Preview & Chat: The Philadelphia 76ers

Kurt —  March 17, 2009


Records: Lakers 53-13 (1st in the West) 76ers 33-31 (6th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.8 (1st in league) 76ers 106.3 (23rd in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (6th in league) 76ers 105.6 (6th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
76ers Andre Miller, Willie Green (appropriate guy to start today), Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Samuel Dalembert

The Lakers coming in: Lest you think only you noticed this, early in his post game press conference after the Dallas game, Phil Jackson talked about how the Lakers have lost the killer instinct they had earlier in the season, when they got up by 15 and buried teams.

The players kind of shrugged that off at practice Monday. I personally think this is really a matter of boredom and focus, plus the injury to Bynum weakening the rotations. The Lakers keep winning, and while they get up for the challenges — back-to-backs in Houston and San Antonio — they get up by 15 early on Dallas and they just kind of start going through the motions.

But now is the time to start changing that, to start getting focused, because if it is Dallas in the first round they may not be so lucky to come back and win those games.

The 76ers Coming In: This is the first game of a six-game West Coast swing for the Sixers, who come in with a three game winning streak. The swing is a tough test, but it’s a chance for a team that is just missing that little something to pull together before the playoffs. They likely will get Orlando in the first round, and that is a tough task but not an impossible one (after the Nelson injury).

That little thing the Sixers lack, by the way, is any kind of consistent outside shooter. Nobody on the team stretches the floor. They are sort of like Utah of three years ago that way.

I have always loved Andre Miller’s game, he is a classic PG who can pass, penetrate and play solid defense. And he is playing well — scoring 18 a game while shooting 54% and dishing out 8 assists per game the last 10. Of course, the other guy to watch is Iguodala, who leads he team in scoring, slashes to the hole as well as anyone and gets them both assists and rebounds. Plus, he is the only guy to fear from three on this team, shooting 36.4% in the last 10 games from deep.

Keys To The Game: My one word of advice — don’t drink green beer tonight. Green eggs and ham I could see, but beer? No.

If there was one game where the Lakers pack-the-paint style of defense should work, it is this one — the 76ers are the worst three point shooting team in the NBA, hitting just 31.5% of their attempts. What they do have is an athletic front line, but if you can keep them out of the paint and shooting jumpers, they struggle. (That said, the Lakers need to be ready to adjust, Donyell Marshall got hot from three in their last game against the Heat and it changed everything.)

On defense, the Sixers are about gambling and forcing turnovers, which leads to easy buckets going the other way with all the athletic guys they have that can fill the lanes. The Lakers have to take care of the ball — I’m looking at you Farmar and Sasha.

Also, the Sixers do play some zone, and after the disaster against Dallas, you can be sure they will pull it out tonight. Darius talked about how to attack that:

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.

One other lesson needs to be learned from the Dallas game — when the zone came out the Lakers became a jump shooting team, and that fueled some transition baskets for the Mavs. The Sixers are very good in the open court and would love some long rebounds and chances to run. Just another reason to make sure the ball gets inside early and often. Second unit, I’m looking at you. Again.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start at Staples, on Fox Sports in LA, if you’re already not too drunk on St. Patrick’s Day. And if you are, don’t drive (insert your own Norm Nixon joke here, if you want).


319 responses to Preview & Chat: The Philadelphia 76ers

  1. love the picture, Kurt.

    So if Philly could go back in time, what would they do with the $ they saved by not signing Elton Brand?

    Beware the big stats guy who’s never been on a winner.

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  2. I wonder if they regret letting Korver go to Utah – solving the Jazz’s 3pt problem and creating theirs.

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  3. Ariza v. Thaddeus Young-should be the funnest matchup of the night. Two high flyers. Young has been arguably the Sixers best player this year, and he probably isn’t even able to legally buy a st. patty’s day brew.

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  4. Random, and with no chance of leading to a discussion, but I must ask – does anyone else feel a little sorry for Adam Morrison? The guy, if I remember correctly, was fiery in college, played with a lot of passion and spirit. I don’t think I’ve seen more than 1 facial expression (“glum”) since he joined the Lakers, even while he was breaking up the Mbenga – Mihm fight. I remember reading about his diabetes, hope he’s handling that OK and that hasn’t affected him at all (any more than it did in college).

    Zephid had a great post in the last thread, as the season winds down I’ll be looking for more of those effort plays (everyone rebounding, etc.).

    Also, I think some people made the comment that Kobe is a horrible off-ball defender. That has 2 sides to it – Kobe is an excellent help defender, almost Pippen-esque. But his recovery is horrible. So against a complete non-shooter, it’s actually worth it to have Kobe roam a bit. The problem is Kobe doesn’t adjust well. When someone like Ronnie Brewer gets hot, Kobe waits for him to cool off rather than sticking with him. That’s when Kobe’s D gets frustrating. Kobe as a roamer has its uses in certain situations, I just think Phil uses it a bit too much. Jeff Van Gundy had a rare insightful line on Sunday – he said Kobe is one of the best “one-possession defenders” in the game. I think that’s perfectly accurate. Kobe, when locked in, is incredible. But he doesn’t lock in unless he’s playing against Lebron and maybe Pierce. And the thing is, this year Kobe could afford to do that. The offense runs much smoother through Pau than through Kobe; he could afford to expend that energy on the defensive end.

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  5. Snoopy,
    I think Morrison has had problems adjusting to who he is as a pro. He was an elite college player who could score at will and now does not have that same role in the pros. Add to the fact that he was a high lottery pick and was drafted to continue doing what he was doing in college (without the skill to actually accomplish it) and I think he needs to find a role that really does suit him. Contrast him to JJ Redick, who was also a prolific scorer in college, but was drafted later and was always only asked to be a role player (and even Redick just recently started to get meaninful minutes). It really is going to take an adjustment from Ammo. I hope he makes it. I always feel bad for guys that are labled *busts* and hope for their redemption.

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  6. #1

    Sign a pair of wings who can shoot the three (I’m guessing there were a few available, like Ben Gordon, JR Smith, Sasha, Navarro, Mason, etc) or traded for a top 2-guard talent.

    Now it appears their best lineup has Thaddeus, Dalembert, and Speights as their bigs, and they are starting Willie Green at the 2!!! Seriously?

