The Lebron Experience aka Lakers vs. Cavs

Zephid —  January 21, 2010

So I went to visit a buddy from undergrad who now goes to med school in Cleveland, and since I grew up in Pennsylvania, I’ve never been to a Lakers game live.  Thus, I decided it would be a cool idea to get tickets to Lakers-Cavs and we could go see the game together.  My buddy isn’t too big of a basketball fan, but he was up for it since I was so excited to go.

We ate before the game and went to Quicken Loans Arena, arriving at about 6:15.  The game didn’t start till 8:00, but we figured that it would be better to get there early and see warm-ups than to get there late and miss some of the game.  Well, we ended up getting there too early, and we had to wait outside the gates for a good 15 minutes.  We finally got in and got to our seats, which were in the 2nd level, 13 rows up (in other words, way up there).  However, I was so psyched to see the Lakers live that it didn’t matter to me; I was sitting on the edge of my seat trying to make out who was who out on the court.

The Lakers were on the near side and the Cavs were on the far side.  For the Lakers, it was mostly the bench guys on the court: Shannon Brown was practicing jumpers on the wing, Sasha and Fisher were practicing threes in some sort of competition where they shoot around the three point line till they miss, Josh Powell was working on his pick and pops, and Bynum was working on his low-post moves.  Oh yea, and Ammo was running along the midcourt line, for some unknown reason.  Shortly after that, Jordan Farmar came out and started warming up as well.

There were a few striking things I noticed during warm-ups.  First of all, Derek Fisher didn’t miss.  It was just three after three after three, all of them going in.  Second, Farmar’s “warm-up” consisted of near half-court pull-up jumpers.  You wonder where the PUJIT’s come from?  Well Farmar practices them; really bad, long distance, off the dribble PUJIT’s, at least before this game.  After a while, I zoned out from staring, and just sorta sat there waiting for the other guys to show up.

All the Lakers and Cavs left the court, presumably for their pre-game talks with their coaching staffs while I continued to zone.  About 30 minutes before tip-off, both teams returned to the court with their full rosters, forming lay-up lines as I screamed like a giddy school girl when I saw Kobe.  Then, it happened.

I wasn’t quite sure why at first, considering there was a bunch of ambient noise in the arena, but the crowd just roared.  Then I saw it was because he had arrived: Lebron.  The crowd was screaming with adulation, and Lebron ate it up.  He strutted; he had fun with the crowd; he really gave them a show.  After his ritual half-court shots which sent the crowd into an absolute frenzy (one of the last ones finally banked in), the two teams got ready for tip-off.

Every time the big screen showed Lebron, the crowd erupted with applause.  It didn’t matter what he was doing or where he was; the crowd loved him.  When J.J. Hickson was dunking on the Lakers, the applause didn’t even come close to when the big screen showed Lebron.  And when Lebron had his two And1′s in the 1st half, the crowd absolutely exploded.  It didn’t matter what the rest of the Cavs did; everything revolved around Lebron.  The Cavs take the lead in the middle of the third after trailing the whole game?  Not even 50% of the sound for a random Lebron appearance on the big screen.  The only thing that came close?  Anderson Varejao’s game-winning foul draw.  Otherwise, the Cavs fans simply couldn’t cheer enough for Lebron.  I don’t think I’ll ever hear a crowd cheer louder than when Lebron hit the jumper late in the 4th to put the Cavs up by 7.  When your pants start vibrating, you know it’s loud.

As for the game, I couldn’t really give you any analysis; being there live, I just lost all objectivity and got sucked into the moment.  Every play became larger than it actually was, and every possession seemed like life or death.  It didn’t help that you get almost no stats and can’t keep track of anything, but the whole experience just became surreal after a while.  I did notice the Shaq repeatedly abused our front line, the Cavs cutters picked our back line of defense apart, and Anderson Varejao did all the little  things to beat our bigs.  But, perhaps the biggest but of all, was that Lebron was able to shoot over our defense, draining multiple threes and jumpers, the part of his game which was perhaps his biggest weakness.

Even though the Lakers lost, being live at this game was an amazing experience.  It was tense throughout, with some pretty decent play from both sides.  However, I think the Laker fan I met in the bathroom who almost got into a fight with a men’s room full of Cavs fans put it best:  “It ain’t gonna matta’ when Lebron goes to New York and ya’ll got nothin’ to cheer about.”

If Lebron leaves Cleveland, basketball will be dead in that city.  They adore him, maybe more than LA adores Kobe.  Whoever wins the championship this year, does it really matter when you think about it on this scale?  If the Lakers do win this year, sure we’ll be happy.  But if Cleveland loses this year, Lebron may leave because of it.  And if he’s ever gone, I asked myself honestly: what will they have to cheer for?  Really makes you think about what’s important in sports.

