Preview & Chat: The Oklahoma City Thunder

Kurt —  November 3, 2009

Records: Lakers 2-1 Thunder 2-1
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 102.3, Thunder 101.1
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 101.9 Thunder 96.6
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Jeff Green, Kevin Durant, Nenad Krstic

The Lakers Coming in: Once again, no Gasol tonight (or tomorrow in Houston). Gasol had an MRI yesterday and check back right here for the update on the results when they come through. Also, Kobe Bryant is running a fever and is not feeling well, so expect him to only play 35 minutes tonight.

Darius added this in the comments:

I just wanted to note that on the 2001 Lakers team:

*Shaq missed 8 games
*Kobe missed 14 games
*Fisher missed 62 games
*The Lakers won 56 games which was good for 1st in the Pacific Division, 2nd in the Western Conference
*The Lakers repeated as Champions and went 15-1 in the playoffs

I say all this because injuries happen and they may disrupt what many were hoping could be a historical season. But we must keep our eyes on the finish line and not just at the starting gate. Like other teams coached by Phil Jackson, the goal is to be playing your best when the playoffs start. Let us have good health when the second season begins and take our chances.

One other thing we need to note about the start of the season (something that has come up in the comments): Lamar Odom has played with a newfound confidence so far. He is handling the ball a lot more in initiating the offense, and with that his assists are way up: Last season he average 3.2 assists per 36 minutes on the court, this season he is at 6.1 per 36, nearly doubled. (To be fair, his turnovers are up from 2.1 to 3.7 per 36.) But more than just numbers, you see it in his game, he looks more comfortable. He doesn’t fear the jump shot and is shooting 44% from the midrange (most of his shots still come at the rim or from beyond the arc). He had an off game against Dallas, the entire team did, but he has been different early on. Let’s hope it lasts.

The Thunder Coming in: There is a buzz about this team right now. And there should be — when you are starting to build a contender, this is what it looks like. They are years and several key players away, but you can see it all starting to take shape, things are coming together. Maybe the best example was their loss — they barely lost to the Trailblazers on a night Durant was 3 for 21 from the floor. That is a team they are building.

Still, Kevin Durant is the star. He was the focus of a little Internet and statistics stir when the ex-Dallas stat guy Wayne Winston said he wouldn’t want Durant on his team. I think that statement borders on the idiotic. I’m personally not a huge fan of the adjusted plus minus stat that Winston lives by, which is a debate for another day, but I think raw +/- numbers have some value. And the fact is that Durant’s +/- was bad and his team did do worse when he was on the court. I think the reason is defense — it is the area where he needs to step up. Scoring matters, but the best can do it at both ends (Kobe, LeBron, Howard, Garnett, etc). If Durant wants to be in that kind of company, his defense needs to get there. (Also, read Henry at TrueHoop’s open letter to Durant, which I thought was very good.)

Westbrook at the point is a key for the Thunder — he sets them up, gets the ball rolling. The former Bruin is the spark plug. Matt Moore over at Hardwood Paroxysms added that Jeff Green and Durant are playing off each other much better this season and that has been a key reason for the team’s improvement. He also said not to sleep on Etan Thomas, who has been playing good as well.

I got to see James Harden at Summer League and really liked his game. In college wasn’t sure what to make of him — some nights he looked brilliant, other nights not so much. But I think had to do with how he was defended; there was not a lot of help around him so double and even triple teams were the norm. Now, with the floor spread around him, his playmaking is standing out (38% of his possessions this season have ended with an assist).

Bottom line, there is reason for the buzz — this team started 3-29 last season, now they are already looking to match that total in their fifth game. The playoffs are not out of the question.

Blogs and Links: Royce is working it over at Daily Thunder.

Also, there is Sonicsgate.

Keys to game: First road game of the year for the Lakers, which shouldn’t affect a team that won the title on the road but it is something to watch. Also, first game of a back-to-back, and you always want to win the first one, it is the easier of the two (last year the Lakers were 14-5 on the front end, and 14-5 on the back end).

One thing to watch is pace — despite all the athletes, the Thunder have played very deliberately so far. The Lakers should push the pace and see if they can get some easy buckets, try to make the young Thunder hurry and make mistakes. And that starts by forcing turnovers. Against Atlanta, the Lakers were able to use their length and some trapping defense to create turnovers. Portland forced 19 Thunder turnovers the other night, nine from Westbrook. The Lakers (who are built similarly to the Blazers in terms of personnel) should try to duplicate that feat.

Durant is going to get his points, but if Artest and whoever else guards him can turn him into a jump shooter he is far-less effective — Durant shoots 67% at the rim but no better than 25% so far this season from anywhere beyond that. Make him beat you with a jump shot. For the second game in a row, Artest’s defense could be key.

The Thunder have other options besides Durant. Russell Westbrook cannot be given free run into the paint, if he can penetrate and get rolling it will be a long night for the Lakers. That means the PGs need to play good defense, but also Bynum and DJ and the rest of the Lakers bigs need to make good rotations.

Do not let Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden shoot threes, they will drain them.

Where you can watch: This game tips off at 5 pm Pacific, on KCAL 9 here in Los Angeles. It is on NBATV nationally, thanks to the fans vote.



209 responses to Preview & Chat: The Oklahoma City Thunder

  1. Well, the sonogram results indicate Gasol has a small tear in his hamstring. I just read it at the Times. ¿Why aren’t they offering a typical time for recovery on similar injuries? ¿Is this really something that can drag for months before it heals completely?

    • The MRI yesterday followed the sonogram, so more detailed results to follow. As for a timetable, that is the $1 million question. Anything but the most mild of strains is actually a tear, but the severity of that tear can be very minor or very large (in this case it is not severe). It’s hard While it is bothering Gasol, the questions being asked are along the “could he play?” line. If this was a playoff game, would he be out there? Would Kobe be back by now? What about, say, Walton or Farmar?

  2. Kobe’s flu could be a blessing in disguise. Likely, we will see more playing time for Sasha, Farmar and perhaps even an Ammo sighting. I think Sasha and Farmar could benefit from more time as this will hopefully help them get into a groove. As far as Ammo, I hope the kid has a good year – if not for trade bait then for his sake as he will be a FA this summer.

  3. The game is on NBA TV tonight as well (Fan night and they always vote for LA until they won’t let the Lakers have any more games), for anyone that has it and is not in LA.

  4. @Kurt,
    Psst, wrong thread… 😉

    I’m not sure more Farmar minutes is a good thing… though I will keep my fingers crossed. I’ll miss the first part of the game tonight, sadly, but I’ll check in around half-time and with any luck, I’ll find out that Ron has locked down on Durant and choked up his shooting.

  5. Ever since Bill Bridges brought up the idea of the bench guys (Sasha, Luke, Farmar) playing at the NBA mean, I find myself tracking that situation.

    As was noted after Sunday’s game, Luke did just that (and maybe a little more).

    This also feeds into the injury time and being ready for a deep playoff run. These guys playing well could be the equivalent of the starters playing a couple fewer games minutes-wise throughout the season.

    Imagine if they had held the lead on Sunday and allowed Kobe and company the luxury of sitting out the entire 4th. Over the course of the season w/ guys that are young but have a lot of mileage, this means the difference between a gassed team in the Finals (’08) and a fresh one (’09)…

    We want ice packs on those starter’s knees in the 4th quarter whenever possible.

  6. I’m curious, Kurt: What don’t you like about adjusted plus-minus? I’m not a fan of it myself (for theoretical reasons):

    but I think it fixes, in principle at least, many of the built-in biases in raw plus-minus, without really introducing any new ones (that I’m aware of). I do think that Wayne Winston trusts his own stat far too much (as I also think John Hollinger trusts his too much), but there’s still some value to the stat. (I also think there’s more value to the line-up stats that go into computing APM than to APM itself.)

