Lakers/Thunder: The Performance We’ve Been Looking For

Darius Soriano —  April 28, 2010

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In the recap to game 4, I said that the loss by the Lakers could only be described as a first class butt kicking.  Well in game 5, the Lakers returned the favor as they dominated the Thunder in every aspect of the game and won the rubber match of this series 111-87 to take a 3-2 lead in this first round match up.  For the first time in what seemed like weeks (if not months) the Lakers played a complete game from start to finish and controlled this contest from the get go.  And since the recap to game 4 is fresh on my mind, I figure that this time I should pass along some numbers that were critical to a really strong Lakers performance (rather than the woeful numbers from the stinker performance on Saturday):

90.6/46%.  This was the Thunder’s offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) and their true shooting percentage for this game (compare these numbers to OKC’s 105.8/54.7 in the regular season).  Essentially, this was a dominant defensive performance from the Lakers.  LA did a much better job of getting back in transition and walling off the Thunder’s penetration in the open court.  As Andrew Bynum said after yesterday’s practice, the Lakers were willing to relinquish some offensive rebounding opportunities if it meant better transition D and tonight that’s exactly what we saw as the Lakers only had 10 offensive rebounds, but held the Thunder to only 7 fastbreak points (in comparison to allowing 24 in game 4).

4-13.  These were Russell Westbrook’s shooting numbers on the evening.  After being the most effective player for the Thunder over the first four games of this series, the Lakers did a great job of slowing down Russ and making his life difficult.  And really, most of the credit needs to go to Kobe Bryant.  Apparently after game 4, Kobe asked to take over the defensive assignment against the young Thunder PG and Phil obliged.  What followed was Kobe giving Westbrook the full on Rondo treatment – backing off him to make him shoot jumpers and then using his length to contest the shots that he did take from the outside.  And while Russell was still willful in his drives to the hoop and was able to break free on a few occasions, Kobe ultimately took away what had been the Thunder’s greatest advantage on offense up to this point.  Before this series started I thought that Phil would only deploy Kobe on Russell if/when the young PG made it clear that he was the driver of the OKC offense; when he showed that he deserved to be treated the way that Phil treated Magic, Stockton, Mark Jackson, Kidd, Billups, Nash, and Rondo (with Pippen and then later, Kobe).  Well, after Russ’ tremendous game 4 it looks like that time had come and Phil responded in kind.  And Kobe responded to the challenge, yet again.  On one play in particular, the Thunder had secured the ball, Westbrook had leaked out, and was racing the ball upcourt.  However, Kobe pursued him full speed, chased him down, made him stop just a few feet outside the paint, and then turn around to regroup the offense.  Only when Westbrook turned back and reversed his dribble, Shannon Brown came from behind and tipped the ball away to force a steal.  That was one of Westbrooks eight turnovers on the night and reemphasized the notion that nothing was going to come easy in the open court for OKC’s dynamic point guard.

46/22/6/3.  These were the combined points, rebounds, assists, and blocks of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.  Just a tremendous game from the Lakers starting big men tonight.  And while these were some great numbers – especially on offense – they deserve most of their credit in doing the little things that don’t really show up in the box score.  They only had three blocks, but they contested countless other looks from the Thunder and really controlled the paint on defense (at one point late in the game the Thunder only had 10 points in the paint on 5-21 shooting).  They did a much better job of boxing out the Thunder big men (surrendering only 14 offensive rebounds on 53 misses shots).  After the Lakers secured defensive rebounds, they ran the floor hard to establish the deep post position that fueled the Lakers offense all evening.  I’d give one more credit than the other, but both were just too good to single out.  Because while Bynum was super efficient – going 8 for 10 from the field for his 21 points, Pau was as steady as could be and was a great initiator of offense by not only hitting shots (25 points), but by passing exceptionally on the interior (5 assists).  On one specific play, Pau ran the floor hard and got a nice pass while diving to the hoop.  But rather than force up an out of control shot while going full speed, he executed a beautiful drop pass to a camped on the opposite block Bynum for the easy dunk.  It was that type of teamwork that spearheaded the Lakers attack tonight and it was just fantastic to watch the Lakers finally exploit their size advantage inside.  And after a 58-26 points in the paint advantage for the Lakers on the backs of our two big men, I hope to see more of the same in the upcoming games.

