Who’s Next?

Kurt —  April 28, 2009

NBA 2009: Lakers Beat Jazz 119-109
Not everything was pretty about how the Lakers beat the Jazz — unless you enjoy giving up leads just to live dangerously — but in the end just about everybody on the planet said the Lakers in five and the Lakers won in five. They looked dominant at times doing it, and the bench was alternately fantastic and frustrating.

But the Jazz are gone. Who’s got next?

Well, either the Rockets or Portland. The Rockets are up 3-1 on the Blazers, next game on Tuesday night (NBA TV, 7 pm). The Rockets have big matchup advantages in this series that they are exploiting better than I thought they would. The Blazers have nobody who can slow Yao, forcing a lot of double teams that is opening things up for others on offense. On defense, the Blazers are a jumpshooting team and with Battier and Artest the Rockets have some quality perimeter defenders.

We’ll get into more of an Xs and Os breakdown against the Lakers later, but Zephid has laid out the case quite well (and I agree with him) that the Lakers easier path is through Houston.

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.

Kurt

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213 responses to Who’s Next?

  1. Long time guys… For some reason, the new FBG doesnt quite load on my mobile, and I browse there alot. So pardon the disappearance, I guess none of y’all needed me to post 1st in the Utah Series ;)

    I was simply looking at the post and realized that the Lakers need to cheer for Houston to win in 6, although a beaten-up 7-gamer whoever the heck comes out is still a favorable matchup for us. Like it has been mentioned in the post, its all about the matchups.

    I don’t know if the blog has talked about this aspect yet in the everyday talks but has someone noticed about the disparity in offense? Portland has a myriad of talent from the offense perspective and their D isn’t half bad… whilst Houston has the legs and body to defend our guys, but alot of times, the team relies on team basketball to create a shot.

    Like I fancied it before it began, its Houston for me. For the reason that they are up 3-1, and for the reason that they were the vet team all along. Yet it still puzzles me why they could not replicate the game 1 success they’ve had, squeaking out only a +4 in the last 2 HOME wins they’ve played.

  2. While I think Zephid makes great points above and am in no way trying to counter what he said. Let’s remember that our struggles against Portland, both of which are more recent than are success were both on the road. At home, albeit much earlier in the season we beat them by 20 (Opening night) and by 14 (Jan. 4). Certainly they had a great post-all-star game record and that should be taken into account. We beat them Handily on our home floor twice. They beat us once handily on their home court in a game where the Lakers were completely un-ready to play. Then late in the season they beat us by 8 in a contest that was actually much closer than the final score. Important to remember about the most recent lost is that the Lakers had a tough schedule and were on the Second night of a back to back. In spite of those things the Lakers came out ready to play and that game ended it up being one of my favorite games to watch although I was ultimately unhappy with the result. So I think that everyone, myself included tends to get a little doom and gloom about the Portland Trailblazers, but we can and in a seven game series most likely would beat them.

    Matt

    Check me out on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mfeige

  3. It will be interesting to see what happens on Tuesday in Portland.

    I do think Houston has a few matchup problems for us – namely two capable Kobe defenders, bigs who pull in a lot of offensive rebounds, and a pair of quick pgs who get into the lane. The key to Houston is Artest, who goes into hero mode against Kobe (and that’s great for us), as well as the Lakers length and speed (especially from the bigs). However, Houston’s defense is too good to gloss over and expect an easier path.

    Also, I think Portland’s perceived advantages are slightly overrated. Zephid makes some great points about the matchups, but overall, I do not think Portland is good enough defensively or on the road. They have incredible depth and neutralize many of the Lakers usual strengths, but in the playoffs Kobe will give Batum the Brewer treatment and Steve Blake puts no pressure on the SSZ. Their highly ranked offense relies a lot on iso matchups for Roy, Aldridge, and Outlaw. I think in a 7 game series that’s too easy to counter (and Houston, especially, has the defenders to do that).

    Portland has given us matchup trouble on the road in the regular season, but I see Houston’s scrappy effort as more dangerous in the playoffs. Just tonight I saw Pau struggle with the hands slapping him at every chance – imagine how it will be when Hayes, Landry, and Scola get to him.

  4. None of Houston’s starting 5 has the ability to create his own shot. This was TMac’s role for the team. He was essentially the PG of the team after the ball crosses the mid court line.

    Yao Ming relies on the entry pass – and we all know that has to be emanating from our sophomore PG Aaron Brooks. Not to take anything away from the fearless kid, but he is simply the kind of guy Phil would love to have in the other end of his matchups. Just beware tho how lightning quick the guy is.

    Back to Yao, we do have the body and more importantly the length to bother his positioning and his shot. Another be-ware for our guys, the Chi-man is 7’5. Probably 7’7 when you include his Reeboks. So either he gets the rebound or the getting-more-famous backtap offensive rebound gets them going.

    Ron Artest is the only other guy who can create his own shot. Although he acts like he wants to facilitate the guys, we all know he falls inlove with that 3. So I say make him a shooter. I rely on him missing a last second three than Kobe hitting one. You get the picture.

    Shane Battier and Luis Scola are Luke Walton IQ’d players who are better athletically. Esp Shane who has proven to be a good Kobe defender ala Bruce Bowen-lite. Be-ware of the corner three ala like I just mentioned, Bruce Bowen. Scola isn’t half bad and his mid-range has been developing. So unless their shots are being in-the-flow of the offense or we are simply pushing them outside to shoot, will depend entirely on our ability to defend them.

  5. Not to spam but I also would like to see the presence of Yao in the middle light a little fire in Drew’s behind. The kid has been needing a shot of Adrenalin since the Utah series.

  6. Warren, this is just great indeed, your back with the first post, all will be OK now for the Lakers. It’s been awhile, since last November or so as I remember. Anyway good timing and I look forward to your comments in this Post Season. I bet PJ activates Mbenga for the next series to do some Mbanging and Bynum will also be a key.

  7. beyondblue,

    Portland has been exposed a bit in the playoffs, but I’d much rather deal with Houston’s difficulty in scoring on us than Portland’s defensive woes, especially with the Rose Garden vibe hanging over us.

    Bynum will probably feel more comfortable in the Houston series defending Yao and shooting over Chuck Hayes when Yao goes to the bench. Houston simply doesn’t have the frontcourt to deal with us. Scola has a height disadvantage against Gasol and a speed disadvantage against Odom (they defended Odom with Artest in previous games, creating a greater speed mismatch with Scola on Ariza). A reason Houston is able to defend Portland so well is that Artest and Battier are trapping Roy hard and forcing him either into Yao or a tough shot because none of his teammates are creating anything for themselves. Aldridge hasn’t played well against Scola, Outlaw has been cold against Battier, and the rest of Portland’s players have fallen flat in terms of generating offense. Yao also can help more because he doesn’t have to respect Oden’s or Pryzbilla’s post skills. Portland’s most effective lineup has actually been Aldridge at the five and Outlaw at the four, but that just invites Yao to dominate at the other end and if they double team, then Scola has open looks from the free throw line.

    Now, if Artest and Battier try to do the same thing to Kobe, it’s not going to work considering that Yao has to respect Bynum’s or Gasol’s post skills, and they’re going to have a handful guarding Fisher and Ariza at the three point line and Ariza and Odom cutting to the basket. That and well, Kobe is Kobe and Roy is a superstar but unfortunately for Portland, not Kobe. Ever since that Moneyball article came out, he’s been on a mission to shred Houston, and Artest trash-talking that one game has only made it more personal.

    Lakers over Rockets in 5.

  8. Whether we win by a mile or by a headhunt against the Rockets is up to Bynum’s play and our frontline’s rebounding. I was a bit disappointed with his play in those couple of minutes. He should keep quiet and play ball if he deserves some minutes. He was effective against Yao. Maybe that and knowing his minutes will go up will finally give us a chance to see our 4-headed behemoth of a starting lineup. If he is indeed lit up to dominate, then he can cancel out Yao from the defensive end and bang him up with what remains of his legs. We don’t need a lot of offense from him. A couple of 20+ nights on close occassions can come in handy. Kobe will have a so-so cold game and hot ones against the Rockets, that seems more or less a given with their defenders. Lamar must play with Jazz-level intensity and numbers to boot. Handling brooks even with 2 7-foot obstacles and a 6-10 guy lurking around remains a concern for me. To me, it has to be fisher contributing more to shutting down brooks than the other 4 having to make up for it or else we might see a lot of dish-offs, hand-offs or fouls down low. To tire Yao, let’s run on them once in awhile. I hope to see more of Shanwow and maybe give Jordan a shot at this one. ANOTHER QUESTION: will our bench outdo theirs? I get the feeling we don’t have the acclaimed bench we used to have enterint this round. they need to find their soul and their intensity.

    Agains the Blazers, let’s make sure they keep shooting jumpshots while we grab their misses. Sounds fair to me. Our pounding with the Jazz should have reminded our guys of what it takes to defeat an athletic team. Portland is way more athletic than the Jazz imo. They shouldn’t be running around. I prefer a grind out pace in this one if this means a 1-shot opportunity for the blazers with little time on the clock most of the time. kobe should torch the blazers. i say, he should torch them, not for anything else but for all-time’s sake he can do it. their big men will push around ours anyway. again, since no one in the league can manhandle lamar’s set of skills at optimum level, whoever matches up with him will make a key tandem. GO LAKERS!

