A Few Game Two Thoughts

Kurt —  April 22, 2009

NBA 2009: Lakers Beat Jazz 119-109
I think we know this about Utah — this is too good a team to roll over, and they are not going to quit when you get up 20 on them. D-Will doesn’t know how to quit. This isn’t some lottery-bound team without the talent or pride to make a push back, this is a quality team in the playoffs. They are going to give the effort.

What would be nice is not to help them, to not make sloppy turnovers (Kobe, I’m looking at you with your poor imitation of a Kevin Love three-quarters court outlet pass). It would be nice to crash the boards hard on the defensive end, body people up rather than expect our length to carry the day, and just grab the ball.

But I’m not complaining about the wins. If I were on the coaching staff I would be, if I were a player I would not be satisfied; but we fans have the luxury of looking at a bigger picture and seeing a comfortable first round win coming.

• Kobe had 26 points last night, but he had assists that led to 22 other Lakers points. Overall, Kobe accounted for 40.7% of the Lakers offense.

The biggest beneficiary of his passing was Andrew Bynum, who was 3-3 on Kobe assists.

• A few thoughts from Darius in the comments I thought worth repeating.

Tonight the Jazz showed that any team with a truly great player (like Williams obviously is) can hang in any given game and push any team to its limit. That’s especially true when the better team doesn’t play a complete game and has mental lapses and gives inconsistent effort as we did tonight. We continued to not do a good job on Jazz players not named Deron and it made this game closer than it should have been. Relaxed box outs, bad helping on screens, playing in between in help situations (where we’re not really helping on Deron but not guarding our man either), and just playing in a loose manner were all too prevalent in this game.

When you add those things to Andrew’s inability to catch and make a move without turning the ball over for the last three quarters, some questionable “playmaking” by every single ball handler at some point during the game, the over reliance on jumpshots when Pau was killing on the low block, and our lack of good screen setting to free up players for easier looks you end up with a game that should have been 15-20 points the entire game and turn it into a 9-11 point game that is stressful at the end. And even though I think Reggie Miller is Captain Obvious, one point he kept making was that when you allow a team with a player as good as Williams to keep it that close, the outcome *is not* guaranteed turned out to be true. I hate to say it again, but we must play better.

One thing I am looking forward to though is going to SLC to play. That may sound strange, but Kobe has always, especially in the playoffs, stepped up his game when we play on the road. I can recall game after game in San Antonio, Sacramento, Utah, etc that he has had ridiculous production and led us to wins. I want the rest of the team to follow his lead and also see big games from Pau, Bynum, and some of our bench players as well. We have it in us to sweep this team, but we must raise our execution level and play a more consistent game over a full 48 minutes.

On a side note, Odom was tremendous tonight. His defense and shot making were stellar throughout the entire night and I think he deserves some major credit for how he played. He’s always been a strong performer for us in the post-season and tonight he was at it again.

• Kwame a. added these thoughts:

Two things stood out: 1) Phil should (as he admitted) shorten the rotation a little bit (Trevor should get 30-35 mins in my opinion). 2) Bynum played very selfishly, each time he got the ball there was no survey of the defense, no pass out and re-post, just turn and shoot. If Gasol doesn’t do that, no way Bynum should be. I still think he’s working on getting back into form, but there is no reason for him to be the focal point of our offense. He needs to move the ball, he’s a good passer.

• I expect us to get one of the two in Utah, but it would be easier on my blood pressure if it was the first one.

• I’m going to miss Mutombo on the court. But I will keep following his more important work off it.

Kurt

Posts

73 responses to A Few Game Two Thoughts

  1. I truly think the NBA needs to do something for Mutombo . . he’s one of the greatest examples of how to use fame and fortune to benefit the world for generations to come.

  2. The age old question resurfaces again…are the lakers tough enough?…haha. J.A. Adande doesn’t think so…and I must say, I have to agree with him.

  3. Question for anyone: What is the market value going to be for Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown?

    Yesterday, Reed brought up B-Gordon’s value and it made me think about our two young, athletic, quickly becoming dead-eye long-distance shooters, Cobra and ShanWOW. What is reasonable to keep these two? Is it not reasonable to think they both could be key players for the next 3-5 seasons?

  4. I swear, the day after the Lakers win the championship, somebody is going to come on this site and say the Lakers are not tough enough.

  5. bynum fighting through pain outside of his knee. says the pain is due to his “iliotibial band”

    http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2009/04/21/bynum-fighting-through-pain-on-the-outside-of-his-knee/15569/

  6. The Lakers are not the ‘bad boy’ Pistons of the late 80′s. That is not going to happen – and shouldn’t. That being said; all this talk about not being tough enough is just so much garbage.

