Now that was the Lakers Team I Remember

Kurt —  May 27, 2009

LAKERS
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.

Kurt

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211 responses to Now that was the Lakers Team I Remember

  1. It was nice to see the intensity tonight. The Lakers played a smart game and made good things happen, while Denver missed some open shots down the stretch. If that was the result of home court comfort for L.A. and road nerves for Denver, so be it. That’s why the Lakers played to be best in the west in the regular 82.

    Much like the Nuggets enjoyed on Monday, tonight we saw a bit of everything from everyone in this game. Aside from those already noted, credit to Ariza for some nice drives to the rim and smart offensive play; to Bynum for a solid first half scoring and for clogging the lane; and to Luke for giving Trevor a late breather while smartly running the pick and roll sets that L.A. used to break the game open.

    And while Odom did many praiseworthy things, let’s note that his effectiveness kicked in after Andersen blocked his two dunk attempts. After that, Lamar began to attack Andersen’s body before going up, rather than just trying to beat him to the rim.

    With the exception of Shannon’s big dunk off the Pau feed, going at the Birdman’s body first is the best way to take him out of Denver’s scheme. Same applies for Future Inmate No. 3456783, er, I mean Kenyon Martin.

    I hope to see more of that body attack on Friday, and hopefully we’ll get a Sunday evening with no NBA game with which to concern ourselves.

  2. Watching the Lakers in these playoffs has been like the movie Memento. They forget how to play and get stomped, then that makes them remember for the next game, then they forget again . . .

    Unfortunately, none of them have any space left on their bodies to tattoo reminders.

  3. Let’s not forget to give Bynum his due. He came out aggressive, got good post position down low, and made some strong moves to get our inside game established early. As usual, foul trouble (and not as usual: LO’s stellar play) was his undoing for second half playing time, so we might be tempted to forget his contributions, but he had a strong game for us. Let’s hope he keeps this up moving forward, we all know the immovable force that looms ahead in the Finals if we win one more game.

  4. yeah let’s go lakers…..beat denver this coming friday (saturday here in Philippines) gogogogogogo!!!! mabuhay ang pinoy!!!! go KOBE!!!!

  5. Great point about Phil coaching an excellent game. I’m a huge believer in Phil but even I was starting to wonder about the rotation and the (lack of) timeouts.

    Bynum is starting to look solid again. Now he just has to stay out of foul trouble – hopefully, he can give Gasol a few more minutes of rest.

    All in all, great win for the good guys.

  6. Great Post, when the Lakers are playing on all cylinders like this, they are very difficult to beat.

    “Never discourage anyone… who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” – Plato

  7. Lamar put on his focus cap and stepped up. Can’t miss those open layups. What a game! I think we will take the game in Denver if these Lakers show up. We’ll take every game left if these Lakers show up.

  8. how much pain is odom in? i saw him in the candy man interview sweating like a pig.. even in the game.. sweating so much he has to clean it on his shorts.. (wt#?) i also noticed him sort of skipping gingerly during timeouts and breaks.. kinda like afraid to put weight on one side.. back injuries are a real female dog.. think he’s channeling his inner-kobe?

  9. I say this sheepishly because it seems that I’m only bringing it up since we won. But the officiating was outstanding. They let the players play and didn’t bail out offensive players (Nene might think differently and frankly he has a valid point on his last 2-3 fouls). Hence we saw a lot of good blocks on both sides. I want to see the refs swallow their whistles in Denver like they did here. Not only were they the correct non-calls, but it made the game that much more enjoyable.

  10. I also thought it noteworthy that Kobe was 6-8 about midway through the third quarter. He didn’t make a single shot after that point.

    What he did do, though, was hoist up 5 contested, difficult, late-in-the-shot-clock attempts because he’s the Laker’s official “Bailout kid”. When Pau or Lamar or Ariza aren’t aggressive, they’ll hold the ball, wait until things get tense, and then pass it to Kobe. Kobe must create in four seconds with multiple defenders closing on him. It’s difficult to judge from statistics… Kobe actually had an efficient shooting night (when he had control of the offense).

  11. Now let’s hope for our ‘best road team’ to emerge.

    This was some tight rotations and great contribution from everyone; wonder if this will get Cleveland fired up enough to beat Orlando.

    Now I’m rooting for THAT series to go seven.

  12. I have very little confidence in this team. Denver is not that good and I still think they win the series. They will win game 6 and with all the pressure on the Lakers for game 7, they will wilt if the game is close at halftime. This is not Houston.

    If the Lakers have to hope that Lamar Odom shows up in a pivotal playoff game or series, they are not a championship team. Talent is great, but when it is not dependable, they will get beat in a seven game series. When he shows up, everyone else seems to play better, but this has become so infrequent that fans are going crazy.

    With a weak San Antonio, Dallas, and Phoenix, combined with Garnett being out for Boston, there will never be an easier time to win a title and the Lakers instead of taking advantage, are playing soft and inconsistently trying to give it away.

    I think once this season is over and there is no title and we have to deal with Kobe opting out, the fans will really get upset over what should have been.

    I hope I am wrong, but I dont see the Lakers winning a game 7 so they better step on Denver while they have a chance.

  13. Where can I find one of those sweet shirts some of the fans were wearing? Purple that said “Pau & Derek & Kobe & Lamar & Andrew”

    Where, oh where?

  14. #11 Lest we forget, Lamar and Trevor both took really hard fouls and spills in the Houston series. They are both still out there competing at a high level. They arent making excuses they are competing. I am appalled that as Laker fans we quit on our team so readily. If nothing else last night showed us that as the 6th man we truly do impact our team and they can thrive off of our energy and intensity. You want to call the team out? Well im calling you and all of the fans who are saying and acting like you out. This team is fighting to win an NBA championship. This is the time when we the 6th man stop vacillating, stop whining, stop pointing fingers and get behind our team. My god you people are amazing, you have a hang nail and you dont go to work, but you bash Lamar or whomever is playing through pain ,slumps, bad calls, out there giving their all. In the 4th quarter the 6th man finally showed up at a game. How about we start believing in this team and credit them for their hard work, for overcoming obstacles and for giving us a fantastic post season. We have been thrilled by Kobe, stunned by Trevors 2 steals, blasted out of our seats by shannons dunk last night. We see Lamar in the must game of the year for us play past the pain. Lets take a minute and be thankful that we have this team and not 30 others. Last year we cake walked to the finals and got pmpslapped, ok this year we are taking out lumps but we are growing as a team and are developing a champoins heart. Open your eyes people this is what it takes to be a champion.

  15. Great game.

    I wonder if the league will review Melo’s clothesline of Kobe? That should have been a Flagrant 1. I think it would have been called that way in the moment had Kobe fallen down. I am impressed that he did not. That shot would have knocked the great majority of players flat on their back.

    Nice to see the Bench Mob playing hard, and it was great to see WOW dunk on the Birdman.

    By the way: I am glad that the TrueHoop network has its address bar here. That means I need never visit the main site on ESPN.

  16. It was great to see Phil give WOW some quality PT when the game was on the line and he stepped up and made a difference…also, it is noted that the run came with Luke on the floor, who played his best ball of the playoffs (and in quite some time)…I don’t remember seeing that lineup too often, but it was definitely clicking, so perhaps it is the magical lineup that Phil has been searching for (KB24, Pau, LO, Luke, WOW)…

  17. I second the praise refereeing – they let them play and were very consistent. For every Melo drive to the hoop that had uncalled contact, Kobe had a drive that didn’t draw a foul.

    And based on the precedent that the league has set with flagrants, that Melo clothesline was certainly deserving. A horizontal windup and swipe at neck level? come on…

  18. Mr. Best,
    This Denver team is a great team. After 5 games, I don’t see how anyone can think otherwise. Both teams are simply evenly matched. For the most part it’s not soft play or lack of effort. It’s been inconsistent play from everyone not named Kobe or Pau, poor execution, and lets say questionable lineups. If the Lakers are better than Denver, it’s only by a little bit. We’re all going to find out in the next 3 days. I’ve thought this is a 7-game series from the jump and I’ve seen nothing to sway me. HCA gets us game 7 in LA. Have faith and hope for the best.

    About LO, I’m one of the biggest critics of him, so I understand. I detest his inconsistency over the years and I disagree with PJ continuing to rest our team success on his effectiveness. However, none of it matters now. It’s all on hiatus, cause we’re just too close. The only thing that matters is getting wins. It’s pretty simple, if LO can produce again in game 6, we have a chance to close them out. If not, get ready for game 7. And if he has 3 more effective games in him this season, I like our chances to win it all.

  19. What a great TEAM closeout last night. There were a lot of great things, but most importantly the role players played well. Hopefully they can carry that to Denver as we really need to close this team out and not have a game 7. Too many things can happen, now is the time.

  20. 3ThreeIII:

    Not only should that have been a flagrant, but that was clearly an “above-the-shoulders” foul, that (until tomorrow) is a black-letter, automatic, one-game suspension.

    How will the league explain letting Melo play tomorrow after that McHale-esque clothesline? Is it because Kobe acted so tough and composed after the foul and stayed on his feet? Is it because Melo was so apologetic after the play?

    I don’t want Melo to sit game 6, I want us to win against their best…I take that back, I’d love to see Melo sit, but his inevitable appearance in game 6 will only add fuel to the “officiating is horribly inconsistent” drumbeat.

  21. I don’t like the Foul on Kobe by Melo, but, for some reason, I don’t think it was intentional. And I’m glad Kobe didn’t try to sell it either.

    It’s a Kobe-Melo showdown, as I don’t think we’re going to see the Kobe-Lebron showdown (and it ain’t Kobe who’s not showing up :D ).

    BTW, you got to love that Kobe is getting props about his performance in gave 5, over Lebron’s performance in recent games simply because he scored less points!

  22. I loved Lamar’s game. However, it only points up the real problem with Lamar. You never know when he will come to play hard.

    For those who expect Lamar to now get it going for the remainder of the Laker games — good luck!

    This is Lamar. That is why he should be the #4 player and the one coming off the bench. There is no way a team can depend on him on any kind of a regular basis.

  23. 12. (And others who asked about Odom), if you had a swollen bruise on your back the size of an orange that made it hurt to walk, you’d be in bed all day. The guy deserves some slack and some kudos for coming out and playing. If this were the regular season (or even the first round) he’d be sitting.

    As for George Best (a comment that does not live up to the moniker), I will never understand fans who need to live in the negative. My god man, you’re team won 65 games and now is ahead in the conference finals 3-2 and all you can do is complain? That is just sort of sad and pathetic. Things are certainly not perfect, the playoffs have certainly unearthed questions to be dealt with in the offseason. But your team just played its best game of the playoffs and now is on the brink of making the finals. If you can’t enjoy that, what can you. It is the journey that is the fun part, not the destination.

  24. Perpetual Motion.
    Get that man some more Candy!
    Odom was the key.

  25. Where did this candyman nickname come from?

  26. Yes, Odom is inconsistent. He often makes boneheaded plays, sometimes shies away from the moment. But as Kurt said you have to give the guy some credit for playing hurt. From some of the comments from his teammates, the guy is in a lot of pain but he is playing through it. He did the same thing a few years ago when he needed shoulder surgery but just played through it (and played pretty well too).

    What I find kind of interesting is that the team as a unit has kind of taken on Odom’s personality. They are inconsistent (sometimes from quarter to quarter) sometimes they shy away from contact and defer to others (Kobe), but when they are focused man they are good.

  27. wiseold goat. Odom has a serious sweet tooth and before a game, after the media is kicked out of the locker room (45 minutes before tipoff), sometimes before, he would spread in front of him just a ton of candy that he would start to eat. Pregame ritual. Never saw how much he ate but he has a Halloween bag’s worth. And he shares with teammates.

  28. I thought that game was BY FAR the best refereed game of the series. I love the fact that the refs swallowed their whistles in the 4th and didn’t bail out anyone going to the hole just looking to get fouled (i.e Melo, Kobe).

    Refs need to put that game in some referee 101 class on how to let players decide the outcome of playoff games.

