Kobe & Pau: “Can We Get A Little Help Here?”

Kurt —  May 26, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets Game 1 NBA Western Conference finals in Los Angeles
In last season’s NBA Finals, Phil Jackson then (and still today) took some heat for running Chris Mihm out on the floor after he hadn’t played all season due to injury. It made no sense to people to throw a little-used player cold into the biggest games the team had played in years.

But there was a logic to it. By the time Mihm stepped on the court, it was pretty clear to everyone that the Lakers were losing the series and the only way to fix that was to get more of a presence in the paint. The only options Phil had left were real longshots — so, in goes Mihm. He likely wasn’t the answer, but Phil was out of bullets, so he threw the gun.

I think that is same reason is why we’re seeing screwy rotations rather than anything set in this series and in these playoffs from Phil — he’d love to have a set rotation of people stepping up night after night. People he can trust. But outside Kobe and Gasol, nobody is stepping up consistently. In game four, Lakers not named Kobe/Gasol or Bynum shot 26.5% (those three shot 54.5%). That will not get it done.

Bynum had a good game in game four, but some of his other efforts have been lackluster. Fisher is struggling on both ends, but at least he is battling. Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown have looked better in stretches, but they have far from been the answer or been consistent. For the playoffs, Walton’s PER is 9.65, Fisher’s is 6.74, and Sasha’s is 3.82.

Then there is Lamar Odom. Who has just been MIA for most of this series unless he is guarding an inbound pass. He may be still be banged up, but we simply need more out of him. The Odom with the inside out game, who can grab the board and run the break has disappeared.

This is all very frustrating because during the season guys did step up. Not all at once, but guys did. Odom had dominating stretches, Sasha was knocking down key shots (as was Fisher), and then there were some great games early on from Farmar. The point is somebody stepped up.

Denver’s bench, on the other hand, is stepping up. LK basically won them game two, and yesterday when Melo was sick they got great play from K-Mart, Nene, JR, just about everybody.

There are no easy answers for the Lakers, no simple Xs and Os adjustment that changes the series. Maybe Phil just goes back to his set regular season rotation and stops searching. But the fact is, it is a coach’s job to put players in a position to succeed — then the players have to make plays. What the rotation is doesn’t matter if guys are not stepping up.

I don’t think the game four loss to Denver was like the game four lost to Houston — I think the Lakers tried. But guys that were hitting shots and making defensive plays in the regular season are not now, and as an optimistic by nature person I want to find another reason other than that these guys shrink in the brightest of lights. After last season in the Finals I thought this was just a maturity thing, that the experience would toughen them up. And it did Gasol, who is playing much better. Ariza is giving us all we can really expect out of him. But the other guys….

The time for excuses is gone. Best of three for a trip to the NBA Finals. It doesn’t get much bigger than this. It is time to step up or the Lakers are going home.

Kurt

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282 responses to Kobe & Pau: “Can We Get A Little Help Here?”

  1. Not to say the players didn’t try, but it seems like they played content to split the games in Denver, rather than as if they needed to win.

  2. Kurt. Why are we not running more? I know last night had a lot to do with the offensive rebounds, but in general we are not getting out on the break nearly as often as in the regular season. This allows for easy transition buckets and or mismatches. Are we so affraid that this the type of game that the Nuggets like to play, so Phil is slowing down the pace. One thing I know is that it affects the bench guys like Farmar, Sasha, and Lamar who are all better in the open floor.

  3. Pau has asked to get the ball more.

    http://www.dailynews.com/lakers/ci_12448941

    This is the Pau we all need. For the rest of the teams sake.

    As great as Kobe is and has been, everything should be easier for ALL Lakers if Pau decides to have his way down low. Easier for Kobe, LO, Bynum, Trevor, etc.

    Sasha and Fish? I don’t know. What cure is there for just missing open shots?

    Which leads me to another problem. For some reason, I felt the game was going to end up in an L when the score was 53-56 Denver, and Fish rushes a stupid 3 pt. shot early in shot clock with no teammates around to rebound. Clang. We never got closer.

  4. Kurt, is it just me that thinks the officiating has been horrible in this series? Even my wife called it out last nite saying that they call a foul on every touch play. Meanwhile kobe cant even get an obvious tripping foul called.

    To add to your point about getting kobe and pau some help…even kobe said after game 3 that he needs some support. Sasha and Derek’s slump could not have come at a worse time. Their inability to hit the open 3′s just allows denver to clog the middle all nite, making it difficult for entry passes to pau and drew.

  5. I believe we tried to win this game, but simply didn’t have as much energy. The team looked spent, but it was still a 7 point game midway through the 4th quarter. If we’d made a few free throws it might have helped. Two things have to change for a game 5 win – rebound better on both ends and not allow the dribble penetration. Both of these factors contributed mightily to our loss. It would be great if the other players on the team could collectively get the ball in the hole and actually give Kobe and Pau a brief respite from all of the heavy lifting. Also, would it be so bad to give Brown his first start just to mix things up a bit? Maybe now is the time for Phil to finally unveil the three-headed front court of Bynum, Pau and Odom together…
    Get rested, practice your shooting (free throws, too!) and remember what got you here. Le’ts win game 5!!

  6. a majority of the success we’ve had in this series has been a steady diet of the inside game. With Bynum showing flashes, we need to take advantage of our height advantage and get them in foul trouble by feeding Pau and Bynum. Denver really only has Andersen as a big man off the bench, we really need to exploit this.

    Finally, while I’m a big fan of his, the last thing we need is LO shooting 3 pointers as opposed to taking the ball to the rim and/or looking to make a strong entry pass.

  7. j.d. Hastings May 26, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Isn’t this generally the case in the Playoffs, though? The performance of role players becomes amplified. If one extra guy turns it on, it can propel you to the finals (think Boobie Gibson a few years ago), but overall the superstars dominate matters a lot more.

    The Cavs are going through the same thing, and its even more dramatic. Whereas the slippage started in the regular season for the lakers, the Non-Lebron on the Cavs just disappeared this round. Mo Williams and Big Z suddenly lost what they had brought to make that team so dominant.

    Even Denver has seen inconsistency from all role players not names Linas.

    In the championship years, the Laker bench was always derided, yet none of those guys was afraid to do whatever it took to grit out a win. The title will be won this year by the team whose players can best figure that out. (I think I just restated Kurt’s original point).

    Also, the title could be determined based on whether the league lets Dahntay Jones injure Kobe in a lasting manner.

  8. Watching the game last night, I never felt that the Lakers were in synch. Missed assignments on rotation defense cost us as we gave up a ton of easy cuts and dives to the basket. How much of the problems on rotation were communication vs fatigue is very hard to say.

    I understand that the way to get past the officiating is to simply blow your opponent out, but that is not really realistic this late in the playoffs. After his technical, Walton was rung up 3 times for what technically were fouls. But, honestly, if those fouls are being called for the Nuggets, why are the Lakers not getting them? They weren’t on drives to the basket, or aggressive cuts. They were on drifts across the lane, or pull-up jumpers. We have all seen Kobe get checked far more aggressively than that, and don’t even get me started on the way Gasol gets manhandled from time to time. Kenyon Martin essentially tried to break Gasol’s arm last night with that MMA submission worthy armbar.

    Speaking of the general thuggery from the Nuggets, has there been any word from the league about Nene’s elbow to Walton’s head, or about Jones’ tripping of Kobe?

  9. Great analysis as always. Phil is getting a lot of blame but there are no easy answers right now. I think when we really cut to the chase the Lakers are a limited team right now. They don’t have a reliable 3 point shooter, or third offensive option.
    Denver’s defensive strategy is simple they are gonna make life difficult for Gasol and Kobe and everyone else can get open shots if they want (Ariza is shooting 50 percent from 3 for a reason, folks) That strategy early in the year or last year would lead to 135-106 type wins for the Lakers as Denver would be hammered with a barrage of 3′s, but that team is gone, what we have now is a two-man show with 7 average to below average role players, all of them afraid to shoot. Now luckily we have 2 of the top 15 team players in the league so that might be enough to (barely) get us over the finish line and an NBA championship, but it won’t be easy. Kobe and Gasol have to expend maximum energy on both ends for the Lakers to win it.

  10. Employee#5,

    You’re right. ti has been terrible, but I think Lakers fans in general make it a point to not complain.

    We leave that to Celtics fans.

    My problem with officiating is the predictability. You just know how and when the refs are going to make certain calls for or against your team, but the know you’ll get them back. We didn’t last night.

    I usually never have problem with how the game is called, because through it all, that is what makes professional basketball what it is. The real pros have to deal with it and work around it as best they can. Phil believed the refs made it impossible to last night,so that is why he complained.

  11. A few comments:

    1) when Kobe is out of the game, I just don’t even know what the Lakers are trying to do offensively; specifically, you at least need a two-man game on offense to have a chance to put a run together, and Pau alone is not enough to get it done (whereas Kobe can take over and create open looks for other players). As such, the Lakers need a third wheel so that at almost every point of the game they have at least two players on the floor who can drive them offensively. As we know, when their offense is broken, their defense suffers (that’s just the DNA of this team, personality wise). My vote for #3 is Bynum (i.e., have at least 2/3 of Kobe, Pau, Bynum on floor most of game), as from what I can see, he can score with consistency if he is central to the offense. Unfortunately, listening to PJ last night, he doesn’t seem convinced, mostly because Bynum’s rebounding (esp. on offensive boards) and D have been sub-par. I see no other player on Lakers who can get offense going with consistency.

    2. It is almost gallows humor to watch the complete disintegration of Sasha Vujacik’s game. Absolutely painful to watch.

    3. As Employee#5 noted, the officiating has been beyond terrible, seemingly picking times/circumstances when hard blocks are allowed, and touch fouls aren’t. Billups can clearly throw his body (legs/arms flail) and that is always a foul, yet Kobe drives into the paint, gets hacked and that’s good D, no foul. Bynum gets a flagrant foul on what’s clearly all ball, yet for second time in series Dahntay Jones is showing clear dirty player antics, and refs miss it. In no sport do the refs so totally shape the ebb/flow of game so for all of the talk of league wanting this matchup or that, the refs seem to be playing their own game. Unintentional comedy moment last night, K-Mart intentionally wrapping his arm around Pau, and twisting away to bend Pau’s arm (with the K-Mart smirk). Pau pleading to refs to call this a foul. As K-Mart never lets go, they reluctantly do.

    4. Mark Jackson is hands-down the most annoying announcer in professional sports; practically no insight, the same boring platitudes over and over and a droning tone that is pure fingers to chalkboard.

    NBA Playoffs. Where Magic Happens. Ugh!

  12. Does this series remind anyone else of the LA-Sac-town series of 2002?

    Sacramento played with more momentum, frenzied home atmosphere, more effort, etc. than the Lakers. LA and Sac-town split their hone stands. Shaq (in this case Pao) and Kobe carry all the water (until the last 3 games, when some role players decide they’d like to earn their rings too).

    Recall that everyone in the starting line-up scored in double figures in Game 7 of the 2002 series. Who can forget Horry’s Gaem 6 heroics. Whether we’ll ever get this out of our current group of shell-shocked role players is another question. Not to mention that Kobe-Shaq (v.2002) were better positioned to beat a team 2-on-5 than Kobe-Pau 2009.

    Maybe this team needs to stop watching replays of their failures in Boston last year and watch games that remind Sasha, Fish, and Odom what they are capable of when their heads are right.

  13. “Bynum gets a flagrant foul on what’s clearly all ball.”

    I suppose Birdman’s head band ended up around his nose by magic. If Laker fans are going to complain about the refs, stick to the obvious ones (like the trip) or you’ll lose all credibility.

  14. When LO went down against Houston and they reported it as a back injury, I became concerned. LO wan’t playing spectacular ball, but you knew that he’d show up from time to time and deliver a great game for us when Kobe/Pau needed the help.

    Since that injury he just doesn’t seem to be moving as freely/fluidly – which is understandable, but horrid timing for us.

    As for everyone else shrinking, I’m at a loss to explain it, but it was increasingly a worry for me as the season progressed this year. I kept thinking that the reason the bench had regressed was the loss of Bynum and the subsequent promotion of Odom, robbing them of their own leader and that everything would return to normal once we got Odom back to the bench mob.

    That hasn’t been the case though. Just like last year in the playoffs, with each successive round the non-stars are disappearing. They’re missing shots, making bad decisions, and just seeming timid and unsure. I’m grateful that Pau has shown what we all hoped to see after last year’s Finals loss, but no one else has done so (as Kurt points out).

    I think the Lakers will win game 5, but I don’t say that they will with any sort of certainty. Kobe is looking gassed, and understandably so. It’s going to be a long week…

  15. Dahntay Jones needs to be suspended for Game 5. I know it is probably useful to have him on the floor for the Lakers, but that play was just dirty! There is no way a play like that should go by without some disciplinary action. If the league lets that go by then the Nuggets are going to keep doing the same. I thought it was pretty stupid that the play by Bynum when he stripped the ball off Chris Andersen’s hands was called a flagrant based upon the refs’ other calls this series. He made a clear play on the ball. Birdman was not in the air. There was no way he could have gotten hurt. There were at least 20 plays more dangerous than that in this series which were not called flagrant. Also, that play resulted in Phil taking Bynum out of the game when he was playing well. Bynum staying in the game would not only have helped the Lakers but also helped build his confidence.

    I fail to understand when you have a product as good as the NBA, why would you want to spoil the experience for the viewers by such incompetent officiating. Especially, when half the world believes that the games are fixed by the league. When the viewers can see which play was called incorrectly on their TV, there needs to be some way for the NBA to incorporate that information into the game. Also, it’s frustrating that the same play can be called a zillion different ways, and it changes not only from game to game but from quarter to quarter and from player to player. There needs to be a single standard interpretation of every play. Of course, there will be mistakes and many times plays wont be called correctly. But “it depends on the situation” should not be the correct answer to any question about officiating.

