The Practical Fan

Kurt —  June 10, 2009

nuggets@lakers game 2
It’s kind of amazing how different I feel as a fan during these finals.

If the Lakers had lost a game exactly like Game 3 back in December, there would be a post talking about needing to hit free throws, of wanting more diversity in the offense under pressure, of execution. Mostly, we’d talk about lessons learned to apply later.

Now I’m a very practical fan. I don’t care about aesthetics — the Lakers won an ugly game two and that was just fine as it was. I care about the big picture, the fundamentals that underlie the score that carry over to the next game and will decide the series.

And that is the reason I feel pretty good today. Orlando had the best shooting night ever in the Finals — an insane 75% in the first half, still 62.5% for the game. They had the energy of their first home Finals game in 14 years behind them. They had Rafer Alston shooting like he only does at Amway.

And it still came down to one possession at the end. It came down to Kobe Bryant having an off night at free throw line.

We could pick that loss apart for another 48 hours, but why. I don’t feel like this was a blown chance. Ultimately, the Lakers need to win one of three in Orlando, and I feel very confident after Game 3 they will get that game. The practical side of me sees how that can happen. For example, the Lakers did well attacking the post late with Gasol and Odom, we will see more of that. Darius has some thoughts as well.

*Orlando really varied their P&R game. Not only were the screens well set, they were set in different ways. For example, Orlando ran stagger screens for Alston with Lewis and Howard. This gave Alston more space to get into the lane, it gave Howard that extra step he needed to bull his way into the lane, and it gave Lewis more freedom to roam around the three point line as multiple Lakers defenders helped. Howard was also more effective in picking off Ariza and freeing Hedo to get to his spots easier. Earlier I mentioned that the Magic hit many difficult shots, but Hedo is a guy that does make those shots on a more consistent basis. His height and reach allow him to shoot over the top of defenders – even ones with the size of Ariza. All Hedo needs is that extra space and tonight he got it.

*The Magic also involved Lewis more in P&R’s as the screener. This put Pau in awkward help situations and gave Lewis wide open looks. Looks that he’ll make. Orlando also screened for Lewis more off the ball. Pau is a very underrated defender, but one thing he’s going to struggle with is fighting through screens and closing on the perimeter against a player as skilled as Lewis. As a team we have to defend this better and not leave Pau on an island against a player who moves as well as Lewis.

*With our offense, Kobe wasn’t able to establish the post for the second straight game. Lee did a great job of fronting Kobe, pushing him away from the hoop, and discouraging the entry pass. If we really want to take advantage of Kobe on the block (which I think we do), we need to find ways to get him position on the post easier. I suggest bringing him from strong to weak or setting screens for him so he can catch the ball while moving coming across the lane. I also think we need to involve Gasol earlier in the offense and then screen and move better off the ball to create looks for our other guys while also giving Pau more chances to play one on one without the full focus of the defense. He’s proven he can score on any Magic defender that guards him and his decision making will only improve the efficiency of our offense.

*In the fourth quarter, when we went to our P&R we were effective when we spread the floor and Kobe read the defense and passed to the open man. Several times, he either hit Pau with a quick pass to the FT line area or he skipped the ball to the opposite guard. We got good looks out of this set (Pau’s drive that could have been an and-one, LO’s seal on the block and finish over Lewis, Fisher’s three pointer) and I’d like to see more of it next game. The key is the spacing and making the Magic choose between Kobe and others. They’ve shown in the first three games that they’re going to choose Kobe – make them pay more often for this choice.

We said going in this would be the toughest game to win, and it was. But there are two more in Orlando and I just still feel very good about the Lakers and thir chance

Kurt

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123 responses to The Practical Fan

  1. PeanutButterSpread June 10, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Well said Kurt and Darius.

    Still feel Game 4 is a must win for Lakers (and mainly for my heart’s sake).

    I’ll rest a lot easier knowing the Lakers are up 3-1 instead of tied 2-2 going into Game 5.

    I’ll also rest a lot better if the Lakers pound the ball inside to Pau and LO.

  2. 3-1, 2-2 – doesn’t matter to me. I’m confident LA can take it in 5-6games. We took everything & the best ORL had to give & the game still came down to the wire.

    …that & that Kurt turned down the SAC offer. No worries whatsoever here. Cheers to all!

  3. whew! that was close i thought they gonna steal game 3….huh!!!! anyway i believe the lakers will win one game at orlando and home sweet home for lakers fans baby!!!! they will win game 6 or 7…..go lakers beat magic this coming game 4….gogogogo!!!!

  4. I guess I’ll take the glass half-empty position. (It’s unfortunately in my nature.) While tonight’s game certainly wasn’t doomsday, it is worrisome. Orlando shot 30% game 1, 42% game 2, and 63% tonight. This is a trend. To me, that suggests they are figuring our defense out and making good adjustments. Most people seem to be taking the view that Orlando took their best shot tonight and they only won by 4. But we have to accept some responsibility for the Magic’s improved performance. They shot the highest percentage in NBA history! It didn’t happen by luck. It’s disconcerting and nothing to be proud of. And let’s face it, we are one missed lay-up at the buzzer from being down 2-1.

    I’m also worried about Andrew’s no-show. He wasn’t in foul trouble tonight but still contributed marginally. Since the first quarter in Game 1, he hasn’t brought enough to the table. We need more. And other than Lamar and some up-and-down Jordan Farmar, our bench is giving us little (that means you, Sasha).

    I’m as big a Kobe fan as anyone, but 4-15 shooting after the first quarter, 5 missed free throws, and back-breaking turnovers is not superstar performance. Everyone has an off night, but if those poor numbers reflect fatigue that isn’t going away, that too is cause for concern.

    I must admit that I had similar fears after Game 4 of the Denver series, and the Lakers proudly proved me wrong. They repeatedly have shown a resiliency and fortitude that I’m not sure they had last year. They have given us all reason to have faith, but I think the series is far from over, and we have substantial issues to resolve before we can bring the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Los Angeles where it belongs.

  5. I’m a pretty neurotic fan: screaming, cursing when Fish and LO go to double Rafer (when was the time he hit an off-balance three going left with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock?) leaving Lewis right open. And of course “Sweet Lew” hits– a couple of times. But I have to agree, the Magic hit practically every shot yet Kobe had the game in his hands late. (Always a bad sign for the opposition.) In the end, I think this kind of game is a good omen for the Lakers chances of winning 2 of the next 4 games. I’m already planning a day off for the parade and trying to justify a mini-spending spree on Ebay to attend game 6. (Never been to a Laker playoff game. Jus)

  6. I’m a pretty neurotic fan: screaming, cursing when Fish and LO go to double Rafer (when was the time he hit an off-balance three going left with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock?) leaving Lewis right open. And of course “Sweet Lew” hits– a couple of times. But I have to agree, the Magic hit practically every shot yet Kobe had the game in his hands late. (Always a bad sign for the opposition.) In the end, I think this kind of game is a good omen for the Lakers chances of winning 2 of the next 4 games. I’m already planning a day off for the parade and trying to justify a mini-spending spree on Ebay to attend game 6. (Never been to a Laker playoff game. Jus)

  7. Sorry for the incomplete doble-post, computer went a little haywire on me (or maybe I just messed up), in any case my point is I have to recognize losing this game is not the end of the world and may actually help confirm the Lakers superiority over the Magic, despite the loss. So, I will definitely be a practical fan, be satisfied with one out three in Orlando and hope to catch a break on Ebay so I can cheer in person the best team in NBA.

  8. Love the idea of spacing, but I also love the idea that Rashard Lewis simply cannot defend Lamar Odom. It is simply unfathomable that Lamar gets less than 10 shots on a guy that he can take from right to left and next time down low. I would suggest doing it rather early, since it might help the defense if Rashard Lewis picks up those same two fouls in 1:12 in the 4th in 1:12 in the 1st instead [as he'd then need consider whether it's advisable to drive to the lane and possibly give up the charge]. And if he doesn’t take the early fouls, then so much the easier for Lamar early.

