Time To Celebrate

Kurt —  May 29, 2009

LAKERS
I thought George Karl said something very telling in his post game press conference.

He said that at the start of the series and through the first few games he saw the cracks in the Lakers, the places to attack and exploit, but by the end they had sealed those up and become a better team. That is what we didn’t see from the Lakers last year, when they ran into a team that could really exploit those cracks, they could not seal them up in the finals.

This year was different. There are a lot of people, myself included, that said after the last game “These are the Lakers I remember.” But no they are not, they are better. It was one thing to play like the Lakers did tonight against a lesser team that had no time to scout them in January. It’s another thing entirely to do it against a very athletic, confident team in a playoff series where that team has time and games to scout you and know what you do.

Lakers fans, enjoy this. There are far too few opportunities to soak in moments like this. There are some big games down the road, and tomorrow night we can be scouting. Another night we can break down the Xs and Os. But for now have your favorite adult malted beverage, relax and enjoy this.

Because what we saw tonight as Lakers fans was special

Kurt

Posts

107 responses to Time To Celebrate

  1. Another W when we use the live chat. Let’s keep that streak alive and raise up the 15th banner.

  2. The name of this game should be “Our Way” – as in we won this game Our Way.

    We didn’t bully, we didn’t low bridge, we didn’t bad mouth anyone. What we did was to surgically remove the opponent’s heart.

    When we run our offense two things happen…
    1) We get open shots
    2) Our defense is in place if we miss

    This is the type of team we are. This is why Phil wants an athletic, smart team and not a team of powerful, but not so smart athletes.

  3. Truly a complete effort in Game 6 from the Lake Show! No one can beat us if we bring it like this. Takes me back to the championship years where we would buckle down and finish off opponents. Bring on the Magic/Cavs!

  4. Never knew how seriously Rambis was considered for the Philly job, but ESPN is reporting that Eddie Jordan has been hired.

    Good news for the Rambis post-PJax fans.

  5. what I particularly loved tonight was the post game celebration, handing out the “Western Conference Champions” trophy. It was almost awkward, a smattering of applause, Fish didn’t even smile, some of the new guys clapped, but this team isn’t going to celebrate at this juncture. This is just a step on the road to the ultimate goal, nothing less that the NBA Championship this year.
    I would like to point out to the many Fish bashers during this and the last series, that tonight, he was a big part of the victory. the rally that started late in the second quarter started when Fish came in and hit a bucket, got a steal, got an assist, and the a defensive rebound, anyway, my point is that for a stretch when he came in he was instrumental in what I felt was the game changing part of this game. And, I hate to call out at anyone in particular, but some of you folks ought to acknowledge that he played a very good game tonight. (and it wasn’t in the stats, go back and watch this game again, I did, because I restarted the game at half time when my wife came home and we watched it together from the start, so this is why I can say this from my perspective).
    also, loved seeing Shannon get the 4th quarter burn, and sorry to say this, but that Sasha didn’t get off the bench until garbage time. Shannon has a great future with this team.
    so does Trevor and Lamar, I hope.
    whew, another FINALS! yeah!!!

  6. looking back.. lakers could have gone for a title last year. but this is truly their year.. congratulations Lakers! Rest well until the NBA Finals! This is the start of a new Lakers Dynasty…

  7. I just couldn’t stop clapping and whooping it up!! This team will win the title. The post game behavior said it all – great win, more work to do. And Karl’s comment about even Jesus couldn’t guard Kobe was priceless. Bring on the Finals!!

  8. The Dude Abides May 29, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Well, I was at a friend’s house for a Laker party with 20 people, so I missed all the comments in tonight’s game threads. But I must say, the Laker execution tonight was absolutely ruthless. No mercy, no letup. In fact, it was so cold-blooded that the Nuggets cracked late in the 3rd quarter. DEN was on an 8-0 run and our lead had been cut to 79-67, the Lakers missed a shot, and Kenyon Martin was laid out on the floor. What did he do? He trapped Sasha’s leg with both of his legs when Sasha was trying for the loose ball, right in front of the ref. The Nuggs were in the penalty. Two FTs for Sasha, ending the run. DEN goes down for its last possession of the quarter, Pau breaks up the alley-oop, Sasha grabs the loose ball and starts dribbling up court with six seconds left in the quarter. What happens? The Nuggs grab Sasha’s left arm to hold him up. Why not just let him dribble for five seconds and miss the shot or make a bad pass, like he’s been doing all postseason? Dumb. Two more FTs, and the lead is back up to 16 entering the 4th quarter. GAME OVER, and all because DEN lost its poise, even Chauncey. He hit Pau twice in the head and got called for a flagrant. It was so out of character that the ref didn’t even call the first flagrant, he was so surprised. Then Chauncey did it again one or two seconds later. Flagrant foul, Lakers push the lead to 21. On to the Finals!

  9. Can’t wait for the Finals. Either opponent will be fun. LeBron vs Kobe is the league dream of course.

    But, think of the entertainment value of Shaq popping off about Orlando in the Finals. His first team, his old positon manned by the young upstart … any chance ABC will hire Shaq as a guest commentator?

  10. AP is reporting Nene fractured his forearm during the game. Just another reason this Nuggets team has kind of won me over. They’re a gutsy, scrappy team.

  11. I’m 37 years old and i’ve been a Laker fan for 30 years…and 15 finals appearances. I will admit that it’s an embarrassment of riches. And I might actually feel embarrassed about it, except that I’m also a Cal alum, so you know, I know both sides of that coin.

    Also: vegetables are bacon.

  12. Cherith Cutestory May 29, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    How about some love for the refs tonight? I thought the officiating was great – very few bail out fouls and I felt every call was vindicated by slow motion replay. Even before the Lakers blew the game open I was impressed with the officials. After all of the Simmons-fueled outrage over the past few days, I hope this game eases some of the criticism.