  9. Just to re-iterate a question by lil’ pau from the last thread:

    “Request assistance please:

    I’m sure everyone here but me knows the answer to this, so I apologize: Sloan was kicked out but Fish only shot one T– did Sloan have another T earlier in the game that I don’t remember, or can a coach be kicked out of a game somehow without earning two technical fouls?”

    I remember wondering about this myself, and I checked the boxscore after; it only showed one technical on Ronnie Price for hollering at Fisher:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/boxscore;_ylt=AlxhGMOt5bjt4gIhLamPCaW8vLYF?gid=2009042713

    So if anyone would like to clear things up, that’d be great; thanks in advance.

  10. Houston is what is the more preferable matchup for the Lakers but I’d rather watch LA-Portland. I dont enjoy watching the Rockets play, the most enjoyable part is watching Yao go to work in the post and Ron Artests unpredictability…

  11. A few thoughts:

    1. I think this will be a tough close-out for Houston. 2 of their 3 wins have been nail-biters, and I could see this going to a 7th game. The fact that they have kept Portland below 90 3 out of 4 times bodes well for them, of course.
    2. I wanted to comment on the blowing leads issue. If the team were going to have a “wake-up call” as some wish for, I think it would have happened after Game 4 of the 2008 Finals. Game 6 was so brutal that people in Lakerland didn’t talk about Game 4 much, but remember the team almost blew Game 5 as well. I think this happens due to the nature of the game and the team”s personnel. I think most teams, no matter how intense or professional, relax a little when they get up 20. You combine this with the fact that the Lakers are not a defense-first team and almost everybody on the roster is an offense-oriented player, you get the blown leads. The Lakers have shown that they are capable of platying good d when they are intense and focused, but it does not come naturally to them. Even the second-team guys–Walton, Vujacic, Farmar–are offense-first. When they relax just a little, they get shredded, and the other team comes back. This is why Shannon Brown, more of traditional NBA role player, has taken over Farmar’s job. It is not a talent issue–Brown simply comes into the game and hustles, and takes shots when they are there. So, it is not a question of “toughness” IMO but of skill set.
    3. I agree that Houston is an easier match-up than Portland, but then I wanted Dallas instead of Utah, so what do I know.
    4. I still think the Lakers need to get Bynum going to win the trophy.

  12. http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2009/04/27/move-over-lamar-bynum-to-start-next-series/15927/

    I think this is a good move – Lamar is needed to boost the bench.

  13. Just a little love for LO.

    I’ve been a vocal proponent of this guys “soft” play and lack of intensity in years-past.

    Well, Odom is playing incredible basketball right now, and if he keeps this up there is no team — no one — that is going to stop LA from a parade.

    I just love what he’s been doing; he’d be a #2 guy on most teams in the NBA, and that included Cleveland.

    Lakers are bringing it home this year…and next year…and the year after that.

  14. Here’s a great quote from KD that I think is absolutely spot on with what I was trying to say last night:

    “The Laker second unit, however, was at a loss. Poor defensively, inefficient offensively. And in the fourth quarter, Paul Millsap and Ronnie Price took over, leading to a near-Utah comeback. It happens. The Jazz are a good team. They’re not 22 points worse than the Lakers.”

  15. As I mentioned in the previous thread, Utah was a particularly bad match for Andrew; plus he is just returning from injury.

    One silver lining from that series for Phil; perhaps Andrew finally gets it that he is in there for defense and not to score. I want to see more passing out of the post from him – of course that means other players have to continue to move when he has the ball.

    If he goes up against Chuck Hayes much I would expect he would get his scoring in at that time.

  16. I do think Farmar will get some run in this series, but ShanWow will been in with him at times, because Phil will slide Kobe down to the 3.

  17. the other Stephen April 28, 2009 at 8:08 am

    how long do you guys think that trevor can shoot this well from the three? he’s been shooting at 41% throughout april, 36% in march, 34% in february, and 35% in january.

  18. Wrong, Utah is not a good team and I would think everybody would get that after that series. They were down double digits all 5 games against us. All Milsap, Price, and Korver did was show the heart that Boozer wasn’t capable of. Nothing more.

    Concerning round 2, there’s no need to think about Portland. That ship has sailed. Another team in the trifecta of overrated city. They were never getting out the 1st round.

    I’m thinking we’re going to have an easier time with Houston than Utah. Bad matchups all over the floor. They’re depending on inexperienced guards with questionable IQs in Brooks and Wafer. Yao isn’t capable of imposing his will and his team isn’t capable of getting him the rock in scoring positions. Artest is doing all he can to shoot his team out of games. The shots he took in game 4 were insane.

    Lastly, the ability of Artest & Battier to defend Kobe is being vastly overstated. I don’t remember RonRon ever consistently bothering him. Shane OTOH has historically done a very good job, but I think he may have lost half a step.

    Lakers in 5 due to our bench inefficiency.

  19. I think that when he is healthy, Bynum can become a 20-15 guy for us, with another 5 assists + blocks per night.

    However, all the calls to have him “forget about offense” are a bit overly simplified.

    What he needs to focus on is simple:
    1)Hustle and work for good inside position. Very, very few opposing bigs can keep up with the pace Bynum good set up and down the floor. Use those young legs!

    2) Box out. Put that big body on someone and use that gluteus to maximus effect!

    3) Rebound on the way up. This is a timing issue. Timing + Aggression = Confidence = Production. Especially on the inside where it gets down and dirty.

    4) Finish with both hands. Either a two hand dunk, or a lay in with the open hand protecting the shooting hand.

    If Bynum takes the occasional 10-15 foot jumper, that is fine. We can live with that. Make 4 out of 10 of those, and the opposing bigs have to come out a bit, which makes getting positioning easier overall.

    I think we are seeing a bit of fatigue, some discomfort and a little lack of confidence from the struggles he is having. Someone in the Lakers office needs to put together a highlight reel for Andrew, and get him pumped and back on track.

  20. Clutch, Utah is a good team. Now we’re saying 48 win teams are no good? This is not Detroit or Miami, this is a team that is loaded with quality players. D-Will is as good a point guard as there is in the game, Boozer is injured but there is a reason he is an Olympian. AK-47, Milsap, Korver, Orkur are all good role players. They have a hall of fame coach. They run a great offensive system. The Jazz have lot of talent, they just are not playing up to it, but this is no pushover team.

    I think some Lakers fans will not be happy unless the Lakers in two Larry O’Brien trophies a year.

  21. Kurt – or, they won’t be happy unless they utterly and wrongly dismiss the opposition at every turn.

  22. 3ThreeIII,
    Don’t think individual, think team for a minute. Andrew isn’t out there all by himself. It is his job to fit into the team and system structure.

    Well and good to list all the things he has to work on over the summer, but this is not the summer. Just back from injury, very young, under tremendous pressure, high self expectations – this is where Andrew is right now. The idea is to simplify what is expected of him – including his own self expectations. That is the silver lining about having such a bad series in Utah.

  23. Portland’s done. I thought they were finished from Game 1. I doubted they could ever really recover from getting smacked on their home floor like that. They needed every game at home. No way do they win 3 straight. Time for the Rockets.

    I think Bynum will snap out of his funk in the 2nd Round. It feels like Phil used the Utah series to give Andrew a wake up call.

    He should be able to beat Yao down the floor every time, although most of his minutes will probably come versus their undersized bench.

    Even better.

  24. PeanutButterSpread April 28, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Well, our starters thoroughly outplayed their starters in Game 5 that’s for sure.

    I think the only reason we lost that lead was when our bench tried to get Andrew back in the groove. He had like 3 offensive isolation that led to fastbreaks for Utah.

    I kinda put the onus on Phil for that lead dwindling to the point it did.

    First, he should never had put in garbage time bench in. It’s an elimination game. The starters will have at least 5 days of rest. Keep most of them in (rest Trevor) but keep at least Pau or LO with Drew. He can’t have Josh with him on that island alone.

    Idk, I just don’t think there should ever be a garbage time in the playoffs unless you’re up by 40 points or something. Because the Jazz are a really good team and they always make runs and they never give up, you’d think Phil learned his lesson by now.

  25. PeanutButterSpread April 28, 2009 at 9:20 am

    bringing my comment from the last thread:

    SHOUT OUT TO THE DUCKS!

    For also winning their series.

    Who saw that coming?!

  26. Anyone know the status of Luke? I like what he adds especially against an undersized HOU team.

    I am really interested in seeing how this series isn’t a 4-game sweep. Who on Houston is going to knock down big shots in the 4th quarter?

  27. 9

    You can be ejected on only one technical.

  28. Probably it is the Rockets but remember they haven’t been into the second round in a long time. Also, there is a difference between being down 3-1 and having home court advantage and down 3-1 without homecourt advantage. If the Blazers win tonight, they only need one in Houston to set up game 7 at home. There is some real pressure on the Rockets.

    Plus, living as I do in Oregon, I’d really like to shut the Blazer fans up and send that team a message they will remember next year.

  29. Adam: A sweep? I’m curious why you think any series with Houston would be a walk in the park.

  30. 26. Um, maybe because Houston has the best center on the planet and is one of the best defensive teams in the league? They have two great perimeter defenders in Artest and Battier. They have a good bench that can score.

    The Lakers should win the series, but don’t think this is some pushover. And I’ll get out in front of this one early: Just because the Lakers swept the Nuggets last year doesn’t mean everything is the same and they should do it again this year.

