Lakers/Rockets Game 5 Chat

Kurt —  May 12, 2009

Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles
I really am not worried about the Lakers focus or effort tonight. That may sound weird after the last two days where in all of Lakerdom, the team was bashed for its flat effort Sunday. But for anyone who followed the Lakers this season, that effort was almost predictable. Just as predictable, after a flat game the Lakers almost always come out with a very good effort.

Instead, let’s focus on what they have to do.

• Run the offense through Pau Gasol. In game four the Rockets came out with a new gameplan while the Lakers decided not to execute theirs. Entry passes to Gasol, if they happened at all, were sloppy. If you have watched the Lakers since the All Star break, you know that the triangle offense has run best when the ball ends up in the hands of the best passing big man in the game — Pau gets the ball and good things happen. The other guys need to move without the ball, Gasol will reward them, and that will open up ways for him to score.

• The Rockets are a lot more freewheeling and aggressive without Yao, and they have given the green light to shots earlier in the clock. Be ready for that, don’t expect them to run 15 seconds off the clock setting up. That was the old Rockets, not the new ones.

• The Lakers need to change how they defend the pick and roll with Brooks (insert you own joke here about defending it at all would be a change). Bigs have got to show out harder and use their length. The Lakers should even trap him on occasion — Brooks cannot be allowed to turn the corner. But part of that last game was the Laker guards did a crap job of fighting through the pick and recovering to their man, that opened up things as the bigs cannot hold Brooks off for that long. The guards have to help.

Brooks has preferred passing options and if he can’t get up a head of steam those become long passes that Ariza et al can steal, or Scola and teammates will need to come out farther to get the pass, pushing them away from the basket. Either is a better option than last game.

• Stick with your man if he can shoot the three. Kobe, I’m looking at you.

• Rebound like you mean it.

• Get back in transition defense and be aware of your man (the Lakers got caught in a ton of mismatches this way last game).

• Realize that even if you get a big lead, this Houston team will not quit and quietly accept their fate. You have to beat them. Again and again. No letting up.


366 responses to Lakers/Rockets Game 5 Chat

  1. Please Phil, I’m literally begging for Hack-a-Hayes. If we combine Powell’s and Mbenga’s fouls, that gives us 12 extra possessions pretty much. If he makes 30% I would be astounded.

    Then again, that’s assuming we can actually rebound off missed free-throws, which the guys have repeatedly shown that they are inept at doing so.

    C’mon, I want a record for lane violations in one game.

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  2. Although I’m not really worried about the outcome of this game or the series, I am curious to see if the Lakers show some heart after that last no-show. No chest pounding, just hard work and continuous effort.

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  3. I missed all of Sunday’s game, thanks to Mother not being a basketball fan, and instead I was in a movie theater watching Ghost of Girlfriends Past. I understand from reading the post game coverage that I probably had more fun at the movie than I would have had watching the game…

    From looking at the box score, it looks like Brooks was absolutely killing us at the PG position, and I am curious to see what adjustments if any Phil will make to account for that and to try and slow him down tonight.

    Pau has been the key all series, mainly because he is an outstanding passer but also because, with Battier draped all over him, Kobe is not going to be able to be as effective as he normally is, either as a scorer or as a facilitator.

    After reading and listening to what Kobe and Pau had to say about Sunday’s game I am looking forward to tonight. I smell blood.

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  4. I am at a point, after reading all these blogs, and after watching the game, where I don’t know if I should worry or not.

    I mean, are the Rockets, without Yao, that much better? Did they cause the Lakers to play the way they did? If so, then I’m worried, because, you would think today would result in more of the same.

    Or, did the Rockets play well, but get even better because Lakers were really not giving any effort. If so, today could be a totally different game where they do show up.

    I mean, looking at the game, the very first turn over, happened because of careless play. The Rockets didn’t force that. The Lakers simply did it. Then the reaction by Ariza, as lazy as can be. That was basically the whole tone of the game.

    So, I don’t know. What do you think?

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  5. As the result of an unfortunate confluence of programming issues (which I don’t want to get into) and some mistimed promises to the mother of my children, I may not be able to watch the entire game on my television tonight.

    Can anyone tell me if/how the game can be viewed in real time on the computers?

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  6. Speaking for myself, I will say that Game 4 left me feeling with the same unconfortable feeling I felt after the Lakers lost Game 4 in the Finals last year. It’s hard to describe, but its that same feeling in the pit of your stomach that I get when I feel regret over making someone else feel sad. I guess extreme dissapointment would be the best qualifier.

    Having said that, I’m not giving up on my Lakers just because of this. I have watched this team for 80 regular season games (I missed 2) and every play off game. I know that this team is capable of winning a championship but, unlike last year, I am well aware of the weaknesses of this Laker squad and I can appreciate how challenging it will be for this team to come together and win it all. Sure, it would be nice to have the label of “clear fronrunner”, but I personally savor victories more when my teams are underdogs.

    That’s why I savor things like the Laker’s 85 and 87 championships more than the three-peat years and why I will always remember the Dodger’s ’88 World Series so fondly. Oh and speaking of the ’85 Lakers, remember that Magic, Worthy and kareem were all embarrassed in the “Memorial Day Massacre” that was Game 1 – only to bounce back and win the championship. Also remember that prior to ’85, “clutch” and “Magic” were rarely used together when describing Magic’s game in the NBA. Funny how now even Magic and Worthy forget about the hard times.

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  7. As was mentioned in the last thread, I would agree the winner of this game takes the series.

    Do we know if LO can go?

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  8. I’m not pushing the panic button just yet either, let’s wait til the 4th quarter for that…but I definitely expect and anticipate a completely focused group tonight and Kobe, Pau and Fish will lead by example.