  7. kobe and pj need to let the rest of the team know that this is still a ligit nba team they’re playing and they can’t sleep on them this game. hopefully the bench will listen so we don’t have to overplay a sick kobe or even worse lose the game.

  8. Stephania Bell reported on her chat today that there was a tear in Gasol’s hamstring and that it would likely be a couple of weeks before he would be back.

  9. I heard Wayne Winston was let go by Dallas. Is that true?

    I wonder if it’s guys like Wayne Winston and their secret stats that tell Mark Cuban that he should spend $111,790,647 (including luxury tax) in player’s salaries last season?

    No wonder.

  10. 9) That’s the perfect timetable in my eyes. Long enough for Bynum to show his stuff and short enough that we have plenty of time for the team to gel around Gasol.

    Plus, our schedule is so weak these next couple of weeks, which works well for us in two ways. 1) we won’t jeopardize a run at the best record and 2) losses won’t pile up and force us to bring Pau back too early.

    • Wondahbap, Winston was let go by Dallas. They upped the role of Rolland Beech, the guy behind Seems a smart move to me.

      Brian Tung, raw +/- certainly has a lot of noise, but adjusted still has its fair share. And what am I gaining from those regressions? Not any part of what I really want to know, which is why. I can get that better looking at shooting percentages or turnover rate or even PER against. Also, my understanding is that a lot of the regressions used are there to create a “constant value” for what you are looking at, something valuable in business. But is there really a constant value in basketball? I’m just more comfortable with the known bias of raw +/-, personally.

  11. The bench is not going to get any better until LO is back on it at the start of the game. It is becoming painfully honest that Sasha, Farmar, and Morrison do not have the fortitude to play big minutes in the rotatiion. We are all wishing on a star for an uprising, too finally get it. I give Morrison a better chance of succeding this year compared to Sasha and Farmar. Both have had ample time in the offense and plenty of practice time to show improvements in actual games. They are only seeming to regress into old habits and game blunders. It is an early indicator that Mitch better keep his phone at his side at all times.

  12. Visiting troll from a Thunder site here- just wanted to compliment this blog for doing a quality job. You guys are the champs, and that really speaks for itself. Don’t sleep on my Thunder though- defense is improved, and I’m thinking KD is going to have a giant chip on his shoulder tonight. Good luck guys.

  13. Anyone have an online link? I really want to see KD and Westbrook.

  14. Just skimmed through a list of 2010 free agents – Kwame Brown and Devean George will be available! 😉

    On a serious note, I have a question about Artest. Because of the time difference to Germany I haven’t been able to catch a live game, so I’m going mostly off highlights.

    But in those highlights I watched he makes a lot of good simple basketball decisions. Great post entry passes, stopping on cuts and sealing weaker defenders for quick post-ups. And against Atlanta, a few great fast-break sequences, whether filling the lane or initiating the break, which is especially encouraging since this was supposed the biggest drop-off compared to Ariza. Also, no over-driblling from what I’ve seen.

    Could anybody who has watched the full games eloborate on that a little? Are these tendencies observable over 48min? I personally am not too worried about the missed open threes. If Artest continues to make these sound decisions, I think he’ll fit in great once all the pieces are there and getting in sync. I just hope he won’t worry if he averages <15ppg.

  15. @ Snoopy – # 15

    You might try this link. (Credit Royce)

    Good luck Laker fans.

  16. Tonight is the last night for the free preview of NBA League Pass.

  17. Welcome Steve H – Thunder Troll – I’m a KD fan – though not so much tonight.

    D-Sanchez I kind of disagree on all three of those guys. I think all of them could contribute somewhere and improve significantly with some solid and regular floor time. I don’t think any of them will be great, but decent, yeah. Unfortunately for them, that is not happening on this Laker team. We need guys who can step up in limited minutes.

    I’d give Sasha the best shot this year, but it’s not going to happen in two minutes of floor time per game.

  18. Jax – Thanks man. Welcome to the Thunder fans, hope to see more of you around here (especially deep into the playoffs in a few years). It’s always fun to get good, knowledgeable fans from other teams commenting on here.

  19. One of things I was laughing about with the Wayne Winston segments was when he pointed out how ineffective the Mavs were everytime George entered the game. It was presented in such a way that it seemed like a big revelation and a hidden thing. Umm, yeah, anyone who’s watched any NBA lately could tell George didn’t have it anymore. If he had it to begin with.

    As for all the panicking. Man, we must be in the regular season. Complaints about our medical staff, sky is falling, etc. I guess no season is complete without exaggeration and drama.

    Can’t we all just watch the games, see how the team grows and how PJ and the coaching staff adjust? Let’s enjoy the basketball shall we?

  20. @Kaifa,
    ARtest after the Hakws game: “The shots don’t mean nothing. You want to make open shots, but the main thing is play hard, play within the offense, know your role. I’m not going to expect myself to take 20 shots a game like I used to take. Some days I might only take three shots.”

    I don’t know how long that will last, but for now, it doesn’t seem to bother him

  21. @Mimsy

    Reading those Artest comments after the last game, I found myself thinking that those are EXACTLY the sentiments that we as fans want to hear from players. Talking about their “role” and playing “within the offense”. All the buying into the team stuff that we love to hear. Just got to hope that Ron’s sincere about it all.

    I figure if we keep winning, it becomes even more of a non-issue than it is now.

  22. So far, i think the signs are as positive as possible, considering this is the real world and not fantasy basketball.

    As for Odom, maybe that point-forward thing is really going to take shape, and he can be our Hedo in the postseason, giving us yet another wrinkle and a really LONG line to throw against for stretches:
    PG: Odom
    SG: Kobe
    SF: Artest
    PF: Gasol
    C: Bynum

    Also, it’s promising that Artest and Odom are indeed good friends and do seem to be getting along quite well. That’s a luxury PJ never had with Rodman, I don’t think, so we’re in good shape.

  23. …Wayne Winston said he wouldn’t want Durant on his team. I think that statement borders on the idiotic

    Borders? That statement is deep in the heart of idiot country. Prime example of a stat guy being too high on his own formula.

  24. Wayne Winston said he wouldn’t want Durant on his team.
    That is why he is not working for a team,stats in B-ball mean very little to me, I am sure most people on this site know a good player when they see one. and it really does not go further than that. and harold- please do not ever compare Odom to Turkonglue again.

  25. Lou – I’d show a little more respect for the regulars around here, especially when you don’t appear overly knowledgeable. If stats in bball mean very little to you, then there’s a whole world of insight you haven’t tapped into. Stats are an amazing thing when placed in proper context by someone who knows how to use them. Morey’s success in Houston is no fluke.

    “I am sure most people know a good player when they see one.” I think you’re both right and wrong. I definitely agree that you have to watch a player for that X-factor, that “it” that certain players just have. That said, if ‘most people knew a good player when they saw one,’ the draft wouldn’t have so many busts and surprises. It’s a crapshoot for a reason.

    Speaking of which…Brandon Jennings, anyone? I called James Harden all the way but did not see Jennings coming on like this, at least not this soon. He’ll have rookie bumps but probably less so because of professional experience. Could be one of the bigger steals in recent memory.

  26. Tisk Tisk. Easy fellas the game about to come on, lets sit back and enjoy the show.

  27. I picked up Jennings in the last round of my fantasy draft. Needless to say, the laughter that generated has been silenced.

    I don’t know that I would want Durant on my team either… It is possible that there was no correct choice between Durant and Oden.

    I think that Durant might grow into a very good ballplayer, but at the moment he is nothing but an bad big scorer. Lots of shots equals lots of points, but so what? If you cannot play defense, or make your teammates better, than who cares?

    So far, Durant just takes up a lot of possessions with comparatively little back for the investment.

