Just links this morning. I’ll have some analysis on how the Thunder are defending the Lakers for tomorrow morning. However, for now, enjoy these links.
From Silver Screen and Roll: Damn, that was an ugly loss. Now, let’s examine the reasons: Our bigs are freakin babies who let people 4 inches shorter outrebound them by double figures; our outside shooters have long since gouged out their eyes at the sight of Ammo; the refs are taking money from Clay Bennet; Kobe’s getting old and useless and should be traded for Darren Collison while we still have the chance; we shoulda shipped Drew’s injury-prone ass out for Kidd when we had the chance; Pau is a pussy, and we should have kept Marc and Kwame instead; Mitch Kupchak is an idiot; Phil is senile and should be replaced with Byron Scott ASAP; Lamar needs to go into candy rehab; our bench is the worst in NBA history; Voodoo Gods have cursed us with injuries; our team is older than the Celtics; we have lazy players; Kobe accidentally stepped on Brian Shaw’d two-thousand-dollar Armani loafers; etc, etc… Did I get everything (seriously, tell me if I missed something. I wouldn’t want to feel I wasn’t doing my job)?
From Land O’ Lakers: While there was certainly a sense the Lakers would be better off with the Thunder than, say, San Antonio, generally speaking, nobody thought L.A.’s first round matchup with the Oklahoma City would be easy. I, like a lot of media types, picked the Lakers in six. A healthy portion picked L.A. in seven. But nobody without an overdeveloped need for contrarian thinking or an Oklahoma City ZIP code actually picked the Thunder to win. Maybe those predictions are out there, but I couldn’t find them.
From Momma There Goes That Man: I can’t say enough about what Kevin Durant and Thunder are doing out there to Kobe and the Lakers. We knew this would be an exciting match up and we knew this young squad would tire out the Lakers a lil bit. But not many predicted that they could even win 1 against the defending champs much less tie up the series at 2 a piece. The Lakers are playing downright terrible basketball and Oklahoma is definitely capitalizing without a moment’s hesitation. Such is the benefit of having “nothing to lose.” Oh how exciting Game 5 will be!
From Laker Noise: If you’re expecting a fan — blind in love or blind in hate — to be anything other than a fanatic, you’re wasting your time. By definition, true fans surrender all perspective. They turn the streets of their community, like the streets of Green Bay, into Night Of The Living Cheeseheads. Zombies on the loose, they join the cult, surrendering time, money, heart, soul, their last shred of human decency, to the team. They are a marketing director’s wet dream, even if they can’t afford tickets to the actual game itself. They’ll buy the T-shirts, posters, videos, all the bullshit that comes with idol worship. Take 10,000 true fans and put them in an arena, and they can shout open the gates of hell.
From Talkhoops.net: If I had to guess, I would think that it is nights like Game 5 of the Lakers-Thunder series is the reason Zach Harper spends the regular season blogging about the Sacramento Kings and the Toronto Raptors. As a writer, it’s hard to be taken seriously if you can’t display some sort of objectivity, and when you’ve been emotionally invested in one team for so long, it becomes hard to write about that team without biases flowing from your finger tips, and it becomes harder when that team you love so much is playing terribly. But the terrible play probably isn’t what gets to Zach, it’s the Timberwolves, he’s used to that – but perhaps it becomes a lack of effort. A lack of effort from the front office. A lack of effort from the coaching staff. A lack of effort from the collective fan base. Or in the Lakers’ case in Game 5, a lack of effort from the players.
From the Los Angeles Times: Kobe Bryant strolled into the interview room, pulled his sunglasses off and adjusted his eyes to the bright lights. He spoke in even tones, neither mad nor happy, about the Lakers having been defeated by 21 points, 110-89, by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series at the Ford Center. The Lakers lost both games here, trailing by 29 at one point in Game 4. The best-of-seven series is now tied, 2-2. Game 5 is Tuesday night at Staples Center. That was the only good news for the Lakers.
From the Los Angeles Times: The Lakers’ performances against the Oklahoma City Thunder creates a level of thinking in two camps, one that believes the Lakers’ armor continues to crack and it’s only a matter of time before things go really sour and the other believes this is all just a overreaction and everything will work out just fine. Nonetheless, the Lakers have been down this path before, as recently as last season when Houston challenged them to a seven-game Western Conference series before the Lakers advanced. I cringe when people bring up this series as evidence that current concerns about the Lakers are overblown, because I think it only raises an even more indicting question. Does the fact that the Lakers played with fire yet didn’t get burned really deserve such praise? I don’t think it does, but for better or worse, the Lakers have been down this path before, and have managed to get out of it.
From the OC Register: The way it’s going right now, Oklahoma City’s young, exciting, fearless flyers could easily grab some skateboards and add a few half-pipes while soaring past ground-bound Lakers veterans for rebounds and baskets. The Lakers thought this was the first round of the NBA playoffs, but the X Games have broken out. And for all Derek Fisher knows, Russell Westbrook is in fact riding a motocross bike as he roars by him.
From the OC Register: Ten shots in the fourth quarter of Game 3. No shots in the first quarter of Game 4. Was Kobe Bryant facilitating again? Pouting again? Saving his energy for the playoffs again? Wait a second. These are the playoffs, even if the Lakers’ last five quarters have looked more like the preseason. Whatever it was Saturday it certainly was another loss for the defending champions, who are discovering quickly in this postseason that no one — least of all this oddly dangerous No. 8 seed — fears them. This final was 110-89 … and it wasn’t even that close.
From ESPN.com: Something stunk even worse than the Lakers’ play Saturday. Kobe Bryant lit up a cigar that was far from the victory variety as he made his way from his postgame news conference to the team bus down an empty hallway at the Ford Center, walking with a slight limp as he chatted with Nike executive Lynn Merritt in between puffs. It’s a habit Bryant revealed in the first round of last postseason, smoking a stogie after a clunker in Utah before bouncing back with dominant games to close out the series, but as the thick smoke hung in the air it seemed to personify the cloud of doubt that suddenly hangs over the Los Angeles Lakers rather than a cleansing ritual.
From ESPN.com: Both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder did what every team is supposed to do in a seven game series — defend the home court. However, the Thunder’s home-court defense over the defending champion Lakers has certainly raised eyebrows. First, a come-from-behind, 101-96 victory in Game 3, in which they spotted the Lakers 10 points before even getting on the board. Then Game 4’s absolute dismantling of the ’09 Western Conference champions. From start to finish, they held the Lakers in lopsided check.