That Was A Playoff Game?

Kurt —  April 20, 2009

In a lot of ways, the Lakers first game of the playoffs looked a lot like too many of their regular season games. They came out focused on the defensive end of the floor and caused all sorts of problems for the Jazz, plus shared the ball and hit open shots in the half court. Then they got up big and lost that focus. They held on for a comfortable win but not a dominating one.

Still, not a lot of concern in these parts about that first game. I feel my prediction here is safe. I don’t think the Jazz made great adjustments in the second half so much as the Lakers got sloppy. Things could be different if Okur returns — the Jazz were light on the pick and roll in the absence of their best pick-then-pop guy. They tried to be physical with this Lakers team, but these Lakers push back.

I want to break down what made me the happiest — the Lakers defense when Andrew Bynum went to the bench in the first quarter. This is where I feared a letdown, and instead the defense stayed strong. Here is a breakdown of the last four minutes of the first half, when the Jazz had the ball.

4:14 (Lakers up 6): Jazz run an inbound play from the sideline, where Deron Williams stepped back when Shannon Brown got stuck behind Carlos Boozer. Brown recovered fairly well but Williams isn’t missing an open shot from the top of the key.

3:51 (Lakers up 4): Williams tries a little iso shake and bake at the top of the key but ShanWOW stays in front of him well, so Williams passes to AK-47 popping out on the wing (off a couple screens). He has the shot, so Boozer and Millsap jump into the paint thinking board. But AK hesitates as the Lakers close out well, so he puts it on the floor then passes to Boozer in the middle of the key. Boozer now needs to collect the ball, take a dribble and… three seconds on Millsap. This highlights two things the Lakers did well in the first half — close out on shooters and use their length to bother the Jazz. The long arms had Jazz players thinking not reacting.

3: 20 (Lakers up 6): The Jazz run the stagger screen for D-Will that Kwame a. laid out in our previews, but the Lakers play it like they had seen it a million times, they anticipate and switch on picks, the result is there are no good shots, so Williams goes back out top for a reset of the offense. Williams is in isolation straight away and when he decides to drive he blows past Shannon Brown into the lane, but Lamar Odom slides over to protect the paint and that causes Williams to hesitate, and he loses control of the ball. Fast break basket for the Lakers going the other way.

I want to say this — Farmar (and Fisher) took a lot of heat here last year for their defense on Williams in the playoffs. But he can blow right by our new hero Shannon Brown too. The difference Sunday was the Lakers helped behind their guards a lot better. At least in the first half.

2:52 (Lakers up 8): Williams out on the wing just blows past ShamWOW again, but again LO is there with the help defense and going for the block causes the missed layup. Millsap grabs the board and goes up, but the length of Lamar Odom causes miss. Then “lather, rinse repeat” — Millsap grabs the board and goes up, but the length of Lamar Odom causes miss. Again the offensive board and the ball goes back out to D-Will for the reset. On the reset everyone loses Millsap who scores a layup on a cut back to the basket and a beautiful pass from Williams.

2:05 (Lakers up 8): Sasha is chasing Korver around picks off the ball and Boozer decides to help his teammate with a rather obvious elbow to the neck. While that is effective, it also is illegal.

1:31 (Lakers up 8): The ball goes to Millsap on the block against the bigger Gasol, and he does a nice job with the fake then the under and up, and while he misses he draws the non-shooting foul. On the inbounds reset the Jazz go to a mismatch, Matt Harpring is too strong for Odom on the low block, and he backs him down then hits the six a fade away. See, he can do more than foul.

:51 (Lakers up 9): D-Will is up high surveying the situation and then decides to drive again but this time takes just a few steps before passing out to CJ Miles for the three. Great closeout by Sasha means a terrible miss. If there was one key difference in the first half, it was shooter close outs — the Jazz left Ariza and Brown to take wide open, feet set looks. The Lakers allowed nobody to do that.

:28 (Lakers up 9): D-will looks like he is going to move but he instead passes to Harpring coming off a baseline down screen and he gets the ball at the elbow, turns and passes to CJ Miles who is cutting out of the corner to the basket. Miles goes around the first help in Gasol but Odom recovers to help and blocks the shot. The Lakers again anticipated the offense from the Jazz and were almost playing a zone on this one.

That is a big problem the Jazz face in this series — only Williams and sometimes CJ Miles can create their own shots. There are limited fallbacks when the offensive sets don’t work. That makes it easier for the Lakers to defend.



171 responses to That Was A Playoff Game?

  1. My thoughts on the second half:

    Coming off a fairly easy game against this team on the 14th and aware of their sturggles down the stretch, then going up 22 at the half, the Lakers have to wonder if the Jazz are going to show up at all for this series. As a result, they play extremely sloppy to start the 3rd and give up a 9-0 run.

    After that, the two teams played to a draw the remainder of the game (Jazz outscored the Lakers by 9 in the second half). During that stretch of even play the Lakers gave up 28 free throws and 12 or more offensive rebounds, while turning the ball over on offense however many times. Which is to say, the Lakers played awful. And played the Jazz even.

    So if the Lakers can engage themselves OR stop giving up offensive rebounds OR stop getting called for fouls, they should be fine.

    On another note re: the fouls and rebounds. I think the Lakers also gave up a million ORebs last year. If bynum isn’t in foul toruble, maybe he helps fix that, but the 2 issues go hand in hand. The last game of the season the Lakers were called for 35 fouls as a team at home. Is this just how they’re going to be officiated? Is it warranted? I know some calls were BS, and Utah usually fouls a lot more than the home team, but maybe we just react to their physicality by overplaying and fouling?

  2. That was an odd game, all the fouls created an uneven flow for the game. Toss in the turnovers and you see why Phil wasn’t too excited by the teams play. However, I have to mention that Ariza and Brown looked great. The athleticsm and defensive pressure they bring to the game is infectious. The lineup with those 2, LO, Kobe and Bynum may be our best defensive lineup. Also, when both of them are making 3 balls, we are unstoppable. I expect us to rebound better next game.

  3. Re: The refs — it’s Joey Crawford. You know he is going to insert himself into the game. He and his team called an overly tight game for the playoffs, when teams should be allowed to bang a little more. But that’s Crawford.

    That said, good teams adjust.

