It’s Now A Best Of Three

Darius Soriano —  June 10, 2010

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If there’s a theme for this series it’s that the team that has executed down the stretch is the one that has earned the victory.  Game 4 proved no different as the Celtics were able to turn in a 36 point final period and take contest 96-89.  They were the sharper team that executed better.  They were the team that made the little plays; the hustle plays that influence the outcome.  Simply put, they earned this win.  So now, the NBA Finals are tied 2-2 and the fight for the championship is a best of three series.

There were several subplots to this game, but I’ll start with what I consider to be the biggest (literally and figuratively).  Andrew Bynum tried to gut it out tonight, but he wasn’t able to really play on his bad wheel.  Bynum played only 12 minutes on the evening and only 2 in the second half after starting the third quarter in the Lakers’ locker room rather than on the court with his other 4 starting mates.  Bynum dragged his leg around like a sleepy toddler does his favorite blanket and while I give him a ton of credit for trying to help his team, he just didn’t have enough mobility to move in the half court to cut off angles on penetration or run the floor in a manner that allowed him to change ends with any real pace.  And without Bynum’s size, this is a different Lakers team – especially against these Celtics.  Boston was able to score well in the lane by getting 54 points in the paint while also winning the battle of boards 41-34, 16 of which were recoveries of their own misses.

The other big story was the battle of the benches, one that the Celtics won handily.  Boston’s reserves outscored their Laker counterparts 36-18, doubling their point production and providing the difference in this game.  Fueled by the darting Nate Robinson and the bruising Big Baby Davis , the C’s bench made the impression on this game and played that hero role that was up for grabs when the game hung in the balance.  And while Robinson’s energy and relentless attacking of the basket was infectious, the player that really deserves credit for tilting this contest in the C’s favor was Davis.  Big Baby scored 18 points on 10 shots, grabbed 5 rebounds (4 offensive), and was just a monster on the interior against whoever stood in his way.  When asked after the game what he felt like, Davis simply said “I felt like a beast.  I felt like I couldn’t be denied.” and truer words could not have been spoken.  He was a beast and he couldn’t be denied.  He used his quick feet, active hands, and wide frame to move bodies out of the way and get to the positions that he wanted to in order to finish inside.  Really, he was the player of the game in my eyes. (On a side note, Big Baby is the exact type of player that gives Odom problems.  I know people want to crush LO right now, and I get it as he’s been below average this series.  But Davis has quick feet, tremendous power, and a low center of gravity.  He’s excellent at creating space, taking it to the chest of players, and is crafty at finishing around the cup.  Davis is just like Craig Smith – and this season you saw what Smith did to Odom in every Lakers/Clippers game.  I’m not defending Odom, but again, this is just a tricky match up for Odom as he’s facing a guy that can defend him decently on the perimeter and one that attacks his willowy frame on the other end.  I think the answer to Davis is Bynum, but alas he didn’t get any run tonight due to the knee.)

And due to the Lakers’ bench lack of production and Odom turning into a de facto starter because of Bynum’s injury, the Lakers really looked tired out there.  I mean, Odom played 39 minutes, Kobe played 43, Pau played 43, and Artest played 42.  That’s a combined 167 minutes for those 4 players and at the end of the game they just didn’t look they had much in the tank to compete with the fresher Celtics that they shared the court with.  At the end of the game where the Lakers needed crisp offensive execution and stops on the defensive end, the Lakers didn’t have the legs to do what was necessary.  Too many times the Lakers stood and watched as Kobe or Pau or Odom went one on 3 against a rotating Celtics defense.  And on the other end the Lakers interior rotations were non existent as flat footed perimeter players got beat off the dribble.  The domino effect of having a man down and ineffective bench players came back to haunt the Lakers late.

The other thing that haunted the Lakers was their inability to take care of the ball.  The Lakers had 14 turnovers in the game (which isn’t a killer number), but too many of those came late in the contest where possessions were precious.  And too many of them were made by Kobe and Pau (11 combined – with 7 of those being on Kobe’s stat line) – the two players you actually want with the ball ultimately making the mistakes that cost this team.  And both of them had turnovers that were especially costly in crunch time as Pau forced a pass to a streaking Kobe (after he had gotten a steal himself) with only 1:37 left on the clock and the Lakers down 6 (ultimately allowing Boston to reset their offense and burn more clock).  And then with only 33 seconds left and the Lakers still trailing by 6, Kobe repayed the favor by jumping to pass to Odom with Rondo then stepping in for the steal and lay up to ice the game.  Again, the Lakers just didn’t execute down the stretch and that was the difference.

Even though I’ve only been focusing on what went wrong, not all was not terrible for the Lakers tonight.  Gasol worked hard on offense and scored 21 points on 13 shots.  He earned 10 trips to the foul line (making 9) and played an excellent inside outside game where he attacked the basket while still stroking a nice mid range jumper.  Pau could have rebounded better, but some of his ineffectiveness on the glass was due to his having to help a lot on dribble penetration as the C’s broke down the Lakers perimeter defense.  Kobe also played well as he found his jumper and was able to hit some of the shots that he’d missed over the past couple of games.  Kobe ended the night with 33 points on 22 shots and grabbed 6 rebounds of his own.  If they could have been a bit better in taking care of the ball, this game could have been different.  But it wasn’t in the cards for them tonight and their strong efforts in the other parts of their game(s) got wasted a bit.

But in the end there were just too many mistakes.  The Lakers didn’t rebound well enough, didn’t take care of the ball, and didn’t execute down the stretch.  They had the lead going into the 4th quarter, but (as I mentioned earlier) gave up 36 points in the 4th quarter and didn’t get enough from their bench to give the starters the rest they’d need to close the game down.  They now get two days off to think about the loss, regroup, and hopefully get Bynum healthy enough to contribute.  I’m surely disappointed that the Lakers didn’t take advantage of their chances and grab that 3-1 lead, but a 2-2 tie is faaar from the end of the world.  And in a series where neither team has won two in a row, I think there are things to feel good about going into game 5.  So, stew on this loss Lakers (and us fans), but don’t fret too much.  Another chance is coming and if this series has taught us anything, the Lakers will be ready to compete and be in the game at the end with a chance to win.

Darius Soriano

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70 responses to It’s Now A Best Of Three

  1. what do u guys think of putting DJ in for 2-3 minute stretches to give pau a break if drew isn’t ready to go? he’s big and works hard on defense, that’s better than luke trying to rebound and defense their 4’s don’t you think?

  2. I was just thinking the same. The Lakers’ countermeasure against Davis could be some good old MBanging…

  3. If we see DJ in there it’s a sign of the apocalypse. I mean, the dude rides the pine for a reason. (Hint: He’s not very good.)

  4. I’ve been bashing Odom all night for his lack of effort. Darius you mentioned that big baby is the type of the player that gives Odom problems and I immediately thought about Craig Smith just as you pointed out. I agree, and you can add Milsap in there as well. But it’s not the quick feet or center of gravity that give odom problems, its the effort those guys bring. Odom does not bring the right effort night in and night out as we all know. Guys like big baby, smith and milsap simply never quit and I truly believe Lamar does. Those guys simply keep coming at you and Lamar can’t handle that. I commented way back when Odom was dominated in the post by Smith and stated how lamar is a bad defender because he doesn’t give the effort and after one bump he throws both hands in the air(although he didn’t particularly do that tonight). I remember the play vividly where Odom was just standing flat footed looking at smith and smith took it right at odom did a spin move and got a lay up. I just couldn’t believe how Odom could be that lazy and can’t bend his knees and put himself in a postion to react.

