Talking Adjustments On Defense

Phillip Barnett —  April 27, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference first round playoff game 4

In situations like the one describing this Lakers/Thunder series, conventional wisdom would normally tell us that this should be a learning experience for the Oklahoma City Thunder. They’re a team with a collection of young talent making their first playoff appearance against the defending World Champions, a team that has gone to the NBA Finals two consecutive years. However, for right now, it’s the Lakers who can learn a thing or two from the Thunder, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Yes, the series is tied 2-2, but for the most part, the Thunder have outplayed the Lakers up to this point. The Lakers have won THREE quarters, that’s it, and the Thunder are outplaying the Lakers with the very defensive scheme that the Lakers should be using on them. I believe that we’ve all finally accepted that the Lakers are a horrendous three-point shooting team, but what the Lakers need to realize is that the Thunder (barely) had a worse shooting percentage from behind the arch than the Lakers did this season (Lakers shot 34.1%, the Thunder shot 34%). During this series, the Thunder are shooting only 30 percent from behind the three point line. So shouldn’t the Lakers adapt to the Thunder “crowd the paint and make them beat us from outside” philosophy? I certainly think so. Let’s take a look at how both teams are defending and see where the Lakers need to make an adjustment.

On this first sequence, we’ll see how OKC got their first basket in Game 3 after the Lakers got out to that 10-0 start. This first picture shows Kevin Durant holding the ball at the top of the key. Jeff Green had just cut through the middle of the key to run to the left corner. What I want to point out is the number of Lakers defenders in the painted area: zero. They’re too concerned with what might happen if the ball is caught behind the three-point line.

LakersD001-1

In this second picture, the ball has been moved from Thabo Sefolosha to Jeff Green in the left corner. We see Pau Gasol guarding him way out at the three point line (against a guy who had been struggling and a team that had yet to score) giving him baseline. Andrew Bynum is too high out guarding Nenad Krstic considering where the ball is and where a pass would have to be made – and still, not one Laker is completely in the paint (‘Drew is partially in the paint, but only because Krstic is there).

LakersD001-2

In this third picture, we see why not crowding the paint is hurting the Lakers. Jeff Green drove baseline and beat the slow-footed Andrew Bynum to the spot, got the bucket and the foul. Gasol is not quick enough to guard Green being so close to the three-point line, especially if he’s going to give him a definite lane. If Bynum wasn’t so high out on Krstic, he’s already at the spot, and Jeff Green is forced to take a short jumper or the same shot without the benefit of getting the call.

LakersD001-3

However, one of the main reasons I thought this clip in particular was so important was how it illustrate how the Lakers aren’t ending their defensive possessions when they can. Yeah, Green made the shot and got the foul, but if he didn’t, the Thunder were in excellent position to get the offensive rebound. Since Gasol was beat, Drew and Kobe had to rotate over, leaving Krstic and Westbrook free to rebound without a body on them. Bynum wouldn’t have been in the best rebounding position and Gasol wasn’t in position at all. Kobe would have had to work around the bigger Krstic to get that rebound.

This second sequence shows how the Thunder have played the Lakers and why they’ve been able to outplay the Lakers more often than they’ve been outplayed. This first picture is here just to give you a glimpse on how this possession started. Notice how the Thunder are playing. They’re focused on making it tough on Kobe (Durant playing on the weak side to help Sefolosha if it’s needed) and over crowding the strong side making help easier to give when the ball rotates to that side, because it can’t go anywhere else at this point save a Kobe dribble drive.

Thunder D001-1

On this second picture, the ball has moved to Derek Fisher. Again, notice where the Thunder defenders are. Everyone is shaded over to defending the strong side. As of right now, Derek Fisher has no where to go but to give the ball back to Kobe. There are no driving lanes, there are no interior passing lanes. Yes, the Lakers have awful spacing, but they’re disciplined in what they want to do no less. The defensive scheme is focused on preventing those things because they understand that the Lakers have struggled shooting the ball all season.

Thunder D001-2

In this picture, the ball has gone from Kobe and back to Fish in the corner. Look at the Thunder defenders now. As Fish looks to get the ball inside, everyone’s eyes are on where Fish wants to make the pass. Sefolosha has fallen off of Kobe, Green is inching closer to help on the backside to help a fronting Krstic, Durant has taken his focus off of a Artest who likely isn’t getting the ball from there and Russell Westbrook is applying great ball pressure. There are three guys with at least one foot in the paint at this point.

