Lakers/Thunder Game 3: These Thunder Just Don’t Quit

Darius Soriano —  April 22, 2010

[picappgallerysingle id=”8603522″]
Coming into this game I thought the Lakers would have a very good chance to win.  I thought that if they showed poise in the face of a raucous crowd and displayed enough discipline to exploit their advantages that they’d be in this game until the end and could earn the ‘W’.  Well, I was proven right on a lot of levels as the Lakers were a very good team for stretches of this game but they just didn’t do enough right for long enough to hold on to win as the Thunder took this contest 101-96.  The Lakers still lead the series, but the Thunder now have a win under their belt and a home crowd that is ready to help pull them to the finish line.  However, at the beginning of this game, you would have had a hard time convincing me that this would have been the outcome.

Because when this game actually got started, you would have thought that the Lakers had just read an instruction manual on how to pull out a game on the road against the Thunder.  It’s like they had a check list in front of them and were just scrolling down and marking off each key to victory with a ‘complete’.  Go inside to Bynum and Gasol? Check.  Make outside shots?  Check.  Get an early lead?  Take the Thunder crowd out of the game?  Slow down Kevin Durant?  Check, check, check.  Really, the Lakers couldn’t have started any better, going up 10-0 on OKC and completely taking control of the contest.  Fueled by the inside-outside game that we’ve all been wanting the see, everything was going right.  Gasol and Bynum were the recipients of good entry passes and were scoring down low.  When they didn’t have the shots, they’d kick the ball back out, the ball would rotate, and our shooters were knocking down jumpers.  The game plan was being executed perfectly.

But even with Artest and Fisher making shots, Bynum gathering in alley oops, and even Kobe finding his outside shot (at one point in the first half making 3 straight long balls), there was still the feeling that the Thunder were not going away.  Sure Durant was cold (missing 7 of his first 8 shots), but other players for OKC were stepping up and filling in the gaps.  In the preview for this game I wrote:

If there is one thing the Lakers need to be aware of it’s that role players often play better at home.  In the first two games the Lakers have treated Jeff Green, Thabo Sefolosha, and James Harden as complete non-threats.  Tonight, these players will need to be given a bit more respect when they are on offense.  I not only expect these players to be more aggressive, but I expect them to be a bit more successful in those efforts to score the ball.  I’d especially be concerned with Green and Harden as they are good offensive players that just haven’t found their groove on offense to this point in the series; they are better than what they’ve shown.

Well, it turns out that I was right when it came to these two guys.  Especially OKC’s rookie, James Harden.  In the first two games, Harden was a complete non factor.  Tonight, he was one of the big difference makers for the Thunder.  Harden was aggressive from the moment he stepped foot on the floor and flashed the full scope of his offensive game to inflict damage on the Lakers.  He made outside shots, got into the paint, and showed off his ball handling and savvy to earn trips to the FT line.  Harden ended the night with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in his 32 minutes of action.  And he did it all on only 7 shots from the field – making 3 three pointers and 7 of his 8 free throw attempts.  Just a stellar and impact filled night from Harden.

But, this game wouldn’t be about Harden (or any of the other secondary players), it would be about the stars of each team and how they closed the game.  As I mentioned earlier, Kobe was having a pretty good shooting night for most of this game and Durant was really struggling to find his stroke.  Well, in the fourth quarter, that would all change.  With the game close in the final period and both stars trying to put their imprint on this game, it was Durant that made the bigger mark – on both offense and defense.  OKC’s young superstar was just amazing, to say the least.  He made jumper after jumper and drew foul after foul, putting points up on the scoreboard in a way that he was (seemingly) born to do.  And on the defensive end, he drew the assignment of checking Kobe and didn’t back down an inch.  Using his length and good lateral quickness, KD shut down driving angles and contested shots superbly.  Everywhere that Kobe went he had the long arms of Durant obstructing his view and making it difficult for him to get a clean look at the basket.  Kobe would end the fourth quarter shooting only 2 for 9, ultimately forced to change his game up from scorer to facilitator due to the fact that he just couldn’t get a good look at the rim.

