Around the World (Wide Web): Thunder Growing Pains

Phillip Barnett —  April 21, 2010

LAKERS

We’re witnessing the ostensible growth of a young team that is going to be VERY good in a few years. The seeds have been planted through draft picks, they’ve been fertilized with a 50-win regular season and are being watered with their inaugural playoff series as a unit and franchise. All we have to do is wait and watch it grow. For the Oklahoma City fans out there, you just have to be patient – patient like we were with Kobe and Shaq in their first two seasons together. No, I’m not saying that Oklahoma City will be home to the next three-peat, but it will be the home of something special.

Special like Kobe Bryant giving his fans in Los Angeles (and across the world) another great playoff performance. He scored 39 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter, on a night where his father watched him play live for the first time in five years. Bryant’s 15 in the fourth was the difference in this one, as the Lakers were able to pull out a three point victory in Game 2.

Pau Gasol also had a big night, scoring 25 points with 12 points, his second double-double in as many playoff games. Outside of Kobe and Gasol, no other Laker scored more than six points. Much of this can be attributed to the Thunder raising their collective defensive intensity, recording 17 blocks as a team and turning the Lakers over 16 times.

What this game boiled down to the execution down the stretch – something that Darius (with the help of Kurt) touched on a few days ago:

Second is the fact that the Thunder aren’t the best executing team in crunch time and have had trouble this season closing out the tightly contested games.  The Thunder are 7-11 in games that are decided by three points or less and are 1-4 in overtime games.  As Kurt told me:

When games tighten up and defenses get tougher at the end of games, the Thunder tend to tighten up as well. Durant is still Durant, but he gets less help and their offense becomes more about isolation, and with that they often become stagnant and they go through dry spells. It’s a learning thing, they won’t do that in a couple of years.

Last night we saw the same lack of execution and tightness that Darius and Kurt talked about. With about 4:30 left in the game, Ron Artest was called for a foul which put the Lakers over the limit. At that point, you would expect it to be Kevin Durant time and for him to attack the basket relentlessly knowing that he’s getting free throws every time he’s fouled, but the opposite happened. He took a contested 18-footer, and after being called for a charge, didn’t take another shot until that three he took with 15 seconds left. In the same amount of time, we saw Kobe do what he does best: close out the game. He scored seven points and shot six free throws after the Artest foul.

The difference between the Lakers and the Thunder last night was definitely the experience. With time, Durant is going to learn how to take advantage of the situation, but for now, he should spend this series learning from the guy who’s been doing it for over a decade.

With the win, the Lakers go up 2-0 in their first round series and are now just 14 games away from the ultimate goal. Here are some of the best links on last night’s game:

From Silver Screen and Roll: I’m not sure what to write regarding Game 2 of the 1st round series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the OKC Thunder.  The Lakers won the game in a tight contest 95-92, and the game will be remembered one of two ways, depending on how this series (and any subsequent Lakers playoff series) goes.  Winston Churchill once said “History is written by the victors”, and I can’t help but think the way this game will be remembered is based entirely on how the Lakers perform in the rest of this postseason.  The reason for that is because there are two significant, and completely opposite, truths one can take from this game.  The 1st is that Kobe Bryant is absolutely still capable of willing his team to a victory if the situation calls for it.  The 2nd is that the Lakers, as a team, Kobe included, look old and tired right now.

From Yahoo! Sports: The locker-room doors swung open, and Kobe Bryant marched down the Staples Center corridor wearing big shades and bigger defiance. He ingested the relentless proclamations that his battered body had cut too deeply into his greatness, that his fragile state demanded that for the good of the Los Angeles Lakers’ championship chase he turn them over to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Everything balled up inside Bryant and ultimately uncoiled in Game 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night. “After 13 years,” Bryant would tell Yahoo! Sports on his walk to the interview room, “you’d think [bleepers] would know better by now.”’

From Hardwood Paroxysm: You could say the Oklahoma City Thunder made progress with the three-point loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night. They took what was for the most part a frustratingly mediocre game in the first part of this series and turned it into a two-point game with a Kevin Durant three-point attempt for a series tie heading back to Oklahoma. He didn’t make it. He clanged off the iron and eventually the Thunder had to settle for a missed Jeff Green three-pointer to try and send this game into overtime.