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  7. Darius – And on top of being a #3 pick, just because of his scoring ability + race + length, he was compared to Larry Bird. Talk about expectations.

    Well the last so-called ‘bust’ we had didn’t exactly blossom here. But Phil did manage to find a role for Kwame (as a defensive backstop) and he filled that role fairly well. If anyone can help Morrison adjust, it’s Phil.

    Craig – Very true, and not only did they let their best 3-point shooter go, but if I remember correctly, with Korver they wouldn’t have had the cap space to make that colossal Brand mistake.

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  8. Actually Jeff VanGundy said Kobe is one of the best “one-possession defenders” in the HISTORY OF THE game.

    Since I had the game recorded, I went back and watched it again and made sure. He is really impressed with Kobe when Kobe is focused. I suspect that ability, when focused, is one reason he is so critical of Kobe when he makes mistakes.

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  9. It is really nice that we have a general manager who thinks twice before he acts once. If I remember correctly, us fans had Mitch buried up to his neck in the dirt and we were arguing which of us would be able to charge at him on a horse, with our long lance.

    How time changes things. Sometimes the best thing in the world is not to get your wish.

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  10. Not to dwell on Morrison, and I realize this will come as blasphemy to many given this month’s NCAA tournament, but we need to keep in mind that success at the college level doesn’t equate to success as pro.

    Everyone’s saying, “No s–t,” as they read that, but think about how many times we’ve seen a first team All-American who has simply fizzled as a pro, or a guy who got hot in March and was suddenly thrust into the lottery?

    (Morrison, Reddick, Oden, Wally World to the T’Wolves, and on and on. Georgetown’s Reggie Williams was amazing in college and never did much as a pro. Just ask the Clippers.)

    Or on the flip side, how often do we see the guy who came from a small school and went deep in the draft or even was undrafted yet went on to be a star?

    (Ben Wallace, Oakley, Starks, Pippen, or Bruce Bowen, who I saw play often in college and would never have suggested he had any future as a pro in his future.)

    Too often a college system fuels a college player’s success, which is partly why there have been so few good pros to come from Duke relative to the number of great college players there. Then you get the Dick Vitales of the world spouting off on how great a player so-and-so is, the hype machine fires up and players find themselves in the NBA with much greater expectations than they could ever meet.

    Jordan is Elgin Baylor-like as an awful G.M., and he totally bought the hype when it came time to pick Morrison so high. (He also flubbed on the can’t miss high school star, Kwame Brown.) But it’s not just Jordan who makes that mistake. There are a lot of GMs who fall for the March Madness and end up screwing over their pro teams come draft night.

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  11. Andre Miller has to be on top 5 underrated NBA list right now. It’s too bad he’s wasting on a team that overpaid a career underacheiver 3 years past his prime that didn’t fit their system.

    4 – Way to get a shot in, Snoopy. “rare insightful”, I like that. Although, I actually agree with JVG a lot. In that game he also said whole 2nd unit have play poorly this year, sans Powell. He said he’s the only bench player that gives consisent effort and I agree.

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  12. 8 – True, but JVG and Mark Jackson make outlandish comments all the time. Their ‘commentator’ mode places an emphasis on hyperbole and shock appeal and sound bytes over real analysis. I still can’t get over Mark Jackson calling Pau’s release a picture-perfect release. Even despite my mad man-crush on Pau, I find that laughable.

    I agree on the second point. For anyone who has forgotten the vitriol pointed the front office’s way, here’s a reminder:
    http://www.firemitchkupchak.com/2007/05/people-of-los-angeles-v-mitchell.html

    It really goes to show – Laker fans might be the most spoiled/impatient in all of sports. I remember when I, too, was sick of being a first-round exit. Really, a 3-4 year window between contention is an amazing feat. Very few teams even reach this point more than once, and the Lakers have stayed at this level for longer than any team.

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  13. 11-I thouhgt JVG didn’t explain his comment well. Our bench was great when Drew was starting and Odom and Ariza came off the bench. We lost Vlade, guys got hurt and the bench has lost confidence. Post all-star break the comment is appropriate, but pre-break the bench was really good.

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  14. Snoopy – despite Morrison struggling in the NBA, I think his attitude is still in the right place. Despite his “glum” interviews and lack of charisma off the court, he always seems to be the first one cheering and waving a towel on the bench during timeouts. That to me signals an engagement with the overall team concept we’re building, instead of letting his recent struggles bog him down.

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  15. I’m not really keen enough on basketball stats, strategy or insider info to be sacreligious and say Kobe’s defense is not good or overrated but what I can say is, that from what I’ve seen, his defense diverges on more than a few occasions from a few basic tenants of good defense; keep your eye on the ball, don’t lose sight of your man, hustle back on defense (instead of arguing about a none-call), don’t pressure 35 ft from the basket, don’t foul 35 ft from the basket, etc. Defense in my estimation is all about effort and consistency; you can’t have mental lapses or take plays off if you want to be considered a great defender. In the end, defense is not about impressive blocks on Yao Ming or one possession of in your face perimeter defense; it’s more yeomanship than showmanship. I think Kobe is more the latter than the former. And unfortunately, I think the team takes on that personality.

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  16. Kobe should be more patient before he strats to roam. Why let a guy like Brewer, just finished with warm ups, get two or three open looks? You are asking for him to get a good start. Also, if he stuck to his man more, his jumping into the passing lanes might have more suprise value.

    On the other hand, maybe he is doing exactly what the coaching staff wants.

    Morrison looks as stiff as a middle-age man. Kobe does Pilates I have heard.

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  17. Not only does Morrison have to adjust to the fact that he is simply not the same pro player as he was a college player, he is also coming back from a really serious knee injury.

    Its not always easy comparing a players college career with how they will be in the NBA. Morrison is an example. Tyler Hansborough I think will be another. Fantastic college player but I don’t think he will be a great pro player (but he will not be going in the lottery).

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  18. 13 – I’ll buy all of that except the effort part. I think the effort part is absolutely true. And I’ll admit my man crush on Powell.

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  19. 15 – “the team takes on that personality.”