In the end this was a great win for the Thunder and, considering their start to the game, a disappointing loss for the Lakers.  OKC deserves a lot of credit as they never gave up and in the face of real adversity they fought and persevered to earn a win.  The Thunder still trail the series 2-1 but have real life going into game 4 on Saturday.  As for the Lakers, it’s time to reevaluate what they need to do to win the game and get it in their heads that they must stick to the plan for longer if they hope to pull out wins on the road.  They had this game in their clutches for long stretches but didn’t execute in the manner needed to win.  It seems even championship teams need reminders about what it takes to win on the road on the playoffs.

A couple of other notes on this game:

*The Lakers shot 31 three pointers in this game, making only 10.  One or two more makes means that the Lakers come much closer to winning this game, but I don’t think that matters one bit.  That is way too many threes to shoot against the Thunder.  Every Laker understands that long rebounds fuel OKC’s run outs, yet they proceeded to try and shoot the long ball to sustain their offense.  The Lakers should be shooting 18-20 threes a game tops and those should be off of post ups and kick outs where shooters are wide open.  The don’t need to shoot threes just because the initial post entry isn’t there or because they see a sliver of day light before a defender closes out on them.  Discipline needs to be practiced and tonight the Lakers didn’t have it.

*The Lakers were out rebounded 53-39 by the Thunder.  LA allowed 14 offensive rebounds and only secured 7 themselves.  On 48 missed shots, the Lakers only grabbed 7 of their own misses?!  Again, I think the three point shooting played into that as a lot of those long jumpers generated long rebounds or rebounds where the Lakers bigs were not in position to crash the boards.

*A lot will be made of the free throw discrepancy in this game and many will be quick to place some of the blame for the Lakers’ loss on the refereeing.  Personally, I’ve always felt the same way that Kurt did when it came to the refs and whether or not they decided a game – if you allow a game to be close enough for the refs to be an impact, you live with the consequences.  The Lakers led this game 10-0 at the beginning and had leads of 8-10 points at several different points of the game.  The fact that the Thunder were shooting more FT’s didn’t matter then and shouldn’t matter because the discrepancy held up at the end of the game.  The Lakers had plenty of chances to win this game and they didn’t.  Instead, the Thunder fought, made a run, kept the game close, and then finished off the Lakers at the end.  They earned this win and the refs had little to do with that.

*This is three straight games now where Lamar Odom has not had an impact on the game.  At this point, I’m starting to believe that there is something in this match up that doesn’t agree with LO.  Maybe the mobility and defensive ability of Green and Ibaka bother Odom.  Maybe his shoulder is bothering him more than he’s letting on.  Maybe he’s having a harder time adjusting to coming off the bench than anticipated.  I’m not sure what it is, but something is wrong.  I know Odom’s not the most consistent player, but he’s also not as bad as he’s shown in this series.  We all know that this team is a different sort of beast when LO is on his game.  It’d be nice if that guy made an appearance in this series at some point.

Darius Soriano

Posts

42 responses to Lakers/Thunder Game 3: These Thunder Just Don’t Quit

  1. This was the biggest game in Thunder history. They played as good as they can.

    The Lakers could have, should have won.

    That being said its Lakers in 6.

    Kobe and Bynam need rest so I hope Denver-Utah goes 7.

    As for Odom> no one in 14 years has figured him out. He is what he is. A player who is great every 4th game. Saturday is the 4th game. yea

  2. Darius, I respect what you write, and I usually agree with most of it, but to say that the ENTIRE Lakers team getting 12 Free Throws to Kevin Durant’s 13 Free Throws had little to do with the loss is idealistic at best, and naive at worst.

    Yes, the Lakers need to be more aggressive, and certainly jacking up 31 three-pointers is not going to get it done, but honestly, -22 Free Throw Attempts is virtually impossible to overcome.

    Granted, the way that I play the game would have been different, but I am not a professional that is vested in a long term career. I would have gone in and hammered Durant or Westbrook, gotten tempers flaring, and forced the referees to call a much tighter game on both sides of the ball.

  3. About the refs, well said Darius. Lakers could have won regardless of the free throw discrepancy, and if they had won, it might not even get noticed by Laker fans.

    but seriously ZERO free throws for Kobe tonight on 29 shots? A 34-12 free throw difference is just hard to stomach…

    Lots of 3’s, too many. But the bench will shoot better than 1/10 from deep next time.

