It’s All Mental

Kurt —  March 18, 2009

It’s what makes losses like the one to the 76ers frustrating — mental lapses. If the Lakers bench issues were just a matter of cold shooting or the other team hitting great shots, that happens sometimes. Like that last shot of the game, credit Iguodala. But the Lakers suffer more from the mental lapses than physical ones right now.

How else do you explain that Pau Gasol had just three shots in the second half against Dallas and five against Philly?

The bigger problems have been with the bench unit. As has been said, they are going to struggle some because of personnel — the Lakers two best bench players when things were going right were Ariza and Odom, and now they are starting. Bynum’s return next month will help. But it does not excuse the mental errors, the lapses. It’s harder and harder to forgive them this late in the season.

What follows is a breakdown of when the Lakers really lost this game, the start of the fourth quarter.

11:36, Lakers +14: After passing around the perimeter, Andre Miller ends up with the ball 15 feet out on the right baseline where, just as the Lakers defense is supposed to, it traps him with Sasha and Powell. The Sixers look lost — until Miller leans and splits the double team so he has an open passing lane and throws a skip-pass to Iguodala. How does it split them? Good question. But skip passes kill the Lakers defense. Pau runs out at Iggy to stop the three, so Iggy puts it on the floor and now nobody is really between him and the bucket. Lay up.

11:13, Lakers +12: Sasha has the ball and Powell flashes to the strong-side high post and gets the ball. Then Powell spins and tries to pass to Kobe mid-post on the weak side, the kind of high-low thing Pau and LO run well. But then they tend to look when they pass. Iguodala is playing ball denial defense on Kobe, gets the easy steal. Mental error and a turnover. The steal leads a break that ends with a Williams layup.

10:55, Lakers +10: Farmar and Kobe run the two-man game in the triangle, with Kobe in the high post. He gets the ball a few steps out from the elbow, faces up Iguodala, drives the lane, draws the entire city of Philadelphia including the Phillie Phanatic, then kicks out to Gasol for a wide-open 18 footer. Splash. Good things happen when Pau gets the ball.

10:30, Lakers +12: After some working around the perimeter, Williams just decides to go to the hoop and blows past Sasha. But Pau slides over to help so it is a kick-out long two from Iguodala. That’s the best you can do as the Lakers and they get the desired result, a miss. Then Reggie Evans grabs the board and everything resets.

In the scramble for the board the Lakers ended up switched around on their men, which meant Farmar trying to guard Iguodala, a slight mismatch. Farmar actually tries something smart and fronts Iggy, but the lob pass goes over his head and the backside rotation is late. Powell fouls. He hits one of two.

10:01, Lakers + 11: Now it is Farmar and Powell playing some two-man pick and roll. With Kobe and Pau Gasol on the strong side, is this really the offensive play you want to run? What has been frustrating about Farmar lately has not just been the missed shots, but the bad decisions. Anyway, off one pick Powell rolls to the hoop, both defenders play the middle ground and Farmar can shoot the 18 footer or hit an open Powell running to the basket. Instead, Jordan half-asses the pass and it gets knocked up in the air and stolen.

Iguodala runs and dunks.

9:23: Lakers +9: This time Kobe flashes into the high post and gets the ball, with Iguodala draped on him. There are cutters but nothing really open, so Kobe turns and faces up, rises up and shoots the 17-footer over and outstretched arm. Miss. Powell picks up the lose ball foul going for the board.

Williams has the ball out on the wing deep and starts to show a baseline drive, so Powell leaves Donyell Marshal to help almost immediately. Williams kicks over to the wide open Marshall, the one guy you can’t leave open from three on this team. Another mental error, another Philly bucket.

9:01, Lakers +6: The Sixers have decided who is not going to beat them. When Kobe comes off a high Powell screen both defenders jump out to trap, so Kobe dribbles away and hits Pau with a pass out by the three-point line. But Pau can drive and does into the lane, drawing help defenders. That leaves Powell open. Quick pass and Powell with the layup. Give Pau the ball and good things happen. So, we’re going to stop that now.

8:42, Lakers +8: Iggy gets the ball and is isolated on Kobe way out past the three-point line on the wing. He blows right past Kobe and Gasol is very late on the defensive rotation, and Iggy gets the and one.

8:26: Lakers +5: Kobe wants it now, but he is cold. He gets it on the wing and almost instantly launches a three that hits the back of the rim, but Pau gets the offensive board. Kobe and Pau now run the P&R, straight away, Kobe sees a lane and takes it all the way to the rim, miss but a blocking foul. He was passing, so ball out of bounds. Second time around, Powell is going up and has the ball knocked out of his hands, so Lakers ball out of bounds.