    Very true. Let’s not forget that earlier in the year Kobe, Ariza, Farmar, and someone else (Lamar?) had a running bet to see who could get the most steals. Gambling is rarely the staple of a great or even solid defense (see: Spurs of the last decade, or 08 Celtics, or JVG-coached teams). My philosophy is that great defense comes from tough, fundamental, stay in front of your man D.

    Kobe’s flaw is that he’s so good, sometimes his talent clouds his judgment. And his gambling defensive attitude has definitely spread to the rest of the team.

    14 – You’re right, I do think he’s a good teammate. lol I was just pointing even when he’s waving a towel, his face is expressionless. It’s like he lost his soul. I love the guy, though, and really do hope he can find a niche with this team. Until he can shore up his defensive deficiencies, though, I don’t see a lot of PT for Ammo.

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  20. Before Bynum was hurt they could go most of the game with at least two of Kobe, Pau, Lamar or Andrew on the court at the same time.

    Now, with say, Pau and four subs, it’s a whole other game. Farmar and Sasha can’t throw a decent entry pass into the post and the triangle looks like some guys floating in the ocean with life rafts.

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  21. PeanutButterSpread March 17, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Wow.

    The way y’all are going on about Kobe, you guys might as well join the Smushcalade’s own rant about how Kobe brings doom to the Lakers: “The problems with that team start with him and end with him.”

    http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2009/03/16/kb-no-24-was-the-problem-uh-sure/13449/

    I don’t think Kobe’s roaming defense sets a precedent for the rest of the team.

    I thought yesterday’s “let up” wasn’t due to bad defense, it was due to bad lazy craptastic offense.

    As for other games, yes, Kobe has a tendency to roam, sometimes it bites him in the butt at the end, other times it doesn’t. Like I said in the other post, the Lakers usually do a good job when it comes to shutting down other team’s star players.

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  22. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    21. Jim Rome did a hilarious takedown of Smush in the first five minutes of Rome is Burning this afternoon. Romy said that luckily for Smush, Kobe can’t retaliate on the court for those comments because Kobe’s team isn’t going to be playing Guangdong anytime soon.

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  23. Random point about the MVP race: Last year it seems Kobe won it after beating NO and wrapping up the 1 seed in the West. Do people think that had the Lakers got that win they got in Cleveland in the last few weeks of the season, Kobe would be a more viable MVP candidate.

    I feel the buzz of that win, and the Laker’s (and Kobe’s) 2-0 record against the Cavs (and Lebron) has subsided and preconceived notions about annointing LBJ King-MVP have re-emerged.

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  24. I hate it when Kobe roams as well. Even if it is the strategy. The rest of the guys don’t protect the rim when he does roam and let’s his man go back door. Ronnie Brewer can’t score if it’s not at the rim, and Nicolas Batum can only score the same way. Neither can shoot, so why give up those easy buckets, when each team only has one player who can create any shot he needs to (dron and Roy, respectively)? Stay at home. Let them work.

    What I really hate to see is when the 2nd Unit decides to let leads slip because they want to run up and down the floor like the Warriors.

    I think we had 3-4 possessions in a row against the Mavs where both team weren’t scoring, but each team was running and gunning with no structure. It ended with a Terry 3, and cemented a run in which Dallas started to take the lead.

    Overall, I think our defense is fine, but this will be a game that we will need to stay disciplined. Andre Miller had a lot of success penetrating last time. We need to see fast feet and good help rotations.

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  25. 23- I’ve heard more than one person this week saying that Kobe is MVP because the Lakers beat the Cavs twice. Nevermind that Kobe had relatively quiet games. Last year the consensus was whoever got the first seed in the west. Maybe this year it’s the best record in the league.

    I think Adam Morrison’s paycheck makes his suffering a lot easier to handle.

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  26. I can’t believe I just saw Sumsh Parker trash Kobe Bryant. No words…

    Kwame, I’m still surprised our boy ever won ONE! D-Wade just made huge leap in the conversation for doing what Kobe lost for in 06 & 07. I’m sure that’s the only one he’ll ever see. You can put LBJ down for 4 right now. There’s nothing Kobe can do. He’ll be 3rd this year.

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  27. If memory serves, wasn’t it in the immediate aftermath of two years of Smush as Laker’s point guard that Kobe demanded to be traded?

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  28. Kwame,

    Dwyane Wade is hurting Kobe’s MVP candidacy more than anything. He is going to take some votes from Kobe. Not LBJ. Unfortunately.

    I still think it’s LBJ’s to lose, but he hasn’t been MVP good in the big games this year. Kobe has. Dwyane Wade shouldn’t matter. If Kobe’s 05-06 didn’t, nor LBJ from last year.

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  29. Norm Nixon may be a no-show for tonight’s pregame show, TMZ is reporting that he got pulled over for DUI last night.

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  30. Kobe committed the one unforgivable crime – he didn’t talk to the media, but he worked on his game instead – and for that he will never be forgiven by the ‘talking heads’.

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  31. 26/28- Wade is having a really great year. I also think CP3 is having a great year. I really don’t think you can go wrong with Kobe or LBJ, I’m just always amused at how the criteria is changed to fit who the voters want to give it to. Regardless, what a time to be an NBA fan right? Kobe, LBJ, D Wade, CP3, TD and TP, Boston’s Big 3, Dirk, Yao, Howard, Durant, Roy. Golden Age.

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  32. where can you find these stats? thanks

    “Cleveland Cavaliers: 53-13, 89.1 possessions per game (25th), 112.2 points scored per 100 possessions (4th), 102.1 points allowed per 100 possessions (2nd). “

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  33. 32. I pull my stuff off of http://www.basketball-reference.com, but other sites as well such as 82games.com, basetballvalues.com and more have the info.

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  34. Who cares about MVP? It’s a popularity contest.

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  35. Kobe has always focused on the trophy. It is we fans who worry that ‘our guys’ aren’t getting enough credit. There is another player, who isn’t talked about much, except by us old foggies, and he also didn’t get much credit in his day — Wilt Chamberlain. We all know his name, but we really don’t give him his due. During the time he was making headlines the basketball purists were all saying the really good player was Bill Russell. Well Russell won the rings (sound familiar) and he had clearly the best talent around him (sound familiar again), but that in no way disparages Wilt’s accomplishments. Oh, and Wilt wasn’t always nice to the media people (sound familiar again). This stuff never changes.