27.  This is the number of assists that the Lakers had on their 42 made baskets.  And of those 27, Kobe led the team with 7 dimes.  I already mentioned his defense, but Kobe really does deserve credit for his offense this evening.  Sure he only had 13 points, but those 7 assists set the tone for his offensive game and created an atmosphere for teamwork and togetherness that was the theme for the Lakers attack.  Everyone shared the ball, everyone moved, everyone was in the right place and it was Kobe that set the tone.  He was the master tactician tonight; the conductor for the Lakers symphony on offense.  The man was in complete control of the game and he barely even shot the ball.  After the teams’ awful performance in game 4 and Kobe’s lack of shooting I told you there would be stories that spoke about Kobe’s efforts to control the game and try to turn them into controversy.  But tonight, Kobe went right back to the same game plan and it worked to perfection.  Everyone got involved and it was successful to the tune of a 115.6 offensive rating on 60.6% true shooting.

+24.  This was Ron Artest’s plus/minus number on the evening.  So, let me just say this is kind of cheating.  Every Laker starter had a positive plus/minus and Ron didn’t even lead the team.  I don’t care.  I’ve been on Ron too much this series to not give him some love when he really has a good game.  14 points on 11 shots (including 2-4 from three), 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks for Ron to go along with his stellar defense on Kevin Durant.  Artest was active on both ends of the floor and truly was a difference maker for the Lakers.  He led the fast break, showed a very good post up game, and even had a monster dunk.  He really did do it all.  If Artest can have just a few more games like this on offense while still playing his trademarked bulldog defense, the Lakers will be too tough a team for most opponents to beat.

In the end, this was just a fantastic game.  As I said in the preview, this was as close to a must win that the Lakers have had in a long time and they responded with one of their best performances of the year.  The other day I asked if it was a reach to think that one day soon the Lakers would have more than one player play well in a game; if it was too much to ask to have both our bigs play well, Kobe shoot well, and have at least one of our shooters have a good night from deep.  In game 5, my wishes and hopes were answered by a Lakers team that erased fans’ frustration and replaced it with pure joy.  This was the Lakers team that we all have been wanting to see and they delivered.  They now lead the series 3-2 and have put themselves in prime position to advance to the 2nd round.  Here’s to them taking care of business on Friday.

Darius Soriano

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50 responses to Lakers/Thunder: The Performance We’ve Been Looking For

  1. as said in ss&r, the empire strikes back! don’t mind us being this evil. alright, not.

  2. Great game, great recap. Still beaming from this performance… but pretty soon I’ll start to wonder which Lakers team is going to show up for Game 6… doh! I started already.

  3. Awesome write-up! I couldn’t agree with you more about Kobe. He really set the tone for this team on both ends of the court. He still doesn’t have quite the lift or handles he used to because of injuries, but it’s refreshing to see that he is still able to get into the teeth of the defense and control a basketball game. Above all else, I think Kobe is going to need more performances like this if the Lakers are to win a title.

  4. ——Copied from the last thread——–

    What a difference a court makes…. And the difference is…

    #1 Kobe VS Westbrook
    As I mentioned yesterday I believe… the only OKC player that has been effective on offense was Russell Westbrook… and as I said before the series started… with no offensive weapon at SG the Lakers can and should easily move Kobe over to defend Westbrook and Fisher can guard offensive midget Thabo. With Russell taken out of the game and Durant continuing to be slapped around by Artest the Thunder just have nowhere to generate offense.

    #2 Artest VS Ariza
    The Lakers weren’t supposed to be just getting a one on one defensive upgrade and outside shooting upgrade. Artest was known for being a playmaker, shotmaker, and pass maker. Most of the season he has been relegated to being a spot up shooter (something he isn’t accustomed to). Maybe it was just one game… but maybe he is getting comfortable on this team and in the offense. And maybe he is no longer afraid to be aggressive on this star studded team and might be starting to get comfortable being aggressive, penetrating and making plays. We shall see.

    #3 The Refs
    Probably the biggest effect on this game were the refs not gifting the Thunder FT’s when attacking the basket. The Thunder attacked early and often and got stone walled at the rim thanks in large part to Gasol and Andrew Bynum. After rightfully not getting any calls OKC abandoned forcing the ball to the basket and the route continued.

