Lakers/Thunder: This Game Proves LA Is Rounding Into Form

Darius Soriano —  February 27, 2011

Resiliency.

This is a trait that every championship team needs and the Lakers seem to have found their storage supply since coming back from the all-star break. After coming back from a big deficit in Portland earlier in the week, the Lakers again tapped into their reserves and held on against the Thunder and win 90-87 to claim their 2nd straight tough road win and their 4th straight overall.

Really, this was an uphill climb all the way. The Lakers found themselves down 6-0 early and never seemed to feel comfortable against the Thunder. Whether it was Thabo Sefolosha making open jumpers (he made his first 2 threes and had eight early points for OKC) or Russ Westbrook nailing his mid-range J (as Kobe gave him the Rondo treatment), OKC seemed to be on their game and it ensured that the Lakers would have to battle the entire game if they hoped to win this game.

And battle they did.

As the game went on, Kobe couldn’t seem to buy a jumpshot but his mates were picking him up along the way. In the first period it was Gasol raining jumpers, continuing his great rhythm from Friday’s game vs. the Clippers. A tough fading J from the left wing was followed by another from the right side. After that he got a lay up and then knocked down two more jumpers before the 1st quarter buzzer sounded. Those 10 points and some solid work by Bynum to earn trips to the foul line and get inside buckets off good positioning and offensive rebounds also helped the Lakers keep pace with OKC in the first frame where LA would trail by 6.

In the 2nd quarter, it was the bench’s turn to show their worth and as usual it was a combination of Odom and Brown that spearheaded the Lakers’ attack. As I mentioned in the game preview, Lamar would have a distinct advantage against the Thunder’s reserve bigs now that Serge Ibaka has become a starter. And LO sure did take advantage of his time being guarded by Nick Collison. Surely concerned that LO would use his quickness to get to the rim, Collison sagged off LO and allowed him the space he wanted to shoot his jumper. These uncontested shots keyed the Lakers’ quest for points as Odom’s back to back jumpers (the first a two pointer from the right wing and his second a three from straight away) had the dual effect of stopping a run that OKC was on and settling the Lakers down. After Odom’s mini 5 point run, Shannon performed the same feat getting a lay in and a three pointer of his own to fall. After Odom followed that up with a another lay in, the Lakers had successfully weathered another storm and found themselves within striking distance. At the half they’d only trail by 5 even though OKC had played well enough to be up double that amount.

What was a first half of jockeying for points and ensuring that the Thunder didn’t get too far ahead developed into a defensive slugfest in the 2nd half. And here is where the Lakers really started to impose their will on the game. Ron Artest continued to put the clamps on Kevin Durant and barely allowed him any space to breathe on that side of the ball. Ron fought diligently through every screen and contested each and every shot as best he could. By the end of the game Durant had a line of 21 points on 8-20 shooting and only attempted 6 FT’s When you add in 5 turnovers, it’s easy to understand the importance that Ron had in this game as KD never truly found a groove.

Besides making things hard for Durant, the Lakers also tightened up the defense on Westbrook. After hurting the Lakers by getting to his spots and knocking down his mid-range jumper in the first half, LA made it a point of emphasis to deny Russ his angles and contest his shots whenever possible. And while Kobe did a good job of funneling Russ to specific spots on the floor and not giving up easy looks, holding Westbrook down really was a team effort. Every time he drove the Lakers bigs were there to contest his shot and either alter it to force a miss or foul him to make him earn the points at the line. When Russ tried to use the P&R to get free, the Lakers flattened out their angles so he couldn’t split the hedge man (as he did in the 1st half) and kept him in front of them on nearly every possession he went to that action. The Lakers were so successful with these tactics that Russ didn’t score the entire third period which allowed the Lakers to hold OKC to a 13 point quarter. Meanwhile the Lakers kept their offense going well enough to put up 21 points in the 3rd and were able to turn a 5 point halftime deficit into a 3 point lead going into the final frame. (This is where I must also give Bynum credit as he was a key player in ensuring that OKC’s sets weren’t successful. Big Drew showed well on screens but still protected the paint and recovered to rebound. Whether on the P&R or hedging out to help on Durant coming off pin downs, Drew showed great instincts on when to show out and when to lay back. Without his presence I think the Thunder’s offense doesn’t struggle nearly as much and they likely build some momentum going into the 4th. Instead, they trailed and had to play uphill the rest of the game.)

