Now that was the Lakers Team I Remember

Kurt —  May 27, 2009

There was Sasha and Fisher hitting big shots. There was a couple thunderous dunks because the Lakers were the team that attacked the rim. There was aggressive defense extended out high and long arms in the passing lanes. There was a whole lot of Lamar Odom.

It was the complete team effort that Lakers fans had been asking for. Here are just a few collected thoughts from game five:

• One thing the Lakers did much better was handle the aggressive double teams and traps of Denver. Especially when it happened to Pau Gasol, he had been kicking it out for a three, which the Laker guards had been mostly missing. Tonight it was Kobe trapped in the corner passing to Gasol single-covered in the post. Or, if Gasol was doubled in the post he could hand off to the cutter going right by him. The Lakers moved without the ball when there was a double, and that led to layups.

And, that is something that can happen in Denver. That was not about friendly home rims, it was about effort and willingness to take the punishment to be the aggressor.

• Reed added these thoughts about Kobe:

When Denver went up 7 in the third, I expected (and wanted) Kobe to take over. But he just calmly made the right play, play after play, chipping away and putting immense pressure on Denver to defend our length inside while overdefending Kobe. And what an advantage length is – we controlled the paint at both ends with it in the fourth quarter.

Kobe continues to prove that he is the preeminent closer in the game. Every time down he knew the double was coming, but brilliantly let the full trap come as far out as possible – all to give the other 4 as long as possible to beat 3. A lesser player would have skipped the ball out as soon as the double started. But he is a Man, directing and inspiring his teammates as a true leader – telling Pau and Odom to make plays and putting them in a position to do so. He is everything Henry (Abbott) thinks that he is not.

Home court is the single biggest factor of the rest of the playoffs. Our role players just don’t play well on the road. It kills our execution and puts too much pressure on Kobe and Pau. But at home they do just enough. For that reason I want Orlando if they advance notwithstanding the matchup issues.

• Darius added these thoughts.

Tonight was a call to arms and our veterans answered. Fish came out early very aggressive and made some plays when it looked like this game could get away from us. Odom played his best game since the Utah series and showed why so many of us support him as a player and as a teammate (I mean, bad back and all – he banged on the block, stayed assertive even when things went against him, and played with real energy even though he played almost the entire 2nd half. Man I love that guy – and when he’s on his game he’s such a difference maker).

And Pau! Understated stat line for his impact on the game. The blocked shots, the great skip passes out of those P&R’s, his interior passing, his offense…just a very strong game. I distinctly remember a play where Pau was trying to get Kobe the ball with under 10 seconds on the clock and Kobe was denied well and then Kobe just told Pau “take it!”. Pau proceeded to attack off the dribble get bumped and flip up a shot that fell. That may have seemed lucky, but he was aggressive and he was rewarded. Which ultimately was the theme of the night — our aggression paid off.

The other key to me was Phil. Coached a great game and pulled all the right strings tonight as almost everything worked. Stayed with Odom and LO delivered. Went to WOW and he gave us a real spark. Didn’t extend the rotations in the 2nd half as Sasha and Farmar didn’t get off the pine (or at least I don’t remember them playing). He stayed with the guys that were performing and it got us the win.

Also, Denver is a tough, tough team. I give them credit. They play hard and have a truly explosive team. Melo has also elevated himself so much in my eyes. I already held him in high regard, but at this point he’s just as dominant as any other scorer in the league and his defense has really raised a level. He’s just supremely talented.

In the 4th quarter, we had a stretch where we forced 4 straight turnovers. In game 4, we only forced 9 total. Tonight, we extended our defense, were much more aggressive in extending our SSZ and our backline defenders were more aware of cutters behind them trying to sneak into the gaps. This led to deflections, forced passes right to us, and then Denver holding the ball and forcing shots against the shot clock. Tremendous effort on D in that closing quarter.

• These thoughts are from Snoopy 2006

When Nene went out with foul trouble, we did an amazing job of using the PnR to open up the floor for other players, doing a great job of swinging the ball across the floor and getting the Nuggets scrambling on D. (Also Pau/Lamar did a great job of getting deep post position on these plays). When Nene came back in, the effectiveness of the PnR dropped drastically (although he quickly left with 6 fouls). I loved Phil’s call (and Kobe’s) of abandoning the PnR when it wasn’t working as well, and running the ball through Pau in the post. Adaptability is a key.

