Preview & Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

Kurt —  March 15, 2009

Olympics Day 8 - Basketball
Records: Lakers 52-13 (1st in the West) Mavericks 40-26 (8th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.8 (1st in league) Mavericks 109.6 (8th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (6th in league) Mavericks 108.0 (15th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Mavericks Jason Kidd, Jose Barea, Antoine Wright, Dirk Nowitzki, Eric “worst contract in the NBA” Dampier

Matadors, baby!!! My alma mater, Cal State Northridge, made the NCAA Tournament. And it is a great story — on Jan. 26 this team was 7-10, (4-5 in conference) when it’s leading scorer got kicked off the team for being a complete idiot. A few weeks later, the team’s point guard was in a car accident that gave him internal injuries and knocked him out for the season. I and a lot of fans had started to write the season off.

But they rallied around Rodrigue Mels, who after a year and a half of uninspired basketball took over the team and started being efficient ad hitting Kobeesque crazy shots. Combine that with a style good for a smallish underdog team — aggressive gambling defense and a shoot first and ask questions later offense — and they got hot. They won the Big West then the two games they needed in the Big West Tournament. This means I’m buying more Northridge gear to wear this week.

The Lakers coming in: One reason the Lakers offense is so good is it gets shots close to the basket. Against the Spurs, the Lakers were 22 of 39 (56%) in the paint. Gasol was 8 of 11. We all see the Lakers offense struggle some when they get away from going inside (or it is taken away from them) and it is because they just become a less efficient offense — when the ball goes inside the Lakers score a high percentage.

A sign of where Lamar Odom’s head is. Or isn’t. In March, he is 5 of 15 from the free throw line.

The Mavericks Coming In: The Mavericks are facing some injury issues, particularly at the three, where Josh Howard and Devean George are out.

Dallas is 7-3 in their last 10 games, the same record as the Lakers, and they are playing a little desperate. Dallas needs these wins – as the 8 seed they would get the Lakers in the first round, but they are only a game and a half our of the division lead and a top-4 seed with home court. And a better first-round matchup. It will not be easy, however, 11 of their remaining 17 games are against teams over .500, and the Mavs have not been a great road team this year. (The remaining Lakers opponents, by the way, have an average winning percentage of .460.)

How are the Mavs getting geared up for the playoffs? I asked Rob of Two Man Game for his thoughts:

I’m not sure that the Mavs’ recent approach is fundamentally different than it has been all season long. They still live and die by jumpshots, which affects their ability to play on both ends. When the shooters disappear, the Mavs’ defensive focus goes with them and things go from bad to worse. So when the Mavs are playing “well,” it typically means that they are uncharacteristically attacking the basket or the shots are falling. When that confidence builds up on the offensive end, this Maverick team really steps it up defensively. The rotations are more crisp, there aren’t as many long rebounds to jump-start opponents’ fast breaks, and the intensity on the glass seems to improve. So it’s not so much that the Mavs are gearing up for the postseason as it is that they’ve enjoyed some good offensive nights recently.

There is one noted area of improvement: in recent wins over Portland and Phoenix, the Mavs have shown more guts than they have all season. The loss to Golden State makes those games seem like distant memories, but it’d be a shame to discount two hard-fought wins. If the Mavs can somehow steal a win in L.A., I’d still consider the trip to be an incredible success. Even showing some defensive progress would be nice, but by now I know better; this team is what it is defensively. I’ll settle for a gutsy, close victory over a true contender, and that type of game will do more for the Mavs than a decisive victory either way.

Long term, the Mavs are at a crossroads, and it will be interesting to see how they handle it. Is this a team that, as owner Mark Cuban believes, is one Gasol-like trade away from contending again? Or is it time to blow it all up and start to rebuild? The Jason Kidd contract comes off the books this summer and the first-reaction thought is to let him walk. But the Mavs are already over the cap and pushing the tax for next year without him. Can they really get a better PG for the mid-level? The position they really need to improve is the three, do they try to go that way with a trade and bring back Kidd cheaply to run the show for a better roster?

Again, thoughts from Rob:

Obviously it depends on how big the ‘piece’ is. Any significant Mavs’ move is either going to come via trade in 2009-2010 or 2010 free agency. The 2010 angle seems nearly impossible without some serious cap maneuvering, so I consider it to have a pretty huge asterisk.

The current team has some glaring holes (shooting guard and center, perimeter defense), and unless the additions specifically address those weaknesses it’s hard to see this team becoming a legitimate contender once again. That said, the Mavs don’t need Dwyane Wade to jump into the top tier (although it wouldn’t hurt, that’s for sure). Even one of the 2010 free agents lingering just outside the spotlight could make a huge difference (paging Joe Johnson), provided they occupy one of those problem positions. So in short, I think it’s true. If the Mavs could add a good to great player without giving much up, it could definitely thrust them into contention.

To say that Mavs fans are conflicted wouldn’t cover the half of it. It’s easy to see that the Mavs are aging by the day, and many have already grown impatient with second-tier status. Whether that impatience translates to a desire to blow it up and start over seems to change by the game. If at the heart of the issue is ‘Can the Mavs become elite once again with this group?’, then smaller issues like Josh Howard’s tenuous place on the team and whether it’s fair to give up on Dirk serve as both clarification and complication. It’s not an easy situation to sort through, and the fans are feeling that. Generally speaking, though, I think most of the fans are content to stay with Dirk, trade Josh, and play the 2010 market.

Keys To The Game: Beware of the Ides of March. The Lakers just seem to have the Mavs number, having beaten then five straight times. That includes two wins this season, both by seven points. But the Mavs are a desperate team with a leader who is playing well, this is not going to be an easy game.