Thunder D001-3

On this last picture, we see that the Thunder have gotten what they wanted – a three point attempt. If they can’t turn the ball over, they want the Lakers to be shooting from as far away from the basket as possible, because if it’s a miss, it’s essentially creating a turnover for them. Long rebounds are gold for this team as they’re fast break starters. Most importantly, the Thunder have rebounding position for all five guys. Not one Laker has inside position over a Thunder defender, and for a young team, not giving up second chance opportunities is definitely key to winning basketball games. Yeah, Kobe made that shot, but they can live with that because it’s a team that shoots less than 35 percent from that range.

Thunder D001-4

With this knowledge, I would hope that the Lakers can make the necessary adjustments, especially later in games when Russell Westbrook likes to get going. It’s no longer about stopping Kevin Durant, it’s about stopping a basketball team. They absolutely need to clog the lane and make the Thunder a collection of jump shooters instead of drivers. The Lakers are going to give up some fast break points, that’s a given, but they can’t continue to give up points in the paint in half court sets. They have too much size for it to be so easy for the Thunder.

-Phillip

Phillip Barnett

Posts

35 responses to Talking Adjustments On Defense

  1. Excellent job Phillip!

  2. Great post. There are many things the Lakers could do better. I wonder if the fact that they were called for defensive 3 second violations in each of the first 3 games deters them from hanging in the paint.

    I brought this over from the previous thread.

    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.

  3. how can you take advantage of turnovers if you can’t run a fast break? already this series we’ve seen some hilariously awful fish fastbreaks in which he just chucks it straight up in the air, artest running out (!) and not being able to get the ball over the rim…

    it’s a big reason we’re getting outrebounded: that OKC sends everyone to the glass because they know they can catch us if we start out ahead of them….

    we are an incredibly unathletic team other than kobe (hurt), farmar (limited minutes, and for good reason), and shannon (can’t dribble so can’t lead the break himself and often runs with the ball handler at stupid angles).

    Unfortunately, the cost of a missed perim. shot for OKC and a missed perim shot for LAL are two different animals…

  4. Awesome post. Let’s go Lakers!

  5. Great job Phillip. The second possession you describe is a perfect representation of the offense. They’ve been too impatient and haven’t worked hard enough to get the ball inside. As a result, we continue to settle for outside jumpers.

  6. This is why I love this site – you learn about the game from knowledgeable posters such as Philip.

    BTW – I haven’t seen any posts from Bill Bridges lately. Maybe I missed them, but he always has some salient points.

    The keys to tonight’s game are simple – outhustle, outrebound and lay off the OKC shooters. If they beat us hitting jumper after jumper, great. I don’t think that’s likely. What we can’t allow is for them to penetrate the lane and break down our defense.

    And regardless of the number of FTAs we get, we have to make them.

    I also expect to see a very chippy Kobe. He knows that the media and general public are saying he’s in decline and doesn’t have it, blah blah blah. He knows darn well that if he can get our team past OKC we have a great shot at going back to the Finals. Trouble is, OKC is ready.

    Let’s go Lakers – the season is officially on the line (no pun intended) tonight.

  7. Great post.

    Speaking of crowds (Philip discussing crowding the paint), I hope our Staples Center regulars can support this team with some serious volume. It’s been a knock on the fans in the past, and tonight the Lakers need the energy! I even saw an email from a season ticket holder encouraging others with tickets to sell them to noisy people if they don’t want to make the noise. LOL.

  8. Excellent post,one of the reasons this site is such a great place,kudos Phillip.I love it,today i can truly say I’ve learned something.Thanks.Go Lakers,greetings from Croatia!

  9. There’s an enormous, stinking, pink elephant in the room that everyone keeps glossing over.

    If you know that you’re going to get tooted for ticky tack fouls wouldn’t that change the way you play defense?

    If you know that you can swing your arms in the paint like a wildman without worrying about repercussions, wouldn’t that also change the way you play defense?

    If you’re injured and tired, and literally EVERY SINGLE CALL is going against you for two straight games, isn’t that going to affect your aggressiveness and focus?

    I’m glad Franky brought over his post from the previous thread…the Lakers gave up the 2nd least FT attempts a game in the regular season…now they’re fouling machines?