    I guess what I am saying is that some standards need to be set for the officiating. And these need to be communicated clearly to the fans, so that they know what is an “acceptable mistake”. For example, we know in the NFL that if a play is called a certain way on the field, it won’t be overturned unless there is sufficient evidence to prove the call was wrong. But we know that and we can live with it as long as the process is executed correctly. I know officiating in the NBA is harder than other sports, but as a fan I need to know that the league is trying to improve, what is by far the weakest link in their great product.

    Also, why I started this rant in the first place is because flagrant fouls are fouls which are reviewed on TV during the game and post-game. There is no reason that these plays are not called correctly consistently. The fact that the league is not able to do so just shows the lack of a properly defined process within the officiating team.

    Sorry about the rant Kurt. Please delete this post if you feel it takes the discussion in the wrong direction. My point was not to argue that the Lakers lost the game because of the officiating.

  16. each time kobe sat down in game 4, the nuggets’ lead ballooned, a very disturbing pattern throughout the playoffs. It’s too late to do anything, in a sense, the talent that got you here is the talent you deal with. But I would like to see greater intensity on defense. I don’t think that’s too hard to change – and it will help the offense. Also, too many rebounds and second chance shots. Some of that I put on bynum. And too many outside shots. At least run it through gasol and then kick it out. That goes back to farmar, fish, sasha. JR and the birdman had good games. melo did not. I think that will change. Denver can talk all they want, but this series is so far, not any different than what many expected. If it’s a close game, guess who will fold? So far, it has not been the lakers. I don’t see guys like K-mart, JR Smith, LK, and others changing their attitudes overnight. I hope Tex is feeling good enough to put in a call to PJ, and let’s hope that PJ listens.

  17. magster – I think Mark meant that “it was a play on the ball”, not that there was no physical contact whatsoever.

  18. I hope no one is surprised by Odom’s performances. Hopefully his next big ones will be this season, and not next year.

  19. The officiating was poor last night, but I do think that was a valid flagrant on Bynum.

  20. Remember when L.O. was the ‘leader’ of the ‘bench mob’, the best bench in the league? Remember when it seemed as if our starters just had to play even and our bench would run the opposing bench out of the building? When Farmar-Sasha-Ariza-LO-Pau looked like a first-round HCA playoff team in themselves?

    What more is there to say?

    I get that part of it is that Trevor is now a starter, but most of it is that our entire cadre of role players have disappeared at the same time. Also, I blame Phil for putting weird rotations out there that don’t optimize opportunities (anyone else hate seeing Sasha/Luke together?)

    Finally, can anyone please provide an Odom injury update? Is he hurt, or just the LO-giveth, LO-taketh away Lamar we remember from last year’s playoffs? Like a fool, I believed this time– fool me once, shame on you; fool me three times every damn season, esp. in May…

    I apologize for this, but I miss VladRad, not so much for what he brings (although we could use his perim. shooting right now), but for allowing Trevor to come off the bench and play with Jordan and LO, 3 players that actually seemed to have some chemistry.

  21. Upset but not surprised.This game was more of the same lack of consistency the P&G have consistenly shown. I do not profess to know the why’s. The potential causes are numerous: too young, too inclined to believe that a Laker’s championship is a birthright, too unfocused, too complacent, etc.

    But it wasn’t all bad:

    WHAT I LIKED-

    1)Effort was better but not up to the level that the Nuggets demonstrated
    2) Bynum had some good minutes
    3)Kobe & Pau were solid
    4)Over the top made basket celebrations by JR & Birdman. Keep strutting gentlemen. I trust PJ will string together a little video montage for the boys today to help set the stage for Game 5.

    WHAT I DIDN’T-

    1) Dahantay Jones continued reckless and cheap fouls
    2)Non existent rebounding and failure to box out. We were simply out-hustled
    3)Too many J’s.
    4)Too many 3′s
    5)No support for Kobe & Pau
    6)Very uneven officiating. (Again)
    7)Satisfaction with a split in Denver

    Obviously the opportunity to go up 3-1 was not enough of an inducement so I hope that the possibility of falling behind in a best of 3 at home is. Not a must win matematically but a must win in my view if we are going to win this series.

    THREE KEYS-

    1) Inside out game
    2) More minutes for Bynum (Note to Drew: Don’t stand around so much,,,you should have more energy than anyone on the court)
    3)LO to become a factor..X or otherwise.

    And we will need to be the first to loose balls and generally make the hustle plays that we did not in Game 4. The media has made much of Denver being a team of redemption…Laker’s next opportunity for some redemption of their own comes WEDNESDAY!

    Should be sweet. I believe we will see a different team.

    LAKERS in 6!

  22. If anything, the first four games of this series has shown that the Lakers’ so-called talent and matchup advantage against Denver has been erroneously overstated. In fact, Denver has been the better team for most of this series and if if weren’t for Kobe’s presence down the stretch in games one and three, this series would have been over already.

    It will be interesting to see if fatigue will become a factor as the seven game series against the Rockets seems to be taking its toll on the Lakers’ stamina. They look tired at the end of games while Denver still appears to have energy.

    I think Kobe still has one great game left in him but I don’t think the rest of the team
    has what it takes to win two out of three from Denver. I will stick by my prediction of Denver in 6.

  23. Mark Sigal,

    You have to change “interesting nuggets” in your blog description. At least until we beat Denver.

  24. 2. I wish we would run more, but some credit goes to Denver for not turning the ball over much (especially game 4) and playing pretty good transition defense. They are not making it easy to run, but the Lakers need to push more.

    4) The officiating has been maddeningly inconsistent. It’s not costing the Lakers games in the sense that everyone is getting the advantage of bad calls (or disadvantage, depending on perspective). But this is not some easy fix — there is not some pool of better qualified people sitting there ready to step in. If you have every sat close and watched a good D-1 college game then an NBA game, you’d know the skills and athleticism are vastly different. The NBA game is nearly impossible to ref perfectly, and at times even well. That isn’t to say that something shouldn’t be done — training, bring in younger guys maybe — but there is no quick fix.

    And teams have to play through that.

  25. For the second series in a row, all I can say is Ugh.

    Ugh.

    The Nuggets’ undersized front line absolutely killed us on the boards. They had three guys with more rebounds than Pau, who led us with 10.

    We are getting absolutely nothing out of anybody not named Kobe or Pau. Which, I guess, is an improvement over last year’s Finals when we got nothing from anybody not named Kobe. But the supposed “best bench” and “most talented roster 1-12″ talk has turned out to be garbage. We simply cannot count on production from the bench on the road. At home, they’re still fairly effective, but on the road they’re useless.

    PJ gave us 2 minutes of 3-man bigman lineup with Powell, LO, and, I believe Pau, to try and combat the glass woes. I believe now is the time to trot out the AB/Pau/LO frontcourt. Hell, we may need to put that team out there with Kobe and Ariza in the backcourt.

    I’m trying not to get too perturbed over this, because we kind of saw the same thing happen last series. But I think Denver is playing better than Houston was, and they were far more competitive against us in Staples over the first two games than Houston was. There’s no question that Denver is a far more capable and explosive offensive team.

    The refereeing was atrocious, and surely had an impact on the game. But the refs didn’t cause us to lose out on every loose ball, or get killed on the boards like we did.

  26. I mentioned Josh Powell yesterday. I think Phil should consider getting him a little burn in this series.

  27. wiseolgoat — that’s not what that guy said (nor what one of the ESPN play-by-play Laker fans said after the play). YOU, however, make a good point. I think it may remain a flagrant on review by the league because Bynum came in hard with both arms, one going towards the ball, and the other hitting Birdman’s head. The arm that hit the head was not a play on the ball IMO, but it was no dirtier a foul than K-mart’s foul on Ariza in Game 2.

    And with respect to Dahntay, he’s been tripping people all season long (including a game-saving trip no-call on a last second play), and he tripped Chris Paul in the first round that resulted in a collective New Orleans tantrum (and got away with it). There have been a few times where Jones was caught tripping, but merely called for a personal foul. Because Jones’ trips have been winked at by the league all season, it would be inconsistent for the league to punish Jones now without a warning first. The only difference between what Jones did last night, and the 7-8 other trips I’ve seen is that Jones tripped The Precious instead of some other guy.

  28. I was happy to see Bynum get into a flow with his offense and make some good shots. But he is still maddeningly inconsistent with his defense and his rebounding. His lack of hustle to box out or to take a few steps to get a rebound is frustrating.

    And count me as one who thinks his foul on Birdman was not a flagrant. He certainly wound up and came down hard but it was a play on the ball, not a shove in the back or a trip with the feet.

  29. @wiseolgoat, absolutely my bad. Not at all questioning that it was a foul, just that it was beyond ridiculous for the refs to call that a flagrant relative to the level of bodying allowed by the nuggets.

    @wondahbap, okay I plugged the obligatory GO LAKERS in; thanks for the call out. :-)

  30. One thing I find strange is that the Lakers are still being called the “deepest and most talented team in the league”. With the exception of Odom who on this bench would get meaningful minutes on a championship team? As for the starters you don’t know what your getting game to game from the 1 position the 3 or the 5. As far as I’m concerned if the Lakers win a championship with this team Kobe Byrant and Phil Jackson should get a statute built in front of Staples Center this summer. It will be the least talented NBA champ in Laker history.

  31. It pains me to say this…but this is where Vlad Radmon could have helped us. Spread the floor and keep the rotations honest due to his respectable 3 pt shooting.

    Now he also would have cost us points due to lack of defense, but you get the point.

    Anyone care to join me in chanting “Activate-Ammo!”

  32. About officiating…Bill Bridges told us the officials tendencies yesterday, in the previous thread. He was absolutely correct, but this one was on our team, not the officials.

    I heard a talking head comment this morning that was really on point. The Lakers weaknesses are real and consistent — poor PG play and not enough banging along the front line. If Denver makes adjustments they can attack the Lakers consistently. The Nuggets weaknesses seem to vary with each game. They are there, but the Lakers can’t plan so much for them. However, Denver does have much more energy and bounce on the front line.

    These are good points and there is only one thing Phil can really do, and he isn’t doing it – play Bynum more. He shot very well last night and clogs up the middle. Phil gave him a little more burn, but he still insists on inserting Odom for max minutes. Odom is not bringing it, either on offense or defense and he is not that aggressive on the boards this series.

  33. robinred,

    That is part of the problem. Too many players playing too many minutes.

    Also, I understand Phil wants Bynum to realize that he wants him to focus solely on defense and rebounding, but i wish he’d let the boy play. Give him a chance to feel integral in the game and he may see what he wants from him. With LO being sub-par in this series. We need Bynum to show more, and I think it’s easier for him to find his groove, than it is for LO right now. Especially since K-Mart gets to goal tend everything.

  34. We lost game 4 simply because we didn’t rebound. Just looking at the past games between the two teams, there’s no way Denver out-rebounds us by 18 again. That was an anomaly.

    A little home-cookin, more dedication to rebounding, as well as a fired-up Kobe (who will absolutely murder dahntay) , would do the trick. We win game 5 by double digits.

  35. Craig W,
    Bynum is not “bringing it” defensively or with rebounding, either. At this point Odom is still the better option.

  36. The way the game was called last night did make it hard to play for any of the role guys as they never found a rhythm. But when it is all said and done, you are right in saying that someone else needs to step.

    http://therookiecontract.com/

  37. exhelodrvr,
    Not true last night. Look at the points/percentage. Bynum also deters players more.

    With Lamar you get inconsistent passing, poor decision making in a crowd, and the same kind of release on all his shots around the basket – making it easy on Denver’s front line blockers.

  38. exelodrvr- I have to disagree. Bynum brings more to the team than LO. LO is triggering the other teams break with long jumpers when we have nobody in position to rebound. Also, he is getting scored on at will and giving up far too many offensive rebounds. What is is that LO has done this series that makes you think he should play over Drew?

  39. exhelodrvr- Usually agree with your takes but cannot do so with the LO is a better option than AB argument. While I still wnat to see more hustle from Bynum i.e. running the floor on transition, quicker to react on defense, etc. He was clearly more effective than Lamar. I think LO’s back is limiting his ability to drive and rebound.

  40. Still believe that we should utilize Mbenga and Powell for 2-3 minutes a half even, just so that we can give Pau a little rest. Bynum can play with Powell for 2 minutes, maybe with Pau out Bynum will man-up (to pre-injury level) for the next two games.

    Too many 3′s that were not dropping. Everytime that we got within 3-4 points we launched the 3, trying to get it back all at once. Instead of moving the ball around and people around for a higher percentage shot. It really didn’t matter though, because we missed shots around the rim and could not make freethrows.

    Maybe the Lakers should take timeoff until Wednesday, just do some film work and FREETHROW drills!!!

  41. 21 Kurt, I agree with you that there isn’t a better pool of officials. Let’s face it, officiating is very tough with the speed and nuances of the NBA game. For the most part, they work very hard at their craft and do a decent job.
    But just because there’s no one better for the job doesn’t mean nothing can be done to make it better. I am strongly in favor of a more thorough review system. There have been several arguments against it:
    1) It interrupts the flow of the game. Challenges and replay would not do so any more than the incessant fouling and timeouts we have to live through. Plus, why not have mandatory TV timeouts when there’s a challenge?
    Furthermore, I’d argue bad calls are detrimental to the momentum of the team. If you want to talk about flow, how unfair to have a missed trip, flagrant, or technical initiate a downward spiral that a team cannot recover from?
    2) Calls are not black and white as the current whether foot on the line review. BS, that trip by Dahntay Jones was anything but a no call. That block by Dwight Howard was not a foul. Obviously, there will be grey area calls, and we could take the ‘indisputable visual evidence’ route, but challenges could definitely reduce the number of blatant missed calls.
    3) Coaches would use up all their challenges anyway. Well, if they did, that’s their fault. It would bring another dimension of interest into the game.

    In the end, we’d be much less frustrated at a few more minutes of review than egregious calls that swing the games.

