Making The Mental Adjustments

Darius Soriano —  May 24, 2010

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The Phoenix Suns deserve credit for their game 3 win.  They made the adjustments that made the difference in the outcome of the game.  Their coaches put in the plans and the players executed them to a tee.  On offense that meant more attacking.  In the Suns’ P&R sets, Nash abandoned the probing style he often uses and instead made quick hitting, pin-point passes to roll men who made aggressive moves after catching the ball in stride.  In their other sets, they went to isolation plays for their big men where Amar’e and Lopez attacked our bigs off the dribble in a decisive manner that made helping and rotating difficult (and where, to the Suns’ credit, the shots were knocked down).  And on defense, they went to a zone that was effective for long stretches and made scoring the ball just a bit more difficult for the Lakers than it had been in the first two games (which was all the difference the Suns needed considering the high octane nature of their offense).

That said, as much as the Suns deserve credit, the Lakers deserve blame.  And loads of it.  Not every player that saw game action played poorly, but most did.  And while we saw Kobe, Fisher, and Gasol put up wonderful stat lines and display their fierce competitiveness, this team – as a unit – did not play smart basketball and it cost them the chance to win this game.

As Phillip detailed in his excellent recap of the contest, the Lakers committed too many turnovers and didn’t attack the Suns’ zone with a consistent approach that would have broken the defense down.  In the 2nd and 4th quarters, the Lakers were all too content to swing the ball around the perimeter and settle for a low percentage long jumpshot  that rarely saw the bottom of the net.  When the Lakers did try to break down the Suns’ zone with passes into the creases, they went for the home run pass through three defenders that often got deflected and stolen.  Again, the Lakers didn’t play smart basketball and it cost them.

Rarely do I rip into the players, but in this instance I was very dissappointed with the approach that they took when the game was on the line and winning was a real option.  Instead of continuing to play the style of basketball that led to a 37 point third quarter, the Lakers got lazy in the final frame and did the least amount of work possible while still hoping for the most rewards imaginable.  Gone was the incorporation of the high post flash and with cutters moving along the baseline.  Gone was the penetrating into the seams of the zone where the defense was forced to collapse and help.  Instead, the Lakers settlled for what was easy rather than doing the extra work required to succeed.  This is not a winning formula and we saw the results of that as the Lakers saw their 8 game winning streak taken out with the trash. 

So now, the Lakers need to make the mental adjustments  that will win them the games needed to advance to the Finals.  Now is the time for the Lakers to get back to thinking the game for a full 48 minutes rather than relying on their physical advantages to win them games.  That means more patience on offense where players move into open space to make themselves available to receive passes (and then the players with the ball, delivering the ball to that open player).  It means less settling for jumpers and more attacking the Suns individual defenders within their zone scheme.  It means playing fundamentally sound defense against players and knowing the scouting report in order to make players go to their weaknesses.  And it means less reaching, hacking, and grabbing that lead to the parade to the FT line that we witnessed in game 3.  Without this type of commitment to playing smart basketball, the Lakers will find themselves in another dog fight in the next game (and in every subsequent game too). 

Over the course of the last 6 quarters of basketball, I’ve seen a shift in the mentality of the Lakers that I have not liked.  Save for the first half of the 4th quarter in game two, the Lakers have morphed from the defensive focussed team that controlled the OKC and Utah series to a team that was more offensive in its mindset and content with outscoring the opponent in front of them.  Granted, I understand where that mentality could come from as the Suns have offered little resistance on defense in this series.  However, when the going got tough and the Suns zone was showing them looks that were not familiar; where a simple dump down to Gasol or a Kobe isolation play would not work, the Lakers got frustrated and settled.  The mental sharpness that won them 8 games in a row was gone.  I’m not trying to say that this series is now tilted back in the Suns favor, but if there’s a repeat of the game 3 effort tomorrow night, that idea won’t be far fetched.  So, all I ask for is a return of smart, focussed play.  A return to the fundamental principles that have gotten this team as far as it has.  If those things happen, I’ll live with the results – win or lose.   I’m going to leave the last word for Kelly Dwyer, who really summed up the way I feel in a few excellently crafted sentences:

“The choice is Los Angeles. Yes, this was the perfect game for Phoenix, but it can come pretty close to this in Game 4, and pretty close to it again in Game 5 if the bench starts hitting. As it’s been all year, this is on Los Angeles.