  28. Umm I guess NBA TV was wrong. Sure looks like Fish to me=)

  29. Kevin McHale seems to be as good an analyst as he was a GM…

  30. Bynum playing out of his mind in these first 8 minutes.

  31. Somebody needs to tell these guys that Jeff Green is a good 3-point shooter.

  32. if odom keeps leaving green wide open im gonna cry

  33. i dunno about anyone else but kobe’s first step seems even faster then last year

  34. Bynum playing out of his mind scoring-wise. Surely if you were 7 foot, you’d get more than 1 rebound in a quarter…

    At least LO’s grabbing a lot of boards.

  35. Lamar Odom really is an amazing help defender.

    On the first Laker defensive set when the James Harden entered the game, Bryant switched onto him and Harden’s screen man dragged Odom into the play.

    Bryant, being his usual self, looks vaguely interested as Harden slips behind the screen and receives a pass and a subsequent look for a wide open long two-pointer. Inefficient, but open nonetheless.

    Odom, before the pass even reaches Harden, saw and quite frankly – expected – what Bryant was doing and was about to do, and he managed to sprint about 10 feet to barely contest the shot.

    Harden nailed the shot anyway, but if only Bryant, who was about 5 feet away on that play, could show half as much effort as Odom, we’d be dominating just about every game.

  36. Sasha made a shot again! Machine!

    Sorry. Couldn’t help it…

  37. Whops. Anonymous 36 was me.

  38. after all these years farmar still cant run the offense

  39. Wow Lucas…did you really miss that?

  40. lol that may have been the worst jump hook ever by Luke Walton

  41. Just when I want to accept Powell, he fumbles a last second pass that could have easily been converted.

    And.. just when Luke is becoming the magic johnson of the 09-10 lakers, he misses a point blank bank shot from about 4 feet.

    Sold… with Farmar as the throw-in for a bag of in-in-out and a shake.

  42. Wow, Lamar and Kobe doing the juggling act!

  43. kobe getting mugged

    • Lakers need to keep attacking. This is what it will be like on the road this season, there are no gimmes, teams will not roll opver

  44. Wow – Kobe giving the ball back a bit at the end of the half here.

  45. As long as the opposing team has a quick PG, they’re always in the game.

  46. @james

    Very true, but he’s dribbling into the defense a fair bit as well. It’d be nice to get the benefit of the doubt once or twice though.

  47. Wow, Kobe is playing like a rookie in this last minute.

  48. That was a dumb third foul by Kobe.

  49. Is there anyone on the bench we feel good about right now? Josh and Luke?

  50. Flue getting to Mambas head?

  51. kobe just got fouled 3! times on the play before the half with no wistle. 3 times! what the *!

  52. Actually, that last block on Kobe looked pretty clean.

  53. Serious not complainatory question…is it just kind of an unspoken rule that even if a player gets hacked in the last 5 seconds of a game, a ref will look the other way always? Not just playoffs?

  54. 55)sorry dont know the names of the players that were involved on thunder but the guard on the ouside slapped kobe on his way up and the pf/c got him twice (body and elbow) no ball! hopefully they show a replay. i watched it on nba tv and they showed a slow-mo on the baseline.

  55. Both teams have come out firing in the 2nd half.

  56. we’re being very generous with the ball…

  57. This game is starting to get a bit ridiculous. Seriously.

  58. this game isn’t ridiculous jane, its the fact that the team’s mind is more on complaining at the refs then getting back on D-. the walton point blank miss play was terrible. I don’t know if it was my computer lag or if he really stood there for 2 to 3 seconds in disbelief. YOU JUST DON’T DO THAT. i commented before the game about that pj and mamba needed to stress to the team that they have to take these “c class” nba teams seriously but i don’t think that happened.

  59. These first few Laker games have not been particularly fun to watch.

  60. I’m not sure if I should hope that Kobe is so sick that he’s missing shots, or that he’s not that sick and things will get better in the 4th. I mean, he’s impersonating last game’s Durant or something.

  61. maybe im dreaming but bynum is something like 9 of 12 why have we stopped giving him the ball

  62. Bynum missing shots but at least he’s aggressive at the offensive boards!

  63. I know jeremyla24; I’m just frustrated. I agree that the last few games have not been as fun to watch.

    On the negative, The Lake Show looks a lot less deep without Gasol.

    On the positive, Ron looks better & better…

  64. PJ needs to stop subbing so late in qtrs and leave 2 starters on the floor at ALL times.

    Other teams do it, so can PJ.

  65. rofl, look at that massive flop by Kobe.

  66. ahh fish i hate you sometimes

  67. Didn’t the Lakers have a bad record on NBA TV Fan Night last year?

  68. my streaming site stopped working can i get an update on the game… please

  69. Lakers missing too many free throws.

  70. Yeah Pau being out really shows our bench without starters in the game will stuggle all year if PJ doesnt adjust his substitution pattern.

  71. lakers have 15 steals by the way, artest with 5 of those.

  72. Artest is playing huge this quarter.

  73. All links seem to be disconnected. Anybody have a working one?

  74. I do like the fact that the Lakers are able to gut their way through these poor performances.

  75. Artest is doing what we hoped he’d do – play tough D on the opposing team’s star AND serve as a release valve on offense for Kobe.

    Huge possession coming up…need to make this a two possession game.

  76. Dirty

    Also recommend Luke starts over Ron-Ron. Would allow Ron-Ron to score off the bench. With the starters he is option #4.

  77. Poor shot selection by Kobe there.

  78. this links working –

    bad gamble by artest set up corner 3 for thunder, and kobe keeps forcing shots. we’re tied!

  79. Who else is loving the fact that Kobe is bringing back the fadeaway in full force this year? That used to be an unstoppable move for him and he didn’t employ it much over the past year.

  80. thank you thank you thank you

  81. nice watch 24 offense la

  82. The box score for our bench look horrendous. Not watching the game but were they really that bad?

  83. Yes, the bench has not been playing well.

  84. 88/ one word: absolutely

  85. I cant remember the last time Kobe did that dribble thing and has not lost the ball.

  86. Bynum hasn’t touched the ball for a long time. Actually hardly anyone has. It’s been all Kobe, for better or worse.

    Durant hasn’t done anything for a while except turn the ball over.

  87. Yes our bench is that bad. PJ insists on playing all 5 bench players at one time. Don’t most teams only go 8 deep?


  88. mamba looked more like a garter snake on that play… i feel like this is the 03-04 lakers stacked with big names but can’t perform. WHY!

  89. Here we go.

  90. Wow. Durant, that was terrible.

  91. Come on Kobe, redeem yourself. You’re due for a buzzer beater.

  92. That’s the best shot they could come up with?

  93. thanks for the freebie durant

  94. comon kobe

  95. wow two consecutive bad plays…

  96. overtime!!

    (writing this with 2.7 left)

  97. I can’t believe you guys are already complaing about Phil. He has earned my trust, particularly this early in the season.

  98. 94

    Why? Maybe it has something to do with missing their second-best player while trying to work Artest into the system?

  99. Kobe really kills the team in these late game situations. I’ve seen him fumble away the ball way too many times during his career. We need Gasol back quick…he’s the key to our success, not Kobe.

  100. Come one, Oski. Pau is a great player, but he is only as successful as he has been with the Lakers because of Kobe’s abilities. Kobe will always be the key to our success.

  101. Joel

    I assume you mean 93. This would only be until Gasol comes back. Lakers need a scoring option on their bench.

  102. emh101: Kobe is always going to be Kobe, but it would certainly be nice to have Pau back right now;)

  103. Andreas, I do not disagree with that. Our offense flows so much better with him in it.

  104. Wish my feed hadn’t died. Our starters are playing some heavy minutes. Looking at the box score all our starters are doing well, the D must be off or something.

  105. Wow Lamar that was cold-blooded!

  106. Wow, absolutely no hesitation on Lamar’s release.

  107. Wow Artest looks like he has been pretty efficient today.

  108. see kobe it dont have to be all you in the clutch

  109. 106, i second that motion, but oski you must be pretty bold for a comment like that. i can respect that much of it.

