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Making Adjustments

Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles
It took me a while to write something about game two, because the loss was so frustrating on fundamental levels for me. I try remind myself that the bottom line is that these are two evenly matched teams in games where just minor breaks can swing either game either way, and they have swung both ways, so it is fitting that the series is 1-1 after two.

Still, as a fan I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that Andrew Bynum, who played so well in the first half, played the first 4:45 of the second half then never got back on the court. In fact, when Bynum sat in the second quarter is right when Denver’s late 12-0 run starts.

Watch the first few minutes of the second half — you don’t hear Bynum’s name called but the Nuggets are shooting almost all jump shots. Then Bynum makes a bad play, turns his head and loses Nene and the Brazilian gets a layup. And Bynum is benched, never to see the court again. He finishes the game a team best +7. On the bench.

I’m frustrated by the guard play. I’m not frustrated by the missed last second shot by Fisher — when you have to take a three at the buzzer to tie it’s a crapshoot. No matter who takes it. What is frustrating was Fisher’s play in the third quarter, when the Lakers had a big lead and he kept driving into a forest of defenders looking for…. a foul I guess. A parting of the Red Sea. Whatever. Doing it once and not getting it is one thing, the two subsequent times when the same thing happened is very frustrating.

But Phil Jackson trusts Fisher because they have a history. Because he is stable. Because he has hit big shots in the past. All the reasons that we Lakers fans love Fisher. But at some point in these playoffs that trust has to bend to the new reality that Fisher is not getting the job done. He is a defensive liability. He is not hitting his shots. He is just not the same player.

Clearly Jackson has some recognition of this — Fisher has sat for long stretches in these playoffs, including the fourth quarter of some games. Thursday night Jackson tried to go with the other guard he trusts, Sasha. But he has just gone ice cold — he’s still trying hard on the defensive end. But he is just ice.

Shannon Brown and Farmar, to the eye, appear better options and better things seem to happen when they are on the court. Brown was in for a late Lakers 9-0 run but when the game went to the real crunch time Jackson turned to Fisher.

The bottom line is nobody is really stepping up — Laker guards outside of Kobe were 6 of 24 in game two. That simply will cost the Lakers games. It’s frustrating because I want someone to grab the opportunity and play so well they demand the minutes. It hasn’t yet happened.

And that extends beyond just the guards. Ariza played poorly down the stretch. Gasol looks like all the basketball last year and this summer and this regular season are starting to catch up with him a little. That is all frustrating because we talked about all season how other guys were stepping up and it didn’t have to be all Kobe. But now in the biggest games of the year, Kobe has had to take on more because the help isn’t there.

And Denver is too good to beat without help. This is a very good team. This is going to be a series that is going to come down to little things at the end of games — like Gasol missing free throws or Billups making a wild blind pass that caroms to Nene. Some luck. But luck is the residue of design and aggressive play. Denver did a better job of those things in game two, they deserve the win.

What is frustrating is that we expect more of these Lakers, we have seen them make the big plays late before, but Thursday night they did not. And the proble

Reader Interactions


  1. Agreed on all fronts. And I think Kurt summarized in a line what many of us have been feeling and saying in different ways: it is gut-wrenching to watch a team who came up so big so many times all season long fail to rise to the occasion in the biggest games of the year.

    This Lakers team had their problems with energy and focus during the season, it’s true, but the *ability* of players not named Kobe to come through never seemed to be in doubt. Suddenly, this is not the case. Suddenly, all the old fears and feelings (a la 2006-07) come back: Kobe is going to have go nova and will us to win. And that is beyond frustrating; it’s frightening.

    (Also, Kurt, looks like the post got cut off at the end there.)


  2. I don’t like bashing Sasha, but last night when he came in, not only did he go (continue to be) ice cold, he also let JR get off a couple threes, at one point, I felt Sasha was responsible (or a part of) about a 6 to 9 point swing.
    I think it’s time to give up on him for this series. he’s too costly to continue to give him time to “shoot himself out of the slump” and PJ noticed he was forcing or looking for his shots (out of the rhythm of the team) and he pulled him completely in the 2nd half.
    on the other hand, when Shannon is in, it seems to energize the team, he does hit his shots better than Sasha, (heck I could too) but it’s the little things like hustling around the boards, loose balls, he just helps better, period.
    what do you folks think about just sitting sasha for a game or 2?


  3. I missed the start of the third quarter last night and kept asking my buddy: “where’s bynum? have you seen bynum? is he hurt? what’s going on?”

    and I still don’t know.

    That doesn’t seem the smartest way to bolster the kid’s confidence, especially when he’s playing pretty well and still gets benched.

    But I guess we have to trust that Phil knows what he’s doing…

    Even when it looks befuddling.


  4. I completely agree about Andrew Bynum. He is the only player that actually scares the Nuggets from going to the hoop every second. If i saw Pau gasol at center I’d probably drive to the hoop to.

    I really think someone needs to tell Phil what he is doing. This can cost us a lot of games. Why dont any of you reporters actually ask him that?!


  5. Kurt,

    You couldn’t have summed up the game better. I think that’s pretty much exactly how most Lakers fans feel about game 2.


  6. This series is so tight that every single possession matters – that’s what the Lakers must realize (only PJ and KB know it so far) Every little play matters. That’s why the missed free throws by Pau and Trevor late in the 4th showed me the game was essentially lost – it swung the momentum in Denver’s favor, and we never recovered. Had Pau and Trevor made those free throws, the score would have been tied in regulation.


  7. Ric Bucher was on Colin Cowherd’s show this morning, and he made a salient point about this Lakers team that no one has really pointed out:

    “Who is Kobe’s Crunch Time Running Mate?”

    Carmelo has Chauncey Billups.

    Who does Kobe have?

    Pau Gasol? He would need to be able to get the ball to be effective…he only took 8 shots yesterday – 1 less than Derek Fisher.

    Lamar Odom?You can set your watch to the fact that he will make at least one bone-headed crunch time decision each game.

    Trevor Ariza? Still too young to be counted on – he’s made some terrific plays – but he also missed a key free throw and turned the ball over twice.

    Derek Fisher? Here’s what’s sad – even a year ago, you could say Fish was a passable as a crunch time running mate – even if he wasn’t a star, you could count on him to not turn the ball over, get the ball to the right spots, and knock down his open jumpers. But that’s not Fish anymore. This shooting slump (which, by the way, he’s been in since March…hint, hint, Phil), has negatively impacted his game to the point that he’s clearly lost his mind. He’s so desperate to score that he attempted, not 1, not 2, not 3, BUT FOUR layup attempts yesterday! He’s been in the league for 13 FREAKING YEARS – he should know his limitations by now. Not to mention, he can no longer be counted on to hit clutch shots or play effective defense.

    Kobe Bryant has a well-earned reputation as “the best closer in the game”, but there’s good reason for that – he’s got to do it by himself.

    Look at the other remaining playoff teams (and who their crunch time closers are):

    Denver – Carmelo, Chauncey Billups
    Orlando – Hedu Turkuglu, Rashard Lewis
    Cleveland – LeBron, Mo Williams, and even Delonte West can usually be counted on (even with the miss in Game 1).

    Who can Kobe really count on in crunch time? Pau Gasol is the closest thing, and he’s not assertive enough to truly be able to be counted on.

    A bigger problem is Fish still thinks he’s “that guy” even though he “clearly isn’t.”


  8. Just a note from rewatching the game — when Bynum sits late in the second is when Denver starts the 12-0 run. Coincidence?


  9. I understand your frustrations; every bit of them. And you are right, you and everyone else expects so much more from them – even I.

    Ariza’s play at the end was a bad one; but at the same time, he has made numerous good plays the rest of the game. Gasol, from what I saw, was down right exhausted. He was in there playing very extended minutes. I would imagine Fish was in late because he has proven himself to be capable of draining the big shots when we need them. I am sure it was in his mind set to continue to drive it in to get higher percentage shots and/or draw fouls. Funny, if they were taking too many 3s and missing them, most of us would be mad because they weren’t taking it inside.

    Finally, Bynum: Since the beginning of the year, Phil has shown a lack of trust for Bynum to close out games. As a matter of fact, it was that that got under Drew’s skin before his injury. Does Phil need to rethink that? Of course, I think he does. I believe keep Drew in with the rest of the starters until he gets into foul trouble. Smother them with as much size as we can throw at themBut, I don’t get paid the big bucks to make that decision.

    I’m upset too. No need to lie. However, this I can say, I am still proud of our team because even though some of the execution was suspect, they still played hard. A lead was lost, but I didn’t see any lack luster play like in the previous series. So like Kobe has to, and Phil has to, I think we as Lakerians need to trust in our team. Trust Phil will make the right decisions, along with everyone else in our beloved organization. And when we play at home, we as fans (and those of us with tickets) need to be a factor in the games by our involvement. One of the things an apposing team will always say is “Take the crowd out of the game”. We have the ability to energize our team. We need to do that even when things look their bleakest. DO NOT let them take us out of the game.

    Now is the time to regroup. And if you know our team like I know our team, you should know, we are crushing them the next game. This series is not over; not even a little bit.


  10. Last year one of the keys to team success was that we had 4 guys hitting at or above 38% from 3- Vlade, Fisher, Farmar and Sasha. We lost Vlade in a cost cutting trade (that’s worth it for what Brown’s brought) but the other 3 have all tanked at the exact same time. Farmar shows flashes, but otherwise this isn’t a trend conducive to success.

    Now we rely on more Ariza, Brown and even Odom for the outside shooting and they are all historically terrible at it. That they make them now is as much a testiment to the fact that they are open because the other teams WANT them shooting those. And none of them think of themselves as outside shooters so there success is not exactly prodigious. Obviously this throws off our spacing and general efficiency.