  29. agree 100% with everything in Kurt’s post. Every time I have some thought/observation percolating in my head, I come here and see someone — usually one of the main commenters — has said it much more cogently and concisely than I ever could, so I end up not having to say anything. I guess I don’t need to say THIS either :) Just want to give my appreciation.

    ——-

    anyway, did anybody see Lebron getting hit by the ball he dunked himself and acted like he got whacked with a 2×4 b/c he thought someone’d hit him? did that make the espn highlight? no doubt Lebron would’ve gotten Melo thrown out for that foul that didn’t even knock Kobe to the floor.

    ——-

    It seems to me these two teams are so closely matched and it comes down to one particular stretch where one team makes a decisive break. Which is why I hope the Lakers take it in Denver. This game was the first where I feel like they’re playing with some kind of a form, but who knows how they’ll come out in game 6 and a game 7 would be too dicey.

    Does LO have one more in him? The Lakers need to put an acupuncturist or round the clock masseuse or something on the poor guy. (how does LO still have any teeth with all that candy he eats? what’s his blood sugar like? and dude, you’re a millionaire, eat better candy!)

    ——–

    I’m rooting for ORL tonight b/c I think this Lakers team really needs the HCA, even if they may possibly match up better vs CLE and CLE is looking much more vulnerable. This is not the same team that won back to back against CLE and BOS on the road.

    ——–

    Sasha made a shot! It’s paradoxical, but it seems Sasha’s been trying to get out of his slump by making harder shots. Off the dribble, leaning to his left, hurried shots, in transition. He should only take wide open spot up jumpers until he gets back into form. and ever after.

  30. The Melo block on Kobe was just a good clean foul. He got ball and then on the follow through he got Kobe at the shoulders. I’m glad that the refs didn’t call it a flagrant. They were just letting them play.
    The Nuggets fans (and coach and players) are going to be complaining about how the refs were out to get them, but the fact that they didn’t call that flagrant on Melo really contradicts that in a real way.

  31. This is a nice video describing LO’s sweet tooth

    http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/video?id=4210030

  32. Dude, no wonder LO is so up and down. Have you ever had to watch little kids on Halloween or Easter when they get loaded up on sugar? Random craziness and lethargy alternating with each other. The mystery is now solved.

  33. #30
    I agree….although it was harder than the AB rescinded flagrant on Anderson.

  34. Seriously, I don’t mean to be annoying, but I’ve been searching everywhere for those Pau & Derek & Kobe & Lamar & Andrew t-shirts but can’t find them. Were they only sold at the Staples Center.

    Some of you guys have to live in LA, right??

    Thanks for any help.

  35. Play of the game was Pau setting the back court screen on Jones. Absolutely set the tone for the team.

  36. #34

    They definitely used to sell those Beatles mock shirts at Staples. Most of the stuff sells out at the last game of the season as everything goes on sale for “fan appreciation” night.

  37. #36 Thanks. I’ll keep looking. Go Lakers!

  38. Melo’s foul on Kobe was just a good hard playoff foul. It was a flagrant zero.

    The defense from the middle of the third on was a thing of beauty. Where has that been all playoffs? That’s the defense I remember from early in the year. One play sticks out in my mind in particular, and it’s a weird one because it was actually a Kleiza made three, but even though he was wide open and the defense had basically broken down two Lakers just went flying at him. Even though in the end ( on that play ) they were beat they didn’t give up. That was the kind of effort that got them all the stops.

  39. Great point, T34. When Pau layed Jones out on that pick in the backcourt I got pretty excited. I thought it was a new wrinkle PJ put in. Unfortuately, I didn’t see that again. That’s the type of play I like to see.

  40. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 9:32 am

    I thought game 4 was the most predictable loss in the world given how exhausted everybody looked after game 3, but I’m optimistic for game 6. I don’t know if that’s reasonable, but I’m more confident that they’ll be able to drudge up just enough energy to pull this out. If they can do that, maybe they get more than a day’s rest before the finals…

  41. One of the best games I’ve seen this Laker team play in the post-season.

    As everyone has said, the energy level was key, and it was great to see everyone stepping up.

    I have no clue how LO can play like that with an injured back. I once had a contusion on my back and I spent 2 weeks either in bed or in therapy.

    I do think that the Lakers caught a few lucky breaks last night, but no one really plays a perfect game. There were some possessions where the Lakers over-passed, or stopped moving, and we ended up going too late into the shot clock.

    I think that Pau was tremendous with his passing and his defense, and I loved Kobe’s leadership. Pau wanted the ball in the post, but kept stepping out for the high P&R, which wasn’t working, and I loved Kobe telling him to go back to the paint. Not being critical of Pau, but rather pleased to see the recognition by Kobe that what they had been doing wasn’t working anymore and being the coach on the floor.

    I think the officiating was pretty good. It was very even (35 free throws for the Lakers, 30 for the Nuggets, and the Nuggets were intentionally fouling toward the end). There were some bad calls (at least 2 on Nene were of the “questionable” variety), but overall it was called pretty evenly – and I greatly enjoyed watching the players being forced to play through the end of the 4th quarter rather than it turning into a whistle-fest.

    My number one complaint about the Lakers was their loss of focus on attacking the Nuggets in the third quarter. I said it during the live chat (practically flooding poor Kurt and Jeremy with comments to moderate), but the Lakers had Denver with 4 team fouls at the 8 minute mark of the third, and Denver ended the quarter with 4 team fouls. The Lakers obviously were able to tie the game up during this span, but they were unable to start their parade to the free throw line. I’m not sure whether to credit Denver for keeping LA off the line or LA for a lack of recognition or execution in getting to the line for 8 minutes.

    In the upcoming game I believe that the Lakers can win, but I don’t think they will. I think they know what they have to do. They need to be aggressive. They need to post up Gasol and Bynum. They need to get into the bodies of Anderson and Martin, which is the key to getting into their heads.

    I really hope that LA can pull it out and close down Denver in game 6, but I am utterly confident that if they don’t, they will take care of business in game 7.

  42. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 9:40 am

    About Odom aka “Candyman.” Ordinarily that’s a great nickname, especially given the blazers he wears. However, the nba has had a “Kandiman” in recent years. In fact Odom was his teammate. And as good as the monicker is, I don’t need any sort of Olowakandi juju infecting Odom. Seriously.

  43. #14, Dom,

    Whoa there, easy now. I’ve only seen one fan in this thread who has quit on his team (we’ll get to you in a minute). The rest of us seem pretty stoked to me.

    As a fan it seems perfectly fair to me that I can be very frustrated over the fact that it took my team four whole games to get their play up to a level that makes them a serious contender for the Conference title. I know what they can do! I know they can out-execute anyone out there, I know they can stop Lebron, out-hustle Celtics and Nuggets alike, I know they are group of champions, with heart, energy, and above all tremendous skill. So every time I see them play below their level I want to kick them in the proverbial pants for trying to coast through the playoffs, because you can’t do that at this level. Beyond the first round you have to fight for every point and every rebound, and so it frustrates me when it looks like they don’t.

    If I can’t vent my frustration here, with a group of fellow Laker fans, who no doubt share at least some of my feelings in this matter, then where can I vent it?

    And staying home from work over a hangnail? Speak for yourself, wimp! :P

    #12, George Best,
    Shame on you, sir. Yes, it is disheartening and frustrating that it took our Lakers four whole games to get their play up to championship level. Here’s thing that makes me optimistic though: They got there. We may not win Game 6, and if we do it will not be easy, but if it goes to a Game 7 I know that our team will come out and play the way they did last night and if they lose Game 7, they will at least lose fighting. I don’t think they will lose if it comes to a Game 7. Champions don’t let themselves be intimidated, and when they are cornered they fight like rabid dogs. You can think whatever you want about this team, they have the potential and ability to win it all, and I believe that in the end, they will.

    In addition to all of the above, last night’s game was one of the best of the playoffs so far, and if you weren’t able to enjoy even that, then I just feel sorry for you.

  44. With regards to my comment currently stuck awaiting moderation: I’m sorry it’s a bit late. One of the hazards of checking this blog from work–they actually expect me to get work done while I’m here.

  45. Did anybody notice Ariza boxing out Andersen to help Odom/Pau grab a rebound? He completely boxed him out-of-bounds and I loved it! Especially seeing birdpoop’s expression!!

  46. That was a great all around game for everyone, we had more than two or three guys get double digits, and kobe saved up alot of energy. Like I have said before big time energy spark by Shannon, what a huge find…..Do you think he should get the start over Fisher….I wrote an article about this, let me know what you think….

    http://kaliphornya.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/who-should-start-fish-or-brown/

  47. 40. From my understanding, the finals are scheduled to start next thursday and the wcf is scheduled to end by sunday if it goes 7 games. So, whichever team makes it out of the wcf, they should get a layoff of a minimum of 3 days.

  48. 40. pw. The finals start on June 4th, so you are correct. They will get a rest before the finals even if they do not win tomorrow.

  49. Speaking of the finals, does anybody know the schedule? I’m getting married next Saturday so I’m hoping there is no game.

    /preemptive bad husband

  50. T34-
    Improvise. I got hitched on a New Years Day Sunday outside of Boston. The priest had a radio in the vestry.

  51. T34,
    Marry a devoted Laker fan, and there won’t be a problem ;)

  52. T34: You’re okay. Here’s the finals schedule:

    Thursday, June 4, 6 PM: Game 1
    Sunday, June 7, 5 PM: Game 2
    Tuesday, June 9, 6 PM: Game 3
    Thursday, June 11, 6 PM: Game 4
    Sunday, June 14, 5 PM: Game 5
    Tuesday, June 16, 6 PM: Game 6
    Thursday, June 18, 6 PM: Game 7

  53. My fiancee is Jewish, so we have to break the glass after we’re officially married. Anyway, the glass is being wrapped in purple and gold napkins, so the Lakers will have some good luck come Sunday.

  54. He eats a ton of candy 45 mins before tipoff??? that’s ridiculous! can’t believe our crack training staff hasn’t stopped him yet haha

  55. I agree with most of this post, with the exception of Reed’s view on Kobe in the 4th: it seemed like he kept dribbling on the pick and roll, attempting to split, and losing the ball–then getting upset; it was tough to tell if he was mad at himself, the officials, or his teammate setting the pick. Only after he stopped repeatedly turning over the ball did he finally start distributing the ball.

    I agree that he did provide space for other players due to the traps, but it was frustrating watching him dribble excessively while Smith was hawking him. Perhaps this was his plan…

    Anywho, nice win. Great to see LO and I would love to see Brown get many more of Fish’s minutes…

  56. Bill Simmons has a very good column today. (Hey, it’s a week of pleasant surprises!)

    http://tinyurl.com/lnhdnj

  57. Enoch, is that schedule Pacific Time? If not, I may miss the first part of every single one of them :(

  58. Coffee is For Closers May 28, 2009 at 10:38 am

    T34 – set the precedent early. actually, i keed, you’re screwed if there’s a game that night. Besides, enjoy your wedding, its a once (or twice, three) in a lifetime thing.

    I like Lakers chances Friday if they can keep it close at the half. I can still see Denver cracking if they get pushed to the edge. You saw a little of that last night with Nene getting T’d up with the game very much undecided. In crunch time, if you can take melo and billups out and make the rest of the team beat you, i’m not sure the rest of that team can live up to the moment.

    Was it me, or did Denver design a play for a 3 point shot after every timeout last night?

  59. The refereeing was lot better this game – there were still some terrible calls (and non-calls), but for the most part they were evenly distributed. No more touch-fouls called on one end and not the other. No more automatic 2 FTs for the Nugs every time they stepped in the key. That’s all I ask – just call it consistent, and call it both ways.

    Interesting to look at the +/- stats for the game and notice that despite leading much of the game, Melo, KMart, and Billups all had negative stats, showing that our big run early in the 4th came against their best players.

  60. I third (or fourth) the notion that this was one of the better-officiated games of the series. No cheap calls inside either way — both teams were driving and not getting calls.

    So, naively, I was surprised that Karl/Melo/KMart were complaining about the calls after the game. I’m starting to get a 2002 Kings whiny vibe off of this team… someone call Ralph Nader!