  13. 4, Philly is blind, but we are the beneficiary…just a fantastic game of execution, just a joy to watch. Can’t wait to watch it again in the morning…

  14. lets go lakers i love this team im from Alabama but this team is great my favorite team Kobe the black mamba is a great player

  15. Couldn’t have asked for a better win. All wins are awesome, but this one actually put meaning to the name victory. We executed perfectly. Just seemed that everyone had their own stamp on this game. A great team effort. Close-out W on the road to silence the critics while pleasing the unfulfilled stomachs of us true Laker die-hards that were anxiously waiting for this amazing potential to be finally conquered. Can’t say anything more than just, a special victory.

  16. true wild the lakers played great tonight Lamar Odom was excellent so was trevor ariza i think the lakers played like we knew they could great win i hope the lakers can raise there 15teenth championship banner

  17. now I know how the “dude” feels…
    stuck in moderation.
    what did we do kurt?

  18. Totally Agree, this was a special win. For this group to win this game, against this team, is special. They’ve been labeled every name in the book, yet their focus, drive, determination pulled them through. Add to the fact the Nuggets were playing like a deer in head lights from all the attention and pressure being in Denver. It takes a special player to succeed when the pressure in on.

  19. anybody in here have a myspace

  20. The Dude Abides May 29, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Chris H, my last post has been stuck in moderation for 41 minutes. Anyway, I would have to say that Andrew Bynum had the best two point, one rebound, one block performance I’ve ever seen. He was out of sync on offense, but I think he caused AT LEAST ten missed shots on defense.

  21. yea i think Andrew Bynum will develope and be a great athlete

  22. John Barry and Wilbon thought Denver for sure would win this game….yea, not even close to happening. I hope they can carry this into the finals.

  23. yea im always wearing a Laker jersey during the games

  24. This was the type of game I’ve been waiting for the last month. This was the type of game I expected to see from this team after watching them all year, when they were a team that consistently brought their best when their best was required. A team that lost their starting center at the beginning of the most important road trip of the year and then went on to beat both Boston and Cleveland on that trip. This was that team.

    I hate to admit it, but I lost a little faith in this team during the Houston series after we failed to close it out in Game 6. In my mind, a championship team would have ended it there, and when they didn’t, I started to doubt that this was that type of team, even though they convinced me time after time during the regular season.

    But now my faith has been restored. To soundly beat a team as talented and as “tough” as Denver, a team that had been playing the best ball in the playoffs coming into this series, a team that easily could have swept us *in this series* if not for two Ariza steals, says something about the mettle of this team. And they way went about it was exhilarating. True, team ball, with beautiful movement and execution on offense with everyone getting in on the act. Especially when compared with the Nuggets, who were so taken out of their game that they basically ran a 1-on-5 offense the whole second half.

    Great, great, great win.

  25. j. d. hastings May 30, 2009 at 12:02 am

    All respect to Denver. They are a great team. As much as I dislike several of them specifically, that’s the sign of a good opponent. With Houston I hope they have prepared the Lakers for whoever they face in the finals.

    Also- the denver fans we’ve had here for the series have been classy and offered a lot, and I hope we and their team have to prove each other against them in the years to come.

  26. j. d. hastings May 30, 2009 at 12:05 am

    PS the above head photo of Kobe on the front page of espn right now is an all time great

  27. I thought Bynum played well in the 3rd quarter today. Ever since his return from injury, he hasn’t really contested shots in the paint – he would just put his hands up in the air and hope for the best.

    I noticed that he finally started to really bother Denver’s shots in the paint tonight with his length and elevation. Hopefully as he recovers from his knee injury, he’ll be able to swat some of those shots and become a force in the paint on defense.

  28. Before the Western Conference Playoffs began, many expected the Lakers to win through quite easily–but the road proved bumpier and more full of potholes than expected. In fact, some openly predicted that the Nuggs would win the Conference–and the first four games showed two very evenly matched teams gritting it out.

    Just as suddenly as they disappeared, the Champion Lakers reappeared tonight–and they made winning seem so easy.

    I suspect that at least some of us will back off from grandiose predictions and enjoy the Championship series game by game-regardless of the opponent. Let’s continuous to enjoy the ride–wherever it takes us.

    It’s been a real blast so far!

  29. All men everywhere must acknowledge that humble pie is high on the list of the less tasty pies. With sulky reluctance I now raise my fork and prepare to take a bite.

    A few days past, on this very blog, I wrote the following words: “F*** you, Simers, this fight’s going seven rounds.” Mr. Simers had been covering the series with his usual combination, a one-two punch of reactionary bombast or bile. He seemed especially delighted with the idea that not instantly felling one’s foe was the veriest sign of a coward. Defeating an adversary, sans adversity, is the standard of heroism.

    In a fit of bravado and righteous indignation, I replied to the effect that glory lies at the further end of the long dark passage of pain. Also that it was immoral, in the ancient sense, to demand that one’s team never doubt, or show weakness, or fear, while wallowing in a viscid pool of all three oneself.

    But I spoke too soon; I spoke too fast; I erred on the side of caution. The fight went six rounds, not seven. And so, with a shrinking gullet, I mouth this clump of humble pie and chew. I was wrong.

    And yet — my expression changes; my eyes, wet with anticipatory revulsion, clear keen; I dig in with greater commitment; my gullet expands in relief. This dish is actually not bad. A little too much bombast, but free, thank God, of bile. Poor Mr. Simers, to have that rancidness constantly souring his breath and palate.

    The pie is all gone. What else have I learned during this grueling contest of heavyweights? Two things, I think. The first is that greatness, like truth, will out. It was absurd to imagine that destiny could be checked by an accident so trivial as Sasha not hitting his jump shots. Kobe Bryant is the greatest player living, and he has become so by living, that is, by accepting the fact of suffering and its inverse relation to joy.

    The second is that perfect love casteth out all fear. No, that is much too bombastic; rather, that trying to love a team, a player, a coach, in the moment they need love, which is as a rule the moment they’re unlovable, is better than nothing, and casteth out enough fear that one can watch the playoffs and not fall raging apart.

