Now We Have A Series

Kurt —  May 7, 2009

NBA: MAY 04 Conference Semifinals - Rockets at Lakers - Game 1
Welcome to playoff basketball, this is fun and going to get better.

Let me start by discussing the topic du jour, Derek Fisher decleating Luis Scola.

I loved it as a Lakers fan. This team has been blasted as being soft for a year now, and as recently as a couple days ago by an LA Times columnist. But anybody who watched this team this season saw the mentality was different— this team pushed back, they fought, they were tough. They learned the lessons seared into them in the ugly game six in Boston last year. There have been some hard fouls, some pushing back all season long.

What Fisher did was a team leader saying “Don’t f$*%&$ with my teammates.” This is a team sticks up for each other and will push back. There are those that will call this overcompensation, others that at the next loss will pull out the soft card again, but frankly those are people who have not really seen how this team has changed. They are people who do not really have a grasp of this team. That includes LA Times columnists.

• Scola, to his credit, learned a lesson from Brad Miller and put a little extra into it to help sell the flagrant.

• If Fish is suspended and we have to go with Brown/Farmar/Sasha at the point, I don’t think the drop off is huge. But one of them needs to step up and drain threes consistently.

• I like what ESPN’s Eric Neel wrote after the game about the Lakers:

And it’s hard to explain, but watching them, you knew, precisely because of that civil discourse, precisely because they were taking shelter in short answers and trotting out clichés like Crash Davis, that they were loving where this series has gone, that they were itching for Round 3.

• Kobe was 10 of 17 with Battier on him in game two after a rough game one.

• The real key to this win was the Lakers defensive pressure leading to Houston turnovers in 21.7% of their possessions, and turning some of those into easy baskets in transition. When the game grinds down to a halfcourt battle, the Lakers play to the strengths of the Rockets. When they get out in the open court and run, they win. And that all starts at the defensive end. I don’t know if I’ve ever said this before, but the Lakers will go as far as their defense will take them.

• Game three is going to be called more closely from the start, an advantage for the Lakers.

• More game breakdown stuff coming down the line.

Kurt

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187 responses to Now We Have A Series

  1. Will the tighter refereeing favor us? On one hand, maybe Kobe gets to the line more when Battier and especially Artest body him up. On the other hand, as of late we have found it hard to play defense without fouling. Bynum / Sasha / Odom in particular could be vulnerable to getting those ticky-tack fouls called on them and getting us in the penalty early. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

  2. After seeing the start of the 4th last night, I’m not positive I want it to be called tighter, lol.

    On a serious note, I think you are probably right. I feel like Houston is similar to Utah in that a lot of their stuff goes uncalled because they are “tough” guys.

  3. @ T34 I think comparing Utah and Hou on defense is like Palin to Biden. Utah got called for fouls because they were poor defensively and were constantly out of position. Houston can get away with some because teams who play stellar defense build a reputation. I believe the issue has little to do with toughness, even though they may be correlated. Plus, even Sloan said the Jazz weren’t nasty enough.

  4. For the Dodger fans: Manny Ramirez has been hit with a 50-game PED suspension.

    Back to the Lakers.

  5. “What Fisher did was a team leader saying “Don’t f$*%&$ with my teammates.” This is a team sticks up for each other and will push back. ”

    Yeah Scola definitely needed to get a taste of his own medicine when he sent …um…some Laker player…uh…to the ground with a hard foul…uh…wait that never happened.

    Scola did nothing to deserve that foul. I’m pretty shocked that anybody would defend Fisher’s foul there. It’s one thing on a fast break when you are trying to prevent a layup or something, but the guy was going to set a pick. Very excessive.

  6. thanks Kurt,
    I agree that Scola did some selling in that business, either that, or Fish is one mighty MF!
    it still bugs me to no end the way Battier face guards Kobe, it just doesn’t feel like it belongs in the NBA, (it’s bush league) but from what we saw last night, Kobe appears to have been more than ready for it, it didn’t seem to affect him last night, (but in game 1… might have been Kobe’s health too). I am a bit concerned that it took a monster game from Kobe last night, and we barely got by. It’s going to take some more from someone else on the team in game 3.
    if Fish does get a suspension, (and let’s hope not, if just for the sake of an anti-flopping sentiment), then at least we’ll see how Farmar responds to more PT, it might just be a blessing is disguise.
    I’m disappointed in Andrew, not only for his performance, but his attitude. When was subbed out last night, late in the 4th, he didn’t hand slap Pau coming in for him, just went straight to the bench, looked like he was moping, he needs to get over it, it’s not about “him”, it’s about the “team” and winning a ring, needs to man up, soon.

  7. Fisher all year has been pissed off at people for setting what he feels to be hard / moving screens, probably because as the primary PG defender he gets targeted over and over again. Last game was not the first time where he’s thrown an elbow / shoulder or grabbed the screener to physically move him away.

    I wonder what Scola said to get Lamar and Luke (of all people) pissed at him. He doesn’t strike me as a particularly dirty screener (he’s not quite a Celtic), so it’s unusual that Fish would choose him to go above and beyond his normal tactics of dealing with hard screeners.

  8. Aldridge in ESPN is advocating that Kobe be suspended for the Artest elbow. Anyone else think there’s a danger of that?

    I saw the replay and I think that he clearly elblowed him in the neck. In fact, I think one of the reasons Artest was assessed a second T and thrown out was because the cut-throat gesture he made during the game – which in fact I think was his poor way of demonstrating to the refs where KObe had hit him. I know when I saw that at the game I gasped, as I thought it was the former and not the later.

    Having said that, if this was a regular season game, I would expect Kobe to be suspended in the next game. However, the problem for the NBA with this one is that it has been so freaking inconsistent with their penalties in the playoffs. For example, they didn’t suspend Rodo for either of his hard fouls, yet they nailed Howard for his. So, I’m not sure what level of contact is punishible. Still, I’m worried because the NBA has been very harsh on Kobe in the past for his tendency to use high elbows. Thoughts?

  9. Scola was swaggering, talking junk and setting some moving screens. Fisher flattened him and the Rockets fell apart. Seems like a good decision.

  10. Taking cheapshots, does not make your team “tough”. Its a fact the Lakers are a talented squad but they are a little soft’ especially in the paint. Guys like scola should not be backing down guys like odem in the paint. While i will admit that Yao is a little soft as well, Rockets management surrounded him with tough, tenacious players. Lakers please learn that dirty play does not equal tough, if anything makes you look weak as in, “if you can’t beat them pummel them.”

    All in all this is now a series, game three should be alot of fun. Go rockets!

  11. “This team has been blasted as being soft for a year now, and as recently as a couple days ago by an LA Times columnist. But anybody who watched this team this season saw the mentality was different— this team pushed back, they fought, they were tough. They learned the lessons seared into them in the ugly game six in Boston last year. There have been some hard fouls, some pushing back all season long.”

    I think the people that call the Lakers soft are the kind that see toughness as a purely physical thing, and don’t see the mental side of it at all. That kind of person, by the way, also tends this that displaying physical roughness is a sign of being tough. So Rondo is seen as tough for playing hard (dirty?) against the Bulls, for example, and no one considers the fact that Brad Miller not only went out and played the last minutes of that game with stichtes in his mouth, but came back and kept playing as hard for the rest of the series. He didn’t start fearing Rondo or shy away from the paint just because he got a tooth knocked out.

    Pau was destroyed in the paint against the Celtics in last years Finals. It was probably very humiliating and painful, and to listen to what everyone in the media was saying about him afterward must have been even more so. The first game against the Celtics this season, he took revenge and played a fantastic game.

    Kobe drops 81 points in 42 minutes of play a night in January a couple of years ago, just because he wants to win, and he was angry that his team wasn’t winning. 55 of those points came in the second half, and a surprisingly large number of them were from jump shots. He did what everyone thought was impossible, and all it took was the determination to do it.

    Shane Battier is literally knocked bloody in Game 1, but comes right back out, and goes back to playing close physical defense, without backing down. It’s not the first time he’s done that either.

    Since none of the above examples involve throwing elbows, a certain type of personality will never be able to grasp that these are just as good and impressive examples of toughness as Ron Artests antics, or Rondo’s thuggery. In fact, I would argue that they are better examples of really being tough, than any displays of physicality.

    But a certain kind of person doesn’t get that.

    wiseolgoat,
    I wasn’t the least surprised to see Lamar get upset at that situation, he is passionate and to add to that he is a very loyal team mate. But I’d love to know what he said to Luke… I don’t think I have ever seen him get a technical before!

  12. Odom*

    The fact Houston is so “tough” yet their fans insist on complaining about dirty play is funny to me. If you think Scola is completely innocent after smacking Lamar Odom in the face, pulling his jersey, talking trash then that’s a bit ridiculous.

    Was Fisher’s foul a cheap shot, probably. Was Scola setting moving screens? Can’t say I’ve ever seen him plant and set a legal screen (in this series, at least). Was Fisher sending a message? Definitely. Would Rocket fans/the media be calling the Lakers soft if Pau gotten rocked by Lowry in a similar play? Most definitely.

  13. @Dean

    It’s not really Scola’s style to talk trash. Odom was the one who kept taunting him. When Scola finally started talking back, he got a T, along with Walton and Odom.

    If you guys feel like Scola is getting away with moving screens, tell your owner to complain. It worked for Mark Cuban.

  14. Joey Joe Joe Schabadu May 7, 2009 at 9:52 am

    T34-

    You won’t find that last scenerio cause the rockets have never ever played dirty. How out of touch do you have to be to compare a full body check to jersey pulling. If someone is setting moving screens the adult way to handle it is the following:
    Tell the refs. If the refs still don’t call it, set illegal screens back.
    Here is how the immature lakers /lakers fans handle it:
    cheap shot him in the stomache

  15. @T34

    Pau Gasol sets just as many moving screens as Scola does. Let’s not get into that debate.
    Maybe it’s a European/South American thing. Who knows?

    Somebody already definied what tough means. It’s not about taking dirty play. Dirty play doesn’t belong in the NBA.

  16. To all of the Rocket trollers on this Laker site, get ready for a great two game set in your city. There will be a fair amount of us Laker fans living in Texas who will be out in full support come Friday night and Sunday afternoon. I feel confident we can get at least one win and maybe two if Artest melts down again. It will be interesting to see if the Rockets shooting from 3 point land cools down or not and if ours improves in any way. We have to have a stronger game from Ariza and Odom on the offensive end. Kobe knows there is still work to be done and we’ll get it done.

  17. Rocket fans seem a little grumpy.

  18. I’m kinda pissed at Andrew’s attitude. At one point when the ball was on his side of the court on offense he didn’t even bother facing the ball to catch it in the low post. He just kept looking at the basket and his defender. That was very pathetic. He needs to grow up.

  19. TrueHoop has thoughts about Kobe’s elbow with an update from Sheridan who has seen a reverse angle of where the elbow landed.

    For those of you interested:

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-40-31/The-Kobe-Bryant-Suspension-Watch.html

  20. Coffee is For Closers May 7, 2009 at 9:58 am

    With the way the NBA has reviewed the Rondo flagrants these playoffs, I’m ready for anything re: possible suspensions. Remember Stu Jackson has already suspended kobe in the regular season previously for “dangerlously throwing his arms”, so I don’t think we can just assume kobe is in the clear, though you’d think he’d only get fined at worst. My guess is Fisher is gone for game 3, but agree, this could be a blessing in disguise. If Sasha does get the bulk of Fisher’s minutes, he must be smarter about his “pestiness”, and avoid needless fouls 30 ft from the basket. Loved Odom’s game last night. When he plays agressive like that going to the hoop and chasing rebounds, the lakers are very tough to beat. I also loved that he walked into Staples off the street – very cool move Lamar.

  21. I seem to remember a Pat Riley coached team from the 80′s that got “out toughed” by the Celtics in the Finals. They vowed that wouldn’t happen next year.

    Well it’s deja vu all over again.

    The Rockets can cry all they want about how unfair and cheap the Lakers play is. I remember doing that last year with the Celtics series. I’ll save the city of Houston the trouble of finding out for themselves: that path leads nowhere.

