Preview & Chat: The Golden State Warriors

Kurt —  March 19, 2009
NBA: Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers

Records: Lakers 53-14 (1st in the West) Warriors 24-43 (10th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.7 (1st in league) Warriors 109.5 (10th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (6th in league) Warriors 113.0 (28th of 30)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Warriors Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Marco Belinelli, Brandan Wright, Ronny Turiaf

Lakers notes: While in recent posts we’ve railed against the bench play of late, there is one thing from yesterday’s comments that bears repeating — Phil Jackson does not have a lot of options right now.

Until Andrew Bynum comes back, he has to stick with pretty much this front line rotation, and if winning is the goal then that means lots of minutes for Gasol.

In the playoffs, with long rests between games and long commercial breaks during them, he can limit the minutes of Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar and give those minutes to Fish and Kobe, but in the regular season with 10 of 15 games remaining on the road, you need the bench guys to play. He can’t yet tighten his rotations.

But when the games matter, if the bench is still playing like this, some people are going to see a lot less of the court.

On a separate note, you can see some Lakers players NCAA brackets right here. The fact I have Gonzaga going farther than Adam Morrison does concerns me greatly.

The Warriors Coming In: No Jamal Crawford tonight, not because he is injured but because Don Nelson is brilliant. Or just nuts. But the coach is sitting him. Bottom line is it means more minutes for Marco Belinelli and Anthony Morrow. On the other hand, Stephen Jackson will be back and should be on his best behavior — since he already has 16 technical fouls this season, every one earn gets him another game suspended without pay. Of course, the question of what is Jackson’s best behavior is an open one.

I like Monta Ellis, and to be honest I think the Warriors have a roster that is not as bad as its record. I like the athleticism of Kelenna Azubuike. Anthony Randolph could be good. Corey Maggette may be overpaid but his a good scorer to have coming off the bench. Andris Biedrins is quality, when healthy. They are overpaying for a few of these guys, and there are too many shooters who don’t care about defense, but the roster has the pieces in place to start to build something.

But this is a franchise that is at the top of my list right now of how not to run a front office. Everyone needs to be on the same page — the GM getting players that fit the coach’s system, with everyone from the owner on down buying into that system. But that’s not what is going on in the Bay Area at all — the GM and coach are in a power struggle, and player/personnel moves struggle because of it. Mullin wanted to offer Barron Davis a three-year deal to come back, the team president shot it down.

Mullin is going to be out soon. But that leaves Don Nelson, who has seemed more mad than genius lately, running the show and dictating front office moves. Is that how you improve the franchise?

Keys To The Game: Transition defense. Transition defense. Transition defense. The Lakers gave up 68 points in the first half the last time they played the Warriors. Transition defense. Transition defense. Transition defense.

Part of transition defense, however, is not getting sucked into the style and tempo the other team wants to play at. It means not launching threes 5 seconds into the shot clock or pushing the break when nothing develops. It means making smart decisions. I’m looking at you, Jordan Farmar. The Lakers need to dictate the tempo of this game.

Turnovers will also be key. The Lakers lost to Philly because they could not hold on tot the ball and that meant easy baskets in transition for the Sixers. Do that tonight and the Lakers are in another dogfight. Hold on to the ball and it should be a comfortable win.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start here with the TNT crew. I suppose a Charles Barkley Drinking Game would be in bad form.

Kurt

Posts

216 responses to Preview & Chat: The Golden State Warriors

  1. why anyone would stick crawford on the inactive list – not bench him, but make him inactive – in favor of marco freaking bellinelli is beyond me. Isn’t a coach supposed to play his best players more in order to win?

    Don Nelson is seriously squandering any accrued goodwill from his cinderella playoff run a couple of years ago.

  2. The Anthonys Morrow and Randolph are legit though. Morrow can be an unconscious shooter and Randolph at times looks like Lamar Odom 2.0.

  3. Kurt, nice run by CSUN today. Memphis is tough, that defense is really good.

    Golden State has the most talented wing players in the league. Of course they completely abandoned the other 3 positions, but there 2-3’s are really good.

    I feel really bad for Biedrins. He is lethally efficient and probably gets no plays called for him.

    Don Nelson, definitely more mad than genius this year.

  4. “Part of transition defense, however, is not getting sucked into the style and tempo the other team wants to play at…The Lakers need to dictate the tempo of this game.”

    Seriously, I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but we’ve happily and willingly played at other teams’ tempo pretty much all season. Tonight will be no different. I also don’t see a lot of defense tonight. It’s going to be a barn burner. Good thing we score easy as breathing.

  5. Hasn’t Nellie been randomly ‘resting’ players for a few weeks now? The words ‘tanking’ and ‘lottery’ come to mind…

  6. Nelson has killed this team this season. He’s been more maniacally hands on with the personell than I’ve ever seen before. He’ll decide he’s going with a youth moment one minute, then all his vets the next. He’ll call Anthony lazy and demand that he be traded (which would be a monumental mistake), then suddenly decide he wants to go big and tell crawford to opt out because they’re going to play Anthony more.

    There is no consistency and I have a hard time believing Nelson is doing any of it in an attempt to win games.

    Look at Crawford- he’s a Laker killer. The first half of the last game, and the second half of the game in NY last year, Crawford torched the Lakers. So he sits him. What is that?

    Nellie has no plan for a GM to help out with. I almost think this entire year was an effort to undermine mullins and wrest more control. Either that or he’s drunk.

  7. What, take a shot everytime someone says “turrrrible”?

  8. the other Stephen March 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    let’s do our job tonight and help nellie ruin his team.

  9. Long road trip coming up, would be nice to get a victory to get us going. Glad I couldn’t watch the Sixers game, probably would’ve resulted in something electronic in my vicinity being broken.

