It’s Not The End Of The World, But It’s Not Good

Kurt —  May 10, 2009

Ron Artest of the Houston Rockets

UPDATE: The official word on Lamar Odom’s injury:

According to Lakers spokesman John Black, results of Lamar Odom’s Monday morning CT scan and MRI are that he has a lower back contusion (bruised back).

His status for Tuesday evening’s Game 5 vs. Houston – which tips off at 7:30 p.m. – is questionable, and his condition will be updated subsequent to Tuesday morning’s shootaround.

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1) In the first game of the 1985 NBA Finals (the first time it was called that, by the way), the Lakers got absolutely routed by Boston Celtics. Devastatingly crushed. Dominated in every aspect of the game. They lost 148-114, and the media dubbed it the Memorial Day Massacre. The Lakers won the series in six games.

2) 1972 NBA Finals, Lakers vs. Knicks game one. From The Show: “Lucas scored 26 pts. an, Bradley hit 11-12 shots from the field as New York shot 53% from the floor. They used a nearly perfect first half to jump to a good lead and won much too easily, 114-92…. At he beginning of the first half the Forum crowd began filing out dejectedly. It looked like another LA fold in the Finals.” The Lakers beat the Knicks in five.

3) Game two of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, the Trailblazer ripped the Lakers, 106-77. The Lakers came back to win that series in a dramatic seventh game and go on the three-peat.

4) Last season the Boston Celtics were taken seven games by a more athletic but far less talented Atlanta Hawks team, then were taken seven games again by LeBron James and what there was of a surrounding cast last season. We all remember how that turned out. But after four games against the Cavs last year, Celtics message boards and fan reactions looked a lot like the Lakers this year.

There are simple lessons here. Don’t say this Lakers team cannot turn it around and win the NBA title. Don’t tell me Magic and the great Showtime teams never had letdowns, because they had them (regular season and playoffs). Don’t tell me game four against the Rockets is proof of ultimate doom. It is not. (Thanks to Gatinho for helping me compile this list.)

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That is not to excuse the lethargic performance in game four, or to dismiss the frustration with a Lakers team that can’t seem to stay focused. A team that wasn’t mentally prepared for how the game would change without Yao.

This one was on the players — Phil Jackson said he warned his team of a letdown and they didn’t listen. He and the coaches warned the Lakers this would be a different type of Rockets team, and they didn’t listen And you can tell Jackson was ticked: When was the last time Phil let loose with an expletive in a press conference? He is angry. Some have suggested PJ is just packing it right now, they clearly have forgotten how bad he wants the 10th ring to best Red. Phil is competitive, very competitive. But as much as you want him to yell to express your frustrations with the team in a timeout, that is not how he works. And he had 9 rings, so maybe we can cut him a little slack.

Also, Kwame a. made a great point in the comments:

Why do people keep acting like Houston minus Yao is trash. This seems to be a case of not having enough knowledge of the players who are contributing to Houston. Hell, all year Wondahbap was noting that Yao slowed them down against us and were better with him off the floor….Yea the way it happened sucked, but it was not like they lost to the Grizz.

What kind of offenses gave the Lakers fits this year? Ones with quick point guards that could break our slower PGs down off the dribble, teams that ran their offense from the top of the key area and teams that had bigs that could step out and hit 15-18 footers that pulled our bigs out from protecting the paint. With Yao out, what does Houston do for offense? Run the pick and pop at the top of the key with a big who can hit the shot. The Lakers responded by going back to old habits — everyone sagging off their guy to provide unnecessary help in the key, in doing so leaving good three point shooters too open. The defensive rotations were pathetic.

Darius chimes in:

I happen to think that we just did a really poor job of adjusting to what type of team Houston is without Yao. Understand that there isn’t a team in the league that changes more than the Rockets when they go from having to Yao to not having him. With him they are a post first, inside out team. And that is the team that we’ve planned every thing for and had mapped out our plan to win against. Now, without Yao, we must adjust to a completely different team that plays an entirely different style. Both versions of this team are very good teams and it’s a different game when you’re facing one vs. facing the other. It’s how they could have the winning streak that they had last season with both versions of this team winning at least 8 games in a row.

The Rockets came out knowing what they wanted to do with this lineup and played with passion. The Lakers came out unsure of what the Rockets were going to do but apparently being pretty sure it would be fold. It was not — the Rockets deserve the win for showing heart and passion in the face of adversity.

But the Lakers are still the better team. And if they come out with equal passion Tuesday night that will be obvious.

Kurt

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212 responses to It’s Not The End Of The World, But It’s Not Good

  1. I kno I’m Going to sound like I’m stating the obvious but We must get gasol going early. Pau’s Iso in the post always has great results. we shud make gasol the focal point of the offense. Kobe can get his anytime. I’m afraid Kobe playing second fiddle to shaq has scarred Kobe and he will never fully allow the lakers to utilize pau to his full potential for fear of not looking like ‘the man’

    That being said.. I covet chuck Hayes

  2. I like a lot of the Rockets role players: Hayes, Scola, Lowrey, Landry…

  3. No excuses. The Lakers played a soul-less game today. This is the first time I’ve been ashamed to be a Lakers fan. There have been collapses before, as mentioned in the post, but this one hurts more than any I’ve experienced. This wasn’t a collapse, because you have to come from something to do that. This was entirely empty and extremely telling. 10 wins away and you can’t bring an honest effort. Frustrated. Depressed. Ashamed.

  4. PJ will adjust to the Rockets without Yao and we will win the series.

    “What causes the most pain – the mistake or the criticism for the mistake?” – Benjamin Franklin

  5. sT: My understanding is that criticism didn’t bother Franklin much. That or he tried to ease that pain with French prostitutes.

  6. I hear a lot of the “the Lakers are a better team” stuff, and I think that’s about as true as saying “Andrew Bynum is a great player.”

    Uhm… no.

    Potential?

    Yes. YES. YES!

    Reality?

    Uhm… no. Not yet.

    At least as a team we’re closer than AB is as a player, but at the moment, Houston has the better team. Not many teams in the NBA that can beat a full strength Lakers squad with their top two players + top center backup out. That’s teamwork. That’s TEAM.

    If we had half that mentality, we’d be talking 72 win seasons and undefeated march to the championships.

  7. i was most bothered by Gasol being guarded by Brian Cook and not getting the ball.

  8. this game just adds fuel for those who think the lakers still aren’t ‘tough’..

    they never meant that the lakers need to be physically tough and chippy etc.. but they lacked mental toughness.. a kind of mindset thats invulnerable to circumstance.. like a 100m sprinter who keeps his head down and gives his all no matter the situation.. thats what these lakers still lack..

    the celts had that toughness last year.. down big to the lakers but the rallied to make a game and even win it.. while these lakers.. well just watch the replay of jordan farmar standing and watching as brooks catches a 3/4 court alley to bank it in..

    in fact farmars play really personifies the lakers attitude.. when they’re not playing well on offense they stop defending.. stop hustling.. stop playing hard. thats the lack of toughness that everyone was harping on and on about.. not the lack of elbows flagrants and trash talk..

  9. I’ll confess that I didn’t watch much of the game today. I was planning on it initially, and then started talking about it with my brother (a Spurs fan) last night. He was commenting that this series was in the bag for us now that Yao was gone.

    I considered his point for a second and said something to the effect of, “Actually, the Rockets did their best against us so far in this series whenever Yao was off of the floor. This actually could work in their favor, especially since I can almost guarantee you that the Lakers will come out as if they had no opponent tomorrow.”

    I watched part of the first half and decided to go to the beach instead of finishing the game, because – what do you know? – the Lakers came out like they had already won.

    I’m confident that the Lakers will pull this series out. I’m fairly certain they’ll win the next two games and continue the pattern of home teams that lose game 1 winning the series in six.

    This is a Lakers team that – for whatever reason – insists on their opposition proving to them that they deserve to even be on the same court as them. They don’t go out and show their opponent that they (the opponent) don’t belong in the same building, they just wander in a malaise until the opponent smacks them in the mouth and then look stunned. This costs the Lakers individual games, but I doubt it will cost them a series.

  10. The highs and lows of this team are remarkable. No team in the NBA provided more visions of kinetic, creative, beautiful basketball. But perhaps no elite team has frequently displayed such a large gap between its potential and performances. One of the most upsetting things about tonight’s game was how almost predictable it seemed. This Lakers team has made a habit of underperforming. And when they match up against a Rockets team whose focus and drive are evident in every possession, the disinterested and lazy Lakers easily begin to seem a disheartened group of seemingly broken pieces without cohesion or purpose.
    In the next couple games I’d like to see a couple things change:

    1. Fisher should still start but his minutes should decline as Farmar enters the game earlier, shares time with Brown, and the pg playing the best finishes the first half. Fisher had clearly lost another step this season and the long year has taken an increased toll…he’s simply not playing at the level needed of a pg on a championship team. The two youngins aren’t either, but they both seem to be shooting the ball, playing D, and providing energy on floor at higher rates than Fisher. I think his steady hand will still prove vital for opening and closing games, but I’d like to see his minutes lessened the rest of the series (he matches up much better with Billips if we make it to the next round). But this means Farmar and Brown must step up and consistently work hard on defense, hit open shots and not turn the ball over. I think a good deal of the destiny of this series will be determined by their play.

    2. Pau has to more aggressive and make quicker decisions. Maybe he pieced this together toward the end of tonight’s game (if anything good comes out of that fourth quarter, let it be this). When Hayes guards Pau, Pau has had a tendency to think he must back him down and take advantage of his height over Hayes, but actually he should be facing up and making quick moves. Hayes has quick feet for a big man but his post defense against back to the basket post moves is still superior to his guarding face ups. Pau can’t seem to move Hayes deep enough by backing down; but he can certainly move by him on a quick drive.

    3. We need to see more Lamar coast to coasts. First, this needs to part of the general (and proverbial at this point) Lakers effort to get transition buckets before the Rockets defense sets up. But second, when the Lamar is pushing the rock, he seems more engaged in the game, more spirited and certainly more effective. He’s always an offensive foul in the making, but the pressure this puts on the Rockets and the intensity it provides for Lamar have been missing in this series. Too often Lamar has gotten a defensive rebound and simply stopped and waited to give it to a guard. If his back is ok he needs to be told to push the ball early and often.

    4. Kobe needs to stop leaving Battier.
    5. Mbenga should get a few minutes of run at Bynum’s expense, especially if the Lakers are up.

  11. While a well-thought-out analysis as always, the flaws are twofold:

    (1) In those prior instances, those Lakers teams may have been better than this one, certainly without Bynum playing up to his potential. And I think at this point, we can no longer assume that Bynum is suddenly going to wake up and make a meaningful contribution in Game 5 or any potential future series.

    (2) Unfortunately, today’s Lakers loss was not an aberration. We have seen this before. Do you remember the Lakers and Phil’s comments after Game 1? “Worst loss of the season.” And now Lamar’s comments after Game 4? “Worst loss of the season?” It’s very troublesome that our two alleged worst losses have come in the last four games … in the playoffs with the WCF on the line. The team should be starting to peak at this time but instead remains maddeningly inconsistent. We NEVER know how the defense is going to play. It’s become a cliche but it’s true – great defense isn’t played part-time, in some games, even just in some quarters. Today’s game wasn’t the first time that we’ve allowed endless penetration into the paint and wide-open three-point shooters. There simply is no reason to have faith that we are suddenly going to “bring it” when we need it on a consistent basis.

    The most frustrating thing is that I don’t think there’s any clear-cut solution to these problems. Phil and the coaching staff are obviously aware of them. Surely the team has had enough “wake up calls” to be similarly aware. But it didn’t matter – we still laid an effortless, desultory egg today. Will the Lakers still win this series and go on to the NBA Championship? Maybe. However, the fact that we have absolutely no idea what kind of effort or play — particularly on defense — that we are going to get on a game-to-game basis is deflating. It’s nearly one year later, and I’m still not sure that this team has learning anything from that 39-point loss in Boston other than an unmerited sense of self-entitlement.

  12. Using past precedents as a mean to comfort ourselves is not good enough. It seems almost as if everytime the Lakers have lost this year, there are always excuses made and the presence of a “no big deal, we will still win” attitude.

    For me, this game was disgusting. This is a severely undermanned Rockets team, not a healthy Rockets team with Yao, McGrady, and Mutombo playing. How is it that many of us (fans) understand the change in a Rockets team without Yao, but not the Lakers players? The coaches knew, too, but apparently their warnings weren’t heeded.

    It was an embarassing loss and we have to move on. However, the way we lost the game is very disturbing. To be down 20 points going into halftime and to spend the 3rd quarter trailing, at one point, by 29 only to end the quarter where they started, is very, very disturbing. Where were the halftime adjustments?

    One thing I can say for sure, the only player who showed up was Shannon Brown (and Gasol, but it’s not his fault the players don’t look for him more often, even though he had plenty of opportunities to attack Landry but passed them up). Fisher with 2 points, 2 rebounds, and zero assists? Can anyone name a starting point guard that has played worse in the playoffs so far? Love Fish, but his “experience” and “leadership” didn’t show up today.

    All in all, Lakers will win Game 5, almost certainly. Hopefully, if the Lakers are to be a true contedner, we will win Game 6 after making proper adjustments.

