Game Four Thoughts

Kurt —  April 26, 2009

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

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

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

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


It’s good to have Kobe on your team.

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

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

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

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

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



100 responses to Game Four Thoughts

  1. The only thing worrying me right now, is Pau’s increasingly waning defensive intensity. It’s been showing since the last third of the season. I know he lacks defensive intuition, but too many times, he decides a post entry or drive t the basket is a foregone conclusion and avoids making a real play.

    This is exactly the reason people think he’s soft. I know he can give a better effort. That’s all I want. He’s not going to become an elite defender over night. But he could at least try to have more intensity.

    I’m not usually one to worry, but considering the rap he caught last year…..

  2. I can think of a couple second half blocks by Pau last night.

    I still think people think Pau is 7 feet, so he should be Patrick Ewing (Dirk gets this too). That is not who he is, he’s a better interior defender than he gets credit for but he is not going to dominate the paint. That is why Bynum is on the team and that is why we need Drew to return to his strengths as we go forward.

  3. Did anyone else notice on the box score how the Jazz as a team were all in the minus while the Lakers as a team (other than J-Peezy with his 20 seconds of play) were in the plus. I think that shows how completely we dominated them last night. I really only felt nervous in the first quarter and I think some of that was jitters remaining from game 3.

  4. I agree with Kurt. Pau is a better defender than he is given credit for. He is a good weak side defender and a pretty good rebounder. He is not Tim Duncan though. I think Boozer is just a little too quick for Pau and he repeatedly gets away with hooking in the post which makes him even harder to guard. I think he needs to try and prevent Boozer from getting such deep position in the post though, which he did a much better job of in the second half.

    And just to reiterate Kobe was amazing last night. Even after witnessing his greatness countless times it still amazes me.

  5. I think what we take away from Pau on the interior we fail to give credit for on the perimeter. Most of us remember it whenever Pau gets dunked on in the middle, but I think most of us also remember Pau’s big blocks on the perimeter against Ray Allen in the two Celtic games. Pau’s lack of interior defense, which is still underrated, is made up for by his stellar perimeter help defense, which cannot be understated, especially against Deron Williams.

    I think Bynum’s knee is bothering him a lot more than we believe it should. When you see a basketball actually hit the floor and Bynum is around, I think you have to assume that something is wrong with his mobility. There were a couple rebounds in the game last night that actually hit the floor because Bynum had good position, but he couldn’t retrieve them because he was beaten to the ball. However, I think all we need from Drew is solid one-on-one interior defense, rebounding, and getting deep position in transition. Overall, simply getting more playing time will get him back in his groove, so I have no worries about Drew being prepared for late in the playoffs.

  6. I think also he’s preserving his energy. Pau plays a ton of minutes. I think he’s 1st or 2nd in mins played pretty much every game. That must be hard on a big guy, 7′ or not.

  7. In the third quarter, after Kobe had torched Brewer on about three straight jumpers and a drive to the basket, Sloan took Brewer out of the game. There was a shot of Brewer on the sidelines (KCAL 9 feed) that just said it all – the only word I can think of to describe his face and body language is “defeated”.

  8. Roland Lazenby wrote up some kind words about Tex that elaborate on the quote from Gatinho:

    I went to the game last night and it was heartening to see the support for the Lakers even in SLC. There were a few MVP chants but we were quickly drowned out. It was also striking to see all the Jazz fans leaving with still 5 minutes to go and the Lakers up 20.

  9. Bynum will definitely be needed come round 2 when either Oden or Yao will man the front court. It’s important that the team help him gain confidence in game 5. I also think that he will gain some composure knowing that he doesn’t have to play his best (just play within our schemes) for us to win. That said, he looks very anxious. It takes time for most good/great players to learn how to let the game come to them in the playoffs. Very few can impose their will on a game or series the way Kobe did last night. As good as many All Stars are, the rare few who can force another team to adjust to them (or die trying) are the ones who leave their legacy on the game. Kobe likely realizes that the future is not guaranteed and that this year can be the year he sheds the albatross of winning one without Shaq. It can also be the year where he possibly ushers in another era of continued greatness if we win a title and subsequently more. Last night was a resplendant display of his low-post wizardry mixed with the pumps, spins and hard cut releases that have been his staple over the last few years as opposed the explosive, leaping driver that defined his first few years. Le’t take it to them in game 5 and let the Rockets and Blazers slug it out.

