Lakers/Thunder Game 4: Lakers Come Out Flat, End Up Flattened

Darius Soriano —  April 24, 2010

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In what can only be described as a first class butt kicking, the Lakers fell to the Thunder 110-89 in game 4.  OKC out-hustled, out-muscled…really out-everything’d the Lakers in this game.  So instead of attempting to pen some exquisite recap of the carnage, I think I’ll just relay some simple numbers from this game that (hopefully) tell most of the story.

24-2. This was the Thunder’s advantage in fast break points over the Lakers.  The Thunder successfully pushed the ball at every opportunity and got easy buckets on the break.  One one play in particular (and this basket may not even count in this stat), Kobe hit one of his pretty patented fade away jumpers from the right baseline over Thabo Sefolosha and then fell to the ground afterwards.  When the ball was inbounded, Russell Westbrook raced the ball up court and proceeded to get a lay up at the other end.  But it wasn’t just the Thunder’s athleticism that fueled their fast break chances, it was also the Lakers’ general lack of awareness and fundamentals in transitioning from offense to defense that aided OKC’s attack in the open court.  On two possessions early in the game, Pau got caught with his back turned to a quickly advancing ball handler.  On one possession, Durant got a dunk.  On the other, Westbrook missed a lay up, but the Thunder got the offensive rebound (though they missed the putback).  Since both of these plays happened in the first quarter, I was hoping that this would not be a trend throughout the game.  It was.

42-48, 87.5%; 17-28, 60.7%. These were the free throw numbers for the Thunder and Lakers respectively.  That’s right, the Thunder shot nearly fifty free throws and connected on an absurd percentage of them.  Meanwhile, the Lakers shot their share of freebies, but were quite bad at converting.  If you’re looking for a difference in this game, look here first.  After the game, Phil Jackson said quite simply that before this game got away if the Lakers would “have made (our) free throws, like professionals are supposed to, (we) would have trailed by 5-7 points and been in this game”.  Instead, the Lakers bricked away while the Thunder got to the line and made all of theirs.  If there was one sequence that summed up the free throw shooting story it was on some of the opening possessions for each team to start the second half.  On the Thunder’s first play, Sefolosha received a kick out pass and shot a three pointer in which Kobe fouled him on a late close out.  Thabo proceeded to make all three from the line.  A few possessions later, Derek Fisher went to the foul line after drawing a foul and missed both his attempts.  After another couple of misses from the field by both sides, Kevin Durant got fouled and made one of his two FT attempts (he missed!) to push the Thunder lead to 14.  At that point, the game was essentially over (though we wouldn’t quite know that yet).  Many will make a lot out of the number of FT attempts that the Thunder got, and I share the frustration in watching a team have a parade to the foul line.  That said, I do think that the Thunder’s ability to get out in transition and break down the Lakers off the dribble in the half court is playing a part in the number of FT’s that they’re taking.  I also think that the Lakers aren’t doing as good a job of earning trips to the foul line.  Are there missed calls that go against the Lakers?  Are there plays where the whistle seems a little quick when LA is on defense?  Sure.  But those happen every game for and against the Lakers.  I don’t think that had too much to do with what we saw tonight.

5-10. These were Kobe Bryant’s shooting statistics in this game.  There will be plenty of fans and other folks in the media that look at Kobe’s number of field goal attempts and talk about/write the easy “payback” story.  You know, where people attempt to read Kobe’s mind and then say that he purposely did not shoot the ball as some sort of backlash against the criticism that he’s been shooting too much.  The ultimate proof will be that he didn’t take a single shot in the opening period.  I can understand that, it’s the easy angle.  However, what I saw was Kobe playing a controlled game where he was looking to get his teammates involved.  When Kobe did look to be aggressive, he was doing so with the dribble by getting into the paint.  However, when he got there he found himself surrounded by  defenders with open passing lanes to his teammates.  And rather than forcing jumpers (something that we all would like to see Kobe avoid), he made the right reads and passed the ball.  This may not be what people want to talk about (it’s not nearly as sexy as the alternative), but it’s what I saw.  If anything, Kobe’s FGA’s say more about his comfort level with his shooting at this point in the season than with any preconceived plan or hidden agenda.  Kobe’s no dummy.  He knows that even in his game 2 explosion that he didn’t shoot that well from the field and got one third of his points from the FT line.  He also knows that the game plan is to exploit the team’s advantages inside and that establishing the post is this team’s number one priority.  After the game, Kobe said that he was “controlling the game the way that he wanted to in the beginning”, but that the game “got away from them, with the run outs and transition baskets for them”.  Again, this may not be the sexy story, but that makes much more sense to me than Kobe tanking a game by not shooting just to prove a point.  We’re in the playoffs, you know.

18.2%. This is the Lakers field goal percentage on three point shots as they went 4-22 on the evening.  Pure ugliness from behind the arc.  Earlier I mentioned that Kobe was distributing the ball well in this game and really setting up his mates with good shots.  Well, when he passed to open teammates behind the arc, those teammates didn’t make the Thunder pay with made baskets.  Missing these shots is doubly painful because often times the long rebounds triggered the Thunder fast break chances (as we’ve seen all series).  On one possession in particular, the Lakers had a fast (if you want to call it that) break of their own when Ron got a run out and the Lakers were on a three on two.  Ron was dribbling up the sideline but didn’t have an angle to attack so he settled for a three point shot.  Normally, this is an okay shot that I can live with because he was literally wide open and there was no advantage anywhere else on the court.  He missed.  It was just one of those nights for our “shooters” and especially for Ron (who was pretty bad again from the field going 2-9 including 0-4 from three).

50-43. This was the Thunder’s rebounding edge over the Lakers.  Personally, I can live with getting out rebounded by a few boards in any given game.  But, it was how the Lakers were out rebounded that was concerning.  The Lakers gave up another 13 offensive rebounds while only grabbing 10 of their own.  Commenter Snoopy2006 really said it best in the comments, so I’ll let him take it from here:

“How many times did Russell Westbrook beat our players to long offensive boards? Sometimes, the ball actually hit the floor before it was rebounded. I realize Westbrook is explosive, but he just had a hunger and nose for the ball that our players did not show. Westbrook was chasing down loose balls and long rebounds like his life depended on it.”

28.2 vs. 23. These are the average ages for the 9 rotation players for the Lakers and Thunder, respectively.  If you take away Collision (29) and Krstic (26) the Thunder players’ average age drops even further.  Tonight, those younger legs were the difference.  You’ve seen the numbers for fast break points.  You’re still shaking your head at the FT disparity.  You just read what Snoopy said about Westbrook.  Nearly every 50/50 ball went to OKC and it wasn’t just the bounce of the ball or luck.  The Thunder got to those balls quicker and they forced the issue off the dribble with their younger and fresher legs.  They beat the Lakers in transition and beat their rotations.  They raced by them every chance they could and earned the advantages that come with those quickness and speed advantages.

I really don’t need to say it again, but the Lakers got their butts kicked and their hats handed to them in this game.  And now, the series is tied 2-2 going back to LA with the series now sitting as a best of three between two evenly matched teams.  We’ll have more on the series in the upcoming days but in the same way that the Lakers are on a long flight home, us fans have a long wait until Tuesday.


Darius Soriano

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154 responses to Lakers/Thunder Game 4: Lakers Come Out Flat, End Up Flattened

  1. i’m driving to staples now to start a vigil. anyone want to join me?

    could use a designated driver after tonight…

  2. that was brutal. great breakdown. i don’t think there are simple answers but the thunder deserve a lot of credit. they played well and we can expect to see a lot more of that. Can’t help but doubt the lakers a little bit but still hoping they can put it together in time to escape the series.

  3. One last set of numbers that didn’t make the post:

    13-36 for 35 points vs. 11-27 for 43 points. This was the discrepancy in bench scoring between the Lakers and Thunder respectively. Again, the Lakers got manhandled. Without Odom’s 6-12 for 12 points, this comparison would have been even more lopsided in OKC’s favor. Harden and Ibaka were again difference makers for OKC while our bench was pretty much non-existent. It was nice for Odom to make an appearance in this series, though (even if it was only for the 2nd half). Just as I said that home cooking would help the Thunder role players, here’s hoping that a return to Staples will do the same for Farmar, Shannon, LO, and Walton (who thankfully came out unscathed from that horrible tumble he took when trying to block Maynor’s shot).

  4. The Thunder just played with unbelievable energy, force and drive to win this game, it was as if their lives depended on it, beating the Lakers.

    “When real people fall down in life, they get right back up and keep on walking.” – Michael Patrick King

    Yeah, the Lakers need to do some running to keep up with the OKC players on Tuesday.

  5. What is the vigil for?

    Trade Artist for Ariza?

    Dump 20 million by trading Walton, Sasha, Morrision and Farmer for Scotty Brooks.

    Demand that the TV crew including that screeching women never broadcast another NBA game.

    That OKC be forced to walk from OK to the staples center to even off the speed between the two teams.

    convince the NBA that we really meant to draft the other UCLA guard Westbrook instead of Farmer.

    I give what is the vigil for?

  6. Just watching the game I felt like the initial defense was good enough, Westbrook & Ibaka made a lot of jump shots that I was content with giving them but it was the OREBs and away from ball fouls, while in the penalty, that gave them the high point total.

    I’ll chalk this game up to a really good game by OKC and an excellent home crowd, but if this happens again in game 6, we’re in trouble.

    Regardless if we win this series or not I think we might not see any of our 3 PGs back next year.

  7. #5 thanks for reminding me, that woman color commentator was HORRIBLE, there were 2 calls in particular that had me questioning her knowledge of the game.

    1. Bynum (I think) bodying Green on an Alley-oop attempt, they were convinced that since Green was going for the oop that it should automatically be a shooting foul when clearly Bynum was fouled Green attempting to prevent the catch.

    2. The reversal of the travel call on Kobe when Kristic poked the ball from Kobe’s clutch, she seemed totally incapable of understanding what had happened.

    I’m sure this woman is a good color analyst but god she was awful in this game, I’ve heard good things about her before so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt but there’s no question that both commentators were caught up in the OKC crowd, hell even before the game they were saying the Ford Center was the loudest arena in the NBA… Really?!?

  8. Another thing which helped the Thunder is the 4 games in 7 nights. These next few games have 3 days rest, so that will benefit the Lakers.

    As excited as I am for the Thunder knotting the series up, in the end, you can say that each team did what they were supposed to do on their home court. I’m hoping that LO’s 2nd half isn’t a trend for the rest of the series, because that would definitely change the way the Thunder have to play defense.

  9. Houston, we have a problem. Too slow, too confused, too unmotivated, too unhealthy. Lose Monday, and this series is basically over-can’t see them winning in OKC behind in the series. Too bad this team isn’t in Seattle, where they belong-a good city that supported their team until it was horribly mismanaged. Artest is signed for 4 more years? Oi… How come Bynum never flashes to the ball across the paint from the weak side? He could then fake right, go left as Chick used to say.. Lakers could have drafted Chase Buddinger this past year, gotten at least a bit younger for the future..