  10. And to think, I thought Stephon Marbury was the real a-hole of the NBA. Nobody has anything on Don Nelson right now.

    The Warriors are a good team. They have a bad coach and a team that don’t want to fire Nelson because they don’t want to pay the extension he just received. Yikes!

    Transition defense will definitely be the key to the game. I suspect we will see a lot more of Shannon Brown down the stretch because of his energy off the bench.

  11. Kurt, you’ll be glad to know that CSUN and Cal didn’t lose in every bracket:

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/alternative-march-madness-strategies/

  12. I am 100% on board with more Marco Bellineli an no Jamal Crawford. Marco sucks, and Crawford kills Fish.

  13. I was watching some of that Hou-Det game last night and it was really weird seeing Von Wafer make good play after good play. I know he is having a good year, but it really drove home a point about the bench (outside of the injuries/trades that have changed roles and dynamics). Bench players in the NBA are like relivers in MLB. One year, a team might have a great bullpen, but that same bullpen may not pitch well the next season. Guys like Sasha and Von Wafer are so similar to relivers in that one year may be a career year, but the next could be a sub-par season. I guess thats why some guys are starters and others are bench players.

  14. for sasha, it seems more like CYS: “contract year syndrome”.

  15. Hey guys,

    Living in Oz I get to see stuff all games (cause I work during game time and work doesn’t look kindly to streaming games) so I’m living off everybody’s opinions and judging from that.

    But is it me, or has The Farmar not been as effective this season, or more so, of late. End of last season, I was thinking about him starting instead of Fish, but this year I wouldn’t dare. Is it worth playing Brown off the bench instead of Farmar to blow some wind up his backside? Not like Brown needs to know the Triangle as the second unit isn’t out there to do that…..

    And what’s the go with not going inside to Pau in the 2nd halves? From what I’m reading, his killing it in the 1st half, then barely seeing the ball after that but shooting 70%+. Yeah I know Kobe said that teams key in on Pau after a good start, but 2-3 shots in the 2nd half doesn’t seem right.

  16. The Dude Abides March 19, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Kurt, what bugs me is that Mbenga is getting very few meaningful minutes in the second half. I know Phil feels more comfortable with mixing DJ in with the starters, so why not bring him in at the 8-minute mark of the first and third quarters and let Pau rest until the start of the 2nd and 4th? He certainly can’t hurt us any worse than Jordan’s been hurting us. While the guy might not be very competent in the triangle, he can block shots, rebound, catch and dunk, and shoot the open jumper. He’s also not afraid to tell our guards and wings to stay with their men instead of collapsing on the penetrator, because he will be there to defend the rim. If he plays those eight minutes in place of Pau, that can limit Pau’s minutes to a max of 40. And if he plays well during those eight minutes and the team increases the lead, then Phil can stretch his playing time even more to give Pau more rest.

  17. I am hoping that this game against the Warriors will be a good cure for what is ailed the Lakers in their last game. We have another team that is gonna wanna get up and down, so guys that have been catching the brunt of fan rage (i.e. Farmar) are going to get some looks. Hopefully the bench can get some easy looks, good stops, and bust out of this little funk.

    I am pretty excited to get an extended look at Anthony Morrow. In the Warriors games I watched so far this season he hasn’t gotten much burn, but I remember thinking he could be a hell of a scorer when he was at Tech last season. Also, I think Monta Ellis is one of the most fun players in the NBA. This should be a good one.

  18. On a side note, I need ‘Nova, Gonzaga, Texas, and Michigan to win to stay perfect so far on my bracket. Get it done boys.

  19. Nick-Morrow has had some nice moments this year. Dude has a nice looking shot and can get it off over pretty much anyone. Defintley a nice pick-up for the Dubs.

  20. Nellie has always been the most-overrated coach in the NBA.

    He plays guys who play up-tempo, which is fun for fans, but he’s never won jack in the playoffs no matter where he’s been. And really, what else matters?

    The Warriors are like their neighbors, the Raiders. A bad owner can undermine any success others can build around, and over time bad owners will kill a team’s chances.

    Two years ago this team was sitting pretty. Now look at them. Yet if the Lakers keep up their recent indifferent ways, this could be just like last March when they took a mini-vacation and dropped home games to the Bobcats and Warriors.

    Time to right the ship, fellas.

  21. O God. I’m supposed to root for Portland tonight aren’t I? Ugh. It feels so dirty though.

    I hope they win, but on some terrible, controversial call that Henry at Truehoop has to spend the next week analyzing to the nth degree and questioning the integrity of the entire league’s refs, like the GSW game last year.

  22. Silly question coming: Why do Laker fans seem to love or be really interested in the Warriors? Is this a California thing? As a non-Cali fan, I would expect a standard hatred for all other NBA teams in the state. It seems like only Sacramento gets that pleasure…while the Clips get indifference.

  23. 22 Clutch824- I think that it’s a Cali thing coupled with the fact that the Warriors are a scrappy, underdog’ish kind of team these days who play a really fun up and down game. It’s just a team that’s hard to root against.

  24. Nelly isn’t playing Crawford to try to get him to opt out. He threatened to get him traded in the offseason, but Isiah is no longer in the league to take on players like Crawford; there’s zero interest for him. Also, no way he leaves $20 million on the table. I doubt he’d get more than midlevel money in this market.

    For Belinelli though, Matt is spot on. He’s incredible unathletic. Ariza should run circles around him and get open looks all night (as presumably, Jackson will guard Kobe).

    As for the Warriors, they should be way better with this roster. It doesn’t help that they don’t play a lick of defense, but they should be somewhat near to .500. Give them a lottery pick next year and they might make some noise, but if Nelly is even half as bad as he’s been this year, they might not progress at all.