  13. Agreed not the end of the world…But the most dissapointing aspect of this affair is not the loss, not even the way we lost (which was in an of itself damning) but the sheer lack of accounatbility afterwards.

    Phil talked about how we accomplished what we set out to do by regaining home court advantage and Fisher according to Simers “would agree only that the Lakers got off to a slow start, and would not agree that it was an embarrassing performance” Even his head coach would not acknowledge that it was an embarrassing performance. C’mon! Makes one wonder if this shellacking was not embarrasing, how much worse it would have to get for those asscociated with this game (players and coaches alike) to agree that this label was accurate.

    After Game 3 in the Utah series Derek made his pledge that the Lakers would not give back another big lead. Of course to make good on that promise requires a lead to give up.

    Bottom line is that I expected Phil and company to be honest about the fact that we laid an egg. I did not expect the sanitized PC version (expletive nothwithstanding) that was offered instead. It is one thing to mail it in but at least own it. And this is the most troubling aspect of the Lakers…this tendency to all to often become lackadaisical about the opponent and/or the effort required to win. It is the playoffs after all.

    As for the undermanned opponent…It is hardly a surprise that the Rockets turned in such an emotional “win one for the Gippper” or in this case Yao performance. I respect the heart with which they played for the entire game. They played extremely well. But despite these concerns I still expect the Lakers to advance through this and the next round to the finals. And if they get there I like their odds of winning this year.

    Yet if they continue to leave their heart at the door, Houston or the next team they face, will be happy to show them it.

  14. I too, agree that the Lakers will eventually prevail in this series but they sure know how to inflict their fans with some serious indigestion. Bad defense, bad offense, but an otherwise happy Mother’s Day… until my mom called to complain about the Lakers.

  15. I agree Nicholas, I would like to see Mbenga get a couple of minutes. He plays tough, with good energy and that is something the Lakers need right now. He was pretty productive down the stretch when he was getting his minutes.

    I can’t believe how many times our perimeter defenders collapsed on penetration to leave a wide open jumper today. Without Yao, the Rockets are going to be looking to shoot first, drive second. Brooks is the only guy that we really have to worry about getting to the bucket with ease. We looked like we had 5 Birdmans out there trying to prime themselves for a weak side block.

    But, I am confident this team will come home with an adjusted attitude and be determined to win. The Rockets probably won’t shoot like they did today, but the focus needs to be regained to play at the level this team is capable of.

  16. FYI… I will write a post tomorrow explaining why after speaking to an athlete who played competitive division 1 college sports why I see that I was wrong for thinking Jackson was a bad coach for keeping Fisher as a starter. I was wrong and Im not ashamed to admit it. You will be interested to hear that he should start although he is the 3rd worst PG on the Lakers. But you will have to wait till tomorrow. I know I know… you can’t wait. But too bad. You have to. Just like we had to watch Fisher make Aaron Brooks look like Steve Nash (circa 2005) in Game 4. Sleep well Lakers fans… the last game will mean very little when we are hoisting the trophy in June.

  17. Sunday was very disappointing as I thought the Lakers found some of their mojo in games 2 and 3. And left unsaid by most is it’s not looking good for Lamar to be 100% on Tuesday.

    Tuesday I’m sure will bring a better effort but if Brooks goes off again Fisher needs to be on a short leash.

  18. I quite literally had to turn today’s game off in the third quarter.

    To see a team that you love, in a moment where you are hoping they are READY to go in for the kill; knowing, unfortunately, that there’s a more than theoretical chance that they could come in unfocused, sluggish and less than hungry…and STILL be shocked.

    Personally, I think Fisher and Pau are the big deltas, at least in what remains of this series.

    Fisher, mainly because this is a game of matchups, and his matchup with Brooks is fully exposed. The Rockets to their credit, are attacking that, and the Lakers team defense collapses in these moments. Love, Fish but he’s a liability right now.

    As to Pau, he has been a Rock this season, bringing it night in, night out, being mentally tough, hitting big shots, free throws and the like.

    Yet, in the playoffs he has been sporadic, especially on defensive rotations, offensive boards and free throws. Lamar is Lamar, brilliant in some moments (Utah), invisible in others.

    I expect the Lakers to pull it together in this series, and put the Rockets to sleep, but even so, a very confident team awaits in Denver, and they have a schema that beat the Lakers towards the end of the year (in Denver).

    Winning is tough. We’ll see how badly the L’s want it soon enough.

  19. I have faith in my team and I am confident that the Lakers will turn this thing around and take us to the next round!! Look out Carmelo…here we come!!!

  20. Does that Game 4 performance warrants its own nickname? I suggest the Mother’s Day Mishap if we go on to win the series, and the Mother’s Day Meltdown if we go on to lose.

  21. Kurt,
    They told Franklin to “go fly a kite”, and look what happened!

  22. The Lakers have the talent. I just am not sure they have the stones.

    Having lived and died with this team since Shaq was traded, the above is really hard to say. The problem is that we have seen this behavior quite often this year, tho not for an entire game. This is not a selfish or a soft team – they just can’t seem to stay focused.

    Why??? Perhaps they haven’t seen enough of the underbelly of life to realize how good they have it. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

    I turned off the game just before the end – I don’t even know the final score at this time – and I will watch all the remaining Laker games this season, but nothing will remove the fear in the pit of my stomach that these guys will repeat this performance.

  23. Maybe the lakers have a mentality of they are not going to really perform until they get to the finals. All season they have performed exceptionally well when they get to the big games, no one has been able to stop them. I know u have to still get there but last year the celtics had a hard time to get to finals but won in the end. Im upset with this performance but honestly the lakers are the most talented team in the league they just have to be properly motivated.

  24. I told you all before the series started that this was going 6 or 7 games. I told you that, not because I thought the Rockets were the better team or would win but because I have watched them all year and saw how they play game in an game out. They all play hard, to their strengths, and to cover teammates deficiencies. This is not strategy or coaching, they actively pursue players who are not necessarily the most talented, but play with a chip on their shoulder. Look at our contributors, nearly all have all been passed over in the draft or discarded by other teams. Darryl Morey has done an excellent job in that regard since he came here. Just about every player in our rotation is new to the team in the past 2 years, and although they didn’t have any participation in the 1st round exits it ate them alive to hear about it all the time.

    As a basketball fan I was really disappointed with the Lakers performance yesterday. I expected that to be an excellent basketball game between a team playing mostly on pride and emotion, and a team sensing the kill and wanting to end the series quickly. What I saw instead was a team playing with pride and execution versus a lazy team that expected to just win because they are more talented. I predict that the Lakers will come back strong and win on Tuesday, possibly big because I foresee a letdown after all the emotions wear off for the Rockets. And then the Lakers should win at least 1of the remaining 2 to move on. Regardless of what happens the remainder of the series, the Rockets have made Houston very proud.

  25. 21) Ali
    “All season they have performed exceptionally well when they get to the big games”

    Game 4 of a playoff series when they are only up 2-1 isn’t a bigger game than a regular season game against the Cavs?

    We need to get rid of the “Lakers are the most talented roster in the league” mindset. I don’t think that’s true at this point.

  26. I guess this is who we are – a team that refuses to make things easy for themselves from quarter to quarter or game to game. My question is, why? Is that just part of the Lakers mystique, that being part of all the glitz and glamor that comes from being a Laker means they think they’re entitled to flip a switch and turn it on at any time? Maybe there’s something to that – the recent Lakers dynasty was kickstarted by the Lakers roaring back from a 15 point 4th quarter deficit, so maybe that’s the experience that really created the identity of this current team?

    I’m just reaching for something that can explain the difference in attitudes between the Lakers and the Rockets. Probably, like Phil says, we need to give them some “f—ing credit”.

  27. I’m seeing issues from psychological and strategic perspectives. On the mental side, how many wake-up calls can this team afford? In a series against an elite team, can we really count on the Lakers playing strong, focused basketball for four games BEFORE having four wake-up calls in the same series? In the past, when the Lakers showed up to play, they won. Now, even if the Lakers show up (so sad that I need to add an “if”), the opposing team is not intimidated at all. If I was a Lakers opponent and I found my team down by 15-20, I would just think, “OK that was their best shot, now let’s go out and make this a ball game.” Yes everyone…the mental edge matters.

    In terms of strategy adjustments…do we ever make fundamental adjustments or just ground ourselves? You can’t make everything a mind game when your team’s focus and awareness is occasionally shaky. We played against a Houston team with only one good (not great) scoring threat and we still applied SSZ and double-team strategies. What were they thinking; “Let’s not allow Artest and Scola to beat us”…? If we can shift away from the triangle on offense, we should be able to enact similar adjustments on D.

  28. To Snoopy’s comment from yesterday’s post,
    I do understand why they went to the SSZ and I also figured someone would say “cause we don’t have defensive players”. To that I say, that’s bunk, get new players. There’s no excuse for someone in NBA to claim they can’t play defense. Phoenix apologist have said similar for the last several years and I’ve always found it a weak argument.

    To Kurt’s post,
    I’m seeing very few comments saying “we can’t win the title”. (Maybe that’s because he’s moderating all of them.) I am seeing a lot of legitimate questions asking if we’re really capable of winning it. Starting from game 4 of the Finals last year until now, I think that’s more than fair.

  29. Clutch / Zephid – barring a godawful situation that causes me to lose, looks like I’ll win our little bet here…

  30. 29. Almost all of the comments I have moderated are of the “Lakers suck” variety, in a few different forms. I don’t think there’s a lot of championship confidence among the fan base right now. We know it could happen, but this is not a confident time.

  31. Maybe the Lakers were thinking Mother’s Day yesterday as they stepped unto the basketball court. They certainly weren’ thinking basketball. In fact, they didn’t appear to be thinking at all for most of the game.

    I’ve been suggesting we think of this playoff season one game at a time–and I have–but that was obviously too difficult for some–so I’ll slightly modify my suggestion. The Lakers should only think of the first quarter of tomorrow’s game. They need not only to have energy, but a plan–and stick to that plan. It is not too hard to imagine what the plan will be, and who will play under what circumstances, but I’m prepared to watch a great plan unfold–whatever it is.

    The pace needs to be slow, and the Lakers need to play every possession as if it is the last one they will execute in the playoffs–’cause it could be before too long.

    At halftime, they can reassess, make corrections as necessary, and do the same thing for the second half.

    Once the game is over, the Lakers can reassess and plan for the next game–and thank God that there will be a next game.

    When they do this the last time for this year’s playoff season, we’ll see where they are and assess the significance. Everything else is just–well you know.

  32. Yes, the lakers did not close out on the shooters. However, we must note that no team in the NBA is capable of beating a team that decides to chuck up threes, and makes all of them. The reason why championship teams aren’t built exclusively around shooters is that eventually the shooters. Last night was the night that Houston’s shooters never went cold. Stuff happens.

  33. According to the coaching staff, the SSZ was incorporated into our team defense because the players on the team couldn’t react properly to the various offensive options of our opponents. While the officiating may dictate some of this, there are good defensive teams in this league. Our players, seemingly, don’t have either the will, IQ, or talent to play more forceful defense. Granted, the pace we like to play at means the opponents scoring will be higher than defense only teams, but even this doesn’t account for the number of wide open shots we give opponents – regardless of the situation.

    There doesn’t seem to be any immediate solution, but it does color my opinion about the talent on our squad. On most blogs – and by most talking heads – the concept of talent implies scoring, but I would say talent is also part of defense. I know, intensity is supposed to be all you need in defense, but I don’t agree and the Lakers seem to be proving my point.

  34. I knew the Lakers were going to lose yesterday. Like you mentioned in the post Wondalop said the Rockets played better against the Lakers when Yao was out of the game. I noticed this myself through the series and combine that with the lack of killer instinct this Laker team has yet to develop it became a playoff version of a trap game.

    I also believe the Lakers will respond just like the game one loss and win the next two and move on to the next round. I really believe the Lakers are going to learn what it means to be a champion in the first three rounds of the playoffs so they are ready for the finals. They didn’t get the challenge I was hoping from Utah, but Houston is teaching the Lakers a lot of valuable experiences.

    Denver if they keep of this level of play will also challenge the Lakers but I expect Lakers to prevail against them as well.

    The post season run will be very similar to Celtics of last year where they learn what they needed to do to win a series the first three. They won with pure talent those series’s and used the experience they got from those games to beat a Laker team that wasn’t really challenged in the playoffs.

    I hope a challenged Laker team will beat an unchallenged Cavs team in the finals this year.

    I believe these Lakers will grow into a championship team this year.

  35. At least the Lakers made some sort of adjustment in the fourth quarter. The Lakers began to trap Brooks at or near the half court line. They nearly got a turnover out of it. That will probably continue as Gasol will come off his man (Hayes) to trap Brooks or Lowry.

    I hope Odom is OK. That fall was nasty. I also thought that was a blocking foul on the play considering Odom already left his feet before Battier got to his spot.

  36. 32 – You make an interesting point about the reasoning behind SSZ. Sometimes, I wonder if SSZ actually requires more IQ and awareness than a standard man-to-man defensive set. The SSZ requires a tremendous amount of rotations, shading, funneling, and selective double teaming – and the Lakers are not able to consistently react properly. It also requires collective accountability…a concept that even Kobe messes up from time-to-time with his drifting and slow rotations.