One of the key reasons is that the Lakers do a good job on Dirk — he has shot just 12 of 32 in the first two meetings this year against the Lakers. In those games, Gasol was on him most of the time because Bynum was in on Dampier. Tonight things will go to Lamar Odom, who also is long and has some success against Dirk. If that doesn’t work, the Lakers can go with DJ Mbenga on Dampier and move Gasol back over to the four. Nowitzk has been playing well of late, scoring 30 a game the last eight games shooting 51%, but the key is not to let him get too many shots in the paint, make him shoot contested jumpers. If the Lakers can continue to hold him in check it could be a long night for the Mavs.

If the Mavs get into the paint, it is on penetration, they rarely have post plays set up. Dirk likes the ball at the elbow, and they run a lot of pick-and-pop with Kidd or with Terry off the bench (but he often closes out games. The Lakers have to defend that well.

The Lakers must close out on shooters. Must. Close. Out. This is not a great team to play pack-the-paint against.

The Mavs struggle to match up in man-to-man with the Lakers, and in a game I caught some of the other night they went to a lot of zone. I expect the Lakers will see a fair amount of that tonight.

Where you can watch: 12:30 start at Staples, showing on ABC. After reading the comments from the last post, I know you’ll all tune in early to watch that ABC Studio show.

By the way, I am at today’s game, so expect more comments and twitters from me than usual.


225 responses to Preview & Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

  1. This wasn’t in the post, but Dampier can have huge games against us, so we can’t write him off. 12 offensive rebounds the first time we played this season, and had a 16 pt 17 rb game against us last year as well.

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  2. first!
    ha…now what to say…hmmmm.
    ok, after our last 2 impressive victories, this is a dangerous game to ne careful not to let up. we can’t let the Mavs feel that they have a shot to win. we’ve got to get out quick, (fish, keep up that hot streak to open games) and “keep our foot on their throat” and not let them back into the game. if they feel they have a shot, they are, as Kurt says, desperate to get this W.
    this is like a season making W for the Mavs, whereas it’s just another end run big game for us, we are going to see lots of intensity, and we’ve got to match it!
    I like the idea of DJ on Dampier, DJ was a Mav, (thanks Cuban for paying his salary last season) so there should be some familiarity, and this would be a good test for DJ…I know PJ knows it’s important to bring his confidence up over time, and he’s responding.
    I’m enjoying seeing Powell come along.
    and equally dissapointed in Sasha’s decline over the season, now I think he’s thinking too much, not just letting the game flow come to him, but rather forcing too much.

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  3. It’s been some high level basketball these last two games, would love to see them complete the Tejas hat trick and leave no doubt for this potential 1st round matchup.

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  4. 4-

    It amused me greatly.

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  5. I’m going to take time out from typing my 1250-word paper to watch this game on ABC.

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  6. Having not seen much Mavs ball lately, I’m interested to see what kind of games they are putting together for the playoffs. I disagree with Kurt, I don’t think the team is just one piece away, I think they’ve got to strongly consider pulling the ‘chute and retooling/rebuilding.

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  7. Phil Jackson’s pregame thoughts:

    They clearly are not pulling out the full bag of tricks today, keeping some stuff in reserve in case there is a playoff meeting. Part of that is the timing, one day of practice versus a series, but it was clear he is not going to use everything the scouts told him.

    He added that as tight as the West is it is too early to worry about your playoff opponent in the first round.

    When asked if he could work with a Mark Cuban behind the bench as he is in Dallas: “I don’t think I can work under those conditions. You people (the press) are bad enough.”

    Comparing Dallas to its teams of the past, he talked about how much they missed Stackhouse or someone to be the steady other scoring option.

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  8. 7. I really think whether or not they rebuild depends on can they get someone good in a salary dump in this economy. If some team is getting rid of a good two or a center they can use, and they can get a little depth, maybe it is worth it. If not, I just go into rebuild mode. Better to do that a little too early, when you have assets to trade and move, than too late, when you need Lottery help.

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  9. Phil Jackson pregame, when asked if he was ready for a seven game series against Mark Cuban: “I don’t think he’s suiting up this year.”

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  10. Man, Milwaukee is giving the Celtics all they can handle (65-63, Milwaukee, end of the third quarter). Skiles is a taskmaster, but give him this, he makes teams work hard. If they still had Redd and Bogut, they’d be looking at the sixth seed or so right now.

    As for Dallas, they really lack scoring options outside of Nowitzki, Howard, and Terry. If one of them has an off-night, they are sunk. Phil’s comment about Stackhouse is true — they really miss having another scoring option (although Stockhouse is a far cry from the player he was two years ago). As for rebuilding, I think Dirk will stay so long as Cuban wants him, and I don’t think Cuban will ever let him go. I think Kidd comes back for a little below the midlevel. Be interesting to see what they do in the offseason.

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  11. I think the Mavs really need a post player that can score on the block to free up their perimeter threats even more. Dirk will never be that guy, so if they could get a Center or even a SF who has a strong low block game, I think that would be the closest thing they could acquire that is a “missing piece”. Teams that rely so much on jumpshooters are teams that will continually fall short, especially when they face a disciplined defense that can key in on that strength.

    One other interesting thing about the Mavs…Look at their offensive and defensive rankings that Kurt posted. How can a team that is 8th in offense and 4th in defense be an eight seed? This team is either mentally up and down so much that they lose games they shouldn’t or are much better than their seeding indicates.

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  12. 11 – And that’s why this Dallas team will never win anything, because Cuban has hitched his wagon to the Diggler no matter what. Like nomuskles said, it time to blow that thang up. Actually it was time after the Golden State debacle.

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  13. 10 – lmao it must be extremely fun to be around Phil.