    Adelman wanted to bang with the Lake Show. That was the plan; play “tough d” and get them to fold like last year.

    This ain’t last year.

  22. Joey Joe Joe -

    Complain more. I mean seriously, maybe that will help your team answer. Nobody here is saying what Fisher did was right. What we’re saying is he sent a message, he faced his punishment and he will continue to do so. If you guys think you lost the game because of that then you are fooling yourselves.

    Come to an educated board like Forum blue and gold, and complain about dirty play to defend your team? How out of touch are you?

    Nobody here is saying Fisher/the Lakers should have fought back by “cheap shotting in the stomache (whatever that means), we are simply saying our guys aren’t going to back down, we are going to play hard, play rough, and not be out worked, out hustled, out physicalled by the Houston Rockets.

    Lakers should tell the refs about the moving screens, look where it got Ron Artest.

  23. and by the way, what’s the real definition of dirty anyway? if dirty means doing something as overtly as fisher and getting called on it by the refs but not jersey pulling on defense and getting away with it, then maybe it needs to be redefined, don’t you think?

  24. Apparently, the folks at Dream Shake care more about the non issue that was Kobe’s elbow.

    I’m very surprised by the complaining going on, considering the Rockets feel they are a “tough” team and tougher than us. Shouldn’t they be enthused? Not whining?

    What happened last night was nothing new. We’ve seen the Lakers step up in a few chippy games. Ask KG.

  25. Scola hit him in the face, and grabbed his jersey. He also sets hard screens that are borderline. IF the refs are not calling it, the players must take things into their own hands to play at the offenders’ level. It is part of the game whether you like it or not.

  26. Check out the Dream Shake today – here are some particularly choice quotes:

    “There is no word I can think of to properly describe Fisher at the moment. Probably because such a word has yet to be invented. I’m not going to even throw any cuss words Fisher’s way. He’s below all of them. They don’t suffice.”

    “We all know Kobe Bryant is annoying. We know he is a terrible sport. We know that for every ounce of talent that he has, he lacks the same amount in sportsmanship.”

    Overreact much? Since when have Rockets blogs turned into Blazers blogs?

  27. The Rockets certainly have succeeded in waking our guys up. Thanks for that. I don’t think we’ll be hearing many Pistons comparisons from here on.

    Considering what the Rockets mean to NBA China, Inc, the Lakers are going to have to win this on their own, without help from the refs. Not to say it’s been called unfairly, but it’s not often you see teams get the calls at Staples that the Rockets are getting.

  28. Fish lowered the boom sending a message both to the Rockets, but more importantly to his teammates. Basically, it is time to man up and that the Lakers will not be pushed around.

  29. Kobe was clearly trying to free himself from a wrestling hold by Artest, and the elbow was part of a motion of turning to go after the rebound.

    What is interesting to me is Artest’s inappropriate response. A team leader doesn’t go off like a cheap firecracker. To mix metaphors, the pilot light is on a little too high in Artest. And the pressure mounts as the series goes on…

  30. Wiseolgoat,

    Since their lone win against us. they all have their chests puffed out now. game One was an aberration. Game 2 was like what happened in the regular season, except for the drama.

    Here’s a clip for the Rockets fans:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9tWe6x1boU&feature=PlayList&p=DE42233481F0DFFD&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=16

  31. If Kobe Bryant gets suspended for clearly elbowing Ron-Ron in the chest…moments after Artest had been elbowing Kobe in the back of the head and neck repeatedly, by the way, I’ll go through the roof.

    Seriously.

    I expect Fish to get an extra game suspension – he clearly wound up on the replay…but Kobe was just jockeying for position. If they’re going to suspend Kobe for that, then they have to suspend Artest for elbowing Kobe in the back of the head, too!

  32. Robinred, as a rockets fan, i for one am not grumpy. Your team outplayed ours last nite and most likely would have with or without the “aggressive” plays. Kobe was unconscious for most of the game and that was the difference.

    I missed scolas jersey pull, so i cant comment on it.

    There is a line that should not be crossed, which is to knowingly using a move or tactic that is meant to injure another player. By my count the lakers have done that 3 times in this series, the most obvious being in game 1 with kobe elbowing and kneeing battier while they were on the ground.

    But if it lights a fire for your team, so be it. Fisher will sit out a game and the series will continue. And it should be great, hopefully the dirty plays are over with, but its troubling that a pattern seems to be developing. Just glad i’m rooting for the guys in red.

  33. It is interesting that only rough plays by the Lakers were shown on instant replay. What about Wafer elbowing Sasha? Is that going to be reviewed by the league?

  34. Kobe’s pass off the backboard was ridiculous!!

    This is the youtube and a mash-up from yooouuutuuube.com….almost choked…

    http://www.helloooooo.com/2009/05/07/this-is-a-bad-man/

  35. Coffee is For Closers May 7, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I really hate the direction the NBA has gone with the over-reaction to physical play, most especially with the suspension part of it. I don’t want to return to the days of the “mchale rambis clothesline”, but we end up evaulating these questionable plays on video later like were analyzing the zapruder film. 3

    look at artest’s head, it goes back and to the left…..

  36. Artest was all over Kobe’s back on that play. I think Kobe was just trying to get Artest off of his back and people are overreacting and calling it a cheap shot.

  37. I’m feeling pretty good right now, wiseolgoat. +1 to wondahbab. I can’t believe the excitement surrounding these non-issues. The Kobe play wasn’t a play at all. It’s the playoffs for crying out loud. Of course, he’s going to shed his defender under the goal.

    The Fish play, while wrong, didn’t warrant the flagrant 2. I still can’t believe he got tossed for that. Let alone the talk of missing game 3. Two games for Fish and 0 games for a guy that THREW a grown man into the scorers table less than a week ago. It’s downright laughable.

    Anyway, no matter who suspended/fined, the Lake show is now, FINALLY motivated. And that’s good for business.

  38. can a dirty player be a soft player? i mean, by definition, a soft player backs down from pressure and physicality, right? so the lakers may not be tough, but w/ them apparently being the dirtiest team in the universe, can you still call them soft?

    anyway, i like the challenge that playing the rockets brings; the lakers will definitely be a better team from this experience. utah beat themselves a lot; not gonna be the case w/ houston. lakers are gonna have to take it if they want it.

  39. It’s the playoffs. Don’t cry. Play ball.

    Laker disparagers note: You never hear this Laker team say anything about last year’s finals other than, “We lost to a better team.”

    Contrast that with, say, Phoenix in ’07, or Sacramento in ’02. Houston fans, don’t be those guys.

    Man up and play.

  40. For those looking for a great write-up on the game, check out Dwyer’s piece on “Ball Don’t Lie”

    http://bit.ly/ugSAp

    Choice bit on all the rough-housing:

    “The soap opera shoves and whining, I’ve little interest in. Luis Scola(notes) may have flopped a bit, but Derek Fisher knew what he was doing. Get Fisher out of there, after that. Same with Artest, who can dish it but can’t take it. Take a seat. Same with Von Wafer(notes). He could have been a fourth quarter difference, but he made the game about him. At the height of competition, your level of selflessness reveals your character, and sadly, we learned quite about Von on Wednesday. “

  41. clutch,
    That, right there, is the main reason I’m upset. I don’t care that they tossed Fisher, well, not much anyway. That’s a risk you take every time when you commit a hard foul, especially against player who’s good at flopping. (Don’t take that as Scola-bashing, he’s not the only flopper in the NBA. Not by far.) But if they suspend him, after not even giving Rondo a flagrant for deliberately going for Miller’s head, that will make me grouchy.

  42. the other Stephen May 7, 2009 at 11:00 am

    i call lakers in 6.

  43. Isn’t it fun trying to divine what arbitrary standard the league will apply to suspensions? The decisions seem to be driven by marketing more than anything, and what image the league wants to project at a given moment. That’s why we’re seeing so much “working the refs” from Rockets; the politics of it will influence the league’s decision.

    I think Stu Jackson would love to suspend Kobe to prove his “fairness” (cf suspensions from 2005-06 season), but he won’t because the case is too weak. I expect Fisher to be suspended as a consolation prize, even though that case is also weak given the closest precedent these playoffs (Rondo throwing Heinrich in the scorers’ table). But I wouldn’t be surprised at any decision they make.

  44. Kurt, I aint totally convinced this is a tough laker team. Yes, we are tougher than last years team but, we lost a lot of close games this year. Also, could Phil Jackson be right when he said this team lacks killer instinct? We blow big leads almost every game. Remember how that hunted us against Boston last year (the game 4 disaster).

  45. the other Stephen May 7, 2009 at 11:07 am

    32. PlanR, as an avid rockets fan, i really feel like fisher just meant to shake him up a little bit. unlike rondo, i don’t think fisher ever meant to get away with it. this was purely to send a serious, but not malicious message. besides, the guy is an entire foot taller than him, and if fisher really wanted to *hurt* scola, there are a lot of better ways to do it.

    no harm, no foul.

    believe me, if there’s one team other than the lakers that i want to see go far, it’s the rockets.

  46. After watching it about six times, I’m convinced that Scola didn’t flop. Fish absolutely blew him up, but what made him fall as hard as he did what that Fisher’s head hit Scola in the mouth/face–look at Scola holding his face after the play, and note that the cut on Fisher’s head is suspiciously front-tooth-shaped.

    Was it dirty? Probably? Was it tough, awesome playoff basketball? Absitively posilutely. A suspension is probably coming, and is fully deserved, really. But it set the tone, and that’s more important than Fisher for one game. Plus, it’ll give Brown and Farmar a little more run, and hopefully some useful experience and confidence that will pay off in a round (or two, hopefully).

    But as to who should start, I actually think Luke should start in Fish’s place. Kobe and Lamar can be the primary ball handlers, while Luke can float on the perimeter, distribute and shoot when he’s open like he does from the 3 spot.

    And regardless of Luke’s shortcomings on defense, it frees up the Lakers to potentially switch up 1-4 on defense as needed. Luke on Brooks/Lowry would be bad, but Kobe/Odom/Ariza would eat ‘em up.

  47. Joey Joe Joe Schabadu & PlanR:
    I think the lakers won the rebound battle…
    maybe I’m wrong.

  48. Rockets fan, take a deep bretahe, be happy you got the split, stop whinning about trivial mattters and let’s move on. This is a place most of you Rocket fans have been in more than a decade (out of the first round) but this is just a playoff series. Posturing is one thing, but please keep the irrational overractions to your own board.

  49. I will tell you now, this is going to be a rational discussion. I am deleting comments from both sides at a fast pace. No personal insults are going to fly here. It was an emotional game but you need to use your head as well everyone.

  50. When the Fish play happened, I was busting up with laughter, thinking Zen Master. It was almost as if Phil sent a message to four audiences:

    1. NBA Officiating: If you really want Cleveland/Houston then keep calling the games the same way you did Utah. It’s not a foul to manhandle the Lakers? Deron Williams hack on Bynum wasn’t even a flagrant? Denver would be more of the same.

    2. Rockets: we are not going to be intimidated. Bring it on (and they will, although don’t be shocked if Artest loses it).

    3. Jordan Farmar: stop looking over your shoulder and play. Fish aint coming back tonight.

    4. Adelman: Round three, buddy (colossal collapse when coaching Blazers in 2000; crushing seven-gamer led by Horry series save in 2002)

    And I loved the closing rotation, as that speed/frenetic style is a look that will give the Rockets trouble, and Farmar played well with Kobe, Pau and Brown on floor.

    Here’s some further thoughts on the series:

    Laker Thoughts: Playoff Edition (Game 2 vs. Houston Rockets) http://bit.ly/mnxUC

    Mark

  51. I like that the Lakers fought back last night, but I feel as this year’s playoffs is like a re-run. Coast through the Western Conference and get out-muscled and out-hustled by a more powerful and physical team (CLE) in the Finals. Without a healthy Bynum, we have very little chance of winning the finals this year. (The regular season victory will mean little in my opinion.)
    I first thought that Kobe landed a cheap shot to Artest, but I was wrong. Ron made a ton of illegal contact with the back of Kobe’s head during that battle for the rebound.