    Gooooooo Lakers.

  4. 34 points in Paint for La, 10 free throws or so, 32 points in paint for OKC, 34 free throws. No one could say they weren’t taking it to the hole.

  5. - I don’t believe in this whole “Kobe has declined” panic. While calling LeBron the best seems to be the cool thing to do right now, Kobe is playing with a myriad of injuries.

    Last year, Kobe broke a pinkie. This year, he broke his index finger – ON HIS SHOOTING HAND. I can’t shoot the basketball well with five fingers, imagine Kobe shooting with three-and-a-half fingers. To add to that, let’s not forget the ankle, back, and hamstring injuries. We all know Kobe never lets on how much pain or discomfort he’s really in.

    – Before the series, I expected the Thunder to take the Lakers to seven games. While the Thunder are inexperienced, they are also young and extremely athletic. As I mentioned in the game post, these type of teams feeds a great deal of energy off their home crowd.

    When you are playing away, teams must give their opponents only one-and-done possessions. The Thunder had twice as many offensive rebounds than the Lakers (14-7), and out rebounded the Lakers overall (53-39).

    – It’s true that the officiating was less than perfect (isn’t it always?), but the fact is that the Lakers settled with jump shots. The Lakers shot too many 3-pointers, for a team that isn’t particularly good at it. Had Fisher not have one of this best offensive showings in a long time (4-5 from 3), the Lakers’ 3-point percentage would have looked downright UGLY.

    How many iso-dribble-dribble jump shots did Kobe take by himself? 29 shots and not a single free throw to show for it. While Durant and Kobe had similar FG percentages (33%), Durant got to the line 13 times – 13! – by himself. You can use the PJ argument if you’d like, but Durant still attacked aggressively.

    OKC still attacked harder, despite the similarities in points scored in paint.

    Other thoughts:
    – Lakers’ bench was horrid, as usual. Harden outscored our entire bench, again, nothing new.

    – No one on the Lakers can check Westbrook. He isn’t that different from Rose. Give him a few years to develop a consistent jump shot and we’ll see who can guard him.

    We just need to keep pounding inside. It’s fairly simple, but something the Lakers players seem to always forget.

  6. Well, I usually agree with Darius, but I must respectfully disagree on this occasion.

    The free throw disparity WAS the difference, and by a wide margin.

    -Yes, the Lakers could be more accurate with their shots.

    -Yes, the Lakers should NEVER shoot 31 three pointers, ESPECIALLY when Gasol/Bynum have only 21 attempts.

    -Yes, the Lakers should have a better contingency for when the referees inevitably call a playoff game as they did in Game 3.

    All that said, Kevin Durant had 13 Free Throw Attempts compared to the 12 Free Throw Attempts the Lakers had as a TEAM.

    34 to 12? Really? Does anyone really think that with the swarming, arm-swinging, speed oriented, aggressive defense the Robber Barons play with they only fouled the Lakers on 6-12 shots?

    That is absurd.

  7. Well, I usually agree with Darius, but I must respectfully disagree on this occasion.

    The free throw disparity WAS the difference, and by a wide margin.

    -Yes, the Lakers could be more accurate with their shots.

    -Yes, the Lakers should NEVER shoot 31 three pointers, ESPECIALLY when Gasol/Bynum have only 21 attempts.

    -Yes, the Lakers should have a better contingency for when the referees inevitably call a playoff game as they did in Game 3.

    All that said, Kevin Durant had 13 Free Throw Attempts compared to the 12 Free Throw Attempts the Lakers had as a TEAM.

    34 to 12? Really? Does anyone really think that with the swarming, arm-swinging, speed oriented, aggressive defense the Robber Barons play with they only fouled the Lakers on 6-12 shots?

    That is absurd.

  8. @BOO:

    Whether or not Kobe has declined due to age or injuries is irrelevant, he isn’t the player he used to be. Let’s say, hypothetically, that his inefficiency and sub-par play (by his standards) is due solely to his injuries… Shouldn’t that still be a reason for him to change his game and “me first” attitude? He already has the stats, at this point in his career he should be focused on winning more championships and the only way that’s going to happen is if he stops shooting 30% and STILL chucking away 20-30 shots per game.