    #4 Bynum has Arrived
    After missing the playoffs due to injury two seasons ago and being limited with a sever knee injury last year, “The Beast” is making his presence felt on both ends of the floor and nobody is benefiting more than “PF” Pau Gasol. For the first time in his playoff career (including in Memphis) Pau can play most of his playoff minutes at his natural position of PF… and has Gasol ever looked as dominant in the playoffs as in this series? How many NBA players playing PF can defend Gasol? I can only think of Anderson Varejoa. Welcome to the playoffs Andrew… we have been expecting you.

  5. thisisweaksauce April 28, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Kobe dominated. 13 points on 4 of 9 shooting would tell the average foolish fan that he played poorly. But no. This is one of my favorite performances ever by Kobe Bryant. One of his best ever. He truly is Batman – adding every little thing he can to his arsenal. This is a shout out to Zephid, who called it in the middle of the game.

  6. By the way, comment of the night from J M:

    ken: Butler 35 for Dalles. Didn’t Mitch trade him for Stonehenge.

    J M: #174, yes, but we traded Stonehenge for The Caveman. The Caveman gave us 25 and 11 tonight.

  7. I don’t know if anyone else caught this, but it was shown on national TV:

    After a OKC made free-throw, Odom and Gasol were under the basket. As Gasol starts to move away (leaving Odom to inbound), Odom recognizes an impending full-court trap from Brook’s playcall – so he immediately tugs on Gasol’s jersey (this was quite visible on TNT) and Gasol realizes it too. So Gasol inbounds it to Odom, and Odom was able to bring it upcourt.

    If Odom hadn’t done that, Fisher was the only guard in the backcourt ready to accept a pass – and two Thunder players were watching him. This was just another example of the Lakers’ sharpness and concentration tonight. This was a turnover waiting to happen, but single-handedly deterred by Odom’s savvy and recognition.

  8. I’m sure I’m not the first, but congrats FB&G for getting recognition on SportsNation!

    Today was everything I was hoping for as a fan. Kobe facilitated the ball well, Westbrook and Durant were defended well, and our bigs did their jobs. With our homecourt defended, I don’t think I could ask any more from the Lakers tonight.

  9. Simply said, both these teams are very affective yet in polar opposite ways. So far, both of these teams have controlled tempo on their home courts. This is a good thing to know about the Lakers; being that this series would be close to over if we didn’t have a strong home court team. Now, This team will prove alot more to me if they can beat the Thunder away in game six than their onslaught tonight. This will show that not only is our home court performance tight but we also have a confident/ clutch away team too.

    Here’s to the great game tonight and a great close out performance on Friday.

    shoosh those Oklahomans Kobe! (Or wag the finger… I like when you do either one)

  10. I like how very few articles discuss Ron Artest’s defense on Durant…he scored only 17 on 14 shots! It’s as if everyone is taking his defense for granted so no one cares anymore!

  11. At least some calm can be restored after tonight….breath people take a beath… I guess Kobe was right!!! “What the hell is going on around here”… Once again lala land overreacts.

  12. The interior passing was as good as its been since last year, especially from Pau but also from Ron and the rest of the team.

    It also seemed like Fisher was a lot better not having to deal with Westbrook. I think it was starting to get in his head a little, but he played very well last night.

  13. Great win. As always, the question is if we can sustain this level over the course of an entire series. These have already been mentioned, but what I loved most about this game:

    -The interior passing from our bigs. Pau had some great looks at close-range, but also give Drew credit for filling the spaces and finding the right angles. They clicked better than Pau/Lamar tonight.

    -Kobe’s domination of this game by patience and deliberation. Full-on accepted his limitations and rose above them, keeping his fingerprints on this entire game.

    -When our starters went out, our bench didn’t give an inch. Admittedly, it was one of those nights when everything seemed to be going for everyone. Our starters will have to carry us more on the road.

    -Fisher’s leadership: telling Phil to bench him if he didn’t block Westbrook out. Which was made more impressive by the fact that he wasn’t even guarding Westbrook (nice idea, though).

    -Keeping the Thunder out of transition.

    -Artest with the sledgehammer.

    Finally, I almost never talk about refereeing, but I’ll say this – a lot of the blocks and good defensive plays made last night would have been called fouls in Oklahoma City. The Lakers defense did improve tremendously, but they were also allowed to improve.