    Odom makes guys like milsap, smith and big baby look like Hakeem the Dream. Lamar is just a bad defender plain and simple. If you compare the way Kg defends and Lamar defends it would probably be a further separation then if you compared Mark Madsen’s and Tim Duncan’s offensive games. I’ve said this for years, Lamar can’t defend. He can’t anticipate moves, he doesn’t know his opponents strengths or weakness, and he is always extremely slow to react to plays. He’s decent help defender when he gives the effort. But he just can’t defend. I haven’t even mentioned all the screen and rolls lamar got completely lost on (in every series during this post season), or how he failed to contest tony allens lay up in the fourth quarter and just stood under the basket. Or when, Like he did in the Craig Smith example, look at big baby drain a 15 footer from the baseline in his face as Lamar stood erect 2 ft away from him.

    Some are saying well lamar scored some big baskets in the 4th. All his baskets were lay-ups going to his left hand. The celtics will look at the tape and take that away for the rest of the series, guaranteed. If lamar is going to turn it around, it’ll have to start with his energy and effort. I don’t care if he was tired or not, I think he was just lazy. And if he was that tired Phil should have given him a brief rest.

    The lakers defense is just bad when Odom is in the game. They gave up 36 points in the 4th with Odom playing all 12 minutes. That’s not a coincidence. I pray that Bynum can play the rest of the series.

  5. I think most laker fans expected our team to lose this game. It’s not to say that we don’t believe in our team, it’s just that the Celtics were probably not going down without a HUGE fight. I was impressed by how the Lakers played throughout 3 quarters, but in the 4th it went downhill. I think the absence of Bynum really affected everyone in that quarter, and we simply didn’t have enough in the arsenal.

    Also, I think the players really want to close it out at home . I know it is premature, but I can feel it. I think they win game 5, and close it out in 6. I’m really happy though, that the champion will be crowned in LA. There is some extra motivation to win it when you know you have the chance to do it on your home floor as well.

    Lakers in 6.

  6. Man, Bynum’s absense had a huge domino effect, didn’t it?

    I really don’t necessarily think you can “blame” anyone either.

    As Darius said, Big Baby is a bad matchup for Odom, and during the 4th quarter sequence where the Celtics went from 2 down to 8 up the following two things happened:

    1) The Celtics’ fresh legs off the bench beat the dead-legged Laker starters to every loose ball and every rebound.

    2) The refs put away their whistles (unless, of course, it was an “And 1″ in favor the Celtics).

    That’s where the Lakers lost control of the game.

    Look, the Lakers didn’t lose because of the officiating.

    They had a TON of chances to break the game open in the 2nd and 3rd Quarter with the Celtics ice cold from the field, but the Lakers could just never build a lead. Very frustrating to watch.

    Kobe nails three shots in a row, about ready to go supernova…and the team ignores him on the next three possessions in a row.

    Even at the end of the game, the Lakers had their chances, but Kobe and Pau both had critical turnovers when the game was still in reach.

    They should have put the Celtics away in the 3rd.

    If you let a team hang around long enough, it’s your own fault.

  7. Lamar Odom:” We just have to run our offense and have movement especially with Andrew [Bynum] out of the game. We have to move the ball and be quicker. We just can’t stand around and watch. With him [Andrew Bynum] out of the game that’s not our strength. We have to move the ball to be able to get ourselves in offensive rebounding position, get guys open looks, make plays for others.”

    Okay the problem I have with that is that he’s the one walking the ball up court shaving 8+ seconds off the shot clock by the time the offense is initiating. He’s the one standing around the 3 point line not doing anything and not being in position to get rebounds. It’s nice to know that he knows what the problems are, but does he know that he’s the main culprit.

  8. This isn’t about tough match ups. This about Odom giving ZERO effort out there tonight. It wasn’t just the 4th quarter either. From the time he came in the game he was flat footed. There were a couple plays in the first half that let me know what kind of night we were in for from Odom. I haven’t rewatched the game yet, so forgive me, but one was a loose ball that bounced around the freethrow line and Odom casually reached for it while a couple celtics flew by him to pick it up. A second was the fast break produced off a kobe turn over that led to a Rondo clear path. Lamar started to chase him down, but pulled up at about the 3 point line and gave up the chase. He may not have caught him, but he wasn’t even in a position to rebound if Rondo missed and that is unforgivable at this level. The third was a rebound that came off on the far side along the baseline and bounced between Lamar and Artest. Ron started to go for it but saw LO in front of him and pulled back. The ball hit the floor between them and almost went out of bounds before Ron decided to pick it up.

    My problem with Odom has always been the same. He is a guy who wants to win, but doesn’t hate to lose. There’s a HUGE difference between those personalities. Nights like this are a bitter reminder of that fact.

  9. Who here still wants to trade Bynum for Bosh after watching what two good PF’s do against bigger teams?

  10. First person to call Odom out.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AsUPLhFmVR7PUqit5qmumZa8vLYF?slug=dw-odomlakers061010

    The lakers need Odom, and he want to part of being relied on to step his game up. How sad.

  11. After the way he has competed in these playoffs, I’ll take Bynum every day on my team. Let’s hope he feels better with a couple days off. We need him bad.

  12. I know its far from end of the world. But you have to take into the account that Bynum might not be able to provide significant effort/time on the floor, if at all pending his recovery over the next couple of days.

    Given that. The situation becomes a little more worrisome. Bynum was the reason why Rondo (blocked easy lay-ups, alltered shots) and Baby (Being able to body up against him and alter his offensive presence as well as rebounding, second-chance point ability) had limited effectiveness in the beginning of this series. Thats not even taking into consideration the matchup changes between perkins, gasol, garnett will be more challenging and difficult to run our offense. And our offense wasn’t even flowing that well consistently to begin with against this defense.

    I hate to be a pessimist, but things are not looking to good?

    Someone please knock some sense into me and tell me that everything’s going to be alright :P

  13. Well, it was definitely a game we were supposed to lose, so I can’t say I’m surprised or really that upset. However, if Bynum can’t significantly contribute anymore, we’re dead.

  14. OldSchoolLaker June 11, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Chewy…I won’t knock sense into you since you make valid points BUT there are a few things to feel good about here.
    1. Two and a half days to get Bynum’s knee healthy enough to go. The medical staff will do everything possible to get his leg suitable for game 5.
    2. There were some very uncharacteristic turnovers by Kobe and Pau in the 4th. Stats and odds show that won’t happen again in back-to-back games.
    3. Even if Bynum does not play, Phil will use the bench earlier and more often to save some starter energy for the second half. That’s not the answer you want to hear but the bench has something to prove. They were subpar in game 4.
    4. We do have Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Lets not underestimate their heart and guts even without Bynum. The extra day of rest will work wonders for them too.

    Obviously Derek Fisher, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom HAVE to come up big. I’m tired of seeing Fisher pump faking the 3 when he has a good 1.5 seconds being wide open and then after faking his guy dribbles in only to be picked up and the offense breaks down. I want to see Fisher take that open 3 like he’s back at Staples.
    Even if we lose game 5, we are back at Staples to make history.