    I certainly give ABC credit for trying to improve their pre-game show. They just had a Darth Vader voice declare Pau Gasol has “the keys to stopping Dirk Nowitzki” and did a fairly decent montage. It’d be more impressive if this were the playoffs, but still it’s a step up from their normal classical music warmup for games.

    Random thought: How many assists would Kobe have if he had these teammates but didn’t play in the triangle? I don’t think he’s the passer Lebron or Wade are, but I think his stats are slightly deflated because of the system he plays in. However, # of championships Kobe would have without the triangle: 0. I take that tradeoff.

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  14. Darius, that was a now corrected error on their defense. They are 15th in the league at 108.0. Sorry. But it makes the 8th seed make more sense.

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  15. Kurt,
    That does make more sense. I was going to say…a top 8 team in both offensive and defensive efficiency and they’re an 8th seed? However, the first part of my premise about mental ups and downs may be the correct answer anyway. Remeber, this is a team that Cubes ripped into after losing to OKC minus Durant and Green. I know that OKC is an up and coming team but those are 2 of their best 3 players.

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  16. 14

    Wasn’t Kobe averaging 6+ assists for the first half of the 2004/5 season when Rudy T was in charge? I’m guessing he’d have similar numbers if his coach ran endless pick-and-rolls and isolations for him (although I agree he still wouldn’t match Wade or LeBron).

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  17. By the way, pregame workouts, Morrison and Brown were working on the two-man weakside game of the triangle. Rambis in the elbow post, Shaw as the elbow defender, pass in and cut off the post and make a play. Learning the offense.

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  18. 17 – Thanks, I was about to look those numbers up myself. The thing we have to take into account is that was with Smush and Butterfin…ahem, Kwame. Even if we exclude Pau (who arguably is more talented than any of Lebron or Wade’s teammates), with Bynum and Fisher I predict Bryant’s assists would drastically increase. Which might actually put him in the 7-8 range, perhaps even more. Just shows that people place too much emphasis on statistics without taking context into account.

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  19. Odom just pushed Dirk around on that last play. Good thing to see early. As is the ball movement.

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  20. I cant stand contractual writings…

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=sundaydime-090315

    Hubie writes with respect to the cavs:
    And this year, it’s not just Boston the Lakers need to worry about. Cleveland has the depth, the defensive rotation and the shot-blocking ability to give them big problems. The Cavs’ defense, combined with their improvement on the offensive end and the additions to their roster this season, will make them a challenge for any team….

    With that statement you’d think the cavs killed us 2-0 this season

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  21. Wow, the Mavs cannot defend quickness to save their lives.

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  22. Pau a little aggresive today huh

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  23. You know you’re a small guard when Derek Fisher is trying to post you up…

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  24. Early the Lakers are going at the mismatches, like posting up Fish on the Lolipop kid.

    But got to close on the three point shooters.

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  25. The Cobra is on fire from 3!

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  26. Ariza is feeling it!

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  27. 27/28. The plan for the Mavs clearly was to lay off him. He is getting the ball, setting his feet and nobody is making a run-out at him. This timeout may be discussing that strategy and its wisdom.

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  28. Anyone with a link?

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  29. Thanks, still having trouble with justin.tv though.

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  30. That turnover by Luke just shows why he sucks.

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  31. With 2:30 left in the first, Lakers shooting 71.1%, Dallas 67.9% (eFG%). Terry and Barea from three are the reasons.

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  32. Why do i think Josh should be more atheletic…I expected him to throw down that alley-oop

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  33. Wow, another turnover by Luke…Geez

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  34. I like the Mavs second unit better than the first.

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  35. The Lakers have let a couple of rebounds hit the court and go to the Mavericks … Phil can’t be happy about that.

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  36. Pau is having a great game, overall we are doing fine, LO’s 2 fouls were not necessary, but Powell is hustling and hopefully Kobe will show up soon

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  37. Wait a minute.

    Jeff Van Gundy just admonished the Mavericks defense, playing bad “for a team that wants to move up in the standings.”

    And don’t they want to move up, to avoid the Lakers? Who can, will, and currently are exploiting Dallas’ defense? Any wonder why the defense looks bad, Jeff?

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  38. See second unit? Give the ball to Pau and good things happen…

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  39. Is Mark Jackson really arguing that Pau Gasol’s jumpshot has a ‘pretty release’????

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  40. we need to control the boards. It’s that simple. Mavs are getting some nice second chances that keep them in this game.

    On the other note, if you could go with Dirk or Pau for your team, who would you choose?

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  41. is there any link to watch the game?
    no ABC here in brazil…

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  42. As soon as that timeout was called, Phil walked out and yelled at Sasha for not sticking with Terry.

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  43. I miss the second unit with Ariza….they look awful except when they give the ball to Pau. Give ammo some burn, cuz Luke is just a waste of space out there.

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  44. #43 — It’s close; I actually think Dirk is a bit underrated these days. For “my” team, meaning the Lakers? Pau, without a doubt. He’s perfect for what we want to do. If I was starting from scratch, I might go with the big German.

    Remember when we traded Shaq, and reportedly the Lakers wanted to swap him to Dallas for Dirk? The last few seasons would have been VERY interesting with Kobe and Nowitzki teaming up.

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  45. The mavs are going super small, and Mbenga is in for us. He is definitely no Pau Gasol, but I we should make some plays for him so he gets inspired (if he needs additional inspiration to play against his former team)

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  46. Bad shot selection by Sasha.

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  47. I know Phil wants the second unit to work it out, but if you don’t have Odom/Gasol/Kobe out with them (or Bynum), there is nobody who can really create his own shot or generate offense. They start to stagnate, and it gets in their heads on defense.

