Archives For April 2010

[picappgallerysingle id=”8619657″]

We’ve been talking adjustments all series, so why stop now?  In game 5, the Lakers implemented some subtle (and quite effective) changes on offense while also switching Kobe onto Russell Westbrook as a major defensive adjustment.  These refinements on both sides of the ball (plus some good ‘ol fashion hustle) erased the memory of what transpired in the game 4 debacle and revitalized the Lakers in what turned out to be a game 5 trouncing of the Thunder.  So, at this point, in a win or go fishin’ game, the Thunder must now try to crack the updated code of the Lakers to try and force that game 7.  So, what should the Lakers be prepared for?

Honestly, I don’t think the Lakers need to be concerned about any new wrinkles from the Thunder.  When this series started, we discussed how the Thunder run some of the more simple schemes in the league.  Their main goal is to get out in transition and take advantage of their athleticism and if that’s not possible to set up in the half court and feature the league’s leading scorer.  At this point, that strategy has won them 2 games and had them close to winning a third.  Scott Brooks doesn’t come off (at least to me) as the panicky type and I don’t expect a slew of crazy new innovations.  What I do expect is him refocussing his team on the task at hand and reminding them that they have a winning strategy.  All that’s needed is exectution.

This is especially true for Russel Westbrook.  Sure, in game 5, the Lakers did a tremendous job of limiting Westbrook’s success and effectively taking him out of his game.  But now that the Thunder have seen this strategy, I think they’ll just try to conteract this with more perseverance.  As Kurt metions over at PBT, Westbrook must get back to an attacking mentality in order to have an impact in this game.  He can’t settle for jumpers and he can’t let up just because the seams aren’t there for him.  He must be relentless.  And this is what I think we’ll see. 

But there has to be more, right?  I’ve read in a few different places that the Thunder may go to a lot of P&R action for Russ in order to free him from Kobe’s tractor beam defense.  And while that’s a possibility, I don’t see that being a primary strategy.  When reviewing the game tape of Russell’s offensive plays, I saw that the Thunder ran less than 5 actual P&R’s for Russ in the last game.  And while I do see that number increasing, I don’t expect a dramatic jump in that number.  The Thunder’s main goals on offense, especially in the half court, are still focussed on getting Durant the ball in position to score.  Will Brooks sacrifice possessions for KD in order to get Westbrook going?  That seems doubtful to me.  Not when Westbrook isn’t a threat to make the outside shot consistently (making the P&R easier to defend when he’s the ball handler).  Really, what I expect is for the Thunder to go back to what has worked all series – getting the ball into Westbrook’s hands early and trying to push the pace.  Sure, we may see attempts at more open court screens to free Westbrook, but in the end, I think it will be business as usual with Russ attacking and then the sets being ran for Durant if/when nothing develops in transition.

From the Lakers perspective, I think they also understand what needs to be done and don’t expect to see many changes from game 5.  They’ll continue to attack off the dribble and look for their bigs when help comes.  I think we’ll see the Lakers look for early offense and if it’s not there look for their posting bigs and then pass, cut, and screen with purpose.  Sure, I think OKC will show different forms of help on our bigs that they didn’t display in game 5, but I don’t think we’ll see anything too different than what we’ve seen earlier in the series – dig downs from guards with the defense collapsing from the perimeter rather than helping with big on big.

This may not sound sexy, but there aren’t any more secrets in this series.  I think the last major adjustments that we saw were the switch of Kobe onto Westbrook and Phil re-epmphasizing to Bynum and Gasol that getting back is imperitave (with the threat of playing time being reduced if this was not accomplished).  Sure, we may quicker hooks for ineffective players (Thabo, Green, Krstic) or longer runs for guys like Harden or Ibaka if they are making an impact on the game.  I mean, Scott Brooks knows that this is a must win and I think he’ll coach accordingly, but what else is there really? 