  4. I like the line “…these Lakers push back.” I do see a bit of a harder edge to this team, especially when we look at Odom. He’s our most easygoing player, and yet he also plays the odd role of our enforcer at times. He was the one yapping in KG’s face, taunting KG, locking horns with Harpring. He’s brought a new edge to this team (at times) that I really like.

    Re: David Thorpe’s odd post (from the last thread). I don’t necessarily agree. How often did we see the Spurs (at their best) or the Pistons foul jumpshooters? Hamilton had a slight tendency to do so, but it wasn’t part of their gameplan. Just because the Celts do it, and the Celts defense is the hot thing right now, does not make it law. You can be a strong defensive team without losing your mind at the end of games. Noah’s foul wasn’t just a strong close-out (which I can understand), it was more of a rabid, frenzied, out of control block attempt. How many times will a superstar get that call, even if you get all ball? You can play defense intelligently and still do it well. (I do understand where Thorpe is coming from, I just didn’t like Noah’s particular play).

    The one thing I liked about our win was that I didn’t see too much nervousness. Bynum may have rushed his shots a tiny bit. But we had some rotation players out there who were getting their first playoff burn, and I thought they did well. The calming presence of Kobe, Fish, Phil, no doubt.

  5. First thing I said when I noticed Crawford standing at center court was “this isn’t going to be good”.

    I thought he was pretty awful both ways, I can’t remember the last time I saw a playoff game w/ so many ridiculous ticky-tack calls.

    It was like he had a check list. Get D-Will/Boozer into early foul trouble. Check. Take away the Lakers advantage after it was clear Utah was no match, oh look Andrew Bynum…foul trouble. Check. Stop any flow of what was shaping up to be an incredibly fun game to watch. Check. Pau Gasol is really good, when’s the last time he fouled out? Hmmm, can’t remember…let’s get him out of here. Check. Wait, obligatory Joey Crawford crew quick technicals. Check.

    I thought for sure Sloan was going to hit the showers by the 4 minute mark of the first quarter. If Utah was half as tough as him they’d be scary, haha.

  6. The refs took away what could have been an excellent debut for Drew. Looking forward to him having a monstrous bounce back game on Tuesday.

  7. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    It was an UGLY second half that’s for sure.

    I think the Lakers offense got stagnant as well. Players weren’t moving as much, just kinda cruising, standing around, yawning maybe.

    The refs need to take a chill pill with the whistles because it was ridonkulous how the fouls completely destroyed the flow of the game.

  8. Re:Refs

    It’s not solely because Crawford was in the house. We’re playing Utah. It’s always like this with them. They pound and pound and put so much pressure on the official to blow the whistle. Expect it to get worse when things shift to Salt Lake. However, the result will remain the same. We’ll send them on vacation for the second year in a row.

  9. I knew we were in for a day when, as I suggested would happen last week, Fish was sent to the pine with two quickies less than three minutes into the game.

    I think Kurt’s correct in laying some of that off on Crawford. I’m more worried about when this moves to SLC, the refs get imtimidated and all of the fouls that were called Sunday are suddenly OK because the refs are too scared to call a foul on the Jazz in that hostile environment. There’s no other viable way to explain the difference between Utah’s home and road record, and this hasn’t been a secret to anyone who’s watched the NBA over the past two decades.

    Like Kurt said: good teams adjust. I’m glad L.A. has some unexpected depth vs. year ago. Brown’s addition, plus a healthy AB and Trevor more than offset the absence of Ronny and a less-than-2008-level Farmar.

  10. Let’s for hope for Steve Javie when we get to SLC (actually he’d be even more useful in Cleveland).

    Can Lebron seriously elevate his game even higher? I realize his range of skills is less than Kobe’s, but the skills he does have are so damn imposing that he seems fairly unstoppable. What kills me is his focus. He never seems to let up.

  11. Yeah I can’t say the refs were wrong because this is what Utah tries to do, but if they are getting the calls in Los Angeles, what’s going to happen in Utah???

  12. I hope Phil Jackson brings the beard back. He looks a little too grandfatherly right now for my taste. Plus the beard brings back 3-peat memories.

    Phil on his 2002 championship ring: “It kind of looks like a clown’s face a little bit when you actually look at it. It’s got three triangles on it that are placed like a nose and two eyes.”

  13. Way to many fouls, I had to keep flipping over to the Dodger game, I can only watch J. Collins shoot so many free throws.

  14. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Re: J. Collins

    I felt he was lighting us up or he was a vortex and all the rebounds were falling to him. It was like the guy was a rebound magnet.

    seriously, Pau/Drew/LO/Josh, box the guy out.


  15. Mike Brown apparently named Coach of the Year. For letting his assistant coach take the reins of the offense.

    Why are these media-based awards so f-d up, pardon my French? They have no rhyme or reason at all. Mike Brown was very deserving in one of the other years when he made a great team defense out of worthless players. But this year?

    This media nonsense has to end. There has to be a better way of selecting these awards.

  16. As Kurt said, good teams adjust to how the game is being called. The Lakers kept on fouling and the Jazz benefited from it by going to the line and staying aggressive. And let’s forget about Crawford for a second and understand that the Jazz we bullying their way to the basket. If you’re defending those types of plays/players, you must play better position defense and cut off driving angles in order to make the offensive player stop, change directions, pass, etc. The Lakers didn’t do any of those things, rather they reached more and were late on rotations. And on a couple of occasions they just let the Jazz go right by them seemingly saying “score or miss, I’m not going to foul right now”. This happened with Gasol letting AK47 get right to the basket and miss a layup and Odom letting Harpring do the same. Next game we must do better. The only player the Jazz have that can actually drive by us is Williams, so against Harpring, AK, Boozer, Brewer, etc we need to play better position D and contest shots with our length. In the end, I thought the refs stated their intentions quite clearly by calling a close game and we didn’t do a good job of dealing with a very aggressive Jazz team in the second half.

  17. Is there something wrong with Derek Fisher? He has made no impact in the last few games.

    The Lakers seemed best with Shannon Brown on the floor.

    The calls don’t bother me as much as a lack of fighting in the trenches. You can’t finesse Utah.