  52. I’m not sure why my comment got deleted, particularly if you compare it to a couple of others, but so be it.

    Watching the replays again, Fisher does deserve a suspension, but as I said in the deleted comment and was echoed, there are far “better” ways to try to really injure a guy.

    I agree that Walton should play more. With the Rockets not having great quickness on the wings, Walton’s main weakness is minimized and his positives are still there, as we saw. I am concerned about Bynum; I still feel they will need contributions from him.

  53. Mark, wasn’t it Dunleavy who was coaching the Blazers in that 2000 Collapse?

  54. Luke is not a great defender. But, let’s give him props for last night. He created at least three steals, and executed on the break.

    His 3 pt shooting though, meh

  55. According to the LA Times, Fish will be suspended for one game.

    Assuming this is true, then the league is saying that it’s ok to:

    grabbing a guy by mouth and give him stitches

    throw another guy into the scorer’s table

    Slap a player on the back of the head

    But it’s not ok to do throw an elbow at the chest?

  56. The other thing, I don’t get the flare up in Houston over the Kobe elbow (which it appears from people with a good view was in the upper chest). The guys are battling for rebounding position, Artest is pushing on Kobe (including up high) and Kobe throws an elbow trying to clear space for a ball in play. Kobe gets a fine, nothing more.

    If you think it was dirty and more than just playoff basketball, I think you are really reaching.

  57. Game 2 was great. Intense and close.
    But reflecting back I think the Lakers led the entire 2nd half. Am I mistaken?

  58. Joe,

    You won’t be convinced of anything until we win the Chip, and by then you will have been so consumed with doubting the Lakers that you couldn’t enjoy it. You will realize you never saw the reasons we will be the last team to win. How could you appreciate it.

    On another note. Phil needs to stop getting cute with substitutions. While we’re playing 11 guys. Houston effectively cut a 15 point lead with Carl Landry.

  59. @DTM, my bad. Here I have been carrying around this sense of Adelman as a two-time victim of JackZen, and I am interchanging him with Dunleavy. Adelman is a much better coach. Thanks for the catch, and will update my post, which refers to same.

  60. I think the word ‘fan’ should be listed in the same sentence as ‘in the moment’ in the dictionary. Fans have absolutely no historical perspective.

    Last series both Farmar and Walton were not terribly useful. This series they are critical 2nd unit players. Why? Not because they are playing better. It is all about matchups.

    Remember when Phil and Mitch are constructing a team they have to have personnel who fit a number of different types of matchups – or else they wind up like the Warriors or Suns. This team is constructed with different types of players and they become valuable in different types of series.

    After this series I hope people stop complaining about Luke’s contract – at least for a few days.

  61. Disclaimer: massive Rockets fan.

    I was frustrated by the way the Rox played because they let themselves get rattled by the inconsistent reffing. I honestly don’t mind the rough and tumble, although I think that’s the last time you’ll see Kobe throw the elbow because he’s under the microscope now. If the refs are gonna let them duke it out, call it that way or if they have to stay in separate corners, call it that way consistently. That’s the biggest issue I have. Physical play is getting close to an opponent so as to put them out of their comfort zone and making them physically work for points. The Lakers did a great job of that in the late 3rd & 4th quarter to Houston and I applaud that. They got up on the Rox and pressured them and I love seeing that. But when its printed that they’re soft they try to “prove” themselves by acting thuggishly, and unnecessarily so. You guys are better than that, right, so show us.

    As for Fish, ask yourself this in all honestly Lakers fans: let’s say Kyle Lowery does that exact same thing to Lamar Odom. What is your reaction to that? Would you say a suspension is warranted and it was “a good idea” to send a message to the Lakers? Just curious.

    And of course, Kobe was Kobe and got his points. Two thoughts on that, however: 1) Can he maintain that level of energy to get those points for 3 more games and 2) will that come at the expense of his team-mates? Because I think its clear to everyone on this board that Kobe will continue to be defensively harassed throughout this series. My only real complaint about him, strangely, echoes Artest: as gifted (and the boy is sick-gifted) as Kobe is, are the cheap shots (not just this game because its a quiet part of his “arsenal”) necessary? I get the Bruce Bowen’s and Shane Battier’s: sometimes you have to have that bag of tricks to compensate for a lack of natural talent. But Kobe? It comes across as cheap and surly.

    So lets all take a breather, and watch the magic happen in Game 3. I think its gonna be a nailbiter that the Rox pull out but there’s a lot of “ifs” that need to happen for that to take place (and I don’t mean if people get suspended).

  62. picture showing artest’s elbow into kobe’s head on the same play:

    http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/111815/koberon7.png

    end of discussion. there should be no suspension for kobe. typical playoff contact.

  63. wondahbap,
    I too have been wondering if someone shouldn’t gag Phil between quarters. Maybe then we wouldn’t be doing these mass substitutions that are killing our momentum.

    I mentioned this in the last thread, but you are the 1st person who has brought up the fact that it is Phil who is doing our team the biggest disservice in his inflexible substitution patter.

  64. fish likely to be suspended, Kobe likely to receive a flagrant one.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakersweb8-2009may08,0,7937877.story

    I guess Fish gets the suspension because of premeditation? That’s the only differentiating factor I can think of between this incident and the incidents cited by Manny above.

  65. Kobe should not be suspended for his elbow. But what is going to happen if he does that to LBJ if the Lakers play the Cavs. The NBA may not look so kindly upon it.
    Everybody plays a little dirty sometimes but with Kobe, it never stops. Maybe he should watch some old tape of me to see how one wins with class, dignity and smarts.

    P.S. I also do not quit on my team under any circumstances except when I went to play baseball. And I waited until the season was over and I had achieved my goal. I seem to remember Kobe quitting on his team in the playoffs on multiple occasions when things were not going his way.

    Jumpman for Life

  66. 44. the other Stephen, lets just call it borderline malicious and leave it that. One game suspension is deserved. But in the big scheme of things not all that important.

    I would say it might give the rockets some extra motivation, but i dont think theyre the type of team to need that.

  67. Kurt- I think Artest is totally “pot calling kettle black”. He plays physical all game but people can’t play physical with him?

    Wondahbap- I was railing about this in the comments yesterday. Phil should really try to find a set, 8 or 9 man rotation. Although I saw an old Bulls finals game (against the Suns, ’93) and Phil was going to the 11th and 12th guys on the team, so its not too “un-Phil” like of a move.

  68. Loved Kobes intesity last night, but not sure why he was so pumped every time he scored off Battier? I mean, I know what everyone was saying after game one, but he is Kobe Bryant and he’s done this against better players then Battier. It doesn’t seem like Battier is doing any trash talking. Also, he was shaking his head and saying “he can’t guard me” before all the rough stuff started.
    Just curious if anyone has some insight on this?

  69. Totally agree Kurt. Definitely a foul on Kobe, though it was clearly also in the refs discretion to call the foul on Artest first since he was leaning all over him before the elbow.

  70. I enjoyed last night’s game, especially the W. I didn’t enjoy the unnecessary roughness and drama. With that said though I’m glad for the incidental or not so incidental message that it sent, that the Laker squad will not be pushed around and contrary to being “soft,” they can be rough too.

    I disagree with how Fish initiated the “toughness” and I’m not sure I agree that it was a flagrant 2, but considering the tension in the moment that was probably a good decision by the refs to get him out of there. With that of course comes a suspension. That’s fine. I would however be very unhappy if Kobe got suspended too. A fine would be alright, but a suspension would be a terrible call since it was part of the play. If they’re not going to give Rondo a flagrant for punching Miller in the face while he’s up in the air or for throwing Hinrich into the table in back to back games, then Kobe should not get suspended.

    It was good to see Farmar out there. He wasn’t great but he wasn’t hurting the Lakers too much. I like that both Farmar and Brown were out there at one point. It was an interesting line-up though I hope that Phil tightens his rotation a little. This is the 2nd round of the playoffs afterall and not a game in October. No more Powell. If our bigs are in foul trouble I would rather see Mbenga in there then Powell.

    I’m disappointed by Bynum’s attitude. Dude plays like he’s entitled to minutes when he often looks lost and uninterested. Besides brief moments of denial plays on Yao, he didn’t play much defense or bother to rebound much in his brief moments out on the floor.

    Overall I think this series just got a whole lot more interesting. Go Lakers!

  71. Thank you, wondahbab. A real basketball comment. I agree about PJ’s rotations. For one, and I know this may annoy the group, but I think he needs to decide right now if Bynum is going to start or come off the bench for the rest of the playoffs. This shuffling is hurting Bynum and ending it will promote stability with Pau and Odom. With the potential teams left, we’re not gaining any clear advantages either way. It’s about offensive execution for us now, anyway.

    About the backcourt rotations, I think PJ is having some trust issues with Farmar, and to a smaller degree, Fisher. He doesn’t seem to want to totally give up on Jordan yet. That’s fine, but I think playing Fish, Farmer, Sasha, and Brown is the wrong way to go. 1 or 2 of them needs to take a seat and I’m not sorry to say that Sasha should definitely get the short straw. At this point, I’ve had enough of “fake hustle”. While he’s done a great job of giving himself nicknames, perpetuating the myths that he’s an effective on ball defender and a great shot maker, he has consistently failed in all areas and does little to actually help this team. It’s time to draw a line.

  72. Wow, I’m just reading the Rocket fan posts here and they sound like Celtic posts….if they body up and play a hard game it’s “that’s NBA play-off basketball.” But when our vets step up and punk them, they whine and flop…
    Last night, I saw Fish and Kobe answering the play on the floor. I’m reminded that the hoodlumism we’re seeing on the floor in all the series is evocative of a past era of NBA hoops. In the day, a player got mugged so we send our enforcer out for retaliation. I thought the league was beyond that. But watching the Celts/Bulls and Orlando games. I guess that’s where we are today. Right now I’m seeing throw back basketball. And I guess we can all tut-tut when we have another kermit w. type play–that was tough basketball…That’s not where the league wants to go, I would assume, but that’s what’s going to be the reality. You mug people there will be pay back. If that’s what the Lakes have to do to mix it up and win, we can mix it up and win…and bless Fish and Kobe for laying the parameters down.

  73. Bynum has a bad habit of guarding his man with his back to the hoop rather than boxing him out with his face toward the hoop. Thus, his rebounding numbers are down.

    Again, by what I see, dude values scoring more than rebounding and defense. In other words, he wants to be Amare Stodomaire rather than Dwight Howard. Just notice how much more active he is on offense than on defense.

  74. Clutch- Bynum only seems to be “into it” when he is scoring. He needs to realize that he can have an impact on the game by rebounding on both ends, altering shots and finishing around the hoop. This seems all so basic, but, Drew really seems to give up when he doesn’t get a few buckets early. We could really use him, he would provide us another dynamic.

  75. If they are not getting effective minutes out of Bynum, then Powell needs to play – he is a much better choice than Mbenga, who doesn’t fit in well in the offense and picks up fouls quickly.

  76. I didn’t actually see the game, but looking at the highlights leads me to the following conclusions:

    1) Kobe’s throwing of an elbow should have been called as a foul, maybe even a Flagrant 1, but it is not deserved of a suspension. The fact that nothing was called during the game was an officiating error and Artest was thrown out of the game because of his reaction to that. Nothing that can be done about that now, though.

    2) Fisher deserves a 1 game suspension – his foul was hard, blatant and obvious. Scola flopped a little, but I still think the foul was a deserved of the punishment it received.

  77. Kwame, I agree. Similarly, Lakers fans, take a deep breath, be happy you took game 2, stop whining about trivial matters and let’s move on.

    I am neither a Lakers nor Rockets fan. Someone in an earlier post called this forum “educated.” An educated forum talks about tactics, strategy, what needs to happen to win. I think I can count on one hand how many comments on this post are not whining and jabbing back and forth about fouls and flagrants, suspensions and “dirty play.” This reads more like an online chat room between tweens rather than a forum on BASKETBALL where people actually analyze the game. What most of you lack is a love and appreciation of the game. It seems all anyone cares about is being “right.” Why surmise what will happen when it’s not up to you? It’s up to Stu. And when everyone finds out I’m sure you’ll all have some kind of problem with it and another forum will be dedicated to grilling Stu, the league, and the refs.