    Man-to-man, while still necessitating some rotations and switches, should be manageable for these guys. They can’t even master the basic concepts of a full court press (let alone the SSZ). In a full court press, you trap the ball handler and place one to two safeties in the backcourt and/or at the half court line to intercept the pass. Somehow, the Lakers routinely blow opportunities to pick off that pass and far too frequently give up a fast break score.

    I’m not necessarily advocating a complete switch in defensive concepts – especially at this point in the year – but when you are getting pounded for three quarters with a concept that is rendered ineffective by the players, it’s time to try something new.

  37. I think the huge leads the Rockets built were a huge dissapointment and left a lot of us feeling like we were punched in the gut, but I think the team made decent adjustments in the 4th to try and cut the lead down. However, the Yao-less Rockets are exactly the type of team the Lakers have struggled with all season long, so a loss to a young-and-fast lineup should not come as a complete surprise.

    One thing to note, however, is that I think the players trully felt embarrassed by their performance. This is both a positive and a negative.

    It’s positive in the sense that guys like Kobe, Fish and Gasol will be fired up for the next game.

    It’s negative in the sense that this could hurt players whose game realies a lot on confidence (i.e., Farmar, Sasha, Bynum).

  38. Confidence is low right now, but for good reason. As fans, it can be acceptable to be a little reactionary. We can’t be as level headed and calm as the coaches and players because we have no control over outcomes – right now all we have is that last performance and it’s easy to extrapolate that out to the future.

    It’s concerning that this team relaxes at inopportune times. I mentioned a while back that this falls on Kobe. As the team leader he has to make sure his guys are in the right mindset. Maybe his supreme confidence incorrectly signals a lack of urgency that filters down through the rest of the team. I don’t know.

    I do know that this team needs more “wake up calls” than I would like. We all knew they were going to go small and we all knew they would come out with a ton of energy – yet the game plan and effort from our end just was not there.

    Maybe bringing it every time out just isn’t a reality with this group and they will give us a heart attack every few games on the way to a title.

  39. Cedric Ceballos May 11, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I would like to see Kobe guard Brooks with some Team USA defense; expending most of his energy on the defensive end, hawking him Pippen-style. Actually, I would like to see all the Lakers try their best on the defensive end, like early in the season. Enough with the cruising.

    I haven’t seen the Lakers leave their hearts out there yet in these playoffs, like the Rockets did. After they lost the first game I thought it would wake them up. I’m still waiting.

  40. Hypothetically, Who would you rather have taking a wide open 3? Kobe or Battier?

    Can you imagine the kind of heat a team would take for giving Kobe 3 steps of space on 3′s?
    Well Shane Battier is a career 45% shooter. He shoots 38% from the three. Both these averages are higher than Kobe’s. (This is just to prove a point- I know it can be picked apart to a degree).

    38% on three pointers is like shooting 57% from 2. Would you leave a 57% shooter wide open?
    Most any decent shooter in the NBA is going to shoot higher percentages when they are wide open. I don’t see how Kobe is not taking more heat for his horrible defense all of last game. This seems to be a common theme with him, and IMO it usually ends up burning the Lakers when he chooses to cheat so much off of his defensive assignment. I don’t see what he gains by it either, I don’t really see him being super disruptive to the rest of the offense.

    Is it a question of effort? Is Kobe just so focused on proving a point (Battier has to kill himself to slow me down slightly- I don’t even have to guard him)? I really don’t get it. I also don’t get the fans that say “Kobe and Phil should be mad at how the team played” or something to that effect when IMO Kobe/ coaching are as responsible as anyone else.

  41. This is my first post, but I’m reading this blog for two years now.

    I’ve seen most of the Lakers games this season, and I remember our first loss (to Detroit) and Phil’s words afterwards: “I guess we’re not going undefeated”. So, my first point is, – there are going to be losses, and bad ones too. It’s just ridiculous to question a team after one bad loss when this team has proven itself throughout the season.

    Now about Game 4. Here are my thoughts:

    1. Rockets had more effort and sense of urgency. It was like game 7 for them, and for us it was like a bonus game on this two game road trip (yes, Yao was out, but I guess initially we were going for a split). Also, the absence of Yao made us more relaxed, while Rockets where trying to prove themselves (like “we’re more than just Yao Ming and T-Mac”).

    2. It was a totally different team for us – Houston without Yao. Yes, they were playing with Yao on the bench for some stretches in previous games, but (1) it was like they weren’t trying to attack, just to stay alive before Yao will check in (except Game 2, 2nd quarter, but it’s because they were behind), and (2) it’s hard to totally change your style during a game using same players (again, Landry was good in Game 2, but he wasn’t the starter and didn’t play with Yao much).
    As a result, Lakers weren’t ready for this mix of starters and bench players playing small-ball. To me, there’s no question they will be more prepared Tuesday

    3. Rockets made their shots, especially at the beginning. Lakers didn’t make theirs. Yes, we didn’t move the ball, but it was partially (maybe even more then lack of effort) strange-looked Yao-less Rockets fault. Yes, Phil should’ve taken a timeout, but still – it’s not a Game 7, we were not trailing in the series, so I think it was worth a try to let the players work it out.
    By the way, I think 4th quarter wasn’t a fools gold, because it shows that we (1) didn’t quit and (2) solve their play.

    4. To sum up.
    I was disappointed yesterday, but still can understand this loss and find some positives in it.
    First of all, there’s a lesson for our players, good playoff experience: for Bynum, Brown, Ariza and everybody else.
    Second, we can be proud that our team didn’t quit on that kind of night. We’ve had a good game from our bench, +/- wise, and even effort-wise (see 4th quarter).

    So, good luck on Tuesday and the rest of the way. We can beat everybody, everywhere, and have shown it already. Also, we can lose, but only the one who can lose knows the true taste of victory when it comes :)

  42. The L.A. globetrotters have done it again. They simply think just because we’re better, that we don’t have to show up. To steal a Bill Simmons metaphor the Lakers are basically Apollo Creed from Rocky 1. They are better than the rest of the teams remaning, and we will still win the title against the cavs “Rocky” just because were better. Be calm nation

  43. Kurt, understood. Thanks for keeping it clean for the group.

    goat,
    You already “won”. Zephid & I both said no more than 5. And I gave you your due yesterday sometime around the 3rd quarter. I also have to thank you for teaching me a lesson. I broke my own “light switch” rule and overestimated this team. I’ve finally learned my lesson with this group. There’s no rhyme or reason with them and now I will sit back and enjoy the ride…game by game.

  44. clutch – sorry, didn’t see your post yesterday. Didn’t mean to come off as gloating either – believe me, I take no pleasure in being right this time. I think your game by game attitude is the right way to approach this team…whenever I’ve found myself being too bent out of shape this morning it’s good to get a reminder that, really, they’re the ones driving this car and we’re just along for the ride.

  45. Drrayeye- I completely agree re: pace. The Lakers need to slow down and get the ball into Pau and execute the freaking offense properly. The defense needs to play as a team, yesterday too many open shots were a result of poor rotations caused by a lack of, or no communication.

  46. More talent than the Rockets? Sorry, but a “more talented” team would not lose to a “less talented” team that does not have its two best players by double digits. The Lakers are simply a jump shooting team that only looks good when they are hitting their threes like they did on Friday. When their outside shots are not falling, the Lakers are mediocre at best. Outside of Kobe and Pau, there is no one on this team that the Rockets cannot match up with.

    That being said, I still can’t see the Lakers losing two out of there next three to a Rockets team without their two best players. I don’t think the Lakers have enough “talent” to beat Denver or whoever comes out of the East.

  47. My take, FWIW:

    This team has only two players, Kobe and Bynum, who have dominant high-level defensive talent. Odom–maybe, sometimes. Ariza is quick, but not that strong. Everyone else has phyiscal limitations, and Kobe of course is 30 with a lot of treadwear now and has to carry the O. And, except for perhaps Ariza, all the rotation players (I am not counting Powell and Brown right now) are, mentally, offense-first guys. The team is gifted enough that that works–most of the time. But, when they get disrupted on offense, they don’t have the either ability or the habitual commitment to get consistent stops. So they give 100 or 99 points to Houston–and they lose to them.

    As to the “character” issue, on any team the tone is set by the star and the coach. Yes, Fisher is a leader, but this team is ultimately about Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson. Both of these men are HOFers, no question. But Kobe is not a Magic Johnson or Chauncey Billups-type leader, and Phil, in his 60s, may not be the guy to work with young players. We have all noted that Bynum, Farmar, and Vujacic have regressed. Some of that is on them, of course, but I also think some of it is on Phil and the staff.

    I am not panicking or giving up–this team went 65-17, and given where it was three years ago, I am glad to be a fan. But I think what i said above are basic issues with this team that may prevent a championship from being its destiny. We shall see.

  48. 45. For the record, game four was the slowest paced game of the series, by 5 possessions. The problem was not the pace it was execution in my mind.

    46. The Lakers are not a jump-shooting team, they scored more points per game in the paint than any team in the NBA this year. They get to the rim when they are going right. When they are jumpshooters they usually struggle.

  49. @ 5 – Ha! 1) A Ben Franklin Joke 2) A Ben Franklin Joke that was funny 3) On a Basketball Site … amazing just happened.

  50. I am talking about half court offense not fast breaks. Pau, the main inside scoring threat, is more of a jump shooter than a traditional post player. Also, most of Kobe’s point come from jump shots. Who is inside threat you are talking about? Are you saying that the Lakers won Friday because of their inside game and not because of their 11-20 three point shooting?

  51. Questionable dog peeing on fire hydrant metaphor aside, I think this column offers good hope for game 5, if not for the bigger issues that surround the team:

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/game-lakers-team-2403322-odom-down

  52. Yea, the Lakers took a collective dump on my predictive abilities by deciding not to show up for 2 games out of 4. Admittedly, I was making my predictions on the assumption that the Lakers would play at least 90% up to their potential, but I was totally wrong. I can’t believe that a team would just not show up for a game like they did yesterday. Game 1 was much more understandable, because our shots simply weren’t falling. This game we lost simply due to lack of effort.

    wiseolgoat, here are your props.

    *props*

    Although, I think we can all admit that this series goes no more than 5 if the Lakers actually showed up to their games with a winning mindset. I whole-heartedly believe that this series is more about the Lakers giving away games than the Rockets taking them. Not trying to down-play the Rockets effort; it has been spectacular. But this Laker team is simply not playing up to its potential, not even 70% of its potential.

  53. The Lakers simply don’t have the drive to win the title right now. Nobody out there cares enough to give 100% every night. It’s embarrassing. A major speech needs to take place in that locker room.

    Lately the sense of entitlement in the Laker’s demeanor is embarrassing. We are the best team in the league. We are the most talented. We should win the title. But out of all the remaining playoff teams, we want it the least. We play down to our competition every single night and we never learn from it.

    It’s a good time to remember that after the Celtics posted the league’s best record last year, Atlanta and Cleveland took the eventual champs to a game 7. Maybe this adversity is exactly what the Lakers need right now. Last season we coasted through the West. We were never truly tested until the finals where we met a team that collectively wanted the title much more.

    It sounds crazy but I am rooting for a Lakers-Rockets Game 7. Yesterday’s playoff loss on the road isn’t a “wake up call.” It’s a 2-2 series now and the Lakers will take care of business at home and re-assure the masses. Maybe they can even take Game 6 in Houston and win the series. But I think this Lakers team needs a Game 7, a playoff elimination game with their backs against the wall, to wake up. Call me crazy but I want a Game 7 more than seeing the Lakers win in 6.

  54. #49 Pau, Bynum and Odom score most of their points in the paint. Kobe can score in the paint as can Ariza, Brown and Farmar. And that’s just not on fast breaks. That’s in our half court offense.

  55. Rockets lucked out the first game, and you did expect them to heart one out at home.

    The reality is, the one and only thing that beat us was Aaron Brooks. We needed to see exactly how this team was going to play without Yao and I guess the Lakers just didn’t want to believe he could hurt them that much. It’s not difficult to make some adjustments so that another player has a difficult time the whole game. They won’t let him go off like he did yesterday and Lakers will win the next two games, simple as that.

  56. Kurt- Didn’t know there were so few possessions. Execution must get better, and I (still) think going to Pau is the best way to do that.

  57. Jim Smith- How did the “jump-shooting” Lakers compile a 65-17 record, while sweeping Boston and the Cavs?

  58. 49. We are talking half-court offense, over the course of the season. Bynum and Gasol can and do both score inside, and obviously Kobe can drive the lane when he chooses. But the Lakers, when going right, get a lot of layups off cuts and motions in the half court, off amazing interior passing. They haven’t done it much this series, but that has been in part because the Rockets are a very good defensive team and one that, until yesterday, had a wall in the paint like no other. But the Lakers score in the paint, not just on breaks.

  59. Aside from Tim Duncan, Pau is the most traditional type of low-post scorer in the League. Yao is way more of a jumpshooter than Pau and Dwight Howard doesn’t have the array of moves and ability to finish with both hands.

  60. Kwame a. — I completely agree. I don’t know how many times we can yell “Run the offense through Pau.” Maybe we can make that into a chant, like Tacos.