In the end, this game will come down to who plays harder and smarter; who can execute their plan better than the next guy.  As has been the case all series if the Lakers can slow the Thunder in transition, continue to limit Durant’s success, and establish a strong inside game it will go a long way towards a win and the ending of this series.  If OKC gets out in the open court, force LA into shooting jumpshots, crash the offensive boards, and get to the foul line, a game 7 is on the horizon.  And that’s basically it.  This is what you have after 5 hard fought games and both teams throwing the kitchen sink at eachother.   All that’s left is to sit back and see which team can do it better in a must win game for the Thunder.

Orange County News - April 27, 2010

On Wednesday, Darius had a fantastic post about the re-emergence of the triangle offense in their Game 5 domination over the Thunder. In that post, he mentioned that he wished that he had visual examples. While he was able to paint the proverbial picture for those of us who are avid hoop fans, there are some of you who have mentioned that you are just learning the game or don’t have a firm grasp of the X’s and O’s aspect of the game. So, with the help of Darius’ descriptions and a couple of commenters, I hope that these following videos give you, visually, what Darius was able to do for some of us with the written word.

Darius’ post was broken up into three different parts, with the first being Spacing and Timing. I’ll let Darius introduce these first two videos. From his Wednesday post:

Last night, though, we saw a return of better spacing and much improved timing.  Why?  Several reasons, really, but mostly because of a better use of the dribble.  In game five, the Lakers wings used their dribble with purpose.  Nearly every time Kobe or Fisher or Ron put the ball on the floor it was get into a seam and make the defense react.  This action with the ball caused defenders to shift and slide with the result being better passing angles to the open perimeter players and post players that slid into the gaps when their defenders moved over to show help.  These open passing angles jump started ball movement.  Which in turn made the player movement that much more meaningful.

This first video gives an example of how the usage of dribble penetration, or dribbling with purpose, set up a wide open three-pointer. It begins with Kobe dribbling with no purpose whatsoever. He has the ball on the left wing, and dribbles between his legs six times, going nowhere. He gives the ball to Gasol at the top of the arch, and when he gets it back, he has a much more effective dribble. He drives to the middle forcing the whole Thunder team to collapse on him. When the ball is kicked out to the corner, pay attention to how many Thunder defenders are on the right side of the floor. It’s everyone except for James Harden, and he’s right near the middle of the floor. The ball is swung to Shannon Brown at the top of the arch. He brings a closing out defender to him, takes a dribble toward the defense, forcing them to commit to him, and makes the extra pass to a wide open Ron Artest.

This second video, we see Pau Gasol operating at what some of you guys called the pinch post. For this one, I’ll let commenter Burgundy take the podium:

Pau setting up at the pinch post completely screwed up the OKC spacing. For four games, it seemed like Pau was always operating in a sea of arms, but setting up where he did, he had time to scan and make smart/quick decisions – he completely picked the Thunder apart. It will be interesting to see how the Thunder adjust on Friday (my guess is they’ll try to double Pau immediately, rather than giving him space to operate – a tactic the Lakers need to be prepared for).

This video gives a beautiful example of what Burgundy wrote about. Gasol caught the ball on the right elbow, turned and faced and found a back cutting Kobe Bryant, who was able to get the bucket and the foul. What I can appreciate most about this play is it illustrates how well Gasol can pass (as you’ll see more of later). As soon as he saw that Kobe was shoulder-to-shoulder with Kevin Durant, he knew that Durant was beat and threw the pass. There are a lot of NFL quarterbacks who wouldn’t have the confidence to make that pass, or the ability to throw it exactly where it needed to be. I’m not saying that Gasol can start for the Raiders next season more than I’m trying to say that his confidence as a passer is a huge reason why he’s so affective passing the ball.