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  48. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    I haven’t finished reading today’s preview yet, but I feel I have to say something: ABC’s announcing team is excruciating to listen to. They consistently go for three, four, and five minute stretches where they don’t discuss the game at all. They are basically a sports talk show that tangentially touches upon the game in front of them. I think it should be Breen’s job to get SVG and Jackson back on point, but he doesn’t do it.

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  49. That was really heads up by Farmar. He anticipated the pass, made the steal, pushed through an early attempt to hold his arm, then drove into the body of the bigger Kidd on the break.

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  50. 47. I agree that people would generally choose Nowitzki. But it’s all because of perceptions and achievements so far.

    Nowitzki has been absolutely great in his own right. He has been the MVP and always in the discussion for the top 3-4 PFs of the game. But Dirk has played with Nash, Finley and other good players.

    On the other hand, Pau has been consistent, but playing on a poor team with whom he still manage to make it to playoffs.

    Eventhough Dirk is one of the best shooters, he is behind Gasol in almost all other categories. Pau is a better rebounder, inside scorer, passer and off-the ball (screens, cuts, positioning) player.

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  51. 43

    I love Pau as Kobe’s sidekick, but the man went 0-12 as the #1 option on his team. Dirk, despite a couple of disappointing series, has shown he can carry a team in playoff games, and Pau hasn’t.

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  52. 46. Are you kidding? Luke is actually playing pretty well. People decide they don’t like player X or Y and then cherry pick info to fit what they want to see. He has been good on the second unit.

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  53. I like Ariza on Kidd. I like him on PGs in general.

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  54. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Kurt, since you’re there, can you ask someone if Andrew had plasma rich platelet therapy (PRP)? Thanks

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  55. Uh yeah good luck with that E-ROC, I have 25 pages to write, followed by 8… 🙂 Go Lakers!

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  56. Dude, I asked the PR guy who had to ask a trainer. No answer yet.

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  57. If there is one thing Farmar can do better than Fish, it is make decisions on the break.

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  58. Emma – I’m nearly done though. I have to write my paper on a comparison between Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad.

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  59. Lakers 67% eFG% for the half. Going to win a lot of games with that.

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  60. celtics just lost to milwaukee.
    i guess their injury problem has caused them a lot of problems and there’s no positive sight that moore and starburry is a good addition for them.

    i think we fight cavs for HCA now.

    btw, Pau’s stat in the 1st half is just insane.
    10/10 for 20 pts – no turnover, only one foul.
    the only negative stat is he missed one FT

    gotta love his game.

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  61. Here is a link. Just scroll down and you’ll see the Lakers/Mavs game. Click on that and it will open a new window for the game.

    http://www.atdhe.net/

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  62. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    60. Kurt–that’s for sure, Jordan consistently makes better decisions on the break than Fish. I just wish he would make better decisions when the break isn’t there. Also, thanks for asking about PRP and Drew.

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  63. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    11. BCR–the Bucks beat the Celtics going away, and that segues into my beef with ABC’s pregame show with Wilbon, Barry, and Booyah Scott. The consensus from those guys was that the Lakers could beat Cleveland in the Finals without Andrew, but not Boston.

    Morans. http://tinyurl.com/dx8rh9

    How can Boston beat the Lakers without a healthy Garnett? How can Boston get past Orlando in the second round without a healthy Garnett, then get past Cleveland? The Celtics are going to be the #3 seed…and now, Barry says he’s not worried about Boston. Clueless.

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  64. *I’d like to see us go to Luke more on the block when he’s in there and Pau is on the bench. He can score down there against a lot of SF’s and he can get other people looks by drawing defenders around the basket.

    *Farmar really needs to work on his post entry passes. He’s thrown away at least 3 or 4 in the last couple of games. If he’s going to be a wing player for us, he’s got to pass better into the post. That was one thing that guards should be able to do well, and he doesn’t. I love how he’s playing in the open court though (but what else is new there?).

    *Odom’s been shooting many more jumpers lately. I’d like to see him get back to cutting from the weakside and flashing to the ball when Kobe and Pau are in position to set him up for the easy score. I like his aggressiveness, but he’s not as effective shooting that stepback jumper.

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  65. “ABC’s pregame show with Wilbon, Barry, and Booyah Scott”

    Come on man, what do you expect from those guys? Cutting edge NBA analysis and insight? Let me guess, they said the Lakers aren’t ‘tough enough’ right?

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  66. If you were Dallas, what halftime adjustments can you really make? Aside find a 7-foot defensive center in the crowd? They can’t stop anybody in the paint, and they can’t defend quickness well on the wings.

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  67. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    68. Way to clarify things, Darius. All great points.

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  68. 70

    Rescind the Devin Harris trade?

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  69. Ariza is hot from outside tonight. Season high 18 points.

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  70. Ariza for 3 again!!!

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  71. Why is Josh Howard not playing?

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  72. 75. Ankle issue. He’s missed a few games in a row now.

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  73. By the way, it’s easy to slam Dallas for no interior D, and Gasol going 10-10 in the first half. But to be fair, he is a tough cover, he probably used 7 different shots and moves to get that 10.

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  74. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    69. You called me “man?” It’s Dude…or his dudeness…or el duderino. Nihilist.

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  75. There you go Darius, a cutting Lamar with the high-low from Pau. Hope you enjoyed the one vision of that you get this game.

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  76. I hope i won’t regret saying this, but I hope Dallas stays at the 8 spot. of the bunched up together #3-#8 teams, they give us the least trouble. Blazers and Jazz are the ones I least want to see in the 1st round.

    Incidentally, the Cavs have a real chance of going 40-1 at home. How will that play into their heads if we’re the only ones to beat them at home?

