History Lessons & The Need To Prove It Again

Darius Soriano —  April 26, 2010

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Many fans don’t want to hear about last year when referencing this year’s Lakers team.

Last year was different.

Last year the Lakers had big, signature wins in the regular season.

Last year Kobe was healthy and Pau was stepping up.

Last year the bench was better and Ariza was around.

And to a certain extent, I agree with these sentiments – every season is a new test.   And even though this team played well enough to earn the #1 seed in the West and win the first two games of this series, the Lakers have not been the team that many hoped they would be.  What, with inconsistency and flat play being all to frequent themes of this 2010 campaign.  That said, it’s easy to forget that despite every year being different, history tends to repeat itself; history shows us trends over time.  So, whether we’re talking the Lakers or talking about some other team the lessons of the past can be helpful in understanding where this team stands right now.

And with that in mind, I scoured the FB&G’s archives.  What I found was something that was written almost one year ago after the Lakers got blasted on the road in game 4 of their second round series against Houston:

1) In the first game of the 1985 NBA Finals (the first time it was called that, by the way), the Lakers got absolutely routed by Boston Celtics. Devastatingly crushed. Dominated in every aspect of the game. They lost 148-114, and the media dubbed it the Memorial Day Massacre. The Lakers won the series in six games.

2) 1972 NBA Finals, Lakers vs. Knicks game one. From The Show: “Lucas scored 26 pts. an, Bradley hit 11-12 shots from the field as New York shot 53% from the floor. They used a nearly perfect first half to jump to a good lead and won much too easily, 114-92…. At he beginning of the first half the Forum crowd began filing out dejectedly. It looked like another LA fold in the Finals.” The Lakers beat the Knicks in five.

3) Game two of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, the Trailblazer ripped the Lakers, 106-77. The Lakers came back to win that series in a dramatic seventh game and go on the three-peat.

4) Last season the Boston Celtics were taken seven games by a more athletic but far less talented Atlanta Hawks team, then were taken seven games again by LeBron James and what there was of a surrounding cast last season. We all remember how that turned out. But after four games against the Cavs last year, Celtics message boards and fan reactions looked a lot like the Lakers this year.

There are simple lessons here. Don’t say this Lakers team cannot turn it around and win the NBA title. Don’t tell me Magic and the great Showtime teams never had letdowns, because they had them (regular season and playoffs). Don’t tell me game four against the Rockets is proof of ultimate doom. It is not. (Thanks to Gatinho for helping me compile this list.)

The title of that post was “It’s not the end of the world, but it’s not good” and I can’t think of a better way to describe what is going on with the Lakers right now.  For many fans, the sky may not have fallen but it’s awfully close to our heads right now.

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So now that the Lakers are at this point, the next question is what is there for them to lean on?  Despite things looking down right now, there are some positives:

1). This series is now a best of three, but two of those games are in Los Angeles at the Staples Center.  The Lakers fought as hard as they could for home court advantage in the western playoffs and it’s times like these that exemplify why they wanted it so badly.  It’s not so much that the Thunder are a worse team on the road (their road/home splits show great consistency - though their role players played much worse in games 1 & 2), but it’s that the Lakers role players are better at home.  For example, Shannon Brown scores more points, shoots better from the field (including 36% from three vs 29% on the road), doubles his assists per game, and fouls less.  Farmar also plays a bit better at home than on the road (all his stats are slightly up, except his shooting %’s which actually dip some at home).  These are two players that we rely upon to help this team win games.  Yes they’ve been inconsistent this season and that (along with injuries) has led to a decrease in our overall bench productivity.  But if the Lakers are to sustain solid play over the course of an entire game, these two players will need to do more.  And if I was to bet where they’d be able to do it, I’d put my money on the Staples Center.

2). Speaking of our bench, another positive was Lamar Odom’s play in the second half.  I’ve been on LO a lot in this series as he’s had little impact in the first 14 quarters of this series.  But in the second half of game 4 he woke up.  He rebounded better on defense, pushed the ball on offense, and then attacked the rim when in the half court.  This is the player that the Lakers need as an X-factor and impact player.  I know, I know – depending on Lamar isn’t quite like relying on the tax man or the grim reaper, but Lamar has been a player that has typically played better in the playoffs than the regular season over the course of his career.  Whether in Miami or in LA, Odom has usually found a way to put together consistent performances in the second season.  His reappearance on Saturday, I think, bodes well for the Lakers in these remaining games.