  10. I couldn’t agree more with what Darius has to say about Andrew, I’ve been thinking he’s acting distracted, unfocused, and is blowing even the most basic of things like catching the ball. I hate to think this, but he could be trying too hard now because of the recent buzz about him in the news and this certain chick. you’d think he’d be above that but we forget he’s still a pup, what is he, 21? so maybe he’s trying too hard to make a big impression for … (whatever reason) and this is causing him to be too anxious, (reminds me of Kwame), and when he drops an entry pass, he’s now bending down low to recover and that’s NOT his strong area.
    I agree with PJ, and it’s necessary for Andrew to work his way back into the rotation, earn his minutes, the same way ShanWOW has done it. Andrew will have plenty of chances coming off the bench to earn his minutes and contribute to the team. he needs to settle down, focus on the game and not something … (whatever that is) that’s not on the court at that very moment.
    sounds like the young grasshopper needs a Zen Master to help him to focus on the NOW, stay in the MOMENT, become one with the ball….hmmm, do we know anybody who can fill that bill? hmmmm…

    Drew needs to speak with ShanWOW, listen to his story, glean from it what he can and get his mind right. I don’t see it as a physical thing, it’s all mental.
    … women!

  11. When I saw how the offense was bogging down with Drew in the post in Game 3, I was reminded of Phil’s time with the Bulls. In a late game situation he was imploring his team to make sure they kept running the offense. “Don’t leave Michael alone, yet.”

    With the way the Lakers were so focused on getting Drew touches and Drew so focused on scoring from those touches, I could hear Phil saying, “Stop worrying about Andrew.” I think limiting his minutes last night had a lot to do with keeping a continuity to the offense, which Lamar gives them.

    Phil wants Drew to be Bill Russell right now and Drew wants to be Wilt Chamberlain. He really does have to stop worrying about scoring the ball and just play defense and rebound.

    Something else to think about. Last night was Drew’s 10th career playoff game.

  12. I agree with what’s been said about Bynum. He is not himself, whether it’s due to injury or anxiousness or both. What I commend PJ for doing is immediately making a change. We’ve said all season long that LO & Pau give the offense a much better flow. When Pau posts LO can slash or spot up, whereas Bynum can only do his best to get in position for the offensive board. Bynum’s play was almost a good excuse to get him out of there, along with the ‘guard Okur’ excuse, so we can play our game better.

    One point I want to make about Kobe is that even when he took so many shots last game and took it over, it never felt like they were bad shots or he was the “old Kobe.” Some were after the offense was ran and the clock was winding down. You could almost feel that he was going to make them. He exuded that will. Furthermore, when he was doubled he willingly gave up the ball and found his teammates. He probably intended to set the tone early and then play the team oriented game this mature, 2.0 Kobe has been playing all season. I think that game was indicative of the Kobe’s second coming.

  13. I understand what Pau does bring, and I also know that he’s not a natural when it comes to defense.

    I just think, especially lately, he gives up on plays defensively. I would like to see him try to recover better. I don’t think he or Lamar anticipate well on defense, but at least Lamar tries harder.

    I don’t expect Pau to be Patrick Ewing. I’m one of the defenders of Pau’s capabilities on defense, having seen him give guys like TD and KG some trouble, but this exactly why he’s frustrating me. I *know* he ca do better. He can do a better job on Boozer than he is right now. I don’t want the the problems I’m seeing to continue as the stakes get higher.

  14. So, I guess we can pretty much consider Utah Jazz cooked… Who do we want next? Can we have a scouting report on the Rockets and Blazers because I think they are going 6 or 7 games, whereas I expect our affair with the Jazz to be done on Monday

  15. Considering the Jazz are 0-10 against us in LA the last 10 games. Yeah, they’re cooked. Especially when they can’t get the bogus no calls on the road.

    I’m pulling for Houston.

  16. Wow, just wow. The officials are trying to hand the game to Boston right now. Big Whiny Baby hits Brad Miller on the head, then gives an enormous flop when Miller runs into him and the refs throw Miller out of the game. Disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful.

  17. Zephid, at least they sort of reversed that call, because the initial was horrible.

  18. I’m glad they change that call. That would have been awful call if Miller got kicked out. I didn’t know big baby is such a good actor. Also glad that Miller let him know he wasn’t going to take that ****.