    I would also suggest that Pau see the ball more as well.

    The story of the game is simply:

    11-25
    5-13 or 16-38

    9-11
    4-6 or 13-17

    Lastly, re burgundy’s comment on the game thread, yes, Ariza is indeed sucking wind this series. Maybe the Zen Master can explain the 41:31 to 32:23 and the 5-13 to 4-6 as that seems like madness to me. Or you might say, to sum up, next time it might help to recognize where the efficiency is and exploit the same.

  9. Yeah, I am usually upset after a Lakers loss, but I was fine with the loss last night. The Lakers fought hard. Yeah they made some mistakes, but they made a close game out of what felt like it should have been a blow out. The Magic shot an unbelievable 63% and the Lakers still had a chance to win that game.

  10. The Lakers are a Rookie Lay Up away from having been down 2-1 here.

    Last night was well fought, we were simply beat.

    I am worried that Orlando might take all three games at home. They looked awfully good, and for the second game in a row we had no answer to defending Lewis.

    We can take some comfort in Kobe’s poor shooting at the stripe, and in the second half, but as we have all said, a Win is a Win.

    That is true for them as well.

    My only hope is that the confetti will be the extra slap in the face the Lakers need to finally, FINALLY decide to dominate in the paint with their bigs.

    *crosses fingers and buckles his seat belt*

    Go Lakers!

  11. This is one of those games where you can’t really be too upset about the way the Lakers lost. I think our D was decent, and our O was actually good in several cases. The only problem is that if you’re going to beat a team shooting lights out, you need a stellar effort all the way. This time Kobe missed a few FTs, and made a couple of mistakes.

    I’m not putting the loss on him however, rather lifting my hat for the Magic. They can’t possibly keep this kind of shooting up though, and if the Lakers play like they did yesterday, they will come away with at least one W from Orlando. (If they play even better; they will end the series in five.)

  12. Agree with most here, that was a loss I can accept. But I also agree with #1–really hope we win game 4 so we can go 1/3 and not 2/3.

    The key for the Magic last night were their role players. Obviously Alston was unconscious, but Lee and Pietrus all came back with really good shooting performances. I don’t think the team collectively can shoot that well again.

    I thought Andrew had a good first quarter, getting rebounds. Now if he can stretch that out…

  13. I threw out my pre-game wishlist since not many of them were granted anyway.

    The way I see it, Kobe didn’t create as many open looks for his team mates as he did in game2, and even less than in game 1, probably because he shot so well in the first quarter it got in his head and he started taking way too many shots, get frustrated when they didn’t fall, and that affected his free throw shooting. The guy is human after all. And despite what the “experts” are saying today, he alone did not cause us to lose this game.

    Pau Gasol was more or less neutered in the paint, with only 3 rebounds for the game. Trevor Ariza shot 5 or 13, 2 of 7 from 3-point range, and Andrew Bynum had 4 points and as many rebounds in an ineffective 23 minutes. Our bench mob was pretty ineffective as well.

    Despite all the above, and shooting for a combined 63% (73% during a large part of the game!), the Magic still barely squeaked out a win.

    Before this series, I said “Lakers in 6″ And guess what, that means at least two losses. I’ll take this one, as losses go not the worst I have ever seen. In fact, I think it might be the kind of loss that comes back to haunt the winner.

    This was supposed to be the hardest game to win in Orlando, where they were the most motivated and played at their best. This was supposed to be a blow-out according to some “experts”, or at least an easy win for the Magic. And as I said in the last thread, if I’m a Magic fan, I’m nervous about the next two games, because they shot the lights out and played the best they have yet in the play-offs last night, and it still almost went into over-time. And the Lakers can play better than they did last night. I predict at least one win in Orlando, then back to Staples to claim the rings. Lakers in 6!

  14. I, too, felt an odd peace with this loss. I thought the Lakers handled the Magic’s onslaught quite well. They only got rushed and out of sorts on a few possessions. Otherwise, they played calmly and with poise. A great indicator of future wins as we go forward.

  15. Yep, totally confident here as well. Not riding the win-loss emotional rollercoaster.

    Phil was downright chipper in the press conference.

    I was thinking today about how 5-10 is unusual for Kobe, at least from our perspective, but it’s probably totally normal statistically and is probably indicative of… nothing.

  16. dave in hillsboro June 10, 2009 at 7:27 am

    One thing I noticed in both game 2 and 3 is Ariza taking a pull up jumper off the dribble. In game 2, he missed a couple of those, while in game 3 he made at least one. It just strikes me as out of character for both him and the team to have Ariza shooting that shot. It’s the type of action we’re used to seeing from Kobe, but he’s a way better midrange shooter. Is that really our best offensive option when Pau is so incredibly efficient? I don’t think so.

    That said, Ariza has been heroic at times on defense, so I’m not as upset as I would have been, with, say, Radmanovich.

  17. By the way, love to get everyone’s thoughts on Westphal in Sacramento. Seems an odd choice to me, but I really don’t have a deep opinion one way or the other yet. Other than I’m happy to keep Rambis.

  18. I think it was Kurt that mentioned during the Denver series (it may have been one of the K-brothers at the LA Times blog though) that when you pick your team to win in six, you have to remember that that will include 2 losses. I picked the Lakers in 6, here was loss number 1.

    I wasn’t thrilled with the game, I thought the Lakers let a golden opportunity to take the wind out of Orlando’s sails pass them by, but we’re still up 2-1, and I am very confident that we’ll take one game in Orlando.

    I’d really appreciate it though if the Lakers could make that game be game 4. It will be easier to live with the Magic winning a second game if they still have to win 2 out of 3 while the Lakers have to only win 1 out of 3 down the stretch.

    We’re going to have to find a way to help Gasol on the P&R that Orlando is using to open up Lewis. Part of me wants to see LO move to the starting position at the 3, but considering he’s been playing in foul trouble with the minutes he’s already playing, I can’t really endorse that part of me at all.

    In the end, I can’t be TOO upset about losing a game in which our opponent shot 62.5% and we were essentially a turnover away from probably taking the game to overtime (although, Pau, man, buddy, call a timeout there).

  19. It was apparent that the Lakers made a conscious effort not to take too many 3s in game 1 and stuck to it. I wish they would show the same discipline in pounding the ball into Pau and Lamar.

    I feel after all these years, Kobe and co. still have not found just the proper, judicious application of Kobeball. I notice that when Kobe gets hot, he starts to go farther and farther away from the basket, hitting ever more impossible shots. Inevitably, he starts missing. But when Kobe (or any player for that matter) gets hot and misses a couple, he doesn’t want to think he’s cooled off; he thinks it’s a blip so he keeps shooting. By the time he misses 4 or 5, the other team gets a little run. If the quarter ends and Kobe sits, he cools off some more but when he gets back in he still tries to resume Kobeball to heat-check himself. Meanwhile, the offense is off rhythm with the other players having been spectators last 8, 10 minutes.

    I like to see Kobe be more discipline and impose a rule on himself: as soon as he misses two in a row, immediately change up. Drive in, try to get a foul or dish off. The other guys need to help him out — keep moving and getting into open positions for shots, don’t just stand around and spectate. Over all, recognize that Kobeball is like afterburner: it needs to be used sparingly and in the right spot. I think Kobe HAS slowed down physically and he really can’t do the 50, 60 pts offensive explosion against good competition. (I wonder if he’s not breaking down his body with his inhuman fitness regimen; if he is, is there someone monitoring him and tell him to ease up?)

    About this last game, I guess I’m as not-upset as I’m going to be with a Laker loss in the finals. I mean, we could be down 1-2 right now, and I can’t expect Karma to be so bitchy towards the Magic as to screw them over twice in a row :) We played hard and pretty well and stayed close in a game that would’ve been a massacre against lesser teams.

  20. I think the “Kobe won’t pass” angle is very overplayed, but Kobe commits too many turnovers trying to split the defense on the S&R, and it’s about not being forced to give up the ball. I don’t understand why we don’t put Pau in the post in the the 4th. They’ve shown they can’t really guard him, he can make the free throws, and if you put Kobe on the wing it’s pretty hard to double him.