From NBA Fan House: No one was talking. Not even the talking heads. Jeff Green slowly put his bright blue tie in place on top of his matching shirt at his locker. Thabo Sefolosha softly slapped cologne on his neck nearby. In the corner of the dispirited Oklahoma City locker room late Tuesday night at the Staples Center — where the Lakers outlasted the Thunder 95-92 — veteran Kevin Ollie consoled James Harden in hushed tones.

From SLAMOnline: Someday, the Oklahoma City Thunder will look back on this series with newfound appreciation on what it takes to win a Playoff game. If you had told them before the game that Kevin Durant would score 32, the defense would block 17 shots, and they would have the lead with two-and-a-half minutes left, they would’ve felt pretty good about themselves. And they should feel pretty good about themselves, because they played their hearts out last night. But it wasn’t enough. That’s the thing about beating the champs; you have to go above and beyond what, on most other nights, would’ve been good enough for a victory. In the end, the Lakers made the plays they had to make, the Thunder didn’t. Advantage L.A., a 2-0 series lead after a 95-92 win.

From The Daily Dime: It always seems personal for Kobe Bryant, a continuous quest to test himself against the sport like a golfer taking on the course. A year after he realized his vision of winning a championship without Shaquille O’Neal, he suddenly had to prove himself all over again, to demonstrate that he can still steer the Lakers to a single playoff victory even with more than 37,000 NBA minutes on his odometer.

This is a fantastic look at how the Lakers defended the Thunder final three point attempt from NBA Playbook (With pictures and video): After a Kobe jumper, the Thunder were down two points with two minutes left in the 4th quarter.  Now Scott Brooks’ late game playcalling has been a source of much discussion around these parts, so I was real interested to see what Brooks would do in the playoffs needing a bucket. This is what Brooks came up with:

-Phillip

Phillip Barnett

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37 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): Thunder Growing Pains

  1. “We’re witnessing the ostensible growth of a young team that is going to be VERY good in a few years. The seeds have been planted through draft picks, they’ve been fertilized with a 50-win regular season and are being watered with their inaugural playoff series as a unit and franchise. All we have to do is wait and watch it grow. For the Oklahoma City fans out there, you just have to be patient – patient like we were with Kobe and Shaq in their first two seasons together. No, I’m not saying that Oklahoma City will be home to the next three-peat, but it will be the home of something special.”

    you gotta feel bad about the Seattle folks. but they let their team away. tsk

  2. the other stephen April 21, 2010 at 9:31 am

    if we keep having nail biters like this game, i’m going to have stumps for hands by the end of the playoffs.

  3. I think one key factor in the Laker victory coming down to execution during crunch time was left out of the post. We all know what it was, but it’s been harped on so much that I’ll just let it go. :D

  4. Guys, isn’t Fisher supposed to come up big in the playoffs? What happened last night? I guess season long shooting slumps don’t just suddenly disappear when playoffs start?

  5. Yes, Fisher supposed to come up big in the post-season.

    So is Kobe. I don’t need to remind anyone that his shooting and general production has left a lot to be desired so far.

    Now, as the Mamba so eloquently put it, “you’d think the ******* would know better by now”, and he’s right. He’s Kobe, and we fans give him a lot of slack and benefit of doubt because we know. We’ve seen him before. We trust he’ll come through for us.

    I know a lot of the regulars here will disagree but I’m willing to extend the same courtesy to Derek Fisher. I remember his mentality, his relentless aggression, and that beautiful flagrant foul that changed the whole series last year… so I’m going to trust that he’ll come through for us. If nothing else, Phil Jackson does, and it seems reasonable to me to assume that he has good reasons for doing so.

  6. JA on espn.com suggests what I believe a lot of Kobe dislikers think too. I expected better from someone as good as JA honestly. Dont make the mistake of counting out or even starting to count out Kobe. He may be 31 and while mortal standards may dictate that his decline is around the corner, but this guy is something different, something special. I am not saying that he can will this Lakers team to another championship this year. But I feel strongly that he has another couple of rings in him in the next five years

  7. @#4 Q, I guess the big 3 Fish hit late in 4th when Lakers were desperate for points doesn’t count?

    I swear between these two games, I’ve had about a dozen mini heart attacks. But I’ll gladly go through this for 14 more wins. I think my heart was in my throat for 11 or 12 of the 16 wins last year. The adrenaline swings are quite a ride.