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  36. I’m glad Kobe won the MVP last year. Before last year, I never thought he would win after Colorado and the Shaq exodus – even though 05-06 was a simply exquisite individual year for him. Now that he has one, I wish the talking heads would spin the argument that he should win again based on the fact that he’s been the best player in the game for arguably the last 6+ years and how can he only have one? LBJ will have plenty of other years to win (and likely will finish with more than our own KB24), but I would say that Kobe has continued to carry this team (as he did in the Olympics) and that we’ve had a much brighter target on our team’s backs after last year’s finish. We’re on track to win in the neighborhood of 64-66 games and and this won’t be good enough for another MVP? He’s taken the same team from last year (with Pau for all of it) and will lead us to more wins. I just don’t get it. I’d love to see the MAN cap off another MVP season with the only award that matters – the Larry O’Brien trophy. Also another MVP would place him in rarer company. Jeez, Dirk has one, TD has two – how can Kobe not have two???

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  37. Kwame, Golden Age is right. And the Lakers should be in the mix for a while! Regardless of what Lebron does next year (or whenever after that), his team will be a contender every year for the next decade. OKC is a couple years away from being what Portland is now. Portland is trying to get where we are now, while we are trying to three-peat or something crazy…well, we have aspirations.

    I hope to see a lot of the other young players find a place in the league as well. The Jared Dudleys of the league. But overall, things are very promising.

    As for the Kobe discussion, he does fuel the morale of the team. That is unquestionable. When it comes to the playoffs, his defensive intensity will be up. I at least like to think it is what he’s “been conserving” for. He’s in his 13rd year now, we know how much mileage he’s got. What I still think is the biggest problem is the focus and discipline. Someone mentioned earlier about Sasha bodying up on Chris Paul rather than using his length. That’s the kind of thing I see being our biggest problem – lack of focus and discipline. I am not saying it is Kobe that is disciplined more than anyone else, but I do think that we make some bone-headed plays sometimes.

    But we are working out the kinks. I think we’ll be ready.

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  38. I care about the MVP – and I hope Kobe doesn’t get it. I think it will be better for the team to have a pissed off Kobe locked in on getting the championship and, should the Lakers meet the Cavs, focused on taking LBJ out.

    As for who is actually the MVP, I think it’s LBJ. Kobe *could* get the stats that Lebron gets in LBJ’s system, and Kobe is still probably a better player than LBJ, but in fact, LBJ is actually doing more for his team than Kobe has to. Which is a good thing. I would rather the Lakers be a more balanced team with multiple weapons that goes all the way than to have Kobe win MVP carrying a bad team.

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  39. Just finished my bracket (Kurt already has a shirt) and I’m going with UConn over Gonzaga for the title.

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  40. Oh, and here’s a little inspiration for everybody today:

    http://slamonline.com/online/nba/2009/03/got-trophies/

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  41. LeBron deserves the MVP in my opinion (although I still think Kobe is the better player). He has to be spectacular almost every night for the Cavs to succeed, and he usually is. Considering the talent level on that squad, the fact that they are battling the Lakers for the best record is really impressive, and a testament to how good LeBron is (as well as how well they defend and rebound).

    Even if you don’t agree with LeBron winning it, at least we won’t have a repeat of the 2004/5 and 2005/6 debacles. Steve Nash, 2-time MVP. Yikes. That is going to confound NBA historians 20 years from now.

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  42. 41-I’m fine with LBJ winning, but I don’t buy the argument that he is leading a band of scrubs. His team is constructed to maximize his skill-set. They have put shooters and defenders all around him. Ilgauskus is a top 10 center in the league, Mo WIlliams is an all-star guard, he has shooters like Pavlovich, Gibson and West and nasty defenders like B.Wallace and Varajeo. I think the way people look at supporting casts is skewed by how many 20pt scorers a team has. The Cavs have a huge, fairly deep team with an abundance of 3pt shooters that are perfect for LBJ’s drive and kick game.

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  43. I think Lebron probably deserves the MVP, and since I supported Kobe in 2006, I’d be happy if Wade won. I’d also be happy if Kobe won, though it would still feel like a make up for past years. Overall, I agree with Apricott. I wouldn’t mind having kobe pissed going into the Finals against the Cavs (knock on wood).

    I do think its a misnomer to say that Lebron gets less help though. The Cavs have a weird lineup, but they are definitely deep. Pavlovic, Gibson, Verejao/Smith, and Szerbiak have all been starters prior to their current bench role and all of them contribute something. Mo Williams, West and Big Z have also all been big contributors. That Lebron still dwarfs what they bring is just a testiment to his awesomeness.

    Even in years past, his teammates may not have been great offensively, but the fact that the team was so great defensively allowed them to be so one dimensional on offense, like AI’s philly teams.

    Kobe didn’t have that in 2006-2007, which is why I think those are 2 of the few times I’ve really seen 1 non-bigman carry a team into the postseason (apologies to LO).

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  44. 42

    They aren’t scrubs, but they are fairly limited as championship contenders go. You expect a 60-win team to have solid role players, good shooters, depth, quality bigs, and a style to complement the skills of the superstar. The difference is, most of them also have at least one other star (and sometimes two) in addition to the superstar. And when I say ‘star’ I’m talking about guys like Parker, Ginobili, Gasol, KG, Allen, and Stoudemire, not Mo Williams or Big Z.

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  45. The one thing I don’t understand about this MVP debate is that the media’s prevalent argument seems to be that LeBron has led his team to the same record as the Lakers, both of whom sit at the top of their conferences, but LeBron is averaging better statistics and playing with less talented teammates. It seems like they don’t even consider that Kobe and the Lakers have to play the likes of San Antonio, Utah, Houston, etc. multiple times a year while LeBron gets to beat up on the Bulls, Bucks, Pacers, Knicks, Nets, etc. night after night. They always talk about what would theoretically happen if you put Kobe with those scrubs and put LeBron on the Lakers with Pau, Odom, Bynum, et al, but by the same token I think they ought to consider that if the Cavs played in the West they would definitely have at least a few more losses than they do right now, while if the Lakers played in the East it’s pretty likely they’d have a better record or at the very least the same record. At the end of the day, while the Lakers and the Cavs have identical records, the Lakers are playing in a much tougher conference and I think that should count for something in this MVP debate.