Third time around starts with Kobe on the wing getting a screen from Gasol and driving the lane, then kicking out to a wide open Farmar, who misses the three. Gasol grabs the rebound and proceeds to miss a six-foot hook. Shoulda worked with Cap on that. This is actually a sequence I can live with, the Lakers got good looks but just didn’t hit the shot. It is very different in that way from trips down before or after.

Williams pushes the ball up and while it is not 7 seconds or less, the Sixers get what they want, guys left alone or and outnumbering Lakers in the paint, Two quick passes and Reggie Evans finishes with a dunk.

7:32: Lakers +3: Kobe and Gasol are high pick and roll again. I know Kobe wants to take over here, but it is time to try to get some points out of the offense He ignores my advice, drives off the pick into the lane and hits Josh Powell for the five footer. Missed. But Powell grabs his own rebound and takes a couple steps to try and lay it in. Never bothers to dribble. Turns out you have to dribble. Except for LeBron. Traveling call and a turnover.

A couple of passes around the perimeter for Philly and the ball comes over to Ivey, Sasha is closing out on him and as he gets close Ivey puts the ball on the floor and blows past him into the lane. This is where we miss Bynum because nobody is sagging off to stop the penetration. Another layup.

7:04, Lakers +1: Kobe waits for the offense to give him the ball, then he calls Powell over for a wing pick and roll, Kobe gets into the lane and slips on some wet floor. Bad break, and the turnover means the Sixers are out on the break, Iggy has the ball and nobody stops the ball. Layup.

Timeout Lakers. I could go for the final five points of the run, but why bother.

Kurt

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77 responses to It’s All Mental

  1. fair enough. but just focus on the last play. why not shade iggy on his right? make him at least shoot inside the 3? i love ariza but that was bad d.

  2. 1. Should have fouled, should have shaded. But it never should have come down to that shot in the first place.

    My bigger concern here is, I don’t know that Phil Jackson has a lot of good options other than wait for Bynum and tighten the rotations in the playoffs so the bench plays fewer minutes.

  3. Great Write-Up, as always.

    I, however, disagree with you on your assessment of the offensive disaster that happened at the 8:26 mark.

    Psychologically, the Lakers needed to score there – and they had three cracks at it and couldn’t convert – the fact that the Sixers immediately got a layup on the other end compounded the issue.

    I also have a big problem with Phil not calling a time-out when the team got the third rebound, settling them down, and scripting a play for them where they could score and get some confidence back.

    I know Phil never does this, but as a coach, there are three stages to a collapse:

    1) The Opposing team getting it to single digits

    2) The Opposing team getting it to within two scores

    3) The Opposing team taking the lead.

    A good coach is supposed to call a timeout, at the very latest, after Part II happens. Phil stubbornly refused to do that.

    By the way, I don’t blame Ariza for the final play. I blame Phil and Kobe for letting Ariza guard Iggy on the final play when Kobe clearly should have been the one guarding him.

  4. RE: 2

    Phil doesn’t have any other option than waiting for Bynum to get back, by the way.

    The bench is fried.

    Farmar and Sasha are not going to be useful for the remainder of the season. They’ve been bad for too long to suddenly snap out of it.

    Powell can be useful if playing with the starters, because he can knock down shots on kickouts.

    Luke can be useful if he’s playing with four guys who can score (as we saw at the end of the 3rd Q), so he can focus on passing. If he’s in a situation where he’s baited into trying to create a shot for himself – he’s not going to be successful.

    Sasha can be marginally useful if he’s playing with Kobe, Fish, & Pau because they draw enough attention that he can get open shots in his comfort zone. Whether he’s hitting them is another story.

    I’m pretty convinced, as this point, that Farmar is no longer useful to the team under any circumstances.

  5. Worried I am.

  6. and i forgot to mention there was a foul to give…one problem is that we need a good defender behind fish, because he can’t guard the fast guys. farmar is the quickest, but he played horribly last night. Got 3 fouls in 4 minutes, and poor shot selection. Sasha tries, but he missed a defensive rotation and started yelling and shaw during a 4q time out. I like sasha, but it’s pretty obvious that he pisses off a lot of guys on the team with his shoot first approach…obviously the shot selections for those guys changes when bynum is not there, but i sometimes wonder where the discipline has gone. Farmar’s in his third year and there should be a little more maturity from him. he seems to be butting heads with phil. and walton’s lack of scoring is a killer.

  7. Kurt, I know you never like to see any of us single out any one player as a whipping boy, but I have to say that I’m not very high on Farmar right now. It seems like he’s always playing at a rushed tempo (even when no one else is), and making very poor decisions with the ball. Given that he’s the engine behind the 2nd unit, this seems to give the second unit a very unstable and volatile identity that’s not suited for protecting leads.

