Lakers/Nuggets Game 3 Chat

Kurt —  May 23, 2009

Lakers Nuggets game 2 Western Conference Finals
The Lakers do not need to win today, they need to come back to Los Angeles 2-2. If they lose today but win the Monday Night RAW game, they will still be in a good spot to win the series. But if they are going to win either game, one thing needs to happen:

The Lakers need to control the paint. That is the line of scrimmage in football, the inside half of the plate in baseball — it is where games are won. Why Lakers fans are frustrated is that we had expectations of controlling the paint from the first day of camp. Bill Bridges explains.

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 mismatches 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.

The reality we all see (check out this breakdown from Don W.) is that Brown/Farmar are outplaying Fisher. That Bynum has some lapses but more good things than bad tend to happen when he is on the floor. Nobody is being consistent, but some of Jackson’s less trusted players are playing better. Craig W. said it well:

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?

There are other things we need to see. As Holinger pointed out — if Bynum is sitting (and often even when he is not) and Nene is on Gasol, running the high pick and roll with Kobe/Gasol is not as effective because Nene hedges so well on that play. A Kobe iso is more effective, spread the other guys along the baseline. That’s in the playbook, we used to do it all the time

But the Lakers need to get away from the pick and roll, away from the isolation and get shots through off the ball movement, through cutting, through good passing, Those are the ways the Lakers score efficiently on the Nuggets.

If we want someone other than Fisher to play, then someone has to hit the shots and make the plays. We call for Shannon Brown but he was 3 of 8 from the floor in game two. Jordan Farmar took one shot. Sasha is ice cold. Someone please grab control of that job and take it.

Also, the Lakers are going to have to play through the physical contact. In Denver, Lakers going to the rim are going to be pushed around and fouled, they cannot stop and look at the official hoping for a call. Finish. Control what you can control.


Really, is there a better way to preview a game than Haiku? No. Not one. Bill Bridges started it, here are his and some others from the comments

Bill Bridges

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

The most puzzling phrase:
“Kenneth what’s the frequency”
Then “And the proble”

Lil’ Pau

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


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


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


Two words.
Selfish. Offense.
That is why we lost.

501 responses to Lakers/Nuggets Game 3 Chat

  1. Man…they will just not get over that James shot…I really hope the Magic win game 3, I am sick and tired of hearing about James lucky shot.

  2. Good job getting Home court back. I have a couple of observations.

    1. I have a new respect for what Ariza brings to the Lakers. He has a great defensive mind, and is great at jumping the passing lanes. I didn’t see so much of it in the series with the Rockets or in other games that I watched. I would love to see him gain a little bit of strength to be able to gaurd some of the stronger players on the ball. He does have the mindset and ability to become an elite defender.

    2. Birdman’s defense is totally overrated. He doesn’t even attempt to put a body on anyone. All he does is hope that he can get a block. He is a good help defender, but is average at best on the block against a skilled big.

    This has been a great series so far, especially for someone who’s team is on vacation. I still think the Lakers win in 6 or 7.

  3. A huge difference this game was that last game, the refs called a foul every time a Nugget went to the hoop and was touched. This game they swallowed the whistles. That’s why Karl was complaining I think, he expected the same kind of treatment.

    I have no doubt, though, that the next game the officiating won’t be as favorable. The NBA is better off if Denver ties the series.

  4. great point 398, i was thinking the same thing – you should admit when you team makes mistakes – but the fact that he couldn’t answer that he trusts them to win is pretty bad…why is he so devastated anyway they lost a close game – but this series can still easily go 7 games and be very close- if the lakers win game 4 it’s a different story

  5. Lebron’s shot was good, but certainly lucky. And the Cavs have to be concerned that it took a shot like that to tie it going into Orlando.

  6. Question for you’all
    can the league go back and review the 2 handed shove in Kobe’s back when he was going in for the layup, and give an after the game “flagrant foul”?
    I would hope so, that was BUSH!!

  7. Horrible D on the Bron shot. We were all screaming seeing that set up that he was going to get a clean look. If you’re going to play the lob, you have to have a guy play the reverse and prevent the three. Going to OT should have been the worst result. Orlando has all the mo anyway. Last thing you want is a game winning shot to drain your team and pump up Clev

  8. One last comment on the refs, before I go find another beer to celebrate with.

    We shouldn’t need their help to win. We are a good enough team, despite how we played early in the game tonight, that we can win even when the refs are openly biased against us. All we need to do is execute consistently on defense and to get the ball to Pau in the paint a lot more often, and of course execute on that end as well. And Kobe needs to rest. A lot.

  9. well, one thing more about that BUSH 2 handed shove in the back of Kobe… that will be watched more than a few times in the Lakers locker room and provide extra motivation for a certain #24..
    hahaha, thanks for that it’s always fun to watch a highly motivated #24!!!

  10. Mimsy, I just want some more consistent officiating for both teams. But yes, if the team is executing as Phil says, then they should be able to handle anything.

    And on that note, I’m getting together with some friends and doing some drinking. There I go sounding like an alcoholic again.

  11. Man, I didn’t think I could have Dahntay Jones more with his smug smile and annoying play but just an awful foul on Kobe.

    George should maybe tell himself to get a grip before telling his players to maintain their composure.

  12. J, the first step is admitting it.

  13. Ariza and Pau filled in for everyone else minus Kobe yet again, and they just did a better job of it tonight than Game 2.

    I don’t think there will be any way Kobe will get rest in fourth quarter, so it’s going to come down to other guys (ahem, Bynum!) to step up in the second and third quarter and maybe give him more bench time.

  14. Btw, I don’t know if this applies to any of you, but whenever the Lakers win, my productivity at work the next day drops – because I want to sneakily read all of the expert analyses and reactions.