3).  Some of the little things are getting better.  Though the Lakers shot poorly from deep in game 4, Derek Fisher did not.  In fact, in Fisher’s last two games he’s 9-15 from the field including 7-11 from three point country.  And when looking at game 4, the Lakers were able to get the ball into the post much more consistently.  Kobe also shot better in game 4, though with not as many attempts (5-10 from the field).  My point in all of this?  We’re starting to see some of offensive factors that contribute to winning show up in these games, they just haven’t all clicked on the same night.  Aren’t the Lakers due for one of those nights where Kobe plays well, the ball is still able to go inside, Odom steps up, and at least one shooter makes some shots?  Am I reaching here?  The Lakers are a better team than what they’ve shown in the last two games (especially in game 4) and I see a game coming where it comes together for them.  Sure, there’s a lot of hope here, but based off history (and the quality of players we’re talking about) I don’t think I’m off base.

4).  The Lakers’ defense, though fouling too often, is still playing well.  The Thunder connect rate on field goals is still hovering around 40% and even though Durant is getting his points, he’s working extremely hard for them.  If the Lakers can start and finish defensive possessions better (through executing their transition defense and protecting their defensive glass more effectively), there’s a good chance the Lakers will be able to take and sustain a lead.  Obviously it’s easier than just saying it (not to mention it sounds funny reading that they need to start and end possessions better – what’s left?) but I mention it because these are small things that are having a major impact on the results of the games.   These are things that can be improved upon as the Lakers did them relatively well early in the series.  I think they’ll get back to them in the games that are left.

Winning Tuesday’s game will not be easy.  The Lakers can’t expect the Thunder to come out, roll over, and hand them the win.  The Lakers will need to execute the little things and can’t rely on the Thunder to not play well.   However, if there is a team that knows what needs to be done to still win this series wouldn’t it be the one led by Phil Jackson and captained by Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher?  Guys with 20 championships between them as players and coach?  History has proven that these guys know how to get it done.  But with every new season, new challenges appear, and the need to prove it again arises.  I think the Lakers have it in them.  Tuesday is when we all get to see if I’m right.

Darius Soriano

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55 responses to History Lessons & The Need To Prove It Again

  1. Darius,
    Good observations, except – isn’t there always an except? The Lakers didn’t exactly work really hard to finish first in the Western Conference. They worked hard until the last month, then they dumped everything on the sidewalk and actually made it much closer than necessary – forfeiting home court to Orlando in the process.

    This doesn’t exactly give us a warm and fuzzy feeling going into the playoffs. Fortunately we were playing a team that had never been in the playoffs before. That accounts for the 1st two games – except that we didn’t really dominate in either game.

    The last two games have gotten progressively worse.

    This is not a scenario that would give a fan any real hope the team will turn things around. They may, but most of the signs don’t point to this – except for returning to Staples Center, not a small thing.

    The playoffs is much more about matchups than just sheer talent and OKC would seem to be a bad match-up for us.

    I will end on a positive note. I am sure glad we are not Dallas.

  2. Craig,
    I understand your point. But failing to play well doesn’t always equate to not playing hard. The Lakers didn’t give up down the stretch, they struggled to play well. I actually think a lot of fans would feel better about the Lakers right now had they just not played hard down the stretch and used a care free attitude to lose those games. Instead, they were banged up, tried to win, and didn’t. But, through it all, they earned the #1 seed, so that’s why I wrote what I did. As I said though, I do understand your point.

  3. Bitter Sonics ex-Fan April 26, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Enough of the optimism! It’s over!!!

    Seriously, straight from a hoary tale, road teams settle for the jumper, I don’t expect OkC to be so aggressive and confident on offense. The FT disparity will dwindle or disappear, the Lakers won’t look helpless on defense (they’ll look pretty good again) and the Lakers will win it. Not by a rout, but a win is a win.