  18. I don’t see how we can be complaining about the officiating. Utah is at their best when they’re allowed to absolutely murder people on the down-screens and cross-screens. The officials calling the game tight benefits us way more than it does them, simply because we don’t rely on physicality to generate our offense or run our defense. Sure Drew got into foul trouble, but he’s been in foul trouble in every game since he returned; his timing just isn’t back yet so he’s getting caught in bad positions causing him to foul. So long as the refs call the game the same way on both ends (which is what Portland and Boston experienced on Saturday), no one has the right to complain.

    That being said, us being more physical would not be a bad thing. Compared to us, every other team in the league is under-sized. I’d like to see us go into Utah and out-muscle the Jazz on their home floor. Then I’ll know we’re ready to take the title, not just win it.

  19. Inwit-I think the Lakers will need Fish to get back to his November/December form to do what the Lakers want to accomplish. I’ve been nervous about Fish since February, but I’m just hoping as the weather heats up, Fish does too!

  20. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    They’re only give Mike Brown COY cuz the Cavs got the #1 overall seed.

    On another note, the TV ratings are out:

    “NBA Playoff ratings: Kobe up, LeBron down.

    ABC saw mixed results for coverage of the opening weekend of the 2009 NBA Playoffs.

    Game 1 between the Pistons and Cavaliers drew a 2.7 overnight rating on ABC Saturday afternoon, down 27% from a 3.7 for Suns/Spurs Game 1 in the same timeslot last year. The 2.7 is also off 4% from a 2.8 for Heat/Bulls Game 1 in ’07, but matches a 2.7 for Wizards/Cavaliers in ’06.

    Meanwhile, Sunday’s Game 1 between the Jazz and Lakers drew a 4.0 overnight rating, up 3% from a 3.9 for Nuggets/Lakers in the same timeslot last year, and the highest overnight for an opening weekend NBA Playoff game since ’03.

    Overall, ABC averaged a 3.4 overnight for coverage of the first weekend of the NBA Playoffs, down 11% from a 3.8 last year, and even with ’07.”

    Looks like anything to do with Lakers are a ratings success. Proves that the NBA does need the Lakers to draw in those casual fans. No one cares enough about LBJ. Sad but true.

  21. Several pundits have mentioned Kirilenko’s curious decision to side-wind a pass over Korver’s head in the corner instead of dunking when he had a break away as being a back-breaking turnover.

    This play in Jan 2008 must have flashed back into Andre’s head when he saw Kobe timing his jump and caused that wayward pass. Kirilenko’s mistake on Sunday came at a critical juncture with the Jazz making a run and after Kirilenko had made a clean strip of Kobe. Instead, a turnover and the Lakers resume order.

  22. I’ve asked this before, but I’ll bring it up one more time: does anyone out here see ANY reason for morrison to be active and not mbenga? It’s not like Bynum’s foul trouble in game one were such a surprise, right? Does anyone see a situation in which Morrison might actually play (other than garbage time)? Kee-rist, it might make more sense to active *Sun* than AMMO, although still would make no sense at all… Mbenga! Mbenga!

  23. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Actually, let me rephrase that.

    Either people don’t care for LBJ or the Cavs


    They just figure the Cavs will sweep the Pistons, nothing exciting to watch.

    But if you notice the chart with all the ratings on it, every single Laker game was higher than the other games shown. So, despite all the LBJ lovefest, most casual viewers still rather watch the NBA with Kobe and the Lakers.

  24. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    lil pau,

    Morrison gets paid more than DJ?

    that’s the only answer I have for you.


    interesting article about the state of laker fans at staples center, any ideas why we have gone this route?

  26. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    lil pau –

    I think the reason PJ has Morrison actived over DJ is:

    a. He doesn’t want to hurt the kid’s feelings

    b. Morrison gets paid too much to be on the inactive list

    c. As many blocks as DJ gets, he’s also a foul magnet, which leads to more disruptive game flow and puts the Lakers into penalty that much faster. I guess Phil outweighs his foul proneness over his ability to block shots.

  27. RE: 24


    I was ashamed for everyone at Staples when they started chanting “We Want Tacos!”

    Are you kidding me? IT’S THE FREAKING PLAYOFFS.

  28. kwame a – I had heard a rumbling about a foot injury, but haven’t seen anything official. All those minutes this year didn’t help. He just seems passive out there.

    lil pau – exactly, I was thinking the same thing. If it gets real rough, send in DJ for 5 minutes!

  29. I am going to disagree with the crowd and say that I didn’t’ see anything atrocious about the refereeing of the game. It might not have been stellar, but in addition to being an improvement from the last few games of the regular season, it was about what I expected.

    The Jazz play a very physical game, especially for their size, so physical in fact that it it was the TrailBlazers or Celtics doing it, we’d probably describe it as “thuggish”. Because of this, as Zephid has already pointed out, that means that when the game is called tightly, we benefit and the Jazz suffer — quick whistles cramp their style, while it gives us more room.

    We have more finesse players than they do, while we don’t really have a good enforcer on the roster right now. I’d like to see Lamar step up and claim that mantle on a more consistent basis, mainly because of his size, but until that day comes, against a team that does not hesitate to throw an elbow when they think they have to (2:05 in Kurt’s post up there) tight refereeing is good for us.

  30. #24, 26:
    I agree with both of you. The two Jazz fans I was watching the game with didn’t think the chant was very funny (“Oh, that’s classy.”), and I personally was a bit embarrassed that the crowd roared louder for tacos than for anything else during the game. Priorities, anyone?

  31. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Re: TACOS

    Talk about mixed up priorities, right?

    People rather chant for Tacos than cheer for their team.

    I guess maybe Laker fans are just spoiled.

    I know someone said that the jumbotron tells people to chant that, but I don’t seem to remember it showing us that when I attended a game recently.

    But in all seriousness, the MVP chants were pretty strong at the Nuggets game. And whenever the Lakers looked like they were going to make a great play, the fans were loud and supportive.

  32. Can’t Hollywood types afford their own tacos? This can’t be put down to the rich-people atmosphere at Staples, it seemed (I could be wrong) that a lot of the chant was coming from the upper levels.

    It’s hard being a Laker fan, having to defend against crap like that. Mimsy, PBS, and others said it best – how can you cheer louder for tacos than your own team?

    I’d love – just once – to hear Kobe or someone call out the home crowd. Not viciously, but just say something like “It’d be nice to have a home-court advantage like the Cavs, Blazers, or Jazz do. Just once.”

    I don’t even like tacos.