  9. I missed the game but this recap Darius, was a beautiful work of art I might say, kind of like a good novel, except for the ending. So Kobe took as many shots as our vaunted front line, huh? The bench was useless again, and the Thunder just will not give up in this series to the World Champions, apparently.

    “The real distinction is between those who adapt their purposes to reality and those who seek to mold reality in the light of their purposes.” – Henry Kissinger

  10. the lakers doesnt have spacing. is it just because they cant make their 3s consistently? i cant believe that. the talking heads here have been talking about ways to counter fronting of the post, and they made some plays that demonstrated it can be done.

    and when they dont have that spacing, they cant make a nice entry pass, one of the most important actions of the triangle that leads to other actions. i cant understand how our players cant run it properly.

    is it because mr winter is not around?

    is it because earlier in the season when drew held the ball too long to find his offense, cuts were irrelevant leading to kobe and fish jacking up shots early?

    is it because when gasol got the entry pass, he is to hesitant?

    so many questions. haha

    but hey we cant be too down on this team. we still lead 2-1. we can still take the series in 5 games. these are the defending champs. believe people.

    and kobe should ask paul pierce how he heals up so quickly.

  11. Just read about Stern’s little anouncement.
    What is the official rule about fining people who criticize referees? Is it up to Stern’s digresion? Does he decide however much he want’s to fine? I noticed sometimes it’s 20k, sometimes 25k, and recently it’s been 35k…There should be some standard policy…

  12. and while i can conjure up conspiracy theories that begin with officiating, i’d still rather think this was more about our game, our lack of aggressiveness that resulted to sloppy play and efficiency rather than anything else…yes even when the thunder seem to play their biggest game in recent history (sonics days included). indeed, we always make it look hard. so are we really that good? blasphemy!

    i’d like to think we don’t use our strengths and win it out using our weaknesses in the guise of addressing them. like jacking up 3s, not pushing the ball when we can, playing single coverage with quicker guards and not jumping for boards to give ibaka highlight moments…

    if we use barometers, i’d think that take out the ugly 4th (an aberration that ought not to be duplicated ever) our 3-point shooting was somewhere close to out usual percentages. but if we use players as barometers, kobe’s numbers and lamar’s (and the bench man o man) lack of numbers nullify good games from our other players.

    well how can pau and andy have good games when they don’t have the ball?

    kobe, doesn’t have to be you…

    GO LAKERS!

  13. There should have being more free throws but not enough to swing the game probably something like 18 instead of 12. When you settle for long jumpers you will not get fouled often. OKC is very good at getting to the line (I think they got more FTs than Lakers at Staples which rarely happens) and the Lakers were very passive. Our bigs didn’t get bailed out on 50-50 situations and the guards were very passive, so 12 FTs. Harden and Westbrook went to the line a lot, but Durant was hold behind his usual average until getting intentional fouled twice in the final minute.

  14. Several things disturb me about this Lakers team, but I’ll try to maintain my focus on one, however I cannot promise that I will.

    This Laker team has looked unbeatable in three quarters of a game, ever so often. And winning the last quarter by: 1. Kobe alone, 2. Kobe and Gasol, 3. the bench earning their pay, and 4. Kobe. An occurrence that has taken place several times over the past month and a half.

    Lakers to a man insisted that they were not concerned and that come the playoffs the team would make an adjustment and start to burn on all cylinders.

    Well the playoffs are here! And thus far, the Lakers have managed to play 2-3 quarters during these games the exact same way that they have played the past month and a half. This group appears incapable of understanding the relevance of consistency.

    Do not give me that same tired line, “that its the referees fault that the Lakers did not get to the line more often.” The Lakers meander through the lane, with no idea of actually taking the ball to the rim with authority; yet we still complain about the disparity in freethrows.

    When Gasol and Bynum try to tear the rim down on dunks they are generally rewarded with a freethrow. No one else takes the ball to the rim to hammer it down on the Lakers squad, save Brown on a breakaway.

    While the Thunder to a man will throw one down on the Lakers head. And that my friend is a recipe for the defending champs to soon be on vacation. Because if their legs will not sustain a jump for a rebound, a jump to dunk or a jump to block a shot, how will they proceed two more rounds to get to the finals?