Do they show a bit of patience, and run that offense? Or do they go for the quick kill, the home run, the easy way out? They can win with the quick kill, swinging for those fences. The team is good enough to pull it off.

But they can really make their lives a lot simpler if they do it the right way. The way they know, more than any other team in this league, that gives them the easiest and quickest way to win.”

Darius Soriano

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51 responses to Making The Mental Adjustments

  1. If you think the Refs are two-faced outside of L.A. here’s some proof!

    http://vensingray.blogspot.com/2010/05/whistleblowers-lost-outside-of-la.html

  2. Yes Vensin,that’s what I am talking about.Numbers do not lie.I hope next Boston series will not be like 2008 where whistlers went amok against us.

  3. I haven’t read the previous thread, so I don’t know what has been said. While watching the game I became extremely frustrated with how the Lakers were just settling and weren’t even communicating much on defense (what defense?). I turned off the game at the 3 min mark of the 4th qtr and haven’t come back to anything until looking at this thread a few minutes ago.

    There are lots of people I could comment about, but two jump immediately to mind — Pau and Lamar.

    Pau, your pass first mentality is too predictable and your inability to anticipate that Amare was going to his right was disturbing.

    Lamar – you demonstrated why you are so often described as being the scarecrow, i.e. having no brains. You are all reactions and your offensive fouls and defensive lapses made it a joy when you finally fouled out of the game. Too bad Ron-Ron decided to put up another awful 3ptr just after you left.

  4. Vensin Gray,
    Read your piece and you have a point, however…

    When the Lakers lose it is often because they become somewhat passive on offense and they jump into people on defense (Lamar and Andrew).

    The Laker’s passivity against the Suns zone and the Suns aggressive, attacking style seem to be the exact thing to get the Lakers to readjust their game. I don’t really understand why the Lakers seem so weak-minded, but this offense-defense reaction would go a long way to creating a FT disparity.

    When the Lakers are good they are very, very good; but when they are bad, they are horrid.

  5. I think the loss was the best thing that could happen to a championship-seeking Lakers team.

    Crazy, no? Wouldn’t it have been better if the Sun’s rolled over, continued to play matador defense, and let the Lakers out score them once again, on route to a sweep?

    Had the Lakers rolled into the finals against Boston by outscoring the Sun’s while giving up close to 50% shooting, they would have not been sufficiently prepared for the Celtic’s intensity.

    The Sun’s defense was a disaster in games 1 and 2, with no consistency and focus. Luckily for the Lakers, the Sun’s zone was so effective, that we just might see 48 minutes of it in game 4.

    The Sun’s zone defense is the closest facsimile that the Lakers will now face to the Thibodeau strong side zone defense. Have you seen Boston’s swarming quasi-zone against Orlando?

    The Lakers have an opportunity to practice sharpening up their passing for now at least two more games in a game situtation. They are going to have to be crisp and precise to score against Boston.

    But it is on defense that this “practice” will matter. Practice stopping Nash’s penetration because Rondo is twice as fast. If you can stop Amare’s slip of the screen roll, Big Baby’s slip should be easy to stop.

    We are also thankful for Robin Lopez’s big body to help us practice banging against Kendrick Perkins. If Bynum can’t hold his own against Lopez, how will he fare against the dour Perkins?

    The Celtic’s bread and butter sequence has Ray Allen curling around a down screen who then drops it off to a cutting big man (say KG) who then finds the other big man off a weak side cut. This play challenges your ability to fight through screens, show hard and get back, and rotate smartly.

    The Sun’s don’t run this exact set but the key to defending the Celtics and the Suns is the same; fight through the pick, get back from the show, and rotate quickly.

    The Lakers have not got this defense right except for a short stretch in the 4th quarter of game 2. They have a great opportunity to learn in the next 2 games.