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  46. Hey people!!! Better ease up on who you call scrubs. Different teams win in different ways. Detroit in 04. Chicago’s first ring. It is how the makeup of a team fits together and comes together that makes them champions. If Lebron’s team wins are we going to continue to call them scrubs? How about the Lakers last year? We were picked for 8-10th place in the west by the “experts”.

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  47. #44 – I’m Tony Reali (sp?) and you get +3 for that one!!!

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  48. I don’t recall any player being called a ‘scrub’ in this chat…

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  49. orlando and cleveland going down the wire. not so concerned about the lakers game tonight and that gets me concerned. another must-win we can do in dominating fashion. i hope to see some semblance of playoff chemistry and discipline on both ends we’ve been waiting for and philly is one of those teams we can start this surge.

    i hope trevor ignites and goes hot tonight. i like when this guy makes it big…well okay, same is true for other lakers but i digress. lamar also should pick it up especially when this becomes a blow-out. GO LAKERS!

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  50. Interesting stat that I saw on LG that supports both the idea that Kobe makes his teammates better and that Sasha needs to play with Kobe to be effective. Looking at the minutes Sasha has played this season versus last season:

    57.5% w/Kobe last year.

    27.6% w/Kobe this year.

    Thats quite telling

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  51. Regarding the MVP race, I’m surprised this year there isn’t the token talk about who makes the players around them better. That was the selling point for Nash, and the reason Kobe was denied so many times despite being the world’s best player. This year people are arguing Wade for single-handedly dominating and winning games, or LBJ’s efficiency, or the Lakers winning.

    To me, Wade, LeBron, CP3, and Kobe are equal in terms of statistics, a few more rebounds or half a steal more a game doesn’t mean much, especially with different team systems, so that cannot be the deciding factor. The team’s success has to be the crucial factor, which leaves LBJ and Kobe. Then, if we look at the players around them, Kobe has stepped it up with the absence of Bynum, mastered the game’s intangibles like rhythm and flow, putting his imprint on games stats cannot measure and only purists can appreciate watching him effortlessly shift crucial game momentum with an acute sense for the game. LBJ may have better stats and efficiency, but the fact that they have essentially the same team as years past except for Mo Williams seems to make case that Mo rather than LeBron was key in the team’s improvement. In fact, I think it damages LeBron’s prospects, along with the fact, as mentioned, that his team has a much easier schedule.

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  52. I can’t believe turkoglu passes up a rolling dwight howard to the rim every single time in favor for a kickout to a covered and ice-cold rashard lewis. get the man the damn ball!

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  53. “In fact, I think it damages LeBron’s prospects, along with the fact, as mentioned, that his team has a much easier schedule.”

    Really? I think the award is his to lose really. After inventing all manner of reasons not to give it to Kobe over the years, I can’t imagine the media moving him ahead of LeBron at this point.

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  54. Speaking of LeBron, Cleveland’s commentators are pretty annoying to listen to.

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  55. This year is really LeBron’s to lose. I don’t think Wade makes any major noise in this MVP race unless Miami goes berserk over the last couple weeks and finishes with 50 wins (which means going 14-2 for the rest of the season, with two games against Boston the road, Atlanta on the road, Orlando at home, and two games against Detroit). I always thought that for Kobe to have a chance for MVP this year, the Lakers would have to get the runaway best record in the NBA and Cleveland would have to lose to Boston for HCA. As it’s looking like Cleveland will win the East, I think the MVP argument is a bit moot right now; Kobe doesn’t really want it either.

    As for the bench, the comment above about always having two of Kobe, Odom, Gasol, or Bynum with the bench is pretty salient. It’s easier for players to find their roles in that situation, so we don’t have Farmar attempting one-man breaks or Vujacic trying to score on a fadeaway off the dribble.

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  56. Also, great article on Ammo:

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakers-morrison17-2009mar17,0,899246.story

    Phil’s comments to Ammo are particularly telling; it’s a testament to the difference between his coaching style and say Larry Brown, who is notoriously demanding. I think come next year, Ammo will get more chances to prove himself. If he doesn’t, well then he’s an expiring $5 million contract. Win-win either way.

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  57. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Well, if our guys play the Craboliers in the Finals, I sure hope we don’t draw the same officiating crew as tonight’s game between CLE and ORL. Some major, major homer calls in the final 30 seconds of the game. ORL down two and the refs call three seconds on Howard with 30 seconds to go. First 3-second call the entire game against either team. Then with 8 seconds left, Lebron does an up fake from 22 feet, gets his defender to flinch and only slightly leave his feet, then LBJ moves slightly FORWARD into the defender to draw a slight bump and immediately falls AWAY after the contact and goes up for his shot, and gets awarded two FTs after the air ball. A terrible, terrible call. He wasn’t even in his shooting motion when he drew the slight contact.

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  58. Cleveland’s Strength of Schedule is .494, ours is .501, so not a massive chasm between us, but our schedule has been tougher.

    Also, the team with the most wins thing doesn’t work for me, especially this year. Chances are, whoever gets the best record will only be ahead of the other team by a few games at the most.

    To me, LeBron, Wade, or CP3 are MVP. Kobe is a top player in the league, but I always interpreted the award as the literal Most Valuable Player. Those three are more vital to their team’s performance than Kobe, in my opinion. Not necessarily because the other players are worse, but because the other players are relying on them to score and create. You can make the argument our offense runs better through Pau, not Kobe.

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  59. 53 – I was making my case for Kobe. Just because the media decides one way doesn’t make it the best decision. (wow, sounds so obvious when said)

    56 thanks for the article. I’ve always enjoyed reading about PJ’s coaching style.

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  60. Talking about the MVP is sort of silly. Last year the media painted themselves into a corner when the thought NO would beat out the Lakers for the top spot (we were picked to finish 8-10) and said the man on the team with the best record would win it.

    They are not going to paint themselves into that corner again this year.

    The MVP is for Lebron or Wade to lose, at this point.

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  61. Percentage points behind the Cavs. The sky is falling!

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  62. Man, the Celtics are getting hammered by injuries. Powe hurt his knee a few minutes into the game, and Rondo just went to the locker room after rolling his ankle.