    Congratulations, Lakers fans; congratulations, Kobe; Fisher, Odom, congrats; Gasol, congrats, congrats; Ariza, those steals are written in fire on my brain, congrats; congratulations, Phil, Tex; and to you, Andrew Bynum, congrats; congratulations, Luke son of Walton! and all the rest of the sundogs; and finally, to close the circle, and wash down my meal with a shot of cheap vodka: F*** you, Simers, this fight went six rounds.

  30. I am certainly going to savor this moment at this time of the season with a feeling of happiness and contentment. I now have a warm feeling inside of me that the future will be bright for this Laker team.

    Optimism and the power of hope.

  31. great, encouraging basketball

    team work is a thing of beauty

    I hope this series taught the lakers that as evident in the final 2 games.

  32. We had an out and out Walton sighting!

    Life is good!

  33. This is the type of closing out win that you feel good about.

    A glimpse of something from the game before FINALLY carrying over to the next game and throughout 48 minutes.

    I hope they can channel this game whenever they find themselves in a funk in the next round.

    Of course, if they channel it from the start, I’m not sure if there’ll BE a funk.

  34. larryobrieninla May 30, 2009 at 1:08 am

    very few teams make back to back appearances. 4 more to go guys! and what a great way to end a tough series and show where you’re at for the the big one.

  35. 12 down, 4 to go. Beautiful win tonight, focused and consistent. Once again, it’s on! Finalsly…

  36. great win even when Denver kept it close cuz of the lakers turnovers u jus knew we wud pull it out because of the great execution and focus the lakers had on both sides of the ball. Back2back western conference champions! Let’s go and get that ‘ship!!

  37. I think the team that hires Rambus will have to be looking for a system coach and not require they be ultra charismatic. Since the trend these days is to run free and have a really sellable front man, Kurt will have to wait for the right situation – hopefully with the Lakers.

  38. My greatest and sincerest congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers and each and every one of you running this marvelous site, especially to Kurt.

    Although I haven’t been as active responding and posting comments, I appreciate the more the way Laker fans handle things.

    We are proud to have the smartest fans in the world collaborating in one site to provide hollow, informative thoughts and up-to-date stats to make reading and understanding more easier.

    And while it pains me to watch my team end an astoundingly overachieved season on a sour note (though they fought with the heart of a warrior but the skills of a child), it thrills me to see the greatest player in the world, Kobe Jellybean Bryant, get back and continue the “Redemption Road” after losing to the NBA Finals in six games against Boston.

    “To my friends and foes, what a season it has been,
    From doubts to deliver, from a noble to a king.
    Unforgettable, unimaginable, though lost, still a win,
    When we all look back, and say ‘what a season it has been.’ ”

    ——–
    Now, let’s go LA!! And let’s go Kobe!

  39. PeanutButterSpread May 30, 2009 at 3:12 am

    24 out of 24 Free Throws.

    WOW.

    The Lakers were focused and I loved every minute of their intensity.

    I just have to point out the free throws because tonight, every single Laker that shot a free throw made EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

    Couldn’t be more proud of the guys.

    I enjoyed this win with a nice peach Bellini.

  40. About freethrows…When Kobe started off hitting all of his he set an example the others had to follow. Of course Sasha is still a very good freethrower, but Lamar really came through with his 4. Pau made his 2, but that is the extent of players shooting freethrows. I think that is one reason for our success.

  41. Watched all the games starting at 3 a.m. here in Germany, going to bed again at 6 a.m. either a little frustrated or as happy as after games 5 and 6.

    In those three hours, sitting in front of an internet live stream by myself, in my Lakers shirt, hoping that my neighbors are not getting up early or coming home late, seeing me sitting there through the window and wondering what the hell is going on there.

    And when the game-deciding phase is on, late in the third quarter or starting the 4th, also putting on my Lakers cap that a Celtics fan bought me when he went to the All Star game. I figured for a Celtics fan to have bought this, he must have felt quite embarrassed doing it, so this is now my gamebreaking good-luck charm. And thanks to Lamar, now termed my “focus cap”.

    Such has been life as an overseas Laker fan, and although it’ll take until the end of June to get back to a normal sleeping cycle, what a ride it has been.

    4 more wins.

  42. What a near-flawless game. On offense, I love the ball movement. How many times did we get open looks — no — how many times did we shoot tonight with a hand in our face? Great interior passing as well. On D, I loved Bynum/LO/Pau vertical clogging, not fouling, just contesting shots. This is the Laker team I expect to see the next two weeks, no matter who we’re playing. Like Kobe said, No Mercy! Let’s go win this thing — and start a nice little run of championships.

  43. Oh and by the way, Trevor Ariza, on most teams is a budding all-star in this league. I live in Boston, and I know the Celtics would have given anything to have him this year. Seriously, has anyone really thought about how talented this team is? Aside from point guard, they have an all-star type player at every position.

  44. Oh, and finally…

    Birdman’s name wasn’t called once last night. WINGS CLIPPED!

  45. All Hail the perfect glory of the Lakers!
    Tonight was a transcedental Journey and the Legacy of greatness that the Lakers embody was realized again! HAIL LAKERS!!

  46. Warren Wee Lim May 30, 2009 at 6:36 am

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Lots of love from the Philippine contingent of Laker fans!

    Can’t be here for long, haven’t been for awhile but you bet I was biting off my nails till it bled.

    Chris H, Drrayeye, Dude Abides and Craig, sup fellas! Guess we didn’t need my very 1st post so much.

  47. Congrats everyone! I really enjoyed the win. My favorite moment came at the end of the first half when Kobe drained a 3 at the offensive end and came back to block Melo’s shot in the waning seconds. That sequence was truly special

  48. Complete.

    What else is there to say?

    It was a complete game for the whole team. A proper way to head into the Finals.

    Dex,

    I hear you. I posted a comment on SS & R, asking what Simers could possibly write about today. There was nothing for his pompous ass to harass Phil about, or question.

    I’m sure he’ll come up with something. I ask for him to be fired everyday now in my links.

  49. There’s really nothing I can say that hasn’t been said, but I’m gonna post anyway because the Lakers deserve all the praise and more. It was an absolutely beautiful performance.