• These final thoughts come from Scot:

Just got back from the game. All I can say is thank you ShanWOW. The building was nervously quiet for 2 1/2 quarters. After the WOW dunk, Staples was electrifying and LOUD for the rest of the game. Defensive energy ramped up exponentially. One play indeed can truly change the course of a game (a season?). And of course, props to the “good” Lamar, and to Kobe for playing a smart and unselfish game.

211 responses to Now that was the Lakers Team I Remember

  1. 143 – Great post Chris J. You’re the first I’ve found who views NBA history the way I do.

    I want to be clear about 1 thing, though. I think it is pretty hard to argue that any 2 guard comes close to MJ. His size, athleticism, dedication, intensity, nerve–just amazing.

    In the end, basketball is so cool because players have so many nuances. Kobe’s skill is unparallelled. LeBron’s size, speed, talent and personality make him the permanent MVP in my book–much like Shaq 10 years ago. Steve Nash is a joy to watch and does things nobody else can do. Magic. Bird. Bernard King. Dominique. Worthy. McHale’s up-and-under. Barkley. Dream. Stockton. Chris Paul. All these guy are “best” in some way.

    I love basketball.


  2. I just read Bill Simmons’ article about the NBA officiating. I have to agree that the officiating has been very inconsistent in these playoffs. LeBron James gets any call he wants. All he has to do is put his head down and go to the basket.

    I personally think the NBA should implement a challenge rule – Each team gets 1 challenge per game which you can only begin to use with 2 minutes remaining in the game. I think allowing teams too many challenges will slow down the game too much, but allowing teams an opportunity to challenge a big call within 2 minutes would do a lot in my opinion.

    Imagine Orlando being allowed to challenge whether Pietrius really fouled him with 4 seconds left in game 4 or the Lakers allowed to review whether JR Smith committed a violation on the jump ball.

    Either way, something has to be done about the officiating and based on what we’ve seen you can bet Denver is going to get all the calls in game 6


  3. Snoopy2006 (148): It’s a *blog*. It is not news, not even sports news. It is by definition one person’s thoughts on what he finds interesting. Frankly, I find the notion that Abbott “made up” Max out of whole cloth kind of loopy. Lots of Lakers fans have gotten tired of Kobe’s act. I play hoops with one every week. I just don’t get into that with him, because it’s a waste of time. But pretending those fans don’t exist, or that they wouldn’t e-mail Henry about it, is silly.

    As to Max’s arguments themselves, I find them about as convincing as you do. It is the classic thing: If you go into a situation looking for something to confirm your suspicion that Kobe is a self-serving egomaniac, you’ll find it. Kobe is not media-savvy enough to avoid providing that.

    I haven’t asked Henry what he thinks personally of Kobe. I suspect that he isn’t predisposed to think highly of him personally, but I really don’t know. I do know that he has written highly of Kobe’s talent. I didn’t see anyone complain about that here, or even mention it. But if you go into a situation looking for something to confirm your suspicion that Henry is a Kobe-hater, you’ll find it. Henry is not FB&G-savvy enough to avoid providing that (or he just doesn’t care).

    While I’m on the topic, I find something eerily similar between Max’s thoughts and the referee criticism. Both are self-serving. They both give the speaker street cred. No way I’m falling for Kobe’s act. I demand high-quality calls from the officials.

    Kurt’s right: There’s too much criticism of the officials on this forum, because it’s all too vague. I’ve seen lots of “the refereeing sucks worse than ever” and precious little “here’s what I’d like them to do better.” Even Game 5, which seemed to satisfy most people here, did not quite satisfy *every* last FB&G’er. Otherwise, the whole thing smacks of “In my day, the refereeing quality was *this* high.”


  4. 199- I agree. Bynum has been far too slow on his help, and when he does get over he hasn’t really learned to defend the shot without fouling. If he could just get over and contest without fouling he’d be a real defensive force.


  5. The officiating in the NBA has always been horrible. The reason it is more prominent now is because this year we have enjoyed hotly contested games in just about every round (except for the first two series with the Cavs).

    Nobody gives a rats @ss about oficiating in a blow out. But in a close game – everyone is a critic.