    To me, this is the most alarming development for our team. We’ve known that we can’t guard point guards for a decade. Our interior d comes and goes. I thought it was good last night, but the game was called so close that it didn’t matter. But whatever, adjustments can be made there. For every other flaw, there are adjustments.

    But how do you adjust when your designated shooters can’t shoot? It just puts that much wear on Pau, Kobe and Odom trying to take up the slack.


  11. We just have to find a way to get either game 3 or 4. In order to do that, we need better execution and defense down the stretch. Gasol and Bynum need to step it up. The only way we will win this series is if we get good enough production from our bigs, thats where our advantage is and we are not taking advantage of it.


  12. I am not one for bashing either players or coaches (except for poor effort), but I think Phil is going to be stretched this series. To win it all, we need contributions from Bynum, Farmar and Brown. Phil is going to have to trust them more than he is.

    If Fish and Shasha are getting it done – great, otherwise let the others loose.

    He has got to let Bynum play through the rough patches, unless it is an issue of fouls.

    I’d also like to see LO take TA’s spot to start. I realize there are rotation issues, but I think it can be managed. I really believe we have the talent and the depth to make other teams match up with us, rather than us having to match up with them.


  13. I think Phil is losing it like mentally. He made so many weird coaching changes that i was just lost watching the game. It is like watching an old man losing his grip on reality and using his old methods thinking it will work.


  14. J.D Hastings,

    Great point about last year we had 4 effective 3-point shooters who spread the floor and made life easier for everyone else. In fact I would argue Sasha was the most important bench player in the league last year with his ability to hit dagger 3’s.

    I’ll take Shannon Brown over Vlad but the Sasha (and Fish) of last year would have made life much, much easier for this Laker squad.


  15. Looks like everyone has hit on all the things that were frustrating to me about the game.

    Sasha should not play anymore minutes in this series. Shannon should get his minutes and I think he’s proven that he deserves the minutes over Sasha. In my opinion if it wasn’t for Sasha we would have pushed the lead to about 20 in the first half.

    As for Bynum’s lack of minutes, I too believe he should play more, but what everyone is not understanding is that Phil Jackson had to take him out because Bynum plays very poor pick and roll defense which is what Denver with Chauncey Billups went to almost exclusively in the second half. Although I don’t think Pau does a great job of pick and roll defense he is definitely more mobile than Bynum is in that scenario.

    The one thing nobody is talking about is WHERE IS LAMAR ODOM? He’s not driving to the basket, he’s not hitting his jumper and pretty much he has not had an impact on either of the 2 games. The only way we beat the Nuggets in this series is if Odom wakes up.


  16. What frustrates me the most is that this team is comprised of essentially the same core players that were so dominant earlier this year. Recall the long eastern road trip in which we beat Cleaveland and Boston. We had serious mojo in those days. Recall how effective our bench was, prompting the name “the bench mob”.

    If I had to identify what the major change between then and now is, it would have to be the regression of Bynum, the loss of a reliable shot from Sasha, and the poor decision-making from Jordan.

    I’m still hopeful that we can turn it around. Bynum is showing signs of improvement (recall how suddenly he started playing great after struggling initially after his previous injury). With Sasha it’s more of a mental thing, but in the past he’s shown he can hit shots consistently. And Jordan is playing decidedly better then he was a few months ago. Plus, we have a rising star in ShanWOW. Somehow we just have to get the components all working correctly again.


  17. I put this one on Gasol. 2 games now and he misses 2 free throws in a row in the 4th Quarter. One game we got away with it, the other we didn’t. If he makes 1 of those then we don’t need to launch a desperation 3. We could have given the ball to Gasol, Bryant or Odom and let one of them go for 2 to tie the game.


  18. Do you all think it’s possible that Phil’s taking Bynum out for so long is a way of showing the team (and Bynum too) how important he is to their success?

    As in, here’s what it’s like not to have him, so make sure you take advantage when he’s there?

    Sounds a little outlandish, I know, but I don’t put any mind games past the master of mind games.


  19. A quick note on the officiating. In and of itself, I don’t think the Lakers were cheated or that “cost us the game.” I care more from the media standpoint of whether they would make as big a deal when the Lakers got jobbed as they do when the lakers benefit at all.

    As John Hollinger says, “For instance, we assumed that if any suspicious officiating happened, it would benefit L.A., especially given the ratings bonanza a Lakers-Cavs showdown would produce. Instead, the refs blew an obvious jump ball violation that killed the Lakers’ last decent chance of tying the game. Think about that one for a second — if it had been Denver that got shafted on such a play, people would be screaming bloody murder about the league’s hidden agendas and whatnot.” (Sadly, everything else in his column is also right on)

    Simmons also acknowledges the issues, even if he takes delight at it. I’d call that fair.

    Truehoop? Not a peep, so far, but we’ll see.

    I don’t think some bad calls invalidate Denver’s win, I just want some petty reciprocity.


  20. Frankly, I’m afraid. For the fist time this season I’m afraid. Lakers were humiliated by Rockets – I said OK, they mailed it, it weren’t the real “Lakers”. But now we have lost at home while palying well. And opponents haven’t played over their head.

    Let’s see what Lakers were supposed to do:
    – Kobe has to shoot well, check, 10/20 plus 10/10 from the foul line is great;
    – we have to control the boards, check, 43-42 isn’t great, but it isn’t that we have lost because of the lack of the rebounding;
    – we have to play solid, team basketball, check, 21 assists in 35 FGM is on par with Lakers regular season numbers;
    – Anthony has to be contained, check, he’s shot only 12/29, including FTA he was below one point per possession;

    Then we were good form 3pt line (6/15), they weren’t very from there (7/21). They have missed 8 FTA.

    The FTA numbers are what we should expect – Nuggets have the highets number of FTAs during the regular season, so their advantage there shouldn’t be any surprise.

    OK, we should pound Nuggets inside, but this is a second game we couldn’t do it, so it looke more and more like a feature and not the bug.

    So optimistically it looks like a hard, seven game battle. Pessimistically – another Boston’08 or Detroit’04 a**kicking.

    So I’m afraid. Very afraid.


  21. I really wish Phil could break from his old habits and trust Bynum more in the second half. It would fix many different problems the Lakers are having right now. It would give Bynum the confidence(as long as the Lakers try to get him the ball). I noticed a play in the first half last night when Ariza had the ball on the wing and Bynum had post position and calling for the ball. Ariza looked at it and thought about it for a couple seconds and then decided to pass it back up to the top of the key. Shaq back in the day, and Gasol now would never have to ask for that ball, Bynum in single coverage in the post is one of the best offensive options the Lakers have, is part of the problem that Bynum’s teammates dont trust him enough? Is that why Phil prefers to keep him out in the second half?

    Also I understand the use of having Lamar in the game as another person who can handle the ball, as well as play farther from the key giving Kobe more room to operate but why not get Gasol some rest and run a Bynum Lamar lineup at the end of the third/beginning of the fourth? This gets Gasol the rest he needs, and Im gonna be honest I would prefer to have Gasol sit and Kobe play the whole fourth, Kobe is more experienced at saving his energy than Gasol is in big games.

    Finally, what is wrong with letting Bynum foul out? I would rather have him learn to play with fouls than to teach him that if he fouls than he isnt allowed to play. It seems to me that as the playoffs have progressed more and more of his fouls have been to take away layups or dunks and those fouls I can live with. It sends a message to the other team that if they do make it that far into the lane they better be able to make their free throws. As seen by game one, free throws are not as guaranteed as one might think.

    But I trust in Phil, he is still and forever will be one of the NBA’s greatest coaches.


  22. Play Tall.

    That’s the answer to our problems.

    Play Tall.

    (This means we should continue to feed Bynum & Gasol. Bynum should average 28 min/game; foul or no foul; mistake or no mistake)

    By the way, how come we can’t play a big lineup:

    Kobe, Fish, LO, Gasol, Bynum.

    All LO needs to do is stay in front of Carmelo. I’d rather give Carmelo the jumpshot than him driving in and getting us in the penalty (Fouls). It would be harder for Carmelo to barrel in against LO.

    In addition, I would like it if the lakers would use a lineup of Farmar, Brown, Kobe, LO, Bynum during the 2nd quarter.


  23. My main concern is our inability to rise as a team and win a game. The whole nugget squad wanted that game yesterday. Our team want it too only if Kobe is going to get it for them. I just hope our confidence is not shot. We need one game in denver, we cant come back down 3-1


  24. Player mistakes aside, I’m having a really hard time with the rotations game to game. Last night’s can only be described as schizophrenic.

    VERY positive impact in 1st half. His minutes with Pau put a lot of pressure on Denver’s bigs. 2nd half – No touches at all for 4+ min. Pulled at 7 min mark, never to be heard from again. Some have said he had no fire or intensity during that time, PJ even said it. I didn’t see that at all, that guy was there mentally and he was helping us A LOT. It makes absolutely no sense for him not to play again. These silly mind games have to end.

    2nd half – Plays last 2 min of 3rd. Surprisingly, starts 4th and plays until the 4:45 mark. First 7+ min of the 4th, Walton is in the game…and Bynum is not.

    Impacting on both ends. Yea, he made some mistakes at the end, but so did everyone, including Kobe. He was playing well in totality. I think he was in the middle of what would’ve been the best playoff game of his career. Why weren’t his min increased in the 4th?