  50. @34

    of course, the last team i know that went back to back lost both times (NJ)

    one to us, and the other to the spurs

    Hopefully we change that :)

  51. Embrace the struggle. Goals and accomplishments are great, but they exist in the future and in the past. As such, they are beyond our immediate senses. But to struggle, to work, and to overcome, that’s the joy of here and now. You can taste it. You can feel it. I’ve been a Lakers fan for 38 years. I’ll take this kind of WCC over last year’s any day. This reminded me of the 2002 WCC over a similar Kings team that was defiant, confident, and immensely skilled. Or the 1988 WCC over the Mavs in 7 games, sandwiched between 7 game brawls with Utah and Detroit. The greater the struggle, the greater the reward.

  52. So much to like about last night’s game but these stick out.

    -Loved Bynum’s first two fouls. They were hard (but not dirty). Loved his presence on D.

    -Pau is no enforcer, but anyone who calls him soft is out to lunch. Loved his defensive work and his O is a thing of beauty.

    -Role players hitting shots. Role players hustling.

    -LO’s heart.

    -Kobe’s trust.

    -Phil actually calling a timely timeout.

  53. If Odom keeps himself alive long enough to produce 4 more games like that one, there’s no way the Lakers lose, regardless of who they play. Neither Cleveland nor Orlando has a particularly explosive bench, and they certainly don’t have anyone who can match up with Odom.

  54. 46

    The Pistons also went back-to-back in ’04 and ’05, although most Laker fans have probably suppressed that from memory. :(

  55. As players, I’m glad they’re not satisfied. As fans, we should be ecstatic and enjoy every bit of the journey along the way. It’s probably been said 100 times, but the ball movement, cutting, and overall offensive execution was so beautiful I was moved to tears.

    5 – lol I know what you’re getting at. Notwithstanding that I already acknowledged Fish (here: http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2009/05/24/game-three-%e2%80%94-when-kobe-and-gasol-stepped-up/#comment-614280), Fish deserves props for playing solidly last night (5,4,4 and 1 TO is a good game from him). After an awful start to the game (in which he killed the momentum we started the game off with, with an awful drive/TO and PUJIT), he came on strong. Why? Because the first shot he took was an open J predicated off the triangle. When he plays within the triangle, he’s one of the most fun players in the league.

    Not just Fish, but everyone deserves props. Sasha, Luke, WOW, everyone came through. Lamar Odom hitting the cold blooded 3 to take the life out of the crowd? Wow.

    The Nuggets fans deserves props as well. I was amazed at how, even when down 20, they were rocking the stadium with every Denver bucket. The Nuggets players, not so much. It’s very telling that once the game was out of hand, I wanted all our starters out because I was terrified someone would throw a cheap shot. Still, they’re a talented team, and I think they’ll be back.

  56. Some quick appreciations.

    – Ariza we all know about. But here’s more props to the coaching staff for encouraging his shooting the 3. Abbott has it right — during the season the Lakers gave up something while they let Ariza work on shooting the 3 at game speed, and it’s paid off so far this playoffs. More subtly, it seems to me that when Ariza arrived his offense consisted of slashes to dunks and offensive rebound putbacks. Now he’s not only added the 3, but an array of peculiar Kobe-like twisty moves around the rim where he elevates and tosses the ball in at peculiar angles. That aspect of the game — finishing in close without the dunk — has really elevated his game. The last half of the season Ariza got comfortable with the 3 but seemed to lose the slashing aspect. The end of the year and the playoffs saw the return of Ariza taking it to the hoop.

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-40-163/Fantastic–Phil-Jackson-Trusted-Trevor-Ariza-to-Shoot.html

    Ariza deserves a ton of credit, but he didn’t thrive under two previous good coaches, Larry Brown or SVG, so also credit the coaches for getting the most out of him.

    – WOW. On that note, let us appreciate WOW. He’s been a journeyman (since 06 also on the Cavs, Bulls, Bobcats) who’s never been trusted with real minutes. On arrival, he was reported to be big hops with bad decisions. Now he seems to have found the right system for him, where he doesn’t have to create off the dribble or run the PnR all the time (apparently not his strengths). Instead, he can make the right pass, screen, spot up, and drive off pinch post hand-offs. No one had previously taken advantage of his strengths before (who knew he was such a cold-blooded spot-up shooter?!). Props to him for his hustle, work and attitude, but props too to the coaches.

    – Phil and Staff. In addition to cultivating their young talent (Don’t you tire of the whole “Phil can’t handle rookies” theme? That’s lazy journalism.), they have been managing to handle a big team transition while advancing through a tough West. They are (1) re-integrating an erratic Bynum, pushing Odom to the bench and DJ and Powell to DNPs, (2) integrating WOW while displacing Farmar and Sasha while (3) trying to rest a fatigued Pau, injured Odom, and fatigued/injured Kobe. All this while fighting off the best of the West (and we did play the best three other teams) with shorthanded, limited practices.

    – Luke. The guy can pass. The guy knows the system. He is a rugged, if pokey, defender. He is detested by casual Laker fans whose appreciation of basketball seems to start and end at fantasy value. If he gets confident in his shot (and he does have one), he is so important to the team.

    – Kobe. We take hi so much for granted. I bet if Lebron were playing with 3.5 fingers on his shooting hand, we would have heard about it every day. Maybe the Cavs fans would have turned it into a “shocker”-like hand symbol of honor.

    ps. I just saw “Kobe Doin’ Work”. I thought it was a bit slow, but interesting. I wish I could have heard more of the conversations between players and coaches and to really hear him dissect some plays, but that might have been even more boring for casual fans.

    My big gripe: What is with all the bizarre, unprofessional writing about how Kobe faked teaching his teammates the whole game for the cameras? How idiotic is that? First, having been filmed in my own practice a fair amount, I’ll say you are a little bit self-conscious, but it passes as you get caught up in your actual work. Second, this was a huge game in the season. Remember the playoff seedings came down to the last day that year. You think Kobe’s going to act all different and mess up the game just to look good in some Spike fanflick that might never be made? Third, the rest of it is completely without evidence. Anyone who’s followed the Lakers knows that Kobe IS always yakking about something to his teammates. Say that “Doin Work” is boring, uninsightful, sanitized… fine I respect your opinion. Saying that Kobe was a complete faker the whole time says a lot more about you than the movie.