    I am not a ‘wagoneer’ nor am I a ‘Pollyanna’ in regards to the Lakers. I am a die hard Laker Loyalist which makes it all the more infuriating to watch a team that just does not seem to comprehend the chore of defending the championship!

    The Lakers will continue to be out rebounded if they stand flat footed waiting for the ball to fall into their hands. The Lakers will not get a call from the referees by not taking the ball to the hole, as Chick would say, “with authority!”

    Lakers, has message been heard?!

    Okay then, Lakers in Five!

  15. So sorry, for the long post!

  16. Darius… anyone…

    You think PJ might put Kobe on Westbrook to slow him down a little like they did on Rondo back inthe 2008 Finals ?
    Only thing is Westbrook’s jumper seems much better than Rondo’s so Kobe can’t just play off him…

    Man… I am dying for Saturday to come already and see how we respond.

  17. In the pre-game analysis it was said that Kobe shot 28 times but it was in the flow of the offense (or something like that). I still don’t agree with it and I think this game showed it even more… This offense does NOT generate 28 shots for one player if it’s working correctly.

    Today, Bynum and Pau got 21 shots combined while we shot 31 three-pointers. This is getting borderline ridiculous against a team which lacks in size. Do we need to force feed the post? Yes, we do!

    We have superior length so the entry post can be a lob (if the defender is behind Pau or Bynum) or a pass from the weakside after the ball switches side. If we force feed the post we will achieve:
    1. – More high % shots, since Pau and Bynum will be able to score more often than not
    2. – More Free Throws due to an increasing number of fouls (plus getting Collison and Ibaka in early foul trouble)
    3. – The three point attempts will be open looks with the pass coming from the inside (easier to shoot)
    4. – When the defense starts collapsing the paint and double teaming, we will be able to get midrange jumpshots on the opposite side of the ball. Uncontested midrange jumpshots for NBA players who practice everyday…

    So, I just wish that Kobe and few others would drop the Hero complex and start playing their opponent instead of playing themselves. Maybe we do miss Kurt Rambis for defensive purposes and Tex Winter to make them run the offense properly… I don’t know. This team is just frustrating to watch…

  18. Phrase of the game for the thunder: “post entry pass denial.” You can’t expect alot of high percentage shots at the basket unless you first figure out how to adjust to the defense. Personally, I hold the veterans and the coaches accountable for the shot selection put on tonight. If they could have out coached the Thunder and got the ball in the post like we did for our 7/7 fg blip in the 1st quarter this would have been an 8-13 pt win. Why do I say that? Well, As soon as our subsiding offense actually became affective, We opened the game back up between the margin listed above. The problem was of course, we couldn’t sustain a lead with such at terrible type of offense. Hell, we were lucky that Ron and Fish could throw a rock in the ocean, while standing on the beach tonight. If not, we would’ve witnessed a dicouraging loss that would make a game seven imminent.

    Now, with the slim chance that the Lakers (including Kobe and Fish) desided to ignore the possible adjustments that Phil drew up to get the ball back inside then I would pardon the coaching. Although, I highly doubt that seeing Kobe defer to his teammates in crunch time and how successful our bigs were when they got the ball..

    As for the freethrows… Product of OKC playing at home with one of the NBA’s most popular poster boys on their team. (something that Kobe, Ron, Pau, and LO never have and never will be.) SOMETHING WE SHOULD GET USED TO IF WE HAPPEN TO SEE A CERTAIN, OTHER GOLDEN CHILD IN THE NBA FINALS MATCHUP. (hint hint)

    Last thought: In the 4th Drew put up a very rushed, very “Bad Drew” shot. I hope he doesn’t start going for his and rushing his offense due to the fact the team is having a hard time getting the ball to our bigs while in scoring position. That could be a silent killer if we don’t watch out!

  19. Sorry for the double post… Just noticed that Kobe surpassed Jerry West’s all time post season scoring for the Lakers. That means we lost in both games this season that Kobe passed Jerry West. ‘

    Someone tell this guy to wait until November to pass Jerry up again in some record book.

  20. Calling Lamar Odom! Calling Lamar Odom!

    For a dose of athleticism on the wings if nothing else! The Lakers looked flat footed and tired (can you blame them what with the bench producing nothing during the season and all starters logging heavy minutes throughout?).