    Anyone notice that in the two games so far Pau and Bynum seem to work well together? I’m not talking about them playing well against a undersized OKC frontline. But how their games seem to be meshing well together. It was a huge concern earlier in the year about their inability to mesh and how a big game from one would detract from the other. Their respective injuries also took time away from learning how to play with each other.

    Last two games, they seem to know where the other guy was and how to make the play for each other. Last night Bynum’s shot wasn’t falling but his D and rebounding was still there. While Pau continued to put up his points.

    Would love to see continued growth in this area. Aside from the usual hope the whole team stays healthy, my biggest specific concern at this point is Kobe’s health. I hope he can continue to adjust for that finger and keep his legs.

  8. I have a ton of respect for this OKC team. If they can find a true big man inside, this team will be ridiculous.

    Artest played above average defense on Durant, who still scored above his average, but nevertheless had to make some difficult shots and turned over the ball 8 times. I think the 8 turnovers make him reluctant to drive because Artest is poking the ball from him.

    I would like the bigs to get the ball more inside, but Bynum traveled a couple of times by dribbling the ball and playing “small.” Gasol was amazing last night. But the Thunder do such a great job fronting and helping each other on D (17 blocks!!!) that just dumping the ball inside is too simplistic to state.

    It greatly concerns me that our outside shooting is so terrible and that we are taking way too many 3s with a lot of time left on the clock. That only allows OKC to grab and run.

    I think we can grab game 3 and rip OKC’s heart on Thursday. I’m sure Phil is emphasizing the poor shot selections made by our veteran team. But I’m very impressed by this young team…they will be formidable for years to come…unless Durant wants to come here to play! :-)

  9. 7. Chownoir

    I was recognizing the same thing with Bynum and Pau working together. In game 1, Pau caught a couple of passes in the right corner and was able to make the entry pass over the raised hands to Bynum that Fish, Farmer and Brown weren’t able to make. In Game 2, early in the third quarter, Pau made a gorgeous pass to Bynum from the top of the key. Bynum missed, but everyone collapsed on him, freeing up Gasol for the putback. A possession or two later, Bynum made a fantastic pass to Gasol which led to the dunk. Both passes were inside of the paint. I’ve wondered if Bynum would have the interior passing ability of a Shaq or Gasol, and he’s shown glimpses of it this series. I really this is one aspect of his game that really flourishes next season.

  10. @7, I don’t have a problem when he shoots a three on a spot-up when he’s been set up by Kobe’s penetration or by a doubleteam in the post. I do have a problem when his jumpers come early in the shot clock and there’s been no attempt to get the ball down low…and it comes right after three or four consecutive possessions where we’ve gotten buckets or fouls by feeding the post.

  11. 8, yeah I still can’t understand how Artest gets so many pokes, strips, massages without fouling. His “efficiency of reaching” is off the charts. I wonder what the numbers are on how many reaches and how many whistles he got. It seems like he poked the ball away or caused a turnover 6 -8 times but never commits a stupid foul, even from behind.

  12. OKC defends better than any 8-seed I can remember, so the “tightness” of these early games may not be as telling as one might think. But, as tough as these first games have been, the Lakers need to do everything they can to sweep this team if they want to win a championship. Because, as Charles Barkley put it, “they ain’t trying to beat the Thunder.”

    With Denver and Utah in the midst of what looks to be a tightly contested series, the Lakers have a real opportunity to get rested, improve their health and get some of their swagger back if they can take care of business on the road. The Thunder’s building will be a nightmare and OKC is definitely good enough to stretch this thing to 6 or 7 games, but if L.A. is capable of being the team we all think they can be, they will break their opponent’s will on Thursday night and finish the job on Saturday.

    To accomplish this, they will need more efficiency from the role players (who shot abysmally on Tuesday night), a post-first mentality (pass the ball to Bynum on the block, not the elbow), more of the same on defense and a more tangible contribution from Lamar Odom (who should be giving the undersized Thunder fits). If this happens, Kobe won’t need 39 points to win the game.

  13. Phillip – here’s another link (Kelly Dwyer’s Ball Don’t Lie column):

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie;_ylt=AuqN1lCUr.5CkBGuQKGGzNrTjdIF

    Here’s his take on Derek Fisher:

    “Derek Fisher(notes) continues to get a free pass for his bad play, and it boggles the mind as to why. He missed eight of 10 shots, and I can’t think of a single one that couldn’t have been avoided. Derek wasn’t forced into shooting, he just calls his own number a ridiculous amount of times. A fact made all the more criminal because of the abilities of the teammates he shares a court with.