  19. nm, refs corrected the decision and made a better call, with a personal on Whiny Baby and a Tech on Miller for retaliation. The right call would’ve been a tech on Miller and flagrant one on Whiny Baby, but at least they didn’t make the worst call possible.

  20. I don’t get it. How is nobody on Allen? Um, he has been known to make big 3’s.

  21. terrible defense by the bulls, when will they learn?

  22. Magic,

    Big Baby was out there trying out for the NFL blocking…I mean setting a screen.

    Ray wasn’t open at first, but came back to the ball. Not much you can do about that when Big Baby is allowed to set moving picks like he’s trying out for the Patriots.

  23. Seriously, if there’s one guy who you guard at all costs in that situation, its Allen. There’s just no excuse for that.

    Still, that was the mother of all moving picks by Big Baby. He literally walked Noah 2 paces out of position.

  24. Scratch that.

    Salmons did leave him to go towards Rondo?

  25. 22. It looked like Salmons thought they were switching off the first pick, but nobody else seemed to think that. And it was a moving screen, but somebody needed to be playing ball denial on Ray Allen there. Can’t let him get the shot.

  26. man if there is one thing the bulls aint, its smart

  27. If the Bulls lose this game, besides their porous defense in crunch time, I would put this lost on Gordon. That last play and the one during reg time where he forced it and turned it over killed their chance of putting it away. Bad time to be forcing your game.

  28. how many times have the bulls choked in this series?

  29. Wow. The Bulls just cannot hit the critical free throws.

  30. Ben Gordon drains a HUGE three with Paul Pierce in his face.

  31. Wow…that big 3 kinda made up for Gordon’s bad decisions earlier.

  32. Yes! Double OT. Exciting game.

  33. Dude im in the library and the game keeps going! I think imma run to the dorm and catch this ish.

    SCREW P PIERCE. So damned full of himself.

  34. Ben Gordon is what, 6’1″? How does he get those shots off so often over taller defenders?

  35. Joel,

    He has a quick release and that shot has a really high arch.

    This is a classic. Love the battle back and forth. The Rose-Rondo duel is fantastic.

  36. Gordon has fallen in love his shot. They should run more plays through Rose.

  37. Bad freethrow shooting is dragging this game on.

  38. The Bulls are trying to keep this one close.

  39. Chicago is determined to give Boston as many chances as possible to win this game.

  40. 35, Joel.

    He jumps, really, really, really high.

  41. Great game. Celtics only down one.

  42. Bulls like the excitement of a close game. Can’t seem to close it.

  43. what a great game, when will it end

  44. YAY!!! It’s over! It’s finally over!

    OMG that took like 10 hours. Way to go Bulls.

  45. Wow, that last play gives me a lot of respect for Doc Rivers. The Celtics had nothing on that last play, whereas all their other game/quarter ending plays are always extremely well-executed. Speaks volumes to Rivers’ play-calling ability.

  46. Wow, fantastic block by John Salmons. Pity Rose couldn’t get his triple-double.

  47. Clarification on my last point: the Celtics had no time-outs, so the last play was basically by the seat of Rondo’s pants, and was horribly executed. Whereas whenever Rivers can use a timeout to call a play, it is almost always well-executed. Really shows how much the Celtics depend on Doc Rivers play-calling to close games.

  48. The Bulls did everything in their power to try to give it away.


    You’re right. Rose was getting to the basket at will.

    I was on the phone with a friend who’s a Bulls fan, and he’s complaining about it, then I hear, “Oh! He hit that!” The shot to tie the game.

    His feed was about 1-2 seconds faster than mine. It’s like what we see with Kobe, although on a slightly smaller scale. Some of the shot selections are iffy or even bad at times, but there aren’t too many players who can take and make any shot, and forget about the misses (and make you forget about them) when they kill you with the next one.

    Take the good with the bad.

  49. I didn’t see the Big Baby flop/foul biz with Miller, but it reminded me that I hope the league decides to make flopping a foul for this upcoming season.
    wouldn’t it be just fantastic to see the ref run up to the guy who just flopped, laying there on the ground, the ref points right at him at says “foul MF!” hahaha, I would love to see that. flopping as a foul, let’s hope, eh?