    That 6th foul on Nene was very close, but after watching it on replay a few times I think that was a good call. He didn’t just slide over, he moved his legs towards and into Pau. Very similar to the end-of-game call against Pietrus guarding LeBron, which was also a close but good call.

  61. Is it just me, or do any of you guys also get annoyed by Henry Abbott’s childish anti-Kobe rants on his ESPN “airspace”. At least Bill Simmons is somewhat forthright about his dislike and has regional affiliations. Henry Abbott always attempts to play it out like he’s just an “objective spectator” from the supreme realms of objective journalism, while it’s blatantly obvious that he just doesn’t like Kobe and will never give him credit for anything. Oh then again he’s not a real sports journalist just a blogger. But he should not be given space on ESPN if all he does is spew childish hatred towards one player. His recent “Kobe Bryant – Still Distant…” is just a joke. He probably made up this “Max” character too.

  62. They didn’t show replays of Nene’s 5th foul which was probably a cheapie, but I thought his 6th foul was legit. He guessed correctly where Pau was going, but flopped before there was any real contact and in doing so ended up tripping Pau. Just not a smart move by Nene and he got punished for it.

  63. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 10:59 am

    55- yeah, Simmons’s article was very good today. What the officiating problem comes down to, as he points out is simple- How has the league failed so badly at bringing in a steady influx of new reffing talent. There must be a market of former college and pro players who want to stay connected to the game, have the eyesight and stamina to do a decent job, yet the ranks of refs stays incredibly stagnant. There is no excuse for this. Reffing isn’t some sort of esoteric discipline only those of rare birth can pick up. So why the problems here?

    If the issue is that the game is too fast- put a 4th ref on the court. But for the lack of incoming talent, this is a no-brainer. You might say an extra ref will mean more calls, but it doesn’t really. It means an extra poair of eyes to tell whoever made a bad call that there was no contact, or that JR Smith just ran a slalom through every player in a jump circle before the ref had tossed the ball.

    Otherwise, lets take this to the next level. Instead of just reviewing and changing EVERY technical and Flagrant foul (and I would love to see a list compiled of every T and flagrant called in the games v. the post-game revisions. This postseason has probably set a record as unbeatable as Rasheed Wallace’s Technical Foul mark), let’s review and revise EVERY call after the fact.

    I mean if they’re going to insult our intelligence by revising plays that might have affected the games, just pony up the whole thing. “Nene’s stat line has been revised so that he only had 4 fouls and was not disqualified” or “Matt Harpring’s stats this season have been revised to reflect that he should have fouled out of every game in which he appeared.”

    Yes it would piss off the fans, but at least it would be honest.

  64. Yeah, I agree about Nene’s 6th. He tried to draw the charge on Pau with a flop and forced the refs to call the block instead, since there was little (not saying none) contact from Pau before he went down. A really, really dumb thing to do when you have 5 fouls–play some damn defense and foul out like a big boy.

  65. Classic game by Kobe, I loved his willingness to take the double team and let the rest of the squad play 4-3. And I have to admit that I’m still worried about Fisher. He hit a couple shots in the first half but for the most part they were not good looks (he missed a wide open three to start the game that was a very good look and he hit a pull up midrange J that was also good but several of his attempts were long contested twos that happened to go in but are the worst percentage shots in basketball). The bottom line is that he should not be taking nine shots in a half unless nearly all of them are layups or open threes. In light of Shamwow’s fantastic defensive turn on Billups which was the key to the win IMHO and Fisher’s poor play to close out the game (the play where he passed up a three and then missed the rim on a long two was just brutal) I am still concerned about the number of mintes he’s getting. Yes, I should be concetrating on the awesome win, not worrying but there it is.

  66. j.d.,

    The problem with that is that if Nene had been in the game, it may have changed the outcome by giving Denver a big guy in the paint.

    Since the league rescinded Howard’s T, should we now advocate that they take away the point that Cavs got from the free throw, since that free throw should never have been made? If Melo’s foul on Kobe is upgraded to a Flagrant One, should we give the Lakers another point, since we all know that Kobe does not miss 4th quarter free throws?

    Yes, because that would be the consistent thing to do. But when we do that, we have really taken the outcome of the game and put it in the hands of the referees, and started on the slippery slope towards no longer being a competition, just an exhibition of amazing physical specimens… it could be in the same branch as synchronized swimming and figure skating in future Olympics.

  67. 56, i agree about our chances friday, we must be close at the half to put pressure on them – all i ask is that the lakers play a close, hardly-fought contested game…. i will be REALLY MAD if i see another flip-flop lack of effort, “we don’t need to win this” game…
    denver is a good team and we all knew this series would be close but there is absolutely no reason the lakers cannot play well on the road and make them close games…they should not be getting blown out on the road as in game 4, if you notice the nuggets were IN all the games in LA and had a chance to win
    we must fix this road game problem NOW. I do feel we can win a game 7, but each consecutive series our margin of error gets smaller and smaller..
    I also agree with mark jackson when he said “DEFENSE IS not a sometimes thing” – no excuse for lax defense on the road…..
    I really hope game 6 is not a denver-favored foul fest but would not be surprised if it is – the nba will want game 7..

  68. Anybody see Henry Abbott’s post on Truehoop regarding Lamar’s And1 dunk?

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-40-151/That-s-a-Foul-on-Chris-Andersen.html

    It looks like Henry has lost his ability to “subtley” take jabs at the Lakers during the course of the playoffs.

    GOOD LORD.

  69. Another interesting statistical nugget – I went back and looked at the points in the paint for each game, since it seemed to be such a big factor in both games 4 and 5. And what I found surprised me quite a bit. Paint-points were *only* a big factor in games 4 and 5. In fact, in the first 3 games of the series, the winning team had *less* points in the paint, sometime significantly so (as in game 2, when the Nuggets won despite getting outscored in the paint 38-52).

    For the series, it’s just about dead-even: the Lakers are averaging 42.8 and the Nugs 42.4. The winning team in each game averages 43.6, while the loser 41.6, but that is skewed a bit by the last two games, where the winning team had a +18 margin in each game. Just measuring the numbers by the first 3 games, the winning team averaged 37.3 p-n-p, while the loser averaged 46 p-n-p.

    That’s right – the losing team in each of the first 3 games was a +9 overall in paint-points. That’s so counter-intuitive that it almost makes my head explode.

    As with all stats, it can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. Maybe the team with less PnP got more FT attempts because their inside attempts translated to more fouls, or maybe they just shot better from the perimeter, and that’s why they won. But that doesn’t explain it either.

    In Game 1, the Lakers had less PnP, shot 11 less FTs, and were outshot 48.6% to 41.1%. Looking at that box score, I don’t know how we won (except that I watched the game, and I know that we stole that one on the offensive glass, where we were +10, which translated into 16 more FGA and 1 more FGM, which is the difference in the score).

    In Game 2, the Lakers were a +14 PnP, outshot the Nuggets from both 2 and 3, were a +1 on the boards, and lost. Which I guess corresponds with the game, which is won that the Nuggets stole (in payback for Game 1, I suppose).

    Game 3 started to revert to form. The Lakers were outscored in the paint by 6, but were +14 in FTA, which leads me to believe they were trying to push it inside. And in Games 4 and 5, the winning team was not only +18 PnP, but also +9.5 in FTA (skewed a bit by the +14 FTA the Nugs had in Game 4).

    Not sure what this all means, other than that there are many ways to win a basketball game. And that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. ;)

  70. Way to go Lakeshow. Continue to play hard, determined and aggressive and there’s no other team in the league that can handle the purple and gold tsunami. Bynum I like what I saw. Be a deterrent in the lane, give the hard fouls to make the opponent think twice, and MOST IMPORTANTLY- Just like KB showed you during the timeout; park you rear in the paint and you’ll get your shots. 11 down and 5 more to go. This year’s championship we owe to Chick. Next year’s, we owe to the CELTICS.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWDCN-un2vE

  71. I was just thinking about the ECF, and wondering – what if the Cavaliers had brought in Shaq at the deadline? Remember, they had that deal on the table if they were willing to include Wally’s contract.

    Too many ‘what-ifs.’ It would have hurt them in the long run, but still, if you think about it just in terms of this series – Shaq would have helped them tremendously. At the very least, a big, strong body to give Dwight problems. But he was playing well, he could have scored on Howard as well as guarded him single coverage. (Of course, Shaq’s PnR defense is atrocious, but Big Z isn’t exactly great either). At the very least, another big body who could have swung such a tight series.

  72. Since we’re linking to ESPN anyway: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dime-090528

    I’m trying to link to No 8, where Eric Neel gives some major props to Lamar for playing the way he did, with his back injured like that. Soft? No heart? Far from it. Lamar was a true warrior last night, so it makes me happy to see him get some recognition for it.

  73. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 11:20 am

    63- That’s my point, how many of these revised calls might have changed the game? In game 4, Bynum’s Flagrant was rescinded while Dahntay Jones got one of his own. That’s 2 FTAs and 1 possession each foul, so a total of 4 FTA and 2 possessions flipped between teams. That didn’t affect the outcome, but that’s a huge difference.

    The league even admitted to a game altering mistake when it said a foul should have been called before Melo’s game winner of game 3 in the DAL-DEN game.

    If they’re going that far, I say go to the absurd extreme. A few games of that and they’ll be forced to step up and radically improve their situation.

  74. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 11:28 am

    65- yeah Henry’s on a tear with the Lakers, especially Kobe, lately. I’ve been trying to figure out what switch flipped to turn him into this. I don’t even understand his point with that post. Is it NOT a foul? Anderson jumps into Odom from the restricted area. How is that NOT a foul? Anybody remember a post with video devoted to any of Dahntay Jone’s greatest hits? Any mention of Carmelo’s clothesline? This play is the controversial one worthy of its own post?

    Then he posts a long exceprt from Denver with no real point except “Lakers and their fans are arrogant jerks and the refs cost Denver the game” in his bullets.

    I don’t know what’s gotten into him. It seems personal at this point. Maybe he gets more hits when Lakers fans are angry at him?

    At least when Simmons does it he admits that he just loves riling us up and will usually follow up with a reasoned explanation of his perspective.

  75. J.D. I get your point and Matt Harpring fouling out every game was pretty funny.

  76. The Dude Abides May 28, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Agree about Nene’s 6th too. Total flop, would have been a good no-call if he hadn’t tripped Pau while flopping. There is no way a big, strong guy like Nene would fall backward onto the floor like he’s been shot out of a cannon, after a willowy guy like Pau takes one step to his left and makes contact at half speed.

  77. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Carl Landry is chatting on espn right now. I thought his answer to this was hilarious:

    byron j. (houston tx): Hey Carl, if you were to pick a starting five team from the rockets all time roster, who would they be?

    Carl Landry: That’s tough! Yao Ming, Moses Malone, Clyde Drexler, Calvin Murphy and Hakeem Olajuwon.

    That is what you call a crowded front court. Hell, just throw Ralph Sampson in there for consistency’s sake!

  78. 63 Mimsy and 69 Jd

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2009/05/26/kobe-pau-%e2%80%9ccan-we-get-a-little-help-here%e2%80%9d/#comment-615371

    I made the same point a few days ago. if they are not going to call it in the game then they can pocket the rescindation (is there even a word like that?)

  79. Since officiating seems to be the prevailing topic of the day, I’ll get in on it. I think the officiating across the board is the absolute worse I’ve ever seen in the playoffs. That’s not an exaggeration for effect. While we benefited greatly last night from them keeping the whistles in their pockets, the refs were still terrible all game, for both teams.

    Anecdotally, there seems to be more wrong, missed, & inconsistent calls than ever. They range the full gamut of block/charge, loose ball, incidental contact, shooting, , make up calls, technicals, & flagrants. I’ve never seen the refs have this level of control over the outcome of these games. Yesterday people were actually asking who the refs would be for the game. And as Mr. Hastings said, the constant “after the fact” reviews make a mockery of the whole thing. They really have to find a way to make it better in future seasons, because this problem isn’t going away.

  80. I knew someone had said that before! Thanks lakergirl, I couldn’t remember who did. :)

    And you are absolutely right. If it’s not called in the game, it shouldn’t be called afterward either. The problem is of course that the calls made during the game are so inconsistent, so horrendous, and so over-all stupid that to let the most outrageous of them stand might lead to refs getting lynched by furious fans or bench players.