  4. Lakers should think about starting Lamar instead of Drew. The slow half-court game is what the Lakers really need to play but what good will it do if the Thunder are simply going to push the ball up the court every possession? The Lakers will need to be able to keep up on transition defense.

    Additionally, having Drew come of the bench will make things much simpler for the bench ~ just simply throw the ball into the post. It would also be a lot easier to match up with the Thunder starting 5. Lamar Odom will guard Jeff Green and Pau Gasol will guard Nenad Krstic, a perimeter-oriented center. It will be much easier to guard the perimeter shots of both those Thunder players.

    Doing this would, however, leave less of last-line defense off drives for the Thunder. Drew has been playing solid defense in the paint but Lamar has been struggling on the offensive end. Hopefully him picking up his aggressiveness in what happened to be garbage-time for LA will continue onto the next game.

  5. Ashok,
    The combination of Lamar and Artest is not a good one against the Thunder on offense. We have to have Drew for down low on offense and he is a better defender in the paint – where we need him.

  6. “It is human nature to get lackadaisical and for us to believe that things are going to go right for us because they have in the past. But we are only successful in the moment, and you have to prove it again and again. The thought is that it becomes easy, when really you have to keep working hard.” [Phil Jackson, 11/30/08]

  7. Great write up Darius. We need to trust in our leaders and know that they will make the necessary adjustments. Now is the time to step up, and I believe that we will.

  8. Great arguments are being made for optomistic and weary thinkers about the outcome of this series. I believe that the arguments in it self shows how undifined the perdicament is for the Lakers. Game five is just a giant unkown being that tomorrow’s going to be one week since the Lakers won against this team, the Thunder haven’t won on our home court yet, we don’t know how our inconsitent players are going to do, and we don’t know if the thunder are going to settle for jump shots or attack the rim. (let alone all the other craziness like westbrook hitting outside shots, Kobe going into mamba mode, and unfortunately I_N_J_U_R_I_E_S.)

    This next game will show the true colors of both teams. Whoever happens to lose this game will have to try to change those colors quite quickly to survive.

  9. Going into the playoffs the two teams I wanted to avoid were the Nuggets and the Thunder – long and athletic teams are just a bad match up for the Lakers (watching the Spurs dismantle the Mavs, I am kind of glad we didn’t get them right away). But the West is just so deep this year.

    That said, to me it is still about the journey. Can the Lakers, injured and out of sync with no bench (beyond LO) find a way to put it together? Win or lose it has been an entertaining ride. I love being a Laker fan.

    Last year I found the Houston series really frustrating. It seemed like the effort just wasn’t there. I do not feel that way this series. it’s a tough battle and to me that is fun to watch, even when I am really disappointed in the results.

  10. I’m excited. A do-or-die game against a young, exciting, athletic team? Couldn’t have asked for a more entertaining premise than that. Let’s hope we at least get a good game out of it.

  11. Craig W.,

    Hope the Lakers capitalize on that and thats something that will be written as a key in a victory in ESPN’s recap.

  12. 10, with all respect, zephid, to your admirable zen-like attitude, let’s hope we get more than that.

  13. Seriously Zephid. I’m pumped for the game too. Let’s do this!!! at Home. With our home crowd…. well, AT HOME!!!

  14. Some fans are really spoiled. Are the lakers playing championship basketball? Obviously NOT. But they still have the talent and the ability to win. Fans need to stop whining every freakin second of the day.

    This is a championship team. How do i know? Because they won the championship less than a year ago. Can a team win it every year? No, they can’t. It’s not the end of the world.

    All we need to do is ENJOY the games and hope that are team is playing their asses off. If they do that, then be happy regardless of what happens. And don’t complain and whine every second of every day.

    This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t point out our weaknesses. It just means whining doesn’t fix anything.

  15. Interesting, Darius! Reading through the older post after the loss to Houston last year, the comments seem so so similar. In fact, you could interchange some comments from this recent loss with those from last year, and you wouldn’t know they where flipped.

    That makes me feel good. I hope history does repeat itself!

  16. The lakers will be in MDK mode for game 5, and will win going away.

    Why are we acting like we haven’t seen this movie before?