  57. Horray, we won! On the side note, i love Luke Walton quote about his team playing for 48 minute for once. If the Lakers have this mentality for the rest of the playoff, it is a giving that they won the championship.

  58. Coffee is for Closers May 30, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Surgical.

    Great poise and precision last night. Loved it. Enjoyed watching the nuggets show the lack of poise I knew they still had in them. I heard melo had been having migraines. He’s raised himself in these playoffs to superstar status but he never looked the same after game 2. Pau was absolutely amazing in that 3rd quarter, positively en fuego. He throws up these little flicks, that don’t seem like they should go in with the frequency they do. I loved how they stayed on top of denver the entire 2nd half, denver just capitulated.

    I suppose i’m pulling for orlando tonight, but i actually think they could pose more problems with their drive and kick offense.

  59. 55 snoop — yes, those fans were rocking.

    I am not so sure that Denver will be back. If they could bring their team back intact, then I say yes. But Hollinger’s column today argues that Denver is either going to cut costs more and lose some important role players (likely) or could go for it and bring in an expensive talent because of a big trade exception from the AI trade (unlikely).

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=denverend-090530

    I would think a strong offensive post player would really make that team a big problem.

  60. Oh, and btw – thanks to the Denver fans like Birdman who joined us for the series and shared their insight with us. It’s always fun to pick up intelligent fans from other teams, I hope we continue to see you guys on here.

  61. to rephrase
    the Malone classic quote–

    fo’ mo’ 2 go.

    – 5 -

  62. Apricot, agreed on Kobe Doin’ Work (both in regards to the doc’s quality and mob reactions). It was slow, and a bit thrown together, but it was really just an experiment after all, and something of a brave one — to just pick a game and shoot it from start to finish, not knowing what you’d get — and I compare it to those little first-hand accounts written by the friends of acquaintances of men of genius, which are usually 90 percent dross and 10 percent gold, and when you get enough of them together you have the raw materials for a really glittering biography.

  63. I’ve had to watch the last few games on a slight delay, and therefore haven’t been able to participate in the live blogs, but rest assured that I saw and enjoyed every minute of both wins (especially last night’s).

    Today, I just want to take stock and bask in the Lakers’ accomplishment(s): while I think it’s only right that the team isn’t merely satisfied by getting back to the Finals, I think as fans there’s really nothing more we can ask for … we’re there, we’ll have a shot at another title, now anything can happen. We should all be proud of these guys.

    After almost 20 years of rooting for the Lakers (yikes), I’d probably still maintain that last year’s squad was the most satisfying I’ve ever followed … simply because of how our success was completely unexpected following an offseason of ugly chaos and uglier Kobe trade drama. However for this 2009 team, carrying all season long the heavy burden of our raised expectations, for them to make a return to the Championship Series might really be the more impressive feat.

    This is why I shelled out almost two hundred bucks for the NBA League Pass so I could watch every single game LA has played. This is why I stay up until 3 am, EST, on work nights to watch the last seconds tick off the game clock. This is why I let me girlfriend think I’m crazy for getting so emotionally invested in a basketball team that I’m yelling at the TV and scaring our cat. This moment. Right here. Back in the Finals, where anything can happen.

    And it’s glorious.

  64. I mentioned this during the live blog, but Denver ruined themselves when they decided that double teaming would be their defensive strategy. Go read Kevin Arnovitz over at True Hoop for a solid break down.

    In the end, that double teaming style was an easy code to crack. When you have two of the better playmakers at their positions in Kobe and Gasol AND have an offensive system with built in movement and progression reads, you have execution like last night. And when you combine all that with focus and shot making, you have results like last night. Brilliant basketball by players and coaches that understood the path to victory. In hindsight, this series was like a chess match where, at a certain point in the match, the superior player can say “this will be over in 12 moves” – the board is laid out, strategy has been revealed, and now execution is all that remains.

  65. Gotta love how AB and Gasol set the tone defensively for the laker big men, showing hard on the pick and roll and recovering quickly to defend the hoop. And when there were breakdowns on the perimeter, Drew met Melo at the hoop with a hard fouls and good contests.

    Cavs or Magic, both teams run a lot of pnr with LBJ or Turkoglu, so we’ll need to see a lot more of the same from our starting big men in the finals.

    Can ESPN please get off of LB23’s jock and show some love to Kobe!! He went Mike Jordan on the Nuggets last night. Absolutely cold-blooded performance by Kobe.

    All this gushing over Lebron makes no sense when the guy hasn’t won a finals game, and he’s down 3-2 in a series that he started with home court. And quit blaming his teammates! You don’t earn the leagues best record (better than Lakers, Celtics, Magic) without some decent help. If Lebron goes home tonight, there’s no question Kobe is still the best in the game.

  66. anyone have a link to Kobe doin Work ?

  67. here’s a nice bit from the Times Lakers blog, it’s a transcript of the post game interviews-
    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2009/05/quotes-phil-jackson-kobe-bryant-pau-gasol-nba-finals.html

  68. what led Denver to change their defensive strategy?

  69. That was a fantastic game for the Lakers and there fans for sure. What I didn’t get was the sudden doubles on Kobe starting in the second half of Game 5. Generally speaking doubling Kobe leads to open shots for other Laker players.

    Great post today defending Phil Jackson and talking playoff coaching and officiating: http://therookiecontract.com/

  70. Bynum talking defense!

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/bynum-lakers-denver-2434376-first-shots

    I just fear the foul trouble. I really, really want to avoid putting Pau on Howard at all costs. Pau is our bread and butter on the offensive end, he has to stay fresh and out of foul trouble. If the Magic win, I want to see Mbenga get minutes, and if he has to, foul out every game.

