Well, That Went Well

Kurt —  June 4, 2009

LAKERS
I think after the game Pau Gasol and Phil Jackson seemed to almost express surprise at the outcome of the game — not the win but the ease of it. How much they were able to dominate the second and third quarters. Frankly, I sort of was too.

But even in the early going of this game, when things were tight, I just liked the fundamentals of how things were shaking out. I liked the things the Lakers were doing.

First, there was the defense on Dwight Howard. The Lakers defensive strategy on Howard was largely to force him out as far as they could, then when he caught the ball take a step back and let him make a faceup move. It worked well because Bynum and Gasol moved their feet and stayed in front of him, contesting shots. That was at first anyway, but the Lakers threw a lot of different looks at Howard (some doubles, some fronting by Pau Gasol). The end result of all this was that he never got comfortable.

They also did a very good job limiting the transition opportunities, and particularly the transition threes, that Orlando loves. Darius noticed that the Lakers laid off the three and those two strategies may have been tied:

I think we’ve made a conscious decision to not shoot too many threes. Kobe has missed Ariza on a couple of open plays, but it was too try to get a look in the paint. I understand if Trevor is frustrated, but this may be something that the coaches have drilled into the team as misses off of threes fuel the Magic’s break going the other way. Also, in the last thread I talked about Orlando running very similar sets to Phoenix – and Phil used this same exact “pound it inside” strategy against the Suns when we played them in the playoffs. Remember, Orlando is at its best when they get out and run in order to get Howard running post sprints and their shooters running to the three point line for transition threes. I like how we’re executing this (potential) game plan so far.

Then there was Kobe. Again Darius nailed it – he said in the comments that Orlando was used to seeing LeBron come off that pick, lower his head and linebacker to the hole. But Kobe’s game is more diverse, and he loves the midrange. Starting in the second quarter he came off that pick from Gasol and was consistently able to get to the spot he loves on the elbow, where they gave him the jumper. Next game Orlando is going to show out on that, they are going to body up Kobe, and he has to be ready for his counter to that (pass back to cutting Gasol, kickouts, there are options.

Phil said after the game he was not comfortable with how much the Lakers ran the pick and roll, but you run things until they can stop it.

One well the Lakers will go back to is posting up people, particularly anyone Courtney Lee is covering. One more for Darius, since he is on a roll:

Our ability to post up with five different players completely disrupted the Magic’s ability to get the ball upcourt as they were consistently either taking the ball out of the hoop or made them stay around the paint to secure rebounds or help on the interior. Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Walton – all these guys had good games on the block and the Magic didn’t have an answer.

Game one has little bearing on game two — the Lakers do not get to start with a 25 point lead.

But that one sure felt good.

Kurt

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133 responses to Well, That Went Well

  1. A fundamental basketball question: why does taking a step back force Dwight to face up? Facing up is generally dictated by the offensive player, not the defensive player, correct? Dwight could very easily, had he wanted to, taken a step in and posted Drew in, which is why I didn’t like Drew giving him room.

    I saw that strategy more as poor defense, to be honest (early on in the game). Bynum didn’t really deny the catch, and instead of staying low, keeping a body on Howard, and forcing him out, he gave him room to operate. The facing up was more a poor decision on Dwight’s part, I thought. But I may have a different opinion when I go back and re-watch it, though, I was so hyped up I probably missed a lot of details.

    Great win, but this Magic team is unbelievably mentally tough and they’ll shoot better (how well is in question). A less Kobe-centric and more Pau-centric offense may open up more things for others, but I’m not complaining when Kobe’s on like he was tonight.

  2. What a great game, especially defensively, for the Lakers. I thought they did an excellent job bodying up Turkoglu and Lewis, forcing them to put the ball on the floor and finish over the length inside. Lewis, especially, struggled.

    I really liked how the Lakers defended the perimeter. I remember from the Cleveland games how well the Magic used perimeter ball movement to get open shots. Today there seemed to be a combination of the Lakers recovering well, and the ball “sticking” to some Magic players who forced drives inside. I would expect better ball movement, and maybe a little high-low action with Lewis and Howard. The Turkoglu flat pick and roll was effective early, but it seemed the Magic moved away from that after the first quarter. I expect to see more of that next game as well.

    Luke Walton had a good game in the post, and LO brought the energy and rebounding.

    As Kurt previously pointed out, the Lakers killed Orlando on the boards 55-41, including 15-10 offensive boards. That will continue to be important for the Lakers.

    Oh, and Kobe’s line – 40, 8, 8 with 1 turnover? Even with 34 shots, ‘impressive.

  3. Kobe Bryant is very good at Basketball.

  4. That first Phoenix series I consider one of Phil’s finest coaching jobs. That Laker team was so unstacked and that Suns team could easily have won the championship. And the key was something about the game planning against Phoenix that turned them into a half-court team taking midrange jump shots off the dribble which they just weren’t best at. Unfortunately, that Laker team didn’t have the offensive firepower to stay with the Suns, but this year’s does.

    I agree that this game they seemed to consciously keep from shooting the 3. I think Kobe shot only one 3 all game.

    The Magic does not seem comfortable hitting that moving midrange jumper and we gave that to them all night. On the other hand, they probably missed about six open looks from 3, so perhaps this was more of a 10 point win than a 25 point win.

    I am assume the Magic will trap Kobe more next game, and the rest of the team has to be ready. They may change the way they rotate the ball, as the Lakers were just solid, closing out on the 3 point shooters as the ball whipped around the perimeter.

    All in all, a lovely game to watch.

  5. 1 down, 3 more to go!

    Great game by LA. Tough to take a lot away from it, though, as orlando never really stepped up the pressure. I think the lakers will respond, but this wasn’t a test, and we know orlando has better games in them.

    Some points – best game by andrew so far of the post season. He missed a couple of gimmies, but solid defense on dwight, and clearly he bought into the “use up all 6 fouls” strategy of ensuring no dunks. Great rebounding, solid defense, exactly what phil’s looking for.

    Sasha’s deep in the doghouse, when phil is running brown/farmar in the back court. it could hurt us as brown isn’t a great outside shooter, and farmar hasn’t shown it lately, but so far, so good. It’s really disappointing that sasha has disappered so completely. the machine needs to be rebooted/retooled, whatever, but c’mon, sasha, start hitting some 3s.

    SvG blinked first – to one of the preview post’s points, he was the first one to pull lewis and play howard/gortat to match up with the front line size. Good sign for us when the other guy starts second guessing.

    Game 2 will be a great opportunity for the lakers to ratchet up the pressure, I’m looking forward to it.

  6. I absolutely loved the decision to put Howard on the line at every opportunity rather than let him have a dunk or lay-up. Dude shot 16 free throws (made 10) but only hit on one field goal on six whole shot attempts. The Cavs kept talking about wrapping him up and preventing the three-point play, but they never actually executed it. Playing against some real big men sure makes a difference, eh? Same for facing a real coach.

  7. Originally posted on the other thread…

    In the first Drew did a FANTASTIC job of staying disciplined and staying on his man. Yes, he ended up with 2 fouls and on the bench, but for the bulk of his minutes, he let the cutters go by so that Howard had no easy looks. CRITICAL. Great effort by Drew.

    LO had another great game.

    Gasol seems to not shoot as well against the Magic. They seem to be able to keep him out of his comfort zone other than that 14-18 foot jumper.

    The Lakers went to the High P&R a LOT tonight when Kobe went incendiary hot. I agreed with Phil, you can’t let the entire offense turn in to 4 guys watching Kobe. That won’t work for multiple games. Kobe won’t be that hot and the Magic won’t stay that cold. I’m happy with the win, but I’d be happier if more of the offensive production had come from running the offense than Kobe’s ability to hit ridiculous shots.

    I know, there’s no pleasing me.

  8. Remember i said i hope Kobe has a series better than he had against the spurs in 2001 WCF?

    Do something special? I thought he mightve been pacing himself since last summers olympics and waiting to explode and show Lebron and Wade (who both went allout all year dominating and carrying their teams) who the REAL best player was?

    Ummm, yeah. Its Kobe’s time, he knows what it takes now, he knows it aint easy, he aint cocky, he’s humble and determined, SO DETERMINED, and he’s gonna do somethingspecial.

    40 points (career finals high), 7-9 for 18 points in the 3rd quarter when we blew the game open, 8 assists, 8 rebounds, great defense, GREAT GREAT leadership

    Kobe is ready. I truly believe its his time now.

