Gasol vs. Howard: The Gold Medal Game

Kurt —  June 1, 2009

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball
For all the talk about Andrew Bynum on Dwight Howard and how important that is, there will be times in this series when Pau Gasol will have to cover him man-up. The Lakers don’t want to double in the post, and if Gasol is on Howard while Odom and Ariza are on Hedo and Lewis, the Lakers match up well (they can switch pick and rolls that way).

But could Gasol really hang with Howard one-on-one? I went back and looked at the USA/Spain Gold Medal game from the Beijing Olympics, when Gasol and Howard did square off as centers.

Gasol holds up well in this game — Howard slows but does not stop Gasol’s offense at all. Spain pulled Howard away from the basket because Dwight had to respect Pau’s 18 footer. They both got their points, but it was not an embarassment. And if Howard is getting his but the Lakers can better defend the perimeter, that may be a tradeoff worth taking.

Some words of caution — the offense Team USA ran is nothing like what Orlando did. Frankly, with wing options like Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Melo, CP3, the USA didn’t try very hard to start the offense from the post. Also, Spain played a fair amount of zone, so there are stretches when Gasol and Howard are on the court but not really matched up on one another.

That said, what follows is a breakdown of the possessions where they were matched up.

———————————————————————

First Spanish possession of the game: Howard has to stop the penetrator on a pick and roll and Gasol rolls uncontested to the hoop for a dunk (Wade made a half-hearted late rotation and foul for the and one).

First USA possession: Kobe Bryant drives the lane and Gasol has to rotate over to stop the penetration. Kobe shoots over Gasol and misses, but nobody rotates over to help on Howard, who easily grabs the offensive rebound and puts it back in.

8:27 First: Gasol scores on a break where he just flat out beats Howard down the floor to fill the lane on a 3 on 2.

6:30 First: Gasol misses a 17-footer over Howard. But as I said before, Spain set up similar motions a lot, using Gasol to pull Howard out away from the basket. Often he was just a decoy. It’s a strategy the Lakers could use.

9:22 Second: Jimenez has the ball on the right baseline and Gasol cuts from the high post to the low and Howard is caught watching the ball and letting Pau go. Gasol gets the pass under the basket and Howard recovers late and gets the unsportsmanlike foul for jumping on Gasol’s back.

8:15 Second: With the ball out very high on the right side, Gasol gets a pick and comes from weak to strong and he gets the ball on the wing 15 feet out and goes with the catch and shoot that misses. (However, with Howard away from the basket defending the shot Marc Gasol got the rebound and putback.)

6:20 Second: Pau Gasol is isolated on Howard 15 feet out left wing, drives deep on him baseline then spins back to the middle and gets off a hook that is too hard and misses, Howard rebounds.

5:58 Second: Reyes drives the lane but loses the ball, with it loose inside Gasol is quicker to it, grabs it and puts it in before Howard reacts.

First USA possession second half: The USA tries the lob into Howard but Gasol has fronted him and makes the steal.

8:41 Third: Howard does a good job poking away a lazy entry pass to Gasol and creates a turnover.

7:30 Third: Gasol gets the ball on the left block, tries to back in Howard, kicks it out and gets the instant repost with six on the shot clock. Gasol spins baseline and puts up a 5-foot jumphook with the left hand over an extended Howard and drains it.

Coming out of that Howard gives a little smack in the face to Gasol that goes unnoticed by the refs. Meanwhile the USA runs after that Gasol make and Howard beats Gasol down the court by a mile, gets the lob inside with just a bunch of guards around him and gets the foul going up.

6:26 Third: Howard comes out to the right wing to set the pick but slips it and catches Gasol off guard, a little lob in and Howard with the dunk.

6:45 Fourth: Kobe Bryant almost got the ball stripped by Rubio but holds on and drives the lane from the right wing, Gasol rotates over to take away the shot but nobody helps the helper, so Kobe passes to Howard under the basket for a dunk.

5:50 Fourth: Howard does a good job using his length and speed to try to take away the entry pass to Gasol in the post, and when Rubio makes one Howard knocks it away but out of bounds. On the inbound play Fernandez gets into the lane but misses the shot that Howard rotates over on. However, that leaves Gasol to get the weakside rebound, Howard comes over to defend and Gasol makes a nice move to go back under the rim and shoot from the otber side (using the rim so Howard can’t block the shot) but he misses it.

4:02 Fourth: In a scramble out of a Marc Gasol offensive rebound, Pau Gasol got deep position on the reset and got the feed very deep on the right block. Howard got called for the reach-in foul trying to stop him. Gasol hit the free throws.

At that point Coach K pulls Howard for Bosh.

Kurt

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98 responses to Gasol vs. Howard: The Gold Medal Game

  1. It would have been fun to see a similar break-down when Pau absolutely destroyed Yao down the stretch when Spain faced China=)

    On topic: I actually think that Pau might be the best answer for Howard, not because he can shut him down or score on him with such ease – but because he most definately can get Howard in foul-trouble (especially since Howard tries to swat every shot).

  2. Great stuff, Kurt. This is exactly what I was hoping for – concrete evidence as to how Gasol and Howard do playing against each other.

    To me this breakdown really shows the importance of dribble penetration, both using it and containing it (especially with Howard at his best as a help defender).

    One of my concerns is that when Pau has to guard bigger or stronger players, his jumper sometimes goes awry. Obviously the sample size is low in the above breakdown, but he needs to hit that little jumper to create space in the paint.

    What I’m most looking forward to is how our coaching staff decides to deal with the Hedo/Dwight PnR.

  3. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Good post, Kurt.

    I was actually just thinking how the Olympics matchup for USA vs Spain could help or hurt the Lakers. Although during the Olympics I thought Dwight was a little slow in a lot of his movements, he’s looking much better in the playoffs.

    Gasol has dealt with opposing centers for a good portion of last year and this year and more often than not, held his own against them.

    Last year, unfortunately, he had to contend with both KG and Perkins. While Gasol held his own against KG, he really was no match with Perkins. Nor was LO.

    Which is why having Drew, will be imperative. The Lakers need a big body down there battling with Dwight which will help Gasol and LO on defending the other lanky PF/SF that the Magic have. And if Drew does get into foul trouble, I think Pau will be able to hold his own offensively, but rebounding and defending might be a problem.

    Basically, the Laker big men will have to help each other out a lot defensively. constant communication and help defensive, rotating quickly, etc.

  4. j.d. Hastings June 1, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Hollinger breaks down the last 3 LAL-ORL matchups and found that Gasol didn’t dominate Lewis at all this season, while Bynum was outrebounded 32-4. It’s a little worrisome to me.

    I don’t think we can count on Bynum for anything this series. Aside from the issues he’s been having, this is his first time on this stage, so it’s hard to see him suddenly getting it all together.