    This is like the media saying Kobe is a selfish player – when he was playing with Smush and Kwame – just so much garbage.

    The real problem is that we fans seem to take up the ‘talking heads’ nonsense and repeat it. Hasn’t anyone ever heard Joseph Stalin’s concept of telling the big lie often enough that it becomes the truth? Are we all that dumb? I guess so.

  7. kwame,

    It all depends on the economic situation. As it stands, the highest Ariza is going to get from any other team is the midlevel exception. All the current teams with cap space don’t have a whole lot of motivation to pay more than that to sign him. OKC already has Sefolosha as a wing stopper, Memphis probably wants to use its cap space on more of an impact player, and Detroit is looking for an All-Star caliber player. Four years at the midlevel is probably a good deal.

    As for Shannon, he’s still a turnover prone guard with lots of hops and upside. He’s a decent backup, but I don’t see anyone paying him that much more than the minimum. Maybe we give him the biannual exception at most.

  8. 6-Our defense was better than or just about the same as the Spurs all season but because of the “not tough” fable, the Spurs are still a rugged-defensive team and we are cream-puffs. I mean, even in our matchup, based on Sloan’s history, the Jazz have a reputation of being hard-nosed and physical, but they are a collective group of sieves.

  9. Ariza is probably worth the full MLE while Brown is worth the league minimum, at least to other teams. To the Lakers, his value is probably a lot more, though I’d probably give him whatever the bi-annual is.

  10. Defensive discipline is not the same thing as toughness. The Cavs aren’t exceptionally “tough” or “nasty”, and neither was San Antonio when they were winning all their titles. What they are/were is more consistently focused at the defensive end than the Lakers are.

    According to Adande’s article, now even Ariza is suggesting the Lakers may need to get “chippier”. I don’t know about that, but I wouldn’t mind if they would close out on shooters, get back in transition, box out, etc. You can do all of those things without being the 2009 version of the Bad Boys.

  11. Might be time to update Shannon’s NBA profile picture….

    http://www.nba.com/playerfile/shannon_brown/index.html

  12. Re Kwame’s point about Drew, I think part of his urgency is trying to get his timing back, but the other is that there is absolutely no one on Utah who can guard him. Of course, what that really means is that Drew should take his time, but he’s young and has yet to learn that.

    As for the game last night. Just a very, very sloppy game by the guys. Overpassing, not enough patience at times, and really just lacking in focus after the first quarter. It seemed like getting up by 20 again so early in the game really allowed the complacency to set in, as annoying as that is.

    But I don’t really buy the toughness argument. It’s a media mantra by now, but at this point I don’t think it’s valid. There is no more physical team in the league than the Jazz. Boozer is as physical a PF as there is in the game, and Deron is a flat out bull at PG. And I think that aside from one stretch in the 2nd half last night we matched them shove for shove. Sure, they’re missing Okur, but it’s not like he’s a physical player – he’s a soft perimeter shooting Euro. ;) Unfortunately, I think Kurt is right – the “soft” meme isn’t going away until we win a title.

  13. the Storyline strikes again! Ever since the Finals of last year it’s been “the Lakers aren’t tough enough”. Even when we get techs for throwing elbows, people question our “nastiness”. But that’s just the Story ESPN and the sports media is selling this year.

    I don’t think it’s toughness — I think it’s a motivation issue — that leads to errors like slow rotations, not closing out, not boxing out etc. This Lakers team just needs a reason to TRY. They’re sleepwalking against the Jazz. And they’re getting away with it, easily.

  14. Lakers playing “close” w/ a 48 (I believe) win 8 seed means they aren’t tough? What does that mean for Cleveland who gave up a huge lead to a sub-.500 team?

    Nothing about last nights game made me question the Lakers toughness, it just made me wonder if they are looking ahead a bit too much. I’d say by now there is no question Utah doesn’t have the talent to match up with us and it almost seems like our players know that and are relying on the fact they are more skilled. Maybe we could use a wake-up call by losing a game in SLC, but honestly, even after last nights lackluster effort I’m still fairly confident we can sweep the Jazz.

    It seems like the regular season ended and everyone forgot the Lakers are a deadly road team. Hopefully the road brings out some intensity and killer instinct from the team.

  15. I posted this on the Game Two Chat, but since it was about five minutes before Kurt put up the new post, I’m moving my comment to here, since it fits with the “theme” of what a few other commenters have said already.

    The biggest thing that I think bothered me with yesterday’s game, and with game 1 as well, is the same as earlier in the season. The Laker’s don’t do sweeps well. Look at what the Spurs repaid the Mavs with for beating them in game one; complete humiliation and destruction. (”We are THE SPURS. Fear us!”) I can’t see our Laker team of this year doing that.