  10. i think kobe should reduce his shots even further so that brown, farmar and artest can go better than 0-12 for threes… like maybe 1-16, that would be a good number. another game that just proves that farmar and brown are basically BEGGING phil to keep riding fishers ancient body. i cant be mad at ron because he is the guy who keeps us in this series defensively, but brown and farmar are both playing for contracts and are making a late push to get on the smush parker allstar team.

  11. #8. Jeremy,
    Thanks for continuing to provide solid analysis from the Thunder’s fans perspective. I agree on the every other day format so far. Especially with the travel after game two. That’s now been two games in three nights with a travel day on the fourth. The Lakers flatness could have had something to do with that schedule. But still, credit must be given to OKC. They’ve taken it to the Lakers at every turn. This game was eerily reminiscent of the last regular season game in between these teams in March. Ugh.

  12. On a different note, I’ve just deleted a couple of comments from gloating Thunder fans. You’re more than welcome to come and comment on the game, but we don’t live with baiting comments here. So, feel free to talk about the game, but do so respectfully or your comments will get moderated. Please see the commenting guidelines if you don’t know what I mean. Thanks.

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/commenting-guidelines/

  13. A second game in a row where the Free Throw disparity was horrible.

    I grant you that some of that is being aggressive versus being passive, but the Lakers did not throw up too many three point attempts tonight. (Well, beyond the well observed fact that ANY three point attempts might actually be too many…)

    All that said, the series hasn’t really started yet.

    You play for home court for a reason. Let’s hope the Lakers can come home, get the win, and put the pressure fully on the Robber Barons for two straight games.

  14. there have been hints,but is kobe hurting as bad as i think? the others dont have an excuse just getting outhustled…….would like to see more powell and mbenga,they play hard and bang and hustle.

  15. I wonder how game 5 would turn out.

  16. #13, Kobe is probably hurting more than he’s letting on, but that’s Kobe.

    This game recap post is brilliant. It articulated everything I noticed about the game. The two defensive possessions where Pau was running towards the basket with the ball handler running right behind him was comical – if I wasn’t a Lakers fan.

    - As far as fatigue goes, I don’t buy into that. These weren’t back-to-back games. A full day of rest should be adequate. I mean, we are talking about well-conditioned professional athletes here. We will see Tuesday whether Kobe has a pep in his step.

    - Our bench scoring was inflated by early garbage time. It was actually even worse.

    - I’m tired of watching Artest dribble the ball and then try to create something. He’s not that kind of a player. I’m also not liking Shannon Brown’s shot selection.

    - All we can really improve on is better offense-to-defense transition, as mentioned. I don’t see the free throw shooting woes as something that can be “fixed.” It’s a slump. If it was that easy to get out of a slump, no one would ever be in a slump. Unfortunately, many Laker players are having the slump at the same time.

  17. ThunderStruck!! April 25, 2010 at 12:45 am

    wow, was it the comment that your team got shellacked by 21 points in caps or was it the comment that the world champion lakers should be ashamed of that pathetic performance?

  18. #17. First of all, yours wasn’t the only comment. Second, what do you think? If you’ve got nothing to bring to comments but taunting and mocking, you can go somewhere else. There are literally dozens of Lakers sites where you can put up the type of comment that you did and troll around all you want. But, since this is the site that I run, I’ll just delete the comment if you do that here. Jeremy who is seemingly an OKC fan (#8) actually had something to say about the game and spoke to something that may have actually affected the outcome. We try to have an intelligent discussion here, if you can’t contribute to that without trying cause a stir, then (again) go somewhere else. Thanks.

  19. This series reminds me of the Lakers Kings series in 2000. Back then the series were 5 games. It was 1 vs 8. Back then Sacramento was a young team where Chris Webber, Jason Williams where the kevin durant and westbrook of today. We went to the full 5 games with that team and both games 3 and 4 we were beaten pretty good at Arco. The Lakers ended up taking care of business in that 5th game. The only difference is that the 2000 lakers team blew the kings out at home. This Lakers team needs to blow OKC out in game 5 to return the favor. That should be thier mindset for game 5. Then try and get game 6 at okc because we really let game 3 slip away. and if not just take care of business in game 7 at home.

  20. I didn’t like the woman commentator but think she actually had 1 good point.

    In one sequence she began talking about how KD has had the most FT attempts and makes in 23 years (since MJ). Then she mentioned that Phil was fined for his comments on KD getting to the charity stripe often and easily (info we already knew).

    However, she had a very interesting observation with her closing comments on this subject. She noted that KD’s ridiculously high FTs per game stats have actually gone up in this series. Very good point there but also very distrubing for Laker fans in many aspects.

  21. I think the officials were in the Lakers heads tonight. You could see they weren’t playing physical D, especially after the first quarter, because touch fouls were being called against them, This game reminds me of the Denver game earlier this season where Chauncey Billups just went nuts (like 11 threes or something), we got shellackled, and everyone thought it was the end of the Lakers.
    That said, the Lakers were slightly fighting back in the 3rd, but every time they would make a few baskets, get it to 12 or 11, a huge play would happend for the Thunder. One play in particular was the Kobe foul on the 3 point shot that went in. Some nights shots just fall for the other team, and the Thunder outworked us tonight. Was it embarassing? Of course, but I would have been just as dissapointed if we lost by 10.
    And guys, we really only have 1 bench player (Odom), that has played any semblance of good basketball since March, and he looks like he has a huge mismatch against green. Farmar doesn’t look right with that leg, Brown has been off ever since he jammed his hand up, Vujacic is gone courtesy of the Clippers, and I am not sure Powell, Mbenga, Walton and Morrison are even NBA caliber players. Thats why we have seen so many Laker blow outs – when things go South for the starting five, where can we go.

    With about 2 minutes left in the first today, Kobe took a seat and I believe it was 16-15 Thunder. When the quarter ended, we were down 12 – courtesy of Westbrook. Maybe its time to show that guy a little punishment. I don’t want any injuries, but maybe a little Tony Parker treatment circa 2002 to take him out of his element.

    Who is going to step up in our next game – be our energy guy, grab those rebounds, and get the crowds riled?

  22. Thunder fan here. I really believe the winner of game 5 will win this series. I’m not sure the Lakers can win the next game in the Ford Center if they lose 3 in a row, but I REALLY don’t think the Thunder can win a game 7 in Staples. And no team is more qualified to bounce back from a loss than the Lakers. The defending champions are too proud to lay down and let the Thunder roll. (see what I did there?)

  23. By the way,#7. Doris Burke was bad, but nothing was worse than Dan Shulman saying that Ibaka’s mom was ‘too busy’ to attend the game. She passed away when he was 8. They really need to so some research before talking about player’s families.

  24. I think one of the contributing factors for the free throw discrepancy this series is something we saw last year in the playoffs as well: the Lakers are gearing their offense to the half court, taking a lot of shots in the paint, where the refs are reluctant to call fouls (either way), whereas other teams are relying on speed and open court play, where fouls are more likely to be called.

    That said, while watching this game I didn’t think the refs were doing a bad job at all. The Thunder players were just moving faster and more aggressively at every point on the court.

    I think the Lakers can probably grind out this series based on home court advantage, and I think there’s a good chance the next round will be easier. But after that . . . I’m trying not to be to negative, but during the game I kept asking myself “And the Lakers have committed how much salary going forward to players over 30?”.

  25. As a Laker fan, it is really annoying to watch our guys play poorly in this game. Out-everything’d is the right word – including calls.

    hope lakers bounce back from a poor performance to a champion-like passion.

  26. So, Last week I go to upgrade my cable with a DVR (Awsome Technology!) The reason for this is because I knew that my new work schedule would affect game 3 (today) and most likely games to come ONCE WE ADVANCE! Needless to say, I made it to about 7 minutes left in the 3rd (I’d say that shows a pretty good amount of hope and/or misguided trust) and then I had to fast foward to see if “the man above” intervened with this game.

    Now I’m wondering if a DVR is too much power for one man. Maybe this is a sign from above, saying that this machine might make me lose my job or get a divorse…

    Or maybe the Lakers just really, really know how to make a good season dissapointing to me. (Only happening this year. The only time I came close to this was 04)

    Here’s to having no use for a DVR on Tuesday and of course a good old fashion Lakeshow domination here at the Staples Center.

  27. Great posts guys, keep it coming.

    If any, the Lakers should attack with some abandon on Tuesday. Let the referees decide how they plan to call the game but let it not be because of a letdown on our side. We have the tools to make it work. The PNR alone could cause a lot of problems.

    I have yet to see Lamar impact a game. I think it is due this 5th game.

    I also agree that who wins Game 5 will most likely win. Remembering Houston, we could lose Game 6 out of some lack of something reason and freak us out for a Game 7. As I said earlier, we can NOT allow this kind of complacency win our minds. The Thunder are too dangerous.

    But now I suppose the Thunder have their attention. GO LAKERS!

  28. “A series does not start until the home team loses, or game 7″.
    -Pat Riley

  29. TB-8788, I get what you’re driving at, but this series is already on. Are you saying there’s nothing on the line in game 5? Or that the Thunder have no chance to win it?

    If the Laker players are thinking that way, they might be heading for an early exit.

  30. Adam (Laker fan since ’85) April 25, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Well, this was frustrating to say the least. A few random thoughts:

    1. I wish we had Ariza. Seriously. The Lakers’ lack of “fresh legs” is evident. They hardly ever get easy buckets in transition. Ariza is young, long, fast and can defend. Artest looks, well, out of place on offense. He can’t shoot. He can’t run in transition. It’s like we’re the Pat Riley Knicks — half-court offense, long, big bodies — without the physicality.

    2. Fast, offensive-minded 6 footers — from Aaron Brooks to Barbosa to Bobby Jackson to Damon Stoudemire to Bibby to, going back 25 years, Sleepy Floyd — have historically given the Lakers fits. And now Westbrook. Why can’t we get one of those?

    3. Oh yeah, Jordan Farmar is not the answer. Westbook (and his backup) made him look silly and like the inferior UCLA player. Farmar is one of my least all-time favorite Lakers. I have no faith in him to knock down shots, run the offense or play D. He doesn’t bring enough energy when he comes into the game, almost like he’s taken a step back in 2-3 years. He’s *gone* after this year, and good riddens. He is a marginal NBA at best. I’d rather have JJ Barea. Seriously, I can’t state this enough: I LOATHE JORDAN FARMAR AS A LA LAKER.

    4. I wish Lamar Odom was a mean SOB. He would be closer to the level KG has achieved. (I know, you can’t change a leapard’s spots). I wish Drew would get one flagrant foul, or swing at someone one day.

    5. I can’t help but think, instead of both Bynum and Pau, we had a stud PG (Rondo, Chris Paul) and a bruiser inside. Sometimes Pau and Drew play well together, but often, I feel like they’re tying to get out of each other’s way.

    6. The chick announcer was, as expected, sucky. She asked “When’s the last time Kobe attempted only 2 shots in a half?” Um, ~ 2004. Sacramento. When Kobe took himself out of the game offensively in that infamous “Kobe not shooting” game.

    7. Kobe is obviously not healthy. This is going to be a serious problem going forward — if they make it that far.

    Better root for Utah.