  21. could the fact that kurt rambis turned down the kings job indicate that this will be the last couple of games with the zen master on the bench?
    how possible is it that phil jackson calles it a career after his 10th ring?

    i just can not imagine a season without him on the lakers bench. the way jax handles the whole team and everything around it is so unique and calm, you have to love it.
    i really hope that he stays, no matter how the series will end.

  22. Kurt,
    I’ve never been that impressed with Westphal. It’s an uninspired hire to me. I know he’s got loads of experience and has been around the game for a long time and is considered an offensive coach that can (hopefully) take advantage of the offensive talent that the Kings have, but he’s a retread and a guy that’s never really achieved anything substantial. That Kings job isn’t a great one though, so maybe he was the best they could get.

  23. Considering the Magic shooting, Kobe’s below average second half, and all the missed free throws I’m not sure how the Magic didn’t win that game by 15+ points. Well, actually I do: Kobe’s amazing first half kept us in that game early when we all knew Orlando would come out with a headfull of steam (as they did). Most nights Orlando would have been up double digits after the 1st, where their momentum could have led to the blowout alot of people were expecting.

    Unfortunately, Kobe couldn’t keep it going, and because he had been so hot early I don’t think any of the other Lakers were really able to get themselves established in the offense.

    Like pretty much everyone else here this is one of the least disappointing playoff losses I can remember. Most here think that the closeness of the game, considering the Magic shooting, is a good harbinger going forward, and that’s basically my feeling as well.

    However, I’m going to have to disagree with our esteemed host Kurt and say that this was in fact a missed opportunity. When you have a chance to win a playoff game late (esp on the road where you have only limited opportunities) there is a part of me that is concerned. It’s not rare in a playoff series against great teams (like Orlando) to have games where you don’t have a chance, or not as good a chance as last night, and I hate missing limited opportunities. Although Orlando won’t shoot as well again, they’re still capable of shooting over 50% (particularly at home) and that can often translate into games where you don’t have as good a chance to win at the end as we did last night.

    Anyway, going forward, we need to get Gasol and Odom more consistently involved early, which means a little more of the facilitator Kobe. Also, we’re at our most successful when we can post up players (in this series, Kobe, Gasol, Odom) so that our other roll players get less contested shots. We did a poor job of getting anyone involved in the paint last night. I’d probably also be inclined to let Howard score more in order to stick with their outside shooters better.

    As for Westphal, it is an odd choice. I can only imagine that Sacto is trying to harness some D’Antoni ‘magic’ with an uptempo style. Maybe the Kings fans will be so enthralled with the style of play they won’t notice the losses piling up! (there’s nothing worse from a fan’s perspective than losing boring games)

  24. they’re reportedly saying rambis wanted to wait till after the finals before he talked to them seriously.. could that be telling about jax’s logic..? if u win the 10th u retire in style. if not u have another go at it w/a gr8 roster..

  25. You have to give credit to orlando for putting a body on kobe more often and subsequently wearing him down. You glance down the stats for the lakers, and everyone played pretty well, with 5 guys putting up 10 + points and fish at 9. It’s hard to be upset. I just wish the lakers played a little better defense. I think it’s been quite good, considering how little space lewis and hedo need to drain threes and howard has been pretty quiet. offense will never been an issue for the lakers. if we can continue to press on the defensive end, we’ll start to see the desperation surface as it does in every series. of course, a little more bynum in the paint would spread the floor too – 4 points is not gonna cut it.

  26. I was amazed the Lakers were still in it and threatening in the 4th. Odom came up huge in that quarter, as did Pau. And Kobe didn’t – it happens, but I do worry he is fatigued and it is affecting his mental sharpness, even more than the muscle memory. This is not the time to be missing FTs in the 4th quarter (just that one – such a difference it could have made). And getting stripped… however, I was most disappointed by his rushed 3 attempt at around 2:00 that killed a Lakers rally in which they surgically tied the game with great offense and defense.

    Here’s the thing: people said after Game 2 that Lewis and Turk won’t shoot that well again, and the whole team went lights out. It’s pretty impossible they do that again, but they could easily shoot 50% – that’s their game. I’m confident the Lakers can beat the Magic but they need to be sharper. Kobe needs to pace himself.

  27. I have never seen a more critical 8 assist game in my life, including a couple of passes where the receiver got fouled and made free throws. Kobe shot 25 times and made 11, hardly too much. I just don’t see how anyone can say he wasn’t getting everyone involved.
    On another note, the 62.5% shooting for the Magic doesn’t bother me that much. If you look at the numbers, they only scored 108 points, with 23 of them off of free-throws. For team that shot that well (record for a finals game), you’d expect the score to be a lot higher. They had 36 points in the paint, which is good, but not great, especialy with a guy like Howard on your team. If you take into consideration all of the difficult shots they made, off-balanced runners, fades, and floaters, they didn’t exactly dominate the game offensivly.
    I felt like we cleaned up the boards much better in game 3, but like Phil said, when they’re hitting all their shots, there are no rebounds to be had. One thing we can do better, and that we did do better in the first 2 games, is not letting Howard get good positioning down low. I felt too many times he was able to catch the ball too low for our defenders to guard without fouling. And we have to start assuming that he is going to shoot 65-70% from the line. After 3 games of making his ft, I don’t think he will regress.

  28. Brutal defense last night. Where were the bigs? Orlando got anything they wanted.

    And you mention Lee pushing Kobe off the block but Kobe didn’t try hard enough to establish that position, instead preferring to chuck away from deep most of the time. C’mon, you really think Lee has the strength to keep Kobe off the block if he wants to be there?

  29. I wished the Lakers didn’t run the P&R when Kobe had that costly turnover. Given that Kobe was bring the ball up the court, I would’ve liked for him to go one-on-one with Pietrus given that he would’ve had a full head of steam. I think there would have been space for him to pull up for a midrange jumper. ‘Ol well.

  30. 27,
    This is what I’m saying, Orlando didn’t get anything they wanted. It wasn’t like they were running a layup drill last night, like we saw at times during the Rockets series. I also didn’t see too many defensive lapses, that we have seen in the past. The Lakers defenders were forcing their men into tough shots all night, Orlando just made a lot of them.

  31. Folks, Kurt’s on it again. I wouldn’t feel too bad about this one. If you do, at least reserve judgment on game 3 until after game 4 or 5. I don’t know if it was apparent on tv, but the Magic fed Tremendously off the fans in the building, it was almost palpable. Fantastic fan base by the way. 62% felt like 75, 80% last night. Everyone was hitting, Battie, Pietrus, and Alston in particular hurt us. We continually fouled which led to their FT offense down the stretch (particularly Howard). They hit more FT than they should have and they get credit for that. With their style of play, they can’t do any better than that and they BARELY won. They should have been up double digits at several points in the 3rd & 4th qtrs. The team and the fans got tight last night down the stretch. We made a couple mistakes and they survived. I’m feeling really good about game 4.

    Next game, play our defense, don’t allow all the drives & layups (keep guards out the lane), limit the fouling, don’t wait until the 3rd/4th qtr to go inside and we’re fine. If they set another Finals record for FG percentage, we can just shake their hand and move on. Listen to Kurt.

  32. More than anything else, I just want to say: That was amazing basketball last night, the game played at its highest level by two teams who showed why they deserved to be in the Finals. Wow.

    Nitpicks: Kobe as the “closer” I think went 0-4 at the end of each quarter (0-3 with a turnover in the 4th). Yikes. I would have liked to see us continue to go to Odom and Gasol in the final two minutes, given how well it worked the prior 10 minutes.

    Westphal…. hello left field! For the 05/06 season, Seattle left Nate McMillan and went with Bob Weiss. Then Bob Hill. Then PJ Carlisimo. 3 years, 3 coaches, then the team left the city. So….. 3 more years of pro ball in Sacramento before they move, is what I think of this signing.