  25. Sacto hate goes back to when the Kings were good and LA pounded them down. The feelings were first from Sacto to the Lakers and then we reacted. Golden State has always been a fun team to watch – from the Rick Barry days – and the Clips are the Clips so you really can’t get too excited about them.

  26. I just wanted to let all Lakers fans know that there is a 1987 Lakers Championship ring on eBay-looks nice!

  27. Gonzaga and ‘Nova both turned it back on when they needed to. I love march madness and all, but I am ready to take a little break from college to watch the big boys play a game. Hopefully the Lakers don’t disappoint.

  28. 20 – Chris J wrote on March 19, 2009 at 4:59 pm “Nellie has always been the most-overrated coach in the NBA.” He’s certainly over rated and has been for years.

    The Warriors are like their neighbors, the Raiders. A bad owner can undermine any success others can build around, and over time bad owners will kill a team’s chances.” Yes, true.

  29. I think the cavs are ovverrated ive watched the last like 5 or 6 games and every one has come down to the last 3 minutes of the game and every one they have gotten A LOT of help. Lebron seems to have a whole different set of rules than everyone else

  30. Brandon Roy for 3 anyone?

  31. This Blazers-Cavs game is a total win-win. If the Blazers win, the Cavs are tied again with us for the best record in the league, and HCA is in play again. If the Cavs win, I get to throw it in the faces of all my friends from Portland.

  32. Oh great, Cavs game going to OT… :(

  33. any links for tonights game…my directv is down – bummer….

  34. 17-11 warriors…

  35. 5 offensive rebounds already

  36. @ school studying for finals. I just want to know, why have we shot so few free throws. Are the Lakers settling for jumpers or are the refs letting the teams play it out?

  37. Looks like the lineup change that Phil made was bringing in Sasha for Ariza rather than bringing in Luke. He then brought in Luke for Kobe at the two minute mark. Not the big change that many would hope for (removing Farmar from the rotation) but at least he’s trying to get Sasha more minutes with Kobe.

  38. Come on,Jordan…

  39. pretty much somes up farmar;s form

  40. Just when I was ready to like Jordan (if only momentarily), he misses an alley-oop with no one near him…

  41. yeah that sequence really sums up the enigma of Farmar – the awful, awful missed PUJIT 3 that fueled their fast break, followed by a nice lay-in and one.

  42. How about you guys keep in mind that Jordan is 6-2; It’s a miracle he can dunk. And that lob was way too high. Get off his back.

  43. That was an Horry-level flop from Jordan

  44. This would be a great game to rest Pau. This is one of the few teams where Lamar or Powell would suffice at the 5.
    I really do think that this will come back to bite us if Phil doesn’t get Pau in the 36-37 range (at least) in a week at the most. My biggest fear is that Pau will run out of gas at some key point in the playoffs.

    On a side note, despite their awful “We Know Drama” commercials, the playoffs on TNT excites me 100 times more than hearing the “playoffs on ABC.”

    Phil looked oddly grandfatherly in that interview. Where’d the intimidation go?

  45. Kobe back earlier and earlier lately, thanks to the bench.

  46. I want a big, heaping serving of some Mbenga right about now…

  47. And by the way, Jordan got a bad pass on that ally-oop, but he should have adjusted and laid it in not tried to dunk.

  48. Did Stockton just confuse Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar (said Farmar was posting up)? I mean, they do look a lot a like.

  49. Reggie, Mullin isn’t part of Golden State’s future in any fashion whatsoever.

  50. My first look at Brandan Wright = very impressed.

    Wright, Randolph, and Biedrins could be a force of a frontcourt in a few years, if they had a coach better at development (although they are ideally suited to Nelson’s uptempo system).

  51. Stockton just did it again! He can’t tell Luke and Jordan apart!

  52. 49 – Stockton throughout this entire game has given me the general impression he hasn’t watched basketball closely recently. Just some generalizations, not initially knowing the names or games of some subs, things like that.

  53. 49

    He just confused them again when Walton hit that 3.

  54. It’s funny to hear Reggie talking as if the Warriors have some kind of plan, even mentioning Rowell, Mullin, and Nellie together as if they’re some kind of united front. That organisation is going nowhere fast, and the only reason they’re playing the youngsters is to improve lottery positioning.

  55. I was young then, but it seems Stockton was a million times better announcer when he was doing games for CBS

  56. they keep on talking about Nellie needs to “figure out what he’s got” for next year in terms of personnel. my question is, why the hell doesn’t he know yet? he’s 65 games into a season, with God knows how many practices! He can’t figure out who’s good or not and who plays well with whom?

  57. There was the play just now when Jordan brought the ball up past mid-court and blew by his defender, only Josh Powell was waiting in the post and completely blocked Farmar’s path to the lane. This is what I keep saying about the offense not being built for Farmar. If Powell waits for Farmar to decided whether to drive or not, Farmar would’ve gotten either an easy layup or an assist off a dunk. Yet, the staff probably tells Powell, and whoever is in that position, to go set up in the post immediately at the start of every possession, which totally ruins Farmar’s early possession driving potential.

  58. I am not pleased with the lack of Anthony Morrow. Also, I am not pleased with the Lakers defense. That’s really all I got so far.

  59. It’s a bit worrying that we keep talking about resting Pau, but the trend seems to be that he plays more every game. And like Kurt pointed out: Kone gets back in earlier as well.

  60. I like Shannon on Monta if he focuses on D.

  61. Did anyone hear the Bynum tidbit that Stockton mentioned? He said that PJ said Bynum won’t even practice for 3-4 weeks. Is that a confirmed story or was he just speaking nonsense?

  62. Is it me or is Kobe settling for a lot of Jumpers lately?

  63. when you’re getting murdered and not getting a call, you’d settle for jumpers too…

  64. im surprised to see us so flat after the philliy loss

  65. Shannon seems very tentative in our offense, I expect that to vanish once he has a summer and training camp to grow comfortable in the system.