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  77. I wish Kobe played that kind of D all the time, he is just a beast

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  78. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Are you kidding JVG? Who the hell cares if Boston University (not even Boston College) fired their head coach? This is the NBA.

    PS Joel, they didn’t say that the Lakers weren’t “tough enough,” but they certainly implied it.

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  79. The Lakers worked on that full court zone trap in practice yesterday. That is one thing Phil pulled out of the bag tonight. It seemed to really bother the Mavs.

    Would it have bothered Jason Kidd circa 2000?

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  80. You know, rotating out to Terry might be a good thing.

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  81. 78

    My bad ma… dude.

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  82. And on that note, Kobe shuts down Terry on that possession, which ABC was good enough to replay that for national television.

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  83. That defensive play by Kobe was so fun to watch.

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  84. 81

    If Kobe played that kind of D all the time he’d be exhausted by the All-Star break.

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  85. Kurt, I don’t think the Mavs have the right personnel to play defense. The only two good defensive players are Jason Kidd and Antoine Wright. Dampier has his moments, but that is it.

    As far as the half court trap, I think if the same personnel was trapping, players 6’8″ and 6’11” with that athleticism, would cause Kidd problems.

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  86. The way the standings are right now is how I’d like them to end. We’d only have to play 1 of Utah, SA, Portland and Houston. I think Houston, Denver and NO are the teams in the West we match up with.

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  87. I just gotta say its nice to see reasonable, intelligent comments about the Lakers, so nice that Truehoop Blazer guy gave you guys props during that Fernandez thing(I found this place though his link).

    I just got out of a Laker forum, and… uhh, yeah. Wow. You all know what I’m talking about.

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  88. Er, I mean Dallas, Denver and NO, not Houston, are the teams we match up best with. It’s not that I don’t think we can’t beat the other, it’s that they’d wear us down more.

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  89. Terry only has one hand and thats his right hand. Force him left. Walton should’ve known better right there.

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  90. ahh i wish i could like luke walton but he makes it so easy to hate him

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  91. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Sometimes Luke’s “great” court vision gets him in trouble. I would submit that his better than average vision primarily applies to the triangle. A simple 10 foot pass to Jordan instead of a contested 30 foot pass to Kobe would have left Jordan with the ball a few feet from halfcourt with three seconds left. That was just ugly.

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  92. STOP LEAVING TERRY OPEN!!!!

    Are these guys for real?

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  93. That was a horrible way for the second unit to start the quarter.

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  94. Kobe-time coming up, buckle up and enjoy the ride!

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  95. This is ridiculous.

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  96. WHAT?!? Who said Luke is actually playing good? Yeah right! That turnover could prove costly if Lakers end up losing this game!…hahaha

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  97. It’s a zone guys. Spread the floor, get the ball into Gasol in the paint or shoot over the top of it.

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  98. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    OK, Luke is officially killing us.
    /ducks Kurt’s retort

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  99. Another bonehead turnover by Luke to start the 4th? Who said he’s actually playing good again?

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  100. Why does the second unit so rarely run things through Gasol? More often than not there is just perimeter passing ad nauseum. The triangle has functions to attack the zone, but the second unit needs to run it better.

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  101. 99. Again, you are cherrypicking plays. If I wanted to take three plays a game I could make Kobe look like the worst player in the NBA.

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  102. got walton again, give it to Gasol ffs

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  103. And on cue, Walton with the steal.

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  104. It only takes one play to cost the game…

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  105. And then we actually have a good offensive possession. How? Playing the triangle and going to Gasol. What a novel thought. And then Luke bricks both free throws…

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  106. Yup, on cue…Walton with a foul!…haha

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  107. OMG please take him out

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  108. Jason Terry. Open. For 3. Again. Unbelievable.

    The second unit is at it again.

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  109. By the way, I’m not comfortable defending Luke as all that. He just made a bad play on Singleton to put the Lakers behind. But I’m also not going to ignore that the bench looked better the previous two games with him on it.

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  110. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Jordan, when Kidd dribbles into traffic and you would be the third or fourth defender on him, you should not leave the hot 3-pt shooter.

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  111. The way to beat a zone is with the high post flash and the baseline player running from short corner to short corner as the ball reverses. Odom and Powell would be perfect in this role, but we have to be patient and move the ball. On defense, sticking with Terry would be a good idea. Denying him the ball would be even better and make him score on the move and not just let him fire up open 3’s (especially when he gets a good flow going).

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  112. Farmar and Vujacic should stop turning their backs to Terry.

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  113. how bad is the bench unbelievable

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  114. To the point, the horrible defense out there now is a team effort, the entire second unit playing like crap. You cannot single out Luke without getting on Jordan, Powell, all of them. That is my point. The need for a whipping boy by people just amazes me.

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  115. This is a different team the lakers are playing..you can’t compare Luke’s play from a couple games ago. If he’s disrupting the flow of their bench in THIS game, then take him out.

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  116. I’ll leave it to others to pile on Luke; I’ll reserve my venom for Jason Terry and his little peanut head.

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  117. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    113. That’s correct, Kurt, but every single Walton TO in this game has been a steal by the Mavs and two or three points at the other end. They have all been terrible turnovers, and in the one chance he had to make up for it, he missed both FT.

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  118. We seem to be worried more about penetration not 3 point shooters. We over cover anyone attempting to come into the lane hence leaving 3 pointers wide open even when they are HOOOT like Terry is today…poor defensive instincts.

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  119. Luke a -8…yup, keep him in the game

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  120. Dare I say we need Ariza back in for Sasha to shoot the three?

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  121. That was all ball, ref.

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  122. And Pau is at minus 1. Get him out of there, right?

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  123. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    For all the rest of the blogosphere moans about Kobe getting all the calls, I give you this game as a counter argument.