    2nd qtr – Sits on bench until 5:22 mark. Now, we still had a 10pt lead at that point, but the momentum had switched. At the time, I thought Phil kept him out about 2 min too long. Play-by-play confirms that. Our 2nd unit ballooned the lead to 14. Denver takes a TO, within 2 min, Melo makes 4 shots, momentum changed. Only the latest example of the detrimental use of reg season rotations in the playoffs.

    4th qtr – 30 sec in, gets 4th foul. Phil sits him for 2 min. Up 1, down 5. 6 point swing. PJ says he sits him for mental break. Kobe says because he had 4 fouls. Neither reason is believable. Why is our best player not in for entire 4th in that game?

    Completely expected, plays terrible. Surprisingly, he gets a short leash. That’s new. In the post-game, Phil says he limited his min because he thought he was shooting for himself. How is this different from any other game this year?

    Given minutes in 4th like he would close the game. Should’ve been allowed to close the game, period.

    Great in 2nd qtr, solid in 4th qtr, 6 min total. Leading us to…

    No comment needed for 1st. 2nd half – Plays same as 1st, all the way to 2:47 left in the 3rd. Relieves Shannon with 4:45 left in the 4th to close game. Makes no sense. Has a terrible game going, comes in with less than 5 min left…cold. Down 3, gets last shot run for him AND you have the best player on the planet on your team.

    If everybody plays the same minus these crazy substitution patterns, I really believe we win that game. I’m finally convinced there’s no method to this rotation madness and it’s going to cost us if it doesn’t stop.


  25. If Gasol is tired, and Fisher is over the hill, then the logical guy to take the pressure off Kobe is Bynum. And it doesn’t have to be Bynum scoring a lot. It could just be that having him in the game, makes it possible for Kobe and Gasol to expend less energy to get the same productivity. This is on you, Phil. Give the kid a chance. I’d like to see the lineup getting the majority of the minutes be Sasha/Kobe/Odom/Gasol/Bynum. Yes, you got that right. Sasha at the 1 and Odom at the 3. I think this is the lineup that matches up the best against Denver.


  26. I think Phil is not where he was a couple of years back. But, because of his reputation he has gone along. You think about it. Any other coach plays one of their best performing players (Bynum) for just 18 minutes, the fans would be crying out loud for his job. With Phil, whatever he does, we keep thinking – oh, he might be teaching Bynum a lesson or he might be teaching the team a lesson. As fans, instead of thinking that for every mistake he makes he probably has an unlterior motive – start thinking that he just made a mistake. And if he keeps making enough of those mistakes the Lakers might not win this series.


  27. Kurt is as usual spot on with the analysis. Gasol looked extremely tired at the end of the game. A little rest and he could have avoided that silly foul. I heard John Ireland about 30 min ago and he mentioned that Bynum’s focus should be defense and rebounds, and believe he only had 2. Don’t necessarily agree with PJ, but how many rings do I have – especially if we exclude the onion kind and fruit loops. But I don’t think the Nugs have been tested and we have. Certainly the team is emotionally fragile (we’re 5-4 since Utah! I call that a slump!) But there’s plenty of opportunity to pull through, and that’s hopefully where coaching and team bonding (or maybe a small skirmish in practice) should help. I just wish they played a little better defense – it would give them a little more confidence. Get better soon Tex!


  28. I’m not giving up on the Lakers, but I’m such a fan that I can’t help but already think about the future. Here’s what I think they should do for next year:

    Bynum – Needs to slim down a little so he can become more mobile. Also needs to learn how to block shots when people go hard to the basket without fouling.

    Sasha, Farmer & Walton – package these guys in a trade either a sharp shooter or an athletic big.

    Gasol – He is who he is.

    Kobe – I think he needs to bulk up a little. As you can see he struggles against small forwards cause they bully him down low (Carmelo is too strong for him). In 2003 he bulked up and I thought it was his best season as a pro.

    Fisher – There’s nothing we can do with him. He has another year on his deal.

    ShamWOW – He needs to improve his ball handling and he on the ball defense. He is so athletic and fast that he should be a lock down defender.

    Odom – He is who he is (Always inconsistent)

    Ariza – Needs to improve his ball handling. When he spots up for 3 and the defense converges on him, he usually pump fakes but he struggles with putting it on the ground and getting to the basket.

    Draft – we either need to draft a quick point guard or a sharp shooter. I would recommend drafting Wayne Ellington from North Carolina. He can shoot from anywhere on the court.


  29. I’m just shaking my head at this team game in and game out.

    Remove emotion and sentiment from the equation — simply looking at this team for its strengths, weaknesses and how they play them — and I would absoultely hate this group as a basketball fan.

    One of the best inside players in the game, facing a smaller front line. Hey, let’s only give the ball enough so we can take just eight shots (half of which probably came on put backs.)

    Got a great young center who needs to play well and get floor time to have confidence? He’s off to a good start Thursday, team has a big lead? Here’s an idea — let’s bury him at the end of the bench for the better park of the second half.

    Got a 59-year-old point guard who’s as cold as a glacier? Let’s let him shoot nine times, missing eight, while his back up collects as many assists in one-third the minutes. And while we’re at it, let’s let Vujacic miss four consecutive shots in two minutes as they big lead dwindles to nothing.

    I’m fearful that Phil has lost it, and/or lost the players. And if that’s the case, this team is screwed this year and beyond.

    This series, and the one prior, reminds me of the Suns-Lakers debacle in 1990, when the Lakers were clearly better but were clearly outhustled because the Lakers had finally given up on Riley. Barring some major wake-up call from Phil — which we’ve been hoping for for weeks now — this team is in huge, huge trouble.

    The window is closing fast. Hopefully someone sticks their arm it to push it open again. Sickest thing is, they could still win the whole damn thing if they’d just wake the f- up.


  30. I agree that it was a huge mistake to sit Bynum for so long in the second half. His bulk really frees up Gasol on the boards. Even if Bynum’s personal numbers don’t reflect it, forcing Denver to put their second biggest man on Gasol is crucial to his success.


  31. Alot of frustration in Lakernation.

    As fans we all want the five players on the court who are making shots, plays, whatever. And everyone else on the bench. On almost a possession by possession basis, which is impossible, of course. Looking at in-game comments you see lots of get player A out for B, then 2minutes later get B out for A. 🙂

    Phil’s come in for criticism due to playing players both too much and too little but he’s in a tough situation. Right now too many of our role players aren’t producing consistently, and pretty much guaranteeing that we have someone on the floor who we as fans don’t want to be in the game. And it’s not just physical inconsistency, but mental as well. Anyone want to take a bet as to how many times the coaching staff has told the team to get the ball to Pau only to see the players ‘forget’?

    I will criticize Phil a bit, though. Clearly he is a coach who believes strongly in trust. We see this in his refusal to call time outs; trusting his players to play through tough stretches. He’s also trusting of veterans who’ve produced for him in the past (hence his insistence on playing Fisher more minutes than he’s deserving, all the while removing Bynum for a single bad play). Kurt expresses this well in his post. However, at some point you’ve gotta quit trusting that players who’ve produced in the past are going to do so *now* (like Fish) and go with players who’ve earned more minutes.


  32. Everyone really needs to undertstand that Bynum is not good in pick and roll situations. He doesn’t move his feet well. So when Denver goes to the pick and roll on virtually every play Bynum becomes a liability and that’s when he fouls a lot. That’s why Phil didn’t have him out there.


  33. Big game last night. I have mulled over some of these comments and I see where you guys are coming from–Phil not trusting Bynum enough while putting way too much trust in D. Fish, Odom not showing the consistency, Pau looking soft though playing hard while Sasha IS soft but appears to play hard, an illusionist of sorts, and Ariza does not have enough credibility to be given big game responsibility….All leaving Kobe to do it all himself.
    Reviewing this, and from a Nugget fans perspective, this is somewhat true. Bynum should be utilized entirely, I am not as familiar with the Lakers as many of you are but I feel the mere presence of is 7 foot frame in the paint is a handful for the Nuggets and taking him out makes things much easier for us. As far as D. Fish goes, I know this guy can make the shots, but Farmar and Shannon Brown especially have had great production versus the Nuggets and spark the LA squad and come up with timely buckets. Farmar does a great job of moving the ball and Brown can knock down shots and drive the bucket. For Odom, ehhhh, I do not know what to say with him, I mean, I am no Laker expert by any means, but just in game 2, I saw no action from him. Odom seemed to disappear as the game went on and went from a player that I usually worry about to a player I totally lost track of, in a sense where his presence was not felt whatsoever in the 4th (please correct me if I am wrong). Ariza is a nice player, he has athleticism and his game is developing, but he does not have the confidence nor does Kobe have enough confidence in him to go to him late in games (Again, please correct me if I am missing something). Pau needs to keep up the work and get to the inside more, especially late in games when you need to pound a team. Pau’s 17 boards make it hard to question his effort but he needs to become a brute in the 4th quarter. I am leaving Sasha for last because for the life of me I cannot figure out why he is even on the court. “The Machine”–the nick-name that HE gave himself, looks so far from a “machine” that he should be given the nick-name “The Illusionist”. The guy acts like he is playing hard, runs up and down the court, hollers and throws his hands up in disgust when he gets a foul called against him, and then chokes. Sasha needs to focus on moving the ball and opening up looks for his teammates rather then worry about himself first. Sorry, but I do not like the guy.
    Kobe, what can I say? He is Kobe Bryant, but even Kobe needs some help sometime, and this is one of those times.

    As far as games 3 and 4 here in Denver, all I have to say is it is going to be a battle. The Lakers can expect an atmosphere of complete and utter chaos here in Denver. As a local, I can safely say that I have never seen this town in such a frenzy around the Nuggets, the mood in the Pepsi center is going to be off the wall and rowdy. The first time this town has seen a conference finals in 25 years makes for some commotion, especially since many feel like we have a chance now, so expect craziness coming from the Mile High City.