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  63. #45,

    Right on. The East only has 3 good teams. The rest aren’t any good.

    Plus, I just find it so funny how Kobe just has so much of a better team, when just before last season (minus Pau and Fish), these same guys were picked to be 7-9th in the West. Meanwhile LBJ went to the Finals the summer before, and now Kobe has all of the talent to play with?

    Just as ridiculous, is John Hollinger claiming CP3 is on par with Magic, then defending that claim in his chat that Magic had great teammates. Really? Magic won championships in high school, college, and 5 in the pros. His teams won because of him.

    People see what they want. Kobe’s accomplishments will speak for themselves.

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  64. Any links for the game?

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  65. Hey did everyone go and vote for Kobe on NBA.com for who we think deserves the MVP?

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  66. 63

    I don’t see what ESPN’s preseason predictions have to do with whether or not Kobe’s team is more talented than LeBron’s.

    Also, I would say replacing Kwame and Smush with Pau and Fish is a pretty significant upgrade, wouldn’t you?

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  67. 62-

    I won’t even go into theCP3-Magic thing.

    As for the teammates thing, Pau and Fish are rather large additions, aren’t they? Plus, Andrew’s development into a reliable scorer in the post was not expecte to hapeen so rapidly.

    And LeBron is widely hailed as having dragged a crew of average guys to the finals that year. That roster was truly bad. Larry Hughes was second in minutes played.

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  68. Here’s a link:

    atdhe.net/live-tv-5164.html

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  69. Maybe this has already been mentioned. When Stu and Joel do their on-court pre-game chat, and Joel turns his head and peers up at old # 22, Mr. Meyers reminds me of Franklin the Turtle.

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  70. @wondahbap, Hollinger drives me up a wall sometimes. I also occasionally think that he’s using some of that George W. Bush fuzzy math…

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  71. Thanks, Darius.

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  72. @ NIck the Great
    I agree I sometimes wonder if even care about basketball or just about creating off the wall stats that can not be measured like the NFLs Quarterback rating

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  73. 70

    Hollinger can’t help it. If his PER tells him Chris Paul is Magic’s heir apparent, then it must be true.

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  74. I can’t get over the fact that Magic is shilling for casinos now. You’re better than that, Magic!

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  75. With the surrounding cast that Kobe has and the expectations placed on him, what does Kobe have to do to win the MVP???

    I’ll say this: he for sure isn’t winning if the Lakers don’t get best record in the L.

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  76. @55 I thought the same that Kobe could only win it ( in the eyes of the media, thus get the trophy) if they won something like 69 or 70 games, that is not going to happen so it seems to be LBJs although Dwade is playing amazing.
    Check out http://lakersfan32.blogspot.com/2009/03/nba-mvp-2009.html
    to see why it is unfair if Wade wins it with less than 50 wins though.

    Kobe still deserves it though just as much as any of those other two.

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  77. Remember Bynum has been out and LAL still has the best record in the L.

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  78. 75

    3 years ago Kobe finished 4th because people said his team wasn’t good enough. By that standard Wade shouldn’t really be in the conversation, but whatever.

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  79. Young versus Fish on a jump ball. Was there ever a bigger mismatch? And Fish beats Young to the ball? What?

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  80. Um, this is not a bad start.

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  81. The Lakers play so much better against teams that have a point who can’t really bomb from outside. I wish it could be like this every game.

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  82. If the Lakers can’t hold this Philly team below 100 they should be fined. These guys are building a house out there.

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  83. hmm, we actually seem interested in playing d early on. nice. and now for a racially unrepresentative commercial

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  84. Philly is missing some easy ones. They do seem legitimately bothered by the strong side trap though.

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  85. This is a combo fortune/effort lead. We’re playing great defense, all our shots are falling, and none of theirs are.

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  86. Remember when the 76ers thought it prudent to give a big contract to Samuel Dalembert? Yikes.

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  87. Ariza has been hot behind the arc recently.

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  88. The Sixers are being outclassed right now.

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  89. Better 3-point shooter: Sasha or Ariza?

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  90. to be fair ariza only makes 3’s when hes wide open which seems to be quite a lot

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  91. 92

    That’s more than Sasha can do lately…

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  92. Wow, Andre Miller leaves Farmar in the rearview. Not a good sequence.

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  93. Joel,

    For February:

    Sasha: .273 3P%
    Ariza: .344 3P%

    For March:

    Sasha: .294 3P%
    Ariza: .348 3P%

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  94. lol out of a timeout lets go isolation for luke

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  95. Great, Luke is starting the way he left off from the Dallas game…pathetic!

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  96. Why oh why are they featuring Walton in the post when Pau is on the court?

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  97. Our bench can’t maintain a lead, can they?

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  98. Well it was a good start.

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  99. I can’t wait til Bynum comes back from his injury….watching the lakers second unit since Ariza went to the starting lineup has been awful! Now let me go throw up now.

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  100. Stu: “It’s going to be a lot easier offensively if you run it through Pau; easier than dribbling it on the perimeter…”

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  101. On Ariza/Sahsa, if you look at the numbers for their careers and last season you will see why Ariza is left open for threes. If he keeps hitting them that will change, but he’s going to have to keep proving it for a while. Sasha is off, but he has proven over time he can hit the three.

    Here’s my Walton question since I’m stuck at work — who is guarding him? Are they going to him because it should be a mismatch?

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  102. Funny how the Lakers get 2 layups after feeding Pau on the left block. Will they take the hint for the rest of the game?

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  103. I don’t know if Jordan just wanted Brown to get some burn or what, but that was as bad a few minutes out of him as I’ve seen in a while…

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  104. 3 fouls in 3 minutes for Farmar? Reminds me of Travis Knight….haha

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  105. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    For half of the 4th quarter, the Celtics have been playing Pierce at center. Mikki Moore fouled out and Powe hurt his knee.

    Hey, the bench decided to run the offense through Pau and we started scoring. Whadda ya know?

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  106. any links for the game?

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  107. 103

    Andre Miller was guarding him, but given Miller’s strength I don’t think it’s a mismatch that warrants forcefeeding Walton on 3 or 4 possessions.

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  108. Make that 3 layups after getting it inside to Pau.

