Preview and Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Reed —  April 11, 2009

Records: Lakers 63-17 (1st in West); Grizzlies 23-56 (12th in West)
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 112.8 (3rd); Grizzlies 103.6 (28th)
Defensive Efficiency: Lakers 104.9 (6th); Grizzlies 109.6 (21st)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Fisher, Kobe, Ariza, Gasol, Bynum; Grizzlies: Conley, Mayo, Gay, Arthur, Gasol.

Thoughts on the Portland Loss:

This loss hurts on a few fronts. First, is the obvious implications regarding home court versus Cleveland. We are now two games behind Cleveland in the loss column and I don’t see them losing two of their remaining three games, especially with only of them away from home (vs. Boston, at Indy, vs. Philly). I was probably one of the strongest advocates of going for home court till the end, believing strongly that we will probably play Cleveland in the finals and that home court could be determinative given how close the teams are in talent. This has been debated to death on the boards, so I don’t want to belabor the point. I’ll just say that my gut feeling is that when teams are fairly equally yoked it is very rare that one team wins in 5 and thus having the final two games at home under the 2-3-2 format is a monstrous advantage. In support of that point, note that since the 2-3-2 format was instituted in 1985, the road team has only closed out on the home team’s floor in a game 6 or 7 three times. In other words, if the home team can get through games 3-5 away to return home, they almost always prevail. If we play Cleveland, I just don’t see us closing them out in 5 games, and that makes life pretty difficult. But, that’s putting the cart well before the horse.

The second ramification of the loss is psychological. I wrote on this after the Boston and Cleveland games in February, but I believe that psychological edges matter in basketball. The most talented team does not always win. Sometimes it is the team that believes in itself – or that least doubts itself. Remember back to the old Lakers-Kings series, when Sacramento had the home court and seemingly more talented teams. On paper, they should have broken through at least once. But they never believed they could and thus Peja and Christie and Webber kept missing the key shots and free throws while Kobe and Horry and Fox and Fisher kept making theirs. Talent gave way to psychology. The same thing happened in game 6 of the finals last year (not that Boston wasn’t the better team, but they weren’t 30 points better – they were just 30 points more confident). I’m not saying that this will happen with Portland and us, or that Portland necessarily has the mental edge, but I do think they’ve implanted a seed of doubt and that concerns me.

Darius also raised a good point about why Portland matches up with us so well on paper:

In the past Portland is a team that we’ve discussed as being built in the Spurs model (I even remember a discussion I had with Kurt and on the boards stating as much), but I actually think they’re built more in our mold and it’s the reason that they match up with us so well. I mean, Kobe/Roy, Blake/Fisher, Outlaw-Batum/Ariza, Aldridge/Gasol, Oden/Drew, Fernandez/Sasha, Bayless/Farmar … all of these guys play almost the exact role for their respective team and are also similar players. The only guys that stand out as not having a direct counterpart (who actually play meaninful minutes) are Walton/LO on our side (and Joel on their side), but those guys are actually unique players across the entire league. LO being an all court PF doing tons of guard things and Luke being a pass first, post up SF who has a tremendous feel for offensive basketball through an understanding of angles and how to play around the basket with and with out the ball (and Joel really is an Oden clone but with a lower offensive ceiling). Anyways, just an observation.

The thing that most concerned me from the game itself is our crunch time over-reliance on Kobe at the expense of the set offense. We had our most success in the second quarter when we pounded the ball inside, took advantage of Gasol, Drew, and Odom’s power-skill advantage, and ran the set offense through them. I understand that Kobe is our closer and has earned the right to take the game into his hands, but why abandon going inside and running the triangle with 5-6 minutes left in the game rather than just for the last few possessions. When you run the Kobe-Gasol high pick and roll for that long you let the opponent know what’s coming and make it easier for them to take your best options away. Too often the result is a contested long Kobe jumper against long, agile defenders (Batum, Outlaw, Roy). Why not keep running things through Gasol until nearer the end – who is so efficient and such a good decision maker? You could make a strong argument that Gasol has replaced Kobe as the better focal point of the offense. Why not feed Kobe the ball within the flow of the offense, when he can get it lower on the block or in a better position to attack and set up others? We saw too many “hero” shots from Kobe down the stretch. We all know he can make those, but given our weapons he doesn’t have to anymore. It’s tough to overcome a 9-24 performance on the road.

Bynum:

I’m very encouraged by Drew’s play. He played 31 minutes in a road back to back and seemed pretty locked in throughout. He lost his legs at the end and was perhaps a bit prone to chucking (especially from the high post early in the clock), but he was also very aggressive, didn’t shy away from contact, and clearly gave Portland problems in the first half. I can envision him being dominant in 3-4 weeks, and that surprises me. If so, we will be in business for the crucial playoff series.

Memphis:

First, I want to review the Gasol trade with the benefit of a little hindsight. Memphis got absolutely blasted at the time. I’m sure many still believe that’s right, but I think the trade is much more of a win-win than Memphis gets credit for. The Grizzlies accomplished several things in trading Pau: (1) long term financial relief – they cut Gasol’s $60M remaining contract and have the league’s lowest payroll this year (a must given their revenue issues); (2) cap flexibility – they’ll be over $20 million under the cap this summer (whether they spend it is another story); (3) lose games to get a better draft pick – if they kept Pau they would have won several more games and not been in a position to draft Mayo, their #1 building block; and (4) acquire young, cheap talent and draft picks – they landed a center of the future in Marc Gasol, Darrel Arthur (with the Lakers pick), and have one more pick to come (Crittenton didn’t work out). Many say that Chicago was offering more with some kind of Nocioni + Gordon/Hinrich package, and maybe that’s true (I question whether Reinsdorf was truly willing to pony up and take on the long term salary), but would Memphis really be in a better position locked into those longer contracts and no man’s land status (too good to rebuild and too bad to contend)? I say, give me Marc Gasol, a few draft picks, the shot at Mayo, and all the cap flexibility.

The key to it all was the inclusion of Marc, who really has developed into an extremely productive NBA rookie. He’s still only 24 and is averaging 11.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks on 53/72% in 31 minutes a game. He’s gotten better as the year progresses, upping his stats to 14.4 and 7.5 on 56% shooting in 15 March games. He’s 6th among rookies in PER at 16.67 (and one of those above him, Speights, doesn’t get enough playing time to really be valued more). When I see Gasol play, you see so many of his brother’s strengths, even if he lacks the same absurd length and agility – quiet efficiency, solid screens, great hands and passes, soft touch, unselfish almost to a fault, etc. He’s not going to be a superstar, but you can win a title with someone like that as your starting center.

The Grizzlies are playing much better of late than their season long record reveals. They have won 6 of their last 9, with two of the losses by three points to elite teams (Portland and Orlando). They are not a team to be taken lightly. During this stretch, all of the Grizzlies young building blocks have finally lived up to their considerable potential. Over the last 10 games, Gay is averaging 19.7 points on 50% shooting (48 from three); Mayo is averaging 18 and 4.9 assists on 46% shooting (90% from FT); Conley is averaging 16.4, 4.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists on 50% shooting (53 from three); and Gasol has continued his steady, efficient play. While Oklahoma City has gotten all of the futures buzz, you get the sense that Memphis is also on the verge of breaking through. If the lottery envelopes bounce right, the young nucleus continues to develop, and their owner allows them to use some of that cap space (especially with so few buyers out there), then they could put together a really nice, young, balanced team. Put in Blake Griffin at PF…

Despite their recent strong play, I think they are probably too small on the front line and too undisciplined defensively to beat us if we pound it inside and run the offensive smoothly. Look for Bynum to break out as Memphis doesn’t have anyone to match his size inside.