    We’ve reached the half way point in these playoffs and now is the time to this Laker squad to really kick it into overgear starting with tonight! Protect your home floor, and worry about game 6 or 7 later – that’s why we got the Top seed out West

    I surely hope Odom can at least sustain 20-25 mins tonight, because I’m not 100% sure Bynum has found his comfort zone and his confidence is shot! Tied 2-2 and the pressure is mounting…regardless boys, just put up a FIGHT until the bitter end!

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  9. Today’s ESPN Daily Dime:
    “Bryant added that the Lakers are not the first team to be inconsistent in the playoffs. ‘Go back to Chicago when they won championships,’ he said. ‘They used to do the same dumb thing, too … But when you win a championship, nobody remembers you had a 3-1 series lead or you blew a 2-0 series lead. Nobody remembers Boston had two seven-game series in the first round last season.’ And as for Cleveland and Denver’s roll through the month of May? ‘We did it last year, too,’ Bryant said, chuckling. ‘Except for one time. Boston came away with the championship.’”

    This brought me great comfort. The Lakers still have the greatest player in the NBA on the team. Lebron James is fantastic, but he hasn’t won anything (i.e., a championship) yet. And I’m more certain than ever that Kobe aims to keep it that way.

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  10. Lakers got a wake up call with sundays game. All Houston did was wake up a sleeping Giant. Lakers take series 4-2.

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  11. We weren’t given the entire context of the question or his response, but reading Pau’s remarks in today’s newspaper about how “Gasol said the Lakers were “we could have won if we really wanted to” on Sunday does not sit well.

    What kind of crap is that?

    Back in the day, Magic Johnson would refuse to speak to family members during the playoffs because he was so focused on winning games. How must he have reacted upon seeing his team’s second-best player make a remark like that?

    I’m no Pau basher by any extent, but comments like that are inexcusable. As was Sunday’s effort by the team.

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  12. Pardon the hasty cut-and-paste in No. 6. Here are Pau’s remarks, as cited by the Associated Press:

    “If we want to be a championship team we have to go after it every single game,” Gasol said. “We can’t take for granted that because we’re better individually or maybe collectively that we can play 70, 80 percent. We have to play 100 percent from the get go.”

    Gasol said the Lakers were “outhustled and outplayed and we could have won if we really wanted to.”

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  13. #2 Check out jstin.tv, I don’t live in LA so this has been my lifesaver this year.

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  14. Chris J – Wow I hadn’t heard that comment, but that’s pretty bad.

    “There’s nothing I can say to [Kobe] back that’s going to erase the fact that he scored two points on me,” Battier said. “I learned long ago that I’m not a good trash-talker, so don’t even try. It sounds silly coming out of my mouth.”

    It’s impossible not to like Battier, just seems like a really nice, down-to-earth dude.

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  15. justin.tv

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  16. So, the gameplan is:

    1) Get the ball to Pau.
    2) Play like you give a crap.
    3) …
    4) Win.

    I like it. I am happy to be a part of this plan. What a fantastic plan!

    Let’s hope the Lakers are on board with it.

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  17. Chris J, Snoopy,
    I haven’t heard that comment, only read it, but to me it seemed bitter more than anything else.

    Other comments from Pau:

    “We could’ve had a huge advantage, put ourselves in a great position to finish the series off tomorrow, but we didn’t and we own up to it. That’s why we’re going to come out tomorrow and show what we’re made of.”

    “If we want to be a championship team we have to go after it every single game. We can’t take for granted that because we’re better individually or maybe collectively that we can play 70, 80 percent. We have to play 100 percent from the get go/”

    “[We were]outhustled and outplayed and we could have won if we really wanted to.”

    Again, without hearing them spoken it’s hard to say, but he seems frustrated and angry to me, and not at all cavalier about what happened. If anything, I expect him to come out and be ready to kill tonight.

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  18. atdhe.net

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  19. http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2009/05/12/phil-weighs-his-options-and-its-not-rosy/16645/

    Sounds like Phil’s leaning away from Bynum, unless he makes a miraculous turn (or playing mind games). Powell’s been really bad lately, offensively and defensively. Can Luke play the 4? I feel like he may be able to guard Scola. But it sounds like he’s still having injury issues too.

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-heisler-lakers12-2009may12,0,1953514.column?page=2

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  20. Mimsy – I only saw Chris’s first comment at the time I posted (the second one must have been held for moderation). You’re right, when all of Pau’s interview is looked at, nothing seems odd. It’s just that one line by itself (we could have won if we wanted to) that surprised me at first.

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  21. thanks, good people. you’ve done wonders for my ongoing happy marriage…

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  22. Snoopy/#14:

    I don’t know… everytime he face guards Kobe and manages to do it without fouling I want to punch him in the nose. 🙂

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  23. I’d love to have shane battier on my team. I still remember the clutch plays he made on that Duke championship team…and I don’t even really like Duke!

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  24. Anyone who has followed this team this year knew that Sunday was coming. Conversely, anyone who followed them knows it’s nothing to worry about because every once and a while this team plays down or relaxes or whatever BUT they have won every single big game all year long. Lakers in 6. Like everyone said in the first place.

    An other point, I’ve liked basketball a long time and I have never seen some much, for lack of a better term, ball washing, that the rockets are getting. It’s so annoying and I hope the Lakers pound them by 50 tonight to remind everyone who was in control of the series before a temporary case of Ewing Theory kicked in.

    “oooh, they’re so care free”

    “ohhh, they have so much fun”

    “oh me oh my the work sooo hard”

    Seriously? they won ONE game on their home floor when they were galvanized by missing a big piece of their team and the Lakers weren’t ready for the energy they had. I’ve never seen a team get 1/8th of this. Very annoying. Go Lakers.