    This is also not empirical evidence by any means, but I can’t shake the thought that when players like Powell mention the on-court bickering and selfishness, they’re talking about Jordan. Perhaps I’m being colored by articles describing how hard-headed he has been in the past.

    If any of this is at all true, I’m not sure if there’s an easy fix. Sasha doesn’t seem to be a natural ballhandler (even if he was a PG in Europe), and Shannon is still unproven.

  8. The whole bench has regressed significantly. Which is both a good and a bad sign. Bad because we need them to play well to rest our starters. Good because we still have the second best record out of 30 teams, despite having a discombobulated underachieving bench. We’re just out of focus mentally, that’s for sure. In tough games against good teams we tend to focus, as if (dare I say) we flip on a switch. Which is where I gather hope that once the playoffs here, we won’t see this kind of toying around with teams we should be burying.

  9. Kurt-I think you’re right. They will be fine (playing nearly .800 ball without Bynum and with a leaky bench), but for the stretch-run, they will need Bynum and a dependable 8 man rotation.

    My biggest pet-peeve last night was the way we were so careless with the ball. You fairly point out how we lost the game in the 4th, but it can be argued the game was lost in the 1st. We were up 11-2, and promptly commited 2 or 3 silly turnovers. If we get out to a 15 point 1st quarter lead, Philly may submit. Then, we are up 24-14, still, a nice 10 point lead in the 1st, and again, turnovers (this time by the bench). I think Phil’s killer instinct comment was applicable to our play at various points of the game last night.

  10. 4 – When did Powell mention the on-court bickering? I missed that article, does anyone have a link?

    Ironically, it was many on this board who said our loss in the Finals last year was due to mental lapses and not physical toughness. Has our playoff experience made mentally tougher? It’s hard to say. I think the Bynum flux is similar to the T-Mac effect – with him waiting in the wings, a lot of people seem less sure of their roles than earlier in the season.

    Great teams fight through adversity, though. Boston had it in the 1st 2 rounds last year, hopefully we’re getting ours out of our system right now.

  11. Wiseolgoat – I agree, and I think Phil should consider a 3-guard lineup. Sasha with Fish or Kobe or Lamar once he’s back on the bench should minimize ball-handling weaknesses. I’ve been pushing for more PT for Sasha from the beginning, because of how often he turned games for us with his hot shooting and scrappy defense. Farmar has done that on occasion, but more rarely, and more often makes mental mistakes. Not trying to unload on anyone, but the playoffs are when rotations should be tightened, and I think a 3-guard lineup is optimal.

  12. That post was really spot on. I feel silly for writing this without anything in particular to add, but like I said: spot on.

  13. when I watch the Lakers, I don’t see a team on a mission, a team that wants to win it all this year. I see a team that acts as if it’s already won two in a row and just chilling until the playoffs start.

    playing to the level of the competition? do they not realize they’re not competing against Dallas or Phil or whomever? at this point, the only competition is Cleveland for HCA, and they are NOT playing to THAT level of competition by losing to the likes of PHI at home.

  14. Good post, Kurt. As you said – good things happen when Gasol gets the ball.

    The “positive margin” (potential to score/get an assist) between him and the defense is greater than the “positive margin” between Kobe and the defense. Until defenses adjust, why go anywhere else?

    Especially when you think of the good things that could happen with Kobe moving without the ball, while Gasol has the ball. How many easy shots you think that will result in?

  15. Kobe screwed this game up big time in the fourth quarter as he tried to work himself back into the game without the use of the offense. However, in the end, he did give the Lakers the lead and Ariza misremembered the instructions given by Phil. ‘Ol well.

  16. wiseolegoat,

    You are right about Farmar. He is always pushing the tempo. sometimes that is good, but lately, it has led to fast paced chaos in which we don’t even try to to protect leads. The bench is giving up too much, and by the time the starters are back in, it’s a game.

    I still think we need his contributions right now, but I also thought things went smoothly when he was out. But our bench was completely different when that happened. Drew was healthy, Vlad was here, and LO and Ariza were coming off the bench. Our strength in our bench is no longer.

    Yes, Kobe was awful last night,and that played a factor, but our bench being suddenly average has been a huge factor.

  17. i love kobe but last night was on him. 5-15, no freethrows, 5 of the 18 turnovers, and his foul trouble.

    in 12 of there 14 losses kobe has missed 10 shots or more.

    that said that only happens once in a blue moon.

    even with that i really am feeling a successful road trip with bynum waitng for the team when they get back home.

    the playoffs need to get here to get this teams attention. i remember how badly they were playing before the 1st celtic game and this reminds me of it. Just boredom, hopefully this loss pisses them off a bit and we dont need to wait for the playoffs for them to get out of the funk.