  9. PS: This series is far from over

    The beatdown of the Magic might be a blessing in disguise FOR THEM, because its a wakeup call and now they know how hard it will be, time to regroup for them

    we better not get gassed up and think itll be easy based on one game either. Kobe and Phil wont let that happen, if i was Phil i’d be showing a tape of game 1 of the 1985 finals in practice tomorrow to drive home the point (the game that we got blown out by the celtics by 40+) and point out that we won that series, not the celtics

  10. :”Next game Orlando is going to show out on that, they are going to body up Kobe, and he has to be ready for his counter to that”

    Blow by and take it all the way to the rim

  11. I thought that the Lakers’ aggressiveness on defense really made ORL uncomfortable to setup their offense. As we have predicted, they went early with Hedo-Howard PnR and had a few good looks because Drew is always slow to recover and/or rotate. Once Odom came in, our defense was much tighter as he and Gasol rotated much better.

    Our patience on offense really made the ORL players work on D, which is another way of making their offense less effective. We limited their transition opportunities by placing at least 2 to 3 defenders on the perimeter mainly Ariza and Fisher to make sure we have the numbers advantage. Also, our length bothered Howard enough to keep him from making quick outlet passes to their PG or Hedo. Plus, our made baskets meant that they had to take the ball out of bounds.

    Our one concern is how to keep the defensive intensity up with our second unit particularly with Farmar and Sasha. In the second half, PJ brought in Farmar and Brown, and I thought it made the unit more steady overall. Farmar and Sasha will make TOs and really swing the momentum unless they are both blazing hot from 3s, which hasn’t been there all season long.

    I think when we bring in our 2nd unit, we have to make sure Walton, Gasol, and Odom get post feeds to make sure we use clock on offense (thus buying more time for Kobe), AND keep ORL from getting out on transition from long rebounds from 3s.

    But it all comes down to effort. I thought that we are finally getting the Lakers we’ve envisioned and dreamed of when they are playing HARD. Fans can only ask that our team give its best effort, and tonight they did it. It may not always bring home wins, but this team is talented enough to do that this season. It’s good to be a Laker fan in June…

  12. Snoopy2006, force is the wrong word. Tempt would be a better one.

  13. 5 I like that strategy…..more potential to get to the line or kick out to the open shooters, but if 24 is hitting the mid range….he can take that all game long.

  14. This is what i want to see. Lakers being serious for the first game, unlike the last 2 first-round game. Now i just wish Lakers would remain focus in game 2. If not, then oh well, I know i won’t be surprise.

  15. Fabulous game, just pleased to no end with the passion and determination that EVERYONE displayed…who said Kobe isn’t a great leader?

    And for those in the LA area, here’s your chance at free tix to the game Sunday…damn the Midwest

  16. I dare to say that Kobe is the absolute best jump shooter off the dribble in the league bar none.

    Yeah there are better spot up jump shot specialists or better catch and shooters off the curl, but off the dribble it’s not even close.

  17. Snoopy #1/Kurt #6:

    A little bit of it is temptation, a little bit is Howard not having much of a face-up shooting game (unlike Pau or even Bynum) so he’s forced to try and take his man off the dribble, and a lot of it is he doesn’t have much of a post-up game either, so he doesn’t really feel comfortable backing his man down.

  18. Snoopy,
    I would agree with Kurt – backing off is a tactic that makes Howard feel more comfortable facing up as there’s no body/contact there to make a backdown/power move. When Howard played against Cleveland, especially in game 6, Z/Varejao gave Dwight that body contact that enabled him to use his power and strength to create the type of offense that he excels at – back down moves to the middle where he can shoot his little jumphook or counter spin and explode for the power finish at the basket. When Bynum/Gasol take that step away, Howard now must make a move in space and that will usually necessitate a dribble (or more – depending on how far away from the basket he is) to initiate. And when Howard has to dribble, that allows us to blitz him with a late double (ala Odom’s play on the ball where everyone wanted Dwight called for a travel) and/or it also allows us to use our strength as defenders (length) to better challenge Howard’s shots when he goes into his finishing move. I mean, how many times did Dwight drive and then attempt a shot with Pau/Drew jumping with him and extending their arms and contesting at the peak of his release? How many times did Dwight show that his touch is lacking around the basket when these are the types of shots that he’s attempting? Dwight can counteract this some by taking one or two dribbles and then turning his back again to post up in a traditional manner, but again this isn’t Dwight’s strength. In his mind (not to play psychologist, but just based off the evidence), Dwight still sees his biggest advantage as his quickness. It’s his quickness that allows him to get that step on his defender and enables him to explode above the defender. This is in stark contrast to Shaq who always used his quickness as a setup to his power. Shaq’s favorite plays were ones where he would take that first step not to blow by a defender but to get into his body and then muscle his way to the hoop. Shaq would play pinball with the defender and constantly make him feel him. Dwight just isn’t that guy. But, if/when Dwight figures this out, he’ll seem much more polished (even if his game doesn’t get much more refined than what it is now). But until that point, he’s going to be a little less effective than he should be. Just my two cents.

  19. The Dude Abides June 4, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Excerpt from Chris Sheridan’s column over at ESPN:

    Problem was, the Magic were already trailing by 28 at that point of what ended up as a humiliating 100-75 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night.
    http://tinyurl.com/o83uwr
    “How humiliating? Well, we can tell you that Shaquille O’Neal found the time — either at halftime or early in the third quarter — to post a photograph on his Twitter page showing what the child of Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard might look like.”

    And, here is that pic:
    http://twitpic.com/6naml

    I haven’t stopped laughing for ten minutes. I can’t help it, I love the big shaqtus, even if he acts like he’s twelve sometimes. Or maybe because he acts like he’s twelve.

  20. Now Kobe just need to prove he can win without Gasol!!!

  21. The best part of the game was seeing the lakers maintain their focus through half time and really stepping on the Tragic’s throat in the 3rd!

  22. The Dude Abides June 5, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Everyone, please read my comment (#14) when it finally escapes from moderation/spam filter hell. Shaq is at it again with the hilarity.

  23. Not much of a commenter on this blog, but I want to throw in my favorite play of the day.

    There’s one play sticks in my mind. Orlando got a loose ball or a rebound (can’t remember that part) but they came down a fast break, Dwight Howard was well ahead of the pack ready to catch a pass and throw it down.

    Andrew Bynum was behind and looked up to see Dwight leaving him and then suddenly pointed his arm at him, realized that that was his responsibility and then actually turned on the jets and throw his arms up, the pass sailed high and Dwight had to make an awkward catch and because he was out of position he threw up a terrible shot or it was blocked cant remember, then it led to a fast break the other way.

    That’s all they needed out of Drew, to keep his man from beating him down the floor. The best way to stop Dwight is to just simply stay with him down the court. Bynum didn’t beat him down the court but his mere willingness to just make it a tough pass totally killed that play. That was a sign that the Lakers were definitely in this game.

  24. Just watched “Kobe Doin’ Work” finally, I really did not realize how much he was in control of the players and telling them what/how to do. He defineatly respects high BBIQ in his teammates and knows them well, maybe that is how Luke who seems like an average NBA player to me, can be so productive on the floor with players like Kobe. He really seems to like his job. Now I will be able to enjoy the rest of the games this series even a little bit more.

    Bye-the-way, good game by the Lakers, if we have another one like this last one, Lakers in 5 for sure but just maybe even 4, but let’s see what happens in game 2. It is difficult to sweep a good team, imo, and the Magic are a good team.

    “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” – James Joyce

  25. Is it just me or is Kobe playing the best BBall of his career??? All around solid game.
    BTW, just did a little bit of checking and…….Jordan got his last ring at 35. Kobe has more miles than him and he won’t take two years off like Jordan did, but it seems pretty safe to say that Kobe’s window is still pretty wide open for future rings after this one, especially with Bynum in there. I know it would be a harder 3-peat this time with the better competition and all, but I’d love it if he got 3 more in a row. Wait, screw that, make that 4. Something in me just tells me that we’re about to witness the best years of Kobe’s game, the all around beautiful game we know he’s capable of. He just paces himself because he knows that’s the smart thing to do. Just when it looks like he’s losing a step, he shows us that he’s still got that extra gear and can use it when he wills it. This is going to be LEGENDARY.

  26. Question for y’all – http://tinyurl.com/oqz3z3 – are those really Kobe’s shoes? Because they look like Lamar’s to me (Cathy, Jayden, etc.). Or was Kobe wearing them in tribute?