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  25. Mbenga + Morrison = Championship

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  26. Given Lamar’s day to day status or game time decision, I’d love to see Kobe play the 3 more if Ariza is struggling to keep up with Artest…
    I hate to look ahead (and clearly we’re in no position to do that) but it would also be a good precursor to gauge matchups to come against Denver & Cleveland. I have my doubts with Ariza being able to stick with Carmelo & Lebron

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  27. Check out Hollinger’s PER Diem link at ESPN as he ranks the playoff teams left

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=PERDiem-090512

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  28. 9, After reading that, I came away with the opposite feeling that you did. Instead of taking accountability for what happened on Sunday (even if it wasn’t his fault), he downplays his team’s performance saying that the Bulls “did the same dumb thing too.” Is this “everyone does it so its okay” mentality one that the supposed best player in the NBA should have?

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  29. I hope that Lamar feels good enough to play AND contribute. I don’t want him on the floor and have a 0-0-0 night or to make the injury worse.

    As far as Bynum, I think the kid needs to strenghten them legs in the offseason. Part of the reason he has been so innefective is that he can’t push/bully his way into the basket. While upper body strengh helps out, strong legs are the key – and Bynum has some chicken legs. Not a knock on Drew here as I completely understand that he was off his feet for like 3 months. Just making an observation and trying to set expectations at the right level.

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  30. I know this a laker forum, but anyone who enjoys basketball should find this a good read.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/justice/6419553.html

    Heres hoping for a good game tonite, Go Rockets!

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  31. The Rockets executed exceptionally well last game. In games 2 and 3 the Lakers did a good job of fronting Yao and preventing passes into the post. This caused the Rockets offense to slow down forcing Artest, and Brooks to try and create shots as the shot clock was running down. In the last game they initiated the offense a lot quicker through dribble penetration (particularly Brooks) and they had fantastic spacing which led (along with the Lakers lack of defense) to wide open shots. I think the Lakers need to try and force them into shots later in the shot clock.

    I hope Lamar is feeling OK. Doesn’t surprise me that he is playing. The guy has shown that he will play through energy. His focus may not always be there but his heart usually is.

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  32. In addition to the other mentions of let downs by eventual champions, the Celtics were blown out by Cleveland 108-84 in game 3, and 94-75 by Detroit in game 4 of that series.

    So, a lapse, even a bad one, isn’t an indication that a team can’t win it all.

    What worries me more is the lack of execution. For them to give up 83 points in three quarters is bad, but shouldn’t be the end of the world. An average game for them would put them down by less than ten at that point. The real problem is only having 40 points with 6 minutes to go in the third.

    Everybody wants their team to resemble the ideal of passion and heart, which the Celtics did so well last year. This team will never be that, though, and we should learn to accept it. This team is more akin to the Duncan Spurs or Jordan Bulls or Magic Lakers in that their game is predicated on skill and execution, not passion.

    Not that they are devoid of passion, or don’t need it, but they can win by playing a lot smarter, and a bit harder. It seems to me that this team doesn’t necessarily do well when they get too fired up. Most of them just aren’t that type of player; Odom, Pau, Fish, Ariza, Walton. Their strengths are skill and execution. If they execute really well, the team does really well. If Kobe, Bynum, and Sasha get too passionate, they tend to tear apart the ability of the team to execute the game plan.

    Their advantage against every team in the league is their overall skill level, and that’s what they should use to win. This team will never play with more passion and effort than Houston or Cleveland or Boston. But, they don’t necessarily need to in order to win.

    I hate to say it, but it seems that they would win if they were just to listen to Phil, and get in trouble when they don’t. Fortunately, after getting blown out like they did in game 4, they are much more likely to listen to the coaching staff and execute the game plan, which may be why the tend to do so well immediately after losing.

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  33. Jim – I don’t agree with you. The partial quote in #9 is misleading as it is a blurb from a complete video interview (I think the LA Times posted the entire video) – so I think you are jumping to conclusions.

    The video that I saw is of a Kobe Bryant who is very pissed at the way the team played at the last game . It’s pretty clear that he understands the severity of the situation. Whe he says other championship teams have done “the same dumb thing” he’s in no way “downplaying” the teams performance, he’s acknowledging that the team played dumb basketball and that the Lakers need to play smart and be on their toes to win this series.

    I’m not quite sure what you hoped that Kobe would say here. Also, since Kobe and Gasol had a decent game, would it not be more appropriate for Fisher/Farmar/ Sasha/Powell to own up to the crappy way they played instead of Kobe? Perhaps you are looking for him to say that “my teammates played like crap”, but don’t you think a statement like that would be counter productive to the team’s confidence? Isn’t a better strategy to tell your teammates – and the world – that you are confident that things can be turned around because other Championship teams have been through the same thing?

    Dude. We lost game 4 of a 7 game series that is tied 2-2. There’s still at least 2 more games left to play. Like my mom would say, you worry so much that you will end up giving yourself an ulcer 🙂

    On a side note, I get the not-so-subtle feeling that you are a Rocket’s fan hiding in sheeps clothing (or perhaps our old friend Celtics Nation) – although you have said before that you were a “huge Laker fan.” There’s no need to hide your preferences for a team in this blog. We can respectfully disagree.

    I’m not saying that to be a fan you MUST love this team, but it’s hard to find a Laker fan that has nothing positive to say about their favorite team. I mean, this isn’t the Clipper or the Knicks – it’s the Lakers: the most famous and popular franchise in the history of the NBA, winner of more titles in the modern era of the NBA (i.e. since 1980) than any other franchise; home of Showtime, The Logo, Kareem, Magic, Wilt and Kobe. So, if you truly are a Laker fan, relax, enjoy the game tonight. Win or lose it has been one hell of a season thus far.

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  34. Jim Smith – I don’t think Kobe was saying that it was OK. I think he was saying that it happens. He knows it wasn’t ok, and I don’t think that let down is a good argument against him being the best in the NBA. Many of the greatest players in NBA history have had let downs in a game, and in a series. I just heard Michael Cooper talking about the punch in the mouth his Laker team got in their 148-114 game 1 loss of the finals before they went on to win it all back in 84. Do you think that means Magic wasn’t one of the best? Or Kareem? Or Mr. Post-season Big Game James Worthy?