  61. Clutch – lol I understand what you’re saying, but as wiser people have said, “facts is facts.” Our players don’t have great defensive instincts. It’s not an excuse or a cover-up, I’m not calling Jordy up after the game to soothe his feelings and assure him his poor rotations aren’t his fault, he’s just naturally bad. Just a fact. Like it or not, we kinda have to deal with it, as fans we can’t really change it.

    Wow Mark Cuban went after K-Mart’s mother. Wasn’t that the day before Mother’s Day?

    I love Dirk’s laid-back demeanor as a person. I’m not sure I like him admitting Martin is giving him trouble, but another part of me likes that unnatural honesty.

    “The Mavericks All-Star has no beef with Martin, either. “We both played hard, had some great battles and left it at that. We were laughing at one move that I made on the block where I had like 10 or 11 fakes and he was just standing there. He asked me what the hell I was doing.”"

    I’m sure the media’s going to jump on Dirk for being soft, for not having fire, for not getting in K-Mart’s face and being “punked” by Martin. Forgetting, of course, that he led his team to within 2 wins of an NBA title with the same style. People love the Michael Jordan “killer” mode, but there’s more than one way to win, IMO.

  62. Tremendous article on Billups, really paints a full picture of his life:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=090511/billups

  63. Jim Smith,

    It makes no sense for people to claim the Rockets are playing without their two best players.

    The Rockets never did anything with T-Mac. To include him in their success is like saying the Lakers missed Bynum in last year’s Finals. Neither had any bearing on their respective teams’ success.

    The Rockets match-up better without Yao.

  64. Maybe I haven’t been following closely enough, but I was pretty shocked by game 4. I didn’t expect this team to roll over in a playoff game, not after the “wake up call” of game 1. Now they are officially the Pistons– allegedly the best team evah “when they are motivated”… only, they seem to rely on random happenstance or divine intervention for that motivation.

  65. Zephid, make that 45% for this series.

    Snoopy, cool. I can’t change it, I can just try not to let it drive me crazy.

    Now about the Diggler, you’ve opened the flood gates on that one. 2 games from the title you say? Do you get a cracker jack prize for that? Dirk is soft and they will never win with him. Cuban should’ve moved him so many times.

    2006 – Disappeared for 4 straight games. Whined afterward that “they gave it away”. Forget refs. If you lose 4 straight games in the Finals, you were beat.
    2007 – Worst playoff collapse in the history of the L. Disappeared for all but the last 3 min of game 5. Beat decisively by an 8th seed. Receives MVP trophy afterward. Shameful.
    2008 – Up & down all year. Pushed in the face by D West. Says nothing. Blasted by NO.
    2009 – Sucking up to K-Mart. And doesn’t understand that if you lost the game, you didn’t actually “do enough to win the game”. Probably about to get swept.

    I don’t really think there is more than one way to win. Somebody has to be tough and somebody has to put their imprint on the game. Hopefully it’s your best player. Outside of that 7 game series with SA, he’s proven he’s not capable.

  66. “When Im wrong… Im almost wrong”

    I should have known the big picture mind set that Phil Jackson so beautifully lives by in his basketball life was too big for even me to see. He is a basketball genius and so often there is a method to his madness. I am not too insecure to admit when I am wrong. Yesterday I was at the gym after Derek Fisher let Aaron Brooks do his Steve Nash circa 2005 impression all over the Lakers in Game 4. I ran into a friend who played division 1 college sports, and told me “You really think Phil Jackson looks at Derek Fisher and says… Man, this guy is better then Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar.” This isn’t little league. These NBA players are grown men. Fisher has been in the league for 13 years… he is in his mid 30′s. He has won 3 championships with the Lakers. He is respected and liked by his fellow players. He is the player representative of the NBA Players Association. He is the only player on the Lakers that is really “friends” with Kobe Bryant. Right after Farmar and Brown dominated Aaron Brooks in Game 3 the court-side interviewer asked a soaking wet Kobe Bryant what he thought of the Lakers PG play without the suspended Derek Fisher. Kobe immediately interrupted her, butting in “I can’t wait to get Little Rock (Fisher) back!!!” And then walked away quickly. Phil Jackson knows how to mold big NBA egos. He also knows how to respect grown men who play a kids game for a living. During the season after Luke Walton was embarrassing himself night in and night out Jackson didn’t bench him. He waited for Walton to come to him and tell him that Ariza should start. Saving the son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton some major face. If coach Phil benches Derek Fisher he is at risk of not only losing his team but his best player and Fisher’s close “friend” Kobe Bryant. Jackson wasn’t worried about losing to the Jazz… and he definitely isn’t worried about losing to the Rockets without Yao Ming. The Zen Master is hoping Kobe or Derek approaches him, like Luke did, and asks for the younger and more talented Brown or Farmar to start in his stead at this advanced stage in his playing career. The Zen Master again spreading peace and harmony throughout the Laker Galaxy. I will never doubt him again. Well… maybe… Im sorry Phil for doubting, I hope this made it up to you.

  67. Isn’t there a difference between being soft and having trouble? Dirk didn’t exactly get punked by Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson (I don’t remember any flagrants or hard fouls in the series), he just has trouble with athletic wings who are long enough to bother his shot and quick enough to prevent his drives. Especially considering Nelson knew Dirk’s tendencies, you could see Davis and the others knew exactly when to send the double to bother Dirk. As for the Finals, I just think that (while Dirk is talented) he came across a player infinitely more talented than he is in Wade, one of a select few that can carry a team single-handedly.

    I guess I just don’t see why Dirk saying something back to West or Martin makes him a better player. If he breaks into the post-game conference and screams for Martin’s head, does that change the fact that he has trouble with defenders in the Martin mold?

    Whatever. I really don’t care enough about Dirk one way or another to debate this. I do think he’s not a true #1 player that can lead his team to a championship. I’m just not sure how much of that is limitations on his game, or the proverbial “softness” label people seem to love so much.

  68. would like to know, is anyone from the media or laker representatives read these blogs?

  69. 68. Media, yes. (Not everyone obviously, but yes.)

    But people in player/personnel with the Lakers, or anyone on the basketball side of operations? No, so far as I know. And I’d be worried if they were.

  70. Update on LO:

    According to Lakers spokesman John Black, results of Lamar Odom’s Monday morning CT scan and MRI are that he has a lower back contusion (bruised back).

    His status for Tuesday evening’s Game 5 vs. Houston – which tips off at 7:30 p.m. – is questionable, and his condition will be updated subsequent to Tuesday morning’s shootaround.

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/090511odominjuryupdate.html

  71. Is that good or bad news for Odom and the Lakers?

  72. After a bad loss, looking at the box score will usualy give you some sort of tell on what happened. So, after checking it out, you’ll notice that the only sinificant area we were realy out-played, was on the boards (and even there we were only out-rebounded by 6).
    So, where did it all go wrong? A couple of interesting trends i noticed. Obviously it was the first and third quarters that realy killed us. Many will argue that those are the most important in the game, since they set the tempo. In the first quarter, it took the lakers 6 1/2 minutes to score their 5th and 6th points. In the third, once again it took exactly 6 1/2 minutes to score their 5th and 6th points. At the same time, in each of those quarters Houston shot realy well. they hit 4 threes in each, while only hitting 2 in the other 2 quarters combined.

  73. “The Rockets match-up better without Yao.”

    So you are saying that Houston is a better team without its best player? I guess Yao’s presence did not effect game 1 at all. I think you are rationalizing all the Laker’s losses. If the Lakers had not hit three pointers at a phenomenal rate on Friday, they are down 3-1 in this series which pretty much puts the “more talented team” myth to rest.

  74. I’m hopeful that we can write of Sunday’s mess as just an aberration. Time will tell how this season winds up.

    But time can also tell us things by looking at it in reverse, and hindsight suggests there’s a lot to worry about over the next three games, let alone should the Lakers meet Denver and possibily Cleveland.

    Unsteady point guard play has been there all season long. We’d see a glimpse here or there from any of the three players in question, but never for long.

    Vujacic’s shot has been off all season, and without him there really is not solid three-point shooter on the roster. Yes, Kobe can make them. But he’s most effective when he’s the one driving and setting others up for open looks. Fisher, Farmar, even Ariza are all capable, but hardly the steady outside look the team needs to thrive. The Machine filled that role well last year. This year… not so much.

    Bynum’s play since the playoffs began has been abhorrent, aside from a handful of (maybe three?) decent quarters. If he’s not plugging the lane, rebounding and getting some easy baskets based on his inside presence, the Lakers are better off without him on the floor.

    Lastly, this whole Jekyll & Hyde routine is just getting old. I can’t fathom how a team, at this stage in the season, can look so good one game and look so awful the next in terms of the effort it puts forward.

    Every team has its ups and downs, even the ones that win titles. But rather than comparing this one to the 1985 Memorial Day Massacre survivors or the one that overcame tough challenges from the Blazers and Kings in 2000 and 2002, I just wish that we could compare this team to the 2001 playoff Lakers which came out focused almost every night and dropped only one game to the Sixers on it’s way to the title.

    Too much to ask, I know. But a fan can dream, right?

    Let’s hope they right the ship soon.

  75. jim smith, you can say the same about Houston, if they had not hit those 3s at a Phenomenal rate yesterday, they would be down 3-1.

  76. It’s hard to argue all of Phil’s rings, but the Lakers seemingly have to work so hard for every basket. Why can’t we find a quick penetrating point guard who can drive and kick to shooters, or even better, to slashers like Ariza and Odom for easy hoops? That seems to be the trend these days, not the large guards (Harper, Shaw, et al) Phil prefers. Maybe Farmar can be one of those guys.

    Please, Lakers, in game 5 don’t go 3-happy. Gasol in the post all night…

  77. Basketball, paricularly at the NBA level, is all about matchups. It’s why the Lakers beat Cleveland but fall to Sacramento: the Cavs are the better team but they play to the Lakers strenths while Sac (pre trade of Miller at least) played to the Lakers weaknesses.

    So yes Joe, a Yao-less Rockets can be a tougher matchup for the Lakers but not be as good a team over 82 games.

  78. “jim smith, you can say the same about Houston, if they had not hit those 3s at a Phenomenal rate yesterday, they would be down 3-1.”

    Since when is 10-29 considered a phenomenal rate? 11-20 is considerably different than 10-29.

  79. Here is how it happens.

    +/- (Game 1, 2, 3, 4 and Overall)

    Brooks (+11, -12, -16, +9. -8 Overall)
    Hayes (+3, +15, 0, +16. +34 Overall)

    Fisher (-11, +15, DNP, -26. -22 Overall)
    Bynum (-3, -6, +1, -10. -18 Overall)

    Hayes is somehow DESTROYING the Lakers. Off the Charts. +8.5 average, no negatives, even during loses. Just unreal.

    Overall, Hayes exempted, it seems to be good nights, bad nights.

    All other things being equal, that indicates effort, focus, and game plan.

    Of course, we knew that already, which is why so many are griping about the Effort, the Focus, and the Gameplan.

    Game 5 is huge.

  80. Jimmy Smith-You never answered my question about why the Lakers went 65-17 and swept the C’s and the Cavs. Was it all just lucky 3′balls?

  81. If Hayes is doing the damage, let’s use Hack-a-Hayes. Get him out of the game. I was joking last time, but hell, if Popovich used it strategically, why can’t we?

    Do I actually think we’re going to do it? Of course not. I don’t really like the idea of intentional fouling myself, it seems cowardly, dishonorable in a sense, and messes up the game. But if we find ourselves down in Game 5, needing to make a comeback? Break it out. No one remembers little things like that once you have a ring. Whatever it takes to win.

  82. No Lamar? Now I’m worried. I know his game was way off on Sunday, but Lamar is very valuable to this team.

    Without LO in the line up, we have to move Pau to PF and start Bynum at center and rely on Powell as a sub for both. While Pau may do better at PF, I can’t say the same for Bynum or Powell. Bynum has demonstrated that he’s (1) not 100% healthy and (2) not quite ready for play-off prime time. As far as Powell, he had a good in-season game against the Rockets but he has been a non-factor thus far.

    I don’t know guys, things are going to get very tough without LO in the lineup.

  83. “So yes Joe, a Yao-less Rockets can be a tougher matchup for the Lakers but not be as good a team over 82 games.”

    If this statement be true then how can you say the Lakers have more talent than the Rockets?

  84. “Jimmy Smith-You never answered my question about why the Lakers went 65-17 and swept the C’s and the Cavs. Was it all just lucky 3?balls?”

    Four close games in the middle of the year don’t mean very much. If they did, the Lakers would have swept the Rockets already.

  85. 78,
    The alarming thing with the plus-minus with Fisher is that he always plays with the starters. At least Bynum has been playing with Sasha and Walton for most of his minuets.

  86. From Ludden: “We’re a little bit of a team that needs to have sometimes a spark put in us to play,” Jackson said. Apparently, Jackson is unable to light the fire himself.

    There’s the problem. We need a pyromaniac.

  87. Jimmy Smith- My point about the Lakers record is that it is not indicative of a team wholly dependent on the 3 ball. Of course our team is better when they are hitting, but we have several ways to beat a team, and our record indicates that. The Rox played well in Game 4, Artest was hot in Game 1, I don’t expect the Rox to take anymore games.

  88. 83. Apparently you do not grasp the concepts of what I said.