  110. “Kobe really kills the team in these late game situations.”

    I get the feeling that if someone read this as an outsider out of context, it would probably be one of the most ridiculous basketball statements ever made. But, as we’ve seen numerous time: “Live by the Kobe, die by the Kobe.”

  111. Odom has been playing with some swagger so far this season.

  112. 103. PJ is gonna make all of us be on on the heart transplant list if he continues to sub this way without Pau in the rotation.

  113. I get the feeling that lamar’s trying to atone for the blocked shot by Etan Thomas

  114. “Live by the Kobe, die by the Kobe.”

    Ha, ha. I love it.

  115. 2 straight turnovers from Kobe?

  116. kobe getting no love tonight

  117. we went to bynum on the first play of OT and he nailed the hook shot. he hasn’t touched it since.

  118. kobe needs to exhibit some self control and atone here on d

  119. We still have some pretty obvious defensive miscommunications. Lamar was shading Jeff Green completely toward the baseline, and Green just walked right past him and toward the hoop for a layup as there was no help behind Lamar, leading to a foul on Andrew.

  120. Durant has helped to keep us in this game.

  121. Thankfully, Durant has been a disaster late in the game.

  122. Looks like it’s going to be “live by the Kobe” tonight again;)

  123. be proud of your team emh. They played well.

  124. Kobe almost killed us there.

  125. Wow, that was an incredibly foolish gamble by Kobe. That could easily have been double OT.

  126. Yeah we should all send Durant a Thank You card.

  127. lamar just lost all his swagger

  128. We need an extra week of training camp.

  129. Tommorrow will definitely be hard to watch considering how tough the Rockets defense is and will be our first back to bac this year.

  130. Hey, I am proud of my team! Through the . . . um, bad, and the good.

  131. artest and kobe both hold that personal vendetta to their game. i hope they both show that against the rockets tomorrow between the ar/ar swap and kobe’s experience in the playoffs. it should be interesting.

  132. A friend told me Artest almost blew his top off during the game after he got manhandled on a dunk attempt… any truth to this?

    I hope not… 🙁

  133. Lamar and Fish: Both used complex passes into traffic when the team was turning over the ball repeatedly. You have to adjust to the game and neither of them did that – hence, several turnovers.

  134. i saw a replay of it and i think he was banging on the scores table or something. correct me if im wrong anyone.

  135. I’m going to be very hard on the team, and specially on Kobe. I don’t care we got the W, Gasol was injured or that Kobe had a flue. I don’t know why am I awake at 4.50am to watch that game. I’ll probably take back my words next game or any other but this one was crap.

    1st thing, the lakers didn’t win it because of talent as you guys pointed out from the Hawks game. The Thunder LOST it. Its their entire fault. When Kobe switched to “me against the world” mode, Sefolosha knew the only thing he had to do was deny him, watch him get desesperate and force shots. And that’s what happened. 7 turnovers for Kobe, 4 steals for Sefolosha…

    I don’t know why, but the Thunder didn’t let Durant get in rythm in the last quarter (no, it wasn’t Ron-Ron’s defense, he was open to recive and play but the teammates didn’t get him the ball) so when they turn to him to score the gamewinning shot he’s cold and airball it.

    After the first 2 ofensive possessions for the lakers I stand up in my livingroom at 4.30am and, at risk of waking up my familly , scream a deep AMEN. 1st ball to Bynum for a fake and right hook, bucket. 2nd ball, doesn’t find Kobe at the lowpost and moves it to the weak side, hand to hand pass from Bynum to Fish with a screen and swish.

    Then Kobe feels humiliated by Sefolosha and almost gave them the game by playing a 1 on 3 basketball game featuring an inspired Sefolosha, inside help defense rotations and the referees tired of hearing Kobe whining.

    But not only forgets that the offense works arround the team, also forgets DEFENSE is a TEAM work. Twice he tried the magical steal, gambling, leaving an open man for a three or the extra pass for an inside basket. The last play was just like that, he tried the steal (as he lost the ball a couple possessions ago, he had to get it back) and left Sefolosha for the open 3 when the team is LOSING BY 3 POINTS.

    I mean, I love Kobe, I suport him, I defend him in front of all the haters, understand his drive and believe in him eyes closed but… Don’t you let your friend drive you home with your own car when you drunk too much wine? Isn’t he capable of reading (I know he’s capable that’s what $%&# frustrate me) the game and see that his illness doesn’t allow him to do that and that Artest is having a great game, Bynum is doing pretty good and Odom’s been more than solid?

    Is there any teammate with ball to tell him he’s sometimes wrong? Don’t dare to defend him, don’t you dare…

    The bench is still playing crap and it cost us the lead we had in the first quarter, but Kobe is the leader of the team and when something goes wrong, specially when the leader goes wrong, its up to him to accept the critics and work the team on the right way instead of looking for the excuses I’ll most surelly read tomorrow.

    I’m dissapointed, very dissapointed.

  136. Artest and the scorer’s table?

    Historically, that has not been a good couple. 🙁

  137. Sorry for the double post, got a little too trigger happy with the mouse back there when it stuck up. Anyway, if that was true, I’m pretty surprised no one’s been up in arms about it just yet.

  138. Xavier,
    Have to agree with you about Kobe. However, the entire team seemed allergic to the triangle offense and decided not to run it – not just Kobe.

    Artest I can understand, but Lamar freelancing his way into a crowd, only to get his shot blocked – shades of last year. Fish with lazy passes into covered teammates, rather than rotating around the horn. Nobody cutting off Bynum when he had the ball.

  139. well, Artest’s points did come.

    As for Kobe…

    His training must not only keep his body relatively young, but also his mind. I’m not sure if we’ll ever see him mature into a Textbook type of player that draws praise for going for the right play most of the time.

    Anyway, that’s part of the fun watching Kobe though. He is the maverick, the protagonist who never really matures and really makes you think his maturity never left highschool, helping you connect to him in a weird way…

  140. KB didnt shoot well tonight, and wasnt looking for his teammates that were having a much more efficient night from the floor. KB will have learn to share the load on this talented team, when he is not having the best of nights. I was a little upset at first but came back down to earth when we won. It is a known fact that if we continue to play like this (Bench 6 points combined and KB against the whole team) pepto bismol sells will skyrocket across the globe.

  141. Jackson is still trying to figure out the best use of the bench players; they have all been so inconsistent, he doesn’t yet know who the best three of them are.

    But they are 3-1, while Gasol is out. I’ll take that.

  142. re: Artest – i believe the play in question was Jeff Green blocking his fast break dunk attempt cleanly up top but with significant body contact down below. Artest goes down hard and pops up pissed. it was entirely possible he was going to confront Green, but Kobe grabs him to calm him down. i didn’t see anything with a scorers table

  143. 148.

    Thank goodness for Kobe then. Whew.

  144. im just glad kobe is finally able to hit two freethrows at the end of a game. i remember for the longest time he would be more profficient from 25ft out with less than 24sec left in the game than he would with 2 freethrow opportunities. (usually he went 1/2)

  145. @Xavier, agree completely. Like you I’m a huge Kobe defender against the haters. But at the same time, I recognize his weaknesses. He has not been playing consistently smart on both ends of the court so far this season. In the post game show, Worthy spotlighted several plays where Kobe gambled on suicide steals or not recovering properly. All plays that Okc scored on.

    For all the preseason talk about Kobe leading by example for Artest, maybe we had it wrong. Maybe Kobe should pay attention to how Artest works within the system most of the time. On the defensive side, Kobe can also take lessons from Artest in staying disciplined and playing fundamental D instead of gambling all the time.