    When they lose, I avoid any sports pages so I don’t get depressed again. LOL.

    If the Lakers win the title, I’m gonna get fired.

  15. One final final comment: No ripping on Luke Walton for the next 24 hours! He played great down the stretch. He stepped up when someone had to, and got the job done. Give the guy his due.

    And yes, consistent refs would be great. Unfortunately I think that’s beyond the NBA’s resources and capacity for the foreseeable future. It’s not that they aren’t trying. It’s just that the game moves too fast and the rules are too detailed for any consistency to be possible. At least from the point of view of the fan who has access to replays and multiple camera angles.

    NOW, off to beer. 🙂

  16. I can’t ever remember being this unhappy after a win. I can’t remember not being happy after a win, period.

    I just feel sick. The fans who live and die on each possession know what I mean. It was just constant fear like I can’t describe every moment Fish was in the game tonight, the constant frustration we were fielding a 3rd-stringer.

    There was a play in the 4th when no one was within arms reach of him and he slipped and fell. No one around him. Barely called a time-out, otherwise another TO. Derek Fisher is doing things on a basketball court I didn’t imagine possible.

    If we get beat by a better team, kudos. I’ll live with it. But getting beat because our best lineup is sitting on the bench? That would haunt me for a long, long time.

    I just hope Fish breaks out of this soon. Even if he does – even if he hits a game winner in Game 7 of the Finals – it’ll be hard to undo the damage his play has done to this team.

  17. DTC, I do the exact same thing. I avoid all media (TV, Print and Internet–except for this site) after a loss and devour all media after a win. After the Lakers loss in the Finals last year, I avoided sports shows for at least a month.

  18. la_resistance28 May 23, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    DTC, I do EXACTLY the same thing. I avoid all sports articles the day after a loss. Someone should conduct research into how much money is cost in lost productivity in Los Angeles after Lakers games!

  19. 416, you are exactly right, that is what i have been saying, we won because denver didn’t make shots -but we gave them their fair share of chances at the end and lucky for us a few good plays at the end got us the win – we still had much more bad then good

  20. Farmar had a horrible, horrible game but Fisher actually, if you can believe it played worse then him. Can we win a championship getting absolutely nothing from the point guard position?

  21. lol this cheered me up a lot. People may have seen it already. Via Ball Don’t Lie, Ron Artest in an interview was asked about his horrific shooting slump against the Lakers. Here’s what he said:

    ‘ “… I couldn’t shoot the ball anymore. He hit me right at the point of my collarbone, so, like my whole left side of my neck, and my left chest was so tight. I couldn’t even sleep on it, he hit me that hard and it had been downhill ever since then. It really threw my shot off, you know, I had been shooting the ball well. I shot it well in Game 6 in Portland, in games one, two, and three, I was shooting the ball really well, and then it caught up to me. I’m still in a little bit of discomfort right now …”

    (Host: “Did you get it checked out?”)

    “No, it’s getting better. It was a bruise.”

    Just to clarify: Ron Artest shot 17-61 (28%) from the floor in his last 157 minutes of play because of a bad bruise.’

  22. haha archon you are so right…it’s really so ridiculous it’s laughable – also did fisher not do the exact same slip and turnover at the end of game 2 – or am i having deja vu – except this time he got a time out
    he must be thinking “gee i play like SH*T and PJ keep putting me in -awesome”

  23. also, Lamar needs to step out and take a charge. in the 1st half he had birdman running towards the hoop in a straight line with no live dribble, and instead of taking the charge he backed away slowly and barely contested the layup. In the 4th he had melo out of control and in the air, but instead of taking the charge he tipped the ball out of bounds. Subsequent inbounds was the Billups 4 point play.

  24. Just got home from that wild crazy finish.

    Kobe was sooo…. unearthly.
    I’m 3/3 in my predictions.

    Going for Denver in Game 4.

    All 5 games (3 in LA-Den, 2 in ORL-CLE) have been CLOOOSSSEEEE.

  25. Hollinger just said this in his chat, and I heard it here before – let’s put this to rest:

    Yes, we could have “used” Radman tonight. But we need to stop thinking of that move as a salary dump, like we made some huge mistake. We effectively traded Vlade for Brown. No trade, no ShanWOW, who’s done amazing things.

    Especially amazing considering he’s getting about 8 minutes of PT this series. Phil Jackson clearly wants that 10th ring.

  26. the other Stephen May 23, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    HAHAHA i enjoyed kobe’s flying tidbit at the end.

  27. A win is a great thing. Pau stepped up and hit 2 huge hoops. Hard, tough moves that are the type of moves people have wanted to see him make. Ariza also hit 2 huge hoops, he really took a step in his career progress. Last, I have been calling for Luke to start, and tonight he really came up big. Defensively he cooled Melo in the 3rd quarter. I think Walton and Brown should get the PG minutes, I was really disapointed in the Farmar meltdown, he had been playing well of late.

  28. 426.

    I really, really like Brown but should we pay him 3-4 million to be our third string point guard? If we do re-sign him we are definitely saying Farmar is not the guy

  29. Guys, come on now! There was no STEALING this game! We were up 2 before Karl made a huge mistake by letting Kenyon inbound the ball! We didn’t play great tonight (outside of Kobe, Ariza, and Pau at times) but we pulled out a CLUTCH win. Champions win games like this, and before this series, I was really questioning if we had championship-caliber heart and intensity! Now the rest of the team needs to get on the same page as Kobe, but we’re headed somewhat in the right direction. NOW, that being said, I welcome the media talking all day tonight, tomorrow, and Monday about how we STOLE this game. That’ll just allow the team to (hopefully) band together under the oh-so-successful underdog banner!!