  89. @jim smith
    if im not mistaken, the games against the cavs were both double digit wins. both games against the celts were decided in the final minutes tho

  90. I think an MRI / CT scan showing no damage is as good as could be expected with Lamar. He’s shown a willingness to play with pain before (torn labrum a couple of years ago that he opted to play through instead of getting surgery for – unlike Jameer Nelson), so hopefully with rest and treatment he’ll make it back before the end of the series.

  91. Why is nothing being said about the fact that Kobe had only 15 points (on 17 shots no less)!? This was the biggest difference between yesterday and games 2 and 3. Kobe is our road worrior and leader. If he has that big of a drop in production on the road from one game to the next, then we are going to stuggle, plain and simple.

  92. “83. Apparently you do not grasp the concepts of what I said.”

    You were talking about matchups and how the Yao-less Rockets give the Lakers more match up problems. I am not sure at what position you think the Rockets now have a better matchup because of this, but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend this is true.

    You are the one who did not answer my question. Namely, if the Rockets, without Yao, give the Lakers more matchup problems, how can you say that the Lakers are the more talented team? Surely, a more talented team would have an even greater talent disparity given that the other team’s best player can no longer play would it not?

  93. Could we stop saying the Lakers are the most-talented team in the league? It means very little and it’s not even true.
    On paper, yes we may be the most-talented, but right now? I’d say CLE has a good lead on us. With Lamar not 100% and Bynum still not finding his stride, DEN and CLE are more-talented than the Lakers right now.
    And like I said, this means absolutely nothing if we don’t match the talent with a passionate effort.

  94. *both

  95. I think the main entry for this FB&G post and the Hollinger article are making excuses for the Lakers’ meltdown in Game 4.
    I wonder what the Lakers fans would have said if we were in CLE’s position right now, similar to our situation last year. We’d be saying ‘history is meant to be broken’ and that since we have played so well during these playoffs, we would win no matter who we faced in the Finals and we deserve to be champions.
    Yesterday’s game is no cause to panic, but even as the Lakers have had a great season of winning 65 games, we have seen towards the end of the regular season and this playoffs that the Lakers always need someone to light a fire under their butt especially at the expense of a team victory. This team struggles with motivating itself and to come out with a consistent and hard effort on a daily basis. At this point in the NBA calendar, I think we have to accept this is who we are and it is not going to change miraculously in the next 3 or 4 weeks.

  96. I just read about the Cuban deal with Kenyon Martin’s mom…. For a guy with a lot of money and business savvy, Cuban is one spoiled pre-schooler when it comes to his team. I don’t care what happened at the end of the game, you just don’t talk smack to a guy’s Mom and get away with it.

    I hope the league suspends him because this type of behavior cannot be tolerated. If a player did that, Stu would suspend him hands down.

  97. Yeah can you believe it the ultimate Kobe/Laker hater Is actually saying something reasonable about the the team WOW!!!!!!!!!!

  98. 92 (Jim Smith,

    Your arguments do not make sense. Just because Yao is the Rockets best player doesn’t make him a *better* fit against the Lakers based on his talent.

    The fact is that when Yao is on the floor, the Lakers can effectively push the tempo due to his slowness. Pau can use his quickness against him. Yao is not a physical player. That helps Pau. Then the Lakers can trap Yao, and/or swipe at the ball as he gets ready to turn. They have done this effectively in 6 of 7 games. against Yao and the Rockets this year. Nevermind that the rest of the Rockets seem to either give the ball to Yao when they do not want to, or do not give Yao the ball when they should. Tightening up the offense.

    Without Yao. Pace is not a problem. Short, squat, and strong Chuck Hayes can muscle Pau out if his comfort zone. The rest of the Rockets can shoot freely, and not feel forced to pass to Yao, and our strong side trap matters none, because Chuck Hayes doesn’t get the ball.

    So just because the Lakers may be more talented doesn’t mean that talent alone will win games. In the two games we didn’t play with maximum effort, we lost. Houston may not be as talented, but no one here called them bums.

    Match-ups determine everything. talent wise you lost. Match-up wise you gained. Yao gave us an advantage. An advantage that is now gone.

  99. “Why is nothing being said about the fact that Kobe had only 15 points (on 17 shots no less)!? This was the biggest difference between yesterday and games 2 and 3. Kobe is our road worrior and leader. If he has that big of a drop in production on the road from one game to the next, then we are going to stuggle, plain and simple.”

    Actually, the Lakers fortunes are more tied to Odom and Ariza, to a lesser extent, having good games than it is to Kobe having a good game. Kobe can have a bad game and the Lakers will still win if Odom and Ariza have good games. If Kobe has a good game but Odom and Ariza do not, the Lakers will lose more often than they win. If you don;t believe me, go back and check the Laker’s record in Kobe’s bad games(<40% shooting).

    This is why I think if Odom can’t play for the rest of the series, Houston will win the series.

  100. 98, You are the one who makes no sense. Without Yao in there, Pau scored 30 some points. How exactly did this make the Rockets match up better?

    Match ups are all about talent. The one with more talent wins the match up. (I thought this was common sense.) They are not two separate things. Just face it, the Lakers are not more talented than the Rockets. And FYI, I am not a Rockets fan.

  101. Pau scored the bulk of his points in basically garbage minutes of a 30 point game. He was the only offensive weapon the Lakers had on the court for over half the 4th quarter yesterday.

    That stat is completely skewed by the circumstance of the game.

  102. 101. Individual talent and team matchups are two different things. That is what we are discussing here.

    That is the crux of the disagreement here, and frankly I’m fast growing weary of the argument dragging down the comments.

  103. If my memory serves, Bryant was 3 for 5 at the start of the game while the rest of the team went 0 for 8. Isn’t this usually a recipe for Bryant going 10 for 28 and 1 assist, or something like that?

    What I liked (well no, there was nothing to actually like) was that Bryant only took 17 shots (granted he wasn’t on fire after the hot start either). He let the team play. Though it was meaningless, I think the team started getting some rythm in fourth. Pau did start playing like he should have been from the start.

    I’m not into predicting outcomes, but I will say that I think Bryant understands now that he can not go into iso mode and win the ring. And that bodes well for the team if and as they get deeper into the playoffs.

    People have been saying for a while that Bryant needs to trust his teammates. I think he is getting there. Now his teammates need to figure out that they need to come to play every friggin’ game.

    Is it just me, or did anyone else feel like Kobe was intentionally not going into hero mode while the team struggled?

  104. 104. He’s done that before, passed the ball in the crunch when the other team focused on him, and he got accused of giving up. He can’t win in many people’s eyes.

    But you are right, he tends to take the shots when the rest of the team isn’t hitting and isn’t willing. Remember the Lakers were down and Toronto and everyone shot like crap until he took over the game. But that will not win against Houston consistently.

  105. 103 Well, it would be nice if people would acknowledge the fact that the Rockets simply played better than the Lakers on Sunday instead of making excuses like “we didn’t play hard”, “they match up better without Yao,” etc. The truth is talent wise the two team are about even. Outside of Kobe and Pau and maybe Odom, the Lakers do not have very much talent. Ariza and Fisher are rotation players at best on most teams.

  106. I’m not horning in on the general disagreement, but this statement made me a bit incredulous:

    “The one with more talent wins the match up. (I thought this was common sense.”

    I hope that’s not referring to individual matchups. If so, how do you define “winning” a individual match-up? Scoring more points? More stats?

    If Matt Barnes forces Nowitzki into a 5-25 shooting night but is outscored 10 to 5, does anyone with common sense say Nowitzki “won” the matchup? Of course not. Nowitzki is expected to lead his team, and Barnes is a role player expected to play defense, not outscore his opponent. In that case, Nowitzki is far more talented than Barnes, but Barnes won the matchup. It’s as simple as that.

    Individual talent doesn’t lead to great team execution.

  107. jIM – Give it a rest. Your point has been made on the topic of talent. You seem like a pretty insightful guy and knowledgeable too. How about bringing up another point?

  108. Outside of Kobe and Pau and maybe Odom, the Lakers do not have very much talent. Ariza and Fisher are rotation players at best on most teams.

    Putting aside for the moment the fact that you’re ignoring some fine talent, exactly how many teams have more than three top-tier players? How many teams’ fourth-best guy is better than a rotation player?

    I’m glad to say that I didn’t watch Sunday’s game, but from what I’ve heard, the Lakers got outplayed and the Rockets played better. Are you suggesting that the Lakers played their best game on Sunday and still got beat?

  109. 107, this will be my last comment about talent but how often would the outcome you describe happen? Pretty much never. More often than not, Dirk would win the match up stats wise. The truth is the person with the most talent will win an individual matchup. That is why NBA players get drafted based on talent and not on the matchups, Bowie vs Jordan being the best example.

  110. I’m a little bit surprised at the way Skeets is treating this over at Ball Don’t Lie:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Courtside-Magic-fan-demands-apology-from-Big-Ba;_ylt=AiJxlCPV5XQdPTd_7G3Sofi8vLYF?urn=nba,162606

    I agree it should be a non-issue and the fan’s dad is kind of making a big deal of nothing, but Skeets made it seem like he inadvertently bumped him. From the video, looks more to me like he actually put a hand on the kids back and shoved him (obviously subconsciously, but still).

    Still a non-story, but the video’s funny.

  111. For what its worth, I still think the Lakers will win the next two games.

  112. 110 – Yes, who’s ever heard of a great defensive player giving a great offensive player trouble?

  113. The truth is talent wise the two team are about even.

    Uh, no. The disparity in talent (i.e. potential) is rather large. Gasol is an All-Star power forward, Odom and Bynum have borderline All-Star talents, Kobe is an HoF guard, and we have a host of good role players. Houston is a host of good role players with a coach that runs a great system to maximize their talents. That’s not to say that we don’t have a great system to maximize our players’ talents, but the difference is execution.

    Houston executed better and matched up with us well. It’s why they won yesterday. Take Charlotte or Sacramento. It’s obvious that we’re far better than both teams in terms of talent, but they have good matchups with us and simply executed better. Being more talented simply means that you should win, not that you’ll necessarily play better.

  114. Snoopy – to be fair, there really wasn’t enough room on the sideline for a man of his, well, girth to rampage through without shoving some poor kid out of the way. CLEARLY not his fault…

  115. PeanutButterSpread May 11, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Last night, the game pretty much ruined Mother’s Day for my mum. I had to hear non stop of how this Lakers team had no heart ya da ya da ya da. I’ll just chalk all that talk up to her “extreme” disappointment.

    come to think of it … when was the last time the Lakers loss on a Sunday this season?

    anyways, it’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers respond tomorrow. Yesterday’s defensive rotation was scrambled and just plain sucky.

    Hopefully tomorrow the Lakers will rally around the unjust nature of LO’s “charge” and his injury and avenge, nay -dominate- the Rockets.

    I’m tired of seeing Shane Battier and Ron Artest’s stupid hair cut.

  116. With regard to Big Baby:

    I think its ridiculous that a fan complains about his kid getting shoved by an overly excited basketball player. I’m sorry, but when you buy court side seats you know you run the risk that players will tumble into you, that an errand pass may hit you or that players may have contact with you. I hate Big Baby, but this is getting ridiculous. In my opinion, the one person that did something stupid here was the guy who bought the ticket for his 12 year old son without realizing the above.

  117. Oh.. and the replay shows he barely touched the kid… Geez. I wonder if this guy is related to Mark Cuban?

  118. goat – lol very true, and in Baby’s (the big one) defense, he probably knew he wouldn’t have the opportunity to rampage gleefully ever again. When your moment comes, you seize it. Rampage away, Glen Davis.

  119. “Take Charlotte or Sacramento. It’s obvious that we’re far better than both teams in terms of talent”

    Sac yes, Charlotte no. Try to be objective.

  120. I think Ariza should defend Battier I’m not sure who would guard Artest though…

    And Odom will likely be out for Game 5 : (

  121. Random non-Laker musing: why don’t more people talk about the bust that is Dorell Wright? Reminds me a little of Gerald Green (not in playing style, but another athletic wing who failed). I watched the guy his first 2-3 years, and he had all the physical tools. With heart could have been a great defender, at the least should have been a slasher. Just couldn’t put anything together. Awful to watch.

  122. 120, The Lakers would probably be better served finding a way to stop Brooks from driving than worrying about Artest who is shooting 40% for the year.

    I think they should double Brooks as soon as he passes half court so he gives the ball up to someone else. If anything, I would imagine that the Lakers would want Artest to shoot more outside shots, where he is shooting 33%.

  123. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything because it looks like everyone has moved on, but Jim Smith’s point in #110 seems off base to me.

    I actually think that the Bowie/Jordan draft decision shows that players are drafted off matchups and not necessarily on talent. I mean, Jordan was a two time player of the year. He was clearly more *talented* than Bowie. Yet Sam was drafted before MJ. Why? Matchups. Big men (like PG’s) have always been viewed as *building block* players and are more difficult to find. They are harder to match up with because few teams have a legit one. Examples of less talented big men being drafted over more talented wing players are prevalent. Look at Oden/Durant – Durant was POY as a Freshman and viewed as one of the most talented players to come out since Lebron, yet Oden the 7’0″ Center was taken over him. Look at the draft where Darko went #2 over Carmelo and Wade. ‘Melo had just won the NCAA Title and Wade led his team to the Final Four. Yet Darko, an intriguing prospect, but one that could not be viewed as more talented (a higher upside maybe, but not outright more talented as of the day he was drafted) was taken above those two players.