    A closing thought, look for Melo on Kobe in game 3 in key moments. Melo is a bull and is even too strong for Kobe. Kobe went 2-6 against Melo and those 2 were contested 3’s that were the result of Kobe being Kobe, nothing Melo could do against that. But seriously, Melo loves this, and guarding Kobe is something he feels he can do effectively, and he has the length and strength to at least bother Kobe.


  34. 31. Is that really that big a problem? Denver runs pick and roll mostly with Nene. Couldn’t you put Bynum on K-Mart and Pau on Nene and potentially avoid that situation.


  35. I agree with people about the rotations, we need more bynum, more brown, a little bit more farmar and a lot less fisher and vujacic, I think Phil has lost his enthusiasm for the game and is bored. More worrying is we seemed to have just lost our mojo, I think we’ll need Kobe circa 2006 to win one of the games in denver


  36. I don’t think the lack of p&r defense is a reason to sit Bynum. The reason: the Nuggets went on a 12-0 run when Bynum left the game. That doesn’t sound like he was hurting the Lakers while he was in there.

    Also, there is a second thing that hasn’t been mentioned. Just how are we supposed to give Pau a rest in the 2nd half – so he won’t be exhausted at the end – if we don’t play Bynum more?

    Trust be damn*d; Phil there are too many reasons for playing Bynum to help other members of the team. Get off your old codger rear and let’s go.


  37. The “Game 2 chat” picture was Bynum making a move inside. The Game 2 wrapup should have had a picture of Bynum on the bench.


  38. I think as much as the Odom-Gasol lineup has worked for us in the past, this series Odom’s quickness advantage is being neutralized by the athleticism of Denver’s bigs. Hopefully PJ will adjust and play Bynum more minutes.


  39. I broke my phone throwing it against the wall on one of the fisher pull up jumpers or HORRIBLE lay-ups.

    ariza needs to handle the ball less.


  40. #34 (Voice of Nuggets Nation),

    Your politeness and analysis is appreciated coming from the opposition. Kudos.

    Just to offer a fact check, Sasha never gave himself the name “Machine”. Too many people in the media haven’t corrected themselves on this. It was given to him by someone else and it stems from the fact that he’s “automatic” (like a machine) during practice last year. As for Ariza, I wouldn’t say that Kobe doesn’t trust him late in games….he just to raw. Ariza needs to develop a quick pull-up jumper. He’s perfected the pump-fake for oncoming defenders who worry about his 3, but when he puts the ball on the floor it’s usually 1 speed and out of balance/control. I wish he would learn (will probably occur in the off-season) to take 1 dribble in and develop a pull-up jumpshot.


  41. I hope the Lakers can win in Denver, but honestly, it probably won’t happen. Denver is rolling right now. They are a completely different team then last year’s team. This Denver team would crush last year’s Denver team.
    And the Lakers, unfortunately, peaked during the regular season. They put together a string of fantastic road trips, but that was then. They are not playing as well as last year’s team at this time of the season, especially in the guard play. And that doesn’t bode well.
    I’m going to keep my fingers crossed, but it doesn’t look good.


  42. Phil’s philosophy is to ride things out, rather than to take situations out of the player’s hands. To do that he has to trust the player, therefore, before Phil will allow a player to get many minutes he must be able to trust that player to work things out in a reasonable amount of time.

    The problem is that that ‘reasonable amount of time’ is compressed during the playoffs.

    Phil is now at a decision point – according to us fans – where he has to put his imprint on the game and he has to do it with players who haven’t completely earned his trust.

    Can he do this? Can Phil change at this late point in his career? Should he?

    We may find out in game three, win or lose.


  43. Phil’s reluctance to go away from Fisher does not surprise me. Two of the major hallmarks of Phil’s coaching style are his unwillingness to be overly swayed by short-term events (he sort of reminds me of Obama in that way) and a preference to let his players work through problems on their own. For the most part I really admire this about PJ and believe it has led to much of his success as a coach. When you trust that your long-term strategic decisions are sound it can be a terrible mistake to panic and make big changes based on a bad couple of games which might only be the result of variance. In this specific case, however, it seems like Fisher’s poor play has gone to his head and he is overcompensating to show his value, leading to more bad shots and overaggressive drives into the lane.


  44. The most frustrating part of the game for me was the lack of execution in the last 3 minutes. I thought that the Lakers were the experienced team that would execute on the both ends of the court. I was wrong. It was the Nuggets who made plays down the stretch.

    On offense, we couldn’t set anything up. Fisher, Lamar, and Ariza took forever setting up the triangle. They couldn’t even get the ball to Kobe to at least start doing pick and roll with Pau. When we can’t get the ball to Kobe, we have to counter right away with running the triangle, but neither Fisher nor Ariza were able to start. Lamar also didn’t play well down the stretch. I wonder if the back is still bothering him.

    Defensively, there were a couple of breakdowns but overall, we just didn’t hustle. I think our rotation was slow compared to the 1st half, and in the SSZ, the weak side players kept leaving the 3 point shooters (mostly Kleiza) open (mostly Luke and Ariza). I realize that they have the responsibility to help out, but not by abandoning the shooter completely.

    This is going to be a 7 game series, unless the Lakers take both in Denver, which is highly unlikely. I see us winning either game 3 or 4 (hopefully 3), then 5, but lose 6, and win 7. All the game will be close except 3 or 4, where we might get blown out at least once in this series. The Nuggets will go crazy with their shooting in one of these games. We have to make sure we don’t let them run away with it by allowing transition baskets also.

    This series will be very uncomfortable to watch, but it should be exciting.


  45. In training camp we had visions of possibly the tallest front line in NBA history with Bynum, Gasol, and Odom.

    I think Phil tried this in camp and possibly in one pre-season game. Then somehow he made the decision that he would not play the three together at all for the rest of the season! I submit that this was a huge mistake.

    We are paying for this now. When Melo subbed himself in for Carter, the game changed. Ariza had to cover Kleiza and Kobe, Melo.

    Had PJ had some trust (and experience) in the Bynum, Gasol, Odom front-line, the Lakers could have countered with this line plus Kobe and Ariza. The Lakers would be the ones posing mis-matches instead of the other way.

    Phil has been on the coaching back-foot this entire playoffs. He has been the one reacting to the other coach instead of letting the Lakers impose its will by exploiting obvious advantages.


  46. Unfortunately, VoNN, you are quite right….

    From my vantage point, Melo/Billups versus Kobe/Pau is even at best (I must say I’m surprised at how good Melo has become), but the Lakers role players are simply terrible, other than Brown and, in spurts, Ariza. I’d rather have Kleiza right now, let alone JR Smith or Nene, than Luke, Sasha, Fish, or Farmar.

    And once again, Lamar is Lamar– after playing brilliantly against Houston, he’s now reverted to his infuriating ways. Contract year! Contract year!!


  47. phil jackson is losing these games for us.

    it’s as simple as that

    if we lose this series, I blame him.

    It’s not even a matter of believing that our guys can play, of course they can. They are not the problem though, the problem is the coach who ALWAYS manages to mess something up. I have never understood why he pulls our players when we have a 15 point lead with 3 min to go when it is a crucial time period. i will never understand his subs lately.

    why is he trying to match up to Denver ,let them MATCH UP TO US PHIL


  48. This series is all about closing quarters and closing games. If we have a 6+ point lead with 2-3 minutes left, odds are we will win. If we are tied or down by 1-6 points, it puts a lot of pressure on Kobe. With no other player hitting clutch shots or consistently creating good looks for others, #24 has to be our #1 option – this makes Denver’s defense that much easier. We have to have others share the load. Be confident – we will win at least one of the two in Denver.


  49. We as fans always go to extremes. We win 1 game…life is great, we lose 1 game….the seasons over.

    Kurt’s analysis is great (as usual).

    Adjustments need to be made, and they will.

    I am confident we take at least 1 game in Denver.


  50. Nothing puts the fear of God in me like watching Derek Fisher on a fastbreak.

    Before even reading the comments, I have to say, Kurt – you completely stole my thunder. I agree with everything in the post, but the main point I wanted to make (that was already made perfectly) was about Fisher.

    I just finished re-watching the game, and it doesn’t get any less frustrating. I also have no problem with Fish’s last 3, he had Nene on him and didn’t have any option. My problem came in the 3rd, when Fish completely changed the momentum of the game.

    We had a lead (7-8, I think) and with a few steals/stops we could have very easily pushed the lead to double digits. Instead, Fisher completely swung the momentum of the game. I screamed when Ariza gave him the ball in transition, knowing he would screw it up. Fisher has experience. He has no athleticism, height, explosiveness, finishing touch, or anything required to finish in the paint.

    Fish missed, Kleiza got a layup, 4 point turnaround. Over the next couple minutes, Fish twice (apparently trying to make up for his blunder) forced awkward drives. Ball doesn’t even make it to the rim. Nugs score, lead’s nearly gone, and we end the 3rd up by 1, the same as we began.

    Basketball is about momentum and runs. Fish really, really cost us big tonight. It may not show up in the box score, but he single-handedly stripped away any momentum we had and handed it to the Nuggets.

    (**The other thing about Fish: he either 1) misses a long jumper, leading to a Denver break, or 2) drives awkwardly into the paint, and always ends up falling out of bounds because he can’t stop his momentum. It always results in a Denver bucket because they either get a long rebound and run, or Fish is sitting next to the cheerleaders and they’re playing 5-on-4).