    Every time I look up Lou Williams is completing another 3-point play.

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  109. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    103. Kurt, they were going to him because Andre Miller was matched on him down low in the post on three consecutive possessions. First possession, Luke somehow decided to turn a five-foot bank shot into a ten-foot fallaway and didn’t draw iron. Second possession Luke failed to see the shot blocker come over and help and got his shot tipped. Third possession he threw the ball away for a fast break layup at the other end plus a foul by Farmar. Then the Lakers decided to go to Pau.

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  110. Omar,
    Copy and paste into your browser:

    atdhe.net/live-tv-5164.html

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  111. Machine is broken.

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  112. Please, please, please let the starters back in.

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  113. Thanks Darius but that site isnt working for me 🙁 ….maybe cuz i am in jamaica….any others guys?

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  114. Kurt, the thing is I don’t think he has proven he can hit it. His percentage this year is very close to the seasons before last. It seems unlikely he had that much luck last year in his shot, but it might be that he really is not a lock down shooter.

    I think he is somewhere between last year’s 44% and this year’s 34%.

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  115. Sorry. Knockdown shooter.

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  116. Lakers bench a combined -27 for the game…awesome!

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  117. I know the lakers like to play at a fast pace, but this is ridiculous. They need to start taking good shots and not turning the ball over.

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  118. PeanutButterSpread March 17, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    FEED PAU!!!

    That should be the new Laker chant at Staples.

    Re: the Chris Paul as Magic heir apparent debate, last week, TNT was arguing LBJ is possibly better than Magic … especially if LBJ had the teammates Magic had … and that LBJ was essentially a better Magic.

    I didn’t enjoy listening to their one sided debate on that subject.

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  119. Pau’s keeping us in this game. Just keep passing it inside.

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  120. Omar,
    Does this site work?

    http://www.atdhe.net

    If so, scroll down and click the link. Maybe it will work that way. It’s the only one I have besides a justintv feed.

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  121. I’m shocked that the Sixers press has been giving us this much trouble. Though it turned into a fiasco of a soft layup against two guys, I like that Brown recognized that he could take it hard up the gut. Kobe and Trevor need to do the same, and then go strong to the rack or kick to another cutter. A few open dunks and I bet the 76ers will stick to half court pressure for a while.

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  122. LBJ better than Magic? Paleez…I highly doubt LBJ could’ve led the Lakers to the 79-80 championship all by himself the way Magic did.

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  123. Naa…still not working…. i normally use that site but it hasnt worked for me for the last few games

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  124. 123

    I just tried the link and it didn’t work for me either.

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  125. This is sloppy, I feel like I am watching a college game. Just a fast, messy pace, with a lot of turnovers and fouls.

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  126. Gasol has that weird monkey hook shot going. Everytime it goes up I think there’s no way it’s going in, but it does.

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  127. Omar what about this one

    http://dwert.tk/

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  128. Speaking of weird monkey hook shots, there’s another one from Trevor, and the same logic goes for him

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  129. all this pointless fouling is annoying

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  130. Cherith Cutestory March 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Is there anything more exciting than 6 consecutive defensive possessions ending in fouls? There is a hilarious “Where NBA happens” parody in there, I just haven’t quite found it.

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  131. Kobe’s expression on the bench has “kill” written all over it.

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  132. Can we rebound now? Lack of effort.

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  133. wow. rebounds!

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  134. And the only three Sasha hits is the one when he was five feet behind the line. Hopefully this ignites a fire under him.

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  135. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Machine self-deploy Panda Antivirus. Machine fixed.

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  136. The second unit is really doing an effort to get the ball inside to Pau today. It’s nice to see that they’ve adjusted since the last game. Now if the Lakers could only clean up their game, and maybe grab a few boards, they should pull this one out.

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  137. OK, tie game after an atrocious first half. I expect Phil to bring the fire and brimstone in the locker room and we see a much more efficient Lakers team at both ends of the court in the second half.

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  138. hmm.. Most of Sasha’s missed threes were on line, but long. Maybe he should just take a step back off the three point line, then they’d all go in.

    The Sixers are playing great defense. This should not be discounted. Yes, our offense went stagnant when the bench came in, but that coincided with the Sixers deciding it was time to try on defense, so it made our bench look extra bad.

    Much as we would love to go to Pau every time down, the guy does get tired. As Shaq said, pounding inside is a lot more tiring than running up and down the floor, so I think it’s good that we’re trying to get Luke involved in the post, considering he was so good at it just a few years ago.

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  139. Pau is really dragging out there – he’s not getting as deep post position as he was in the beginning of the game and his decision-making is a lot slower than it was too. I guess that’s what happens when you play the entire 2nd quarter.

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  140. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Well, if Phil wants to rest Pau and Trevor by mixing in two bench players after nine minutes or so of the third quarter, I would suggest not to send in DJ and Luke together like he did in the first. I would suggest putting Sasha in instead of Luke, and moving Kobe to SF. That way we can run the offense through Kobe in the post instead of Luke, and DJ can flash to the FT line. Luke can then come in with the rest of the second unit plus Pau when Kobe goes out, and we can run the offense through Pau in the low post.

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  141. 60-40 FG% in the first half and still tie game. That’s what 14 extra shots will do. TO’s and ORebounds are killing us.

    Kurt mentioned the athletic front line and the forcing TO’s.

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  142. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    142, 143 – Zephid and wiseolgoat, I think Phil needs to trust DJ for a few more minutes. He gave him less than two minutes of burn in the first quarter, and that coincided with Luke’s continuous and ongoing meltdown. DJ made one bad play, and that was an overeager goaltending play on a shot that wasn’t going in.

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  143. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Kurt, are you getting a little tired of having to moderate the vast majority of my posts? Perhaps it’s my Google Chrome browser. Or, it’s certain keywords that the spam filter picks up. Maybe you can publish a list of the spam keywords for all of us to refer to?

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  144. I think Sasha needs to drive a bit more (cringing as I say that), but just shooting more 3’s isn’t the best way to break out of a slump. Getting some easy scores, a couple layups, maybe some midrange shots – that should help more than just laying constant bricks. (I mean that in general, I have no idea what he’s been shooting tonight).

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  145. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Luuuke…finally! Slump over?