  15. gasol had the ball and made a ‘lame’ pass and it got stolen. we could have cut the lead to 4 with a minute 2go. it’s a euro thing. Kobe thro’s a pass to the top of the key whilst under the hoop. it gets stolen and rondo lay ups left handed no prob. big baby beat us and like i said or like H’e said…. “so be it”. No Brynum is worry time. We were up 8. up 3 @ half, cause gasol blocks a shot and KG hits the momentum switch. Lakers ‘never’ have any one who can cover a fast small guard. Always bean a problema ( nat robinson). Like I said, stop ray and if big baby beats ya’. We can live with that.. more power to big baybee if he can get the calls in lala land. Somethin’ tells me Kobe gets the call “pierce charge’ in L>A>. Phil does his wrong guru deal and doesn’t STOP the obvious. zaza yinyang stuff.
    sacha played like he didn’t want to make a mistake.
    big baby beat us.. will…. will rogers will smith annie oakley… no brynum is a problema.. how many times is kobe a gonna be out of place @ defense. put mjbenga on big baybee for 2.47minutes and get a couple of fouls. Put some meat on boston or we r toast and no one of u brains out there are gonna be talkin’ bout fish hangin up next to wilt / magic / alcindor / west –
    does artest/ phil even ‘know’ … that paul pierce is a gonna dribble and stop @ right of foul line and swish the jumper so sweet. The brother can shoot, what does artest do ? It was like the lakers all went to the medical mj place and got feelin’ good b4 the game. It was like a mental pause / epilesy. nice pass pau .. nice pass kobe. smart.. real smart. hey phil. employ me and i’ll be the guy who lets u know when 2 call a time out, cause the guys on tv are talkin’ bout, anything, but the game. AND CHICK was bizzie callin’ the play by play. Big baby said it was ‘all will’. put me in ur will phil, I’ll learn ya. btw: Knicks beat wilt / west / baylor lakers with willis reeds will, back in the day when the oil dint spill and the tonkin mf was king. go lakers. lakers in 6. ps: dress adam morrison

  16. Nick Van Sexel June 11, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Good points by all, but what really glared out to me in this game was Kobe’s turnovers. Don’t get me wrong, his shots kept us in the game, but his turnovers effectively killed any momentum the Lakers had and gave the Celtics opportunities to cash in.

    Also, is it me or is Big Baby’s game extremely ugly? He gets it done, but damn those throw your body into the defender two-handed lay-ups make me sick.

    Lakers in 6.

  17. Nick Van Sexel June 11, 2010 at 1:36 am

    To me, true centers with skill are hard to find, so I like Bynum over Bosh. Having said that, if Bynum suffers another severe leg injury, I will reconsider that option.

    And all the Celtic players need to calm the F* down with their over-the-top emotional outbursts. It’s irritating to watch.

  18. Rick Fox is dating Eliza Dushku? Since when?? Why has no one told me?! I’m not sure whether to be wildly jealous or happy that it’s a former Laker.

    Yeah Fisher’s been real hesitant on the 3. I guess the coaches have been pounding the idea that we need to shoot less from outside and drive the ball, which I appreciate. And Derek hasn’t shot too well in this series overall, so I like the restraint. But I wouldn’t mind him taking to see if he can find the stroke, because a few timely threes could change the complexion and momentum of a game.

  19. I believe it was albert einstein who said something to the effect of: insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If Bynum cannot play effective minutes, we suffer from the same weak inside play — lack of physicality, rebounding and defense — by Gasol/Odom (especially Lamar) that we did in 2008. And, unfortunately, we likely will endure the same unbearable results.

  20. DJ Benga can replace Bynum for the meantime, he’s good in blocking shots and rebounding as well. Good choice subtituting Sasha for fisher because he guard allen well. Bench must step up to help the starters to rest and regain the needed energy to beat the C’s. Good game, steal game 4 and go home to win the title at Staple Center. Go Lakers!

  21. Watching the game I was confused and frustrated at all the missed oppertunites down tte stretch. Kobe and Fisher misses the two extra FTs, turnovers and missed rebounds.

    But looking at the minutes played, and how the Celtics just kept coming at our starters it starts making sense.

    Abbot has a great vid-post up about the Wallace-Gasol matchup, showing how hard those two are banging all game: http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/16642/wrestlemania-pau-gasol-vs-rasheed-wallace

    No surprise if Gasol is a tad slower at the end of the game. Same goes for the rest of the starters. This game could easily have tipped anoher way, but Celtics got a bunch of hustle plays and that might be the result of their fresh legs of the bench getting into a groove against our Bynumless, tired group.

  22. Just have to add a little bit on Big Baby. Just wow, he was killing the Lakers late in that game.

    He has impressive footspeed, but I noticed that last two games that if you can get him moving one direction, the momentum of all that body is hard for him to stop or change direction. If Big Baby picks up Odom early, or just at the threepoint line, a hard baseline drive and a crossover could provide a little comic relief as the big fella´s feet would try to follow Odom, while the rest of the freight train continues out of bounce.

    The key is to get Davis moving at a higher pace, covering longer distances. If he is just reacting, sidestepping, then he is fast enough to hang with Odom.

  23. I would rather see DJ Mbenga start each half and play 6-8 minutes to start the game against Kendrick Perkins (assuming Bynum isn’t able to play) rather than Glen Davis. Perk is less of an offensive threat and his lack of a jumper allows DJ to spend more time around the rim defensively. I think he’d give better minutes against Perk.

    If looking for a different matchup against Glen Davis, my first choice would be Josh Powell. I think in terms of his athletic attributes and high effort, Powell is the best man to go head-to-head with BBD for a few minutes to give Odom a breather.

    Odom had his bell rung by Davis last night (and hasn’t managed to outplay him on the series in general) but I would still go with him as my first choice against Davis. His rebounding hasn’t been there but I trust Odom to step up and deliver that + solid team defense even if he fails to be an offensive contributor and is inconsistent in man-to-man defense against Davis. I think those contributions will likely be more valuable than what Powell/Mbenga can bring to the table.

    So I’d still use Odom as the main matchup (vs Davis) and Powell to give Odom a short breather (vs Davis), or, Mbenga to start the halves where I think he’s a better more likely to make a (relatively) positive contribution.

  24. The C’s have the Big 3 and Rondo with Perkins limiting the starters. Wallace and Nate can come off the bench and hurt or help but bring size/experience and energy, respectively. Baby brings effort and handles the garbage.

    For the Lakers, Pau, Bynum, and Kobe can match the Big 3. Fisher can have his ups and downs, but Rondo hasn’t been dominant, so he can keep that matchup close. Artest is filling the Perkins roll offensive anchor.

    With Bynum out, Lamar has to be part of the Big 3, and he can’t do that consistently. With him on the bench, the Lakers have no one that can deliver like the 2.5 coming off the C’s bench. Shannon and Farmar are equals to Tony Allen, not Wallace/Baby/Nate. That is scary going forward.

    When the refs loosened up, it was bad news for the Lakers. The C’s were hitting at everything, resulting in lots of loose balls and hacks underneath where their effort and deeper bench could take advantage.

    Rondo killed the game with stopping what would’ve been a Kobe layup on Pau’s sling pass and his anticipation steal and layup on Kobe. Add in the two missed technicals and the game comes down to the last shot instead.

    Somehow, the Lakers blew the lead with 5 minutes to go at home for one loss and wore out at the end of this game for the loss. They could’ve won all four games. The Celtics had no chance in Game 1 and, though they fought hard in Game 3, couldn’t ever get in front.

    The Lakers have to regret blowing those chances while they had Bynum and now face the daunting task of possibly playing 5 quality guys vs 7/8 for the Celtics. The extra day off before Game 5 has to be taken advantage of.

  25. 8, if it’s one-legged Bynum for two-legged Bosh, I’d take two-legged Bosh. And Bynum has yet to prove that he can play a full season with two legs intact. I completely agree that when healthy, Bynum is absolutely the better choice. He’s cheaper and he fills our needs much better than Bosh. But if he’s not going to even be 50% every postseason, we have a problem.

    I hate to say it because the guy has been a warrior, going out playing hurt and really dominating this series over stretches. We can only hope that Bynum recovers enough to play 25-30 minutes in Game 5, because otherwise it’s 1 day’s rest between games from there on out.