  18. I haven’t read this carefully enough to agree with all of it, but Adande has written one of the more interesting philosophical NBA pieces of read in quite a while:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=adande_ja&page=outliers-090318

  19. 5 – Hilarious

  20. “We have guys bickering out there a little bit too much,” Powell said. “We can’t have that.”

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-spw-lakerweb19-2009mar19,0,2290271.story

  21. The thing with Farmar lately seems to be that he’s taking lessons from Lamar on how to take angles on layups. And then on how to let a bad play ruin your confidence. He has great athletic bursts, but doesn’t know when to pull it back when he’s cut off. Then his defense becomes affected by it, and its just a deck of cards from there

  22. I have a quick question:

    How come last year without Bynum, Gasol averaged 36 min, while this year he averages 42 min without Bynum? The only difference is Tufiaf -> Powell. Besides, now we have trever back, and luke can play PF as well. Why is gasol averaging such high minutes? Is it because ramodnovic is gone, and he can play PF? He rarely plays PF last year tho…

  23. I don’t think any of the issues that cost us this game are necessarily issues that will doom us in the playoffs. But the loss itself, moving us behind the Cavs, is all bad.

    The playoffs aren’t for a month, the finals 2.5 months, so issues on the court can change completely. But whose court we play on- that will remain constant.

  24. 22. Last year, Turiaf played significant minutes at center (more than Mbenga is playing right now). Powell plays mostly PF, which means less rest for Pau.

  25. Prediction for the next game. At the 2:00 mark of the 1st quarter (or there abouts) Sasha and Walton in for Fish and Ariza.

    Brown in for Kobe to start the second.

    Jackson in his press conference signalled a change in the rotation. If there is one silver lining to the loss it is that Farmar has lost his place.

  26. How many other teams, except for maybe New Orleans and Phoenix, blame their backup point guard for their losses? I think the world of Fish, but he is no Chris Paul/Steve Nash.

    The reality is that Farmar is one of the few players who can create shots, especially on that second unit.

    Farmar still has skill and talent that this team needs. Its absurd to expect a 3rd year guy who couldn’t get minutes on a sub-.500 team and has not learned a complex offensive to contribute regularly. I can’t blame all the problems of a 53-win team on the backup point guard.

  27. I think it’s tough to signal out Jordan as the problem last night, the entire bench was sub-par, and Jordan like the rest was a missed bag. He went from good moments (wetting a three, driving and kicking to open shooters) to bad (get burned by Andre Miller and getting flustered by the press)– but I certainly don’t see any real distinction between how bad Farmar has been playing at moments and how bad the rest of the bench has been. Bad really is the wrong word even, as really it has just been inconsistent across the board. Some games they’re providing energy and quality minutes, other games they’re all over the place and blowing leads. The only reason Farmar’s play may sting me more is because I had higher hopes for him this season than I did for the other bench players. Finally, I think that Bynum’s return and sending Odom back to the six spot could really go a long way to providing a calming influence for that second unit. Hopefully we get the chance to find out.

  28. I meant single, I don’t know how you signal out somebody…

  29. beyondblue and Nick,

    Overall, I would agree with you. I wouldn’t single Jordan out, nor would I blame the problems on him. I think we need what he can bring. But, I think that as the 2nd PG, he has to do a better job controlling the tempo of the game to be in our favor. lately, the fast pace the 2nd unit plays is burning us. The change in dynamic isn’t allowing us to use that pace in our benefit like when we had Trevor and LO in the 2nd Unit. Now it’s Sasha, Jordan, Powell and Mbenga and Luke. Not the same effect. Plus, he isn’t good enough of a defender to overcome his inconsistency on offense this year. I just want him to slow the tempo when the other team is making the run.

    That problem is secondary to the team wide problem of protecting the rim. Philly killed us going to the rim like Portland did.

  30. 26-Thats a good point. I don’t think anyone feels Farmar is the biggest problem on the team, but he is negativley impacting the game on a nightly basis. This has reprecussions, because he is a PG, and thus, his play has been leading to some AWFUL stretches of basketball on both ends for pretty much 15-20 minutes a game. I think the most egregious thing about his play since the great 6-0 roadie (where he played great against the Cavs) is his inability to establish Pau when Pau is the only starter out there with 4 reserves. As many have pointed out, the offense is best when it runs through Pau. Now when it runs through Kobe over Pau that’s one thing, but for Jordan to stubbonly refuse to make it a point to get the ball to Pau, that is a problem. I haven’t even mentioned the other teams PGs going off on him consistently. I think he is a talented player, but he is not learning to be a better player in the role the team is asking him to play and at Year 3, that is concerning, not really to the Lakers prospects this season, but to Jordan’s future with the team.