    Game plan vs the Magic, IMO, is to try to play Howard straight up and mix in some weak side doubles. Their shooters are just too dangerous to double him every time. We’ll have to come up with better ways to defend the screen roll, though. Sagging off Howard to pressure Hedo is a good option; I’ve noticed Hedo doesn’t pass to a rolling Howard nearly as much as he should. He also seems to cough up a lot of finishes in the paint; length and strong contests should bother him.

    An Odom/Bynum line-up is probably our best defensively against the Magic. I don’t want Pau on Howard, and Odom matches up better with Lewis.

  71. Shaun (#66),

    Check out Lakersmedia.com. They have “Kobe doin’ work” parsed out in 3 parts.

    I loved how not one player touched the West Conf Trophy last night…….poetic.

  72. 38.

    Birdman, you are welcome anytime.

    63.

    Joel R, Amen.

  73. Wow. This team adjusted, in series, twice. Now they just need to stay focused and do it again. Before the Denver series I was worried about the Orlando match up. Now I’m not. This team has proved they can respond and refocus their game to take advantage of whatever style of opponent they’re playing. That is something that was missing last year.

    I’m thinking these days off will be the cure for what ails Fish’s 3 point shot. Like Ray last season. If he and Ariza can keep the floor spread…the Lakers will be in good shape.

    When the Lakers are firing on all cylinders like they were in Game 6 it is a beautiful sight to behold.

  74. Haters are Silent,
    Simers, Simmons, and Abbot
    Hoping for Lebron

    Lukver Wariza
    Kobe Jelly Bean Bryant
    Pau, Lamar step up

    What does this win mean?
    For Warren, Kaifa and me?
    Blissful, peaceful sleep

  75. Keep the eyes on the prize Lakers!

    Are FT %s a good barometer for the team’s focus? It always just seems like we play like we mean it when we are hitting a high %.

    And this game is a reason why Kobe is the most clutch player in the game today. Being clutch is not about the last five minutes of the game. He ended the half with so much momentum by himself with 7 straight points and a huge blk on Melo. That’s the Kobe we know and love.

  76. #68 Chibi,
    I think Denver started to double because no other Laker was really hurting them by making shots (sans Ariza – which was sporadic). So if Kobe and Gasol are the only players that can make shots, why not take the ball out of their hands and make the guys who can’t shoot make some shots? However, it was an obvious miscalculation. Our shooters couldn’t make shots because Denver was not in scramble mode and were recovering nicely to our shooters and contesting. However, when Denver went into double team mode, they left our shooters wide open and also missed several assignments. The Lakers role players might struggle when shooting with a hand in the face, but they can hit shots when absolutely no one is guarding them or when they get shots right at the basket with a late helper contesting. Suffice to say, Denver messed up.

  77. Exactly, Bill Bridges. I’m looking forward to Monday and the inevitable flood of back-peddling Laker fluff pieces from your higher profile national sports commentators. Just goes to show you always need to take their opinions with an entire salt lick chaser.

    As a fan of the Lakers (and of good basketball), I say bring on the best competition the East has to offer. However, there’s a part of me … petty as it may be … that would love to see Orlando advance just so Bill Simmons would be forced to defend the sweeping statements he made in that infamous live chat about the inevitability of Lebron’s ascendance.

    Man, that would be sweet.

  78. Recommend this breakdown of game 6. Kevin Pelton points out that the Lakers’ offensive efficiency in the second half was 150 points per 100 possessions. Simply unreal.

  79. Not enough can be said about the ultra-focused effort tonight. It truly was a championship performance.

    I loved how patient and fundamentally sound we were on both ends of the floor. No needless fouls, no forced shots. Just simple, confident execution. We played the right way and it payed off.

    Lamar and Kobe’s cold-blooded three’s only counted as three points each but they turned the game from a 7 pt contest to a 30 pt blowout. They were absolutely dejecting for the Nuggets.

    Den mixed up double teaming with one on one coverage. The problem is nobody can slow down Kobe or Pau. When we’re executing on all cylinders like that, the defense has no answer.

    I feel badly for the Nuggets. It was really not that much of a blowout. They donated some points to us by bad fouling, miscommunications on D, and overeager help. As much as I credit our team for going in there and sucking the life out of them right off the bat, Den definitely didn’t give their best effort tonight. They played great all series and fought. But it’s almost disappointing to see them go out like this. And I don’t know whether they were being out of character or essentially in character.

  80. Bill Bridges, thanks for the poetic shout-out. Although I’m thinking of giving up another good night’s sleep to get a closer look at our possible Finals opponents tonight.

    I loved the sequence last night of how Kobe was pulling everyone along in time-outs and huddles, giving strategic pointers and keeping them focused, especially Gasol after Billups’ hit to the head. He isn’t an emotional leader like Magic was or in the way LeBron acts around his teammates, but to say that he isn’t a good leader is ignoring the obvious.

    As every postseason run seems to have some kind of motto, I nominate “The beautiful struggle” for this year’s.

  81. Fan since sixty six
    Like a climb up Everest
    Camp Four and ascent

  82. I loved our defense in the 3rd quarter – there was a stretch about 3-4 defensive possessions when the game was still in doubt where the only shots they had were the rushed contested bricks of Kmart. Then when we went down and scored the game was blown wide open.

  83. I too found the double teams a bit weird.

    (Disclaimer: I wasn’t able to watch Games 1-3 except for the endings.)

    It looked like Denver was mixing some pack-line in the paint and double teams mixing up where the double came from. I don’t think the Lakers have a can’t miss reply to the first, but the second strategy, as Darius said, is an easy code to crack.

    The adjustment that I really admired about that was that Denver seemed to set up the double-teams to come from changing places with full intent to switch out to the three-point shooters. That will stymie the Lakers (our three-point shooting is erratic under pressure) unless they space well and dive down the lane as a second option.

    There was one sequence which typified the adjustment where Gasol got the ball, the double came, he had a passing lane out to the top of the key (Farmar?) and he faked a pass there, which sent Birdman flying out to the arc in rotation, so Lamar dove down the lane and got the ball for an easy 2. That was special.

    Bynum’s dunk and Ariza’s reverse jam also resulted from the same dive / not-settling for the 3. Luke’s jam was spiritually similar – heading for the rim when doubled off.