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  35. Snoopy, I hadn’t seen Chris’ second comment either. I copy pasted the stuff I did from Yahoo! Sports game preview for tonight, during my break.

    I have always suspected Pau of having quite the mean streak, and I’m eager to see it come out and go for kidneys and hamstrings tonight. 🙂

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  36. The Lakers failure to show up for the last game was embarrassing. This lack of mental will to compete at a high level and win when they should is nothing new as we’ve witnessed during the season. It’s just extremely disconcerting that they’re still at it in the playoffs.

    I’m trying to figure out why it is that “they are who they are”, the-flip-the-switch-play-down-to-their-opponent type of team and I think it’s a leadership issue. I think it starts with Kobe. I love the guy and his game and I think his competitiveness and commitment to the game is admirable and sets a good example for the rest. I also think that his attitude and his history with the Lakers influence this team’s mental approach to the game greatly.

    The team is young, very impressionable, and can be very emotional with their game. They obviously look to Kobe for leadership. If Kobe doesn’t bother to step up defensively it’s not hard to see that the team will follow (this is besides the fact that team defense falls apart if Kobe fails to play his role in the defensive scheme). This Lakers team is less talented than the all-star Olympic team that Kobe was on. Even with superstars on his Olympic team Kobe had set an example as a non-vocal leader with his defensive intensity to inspire his teammates. If Kobe brings it hard on D, the rest of the Lakers are more likely to bring it. If not and their offense fails, then things fall apart.

    Kobe is someone who leads by example. Kobe’s tendency to compete only against the best and overlook “less talented” and “unworthy” players by not bothering to guard them sets a bad example. The team tendency to play down to their opponent is indicative of this mentality.

    Kobe is a flip the switch type player and the team exemplifies that in their own play. If things fall apart defensively and the Lakers fall behind, the team hopes to flip the switch and turn it on in the 3rd or 4th quarter and squeeze out a win. When the switch fails, it’s Kobe to the rescue.

    Compounding the problem is Kobe’s history with the team. Before last year (and to some extent part of last year) Kobe’s cast was not so good. He didn’t trust his teammates to make the shots. He often had to go supernova to pull out a win and his team to an extent expects that. Though they are better now and there’s more trust by Kobe, they still have a tendency to wait on Kobe at the end of games to bail them out. Except for Pau (and Lamar in some instances) who consistently still makes plays at the end of games (he doesn’t share the same history with Kobe the other players do), the rest of the team just waits on Kobe. The team’s flip-the-switch, play down to opponent mentality compounded by the failsafe that is Kobe-nova makes this team who they are, an inconsistent talented team that loses focus and disappears from time to time. Supernovas are cool to watch, but it is a very destructive force that can blow up in your face. In the end, it’s not all on Kobe, it’s a whole team problem.

    That lost was not the end of the world, but it is disturbing that this mental approach may cause a few more unnecessary losses and potential heartaches, holes in walls and lost of hair and sleep for us fans.

    I hope they come out to play tonight. Lakers in 6! Sorry for the long post.

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  37. #36, MannyP13,
    Exactly. Kobe is doing what we have been wanting him to do for so long: Showing some mature leadership. He’s saying that other champions have done this and still won the series, so there’s no reason we can’t do that either. Is he happy with the way his team played Sunday? Absolutely not. Is he going to tell the world that via a press conference? No, because he now knows better, and knows that doing that will not help. To say, “We played horribly and lost, so let’s play our best and win tonight” is by far the better approach.

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  38. Brendel Jackson May 12, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I am a Kobe die hard fan. I think the world of him. He and the whole Laker team let me down Sunday. I was a little stronger after this lost. The first lost took a real toll on me. I think Phil and teammates need to help build Bynum’s confidence. He looks beaten and depressed. He just need to get back to business. We all know what he can do!

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  39. (Sorry Jane, I didn’t see your comment… I think I just echoed what you said. 😀 )

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  40. Wow Melo’s fiancee is crazy. I don’t know what the Mavs fan said to her, but that kind of behavior is rarely excusable. Twice she tried to throw something at the fan. Here’s the video:

    http://www.totalprosports.com/blog/index.php/2009/05/carmelo-anthonys-fiance-gets-ejected-from-game/

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  41. 36, I only read the quoted portion of Kobe’s interview in post 9 so my comments were directed what he/she posted verbatim. The quote even has him chuckling so I figured he wasn’t in a serious mood. If Kobe was in fact disgusted with team’s performance then that’s what I would have wanted to hear.

    I have never stated that I am a huge Lakers fan. Not sure where you read that. I have only stated that I am not a Rockets fan and no I am not a Celtics fan. As for only stating positives, anyone else here can do that. I am just trying to provide what I believe are objective criticisms. Not every fan needs to fit in the Lakers-are-the-best-team-ever-Kobe-is-the-best-player-ever mold. I do think the Lakers are currently a good team. Are they championship caliber? Using their uninspired performances thus far in the playoffs as my basis, I don’t think so.

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  42. #41, I agree with you. I agreed throughout the call of that game that they really need to look at who starts at PG. I thought Jordan’s hussle was outstanding and ShanWoW was hitting jumpshots (who knew?).

    While I agree with everyone here not being “worried” about tonights game, I worry about this up and down level of intensity. Its been happening all year and its been brought into the playoffs. While Kobe says “championship teams of the past have done this”, but not like the Lakers have and are doing it. Do it against Boston again or the Cavs and its goodnight.

    So, lets mix it up. DFish is getting burnt at the point, lets be honest. Start Jordan, bring Fish off the bench. So start Jordan, Kobe, Trevor, Lamar and Pau. Bring Fish, Sasha, Luke, Josh and Andrew in as the second unit. Fish might even try to be more agressive offensively with that group too.