  33. If Kobe didn’t go nova in the first quarter it would have been a blowout – but that explosion really tired him out and cost us down the stretch. Not the first time that’s happened, we saw that same thing against Boston last year. huge first quarter and then in the tank.

  34. kneejerk,
    It’s not as easy to establish the post on good, active, and quick defenders like Lee and Pietrus. Kobe was working, but so was Lee. In fact, Lee was working so hard that Kobe ended up throwing that sneaky elbow that got him whistled for an offensive foul. My point is that we’re trying to post Kobe and they’re fronting with Lee/Pietrus and then backing that up with help from the weakside. When Kobe does work to get around the front (not an easy task) he ends up catching the ball at 18ft out which isn’t even the post anymore. So, I think that if we want to beat this type of defense agaisnt Kobe posting, we must do more than just send Kobe to the block and hope he gets a good pass or can seal Lee. We need to bring him from the weak to the strong side; we need to screen on Lee and get Kobe moving across the lane and catching on the move. Essentially we have to make it easier. Understand that the harder that Kobe has to work to make a post catch is just energy used up that he doesn’t have in later portions of the game. Over the course of the three games Kobe’s looks have gotten more and more difficult. This is purely by the design and force of Orlando’s D. We are still in control here, but we need to get Kobe back to scoring more efficiently.

  35. If you didn’t see it, before last night’s game, Phil Jackson said that indeed Pau Gasol did goaltend on the last play of Game 2. I thought that an odd admission, but Ramona Shelborn in the Daily News (who I’m liking more and more) made a great point.

    Why in the world would he acknowledge such a thing?

    Why wouldn’t he?

    The more the Magic feel victimized, the more they focus on the officials, on calls made or not made and the less energy they spend on the games.

    It sounds so cliched, but there’s a reason players and coaches always say, “Referees make calls, players have to live with them.”

    The more a player focuses on the referees, the worse he generally plays.

    The more a city focuses on the referees, the more they feel like victims instead of winners.

    http://www.dailynews.com/sports/ci_12558029

  36. FANTASTIC POST Kurt & Darius.

    I initially was out of my mind upset, but after a jog, I came to the same conclusion you did:

    1) The Lakers weren’t going to sweep

    2) They essentially took Orlando’s best shot, and barely lost.

    3) Kobe missed 5 ft’s, and they barely lost.

    I also had this thought:

    Trevor Ariza has been absolutely ICE COLD on offense (and not in the good way). He was shooting 50% for the playoffs from 3 point land, and now he can’t seem to connect. I think the law of averages will catch up, and he’ll have a hot shooting game, which will push the Lakers over the top.

    Oh, and this thought, too:

    As spectacular as Kobe’s first quarter was, it completely took the Lakers out of their rhythm on offense. Suddenly, Farmar, Fish, and Ariza decided Kobe 1st Q performance gave them license to jack up jumpers.

    It wasn’t until the 4th Q, that the Lakers finally got back to their Game Plan and had success – I think we see a much more controlled game in Game 4…

  37. Does anyone see why Kobe can be rooted out of the post or the defenders will have their hands around him (but not touching him) and if anyone does that to howard, its a foul?

    Maybe phil should give that one a whirl in the media.

  38. 35 – On top of that, it crossed my mind that Phil could be working the refs in case a similar call were to happen the other way.

  39. By all means, the Lakers are still in the driver’s seat in this series, and they should feel good about keeping game 3 close despite the Magic shooting lights out. The only concern I’m having is that this is the second game in a row where Kobe hasn’t finished the game well. In the final minutes I see him pressing, thinking too much, and honestly I think it stems from trying to live up to “The Best Closer on the Planet” hype machine that the media has developed for him. He needs to stop thinking about that and make the game simple. Just make plays. When he’s forcing too much it’s only ended in turnovers and poor shooting decisions. Just make the right plays and everything will take care of itself.

  40. dave in hillsboro June 10, 2009 at 9:53 am

    RE: Rambis and Sacramento,

    One other thing that was mentioned in the NBA.com article announcing that the Kings hired Westphal was this little nugget:

    “Rambis was holding out for a higher salary than the $1.5 million in the first year of the deal, which will make Westphal the lowest-paid head coach in the league.”

    Combine that with the Kings wanting him to make a decision in the middle of the Finals with so much uncertainty about Phil’s future, and it’s no wonder Rambis passed. He seems to be the most likely successor when Phil retires. Why would he pass up a potentially great opportunity at the franchise he’s called home for years to risk something potentially disastrous with a Kings franchise that will pay him less and that has had more than its share of trouble in recent years (coaching changes, dismal records, Arena issues, talk of moving the team to another city, etc.).

    On the other hand, it also could have been that the Kings just wanted Westphal more in the end. Who knows.

  41. Huh.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/features/kareem

    “Secrets of the Skyhook.”

    Boy, that sounds awfully familiar (http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2008/12/01/the-skyhook/). Methinks J.A.’s getting lazy over at the WWL.

  42. I was quite amazed last night, watching the Magic shoot lights out, and yet the Lakers had the chance to win. They didn’t mail it in, but fought hard. All the typical series intangibles were working for the Magic, and they just escaped.

    On Paul Westphal, I know a little from his time in Seattle, but he was following the successful Karl years, dealing with a hard-headed Gary Payton (rookie killer) and a drunken Vin Baker. Not a great situation. Defense was pretty bad, he focused on offense. Never a bad word about the players. Definitely not a “master of panic.”

  43. I agree with SCinAZ. I am certainly not crushed by this loss but would say very disappointed. It was a wasted opportunity. We can’t be satisfied with any loss. Especially because we played well and didn’t win because of execution at the end. It is unlikely we play 3 really good games in Orlando consecutively so we needed to capitalize on that. Can you imagine if we had taken game 3 with Orlando shooting lights out – psychologically they would have been toast. We let the game slip away from us. I will be a nervous wreck if we lose game 4 – because honestly I think orlando can win 3 in a row. It is up to the lakers not to let them – but it is clear orlando makes way more 3′s, and shoots a much higher percentage at home. And their fans are 10X as loud as ours.

  44. This game had the feel of a true Finals game. There was so much intensity from both teams throughout, a feeling that I did not always have last year against Boston. Howard got off for once with a line I thought he would be having all series (21 & 14) and we will need to be tougher inside to slow him down. Hopefully Pau will get more touches to make Howard work on defense.

  45. While I agree that the Lakers are still in control, how can you dismiss an Orlando team that was literally inches away from being up 2-1? While Orlando did shoot a record 62%, let’s not forget that the Lakers also had a very good shooting night as well. Other than game 1, where the Magic were obviously “just happy to be there” all the games have been closely contested.

    Fisher is still a liability. Sasha is MIA. Bynum is still up and down. Kobe looks like he is battling fatigue. While the sky isn’t falling, there are some signs of concern for Lakers fans.

    On a side note, statistically, Kobe was due to miss some free throws so he shouldn’t take too much flak for his misses in game 3.

  46. Kurt and Darius – great post. This is exactly why I visit this site so much. Was I disappointed in the loss? Sure. Was I disappointed in our effort? Not one bit. Sometimes you simply have to credit the other team for making a few more plays or hitting a few more shots and that is exactly what happened. Who wants to bet that Kobe has a 3rd straight bad fourth quarter? Not me. I think game 4 will be similar to games 2 & 3 – only this time Kobe leads us to the W.

  47. Orlando needed to shoot an absolutely ridiculous percentage (accented by guys like Alston, Battie, and Pietrus hitting their shots) and Kobe needed to clank five free throws for them to win by four. I expected their role players to have much better performances at home, but it isn’t something they can consistently rely on throughout the series.

  48. Ziller has a great piece on the Rambis negotiations over at Sactown Royalty and makes a good point — Geoff Petrie is a non-confrontational guy. He would not likely demand a yes/no answer from Rambis right now. But if he sensed Rambis was hesitating trying to get enough money to make it worthwhile he might just go another direction.

