Lakers/Jazz Game Four Chat

Kurt —  April 25, 2009

NBA 2009: Lakers Beat Jazz 119-109

UPDATE: Tex Winter, the Laker consultant who is the inventor of the triangle offense, has suffered a stroke.

Jackson, talking after a morning shootaround in Salt Lake City, said Winter was in Manhattan, Kan., for a reunion of Kansas State basketball team members when he became ill and fell in the shower.

Winter was taken to a hospital, Jackson said, and had made slight progress Saturday.

“I’ve been in touch with the family and they feel relatively at ease with the situation, as difficult as it could have been,” Jackson said. “I’m happy to say that, and they’ve basically said, ‘Take your mind off of this and put it where it belongs right now.’ “

This is certainly sad news, he and his family are in all our thoughts.

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There’s not a lot of panic after the ugly play of the Lakers in game 3, in part because we know that teams ahead 2-1 in a series win it 81.9% of the time. Phil Jackson doesn’t looked panicked in this video interview (the video also includes the Morrison/Sasha little verbal skirmish.)

There’s also not a lot of panic because the things the Lakers were able to do well in the first two games they suddenly did poorly in game three, and we like to think that game three was the anomaly. For example, when Ronnie Brewer was on Kobe in the first two games, he was 7 of 12 (58.3%), but in game three he was 3 of 16 (18.8%). When you look back over history, Kobe traditionally does well on Brewer at Staples but struggles more at the toxic waste dump, er, Energy Solutions Arena. I expect Kobe to be better, although maybe not great.

I don’t expect a blowout today (remember game four against Utah last playoffs went to overtime and Utah pulled away in the extra period). In part that is because Okur is expected back and he creates some matchup problems for the Lakers on the defensive end — Okur is a big who can shoot the three and that pulls one of the Lakers better rebounders and shot blockers away from the basket. Phil Jackson has hinted he may try Odom on Okur, keeping a guy more comfortable out on the wings with him. But that puts more pressure on Gasol to push back and hang with Boozer on the boards inside.

The Lakers need to get back to scoring in the paint — that means a heavy dose of Pau but it also means the Lakers need to attack the rim and not settle for jump shots. That starts with Kobe but includes LO and others. Darius said he also wants to see the Lakers give the Jazz some of their own medicine by running the pick and roll.

In our normal P&R sets, we use Kobe and Pau. This is the best pairing because of Kobe’s decision making and Pau’s versatility in being able to pop or dive and after receiving the ball shoot or pass with equal effectiveness. However, recently (and normally this works, so I understand the tactic) we’ve seen Pau pop more and Kobe use his dribble to probe the defense and shoot the midrange jumper more. However, I’d really like to see some other options explored on this play in order to get the Jazz on their heels. Basically, I’d really like to see Kobe drive hard off the screen and try to get into the lane and score at the basket and/or I’d really like to see Pau roll/dive to the basket more in order to get closer looks at the basket for himself or to collapse the defense to free up other players on the weakside as defenders help. In the last game, especially in the closing minutes (and I believe zephid mentioned this), when we ran the Kobe/Pau P&R, the Jazz essentially put a soft double team on Kobe which simultaneously took away Kobe’s midrange jumpshot and took away passing angles to a popping Pau. Also, because Kobe was going to the sideline on the P&R, the soft double also took away the LO flash to the FT line as the topside defender (Brewer) as well as LO’s man were taking away the angle for Kobe to make the pressure release pass in that direction. It’s the main reason why we consistently ended up with Kobe forcing long jumpers with a bigger defender (the soft doubling Boozer) contesting the shot. I think if Kobe comes off that screen hard in an attack mindset at Boozer (or any other big that uses this tactic) we’ll see him draw more fouls against players who lack footspeed and we’ll also see him get into the lane to either score or find open teammates (Ariza, Fisher, ShanWOW, Sasha) on the weakside in position to shoot open jumpers. Or if Pau dives/rolls, we’ll see the same effect. This may be a minor adjustment, and one that exists on a play that is not *the* staple of our offense, but it’s a go to play in key scoring situations and I think we do need to mix it up some.

What was troubling about Andrew Bynum’s fouls was the uselessness of them. Fouls trying to block sure baskets because he was late getting there in the first place. Backing down a known flopper like Collins, which is exactly what he wants you to do. Bynum just needs to play smarter. If not, he’ll be back on the bench.

The Lakers need to close out on Williams and Korver beyond the three point line, combined they are shooting 39.4% from three, the rest of the team is at 16.7%. Again, it’s about being smart and recognizing who you are matched up with on the floor.

Basically, the Lakers just need to play smarter and they will be fine.

Kurt

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