Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers Raining 3′s Create Thunder Storm

Phillip Barnett —  April 23, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder

This Lakers team can be so frustrating to watch. I honestly couldn’t believe how well they came out of the gate, starting with that 10-0 run which was extended to a 15-3 run. They had the opportunity to really run this team out of their own building by stepping on their collective throats – instead, they went away from what got them the lead to begin with. Out of their first six shots, only two of them were taken outside of 15 feet. Simple math tells us that the Lakers were shooting only 33 percent of their shots outside of 15 feet. For the course of the rest of the first half, the Lakers would take 24 of their next 38 from 15 feet and beyond, including 19 three pointers. 19. That’s 63.2 percent of their shots from 15 feet and beyond plus they were on pace to shoot 38 three pointers on the game. Just to put that in perspective, Orlando shot the most three-pointers by far this season, and they averaged just over 27 attempts per game. It goes without saying that the Lakers took 19 in a half is WAY. TOO. MANY. And this led to one of the main reasons the Lakers lost the game. As Darius told it in his recap:

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 Thunder had guys like James Harden and Jeff Green who were able to get going early because of all of those long rebounds. One of the easiest ways for guys to come out of slumps is for them to get easy buckets, and the Lakers shooting from the outside allows that to happen. Plus, it gave Russell Westbrook the opportunity to put down a couple of game changing dunks. While the Thunder were slumping in the first quarter, the play that really got them and their crowd into the game was that fast break dunk that he had coming from the left wing (a fast break that was beautifully executed, by the way). And there was also that VICIOUS dunk Westbrook that he dropped on Lamar Odom’s head with about 5:30 left in the second quarter.

Another huge reason the Thunder were able to pull out the win was because of Kevin Durant. You have to respect what he was able to do last night. Ron Artest did a great job of making all of his shots tough (he shot eight for 24), but even in shooting 33 percent, Durant had 29 points because he was much more aggressive than he was in both of the previous games getting to the line 13 times. He also made an impact of the game without scoring. From my game recap on Talkhoops.net, I said that he had “an extremely quiet 29 points.” When he was shooting free throws for his 26th and 27th points, I was legitimately shocked that he had that many. He was active on the boards, he was active on the defensive end, especially in the fourth, playing very good defense on Kobe.

Looking ahead, we know that the Lakers, if they play the right way, can run this team off the floor, but it’s about discipline at this point. Can the Lakers dedicate themselves to getting more touches inside? Can the Lakers rededicate themselves to rebounding the ball? Can the Lakers dedicate themselves to playing 48 minutes of defense? The answers are yes, yes, yes and yes. It’s just a matter of doing, which, as we all know, is much easier said than done.

From Silver Screen and Roll: The Oklahoma City Thunder can score on the Los Angeles Lakers. That wasn’t at all certain before tonight’s contest, a 101 to 96 Thunder victory in Game Three of the first-round series, but OKC now has a strong offensive effort it can point to as evidence that it can indeed lay a glove on the Laker D. It helps to have 34 free-throw attempts, apparently, but it can be done. About those free-throw attempts, and in particular the ginormous gulf separating the Thunder’s FTA total and that of the Lakers, who shot only 12. It’s hard to win when your opponent is shooting from the line so much more often than you are.

From Talkhoops.net: Before the game started, TNT gave us a glimpse of the Thunder locker room where the 2010 coach of the year told his team that Serge Ibaka sent him a text that said that he didn’t need a motivational speech for the night’s game. Hearing something like that as a teammate of a guy who had to find his way to the NBA via The Republic of Congo and has had to learn English as a second language – that’s all the motivation that I need, and it was all the Thunder needed.

From the Daily Thunder: I really don’t know where to start. I’m sitting here, staring at a blank screen trying to will some letters to come out of my fingers. But I don’t feel like I can accurately sum up what tonight’s game was like. I guess loud would at least be a start.With thunderstorms rolling into Oklahoma City right around tip-off, I thought this might be the sign. It kind of felt like destiny. I think people in Dallas could feel the energy pulsating from the Ford Center, even 30 minutes before the game started. Fifteen minutes before tip, everyone in the place was on their feet. And they stayed there until the first bucket dropped.