  84. When history examines this series, where do you guys think Karl’s decision to change up his defensive scheme after the 4th game- when they soundly beat the Lakers for the first time- will rank in the annals of curious coaching decisions?

  85. From Pick Axe & Roll, you really have to agree. Karl outdid himself this time:

    Pickaxe and Roll: “After playing four spectacular games in the series … the Nuggets decided to make one clear cut adjustment … DOUBLE TEAM THE LAKERS and specifically Kobe Bryant. This was probably the worst decision that I’ve ever seen from a team. The Nuggets competed and split the series 2-2 through four games. Then, for what seems like no reason … George Karl and his staff decided to abandon their philosophy of guarding teams one-on-one. Instead, the Nuggets (who have had rotation issues all season) went to a double the ball strategy that works on teams that don’t share the ball and play a selfish brand of basketball, but one that will kill you against unselfish teams. The Lakers and specifically Kobe Bryant play unselfish basketball (this isn’t the 81 Kobe anymore) … so Denver’s strategy went out the window, but instead of adjusting … the Nuggets kept with it (doubling) and lost both games 5 and 6 giving up easy looks and playing sloppy defense. It was back to the Enver Nuggets (yep no more D in Denver.)”

  86. j. d. hastings May 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Um yeah that last post was from me.

  87. KOBE!!! KOBE!! KOBE! You finally have enough pieces to get a championship. Go and get the 2009 championship in Mamba fashion. Your haters will still hate, but those of us whom have loved you will marvel at your skills and what it took for you to obtain a championship.

    I still remember the skinny bald headed kid that was cocky, when you first came into the league. Now, I see a mature and methodical leader. Your play in game 6 was exquisite!

    Kobe, you are unfortunate to be sandwiched between Michael Jordan and Lebron James in terms of being a media darling and the NBA’S poster man. But, that’s okay because history will be very, very kind to you.

    Love you Kobe!!!

  88. #74- Darius, thank you for the explanation.

    I’m not entirely sure that the doubles were entirely new. I believe the Nuggets generally doubled Kobe on his sweet spots with Melo, which explains why Ariza had many open 3pt looks throughout the series.

    I believe the Nuggets doubled, and doubled more often, because they felt the game slipping away. They were having a tough time scoring points, so they needed to force turnovers and create additional scoring opportunities to catch up.

    Initially, I thought Kobe was referring to their jacking up 3pt shots when he said they were playing “desperation basketball.” Now, I believe he meant not only their offense but defense too.

  89. I think I want the magic to win, just so the real best player on the planet can shine on his on. But the magic have to close it out tonight, because game seven will be officated by David Stern, Tim Donagey, and Pete Rose. There is no way possible Superman and crew go to the Q for game 7 and win. But (in KG voice..) ANYTHING IS POOOSSSSSIIIBBBLLLLLEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  90. Anyone here have any thoughts on who you’d rather face? I personally prefer Cleve, despite the huge HCA of 2-3-2. Matchup wise, it just seems so much better to me. Can you imagine how quickly Drew would pick up fouls against Howard… then what? Bring in Mbenga?

    Also, we let Kleiza hurt us from 3– can you imagine Lewis at that position instead?

    Lakers’ 3 major defensive weaknesses:

    1. Penetrating PGs
    2. A physical, active Center
    3. perim shooting.

    Orl is 3/3; Cle 0/3. (maybe .5/3)

    On the other side of the ball, I don’t think Cleve has any real answers for Kobe or Pau that Orl doesn’t share.

    Agree? Disagree?

  91. Mickael Pietrus looks like a defensive stud, but I had rarely watched him playing when he was in Golden State Warriors.

  92. #5, 55,

    I agree completely. Derek Fisher has almost redeemed himself–when he plays in the triangle, and especially when he gets those wide open corner shots, he shows everyone why he still has a starting spot. That’s what he is supposed to be doing.

    Don’t shoot in traffic, shoot the open 3 off the triangle! Combine that with a mental and emotional maturity (and a fearlessness matching Kobe), and he’s a good player. He’s not as young as he used to be, but he is absolutely an asset to the team and deserves to play in these finals.

    On that note, Luke Walton played fantastic. He’s one of the few current Lakers who has been in a situation with this kind of pressure before, and he is intelligent, knows the system and the triangle, and he knows basketball. He played very well.

    I said it after game 5 and I will say it again today: No ripping on Luke Walton this week! He was a solid contributor and deserves credit for what he brought to the team last night. If you want to rip on him, at least wait for the next time he does something really dumb–last night, he helped put us back in the Finals. Give the man his due.

    Denver Nuggets and George Karl:

    Well fought. Well played. Thank you for one **** of a series.

    Karl’s opening statement in the post-game interviews was one of the more classy and graceful concession speeches I have ever seen. No excuses, no bile or bitterness (though you could tell that he took the loss extremely hard), and most importantly he stood up for his players and pre-emptively defended them against any criticism from fans or journalists. Since I smacked him for not defending them earlier in the series, it seemed fair to acknowledge the compliments and praise he gave them now.

    If these Nuggets keep growing and keep learning, and develop in the right direction from here, they, like the Rockets, are on their way to becoming a very good team. A very scary opponent.

    Thanks for a good fight, Nuggets. And thanks to all Nuggets fans who posted here, and major props to the ones who stayed in the Pepsi Center to the end and cheered, chanted, shouted, and clapped for their team. The Nuggets gave all of us a great show, they deserve that from their fans.

  93. #86, Kobe Diem,
    If the Magic win, and the wrong incarnation of Andrew Bynum shows up, we’re toast. Unless he plays big and stays out of foul trouble, we have no way of stopping Dwight Howard.

  94. i hope the Lakers win the championship the lakers are a very good team lets go lakers bring the 15teenth championship back too la

  95. This has a familiar feeling like last year. Lakers riding high, favored to win the Finals. Only to be inferior to a mentally and physically tougher team on the eastern conference. I can’t imagine what Dwight will do to the Lakers front line. Its gonna be ugly folks.