–Reed

Reed

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149 responses to Preview and Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. Reed – at first glance, I thought OK they’re getting the game preview up a day early, then I looked at my iphone for the date, it said apr 11, and then I thought, no way, the game’s not tonight?! can’t be a back to back to back, that doesn’t happen!
    so, I checked again and it’s tomorrow, whew, gave me a bit of a shocker, don’t want to miss any games down the stretch, eh?
    I’m enjoying seeing Shannon getting some burn, hope he continues to show what some of our bench (Sasha) is lacking… confidence! I don’t like to root against one of our own, but sasha is not cutting it for me this year. I think he’s too concerned with how he looks out there. he needs to watch some Madsen, or one of those guys who is all about hustle and not about ego. I think that’s his main problem. if he’s serious, he’d get a buzz cut, anything to change his streak of gone cold, show us it’s more important to win, be a part of a winning TEAM, and not about keeping his hair tucked into whatever the latest head band trend is.
    sorry to rant on, but he seems to get burned on the D side as well…maybe Shannon can take some of his minutes away too.
    I am looking forward to seeing Shannon go against D-will and the Jazz, I think PJ has been bringing him along just for that match up.
    I also agree that Andrew is quite impressive for only 2 games back, and I can see how this improves our bench rotations, always having either LO, Pau or Drew out there, and most of the time, 2 of those 3, and some Trevor or Luke as well, not a bad bench!

  2. portland is playing the clippers right now in the same situation we were in (back to back got in late) and they are stinking up the place.

  3. I say forget this and the next game, play the starters for five minutes and then let the reserves run the show.

  4. Chris – Sasha is outplaying Farmar right now by a mile and Sasha isn’t lacking any confidence right now from what I can tell. I thought he played a solid game last night in Portland.

    With Utah losing AGAIN at home against the nut house that is the Golden State warriors it looks like we are playing SLC round 1. Since our last game is against Utah I will want to see if the coaching staff gives Shannon a lot of burn against DWill. All of us know that Farmar gets used and abused by Williams so it would be nice to see Shannon take a shot at him when it doesn’t count yet.

  5. Why not start Farmar against Utah? At least give him a chance to prove himself against Williams before we give Brown his share of minutes. Then again, Utah might have given up by then and sit Williams, too – depending on how the Mavs and Hornets play out their last two.

  6. By the way, Kurt/Darius/whoever else can answer this:

    I can’t seem to view this site from my home connection (Alberta, Canada) – I have to go through an anonymous proxy to access it. Am I IP blocked or something, for whatever reason?

  7. i say sit out bynum…last thing we need is another major bynum injury against the griz ;)

  8. when we play portland LO is our X-factor that gives us the slight edge. i know we havent won in portland, but with lamar’s strong play yesterday that game could have gone either way. when he plays well in portland he’s the one that gives us a little bit more talent and a little more experience, that if we’re clicking on all cylinders the ball will roll in our favor. portland has no one that can match up with LO and i guess you could throw in shannon as another X-factor but im still not all the way sold on him yet. will be interesting to see how he does in the playoffs.

  9. I sincerely hope that with Drew quickly regaining form that the we make it a point to get the ball inside early and often. There is no frontcourt that can match up with ours, and we should be exploiting our advantage inside like we were earlier in the year.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I would go so far as to put Luke back in the starting lineup if it meant the ball going inside more (but still close games with Ariza, much as we did earlier in the year).

  10. I don’t buy the concept that the Blazers are modeled after the Lakers. After all they drafted LaMarcus before the Lakers got Pau. Roy plays a very different game than Kobe at the same age and is more tilted towards distribution than Kobe has been until recently. Other than that they are both extraordinary 2’s they aren’t that similar in style. Based on how KP is a obviously a San Antonio product it seems like Darius is a bit off base.

  11. With respect to Bynum playing the Grizz again: How many fingers will be crossed for this game in Lakerland?

    Kurt – You forgot the (LINK) in your paragraph about psychology.

  12. While the players may be similar, Portland’s offensive system is vastly different. We can be fairly uptempo at times and end up exploiting defensive lapses by our opponents through superior offense. Portland’s offense is similar to Detroit’s for the past few years. They have an extremely low amount of possessions, but end up shooting more shots than the other team because they have so many offensive rebounds (Detroit did this through forcing turnovers and playing great defense, but the general concept is the same). They’re basically a jumpshooting team. They don’t have a legitimate post threat (except Aldridge in some circumstances; Oden is extremely raw on the offensive end, Przybilla only scores off dunks and putbacks, and Frye is a jumpshooter, as is Aldridge in most cases), and as it often has been said, they play an “old man’s game” even though they’re such a young team.

    In any case, I think we see Bynum and Gasol overwhelming their frontcourt. Memphis is playing a lot better recently, but this is nearly the end of the season, and if we get a significant lead down the stretch, they’re probably going to fold. I’d like to see Brown get more burn; what pleased me most about his performance against Portland was how his shots were really in rhythm with our offense. He only forced one shot (on a pretty decent hook shot that he made) and otherwise served as a good spot-up shooter. Oh, and Luke or someone needs to run more alley-oop plays for him. With Bynum back, it only gives us more options on offense.

  13. shaww, so you think Sasha is playing good now? hmmm …
    can say I agree.

    someone brought it up earlier, I think it might be a good idea to try Trevor back with the bench mob, now that Drew is back in the rotation, add Luke as a starter, bringing LO and Trevor in with the mob.
    mix things up a bit, we need to see production from the second unit.

  14. chris,

    The way the rotation is going now, I don’t think it makes that much of a difference. With Odom back with the bench, we have another player who can bring the ball up and initiate the offense, so Luke isn’t that necessary for the bench in this respect, and we have two post threats always on the floor in any combination of Odom, Gasol, and Bynum, so entry passes become a bit easier. Granted, Ariza would operate better when the bench goes more uptempo, but I don’t think Phil is changing the rotation at this point in the season sans the Brown/Farmar battle for the backup point guard spot.

  15. First of all, great preview Reed. I could not agree more on the hindsight analysis of the Gasol trade. I also agree about the young talent on the Grizz. The ultimate success (as you alluded to) will fall square on the shoulders of Heisley, but they do have some good players with bright futures.

    #10. Fulton,
    My point about how the Blazers are built isn’t to compare the players in a side by side manner and imply that the players are the same or are even effective in the same manner. As you noted Roy and Kobe don’t play particularly similar styles and neither do Aldridge and Gasol. So really, I’m talking more about roles rather than styles. Just like Gasol, Aldridge is the Blazers’ primary post threat (but while LaMarcus relies more on turnaround jumpers, Pau uses jumphooks and face up moves). And like Kobe is the Lakers primary scorer and wing threat, Roy is that same player for Portland. The same can be said for Fisher/Blake and their steady play + outside shooting, Oden/Bynum and their defense and rebounding (while aknowledging that Drew is much more polished on offense), and also for Batum/Ariza and their wing defense and athleticism. And like I stated in my comment to Reed and Kurt, I think there are several other examples where this rings true. In the end, it’s really an explanation for why Portland is tough matchup for us. And sure, LaMarcus was drafted before Pau, but I stand by my statement that the Blazers have been put together in a very similar manner to the Lakers…the players may play different styles but the effectiveness is similar and the teams are in search of the same results.

  16. Excellent post Reed, lots of information in there to absorb. I do think that the Cavaliers will prevail in the East, so to bad we probably will not have HCA against them if/when we make it that far ourselves. This will be a good game for Bynum to get more of his timing back and I am looking forward to see more Shannon Brown action.

    Bring on the Grizzlies.

  17. I would put a bow around your point, “You could make a strong argument that Gasol has replaced Kobe as the better focal point of the offense.”

    The Lakers are at peak efficiency in this mode.

    Phil obviously sees this; he’s Mr. Triangle.

    Sidebar: who has been the anchor of 2nd Unit since Bynum went down and Odom moved to first unit? Gasol.

    Part of this is the enigmatic aspect of PJ Coaching Rules. Kobe is the quarterback and demands the ball when he reads the situation as warranting it.

    It seems in Phil’s style to support Kobe in making the “right call.” It’s not in Pau’s nature to demand it either.

    But truth be told, the Lakers are a far more terrifying force when they are actually running a set offense, and Kobe is playing assassin/playmaker/free safety.

  18. Great post tho I don’t necessarily agree on most fronts. The Pau trade I agree it is more a win-win than most gave credit for, but then again it was always a win-win to begin with as it factored non-basketball aspects. I would have loved to see the brothers Gasol playing on one team… and see how that works out, but too bad.

    Last game against Portland made me think long and hard about Phil Jackson, for some reason.