  31. 29

    Well the Lakers did win the season series 4-0… ;)

  32. Houston has no back up center, the size of the Lakers should be too much over a 7 game series. Yao is already wearing down in the Blazer series, after 6 or 7 games even more so. His best game was game 1 (in the first half) against Portland. Since then he has been not so spectacular.

  33. It would take a lot to win 8 straight games against Houston over the course of a season. I think they get one just like Utah got one.

    I can’t believe people are freaking out about the Utah series, I would argue that Utah is one of the best 8-seeds in recent playoff memory. They had Boozer back at almost 100%, Derron Williams who is every bit as scary as Chris Paul (in my opinion), one of the best backup PF in the league w/ Milsap, a great rebounder/shooter w/ Okur (granted he was injured, and I really commend his effort out there last night, dude looked like he could barely move), Korver, Brewer, Miles, and one of the best coaches in the league. This wasn’t Detroit Pistons in 2009, we weren’t going to absolutely steam roll the Jazz.

    I’m glad the Lakers had this challenge to open up the playoffs, I think we’ll see a more focused group from here on out, a group ready for physical play, great point guard play, and excellent low post threats.

    Regarding HOU/POR, I think it’s done tonight. Portland is too young and the veterans on the Rockets know how important it will be to finish them now.

  34. inwit,
    Portland started double teaming Yao – that’s why his numbers went down. Of course that meant his wing men started being wide open for shots. Portland, a jump shooting team, was caught on the horns of a dilemma. This is a tough situation for a young team, in the playoffs for the 1st time.

  35. Three comments:

    1. It will be interesting to see how LO plays in the next round. He was absolutely brilliant against Utah, aggressive, finding teammates, finishing, high energy, etc., but he ALWAYS eats up the Jazz so lots of past history there. Not as clear with Portland and Houston (I don’t know, not making an assertion) so I wondering if this will carryover to next series or not. Obviously, hope he does because when he is on…

    2. The most curious thing about Bynum right now is that very basic things are not working for him at the moment; namely, his hands. He is a great catcher/finisher, but in this series, so many times he fumbled a pass, got ball knocked loose, which obviously is somewhat a credit to Utah, as that’s what they do, but was also a bit of a head scratcher. Hoping that that’s purely mental, a function of being taken out of his game, starting lineup and losing major minutes, as he should get ample burn in next series.

    3. The losing of big leads goes back to Kareem/Magic, Kobe/Shaq, and as others noted, last years playoffs. I am not suggesting that this is a “feature” just that it is less a product of this team’s identity and more something in Laker culture that relies too much on talent, periods of focused intensity/domination and less on playing a complete game, start to finish. Downside, of course, is that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

    Either way, smoking the bubble gum cigar right now, as despite the quibbles, we got the job done 4-1.

  36. @30

    Attaching all caveats about the Lakers and Nuggets actually getting there, I agree with Kurt: any Laker fan that takes a team with Chauncey Billups at the point lightly must have have been born some time after 2004. I will say that if that is the matchup, the Lakers will not sweep. i think it will take 6 or even 7.

    As I said, I also think Portland will be a tough close-out for Houston.

  37. Mark Sigal,
    Good point about relying on talent.

    One other thing all the younger bloggers need to think about. The Lakers, all the way back to the 60′s, have been offensive teams that could play good defense. When they had tried to be defensive teams first, even when they had Kareem, they weren’t very successful. What this means is that the Lakers look first to score, then to stop the other guy; meaning that there will be times when they are not stopping the other guy as well as other teams. We should look at pace and rebounds rather than stops.

    One corollary to this approach is that the Lakers have always been a very watchable team and they have always drawn well on the road. I would suggest this is a real component of their success.

    I also question the “defense wins championships” mantra. You do have to play defense, but you can’t win consistently at the top with only defense – the Detroit Pistons come to mind.

  38. I was soo tired last night watching the game that I was struggling to stay awake and ended up falling asleep with 2 or 3 minutes left in the game.

    I woke up with a grin as I thought I had dream that the Nuggets had beaten the Hornets by like 50 points. I even chuckled to myself as I took a shower thinking how ridiculous this would be if true.

  39. Ok, fine, I’ll give HOU a game — but honestly, does it get any easier for a 2nd round playoff opponent? I’d be more scared to play the Suns .

  40. Craig W. – yes, you are right, Portland is sandwitching Yao on the low post, but Yao does not appear very active to me. Sometimes they are just fronting him and he just stands there and isn’t very active. Of course, he is not very mobile to start with. But if you remember Shaq in his heyday, the ball would be reversed to the other side and he would get there before the defense to allow a good entry pass.

    But I could be wrong.

  41. I like our matchup against Houston better, mainly because the ability of Pau and LO to get out and run makes the Yao have to chase them, which makes Yao – who has always had stamina issues – tire out even faster than normal. We’ve seen this happen just about every time we play them. Yao starts out like gangbusters, hitting his first 5 or 10 shots and the games are close. But in the 2nd half he runs out of gas, and we pull away.

  42. inwit,
    Yao is good, but he is really no Shaq. Shaq had really amazing footwork – that’s why I am so disappointed he was so lazy with his talent.

  43. “I think some Lakers fans will not be happy unless the Lakers in two Larry O’Brien trophies a year.”

    “Kurt – or, they won’t be happy unless they utterly and wrongly dismiss the opposition at every turn.”

    What was that? I don’t even know what those mean. A disagreement is fine, but why direct issues with other Laker fans at my comment?

    Sometimes the definition of good is 48 wins, but what if you end your season 1 – 21 against winning teams on the road? Or going 7 and 9 on your way into the playoffs? That’s the definition of “backing in”. Does 48 wins still mean anything then? I don’t think so, especially when you thought you were a conf Finals team at the start of the year.

    Boozer has stunk it up for the last 2 postseasons. 2 series last year, 1 this year. He hasn’t helped his team, he needs a heart transplant. Pay Milsap and get rid of the dead weight. AK-47 has been shooting blanks for 4 seasons. His mental state is done and the HOF coach is a part of that. And why didn’t Sloan have Price 1st off the bench this year instead of Brevin? Apparently the guy is a stud. They weren’t good this year. I don’t see how that’s debatable now, why our fans are defending Laker playoff fodder, or why I’ve made this long comment about Utah.

    It’s no secret we have an incredibly easy path to the Finals. It seems like some of us need to overhype the competition to make the Lakers look better. I don’t think that’s necessary.

  44. Yeah, he is no Shaq, but other than having Scola or Landry take 20 perimeter jumpers, Yap moving around the court is the only way to beat that defense. Throwing the ball over the top of the fronting defender doesn’t work well, because if it is not a perfect pass, Yao doesn’t have the mobility to chase the ball down.

  45. Here’s an amazing stat: Kobe is only 74 points away from catching Larry Bird for 6th on the all-time career playoff scoring list! Lakers up, Celtics down…

  46. Houston is a better team now mainly because of Yao. I’ve watched each game of this series and the most impressive thing for me is Yao’s new-found stamina. There was a sequence in the last game when Yao was the fastest guy on the floor, beating Aldridge (who is quick) down the floor. And this in the fourth quarter.

    One of the biggest weakness of the Rockets had been Yao’s lack of stamina; he would be hunched over gasping for breath by the end of the 1st quarter and would be on empty in the 3rd. Now he seems fit at the end of games.

    This has not necessarily been evident offense (where Portland has doubled him to reduce his touches) but on defense. Increased activity + 7’6″ height has been a big problem for Portland resulting in a lot of J’s

    Unfortunately for Portland neither Pryzbilla or Oden is making Yao work on defense, thus keeping him out of foul trouble. Conversely, Pau has been very effective on both accounts.

    Bynum has not been. He is still over-awed against Yao, Shaq, and Howard. Clearly mental – I suspect Phil will have a quick hook if Bynum doesn’t grow up.

  47. The problem is that with Mutumbo out it is harder to rest Yao, because their front line subs have little length. Portland isn’t suited to take advantage of it, but Bynum against Houston’s second team?

    Against the Lakers Yao would need to play 45 minutes a game.

  48. I’m sorry, but this losing last night’s lead didn’t concern me at all.

    Both coaches just about decided the game was over. Jerry Sloan put in Ronnie Price for the first time in the series, and pretty much decided the season was over for Deron and Boozer.

    Then, Kobe decided to force his way to the 30 point mark and the team was lazy in auto pilot mode. It was *not* a real game situation. Blame Phil for relaxing on substitution, or blame Kobe for gunning for 30 (then he blames the 2nd Unit….funny), but it was not your typical blowing of a lead like Game 3.

    The fact is we were up at least 13 in every game in this series. Do people prefer 5 close games? Everyone agrees that the NBA is a game of runs, but we’re always ready to say this team has no killer instinct when the other team makes their run. What about when we opened the lead up? How about when we erase leads? The Lakers dominated this series. Credit the Jazz for not completely folding like the Hornets.

  49. @43 “It’s no secret we have an incredibly easy path to the Finals. It seems like some of us need to overhype the competition to make the Lakers look better. I don’t think that’s necessary.”

    I would disagree with this comment; with all due respect that’s the thing people were saying before we faced Boston last year in the Finals & look what happened then, people got caught up with what we did coming into the Playoffs and what we did in the Playoffs and assumed we would coast & beat the Celtics due to their struggles last year.