    They’d better or else the finals will be a rude awakening. And f they don’t learn, they don’t deserve to go.

  6. 5–Bill: Yes, this could be a good thing, if it develops that killer instinct. But they better develop it fast, because Boston is looking like a Juggernaut, breaking wills and pillaging and looting entire cities.

  7. Funky Chicken May 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Darius, as usual, is spot on. Those who decry the referees are, as usual, wrong. If you watched this game and still can’t figure out the FT discrepancy, then you aren’t much of a basketball fan.

    The Suns outhustled the Lakers in virtually every phase. Amare took it to the Lakers front line, and drew fouls. In fact, the most egregious non-calls were those not called against the Lakers when Amare should have gotten “and ones”.

    Fans of this Lakers team should not be surprised. This group rarely puts forth maximum effort for 4 straight quarters. The team was a on a nice run against OKC and Utah, but one element was missing in all of the games against Phoenix. Defense. The Lakers gave up 118 points last night. How does this happen on a night that the Phoenix bench gave them virtually nothing?

    Really, the idea that Phoenix played a “perfect” game is crazy. You cannot reasonably expect the Suns bench to play this poorly at home in game 4. While Amare might not get 41, one can easily imagine a 25+ night from him in game 4, and if just one (much less 3 or 4) Suns bench players play “normal”, and if Phoenix hits just a couple more 3 pointers, the Lakers are looking at giving up 130 points tomorrow.

    This loss was not about the referees or the Phoenix zone. This loss was about the Lakers giving up 118 points to a team that got nothing from its bench. That’s scary.

  8. Cookie Monster May 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I hate being a grammar/ typo policeman… but in the beginning of the article you wrote : “The Phoenix Suns deserve credit for their game 2 win. ”

    Please change it to “game 3″, thanks!

    Cookie

  9. Can someone get Kobe’s dad a plane ticket to Phoenix for Game 4? I think it’s obvious what was missing last night.

  10. I wonder if foul calls are a reason the team stops taking the ball to the hole. While the lakers were taking too many jump shots, i wonder if that is because they weren’t getting calls at the bucket and decided to stop attacking.

  11. Phil has never performed well against the zone which is strange because he has had a lot of talent. The Lakers did miss a lot of open shots but they also turned the ball over because they were trying to force the ball inside. Sometimes you need to be able to just make outside shots. You start by getting the ball inside or by trying to get the ball inside… but if you can’t you need to shoot well from the outside.

    7,
    This loss was about the zone. The Lakers defense played well holding the Suns to a bad FG%. The problem was turnovers against the zone defense.

    9,
    Its hard to take the ball to the basket against a zone

  12. this is fresh from the chris sheridan chat:

    Comment From Sagar Sagar: ]
    Why do you see the Suns winning? The Lakers blew out the Suns both Games 1 and 2 and built 20 pt leads. The Suns won a game that was close until the final minutes in a must-win back to the wall game at home. You picking Suns in 7 based on any reasoned logic or you are just rooting for them?
    Monday May 24, 2010 6:12 Sagar
    6:14

    Chris Sheridan:
    Reasoned logic. They are deeper, they have the smarts to play an intelligent Game 7 (unlike the rockets did a year ago at staples in the second round when Artest shot them out of Game 7 in the space of about five minutes), and the Lakers may have already exhausted their supply of charmed victories (Game 4 at OKC, Game 3 at SA) that should have been losses.

    LOVE IT! just because the game was tight the lakers should´ve lost :). sheridan and hollinger are like an old couple that hates something and tries to come up with stupid reasons to keep it going. this series will be over in 5 and then these “experts” will predict boston in 5 or 6 over our guys… just amazing

  13. Without disparaging the Vensin piece too badly, we attacked the officiating issue a little more methoidically, and with as little agenda as possible.

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2010/5/24/1485640/if-you-want-to-beat-the-los#storyjump

  14. The Lakers gave up 118 points last night. How does this happen on a night that the Phoenix bench gave them virtually nothing?

    Not a referee complaint, but 38 free throws made will do that to you.