  31. Bill-We may need to call KG and have him get in LO’s face again, LO (as has been the case his entire career) has not been able to sustain the focus and level of execution he had on that 10 game run after Drew went down, what do you think the team can do to get LO back to that level, because when he plays like that, we are nearly unbeatable.

  32. Kwame A. – I agree with you of course about the fact that I had hoped Jordan would be further along this year (I even was measuring him against Rondo with a friend who’s a C’s fan before the season, whoops!)- but I think that its also important to point out that Pau deserves a little bit of blame for those stretches where he disappears as well. He needs to be demanding the ball, last night is a great example because he was killing the Sixers down low all night, he should’ve been touching the ball on almost every possession regardless of what unit was in the game, yet somehow he essentially disappears from the third quarter on (including when it was the starters running with him). To me that also indicates a lack of that killer instinct on the part of our number-two option, which probably is even more concerning than inconsistence from our bench. Guys like Mo Williams and Paul Pierce (or Ray Allen, or KG, not sure who you would called the number two guy on the Celtics) don’t seem to disappear like Gasol does at times. Now, not all the blame needs to go Gasol as clearly the team needs to keep him involved, but on the flipside, some of it certainly has to. In my eyes that was what was most concerning about the loss last night.

  33. 32-Nick, I think KG defintely disappears in games, especially late (I feel like Wondahbap can cosign that sentiment). As far as Mo Will and PP, those guys have the ball in their hands and can initiate for themselves. Pau needs the guards to get him the ball. In the 4th, Kobe decided to go nova and didn’t look for him really, and that is a problem, but a bigger problem is the bench guards pushing tempo and ignoring Pau. To me it almost wastes those extra mins. Pau is playing, I mean if he’s in, they might as well go through him.

  34. Kwame A.- Like I said, while not all the blame can go to Pau, I just can’t see him as blameless, especially when he has been as effective down in the post as he was against Philly. He cant disappear from an entire second half like that, especially with Kobe limited by fouls. The argument about Jordan, Sasha, and Fish not getting him the rock is valid, but in a situation like last night, he needs to be more assertive about making sure that happens. As for the KG thing, I really can’t speak to it I guess, as I really only see about ten to twelve Celtics games during any regular season.

    Secondly, I am not denying bench problems by any means, I am right there with you regarding how inconsistent they’ve been. Last night showed that inconsistency with the strong finish of the third, but the atrocious opening of the fourth. I was also off put by how both the starters and the bench were flustered by that bizarrely effective press by the Sixers last night. I couldn’t quite fathom what I was seeing when Kobe was throwing soft cross-court passes that were getting picked off when he was caught in traps. The Lakers shouldn’t have had that much trouble, starters or bench. Let’s not forget, Fisher hasn’t exactly been mister reliable when running the court.

  35. I have a post that is long awaiting moderation (what there’s nobody at my beck and call at all hours of the day on a Wednesday? Crazy!) — but in it I say that I really can’t speak to the KG thing, as I only watch a handful of regular season Celtics games. And then get mad about Pau again.

  36. Nick, I agree with you that Pau is not blameless when it comes to establishing himself when he’s hot. He seems so intent on running the offense and being unselfish that it hurts us. In the game against the Mavs he was also eager to give up the ball even during soft double teams or when a cutter didn’t have a clear lane. Of course, some possessions he didn’t even touch the ball and that’s not his fault. But he needs to demand it more and have that one on one mentality right away. He should linger a little at the suggestion of double teams and only pass it out on a hard double team.

    One could also argue his ultra-efficiency could come because he’s taking shots within the offense instead of demanding it and forcing it. But his forced shots are probably better than Vujacic’s running jumpers or Luke’s post ups or Farmars contested trey’s.

  37. Nick/Don-Good points. I guess I just wish everyone played like Pau. I think when he passes out of a double, or kicks the ball out, it is because the shot is not there. We should dump it back in, be patient and make an effort to get it to him (Pau even mentioned wanting the ball more after the game). But at some point you guys are right, he’s gonna have to force the issue to remind the team he’s there.

  38. At this point Pau should not have to call for the ball. The bench has been struggling for weeks and after every game the need to run things through Pau is reiterated.

    Farmar is very talented, but this season has just confirmed what I was thinking a few months ago: the way he plays is not going to keep him a Laker in the long run. He doesn’t like to play at a slow tempo, doesn’t like to initiate the offense with a pass (as opposed to a dribble), and tries too many ‘home run’ plays. Throw in his perpetually bad defense and it’s hard to see him as the PG of the future unless he drastically changes his approach to the game.

  39. Joel- This we can agree on about Farmar, I now am left looking like a jackass because I was hollering loud and proud to my friends that he was the point guard of the future in Los Angeles, and that he could be the starting guard as early as next season. Not exactly how it worked out. The up and down style caused by the Sixers press should have favored his style of play yesterday, but instead he looked to have as many cold moments as the rest of the bench. Not good news.