    Saying Boozer “stunk it up” in this series in my opinion is completely wrong. He was the reason they won game 3, period. All of his rebounds gave Utah 2nd chance points and eliminated us from getting 2nd looks on offense and comparing him this series compared to last years is uncomparable if you compare his stats this year vs. last. As for Price vs. Brevin, Brevin has a lot more experience and most times experience can win over energy & talent. Just look at what PJ Brown did for the C’s last year; that is why I believe Sloan opted to use Brevin 1st.

    As for us “blowing leads” this is the NBA, a game of runs and if I recall correctly when we defeated Cleveland twice this year, we held onto those leads, same when we faced Boston on Dec. 25th. I believe Phil knows that in order to eliminate this he has to leave Kobe/Pau/Odom in the game until basically the final two minutes of the game, I know that doesn’t encourage trust in the bench, but now’s not the time to hold the bench’s hand & let them feel games out, we can’t afford that.

  50. PeanutButterSpread April 28, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Am I the only one that thinks the Hornets 50 point loss wasn’t all Byron Scott’s faults?

    I kinda think the GM did a poor job of recruiting the players they needed to compliment CP3′s skills.

  51. Clutch, I think you and I fundamentally disagree on how good the other teams in the West are.

  52. I like our chances against Houston much better than against Portland. I don’t think it will be a sweep. It’ll go at least 5, possibly 6 if Ron Ron and Battier can lock Kobe down and force him to have a couple of bad games or if Kobe and Artest self-destruct going into hero mode. Hopefully our other guys can step up in that case and we can keep it to 5 games.

    I think the difference between Portland playing the Rockets in terms of Yao’s stamina is that Portland doesn’t get out and run as much as we do. The Lakers type of game tire Yao more than I think Portland’s style of play.

    Also if I remember correctly there was a game against the Rockets where we had Mbenga mbanging with Yao and that really tired him out. If our bigs get into foul trouble against Yao I think it’ll be a much better matchup for us to have Mbenga mbanging with Yao than to have Mbenga mbanging against Portland’s bigs who are a little faster and more athletic.

    One thing I’ve seen from Phil so far in the games leading into the Playoffs and in the first round that I like is that he is willing to go with players who are effective in the situation and who work hard when they are on the court (hence benching Bynum and Farmar), so I wouldn’t put it past him to put Mbenga in if he thinks it’ll help with Yao. Though of course I highly doubt we’ll see Mbenga in there, but then again we did see Powell last night.

    If we can effectively shut Yao down and/or adjust to his game in the 2nd half like we did in our last 4 against them, we will win. Yao’s the big motor that gets their offense going. If we disable it, the machine breaks down.

  53. I’m still in shock over the Hornets loss last night. People should bet the house on them to be blasted in Game 5; you simply don’t rebound after a beatdown like that.

    And as much as I hate to agree with someone like Bill Simmons, I think he’s right in saying that that team has quit on Byron. As was the case in New Jersey, his Pat Riley Jr. act may have worn thin. You can’t browbeat today’s players with the brutal practices he learned while playing for Riley back in the day. They’ll rebel, and I honestly think Byron will be gone this off-season.

    Odom has been phenomenal lately. Let’s hope he keeps playing with the recent, “I’ll show you” edge. I think he liked sticking it to tough guy Harpring in this series; the guy everyone calls soft basically jammed it down the throat of the NBA’s resident football hero. Somehow, however, I’m sure we’ll still hear talk of Odom being “soft” again from those who didn’t pay attention to what he just did to the Jazz.

    I’m a bit worried about Bynum. Outside of his 5-5 first quarter he was seldom in good position to make plays or rebound against Utah, which led to poor shooting, foul trouble and turnovers. He doesn’t belong at the elbow or setting screens above the free throw line, yet he seemed to settle for those spaces on the floor too often.

    I see no good reason why a healthy AB can’t set up on the low box, especially against a smaller Utah team. And that lack of a good reason for his failure to get down low that makes me wonder what prevented him for posting up more. Hopefully he’s not slowed by the knee again.

    Thoughts, anyone?

  54. Byron Scott has now had 2 teams quit on him.

    He may be a good coach, but he somehow seems to alienate his teams. Why? My opinion is that he learned his lessons at Pat Riley’s knee. Pat wore out his welcome with the Lakers and the players essentially had him fired.

    Scott brought his teams to a winning level and then his players quit on him. Sounds like Scott needs to rethink his controlling way of coaching.

  55. SO CAN ANYONE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE TELL ME WHO THE HELL THIS GUY IS THAT IS ALWAYS BEHIND THE TNT CREW AT ALL LAKER HOMEGAMES???????

    http://www.helloooooo.com/2009/04/28/who-me-ya-you/

  56. Let me make two quick points.

    1)Utah is a strong team, just not as strong as ours. They ruined their good season by playing poorly down the stretch and falling to the 8th seed and a matchup with the Lakers. If the West playoffs has shown me anything, it’s that matchups are the most important element to series success. Dallas has played the Spurs tough for several seasons now. Houston is a team that gives the Blazers fits. New Orleans is a good team, but if they play a team with a strong (physically) PG that can limit Paul, they will struggle. And we already know that Utah is no match for us. If the seedings had been different, we may have been pushed more and other teams may have/would have advanced had they had a different opponent. I say all this because to say that any team that wins as much as needed in order to make the West playoffs is a bad team is simply an overexaggeration. None of these teams are bad. Not Utah, not Portland, and not New Orleans. They are just facing teams that give them real problems.

    2). As for losing leads, it’s an issue. It may not be a fatal flaw, but if we face a team with mentally strong players as well as talent at the right positions, it can lead to multiple losses rather than pulling out close wins (think Boston or Cleveland or -with how they’re playing now- Denver). The fact is that Utah did not have enough outside of Williams and Boozer to take full advantage our lapses and even Boozer is more of a front running player than a mentally tough/pull you from the depths type of player. Clutch equates this to having no heart, and while I think that’s going a little too far, to me it does equate to not being the toughest player mentally and that’s something that Williams will be haunted by over the summer while Boozer is wondering who will pay him big. Anyways, Portland and/or Houston will be a real test for us. I’ll have more thoughts when our opponent is decided, but I already know that we’ll need to be prepared to play to the advantages that we have against either team.

  57. PeanutButterSpread April 28, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    wondahbap –

    I don’t know which fourth quarter you saw, but I didn’t see Kobe gunning for 30 at all.

    That lead dwindled because Kobe was passing to Drew and Drew would then be isolated on offense and he’d miss. If he wasn’t missing, then it was the rest of them just not hustling after rebounds.

    I saw a very passive Kobe during that lead dwindling. He was trying to get Drew into the offensive groove.

    Starting from the 9:19 mark when Ronnie Price scores on a layup, the lead starts dwindling:

    70-89 Andrew Bynum misses 16-foot jumper
    70-89 Andrew Bynum offensive rebound
    70-91 Shannon Brown makes two point shot

    Kyle Korver makes 24-foot three point jumper (Ronnie Price assists)

    73-91 Mehmet Okur blocks Kobe Bryant’s 4-foot jumper
    73-91 Andrew Bynum offensive rebound
    Mehmet Okur shooting foul (Andrew Bynum draws the foul)
    73-92 Andrew Bynum makes free throw 1 of 2
    73-93 Andrew Bynum makes free throw 2 of 2

    73-93 Andrew Bynum shooting foul (Paul Millsap draws the foul)
    Paul Millsap misses free throw 1 of 2
    Paul Millsap makes free throw 2 of 2
    Utah offensive rebound

    74-93 Andrew Bynum misses 7-foot jumper
    Kyle Korver defensive rebound
    Paul Millsap makes 4-foot hook shot

    76-93 Sasha Vujacic misses 26-foot three point jumper
    Ronnie Brewer defensive rebound
    Paul Millsap makes 5-foot jumper (Ronnie Price assists)

    78-93 Shannon Brown turnover
    Ronnie Price misses 20-foot jumper
    Utah offensive rebound
    Paul Millsap misses 18-foot jumper
    Kyle Korver offensive rebound
    Paul Millsap makes layup (Kyle Korver assists)

    80-93 Kobe Bryant lost ball (Ronnie Brewer steals)
    80-93 Sasha Vujacic personal foul (Kyle Korver draws the foul)
    80-93 Lamar Odom enters the game for Josh Powell
    80-93 Trevor Ariza enters the game for Kobe Bryant
    80-93 Pau Gasol enters the game for Andrew Bynum

    By that point it was 6:16, Kobe goes out, the lead goes from 21 to 16. The rest of the starters come back in and were most likely really rusty. And had a bit of a difficulty stemming the bleeding.

    And the bleeding continued after the timeout:

    82-93 Pau Gasol misses 16-foot jumper
    Ronnie Brewer defensive rebound
    Paul Millsap makes layup (Kyle Korver assists)

    84-93 Sasha Vujacic lost ball (Ronnie Price steals)
    84-93 Sasha Vujacic personal foul (Ronnie Price draws the foul)
    84-93 Kobe Bryant enters the game for Sasha Vujacic
    84-93 Derek Fisher enters the game for Shannon Brown

    Kyle Korver misses 23-foot three point jumper
    Ronnie Brewer offensive rebound
    Ronnie Brewer makes slam dunk

    86-95 Kobe Bryant makes 15-foot two point shot

    Ronnie Price misses 26-foot three point jumper
    Ronnie Brewer offensive rebound
    Kyle Korver makes 24-foot three point jumper (Ronnie Price assists)

    89-95 Trevor Ariza misses 26-foot three point jumper
    Mehmet Okur defensive rebound
    Utah full timeout

    The only blame I can give Kobe is not pushing the bench for being energetic enough.

