Archives For April 2009

NBA 2009: Lakers Beat Jazz 119-109
Since a disproportionate number of Lakers fast breaks end up in pull up jumpers, I thought today I would rename my usual Fast Break Thought collocation of notes to honor the PUJUT.

• With all this time off, Andrew Bynum is getting plenty of special attention regarding his lackluster performance in the Utah series. I, for one, am not that concerned about what will happen in the next series (be it Houston or Portland).

There are two reasons. First is the matchups are better for him. Utah often went small and didn’t have guys he could bang with down on the block — both Boozer and Okur are comfortable away from the paint. The Jazz also tried to counter the Lakers size advantage by going small, so even if he had been playing well this was not a series where Bynum was going to see as many minutes. But that will not be the case in the next round, he will be down low banging with Yao or Oden. And if either of those guys step out high, you know it’s to set a pick.

The other reason is focus and confidence. Bynum still plays like a young kid — when things are going right he plays bigger and stronger, when he hits a rough patch he loses focus and effort. By the end of the Utah series, his mind appeared to be off with Cedric Ceballos on a Jet Ski. But in the next round he starts again, he has a very clearly defined task, and he wants to prove himself. I have confidence he can.

All that said, Phil Jackson cannot be afraid to use the hook early if he isn’t hacking it (or is hacking Yao).

• Check out the interview over at Hoops Addict with Kim Hidalgo, who just filmed the movie version of Ball Don’t Lie based on Matt de la Pena’s book and is a huge Lakers fan. That’s a good combo.

• I think the guys at The Painted Area hit the nail on the head:

The ridiculousness of the flagrant-foul interpretation is that, in practice, it is determined almost entirely by whether the fouled player hits the floor in an awkward, scary-looking manner, and Miller ultimately did not hit the floor that hard. Many times, you’ll see a guy go for a legitimate blocked shot on a breakaway, and get called for a ridiculous flagrant ONLY b/c of the way the fouled player falls.

• While we’re on the Rondo foul on Miller, there have been people suggesting that the Bulls seek revenge with a hard foul on Rondo tonight, the eye for an eye theory. But the smart move is to take a page out of the hockey playbook here: On the ice in the playoffs, if someone cheap shots a teammate (and nobody can start a fight that second) you don’t take the revenge in the next playoff game — that could turn the course of a series against you. However, the next season, first home game against said player and team, expect the revenge with interest. I’m not advocating that, I’m just saying….

Chick Hearn Raps

Kurt —  April 29, 2009

Looks like we have a little time on our hands — the NBA has announced that whatever happens in the Portland/Houston series, the second round starts Monday in Los Angeles. Only Andrew Bynum’s knee and Luke Walton’s ankle are happy about that decision.

Rather than pick apart flaws, I figure we can relax for a little bit and talk about other games in this thread. For something else to do, here is Chick Hearn rapping (with iffy audio, sorry about that).

Who’s Next?

Kurt —  April 28, 2009

NBA 2009: Lakers Beat Jazz 119-109
Not everything was pretty about how the Lakers beat the Jazz — unless you enjoy giving up leads just to live dangerously — but in the end just about everybody on the planet said the Lakers in five and the Lakers won in five. They looked dominant at times doing it, and the bench was alternately fantastic and frustrating.

But the Jazz are gone. Who’s got next?

Well, either the Rockets or Portland. The Rockets are up 3-1 on the Blazers, next game on Tuesday night (NBA TV, 7 pm). The Rockets have big matchup advantages in this series that they are exploiting better than I thought they would. The Blazers have nobody who can slow Yao, forcing a lot of double teams that is opening things up for others on offense. On defense, the Blazers are a jumpshooting team and with Battier and Artest the Rockets have some quality perimeter defenders.

We’ll get into more of an Xs and Os breakdown against the Lakers later, but Zephid has laid out the case quite well (and I agree with him) that the Lakers easier path is through Houston.

On Offense Against The Rockets

Without Mt. Mutombo, the Rockets have no legitimate big man to back up Yao, so either he’s going to be handling the brunt of our Gasol/Bynum two headed seven foot monster, or they’re going to have Landry or Chuck Hayes guarding them. Needless to say, I like our chances, and that doesn’t even touch on the mismatch that Odom brings against Scola. So long as Kobe doesn’t have another few cold games when deciding to destroy Artest single-handedly, we should have a deadly efficient series against the Rockets.

On Offense Against The Blazers

The Blazers, on the other hand, have two legitimate seven-footers in Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden. Both of those guys are true bangers, and as we’ve seen in the past, they could easily outmuscle our guys underneath and get a ton of offensive rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge and Channing Frye also have good size to use against Odom, so that match-up loses it’s luster. On the perimeter, Nicolas Batum has been very aggressive against Kobe, doing fairly well at taking him out of his comfort zone, while Travis Outlaw is long and tall enough to bother a lot of Kobe’s shots. Overall, all the beautiful mismatches we have against the Rockets we simply do not have against the Blazers.