  30. j. d. hastings May 23, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    How many points have decided all the conference finals games?

    Remember when HOME court got you an advantage with the officials? Someday we will take this out of the hands of old men and give it to robots to do correctly…

  31. Snoopy, nice Artest link. That really is laugh out loud material – pretty much anything he says anymore has you scratching your head.

    Thrilling dagger by Kobe w/ a minute left. I was about to lose my mind if JR Smith made another shot over a helpless Derek Fisher. He can’t be out there at the end of the game. Against this Denver team, we can go big at the end w/ LO Bynum Pau Kobe and Ariza. Kobe brings the ball up, and I think TA and Odom can do enough to spread the floor. Plus, go inside out, now you have Kobe spotting up.

    The defense is where this would excel against Denver. I still think Phil is allergic to that front line, so I doubt it will happen. I think if nothing else, give me some Luke Walton, Shannon Brown, or even Sasha down the stretch (sorry Farmar). But no more Fish…next series might be different but it doesn’t work right now.

  32. Shaq says he’ll play 3 more years:

    “Even though I’ve been playing 17 years on paper, if you subtract the games that I missed, I missed three years. Therefore tells you I have three years to play.”

    And if you count the games Shaq took to play himself into shape, he’ll be playing into his fifties.

    (*this zing! approved by Kobe Bryant*)

  33. Snoopy2006, yeah, I feel like you do after this win, unhappy, we were battling from behind the whole time and just could not control the game. We were very lucky to get this W, and could not buy a FT tonight. The goal was to go home 2-2, so fine that is at least accomplished now; anything else is gravy from the Pepsi Center. I mean, we have HCA back again.

    It was a fun and exciting Playoff game though; my heart cannot take another one like this.

  34. Archon – I don’t think ShamWow is going to ask for or expect 3-4 mil. If he wants to come back to the Lakers, I think he knows there won’t be room to be paying him that much…At least not next year, perhaps one day though.

  35. Snoopy – How can you be upset about tonight’s win??? I know we want our team to win every game by 20 points, but these are fairly evenly matched teams. No, we weren’t perfect, but we played big when it counted.

    We simply showed the kind of “heart” and “determination” that so many of the media state so frequently that we don’t have. We didn’t let the Thuggets intimidate us and we went into the post with more frequency. There have been 3 extremely close games and we’ve come out on top in two of them. My wife told me in the mid-3rd quarter that we probably wouldn’t win, but I learned a long time ago (the Portland game in 2004 to be exact) that with Kobe on your team, you always have a chance. I hope that all of us are truly enjoying these games. Should we be nervous? Yes – but we should savor watching the surgeon-like precision with which Kobe operates. That 3 pointer was worthy of the crotch-tug that Kobe has done several times. How many tough post-season 3s does this guy make? I just marvel at him every game.

    Kudos to Pau for several clutch buckets down the stretch. And as for Trevor…he is becoming a mini-Horry with the game ending clutch plays. All that’s left is for him to hit a game winning 3 (all in good time). It was interesting that he openly mentioned in his post-game comments that this Laker team doesn’t play with the same effort in the early parts of the game that it does in the 4th quarter, but then again, how many teams do?

    Great game, TREMENDOUS effort and let’s make Memorial Day really memorable with a win to go up 3-1.

  36. j. d. hastings May 23, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    BTW, Bill Simmons tweets, since we did get on him before (its almost like he’s an elected official we have to lobby to get fairer treatment…):

    FYI: Lamar Odom is having the greatest “pressuring the inbounds passer” playoff series that anyone’s ever had.

    ESPN’s Ric Bucher is reporting that George Karl plans on coming up with an effective inbounds play by Game 5. Story developing.

    Final thought: Next time LeBron hits a historic playoff game-winner & the media goes bonkers about him, bet on Kobe the next night.

  37. you all gotta stop with the Fish bashing.
    did you hear Kobe’s post game interview?
    he said Fish pulled the guys into a huddle and told them this is what it’s all about, what we play 82 plus games for to be right in this place at this time and it’s time to gut it out…(I’m paraphrasing) but the point is that even Kobe gave credit to Fish …not for a basket, or a defensive stop…
    for —
    stop bashing, you aren’t intimate with the team, we are all just TV watchers, we don’t know what goes on in the inside circle, but you can bet that Phil does! he calls the shots, he’s the coach, and leader of the team, we live and die by his decisions.
    Fish still brings calm, and leadership and that has to count for something, even if it’s only to some guys like PJ and Kobe…think that matters?

  38. It took me awhile to come to this given all that he meant to the team last year and during his first stint with the Lakers, but, I agree Fisher should have his minutes cut. I am all in favor of the big LO/Bynum/Gasol front line with either Kobe/Trevor or Kobe/Shannon in the front court. Hell, I’d rather have Luke play PG at this point. Fisher played some good defense at times, cutting off the 3 on 1 when he stole Nene’s pass comes to mind specifically, but he is killing us on offense. The mindless forays to the basket and his lack of outside ‘touch’ have been driving me nuts. Plus he is getting killed by quicker players on defense…like JR Smith for example.

  39. Chris- I understand Fish is a leader…but if he plays like he has the last two rounds, he should be leading from the bench, that’s just the most sensible thing to do.

  40. Gr8 Scott – You misunderstood me. When did I say I wanted a 20 point win? Nothing like that at all. These are two evenly matched teams, and I expect each game to come down to the wire. I love it that way.

    What kills me is this: I want our best players out there. That’s all. Is that too much to ask? Fisher’s awful decisions physically hurt me on every play. Phil’s decision to keep going with him gave me ulcers. Every time Fish catches the ball, I close my eyes and offer up a prayer. He’s that bad right now. Every single thing he does is wrong. He fell down on a play with no one around him How is that possible?