    Commenting on my own comment from the other thread — I am glad that the Lakers alleviated my anxiety for at least one game. It sounds like they weren’t complacent and never let up on execution once they got the lead. I do have one question based on my following along on GameChannel – when we were up big in the 4th, why did PJ put Kobe back in the game? Just insurance? Because prior to getting reinserted, Kobe had only gotten about 30 min. of PT, which would have been awesome in terms of saving his legs. He ended up w/ around 38 min., which also isn’t that bad, I guess.

    I’m very impressed with our guys, and I haven’t even watched the game yet (it’s “finals” time for me, too). Let’s hope that it continues.

    Mimsy: “Personally, I’ll root for the team that knocked mine out, if that had happened. If we’re going to lose to anyone, it better be the Champions.” I can understand that side of it, but my response to the Lakers losing in the playoffs is losing interest in the proceedings entirely. I can’t bring myself to root for a team that beat mine. I guess I’m a sore loser or something.

    The Dude Abides — I saw that pic on my Twitter feed earlier. Was traumatized for life. I think he posted it twice, too.

    Can’t wait for Sunday, when I’ll actually get to watch the game LIVE.

  27. Mark Jackson put it best (I can’t believe I am actually saying that), noting that he couldn’t think of a Laker having a bad game.

    It was clear that the Lakers were locked in tonight and were going to be okay regardless of what Orlando did.

    The team-wide defensive intensity was there, and Kobe’s quarterback jig only serves to get a little bit into the Magic’s head, leading into the next game. Phil Jackson’s post-game Q&A seemed to signal that game psychology is a formal part of the plan.

    Tons of respect for what Orlando can do (especially if Jameer gets his legs and shooting touch, as he was mighty effective as a facilitator), but the Lakers are FINALLY on a mission.

    That’s clear, which is great news for us Laker fans!

    Mark

  28. That trophy design at center court ought to remain there if the Lakers win the title.

  29. You guys already said almost everything there is to say about the strategic stuff. A few minor things I mentioned in the last thread as well:

    I liked the whole team being involved in defensive rebounding. On several occasions there were tipped balls that always ended up in our hands because the perimeter players of the Magic were already starting to retreat but our guards stayed involved until the ball was secured. This limits fast break opportunities to a degree, but with the success of our halfcourt offense, I’d rather have it this way.

    Also, it’ll be interesting to see how Alston responds to this challenge from Nelson. Will he use it put in more effort in his minutes or will he let it get to him? If I had to bet, I’d say the latter.

    Finally, I like how we are getting treated to new nicknames in the playoffs. In addition to the candyman, this from the above-linked ESPN article:

    “Bryant’s 40 points will go down as the story of this game, and there’s a nice little side story of how his drive to win his first championship without Shaq is affecting his mood.

    “My kids are calling me Grumpy from the Seven Dwarfs,” Bryant said. “A grouch.”

    Great game by Grumpy. Who are the other six dwarfs on our team?

  30. did anyone see the new puppet commercial with lebron? haha – that was cold

  31. IMO this rout was all about taking Orlando out of their comfort zone. Making Lewis head fake then take pull up fifteen footers instead of a standstill three, making Howard think about the face up move rather than simply bang away and put someone’s butt in the bucket as Kobe says and making Turkoglu finish the play every time rather than facilitate. Those three are obviously able to make those plays some of the time but I don’t think they can make a living(or get a trophy) out of them.
    Hats off to Gasol and Bynum for busting their tails to stop Howard in transition every time down the court. Another kudo to Ariza for playing hard without getting any shots.
    Long time reader first time poster btw, grin.
    I have never seen this come up. I am wondering how tall Gasol and Bynum really are? They seem to be significantly taller than other bigs that are listed close to their size such as NeNe and Howard. The difference seems to be four or five inches rather than the official two inches. Simply curious on that point.
    A fun game and hoping we have three more just like it.

  32. Thursday morning 3:00 AM:

    Stan Van Gundy’s crack assistant coaches, Brendan Malone and Steve Clifford leaned back and rubbed their eyes after putting in 20 hour days for the past week studying game tape. They had looked at each other postively giddy with relief. Bleary eyed, they hardly noticed Patrick Ewing sneaking into the suite at dawn from another session at Scores. Ewing quickly rubbed the lipstick off his neck and asked “How’s it goin?”

    Malone smiled, “We’ve finally cracked it.” “We found the Laker’s weaknesses and have a plan to take advantage of them.” Clifford added, “They won’t know what hit them.” “Their series versus Denver showed that a front-line of thugs can bother them – but we dont’ have any thugs.” “Except for Marcin”, piped Malone. “Their series against Houston showed us that lock-down perimeter defender can bother them” “But we don’t have them”, said Ewing, anticipating the punchline. “But when we looked at our games against them in the regular season – which we won by the way – we found real weaknesses in their game.” We are preparing a prep video and devising the scheme right now.” “Yeah, we’ll practice it at shoot-around”. Clifford reiterated, “They won’t know what hit them.”

    Friday morning 3:00 AM

    Stan was hoarse from chewing out Malone and Clifford for the past 3 hours. “We executed the scheme you put together.” “We isolated Turkoglu on the perimeter and ran him on pick and rolls. But he couldn’t get free to take the 3 or drive down the lane. We hid Courtney Lee on defense but he just got backed into the post and scored on. What happened?”

    “Radmanovic was alot better than we expected.”

  33. Darius, Brian – that makes a lot more sense now. I like the comparison to Shaq. On top of Shaq being a different beast of offensive player, Shaq was also calmer under help defense and a far superior passer. Dwight gets a bit flustered if the help comes once he’s already into his move.

  34. Also it’s been said many times already – but Luke Walton deserves major props. He completely threw a monkey wrench into Orlando’s gameplan, who probably thought Lee could hide on Walton with MP in the game (maybe not the Magic coaches, but definitely the fans). Walton is a player that just maximizes his skill set.

    I still remember when Walton seemed like a revelation during the 04 Finals, when he gave us some small amount of hope.

  35. I think we might see a Gortat (who was very impressive last night, he is a better man-on defender in the post than Howard), Howard front line to start the next game. This front line gave them the size to battle the Lakers on the boards and to prevent doubling in the post on the Lakers bigs. SVG may go with this line up then bring in Lewis when Odom comes in. If they do this it will be interesting to see how Phil adjusts.

    I liked the Lakers 3 pt defense last night. They really made a concerted effort to force Lewis, Nelson (somewhat) and Turkoglu off of the 3 pt line making them finish over our long front court or take mid range jump shots. Often times they let Peitrus, Alston and Lee take somewhat contested to open 3s. But I am ok with this, since they are not as good of shooters as those other 3. If they get hot though, the Lakers will have to cover them out there.

  36. Here in the Bay Area they had Warriors assistant coach Russell Turner giving some post-game commentary, and I thought he made an excellent point re the Laker defense on Dwight Howard:

    “I thought he became tentative based on the way the Lakers were playing him. We talk and talk and talk about the big guys for the Lakers, but Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant are two of the best guards in the league at digging down on the post. And, Dwight Howard has a very high dribble, and those two guys get their hands on a lot of balls. I thought he was a little bit less aggressive with his dribble than he has been throughout the playoffs.”

  37. The game was very well managed by the Laker coaching staff and the execution of the defensive schemes were just as crisp. While the Lakers only had 4 Fastbreak points, they had the Magic to ZERO. Thats right…zero fastbreak points. But that is not the most significant part of that number…a total of 4 fastbreak points combined between the two teams.

    From that alone…there was obviously a “pound it in the paint mentality” as evidenced in the fact that Lakers had a +34 points in the paint

  38. i like the message the lakers (or rather kobe) sent in the 4th quarter.. u start cutting into a big lead… make a couple of 3s and a run at the game.. ‘don’t even think about it boy..’

    for all the laker’s lack of toughness and killer instinct.. thats real leadership by kobe..

  39. Kaifa:

    Pau is definitely sleepy since he always looks like he just woke up.

    And Odom is dopey, for obvious reasons.

    Not sure about any others.

  40. It was a fun win. I liked our D. Maybe we got them out of their rhythym but it seems like Orlando missed a lot of open looks. They are going to shoot better in Game 2. We need to be ready for that. I read all of the comments and one thing nobody has mentioned is the look on Kobe’s face last night. Just cold, mean, determined.