  17. One more thing to add. Lakers have looked old and tired. BUT we have two days off before game 5 and another 2 days off before game 6.
    We get past OKC and we are in good shape. Utah knows they can’t beat us, Denver thinks they can which makes them dangerous but it doesn’t look like they will make it out of round 1. Phoenix knows they can’t beat us. Dallas may think they can but like Denver will be gone before they get a chance. That leaves San Antonio and trust me, if we meet San Antonio, we won’t be the team that looks old.

    We are built to beat San Antonio and Denver. We aren’t built to beat OKC but if and when we get past them, we should be in good shape till the Finals. Who knows maybe Cleveland gets knocked out and we win a title Pittsburgh Steeler style. (w/o facing top tier teams)

  18. Great post Darius…though, I thought you were a little too diplomatic with “the Lakers are fouling too much” in point four.

    So LA fouls the right amount at home, then suddenly, on the road they decide to start fouling with reckless abandon?

    OKC’s big men were in foul trouble in Game 1 and 2, and then suddenly, when they’re at home, they magically stop fouling?

    The same thing happened to LA in 2008 when they played against UTAH in Round 2:

    It is really difficult to adjust when playing against insane, bloodthirsty road crowds – the refs are human beings, and they feel the pressure, too (this isn’t a conspiracy theory, it’s a statement of fact – refs can be cowed by certain crowds and call the game accordingingly – the Thunder suddenly having a +20 free throw advantage per game absolutely affected the outcome).

    NOW, all that being said, this Laker team has always had a tendency to be way, WAY too affected by the officiating. If calls aren’t going their way, they slump their shoulders, lose their aggression, and stop trying as hard. In the case of Game 4, it almost looked like some players were giving up (they weren’t hustling after loose balls, they were losing their concentration, etc).

    So, no, the refs didn’t “screw them over” per se, but the team let some early calls snowball their concentration, aggressiveness, and effort, which lead to them being blown out.

    What’s going to happen to Thunder in Game 5, when all of sudden the whistles are even (HEAVEN FORBID the Lakers actually have home court advantage like any other team in the league. The Lakers home court advantage is that the game is called evenly). What’s going to happen to Ibaka when all of a sudden, he can’t swing his arms wildly in the lane without worrying about getting a foul?

    He’ll probably play a little differently, right?

    What’s going to happen when Kobe actually (ACTUALLY!) gets a call or two and can get to the line and get his stroke going?

    A Laker win is definitely not guarenteed, but at least they’ll be playing on equal footing.

  19. I really think that the Thunder are the biggest obstacle between the Lakers and the Finals. The two teams I would be most concerned about are the Nugs and the Mavericks. Both, right now, look like they won’t make it out of the first round. That’s not to say that the Spurs or the Blazers will be a cakewalk, but I’d rather see them than the aforementioned teams.

  20. Ordinarily I am able to retain a fair amount of perspective about massacre losses. In my head, I do exactly what Kurt did last year – go over the horrible losses that we have taken in years past in series that we eventually won, especially in years that we have won titles.

    But this year, the perspective is hard to come by. In the past, part of my rational thinking was that we had Kobe, and the other team didn’t. Now, we don’t have Kobe anymore. Not the Kobe that we are used to seeing. Not the Kobe that could win a game or two on his own if we needed him to. Like right now.

    That Kobe may be gone for good, or he may just not be available right now due to a myriad of finger/knee/ankle injuries. Who knows. But his absence certainly makes me as worried about losing a series as I have been since we before got Pau.

  21. I agree it’s not the end of the world but the scary part is that Kobe has been struggling now for 2 months and there is no immediate improvement in sight. But to make matters worse he still tries to prove he is the Kobe of old which is very detrimental to the team. I hear Bill Simmons say on ESPN that Kobe is gunning for all time points record now which I don’t believe but I do believe he is upset that everyone is saying that Lebron is the best player in the NBA and is out to prove that he is still a force. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t have it and I think in the end it will be Lebron hoisting up that trophy and proving he is the best in basketball. (This pains me to say but it is something that is undeniable right now)

  22. Durant: 27 points, 9 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 5 turnovers in 39 minutes 38% FG%

    Bryant: 24 points, 4 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 3 turnovers in 39 minutes 38% FG%

    These are the statistics for both players so far in the series. Theyre actually playing quite similar yet we dont see Thunder fans saying how Durant is “done”.