    Anyone in here want to talk basketball?

  78. As for Fish, ask yourself this in all honestly Lakers fans: let’s say Kyle Lowery does that exact same thing to Lamar Odom. What is your reaction to that? Would you say a suspension is warranted and it was “a good idea” to send a message to the Lakers? Just curious.

    Compared to everything else that has been done by other teams in this playoff series? If Lowry does that to Lamar, give him a flagrant 1 and let him keep playing. Someone from the Lakers will probably foul him hard in a few minutes, to make it clear that we won’t let you bully us, but no, I would not want to see Landy suspended for a game for doing to Lamar what Fish did to Scola.

    It’s the playoffs. Let them play. The Rockets play hard and physical basketball, and that’s fine, as long as you allow others to play you the same way. If you read through a lot of the comments here you will probably notice that most Laker fans, at least here at FB&G, who are upset at this situation, are actually upset at what we learned to hate about the Cletics last year: They tackle, shove and throw elbows, and the moment someone hints they will do the same thing back, they scream in pain and terror and complain to the refs about dirty play.

  79. M,

    re:”I get the Bruce Bowen’s and Shane Battier’s: sometimes you have to have that bag of tricks to compensate for a lack of natural talent. But Kobe? It comes across as cheap and surly.”

    How does that make sense? Because they aren’t as good, it’s okay for them? Do you think Jordan was dirty? Kobe won’t back down from anyone. That’s how it should be taken.

    VI Guy,

    re: “Wow, I’m just reading the Rocket fan posts here and they sound like Celtic posts…”

    Seriously? Go read the Dream Shake. they are crying an awful lot. We’re just stating the obvious. You want to come here? Fine. But just remember you are 1-5 against us. Where does this confidence Rockets fans have come from?

    Back to basketball (again)….

    Clutch,

    Bynum is on the bench FOR GOOD.

    I think if LO started Game 1, we come out with better energy. We have no flow on offense right now, and defensively, Drew is on edge. He’s getting whistled for everything, so he’s playing with hesitation.

    Did any one notice Luke did a better job against Artest than Ariza did?

  80. All you talking about Kobe deserving a Foul/Flagrant/Suspension, look at the picture in Post 63, and then tell me if you believe the same about Artest. He had his elbow on Kobe’s neck!

  81. 78. I have grown pretty weary of the debate, but just haven’t had time to put together the Xs/Os post yet. That’s my fault for burying the lead about how the Lakers defense forced turnovers and let them run, which was the big key.

  82. VI Guy,

    I apologize. I didn’t read fully. I take that back. I though you were a Rockets fan. That’s what I get for skimming.

  83. @Mimsy

    I’ll admit I’m pleasantly surprised that this is one of the more even-handed boards around. Alot of team boards blindingly swear allegiance and justify anything short of murdering or raping (oops, couldn’t resist ;-) ) someone. So fair play to all you Lake fans here. That being said, I think we should differentiate between dirty, thuggish and physical because those words are being used rather interchangeably and they are decidedly different styles.

    I read dirty as exemplified by Bruce Bowen: the little, subtle moves that most won’t notice but get under your skin. Stepping under someone’s shot, grabbing someone’s sack, you should all be familiar with this. Another example was Robert Horry’s hip-check of Steve Nash a couple of years ago. Subtle but completely unnecessary and does more to unnerve someone.

    I read thuggish as just blatantly physical to the point that you are aware that your actions could directly physically harm someone. Pulling them down on a dunk, shoving them hard in the back on a lay-up. I’m sure we’ve seen those examples around the league, but honestly we haven’t seen those this series. That being said, what Fish did is in the grey area outside here…I only give him the benefit because he almost never does that type of play. But in all honesty, he sees Scola coming, winds up and takes steps toward him cocked to unwind. If that were a semi-frequent occurrence then he would be thuggish in play. In other words, give Fish another extra step and let him use more than his forearm (read: fist), and its Kermit Washington-esque.

    Physical is what the Rox did to LA in Game 1 and what LA did to the Rox in Game 2 (3rd and 4th quarters): they played on the person, didn’t give them space to dribble or suffocate the paint. There were many, many instances where someone from the Rox would get the ball to try and set up a play and have to turn their back to to the defender give themselves some space. There were plenty of other instances where 2-3 players from each team were working hard for rebounds. THAT is great physical defense.

    So would we agree those are fair (albeit very generalized) definitions that we could use when discussing this? All things being equal, I’d much rather talk strategy than physicality.

  84. “Did any one notice Luke did a better job against Artest than Ariza did?”

    I mentioned that indirectly upthread.

  85. (78) Nickydubs,

    It happens when fans of both teams start debating. It’s everywhere. We’re reading and listening to these same things.

    I agree with Kurt, it is tired.

    What should be discussed now is Yao looking like the Yao from our regular season match-ups. PJ’s substitution patterns. Ron Artest looking great all of a sudden. Landry killing us. The Lakers retaking the game in the 2nd half, and Kobe playing spectacular.

  86. This discussion has been more than exhausted. The Lakers won because we forced turnovers, rebounded, and got out on the break. Even though the Rockets played well and hung in there, we were the better team at the end of the day. All of this stuff about toughness and dirt play is irrelevant nonsense.

  87. Luke is a better option at defending Artest than Ariza. Artest uses his size and strength to bully his way to the hoop, Walton is bigger and stronger than ariza so he does a better job of handling this. Also Walton doesn’t need a second defender to help when Artest posts him up, Ariza does which leaves shooters open.

  88. FYI, I really like Hollingers post he just put up regarding the Lakers situation for Game 3. Its something I touched on earlier that was unfortunately lost in all the other rough and tumble. Namely, Kobe is the straw that stirs the Lakers drink.

    Considering the amount of effort and energy he has had to expend over the past two games, and assuming (its a pretty safe bet) the remaining games retain their physical defensive characteristics will the Lakers face a situation where he either doesn’t have the energy to defend and score and so therefore sacrifices one for the other? Also, will it come at the expense of involving the rest of the team? I will say too many times when Kobe started going off offensively everyone else seemed to be standing around. Obviously I don’t follow the Lakers but is that a fairly common phenomena? If so, who can consistently play the second or third banana that Kobe needs?

  89. 78-

    The Xs and Os are a big part of the game, and this site is more well-versed on that than most. But there are other aspects to the game, not covered by Xs and Os, and there is nothing wrong with talking about those aspects.

    The Lakers made many adjustments, several of which (pace, Farmar getting burn to deal with Brooks, involving Gasol in the offense) were noted and anticipated here before Game 2.

  90. I want to echo the point made about that second unit on the floor late in the 4th qtr last night, Luke Farmar, LO, Sasha and Kobe, they were bringing it on D, at one point they created 3 straight turnovers, resulting in 3 fast breaks, (not all in baskets) but that was, in my opinion, the turning point, the back breaking point of the game. that was the dagger, game over.

    also, now with Fish (apparently) out for game 3, this kind of works for me on a higher level…
    I would assume game 3 goes to the Rockets anyway, first game back at home, all riled up over what they perceive as “dirty play” and come out extremely motivated, and aggressive.
    for me, I’m happy with a split in Houston, and would prefer to win the second in that 2 game series, ie; game 4. Win that one, come back home with some “mo”, and now we have-
    a 3 game series with Home Court Advantage back with us, 2 out of the 3 games at home.
    we win game 5 at home, and close out the series in game 6 on the road.
    wouldn’t that be nice, eh?

  91. NickyDubs – fyi, don’t see much bball analysis in your post either.

    As for tightening the rotation – Phil wants (almost) every player to get into the game at some point, to give them opportunities to succeed in this playoff atmosphere. If you tighten the rotation and push Powell, for example, out of the picture, then it’ll be unlikely that he performs well if/when we have to turn to him in a critical situation.

    Best part about playoff basketball – the carry over of emotion from one game to the next. Never got this interesting for the Lakers in the first round, that’s for sure. Should be a fun series to watch.

  92. #84, M,
    A lot of the credit for the level-headed and informed discussion here really should go to Kurt and the fact that he moderates the comments closely. All fan-bases have their trolls and rabid loyalists, and Lakers fans are not exempt from these phenomena (though we of course would like to think we are). Kurt deletes a lot of comments every day, especially during Game Chats, and that goes a long way towards maintaining a civilized and atmosphere.

    To answer your question in #89, yes, it’s a very common problem that when Kobe goes into what I like to call his “assassin mode” and begins trying to take over, the rest of the team has a tendency to stand back and let him do it. They know he can, they’ve seen it before, and if you keep following this blog you’ll notice that a lot of us dislike that over-reliance on Kobe to bail them out towards the end of games. Both Lamar and Pau have the necessary tools to do the same thing, but they rarely do. Kobe is the Alpha Male of the team, so they defer to him, which is not always a good thing.

  93. I don’t know about the rest of you, but reason I thought the Lakers played tough wasn’t because of Fisher’s foul. Watch the start of the 4th quarter, after the short flurry of fouls; our guys came out and played locked-in, solid team defense and forced 3 turnovers in a row. Coming from Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, and Shannon Brown on the perimeter, this was a sight to see. The Lakers didn’t seem tougher because of Fish’s foul; they played tougher, putting together good stretches of solid, hard defense.

    I agree with call of a flagrant two and Fisher’s pending suspension: what he did was intentional and purposeful. That being said, it did send a message that the Lakers were not going to cave under the physicality of the Rockets. A couple Rockets fans brought up the point, “What if Lowry had done this to Odom?” If that were the case, I would’ve advocated for a flagrant two and a one-game suspension, which Fisher is going to get, and deservedly so.

    About the Artest-Kobe scuff up, it was obvious that both guys were locked up. Artest was all over Kobe’s back, with a elbow around Kobe’s neck and shoulder area. Note that this came before Kobe threw the elbow at Artest. This is where the foul was called, this is where play ended. As a natural continuation, Kobe tried to push Artest off him with a shoulder push, a natural reaction, and Kobe’s elbow came across and hit Artest in the high shoulder/neck area. However, that’s not when the foul was called; it was called on the previous play when Artest elbowed Kobe in the head/shoulders.

    The Rockets fans are crying as if there was some massive injustice done unto them. Other than the Artest ejection, I don’t see it. Fisher is paying his price, Kobe will probably get assessed a flagrant for his contact after the foul called on Artest. Even Artest being ejected was wholly his own fault, so I can’t see how Rockets fans can complain when Artest purposefully ran across the court and got into Kobe’s body.

    That being said, I look for more minutes for Walton on Artest, perhaps taking a good portion of Ariza’s minutes. Ariza is simply not strong enough to contain Artest; Luke’s bulk really helps him and his relative speed is enough to keep up with Artest.

    Whoever brought up Josh Powell playing more minutes is insane. Did you see him play yesterday? He was a complete non-factor and a detriment to the team with his lack of rebounding and interior defense on Scola/Landry. Both him and Bynum should have their minutes replaced by Mbenga, who will at least come out with some energy and give us a rebounding presence, unlike Bynum and Powell.

  94. M, Kobe will be fine as far as energy goes, with one day breaks between games. I know Hollinger is worried, but Hollinger had made a career out of second-guessing how good Kobe really is.

  95. I’m weary of the foul/tough/dirty talk as well. So…

    *Bynum: I actually think he played okay (or even better than that). He does need to rebound better, and that was something that several of us mentioned during his minutes in the 2nd half. But, he fought hard on defense against Yao and continued the effort that Gasol had started in fronting and battling Yao for every inch. That led to a foul or two, but he was trying pretty hard. He also “showed” much better on Guard penetration than in the last game and even had a nice block on the right baseline when Lowry(?) shot a jumper right at the end of the clock (Yao got the follow, but that’s not on Drew). Overall, I thought he did 3/4th’s of what he needed to do – but he does need to hit the glass harder against Hayes/Scola/Landry. I’m not ready to say he turned the corner, and it’s obvious that he’s not near himself physically (that missed alley oop where he not only didn’t dunk buy blew the lay up), but I was slightly encouraged by how he was moving around before he picked up that pushing foul on Yao that triggered Gasol’s return to the game. I hope ‘Drew can build on those little successes he had last night.