  42. Don W
    You forgot the mention the most important drawback to the current system: The large number of fans who sees the complete lack of interest in changing it as proof that the league truly is rigged and that Stern wants it that way… because what other reason could he have to ignore what everyone else so firmly believes is a problem?

  43. One change I’d like to see is for the Lakers to really punish the Nuggets when Anthony Carter is in the game. I think when that happens they should go to a big line-up with Kobe at the 2 and let Kobe defend AC so that he’s free to roam on D and create havoc

  44. @33,

    Well, I, like many , have been agitating for Bynum to get more minutes for about three weeks, but I don’t see it happening unless he

    a) explodes on the court
    b) avoids fouls

    Personally, I would let Bynum foul out, but I don’t see Phil doing that.

    So, I would consider giving Powell a short but meaningful stint and playing Odom less. I think Powell would at least box out better.

    On another level, I agree, though. I don’t think Fisher, Farmar, Vujacic, Walton and Brown all need to play. I think two of those guys could use a DNP-CD. That said, as dreadful as Sasha has been, I can see why Phil keeps running him out there–they need to someone to spread the floor, at least in theory, and Sasha’s pathetic performance is why people are missing VladRad.

  45. I was trying to figure out something to say here after the game last night, but Snoopy kept saying what I wanted to, but more succinctly. (Thanks Snoopy!)

    I think Kurt in his post today has our basic problem described well. All of us can point to specific things (Vujacic not hittings shots, Bynum’s inconsistent performance, etc), but ultimately it comes down to the fact that we’re trying to beat six players with two (Kobe/Pau). You can ride the back of a player or two for short stretches of games, but not over the longer haul. Especially against good teams like Denver. Cleveland is figuring this out right now, as well.

    Somewhere, we need to get more than Kobe/Pau contributing (it doesn’t have to be anyone specific….Odom, Bynum, Trevor, whomever). It’s only because Kobe is so amazingly good that we’re still in this series, but one man can’t win multiple series by himself.

  46. Since his fall, LO has not had the same explosion to the basket. K-Mart simply dares him to shoot and waits for him to drive and throw up a soft layup. But this is eerily reminiscent of LO prior to being challenged by KG when they went face-to-face.

    Lamar may be guilty of trying to avoid a confrontation with K-Mart. But do you blame him? Hell, he puts the Ugh in Thug. But in order for the Lakers to be successful, we need an aggressive and reckless Odom, not the unsure, jump shooting version.

    KG lit a fire under LO and he played magnificently after the confrontation. We need him to get riled up to regain his fire and passion. Maybe we can get Sasha to trip K-Mart into LO…

  47. Personally, I’m a fan of shortening the rotation. I’m also a proponent of going back to the regular season rotation of LO coming in at the 6 minute mark and Luke/Farmar coming in slightly after that. Then Phil can play Sasha at the start of the 2nd quarter for a few minutes to give Kobe his blow while also bringing Bynum back in for Pau. And then if LO is not playing well, when Kobe comes back in, bring Gasol back in too. Basically play 8 guys. Sorry WOW and sorry Powell.

    I know that it might sound crazy that I don’t want WOW to play (I’m not against him really, but he’s been just as ineffective as anyone else), but at this point, players should sit. If this was 2K9 and I could turn fatigue off, I wouldn’t play anyone off the bench, but since that’s not the case, I think we should play 8 guys and these are the guys that have been with us the longest and *should* know the offense the best. To me, getting better execution and players (hopefully) getting comfortable with pre-set, consistent roles are the only way to scrape some effectiveness out of them. If you disagree about WOW/Sasha, that’s fine, then play WOW instead. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve both been bad, so whatever. Sasha can’t stay in front of Smith, but WOW has struggled with Billups too. So only play one of them. But I’m serious, 8 guys.

    One last thing – I’ve been saying that Gasol should get more touches/shots and I’m going to re-emphasize that now. I think Kobe/Gasol should get 45 shots between them. If Ariza and Bynum are playing well, let them get another 15 between them. Everyone else, run the sets to get those guys open and in position to score. If Fish, Farmar, Luke, Sasha and whoever else actually are really open and want to shoot, they better be wide open high percentage shots, and if they’re not – move the ball.

    Now is the time for better execution and players doing what is best for the team. Defend to best of your ability, rebound the same way, and get the ball to the effective players. If you’re not doing that, you’re not helping the team. I’m tired of all the bad play just like everyone else – I understand that we need the bench to play and for them to play well, but everyone of our bench guys does have specific strengths that don’t involve shooting (Luke and LO can bring the ball up and make good entry passes, Fish can do the same, Sasha can pressure the ball and/or get under guys’ skin – do those things to help us if your shots don’t fall). It’s time to step up and play well, and if you can’t then try to help the team where we need it.

  48. We are one 12ppg/8rpg player away from possibly having a sweep of this series. CoughL.O.cough

    I mean if L.O. was Utah L.O. this one would probably be in the bag. It is frustrating because our 2 all-stars are doing all they can. Pau had about 0 help on the boards last night, and despite his effort can’t win that battle alone.

  49. Bynum’s flagrant is rescinded. So that settles that.

    Regarding the officiating. It is true that the better teams overcome bad officiating. But unfortunately, bad officiating can determine the outcome. The 1972 Olympics basketball finals come to mind. Let alone the 1988 boxing semis with Roy Jones jr.

    If the officiating were better, would the Lakers have won? possibly not, even probably not, given their general lack of energy and focus but it would have been interesting to see.

    Even if you ignore the plethora of calls made by Mauer, and focus exclusvely on three plays:

    1. Non-flagrant foul by Jones
    2. The non-flagrant elbow by Nene
    3. The rescinded flagrant by Bynum

    Called a different way, these three plays are a potential 6 – 8 point swing. Suddenly it is a 3 – 5 point game starting the 4th. When the Lakers begin the 4th with 4 quick points it is now virtually a tied game.

    The Nuggets might have tightened, the shots aren’t flowing quite as easily. The Lakers’ defense does not trap and foul with such desperation. It is now 6 minutes to go and Kobe raises his game as usual….

    It would have been interesting to see.

  50. There were a couple of plays in the 2nd half that stuck out last night that could have made things closer at the end, and given Kobe and Pau a chance to win it.

    1. As someone mentioned, Fishers quick 3 after cutting the lead to 3. I would have no problem with this other then the fact that Fish hasn’t been hitting anything.

    2. Lakers cut the lead to 4, and after a good defensive possesion Melo gets away with a blatent travel, taking a big extra step after being trapped on the baseline.

    In each sequence the Nuggets go on to score at the other end and expand the lead. I know rebounding and free throws were what realy killed us lasy night, but I just thought those plays atuck out.

  51. The Lakers’ personality is determined by the players they have and their coach. They work in tandem. The Lakers have Kobe, who is in a class by himself; then they have 5 players who are really tough nosed people (Walton, Mbenga, Powell, Bynum, and Fisher); with the remaining players being finesse players with skill. Of the tough players, two don’t play, two probably don’t play enough, and one is seeing his minutes go down quickly.

    We don’t have a lot of options to combat the energetic Nuggets, but the obvious one – leaving Bynum on the court more – seems to be one the coach doesn’t want to use.

    Bynum isn’t a savior, but we need him to…
    1) Gain confidence by playing more
    2) Plug up the middle (even if he fouls out)
    3) Provide some incentive for Pau, Trevor, and Lamar.

  52. One thing you can say about the officiating although it’s been absolutely dreadful, probably the most inconsitent I’ve ever seen a series refereed, it hasn’t really effected the outcome of any of the games.

  53. The most frustrating thing about our bench’s inconsistency is the knowledge of how explosive and talented they could be and have been. I am amazed we are in the Conference Finals with the way we have played compared to the way we have played this season when we are at our best. I hope and have faith that the players who are currently struggling will regain the form and confidence they had when the Lakers were the class of the league.

  54. Injury or not, LO is playing his way out of L,A,.

  55. I certainly don’t mind the Lakers losing last night’s game. No combination of referees and calls could possibly be responsible for such an egregious rebounding margin. The better team won last night.

    That being said, I am put out by the league’s “superstar” treatment. LeBronski gets coughed on and it is called a foul (despite the fact that he is a physical monster). Wade crashes to the hole, and the refs blow the whistle before contact is initiated.

    I know the game is difficult to officiate. At very least, all players should be treated the same in the eyes of the officials irrespective of their marketing prowess.

  56. “Magster: The only difference between what Jones did last night, and the 7-8 other trips I’ve seen is that Jones tripped The Precious instead of some other guy.”

    I love your idea of “consistency” in terms of not calling flagrants all season long, but the argument you make above is exactly why the league will punish this as a flagrant foul.

    Think about it: Kobe has just come from a 40+ point performance where he practically saved the Lakers from being down 2-1. At the next game, you have the fifth or sixt best player on the Nuggets committing a foul, away from the ball, that could easily result in injury to the the opponent’s best player (not to mention one of the best players in the league).

    So, in this case, considering that (a) it was a play that in no way involved the ball, (b) Kobe had Jones beaten on the play, (c) the tripping foul was done from behind, and (d) it was made to the player that had caused your team to lose the prior game, then I think you are looking at a likely flagrant 2 on the play as Jones’ actions were both “unneccesary” and “dangerous”. I know you don’t agree, but I doubt you would say the same if if Shannon Brown had done such a thing to Melo .

    With regard to Bynum: Was it dangerous? Not from what I could see in the replay, so prably no Flagrant 2. Was it unnecessary? Well, although he clumsily hit Birdman, both hands hit the ball so, at least there is the impression that he was going for the way. This, along with the league’s ruling on a more physical play involving Rondo and Miller, I think swings in favor of the league rescinding Bynum’s flagrant 1.

    Anyway, before you get your drawers in a bunch, I’m in no way arguing that these fouls are why the Lakers lost last night. Neither of these fouls would have changed the outcome of the game. The Nuggets simply outplayed the Lakers all night. However, that doesnt change the dirty nature of Jones’ foul.

  57. 42 Mimsy, I think Stern has repeatedly advocated more aggressive forms of instant replay. He’s suggested it to the competition committee.
    Fans who question the authenticity of the NBA are simply refusing to look at the facts. They are not easily reasoned with and shouldn’t be catered to.

    47 Darius, I take your comment on wide open jumpshots one further and say: no transition open three’s. I don’t care how open you are, if there are more than 12 seconds left on the clock, get the ball to Pau. Should only be taking three’s when there’s not time left to get a better shot. We’re not the Phoenix suns. Maybe when you start to hit a few open ones than you can take some early three’s.

  58. If anyone’s ever wondered what Lebron would look like with long, frizzy, very feminine and annoying hair, this is your moment:

    http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2009/0526/nba_g_cavs1_576.jpg

  59. 56 Snoop, haha love it

  60. Kwame A,

    You are 100% correct.

    I love Lamar, but this inconsistency makes it easier to look another route.

    There were times this year he’s looked absolutely irreplaceable. We need to see that Lamar.

    Phil is practically begging Lamar to show up, given PJ’s short leash on Bynum.

    I would say that Pau has done a much better job coping with his weakness than Lamar has. Pau has responded and bounced back from passive games. we haven’t seen Lamar do that series. the airball he put up against Kenyon let me know Kenyon is in his head. Lamar has the advantage in the post and he may need to go there to get his mojo back.

  61. Archon-There is an argument that the refs two blown calls during the pivotal jump-ball sequence in Game 2 affected the outcome. There was a blown objective call (the automatic violation committed by JR Smith) and the subjective blown call (the subsequent push by Melo on Ariza). Regardless, bygones.

  62. I am OK with Darius’ plan, except for the fact that I think Odom’s back is bugging him and I don’t trust him right now. He is not a high-energy guy anyway, and if he is little gimpy, reducing his skill level, against a high-energy set of bigs like Denver has, it really shows. This, Bynum’s foul issues, Denver’s personnel, the issues on the boards last game and Pau’s brutal workload are why I suggested MAYBE giving Powell a few minutes of run.

    But yes, I would basically play 8 guys with the 9th guy maybe playing 2-3 minutes.

  63. I’m not sure the Nene elbow was really anything flagrant-worthy. That little altercation seems to happen every other trip down, especially when you have big men who move when they screen as much as the Nuggets do.

    To me, flagrants getting rescinded is counterproductive. Is the league going to give us 2 points back plus the ball at the beginning of the next game? Far better to get it right at the beginning, but I guess that’s too much to ask for from this current incarnation of the NBA. And I’m with others on this – I find it very very hard to see how the refereeing can get any better in the future, not that David Stern would ever admit this.

  64. Manny @ 54

    My drawers aren’t in a bunch. I don’t like Jones’ penchant for tripping. I’m just saying tripping has been called as just another variety of personal foul and that if it’s going to be called differently hence-forth, there needs to be some clarification.

    That said, a Denver Post reporter twittered that Jones’ trip ruled a flagrant one and Bynum’s flagrant rescinded.

  65. Frankly, it was our fault to expect anything more from LO. He has always shown that he is incapable of performing when the stakes are highest and he has never been able to translate his regular season performances to the playoffs. One reason is that he really has no reliable offensive moves in the half-court game. In transition, he has the ability to make some good plays but in the half-court, he almost makes sure that teams can easily double Pau leaving Lamar open. His defense has always been poor, irrespective of what people think.

    I don’t think we really can expect more from Lamar than he is giving now. I do hope that Phil can give some of Lamar’s minutes to Bynum from whom we can expect more.

  66. Are you Lakers’ fans who are now complaining about the officiating the ones who were ripping Bill Simmons for doing the same thing?

  67. I understand that odom is hurt, but he was killing me last night with the 4 offensive rebounds he did get he would look to pass out to the perimeter guys without even looking at the basket. The interior passing is what made this team so deadly all season long and we haven’t seen much of that this series.

    I dont know what we can do against Anderson, and this style of “crash ball” Denver has been playing. Lamar is too hobbled to really battle on the glass, and bynum doesn’t get rebounds unless they fall into his hands, he doesn’t fight for position, he has no lift in his legs, and these guys come out of no where and crash the offensive glass. K-mart on the other hand should never get 15 rebounds in a game, he averages 6 for the season.