    And there’s history, as Franky pointed out. The Lakers only gave up 22 free throw attempts a game to the Thunder during the regular season…but now suddenly they can’t stop fouling?

    Are the Lakers really playing any different?

    I would argue that the Laker defense hasn’t been a problem at all. The Lakers (outside of Fish and Farmar) have been playing EXCELLENT DEFENSE.

    Check out the Thunder’s Shooting Percentages in each game:

    Game 1: 40.3%
    Game 2: 39.2%
    Game 3: 41.3%
    Game 4: 40.8%

    Defense isn’t the problem at all, based on those metrics. Take a look at the free throw attempts by the Thunder for each game:

    Game 1: 24
    Game 2: 33
    Game 3: 34
    Game 4: 48

    “Wait a minute,” you say, “Maybe the refs were just calling it close.”

    Here are the Laker free throw attempts in each game:

    Game 1: 22
    Game 2: 32
    Game 3: 12
    Game 4: 28

    “Wait,” you object again, “The Lakers shot 31 three pointers in Game 3. That’s why there was just a big discrepancy!”

    Fair point. So you would think that in order for there to be a 34 to 12 free throw advantage, the Thunder must have been driving the ball relentlessly, while the Lakers sat back and jacked up outside shots.

    NOPE.

    Game 3 shots in the paint for LA: 14
    Game 3 shots in the paint for OKC: 6

    Hmmmm…that’s interesting, isn’t it?

    Just because the Thunder weren’t jacking up threes, doesn’t mean they weren’t taking outside shots.

    In fact, the Lakers were either shooting threes or going inside…yet, they were only awarded 12 free throw attempts?

    Go ahead and look at the shot chart:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/shotchart?gameId=300422025

    Do you think maybe the Thunder got “a little help” in Game 3?

    I think the idea behind Phillip’s post on defense is correct, in terms of talking about adjustments, but defense hasn’t really been the problem at all.

    The Thunder averaged 46.2% shooting during the season, the Lakers are holding them to a HUGE 6% below their average (40.4% FG average for the Thunder this series). That’s pretty impressive by any measure.

    The Thunder also averaged 27 free throw attempts a game during the season. Now, sudddenly, they’re averaging 35 attempts a game?

    Huh?

    The Lakers only gave up 22 free throws a game during the regular season…magically, during the playoffs, they give up 13 more free throws a game? That’s a 60% increase.

    Really?

    Now, the Lakers are still hitting their season average in free throw attempts during the season (24), but Thunder actually gave up MORE free throw attempts a game during the regular season (25).

    SO, after 82 games of evidence, the Thunder suddenly foul slightly less, and the Lakers suddenly foul an absurd amount more.

    REALLY?

    We’re all cool with just ignoring this?

  10. Interesting to see the opposing point of view. Great analysis if I may say so.

    Are the Laker fans as a giddy/nervous about this game as us young Thunder fans are?

    I literally can’t wait for tonight, and have Game 6 tix in hand for Friday night!

    Go Thunder!

  11. BY THE WAY.

    Tonight’s Ref Assignments?

    Dan Crawford
    Bob Delaney
    Leon Wood

    Dan Crawford & Bob Delaney both worked the attrocious Game 2 of the 2008 Finals (with Ken Mauer) when the Celtics had a 38 to 12 free throw advantage.

    Want to see something else interesting?

    Laker’s record when each of these guys is reffing the game:

    Dan Crawford: 2 wins and 3 losses
    Bob Delaney: 1 win and 2 losses
    Leon Wood: 2 wins and 3 losses

    The Lakers ended the season with 57 wins and 25 losses (a 70% win percentage).

    Yet, somehow, the Lakers had a losing record with ALL THREE refs who were chosen for this pivotal Game 5.

    I wonder why these SPECIFIC refs were chosen?

    Hmmm…

  12. I think it’s plain to everyone that the refs got caught up in the crowd, like it happens in SLC. I do think there is something to be said to the idea that the Lakers are just a tired team, and are hence committing more touch fouls.

    I don’t expect Oklahoma to get anywhere near those calls in LA though.

    Prepare yourself for the “refs gave the Lakers game 5″ from Thunder fans and Laker haters…

  13. NBA is a business guys. No shiet do the referees give the Thunder some help at home so David Stern and co and keep marketing his next *star* Durant. Or maybe this gives Jerry Buss some extra money from game 5 and possibly 7? No one is going to turn down extra money, right?

