverson going back to the bench, Atlanta, who is a tough team to play in their house, Houston, although I doubt their chances of beating us at home, and Portland, possibly the hardest game left in the regular season. Now, let’s see we lose four of the tough games and win the rest. That leaves us at 65-17, which is a pretty damn good record.

    Cleveland, which at this point is our only real threat for HCA seeing as Boston is slipping with no Rondo and no Garnett, has Orlando, Portland, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, @Orlando, San Antonio, and Boston as its remaining fairly tough games. The key point is that with the exception of Orlando, all of these games are at home, where only we have been able to beat them. That said, they have to finish with a record of 66-16 or better — as we have the tiebreaker — to get HCA. That gives them three or fewer losses, meaning that they’re going to have to lose some home games or get upset on the road outside of Orlando (go Washington!) for us to claim HCA. Now, we certainly could finish with a record better than 65-17, but it’s going to be a remarkably close race between Cleveland and us. We don’t have a whole lot of margin for error, and we might end up banking on the Cavs losing a few down the stretch.

    All this said though, I think Phil and Kobe will keep the team pretty motivated for the prospect of HCA for the remainder of the season, so it should be a fun finish.

  209. The Dude Abides March 12, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    202. I want to kill* J-Rich, and I’m a Laker fan.

    *figuratively

    210. pw, I’m sure the ref near the play knew it was a foul, but didn’t call it because it was an extremely stupid and selfish play by J-Rich. Down two points, with nine minutes left in the game, and instead of just doing a merely exciting breakaway dunk he tries a 360 with LeBron breathing down his neck? No way I’m bailing him out with a foul on a play like that if I’m a ref. That was a six-point swing. Instead of a tie score, the “block” happened and the Cavs went down and hit a three, then J-Rich picked up a T for arguing and the Cavs make the FT and go up six. Pathetic. I bet Steve Nash and Grant Hill want to strangle him. But what do you expect from a guy who drives 100 MPH through city streets and doesn’t put his toddler in a car seat or seat belt?

  210. Thanks Don.

    Zephid, I know we got Lamar for Shaq, but he’s been with us for a while now. Quite unlike the Celts who just got them last year… and the players the C’s got are clearly better associated with other teams than the Celtics.

    Anyway, no, I honestly won’t pause much when somebody offers Paul/Allen/Garnett for anyone 1:1 on our roster outside of Kobe in terms of talent – but there is a minor thing called salary and I’m not sure if each of them is worth that much more than the players they’ll replace.

  211. I just noticed now how funny Bill Simmons is when he isn’t maligning the Lakers or blindly praising the Leps….

    Hmm.

  212. Just watched the LeBron block and can’t stop asking myself:

    Was that not a RECKLESS play by LeBron?

    Sure LBJ didn’t get the guy’s head. Sure JRich was stupid. Sure it was LBJ not Trevor. Sure nothing serious happened afterwards.

    But, if you look at it, LBJ viciously swiped the guy’s arms and could’ve really slammed the guy against the backboard and broken some hands or fingers.

  213. Harold – i had that EXACT same thought! I’ve been waiting on a post by Abbott comparing LeBron’s play to hunting deer in a crowded street, but I don’t think it’s forthcoming…

  214. the only difference is lebron’s leaping ability is about twice ariza’s and he got high enough to not have to swipe the head as well… also.. jRich is way athletic.. more than rudy anyway..

    but i agree.. it was equally reckless and the rules shdn’t be different just because u and ur victim are more athletic/agile..

  215. and i really hope we don’t stop calling reckless fouls just because the we don’t wanna “bail out” the victims’ bonehead plays…

  216. Luke’s -12 is meaningless, it might have been -25 for the second unit if he wasn’t in there.

  217. 221. I think you hit the nail on the head.

  218. I’m just really happy to see Walton playing like we know he can again. For a while there it was like he forgot how to play BB and looked completely dejected, like a guy just waiting for the ax to fall. maybe he got a talking to from Bill.

    powell has been a nice surprise. also, why doesn’t mbenga get more PT? nice to have a big guy who can sink the 15-20 footer.

    cavs is looking scary. andrew bynum, lakers nation turns its hopeful eyes to you, woowoowoo.

  219. One of the things Luke brings to the second unit is that he actually understands and can run the Triangle offense as often the second unit looks lost in the set offense.

    It’s easy to run the offense with Kobe, Fish and Gasol, but with Jordan, Sasha and Ariza it does not flow so well. So Ariza can function well with the starters and Luke can provide some semblence of structure to the second unit.

  220. Isn’t it kind of funny that the reason we added Luke to the first team earlier in the year was because they had forgotten how to run the triangle?