  5. I can’t remember the details of this game, so this is very helpful. Aside from the faceup 15 footer, what are the best ways for Gasol to get good looks against Howard on the block? Counter jump hook? Quick spin? Or is Howard too disciplined for both? I’m more worried about Howard taking away Pau’s easy offense than Pau controlling Howard.

  6. If Pau and Howard neutralize each other, or anywhere close to that, the Lakers win the matchup.

    I still say it is somewhat foolish to keep talking about matchups. The teams primary defensive schemes are team defenses and the most important thing is how the players rotate and how they avoid scramble mode.

    The last thing is that Andrew doesn’t have to score or reach against Howard; he just has to body him out, make his shots harder. It doesn’t even matter if he is totally successful. A partially successful Bynum will tire Howard out somewhat – then he has to go against a quick Pau – this will result in fouls. If Bynum can keep his primary assignment in mind, he can be successful.

  7. Gasol has to:

    A) Draw some fouls on Howard and police the offensive boards when Howard helps out on drives;

    B) Make his mid-range jumper consistently to draw Howard away from the basket;

    C) Play good enough position D so that Howard’s offense doesn’t come too easily.

  8. The advantage the Lakers have, over the other three teams in the conference finals, is that their superstar has an incredibly flexible offensive skill set, and the intelligence/”basketball IQ” to utilize fully, making adjustments “on the fly”. Combine that with an equally intelligent (although not as skilled) Pau Gasol, and the coaches have a great latitude, much more so than any other current teams, in what they can do to attack the defensive schemes of the opponent.

  9. Good analysis… Hopefully we’ll see a lot of the big men playing together, with Pau feeding Bynum or Odom. If the Lakers bigs spread the floor, Howard can’t be expected to cover everyone and there will be lanes for cutters.

    The key to this series, for L.A., is on the defensive end. I’m not worried that the Lakers will have issues finding ways to score.

    As for this recurring talk about a Jameer Nelson coming back for the Finals, I’d say Orlando fans should be careful what they wish for. Working a guy back into the rotation at this point in the season isn’t easy, nor is it easy for a guard to get his legs, timing and shooting back in such a brief time frame.

    Anyone who questions that should pop in a tape of Ariza looking lost in the Finals last year. And that’s no knock on Trevor – my point is it’s a lot to ask of a perimeter player to be effective after such a long layoff. Doing so would be risky for the Magic, even doubly so given that Alston’s been playing well.

  10. I do predict that it’ll take Gasol at least 1 game to figure out how to best play Lewis. He’ll probably start backing up a little bit too far (with Lewis any room is dangerous). We shouldn’t get frustrated. It’s a tricky matchup and I think Gasol will figure it out, but it’ll take a game to adjust to how Lewis plays.

    4 – That is a bit worrying, but I’d be interested to know how many touches Gasol got. Since when did the PER Diem become for ESPN Insiders only? Despite what many Lakers fans think, Hollinger is very good at picking up trends like that because of his reliance on data and numbers (it hurts him in other areas, but not here).

  11. ^Note – I meant 1 game for Gasol to figure out how to play Lewis defensively, not offensively or anything.

    Former Lakers head coach Del Harris retiring.

  12. j.d. Hastings June 1, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Do you guys think our Pau-Odom 2 man game can be a big deal in this series? One man forces Howard to commit while the other takes advantage? Is that too simplistic?

  13. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    j.d hastings –

    just a little too simplistic lol
    there’s still hedo and lewis on defense.

    we can dream though

  14. 4 – “I don’t think we can count on Bynum for anything this series.”

    Very true. Somewhere I read Bynum got 9 fouls in 45 minutes or so in the regular season agianst Orlando. If true, it just emphasizes the point. Anything we get from Drew – if we get anything at all – will be a nice bonus.

  15. I’m not sure if this has been posted yet, but someone finally calls out LeBron for what he did at the end of the game. Broussard had an half-ass attempt, but it all seemed like was an apology of behalf of LeBron rather than a criticism of him.

    Here’s the link. http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AlCErl4kHonCqNbRna5ciby8vLYF?slug=aw-lebron060109&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    With regards to the Finals, I am confident, but the sheer confidence that Orlando has displayed is a bit disconcerting. I am hoping the bright lights of the world’s biggest stage will be dim that confidence a little bit.

    Personally I think that Orlando’s lack of a second post defender will be a serious detriment to them. If Howard takes Gasol, Bynum/Odom will be guarded by Rashard in the post which is a mismatch. If Howard takes Bynum, Gasol/Odom will be a mismatch against Rashard. On offense we have significant mismatches we need to take exploit to take this series.

    On defense, we have to guard Dwight without fouling as his free-throw shooting has been much improved in the playoffs and Smite-a-Dwight isn’t as effective as once thought.

    This series is truly about everyone but Kobe. Everyone else has to step up especially Lamar and Andrew if we want to take this thing because the Magic won’t quit and Kobe cannot do everything for us.

  16. em-k wrote on June 1, 2009 at 11:20 am

    #57

    Dwight is not that big for an NBA center, it’s true, but I don’t think anyone his size has ever been that athletic with enough skill to matter (and his skills are still developing). He jumps like a guard, and is quick on his feet. He will be difficult to contain. The Lakers bigs have to be energetic enough to not let him get deep post position. That limits his effectiveness.

    And on offense, as always, the key is Pau. He has the footwork to make Howard work, and can certainly give Lewis difficulties, and can find the open man.

    This will be a really tough series. Let’s hope the Lakers bring it with energy and intelligence as they did in Games 5 and 6 of the WCF. They’ll need it. Orlando is playing very confidently right now. I do believe the Lakers can win but they’ll need to truly bring their A game consistently.”

    The only one i can think of that was like that was Amare as center of the 2007 suns with Diaw and Marion as forwards alongside him in the frrontcourt.

    young alonzo mourning or young Moses Malone or young Hakeem remind me of that somewhat too, in that all were 6?10 or under but strong/quick/athletic/aggressive/powerful/agile/skilled as humanly possible, just like dwight (and 2007 or 2005 Amare) as a center.

  17. Pau-Odom is huge in this series. It is THE advantage the Lakers need to exploit. Pau distributing from the elbow gets Howard away from the hoop, allowing Ariza to slash and Odom to beat up Lewis on the offensive boards.

    One thing to keep in mind. All this Pau-Howard-Bynum-Odom-Lewis talk is only relevant if we assume Kobe plays average by his standards. If Kobe from Game 6 shows up, game over. No Magic player has a shot 1:1 with Kobe when he plays like that.

    If Kobe penetrates, it frees up Gasol, Odom, even Bynum for easy shots and putbacks because you know Howards eyes will light up if he sees Kobe enter the paint. Same as LB23, KB24 WILL get Howard in foul trouble for at least 1 game.