  14. Spin it whichever way you want, this game was officiated in an entirely different manner than the last one. And this is what supplies grist for the conspiracy theorists. For me, it is really my only complaint about the NBA product.

    Kobe on Westbrook was just what the doctor ordered. Ron hitting shots sure helped.

    I guess I was wrong about needing to improve three point shooting – at least for this series.

    I think it was Philip’s post yeserday that pointed out that the Lakers needed to pack the paint mroe and give up the outside shot to the poor shooting Thunder. Saw it repeatedly last night. Good call.

    Like so many others, I wonder where this Lakers team goes on so many game nights where they seem to lack focus.

    Can Kobe allow this team to win a championship with him not being the primary scoring option? Can the other Lakers players step up and provide this kind of performance on a regular basis?

  15. can this be a preview of kobe for the remainder of his contract?

    facilitator with the ability to take over the 4Q, focused on defense in shutting down their top non-big man threat.

    bynum gets fed, gasol can flow the post offense, and kobe matures in to the elder statesman. this combined with more odom impersonations of magic would make us top dog for awhile (which i imagine was mitch/JB’s hope when they extended kobe to match the duration of the pau’s contract).

    i’m not sure how many times i said “finally” in watching last night’s game.

  16. I’ve been waiting to see the Lakers play a game like that since the All-Star Break this year. Hallelujah!

  17. Also, since I criticize this a lot, I should also give props – our crowd was very good last night (great by Staples standards). I even saw some people in the front row take the effort to set down their beers and stand up at a couple points throughout the game. But it was a good atmosphere, and even Durant noted that in his postgame comments.

    Also, I missed this link before the last game, but I always enjoy hearing from former Lakers champions about our current incarnation. Ron Harper really blasted some of our players:

    “Kobe’s going to come out and shoot the ball in Game 5 — and he should,” Harper said. “Who’s going to be the man to say, ‘I’m guarding him?’ They are all hiding. Who is going to say, ‘I’m putting it all on the line?’

    “Will the real Ron Artest start playing? At times, you see the real one. At times you don’t see the real Ron Artest.

    “Where’s Lamar Odom been at? Somebody needs to put an ad on a milk carton and ask, ‘Where’s Lamar Odom?’ He ain’t showed up.

    “That kid [Russell] Westbrook is having his way with all those [Lakers] guards,” Harper continued. “Farmar is the fastest guard they got, right? Looks to me like Farmar is scared of that kid.”

    I realize that doesn’t mesh with our post-game emotions/euphoria, but for me it was fun to hear from one of my favorite hard-nosed champions.

  18. hey how about some props for LO?
    I thought he contributed very well last night too

  19. As Andrew Bynum said after yesterday’s practice, the Lakers were willing to relinquish some offensive rebounding opportunities if it meant better transition D and tonight that’s exactly what we saw

    I soooo called it!

    …have the bigs not even pay attention to the glass. Just get back to cover the transition.

    OK, sure I also said let’s not even try to score, just cover transition buckets well and win 67-59, but I’m going to go ahead and take credit for calling it anyway.

    I’m just trying to find some way to be excited about the fact that I wasn’t able to watch the game and forgot to Tivo it.

  20. kobenash!!!

  21. How about just Knash… sounds like someone breaking something, or somebody :P

  22. Commentators always talk about “experience” and playoff “saavy.” These two seemingly abstract concepts manifested in small and influential ways last night.

    On offense, Pau, LO & Drew used a variety of pump fakes, head fakes and spin moves to keep the Thunder defenders off balance and draw fouls. When you have the size advantage inside, and a young hungry team is overplaying your first move, you have to do this to be effective. We’ve all been calling for this. And last night our guys finally used this consistently. Kobe made adjustments off his initial moves over and over again. On one play, he got the ball underneath the basket w/ an approaching Ibaka. Normally it would be an open shot, but w/ the Thunder’s scrambling defense, he took an extra dribble, waited patiently right underneath the basket, and spun around as Ibaka was coming down for a and-1. On another play, Kobe caught the ball at the FT line as the clock was winding down, backed down Durant w/ two dribbles, pivoted w/ headfake, got Durant in the air, and pivoted toward the basket for an easy layup. Vintage Kobe. (Lebron tried the same move in the previous game and got called for a travel. Yeah, it takes some skill).