  31. First off, great blog and great recap. I’ve been a laker fan all my life (i was there for the game 7 comeback against portland… my lord). Is it wrong that I find myself subconsciously, unwittingly rooting for the thunder? They are so fun to watch! I mean, i don’t think there is a single fanbase that’s watching this series that doesn’t wish their team played like the thunder. Seeing Westbrook drive on Fisher hurts so much, but it is also so beautiful. This is the sports equivalent of fighting an erection in a public space.

    Also, can Luke Walton never play another minute this series? I think he’d make good friends with Morrison.

  32. MAN ODEM N RON ACT AS IS THEY R THRU DO THEY UNDERSTAND ITS WIN R GO HOME.

  33. swedishmeatballs April 25, 2010 at 6:53 am

    a little swedish pessimism for ya: Lakers lose in 6.

  34. Nobody’s mentioning this: Kobe left the building early.

    I think he’s getting a pass.

    Whatta team guy…

  35. Have to give credit where credit is due. OKC plays phenomonal b-ball in their gym. Their fans are unbelievable. Reminds me of the Celtics fans of ’84 & ’85, the Utah fans of ’97 & ’98 and the Sacramento fans in the early 2000′s. The players are just feeding off of that energy. Simply put, they’re outworking us. Much more aggressive attacking the rack, getting to lose balls faster & dictating the tempo.

    At this point of playoff b-ball, it’s not about “making adjustments” anymore. I mean, seriously, what can be implemented (offensively or defensively) at this time, that can be ran effeciently enough for us to benefit from it. Truth be told, we’re having problems running sets that we’ve been using all year. So what should make me believe that we can run something differently now & be effective @ it.

    Right now, it’s all ’bout Determination & Will. Which team wants it more? Which team will take the charges, dive for lose balls, set clean hard picks, box out effectively & so on and so forth. That will be the determining factor. The so-called, “little things.” We’re more talented & experienced. They’re more youthful & athletic. EFFORT, which is something that can’t be taught, will decide this series.

    On another note: Nice to see Kobe reverting back to his pouting ways. His “win my way or lose your way” mentality. Or is it the “since you say I shoot too much, I won’t shoot @ all” mentality. Or as Skip Bayless calls it: “Weird Kobe.” Managing the game? Not taking a shot until 15 mins has elapsed & we’re down 15 pts. In a frenzied, college like atmosphere. That’s managing the game? As Ochocinco would say, “Child Puhleeze.” And what about him not sticking around for the ending? I’m utterly surprised that this hasn’t been talked about. According to the sideline reporter, he headed to the locker room early with the Massage Therapist to get “early treatment.” C’mon Man. That “treatment” couldn’t be put on hold for an extra 10-15 mins? Show true leadership and remain on the bench with the rest of your teammates. In my opinion, Kobe’s actions for this entire game was STRAIGHT UP SELFISH. Even Stevie Wonder could see this.

  36. Laker fans come to terms with reality. It’s over. Maybe not this series, but soon. And long-term, it’s for the best. Kobe needs to get HEALTHY and the team is not playing right – in your heart, you know it too: http://bit.ly/aE41Rb

  37. #33 I am prepared for that fact especially given how kobe looks BUT as a fan you always grasp at straws and if we beat OKC, it could line up Utah, Phoenix, then Orlando. We’ve had Utah & Phoenix’s # the past few seasons and Orlando is tough but I think that series is close to 50/50.

  38. anyone know what happened to bill bridges? easily the best commentator on the site, no disrespect to present company.

  39. @Darius
    Thunder fan here. I appreciate the way you police your blog. Royce Young of Daily Thunder has a similar practice which came in handy, especially last year.

    That said, I was surprised the earlier “Robber Baron” comment was allowed to remain.

    Congratulations on a great blog, and best wishes from the Big Friendly.

  40. “2. The reversal of the travel call on Kobe when Kristic poked the ball from Kobe’s clutch, she seemed totally incapable of understanding what had happened.”

    I know it’s self evident that the Lakers – and Kobe in particular – can do little wrong but if you actually tried to watch the replay you’ll see that Kobe held on to the ball a smidge longer after it was poked before letting go of it. It wasn’t simply batted out of his hand.

    The woman also remarked that there must be overwhelming evidence to the contrary for the call to be overturned (which there wasn’t). Besides, when she was celebrating Kobe Bryant as a virtuoso when he was launching contested jumpers against Ronnie Brewer in last year’s playoffs I didn’t see too much head scratching in these forums.

    C’mon. The Lakers are big boys and it’s just one game. They’ll figure it out. No need to get so emotional that you start blaming the COMMENTATORS for things that, at least, aren’t even clear cut. Show some poise and confidence. Thunder fans did and look how their team was counted out as roadkill.

  41. #36 (MartzMimic),

    I have sworn a mighty oath to never refer to that team (talented as it is) as anything other than “Robber Barons” until Clay Bennett no longer owns them.

    Nothing against the players, (Durant is obviously great, but so are Westbrook, Green, Ibaka, and Harden) or even against the city (especially after the support that Oklahoma City showed the Hornets after Katrina, and of course those folks want and deserve a franchise) but strictly because Bennett and Stern absolutely jobbed the Seattle, and did so not to reward Oklahoma City, but to punish Seattle for voting to not spend taxpayer dollars on renovations for the Sonics arena.

    Go Lakers, or as I sometimes call them for old times sake, the Zombie Twins…

  42. Wow, rough loss for the Lakers, but great analysis by Darius. In looking at the stats from the game (http://statsbynumbers.com/game/?date=2010-04-24&away=LAL&home=OKC), it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how this game got out of control. The disparities mentioned above show where the subtle differences are, but the truth is that the Lakers just didn’t have heart.

    The Lakers actually gave themselves more possessions with a 82-76 FGA advantage and even made more shots (34 vs. 31)! Jump shooting was roughly the same for both teams with LAL 37.93% + OKC 35.71%. So how did the Thunder walk away with the win convincingly?

    The +25 FTM plusminus (http://tinyurl.com/2ckzzl5) easily exceed the advantage of the next team on the day (+6 by the Blazers) and was pretty much the whole difference in the 21 point game. Here’s to hoping the Lakers can close the gap in game 5 back in LA.

  43. Technical point @ #30 – you could also make the point that Kobe shut down the shots in our last playoff game of ’07 vs. the Suns.

    I still think we win this series, just in 7 games (a la Houston last year). That said, our roster for next yeare will require that we need a serious upgrade at PG (and one who can run the triangle) along with a young player who can either hit the 3/run on the break or have a nice midrange game and can penetrate some on dribble drives.

    Our team runs 7 deep for the most part. Farmar and Brown could have an impact if they played to their strengths and stay in the offense. Nothing like a great butt-kicking to get our attention. There’s a reason this 8 seed team won 50 games.

    Best two out of three with two at our place – let’s go Lakers!!

  44. Couple of points:

    1. Before the season, I and some others expressed dismay at the Artest/Ariza switch since:

    a. Ariza was the only quick guy on the team.
    b. He was the team’s best transition player.

    The addition of Artest has made the team older, bulkier, and slower, and that is being exposed by this matchup. Don’t get me wrong–Artest gives it his all and he helps in many ways-but this is a problem.

    2. Both Odom and Ariza went on career runs from 3 during the playoffs last year. One thing that Artest was supposed to bring was more reliability than Ariza on 3s. He shot only 35.5% during the season, and is 3/23 in this series.

    3. I said before the playoffs that it would bear watching how Boston and San Antonio looked, vs. how the Lakers looked, in terms of fatigue/life-in-the-legs. Conceding that matchups play a role, I think we are getting an answer.

  45. heh heh, I can’t get too excited about gloating Thunder fans. I’ll gladly grant they are a young, exciting team. But that’s a very, very long way from NBA dominance.

    A little history lesson for front running Thunder fans: The last time your franchise was any sort of factor it was being led into The Finals by Gary Peyton and Shawn Kemp (that’s right: who?)

    Before that, a Lakers rookie named Magic Johnson led a ~ 38 point blowout of the then defending champion Sonics and they weren’t heard from again for many many years. So gloat away all you want – but don’t plan on hanging any banners soon.

  46. @ #21

    i was thinking the same thing about westbrook. i dont want anything dirty, but a hard foul to intimidate the thunder from driving in could work. one of our advantages is the size of our frontcourt, we should be using that to stop penetration.

    as bad as the game was, there were a few positives

    - odom actually made an imprint on the game

    -kobe was making a conscious effort to get the ball to pau and bynum

    -fisher has been shooting better

    kobe and artest are due for a good shooting game soon. hopefully that happens in game 5 and 6.

  47. #40 there are plenty the Lakers did wrong as evidenced by my other posts, NOWHERE am I blaming the loss on the announcers. I was commenting how they were completely swept up in the moment and fell in love with the OKC fans.

    I’ll have to watch the video again sometime but when I watched it live it seemed like Shulman understood the issue and Burke was totally clueless.

    BTW poise by the fans has NOTHING to do with the teams performance. OKC fans seemed way more up in arms after that Utah/OKC non-call a month back, they seem to be doing ok right now

  48. @3ThreeIII
    I can understand and respect that, however it does seem to fly in the face of no baiting comments.

    As for the game and the series, it will be interesting to see what happens Tuesday night. Somehow – and I can’t explain it – the Thunder has managed to negate the Lakers’ length inside. Kobe is obviously banged up, and I would hate to think he’s going to soon resemble KG with the ever-present ice pack. I have trouble believing the Thunder can win the series – I picked 34 wins for the season – but I have more hope than I did before last night.

    Again, best wishes all.

    P.S. A lot of us like the “Zombie Sonics” moniker that Bill Simmons dropped on the Thunder.

  49. #39. MartzMimic,
    I’m familiar with Royce and respect his work over at The Daily Thunder.

    As for the Robber Baron’s comment, sorry if you or any other Thunder fan gets offended by that, but that’s a tough thing to police. For me, I see that as something said in jest as a dig at Bennett for the circumstances surrounding the Sonics leaving Seattle and becoming the Thunder. After Lebron called that one pet move of his a “crab dribble” there were some around here that started to call them the Crabaliers. It’s not very high brow, I know, but I don’t see the harm in it. Personally, I have nothing but the highest of respect for the Thunder’s players and their fans so I take it all in jest. Again, sorry if you or any other Thunder fan was offended.

  50. #18.

    Thanks Darius for taking a stand. That’s what I like most about this website. Besides the knowledgeable and insightful comments that people post here, you don’t let the conversations devolve into taunting and trolling. A good moderator has ground rules that create a certain type of culture among its members. Free speech? Sure, you’re free to take your speech somewhere else if you can’t play by the rules.

    Having said that, I’ve always believed that there is no such thing as a proverbial switch for the Lakers. There are only adjustments that get sustained and thus forming new good habits. As Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

    It’s not too late for the Lakers to make the adjustments, not just in terms of tactics and strategies, but their overall mindset and team dynamics.

    Last season’s series with the Houston showed that the Lakers, when cornered, are able to reach deep within and burst forth with the required effort. Winning the Houston series woke the Lakers up from their mystifying stupor, and they did much better against the next round opponents (Denver Nuggets).

    So when (or “if”, for those who are bent on writing the Lakers off) the Lakers survive this series, they are going to be better for it. Another cliche going your way, “What doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger” (or perhaps just main you for life).