    So, sorry to bring this up with everyone seemingly moving on, but I think that talent and matchups can operate independently of eachother and often fuel different outcomes, decisions, etc. They are both important, but they can act independently from one another.

  124. 110 Jim. Your argument of talent = better player = winner is NOT an absolute truth. Matchups matter a lot. Based on your argument, would you say that Shane Battier is more talented than Kobe? Battier did outplay Kobe on Sunday, had a better shooting percentage and played a better defensive game.

  125. So a few Points

    1) Should Farmar Start? as much as fisher is part of our core he cannot guard small quick guards and farmar has not only done the best job on brooks but he is also competitive and hungry, Shanwow has also been great but i like the agressiveness of our offense and the chemistry that Farmar has with walton and odom.

    2) Kobe has to stop coming off his man as should everyone else. Without Yao,
    Brooks is maybe the only option that needs to be trapped, all of our defensive movement allowed for open looks and cuts from the offense. Landry cant go one on one , artest can barely beat us one on one, Battier no one on one game , Scola maybe but Gasol needs to be able to handle him one on one defensively

    3) Proper use of big men. They have no one taller than what 6’9 on the team, as much as chuck hayes has talent to push guys out of the box he cant stop any Andrew lobs and no one is attacking the basket off screens, kobe needs to be more of a slasher than a highlight jump shooter. If we put our big men in a position to attack the basket this will open up the three which should also help our cold shooters.

    And just a sigh of shame to look at the whole team on sunday and even Jackson with his comment that their emotion wont last, it lasted we never adjusted to brooks till the end and we lost.

  126. Houston’s Point Of View
    Guy’s, listen. If you win this series which I feel like you will it will make you stronger. you will not face a better defensive team than the Rockets. I want my team to win. I am proud of what they have done. We have nothing to lose. The difference is the team. There is team with the Rockets, and talent with the Lakers. I will take team play everytime. best of luck, and if we lose I will chear you guys on. If we win, chear our guys on for what they stand for. Great basketball and great team work.

  127. That game made me so angry I shaved off my playoff beard.

  128. Is it Kobe’s destiny to win a championship in the most disjointed/weird/unclean/polarizing way ever?

    I think so.

  129. Brian- I think any fan of basketball, even oppossing Laker fans, can respect and appreciate the teamwork, effort and execution the Rox exhibit. I hope the Lakers win the series and I hope it does make them bettter in the long run.

  130. 127 – Are you the only one happy Odom isn’t playing the next game? Probably. Odom is one of the best players the Lakers have.

    His likely absence will however make game 5 interesting to say the least. I’m expecting an explosion from Kobe.

  131. How is Houston anymore of a “team” than the Lakers? Because they pulled out a gutsy win under duress?

    The Lakers aren’t a team because they had a bad loss? Just a collection of talent?

    Comical.

  132. Their “team” that had trouble finishing games because all of the role payers went into “get mine” mode. Now all of a sudden, their the better “team.”

    We just got to 65 wins on “talent.”

  133. Team Players. Not better team

  134. I’m not so sure Farmar should start. He made a couple of very poor decisions last game, like shots early in the clock and bad entry passes. I liked his defense, but I think channeling his inner Stephon Marbury (Boston Marbury who refuses to shoot) will do Jordan some good.

    I really, really, really, really want Pau to turn and face Hayes some more. Not only does this give us more room for cutters, but Pau can also see the floor much better to pass to Odom and Bynum. Our offense just works so much better when our bigs face-up and pass over the top of defenses. That and he can just shoot over the top of Hayes, or drive on him if Hayes crowds the jumper. I’ve really come to respect Hayes’ low post defense; he really moves his feet well and holds his ground. That being said, he’s not growing any time soon, so Pau’s high release should go right over Hayes.

    Outside of Kobe, Odom is the one player we can’t afford to lose now. Why? Because that implies more Josh Powell, and the last thing we need right now is more turnovers/blown put-backs/missed dunks/giving up offensive rebounds. Honestly, I must’ve been smoking 5 lbs of something when I said Josh Powell could cover some of Lamar Odom’s production. The guy’s a train wreck whenever he’s in the game.

    I really wanna punch Andrew Bynum in the face. I know he’s a naturally shy guy, but he needs to show some emotion. He needs to get heated, get some intensity and start really controlling the defense. It seems like whenever he gives up an offensive rebound, or whenever he gets blown by for a cheap touch foul, or runs some one over committing an offensive foul, it doesn’t affect him. I want him to be mad; I want him to show some desire, some hunger. Maybe a left hook to the face will wake him up.

  135. Just for fun: if Odom sits, and the Lakers win game 5, what happens next?

    I think the Rockets can afford to sacrifice Ron Artest, so they’ll win game 6. Who do the Lakers get rid of for the final game?

  136. i am missing something– why is odom assumed to be out? isn’t he a game-time decision after essentially a negative CT-scan and MRI? Sounds to me that if his back isn’t in agony, he’ll play. Two and 1/2 days of icing and rest should be enough, right?

  137. My faith in Kobe has eroded bit by bit since losing to PHX after leading the series, and again when we lost to Boston, but it will really suffer when we fail to win a championship this year.

    Not that I won’t adore/admire/like him, but I will have absolutely no qualms about him being ‘not-comparable’ to MJ or even being mentioned after LeBron when discussing best player in the league.

    If you want to be mentioned among the top, you really have to capitalize when you are given the chance. If fate gives you two wins… a superstar should be able to will two more.

  138. I find it funny that you want to punch Drew in the face because he’s not showing enough emotion. If you’re waking up our lackadaisical players by punching them in the face, you better tape your fist, cause we’ve got a team full of em…

    …Speaking of Pau, a lot of folks are writing about what he needs to do against Hayes, etc. None of that matters if he’s not shooting his pull up J with confidence. He feeds off it and once he makes a few, sometimes only one, then he’ll post up harder, drop step harder, cut to the rim harder, and rebound harder. And if he misses a few, the rest of his game tends to suffer. We desperately need him to always face up and shoot it, with confidence and without hesitation. Then we could actually run the offense through him.

  139. Harold, what are you talking about? He’s a 1st ballot HOF right now, there’s nothing he can do at this point NOT to be mentioned at the top. About your faith:

    2006 – Up 3-1 to PHX, team quit on him
    2008 Finals – Team quit on him
    This year – Team looks more than capable of quitting on him

    None of that’s to say he’s blameless, but no matter how great you are, it’s a team game. Instead of anticipating the worse, enjoy the ride. If you’re in this primarily for his legacy, he has more playoff magic coming. Trust.

  140. I like the idea of punching Andrew Bynum in the face. Or bringing Mark Cuban here to insult his mother. Show some emotion, Drew, please. Are we sure he’s not synthetically engineered?

    I don’t mean to pile on him (especially since I posted yesterday about his natural recovery time taking this long), but I just don’t like his body language. When he tried to help on a drive and got called for a foul, I saw him throw his hands up in a helpless shrug like “What else can I do?” That signals to me not that he doesn’t care (as many would suggest), but he’s really feeling a ton of pressure. He feels like everyone is watching him and putting pressure on him to perform every single play. As someone (JVG?) said, it makes no sense – all they need from Drew is rebounding and defense, which requires effort as much as skill.

    Offensively, it’s all timing. Drew’s reverted back to making his moves too quickly. That’ll come back by next season, but if last year is any indicator, I don’t know if he can get his timing back in enough time to help us here.

  141. I know Phil will never do it, but Hack-a-Hayes would be awesome, just to see if we could get some of this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLx-Ei2Pk_Y

  142. I’m tired of all the excuses.
    Teams have gotten drilled in games before and still won the series. Oh really?? You don’t say??
    Let’s play Lakers ball and give the Rockets credit where it is due.

  143. clutch, I don’t buy the ‘team quit on him’ stuff.

    It’s the playoffs, it’s the finals, and how can a team simply quit? You’re up 3-1, no matter how badly your team quits you really can’t lose three in a row.

    As for the Finals, well, I could blame it on the team, but Kobe could’ve/should’ve forced game 7 if he is to be considered among the very best to ever play the game.

    Of course he’s a 1st ballot HOF, no doubt about it, but I’d say that about Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki as well. Being a 1st ballot HOF is great, but that’s not the same as being mentioned among ‘the’ best.

    (But then again, he’ll always be remembered for the 81. That alone does warrant him mention among ‘the’ best, I admit)

    If we’re going to give Kobe props for his clutchness, his killer instinct, his +alpha that separates him from the other geat players… he has to perform when the world’s is on his shoulders. Consistently.

    So far, he has delivered on some occasions, but has failed on many others, most notably the occasions mentioned above.

    Of course, all this is moot if we do win. If we win, well, Kobe has my vote for one of the best to ever play.

  144. Not really an update, but Lamar isn’t feeling so hot right now:

    http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2009/05/10/odom-describes-back-spasms-at/16571/

  145. Kurt, you may want to add these facts to yours and douse cold water to those saying “LA’s doomed”
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=PERDiem-090511
    Been a long time Hollinger was this unbiased. cheers!

  146. So far this season, as fans, we’ve turned on Farmar, Fisher, Sasha, Luke, Odom, Bynum, Pau, Kobe, and Phil. Really guys? I don’t even know what to say about any of this anymore.

    I don’t understand how in one season (from us fans’ perspective) we can be the best team in the league and also one of the most underachieving. How we can be the favorites to win title and then the team that we don’t trust to advance against an undermanned Rockets team. How we can believe that we’ve matured since last season (I’m talking our strong road trips with wins over Bos and Cle) and then we’re the same sorry sack that lost to Boston in the Finals.

    Many around here are frustrated with the team. I’m frustrated with us fans.

  147. Zephid’s on board! Let’s start the Hack-A-Hayes bandwagon. T-shirts anyone?

  148. Darius, fandom is fickle in nature, and you turn on anyone who performs at less than his peak, especially when handed a loss.

    That’s to be expected and accepted just as you would expect a 4/11 shooting night from Pau or a 2 rebound effort from Drew.

    Consistent superstars are rare, and so are consistently objective fans. Difference is, players get paid to bring out their best every game, while fans pay to be as fickle as they wish to be.

  149. Darius – It’s inevitable, you must give in. By tomorrow, I want to hear your thoughts as to how Adam Morrison’s lack of facial expression distracts the players on the court, and how Didier Mbenga is secretly sabotaging our front office from within.

    Embrace the mentality of the spoiled Lakers fan.

  150. besides, what’s the point of objectively accepting every performance and blaming it on… what, the refs?

    the only way you don’t turn against one of your own is if you simply admit that the opposing team is superior, or if there were other forces at work.

    unfortunately, with the lakers, it’s difficult to imagine an opposing team that is superior. maybe boston at full health. that’s about the only team I’d consider superior, but having Kobe sort of makes me think it’s not a big gap.

    Anyway, having no exterior forces to blame, each loss usually falls to certain players or plays, each with usually an identifiable victim. Now, an objective, knowledgable fan might cite past stats and circumstance or even an ‘off-night’ to get certain players off the hook, but even that will only go so far.

    Sometimes, your own player just simply did not do his job or was outperformed badly, and …

    .. it’s not wrong to point that out. It’s not like we’re clamoring for trades (one of the better things about this Forum) we’re just pointing out ‘a’ problem.

  151. Harold – I don’t think Darius was saying anything against criticizing players, that’s certainly valid. It’s just that there were some posts yesterday about how Phil is washed up, how Phil doesn’t know how to win, how Kobe will leave the Lakers after this season, how anyone outside of Gasol/Kobe/Bynum should be fair game to be traded, things like that. It’s fine to criticize, just rationally.

  152. There are so many insightful posters on this blog. I’m pretty sure many (if not most) of you have played on teams in organized leagues, be it at the high school level, college level or just in a rec league. I’ve been involved in more than a few games that mirror what happened to the Lakers yesterday. Games where you tell yourself not to let down, but your body doesn’t cooperate. Where a few plays go south, and then the whole thing steamrolls from there rapidly. I’ve lost to teams that I knew we were better than; conversely my team has crushed opposing teams that I knew were better than us. Sometimes the whole thing turns on a few plays. This didn’t mean we (or they) had no heart or toughness or whatever.

    One game does not define a team, win or lose. That’s why it’s a 7 game series. The Lakers played a tremendous game 3 and a miserable game 4. If they beat the Rockets by 30 tomorrow would that invalidate all that Houston has accomplished?

    When they won their first title of the Shaq-Kobe era in 2000, how many people recall game 5 in Indiana? In game 4 the Lakers, with Kobe returning from a sprained ankle and carrying the team in OT, won the defining game of the series. By all rights they should have closed out an inferior team two nights later. Instead they got blown out in game 5, in pretty humiliating fashion. I can recall columnists writing that an NBA champion doesn’t get blown out like that in a close-out game, that Lakers somehow weren’t worthy of the title. In the previous series they were up 3-1 against Portland before being badly outplayed for the next 2.5 games. Do we remember the 2000 team as one with no heart? I sure don’t. There are many more examples like this, and not just of the Lakers (as Hollinger points out).

    So I understand the frustration at the bad loss yesterday, but let’s not throw the team under the bus. This is the same team that beat Boston at home on the second night of a back to back. On every occasion where push has come to shove they’ve stepped up the plate. They’ll do the same Tuesday night with or without LO. Go Lakers!