From Land O’ Lakers: For most of the first three quarters of Game 3 at Ford Center, the Lakers were able to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder at arms length. L.A. started strong, scoring the game’s first 10 points, and were up 15-3 three-and-a-half minutes in. The Thunder scratched and clawed their way back- Would you expect anything else? but whenever it seemed OKC would bust through, the Lakers pushed back. In the second quarter, it was Kobe Bryant hitting a series of three-pointers. In the third, he knocked down a couple more jumpers while Pau Gasol exerted influence.

From the Daily Dime: These are the moments we wait for in sports, why we wade through protracted contract negotiations and lockout talk and super-long television timeouts. All of a sudden none of that matters and the only thing filling your field of vision is Russell Westbrook soaring for a dunk over Lamar Odom, followed by an otherworldly noise filling your ears. “That was the loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd,” the Thunder’s James Harden said. The decibel levels got jacked up even higher when Harden hit a 3-pointer, then Kevin Durant followed that with another 3 and the Oklahoma City Thunder, after playing from behind all night, had finally tied the score against the Lakers.

From The Los Angeles Times Lakers Blog: The roaring crowd stood on their feet Thursday at Ford Center, and all eyes locked in on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant squaring off at the top of the key. The Thunder had just been nearly six minutes removed from taking the lead for the first time all night, but the following sequence in the fourth quarter provided even more of a trickling affect. Bryant drove left, dribbled behind his back and slashed right toward the free-throw line. Durant slid back, Bryant dribbled the ball between his legs and drove left since Durant gave him space. After cutting past the left elbow, Bryant pulled up for a jumper outside of the paint, but Durant swatted the ball away, raising the crowd’s decibel level to deafening proportions.

From the Los Angeles Times: Amid a prairie-rumbling roar, the eternal Lakers debate raged. Good Kobe or bad Kobe? With his team surrounded by the young energy of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the screeching hopes of their newbie fans, would Kobe Bryant’s addiction to the ball and the dramatic lift the Lakers or doom them? Good Kobe or bad Kobe? With the Lakers needing a lift to close out Game 3 and essentially clinch this first-round series Thursday, would his renowned postseason pops save the day, or ruin it?

From the OC Register: Jerry Buss didn’t make the trip to Orlando for the Lakers to win the NBA championship in their final 2009 road playoff game. He did make the trip to Oklahoma City to see them lose their first 2010 road playoff game. If Buss was second-guessing that decision Thursday night from his seat upstairs at the Ford Center, he might’ve also been wondering about that new contract he generously gave Lamar Odom. Odom has been unable to adjust his mentality to being back as a bench player so far in the postseason, but Buss’ investment in Odom was already validated in the regular season by more injuries to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

Phillip Barnett

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30 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers Raining 3′s Create Thunder Storm

  1. It’s simple. Put the ball in the post. Play like the Shaq days. Every trip down the first look should be to the post. In games 1 and 3 the Lakers did this early but strayed in the 3rd an 4th quarters.

  2. Can everyone please relax. This is so not as bad as most of you are making it out to be. We have really short memories here. Since ’08, these Lakers have lost 4 straight game 3s after winning the first 2 of the series. Hell, it happened in the first round last year.

    Look, whether or not the free throw descrepancy was the reason we lost is debatable. Honestly, I think it was a big factor. OKC was held to 41% shooting, but are plus 17 at the free throw line. This tells me we played pretty solid defense, but it’s tough to beat 2 teams (the Thunder and the refs) in one night. And if the Thunder are just so much quicker and more aggressive, then please explain why the free throws were virtually even after the first 2 games.

    Sure, we could have still pulled out the win, but that’s why we should be thinking a little more positively right now. With all the mistakes that have been brought up here, and the free throw issue, we were still right there in the end.

    It’s been brought up before, but Phil and the staff have got to come up with better ways of getting the ball to the big men. As some have said, it’s not so much that we don’t want to go inside, but that our perimeter guys look inside and are having trouble getting our big men the ball. From my perspective, this is the thing that should be stressed the most going into next game. We will not be outrebounded by double digits again and the free throws will be more evened out. There were a lot of things that didn’t go right and yet this game could have been had.

    Which i think is good news for the future of this series. Ron and Fish showed signs of life offensively. We managed 45% shooting for the game, which is not great, but a positive sign that perhaps some of our guys have found their touch. We had 22 assists. We never really seemd to be affected by that crazy crowed. Durant, for the 3rd straight game shot poorly, thanks to solid defense by Ron. We may have lost this game, but I’m comfortable moving forward.