  14. Burgundy,
    I don’t think anyone would argue agasint the concept that the Thunder getting to the FT line has been a difference maker for them on offense. However, despite what the historical numbers say about the Thunder/Lakers games in the regular season or the Lakers general foul rate during the regular season – they’re fouling the Thunder now and it’s working for OKC. All of this talk about the refs calling the game unfairly doesn’t add up to me.

    How about the Lakers were actually fouling a lot and the Thunder weren’t. Is that not possibe as well? I mean, that’s a conclusion that seems valid to me. That the Thunder, the more aggressive team, was drawing fouls. That they got into the penalty earlier and then did more to take advantage when there than the Lakers have. And that the Lakers, despite their focus on interior play, aren’t earning trips to the foul line.

    I remember one of the games from the ’08 Finals where Boston shot 40-some odd FT’s and the Lakers shot less than 20 (I believe). In that game, I saw what I considered to be fouls that the C’s committed that went unpenalized. I saw grabbing and reaching and clutching (done quite slyly, btw). I can’t say the same thing in these games vs. OKC.

    UPDATE: And now you’re claiming bias in who is officiating the game? Are you in full conspiracy mode now?

  15. *can keep marketing* I meant

  16. Hey Phillip- Great post today. I know how much work goes into prepping images for something like this, and the sheer volume and the fact that you had to locate them makes me appreciate the amount of time this kind of thing takes.

    Its unfortunate you guys have to break down stuff that’s going wrong, but the subject matter shouldn’t keep us from acknowledging the great job you and darius are doing.

  17. I second what JD is saying (about Phillip, not about me). This was a great post.

  18. Kudos Burgundy,

    I think many on this site don’t want to make excuses for the this Lakers team. Sure, there are many things that the Lakers could have and should have done better. No one is denying that. As Kurt and now Darius point out, you can’t blame the outcome of a game on some bad calls by the refs. But that’s just it. This is not a blown call at the end of a game, these are 2 whole games of one sidedness. We can come up with different things that the team can do better, but you can’t ignore the fact that this was a major factor in our 2 losses.

  19. I’d have a hard time saying the Lakers got screwed on any given play with FTs.

    But I do think it’s fair to point out the discrepancy against people still claiming the Lakers are getting the benefit of calls, such as when Kobe’s travel was overturned last game and Twitter erupted. Its like us fans get the worst of both worlds.

    Durant has a great knack for drawing fouls using tricks a lot of 10 year vets don’t even know. Anybody arguing that the league wants an OKC-Utah series next round is insane.

  20. #19. JD, I thought Bucher had a great line about a potential OKC/Utah series when he said if that match up were to take place, the teams should commute via “covered wagon”. Ha. You’re right, the league may love the up and coming Thunder, but the Lakers make the NBA money. If the league were really out to fix anything, it’d be the Lakers and the Celtics in the Finals every year (with the Lakers/Cavs coming in 2nd).

  21. +20 FTA in games 3 and 4 is a little severe though. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy for or against the lakers. I don’t think the Lakers have done themselves a lot of favors here, but if they are legitimately so flat footed that they are fouling and not getting fouled this much, then their problems are much much more grave than we’re admitting.

  22. 20- And they might find a way to make the Knicks relevant…

  23. Darius,

    : )

    Yeah, every once in a while I slide into “conspiracy” mode if I get worked up enough.

    That’s one of the reasons I don’t cover the NBA anymore. Too often I got too worked up about the officiating…it’s tough to stay in “reporter” mode and just report the facts.

    The strategy discussions you and Phillip post on this site are truly unparalleled – really great stuff, consistently.

    Here’s my counter, regarding conspiracy theory, though:

    Why does the NBA continuously make it so easy to come up with conspiracy theories?

    It doesn’t take much digging, does it?

    The MLB doesn’t have this problem. Neither does the NFL.

    The NBA certainly benefits, financially, from an extended Laker playoff run…but “extended” is the key word here.

    How interesting is it if the games are called evenly (Game 1, for example), and the Lakers win easily?

    Maybe you and I are watching different series, but it sure looks to me like the Thunder have gotten the benefit of the whistle in Games 2, 3, and 4.

    It’s certainly silly to think that the NBA wants the Thunder to win.

    But it’s no quite as silly to think the NBA wants to keep the series and the games close.

    You don’t think the Laker’s Game 4 performance (unfocussed, lacksadaisical) was a giant F.U. to the league?