    How can we be satisfied when our best PG doesn’t play? Shannon Brown – 8 minutes. The player who works hardest on the defensive end. The guy who 3 times has gotten annihilated by monster picks and gets up and sprints back to defend. That’s what kills me. Nothing about the closeness of the game.

    To put it in perspective: Fisher right now is playing exactly like slumping Farmar was. That Farmar was benched, rightfully so. Did he recover eventually? Yes, but if we wait for Fish to recover we might find ourselves gone fishing. At some point you stop playing for the future and just try to get each win with the players that are playing best.

  41. Making the shots they made will be big for both Pau and Trevor’s psyche. Those were arguably the best two shots (the two 3’s for Trevor, the two post turnarounds for Pau) each of them have hit their entire careers.

  42. Cosign JD x4, as well as Kwame & Snoop

  43. We will see more Melo on Kobe in Game 4. Lakers will need to adjust.

    Fun win. Still see problems.

  44. 414, DTC, totally with you on that one. I’m in school, so I usually don’t pay attention during classes the day after a Lakers win cuz I’m surfing the net.

    416, Snoop, felt the same way during and after the game. Was kind of just like, wtf? after we won instead of actually being happy. I felt pretty crappy the whole game. It seemed like they were getting all the loose balls and we were being lethargic. But we made shots down the stretch and they didn’t. I keep telling myself that o feel better. There’s hope.

  45. Snoopy – I guess I read too much into your comments and my apologies. What I would say is to enjoy this win. It is great watching us win a game we trailed for most of the night – a true gut test game. And as for Fisher, I too, worry when he shoots, but remember that he did hit a HUGE 3 in game one that helped us win. I’m paraphrasing Toby Keith here, but Fish ain’t as good as he once was, but he’s as good once as he ever was.

  46. I’ve said this to my friends and Ill say it again.

    NBA Playoffs is not about season records, although it may have a little bearing into it, it’s about matchups.

    You play the same team at least 4 games in the playoffs.
    It’s not the 82-game season where you face different kind of teams, players, coaches, and styles, this is the playoffs where you put your rest/practice day watching/analyzing the same team’s play over and over again.

    Therefore, you expect almost every game to be close. And this is what we are seeing in these playoffs.

    The key is not to adjust, rather the key is to play well as you have done all season long.
    Although that didn’t happen to my team since we just recently caught the stride late-January.

    That’s why the Lakers won the game tonight.
    They did what they do best, supply the best high-percentage shot you could have in a possession.

    But of course, everyone in LA not named Kobe, Pau and Trevor did their normal routine but didn’t deliver. They were shooting the way they did in the regular season but it just didn’t have that same outcome tonight.

    What surprises me is the ineffectiveness of Chauncey Billups. He has been awful this round against the Lakers and the only bright spot I can’t point to is his ability to create contact and go to the free throw line.
    He has been too tentative shooting the way he normally does.

    And he commits way too many turnovers for a veteran “Big Shot” player.
    The Nuggets committed way too many fouls and put the Lakers 45 times in the free-throw line, good thing they only made 31, thanks to a 5-of-12 FT start.

    I would want to mention JR Smith, but I figured it would just be a waste of time. The guy is struggling to get his rhythm and continues to take ill-advised shots.

    OT: Did anyone notice the veteran PGs (Billups and Fisher) and last year-wonders (Smith and Vujacic) are struggling in this series much?

  47. chris – I’m sorry man, but your post made me laugh out loud, and I don’t mean that in a harsh way. Poor Kobe probably couldn’t think of anything nice to say about Fish’s play.

    We’re just TV watchers? So Fish flailing wildly into the lane, forcing up contested jumpers, bricking everything he throws up, falling down when no one’s around him, and just making awful decisions all-around…the fact that we’re watching on TV makes us incapable of judging that?

    Come on bro, how do you watch this game seriously and not realize how badly Fish hurt us every time he touched the ball? We need him to gather the troops in Game 3 of the WCF and say “This is what we’re playing for”?

    He’s a veteran, and yet decision making has regressed to Farmar’s level during his slump. He may have great “inspiration” leadership, but at the moment, his floor leadership is sorely lacking.

  48. Snoopy, there was a wet spot on the floor. I wouldn’t read too much into that one play.

  49. Gr8 Scott – yeah my plan is to go back and re-watch this and savor the awesomeness that is Kobe Bryant. Fish and Phil just left a very sour taste in my mouth. I need to enjoy a clutch performance from the Mamba.

    Seriously, what will we do when Kobe retires? Just got to enjoy every minute of this, I guess.

  50. j. d. hastings May 23, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Something I was thinking about today: When is the last time so few champions were in the final 4? Last year the Spurs and detroit were beaten by less experienced teams who duked it out. This year, the Lakers and Cavs have previously been to the finals, but the only players with real championship credentials are Kobe, Fisher, Billups and Wallace (I haven’t fully studied the rosters, so may have missed someone). And Fisher and Wallace aren’t able to produce as they once were.

    But Kobe and Billups definitely show the value of that experience. So while there are still a lot of reasons to worry, having the best guy left with true championship credentials is a nice thing to have in your pocket.

  51. Also, as far as the Fisher thing goes, we WILL need him in the finals (assuming we get there), and we still need him in this series. But I am really thinking it’s time to change the pace and let our young guns get a chance in the 4th quarter when they are showing more production all game. Whether that be Brown, Bynum, or Sasha – decide what works best and go with it. That’s what our coaching staff needs to do for us to play better down the stretch.

    But I don’t want this issue to cloud a great win, one that got a push by Anthony’s early departure. Pau was straight crafty smooth on those late fallaways.

