Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  March 30, 2009
Lakers-Hawks

UPDATE: Andrew Bynum has a new Q&A up on his site:

Q: Are you coming back this season?
A: Yes I am going to make a return this season. I’m already doing strength and conditioning as well as playing 2 on 2 and 3 on 3, while waiting on the team to return.

Hat tip to Lakers Nation on that one.

————————————————————-

There’s a note in Kevin Ding’s blog at the OC Register that could go a long way toward explaining the Lakers performance in Atlanta — Phil Jackson gave them Saturday off and there was no practice, not even a light one. With an early game Sunday there was no walkthrough.

NBA team’s have full-on practices (like your high school team did) way less than you think. But to go into the aggressive, trapping defense of the Hawks cold, without any preparation, is asking for trouble.

But it also shows where Jackson’s head is — he was worried more about resting players than getting the win. There’s been a lot of fretting about the minutes the starters have had to rack up and the fear that the Lakers could be tired going into the playoffs. What Phil did shows he sees that too, and it shows his priorities are starting to rest the players some and not worry about home court against Cleveland. That may not mean the nights off that some Lakers fans want, but clearly Phil is starting to lighten the load.

• On a separate note, I am not that worried about going into the playoffs with a ton of momentum. I said this in the comments but I think it bears repeating — the playoffs are another season all together. They have their own ebb and flow, and teams will improve during them. Remember last year — the Celitics looked like crap in the first round. And much of the second. Nobody thought they looked like a champion, getting taken seven games twice. How did that end? The playoffs are another animal, all together.

That is not meant to say I think the Lakers need dramatic improvement, but rather a reminder that what is going on mid-April and in June are just simply different. And not easily predictable.

• What I think we are seeing in part with the Lakers is the manifestations of boredom with what is left of the regular season.

• The claims of the NBA fixing games for the Lakers are older than you are.

• Has anyone seen the Jimmy Fallon show? Thoughts?

• With just three games remaining, I am a rather sad 107th in the FB&G NCAA pool — but at least I’m beating Kwame a. He sucks! Your fearless leader is Yamheads, and his champion North Carolina is still alive. (So is mine, I have Uconn, but that is the only Final Four team I got.)

• I had no idea how twitter happy the NBA is.

• Did anybody really think Kobe wasn’t going to play?

Kurt

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61 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Lol is Kobe havin diarrhea before the Atlanta game true??

  2. We match up against Cleveland well. We can win a 7 game series against them without home court advantage. A bigger concern is to make certain we end up with a better record than Boston. That series, if it happens, will be an all out war.

  3. 1. Kobe did get ill, likely a reaction to the drugs given to keep the ankle swelling down. I am not about to claim knowledge of what he did in the bathroom.

    By the way, just added this to the post, the NBA has been fixing games for the Lakers for years, apparently (said sarcastically, before you comment about that):

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/06132008/sports/hawks_vet_claims_fix_vs__lakers_in__69_p_115278.htm

  4. I am fine giving Cleveland HCA, but then Gasol shouldn’t be playing 40+ a night.

  5. I’m 12th in the pool but I only picked 2 out of the 4 final four teams. I think Michigan state beats Ucon and then loses to UNC in the finals.

    HCA is not really that important. It would be nice to have, but the schedule favors Cleveland. I think we can beat Cle in a 7 game series even if they have HCA (despite how dominant they are at home). I think we match up pretty well against them.

  6. Kurt’s right, I am offically the worst Tourney picker ever. I go chalk, cinderallas go deep. I go for sleepers and the top seeds plow through. I really thought North Dakota St. was gonna make a run!

    I feel that more than momentum, health and matchups will dictate how we do in the playoffs. I really hope Drew can play in the first round to get his legs under him and gear up for this run.

  7. Kurt,

    Why dig up that Hawks fix claim now, just because the Lakers played the Hawks yesterday? That Post story you linked to is nearly a year old.