    I can’t describe how frustrating that was to see. And my frustration is with Phil. If this was when Farmar was slumping and we had no options, it’s not a big deal. But Brown played as flawlessly as you could expect. He did everything we needed, including great swarming defense, great activity defensively. I almost started weeping when Phil sent Fish back in at the 5-minute mark of the 4th. Why, Phil? There was no need for it. Brown was playing perfectly in his role.

    -end Fish rant-

    My other problem – the officiating was awful, on both sides. Both sides got bad calls, and I’m never one to say refs cost us the game.

    Let me just say that I find it absolutely amazing that three NBA refs all focused on the jump ball (there’s no excuse, they had nowhere else to look) missed JR Smith running like a madman across the jump ball circle. How do you miss that call? How? How do you miss a 6’6″ 220-pound man running through? Don’t you have to physically turn and look the opposite direction to miss that?


  51. All the players except for Kobe have shown pretty significant consistent inconsistencies in their games the past couple of months. It’s difficult to plan a rotation around that. Jackson is trying work around those weaknesses, and anticipate how much time he can get out of players before they screw up. Yes, there are times that (in hindsight) you can say that so-and-so should have been left in, or so-and-so should not have gone in. There are decisions that he makes that I don’t agree with, but at the time there were reasonable arguments in favor of the move. I can’t find much fault with the coaching.


  52. Kurt, by the way – your post cuts off in the middle of the phrase “And the problem.” I don’t know if its a site error or not, but I figured you probably wouldn’t end a great post on “proble.”


  53. The post by PJ
    Seemed like a haiku to me:
    “Play Andrew Bynum”

    “Play Andrew Bynum”
    by Bill Bridges

    Against these Nuggets
    The key is controlling the lane
    Play Andrew Bynum


  54. The point about Kobe needing help is more applicable than ever, because Melo’s ball denial is excellent. Excellent. We were all wow’d by Kobe’s long threes, but there was a reason he was forcing long threes.

    Kobe also made 1 tactical error. Nene is an amazing pick and roll defender, and was completely leaving Pau to double Kobe. Twice in clutch time, Kobe tried to split the double. The first time Nene nearly got the ball, Kobe bobbled it, and got it back. I hoped he had learned. He tried it again, Nuggets end up with the ball. Do NOT split the PnR with a defender like Nene.


  55. Not to be a nitpicker, but I thought the 2nd line of a haiku was supposed to be 7 syllables, not 8?

    Anyway, I second that. Our defense with Bynum in was extremely impressive, gave their drives a lot of trouble.


  56. In my opinion, one of the keys for next game is to force Melo to guard someone else instead of Kobe. Melo is absolutely manhandling Kobe and he is too big for Kobe to push his way through. This will only happen if there is a bigger guy at SF. I do not think Luke or Ariza is the answer because JR or Jones can easily guard them. Phil should definitely try a lineup with Lamar at SF. This will also ensure that Lamar gets to guard Melo which a lot of the people on this board have been clamoring for.

    I cannot think of any other answers to this situation – maybe some of the great minds here can shed some light.


  57. Needless to say, this is a pained group, and the back and forth is more akin to pain management therapy than any sense of healing.

    We don’t like the timing and circumstance of substitutions; we don’t like the pre-disposition NOT to play certain players; to NOT face hard truths; and more to the point, NOT make serious adjustments when the primary plan isn’t working.

    And this is on top of the team doing the Jekyl and Hyde thing (effort/execution) in the playoffs relative to a very satisfying regular season.

    Phil is not blind. The players are not blind. But both coach and team are so far removed from the plan of record (codified over the course of a very long season, anchored by hard truths delivered by a fist beating at the hands of the Celts last year), that the choice for Zen man is:

    A) Trust the path; stay the course;


    B) Accept that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome; course correct.

    I am all for course correction, but we’ll find out soon enough whether pride and faith drive PJ more so than hard truths.

    It’s probably his biggest test in the past 5-6 years, and one wonders if the Lakers fail to get past Denver, if Phil opts out of the rat race next season.

    Bottom line is that Denver has showed that they are not going to willed into collapsing, so full props to them, as they are playing extremely well. Melo has been great, and Billups makes all of the right decisions. Total heart and brain transplant for that team.


  58. exelodvr- I don’t think Fish and Sasha have been inconsistent. They have consistently shot the ball poorly. This is in contrast to last year when they shot the ball well. Our triangle looks nothing like an offense when the floor isn’t spread. To spread the floor we must have 3pt shooters who are hitting on the court. This whole playoffs, Fish and Sasha haven’t given that to us. It may be time to just cut the lossess short with them and try other parts. I’d rather see Luke start at the 3, let Kobe and Trevor play the guard role, or let Shannon start. I don’t think its too drastic to bench Fish, most other players probably would have been benched by now.


  59. “Everyone really needs to undertstand that Shaq is not good in pick and roll situations. He doesn’t move his feet well. So when Denver goes to the pick and roll on virtually every play Shaq becomes a liability and that’s when he fouls a lot. ”

    Doesn’t this statement fit Shaq also. Yet PJ did not hesitate to keep him in. I’m not saying bynum is as good as Shaq but at this time he may be exactly what we need.


  60. exhelodrvr,
    Hindsight isn’t necessary. Every crazy substitution PJ made was easily seen as soon as it happened. My word, poor Snoopy was almost brought to tears after one of them. I bet half of Laker Nation wanted to cry, hit the bottle, punch someone in the face, etc. when Fish subbed in for Brown in the 4th.

    If you’re so inclined, address #24 or anyone else’s specific rotation issue (there are many) and give us any reasonable argument for Phil’s decisions at the time. Actually, that challenge is for anyone.

    Anyone accepting the challenge – Please note, the Bynum doesn’t do PnR argument has already been debunked by a few, including Kurt.


  61. Bill Bridges,
    Again, I totally agree with you. I don’t say Phil has lost it as a coach, but I do say he has coached so long that he finds it very hard to make adjustments that don’t fit his long term coaching habits – sort of like Riley near the end of his career. If I remember correctly, Kurt practically had to beat him over the head to change the defensive scheme.

    I also agree that Phil has been outcoached in practically every game this playoff run. Sloan did the best he could, but didn’t have the horses. Addleman really outcoached Phil to drag that thing out to seven games. Now Karl is forcing Phil to react to his substitutions.

    What makes me so mad is: this is no overnight situation. Phil has been loath to make any changes to his patterns for the entire year. We have a very flexible club – able to take advantages of anyone in a single game situation – and we have Kobe (a point we continually have to pinch ourselves for). This allowed us to win 65 games. There were far more games we loafed through and won than games we lost with bad play. In a playoff series all these distractions and mistakes are magnified, because the other coach has the time to take advantage of them.


  62. I also think Phil Jackson has lost it a little bit. Maybe he’s got enough money and rings. Fish is totally over the hill. Maybe they can retire together.


  63. i saw bill simmons article on espn and didn’t even bother to click
    you know what he was going to say anyway
    why would espn let this guy keep his job


  64. I agree with an earlier post, I wish PJ would at least try to go big this series by putting Lamar at the 3 and maybe Shannon Brown at the 1. I like the way Ariza’s playing but Lamar is shooting the 3 just as well and it’s not like Ariza is slowing down Carmelo so why not give Lamar a chance at Anthony?

    I think we should go big and try to destroy them on the glass and really challenge shots in the interior. If we play a traditional line up I think we will lose this series.


  65. I made this post last night at 8:41PM (#316), after originally making it at 8:17PM immediately after Phil took Bynum out of the game:

    Let’s see if this repeat post gets through the spam filter, where it’s been sitting in limbo for half an hour:
    Bynum played very well in the first half, and was on the bench at the end of the 2nd quarter when DEN made their run. However, he came out at the start of the 3rd with absolutely no energy, and Phil made the right move in taking him out of the game. Phil has to be thinking, can I rely on this guy? Drew was not in foul trouble at the start of the 2nd half, so why did he have no energy?

    In that short stretch of the 3rd quarter, Drew made no effort to try for two or three rebounds that were two to three feet away from him. He didn’t even flinch at the ball. Remember in the first part of last season, when Drew was just beginning to establish himself for the first time, when he would practically murder a teammate when they had the nerve to simultaneously touch the ball at the same instant Drew was rebounding it? What happened to that incarnation of Drew? I’m sure Phil is thinking the same thing. Even if his knee is sore, Drew could at least grab a rebound with some ferocity. Remember when he used to let out a yell when he dunked? What happened to that person? Is he inside Drew somewhere, trying to get out again?


  66. Fish driving to rim
    Sasha shooting off dribble
    New TV, now smashed

    * * * * *

    Kobe swarmed, Pau shoved
    Lamar vanished in the haze
    Give Drew the fucking ball!


  67. I’d hate to lose a series because of our coach not playing our best players. Old man Phil is stuck in his ways and if uve ever argued with an old man u kno it’s next to impossible to sway their viewpoints on anything. Let’s hope we just win it the way we’re playing cuz no changes will he made. Fish will always start and he will get PT. Lamar will never be on with Drew and gasol. Our players are going up against the Nuggets + their insane homecrowd and Phil “Suicide” Jackson


  68. The only thing I hate about this board is the lack of confidence In a team that everyone claims to love when they drop a a game. We are In a better position then the Cav’s who are facing the possibility of being down 2-0 but I don’t hear the Cleveland fans putting down there squad because of one loss It’s really pathetic the fan support around here!! I don’t advocate blind loyalty when the team does’nt play well but come on people they suffered the same kind of loss that the cav’s did, get a big lead and a few play here or there cost them the game, It happens people this is the NBA. The Lakers will beat Denver and the Cav’s In the finals and we will all be celebrating come June!! Just Believe laker nation


  69. Lakers outscore Nuggets 36-18 in the first half keyed by Bynum, are outscored 20-16 in the second with ‘Drew on the bench.