  52. I’ve said this to my friends and Ill say it again.

    NBA Playoffs is not about season records, although it may have a little bearing into it, it’s about matchups.

    You play the same team at least 4 games in the playoffs.
    It’s not the 82-game season where you face different kind of teams, players, coaches, and styles, this is the playoffs where you put your rest/practice day watching/analyzing the same team’s play over and over again.

    Therefore, you expect almost every game to be close. And this is what we are seeing in these playoffs.

    The key is not to adjust, rather the key is to play well as you have done all season long.
    Although that didn’t happen to my team since we just recently caught the stride late-January.

    That’s why the Lakers won the game tonight.
    They did what they do best, supply the best high-percentage shot you could have in a possession.

    But of course, everyone in LA not named Kobe, Pau and Trevor did their normal routine but didn’t deliver. They were shooting the way they did in the regular season but it just didn’t have that same outcome tonight.

    What surprises me is the ineffectiveness of Chauncey Billups. He has been awful this round against the Lakers and the only bright spot I can’t point to is his ability to create contact and go to the free throw line.
    He has been too tentative shooting the way he normally does.

    And he commits way too many turnovers for a veteran “Big Shot” player.
    The Nuggets committed way too many fouls and put the Lakers 45 times in the free-throw line, good thing they only made 31, thanks to a 5-of-12 FT start.

    I would want to mention JR Smith, but I figured it would just be a waste of time. The guy is struggling to get his rhythm and continues to take ill-advised shots.

    OT: Did anyone notice the veteran PGs (Billups and Fisher) and last year-wonders (Smith and Vujacic) are struggling in this series much?

  53. My oh my, my post is still awaiting moderation.
    Hi guys.

  54. Zephid – It was just a symbol of his ineptitude, bro. If you’ve watched the game, there are plenty of other instances where he hurt us a lot more.

    But if you watch that play carefully (going off straight memory), I think there was more than just slipping. All 5 Nuggets were back and the Lakers weren’t set up for a play. A 1-on-5, of sorts. Fisher put his Billups cape on and decided to “put pressure” on the Nuggets defenders. (That sentence is hard to say without giggling). He took a few hard dribbles – that got him nowhere and were completely unnecessary – that led to the fall, if I’m remembering correctly. So a small mental error (even if he had broken through, we’ve seen how his drives turn out) led to a seemingly innocuous fall and an almost turnover.

  55. j.d. – that’s a really good point, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll add that even without championship experience, the Magic are very mentally tough. Their close playoff battles this year have sharpened them mentally, I think. Executing in Cleveland down double digits takes some mental strength.

  56. j.d. hastings (#437)

    I had the same thought when LeBron dropped that three. “Well, that settles it, Kobe’s going to answer on Saturday, and thus save the series.”

    Let these grey jackals
    Snap and snarl and swarm, let them
    Leap at the tiger.
    Let them leap at flames; he is
    Already gone; he
    Ate up their hearts and vanished.

  57. Some day, I will tell my grandchildren that I saw Kobe Bryant play basketball. I’m still giving him a standing ovation.

  58. That inexperience thing w/ the final four should prove to be a bigger advantage to LA than anyone. The team that many call “mentally weak” or “soft” may still have arguably the most experience going into the (again, assumed) finals. They will be confident against either team – especially due to how battle tested they will be if they get there…just hypothesizing

  59. Reed: +1 Well said. That’s why I save the games. I don’t want to just see tell my grandchildren, I want them to see it. I already wish I had more complete games from the 3-peat days. Great for memories sake.

  60. Enjoy the win folks. What a thrilling game and it was so satisfying to see Pau and Ariza come through.

    (Actually Ariza’s steal was nice, but looked like a miscommunication between Melo and the inbounder. Game 1 steal is still his best.)(Isn’t it great that we can argue about which of Ariza’s game-sealing steals was better?)

    As for Fisher, maybe it’s true that Shannon could play better, but it’s not cut and dried. I love the guy, but Shannon still is limited in the offense and doesn’t have much crunch time experience. So maybe Fish is playing poorly, but Shannon could as easily play as poorly on the road in a big game. SB certainly didn’t look vastly superior in Houston.

    The thing that stinks for coaches is that everyone can see their mistakes and say the other choice was the obvious one, because we’ll never know. In fact, a lot of the time, you don’t have a good choice and you have to make the one that hurts least.

  61. ps is anyone else sick to their stomach about the replay of lebron’s 3 pter every 10 seconds on sportscenter, yes it was a great shot, but there have been many game winners in these playoffs, the hyperbole over lebron is killing me slowly, yes is/will be one of the greatest ever, is he worth comparing to kobe, it suffices to say they are by far the two best players in the league right now

  62. j. d. hastings May 23, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    the post about betting on kobe after a lebron game winner was actually reprinting some of bill simmons’s tweets.

    The magic definitely are showing signs of maturing as they go along. Scary to say it reminds me of Boston last year. But maybe the Lakers are going through something similar?

    Funny how many of the issues we’ve bemoaned this post-season- giving up big leads when we get them, falling behind big early- have infected every other team.Is this a sign of parity, lack of big game experience, or just that these types of situations, while frustrating, are actually fairly common?

  63. Tonight Kobe played with the impossible serpentine perfection of one of Tarantino’s romanticized assassins from the Kill Bill movies. I always believe that he will do the impossible, a la Beatrix Kiddo defeating the Crazy 88 single-handed, but once he starts dropping those shots I feel as wondrous as if witnessing it for the first time.

  64. PeanutButterSpread May 23, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Since the dawn of time
    man has asked the question:

    “What makes Kobe Bryant
    AKA the Black Mamba
    So unstoppable?”