  3. I don’t blame the refs for the loss. Just like I don’t credit the refs for wins when Lakers get the call.

    But it’ll be interesting to see how many sites today such as Hardwood Paroxysm will say anything about the free throw disparity. People are quick to come out of the woodwork and denigrate Laker victories when there is a large FT discrepancy.

    I’m sure there will be minimal talk on how the FT advantage helped keep OKC in the game. But in no way will it be used to dilute their victory like it would if the situation was reversed.

  4. I agree with Franky. It wasn’t an pretty game, and there are certainly things the team needs to work on for tomorrow, but it shouldn’t surprise us that the Thunder won one game. This is the Western Conference playoffs, every opponent is going to be a very good one, and is going to put up a fight. We’re not going to get blowouts, we’re not going to get sweeps. As long as we get wins, that’s what matters.

    I’m optimistic about tomorrow, I think the Lakers will come out hungry for revenge.

  5. If I’m going to dump on Fish when he’s terrible, it’s only fair that I give him props for having a great game.

    5 for 8 from the floor? 4 for 5 from three point range?

    That’s really fantastic. He looked like 2001 Fish (including the leaky D, but he was balancing it out on Offense). I thought he was terrific, which is all the more frustrating because a great game by Fish was wasted. He took and made good shots, and played under control.

    And you know what?

    I don’t blame the team for the loss. LO was the only guy who didn’t show up (letting himself get dunked on by Westbrook was inexcusable. This is playoff basketball. LO ducked with a smaller man coming at him rather than give the hard foul and prevent the crowd igniting play).

    I know they took 31 three pointers…but a part of that was a function of how the game was being called…would you want to go into the paint when you know you’re going to get hacked with no call?

    I find it interesting that the night Stern calls out Phil for complaining about the refs and tells him to shut his trap, the Thunder are gifted a 34 to 12 free throw advantage. Durant shoots 13 and Kobe shoots ZERO.

    Kobe took 29 shots (even if 11 were threes, what about the other 18). He didn’t get fouled on a single one of those attempts?

    That was a jobbing.

    Don’t give me “the Thunder were more aggressive!” either.

    The Lakers scored 34 points in the paint. The Thunder had 32.

    The Thunder had more free throw attempts than points in the paint. How is that possible?

    Anyone with two eyes could see the refs were literally keeping the thunder in the game in the first half by sending them to the line on ticky tack fouls.

    And the end of the game, the refs essentially made sure the Lakers didn’t come back.

    Was Ron’s foot really on the line for BOTH three point attempts?? How come it wasn’t reviewed? They certainly reviewed Kobe’s attempt in Game 2 (and took away a point), how come they didn’t review Ron’s? Those extra two points would have made a HUGE difference.

    The three point play for Westbrook was also ridiculous. Fish didn’t touch him. Whoever guards Kobe takes a swipe at the ball EVERY TIME he shoots…but they never call that. Why call it on Fish in that situation?

    Or how about the absurd foul on Ron with 52 seconds left and the Lakers down by two? Ron was literally just standing there, and Durant starts flailing his arms around…and they call the foul? In that situation? At that point in the game?

    You know why the Lakers kept jacking up threes? Because they knew they weren’t going to get any calls. And they were right.

    A DOUBLE message was sent to Phil last night. First from Stern, then from Joey Crawford.

    I know “you’ve got to play through it,” but you know what? They DID play through it. The Lakers played hard, put themselves in position to win, and then the refs took the game away from them at the end.

    I hate the NBA sometimes.

  6. A lot of people are jumping on Kobe, but let’s also remember that he tried to bail out terrible TEAM possessions over and over again. I hated the shot selection – like everyone else – but how many times did Kobe receive the ball with five seconds left on the shot clock after the ball was uselessly passed around the perimeter for 19 seconds? They weren’t interested in re-posts or drawing double teams; if the initial option wasn’t there, it looked like the team would just stand around and hope that Kobe would make a 3 in the end.

  7. We all know Kobe and the wings got trigger happy, they stopped giving effort halfway through the third. Kobe went into hero mode and the bigs were not involved.

    Its the Lakers overall attitude, beginning with Lamar. When Phil challenged him to step up after game 2, Lamar simply replied, it doesn’t matter how he plays if the Lakers win. That’s just not the attitude that any player should have. Does Lamar want to go out and play well, I guess. But when you say stuff like that and you don’t show up for 3 big game, especially after your coach calls you out, then something is wrong. Does he think he can cruise through the playoffs and ride everyone else to a repeat? If that’s really his mindset, and he doesn’t intend to give maximum effort, the lakers won’t repeat. Before many of you get mad, I’m not saying the lakers can’t repeat, I’m saying if someone as important as Lamar plays 30 minutes doesn’t give effort on either end of the floor, I don’t see how the lakers can beat teams that are just as good, hungrier, and willing to do what it takes.