    I think Phil is looking at retirement after this season. This explains his unusual drive for HCA throughout the playoffs. I really think he wants that 10th ring and be done with basketball, as I am fairly confident that no coach will win 10, even if somebody gets LeBron the next 10 years.

    So he wants Kobe at his best behavior, and unfortunately that means that the team suffers a bit in the regular season. He wants to give Kobe the freedom he always wanted and saw Jordan and Shaq had, and the unquestioned ‘alpha-dog’ status of the team.

    That’s why we go away from everything that works in a moneyball perspective and instead let Kobe do his thing. Which works every now and then, but certainly won’t against caliber teams such as Boston.

    However, once the playoffs begin, I think PJ will be doing some of his more subtle things and do what’s necessary to win, which Kobe will most likely oblige to with a championship in line.

    So right now, the regular season is just letting Kobe show off his skills, try his best to go after another MVP, and to soothe his ego. Once the playoffs arrive, we’ll more likely see a more rational approach to endgames.

    At least I hope so.

  19. Fulton,
    The Lakers are set up to have several people direct the offense and feed the ball – this is one reason teams can’t press us too well – and in Portland Roy is the guy, period. This and the triangle system of passing leads Roy to have many more assists than Kobe. However, you forget that Kobe was a main cog in feeding Shaq the ball and that success in the 3peat. Most ‘talking heads’ also forget this aspect of Kobe’s history.

  20. I keep hearing that we’re going to be playing Cleveland, but then I look at their record against us, the Celts and Orlando. I know the playoffs are a totally different animal, but I can’t help but wonder whether they’ll be able to make it through. I mean, they did lose by 40 to Orlando, and that goes beyond an off night in my opinion.

  21. our offense has been stagnant, we used to be able to make every shot no matter what the opposition’s defense threw at us. now? it seems like we cant make the shots we used to make. kind of like a team wide shooting slump.

    i hope to see bynum get deeper into the paint and closer to the basket today. i didn’t like his low post position in the portland game, he was way too far out.

  22. Anyone else feel a little dirty cheering for Boston today?

  23. Does anyone see what the Cavs are doing to Boston right now? Injuries or not, 9 first quarter points? That should be illegal.

    Wow the Cavs are scary good. I’m looking forward to playing them in the playoffs (hopefully), but still….scary.

  24. Kobe on Bynum playiing against the Grizzlies.

    Press Enterprise: “I told him he shouldn’t play,” Kobe Bryant said. “I’m not throwing him one pass. “Why you laughing?” he continued. “I’m not throwing him anything. No lobs. Nothing. If he so much as jumps off the floor, I’ll smack him.

    http://www.pe.com/sports/basketball/lakers/stories/PE_Sports_Local_S_web_lakers_12.32fb1c5.html

  25. boston is shooting 15% through one quarter…score is 31-9 cleveland, this game is over.

  26. #13 Chris – I never really thought Sasha was playing bad per say, more that he was being asked to do what he is not capable of. Mainly distributing off the dribble with a second unit that included DJ and Powell. Now with Bynum back he is getting more run with the starters and is getting a better opportunity to do what he does best knock down OPEN shots.

    I don’t think its a coincidence to say he is playing better when he gets to play with better players. His fouls 30 ft from the basket still make me want to smack him though. He also needs to cut the hair too much time spend dealing with his hair.

  27. The main difference between us and Portland is they are mainly a jump shooting team. Yes, they have a highly efficient offense, predicated mostly on Brandon Roy and some good screens set along the baseline for Fernandez and Outlaw, but very rarely do they pound the ball inside. This is why Oden was such a good fit for them, because he gives them a strong inside presence who has the potential to be an offensive force (although he is nowhere near that level now). However, our team is built to get baskets in a much easier fashion, that is pounding inside to Gasol and Bynum, along with some excellent high-low action between those two and Odom. While their offense is predicated on making shots, ours is predicated on solid ball movement to get easy buckets, lay-ups, dunks, and the like.

    I think if the coaching staff were given a chance to run practices every day and focus solely on Portland, we can shut them down completely. We forget that during the regular season, coaches don’t have the opportunity to run too many full practices, due to travel and not wanting to wear out their players, but the playoffs are a different story, where there are two days off between games, affording the coaching staff at least one solid day to practice and focus on shutting down one team, instead of having to prepare for 3 or 4 different teams.

    While talent carries you in the regular season, the playoffs is where one’s coaching staff really comes into play, and I think we should have a lot of confidence in ours.

  28. happy easter,

    with cleveland blowing out boston and almost assured of getting the best record, the best thing for the lakers to do now is rest pao, rest fish, rest kobe, rest trevor and lo. let the starters play a few stretches tonight and tuesday, no more than 15-20 minutes and give the bench extended playing time to figure out which rotations and units work best now that lo is back to being the sixth man and shannon brown is playing well.

    63 wins and counting and their best record since 99-00, and a second straight #1 seed in the west. i’d say the lakers have much to feel good about.

  29. 82-56 Cleveland going into the fourth quarter. Cleveland is holding Boston to .333 FG%. Yeah, without a 100% Garnett, they don’t have a hope of competing with Cleveland in the Q. Hell, if Garnett isn’t 100% by the second round, Orlando might knock them off.

  30. great analysis on Pau & Kobe by Kurt et al. It irks me to no end that we keep going to Kobe in the latter half of 4Q when in most cases, we’re better off running the offense through Pau. I do hope harold that you are right and Phil only lets Kobe do this to assuage his ego and will change tactics in the playoffs. Phil knows more than anyone alive or dead what’s involved in the care and feeding of superstar athletes. I just hope it’s not an ingrained habit that he can’t break.

    Cavs do look scary good right now. I think they have better team chemistry than we do and their home crowd is more enthusiastic (the Staples crowd kind of expects to be entertained and to be lifted by the team rather than vice versa). I think those two factors (plus lousy bench play) contribute more to blowing big leads than supposedly getting bored or falling asleep.

    Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. But hey, it won’t be any fun if it’s easy, right?

  31. hey everyone, the league is investigating Portland for replaying the flagrant foul by trevor ariza before the game, hahaha, karmaaaaaaaa

  32. Kobe: “I’m not throwing [Bynum] anything. No lobs. Nothing.”

    Oh….so just like the entire 4th quarter of every game, Kobe? And with Pau, too?

    lol cheap shot I know, but sadly true

  33. I’m glad Reed called that out in his preview. I felt like I was the only one harping on it months ago and very few people seemed to have a problem with it, because we were winning. But I’ll say it again:

    Last 3 minutes of a game (take a game like Phily). Kobe stops driving and forces up contested jumpers. Bricks. Even if Kobe hits the game-winning shot, does that change the fact that he just went 1-5 in the last couple minutes? If Kobe hadn’t forced the jumpers, the Lakers (the actual team we root for) might have been 3 or 4 for 5, and we wouldn’t have needed a game winning shot.

    You need to find the shot with the highest percentage of going in. There’s plenty of stats that show Kobe’s FG% in clutch situations drops drastically (clutch being the last few minutes of a game). With Smush and Kwame, I was fine with it. But like others have said, we have better options now. Beautiful things happen when we go through Pau. Beautiful, mysterious things.

  34. Also an interesting note from the PE article Ryan shared . . . Bynum may have the history with Memphis, but we forgot Kobe’s had a much longer injury history with another team. That one we’ll likely see in the Finals. Not that I believe in jinxes, but I’ve heard Mike Brown was trained in the arts of voodoo.

    Here’s Rambis on Shannon Brown:

    “We’ve been tinkering with the idea of moving him up in the rotation and using him as a spot defender,” assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. “We feel like he’s one of those rare players who can guard two or three positions in this league. His toughness, aggressive and strength are all assets for him playing defense, but we’ve been waiting a little bit longer for him to pick up as much of the offense as possible.”

  35. Quote from a Celtic blog:

    “I thought the ressurection was supposed to be on Easter Sunday, not the crucifixion.”

  36. David (Baltimore) April 12, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Although disappointed I was actually encouraged by the Lakers’ performance. Playing the second night of a back to back on the road, they kept it pretty close until the very end. I believe by the time the Lakers meet Portland in the Playoffs, they will have to contend with a more rested and focused Lakers squad. Moreover, Bynum wil be in a lot better shape.