  70. By the way, does anyone else find it hilarious that Charles Barkley now feels obligated to plug “LeBron is the best basketball player in the world” in every other sentence that comes out of his mouth? I could have sworn that before the Houston series, he still kept saying Kobe was the greatest.

    Yes, ESPN and NBA, we understand that LeBron is your poster boy. Stop flooding our ears with it.


  71. Brick… brick… airball… brick…
    Drive to rim, pray for bailout
    Fish, swimming upstream

    * * * * *

    Airball from Sasha
    Furious, I smash TV
    Two machines, both dead.


  72. I decided to chart the point guard spot for game 2. It’s no secret that Fish was no good. But when I watched the game again I realized he hurt us a lot more than I thought and SB and JF were a lot better than I thought.
    I assigned a crude +1, 0 or -1 for good, neutral, or bad play. It’s not accurate by any means (TO does not equal post entry pass), but it was still a huge discrepancy.
    Fish had 3 TO’s on bad entry passes. A lot of blown defensive assignments. Obviously bad drives to the hoop getting blocked. For how little he is involved on offense, I can easily say he made bad/dumb plays on more than half of any play he was involved in. Total -10
    SB used athleticism very well. Hit 3’s. Stayed in front of Billups and forced him into bad shots. When he drove to the basket, he drew the D and took floaters, which opened up for O rebounds whereas Fish’s drives ended up in blocks and transitions baskets. Total +14 (+6 in 12-0 4th quarter run)
    JF didn’t get many minutes. I’m convinced he would’ve played even better as he got into rhythm. Defense suspect though. Total +8
    The biggest difference was Farmar and SB were involved with the ball, whereas Fish stood around a lot when the ball went into the post. One could argue JF and SB need the ball to be effective on O, but I don’t mind SB taking open 3’s. On D, it’s no contest.
    This obviously doesn’t translate to every game. But Just based off this game, Fish should not be playing a minute. SB should play w/ the starters since he defends, hits open shots, gets rebounds. Farmar should play with the 2nd unit since he needs the ball to create and he is more suspect on defense.

    10:42. No post entry to Gasol. Jacks up wild 3 w/ shot clock running down. (-1)
    9:55 Strips Nene. (But Nene gets ball back) +1
    8:55. Doesn’t hustle back, gives up rebound to DJones. Fouls Carmelo for 3 pt play. -2
    8:22 Drives to basket 1 on 3 early in shot clock. Bailed out Gasol offensive rebound. -1
    6:12 Fast break 2-1, passes to Bryant for 3pt play. Expected. 0
    3:30 Directs JR toward help, Lamar rotates, JR dishes for dunk. Not Fisher’s fault. 0
    3:28 Good post entry pass to Bryant leads to KB24 getting fouled. +1

    3:28 to end of first quarter
    Pretty obvious how bad Vujacic was, won’t get into it.

    2nd Quarter Shannon Brown (SB)
    11:00 Cuts off Billups nicely, almost TO. Rotates to JR, cuts him off, forces missed shot. +2
    10:27 Contests Billups transition jumper. Misses. +1
    9:43 Floater in lane. +1

    8:52 Farmar (JF) comes in for Vujacic.
    JF Deflects ball, contests shot. +1
    8:12 JF PNR, assist to Odom for layup. +1
    7:42 JF Nice post entry to Walton, who passes to Bynum for layup. +1
    7:18 JF to SB for layup. +1 JF +1 SB nice cut.
    7:00 JF drives, draws defense, passes to Bynum in deep position, fouled. +1
    6:36 SB reached on Anthony, gives up floater. -1
    6:22 JF drives baseline for layup. +1
    6:00 JF drives, draws D, Odom wide open 3 misses. +1
    5:36 SB quick post entry to Bynum, jump hook scores. +1
    5:22 SB tips rebound to JF. Fast break. Fouled. +1

    4:56 Starters back in. Fish:
    4:14 Lazy post pass to Kobe. Turnover. -1
    3:51 Strips Nene off helping Carter. +1
    3:45 Nuggets asleep, long entry past to Bynum for Dunk. +1
    2:22 Gets up into Billups at 27 ft. Doesn’t see screen coming. Gets picked. Nugs layup. -1
    2:03 bad pass to Kobe. Almost turnover 01
    2:01 Reaches on fast break defense instead of getting into position. Lucky no foul called. -1
    1:13 In same possession, gets beat by Billups. Lazy getting back. Helps on Nene off Billups, open 3. -2
    0:47 Fouls Billups in transition. Fouls again off inbounds. Penalty Ft’s. -1
    SB comes in for Fish.

    3rd Quarter starters. Fish:
    10:02 Boxes out. +1
    8:46 Misses box out. -1
    8:32 bad entry past to Kobe. TO -1
    8:11 Grabs contested rebound. Hits 3 in transition. +2
    7:25 Entry pass to Gasol, missed 3. +1
    6:34 Fouls on rebound offensive rebound. 0
    6:02 Deflects entry pass to Nene. Good help. +1
    5:15 tries to take charge. No call. 0
    4:50 Blows open layup in 2-1 fast break. -1
    4:01 Forces Billups into baseline help, but lazy recovery leads to Birdman layup. -1
    3:47 Early attacks basket against set defense leads to blocked shot & Billups transition 3. -1
    2:50 Again 1 on 3. -1

    2:35 Brown comes in. SB:
    1:26 Goes under screen on Billups. -1
    :42 Drives inside floater leads to Gasol O rebound. +1
    :18 Offensive rebound. +1
    :1 Gets run off 3 pt line. Missed shot. 0

    4th Quarter. Farmar in for Brown.
    11:24 Fouls Billups (KB blow assignment). 0
    Brown comes in for KB (maybe that was why the ‘mental rest’)
    10:29 JF post entry to Walton, layup. +1
    9:43 JF Good contest on JR. +1

    Farmar out, SB still in. SB:
    7:54 Forces Billups to help. Contests. +1
    7:41 Hits corner 3. +1
    7:20 Contested rebound. +1
    7:14 Floater leads to Odom O, fouled. +1
    6:22 Guards Billups 1-1 cuts him off, bad shot. +1
    5:47 O rebound, fouled, FT’s. +1

    Fisher back in. Fish:
    3:42 Ariza steal. Fish passes to Ariza. Easy. 0
    3:30 Gets picked, doesn’t fight through. Easy Billups 6 footer. -1
    3:11 Bad post entry pass. TO. -1
    1:44 Gets beat by Billups, foul on Gasol. -1
    1:21 long 3 at end of shot clock. Desperation. 0
    :29 Deflects Billups wild pass to Martin-Nene, layup. Not his fault but too short.
    :14 Jump Ball. Runs away from Ariza toward corner 3 as Ariza falls. Arguably Fish’s fault. If he comes to the ball they could’ve set up. Instead he wants to be hero down 2. -1
    :07 almost steal. Billups bobbles. Not Fish fault, but too slow. Could’ve gotten a steal. 0
    :03 contested corner 3. 0


  73. Lewis,
    I hear your complaint about us “Laker fans”. It is just that I have been critical of Phil’s rigidity for the past 3 years and through most of it he has been a teflon man. It is just recently that people are questioning him.

    I think he is a great coach, but he is also human and we have let him get off with shifting the blame off himself for years (i.e. read “The Show” by Roland Lazenby). This is not to claim Phil is the root of problems, but he is not blameless in this situation; any more than he is blameless in the Shaq vs Kobe feud. He plays his part and often doesn’t have to answer to the consequences – even if they resulted in 3 championships.

    The players must play the game and be held accountable for their actions on the court. The coach must be held accountable for how he manipulates those players. Most coaches get too little praise and too much blame. That is not true of Phil Jackson.

    If Phil refuses to try out some players because he can’t leave them in to solve their own problems, then I can criticize him for that action, if the result is a loss in a winnable game.


  74. Reggie Miller just mentioned that the Lakers have to watch out in Denver b/c of the altitude. Come on now. I’m a UCLA grad, I love Reggie – but that excuse is just that….an excuse. The Lakers played well in the 1st series in Utah where there was supposed altitude issues. and the Lakers played well in Denver/SLC last year as well.

    The issue will NOT be with the altitude but with the bench play. In road games, the bench will not be knocking down shots they make in Staples. The same can be said about Denver’s bench – watch out for JR Smith, AC, Birdman, Kleiza, etc. to play better.

    What this means is that Odom is going to have to play one of his best games of the postseason just to compensate. Also, as Kurt mentioned, Bynum needs more burn. He might be able to help clog the middle so Billups doesn’t penetrate into the lane at will.


  75. Lewis it’s not that we hate our team and etc, of course we think they can win the series, it’s just that they were SO close its frustrating! With some proper substitutions who knows what the score could have been, that is all..

    btw, did you guys see how mo williams threw that ball on dwight? and No T…wow…what a little rat hah


  76. I was pondering this all afternoon while (mostly) working: Kurt, Darius and others have made the point that Bynum is the ‘X-Factor’ that can give us a big boost. That’s certainly what we all thought during the off-season. His length, when active, makes the interior of our defense much more difficult to penetrate; plus his rebounding.

    But also remember during the off-season the big discussion was whether Odom or VladRad would start at SF to play along Bynum and Pau. Ultimately the coaching staff settled on VladRad for his outside shooting to spread the floor. After his departure Ariza settled into the SF spot, and although he’s improved his 3-pt shooting he’s still not someone opponents are afraid of getting hot.