    We can call it being “a finesse team”, “bored”, “conserving energy” or whatever we want. The pattern is that we get ourselves a 20-point lead and then immediately slow down, for any of the above reasons–-I get the impression that this Laker team is one that will never play any harder than they have to to win. They can play hard, they can explode, just look what they did on that February road trip right after Bynum went out with an injury. But in this first playoff round they don’t have to do that to win, so they don’t. Instead, they coast, stand back a little bit, and then they step it up again around the 6-minute mark on the 4th, to make sure that they still get the win.

    That annoys me. Aside from looking arrogant, I don’t think it’s nearly as safe to do it in the playoffs as it was during the regular season.

  16. It’s not “nastiness” that’s lacking, it’s a consistent focus.

  17. Kurt – is there a reason you don’t have live chats on here every game? Just wondering – I really like the format and the playoffs seem conducive for that sort of thing.

  18. Man. “Toughness” is about media perception. Sometimes, its because of reputations teams built during the last NBA golden age.

    Take Detroit as an example. When have you ever heard anyone call them anything but “tough”? Even after their pathetic display against Cleveland no one in the press dare throw up the “soft” label. Instead, they say things like “a tough team like Detroit should do better.” Another example is the Clippers. No matter how many players they acquire, no matter who they draft, we all think of that organization as a “failure”.

    we also have a similar occurrance with the Celtics. That team always carries a reputation of being “intense” or “gritty”. After losing game one no one dared question their intensity. Instead, the focus was on the loss of Garnett. After the win in game 2, now its back to the “intense” and “gritty” label.

    The Lakers, whether we like it or not, will always be labelled as the “Showtime” franchise. Everyone associates the team with movie star fans who, we all know, are more interested in being fotographed at the game than attending it. In fact, many of these “star” fans don’t even follow the Lakers that well. So, because of the alleged ties to these so-called “fans”, some in the media think that all Laker teams are all-glitz-no-hardwork and have therefore chosen to label us as “soft”. Unfortunately, there’s practically nothing that can be said or done, as Kurt points out, to shake this label. Even if the Lakers win the title this year, the label will stick around. Why? Because once the media has fallen in love with a label, it is almost impossible to change it.

    Frankly, you can label my Lakers anything you would like. In the end, the only label I care about is the label of “NBA Champions.”

  19. I think shortening the rotations is a must now. It’s time to stop waiting for Sasha to start hitting shots and Farmar to start making good decisions, Shannon Brown should be taking up all of the backup guard minutes. Sasha and Farmar just don’t have it this year, we shouldn’t pretend they are somehow gonna find it during the playoffs.

  20. The Lakers’ penchant for blowing big leads has been the most frustrating aspect of watching this team all year.

    God knows I was cursing and throwing things around my living room last night in the second half, and on Sunday as well. I suspect I wasn’t alone in that regard.

    Their too-often poor play when gaining a big lead sometimes makes me — and many others — want to dismiss the 2009 Lakers team as a not-ready-for-prime-time bunch, with conventional wisdom saying, “Great teams put lesser opponents away, therefore this team still has a ways to go before it’s great.”

    But after calming down from Tuesday’s near meltdown, I now can question that line of thought.

    The Jazz are better than Detroit, and many say Cleveland is the team to beat this season. Yet there were the Cavs, blowing most of a 24-point lead at home last night. Detroit cut it to eight before the Cavs held on.

    Yet is anyone questioning Cleveland’s status as a title threat after that? Hardly. People are lining up to kiss LeBron’s backside.

    Or how about last year? Everyone who loves the Lakers recalls the horror show that was Game 4 of the Finals, when L.A. famously blew its 24-point lead to Boston, losing by six at home.

    (Cue the “not tough enough” comments yet again.)

    But no one mentions that the soon-to-be World Champion Boston Celtics nearly blew a 24-point lead at home in Game 2 with less than eight minutes to go in the fourth.

    One or two more makes by Kobe or The Machine late in that game and the series would have gone back to L.A. tied at 1-1. (I won’t mention the disparity in free throws Boston enjoyed that night; oh, wait, yeah I will.)

    Yet does anyone question Boston’s merits in 2007-08? Were they “not tough enough to win” because they nearly blew that big lead at home? Hardly.

    Or how about last season’s Western Conference Finals, when San Antionio had L.A. down by 20 points with less than six minutes to go in the third quarter of Game 1?

    The Spurs were the defending champs, with four rings on Duncan’s fingers. Were they faux contenders because they blew a huge lead to Kobe & Co., losing by four when all was said and done?