On Defense Against The Rockets

As Portland has shown, if you are going to double team Yao, you’re going to have to cover Scola and Landry at the free throw line if you want it to be effective. That being said, we have the advantage of choosing to do either. Both Bynum and Gasol will be able to at least bother some of Yao’s shots with their length, so I doubt he’ll have the ridiculous efficiency that he’s had against the Blazers. We can also bring Odom across the lane in the SSZ, which should serve us well if we can cover the passing lanes adequately on the weak side. On the perimeter, I like the idea of Aaron Brooks charging into a forest of seven-footers, so I’m betting Fish will play up on him and force him into the SSZ and a few bad decisions to boot.

On Defense Against The Blazers

While the Blazers have similar models to our team, the one difference is they are a jump-shooting team. The Rockets are able to contain them so well because they have a lot of great individual defenders. Lowry, Battier, Artest, Landry, Hayes, and even Scola and Yao to some extent are very good individual defenders who don’t require help. This way, Portland isn’t getting any uncontested jumpers unless it’s off Roy’s penetration. Compare this to our defense, which has a penchant for giving up open jumpers, and is especially weak against sweet-shooting bigs, and you can see why we’ve lost 2 games to them this season.

Lakers/Jazz Game 5 Chat

Kurt —  April 27, 2009

Jazz vs. Lakers
The toughest win to get is the last one. Doesn’t matter where the game is played, what happened before, teams pick it up a notch when their season is on the line.

No Luke Walton tonight (and maybe through the first couple games of the next round), which means more minutes and a bigger game is needed from Ariza.

Kobe was on fire early last game pulling up for the midrange jumper — the Jazz never really adjusted to that. They were willing to let him beat them that way so he did. I expect some kind of adjustment to that this game, Utah can’t risk the same outcome, but whether it is the early double team or ball denial defense, that should open things up for the ball to get inside. The Jazz still don’t have an answer for everything Gasol can do. And they don’t seem to care when Odom drives to the left, although they should.

On defense the Lakers probably had their best half in the second half of game four. They were much better and smarter at doubling Boozer before he started his move, and they did a much better job being aware of the cutters when help came on D-Will, Those things need to continue.

But by this point in the series, there are not a lot of secrets. Everyone knows what is supposed to happen, it’s a matter of exaction.

I know a lot of people want to see more Andrew Bynum tonight, to see him get in a rhythm before he gets a boost in responsibility next series (either Houston or Portland). The problem is, the Jazz have tried to counter the Lakers size advantage by going small at times. Putting Bynum out there in that situation — with his knee not 100% — could lead to bad outings and confidence issues. He needs to be in when he is in a place where he can succeed. Also, closing it out tonight means more rest for him (not likely the next round starts before the weekend).

For us fans, it’s hard not to look forward a little to the next series — and if you want to win tickets to game one of the next round check out the Lakers Nation Twitter contest. But we are going to hold off on that in the formal posts.

Hopefully for just one day.

Game Four Thoughts

Kurt —  April 26, 2009

Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles
First, a few thoughts from our resident historian Gatinho on the stroke suffered by Tex Winter:

Tex played at USC, coached against Wilt at KSU, coached the Houston Rockets for 2 years and his offense has been the chosen offense of 9 NBA championship teams. His “overload” offense, kerned from Sam Barry at USC, was designed to break zone defenses. It’s uniqueness lies in its myriad of options that the offense can use to counteract defenses. When run correctly the defense is in a constant react mode. These options make it impossible for the other team to “jump” your play with their defense because their is no play call, only the decision as to who will be in post on the string side.

The familiar shadow over Phil Jasckson’s shoulder, Tex has been on then final ballot several times for the hall of Fame, but sadly he has yet to be inducted. in an exchange I had with Roland Lazenby, he called Tex, “The most direct man you will ever meet.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with Tex and his family. Get well Tex, we want to hear your speech when you finally and deservedly get inducted into the Hall.

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It’s good to have Kobe on your team.

There are games like this one where he does what only a handful of players who have ever played the game can do — completely impart his will on the game. Will his team to win. And he took his anger out on Ronnie Brewer, hitting his first 11 shots while Brewer was on him.

Kobe’s effort gave confidence to his teammates and suddenly everything started going right. By the second quarter the Lakers were moving the ball inside then kicking it out for open threes by Sasha and Shannon. Lakers not named Kobe shot 10 of 15 in the second quarter as the Lakers started to pull away.

The energy Kobe brought to the team carried over to the second half, and in that half the Lakers did a much better job of forcing D-Will and Boozer into the shots they are not comfortable with — the pair went 3 of 12 in the second half. The Lakers forced a lot more jump shots and the Jazz as a team were 11 of 37 on jump shots for the game.

Also, there has been lot’s of talk about the limited Andrew Bynum minutes, but Darius makes a great point about how important the depth the Lakers have is in instances like this

I think we need to understand that Phil is trying to win a series. That means that we can’t afford poor play from a major rotation player and if we have the depth to limit that guys minutes, Phil is going to do just that. Jordan Farmar can attest to how this works. I’m not down on Bynum per se, but I am upset that he’s not doing the things that he’s seemingly capable of even in his current physical state. In the end, he is young and this is his first playoff action, but he’s not even catching the ball cleanly right now. And while we can attribute slow rotations or missed rebounds to timing issues due to his recent return or being hampered by a sore knee, I think he should be fairly comfortable catching the ball. So that’s a little disconcerting to me. However, I do think he’ll get better when we return to LA and as the playoffs progress.