  8. WRT Odom:

    Recall that last year the Lakers’ 6-1 run to close out the playoffs coincided with Odom’s getting more active and his back loosening up.
    Since:

    1. The team will not get any younger during the playoffs.
    And:
    2, The outside shooting will not improve, and the team just wasted the best shooting night Fisher has had in a long time.
    And:
    3. Kobe is going to keep shoooting.

    The big variable going forward might be what Odom does. G4 matters; I think the Lakers’ chances of returning the to the Finals will be enhanced a little if they get OKC out in 5.

    In terms of Xs and Os, as someone said on the the other thread, the team needs to work more high-low with Gasol and Bynum, or have Gasol flare out long the baseline to clear the paint. I said this maybe 20 times last year during the Houston series as well. There needs to be a plan beyond “run the Triangle” or “get the ball inside.”

  9. Burgundy, you’re totally right about LO and that Westbrook play…that was the critical changing point in the game and seeing him run away was gut-wrenching…he needs to stop floating on the perimeter.

    I truly believe that had LO given us 10 or 12 points – we walk out of there with a W…

  10. Agreed… Fish played great… but we can’t waste that kind of performance from him! He plays well one out of every 15 games. That is what is so disappointing with last nights loss. I think against this team Kobe is our 3rd best option often. We can afford to put him on Westbrook and have him focus more on defense in this series.

    And yes… it is sad we can’t or won’t get the ball to Bynum and Gasol more often.

  11. loved the quotes from Pau and Bynum last night, they seem to echo Phil Jackson’s message from last night.

    Pau didn’t demand the ball, though I wish he had. But Bynum did it for him

    “Pau should definitely get more touches,” Bynum said, speaking out for his frontcourt mate. “Every time he touches the ball, something good happens.”

  12. #5 Bergundy: Those are compeling stats about points in the paint and free throws. Is there any historical / stastistical perspective to put this game’s numbers in context? DO those numbers truly strain credulity?

  13. #5 Burgundy: “Anyone with two eyes could see the refs were literally keeping the thunder in the game in the first half by sending them to the line on ticky tack fouls.

    And the end of the game, the refs essentially made sure the Lakers didn’t come back.”

    I have eyes, and guess what? The Refs did NOT cost the Lakers the game. OKC got more free throws because not only were they more aggressive, and assertive, but because they’re *quicker* in making their moves. Quickness puts defenders out of position, and with less time to react, which leads to more fouling. Assertiveness also leads to more fouls.

    There’s no question that refs are more likely to reward an aggressive offensive player with a foul call on a 50/50 play than a non-aggressive shot taker; and a young athletic aggressive team like OKC can rack up alot of free throws because of it.

    But that doesn’t mean the refs were trying to give the game to OKC. Refs can be inconsistent but they’re not out there controlling/deciding who wins. I’m sure the next time the Lakers have a 34-12 FT advantage you’ll be here complaining about how the refs wanted them to win, right? I didn’t think so.

    If you want to know, *numerically*, why the Lakers lost it’s not 34-12 that is the answer, it’s:

    * 31 3-pt shots despite only 32% shooting
    * 29 Kobe shots despite only 38% shooting
    * 21 Bynum/Gasol shots despite 62% shooting
    * 39-53 rebounds
    * 7-14 offensive rebounds

    *Non-numerically* why the Lakers lost is because they again went away from their advantages in the painted area. Gasol and Bynum simply didn’t get enough shots or touches, and the rest of the team simply settled for WAY too many outside shots. That, not FT shooting was the difference. (The Lakers led most of the game while facing a big FT discrepancy, so clearly they could have won the game with that discrepancy as well)

  14. Durant’s rebounding and taking it coast to coast absolutely killed us last night. But that was due to all the long 3 pointers, and it also seems Durant is playing “zone” defense against Artest (and also roving inside to help contain Kobe and Gasol) and letting him shoot those 3 point shots, and concentrating on rebounding.

    That means Artest has to find a way to cut down on long 3 pointers and help box out Durant. The kid is simply too long and bouncy to leave unaccounted on the boards. When Durant leads the fast break, there is no way Artest can stop him and ergo, the rest of the team’s defense falls.