  41. Odom looked healthy – I thought he was ‘gutting it out’ in games 5 and 6 vs the Nuggets, but now he looks pretty comfortable out there. That week off was definitely good for him. A healthy Odom is going to be HUGE for us. Rashard struggled all night against Odom. Maybe he’ll even be consistent throughout the series? …probably not.

  42. I like the way we won this almost as much as the win itself. Solid execution, professionalism, focus… Kobe was of course as expected just Kobe. Lamar player hard and Bynum’s defense on Howard was outstanding. Someone pat him on the shoulder and make him play like that again!

    Pau wasn’t as effective as he’s been in the past, but his defense on Howard, both alone and when he helped Bynum with it, was also very effective.

    If we can keep playing like this, we’re going to win this series as well. :)

  43. I don’t know if it was just me last night but I felt like Kobe was forcing them to adjust to HIM rather than the Lakers. I think he’s forcing them to consider double-teaming him so the floor creates more space for the other 4 guys, which would be great for the Lakers to take advantage of, especially operating the offense with Pau in the post.

  44. Grumpy = Kobe
    Sleepy = Pau
    Doc = Fish
    Happy = Odom
    Bashful = Ariza
    Sneezy = Sasha
    Dopey = no one yesterday

  45. Despite watching Kobe for his entire career, with all the great games, milestones, etc., I still find myself amazed at his greatness even in single plays. Take for example this series against Mickael Pietrus: crossover dribble between his legs, back him down twice, spin move, fade-away, double-clutch, off-the glass, with the and-1. That’s seven (eight if you count the made free throw) fundamentally sound basketball moves made in one posession that lasted all of 3 or 4 seconds. There is no other basketball player on the planet who has the discipline, skills, and will to do that.

  46. Things I really liked:

    1) we KILLED them on the boards. This game confirmed my suspicions – the Magic aren’t good rebounders except for Dwight. If SVG isn’t going to play Howard and Gortat together, then boxing out Howard and having everyone swarm him on tipped balls is going to give us that advantage.

    2) Bynum – was into it from the outset, nearly posted a double double (had to have been a career postseason high in boards), and played great D in Howard. btw, I love how Mark Jackson thought fouling the crap out of Howard on a rare occasion that he made successful counter spin move to get Bynum out of position was bad defense, then in the subsequent possession praised how the Lakers were fouling productively. Also, I thought we didn’t unveil any exotic double-teaming schemes or anything (like we do with Yao). Hopefully we still have those in the bag if they counter our defense, although I’m not certain what they could do.

    3) perimeter D – we forced the ball out of the hands of their stars and into guys who we wanted shooting. I laughed with glee everytime Tony Battie jacked up a long-range brick, or skip to my Lou missed 3 after 3 after 3.

  47. SVG is in a real catch 22 with Nelson. Play him like he did last night and he gets blasted for giving him 23 minutes — but while Nelson wasn’t good after the first few minutes he wasn’t the reason they lost. But if he didn’t play Nelson and Orlando had lost big (which I think would have happened anyway, as Orlando, like the Lakers last year, was not ready for the intensity of this level or a long defensive team) he would have been blasted for not playing Nelson.

  48. A lot is being made of Kobe’s game (as it should be!), but LeBron had huge games against the Magic and look how they turned out (losses or close wins). A couple of key differences -

    The obvious – Kobe’s teammates are very skilled players and the Magic couldn’t contain them while letting Kobe get his. When they play right, this is a great, great Laker team. Cavs didn’t have near this kind of talent.

    On the Magic’s poor shooting – I think the Lakers length and athleticism bothered the Magic. It is true that the Magic got some open looks and didn’t convert – but I don’t think they got that many. And even then I think two factors came into play. 1 – they were out of synch and rushed. 2- the players were a little more burned out, having to play D on every Laker player on every Laker possession.

    I am sure the Magic will come out and play much better in game 2. Especially Howard. He is going to be a raging bull – but maybe we can get him into foul trouble as a result. I expect a real dog fight on Sunday.

    I am worried some Lakers players may lose focus (I seem to recall that happening before….). This leads to my second concern – that Kobe might actually rip out one of the offending player’s adams apple with his teeth.

    If the Lakers keep playing at the level of the last three games, they’ll get the rings. It is not about the Magic anymore – it is about the Lakers. They control the outcome of this series.

  49. Bynum, when healthy and focused (he is still young), is a very, very good defender and big man around the rim. When he is on his game and running hard up and down the court, he is a big load, for anyone.

    Gasol is one of the best big men playing. He seems soft, but more and more it feels like he just picks his spots.

    Lakers fans have been saying this for years: Kobe is the best playing. We get all bunched up about LeBron, (who we all admit is a fabulous, once a generation, athlete) getting “best in the world” accolades without winning anything. Kobe does have the hardware, and well…as you saw last night, he has the heart.

    No true Lakers fan is resting easy, because the Magic are tough, but we are certainly breathing a bit deeper today.

    Regarding Dwarfs:

    Grumpy = Kobe
    Sleepy = Pau
    Doc = Fish
    Happy = Odom
    Bashful = Bynum
    Sneezy = Sasha
    Dopey =Walton

    Snow White: Phil Jackson
    The Wicked Witch: Benetto Salvatore

    : )

  50. VoR, your second concern has me chuckling madly to myself at my desk here at work. And spray coffee on my monitor.

  51. Like Kurt was saying, the Magic were not ready for the intensity that the Lakers brought. The path to the Finals really developed the killer instinct that was missing throughout the year. Against Houston, those perimeter defenders gave Kobe fits and the quickness shredded our defense. But the Lakers were able to get tougher and take advantage of their size. Against Denver there was a thug (Dantay Jones) and he took a page out of the Raja Bell book and tried playing physical and dirty ie. the trip. And Kobe LOVES the physical play. He’s a product of the 80′s and that only inspired him to play tougher!

    Now we’re in the Finals and we’re playing against a team that WE can call soft. Courtney Lee and Michael Pietrus? Those guys can’t even touch Kobe. The Black Mamba is out, and we are playing a tremendous scheme against Howard. Can’t wait to watch the next game. Just a beauty last night.

  52. #53: I’d hold off on calling Pietrus and Lee soft. Iguodala, Pierce and LB23-that’s the level competition they’ve had en route to the Finals, and they’ve held their own.

    As I watched the 4th quarter, I began thinking about what adjustments I would make if I was SVG.

    The shooting will even itself out, but that makes this game a 10pt game rather than a 25pt blowout.

    Offensively, I would definitely key in on the spacing. There were times where Orlando began to run their offense, and LA’s help defenders were in perfect position to confuse D. Howard. I would post Howard up on the whichever side Kobe and D. Fish were not on (both solid help defenders and ball-strippers). I would also look for more R. Lewis in the post, esp. against LO, and even try Turkoglu in the post. They never capitalized on D. Howard’s weakside offensive rebounding where a strong side miss becomes an easy weakside putback/dunk or a foul (likely on Bynum/Gasol).

    Defensively, I would try Turk. or Rashad Lewis on Kobe at times, just to switch it up and get a stronger/longer defender on him. Kobe got really comfortable with Lee, and Pietrus (who was the primary Kobe defender in his Golden State day).

    I would absolutely stay away from the Battie/Gortat + Howard combos. Both have limited offensive games, and don’t add THAT much defensively (besides size).

    I’m really interested in how Orlando adjusts. What do you guys think?

  53. Coffee is For Closers June 5, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Kurt, I think SVG’s got a bigger problem going forward re: nelson.

    Really, if he’s going to play nelson, he should be starting because of the way nelson and howard PNR together. But if he does that, he may really throw alston, a known headcase, into a funk.

    Further, is nelson really ready to be thrust back into that big a role. I was a little disappointed the lakers didn’t press him and run him through more picks. But maybe game 2 we’ll see more of that.

    My guess is that if the magic have a similar game2 result, they insert nelson into the starting lineup for game 3.

  54. Is it just me, or did the sound quality on the Post-game talk videos on Lakers.com drastically improve for this game?

    And speaking of those videos, one of the things I like the most with having players like Kobe, Pau, and Luke Walton on our team is the post-game talk. They understand the game and can speak intelligently about it, which means I actually get something out of listening to their post-game analysis. They should get some credit for that as well.

  55. study finds that refs favor home team and the team that’s trailing.