    I’d like to add what I said in previous thread that if Odom just lays off Big Baby and makes him a jump shooter, all of Odom’s problems go away. Big Baby is a catch-and-shooter; he’s not a catch-and-hold-and-shooter. If Odom just backs off 2-3 feet, he can cut off Big Baby’s drives and still semi-contest his jump shot because Big Baby just cannot rise as high as a guy like KG. The one jumper Big Baby took yesterday he clanked, so we’ve gotta make him start hitting that shot. If he starts burning us from 10-15 feet, only then should we make a change.

    Credit Big Baby; he’s got an amazing skill set for a guy his size. He has nice touch around the rim and a real sense for the ball on the offensive glass. But he’s not KG, and the only reason he’s beating us is because we’re playing into his game. If he starts shooting jump shots, not only does it force him to make harder plays, but it also keeps him off the offensive glass.

    Lastly, Artest has to do a much better jump on pick and rolls. He got burned 6-7 times in the 1st quarter alone on a simple PNR action because he couldn’t recover from the screen quick enough. For all his savvy as a 1-1 defender, he just wasn’t fighting through the screens the way Fish or Kobe do. If he’s going to contain Pierce, he needs to fight harder, simple as that.

  26. Nobody showed up to play except for Kobe and Pau (for three quarters) last night. Neither team played well and the Lakers got outworked at the end of the game. Seeing Glen Davis rebound and score over Pau Gasol made me sick.

    Lamar didn’t show up again (I’m just about done with him). Ron didn’t even play defense well (let alone the bricks he put up). Fisher was tired and Pau puttered out in the 4th. Also, the bench was as ugly as it gets; they can’t not turn the ball over. It’s weird to see the box score though because all of them shot the ball ok for as ugly as their offense looked out there.

    I’ve heard people mention “Kobe Island” in the context of him shooting too much. Last night was an example of Kobe being on an island all by himself in the effort/drive department. It was like he was the only one who knew the magnitude of taking Game 4 on the road.

    I guess for the rest of this team they only feel they need to show up when it’s a “must win” game. Even in Game 2 they could have won it by just going harder at the glass. Just watching these games is exhausting me.

    I think they needed 50 from Kobe to win last night. Everyone else took the night off.

  27. Zephid,

    Bynum has shown why you can’t get rid of him and why it’s hard to rely on him during the same games. This is 3 straight finals, 15 games, and he’s been reliable for 3 of them (the 1st three of this series).

    No one can match the Lakers ceiling, but when Kobe and Pau are consistent and no one knows what will come from Bynum and his health, LO and his up-and-down game, and Artest and his Artest-ness.

    I’m an LSU alum in Baton Rouge, and I think you’re assessment of Baby was right on. He was at his best playing off others and doing what he does now. When he was the focal point trying to show the NBA that he could shoot outside and start his offense from the perimeter, he was much less effective.

  28. -Zephid

    Couldn’t agree with you more on pretty much all those points. Bynum is awesome when he’s healthy, but how often is he healthy? Can we depend on him for a full season and playoffs? Bosh would add an interesting wrinkle to Phil’s triangle. If you think about it almost all of his teams have had a PF that could step out to 20 feet and hit a jumpshot. What would it be like to have a center that’s good out to 18 and a PF good out to 20…

    You’re absolutely right about LO laying off of Big Baby. He needs to make him a jump shooter and not allow him to turn his shoulder when he drives. He’s tough when he gets his body on you.

    On the Artest match-up with PP though I’m not sure what he can do getting screened like he is. If he goes over the top then Pierce will get into the lane everytime and if he goes under then Pierce will shoot a wide open jumper. If odom is in the game then the best option is just to switch and roll the dice against Big Baby posting up Artest. Switch it if it’s Gasol as well. But if Bynum is in the game just have Bynum jump out on Pierce hard to give Artest time to recover.

  29. I think that MBenga needs to get some serious time agains Perkins if Bynum can’t play. While Lamar is better than MBenga, for match-up purposes MBenga should get more time. Gasol is just too soft to battle with Perkins (he was in 2008 and nothing has changed). Banging with Perkins and Wallace takes its tole physically and appeared to leave Gasol exhausted in the 4th which hurt us on defense, particularly rebounding. Odom also doesn’ have any favorable match-up. Garnett is longer and just as athletic and he has owned Lamar (see 2008 for example). I would have tought that he had a favorable match-up against the much shorter Davis who can’t jump but I completely forgot that Odom is allergic to effort and Davis gives every ounce of effort he has.

    The Lakers really need to ensure Gasol doesn’t play much againt Perkins and MBenga may be the only answer.

  30. I can’t believe people are discussing the use of DJ as if it’s a viable option. That’s more frightenting than the prospect of not having Bynum available!

    Even if the dude could play basketball (he can’t), how many seconds would it take before he fouls out? In The Finals? After playing for about 5 minutes lifetime aginast the C’s? (Not lying; I looked it up).

  31. Famous creatures of mythology:

    The Minotaur; Bigfoot; Mermaids; the Loch Ness Monster; Unicorns; a Lamar Odom who is consistent.

    Folks, if he played at his theoretical peak all the time he wouldn’t be a Laker; he’d be a max contract guy with an entire team to call his own. Like Tim Duncan, for example.

  32. I know every series is a different creature and you can never take too much from the past, but for those panicking I invite you to review an NBA FInals past:

    Phil Jackson-led team trying to repeat their title which was won in 5 games the year before. Opponent back in the Finals after having been there two years before (except they lost).

    Jackson’s defending champ team has home court advantage.

    Game 1: Defending champ wins by double digits at home, in control the whole way

    Game 2: Home court stolen in a close game, led by challenger most of the game. Defending champs made a push to get it close at the end but faltered down the stretch as challengers pulled it out.

    Game 3: On the road the champs rode a big run in the middle of the game to take a lead, Challengers got within a few points in the 4th but champs pulled it out with clutch play down the stretch.

    Game 4: Challengers trailed at home most of the game but closed with a strong run in the fourth quarter to win by a small margin. Huge scorer for the champs came up empty in the 4th, citing fatigue after too many minutes played.

    EXACTLY LIKE THIS YEAR

    Game 5: Champs blew them out! Then proceeded to win game 6.

    For those who don’t recall, this was 1992, and the teams were Bulls-Blazers.

    I understand that this doesn’t affect this year’s game 5 but it is a precedent for blowing a critical game 4 on the road and turning around to control game 5. Of course those Bulls were a LOT better than those Blazers, whereas the Lakers are in my view only a little better than these Celtics. But it’ s not yet panic time.

    And believe me, if we lose game 5, I’ll just trot out 1988!

    If we lose games 5 and 6… er…. … Yeah I’ll have to think about that :)

  33. The only reason the Celtics won was because our starters were tired. Think about it. We still contained Pierce, shut down Allen, and limited Rondo and KG to mediocracy. That’s good defense! I think our problem has been scoring (other than Kobe). Adjustments I would like to see.

    1. Kobe look for his shot early and often hopefully to give us a sizeable lead. Celtics are not good at playing from behind as it may appear.

    2. Pau take 20 shots. He’s that effecient. But in order for that to happen, he must fight even harder for position and take it to the street!

    3. Fish shoot open 3’s (but not out of order).

    4. Lamar drive it to the hole more often. No player defending him can really D him.

    5. Artest, Please stop the long jumpers that are highly contested. Drive the ball inside.

    6. Phil give Bench more playing time to rest the starters. In fact play Josh and DJ they are paid big checks- let them contribute something to this championship.

    7. If Bynum can play just the first quarter hard and decisive that’s all we need. Lamar will do the rest.

    8. Energy won the game. The team that has it going into the last quarter wins. More Gatorade on the bench? Probably no late night partying Lamar and Ron.

    9. Phil took this loss very personal. “Srategy” he thought, “for Davis, Robinson, streetball, WTF?!”
    He keeps plays in the closet for moments like this. Watch out the Philster is coming with major adjustments and rarely used plays.