  37. 18: There is a team where that actually happens – it’s called the Spanish national team, and yes, it is a sweet sight indeed;)

    And of course the offense runs better through Pau. If you ask me, offense always runs better from the inside if the big man has sufficient skills. This will be the case in the future with Drew as well (especially when his passing gets a little better).

    A final note: Some people have suggested that Drew should be rested in order to avoid some sort of Grizzlies curse. I, being the rationale man that I am, do not agree. First of all curses and superstition don’t impress me all that much, and second of all Drew needs the burn in order to get his timing and wind back. Also it’s kind of nice to see Pau’s minutes go below 40 once in a while.

  38. 37 – I’m not so sure about curses. I’m a rational man AND a religious man to boot, but if it comes to basketball and the Lakers…

    I prefer to doubt and atone for my sins later as long as it guarantees me the earthly pleasures of us winning.

  39. And, Cavs or no Cavs, it pleases me to see Boston get crushed and have them exposed like that. Allen with that elbow to the groin was just priceless. Kodak/VISA moment. Awesome. If only we could bring that kind of frustration out of them!

    Anyway, man the folks at Cleveland must be hating us real bad looking at their home record. Although HCA was on the line, I’m glad we don’t have to mention Boston as one of the teams that beat the Cavs on their home court this year.

  40. In attempting to avoid one’s fate, one often meets it.

    I am one for superstition, not so much for the actual causal conditions, but moreso for the psychological implications on Andrew. I say we let him fight through this mental impasse and see him better because of it. What’s he gonna do? Take 3-4 games off per year to avoid Memphis? Not like we should need him or force him to play heavy minutes, but he should at least go out there and get over it.

  41. The Dude Abides April 12, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    “Know Your Phil” on the Laker pregame show is hilarious…Billy Mac is cracking Phil up.

  42. Response from Andrew when asked whether he should play or not: “It’s not January.” Whoever sets up the NBA schedule next year should be fired if they give us a January game against Memphis.

  43. Man, Kurt, I was fine w/ playing CLE w/o HCA, but your post, coupled with the way they destroyed the Celtics, really scared me. I hope we can be mentally tough enough to hold up.

    @snoop touche about Kobe. Enjoyed your low blow. In the playoffs it’ll be more about superstars than anything, and Kobe will have to do the right things or it will cost us games.

  44. wow I cannot believe what I just saw right now on fsn with the whole “who knows phil the best?’ gameshow with jeanie buss, frank hamblem, and flea from red hot chili peppers… with billy mcdonald as the host.

    the most embarassing and hilarious and awkward question, but played so cool by phil, ever!! when asked outta 3 choices what he and jeanie would do on vacation in paris first, phil answered they’d get their groove on and go straight to the room instead of a private tour or seeing the eifel tower. LOL. high quality entertainment right there. I mean, does he and dr. buss have that open of a relationship where they openly discuss hotel habits on trips with his daughters? omg funny stuff. haha, PJ always keeping it real. gotta love it.

    as for tonight’s game, excited to see oj mayo back in southern cali, the gasols goin at it, and bynum ending the memphis jimx(even though it is more of a january jinx).

    also reed, excellent insight on the gasol trade. I’ve always felt that with trades that include a lot of draft picks and young talent, it really isn’t fair to judge the ultimate fairness of the trade until a few yrs have passed. but we all knew the main reason why the grizz made the trade… kind of like our vladmanovic trade, but more like what’s to come in the next couple yrs with owners shedding salary on big money guaranteed contracts.

  45. any links to the game?….not the justin tv ones plz…those dont work for me

  46. Love Ariza taking it to the rim.

  47. Sometimes in player comparisons, the best thing to do is ask another player:

    “Kuselias: You’re a 6-8 guard, Jalen. On your best day, would you rather check LeBron or check Kobe?

    Rose: Wow. That’s picking your poison.

    I’d probably rather check LeBron. And the reason why is because LeBron, as a young player — picture that: LeBron still has room to grow — he doesn’t post up yet and he hasn’t consistently knocked down his 3-point shot. And they don’t move him around as much. So he’s not as hard to find.

    He has the basketball. He’s a freight train in the open floor. But in the half court, you try to play his perimeter shot, and if he’s knocking it down, you’re in trouble.

    When Kobe Bryant pulls up in the parking lot at the arena, he’s in his range. Because of that, you have to be on him at all times. And he understands how to seize the moment, he makes his 3-point shots and he consistently makes free throws, as well.”

    –Jalen Rose

  48. lol when he pulls up in the parking lot. That’s hilarious.

    I said it on Friday, I’ll say it again: our defense is somewhere between 2 and 500 times better with Andrew Bynum in the middle.

  49. Did Stu just endorse Fisher to take more PUJITS?

  50. Zephid,

    I think Stu was encouraging Fisher to get easier shots, meaning go to the rim, although Fisher is such a bad finisher I’m not sure that’s the best idea.

    Memphis has a really hard time generating offense. Gay and Mayo aren’t first options and with Conley having the ball more, they’re having a hard time knowing what their role is. Someone has to give and know what their role is. Also, I agree with Zephid that our defense is immeasurably better with Bynum. Anything he contests gets altered, and you can see him intimidating anyone under the rim.

  51. HOLY CRAP MARKO JARIC GET IN THAT POSTER

  52. SHANNON BROWN WITH THE POSTERIZATION.

  53. What was Jaric thinking? He was just in time to make Shannon’s poster!

  54. Yea, way to go Brown…

  55. I think Shannon Brown has done everything in his power to make Farmar’s demotion warranted and official.

    I’m very surprised how he has stepped up and gotten it done. So far. This is how contracts are earned.

  56. I do not like Sasha dribbling and shooting. I have not seen him make one of those shots yet since he started shooting them a few games ago. It’s just not his game.

  57. Wow, Hamed Haddadi in the game. Hollins is mailing it in early.

  58. does Rudy Gay even care about playing this game anymore?

  59. BCR,

    It’s time to think about lottery balls.

  60. wondahbap,

    Oh, I know. I would think the mail-in would just come a bit later, that’s all.

  61. Last year it was Ariza, this year it may be Shannon Brown…

    How are we finding these gems, or is it Phil’s system that has a way of making even the Smush Parkers of the world look servicable? SB still seems raw, but if we can get him to become that elusive PG spot defender we sorely needed…

    Brown – Kobe – Ariza

    Pau / Odom – Bynum

    Now that’s some promising blocks to build a defensive team with.

    Offense, I’m not as sure tho ;)

  62. is it just me, or does the Laker defense just seem smarter with Brown instead of Farmar?

  63. Morrison in. This game is Phil’s license to test stuff.

  64. Kobe can’t miss today. Talk about him and jinxes…

  65. Pretty late in the season to be experimenting but I like it. Says a lot about our depth and talent.

  66. 63

    All I know is, I don’t see too many guards waltzing into the lane with impunity when Brown is on the court.

  67. I think Farmar has been learning from Fish to swipe at balls when they’re firmly in other players grasp, except Fish is a master of this art to do so without getting fouled, whereas Farmar is merely a novice.

  68. Our bench is having a pretty good game. LO hitting some nice shots,
    Shannon with a monster dunk,
    Sasha with a three and traditional dumb foul,
    and Luke very creative with passing

  69. Did Patrick just say Ariza called Rudy “soft”?

  70. Yes he did. Throwing fuel on the fire.

  71. Kobe misses his parking lot shot…

  72. If that’s true, that was probably dumb. Let bygones be bygones…

  73. Again, love Ariza not settling for the jumper.

  74. Wow, that was a bullet from Powell. Next time just stick to shooting Josh.

  75. anyone else notice that the gasols share the same loud, agonizing yells when going up and getting contact? but it seems to me that pau’s is the more dominant roar.

  76. Ariza!!!

  77. Again, Shannon leading all Lakers in +/- with +11. Good things happen when he’s on the floor.

  78. and the Kings get screwed by the refs – Finley hits a 3 with 1.2 secs left despite it being a clear shot clock violation. Rough.

  79. The spectacular dunks are what we remember most, but Brown really keeps it simple out there. You don’t really see him trying many risky plays or bad shots. If Farmar took that approach to the game he might be starting by now.