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  43. Whoa there Jim, I was going to ask you what team you are a fan of, but with that “not every fan needs to fit in” line, it’s about to get heated in here.

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  44. 46. The Rockets ran the pick and roll differently and their entire offense differently with Yao in there in game three. And, in game four, did you really think Farmar and Shannon played that well against Brooks?

    47. I think the thing is we don’t see your criticisms as objective or valid, not because we are Lakers fans but because you take a Kobe quote out of context or don’t grasp individual talent vs. team matchups. Basically, there are valid criticisms to be made, you’re just not making them.

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  45. I’d like to see Kobe resisting the jump shot early on and dragging the defense in the first half with some well placed drive or drive and kicks.

    Although the Rockets probably won’t make shots in LA like they did in Houston, the Lakers need to make sure of it with more inspired close outs.

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  46. It’s impertative the Lakers win the first quarter. The rockets are undefeated in these playoffs whenever they win the first quarter.

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  47. 50, About taking Kobe’s comment out of context, as I explained I only read the portion which was provided in the quote. I think any reasonable person would have come to the same conclusion that I did after reading that what the poster chose to include.

    As for not grasping individual vs team matchups, I understand your points. You were the one who did not want to hear any dissenting opinions to the point of moderating my comments.

    I realize this is your blog and you make the rules and if you don’t want to hear my opinions you can always ban me. Please note however that I have never said stuff like the Lakers suck blah blah blah. I have only stated my personal beliefs whether they are right or wrong.

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  48. Mr Smith, when you’ve been around this blog a while you’ll notice that we have no problem with dissenting opinions. However, if you mind having your opinions nit-picked to pieces by those who disagree with you, this blog may not be the best place to post them. 🙂

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  49. 54, I have no problem with people nitpicking as long as I am able to respond back. What fun would this place be if everyone agreed with each other?

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  50. 53, Last time I checked, reasonable people didn’t jump to conclusions from one-line of text.

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  51. 56, Yes, you are right. It was foolish of me to read a full paragraph of Kobe’s light-hearted comments and Kobe chuckling to assume that Kobe did not care about his team’s performance.

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  52. That video of Hayes is hilarious. I don’t think PJ will go to the hack a Hayes though, he’s always been about playing basketball the ‘right way.’ Of course, Popovich did go to the hack a shaq after resisting it for awhile, but only when they went on runs.

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  53. I once had an awkward moment, just to know what it felt like.

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  54. Jim Smith – I put in the whole quote as it appeared in the column. I don’t think the conclusion you came to as a result was one any “reasonable” person would share. Kobe is entitled to “chuckle” at the mention of Cleveland and Denver coasting through, knowing that the Lakers did so last post season and it didn’t result in a championship. He wasn’t taking the issue/challenge lightly; he was merely recalling the facts of his own experience and how the journey doesn’t necessarily define the end. THAT’S a reasonable person’s conclusion.

    P.S. Kurt, Darius, Zephid, Clutch824, Mimzy, kwame, snoopy2006, magic, and more I have forgotten off the top of my head: Thanks so much for all comments and insight as lovers of the game. You guys are great, you make this roller coaster tolerable and even enjoyable, and constantly make me wish that the men in my life cared about basketball, and specifically the Lakers.

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  55. is there anyone out there who does NOT think the winner tonight wins the series? I don’t see either team having the psychological toughness to survive losing this game– it would mean the Lakers having to come to terms with dropping 2 straight without Yao…. or Houston having to rally to win two huge games including a game at 7 staples.

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  56. 61. Yes and no. If we lose, I won’t think the winner will win the series, but if we win, I think we’ll win it 😉

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  57. Anything seems possible in this series, but I would say that tonights loser probably doesn’t see the next round. I expect there to be an emotional drop-off from the Rockets tonight, but at least they will show up. I hope that I’m wrong but I think the Lakers could win big tonight.. I do think that the Rockets could push it to seven even if they lose tonight but don’t see them winning game 7 in LA.

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  58. The Dude Abides May 12, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    The more Farmar is matched up with Brooks, the better. I can’t believe he only played four minutes in the first half of Game 4, after the job he did on Brooks in Game 3. Phil is stubborn about matchups sometimes.

    I remember before last year’s Finals, I posted over at the LA Times blog that Kobe should “guard” Rondo, and Phil didn’t do it until Game 3. I’m sure we could have stolen Game 1 if Phil had done it. I mean, the entire Eastern Conference roamed off Rondo in the playoffs, so why did we wait two games?

    If Fish gets the bulk of the minutes on Brooks again, and Brooks proceeds to carve up our D again, then we get what we deserve. It’s not just the 34 pts and several assists, it’s the “hockey assists” Brooks gets by penetrating and kicking, and the offensive rebound baskets the Rockets get when he blows by Fish yet again and one of our bigs forces him to miss at the rim.

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  59. I see us winning tonight, but no way will this be a blow-out or a 15-20 point margin…Houston is playing on cloud 9 right now

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  60. I just hope tonight’s game is a game where I don’t feel ashamed about our players’ effort.

    Thank god there are no Rockets fans where I live; it would be unbearable to have someone gloat about how their team always gives their best, is resilient, etc., since I can’t make an counterargument either by denying what he says or by claiming that my team does the same.

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  61. #65, I said the same thing earlier, but Phil is VERY stubborn, always has been. Even when everybody else on the planet thinks he’s mad. DFish can play against a Deron Williams or larger guard, but he’s too old and slow to play against Brooks.

    #67, I think it comes down to this. The Lakers will win if they want to win. They can go all the way if they want to go all the way, even against LeBron. It’s all between the ears….