    In the third quarter Fisher looks off a semi-open Kobe Bryant with five seconds left on the shot clock to take his own three (it went in, he was 2-9 from the floor after the swish), and Doug Collins spends the next 30 seconds lauding him for being able to want to take a shot even after missing “ten in a row.” Now, he didn’t miss his first ten; but what about, in Doug’s hypothetical situation, shots three through nine? Why are those OK once the averages come around and he finally makes one?

    And what part of “veteran leadership” means looking off Kobe Bryant (Kobe Bryant!) for a shot that’s just as long as the one you’re about to take, when Kobe had hit his last two three-pointers, and you can’t even find the rim? To say nothing of all the contested shots – in and outside of the arc – with over 15 seconds on the shot clock. I will never understand why this guy gets a pass. J.R. Smith(notes) isn’t this bad, and he killed a guy.”

    STOP GIVING FISH A FREE PASS!!!

    Just because everyone keeps complaining about him, doesn’t mean he’s not attrocious.

    I know he got two fouls on Westbrook early, but truth be told, Fish fouling out with 3 minutes left is the reason the Lakers won the game.

  14. In all honesty, I should have mentioned Fisher in the recap. Both the positives that he brought and the bad shot selection. But, last night I finished writing at 1 in the morning and when you combine that with the fact that Fisher got killed in the comments again I probably thought enough had been said. But, I was honestly delirious.

    Speaking to what Dwyer is saying, I don’t think Fisher deserves a free pass, but I think the same critical eye that we watch him with when he does things poorly needs to be applied to the things that he does that help. Last night was a game where the negatives outweighed the positives and I agree that Fisher fouling out probably helped the team in that moment and in the closing stretch of the game. On a side note, it may seem that I’m trying to control the Fisher debate, but in actuality I’m not. I just don’t think there’s much else to be said about the guy, so I don’t say much. Let him have an amazing game or play a crucial role in winning or losing and he’ll get his word count, otherwise he’s going to get buried in the bigger details of the game. Last night Fish went 2-10, but I honestly thought the bigger stories and keys to the game were Kobe’s performance, Pau’s continued excellence, OKC’s defense and hustle, and Durant’s bounce back agaisnt Artest. This morning, I thought Philip raised a salient point about execution in the final minutes. Does Fisher going 2-10 trump any of those stories? Fisher’s had a bad season overall (said another way, his con’s list has more tally marks than his pro’s list), so is this new?

  15. If the jerseys had been reversed…

    If the Robber Baron’s had shot 33 for 88 FGs (37.5%) and only 6 of 22 for 3PT FGs (27.3%). If they had only made 23 of 32 Free Throws (71.9%) while giving up 16 Turnovers, and being Blocked by Laker defenders 17 times…

    If the jerseys had been reversed that would have been considered the greatest win in the Robber Baron’s history.

    I honestly have no idea, looking at the statistics, how the Lakers pulled the win out.

    It was ugly, it was scrappy, it came down to mental toughness, nasty defense and playing through the referee’s questionable calls. It was about will, and heart, and pride.

    THAT is championship basketball. I feel better about the Lakers now than I have in a long time. A champion takes the opponent’s best shots, and finds a way.

    Watching it again, I am more of a fan today than I was yesterday.

    Go Lakers.

  16. Before the series started, I postulated that drawing OKC might be a blessing in disguise despite the tough matchups in KD, Westbrook and high ranked D.

    OKC was inexperienced enough that it would allow the Lakers to escape with wins even when they weren’t playing their best. At the same time, because of that D and player matchups, Lakers couldn’t just rely on talent to win. They would have to execute and be disciplined on both ends of the court.

    Much in the same way last year’s playoffs toughened up the team mentally for the grind. I’m hoping that drawing OKC will get the Lakers to get down the good habits they failed to consistently have in the regular season while also eliminating the bad habits they had accumulated.

  17. Wade’s getting pissy about Beasley, and I can’t say I blame him:

    “I’m tired of answering questions about Beas not doing it,” Wade said. ”He has to continue to play. It’s going to click one day. Hopefully, it’s Game 3. He has the ability to really make us a tough team to play. It’s on Michael.”

  18. Wow, both teams combined to shoot 38% from the field. This series really has been all about defense.

    Either that or all about nobody showing up other than the main guys.