  51. On a side note, the “woman commentator” has a name – Doris Burke. And like any other announcer, feel free to say that you didn’t like her style, but saying things like calling her a “screeching woman” and implying that she was awful solely for that fact that she was a woman is classless.

    Personally, I didn’t have an issue with her. My one complaint with both of the announcers was the overplaying of the Lakers poor play. It’s like they don’t remember last season’s Lakers struggles or Boston’s struggles the year before that. The playoffs are going to be difficult and before they started I think everyone should have understood that the West was a minefield where no series was going to be easy. In the 4 series so far, all 8 teams have won at least one game.

  52. If kobe and Lamar are aggressive from the start we’ll be fine. We gotta have better guard play too.

  53. #51 – I felt some of the earlier comments were off base as well. Doris did a great job on the game last night; when it comes to her style, I’ll take it over McHale and the ‘Czar’ most times.

  54. Sorry Darius but it was the high tone of her voice when she got excited that really rubbed me the wrong way. I feel the announcer should have knowledge and control of their voice. I wasen’t bothered so much with her reduntant comments as her high pitched voice.

    Perhaps I would have been more receptive if the Lakers weren;t being smashed but can you really say at times it didn’t bother you. I was watching the game at the local cigar store and 12 people were complaining about it.

  55. Come on, guys. I’m first to criticize Bryant but haven’t lost this game because of him. we have lost because of transition defense and lack of energy. It’s a systemic failure, not an individual one.

    I think we had too high expactations. The truth is Lakers this season weren’t THAT good a team. I know some people don’tlike numbers but take a look at points differentials. Lakers W/L was much better than it “should” be – we were quite lucky this season (the second lucky team in the west – Mavericks).

    Yes, we should win with OKC, we are better team, but it’s much closer than 1-8 standings would suggest. I’ve prognosed Lakers 4-3 before the series but I wouldn’t bet on it. Yes, I think Lakers could lose the series. Last season I was sure we will make it to the finals.

    And I still think Artest-Ariza “exchange” was a mistake.

  56. Yes there are plenty worse announcers out there (JVG using every game as his soapbox) but I just felt they were too giddy yesterday.

  57. 30 Adam
    Last year when Ariza got a steal it was two points the other way. Now when artest gets a steal its a 50 50 whether we score the other way. Granted I still think our defense is better with artest since we don’t have to overhelp. However our transition game seems to be lacking. I also wonder if teams are attacking the offensive glass more instead of respecting the transition game. Lastly how come our bits aren’t trying to beat people down the floor anymore for easy post position and entry? This seems like as good a strategy as any to beat a fronting defense.

  58. @43 Supposedly the Hornets plan on trading either Paul (not likely) or Collison. My understanding is that they feel they can get max value for Collison now after such a terrific season. Someone would have to take on bad contracts along with him, but if I’m the Lakers brass, I make the phone call.

  59. @Darius
    No, I’m not offended. If “Robber Baron” was the worst thing ever said about us… Barons was actually one of the names suggested, though the connection was more with oil. I’ll be the first to recommend “Sonicsgate” to anyone. Not to rehash the past, but our feeling is that if it hadn’t been Clay Bennett and OKC, it would have been San Diego, Kansas City or another locale. We have several Sonics fans whose insight has made Daily Thunder better, and I feel for their loss.

    @R
    Who’s talking about hanging banners? The Lakers have shown how a superstar and one significant trade can make a huge difference. You guys lived through the post-Shaq/pre-Pau days.

    Oh, and it was Gary Payton. The only Peyton I know in sports plays for the Colts. Don’t assume that because we didn’t have a team in our backyard we didn’t follow the NBA. Maybe not as closely, but neither of us have an NFL team, so you guys understand what it’s like to follow a team from another city.

  60. Fellow Laker fans, let’s relax a tad…this series resembles the Houston series somewhat last year expect the Thunder are most more talented. We went for the kill in Game 3 and it didn’t work out which might explain the lackidaisical effort last night.
    Game 5 will provide big tell sign for our group so let’s hold out the bashing til then.

    On a side note, as a Canadian, I’m shocked you don’t know your ESPN announcers better. Doris Burke did all the sideline reporting in last years NBA Finals and Dan Shulhman was awarded the Sports Broadcaster of the Year in 2009. He’s another Canadian the ESPN bigwigs courted from Toronto and to look after primarily baseball broadcasts first and basketball to a lesser degree.
    I suggest holding your criticism to a minimum. If the Lakers would’ve showed any fight last night, the commentary wouldn’t have been this one-sided.

  61. Listen, you can make “quickness” and “effort” excuses all you want.

    It’s very difficult to overcome a +20 free throw advantage (especially when the opposing team shoots FIFTY FREAKING FREE THROWS). It’s even harder to overcome a +20 free throw advantage when you know, going into the game, that you’re about to get jobbed.

    There’s a reason the Lakers looked lackluster…as soon as the calls started going against them, they subconsciously started to let up.

    That’s been a problem with the team for the past ten years. The only clear example of them “playing through the calls” was Game 4 of the Finals last year.

    Truth be told, I thought they did a pretty good job of playing through the calls in Game 3…but the refs were pretty determined to give a win to the Thunder as evinced by the bogus And 1 they gave to Westbrook, the absurd away from the ball foul on Ron, and the fact they said Ron’s foot was on the line on both his threes (yet, they never reviewed it? Huh?).

    You can talk about “energy” and “heart” all you want, but it’s tough to play your hardest when you know you’re actively getting jobbed by the refs.

    That’s the truth.

    Can anyone give me an example of another road team in the playoffs that has to overcome a +20 free throw differential?

  62. Well, I was watching the local KCAL 9 channel, so I did not hear the ESPN announcers last night at all, I like Stu and company. I am over my sadness from last night’s loss/blowout/dismantling, and I am starting to get excited about Tuesday’s game at Staples now. This is now a must win game for the Lakers, again in my book. Darius, glad to see the moderation again in full force here at FB&G, very good work on the Post, bye the way. Yeah, where did Bill Bridges go?

  63. I think the downfall of the Lakers started during the All-star game this year. Wait, here me out. Remember all the hype and mystic behind Shannon Brown’s dunk contest participation. The entire Laker Nation was ready to proclaim Shannon the next big thing. Here was a young, athletic, wingman, who had the ability to cement his name in front of stars, with the strong backing behind Kobe and the Laker Nation. He had several couragous awe-inspiring moments against the Nuggets in last year’s playoffs and we all thought he would fill the athletic void left behind by the departure of Ariza. Well, we all know what happened next. Essentially, all the hype and mystic we entrusted in Shannon left the building and I think it has affected the way other teams viewed and treated the Lakers ever since the All-star game.

    This gets me to the point I am trying to make. Do you remember when the Laker bench was something to be proud of (in 2007-08 and 08-09, excluding this year)? They were great at changing the pace of the game. The first unit was more deliberate and methodical and the second unit was more uptempo and free-flowing. This was led by the high energy plays of Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza for those past years. This year, Shannon Brown was suppose to step into that role. He should be Mr. energy and Mr. excitement. What happened to the WOW in his plays? Without a solid and contributing bench, we pretty much have zero chance in the playoffs. The reason the Lakers offensive has been atrocious this year is not because of the play of the 1st unit, it is because of our lack of depth in the 2nd unit. If the Lakers have to solely rely on their 1st unit for everything and every time, they become too predictable and guardable and that is what I’m seeing when they play against OKC. They have to mix up their offense more and it doesn’t help when the 2nd unit is just trying to play the same type of slow-down game as the 1st unit. I’m interested in your thoughts on how the Lakers can put more wrinkles into their offensive to keep the OKC defense more honest and off-balanced.

  64. FTA advantage hurts. But a slashing team will usually get more FTA than jumpshooting/posting up one. And FTAs or not – we were outrebounded, outshooted for 3, outblocked and have more TOs. Take away those 20 FTAs – OKC still has more points.

    There is one bright spot though – our starters played no more than 32 minutes. They should be well rested for the next game. Some 30+ points win would be a nice exclamation sign.

  65. The Lakers really haven’t had much intensity all year. I think that is due to some players being satisfied from getting one ring combined with the toll (mental as much as physical) that the injuries have taken. I was hoping that they could turn the intensity up with the playoffs, but it doesn’t look like they will.

  66. Bitter Sonics ex-Fan April 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Nothing against Thunder fans–the enthusiasm and noise are impressive–but you guys are living in your NBA Honeymoon Cocoon. Enjoy it, because when Stern takes a disliking to the Ford Center (give it a couple of years, it’ll be “ramshackle” or “decrepit”), and you don’t roll over on the “privatize the profit, socialize the losses” NBA business model, you’ll start taking it personally, like we did.

    And thanks to the Laker fans here who recognize and remember what was done to us.

  67. Adam (Laker fan since ’85) April 25, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    57 Don

    Yes, last year a steal from Ariza meant 2 easy points. He was so athletic and quick.

    Listen, Artest is a very good player, but playoffs are all about matchups.

    And the C/F rotation [Pau, Drew, Artest, LO] is exposed if they end up being in a situation where the *other* team dictates the tempo. So, that means getting rebounds and cutting down turnovers so the Thunder aren’t off and running. We’ll be fine — I think the Lakers win the next two — but boy is is frustrating staying up late (East Coast time) to watch themlay an egg.

    My wishes for this Summer:

    OUT – Farmar, Sasha, AMMO

    IN – Kyle Kolver, Caros Arroyo and draft a rookie PG

  68. tdog you have something there. Our starters include a old and often abused Fisher, A usually injured and often out of breath Bynam, a confused and poor shooting Artist and a tired and injured Kobe.

    No team in the playoffs needs a energy boost and time to rest like the Lakers. Yet the 2nd unit the 2nd half of the season is the lowest rated of the 16 teams in the playoffs.

    If we had a young, health team like OKC we could get away with playing the starters 45 minutes a game. We don’t and are stuck with contract errors like Walton, Sasha, Morrison, Farmer and Powell.

    We will live or die with our starters and mean while teams like Cavs and Orlando are rolling with 8 or 9 NBA players on their team.

  69. It’s one game at a time and best not to take this game to heart. Scratch away that 20 FTA discrepancy (which is ridiculous no matter what anyone says about speed and effort), and you have a 1 pt game.

    At this point, I wish the NBA had robots to make calls, I’m sick of referees and sick of Stern pretending it’s not a league-wide problem. Not allowing players or coaches to make a statement when something genuinely bogus happens is also ridiculous and does far more to hurt “consumer confidence” than the comments, especially when most of us can see that they’re correct. If this only happened once in a while, then I’d understand Stern’s position…but it’s becoming increasingly common.

  70. Anybody who dosen’t think our offense is the problem is not paying attention.

    kobe shooting 38% from field and 72% from the line. Last year after 4 games its was 46% and 83%.

    Ron Artist is shooting 30% from the field 13% from 3 ans 50% from the line. Also he has 13 rebounds in 4 games.

    We all know what Ariza did last year. 4-times better in 3′s over 50%, 30% better in FT and twice as good on rebounds.