    Once again, we need to find more ways to get our bigs set up in the high post, where fronting our giants would be punished by lobs. I know it’s frustrating to see the constant fronting of our big men inside, but that really seems to be the only option at this point. The only downside is our bigman would have to take one to two dribbles to get in the paint, which the Thunder’s active hands may find ways to disrupt.

    I agree with Bynum, more touches for Gasol would help out. I don’t think Gasol is necessarily complaining about shots, but touches. Good things do happen with Gasol touching the ball a lot.

  15. uh….isn’t Odom playing through a shoulder injury?????????

    Give the guy a break he’s doing all he can out there.

    The team lost because the TEAM didn’t execute down the stretch. No need to point fingers at individuals. The thunder are a good team…GIVE THEM SOME EFFIN CREDIT!

  16. Despite near identical shot attempts by Kobe in Game 2 and 3, the quality of his shots in Game 3 was horrendous. Many of his attempts especially in the second half and almost all of the fourth quarter came off iso plays with half the team on the other side of the floor.

    No triangle was run in the fourth. Heck, it would have been nice to even see a basic pick and roll to see some kind of player movement.

    Just bad execution by the team. I’m almost glad they lost because they played this way. If they had won by executing this badly, I don’t know if they’ll be motivated to change much. Hopefully this loss will snap them back to execute properly in Game 4.

  17. This was a tired team in the 4th qtr.

    We have 8 players rotating – 9 with Luke. Since LO doesn’t seem to be counting for a player, perhaps I should say 7.5 players.

    When things don’t go right it seems this team doesn’t have the ability to dig down and produce. I suspect it is because they haven’t really practiced the triangle when the going gets tough.

    While it may not be time to panic, it is not going to get easier from here on in.

  18. Someone should make sure Magic Johnson didn’t give ‘advice’ to Durant about taking the ball coast to coast…because Durant did look like Magic on a lot of plays last night with his one man fast breaks.

  19. SBCinAZ can you step down from Mt Pious for a moment so we can chat?

    1) I have called it out when the Lakers have benefited from an absurd free throw discrepancy. Unfortunately, in recent history, this has only happend once: Game 6 of the 2002 WCF. The media, however, feels like this miniscule sample size means that the Lakers always get the calls, despite the fact that they shot less free throws, overall, for the series than the Kings.

    2) The refs, as a normal rule, DO hate the Lakers. John Salley in his podcast with Kevin Hench (Spider and the Henchman, every Friday) came out and said as much. These refs have been working forever and they are human beings who build up biases.

    The refs HATE Phil Jackson and the way he constantly calls them out in the press.

    The refs HATE Kobe Bryant and the way he constantly shows them up.

    The refs have no patience for Ron Artest because they think he’s nuts.

    The refs HATE Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, etc with their constant whining.

    These are not opinions. Now, the refs may TRY to call a fair game, but they are mostly going to give the 50/50 calls to the team playing the Lakers (and even some non 50/50 calls).

    There is no conspiracy to extend series, per se (though, you could argue that ref assignments can be manipulated to extend a series), but the refs definitely do have biases that can come out in certain situations or during the course of entire games (like last night).

    3) I know you’re supposed to “Play through it,” and you know what? The Lakers did try to play through it, until the fourth quarter when they got tired and started jacking up threes. But I kind of don’t blame them. It takes a psychological toll when you know you’re getting jobbed during a game. The Lakers were able to overcome in in Game 4 of the Finals last year.

    They weren’t able to get past it last night.

    Kevin Durant couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean in the first half, but the refs kept sending him to the line (and sending James Harden…James Harden?) to the line to keep the game close.

    What would the score have been at the half if refs hadn’t kept gifting the Thunder trips to the line to keep the game competitive?

    4) “The Thunder were quicker!” argument is a new one. So because the Thunder are “quicker” it’s cool to hack and grab on shooters, and shove people in the back on the boards?

    But it’s not okay for the Lakers because they’re not “quick enough?”

    You’re right, the Lakers could have won last night.

    But don’t pretend the refs didn’t make an enormous difference.

  20. I seem to recall a series a little less than a year ago where an injury depleted second tier team took the Lakers to seven games. Things turned out alright then…

    I actually think the Lakers are rounding into playoff form right now. There are some obvious problems that won’t be going away. 1. Defense against PGs. 2. Inconsistent bench support.