In the 4th quarter, the Lakers offered more of the same on the defensive end and made every OKC offensive possession a tough one. Rarely did a Thunder shot get put up without a Laker close enough to make a presence felt and most times the Lakers secured the miss with a defensive rebound. With OKC struggling to score the Lakers were able to grind out offensive possessions and get enough baskets to build up a small cushion that the Thunder just couldn’t come back from. Sure Westbrook hit a big three to cut the Lakers’ lead to a single point but on the next possession Kobe hit a baseline jumper over the outstretched arm of Sefolosha to put LA back up by three. And while the Thunder had two good looks from 25 feet out to tie the game, neither fell and the Lakers escaped with a hard fought win.

In the end, a win in this game is all I could really ask for but the fact that the Lakers did so by clamping down on D (allowing only 31 second half points) and again showing some of that championship mettle only has me more encouraged moving forward. Sure the offense bogged down in the 4th quarter with non-movement of the ball and the players led to Kobe isolations on too many possessions. But to me, the bigger point wasn’t that the Lakers struggled to score but that they responded on the other end by getting the stops. Too many times this year offensive struggles have led to inconsistent effort on D and what were close games that could have been won turned out to be losses. This game, however, was the exact opposite. In the final 5 minutes of this game the Lakers got several key stops and forced 3 turnovers (2 steals and one drawn charge) to ultimately seal the game. A game like this reminds me so much of last season and considering how that year ended, that’s a pretty great feeling.

Darius Soriano

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54 responses to Lakers/Thunder: This Game Proves LA Is Rounding Into Form

  1. I hate keep repeating this but Kobe is the single most disrespected superstar by ”refs”.He could have been injured today.

  2. Great recap, I myself got frustrated by that fourth quarter kobe-iso plays where the lakers played 8 to 9 offensive possessions allowing kobe to back down and take a turn around shot. But all this offensive mistakes were burried by their terrific defense. Credit should be given to Ron-ron, Bynum and Kobe. But overall this was a team effort. If we can continue playing D like this we can overtake dallas for second and maybe have a home court advantage on any eastern conference team.

  3. Great win for the Lakers and they have been playing great since the break, I will admit that and they surprised me today. However, and this is just in my eyes, I think it is still too early to just assume this team has found themselves completely. Too many times this season the team seemed to be playing great some games, having momentum, and then they play terribly a few games (many against bad teams). I still want to see how they fare against some of the elite teams down this final stretch because except for the game in Boston, they got torched by every one of them.

  4. LA’s defense has gradually ramped up post-All Star Break. We haven’t seen a whole game yet, but the second halves of each of these three games have been good. If LA can start clamping down in the first minutes of the game….look out…

    That said, I fully expect LA’s “D” to be inconsistent at times until the playoffs begin, and they get to see the same team multiple games in a row…that is when they seem to really clamp down–when they have a chance to really gameplan for their opponent.

  5. @1

    The refs were really letting both teams play pretty physical defense. Kobe got abused quite a lot, but the crew similarly let Ron Ron “body up” Durant all over the court–and Ron took it to the limit as usual, and did a good job. Drew was also allowed to play pretty physically in the paint. I really didn’t have much of a problem with the calls except for the play with about two minutes to go, where Kobe got “sandwiched” at the basket, and nothing was called. Other than that….just a physical game. I think OKC only got 2 or 4 FTA’s in the second half….

  6. I agree nimble – but he’s also the least ass kissing superstar. Watch LeBron work the refs and you’ll quickly get sick of the winking and ass-patting.

  7. Kobe got demolished over and over under the basket. For whatever reason, he never got the calls. Even Van Gundy – a notorious anti-Laker/Kobe commentator – admitted it. That’s when you know it’s bad.

    Hope this doesn’t happen during the playoffs; Or worse, decide a game.

  8. The drive at the end of the game where he got hammered by two OKC players was a particularly egregious no-call. I mean, it wasn’t even subtle. That said, the best way to deal with that is to can the next shot you take in your defender’s face, which is just what Kobe did.

  9. I comment fairly often – not every single day, but often enough. Why do my comments get stuck in moderation for such periods of time? Just wondering.

  10. If anyone watches the Knicks-Heat game, give us a quick breakdown of how the Bron-Melo and Amare-Bosh matchups look. I don’t have the time to watch it but I’m vaguely curious.

    9 – I think everyone’s comments get stuck in moderation the majority of the time, regardless of how often you comment – it’s an automated system. I’ve noticed the shorter the comment, the less likely it is to be moderated, though.

  11. A few more games like this strung together, and it wouldn’t be crazy to call Drew the best defensive center in the Western Conference. The sum of his blocks plus forced misses is staggering. He and Ron-Ron had scintillating defensive games, which was evident in Drew’s plus-minus of +16, Pau’s of -13, and Lamar’s +3. After the game, I went over to Silver Screen & Roll and saw this preview, by the professional statistician who occasionally writes a column for them:
    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2011/2/27/2017959/nba-lakers-thunder-preview-pau-gasol-lamar-odom-andrew-bynum-kevin-durant-kobe-bryant

    Today, he commented that the Gasol/Bynum combo was -1, Odom/Bynum was +19, and Odom/Gasol was -15. Fortunately, that last combo picked up their defensive intensity in the final six minutes, or we would have lost the game because our offense went into Kobe iso-mode.