    Also, while he has great athleticism and a decent first step, he’s not a strong finisher. It seems as though he goes airborne a step too early on a lot of his drives; one more step and a softer touch might help him finish.

  66. This is a little late, but another reason to like Golden State goes by the name of Ronny Turiaf.

    Warriors are playing surprisingly good transition D… or are we not running the breaks well? We don’t seem to be getting much out of them.

  67. Matt,

    He’s supposed to begin drills tomorrow.

    See here: http://www.dailynews.com/ci_11947013?source=rss

  68. And of course Phil makes me look like a fool by resting Pau the remainder of the half:D

  69. DJ has been Mbarrassing in this first half.

  70. lol I enjoy this lack of a sideline reporter, forcing Fratello and Reggie to sprint to catch up with a player.

    I must say it’s nice not to hear Michelle Tafoya’s patented “What does this game mean to you?” but ESPN usually has better interviewers. Ric Bucher asks surprisingly interesting and not-bland questions, but he doesn’t get much run.

  71. kobe’s not looking like his usual self

  72. I wish they would get rid of sideline reporters altogether. The only useful information I ever get from them is what type of injury someone has picked up and whether or not they’ll return to the game.

  73. lmao EJ asked them a question last week, Charles had to take a week to actually watch basketball, and now he comes back with the answer.

    Would anyone in 2002 have predicted Chris Webber would be this good as a studio guy? IMO he’s the best TNT guy now. Great insight, combining overall themes with detailed plays/strategy, plus charisma, and he can be a pretty funny guy. What I wouldn’t give to have TNT host the Finals…

  74. 63,64- Kobe’s been settling for jumpers all year. Yes he gets mugged relentlessly but still.
    What do you think PJ was saying to sasha when he took him out?

  75. I missed the Cavs-Blazers game. Did Lebron James really sit on Roy’s shoulder at the end of regulation and no foul was called? What??

    This superstar treatment is getting out of control.

  76. 75

    The foul was called, that’s how Portland tied the game.

  77. Joel – Thanks, that makes a lot more sense. I thought the score was tied before the shot and was like…how could something like that happen?

  78. i agree Kobe doesn’t get calls like most superstars, but I think part of the reason is because he complains even when he’s not fouled.

  79. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but Kobe does get “superstar” calls. Not just when he is fouled-ever notice that every time a ball goes out of bounds and Kobe is near it, he turns and points for Laker ball and starts marching that way, and most of the time the refs just give us the call?

  80. well UCLA escapes…

  81. thats better

  82. Kobe definitely complains a lot, but Pau screams on every. Single. Shot. It’s absolutely uncanny.

  83. That was great defense by Collison to make Maynor take a very hard shot.

  84. 72,

    I really think having Magic was a stabilizing presence that helped Kenny rein in Charles. Without him, Earnie and Kenny can’t stop Charles from running the show. Magic always brought them back on topic.

    This year they just feel a lot worse. I do agree that Webber is by far the best studio guy in that room.

  85. Magic is a fantastic studio guy and analyst, a million times better than he was for NBC back in the day, which is a testament to Magic’s constant self-improvement. Remember he couldn’t hit a jumper to save his life when he came into the league…

  86. They have looked much more inspired on defense in the second half.

  87. Let’s not fall in love with the 3 here, guys …

  88. Odom really shouldn’t be shooting 3s unless the shot clock is running down…

  89. Other Joel, there are times I feel like you and I must operate as part of some sort of hive mind … that’s twice this thread we’ve been posting essentially the same comment at the same time! Must be the name.

  90. Walton with the dunk!

  91. I didn’t know Walton could dunk the ball.

  92. Maggette is cementing his position as the worst passer in the league.

    All his career people have been criticizing Maggette for having a score-first-second-and-third mentality. Now I see that the poor guy was actually doing his team a favor by not passing.

    LUKE JUST THREW DOWN ON RONNY…..holy……WOW

    I didnt think i’d see Luke throw down on anyone

  93. Did Luke Walton just do what I think he did? Hide the women and children!!!!

  94. Golden State is hurting themselves with way too many turnovers. Their defense isn’t good enough for long enough to absorb all those extra looks.

  95. 84 – the defense has looked pretty solid, but GS is helping us by playing sloppy and turning the ball over.

    Kobe is firing away… Pau is passing out of the post and not always getting it back when he repositions.

    Luke with the driving dunk!

  96. WOW mama there goes that man!!!

  97. In contrast, Kobe lays it in politely on his breakaway attempt. The world has truly gone mad!

  98. the passing of gsw is horrendus

  99. 87

    I think every Laker fan in the world thought the exact same thing when Odom took that 3…

  100. i never ever thought i would see a luke walton facial

  101. walton is dirt nasty.

  102. I am happy for Luke, but so so so sad for poor Ronny, nobody deserves to be on the business end of that poster.

  103. Fisher PUJIT!

  104. I would just like to point out that the Warriors still only have six points through the first nine minutes of this quarter (almost nine)…

  105. Mbenga or Powell. Now. Pau must rest.

  106. Fisher with the FUJIT for 3!

  107. These refs are waiting for limbs to be broken before they blow the whistle.

  108. I wish Fisher would just focus on shooting spot up 3’s which he’s great at doing. Is there a way to hypnotize Fisher into thinking the key is booby trapped so he doesn’t drive anymore?

  109. The more I watch this game, the more I realize Dick Stockton is a horrible play-by-play guy not in his old age. I loved him in the 90’s with Hubie Brown, but he’s lost it completely.

  110. this is NOT the way to close the quarter

  111. For shame, Kobe.

  112. Kobe, that was a horrible, horrible time to screw up a dunk.

  113. Herrrreeee wweeeee gooooo aggggaaaaiiiiinnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This really is too frustrating for words. I am willing to waive off a game here or there as a fluke. This has not been a game here or there. I am starting to come around on the idea that this is a problem that is gonna hurt us.