In Darius’ second section, he talked about Early Offense. Again, I’ll let Darius kick things off:

As I mentioned in the recap to game 5, the Lakers only allowed 14 offensive rebounds on the 53 missed shots of the Thunder.  On those possessions where the Lakers secured the ball, they pushed the ball up court and looked inside as early as possible.  And because the Lakers bigs were running the floor, this set up early offense opportunities for easier post entries and finishes at the basket.  After several successful possessions using this tactic, the Thunder were forced to collapse on defense and protect the paint even more than normal.  This then set up our second big man running in a trail position to receive passes on dives at the free throw line because once our first big had the ball all of the attention was on him.

This first video shows two clips that are a beautiful illustration on what Darius was talking about. The video shows two clips of the ball getting into Gasol early and Andrew Bynum directly benefiting because of it (and a couple more great passes from Gasol). The first of the two clips shows the bigs running the floor, in which I’ll use pictures to show why it works so well when you have bigs who can run the floor.

This first picture shows the location of where the bigs are right before Derek Fisher makes an entry pass to Gasol. And as commenter Ryan mentioned:

I thought the early offense played a huge role in last night game. The Lakers got into their offensive sets before OKC could pack it into the paint and front our bigs. As you mentioned this made entry passes so much easier, and this is what I felt lead to a lot of the better ball and player movement.

The Thunder, up until Game 5, had done a great job of fronting the Laker bigs, but when you get into offense this early (just three seconds into the 24), it’s hard to front the bigs. Gasol is getting position in the middle of the key and Bynum is trailing.


This second picture shows where Bynum is when Gasol receives the pass from Fisher. Gasol has great position to begin with. When he has the ball there, one-on-one, there really isn’t anything he can’t do. As you can see, his head is turned toward the middle of the floor and sees the cutting Bynum, who literally has no one in front of him. Look at how open the paint is. This shows exactly what Darius wrote on Wednesday: the trailing big man receiving the pass from the first one. Gasol drops a lovely pass to Bynum for an easy two. It happened so fast, I thought Fisher threw the pass the first time I saw it.


This final video gives us a glimpse of Ron Artest in the post, but also features one of the times Kobe moved into the post.

The video starts out with Artest catching the pall on the pinch post with James Harden on him. The reason this works so well is because, although a good player, Harden just isn’t strong enough to handle a guy like Ron Artest in the post yet. After Artest catches the ball, he turns, faces, and immediately attacks the rim. This time, Nick Collison comes over to help leaving Gasol wide open under the hoop. Again, we see great interior passing lead to easy shots.

The second clip in this video, we see Kobe catch the ball on the other side with Kevin Durant on him, and again, the defender just isn’t strong enough to handle him in the post. You see how well Kobe works in the post in this clip. When he receives the entry pass, he takes one strong dribble, backing up Durant. He steps back exactly the same way he takes his fall away jumpers knowing Durant would bite. After the pump fake, he steps through and takes an uncontested layup. Even 14 years later, I still get caught off guard when Kobe shows off this kind of footwork. It’s truly unparalleled by any other wing player in the NBA right now.

Game 6 is tonight. Both the Spurs and Suns were able to close out in their Game 6 matchups last night, I’m hoping the same can happen with the Lakers. As you’ve seen in the above video, and read from Darius on Wednesday, the Lakers really do have the ability to go into Oklahoma City and completely take over, but it’s a matter of proving they can do it on consecutive nights. I hope they have it in them.


Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  April 29, 2010

[picappgallerysingle id=”8648227″]
With two days off inbetween games for the Lakrs, it’s again time to take a look around the rest of the league.

*Fear the Deer.  And if you don’t, at this point the Hawks probably should.  Kurt penned a very good piece on the Hawks (and their coach’s lack of innovation in the closing minutes), but at this point I just want to give all the credit in the world to the Bucks.  They’re playing hard (what Scott Skiles teams do) and are executing down the stretch of games.  And, again, how about that Brandon Jennings.  He’s getting into the lane and running his team, but have you seen the ice water in his veins FT’s that he’s made in the last couple of wins?  Sure I named Curry my ROY, and Tyreke is a beast, but only Jennings is still playing.  This kid can play.