    Right now, is that a franchise you want to be involved with. I hear good rumors that they will be in Anaheim within a couple years as a stopping off point to a new destination. They won’t pay coaches. There is some talent on the court but…

  49. what do you guys think of Rambis as a coach? I loved him as a player of course but don’t have a good impression of him as a coach. But then, I don’t really know much of what he does on the coaching staff. I’ve heard more from/about Jim Clemmons.

  50. I can simply see no reason that Sasha is playing (at all) and Brown is sitting.

    I did like the “Who is the Greatest Laker?” question over on ESPN.

    The Lakers have had an embarrassment of riches.

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, Connie Hawkins, Magic Johnson, Clyde Lovellette, Slater Martin, Bob McAdoo, George Mikan, Vern Mikkelsen, Jim Pollard, James Worthy and Jerry West.

    Yikes!

    In my mind, the greatest Laker is, and probably always will be, Kareem. But, I can certainly respect arguments for Magic, or West, or Kobe, or even Mikan!

    As has been said, enjoy this!

    Go Lakers!

  51. dave in hillsboro June 10, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Kurt,

    Interesting. To my eyes, there’s not a whole lot of daylight between Stein’s version and Amick’s version. Amick is slightly more nuanced, but the basic points remain.

    As for this:

    “The process was marred with an immense amount of acrimony. Sources say the Kings were turned off by one rival representative’s relentless and nasty attacks on Westphal’s candidacy. As for Westphal, he was livid over what he considered unfair and unfounded attacks and nearly pulled out of the process over the weekend.”

    I’m almost afraid to ask. Here’s to hoping it was Thibodeau’s people, if it is indeed true.

  52. The reason I was upset about the loss was not because of actually losing (I was pretty sure that they would prior to the game because of ORL’s home court rejuvination, guys that falter on the road but play well at home like Rafer, etc), but because it was so close. The Lakers made a valiant effort & can in no way be accused of taking the game off, especially since the Magic would not have won if everyone didn’t shoot the lights out. Like many have said, the Magic can’t feel good about having a historic shooting performnace and only winning by 4.

    The first must win game in this series to me was game 2. The pressure must remain on the Magic, so the next must win is game 4. They should be the ones with their backs against the wall, not us. ORl is resilient, but there’s no way they could come back to LA down 3-2 and take both at Staples. I to my former grad school stats professor and he said it is statistically impossible. =)

    RE: Sac & the new coach. If you’re going to pick a Paul, better Westphal than Sunderland.

  53. From the LA Times today:

    Our headline was: “Controversies arise over goaltending non-calls.”

    In the Sentinel, it was “Fans upset that goaltending gets free pass in Game 2.”

    Of course, if we bothered to put our T.J. Simers on it, the headline would have been, “Look what these yokels are sniveling about now.”

    Given what we were saying about Simers a while back, it struck me as funny and made me smile. I’m just not that upset about this loss today.

  54. Not that this matters, but if you had .3 seconds left on the clock, couldn’t you hit the ball with your fist from outside the three point line?

  55. @don w… You can’t hit the ball with a closed fist.

  56. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel as awful about this loss. Like Jeff Van Gundy said yesterday, the Lakers didn’t so much “lose” this game as much as the Magic “won” it. Lessons learned for a lot of guys. I know a lot of us said, Lakers in 6, but it never makes those losses feel any better. Thanks for the great, non-overreacting post. It’s a welcome relief today.

  57. Don W. You would have to tip it with an open hand. It would be the longest tip in ever.

  58. I thought this was a forum where people understood basketball. I simply cannot understand all this negativity against our best player. In my opinion Kobe played a great game. He did not take any bad shots. He bailed out the offense in the first half when nothing was going right. He was taking shots in the second half mostly on broken plays where he had to get a shot off in the last 4-5 seconds. Obviously, he would have a bad shooting percentage on those. I think shooting those tough shots also probably took him off his rhythm. He was actually making those tough ones in the first half. (Can you guys let me know if somewhere I can find data which shows when in the shot clock Kobe is taking shots. Maybe, it could be made into a interesting post for all those who hate on him for low FG%.)

    Yes, he did cause a turnover in the 4th quarter at a crucial moment in the game. And he did miss some free throws which he usually does not miss. But, do we kill him for it. I can understand the national media criticizing Kobe for taking too many shots. That’s their standard refrain whenever the Lakers lose. But in an educated forum like this? People who understand the finer aspects of the game?

    Also, to add, whether a shot goes in or not completely in the hands of the player. However, what is in their hands is the decisions they make on each play on offense and on defense. And for the most part, Kobe made decisions which were right for the team yesterday.

  59. #59,
    Criticism is not the same as negativity. We’re allowed to criticize our hero when he doesn’t live up to legendary standards. Remember, we’re all with friends here. This is where we vent, this is the “internal forum” where we say and gripe things that we would never say to an outsider, say, a Suns or Celtics fan.

    This is where we vent the frustration we don’t feel comfortable expressing to people who’d rub it on our face and tell us that last night proves Kobe is too selfish of a ball hog to deserve a championship.

    Cut us some slack. Criticism leads to improvement. Kobe did not play well, and to assume that everyone who states that fact openly is a Kobe-hater is a problem on your end, not on ours.

  60. Allan – Brazil June 10, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I fell pretty confident right now.
    For all the reasons that Kurt stated (the exactly thing I thought yesterday) plus ONE BIG REASON:

    He’s hot having another baby this year.

    So that’s a Championship Guarantee right there.

  61. I thought this was a forum where people understood basketball. I simply cannot understand all this negativity against our best player.
    pw, a little criticism isn’t some kind of drumbeat of negativity. Relax, take a deep breath, weather’s nice out, Lakers only lost by 4. And there are quite a number of fine, knowledgeable commenters here, the signal-to-noise ratio is unusually high.

  62. Pw,
    Couldn’t agree more. If u wana say that Kobe didn’t finish the last couple of minutes like we so unfairly expect of him, that’s one thing. But, to say anything less then he had a very good overall game is just rediculous.

  63. 61. Allan, I keep meaning to mention that in a post.

  64. I’m not too upset with last night’s game from the Lakers. Sure, it would have been good to have a better defensive effort and prevent the opponent from setting a FG% record against us. But we matched them point for point until the last 2 minutes of the game, and that’s all I can really ask for in a road playoff game: a chance to win with the supposed “best closer” in the game.

    I’m sure if we lose Game 4, the pressure will increase incredibly for Game 5. I hope to avoid that situation by any means necessary.

  65. I don’t know how this game can be anything but a confidence builder for the Lakers. No one played great (other than Kobe’s first quarter). The grades over at SI were bascially C’s across the board (I thought it was a little harsh, but the point being, nobody brought their A game).

    I also don’t know how it can do anything but plant a seed of doubt in the minds of the Magic. They seriously couldn’t play any better. (At SI it was A’s across the board and it’s hard to argue with that.) They should have won by 20.

    Strange as it may sound, I think game 2 was a more of a confidence builder for Orlando than game 3.

    The series isn’t over at all, but I’ve got to think there is some doubt in the minds of some Orlando players. Is it Thursday yet?

  66. The Westphal hiring won’tdo anything for the Kings’ chances. That team is like the NBA’s version of Oakland Raiders right now – a revolving door of coaches with no clear direction from the front office or ownership.

    I never liked the Kings, but as a Raider fan I have empathy. There’s nothing worse than when your team’s own worst enemy is its management.

    If the Lakers can win two more, it wouldn’t be surprising if Phil rode off into the sunset. His legs aren’t getting any younger and NBA life is a grind, even for the young. What more would he have to prove by staying?

    Whenever he leaves, it’ll be interesting to see what the Buss family & Mitch decide in terms of a replacement. Rambis flamed out in his 1999 head coaching tenure, though it’s fair to assume he’s learned much since then. Shaw seems like a very viable candidate. Someone mentioned Cleamons earlier, though given his poor run as Dallas’ head guy in the 1990s I doubt he’d get a shot. He seems to have become a secondary figure in L.A.

  67. Maybe next game we can try Kobe on Alston?

  68. Jimmy Smith, I had a sneaking suspicion you’d be here. I feel you haven’t been here since we reeled off 4 in a row, but lo and behold, here you are after a loss.