    Losing a shooter at the starting SF spot has made it all the more important for our other role players (Fish, Farmer, Vujacic) to be able to consistently hit those outside shots, to loosen the defense, making it easier for Pau and Bynum to operate in the painted area.

    All of our shooters are struggling big time right now and I think it’s ultimately as big a problem as Bynum’s inconsistent play.

    If Birdman, Voice of Nuggets Nation, or Great Wall are reading this I’d be interested in your opinion: Is there anyone (besides Kobe) whom you fear getting hot from the outside (in the same way we fear Billups or Kleiza, etc)?

    What would be a bigger X-factor for us? Getting our role player’s outside shooting touch back, or getting good minutes from Bynum? At this point it’s hard to imagine Fish or Vujacic getting their shot back, so maybe Kurt and Darius, and others, are right in that we need Bynum to step up in order to win this series.

    Considering Bynum’s age, lack of experience, two knee injuries, not enough playing time after returning from injury, and PJ’s seeming lack of confidence in him, I’m worried that we’re not going to get that X-Factor.


  77. I personally think Phil’s lack of confidence in Bynum is the biggest question of the series. If Phil refuses to play Bynum out we will never see any result and just assume the worst. If he does we may be happy or we may be very unhappy.

    What we know at this time is that we can’t count on Fish or Sasha to hit their shots and we know Lamar will be in-and-out, we just don’t know when.

    I don’t think we have too many choices with Bynum. Try him out. He may do ok enough for us to clog the middle a bit and win or he may bomb out and we lose.

    The other key to the Bynum puzzle is that he allows Pau some rest. He has been getting more minutes than Kobe and he, also, was in the Olympics last summer, and he, also, played in most of the games this year – he needs some rest during playoff games. Besides the altitude will affect him and we just need to give him a break.


  78. All teams in the league get some bad calls, some good calls. It pretty much averages out. But the Cavs seem to get many more good calls than bad calls. I was so disgusted with some of the calls they were getting through the Detroit and Atlanta series, that I vowed never to watch a Cavs game again just because its so frustrating. It’s not even fair to the opposing team.

    I really don’t think the refs are going to let anybody beat the Cavs this year. So, even if the Lakers do make it to the finals, there is very little chance they win.


  79. SBCinAZ said it very well. I can’t speak as an opposing fan, but who would you fear getting hot from outside? Sasha or Fish, if you haven’t watched Lakers basketball the last 3 months, maybe. But really, no one.

    On the other hand, we can legitimately worry about Billups, Smith, Anthony, and Kleiza catching absolute fire. I don’t have the box scores in front of me so I can’t say if 3-point shooting’s really hurt us, but they’re definitely a better shooting team.


  80. I must say, though, it’s really nice not having to complain or worry about our team’s effort or energy. The problems with this game were mainly execution (and a few bad substitution patterns), and if you had to choose a problem to have, it’s nice that it’s execution and not effort.


  81. This Kobe thing is especially flummoxing me. How do you guys feel about the notion that he doesn’t get his points as easily as he used to, i.e. he’s a tad past his prime (all of this was started by Bill Simmons, of course)? This has been a whirlwind week guys. We’ve gone to war with Simmons, we’ve won a game and lost a game, J.A. Adande is scaring me half to death with that dark outlook he gave on the current status of the Lakers on his B.S. report visit today, and I just don’t know what to do anymore. For me this is like group therapy.


  82. Yes Snoopy, I too was happy with our effort last night. That’s the way we need to bring it every night.

    If we had executed better we could have certainly won that game last night, although I think the team has a couple of other structural problems besides execution and effort: mainly not enough shooters and Bynum’s inexperience.

    I’m just glad that even with our problems we’re still good enough to win it all.


  83. SB,
    I think that’s a legitimate concern. Bynum is young. He is a player that has never been asked to contribute at the level that we’re asking on the stage that he’s on now. So maybe, considering all the factors that you mentioned, he isn’t capable of being that guy right now. But, I also think he *can* do things that will help our team and that Phil *must* help/allow him to do those things (and encourage him in more diverse ways than he’s shown so far). I also think that we won as many games as we did this year because of so many other factors besides just Bynum. Kobe is playing to that level right now. Pau is close, but not quite there. Farmar is seemingly regaining his stride as a contributor. Ariza is playing quite well. But, if we are to succeed as a team, we’ll need more than just that. We need LO. We need some shot making from Sasha (at least in one or two games – just to help and keep people honest on him). We need Fish to have a couple more games like his 2nd half of game one. We need Luke to hit some jumpers, move the ball, hit the offensive glass, post up guards, etc. Essentially, we need guys to play to their strengths and meet (or at least come close to meeting) the standard that they’ve set for themselves in the regular season. And I have not given up hope on that (nor have I even come close). As has been said several times before, the first two games of this series have been really close, 50/50 games that have swung late on some lucky/fluky/strange plays. That’s just how it goes some times. But I’m fully confident that we can and will play better. I have that confidence based off the team that we’ve seen perform all season long. It won’t come easy, but who ever thought raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy would be? Not I. Let’s get to it tomorrow. I think we’ll be ready.


  84. Good talk about the proble , I did enjoy the game very much, lots of effort from both sides last night. I do think we will steal a game in Denver though and come back with a best 2 out of 3 game series left. I do not expect PJ to change a thing with the way he has been playing his players and the substitutions, he will not change his ways.


  85. Another huge Cavs lead just evaporated. If these were the Lakers, we’d be screaming about killer instinct. Granted, we have a history of this when the Cavs don’t – but it shows every team is prone to lapses, especially against tough matchups like the Magic.


  86. Do the Cavs fans ever sit? I’ve no great love for them, but even the boozers are all up, cheering on the team, partying, having a good time. Staples were pretty good last night, but I’m still amazed at how many people I see in the lower levels texting instead of watching the game. Must be nice to have that kind of money.


  87. As we all have indicated – Kurt hit it right on. But I also think that PJ has become the Al Davis of basketball. He is literally going insane. How can he let Fisher stay in, Bynum out, call no appropriate timeouts to stop momentum….he is going to lose this for the Lakers. Denver is going to take the series in 6. I REALLY hate saying that but this Laker team could be going to Denver trailing 0-2. They are lucky going 1-1. They’ll lose both in Denver because their crowd energizes them…even though LA is a good road team, Denver is peaking and we look totally lost. This team is going to be blown up at the end of the season.


  88. Though Cleveland is doing poorly, nobody will jump on them like they do the Lakers. Up 23 and lose (or almost), unfocused and not mentally tough enough? No way! Only the Lakers aren’t mentally tough! Only the Lakers give up leads!

    I suppose now Barkley will proclaim Carmelo as the best player in the world based on one series.

    Double standards make me laugh.


  89. 2 observations from Game 2:

    -Varejao is the most disgusting flopper I have ever seen. Ever. It’s obscene. Divac and Ginobili bring some flair and grace to the act. Varejao is the first player I’ve wished I could reach through my TV and punch.

    -Courtney Lee is an absolute stud. Steal of the draft, more so than Chalmers.

    **Lebron James hit an amazing shot, props. But did you see his expression after the shot? He was shocked . I really don’t think he believed it was going in, wow. Weird reaction from a superstar. I kind of like that human side of him though.


  90. Cavs design their last-second desperation play for LeBron nd they win. Lakers design their last-second desperation play for a 1-8 DFish and they lose. The results speak for themselves.


  91. this might seem unfair, but if ur turkoglu you have to make sure your shot is a buzzer beater, dont give the cavs any chance to win


  92. exactly scot, i bet you kobe is watching that and wondering WHY he didnt take the last shot. ugh.


  93. James. That IS unfair. How are you supposed to time your shot so perfectly and yet get a good look? Not bloodly likely!


  94. Fish? Hooked. Machine? Broke.
    Just Kobe, Pau, Trev., ShanWow
    Where’s Lamar? Crickets.


  95. Scot and Jacqueline.

    Fish has hit just as many clutch shots in his career as Kobe as. Remember 0.4 secs anyone? When you’re down 3 and the defender is denying Kobe the ball…what other options do you have? I’m sure Plan A was for Kobe to get the last shot.


  96. 103, Wasn’t Hedo’s fault. Lewis could’ve pressured the ball more, and Pietrus could’ve helped on LeBron instead of being sucked in by Pavlovic decoy.

    LBJ admitting to travel? Wow.

    Amazing shots. I love the playoffs.


  97. If Cavs win this series, that shot will be replayed over and over a la Ehlo shot or Bird steal as part of LBJ’s legacy. But he needs his team to win first.


  98. After the first four games, one couldn’t ask for more competitive series in the conference finals.

    What is this – the WWE? I swear it must be scripted – or the refs are controlling it… 🙂


  99. Why does Charles Barkley start but never finish saying the word lackadaisical???


  100. Although I am clearly not happy about the loss, I’m not overly concerned, at least not yet. Remember we split the home games last round, and took game 3 in convincing fashion. Granted that series didn’t go exactly as i had hoped, but the point is that we won and moved on. I have full faith in Kobe, Phil, and company to step it up a notch. All year long we’ve been saying how this team steps up when it really has to.. Now is a good chance to see for certain.