    Did you read that Simmons column on the refs? It was very good. I might link it on my blog, to help raising the stink he calls for. :)

  81. To Snoopy’s point, how many years of your team’s future do you sacrifice to win 1 title? I’d say 3 or 4 years is worth it. And if Cleveland loses this series, does anyone doubt they at least take a serious look at Diesel next year?

  82. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Lakergirl- I am impressed by both your insight and your ability to link to a specific comment!

  83. Not only did LO come up big, but we also won because Fisher was on the bench for an extended period.

  84. 74. I like the parts of the column when he was talking about the refs. The obligatory LeBron plug was a little over the top. That being said i’ve always like Simmons writing as long as it doesnt involve the lakers.

    I’m actually thinking of doing what he calls for. I watch the games anyway and what better way to use my engineering degree and matlab skills for some pretty graph generation…i’m getting giddy

  85. We need several of the numbers people to contribute to the listing of calls – as Simmons suggests – and put that out there on an independent website.

    If the effort is comprehensive the site will gets lots and lots of traffic and even the main media outlets won’t be able to avoid mentions the expanding database.

    If this happens the NBA will be forced to take some action – just to remain credible.

    We could call the database the NBA Officials Olympics, with a number of categories and groupings.

  86. 79. Jd, I’m not sure that entirely a compliment :)

  87. clutch,
    I actually doubt that. Shaq is nowhere near the player he used to be, and I also doubt he will contribute what Cleveland needs — a powerful and fast second scorer to play side-kick to Lebron. Also, Shaq wants to be the Alfa Male, but on Lebron’s team, that won’t happen. The Cavs locker room chemistry is too good right now to risk bringing in Shaq.

  88. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Another possible fix for the refs: The Foul Arrow.

    Like the jump ball arrow in college, except instead of alternating between the teams, who it points to will be randomly determined.

  89. Why does it feel like the ref issue becomes front page stuff more often after we win?

    In Game 4 there were 2 big blown calls that went against the Lakers. The missed Dahntay Jones flagrant and the Bynum a flagrant on Birdman the league later rescinded. That equals 2 lost possessions (2 fts for us and 1 bonus possession for them). In a close game, that can completely destroy momentum/flow. I didn’t hear anybody talk about that had on the game.

  90. Last line should read – I didn’t hear anybody talk about the impact that had on the game.

  91. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    82- No seriously, I consider myself computer savvy and don’t know how to do that.

    I get that the league is reviewing plays after the fact as a form of increased accountability that they promised after Donaghy (and the Rondo-Miller debacle), but the effect is just to highlight how shoddy the state of things is. The refs are clearly trying to call these things, but are failing miserably. The postgame revisions just confirm that something is broken.

    As it stands its like collecting detailed crime stats without hiring cops.

  92. Sometimes I really do not buy that Stern is so incompetent with regards to all matters officiating while he seems to on top of most of the other things in the league. My question is, does he have some incentive in retaining the same officials and maintaining status quo? Because it is natural for any organization to bring in fresh blood. And that is even more true for the NBA where the refs have to run around a lot. Although it was swept under the rug very adeptly by Stern and co., Tim Donaghy did come up with some rationale for what we are observing in the NBA.

    If indeed there are “company men” referees who are instructed by the referees to favor a particular team over the other, that would explain Stern’s unwillingness to let them go inspite of their incompetence.

    I know I am going to into conspiracy theory territory here, but does it really make sense for a league to keep going back to the same philosophy regarding officiating when the fans have been in uproar about officiating for the last 10 years. Can he not come out and say once that officiating in the NBA is a tough job but they are going to take the following steps to improve the situation? And then go ahead and come up with a plan to improve. Why did the NBA not sue Tim Donaghy for defamation?

  93. The problem with a list of bad calls is that many are so subjective that I suspect it would be very difficult to get a real consensus. What would be awesome is a website that linked a youtube clip of the disputed calls and allowed readers to vote on whether the call was right or not. There would be major selection bias issues but if there were a large enough sample size it could be really interesting.

    One thing I dislike about Simmons take on this topic is that he totally ignores evidence that is contrary to his thesis. For instance, he is constantly accusing Stern of assigning refs that are known to support the home team when he wants the home team to win, and vice versa. Yet, neither Bennett Salvatore or Dick Bavetta, who Simmons has named as the NBA’s go-to home refs for this tactic, were reffing the game last night (and I assume Simmons believes that the NBA wanted the Lakers to win Game 5). I can promise you if Salvatore was reffing last night’s game it would have been mentioned in Simmons’ article. He would have a lot more credibility on an issue that he clearly feels strongly about if he would be honest about the evidence.

  94. Mimsy-

    Simmons piece was generally good, which is something I seldom say in reference to him, but in the end his ever present and not-so-subtle gaps in objectivity are his undoing.

    He is a knowledgeable and frequently engaging writer. He is also a full on Celtics homer masquerading as a sports journalist. His fondess for the green is the root of his antipathy towards the Lakers and is the reason why he points out hacking on Melo but fails to point out the similar and in my view more egregious muggings Kobe has frequently received in the paint dyring the Denver series with no foul called. I can live with that but let’s not make Carmelo the poster child for Victims of NBA Refs Anonymous.

  95. 85 j.d. Hastings, ok…i’ll let you in on the trick :) . The date on this line (j.d. Hastings wrote on May 28, 2009 at 12:11 pm ) is a hyperlink. if you click on the date for any given comment, it changes the link in the address bar to point to that specific comment.

  96. Not Charlie Rosen May 28, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    The thing I saw last night that I loved the most was the trapping double-team on Kobe to try to stop the Kobe/Pau P/R (thank you so much for this Denver, please I can haz more?), and how we get out of it.

    Kobe just keeps backing up towards half-court, bringing both defenders with him; Pau, Odom or Luke creeps up to receive the outlet pass (usually Luke), and whichever of those three isn’t creeping heads right to the free-throw line (usually Odom), with the 4th guy heading deep in the block (usually Pau) and the 5th guy, Fish/WoW/Jordan/Sasha, sitting in the corner for the three.

    Once Kobe passes out of the trap (one of the few players who can do so with a higher percentage of completions than turnovers), you’ve basically got a power-play…players at the wing, free-throw line, block and corner, all spots where they can either take a high-percentage shot or drive, and only 3 defenders to try to rotate. And this kind of thing can only work with big men who can handle and pass, which is why I love seeing it–it maximizes one of the primary advantages we have over most other teams.

    We used this a lot earlier in the season–especially against the Celtics, where it was Odom at the free-throw line, his defender came out to guard him, leading to several beautiful big-man-to-big-man passes to Pau under the basket for a dunk–and it’s an amazing way that they can turn a P/R double-team trap into essentially a half-court fast break.

    That’s what I think turned the corner for us last night…yes our defense just clamped down, and Odom and Pau were a beast under the basket, but as everyone from us to the coaching staff has noted, the team usually pulls their defensive intensity from their offensive success. And when Denver started trapping Kobe off the P/R, and the ball started whipping around the basket faster than they could catch up, our entire “flow” ratcheted up another notch.

    So, yeah, I wouldn’t want to see an entire game of that (Denver eventually stopped trapping off the P/R, taking the power play away from us, and thankfully we adjusted right back and went to Pau in the post), but I’m praying that we see 8-12 minutes of Kobe/[random guard we hope is hot]/Luke/Odom/Pau on the floor, with Denver trapping…especially if it comes in critical moments in the 2nd and 4th quarters.

  97. That was the inspired Lakers that I do remember from the very first stretch of the season. If they can play the rest of the games like we did that second half, they will win the whole thing. If they don’t, they very well may falter.

    Where does Bynum rank in his draft class: http://therookiecontract.com/

  98. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Where did Bill Bridges get the stats on ref’s home v. away preference before game 4? That seems to be exactly what Simmons was asking for.

    Similarly, we have the list of bad calls for Techs and Flagrants, since they do revise them. Why hasn’t anybody compiled those?

  99. j.d., if the NBA goes to a possession arrow for fouls, I’m sure I would finally be done. That arrow is completely ridiculous.

    Mimsy,
    I think Shaq played incredibly well the last 1 and a half years considering it looked like his career was over. You’re right about the alpha male thing and I’m not sure he would fit there, but I do think several teams take a look. Especially teams that are close. Phoenix is definitely going to try to move that contract.

    And we’ll see how great that Cavs chemistry is tonight. I haven’t seen any picture taking since they finally got some pressure.

  100. One of the issues that a lot fans ignore is just how hard it is to accurately officiate an NBA game (or any basketball game for that matter). Don’t get me wrong I agree that the quality of officiating is far from stellar and I do believe that certain measures and policy adjustments can be put in place to improve the officiating.

    But basketball is an extremely fast paced game with a lot of body contact – some allowed and some not. The fact of the matter is, for a ref on the court without the benefit of slow-motion and different camera angles, it is extremely hard to make the correct call all the time. Especially fouls on drives to the basket are extremely tricky. There are so many different factors that should be accounted for – whether the shoulder was lowered, whether arms were used excessively to clear space, where the defenders feet were, who initiated the contact, the angle of the defenders arms etc… And remember all of this is happening in a matter of seconds. That’s why refs often times just have to draw from a set of experience-based heuristics, say that if I guy was going for a dunk and the defender jumped late in the restricted area but half-folded to duck, but at the same time the dunker was using a little arm to clear space, they’ll go ahead and reward the dunker. The refs are implicitly making probabilistic judgments – that when that type of contact occurs 90% of the time the correct call is the defensive foul.

    Often times when you slow down plays and you’re a fan of the losing team, you’ll feel cheated but that’s the nature of the game. Also I think that’s one of the reasons why Stern likes to stick with the vets. You can’t always rely on “seeing” the correct play. Sometimes you have to rely on your experience and knowledge of the game to say that in this and this situation I give the benefit of doubt to the player that was taking this action and so forth.

  101. I agree with Simmons that the officiating in the NBA is reaching a crisis point. One major change I would make that Simmons suggested is the NBA needs to create some type of disincentive for players who drive to the rim at full speed with the intention of drawing contact to get a foul. When Lebron or Wade are going full speed right into a player, should they get rewarded for that? At least Kobe tries to finish at the rim, but some players don’t even bother doing that.

  102. Another thing they could do to speed the pace of the game is to increase the number of fouls before the bonus to six or seven, that way we don’t see free throw shooting contest the last four minutes of every quarter.

  103. I had asked about the ref crew yesterday, and while I wish I didn’t have to it’s almost like asking about the weather prior to an NFL game. You don’t kick a field goal from 45 yards when facing a strong wind, and you don’t drive wildly into the lane looking for a call when Javie is the baseline ref.

    Covers.com has the stats for referee “homer” tendencies: http://www.covers.com/pageLoader/pageLoader.aspx?page=/data/nba/statistics/2008-2009/referee_ats.html

    Interestingly, Dan Crawford and Bill Spooner are part of tonight’s crew at Cleveland, and are listed as 2 of the top 10 “homer”-friendly refs. Conspiracy theorists, start your engines.

    They also list o/u stats — a pattern of games beating the over usually means a lot of calls, ala Tim (disgraced cousin of Jack) Donaghy. Give me a neutral, swallow-the-whistle crew any day.

  104. Coffee is For Closers May 28, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I do agree with simmons re: the officiating and the age factor. I’ve been asking for the last 5 years (at least) how dick bavetta could possibly be one of their best officials, just on age alone. I’m not knocking his integrity, but c’mon, the guy is going to be 70 this year. I’m 45, and exercise regularly and am in good health, and my eyes and aerobic abilities aren’t what they were 20 years ago. Just as a public relations gesture, I’d like the NBA to start some of kind of training program to energize the ranks with new young referees.

  105. Maybe at the top of the must read links today: The NBA’s ultimate rivalry: Kobe Bryant vs. the Guy Beating Kobe Bryant.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2219254

  106. The officiating has been awful. Refs are supposed to be the unseen element of sports — “You’re only going to notice them if they screw up,” as the old saying goes.