    Again, no one questioned the Spurs’ toughness. Instead, many made excuses about Manu’s bad leg – the same excuses people who bash the Lakers dismissed whenever anyone pointed out that the Lakers reached the Finals without their starting center and missing a key reserve. Oh, and Kobe had a hand that needs surgery. But let’s talk about Manu’s absence some more, ESPN.

    I sometimes need to take a chill pill and realize that despite the Lakers’ shortcomings, they’re still up 2-0. They have a lot of room to improve, but I’d rather see them getting better while ahead in the series than trying to fix things while down or tied.

    Bottom line, even the best teams can and will blow big leads in the playoffs. The trick is to make sure you’re up by 1 or more when the clock expires. Beyond that, everything else is gravy, no matter what the fans or media expect in terms of blowouts.

  21. “the day after the Lakers win the championship”….haha. I don’t think so.

  22. Archon – I partially agree with you.

    I think that the Farmar-DWills match up favors Shannon Brown. Among Farmar’s fault is the fact that he is ultra competitive. So, when faced with a guy that can outscore him 4-to-1 like Brown, Farmar ends up making stupid mistakes in his rush to one-up DWills on assists and points. that’s why I think he would do better against teams that lack a dominating point guard. So I’d agree with you, but only for this particular match up.

    As far as Sasha, I’m kind of torn. On the one hand, his spastic defense infuriates and frustrates the opponents, but on the other hand he is not what I would consider a good passer and has been very inconsistent with his shot. They say that Defense Wins Championships, so I think that I would rather have a spastick Sasha out there then not at all.

  23. Is Kelly Dwyer out of his mind?!

    This from his BtB about the Rockets/Blazers game last night:

    “A raucous crowd (which included organic — not spurred on by an electronic scoreboard display — cheers), great announcing (Mike Barrett and Mike Rice might be homers sometimes, but they know the game; and they’ll side with the opponents on a ref’s call that can go either way), great players, a competitive contest … pity it didn’t get bigger exposure.”

    When have they ever sided with the opponent. Ever?!

  24. Wiseoldgoat, there will be some live chats in the future, but some circumstances at my day job have forced me into longer hours there and out of live blogs during the week. I didn’t get to somewhere to watch the game until almost the fourth quarter last night (I watched it on DVR later). Thursday is going to be the same for me. (Last Sunday I was at a Grand Prix/Lakers party in Long Beach.)

    But I want to do them soon.

  25. D-Will is a reminder of how much our point guard defense is suspect (hello Farmar!) and how much better D-Will has improved. Fish used to shut him down, but not anymore. I like Fish as a defender, but most teams knew that a quick point guard was the quickest way to deflate the Laker’s defense – and defense still wins championships.

  26. Enjoy the ride means enjoy the ride, not fear the ride. From some of the comments it seems we are down 0-2, not up 2-0.

  27. I love that we’re up 2-0. I don’t like how we wont though. Big difference ;)

  28. Er… wont=won. Oops.

  29. I don’t think the lakers need to get “nastier” or chipier or “tougher.” If they start imitating the Jazz, they will be playing out of character, throwing themselves out of whack and just getting called for more fouls. I do think their defense last night could best be described as “bored,” but that isn’t anything to do with being soft.

    As frustrated as I am I think Jazz fans need to be apoplectic. Each of the last two games they’ve showed stretches where they can contest and throw the laker offense somewhat out of whack. But those are inevitably fleeting and only come after they’ve played some of the worse basketball on the planet and gotten down by 20. The Lakers defense in the first quarter was bad, but the jazz didn’t even seem to understand that they were trying to keep the ball out of the basket.

    Then in the second run that made it a 20 point game, the jazz just turned the ball over and looked completely out of sorts. The Lakers just played average and ran off another 10 points or so.

    My main concern is that the Lakers won’t be prepared when either the Jazz or their next opponent actually tries. I’m hoping they face Houston next round because, even though Portland may be harder in a lot of ways, I want the Lakers to be forced to play ugly, just as practice for when they face a good defensive team in the finals.

  30. Flip- D-Will will aproximate his performances against the Lakers against virtually every other team in the league. He is an elite player, one of the 3 or 4 best PG’s in the game, I don’t think his play is an indictment on our defense as it is a testament to dudes sick game.

  31. Toughness is a difficult term to define, and really has been hashed over so many times there’s not a whole lot of point in debating it. I don’t think there’s any doubt physical play bothered the Lakers last year in the Finals. This year, I like that the Lakers are still a finesse team, but to paraphrase Lamar, if things get nasty they can get nasty right back. This team is far more ready for it now, they can fight back without getting out of character. That’s no longer an issue.

