From Silver Screen and Roll: I’m man enough to admit it. I did not see that coming. My thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s ability (or lack thereof) to compete with the Lakers over a 7 game series are well known. Those thoughts have been proven correct. The Jazz lacked the necessary tools to defeat the Lakers. They just don’t have enough … not enough height, not enough defense, not enough offensive threats, not enough healthy contributors. They maximize what they have, but even that maximum was never going to derail the champs.
From Land O’ Lakers: Perhaps the toughest thing for players, fans, and media alike during the playoffs is to avoid becoming a prisoner of the moment. Teams can fluctuate wildly, strengths and weaknesses often masked by matchups and the sort of performance blips able to alter the course of a series. They can look incredibly vulnerable one moment, then hoist a Larry O’Brien the next (see Celtics, Boston 2007-08), or look totally dominant but then fall short (see Lakers, Los Angeles 2007-08). All the while, infinite definitive and declarative statements are made crowning or burying a squad.
From Land O’ Lakers: It’s one of the most iconic moments in NBA Playoff lore, let alone Lakers history. On May 16, 1980, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar laid up with an ankle injury and Spencer Haywood suspended, Magic Johnson was asked to take the opening jump at center in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. Magic went on to play every position on the floor. He scored 42 points, snagged 15 boards, and handed out seven assists. Dude was flat out incredible as the Lakers downed the Sixers 123-107 and clinched a title.
From Lakers Edge: Andrew Bynum, injury-prone? Kobe, third in the MVP voting… Pau Gasol loves sushi. An unloaded AK-47 to start the series. Look-a-likes: Fesenko & Sulley from Monsters, Inc. Kobe acting tough after the White photo shoot. The return of the Killer Crossover. D-Will does. I wonder if someone will choke Wesley Matthews like Xavier McDaniels did to his daddy. Kobe shooshing through traffic like a Swiffer. Lamar Odashian, now that’s clever. Jerry Sloan still looks like one tough dude. More Laker Girls.
From Valley of the Suns: For the first time since 2006 the Phoenix Suns are in the Western Conference Finals, but there is no sense of accomplishment yet with this veteran-led group. The NBA Finals is obviously the goal, but a man named Kobe, a Zen Master and a few seven-footers stand in the way. Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said it all season long — the Western Conference goes through Los Angeles. The Suns knew that if they wanted a taste of the NBA Finals they would have to dethrone the champs, and they will have their chance come Monday.
From Bright Side of the Sun: I am slowly working my way through the last couple of Lakers games and digging into the numbers. I will have more on that later in the week. Probably with charts and maybe even a graphs. Joy!I will say this, though: I am getting more confident and not less as I get more into the research. I am not the slightest bit impressed with the Lakers sweep over the Jazz.
From the Los Angeles Times: Kobe Bryant narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips during Monday night’s postgame news conference. His demeanor had shifted suddenly, from excitement after the Lakers’ 4-0 sweep of the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals, to disdain, his jaw taut, as Bryant reflected on the Lakers’ past playoff failures against the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers lost first-round playoff series to the Suns in 2006 and 2007, something Lamar Odom also brought up after Monday night’s 111-96 victory over the Jazz. “They took us out two years in a row,” Odom said. “Yeah, I don’t forget.”
From the Los Angeles Times: What kept you? Meet the Lakers, the team no one wants to play… now. The sky not only didn’t fall in Lakerdom — although, I’m serious, a little piece hit me on the head — there’s no longer even a cloud in sight. Not that things change fast, but it’s just two weeks since Game 5 in the first round when Kobe Bryant asked why there was so much gloom and doom with the Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder tied, 2-2.
From the OC Register: The Lakers played the Phoenix Suns once after the NBA trade deadline passed — when the Suns had gotten comfortably settled in with no more concerns about Amar’e Stoudemire getting shipped out. That March 12 game in Phoenix was a good one, with the Lakers rallying from a seven-point deficit to take a seven-point lead entering halftime – then the Suns pushing the other way for an 82-81 lead before the Lakers responded with a 14-2 run. The Lakers held on to win, 102-96.
From NBC Sports: Let’s see if you’ve heard this one before: The Lakers come out early in the playoffs looking flat, uninterested and vulnerable. The Lakers slowly begin to gain momentum throughout May. Then, when June comes around, the Lakers are playing their best basketball, looking championship-ready and easily erasing the sky-is-falling impulses that surrounded the team early on.
From the Sports Guy: I broke a personal record last week: four playoff games in four nights, in Los Angeles (Game 2, Lakers-Jazz), Phoenix (Game 2, Suns-Spurs), Orlando (Game 2, Magic-Hawks) and Boston (Game 3, Celtics-Cavaliers). Intending to write a recap on Saturday morning’s plane ride from Boston to Los Angeles, I ended up getting sidetracked by the in-flight movie — “Extraordinary Measures” with Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser — and only finished half the column. That led to this exchange when I arrived home:
From ESPN.com: With last night’s 111-96 beatdown of the Utah Jazz, the Lakers put to bed any concerns about extreme vulnerability created by a tough first round against Oklahoma City. A sweep will do that for a team’s image. But if brooming an opponent reinforces a defending champion squad’s credentials, it’s only fair the same respect be accorded to a challenger following suit.