  96. Officiating of tonight’s game will be interesting. And if the Cav’s win with anything even remotely resembling charitable reffing, many people will believe that the fix is in.

  97. … and there it is!

    Nice to see that a couple of you gave it at least 20 hours before finding something negative and defeatist to say about this Lakers team that’s heading back to the Finals for the second year in a row.

    Oh, and way to post about it in the “Time To Celebrate” thread. Perhaps I can re-direct your attention to the last paragraph in this very entry?

  98. j. d. hastings May 30, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    88- who is the magic’s penetrating PG?

  99. 96. exactly, people forget that we lost two very close games to orlando, the one in orlando i believe with a sasha 3 that was half-way down and would have given us a 2 point lead and the guy who killed us what jameer nelson who averaged 27 points per game. Put simply, if we can get away with single coverage defense of howard and defend the pick and roll we will be fine

  100. new post up for tonight’s game discussion, and looking forward to the finals.

  101. I know, we are supposed to be celebrating, so I will try to lead this back to the Lakers at the end of my question. Please bear with me, because I would really like some feedback on this.

    Here it is:

    I was just watching the pre-game show for tonight’s Cavs-Magic game, and of course they have an interview with Mo Williams there. Strangely, most of the questions seem to be about how great and amazing Lebron is, and very few are actually about Mo. I thought that was weird.

    And then something occurred to me as I was listening to Mo’s answers: He completely agrees with the hype. He talks about Lebron the way I talk about Kobe… He sounds like a devoted fan-boy!

    All Mo’s answers to questions about Lebron were all about “he’s real, he’s the real deal” we have to get him the ball more often”, and about how everything on their team is about their biggest star. According to Mo, the most important question after each game should be “did we go to him enough?”

    Mo Williams in the second guy on the Cavs, an all-star in his own right, and he is as completely in awe of The Chosen One as the most rabid Cavs fans are?

    As I saide, please bear with me, this will lead back to the Lakers.

    Remember recent interviews with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, with Trevor Ariza and Luke Walton? Pau wants the ball, in fact, he calls out his team mates for not giving it to him more often because “we have to go with what works”. Trevor Ariza and Luke Walton talks about spacing the floor and making 3-point shots, to give us multiple scoring options, because we want to punish our opponents for doubling or tripling Kobe. Lamar Odom says in pretty much every interview that he knows he has to show up ready to play and play hard, that he knows the team needs him to do his part.

    So when Mo Williams talks about Lebron, he sounds like a fan in awe of the amazing talent of a generation. When various Laker players talk about Kobe, their answers are centered on team work, how to contribute along side Kobe, and what the team as a whole needs to do. In other words, they don’t sound like devoted fans at all, but a lot more like team mates, working together to defeat a common enemy.

    Here it finally is, my question: Assuming the Cavs win their series, how will this difference in mentality and mindset from the role players and second and third bananas on the respective teams affect them going into the Finals? Or am I just reading way too much into one single interview and it won’t matter in the end? What do you think?

    Like I said, that interview was fascinating to watch, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

  102. lol @ 95

    Although I hope the media takes more of 93’s approach. I’m tired of being the favorite. Being the underdog, having that edge, is more fun. To me, at least.

    So apparently Barkley has driven drunk “hundreds of times” and it took him the one time he got caught to realize how “stupid” it is. You, good sir, are a f***** idiot.

  103. Argh! I just missed the new post!

    Would it be very rude and wrong of me to repost my long question in the new thread?

  104. I think Orlando is a tough matchup for LA, but no reason for doom and gloom. While Alston has filled the void nicely he is NO J. Nelson who (more than Howard) has been the one giving the Lakers headaches.

    The hot outside shooting of R. Lewis is certainly a cause for concern, but Pau can make him more than pay for it on the defensive end in the post, so I think we have a slight advantage there.

    Pietrus is an excellent defender but nowhere near the caliber of Battier/Artest.

    Bynum can somewhat contain Howard straight up. The Lakers will be successful if they can quickly double team when he puts the ball on the floor to disrupt his rhythm or go for the steal and recover on the outside with quick rotations.

  105. While Bynum has trouble on P&R defense and help assignments, he is a pretty solid 1-1 defender and one of the few centers that can size-up Howard.

    Many people forget that Bynum is 3-4 inches taller than Howard. While Howard certainly makes up most of his deficit with his upper body strength, going straight into the defenders chest, Bynum isn’t exactly Ilgauskus in terms of strength.

  106. LOL, Bynum will contain howard. He can’t put up consistent defensive efforts against Utah Jazz, Rockets, and Denver. All teams will centers considerably under 7 feet. Don’t count Yao, when 5 of those games he was out.

    Howard will destroy Gasol and Bynum and put each one in foul trouble more than you have seen the entire playoffs. The question is how much Gasol and Bynum will make Howard work on the defensive end and get in foul trouble. Gasol and Bynum are very talented offensive players. But they are HORRIBLE defensive players.

  107. My top 15 alltime right now is this

    1. Jordan

    2. Magic
    3. Bird
    4. Wilt
    5. Shaq
    6. Duncan
    7. Russell
    8. Oscar
    9. Dr J
    10. Hakeem
    11. West
    12. Elgin Baylor
    13. Isiah
    14. Havlicek
    15. Barkley

    I never put active players on my list (unless theyre already at the near-enhd of careeer like shaq or duncan, kobe aint there yet, still has alot left to solidify a legacy, KG too)

    Kobe jumps up to 8 on that list if we win this title and he gets finals mvp.

    Allen Iverson is a tough case to figure out, huh? So is Clyde Drexler.

    PS: there are alot of active players that could end up being alltime greats, including Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and alot of other real youngsters (Melo, Brandon Roy, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, DWill, etc) that have another decade-plus of ball left to go and are far from their prime, all have the TALENT to be great, alltime great, it’ll be fun to see how it plays out

    Lebron and Wade are the two that could end up in the top-10 of alltime if they play at the level they did this year for another decade (Wade at 26 years old, lebron 24, neither are in their prime yet) and win championships