    I mean, from all that, I saw a lack of defensive effort, too much iso plays for Drew, 3-point trigger happy, and getting outhustled and outrebounded by Kyle Korver! KYLE KORVER!

  58. I can see Houston (if they win the series) grinding it out with the Lakers. They might not push the series to 7, but I bet each game would be decided in the final minute or so.

    Denver is a team that I think could push us further, but let’s see how the 2nd round play out first.

  59. clutch,

    I would agree with you that the Jazz weren’t elite level good. I believe they were *only* as good as they were because of the great homecourt advantage they have (read: generous officiating).

    I think their record on the road was indicative of the type of team they really are, as well as their record down the stretch. It’s no fluke that we had double digit leads in every game of the series. A series that shoulda coulda woulda been a sweep. If the Lakers play to their capabilities, then yes, it should be an easy trip to the Finals. But…

    Where I will disagree with you is Boozer had a good series, except for last night. He sure did his best to make himself relevant in the off season. Although the Jazz weren’t elite, they are not a team to be taken lightly either. The same thing could be said of the team in the West.

    As for Sloan. He just looks tired. It was amusing seeing his antics in the 4th. Really Jerry. The series is over and you just now wake up?

  60. And to piggyback on what Magic said in his post and what Bill Bridges said in his:

    Yao is a different player when he can play long minutes. His game is a finnesse game, but from a huge, huge man. Against teams that push pace and force Yao to change ends multiple times on consecutive possessions, he will tire. Also, teams that go at him and make him defend (and do it from multiple spots on the floor) will wear him down. The fact is, that Portland does neither. Joel/Oden are not threats on offense and even when they run P&R with those guys at Yao, he doesn’t have to worry about anything but the ball handler and then recovering to the paint to rebound. He can essentially ignore the roll man. Also, Portland plays at the slowest pace in the league. They are a walk it up team and will try to execute in the half court. They are very efficient, but that’s because at the end of any play they can go to Roy to create a shot for himself or one of their many shooters. Roy is one of the best players in the league at doing this, so it’s no coincidence that they are an offensive juggernaut. However, this style plays right into what Houston excells at defensively and that’s why the Blazers have a hard time against the Rockets. In boxing it’s always said that styles make fights…well in the case of the Hou/Port series they Blazers are playing a style that plays right into the hands of the Rockets strengths.

  61. PeanutButter,

    I also saw a Kobe dribbling the ball too much. Trying to cross up Kirilenko or whoever, and take a few shots that could have been better. I counted no more than twice he passed to Bynum. He was trying to get to 30 before the 5:59 timeout. I’ve watched every Laker game this year, and I know when Kobe wants to score. He was not moving the ball well. He wanted 30 before PJ took him out for good. Unfortunately….things didn’t turn out as they should have.

    Trust me, I’m as big a Kobe supporter as there is, but his play led to the 2nd Unit getting lackadaisical.

    The games even on NBA tv right now.

  62. The other teams in the west; nevertheless, they will prepare us better than last year’s run. In 2008, we played the Nuggets, Jazz, and Spurs. The Nuggets played non-existent D and undisciplined offense; you don’t grow from that. The Jazz presented some physicality (good prep.), a top tier scoring/distributing PG (Rondo doesn’t compare), and a lethal pick & roll (very different than the Pierce/Rondo switch or the Pierce/Garnett p&r). The Spurs suffered from long offensive lapses all year and that’s why we had two big comeback wins against them in the conference finals. Boston wouldn’t dare sleepwalking like that. Once again, no prep for the big dance.

    This year’s opponents should gear us up for the Finals. The Jazz offered 1) pack the lane D with a strong 1-on-1 defender on Kobe and 2) strong doubles on Kobe and Pau; the Cavs/Celtics will do the same things against us. If you don’t believe the Jazz’s D improved in some aspects, just look at the FT disparity. Last year was a FT parade for the Lakers. The Rockets are an elite defensive team with similar defensive schemes (i.e. pack the lane); additionally, they rebound well and they have a scoring threat at the 3. The Nuggets won’t bail you out with undisciplined offense anymore. This year, you have to be tough in the paint against their aggressive bigs and tight on your rotations. And…Mr. Anthony is another scoring threat at the 3. They might be the closest match to the Cavs in terms of style of play, except that the ball handling distribution between the PG/SF is skewed toward the SF for the Cavs.

    All in all, we may not sweep everyone and we may not encounter a sequence of game 7s, but if the team pays attention, they’ll pick up valuable experience for the Finals.

  63. Correction: The other teams in the west may not be powerhouses; nevertheless, …

  64. PeanutButterSpread April 28, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Wondahap -

    I wasn’t questioning whether you were a Kobe supporter or not.

    I just felt the blame for that 4th quarter lead can’t solely be pinned on Kobe.

    Phil, Kobe, Sasha, Shannon, Drew, Josh all deserved blame for it.

    Phil – for putting so many bench players in, I’m sorry, it’s an elimination game, keep at least two/three starters in, even if you have a 22 point lead. There is no garbage time in the playoffs. It was a huge mistake to put Josh in with Drew. He should have put LO or Pau in. Not to knock on Josh, but he’s not great at creating his own offense where as LO/Pau are great passers and would have made life easier on Drew.

    Kobe – for being too lackadaisical on defense, offense, etc. He was taking a back seat to the bench when he should have led them.

    Sasha and Shannon – crappy defense, trigger happy shooting, turnovers, standing around watching too much, not putting a body on Korver or Price.

    Josh/Drew – for not keeping Brewer and Millsap off the boards. They were just a step slow on rebounding and on offense.

  65. Peanutbutter,

    I only said that to drive home the point that I didn’t think this solely to bash Kobe (because a lot of people do).

    “Kobe – for being too lackadaisical on defense, offense, etc. He was taking a back seat to the bench when he should have led them.”

    You just agreed with me, but I happen to think he wanted to get to 30 before coming out for good.

    PJ’s blame is obvious as well.

    I cna’t blame the bench, when they take their cues from Kobe when on the floor. Both coaches checked out.

  66. http://www.paushirt.com/

    Awesome shirt. In for one, personally

  67. Clutch – I didn’t mean to single you out specifically, but I’ve been seeing a general level of overconfidence in some of the comments here that I disagree with. Perhaps we’re guilty of overly basking in the afterglow of a series victory, but I think it’s out of touch with reality to dismiss the Jazz as a crappy team, as well as to predict that we will have no trouble in future rounds. Rather, like Darius says, every team in the playoffs is good in its own right – they just run into teams that are poor matchups.

    If you agree with me, our tendency to lose leads becomes less a cause for alarm and more a point for improvement, since every team is more than capable of going on a nice run against us. I guess you could say that it becomes more what they are doing right than what we are doing wrong.

  68. PeanutButterSpread April 28, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Is that Paris Hilton wearing one of those Pau shirts?! Strange.

    Wondahap -

    I guess we can agree to disagree about Kobe gunning for 30. But we can agree that the lead dwindling in Game 5 wasn’t as large of a concern as in Game 1 and Game 2 and that Phil really shouldn’t have put in the garbage time bench and that the bench + Kobe was sleepwalking through that period.

  69. The Nuggets seem impressive this year, and I mean on the defensive end. Nene seems like one of the better big men defenders in the game now, defending the PnR and protecting the paint. Kenyon Martin was always a strong individual defender, but he seems to be communicating a lot better on his help defense.

    Is this all really the professional effect of Billups? I didn’t really watch the Nuggets before the trade, so I don’t know if Nene was playing this way beforehand. Regardless, they’re playing some impressive basketball (albeit against an awful Hornets team).

  70. One thing that people are forgetting about matching up against Houston is that Yao has had very little foul trouble in this series against Portland. Portland is an outside-in team; they break you down on the perimeter and free up their shooters using down and cross screens. To counter this, Yao pretty much played free safety on defense, covering Przybilla and Oden but also straying from them to shade Roy on penetration.

    In a potential series with us, Yao will not have such an easy time. Yao will be holding up 250 pounds of Spaniard and 285 pounds of Bynum all day, with a possible cameo by 255 pounds from the Congo. In all three cases, I don’t like Yao’s chances of holding up, both in terms of fouls and energy.

    That being said, I believe our best way to break down Yao is to force him into PNR’s on the perimeter. I doesn’t really matter if we actually get anything out of the PNR; making Yao move his feet is reward enough. A solid combination of PNR on the perimeter and Andrew Bynum’s pounding will take its toll on the big Chinese man.

    I expect us to have a huge advantage in offensive rebounds and points in the paint. As good as Yao is, he won’t be able to push Bynum around and we won’t let him push Gasol around. There is a good chance we will give up a lot of corner threes, but I can’t see that outweighing the huge number of offensive rebounds that our front line should get against Landry, Scola, and Hayes.

  71. “Andrew is going to contribute, he’s going to help us, he’s going to dominate games,” Odom said. “We just have to get him back into it … pushing him emotionally and physically as well, get him back to that high level.”

    Odom is a fantastic teammate, plain and simple.

    This complacency that we have is definitely an issue, although as Darius says it may not be a fatal flaw (although it very well could be, as shown in the Finals last year). I think very simply it is not due to a mental relaxation, because any player with common sense would have learned to keep that edge after so many episodes of this nonsense. It has to do with our bench play, and the difference in their attitudes when they come into a close game vs when they enter a blowout.