    Our offense is killing us. Easy to see why. And for all that talk abour Ron being the Durant stopper. he is avaraging over 27 a game and shooting as many FT as during the season.

    Conclusion: Signing Ron ranks at this time as the biggest error made since trading Butler for Stone Hands Brown.

  71. Wow, there have been 70 comments so far and not one about how the Lakers are being completely and thoroughly outcoached. If someone suggested that in the fourth game of the series one team would “melt down” and would have completed its fourth consecutive failed effort to run even a semblance of an offense, wouldn’t you have thought it would be the younger and less experienced team?

    What ever happens in the rest of this series, I think it is time for Phil Jackson to move on. Either he and his staff have made no adjustments, or his players have flat out refused to implement them. This is not the stuff of $12 million a year contract renewals.

    As I watch this series I see only one team that is prepared to play, and that is the team that is playing harder, playing smarter, playing tougher, playing faster and playing better. Sadly, that would be the Thunder.

  72. Funky Chicken

    To say that the lakers are being outcoached would be blasphemous. But the truth is the lakers are being “out” everything. This team doesn’t look like a team with championship aspirations.

    Its one thing losing a game, its another to be completely outclassed. The cavs are not getting outclassed, the spurs aren’t, the magic aren’t. But he lakers are. Blame it on injuries and fatigue if you want, but if thats truly the case then it’ll only get worse for the lakers.

  73. #71. Funky Chicken,
    You didn’t see the adjustments made from game 3 to game 4? Did you not see much better ball movement? Did the ball not get into the low post much easier than in the previous game? The difference was that the outside shots weren’t falling in game 4 the way that they fell in game 3. In game 3, the Lakers made 10 three pointers, while in game 4 they made only four. You combine that 18 point difference with the faulty performance at the foul line and that is the difference in the game. Coaching adjustments can only go so far. The players still need to do the things that they get paid to do – make shots and execute the fundamentals of the game. I don’t care how much you prepare or how much you coach ‘em up, if the players miss open shots and don’t convert at the foul line a coach is pretty much powerless to do anything but keep giving them the message and reiterating the game plan and hope that those things change. Oh, and if no one noticed, Phil went to the bench. He played Walton, Powell, and even Ammo got a quick burn. None of those players did much with their minutes. If the players don’t hit shots, is that really on the coach?

  74. Fisher, PLEASE step up and flagrant foul Westbrook like you did to Scola last year.

  75. This is only the second time a 1 seed faces a 50-win 8th seed–the first time the 1st seed (Dallas) lost to the 8th seed(Golden State)–so I’m not sure why tv experts are so schocked that the Lakers are tied 2-2 with the Thunder.

    This is especially true since the Lakers haven’t played well in well over a month.

    I still think the Lakers have the better team but just can’t seem to execute well enough. I also think they can do a better job of burning the Thunder for fronting the post and looking to block every hint of shot.

    If this were football, the Lakers would run a reverse or some kind of mis-direction play to counter the Thunder’s overpursuit. The Lakers need to use the Thunder’s speed, athleticism and aggressiveness against them. (Something Stu mentioned at on the KCAL broadcast).

  76. #74… so then Farmar would defend Westbrook?

  77. John Matrix,

    We don’t need that, Fisher took the foul last year because he felt like Scola was trying to punk Odom, the Thunder aren’t doing anything like that. OKC is just playing hard and making shots, if Odom and Kobe drive to the basket more eventually the refs have to start calling more fouls.

  78. Let’s be clear. Cats on this post REALLY feel that the reason why we lost these 2 games in OKC is because of the officiating.

    Question. Is it just me or were we ahead (by 1) going into the 4th quarter of game 3?

    Question. Is it just me or did we shoot 31 three pointers in game 3?

    Question. Is it just me or did we get out-rebounded by 14 in game 3?

    Question. Is it just me or was game 4 basically over by the end of the 1st quarter?

    If one was to answer these questions honestly & intelligently, they’ll recognize that the OFFICIATING had NOTHING to do with these losses.

    So what you’re telling me is that after the 3rd quarter, in game 3, the free throw disparity wasn’t already evident? Yet and so, we were still up a point.

    So what you’re telling me is that we’re suppose to get to the charity stripe by settling for launching 3′s in game three? People, this is Playoff Basketball. Refs reward aggression. Not soft play. You have to earn your way to the line by attacking.

    So what you’re telling me is that EFFORT has nothing to do with the fact that even though we have 2 seven footers in our lineup (who are both very long), we were still severely out-hustled & muscled for rebounds? Their speed, desire & athleticism made that possible.

    And finally, what you’re telling me is that the refs played a role in last nights BLOWOUT? Quite simply, if you believe that, you might as well be hanging out with the 3 Blind Mice.

    Hunger + Passion + Will = EFFORT. That’s what won the 2 games in OKC. As Laker Fans, we’re better than this. Let’s stop MAKING EXCUSES.

  79. Darius, actually I did not see much in the way of adjustments from game 3 to 4. Phil went to the bench, but primarily after game was out of hand.

    The Lakers made a concerted effort to get the ball inside, as they have in the first quarter of every game. I did not see them stick to that plan, nor did I see them make any adjustment to getting the ball inside against a fronting defense.

    Moreover, my point is that even if adjustments were attempted by the coaching staff, they were lost on the players. To simply write game 4 off as the result of shots not dropping is to miss a much larger problem.

    Hey, maybe it is me, but when I watch this Laker group play, I don’t see a team that has any sense of a “plan”. To me, that’s on the coach; and if the coach is doing everything he can but the players still aren’t getting it, then that, too, is on the coach. No doubt that players have to play, but coaches have to get players ready to play. Does Ron Artest look ready to play to you?

  80. Funky Chicken,
    What I saw was better ball reversals and quicker decisions with the ball to ensure that the fronting of the post was less possible. Did that mean that everything worked perfectly? Of course not. But if you’re looking for everything that the Lakers do to work and for other team to look befuddled by everything that our team does, that’s a bit off base.

    Does Artest look ready to play? On defense, yes he does. Now, I’m sure people that want to discredit the coaching job that Phil has done will want to give Ron his individual praise while leaving out the coaches and then assign blame to the coaches when a player doesn’t look good trying to execute something. And, I understand that Ron still doesn’t look comfortable on offense (which I’m sure is what you’re referencing). Is that the coaches fault? Some of it is, surely. But every player doesn’t pick up this offense at the same speed. I find it funny that when a player like Gasol picks up the Triangle effortlessly it’s a testament to Pau’s BBIQ and his skill as a player. But if a player like Ron doesn’t pick up the offense it’s now on the coaches. That, to me, defines a double standard. Phil either gets credit for Pau while taking blame for Ron or he gets no credit nor blame for either.

    As for your other point about adjustments being lost on the players, we’ll just have to agree to disagree there. Are you saying that if players don’t learn it’s always on the teacher? If that’s the case, why isn’t every citizen in this country an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer or a member of some other profession where a high level of learning/comprehension/hard work is needed? Is that on every teacher that every person has ever had in their life? Or could it possibly be individuals control more about their circumstances than what those that try to teach or develop them do?

    In the end, I happen to believe in shared success and shared failure. I’m not trying to absolve Phil, but his critics love to point out that it’s his fault that things don’t go right and to me, that’s comical.

  81. There are 31 teams who would trade coaches with you, Funky. Don’t get too down on Phil. He’s dealing with injuries, an awful bench and, to an extent, complacency. We’ll learn a lot about this team’s desire in game 5.

  82. Darius, you are a master of hyperbole. I’m not looking for everything the Lakers do to work, or expecting to see the other team befuddled. I just don’t want the opposite, which is precisely what is occurring in this series. Only one team appears to have a clear sense of what to do. The Lakers look very, very confused. Four games into a series, I would not expect that from a veteran team, much less a veteran team of defending champs. I think most unbiased observers would consider Scotty Brooks’ team better prepared for this series than PJ’s.

    As for the notion that if Pau picked up the triangle quickly, Phil deserves credit, well I think that is overly simplistic. If Phil did a great job of coaching up Pau, and that is why Pau picked up the offense so easily, then by all means Phil deserves credit. However, maybe Pau has a better BBIQ as you say, and he didn’t require as much coaching. I suspect it is the latter, but since I wasn’t at practice, I can accept that Phil might be responsible for Pau’s development.

    What I DO see is that after a full season and 4 playoff games, Ron does not know where to be (according to the paper, Andrew and Pau have to teach him where to be on the floor). If true, I’d say that is a failure of coaching. Moreover, it would be consistent with the statements we’ve seen over the last year from guys like Farmar and Bynum who have expressed confusion over what is expected of them–something that surely implicates the coaches (as well as the players). We all know that Phil’s preferred method is to let guys “figure it out on their own”, right? Well sometimes they don’t.

    Your final argument, with all due respect, is absurd. If we as a society paid teachers $12 million a year, then you better believe we would judge them on how well their students performed. But we don’t. Jerry Buss does pay Phil that amount, and for that kind of money I think he would be well within his rights to insist that his coach actually “connect” with his players.

    Of course individuals control more about their circumstances and outcomes than what their teachers do. But again, unlike teachers, NBA coaches are paid based on how their players produce. By what other measure would you evaluate an NBA coach?

    None of this should even be taken as a criticism of Phil Jackson, per se. After a certain period of time, even the best coaches lose their effectiveness in connecting with players, something no less a source than Phil Jackson himself has said.

  83. All good points by everyone.

    But, if the Lakers lose game five, the rest is elementary.

    Lose game 5, and say hello to summer offseason.

  84. Well, the way I see it is that Lakers have possibly the worst bench among the playoff teams. That’s where the problem is. I don’t ever want to hear about how “versatile” and “talented” LO is. Maybe with his just married wife. But not on the court.

  85. thisisweaksauce April 25, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Why shoot 3s if they won’t go in? Maybe we should simply take a lot fewer of them. If you’re bad at something, why make that the focus? We shoot 3s even though the Lakers know they’re not very good from long range.

  86. I was surprised by the outcome of this game. I expected more from the Lakers.

    Darius did an awesome job pointing out the salient numbers. But here is what jumped out at me.

    In the last two games Brown and Farmar are 5-22 and 0-12 on threes. Contrast that to the first two games where they were 8-15 and 3-6. Apparently they are not ready for road games in the playoffs.

    Looking back at the three point shooting for all four games the percentages look like this. 36%, 21%, 34% and 18%

    Contrast this to Cleveland’s numbers – 27%, 50%, 40% and 48%.

    I have been saying for weeks now, the problem for the Lakers is a complete lack of an outside threat. I know there are other issues and finer points. But the Lakers are not going much deeper in the playoffs unless they find some outside shooting.

  87. Funky Chicken – if every time we got blown out or “melt down” management considered removing PJ then he would not have 11 championships. It is his calm, whole-picture approach that makes him so good. I also wouldn’t put so much weight on the fourth quarter as I believe our guys had thrown in the towel somewhere within the first half of the third. I saw that in the first quarter Pau and Bynum were getting easier post entries, they were just rushed and couldn’t hit shots they normally make. It doesn’t help that your outside shooters can’t spread the floor for you.