*Speaking of the Hawks, they’re the only top seed from the east that is still trying to win a series.  Orlando swept, Boston handled the Heat, and Cleveland took care of Chicago.  This is in stark contrast from the Western playoffs where the higher seeded Lakers and Suns both lead 3-2, but Dallas and Denver look like they may not advance as they trail 3-2 in their series.  So you know, if the series hold their form and every team that leads their series advances, the Lakers would face Utah in the next round and either San Antonio or Phoenix in the conference finals (should the Lakers beat Utah).  This getting way ahead of things, but if there was a poll taken on what teams the Lakers would like to face on their way to a Finals berth, I would bet that Utah and Phoenix were  near the top of that list.  Again, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse (game 6 vs. OKC is a very important game for the Lakers), but things may yet break well for LA on their path to advance in these western playoffs.

*I love Ron Artest just for quotes like “My defense is so unbelievable, I don’t really care about offense right now.”  I know the timing seems a bit awkward for some healthy patting oneself on the back, but I don’t care.  This is classic Artest.  Plus, it’s true.  His defense is unbelievable right now.  One more game against the league’s best scorer though, Ron.  One more game.  (linked by Phillip this morning.)

*What is next for Dwyane Wade?  Will he stay in South Beach?  If he does stay who will join him?  Amare?  Bosh?  Boozer?  Do you realize that even if Miami singns Wade and another max guy, that they’d still have (an estimated) $10 million to fill out their roster?  How does a Wade, Bosh, Haywood, Felton nucleus sound?  What if Wade decides to leave?  Can you imagine him in a backcourt with Rose with Noah and Deng flanking them?  Lets just say I’ll be watching what happens with Wade this summer with keen interest.  Lebron may be the big fish, but Wade can change the balance of power in the East depending on how his situation plays out.

*I know that the Lakers have been guilty of complaining after referees calls go against them.  We’ve all seen Kobe, Bynum and Pau do their fair share of staring, yelling, and gesticulating after fouls.  And while I always thought that Duncan (as much as I love him) was one of the worst complainers, I think Dwight Howard had him beat in Orlando’s series against the Bobcats.  Go check out the Dwight Howard “foulumentary” that Eddy Rivera put together over at  Honestly, if I were Howard, I’d be frustrated at some of those calls too.  But, he was complaining after a lot of those – even the obvious ones.  I really dont’ think it helps your cause with the refs when you never just raise your hand and say “that one was on me”.  I’m just saying.

*Interesting stat that commenter jodial mentioned in the comments yesterday:  After the Lakers win over the Thunder on Tuesday, they’ve improved their record to 8-0 in the last three years in game 5’s.  Sure, it helps to have a lot of those games 5’s at home, but I also think that it’s pretty impressive that the Lakers have been able to win all of those games.  I mean, the Lakers closed out Orlando on the road in the Finals of their last game 5.  I don’t think it’s a fluke that in a very important game (either a series clincher or a chance to go up 3-2) that the Lakers have really played well.

*Lastly, and this has nothing to do with hoops, there any boxing fans out there?  Who do you have in the Mosely/Mayweather fight on Saturday?  Personally, until Mayweather loses, I’ve got a hard time seeing him go down.  But, I think Shane has enough speed and more than enough power to make things hard on Floyd.  Let me know what you think on this one.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Oklahoma Thunder Game 1 NBA Western Conference playoffs in Los Angeles

Practice report (with video) from The buzz word heading into L.A.’s impressive 111-87 Game 5 victory on Tuesday night was “transition,” which the Lakers certainly heeded in not just holding Oklahoma City to a series-low seven fast break points but in scoring 12 FB points themselves. Perhaps just as key as curtailing the Thunder break was a terrific display of ball movement that produced 27 assists, five more than L.A.’s previous high* in the series despite most of the starters sitting out for the fourth quarter after building a 28-point lead.