  12. After reading all this, I really want to see footage of the 4th period where Kobe was apparently getting hacked down the stretch. I was shocked to look at the boxscore and see that he had ZERO FTA. Amazing.

  13. AusPhil – it was pretty brutal, particularly the play that keeps getting mentioned above where Kobe drove to the hoop and got sandwiched by two Thunder players, and nothing was called. I don’t like to complain about the refs, but since the Lakers still won i feel like i can say that Kobe is one of the most disrespected players in the league when it comes to getting calls; some of it may be because he complains on a lot of stuff, but still, as an official you have to get the call right

  14. You guys think it’s bad now, wait until Perkins gets there. With his reputation, he’ll be allowed to get away with most anything on defense, short of ripping out Kobe’s spine. And even that would probably be only a Flagrant 1.

  15. Did anyone see LeBron try to copy Kobe and fail?

  16. 15- there is only 1 Kobe and I’m glad we got him

  17. Speaking of no respect, Stoudemire just got hacked on both arms – one by Wade and the other by Joel Anthony, and got no love either. But he made the shot anyway.

  18. Anthony is doing an admirable job guarding James. Have to say I’m impressed with his defensive intensity.

  19. Freakin’ Spurs. Really?! And without Tony Parker?!

    I’m hoping the Knicks can hold on…

  20. Anybody watching the Knicks/Heat is surely frustrated watching the bail out call for Lebron when they were down three…he just barrels away and gets the call every time. Would love to see the refs swallow their whistles just once…haha, and Lebron STILL wanted a call on the drive w/ 7 ticks left

  21. How about the defense of Stoudemire and Anthony?! Amare just got the game sealing block.

  22. This is a really impressive win for New York…Billups might be the most underrated piece in a trade in the league’s history. I still think it speaks to the lack of true leadership and winning mentality in Miami – which of course starts at the top w/ LeBrick. They have trouble in close games, and I doubt that gets fixed in the next 20 games. People just need to realize that LeBron is the most imposing and awesome talent in the league, but he is NOT the best/greatest player living. There’s a huge difference and most people can’t decipher between the two. If I need to win one game, there’s no way Lebron’s my first pick. Simple as that. Maybe I’m biased…

  23. I, too, noticed that Anthony and Amare were expending more effort on D than I’ve ever seen them do in the regular season. The expectations of NYC might carry Carmelo’s D to another level (in the short-term, at least).

  24. Damn it my feed crapped out for the last 30 seconds. I saw Billups’ big 3 and steal. What happened after that? Who did Amare block?

  25. Great recap of the game Darius. I especially like how one of our 7-footers can take and make those 15 foot J’s with ease and precision, every single time it seems like. The Lakers did seem to adjust the OKC’s play as the game went on.

  26. Snoopy, w/ 12 secs left, down 1, Lebron drove at Melo. Melo played off expecting full on Lebron bull move. Sure enough, he makes his patented strong drive but Amare was there to get the block. Then we get to enjoy Lebron cry for a minute. Next – Mia foul, 2 FTs. Heat get ball back down three. Lebron head fakes, takes a dribble left, and bricks another three for the loss. Big win for NY, scary loss for Miami going into a brutal stretch of games. Great day of basketball.

  27. Thanks, Adam, great breakdown. I’d say I’m waiting for the Truehoop article on why Lebron isn’t as clutch as people think, but I’m fairly sure no one really thinks Lebron is clutch.

    I agree, we had some great thrillers today. Having Spike Lee at the game only added to the entertainment value. Love Jack, but no one gets into the game the way Spike does. I wasn’t even in my teens the last time the Knicks were good, so my memories of Spike and Reggie Miller jawing are foggy. But he definitely adds some excitement to the game.

  28. 11 (The Dude Abides): A lot of fans don’t understand the contributions that Bynum makes towards team rebounding. Those charts and splits show the results of his efforts very well.

    When Bynum is in the game, with either Gasol or Odom, the Offensive Rebound Rate is 35.5%. Gasol and Odom together only post a 31.2% ORR.

    When Bynum is in the game, with either Gasol or Odom, the Defensive Rebound Rate is 72.5%. Gasol and Odom together only post a 56.3% DRR.

    Many might say to themselves, “Oh really? Then how do you explain Gasol having 10.4 RPG and Odom having 9.0 RPG, while Bynum only has 7.7 RPG?”