Zephid

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66 responses to The Lebron Experience aka Lakers vs. Cavs

  1. Zephid, I live in Kentucky and I was gonna get tickets but online they were so insanely priced I decided it might be better to watch it at home. I was also worried I would get into a fight with Cleveland fans because I do so on a regular basis here be it at my gym or just watching games around Cavs fans, because for some reason a bunch of Ohio hoodlums like to go to UK for school so I put up with their crap on a regular basis. I’m jealous you got to experience it though, I hope it didn’t put a dent in your pockets. If we face them in the Finals I may have to splurge by spending a bunch of money and go to one game.

    By the way did you notice how obnoxious and annoying their fans are? It’s common knowledge in this area that Ohio fans are complete idiots and arrogant over nothing when it comes to sports (Bengals, Buckeyes and Cavs) yes embarassing I know, you would think all of those programs have been Champions every year in their respective leagues with how their fans brag about them.

  2. If I could rec this I would. I was hoping to get this kind of post knowing you were heading to the game, just the little behind the scenes stuff you see when you get there early. No Enforcer sighting?

    Oh yea, and Ammo was running along the midcourt line, for some unknown reason.

    Seriously, how could we ever trade this guy?

    Also, that note about Farmar scares me. I can understand that if you’re Lebron James and want to preen for the fans. But Farmar? Aren’t there more important things he should be practicing? That involve basketball?

  3. Congrats on going to your first Laker game. I get to go to my second next week in Philly.

    Too bad you had to see this performance though…

  4. The only thing that matters in sports is winning. Nobody ever remembers second place.

  5. I’m really jealous of what you were able to experience. Love him or hate him, LeBron is a larger-than-life personality both on and off the court. I want him to stay in Cleveland.

    Still waiting for Kobe to tone down on his sheer volume of shots especially with his injury. When you’ve got Gasol, Bynum, and Odom as your teammates, it doesn’t make sense for you jack up 30+ shots. That’s reserved for players like Monta Ellis.
    Granted other players need to be more aggressive and it just frustrates the heck out of me when they give in to Kobe’s will and force-feed him instead of running the offense.

    I’d hoped that Pau would knock down those two FTs but it seems like that 2OT game in SAC is still on the back of his mind.

    And regards to Varejao, that man never gives up on any possession. In all the CLE games I watched this year, he fights for the offensive rebound off a free throw in nearly every situation. LeBron is lucky he has a player like Varejao on his squad.

  6. This would explain why Farmar was taking such long 3′s.

    “Lakers G Jordan Farmar(notes) won $1,200 from his teammates in a half-court shooting contest at the conclusion of the morning shootaround.”

  7. Anyone know anything about why Bryant and Gasol were arguing during a timeout late in the 4th?

  8. I’m with the guys above – I hope LeBron stays in Cleveland – I cannot imagine how gutted the city would be if he were to leave.

    Unrelatedly, even though I hate him and the adulation poured on him by the media, is there any doubt that if he remains healthy, Lebron has a legitimate shot at being the greatest of all time?

  9. This is almost as sucky as Simmons’, “I got a hard-on for Lebron” article…and that’s saying something…

  10. 9. Man did I hate that simmons article.

  11. Anybody follow Hollinger’s stats? We’ve been #2 behind cleveland for a while, including heading into last night’s game.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/powerrankings

    Now we’re #1. After the loss. ?!?.

  12. First off, great report Zephid. Watching the team live is an experience at any arena. I remember watching the team battle the Warriors up in Oakland during the Shaq/Kobe years and it was always a great experience. I’ve never been to Staples, and while I’m sure home games are epic, I’ve always loved seeing teams play on the road – the opposing fans screaming, seeing the players in a hostile environment, seeing fellow fans of your team wearing the opposition’s colors behind enemy lines…those are great times. Sorry your experience ended with a loss.

  13. Sorry for the double post, but I really liked this excerpt from Dwyer’s BTB column this morning at Ball Don’t Lie:

    “For now, though? Much respect, for both teams. Kobe’s going to have to back off a bit, and stop putting his teammates on blast. He has a top-heavy team, we know the bench is no help, but his helpers at the top need consistent looks in the post. Merely giving this guy credit for playing through the injuries? Those days have to end. Kobe has to play like someone playing through injuries. He’s going to have to stop taking 25+ shots. On this team, he should never have to take that many.