  33. Re: tacos: I was there yesterday and the fans were INTO IT. The tacos chant, and I say this with moral neutrality, is not imo about tacos at all, but rather means: ‘Other team: we have just beaten you so handily that your pathetic attempt to struggle against our dominance no longer interests us– this game is over and you, negligible pretenders to the throne, mean less to us than a couple of (bad) tacos’.

    In this regard, it’s closer to the ‘Utah s*cks’ chant or the Chick Hearn refrigerator or the old school ‘Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye’ than anything else. I’m a longtime season ticket holder and I have NEVER seen a taco chant when the game is on the line.

    Finally, it’s an improvement over the old days when the tacos were given when the Lakers won & scored over 100– that was *truly* unsportsmanlike, an incentive to run up the score to appease the fans.

    Laker fans may deserve criticism for arriving late a lot of the time, and the arena’s architecture/pricepoint for the very best seats precludes the place getting as loud as portland or SLC (how many courtside fans can name all 5 of the lakers’ starters even 10 minutes into the game?), but the ‘real’ fans were into it and to suggest that somehow they/we were more interested in tacos than the outcome is dead wrong. Tacos are gravy– the cherry on top of the victory, if you can excuse the unappetizing mixed metaphor…

  34. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    If any of you have questions, now is the time to ask!

    Mike Trudell who runs the official Lakers blog is holding a live chat:

  35. From that article:

    “Listening to the roar of the Rose Garden should infuriate us. As a matter of fact, it’s downright embarrassing. What do Portland fans have to cheer about that we don’t?
    Lakers Nation, we have a problem. If you’re lucky enough to land tickets to a playoff game, you have a responsibility to matter. You’re 1 of 18,997 fans representing the millions of people that are the Lakers Nation. You owe it to the rest of the Laker faithful to turn Staples Center into an opposing players’ nightmare. If tacos are more exciting than what’s happening on the court, then by all means, sell your ticket to a real fan and enjoy your afternoon at Taco Bell.”

    Perfect. I’ve never read Jason Riley before, but I applaud him.

  36. Re: #21 Bill Bridges, that block was the first thing that popped into my mind too. While having a good angle to the basket, Kirilenko switched hands two times on his last few dribbles, not the kind of thing you do when you’re confidently going to the basket.

    Re Odom: what I loved was a sequence where Pau switched over to the strong side to do a soft double on the ball, and Odom looked like a traffic cop at the top of the key. Hands pointing everybody in the right direction, screaming loudly where Utah’s other perimeter players were going, just perfect communication. I hope those things will be valued sufficiently in the offseason when roster decisions will have to be made.

  37. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I admit, I was late to the Lakers/Nuggets game.

    but that was the traffic’s fault.

    7:30 pm game in LA is TERRIBLE.

    I live in the OC and to drive from the OC up to LA during rush hour is (and I quote Joel Myers) “no good.”

    I have mixed feelings about the Taco chant. On one hand, I think it’s stupid. On the other hand, Laker fans pay ridiculous prices for tickets, maybe they should be entitled to 99 cent tacos.

    Or like lil pau said, tacos are a metaphor for our team is kicking your team’s butt.

  38. lil’ pau:
    The mental image of gravy and a cheery on top of tacos is beyond unappetizing. I’m impressed 🙂

    You make a good point, and one I hadn’t thought of, and of course from that point of view it makes more sense. All the same, I’d rather hear the crowd chant “Utah sucks!” since that can’t be misunderstood… there’s a fine line between taunting an opponent and mocking them, and the Taco chant is, in my mind, on the wrong side of that line.

  39. 33. Absolutely agree. The average face value of tickets is what $80? Actual prices probably $150? I don’t think the tacos is worth the gas money to drive to the nearest Jack. The chant is a indirect slap at a vanquished foe. That’s why it pisses off the opposition so much.

    In fact, you can argue that the fans should start chanting it in the 1st quarter as a synonymous phrase to yeling “Defense”

    No chanting when the Lakers had 93-91 lead against Philly, as I recall.

  40. The achiles heel of this has been the PG spot all season long. Unfortunately, it looks like Fish is in a major slump. I’ve watched Fish over the years and I’m starting to think that he is playing through some sort of pesky pain that is affecting the stroke of his shot. Someone said a foot injury before, but it may be something closer to his shoulder.

    Having said that, I think we should applaud the way Farmar came out yesterday. I know he didn’t do much, but from what I have read he had a very painful case of tendonitis and he still dressed and played – which means rest time for Fish and Brown. While I am not the biggest Farmar fan, I can recognize a good effort by a player in pain. Kudos to the kid.

  41. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Bill Bridges –

    If they start chanting we want tacos in the first quarter, they opposition will be ever more pissed. That can be a good or a bad thing.

  42. On a side note: Why are people so surprised about Ray Allen’s non-performance in game 1? Wasn’t he a virtual non-factor until game 3 of the Finals?

  43. lil pau makes a really good point. My only problem is that the chants were the loudest of the game. In other words, the fans cheered louder once than the game was over rather than during it (although admittedly the game was out of hand most of the way).

    I think the bigger issue people are trying to get at is that Staples Center (in any game, even close playoff ones) doesn’t seem to have the edge or frenzy that other stadiums too. We should be more passionate than other fans. But I thought that point about the taco chants was a really good one – even if our fans do confirm the stereotype of being arrogant, it makes sense.

  44. 39, I’d love to see it chanted in the 1st Q if it follows the Lakers playing great D and getting a 10 point lead. A way to compliment the defense and stick it to the opponents at the same time.

    36, you really think chanting ‘utah sucks’ is on the ‘right side’ of any line? Wow, it must be the playoffs.

    (‘Boston sucks’, otoh, is a different matter entirely and should be as integral to the english language as ‘the’ and accurately conjugating ‘to be’.)

  45. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Yeah, I’m not a fan of the Utah sucks chant either.

    I don’t like the “Beat LA” chants so why the heck would I like “Utah sucks” when in fact, they don’t suck.

    Ray Allen will start shooting well again … it’s only a matter of time.

  46. #43, 44:
    I don’t really think “Utah sucks” is that appropriate either… but it still ranks a bit better than “we want tacos”. Ideally, I’d prefer to see all home crowd everywhere focusing on cheering for their won team, and not against the opponents. Sadly, this is not an ideal world, and as such, I think the tacos chant is one of the worse ones. It’s right up there with the Boston crowd chanting “beat LA” during home games against other visiting teams… not classy, and not that funny either.