  50. another random thought…
    with the C’s looking much less dominant, and the Magic seeming to crumble right before our eyes, I can see the Cavaliers making it to the finals relatively easy.
    not unlike our trip to the finals last year.
    and on the other hand, I can see our journey to the finals being a tough road, with the Jazz, winners of Rockets/Blazers, then either Nuggets or Mavs, (yeah, I think that’s a possibility), which would mean that this year we’re going to have the harder road.
    but that’s a good thing, it’ll toughen us up much like the C’s got from their journey.
    all the sweeter, in my humble opinion.

  51. Mamula,
    Laker fans should prob want Portland. They have to win 3 games vs the Rockets 2,so a longer series and more rest for Lakers.

    On the basketball side,a very interesting series.
    Houston’s PGs can penetrate virtually at will. The Rockets are really choking off the Blazers offense,and they are doing it w/out really double-teaming Roy. What Houston is doing defensively fits in very well w/Phil’s philosophy of putting best defender on prime playmaker,playing the rest honest while trying to protect the paint. Portland is paying so much attention to Yao that Rocket PFs are looking at more open shots than they’d see in a couple of months.

    Everybody says Portland should pick up the pace and run. They can’t pure and simple. Roy is not comfortable in a run-n-gun tempo,Blake is no passing machine and the coach evidentally hates his back-up Sergio Rodriguez who’s the only Blazer who can run an effective break.
    Nate benched Sergio in Game 3 and used Roy as the back-up PG. Terrible idea. Killed the second unit’s effectiveness,messed up Roy so that he was passing up his shots to get others involved,ended any chance of Portland fast-breaking and did not stop Lowry from driving at will.

    Portland has removed Yao from the game by doubling him w/out the ball(supposedly illegal),physically abusing him and having any wing in the vicinity drop down into coverage. As noted this is leaving huge holes elsewhere,w/Scola and Landry getting open Js all game long and huge driving lanes so inviting even BATTIER has attacked the backet.(Seriously,Battier drove more in game 3 than he had all season combined.)

    Oden is hopelessly raw on offense,has no move other than trying to bully his way in close for a bad-looking jump hook or dunks off of passes/rebounds. He has no face-up game,no shot from more than a couple of ft away from hoop.
    However,he is very physical and while he’s on the floor is dominating the glass and trying to contest shots. The Lakers would need Bynum against Oden as Greg will back Gasol or Lamar down at will(or Gasol has to REALLY sell the flop.)

    W/all respect to the Blazers,if the Rockets had hit their FTs in Game 2 anywhere close to their season average,it’b be 3-0 now.

    For the Rockets,when Ron doesn’t try to dominate offensively they win. He has been repeatedly beaten by Roy off the dribble,yet his physicality is wearing Roy down.
    Brooks is able to get into the lane at will,he still doesn’t know what he’s going to do once he’s in there. Lowry,the back-up PG is very phisical,runs at every chance and drives hard.
    The only wing who’s getting any time is Wafer who’s is the proverbial streak shooter. He also finds is easy to get into the lane-his problem there is he’s trying to make shots,so he shies from some contact and will contort and take akward shots in hopes they won’t get blocked. At home his dunks electrify the crowd.

    While I believe the Lakers would be better off against the Blazers-other than Blazer Cs,the team is just not phisical-as a Rockets fan,I want the Rockets to advance.

  52. Sorry about the spelling errors,just geeked about Game 4. Find out if Rockets are really contenders or just another nice team doomed to flame-out in Playoffs.

  53. The “flop” is tough to call. I can’t see the NBA calling a foul unless its so ridiculously obvious. Sometimes when your planted waiting for the charge you lean back to absorb the contact, much like Walton did at the end of the half yesterday. Was that a flop? no way did he have enough contact to send him reeling backwards, but IMO it was not a blocking foul either. It’s the acting that needs to be addressed. It happens on rebounding as well some one will flail themselves out of bounds when they feel a hand in their back and their too far under the rim to get the rebound. I hate the acting part of the flop… but the “leaning” back I can deal with. I think I tech would be appropriate rather than a foul.

  54. 53, Texas Rob, I agree that the flop is tough to call in real time . It is however, exceedingly easy to call on replay. If the official feels that a player may have flopped, why not go over to the replay and check it out? Then they can assess a foul or a tech or whatever necessary. I for one don’t care if the rhythm of a game is disrupted if it is to uproot a practice that is killing the integrity of the game.