    Bynum won’t affect the outcome of this series. I’d like to see Phil match him up with Gortat coming off the bench, because that IMO is an advantage. Otherwise, he won’t hurt the Lakers unless he decides to take Howard 1:1 on multiple posessions and play with slow feet against the PnR.

    At the end of the day, it’s Kobe versus Turkoglu to see who can close out a game and carry his team. I’ll take Kobe 100 out of 100 times.

  18. Also from the recap, it looks like early offense will be the key for both Pau / Howard – I have a feeling that whoever beats the other downcourt the most to establish early and deep post position will prevail. if It’s Pau, we need to get him the ball everytime it happens to punish Howard.

    As an aside, as Kurt alluded to, this game may not be the best comp to see how Howard / Pau will perform 1v1. Howard had a disappointing Olympics as his status as the premier American big man in the tournament was taken by Bosh (and rightfully so). Despite his ridiculous athleticism, the wider trapezoidal lane and zone-ish defenses took him out of his comfort zone in the low post. Hard to say that he’ll have those problems in the Finals.

  19. #15,

    Wow.

    I’m pretty sure everyone who’s seen my comments here lately know how I feel about the narcissism and worship of The Chosen One, but even I almost thought that was too harsh… Almost. All things considered, it needed to be said. Has needed saying for years, actually.

    Back to the Magic-Lakers. I’m still fond of my thought of not focusing that much on Howard, but on the perimeter shooters that he throws his passes out to. Let Howard do his thing under the basket, with some luck and hard work he’ll gather up enough fouls trying to block shots that we can curtail him that way.

  20. let me back up on my Bynum statement. Bynum will not affect the outcome unless Odom decides not to show up.

    its the story for the Lakers all year. If 2 of the 3 big men are playing well, they usually win. I’m confident that Gasol will show up. Odom gives me more confidence than Bynum. Orlando doesn’t have a Ron Artest or Kenyon Martin to get physical with Odom, so I’m feeling good that he’ll have a series that resembles Utah series.

    If Bynum plays well (good use of fouls, no forced shots, moving feet on the PnR) in addition to Odom, look for a 4 or 5 game series. I don’t expect this, but you never know.

  21. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    BTW,

    As much as I wanted Kobe and Co. to win the Gold during the Olympics, I felt really badly for Pau getting the silver because I wanted him to get the gold as well. Maybe he can play for Team USA instead of Spain?

  22. I do like the matchup of pau and howard with Bynum cleaning up the rest. Who is the other big that is going to go against LA’s open big man? Ohh yeah we also have this play for Orlando to remeber

    http://kaliphornya.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/just-a-reminder-orlando-kobe-throws-down-on-howard/

  23. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    One thing that bothers me about Bynum’s offensive game is that he tries to do to much once he gets his hands on the ball.

    He either tries to shoot over three defenders’ arms, do some fancy move that ends up as a TO or offensive foul. He rarely ever passes it back out to the wing players or even to Pau.

    He needs to look for the open man if he doesn’t have a good look at the basket. This will get the defensive scrambling when they cover on him.

    But meh, this series isn’t just about Drew though. LO has to show up. EVERYONE has to show up. No more lazy playing. This is the FINALS. You either win OR GO HOME. End. FINITE. No excuses.

  24. I was thinking this morning, 9 out of 10 Adrian Woj articles are intended solely to rip a player, coach, or team a new one. The man wasn’t hugged enough as a child, as Kobe would say. So I was dying to see how he’d respond to Lebron’s ordeal.

    He may be vicious, but at least he doesn’t play favorites.

  25. I’m really intrigued as to how the Lakers are going to try to match up with the Magic. I think playing Bynum and Pau at the same time would not be learning what happened to the Cavs. They tried that and got burned.

    I think we may have to go with lineups that we haven’t gone with all season. Maybe
    Pau, Odom, Walton, Ariza, and Kobe.
    Why not?
    This would force Alston to match up with Ariza and Ariza can slash and grab rebounds on him.

  26. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Snoopy -

    really?

    I’ve found Adrian’s articles have been ridiculously overcheesy especially when it came to pimping Lebron over Kobe.

    case in point this crapfest: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-lebron052009&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    he loves writing articles about how LBJ upped one on Kobe or whatever. He usually makes a lot of assumptions based on his own biases, like how Kobe must be seething thinking about how LBJ made that shot in Game 2 even though it doesn’t matter anymore since the Cavs lost. I doubt he really knows what’s going on in the mind of Kobe or LBJ, which is why a lot of his articles piss me off.

    but he sorta redeemed himself with the new article about LBJ’s behavior. just a smidgen though.

  27. Youall are ignoring the fact that the Lakers have been pounding into Bynum, for the last three series, that his job is to defend. If he doesn’t score a point we really don’t care. We really don’t care.

    We need to stop talking about his offensive moves. If he makes any he may be sitting on the bench.

    What Bynum is in there for is to slow down Howard and make him work harder. This allows everyone else, including Pau, to concentrate on their men on the perimeter.
    When Bynum gets tired Pau will take over and Howard should be more tired than if Pau started on him.

  28. Rudy-

    How would playing AB at 5 and PG at 4 be “not learning from what happened to the Cavs”? They’re both better interior scorers than their Cleveland counterparts in addition to being better rebounders. I do not understand this comparison.

  29. Why do people keep talking about how big Dwight is? He’s only 6?11 and 265 lbs, while big for us, not that big in NBA.

    Ron Artest is 6-7, 260 lbs, Tim Duncan is 6-11 and 260 lbs. Andrew Bynum is 7-1 285 lbs. Technically speaking, Bynum is 2 inches and 20 lbs over Howard. Shouldn’t he be bigger?

    Lastly, Kevin Garnett is only 220 lbs and 6-11, really skinny for someone his height. How come he doesn’t have trouble containing big centers that are 250 lbs and above? Pau Gasol is 1 inch taller and 30 lbs over KG, how come people keep saying KG out-muscled Gasol? Is Gasol all fat? I don’t think so, even though KG definitely have a lower body fat.

  30. With all due respect to the Magic (“and I mean all due respect”), is anyone else feeling incredibly relieved that the Lakers are not facing the Bobcats in these finals?

    I am glad that the players have some time to recover after the marathon of games played, but man, Thursday is a long way off

  31. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    lol VoR.

    The bobcats would most likely sweep us.

    Imagine if we were in the same conference as them. We’re #1 and they’re #8. Totally believable that they’d pull a 07 Warriors team upsetting the Mavs on us.

    *shudder*

  32. Mason -

    Playing Pau Gasol at the 4 is equivalent to playing Varejao at the 4 which is what Cleveland did and Rashard Lewis pumped faked and went by him at will. Pau Gasol does not have the foot speed to guard Rashard Lewis on the perimeter. That’s why putting Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in at the same time may be beneficial offensively (even though by saying that you’re assuming we’re gonna get something out of Bynum) but it puts us in a difficult matchup defensively.