  69. isolate, would hitting the ball w/ a closed fist be a turnover?

  70. lol 67, kwame: +1

    Don W – Yes, as far as I’m aware, a closed fist is a TO, unlike a kicked ball. Going off of memory and not a rulebook, though, so I could be wrong

  71. Im picking the Lakers to win game 4, but its gonna be really close.

  72. Don w… I don’t know the exact rule… but I seem to remember that happening in these playoffs, on a rebound somebody punched the ball away from the other rebounders and the ball was given to the other team

  73. @37 Darksider – Had the same thought, I’ve never seen a player of Kobe’s size be allowed to be pushed, shoved, and grabbed so much in the post. Think Raja Bell here, the officials allow a lot of physicality when it comes to denying Kobe position on the block, so that Kobe has to counter, and gets called for offensive fouls!

  74. I apologize if I came off as condescending in my post. Most of the posters here are very knowledgeable and do have very insightful comments. But today, I saw several of the type “Kobe took too many shots” which is sort of irritating. Because, Kobe did not. If after Game 1, you had said the same thing, a game in which we blew ORL out and Kobe was widely praised for his play, I would have agreed. Even in game 2, he had some bad shots. But, in Game 3, his decision making was spot on, he hardly took any shots outside of the offense. Yes, he did not play up to his standards, but to blame for taking too many shots on this occasion is simply not correct.

  75. pw – I respectfully disagree with the last point. I don’t like criticizing Kobe when he saves our butts that many times, but I think it’s a bit inaccurate to say his shot selection was spot on. I counted quite a few possessions where the attention he drew left an open 3-point shooter, and while Kobe did find Ariza and Fish a couple times, there were also more opportunities that he missed them. To say the least, it was not Game 6 in Denver.

    I don’t think he played a bad game at all and I definitely don’t blame him, but is taking a contested standstill 3 really the best option? Of course Kobe makes these shots because he’s Kobe – but can we honestly say that Kobe holding the ball for 6 seconds, standing still, and then forcing up a 3 (regardless of result) is the best possible shot? IMO, there are better shots that could have been taken. Plus, shots like that (which halt ball movement) are indeed not truly part of the triangle.

  76. What happened to the pick and roll with the lob to Bynum at the hoop? Probably a sure sign that young Andrew doesn’t have his spring back. Still, running it a couple of times, (or even Andrew just moving to the hoop) might keep Howard honest, instead of allowing him so much defensive freedom.

  77. I did not watch the first half last night, but Yahoo mentions in one of their stories that Kobe was chewing off Bynum before he was pulled. Anyone know why?

  78. In game number one the Lakers absolutely murdered the Magic with the Kobe-Gasol pick and roll.

    During game 2 the Magic did what most championship caliber teams do, they made adjustments. Instead of laying back (and allowing kobe to kill them from midrange) Howard aggressively double-teamed Bryant. In game 2 this adjustment clearly made the Kobe-Gasol P&R less effective.

    During game 3 the Kobe-Gasol pick and roll became the equivalent of a death trap. This approach is now bringing the Magic’s best and most athletic defenders (Pietris and Howard) together and in close proximity to Kobe during the worst times in the game. No wonder he is turning the ball over so much. This is no longer our go-to play. It is time to adjust.

    I recall a post by Kurt that suggested a Kobe-Fisher P&R. I think that this is the adjustment that we need. Fisher is strong enough to set an effective pick. His man (a guard) is half the size of Howard. Fisher has a talent for picking up foul when envolved in screen related situations. And of course (as previously pointed out) if they swicth, Kobe can easily shoot over Fisher’s man.

    This is the same thing that the Celtics did to free up Pierce against the Bulls earlier in the playoffs.

  79. On Westphal. He is an okay pick for a coach I guess… he did a decent job in Phoenix, but he hasn’t been pro-coaching much since then.

    He also had one of my all-time favorite coach press conferences in 1993 during the Suns-Lakers series, when the Lakers almost upset them by winning the first 2 games in Phoenix. Every coach in the world knows what to say in that press conference: “The series isn’t over yet. We’re just going to take it one game at a time. Etc.”

    Instead, he said, “We’re going to go to LA and win Game 3. Then we’re going to win Game 4. Then we’ll come home and win Game 5. Then everyone will say what a great series it was.” And I’ll be damned if they didn’t do just that.

    Having said that, the Kings are certainly not one coaching move from contending, no matter how much in the tank Westphal has.

  80. Hollinger has a new piece on ESPN Insider that’s worth a read.

    Basically he points out that the Lakers’ offense is running as efficiently against the Magic as it did all season, and that’s not a good sign for the top defensive team during the regular season and playoffs.

    He also points out that Gasol is shooting an absurd 62% and only getting about 12-13 shots a game (I don’t have data on how many touches he’s getting, but I’d venture a guess that it’s not enough).

    One thing that I keep thinking about is the fact that Gasol actually seems to struggle a lot more early in the game against Lewis than he does against Howard later in the game. I think we need to do more to establish Gasol early in the first, and Odom as soon as he’s on the floor. The last two games have pretty much convinced me that Lewis cannot guard Odom. I don’t know if he’s wearing out at the ends of games or if it’s just taking that long for LO to get aggressive like that, but I think we’re missing a great opportunity to create more space for Kobe’s mid-range game by getting those two established at the basket by posting one in the high-to-mid post and one in the low post.

    I’ll confess I’m nowhere near the heights of several of the people on this forum, so I can’t work out how to use that set to create open looks for Kobe other than to say that if we start killing them that way, Howard and Lewis won’t be able to cheat off of their men to collapse on Kobe when he’s got the ball.

  81. Lakers in 6 is my prediction! Bring it home to LA, close to home so that the party can start immediately after the game. It’s so much nicer to wake up with a hangover in your own bed than in a hotel! :)

    Get your t-shirts now befor the Parade!!!!
    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=26286565

  82. David Friedman is one of my favorite writers out there, and not afraid to go toe to toe with other renowned names such as Krolik and Kevin Pelton:

    http://20secondtimeout.blogspot.com/

    Really great read for anyone who has time.

  83. RE: A possible successor for PJ

    I know Kobe likes Kurt, but can he/will he respect him as a head coach? That will play into the decision as much as anything.

  84. Kobe didn’t respect Rambis in the Portland game that PJ sat out – Kobe shot about 4 awful shots in a row to close out the loss.

  85. Snoopy, I think Friedman is dead wrong about the Lakers defense. While the Lakers were not consistent with it all season, they were good overall. You don’t win 65 games if your defense sucks. They finished sixth in defensive effeciency. But previously Friedman dismissed the concept of breaking down statistics by possession entirely. I think he’s stuck in an old-school mindset that even NBA teams have moved on from.

  86. 69, its been hectic at work. I am still pretty busy today. I was going to compliment the Lakers on their game 1 victory as they looked impressive in that game but I couldn’t find the time. I actually think the Lakers will win the series. It seems as if the stars are aligned for the Lakers this year.

  87. iniwit – 77:

    I think there has been plenty of evidence that Bynum is lacking a lot of his spring. In each game in this series he has left at least one shot at the lip of the rim instead of dunking when bothered by Howard lurking nearby. I know that Howard can be an intimidating body, but Bynum just doesn’t seem to be elevating the same anymore. That either has to be his knee not being right yet or his mind not being right yet (i.e. being afraid of the mid-air contact).

    Whichever the reason, he’s not getting “up” with his shots/dunks in this series.

  88. rumdood,

    Agreed.

    I’m just trying to figure a way to get Bynum some action at the rim to make Howard a little more honest on D and thereby open up things for others. That’s a dimension of the offense that would be really helpful now. Andrew doesn’t have to approach the form he had before the injury, just stretch the defense out abit.

  89. Rumwood- I like your idea about getting Gasol off early against Lewis. Like I mentioned in the preview for the series, Gasol must make Lewis exert some energy on defense. This can get Lewis into foul trouble and also tire him out so his shot isn’t so effective late in the game. Getting Lewis off the floor would be great for the Lakers because they need him to create the spacing they used to get such quality looks in Game 3.