  8. I watch Fallon, and it’s not bad. He’s still figuring the show out, so there are some flat points, but it’s not bad at all. Having The Roots as your house band doesn’t hurt at all either, and even though it’s subtle at times it really improves the show. I’m gonna keep watching.

  9. 7. This was the first time I saw it, I don’t remember it from last year. It made me laugh in the “the more things change, the more they stay the same” kind of way. I don’t take it seriously.

  10. From Drrayeye in the last thread:

    What is most sobering about this loss is that it reflects fundamental problems that are likely to persist into the playoffs.

    1. Bad foul shooting.

    Farmar is less than 60%. Maybe that is the worst in the NBA for guards. Still the rest of the team is less than stellar. Odom’s free throws have been scary mysteries for years, and even Pau Gasol and Kobe have stumbled at times recently. When one considers that Villanova as a team went 22-23 to barely edge Pitt in the NCAA tournament, one sees how critical free throws could become in the playoffs.

    2. Bad judgment.

    Lamar managed to exhibit almost all of his lengendary tendencies in Atlanta yesterday during his 9/9/4 triple single outing: 3 of his patented “Oh no! Dumb” three point shots (Sasha only missed 2); numerous errant passes or incorrect decisions on the fast break; having defensive rebounds pulled away from him and put back for easy baskets; frustration failures on layup after layup gone awry. He was not alone. Kobe had four turnovers, was 1-6 on heavily contested threes, and improvised away from the offensive and defensive plans unnecessarily. Farmar only played 11 minutes, but he managed to rack up a minus 15 during his short stay on the court. It would be too easy to add in examples from Sasha or Josh. Only Luke seems to have remembered how to play basketball recently.

    3. Responding to physical play.

    It hasn’t been just Atlanta. Portland, Charlotte, and Utah have also had success with pressure defenses that included physical fouls on attempted layups. Other teams have had major runs in the fourth quarter by “going physical.”

  11. I agree with #2. I think the Lakers need to try to secure HCA against Boston (and Orlando) but I would rest guys rather than worrying about trying to catch Cleveland, in spite of Cleveland’s phenomenal record at home (yes, I know the Lakers are the only team to win there this year).

    But, if the Lakers and Celtics are in the Finals again, I think having 6 and 7 in LA will really matter.

  12. I’m tied for 9th in the pool but am also the only one to pick MSU to win it all. Come on, Spartans, do it for Magic, do it for my FB&G tee!

    I think it is a tad presumptuous for the Lakers to think they can flip a switch when the only proof of this particular team’s ability to do that versus elite opponents is in regular season games. That said, this team certainly has the personality of Kobe and Phil, where they feel like they’ve been there (even though for anyone outside of Kobe, PJ, and Fish, that “there’ is just what happened last year) and thus don’t have to prove it to themselves. Ack, even typing that makes me a little queasy as it’s not the kind of mentality you want for a team that hasn’t won anything yet. I guess we’ll see if they get un-bored for Friday’s game.

  13. I was about to comment on the show until I realized you were talking about Fallon, not Kimmel.

    Um, Conan has my vote!

  14. Does anyone think Jimmy Fallon still looks nervous out there? Or do you think that’s just his personality – that quirky, slightly shy persona?

  15. I’d have to disagree. If the idea was to rest the players by not having practice, why play the starters heavy minutes?

    A light practice with some work focused on facing defenses the Hawks are likely to throw at them could (maybe) have resulted in a win and not such heavy minutes for the starters.

  16. Uh, Kurt, how do you not make any mention of thee Eldrick Tiger Woods? You dropped the ball on that one. lol.

    Jimmy Fallon Show is ok. I just found out he had a show just this last week. I didn’t know one existed before then. Anyway, I watched one show with John Cena as the guess. It was aiight. He has light years to go before he catches up with Conan and David Letterman.

    Can the playoffs get here any sooner?