    The only issue I see is mental sharpness, if you want to call that toughness. And that comes back to continuing to execute offensively and defensively whether we’re tied or up by 20.

    nomuskles (or anyone) – any chance of a live blog tomorrow night for those of us that’ll probably miss the game?

  32. Snoopy,
    I think the main reason that physical play created problems for us last year was that we didn’t really have a very big guy that could shove back. No offense to Pau, but a guy with his build is not bulky enough to make someone hesitate to crash into him because it might actually hurt…

    It’s easy to play physical basketball when you have players like Boozer and Harpring on your team, those two would be a credit to a football lineup, the way they are built. That’s why I’m glad to see Andrew and Brown out there, those two are built more solid and bulky, and can both take a hit and give one back if necessary. I am still waiting for the revenge-foul for that flagrant that wasn’t called…

  33. Re Kwame/#30 – Totally agree.

    DWill is sick. That’s it. Getting destroyed by him is not an indictment of our PG defense. He’s just that good. Let’s not forget that this is a guy who absolutely owns Chris Paul in head-to-head matchups. Who else can say that?

    Just because we are somewhat prone to letting lesser PGs blow up against us does not mean that we aren’t playing solid-to-good defense on D-Will. I happen to think we are playing fairly well against him. Dude is just that good.

  34. Brian – I think we are too. Last game we were keeping him out of the lane (for the most part) and restricting him to shots from long range. Which, to his credit, he was making, but at least he wasn’t getting layups, drawing fouls, or taking our big guys out of defensive rebounding position.

    I wonder if we’ll put any thought into putting Trevor or Kobe on him – hopefully their length could contest those jumpshots a bit more. Fish could chase Korver or Brewer around, since he already does this with Ray Allen.

  35. Life’s irony was in full display when the man named Mutombo ended his NBA career in the same manner as he first entered our general NBA conscience, crying on the floor. He was a fantastic NBA player with insane longevity. His post-NBA life aught to be blessed in the light of all the good he has fostered in this world. A speedy recovery for Dikembe Mutombo.

    NBA champions come in manny forms. The one thing they all share is having won the last game of the NBA finals. Some such teams play great defense all the time. Some of these teams balance timely scoring with great defense. Some of these teams have had great offenses with very good defense that is either manifest throughout the season and playoffs or in spurts during the game. I have seen all kinds of quality of defense from NBA champions and the one thing they all do is make stops when it matters. Watch last night’s game in that light and you will see Gasol with two blocks, a steal by Kobe, a few tipped balls, if I remember correctly, and a 24 second clock violation by the Jazz. The Lakers made stops when they needed to and that is what wins playoff games.

  36. Until the Jazz manage to beat us when we’re not at the end of a 6 game road trip right before the All-Star break after going 6-0 including thumping Boston and Cleveland in their houses, I’m not going to fear these Jazz. They just seem too similar to last year’s Denver team to be a legitimate threat. Yea, they put up a ton of points, and Deron Williams is nigh unstoppable, but last year the Lakers won the 1st two games by similar margins, then proceeded to dismantle Denver in game 3. Couple that with the utter lack of defensive effort, and I’m still thinking sweep. Look for the Lakers to come out strong Thursday and run the Jazz out of their own building.

  37. I think this Laker team needs a wake-up call of sorts. I am personally believe that call will take the form of a certain team from the Portland area who seem to have a special swagger and confidence when playing our beloved Lakers.

    While I initially hoped the Lakers to avoid the TB at all costs, I know hope that they meet up. If this team is to become a champion, I want it to do it by beating the toughest competition in the West and East.

  38. Just one more entertaining thought on the ‘toughness’ issue, and this one is either getting funny or making me crazy.

    EVERY time I watch the Jazz play, the announcer mentions Matt Harpring’s toughness. I have realized this has nothing to do with his game, it’s just that announcers have to have something to say. All I know about that dude is that he’s white, he’s tough, he played at G Tech, and he’s from a “football family.” After he makes a shot in Game 1 – “see, he’s tough.” After Lamar misses a J with Harpring guarding him – “there’s that toughness again.” It’s ridiculous. But it does provide a hint supporting comments on this thread, people just repeat what they hear.

    Here’s to only hearing that Harpring is tough for two more games!

  39. According to Lamar, Harpring likes to flop… ;)

  40. I define toughness as being able to stay composed. Toughness really isn’t about being overly macho and act as if people doubt your manhood all the time – it’s about believing in yourself, your team, and the big picture even in times of adversity.