    The NBA has flipped that on its ear, as evidenced by the dozen or so posts in this forum commenting on the nice job the zebras did last night. In today’s NBA, we notice when the refs get it right because that’s what stands out. It’s sad, and there’s no real solution that seems applicable.

    In no other major sport are there two sets of rules that separate stars from scrubs. Yet in the NBA, that’s norm — a star gets much more leeway than a bench player.

    In no other major sport are there two sets of rules for home teams vs. road teams. Yet in the NBA, it’s commonly accepted that there are officials who favor home teams, whether they’re intimidated by the crowd or for some other reason.

    In no other major sport are basic rules commonly ignored. Traveling – what’s that? Carrying or palming the ball? It happens every possession. And let’s not even get into this garbage over what’s a flagrant foul and what isn’t.

    In no other major sport are a team or player’s reputations taken into such great account when a call is made. A “tough” team like Utah or Boston is allowed to smack the hell out of its opponents, but when the Lakers do the same they’re whistled? Ron Artest or Rasheed Wallace make a peep and they’re T’d, yet others can pop off for minutes on end with no call.

    Honestly, they make the rules up as they go along. And when a mistake is made, the league office simply issues some kind of after-the-fact excuse saying, “The officials got it wrong,” as if that wipes away the results on the floor?

    Ask the Mavs how that series would have played out had the refs not allowed Melo’s 3 to count. See in the Spurs would like to have seen Brent Barry at the line after Fisher hit him in last season’s playoffs (which, incidentally, came after the refs failed to reset the Lakers shot clock when a shot hit the rim, indirectly given the Spurs the ball back in the first place. Two bad calls).

    Better yet, ask Orlando about the refs later tonight when LeBron goes into his fullback mode, running into any and everyone in the lane so they “foul” him whenever the Cavs need a point or two.

    I love the NBA as much as anyone, but those who suggest the refs aren’t having an effect on the outcomes are delusional.

  107. I am the only one, or did someone else think they spotted Henry Abbot in the 2nd or 3rd row under the basket at last night’s game–there was a bald dude, looking just like him, with a pout on his face all night long…?

  108. Kurt- Excellent. The Slate essay was first rate. Provocative, well written and eerily true. Thanks for the link.

  109. #100, Julia889,
    Valid points, all of them. Which is one of the reasons that the refs should have a little an impact as possible! If it’s so hard to make the correct call, then make as few as possible, even more in the playoffs. The less the refs interfere, the more the game is decided by the players. Let them play, blow the whistle to keep things from going out of hand, but when it’s not out of hand, let them play. Let them strut, let them glare, let them roar. (No excessive taunting though.)

    Also, Coffee said was I was going to say, and which your post highlighted by detailing the many factors one must take into account in a split-second: Simmons was spot-on about the age being a huge factor. I’m not going to be 45 in a long time yet, but I am of an age where I would look at retiring if I played in the WNBA. If I am too old to play, how can I claim to be of an age to keep up with the game to the much greater extent that is needed to make accurate foul calls?

  110. I exchange mail with Henry Abbott off and on. We also talked on the phone once. He is no big fan of Kobe, but neither, it seems to me, is he unreasonably biased against him. He probably does see him through Rose-Garden-colored glasses, but that’s hardly surprising, and he certainly recognizes that Kobe is one of the pre-eminent talents in the league. If he were that biased against Kobe, would he say (as he did recently) that he felt Kobe was more talented than LeBron?

    He may end up quoting me on a couple of thoughts regarding Kobe and the Lakers–thoughts that are not wholly complimentary toward 24. Don’t get me wrong–I am a very strong supporter of Kobe. I think he is, hands down, the most talented player in the NBA. I think he is nowhere near as selfish or bad a teammate as others think he is. I think he gets a ridiculous rap from people who don’t watch him enough and have no idea what he’s about.

    But one thing I notice is that Kobe is still looking to prove himself, even though there’s really no need to. And it comes out in his need for control, even retrospectively. Everything is always according to some kind of master plan, if you read Kobe at face value. I find it immensely frustrating sometimes to listen to Kobe’s post-game comments, and to hear that whatever happened, that was exactly the way he planned it.

    Sometimes you just try different things, some of which work, and some of which don’t; you try to stick with the things that do. I thought the Lakers did that in the fourth quarter last night, and I would have found it refreshing for Kobe to point that out. It would emphasize the point that the Lakers are capable of playing against any team, against any strategy, if they only approach the game the right way.

  111. j.d. hastings/#98:

    Those referee ratings are a bit different from what Simmons is proposing, since those only factor in winning % when certain refs are assigned. Simmons is talking about actually charting referee calls, which is far more difficult and subjective. I thought about it, but then realized that figuring out which ref made which call is nigh impossible on TV.

  112. The Denver Post ran an article with the headline “Kiszla: 50 grand buys a playoff win.” Holy crap, that is classless. How embarrassing for Denver fans–except that they crazily chimed in claiming that they were jobbed last night.

    The NBA really needs to address this credibility issue. I suggest finding a better way to officiate games.

  113. Kurt I enjoyed the link (105). I don’t know how it makes me feel. If in fact Jordan was so great that he himself destroyed his opposition… what was the value of Scottie Pippen and the gang? I mean you are the sum of your parts. How close does a player have to get to greatness when Smush is jacking up crap-shots and Kareem Rush is just being an idiot?

  114. 106,
    I think that happens in all sports – holding and pass interference in football, for instance. What is considered a foul in the penalty box vs outside the penalty box in soccer. How the strike zone is called in baseball. And those sports are going through similar issues with officiating, too. Think “Ed Hochuli” with the NFL.

  115. Kurt,
    Thanks for that link! That was a very enjoyable lead and it reinforces what I started to think after someone (can’t remember who) pointed it out to me in a previous thread: Kobe has been the league MVP for the past few years because of what he has brought to the league. He’s been making others great, the entire time.

    And here’s the thing… Arthur and his magic sword are awesome and amazing, but I would rather have the wizard that made him king on my side any day. Because Merlin is a mythological icon, the most Arthur ever managed was to become a legend.

  116. Im watching game 6 of the suns-lakers series from 2006 on espn classic and does anyone think that if we won that game that we would have beaten the clips and mavs and beaten the heat to win the title that yr? I think we would have won and it would be interesting to see how a title that yr would have changed the team plans and outlook from then till now. Could we have been a repeat title team and would we have gotten pau? Interesting thoughts…

  117. The author of the Slate article uses circular logic to prove Michael never lost: only the years he wins count! Why not excuse the fact that Kobe was playing with Smush, Brian Cook, Kwame Brown, etc. when the Suns apparently proved their greatness against him? How is that different from Michael (with Scottie, Horace, and Toni) losing to the Magic? How com Michael isn’t called out for not winning before his first title? He won scoring titles.

    Ultimately, nobody will ever match up to 30-something sportsguy’s idealized MJ. It’s impossible, because people define Michael based on the ideal, not the other way around.

    Kobe is here, now, and real. He has flaws, he has been on crappy teams, and he is polarizing. I agree with the premise that players are often defined by how they play him, though.

    PS Is it my imagination, or did the author compare the Spurs team which never, ever repeated favorably to the threepeat Lakers? The Shaq/Kobe Lakers beat that team 3 out of 5 series between 99 and 04 (SA won in 99 and 03).

  118. For those of you who have enjoyed the musings of Dex, he’s set up a site to express his wisdom.

    http://k24-8.blogspot.com/

    Topic of the day is Abbott.

  119. Regarding officiating: I am at a point where I actively avoid Cleveland games because I cannot stand the officiating. I avoid going to the gym around the same time as their game, because the game shows up on the TV in front of the treadmill :) .

    And I am one of those people who enjoys watching any regular season game which shows up on television. I love watching basketball.

  120. Coffee is For Closers May 28, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    +1 Firewalker

  121. 116.

    Jay,

    I’ve thought about that scenario you just mentioned. What if Tim Thomas misses that 3, and the Lakers go on to win? How far would they have gone? Would they be better off then they are now?

    One thing is for sure, the fact that Kobe won 48 games with Kwame, Smush, and Luke being 3 of the 5 starters should have made Kobe the unaminous MVP.

  122. One thing in defense of the refs regarding Cleveland. Officiated Lebron is like officiated Shaq how do you fairly judge fouls on a freak of nature who’s probably going to get some contact on EVERY play. It’s tough…

  123. 118-

    that site just made my day. Dex’s style is fantastic.

  124. Come on guys! Calling fouls on Lebron or Shaq was no more difficult than calling fouls on Wilt.

    Officiating has never been easy. The real problems today are…
    1) We have instant replay and 24/7 sports cycles on more feeds than we can count – with their insatiable demand for new
    2) There are so many little agendas the league is trying to implement through the rules that officials have too much to make decisions on.

    David Stern: Cut down on the rule nuances, add an official, and stop being so defensive about the officials. We need to do all three of these things because no one thing will resolve the questions.

  125. Broussard has an article with some good insight up on ESPN (front page). I think he makes a valid point – wing players after Jordan are held to a standard that no one was before. Was Magic ever held to Oscar Robertson’s standard, or criticized for not averaging a triple double? (honest question, not rhetorical). IMO Jordan was mythologized beyond his on-court success, because he was such an icon in terms of marketing and general appeal.

    What if Magic and Bird had come after Jordan? I personally think MJ would have diminished their greatness a bit. People would question why Bird won “only” 3 titles, and comparatively, how he did it with dominant post players whereas MJ did it with none.

    Yes, Michael is the GOAT, so he’s naturally going to raise the bar. My only point is that I’m not sure if “Before MJ” players were so deeply scrutinized and held to former players’ standards, even after such success. Instead of celebrating Kobe’s titles or success the media focuses on what MJ has accomplished that Kobe hasn’t. I’m not sure if Magic or Kareem or Bird or others had their accomplishments disregarded and flaws highlighted to such a great degree. I didn’t grow up in the era, so I could very well be wrong.

  126. I agree w/Snoopy 2006. Also, it’s worth noting that MJ never faced the zone or the off-the-ball double-team. When the zone was legalized, most people thought that Shaq would be the Laker most hurt by it (I think Shaq claimed the rule was made to combat his MDE-ness). I think that Kobe ended up being hurt the most. Wing players seem to have a more difficult time getting to the rim without the aid of the isolation play. We still talk about isolation, but it’s not the same as it was when no help was within 15 feet of the ball.

  127. For the record, I’m still totally blown away watching video of Jordan. He was superspecial.

  128. here is the thing they played on half a quarter what we know they are capable of. Problem one is that unlike early in the season bynum, pau and lamar cant seem to all play well at the same time. Problem two is Fisher is out there when the obious best guard for both offense and defense is brown. Brown needs more minutes either way, the LAkers should go to the finals, lets hope its like last years celtics who couldnt run through anyone then turned it up in the finals. Kobe played like the best player in the world last nite, Ariza and PAu are steady, if Lamar and bynum show up its a bonus… if Brown plays lakers dont lose another game.

  129. One thing I can say about Phil as much as I have bashed him his team carries his confidence on the floor and denver carries george carl’s panic. I just love watching the Nuggets fourth quarter meltdowns. I have grown to hate the Nuggets thugness, although I have mad respect for Carmelo something I did not have prior to this series.

  130. Wow. Some of you guys really don’t like Henry (or at least his writing).

    Wow.

  131. Coffee is For Closers May 28, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    126. The only problem with that theory is that they allowed hand checking back in MJ’s era, and that really hampered an offensive player’s ability to get to the hoop. Defenders were basically allowed to steer offensive players where they wanted them to go. Riley’s knicks most famously used this technique to the detriment of the quality of the games astethic appeal.

    Guys like Steve Nash and Tony Parker (and probably kobe too) have been big beneficiaries of the no hand checking rules.

    I don’t have the stats, but i’m sure offense in general is up on average over the period jordan played and now.

  132. I’ve watched both Kobe and Jordan play. I remember the isos they would set up for Jordan. Literally EVERYBODY on the team would go to the other side of the floor and let Jordan take whoever is guarding him one on one to the basket. This was done less in the Tri, but they went to it often when they needed scores.

    Even with hand checks Kobe would obliterate people if he was allow to truly go 1on1 against people.