    Against Utah, Phil was willing to try to get them to learn. And he’ll probably do the same for the next couple series. But in the Finals, I hope (and expect) Phil goes for the jugular in a similar situation, keeping the starters in at the beginning of the fourth and then resting them the final 4-5 minutes of the game.

    One of the assistant coaches needs to give Sasha a tape showing him exactly which shots he’s effective shooting, and which he’s not. His shot selection is questionable at this point. Also it seems to me that our bench is running less, and Sasha is most effective shooting the 3 in transition. Regardless he’s one of our most important players and I hope to see his PT continue to increase.

  72. Man, why is an elimination game on NBA TV instead of regular television. Come on, NBA. You’re better than that.

  73. PBS & Wondahbap

    Kobe was gunning for thirty before Phil took him out…that’s what was happening, unfortunately. This lead to the rest of the team following suit and not playing defense and going for their own offense.

    Bynum’s D on Millsap was so disinterested, he may as well have not been on the court.

    All that being said, if Sasha (who was 2 out of 10 for the game) makes the WIDE FREAKING OPEN three pointer when the score was 93 to 76, the game is over. The gap gets pushed back to 20 with about 7 minutes left, the Lakers get an adrenalaine surge, and they put the game away with ease.

    Sasha’s shooting was so bad last night that my 3 year old daughter could have replaced him on the court and knocked down more open shots.

  74. 72. You know what that means. That Portland is going to win tonight and the series is not going to end tonight.

  75. Snoop,
    Once again you make a great point. Sometimes Vujacic thinks he’s Ray Allen and takes the running instead of the set shot. He takes the shot when he’s slightly open as well as wide open.
    Ariza and Brown, who are worse shooters, shoot better because they pass up on those borderline shots and only take shots from designated spots that they’ve proven effective. Vujacic would be a lot better off for us adding that patience to his game.

  76. Brouhaha above^^^

    Kurt – Yea, that seems to be the case, but at least we’re both on the same side. If I was around here last year, I could’ve posted all day about how the Jazz & Spurs could beat us. I just don’t see it this year.

    goat – It’s cool. I know what you were getting at. My thing is I’m not overconfident at all. We’re just way better than our potential western comp this year. And understand, I mean the western conference. Cleveland scares the crap outta me. I don’t even want to think about it.

    Everyone who posted – I wasn’t insinuating the Jazz were a “bad” team and I don’t think I said that. I said they weren’t good, as in elite, dangerous, etc. (I personally like mediocre) I think we all agree on that point, but I could be wrong. I think putting it all on matchups is giving them a little more credit than they deserve. They controlled their own destiny, they slipped to the 8 seed. The 2007 Dallas team can blame it solely on a bad matchup, maybe.

    My beef with Boozer is my own. That said, if you don’t remember, he was really terrible last post season against the Rockets and us. D-Will was carrying that dude every game. This year, it’s debatable how effective he was. You know where I stand. He said he was opting out his deal to test the market, now he’s backed off that statement. He wants to stay. I wonder why…

    And for the record D-Will is my favorite PG.

  77. The Jazz *are* good. Just not as good as they were earlier in the season, and not as good as we made them look in that series. The Lakers overall played like they weren’t paying close attention a third of the time. As a result, the Jazz looked like the 54-win team they were earlier in the season, not the 45-win team they were at the end (averaging out to 48, right? ).

    That said, the Lakers have a history of thinking they can just turn it on when they need to. Not the coaching staff, but the players, from 1 down to 12. Yes, I’m including Kobe in that. Not that he doesn’t want to win each game, but when he’s focused, he doesn’t let his impulses get away from him: his impulses to score, to play one-on-one, to be The Guy. When he’s focused, there is no one who can stop him from getting his team a score, whether it’s him putting the ball in the hole or someone else.

    That’s why I basically agree with wondahbap. Like him, I’m a pretty solid Kobe backer. I think those who hate on Kobe for his personality or his self-centeredness don’t know him nearly as well as they think they do, and see only those acts that confirm their bias. But there’s no question in my mind that at times his drive to impose his will, to drive a dagger into his opponent, can damage his team’s chances. It’s a fine line. That drive may well be what eventually carries the Lakers to a title, but in my opinion, he really has to harness it wisely. I don’t think he can let it roam free in the playoffs, thinking he can get it back on track whenever.

  78. I don’t even get the game in Hi Def tonight, instead 62 inches of blur.

  79. 69.,

    I believe the big difference this year starts at billups. Last night, in the nuggets game there was a sequence where the nuggets had 3 straight bad possessions, allowing the hornets to reduce the lead to under 20, due to melo’s carelessness and turnovers. Billups gets up off the bench, and instantly we get crisp passing and a birdman emphatic dunk. That’s the difference this year.

  80. *Weighted* average. There was a “grin” (<g>) in there that got deleted because the parser thought it was HTML. Bleah.

  81. clutch (76): Boozer is what he is: He’s a definite presence on the low block, but he is, for the NBA, a poor finisher. How many times does he blow a lay-up because someone plays defense on him? If he can’t rise up for a dunk, I give him 3-1 odds (against) that he’ll miss the lay-up.

  82. First off, I personally want to see Houston and not Portland. The Laker struggles in Portland are only one reason for that. The other reason is that I remember hearing Jeff Van Gundy say that he thought the Lakers were going to have trouble with the Rockets in the playoffs multiple times over the course of the season. I have held a grudge.

    Second, I am watching this Bulls/Celtics game and am loving how crazy it is when Gordon, Rose, and Heinrich are all on the court at the same time. It’s like a three headed hydra of point/two guard combo-guys. They are actually pretty crazily effective. Can you imagine Fish, Farmar, and Shannon Brown on the court at the same time? Yikes! (Although, in fairness, you really should swap out Sasha’s name with one of those three guys)

  83. I don’t think Vujacic’s shot selection was all that bad in Game 5. He took more shots than normal because he had the ball more often than he has in recent weeks. 2-10 looks bad on the surface, but he had some good, open looks, many of which seemed to rim out.

    With Luke out, Sasha’s going to get more burn. I’m not worried that he’ll be a detriment to the Lakers’ chances.

  84. @ 83. Chris J – I too am not terribly worried about that second unit considering it’s likely that Lamar will be getting much burn with them from here out. He brings a steady hand to the group, which is pretty much what Luke does when he’s at his best, anyway.

  85. In a movie about the Boston Celtics I would cast Michael Rapaport to play Brian Scalabrene

  86. Chicago up eleven after Brad Miller throws the most beautiful skip pass I’ve ever seen to Noah for the layup. Boston really can’t deal with Chicago’s athleticism.

  87. how about them bulls? injured gordon, hinrich steps up and they are closer to winning another “upset” though i think both teams are so-well matched, and boston looks so beatable without kg.

  88. Wow. Boston’s blog might shut down after that call. Allen fouls out on a dubious ‘double-foul’ with Brad Miller.

  89. Does anybody else hear that intense crying sound….?

    Oops, left Celticsblog up. Guess they just saw RayRay foul out.

  90. Vinny Del Negro might be the worst coach in the NBA. It’s like if you gave Isiah Thomas a playoff team. That being said, I would have to guess that Chicago is gonna close this out now that Jesus has fouled out.

  91. ray allen fouls out? uh-oh

  92. Nick,

    Hear hear. It amazes me how badly he can screw up this team with all the talent they have. They’re winning in spite of him rather than anything he’s done this year.

  93. another clutch basket. another bos-chi classic in the making?

  94. For all the good things we say about Rose, we have to remember that he’s an awful defender. Hinrich needs to really mentor him during the offseason (Lindsey Hunter if Hinrich is traded).

  95. To be fair to VDN, he had no coaching experience of any kind prior to this season.

  96. chicago is playing like they want to end the series right here and now. can’t get complacent.

  97. Joel,

    True, but he has Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff on his bench to supposedly give him some “veteran” experience. Not a whole lot of it has been shown throughout the year.

  98. This Bulls-Celtics series has been classic. I love watching close playoff games where I have no vested interest (really) in either team winning.

  99. And on that note, VDN waits until Rose walks across halfcourt with 17 seconds left on the clock and a minute left in the game to call timeout. Genius.

  100. BCR, your point about Rose was pretty well illustrated right there. He makes drives, kicks, gets a rebound, and eventually slashes for a great bucket. Then he immediately lets Rondo scorch him to pull the Celtics within two.

  101. Ugh, Steph getting crunch minutes. A scary thought.

  102. Yikes, looked like a no call to me.

  103. 96

    Agreed, not sure why they had to blow the whistle on that play. If anything Rose initiated all the contact.

  104. Marbury should have taken that shot that play was made for him.

    AND BEN GORDON IS A [expletitive deleted] ASSASSIN!

  105. LOL, Ben Gordon. All I can do is laugh and shake my head.

  106. Doug Collins: What? What is he doing?

    (Gordon wets it)

    Harlan & Collins: Ooooohhhhhhhh!

    Also, that was pretty poised by Starbury to pass inside for a better shot instead of popping that open three. Too bad his good decision making didn’t get rewarded…

  107. Ben Gordon showing Marbury whose cajones are bigger…

  108. Yikes. Pierce is kind of a monster. Well, Vinny is gonna have the chance to prove me wrong here. Draw something up and make sure you get the last shot Bulls. I would give it to Gordon or Salmons…

  109. And then somehow, Rose ends up on Pierce. Why is Rose even on the floor in that situation?

  110. overtime again!