    Having said that, I do have to agree that I have not seen convincing amount of toughness in our team. We are very prone to mental surrender because everyone is so used to Kobe taking over. None of these guys really have had the chance to show mental toughness other than perhaps (of all people) Gasol who has experience shouldering a team before.

    We all know how Odom acts as the number 2 (but he’s certainly tough enough as number 3), Bynum has never really been there (I don’t even remember if he ever played over 35 minutes, even), and the only one who has been reliable and proven is Fisher.

    And Kobe has got to be tough enough to stick to the system as well. I know and I saw him take unsurmountable odds and beat them, but then again I know and saw him lose as well. It is undoubtedly his team, but that does not mean the team should go as he goes.

  41. PeanutButterSpread April 22, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Well said, Chris J!

    My sentiments exactly.

    I’ll admit, I freaked out after last night’s win. I still hate blown leads though. But I can only hope the Lakers will learn from this and just get better. I can’t do much to make them perform the proverbial “stop on the victim’s neck” thing, so I can only the memories of last year’s playoffs will be a good heavy dose of reminder for them.

    I think the whole toughness thing is overplayed, overused and just needs to stop being in basketball vernacular.

  42. The Dude Abides April 22, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    30, 34, 35. I agree about D-Will. He got into the lane too much in the first game, we collapsed on him, and he dished out 17 assists. So in the second game, we kept him out of the lane for the most part, and the guy hit six threes. It’s not like our guys weren’t trying out there. He, CP3, and Parker are virtually unstoppable when their long jumpers are falling.

    33. Ah, but we did commit a “revenge” hard foul on the Jazz for that hard foul by Collins. Remember Lamar jumping out of the building on a ball fake, then coming down and swatting Brewer with a full swing? That was for the Collins foul, I’m sure of it.

  43. The Dude Abides April 22, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    BTW, for anyone who hasn’t seen the ATL-MIA game, the Spirit the Hawk escaped from his handler and flew throughout the arena during the 1st quarter, and they twice had to stop the game, the second time being when he landed on the top of one of the backboards. Perfect fodder for the Inside the NBA crew on TNT, who divebombed the Chuckster with a plastic hawk on a string, with some slow motion shots of his initial panicked expression, then his look of disgust when he realized they punked him again.

  44. #44, The Dude:
    Yes, I clearly remember that, and I heartily approved of that swing from Lamar. I’m in favor of very clear demonstrations of the consequences of trying to push my team around.

    What I am waiting for is a hard foul from Brown… it’s all well and good that any one team steps up and makes the point, but when you’ve been thrown down once and didn’t growl in reply, it’ll be done again. I’d actually like to see him get right back up and get a T for shoving Collins to the floor. Just to make a point… if you want to play us hard, we’ll play you hard. That’s the game.

  45. dear mitch,

    can we sign gortat? pretty please?

  46. 47, we have no minutes for a back-up center. Our three-headed monster of Andrew, Pau, and Lamar already take up all 96 minutes for the 4 and 5 spots on the team. And then we have DJ for the 3-5 minutes per game that any of those three have foul trouble. I’d say the only two FA’s we realistic should go after are Raymond Felton and Andre Miller. PG is our weakest spot, and both those guys are improvements over FFB (Fish, Farmar, and Brown).

  47. Will – lol I would love that too, he’s beastly as a backup, but he’s played his way into a bigger payday than we can afford. Plus with our 3 starter bigs, we really don’t need a player of that caliber, he’d be wasted here. Powell’s quality and now he hardly gets off the bench.

  48. We did what we had to last night and that is all, simply kept HCA in the 1st round playoff series with the Utah Jazz. We also won another game while we were doing that. It was down to a 3 point lead with a few minutes left as I remember, but we managed to pull another home win off.

    “Character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life – is the source from which self respect springs.” – Joan Didion

  49. For those questioning our toughness and focus, please get a grip. We won 65 regular season games and are up 2-0 against a tough 48 win Jazz team with one of the top PGs in the league and a HOF coach. Get a grip, people! We will definitely win 1 game in SLC and maybe two because we are the best road team in the league. This Laker team knows that only the Finals will define our season…so everyone just relax unless we get down a game or two in a series. Expect for us to trail (but not by much) in the SLC games with a chance to steal games in the last 4-5 minutes. Kobe is a great road player and he will lead us to victory. Go Lakers!

  50. This PG battle in the Hornets-Nuggets series is ridiculously one-sided. Billups is just annihilating whoever tries to guard him.

  51. Chauncey’s a lot more likeable now that he’s not with the Pistons. I had thought he’d give Paul more trouble than any other PG, but this is ridiculous. ZERO turnovers in two games? Are you kidding me?