    Those backdoor cuts to the basket from denver have been killing us this series. I don’t even know what to say. What am i missing, how is it that we can’t adjust to that. I feel if we can somehow take take that away and give up what every that opens up we would be in better shape.

    With Carmello struggling like he was last night, i’m surprised Carl did go to Klesza more often, he’s been destroying us all series and i don’t expect that to stop.

    I’m also getting particularly tired of the commentators saying how dissapointed they are in the Lakers for having such superior talent and not “:showing up”. Yes we have Kobe, but all for teams have a potential MVP. We also have another allstar, so does everyone else. Then theres Lamar who has this “potential” the national media keeps talking about, but if he gives us 10/8 in 30 minutes were happy. Bynum could be great one day but right now he’s young, inexperienced and hurt. The rest of the team is made up of at best average NBA players, which are very young.

    With all of this I still believe in that Lakers, I think we need these types of battles for the team to evolve into champions who can build another great dynasty in Los Angeles.

  68. The Lakers have split four games with a really solid Denver team. No shame there. Many, many champs have struggled to make the NBA finals – last year’s champion included.

    Regarding the recently concluded Rockets series – those guys won 22 straight regular season games last year, eleven of those w/o Yao. And the Lakers knocked them off in six this playoffs. Again, no shame there.

    To paraphrase Jackson’s infamous recent remark about the Rockets, “Let’s give the Lakers some ******* credit.”

  69. magster – I guess the Laker fan in me would have loved a flagrant 2, but that sounds about right based on what others have said.

  70. Jimmy Smith=nice of you to always seem to only show up after losses. Preciate it!

    Re: LO- The Odom the was getting 17,18,19,20 rebounds on the big Feb. 6 game roadie is the LO we need to have to be the best team we can be.

  71. I believe that a flagrant one on Dahntay is the same as a flagrant two, as that would be his 4th flagrant point and would be suspended for game 5. someone correct me if i’m wrong.

  72. A little help would be nice for Kobe and Pau. No one else is stepping up. The Lakers need to find a way to dump Vuj in the off season….15% from the field in this series. That is horrible especially when we pay him 4 million to be a shooter. On that note check out this article writtend about Denver….

    http://kaliphornya.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/denver-is-hardcore-with-a-capital-h/

  73. I’m really disappointed in the Lakers. I miss the old 3-peat Lakers… the bench sure picked the perfect time to stink it up

  74. 56 Snoop2006: you forgot to add, “and crying like a girl.”

  75. This says that Dahntay Jones is at two points right now:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4207241

    I guess if it’s a flagrant-2 he gets suspended; a flagrant-1 and he’s good for the trip to LA. Pun intended.

  76. Coffee is For Closers May 26, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Rebounding was the key. I think the Lakers help defense really left them vulnerable last night (and all series) to the nuggets offensive rebounding. Several times Pau left his man, only to have the rebound go to his man for an easy putback. Not sure how you combat this as someone needs to get down there and help with the defensive boards, but lots of our guys are out on the perimeter defending against the 3. I also think there were several long rebounds that just didn’ t go the lakers way – just one of those nights.

    I expect the officiating to tilt back to the lakers favor in the next game (hey, don’t you just love the NBA?), and with our bench playing better at home, the lakers comming out with a victory. I thought last night, even with denver up by 10 with about 3 1/2 left, like the lakers could pull it out – denver’s big game maturity is still very shaky in my mind. I expect the lakers to ultimately pull this series out because of it. If you follow NBA history, its usually the team with its head on straight that pulls these kinds of matchups out. Denver has more of a chance with billups out there, but i’m betting dahtay jones, kenyon martin and jr smith melt down at some key moments these last 2 or 3 games. Weak character = weak mind.

  77. 68 – No, Jones reached the brink of suspension but he’ll be there for Game 5. One more flagrant and he’s suspended. A flagrant two would’ve had him suspended for one or possibly two games.

    I’m happy that Jones isn’t suspended. For one, his presence should fire up the Lakers. Then again, we never really know when and if the Lakers will be fired up. Secondly, Jones is athletic but he’s a liability from the perimeter for the Nuggets. I don’t think any of the Lakers wanted to see more JR Smith in Game 5.

  78. 66, I also show up after Laker victories. With my team, the Clippers, eternally being in the lottery, I occasionally follow the Lakers.

  79. Coffee is For Closers May 26, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Jones gets a flagrant one, not suspended. Just as well, he’s the least of the lakers problems, and now that he’ll get suspended with one more flagrant, he’ll really have to watch his p’s and q’s out there.
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4207241

  80. Did they say the Jones foul was upgraded to a flgrent 1? Upgraded? If my memory serves me correctly, it wasn’t even called during the game!

  81. 75-Now I am sure you are none other than John R., and to be honest, I’m glad your still around.

  82. so i was eating at california chicken cafe the other day and the dude behind the counter had the nerve to give me a number “23″…what a hater!!

    http://www.helloooooo.com/2009/05/26/ummm-ill-take-another-number-please/

  83. 78, Who is this John R? Is he the other Clippers fan in California?

  84. 80-He was another Clipper fan who came here at the very beginning of this blogs existence. You guys think and post in a similar manner. I enjoy the outside voice, even when I don’t agree.

  85. kwame a, craig w, et al,

    Bynum’s output has been a crapshoot all playoffs. Overall, Odom’s has been better, although also inconsistent. I think it is more likely that Odom will have a good game than that Bynum will, which is why I think Odom should get more of those minutes. If game 5 has repeats of game 4 from those two, then I would lean towards Bynum.

  86. Let’s credit Kurt for allowing some dissenting opinions in here.

  87. Jim Smith,

    Lakers fans typically do not complain about officiating, but when the refs are blowing the whistle at any ref looking at Kobe in the 1st Q of Game 2, then swallowing it in crunch time, and THEN allowing blatant (flagrant) cheap shots go, the inconsistency becomes a point of emphasis.

  88. I think Odom’s back is hurting the Lakers more than inconsistent officiating is. It also looks like the Lakers should have kept Turiaf instead of Sasha.

  89. The LA Lakers should give Andrew Bynum more touches. He has proven to be a natural scorer in the paint. He has shown that when he plays good offensively, then he plays solid defensively as well. Andrew Bynum needs to be that 3rd scorer that the Lakers need to win.

  90. I’m fine with dissenting opinions that are rational.

    However, already people are throwing out trade scenarios for various Lakers. That is not something we do here under any circumstances, and those do get cut.

  91. Ex-

    Not a good thing when we are arguing about which #3 scoring threat is the LEAST inconsistent. But such is latter day life as a Laker’s fan.

  92. With the consistency the current players are exhibiting this post season, if I were Phil i would be bald by now.

    Actually, the fact that Phil isn’t bald and is still using relatively the same rotation, is one reason I am criticizing him.

  93. J. Smith hit on the head; I was just thinking today that we would have been way better off now sticking with Turiaf than giving it up for Sasha. Jerry West used to say it best, “Make BIG mistakes.”

  94. Phil is… not given to temperamental outbursts. That said, the fact he snapped at a journalist during the post-game yesterday means he’s frustrated and probably angry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do that before. Phil seethes, he hardly ever erupts.

    Phil Jackson can only do so much. In the end, if the players won’t execute, it doesn’t matter what he does or tells them. If the players won’t do their part, his brilliance is powerless, and that would make any coach very frustrated.

    Here’s hoping he and Kobe (and angry Pau! Thanks for the link in #3, wondahbap) can motivate the rest of the team to focus and execute without going into frenzied craziness.

    I know, I am very inconsistent. One minute I want his head, the next I’m defending him and blaming the players. I do think that Phil Jackson is in a very difficult situation these playoffs, with unreliable roleplayers and a nonexistent bench. So I defend him because the players seem to have abandoned him, which puts him in an impossible situation, and I want his head because he let that happen.

  95. Just want to compliment you all – I love the discussion here. As a Kings fan, it pains me to say how much I enjoy the civility of the site and the intelligence of the commenters here.

    And if you tell anyone I said it, I will certainly deny it!

    To the topic at hand, what exactly IS the deal with Powell/Mbenga? I caught a few Lakers games earlier this season when they were really rolling, and Powell and Mbenga were great energy (and toughness) guys for short stretches off the bench. Are they just too much of a liability in the triangle?

  96. Mimsy,

    He snapped at TJ Simers.

    Simers has a vendetta against PJ. His only Lakers related articles are directed at PJ, and only written to point out his incessant need to needle Phil and/or the Lakers.

    When Phil said (about the Rockets), “Give tem some f*cking credit…,” it was in response to Simers as well.

    Nothing new. These two are always at it because Simers thinks he matters.

  97. exhelodrvr,

    It’s a game of matchups. Bynum does a good job on Nene defensively and on the boards, which also frees up Pau from the exhaustive duty of trading body blows with the big Brazilian. Also, on the offensive side of the floor, Pau OWNS KMart or Birdman- the Lakers should really go into Pau every single time he has either of those jokers on him.

    When Odom’s on the floor (especially tentative, post-injury Odom) these matchups reverse themselves, with Pau being pretty evenly matched up with the more muscular and athletic Nene and Odom getting swatted on weak drives by KMart or Birdy. It was when Pau and Odom were on the floor (or when, unbelievable, Phil had Luke at the 4) that the Lakers really got killed on the boards, which was the main cause of defeat in Game 4.

    That being said, I expect (and pray) that Odom will come out with toughness and energy in Game 5, especially defensively and on the boards. If he does, then Odom has the ability to outmatch either Kenyon or Birdjoke on any court and the frontline battle swings decisively in the Lakers’ favor. Regardless, Bynum’s sheer size is the best answer for Nene, whose rebounding and finishing really have been the key for the Nuggets.

  98. Since I’m a fairweather fan and can’t stomach watching a game lost, I went back and watched games 1 & 3.

    Wow.

    It’s a minor miracle that we won, I didn’t see anything resembling a coordinated attack, with most of the scoring coming from Kobe pulling stuff that you can’t rely on, and sometimes Pau individually overpowering while everyone else just stood still.

    On the Denver’s end, there was so much movement with and without the ball, and it seemed they passed to create an easy bucket. Only reason we aren’t in a 3-0 hole is because Denver missed some really open looks and because we had Kobe, who really can ‘create.’

    Creating, of course, is a very subjective term because failure to convert suddenly makes it ‘forcing,’ and most of the plays, if you disregard the outcome, it’s hard to tell which is which. All good though, the man has ‘created’ often enough.

    Anyway, maybe this disorganized offense has something to do with Tex not being here, or with something deeper than that. It’s as if everyone is just awed by Kobe so much that they forget they are NBA players too; even Pau seems to realize this only once in a while. (Off topic, but that’s probably why LeBron, Wade, Melo and just about every soul that played with Kobe suddenly ‘improved;’ players of lesser caliber just seem to kowtow when having Kobe on their team, while the better ones get really, really motivated)

    I can also see Phil not wanting to use Bynum more; even in times he seemed effective, he didn’t show interest in rebounding at all, while I could see Lamar at least making an effort to rebound. Also, I think I can defend his continued use of Sasha – you need this guy to break out of his slump if we are to have any chance in the finals, or the rest of the series. There’s no way on earth an NBA team can beat another team in the age of zone defense without the aid of the 3-ball.

    Anyway, my confidence in this ‘team’ is rather shot, and unless they can find that extra pass and extra movement off the ball on offense, I don’t see anything good happening.

  99. Maybe PJ should start Odom. He’s a different player when he starts. Bynum to the 2nd team until he improves. Luke to the 3 to keep the offense flowing.

  100. Impressed with general tone of comments here. Don’t know why, but expected hysteria. Probably from spending so much time reading Boston blogs since the Christmas Game. Everyone banging cymbals in joy after a win and in tantrum after a loss. That should be Boston mascot, just a monkey on the sidelines banging cymbals together with a brave smile and terrified eyes.

    I’m with R (#69); it’s sheer arrogance, as well as sulky and spoiled, to assume we should be plowing through any team, much less the Nuggets, who are indeed a worthy foe. Once you start craving a Tyson-like knockout in the first round, you not only suffer unnecessary agonies from not getting your fix but you rob yourself of the glories of seeing two heavyweights go the distance. As Kobe said in yesterday’s post-game interview: “It’s the Western Conference Finals; it should be close.” That isn’t entirely rhetoric; he means it.

    Certainly we have guys playing below standard, but again quoting Kobe, performance at this level isn’t something you can turn on and off; psychology enters into it, and sometimes you get your ass kicked. Mine still aches from last night, but my foot should be ready by Wednesday.

    T.J. Simers is the archetypal cymbal banger. Look at the titles of his articles covering this series. Everything sucks, or everything’s rosy. I suppose it’s the same with most journalism; I remember a Denver headline following Game Three that read “Nuggets Aren’t Ready to Win Championship.” Probably the same guy hyperventilated “Nuggets Poised to Win Championship” into his word processor this morning.

    Here’s a goody from Simers:

    “Denver got nothing from Carmelo Anthony [in Game Four], yet another opportunity to for the Lakers to rip the heart out of the Nuggets, but they refuse to act like champions.”

    Refuse to act like champions. What a putz. It’s one thing to write about ripping a foe’s heart out, and another to reach with exhausted trembling hands and physically do it. All that trembles of Simers is his man-boobs, and his voice when he acts like a champion and pesters Phil Jackson with smug statements clearly disguised as questions.

    “I’m embarrassed, are you?” asked Simers of Phil, but really of Lakers fans everywhere, following a loss in Houston. I’d love to think that Phil answered for Lakers fans everywhere with that infamous no.

    F*** you, Simers, this fight’s going seven rounds. It’s not as easy to demolish professional athletes at the height of their game as it looks. Odom, who’s struggling, at least rumbled sound advice into the bouquet of microphones shoved up his nostrils last night: “Don’t panic.”