    While I agree that Pau shouldn’t have to call for the ball, if he’s not getting it “shouldn’t have to”doesn’t count for much and it certainly doesn’t help to narrow the score. So like I said, some of the my blame has to rest with him.

  40. Pau’s game has been consistent pretty much through the whole season. He had a few nights off here and there, but who hasn’t. Every all-star including Kobe has. This is not a blame game and I think saying that Pau has to take some of the blame for last night’s lack of effort is just nickpicking. He was the best Laker player last night.

    Kurt is right in saying that it’s a mental issue. The Lakers have the skills, it’s the mental lapses, which includes having the “killer instinct” that comes with being mentally tough enough to get it together to pull out a win when we are suppose to win. The lack of effort to get it together enough and stop turning the ball over, controlling the tempo and playing good D for at least the last 5 mins is the problem. To add to it, they shrug off Phils’ comments and act like they can just pull out a win when they have been sturggling (mostly the bench) since the all star game. This is what upsets me the most. They act like they are entitled to the championship, because everyone talks about how good they are, how they are favored, having the best player, on a winning franchise Laker team…yada yada yada.

    The sky is not falling, but they need to get it together mentally and play as a team determined to win the championship. Like someone else said earlier, Phil should just play that 4th and 6th playoff game from last year over and over again during practice and make them watch it.

  41. Snoopy2006 wrote on March 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I haven’t read this carefully enough to agree with all of it, but Adande has written one of the more interesting philosophical NBA pieces of read in quite a while:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=adande_ja&page=outliers-090318

    Snoopy, I’ve read Outliers – it’s a great read and I’m glad Adande is giving it some press. That said, his comments about the “cultural legacy” of the Celtics are a bit off. According to Gladwell, that kind of legacy would affect KG and other Celtics if they were born Celtics – and if their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were Celtics. You don’t inherit a cultural legacy by moving to a new team – this is why I’m not suddenly acting Chinese because I moved to China. All the same, the winning attitude surrounding teams like the Celtics and Lakers has to count for something.

    On a related note, Gladwell might explain Pau’s reluctance to demand the ball as a result of his culture. I really don’t know much about Spain or Pau’s background – but do you think he’d be as passive if he was from NYC?

  42. Magic- Word. It is a mental issue. And the sky isn’t falling. I don’t blame Pau for the loss last night, I blame the entire team for letting them back in the game, seriously, I mean nobody is untouched (not even Phil). I absolutely am being nitpicky, it just so happens that the internet is a great place to do that. All of that being said, and as I’ve mentioned previously, I still like our chances to win the championship. Even without Bynum, I like them better then I did last year. We have shown that we can beat the good teams and that we can do it on their courts. I am not even convinced that there is a real problem. I think that we play to the level of our opponents, and there are no bad teams in the playoffs (at least not this year). I just have the luxury of rooting for a team that is talented enough where I can choose to worry about small and inane details. So that’s what I am doing. One loss does not a disaster make.

  43. I just realized I would love a 2-3 semifinal matchup between the Spurs and Rockets. Spurs and Jazz holds great appeal too. And a first round Jazz-Hornets matchup would be killer. There could be some really interesting series. Mostly I want to see our WCF threats beat the snot out of each other before facing us.

    Jaybird – Thanks for the insight. I’ve never read the book, but a few things in that article seemed a bit sketchy. Still I appreciate Adande giving us a different look.

    wiseolgoat – Thanks for the link, that’s a good read

  44. Heads up – Manny Ramirez on SC trying cricket. This I’ve got to see.

    At some point during the playoffs, I’m sure Farmar will have an amazing game (likely vs the Spurs) and possibly swing a game for us, and I’m sure some (not on this board) will be fickle and jump back on the bandwagon. There’s no denying his talent. But the problem I think we have right now is consistency. We need that spark almost every night, whether its Farmar, Sasha, Powell or the exhumed basketball career of Smush Parker.

    Why are people giving Sasha a chance and not Farmar? That’s an interesting question. Personally, my gut feeling is that last year Sasha was more vital to more wins. Farmar played well occasionally, but Sasha as a closer really buried the other teams often. He would slump occasionally, but was overall more consistent. I for one am really hoping to see that Sasha re-emerge.

  45. 46 – Awesomeness, thanks for the link. I got into cricket for the first time last summer. Sometimes in America we really are isolated from parts of the sports world (besides soccer). Some people are predicting 20-20 cricket will rival “futball” in a few years for the world’s most popular sport.

    I always love new sports. Here’s one that a lot of people probably haven’t heard of – takraw:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwhIPnMfO5k

    I dare someone to watch that vid and tell me that is not the sickest sport ever created.