    This was reminiscent of his attack, esp when Durant was on him. Instead of isolation and killing seconds, each dribble, even in iso situations, had a purpose. On one play Kobe caught the ball on the perimeter, dribbled it through his legs several times that led to a move that caught Durant off balance for an easy shot. Durant may be long, but a several plays he simply did not have the defensive fundamentals and lateral footwork to keep up with Kobe (and even Artest on *the Dunk*). Kobe made his normal moves, albeit w/ more crisp, and got separation consistently. And the Thunder went away from that matchup because of it.

    Speaking of *the Dunk* – it exemplified another way we used our veteran saavy to exploit the Thunder’s overplay & aggressiveness against them. Artest saw that Pau was being fronted heavily by Collison. This means that Pau would be in offensive rebounding position w/ a shot, and the strong side big would not be able to help. Artest took quick dribbles to the basket for a wide open lane and got the dunk.

    Lastly, I especially liked how we didn’t rely on force feeding the post so much. We ran quick, flowing, and timely sequenced action, and Pau played great from 15-18 ft. It really adds a dimension to our offense if Artest can play in the post when his shot isn’t falling and Pau can space out the D on the perimeter. This is something that Artest can bring over Ariza. (although Ron, please don’t shoot it unless you really really have to. Learn from Luke in the post)

    On D, Bynum (esp) did a great job of jumping straight up on contests (which I agree had been foul calls in OKC), leading to at least two no calls in the first quarter that really opened the game up for us and forced OKC to adjust (which meant more jumpers).

  23. On a side note, what do you guys think of the Cavs/Celtics series? Celtics got any chance?

  24. soooo many non-calls would’ve been fouls in OKC, and Mamba wouldn’t have shot any free throws either. so-called home court advantage has nothing to with familiarity or the crowd, but rather which fouls are called when. crazy pills’ jump-ball call at the beginning on westbrook… a flagrant 2 in OKC. NBA refs are a joke; STFU Stern, you don’t respect the game.

    go lakers!

  25. This was a great game for the Lakers. Everyone is wondering if they can carry it over to game 6. Roll players usually play better at home, and that’s exactly what we saw last night. On the road, in recent years, Kobe has been the one to kind of take this team under his wing to get big road wins. The question is whether he’s able to right now, or if we even need him to?

    It will be interesting to see if we can win in OKC with Kobe trying to get everyone involved and taking a little bit of a back seat. He is our assassin and the rare player who has been able to feed off of roaring crowds, and take over games for us on the road.

  26. Apparently, Royce from dailythunder.com thinks Kobe’s defense on Westbrook was hardly key:

    “here’s reality: Kobe didn’t do anything special on Westbrook. Russ missed shots he was making in the other four games, and didn’t play with any confidence or swagger. What we Thunder fans know is that this was to be expected from Westbrook. He’s been excellent all season, but at times has been inconsistent.”

    He instead insists that the change caused the Lakers overall defense to be better because of cancelling out Fisher/Thabo with the switch…

    Regardless, I like reading his stuff…

  27. Simonoid,
    Since I have been critical of Lamar’s ‘airhead’ tendencies I also have to be fair. I also saw the Lamar pulling on Pau’s jersy to keep him from running down court and forcing him to inbound the ball to LO. Very smart play.

    Glad you pointed this out

  28. I’ve noticed a lot of questions as to why it took so long for Phil to switch Kobe onto Westbrook in the series, much like we all wondered why it took so long in the Finals vs the Celtics 2 years ago, and after cogitating on it I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s twofold.

    Phil says it’s because he’s worried about tiring Kobe out guarding Westbrook this series. I buy that a bit. Kobe’s looking more tired and banged up than usual, so caution might be a good idea.

    I think the larger part is that both he and Kobe knew that doing so would disrupt the Thunder, but if you can beat them without it and not give them 4 games to figure out the Gordian Knot, then keep it stashed away.

    We won 2 games without it and almost won a third. It wasn’t until it was obvious that the Thunder had found their crutch and put all of their weight on it that Phil and Kobe switched it up.

    Or maybe I’m reading too much into it. Just seems to me that if you think you can win without using that trick and shorten their available reaction time, that can work to your advantage – assuming that your initial bet works for a game or two.