    That being said, to say that refereeing had nothing to do with the outcome , is as blatantly untrue as saying that the Lakers get all the calls in pivotal games! At one one point I thought that Joe Crawford would actually pull out a big magic whistle that would incapacitate all Lakers and say out loud – Listen Laker land, this game is not yours to win. Kobe the Superstar Bryant, forget about the charity stripe, no chance in OKC that you ever got fouled and I send you to the line today. Hows that for calling out our fellow referees b4 the series, PJ!! Figure out that mind game ‘Zen master’

    And seriously, 31 3 point shots?? Maybe nobody should be able to explain that but the 17 blocked shots in game 2 may have had something to do with that, dont you think?

  21. @ Boo; You are certainly CORRECT!

    The way I see the game is that we have some Positives and of course Negatives to consider.

    #10. Phil finally called a time-out when we needed it. (Hey Phil this group can’t just “work through it”.

    #9. Could it be that Phil was out-coached? It’s the coaches job to design specific plays that free Bynum and Gasol and utilize “whatever our strongest point (at the moment in time) may be.

    #8. Gasol and Bynum are NOT fighting to get the ball! Gasol is still super consistent and has kept us in games. And Bynum doing well since return.

    #7. Where is Lamar Odom on offense or the boards? Maybe Coach should design some plays for him and Artest to get those guys going early.

    #6. Fish, OMG he’s getting better–but still don’t like his shot seletion overall.

    #5. Farmer has no confidence and Brown may have a bit too much!

    #4.Give Josh a bit of Playing time, and Sasha please, although I understand Phil has shortened the rotation. But look at it this way: The other guys aren’r really contributing anyway.

    #3. The Referees must really hate Kobe because they totally DISRESPECT his superstar status. So I believe Kobe has refrained from trying to get the calls because-he doesnt GET THE CALLS! But that’s why he should keep driving it in their face-force the no good (fill in the blank) to make the calls. No way Durant should have that many free throws ahead of Kobe.

    #2. Finals Cleveland and Lakers Game 7 Lebron goes for 45 with 20 free throws while Kobe goes for 35 with 10 free throws. Kobe just has to realize that the refs are not giving it to him at all–he will have to ADJUST HIS BROKEN FINGER AGAIN to get a better shot.

    #1. Fans we are just a bit to damn complacent. The Lakers can’t lose one game without the CRYING on the board. Geesh please! Kobe did well–he will adjust so will the entire team.

    PS. Phil please finds some plays to free our Bigs. And Artest and Odom more practice always beats a bottle of Hennesey.

  22. Just gotta keep pounding it inside. Its all we do to open the game, but then the guards starts taking the tempting semi-free midrange jumpers.

    It seemed like both bigs and guards were looking much more for the lob-pass to open the game. But forgot about that at the end of the first period… It seemed to keep the Thunder defenders guessing though, and could be a successfull weapon.

    Transition is also still a problem (as was pointed out in Phillips awsome post). Farmar had a horrible run, bringing the ball up along the right sideline, Kobe cut to the hoop opposite. Farmer chooses to drible right at the chest of the defender positioned in the post, then jump into the air, almost fall over into the charge and fumble the ball to Kobe…

    Just a horrible play. And to make matters worse, Kobe cant finish it. It should still be a gimme for Kobe, a three foot contested jumper.

    Well, overall this game gives me the feeling, that the Lakers are fighting for extended rest, the series really shouldn´t be in danger.

  23. Kobe took 8 more shots than Drew and Pau did combined. He took two more 3’s than Drew had shot attempts. That’s a bit ridiculous. Its going to be hard for the Lakers to win if Kobe shoots 30% from the field while taking more shots than Drew and Pau combined. The Lakers have a huge advantage inside. No one on the Thunder can guard Pau or Drew. But if the initial post entry pass isn’t available than they just pass the ball around the perimeter and take a contested jump shot. Its frustrating to watch.

  24. I’ve told y’all before – we don’t have any chance to go deep in the playoff, if Bryant will be shooting in low 30s with FGA in high 20s.

  25. The 31 3 point shots take away any advantage we have in terms of our stable of 7 footers, as misses are simply long caroms drifting into a Thunder fast break. We can’t blame our bigs for not grabbing as many boards when those long shots present little opportunity for a rebound.