    As for Henry Abbot, I like his writing style but I do believe he posts more articles that portray Lakers in a negative fashion because he is bias. Besides the billions of Kobe is selfish and such articles he advocates he has ones like the Ariza foul in the middle of the season. He crucified Ariza for the ‘dirty play’ but when the same play has happen several times before and after the Ariza play with no mention or a small blurb. But when a Laker makes a foul (which he went only for the ball) he gets multiple articles saying how dirty and dangerous the play was.

    Like I said I like his writing style and still read many of his articles, but I am getting tiresome of the Laker hate articles he posts.

  133. MJ is the American Dream, scrabbling up to the stars from a broken old hoop in the ghetto, Kobe is the cold-eyed kid from Europe, who learned his art on gleaming hardwood courts. Charles Barkley recently praised LeBron to high heaven for his ability to “sell” the NBA, to sell it to new people everywhere and get people buying again. Kobe is about as marketable as Dracula. That is, really, really marketable, if you’re in the mood for a horror movie, i.e. need to dispel for whatever reason the humors for which the horror genre is a catharsis — fear, dread, anger. I’m grateful for LeBron, for my sake and the game’s sake, and I certainly don’t sniff at a personality so winning it brings strangers in from the street. I’m irritated by bad writers and thinkers who don’t take personality etc. into consideration, questions such as is Kobe’s being antithetic to mainstream American sympathies necessarily symptomatic of a sociopath etc. Because as someone wrote he crowds my throat with joy. As opposed to fangs, which again, we need black hats and white to make a watchable movie, but the preening critics who can’t see past a hat are insufferable and how in the hell do they keep getting paid masses of money to write trite for the masses, seriously my fellow Lakers fans.

  134. Michael was the first Nike/ESPN star. He was worshiped as much for his marketing prowess as for his basketball acumen. Because of ESPN, the internet, and photo cell phones it is impossible to really compare the actual athletes – never mind the changes in the rules.

    Regardless of what we might want to do, the best we should try to do is rate the players within similar generations. Leave it at that and there will still be plenty of disagreements.

  135. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    130- I haven’t had a problem with him until the last week or so this pattern has become undeniable. It was reconizable several days ago and he’s done nothing but validate it with further goading and prodding.

  136. It was said once that a chosen one will set us free from the eras of “Supermen”. it was said that the people would name a king to save the land from dangerous “black snakes”. Tonight we mourn the death of royality. For tonight a King will die.

  137. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Tonight is huge to Lebron’s legacy. I don’t think it will reflect too much on him, even if he has a poor game because he’s already led a team to the finals single-handed and has been incredible all post-season. However, this is the year for him to prove he can win it all more or less alone. If he can’t, it’s not cause for shame, but is a bit of a knock on his G.O.A.T. bid.

    Moreover, this team is arguably the best that Cleveland can give him. If they have the money they may be able to score some bargain free agents, but where do they wrangle up that money? And if they come back the same next year, when KG possibly comes back healthy and the Magic come back stronger with Nelson- why should Lebron believe they’ll ever have what it takes. Thus why shouldn’t he bolt to NY?

    So knowing this, and presuming that Lebron at least has an inkling of it all, how does that affect what we expect tonight?

    Personally I think the Laker game last night influences Lebron as much as any other factor. He saw what Kobe did, how the offense improved as he facilitated. And Lebron’s desire to one up kobe has almost become a form of idol worship (much like Kobe assumed the trappings of MJ to try to compete with him). I see him deferring early, and if it works sontinuing to do so all night. But if his team still doesn’t step up I expect him to try to do what he did against Detroit 2 years ago- though I’m not sure Pietrus and Dwight will let him.

    Overall I predict a Cleveland win for this game, but am excited to see so many questions answered one way or other.

  138. By the way: There will be a live blog tomorrow night.

    It will be me and either Jeremy or another guest yet to be announced (but one that people here will like). I know a few of you were frustrated with not getting all your comments approved as had happened on previous live blogs here. That it was because 1) with two of us (this was simulcast live on both sites), we did not just automatically approve every comment from some of the regulars a I had done on just my live blogs; 2) this was linked off the main page at ESPN.com, which meant crazy traffic and a dizzying amount of comments at points. It was impossible to keep up. I will be better prepared the second time around and will try to get to you.

    On a second site note — go read Dex’s blog. It is fantastic (and I’ll link on the main post tomorrow again). I am not going to go off and attack Henry Abbott in the main post simply because I don’t spend time on this blog attacking the media in general (the recent Simmons column by Dex was the exception to that rule). I’m not defending him either, he knows how I feel about recent trends. But this is not Fire Joe Morgan nor do I wish it to be when there are good things like games sixes to focus on.

  139. Coffee is For Closers May 28, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    wow, just saw the story on nba tv on what happend to former nba player rodney rodgers. he got into a motor bike accident, and is now paralyzed from the shoulders down. he was a nice player, hope he can somehow recover.

  140. I agree that Kobe would likely trade the return of legal handchecking for the disbandment of the zone defense. Before the defensive 3 second call, defensive players that were guarding players beyond the 3pt line had to be above the FT line and/or out side of the lane. That created driving lanes that just don’t exist in today’s NBA. And while the rule against hand checking has been beneficial to wing players that like to drive, I think it has been more beneficial to smaller/quicker players as they don’t have the strength to get handcheckers off of them. When you look at more physical penetrators (Jordan, Lebron, Magic, Wade, Kobe) they can use their upper body strength to use that handcheck against the player trying to deploy it. Said another way, defense is taught to be played with your feet and not with your hands – this is said because reaching = fouling. However, when you put your hands on an opponent, you also transfer some of your balance onto that person that you’re touching. And when you’re a stronger player you can knock that hand away and disrupt that defenders equalibrium. It’s why almost every time someone tried to handcheck Magic, he’d wipe their hand away and then drive by them. This technique is very similar to “pulling the chair” on an offensive player by a defender – you use that leverage and balance sought by the player initiating contact against them and make them lose their balance. This is exactly how Jordan would still penetrate against a handchecker. Sure he was quick enough to do it anyway, but he’d also use his tremendous hand/arm/upper body strength to knock the handcheck away and leave the player in his wake, off-balance and leaning. I think today’s players like Kobe/Lebron/Wade/Carmelo would use the same technique to kill players that tried to handcheck them. While players like Nash/Paul/Parker would struggle in the same way that smallish wide receivers would struggle if DB’s were allowed to re-direct them more than 5 yards past the line of scrimmage in the NFL.

  141. The officiating in this series has been HORRIBLE. The pro-home team bias is so evident that I know for a fact Denver will win the next game as I expect them to get all the calls during the 4th quarter. It’s sad because this series is trully one of the greatest conference finals ever. too bad the oficiating will be the only thing remembered.

  142. j.d. (134): Honestly, even speaking as a Lakers fan, I just don’t see it. I’m putting together a Web page on the Fisher 0.4 shot, with frame by frame analysis (bottom line: Fisher had possession for about half a second), and Henry has been nothing but supportive, even though the page essentially validates that Fisher got the shot off in time, by any objective metric you wish to use.

    I think he’s wrong about certain things regarding the Lakers (the Ariza foul among them, incidentally), but I think he’s wrong about certain things regarding lots of teams. But because the Lakers are so good and have such a strong personality, they are in the news a lot, and Henry’s going to write about them a lot. That means, from my perspective and likely yours, that he’ll be wrong about a lot. But right about lots, too.

    And as far as Kobe is concerned? Kobe brings a lot of that upon himself. For all that he is alleged to overmanage his public image, I think he is generally pretty bad at it. That’s a big reason I don’t buy into this master manipulator business. *Shaq* was (and is) a master manipulator, if you will. Kobe is transparent by comparison. He tries to hide things behind a bold exterior, but he hides them about as well as my 14-year-old. All we see, really, is naked desire, and people are uncomfortable with naked desire, even though they respect it. They would prefer the jolly fun wrapping epitomized by Shaq, or I should say, by Shaq’s public persona.

  143. That Slate article was full of mistaken premises. I’ll say until the day I die that Kareem was better than Jordan, with stats to support my argument. But Jordan came along on the shoulders of others who’d elevated the NBA’s profile, and with the help of Nike and NBC he took it to a new level or cultural relevance. And for those who grew up in that era, that makes him the greatest ever. Arguments could go either way.

    But to say Bird “only” won three rings or Magic “only” won five somehow makes them less than Jordan, I have a real issue there.

    The Bulls were the lone great team of the 1990s. They never played the same team twice in the Finals, until Utah at the end of their run. Contrast that to the 1980s, when Boston and Philadelphia were an annual death match for a few years, with very good teams in Milwaukee and Atlanta. Later the Pistons became strong as well. And those teams’ reward for winning the east was usually a date with L.A. Talk about attrition.

    Then the league expanded, the talent base was watered down and the Bulls began their run slapping away the likes of Portland, the Suns, Sonics, Jazz and the last vestiges of the 80s Lakers dynasty. Aside from the Lakers, none of those teams won anything.

    Had Jordan and the best Bulls teams he played on been dropped into the league in the 1980s, he would have been lucky to win two or three rings.

    And spare me the 72-10 argument — that came in an expansion year, with gimme wins over the two new teams and weakened benches on other squads to pad the Bulls’ chances.

    Jordan was great, those Bulls were very good. Just not as great as some would have us believe.

  144. I think it’s reached the point where the pointless complaining about the officiating bothers me more than the officiating itself. It’s not good, but it’s not some grand conspiracy or the end of civilization as we know it. Right now, the better basketball teams are about to reach the finals from both conferences. Like what is supposed to happen. The officiating impact has not been as big to me as some think.

  145. Here’s the problem with making cross-generational claims: we continually disregard or underestimate the ability of greatness to adapt.

    It’s why I tire of the media (I think even Thorpe once said this) and some opposing fans saying Kobe wouldn’t do as well in the hand-checking era. Let’s think for a moment. Do these people really think Kobe wouldn’t be able to adapt? Really?

    Kobe injures his right shoulder? Learns to shoot with his left hand. Knees weakening? Adds the fall-away jumper (with greater reliability). I think people underestimate the adaptability of great players. I believe that if Kobe had played in the physical era, he would have adapted his game. Why is Kobe’s offensive prowess punished for him simply not being able to play in a certain era?

    Likewise, if Michael played in today’s era, I think he would have adapted his game to the zone defense. It’s impossible to say, but truly transcendent players overcome obstacles, they find ways to adapt. It’s what makes cross-era comparisons so hard.

    (For the record, the rule didn’t change until 2002, but Kobe up until that point was not the primary offensive option on the team)

  146. Coffee is For Closers May 28, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    140. Those are good points, and the whole nuanced discussion in general is one that’s often (always?) missed when the media compares players playing in different era’s.

  147. I don’t want to be mad at Doug Collin’s wife for going to the hospital and subjecting us to Reggie Miller, but I kind of am.

  148. Brian Tung – Up until recently, I’ve never really had a problem with Henry. I didn’t have a huge problem with the Ariza post or anything else, because he’s admitted his Blazer homerism and acknowledges it.

    My problem came with the Kobe: Distant post. My problem is that I’m appalled at how Henry and ESPN have lowered their journalistic standards, even for them. The post involves the opinion of Henry’s friend “Max.” Who is Max? Who, quite honestly, cares? Does Max-the-average-fan have any great insight into Kobe’s personality? Can he tell how much Kobe fakes his news conferences by the way Kobe wiggles his eyebrows? How he squints when he laughs? Does anyone not see how ridiculous this is?

    Furthermore, let’s take a look at Max’s inane points. He claims Kobe is trying to play the media by not whining about Jones’ trip. Also, Max believes that by acknowledging the Lakers “got our butts kicked” in a game that was – believe it or not – a 19-point rout, Kobe is somehow being fake. Where is the logic in this? When Mike Brown refused to complain about the refs in the 2007 ECF and the Cavs won, he was lauded for a “no-complaints” mentality that spread to the rest of the team. But no, surely Kobe is trying to play the media and improve his PR. Nothing to do with the game of basketball.

    It’s a stupid, inane post from an unqualified basketball source who draws stupid, inane conclusions.