  47. Why does Mike Trudell watch the Hills?

  48. False alarm, Trudell redeemed himself by saying that “Mike Breen and Kevin Harlan are collectively the man.”

  49. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    That’s a good question Snoopy. You should ask him that 🙂

  50. MannP13:
    It’s from Saturday, but there’s a bit more detail on Farmar’s foot problems about two thirds down on this page:,0,1055316.story

  51. lol looks like he answered your question, PBS. He must not like me.

  52. Yeah, I didn’t understand the Utah Sucks chant. That’s the kind of thing you usually see among insecure fans who aren’t used to being succesful. What goes around comes around, and if Lakers fans want to be critical of Utah fans (and I’m sure they will be), then they’d better act right themselves. If you are the definitive favorite to win the west, why do you need to take cheap shots at the opposition like that.

    When talking about the Free Throws given up, I wasn’t trying to say the refs screwed us. I’m not saying they didn’t either (the disparity between 1st and 2nd half bug me), but more than anything I’m just saying I’d like the trend to stop. There were a few plays where it was definitely the Lakers’ fault.

    On one play Pau was standing straight up in the right posture in front of a guy, but the jazz player showed the ball in such a tantalizing way that Pau bent his arms forward towards the ball just enough to get the call. Just a bad, spur of the moment decision that contributed to him fouling out. We can’t do that.

  53. Couple observations on the chants-

    I was at the game, and like several have already said, the tacos chant isn’t about the tacos. I chanted as loud as anyone, and I can tell you despite being a part of ~10 lakers taco winning victories in the last year, I’ve never actually eaten a Jack in the Box taco. It’s something you chant when the only question the game still has to answer is not “Will the Lakers win?”, but rather “Will the opponent even hit 100?”

    In that regard, it’s not classless, it’s not a sign of a poor fanbase, it’s just a fun way to razz the opponent.

    What actually does bother me is the “Utah sucks!” chants that broke out as early as midway through the 2nd. My problem isn’t the message — Yeah, it’s lowbrow, but it’s an okay sentiment — but rather the overuse. This is what began as a chant to counter Boston’s “Beat LA!” They chant beat LA, we chant Boston Sucks, everybody has fun doing so. The difference is that Boston, as a city, a sportstown, and an idea, actually does suck. It’s okay to hate an archrival. Not so much the random first round opponent you just happen to be paired up against. Utah isn’t worthy of sucking; they’re just another in a long list of stops on the way to the finals.

  54. How often does Trudell actually interact with this site? It must be nice to have free access to the lakers.

  55. Zephid,

    Good points in comment #18.


    I honestly think that the NBA pushes LBJ down people throats more than people actually care.
    Nothing against LBJ, but Kobe holds more attention. Plus, he plays for the Lakers.

    I understand why the NBA needs LBJ to be the guy, but I think they’re are reluctantly embracing Kobe again. LeBron isn’t half the star Kobe is. the NBA knows this, but I don’t think they really want it.

    That’s a post for another day….

    Yesterday’s game did feel like a regular season game. But not once did it feel like the Jazz could ever threaten us. Which is good and bad. Bad because the 2nd half effort will result in a win in Utah. But the team knew the Jazz had nothing for them.

    Kobe is becoming a master in applying himself when needed.

  56. I think as long as (1) the best seats are so expensive, and (2) they are owned substantially by corporations, and additionally (3) there are three tiers of luxury boxes separating the lower and upper bowls, the arena will inherently be quieter than more ‘vertical’ arenas in cities that can’t support as much corporate business– SLC, SAC, POR, etc… This is not to suggest in any way that there aren’t many great fans in the very best seats, but so many of those seats are owned by businesses as opposed to a single hardcore fan (or shared among a couple of fans). That said, the playoffs bring out the faithful and I thought Staples was rocking on Sunday. Maybe not rocking like Portland or Sac in the cowbell days, but rocking.

  57. Who cares if the crowd chants about tacos.

    I like it. the game was in hand hand. I think it’s funny. That was the only thin in question since the first 4 minutes of the game.

    Utah fans have no right complaining about “Utah sucks” chants. Not that classless bunch. If you don’t agree with that, then go read ANY Utah Jazz blog.

  58. Maybe i’m in the minority here, but I’m fine with any and all chants that fans deploy during games – even the more vile ones like last year’s first round “DUI” chants at Staples targeting Melo or the “No Means No” chants targeting Kobe. I just think that it’s part of homecourt advantage, no different than clapping those thunderstix to distract a free throw shooter.

    The onus should be on the targeted team or player to be mentally tough enough to block it out, and from what I’ve heard about the Jazz players, they were definitely noticing it at the end. If that’s the case, then I think the crowd did its job.

  59. I worked on a case a few years ago where someone claimed to get sick from the meat in Jack’s tacos and Jack replied that there was no meat in the tacos, just some soy product.

  60. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Yeah, the flack about the Laker fans not being enthusiastic enough is kinda unwarranted.

    I’ll admit, the fans do get a bit quiet during the offense droughts, but when the Lakers put on those nice mini-runs of theirs, the crowd is always excited.

    The only time I wish they could be more into it is when the opposition is shooting fouls. The fans can be a lot more louder and clap those balloon thingies more energetically.

    Another thing, I had seats to the cheap seats on the upper level and it was scary trying to stand up because the seats are so steep and there is barely enough room to stand. You have nothing separating you from tumbling into the seats below you. It’s really that scary.

  61. We want soy! We want soy!

  62. the other Stephen April 20, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    anyone else get the feeling that while KG’s injury is no joke, they are also trying to pull off some sort of dramatic gilbert arenas/paul pierce surprise return? a little something to rally beantown from slipping late in the season and falling to chicago in the first game?

  63. Sometimes you get what you pay for!

  64. what happened to rose?

  65. PeanutButter – Is Mike Trudell your secret uncle? You got 4-5 questions answered! Me? Nada.

  66. 62 – Maybe the marketing department got the idea from Paul Pierce’s creativity in Game 1 of the Finals last year. They decided a 30-second disappearance probably wouldn’t rank up there with Willis Reed, so they’re giving it another shot.