  90. was the lakers defense that bad or was the magic offense that fortunate? Aside from the points in the paint that they got, it looked to me as if the magic were hitting a lot of very difficult off balanced shots defended fairly well. Does anyone else think so? There were some shots that I just couldn’t believe went in for them. It was their night, gotta admit that. But I really thought they caught a few breaks with those fortunate shots.

  91. Kurt – Sorry, I went back and re-read the piece a couple times, but I didn’t see the part where he claimed that the regular season defense was bad (it’s a long piece so I probably just missed it). If he did say that the season-long defense has sucked, then of course I disagree with him. I thought all he said was that our defense in Game 3 wasn’t great, and that all year long we’ve been inconsistent on our rotations and defensive intensity, which I (and Cleamons) agreed with.

  92. Kurt, that was an insightful article by Lazenby. However, the problem is that Kobe’s back up (Vujacic) has been ineffective, and that’s probably putting it mildly. I hope Phil subs Brown in for Kobe with Farmar on the floor.

  93. that was a beautiful piece, Kurt. thanks for posting it.

  94. Re: David Friedman. Can’t speak about the content there, because as soon as I went to his site I thought I was in a Kafka-esque Scream Chamber.

  95. Ahh shoot.
    I don’t like our chances in Game 4.
    The little girl who sang in Game 3 as well as on 4 previous occasions during these playoffs will sing again for Game 5. The magic are 6-0 in the playoffs when she sings the national anthem.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AmfQ92JJ0riG.0LoutUFU9SLvLYF?slug=ap-nbafinals-notebook&prov=ap&type=lgns

  96. Reverse spin:
    The Lakers made 3 more 3pt shots than the Magic and outscored the Magic by 4 in the paint. Only 5 Magic players got a rebound. The Lakers had twice as many offensive rebounds helping the team get 14 MORE FGAs than the Magic(while only getting 4 fewer FTS.) After winning the first 2 games shooting 46% from the field,the Lakers shot 51% in the third game. The Lakers had 5 players in double figures and another w/9 pts. Gasol had twice as many baskets as Howard. The Magic only made 5 3pt shots.
    How could the Lakers have lost?

  97. Fun memories for anyone with basketball deprivation:

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=99A5889A72809DB4

  98. Stephen,
    I think that the statistics that you cite are indicators as to why the game was so close despite Orlando’s incredibly efficient offensive showing. The Lakers played well; The Magic played awesome – the result: a very close game. To me, the game came down to two plays – Pietrus’ follow slam and Kobe’s TO and subsequent Pietrus floater on the break. Basically, on two crucial plays, the Magic came through where the Lakers didn’t.

    As for the next game, a couple of things I’ll be looking for:

    *As Kwame has been saying since before the series started, isolate Pau on Lewis. The Magic showed that they want to really attack Pau’s defense against the versatile Lewis. We need to do the same thing on the other end. Mind you, I’m not saying that Pau should force up shots. But we should make Lewis guard Gasol and then let the offense flow with Pau making decisions on whether to get his own or pass to an open mate. As Kwame has mentioned, this will not only get Pau (who’s been extremely efficient scoring the ball) matched up against a player that is overmatched, but will also have the added bonus of making one of the Magic’s primary offensive players (and a jumpshooter who will rely on his legs late in games) to work on defense and potentially wear down.

    *On defense, recognize where the Magic initiate the P&R. On several occasions Hedo started the P&R more than two feet outside the 3pt. line – this created better spacing around the perimeter and forced the Lakers defense into help situations further away from the hoop than they’d like. In those instances, Ariza must give space and go under the screen. This will disrupt what Orlando wants to get out of the play – Hedo getting that open space with room to drive and shoot and Howard getting a dive to the hole with Odom/Pau helping off Lewis – as now Ariza is there to meet Hedo coming around the pick, Bynum/Pau can just stick with Howard on the dive, and Pau/LO can stick closer to Lewis as he floats to the top for the return pass. Plus this will force the Magic to reset and run more clock.

    *A more controlled offensive game from Trevor. As the defensive player that gets attacked most often, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to go back at the player that’s attacking him. In the last couple of games, Ariza has done just that and tried too often to make Hedo respect his offense. Trevor needs to move the ball and cut away from the action more often and play to his most valuable asset to the team – his defense. I understand that Trevor is going to have to shoot the ball. But do so judiciously. Get the ball to the post, swing the ball to the corner, reverse the ball to the wing player replacing to the top from our weakside screen action. I want some controlled aggression from Ariza. I don’t mind if he’s taking 8-10 shots, but I’d prefer 6-8 with one or two of those being dunks in the open court. (On a sidenote, I don’t want this point to be misconstrued as me throwing Trevor under the bus for his poor offensive showing in Game 3. However, just as we want Pau to make Lewis work on defense to disrupt ‘Shard’s offense, Hedo is making Ariza work and it’s disrupting Trevor’s flow on offense.)

    *I want smarter defense on Orlando’s role players. We allowed Alston, Pietrus, Lee, and Battie get the shots that they want to take (save for a couple of forced looks that still went in) and really find their confidence. We must do a better job of limiting these looks. For example, we went under screens on Rafer when he was receiving screens at 18 feet and allowed him to take 16 footers with no pressure. We also let Rafer drive to his right hand and finish right at the basket. We let Pietrus take shots in rhythm, find his groove, and then he rode the wave to an outstanding performance. We let Battie take uncontested jumpers from the top of the key – which he made and ultimately opened up their high/low game with Howard. No more of any of this type of lax defense on these guys. I know part of our scheme is to allow certain players to shoot and most of the time we’ll want Orlando’s role players to be those guys. However, those looks don’t have to be the ones that they’re most comfortable taking. Force Alston to his left hand on drives. Force Pietrus to take multiple dribbles and pull up for the mid-range jumper. Make Battie put the ball on the floor before he shoots or passes. Make them uncomfortable and put even more pressure on Howard, Lewis, and Hedo to perform at their peak (especially late in the clock). Also, please stop fouling anyone but Howard. Even though Dwight has been pretty good at the line, I don’t want to see 80%+ FT shooters at the line – that’s like a guaranteed two points.

    *More post sprints from our bigs. Make Dwight defend his own game. We’ve got two seven footers and Dwight is taking turns on both. Make him run on both ends and try to bury him under the basket the same way he does our guys. This will lead to easy buckets from our guys and fouls on Howard. We’ve been successful all season playing this way, why not keep it up?

    *More of game one’s strategy: pound the ball inside. Yes Fisher has made more shots this series. Yes Kobe can get hot at any time. Yes these shots are open. I. Don’t. Care. Just as I talked about Ariza making the extra pass, everyone should do the same. Pass to Bynum on the block. Pass to Pau on the block. Get those guys good looks and opportunities to crash the offensive glass. Feed the bigs and good things happen.

  99. A big “Amen!” to that last point, Darius. Yes, I enjoy Kobe’s awe-inspiring long-range displays as much as any Lakers fan. But to say that those are the best shots we can be getting is just wrong, and even superhuman players like Kobe cool off. Nearly every offense is better run inside out.

  100. Also, in case no one’s seen this:

    Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant(notes) has developed such a floor presence that Alonzo Mourning(notes) can’t figure out what exactly it is Lakers coach Phil Jackson is doing on the bench.

    “To tell you the truth, Phil doesn’t have to do anything but call time outs,” said Mourning, the former NBA star who helped lead the Miami Heat to the 2006 championship and twice was the league’s defensive player of the year.

    “Kobe is the facilitator. He is the one driving the mission of this particular team right now,” Mourning said. “The communication level he has with his teammates out there, you can just see it.”

    “I think Phil is just showing up, to tell you the truth, and Kobe is doing all the work to make this team successful.”

    A bit hyperbole, but nice to see Kobe recognized for what many (*cough Bill Simmons*) see as pointless posturing for cameras.

  101. (To be clear, before I get slammed for posting that, I do not in any way think Phil is simply showing up and riding Kobe’s coattails.)