  23. I don’t like this idea that you have to pound it in the post, Pau hates contact an misses free throws in close games, Bynum can’t pass out of Double teams or read defenses.

    This strategy makes us look like the 2007 Grizzlies, and we are finding out why Pau was expendable.

    I would much rather see kobe take bad shots an develop some sort of rhythm than have him taking 10 shots and watching teams disrespect the offense because he isn’t shooting.

  24. Burgundy,

    I applaud you. You have been spelling it out over the last week or so. Free throw disparities are part of the game. Teams know that going in. That is why home court advantage is important. But like you point out, LA’s home court advantage is the game being called even. OKC’s home court advantage is getting nearly 50 free throws and 20+ more than the opposing team.

    Well, if games 5 and 7 will be called “evenly” then the Lakers should be fine.

  25. I still have hope the Lakers can dig deep and pull this out. The question is how much it costs them in future rounds if they have to claw out a rough 7-game win in the first round.

    By the way, for those saying a Thunder win would be a monstrous upset, don’t you expect that whoever wins this series will be favored in the next round? (And maybe the round after that, except I expect to see a rejuvenated and rested San Antonio in that round.)

  26. I have hard time accepting that the lakers defense has been acceptable at all. Besides Artest, I don’t think okc is worried about any player or defensive scheme by the lakers.

    Okc has adjusted each game to better exploit the flaws. Game 3 was the turning point – obviously in the 3rd and 4th (great move to put durant on kobe). Game 4 was a continuation of that progression and hopefully was the high point. I don’t think okc can play any better than they did.

    The thunder have no fear and why should they? What have the lakers done (aside from artest) to change their game? The guys that can affect that change on the lakers are everyone but kobe and fish. I think everyone knows what those two guys can and cannot do. (But Artest is close a third with his predictable offensive choices. Is anyone else convinced that his weird layups are a signal that his feet are still hurting? We need LO to make an imprint on both ends. And while Pau is playing pretty well, he and Bynum need to strike fear at both ends. I’d rather see more failed attempts closer to the basket than the outside shots and easy transition buckets. But you have to tip your hat to okc, they are playing extremely well and have the lakers playing to their strengths. I thought the lakers in 6 and I’m hoping it’s still true.

  27. Burgundy, you are starting to scare me. We are in agreement about the fouls, and their impact. Not only the direct impact on the score, but the indirect impact in tempo, energy, aggressive play, and style.

    My solution for fouls going against you: FOUL HARDER. Knock someone down. Get your money’s worth. Be the bad guy and let the tempers flare. Make the referees call a tighter game.

    coolrunnings, EXACTLY. Of course, Kobe is immortal, so any sign of being only “amazingly good” instead of “legendary” will always bring out the hyenas.

    Kobe could be a bit more disciplined in his shot selection, but that kind of Kobe isn’t hitting the last second banked three ball against Miami.

    I like the Kobe we have, and I have every faith that he will guide the Lakers to a win on Tuesday.

  28. yeah i’d much rather be NOT dallas right now. but about the DEN and DAL series i think it ain’t done yet. it just looks like our series is the prolonged one. one of these teams, LAL, DEN or DAL is bound to wake-up and win the day. Of those three, we have the best chance. so chill. sooner or later something will be exposed, something will go wrong and something will be out of sync. the chances of that being NOT the lakers is high in this best of 3 slugfest.

    that said, we need LO, we need a consistent-shooting (yes at least keep up in offense) bench, some semblance of classic in your face post play and a kobe who leads by example (and yes, stats will back it up). GO LAKERS!

  29. 12, I’m actually pretty ok so long as we get a decent game where the Lakers actually show up, the refs don’t ruin the game, and the game is close in the 4th. If the Lakers lose with all of those conditions fulfilled, it’ll be because the Thunder worked damn hard for it, and that’s worth applauding.

  30. ” However, if there is a team that knows what needs to be done to still win this series wouldn’t it be the one led by Phil Jackson and captained by Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher? Guys with 20 championships between them as players and coach?”