    *Kurt brought up us forcing TO’s and how that led to easy baskets and a faster pace. However, I think this game was won based off the work that we did on Yao. We fronted him, pushed him further out to make catches, and then doubled him hard which forced him to pass. Houston’s wing players helped us out a great deal by not looking for Yao on the re-post (as Dwyer explained so well over at BDL), but often times those wing players were up against the clock and went into a bit of panic by forcing jumpers and driving into traffic (and all because of the work we had done throughout the possession). As I mentioned in the last thread, if we can continue to make Yao a passer and limit his shot attempts, we’ll put the game on the shoulders of Artest, Brooks, Battier, Landry, Scola, Wafer, and Lowry. And while Artest has shown how good he can really be, he’s always one play away from making himself disappear (as we saw last night). And in the end, I’m more than happy to take my chances against those other guys than to allow Yao to dictate to us. Plus our fronting strategy put our bigs in much better position to help on Guard penetration. If Fish/Farmar/Brown got beat, Gasol/Bynum were in position to help as they were already in front of Yao (most of time at least) and did not allow themselves to get sealed off by his giant frame. This made Guards reverse course and burn more clock. If we can find ways to continue using this tactic even as the Rockets make adjustments, we’ll be in good shape the rest of this series.

    *It’s been discussed already, but I’m so happy that Walton is back. He played good defense on Artest, was active on the glass (do guys remember some of those boxouts?), and inspired movement in our offense with his cutting and passing. There was a great sequence where he received a pass on the wing on a ball reversal and whipped a pass inside to a cutter for a layup that was generated off a weakside screen. His instincts for those types of passes is something we missed in the first game. Sure, he missed a lot of open 3′s, but he was better on his mid-range jumper and I thought he really gave us something in the closing minutes of the 4th. Not to mention he really stood up for LO by getting in Scola’s face – nothing dirty mind you – and showing once again that he’s a great teammate.

  96. dblarm_prolene May 7, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    To try and help move the discussion away from the fouls…

    1) In regards to the bench, I also really liked the Farmar/Brown lineup to combat the Brooks/Lowry lineup. Granted, it was only a few possessions, and I think some of their energy came knowing that Fisher was out for the game. When the Rockets go with their big line-up, however, it might be nice to see Phil try and counter with small — something that we almost never see (due to the luxury of having Gasol/Bynum/Odom, and Mbenga/Powell off the bench).

    2) Although I agree with everything previously said regarding Bynum’s psychology and tentativeness, I thought he was extremely effective when fronting Yao in the post. His height and length clearly prevented the post entry pass, and his mobility caused the dribble penetration to shut down as well, resulting in some turnovers. I’m not sure that Pau has the length and athleticism to try fronting Yao, but if Yao starts to have a big game on Friday, I’d really like to see Bynum try and front again.

    3) What’s the solution to the low-post defense at the 3/4 spots? Scola and Artest (and Landry) were completely abusing Odom and Artest on the block. That big second quarter run was largely keyed by interior scoring (and some timely Artest threes). I’m glad that Houston went away from posting their SF/PFs, because I didn’t feel like we had any answer!

    And for the record, I think Fisher should get a suspension and Kobe should not.

  97. I know I have said this before, but aside from the fact his knee is still not 100%, I think Andrew’s biggest problems are in his head right now. He’s dealing with a lot of pressure and expectations, he’s trying to play up to the level he did before he was injured, and he’s trying to find his way back into the rythm of the game, and the general flow of the team as well. It’ll come to him, and frankly, I think the best thing he can do is to stop trying so hard, and instead just go out there and play basketball. Easier said than done, of course.

  98. The best in-game adjustments we saw last night came when Phil had Bynum or Pau begin fronting Yao, with whomever was defending the ball (often Luke) putting pressure on the ballhandler so they couldn’t make the easy pass.

    That’s the kind of Xs and Os moves we need to see from the coaches, not fiddling around with everyone’s minutes.

    The other effective move in the second half was giving Luke more run. The offense flows so much better when he’s on the floor because he makes the right passes, picks and off-the-ball movement, etc. Trevor is the correct starter, but Luke should see a lot of action again this weekend, particularly when the game slows down.

    Farmar and Brown have been a nice way to combat Lowry and Brooks. That offsets the loss of Fish, hopefully.

    As for Bynum, say what you will, but I’m not convinced he’s healthy.

    His inability to pogo stick up and down like he’s done in the past is bothersome, and his timing is off a half-second when chasing rebounds. It’s not just a lack of hustle — it’s a lack of trust in the knee and/or the bothersome brace. And anyone who’s played ball after a knee injury knows what I’m talking about.

    Aside from some good frontside D on Yao in the third/fourth quarter of Game 2, he’s been a nonfactor. The less we see of him, the better until he’s got his bounce back. (And if he’s not as close to 100 percent as fans have been told, that hurts the team’s chances down the road this series and later.)

  99. great posts as always on this site. The other factor that I think played into the drama last night – Joey Crawford. He gets way too involved – just ask Tim Duncan. For a while, the Lakers were racking up fouls for every touch. It made no sense but by then Crawford had lost it. It got so bad that Jack NIcholson was screaming..which is pretty rare, but it revs up he home crowd. I agree with the T’s – it sent the message to Walton and everyone else to back down. But Crawford and his crew stirred the pot. I saw Crawford screaming at PJ and Adelman during one of the TV time outs. Is that really necessary?

    Defense was definitely better. Getting early foul trouble for Yao helped. And I agree with Drew on Bynum. The better he plays on the defense, the easier his offense will come to him; too often he wants it the other way around.

    As for Scola, he played for the Spurs, so you know where he learned his tricks from. How many times is he pushing a Laker at the hip or lower when they are making a lay up? How many times is the arm curled around the waist holding a Laker jersey on a pick and roll? It’s part of the game for sure, but you reap what you sow.

  100. Hollinger’s point was as much about about % as about “energy.” Kobe made a lot of tough shots in Game 2, and I agree with JH that Kobe needs to get to the rim more. 16/27 and 12/20 on contested Js are not likely to be the norm, as great as KB is.

    It may be, however, that getting to the rack cannot be done well in the halfcourt set, due to Houston”s “make a wall” strategy and personnel, so it will have to come off the transition game. Walton’s ability to make good entry passes and cut may help with this issue even if if it does not help KB specifically.

    But the point is that the Lakers cannot count on 25/40 from Kobe/Pau every game. They probably need to keep the Rockets around 90 or get some scoring elsewhere to win three more times.

    The Rockets only had 3 or 4 more TOs in Gm 2 than in Gm 1, but it seems like they led to a lot more key Laker points. Maybe someone has the numbers on that.

  101. One issue I haven’t yet seen mentioned is how often last night Houston looked like, if the ball wasn’t in Yao’s hands, they were lost on offense and scrambled to put up any kind of bizarre shot. Specifically, if the ball was still on the perimeter with <13 seconds on the shot clock, the team looks to me like it panics and gives the ball to Artest to freelance. Now a lot of those plays actually led to (more or less unlikely) baskets, but I’m wondering here if anyone else thinks this is going to ‘even out’ in favor of the Lakers over time, assuming Hou is not able to adjust.

    Reposting Yao seems an obvious correction, but I don’t really remember another team – at least another elite team – where I felt the Lakers had such an advantage should they deny the opponent’s offense for the first 10 seconds of the shotclock .

  102. I thought the game appeared to underscore most of the worrisome traits the Lakers showed all season. We do not box out with our bodies, especially Odom, Bynum and Pau, instead relying on our height to secure rebounds. Our defense is inconsistent and thus we tend to pick up more ticky-tack perimeters fouls than a team such as the Rockets who have committed to their style all year long and thus are rewarded by the refs and called for far less holding/grabbing/pushing because of this commitment.
    Offensively, we are a jump-shooting team that lacks the ability to consistently take the ball to the basket with the exception of Kobe and possibly Lamar. But Kobe goes to the basket less than he ever has and Lamar is one of our worst free throw shooters. Outside of those two, if our jumpshots aren’t falling, we struggle to generate offense.
    I believe the NBA is a reputation based league and the playoffs reward teams for the style they commit to for the season. The referee’s drive me absolutely nuts with how little holding the rockets get called for, but I must remind myself that the Lakers earned the reputation of being a less physical defensive team for an entire season. One or two games here and there do not count.
    At this point, if Kobe doesn’t have 11 more games like he did last night, it will be very difficult for the Lakers to win a championship. I’m not sure which role player can step up and we desperately need Sasha/Brown/Jordan/Fisher to begin to consistently knock down perimeter shots.
    I would really like to see a more focused effort to get Kobe, Lamar and Pau the ball on the block where they can draw fouls going to the basket or double teams that leave our shooters with more space. We need to remember to play inside out regardless of who is on the block.
    Quick take on the hard fouls. Fisher deserves to be suspended, it was blatant and a poor decision. Kobe shouldn’t even get fined as Artest mauled him into the position they ended up in (and rightly got a foul called for acting first, which everyone seems to forget)

  103. My bad, HOU did score first in the 3rd. But Lake Show led the rest of the way.

  104. I agree the discussion needs to get back to basketball:

    1) Bynum played good defense against Yao. I think his biggest issue right now, honestly, is that he appears afraid to really jump. I mean, he missed an easy alley-oop at the beginning of the 4th, and he never really “went after” rebounds. He’s playing not to get hurt right now – THAT is the problem.

    2) Powell has given the Lakers some great minutes over the regular season…but the playoffs aren’t the regular season. More importantly, if Phil is going to bring in Powell, it has to be with mostly starters so he can have the benefit of kick-outs when they draw attention away from him. Powell can not have successful runs while playing with the second unit – and Phil should know this by now. He’s best served for spot minutes to give ONE starter a rest.

    3) Walton, despite his cover-your-eyes bad shooting, was a net positive, as Darius said.

    4) Gasol had a terrific game on offense and on the glass…but how about some props for the defense on Yao? He did an absolutely terrific job of fronting him. He pretty much took Yao out of the game.

    5) I thought the Brown/Farmar combo showed promise, but I screamed at the TV when Phil put in the Brown/Farmar/Sasha combo in the 2nd quarter (when the rockets made a run). Sometimes I think Phil throws out line-ups like that just to amuse himself…

  105. Flip you are so on point. Once things got “chippy” you just knew that Joey and the gang would be blowing whistles like crazy. We just need to man up (that’s you Andrew!) and take it to them tomorrow night. That should be the only focus for everyone, especially since Fish will undoubtedly be out.

  106. Anyone else notice that Yao “led” the Rockets with a +/- of -29? I’ve been one of the biggest critics of taking the plus/minus statistic at face value, but it did strike me that we did most of our damage when Yao was on the court, and Houston did most of theirs when Hayes and Landry were in. The +/- numbers bear this out, with Hayes at +15 to lead the Rockets, Landry the second highest with +11. I feel a number of things contribute to this disparity:

    1.) When Yao was in the game, Houston took painstaking effort to get him the ball on every possession. While this is smart in practice, it isn’t so good if it’s taking up 5-10 seconds off the shot clock attempting to get a pass into the post. Pau and Bynum to some extent did a great job fronting Yao and taking away the easy entry pass. This caused a lot of time to get eaten off the clock and led to a lot of ill-advised Artest chuck-shots.

    2.) Our perimeter players really attacked Yao, mostly due to his lack of lateral quickness. However, when Landry and Hayes were in, those two guys were quick enough to shut off the driving lanes, so we were left with pull-up jumpers, which played right into Houston’s plan. When Yao was in the game however, we got a lot of quick offensive fouls on him because he couldn’t get into position quick enough, and we also got a lot of easy baskets when Odom pushed the ball with Gasol running the floor, like we’ve been advocated all series long.