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  62. 62, lil pau, this series has had so many twists and turns that nothing would surprise me at this point. That being said, I do think that if the Lakers lose tonight, they have a better chance of beating Houston twice than if Houston loses and they have to beat LA twice, 95% due to home court, 5% due to talent alone.

    67, wow harold, you have it so easy. Two of my closest friends that I also work with, one is a Blazer fan from Portland (so he basically thinks the NBA doesn’t exist when Portland isn’t playing), and the other is a Rockets fan from Houston. When Portland beat LA by thirty and Ariza took out Fernandez, all I heard about the next day was how Ariza tried to murder Fernandez. The other guy wrote “Beat LA” on my facebook page 5 times.

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  63. zephid you think that is bad trying living in san antonio with all the spurs fans who are all laker haters im surrounded here with trash talk all the time its great when we win but it sure does suck when we lose i represent real strong so i get a lot back

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  64. 71. I would say Landry and Scola move more fluidly to their pop position than Yao ever did, and that caused us issues (as the guards were slow to recover and Laker bigs were late getting back and the whole thing broke down. Maybe I should have said they ran the P&R more smoothly, that might have been more accurate.

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  65. I find joy in the Celtics losing. Doesn’t matter where, when or to whom.

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  66. Okay, I need an unbiased opinion here. Does Kendrick Perkins get away with more physical play than any other player in the league or is he just that good defensively?

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  67. Kendrick Perkins eats children for pleasure. That’s as objective as I can be.

    On a more serious note, I’d take a long serious look at Stephon Marbury if I were any team needing a PG this off-season. I don’t know if his attitude change is solely because he’s trying to get a new contract, but the way he’s been playing team defense, playing unselfishly, and now beginning to take some shots himself, he is arguably the best back-up PG in the league. Not saying I’m pro-Marbury, but he has definitely cleaned up his act.

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  68. The Magic are having a Lakers moment.

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  69. “C’mon, I want a record for lane violations in one game.”

    Do you go to baseball games and root for catcher’s Interference?

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  70. Great line from Bill Simmons on Twitter: We’re running the 2006 Knicks offense with Marbury as Marbury and Big Baby as Eddy Curry. And it’s working. I will now do another shot.

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  71. @ 74.
    u prolly shouldnt be asking for nonbiased opinion of a celtics player on a lakers website

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  72. Just heard on 570 KCAL that there’s still no news on Lamar, but if he plays, he starts….

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  73. I get that Dwight Howard is limited offensive, but the Magic, again, can’t get easy offensive looks in crunch time.

    Why didn’t the refs look at the replay to determine whether the ball hit the rim or not? Why have instant replay if you’re not going to use it?

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  74. is it just me or do some of these calls seem very questionable?

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  75. Odom is in….and will start!

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  76. Now, that non-reviewed play has somewhat impacted the outcome of the game. “Somewhat.”

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  77. 77, dude Mason did you see this video?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55zIDCYSOMs

    Carlos Boozer’s reaction is priceless. C’mon don’t tell me you don’t wanna hear Lamar do something similar at least once.

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  78. I don’t think they are allowed to review every questionable play. Only certain plays are reviewable.

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  79. Zephid – Agree with you about Marbury. I never thought he was malcontent prior to arriving in New York. I always thought he was a selfish basketball but without the attitude if that makes sense. Yes, teams have gotten significant better with every franchise he has left, but Marbury was a pretty good player prior to coming to New York. If I were the Lakers, I would take a look but I wouldn’t sign him. I like the Shannon Brown and Derek Fisher combo. Maybe the Lakers draft a young player in the draft and develop him. There is always Sun Yue!

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  80. emh101 – Its not a reviewable play, and that’s ridiculous.

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  81. Hang on, Bynum is starting….Odom is on the bench. Typical Jackson…no idea what he will do minute to minute.

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  82. Well, the Magic can thank themselves for the outcome of this game.

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  83. Did EJ just say that Bynum is going to start? I kind of like that. I just wonder if Scola is going to guard Pau or Drew.

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  84. I can’t believe the refs somehow magically decided that was NOT an airball, despite the fact that a) that was the call on the floor, b) there was no indisputable evidence that was not an airball and c) they couldn’t even review it. complete and utter BS.

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  85. I’ve seen it Zephid, and it is hiLARious. It’s the most hideous foul shot I’ve ever seen. He *needs* those lane violations to make up for the randomness that his hitches introduce.

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  86. 91. Darius, that’s right. Bynum to start, Odom is on the bench looking like the “Michelin Man” according to Thompson (on KCAL).

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  87. WOW..the magic just gave the term blowing leads a WHOLE new meaning

    that sucks
    i feel bad for them
    but props to the celtics as much as i dont like them

    LETS GO LAKERS!

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  88. #6, Jane,
    My husband is even more of a Laker fan than I am. I know he reads this blog, but I haven’t seen him comment yet… it’s thanks to him that I became a Laker fan 🙂 You’ll find someone who cares, don’t worry. (If you’re already attached, I am of course talking about future sons. If you’re not, keep looking, you’ll find him some day 😉 ) I also fully agree with you on the reasonable conclusions to Kobe’s comments. Frankly, anyone who knows anything about how competitive and focussed he is cannot come to any other conclusion. For Pete’s sake, Kobe dies a little inside every time he loses at anything!

    #89, ozlaker,
    It is very typical Phil… and it does have the extra bonus that he is unpredictable to everyone, including the opposition. Phil is the mind game master.

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  89. Now I know why Dwight Howard gets 20 rebounds a game, because no one else on Orlando rebounds. Literally, watch every single offensive possession. The shot goes up, and everyone except for Howard immediately runs to the backcourt. If Howard puts it in, good for him. Then on defense, the Magic gave up 2 huge defensive rebounds because no one other than Dwight can actually get them.

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  90. I believe that Kobe throws out one of his all time great games tonight. The stage is set.