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  146. It’s kind of funny to compare what the Lakers’ announcers are saying when they get a bad call (“well, it balances out”) to what the Celtics’ announcers say when the same thing happen (“OMG that’s not a foul!!!”).

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  147. A perfectly executed fast break by Derek Fisher?

    Be still my beating heart.

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  148. LOL, luke can barely dunk hahaha

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  149. Nice closing of the quarter. Good to see Lamar get into the game more. I was a little worried seeing fish lead the fast break, glad to see it work out.

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  150. The one thing Walton is doing well is entry passes to the post. If I were defending him I’d play off and try to to take that pass away and make him shoot.

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  151. That was a good spurt to watch, but this is a funky lineup we are starting the fourth with (although apparently nobody told Jordan). I wonder how vicious Kobe is gonna be on offense.

    Also, and entirely unrelated, in light of the Celtics loss to Chicago tonight (which I kinda sorta called yesterday), I just want to wonder aloud; how much more will it take before the Hollinger math elevates the Lakers over the C’s in his daily rankings. Apparently wins and losses (and who you’re losing to) don’t factor in?

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  152. Was Iggy that good at Arizona and I just don’t remember it?

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  153. I’m always amused with Luke’s ability to dunk

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  154. Kurt- He was good like Trevor was good. Pure athlete who people thought “had a lot of potential.”

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  155. 156

    I believe margin of victory is a major part of Hollinger’s formula. Don’t ask me for anything more than that though. Power rankings hold no interest for me whatsoever.

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  156. Watching the Laker’s bench is like pulling teeth….very painful.

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  157. Sasha and Farmar are just lazy with their passes.

    Powell sets a good pick.

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  158. Sometimes I can’t believe Donyell Marshall is still in the league. I feel like he’s been around for 20 years or something.

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  159. One good quarter and now we’re back to turning the ball over and fouling.

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  160. It’s amusing how Stu and Joel still seem to be waiting for the Lakers to win by double digits every game.

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  161. Lou Williams is one of those guys who came straight out of HS but would have been better served with a year or two of college ball.

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  162. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    So I guess Phil is going to play Pau for 46 minutes tonight? Geez.

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  163. The Lakers have been turning the ball over more than any NBA team should. I really do feel like I am watching the Syracuse/Louisville game from the other night. This is just silly. On a plus side, though, I like that they’re staying agressive on the offensive boards.

    @ Joel- I really don’t care either, it’s just another excuse to get fired up about something. I remember Hollinger’s margin of victory argument article. Essentially, he was saying that the Celtics winning their games by less than two points less per (at the time) was more of an important factor than the quality of teams that were getting beaten (Lakers not having lost to the Cav’s or C’s), which is an argument that is just total rubbish in my opinion. Whatever.

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  164. Kurt,
    Iggy showed flashes of being this player (he was taken in the lottery) but he was a guy that was usually deferring to others. He played with Walton, Frye, and Salim Stoudemire his Frosh season and then those same guys (minus Luke) his Soph season. He always had that athleticism though.

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  165. I think phil needs to bring back Ariza and Lamar in the game…this is getting ugly.

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  166. take kobe out..

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  167. This game is giving me whiplash.

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  168. TURNOVERS!!!!! Man, man.

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  169. farmar is getting killed whenever he’s out there

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  170. j. d. hastings March 17, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Sasha was cussing another teammate out as he went to the bench.

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  171. philadelphia just didn’t expose our same weakness…tell me they didn’t…oh they did something else, they took the lead in our own court and our bench continues to tell me something about their D and the burn our starters are getting late in the season should this continue…this can get really tiring and disappointing…but oh well, all the drama in Lakerland…

    but some teams, no a lot of teams in april to june don’t play to our script. man up lakers! salvage this game!

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  172. The Dude Abides March 17, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Yep…time to bring back Trevor and Lamar. Josh Powell isn’t giving us anything tonight.

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  173. j. d. hastings March 17, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    These are not the shots we want.

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  174. Lakers with turnovers on 22.4% of their possessions so far, Sixers with 9.4%.

    I must not remember Iggy well from college because I was so mesmerized by Walton’s high flying dunks.

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  175. This has been one sloppy game. All these mistakes and bad shots are playing right into Philly’s hands.

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  176. GO ARIZA GO!

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  177. j. d. hastings March 17, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Working reeeeeeeally hard to launch a 3 pointer everytime down the court

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  178. I hate to say it, but Kobe’s blowin it

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  179. Kobe has been terrible in the 4th so far. He needs to redeem himself in the next 3 minutes.

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  180. Please no more contested Kobe jumpers…

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  181. i have to say this is kobe’s worse game for a long time

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  182. If Lakers end up winning this game, it’s because Philly gave it to them…Lakers do not deserve to win this game the way they’re playing right now….

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  183. Wow, this is one frustrating game to watch. Such sloppy passing on offense. Somehow I’m not really all that concerned, though, like my subconscious is taking for granted that we’re gonna make a push and pull it out at the end.

    Is it wrong that my enduring image of Royal Ivy is still Hakim Warrick dunking on him in the Final Four?

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  184. We might at least try to run our offense instead of all p&r or iso – they expect this.

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  185. The P&R is not the play to go to right now. The Sixers are doing a great job of hedging and recovering and Kobe is making mistakes by jumping to pass. We should be going to the block, making our cuts, setting screens, and attacking the interior of their D. Dalembert is on the bench and they don’t have a shot blocker on the floor. Now is the time to work the ball around and cut hard to the basket.

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  186. Got to stay near Marshall, the only guy on that team that can hit the three every time.

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  187. The Lakers are playing like they don’t need HCA should they meet the Cavs in the finals.

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  188. Blowin it Kobster!

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  189. Pau really has been playing well lately. The Lakers have been pretty lax, but you can’t quibble with anything Gasol has done lately.

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  190. This is the worst 4th quarter I’ve seen from Kobe in a long time.

    Gasol, on the other hand…

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  191. Why does Kobe take these shots?

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  192. It’s good to have Kobe on your team.

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  193. KOBE WITH THE DAGGER!

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  194. Man. Kobe just kills ’em every time. Unbelievable. It’s like every shot is a new game.

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  195. And of course right as I type that…

    Stop! Kobe time!

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