    Who would have ever predicted at the end of last year’s playoffs that the Nuggets would have the Hornets on the ropes. Who would have predicted (before 03) that Billups could change a team this much? He wasn’t good in the Pistons system, he’s great anywhere.

    Identical final scores for the Heat-Hawks and Hornets-Nuggets. Completely pointless statement, but I thought I’d share.

  52. “The Hawks should have known this wouldn’t be their night when “Spirit,” an actual hawk that flies down from the rafters during the pre-game introductions, decided to hang around for the start of the game. The game had to be halted for a couple of minutes when the fierce-looking bird landed on the top of the backboard….Atlanta’s Josh Smith and Al Horford looked more shaken than anyone.”

    They psyched out their own players. Aren’t these gimmicks getting a tiny bit out of hand?

    Has Billups been guarding Paul, or have they both been avoiding each other?

  53. PeanutButterSpread April 22, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I can’t help but feel disappointed in the Hornets team.

    I was really expecting them to win against the Nuggets. But it’s really not even that close. (which btw, is really strange to write because I don’t feel the Nuggets are a threat.)

    Of course injuries have a lot to do with why they’ve been playing so poorly.

    But Poesy should never ever shoot fading jumpers like he thinks he’s Kobe. I think he had like 2 to 3 consecutive airballs. It was kinda sad.

  54. In regards to Game 3…

    We can talk about a rowdy atmosphere, matching the Jazz’s energy in a desperation game, playing “tougher” (whatever that means), or any other cliche. But the game comes down to execution and sticking to the game plan (two other cliches, I suppose). At this point, I think it’s a given that the Lakers are a better team than the Jazz. But as we saw in the last game, the Jazz are quite capable of playing us even for long stretches, and if that starts at the beginning of the game (rather than in the 2nd half) we’ll be in for a hard fought battle where playing smart, error free basketball will be imperative. So, I repeat from previous comments that we must 1) Take care of the ball 2) Play proper defense against the Jazz sets 3) Rebound 4) Play from the inside out (whether that comes from posting Pau/Bynum or Kobe penetrating) 5) Be patient on Offense and shoot when we’re open and do it with confidence. Remember, three heavy contributors to this point (Bynum, Ariza, and ShanWOW) were not playing with us at this time last season and have not played in an environment anything close to what they’ll see on Thursday night. We’ll need poise from these guys.

    In the last game, we got in trouble when we mistook a big lead for a green light to stop doing what had worked early and to play sloppy. If we do the same thing in Game 3, we’ll lose. We’re the best road team in the league for a reason – we execute in games where concentration and discipline are required most. Think back to the games in Boston and Cleveland. To road games against the Spurs and Rockets. This team knows how to play on the road and it starts with our head coach and #24. If we play our game, we can erase hope from the Jazz’s players minds and throw dirt on the coffin. If we come out and equate a 2-0 series lead to a twenty point cushion, we’ll have plenty to discuss on these boards as confidence becomes complaining. I’d prefer to have the boys in the home whites to be calling their travel agents after they shower. Let’s hope the Lakers players are thinking the same way.

  55. 55, PBS, remember last year, New Orleans blew out San Antonio twice in New Orleans, only to proceed to get blown out twice in San Antonio in the next two games. I could see something similar happening this season. NO-DEN will go to 7, and that game 7 will be a dogfight. Maybe this year it’ll be NO that pulls the road upset.

  56. I know the Jazz are making it difficult to get the ball into the post, particularly in the second half of these past two games, but I can’t believe the Lakers aren’t making a more concerted effort to get it into Pau and to a lesser extent Bynum. Gasol is so efficient and effective whether it is scoring in the paint or passing to an open teammate. Pau needs more than the 22 shots he’s taken in the last two games.

  57. Zephid,

    Main difference is that this Hornets team is a shadow of the one that finished second in the West last year. Chandler and Peja clearly aren’t back to their old form (discounting Peja’s barrage last night), the wear and tear on Paul and West is showing (Paul isn’t penetrating at will, West is having an extremely difficult time against Kenyon Martin), and losing Pargo hurt, if only to provide a source of offense. Scott needs to play Wright more, moving Posey to the four if necessary.

    That said, if Billups continues to be this ridiculous, I’m not sure they’ll be able to pull it out. Paul’s tired legs might be their death knell — he clearly isn’t dominating the way he should be able to.

  58. Lakers are up 2-0 over the jazz. They seem to be handling their own. Give them a chance and cut them some slack. Now is the time they turn up the heat.