  33. Size, when it does matter, matters more in our own heads than on the scale or the measuring stick. Dwight Howard is big because he plays big. He acts as if he’s the biggest, broadest player out there and that means his size is more effective than someone like Bynum, who still plays hesitantly–probably a combination of the knee still bothering him and him being afraid of injuring it again.

  34. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I WANT PRACTICE REPORTS!!!

    I WANT LAKER NEWS!!

    I’m bored out of my mind.

    It’s going to be a long four days.

  35. 32

    “Playing Pau Gasol at the 4 is equivalent to playing Varejao at the 4″

    Except for the fact that Gasol is possibly the most versatile post scorer in the league and can destroy Lewis on the block, while Varejao’s offense is as ugly as his hair.

    Other than that, it’s exactly the same.

  36. “Varejao’s offense is as ugly as his hair.”

    Classic, Joel, and SO true. The Lakers should not match up with the Magic. You force the Magic to match up with you.

  37. Joel

    Pau Gasol’s offensive ability was never in question. The debate is whether the Lakers should play Gasol and Bynum at the same time thus putting Gasol at the 4. Gasol cannot guard Rashard Lewis on the perimeter – bottom line. That’s where the comparison to Gasol and Varejao comes into play. Cleveland started a larger lineup of Ilgauskas and Varejao and was at a major disadvantage.

    Yes obviously Gasol is a much more offensively gifted player than Varejao, but again the defense on the perimeter is where Orlando will have the advantage.

  38. 36

    Yes, but Lewis guarding Gasol is also a major advantage for the Lakers, and if exploited properly should outweigh whatever advantage Lewis provides for Orlando.

  39. The matchup nobody is talkig about: Kobe vs. Pietrus/Lee. What? When did Kobe become a sidebar? I get the feeling that the hype machine has moved from LeBron to the “huge” duo of Lewis and Turk. Does Lewis really have enough handle to bother Odom?

    Back to Kobe:it’s my understanding that he is very very good at the 2. People seem to think he won’t be doubled, which seems prudent after the Lakers showed their ability to exploit that. Soooo….how many points will he score–and will it disrupt the triangle?

  40. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Firewalker –

    I’m thinking Kobe might have a hard time guarding Lee and that Pietrus might also give Kobe a hard time if he’s guarding Kobe.

    Kobe likes to sag off whoever he’s guarding but I’m hoping for the championship round’s sake, he won’t and he’ll actually attempt to guard Pietrus and Lee, instead of closing late as he sometimes does.

    Pietrus has proved he’ll shoot the ball really well when he’s open as evident of outscoring the entire Cavs bench on his own lonesome.

  41. Awesome Kurt. This is why I check here first now instead of espn.go.com/nba.

  42. I know what you mean about the sag–it’s a real danger. I actually think we’re better off with Pietrus in there, because Kobe might be more attentive.

    Why is everyone saying that Pietrus did a great job on LeBorn though? Didn’t James score like 90 points a game in that series? What would they say about someone who held him to his season average?

    Offensively, I think everything rests on adjusting the triangle to what’s being offered–this isn’t the 2008 Celtics’ defense.

    Defensively: stay with the shooters and foul Howard hard. No and 1. His free throw percentage in the conference final was a small sample.

  43. 41. Amen.

  44. @39,

    I mentioned Pietrus in the other thread.

    Looking at the regular season box scores:

    Gasol, Odom and Bynum had problems with PFs–Howard shot 31 FTS in the two games.
    Total rebs: Howard 32, Bynum 4.
    The most efficient Laker was…Vlad Radmanovich. 5/8, all on 3s, in the second game.
    Kobe was 24/57 in the two games. He had 11 AST and 6 TO in Game 2.
    Nelson averaged 27.5 PPG.
    Keith Bogans played almost 30 minutes in Game 1 and then got a DNP in Game 2.
    Sasha was 0/7 in Game 2.
    Fisher scored 27 points in Game 1 in Orlando.
    Ariza got minutes in both games but did not score much.
    Odom and Bynum had 31 between them in Game 2–but the Lakers still lost the game.

    This is going to be a tough series.

  45. “Except for the fact that Gasol is possibly the most versatile post scorer in the league and can destroy Lewis on the block, while Varejao’s offense is as ugly as his hair.”

    This brings up an interesting trend I noticed earlier in the playoffs: The increasingly horrible hair styles of our opponents.

    We started with Deron Williams in the first round: Shiny, glossy, like a the still wet pelt of a dead otter glued to his head. You could even see the wavy structure of the fur if you looked closely.

    Then in the next round, we faced the craziness that was Ron Artest’s mohawk. Not only did he have a mohawk, he had bizarre symbols and words shaved into the sides of his head–maybe ancient runes, filled with mystical perimeter shooting powers? (Hm. That would actually explain a lot.)

    Then came the Conference Finals, and Artest’s mohawk suddenly seemed quite tame compared to Chris Andersen’s gel-saturated top. Like the crest of a peacock, the Birdman’s crown swayed high above him, threatening to stab or cut Pau Gasol every time they battled for a rebound.

    And then we reached the NBA Finals. Lebron was supposed to be there, with the Cavs, and with them Varejao’s poodle-frizzed version of The Ben Wallace Afro of Doom. The circle would have been complete, the horrible hair-dos of our opponents adding to the joy and pride of defeating them.

    But instead we get the Orlando Magic. The only team in the Eastern Conference that does not have a wacky wild mop of hair on their roster! Now what do we do? Who do we mock?

    We will have to content ourselves with the questionable glory of defeating Hedo Turkoglu’s pretentiously well-groomed goatee. It feels like such an anti-climax.

  46. Great writeup. Concrete quality stuff that gives food for thought. Nicely done.

    Was gonna say something about LeBron, but Adrian Woj did it for me.

    Was gonna say something about Hollinger, but he finally admitted to ignoring his own data. Not an insider so I can’t read the whole thing, but now that he has learned that he can’t just arbitrarily decide what’s important, maybe it’ll make his stuff more bearable.

    Probably not tho. He’ll probably keep forcing his interpretation of the stats as the only way of reading them, and his value of certain stats as the only meaningful weighting of such stats.

    Anyway, we are fine as long as we don’t face a penetrating guard who can collapse our defense and make a pass to our weakside. Howard’s great, but I’m not so confident about him making the pass that kills us: and I think our guys are long enough to bother passers and shooters that pass the ball along the arc.

    Off topic, I just had an LG 46″ Full HD TV installed at my place, and since it supports DivX and USB, had to see game 6 on it. Mmm… goodness gracious, it’s so different from watching the thing on my 24″ monitor at home or 17″ monitor at work (minimized at 400*300 or so)…

  47. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Basically, in order to win, the Lakers can’t treat this series like it’s still Game 1 in the first round.

