Lakers/Thunder: Game 1 Chat

Darius Soriano —  April 18, 2010

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We’re finally here…

Game one of the Lakers’ title defense is upon us.  This is what we’ve all been waiting for since October and we finally get to see how this team will play in the games that truly do matter (not to say that the regular season doesn’t matter, but you get my point).  We’ve already gone over the major keys to this series when the Thunder are on offense and did the same for the Lakers, so at this point there’s little else to say about this match up.  It’s now time for the games to be played and for questions to be answered based off what these teams do on the court.

Speaking of being on the court, the Lakers have a couple of players that won’t be on it tomorrow.  We already know that Sasha is out indefinitely with his severely sprained ankle.  But, the Lakers will also be without the services of DJ Mbenga.  In Saturday’s practice, Mbenga got poked in the eye and had to have emergency laser surgery to repair the damage.   With the return of Bynum, DJ missing time has less of an impact on the team but this is still an issue that can affect the Lakers.  In the event that there are any issues with Pau and/or Bynum (foul trouble, fatigue, ineffectiveness), the Lakers will not have another Center to turn to and will need to play either Powell or Odom in the pivot.  That’s not exactly an ideal situation against a team that is very good on the offensive glass.  Hopefully it doesn’t come to that and both Pau and Bynum can trade off minutes at center and effectively make this a non issue.

But, again, that is something to look for when the game is played.  At this point, the contingencies are in place and all that is left to do is watch and see what happens.  Personally, I’m excited for what’s ahead; I love the playoffs – with the raised intensity and the extra meaning that is assigned each possession and game.  Saturday gave us some interesting contests that ultimately saw all four home teams win and wrap up a victory in that critical game one.  Hopefully, the Lakers can do the same today.

On a final note, I hope you all enjoy this as much as I will.  There are sure to be ups and downs, but every journey has them and while a championship destination is always the goal, the path to get there is what makes it special.  So, have fun and enjoy the ride.  The Lakers are defending their title, there couldn’t be a better time to be a fan.

Where you can watch: 12:00 noon start in the west on ABC.  Also on ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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215 responses to Lakers/Thunder: Game 1 Chat

  1. The Oklahoma City Thunder is a professional basketball team in the NBA, aren’t they? It will be a fun series for us to watch, nobody is going to give away the series, both teams will fight their best to win each and every game. The Lakers will prevail, bye the way, IMHO.

  2. I see what you guys are saying. We are very spoiled fans and expect so much more from this team. I mean, I stick to my main point, we need to play a little better, but I will try to just take one game at a time and just enjoy the journey more.

  3. Yes – that was a great first quarter by the Lakers – loved their play and i’m sure PJ isn’t showing his entire hand yet.

    I agree that we need to be happy and enjoy the wins. Orland was blowing out char and now they’re only up by 5. Every team is going to battle it out.

    Too bad that okur is out – seems like denver will have too much on them…but we can keep rooting for the jazz.

    i enjoyed the game but if we had one player that could hit an out side shot consistently – this team would be so hard to beat in 7. There are so many open looks that we miss.
    Watching the magic hit 3 after 3 – they’re scary.

  4. *Artest is a great defender
    *Kobe needs to guard Westbrook
    *Bynum is a difference maker


  5. Yes, with Lakers defense playing like that it _should_ be a blowout.

    As for Bryant – when was the last time he played a decent game? March 31, in Atlanta. Since then – he has iversonized. With him playing like that we haven;t the slightest chance to win with Nuggets or Spurs (and absolutely no chance to win with Magic or Cavs).

    Don’t tell me how good Bryant used to be – tell me how good is he playing in April. You know as well as I do that he was awfull. So yes, I’d rather take chance with more touches to Gasol, Bynum and Odom that with another 30+ possessions used by somebody shooting in low 30s.

    You want to believe that we’ve won the last season because of Kobe? Fine with me. But then if we lose this year – would you agree that we lose because of Kobe too?

  6. TRad,
    Again, why focus on teams that we’re not playing? And I don’t see anyone (besides KobeMoney – whose moniker should tell you where his allegiances lie) trying to say that Kobe was fantastic. But Kobe did do some things well today and didn’t settle nearly as much as Durant did. You’ll read more about that in the recap (coming soon – I promise), but #24 worked to get some good looks at the basket and didn’t play terribly even with his poor shooting percentage.

    There is merit to saying that the Lakers could be more post oriented, but to even say that this Lakers team would be better with Kobe sitting is taking things too far. As I mentioned in the series preview, one of the reasons that the Lakers are even as dangerous as they are is because of the threat that Kobe provides just by being on the court. Defenses scheme to slow him down and it opens up other players. You’ve got to try and see the bigger picture and not just throw out stats to make your point. Yes, the stats do tell us somethings, but they don’t tell us everything.

  7. @Trad It’s good to see another Laker fan who has an ounce of common sense. The excuse made for Kobe by Lakers fan is bordering on psychotic. Right now, Larry Huges is a better shooter. Is Kobe in the Top 10 of all time? Probably.

    The fact remains though is that he slowed considerably, can’t get to the rim and the Lakers played the best ball of the year without him. There should be a rule that he should not shoot over 18 times again. Lakers win this game by 20 if they pound it inside.