  114. Can’t really blame this let down on the bench.

  115. farmar turnover. bid leaf disapearing where have i seen this before

  116. Now Kobe is missing dunks. Yikes.

    110

    At least he has Reggie and the Czar to bail him out with their brilliant insight.

    Oh wait…

  117. I like to know what the lakers +/- is when Odom is off the court. It seems like as soon as he goes out the game the past couple weeks the Lakers offense falls apart…

  118. Well Lamar leads the Lakers in +/- so I’d imagine it decreases a fair amount. Go to 82games if you want to know the exact numbers.

  119. This lineup is NOT built for rebounding, but still, gotta do a better job of boxing out.

  120. Brandan Wright vs. Luke is bad for us.

  121. That shouldn’t count.

  122. Lmao Phil Jackson has a way of making other people look like fools / feel like crap just by grinning that I’m-9-rings-superior grin. I love it.

    He looked too grandfatherly earlier. Good to see the old Phil back.

  123. Did Reggie really just ask Phil “Can you get Kobe going in the 4th quarter?”

  124. Watching Sasha with a hot hand is a great sight to see.

  125. Oh, Sasha. Just as he heats up, a dumb foul like that…

  126. Sasha has been throwing up NBA Jam style fireballs these last few minutes. Nice to see a reminder of what that looks like. I would love to see the Lakers pull away here and have the bench play some extended minutes in this fourth.

  127. yeah, phil is far and away the best coach to interview during games.

    Sasha’s doing a great job of getting his feet set and squaring up before each shot tonight.

  128. I have been waiting for this Machine for so long. As a shooter personally, there was little I loved more last year than watching Sasha go off like this night after night.

    Just pray that this is a turning-the-corner moment for Sasha, not lightning-in-a-bottle.

  129. Sasha is hot.

  130. Machine not broken. Machine in fine working order. Machine need more shots.

  131. I hope this becomes Sasha’s slump breaking game

  132. wiseolgoat,

    I don’t know, Pop comes pretty close. I think it’s a dead heat between the two in terms of shooting wisecracks at the interviewers.

    And Sasha is hot. Hopefully this snaps him out of his slump.

  133. lets hope this is a sign of things to come for sasha

  134. Pau looks so tired…

  135. Popovich is awesome. You can tell he feels the same way I do about in-game sideline interviews. I love when he just answers “Yes” or “I don’t know” and leaves the reporter hanging.

  136. Reggie Miller makes me miss the Van Gundy/Jackson duo.

  137. Have we ever determined if Lamar is balding beneath that shaved dome?

  138. Oh, here we go. Classic Nelly-ball. A 6’8” guy at center and all shooters.

  139. 140

    I agree, and that’s pretty hard to do.

  140. yeah Popovich to me is a close second, except sometimes he’ll just deadpan a bland two word response and I can’t tell if he’s doing it to be funny, to make a point, or if he’s feeling just that boring at that particular moment.

  141. I am machine
    Why do you doubt me?

  142. Kurt, let’s not be crazy here. Let’s just say both Miller and Mark Jackson make me appreciate my mute button a lot more.

    I love how much fun Odom has on the court. Either that or he’s baked.

  143. Lamar is definitely, definitely balding beneath that shiny dome of his. I’m sure however anytime he feels insecure about it he goes online and takes a look at his bank account.

  144. Goodness gracious, Dick Stockton is awful. Did he really just forget that best-of-5 series no longer exist?

  145. Monta burned Jordan there…

  146. I love Kobe, but I would like to think that even most of the chanting fans know that he isn’t the MVP this season…

  147. (unless, maybe, they mean the finals MVP)

  148. we need to run the offense through pau every single time down

  149. Well he does have the trophy until you-know-who takes it from him.

  150. im pretty sure jordan cant guard anyone

  151. After finally getting to witness one of our letdowns, I have to say it doesn’t seem like we necessarily lack a killer instinct (in terms of relaxing when up). More, we get away from what was working well. We don’t stop working hard, but we stop playing smart. A lot of quick 3, contested jumpshots by Kobe, and more individual plays/isos. That’s what got us in trouble tonight. Not necessarily a relaxation or complacency.

  152. I’m surprised to see Jordan in while Fisher sits this late in the game. The way this game has gone, I’d rather see Fisher, or even Sasha in.

  153. They are not big enough to guard LO and Pau right now.

  154. another 4th quarter collapse?

  155. Clutch 3 by Ariza, but how did things even get to this point?

  156. The ref just set a pick on Kobe as he was going for that steal and it ends up in a bucket. Tough break.

    I love that Ariza had hit like forty threes in his career before this season. He deserves to be in the conversation for most improved player, in my humble opinion. And he’s pretty clutch!

  157. And that about seals it unless Odom clunks both.

  158. i really cant believe this has happened again

  159. I hear a lot of griping about Jordan, but I thought everybody looked pretty sloppy on both ends of the court. I mean, the last couple turn overs came from Pau and Odom. Also, it hasn’t just been Monta Ellis getting to the rack. Farmar is getting a little too bruised up I still say.

  160. Why are we forcing passes so much? The only defense Golden State plays is in the passing lanes.

  161. Like how I magically made turnovers two words? I’m sick like that.

  162. Kobe’s decision-making in the 4th was questionable again…

  163. has kobe had such a bad couple of games in years

  164. Nick I agree. Farmar has become the new scapegoat. Yeah he got burned by Ellis, but Ellis is too quick for almost everyone in the league. And everyone was playing poorly at the end there not just Farmar.