    3.) Hayes and Landry destroyed Bynum and Powell on the boards, with Hayes and Landry combining for 15 of Houston’s 39 rebounds, while Bynum and Powell only grabbed 1 out of our 40, 0 for Powell, and 1 offensive for Andrew. No defensive rebounds for either of them…

    I have a feeling that if Yao had stayed in the game any longer than he had, this may have been a blowout. Our starters really played a strong game, offensively and defensively when Yao was on the floor, whereas our team really struggled when Hayes and Landry were playing. I don’t think this is an aberration; we’ve learned how to counter the Rockets Yao-centric offense. Now we just have to learn how to out-work Hayes and Landry.

  107. Chris J,
    “That’s the kind of Xs and Os moves we need to see from the coaches, not fiddling around with everyone’s minutes.

    The other effective move in the second half was giving Luke more run. The offense flows so much better when he’s on the floor because he makes the right passes, picks and off-the-ball movement, etc. Trevor is the correct starter, but Luke should see a lot of action again this weekend, particularly when the game slows down.

    Farmar and Brown have been a nice way to combat Lowry and Brooks. That offsets the loss of Fish, hopefully.”

    Paragraph 1 contradicts paragraph 2 and 3.

  108. Good stuff, Kurt. Uh, where do you get in-game sabermetrics? I’ve tried to check 82games.com but I seem to get lost, lol. Thanks in advance for the help!

  109. Joe

    Thanks for the correction on Scola’s team history.

    As for intent…I think you’re confusing Fisher with Kobe. Fisher intentionally banged Scola. There’s nothing that suggests that Kobe intentionally aimed for the throat, or whether he actually did hit Artest in the throat.

    Scola intentionally grabs jerseys and intentionally pushes when guys are under or above the basket.

  110. J-man. I’m sorry- but you’re just wrong IMO. Kobe clearly threw an elbow- it’s like a punch. That’s why the rule is clearly spelled out as it is- and why Howard got suspended. Artest didn’t throw an elbow. He was pushing Kobe with his arms. That’s a normal foul.
    And now you’re comparing an off-arm push with throwing an elbow? His a hand-check the same thing as a punch?

    Scola was in Argentina because of a buyout situation until the Spurs sold his rights to the Rockets. If Scola plays that brand of basketball it has absolutely nothing to do with the Spur’s organization.So I think the whole comment was just a little silly- that’s it.

  111. Flip- I’m not saying Kobe intentionally aimed for his throat- but I think he most definitely intended to throw an elbow.

    I think the way the rule is written is silly. Throwing elbows should be illegal- why does it matter where you hit them? So a player can elbow someone in the kidney without recourse? (This has nothing to do with Kobe- I’m just speaking in general.)

    Anyways- just my two cents.

  112. As for the rest of the game:

    * Andrew is still not right. He doesn’t have any “reactive” lift. He can jump when he gathers himself and can plan what he’s going to do, but he can’t jump at a split-second reaction, which is why I believe he’s been so ineffective on the boards. His head may not be right either, which is somewhat understandable for someone as young as he was. Hopefully both his knee and his head turn the corner, but we’ll see.

    * Good to see Luke out there last night. Luke’s physicality is something that most people under-rate. He’s the one person on the Lakers (aside from Kobe, maybe) who has the mindset to abuse a smaller player in the post – if a switch ends up with a smaller player on him, the first thing he does is post them up. He also doesn’t mind a lot of contact for someone who’s supposedly a finesse player, so RonRon is a good match for him. He probably needs to tone down the three-taking right now, but otherwise it’s easy to see the positive impact he has on the offense.

  113. I’ve seen the under-the-basket video of the Kobe elbow (Jalen Rose does the play-by-play on it).

    I changed my earlier view and I think that the video clearly shows that the elbow DID NOT hit Artest on the neck. So I’ve been proven wrong on that item. In fact, maybe there was a bit of flopping on Artest’s part.

    However, what still concerns me with respect to potential fallout is that Artest was not drapped over Kobe at the time he swong the elbow as some of you seem to think. If you look at the video closely, it looks more like he was taking a cheap shot at Artests chest.

    I’m not going to argue whether it merits a suspension or not as I don’t think Kobe will be suspended over that. However, what scares me is that the refs may be extra vigilent on him next game and he may be subject to ejection if the exact same scenario repeats itself.

  114. Omg, turns our Ron Artest’s story about his friend being stabbed with a table leg might be true.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1991/04/15/nyregion/player-dies-in-stabbing-at-basketball-game.html

  115. Zephid – there’s also independent corroboration by Lamar:

    Artest’s peculiar postgame quote about a contentious playground game in which one of his childhood friends died from a table leg thrown through his heart was brought up to another of Artest’s childhood friends from New York, Lamar Odom.

    ‘Odom said the incident happened in upstate New York, not near their New York City home and “a riot broke out.” About the strange situation, Odom cited the death and said: “There’s nothing funny about that at all.”’

  116. If Kobe gets suspended for that elbow, the playoffs would have to end this weekend. There will not be enough players left to play after suspending everyone who shoved someone with an elbow. That sort of elbow gets thrown out every game under the rim. And by almost every player. Try to watch next game how often that kind of thing happens. This is ridiculous. How the media is crying out for suspending Kobe or even discussing that foul. That was a non-event had Artest not made a big fuss about it.

    In my opinion, it actually plays to Kobe’s favor. Artest and Battier have been getting away with a lot of physicality against him. Now they might find that a little difficult with all the attention they have brought onto the situation.

    And to your point, Joe A, throwing elbows is illegal. The problem is that players get hit with elbows very often for the league to enforce it, several times a game in fact.

  117. Can we please stop talking about who was more vicious of Kobe and Artest? In the end it really doesn’t matter, we have no impact on the league’s decision, and it’s a silly argument anyway.

    Chris J,
    Good points on Bynum, that I had over-looked. I haven’t seen a lot of posts about how he needs to get back to trusting his knee, in addition to the knee needing to heal fully, but that’s something that also takes some time. Given that, we may want to give him until the next series before we start expecting him to be his normal old self?

  118. Fisher suspended for 1 game and Kobe received a flagrant one. That’s what the Lakers.com Tweeter says.

  119. From Bynum’s comments today, his problems are all mental:

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-spw-lakers-web7-2009may07,0,5607358.story

    Also, his knee won’t be 100% until the off-season, which doesn’t really bode well for the rest of the playoffs. I agree with others in that Lamar should be a permanent starter now – from just the naked eye, the team seems to play better that way than when Pau / Bynum are starting. Hopefully finalizing his 2nd unit status will be the first step to removing whatever mental blocks he’s currently suffering from.

    What I don’t understand is why he was so good and aggressive out of the gate and now so tentative. Were the first 4 games just adrenaline-fueled, and now his knee is wearing down under the playoff stress?

  120. Zephid- Arest told that story on his video blog a few months ago too. His video blog is one of the most unintentionally humorous and entertaining things on the web.

  121. It’s official (title, no story link yet):

    http://espn.go.com/nba/

    Fish won’t play, Kobe will.

  122. I was thinking last night that “now we have a series.” Then I see it as the headline for the story. If Kobe gets suspended it’s a freaking joke. First of all, Artest was shoving him in the back of the head beforehand. Kobe didn’t even hit him in the chin, he hit him in the chest. Secondly, 20 years ago this wouldn’t even have been a story, it’s just playoff basketball. Of course, that was before the Knicks-Heat bench clearing brawl and yes, Ron Artest, jumping into the stands to beat up fans. Fisher shouldn’t be suspended either. Yes, he deserved his ejection, but it should end there. Scola was acting like a jerk and deserved to get popped. I’m glad Fisher had the guts to send a message.

  123. Of course just after I type this, I read the previous email. Sorry to waste your time. I still think Fisher getting suspended is crap, but I think we’ll be ok. He looked a bit slow last night trying to keep up with the Rockets’ point guards, but just when you count Derek Fisher out, he hits a big three like he did last night in our rally. The man is still money when it counts.

  124. Fish was pretty good on Brooks yesterday – funneling him into our bigs, fighting through screens, and successfully stripping the ball from him early. We’ll miss his defensive savvy if not his footspeed.

  125. Any other Laker fans living in TX going to the games in Houston?

  126. The fact is that Rojon(I was going for the ball)Rondo got more star treatment than Kobe(at least in these playoffs), he is in the same league as Lebron(1 foul/48) Jame!!

    who are we to judge…*sigh

  127. Looks like Alston suspended as well – if we thought Farmar as bad (up until last night), Rondo is going to light up Anthony Johnson like a Christmas tree…

  128. I was going to wait for the X’s and O’s post, but Hollinger talked about that in one of his better pieces:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=PERDiem-090507

    He basically raises some points that worried me as well. For one, Kobe was on fire, but I agree that he was still taking the shots Houston wants him to take. It’s very, very unlikely he can shoot those kind of shots at that torrid pace two more times. Our outside shooters have to connect.

    My other worry is that Phil won’t change a ton. It worked in Game 2 but Adelman’s too good of a coach, we have to anticipate the adjustments they’ll make with Yao and Scola and have a counter ready.

    The team that’s playing right now is essentially the team we played with the last couple months of the season. As Barkley said (I wince paraphrasing Charles), our “missing piece” is just missing right now. A 15-10 with solid defense sure would change the complexion of this series, but I guess we’ll have to be patient. I wonder how much of Bynum’s struggles are physical and how much are mental at this point.

  129. From a non-basketball standpoint, it was fun to see Farmar/Brown/Vujacic against Brooks/Lowry/Wafer. That 3-guard matchup was about as mirror identical as you’ll see in this league. From a Lakers standpoint, it was an awful line-up because our 3 were completely outplayed.

    I’m happy that Sasha didn’t force any shots. His shot selection was a lot better, him realizing that if he’s not open, he’s a lot less effective. We have to find ways to get him open, though. The only shot I can remember him making, he was free because of a massive Bynum pick.

  130. Sorry for the multiple posts, but Kelly Dwyer basically voiced in a much more eloquent way what I was trying to say about Kobe:

    “He has to become a force beyond a dribble-dribble-dribble pull-up guy. He can get his 35 while working off the ball, flashing quickly, setting screens, and using Houston’s aggressiveness against itself. We’ve seen him do it before. He was awesome tonight, but he knows better. He knows he can’t keep this sort of superhuman play up. Nobody has ever done it. Not even Jordan…
    …you know my frustration with the 20-footer by now (they went in on Wednesday, didn’t go in on Monday, and he has a history of making less than his usual amount against Battier), and they were out of the confines of the Triangle.”

  131. Stu Jackson is a joke! Suspending Rafer Alston.. really??? Rondo hit two different guys pretty severely in two different games in the series against Bulls. Got away with a combined flagrant 1 for both those. Now Rafer slaps Eddie on the head, which was not even a hard foul. And not only does he get a flagrant 2, he gets suspended for the next game as well. Thats a 2-game suspension.

  132. Does anybody know what’s going on with Ariza? It seems he’s lost confidence in his outside shot, but also doesn’t think he has the skills to drive into the heart of the Rockets defense. Is there some physical problem, is it all mental, or is it something the Rockets are doing? Even if he isn’t successful, I’d like to see him make some drives. If nothing else, he might picking up some fouls, and the Rockets don’t have that many to give away.

  133. Regarding the Rockets offense, anyone else think/hope that Artest is bound to cool off from the perimeter once the series shifts to Houston? The guy has been hitting many 22-25 foot jumpers over the last two games that I’ve often seen him miss, including that banked 3 pointer from Game 1.

  134. Joe

    Good point on the elbows, but I think determining intent is the rub. As several posters have said above, I have to tip my hat to Walton. His shot was off, but he still made a difference with some defensive plays. I hope that Farmar, Sasha and ShanWow make the most of their (defensive) opportunity. Too bad about Artest getting tossed. He was unbelievable up to that point. Wonder how he’ll be Friday.