  59. 57

    As BCR points out this is a completely different Hornets team. I just don’t see any area where NO has enough of an advantage to overcome Denver. Billups can match Paul (or outperform him as he has done in the first two games). Martin can make West work hard for every point he scores. Nene can bang with Chandler (who isn’t 100%) and then some. On top of that, Denver has arguably the most explosive bench in the game, while NO’s reserves have been a disaster this season. Denver should close this one out in 6 games at most.

  60. +1 to BCR.

    Two cases of people judging teams this year on things they did last year. The Jazz and Hornets. Neither is what they were a season ago, but the myth of contending status has been perpetuated all season. Now they’ll both be out the 1st round in 5. (Hopefully the Jazz in 4)

  61. 59, BCR, last year’s San Antonio team was a shadow of what it was when it won the title in 2007, with Ginobili hurt and most of their supporting cast aging rapidly. But they still managed to come out and give a good showing on their home floor in game’s 3 and 4 after being blown out in game’s 1 and 2. I did not once say that New Orleans was the same team as last year; I was actually making the point that New Orleans is similar to last year’s San Antonio. The same way I’ve been saying that Utah is very similar to last year’s Denver. While I agree it is incorrect to make assumptions about a team’s current year performance using last year’s results, I do believe that it is correct to make assumptions using last year’s results given teams in similar circumstances. In this case, New Orlean’s circumstances are very similar to San Antonio’s of last year, as are Utah’s circumstances to last year’s Denver Nuggets.

  62. This Denver team is very different from last year’s team. Chauncey brings a kind of discipline which was lacking earlier. Last year, you would see Melo and AI taking too many jumpers out of the team’s offense. I remember, it was discussed several times in this forum, that their style was similar to the baskteball played on the streets.

    This year, with Chauncey they are much more disciplined on offense as well as on defense. They have above average to great players at every position and so they can afford to be very balanced which is why they are taking good shots almost every time they are on offense.

    Plus, look at their bench: JR Smith, Linas Kleiza, Birdman, Carter, Balkman.
    Denver has always been a really talented team and would have been really good if only they had learned to play as a team. Now, it looks like that transition is happening. If they continue playing like this, they are definitely going to be very tough to beat.

  63. Clutch-Especially the Hornets. They were at a better place than the Jazz last year (almost had BEST record in West, added Posey, lost nobody significant sans Pargo) and have fallen way behind even the Jazz. They need a talent infusion on that team badly.

  64. There is the possibility that tonight’s Jazz crowd may not be as rabid as those in the past:

    http://www.sltrib.com/jazz/ci_12202570

  65. Kwame,
    It’s going to be tough for NO because it seems like they don’t want to pay people. BCR made a good point about Pargo. They miss him.

    Even more, D West has stunk it up. For both the 07 & 08 seasons, he was really at an all-star level. This year, the fire has died. I don’t see it coming back, because he hasn’t gotten better and he’s too much in love with his J.

    He and Boozer are actually very similar.

  66. This is Ding piece from a couple of days ago so some of you may have already read it, but in case you haven’t:

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/brown-bryant-lakers-2370495-james-nba

    Brown noted that “the triangle is a thinking man’s game,” and when asked about Radmanovic’s complaint that role players are limited by the offense, Brown said: “I don’t know how they say they didn’t get opportunities, because they are there. They are there in abundance.”

    The more I learn about ShanWow, the more I like the guy. He’s definitely refreshing in contrast to the entitlement attitude of Farmar. I hope we can resign him. I like that he’s in the similar mold of Ariza in that they’re both tough athletic players who play hard, plays defense, give it their all, seek to improve, are humble about their game and don’t have some other agenda (padding your stats) when they are on the floor except to play hard and win. If we keep adding guys of this mold we’ll have a championship team for a long while, kinda like the Showtime Lakers of the 80′s.

  67. 66 — I wouldn’t put much stock in that story claiming the SLC denizens aren’t as excited about the Jazz this year. Those fans in Utah don’t know how to not act crazy at Jazz games, and the slow ticket sales are probably more a reflection on the economy than they are the fans’ lack of passion.

    Aside from that, you’ve got to question the merits of any story whose sources are a talk radio host and a store’s warehouse worker. If as a reporter he’s going there for color, he’s basically trying to gin up a story out of nothing.

  68. New post up — and Go Bulls!

  69. Reasons why I like the fact that the Lakers drew the Jazz in the first round:

    The D-Will match-up is good prep for other guards they may see down the road.

    They must be disciplined and precise for continuous stretches.

    They are a well coached team.

    There home court crowd can be intimidating.

    Most of these directly relate to real and perceived weaknesses that this Laker team needs to shore up to meet the ultimate goal.

  70. bynum isn’t seeing minutes. close games. we have chance if we wake up. kudos lamar