    No, KG’s injury is definitely for real. I doubt the Celts are sandbagging, but if they are, they might be shutting down KG prematurely so Celts players aren’t always looking over their shoulders, waiting for a savior. So he might come back, but I don’t think they’re doing it to build a legend or anything.

  67. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Snoopy –

    lol he liked my name 😀

    I had to ask him questions. He didn’t answer my question on why he switched from covering the T-Wolves to the Lakers though.

  68. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    I literally spammed him with like a billion questions. He had choose ONE of them lol

    He didn’t answer the good ones.

    Like “if the Kobe and the team are doing their traditional team dinner before each playoff series they did last year.”

  69. ESPN had an expert that said KG’s injury sounded like a cartilege injury, which doesn’t always show up on an MRI. If so it raises the ugly specter of microfracture surgery.

  70. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I’ll admit, my Shannon Brown “question” wasn’t really a question, more like shock. I didn’t know he had a son. It’s always so shocking to me when I find out young players like Trevor and Shannon have sons already.

    I know they’re like 24 and all, but I’m 22 and it’s so hard to imagine myself in 2 years carrying kids around, especially since I don’t have the economic means to support myself let alone a kid. But that’s why they’re basketball players and I’m not 🙂

  71. I just put my real name in there. Note to self: be more creative. I wanted to ask who he thought would win between the 3-peat Lakers and this Lakers team, but not the generic “one won 3 titles, duh,” but actual specific matchups. It’s interesting to think about.

    Shaq may have been physically dominating, but Gasol (at the 4) is so versatile I can’t see anyone (maybe Grant) slowing him down. I think the vets would swing it in the 3-peat Lakers favor though.

  72. My initial reaction when the crowd started chanting for tacos was, “Really? during the playoffs?” But then I quickly thought about our defense and how it would be nice to keep them under 100. I agree that the taco chants during playoffs is a little tasteless and I would rather they chant “Defense”, so I can see how many people would chant it synomously as a “defense” chant. The taco chants (during the playoffs) play also into the perception of Laker fans as spoiled, not real fans, but more hollywood types who are there not for the game but to be seen.

    A part of me feels that part of homecourt is for the fans to chant whatever they like to intimidate the other team, the other part feels that there should be a limit. But then the question is who and how do you police such things. You can’t.

    The other issue is if we’re not chanting “Beat whoever” or “Utah (whoever) sucks” then what are we chanting? “defense” and cheer? I know that’s all nice, but what is the point of home court advantage if not the intimidation factor? My limit issues are around chants relating to personal player matters like the Kobe rapist chants, Fisher’s daughter, and the DUI stuff. That stuff I feel is uncall for. It should be about the game, not about the players personal lives.

    In the end I thought the taco chants were somewhat funny and a slap in the face to the Utah players. With that said, I would not advocate us chanting about tacos at the beginning of the game or in the 1st quarter or at all during the playoffs. I would rather they sing the “na na na…” or whatever else that is taunting without being too classless.

  73. Uh oh, the Celtics might need to bring out Paul Pierce’s wheelchair for Rondo

  74. Snoopy, my bad, there were a thousand questions, it was rapid fire. Some of the questions PBS asked I just saw because of his long name that pleased me. But I’ll look out for Sloopy next time.

  75. What happened to Rondo? Does it look serious?

  76. lol appreciate it Mike, thanks for stopping by

  77. And yes PBS, they did do a team dinner in Manhattan Beach the other night. That is a good question just didn’t see it…. As for the Wolves, I loved it there but the Lakers are the Lakers.

  78. wait- what happened to Rondo? I’m at work- you can’t throw teasers like that out with no explanation!

    Celtics giving up ~60 in the first half. Think their defense misses KG?

  79. No doubt guys, I’m impressed with how much you guys know. Take care.

  80. Wow… has anyone EVER seen that call before? (Bulls give their foul with 4 seconds left and Pierce pretends he was shooting… ref grants 3 shots) Do you suppose the refs want the Celtics to win this game?

  81. The Celtics are just sad to me. I hate them as much as anyone, but there’s just no fun in jeering at a team that loses its best players. I was really looking forward to a game 7 finals blowout of the Girls in Green (no, not the Girl Scouts), with Kevin Garnett literally slapping Rajon Rondo and Gargoyle Perkins (aka The Big Scowl) for their failures. The sight of Doc Rivers finally letting his “I’m about to cry at the refs” face get the best of him would just be too good.

    Now we’re stuck with beating Cleveland. There’s no dignity in that; their best sports team starred Willy Mays Hayes.

  82. 76- Right now the Bulls are 11 more FTAs, with 14 more makes. Hard to make the argument for the refs favoring Boston. However, when first halves favor one team, things tend to even out in the second. So I think the Celtics are in a good spot despite giving up 61 and Glen Davis having 2 more shots than Pierce and Allen combined.

  83. if anyone is watching the celtics game that was the most ridiiculous techincal foul call ive ever seen, should have been on perkins if anyone for taunting

  84. What is going on with Rose? I’m not watching the game at the moment, but the boxscore shows only 6pts, 3rbs, 5ast. Are they double/tripling him or is he just coming back down to earth?

  85. magic,

    They’re trapping him aggressively. The reason Brad Miller’s stats are absolutely ridiculous right now is because Rose is giving it to him every time on the pick and pop and Miller is either nailing the open shot, getting fouled, or finding the open man.

    Also, Ben Gordon is ridiculous.

  86. Just too many offensive rebounds for Boston. It’s what’s keeping them just a bit ahead thus far. I say the Celtics legs are going to wear out down the stretch, though…

  87. Salmons should have just gone back to one of his fellow Bulls on that break.

  88. man, gotta love gordon when hes feeling it. feels like he can smell his new deal this summer 🙂

  89. TracerBullet:
    The Cavs do have King James, or LBJ, or whatever you want to call him… I will laugh for at least an hour if LeBron gets the League MVP, and then loses the championship to the Lakers, and Kobe gets the Finals MVP.

    And I want to know what happened to Rondo too! Someone please let me know? I just got home, started watching, and he looks fine. (What little I have seen of him… I promised my husband dinner.)

  90. rondon has a sprained ankle…

    man, im so rooting for the bulls. i hope they win this thing

  91. lesha:
    Thanks! 🙂 He doesn’t move like it, but that means nothing. Adrenaline, playoff mentality, and all that.