    Every game is game 7.

    Defend. Rebound. Cut. Pass. Be Efficient. Share the ball. Smart decisions.

    I’m expecting them to give it their all each game. There really is no more time for “saving energy” or excuses. It’s go all out and win.

    Which is why it’s important that the Lakers concentrate on their defensive assignments. Even in game 6 there were quite a lot of blown assignments (more in the first half than in the second half) but still, they were there! And lots of dumb turnovers (first half again) like moving pivot feet or whatnot.

    Again, it’s impossible to stop people from scoring, but they have to try and give it their all. Or else this will just be a repeat of last year. And I don’t want a repeat of last year’s finals. It was U-G-L-Y.

  48. OK, we need evidence. We’re all operating under the (very reasonable) assumption that Pau will destroy Lewis. But I’m very curious now after j.d.’s comment – why did Gasol not put up big numbers against Lewis in the last few meetings? Does anyone have a copy of the game, can rewatch it and can see why?

    My guess is that Lewis spent very little time on Pau and Pau didn’t get many touches during that span. It’s worth noting that though we think of him as a 3, Lewis is still 6’10″ (but he is a lightweight with a SF’s mentality, true). I’m just curious if Pau’s supposed pedestrian #’s against Lewis are a trend or fluke.

  49. Rudy-
    Pau Gasol and Anderson Varejao are both tall, look funny, and grew up speaking Iberian languages. That’s about where the similarity ends. Varejao is known as “Wild Thing” for a reason: he plays with reckless abandon. While that’s great for energy plays and offensive rebounding, it leads to things like jumping at pump fakes and giving up the drive. Pau, much to our occasional consternation doesn’t play with that kind of gusto, and yet he is more successful. Why? The answer is simple. He’s more polished skill wise, and is naturally more able, and he plays like it. The control with which he plays the game, even if he gives up foot speed to Lewis, makes it that much less likely to be burned by a simple pump fake on the perimeter.

    Besides, if Orlando’s game-plan depends on Lewis trying to break down Pau Gasol off of the dribble, I think the Lakers would be happy to let him try, force him left, and if he gets to the right, sometimes sag and swipe at the ball from the weak side.

  50. Re: Gasol v. Lewis.

    One thing not to be underestimated is the toll that Gasol’s offense will take on Lewis’ defense and offense. The data probably simply doesn’t exist, but I’d like to see the likelihood of each player scoring after they took a pounding on the defensive end. We saw Derek Fisher do this to Aaron Brooks a couple of times in the Houston series, especially in a couple of the later games, and Brooks didn’t look the same after he got beaten up on the block. If Pau spends the first 8-10 minutes of every half beating the crap out of Lewis on the block, it’ll no doubt have a huge effect not only on how Lewis defends Pau later in the game, but also Lewis’ energy on offense. Much of one’s shooting form comes from the legs, those same legs that will have to hold off Pau Gasol’s relentless pounding. This is why we cannot shy away from Lewis by trying to match-up with him using Odom. We can’t limit Lewis by playing into his hands; we have to beat the strength out of his legs.

  51. The hatred for the Lakers is truly amazing. Looking around at the SBN blogs, it seems like almost every fan base is rallying around the Magic. Some because the Magic are likeable, most because they’re self-proclaimed Laker-haters.

    I find it a bit sad, to be honest. Fans from eliminated teams living vicariously through any Laker opponent at the time.

    Obviously this is not new, we’ve been seeing this for years and years. Still amazes me, though. I guess I just don’t understand how you can hate that much and still enjoy the game. As much as I dislike the Celtics, I wasn’t partying when they went down. I’m more concerned with my team.

    But I guess when your team’s gone fishing, you have plenty of time to focus on others.

  52. I’m not sure if this link has been posted yet, but I’m sure some fans who have been talking about Lebron not shaking hands will like it. It’s Scoop Jackson and Skip Bayless on espn talking about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehy4MDV7PKM

  53. Mason – That’s a good gameplan, but they can adjust fairly easily. If Lewis starts driving from the top of the key, that’ll break down our defense very quickly.

    This is where our coaching staff makes their green. We’ll see what they come up with.

    I do think we’re talking a lot about this matchup, but if Bynum can’t stay out of foul trouble (which he hasn’t shown the ability to do against great big men) we won’t see Pau vs Rashard too often.

  54. Has anyone had a chance to see Yao play Howard in regular season games? I know historically Yao has outplayed Howard head-to-head and I wonder if there are elements of that matchup that we could implement with Pau.

    This is an interesting series because I honestly like all of the Magic players. Except Redick.

  55. I’m pretty sure Yao typically annihilates Howard head-to-head. Not looking at numbers, but just remembering articles and posts and stuff. I know one has a clear upper hand over the other, and I think it’s Yao.

  56. Thank you, Kurt, that was just what I needed. I don’t mind all the hype either, but THIS is the kind of insight and research that quells my Laker thirst. Does this mean Bynum comes off the bench?

  57. @51

    I have seen various manifestations of this as well. The Lakers are sort of like the NBA Yankees to many fans now. Much of it seems to be based on PJ and KB of course.

    It is my opinion that the Nelson thing is in part simple gamesmanship–Otis Smith was quoted today as saying it is a “no” to him, but, obviously, the Lakers have to consider it in their game plans, if only briefly.

  58. alosargoles,
    Wow! That interview was the toughest on Lebron I have heard. It did, however, make a lot of sense. If Lebron p.o.s the media long term (al la Kobe), then he is going to be profoundly sorry. He should mend fences and apologize now and go off and meditate on what all this means and how he is going to handle it in the future.

  59. alosargoles,

    After watching that clip, Scoop sounds very close, i mean so close that you could tell he is apologizing for Lebron, to the Lebron defenders in the comments link that I posted from espn.

  60. It remains to be seen whether putting Bynum and Gasol out there at the same time thus putting Gasol on Lewis is a good idea or not.

    I don’t really remember how this matchup went during the season. Does anyone know what site you can watch old games at? I’d love to watch the 2 Magic vs Lakers games over again to see how the Lakers went about defending the Magic.

  61. #55 this season HOU vs ORL

    Apr 7 rockets win 93-83
    howard 38 min, 5/11 13 points, 10 reb, 3PF
    Yao 38 min, 8/13 20 points 16 reb, 5PF

    Nov 22 rockets win 100-95
    howard 38 min, 5/10 13 points, 9 reb, 4PF
    Yao 31 min, 9/15 22 points 13 reb, 5PF

  62. Yo whats with the debate over the Gasol-Lewis matchup? I’m guessing AB will average maybe 20 mins per game. 5 or so of those will be without Gasol on the floor. Depending on how AB plays, we may see even less of Gasol on Lewis. Gasol will match up with Howard for the majority of the game. Despite the fact that this doesn’t pose much of an advantage for us, I feel comfortable with the Odom-Lewis matchup, as well as the Kobe-anybody matchup.