  19. Darius,
    Most comments are about Fish this year, both critical and defense of, and you are correct – there isn’t much more to be said. This pretty much has to be his last year starting, unless the FO completely strikes out this summer. Therefore, we should concentrate on other areas.

    Another area of criticism is Lamar Odom. His inconsistency is now legendary and not much more needs to be said in this area either. However, he seemingly gets a free pass regarding his basketball IQ. Lamar is somewhat of an ‘airhead’ on the court and, while having good passing ability, will pass indiscriminately to Kwame Brown or Ron Artest while they are in the paint, surrounded by opposing players. This has been a consistent part of his game. He also has a habit of ‘hanging out’ at the 3pt line and only diving to the basket to accumulate rebounds. Finally he has a long delivery and doesn’t use much deception. Against a team like OKC this is a sure way to get shots blocked and reduce your advantage over your opponent.

    We need the positives Lamar brings, but I really question having him in the game in crunch time of the 4th qtr, where his mistakes can really be costly. Perhaps Andrew just had accumulated too many minutes, but it seems to me Andrew’s power and defensive presence is worth more than Lamar – at least against OKC.

  20. Craig,
    I agree we need more from Lamar. But I don’t necessarily agree with your characterization of him as a player. Inconsistent, sure. Low BBIQ? I’m not on board there. LO is one of the 4 or 5 players that actually understands our sets. He’s an initiator of offense from the PF position. He understands spacing off the ball, recognizes angles, and has a very good sense of timing. The strength of our system is that making the right read should create the correct opportunity for the team to be successful. The same traits that you attribute to LO (passing to players that may not be successful in the position that they find themselves in) are ones that are attributable to Walton or Fisher (or Fox or Horry before them) as well. There’s a funny story about Mike Bibby that I read a while back from his second season with the Hawks. Bibby penetrated the wing and then kicked out to the open player that was in the short corner to shoot a three pointer. The guy in the corner was Josh Smith. During a timeout, Hawks coach Mike Woodson chewed out Bibby for passing to Smith. Bibby retorted “If you don’t want him taking that shot, put his (expletive, expletive) somewhere else!”. I relay that story because that is what can happen within our offense as well. Players find themselves in position where they *should* be able to be successful because that is the right play to be made (if that makes sense). A diving Fisher that is wide open? Artest finding himself free under the hoop? A flashing Kwame into the gap? Those players may not complete the play, but those are the right reads. We don’t run a system for a Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, or Magic Johnson where the player with the ball is the decision maker, per se. We run a system where the motions and reacting defense create the read and then players combine to make the play. And while I don’t want to give LO a complete pass for the mistakes that he does make, many times where he’s hanging out around the three point line, making a pass to a player that is in position to score, or making a move for himself, it’s because that’s what the defense is telling him to do based off the the other offensive players that he’s on the floor with. Again, though, I do agree we need more production from LO. Against this team he needs to find his way.

  21. Fisher also led the team with 6 assists, didn’t he? I’m not trying to excuse the shots, which look bad from the instant they leave his hand, but worth noting that he’s not JUST hoisting bad shot after bad shot. And on a lot of his bad shots it looked like teammates were looking for him, including the first play of the second half, which might have been drawn up for him.

    At some point I felt like they were trying to jumpstart a car they couldn’t bring themselves to admit was dead.

    The Lakers have to find someone who can make a shot. Maybe they keep hoping they can get life into Fisher.

    All of which makes me reflect at just how astoundingly fortunate the Lakers were last year when 2 guys who have been terrible outside shooters their entire careers (Odom and Ariza) caught fire from deep in the playoffs.

  22. On a side note, I’ll have a new post up soon. Maybe in an hour. Thanks for your patience, everyone.

  23. If they can find a true big man inside, this team will be ridiculous.

    ___

    Brandon Haywood is a FA–and the Thunder has cap space. If they add him, look out. And Durant and Westbrook are only 21.

  24. Regarding the game the last night, I think the Lakers did a pretty good job overall. That was possibly OKC’s best shot. They basically dominated defensively and shut ever down expect for Pau and Kobe. And Durant and Westbrook, despite foul trouble, had really good games. At halftime I mentioned that Pau, despite having a good first half, had to be more assertive and decisive when he gets the ball and he did just that in the second half. Pau’s aggressiveness is potentially the difference between Pau quietly having a good game and dominating his opponent and it was great to see him play that way yesterday.