    10. I’m looking for all the announcers and analyst to stop hating on the Lakers. They had the nerve to show all the miss red calls on the celtics in game 4 but not one missed obe that occurred on the lakers ugh. Perhaps now the refs could just really call a fair game.

    Lakers win game 5 and 6! See yawll at the parade!

  34. Completely agree with most of these sentiments. Bynum really is the guy who changes the complexion of the matchups. Without him eating space we have issues with penetration and controlling the boards against these guys.

    Fat Boy (I hear he doesn’t want to be called Big Baby anymore) has been bullying Odom inside all series and LO can’t get a step on him from the perimeter (for all his bulk, the dude moves quick). DJ is not the solution there, but it’s hard to think of what else we can do if Bynum just isn’t good to go. It’s absolutely frustrating to watch Davis or Perkins just push one of our skinnier bigs out of the way for a rebound.

  35. All is not lost. If we get a close score going into the 4th quarter of game 5, I’ll be very happy if the C’s will be relying on Glen Davis and Nate Robinson to get them over the hump again. We did some good things in that game that are much more likely to carry over into the next game then the things the C’s were doing. We can come up with many reasons we lost this game, but we still had a lead going into the 4th, while getting very little out of Drew.

    I don’t think I’m alone in hoping that one of our boys pushes back after taking a cheap shot or getting taunted. I was waiting for it all game, and I think it’s coming next game. The Lakers know they have to push back, physically and mentally. I see it coming, the boys will be ready come game 5 (with Drew or not).

  36. Charles – the “Fat Boy” is awesome!

    Let’s go CELTICS!

  37. I’m not sure how any one can get off saying Gasol’s soft. He’s played ferociously for us for over two years now, and brought us the success we’ve had. If he can’t dominate the paint against Davis and Perkins simultaneously that’s not on him. If he’s losing his legs after being beaten up for 40 plus minutes, that’s shows heart, not softness.

  38. I can’t sit and think about game 5 for another 56 hours. What do you think about the Smelltics? To me they’re like that annoying itch that you get between your legs that just won’t go away no matter how much you scratch.

  39. 36 – I hear the entire Celtics team has that very malady.

    Not sure I want to know why …

  40. @9 Aaron

    The issue with Bynum isn’t about his level of talent, it’s about constant injury. Bynum is a great fit for the Lakers and has always enjoyed relative success against the big bodies because he’s a real center! If he could just stay healthy, I don’t think that the Bynum for Bosh speculation would be such a big deal (no slight to Bosh). Bynum is too young and skilled to consider trading unless his injury situation fails to change year to year. And as we have seen the past three years, it’s a gamble.

    The guys BRING IT in game 5, Lakers in 6. No plan B.

  41. #37. Franky,
    Uhh, I’m hoping you’re not speaking from personal experience. ;)

    Also, maybe I shouldn’t sleep. Because I wake up and the board has gone wild wih more Bynum/Bosh talk and how Odom is suddenly useless. This was one game. An important one, but only one.

    The Celtics have drawn even but they’re the team that is continuosly having to climb out of the hole just to catch up. Game 5 will be huge because the first team to 3 wins will have a major edge – especially in a series where a team struggles to win two in a row.

    The Lakers need to do some things better – some of which I’ll touch on this afternoon – but this is what the Finals are about. Players step up and others have bad games. I mean, Ray Allen had another stinker but no one’s talking about that because the C’s won. I only bring that up because Odom is taking a lot of heat right now and while he deserves some criticism for not playing better, the Lakers as a whole were just out gunned yesterday. The domino effect of missing Bynum wore them down. No execuses, it’s just what it was. When your top 4 players all play 40+ minutes and your other main player (Fish) is in and out with foul troube, it’s going to be hard to win a game when everything depends on sharpness down the stretch. These 2 days off will surely help both teams, but based off the minutes that key Lakers have been playing (plus Bynum’s injury) I think the rest will aid them a bit more.

  42. I may be the only one who feels this way but the Lakers are not a championship team. A championship team closes out games like this. Last night the Boston Celtics were a beaten fighter looking for any reason whatsoever to lay down. A stiff jab would have been enough. All it would have taken is a little 8-0 run to put them down by 13 and the Celts would have quit. Technically they had already quit. Paul Pierce was glassy-eyed, KG was spent, and Rondo’s inability to hit a free throw transfered to his game.

    But what do the Lakers do, the played with no urgency. They acted like winning game 3 was good enough. Well it’s not. You don’t leave opportunities on the court. You beat teams when they are down. You don’t let them get the confidence that they can beat you when they aren’t playing their best. You don’t let them find others who can hurt you (see Big Baby and Nate).

    When Andrew went out the Lakers should have just attacked Boston’s middle instead of settling for Ron Ron and Odom’s outside bricks. They committed turnover after turnover and let Boston back into the game. They looked tired and maybe Phil (and his infinite wisdom) should have called a time out to settle the troops. He knew Bynum could not play, Odom and Pau were tired, so why not put in Mbenga and Powell for 2 minutes or so and give our bigs some rest?

    Now Boston sees the Lakers as the 2008 Lakers. For good reason, they are without Drew. Pau all of a sudden looks weak, Lamar is scared, and the Lakers seem intimidated. Phil has to counter with DJ to at least stem the tide. If Boston comes out firing with confidence this series may again end in 6, this time in LA. None of us wants that.

  43. #41. Overreact much? Not a championship team? That’s mighty convenient after a tough loss where the Celtics played better down the stretch. Where you thinking the same thing when the Lakers were up 2-1 and leading going into the 4th quarter? Or was your mind changed because the Lakers didn’t do enough down the stretch to win?

    And I’m not sure where you’re getting your perspective that Boston was ready to quit. Because of the look in Pierce’s eye? Because KG looked tired? Really? Boston will not quit; they’ll continue to fight for every minute of every game until this series is over. As will the Lakers. This is an extremely hard fought series and folks that are ready to bail on the team and the players are the ones that should look in the mirror. I don’t ask for unyielding support, but some levle headed perspective would be nice.

  44. I actually thought that game was lost in the third quarter when the defense was playing well but the Lakers just couldn’t score. That was a real opportunity to go up by double digits…it didn’t happen, and there was no cushion going into the final period.

    Somehow this game didn’t leave me feeling as despondent as game 2. I really like the Lakers in games 5 and 6.

  45. Maybe Bynum should sit out game 5 and get ready for game 6. Maybe Phil should play the reserves more to rest weary legs and if it is a blowout, so be it. It’s going to be a real uphill task to win Sunday. Realistically, the Lakers are going to need to win games 6 and 7 anyway.

  46. Hi all, long time reader, first time poster. Can someone clarify why Phil did not go to DJ or Powell when it was clear Lamar(despite doing a decent job holding position) was having troubles on the defensive end? Plus where was Luke and Machine????

  47. @41,

    This is why I can’t wait for game 5. So basically, Boston isn’t a championship team either, with the way they played in games one and three. Can we stop forgetting this the NBA finals. Boston beat 2 very good teams to get to this point. The Lakers are the better team and I think will win, but who ever said it would be easy.

    It’s funny to me because even these Celtics, who supposedly embarrassed us in 2008, needed 6 games to get the job done. Which brings me to my next point. Drew makes things a lot easier for everybody else, and I hope he’s healthy enough to help us stick it to the C’s next game (and the rest of the series), but we can beat this team without him. In 08′ we took 2 out of the last 4 without him (we still lost series, but it showed we can win games). Last year we went into Boston a week or so after he got injured and won, without him. He’s given us great effort so far and has helped us to 2 wins. Now, even if he’s limited, we still have the ability to take 2 of 3 with HCA. This Lakers team overall is better then it was in 08′, not just because of Drews persence, but because we are more experienced and proven champions.

