Around the World (Wide Web): Practice Reports, Kobe is Savvy

Phillip Barnett —  April 29, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers vs Oklahoma Thunder Game 1 NBA Western Conference playoffs in Los Angeles

Practice report (with video) from The buzz word heading into L.A.’s impressive 111-87 Game 5 victory on Tuesday night was “transition,” which the Lakers certainly heeded in not just holding Oklahoma City to a series-low seven fast break points but in scoring 12 FB points themselves. Perhaps just as key as curtailing the Thunder break was a terrific display of ball movement that produced 27 assists, five more than L.A.’s previous high* in the series despite most of the starters sitting out for the fourth quarter after building a 28-point lead.

Practice report (with video) From Land O’ Lakers: Pithy commentary to follow (time permitting and where applicable), but in the meantime here’s some video from Wednesday’s practice in El Segundo. First, Derek Fisher answers my question about whether Tuesday’s impressive Game 5 win can be chalked up simply to effort and activation (i.e. they paid attention/flipped the switch/gave a hoot) or if it’s more complicated. It’s a little from Column A, he said- they certainly played with a spring in their collective step- but a lot more from Column B:

From The OC Register: The son played while his parents watched from the stands. Except it was Kobe Bryant’s mom and dad, sitting right at the end of the Lakers’ bench, and it put everything in a new, old perspective. There was Joe Bryant early in the game, sitting with a half-cocked head tilt and his chin tucked pensively in his hand. Same exact pose that Kobe presents much of the time.

From the OC Register: It’s too bad that Ron Artest said he doesn’t plan to resume his prolific Twitter transmission any time soon. “Summertime,” Artest said Wednesday. Artest often says confusing things that sometimes contradict his own words, but he keeps it interesting, no doubt. On Wednesday, when asked about his improved passing and five assists in Game 5 Tuesday night, Artest said: “I don’t know how they came.” Artest shrugged off the idea that he should take fewer corner 3-point shots — as mentioned by Phil Jackson — because it results in defensive imbalance for the team.

From The everyday-ness of the Lakers is that there is no every day, no typical and orderly. So Tuesday night was just one moment. It could all come crashing down around them again Friday in the frenzy of Oklahoma’s Loud City. BYO Earplugs. But this was a very, very good moment, and that’s noteworthy. Tuesday night at Staples Center was the best half of the Lakers’ postseason, easily the most complete showing they have had in five postseason games and pretty far back into the regular season as well. They showed a focus they have lacked and combined it with the killer instinct they have missed. This step toward the end of the series was actually a start.

From the Press Enterprise: In the aftermath of the Lakers’ head-snapping turnaround victory in Game 5, it was easy to explain what had happened. Easy because every Laker you asked had an answer. All different answers, of course, because these are the Lakers. One thing you can say about the NBA’s most out-front and compelling franchise, they aren’t short on opinions. No one hands out organizational talking points each morning. Going off-script has been a Lakers trademark for decades. Did I say off-script? What script? Since Day One, Phil said tomato, Kobe said to-mah-to.

From Laker Noise: We owe so much to that daggone Tex Winter. Take, for example, the use of the word “facilitator.” In Winter’s complex triangle offense, you have to have someone who sort of pilots the machine, who gets the group into the offense, makes the key passes, helps the group through its reads and changes. Someone who sets things up. That’s the “facilitator.”

From Land O’ Lakers: After last night’s dismantling of the Thunder, a game controlled from start to finish and every point between by the Lakers, the defending champs were barraged by the media with “So why can’t you guys do this every game? questions. A legit query, considering the Lakers have spent much of the postseason’s first round playing against their strengths — and often logic. The puzzling list: 1-The Lakers’ interior play often took a backseat to perimeter shots (despite a terrible percentage from downtown).

From the Los Angeles Times: I guess you can hold the toast. For those who suggested that doom awaited the Lakers in the absence of a healthy Kobe Bryant — OK, for me — Game 5 against the Thunder was an eye-opener, and that’s after 13 years of eye-openers, one more amazing than the next one. After pulling all those rabbits out of hats, Bryant came up with the all-timer in Tuesday’s Game 5: He reached into his hat and pulled out Kobe Bryant.

From the Los Angeles Times: Kobe Bryant has long been accustomed to the phrase “Kobe-stopper,” with plenty of defenders across NBA cities lining up for the challenge of shutting him down, game after game, season after season. It was time for a new twist in Game 5: Bryant became the Westbrook-stopper. The 31-year-old shooting guard bumped and ran with the 21-year-old Oklahoma City point guard, turning a problem spot into a 3-2 series lead for the Lakers.

From Ball Don’t Lie: According to an Oklahoma City radio show, Los Angeles Lakers point guard — and pre-eminent playoff beard grower — Derek Fisher got into it with an enemy fan at a local Waffle House. Fisher has since disputed the claim, but there is evidence that has yet to be submitted to the court of public opinion. We got our hands on the surveillance tape and transcribed what “happened.”

From NBA Fanhouse: Ron Artest has never won an NBA title, but he knows championship- level basketball when he sees it. And that, the Lakers small forward said on Wednesday, is precisely what he saw in his team’s dominating Game 5 win over Oklahoma City at the Staples Center. But before the Lakers headed back to the Ford Center for tonight’s chance to close out their first round series, the 11-year veteran who so desperately wants his first ring wondered why that sort of performance has been the exception and not the rule.

From Kurt at Pro Basketball Talk: Forget The Real Housewives of Orange County. Heck, forget the South Fork Ranch and Dallas. The Buss family soap opera is far more delicious and entertaining. In our latest episode, Jeanie Buss — the daughter with the business mind and the posed-for-Playboy body, who is dating the head coach of daddy’s franchise — told ESPNLosAngeles that Phil Jackson is going to coach next season. Whether that’s with the Lakers….

Phillip Barnett