    And Phil Jackson is thinking long-term, which is fantastic. As someone who hated it in winter and … well, there was no “spring” in the regular season in Chicago; but as someone who couldn’t stand the tinkering as a Bulls fan, every year you saw it pay off in the playoffs. Nobody likes to be patient, but everyone likes a winner. And the Lakers are still the class of this league.

    The Cavs? They wanted it, and they took it, and it was great to watch. Here’s hoping they can circle the wagons with a guard or two on the bench.”
    Very fair, I thought.

  14. I don’t know how any real basketball fan could NOT like watching LeBron. He is the most incredible athlete I have seen since Jordan in his prime. I think what gets on people’s nerves is all the press he gets. Journalist fall over themselves just to be buddy buddy with LeBron. But, truthfully, it was the same with Jordan. Media-wise MJ was the last NBA player to get the treatment LeBron does.

    Even with that said, the Cavs still have to keep a decent team around him. Hickson seems like a keeper. Mo seems a lot more effective this season. Of course, we have to see what he does in the playoffs. I am very sure LeBron stays in Cleveland. He can do no wrong there. New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles would not be as spellbound.

    Lastly, I am not giving up on the Lakers. They have some real issues, no doubt. But there is still time to get it together. I sure hope they can salvage the rest of this road trip.

  15. I HATE hearing Kobe took too many shots blah blah blah, did anyone watch the Christmas day game or the game last night. The other Laker players shy away from the ball when they Lakers needs points, or they don’t assert themselves enough on offense. Without Kobe the Lakers wouldn’t even be in the game in the 4th quarter, he took shots because people like Pau were letting Shaq bully them around. Unfortunately it’s the same way as in the finals two years ago against Boston, Kobe had zero help so he had to do it all himself. I would personally take Kobe shooting anywhere than to feed the ball to Pau in the post against Shaq where he may or may not make a strong move around the basket. Until the supporting cast proves they can be reliable against good teams, this trend will continue, and when I say good teams I mean guys who can match up with our bigs like Cleveland and Boston.

  16. @14, Thanks for not giving up.

    I was at arguably the best Lakers regular season road game in recent memory, Kobes 61 vs the Knicks last year. The truth is, it’s hard to say that was realy a road game, since half the crowd consisted of Lakers fans (or at least Kobe fans). As I live on the east coast, I’ve been to many more road games then home games, and I have to say that I like the road games better. It’s not hard as a Lakers fan, but I try to look for the other Lakers fans in the crowd and it’s almost like they’re your family with a common purpose.

  17. 13) – I agree with Dwyer’s point on Kobe’s number of shots 100%! On the previous thread one of the posters noted that Kobe took more shots than Gasol, Odom, and Bynum combined last night! The superman Kobe days of 2006 and 2007 are over. When Kobe plays injured it often shows up in his production. I am not sure if it is all him or if the other guys don’t want to step up. But the Lakers front court has to get more shots.

    Also, the Lakers have to make a point of getting Bynum more easy shots. It would be good to see more alley oops and dives to the rim. On many nights the Lakers are not getting the easy points. Simply trying to post up and over power guys like Shaq and Z won’t get it. You have to make those guys move their feet.

  18. I was listening to pregame on the radio yesterday, and John Ireland echoed your post Zephid. Thanks for the in-arena report. It’s no surprise that Lebron is more to Cleveland than Kobe is to us — heck, how many people in Southern California aren’t even basketball fans? There’s a lot of us, yeah, but it doesn’t compare to how much Lebron embodies that city. If he leaves, the city will be hard-pressed to match its current success, if even half that.

    The mean little guy on my shoulder wishes that he left, but that’s not something you wish on willing patrons :P You gotta wonder just how much Lebron realizes that city idolizes him, and how much (or less, even) love he would get from a bigger market, and how much that fuels him vs. money.

  19. Thanks for the post Zephid! Now I’m even more excited to go to my first live Laker game ever. :)

  20. Couple points…

    I think we were all in some opium dream to pretend that Artest could guard LeBron effectively. Maybe the Artest of 7 years ago would be more than a speedbump, but right now Artest couldn’t guard Lebron in a phonebooth. (The good news is nobody can)

    Second, Bynum is intimidated of Shaq, don’t know why since I remember the time he dunked on him and they got into a little kurfuffel a few years back, but Bynum is very hesistant around him, it’s especially weird since Bynum played so well against Tim Duncan a couple weeks back.

    Third, Gasol has world’s of trouble against the Cavs. Shaq and Ilgastskas length give him problems and Gasol has lost faith in his 15 footer. Against the Cavs he looks like that player who got pushed around against the Celtics in the finals, not good.

    The good news is the Cavs have nobody that force Kobe into tough shots, but I think you would have to make the Cavs the favorites if they played in the final…

  21. 17) – LeBron knows it. The guy probably could run for governor of Ohio when he retires and win by a landslide. He knows he owns that entire region. He’s not going anywhere.