  17. I think that if we win the next 3-4 games and secure HCA over Boston, you start giving the bench more shine, hopefully work Bynum into at least 15-20 min per game (he needs to come back pre-playoffs) and maybe even provide Kobe a night off. That said, we can continue to win and get HCA. Cleveland still has 2-3 games left where it is very possible they lose. If we run the table and finished tied…well, stranger things have happenned. Remember when we had no chance to catch the Queens in ’04 for the Pacific? That Portland game was just unreal. One more thing, it’s not that we lost yesterday, it’s how we lost. Our team seems to get up and play well for the big games, but also plays down to those beneath us in the standings. Hmmm…I just hope that two things improve – our D rotations and some solid shooting and playmaking from the bench.

  18. I’ve watched 2 or 3 episodes of Fallon. I don’t think it’s too bad, but he’s still nervous out there. He also has the same tendency to laugh at his own jokes the way he did on SNL. While I don’t think the show currently is that great, it has potential. It’s already better than Carson Daly’s show (but what isn’t?), and Conan was roundly criticized when he first started on Late Night, so there’s still plenty of time to improve. He also manages to get really good guests already, so he’s got that going for him.

  19. New Q&A with Bynum on his site:

    Q: Are you coming back this season?
    A: Yes I am going to make a return this season. I’m already doing strength and conditioning as well as playing 2 on 2 and 3 on 3, while waiting on the team to return.

    http://www.andrewbynum.com/index.cfm?pid=400039&Live=yes

  20. I’m one of those people that never found Jimmy Fallon funny. I personally think his demographic is pubescent girls and, unfortunately for him, most of these have outgrown him by now and moved on to worshoping other less-talented but equally annoying twits like Dane Cook… Sigh.

  21. We’re still a great team w/o Bynum, but having him back in the lineup would make me feel a lot better. He just does so many things that makes life for everyone easier. Glad to hear the good news.

    I was pleasantly surprised to discover I’m 3rd in the pool. I need UConn to take it all. woot

  22. 20-Im with you on Fallon. His weekend update was pretty much the last I could take of him and SNL.

    Bynum coming back will hopefully have an impact not only on the on-court play, but on the collective psyche and morale of the team.

  23. hey Kwame, what I’m hoping is the return of Andrew will mean the bench play will improve. they need something to ‘jump start’ them now, I think it’s all mental, and you can just feel them thinking too much.
    with ‘drew or LO now spending time with the bench, this will help them have a big anchor to guard the rim, plus give Pau some time to recharge with the rest of the first unit, Pau is getting too much burn these days.
    I read on Hoopsworld that ‘drew could be back by Apr 5 or 6th, I was surprised to read this cause I thiought PJ was saying near the end of April.
    what gives? any body got any update?

  24. I answered my own question, from Pincus-
    http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=12100

  25. Manny – I agree. I’ve never quite understand who exactly laughs at Fallon’s jokes. To me, SNL in recent years has been one of the worst comedy shows on television. It’s utterly amazing how un-funny Tiny Fey and Fallon are.

    I’m with Emma. I’ll take Conan over any other talk show host, easily. I do think Kimmel gets a bit of a bad rep, I think he can be extremely funny at times.

  26. If Jordan doesn’t improve his play, I think he’s in serious jeopardy of losing a lot of minutes come playoff time.

    I think his production and effective can improve if/when Bynum returns, and I think we need him to play, but as the weeks pass, I can’t help but think of how smooth the rotations were when he was injured.

  27. 26-Agreed. I’ve been saying this for sometime now, but luckily for the Lakers, I feel the 1st round will be Phil’s chance to see 1) What Bynum can give the team and 2) What his playoff rotation should be

  28. Farmar and Bynum have had great chemistry in the past. However, of late one of the worst parts of Farmar’s game has been entry passes to the low post. I’m curious to see if that changes with Bynum back or not.

  29. My bracket is doing surprisingly well (#33 after falling to #77)thanks to UConn and NC. I really had Kansas and Pittsburgh coming in but they were beaten rather badly :(

    As for the boredom issue, I totally understand. We’ve secured HCA til the finals and to think that it’s just ONE game at the finals that you have to bust out for…

  30. Kurt,

    I agree with that. It’s like he decides that Pau had enough touches and ignores him.