    While I don’t really mind flopping in all of its forms (sometimes you have to do a little acting to get a charge call), I completely despise things like what Big Whiny Baby did today, where he tried to goad the referees into tossing Brad Miller out of the game. It’s one thing if you feel you’re getting contact and fouls are not being called; it’s another thing when you’re trying to get something out of nothing.

  55. This Post is full of great comments and links, especially the one about Tex. I feel that Kobe has something called ‘self-actualization’ and the people that have this do not know that they do. Thanks Stephen, for the analysis on the teams which will play in the game I will be watching later, your our Rocket contact here, right? I really did not know that Kobe made the first 11 points for us last night, I am just used to him normally making his fade away jumpers with a hand in his face, doesn’t everybody do that?

  56. The Dude Abides April 26, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    It’s amazing how Garnett used to get away with blatant moving screens, but I can somewhat understand because he’s a superstar. But Big Baby? The guy sets the pick, then moves into the defender he’s picked, then when the defender finally gets around him, Big Baby shoves him in the back with two hands for good measure. And he doesn’t get called for the offensive foul!!! Amazing. I hope this series goes the full seven, with the Leps losing at home. That would be devastating for them, especially if we take it all this year.

  57. After a game like this (our game 4) I just want to go back to being a junior high school basketball fan and not worry about stats, just marvel at Kobe.

    Not so sure what your basketball backgrounds are like, but being 5-11ish, there’s something about a guy raining jumpers that gives you thrills, much more than guys just plowing through the lane and going for dunks.

    As for Rose-Rondo… wow. The rule change really must had an effect, I can’t remember the last time when there were so many PGs with incredible stats.

  58. Re the Flop.
    The official defense of a Flop is the offensive player crashed into the defensive player hard enough to knock the defender onto the ground. In reality it is completely bogus.
    I imagine we’ve all played basketball and gone up against a bigger,stronger player. And just how many times were we knocked to the ground?
    Unfortunately the Flop is here to stay.
    My suggestion is create two categories for Offensive Fouls. An O-1 turns the ball over. A flagrant O-2 also earns a personal foul.

  59. 58

    No question, the new rules are just made for the explosive young guards we have in the league now. Rondo, Rose, Paul, Williams, Wade, Parker, LeBron (technically not a guard), Harris… How do you stop those guys when they come barrelling down the lane at full speed? If you touch them it’s a foul, and once they get past you and into the lane you’re in serious trouble. The game has shifted towards penetrating perimeter players and the numbers reflect that.

  60. and that series is tied. the bulls are showing us something here and the celtics sure can be beat

  61. Wow Turk coming up big, possibly salvaging the Magic’s season.

  62. I agree with Zephid, if the refs think it was really close or if 2 refs make 2 different calls (which happens pretty often actually) then why not go over to the monitor and check it. Play has already stopped because you called a block, so what if it takes a little extra time to check? Obviously, they shouldn’t be doing it on every call, but it should be an option.

    Another option is placing in a rule prohibiting “embellishment,” which is basically what is used in soccer. That way, even if there was contact, you can call a foul on the defender because of his exaggeration/acting. This obviously would be a judgment call, but so are lots of other calls in refereeing. For example, if the play was actually a charge but the defender went flying into the stands and acted like he was stabbed then maybe you call the charge, give the ball to the defense, but then also hit the defender with a personal for “embellishment.” Kind of hard to do in basketball I guess, but its a thought.

  63. I’m not hating on Drew, but he really needs to step his game up. This is his 3rd playoff series and he’s not showing that he deserves to be on the starting lineup.

    He might be playing tentatively because of his injury, but he already got his extension and should be going all out already.

    I’m 100% that the Lake Show will finish the Jazz tomorrow but I am getting worried they’ll have a tougher time with the Blazers if they go through.

    Kobe should have less games like these; he should conserve his energy for the deep run.

    Anyway, I hope Drew gets his act together and develops to the next great Laker center he’s supposed to be.

  64. Good stuff on the “flop” issue. I’m still leaning toward as little change as possible. A tech for obvious occurrences during a game. Maybe a 1 game suspension if not called during the game, but reviewed later. Whatever they decide its has to be better than this “thespian” crap.

  65. Man, I usually don’t agree with this, but Laker fans really are spoiled. The Bynum thing is a little silly. The guy is obviously not 100%. Playing yourself back into game condition in the playoffs is just not how it’s supposed to go, for anybody. He wasn’t just going to magically be effective. I fully believe PJ will make sure he gets his conditioning and confidence right by the Finals. They know we’ll need him to bring the defense & rebounding that Pau won’t be able to.