  56. snoopy, the reason you make Dwight face up is he doesnt have handle and it takes him out of his comfort zone. he has no short jump short at all, so he has to put the ball on the floor and risk having it stolen. Secondly he is a big man and coached by an all time great big man Ewing, Ewing had a fabulosu jump shot so he could face up, The other thing is big men expect and react to contact, because of their size the use contact to gauge where their man is and which way to initiate their post move. Basically the Lakers across the board took Howard and the rest of the Magic out of their comfort zone and had them trying to do things they weren’t comfortable doing

  57. Mimsy, the feed quality is better because rather than shooting it themselves they are getting the national feed on anything in the interview room. There are two pro cameras and a bunch of sound guys that set it up, very different than a handheld in a locker room. Those guys do amazing work at Lakers.com though.

  58. Other notes out of the locker room:

    A few people here mentioned Kobe’s intensity. You can really feel it coming off him in a way I’ve never seen before. Longtime Lakers staffers that have a relationship with Kobe are avoiding him right now. Seriously. The guy is smoldering.

    The other thing is that the Laker locker room mood seemed pretty business like after the game. Less jovial than normal. To a man they were talking about forgetting the game just minutes after the win and while that is the right thing to say, I think they really meant it. There was no celebration of any kind. Not even shared candy.

  59. Thanks Kurt, that makes perfect sense. And I like it! Now I can hear what they’re saying when I watch the videos at work. (No, I’m not getting a lot of work done today…)

    Luke Walton, by the way, wins Quote of the Day for this:

    Realistically, we haven’t done anything but win Game 1 on a home-court, which you’re supposed to. We’ve got a lot more work to do.

    Love that mind-set.

  60. Don’t look at his face
    That terrifying face of doom
    Kobe “God-mode” Bryant

  61. Kaifa,

    after much research:

    Grumpy, Kobe (self-admitted)
    Doc, Phil (glasses, white beard, the sage thing)
    Sleepy,Pau (those eyes)
    Dopey, Drew (based on age, not on play lately)
    Happy, Odom (can smile through anything)
    Sneezy, Fish (the other old guy)
    Bashful, Ariza (willing to go when necessary)

  62. 50. I think Morrison is definite Dopey over Luke.

  63. I look forward to seeing Kobe’s underbite every game

  64. Coffee is For Closers,
    I don’t think the Lakers adjusted differently for Nelson because they didn’t plan for him playing. Adjusting on the fly would mean some of the other players would be out of position – remember why Phil put in the SSZ in the first place.

    We may be able to be a good help defensive team, but that isn’t our natural instinct. Therefore, we don’t change our defensive strategies during the game.

  65. loved Andrew’s play. early in these playoffs I was having worries that he wasn’t going to be the player we all hope for, lacking intesnity, and not being dominant. But if he plays this way consistently, the Lakers have a shot at a title next year with or without LO. It’s clear he’s gaining some of his mobility back.

    Regarding Kobe: Its ironic that everybody in the media crowned Lebron best in the NBA before the playoffs started. Bill Simmons writes about how Lebron is a good teammate because everybody on his team is having fun while Kobe’s team wears tired of him always snapping at them, and that their chemistry is contrived….but Kobe’s disposition so far has been difference why the Cavs lost to Orlando and the Lakers perservered against the Nuggets. After “the shot” Mo Williams looked relieved in his press conference, almost as if the fact that Lebron was there meant everything was going to be OK no matter what. After close wins against Denver, every Laker admitted to needing to step up, and they did. And they are all rising to the challenge right now. Kobe’s intensity, drive and desire to win is clearly reflected in the approach that his teammates are taking. Lebron’s teammates spent their time between early playoff wins perfecting their pregame poses and celebrations.

    Kobe>>>Lebron. Still. He may not have the springs to compare with LBJ, but Jordan’s legacy was built on his courage, competitiveness and ability to get his teammates to rise to the occasion, not his dunks. Kobe will be remembered for the same things as Jordan. So far, Lebron will be remembered for his entertainment value.

    Oh and Danny Ferry has ONE SUMMER to salvage a shot to keep Lebron in 2010. IMO, he’s gone if they don’t win a title next year, or lose in spite of Lebron’s teammates.

  66. Now that is the Laker team that was frustrating me during the Houston and Denver series. I think Kobe and his teammates are finally realizing this is a golden opportunity to win a ring.

    They are so much better then teams like Denver, Houston, and Orlando but they seemed to playing down to their competition until just recently.

    We know they can do it, so lets see them finish the job.

    Lakers in 5

  67. Anybody checked out Hollinger’s column bashing Laker fans? I won’t link…

  68. People, Orlando is a good team that is not going to role over and die. Neither was Houston and Denver, thinking the Lakers were dramatically better than these teams is hubris. LA can win, but it is not all about them. Game 2 will be closer because Orlando is a team with weapons that can adjust.

  69. I guess the best conclusion from Game 1 is that the Lakers are the team we thought they were–a lot like the start of the season. The only question of interest is whether or not they will revert to the team we thought they weren’t.

    That’s not taking anything away from Orlando, but they’d need another Magic to beat this Laker team–and he does commentary these days.

    Orlando has a best chance to make this into a white knuckle affair on Sunday by nailing those threes–and they know it.

    It will be interesting to see what happens.

  70. I realize we all like roller coasters, but from peak to trough in one game – that’s a bit extreme for my tastes. I’m an old buzzard and I don’t need to put that much strain on my heart.

  71. Coffee is For Closers June 5, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Craig, I still think they can press nelson from the backcourt w/o compromising their SSZ, and yes, with an expectaction of more minutes from him going forward, i’m sure the staff will game plan for him now.

    I also obviously I love the vibes comming from kobe and the team. they are so uber focused, like i’ve never seen them. alternatively, i think the magic were a little surpised by the intensity.

  72. If you’re Orlando, what adjustments do you make? What can Howard do differently? He doesn’t have the Olajuwon Bag of Tricks (and you can’t buy it online, either).

  73. One of the signs of a good Phil Jackson team is a dominate 3rd quarter. Last night was what his championship teams do.

  74. Coffee is For Closers June 5, 2009 at 11:33 am

    One thing I loved last night is the way our bigs just grabbed great offensive rebound position when the magic left the paint off our PNR or to help on kobe. Several times, I saw laker jump shots go up, and knew immediately even if the shot didn’t fall, we’d have an easy put-back.

    Some things that are a bit of a concern, it seemed like ariza and pau had a tough time stopping turkaglo and lewis from driving to the hoop when isolated. I’d expect to see more of that in game 2.

  75. Seven Dwarves

    April said it best but I would make 1 change:

    Grumpy = Kobe
    Sleepy = Pau
    Doc = Fish
    Happy = Odom
    Bashful = Ariza
    Sneezy = Sasha
    Dopey = Farmar (ears)

  76. In retrospect, the Magic did some things that were pretty silly, and the biggest one that comes to mind is giving Kobe that midrange area to operate. He will murder you 90% of the time.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the next game they get Howard or Lewis to show hard on Kobe p&r, and bring a weakside defender to help on the rolling LA big man. This means Kobe will swing to the weakside for open shots by Ariza or Fish – a much better outcome for the Magic.

  77. Howard will look for more opportunities to flash to the middle after they get the Lakers in scramble mode. When he catches it deep he’s very hard to stop

  78. Ariza had a tough night, but he was guarding their playmaker and I don’t really care how much he scores, as long as Hedo doesn’t go off for assists/points.

    I think the big scores in this series, for the Lakers, are likely to be Lamar and the guards. The bigs will have a lot to do handling the Orlando front line.

  79. I think Kobe right now is like the Method Actor who stays in character between takes. You don’t want to mess with him right now; he’s liable to go postal on you Christian Bale-style.

    I think Kobe looked at last year’s Celtics and concluded he needs to emulate Garnett’s intensity in order to keep the Lakers focused and winning. That seems to be working. At some point, I hope he’ll calm down and find a happy medium b/c after a while it will grate on his teammates. Kobe doesn’t want to become this year’s Garnett, who seems to be having some kind of psychotic episode.

  80. Great first game for the Lakers, but it just gets tougher from here. Orlando isn’t going to shoot 29% in the next game. The key will be what adjustments Phil makes after seeing SVG’s adjustments for game 2.

  81. The key to game 2 is that Kobe knows exactly what he is going to do, whatever changes SVG makes. Kobe will take the best percentage play.