  46. 47 – Snoopy2006, takraw’s pretty popular here in Southeast Asia :)

  47. 48 – Yeah, but us Americans have very little exposure to it. I’d never heard of it until a couple months ago. Kinda makes me wonder how many other great sports are out there that we (in this part of the world) rarely get to see.

    If I ever get to take a trip to Asia I’ll be sure to get my takraw on.

  48. The Dude Abides March 18, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Whoa. I commented last night that CLE was a beneficiary of a BS three seconds call on ORL with 30 seconds left and the Magic only down one. It turns out that some stat guy who keeps records has tracked three seconds calls over the past seven seasons, and that was the first time since he’s been keeping track that in the final minute of an NBA game with the margin at three points or less, the refs called three seconds on the offense. The scary thing is that wasn’t even the worst call against ORL in that game. There was an outrageously bad foul call on a Lebron jumper that pushed the lead to three when he hit two FTs.

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-38-337/That-Was-a-Rare-Three-Second-Call.html

  49. hey site maintenance note… archives are inaccessible.. i get nothing before the 20th of every month..t heres also some garbage above every post.. im on safari over here..

    also even though its been awhile i still attribute a huge bunch of our success to the gasol trade.. i remember the headline on ESPN (“LAKERS GET GASOL”) and how happy i was the entire day.. he’s regularly the most efficient player on our floor.. even now w/the vastly increased wear fro the bynum injury.. why isn’t feburary 1st a laker holiday!?

  50. I totally agree with you Mike (51). At times I wish Gasol was less “Euro”, but honestly he is mint. I know that I celebrate him every chance I get!

  51. haha euro? in what way.. i think u mean more athletic.. and a different ‘colour’..

    i agree i guess.. as efficient as he is he lacks a real mean streak.. or seems to have lost it since (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjarUDyQOzo&feature=related)

    i guess the many years of losing in memphis really did a number on his ego.. maybe itll change when he wins tt championship he deserves.. i just hope he doesn’t lose his class like KG n get on all fours taunting guys..

  52. Mike (51) & Don W. (52),

    I remember that I found out listening to the Stephen A. Smith’s radio show, when he was about to go to break, and just before he did, he announced “Laker fans….the Kwame Brown Era in Los Angeles is OVER…he’s been TRADED, y’all!….”

    I was ecstatic, BEFORE he came back to say it was for Pau. Just the fact that Kwame was gone was good enough. Once he said Pau, I nearly passed out. I wasn’t sure who to call first.

  53. My issue with Farmar, as others have alerady pointed out, is his consistency. We all know he possesses the ability to really change a game off the bench and break it wide open (like in his first game back from his knee injury vs Spurs), but when his home-run plays aren’t hitting (which is more often than not now) the results are bad turnovers and bricked shots that fuel the other team’s momentum. I’d rather have Sasha’s steadiness at initiating the offense – despite missing shots lately, he’s still been contributing with his floor game.

    I’m also in agreement with previous commenters that Farmar is not our PG of the future, unless we revert to a regular high P&R offense. His core competencies are just different from what the triangle offense needs. He’d probably thrive under someone like D’Antoni or Nelson, if Nelson wasn’t such a prima donna.

  54. Wiseolegoat,

    I agree. I’ve thought for a long time that Farmar will not be our PG of the future. I have nothing against him, I just don’t think he fits what Phil wants. My guess is he gets traded between the summer and next season. I think the contract Sasha received pretty much signaled that Farmar will not get another contract.

  55. I agree with most people on this site that Farmar isn’t going to be the answer for the lakers. His skill set isn’t really suited for the triangle and he’s our worst defensive player on the team which is shocking for a guy that went to UCLA and is as athletic as him. I can see him though being a 16 and 6 guy on a 30 win team somewhere…

  56. You put Farmar on a fast-pace up and down team with a lot of Ariza type wing players and I think he would be a net positive for that team. It’s just not the Lakers…

  57. CSN nursing a lead, Kurt

  58. The loss was more meaningful than a win. Now Phil realizes he needs to shake up the rotation. Do you think there would be a shakeup if we won? I doubt it, hopefully we can grow from this adversity. It seems we play with more purpose when we have something to prove like in the beginning of the season.

  59. 59. I’ve got it streaming on my desktop at work.

    So far they are busting it and making a game of it, which is all I really can ask. Memphis may have more athletic talent. Just a little.

  60. CSUN repping hard for the Big West!! Memphis has that “why wont they just go away look” and that may keep the game close

  61. The Matadors are playing really good right now. Attacking the rim, and keeping memphis out of transition. It would ruin my bracket (I have memphis in the final four) but I always like the upset.