    Don’t forget the MVP. Kobe will absolutely dominate. There are maybe 5-6 defenders in the league who can give him real trouble and Orlando has none of them. SVG will HAVE to double him and that’s where the role players will start to shine brighter than Turk/Lewis/Lee/Skip.

    Also, don’t forget the BENCH: I like SB and Sasha over Anthony Johnson and JJ Redick any day. They can get out and run on those two all day if we find some stops. Walton is easily capable of posting up anybody on Orlando’s bench except maybe Pietrus. Throw in Odom and we win the bench battle significantly.

  63. I have to give some credit to Mimsy’s earlier post (#45) about the general awfulness of our opponents’ hair. Very funny stuff, and another reason why I so love visiting this Forum.

    I submit, however, that Rashard Lewis and his demonic/King Tut goatee is the most egregious crime against facial hair on the Magic, and not Turkoglu.

  64. Ironic that we’re now playing the team that gave us Ariza. If Ariza plays a deciding role in the Finals, how much does that trade haunt the Magic?

  65. I don’t mean to solicit, but I have 1 pair of tickets for Game 1 and 2 if anyone is interested. It’s located in Section 115, row 7. If anyone is interested, please contact me at adbarot@me.com.

    Sorry Kurt, but thought I’d give this opportunity to my fellow FB&G fans!

  66. Scary thought (spurred by a SN article I was reading) – how good would Dirk be as the 4 alongside Howard? Ideal fit? He does everything that Rashard does offensively (most importantly, clear the paint for Dwight) and much more. He’s also big and strong enough not to get abused by great offensive post players like Pau.

    Wow I can’t believe it took me that long to realize that Dirk is the ideal player for the Magic to put alongside Dwight.

  67. Best line of the night, from Rod Benson:

    Maybe Superman is suspect to the venom of a Black Mamba and nobody knows it.

    I guess we’ll see.

  68. Another ironic tidbit – the only player on the Magic roster with a ring is Tyronn Lue, who won two with us.

    Who needed Cavs-Lakers? These are the riveting storylines ESPN should be researching.

  69. I just watched the goldmedal game.

    Gasol fairs well against Howard, but Howard was NOT the same player in international ball, he was a major dissapointment by his standards in those olympics and wasnt anything special in the goldmedal game either (Kobe wasnt great that whole summer either, except of course the end where he dominated and closed out the gold-medal game with a little help from Wade, who i think was the best player of the summer for that team, DAMN he was PHENOMENAL in that goldmedal game, i cant believe how he cuts through the defense, looks like a young Kobe or young MJ, just so explosively quick and agile and his first step and ability to finish above the rim with power is just insane, WHAT A SLASHER!……… the other guy that was unimpressive that summer was Melo, by his standards. Bosh was the best bigman on the team, and Lebron was good but not that great for the summer either)

    i loved the redeem team. easily my 2nd favorite “team usa” ever, passing the 2000 team by a longshot

  70. As usual, great stuff/breakdown from Kurt.

    I don’t know if anyone had mentioned this one, but what are the Lakers gonna do with Rafer Alston.

    He’s the Ariza of the present Orlando Magic. To those who haven’t had a chance to watch him, he has the mentality of a shooting guard with the quickness of a point guard, and of course not to mention “Skip to my Lou”, and a crazy mind like Ron Artest (tends to overshoot sometimes).

    But let’s give this guys props, he made Lebron James pay for not guarding him.
    And he’s been crazy all series long hitting 3-pt shots, driving into the lane and dishing to Superman or Pietrus/Lewis.

    Which leads me to another question, how will the Lakers do with Mickael Pietrus?
    Their lineup with Mickael looks like this:
    Alston/Pietrus/Turkoglu/Lewis/Howard.

    The question is, who will guard Pietrus? I think Ariza would be on Hedo, Kobe on Alson(since Fisher would break his ankles had they face each other)/Lewis, Pau on Lewis/Howard, and Bynum on Howard, therefore leaving Fisher over Pietrus.

    I hope Kobe would not give him the “Brewer” treatment because dude’s a streak-shooter and one open, feel-good shot would prove costly to everyone.

    So, two questions there, what will the Lakers do to Alston and Pietrus?

  71. Mimsy – 45, lol. Kurt, I liked the Olympics oriented Post today; we need to see the Olympics oriented Kobe come around this series, huh. What was that mantra of FB&G: the Lakers will go as far as their defense takes them. With all of this talk about Bynum not needing to score or Kobe being a facilitator for that matter, someone better give us some buckets in these Finals games. I am looking forward to the Posts here at FB&G to keep me busy before Thursday night’s game 1. Is anybody else around here planning his or her life around this Finals series like I am?

  72. Birdman – I suspect that Fish will stay on Alston and Kobe on MP. I do think Rafer deserves more respect than is typically given, but he’s no Aaron Brooks. And putting Fish on MP isn’t an option. That’s my best guess.

    In that lineup, the 3 wing positions become interchangeable. If, for example, Ariza is having trouble with Hedo, I wouldn’t be surprised if Phil switched Kobe onto him and Ariza onto MP.

    Ariza vs Pietrus is an interesting matchup. Two fairly similar players, though Pietrus is stronger.

  73. I seriously cannot get enough of this Lebron not shaking hands with the Magic. Danny Ferry defends him, saying “”I feel strongly that LeBron would never intentionally disrespect another NBA player. It was a situation where he was pretty disappointed. We just loss a tough series. He has always conducted himself in a pretty high level both on the court and off the court.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2009/news/story?id=4222452

    I’m sorry but after all the examples of people giving about the Pistons, Jordan, Kobe, etc. still shaking their opponents’ hands, I still find it so inexcusable.

    Anyway, this is a product of waiting too long for the Finals to start, so please let the Magic-Lakers series start already!!

  74. PeanutButterSpread June 1, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Snoopy and Robinred –

    And those fans love seeing the Lakers fail.

  75. Snoopy2006,

    Derek Fisher can’t stay with Alston, so are we seeing more PT from Brown and Farmar?

    I hope to see Mbenga play, this dude totally gives 1000% effort everytime I see him play, he is a pretty good shot blocker, the wild version of Chris Andersen.

  76. Damn it this wait is killing me.

    We needed rest desperately, we were so banged up. But this team (most Lakers teams I can remember, actually) typically come out extraordinarily flat with this much rest.

  77. Birdman – In an ideal world, I’d be screaming a happy yes. But Phil won’t change his methods unless we’re truly pushed to the wall. So I’d say Fish will continue to get the majority of the minutes.

    Brown matches up well with Lee, and Farmar fairly well with Alston. So if Sasha is just hurting us, I’d like to see Brown take Sasha’s backup 2 role. Hopefully Sasha can turn it around, him just being on the court will likely give Stan van Gundy hemorrhoids.