  48. Why does Lamar not make Big Baby go left. He is small and uncomfortable finishing in traffic going left.

  49. Funky Chicken June 11, 2010 at 9:51 am

    This game was lost at halftime when Phil decided to sit Andrew to start the 2nd half and put LO in the starting 5. Had he put Mbenga in for Bynum, the outcome would likely have been different. Here’s why:

    For all the hype, Lamar Odom is not a dependable player. Never has been. Putting him in the starting 5 means the already weak Laker bench becomes truly pathetic, which is something you cannot have in game 5 of the NBA Finals. So, you start LO and you force yourself to play your starters very heavy minutes. That works fine for 3 quarters, but then you run out of gas in the 4th and have to hold on for dear life (game 3) or get blown out of the water (game 4).

    Seriously, nobody actually believes that a Celtic team of Wallace, Baby, Nate, Tony Allen and Pirece is better than the Lakers “starting” 5 (with LO), right? But the Celtic bench destroyed the Lakers “starting” 5 in the fourth quarter. That’s all about fatigue, and the fatigue is caused by PJ’s bad decision coming out of halftime.

    Andrew changes the complexion of the game for a lot of reasons, but perhaps most important of which is the simple fact that when he’s there it forces Perkins to guard him, and KG to guard Gasol. The effect this has on KG (on both ends) is perhaps the biggest benefit. You lose that benefit when you start LO at the power forward position. KG eats LO’s lunch, and both players know that.

    If you start Mbenga, you force Perkins to guard him and you keep KG on Pau, which is a matchup the Lakers win. Moreover, you then preserve the mentally weak LO for his proper role of coming off the bench, which makes the bench better. I cannot understand why Phil doesn’t get this. It isn’t as if Bynum’s impact on the game is his actual production. He’s not scoring much, nor is he rebounding that well. But he is a big body that changes the Celtics’ defensive assignments–something LO cannot do, and something that Mbenga CAN do.

    So, this isn’t about getting DJ a couple more minutes if Andrew can’t play; it is about STARTING him and giving him all of Andrew’s minutes. If the league changes the rules and makes the games 3 quarters instead of 4, then perhaps last night’s rotations could work, but Doc understands that an NBA game is 4 quarters long, and the Celtics have been the better 4th quarter team for 3 games in a row because Doc has had better rotations. Once again, the esteemed Mr. Jackson gets outcoached by Doc Rivers….

  50. 45 – I agree with you that Phil made a mistake not going to subs in the second half. You could tell that Lamar/Pau/Kobe were gassed. The way the game was called last night allowed the C’s to body up the Lakers and you could tell that in the 4th they had no life in their legs.

    The Bynum injury kills our inside advantage. However I think that the Lakers should consider a small lineup with Artest at the 4 when Big Baby is in the game. A lineup of Farmar, Kobe, Luke, Artest, and Pau would be able to match the speed of Boston’s bench. This lineup would also be able to operate the triangle with good spacing to allow Pau room to operate down low.

  51. Offensively LO needs to quit hanging around the perimeter looking to attack off the dribble. Big Baby has unusually quick feet for a big guy and is doing a great job preventing LO from going left.

    The extra dribbling LO is doing is creating a number of problems.

    1) The other players are forced to stand and watch LO dribble which kills player movement and makes the team as a whole much easier to defend.

    2) He is not in position to hit the Offensive Glass. His length should be an advantage on the offensive boards but his initial positioning is preventing him from taking advantage of his length.

    3) The man guarding him can lay off and disrupt passing lanes similar to Kobe laying off Rondo on the other end.

    LO is not a post up player so he must get his looks through good cuts and ball movement. Pau and LO have a good repoire working the high low.

    Finally I think that a pick and Roll Featuring LO and Pau or LO and Kobe with LO handling the ball would allow him to create space to drive to the basket. Both defenders would likely key on the screener (Kobe/Pau) creating open lanes and or mismatches.

  52. Not a lot of time so I apologize if this has been said already in this thread. While I recognize the Lakers are tired, our starters have to be able to contain their bench (I include Odom among starters). I understand Glen Davis is tough to guard with his weird combo of quickness and girth, and Robinson is well-known for putting up points. But make them pay on the other end! Odom abused Davis 1-on-1 a couple of times, and Robinson is 5’9″. If we can’t score against Robinson, that’s a problem.

    Disappointing. I have no doubt the Lakers will play better in Game 5, but I worry about Bynum. Without him, it’s really tough. And Game 5 is the key. Even with 6 and 7 at home, beating Boston twice in a row would be tough. I HATE this freaking 2-3-2 schedule. What good is homecourt advantage without having Game 5 at home?

    #48: How does Mbenga change anyone’s defensive assignments? He’s a total offensive liability. And Doc is managing rotations? Huh? He has been killing his starters for the entire playoffs – Ray Allen missed all those shots in Game 3 mostly from fatigue – and it has shown at times in this series. Last night he got WAY better than average production from his bench, so he looks like a genius. The problem is all those minutes of rest in the 4th for KG/Pierce/Rondo have implications in the next games. Luckily there’s an extra day off before the next game for Kobe/Pau/Lamar/Ron, not to mention Drew’s knee.

  53. Not to sound like a broken record, but every possession in the 4th when Pau Gasol touched the ball, good things happened. Either he scored, got fouled, or created an opportunity for a teammate. Gasol is playing through so much shit on the block (Garnett got away with two blatant elbows to Gasol’s neck), and he’s still taking it to the C’s.

    If we just run the triangle, get the spacing we need to make good entry passes, good things will happen. Lots of people have been complaining about Lamar and others walking the ball up the floor and not getting the offense started quickly enough. While this is an issue, the larger issue is the fact that we just can’t get the ball into the post reliably. Every time we reverse the ball, that takes 2-3 seconds off the clock, until we’re down to 6-7 seconds and it’s off to Kobe-shot-jackery-land. Our guys need to run good hard cuts, free up space to make entry passes, and run the releases with scoring in mind. Farmar and Brown had one great play in the 1st half where Farmar received the release pass at the free throw line then passed to a cutting Brown on the weak side, which led to a lay-up and 1.

    And as always, Artest and Odom need to take the ball to the basket. Big Baby can’t change directions, and Odom really exploited this in the 4th, going back to his right hand and going right by Davis for multiple lay-ups. Artest also needs to attack Pierce on offense and not bail Pierce out by jacking up semi-contested jump shots.

  54. A tough loss, no doubt, but it is only one game. We still have an opportunity to win game 5 and return home up 3-2. It won’t surprise me in the least to see another close game going into the 4th quarter of game 5. Their bench stepped up, we rode our starters too much and turnovers at key times and lack of rebounding hurt us. That said, we were still in the game.

    To me the key is going to be who else on our team steps up. It would be great to see Ron have a decent shooting night and for Jordan/ShanWOW to chip in for 16-18 pts between them. I’d also like to see Powell get a little run (2-3 min) against Big Baby to save some energy for our big men.

    And one thing that I’m not sure anyone has mentioned – let’s sub earlier in the game. Phil has to trust that guys 8-10 can give him some productivity. If our starters have a little less burn going into the fourth, it will help.

    Game 5 – go lakers!

  55. msk, it is simple, really. Mbenga totally changes Boston’s defensive assignments. When you start Odom, you let Perkins beat up on Gasol (Gasol will score early, but will tire out late) and most importantly you leave Boston’s most mentally tough player (KG) on the Lakers least mentally tough player (LO). It is the KG on LO matchup where you see the impact of Bynum and, if allowed to play, Mbenga.