Practice report (with video) From Land O’ Lakers: Pithy commentary to follow (time permitting and where applicable), but in the meantime here’s some video from Wednesday’s practice in El Segundo. First, Derek Fisher answers my question about whether Tuesday’s impressive Game 5 win can be chalked up simply to effort and activation (i.e. they paid attention/flipped the switch/gave a hoot) or if it’s more complicated. It’s a little from Column A, he said- they certainly played with a spring in their collective step- but a lot more from Column B:

From The OC Register: The son played while his parents watched from the stands. Except it was Kobe Bryant’s mom and dad, sitting right at the end of the Lakers’ bench, and it put everything in a new, old perspective. There was Joe Bryant early in the game, sitting with a half-cocked head tilt and his chin tucked pensively in his hand. Same exact pose that Kobe presents much of the time.

From the OC Register: It’s too bad that Ron Artest said he doesn’t plan to resume his prolific Twitter transmission any time soon. “Summertime,” Artest said Wednesday. Artest often says confusing things that sometimes contradict his own words, but he keeps it interesting, no doubt. On Wednesday, when asked about his improved passing and five assists in Game 5 Tuesday night, Artest said: “I don’t know how they came.” Artest shrugged off the idea that he should take fewer corner 3-point shots — as mentioned by Phil Jackson — because it results in defensive imbalance for the team.

From The everyday-ness of the Lakers is that there is no every day, no typical and orderly. So Tuesday night was just one moment. It could all come crashing down around them again Friday in the frenzy of Oklahoma’s Loud City. BYO Earplugs. But this was a very, very good moment, and that’s noteworthy. Tuesday night at Staples Center was the best half of the Lakers’ postseason, easily the most complete showing they have had in five postseason games and pretty far back into the regular season as well. They showed a focus they have lacked and combined it with the killer instinct they have missed. This step toward the end of the series was actually a start.

From the Press Enterprise: In the aftermath of the Lakers’ head-snapping turnaround victory in Game 5, it was easy to explain what had happened. Easy because every Laker you asked had an answer. All different answers, of course, because these are the Lakers. One thing you can say about the NBA’s most out-front and compelling franchise, they aren’t short on opinions. No one hands out organizational talking points each morning. Going off-script has been a Lakers trademark for decades. Did I say off-script? What script? Since Day One, Phil said tomato, Kobe said to-mah-to.

From Laker Noise: We owe so much to that daggone Tex Winter. Take, for example, the use of the word “facilitator.” In Winter’s complex triangle offense, you have to have someone who sort of pilots the machine, who gets the group into the offense, makes the key passes, helps the group through its reads and changes. Someone who sets things up. That’s the “facilitator.”

From Land O’ Lakers: After last night’s dismantling of the Thunder, a game controlled from start to finish and every point between by the Lakers, the defending champs were barraged by the media with “So why can’t you guys do this every game? questions. A legit query, considering the Lakers have spent much of the postseason’s first round playing against their strengths — and often logic. The puzzling list: 1-The Lakers’ interior play often took a backseat to perimeter shots (despite a terrible percentage from downtown).

From the Los Angeles Times: I guess you can hold the toast. For those who suggested that doom awaited the Lakers in the absence of a healthy Kobe Bryant — OK, for me — Game 5 against the Thunder was an eye-opener, and that’s after 13 years of eye-openers, one more amazing than the next one. After pulling all those rabbits out of hats, Bryant came up with the all-timer in Tuesday’s Game 5: He reached into his hat and pulled out Kobe Bryant.

From the Los Angeles Times: Kobe Bryant has long been accustomed to the phrase “Kobe-stopper,” with plenty of defenders across NBA cities lining up for the challenge of shutting him down, game after game, season after season. It was time for a new twist in Game 5: Bryant became the Westbrook-stopper. The 31-year-old shooting guard bumped and ran with the 21-year-old Oklahoma City point guard, turning a problem spot into a 3-2 series lead for the Lakers.