  31. For anyone who wants to laugh themselves silly. It involves Reggie Miller, ’nuff said:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/danpatrick/blog/59782/

  32. Have you guys read that Stern is looking at adopting a new playoff system where the top seeds get to pick they’re first round playoff opponents? I know the D-League is using this format, but doesn’t it sound like a terrible gimmick?
    Imagine the scenario (and I don’t think it’s far fetched) where the Lakers get the top pick and everyone knows that they’ll select the Mavs. Now imagine that, god-forbid, a team’s star, let’s say Carmelo Anthony goes down. Wouldn’t the Lakers have a HUGE insentive to capitalize on this inopportune injury? Doesn’t it seem like a terrible idea to basically force teams to indulge in maximizing on the timing of a teams misfortune?

    On the flip side though, how BOLD would it be if the Lakers could pick San Antonio in the first round just to get them out of the way?!

  33. Snoopy2006 – I couldn’t laugh at that. Reggie Miller just has a skull full of metal. But you could laugh at this:

    http://video.yahoo.com/network/100284668?v=4656506&l=4418225

  34. From the hoopsworld link, “…That assumes that Bynum’s knee responds well to the increase in activity. A delay might take him to April 9th against the Denver Nuggets or even as late as the Memphis Grizzlies on the 12th.”

    I nearly had a panick attack reading that he might return for the Grizzlies game. Call me superstituous, but I would rather have him come back after that game than play in the Grizzlies game. It brings back too many traumatic memories and could possibly affect Bynum’s psyche.

  35. Wow really hansborough better than Griffin? I’m not sure how he came to that conclusion. Hansborough is/was a great college player, but his skill set will not translate into the NBA. On the other hand Griffin is athletic, can handle the ball, has some great post moves, can hit a mid range shot, is a fantastic rebounder, plus he is ripped. A little short, but I think he will be a 20 and 10 guy for most of his career.

    I think there might be a few steals in the dradt. Dejuan Blair reminds me of Paul Milsap. The guy gobbles up every rebound anywhere around him. It might take him a couple seasons to learn to play as an undersized PF in the league but I think he will be good. And I think Sam Young will be a really good roll player (I don’t think he will drop to the Lakers but I wouldn’t mind drafting him even though I think the Lakers need a guard).

    The Bynum news is good. Sounds like he is just waiting for the team to come back to play some 5-on-5.

  36. This has been, perhaps, the most uninteresting end to a regular season in memory. Our seeding was set by Christmas. With Drew out there really aren’t any young players whose development is interesting. Ariza is a bright spot, but if anything we’ve see our younf players regress as the season progresses. There were no interesting trade additions. The rotation is largely set. The team’s strong play eliminates the “maybe they’ll turn the corner” angle. Everyone’s getting along.

    So, we’ve had to endure solid, steady, but fairly monotonous basketball without any dramatic subplots. It’s tough to complain about monotony when its winning, but please wake me when the playoffs begin or Bynum returns.

    A few stream of consciousness thoughts:

    We need to replace Farmar next year, and possibly in the playoffs. He’s perhaps the worst defensive PG in the league and far too inconsistent offensively to be worth 24 minutes a night, despite great talent. He’s a -10 waiting to happen every night in the playoffs. See Jazz Series, 2008.

    Not having home court vs Cleveland could be extremely significant. Yes we might win without it and yes great teams win on the road, but sometimes home court is the difference between two very evenly matched teams. If the road team doesn’t get to 3 wins before game 6, they have virtually zero shot of winning. The 2-3-2 layout presents a severe handicap.

    I think Kobe’s worn out (with good reason) and am very worried about it. His legs are heavy, his shot flat, and his defensive energy down. I am not worried at all about Pau. The difference in their basketball mileage at this point is massive.

    I saw Griffin from the 5th row in Kansas City last weekend and think he’ll be somewhere between Al Jefferson and Amare. Incredible specimen.