    Way to rally the troops and get them ready to strap on their kicks and be prepared to fight, Darius. But the above quote is the particular reason that so many fans have had upset stomachs the entire year. Knowing what needs to be done is one thing, while doing what needs to be done is a totally different subject. Action always speaks louder than words and this years LA team has had the right things to say, but nothing consistent to back those words up.

    Im not saying that LA cannot win this series, just as Im not saying I cannot see OKC winning. If the past is a great indicator of things to come in the future, then this LA team will reap what they have sowed the entire year. So lets hope that the team has prepared well enough for these trying times, and use the adversity to their advantage.

    On another note,if posters are being moderated for being whiners, making repeatitive post. Shouldnt posters complaining about this be moderated as well. For every one line negative post, there are two or three post complaining about it. Just a thought.

  31. Why is this series a best of 5?

  32. Darius I agree with your post. The Lakers should win game 5. There is no way Artist will continue to shoot 13% on 3′s and 30 from the field right, and kobe will shoot zero times in the first quarter. Right!

    But then again people used to think the earth was flat.

  33. Quick side note about the East. The way Dwight Howard is performing, and I use the term loosely, really reminds me of why I like Bynum so much.

    Good post presence, shows well on pick and rolls, defends the paint well. HITS HIS FREE THROWS. Love Bynum!

    Go Lakers!

  34. From the sounds of things, we’re in for a much better, concerted effort 2morrow night.

    Pau: “It’s a must-win for us …. We can’t afford to lose this game.”

    Big Drew: “Of course it’s a must-win …. We have to go out there and win. There’s nothing else really to that.”

    Phil X: “We’re getting back …. We’re going to get this thing turned around [in Game 5].”

    Good Sound Bites, but as we all know, Action speaks louder than Words. Personally, I expect us to win this game going away. Not necessarily a blowout, but soundly. We’ll be the aggressor, our role players will perform better in our house, their youth will be evident playing in a pressure game on the road & just the confidence in playing in our building. All of these factors will lead us to the victory.

    We have to make a statement, not only to the Thunder, but to the rest of the playoff contenders that we’re still the Champs & that all roads to this years ‘chip goes through us. I believe that starts 2morrow night & we end this in 6.

  35. The Lakers are tired and injured and we all know that. But the Lakers are not going to be less tired as they go deeper in the playoffs, while injuries can improve, they won’t be completely healthy. Thats something the lakers have to accept and fight through. The Lakers need to find balance. They have to play with a sense of urgency, but be patient on the offensive end. They have to play hard and with energy on the defensive end, yet be disciplined and communicate. They have to pound the ball inside, but still take a make jumpers. As fans of the Lakers, we expect them to be able to do so. I mean they are only the defending champions with the best player in world over the last decade and the core has been together for the past 3 years.

    Darius was right when he said there isn’t a switch to flip and that’s why many doubt the Lakers at this point. Can the Lakers all of a sudden start playing well on both ends. The Lakers have shown us how good and how bad they can be over the course of this season. We’ve seen a few flashes of how dominant they could be offensively, how suffocating their defense can be, and how good their transition game can be (L.O, Farmar and Brown). But we’ve also got a big dose of how lethargic and unfocused they can be, how disorganized they can be offensively, and how confused they can be defensively. Can the Lakers all of a sudden give us a lot of how good they can be and much less how bad they can be?

  36. The Lakers have been poor at outside shooting for the entire year and our best outside shooters are injured. What makes people think our ourside shooting is going to improve?

    We are going to have to win without any real outside threat – unless Kobe goes off. The matchups with OKC make this a hard task. They are big enough to be able to sag into our bigs and then recover enough to defend a poor jumpshooting team.

    What we need is very crisp passing in our triangle offense to move the ball quickly from side-to-side. We have only sporadically done this throughout the year. The biggest problems are Brown and Artest having to think their passes before making them and Kobe and Lamar wanting to pound the ball into the floor for a while to think through the defense (robbing us of precious seconds).

  37. Speaking of history -

    This series seems eerily similar to the 1977 playoffs versus the Bill Walton led Portland Trail Blazers. For the Lakers the obvious difference here is that they have avoided being swept. However, I see the same factors in play this time as there was in 1977. The 77 Blazers were faster, quicker, and younger than the 77 Lakers. Just as the 2010 Thunder are faster, quicker, and younger than the 2010 Lakers. The Lakers were the #1 seed then too.