From Ball Don’t Lie: According to an Oklahoma City radio show, Los Angeles Lakers point guard — and pre-eminent playoff beard grower — Derek Fisher got into it with an enemy fan at a local Waffle House. Fisher has since disputed the claim, but there is evidence that has yet to be submitted to the court of public opinion. We got our hands on the surveillance tape and transcribed what “happened.”

From NBA Fanhouse: Ron Artest has never won an NBA title, but he knows championship- level basketball when he sees it. And that, the Lakers small forward said on Wednesday, is precisely what he saw in his team’s dominating Game 5 win over Oklahoma City at the Staples Center. But before the Lakers headed back to the Ford Center for tonight’s chance to close out their first round series, the 11-year veteran who so desperately wants his first ring wondered why that sort of performance has been the exception and not the rule.

From Kurt at Pro Basketball Talk: Forget The Real Housewives of Orange County. Heck, forget the South Fork Ranch and Dallas. The Buss family soap opera is far more delicious and entertaining. In our latest episode, Jeanie Buss — the daughter with the business mind and the posed-for-Playboy body, who is dating the head coach of daddy’s franchise — told ESPNLosAngeles that Phil Jackson is going to coach next season. Whether that’s with the Lakers….

 [picappgallerysingle id=”8649878″]
Somewhat lost in the shuffle of Kobe guarding Westbrook, the Lakers bigs coming up even larger than their combined 14 feet of height, and the overall dominance of a nearly 30 point victory, was the return of the Lakers actually running the Triangle Offense.  Over in his behind the box score, Kelly Dwyer said exactly what I was thinking:

What made it watchable for me was the return of what the kids call the “triangle offense,” and what the fogeys like me call “the triple post offense.”

The ball went inside, first. There were cutters off the ball, off the apex, and there were screens and then curls off those cutters. My sinuses are getting sneezy just thinking about it. It was glorious to see. There’s a reason we thought this team could win 70 games this year, and the ball movement we saw on Tuesday night is the reason why. It was gorgeous.

Gorgeous indeed.  I wish I had some visual examples to share, but since I don’t the written word will have to do.  In a way, what I saw in game 5 reminded me of the adjustments of what we saw from game 5 of the Denver series in last seasons’ post season run.  Not the same adjustments, mind you, but subtle changes that led to much better execution of the Lakers’ offensive sets.  Changes that when executed with the precision and focus that the Lakers did last night can be overwhelming to even a stingy defense like OKC’s.  Below are a few of the things that were markedly different from the previous games in this series:

1).  Spacing and Timing.  The Triangle is an offense that, at it’s heart, is built off of two distinct principles – spacing and timing.  Against the Thunder, both have been disrupted all too frequently.  The Lakers spacing has been thrown off by the Thunder’s bigs fronting the post and their sagging perimeter defenders that have subsequently cut down the passing angles that LA’s wings have to make their entries into the bigs.  The timing of the Lakers offense has also been thrown off for these reasons.  Too often the Lakers wings have been holding the ball and looking for the post entry.  They’ve been wasting their dribble and moving without purpose when they’re handling the ball.  This has made the Lakers pressure releases non-existent and crippled the other players’ off the ball movement in a manner that rendered the weak side cuts and motions nearly useless.  Last night, though, we saw a return of better spacing and much improved timing.  Why?  Several reasons, really, but mostly because of a better use of the dribble.  In game five, the Lakers wings used their dribble with purpose.  Nearly every time Kobe or Fisher or Ron put the ball on the floor it was get into a seam and make the defense react.  This action with the ball caused defenders to shift and slide with the result being better passing angles to the open perimeter players and post players that slid into the gaps when their defenders moved over to show help.  These open passing angles jump started ball movement.  Which in turn made the player movement that much more meaningful.  This all came together and added up to a return of crispness to the Lakers offense where the choreagraphed nature of the Triangle displayed itself in all its beauty.  On one play in particular, a play that started with a dribble drive led to an open (and converted) Artest three pointer that saw four Lakers touch the ball in less than a 5 second span.  We honestly have not seen that type of ball movement since the Utah game where Kobe sat out with his ankle injury.  That was February 10th.  Today is April 28th.  Yeah, it’s been a while.