  82. we played dwight and the magic yesterday the same way phil employed his bulls to play in 1996 againt the magic aand shaq/penny in the ECF

    4-0 sweepl, very surprising one at that

    Phil is a great coach, people dont realize it enough

    and Kobe’s determination and leadership was just insane, talk about WANTING it BAD

  83. Just like the Game 5 blowout we suffered against Houston, we can’t read too much into this game

  84. ” Anonymous wrote on June 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    This is what i want to see. Lakers being serious for the first game, unlike the last 2 first-round game. Now i just wish Lakers would remain focus in game 2. If not, then oh well, I know i won’t be surprise.”

    They will be. That doesnt guarantee a win, because Orlando got a wakeup call and will regroup, and are very talented

    WE KNOW they are CAPABLE: but not against us!

    Our focus will be there, as will our effort, thats definite, this is the finals

  85. There are experts clamoring on about Game 1 being a statement game.

    It isn’t.

    Game 2 is.

  86. 19, i agree

    and believe it or not thats a good thing for the magic, for the future

    because when you get to this level and realize you arent quite there yet/good enough, itll make you work harder to realize what you have to do to get to the next level that you so desperately want to reach

    if they win it all and he dominates at 23 years old he’ll think its easy and not work as hard on his game, and fail in the future/not reach his full potential

    lebron losing in the finals in 2007 the way he did was a GOOD thing for Cleveland and us as basketball fans (not as laker fans tho)

    Dwyane Wade losing in the conference finals in 2005 and breaking down physically was a GOOD thing for miami and us as basketball fans (not as laker fans)

    Carmelo geting past the first round and experienc8ing that success but losing in the WCF is a GOOD thing for denver and us as basketball fans (and as laker fans :)

    Because the initial success lets you know that hard work pays off, makes you hungry for more, gets you the credit you deserve, and failing at a certain point lets you know you arent there yet and need to work harder to reach that next level (like last years kobe compared to this years kobe as a leader and us as a nba finalist team)

    get it?

  87. Re: The Lakers Offense – I think Orlando can mostly live with the Kobe mid-range game. I mean, 40 points on 34 shots is what you want from Kobe. We did not put the ball in Bynum/Gasol’s hands and have them attack Howard – I think that is Orlando’s worst nightmare. 8 assists from Kobe is also something they will want to key in on.

    Scoring 100 points against Orlando is a mini-victory. Holding Orlando to 75 is the real reason we won. Gasol and Bynum need to earn serious props for running the floor, bumping Howard on his way back, fighting for position, fronting/denying, and then Kobe and Fish did a great job of digging once he went into his move.

    After Howard’s big game 6, the team was looking hard for him. I bet, in game 2, they go back to what they do best: pick and roll, perimeter ball movement. I hope the Lakers are active and that their length continues to give their shooters problems. Obviously the Lakers need to close hard and make Orlando try to finish or shoot midrange.

  88. #89

    You mean people learn from their mistakes? :)

    j/k, I get it. And I think you are absolutely right.

  89. I’m not so sure about the wisdom of Bynum fouling Howard to prevent a dunk. Bynum missed significant time last night because of foul trouble and Howard didn’t get many quality touches. Take away two basically intentional fouls and Bynum could have played a few more meaningful minutes. That seems worth giving Howard a couple of dunks.

    Bynum being out because of foul trouble increases the chances of Gasol getting into foul trouble. Then the inside-outside game of Orlando opens up.

  90. Orlando lost Game 1 to Philly so let’s keep our heads on straight, fellas. That said, LA’s ball movement posed serious problems for Orlando’s slow-footed personnel in Game 1 and SVG ain’t getting new players overnight.

  91. The only “statement game” there is the game you clinch the title – and the statement is “we are champions.” Any other “statement” game is B.S. Just ask Lebron.

  92. On offense, I don’t know that it’s a matter of Orlando adjusting as much as just executing better. They got plenty of open looks that they weren’t hitting. Granted, we limited the number of open looks, but they missed lots of shots that they probably won’t miss in Game 2. And Howard will be better than one of six.

    There’s no question that they have plenty of adjusting to do on defense (i.e., when the Lakers have the ball). As many of the folks here predicted, they have some serious matchup problems.

  93. I’m late chiming in, but there were several factors on display last night that will give Orlando fits should they reoccur, regardless of whatever adjustments their coaching staff can make.

    A) Andrew Bynum clearly understood that he had to be attached to Howard’s hip all night. He raced him up and down the floor in transition, and there were at least two times I caught in which he reached out and tapped a nearby Laker to tighten up the double team. On one rebound opportunity, a Magic player got a clean offensive putback while Bynum was the closest man down. But it wasn’t a bad play — I backed up my DVR to see what happened and Bynum was boxing out Howard, so someone else snuck in.

    So long as Big 17 comes back with that mindset, it bodes well for L.A.

    B) The Lakers have amazing versatility. If some combination of Alston-Nelson and/or Lee are on the floor, the Lakers can post one of them up on the box. Coaching can’t counter that size advantage to swing in Orlando’s favor. If Van Gundy plays Borat with Howard, he loses out on the shooting by benching a perimeter player.

    And while those two bigs are good, the offensive skillsets of Pau and Bynum and Odom would give them fits, even if the sizes even out.

    C) The Lakers played the pick and roll (defensively) with an excellent approach that will be easily to replicate going forward. When Howard would dive, a Laker would simply impede his progress to the hoop. He can’t do much if he can’t get near the rim, so anyone — be it Fish or Ariza or Bynum or Pau — could just slow his roll to the hoop. He’s not going to shoot a 15 foot jumper.

    That simple move of standing in his way, coupled with L.A.’s length and quick recovery efforts, greatly frustrated Orlando’s offense. And that won’t be hard to replicate.

    The burden of proof is firmly on Orlando to adjust. But the Lakers have the ability to counter their play too. Sunday should be a fun chess match.

  94. Mad Dog Kobe

    Enter Staples – death of hope

    Magic dreams denied

  95. j. d. hastings June 5, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    On a minor point, I think it’s something that the Lakers only turned the ball over 8 times, and they were all the result of steals. No passes out of bounds, offensive fouls, or other unforced errors. Is that a sign of great execution?

  96. Yesterday, I picked this series to go 5 games in my Credits on Silver Screen & Roll specifically because I think Andrew and Pau will be able to limit Dwight, and in turn, allow our perimeter guys to defend Lewis and Turkoglu better. I expect Andrew to earn his money this series. He did what we needed him to

    It worked out great last night. If we can continue this. I like my prediction,

    Even if the Magic adjust offensively, they are going to continue to have problems on defense against us. To think that we were able to dominate them with a Kobe-centric offense. They will *have* to adjust, and when they do, we just might get Nuggets Games 5 & 6 again. I think we’re in a good spot. It will be interesting to see how they adjust.

    One made FG for Dwight! 5 total for Hedo and Rashard!

  97. On thing not mentioned about Orlando’s shooting. If you bang offensive players around and move into them on offense it often takes them out of their offensive rhythm. This means when the get their shots, they don’t hit them with the same accuracy as they normally do.

    This would argue that the Lakers continue banging hard on offense and this should help keep the Magic’s shooting percentage below what it should be.

  98. By the way, I think Van Gundy had to play Nelson.

    The Magic’s ceiling is much higher with Jameer. I don’t care how well Rafer was playing. He can’t win a series for them. Jameer back in the groove can. The Magic had to immerse him ASAP.

    He looks healthy. Can’t wait. Expect him to start. If I’m a Magic fan? Who cares if Rafer is upset?

  99. Luke Walton’s post-up game has improved quite a bit over the last few years. I always hear about players’ work ethics in the abstract (this guy is always in the gym, etc etc), but it was nice last night to just see the work he’s obviously put into improving that part of his game really pay off, for him and the team.

  100. Actually, Walton has always had a decent post-up game. The problem is that he is matched up against SF and PF most of the time and, when he gets down low against them, he gets the ball stuffed back in his face. This time the SF was guarding Kobe and he was on a small 2 guard. With his size and strength, he will absolutely kill in that match-up.

  101. Wonda-
    Nelson didn’t look healthy at all, shooting-wise. He made just one long two pointer, one ten-footer off the glass, and a ten-to-twelve-foot baseline jumper. When he shot from further out, he was off, and he even passed up a couple of wide open threes to swing the ball to a less open man. He was also clutching at his shoulder after a collision, with his arm hanging somewhat limply. By no means is his shoulder OK, but he is trying to tough it out.