  92. How can Rockets-Blazers not be nationally televised? That’s probably the 2nd-best series behind Bos-Chi.

  93. Is Rockets-Blazers on the league pass?

  94. As much as I hate the Celtics, and even THESE Celtics, I just don’t have it in me to hate Jesus, Starbury, or Eddie House. It’s nice to see Ray having some playoff success early. I just hope that it’s not enough and they (the Celtics) get eliminated.

    I think it’s time for Rose to put his foot on the gas a little now that he got to sit the first few minutes of the quarter.

  95. amazing play by rose. owned mr wheelchair pierce

  96. pierce cant even shoot over rose, time for the wheelchair

  97. Wow, Pierce must be exhausted for Derrick Rose to block his shot.

  98. Ricky Rubio to enter the 2009 nba draft.

    As long as Portland with their stockpile of picks over the years don’t get Rubio, I’ll be happy.

  99. “he is on fire… ben gordan has been a flamethrower!” loool

  100. This is hilarious.

  101. Gordon is a monster! Also, how about Noah blocking everything in sight?

  102. holy crap the Celtics need a fire extinguisher cause Ben Gordon is on fire.

  103. wow ben gorden is an amazing jump shooter, bulls are just too young and athletic for the celtics, look at the number of blocks

  104. Ben Gordon is an assassin. He’s absolutely torching Boston.

  105. hahahaha. Man I can’t wait for KG to cry like he did after winning the finals…

    Anything’s possible… once!


  106. the other Stephen April 20, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    block after block after block against the celtics tonight, erasing every type of shot imaginable. i’ll laugh if i hear celtics fans complaining that they don’t have KG, especially when they so heavily discounted bynum last year.

  107. Gordon is a flamethrowing monster!

  108. re taco: I think the Taco chants were a bit much but it pales, absolutely pales in comparison when you remember stuff done by Utah fans when Fish was there.

    re bulls-celts: I seriously want the bulls to sweep. I think they can do it too, albeit barely.

    re cavs-lakers: it looks like a lock at this point, and for some reason the east just looks a lot easier than it was a month ago.

    re LeBron v Kobe: on one hand you have the unstoppable force, the other an unbendable will. I have much greater respect for willpower, but if you are going to war, sometimes it’s much easier to pack a bigger punch.

    re Kobe legacy: honestly, if Kobe can’t win the title this year, i’ll still love the dude, but man his legacy will be hurt.

    re Celtics: this game has the feel of the game we let slip…

  109. BCR. Thanks for the update on Rose.

    Sounds like I should be at home watching this game. Hopefully they’ll replay it later tonight.

    If the Bulls sweep or win the series, I’m going out to get me a Rose jersey. I’m definitely a fan. I love his composure from game 1 and he’s so humble about his skills. That’s the makings of a great star.

  110. That has to be at least the fourth or fifth time Rose has passed to Miller at the top of the key and he’s had the ball stripped after he tried to dribble. Take the open shot for Pete’s sake.

  111. Rondo:

    17 pts, 10 rebounds, 14 assists, 5 steals.

    … and he’s known as one of the better defenders at his position?


  112. fingers crossed still about chicago’s chances. this celtic team won’t die down. but a lot of kudos to the bulls, they’re showing they have a lot of weapons just looking at their box scores.

  113. noah posterive him!, what was that?

  114. Anybody else think it’s funny when you hear Boston pumping Guns ‘N Roses, one of the quintessential LA bands?

  115. My goodness, Chicago can’t grab a defensive rebound to save their life this year.

  116. “this game” I meant.

  117. gordon unstoppable

  118. Holy ****! Gordon is GOOD!

  119. Let me say it again:

    Ben Gordon is a [expletive deleted] assassin.


  120. Ben Gordon is murder. Everything he throws up is going in.

  121. Wow, another close game. Hopefully this will go into overtime so I can catch OT at the gym.

  122. Gordon has no conscience. That being said, the Bulls need to BOX OUT here. I say Pierce is going to have to give it up to either Rondo or Ray– they better get that rebound.

  123. j. d. hastings April 20, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    What’s the record for most espn classic games in one series??

  124. Neither does Ray Allen…

  125. How do you leave Allen open on that possession? How on earth do you leave Allen open on that possession? Good heavens. And VDN burns all of Chicago’s timeouts.

  126. Ah, just knew it. One of those games that could’ve and should’ve buried the Celtics but didn’t.

    When we let them back, it cost us the championship.

  127. Great job VDN. Burned all his timeouts so the Bulls had no chance to get off a good shot if Boston scored. Genius.

  128. ray allen vs. ben gordon what a shootout! oh well, it shows chicago can come in and win in boston. things don’t look good for boston in chicago.

  129. now this is why i hate the celtics. look how they act right now. kg behaving like they just won the finals… too funny.

    bulls will win this series. and gordon just got himself a very good deal for this summer. somebody will pay him, thats for sure

  130. Well, at least Ray earned that one.

  131. The only reason Allen made that shot is because Noah remembered fouling Pierce at the end. You could see Noah hold up, then jump to block Allen’s shot. If he had gone straight through, he could’ve blocked Allen, Gasol-style. Shows that David Thorpe has a point.

  132. yeh bad coaching, should have done a better job denying ray allen, in fact should have doubled him off the ball and very stupid burning all thos timeouts, that being said the bulls can take a lot of heart they have out played the celtics and can win the series

  133. Well, at least at this point, we appreciate Phil. He never would have left his team in that kind of bind with two seconds left. And knowing Gordon, he would have made that shot.

  134. I’ve had the feeling for the last couple of games that VDN was calling timeouts pretty quickly, but I didn’t expect him to screw things up like that…

  135. You think that with Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff on his bench, VDN would have learned about conserving timeouts as part of “Coaching 100.” Guess not.

  136. j. d. hastings April 20, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    IF ben Gordon wasn’t hitting impossible shots, VDN’s consistent strategy of “Give the ball to Ben Gordon and let him dribble into a jump shot” would be easy to criticize too.

  137. j. d. hastings April 20, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I’m happy Boston won because it give us at least 1 more game of this great series.

  138. j.d.,

    Well, VDN’s inability to think of an offensive play besides a ton of pick and rolls and not subbing out an obviously tired Brad Miller for a fresh Tyrus Thomas to help with the rebounding is just as easily criticized.