  135. The tangible outcome of last night’s fireworks is obviously important, as any game suspensions will have an impact on the overall series. But I find the mental part of this is fascinating – trying to figure out whether the elbows by Fisher and Kobe are a statement of toughness – that they refuse to be pushed around by a more physical Rockets team. That this behavior, in essence, favors the Lakers in some sort of inspirational way.

    Perhaps this will turn out to be the case, but it got me thinking. Normally, teams that need to prove their toughness are the up-and-comers, the team that is a serious contender, but has to prove themselves against a perennial powerhouse in order to take the next step to greatness.

    In my mind, the Lakers don’t really fit the bill here. This is the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs, having to prove their toughness against a second-round opponent that they dominated during the regular season.

    I guess my question is, why are the Rockets dictating anything to the superior team here? It almost feels like the seeding is reversed, if you believe the chatter coming from both squads.

    Maybe I’m making too much of the whole thing, but I can’t see that being a good thing for the Lakers in the long run.

  136. Coffee is For Closers May 7, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I only saw the 2nd half, but it really looked like fronting Yao was very effective. Looks like he has trouble moving his feet to give the passer a good angle to deliver a pass when he’s fronted. But it also might be a case of him being a bit tentative as he was in foul trouble, and probably wanted to avoid an offensive foul call by using his arms to create space to get a pass. In any event, others mentioned it before the series, and that looks like the best way to defend him.

  137. Alex V: It all comes down to his handle.

    Yeah, Ariza may have improved his shooting (when wide-open), but he definitely has lost confidence after missing a few.

    But Ariza’s not a penetrator. He’s a slasher – he moves well without the ball and can catch and make a move in the paint, but he’s never really been able to take the ball from the 3-point line and drive effectively under pressure. His handle is just awful. I’m sure you’ve seen him fumble the ball often when trying to dribble, or cough it up like he did at the end of the Spurs game. He can drive if not pressured, but with Houston’s converging D, I can’t see him effectively taking guys off the dribble and drawing fouls.

  138. exhelodrvr, I’m glad you’re here to pick apart my every post. Though in this case, you’re correct – I did contradict myself a bit in terms of my remarks on the minutes.

    As I said in response to your remarks last night, my issues with the coaching staff are more geared toward getting this team to play a smart game and stay focused throughout the 48 minutes.

    It’s not all about the inconsistent rotations of who’s on the floor. There are guys who play every night that have been up and down all year. Pau can go from dominant to a ghost from quarter to quarter, as can Odom and Fish and Bynum (pre-injury).

    Maybe that’s just who these guys are, and we’ll have to live with it for better or worse. But that’s the part that’s frustrated me about this team all season, and I keep hoping Phil can break through that impasse at some point.

  139. chickenandwing May 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    I love the fact that fisher does a wrestling move on Scola, I never knew he was that strong. Other than that i just wish our bench would actually play defense when they’re on top. They tend to just ignore defense once they have like 10+ lead. Either that or it is just Bynum being emo lol and not caring….

  140. As a laker fan I believe this series is just what the doctor ordered. Last season the celtics went thru tough series after tough series and fought thru adversity n learned how to handle it with poise and confidence. Where as the lakers as Kobe said “cakewalked” to the finals and when the going got tough they didn’t kno what to do. The role players froze up because they didn’t get enough reps in pressure packed games where the baskets don’t come easy. The lakers had a six game series against an offensive minded jazz team which played a rough brand of basketball but the lakers offense always had it’s way until they ran into the celtics. This year the lakers have a great tough defensive minded Houston ball club who are going to bring the best out of this Lakers team and make them realize that when the points are harder to come by they must give a consistent effort on D and scrap to pull out wins

  141. Snoopy2006, very much disagree about getting Sasha looks. We don’t need to do anything, his play is all on him at this point. He gets plenty of opportunities at quality shots, he just doesn’t make them. And I doubt he realized anything about shot selection last night. I had a mini rant about him above. Surprisingly, I didn’t get called out on it. It probably got lost in the evil elbows, who’s dirty or not hoopla.

    Alex V, everything Snoopy said. And Ariza is not the person we NEED to start putting pressure on their d with drives. That honor belongs to Kobe.

    Andres, I’m patiently waiting for RonRon to cool off. So far, I anticpated his emotions getting the better of him. I was not expecting him to consistently make the shots he’s making. He’s T-Mac-lite right now. That has to stop.

  142. Great Googly Moogly May 7, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Disclaimer: I’ve been a Laker fan since the early 80’s.

    I see Rockets as a poor man’s Celtics – which doesn’t bode well. Let’s take a look at this. Boston is built around their defense and their tough bench. Their game isn’t pretty but they did all the little things from scrapping for loose balls to setting the right picks to free up their spot up shooters.

    Boston and Houston have a lot of similar players too:

    Artest = Pierce (too strong for Ariza)
    Scola = Perkins (scrappier than Pau/Odom)
    Landry = Powe (stronger than Powell)
    Wafer = House (better shooter than Sasha)

    Plus they have Yao creates matchup problems on both sides of the ball (similar to KG). The only player key player I haven’t mentioned is Battier, who actually acts more like a Bruce Bowen or Tayshaun Prince type.

    Lakers are more talented but the Rockets might be a bad matchup for this team unless they can get more production out of unfamiliar places (Bynum, Fisher, Bench).

    I’m not a Laker hater. I’m just trying to keep it real.

  143. It would be nice if the Lakers can bring it and have a statement game like the LaCrabs are having right now with the Hawks. Just pure abuse – up 30+ at end of 3rd. I wonder if they’ll hold the lead.

  144. @ 139 – Yusuf, I very much agree with you as far as the battle-tested philosophy goes. And to go even further, consider the Cavs’ path to the finals. Broussard on ESPN is even considering the possibility of an undefeated road to the finals. They beat a hopeless Pistons squad and are now playing an undermanned, mediocre (by the standards of a “good” playoff team) Hawks team. They have yet to see a competitive game. The extent to which that is their credit is up for judgment.

    They will play either Boston or Orlando next round. The Magic seem to be the most formidable team they will see going into the finals, and they still don’t look like they “have it”. I see too much inconsistency. Boston will not have a chance w/o Powe and KG. Regardless, they should beat either within six games.

    Basically, kind of a role reversal from last year in which we strolled along and Boston got great playoff experience along the way. Hopefully the theme will end with the same result, the more battle-tested team being better prepared to win it all.

    Assuming we get past Houston, Denver will be a great test. I personally think they are a more dynamic, talented team than Cleveland, but the Cavs more than make up for it w/ defense, knockdown shooters, and Mr Bron Bron

  145. magic,

    Again, comparing Houston to Atlanta is like heaven and earth. Plus, Atlanta has no Williams and Horford, so if anything, I’d expect Cleveland to win each game by huge margins seeing as Atlanta effectively doesn’t have a bench past Flip Murray.

    Either Atlanta or Miami would have been lucky to push for a game against Cleveland. Maybe two for Miami if Wade’s back wasn’t bothering him.

  146. funny how this toughness stuff is being played out. I really don’t think toughness has anything to do with hard fouls, especially from Fisher or Kobe.

    If anything, those ‘hard fouls’ need to come from Sasha, Mbenga, Farmar and others who we can afford not playing, and more importantly, those that need some extra firing up.

    Our vets are tested and proven, although they may show their fortitude in team-harming ways…

  147. the other Stephen May 7, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    today, i decided to go play basketball instead of watching the hawks-cavaliers game, and boy was it worth it. even as a student in atlanta, i really think they should’ve lost back in round 1. their defense is so atrocious.

  148. I am just amazed at the level-headedness and the attempt at being sober, rational and analytical by our folks here. This has to be one of the better discussion entries in a while and granted the emotional hoopla the past games, that says a lot about the fans here though some, like me, have the freedom to go nuts and be emotional at will. Hey, fans are fans. People are people.

    Kudos Kurt. Do we have a network or something where we see each other? Not necessary, but I have no idea who I talk with on this site. I like M (is he new?) posts here. Welcome to the forum. Darius, Gatinho (where art thou?) keep it up. A lot of notables here. Shows we fans think unlike a lot of Laker lovers out there who should take a pill before posting.

    Since everything I have to say has been said, just some cents: houston will give it all they got but not because they feel they can beat us easily now but because they feel we’re coming to a brawl and we’re capable of taking game 3 if they are not careful. fish will be missed but i see this as an opportunity for farmar and brown. i am not so confident in vujacic’s shot but am still faithful to the day he pulls off 2 straight playoff games of good game. phil has been rather experimental and i think he overlooked a thing or two. expect that to change. it seems that he has frustrated to the point of owning adelman the past years. bynum needs some swagger in his game because he is being conservative and passive. i hope pau just plays consistent 20-10 basketball. if any, he should just focus on guarding yao, kobe will not be stopped. need i mention that? GO LAKERS! (off to star trek)

  149. oh and i stand corrected in my old post where i said atlanta and houston are not worlds apart. bcr noted that horford and williams are out and that i did not know of still holding true. that’s like their whole frontline not named josh smith. and true, their bench needs some work.

    if this only means that we will be like a battle-tested boston last year entering the finals against a fairly easy-going-to-the-finals cleveland then that’s like us against boston (and you know who the analysts are raving about this postseason)

  150. 143

    It would be nice if the Lakers could play Atlanta – a team that wouldn’t make the playoffs out West – in the second round.

  151. Drew Andrekopoulos May 7, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    I love that Cleveland is just sliding through the playoffs like butter.. While the Lakers are fighting it out! Very similar to Boston and the Lakers last year… We had it easy, Boston did not.. i think the results will be the same this year! Lets fight, pull, dig down deep inside, and bring home a championship!

  152. All Fisher did was run through a pick, that is a foul and that is it.

  153. Let’s cut to the chase Laker fans. The Lake Show has for the majority of the first two games been as flat as a Shaq freethrow. It took (one step slower) Fish to give our guys a push. Actually it should have been one of our “bench slobs” err “bench mob” to put the shiver to Scola. In any case Fish is a spectator tomorrow and we shall see how the cards play out.

  154. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/columns/story?page=ScoutingRocketsLakers3

    Thorpe with another pretty insightful preview of Game 3. The point about putting Bynum on Landry and Odom on Hayes, a non-offensive threat, to allow Odom to roam and help on drives seems particularly apt. If we can continue to take Yao out of his game and set up Gasol against him on the pinch post, then that’s a major edge for us going forward.

  155. Are the hawks this bad or are the cavs gods?

  156. 155 – I haven’t watched the series, but my guess is the Hawks are just bad. Especially missing so many key players.

    That’s not said to underestimate the Cavs at all. Those guys come to play every single night. People used to criticize Lebron for an apparent lack of a killer instinct. But I think the Cavs are showing you can be loose and joke around, and still have some killer focus on the basketball court.

  157. Samy,

    A bit of both. Atlanta is missing two key starters in Horford and Williams, LeBron is torching whoever is guarding him, and either Mo Williams or Delonte West is torching Atlanta whenever they force Mike Bibby to defend. All that said, Atlanta honestly wasn’t that good to begin with. This is a team that doesn’t compare to Phoenix despite all the troubles they had this season; in other words, the four seed down in the East wouldn’t make the playoffs in the West.

  158. 153.

    fisher didn’t just run thru a pick. he ran thru.. lowered an elbow.. and raised it as he made contact.. it was intentional. and i love it.

    i love how no one talks about artest elbow being in kobe’s face in the picture attached to this article..

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4150159

    honestly.. whose elbowing who there?

  159. Warren Wee Lim May 8, 2009 at 4:05 am

    Props to Chris H for putting in the very 1st post for me…

    I saw somewhere in the comments saying Lakers in 6… well, I disagree. Lakers in 5.

    After the emotion of game 2, and my apparent lack of enthusiasm despite the drama (due to a freakin flu, not swine of nature LOL) I have reason to believe that the Lakers will come out with the better purple cloth in game 3.

    Emma (where are you girl, I miss your inputs) calls this blinding faith of mine. But my gut feel just refuses to let me believe that the Lakers will lose in Game 3. There’s just no chance.