    The Lakers had a supremely bad defensive outing against the Suns starters. If you’re going to say that the Suns bench won’t stay that bad, you have to ask whether the Lakers starters will stay that bad.

    The problem with early fouls is that it takes players out of the game. Bynum couldn’t rotate fast enough and got his early 2. Odom is in sooner than expected, and suddenly he’s in foul trouble too, some deserved and – I’m sorry – some not.

    When going hard at the basket a few times didn’t get LO any calls, his mental game went out of the window, and that’s all she wrote.

    My guess is that next game we won’t see 4-14 from LO with him missing gimmies at the rim. I think you’re going to see a pissed off Odom gunning for the rim. If he can stay in control and not make the horrid charges we seem him commit sometimes, the Suns are going to be in trouble.

    I’d be more surprised to see that than to see another 4-13 from Artest.

  15. #8. Thanks, I fixed it. My editors are now fired. ;)

  16. Funky Chicken May 24, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Aaron, with all due respect, if you give up 118 points in a conference final, you lost because of your defense. And if you give up 118 points you cannot reasonably claim to have played “well” on defense, even if the other team’s shooting percentage wasn’t terrific (although 48% doesn’t really say “lock down” to me).

  17. Incidentally, the Lakers have had something else going against them in all 3 losses this post-season: I’ve Tivoed all 3 of those games while watching them.

    I haven’t Tivoed any other games this post-season because I’ve been watching them live or just forgotten.

    I meant to Tivo game 1 of the Phoenix series and just forgot to.

    So obviously the Lakers will win game 4 because I’ll be watching that game live in a bar in DTLA, with my Tivo shut down for the night. ;)

  18. thank you for telling me matt. i will now put a lot of money on our guys and just in case they lose… can you tell me which bar it is, that you like to visit for watching games ;)?

  19. Matt R.
    “…his mental game went out of the window…” Lamar is not dependable, and he gets really frustrated when things do not go the way he expects – see his frequent charging calls.

    I think we will see something different in game #4 because the team, read Lamar, will practice against a 2-3 zone and that will be what he will expect.

  20. can’t wait till tomorrow night. lakers should show up better prepared. not panicking but lakers can’t coast to victory. Looking forward to more crisp passing and passionate rebounding. However, the biggest flaw of last night seemed to be the mental game. Shannon Brown and Lamar were making silly plays that drew a frown from this fan.

  21. Bill B beat me to the point I was going to make. I think the Lakers need adversity and teams to stand up to them. They can win so many games on talent alone that they tend to get distracted and then will a team really pushes them they are not ready for the fight. They need a challenge to get them primed for the Finals. Denver did that last year.

  22. The refs will call what they call. What I always find irritating and somewhat amusing is there’s never a big outcry when the Lakers are on the end of such a disparity. Especially when the game is relatively close and a lesser disparity would have helped.

    Instead its Laker fans looking for an excuse and a bunch of bs.

    But when Lakers have a FT advantage even a somewhat small advantage of only 5-7 attempts and the other team loses, it’s all about a conspiracy. How the Lakers get handed their wins by Stern.

    Just tired of it.

  23. The single most frustrating part of our loss is that, we were actually able to win it despite everything that went wrong.

    We were in the game up until the last few minutes or so, but we did what we always do – turn the ball over, force a 3 and give up silly fouls.

    This is painfully obvious to somebody who follows via gamecast and sees the game afterwards – it’s almost as if I’m prescient, you can call plays knowing the score difference and the time left on the clock.

    I can’t imagine how clearer it must be to those who actually scout us, making us a no-threat once you go up by 6 or 8 with 8 minutes to go.

    But still, I had us winning in five, and as brilliantly Kobe played statistically, we’re much more likely to make up for his return to the mean with Lamar, Artest and Bynum returning to theirs.

  24. I’m glad most everyone agrees in here that jacking 32 three-point shots and only making 9 of them is not a sign of being aggressive, hence the free throw disparity.

  25. Wow…CA Clarke. Good article. You should take it a step further and make the regular season comparison.

    I’d be curious to know what the Laker’s regular season discrepancy between home and away free throw attempts awarded.

    I’m guessing it’s not a negative 16.