  153. Don’t do it, harold. You can’t win the eternal debate at FB&G. To state the facts or not. If you do, you’re a crappy fan. If you blindly accept the highest of high and the lowest of lows with only fanfare and without criticism, you’re a good fan.

    “I don’t understand…we can be the best team in the league and also one of the most underachieving. How we can believe that we’ve matured since last season…and then we’re the same sorry sack that lost to Boston in the Finals.”

    Million dollar statements. Few are actually “turning” on the team. Several here have recently reminded us, that as fans, we have no control. We just watch, we’re not driving the car. So we react. Fans aren’t responsible for the insanely wild swings this team is capable of. All we can do it react to them. If it’s pretty, fan reaction will be pretty. If it’s ugly,…

  154. Harold,
    I can understand analyzing a loss and pointing out the factors that contributed to that loss. I think that is one of the strengths of FB&G. However, doing that and *turning* on players or team is a different deal altogether, imo. It’s not just semantics to me. When fans oscilate from full belief to all out doubt, I don’t get that. Earlier you argued that your faith in Kobe has eroded and would continue to do so “when” we don’t win. You then said that your faith would be restored if we do win. I don’t get that either. I just don’t, and maybe never will, understand how opinions can change so easily or soley off a single factor. That roller coaster of belief and doubt, triumph and failure becoming the only school of thought. I just don’t get it. Sure we pay for tickets and we watch on tv and we buy jerseys and we’re all entitled to our opinions…but to switch an entire way of thinking because of a handful of results or performances – like I said before, I may never fully grasp it.

  155. Snoopy, why do we always react to the extremes of either side of the comments? The truth lies in the middle. The ones you mentioned were the extremes. I say disregard those and debate the middle.

  156. 145, whohoa Darius, hold on with the sweeping generalizations. While what you say can be construed as true, it means that one has to think of the social entity “Lakers fans” as being singular-minded: such is definitely not the case. Different fans have turned on different players, depending on what they value (emotion, intensity, BBall IQ, skills, shooting, dribbling, defense, etc.) and what they feel that particular player lacks. People who don’t value BBall IQ and passing don’t value Luke Walton. People who don’t value defensive versatility, ball-handling, and passing wrapped up in one package don’t value Lamar Odom. People who don’t value speed, aggressiveness, and confidence don’t value Jordan Farmar. If people don’t value the qualities exuded by certain players, they will almost certainly see all their flaws, causing overreactions as you’ve observed.

    That being said, claiming that “Lakers fans” believe that the Lakers are both the best team in the league and the most underachieving at the same time is similar to saying that all Americans are racist or all Europeans are arrogant. Sure, some people believe Americans are racist, and some people believe that Europeans are arrogant, but some people also hold a diametrically opposing belief, causing conflicting ideals like the ones you listed.

    I think perhaps you’re grouping all the various whiners into one group, but I think I could find a pro-Lamar Odom, anti-Luke Walton fan and another pro-Luke Walton, anti-Lamar Odom fan. Naturally, when it comes to whining, one will whine about Odom, the other will whine about Walton. It just so happens that we’re caught in the crossfire of a medium that is really conducive to whining, so we appear to be under an onslaught of “OMG (NAME) SUCKS, WAIVE HIM NOW!!!!!!!!!”

    I too tire of the whining, but for some people who live vicariously through their basketball team, that’s all they can do. Some people can’t help but whine their way through life, and this transmits to their fan behavior.

  157. Alex V,
    Survivor:Playoffs ?

  158. Clutch: What’s the issue?

    “The truth lies in the middle.”

    I couldn’t agree more, I always feel the truth in nearly every situation is between two extremes. But if I see a ridiculous post like “Wow, Phil Jackson is so unmotivated he can’t win anything” I’m going to call the poster on their moronic-ness.

    The reason I mentioned those extremes is because those are the ones that I had personally problems with. I definitely don’t have any problems with normal criticism (I’ve been riding Farmar hard for longer than most and I’ll probably continue to do so). And I agree those are the only ones worth truly debating. But there’s some extreme posts that deserve to get called out.

    I’m not sure where the disagreement is.

  159. Zephid,
    Maybe I came off wrong. I’m not one to group people together as I respect diversity of opinion. And believe me, I understand preference and how everyone has their likes and dislikes; different strokes for different folks, right? But like I said earlier, I don’t understand the swings in mindset when interpreting this team.

    And clutch, I don’t think your characterization is fair. I don’t think anyone is shot down for stating the facts. I think people are shot down for only using certain facts while ignoring/minimalizing other facts in order to justify their claims of despair and doom. As you mentioned the truth is often in between roses and wretchedness. I just wish it wasn’t so easy to get as many to the darkside as we normally see after a bad loss.

  160. By the way, DB, that’s a great post – I had totally forgotten about the 2000 Finals.

  161. From the looks of this thread, tomorrow’s game can’t get here any sooner, lol.

  162. I think, on the whole, Darius is right. I have been surprised at some of the negativity of some (many?) LA fans about the Lakers. They were getting slammed in the last series for not winning by enough. Throughout the season hammered for every loss. Any player who has a bad game brings out the critics and needs to be gone at the end of the season. It is not the criticsm that I find troubling (Lakers deserved to be criticised after the last performance) but it is the violent mood swings. The willingness to throw anyone under the bus. It seems as if people don’t actually like the team or enjoy the experience. That I do find perplexing.

  163. By my ‘faith’ in Kobe I meant my belief that he belongs in a conversation among the very, very best, the Top 5 of all time.

    After that PHX series, I downgraded my assessment to about 7. Last year, well, I could rationalize that the Lakers, as a team, was overmatched and I sort of acknowledged that Kobe+Pau+Odom < Allen + Garnett + Pierce, so my assessment kinda stayed there.

    But if we do lose again this year, in the finals, I am downgrading my assessment to 10, even 15 or so if we can’t make it to the finals. It’s still a generous assessment for anyone that’s not a Kobe fan, and to those who watched the league pre-Kareem (my NBA fandom starts with Kareem as a Laker) but that’s the kind of ‘faith’ I have in Kobe.

    Now, that may be a roller coaster to some, but such is life at the top. Percentage points of percentage points separates the best with the greatest and the great, and those miniscule points can come from single events and hinge on single events. Kobe, with 12 years on his legs, has less and less time and potential to make up any such points, and that’s what saddens me.

    As a fan, I don’t want to drop my favorite player after Kareem down the list of the greatest, but as a rational fan and as somebody who enjoys this pseudo-intellectual exercise of ranking and comparing players, I am compulsed to do so ;)

  164. Snoopy, as usual we don’t have a disagreement.

    Snoopy & Darius, you’re both right. I wasn’t calling anyone out. I just saw harold’s subsequent comments, found them rather mild, and then I saw the “regulars” come out and kinda lump his comments in with some of the more radical ones. The bastion of truth & justice I am, I had to say something.

    About the darkside, I just see it as the internet and disregard it. It’s so much good commentary here, it’s easy for me to block out the noise.

    And why you gotta take my line and say it better than me? roses and wretchedness…

  165. I agree with you Darius. People around here do tend to drift towards extremes moreso than moderation. However, I think what you construe as swings in mindset are actually just different people speaking up at different times. When times are good, the optimists come out in droves, full of “OMG LAKERS 2009, 2010, 2011,2012,2013 CHAMPS!!!!” When we beat Boston and Cleveland during the mid-season road trip, all the happy-go-lucky people were out and about proclaiming the unbeatability of this Laker team. Then, when we go on a road trip late in the season, lose a couple of games to Atlanta and Charlotte, the pessimists started flying out of the wood-work proclaiming that the Lakers aren’t going to win anything and the team needs to be blown up.

    Both kinds of fans are annoying, but both are separate entities which just so happen to chime in at different times. This makes the Laker fan base seem exceedingly dissociative, when in fact those people are very very consistent in their beliefs, it’s just they choose not to state them at certain times.

    Some people are only capable of criticizing. Others are only capable of praising. A select few are able to actually differentiate between euphoria and rationality and see the larger picture beyond a particular moment or emotional high/low.

    I for one think Kurt has done an absolutely stellar job keeping the ship steady, not going too high with the highs, nor too low with the lows. I used to be much more extremist as a basketball fan until I came here; now I’ve adopted a much more laissez-faire attitude towards the team.

    It is one thing to take joy in one’s team winning and feel pain when one’s team loses; it’s another to allow those emotions to bleed into one’s rationality.

    And turning on one player because of a short-term run of bad performances is just a lack of understanding of human capabilities. We’re not machines; we don’t perform at 100% capacity at all times. All we can ask from our players is effort on each night. Truly, the only criticism that I levy at our team is lack of effort. To expect more is to deny the humanity of our team.

  166. I don’t think the answer is just to pound it in to pau. When the lakers do that he just starts turning the ball over. However, they do have to get him going. More importantly he has to get himself going. Gasol takes himself out of the games sometimes by not getting good positions and being passive when he does touch the ball. They need to stop using pau gasol to set screens for kobe because it just takes him away from the basket. they need to use odom or fisher for the picks to create mismatches if battier decides to or has to switch.

    Also phil has to realize fisher cannot guard brooks. Fisher needs his minutes limited to 15-20. Fisher’s shot has been off and he can’t defend brooks. Fisher is basically a lost cause.

    Finally, the lakers need to play with some pride, energy and focus. If they do they don’t have to change a thing their talent would overcome anything houston throws at them.

  167. Darius,

    I get your point, but part of the frustration fans feel stems from the fact that this team is so hard to read.

    We never know which team we’re going to see on a given night: the one that can lose a key starter to injury and subsequently blast some of the league’s best teams on a lengthy road trip? The won that had the league’s second-best record? The one that compiled 11-2 over the course of some months?

    Or will we get the Lakers team which failed to show up for a playoff game against an undermanned Rockets team? Maybe the one that couldn’t slow Kwame Brown in a loss at Staples Center? Or maybe the one that dropped a 14-point fourth quarter lead to lose to the Sixers?

    I think the fans are so often
    schizophrenic is because the Lakers are just that. Just once it would be nice if they did what we’d think they would, such as following two straight tough wins over Houston with a neck-around-the-throat effort to go up 3-1.

    But that’s not these Lakers, for better or worse. So instead we get to sweat through the drama.

    Bottom line — if they make it to the promised land, these pitfalls will all be just a brief memory as we focus on the sweetness of a title.

    If the Lakers fall short, these missteps will be etched into our brains like the Game 6 loss last year, dropping to the Pistons after starting out 11-0 in ’89, or Ralph Sampson’s tip in ’86. The fans will live or die either way, and we’ll still be here chatting about the team we love/hate depending upon the emotion at hand.

  168. I think I understand Darius’ point in #145. To be a fan and call for the immediate firing of all players (‘cept for KB) and the coaching staff (Kurt in particular was singled out in a previous post) all because of a single game is quite tiring & irritating. It’s like these guys didn’t do anything right the whole season. Let’s all be objective – that’s what Darius wants to point out, methinks…

  169. Wow that was a very, very late whistle on the K-Mart foul. I want to see a replay on that.

  170. Dirk is playing out of his mind. High post or low post, it doesn’t matter; he’s hitting everything including his free throws.

    Josh Howard looks like an old man out there, playing on two severely sprained ankles and a gimp wrist. Ouch!

  171. “Fisher is basically a lost cause. ” …maybe for this series. Wait ’til we get on the next & face Billups. You’d rather have Farmar or ShanWOW on Billups? For all his shortcomings lately, I am of the opinion that Fish is still the most cerebral player on the team.

  172. Snoopy2006 – I thought K-Mart hit Dirk right on the elbow.

  173. I don’t understand why, when one team is up by 1, inbounding the ball, with less than 4 seconds to go, why do they hold on to the ball and let the other team foul? Throw the ball as high as you can; the clock will run out before the other team gets a chance to shoot.

  174. E-Roc: Yeah it probably was a foul, I just hated the incredibly late whistle. The whistle was blown after it became clear the shot was an air ball.

  175. Chris Webber, when he first came on, was so good. He was a natural. Soft spoken, great analysis. Like Van Gundy, he’s gotten too caught up in this shtick (although unlike JVG, Webber was influenced by others).

  176. robindude, to put a cap on this for me, I cosigned on the Rambis comment. My opinion on that is definitely not based on that game or even this series. I’m just not sure what positives he’s ever brought during his stint in the coaching arena. And I’m not a fan of the SSZ. You never know people’s full mindset with they post something.

    Denver gets to sweat it out for another game. That’s good, because they’re really starting to impress and worry me.

  177. robindude

    Yeah I completely agree. I’m not saying give up on fisher forever. When phil saw it was nothing andrew bynum could do against paul milsap who was just faster than bynum, he sat him. I think he needs to do the same with fisher, for this series. Fisher will be a crucial component in the denver series if he can be physical with billups.

  178. I spoke too soon, Chris Webber seems bang on right now, at least.

  179. I don’t think any fan is happy when their team loses, but you don’t completely freak out when your team gives effort but the other team was just a little better that. Like the mavs were tonight. Denver still gave effort and energy.

    But thats not the case with the lakers. They just don’t show up at all. Thats what makes the laker fans wishing phil was fired and everybody except kobe can get traded every time they lose a game. The lakers just need to give effort.