  160. mike – It’s open to interpretation, but if you look at the actual video, Artest is more using his arm for leverage and pushing on Kobe. He doesn’t actually “throw” the elbow, the way Kobe threw it back into him. Then again, it is an elbow close to the head, so maybe that should be punishable too. I’m sure the NBA saw it, though, and if they thought there was anything wrong they would have announced it.

  161. That’s a strange article over at the Daily Dime, but I have to say, this Cavs team is the first of seen of its kind, personality-wise. Everything from the team’s antics to the “nameless employees” on the Jumbotron – I’ve never seen an attitude like that, joking around that much, being that good, still being that focused, and everyone loving every minute of it.

  162. I caught up with Game 2 tonight and I’d like to see more of Luke Walton on Ron Artest in Game 3. Artest has been shooting remarkably well and has for the most part been the key to the Rockets offense.

    In the first three quarters, Ariza and Odom were having all kinds of trouble keeping Artest out of scoring position. On more than a few occasions Odom would also be sent across to (ineffectively) double Artest, leading to open Rockets 3-pointers two passes later.

    For the brief time in the 4th that Walton was picking up Artest, Luke did a a good job slowing Artest’s penetration with his physical strength. This lead to Artest over-dribbling and gave our bigs time to converge on Artest in the paint.

    We could also think about putting Kobe on Artest in ball denial mode, but given that Game 3 will likely be called very tightly in the first quarter, I think we should keep that till later in the game.

  163. I have seen several Hawks games in person this year including 2 of the 3 Heat playoff games and basically they are terrible. They really have no set offense and if it’s not a run out or just a pull up 3 they are lost. If at full strength they are just a mess.
    Without question they would not make the playoffs as a Western conference team. Too inconsistent.

  164. The first game reminded me of the 2001 Finals when the Lakers lost their only game to the Sixers after they had 10 days off waiting for the ECF to end. The difference being that the Game 1 win has given Houston confidence. Tonight’s game 3 winner could gain a mental edge to carry them through the series.

    These are both relatively young teams and confidence and what happens between the ears are going to be a commodities that no sabermatrician will be able to measure for us.

    To quote an oft used PJ line, The Lakers must “impose their will” on the Rockets. Kobe is seeing the value of the lessons that his guys can learn in this series, prematurely assuming they make it past the Rockets.

    He referred to last season’s trip to the finals as a “cakewalk”. Think about what Boston went through on their way to the Finals, sure they played more games, but being through the pressure cooker for weeks, versus the comparably easier and less physical road the Lakers took, left the C’s with good “playoff callouses” that the Lakers simply hadn’t formed any and couldn’t grow them fast enough.

    Well, that is officially happening now.

    It seems Cleveland may end up taking a path to the Finals that mirrors the Lakers journey last season.

  165. @163

    Good observation. The whole defense picked up in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Walton locked down Artest, the Lakers created turnovers, and we got some momentum.

    I give credit to Walton, Brown, and Farmar. They did a good job of fighting picks, contesting long range shots, trapping, and clogging the lane.

  166. I was just thinking about Raja Bell’s ridic clothesline on Kobe a couple years ago. That was brutal and didn’t generate near the discussion or handwaving. I would love to hear any opinions on why that is.

  167. I’d say Fish’s hit on Scola was comparable to the clothesline on Kobe – both intentional fouls on a grounded player that looked a lot worse than it was. Both penalties were equivalent as well.

  168. Sorry for the double, but I just thought of this:

    Obviously the main difference was that Raja’s was above the shoulders whereas Fish’s wasn’t. So maybe that’s ground for a lesser penalty?

  169. @wiseolgoat

    True…I think a clothesline on a driving player is far more dangerous and bush league than Fish’s body check. Also there was no flop at all by Kobe, he truly dropped like a sack of potatoes because of the hit. I don’t know that it looked worse than it was. Seemed vicious. Granted, I used to dislike Bell as much as anyone in the league, so I’m biased.

  170. Clutch284 says “. It’s about offensive execution for us now, anyway.”

    Don’t you think it’s really about our defense? That is such a large part of what creates the dynamic offense. When our defense is deflated, we can’t seem to consistently hit shots. The two are never mutually excusive! There’s little chance that some key Rockets are shooting better against us than their norm for any other major reason than defensive let downs/lack of consistent defensive energy.

  171. Everyone, though I love thinking of our Lakers as becoming hardened and battle-tested by adversity, let’s not underestimate or count out the Cavs just yet. Just because the Lakers choked after a cakewalk doesn’t mean everyone else will… And even if it does, to underestimate the Cavs is the biggest help we can give them.

  172. Just some words on Atlanta- The’ve been playing pretty bad this series against the Cavs, and they had those injuries for he second game, but let’s not forget they took Boston to 7 last year.

    And they were 17-13 against the West this year.
    They split their matchups this year 1-1 with the Lakers, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Portland and Utah. They beat NO twice.
    So let’s not pretend that they’re a team with no talent.

    BCR- YOu can’t directly compare records in the East and West because of all the West bottom feeders inflate the records a bit.

    I’ve got to say – I love these FB&G boards because everyone here is so level-headed and get real discussions going. Definitely one of the best NBA forums going. I’ve got to admit I’m not a Laker’s fan first (I’m just an NBA fan first)- so if you ever get tired of me let me know and I’ll slink back into the shadows.

  173. …Woodson is a terrible X’s and O’s coach though. He needs to get an offensive coordinator like Brown did in Cleveland.

  174. Joe A hit the nail on the head w/ regards to the Hawks. I mean they literally don’t look like they run on offense. You can only win so many games based off pure talent.

    Take the deciding game in the Miami series, you have Joe Johnson taking 30-35 foot 3 point shots, fortunately for him they went in and they won the game, but what in God’s name is a player taking those shots for? I’m not bagging on Johnson, he’s a great player, but a coach needs to have an offense that they can go to when their stud cools off.

  175. The Cavs have faced plenty of adversity. Swept by the Spurs, LeBron’s 45 overcoming the Pistons in 7, and barely getting by the Wizards with the Arenas free throw misses. Granted, this is not the same team, but the effects on some of their key players must not be underestimated. Varejao, Gibson, big Z, oh and that one guy. Championship teams go through repetitions. And we can say they’ve put in their reps. In fact, probably more so than us. Let’s not forget the only real run we’ve had is last year where we went deep into the playoffs, whereas the Cavs have been doing it for the past 3-4. They were not as dominant, sure, but now they’ve brought in more hard-nosed, battle tested guys that make shots and could become the last pieces of a championship puzzle. Guys like Wallace, West, and Mo cannot be underestimated. This team plays with fire, with desire. They don’t know what that on/off switch is, they play hard down to every possession. Which means, they won’t be susceptible to any lapses that a lack of adversity would entail.

  176. @Don

    I think they don’t have an on off switch so much as you said- but they do play flat some times for whole games- especially on the offensive end. A couple of the games they did lose this year they basically played flat the whole time.

    The thing with Lebron being the primary scorer and facilitator is that a lot of times they come hand in hand. He’s a little different from Kobe (IMO) that he tends to do both really well or neither really well. (Of course those latter games are few and far between at this point). Kobe, at least when compared to Lebron, tends to either have a big scoring game or a more dustributing focused game.

    So if you stop Lebron’s scoring, he doesn’t distribute as much either because he’ll start forcing it a bit (but than they still have Mo. You don’t win 65 not having a good second option. )But the rest of the team plays flat when those two do.

    (Sorry I’m rambling a bit).

  177. Anyone want to hazard a guess at tonight’s starting lineup? Here’s mine:

    Given that Phil seems, in cases of injury, to promote the #3 guy to #1 to keep the bench rotation unchanged, I’m expecting Farmar to start for the first time in the playoffs since the Smushcalade drove down Olympic Blvd.

    I’ve got two hopes for tonight:

    1. More Luke on Artest
    2. Less Luke and Sasha on the floor at once.

    Oh yes, and GET PAU GOING IN THE LOW BLOCK against Supersasha (Scola)

  178. Don is right. Let’s remember this old adage: You have to lose to a great team before winning a ring. The Cavs and the Lakers lost to the same great team last year. The difference this year is 1) we are going through some worthwhile challenges right now, thereby focusing us on the present moment and 2) we know (and have proven) that we can beat any team, anywhere. We were unproven against the Celtics going into the Finals last year; this year, we know what to expect and what to do.

  179. On another note, I’m very much looking forward to Orl-Bos. It was said that Howard is not a leader, but a follower. When he says, “Our goal is to win a championship,” it almost seems like he doesn’t believe it. His stats seem torrid, but his numbers in wins and losses are identical, suggesting his impact on the game is not very significant for a player of his caliber. The trouble he’s been having on offense is consistent with this. At this point, he is trying too much gimmicky moves and flashy footwork. He needs to stop trying to be like Duncan and be like Shaq. Move people out the way. Simple, go to, fundamental moves instead of fancy ones. Nobody who wants to be called a superstar should be able to be so consistently stopped 1-on-1. Of course, this was game 2. I hope he proves me wrong tonight.

  180. I got curious about how Brandon Roy attacked the Rockets defense, and found this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhzUgZGge74

    Check it out. He reminds me of Kobe’s style when Kobe was younger. These days, Kobe comes off a pick and 80% of the time goes to a pull up or fadeaway. Roy doesn’t settle as much, and weaves his way to the basket most of the time, or at least a midrange floater. In his earlier days, Kobe operated much more in the area btwn the ft line and the hoop and he was deadly. Actually he’s still deadly when he gets into that area.

    Second observation: Yao is not a shot-blocker, at least not in the Mutombo or Mourning sense. Instead of going for blocks, he’s more likely to just put his arms straight up. This is smart, but also means that our guys should take it strong without hesitation, and with change of direction. Yao is just not the type to observe, then leap to block it when the shot is released

  181. @ Joe – I think it’s interesting that you bring that up. When the Cavs get into an offensive funk it’s almost always because LeBron passes too early or shoots too much. In other words: they have no post presence. A good defense should be able to make that glaringly apparent. They have not faced any yet.

  182. I think the interesting thing about Howard is that for as big and strong as he is- it’s mostly upper body. He can jump out of the gym- but I’m not sure he can use his lower body to leverage and move people off the block- his center of gravity is too high. (Think about how effective the Rockets bifs have been on D because of how well they use leverage- and how many inches they are giving up) That’s why I think he doesn’t play like Shaq. He’s using the fancy footwork because he can’t go through people.

    I also wonder if he tries fancier moves because their will be less chance of him getting contact- and him having to shot foul shots. If he initiates contact more then he will end up shooting more free throws. Of course that never stopped Shaq. :)

  183. Did you know that John Tesh was the original creator of the NBA on NBC theme song?

    Here is the original. It’s great too (the clothing is rather funny and read some of the Captain Crunch comments…LOL.)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_h7Lm7C9Nk

  184. ron artest cannot continue shooting like he has been the first two games. my prediction, he gets too excited in front of the home crowd, sees yao being fronted, and throws up bad jumpers all night. he did it in the portland series over and over, and i think he’ll start to miss tonight.

    i hope luke gets more playing time, we need better passing to get other players involved.

    i’d also like to see one monstrous, alley-oop dunk from bynum, to get his confidence going, and get that hop in his step back.

  185. If the Lakers win tonight’s game it will be due in part to what Derek Fisher did in response to Luis Scola’s attempted pick in Game 2.

    When veteran player like D-Fish does something like THAT … it sends a crystal clear to the other players on his team and their opponents, i.e. an invasion of my space will be met with suitable force to repel that invasion; best be ready for what’s coming next, as it won’t be pretty.

    When Smarts and Strength are fused in the same package … wonderful things can happen.

    As Kenny Smith said at half-time of Game 2:

    “This could be the half where the Houston Rockets win the 2009 NBA championship … if they can finish this off.”

    Alas, they could not … and, when all is said and done, sometime later in June … and the Lakers look back at their post-season run to the title, what they will point to as the turning point of this campaign was this ACT by Derek Fisher in Game 2 of their series vs Houston, when the smallest Laker of them all delivered THE most significant BLOW of the NBA Playoffs, and propelled their team to a different level of execution in the heat of battle.

    Time will tell.