    I love all these posters burying their heads deep in the sand and screaming,

    “Those who decry the referees are, as usual, wrong. If you watched this game and still can’t figure out the FT discrepancy, then you aren’t much of a basketball fan.”

    You can look up the sky and try to convince me that it’s red all you want. You can use stats and subjective analysis all you want (the sky was more “aggressive?”).

    The sky is still blue, sorry.

    The Lakers were just as aggressive as the Suns, for the most part. They just weren’t getting any calls.

    By the way, it’s close-minded to only look at LA’s 32 three point attempts. The Suns shot a ton of three pointers, too. And jump shots. Check the shot chart. The Lakers actually had more attempts in the paint than the Suns…yet, they shot 22 less free throws?

    As a final note, everyone says Tim Donaughy is a liar, a weasel, an attention hog, and a moron.

    They said the same stuff about Jose Canseco when he first started talking about steroids.

    How’d that turn out?

  26. Funky Chicken,
    With all due respect…. the game is not played in a vacuum. The Lakers held the Suns to 46& shooting their lowest of the series). Phoenix scored so many points mainly due to 17 Laker turnovers (an offensive problem).

  27. We were still in the game until the very end. Then I remember the following sequence of events occuring over and over and over until the game was over.

    The Lakers go down court, jack up a 3 and miss. The Suns go down court, make a very good percentage 2 point shot.

    Great comment Bill Bridges about this series preparing the Lakers for the Celtics, I hope they learn…

  28. I have to agree with Aaron *barf*.

    Turnovers killed us in the 4th quarter, with 6 of our first 10 possessions in the quarter ending in turnovers. The killer ones were when Artest gave the ball up which led to an open three by Richardson, pushing the Suns lead to 6, then Lamar coming down and bowling into Amare on the very next possession. Then, with 6 minutes to go, our guys chucked up bad shots on four straight possessions, meaning we only used 4 out of the first 14 possessions of the quarter effectively.

    I’m not really buying into the zone hype. What I saw wasn’t a team that was utterly failing to get anything going against the zone; I saw a team that was collectively thinking “eh, I’m kinda open, why don’t I jack up this three?” then doing it.

    The Suns used it to great effect against the second unit, which we all knew was going to work going into this series. But when the 4 decision makers on the floor are Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Ron Artest, and Lamar Odom, you’re bound to get a lot of up-chuckery. I didn’t see the zone being as effective against our starting unit, we just turned the ball over on stupid plays (like Kobe’s errant pass right into the hands of Lopez).

    So long as our guys show more patience and a little more poise, we’ll be fine. The team can’t become unhinged because they’re down by more than 2 possessions and start jacking up threes, because that’s not how this team comes back in games. Pound the ball inside, stop the turnovers, stop the long shots that lead to long rebounds, and we will have a win.

  29. I’ll also be glad this loss happened if it forces the Lakers to step up their focus and play better basketball.

    What I’m more concerned about is Bynum. We don’t need him as much this series, but if we make it to the next one, I hope he’s healthy enough to play.

  30. Buzz Lightyear May 24, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    To paraphrase the immortal words of Dennis Green, “The Lakers are who we THOUGHT they were!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exOxUAntx8I

    All year, they have shown the tendency to mentally ‘check out’ when things are not going well.

    I believe this grew out of all the injuries they had, the Artest/LO sideshows, the Jordan Farmar contract drive, their lack of young energetic players, and a half-dozen other things.

    The result has been that instead of doing the ‘hard’ things (running the offense, working for good shots, delivering hard fouls on defense, rotating to shooters *every* time, etc.), they settle for the easy things (hoisting 3s early in the shot clock, avoiding contact on defense, watching wide open shooters who are ‘too far away’, etc.)

    They seemed to get over the hump against OKC, and Utah didn’t provide enough resistance to test that proposition either way.

    Meanwhile, the Lakers got away with playing ‘easy’ basketball for 7.5 of the 8 quarters in Games 1 & 2.

    But it bit them in the butt in Game 3, and will absolutely kill them if they play that way against Boston.