    Win or lose, don’t panic. This is our team. These are our boys. Let’s not demand that they keep it together in the chaos of the Roman Coliseum and then fall to pieces ourselves in the same breath. Bravo, Blue & Gold.

  101. otis29,
    Phil is very against going too deep into the bench in the playoffs. That’s what the regular season is supposed to be for – to find out who to play in the post season.

    We are almost all hoping he is so P.O.ed at the players he has elected to play this post season that he tries something different this next game.

    We all feel the Lakers have the talent. We are discussing why they don’t seem to have the heart/grit.

  102. otis29: Yes, unfortunately. Powell can hit a jumper every once in a while, and Mbenga certainly provides energy. But apart from that – not so much.

  103. Rebound:

    Do it, and we will win.

  104. I like to look at history to get an idea of what we might be dealing with. Since the Lakers are realy the only team that I’ve followed with my heart and soul I tend to look at previouse Lakers teams succeses and failures. With that said I’ve been comparing this team to the 2000 team (first of the three-peat) because they were the most recent to break through and win a title with that group for the first time.

    I don’t think anyone can tell me that they felt fully confident in that team (even after going up 3-1) in the conference finals. Portland was every-bit our equal, much like Denver is now. After a nice win in game 1, Portland killed us by 29 in game 2. And after winning 2 close ones in Portland, we gave the series right back to them by letting them win pretty handily in games 5 and 6. It only took a miraculous come back in game 7 (at home) to put them away.

    See, we’ve been here before, all be it with a different group. But I don’t remember so much negetivity surrounding that team. It could be the fact that the internet and blogs like this weren’t realy around, but even the media wasn’t this bad. All I hear is “lack of effort” or “no heart”. This years Lakers played one game half-assed, game 4 against the Rockets.

  105. Sorry about 102, wasn’t finished

  106. When it comes down to it, we’re gonna win some games and lose others, and while I know it’s frustrating it doesn’t mean outr team sucks or isn’t trying.

  107. I agree with the principles underlying comments that suggest line-up or rotation changes. After all, complaining alone doesn’t solve problems – only action can.

    That being said, the sad reality is that changing the rotation at this point is like trying to re-arrange chairs on the deck of the Titanic. As Kurt aptly described, most of our role players are performing horrifically in the playoffs. Yes, Luke is a disaster. But giving more time to Sasha – a player with an even lower PER – probably isn’t the answer. What about Fisher – has Farmar or WOW really played appreciably better against Billups? Bynum may have had his moments, but is he really a rebounding upgrade over Odom? So many of our parts are broken that we don’t have enough tools to plug our agreed-upon deficiencies. And those deficiencies have been evident for a sufficiently long-enough time such that we can’t say they are aberrations that will somehow disappear in Game 5 based on blind faith or memories of better days in the regular season.

    I don’t know what the solution is other than the Lakers committing to give 100% effort and playing smartly. Hopefully that – some unpoised play by Denver wouldn’t hurt – will allow us to overcome some hapless performance issues.

  108. Zephid- I agree. Rebounding was the number one problem. I also think that we need to hit from 3. Either Trevor or Fish or Sasha need to contribute 14+ points, along with the requisite combined 60-65 points from Kobe/Pau.

  109. WOW at the call on Anthony Johnson for running away a little slower than Mo Williams was able to run into him. And wouldn’t we all be shocked, shocked if referees’ whistles succeeded in extending this series.

  110. Anthony Johnson and Skip both with two fouls already, any chance that there will be a Tyrone Lue sighting in Orlando tonight?

  111. PS – Clearly I meant Tyronn, “Tyrone Lue” is a fictional person.

  112. Not Charlie Rosen May 26, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Since officiating seems to be a…relevant? topic today, thought I’d chime in.

    I sometimes feel like folks who say “no one bad call cost us that game” or “the team should’ve played better so it didn’t come down to just one play” are missing the point with the problems with NBA refs…or at least the problems that I have with them. YMMV.

    It’s never just one call that changes a game (or almost never)…it’s the tendency of calls. In the Rockets series, Kobe wasn’t shooting mostly jumpshots because he suddenly decided he didn’t like layups…he wasn’t driving all that often because he was regularly getting hit when he did, having zero chance to score after getting hit, and not seeing a foul called just about every time. That happens enough times, and even someone not as basketball-bright as Kobe will reconsider, thinking “Hmm, if I drive and get fouled but no foul is called, there’s almost no chance to score, and I’m now behind the play with the other team off and running, usually getting a transition bucket. But if I stay out here and shoot a jumpshot, it’s lower percentage than a layup, but also lower chance that I get hit (and/or that the hit gets missed by the refs), and at least I’m not falling out of bounds should I miss and need to get back on defense.”

    When the trend of calls accumulates, it can change the entire approach of a team as they try to sort out how they can play without having the refs’ particular approach that night bite them in the bum.

    We saw it last night too: Walton gets a tech for arguing a non-call, then gets called for a bunch of ticky-tack fouls, right at the moment when a serious increase of defensive pressure could’ve turned that 9-12 point defecit into a closer game…2 or 3 stops with agressive defense, and it’s a 1 or 2 possession game with Kobe on your side. But a couple ticky-tack fouls called, and the entire team has to ease up or risk guaranteeing the Nuggets points each trip down, because they just don’t know what’s going to cause the whistle to blow, only that it’s been blowing a lot whenever they get too close to the guy they’re guarding, foul or not.

    Again, there wasn’t just one call last night–or most nights–that helped or hurt us. And by God, the way we were failing to get rebounds and loose balls hurt us worse than if the Nugs had just pulled three random fans down from the stands to ref the game…I have my hand in a brace today after punching my couch in anger (and missing the cushion, hitting the wooden frame behind it instead) after seeing Pau, Bynum and Ariza just stand there like a glee club as a missed Denver shot fell within 2 feet of the center of the circle they were making, and one of Denver’s guards basically strolled in and picked up the bouncing ball with a “Well, if you guys aren’t interested, I guess I’ll take it” attitude. But if we’d had some consistency from the refs–not just team-to-team, but from the start of the game to the end–we would’ve been in a much better place to modulate our pressure to overcome the horrible start and give ourselves a chance to win.

  113. Not Charlie Rosen,
    You make the same point Kobe and Phil make – the refs should be competent enough to make the same call from the beginning of the game to the end. Changing how the game is called qtr-to-qtr is just bad officiating – no matter who is doing it or who is benefiting.

    Last night the calls were incompetent; the refts were home-biased (see Bill Bridges comment in the previous thread before the game); and the Nuggets were attacking the glass.

    We could have overcome the refs, but our team just wasn’t in aggressive mode from the jump.

  114. who wins the paint wins game 5, throw in game 6 and 7 there. i think it’s an old and abused option of having the other team beat you from the outside and having other players beat you than their star player(s). we’re working on melo and billups. we’re not clear on the former.

    now that pau’s demanding the ball, i hope to see some more love and pounding it to nene, kmart and birdman. i’d love to see pau front. i think he backs up a bit too slowly until he fakes or does this thing. plus, he gets cutters and finds a big man worth millions named andrew. i am also for lamar starting but i like extended minutes for bynum too. if our game is to pound it hard in, them hey use our three-headed monster and re-establish that notion in game 5. make kobe have open lanes, open 3s and so with fisher. i think he’d start hitting those. in other words, inside-out game…which is another frequently mentioned idea.

    GO LAKERS!

  115. The Dude Abides May 26, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    While Bynum is playing well below his pre-injury level right now, his presence is still helping the team (and Gasol) when he is in there, a point that has been made on this blog before. He clogs the middle, he contests shots, and he lets Pau play his natural PF position. Denver’s big runs in Game 4 mostly occurred when Bynum was on the bench in the 2nd quarter (Kobe was on the bench too), and 3 1/2 minutes into the 3rd quarter when the Lakers had just cut the 7-pt halftime lead down to three. The Lakers had just cut the lead to make it a one-possession game, Drew makes one mistake and Phil yanks him for an injured Odom for the rest of the 3rd. The Nuggs drive the paint and crash the boards for the rest of the quarter, and soon the lead is back to 13. Phil puts him back in at the start of the 4th when it’s an 11-pt game, and immediately he grabs a couple rebounds, forces DEN’s drivers into a few misses with his length, and scores on some post-ups, cutting the lead to seven.

    The guy was 6-7 from the floor and 2-3 from the line in the game, he probably forced at least ten missed shots with his length, and he STILL ONLY PLAYED 23 MINUTES. Phil said after the game that Drew played well, and that’s why he got playing time. Then why did you yank him early in the 3rd quarter after he helped cut the lead to three?

    He doesn’t get a lot of rebounds because he’s contesting every shot in the lane after Billups or JR Smith consistently beat the corpses of Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic off the dribble. Is it Bynum’s fault when he forces them into a missed shot and a Denver big grabs the rebound?

  116. does anyone else wish lamar played like hedo turkoglu. I know I do, not in terms of the shooting but in terms of playmaking

  117. You know what I haven’t seen in a while? Big League Chew.

  118. Its amazing how the Doug Collings and his counterpart just marvel at simple bball play Lebron makes. They ignore most of the game and gush about him. When he doesnt make a shot they find someone else to blame or offer words on why he missed it. The love fest is amazing

  119. By the way, I love how every day the NBA league office either upgrades or rescinds a flagrant foul, then fines Phil Jackson for complaining about the consistency of officiating.

  120. Kurt- And you are surprised how?

    Behavior that is massively contradictory is hardly a new phenomenon for the NBA’s league office.

  121. I, for one, thank Kurt for squashing trade ideas. It’s a lot of useless noise on the board for no gain.

    There’s plenty of Laker “bashing” from the Laker fans here, no outside voices of dissent are really needed, unless you want to tell us all if fine with the Lakers. Then you better bring your “A” game. ;-)

  122. The number of flagrant fouls called is increasing. I thought the intent of the officials was to reduce unnecessarily rough play with the flagrant, not to accumulate more of them. Since the officials seem to use them like new toys, then the limit of 6 in the post season – before a player will be suspended one game for each additional flagrant – needs to seriously adjusted upward before next year.

    When things get this far out-of-hand then the league needs to look at itself – and not the players – for both the problem and the solution.

  123. i hate nba refs, howard now one tech away from suspension for that, ridiculous

  124. i feel sorry for howard. he was not taunting varejao. he was fouled hard and still managed to make the basket. how could he not show emotion after something like that?

  125. Magic fans are well within their rights to complain about the reffing this series. It’s been atrocious and clearly biased towards Cleveland.

  126. j. d. hastings May 26, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Tomorrow, Delonte West will be assessed a Flagrant 1 against himself for that last play

  127. Big League Chew available at Costco, 12 pouches for 12 bucks. The way I know is that I recently bought a box, and am chewing now with hypnotic intensity as I wait for LeBron to be the greatest player in the NBA, arguably since Jordan.

  128. I really didn’t get that T on Howard.

    Everytime Lebron drives there’s a foul called. Until the end of the game it’s only gonna get worst.

  129. bynum is such a better skilled low post player then howard, if only he had dwight;s passion

  130. I hate the end-on (really corner) TV camera view so much for live play…

  131. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a ref actually hoist LeBron up for a dunk.

  132. Or just start openly tripping Magic defenders.

  133. j. d. hastings May 26, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    131- check for refs setting picks for LBJ

  134. j. d. hastings May 26, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Dude, orlando. You’re in the penalty.

  135. Ridiculous, pathetic. That’s what the league is becoming if Lebron James can throw himself into backpedalling defenders in crunch time of a playoff game like that and get guaranteed calls. What a joke. And I love the NBA-mandated “he’s being more aggressive” commentary from Doug Collins, as if that were a noteworthy fact given the calls he’s getting.

  136. Seriously – funny how Delonte West doesn’t draw the foul on Howard and Lebron does despite pulling the same move.

    If Howard is going to get whistled anyways, he should get his money’s worth by hammering some fool.

  137. orlando killing themselves by by all these threes though

  138. I agree, James. Orlando shot themselves out of this one if they end up losing.

  139. This Lewis is scaring

  140. Amazing.

  141. Heck of a shot.

  142. let me start by saying i am a nuggets fan and i was on here before the series started and i tried to tell people that you wouldnt see the nuggets of past years or even the first part of this year this nuggets team is very physical and aggresive also i tried to tell people i really dont think george karl cares what jones does as long as he manages to get into kobe and the other lakers heads like bell did in the laker pheonix series and to tell you all the truth i think its working a little

  143. Will that be legendary shot?

  144. I told my friend that it was going to be a contested 3 ftw…just didn’t know it was going to be an uncontested 3. What a screen by Howard

  145. You know if Lebron makes this clutch shot for the win, then the Lebron fest will hit the fan.

    With that said, I would like the Cavs to win this one just to stretch it out and make the series a little more interesting. It would also help us.

  146. la_resistance28 May 26, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    The NBA… where “Amazing >> Refs” Happens

  147. Oh man

  148. You’ve got to be kidding me.

  149. Where was the contact?

  150. Big pressure on Bron Bron. Free throws.

  151. What happened to “let the players decide the game”?

  152. if this is what the NBA is going to be like after Kobe retires, I’m done.

  153. la_resistance28 May 26, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    I’m only following the box score… can someone comment on whether that last foul was a legit one?? Or are the refs handing the game to LBJ again?

  154. OMG!

  155. He undercut Howard. That was certainly a foul.

  156. that was a good no-call – Varejao occupied the space first and didn’t let Howard displace him.

    Yet when Pietrus occupies the space first Lebron crashes into him and gets called for “tripping”. funny.

  157. The foul on Lebron was questionable at best.

  158. Howard was trying to buy a foul there. He was doing all the pulling IMO.

  159. I’m rooting for Orlando, but Lakers definately match up better with the Cavs. Although that homecourt would be sweet…

  160. Hate to see games decided this way. If Pietrus could stay in front of LBJ without constantly just sliding into him they wouldn’t have to make that call.

  161. 154. You should watch and decide for yourself, but it looks to me like we’re back in Wade-vs-Mavs territory here.