    But other than that, the team is coming together. LO will have some break out games. I think Kobe is finding his shot a bit more. Bynum and Gasol seemed to have figured out how to play together. Bynum has been staying on the court. The intensity has been there for longer stretches than in the season. We are seeing flashes of really great play from the Lakers.

    Enjoy the ride people. Enjoy playoff basketball. It’s what we’ve been waiting all season for. The West is going to be an absolute dog fight all the way through for every team. I can’t remember the last time I was this into the games – not just Lakers, but everyone in the West. Just waiting to see Boston, Cleveland and Orlando mixing it up too.

  21. I think I may have said this before: The playoffs are not supposed to be easy. If there was no resistance and no painful losses, there would be nothing to learn from, and no incentive to improve. No one’s ever been able to sharp a blade on a sponge. You need a stone for that.

    I’d rather see my team learn and grow and be ready for whatever comes out of the East, than have Game 1 of the NBA Finals hit them like a bucket of ice water to the head.

  22. #20. Burgundy,
    If the league is as rigged as you suggest, why are you even a fan of the game? There is no evidence to back up what you claim. John Salley and Kevin Hench are no more authorities on what referees think than Bill Simmons or Matt Moore (two writers that I happen to respect, but who make claims of ref bias in favor of the Lakers pretty frequently). In this case, I think you’re a fan that is seeing what you want to see in regards to the refs. You don’t think Pau has gotten away with a shove in the back when going for a rebound? You don’t think Kobe has benefitted from some whistles over his career (the man shot 15 FT’s in game 2)? You don’t think that because the Thunder are “quicker” (a point that can’t be argued) that it does put the the Lakers defense at a disadvantage and they then try to make it up by doing a bit extra grabbing, holding, and reaching? Not everything is as one sided as you claim. I have eyes too and I didn’t see anything egregious with many of the calls that went in the Thunder’s favor (or those that didn’t get called in favor of the Lakers). There are botched calls in this league, but to say that there are these pent up biases against the Lakers? I don’t see that at all.

  23. @20,

    Other zebra-focused folks in other fanbases say the same sort of stuff, in reverse:

    >>Jackson’s complaining gets results
    >>Kobe always gets bailed out in the 4th
    >>The Lakers always get the calls in the 4th
    >>ABC and the NBA want the Lakers in the Finals
    >>The 2002 Western Conference finals were fixed

    It doesn’t sound any better coming from a fellow Laker fan than it does coming from them. I agree with Darius, in that I am not sure why people who worry about the refs that much and think they control everything even watch the NBA to begin with.

  24. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakers-gasol-20100424,0,6882311.story

    “(Gasol) even had six assists, giving him 11 in three games, the most on the team.”

    wow
    Hopefully Kobe and the guards can pick up a few more assists. 11 assists in 3 games is not that high of a number to aspire to guys.

  25. A lot of Kobe’s poor shots came out of poor execution and Kobe launching a contested three.

    I think the main issue with our lack of execution has been our lack of consistency in how to respond to fronting. Now there are in general two options:

    1.) The wing man holds the ball and waits for the big to gain position, even if it is slightly further out from the basket

    2.) the wing man swings the ball to the weak-side, giving an open passing lane for our fronted big.

    It seemed a lot of times yesterday that the Lakers would see Gasol getting fronted, then swing the ball weak-side just as Gasol was getting around his man. This not only delayed the triangle, but Pau was also completely out of position to receive a pass because of it. Other times, Pau would seal his man from the inside and wait for the weak-side rotation, only to have the wing man hold the ball waiting for Pau to regain position.

    There were like 5-6 possession in a row when we tried to go inside and the combination of Ibaka and Collison kept the ball on the perimeter. If the Lakers don’t get the ball inside, and there is no other planned play, they end up just holding the ball on the perimeter and jacking up a bad shot.

    Also, when Kobe catches the ball on the wing, we need more movement on the weak-side. Too often we see Kobe catch the ball with open passing lanes, only to have all his teammates standing outside the lane waiting for Kobe to jack up a shot. We need weak-side screens and flashes to loosen up the Thunder, hopefully get some easy baskets, and also get in better rebounding position for Kobe-misses.

  26. #23 Darius

    I hear your argument, believe me. As a former NBA writer, I know that it’s a waste of time worrying about the refs when you’re trying to analyze the game, the players, and the x’s and o’s.