    Time to ‘man up’ Lakers! Bynum is playing through his sore knee (albeit poorly). The rest of you need to fight your way through the ‘mental fat’ (cf. Bill Russell’s autobiography) that has crept into your games.

  31. Doc Rivers said something before game 1 that resonated with me. To paraphrase, he basically said that the first team to try to find an easy way out, especially when times get tough and it’s time to grind, is going to be the team that is going to lose. If I heard that from my coach, I would instantly think to myself that “he’s been there, he knows” I’ve never heard a statement that was so true.

    With that said, PJ is still the man. I just hope our team can understand the mentality that Doc is fueling his players with and apply it to their next six victories!

  32. Start of overtime, season on the line, and Dwight Howard was talking to two little kids in Celtics uniforms on the sideline… He just doesn’t get it.

  33. @32, he’s had a pretty dominant OT. Maybe talking to the kids helps him focus?

    Celtics don’t quite look like the evil Space Jam team now, do they?

  34. Always nice to see Pierce single-handedly blow a Celtics game

  35. Tyler…I don’t know if I agree. For all we know he could have been engaging in some trash talk. You try to rip the other team’s heart out on the court- but it doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk to a couple little kids who are rooting for the opposing team.

  36. I hope the Celtics can wrap that thing up soon, I am more afraid of Orlando than I am Boston.

    However, the Lakers need to take care of Phoenix before we get too far ahead.

    My prediction: Lakers 4 – 1 over Phoenix.

  37. Anyone hear the rumors out there?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/nba/news/story?id=5216961

    What do you think?

  38. PJ has to be intrigued by the thought of coaching LBJ, in Chicago or elsewhere/anywhere.

    And, of course, rumors like this serve his purposes by applying pressure on his present employer.

  39. Tremble, PJ coaching MJ, Shaq, Kobe and LeBron would make him the godfather of epic proportions. Not that he isn’t already, but the chance to be an integral part of basketball for 2 decades and more would be quite a lure, and he’s not against building burnt bridges, so it wouldn’t really shock me if it happened.

    Still, I don’t think PJ will walk away unless Lakers lowball him, which they will if we don’t win this year. With so many key players locked in place, the apparent worth of coaching may diminish as well, especially since most are versed in the triangle… and can actually score well outside the triangle too.

    But that’s for another day, and right now, I’m glad that Orlando won. The way our players are battered, we need the opposition to be battered too.

  40. can we get Redick as our PG
    that man is awesome

  41. I told you guys yesterday the league can’t afford 2 sweeps. It’s all about money and ratings I don’t care what anybody says. A Boston LA final Is Inevitable but not until the NBA milks the conference finals for everything It’s worth

  42. I have noticed despite being an awesome site here there are very eloquent and subtle looking disguised Laker and Kobe haters utilizing every kind of arsenal in their vocabulary and basketball knowledge.Way to go but why I don’t know.

  43. 42 – huh??

  44. 37. phil to chi has all the hallmarks of an agent-driven story. I work in an agent-driven industry- trust me when I suggest that everyone give a hard look at who benefits from such a ‘leak’ and that phil’s agents have every reason to leverage the bulls against buss and the lakers. the idea is that the bulls will bring in a big name coach to lure lebron to chi– turn this around for a second: do you really think phil would leave the lakers for the bulls without knowing for sure that lebron was coming?

    this is all about phil trying to get more money to stay as LA’s coach. Given that I can’t imagine the Lakers not at least making the Finals again this year, I would be stunned if he ended up coaching another team before he retired.

  45. Just a simple point. If you go back into history LO has had some of his worst games in Phoenix. Remember the one he fouled out in the 2nd quarter?

    On another note do you know that the Phoenix area has the most strip
    bars per population in the NBA.

    Lil Pau-Why do you think Phil retires? From coaching yes but if you don’t think he has a multi-year deal on the table as President of basketball Operations then you don’t know the value of love?

    I’m just saying………………………………….

  46. Can’t blame Phil X for being intrigued. Especially if we try to Low Ball him. Just check out the POSSIBILITIES:

    1. An opportunity to set his own price.

    2. Rose: 6’3″ & Only 21 yrs old. Definitely on the verge (if not already) of being one of the Best Point Guards in the league.