    On a quiet Sunday night at FBG, I’m going to give love to LO and hope no one reads it. He’s played really well these 4 games. Specifically the last 2. Last night, he did a fantastic job of playing off Mike Jordan and not getting lost in the offense. He also was solid on defense in the paint and on the perimeter. Blocking/changing shots, swiping at the ball, rebounding. Really playing inside the team defensive scheme. Just awesome. The only negative has been the standard ill advised jumpers, but it hasn’t been many and he hasn’t HURT us. That’s what I love to see. Whatever maui wowie he’s on, they need to keep him stocked the rest of the playoffs.

    That said, I know very soon, he’s going to be himself and cost us a game. I know it, I just hope we can survive it. But that’s in the future, today respect is given.

  66. I agree that we need to lay off Bynum. Dude was injured from January to 3 weeks ago and expecting him to be 100% in his offense, defense and playmaking is unrealistic.

    I think a lot of us misinterpreted Phil inserting him in the starting lineup as his blessing that the kid was 100% ready to be back, when it was just a way to get him more minutes and bring him back to speed rapidly.

  67. 59- An offensive foul is a personal foul. Not sure what you meant there.

  68. 63

    I watch football (I don’t recognise the word ‘soccer’ 😉 ) all the time and that rule is very difficult for the refs to enforce in real time. Basketball is even faster, has more contact, and involves bigger, more athletic players, so I think a rule like that would just create more problems for the officials. Fouls are already subjective enough without asking the zebras to decide whether or not to punish players for flopping.

  69. anyone else get that emotion that the momentum has turned portlands way?

  70. What I’d like to see is more no-calls in certain situations. When a 6’9″, 230-pound forward falls back like he’s been hit by a cannonball, chances are he’s accentuating the contact. Just leave him on his butt and allow the offensive player to take advantage.

  71. 64,
    I’d change it so an Offensive Foul is NOT a personal foul,just a change of possesion. A flagrant offensive foul would still be a personal.
    When a player hooks,pushes off,lowers the shoulder,etc a O-1. The sort of ticky-tack stuff that should be called,but isn’t that serious. When a player just crashes into another,then make it more serious. In the old days the NBA had force-outs. Really a player was fouled,but it really wasn’t that serious so the NBA came up w/the force-out. I’d do something similar on offensive fouls.

  72. Wow what a battle! I love it when teams leave it all out on the floor.

  73. These Gatorade ‘young Tiger’ ads are cringeworthy.

  74. 74- I mute them every time I see them.

  75. Artest is doing a Kobe…

    Game 3 @ Utah Kobe

  76. Kevin Harlan makes a lot of mistakes for such an experienced play-by-play guy. He gets players’ names wrong and fails to realise what call has been made far too often.

  77. I was so caught up in the poor shooting of artest that I failed to see he had 9 assists…

  78. Rockets win by 1 and in the process deflate Portland’s hopes of moving on. Loving it.

    One note watching all these games this weekend, teams need to work on making clutch freethrows. It would help to give me back at least a couple of hours of my life that’s being dragged out watching OT.

  79. Epic example by both teams how not to execute down the stretch.
    How many times will a team miss 5 of 6 FTs at end of close game-and win?

    Barring a monumental collapse looks like my Rockets will play the Lakers in next Rd. Please be kind.

  80. gotta love houston winning, as they’re the kinda team we can out-execute, whereas portland is the kinda team that will really make us pay for defensive lapses.

    but Houston lost a series being up 3-1 before, i think, so nothing’s set in stone. still, it would be the mother of all ironies if Houston finally make it to the second round without T-mac.

    To think the guy could once put 13 points or so in 11 seconds.

  81. The Dude Abides April 26, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    I’d much prefer the Rockets over the Blazers. If any games are close during crunch time, all we need to do is make sure Artest winds up with the ball out on the perimeter with ten seconds left in the shot clock. Then force him to take one dribble to his left and launch one. Then block out and grab the rebound. If we don’t grab the rebound, then find Battier out on the perimeter and make sure he doesn’t get off a three.