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  91. If Bynum starts I think this is it for him — he either breaks out and becomes a productive, key member of the team, or he totally unravels and they turn to Mbenga or Powell from here on out. I pray the former.

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  92. Too bad this game is not on ABC. I love to hear Mark Jackson’s insights.

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  93. #98 Reed, I reckon they try and get Bynum to work early. With this line up, the Lakers HAVE to control the tempo, which will be somewhat slower than the Rockets would like to run tonight….

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  94. hey folks,
    stuck up here in toronto and was watching justin tv, the only way to see it, when it froze up just around 10:30PM (eastern)
    anybody got any working links?
    darn!

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  95. Let’s see if that interior passing between Gasol and Bynum stays.

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  96. Smart Pau. Great to get Bynum involved early.

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  97. I like this already. Volleyball offensive rebounds and a high-low for a Bynum dunk.

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  98. why is kobe STILL playing battier that loosely on D?

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  99. With regards to Bynum, he has WAY more talent than Powell of Mbenga, and he is not even close to 100% after an injury. Give. Him. Time. He will become a monster. Just give him time.

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  100. So risky to go even bigger against their small lineup. Either brilliant or playing right into their hands.

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  101. Lakers are looking pretty sloppy early…

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  102. No Odom, most likely.

    Fisher starts.

    Kobe throws up a long 2 with 12 seconds left.

    On the plus side, Bynum is going well on the offense.

    I got a bad feeling…

    The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

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  103. If Gasol turns and faces Hayes, he can make him foul. We have to tighten up the boards.

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  104. Love, love Bynum’s aggressiveness.

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  105. Andre Iggy is sitting behind the Laker bench.

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  106. Way to go Andrew. Attack that basket!

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  107. I love Fish, but he’s in a funk.

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  108. #116 Darius, why does Phil stay with him then? I love Fish too….but its painful to watch (or in my case, listen to).

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  109. Oz,
    I think it’s to maximize Fish’s strengths with do match well with the starters. He’s struggling though. BTW, I posted a link, does it work for you?

    http://atdhe.net/7002/watch-houston-vs-la-lakers

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  110. fish has no buisness in this game. none

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  111. I never liked the saying that insanity is trying the same thing and expecting different results. Statistics tells us that one should expect different results over time, especially given outliers.

    That being said, the Lakers are absolutely not defending Hayes, and I like it.

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  112. That was great team defense — damn artest

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  113. I have to agree on Fisher, mainly because I love the guy and I’d like to see him end on a more positive note than as the point guard that was torched by Aaron Brooks…

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  114. Two fouls on Hayes. What to do? We can wear them down…

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  115. @E-ROC
    …i thought that was him. whats he doing in la?

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  116. Artest should get traded to the Clippers. He plays well at Staples.

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  117. One can only hope that it’s Brian Cook’s time to shine.

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  118. #118, Darius, I can’t watch because I’m at work…can’t stream stuff in (arghh). So listen to KCAL!

    Is Fisher strength with the starters also costing us with Brooks running circles around him?

    What do the Rockets do now?? Play Scola at Centre? KCAL just said that the Rockets have activated some bloke that is 6-9 “500 pounds”…..

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  119. Lifelong Laker fan here, but it definitely doesn’t help refute any conspiracy theory when Chuck Hayes is whistled for a BS 2nd foul early in the 2nd, with Bennett Salvatore as the ref. I really want the Lakers to win, but I don’t wanna win that way.

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  120. Hey, if we keep going in to Pau and Andrew, life will be good.

    At some point, it is simply not THAT complicated. Do what works. Stop doing what doesn’t work.

    Inside game works.

    Fisher vs Brooks does not work.

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  121. We do have to be aware of Cook. I know we can attack him on offense, but on defense we need to mark him and run him off the three point line.

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  122. Cook has to play at some point.

    And that “Where will amazing happen this year?” commercial with Kobe crossing over Pippen and throwing the alley-oop to Shaq…good memories.

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  123. Fish needs to be pulled. He is hurting the team too much right now. A spotty defensive sequence and then a forced shot. I cringe when he drives.
    Great activity by Gasol. 3 blocks already?
    That was definitely not a foul on Hayes. Now he has to sit. I wanted to see Pau school him and put to rest this crap about anyone who can stop Pau.

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  124. Anon – AI and Kobe have the same agent and I think they are best friends too. Remember when the 76ers beat the Lakers in LA? In the post game, AI said he used a move that Kobe uses and I think he said Kobe taught him that move. Ariza should’ve fouled! lol

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  125. I like Bynum attacking. I almost threw a tantrum on the comments section recently about how everybody in the NBA and surrounding it have such a short term memory, and how this relates to ‘Drew who dropped over 40 and 20 at one point this season.

    Now I want to see the Lakers cutting down on their turnovers and the Rockets offensive rebounds.

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  126. i really dont like when fish tries to score in the paint…

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  127. Odom in the game. Interesting.

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  128. Whoa did i just see a Laker turn to box out?

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  129. It was a foul. You can’t put two hands on a guy in the post. It’s in the rulebook.

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  130. I think when Fish is on Brooks we have to be more aware in our team D, which has not proven to be our strength. Fish could definitely be better in his individual matchup but I do think we need to play better as a team regardless. What hurts us most is when Fish isn’t making his jumper because then if Brooks is scoring the matchup is really one sided.

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  131. Love the steal and dunk by Trevor… I like what I see on offense. Offense works. Defense… um, needs work.

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  132. oh god fish, it doesnt matter if your guarded by a midget dont post him up

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  133. Kobe really has that quick first step tonight.

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  134. @E-ROC
    lol unfortunately i do remember that game…it all makes sense now

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  135. No Yao, no shotblocking.

    Even Kobe’s pullup just now was closer to the hoop than what it used to be – that’s a good sign.