    The over excessive 3 point shooting seems to be a reflection of just how old our team is compared to the Thunder. We have very little movement off the ball, and how many times have you seen at 35+ rec leagues, the ridiculous amounts of jumpshots because no one has the athleticism or desire to take it hard to the rim anymore. It kind of feels like our perimeter players are playing in a 35+ (for Fisher, he’s in) league by taking the “easy” shot.

    It’s tough to get the ball to our bigs because of the fronting that OKC is doing, but we have to do more high-low post ups.

    This loss was sort of expected, but I did get my hopes up when it was 10-0. The “monkey” is off their backs…time for the Lakers to put a different one back on OKC.

  26. Great post, Darius. I am wondering the same thing about LO & the matchup issue after last night’s game. I really thought he would step up, but didn’t. He wasn’t completely absent, but he was hard to find…

    I still saw enough last night that leads me to believe the series will be won in 5. With the exception of Kobe, all starters (yes Aaron & Ken, Fisher, too – 4 of 5 from 3) shot the ball well. Along with reasonable effort on defense, that’s usually enough to win because of the level of talent these guys have regardless of how the bench tries to louse it up.

  27. Kobe needs to play within his limitations, not ignore them.

  28. 4) Boo,
    “I don’t believe in this whole “Kobe has declined” panic.”

    Even before the injuries, it was obvious that Kobe did not have the explosiveness or quickness he had 5 years ago. That is normal – it happens to everybody. Yes, even Kobe Bryant.

  29. @26
    and even before the injuries, he was dominating. think about that.

  30. Posts #15 and #21 hit the nail on the head.

  31. #30. Kobe would rather lose than win with someone else getting the MVP? Is this why in the final few minutes of the game Kobe completely adjusted his game to be a passer and not a scorer?

    Look, I can understand the frustration with a loss, especially one where Kobe shot poorly (again) and our bigs were underutilized (again). However, lets not go over the deep end with our judgements.

  32. And sorry for the double post, but RE the officiating, I phrased my point poorly.

    What I mean is that the while the FT discrepancy surely mattered (they scored more points via the line and that obviously impacted the final score), I don’t think you blame the refs for that. And, as a team, if you allow the game to be close enough for the refereeing to have an impact than that is on you, not necessarily on the refs. I thought the FT discrepancy had much more to do with the way that the Lakers played defense and the attacking of the Thunder (combined with the lack of attacking by the Lakers) rather than any sort of ref incompetence. I know there will be some that disagree with me, and start to rail on Stern and Joey Crawford, but I wasn’t too upset with any of the calls that OKC got last night.

  33. Guys Kobe’s just practicing to get his shot back.

  34. 30) Mojo,
    “He would rather lose than see the Lakers win with someone else (Gasol) getting the MVP.”

    I completely disagree with that. However, I do think that Kobe believes (incorrectly) that he needs to be the dominant force for the Lakers to win.

  35. I’m getting quite annoyed with the Kobe-shoots-to-much BS. I can recall many games where he shot 30 to 40 shots and we won! I can also recall many games where he shot 30–40 shots and had under 39% percent shooting and we won! It’s at those times you scream Black Mamba, King Kobe, Mama there goes that Man, blah blah blah.

    Now Kobe is in a slump and his own fans, Laker Nations seems to be turning against him. Kobe is no decoy he is the center of the Lakers winning a championship believe that like you believe the day turns into night.

    Futhermore, if Kobe is to regain his stroke it’s not better time to find it than against the 8th seed. Sure I think we should get the ball more on the inside. But as I’ve stated before the coach should draw up more plays to get our bigs open and our bigs should DEMAND AND FIGHT for the damn ball stop acting like girls in the paint-because that won’t work with Orlando or Cleveland or the Spurs.

    Kobe if you are reading this (which I really hope and pray you don’t read these stupid rants: I know you still the Black Mamba and will do your best to pull us through. I know you want another ring even if it means Gasol gets the MVP. Don’t listen to fair weather fans.

    NOTE: For now own I will be writing down every name on this boards that screams Kobe shoots to much, or Kobe doesn’t have it, or Kobe is selfish. So that when we WIN on the back of this man I will DRILL it to you like a hammer fighting a worn-down rusty nail!!