    3. Noah: 6’11″ & Only 25 yrs old. An up and coming Center who competes with Passion/Effort on both ends of the court. Not afraid of the moment & is the type of player that Every Team would Love to have.

    4. LeBron: 6’8″ & Only 25 yrs old AND Bosh: 6’10″ & Only 26 yrs old. Several media reports have LeBron very interested in joining forces with Rose & Noah. There has also been reports within the media about Bosh tagging along with LeBron if LBJ decides on heading to the Bulls. I can recall, during the ’08 Olympics, a reporter asking LeBron if he could choose anyone from that team to play along side with on an NBA roster, and the 1st name he mentioned was Bosh. No wonder there’s been rumblings about the Bulls trying to trade some form of package that would include Deng/Gibson/Hinrich (either in a sign & trade for Bosh or to just free up more cap space).

    5. Lets say, for instance, that they’re (Bulls) able to attain a roster with the 4 aformentioned players (LeBron, Rose, Bosh & Noah). Who in the East would be able to challenge them? Cleveland would be deceased, Atlanta are pretenders, Boston (even while looking good right now) are on their last legs due to the age of their Big 3 and Rasheed (and can’t forget the possibility of them losing Jesus Shuttlesworth to free agency) & Orlando (especially if they’re eliminated by Boston) would be in the midst of some form of re-arrangement to their roster (or coaching staff, for that matter).

    Bottom Line: Phil just letting Lakers management know that they’re going to have to Show Him The Money.

    Just Food For Thought on an off day.

    BTW: As I stated b4 the series started, “Lakers in 5.”

  47. As good as Kobe was in the first half of the game, his shot selection also inexplicably deteriorated in the second half as he went for home runs. I really think the number of 3′s attempted was a big part of the story – both dicey shots on the road, and the fast break points that resulted. Hopefully they get it sorted out.

  48. i also think that this is phil´s way of applying a little pressure. it might be fun to coach lebron, but even if he joins the bulls, the lakers have a better team. phil is all about titles and our team is in prime position to contend for at least another 3 years. after that he can still do whatever he wants, but thats just my point of view.

    as for the upcoming game and the entire series: i think that the team that has more room for error usually wins the series. what we have going for us every single game: rebounding advantage, the suns inability to guard kobe or pau and our defense.

    for the suns to win another game almost everything has to go right. they have to get our bigs in foultrouble, brooke lopez has to keep hitting mid-range shots, amare has to erupt for another monster game and their bench has to finally start playing decent ball.

    and us? we just need to avoid fouls and pound it inside. nothing more and nothing less. just a decent game by lo or artest and we have our 3-1 lead.

    game 4 will be quite interesting, especially since our guys will have the chance to close it out at home if they win and maybe rest until they meet boston. i dont think that boston will steal another one in orlando, so that series will go 6 games and rest has always been a nice motivation, no?

  49. For those of you not following the comments on CA’s statistical analysis of Laker free throws over at SS&R, he had a masterful response to a Suns fan with some interesting theories about how the Lakers can have only a 2 FT advantage per contest at home and a 16 FT disadvantage on the road:

    Players have a Pavlovian response with aggression. Early in the game, each team usually tries to be aggressive. If a team achieves success, either through made shots or fouls, they keep doing it. If, after a few aggressive acts, they don’t get any reward, they start settling for jump shots, because the refs aren’t making the calls. Is it still foolish for players to give up their aggression? Yes. But they do it based on the results (or lack thereof) of early attempts at aggression. The courage you speak of getting at home is the courage to continue to be aggressive even in the face of a lack of results. But to think that players give up on aggression before even giving it a shot seems foolish to me.

    Of course, I think it’s brilliant because CA and I seem to agree fully on this point.

  50. As good as Kobe was in the first half of the game, his shot selection also inexplicably deteriorated in the second half as he went for home runs. I really think the number of 3′s attempted was a big part of the story – both dicey shots on the road, and the fast break points that resulted. Hopefully they get it sorted out.