  162. it looked to me like Lebron just fell on that play and got a foul call. didn’t see much of a foul and that usually wouldn’t be called on a last play anyways. the short of it is that it was a Lebron special.

  163. j. d. hastings May 26, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    On the one hand I believe the 4 teams remaining are the best in the league. But on the other hand this year’s champion will be one of the weaker ones in history.

    Would any of these teams be able to win one game from the 2001 Lakers? The only way is if Lebron gave up passing and did his full on Iverson impersonation, or if Older Kobe got in the head of younger Kobe and used his inside knowledge to beat his former team. That’s it.

  164. 2 tournovers and a air ball…. and he is better than Kobe. Ok

  165. chekc that, 3 tournovers

  166. 164. Doug Collins thinks its because he got no rest. He is tired….of course

  167. That was for Felipe 165.

  168. When Orlando shoots 3′s like this- no one’s gonna beat them.

    Did anyone really think beginning of the year Orlando championship?

  169. wow magic are realllllllly goood…does anyone think we have HUGe matchup problems against them or minor stuff?

    I know it’s their 3 point shooting, but we were able to go against the best 3 point teams and make them not so good haha (houston and utah)

    I am just thinking about this possible matchup.

  170. I don’t fear the magic but I thought Cleveland was much better

  171. The way LA was having trouble closing out aggressively on Houston’s long range shooter(s)- I think it could easily be a huge problem. Orlando’s a matchup nightmare when they’re hitting from the outside.

  172. j. d. hastings May 26, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    A GOOD CALL BY THE REFS! Give them a gold star- that’s a moral victory!

  173. I second the nightmare on Orlando. They have quick guards, a dpy in howard, and a whole team full of good 3 pt shooters. Yeah, we lost to them 0-2. With our history of quick pgs and closing out on 3 shooters and our bench or anyone outside of Kobe, Pau, and sometimes Drew and Ariza struggling, we will have a very tough matchup.

    I would rather we play the Cavs. The Lebron vs Kobe will be a little bit hard to deal with, but it will be sweet when we beat the Cavs to win the Championship and put the Lebron vs Kobe to rest.

  174. I don’t know – seemed like we handled the Magic pretty well except for late game heroics by Jameer. It’s not like Alston torched us when he was a Rocket either.

  175. j. d. hastings May 26, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Talking Orlando matchups is extremely premature, but I don’t know. Yeah the lakers suck at guarding the 3- because they cheat against penetration. Rafer isn’t the dominant PGs we’ve been torched by. Howard is a problem, but we have size and mobility in our front line. We may be able to score if our bigs can pass to each other.

    Plus LO can guard Lewis when they play him at the 4. Then Kobe/Ariza can guard Turkoglu. So yes they have advantages, but their strengths don’t necessarily correspond to laker weaknesses.

    And the Lakers would have home court against them.

    But first, lets worry about game 5 against the nuggets

  176. That was a hell of a shot by BronBron.

  177. Anyone who doesn’t think Lebron isn’t a little bit clutch- tell me you didn’t expect that to go in for a brief second…

  178. did anyone see the alleged coach of the year not coaching while some assistant drew up the last play? Funny how the biggest improvement everyone cites in his coaching ability was his ability to improve the offense, yet no one realizes HIS ASSISTANT COACH WAS IN CHARGE OF THE OFFENSE!

    What a travesty that award was.

  179. j. d. hastings May 26, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    People claiming Lebron isn’t clutch is ridiculous. It’s okay to like Kobe and still admit Lebron is freakishly amazing, Kids.

  180. Joe: I had no doubt it was going in, but in retrospect I feel foolish – that shot was kind of hard;)

  181. I’d rather have Orlando because 1) we’d have home court and our role players are 25% versus -10% effective at home and 2) Orlando relies on Hedo Turkoglu down the stretch. There’s no way that Hedo is going to lead the Magic to wins against us down the stretch. If you remember our two losses against the Magic this year, it was Jameer Nelson who killed us. Alston had a solid game tonight, but he’s not Jameer Nelson. Not even close.

  182. I’ll be expecting a piece on how when Lebron scores over 40, his team loses. what are the chances?

  183. I definitely think he is clutch. But so are Turkoglu and Lewis. And none of them are nowhere near Kobe’s level. That’s all.

  184. It was just a comment for the diehard fanboys out there who hate to give any ground… my initial gut reaction was “that’s going in.”
    I think we’re all in agreement here otherwise.

    …that being said, Has Lewis missed a clutch shot in these playoffs? (Other than that free throw?)

    These have been some great series so far (despite the inconsistent reffin’..

    What are the chance Howard’s T gets overturned by the league? 80%? 90%

  185. I’m so glad that 3 didn’t go in cause I’m sick of hearing about the legend of lebron.

    I can’t think about the majs or cavs right now, not when the Lakers are playing miserably. and I mean that literally. they just seem miserable to be out there playing. like they don’t so much want to win but are just afraid to lose. can we get some emergency sports psychotherapy for sasha et al?

  186. True

    jameer is out I completely forgot he was the one who torched us.

    than again we have pau gasol who does not even have an equivalent on the Cavs.

  187. i mean magic*

  188. Luubi-
    You don’t have to think about them, but they are playing somewhat entertaining basketball, so you might want to give that series a looksee.

  189. I think Orlando sans Nelson is much more manageable. Nelson aggravated the matchup problems a wee bit too much, and Alston isn’t even close to Nelson’s level. Of the four point guards we would face in the postseason, he would by far be the easiest to deal with. Certainly not to say that we’ll shut him down by any means, but Fisher, Farmar, and Brown should be able to stay in front of him.

    Outside of that, the frontcourt becomes matchup hell both ways. Ariza will give up inches to Turkoglu, but be faster than him at the other end. Lewis will force Gasol (and Odom) to the three point line, but Gasol should be able to score on him all day long. Biggest problem is obviously Bynum or Gasol trying to guard Howard. Bynum can certainly take him one-on-one if he plays smart (given that Howard lacks any real post moves), but that’s definitely not a given, especially as far as cheap fouls are concerned. Gasol would just be overpowered down low.

  190. The only teams that would have handld Orlando well or matched up well with them would’ve been a healthy Celtics squad and a healthy Rockets squad.

    If we can get Bynum to perform, we have pretty good shot too, since Pau/Lamar are fairly dextrous for their size.

    Anyway, even if it costs us the championship (which I doubt, since we’re barely making this a series) I want Orlando to end the series in 5.

    And I hope we win our series, in any shape or form, even if it has to involve some fishy officiating, techs and suspensions. Anything.

  191. SVG is ripping the refs in the post game conf….lol. Funny stuff

  192. The thing that scares me about the magic is that Pietrus has been playing just about as good as Ariza. Then you have Lee who is playing like everyone expected Farmar to play.
    And the other amazing thing is how little drop off they see when Gortat comes in for Howard.

    They’re getting a lot out of everybody right now.

    They’re the favorites right now in my eyes. That can all change quickly of course.
    Couple cold shooting nights and sloppy Alston games and the veneer could quickly look a little tarnished.

  193. Is anybody out there with me in thinking that this Game 4 victory by the Magic is going to fuel us to win the series and obtain home court in the finals or do you think this will motivate the Nuggets to say, yeah we too can do it too as underdogs

  194. i wonder what are the pundits are writing about couple of hours from now after their annointing and all.

    i have no doubts about cleveland’s ability to make a dramatic comeback and i still fear the nba scripting a kobe-lebron showdown. but maybe, it’s not yet king james’ time and maybe just maybe kobe gets his title without shaq. no i am not dismissing the den series but i would feel a lot secure when we take the game tomorrow.

    go lakers!

  195. sorry for errors in grammar and all

  196. Mason: oh I’m watching the series and enjoying it. The games have terrific drama and good flow, not bogged down in FTs. Lebron is quite scary good and a sight to behold, even though I’m sick of the hype. And I like Howard a lot. I enjoy watching players who act like they enjoy playing the game. Too many guys in the league mistake dourness for seriousness and surliness for intensity.

  197. I agree with harold’s comment. It just feels like we’ve been outplayed (and out-talented) for more of the series, and being gritty in the clutch (mainly Kobe/Pau, and some Ariza) has given us a couple. That’s not a huge criticism – Sac was more talented in 2002 and we still won. But we’ve been outplayed for longer in this series, it’s just that in 2 games we turned it on at the perfect time. And role players eventually were a deciding factor in getting to the finals in that Sac series, and in almost all years. (I still remember Kareem Rush sinking the Wolves in 2004. Didn’t turn out great, but we got to the Finals.)

    It’s ironic that Lebron is now suffering from the same syndrome Kobe is, at the same time – a disappearing supporting cast. Their seasons really have mirrored each others in an odd way.

    What play do we suck at defending? The screen roll, and Turk/Dwight or Turk/Rashard run it to perfection. Well, when Hedo’s making good decisions (usually the first 3 quarters). Denver, btw, is amazing at defending the PnR. Hollinger made the point (and I think I agree) that Denver matches up well with Orlando, whereas Orlando matches up well with us. It’s a weird shuffle at the top.

    Is Orlando’s defense really better than Cleveland’s? I keep hearing that Orlando is the top defensive team in the league – was I mistaken in thinking the Cavs were during the regular season?

  198. To be clear – we have to worry about getting Game 5. But, hypothetically speaking, home court against the Magic doesn’t mean much, at least not like against other teams. They’re an excellent road team, and Hedo for one plays much better on the road.

  199. If the Magic make the Finals, Jameer Nelson might play. I’ve heard some scuttlebutt to that effect.

  200. Jaz,

    They’re not going to bring him back. Torn labrums need more than three months to heal.

  201. Odd, random question I was thinking about:

    Who played at a higher level of basketball – Kobe/Lebron right now, or the level Shaq was at in his prime?

  202. The joke du jour is that when Denver fans were told to thank a veteran for Memorial Day, they immediately started thanking Fisher.

    Touche, John Hollinger.

  203. dex,

    “Wouldn’t be surprised to see a ref actually hoist LeBron up for a dunk.”

    I just fell off my chair reading that! hilarious.

    Couldn’t agree with you more about TJ Simers. He’s such a negative person…..just sucks the air out of a room with his annoying, childish behavior. I can’t believe LA Times even gives him the entire Page 2 to write his b.s. He’s not even funny!

    And anytime you can throw a dig at the C’s…..I love it!

  204. 191 – The last thing the Lakers need to do is worry about the finals. What we need is to give Odom a triple shot of espresso before game time and the more I think about Odom the more I feel he is going to be huge in game #5. Unfortunately he has disappointed me too many times to count.

  205. 197- I totally agree about Simmers, I don’t if anyone remembers his radio show with his daughter (more annoying than TJ if that’s possible) and Fred Roggin. They had Kareem on to promote his book and TJ totally blind sided him on his “years of being a jerk with the media”. It was down right sickening not even Roggin could stand it.

  206. When our centers were named Brown and Mihm we pined for a post presence… and we were blessed by not one but two… Now we are hearing the overly polite Spanish version of “Feed the Big Dog”… This team needs to unify behind the idea that an inside out game will carry them… Until then they won’t find that flow they are looking for…

  207. I think Pau and Drew need to get better position on the entry pass they are catching the ball too far from the basket. I’d like to see Pau just out run Kmart down the floor more we need to ATTACK!!!

  208. Tonight a King died.

  209. I feel for Lebron. Why? Because Kobe suffered through a lack of support for years. Lebron made some crunch time mistakes (turnovers, jumpshots) and also had some highs (FTs, a couple smooth buckets inside). This was more on his teammates.

    It’s not really Lebron’s fault the media will blame his supporting cast, whereas in the same situation they would blame Kobe. So I do think he’s in a bad situation.

  210. j. d. hastings May 26, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Don’t count Cleveland out yet. They have to win 3 in a row, but 2 of those are at home. When the Lakers coughed up the 3-1 lead it was because they got routed in Phoenix, which left them with essentially 1 chance, at home- where we lost because Tim Thomas’s deal with Satan was just coming into maturity. Cleveland has to rediscover home court advantage, but if they do, and they can eke out a close game 6, they could do this.

    Or they could roll over and die next game. A lot is hanging on this. How does Lebron play? How do his teammates play? If his teammates stink it up, what happens to his loyalty to the team?….

  211. Surprising that Magic won given the amount of bogus fouls that the refs called on them and the amount of legit fouls that the refs did not against the Cavs. Can you really buy that the refs are so incompetent? Or do they have some underlying motive? Why does the league not do anything about the incompetence of the refs? Does the league prefer that they perform the way they did tonight. This is not a Lakers game and I am getting so frustrated by the refs. I have seen a lot of posters comment here that they would probably stop watching NBA when Kobe retires. I am pretty sure I am in the same boat. I really cannot make myself watch a game which is not equally fair to all competitors.

  212. 204. You are right. I really do not think the refs will let Cleveland lose at home. So, they only have to win 1 game in Orlando to win the series. The winner of that game will determine the series winner.

  213. Hmmm. Wow. This is interesting. Henry at Truehoop ranked the players in this series by athletic “explosiveness.” He has Farmar higher than Shannon Brown, Nene, and Kobe.

    That is very, very interesting. And by interesting I mean “wrong.”

    Farmar is short and can dunk. Great hops, props. That doesn’t equate to explosiveness. Nene on those rolls looks like he’s shot out of a cannon . Even Kobe at this stage can ‘explode’ past his man better than Farmar. Maybe people define ‘explosiveness’ as different things, but that’s what it boils down to for me – blow-by-ability.

  214. If we are still quoting things from Henry at Truehoop, then we have really lost sight of reality.

    While I don’t think I have a ‘circle the wagons’ mentality, I do not think we have to concern ourselves to the Henry Abbott or Bill Simons’ of the world.