  102. Kurt, that was a great Lazenby article about Kobe.

  103. What are the most pressing Lakers’ problems? Dribble penetration, because Fish can’t stay in front of Alston. Bynum’s failure to take it strong to basket to draw foul on Haward and command double team.
    Ariza bites on every pump fake, and never blocks out on rebounds. Does Jackon ever teach his players basketgfall fundamentals? Petrud’s go ahead put back basket on game 3 was caused by Ariza’s failure to block out. Odom is plain lazy. Walton doesn’t belong in NBA.
    Finally, Mitch Kupcheck should be fired for giving long term contract to Walton, and 14 mill next year to retard like Bynum.

  104. i love kobe
    i love lakers
    i think whether success or fail,i likeit

  105. Walton, so far in the playoffs, is just behind Odom and Bryant for effectiveness on the floor.

    He does the things that win. Extra passes, boxing out, good rotations, etc.

    Odom
    65% of total minutes available.
    107.2 Team Offense
    95.1 Team Defense
    +12.1 Differential

    Bryant
    83% of total minutes available.
    104.9 Team Offense
    96.1 Team Defense
    +8.8 Differential

    Walton
    29% of total minutes available.
    103.5 Team Offense
    95.1 Team Defense
    +8.4 Differential

    So, whatever else is happening, Luke is playing very well. I like Walton’s game very much. He wins. It doesn’t have to look good, it just has to be good.

    Walton reminds me of Rambis as a player, in terms of the level of Basketball IQ he displays on the court. I would bet that in 15 years or so Walton will be an assistant coach, getting a lot of interviews for head coaching spots.

  106. Snoopy2006,
    Take Alonzo’s statements w/a huge grain of salt.
    He is a firm Riley guy and-to put it mildly-Riley has Phil issues.

    Darius,
    A perhaps bit of over-reaction on my part to all the “Magic played great,no worries” reactions. Again,the Lakers played very well-and lost.
    The worrisome bits for me for the Lakers is Orlando has figured out how to get their shots against the Lakers-what happens if they figure out how to get consistant stops?
    Also Kobe seems to be falling into the LeBron trap-no matter how well he does individually,his team seems to come up just that tad short against Orlando. It’s a delicate line Phil must deal w/.
    And believe me,I know how frustrating it is to have a huge mis-match down low and not ride it all game long. Sadly,it’s been proposed Adelman fine every player when Yao doesn’t get 15 shots-Phil might want to consider it ;)

    I just loved the incredible fight for positioning between Kobe and Lee in the 3Q-two players just giving everything they had over a piece of the court. Too bad we won’t see it again as the refs will over-react and start whistling touch fouls again.(IMHO,that battle took alot out of Kobe and was the reason he tired.)

  107. Not sure if anyone has mentioned this but there is a good piece on Kareem’s skyhook and scoring record on ESPN.

    “Stories behind the deadliest shot the NBA has ever seen”
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/features/kareem

    A highlight talking about the showtime Lakers:

    “In retrospect, it really wasn’t fair to go from one of the best fast breaks ever unleashed on the NBA to a Plan B that consisted of the single most effective shot in the history of the sport. It was like following up Larry Holmes’ jab with Mike Tyson’s uppercut.”

  108. if the Lakers want to take this in 6 games or less, it’s important that they make their one road win happen tonight. the one thing you don’t want to give an underdog is a real belief that they can win. so far Orlando has played confident in games 2 and 3, but with desperation as evidenced by some of SVG’s inconsistent rotations. Even though Dwight and SVG say so, I don’t think Orlando really believes they are championship material. a 2-2 series will give Orlando confidence so that they can stop second guessing themselves. that would be scary.

  109. I’m not liking the referee assignments for tonight…

    http://www.nba.com/news/referee.html

  110. The Lakers have taken a lot of heat for Bynums contract lately. But think about their needs for a true center, and look around the league. You could argue that Bynum is a top 5 center in the league, even with his playoff performance thus far. Name a starting C in the playoffs you’d rather have besides Dwight, Nene, or Yao. Perkins? maybe. Chandler? No. Noah? Dalembert? Atlanta doesn’t even have a C. Jermaine Oneal? no. (thank god we didn’t make that trade), Rasheed/McDyess? played awful. Ilgauskus? no.

    If you don’t pay Bynum, Your other options for a true center are: 1) trade for someone like Kaman, Shaq, Camby, or Dampier. Those guys are old and have equally terrible contracts. 2) Draft someone: Oden wasn’t available (and that’s a good thing). The next best thing to come through the draft was Marc Gasol who we gave away for Pau (another good thing). 3) We could try the free agent market, where the options there are Darko, or resigning Kwame Brown.

    Giving Bynum his money was a no-brainer.

    Give Kupchak his credit, he traded away the least justifiable contract we had, which was Vlad.

  111. I’ll take 14mill for Bynum over 9 mill for Kwame any day.

  112. #110, Travis,
    I think the Magic believe they are championship material, and that they can win this. If not, they wouldn’t have been able to come back from the blow-out in Game 1.

    However, they also know that no one else believes so, and that world’s doubt in them combined with the enormous pressure that puts them under, is the real mental challenge for both players and coaching staff in Orlando. How do you deal with the terrible pressure and knowledge that if you lose this series, you will have to spend the entire summer and most of next season listening to “we told you so!”s from everyone who knew from the first tip-off against the Cavs, that you might be good, but you’re not good enough?

  113. #107; 3Threel,

    Thanks for giving Luke his profs, especially in Game 1 he helped to put the dagger in Orlando. I would say he’s a more skilled player than Kurt was on offense. If this were the 80′s Luke would look like a much hotter property being able to bang with the best of them, adding some intelligence facilitating the offense, and having some moves and shots when the b’ball gods allow…

    The inconsistent way they call games now–overlooking thuggish play sometimes and calling air fouls on other plays– doesn’t benefit a guy like Luke.

    On another note: Phil has to exorcise the ghost of that evil cigar smoking mf’er Red Auerbach for his next ring, Kobe has to exorcise the ghost of the Big Diesel

    …And now we have to deal w/ a little star spangled banner singing autistic girl???

    Damn it!!!! God love the girl but the Black Mamba, et al. needs to send her crying back home along w/ all those other ghosts… ;-)

    Go Lakers!!!

  114. Oh, and signing Andrew Bynum was a smart move. I’ve said that since his first game and I’ll keep saying it until I’ve been proven wrong at least three times over. Bynum will be great. He needs just needs to grow a little older and wiser, but he’s going to become a force of nature one day.

  115. I don’t know if anyone has posted this yet, so if I’m duplicating someone, I apologize. Kelly Dwyer agrees with most of us here that we need to give the ball to Pau more. Attack the paint!

    And for tonight… crush them! Stomp them! Win! GO LAKERS!

  116. Off-topic, but am I the only one who’d want Kwame back as a 5th big? He’s a far better individual post defender than Mbenga, and Mbenga struggles to catch the ball as much as Kwame. We were hard on him because he was pressed into a role that didn’t fit him, but as a 4th or 5th big man, he has his uses.

    Here’s a good read from KD on Pau:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Defining-Pau-Gasol-s-martyrdom?urn=nba,169544

    The one thing I disagree with him on is that saying Kobe and Pau had equivalent 4th quarters. Pau is a much more willing passer than Kobe, and starting the ball in the post creates more movement and flow in our offense. So even if the shot attempts look the same, the offense really does run better through Pau. But KD makes the important distinction that this isn’t about how many shots Pau gets, it’s about his touches. That’s what is important to our offense.

  117. Whoops sorry Mimsy, stole my thunder lol

    (you’ll see what I mean when my last comment gets out of moderation)

  118. Haha, looks like I did! Sorry about that :)

    But that only proves that we’re both right that the ball needs to go to Pau, which in turn proves that we’re both smart and knowledgeable, which is the only thing that really matters. (Oh, and winning that Larry-someone trophy matters a bit too, I guess.)

  119. great job lakers going for number 16th banner next season keep up the great wwork go lakers