    KG simply owns LO, and KG draws energy from his own defense. So, by putting LO against KG you not only get no production out of your power forward, but you energize KG on the offensive end. By contrast, when he is forced to cover Pau, KG can’t stop Pau, and Pau can stop KG on the other end.

    Finally, playing Bynum/Mbenga at center rather than Pau helps your bench, because Odom is now coming off the bench. This keeps your rotations more consistent with the regular season, and prevents your starters from logging the heavy minutes that killed them last night (and, I’d argue, in the fourth quarter of game 3, which they would have lost but for the best quarter of Derek Fisher’s career).

    What happened last night was the worst of all worlds. Phil killed his starters with minutes, which made them incapable of stopping the Celtics bench (their BENCH, not their starters), which allowed the Celtics not only to win a key game but to do so with their starters getting tons of rest. Now, with two days off between games, you know the Celtic starters will have no ill effects from game 4.

    Really, I’m surprised that anyone would question this. Andrew’s presence in this series is huge, but it isn’t because of his production. It is because he causes defensive matchups for Boston (most notably at the PF position) that pay huge dividends for the Lakers, and gives the Lakers more punch off the bench. Do you not see it this way?

  56. #54. Funky Chicken,
    I think what folks are questioning is whether or not Perkins would really guard Mbenga – and that’s a fair question.

    Personally, I’m not sure what Doc would do in this instance as he normally likes to play his match ups straight and not cross match. However, if Perkins (or Rasheed) is the better match up for Gasol and Mbenga is in the game, Doc may just put KG (or even Baby) on Mbenga and call it a day. Mbenga is not an offensive threat and if KG is put on him, it allows KG to then roam on defense and be a helper (which is a strong suit of his). I’m actually unsure if Mbenga really is an answer and am actually leaning towards him not being one.

  57. I think everyone is missing arguably one of the biggest reasons for the Lakers stuggles…. 3 point shooting!!!!

    In Game 1 the Celtics had a focus on preventing the Lakers from getting good looks at the 3. They constantly stayed near Fisher, Kobe, Farmar, Brown, and even Artest (after his great game 6 against Phoenix) to limit the three point opportunities. The result was a Boston defense that was more spread on the court and it created seams for the Lakers to penetrate. Kobe, Farmar, an Brown all were able to attack he basket and get easy lay-ups and if they weren’t able to finish Boston’s big men were out of position due to contesting he shots that the Lakers grabbed numerous offensive rebounds. It was a pretty easy win for the Lakers.
    In Games 2-4 however Boston has gone back to the defense from 2008. They are keeping one guy on Kobe at all times and using the oher 4 players to pack it in around the key. The result is no lanes to drive, no room for Kobe to create for himself or his teammates, and no mismatches to exploit on the offensive glass. The only way the Lakers are going to bust this defense is if they start making 3 point shots.

    Just how bad have the Lakers been? Here are the Lakers 3 point shooting for the series:
    Kobe 10-27 (37%)
    Artest 4-14 (28%)
    Fisher 0-7 (0%)
    Farmar 2-7 (28%)
    Odom 1-5 (20%)
    Sasha 1-3 (33%)
    Brown 0-2 (0%)
    Gasol 0-2 (0%)

    So outside of Kobe’s solid 10-27 (37%), the rest of the team is a combined 8-40 for 20%!!!!

    In fact, as bad as Ron has been shooting, Ron’s 4-14 is better than he trio of Fisher, Farmar, and Brown which are 2-16!!!!

  58. I’m actually unsure if Mbenga really is an answer and am actually leaning towards him not being one.
    ___

    Well, there is no “answer.” As we saw in 2008 and again last night, the Lakers simply do not match up with this team without Andrew. Also, as I posted on the other thread, Tony Allen has, perhaps, become James Posey: Kobe is 5/19 with T. Allen as the primary defender on him according to ESPN Stats. Davis was Leon Powe, and Robinson was Eddie House, so last night WAS 2008 all over again.

    Mbenga would provide energy and size; nothing more. But I am not sure that I see another option. I would try Artest on Davis some next game, I think, and if the Celtics use T. Allen a lot, I would put Kobe on the block against him.

    But I think it will come down to what they get out of Andrew and Lamar. Kobe is not going to go off for 45 against this team and win a game by himself and Pau is not going to put up a 30/20.

  59. Well, I think folks are overstating the degree to which Bynum is able to produce more than Mbenga. Andrew can’t jump at all. He can’t get lobs, and he can’t use his normal foot work to get shots. If Perkins won’t guard Mbenga, then DJ will be free to hit the boards and get putbacks, which is something the Lakers have not gotten in the last 2 games.

    Moreover, here are the problems with NOT playing Mbenga:

    1. We’ve tried this before and failed. The Celtics pushed a Bynum-less Laker team around in 2008, and now they are doing it again when Bynum is out. This is a fact. The Celtics are a terrible rebounding team, but they have outrebounded the Lakers in recent games.

    2. We are trying this now and failing. Has anyone noticed how little energy the Lakers have played with in the last two 4th quarters? I don’t think it is because they guys don’t care or don’t try (although I’m not too sure about that when it comes to Odom). No, it is because they are DEAD TIRED by the fourth quarter. So, starting LO is clearly not the way to go.

    3. It is the Lakers who need to make an adjustment. It took the best quarter of his career from Fisher for the Lakers to get a win in game 3. Nobody can seriously think that is going to happen again, right? Do you think it is a coincidence that Kobe has not had good 4th quarters in the last 2 games? How about Pau?

    And as for LO, please, if our title hopes ride on this guy we are going to lose for sure. Odom thinks he’s a starter. Well, he got 22 minutes in the 2nd half to prove his point, and he had ONE rebound, NO assists and NO blocks, all while getting completely trashed by a backup power forward.

    The Lakers don’t have the luxury of NOT making this change.

  60. Davis and Robinson don’t have the skills, brains, or the luck to play like that again. Give them credit for seizing the moment and getting some lucky leprechaun bounces. The celtics bench is slightly less reliable than the lakers. Considering how badly the celtics needed this game, their starters could not seize control the way they wanted to. That says a lot to me. If the lakers continue to play defense the way they have, I feel good about game 5, as long as bynum is in there. No bynum, we have big problems. Gasol has shown a lot of heart, but he’s just not big (heavy) enough to handle all the pushing and shoving. To expect DJ or Powell to make a difference now is unfair to both of them. I don’t like the lack of rest time for our starters, especially Kobe. I don’t like Artest being a non factor on offense and his poor shooting touch. He’s a much better offensive player than he’s shown. Farmar and Shannon could really help us on getting some easy transition baskets, but their decisions on offense (especially farmar losing the ball to robinson) in the 4q) are a problem. After 4 games, I don’t think there’s really anything new to be learned by either team. If we have bynum, and we execute the game plan, we will win. (That being said, I wish Phil called a few more time outs from the mid 3rd to early 4q to give the starters an extra break and try to give them that extra push when it was tied)

  61. 3. It is the Lakers who need to make an adjustment. It took the best quarter of his career from Fisher for the Lakers to get a win in game 3. Nobody can seriously think that is going to happen again, right

    ___

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but these things balance out. The Celtics’ two wins have been a result of a record-setting game from Ray Allen and a career game from Glen Davis.

    OTOH, Davis has now had two really good games in a row. It got lost in the Fish euphoria, but Davis was 4/5 from the field in Game 3, so he is now 11/15 in the two games in Boston. Nate Robinson, as I predicted he would prior to the series, has also hurt the Lakers twice now.

    So, I am on board, as I said on the other thread, with getting Mbenga a little burn but not with starting him. Darius focuses on the tactical elements of the game and the lack of Simmons-ish faux mindreading on this site is refreshing. Also, as noted, Davis is simply a tough match-up physically for Lamar. Davis is fat but quick.