  165. I’m just glad that the two most important offensive possessions in the game was Kobe feeding it to Lamar on the block and letting him post up the smaller Azubuike. Both times Lamar made the right play to get us 5 points and (finally) seal the deal. Kobe could have forced it even more than he could have, but he wised up to the mismatch.

  166. Any Fisher related reason Jordan closed out that game?

    I saw Farmar trying to defend 3-1 way too many times that game. Ridiculous Lakers can look that bad and still win. I think Kobe can use some rest – too many turnovers recently. Maybe Jury Duty messed him up.

  167. I don’t see why Fisher didn’t close the game, but it might be Phil giving Farmar a chance to redeem himself by playing well in crunch time, although he still played pretty poorly.

  168. Oh, God, listening to Charles harp on the Lakers’ lack of “killer instinct” and not having Bynum is almost as bad as the announcing we heard throughout the game.

  169. I think the lakers are way more talented than the cavs, but they lack the same type of basketball iq as a lot of the cavs players

  170. I personally am taking the opinion that everyone doubting this team is a good thing. Maybe that whole “nobody believed in us” will galvanize the team for the playoffs.

    7 game road trip will be interesting.

  171. Crunch-time, 4th quarter, 2 minutes to go, Warriors have come all the way back from down 18 to cut the lead to 3. The Lakers need a big bucket; where do we go:

    a.) Kobe-Gasol PNR on the wing with Lamar flashing at the free throw line?
    b.) Gasol in the post?
    c.) The Kobe-Iso that we all love and hate?
    d.) Kobe-Gasol PNR at the top of the key?

    Answer: Hidden choice e.) Lamar Odom post-up.

    Great success, as Lamar throws it in over Corey Maggette’s head. And you know what, I loved it. Loved the play calling at the end, with two huge Lamar post-ups which led to his layup and Ariza’s three. Now for some notes:

    1.) I made a post up above about how Farmar basically got a layup taken away from him by Josh Powell setting up in the post. I really feel our offense ruins Farmar’s style.

    2.) Everyone is whining like hell about Farmar’s defense; I frankly don’t see it. More often then not, I have seen Farmar play perfect system defense, but the big man who is supposed to be covering his back doesn’t show, so Farmar’s man gets a dunk and everyone piles on him. Yes, he’s not the best defender, but it’s not like he doesn’t defend, Corey Maggette-style.

    3.) As for Sasha, he got hot in the late third, early fourth quarters, but there really wasn’t much to it. He was running the same plays, off the same sets, in the same positions; the shots just happened to go in instead of clanking off long. His form looked the same, his extension was the same, the only difference was the result. Yet, hopefully this gets his confidence up and he starts busting out of this season-long slump (at exactly the right time, I might add).

    4.) Seems to me like Pau was a very deceptive +15 and Kobe was a very blatant -3. I don’t feel like Pau’s performance was the best of the whole team, but he benefited from the team playing excellent team defense when he happened to be in the game, but not necessarily because of him. Likewise, I felt Kobe played a bad game, making some pretty bad decisions and roaming a little too much on defense.

    5.) Our shooting percentages, 50%, 50%, 80%, in FG, 3P, and FT. So why was the game so close? Answer, 22 turnovers.

    Overall, good win against a volatile Golden State team. And Josh Powell still needs some dunking practice.

  172. 174. beyondblue- not a bad point. I also think that we’re suffering from some “grass is always greener” syndrome at the moment. Sure we may be a game behind Cleveland at the moment, but it’s not like they’re destroying their opponents like they did at the start of the season either. They struggled to get by the Knicks on Sunday, the game before that the Kings took them to overtime, earlier that week they needed a huge rally to get by the Clippers. Meanwhile, the Celtics are injured and limping their way to the playoffs. It could just be that a little bit of a let down at this point is inevitable after leading the show out west from ticker to ticker. I still love our chances.

  173. In reference to Craig’s question to LeBron whether he should be on the All-Defense team, we should scrap the entire voting system if he doesn’t make first team.

    And on another note, the All-NBA voting will be interesting. Paul, Kobe, Wade, LeBron, Howard, and Duncan are all worthy first team candidates, but someone has to move to the second team unless we end up with a tie. I think it will be Duncan, but there’s an off-chance that Kobe will be moved to the second team. Pau also has a legitimate shot at third team.

  174. By my calculations, the lakers magic # is now 6 to win the west (since we own the tiebreaker against SA). If we somehow managed to go 6-8, that would put us at 60-22, which would make us tied with the spurs (pre-tiebreaker) if they closed 15-0.

    Anything wrong with my math?

  175. re: Pau yelling on every trip down the floor — Maybe it’s not complaining. it’s more like a Rafael Nadal athletic grunt when he gets involved real physically.

    re: Farmar — I’ve always rooted for him being a fellow bruin. this year his production has been down, and many of his in-game decisions have been questionable, at best. the truth is he just needs to relax, read the game and follow its flow… this is where he has his greatest success. Feeding the fastbreak, reading the defense in a half-court set and executing the offense. What Jordan has (like most of our bench) is some kind of psychological block, perhaps brought on by his lower numbers, that is preventing him from feeling the flow of the game and executing like he’s capable of.

    so where does that leave Lakers fans? on the outside looking in, like always — hoping Jordan can overcome himself and provide his team with a true spark off the bench in the postseason.

    like others have said, I don’t think he did too badly staying in front of one of the most explosive PGs in the league in Monte Ellis. Farmar also recorded 7 assists, while taking only 4 shots of his own. I personally really dig that stat. it shows a true team mentality.

  176. 177.

    Uhhhh…..theres no way Kobe won’t be voted to the 1st team. Out of those 6 players, Paul will probably drop to the 2nd team.

    I didn’t watch the game today because I have finals to study for, but the Lakers have been playing like this for the past 2-3 weeks. It’s rather frustrating. You would think after suffering one of the worst losses in NBA Finals history, they wouldn’t let up but they still do.