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  124. 20 to 2 run by Dallas, ugh.

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  125. Three straight missed threes for Sasha. Please take him out Phil. Ariza has a career high you know.

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  126. oh god, I totally jinxed them.

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  127. j. d. hastings March 15, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Pau was standing ourtside the circle for like 4 seconds. How is that a blocking foul?

    Not that it matters. Keep shooting jumpers, Lakers. I’m sure everything will get better if you just keep ignoring Pau.

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  128. Kobe time!

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  129. …how one earth was Terry open for that three again?!?

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  130. j. d. hastings March 15, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    The last several years, the lakers have had serious issues recognizing what to do whenever they face a zone. Usually, it would happen enough through the year that they’d figure it out over time. This is the first I remember seeing th phenomenon this year.

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  131. Lakers will lose by 3 pts or less…hmm…where did we give them 3 free points? oh yeah, the 3 pointer at the end of the 3rd…just watch!

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  132. JVG is only half right. Powell, Odom, Mbenga, and Ariza have all done fine when coming off the bench. The problem is the guard play from Farmar and Sasha, which has gone from a strength to a liability (at times). Case in point: Sasha missing 3 straight wide open 3s while the Lakers are trying to make a comeback.

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  133. We’re running in quicksand and the Mavs are riding rollerskates downhill. Our misses off long jumpers are fueling their fastbreak. If we insist on taking long jumpers, please take them of penetrating the strong side with the pass going to the short corner to Fish. These 3’s (even Kobe’s) from the top of the circle or the FT line extended are the exact looks Dallas wants to force.

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  134. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    133. BCR–actually that last three was contested pretty heavily by either Kobe or Trevor. And I would have to nitpick at PJ a little bit because Powell is totally ineffective against a zone defense. He’s played a full 16 minutes tonight, and if LO comes back and plays the rest of the game, he only will have played 34 minutes in a game in which he’s played well.

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  135. Anyone notice that the “kid” in that NBA Cares commercial was taller than Kobe by at least an inch?

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  136. j. d. hastings March 15, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Pau has 2 shots in the second half.

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  137. Forget Kobe time, it’s Trevor time!!!

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  138. the d ariza is playing on Kidd is outstanding

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  139. Ariza the crunch time player!

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  140. The Lakers defense really frustrates the Mavs when they are all over the ball pressure out high, not letting Kidd or Dirk get to a comfortable spot to pass or shoot. The length drives them nuts. But that effort has been on and off all night. Pressure the ball out high and good things happen.

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  141. i dont know how trevor makes those shots

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  142. Lakers showing some defensive intensity for the first time in a while.

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  143. Ariza on fire this game. And 138, he was open for a three in the corner that he missed; I was referring to that.

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  144. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Stop! Kobe time!

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  145. OK, now it’s Kobe time.

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  146. I hope what happened with the bench in the third quarter doesn’t happen in the playoffs, otherwise that Vlad trade is not going to look pretty.

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  147. I have a weird feeling this is going to OT.

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  148. Good ball denial on Dirk by Pau.

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  149. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    147. If that was the left corner, he was open on the catch but the defender was close enough to him that the ball practically bounced off Terry’s hands after he caught it in order to avoid being blocked.

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  150. NO!!! TACOS!!!

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  151. This Singleton fella is having a very solid game at both ends.

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  152. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    LO, I can forgive you for one brain cramp, but that cross-court pass almost killed me.

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  153. Is Odom drunk or high?

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  154. I do not care what the stats say, Kobe is the BEST clutch player.

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  155. Game over… Not the most enjoyable thing, but we have overcome the Texas triangle.

    Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison should definitely get some burn, if for nothing else, to light up some fire under Farmar and Sasha.

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  156. I’m very surprised at how much the double team took pau out of his game, anyone else think that?

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  157. 156. He is just being Odom

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  158. Well, we saw a blueprint of exactly how to beat the Mavs, and how to lose to them, in one game.

    We’ll see if we need those blueprints in 16 games or not. I’m in the group that says this is a good first round matchup for us if it happens.

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  159. 159. i agree what can we lose my giving them a shot in the last month, our starters are so good is doesnt matter too much what we do until the playoffs

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  160. Gasol, 20 in the first half, 5 in the second.

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  161. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    160. Pau has frequently had trouble with double teams. Remember Perkins and Rondo in the Finals? Arggghhh.

    Anyway, good win tonight. The guys know they can turn it on and beat the Mavs anytime. I hope they end up as the 8th seed. It will be four and out, especially if Drew is back, which reminds me, Kurt any word from the Laker trainer?

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  162. 161. We’d prefer him being his other self; the one that got the Lakers wins in Boston and Cleveland.

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  163. I now have real concerns for our bench. Perhaps there is time for them to get their act together, but not much. We need Andrew to really pull them together. The only one who seems to be playing every game is Powell.

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  164. #158. sT,
    That’s why clutch stats are incomplete. They measure a certain circumstance/situation rather than the game itself. Kobe is like Tiger Woods. It’s not the shot (or putt) that he hits to come from behind, it’s the shot that he makes so the other team (guy) can’t do it to him. Kobe puts more dirt on you right as your hand is reaching out from the ground. There is no one like him.

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  165. ok, I can’t keep this in any longer.
    it’s time to sit Sasha.
    his confidence is gone, and to boot, he’s now getting beat (badly) on D, so that’s gone now too.

    and, we have this guy sitting on the bench, Adam morrison, who can hit the 3, and I think at this point can’t do any worse.