    Also, there are a lot of people in Los Angeles who pride themselves on being contrarians. They think it is cool NOT to like the Lakers. I can’t count the number Laker haters I know personally who were born and raised here. It’s just they way we are wired here.

  22. i’m from manila originally where none of the fans have base cities to cheer for and alot of my friends that are cleveland fans are really lebron fans that had never seen a cleveland game pre 2003. (unless it was against the bulls in the 90s). i really hope he leaves just so i can watch all my friends jump ship.

  23. Like it or not, the Cavs were missing their #2 option last night and still pulled a win. THAT’S THE SCARY PART.

    i know there’s still a lot of season left, but last night left me with the same worried feeling I got when we dropped two in-season games to the C’s two season ago.

    I know, I know. We shouldn’t panic. But that’s how I felt.l

  24. Kurt, that’s an interesting post, but the Lakers shouldnt have to double Shaq. The guy is easily guarded by the likes of Chuck Hayes and other undersized Centers. We shouldnt have to double because that leaves open guys cutting and open for layups and or jump shots. I’ve watched the Cavs play all season long and Shaq has struggled against teams with less than adequate centers.

  25. Prince wrote a song for the Minnesota Vikings called “Purple and Gold.” How dare he!

    http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/dpp/sports/prince-reveals-song-for-vikings-saints-game

  26. #25. Eric,
    Speaking to that point on defending Shaq, this is where the Lakers’ vaunted length (and body types of their bigs) is a hindrance. Shaq has always been bothered by players that are strong, but also have low centers’ of gravity. You mentioned Chuch Hayes (Kendrick Perkins is another guy that comes to my mind), but this goes all the way back to guys like Malik Rose giving Shaq issues in those Lakers/Spurs series earlier in the decade. The Lakers don’t have one of those types of players and instead have lanky, long athletic type players. They don’t have the strong base to battle Shaq for positioning (on defense). You see how this affects the Lakers’ bigs on offense as well as guys like Perkins, Hayes, etc can get underneath our guys and root them out of post by bodying them up. In a sense, it’s like the battle of offensive and defensive lineman in the NFL – the guys that get the lowest and utilize their strength will usually win that fight in the trenches.

    That’s not to say that our length isn’t an advantage in the big picture. But, against specific types of players it’s not as advantageous as it is against the majority of guys that we’ll face.

  27. Let’s see how the Lakers fare against the Celtics, Nuggets and Spurs from this point on. It sure looks like the Cav’s front court is kryptonite for the Lakers bigs.

    Kobe shot way too much, but who else was stepping up?

  28. Eric, I completely agree with you. That’s the point I tried to make last night. Why are we the only team in the league with bigs who can’t guard shaq?! It’s not like the dude’s dropping 25 and 12 on the rest of the league anymore! He pretty much does nothing! Yes, he’s still a monster when it comes to shear size and strength, but his skill level has SEVERELY diminished. So why do we need to double him and leave their shooters wide open?! I think Cleveland is in like the top 3 in 3-pt. shooting percentage, so the last thing we want to do is leave their shooters wide open by doubling shaq. As I side, playing defense comes down to desire and will. It’s not as glorious as scoring 3o pts. in a game. I just don’t know if Bynum has that mentality on defense. So many times he just seems to care about the glory of scoring. I could be wrong, but that’s my impression of him.

  29. is there anyone here who still wants to defend Hollinger’s ridiculous power rankings?
    (I specifically ridicule today’s reversal of the top two spots!? If you look a little deeper, the games that dropped off the last ten (or 11) for Cleveland recently were their two wins over Atlanta.)

  30. Also, quick point about the Farmar half-court shots: the guy has made an inordinate number of quarter/half buzzer beaters from there. I’m not going to hate too much on that.

  31. 24) – The difference is the C’s were head and shoulders above the rest of the league that year. They dominated the regular season wire to wire. This Cavs team has looked good for about one month. Not to mention they are still very dependent on some aging players.

    My point is there is still no guarantee they will be there at the end. They still will have to deal with Boston and either Orlando or Atlanta in the playoffs. Those are not automatic series wins for Cleveland. We have to be careful about crowing them in January. Just like they were not as bad as everyone made them out to be when they struggled at the beginning of the season, they are not the ’96 Bulls now.

    The Lakers for all their struggles still have an easier path to the Finals. That doesn’t mean they will win. It just means there are a lot less chestnuts in their path when compared to Cleveland.