  80. Not watching the game, but hearing great things about Shannon Brown. It’s amazing to me how he’s overcoming his offensive limitations.

    What I’ll really be watching for is how Brown plays after an offseason and training camp. What’s his work ethic like? Now that Phil will clearly define a role for him in exit interviews, can he work to improve the areas he needs to? Primarily shooting and learning the offense better. If so, he might find a real home here.

  81. 79

    It was so obvious in real time too. The league needs to expand the use of replays for situations like that.

  82. The Dude Abides April 12, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    The more I watch Pau, the more I think his yells while shooting are the basketball equivalent of a grunt on a tennis shot. When he thinks he’s fouled, he yells louder or sometimes yells “And One!”

    I’m going to echo what everyone is saying about how much better our defense is with Shannon Brown instead of Jordan. Also, Mike Conley is never going to be much more than a serviceable starting PG.

  83. Joel – That’s exactly what I noticed about Brown too. He just plays within himself, doesn’t push the envelope. Part of me thinks it’s because he’s still relatively new to the most complex offense in the league. I hope as he becomes more adjusted he doesn’t start pushing his limits (because primarily what got him in trouble in Charlotte and even Mich St if I remember correctly is trying to do too much). Then again, with the talent on the Lakers much less is asked of him, so it might just be a win-win situation.

  84. What is it about Mike Conley that makes him so atrocious? This guy was drawing comparisons to Tony Parker at one point. Is it system, OJ Mayo dominating the ball, or is he really just not that good?

  85. Snoopy – I agree with you. It seems like sometimes he’s out there itching to run, run, run on every opportunity and make something happen out of nothing (I think our broadcast crew noticed this too tonight), but then something kicks in and he slows down to make the right play. Hopefully that rationality doesn’t leave him as he becomes more comfortable on the team.

  86. Another Sasha dunk!

  87. Another Slam by sasha. I think he likes to do that now.

  88. Everybody is dunking tonight! Sasha with the dunk.

  89. 85

    I watched Conley play a lot early in the season and I wasn’t impressed at all. He’s supposedly this super-quick PG, but I didn’t see that quickness making an impact in terms of him getting into the lane and finishing. Mayo was dominating the ball a lot which didn’t help matters, to be fair to Conley.

    Since then his outside shot has improved a lot, and if you look at his recent performances he has been far from atrocious. I’m still not convinced he has the explosiveness or court vision to be a top-notch PG, but he’s serviceable.

  90. The Dude Abides April 12, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    God I love that Amazing Happens commercial where Kobe hits the game winner against Phoenix in the 2006 playoffs. My favorite thing about it is seeing Lamar’s pure joy.

  91. Seems to me that Shannon plays smarter offensively than Farmar. He’s not always gunning it and takes drives or shots within the flow. He doesn’t force shots and passes well.

  92. 91, the thing about that play, is the only reason Kobe has the space to make the shot is because of Luke’s screen. Shows us how Luke does all the little things that make us win.

    Really liked Sasha’s and Shannon’s play tonight. Now all we need is for Trevor and Fisher to work on their shots, and we’re golden.

  93. The Dude Abides April 12, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Also, the most disappointing thing about tonight is WHY IS ADRIANA LIMA NOT HERE? I demand answers!!

  94. On a completely unrelated note, Dwyane Wade is the truth. This guy…I can’t even begin to describe how incredible he is. He has a chance of one day knocking Kobe from the #2 2-guard spot, and that is simply mind boggling.

    He has more all-around skills and more polished skills than Lebron, the only difference being that he’s smaller. If Pat Riley doesn’t surround Wade with enough talent to make the Heat a perennial contender, he will have cheated basketball fans out of a legend.

    If Lebron and Wade (who do elevate their teams more than Kobe currently does, that’s a fact) can keep their teams in contention for the next decade, it truly will be Bird-Magic II. I will be deeply disappointed if it doesn’t happen, because those 2 players don’t need a heap of talent around them to elevate their teams to contention.

  95. The Dude Abides April 12, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    90. Yeah, I believe Conley was the first PG selected in the 07 draft. I think he was the #3 or #4 pick. When you take a PG that high, he really should be able to blow by his defender and get to the rim, or if not, have great court vision. Conley has neither. In this year’s draft, the only elite PG lock is Rubio. I don’t know if Ty Lawson will become one, but I think he will be better than Conley.

  96. The Dude Abides April 12, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    79. I just noticed that the referees for that Spurs-Kings game were the same Danny Crawford crew that reffed Friday’s Blazers-Lakers and the travesty of Game 2 of last year’s Finals. I would say that Danny Crawford and Bennett Salvatore are the two worst long-time officials in the league. It’s too bad that the league won’t just let Javie’s crew call every game in the Finals.

  97. 96

    Who would you pick as your 2 All-NBA first-team guards?

    Looking at how Paul and Wade have played, it seems like a travesty to leave either of them out, even though I still rank Kobe (skill-wise) as the best player in the league.

  98. The Dude Abides April 12, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Everyone on Prime Ticket is gabbing about the Lakers potentially tanking against Utah in order to get a better matchup in the first round against Dallas. Besides the bad habits and immorality of it, I’d much rather we face the Jazz. Dallas is a better road team, and they are playing quality ball now that Howard is back.

    The Jazz have been stinking up the court since Boozer returned, Shannon Brown can match up better with D-Will than Jordan can, and there is no intimidating defensive presence down low. I can easily see us sweeping Utah, which would be sweet since I can’t stand their vile fans.

  99. If Cleveland wins tomorrow, Kobe and Pau should sit on Tuesday. Kobe needs to be fully rested and it wouldn’t hurt Pau either. Tonight’s win was good on so many levels: no injury to Drew, everyone got involved, Shannon Brown played decently and defensively – again, and the team seemed to really enjoy playing. It’s as if they are now steeling themselves for the season that will truly define this year – the playoffs. HCA only matters if we meet Cleveland and we have to win 3 tough series for this to even matter. I hope PJ splices in the XX commercials before the playoff videos (cue 39 point beating in Game 6 with “Stay thirsty my friends.”). Go Lakers!

  100. 96, and Carmelo Anthony as Bernard King.

  101. For the All-NBA first team I would slide Lebron over to Power Forward and Kobe to Small Forward. While they don’t start at those positions, they do get some playing time at them for small ball.
    PG. Chris Paul
    SG. Dwayne Wade
    SF. Kobe Bryant
    PF. Lebron James
    C. Dwight Howard

  102. 102 – lol I didn’t live through the 80s, so not sure I get the reference. Was he sort of a 3rd wheel to Bird-Magic?

    96, Joel – That’s a really tricky one. Wow. Gerrit has the ideal solution. But if we’re keeping Kobe as a guard? I’d have to say Kobe and Wade.

    It’s cruel because technically CP3 does more for his team than Kobe and elevates their play more. But Kobe has the status after being on top for so long, and Paul will be around for years to come. It’s stupid reasoning, but I just can’t leave Kobe or Wade off the first team.

  103. 104 – Bernard King had talent for days, but injuries and other, ahem, things always kept him from being recognized nationally the same way Magic and Bird were. Bernard could score, but getting his teams to win often wasn’t always the case.

  104. Dude, that kobe game winner against pheonix is easily now, with of course exceptions to that heineken commercial where the guys stroll into a walk-in closet of endless beer and can’t stop freakin screaming, my favorite commercial by far. from… like u said odom’s pure joy, and also luke’s screen on bell, to kobe embracing odom and odom then jumping on kobe, to sasha looking like a little boy, to the crowd reaction, and me always laughing at how ridiculous raja bell looks on that play(has this horribly wannabe intimidating look on his face like he’s gonna stop kobe/trying to punk luke outta the way on that screen).

    and about the gasol ‘grunts’ you are dead on. either pau is yelling for a whistle or he’s trying to intimidate the opponent. but since it’s pau, the latter never happens and usually it’s to get an And 1 call.

    wow, shannon brown definitely has impressed so far with increased PT. and it looks like farmar’s confidence has finally took a hit. we realistically don’t need scoring from the pg position with our talent everywhere else. all we need is strong defense, and great decision making. and shannon has showed that, plus more. man stu is right, it’s like a trampoline when he gets up there on a dunk. my sleeper prediction for all-star weekend next yr in dallas: shannon brown will take the slam dunk crown from nate and dwight and ruin lebron’s debut in the process… with kobe throwing the clinching lob to shannon for the winning dunk. :D

  105. the other Stephen April 12, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    insight from both reed and darius. feast upon our laker magnificence.