  82. 77, Joel, I’ve been saying that for a long time, which is why I always insist that Mike Breen is so much better than Kevin Harlan. I think both are good at bringing out the drama of a game, but Mike Breen knows so much more about basketball, is so much more engaged with his color commentators, and rarely ever makes mistakes. I also liked Doug Collins’ commentary. Very insightful and actual commentary, as opposed to regurgitating cliche after cliche.

    Honestly, the dream broadcasting booth was during the Olympics with Mike Breen and Doug Collins.

  83. 82

    Mike Breen is probably the most knowledgeable play-by-play guy around. Too bad he often gets paired with JVG (who provides some insight but tries to be a comedian way too often) and Mark Jackson (who provides no insight and tries to be a comedian way too often).

  84. One important thing to note about the Blazers-Rockets series: A few weeks ago, we all commented on how similar the Blazers were to the Lakers as far as team composition. I know a lot of folks here would prefer a Houston match up, but we need to be careful of this Houston team as they will be battle-tested with a team that is built and plays very similar to our Laker team.

  85. Re: the Bynum talk-

    Everyone remember that it took Bynum nearly half the season to really show any sort of dominance coming off his injury in the middle of *last* season. Couple that with Utah showing him some different looks each time down, and the apparent pain/discomfort he’s still feeling with the brace, and you frankly have to expect him to take a while to get fully up to speed. We have to remember that for a 21 year old big man, he’s already far ahead of the curve. It should be expected for him to take some time to get back to where he was three months ago.

    Thankfully, we’ve got some time to let him work it out, as I really don’t see any of the Jazz, Rockets, Nuggets or Mavericks as posing any real threat. If the Rockets should finish out this round against the Blazers, we should have a pretty clear path to the finals, when we really *will* need a full speed Bynum. Give him time; he needs it, and we need him.

  86. Manny,

    I think there are some similarities between the Lakes and the Blazers. Both are long. Both are skilled. Both have a penetrating gaurd with the ability to create for others and score from the perimeter. We don’t quite match their athleticism but the Lakes are more skilled up and down the the line-up and PJ probably has a slightly better sense of fitting the team’s matchup needs with better defined role players. With the Blazers you have player a players who starts and then the next player does the same thing but at a lower quality. Joel>Oden. Aldridge>Frye. Batum>Outlaw>Rudy. Roy>Fernandez>Bayless. The one position where McMillen has a different type of player is PG with Blake>Rodrigez>Bayless. Rodrigez can run the break and Black is a half-court PG who’s been going crazy from the 3 this season. The Lakers can mix and match players that can do different things and many of the things that one player does well, he does very well. How different is Ariza from Walton or Drew to PAu. Who on the team is like LO? Fish Shamwow and Farmar play the sae position but in very different ways. The Blazers are a half-court, control the tempo, strong execution type team that uses it’s length to defend. The Lakers come at you on the run and if nothing is available they pull it back and run the offense.

    On the Drew issue, I think his fast start after returning made us feel he was farther along then he really is. That said, he might well be at 85% by the finals (if we make it) and with him in the middle the Lakes are an elite defense. Also consider that the element Shamwow brings to the D wasn’t here when Drew was playing well. An already aggresive running team might get to run even more.

  87. Close it out and we’ll have plenty of time for Drew, Ariza and Walton to recover, regardless of who comes up.

    Off tangent, I was watching one of those amazing happens commercials with Wade, and just realized that Odom was there – he’s also featured in that Kobe commercial as well. So, it got me thinking: now there are two players who know what it’s like to play with Kobe and Wade.

    Shaq and Lamar. Shaq got the early Kobe and the grown Wade, Lamar got the early Wade and grown Kobe. We all know what Shaq’s assessment of the two are (depends on the time frame, of course) but did anyone ever ask Lamar how the two compare? Now’s probably not a good time to ask, but I think it would be an interesting question 😉

  88. We definitely want Houston. Their defense isn’t good enough to stall our offense that much, and their offense is horrid the moment Yao leaves the floor and their role players are forced to create for themselves. We also can throw a pair of mobile post defenders in Gasol and Bynum and even Mbenga at Yao, which are much more of a challenge than the slower, more traditional post defenders Pryzbilla and Oden are. Also, they really don’t have anyone that can guard Odom outside of Artest, and if he’s guarding Odom, then that leaves Scola matched up against Ariza, and that’s a huge speed differential.

  89. If we’re looking for the easiest path to the finals, the Rockets are it. This is because we match up better against them both on defense and on offense than against the Blazers.