    “What makes his Dunk so unstoppable?”

    “What makes his 3-Pointer so unstoppable?”

    “What makes his overall unstoppableness unstoppable?”

    “Is it possible to stop something that is unstoppableness?”

    “Has he answered the question? Yet another question?
    We may never know.

    Yet never knowing the unknowable is unstoppable.”

    This was presented by Kobe Bryant AKA the Black Mamba for Lebron.

    Good luck.

    Because kobe deserves this post after his great game tonight. Get lots of rest Kobe and mamba your bad self on!

  65. j. d. hastings May 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Courtesy of espn:

    With 41 points in Game 3 vs. the Nuggets, Kobe Bryant eclipsed his own Lakers’ record for points scored in the first three games of a conference final.
    Player Points Opponent
    ’09 Kobe Bryant 113 Nuggets
    ’01 Kobe Bryant 109 Spurs
    ’87 James Worthy 96 Sonics
    ’77 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 91 Blazers

  66. Kobe was awesome tonight and I will remember his performance in this win for the Lakers for a long time. Everytime he touched the ball or was directing traffic, heck on the floor, I had a warm feeling inside of me of happyness and content.

  67. What a win. A couple of notes:

    *Gasol still only had 12 shots, but I loved his aggressiveness in the closing minutes.

    *I mentioned when Karl was getting grilled for having Carter inbound in game 1 that I wasn’t sure who else could actually do it because Denver doesn’t have good passers who have size (like we have Luke and LO). At least not guys that they don’t want to actually catch the ball (Melo, Billups, Smith, Kleiza). Tonight, Karl went with a guy with size (Kenyon) and he threw a bad pass when he misread Melo’s cut coming off the screen. Considering that all these games are close, it will be interesting to me what Karl does if this situation comes up again and he needs a good inbound to set up a final play.

    *Tonight, WOW was not that good – at least on offense. He passed up shots and then either hesitated or rushed when he did shoot. I’m not saying he shouldn’t get burn, but he’s by no means a savior (which is part of the problem when trying to figure out who should play PG for us).

    *We must continue to get Nene in foul trouble. When Denver goes to Birdman, Gasol looks get so much easier. I know Pau hit those big shots when Nene was in the game, but when Birdman was guarding him he was so much more aggressive and found ways to get into the paint and get easier looks. And even though some of those shots didn’t fall, I like him shooting 5 footers and making Birdman work in one on one situations rather than letting him roam on the weakside.

    *Kobe. Bean. Bryant. Wow.

  68. j. d. hastings May 23, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    I’m only slightly ashamed to admit singing this song to myself tonight as a result of the game:

  69. Darius – I’d add to that, it’s equally as important to get Carmelo in foul trouble. My respect for his ball denial on Kobe is through the roof, but he’s at his best when he’s allowed to play physical and free. Getting him in foul trouble really allowed Kobe to take over tonight, unlike in Game 2.

    Zen face palm:

  70. For those who prefer basketball to hype, I wonder why those talking heads couldn’t seem to ask Lebron that embarrasing question:

    “Lebron, considering all of your all world excellence on a juggernaut team, do you ever wonder why it took your near miraculous personal effort to avoid losing the opening two playoff games on your home court?”

    It took Wilt almost an entire career before he figured that one out. Kobe’s doing a lot better.

    This game was much more about defense than the box score might indicate. The Lakers played much better team defense than the box score numbers might indicate–thow the number of fouls might be a clue. The Nuggs sometimes made great steals, and sometimes benefitted as Thuggs. But crime has it’s penalties, and as Kobe cornered the free throw market, the penalties added up. Meanwhile, the box scores suggests Phil’s defensive trickery that shot Melo down in the second half, and JR Smith and Kenyon Martin for much of the game.

    Of course, you could believe in the scoring greatness of Birdman and Nene if you wish.

    Ragging on Derek Fisher in isolation can totally miss his contributions–did you notice Chauncy’s shooting percentage? Since he and Derek had the same percentage, should the Nuggs bench Billups? Did you see the play where Derek broke up a three on one when he was the “one”?

    The Lakers held their own against Thuggery all night and finally saw two of the Nuggets foul out in the 4th quarter while others backed off to stay in the game. Do you think that might have had something to do with the Lakers final spurt?

    The Lakers won because they deserved to win–and it was no accident.

  71. 471: well said man.

  72. 11:51 p.m. and the lakers are still the winners of game three! rejoice! rejoice!

    I’m now 0-3 for this series for my half-time predictions of which team is going to win. Believe it or not, I’m usually insanely accurate.

    Really, I am…

    I’m going to need a loooooong vacation after this season ends…. but have no objection to delaying it until late june.

  73. j. d. hastings May 23, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    I bleed purple and gold but if you don’t get chills watching this, you don’t love sports.

    Reminds me of watching game 4 againsty Sacto in 2002 with my friend who is from Carmel (aka warriors fan and Lakers hater). The moment of Horry’s game winner was the greatest shot of raw endorphins I’ve ever received and I just remember leaping into the air and socking my friend 5 times in the shoulder before coming down. Even Fisher’s .4 didn’t do that (because of 20+ minutes of ads to set up the last 3 seconds of game time).

    Anyways, Monday is a huge game. Perfect time to swoop in and take advantage of a shell shocked team… but I don’t know if we can expect that from this team. Still, as I said above, our recurring sins suddenly aren’t limited to us and the finals look as wide open as they have in a while…

  74. j. d. hastings May 23, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Oops, this is the link I meant to post:

  75. drrayeye,
    I hear you, but I still think this win goes with a mediocre coaching performance. Pau absolutely needed some rest midway in the 4th – perhaps after Kobe returned. Shannon was having decent luck defending – and his shooting was better than Fish’s – and deserved some burn later.