  106. Gr8 Scott – Thanks, makes sense.

    I wonder if there was an 80s analog to Kevin Durant. It’s hard to project how good Durant will be (somewhere along the line, Bill Simmons groupies jumped on the bandwagon and have now proclaimed Durant the savior of all things basketball). I think Durant will settle somewhere in between Melo and Wade. I don’t think he’ll be quite as good as Wade, but he could prove me wrong.

    Wade and Lebron have that magical ability to get to the rim literally at will (even more than Kobe in his prime could) because of unnatural physical gifts. Durant, while versatile, strikes me as a shooter first, rather than a penetrator. I don’t think he can elevate his teammates at the level that Lebron/Wade do; those two are more like bigger versions of CP3.

  107. I’m unsure on the rules concerning All-NBA positioning; while it is supposed to be irrespective of position, practically every team since 1956 has had two guards, two forwards, and a center.

    Assuming this stands, the picks probably looks something like this (picks in parenthesis are those if you can move players around/pick irrespective of position):

    First Team:

    Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard

    (Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard)

    Second Team:

    Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Yao Ming

    (Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming)

    Third Team:

    Tony Parker, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh, Shaquille O’Neal

    (Tony Parker, Devin Harris, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Shaquille O’Neal)

  108. 108, Snoopy, the Kevin Durant analog is the most obvious one: Michael Jordan. A couple years late to the party (Jordan was drafted 5 years after Magic and Bird, KD was drafted 4 years after LBJ,Wade,Melo). Durant, like Jordan in his younger years, is very skinny and is disproportionately fast for his height. However, Jordan was a much better driver and penetrator than Durant is now, but like Jordan, Durant has the build and talent to be an excellent defender, which really sets Jordan above the rest. Once Durant develops all of his tools and gains a couple of pounds, he’ll be a force in this league.

    As for Melo and King, both are fairly large built small forwards, while both have an almost unstoppable midrange game. They’re both primarily jump-shooters and jab-steppers, but when they’re hot, they can’t be beat. Couple that with the lack of defensive mentality, and I think Melo is a pretty good clone of King.

  109. #48 – Snoopy:

    I think 81 factored a little into that – he was the primary defender that night.

  110. #81 – Snoopy again (sorry for double-posting):

    He’s not signed beyond this year. If he plays really well, we might not even be able to afford him; I’m guessing the Lakers can spend at most half of the MLE on him, even if he does really well. Then some team might just come in and scoop him up.

  111. (Last post I swear)

    #100 Dood again:

    Who’s the intimidating defensive presence on the Mavs? The self-proclaimed second best center in the West? I find Boozer scarier, personally, than anyone the Mavs trot out in the paint.

  112. Simon – You’re right, I thought he’d at least be a restricted FA, but I guess not.

    That said, I doubt we’ll face stiff competition. With the economy the way it is, teams won’t be looking to overspent or even spend. This is a player who essentially failed at his last two stops and was given up on. I doubt even one solid playoff run will have suitors lining up with buckets of money.

    Zephid – Good call. I don’t think Durant will surpass Lebron/Wade the way MJ did, but he does play that newcomer, 3rd wheel sort of role.

  113. From the post game interview PJ said he might play his starters a little more than he did tonight when we play Utah on Tuesday. He will not tank the game to change our first round opponent, he said it is not the right way to play basketball, he is right. I did sense that the outcome did not really seem to matter either way, win or lose though, but he was not going to go all out for the win at the sacrifice of the starters. We will have to see what happens, should be an interesting game. I would like to see alot of Shannon Brown on Deron Williams though. Yea, this will be the last of the 82 for this year, on to bigger and better things.

  114. The Dude Abides April 13, 2009 at 12:24 am

    106. Wild–hot babes screaming is always a good thing, and the over the top, effeminate reaction of the guy in the light blue shirt is so hilariously at odds with the whole “real men drink beer” theme that it just cracks me up.

    Actually, regarding Pau’s yelling, the comparison to a tennis player’s grunting is along the lines of the expulsion of air during the effort, similar to a martial artist’s “kiai” as he breaks a pile of bricks.

  115. Simon,

    I’m not sure signing him will be that difficult. Unless he absolutely explodes during the playoffs, he’s not going to demand that much more than the minimum. And besides, in the current market, no one is going to overpay people. If we go far in the playoffs (and especially if we win the championship), I’m sure he’ll want to return to where he’s wanted.

  116. What I’m going to say sounds totally backwards.

    Tonite, Shannon Brown, like Pau Gasol last year, looked like he had been playing with his teammates for years. Instant karma Nearly everything on offense and defense worked.

    Jordan Farmar, on the other hand, looked like he was still trying to learn the system: he mostly did all the right things, but the timing was off–or he missed the shot–or?

    What’s going on?

    Farmar clearly has a great basketball mind, but his instincts are somehow out of synch with what the Lakers require of him. I really don’t understand it.

    Shannon might not be a fit for any NBA team but the Lakers, but, so far, he looks like the answer to many a Phil Jackson prayer.

    We may find out in round one if the Lakers play the Utah Jazz.

    Am I saying that I expect Shannon Brown to play a major role in the playoffs–even though two weeks ago I didn’t expect him to play at all?

    Pretend I didn’t say it.

  117. I think the death knell to Farmar’s playoff minutes will be if Shannon does a decent job on Deron Williams on Tuesday. As we’re practically guaranteed a first round matchup with Utah unless Dallas loses to Minnesota at home, Shannon is going to eat up all the backup point guard positions during the first round, as we remember Williams torching Farmar last year.

    From that point, Shannon will play significantly more minutes unless he falls apart during the Utah series. Phil is probably severely disillusioned with Farmar at this point and a series of seeing Brown perform well defensively against one of the league’s best point guards is definitely going to reinforce that feeling.

    Now, this is all subjective — Brown could fall apart for whatever reason or not do as well as a job Phil is hoping he will, but the way he’s been playing the last couple games and gauging Farmar’s performance, Shannon is going to get his minutes.

  118. Coincidence, if happens often, should be considered skill.

    For some reason, we have a knack of picking up players that seem to flourish here, and you have to stop and think if it’s PJ and his system making players look good, or if it is somebody on our team making teammates look better.

    I think, of course, the eternal cop-out, it’s a bit of both, but will become more of the latter as we pile up pieces that are smart.

    With Kobe, you only need to be a marginal #1 to look like you’re the real deal. Pau looks better than Kobe on most nights (efficiency-wise) but that’s probably because kobe demands a lot of attention (and the ball too).

    With Kobe and Pau looking like two legit #1s, now we have openings for #3s to look like legit #2s. Welcome Odom and Bynum.

    And with our two #3s looking like legit #2s, we have two #1 options and two #2 options… and guess what, a marginal starter on any other team has a chance to look like a decent starter!

    Yeah, i got a bit carried away, but I’m trying to think why we strike gold… or at least good quality silver whenever we trade marginal assets.

  119. With the lakers offensive talent all they need are the subs to play within themselves. Shannon cant change the game on the offensive end the same way Farmar when playing well can (which has been rare this year) but Brown has the potential to be a game changer on the defensive end. If the starters take care of business like their supposed to Shannon is a much better fit but if our offense isnt producing we can always go to Farmar.

    I say play him but keep him on a short leash. He can be the lakers wildcard.

  120. 108 – Snoopy

    Kobe, since his third season gets to the rim at will, just as well as Lebron or Wade. If you haven’t seen it, you haven’t watched the Lakers for the past decade. I know Kobe’s been settling for the outside for the past two years, but he used to be a monster slaser/driver. And he still could be, if he chooses to be. The man’s getting up there in basketball years and needs to preserve his body for the long term. If that turns fairwheather fans into constant doubters, so be it. When MJ refined his post game, he became a great, rounded talent. Kobe is diversified, moreso than any player in the league; sheer physical gifts do not make a great career*, but they help.