  32. It would be good to see more alley oops and dives to the rim

    ___

    Right–I said this a couple of weks ago and suggested these lineups:

    Walton/Odom/Bynum/Farmar/Brown

    and

    Artest/Bryant/Gasol/Fisher/Vujacic

    Obviously, you have to think about matchups, D, etc, but I think these units would mesh well, give some different looks, get some nice action in the paint for Bynum, and give Bryant and Gasol a little more rest, which I think they need.

    Failing that, I think I’d like to see Walton and Bynum on the floor together some each game, perhaps with Artest sliding to the 2 and Kobe, again, getting a little more rest. Walton’s interior passing helps Bynum.

  33. Darius, I’ve seen people who don’t have low centers of gravity guard Shaq. Bynum and Gasol are more than capable they just let Shaq get into their heads last night just like on Christmas day. I’ve seen guys like Jermaine O’Neal and Nazr Mohammed and Marc Gasol all give him trouble and even players who are long and lanky who just use their quickness to get buy him and get Shaq into foul trouble. OH and Bynum is a beast his body type and base is just as solid as the likes of Perkins. He is solid and big enough to guard Shaq, the quicker centers is what gives him trouble, and I dont think anyone here would dare call Shaq quick.

  34. 1) No way LeBron stays that hot & clutch for a 7-game series. He has improved his jump shot but it’s still streaky. As Kurt said in the previous post, LeBron was 3-13 on jump shots through the first three quarters.

    2) We all know Phil uses these regular season meetings to experiment and see what works against a team. Why would you want to give away the strategies that give you the edge in a game that holds virtually no relevance to the playoff match-up? I don’t think we’ve seen the best defensive schemes employed for a full 48 minutes on the hardwood yet. We will once the playoffs start.

    3) A couple of bounces our way (Pau’s free throws going in, defensive rebound instead of giving up offensive board to Varejao, etc) and the game may have been a Laker win.

    Let’s hope we go 7-0 the rest of the trip and not spend too much time fretting over regular season losses to non-rival teams.

  35. Eric is right, even guys like Noah from Chicago give Shaq trouble and he has a similar body type as Gasol. The question we have to ask ourselves is why is our big men’s desire to play defense inconsistent so inconsistent. Because Gasol played Howard solid the other night, yet Shaq gave him trouble last night? Doesnt make sense.

  36. Interesting perspective. I also hope LeBron stays in Cleveland. It just wouldn’t be right him playing for another team, just like it wouldn’t be right if Kobe played for another team.

  37. Zephid, since you were at the game and can’t provide an analysis, let me help: Pau Gasol regressed to the soft player that he was in 2008. A horrible, horrible game by a guy this team needs to play strong. The two weak layup attempts (both blocked) late in the game, followed by 2 misses from the line (the result, he admitted later, of being psyched out by his poor play) really turned the tide.

    Kobe sees what is going on and he is concerned. This year’s team is playing like the 2008 edition rather than last year’s hungrier and tougher version, and that bodes very poorly for the playoffs….

  38. I love Hollinger’s ratings precisely because of the 1-2 flip that occurred after this game. I’m far from a math guru, but common sense tells you that his formula gives you its results from the teams’ performance averages. Compare the Cavs and the Lakers in these categories:

    1) MAR = AVG scoring margin – Lakers’ is higher on AVERAGE (+6.74 VS +6.43)

    2) SOS = AVG winning % of opponents played – Lakers have a better record while having played better teams (.517% VS .495%)

    3) MAR (L25%) = AVG scoring margin of last 25% of games played – again, Lakers outscore their opponents more than Cavs (+6.18 VS +5.45)

    4) SOS (L25%) = AVG winning % of opponents played over last 25% games played – again, Lakers have played tougher opponents (.576% VS .508%)

    His power ratings may not be perfect but I don’t think anyone else has a better statistics-driven predictor of success. Last season the Lakers had a better scoring margin than the Magic, and they won the Finals. The year prior to that, Celts had a better scoring margin than the Lakers, and they won. In 2007 (the year Hollinger introduced his power rankings) SA Spurs had a much better scoring margin average than the team they swept, the Cavs. His record so far has been 3 for 3. That’s pretty good.

  39. as much as I don’t care for LBJ’s antics and the media’s slavish devotion to him, I have to say that I think it’s true he does make his teammates better, more so than Kobe does. I think it comes down to a matter of personality. LBJ is a Magic type personality, Kobe is more of a Kareem Worthy type. Kobe’s drive and intensity seem just as likely to intimidate his teammates and make them pull back as much as inspire them, whereas LBJ’s exuberance and enthusiasm (or antics and showboating if you’re not a fan) rub off on his teammates and help them play better as a team. Kobe is the stern disciplinary father; LBJ is the encouraging old brother. But unlike your brother, LBJ can ball.