    Having said that, the Lakers must understand that the Nuggets will get the benefit of calls as they will be playing at home and, nevertheless, must keep their heads in the game and try to close this thing out tonight.


  6. You know what Rudy, I LOVE the challenge rule. A team should get two to three challenges a game and if the call isn’t overturned then they lose a timeout or it’s a technical foul.

    If they win the challenge then it’s a jump ball or you institute some kind of challenge possession arrow.


  7. j.d. (149): 1-Frankly, I thought he was *right* about that. Kobe has had lots of sequences where he dribbles the ball, and then takes a 22-footer. Not to say he doesn’t make many of those, but that is not the way to run the offense, and we’ve noticed that, too.

    2-Henry does *not* say, look how sad Kobe is at not getting a hand slap. What he *says* is, how sad is it that Shaq doesn’t slap him back. You can’t even see Kobe’s face. I actually wrote Henry back and said I thought it had nothing to do with Shaq dissing Kobe, just Shaq was just lost in the moment.

    In fact, Henry doesn’t even say that–he just quotes Jason Kottke saying it. You can make the point that that’s tacit endorsement, but the fact remains that Jason didn’t say that Kobe looked sad, either.

    3-Heh. Henry clearly does not like most Lakers fanboys.

    5-The only thing I find inflammatory about this is the title. The text–mostly written by Shelley Smith, not Henry–is about the Lakers deciding not to foul the Nuggets in kind. This is a problem?

    6-Do you really disagree with this? I find it totally disingenous of Kobe that he thinks we should buy his “I meant to do that” act. So yes, I would find it more refreshing if he just admitted that he didn’t have it all planned, that the team actually tried various things, and settled on what worked. That is the way that many problems get solved around the world. Maybe I wouldn’t have worded it the way Henry did, but I agree with the sentiment. I love Kobe’s game, I think he’s unfairly maligned, but this bit of him needing to show he was always in control is just tiresome.

    7-Actually I agree with you on this one. I didn’t see this particular clip, but I saw replays of the play, and I just don’t see anything controversial about the call. Could it have been a non-call? Sure. But I would have called that a foul.

    Look. There have been lots of times I have been frustrated with Henry, because we go back and forth, he makes a point, I make a point, and just when I think I’m about to convince him he might have made an error, he just stops replying. It’s annoying. I figure he’s concluding that I’m just acting on my biases. And I think he’s acting on *his* biases. But I see just as much bias in people railing on Henry here as I do in Henry himself. Henry’s post about Kobe’s artistry, his perfection, against LeBron’s rough-hewn reliance on size and power? I don’t see anybody mentioning that here. As I said, look for signs of his bias, and you’ll find them aplenty, because the Lakers are buzz, and Henry’s going to write a lot about them, both good and bad, both right and wrong.

    By your own account, you say this is relatively recent. Do you think it’s more likely that (a) Henry has recently changed his opinion of the Lakers, (b) Henry has recently lost his ability to hide his hatred of the Lakers, or (c) the Lakers are in the news more now, and they aren’t rolling as much as we’d like?

    Kurt gives even-handed criticism of the Lakers here, and we value him for it. But I get the distinct feeling that if Abbott said the same things, he’d be criticized for it. Too much bad rep. And there’s that Blazer fandom. 🙂


  8. This game was very encouraging for Lakers fans. The Lakers were playing like they had been playing all of the regular season. Everyone on the floor contributed to the victory and even Bynum played he had been playing. In my opinion, Bynum in the playoffs has been playing like he is 6’4″ but in this game, he used his height and build to his advantage and played with confidence. Kobe had a phenomenal game and did a great job of finding the open player. Boy I would do anything to watch these Lakers in the finals but tickets are nearly impossible to get and are incredibly expensive, even for nose bleed! I hate how ticketmaster rips you off with all of the surcharge fees. If anyone is interested in getting cheap tickets, lets join together and swarm for it at


  9. Kobe, in the interview with Cheryl Miller, said he thinks the league should go back to the rules of years past, because fouls are becoming too subjective.


  10. new post up — and remember a live blog tonight.


  11. Since LeBron drives like a fullback, wouldn’t it be nice to see someone tackle him linebacker style, just once?

    If nothing else, it would be CLASSIC highlight footage.