  215. (Speaking strictly about offense) Getting all of our players easier looks should be our highest priority. The only way to really accomplish that is to run our offense better. I’ve been asking for the same things since the Utah series, but they still apply – do everything with more meaning. Screen harder, cut with purpose, pass with understanding and decisiveness. Even though we gave up the lead, the first half of game two was our best execution on offense because we did all of these things. We must get back to that. As has been mentioned many times on this forum before, the Triangle is a read and react system where everyone should be moving as one with the same objectives in mind. When we’re doing this, ball reversals are easier, players are open, spacing is precise, and uncontested shots come within the flow of our sets. When we aren’t doing these things, open players are missed, ball denials are everywhere, and we end up shooting contested shots against the shot clock. We’ll be able to tell right away how we’re playing on offense just off these simple signs.

    And in this vain, there are a couple of things I’d like to see on offense. 1). Denver is denying Kobe all over court, but especially in the post. The best way to beat the front is to throw over the top. But if you do this from the wing, you throw the ball into the teeth of a rotating defense. So, I’d love to see us hit the flash man coming from the weakside and then create a high/low with Kobe going for the lob. This would work best when LO is in the game as he is the guy that can either be the flasher or the opposite side “guard” with Gasol being the flash man. Both of these guys are able passers and Kobe will have the seal on Jones/Smith/Melo in preparation of this pass. We haven’t run this once all series, but we ran it during the regular season plenty. Denver has been prepared for a lot of what we like to do, so it’s time to get a little creative with our actions off of the built in pressure releases. 2). We have an action where the strong side post man starts at the (left) elbow. When the guard makes that entry pass to the post man, he cuts off his shoulder and then clears the side to the opposite corner. However, that guard can also set a screen for the weakside big that is on the opposite low block. I’d love to see Fish/Luke/LO make that entry to Gasol/Bynum (at the elbow) and then go set a crushing screen on Nene/Martin/Birdman (or whoever is on Kobe) to free up that weakside post player. If that (weakside post) player is Gasol, he should be able to slide into the lane for his lefty hook or be easily set up for a counter to his righty hook. If that post man in Bynum, we should be able to throw a little lob towards the charge circle and set up Drew for his gather then finish at the rim. If that post player is Kobe, this screen can set up his curl into the lane for his fadeaway jumper or a ball fake then drive to his right hand. Plus, if the help is strong on that man, the guard that just screened should have a pretty good look from the corner. I’ll say this again, our offense has so many variables, but they are all timing based and properly executed off of rhythm and reads. We can do better on this stuff – it’s the reason we were one of the top offensive teams all season. But execution is king. We see it with Denver as they are continuously using their P&R sets and their off ball cuts to get the looks they want. We can execute too, but it’s been lax so far this series. I know we can do it better, I want to see it.

  216. I felt really bad for LeBron too. Just all that talent and greatness going to waste because his teammates can’t step up. He’s such a likeable guy. I wish him the best.

  217. j.d. hastings

    It is not so much LeBron’s extraordinary talents somehow threatening Kobe, as the nausea induced by Stuart Scott et al. giggling and simpering and asking him questions like, “So, King James, what’s the greatest thing about you, in your opinion?” etc. — and James really thinking a moment before answering, with steepled fingers and solemn brow, as if pondering which of Aquinas’s Five Proofs of God apply most to him personally. I wish that, from the get-go, he’d publicly abdicated his kingship until he occupied a throne more legitimate than the gaudy mouldering set-piece used in the SportsCenter commercial where, ha, ha, Scott Van Pelt steals it and denies doing so even though there’s an OBVIOUS incongruity, hee hee. It’s all so cute, and fawning, and worst of all it hurts James. I think LA fans have good reason to roll their eyes once in a while, without necessarily reverting to fanboys.

  218. 205 — I watched the same game and thought it was called well.
    Frankly, as far as these playoffs go I give the refs in that cavs-magic game an A+.

    I worry that people are falling into the trap: you assume the league wants X, so you are seeing 50-50 calls more like 75-25 calls that should go a certain way when really the ref’s interpretation is not just very plausible, but on replay is usually the right one.

    The travel on Turk was a bad call. But the non call at the end of regulation was how I want that called, and pietrus’s foul may have been a close call but their feet got tangled. I’m ok with that call.

    And hey, at least they started the clock on time at the end of regulation and OT. That’s pretty big. (Not to knock lebron, but there’s no way “the shot” went off within a second.)

  219. The matchup with Orlando is not so bad. Hedo doesn’t have a postgame, and will be bothered by Ariza’s quickness. Our bigs can cut off the screen and roll more effectively than Z. And we may have the only person in the league who can match up to Lewis – LO. Their point guards – our biggest weakness, won’t hurt us as much. And, as the series has proven, Howard doesn’t really have the post moves to use a power post game and lacks lower body strength. Gasol can use his quickness and Bynum can body him up. Of course, I envy their versatile defenders/shooters in Lee and Pietrus, but since when was a good defender a matchup problem for Kobe?

  220. kuruptinthe303 May 26, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    darius, wow. you obviously understand the espn version of basketball. What you dont understand is playing basketball. Basketball is flow. Flow means getting a basket, then playing like someones trying to throw eggs at ya mamas house on defense.

  221. kuruptinthe303,

    If you don’t think that these actually are plays drawn up on the court by the coaches and drilled in practice, then you haven’t been playing a whole lot of basketball.

  222. 212 – That is the one thing that annoys me about Lebron from time to time – the fact that he buys into and augments his own hype. I remember how much I hated his “first athlete billionaire” comments, being used to Kobe focused on the game only. Lebron wants to be an icon, not just a great basketball player. He’s a very likeable guy, but he possesses a different type of arrogance than Kobe, one that the media doesn’t necessarily see.

    Is it his fault? Not completely. Since probably 6th grade he has been hyped like no other athlete. I blame the system more than anything else.

    To appreciate Lebron’s game, you really have to make the distinction between Lebron’s on court play and his off court endeavors to truly appreciate him. His off-court antics (primarily the fawning media, but he feeds into it) can turn fans off once in a while. (The same can be said about Kobe. I love Kobe the baller, not necessarily the person. And Kobe the person is irrelevant to me as a fan).

    I think the thing that bothers some Lakers fans is that they believe Lebron hasn’t earned the praise. He probably has now, but the “We Are All Witnesses” and “the Chosen One” before his career really began really annoyed me.

    What if they did that with all hyped picks? What if Kwame Brown was the first “Chosen One”?

  223. lmao I think kurupt told you Darius. You should focus more on “flow”, not the actual basketball part of basketball.

    Out of curiosity – no one has ever thrown eggs at my mother’s house – how exactly does this translate to the defensive end?

  224. I felt really bad for LeBron too. Just all that talent and greatness going to waste because his teammates can’t step up. He’s such a likeable guy. I wish him the best.

  225. What the league snuck underneath us is Howard’s T.

    Given homecourt, a few calls are just ‘home court advantage,’ and those can easily turn the game around for the Cavs.

    Now, along the line, Howard ‘taunts’ draws a T, and as everyone knows that’s suspension for game 6. That may cause additional frenzy and cause him to get another and get ejected.

    Game 6, away, but with no Howard. Result? Cavs win.

    Game 7, at home, anything can happen, LeBron wins, probably has some gaudy stat line, becomes just the 9th team in 191 tries to overcome 3-1.

    Hype machine on hyperdrive.

  226. The love fest for lebron is getting a little ridiculous. Yes he is an amazing physical specimen. I think the most physically gifted player to ever play in the NBA. But making a 25 ft 3 pt fade away at the buzzer to win a game does not make him the most clutch player to ever play the game of basketball. A lot of players have hit buzzer beaters during these playoffs and they did not get the same praise. Big baby hit a couple buzzer beaters, maybe he is the most clutch. They talked about that shot for two days as if he was the only player to ever hit such a shot. It was kind of ridiculous. Everyday on ESPN for the last month all it has been is articles about how great Lebron is, even one about how great a football player he would be. We know the guy is a freak of nature. Better, stronger, faster.

    The key for tonights game (as has been for the other games) will be controlling the paint. The Lakers will have to control the boards in this game, both defensively and offensively. I would be very surprised if Andersen, Nene, and Martin all have 13+ rebounds again. Especially considering they are not that good of rebounders.

  227. harold- That is some very fine paranoia you have there, and what bothers me most about it was that I was nodding my head along in time with it.

    If that scenario does happen…wow…

    What always bothers me about the refereeing is the lack of consistency. Two centers 5 feet from the basket can bang away, leaning on each other, pushing each other, knock each other around all over the place, and not a whistle is blown. That same level of contact between shooting guards 20 feet from the basket gets a whistle every time.

    Why is the play on the post different than the foul off dribble at the top of the key?

    We all know that it is different, but it should not be according to the rules.

    At any rate, I agree with most folks here.

    If the Lakers can play inside out, play solid defense, and rebound with aggression, the wins will come.

    So far, that has been an iffy proposition. Biggest game of the year is tonight. Let’s see how the Bench Mob, and Bynum, respond.

  228. Things I’d like to see tonight:

    1) An actual rebounding advantage
    2) Pau getting many touches/shots in rhythm
    3) A sense of urgency, and with that camraderie
    4) Fewer jumpers, more attacks on the rim

    I like our chances if these things happen.

  229. Harold, I was thinking along the same lines after Howard picked up his 6th technical. If he somehow picks up number 7 in a losing effort in Game 5 and is suspended for Game 6, it would send a lot of people (rightly so, I think) into an uproar. It depends, of course, on how deserved that seventh technical is.

  230. that last T on howard was bogus. maybe they’ll rescind it.

  231. If they don’t rescind Howard’s T, maybe we can hope that JR Smith will keep strutting around like a chicken when he makes a basket and pick one up as well if he accidentally faces the laker bench.

  232. Cleveland looked really down in their locker room after that loss. I know that they’ll be playing for their lives on Thursday, but even though it’s a home game I can imagine them being a bit tight. Cleveland is at its best when they’re playing loose and having fun, but being down 3-1 is not the situation that inspires that kind of mentality. You add that to any angst that the their fanbase will be feeling and I’m not sure if home court will really provide an advantage in Game 5. All that can change with a big lead or all around stellar play from the home team, but the Magic have proven capable of erasing any lead and I don’t think the Cavs (or their fans) every really feel safe playing Orlando. The psychology of the Cavs will be a major subplot when I’m watching game 5.

  233. #55, Shaky,
    That would assume consistency from the NBA referees and that’s like our free throws these days. No matter how hard they try, when they finally make it it’s more or less accidental. (Note that this does not apply to Kobe’s free throws. That man is unreal.)

  234. If Melo, Kobe, Lebron, or Howard are tossed, due to too many technicals, this playoff season I think the NBA fans would put a contract out on David Stern. I also think the league is going to change the limit this summer.

    Actually, they should rethink the entire concept of calling Technicals and what they mean. It is neither calming the game down, not changing behavior. If they want to stop fighting, then have a rule for fighting that is more strict than techs. If they want to eliminate all the ref bating/whining, then target a rule for that. What they shouldn’t do is have a general rule that fits all things the refs might want to do – too much variability; especially with the suspension situation hanging over the league’s head.

  235. mike,
    I think it is those big, round eyes.

  236. I can’t help but wonder if teams having a single, dominant player can be detrimental in tight playoff series.

    Both Kobe and LeBron seem to take the air out of the room in close/critical games. Their teammates seem too eager to defer to the alpha male, to the detriment of the team. This is a vicious cycle too, as the alpha senses his teammates’ submission and assumes even more of the load. This is why it is so critical for Kobe to play facilitator early in the game, as he did during the regular season and the Utah series–there is a confidence deficit among the other Lakers not names Pau.

    The lone exception to my lame hypothesis is Jordan, of course. Unlike Kobe and LeBron through, Jordan was surrounded by tough veteran role players. Paxson, Kerr, Grant, et al made their livings as role players. Like a middle reliever or closer, these guys knew how to stay mentally ready despite minutes on the bench or without a touching the ball. Cleveland and the Lakers have young talent; players that still harbor illusions of grandure outside of the Kobe-sphere (e.g., Drew, Farmar) and seem not to have the requisite role player mentality (yet) needed to co-exist with a Kobe or LeBron…

    Here’s hoping Kobe tries to facilitate to start tonight. He’s gone away from this ever since the Houston series where it appeared no one else wanted to take the stage with him–can’t blame him, but this is not what got us here.

  237. Craig

    whatever floats ur boat man ;p

    i sure didn’t write it.. just surprised to see it..haha.

  238. Also, last night, look what LeBron-as-facilitator did for the Cavs in the first half. That took guts for him to involve his teammates, and it paid dividends.

  239. Mike-Sasha wrote that…

  240. Site update. My Internet access is down at work so today’s preview is delayed. Comment moderation may also be slowed.

    There willl be a co-hosted live blog during tonight’s game with myself and Jeremy of Roundball Mining Company.

  241. The problem with the lakers is that they need to play with heart and energy, and be tough. Thats something that isn’t taught, it comes from within, and other then kobe, gasol, ariza, and fish.. i dont think this team has even shown they have that, other then the 40 point blow out win again houston.
    This team still needs to add some toughness, via draft or trade… but they need some players that want to win.
    Well here is to hoping the rest of the lakers team shows up tonight!! GO LAKERS!!

  242. After fighting with the stupid file since I formatted the player a few weeks ago, today one of my favourite YouTube videos of all time is finally playing properly on my Sansa Fuze. This must be a good omen. :)

  243. Just had a very spirited debate about last night’s game. Two points I’m staying with.

    1. Lebron is officially at Jordan level on foul calls. If you breath on him it’s a foul. What’s new is people don’t even debate it at this point. That’s Jordan level!

    2. No way Orlando wins game 5 in Cleveland. Game 6 maybe, but not 5.

  244. Seeing as how so many people worry about the officiating, here are tonight’s referees:

    M. McCutchen
    R. Garretson
    T. Washington

    No techs, no fines, no flagrants – just wins! We need our role players to really roll tonight! Go Lakers!