  62. 2 and 4 mentioned that Phil is waiting for Bynum to come back and I couldn’t help but think that they are right. Bynums return to the starting lineup puts Lamar back to 6th man position which gives the Bench Mob another offensive creator/ball-handler. I think that necessitates the return of Walton to the starting lineup as they lose an offense initiator in Lamar. The return of both Ariza and Lamar to bench roles could well be the solution to the struggles they have been having. Both of them are athletic enough to be able to play in a more aggresive uptempo game, and both play together with Farmar very well, Ariza especially. That being said I like the idea of trying out Shannon Brown in that 2nd PG spot. Oh and go Pitt.

  63. I actually think you will see Bynum come off the bench, especially since the back up guards have a hard time staying in front of people. Also Farmar and Bynum play really well together.

  64. In all fairness the starting gaurds sometimes have trouble staying in front of people. Dribble penetration has been a weak spot for us for a while. But then I’m not sure if Bynum is an improvement over Odom in that area.

    BTW 3 out of 6 Laker players are picking UNC to take it all.

    No way. Not gonna happen. Nuh-uh.

  65. Remember that time my national champion pick still hadn’t pulled away from Cal-State Northridge? Yeah, me too.

  66. Many have been talking about Bynum coming off the bench so that he coul get more run with the second unit. So I just wanted to make the point that Bynum could start and he’d still play a lot with the bench. Remember that when Bynum was healthy and Odom was coming off the bench, Phil would usually substitute LO for Andrew at the six minute mark of the first. Then at the two minute mark he’d bring in Farmar and Bynum (and Ariza) for Fisher and Pau (and the player that started at SF). So, if we were to see these same rotations (only Ariza is now staring so Luke would likely sub in at that two minute mark) we’d end up with Farmar, Kobe, Luke, LO, and Bynum playing the last part of the first quarter and then Sasha replacing Kobe at the start of the second quarter to complete the bench mob.

    I understand that his could all change if Phil does indeed shake up the rotations and Farmar ends up being the odd man out. However that does not change my initial point that Bynum could come back as a starter and still see a lot of minutes with the subs just because of the way Phil rotates the trio of LO/Pau/Bynum.

  67. Didn’t Reed say he was gonna be at the CSUN game? We will need a first hand account as soon as you can give one Reed.

  68. Wow what a fight the matadors are puttin up.

  69. Wow. Sallie was the only thing that kept Memphis in that. Ten threes. That kid deserves the game ball.

  70. CS Northridge may have not won, but they sure put up a good fight.

  71. For about five minutes in the middle of the second half CSN played some of the most insane basketball I’ve ever seen.

  72. I’m wondering if the main problem with the bench is that they are a collection of role players who are being forced out of their roles.

    Farmar is a good penetrate and dish point guard, but he needs another scorer to pass to; he’s at best a gambling defender who relies on rotation help, which in this lineup has either been late or not there.

    Luke is a playmaker/passer but when the ball gets stuck as it does with this lineup, he has to turn into a scorer, which is not his strong suit (being incredibly politic here).

    Sasha is a good on-ball defender (or at least an extremely irritating one), but again the rotation has to be there. Offensively, when he’s missing his threes, the rest of his game disappears (though he did make at least one nice move to the basket against Philly … the kind of thing Farmar used to do so well).

  73. The Dude Abides March 19, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Both my undergrad and graduate degrees are from CSUN. That was awesome. I felt like turning the TV off when they went ahead by six with 11 minutes left to play so I could just say that they won (nananana icanthearyou).

    73. Nick, that five minute stretch was amazing! If that one Memphis guy didn’t have a career game, the Matadors may have won. Another guy named Sallie who I just can’t stand.
    ———————————–
    Matrix: [holds Sally upside-down over a cliff by his leg] Listen, loyalty is very touching. But it is not the most important thing in your life right now! But what IS important is gravity! I have to remind you Sally, this is my weak arm!

    Sally: You can’t kill me Matrix! You need me to find your daughter!

    Matrix: Where is she?

    Sully: I don’t know. But Cooke knows, I’ll take you to where I’m supposed to meet him!
    Matrix: But you won’t.

    Sully: Why not?
    Matrix: [holds the hotel key he stole from Sully that Cooke is staying at] Because I already know. Remember, Sally, when I promised to kill you last?

    Sally: That’s right, Matrix! You did!

    Matrix: I lied.

    [Matrix releases Sally, who falls to his demise]

    Cindy: What happened to Sally?

    Matrix: I let him go.
    ———————————–
    OK, technically that character’s name in Commando was Sully, but everyone, especially Arnold, pronounced it Sally. I swear.

  74. 75. Dude Abides- I feel for you brother. You guys played a hell of a game against a tough team. Props to that Matadors.

    Meanwhile, Cal/Maryland is shaping up to be a battle also…