    The biggest difference; the Thunder do not have what in my estimation (barring injuries) would have been the greatest center in NBA history: Bill Walton.

    Thank goodness for small favors.

  38. 36, our outside shooting will improve because of one reason: short-term volatility. Case-in-point: Derek Fisher is shooting 11-22 from three for the series.

    Now, this may seem like people using a single extremely hot summer as evidence of global warming, but we actually don’t care about trendlines at this point. All we need is a hot-streak for a short period of time, and it will appear as though our shooting “improved.”

    So just because we sucked at shooting throughout the year doesn’t mean our team can’t catch fire over 2 months.

  39. I agree with Zephid about just wanting a real good game, fouls being called evenly and our team showing up to play aggressive basketball, like their lives depended on it. LO also showing up like the All-Star that he should be, would go a long way in helping the World Champion Lakers this season in the 2010 Playoffs. Great optimistic Post Darius, just what we needed about now. I can’t wait for tomorrows game!

  40. Zephid, to respond to your reply to me a few days ago. First of all, I am the Joe from last year. Second, yes, I did complain a lot and had doubts about our Lakers during the REGULAR season. When we beat Boston and Cleveland on the road, on back to back nights, I gained a lot of faith in that team. I was almost positive they were going to make it to the finals. I may have complained about the way we played aginst Housten, letting it go to 7 games, but I had no doubt in my mind they were gonna beat Housten without Yao. And as far as Denver went, I knew they didnt have the size or defense to pull it through against us. Sorry but your memory isnt exactly right.

  41. And apparently my memory isnt correct either. I actually dont think it was back to back nights that they beat Boston and the Cavs both on the road, but it was back to back games without Bynum, and they went 6-0 on that road trip.

  42. It’s different this year. I wish it wasn’t. Why? Kobe’s hurt. He’s got two broken fingers (how come nobody talks about that pinky anymore). He’s got a bum ankle. He’s got a bum knee. But it’s the index finger that hurts the most. Hard to be an assassin in a game of putting the ball in the hoop when you can’t even put the ball in the hoop.

  43. Re: Derek Fisher
    There are three things as I see it that really stand out in this series for the Lakers… Andrew Bynum’s great overall play after coming off a one month injury hiatus, Ron Artest’s spectacular defense, and Derek Fisher’s surprising three point shooting. You can’t ask anything more from Derek. You might point out that he is again making a PG look a lot better than they actually are with Russell Westbrook elevating from his season averages of 16.1 PPG on 41.8% shooting to the 21.8 PPG on 55.2% shooting he is putting up against our Derek. But you can’t ask more from Fisher on defense where he is to put it nicely… old and slow. However, we can ask for him to get hot from behind the line with so many open jumpers available and so far he has come through. Thats more than we can say for Lamar who hasn’t done one thing well in this series. Alas.. we are still in great shape to move onto round two and the helpless Jazz.

  44. #37,

    The father of Luke the greatest center of all-time (barring injury)? Uhhhh, no.

    Kareem is the greatest.

    Lakers vs. Cavs in the Finals. My heart will break if we lose to Shaq and LeBron.

    Go Lakers!

  45. I’m sorry for the double post but Aaron, D Fish is doing a pretty good job against Westbrook. Not many guards could keep up with him let alone stop him when he scores half of his points off screens. In fact, Brown and Farmar can’t even do well against Maynor let alone vs. Westbrook.

    If our frontline ever stepped up and gobbled rebounds and block shots like they are supposed to, it would make up for Fish’s old legs.

    It’s not his fault that Farmar and Brown can’t even wrestle the starting job from him.

  46. I HAVE GREAT NEWS FOR LAKER FANS!!!

    Tonight I played by 5 year old son in NBA Play Station 2. He being young, quick, spry and confident played as the Thunder.

    I of course being old, slow, cranky and overpaid played as our Lakers.

    I pounded our bigs on his smaller front line. I blocked his feble shot attempts. My Kobe unleashed jumper after jumper and when his Durant tried to stop my Kobe i drove through and around him till poor Durant was forced to the bench in foul trouble sulking.