    LBJ was criticized early on for being unselfish, but in retrospect, whether by natural inclination or design. it looks like he hit on a good long term strategy. LBJ seems to have learned earlier in his career than Jordan and Kobe that he needs a team to win. Kobe says the right things, but I don’t think he believes it in his core. He wants to win, and he prefers to win with his teammates, but when push comes to shove, he still tries to do it all himself. There’s no doubting Kobe’s basketball IQ. Where he falls short is in EQ –emotional intelligence. He doesn’t seem to realize the negative pattern he and his teammates get into, or if he does, is unable to break out of it. Kobe could be taking a few games off and rest now. No one could fault him. He has like 7 fingers left. It’d be a great opportunity to show his teammates what they can do without him. But that just won’t sit with Kobe b/c he wants to win NOW. It’s interesting that Phil implied that it’s his teammates’ responsibility not to feed Kobe the ball when he demands it, rather than Kobe’s responsibility not to shoot when he doesn’t have it. I think that’s b/c Phil recognizes a certain mental block on the part of Kobe.

    Anyway, I think our best chance of repeating this year is …. Boston!

  40. yeahbut, based on all of that, the Lakers should have been first *before* last night’s game!!

  41. @38. Wojnarowski column confirms Kobe’s reaction to the loss. If accurate, Kobe’s giving his teammates an earful. (Sorry – Don’t know how to save it as a link.)

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=As8tiP3MdIiplGZYoALj6z45nYcB?slug=aw-kobelebronw012210&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

  42. PS Guess it automatically appears as a link. Nice!

  43. Eric,
    A couple of things. First, I agree with you that the players that you mentioned can/have given Shaq problems. I also agree with Lakers8884 comment about Noah. My comment was based off general observations, not any concrete rule of thumb.

    Yes, Gasol and Bynum can do better than they did last night. It just didn’t happen. To me, it’s not the end of the world nor an indictment of them as players nor a harbinger of future results. They were in foul trouble. They got bullied around by (still) one of the leagues most physical players. As I said earlier, I agree that they could have done better, but I won’t jump to conclusions on this either (not to say that you are).

    I would disagree on Bynum’s body type though. Yes he’s 280 lbs, but it’s very proportioned and he has a bigger upper body. He’s not sitting on Yao Ming’s base, that’s for sure. In fact, I’ve read articles that talk about Bynum’s pre-dispostion to knee injuries based off his long-ish legs that aren’t as thickly built.

    Also, I agree on quickness being a trait that can bother Shaq, but as I stated yesterday, the Cavs were very patient in how they set up Shaq in the post. They did not use a lot of ball reversals (plays that would give the Lakers bigs the chance to beat Shaq to spots and execute a fronting D) and they executued a lot of re-posts where Shaq was able to establish position, pass the ball back out, and then pound our bigs for that extra foot or two of real estate. And while (offensively) I would have liked for Pau/Bynum to use more of their quickness against Shaq, that is a difficult thing to do if your mid range jumpshot is not falling and Shaq is not forced to honor that shot and thus play you closer. A lot of times, Shaq just sagged off, played position D, and bodied our bigs up (and that’s a big body).

    In the end, things went poorly last night. But, we have and will play better and I can hang my hat on that.

  44. Kobe getting angry is good in the sense that there may be more intense, physical practices, which could take the hunger to a new level.

    But it’s bad if he tries to take even more into his hands. I hope he’s aiming part of that anger at himself. Even when he’s on fire, our team’s offense just can’t rely on Kobe’s midrange game. It just can’t sustain itself, not over 7 games. It’s a tough situation, but I’d rather force the ball into our bigs and let them learn how to fight through the contact now, in the regular season, than watch Kobe try to carry this team over and over.

  45. I think it is worth noting that in spite of the closeness of this game, the Lakers scored the exact same number of points (87) as they did the first time, and Shaq, Pau and Kobe all more or less identical box-score lines as they did in the first game. LeBron scored more since Mo Williams was out and Delonte West did nothing. So, I see little progress from 12/25.

    @29, zirk:

    Shaq is averaging a 10.6/6.7 in 22.5 MPG. He is still very dangerous. Since Shaq and Z will not shrink before June, unless the Cavs trade one of them, the Lakers will need to make adjustments on offense, IMO, if they do in fact see the Cavs again. Pau and Andrew need to try to some face up moves, maybe Pau needs to move further away from the hoop, etc.

  46. When Shaq is motivated, he can play fairly well with both his scoring and passing. Still, he doesn’t need to be doubled in my mind. Our bigs should just let him take the 8 foot hook shots because Shaq’s lack of lift makes that shot a lot less effective than before.

