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.


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

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

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  2. Jaz,

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

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  3. 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?

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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!

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  6. 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.

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  7. 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.

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  8. 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…

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  9. 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!!!

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  10. Tonight a King died.

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  11. 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.

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  12. 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?….

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  13. 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.

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  14. 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.

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  15. 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.

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  16. 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.

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  17. (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.

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  18. 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.

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  19. 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.

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  20. 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.)

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  21. 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?

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  22. 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.

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  23. 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.

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  24. 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”?

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  25. 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?

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  26. 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.

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  27. 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.

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  28. 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.

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  29. 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.

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  30. 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.

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  31. 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.

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

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  33. 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.

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  34. 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.

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  35. #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.)

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  36. 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.

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

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  38. 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.

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  39. Craig

    whatever floats ur boat man ;p

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

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  40. 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.

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  41. Mike-Sasha wrote that…

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  42. 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.

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  43. 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!!

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  44. 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. 🙂

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  45. 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.

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  46. 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!

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  47. 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.

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  48. #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!

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

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  50. 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.

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  51. 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

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  52. 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.

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  53. 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.

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  54. 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.

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  55. 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.

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  56. 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.

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  57. 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.

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

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

    M. McCutchen
    R. Garretson
    T. Washington

    From post #246 🙂

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

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  61. 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.

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  62. 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…

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  63. 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 %.

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  64. 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?

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  65. 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.

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  66. 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?

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  67. 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.

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  68. 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.

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  69. 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?

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  70. #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.

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  71. 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.

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

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  73. 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?

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  74. 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!!

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  75. Kurt: I meant, “Go Lakers!”

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  76. 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!”)

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  77. 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.

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  78. 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.

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  79. Biggest. Game. Of. The. Season.

    Duh!

    Let’s go Lakers!

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

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  80. 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.

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