    Even my crooked eye 3-point shooters Artist, Fisher and Farmer were sinking shots on the young Thunder.

    My LO actually showed up for a few thunders dunks and a kiss to some reality star in the stands.

    I am happy to report that my Lakers thrashed my sons Thunder by 17 points and left a message for the future.

    Sadly my son kicked me out of his room in a crying tantrum, told me he dosen’t love me anymore and said he wants a new dad.

    Oh well the price of victory is steep but our Lakers will win by that 17 tonight.

    Count on it Play Station never lies.

  47. its all about matchups baby, if we get past OKC its over.

    Dallas/Denver out is brilliant, makes me excited. Like Matt said earlier, if we see SA in the WCF, we wont be the ones looking old.

  48. I haven’t been able to watch all the games here in Shanghai because they’re on while I’m at work, but I did see Game 4. And at the beginning of the game, despite the Thunder jumping out to a lead and the crowd going wild, I thought the Lakers would grind out the win. They were making an effort to get the ball inside, Kobe was facilitating (maybe a little too much), and there was good ball movement. I expected the Thunder to cool off and slow down. But they didn’t. We have to give them credit – they are playing solid basketball, from Durant and Westbrook all the way down to their reserves. The Lakers are not their own worst enemy, as some seem to think…the Thunder are a worthy opponent.

    I’ll be following Game 5 in the middle of a meeting tomorrow. They can fire me, all I care about is that the LAKERS WIN THIS!!!

  49. Everyone compares this to the Houston series when it’s actually closer to the Denver series! They’ve got a great scorer (KD and Carmelo). They’re young an athletic (Shane Battier and Artest weren’t that). The first 3 games were super close coming down to the final minutes in both series and game 4 was a butt whooping in both cases. Game 5 was also close! I think this series is playing a lot more like last years WCF than the semi-final. I’m confident we can win in LA tomorrow

  50. Also, Phil needs to move Kobe on Westbrook. Boston hasn’t been able to beat us with Kobe in the game for the last 2 years primarily because Kobe has shut down Rondo and his penetration. Westbrook is a lot like Rondo and should be defended like him, fish can guard Thabo and Harden just by staying attached to their body. In addition, having Kobe at the top of the key on defense will open up some transition opportunities for him if he leaks out and our bigs outlet the ball…gimpy or not he’s still our fastest starter and our best finisher on the break. When Phil makes this adjustment we should be fine. Also Bynum should be instructed to take a HARD foul on Westbrook the first time he drives in and gets by Kobe!

  51. Jaybird,
    Your comment reflects an overall view of the game, while most of us are busy tweaking a specific detail. It is instructive, sometimes, to acknowledge that your opponent may just be very good.

    I do agree that we may be going through the toughest series matchup in the Western Conference.

  52. I hate to beat the dead horse here, but I was looking for some perspective on what has gone wrong the last 2 games, and the glaring point is the free throws. The Lakers (yes, this slow and lazy Lakers team) were the second best team this season at FTA allowed, at 21 a game. Now, OKC shot the 3rd most at 27, but they are averaging 34 FTs a game in this series. In case anyone missed it, this was why they were even able to hang close in game 2. Another point, when looking at the regular season between these 2 teams, The blazing fast Thunder only shot 22 FTs a game aginst these slow and aging Lakers. I think Burgundy hit it on the head. You have a team who fouls less then anyone else , all of a sudden getting everything called against them, changes their whole mentality about how to approach the game.

    Another thing that I don’t think has really been mentioned, is the turnovers. OKC, I think because of the way they play is a high turnover team. One of the worst in the league. This is something the Lakers need to take advantage of more. They were near the bottom of the league at 15 T/O per. In the last 2 games they’ve had 9 and 8 T/O respectively. When a team plays with such high energy and speed, it becomes much easier to make mistakes or to be forced into mistakes. If the Lakers can take better advantage of that, I think they will have a much easier time at slowing the pace and winning the game.

  53. Thank you to Franky who added some stats to back up what I’m seeing with my eyes.

  54. Dick Barnett,
    Without all the injuries, Walton would have been better than Kareem. Not sure if he would have been better than Wilt.