    As for Artest getting mad in that incident, I have no problems with him getting emotional and mad. That was a tough play at a big part of the game. It happened in the Dallas game too with him getting the offensive foul calls. He got mad and emotional. The key is what he does. if he gets out of control and goes berserk, then it’s a problem. But part of him supposedly maturing and seeing that therapist is controlling himself. It’s okay to get mad and express yourself to the refs as long as it’s not out of line.

  146. Xavier – AMEN!!! You hit on some points about Kobe that I constantly try to point out. Whenever I throw any kind of criticism toward Kobe on this forum I get ripped because people on this site believe Kobe can do no wrong. He is my favorite player and I love watching him play but there are things about his game that bother me.

    Early in the day I got ripped for pointing out that Kobe’s MVP chants are not warranted with how he has come out playing this season. He cannot make a stand still jumper. All his points have come off of free throws, breakaway dunks and turnarounds in the post. His jump shot is OFF through the first 4 games of the season. Don’t get me started about his roaming on defense that just drives me crazy.

    I know it’s early in the season, but Kobe needs to play better.

  147. relax… Artest wasn’t gonna start throwing punches. This isn’t 2004 and people need to ease up on the man already. Looked to me he was just pissed at the non-call. Anyway, we got the W but tomorrow’s game might be very interesting indeed.

  148. that pau injury has me really concerned. anyway, a win is a win. live and die by kobe tonight, win as a team the next game. point being, though kobe is our focal point (you think?) and he will never be perfect for a lot of us, the man tried. maybe thought he had that swagger. might even tried to be cocky. that’s kobe. i wouldn’t be surprised if we give him love tomorrow for destroying houston.

    am more concerned about ariza burning us back for 33 than houston’s defense. and am looking at bynum. battier and ariza will try to frustrate kobe. i have a good feeling it’s redemption time (and so early in the season for so much drama) and those two make good practice targets. GO LAKERS!

  149. Rudy,
    It’s not that we don’t like any criticism of Kobe; it’s just that the media generally has been a Kobe hatefest and many fans have just gone alone with them. It was like the talking heads had it in for Kobe because he was the first to approach their private idol MJ and they were going to make sure he didn’t get any credit – if they could help it.

    Kobe is a polarizing figure – no doubt – but most of us on this blog realize that his tremendous ego not only gets us through tough times, but also infuriates us periodically.

  150. As far as I see it, Ron got hit by a big body while going up for a dunk attempt, he had a right to be somewhat upset. It was a potentially dangerous play, and he actually did land hard (a more fragile player would not have sprung right up like he did) Refs didn’t give the Lakers anything in the 4th, it was frustrating even as a fan, I can only imagine how our players felt.

    The word that comes to mind to describe the team’s offense is ‘discombobulated’. There is no flow or rhythm. Too many isolation plays and shots put up just to beat the buzzer. Tomorrow is a huge test, looking forward to seeing what happens.

  151. Doesn’t take much to freak out Anonymous. At least watch the game if you are going to draw dramatic conclusions about Ron Artest’s mental health from something that was a total non-event. What a shock that your “friend” would exaggerate. Artest is really not the time bomb you wish him to be.

    • As I remember that Ron walked to the other end of the court, it was no big deal, then he hit free throws. But there’s a lot of freaking going on for some reason.

  152. Wow, I just finished watching the game which I had DVR’d, thinking before I even turned it on, that it was going to be a Laker win tonight, why not, it’s the Thunder they are playing. What a game folks, huh! The starters are definately going to be burned out before long with these kind of minutes being logged by them, night after night, after night. Every team we play this season, will just do everything possible to beat us. The Thunder spread out the minutes for all of their players fairly good, it seemed like to me, but we cannot. We were very lucky to get this win tonight, very lucky indeed, IMHO. Our bench was just awful, again, every one of them was in the negative in +/- stats tonight. Enough out of me for now.

    “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” – Albert Einstein

  153. Woohoo! The times is reporting that Pau may be available for Friday’s game. He practiced on Tuesday a bit, but will practice again on Thursday. It’s not 100% sure he will play, but very probable.

  154. the other Stephen November 4, 2009 at 5:38 am

    hehe Xavier, your anger has fueled your eloquence. i just enjoyed odom’s jittery missed putt at the end.

  155. All starters in the plus column, all bench players in the minus. Is this a pattern for this team? I hope not. If so, I hope Kupchack tries to get some bench support come trade deadline.

  156. Not defending the bench – but I think with LO coming off the bench Phil can leave at least one starter on the floor at most times and so it will essentially be two starters out there at all times.

    I think this all illustrates how important Gasol is to the Lakers. Bynum may have a good year and all, but he does not make the other guys better the way Pau does. Kobe, Gasol and LO are the players that make this team great. Take any one of those guys away and we become a good team, but not great.

  157. lots of panic out there. Pau’s injury, Ron Artest at the scorers table, Kobe is gambling and missing stand still jumpers (like he ever gets a clean look anyway), bench is worthless without LO, LO is still LO (airballed free throws)

    How bout some positives?

    -Bynum with another 20/10 game, leading the team in minutes and looking healthy. Getting to experience overtime in the NBA

    -Gutting it out on a night when Kobe had the flu and a young team with sleeper potential raised their game for the defending champs

    -3 and 1 without our clear-cut 2nd best player, the most versatile power forward in the league.

    My advice to all the chicken little’s out there is to remember who this Laker’s team is. We’re not the Celtics or the 96 Bulls. We play down to our competition and play our best ball against the best teams. We’re gonna have some stinkers against the lower-echelon teams in the league. We have new pieces and missing pieces that need time to gel. I’m not going to panic unless we get shellacked like the Cavs did on opening night by the Celtics.

  158. Craig W, J, Rudy and the other Steven…

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who’s not happy with the W. I woke up a 2am to see the game and I was soo dissapointed, I had to expose my thoughts even though it was arround 5.30am when I posted it (and woke up at 6.30am today, btw).

    I don’t think the team passed on playing through the triangle 80% of the time but Kobe was a black hole last night.

    I said I would not be happy reading the recaps. And I am not.

    Artest: “When Kobe’s out there, he wants it, that’s the great thing. He wants it. It’s not like I have to really go get it.”

    Sure he wants it, but even in those nights that gods come down to earth and suddenly discover they can bleed too, they need to find the ones who hit their shots. How did the other lakers shot?
    Artest: 6-9, 2-3 beyond the arc
    Odom: 6-11, 1-1 beyond the arc
    Fisher: 4-6, 1-2 beyond the arc
    Bynum: 10-15

    I’m just telling you that when those 4 combine for 26-41 and 64 points its not like Kobe has to pass to Atkins/Kwame or shoot.

    Phil: “He (Kobe) was able to control the game at the end.”

    No, he didn’t. I’ve seen Kobe control and dominate games at the end and when that happens I’m not left hooking a pillow.

    Kobe: “We got stops. That’s what it boiled down to, getting stops”

    No, we didn’t. They stopped Kobe and they missed it on offense. The Lakers were just watching the game from the best seats the Ford Center can offer.

    Even Dwyer surprised me: “Kobe’s been jawing with Thabo for years, and usually he lets these sorts of things get to him. Actually, tonight he let Thabo get to him. But he didn’t let his anger completely take over, as it has in the past, which led to losses. Not even after Kobe was jobbed on a couple of calls.”

    7 turnovers for the game and ZERO assists in the second half+OT and his anger didn’t completely take over? And those late game defensively mistakes?

    Come on, did anyone actually watch the game or they just relied on what the Box Score said?
    Take a look at the game flow at PopcornMachine’s, just for fun (or masoquism)

  159. A few years ago, my girlfriend and I were having a Artest or Odom “discussion.”
    Now that we have both, we getting along much better. Thank you Dr Buss!
    Thank you Mitch!

    Seriously, with CrazyPills it doesn’t seem fair anymore.

  160. Funny, in all the freaking out over Kobe’s game, no one seems to be stating the obvious – that he played 46 minutes in a gritty overtime road win on a day when he was battling the flu and was questionable to even play.