    I am of the opinion we just can’t continue to burn out Pau and Kobe every game without noticeably increasing chance of injury to one of these two. If that happens to Pau I just wonder what Phil will do the Bynum? If Kobe – well goodby anyway.

    I commented before this game I though Phil had to make some decisions. Well he did – he decided to do nothing different. Now he is a hero because we won? I think we are hanging farther out and if it doesn’t bite us in this series, it is likely to in the next.

  76. When JR Smith made that 3 and started taunting at Sasha, it clearly shows what this Thuggets are all about. They are all individuals who are driven by personal motivation, not a common goal. JR Smith takes it personal when Sasha nails a 3 at him, so he gets over-excited when he makes one on Sasha. Sasha is like “huh? calm down it was just a 3.” yes this nuggets play for moments, and games at most, but these lakers are mature enough to not to get into that kind of mind games and have their eyes set a little further, where nuggets not only can get, probably dont even see it; the NBA Championship trophy, and the lakers dont see anything else in-between, they dont see nuggets, let alone JR Smith or Carmelo, on their way to getting to where they have an eye on.

  77. Btw, have you seen the article Hollinger put up? According to him, the Lakers won because the best player in (this) game, Carmelo, went cold.

    I’m really getting sick of espn. The lakers never win; the opponent loses. Nevermind he doesn’t even acknowledge Kobe’s superhero effort even when he’s totally exhausted.

    I notice this crap again and again. Someoen needs to call them on it.

    Also, while I’m at it, I want to start a movement to get Bill Simmon OUT of LA.

  78. did you guys watched the post-game kobe interview?? they are asking about the importance of losing game two, and this guy is about to laugh, and kinda with that smile that he has, that “oh oh” smile on his face answers “game is a game, road or home, who gives a damn.” and is barely holding his laugh back. probably thinking,, damn guys, why are u making such a big deal out of this, its just a game…..just 1 game.

  79. I don’t think I had ever seen Kobe more freely show us his cold-blooded mentality than when asked after the game how it feels to make the big shot on the road. Anybody who can get the clip, I saw it on ESPN, and you could see a sense in his eye that you rarely catch off court.

    He can taste the finals, I think…Cause he looks like he’s figured out the Nugs

  80. 476. Totally agree with you. A lot of people thought that game 2 was lost because playing time was not given to players who were playing better. But this game again, Phil pretty much did the same as last game with the rotations. It was fortunate we won this game, primarily because of an exceptional performance by Kobe.

    It’s time Phil started making some decisions. This win was fortunate and if Phil decides to stay with the same rotations, there is still a good chance that we lose the series.

    But we all know Phil is an arrogant guy. So, he would not accept defeat and make changes after a loss. But there is some chance he makes some changes after this win.

    Irrespective of their performances in this game, we need to see more Bynum, Farmar and Brown. Bynum needs to play 30+ minutes…

  81. If i am Karl, i would put Martin on Kobe during crunch time, go three big, attack the pain, and get offensive. I guess he doesn’t noticed Lakers weakness on defensive rebound, but i might be wrong.

  82. i don’t know if anyone’s mentioned this, but maybe the heavy minutes that fish got while farmar was out are finally starting to affect his shot. i mean, he even missed 2 free throws today. It just seems like his shot’s off and he’s not playing even marginal defense like he was earlier in the season. perhaps fish and not gasol or kobe was the one we should’ve been worried about playing too much.

  83. Opposite of last series.

    Whoever leads in the 1st loses.

    We were talking about frontrunning teams earlier, I think 😉

  84. Basketball fan May 24, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Well,as my nickname suggests i’m a big basketball fan but i’m not enjoying the game as much as i did before. Reason? NBA officiating. Being a follower of several more team sports, i’m sure that nba referees are the worst. In the first two games of this series, they allowed Denver to play as hard as they could while the Lakers were not given this permission. And coming to the third game, we saw a free throw fest from the Lakers. On the other hand, almost everyone around me(who is interested in basketball) agrees that Cleveland were favored by the referees in the first two games and i expect that tonight Orlando will get some help from them to get the lead.

    Last words for the referees: Basketball is a nice game, for me the most amazing sports and don’t try to take the joy of watching games. Try to be as objective as possible and for god’s sake,this is playoff basketball, allow some physicality as opposed to calling fouls frequently.

  85. PeanutButterSpread May 24, 2009 at 2:41 am


    trust me, you have to take a lot of articles written by the media with a huge chunk of salt. And I mean a huge shaker full of salt. Maybe even bring an ice pick to chip off a chunk of salt from a salt block.

    the way I see it, in the end, it’s all a bunch of bs generated to gain readership whether from incensed fans or from agreeing fans.

    I mean, you want to see lazy journalism, go check out Adrian W. at Yahoo Sports. He seems to have imagined this whole Kobe/Lebron “rivalry” with the two players trying to up one and another (with Kobe somehow being a step behind) …

    It’s just scratch-your-head lazy journalism because WTF. Kobe could care less about LBJ at this point, he’s just trying to get the Lakers past the Nuggets and he NEEDED to score all 41 points to get the Lakers by. He wasn’t scoring 41 in retaliation to LBJ.

    But whatever, I don’t weigh much of Simmons or Hollinger’s opinions seriously or much of the media’s.

    I usually hold the opinions of blog writers like AK and BK of the LA Times or Kurt and multiple bloggers here on FB&G much much higher.

  86. 1. It begins and ends with Kobe of course. Simply an epic performance.

    2. How Pau can play the entire second half, in Denver no less, and still hit those huge jumpers over Nene I don’t know. But he was really good tonight.