    Lakers take these boyz in 5.

    Come on Utah you’re next in 5.

  36. #35. Your Kobe-centric diatribes are tirirng. Please find some perspective on what makes a basketball team successful. Kobe has been, is, and will continue to be a fantastic player for the Lakers. However, he is not immune to criticism nor is he perfect. Any topic Kobe related is complex. Just as you try to rail against any commenter that only says “Kobe shoots too much” as lacking depth, your comments that forgive any and all poor play from Kobe are just as unbalanced and lacking nuance. Again, please try to find some perspective. And don’t come around here making threats about how you’re going to come back in the comments and call people out for saying the things against Kobe. You won’t be doing that on my watch.

  37. 35, it’s going to be fun deleting all your comments. Have a nice day!

  38. @35

    Write my name down because I am a Lakers fan, not a Kobe fan. No matter what you think, this isn’t a Los Angeles Kobe’s forum. I am not a fair weather fan, and have been a Lakers fan since the showtime days. That is why it is so frustrating to see what’s going on. Our team is better than this. I do not hate Kobe, but as Darius said, Kobe is not immune to criticism. He has been horrible for months now, and yes, it might be due to his finger but that is all the more reason for him to shoot less.

    @Darius:
    In your post #31 you argued against a prior post about Kobe not wanting to win the championship if it meant someone else (e.g., Gasol) winning Finals MVP by saying that in the final minutes of the game he adjusted his game to be a passer and not a scorer. I think Kobe is smart, and did so so he could say “see? I’m trying to get my teammates involved!”, but too little too late. He knew by that point he had shot WAY too much and would be called on it. A pointless gesture on his part after he had already taken nearly 30 shots and made, again, only about 30% of them. Ridiculous.

  39. #38. Jason,
    I try to avoid making claims of knowing what others are thinking. It’s pretty pointless to say things like “this person did X because they *thought* X” because doing that is always going to be based on speculation unless that person comes out and says something to confirm that your speculation is correct. So sorry, but I’m not buying it.

  40. It’s hard for me to be objective regarding the foul discrepancy, but I’ll say this, I agree w/ Kurt and Darius in that the Lakers had opportunities to put this game away so that the game would not be decided by the refs. Lakers need to show more poise as I felt they went into panic mode with OKC started on their run. All the outside shooting instead of looking for good shots. There were moments early in the game where the Lakers where making good decisions finding their shots within the offense. Pau was on the whole game, yet somehow the team did not run the offense through him. I really hope they the next game they make some adjustments and stick with it and not defer to Kobe. They’re champions for goodness sake, it’s time they show the poise that comes with that.

  41. @Darius

    For some reason you disected my comment on Kobe and fair weather fans to suggest that I think Kobe is immune to criticism. That my friends is far from the truth. At times he does shoot to many shots ( but usually that’d because no other player besides maybe Gasol is stepping to the plate). And at times he complains too much to his own detriment.

    No he has his faults but so did Jordan, Magic and even West. As a laker fan for over 25 years I just tend to stick behind our leaders even through slumps.

    If a man’s wife stop cooking big awesome meals and giving quality time to her man does that mean the man should complain and scream and run to courthouse for a divorce? Well now-a-day that’s exactly what happens. Fair weather people are everywhere!

    I don’t mind hearing folks perspective of Kobe nor the game. But when said person is screaming Kobe is shooting us out of the layoffs with his 30 shots, than after a spectacular Kobe driven win on 40 shots they scream I just love Kobe, that is irritating.

    As for further perspective-which if you read many other posts- have provided time and time again:
    My problem is not with the Laker players but the boogie rose colored glasses or demagougish outlook hypocrite on this thread. I read the Cavs and the Heat board all the time and even the Bulls and Boston board from time to time. Might be a good place to learn how to be true fans and supporters of your Team and team leader.

    Those blog fans are Alwats in support of their man guy through ANYTHING!

    I like this thread because there are quite a few knowledgeable fans who share interesting analysis of the players and games. But I also see that there are a some who attempt to give perspective that appears to be redundant and stale. But that’s ok because that’s freedom of speech. I know how to just go right pass those commentaries.

    That’s my perspective of THIS issue.