  37. If only the Lakers drafted Ramon Sessions instead of Sun Yue, I wonder what the dynamic of the team would be. Sighs.

  38. If you’re going to point to the Sports Illustrated site, don’t you want to point to this important article about Bynum’s rehab program. Apparently he even works out on Saturday nights, even if he has to go to the Playboy Mansion to do it:

    http://www.fannation.com/si_blogs/for_the_record/posts/59821-bynums-knee-survives-playboy-mansion-workout

  39. I am just not sold on Cleveland. They’ve beaten very few good teams on the road.
    I know it’s a different season but the last 2 yrs when they’ve played a top Defensive team in Playoffs they’ve lost.

  40. Bynum possibly back on Sunday vs the clippers!!!!

  41. 35 – Awesome link. Partying as the next rehab trend? The bandwagon starts here…

  42. 3 – Kurt, you’re supposed to have the inside scoop into player’s personal lives. We need that sort of insider information.

    Reed’s comment brought something back to me. Interestingly, I remember before this season even began that Hollinger wrote about the Bench Mob. He said that all of bench (especially Sasha and Farmar) had outperformed their predicted trends, and would likely regress during this season. I didn’t buy it; I thought that Sasha and Farmar had turned the corner and were continuing their development. I was very wrong. Mr. Hollinger, I salute you, though I wish you had been completely wrong.

  43. That photo of Powell and the Hawk is disturbing.

  44. The recent state of the bench leaves one to ponder what Kupchak will do in the offseason. At our position in the draft, we’re simply drafting the best player available and go for fit second, so it’s difficult to repair our backcourt situation there (unless we get someone like Eric Maynor falling to us). We’re probably ending up with someone like Wayne Ellington or Sam Young unless Kupchak wants to draft Darren Collison. The free agent point guard class largely consists of Bibby, Kidd, and Miller. Bibby doesn’t solve our perimeter defense problem, same with Kidd to a lesser extent, and although Miller would be nice, he’s probably worth a bit more more than MLE money.

    Playoffs will essentially make or break Farmar’s and Vujacic’s spots on the team; if they perform poorly, Kupchak is going to search for replacements.

  45. Reed,

    You pretty much summed it up. I think that’s why I haven’t been commenting much in the past week.

    Farmar will get traded between the summer and next season’s deadline. I think Phil is tired of him, but needs his minutes right now. Sasha’s contract signaled his future.

  46. what do people think of the bynum partying news? My sense is that while I understand that rehab isn’t a 24/7 exercise, and rest can be as important as working out, it still looks very, very bad to me as a fan to see what could be the missing piece to a championship partying at the Playboy Mansion while his teammates are struggling through a 7 game road trip. Hopefully his teammates won’t view it that way.

    And check out this quote from Shaq – where’s the TrueHoop response to this?

    http://nba.fanhouse.com/2009/03/30/shaqs-message-to-robin-lopez-put-somebody-on-their-expletive/#cont

  47. The fact people are worried that a 21-year-old single man went to the Playboy Mansion is the latest sign the playoffs can’t get here soon enough.

  48. I agree with you Kurt. Should Bynum be stuck at home thinking of his teammates? I mean, after we leave work, do we all just think of all our other workmates and support them by staying home and working?

    His job is to get well, and he does that in LA. He can’t be on the exercise machines all day. So, quit critizing him. There is life beyond work.

  49. Hopefully, Andrew Bynum blogs about his time in the grado. “What happens in the grado, stays in the grado.”

  50. http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-38-380/Obama-Predicts-Cavaliers-vs–Lakers-Finals.html

    Okay, the chief hoopster has spoken. Like UNC, we have the expectation bar set.

  51. Charley Rosen has some kind words for Tyler Hansbrough, though the entire article is on Blake Griffin:

    It was interesting to compare Griffin and last year’s college Player of the Year, Tyler Hansbrough. While Griffin has a decided edge in sheer talent and athleticism, Hansbrough makes more of what he has than does Griffin.