    Players are well aware of what’s going on.

  24. Burgundy,

    “Fair point. So you would think that in order for there to be a 34 to 12 free throw advantage, the Thunder must have been driving the ball relentlessly, while the Lakers sat back and jacked up outside shots.

    NOPE.

    Game 3 shots in the paint for LA: 14
    Game 3 shots in the paint for OKC: 6″

    Are those shots in the paint #’s FGA? If you get fouled then it doesn’t count as a FGA, so FGA in the paint wouldn’t necessarily correlate w/ # of fouls drawn. In fact, in some sense you could argue the inverse is true – the more you get fouled, the less FGA in the paint you will have.

    Phillip,
    Is that one play really indicative of the way Lakers are playing defense? Sure Bynum was out of position but Krstic can hit an outside shot (he wasn’t at the 3 pt line). Pau also was a little over aggressive in pursuing Green, but I wouldn’t want to leave him open either. To me we are being selective with who we want to leave open, and Kobe is sagging off Sefolosha a lot. I think any more would be detrimental, esp when the likes of Maynor and Harden come in the game. I would not leave Green (or Durant, obviously). Plus, packing it in is harder to do against slashing versus postups, because you have less reaction time, esp when a player gets beat really badly.

  25. 24: exactly! we have more ‘shots’ in the paint because they remain shots whereas OKC has fewer shots because they became FTA. I’m as big of a Laker fan as anyone – I’ll be there tonight screaming my head off – but I don’t believe at all that our troubles have anything at all to do with officiating. In fact, the only really important bad call I remember all series was the Artest impeding movement on Durant which still was less egregious than Westbrook’s ‘foul’ on what was a perfectly legit block in game 2 (I think) at Staples.

    Our defenders need to start moving their feet and on offense we need to attack. Let’s not become the Celtics blog where every loss is about the refs/some kind of cryptic agenda to boost ratings.

    Nonsense. We’re getting outworked and outhustled and it better end tonight or this season is coming to an end in april.

  26. I liked the offensive breakdown in the second clip. The other Lakers were moving some without the ball, but not crisply. I would still like to see some downscreens and high low. The Lakers also need to swing the ball weakside more and try to make the entry pass from there, to either Gasol or Bynum flashing into the lane. Finally, I don’t know if it just because he has slowed down and can’t do it, but the Lakers need Kobe to get into the lane more and then make flip, dump and jump passes to bigs with their hands up. That was another thing that we saw more of last spring.

    As to the refs: I have a lot of on-line contact with Laker haters, and many people assume that the Lakers get breaks from the refs. So, yes, if the game is close tonight, and Kobe gets any questionable calls late in the 4th, those people will complain. That is a given.

    As far as the refs shading things to extend the series/get TV ratings…not impossible, of course, but even if true, I think it is overstated. Worrying about the refs is like worrying about election fraud in politics.

  27. This is a long, athletic team we’re up against, so swinging the ball along the 3pt line from the strongside to the weak may not give all that open a look. A long jumper out of the corner is kind of dangerous, too.

    The last picture does highlight the weakness of this kind of defense, though. Krstic is blocking out Bynum, but he’ll probably be fronting Bynum more often than not; and Durant-Westbrook-Green aren’t blocking anybody out.

    Here’s where Kobe’s “I-Eat-First” mentality is truly a good thing. He shouldn’t really look to facilitate at all. If the Lakers are on the same page, they can anticipate his shots, block out, and dominate the glass.

  28. Darius, The Thunder may indeed be up and coming, but I thought that way about the NO Hornets not too long ago. Look what happened to them:

    07-08: 56-26
    08-09: 49-33
    09-10: 37-45

    Just saying.

  29. There are a lot of things contributing to our poor play – terrible outside shooting, unaggressiveness by the bigs, our defense needs to tighten up…but Burgundy makes a good point: the officiating, as I’ve seen it, is definitely tilted in OKC’s favor.

    It’s not the only factor we need to focus on, but it is tangible. It is having a noticable effect on the game and we shouldn’t disregard it. Unfortunately there isn’t much the Lakers can do about it – so they gotta work on the in-game aspects that they CAN control.

    @Darius’ post #14 – it’s not like the Celtics series where fouls are going unpenalized; its about too many calls and penalties being made against the Lakers defense.