    I know that the team, by signing Sasha for 3 years, is investing in him and PJ doesn’t want to bench someone when they are down, he wants them to play through it, but today, it almost cost us the game.
    that 20 to 2 run happened when sasha came in, not only did he miss at least 3 wide open shots, he’s passing up on others, cause he’s unsure of himself, and, his man was JET, and he left him open for a couple of 3’s in that critical game changing (potentially) run…
    thank God our first unit could outplay theirs so well.
    and thanks again for Trevor, and of course the Kobe and Pau combo, and LO didn’t hurt either.
    but I can’t say that we should keep the faith in sasha any longer. it’s time to sit him.
    let ammo at least have a shot, he couldn’t do any worse.
    sorry, folks, that’s just my humble opinion.

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  166. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    One point to make about our bench in the playoffs: PJ is avoiding playing Trevor heavy minutes in the regular season. I think he’s limiting him to a max of 30. Now that Jordan is healthy again, he’s also usually limiting Fish to around 30-32. That will change in the playoffs due to more rest days and more TV timeouts. He can go a good 34-36 in the postseason, as can Fish. I also think we will have a big rotation of Pau 36, LO 36, and Drew 24, with Drew coming off the bench as an anchor playing in tandem with LO and Pau. I like Josh Powell, but I don’t see him getting a whole lot of minutes if and when Drew comes back healthy.

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  167. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    OK, Michael Cooper has officially gone off the depend…oops I mean deep end. He wants Trevor to revert to his bench role, and start Adam Morrison. Coop, you’re one of my all time favorite Lakers, but this may be why you can’t get a regular stint as an NBA head coach.

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  168. One thing I do not understand is why do fringe players of opposing teams (Singleton, Finley, Wafer, Outlaw, Shelden Williams, Barnes, The birdman, Jared Dudley, Kyle Weaver, Craig Smith, Rasual Butler, Zaza Pachulia, CJ Miles, etc) have their best games against the Lakers while stars of respective teams tend to struggle in general (not always of course)?

    Part of the answer could be:

    1) It’s THE Lakers. Most popular and successful team and everyone has extra motivation
    2) Laker games are on national television more often than other teams and it also is an extra motivation for such fringe players to show their abilities to the world
    3) Lakers usually concentrate on shutting down opponents’ best 2-3 players and let others (fringe players) beat them (Lakers)

    These are all valid explanations I guess and they are significant in their right, but I believe that there is a deeper explanation fro why fringe players have their career best or season best nights against us.

    It’s the bench! Out bench is not concerned with playing defense. They are more fantasy value oriented guys, meaning they want to score as much as possible and outdo their counterparts by just scoring more than them.

    If this is true, than move of Ariza from the second unit to the starting line-up only makes things worse for our back-ups. Now we have no defense whatsoever on the second team with Farmar and Sasha running and gunning, Luke trying to facilitate through triangle and Powell still figuring things out for himself. All of this would be fine the guys played defense and put effort in stopping others. But we all know that is not the case. In fact, as we saw today our bench is still running and gunning but with little offensive success, while their marginal defense got even worse with the subtraction of Ariza.

    Perhaps this could explain what happened to our bench tonight and many other nights (when Ariza was on the second unit) that the backups gave away big leads and made it harder for the starters to come back in, play more and reestablish the lead

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  169. 158 and 168-

    We tend to forget just how many shots that could be like Darius described Kobe misses, if that makes sense.

    A lot of the of shots he takes that have the potential to be back-breaking, but he misses. Although this year, he is shooting 48% in 82games.com’s definition of clutch, so the gap between him and Lebron isn’t that wide.

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  170. I wasn’t worried about the game at all. Our starters owned theirs. They took the lead because they played their 4 of their best 5 (Dirk, Kidd, Terry, Bass, and Singleton) against our bench. Once the starters cam e back, game over.

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  171. *played 4 of their best 5.

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  172. Dude Abides. Got to talk to Bynum himself. No, he did not do PRP.

    Also, he is going to take to the court this week to see how things feel. He’s been running on the treadmill with no problems.

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  173. 160 etc. It was not so much a double team on Pau as they went to a zone to bottle him in. But rather than (as Darius said) have him flash to the high post with someone cutting the baseline, the Lakers passed the ball around the perimeter and took a jumper. The team was confident after all the jumpers that fell in the first half, but when the law of averages caught up things got ugly.

    Fortunately, the starters played good D down the stretch.

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  174. By the way, Walton admitted he was “terrible” and was thankful that the team held on and won despite his play.

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  175. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    176. Thanks for that, Kurt. I kind of got the idea that he didn’t have it when I heard he just started on the treadmill a week ago. It’s too bad he didn’t try it, as PRP is tailor-made for MCL injuries. Whoever is advising him about his rehab gave him bad advice. There is no downside risk for PRP! At worst, it’s ineffective without setting someone back, although it does hurt a lot for a day or two. But the upside? He potentially could have been practicing already, and then playing in a game later this week. Argghhh!

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  176. Seriously? Andrew could have done something that could have had him practicing already and they didn’t do it? Aren’t they paid for this?

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  177. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Today’s game is Sacramento’s best chance at a win vs the East. The BallSACs should have beaten Cleveland a few days ago, but they blew a 14-point lead after three quarters when their Dunleavy-esque sat down Jason Thompson for the first 11:37 of the fourth quarter when the guy had a +30 through three quarters. So, if they lose in Washington, they will be 0-26 vs the East with only @ATL and @CHA on back to back nights, then @NY for the fourth game in six days, and vs PHI for the fifth game in eight days.

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  178. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    180. Matt, it’s an experimental procedure, but a lot of pro athletes have been trying it for the past two years to shorten their recovery times. Hines Ward suffered a Grade 2 injury to his MCL in the AFC Championship game and then had two PRP infusions and got to play in the Super Bowl. He was still not 100%, but he did catch some passes and it was only two weeks after his injury when it normally would have been four to five weeks. Andrew had a Grade 3 injury to his MCL, so they figured 8-12 weeks. I think if he had PRP, he could have cut it to 5-8 weeks, with the worst-case scenario being the original prognosis.