    For the first time ever I agree with Kelly Dywer. I believe Phil needs to put Fisher on a shorter leash. Fisher has been terrible all season and in the first 2 games going 6-22. Yes Fisher made a big 3 pointer in game 1, but that does not excuse his play throughout the entire game. Fisher just takes so many bad shots. The Lakers just can’t afford to have Fisher try to shoot his way out of a 2 year shooting slump. He needs to improve his shot selection or Phil should limit his minutes.

    I also completely disagree with Mimsy that the Laker fan base should extend the same courtesy to Fisher that we extend to Kobe. Why should Fisher get the same leeway as Kobe? Fisher has a defined role. His role on offense is easy. Run the offense and take and make open shots. That’s it. He doesn’t have to make plays, he doesn’t have to go out there and win the game for the Lakers. All he has to do is play smart and efficiently on offense and give effort on defense knowing that nobody expects him to shut his opponent down. Fisher’s job is easy, but he makes it harder than it has to be by taking contested shots early in the shot clock, forcing the ball in transition and semi-transition when the lakers don’t necessarily have the advantage. He’s a veteran. He’s the leader. We all know that he knows better and can play much better. Is it too much to expect that from him? The lakers don’t need or expect him to be great, or even good for that matter. They just want fisher to not be terrible. I hope I’m wrong and I’m not clairvoyant, but if he continues to be terrible, I believe he’s going to cost the lakers big time. But I much rather Fisher settle down and let the game come to him and play within himself and his capabilities.

  25. Robinred- what about Bosh?

  26. Fish had a horrible season. Fish had a good game 1 but a horrendous game 2. Veteran or not, chances are that he’ll revert back to horrendous for most of the playoffs. Like it or not, that’s who he is and, sadly, we have no one better or more trusted by Phil on the bench. So, let’s lay off the old guy. It aint going to make him better.

  27. Why can’t Brown get more minutes? He can’t possibly shoot any worse than 2 for 10?

  28. “But I much rather Fisher settle down and let the game come to him and play within himself and his capabilities.”

    same argument can be said about Kobe. Kobe has shot 38% this series shooting a total of 47 shots… with a broken finger. But I guess it’s Kobe. I mean face it, Kobe gets a pass from us because he is Kobe. When he plays outside his capabilities and tries to force it, we give him a pass.

    The best player for our team the last month has been Pau Gasol. I don’t care if he doesn’t get it in the low post (he’s not Shaq). He can make things happen in the high post as well. Get him the ball more, don’t make him into a pick and roll guy, and lets get the team moving around it.

    I’m all for Fisher hitting his shots, but he needs to take them when he’s open.

  29. I 100% agree with Darius about Lamar Odom. Comparing Fish to Odom lacks basketball understanding.

    The HUGE, HUGE difference between the two is that Odom understands his role.

    The only criticism with Odom is that maybe he’s not agressive enough, or he misses some shots.

    But Odom is (mostly) making the right play/read as Darius says. Odom never just jacks up a shot because “he’s trying to get himself going.”

    Anytime Odom tries to score it’s because:

    1) He recognizes he can take the guy who’s guarding him off the dribble.

    2) He recognizes the guy who’s guarding him is giving him too much space, and he can shoot an open jumper in rhythm.

    Even if he misses, he’s making the right basketball play.

    Besides, Odom contributes a ton on the boards and on the defensive end.

    Just because he’s not a 20 and 10 guy doesn’t mean he’s not an extremely important part of the team.

    What drives me insane about Fish is not that he doesn’t bring anything to the table (other than flopping to draw cheap fouls on Westbrook)…it’s that he actively takes stuff off the table.

    Every time he goes barrelling into the lane 1 on 4 during a fast break, only to get rejected or miss the shot (rather than get the ball to a more capable guy), he’s taking stuff of the table.

    Every time he ignores the post so he can jack up a contested jumper (remember, Odom takes advantage of mismatches…Fish doesn’t have any mismatches to take advantage of), he’s taking stuff off the table.

    Every time he flops on a screen, hoping to get a call, rather than staying with his man, he’s taking stuff off the table.

    I’m just saying.

    Odom understands his strengths and limitations, Fish has no clue.