  102. #99, we think alike

  103. Does anyone know where I might be able to find a quarter-by-quarter box score? I want to isolate what Kobe did in the third and fourth quarters. I can’t seem to find that information anywhere…

  104. #99, i.e. re 5 games. Otherwise I’m just a mess thought-wise

  105. awesome win; hopefully kobe’s focus will preven this team from slipping into light switch mode (like in the houston series). orlando is to be feared and respected, no letting up until we get playoff win #16.

    that having been said, i’m having a great time on this ride…

  106. Dan, I have that info but not electonically. Let me know what you want or email me.

  107. Will do..

  108. Hey Kurt, just emailed you but your in-box is full….

  109. The Dude Abides June 5, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Awesome. Shelly Smith on ESPN just said that Sasha told her that Kobe’s intense “lowered jaw face” reminded him of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Then Shelly said that she’s not sure whether or not Kobe really does want to eat Courtney Lee’s liver with Chianti and fava beans.

  110. wondahbap,
    Obviously SVG agrees with you. In other words, he doesn’t feel like he can beat this Laker team without Nelson playing like he did during those infamous regular season victories. However, I think he has made a tremendous mistake by bringing Nelson back for the following reasons:

    - the chances that Nelson will get anywhere near his midseason form on such short notice -and in the midst of a championship series- are slim (<5%).

    -an average (or worse) Nelson is not worth the disruption that he will cause to the point guard rotation. Especially when you consider that this same rotation has been effective in three other playoff series.

    -If a point guard rotation is too deep, none of the point guards will have enough continuous time on court to ever get into an offensive rythym. This will weaken your offense overall. (the lakers are a good example of this)

    -Bottom line, I think that SVG is neutralizing his own point guard position (offensively) in the same way that PJ has done throughout this playoffs. This is very important because this was one their major advantages over the Lakers during the regular season.

  111. wondahbap-Usually agree with you, but I gotta side with khjohn on this one. Not only is Rafer gonna suffer, the Magic’s second unit suffers because Anthony Johnson was playing some really good ball and lost amongst the Rafer/Jameer talk is the fact that one of their fiery veterans is now out of the rotation. Also, it has eliminated another lineup that the Magic used to success, with Lee at the PG and Pietrus (or Reddick) at the 2 guard.

  112. Does this give anyone else chills?

    http://a323.yahoofs.com/ymg/ept_sports_nba_experts__25/ept_sports_nba_experts-795443805-1244127338.jpg?ymqRXXBDBji5zX0m

    It looks so good, and yet so bad. I can’t tear my eyes away.

  113. You know, as impressive as 40-8-8 is, Kobe Bryant actually could have played better. He was 3-9 in the first quarter and only scored 4 points in the 4th. The Magic better be ready to double-team him and let him hit the open man because if they don’t, I think he’ll top 40 sometime this series. I haven’t seen a man this focused and this hungry that was this good since Jordan. I’m not trying to compare the two, I’m just saying hungerwise…

  114. Is it just me or do good things normally happen when Luke Walton touches the ball? He was right to tell Phil to start Ariza over him because Ariza’s defense is superior and Walton meshes better with the second unit, but he plays better when he is with the first unit. Can you guys believe we actually started the season with Vlad Radmanovic starting?! No offense to Vlad, but he could hit the occasional three and that was about it.

  115. Snoopy, that is the kind of stuff to show us after the Finals are over, now I have to get it out of my mind (NY does have a ton of cap space, right?)… Was the terrible Magic shooting percentages because of the Laker defence, if it was, they may not get any better and shoot that awfull percentage all series long.

  116. I’m glad that Nelson is back because 1) he is not 100% nor will he be anytime soon; 2) Rafer Alston is a headcase who needs to play without worrying about his playing time. Even when he was in HOU, he played his best when he was given HUGE minutes. With a reliable backup limiting his minutes, Alston’s play become very inconsistent.

    Another key personnel is Tony Battie. More we see him, better off we are. He used to be a great shot blocker and rebounder with a decent jump shot from 18 feet. Now, he can’t do any of those very well. If he continues to take shots that we give him, we may consider it an automatic stop, because he will not make too many of them. Furthermore, he keeps from their better shooters from taking 3 pointers.

    Finally, while Hedo Turkoglu has improved and is actually a good one on one player, we could live with him handling the ball more because 1) he is not a great finisher near the rim, 2) he shoots very low percentage when he is one the move; he is much more effective as spot up shooter, 3) it keeps smaller Rafer and Nelson from handling the ball (where we have the weakness), AND turn those guys into spot up shooter, role which they do not excel in. Nelson is a good shooter, but he is better when he finds rhythm dribbling the ball.

    All in all, our team matches up ORL well because we’re long and versatile.

    By the way, I think while Drew is near 7’1″ and Pau is legit 7’0″…I think Dwight is tall 6′ 10 guy. (6’10 3/4″ or so). So in essence, Drew is almost 3 inches taller than Dwight and Pau almost 2 inches. Dwight looks bigger against smaller opponents because he has such muscular upper body, especially super broad shoulders, and very upright posture. Drew and Pau suffer from more narrow shoulders and slouching posture a lot of times. We really have a tall and long front court players.

  117. Kwame & khjohn,

    I would agree with the points the both of you made. But I make my comments under the assumption that the Magic feel Jameer is healthy and ready to go.

    I think Van Gundy realized in the 2nd Quarter (when Nelson played all 12 minutes) that Orlando *cannot* beat the Lakers taking jumpshots. I think he knows Dwight is in for a tough series, and he needs point guard penetration to soften the defense up, and get everyone good looks . That is NOT Alston’s game. He is a set shooter, not a penetrator. Top top it off, he’s very streaky. Given that, Van Gundy might as well get Nelson ready as early as possible.

  118. Not Charlie Rosen June 5, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    2 things (well, 2 1/2 things):

    the 1/2 first: I loved it every time Drew fouled Dwight. I don’t care if Drew, DJ, and an unretired John Salley all foul out of the game and Dwight goes 18 for 18 from the free throw line–Dwight (and thus his team) get a huge emotional boost when he throws down a dunk, and making sure he gets his points from a much less emotional free throw is important.

    #1 – Folks keep saying the Magic missed a lot of “open shots”…one thing we learned in the Houston series is that open shots can be bad ones. That’s the basis for the Rocket’s whole scheme: only a handful of superstars can consistently make shots all over the court (Allen, Kobe, Reggie Miller, etc.); everyone else has spots where they can hit at a really high percentage, and spots where they hit at a low percentage (think Bowen and the corner 3 vs. a 20-footer from the wing). Good defense isn’t about denying a shot, it’s about making the offense take the lowest-percentage shot possible.

    And that’s what we did last night. Sure, Lewis and Turkogoluooo were “open”, but we ran them off their comfort spots, and if they’re shooting from anywhere on the court besides those couple of spots behind the arc, they’re average shooters at best…and if you turn the Magic’s “excellent 3-point shooting” into an “average mid-range game”, you’ve taken away most of what makes them a good team.

    #2 – I think we’re underestimating the impact of Nelson coming back. Houston didn’t trade Alston because he wasn’t a good player…at the time, he was playing better than Brooks…but Houston chose Brooks over Alston because when Alston isn’t “the man”, it really effects him, and that spills over to those around him.

    That’s one reason the Magic have been playing so well to this point: Alston has been “the man”, with no real competition for playing time–Nelson was supposed to be out all season–and he thrives on that. Sure he’s happy to have “our allstar” back…he’s holding the company line…but now he’s no longer “the man”, just 1 of 2 good point guards, and the bitterness and poison that causes in him has a chance to spill over…at best Nelson and the other guys can ignore this, and his return is a wash…but there’s a real chance that it could backfire on them in a big way.

  119. 94. True, very true.

    But they can’t get caught looking down the road either. Whether you are up 1-0 or down 0-1, the most important game is Game 2.

    Basically what I’m saying, if the Lakeshow wins Game 2, my next comment will be, “There are experts clamoring on about Game 2 being a statement game.

    It isn’t.

    Game 3 is.”

  120. wondah,
    I agree – I think van Gundy thinks that they don’t have a chance without Nelson. With Nelson, if he plays very well, they have a slight chance to win, along with the chance that it will affect their “chemistry” and make the disparity greater than it would have been with no Nelson. So (for at least game 1) he rolled the dice, rather than playing it safe. I think it was the correct move.