  245. Mimsy,
    You know, the MVP for the NBA – not any individual team – is clearly Kobe over the last 7 years. Just think about what he has meant to the league – attendance, shooting, positive/negative coverage, 1-on-1 play, just plain NBA coverage over the world. Whether or not ESPN likes it, Kobe has been the man for the NBA.

    There may be a stage for more players now, but Kobe has been it for the current decade.

  246. #247,
    From a marketing standpoint, that can maybe be debated, but for the game itself, probably. Of course, I am very biased, being that I’m a big Kobe fan, so my opinion might not be entirely reliable and credible here.

    I’m hoping that Kobe will not have to go for another 81 points tonight (101?), but will be able to just sit back and create openings, facilitate, and rack up the assists. Looking at the types of shots he normally takes, I think he is actually both more effective and more deadly when he can create opportunities for a couple of reliable scorers, primarily Pau/Andrew, and whoever gets open from the perimeter.

    So fingers crossed that either Sasha, Farmar or really anyone finds his shot for tonight!

  247. Even Magic says the Lakers are ‘Putty Soft’…haha…hilarious! Well, Pau’s name is GaSOFT….hehe.

  248. I think we’ll see Pau really solidify himself as a superstar in this league tonight. How anybody who has watched Pau each round of these playoffs can call him “soft” or “Gasoft” (so clever) is beyond me.

  249. Since we’ve been talking about refs and the amount of fouls called, I thought the numbers at the end of this article were interesting: http://www.dailynews.com/ci_12456346?source=rss

  250. in regards to the article you posted, Mimsy, I too was disappointed at Mbenga for not hammering Jones on that garbage time dunk myself and I’m not even a player. When the 12th man on the team can’t be bothered to send a message on behalf of the other 11 guys, that’s a huge opportunity wasted.

  251. I don’t think it’s the amount of fouls called, but the consistency of how they’re called.

    I will not blame the refs for last game’s loss, but it is hard for the players to get into a rhythm when the calls fluctuate throughout the course of the game.

  252. That’s one of the reason I want to send in Mbenga or Powell. I want to see one of them get 2-3 quick fouls and maybe a T for some serious roughness, just to let Denver know that if you want to dish it out, you need to be willing to take it. Nothing dirty, absolutely nothing dirty and the least thing I want is for someone to be injured as a result.

    Just do the old school yard thing: Get back up, dust yourself off, look the bully in the eyes. And then shove him on his ass, stare him down, and dare him do that again. Lamar used to be really good at that… I’m half hoping to see some fire from him as well.

  253. To add to my posts about the refs: I don’t blame them for the loss, even if the refs had heavily favored the Lakers they would not have won Game 4. And if they would have, I would not have been happy; relying on the refs for a win is pathetic and any team wanting to belong in the NBA should be able to win a game without that kind of help.

  254. The NBA has changed a few number of calls. So it got me thinking. Lets say game 4 ended with a 105-104 Denver score. Since Jones was assesed a flagrant foul shouldnt the league award LA with 2 points hence changing the result from a loss to a win for LA. I know it sounds like a stupid proposition but its just as stupid as them changing calls back and forth. The game has already been decided unfortunately so all they are doing is proving to us that their refs are incompetent.

  255. Walton is a tough player, but very smart and not in any way dirty. There is not way he gets a technical and follows it up with 3 straight fouls – that is just not his MO.

  256. Speaking of refereees, does anyone know who will be officiating tonight’s game?

  257. Raul, Gr8Scott posted them up there a while back:

    M. McCutchen
    R. Garretson
    T. Washington

    From post #246 :)

  258. Bill Bridges,
    How do these three refs stack up in the Home Team bias.

  259. Mimsy, Sorry, I missed #246.

    I’m glad it’s not Steve Javie and Dick Bavetta. Javie’s is good if you’re the road team. Bavetta just sucks, unless he’s kissing Barkley.

  260. This might sound like hyperbole but I think this is the most important game to date in the careers of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. If the step up tonight in a must win game they might finally be able to ditch that “soft” or “shrinks in big games” label that have been attached to both of them most of their careers. I especially think this is the case for Lamar Odom, his Laker future depends on this game…

  261. Craig:

    According to http://www.nbastuffer.com/referee_stats, McCutcheon has the second highest home team win % as the lead referee, at 80%. The other two are a somewhat mixed bag. Washington has a .667 home team winning %, and Garretson is near the bottom with a .556 home team win %.

  262. I have two questions for those with more basketball knowledge than me (ie everyone).

    1. I believe that the Lakers’ offense runs more effectively through Pau–no brainer, I know. But what are the Nuggets doing to discourage this approach and how can the Lakers help Pau establish better position in the post?

    2. Pau and Bynum could be a dynamic force together, but their spacing seems off and our team seems to bumble through the offense when they are both on the floor together. Is this observation correct? And what can Pau and Bynum (and the rest of the team) do to play better off each other?

  263. Don’t know that I’m completely sympathetic with the poor LeBron, if only his teammates tried harder angle. When they were walloping their way through the first series, the consensus (which I took part in, to a point) seemed to be what a player, what a team. Last night Cleveland fell apart a bit; LeBron, too, if memory serves. His turnovers, wild drives taken solely in hopes of some free throws, uncharacteristically hesitant passing, etc., were more symptomatic of a general malaise that had overcome Cleveland itself, rather than a bunch of lepers surrounding a healthy Bron Bron. Of course, his numbers were through the roof, as usual, but down the stretch his play was extremely erratic. The only reason this is even an issue is that we almost unconsciously expect him to play with the poise of a Jordan after eight or nine years of trial and error, failure and success. ESPN etc. need to back off, give him some breathing room, allow him to mature like a young plant, send roots deep. The tragedy isn’t his teammates, it’s the powers that be wanting all the golden eggs at once. Let him gestate those riches and birth them one by one, steadily, then climb the glittering mountain and be king.

  264. Team success only comes when all team members do their respective parts. Players must put forth the effort and skill that is required to score and defend to the best of their abilities. But without an effective strategy, plus timely moves and counter-moves from their coaches they will certainly be beaten if their opponent is up to the challenge.

    The players shortcomings and deficiencies are frequently discussed and often easily identified simply by picking up a box score. However, identifying errors in coaching tactics and strategy is ofeten more difficult and controversial. It should also be noted that just because a coach is making errors does not mean that he is necessarily a bad coach. Rather he could simply be a good (or legendary) coach that is simply trying to apply his usual approach to a situtation in which that appoach doesn’t quite fit.

    I think we can all agree that Phil Jackson doesn’t coach like most of his peers. No one would agrue that his particular style has not served him well in the past (9 Championship Rings). However, are these coaching differences helping or hurting this Laker team during the current playoff run?

    The biggest difference between Phil an his peers-and the source of most fan frustration-are his player rotations. The specifics as to who should play an when they should play have been debated extensively on this other blogs.

    What seems to distinguish Phil from the typical playoff coach this year is that he does not consistently reward positive play with sustained playing time. More specifically many of my friends think that he rigidly adheres to pre-determined rotations that may not be in tune with the current game circumstances.

    Phil Jackson has the deepest bench rotation when compared to all of the other conference finalist (and most other playoff contenders). Phil is currently playing a 10-man rotation (10 player averaging more than 10 minutes/game) compared to Denver’s 8, Cleveland’s 8, and Orlando’s 7 man rotations.

    Deep rotations can be very disruptive on the offensive side since most offensive players require 2-4 shots to get into rythym. Outside shooters are particularly more likely to be affected since they tend to be more streaky. Thus a coach can effectively and consistently break the rythym of his shooters if he subs them out after they make a jumper or two.

    I believe that our current substitution patterns is partly responsible for our poor bench scoring. Our rotation is too deep. This is magnified by the fact that our coach has not stuck with or rewarded the hot players on offense. Although these tendencies may have served him well in the past. I doubt that they are helping us much now. What do you think?

  265. khjohn,
    You have put in logical form what most of us have been struggling with over the last few threads. The constant, “well, he has 9 rings” is factual, but not really the point. You separated the two very well.

    Thank You.

  266. I’m going to bottom line this “run the offense through Pau” thing in a very simple way I’ve never seen here before (although it’s may have been mentioned).

    This is Kobe’s team.

    He’s the 1st option, period. Everyone will have to wait a few more seasons if they want him to defer to another player in the offense. You don’t have to like it, but this is how the team functions and they’re not changing now.

  267. The hype around LeKobe has gotten so bad that I do not watch or read ESPN about BBall since the first couple of games of this round.

    I am actively rooting for Orlando, even though I think Cleveland is a better match up. I will be ecstatic if Lebron doesn’t make the finals – and it has nothing to do with LeBron – but is all about the endless hype.

    If it weren’t for Kobe being on the Lakers, I’d be actively rooting against him too – (to be clear, I am a Kobe fan).

    I am beginning to actively loathe ESPN, Nike, et.al. Can we please just have the games back?

  268. #268 – Running the offense through Pau does not mean that Kobe is not the 1st option or that it isn’t his team, etc. It just means that the ball goes through Pau’s hands on most possessions. There are lots of reasons for this, from Pau’s ability to score himself to his ability to find the open man and make the right pass. It also limits the defenses ability to help on Kobe, especially near the basket.

    When we’re running our offense from the perimeter, it allows the defense to stay in front of our guys and takes away a lot of the passing options that we have when the ball starts near the goal. If the ball is inside, the defense tends to tighten up inside, allowing us to kick out and/or swing around for more open shots. There is a lot more pressure on the defense when the ball is 6 feet from the basket as opposed to 25.

  269. The Chicago offense often didn’t run through Michael Jordan, even though he was a more powerful build than Kobe is. It is a movement offense and Michael got a lot of his scoring through his movement and openings.

    That is what pis**s me off when we throw the ball to Pau and then every one just stands around and waits for him to do something. That happens much too often. We don’t run the triangle all that much.

  270. clutch,
    Starting the offense with Pau more has no bearing on whether or not this is “Kobe’s team.”

  271. If I were Phil Jackson:

    1) Monitor energy and effort: At the slightest sign of their lack, substitute immediately. Gasol with Powell. Bynum with Mbenja. Ariza with Odom. Fisher with Farmar. Have a chat with the starter, and get them back in after a few minutes of hyper burn from the sub. Let the sub know, in no uncertain terms, that the burn they are getting now will directly effect their playtime in the remainder of this season, as well as next year. Hustle. HUSTLE. Body up on Defense. Cut and Dive and Set Picks on Offense.

    2) Try a Big Man Rotation: Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Ariza, and Kobe. Put them on the floor for 4-5 minutes in the first quarter, and the third, and see what we get out of it. If you are not willing to fire all of your bullets, here and now, then we had no business being in the gunfight to begin with.

    3) Have an extremely short leash on Fisher and Sasha. Any PUJITS, or non set jumpers, or shots of any kind with no presence under the hoop would get them yanked, and give Farmar/Brown some burn.

    4) Use DJ Mbenga (and all of his glorious, hard fouls) to get under the skin of K-Mart and Melo. If he cannot foul out in 4 minutes of burn, then he is not the enforcer we are looking for. K-Mart and Melo are well known for their short tempers, and selfish play once they are angered. Make them angry. Rattle them.

    5) Inside out. Run back on Offense and get position in the paint. Draw fouls. Go up strong with 2 hands. Pass to open cutters and dives. Play crash ball.

    6) Allow Kobe to create if we have no high % shots with 8 seconds or less on the shot clock. Kobe thrives that way, and it is demoralizing to bang, hustle, screen and help for the first 2/3 of a possession, only to have Kobe make a move, spin and toss up a ridiculous shot between 2 defenders and have it go in.

    Anyway, that would be my game plan.

    WWPJD?

  272. Lets just hope the lakers show up as a team today!! Bench has not been there to help. Sasha & Walton i dont even wanna see on the court majority of the time! True that Pau is soft on D, but what Laker has not looked soft? It seems like our role players are not understanding what their roles really are. Here’s to hoping they figured it out for tonights game! GO LAKERS!!

  273. Kurt: I meant, “Go Lakers!”

  274. If it looks like the Cavs are folding in game 5, but Howard gets a tech (which means an automatic suspension for the next game), is it right for the Magic to lose intentionally so he doesn’t miss a game in the finals? I think that would be awesome, but only if David Stern were at the game and they could get a camera on him.

    There’s a (very) small part of me that thinks it would be funny if both Howard and Kobe got their seventh TFs in close-out games, giving Stern the perfect platform for another of his optimistic “State of the League” speeches: “Nothing wrong here. All of our rules are perfect. And now, please rise for the national anthem, sung by The Replacements!”)

  275. The bottom line is this: The Lakers have homecourt advantage in a 3 game series. I like those odds.

    The Lake Show is 19-0 in game 5s at home when a playoff series is tied 2-2. I like those odds, too.

    The team that wants it more gets it. The bench is much better at home than on the road, & I truly believe that the Lakers will show up for this game and understand the urgency. Resting on yoru laurels or the assessment of others is not good enough…just ask the Cavs.

  276. 275. That was an accident on my part, I meant to approve that comment but hit the wrong button on my phone. I just pasted the comment into the next thread.

  277. Biggest. Game. Of. The. Season.

    Duh!

    Let’s go Lakers!

    http://balmer.typepad.com/jester/
    The Dark Clown of Comedy

  278. i think lakers rule i love to watch all yar games it is very fun i have a lot of fun time with my dad when we watch a laker game i hope the la lakers will become the gretest team of the nba 2010 or some year o hope you have a great time trying your best and nba cares and on mvp most vauluble puppets yeah that is my favoritest commercial where kobe bryant and leBron james as puppets i like to wath it all the time on you tube i hope yall make new mvp most valubule puppets commercials again and again and again i love the la lakers very much i”m like yar biggest fan in the world i get very sad when you”ll lose and its fun when shows at the end of the game when it shows kobe bryants wife and his two daughters i wish i can meat you two dauhters and play with them and my two brothers i have a big back yard with a basketball court and a pool with a club house and i also have a dog she’s harmlessi am a really big fan of the llos angelos lakers i hope yall can give us tickets in person so that i can go to staple center well by the end.