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  179. what’s PRP?

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  180. PeanutButterSpread March 15, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Drew said in an interview with sports central that he can move forward, backward, etc without pain, but when he moves laterally, there is still some discomfort, especially if he wants to move laterally quickly. He’s just going to keep rehabbing the knee and working on the treadmill.

    He says he wants to be back in two weeks. He seemed to be in good spirits during the interview.

    I hope he can make it.

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  181. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    183. Platelet-rich plasma therapy…I think I messed up before and called it plasma-rich platelet therapy. Here’s the NY Times article on it:
    http://tinyurl.com/arxgtq

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  182. 181 –

    PRP = Platelete Rich Therapy

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  183. Is there any good reason this wasn’t done on Andrew then? it sounds like a win-win, sort of. Either he is back at the original projected time, or he is back much sooner.

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  184. I hope sasha continue to struggle throughout the playoffs so ariza gets more burn. I dont want to see sasha on during crunch time period.

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  185. yusuf, I’m with you with regard to sasha, (see my comment #169) I thought I’d at least get some discussion on the subject of trying out Adam morrison rather than sahsa, but no response. i guess you and me are the only ones not digging the machines act these days

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  186. I just took a look at Miami HEAT’s current roster and the Lakers roster in 2005-2006 and 2006-07 seasons on 82games. Both rosters suck but I’d rather have the players Wade has than who Kobe had.

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  187. Just when you get sick of our team losing, we pull out this magical string of wins (albeit not always pretty, and with heavy dosage of Kobe).

    Maybe it’s the media hammering at Kobe having 12 ‘long’ years, or maybe it’s him approaching 30, or about the media hyping LBJ, but for some reason I can’t stop thinking of post-Kobe this season. Bleak Bleak Bleak.

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  188. The Dude Abides March 15, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    188. Sasha backs up Kobe, and Luke backs up Trevor. So if Sasha struggles, that just means Kobe plays more, which isn’t a really bad thing in the playoffs with more days off, less travel, and more TV timeouts.

    189. Ammo can’t play defense at all, and he still isn’t all the way back from his torn ACL. So, if he were to replace Sasha, then he would have to defend the opposition’s two guard…and that would not be a pretty sight.

    Simply put, I think Sasha will get over his slump once Andrew comes back and gets worked in with the second unit. Jordan and Sasha will get the orders from Phil to pound the ball down low to Andrew on every possession because he’ll be facing the other team’s backup center. Can you imagine what a matchup nightmare that will be? He’ll either destroy the other team’s backup big in single coverage, or we will get wide-open looks for our shooters if they double Andrew.

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  189. Isn’t Ammo basically what Sasha is? Someone who needs to shoot really well to be contributing, but has not shot it that well?

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  190. I didn’t see most of the 20-2 run by the Mavs, how much of that was by the starters vs the LA bench? I’ve noticed that in a few games that I’ve seen lately. I don’t know if it’s the “beat LA” mentality or what, but that does seem to be asking a lot of your bench to handle 1-2 of the opposing stars and still protect a lead.

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  191. matt, I guess that’s my point, if Sasha his gone cold, and I don’t mean just a few games, but almost the whole season and now is really forcing it, then why not try another shooter in Ammo?
    Dude, at least it would be the bench’s 2 guard he’d have to guard, so not quite as problematic.
    imagine Ammo getting hot and starting to average 10 to 14 pts a night, (what we may have gotten from an ‘in grove’ sasha). then maybe we have to ride that train for a while.

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  192. Dude Abides,

    I don’t think the Lakers will risk Andrew’s rehabilitation with an “experimental procedure.” There’s no need to rush things. There’s too much invested in him for years to come.

    Hines Ward doing it is a completely different situation. It was for the Super Bowl, the last game if the season, with time to rehab later with proper surgery. Plus, it was probably Hines’ call, since there are no guaranteed contracts in football.

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  193. Sasha right now continues to try to shoot on the move more, off the dribble, rather than the spot up he is known for, and that now seems to be impacting everything he is doing. I think at some point the switch will flip for him again.

    Sasha is at least a pesky defender and knows the offense. Ammo is not shooting well, is a much slower defender, could never guard twos, and doesn’t know the offense. It is not time yet.

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  194. No way Adam Morrison should get any quality minutes. We have a Championship caliber squad. In no circumstances should you play a 2nd year player working to shed the “bust” label (who also has NEVER been in this situation in his pro career) play down the stretch of a run at the Trophy.

    Unless injury forces him to play.

    Sasha is slumping, but what I really hate is his eagerness to hound ball handlers, and pick up cheap fouls, or press too hard and get beat off the dribble. What is the point in harassing Jason Kidd? It was pointless.

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  195. Sasha is fine. He’s in a slump right now. He played well in Farmar absence and hasn’t regained that consistency since Farmar returned. I think Sasha will find his groove. Hopefully. I don’t think Morrison will see any substantial minutes this season, probably because of his knee injury. Shannon Brown seems more like a possibility because of his defense.

    However, I can’t wait to see Adam Morrison next year. I’m probably the only one excited for him to see game action. I don’t know if he’ll be a Laker but I hope so. He may be able to thrive in this system.

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  196. Not so sure if Ammo knows where to be in the triangle, nor am I sure if players who were duds in previous teams simply blossom automatically once they get here.

    Very sure, however, that the Lakers have a good idea of what each of their players can do as they see each other in practice.

    Sad to conclude then, that as cold as Sasha may be now, Ammo will be even worse.

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