  88. Funky Chicken,
    I’m happy to a master of anything. ;) In all seriousness, I think we just see things a bit differently and that is fine. But, I don’t agree with statements like the Lakers look very confused. Or that only one team looks prepared. What I saw was a Thunder team that played better. And, despite what others may think, I don’t always relate the other team playing better to things that the coaches control (like, for example how coaches can’t control open shots that don’t go in).

  89. I never wanted LO to be resigned but most fans and coaches and others stated the he is the X-factor – he can play so many positions blah blah blah. Well – he has been absolutely trash the past 4 games. To me – inconsistent play is not worth it. You need to know what player is going to show up – at least the majority of the time. I know they’re not robots but all we really know about LO is that he is inconsistent and loves candy.

    Artest for Ariza – I was always for Artest but not at the expense of Ariza – LO should have gone. We actually need both. If Lakers gets past OKC, we’ll need Artest for the slower big forwards. Ariza is perfect for this series.

    We need to trade one of the big men because two 7 footers is not working. John Wooden said he would not want 2 big men – he wants balance – and he wants all his players to be quicker than the opposing player.

    As another blogger stated – OKC looks like the veteran team. Lakers have the deer in the headlights look. They’re going down in 6. And the staples fan absolutely stink – they make no noise at all.

    Looking forward to the major changes that should be taking place this off season for the lakers. Come on – even the Raiders made some decent trades.

    I am just amazed by the players on our bench…Walton, Sasha, Powell, Farmar, Brown, Morrison – how in the hell did we even get this far??!!!!

  90. Free Throw Breakdowns Per Game:

    Game 1) Lakers WIN.
    Final Score LAL = 87 OKC = 79

    LAL Free Throws = 15 of 22.
    OKC Free Throws = 19 of 24.

    OKC +2 Attempts.
    OKC +4 Points.

    Game 2) Lakers WIN.
    Final Score LAL = 95 OKC = 92

    LAL Free Throws = 23 of 32.
    OKC Free Throws = 29 of 33.

    OKC +1 Attempt.
    OKC +6 Points.

    Game 3) Lakers LOSE.
    Final Score LAL = 96 OKC = 101

    LAL Free Throws = 10 of 12.
    OKC Free Throws = 27 of 34.

    OKC +22 Attempts.
    OKC +17 Points.

    Game 4) Lakers LOSE.
    Final Score LAL = 89 OKC = 110

    LAL Free Throws = 17 of 28.
    OKC Free Throws = 42 of 48.

    OKC +20 Attempts.
    OKC +25 Points.

    So, throughout four games, in each game the Robber Barons have had the advantage in Free Throw Attempts and in Points from Free Throws.

    Their combined advantage in four games has been +45 Free Throw Attempts and +52 Points from Free Throws.

    Quick averages: The Robber Barons are getting 11.25 more Free Throw Attempts and 13 more Points from Free Throws per game than the Lakers.

    Tell me again how that hasn’t mattered…

    Even New Jersey (92.4 PPG + 13 = 105.4 PPG) would give Phoenix a hard time (109.9 PPG) if given that kind Free Throw Differential.

    That is not even getting into the difference that makes in playstyle. Of course Durant/Westbrook and company are driving at will. Why wouldn’t you if you are getting all the calls? Of course Ibaka and friends are blocking and defending the interior like maniacs. Why wouldn’t you if nothing is getting called against you?

    Charity stripe indeed.

  91. Funky and Darius. Coaching has 2 parts. Making adjustments and having your team listen to the coach and carry out those adjustments.

    Phil may be making adjustments but it appears players like Farmer, Brown, Artist and Odom either can’t or refuse to do as they are told.

    In my view this is bad coaching if the players do not respond to the coach.

    Perhaps Phil arrogent, let them work it out for themselves coaching dosen’t work with this team

    I hope I am wrong but one thing is clear. If the Lakers do not make it out of the West Phil will not be back.

  92. As for the comment made that 31 teams(more then there are teams) would trade coaches I disagree. Promise you OKC would not nor would Spurs and I assure you the Clippers would not pay Phil $12 million.

    Perhaps Jordan would hire Phil and Phil could go back and coach the Knicks but your comment has no reality in my mind.

  93. Darius, you are a master a several things (hyperbole was just the one I chose to highlight…), managing this blog among them. I have been following and rooting for the Lakers for nearly 30 years, and it is not unusual for fans to see different things.

    To be clear, I am not picking on PJ merely because the team is losing these past 2 games. I can accept losing, particularly when your team has been as injury-riddled as this year’s squad. What troubles me is not just that they are losing, but HOW they are losing.

    It seems that the players tend to abandon the game plan as soon as the first round of substitutions occurs. Bynum and, to a slightly lesser degree, Gasol are consistently getting good looks in the first quarter of each game. I have trouble understanding why they cannot get the same looks later in the game (like, say, the start of the 3rd quarter). For the most part, the ball movement I see consists of swinging the ball around the perimeter, which is not terribly effective when you have no perimeter shooters, so the defense just stays home, the shot clock winds down and they force the ball to Kobe for a bailout shot. I think that’s what I’m referring to by “confused”. Where is the high-low action? Where is the post cutter? Where is the dribble penetration?

    No doubt, my posts are motivated by concern (fear, maybe) that this series is a lot different than last year against Houston (the last time I was about ready to throw the remote at the tv…). Last year, the problem was simply the arrogance of a team that thought they would beat Houston just because they were better. In the end, nothing more than “effort” was needed to dispatch a terribly undermanned Rockets team.

    By contrast, this series seems like a legitimate threat. The Thunder are very, very good. The two best players in this series so far are on the other side (Westbrook and Durant), and you could even make a case for Ibaka being a more consistent all around post player than either of the Laker bigs. Add to that a much deeper bench and more athleticism, and I can easily see the Thunder winning this series–something I never felt about Houston last year.

    As for all this talk about the refs and free throws, I would be the first person to argue that there has been unfair or one-sided officiating. If it was the case. It isn’t. OKC is getting to the line because they are pushing the action and acting like the aggressor. Whistles go to the team that is the more active team, and right now that contest isn’t close, which is why the free throw disparity is what it is.

  94. This is tongue and cheek, but I wish we could trade our fans. Not for disloyalty, but because of being short sighted and spoiled. Over the course of the past three seasons these are the people that have been called out by Lakers fans as either having lost it, needing to be replaced, or not doing enough to help this team win: Jerry Buss, “management”, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic, Adam Morrison, and Josh Powell. That’s every person possible except for Mbenga (and who knows, I may have missed an anti-DJ rant). How can it be possible that at one point or another fans have called for the heads of every single one of these people yet the Lakers made the playoffs as the #1 seed in the West?

  95. I am not advocating any type of dirty plays, but those 100mph driving Thunder players, should be aware that they may run into a wall under the hoop, or preferably just before it. Yeah, that was a ‘hard’ screen Fisher gave, as I recall, why not another one of those before the series ends, like on Tuesday.

  96. #94. Funky Chicken,
    I hear what you’re saying. And to a certain extent, I’m not sure if it’s the coaches or the players fault, per se, but just how this season has developed and the circumstances that have occurred. From the injuries, to integrating Artest, to the free agent status of our primary back up guards, to the further decline of Fisher…a lot of variables have not gone in the Lakers favor and we may be seeing the results. That said, the season is not over. There will be plenty of time to discuss potential changes and the direction of the franchise when the season does end. I think we’re all in agreement that even if the Lakers were to win the title, next year’s team is going to look different and it will be a *new* season in more ways than the calendar changing.

  97. If you all want to see how a team should play the game watch the Spurs. The playoff version is right now the best team in the west.

    Perhaps Pop know when to rest his players and when to have them ready.

    Now that is coaching!

  98. OKC isn’t a great 3pt shooting team, so I think zoning up every so often might be productive.

    When you look at OKC’s losses this year, one common factor is the # of ftas by opponents. Lakers have to find a balance between being aggressive but also smart, and try to draw fouls and take charges.

  99. 41% 3′s for Dallas and 35% for Spurs and 90% freethrows.

    I can only dream of those kind of numbers.

    Looking at Manu’s nose I wonder how long Andrew would be out with a broken nose?

    Thoughts?

  100. You couldn’t let LO go; they would not have been able to sign any decent backups for C and PF because they were/are over the cap.

  101. Funky,
    It is totally fair to judge Jackson on his results. Two years ago: getting to the Finals with a team that had gone through major offseason turmoil, significant mid-season personnel changes and significant injuries. Last season – championship. This season – significant amount of injuries, major losses on the coaching staff, and had the best record in a HIGHLY competitive West. Sounds to me like he’s doing pretty well.

  102. Maybe Phil should have the players on the team spend a lot of time working on their jump shots. They’ve missed way too many wide open shots this series.

  103. ex, if we are talking about the past, I have no quarrel with the idea that PJ is the greatest coach in NBA history. If we are talking about this year, I think a fair argument can be made that he has not been up to his own standards.

    When you are the defending champs, and when you are (by far) the highest paid coach in the league, winning the regular season conference “title” is inconsequential. What matters is how your team finishes, and while Darius is quite right that the season isn’t over and there is yet time to “flip the switch”, I don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that this year’s team is unlikely to repeat. I hope they do, but if they don’t I think that among the other places to point the finger, some blame can be assigned to the coach–and with that kind of a salary, he is going to be judged by a “championship or failure” standard. That’s the burden of being the greatest ever and in pulling down $12 mil.

  104. Although things are a little tense now, my hopes are buoyed by Lamar actually showing up in game 4, and Fisher coming back from the dead in both games 3 and 4.

    We need to get back to a slow-it-down, half court game. Our half-court defense has been suffocating for the Thunder; it’s been long missed shots, offensive rebounds, and transition buckets off turnovers that have killed us. Back home, the free throws will even out, and if Fisher continues his strong recent play, I see a tense but comfortable win for the Lakers in game 5.

    People are always looking for someone to blame when the Lakers lose, whether it be Phil, Kobe, Fisher, Bynum, Pau, Odom, or whomever. How about you blame the Thunder? Novel idea, right? They’re playing damn good, and the commenters should be giving them a ton more credit. For those who aren’t bandwagon-hopping, fair-weather fans, this is what happens in basketball. You play the games. One team wins; the other goes home. That team may be the Lakers, and it may just be because the Thunder played damn good.

  105. Yes the Thunder are playing good Zephid. Very good. But they don’t have a patten on freethrow defense. Lakers 60% game 4 with a vet team. Also Ron shooting 13% on wide open 3′s is not a product of the Thunder. Or Kobe twice fouling on a 3 point attempts.

    I don’t have a problem giving credit but some things we are doing can not be ignored.

  106. Ok, ok. Fine. Since I really love you guys, I am going to share my crystal ball reading with you. It say’s…

    WCF: Spurs vs. Lakers
    ECF: Magic vs. Celtics

  107. Sorry Tremble your ball is broken. West is correct buy no way the NBA will allow Cavs to lose. Not gonna happen.

  108. going to a slow it down, grind it out game is a double-edged sword. the lakers aren’t an efficient offensive team. they don’t get to the line regularly, and they don’t shoot 3s very well at all. with fewer possessions, there’s not a lot of margin for error.