    *Subject to the Shaqfu exemption rule.

  121. I’m with you drrayeeye. I didn’t think Shannon would play any minutes. I thought the idea of him playing when we acquired him as ridiculous. He has surprised me. I never liked his game in college. He is doing what a professional should. Stepping up when it’s time. Good job Mitch.

    I also agree with some comments that refer to the much better defense with Brown in as opposed to Jordan. Did anyone else notice how Jordan didn’t even bother to not get picked on the screens Portland ran every time down the floor. Sure enough, the PG got penetration, kicked to an open guy. Score. Every. Time. He didn’t attempt to show, and sure didn’t stay with the roll. Just lazily followed his guy 2 ft back. Right then, in the 2nd quarter, I officially jumped off of the “We’re going to need what he brings” bandwagon.

  122. Has anyone seen the 4 letter’s ESPN roundtable MVP picks? How could FOUR sportswriters possibly pick Kobe 5th in the MVP race. I can understand passing on 1st or maybe even 2nd in favor of Lebron or Wade…but 5th?! That is just insanity.

    It ultimately doesn’t mean much (just ask Dirk), but it still irks me. People expect SO MUCH from Kobe that they can’t even see & appreciate him for what he means to the game and what he can do on the highest level.

  123. Man that Shannon Brown and 1 dunk was awesome last night.

    Couple of weekend Lakers thoughts:

    Great to see Drew return on Thursday, played some pretty good defense in that game, officiating (for both sides) made the game pretty choppy and almost boring at times. TNT games tend to end up that way most of the times, it seems.

    Tough loss against Portland, but I really am not buying into being worried about seeing the Blazers in round 2/any point of the playoffs. First off, there won’t be any back to back/3am arrivals for the Lakers. Second of all, our team knows how to turn it on. Cliche statement, but it has never applied to a team more in recent memory then this Lakers team. They played strong for 3 quarters Friday night and seemingly ran out of gas come the 4th. There were some bad plays, but it almost seemed like they were trying to go out winning as opposed to playing for OT. The Kobe 3 w/ 45 or so seconds left made it seem that way to me, maybe I’m just over-confident though.

    I just think full-strength Bynum, play-off tested Lakers bench/support players, Pau/Kobe/LO (playoff L.O., don’t forget what he did to everyone but Boston last year) will be way too much for even the most confident Blazers team. I’m not taking anything away from the Blazers, but Fish/Kobe/LO/Pau all know how much to step up in the playoffs, I can’t say I buy Blake, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Pryzbilia, Nicolas Batum, and the rest of the Blazers taking it to another level. Roy, yes. The rest, not sure.

    Finally, fun game last night. Some great dunks, excellent Bynum play, and one of my favorite matchup’s in the league of Pau vs. Marc. Watching those 2 is almost like watching a pro wrestling match, as if the two of them know exactly what is going to happen when it’s going to happen.

  124. Kareem – Please don’t tell me whether or not I have watched the Lakers for the last decade, or call me a fairweather fan. My memory isn’t that short, it’s not like I was comparing Wade/Lebron in their primes to Kobe today; I just finished watching Kobe against Portland in 2001. I never said Kobe couldn’t get to the rim, but it’s no secret he doesn’t have the physical gifts that Lebron or Wade do. Lebron needs no explanation, there’s never been another like him physically. Wade is more explosive than Kobe ever was, and his change of directions is killer. Please don’t pretend that Kobe could ever go from baseline to baseline in 3 seconds. Kobe WAS a monster, he terrorized the league for a decade physically, but you have to realize how unnatural Wade’s explosiveness is.

    If anything, it makes me appreciate Kobe that much more. Kobe has a much more diverse, polished, and skilled game than Lebron or Wade without relying on unnatural physical gifts. It’s a testament to his work ethic, and it makes him that much more impressive.

    I’ve realized recently that appreciating other players’ greatness does not diminish my team or my favorite players. It’s called being a simple intelligent basketball fan.

  125. 122, I challenge whether Kobe could turn it on if he wanted to now. We have yet to see any evidence whatsoever this season that Kobe wants to get to the rim at will, even with big games against Boston and Cleveland on the line. Yes, Kobe still gets dunks and layups, but that’s mostly because the opposition is playing him so tight because they fear he might just rise and fire from 26 feet. Kobe is one of the best pure shooters ever; no one is going to deny that. But to say that he hasn’t lost a step when he’s in his 30s now is just wishful thinking. Kobe needs to become what Jordan was in his 2nd three-peat years; an unstoppable mid-post force. But he no longer has the explosion to get to the rim, much like Jordan didn’t when he got older.

  126. I really enjoyed watching Luke Walton’s game last night. Especially when he passed the ball between his legs behind him to a wide open Sasha for a jumper. Also, the perfect behind the back pass to Brown for the And-1 Dunk.

  127. A few notes:

    I said at the time of the trade that Memphis made a reasonable move, so I agree, obviously, with Kurt.

    Even if Stern fines the Lakers or something, I would hold Pau and Kobe out of the Utah game. Jackson has already said he won’t, but I hope at least that he only plays them token minutes. Bynum does need to play for obvious reasons. There will be plenty of time to talk about this, but I suspect many will agree with me when I say I would have preferred that the Lakers play Dallas in Round 1.

  128. The way Utah has been playing I’m not sure I’d rather have Dallas.

    Based on prior years, sure, Dallas would have been nice, but at this point there really is no defense for the way Utah is playing. They simply don’t look like an elite team. D-Will definitely is one of the best players in the league, but his role players simply aren’t bringing a solid effort.

    They don’t match up with us at all, we match up w/ them brilliantly, and I honestly expect a sweep or at the most 5 games.

  129. We are still comparing Kobe to MJ. I thought that train left the station years ago. Unless you can go back to the 60’s, I don’t think any comparisons are really valid. Unless you saw the 80’s, you really shouldn’t talk about all-time bests in such an absolute fashion. People – let’s just enjoy what we are seeing today and not get into all-time comparisons. The Bernard King/Melo comparison is fun, for those who saw Bernard play.

    harold,
    Nice discussion of the dynamics of the team. Each addition has made the lesser players better. I feel some credit has to go Mitch’s way for knowing exactly what type of players to get and correctly evaluating them before any trade.

  130. I don’t care who we play, but if I had to choose. I would pick Utah over Dallas. I believe the Mavs are a better team. Utah is a team that benefits from generous whistles at home. They are TERRIBLE on the road and Deron is the only player who scares me. They match up worse than Dallas can. they have nobody to play one of our bigs, never mind both of them, and still no match up for LO nor Kobe.

  131. Can someone clear something up for me. Regarding the Spurs, and Finley’s contraversial 3 pointer, I keep reading that Refs can’t use instant replay to reverse a call.

    However, I remember during the course of history, that, refs have looked at videos to confirm shots. For example, Fisher’s .4 shot, or as recently as the game against the 76ers, where, the Lakers had to wait for the refs to confirm the shot.

    So what was different here?

    Thanks

  132. it was a shot clock violation apparently thats why?

  133. Ohhh, I see. It’s not that the final buzzer rang before his shot. It was that the Shot timer hit zero before his shot.

    Ok. Thank you very much

  134. Snoopy – just a quick followup to the Durant comparison that I’m surprised no one who watched ball in the 80s brought up – Alex English. Granted English didn’t shoot many if any 3s (because the # of 3s attempted in the 80s was less than now), but overall, both lean scorers who were good full court and half court players. Just my 2 cents. And FTL, please go back to Portland, San Antonio, Sactown or whatever other western conference team that the Lakers have routinely beaten in the postseason. Wait, isn’t that all of them?

  135. I think that we should adopt a similar substitution pattern to last night for the Utah game – limit Kobe / Pau to 30 mins max and play everybody. If we win, that’s great. If we lose, oh well.

    What I don’t want to see is something that looks like we are trying to manipulate the playoff seedings (if they are still unsettled by Tuesday). Why give extra motivation to the Jazz by insinuating to them that they would be an easier matchup than the Mavs or whoever? Conversely, why plant seeds of doubt in our team that they would find it more difficult to play a particular team over another?

    With that being said, I agree with others that the Mavs and the Jazz seem to be heading in opposite trajectories now, and I’d rather play the slumping team over the surging team.