  78. interesting article by Kevin Blackistone over at FanHouse:
    http://kevin-blackistone.fanhouse.com/2009/06/01/kobes-opportunity-to-recast-legacy/

  79. Birdman-
    Alston didn’t really give the Lakers too many problems the two times he played them w/ Houston.

    The first time, he was handled nicely:
    11/9/08: 3 FG, 9 FGA, 1 AST, 3 TO, 7 Pts, 27 Minutes.

    The second time was a bit better for him, on assists, at least:
    1/14/09: 5 FG, 14 FGA, 6 AST, 1 TO, 11 Pts, 32 Minutes. (Probably cheating off shooters.)

    As a point of comparison, those numbers align with a bad night for Chris Ro…. I mean, Aaron Brooks during the semis. On his good nights, he was dropping 30. I don’t think that the difference lies in a change of approach between a Houston team with Brooks at the point or a Houston team with Alston at the point. The book on the Lakers is, and has been for some time, that speedy point guards can beat them. I have to think that Alston was trying to get into the lane during both games, but that he was only successful at it during one game (and only then because people he dished to hit their shots). That can be juxtaposed with the visual and statistical evidence that indicates that Aaron Brooks was able to blow by Fisher at will, and get to the rim. This leads me to conclude that Alston slower than Brooks by a significant enough amount so as to remove him from the “quick” point guard category of players that can really damage the Lakers.

  80. Sportsguy Hate June 1, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    I’ve gotta tell you all. I’m extremely concerned about Lamar Odom and his obsession with eating candy. It might lead to the downfall of this Lakers team in the Finals.

  81. Anyone else here agree that the level of opposing coaches has declined round by round?

    I feel strongly that: Sloan>Adelman>Karl>SVG.

  82. 78, you really like that article?

    If Orl wins, wouldn’t it be equally true for Howard as well? I’d take Gasol over whomever would be considered the Magic’s #2.

  83. Using the gold medal game is about as relevant as using the WBC to determine how a batter matches up with a pitcher. Completely different games and time of the season.

    As #4 has pointed out, Gasol doesn’t own Lewis in the post. At all. And Howard owns the Lakers.

    Seriously can’t wait for the Finals to begin. Should be interesting to see whats said on here when the Magic steal Game 1 or Game 2. Especially when the stat of the Magic’s home record in the playoffs becomes known(7-2). Oh yeah, those two losses: both came on last second jump shots.

    Just food for thought….and as the moderator asked for, FACTS.

  84. Love this site, found out about it and have been frequenting (reading) for the past 1.5 years or so. Long time Lakers fan here.

    Anyways, about the PF matchup…it’s just isn’t “Lewis on Gasol” per se, at least in the regular season.

    I happen to be a (sigh) Bynum fan (truly believe he will be the beast of the West in the NEAR future, if he gets his mind right and continues to work hard), so I had the GOden, Yao, and DH12 games DVRed up (very lucky hehe).

    Short recap on that matchup in the 2 games, Drew defended Howard in the minutes he got on the floor. He got dominated by Howard’s freakish atheleticism, especially on the boards (one sequence I see right now in the LA game, where Howard just jumps from around the baseline, while Drew’s around the “charging line” semicircle, and snags an O-rebound before Drew even reacts). Drew could score on him in game 2 due to his more polished post moves, but Howard’s explosiveness crushed Drew on the boards.

    On the other end, Howard spent over a quarter of his floor time defending Gasol. When Gasol had Lewis on the post and was fighting for position, Howard would sag off Drew a bit (and, sigh, Drew would kind of just stand there). What I mean is, he had an arm outstretched, hand on Drew’s chest, while clogging the paint, and it was obvious his attention was drawn towards Pau.

    A perimeter player for the Magic (in both games, mainly Jameer Nelson) would also come in and dig for steals once Pau put the ball on the floor (kind of like Derek sneaking in for dig steals).

    Pau faced very aggressive double teams when he put the ball on the floor, and the constant pressure of knowing that DH12 was defending the basket as well. In both games, Drew’s lack of hustle and movement (sigh) really hurt Pau, not only on defense (he had to guard Howard for long stretches due to Drew fouls), but on offense as well (I’m just happy that the showdown in LA lit a spark in him, and he was amazing before he got injured).

    In both games, Pau wound up with alot of kickouts. Instead of going for reposts, our Lakers would typically wheel the ball around to the weak side…so Pau didn’t get many touches (which, as most of us have noticed, is a frequent problem). It was that bad.

    I just rewound a short part in the 7th minute of the 2nd quarter of the game in LA. Goes like this:

    - Pau catches a lob over Jameer Nelson from DFish in the post.
    - Pau holds the ball for ~2 seconds while looking around, starts to dribble post (against Lewis).
    - Jameer is very aggressive and rushes in for the D-team.
    - Pau passes back to Fish in the corner, Jameer scrambles back. Right now, Pau has even deeper, and better position in the post for a jump hook.
    - Fish, instead of reposting Pau, shoots the three (not really a bad shot since he was relatively open, but he misses).

    Hereafter, until around 2 minutes remain in the quarter, Pau receives one touch (and it’s a high-post jump shot).

    The team didn’t do a very good job of getting Pau more touches, but I think that’s the essence of the Magic game plan, as we (sorta) saw from the Cleveland series. They would rather double Pau (and have Dwight as a basket enforcer), while having Lee / Pietrus play Kobe 1v1. Their gameplan was to control their defensive boards, shut down Pau, close out aggressively on shooters (Trevor and Fish shot poorly in both games too), and force Kobe to beat them himself…which isn’t a bad strategy.

    In short, we need to get Pau more touches…

    - PS. On a side note (sorry, short rant), I’m really sick and tired of alot of the Drew criticism. Even the regular season games against the Magic, alot of the rebounds weren’t really his fault per se, but more so the team’s. ex. Jameer would blow by DFish, Drew would be forced to help (as he has been taught), a shot would go up, and NO ONE would help Drew out and put a body on Howard. So many times, he was forced to foul Dwight when he was going back up for the putback.

    I’ve seen this crap go on all the time in the playoffs. We all love Pau and Kobe, but sometimes they’ve got to put a body on guys when Drew’s helping out contesting shots at the rim, especially when Dfish (love him forever, but christ he’s slow now) gets blown by. I understand it’s difficult for Kobe…hell, he carries our team, and it’s hard to ask him to box out guys a foot taller and 50 pounds heavier. But for me, seeing Gasol just stand there and NOT BOX OUT kills me.

    It just doesn’t seem fair he keeps getting all this flak (except for some praise here by you guys in Game 6 WCF) when he’s sacrificing basically his reputation, as well as playing time, by defending against easy baskets, but no one backs him up when he rotates. Especially when he puts guys on the line instead of letting them get easy dunks.