    Now, if we could only stop turning the ball over…

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  136. 5 houston fouls to 1 laker foul, lik that ratio

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  137. 141 –

    I think Fish just wanted to shoulder check Brooks a few times. It’s like going to the body in a boxing match.

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  138. I’m on the gamecast at work (hope to be home for the second half). Is anyone from either team grabbing a defensive board?

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  139. Besides Fisher, we’re not settling on offense…that’s a good sign.

    Rotation on 3 point shooters is still suspect.

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  140. Kurt,
    We’re doing okay on the defensive glass. Some of the O-rebs that Houston has gotten were off long misses from deep jumpshots. That was especially true on one possession where they got two on one trip down.

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  141. Even in his earlier years, Artest was a thick dude!

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  142. Kobe is gonna have a great night i think

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  143. Kurt,
    According to Yahoo Sports both teams are, but emphasis is on offensive boards.

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  144. odoms 3s falling is a good sign

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  145. thats two fastbreaks off of steals that resulted in laker turnovers.

    kobe is looking good, getting closer to the hoop, but Pau NEEDS to get some touches.

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  146. Ariza should never handle a fast break.

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  147. I want Kobe to play 45+ minutes tonight. Even if we’re up by 20 entering the 4th.

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  148. Farmar always makes those!

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  149. Farmar making his case for minutes.

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  150. STOP….

    Farmar time..

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  151. I was going to type “Farmar is going to make this…” Too late though.

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  152. Farmar has been money at the end of quarters all year. I wonder if he shoots more freely, knowing that the clock is up against him anyways.

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  153. how dumb were the spurs to skip on scola, with him they’re still title contenders

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  154. Jordan Farmar on the other hand is doing good so far. He’s staying with the gameplan tonight. I like that.

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  155. That’s the quarter buzzer beating farmar that we know, hehe..

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  156. Darius, he definitely has a habit of making those….

    Good 1st qtr, Kobe isn’t going to let this game go. Guarantee he doesn’t stay on the bench long if Houston get this back to 2-4….

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  157. I like how we’ve played so far. Our bigs are really giving them problems and we’re making shots. Normally that’s the death combo for any opponent. If Houston continues to turn the ball over, this lead could grow pretty quickly. Lets hope Sasha can give us some productive minutes right now.

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  158. Odom’s back injury might be a blessing in disguise if he can keep hitting those 3’s and aviod getting offensive fouls by driving in the lane.

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  159. Man, I never NEVER doubted the Lakers (honest).

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  160. andrew igoudala is at the gamee?! how cooolll! he has good memories here haha

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  161. When is Kobe going to realize that Shane Battier is not Ronnie Brewer and he cannot play off of him like that, if a) he’s not going to get back in time, and b) no one on his team is going to clean up for him. I know the guy chases the ball on defense, that’s the way he plays, but come on…

    Other than Battier being open, though, there always seems to be a three-point shooter open because the Lakers hedge off of their man to help on ANYBODY. Kurt, why do they double EVERYBODY? I’ve never understood the way they play defense. Obviously they need to bring help on Brooks because Fish can’t stay in front of him, but other than that, what ever just happened to digging in and manning up?

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  162. Now, lets not be surprised if the rockets quickly come back. You know the Lakers will get “comfortable”

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  163. At the end of the quarter, the Lakers are shooting 70% eFG% and grabbing 66% of their missed shots. I can live with those numbers.

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  164. Gasol needs to abuse Cook while he’s out there.

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  165. Cook is BY FAR my least favorite laker of the last 5 years. I gasped with joy when I learned we traded him.

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  166. i think its fair to say von wafer hates sasha, but then again lots of ppl do

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  167. now THERE’s the cook i remember!

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  168. Gasol’s like one of those cartoon characters that’s stuck on an island and hasn’t eaten forever. He looks at Cook and sees a steak.

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  169. Cook with the gift jack up three

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  170. Reed, have you blocked out Kwame Brown and Smush Parker?

    At least Cook added points and was competent once in a while…

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  171. Of all the things Walton does well, perhaps none is more valuable than his insistence on getting Pau the ball in the post.

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  172. I am loving the offense right now. Gasol is turning and facing, looking for cutters, if there’s nothing, he’s backing down Cook and making him cry Uncle.

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  173. I will always have a soft spot for Kwame. Not sure why. I live my life as if Smush never existed.

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  174. Sasha with a dunk!

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  175. Sasha is KILLING Von Wafer. Wow.

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  176. DUNK by vujajic!!!

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  177. Sasha DUNK, all is going fine…

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  178. Best Sasha sequence of the playoffs. I smell a new Machine video on the way…

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  179. Definitely a foul on Sasha, but lovin’ it right now.

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  180. Sasha owns Wafer this series – Wafer is too mentally weak and volatile and Sasha is waaaaay into his head. Even if he got away with a foul there

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  181. Hahaha Reed. Your memory got erased. Smush? Who? Never heard of him.

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  182. The Lakers better not relax ….

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  183. AIR VUJACIC!!! Ha ha ha.

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  184. Dunk like machine. 🙂

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  185. I am loving how they are force feeding Pau every time. Take it

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  186. Machine block shot by silly hawk hair man. Machine breal and dunk ball. Slamma jamma.

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  187. They have to keep running this score up…the rockets wont go away and they cant get comfortable, destroy this team! They have no size to stop us

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  188. u know how ppl talked about how players rodman got into players head’s, i think sasha excels at the same thing

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  189. man, look at Lamar out there – he looks and moves like an old man. He needs some rest ASAP

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  190. Bah, Lamar is fine 😉 We could use a better defender at point though.

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  191. How is Lamar looking? I’m hearing him hussling on boards and things….can’t see him though. Is he ok?

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  192. ozlaker,
    Lamer looks like he’s a bit stiff and in pain, but able to ignore it to do what he needs to do. Great example of taking one for the team.

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  193. We are on fire.

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