  109. Ok seriously, for all of you people saying, relax, the lakers struggled last year in the playoffs as well and came through, you people need to wake up. This is not the same Laker team from last year. And we also did not struggle in the first round last year. I felt very safe that we were going to come through against Housten and even Denver last year, last year we could seriously turn it on and play great basketball because we were a great team. This years Lakers team isnt great. Kobe not being the same Kobe of the past few seasons is half of that, and then besides Gasol, nobody else can really be counted on for coming through with a big game. Thats not negativity people, its facts. I am worried and have a right to be. I guess you all can think what you want, but lets not compare this year’s Lakers team to last year’s, they are not the same team…

  110. My conclusion on looking at the Spurs is that Popovich is a very good coach when his team is healthy (otherwise known as the odd years). It kind of looks like Jackson may have learned some of the same techniques.

  111. I know Kobe said he’s going to play this summer, but do you think he’ll reconsider and take the time off? I dunno how it looked on TV Saturday, but he really looks a step slow from the stands. I’m not sure if was because of his facilitator role or if he is just really banged up and tired.

  112. Funky Chicken,
    The problem is that Jackson doesn’t have other REALISTIC options with this roster, especially when you consider the injuries. I suppose if you want you could blame him for not figuring out how to motivate Lamar, and for not figuring out how to get Kobe to completely buy in to the triangle.

    Yes, some people will judge him by a “championship or failure” standard. Those who do that don’t understand basketball.

  113. If OKC keeps attacking LA, they will win Game 5. If they settle for jumpers, LA will win.
    I find it funny that OKC is the one backing off the LA guards daring them to shot outside. While at the same time, the LA slow/old guards are getting up CLOSER to OKC guards and putting hands all over them and sending the thunder to the line or they get blown by 95 miles per hour. I thought Phil Jackson was a “strategic” coach? Seems he is getting out coached so far?

    Heres OKC secret formula….

    1) Strategic Defense of letting guards shoot jumpers: bricks leads to OKC fast breaks
    2) Opposing Defense gets tired and wears down: which creates FOULS

    So, by OKC backing off LAs guards, it almost does a reverse phy game of “we dare you” to shoot it. But it is actually the fuel of the Offense! Brilliant.

  114. exhelodrvr,

    I guess you must think that dr buss doesn’t understand basketball then – because if the lakers lose in the first or second round (in reality, probably if the don’t win the ring) – PJ won’t be coming back.

  115. If you all want to see the difference a outstand coach can make

    See number 2 seed Dallas and Spurs.

    See Denver vs Utah with 2 starter out.

    Can you imagine the excuses we would hear if the Lakers were missing 2 starters.Not a word from Sloan.

  116. If the Thunder get Bosh and/or learn how to run the half-court offense better, watch out!

  117. 110, um, if you’re the same Joe from last year who kept bringing up Gasol’s softness, then no, you didn’t feel remotely safe that we would come through against Houston or Denver or Utah for that matter. Sorry if you’re a different Joe, but there were plenty of people who were running around claiming the world was about the end during the 3rd quarter of Game 6 against Houston.

    If you look hard enough, you’ll always find reasons to doubt the Lakers, or any team for that matter. Part of enjoying the ride is knowing that these flaws exist, but still holding hope that the Lakers will win, while simultaneously understanding that, yes, they could lose.

  118. if James in 1 in the league right now then Williams is 1a. Man he is a great player.

  119. #115. Jay,
    You must know Dr. Buss personally, right? Or maybe you’ve had conversations with Mitch Kupchak? I only ask because the GM of the team essentially said that whether or not Phil returned would totally be based off what he (Phil) decides:

    Regardless of how the Lakers finish the season, it will be Phil Jackson’s decision whether he returns as coach, general manager Mitch Kupchak said.

    In an interview with 710 ESPN Los Angeles on Thursday night, Kupchak said even if the Lakers lost in the first round of the playoffs, it would not affect Jackson’s standing.

    “I’m not sure that has anything to do with it,” Kupchak said during the 15-minute interview. “A coach doesn’t forget how to coach in one season. … His body of work speaks for itself.

    “If we don’t perform well this year, my guess it’s likely due to [having] a team that’s been injured or [one that] maybe runs into a team that’s really, really hot, so I’m not really concerned that will be an issue.”

    Ken,
    You’re the classic the grass is always greener fan. You want Popovich, you want Sloan. Even when the Lakers win, you’re finding ways to poke holes in the win. I know you’re a long time fan and obviously passionate about the team. But, I’ll ask again, please try to have some perspective in all of this. Even I’ve been saying for weeks that the Mavs may have peaked too early and that a healthy Ginobili can be a real difference maker in a series. Parker and Hill are the worst types of guards for Kidd to cover at this point in his career and Shawn Marion has been awful in these playoffs. You combine that with Haywood kind of sulking now that Dampier is back and the Mavs are a shell of the team that had their big win streak earlier in the year. You can credit Pop (and I think he deserves credit), but last year where was his genius when they were getting bounced out of the playoffs? Could it be that he’s as smart as having a healthy group of players to go to battle with? As for Sloan, yes he’s a great coach (truly, truly great). But he’s now facing a team that is missing their head coach entirely (get well soon Coach Karl) and was stumbling going down the stretch of the season. There’s a reason they ended up the 4th seed when they were #2 in the conference for most of the regular season. There usually is another layer of analysis to how things play out and it’s not as simple as “look how great that coach is – his team won!”.

  120. Darius I never said I would prefer Pop or Sloan to Phil. I think Kobe would have a hard time playing for both. They are both very controlling types while Phil lets Kobe and the team play.

    I have had several talks with Rodman over cigars here in Newport and he admitted that Phil is a great practice coach but not much on game adjustments.

    I would agree and feel that the 2 days of practice will give the Lakers the edge to win.

    I also feel Sloan and Pop have to coach its in their DNA I don’t feel the same about Phil and if they lost early I think he would choose to not return and do other things.

  121. Yes, I do..I’m on the inside with Dr Buss but love to waste my hours on this meaningless blog.

  122. ex, do the Lakers not have the best overall talent 1 through 6 in the league? This isn’t the 2005 roster. I’m just saying that when you have that kind of talent, the only way you lose games in the first round is when you are getting outworked. Getting outworked seems to be a hallmark of this team, and at some level that goes back to the coach. If the Lakers played with the intensity of the Thunder or another team that has a much bigger claim to being decimated by injury, Portland, then this series would already be over.

    My primary criticism goes to the players, but I think it is the responsibility of the coaching staff to get players ready to play and to put them in a position to succeed. How can that happen? How about calling a few time outs and setting up plays to attack weaknesses. Durant picks up two first half fouls and stays in the game; why not call a play to put him in jeopardy? Mindlessly sticking to the triangle (particularly when it isn’t working, much less when you have weaknesses to exploit) is what leads to the charge of being outcoached.

  123. Bitter Sonics ex-Fan April 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    #114, Curtis: “If OKC keeps attacking LA, they will win Game 5. If they settle for jumpers, LA will win.”

    What happens on the road? Teams settle for jumpers. It’s an old story, but the likelihood that OkC keeps attacking is reduced simply because they’ll be on the road.

  124. heh, this is why i don’t like coming to laker sites after a loss. have to mud through frustration to get nuggets of information.

    anyway, i’m just happy that Utah won against Denver. not so much that the Spurs won against Dallas tho, I kinda wanted them to be knotted up. Also I’d be more than gleeful if Miami could somehow knock Boston out…

    as for the bright side of our losses in OKC…

    maybe the extra ticket sales will help buss stay well above the luxury cap. A game 7 with the possibility of the greatest upset ever would be crazy!

  125. hello all–

    i’ve been a real hand-wringer/pessimist both on this site and in my high-stress house these days, so let me change it up a little and provide a comparison that may perhaps soften the blow of the last week for similarly borderline-suicidal laker fans:

    The West Playoffs, Round 1:

    #1 LAL v #8 OKC: Series is 2-2, both teams having won their homegames.

    #2 DAL v. #7 SAS: Series is 3-1 in favor of the 7th seed, having won once in Dallas and twice at home.

    #3: PHX v #6 POR: Series is 2-2 with each team losing once at home.

    #4: DEN v #5 UTA: Series is 3-1 to the badly injured 5 seed, having won one in Denver and both in SLC.

    To summarize, in the four series in the west, the Lakers remain the only one of the higher-ranked teams to have won both of their homegames, which is absolutely critical when you’re looking at a game 7 at Staples. That’s what we played for all season right?

    Despite everything, of all the teams with HCA, the Lakers still look to me like they have the best chance of advancing (others may say Phoenix).

    Don’t get me wrong: this doesn’t make me feel any better about how we’re playing, nor does it stop me from uttering a chain of obscenities when the ball bounces between Lamar and Bynum only for Westbrook to come from 10 feet away and pick it up, but it perhaps provides some context for how good all these teams are in the west and how much all of these series are up for grabs. OKC has all kinds of advantages over us, as we do over them, but until they win at Staples, this remains ours to lose. Furthermore, while OKC has all the momentum right now, I remain unconvinced that role players like Harden and Ibaka can play that well on the road (and if they can, we may be looking at the west’s representative in the Finals). I’m sweating bullets, but I still like our chances… and looking forward, the two teams that scared me the most in the west when the playoffs began look like they’re about to be eliminated (Den and Dal).

    Things can still break perfectly for this Lakers squad.

  126. Having the Jazz and the Spurs both go up 3-1 in their respective series gives us a nice lift.

    Assuming we get it together and make it past the young legs of Durant and Company…

  127. I have been thinking that, what is the worst upset in NBA Playoff history. Do you think this transplanted and young Thunder team, taking out the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers, would be the greatest upset ever? Bye the way, I have not given up hope yet for my back-to-back Championship cap, not yet at least.

  128. There has never been a world champ the next year losing to a 8th seend since this playoff format began. So your answer is this would be the biggest ever.

    Its not going to happen. Kobe will not allow it to.

  129. Once Artest learns that his role on this year’s championship team is to play defense, get steals and rebound; the Lakers will be better off! Artest needs to view himself as a prototype of Dennis Rodman and get his points off offensive rebounds. His shot is not falling for him, whether its due to the injury or the loss of legs after playing defense so aggressively this year, I cannot say. He just needs to be an opportunistic scorer.

    Even though the Lakers weaknesses have been exposed, I believe that they’ll win in six games.

    Initially, I predicted five but due to obvious reasons my assessment has been adjusted!

    Note to self: Do not be so reactionary during the game tomorrow! Chicken Little, the sky is not falling!

  130. lil pau i commend you on your knowledge and passion for the Lakers. My wife thinks I am nuts with my passion for the Lakers. I run 2 companies and she says I care more for the Lakers then my companies.

    Makes me feel better to know there are others out there who appear to care as much.

    Maybe I will start a Laker rehab.

  131. I think Dallas losing to Golden State was worse, but even that is not horrible.

    Front offices and coaching staffs all know that playoffs are about three things.

    1) Injuries. They can decimate a squad. They can also provide for a role-player or rookie to suddenly blow up.

    2) Match-ups. If they are good at what you defend poorly, it is going to be a long series. If they can defend against what you do well, it is going to suck.

    3) Momentum. Belief is contagious.