  8. @ Darius I don’t understand why everyone says that Kobe can’t change his mindset now? Really, isn’t that how great players adapt? The Lakers advantage over other teams is length with gasol, bynum and lamar and not perimeter play which the case could now be made that any team with LBJ, Wade, Melo are much better at due to the fact that they don’t shoot 32% every game like Kobe. Kobe being stubborn and uber-confident are his greatest strengths but also greatest weaknesses. It’s a shame he will never fully get “it” like Magic, Bird, Jordan and now LBJ.

  9. I don’t know about some of the negative comments here, but I, personally, liked what I saw: The OKC Thunder was just held to 79 points.
    For me, it doesn’t matter whether you play crap on the offensive end as long as you’ll commit to the defensive end. It’s like this: If you don’t score, then don’t let the other team score. The negative becomes positive then, and just like what happened, the Lakers although they played almost crap for the next 2 1/2 quarters, they still won the game. That’s what happens when defense is done.

  10. I have followed the Lakers since they drafted Jerry West, therefore, I certainly have seen all of Kobe Bryant’s career here.

    Has Kobe clearly been the best player in the last decade – decidedly. Is he the best player today – no!

    That said, he plays both sides of the ball very well and has adjusted his game a bit each year to remain one of the most dangerous players ever to lace up a pair of high tops (opps! sorry for appearing so old fashioned).

    This has been a very hard year for Kobe, but I doubt you could name any other player in history – save maybe Jerry West (with 9 broken noses) – who could continue to play effective ball with the shooting finger of his shooting hand broken. Not Michael Jordan and certainly not Magic Johnson (low pain threshold).

    Kobe is being forced to change his game to compensate and insure that the team has a better chance to win each game. Is he perfect at this? Certainly, not – and a great deal of ego is part of the reason. However, we have to remember, it is this same ego that drives him to learn to play with his broken shooting hand. We have to take him as he is.

    I, for one, am willing to take him at face value and I don’t want someone else in the game in his place. He brings too much to our offense and our defense AND the opponents strategy to just sit him down.

    Criticize if you must, but don’t be silly about this stuff. He ain’t an old man yet – even if I am.

  11. #209. What did Kobe do wrong today besides miss shots? That sounds like a funny statement, I know, but the shots that he took were good ones. They were shots that I want him taking. He had good looks at the basket and didn’t really force many shots that I can remember. Has Kobe been shooting poorly? Surely, those numbers don’t lie. But, when you look at the Lakers offense – and do so objectively – you’ll also know that in today’s game, Kobe played exactly the way that he was supposed to on offense except for his efficiency in putting the ball in the basket. If you’re saying that this Lakers team would be more successful if Kobe just passed every single time (or if you agree with TRad that the Lakers would be a better team if Shannon played and Kobe sat), then I’m sorry, I think that you’re so far off base that I really can’t take what you’re saying seriously. Kobe’s going to have to take shots – especially within the flow of the offense – for this team to have success on offense. The same holds true for Fisher or Artest. Some of those shots are the product of our sets (and some of the plays are ran specifically for Kobe to get a shot). So in a way, it’s tough to even accept the premise of what you’re saying.

    I mean, on the flip side of this is a guy like Sefolosha for OKC. On several possessions he passed up open shots and it hurt his team. He became such a non factor on offense that he had to be pulled from the game even though he’s their best perimeter defender. There’s definitely a balance to playing offense and today Kobe was walking that line fine, imo.

  12. I LOVE Lakers defensive effort (and the effect of the effort) in this game. It was GREAT. It carried the day. But 41% from the field makes me worry.

    I was sure we will win game #1 (after all we are #1 team in the west, OKC is the team #8). But I was interested in two things: how good will be Bynum (and he was GOOD) after the injury and how good will be Bryant. Those two factors will decide about Lakers immediate future.

    I think we could win the whole thing even with Bryant OffEff below 100, but not with Bryant below 100 OffEff _and_ using 25+ possessions. Possessions are precious, they shouldn’t be given to somebody who recently is playing very unefficient.

    As for Bryant making Gasol’s and Bynum’s life easier – Gasol was pretty efficient recently, with Bryant inactive.

  13. @213 – TRad…

    You have some valid points, but overall, you need to understand that basketball is not always about numbers.

    Kobe could have less that 100 Off Eff and use 25+ possession and the Lakers can win if we have defense like we did today. The reason for Kobe’s low offeff is due to the fact that the opposing team’s #1 goal is to neutralize Kobe. If Kobe struggles but our other weapons play well, we can still beat most teams. Cavs and Magic, we’ll have to worry when we get there.

    If the players take it one game at a time and one series at a time, I think the fans should do the same, and not look too far ahead.

    Do the Lakers have room to improve? Yes.

    Can they improve? YES!

    Do they have to get better to beat better team? Yes.

    Will they? No one knows.

    But if everything was so certain, why bother watching the game at all? I think the journey to the championship is that much more exciting because there are more obstacles and uncertainties ahead.

    Enjoy the victory and let’s analyze the shortcomings with some balanced perspectives.

  14. Craig W @ 211- Very well put!