  111. VDN, 10.5 to go, who are you gonna go to?

  112. OT again, this series is freakin’ awesome!

  113. Wow, fourth overtime in the series. How different will it be with no Allen to make miracle shots for Boston?

  114. Bulls still have more legs than the C’s at present. I favor them in the OT. Also, Jesus has already fouled out, so it’s gotta be all Pierce and Rondo.

    Unrelated: my feed is going in and out, that happening to any other LA viewers?

  115. 113

    Actually it’s the third OT game in the series, Harlan was incorrect.

  116. Third OT game, fourth OT. My feed is gone and might not be coming back. Damn you Time-Warner.

  117. Unless he counted double overtime as 2 separate overtimes

  118. Joel,

    I’m guessing he’s counting the double-overtime as two overtimes.

  119. with this arrangement, bulls should attack and refrain from taking ill-advised jumpers unless open.

  120. Yeah you guys must be right, I was wondering why he said that.

    If the Celtics lose this series, Marbury is a certified playoff jinx just like T-Mac.

  121. It’s painful to watch Rose defending on the replays. He literally just dies whenever he hits a screen.

    And Rajon Rondo is ridiculous.

  122. Rondo enjoys murdering the Chicago defense in his free-time. It’s horrifying.

  123. Ben Gordon is just ridiculous.

  124. celtics first to 100

  125. This game is ridiculous.

  126. but bulls first to 101. ridiculous!

  127. The Bulls are the dumbest team in basketball.

  128. Pierce has been murder in the clutch… again.

  129. if bulls lsoe, they have their defense to blame

  130. Sometimes Pierce is just automatic with that little step-back. It’s almost unfair.

    Get a good look for Gordon. He has been slaying the Celtics in clutch moments.

  131. How do you let Pierce dribble to his favorite spot at the top of the key when you have two non-shooters on the floor in Allen and Marbury? Wow.

  132. I’m rooting for triple overtime.

  133. I’m not complaining about all the boneheaded mistakes, they just add to the drama!

    Case in point, that painfully stupid foul by Tony Allen.

  134. Gordon is just magic. He either makes a ridiculous shot or get bailed out by a horrifically dumb foul like the one Allen just made.

  135. The Mavs are really laying it on the Spurs in the first quarter.

  136. Tony Allen must hate having an NBA contract.

  137. lost connection now

    what’s the bulls timeout situation?

  138. Pierce has been money from there.

  139. Ben Gordon, I’m waiting for the miracle shot.

  140. I don’t even have words for that. Pierce has just been a monster in this OT.

  141. How many of those shots does Pierce have to hit before the Bulls try to get the ball out of his hands? 10? 20? Sheesh.

  142. The basketball player having the best day? Rashard Lewis. He has 20, Orlando is about to win, and a horse he owns got into the Kentucky Derby. Seriously.

  143. Joel,
    And from the same spot on the floor every time! Double the guy!

  144. I say get Benny-boy a look at the three. Just win it or lose it now.

  145. Boston, you let Brad Miller walk up the lane for a layup? Wow.

  146. Wow… wow. if that call stands and he makes the freethrows… wow!

  147. Are they going to put any time on the clock?

  148. Why do I have a feeling Miller will miss one of these?

  149. And Miller lost a tooth on the play. Way to take it for the team.

  150. They just put 2 seconds back on.

  151. well yahoo boxscore says it’s 106 406 final (ot)… so game over?

    but that also happened in fisher’s 0.4 shot

  152. And Miller misses it. Wah.

  153. That should be a flagrant foul. The refs will never call it, but Rondo went for Miller’s head.

  154. Noooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why??!?!?!?!!?

  155. 152

    Yahoo’s box score says a lot of things, many of them incorrect.

    As expected, Miller shortarms the first.

  156. This one is over. Miller was atrocious at the line. Can’t make it, can’t miss it right.

  157. Also, VDN has left his team with no timeouts, again, so even if they foul or steal, they have no time to bring it upcourt.

  158. I miss the second one on purpose if I’m Pierce.

  159. Crazy game.

  160. Chicago gave this one away. Not trapping Pierce hard with Tony Allen and Stephon Marbury on the floor, not making free throws, and leaving Rose on the floor in key situations to get burned. Great job VDN.

  161. I agree. Vinny burned ‘em again.

  162. Artest is so far playing less crazy than he did last game.

  163. the celtics just ripped out the hearts of bulls’ fans, mortal-kombat style.

  164. Rick Kamla has got to be the worst play-by-play announcer. I can’t stand him even in his regular hosting duties.

  165. Wow sucks for the Bulls. So close. Anyone other than Brad Miller and Stanley Roberts would have made it to the hoop in time and dunked that.

  166. On another note, I actually like P.J. Carlesimo as an announcer. He’s pretty insightful and stays on topic, unlike another another coach in the broadcast booth who can’t keep his inane comments to himself (*cough* JVG *cough*).

  167. Can’t believe Rondo gets rewarded for that hack job on Miller.

    I can’t blame Miller for missing those FTs, he looked like he wasn’t 100% there mentally

  168. 167

    And they pair him with Steve Smith. Yikes. My only consolation is that Reggie Miller isn’t involved in any way.

  169. And when they put Eric Snow with Rick and Steve. That is a snooze-a-thon.

  170. Houston is doing a great job of denying Yao the ball.

    What’s that? You say he actually plays for Houston???? Never mind then…

  171. Wow officiating conspiracy theorists are rejoicing over at BlazersEdge. I guess now that the Suns aren’t a playoff team anymore, some group of fans needed to fill in the “whiny” void left behind.

  172. 172 Joel: lmao +1

  173. How many times are you allowed to change your pivot foot on one move? That was LeBron-esque from Scola.

  174. 169 – Does PJ have anything remotely resembling a sense of humor, though?

  175. Man, for all the heat we’ve given Kidd over his shortcomings, he makes this Dallas team work. He finds open shooters, he’s a fantastic shooter with his feet set, and he can take smaller guards into the post and makes great passes to passing cutters or open shooters. And really, he guards two guards just fine. He’s not All-Defense as Hollinger somehow thinks he is, but he definitely is pretty solid.

  176. kidd has always been a really solid player. its just that most ppl think he wasnt worth trading devin harris for.

  177. The Dude Abides April 28, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    If you’re going to let Pierce go one-on-one with your defender so many possessions in a row, wouldn’t it be logical to have Tyrus Thomas be that defender? He’s quick enough to stay with Pierce on a drive, and long enough to bother him on his jump shot. VDN just let Salmons or Rose guard Pierce one-on-one every time. Or at least double the guy to get the ball out of his hands. Dumb.

  178. Nah Salmons is doing a much better job on Pierce. Thomas has the tools but not the fundamentals for individual defense. Pierce may be hobbled but Salmons has done a solid job overall. Although it is true he should have adjusted and played Pierce closer and look for help, Piece was getting the same open jumpshot over and over again. But I don’t think Thomas would have been an improvement.

  179. for some reason I think Houston is not going to finish portland in 6, maybe not even in 7.

    Maybe i’m just not used to seeing Houston advance… but they seriously don’t have anyone that can carry them in time of need.

    Which is precisely why I prefer them over portland…

  180. If Hou wins game 6 on thu, do we know when Game One of Round 2 would be played? I know Sunday at 12:30 or 3p would be the expected slots, but does anyone know for sure (verified by the NBA)?

    Thanks.

  181. I think the Lakers will be better off if the Houston finish it in Portland. We don’t want too much rest in our legs…

    Regarding Rondo’s foul. The amazing thing is that the Leprechauns still think the league is against them!!! This was disgusting and the main reason why it’s easy to “hate” NBA basketball sometimes. It was a flagrant and automatic suspension.

    Now, what the Bulls should have done was to say that Miller wasn’t capable to be on the floor… They could even bring a wheelchair to take him out and put a good FT shooter in for him. Game tied and we get a second overtime.

    And most of all, Brad Miller is no angel. I’m waiting to see what Miller will do to Rondo… A punch in the face while driving to the basket would be fun to watch. Yes, I enjoy seeing the Celtics get hurt/injured, as they have no antics whatsoever…

  182. It’s rare that I so strongly disagree with an X’s and O’s post cause usually they’re really enlightening. Nothing personal against Zephid, but I just think a number of things are wrong and the assessment of both teams, while generally agreed upon, led to most people picking the Blazers to come out on top in this series and even if I eat my words and they win the next two, most weren’t expecting them to be playing from behind the entire time.

    If anybody’s been watching the series, Adelman’s coaching has been brilliant, Portland’s D has been subpar (like its been all season), Chuck Hayes can actually defend Gasol and pretty much anyone else, and Houston’s defense has stifled the Blazers, who have one of the most efficient offenses in the league. Portland always plays us tough, but in a 7 game series where a great coaching staff like ours gets to prepare against a young, talented but flawed Portland team (they love them jumpshots and don’t defend)? I think we’d win in 5 again.

    On the other hand, Houston is the type of team that will fight, has a lot of role players doing all sorts of things help their teams win. May not seem like that’s much of a big deal but basically that’s the kind of thing that could result in a blown lead turning into a blown game. Still confident we’d beat them, but I don’t think they’d be much easier than the Blazers and probably not at all.

  183. “Now, what the Bulls should have done was to say that Miller wasn’t capable to be on the floor… They could even bring a wheelchair to take him out and put a good FT shooter in for him. Game tied and we get a second overtime.”