  161. Not sure if anyone has commented on the CP3 vs Rondo thing. Rondo supposedly told Paul that that he is jelouse of him because he has a ring and Paul will never win one. Even Bill Simmons can see that his team is the most hated in the league. I know many players have egos and think they are all that, but I’ve never seen a team with a bunch of arogant bullying jerks before.
    I’m sure this type of trash talking goes on all the time, and CP3 is realy frustrated that his team is stuggling, but you generaly don’t hear about it.

  162. lmao @ 167… the Lakers front office: bringing people together.

  163. (Note that I only saw the last 7 minutes of regulation and then all of the overtime…so take this with a grain of salt.)

    I’m of two minds here. First, I don’t completely disagree with questioning Kobe. He was taking his matchup with Thabo personally and it led to some questionable shot attempts. His jumper wasn’t falling and he had teammates that were playing well. Those factors should/could have led to a different style of play from him that likely would have led to an easier win. He also made mistakes on defense that led to open looks by the man he was guarding. I think Kobe needs to better understand that playing free safety can be the equivalent of being in no mans land at times and he needs to do a better job of picking his spots.

    That said, Kobe was by no means bad. He had 31 points on 22 shots. He was almost perfect at the FT line and there were several times late in the game where he made tough turn around jumpers that either gave us the lead or pushed the lead to two possessions. And in a game that close, those shots matter – a lot. Plus, even though Bynum and Artest and Odom had good offensive games each of them (besides Ron, from the portion of the game that I saw) had issues. Late in the game, Odom forced a couple of drives where he not only came up empty, but helped create easy offense for the other team because of his miss(es). And as effective as Bynum is/can be, *he* is still the black hole. He’s not nearly as willing a passer as he could be and his awareness of where the open cutter will be is still only average. I’m not out to smash on the kid, this stuff will come in time. But, I think every player on the team understands that a pass to Bynum is a pass that is going to lead to a shot. He is efficient and he does good things with those looks, but I point this stuff out because those are the thoughts that (I’m sure) go through players minds when they’re running our sets and deciding where the ball is going to go.

    As for getting stops – the Lakers did get stops. Most will point to those “stops” as being mistakes by OKC, but they were stops all the same. What I saw was Artest getting into the head of Durant where young KD was unsure and second guessing. On one play Durant curled off a screen on the left side of the court, pulled up for jumper, saw that Artest was going to contest his shot closely, and then attempted a pass to Etan Thomas that went right out of bounds. On another play where he curled to take a jumpshot on the right side of the court, Bynum and Artest both contested the shot and KD airballed a 15 footer. On the closing play of regulation, KD forced a 28 foot jumper because he didn’t want to deal with Ron and/or ‘Drew in a P&R situation. Are these mistakes by the Thunder? Yes. But, they are not “unforced errors”.

    Final point – Kurt has said this many times, but it should be repeated again: the Lakers are going to get their opponents best effort every single night. At the end of the NBA TV broadcast, the announcer said that OKC played a very “spirited game” and that was 100% true. They played as hard as they possibly could have and took every play personal. There will be more games like last night in the Lakers future. With or without Gasol. However, there will also be many games where the Lakers simply outclass their opponent. The season is long and a grind. Fans can expect perfection or get upset at what they deem mistakes but it will drive them crazy – especially if they live on that highwire every game. I’m happy with another win and we live to play another day. If last season taught me anything it’s that it won’t always look the way I want it to look but I know this team has what it takes and has the will to show it when the moment arises. We’re 3-1, I’ll live with that.

  164. I disappointed in some of the comments here. Comments made by typically level-headed posters. I like to see an ugly win in a sloppy game as a testament to how good we are and will be. Not the other way around.

    Why do we have to go through this every year? At this point a win is a win. Who cares how it’s done. There will be 82 regular season games and 20-something play-off games. Some of the wins will be pretty. Some of them will be ugly. Some games we’ll squeak out, and some will be blow outs. It’s nothing new.

    It was an ugly game, but how many seasons do we have to watch to know that Phil, Kobe, and this team know when it really matters. Phil’s team are always peaking when it matters, but yet we’re still mad at Kobe’s play. We’re still worrying about how inconsistent they look 4 games into the season. So what! It makes NO sense. I think this whole team deserves the benefit of doubt.

    Complaining now is foolish. We won. That is all that matters. This team showed us that throughout the year, including the Playoffs. W’s matter.

  165. 166 – No need to panic. They didn’t always employ the correct strategy at the right time, but that doesn’t mean it was a complete failure. The fact is Kobe knows how to run multiple forms of the offense (i.e. high and free throw line extended pick and roll, attacking from the post, attacking from the elbow) and the other guys, particularly Bynum and Artest, are untested. Bynum and Artest made some nice plays last night, but I’d still prefer to take my chances with Kobe calling the shots in the last few minutes rather than dumping the ball into Bynum. Given the pressure level and intensity, points in the fourth quarter are the not the same as points in the first quarter.

    Kobe wasn’t perfect. I’d rather see him stick to the midrange game with a couple dribbles as opposed to freelancing into the lane or trapping himself on the sideline. The team is still in a “feel it out” phase (whether they should be as a championship team or not, don’t know), so I’ll take the win and look forward to adjustments in coming weeks.

    At this time last year, we were complaining that Kobe wasn’t driving to the hole enough. I’d say the year finished off pretty well.

  166. The only player on the bench who is of bona fide starter caliber is Odom. When he has to start, the bench players are playing out of their roles, which results in inconsistency. Some good games, some bad. With Odom coming off the bench, everyone else slides into roles that they are better suited for.

  167. Snoop-maybe you can point out to me how I disrespected anyone. I was giving my own views, I did not know that I had to fall in line with the “regulars”. And since you seem so knowlegable maybe you can give me more insight to the success that they have had in Houston. Other than taking the Lakers to a 7th game last year, they have not done anything.

  168. Darius I totally agree with you on everything but one thing, Kobe’s stats look good because of the first quarter where he put up 12 points 3-5 FG 1-1 long range 5-6 FT, 2 assists 1 steal and 2 rebounds. Its just that even when Kobe doesn’t have a good game he goes for 31 in 22 shots.

    Looking at the big picture, I’m more concern with our bench play but sometimes I got to play the devil’s advocate. I still believe eyes closed on Kobe.

  169. I understand things are different with Gasol out, but I don’t like the minutes totals last night for the starters. As noted yesterday, the lack of production from/trust in Walton, Farmar and Vujacic is a problem with this team, and I don’t see a solution. I do think Phil needs to let Vujacic, Walton and Farmar get more burn, at least for now.

    On the good side, Artest seems to be getting more comfortable and Bynum looks good. And yes–every town gets up for the Lakers. That goes back to Showtime.

  170. xavier forgot kobe’s sick, i mean medically sick

  171. I only saw the late stages of the game, but I gotta say its good to see Bynum lasting that long (I think he played in the high 40’s in minutes) and contributing with his energy on defense and rebounding late in the game. He looks healthy.

    Of course, he was more like option #3 behind Kobe and LO on the offensive end, and he missed a couple late free throws, but given what a lot of us were expecting from Bynum before the season started, that was a very encouraging performance. It’s obvious that he’s ready to be a legit starting center for a championship team. If he learns how to pass out of double teams, look out.

  172. Darius,
    I agree with your comments, except the last one. The Lakers have been getting their opponents best shot for the last 28 years. The Lakers are glamor and success over that time – the Celtics are not, incidentally. During that time it has been a feather-in-the-cap for any average team to beat the Lakers – especially true since 2000.

    Even during our down years we got the opponents best shot because they wanted payback for the times we embarrassed them. When they didn’t give their best they got beat – see the raptors and 81pts.

    This is just who the Lakers are today and this year is really no different than last year, in that regard.