    3. How on earth can that be called anything but a clearpath foul on Ariza? Have I missed something concerning this rule? I thought that was a textbook example?

  87. PeanutButterSpread May 24, 2009 at 5:51 am

    Andreas G. –

    what clearpath foul on Ariza are you talking about?

  88. I notice that there isn’t a lot of crisis discussion about Phil after the win. Can we accept that he is thoroughly outcoaching George Karl in these playoffs?

    I agree there have been some questionable coaching decisions, but other than Kobe we have questionable players. Whenever I think about this series I often see the Nuggets winning because they have two no-questions go-to guys in Carmelo and Billups. Yeah, neither played their best tonight but they are tested and you basically know what you’ll get.

    Neither Bynum nor Brown (to name two of the guys who should get more PT according to the masters of panic on the boards) have shown they can be the consistent second option. Both of them have that potential – I like Brown over Farmar as most likely future PG – but the WCF is not the time where a coach is supposed to “give guys minutes” to “improve their confidence”. Yes, Fisher is losing it and is often awful, but he knows what is going on in the game and more importantly Kobe trusts him. I’ll live and die by that in these playoffs and hope the kids come along next season.

  89. Just watched the game this morning. I was holding my breath at the end every time the Lakers went to the line. Huge FTs by Ariza and Kobe (though he missed one). Huge 3s by Ariza in the 4th when no one could hit a shot. Huge jumpers by Pau over Nene.

    That was the most visibly tired I have seen Kobe. He was bent over holding his knees after the game in the interview.

    gs. Hollinger crediting the Lakers win to Melo going cold is kind of silly. Why not credit the Lakers D for him going cold. I though Luke did a really god job on him when Ariza left after he fell. ALso Pay and Bynum did a good job preventing easy shots at the basket in the 3rd in 4th (for the most part). You could just as easily credit how close the game was to 14 missed FTs by the Lakers. If the Lakers made half of those the game is not as close.

  90. What a great game. The Lakers pulled out some good defense tonight and Kobe was good Kobe again.

    Ariza was huge again, good article here about it:

  91. PBS: I mean when Melo fouled him after the steal?

  92. last minute when Ariza stole (well, more like grabbed) the inbound and had a clear path to the basket. he got grabbed from behind.

    and when I forgot who shoved kobe from behind WITH BOTH HANDS. that should’ve been flagrant. if kobe had contorted his body and acted like he got shotgunned in the back he would’ve gotten the call, but that’s not his style.

    then there was the goal tend. But hey, the refs let the Lakers get away with some defensive fouls in the paint that they hadn’t earlier so I guess it’s all even.


    I loved Pau getting aggressive and asking for the ball in the 4Q. How good would the Lakers be if they had more than 3 guys playing? Maybe it’s always like this in playoffs, and to be fair, Luke had some effective minutes and LO did force that bad inbound, but it just seems like Denver is getting more from more of their players.

    Sasha is just playing horrible right now. I can’t see what Phil is seeing out there. I love Fish for all he’s done but if Phil is leaving Fish in for his “leadership”, I think it’s hard to be a leader when you’re killing your team. Anyway, there’s some kind of middle ground between just benching Fish outright and giving Brown only 8 minutes. At this point, I’m almost hoping Fish gets into foul trouble to force Phil’s hand.

  93. Rip by Ariza
    Kobe cuts out George Karl’s heart
    Bloody, eats it raw

  94. I think it is only a clear path foul when the foul occurs in the backcourt. When Melo fouled Ariza, they were on the Lakers side of the court.

  95. Melo sad for loss
    Lakers in the driver’s seat
    NBA relieved

  96. snoopy, when you said this-

    chris – I’m sorry man, but your post made me laugh out loud, and I don’t mean that in a harsh way. Poor Kobe probably couldn’t think of anything nice to say about Fish’s play.

    I had to sign off, because I’ve learned over the years when you’re angry, if you can sleep on it, and reply in the morning, it’s probably wise.
    well, I woke up, still kind of ticked off at you.

    did you even see the Kobe interview?
    I don’t think so, because you probably wouldn’t have made such a comment.
    this morning in the LA Times, Plaschke said it better than I could-,0,3810393.column

    I suggest you read this article, in fact all of you out there bashing Mr. Fisher should read it.
    and, remember the Scola hit, another move that in my humble opinion, turned that series around for us.
    he brings value in more than just hitting 3 pointers.
    as for the TV watchers comment, maybe I’m wrong, but can you tell me how many games you’ve played in anything close to a professional arena?

  97. Sort of against FB&G etiquette, but I have to say: Plaschke’s writing is just so bad. I mean, wow.

    “He had swiveled on defense, bricked on offense, the aging point guard scuffling through a long night in this longest of springs.”

    And that’s just the first sentence. FireJoeMorgan is missed for a great many things, but none more so than taking down prose like Plaschke’s.

  98. chris h,

    as has been discussed above, Fisher doesn’t need to be murdering the team on the court to pull everyone together and show leadership…Plaschke’s sensationalist narrative notwithstanding, everyone can see that Fisher doesn’t belong on the court for big minutes, much less the majority of minutes and starting each half…unless and until Phil wakes up to this stark reality, there will be no ring this year…

  99. all right, keep on bashing Fish, just be sure to show up (here at FB&G), on the nights he does deliver down the stretch, you at least owe him that.
    and if he doesn’t … well, then I guess you were all right, and should be running the franchise.
    for me, I have more faith that Fish will shoot himself out of a slump than I do in Sasha shooting himself out of it.
    I admit, I have been very much against seeing Sasha get any PT lately, but I’m less concerned about Fish, as I’ve already said, he brings more than just hitting shots.
    he did deliver on D several times last night. (see Drrayeye above)