  180. pff E-Roc, that was a weak throw. He got it maybe 15 feet in the air. I’m talking up in the air conditioning system, or slamming into the jumbotron. Oh yea, and throw it towards your opponent’s basket, not yours.

    Seriously, if you’re not retarded, you can easily take 4 seconds off the clock throwing the ball straight up.

  181. I see that the Nuggets lost I guess there are not as tough the media has been saying. This Is the playoff anything can and will happen You would think the lakers were on the verge of being swept, from the panic around town But I bet they won’t get criticized nationally as much as the Lakers have after dropping a game, it’s really pathetic the atmosphere lately

  182. Every team in the League knows that if you are playing the Lakers and the Lakers are up by 15-20pts, if you keep playing hard, they will let you back in the game.

  183. Things are tough – Laker Nation is turning on Laker Nation. But this is the mark of the Kobe-championship. Polarizing. It has to happen this way.

    For what it’s worth, it’s not just Laker fans that are this way. Fan bases of every team in every sport tend to react the same way. However, I do think its fair to be ticked off at the effort. We can all (rational ones) accept a loss, but it is in our right to be vocal about the lack of energy.

  184. I believe we should start jordan at point and bring fish off the bench with the second unit. Jordan can stay in front of brooks a lil better and fish might be able to keep a body on lowry. i think if we limit that PG penetration and none of that “semi-helping standing in the paint” s*&%, we can finish them in 6

    kobe shud stay on battier and not leave him with 5 ft to shoot a 3

  185. It’s been a rough couple days for the Lakernation. One bad loss can do that when you invest as much in the team as we do. Just remember to take the good with the bad, and enjoy the drama. After the game 1 loss, I was anxious, irritable, and stressed out. After games 2 and 3, I was thankful for game 1 because it seemed to have provided the “spark” Phil mentioned. Yesterday I was supremely upset about game 4, but I’ve calmed down and realized that now I’m much more intrigued by this series than I’d be if we had won game 4. Simply put, I’m stoked for game 5. This is entertainment, folks. Let’s enjoy the ride!

  186. Well, this has been interesting reading tonight for me, you know going to the links people are posting and reading the conversations here at FB&G. I am not going to have the 6 hours every night to do this. Snoopy2006, good link about Billups about a hundred and twenty comments earlier, I always like your links from here. Aaron, I was looking forward to your follow-up comment about Fisher tonight from yesterdays thread. Kurt, that was a funny joke at the beginning of this Post, only here at FB&G is it a well-rounded entertainment center.

    I am not going to stress over the Lakers on Tuesday night; they will win the game won’t they? Enjoy the ride, right?

    GO LAKERS…

  187. Quick poll: does anyone out here doubt that the winner of game 5 is virtually a lock to win the series? I don’t see this Lakers team suddenly becoming the kind of psychologically invincible unit that can respond to losing 2 straight to a Yao-less Rockets team and, even more so, I don’t see the Rockets winning games 6 and 7 after losing game 5.

    I’m not sure what the %s are for Game 5 winners after 2-2, but I’d increase that probability for this series (for both teams).

    This is the season, boys and girls.

  188. Did you see the end of the regular season when Shannon Brown shutdown Billups? I think Brown can def play better D against him then Fisher. I think Fisher is a “lost cause” in the sense that at this stage of his career he can’t guard PG’s anymore.

  189. 154!!!!!,
    Thank you… you are very right. I didn’t watch that game and think “wow… we really didn’t play hard.” People say that because its easier to just think that and not have to see the little plays that went wrong.. or the match-ups that didn’t go right…. or the strategic mistakes we made or they didn’t make. In the playoffs everyone including us plays hard every game especially in a close series. The are the best of the best people. Things didn’t go our way and momentum swung to the home team. A match-up that of course really hurt us was Brooks against Fisher the entire game. Fisher made Brooks into the best player on the floor. So almost in reality they did have the better team. Because they had the best player on the floor that game. Brooks against Fisher is a better match-up for them than Kobe on Battier is for us. Its not that Kobe is not at least the 2nd best player in the NBA… its that Fisher is so bad that he lets a regular PG like Brooks dominate like a Hall of Famer. I don’t think its fair to say the Lakers didn’t bring it in Game 4. It did look like that to the common fan because we had to collapse the paint and trap Brooks because he compromised our defense so often leaving Houston shooters wide open.

  190. Zephid,
    “Throw the ball as high as you can; the clock will run out before the other team gets a chance to shoot.”

    I forget which year it was, but Magic did that at the end of one of the games in the Finals.

  191. What are the rules on the clock issue in that situation? Doesn’t it only start to run as soon as the inbounds is touched by a player? If that’s the case, I’m confused as to how throwing it up in the air would run off the 3-4 secs?

    Also, for all those doubting Dirk’s ability to carry a team – last night he dropped 44/13 after playing 44 minutes. For the series he’s averaging 35/12 and shooting 53.5% from the field. How much more do you want him to do?

  192. goat,
    Yea, somebody has to catch it, touch it, whatever before the clock starts.

    I see this thing won’t die about the Diggler. Question: Is Dallas winning this series? Nope. You can see my mini-rant above for my full thoughts on Dirk. Droppin 44 and being 3-1 don’t change history.

    It’s not about stats it’s about impact. If he can somehow impact his way to a game 7, color me impressed.

  193. wiseolgoat,
    Good point about Dirk. If there were ever a player who could win a series all by himself it was Wilt Chamberlain. He couldn’t do it.

    Can’t we get beyond penalizing a player because his team doesn’t win it all? If he continually fails in clutch situations then he may be criticized, by to bag on Karl Malone because he never won a ring is really bogus.

    When this game was created it was envisioned as a team game. Nothing since then has changed this. ESPN has tried its best to focus on individuals – see Michael Jordan and Lebron James – but these people don’t win it all until the GM does the job of surrounding the player with other competent players and the coach is able to institute a system that can win against any defense.

    Neither Dirk or Kobe are bums because their teams haven’t won it all. Both need team members who can come through – either on defense or offense -under pressure – and a coach who doesn’t foul things up at the wrong time.

  194. The clock starts when an on-court player touches the ball. This means the player throwing in the ball can’t throw it in the air, but the player receiving the ball can throw it into the air.

  195. My question about impact is how much of it depends on the rest of the team?
    People tend to assign a lot of glory/blame to the team leader, but how much of that is true?
    Is it not possible that the Mavericks just aren’t a great team outside of Dirk? Also I think there is a factor of mythologizing and media-based story arcs that determine how players are viewed- outside of theior actual performance on the court.

    Anyways, I was messing around with some numbers (I know, I know), and this is what I found:
    In the last 8 seasons, Dirk has played in 96 playoff games. Kobe has played in 95. (8 years= starting from when Dirk made the playoffs- keep in mind Kobe didn’t make the playoffs in 04-05.)

    Dirk Pts. Rbs. AST STL TO Blocks FG% TS%
    Regular 24.6 9.3 3.0 1.0 2.0 1.1 47.5% 58.1%
    Playoff 27.0 12.0 2.8 1.2 2.1 1.0 0.453 57.4%
    Change 9.9% 30.2% -4.8% 17.7% 3.6% -11.6% -4.7% -1.2%

    Kobe Pts. Rbs. AST STL TO Blocks FG% TS%
    Regular 28.9 5.8 5.2 1.7 3.0 0.5 45.8% 55.8%
    Playoff 28.2 5.4 5.2 1.4 2.9 0.7 0.447 53.6%
    Change -2.4% -5.7% 0.0% -4.8% 0.0% 10.8% -1.8% -3.9%

    Looking a these numbers, Dirk has stepped his game up from the regular season to the playoffs more than Kobe has (arguably and only looking at these factors of course). They’ve both been to a finals and lost- so their success has been comparable.

    Just some food for further discussion (unless everyone is tired of it.)

    (Sorry if the formatting goes crazy on those stats- I have no idea what this will look like after I publish)

  196. This might make it easier to read:

    Dirk Regular / Playoffs / Change
    Pts. 24.6 / 27.0 / 9.9%
    Rbs. 9.3 / 12.0 / 30.2%
    AST 3.0 / 2.8 / -4.8%
    STL 1.0 / 1.2 / 17.7%
    TO 2.0 / 2.1 / 3.6%
    Blocks 1.1 / 1.0 / -11.6%
    FG% 47.5% / 0.453 / -4.7%
    TS% 58.1% / 57.4% / -1.2%

    Kobe Regular / Playoffs / Change
    Pts. 28.9 / 28.2 / -2.4%
    Rbs. 5.8 / 5.4 / -5.7%
    AST 5.2 / 5.2 / 0.0%
    STL 1.7 / 1.4 / -4.8%
    TO 3.0 / 2.9 / 0.0%
    Blocks 0.5 / 0.7 / 10.8%
    FG% 45.8% / 0.447 / -1.8%
    TS% 55.8% / 53.6% / -3.9%

    The interesting thing is that both of their usage % both goes down slightly in the playoffs. (I have no idea how that usage calculation works though.)
    Kobe’s minutes went from 39.2 Reg. to 43.1 POs over that period.
    Dirk’s minutes went from 37.3 Reg to 38 POs.

    *THere is about 75% chance I made some huge calculation mistake somewhere- so multiple grains of salt are needed.

  197. With regard to throwing the ball in the air to run out the clock, it cannot be done on an inbounds play because someone has to touch the ball first. Of course, once the player receives the inbounds pass they are free to do so if they have the wherewithal to do it.

    When Magic did it against Portland in the playoffs, he had had just snagged a rebound, and threw it as hard as he could back up over his shoulder to let the clock run out so they couldn’t foul him. I always thought that was a genius play.

  198. I think it’s entirely possible the Mavs just aren’t a great team outside of Dirk. If you saw last night’s game, Josh Howard (ostensibly the #2 guy) can’t move normally. He just can’t, yet he’s being asked to play 30+ minutes a game. Jason Terry hasn’t provided as much firepower at all this postseason, and Kidd (while showing flashes of ballhandling / passing ability) has been dominated by Chauncey and has faced turnover issues. Couple that with the fact that his starting center is an offensive zero and his current x-factor who must step up to win is a 5’8″ guard who was lit up by JR Smith last night, and it’s remarkable that this series is a blown call away from being 2-2.

  199. I am surprised that more people are not discussing LO. His absence makes the bench that much thinner. I know he can be vilified at times, but with his versatility, he is responsible for a large part of the Lakers’ success.

  200. All,

    Now is not the time to bicker, debate, whine, backstab or blame. I was at both games in Houston and as frustrating as game 4 was, I was reminded that we controlled this team quite well in game 3. We did what we absolutely had to do – get a split. We’re at home tonight and will have had 2 days to adjust to the small ball that they’ve brought without Yao. There is no doubt whatsoever that we will win tonight and wrap this up in game 6. Embrace the challenge that is in front of us and the joy of watching a team driven to do more…Go Lakers!!!

  201. According to this third-hand knowledge, Lamar will play:

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-40-52/The-Mood-at-Laker-Practice.html

  202. LO is the heart and soul of this Laker team. As he goes, so do the Lakers.

    If LO is having a bad game, then all the supporting cast is having a bad game. If he’s on fire, then the bench gets fired up. A healthy LO, playing good can offset an off-nite for Kobe. An off-nite for LO (or not having him around) means that Kobe and Gasol have to kick it up a notch – and that’s not a position this squad wants to be in.

  203. Yes, the rule is someone has to touch it before the clock starts, however, after someone catches it and they throw it 100 feet in the air, the clock is running the entire time. I can’t see why this isn’t done. Number 1, if you do this immediately, towards the opponent’s basket, they’re in a complete quandry: if they don’t foul you, 4-5 seconds is going off the clock. If they do foul you, you’re assured 3 free throws (as most of the time you would do this beyond the three point line), because you were technically in the act of shooting.

    Imagine if the Rockets had the ball, up by 1 with 6 seconds to go. They throw it in to Yao, and he chucks the ball into the rafters. Assuming it doesn’t get stuck (delay of game one would think), there’s no way the ball will land before 4-5 seconds are off the clock, and so long as it’s near the opponent’s basket, them making a full court shot in less than a second has got to have less probability than Yao missing at least one-free throw and the opponents making a three on a set play.

  204. Does the shot clock trump the game clock in these situations? Specifically, if there’s four seconds on the shot clock and six on the game clock, the team inbounds & chucks it up in the air for seven seconds, is the game over or does the game clock ‘freeze’ when the shot clock ends (even if the ball is still in the air) and becomes a turnover wtih 2 seconds left?

  205. Re: Magic’s throwing the ball into the air…

    It was against the Blazers in the 2001 Western Conference Finals, the game the Lakers won to clinch the series.

    It was one of the smartest basketball plays I’ve ever seen, and coming from Magic, I’d thought I’d seen it all. Dude always found a way to one-up himself.

  206. Zephid – as it was, Carlisle drew up a great inbounds play that got Terry the ball and burned off 2 of the 3 secs on the game clock. Almost the same thing.

    Chris J – Didn’t the Lakers play the Blazers in the 2000 WCF? And are you sure Magic was on that team?

  207. I am at the game – the most intense, loud, frantic crowd I’ve experienced in a long time. Doubt it comes through on tv – really affecting the game. That and the 97 things we’re doing poorly.