    I definitely think it’s a mental thing and not because we’re missing bynum or we’re “not tough enough” (as Barkeley puts it….i still love Barkeley though). The Lakers only get up when they face another strong contender (see the 1st quarter against the Spurs last week) but let their guard down when they think the game is in the bag.

    Thankfully, there’s still a few weeks before the playoffs even start to fix this.

  177. Missed the game but read the FB&G comments and some of the post-game talk, sounds like the last game we played except we won this time. Zephid, great breakdown for me to read at the end, only six more wins huh, great.

  178. Anyone who still gives any credibility to Hollingers Stat-o-matic, check this out:

    As of this moment, Hollinger gives Phoenix a 1.1 percent chance of winning the title, exceeding the combined chances of Mia, Phila, Det and Chicago (the 5-8 seeds in the east).

    Insane in the membrane. Insane in the brain.

  179. Did you guys hear how barkely just destroyed the lakers? Wow its amazing how one or two losses have occurred and now the lakers are the Thunder get a grip people!!

  180. lmao what happened to the cavaliers barely maintaining a lead in the past 4 games or so? i LOVE how no one talks about that…

  181. 184. Jac – I am talking about that brother, check it out, 176. Your side, my side, same side.

  182. 182.. nevermind that.. i read his article on ROTY awards recently.. he gave brook lopez n marc gasol (CENTREs) the nod ahead of mayo and rose (GUARDS).. his reasons: the shoot a higher percentage.. zzzz..

  183. Hollinger is a nice reference to bring you back to earth when you get too carried away watching games, but to even consider that his numbers indicate anything really definitive seems to say more about the reader, than Hollinger.

  184. 182) No, that’s not ridiculous. You have to remember that there are two very strong teams in the East; it is unlikely at this point that anyone other than Cleveland and Boston will make it to the Eastern Finals, let alone get past Cleveland/Boston to the league finals. (Depending on injuries, obviously.) In the West, there is only one very strong teams, so the second spot in the conference Finals is much more “up for grabs”.

  185. Late in the game when we needed a stop, did you notice we switched Farmar off Monta and put Sasha on him? Causing what seemed like Monta’s only missed shot of the final 10 minutes. I’m sure Phil’s reason for keeping Jordan out there instead of Fish was to build him up for future games, but it was still hard to watch him play during the 4th.

    That’s not fair: it was hard to watch the whole team play in the 4th quarter. How many lazy/bad passes did we make that led to easy GS buckets?

    I wonder if Pau is tired. He sat out a huge part of the 4th when he would have had a clear size advantage (though for reasons unknown to any of us, we tend not to go to him in the second half), and when we did get it to him, he was as high as the free throw line. And he came out the last couple plays of the game.

    Closing lineup: Farmar, Vujacic, Kobe, Ariza, Odom. Odd.

  186. Pau had played almost all of the game, by the 4th qtr. He only came out past the middle of the 2nd qtr. Pau is a very wiry individual so he shouldn’t have too much problem with injuries in his career (like Kareem), buy he also can’t play an entire game without seriously wearing down. Last night was about as close to playing an entire game as I have seen this year, up until the 4th qtr. When Pau is winded he can’t contest position as well and his passing starts to become less accurate/crisp. We just can’t use him – or anyone these days – like we used to use Wilt.

  187. 189, don’t forget, GS has Jackson at Center!

  188. 190. Craig,
    I actually thought Phil did a good job of limiting Pau’s minutes last night. If I recall correctly, at the start of the fourth quarter the announcers said that Pau had played 29 minutes. He ended the game with 36, which is not that bad considering in the last four games he played 44, 41, 41, and 43. I understand your sentiment though and agree that we should look to limit Pau’s minutes (as well as Fish’s and Kobe’s) going into the playoffs.

  189. If there’s a faster player in the league than Monta Ellis, I’d like to see some proof. So I’m not going to kill Farmer for not being able to stay in front of him.

    I would have liked to see Ariza take a crack at Ellis more last night. He’s not as quick as Ellis (no one is), but he’s as quick as anybody on our squad, and he has that length (at least 8 inches on Ellis) to bother his shots.

    Good to see the Machine shake off some of the rust. Like everyone else, I hope this wasn’t an anomaly.

    As for March Madness, UCLA squeaked by VCU last night. Great finish, but it really called for Gus Johnson to be the announcer. Dick Enberg’s deadpan call really was anti-climactic. If I had my way, Gus Johnson would call *every* March Madness game. Of course, this would involve cloning, but what are you going to do? :)

  190. Is it really important to limit these guys minutes or is it better to get them playing better ball going into the playoffs? With the break in between games, I think they can handle it.

    PJ continues to hedge his bets on Bynum, so my expectation of him being a magic bullet remains near nil. In other words, if no help is coming, these guys will have to get it done on their own. They can’t use these games to gel by not playing their main guys.

  191. nickthegreat-seems like no one watches basketball on here, haha

    I can’t wait till the playoffs start.

  192. Just to lighten up the tone (and because I got swamped and didn’t get a new post up):

    Who wins a fight between Kyle Korver and Sasha Vujacic?

    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/sports/basketball/Kyle-Korver-vs-Sasha-Vujacic-Who-Ya-Got.html

  193. I call the bout a draw as neither really decides to mix it up in efforts to protect their hair.

  194. If the official statement released was that Bynum would start participating in basketball drills and is hopeful to return before the Playoffs, why is ESPN headlining that he is doubtful to return before the Playoffs?

    I mean, Phil Jackson said he doesn’t *think* Bynum would be in *basketball shape* before the Playoffs, not that he wouldn’t be capable of coming back. Personally, I think the Lakers should bring Bynum back as soon as he is able to play. How else are you going to get back into basketball shape but play basketball?