  101. i am very concerned about the next game – in a way i feel it is a must win
    denver’s confidence is sky high now – because they basically blew game 1 – so could easily have been up 2-0, also i agree gasol looks tired – but this is the playoffs – i do not see how we can win without gasol playing consistently at a high level – who else do we have besides kobe – right now our third best player is ariza – and at least he plays hard every night – although he made some mistakes down the stretch last night – there is no way we will win in denver without gasol and/or bynum scoring at least 20 points – we are too on consistent scorers (minus kobe) it’s really ashame because to win a championship you need to be at your peak in the playoffs and clickings as a unit night in night out (obviously some games you will have bad shooting nights) we seem to have “no team chemistry” or peak play – we someone peaked in the playoffs – i only pray we can sneak by without playing to our best potential – denver is in no way the rockets- plus i have yet to see us ever come from behind or win a close game in this entire playoffs (other than game 1 we we basically won by hanging in there and denver missing free throws)


  102. About the cavs last vs. the lakers last play.

    Remember guys, Cavs needed a two to tie. We needed a 3 to tie. Kobe would’ve been immediately fouled had he caught the inbounds pass.
    They made James take a tough 3, instead of getting a lob at the basket…

    But these are some exiting playoffs I tell yah.


  103. secondly if we don’t come out strong from the get go on the road – i think we will be pretty much doomed – we can’t afford to get way behind against denver and expect to come back on the road in that stadium – we’d better come out with tons of energy tomorrow


  104. @102, 104

    Phil says Kobe didn’t get that shot because he knew the defense would foul & they needed a three.

    This may not be the appropriate venue, but the question must be asked…and I genuinely want an answer. Has there ever been a coach who gushed and fawned over their star palyer as much as Mike Brown does over Lebron James on a regular basis and at such an extreme level? It is actually embarrassing. It is incredibly uncomfortable to watch. Is that because my coach led two of the best to ever play the game & never did? Or am I oversensitive?


  105. Watching Turkoglu I’m thinking that if we get in the finals with those guys we’re really going to get to hate that little Rule 1. Playing against LeBron, though, that’s like sharing a hansom cab with Jack the Ripper. You expect him to kill you.


  106. Hollinger said in a more concise way what I was trying to say in his PER Diem – the Pau and Kobe PnR is no longer our strongest play, not against this team. Bringing a PnR defender as good as Nene into the picture should be the last thing we want to do (if someone else is on Pau, then go for it). Hopefully that’s an adjustment we’ll see in Game 3.


  107. So the Cavaliers blow a 23 point lead and none of the headlines question their killer instinct… They blew a 15 point lead in Game 1 and a 23 point lead in Game 2.

    We get much more beef about it than they do….


  108. why lakers lose by 3 point and the world comes down and Cavs blows 30 point lead and win all the sudden he is clutch king…


  109. So Snoopy, if Kobe/Pau pick n roll isn’t our #1 play, what is? I think Kobe clearout is a legitimate option. If Anthony is guarding him? That makes that a 50/50 option to me.

    But we really can’t rely on executing the triangle in the final two minutes. We hardly do it throughout the game, so we can’t expect solid execution down the stretch.

    So, if we don’t have our basic offense or our 1-2 punch “doin’ work”, what do we go to? Bynum on the block???


  110. Also, what is more obnoxious? As someone said earlier – Mike Brown’s overwhelmingly gushing man crush on Lebron or SVG’s overly trying to motivate his players, ‘put it on me’ post-game statements?


  111. I must say i’m going to be pretty disappointed if I don’t win the haiku contest (admittedly largely through default).


  112. 124 – That’s a good question. Someone better at X’s and O’s probably has a better answer. All I know is bringing Nene into a play is asking for trouble. Twice at the end of the game, Nene forced Kobe to bobble the ball, and the 2nd time it resulted a jump ball if I remember correctly. The PnR is normally our best play, but not against this team.

    Kobe iso would be more effective. If Carmelo’s not guarding him, Kobe in the post is our best option. If Melo is on him, Kobe at the top of the floor with shooters cleared out to give him space.

    It’s ironic, because the entire season we’ve been screaming for the opposite, but against this team Kobe iso’ing is actually more effective than a PnR involving Nene. Kobe’s picked their individual defenders apart.

    One adjustment I’d like to see Kobe make: don’t post up Melo. At the end of games, when Melo dials in, his length, strength, and quickness result in some great ball denial. A couple times when we needed a score we couldn’t get Kobe the ball. More movement on Kobe’s part, and taking the ball at the top of the floor and attacking Melo off the dribble is a better option. Repeatedly trying to post up Melo results in us not being able to get him the ball.


  113. Interesting…we now want Kobe to ISO at the end of the game. Of course he also must guard Chauncey and Melo.

    Oh, and I forgot, we intend to play both Kobe and Pau the entire 2nd half.

    Stop and think people.


  114. Does running an iso on one play really take that much more energy than a pick and roll does? The way Kobe was fighting to get past Nene, I’d argue an iso would take a lot less. Of course we can put the ball in someone else’s hands. Say…Fisher? Wait, I guess we saw how that turns out.

    If anyone has better suggestions, I’m listening. My only point was that the PnR (with Nene on Pau) is no longer our bread and butter. It may work at times, but I feel like there’s a better shot we can get. That’s all.

    And yes, Pau needs to rest. That guy looked absolutely spent.


  115. My point wasn’t how much energy an ISO uses, but that we expect absolutely everything from Kobe and Pau, while we totally despair all our other players.

    We have a good team – if they play as a team. All too often our players are taking things all on their shoulders and that is not the kind of team we have – sans Kobe.
    1) We have to actually run our offense
    2) Players have to concentrate on what they are supposed to do WITHIN that offense
    3) Relax and move your feet

    All this analysis concentrates on 1-on-1 matchups and who can do what. In this series we don’t have individual advantages because the other team is just as athletic and not as inconsistent. In this series we have to concentrate on our system and how that system can help beat the other team.


  116. I don’t think we should be over relying on iso’s, P&R’s, or anything else that doesn’t involve passing, cutting, screening, or anything else not named the Triangle Offense. Sure, a 1-4 Iso at the top for Kobe is an effective play. And the Kobe/Pau P&R is still an option as a change up within our normal sets. But, we built that lead in the first half by running our sets….post entries, cuts from strong to weak by guards, screens on the weakside, Kobe cutting hard baseline onto the low block for a post up, ball rotations to open shooters – this is how we need to play. And we also need to get Pau more touches in position to actually shoot the ball. This has been talked about plenty, but he only shot 8 times because we still aren’t creating as many post entries, and even when we do he’s pushed out too far and the help is in a position where his read says to pass. We need to find ways to get him the ball 8ft and in so his move is: turn/face, dribble, finish OR backdown dribble, backdown dribble, jumphook OR dropstep spin like he did to Birdman twice in the last game.


  117. in the Times this morning they’re saying that Phil and Andrew are not speaking to each other, 2 articles in fact, about “drew and his ‘people’ are not happy.
    let’s hope he comes out highly motivated tonight with something to prove.
    if he plays hard, (not necessarily well, just HARD), and competes, and hustles, he’ll get the minutes. the numbers will come if he can stay on the floor.
    Phil is the boss, he’s “the elder” and that means a LOT, especially to a ‘young grasshopper’ like ‘Drew. he needs to listen to PJ, and the team, do exactly what they ask, give up his own ego, just play hard.
    we’ll see how this drama unfolds later today, eh?


  118. The flow of our offense has not looked crisp or efficient since the start of the playoffs, and I am wondering if this has anything to do with trying to work Bynum back into the rotation. And I am also wondering if Phil’s issues (actually, our issues with Phil) stem from this dilemma as well.


  119. emh,
    I think that has a lot to do with it. Bynum was just figuring things out when he got hurt, and he has no established game to fall back on after missing half-a-season. Add to that that his knee is still bothering him, at a minimum mentally, and probably physically as well. His play has been very inconsistent, both within games and from game-to-game. That makes it harder on the other players as well as on the coaches. Throw in Lamar’s historical issues with maintaining his focus, as well as his injury, and Powell’s inconsistent play. So does Phil leave Bynum in, and risk losing a game in the hope that there will be a payoff in the next game? Or does he take him out in advance of an anticipated bad stretch? Which, of course, puts more pressure on Gasol, who appears to be tiring out.


  120. I get the feeling watching these games that Phil Jackson is still coaching as if it’s the regular season, not calling timeouts and all that. I missed last season’s playoffs except for the finals, where PJ called quick timeouts when he needed them. Is this how he coached last postseason before the finals? I would like to think that the team is still learning and getting ready for the finals, but nowadays I don’t know what to think. I’m still pretty confident that the team will advance, though.


  121. Jackson needs to go, last game when he took Ariza out and put Walton on Melo that’s when he made 5-6 straight shots

    His substitution is awful…………. & his issue with Farmar not playing him is hurting the team because Fisher is a liability & he shouldn’t be on the court……..


  122. I wonder what the reaction would have been had we won a close Game 2 instead of losing the way we did. We would have praised Phil for his coaching instead of banishing him as some fans here have suggested.

    Had Fisher hit the 3 at the end, we would say “I told you so,” and say even if Fish goes 1-9, he can still be counted on to hit the big shot.

    What I’m trying to say is that this series will likely be decided who makes the hustle plays and who does not have a brain-fart in the middle of games. I can point out one instance during the game where the Lakers were unsure who was supposed to guard Billups and Billups just comes in unchallenged into the paint for two FTs. That kind of play is inexcusable at this point in the season.

    Let’s let Phil and Fish do what they do, and just hope that the Lakers make their FTs and come out with focus so that they do not get blown out in DEN.


  123. Agreed in so many ways. I’d only add that, beyond his mystifying and sometimes mortifying substitutions, PJ has never, ever been able to get this team to play solid defense for long stretches. Not spectacular, mind you, just solid.
    And he never will. I salute what he’s done for the Lakers over the years; but I still hope Phil exits this or next year. Seems like a dream situation, what with Byron Scott apparently willing at some point very soon to try his hand at the Lakers’ helm.