    Seriously, the reason Birdman and Kmart fly in for all those rebounds in the WCF? Pau didn’t put a body on anyone (even the dirty Duke Jones got while Kobe was right there but didn’t box out). But most of this blame goes on Drew.

  85. I have a really positive feeling about Bynum.

    I am very hopeful that the adjustment to defense we saw him make in the Denver series was deliberate on the part of the coaches.

    I want to give Andrew the following pep talk:
    “No one thinks you can compete with Howard. We do. Make him work. Run him into the ground. Your legs are fresher, your strength is back and there is no pressure on you at all. This is about Desire, Heart and Hustle. Get out there and beat him with your legs. You can do this!”

  86. Rob, to be quite frank, your posts, taken as a whole, come off as those of a petulant child. There’s going to variation among any fanbase – I personally think the Magic are playing at a higher level more consistently – but this is a Lakers blog. We’re going to hope for the best for our team and talk about the keys to our victory. Saying stuff that boils down to “I can’t wait to see what you guys say on here when we own you!” just comes off as trollish and immature, whether or not you put FACTS in capital letters or not.

    83 – Desire, heart? I’m just hoping Bynum stops shrugging helplessly every time he gets called for a foul. I kid…I agree, Bynum’s the key. We heard so much about him not being around for last year’s Finals. Let’s hope the kid can deliver.

  87. Birdman, you are wrong about Alston. I know because he was our starting point guard for nearly four years. He is a below average shooter going along with bad shot selection. Add to that the fact that he is a terrible finisher in the lane and a free throw liability in crunch-time. He is a good defender and does give a nice mental edge, but we tried to replace him every year that he was in Houston because he had so many weaknesses. After facing Williams, Brooks, and Billups, Alston is like Kobe going from Battier to Dahntay Jones.

  88. 84- I think Bynum does have a lot of heart. He needs to be taken off the leash, and to succeed or fail as the player he is, not the one that Phil might wish him to be. Unfortunately, that will not happen until next year. And, not until he gets a full season, injury free, under his belt.

    However, in the meantime, I am optimistic that Phil was limiting his minutes in the previous series for stamina purposes. I could see little or no reasons in terms of performance. That is, whether Bynum was playing well or not, Phil was pulling him and sitting him at set times, and for set periods.

    Again, my hope is that this was intentional, looking forward to giving him burn and fresh legs vs Howard. Certainly Phil and the staff knew that the Magic had a very good chance at making the Finals.

    Everyone is talking about how this is Howard’s chance to come out of the phone-booth that is Orlando and be Superman in front of the nation.

    I hope that Kareem is whispering in Bynum’s ear that it is his chance too. Legacies are made in 1 of 2 ways. The grind of a long, productive career or the Finals.

    Kareem had both, and he knows that the Finals is best. As a student of history, the Captain is in a great position to exhort Andrew here.

    “Rumble, young man! Rumble!”

  89. in regards to Bynum sacrificing his reputation for the good of the defense – the players and coaches are very aware of what he’s doing to our defense despite not having a box score impact. They also recognize how he sacrifices his playing time after accumulating hard fouls in an effort to prevent easy buckets too.

    http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2009/05/29/bynum/17915/

  90. also to pile onto Rob here, quoting a 7-2 home record this postseason is a good fact. Saying that the Magic “will” win 1 of the first 2 games isn’t.

    Just wanted to make sure you were aware of what you’re saying given your new status as a poster here.

  91. I agree with #89. Bynum gets hard fouls on purpose knowing that saving fouls wouldn’t equal extra playing time anyways. I imagine that he will take away a free easy baskets a game with his fouls and while he is in there, do a decent job on Howard.

    http://therookiecontract.com/

  92. I think the Gasol-Howard matchup is very key. The key here for the Lakers is how many games will Gasol outperform Howard on the offensive end. Not to say Gasol is better than Howard, because he isn’t, but on any given night, Gasol can be better than Howard. On such an occasion, that would give the Lakers the 2 best players on the court. If Gasol is better than Howard on 2 different occasions, they win this series easily.
    ~http://www.TheSportsWatchers.com

  93. New post.

  94. John T and everyone else defending Bynum: Yes. He does have a lot of heart. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but if you dunk over Shaq when you’re 17, and then refuse to back down when Shaq gets in your face about it you’re not a wuss, and you’re not a coward. He’s just been through a lot, and frankly is in a bit of an unfair situation.

    If he rotates over to help on defense, then whoever he was guarding is left alone for either lay-up or rebound. If he doesn’t rotate over then, well, he wouldn’t be doing his job. He’s supposed to help out on defense.

    Watching him play since he came back from the injury, he’s finding his way there. He’s more assertive, he seems more confident. Yes, he does the helpless shrug sometime, but so what? He probably just doesn’t like collecting fouls, he prefers being out there playing. He does it anyway (see the link to Fisher’s comments), most likely because he has been told to play hard to help the team.

    Give the kid some time. He’ll find his way, and then he’ll be unstoppable.

    P.S.
    Glad to see that some of you liked my little hair rant. It was fun to write. :)

  95. Snoopy-I never said the Magic were going to own the Lakers. Please re-read all my posts. Perhaps this why you think they are immature and trollish(actually trolling is when you argue for the sake of arguing, usually something off-topic).

    As for waiting and seeing whats said, I meant the blog posters. I didn’t mean the people who comment.

  96. realize i’m picky but the “lies” quote is from british prime minister disraeli not mark twain

  97. actually rob, pitcher-batter matchups at wbc are probably in line with mlb record.
    coupla points, which i agree are somewhat speculative. and orl home record irrelevant (as irecall cle had exceptional home record-losing once in real reg. season-to whom? I forget) before losing to orl.
    1-format helps lakers because it’s tough to win 3 consec home games-2-2-1-1-1 would be better for orlando.
    2- two adverse effects on orl of finals’ inexperience.
    a.underdog’s “happy to be here”
    b. first taste of finals pressure
    3- lots of talk about orl off-la def match-up
    how about orlando def vs lak off, esp. gasol, odom, bynam inside-guessing that howard has problem staying out of foul trouble.
    4. alston ain’t jameer, and ariza now ain’t ariza in jan.
    5 3s are sometimes fleeting so if they aren’t falling fopr orl it could actually be a short series
    6-will “bad lakers” show up (see denver game 4)
    7. one key certainly is odom. who the hell knows with him?
    am not looking for any contrib from vuyovic, farmer, sadly not expecting major scoring from fisher. (any positives from these three is a real bonus.
    don’t be surprised if mbega comes in to mbeng howard a few times!
    conclusion: this ain’t lakers-nets or 76ers,
    but this also ain’t celtics from last year.
    lakers have more varied weapons and focused mindset, so i take lakers in six.