  29. #25. Jane,
    I read what Royce wrote, and I respectfully disagree. Royce does have a point in that Russ is young and he’ll have games like this solely because of his youth and the inconsistency that stems from that. But, I think Royce understates the value of how not getting what you want early in a game can throw off your effectiveness over the long haul. What I mean is that offense is often fueled by comfort and confidence. After games 3 & 4, I don’t think there was a more confident player in this series than Westbrook. In OKC he got so many buckets in transition and was able to penetrate so easily that he even started to make his jumper (culminating in a couple of step back J’s that he buried like he was one of the better shooting guards in the league). But in last night’s game, he didn’t get anything easy. That led to those “shots that he made all series” not getting knocked down when he took them. This is just my take, but just as good offense can build on intself and turn into the “hot hand”, it can go in the other direction too; When you’re not comfortable, poor offense can snowball and you never find that rhythm. I thought that was what happened last night with Russ. And for that, I give a lot of credit to Kobe.

  30. 25. I disagree with Royce from DailyThunder. Kobe used his length to contest shots that Fish could not have contested. Kobe cut off his driving angles and made him work harder. I think there was a reason Russ ‘missed shots he normally makes’ – because he was bothered by Kobe’s length and quickness. Also, the cancelling out of Fish/Thabo as ‘liabilities’ insinuates that Fish was a weaker defender on Kobe. I think this further indicates that Kobe made a difference.

  31. 28 Darius, agreed, he missed a few FT’s too probably because of that. Consistent defense will do great things.

  32. I’m working on the morning links, guys. I got a little busy at work. They’ll be up soon though.

  33. I think the best example of Kobe bothering Russ was when Russ picked Fish’s pocket and was going up for a layup/dunk, he turns his head, sees Kobe and stops himself turns the ball over. If that doesn’t show how much Kobe bothered Russ, I’m not sure anything else will.

  34. Kobe’s play last night, while statistically similar to the game before when he was torn apart, reminded me more than any other nba game of his time with team USA.

    On that team, with all the prolific scorers, he stands out by setting the defensive tone, setting up others and providing offense when they need it most. Its the perfect role for him right now because he can save energy on offense while making sure the rest of the team is where it needs to be.

    However, it requires the rest of the team to be as active and effective on offense as they were yesterday. If they aren’t, it’d end up looking a lot like Game 4, just without him guarding Westbrook.

  35. Darius & Don –

    I’m with you guys. Westbrook looked very out of sync to me and I have to give credit to Kobe’s defense & bothering his transition game. I don’t agree with Royce’s assessment either, but I find his overall commentary interesting.

  36. “However, Kobe pursued him full speed, chased him down, made him stop just a few feet outside the paint, and then turn around to regroup the offense. Only when Westbrook turned back and reversed his dribble, Shannon Brown came from behind and tipped the ball away to force a steal. ”

    Just nitpicking here but I thought on this particular play, it was Fisher that picked off the pass?

  37. AndrewL, you’re thinking of two separate plays, the play your thinking of that Fish picked off the pass was when kobe came from behind westbrook and looked to have a good angle at a block on the fastbreak, and westbrook stopped and tried to pass the ball back to, I believe it was Thabo, and fisher stepped in front of Thabo. The one quoted was when kobe backpedaled at full speed and stayed in front of westbrook forcing him to try and regroup and pull the ball back up top, and when he turned shannon poked the ball out.

  38. #36. Andrew, you could be right. I remembered it being Shannon, but I am probably mistaken. And without access to my tools at Synergy Sports right now (day job responsibilities), I can’t verify. Later on, I’ll review that and check back.

  39. Darius

  40. #8. ThatGuyRyeRye,
    FB&G on SportsNation? Are you talking about the ESPN show? I must have missed it.

  41. Darius & Andrew,

    It was Shannon was picked him off. I remember that play, it was even replayed a couple of times by TNT.

  42. Wow having issues sending comments with Opera Mini.

  43. Yeah it was Shannon on that play I remember it.

    @simonoid yeah opera does not play well w/ javascript, I switch back to android native browser for this site

  44. 7. I saw too. Odom immediately recognized that the thunder were going to apply full court pressure and had Gasol take the ball out. That’s what focus will do for a team. In game 3 and 4 the he probably wouldn’t have notice that, and we know Lamar has had in inbounding blunders. But that was just a very smart play.