  173. 176) Kobe being sick is not the cause of his style of play last night. There is 10-15% of the time that he doesn’t involve his teammates; when he is having a good night, it doesn’t matter. When he isn’t, it costs them some wins, probably several a year. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that he will change at this point in his career.

  174. Look, I love Kobe’s game and I fully understand that he was sick last night and he still put up some awesome numbers. I also always advocate the long season approach.

    But last night was the bad Kobe in the second half and OT. It was the kind of bad Kobe that does affect season long progress. Hopefully for the good. Because he took it personal and he didn’t control the game and expend his energy wisely. Knowing that he’s sick and has a tougher defender on him, he needed to work the offense more. Instead he went into hero mode. I would have loved to have seen more two man game with Bynum or tri sets where he gets the ball in the paint. Anything that allows him to be more efficient and expend less energy. Kobe has to learn to recognize when he doesn’t have it. He’s 30 and in fabolous shape, but he still needs to pace himself especially when weak.

    It’s also along the lines of how I never really have that big of an issue with physical mistakes but hate mental mistakes. Kobe did not play smart. If he plays smarter, it’s easier for him and the rest of the team. He’s the one that should be setting the example. For sheer spectacle, I love his hero mode when he’s on fire. But he needs to know when to pull back too.

    Darius, although I agree about stops examples you cited, there were also a few instances OKC got completely wide open looks because of gambling and poor rotations by Lakers. I’d say there was equal amounts of unforced errors and good stops by the boys in gold.

    Again, all this is not to bash on Kobe or go into panic mode. Its to point out things to watch for and hope for improvement over the course of the season. Or in Kobe’s case, as he realizes his athletic mortality and how he adjusts. It’s going to be a roller coaster ride. Just like any good ride, moments of sheer terror alternating with glee and exuberance. Enjoy the ride, scream your heart out and hope you pull into the station without a heart attack.

  175. Wow. Our bench play is dismal. It’s still too early in the season to throw them under the bus, so let’s hope for some improvement.

    Darius – I agree with you 100% on the Bynum “black hole” comment. The problem with passing to Bynum is that he will ALWAYS shoot the ball.

  176. Phil needs to trust the bench and give these guys some burn. They are either going to stink up the place or perform very well.

    This same bench helped the Lakers get 65 wins last season and the title. I think they have it in them. They usually need a starter caliber player on the floor with them. Put Odom back with the bench or have Bynum out there with them and things get a lot easier.

    The season is young, people. We can’t worry about everything. Sure the Celtics look like maniacs right now. But it is not how you look in November. It is about how you look in the Spring. I’d rather the Lakers struggle a little now so they can fire on all cylinders come May and June.

  177. Darius, Bynum shooting the ball is a good thing. It is a desirable outcome. His stats this season are very, very good.

    FG: 33-57 for .579%
    FT: 17-22 for .773%
    TS%: 62.2%

    Kobe’s numbers are not at that level, efficiency wise.

    FG: 41-96 for .427%
    FT: 40-46 for .870%
    TS%: 53.8%

    At the moment, Bynum should be our number one scoring option. He is working hard, running the floor, finishing well, playing defense, and rebounding.

    And, fouls against Kobe are typically made by a wing player. Fouls against Bynum are made by a big. Who do you want in more foul trouble? The opposing center, or the opposing point guard?

    The Lakers, to no one’s actual surprise, are a far better team when they use the triangle as intended: To create high percentage shots, either lay ups and dunks, or open shots from the three point line.

    Kobe is amazing, in that he makes mid range 2 pointers worth the effort at all, but even Kobe is at his best when he mixes in drives, 3 pointers, and trips to the free throw line.

    Of course, at the moment the Lakers are not doing very well in the offensive categories to begin with. 15th in overall TS% with 53.5 and 19th in overall offensive efficiency with 99.3 points per 100 possessions.

    It is early, and it is obvious we miss Gasol.

  178. I understand the criticism of Kobe last night because he doing the one on one thing with Thabo, but give the guy a break. He was pretty sick just a few hours before the game and even with some mistakes down the stretch, he STILL hit some huge shots when we needed them most, which I believe Darius also mentioned.

    And although he was visibly angry out there near the end, I think he contained his emotions fairly well considering that he was getting no love from the officials last night. For some reason, Etan Thomas is incapable of committing a foul against Kobe. Not only was there that inexplicable no call at the end of the half where he flat out mugged Kobe, but also the play during a critical moment near the end where Kobe was driving baseline and Thomas just knocked him out of bounds-no foul once again. On the very next play on the other end, Fisher got a ticky tack touch foul 30 feet away from the basket. With ridiculous calls like that (or lack there of), it’s no wonder that Kobe was getting a tad frustrated.

  179. Bynum is playing good ball right now. He is shooting a high percentage and playing decent defense most of the time. The problem he has (which will probably improve with time) is that he does not read the defense very well. He tries to force things sometimes when instead he should pass back out of the post and than work to get better position. He also needs to recognize where the second defender is coming from better to prevent getting stripped, and recognize where cutters are going to be. This is something that will improve as the season and his career progresses.

  180. I just want to clarify my thoughts on Bynum. I agree that he’s been very efficient scoring the ball and that he’s evolving quite nicely as a post scorer. He’s shown a polish and smoothness evident in players that go on to be 20+ point scorers nightly. That said, scoring is only one aspect of post offense (an important one, but only one).

    Let me explain, Bynum (like Pau, but unlike Kobe) gets most of his post touches in the hub of the Triangle (on the strong side where he is flanked by 2 wing players). When the ball is entered into the post from this side, there are a multitude of cuts and options for passes on both the strong and weak side. Bynum rarely utilizes these options and mostly waits for the side to clear so he can go one on one. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s a viable option and he’s good at it. But, in order for our offense to run at a higher level with even more efficiency and contributions from other players, there also has be passing from this position on the court when the options present themselves. Gasol, Walton, even Kobe pass from this position more than Bynum. I just want to see a bit more of it from ‘Drew – hence the black hole comment.

    All that said, I think this will come. Karl Malone and Shaq are classic examples of players that had difficulty with post passing early in their careers (especially out of the double team). As Bynum gets more experience in the offense and gets used to having help defenders in close proximity to him, I do think he’ll improve and help us more in this area. But, it’s no coincidence (at least to me) that at the end of games Pau is still receiving post entries and last night Bynum rarely got that same consideration. It’s because at this stage of their careers, Andrew is a bucket getter and Pau is a creator of offense for others as well as a bucket getter.

  181. The bottom line is this: Kobe doesn’t have to be Mamba in the 4th quarter for this team to win games on the road. He makes mistakes. Always has. He sometimes works out of the triangle. No surprises there. Sometimes he gets himself in trouble with 1:1 competitions. Nothing new. He will win the game for us down the stretch or lose it for us. Its been that way for 10 years. It’s like the Yankees and Mariano Rivera, and nobody’s about to question Mo Rivera given his body of work. So why question Kobe for not playing like an MVP on the 4th game of the season?

    Come spring, nobody will even remember this game was ever played.

  182. Some big picture comments:

    Agree about the confidence LO is showing (airball free throws notwithstanding)…but to me the place where he is absolutely saving the Lakers is offensive rebounds. He has been creating extra possessions for us that are extremely important as we struggle to integrate Ron-Ron and get into a flow offensively.

    Nothing on the team is really concerning me too much after 4 games, however….

    1. Sasha looks sooooooooo lost.

    2. Odom to the bench will help, but the players everybody’s mentioned still need to step it up, at least “to the mean.”

    3. Boston is 5-0 and has the look…….

    4. It’s a long season, and Kobe needs to pick stretches within games and within the season to ride Bynum offensively…the passing will come with consistent touches.