  136. I concur with the above that Dallas is increasingly looking like a more dangerous prospect than Utah, who has played horrible lately. Boozer is a shell of the All-Star player he was, Okur is inconsistent, Kirlienko has fallen apart, Millsap has regressed from his play at the beginning of the year, Brewer hasn’t become the star we thought he could, and the bench production has dropped off considerably.

    Aside from Williams, who honestly is carrying this team most nights, I don’t see a whole lot to be worried about unless they flip a switch in the playoffs. Boozer and Okur won’t be able to guard Odom, Gasol, or Bynum, and most of all, they still have no answer for Kobe aside from fouling him on every play. This Jazz team is essentially a copy of last year’s team, and in last year’s playoffs, Kobe took an absolutely outrageous 96 free throws in six games and made 80 of them. Don’t see that changing a whole lot.

  137. With our team recently making lineup changes, I do not want the easiest path to the finals. If we get our wish, we could be unprepared for finals play. I would much rather see us tested in each round so that we could improve our modified rotation plan.

  138. I’ve noticed the past few games Kobe has removed the tape from his Index finger and his shooting seems to be getting better I see Kobe getting Into playoff mode don’t worry I have a feeling will be at a the parade In June

  139. Folks – any thoughts on whether we have seen enough of Brown to merit continued minutes during this upcoming playoff round? I know Farmar has been everyone’s whipping boy, but he is a known risk. Just curious what everyone thinks at this point.

  140. I think I’d rather play Utah, if only for style of play reasons. Wounded or not, playing like crap or not, they play a hard-nosed, fairly rough style of ball, and that’s what playoff basketball is all about. So we might as well get in that mindset from the get-go. They also play a somewhat methodical style of ball, which is what everyone else in the West plays, aside from Dallas (and us, of course). Again, might as well get used to it.

    I don’t fear Dallas by any means – although they are the one team that could possibly match us basket-for-basket if they got hot – but I do fear what playing them and their no-defense, no-banging, run-and-gun style of play could possibly set us up for in the second round.

    If we’re going to get our nose or lip bloodied, I’d rather it be early on.

  141. I think Brown’s play the last few games has warranted more minutes, but I think I’d feel more comfortable w/ Farmar after Tuesday. Playoffs are a different beast altogether, and Farmar has been there and played fairly decent from what I can recall.

    I think Brown has earned a spot on this team from here on out, and I think he could turn into an absolute steal for us, however he is young, inexperienced, and I’m not sure he’s ready for the big stage…yet.

  142. I’m clearly late to the party, and apologize in the event I parrot what’s said above.

    1. On the Gasol trade…
    I think it’s way too speculative to say that Memphis got O.J. Mayo because of this deal. Better draft position tends to happen in one-sided trades. I don’t think you give a GM extra credit when the ping pong ball bounces his way after giving up all star in a lopsided trade. I do think it’s a good point to make that trades involving young players just can’t be judged the moment they happen. That said, nobody could have been so deluded as to think that Memphis received the same quality that it gave up. Lakers got an All-Star, and Memphis got an All-Star’s brother.

    Not to mention the fact that pretty much any fantasy GM would STILL do that same trade today. And next year.

    2. On the Lakers in general…
    I predict that there will be no shortage of conspiracy theories that will start to simmer in round 2, and boil over by the start of the Cavs-Lakers finals, surrounding the league’s so-called plan to get its two most marketable stars in seven games.

    Except I cannot imagine who’ll beat the Lakers. I can see the Rockets beating your team once or twice, and maybe the Jazz threatening to do the same. But over a seven game series? No freaking way.

    For as critical as some of you all are on here, I think it would take a catastrophic meltdown or injury to knock the Lakers off their game enough to fail to make the playoffs. Defensively, they’re peaking. Odom seems to be done being upset about his role. And all the guys who played soft last year are behaving like they’re the baddest bullies on the playground.

    I guess my biggest concern would be in your guard play, and specifically your point guard play, on both sides of the ball. But it’s not a huge concern. It’s not like you’re throwing Matt Maloney out there.

    And the Cavs – they won’t be losing at home. Not until the Finals, at least.

  143. FTL,
    Well, nobody has won anything in the playoffs yet so I guess Cleveland, Boston and Orlando fans are riding as big a sugar rush as any of us who think the Lakers are strong title contenders. I mean, since when has the regular season been any indication of playoff success? When has beating the top two teams in the other conference, both home and away, given anybody any confidence in a team’s ability? When has having one of the top 3 or 4 players in the NBA coupled with two excellent big men whose skill set complement each other ever indicated playoff success? Since when has having the best 6th man in the league indicated any sort of playoff success? Since when has having one of the great coaches of all times as the head coach of your team been any indication of possible playoff success? Since when has a large pool of useful role players been any help in winning a few playoff series? When has winning your conference by 10 games ever given anybody any sense that their team is pretty darn good? I’m telling you Snoopy, switch to the purple. That red stain you’ve had around your lips (with only 8 titles since 1980) is getting a little tired.

  144. I’m still firmly in Farmar’s corner long term, but I’m getting more into the idea of Shannon getting some extended time on the floor should the Lakers play Utah in Round 1. His size is a better match for Williams, despite whatever experience Jordan has over Brown from last year’s playoffs.

    Not to go all “bash the officials” again, but having two backup points who can get some things done in a series in which Utah’s best player is a PG may have benefits we’ve not yet touched upon.

    We know Williams is going to get some calls; he’s an All-Star, and All-Stars get touch fouls called that a bench player would not. Multiply this by five for games in Salt Lake, where the refs tend to forget that there are two teams playing, hence Utah’s solid home court advantage.

    I like having 12 fouls available to back up Fish, rather than six. If history shows us anything, I’m expecting to see Derek on the pine three, maybe four minutes into Game 3 with two really questionable calls on Williams. That’s just life in the NBA.

    (And, yes, Jazz fans, I know Kobe gets the same star treatment. My point isn’t that the refs won’t even things out over the series. It’s that we know the Lakers guards are destined for foul trouble, and it’s nice to have options when that issue arises.)

  145. P. Ami, I never really laid it all out in my mind like you just did about this Lakers squad and the way I even tend to perceive/think about them. I was on the thought to not want to play Utah in the first round, but that has changed now after reading the comments here at FB&G. It would be better to play the team on a downside instead of one that seems to be getting better and better every game towards the end of the season. Dallas does have some pretty good verteran players don’t they? We may end up playing both Utah and Dallas on the way to bigger and better things, hopefully right.

    When you change the way you look at things, the things themselves change.

  146. As a Memphis fan, it is refreshing to see an objective look at the Gasol trade. I did take issue with another comment I saw, though.

    “That said, nobody could have been so deluded as to think that Memphis received the same quality that it gave up. Lakers got an All-Star, and Memphis got an All-Star’s brother.”

    Maybe he is an All-Star in LA not having to be “the guy,” but he only made the game once while in Memphis, and barely made it at that. I, like most Gizzlies fans are glad that Pau is gone because the ownership took a risk giving him max money before letting the market set his value and it didn’t work out for anyone involved. He is not and will never be a franchise player and his stint in Memphis proved it. Just go back and watch some tape of the 4th quarters of Memphis’ 12 straight playoff losses. He faded at the ends of games because he couldn’t carry a team. Pau is a nice enough guy and I know he played as hard as he could. That just wasn’t a role he was able to handle. Unfortunately, his contract became a huge burden to the franchise and a large portion of the fans turned against him, Heisley, and most of all, Jerry West and his quick fixes. I don’t hold anything against Pau, because it wasn’t his fault. It ultimately just didn’t work out. I am glad the Grizz have moved on and, whether you can see it or not, they are in a much better and more flexable position, both on and off the court, now than they were just before the trade. With some good luck in the draft lottery, Memphis could very well have its core players for the future in place. If Conley doesn’t ultimately work out, his recent play will at least make him more attractive in a trade senario. The most critical piece, however, is the continued developement of Gay and Mayo. If they both become All-Star calliber players, Memphis can use that cap room to pay future contracts to its core and buy a decent bench, instead of throwing too much money at bigger name players that don’t really want to go to a small market.