    Finally, about the homerism. If Henry’s friend “Maxi” emailed him thoughts about how overrated and fake Brandon Roy is, would Henry post that? It certainly seems like he’s more inclined to post an anti-Kobe email than an anti-Roy email. Of course he’ll have posts acknowledging Kobe’s greatness, because he’s one of the damn best players of the last generation, he’d be a fool not to. But it’s becoming overly clear that he’s letting his biases seem into his writing and lower his journalistic standards.

  149. j.d. Hastings May 28, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    141- the officiating hasn’t been consistently home biased this series. Game 2 supported Denver and 3 supported the Lakers. So… I don’t know what to think. Hollinger has a great read on it today. actually.

    142- The Fisher shot was good. How was he going to deny that? Like I’ve said, up until recently I haven’t had a problem with him. But lately it’s been a steady drumbeat. I summed them up in last nights game post, but in short this series he’s posted:

    1-Lakers and Nuggets are reverting to stereotypes: Denver are thugs, and Kobe is totally selfish and alienating his teammates

    2-Look at how sad kobe is not getting a hand slap from shaq

    3-Read this long email my kobe-loving friend wrote about how he doesn’t like kobe anymore

    4-meanwhile he’s almost completely skipped mentioning any of the blatantly missed late calls (JR Smith on the jump ball) or dangerous non-calls that went against the Lakers (dahntay jones’ greatest hits)

    5-Then there’s the Lakers feel Victimized Post about how the Lakers aren’t tough and are scheming about when to launch a dirty attack on the Nuggets.

    6-Then in his post game post in which he talks about the good game by the team he fits in, “Kobe Bryant said he made a conscious effort to be a decoy. I’d be very interested in how that idea came about. Did Bryant tell anyone about it? Did the coaching staff gameplan for it? Or was it a game-time thing? Now that it has worked, it puts Denver in a guessing game for Game 5. L.A. might do it again. But I wouldn’t bet on it. ” That’s NOT snide?

    7-then he posts a video of Odom’s and-1 wondering where the contact was (note again, THIS is the controversial play he singles out for a post in this series??? Not the trip, the push in the back- seemingly right in line with his whole “Don’t touch anybody in the air” rule, not the jump ball… )- Henry has posted 3 videos in the last couple days. 1 = Kobe is Sad. Another = Mobley’s heart condition and the final one = Bad call favors the lakers! (and I don’t even see how he’s arguing that from what the video shows)

    8- But he DOES mention Carmelo’s clothesline: “Carmelo Anthony gave Kobe Bryant a bona fide shot to the face, but it was called a regular foul. That was one of several plays that made you think ‘they’re letting them play.’ The exception: Nene’s incredibly feeble sixth foul. ” So the lesson of the whole thing was that the Lakers got favorable whistles, when Kobe basically has a violent foul against him every game of the series?

    9- His first cup today has one post from Denver, which basically does nothing but say the Lakers and their fans are incredibly arrogant jerks and the refs gave them the game.

    10-He links to and quotes the Slate article that could be a backhanded compliment to kobe, at best.

    Now the last 3 of these would ordinarily not result in ire from me. Particularly the last two are just representing interesting POVs, but you tell me where in the rest of these instances I’ve misrepresented or if I’ve ignored something that would balance the steady tide of bashing that’s gone on.

  150. This thread has had some interesting talk today, now onto the East. This is the way I want the Lakers to come out fighting tomorrow hight 30-10.

  151. j.d. hastings
    - amen to your comment.

    I had the same thoughts, but not the desire to type it all. I agree whole-heartedly.

    95% of Henry’s post about the Laker’s are negative and seems like he goes out of his way to post them. The positive posts are few and far between and are usually big stories he can’t ignore.

  152. @Dex,
    The analogy of Kobe as the Dracula of the NBA made my day.

    Most likely mainly becuase Dracula was a real vampire. None of this Ann Rice-/ Twilight-wussy romance schtick about the tragedy of immortal un-life and forbidde love. Dracula was the real deal, the true terror that made his opponent hide from him and pray he didn’t notice them.

    As a hopeless Kobe fangirl I like that idea! And I will spend all of tomorrow’s game looking for hints of fangs. :D

  153. Wow it’s clear the Cavs came into this with the mindset of getting Dwight another technical. First Big Z (Big Z, of all people!) getting into Howard’s face for no reason. Now Wally going into hardcore mode and shoving Howard in the back for no reason. Could they be any more obvious? They’re deliberately trying to bait Howard.

  154. Kurt-My sentiments exactly re: Reggie. Dude makes hit the mute button quicker than a montage of Stephen A. Smith rants.

  155. 132
    Kobe + 1 on 1 D = Unstoppable

    144
    I don’t think the ongoing debates or complaints about officiating are pointless at all. Anecdotally, more and more people are noticing the problem getting worse. Personally, I’ve never it seen it this bad. Craig W hit a point I’ve noticed for while about how difficult the L has made it for the refs with all these new rules & new interpretations of them. It seems like every season, the refs have been ordered to focus on a new area, or interpret certain calls a new way as opposed to how it’s normally been called. The new interpretation on technical fouls things they did a couple years ago is a great example. It got so crazy, they open admitted to scaling that one back about 3/4 into the season.

    When officiating has become too much apart of the game and is actually decreasing the product, I think it’s definitely time for public debate.

  156. Kurt – conspiracy nuts ought to be shut up by the fact that New York hasn’t been in the FInals for so long. But I guess that’s why they’re nuts!

  157. I wish TNT could trade Reggie Miller to ESPN for Hubie Brown. TNT can even throw in Kenny Smith to make the deal less one-way.

  158. There is something that is getting increasingly frustrating to me. I appreciate players being aggressive, but when it is to a point where they just put their head down, drive down the lane and purposely jump into the side of the defender in the paint to draw the foul, then throw up a shot hoping for a 3 pt. play. A LOT of physically strong players like to do this…to every interior defender regardless. I think it ruins the flow of the game. Watching some of the games from the 80′s where they didn’t call every bump inside, the flow was so much better….

    It is something different if you are trying to go towards the basket and make a shot, but when a defender is in front of them…i feel like they more often than not make jumping into the defender a priority rather than creating a shot around them, and end up drawing the foul..

    Agree / Disagree? Maybe i just need another perspective if thats not consistent with what is happening.

  159. Coffee is For Closers May 28, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Kwame, I’m no fan of Reggie, but for the love of god, please no Hubbie “he’s one of the best ______ in our league” Brown. He makes my ears bleed.

  160. I hate that if you’re a little guard, you can just jump into a bigger defender and get a foul.

    or if you’re a big guard, you can just bulldoze your way into the lane, knock over somebody, and get a foul.

    I don’t know what they expect the defender to do. get out of the way? roll out the red carpet?

    they really need to stop that. people need to stop expecting to get bailed out whenever there is contact, when they’re dishing it out as much as taking it.

    The refs should call a defensive technical (not personal) for obvious flopping. They’ll get it wrong sometimes, or even often, but that’ll cut down on that nonsense.

    Magic are whittling down the lead. they’re a very resilient team. I look forward to hearing how soft and lackadaisical the Cavs are, giving up these huge leads at home.

  161. The Magic spot the Cavs a 20 point lead and still are able to close the gap rather easily.

  162. 157-Really? I’ve always been partial to Hubie and his “you know he’s gonna give you 22 points and shoot a high percentage”. Ha. I think he’s insightful.

  163. howw does Orlando come back, dammmmm this team has CRAZY killer instincts, no joke

    3rd time the cavs give up a 20 point lead?! And once again, its LA who is the one in trouble..at least we didnt lose those games

    and lets stop the cavs/lakers comparisons

    lakers would not play like this on a game this important, as witnessed all season. At least we know that when they lose or they are in a must win situation, they deliver.

    I feel bad for Lebron though, sucks.

  164. Amazing Magic.

  165. Two things:

    1. The Magic scare the crap out of me. If you thought they are motivated now, imagine if they make it to the NBA Finals…! They are a frighteningly good team. They scare me.

    2. I have no sympathy for Lebron. I know that truly great players make everyone around them better, because all the experts have told me so ever since Kobe became the Laker Alpha Male. So if Lebron’s team loses it must be his fault, since if he was truly great he would have made the Cavs win. The experts saidso.

  166. Um, I don’t know what it is I’m doing, but every time I post from my home computer my comments are stuck “awaiting moderation”.

    I promise I honestly try not to spam the board so… Kurt, can you help me out? I just ant to know what to avoid. Thanks!

  167. Huh?!?! That comment went through. Very odd.

  168. 34 – check ebay for the shirt you seek.

    Based on your description, it appears to be available there.

  169. D. Howard with 5…

    wow pietrus is doing pretty well with his stroke

  170. I really hope Orlando wins this series. They are pretty scary, but if (hopefully) the lakers make it to the final – I still think they NEED the home court advantage. Secondly, I can’t take anymore sycophancy of Lebron James – I think I would have to mute the whole kobe/lebron final. I am sooooo sick of how much they praise James. Obviously he’s one of the best – but has yet to match Kobe’s achievements. Does anyone else notice how they never criticize James at all. Hedo has been making just as many clutch/tough shots in this series and he receives the commentary that a ball boy compared to James. They never criticize james when he misses free throws or turns the ball over. Secondly, I can’t take those kobe/lebron puppets anymore!

  171. And Cavs end winning the game by 10, after giving up a 20 point lead. I think they are starting to scare me too…

  172. The pressure is definitely on the Lakers to close out this series. All these nice and happy thoughts can disappear quicker than the morning smog.

    Jeff Miller nailed it here:

    http://www.ocregister.com/video/index.php?bcpid=1127694947&bclid=1127690720&bctid=24581375001

  173. You didn’t think Orlando was closing them out in 5 on the road, did ya? They still have the most dangerous man in America ;-)

  174. Coffee is for Closers May 28, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks Kwame, I forgot that hubbie ‘go to’ cliche. yikes. he actually had some pretty good insight on espn radio this afternoon, especially questioning why mike brown was putting lebron on rafer alston.

  175. Kwame,
    I just wish TNT would fire Reggie Miller. Every time he says “marvelous” I want to change the channel. It literally makes me want to stop watching the playoffs.

    As for the Magic, they showed me how difficult a task the Lakers are up against when they visit Denver in attempts to close out the Nuggs on their home court. We’re going to have to play a full 48 AND make plays at the end of the game to seal this series on the road. Easier said than done.

  176. I think we can take game 6 in Denver by taking the Nuggs to the deep end of the water. All series long only Billups has stayed composed at the end of a close game. We simply take them to the deep end to drown as soon as they think there season will end they will commit stupid mistakes.

  177. 20 hours to go, I think the Lakers are in for a battle at the Pepsi Center, the Nuggets certainly are not going to give up and lay over for us to advance. If LO can give us another game like the last, I will feel better as the game progresses though.

    GO LAKERS…

  178. 178 Big Ralf, wouldn’t count on stupid mistakes. The Nuggets are a different team. Sure they’re prone to lapses, but not any more than we are. It’s going to come down to execution for 48 minutes. We have to take this game from them.

  179. j. d. hastings May 28, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    The ideal announcer lineup would obviously be Dennis Miller, Tony Kornheiser and either Bob Costas or Al Michaels barely hiding their contempt for the entire sport. Everything else is just half-assing it.

  180. english is not even my native tongue but I can feel the ‘hate’ simmons has of Kobe, the strong ‘dislike’ by abbot and the refusal to see past his stats and act against his need to be ‘different from the masses’ of hollinger.

    Even in the Simmons piece that many here thought well written, the stuff he cites only concern the Lakers. Anyone with any desire to come off resaonably objective would’ve chosen at least one Denver example of bad officiating, but nooo.

    For Abbot, wow, I keep expecting ESPN to act like some classy newspaper and have some editors disapprove some of that biased stuff, only to remember that they live off hits not content. I mean, the articles on Dirk’s ex-girlfriend are stuff you’d think twice before you print it even if you are a local paper.

    Hollinger, he tends to think he is all stats, but he keeps forgetting that he himself keeps assigning ‘weight’ to different numbers and just doesn’t realize that he sticks to his preferences when doing so. PER is a prime example, but so is his relevancy talk about games in the regular season.