  183. Are some of you people serious?

    Stop whining about Kobe. Bynum should be our #1 option? Huh? Bynum is able to be as efficient because he *isn’t* the #1 option. Until he can catch the ball cleanly and be more decisive with the ball, he is NOT a #1 option. Who cares if Kobe struggled, or gets too into proving a point sometimes. It’s Kobe. Take the good with the bad. The man has led us to 2 straight Finals, and won One in the past 2 years.

    Every. Single. Year. It’s the same stuff with Lakers fans. Too many of you only see the game as it happens and forget about the big picture. One game does not make a season and many other team would have lost last night. We didn’t. We won. Against a team EVERYONE is picking to make noise. A team obviously amped up like it was the Finals.

  184. I think I’m getting too frustrated with other Lakers fans. I need to relax.

  185. Wondahbap, +10

    Not even a championship is good enough for some fans. Amazing. They have expectations for perfection that will just never never be met. And all this complaining/criticism comes before Pau has even played a single game this season! We’re talking about the 2nd best player on our team and one of the most versatile, efficient offensive players in the NBA. Obviously, his return will make everything run smoother and take some pressure of Kobe. But of course, people have to hit the panic button prematurely. I share your frustrations. Completely.

  186. wondahbap,
    Good observation. Good blog sites – even this one – can drive a strategically oriented fan totally nuts. Every game is the finals and there is no moderation or modulation.

  187. 176. Its because he was ill that I demand even more that he shared the ball.

    190. Wondahbab. I don’t know if its because I’m a basketball coach that I’m allways looking for excelence. 2 weeks ago the team I coach the game by 50 points and I still wasn’t happy because I thought It could be done better. Never sit on the bench, never stop screaming, because every second on the court counts to grow as a player and as a team.

    Kobe isn’t perfect but is his desire to achieve perfection that motivates him to be better than he was yesterday.

    I’m not trying to panic or something, But you have to aim at the top by doing a litle bit more every single time. What if your son comes home with a C in his last exam, are you happy because he passed? Thats all you ask him?

    Well my Lakers got a C+ against the Thunder and I want more.

  188. We all need something to talk about, it can’t be calm reasonable discussion all the time – that’s just boring. 😛

  189. posts 191 and 192: on point.

    Panic mode shouldn’t be allowed at least until we have a major injury, a 3-4 game losing streak, or a late season blowout by a contender. I should throw suspension in there as well now that we’ve got Artest. Who, by the way, is showing me only good things so far.

    There are way more positives than negatives, to me, at this point:

    -Bynum is clearly ready
    -Artest is clearly going to fit
    -Pau hasn’t even played and we’re winning close games
    -Odom picking up where he left off last season
    -Kobe’s new post moves are Jordanesque
    -Phil looks healthy
    -Shannon Brown is back and dunking
    -We jut got our rings a week ago

  190. Wondahap, Daniel, I think there’s a huge difference between whining and pointing out things that can be improved.

    I’m happy to see the win last night, loved the championship as a culmination of a two year journey. But this team is not in rhythm right now. It does us no good to be either an extreme homer or troll hater by just saying live with it or hate it with no explanation. Plenty of shades of grey in between.

    Again, I love Kobe’s game and have for years. I’ve defended him for a long time. But he has to recognize when he can and can’t take over. I don’t care if he’s done it in the past, doesn’t mean it’s right. I long for him to understand that line better because it will mean more magical moments for me as a Laker fan.

    Imagine Kobe consistently understanding where that line lies. His energy and efficiency will rise. Which means he can hit even more dagger shots. The ones that give me goosebumps and make me leap out of my couch screaming.

    When he loses sight of that line and takes too much on, he has less energy and ability to deliver those kinds of moments.

    That said, personally I will reiterate I’m always a big picture, long view kind of guys. I’m enjoying the ride.

  191. Wondahbap, we will have to respectfully agree to disagree.

    Bynum is playing well because he is big, athletic, is running the floor, has good hands, and is finishing decisively.

    Would I like to see him pass out of more double teams? Sure.

    But, he is getting an assist or two a night, a block and a steal per game, nine rebounds and only two turnovers in about thirty touches a night.

    Seems really good to me.

    I know it is early, and I even explained it was early, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to see the Lakers go their absolute strength as an offense, and that is post play.

    Get the ball inside is the battle cry. Bynum happens to be converting those inside touches most efficiently in the first four games.

    I will never understand professionals going away from what works and trying the things that get worse results.

    At the very least make your opponents adjust to your strength, make them show they can counter it, and then go with the next option.

  192. Its not that fans are seeking perfection, its fans wanting Kobe to realize when somebody on the team, on a given night, might be a better option than him dribbling the air out of the ball and taking a low percentage shot. KB as the leader of the team should not be so single minded to think that every night is his night to demoralize the individual who is guarding him. Nobody on here would rather have anybody other than #24 on their team, but its frustrating to see what should have been an easy win turn into a I cant believe we are about to get beat by OKC. Its not a jump off the boat moment, but team ball has to be played in order for us to win games against quality opponnents like (Boston, Orlando, Denver, San Antonio). Our bad habits now competing with inferior teams will only be magnified times 10 when we begin to play more challenging opponents.

    I believe as long as Pau is out of the lineup we need one of the starters either Artest are LO to come off the bench to help solidify play. We are getting killed in every facet when the second lineup enters the game. Let WoW start at the 2 move KB to 3 and decide between LO or RonRon at the 4.

  193. I like J’s comment, 183. Middle-of-the-road, and from what I saw, very accurate.

    Definitely agree with Darius’s observation on Bynum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pleased with his improvement, but the next step for him will be his post passing, and I also think he’ll get there.

    Off-topic, but Stein’s got an semi-interesting piece up on ESPN. I didn’t realize the league had brought in new rims this year.

  194. @192, I get it. Of course Laker expectations are unreasonably high & many of us get overly worked up over things that matter little in the post-season, but I know for me one factor is that it just BOTHERS me that Boston is playing such stifling D and looking so good so early. It doesn’t make us less than, just human.

    • When comparing Bynum and Kobe’s shooting figures, one must consider the load of offense they are requested to take on, and bottom line if Bynum was told to take more shots his shooting percentage would drop, he would not simply take the ones in his comfort zone.

  195. – If anyone thinks that Bynum should be the #1 option solely based on FG%, than you must think that Eric Dampier should be the #1 option in Dallas over Dirk and Dalembert should be the #1 option in Philly over Iggy.

  196. I think Kobe’s mentality is – “if you guard me with one player (eg. Sefolosha), I’m gonna shoot and force you to put more defenders on me. When you put more defenders on me, than I will make you pay by creating easy buckets for my teammates”. This was his mentality last season, and it led to a championship.

    We saw a great balance between the “gunner” Kobe and the “facilitator” Kobe throughout the playoff series against Denver. He basically took what the defense gave him. His passing became lethal late in the series when Karl was forced to throw 2 or 3 defenders at Kobe on the perimeter, which created layups and dunks for his teammates. Karl would NOT have thrown so many defenders at Kobe if Kobe did not start out the series in his gunner mode. People seem to be freaking out that Kobe is shooting the ball too much, but I would argue that being a gunner will help his facilitating in the long run. I have no doubt that we’re going to see a healthy balance between both versions of Kobe throughout the year, especially after Gasol returns and Artest gets more comfortable in the offense.

  197. About Gasol; Spain’s biggest sports newspaper claims he’s got a tear the size of a lentil in his biceps femoris. He’s most likely to come back vs the Suns.
    What worries me, is that it seems that Pau:
    1. Is upset with PJ, because he asked him (and at first he got them) at the beginning of the camp, for three more resting days, but PJ changed his mind arguing that he needed Pau from the very beginning to establish the team dynamic.
    2. Is very dissapointed with the Lakers medical crew, because of the late diagnosis and the “don’t do a thing” policy they’ve taken in his case. He’s fliying his personal physical therapist from Barcelona to take over his treatment.