    At the moment I think it is fair to say that all three things are against the Lakers at the moment.

    So, can experience, savvy, willpower, and pride turn this around.

    Of course. These same gloom and doom sayings were happening just last season, in the Denver Series, and ESPECIALLY in the Houston Series.

    If the Lakers focus, play their game, limit the transition game of Westbrook and limit the free throws that have been KILLING them, then all will quickly be well.

    Just three nights ago it looked like the Lakers were going to breeze to a win in Game 3. Things shift.

    Go Lakers.

  132. Maybe it’s Dr. Buss’ secret demand to make some extra money having a game 7 at home. You know, NBA is a business afterall. It’s all part of the plan guys. J/k

  133. Ken, Laker-rehab is a good idea. Only one place to hold it: ‘Can-CUN’ (thanks, Nick)! I look forward to enrolling in helpful seminars such as Herbal Remedies for Stress Management taught by Lamar Odom and Maintaining Your Focus (Yawn) taught by Adam Morrison. Just don’t put Smush in charge of valet parking or Kwame in charge of dessert. Recreational activities (optional, extra fee) to be led by Radmonovic.

    P.S. You think I’m nuts here– you should see me at the games. The scourge of my section, perhaps, but worth about 1.26 points per game over the course of a season.

  134. @90 3ThreeIII

    Thank you so much for laying it out; no one can righteously argue that the charity stripe has not mattered in this series. It doesn’t change what happened, but it was absolutely a factor.

  135. Ah, playoff basketball. Where every win is loved and every loss is the end of the world.

    Jay, if it’s a meaningless blog, then don’t come here. People work on this thing so don’t hate. People work damn hard on this site. (moderated.)

    —————–

    I’ve browsed through all the comments (took me forever) and i Just want to comment on a few things:

    Artest for Ariza swap. For all of you who said it was a mistake: Even if we didn’t get artest, we weren’t going to get Ariza. We were not going to pay him more money then what we offered him, but his agent decided to play chicken with Dr. Buss. Also, we’re judging Artest on 4 games and comparing it to Ariza’s entire playoff performance. How is that even fair? Ron artest even said, if they don’t win, its on him, but how bout we say that if we are eliminated?

    Second, if the Thunder beat the Lakers it will be the biggest upset in NBA playoff history. Defending Champion v. playoff neophyte.

    Third, all the people who now say that they weren’t worried last year during those tough series… please. I love the Lakers and I’m always an optimist, but I was damn worried. In my head thinking: how can houston without yao take us to the brink. so come on. It’s a 2-2 series with OKC seemingly having some momentum. But we’re a pretty damn good team, injuries and all. And are coming back home. The team worked all season to get that advantage and we’ll see what happens.

    Now, the same issues brought up before the series are still happening. #1 Kobe’s health. #2 Running a fluid offense based somewhat on the triangle. #3 outside shooting. Same issues.

    That’s why they play the games!.

    (P.S., i hate to bring this up, and forgive me Darius, but I have to bring up the possible conspiracy angle regarding OKC’s first sporting even there. Seems important that they have a good showing, especially by the NBA. Which is why Stern was there for Game 3? OK, thats all I’ll say about that. THis is not to belittle OKC or their team at all. The OKC fans were amazing and I wish Laker fans (IM SPEAKING TO YOU SITTING IN THE 100s section!!) were like that.

    Lets just play the game and we’ll see what happens.

  136. I believe that officiating played a big part in the two loses of the Lakers. Free throws disparity was 22 more free throws in game 3 and 20 more in game 4. All in favor of Thunder. If one is playing the game, and defending the same way as the opponent, one will expect to have the same call otherwise one will lose his spirit and enthusiasm to play. And that exactly what happened to the Lakers. In my humble opinion.

  137. Ironically our strengths seem to have become our weaknesses, and of all the trouble the Lakers have had against the Thunder, our beloved Fish seems to be the least of them.

    In game 4 Fisher at times hit some big shots to stem the tide… and, as the only Laker at the moment, he is hitting a good clip from downtown (50% from three for the series).

    Kobe, the veteran leader, fouled jump-shooters three times last game, and missed his own free throws – wounded or not, fact is that he did not provide veteran stability through out game 4. Thus negating what should have been a huge advantage.

    The strength inside seems to be a double-edged blade in this series. Yes, we are a lot longer and stronger, but all that strength is heavy and slow to throw around, and Thunder has turned that into a fast break frenzy and an rebounding edge (getting all long rebounds, and out-jumping our tower-guards).

    Gasol, Bynum and Odom must adjust on defence, and respect the aggressiveness and speed of the Thunder. Do.Not.Send.Them.To.The.Line… unless you are also sending them to the floor.

    Let them finish over our length and worry about the charge, unless there is a good opportunity to deliver a smack down.

    And on offense, that same trio must go up stronger. No more fading hookshots. Try to dunk it all, let the smaller opponents take the pounding of contesting strong dunk-attempts. Wear them down and equalize the FT-balance.

  138. From #94, Funky Chicken:

    As for all this talk about the refs and free throws, I would be the first person to argue that there has been unfair or one-sided officiating. If it was the case. It isn’t. OKC is getting to the line because they are pushing the action and acting like the aggressor. Whistles go to the team that is the more active team, and right now that contest isn’t close, which is why the free throw disparity is what it is.

    From #138, Anders:

    Gasol, Bynum and Odom must adjust on defence, and respect the aggressiveness and speed of the Thunder. Do.Not.Send.Them.To.The.Line … And on offense, that same trio must go up stronger. No more fading hookshots. Try to dunk it all, let the smaller opponents take the pounding of contesting strong dunk-attempts. Wear them down and equalize the FT-balance.

    Thank You Funky Chicken & Anders For Your Excellent Basketball Analysis.

    Exactly My Point. Let’s Stop Making Excuses.

  139. Prediction Shocker – OKC by 10 in LA Tuesday night.

    If it happens, do you think LA will show up for Game 6? Or just forfeit the series?

    Maybe they should have the massage therapist and cans of Insure in looker room ready?

  140. 123) Funky,
    “do the Lakers not have the best overall talent 1 through 6 in the league?”

    When they are playing at their best, definitely. RIght now it’s not even close. Not with Bynum still coming off an injury, Kobe fighting injuries, and Lamar being Lamar.

  141. 137 – I agree, Fisher has been solid this series (great by his standards). The ways he’s getting burned on D would happen to half the PGs in the league. For explosive guards like Westbrook or Rondo, their entire offense is initiated through penetration. It’s their calling card, FIsh isn’t doing any worse than most would do.

    He’s also hit some very timely threes in this series. What worries me is that we have a limited supply of GoodFish left, and we’re wasting it in games that are out of reach. We need some GoodFish tomorrow night!

    Man, Tuesday is a long ways away.

  142. There should be a return policy in players’ contracts that gives owners the right for a refund in case a player gets married.

  143. First post of the playoffs. Guess I wanted to wait until the darkest of hours to comment. As expected much doom and gloom. I do not share this outlook. But I also think it is naive to land on the square which Kobe and a very few others have taken that says “all that has happened so far is that both teams have protected their home court”. This is a just a tad more serious. But in the end I think the P&G prevail but it will take all 7 to do so. In wading through the extensive post mortem above I want to compliment Darius on his “tale of the tape” summary and Anders (#137) is spot on. Nice work!

  144. Laker’s fan since 69 April 26, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Interesting account of the Laker’s situation. I would echo/add by summing up the following:

    1) Ariza for Artest looks bad now for two reasons: the Laker’s bench has simply disappeared relative to last yr for reasons unknown, though injuries play some role. Thus, Ariza’s shooting is missed to greater degree, and Artest’s woeful 3pt % glaring issue.

    2) Bynum as bust issue continues to surface; is it the energy absence due to nagging injuries? Foul prone? No “respect from refs”? Dunno. He’s got to step up soon, or the bust label fits.

    3) FThrows: some good comments above, but note that early in game three tone was established: Pau gets hit underneath a great deal, often no call. Kobe generally gets calls, but not Pau, and certainly not Bynum. Would increase aggressive play on Pau/Bynum’s part help? Certainly, but we can’t have another Crawford ref’d game, plain and simple. The refs influence games in subtle ways, and the inconsistency is the key, IMHO.

    4) Can the bench come back to the fore? Doesn’t seem likely, don’t know why.

    5) Hope: still maintain that playing healthy, and with energy, the starting 5 + 1 of the Lakers can beat anyone on any night, but we need THAT plus SOME bench performance, and CONSISTENCY from refs (did you see how well Dick Bavata (sorry–sp?) did in the game last night? And the other Crawford? Much more consistency it seemed to me…

  145. It will be interesting to see all the comments after game 5. I expect another close game (only one has been a blowout) and I expect to see our Lakers prevail – I’ll say 105-98.

    One poster already said it, but if we can get past OKC (not an easy task granted the 2-2 state we’re in), the rest of the West could break nicely. While facing a currently strong Utah might look tough, we have so many looks to throw at Boozer that they might win a game. If we are good enough to get by OKC and Utah, we would play either Phx (I don’t see Portland winning, but it could happen) or SA (the Mavs ain’t coming back). There’s still hope.

    And Funky Chicken – dude, seriously, take a chill pill. I’m so glad we have good moderators (thanks, Darius!).

  146. OKC wins Game 7 because it is played 40 hours after game 6 win….and the Lakers cannot handle that kind of quick turn-a-round….too old and banged up!

    However, don’t be surprised if they win the next 2 in a row either. OKC lost by 2 on the road in game 2 without a great game from several players. Now, Hardin and Green are getting their grove back.

  147. lil pau. I can’t go to games. I was asked to sell me tickets by a vote of the people around me.

    My wife won’t let me watch it at home.

    I refuse to go to bars due to the number of non-basketbakk fans and my access to throwable objects.

    My only solution is the cigar store where the guy can’t throw me out because my company supplies him cigars.
    I admit I really need help.

    Perhaps a zen thing will help.

    Phil send me a book!

  148. Curtis,
    Your statements symbolize the one sided approach to being a fan. Sure, their were Thunder players that didn’t play well in the game 2 loss. The inverse of that is true for the Lakers as well – there were plenty of Lakers that didn’t play well in games 3 & 4. I think it’s fair to expect that both sides can play better, no?

  149. Snoopy,
    Fisher is shooting well in tis series… but to say he is defending Westbrook as well as most PG’s would is just flat out wrong. Russell came into this series a 42% shooter. He is heading into game 5 a 57% shooter. The proof is in the pudding.

  150. Why can’t these Lakers figure out to to beat this “fronting” style of covering our post players? Please can someone here w/ more basketball knowledge explain this to me?

  151. to 152:

    Because they are not shooting well outside. If Artest, Kobe, Fisher, Farmer, etc start hitting outside shots, it will move out. Scott Brooks is kinda daring them or teasing them to take those shots. It makes total since and is the safer strategy because Brooks wants those “bricks” to lead to fast break points!

    So, by LA trying to get their inside game going first, actually helps OKC. LA should try to get their outside shooting down first and then go down low. But, if you are Phil Jackson and your % is that low….what can you do?

  152. ahhh aaron, i was wondering when you were going to blame fisher since game 2.