    On Offense Against The Rockets

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

    On Offense Against The Blazers

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

    On Defense Against The Rockets

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

    On Defense Against The Blazers

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

  90. Stephen,

    I would have to disagree with you.

    I don’t think a series dragging out matters. It didn’t hurt the Celtics last year. The best team is going to win regardless.

    Not only does Portland advancing to the 2nd round give them obvious confidence, but they give the Lakers problems. Especially in Portland. I think the Lakers 4-0 record against Houston in the regular season is a strong indication of what will happen in the Playoffs. They are simply not as good a team.

    I obviously don’t think Portland is as good as us, but I do feel their ceiling hasn’t been reached yet. They can get better. I don’t think Houston can. They are as good as they’re going to get.

    I see a series against Houston being similar to the Utah series, minus the homecourt boost Utah had.

  91. Much love for Tex. As a K-State alumni and Laker fan I have to say I’m a huge fan of Tex. (As an aside, he never coached Wilt, Wilt played for KU).

  92. wondahbap,
    One thing to consider about Houston. This is a team that is getting better at what they do. They have had to change their approach with the Tracy issue and are evolving. I think they run a better ‘system’ without McGrady. He is like Kobe, only not as smart and subject to pressure – meaning that he will alter the team’s entire focus at times in the game. They are better when they stay within their system and they have now learned to do that.

    They may not beat the Lakers, but it would be a mistake not to take them seriously – remember the Lakers just couldn’t win in SLC – until Saturday – and look what happened Saturday.

  93. The Lakers have held court at home and split in the land of the Utes. If they can win once again at home, it’s all over. Given that the Jazz are one “Okur” away from being truly competitive, I’d hate to be coach Sloan preparing for Staples.

    Peeking ahead can be dangerous, but health and experience seem to be ruling all the playoffs this year–as they always do. Looks like Houston.

  94. anyone else worried about Luke? an ankle sprain that didn’t result from turning or rolling his ankle seems really unusual, which generally means a worse injury.

  95. Wondabop,
    Boston was healthy going into Playoffs last yr and split the load among 3 players.
    Don’t you think Bynum could use a couple extra days of practice? Brown as well? And I have to believe Kobe wouldn’t mind a few extra days between games.

  96. Zephid,
    Beautiful comparison of Rockets and Trailblazers, that nicely summed up why would rather face the Rockets. I must admit that playing in Portland was not something I was looking forward to either–imagine if they were allowed to use their own announcers, like they have in the first round! Ew.

    I also think that a short series against the Jazz would benefit our players. Andrew clearly is not at 100% (As expected) and some additional time for treatment and practice drills would probably do him good. If Luke’s ankle is injured, a few days of rest absolutely will not hurt him, and with the minutes Pau has been playing, as well as Kobe and Brown (I just can’t call him Shannon… I work with a girl named Shannon!), a few days of rest will only mean that they come out with more energy in the next round.

  97. I have a great deal of respect for Houston. They are highly disciplined, play impeccable defense both inside and out, and are playing better basketball than they ever have without McGrady. Part of the reason I think is that Yao has become a very dominant player. We don’t tend to notice this because his improvement has been so gradual. But now, unlike in his earlier years, he is rarely out of position both offensively and defensively, and he almost always makes the right plays.
    I believe we may have better matchups, but I don’t think it will be dominant. Yao plays a lot more minutes in the playoffs. When he is out, they can slide scola to center to defend ours and he has become a pretty good post defender. Hayes and Landry always play solid, and along with the their team defensive schemes could give us real problems.

    I also don’t think Aaron Brooks will be intimidated by our bigs. In fact I think he’ll blow by Fish on a regular basis and set up his teammates for easy looks or take it himself. We really need to amp up the defensive intensity and play the angles.

    When it comes down to it, we will win the series, but it won’t be easy by any means. What Mcgrady lacked in focus he did always make up for it with a ball handling presence who could get off his own shot. They will miss that since Brooks is still inexperienced to take that role late in games, and Artest is simply not a great one on one player who can take you off the dribble. They are very fortunate to have had role players like Battier and Wafer and Brooks to step up and hit big shots against Portland, but that shouldn’t be counted on to continue. Whereas we have Kobe. So.

  98. I’m sure he meant “coached against Wilt” since beating him is famously what drove Wilt out of college basketball early.