2).  Early offense.  During the regular season the Lakers played at the 13th fastest pace in the league (middle of the pack).  Last year, when they were one of the best offenses in the league, the Lakers played at the 5th fastest pace.  I’m not chalking up the Lakers decline in offensive efficiency this season solely to this factor, but I do believe it made a difference.  I think it also contributed to the improvements we saw on offense last night.  And it started with our bigs getting up the floor.  Though we haven’t seen much of this lately, the Lakers have two of the better running 7 footers in the league.  They’re not Karl Malone’s out there, but both Bynum and Gasol can get up court relatively quickly and get into the post for quick set ups on the block.  And last night, that was exactly what happened.  As I mentioned in the recap to game 5, the Lakers only allowed 14 offensive rebounds on the 53 missed shots of the Thunder.  On those possessions where the Lakers secured the ball, they pushed the ball up court and looked inside as early as possible.  And because the Lakers bigs were running the floor, this set up early offense opportunities for easier post entries and finishes at the basket.  After several successful possessions using this tactic, the Thunder were forced to collapse on defense and protect the paint even more than normal.  This then set up our second big man running in a trail position to recieve passes on dives at the free throw line because once our first big had the ball all of the attention was on him.  How many dunks did our bigs get on plays just like this (or on variations of them)?  Five?  Six?  I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that it was a welcome sight to see our bigs get some easy buckets on the secondary break just becasue they were getting up the floor quickly.

3).  Ron Artest in the post.  Doug Collins may refer to his coaching of Michael Jordan a lot, but he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to analyzing some of the finer points/X’s and O’s of the game.  And last night he mentioned several times that Artest got several post touches and said that this was an adjustment for the Lakers.  I couldn’t agree more with him on this point.   For a lot of this series, Ron has been relegated to a spot up shooter.  You’d see him, typically on the weak side wing, just standing there waiting to receive a pass so he could fire up a long jumper.  However, when a guy is shooting less than 20% from behind the arc, it may be time to change up his role a bit.  The beauty of the Triangle is that it’s an offense where every player is nearly interchangeable.  So, just like you see Pau sometimes making post entries from the extended wing, you also see our guards get post up chances (mostly Kobe).  So, it was nice to see Ron get some chances on the block that allowed him to create for himself, but also for his teammates.  Ron tied for second on the team with 5 assists last night and he looked much more comfortable operating from the post on the chances that he got.  Remember what Phil has said many times before about the Triangle – it’s the post players roles that are easiest to learn and it often takes more time for the perimeter players to find their comfort level.  Well, then doesn’t it make sense to get Ron (a player that has experienced a bit of a steep learning curve in this offense) some touches in a place where less reading and reacting is going on?  I think it does and it paid off last night.

And besides these three points, everything was just done a bit better than it has been recently.  The screens were better, the cuts were harder, the passes were more precise, and the catches were made cleaner.  Every Laker player seemed focussed and intent on executing the offense in a manner that maximized his personal and the team’s success.  That said, one game does not a season make.  If the Lakers expect to win game 6 on Friday, they’ll need a recommitment to this same level of execution and attention to detail.  Sure, they’ll need their defense to be as strong as it has all series (they’ll also need to plan for whatever adjustments the Thunder make to Kobe guarding Westbrook), but if they hope to pull out the win, they’ll also need to score the ball.  They’ll need to run the offense.  So, this can’t be a one time thing; it can’t be a fleeting effort.  Because if the Lakers can play with the urgency and desire to run its sets, they’ll be moving on to the next round after Friday’s game.