    I also agree with Darius that we will play better because both Bynum and Gasol are still learning to play together. I think Kobe can hasten the learning process if he trusted them a bit more. In the game vs. Dallas and Magic, Kobe didn’t score 30+ points and we still won. Of course, Farmar/Brown contributed nothing, so Kobe had to do more. But it’s also Kobe’s fault that he didn’t get his teammates involved early in the game as much.

    As much as I hate the fact that he beat the Lakers last night, I can’t help but marvel at Lebron’s power, speed, and vision. He is truly a special basketball player who will be the best player of all time if he keeps this up. Damn I hate admitting that he’ll be better than Kobe soon, if he’s not already…

  47. Lakers 8884, I actually do think it makes sense. Gasol did not play strong against Howard the other night; instead, Howard’s second half performance can be attributed to two other factors: quick and decisive double teams by Laker teammates that didn’t come in the first half (when Howard destroyed us), and Orlando’s propensity to ignore their best player and put up ridiculous numbers of 3 pointers. Last night, the double teams were terrible: slow and half-hearted, and allowed Shaq to just step right through them.

    I think the trend is quite clear this year, and it is disturbing. Our interior players are just not playing tough, and when they go up against very active or very physical players, they get beaten up. The fact that Pau was able to turn it up last year and show some toughness that he’d never before shown is a hopeful sign for the rest of this season, but the fact that he regressed to the norm is unfortunate if not unsurprising.

    Bynum is a bit of a mystery to me. I don’t see much fire in him, and I don’t really get it. I thought he showed some fire in previous years, and with his health, I expected him to at least try to dominate the paint this year. Instead, I don’t think I’ve seen him make any contested dunks this year, even though he has the size to go through a lot of guys. Frustrating….

  48. I think you can book the Cavs for 1 finals playoff loss following a big win based on their bravado and arrogance alone. Their heads get way to big following “big” wins.

    I also find it hard to believe that PJ wouldn’t be able to adjust over a 7 game series. PJ made adjustment that absolutely turned the tide vs. Denver in the playoffs last year. That series went from very tight in the first few games to just a formality for the Lakers at the end. And that was against Karl who is leaps and bounds ahead of Mike Brown on the totem pole of coaches who can actually coach.

    Worry not my fellow fans. Our side is way more cerebral and during the course of a playoff series that’s worth something, even though it may not show during a “snapshot” game during the season.

  49. this explains Gibson’s late appearance:

    Cavaliers guard Delonte West has broken his left ring finger, becoming the second Cleveland point guard to be injured this week.

    West injured his shooting hand when he started in place of Mo Williams in a win over Los Angeles on Thursday night. Williams could miss up to six weeks after spraining his left shoulder in a game on Tuesday.

    The team said Friday that West will miss Saturday’s game against Oklahoma City. The Cavs do not know how long West could be sidelined. Doctors need to wait a few days for the swelling to go down before they can make a more complete evaluation.

    Daniel Gibson will take over point guard duties until West returns. [AP]

  50. 46. excellent news.

  51. “The last couple weeks, I’ve been hoping to catch some minutes and it looks like now I got my wish,” Gibson said. “I just want to go out there and have fun. That’s going to be my biggest thing, just enjoy the moment. You get these opportunities and when they come you just want to take advantage of them.”

  52. Surely this is a joke statement?

  53. Does anyone else out here think Bynum may be the dumbest player in league history in terms of measuring out his fouls? He commits several dumb fouls in the first Q insuring that he rides the pine, then in the 4th, with 3 mins left and LO on the sidelines waiting to check in for him, he lets Shaq abuse him and doesn’t once foul even once it’s clear he’s beat. I’m sorry, but the guy just bugs the crap out of me.

    (And don’t say Travis Knight was worse– he wasn’t a starter – let alone a *cough* allstar — and couldn’t be expected to stay in games longer than 6 defensive possessions.)

  54. 46, no way this was the same game essentially, because Delonte west contributed nothing in the game. Mo Williams is a sharpshooter and probly would have hit 3 or 4 threes as he always does, Cleveland offensively isn’t half as good as they are when he plays. If he had played it would have probably been a more lopsided loss because Cleveland has better offensive flow when he plays, and that makes Lebron better because he doesn’t have to do it alone.

    Cleveland is one of the best 3 point shooting teams in the league and they struggled last night from outside, if Mo was in there I doubt they would have struggled at all.