    And I was getting half-convinced that people were too hard on him…

  139. You’ve got to at least appreciate the fact that we’re in the playoffs and the biggest problem being discussed here is the validity of tacos/utah sucks chants.

  140. Ray friggin Allen….

  141. j. d. hastings April 20, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Tony Parker on pace to beat Kobe’s 81…

  142. Keeping Miller out there was a huge mistake. It was obvious that the C’s figured out that Miller can barely dribble, so they were running at him like he was Ray Allen, making Miller utterly ineffective. Miller had 3-4 huge turnovers in the game, one near the end to Rajon Rondo which brought the C’s to within 1. Couple that with the fact that Tyrus Thomas was playing really well and really giving Big Whiny Baby and Kendrick “I Eat Small Children For Fun, Not Sustenance” Perkins fits, and VDN’s coaching was highly dubious in the least.

  143. @j.d.
    actually, Kobe’s 81 is so amazing that 19 per quarter is not enough.

  144. 19 per quarter will equal 76… not enough to beat 81;)

  145. Well, to be fair, Chicago played Boston to a draw in Boston, and Powe is out for the series and Rondo is probably going to be nursing that ankle for the rest of the series. Only reason Boston was in that game was the ridiculous amount of offensive rebounds they got.

  146. I cannot find the portland game anywhere. ESPN lists it at 10 E time on NBA tv.
    Anyone else have any info?

  147. Anyone else find the mcdonalds commercial creepy?

  148. @Argopile
    I’m pretty sure Portland’s game is tomorrow.

  149. Yeah, the only games tonight were the Celtics game and the Spurs game.

  150. @146-

    I can see it on NBA TV. Then again, I have 24 hour futurevision, so who knows?

  151. yeah, portland game is tomorrow.

  152. Anyone else watching the Spurs-Mavs game?

  153. I am. Parker is killing the Mavs. And JJ should calm down a little looks like he’s trying too hard

  154. Parker is beasting it… he knew he had to step up with Ginobili out and Duncan injured, ad he certainly did that. I’m impressed.

  155. P.G.I.J.J.O.P , You explained the taco chant very good, good comment about this issue of ours. Bye-the-way, I always have to copy and paste your Id when I am responding to you. From the last thread a comment mentioned that all we really did Sunday was to simply keep HCA for this series againt Utah and that was what we had to do, nothing else. I guess we also got a win out of it? I just mean, yeah that win was kinda needed and expected from the Lakers, we might lose two in SLC, right? Then we are even with them again, but still have the HCA. We better win tomorrow also.

  156. The Jazz had 32 layup attempts to 12 for us. No wonder they drew so many fouls.

    Seems like a lot of Deron’s 17 assists went deep into the paint. Shannon is doing to good job of defending Deron’s jumper but maybe we need to switch Ariza on him at times to take away some of those passes.

  157. PeanutButterSpread April 20, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    To Mike Trudell –

    Thanks so much for answering our questions!!!

    YAY that’s good to know that the team ate dinner together. Team bonding is key, imo.

    For the record, I’m a girl 🙂

  158. Does anyone see Joe Smith freestyling on TNT?

    Lamar, you’re up. Represent our boys.

  159. I’d be willing to give up my FB&G posting rights if we lose both games in Utah. I would be surprised if we gave up one game. This Laker team is too good to lose to such an inferior and discombobulated Utah team.

  160. Love Inside the NBA, just for the amazing coverage.


    Is it just me, or when Payton’s voice first comes on, doesn’t he sound like the Wicked Witch of the West? And around 1:55 he goes into preacher mode. I don’t have NBATV, but somehow that clip makes me feel like I’m not missing much.

    I haven’t watched Webber recently (who I love), but it seems like GP brings out the inner stupidity in everyone. I don’t even understand half the things he says.

  162. Sorry for the multiple posts, but here’s a great article on Yao for anyone who’s interested. The image of Yao crying when he wasn’t even playing is striking:;_ylt=Ajr2qKH0_x7NNLsXzn9y6Wq8vLYF?slug=ys-yaorockets042009&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

  163. Just came from Lakers com and there are four new video interviews that you should check out.

    Kobe – Wants his team mates to take the open shots.

    PJ – Says we will not win 15 games if we play like last Sunday.

    LO – He wants us to play better defense and talks about when June comes about. Just a typical Odom interview, I just love them.

    Bynum – Explains the Jazz Offensive Rebound’s and what we will do about them on Tuesday.


    Read the article at the bottom. Didn’t know that Craig Hodges was the one helping Ariza with his shot.

  165. Snoopy2006 – Yeah, I hate GP as a color analyst. Seems to me they are trying to get a Barkley-like effect – but there’s only one CB!

    But I agree, I really like CWebb as a commentator. Who would have thought he would be so eloquent and insightful? I also love Jamal Mashburn for the same reasons.

    However, I cant say the same about GP, Avery Johnson, and Magic. I think only Mychael Thompson is worse than these guys.

  166. I like Yao Ming, he’s a reason why I like watching Houston. I think it’s because I started watching him since his days as a Shanghai Shark in the CBL , anyhoo

    what got me in the article was

    “While McGrady – in his prime – could instinctively do things with a ball that others only dreamed about…”

    It’s quite sad that T-Mac is already considered out of his prime at his age.

    It strikes me because I remember reading something about Kobe being the most durable SG in the league (probably a bill simmons article).

    I guess this is just a testament on how hard it is for players to perform at and maintain their peak levels whenever they are injured. Having Kobe doing his thing night in and night out, with a number of injuries and roughly the same age as t-mac is just made me appreciate how remarkable he is.

  167. How about T-Mac blatantly telling a newspaper that he thinks the Lakers are going all the way, despite the fact that they could be playing HIS TEAM next round?

    No wonder they’re better without him.

  168. i just saw the preview to the ESPN movie by spike lee,
    Kobe doin work.

    it looks awesome!
    I cant wait

  169. #168:
    I could not agree more. Yao on the other hand, might take more on himself than he should (it’s not all his fault if they don’t move on to next round) he understands that when you are the star, you need to step up and live up to your team’s and your fans’ expectations. They will expect you to start beating down on the opponent and follow your lead… and he certainly handed it to Portland this weekend.

    Also, I agree with #167 that it’s a joy to watch him play. 🙂