    I also read the dailythunder.com recap last night. He was pretty reluctant to give credit to the Lakers and basically implied that the Thunder lost because the Thunder didn’t do what they were supposed to do. He didn’t want to give Kobe for his defense on Westbrook. I, like many Laker fans, disagree because the Lakers are more experienced and talented than the Thunder. So even if the Thunder “did what they were supposed to do” it wouldn’t matter if the Lakers “did what they were supposed to do. I think that’s why the Lakers fans get so frustrated. Its not about winning games big like last night, it’s about playing the way the Lakers are capable of playing. If the Lakers play the way they are capable they will have a lot of games like last night if they are hot, but they will also just win even more games, even if they aren’t hot, because teams just aren’t as good as the lakers. So all we expect is the Lakers to execute and make the right plays on offense and play hard and focus on defense. Shots are going to fall more some nights than others, some judgement calls may go against them, and some loose balls may bounce the other way. But If they do those things, teams will have to play a near perfect game to beat them

  45. Two more things, sorry for my typos in my previous post. And Darius, I think the switch does exist. The Lakers can turn it on anytime they want. They can’t flip a switch to start making 3’s, but they can flip a switch and play harder and be more patient so that they can get better looks at 3’s that will increase their chances of making them. There isn’t a switch to flip to make the Thunder miss shots. But they can flip a switch and decide to hustle back down court after misses and makes to stop the Thunder’s transition offense. A switch to make the referee’s give the Laker’s calls doesn’t exist, but they can flip the switch and be aggressive on both ends of the court and increase their chances of getting the close judgement calls in their favor.

    Yesterday the lakers flipped the switch, now it needs to stay on.

  46. I agree with some of the comments here suggesting that some of what passed for defense last night would have been called as a foul in OKC. To the extent that the refs just chose to call the game differently, that is a shame and something to be concerned about going forward (will they switch back to calling fouls?).

    However, I think that referees do generally give latitude to players and teams that hustle and play hard. For the two games in OKC, that would have been the Thunder; last night, the Lakers played with the kind of effort we haven’t seen in a while. So, while somewhat wary of the officiating come Friday night, I am hopeful that if the Lakers play with this kind of intensity the refs will give them some respect by allowing for playoff style defense to be played.

    Finally, as one who was a loud critic of the players (who looked confused) and the coaches (who looked AWOL), last night was a refreshing change. The Lakers had a plan, they understood that plan and executed it. They took advantage of their strengths, and even used one of the Thunder’s strengths (shotblocking) against them by using ball fakes consistently for the first time in the series. The result: a lot of foul calls and three point opportunities. Now THAT is what coaching (and playing) at a championship caliber is all about.

  47. Artest showed up offensively yesterday and didn’t look like a player lost out there for a change.

    It was great and we need that from him.

    Sometimes I think the Lakers just don’t utilize his skill on the offense, part of that is the weird triangle too.

    Anyway, his aggressiveness worked in game 5.

    My favorite part of the whole game was when Artest got a rebound and stiff armed one of the Thunder players (Green?) like a running back and just knocked him to the floor leaving him in the dust while pushing the ball upcourt and then dishing off to Andrew for a dunk. (correct me if my memory failed me)

    That part was awesome and I had to watch it over again on my DVR.

    Lakers don’t be afraid to run a fastbreak if the opportunity is there.

    Bye.

  48. #37, 41, 43
    Thanks for clarifying guys. I just remembered that play (the Kobe/Fish steal) so prominently that I got it confused with the one Darius was talking about.

    @Darius. Sorry for the confusion!

  49. Darius, it was on yesterday’s episode(Tuesday 4/27). FB&G was on the segment called “site we like.” It was right before a commercial, and from what I remember, Colin Cowherd described FB&G as “an objective lakers blog” and detailed how FB&G wrote about how Kobe needs to step up his game on D, or something like that. I don’t know if I agree with everything Colin or Michelle say, but their show is really entertaining.

    Either way, I was really surprised when I was scrolling through the preview for game 5, and I overheard FB&G getting shouted out on SportsNation. Again, congrats on the recognition!

  50. #49. ThatGuyRyeRye,
    Ahh, I see. Thanks for relaying that. I’m sorry I missed it. I wish someone from the mothership would have given us a heads up on that. I would have set my DVR. Ha.