    Worrying about the refs only makes you crazy – I realize this.

    I definitely don’t believe the league is “rigged,” in the sense that Darth Stern commands that team X win a certain game.

    However, refs are human beings. Human beings who, in many cases, have been in this league for a long, LONG time. They come into the league with certain biases (Mark Cuban once pointed out to me that the majority of the refs in the league are from the east coast), and during their time around certain players and coaches, they’ve developed additional biases.

    They don’t go into a game thinking “I’m going to totally screw over Team X” (though, in his podcast, John Salley said Steve Javie once said to Phil Jackson before a game, “If you even look at me tonight, Phil, I’m giving you a T. Don’t test me!”), but when certain situations come up, or certain players or coaches push certain buttons, the refs are going to respond negatively.

    The length of time in the league for a lot of these guys has also lead them to start relying on “short cuts” when making calls (which, actually, lends some credence to your “quicker team gets the benefit of the doubt” theory). If they see a player actually reach out his arm on defense, they’re going to automatically call a foul, even if there is no contact (just ask VladRad, Luke Walton, Sasha, Fish, etc). If a player, however, is quick enough to stay chest to chest with a guy, they can literally grab the wrist/arm of the guy they’re defending (as many players do to Kobe), because it’s not as easy to see.

    One of the “official evaluators” at a game once explained the above point to me. Slower players do get penalized, because their movements are easier to see.

    HOWEVER, if a player comes up to you and says, “Player X is grabbing me by the arm every time I try to break free” (as Kobe does game after game), would you maybe look for it next time, or would you continue to ignore it?

    That brings me to my next point:

    In general, most NBA refs do not like Kobe Bryant.

    This is not an opinion.

    There is a reason Kobe never gets any calls, and part of that is his fault.

    Kobe came into the league cocky and arrogant, and complaining. CONSTANTLY. In fact, he’s still complaining, CONSTANTLY.

    Do you think that’s going to make the refs want to give him those 50/50 calls that LeBron, Wade, & Durant get?

    It cracked me up, because Bill Simmons recently wrote that “Kobe is terrific at working the refs,” when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Kobe is horrible at working the refs. That’s why he never gets any calls.

    Now, all of the above gives context, but the meaning is still the same:

    The Lakers were not fairly officiated last night.

    Was the game “rigged?”

    No.

    Did the officiating in the game have an effect in the Thunder’s favor?

    ABSOLUTELY.

  27. @Burgundy

    I TOTALLY AGREE with your analysis of the refs!

    @Darius

    Do you actually really think the refs are always 100% fair? Don’t ever be so blinded in life to think that ANYTHING is 100% fair. Everyone is human and everyone has biases, partality, and a bit of favoritism in him. Everytime I visit Starbucks the lady in back makes sure I get the Freshest cup of coffee available. Why? Well because I told her she looked like a model one day. Since than Ive been in latte disneyland. Get free cups occassionaly as well.

    Point is yes refs have something against Kobe and it’s Obvious. Lebron and Durant dare not get a scratch on their arm that whistle blows so loud I can hear it at home. While Kobe needs his arm taking off to get considered for a call.

    Please Stern made a statement and refs reacted to it more than usual.

  28. Darth Stern, lol. Well said, Burgundy. While I would never say the refs handed the game to OKC, there were definitely some fouls that were absolutely the wrong call and it was beyond obvious. The supposed Fisher foul that I pointed out when it happened (and they showed the replay- NO CONTACT), was one of them. Also, the supposed block of Kobe’s 3 by Durant…Durant never made contact with the ball, he caught Bryant’s hand. All of this was clearly visible in the replay.

  29. As for the refs I think Barkley said it best “The Lakers are arrogent”. he of course was talking about Kobe and Phil who must be considered along with Garnet as the most arrogant in the league.

    The NBA wants new blood not dynastes. You put arrogance with the NEW cool OKC and you get odd calls aganist the Lakers.

    Now throw Stern’s henchman Joey Crawford into the mix and you get 3 to 1 in fouls.

    For us Laker fans its no harm no foul because even with the refs doing their best we still beat this team. The problem will come later when Stern new mans love child King James is in the picture. Only a miracle can save the Lakers then. As in injury or a meteor hitting the Staples Center.

    Anyone who dosen’t think the NBA, TNT and ABC is only about the money dosen’t understand Corp America. And the money means extend the games and get the biggest stars in the finals.

    Its simple and is what it will be.