  30. @28,

    I agree in a sense; the NEXT step is the hard one, in terms of the Thunder’s climb up the NBA ladder. OTOH, they have:

    A superstar in place
    A number 2 in place
    Who are very young and the same age
    and
    A lot of cap space

    NO did not have that, and as good as Paul is, it is hard to build a title team around a 1. Magic Johnson was Magic Johnson; a guy who played the 1 but was historically unique. With True 1s, even great ones–Nash, Stockton, Thomas–you need to have a lot around them. And of course Stockton never won a title and Nash hasn’t, either.

    There is a FA who is a perfect fit for them–Brandon Haywood. And, three years from now, in 2013, Westbrook and Durant will both only be 24 years old.

  31. if the lakers were playing with the same intensity and effort as okc, i don’t think some would be concerned about the referees. do you need to foul a laker player when they are missing most of their outside shots and you are fast enough to slow down a fast break? we really need pau, bynum and lo to be monsters out there today, especially on the boards. (I think pau is playing pretty well, but he’s got to be a beast on the boards). go lakers!

  32. Oklahoma City’s front office is currently doing just about everything right. They have their big pieces locked up for the next 3 to 5 years, and have some picks still coming up.

    http://hoopshype.com/salaries/oklahoma_city.htm

    Sam Presti has been exceptionally adept.
    Those guys are going to be good (injuries not-withstanding) for quite some time.

    Prolonged excellence is incredibly difficult in the NBA, which is why we as Lakers fans are so fortunate. And even we, as fans of one of the premier franchises in all of professional sports, still had to suffer through the Smush-Kwame years…

    I wish the Robber Barons nothing but success in the future, defining success as “Losing in the WCF to the Lakers for the next five years.”

    And, just to completely go crazy, but wouldn’t it be amazing if Lebron went to OKC next year? With Etan Thomas, Earl Watson and Matt Harpring all coming off the books at the end of the year and freeing up $20,450,000 it is not like it is out of the realm of the possible…

  33. Nice article guys. Though I’m a Thunder fan, I appreciate the chance to learn more about the game. So many of us are new NBA fans, we need all the education we can get! I’ve only been following these blogs this season, but this certainly is one of the better ones out there. Nice job by the admins.

    As far as the ref ‘conspiracy’ theories, interesting analysis of the numbers over the last few games. I wonder if similar stats would hold true over several playoff series. If this were going on, what sort of trends would you expect to see historically, as the NBA (via the refs) tries to steer the playoffs one way or another? Is there a good place to get this data and do some analysis? For example, were the Lakers the beneficiaries of suspect calls last season? IF so, in one series, or in all of them? How about Boston a couple of years ago? What sorts of trends would make sense, and then does the data actually support the claims or is there not enough evidence to support a theory like this? I don’t claim to know, but I’d be interested in hearing more on this. It certainly seems that someone who has access to the numbers and some statistical knowledge could give some interesting insight into this question.

  34. I want to go on record as a longtime Laker fan who does not give any credibility to any kind of referee bias/macro-conspiracy. OKC has not been the beneficiary of unusual or helpful calls– they’ve been attacking and we’ve been reaching and fouling because we’re slow and not moving our feet/rotating quickly enough.

    Period.

    I hate that CelticsBlog is full of this kind of nonsense and I believed, wrongly I guess, that Laker fans were above this kind of scapegoating. Hey, if anyone out there really believes this silliness, why even waste your time watching a single game? To see your team transcend the fix like in that lousy Stallone soccer movie, Victory? I don’t write on WWE blog about what the Undertaker must do to win a scripted event, why would anyone do so here? Really, if it’s predetermined, or biased, pick a different sport.

    ‘The league likes big market teams, the league loves the Lakers, the league hates the Lakers, the league loves an underdog, the League doesn’t want the Suns to win, the league hates the Celtics… blah blah blah.’ The fact that every team’s blog is full of conspiracy theories against that team should be evidence enough that nothing is going on.

    Pick the best players you can find, coach them as well as possible, play the games, and shut up. This blog needs a healthy dose of Jerry Sloan who understands better than anyone that all that matters is what happens on the floor.

    We’ll either win tonight and deserve to, or we’ll lose and deserve to. Afraid of a fix? A bad last-second call? Then let’s go up by 20 and not look back!

    We were a good defensive team and recently, we have not been. We moved the ball well on offense and, recently, we have not. How are the officials responsible for this?