  30. Ray

    You cannot apply what I said about fisher playing within his capabilities to Kobe. Kobe is not limited on the floor. He can do absolutely everything. But specifically regarding his play in the first 2 games. the First game Kobe was 6-19 not very good for Kobe. But he was not jacking up shots and many of those shots were good shots. And yesterday Kobe played much better than his 12-28 that showed up in the box score. Kobe had about 3 shots blocked and I can recall two instances he drove to the basket and drew a lot of contact but did not get the whistle. Kobe has been doing what he’s supposed to be doing, can the same thing be said for Fisher.

    As far as Lamar, I said he has a low BBIQ months ago. BBIQ extends much further than being able to play and execute the triangle offense. Basketball does not begin and end with the triangle offense. But when I said that, I was referring more to his defensive IQ. He’s normally slow to rotate on defenders, doesn’t contest shots properly most of the time, doesn’t draw charges (although he drew a huge charge on Westbrook yesterday). Always slow to help. I just think with Lamar’s length and athletic ability he can be a really good defender, but he’s not. *As I type Jay Mariotti just said Lamar has been AWOL*.

  31. Joel,

    I love Kobe’s warrior attitude. But the guy has a broken finger in his shooting hand. A comment in the previous post said that Kobe seems to be favoring his left hand dribbling. But he shoots 47 times in two games.

    I’d understand that if he were on the Miami Heat like D. Wade where he NEEDS to do that because he doesn’t have talent around him, but this ain’t Kwame’s Lakers.

    Comments on the past few threads always say, Pau isn’t doing enough to establish down low, or Bynum isn’t doing enough to establish down low. Who has been our best player the past month? Pau. How many shots did he have in the first two games? 28. I understand he’s Kobe, but would u want a guy with a broken finger to shoot 20 times more than your best player?

    Im just asking for some balance. We blame fisher to the wall when he shoots rather than gets it inside.

    I understand the mentality. NBA is a superstar league and we revere our superstars and feel they can do no wrong. So we pick our scapegoats. This year, Fisher is it. Every bad game and “he’s the reason we almost lost. I’m glad he fouled out thats how we won.”

    We have a lot of talent this year and it might be an easier game if we can utilize our mismatches. Our best mismatch is Pau and Bynum down low (see game 1 first quarter).

  32. I was going to post it, but Ray already did. Kobe is limited right now. Aside from no longer being nearly as quick and athletic as he was when he was younger, have you seen that guy’s injury list lately?

    During an interview after Game 1, Phil Jackson flat out said when asked that if Kobe’s shooting percentage stays this way, he needs to stop jacking up shots and start facilitating instead.

    I would hope that most of us are in agreement on that. I absolutely believe that Kobe will come through for us and we will not be able to win this without him. But I also think he can be as clueless about his limitations as anyone else, and often probably more.

  33. Joel,
    Kobe absolutely is limited now. The problem is that he doesn’t want to accept that. If he doesn’t accept that, the Lakers are not going to win the title. If he does accept that, they have a good shot (pun intended).

  34. Well, this is what you see towards the end of a superstar’s career.

  35. I think there’s way too much focus on Kobe’s shot taking. He was 12-28 (and as pointed out elsewhere- he went 11-20 in jumpshots).

    Meanwhile, Bynum, Fisher and Artest combined for 7-29. That hurts us a LOT more because two of those guys are expected to be able to produce open 3′s and they both missed a bunch of them, which allowed OKC to pack the paint. Bynum meanwhile, has a massive size advantage over anyone OKC can throw at him, but misses 6 of 9 shots. He should be jamming it in people’s faces with two hands.

    I’d understand the complaints if we’d lost the game, but truthfully, we deserved to the lose that game and Kobe went out and won it for us, because no one else was going to. Kobe should not be the fall guy here.

  36. Josh. You miss the point. We’re not making him the fall guy here. WE’re trying to make it so that our post guys get a bit more shots against a team that doesn’t have the power to stop us down low. It’s not just on Kobe, but everyone to get the ball down low. And I don’t see the argument that a three people shooting 7/29 is worse than ONE person (with a broken finger) shoots 12/28.

    Also, it baffles me that everyone expects Pau and Bynum to take it up with two hands and dunk it every time they are within three feet of the rim. Only one center did that. His name was Shaq. Stop expecting Shaq. Just because they aren’t shaq and dunk everything doesn’t make them soft. Pau and Bynum have a different skill set. They dont just bully people down low or drop step and dunk. Hell, Kareem didn’t even do that.