    To wit, Hansbrough’s post defense (on Griffin) was superb — fronting, dancing and totally discomforting the bigger man. Hansbrough always worked hard on every play, whether he had possession of the ball or not. In fact, half of Hansbrough’s eight points were created by his alert, hustling, weak-side cuts.

    But Hansbrough is as good as he’ll ever be. He’ll make a marginally acceptable pro only because of his intelligence, his instincts, his competitive spirit, and his work ethic.

    As for Griffin … learning how to defend is one key element that will largely determine his future in the NBA. But the most critical factors will be his capacity to develop a mid-range jumper and a face-up game from the wings.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/9394210/Does-OU%27s-Griffin-have-goods-for-NBA-stardom?

  52. Raja Bell respecting Kobe and how he guards Kobe.

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/bobcats/story/633020.html

  53. 43. he also slammed pau and named him to his nba’s all-decline team…

  54. Lakers favored by 5 against the bobcats? yeah right!, they ain’t covering or even winning….

  55. Obviously i know pro athletes are young, single millionaires who have lives outside of “work” and who are going to party, but it just optically looks “bad” to be carrying a Playmate on your shoulders while rehabbing a knee injury. Just like it looked “bad” for Leinart to help girls funnel beer at a house party, and it looked “bad” for Reggie Bush to party with Kim Kardashian while he was rehabbing his own knee injury. These are all guys whose teams were / are looking for them to play big roles in their success, and when pictures of them partying surface in public, it unfortunately calls into question their priorities and commitment to being great. I’m not saying that I think Bynum is lazy – by all reports, he’s developed a great work ethic – but a situation like this could unfairly color this reputation in the public eye.

    Or maybe it’s just a slow news day and, like Kurt says, I just want the playoffs to roll around.

  56. No, I agree with wiseolgoat. The partying itself isn’t the issue. But I don’t like him carrying another person around on his shoulders, jumping ropes/fences or whatever, etc. You have to be more professional than that during crunch time. It’s like a Monta Ellis-lite situation. Normally not a problem, but when he’s already injured and claims to still have trouble with lateral movement, why put yourself in a possible situation to set back your rehab? It’s common sense, and it’s not a non-issue.

  57. #55. Tonight’s game is going to be an interesting test. We should win and by more than five. We should win by double digits.

    I wonder how we’re going to adjust to the defensive schemes that the Bobcats run. Larry Brown has had lots of success in game planning against our offensive sets and they’ll do similar things that were successful for the Hawks (and Boston in last years finals). They will deny ball entries to the wing, they’ll half front the post, they’ll deny ball reversals, and they’ll be very aware of the flash to the highpost from the weakside big. All of this is meant to disrupt our timing. Against the Hawks our guys did not do a good job of establishing the timing in our sets. (Sidebar-a while back Gatinho posted a link to a video where Phil and Tex were talking about the principles of our offense. In that video they stressed that one of the major principles is players reading the defense and reacting to what they are doing and moving accordingly. Essentially when the defender is five feet from the ball, we should be passing to the open player who should have been working to get open because he was reading that the pass would be coming soon-end sidebar.) Anyways, I’d like to see crisper sets tonight. Better timing, harder screens, sharper cuts, and-overall-more fluid movement.

    On defense, I’d like to see us do a better job containing Felton off the dribble and matching the effort of Wallace and Okafor. I’d also like to see Odom do a number on Diaw and have LO use his length to disrupt what Boris likes to do on the block. Last game Diaw got it going using his Euro craftiness and it fed his confidence which led to better shot making throughout the rest of the game.

  58. Fox Sports reports that the Celts are “shutting down” Garnett until the last 3 or so games of the season, due to concerns about his knee …

  59. Bobcats preview up

  60. Hey Kurt, a bit off topic but since you are the one that led me to the Big Bang theory, i might as well ask it here:

    Sheldon + grungy hair&beard looks more like Pau than Mark, or is it just me?