  55. Scroll down to the first table in this article. It’s a great recap of the low-percentage looks we’re getting, a succinct version of what I was trying to say about Kobe’s midrange game:

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2010/1/22/1264634/embracing-uncertainty-post#storyjump

    That encapsulates our ultimate problem. Over half our shots game from midrange. That 28% 3-pointers figure would be fine if we had some snipers on our team, but they’re not falling right now.

    Also, great read on Phil Jackson’s book choices for each player:
    http://freedarko.blogspot.com/2010/01/dinner-of-onions.html

    Lmao – Phil gave Ammo a comic book. Seriously, this kid is priceless.

  56. 54. true, but you can say the same thing for every other team struggling with injuries. if kobe never hurt his finger or back, he might’ve been in a better rhythm up to this point in the season. same goes for pau, if he had played all 42 games so far, he might’ve played a better game. if ron never fell down those stairs…. maybe the lakers would’ve blown out the cavs.
    but thats just not the case and i’m glad the injuries are catching up with the cavs because, together with the hawks, had been the only good team that had not suffered major injuries.

  57. Lakers8884, on this one I totally agree with you and think that those who downplay this loss are whistling past the graveyard. A healthy Cleveland team routed a healthy Laker team (at home) on Christmas. Given a chance to redeem themselves, a healthy Laker team again loses, only this time to a Cleveland team without Mo Williams and Jamario Moon (whose replacements did absolutely nothing last night).

    Given the Lakers’ biggest defensive weakness (guarding opposing point guards), it is simply absurd to think that if Cleveland’s allstar point guard had been playing the result wouldn’t have been every bit as lopsided as the Christmas debacle.

    When this season started, Cleveland was the team I feared the least from the Eastern Conference. At this point (and this is before we’ve seen how physical the Celtics will be), I’d say that a finals matchup with the Cavs would be very, very scary, given that we’ve shown absolutely no signs of being able to beat them (especially if they are healthy).

  58. Thanks Anonymous @ 1:15pm, I kind of needed that inspiration for a 7 game series against the Cav’s. Great post Zephid, talking about your experience over at the other side of the country, with a team we may meet in the Finals.

  59. New game thread post up.

  60. lil’ pau,

    I think Chris Mihm may have Bynum beat in that department. That guy was capable of picking up 2 fouls in under 2 minutes, and he did so on a regular basis.

  61. “46, no way this was the same game essentially, because Delonte west contributed nothing in the game”

    ______

    I posted this in #46:

    LeBron scored more since Mo Williams was out and Delonte West did nothing.

    ________

    So I don’t get what you are saying. My point is that even though the 2nd game game was much closer, the Lakers did not appear to improve from the game on 12/25.

  62. I read your post wrong sorry Robinred I am just a little urked at some fans here saying we have no reason to have a sense of urgency just yet. Yes we should be proud of the team we have but pride can be a bad thing to have, it creates a false sense of hope when in reality you may not be as good as you think the team is.

  63. Gee, congrats on your first game. I think I’d end up like you if I ever go over to the States and attend a game. Hell, it could be Milwauke versus the Nets and I think I’d be just as excited. I didn’t catch the game myself but I honestly didn’t like LA’s chances going into it. Like I said, I didn’t see the game so I can’t comment on what actually transpired but I’d be thinking the Lakers didn’t go as hard as they could, simply because they have a monster road trip coming up including a MSG visit the next night. Besides, with injury clouds over Kobe, Gasol and Artest; Phil would have to be getting concerned.

    On a side note, am I the only person who is seeing issues with the Point Guard position for the Lakers? Derek Fisher has two years maximum left in him and you can hardly say Jordan Farmar is consistent enough to start. Shannon Brown probably could play a Nate Robinson type of Point Guard but I don’t see that working in the Triangle,

    So, what do you people think of my views, is Farmar or Brown competant enough to take the reigns of Point Guard in the coming years and for anyone that watched LA play Cleveland, do you feel the Lakers were holding a bit back or did they leave it all out on the floor?

  64. From a post way back, thank you for reminding me of Travis Knight! Yes, he was a fouling machine because he didn’t have a lot of talent, but he sure did try! I still like him just for that.

  65. You want to know why? Because those “fans” aren’t basketball fans, nor Cavaliers fans. They’re LeBron fans. Similar to those “new” fans in Boston that became interested in 2008, you know, a year after “MVP!” was chanted at the Garden for Kobe.

    Can those “fans” even name a player on a past Cavaliers team from before LeBron showed up? Most likely not. And, goddamn, the Cavaliers announcers are pretty much homers. I did not know that, but since NBA League Pass is on a free trial, I’m watching some of those games. I’m glad we have Stu to balance out Joel’s homerism. Better to have one homer and one objective announcer than two homers praising LeBron for the smallest of things.