  121. The Dude Abides June 5, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    OT-The Spurs are trying to sign one of the better Greek big men. Why is this relevant? Check out the google translation of an excerpt from the Greek article:

    “The other side of the Atlantic San Antonio Semen exercise suffocating pressure on John Bourousi to obtain his signature…The sperm were days here and open a ticket with departure date in order to move to San Antonio to see the city, the facilities of the group (land proponitirio) and if satisfied to sign.”

    The commenter who posted this news on the 48 Minutes of Hell blog then goes on to say, “Please inform them that the name of the team is not the Sperm and we are not the S.A. Semen.”

    I’d post a link, but that would only get me caught in spam filter hell.

  122. Boy, I really wanted to see Kobe vs. Lebron. Really I wanted a Celtics rematch, but that wasn’t going to happen once KG got hurt. We have to win Game 2 and then just win one of three on the road, but I really don’t see this Orlando team beating us. If we can keep Ariza and Lamar there’s no reason we can’t wind up back in the Finals next year again. It’s a good time to be a Laker fan. Nothing will be as much fun as Showtime, and winning three in a row was pretty fun, but if we can keep our players, we are set up for a good run again.

  123. Adjustments. I think ORL actually played Kobe okay tactically to give him that midrange jumper — he was just laser-like in the 2nd and 3rd, and could easily shoot a lower percentage. The problem is strategic… they really need to double Kobe and give Fish and Ariza the open 3s. Even if this leads to the same number of points, this will give them *higher-quality misses*… it will lead to some long rebounds with guards running out past the shooter, leading to running game and transition 3s. If Kobe takes the midrange jumpers with our bigs diving, or if he passes out to the Gasol high post-low post passing game, these lead to misses rebounding near the basket which we can contest, leading to few fast break points.

    I really think that if the Lakers continue to shut off the Magic transition game, then the Magic will have a very hard time winning. They cannot beat the Lakers in a series using solely the half-court game… they would have to hope for monster penetration from the guards or terrible foul trouble for our bigs leading to Dwight going off.

  124. 113: also svg can’t back out of playing nelson significant minutes now. for the rest of the series, alston and nelson will have to basically split minutes say plus/minus 4 mine each now.

    Had svg played jameer say 8-12 mins he could make the necessary adjustments but now i think it is too hard for him to regress nelson’s mins

  125. In these play-offs you have to be ready for everything. Even a solid article by Plaschke on Lamar:

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-plaschke-lakers6-2009jun06,0,4465920,full.column

    And here’s Cleamons’ take on how the pick and roll fits into the triangle offense:

    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2009/06/jim-cleamons-lakers-offense-triple-post.html

  126. Loved the win, but I’m getting a not so funny feeling that Kobe might just try and take the Magic out of the series in game 2…

    I will be interested to see what sort of angle he will take, but Im not the only one here that thinks the ball should be dumped into Pau alot more.. for pete’s sake, the guy is shooting at 60% and will make Lewis work extremely hard (well, harder then he worked in the cavs series) on the defensive end and maybe tire him out a little so that he has a little less to give at the other end.. who knows? but in any case, I think it is a travesty that Pau is only getting 16-18 shot attempts a game..

    … here’s to hoping that kobe doesn’t get tunnel vision for all the snarling that he’s been doing lately, the last 3 laker games have been a joy to watch… peace

  127. I dunno why everybody is attributing Alston’s lack of rhythm to Nelson’s minutes. Take a look at his game log in the playoffs and you’d see that this type of bad shooting game is pretty common. He was 6/26 in games 5 and 6 of the Cleveland series. Through four games against Boston he was shooting 8% from threes. He’s just very prone to missing shots, which is why the Lakers were giving them to him. Yea, he can get hot, but it’s less likely than the other Magic players going off. The idea that he’s established some kind of amazing chemistry or that he should get a lot of credit for how far the team’s gotten doesn’t seem right to me (though his defense has been underrated). If Nelson gets better as the series goes on, and I think he will, then SVG made the right move in seeing what he could do.

  128. New post up talking about the importance of game 2.

  129. Each of our players did certain things well and certain things poorly last game. Of course, in a 25 point blow-out, there’s few things to criticize, but I think by trying to replicate our highs, we can win this series. I’m not saying it’ll be easy like some of the “Lakers in 4 or 5″ people, but it’s tough to see us losing if we replicate Thursday’s play.

    Derek Fisher
    Fisher played a pretty good game, at least by the low standards we’re forced to hold him to due to his poor play in the previous series. There were only a couple of “WHY?!” moments, especially when Fish drove into a sea of Magic players in the point, only to force a bad shot/pass on the inside that got stuffed by Dwight. I also felt Fisher’s defense was average, with his on-ball defense being well-below average. Repeatedly we saw Alston and Nelson get either wide-open threes or drives to the basket off a simple screen and roll. However, his help defense on Howard served to disrupt a couple of Howard’s possessions, which is all we really need from Fisher in this series.

    Kobe Bryant
    Game 1 could be the magnum opus of Kobe’s career. His shots were falling, his passes were pin-point, and even his rebounding/defense was at a high level. Can’t really say anything bad, as Kobe took Lee into the post and then shot the mid-range over Pietrus, exactly as the game-plan dictated.

    Trevor Ariza
    I was really impressed with Ariza’s mental fortitude last night. Kobe missed him on a couple of open three opportunities, and Ariza was getting killed by Howard and Gortat’s screens (saw a couple were he basically fell through them instead of running around them). Still, Ariza kept his head up, played exceedingly tough defense on Turkoglu, and closed out really well on shooters. As long as he keeps playing that type of defense, we don’t need him to shoot.

    Pau Gasol
    I felt Pau was getting punked in the post early in the 1st quarter. He was forcing up shots, rushing his hooks, and hesitating on his jumpers. Maybe it was Finals pressure, but he didn’t seem really comfortable until we got him playing in the flow of the triangle and working to pass around Dwight instead of going through him. Pau’s defense, however, was beyond outstanding. Here’s Pau, constantly criticized for being soft, drawing 2 huge offensive fouls on Howard, and continually pushing Howard out of his comfort spots, as well as helping off Howard to challenge drivers. I don’t agree that Pau needs to take more shots, because Pau is such a great passer and is willing to give up a good shot to get a great shot. Much has been made about Pau’s lack of attempts, but he could force up a lot more attempts if he wanted to; he simply chooses to look for a better shot.

    Andrew Bynum
    Loved, absolutely loved his physical play against Howard. Bynum really took Howard out of his rhythm in the 1st quarter with a couple hard fouls and pushing him off the block. None of Andrew’s fouls were bad fouls, contrary to the idiocy being spouted from Mark Jackson’s mouth. All of them came when Dwight was attempting to dunk, or on the terrible call when the two were jostling for position and the refs decided to call the foul on Bynum when it could have gone either way. All we need from Bynum is 20-25 minutes of interior defense, rebounding, and ready hands to receive Pau and Lamar’s excellent interior passes.

    The Bench
    1. Lamar Odom
    Lamar closed out on shooters, especially Lewis, extremely well, forcing Lewis to have a couple fake-dribble-pull-up shots that he isn’t used to taking. I think Odom really took Lewis out of his rhythm, and also forced Lewis to defend him on the other end. A lot has been made about Gasol having to switch between defending Lewis then Howard, but Lewis also has to switch from defending Gasol to defending Odom, which seemed to take a lot out of his legs and picture perfect shooting form.

    2.) Jordan Farmar
    Played fairly solid, missed all of his shots, didn’t make any bad mistakes. I would’ve liked to have seen more Shannon Brown instead of Farmar, but I think Phil went with experience (relative) over athleticism.

    3.) Sasha Vujacic
    He really won’t and shouldn’t be playing too many minutes. His stupid fouls could really cost us, putting the Magic in the penalty and sending the non-Howard Magic players to the line (all of whom are very solid free throw shooters).

    4.) Luke Walton
    I don’t think he could’ve played any better. He absolutely abused Lee in the post, made a bunch of insanely good passes, and played serviceable defense on Turkoglu. Can’t really ask much more of him.

    Overall, if in Game 2 we play anything like we played in Game 1, we should still win. I think Game 2 is probably the turning point of this series. If we win Game 2, I really can’t see Orlando winning 4 out of 5 games against us. If we lose Game 2, it’ll be just as tough for us to win 3 out of 5 when 3 of those games are in Orlando. So long as we come out and take care of business, this trophy is ours.

  130. Very big game, lets hope they dont get relaxed like we have seen in the past. Check this out

    http://kaliphornya.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/no-time-to-relax/