    As for officiating, the fact that the fouls seem to have some sort of balance is in itself evidence to support that there is a huge problem.

    No two players play the same, let alone two teams, and they have to end up with equal number of fouls for it to be good officiating? That’s absurd. People need to start using better stats than just number of FTs taken and fouls called against to argue officiating.

  181. did anyone see this article?

    this is NUTS

    http://www.denverpost.com/nuggets/ci_12466192

  182. Since I’m not actually playing in the games I don’t think my looking ahead breaks the focus anyone who actually effects the games. I’m going into game 6 in pure wonder mode as I know what I would like to see but am ready for anything. So bear with my myopic foresight.

    I would not be surprised to see the Witnesses win the next two. I’m not calling Orlando out but parameter shooting can take a few games to get back on line.

    Everything LeBron does is right on line. He effects games as powerfully as Shaq did, but from the perimeter. He is a force. We should all be happy he doesn’t have the equivilent of a young Kobe on his team. Now if LeBron pulls off this Orlando series they will have overcome adversity in legendary fashion.

    We have Kobe and an improved game plan for getting Bynum involved. We have veteran inside play from Gasol and LO’s bruise might be smaller and less discolored. The major match ups are mainly in our favor. Point being that it looks to me like it takes some time for this Lakers team to build confidence and adjust their execution to their playoff opponent. Eventually they show enough execution and enough intensity to win. So, I think going against a team which will have the most dominant player in the series, while we have the most skilled and experienced, we might be better off losing the first game on the road, stealing game two and then building momentum with three games at home. The Lakers can have a screw up game at home (even game three. Even down 1-2, it’s not great but with two home games in a row you still have a decent shot at getting back on the road 3-2). This team would be rounding into shape, having grown into the game plan, and I think Bynum will have made 2 more weeks worth of progress. By the last week of the finals it’ll have been 5 months since the injury. Plus, when the light turns on for Bynum it is sudden. The opponent needs to start planning for an active and polished big man and we need to pray for cruciate ligaments to bend the right way.

    I think not having home court works for us in a series against the Cavs. Against Orlando I like not having to deal with Jameer being steady and quick, and doing what Brooks did but with more consistency. With him in we could lose that series in 5-6 games. I like our chances with home court and a manageable Alston. That’s my take.

  183. I’ve said this for years – it’s really simple:

    Complaining that you lost a game because of the officiating just makes you look like a chump.

  184. Harold

    Simmons and Abbot are NOT supposed to be objective. It seems whenever someone rips on a team, the fans freak out and demand objectivity. Do you really want that? Something boring and dry that doesn’t really take a side. This blog and Plaschke are not very objective about the Lakers, and that’s why they’re worth reading. Good analysis is not objective.

    ESPN lives off content, not just hits. This characterization of any one who says something bad about LA as a bad journalism seems like the view of overexcited fans and little more. Had they both declared Kobe the best player in the league with no supporting evidence, you would not hammer it for being biased in any way.

    Hollinger is all stats. You have to judge which one are worth using (Points per possession and such) and which are not (PER is just terrible).

  185. The NBA championship series beckons-if through a fog–but our Homies need to relax, and watch a Sunday basketball game, played in Florida, with their families for a change–maybe hang out on the beach for a few days next week.

    The message to the Nuggets in Game 6 must be, “It’s over.” It can best be sent successfully in the first quarter, play by play, much like Game 5 told the Nuggets that the writing is on the wall.

    Everyone should know the offensive mantra by now: get the ball to Pau, and good things will happen. One of those things will be Andrew coming to life on both offense and defense. Another will be points in the paint.

    Defensively, the mantra is to to keep ‘Melo from feeling too mellow without allowing the energy guys to look like superstars-especially on the boards.

    Chauncy is already a proven Laker killer, capable of “end of game” heroics. The Lakers want to weaken him, play by play, the entire game.

    Birdman needs to be grounded. Maybe ShanWOW can posterize him again. Those Nuggets with Thugget tendencies need to be detained–even as their tactics are exposed. The Lakers need to give the refs every opportunity to do the right thing by overmatching Nugget intensity.

    The plan that has been most successful has been to match the Nuggs through
    three–and pull away in the fourth. If the Lakers could get a little more separation every quarter, it could be much more decisive, even boring. I personally would go for boring–if you don’t mind.

    Somehow, it would be more satisfying to see those Nuggs go out in a whimper rather than a bang.

  186. The Lakers are a much better team when Kobe relaxes in the first half and doesn’t put it upon himself to drop 20 in the first two quarters. The Lakers are arguably the deepest team in the league and they can handle most games without Kobe having to completely take over the entire game. I think it is better when he waits ’till the fourth quarter to take over. The Lakers are much more effective that way.

    http://www.everydaynba.com

  187. The Lakers are a much more effective team when Kobe relaxes in the first half and doesn’t put it upon himself to drop 20 in the first two quarters. But rather let his teammates get in rhythm, because really.. Kobe can get in rhythm anytime he wants to. It is more important for him to get his teammates going so he doesn’t have to be a 1-man show in the final 12 minutes of the game.

    http://www.everydaynba.com

  188. Ben:

    They don’t have to be objective every time, and that’s especially true for Simmons who flat out state that he is a Celtics fan.

    But when he is trying to make a point, something that concerns the NBA and not just the Lakers or the Celtics, he should be objective, simple as that. It’s one thing to write a piece just to write something, quite another when you’re writing about something seriously.

    If he intended that last piece as just more fodder, then my bad. If he meant it to be serious, he should have tried to be objective.

    As for Abbott, it’s his constant insistence that he is not partial that bugs me, and I guess the word I should have used there is hypocrisy or denial.

    And Hollinger, he is not all stats, contrary to what he and many others may believe. No stats are just stats unless you put numbers out there on their own, and even then depending on WHICH numbers you put out there, there is subjectivity involved. Hollinger not admitting it and people not seeing it doesn’t make him objective.

  189. “Nothing’s set in stone,” Griffin said. “Anything can happen, so I’m not going to start buying a house and all that in L.A.”

    Ah, optimism.

    Great read from KD here, on the most competitive conference finals of the last 20 years:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Top-five-most-competitive-Conference-finals-of-t;_ylt=Al7oGcjZ8GX5rAvpRgfXCla8vLYF?urn=nba,166552

  190. completely off topic, but:

    Samaki Walker is in Korea trying out for the Korean Basketball league.

    If he makes it, I may see him in person ;)

  191. A Laker player steals the ball and makes a solo run for it, he is corralled from behind by a Nuggets player. Apparently the call is correctly made as a loose ball foul. The explanation, elucidated by JVG and Jackson is that this apparent “break away” foul happened in the front-court, not back and therefore doesn’t qualify as a break-away foul. Side out, boys.

    I guess there is an exemption when Lebron is the stealer of the ball.

    When this happens, Rafer Alston can make an attempt to steal the ball back from the side, not corralling from the back. Another Magic player, Courtney Lee can be slightly infront of the King. All of this can also happen in the front court, not back and the King is still duly awarded 2 free throws and possession as the rules when applied to the King is a break-away foul.

  192. 192. Bill I wondered about that but you wrote it better than i would have written it. Lebrons running back plays also annoy the crap out of me. That is not basketball. Lowering your head and going full steam towards the hoop knowing the refs are going to call a foul is not basketball.

  193. I’ve broken. It upsets me now that every time the lakers get more than one 50-50 call in their favor it’s weaved into this “the lakers get every call” conspiracy quilt. If every other article by reputable net “news” sources weren’t about this supposedly secret conspiracy to get the Lakers and Cavs to the finals we wouldn’t be here.

    For once, I am with the “haters” that blame Simmons and Abbott, they’ve crossed some critical mass of conspiracy laden articles/posts and now the losing team’s fanbase is putting on blinders to everything but the refs, all this during the two BEST conference finals I can remember — better than boston-cleveland 08, and better than Lakers-blazers.

    That article with even Chauncey mocking the officiating just really set me off — this guy is supposed to be all class, I’m so disappointed. This is the leader of his team and all he can do is make snide comments in the locker room about officiating when he personally turned the ball over 3 times in 5 possessions in the 4th?

    The idea that Phil’s media comments are somehow crossing a line into manipulating the refs beyond what every coach does in every presser when they subtlely complain about the whistle is really laughable: it’s a different of efficacy, not of kind. But now suddenly what Phil, Karl, and Van Gundy have done year after year is some sort of different animal?

    At this point I hope we get jobbed very very obviously on the 4th quarter calls in game 6. I hope chauncey steps out of bounds on multiple 3s, and I hope they bail him out with “invisible” fouls in the 4th every time he turns the ball over. I think I’d enjoy that even if we lost.

  194. “Lamar played good,” Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups said Thursday. “You’ve got to tip your hat to him. But every game is different. Now he’ll be a little more in the scouting report. I feel fine about the way we’ve controlled what he’s doing.”

    Billups is kidding right? I dont think anyone controls what Odom does but Odom. I suggest they concentrate on something more constant like Kobe and Gasol. Forget the variable in Lamar. Even the Laker coaches dont know what they are going to get from him. I bet Lamar doesnt even know what he is going to get from himself.

  195. #194 – I agree with you 100%. Odom’s head controls what he does. The whole thing is being aggressive. Even says focused, but it really comes down to being aggressive.

    Post today about LeBron’s Playoffs: http://therookiecontract.com/

  196. Weather report: Joey Crawford, Mike Callahan, Mark Wunderlich.

    I’m optimistic for neutral, let-them-play officiating tonight. However, Tim Duncan just got a technical, disturbing his Apple Genius Bar customers.

  197. I agree with drrayeye in #187. Let’s end this tonight. We can’t depend on Denver folding or going out with a whimper – we must take this game. And along with drrayeye’s keys, here are a couple of my own:

    *Attack Nene. Denver has proven to be a different team when Nene is in foul trouble. He’s key to their P&R and interior defense(s) and is their best passing AND finishing big man. Once Andersen comes in, they are more prone to giving up offensive boards and become less reliable with their interior rotations (they may get more blocks, but they also give up more lanes to the basket). Attack Nene on the block and off the dribble with Gasol and Kobe should do the same when handling the ball.

    *Space the floor. Game 5 was the game where our spacing was best – especially in the deciding quarter. Denver decided that they would double team Kobe a lot last game and he killed them with the pass. I don’t expect we’ll see that same tactic from Denver as they should expect the same result. That means we need to give Kobe room to operate by spacing the floor. If we’re properly spaced Kobe will have the room he needs to attack the defender that’s on him and it will also give him the space to deal with the double team (if it does come) and stretch out the Nuggs D, making passing lanes more open.

    *Stay agressive with our SSZ. Denver says they adjusted and are ready for our trapping. Make them prove it. Earlier in the series *if* we doubled, it was soft. In game 5 we trapped the ball handler and made him panic. Let’s have more of that and see if they can still function with Ariza and Odom trapping Melo on the wing. Or Kobe and Odom/Gasol trapping Billups on the wing.

    *End every stop with a rebound. Denver only stayed in Game 5 in the first half because they were grabbing a bunch of their own misses and making us pay. Secure the ball, push it back at them and then establish the post to play inside-out. We can create cross matches in transition and we can get them in scramble mode if we get up court quickly and start to move the ball.

  198. Coffee is For Closers May 29, 2009 at 8:58 am

    198. Couldn’t agree more re: Nene, he’s been huge in this series, and I feel like the Lakers finally figured out how to deal with anderson. When Nene is out of the game, the Lakers are crazy if they don’t try to force it inside every trip down. Anderson, while a great help shot blocker, looks absolutely feeble when he’s being posted up. At least kenyon battles, but anderson looks like he’d rather be somewhere else.

    Re our SSZ, am I expecting too much for andrew to wake up when he’s on the weak side? How many times has he dozed to allow Gasol’s man an easy path to the hoop off a pass or a non-block out rebound put back?

  199. 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.

  200. 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

  201. 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.”

  202. 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.

  203. 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.

  204. 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.

  205. 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. :)

  206. 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 eswarm.com

  207. 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.

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

  209. 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.