    If Miller couldn’t shoot his FTs, the Celtics would have been the ones to decide his replacement, not the Bulls.

  184. 183. lil’ Pau, the NBA will not confirm that until after the game Thursday (if Houston wins). Sunday at 12:30 is what everyone thinks.

  185. Warren Wee Lim April 29, 2009 at 8:33 am

    And that would be like 1230 midnight to 3-ish Monday morning for me! Great for my Laker appetite – bad for work LOL.

    Either way, the way I saw POR-HOU game 5, it gives me even bigger confidence that the Lakers can close out the series in a 5-gamer simply coz any more extensions to the series favors LA who is staying right at home awaiting its next opponent.

  186. Warren Wee Lim April 29, 2009 at 8:41 am

    I like to point out several matchups in advance:

    Yao vs Pau is more or less even. Thats assuming Bynum is kept on the bench for offensive efficiency. Something tells me Phil is gonna make him earn back his starting job seeing that Yao is the only center (and anyone above 6’10) for HOU. Pau Gasol won’t be efficient offensively unless he runs the court – and we know how well he does it.

    LO vs Scola is a wash. I respect Scola’s IQ and skills overall but Odom is just playing sick basketball at the right time. He is a nightmare at matchups, especially if his “huromentado” (synonyms include: amok, wild, crazy) lefty layup is working for him.

    Ariza and Artest is one matchup I don’t like. While Trevor gives us more fluidity on offense (esp when he is hitting crazy threes), I like Luke Walton’s girth against RonRon. Maybe its just me.

    Kobe vs Battier is the most likely opening matchup. Since Artest will be made to play off the ball offense or offense in general.

    Fisher vs Brooks is where I fancy ShanWoW to play a much bigger role. I still hope for a redemption series from Jordan Farmar playing against a smaller (but quicker) Brooks too but PG is where we should exploit them. Does Fish ever post up?

    Our bench vs their bench is simply a wash. Let Jack Nicholson bring a toy pistol to the game and flash it on Landry :D Ok that was low, but its meant to be funny. Hehe

  187. how come everyone is talking about flagrant foul. and no one is talking about how miller, a center, tried to be cute and lay it up underhand instead of dunking it? no one was in front of him. he blew it, twice.

  188. Really? BOS would’ve picked the replacement? Doesn’t work like that in FIBA basketball… That’s just plain wrong!

  189. If it was flagarant, CHI could’ve picked the replacement.

  190. Warren,

    I believe Fish tried posting up Brooks a few times last time we played the Rockets.

  191. Shao,

    You have a point. He could’ve dunked.

    Shades of Pau.

  192. TrueHoop makes a good point – scooping the ball palm up is a bad move because it doesn’t allow for adjustments in case of contact. At the very least, he should have used a runner with his palm down or something.

    Maybe he was in disbelief that he was THAT wide open.

  193. thanks, kurt.

    as to miller’s non-dunk, it looked to me like he gave up his dribble too early and didn’t have adequate momentum to actually make it to the rim!

  194. No comment about that elbow Howard threw last night? How does he not get suspended 1 game for that?

  195. Brad Miller is slow and clumsy. As I stated before, almost any other big man would have made it to the rim. Also, because he’s clumsy handling the ball and knows it (as many big men are), he picked up his dribble before he could get stripped. He knew he had picked it up too soon, and extending his arm and shooting underhand was the natural reflex to try to get his hand as close to the basket as possible, to cover that distance. Anyone who’s played will understand the instinct I’m talking about. Players who don’t have a tear drop or flip shot, who aren’t used to finishing in that situation, will instinctively shoot underhanded to try to close the gap to the hoop.

    It was definitely the wrong way to go about the play. Miller should have channeled his inner Amare and powered his way to the hoop, going overhanded for a flip shot or a dunk. He went too soft, no doubt about that. It doesn’t change the fact that Rondo hit him right across the face. Was it a flagrant? I honestly haven’t seen enough replays to decide. But Hollinger and Abbott were fairly unanimous, and I trust them enough (on something as simple as a basketball play) to be correct.

    The Celtics fan base as a whole as an amazing sense of entitlement. I, too, find it very, very odd that they of all fans still find ways to complain about the refs. No one has benefited more from pocketed whistles than they. As a Lakers fan I acknowledge whistles sometimes do swing in our favor, which is why I rarely blame refs for losses. But Celts fans seem oblivious. It comes from some sort of blue-collar-underdog syndrome against the glamor of Hollywood, believing the NBA favors the Lakers and hates them. Most teams feel that way, but with the Celtics it’s unreasonable.

  196. 197. I’m at work, is that official? No suspension? I think he deserves one, this isn’t a Robert Horry hard foul on Nash, it was an intentional elbow after the play. He needs a game off.

    As for Brad Miller, he’s a catch and shoot big, anytime you get him moving you stand a chance of a miss, even in close.

  197. PeanutButterSpread April 29, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    If Kobe got suspended for “unnatural motion” then how does Dwight Howard not get suspended for actually swinging his elbow.

  198. I don’t think any decision has been handed down on Howard (should get suspended) or Rondo (should not.) Both plays are being reviewed by the league office.

  199. Now it’s official. Howard has been suspended one game.

  200. I saw Rondo’s foul on Miller, but haven’t seen enough replays though. I still think however, that if Rondo truly went for the ball, then he went for the ball, and that’s fine. However, if he intentionally went for Miller’s head without even trying for the ball, then he should be suspended as well, according to league rules and just to send a message that heads are off limits. If he went for the head.

    I haven’t seen enough replays to know for sure, and everyone who says they did seems to be too biased to be credible.

  201. Rondo’s play was tricky in that it really was a bang/bang play. The lane opened rather quickly for Miller and Rondo was the player that should have tracked him because Perkins switched to cover Rondo’s man. So, Rondo ended up being in full pursuit to try and defend a man that he had responsibility for and doing it in a panicked recovery mode. That said, Rondo swung with full force and came no where close to making a play on the ball, ultimately hitting Miller right in the face. I should also note, though, that flagrant fouls aren’t issued off whether or not a player made a play for/on the ball, but rather if there was excessive contact. I for one think that Rondo’s play was excessive, but that it does not warrant an after the fact suspension (like Howard’s play does). In the end, what makes this most troubling is that if the league actually does re-classify Rondo’s foul a flagrant, it means that the refs did make a mistake and one that should have rewarded the Bulls the ball with another chance to tie the game. So, even though Miller missed his FT’s the Bulls could have still done something to extend the game. Now, they don’t get that chance and the C’s have a series lead.

  202. I agree with Darius. I think Rondo was out of position and just swung to take a foul and prevent the shot from going in. It was excessive and should have been called a flagrant but did not warrant a flagrant 2 or a suspension. If the game was in Chicago or the foul happened at any other time than the last few seconds of the game it probably would have been called a flagrant.

    That being said that is not why the Bulls lost the game. They gave up an 11 point 4th quarter lead and couldn’t defend Pierce down the stretch. That is why they lost the game.

  203. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090429&sportCat=nba

    Okay, even Simmons admits Rondo should be suspended, and the league doesn’t even upgrade it to a flagrant one. Pathetic.

    On another note, why wasn’t Tyrus Thomas in the game on that play? He would have dunked the ball over anyone Boston had on the floor at the time, absorbed the contact, and got the foul. Great job VDN.

  204. Thanks for the update, emh101. I didn’t know a decision had came down. I was just looking for some FBG commentary, but it seemed like folks were only interested in the Rondo foul.

    Of the 2 really crazy highlights I saw this morning before work, it wasn’t that Rondo love tap that made me hit back on the DVR. Twice.

    Game 7 is in Orlando on Saturday…

  205. Seems like most of the people on Twitter are pulling for the Rockets to win so we can have a easy road to the Conference Finals.

  206. NBA just sent out a notice: Round two starts on Monday, regardless of outcome in Portland Houston.

    New thread up, complete with a Chick rapping video.

  207. Cayucos Surfer April 29, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I’m usually one who thinks flagrants are pretty overblown.. but really? i saw that play. Rondo made no attempt at that ball. Odom gets a one game suspension for stepping a foot off the bench, and Rondo more or less punches Miller, he needs stitches later, and NOTHING is called? Not even a flagrant 1? Losing a little bit of respect for the League. If a bull had done that to Paul Pierce or Rayray, everyone would be screaming for his head. Ridiculous double standard.

  208. Clutch,
    Yeah, that Howard play was over the top. He elbowed a guy in the head! And after the game he said something along the lines of “everyone knows what kind of player I am…I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone.” Really? You’re one of the biggest and strongest players in the league, you wind up, then elbow a guy in the head and you didn’t mean to hurt anyone? Anyways, I think the suspension is warranted and agree with the quote I read over in one of the Truehoop posts that two games would have been a reasonable suspension. Anyways, I do agree that Philly will be looking for some revenge and to get a win to force a game 7. On a side note, I’m really tiring of SVG. I’ve never really had an oppinion on him (though, I think that “master of panic” talk by Shaq was pretty funny), but his post game presser was pretty sour in my book and I’m not really liking him right now.

  209. The usual insightful comment plus a jab at SVG. Anytime you can get criticism out of Darius (always legitimate), it’s a good day.

  210. the other Stephen April 30, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    i don’t think derrick rose will ever have an exciting enough public personality for the nba to really really endorse him, and i hope it stays that way. any interview with him falls flat like a dead fish. keep it real, derrick rose. it’s why you’re so awesome!