    Anyone that has played basketball knows that practice/scrimmages/cardio does not equal to playing in actual basketball games. Playing Bynum limited minutes, even just 10, would be beneficial, in my opinion.

  195. Kobe has to be the only superstar ever to get as little respect as he gets from the refs. If you look at the Golden State game, he was mauled so many times in the lane and still got no calls.

  196. 198. Coaches are about the worst people to get injury updates from, they get what they get from the trainer and often second hand from the trainer. My two cents, Phil is trying to take the pressure off Bynum so he doesn’t rush back and not really be ready.

  197. 200. Bynum said that he wanted to start basketball drills as early as today. That he has no problem running and needs to work on lateral movement. I still think that he will be back for the last game or two of the regular season.

  198. 201, I’m more optimistic still. Most doctors say MCL grade 2 rehab is 6-10 weeks, not 8-12, and that’s for us mortals, not for someone who has a trainer working with him every day. I bet he plays versus Houston, assuming of course, he doesn’t have some kind of unforseen setback or reinjury. That would mean 7 regular season games.

  199. This two week period reminds me of a mini version of the “sky is falling” episode that was running daily just before the Christmas game. I’m not convinced that this show of low energy is indicative of anything serious but I am worried about two issues that really amount to the same problem. Kobe and Pau look like they earned a gold and silver medal over the summer. There have been some uncharacteristic mental mistakes by Kobe and Pau seems less effective in the 4th quarter then he is earlier in the game (aside form the Portland game where he just had a bad 1st-4th quarter).

    Seeing how Pop is resting Duncan on back to backs, I wonder if Phil has a similar plan to start resting his stars a bit more. If the Lakers manage to go 5-2 or 6-1 on this trip (dare I hope for a perfect trip?) might we see some of the old tricks that Riley used to get harassed by the league over when he used to rest his players in the week or so before the playoffs?

    Lets not forget that the Dubs handed the Lepers a full fledged beat down right after the Christmas game and the Cavs needed a buzzer beating 3 from LBJ to beat them a few weeks ago. As bad as the Warriors are they can be a difficult bunch of players to put away.

    If Bynum comes back and can log 15-25 effective minutes by the start of the playoffs and if Kobe, Fish and Gasol get some rest, I think we’ll see some dominating play out of the bench come playoff time and the narrative of this time period will be about the Lakers overcoming the grind of a long season. I feel pretty good about that being a highly probable scenario. I am worried about the fatigue factor but the coaches probably have a better read on the situation then I do.

    All that said, it was nice getting Sasha back. Maybe he was getting the Machine 2.0 OS system installed and what we were seeing all season was a loaner built from the parts of Machine 2007.

  200. Kurt – great point. Bynum is probably so amped to return and Phil likely wants to keep him from getting overanxious about it. I think most of us would love to see him play in at least 2-4 games (maybe you rest him on that Sunday Memphis game?) to close out the year so he has a small amount of time to get some type of rhythm. One thing to remember is that if he starts practicing with the team, he will get his timing down with the offense and defense – even if he’s not playing right now. Here’s hoping for his return in the next few weeks, a few games to play and then prepare for the playoffs.

  201. With Bynum- We can hope for what folks have been saying (15-25 mins, rebounding, interior defensive presence), allowing are bench to get deeper and most iportanty get Pau more rest.

    Without Bynum- We will need LO to play like 17,18,19,20 rebound LO, Sasha to play like he did last night…every night, Fish to get those first half flurries of PUJUT’s going and Kobe and Pau to dominate.

    Either way we can win, but with Bynum, we will be asking players to be responsible for roles they are capable of carrying out. Without Bynum, players as a hole are going to have to step up.

  202. agreed kwame a. agreed kurt. i just don’t want to hear anymore bad news right now. i want to see this team hum the way it should and i think bynum has a lot to do with this (re: players stepping up though not as much as say a derrick rose lost from chicago or a shaq lost in phoenix and need i say ginobili coz we are that deep, plain and simple). i am forcefully anticipating a last week comeback and some rest for our starters after a 7-game challenge (our schedule is really playing hard on us now, is there a way to balance out more favorably the streaks of home and road games? alas, should not be the case). bynum will be back and i am all for him off the bench, while ariza is inserted to the starting 5. we have too many playmakers up there so keep luke on the bench to facilitate things. GO LAKERS!

  203. Here’s the rare occasion where I sincerely doubt the intelligence and common sense of a blogger:
    http://www.emptythebench.com/2009/03/17/rudy-fernandez-sergio-rodriguez/

    He wants us to name NBA players after a campaign of torture and ethnic cleansing. Great stuff.

  204. kwame a,
    If Kobe would concentrate on defense, and focus on running the offense through Gasol instead of trying to do too much on his own, the team would do fine. Even without Bynum.

  205. Ex-Without Bynum, LO is critical

  206. The Dude Abides March 20, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    207. NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!!!

    Perhaps he’s referring to the Monty Python version. I don’t believe too many NBA fans are going to be offended by something that happened something like 800 years ago.

  207. Good play from Odom is necessary; it doesn’t have to be great play, if Kobe would focus on Gasol and defense.

  208. 212. After reading and rereading that article, I will never look and think of Odom (and Lamar) in the same way again.

  209. The Dude Abides March 20, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    212, 213. It’s why so many of us here love LO, even though he drives us crazy sometimes. Of all the players on the Lakers, I’ll be the happiest for him if the team wins the championship this season.

  210. 212 – Fantastic article, major props for sharing that.

    Lamar Odom has been with us through the highs and lows. He HAS to be re-signed next year. He makes up the fabric of this team, the character. Who would have thought when he came here 5 years ago that he would become such an integral part of this organization? It’s difficult to imagine a Lakers team without him.

    SI has the best human pieces of any major network.

  211. Bulls preview is up.