    That said, part of Game 5 and whatever follows will be about Lamar’s looking in the mirror. He needs to relaize that with Andrew hurting, the team NEEDS him if they are going to win this thing, and he needs to play with fire in his eyes, and as Bill Walton once said when talking about playing against Jordan: there are some opponents that you cannot even try to defeat unless you play them with some hatred in your heart.

    I think the Celtics are that opponent for Lamar.

  62. Playing Mbenga big minutes is a panic move ala running the offense through Slava and playing the rookie Walton big minutes as we did in 2004. I think PJ has learned from that. I think Odom will bounce back. Mbenga or Powell need to be used if Bynum can’t go but just to spell Gasol so he’s not gassed at the end, not as some sort of answer to our interior defensive problems. Neither guy has played more than a few minutes, even if they come with energy it will be shortlived.

  63. @56,

    I agree, but the reality is that the Lakers are a poor 3-pt shooting team. We are at a point now where it is pretty well-established that the Lakers are about a 90-95 point offensive team against Boston. The issue is if they can keep the Celtics in the 80s. Again, Boston point totals vs. Lakers since 2008 Finals:
    83
    109 (Bynum out)
    89
    87
    89
    103 (Ray-Ray hits 8/11)
    84
    96 (36 in fourth quarter, with Bynum out).

    The pattern is clear.

  64. Robinred, I agree that a lot of things balance out, but here are my two concerns about what you wrote:

    1. “Also, as noted, Davis is simply a tough match-up physically for Lamar. Davis is fat but quick.” There is no question about that, but where LO has a (potential) advantage is with his quickness, but if LO is starting, he is using up all his energy against KG so by the time Baby comes in LO has absolutely nothing left to give. If LO is too tired to attack, Baby will continue to eat him alive. Not sure that is going to balance out, because it seems like a clear and easy to explain trend.

    2. “That said, part of Game 5 and whatever follows will be about Lamar’s looking in the mirror.” You may very well be right; and if you are, this series is over and the Lakers have no chance. Sorry, but LO deserves no benefit of the doubt at this point. Again, 22 minutes in the 2nd half, one board, no rebounds and no assists. You almost have to TRY to avoid doing anything to post those kinds of numbers, but that is just SO Lamar….

    One can point to the ingredients that went into the Celtics wins, but I think the same can be said of the Laker wins. One Laker win occurred when Ray Allen was sidelined with foul trouble all game, and the other occurred when he went 0-13 (plus Fisher’s heroics). Going forward, I think the games are unlikely to be called like the were in the first 3 and more like last night, which makes the game 1 recipe unlikely, and I don’t see Allen posting historically bad shooting numbers going forward.

    The bottom line as I see it is that the Lakers are not good enough to build a lead through 3 quarters that is large enough to withstand a 4th quarter run by the Celtics if our starters have to play as many minutes as they did last game. That’s two games in a row where we faded big time in the 4th, so we need a recipe for resting starters and not falling far behind. Maybe that can be done without starting Mbenga in Bynum’s absence, but given the matchups that result from starting Odom I don’t see how….

  65. One can point to the ingredients that went into the Celtics wins, but I think the same can be said of the Laker wins.

    ___

    Yes–that is the way this series is IMO because the teams are very good but not great, there are matchup issues on both sides, and many key players are aging. I think 2-2 is right where the series should be on the merits.

    As to Lamar, however, who knows? That is the way it is with the guy. Recall last year people were calling for him to be benched. Then he put up a 19/14 in G5 vs. Denver and followed that up with a 20/8 in G6. Had a 19/8 in G2 of the Finals and a 17/10 in the clincher.

    Yes, those teams were better matchups for him. But he has the skill. We know that.

    I also do not see him as having a quickness edge against Davis. Davis is fat, but he is several years younger than Lamar and has quick feet. His advantage against Davis is length.

  66. Funky Chicken June 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Robinred, I agree that these teams are pretty evenly matched, and 2-2 is probably about where the series should be. Were Bynum healthy, however, I think the story would be completely different, and the Lakers would be the superior team by far. But, to quote some jerk from the past, “you go to war with the army you’ve got”.

    As for LO, yes, he has the skill, but it is the heart and toughness that is lacking. Maybe he’ll show some of that going forward, but his reputation is well-deserved, and it is that reputation that caused Stoudamire to call his WCF game 1 effort “lucky”. Poor choice of words, no doubt, but “out of character” would certainly have applied.

    The quickness advantage I see with LO is out on the perimeter. Baby can’t run with LO, and he should not be able to handle him on the perimeter. Of course, when you are passive and predictable (as in “I’m gonna take him LEFT”) you become pretty easy to defend. Baby abused LO on the glass, but that doesn’t mean that Lamar can’t box out, or stand in and take a charge. When was the last time LO took a charge?

    My entire argument about starting Mbenga if Bynum cannot go is based on the premise that the power forward position is the key to this series. If Pau gets to play against KG, the Lakers have a clear advantage. If KG gets to play against LO, the Celtics get the clear advantage. I think we’d do well to limit Odom’s time against KG, and the best way to do that is to keep him in his reserve role. That this approach also has the benefit of keeping Pau fresher, and the bench stronger just seems to enhance the case to me.

    All that said, I think it is very difficult to make this kind of switch at this stage, which is why it is so disappointing to me that PJ didn’t give more time to Mbenga when Drew was out with his achilles. Whether it was against the Celtics, the Magic or the Cavs, we had to know that there was a chance that Drew was going to be of limited availability and that Pau might get worn down playing center….

  67. Will read the replies in more detail when I get time but a couple of things stick out to me

    1. Pretty disrespectful to talk about trading Bynum right now when he’s out there giving everything he has while injured to win a championship in some part for all of you.

    2. DJ Mbenga is not the answer, this is not a video game guys

  68. Were Bynum healthy, however, I think the story would be completely different, and the Lakers would be the superior team by far.

    I don’t know about “by far”, but yes, if Bynum were healthy (a rare event, to be sure) I think the Lakers would be a little bit better than the Celtics.

    I said before this started that if Bynum were healthy, I’d pick the Lakers, and if he couldn’t go at all, I’d pick the Celtics. With him going at 3/4 to 1/2 speed, we had a toss-up. Now, with his seemingly being at 10-20%, the Celtics have the edge, and the Lakers will likely be relying on HCA to make this 1988: v 2010.

    And yes, starting Mbenga would be very difficult and probably unprecedented. I doubt that there has ever been a case in league history in which a guy got 4 straight DNPs and then started G5 of the Finals.

    So, if Andrew can’t go, I start Odom, give Mbenga a little burn. I am sure Andrew will try to play, however, and I think like last night, we will know within the first 2-3 posessions how much he can give.

  69. As disappointed as I am in the results of last night’s game…the DJ Mbenga chatter has me laughing.

    Anyway, I don’t think anyone advocating using Mbenga thinks he’s the “answer”- but he should be getting some burn. He’s not worse offensively than Perkins and he’s a big dude who will play hard and with fire–way more fire than Lamar has shown us. Lamar and Gasol make for a fun offensive front-line and a relatively weak defensive one. That’s just the way it is- we need to be able to throw big bodies at the Celts and if Bynum is in worse condition than before, we need to at least see what Powell and Mbenga can give us, because it can’t possibly be worse than what Odom gave us in the second half of game 4.

    The biggest issue here though is desire on the rebounds. The Celts crash the boards 3-4 guys at a time. I watched the Lakers over and over again fail to do this. There’s no choice now, it has to be done in game 5. The Lakers HAVE to out-rebound the Celts if they want to win.

    That said…I still like the Lakers chances. It’s a 3 game series now and the first team to 2 wins was the Lakers.