    The answer is three fold, in my opinion.

    Reason one is simple, but subtle, and answers some of why Gasol and Odom get more rebounds than Bynum: Bynum creates more misses in the paint. His length, size, and skills as a post defender create more opportunities for his teammates to rebound the ball. He gets some of them, but a good number of them will clang off short (a sign of an over-arched shot caused by a long defender with his arms straight up) and bounce towards the weak side defender, i.e… Kobe, Pau, or Lamar.

    Reason two is both less simple and less subtle, once you look for it: Bynum does the fundamental things to create space under the basket. He has, of course, size. He is very good at using that big body, the funk in the trunk, and his long arms to box out his man far more often than not. He is excellent at footwork. Spend a game watching every possession. He does take the occasional play off, or get beat by his man, but he wins those contests far more often. When executing a proper box out, Bynum is often sealing an entire side of the paint, getting the opposing guard or forward on that side as a sort of bonus. (You cannot teach size, ask any coach.) Even when the rebound does not bounce to his side, this still creates a far easier rebound opportunity for his teammates.

    The third reason, and most fun, is pretty interesting to watch: Bynum very rarely fights his teammates for rebounds. He often defers, sometimes in mid-jump. Again, watch him under the basket, and look to his awareness. He is rarely caught unawares anymore. He has developed a very elite skill set as a post player.

    I really recommend watching the next Lakers game with an eye on Bynum, and not the ball.

    Personally, I cannot wait for Bynum to develop the next phase of his game, which I think is creating a “mean streak” when he is on the court. He shows flashes of it, but I am waiting to see more of the beast.

  29. Ironically, even though norge Knicks have no depth, I think they are a dangerous matchup for Miami. Melo always plays well with Lebron on the court, Stoudemire has that vengeance factor about being overlooked for Chris Bosh in the summer, and Miami has no one who can guard Billups consistently. That would be a fun series to watch. Mia would be the favorite, but the two aren’t so separate as we saw today.

  30. ‘Melo awlays got the best of Lebron in HS. I don’t know why, but I feel like somehow Melo is in Lebron’s head.

    I am certain lebron does not want to see the knicks in the playoffs.

  31. 28. Thanks for that breakdown. Are the rebound rate figures for our three big-man combinations for this season as a whole? If so, that’s startling. I would also mention the fact that before today’s game, Drew was averaging more rebounds per 36 minutes than both Pau and Lamar. And to rephrase and summarize what you said, Drew contests far more shots than either Lamar or Pau, and thus is frequently out of position for the defensive rebound. And yes, his presence does create more defensive rebounding opportunities for the rest of the team.

    I’ve also noticed how personally he takes it when an opponent makes a shot over him. Durant made a semi-floater in the lane today that bounced around on the rim and backboard before going in, and they showed the replay several times. I noticed Drew demonstratively express his frustration, like he’s saying there’s no way anyone should be allowed to score over him. That attitude bodes well for the playoffs :D

  32. I really think Phil needs to reward bynum when hes playing this good and give him the crunch time minutes over odom or gasol. Bynum always does better when he has more confidence and that would surely boost his confidence.

  33. 31 (The Dude Abides): I am not sure if that is a breakdown of the whole season. I think that the author of the original post is only using a sample of the Laker-Robber Baron games.

    I will look for overall splits for the season to date, and try to post them.

  34. Phil should give Bynum endtime minutes over Lamar.

    The reason – boxing out. Lamar just does not box out his man, or any other.

    Follow the game and watch Lamar when the ball goes up. He almost always watches the arc of the ball and judges where it will come off the rim. That is why he is a good rebounder. However, he also generally loses complete contact with his man and that is often the person getting in good rebound position.

  35. It’s not that Bynum is some monster right now… It’s just he is our only Center. So of course we won’t be as good without a true Center on the court. Now… Today was the first game where Andrew got his wind back… So we are talking about probably 4 to 6 weeks until he gets his legs back.

  36. Agreed, this was the first game where I was actually sorry not to see Bynum out there at the end of the game. He played great today and I’d love to see him get some time at the end. Tough call. Everyone played well today. I’m especially pleased to see Artest finally come around. Keep it up, Lakers!

  37. Aaron just stop…stop stop stop. Nobody said “he’s a monster now” but everyone is encouraged by his impact on our Ws..we don’t see him a ton healthy so when he’s out there making plays it really makes our team close to unstoppable. And ps, when healthy he is a force aka beast aka problem aka top five center in the NBA. The longer he can stay healthy the more he will flourish.

    3Three, thanks for that post. Good stuff. I too am looking forward to Bynum’s mean streak but, again, I think it’s dependent upon his health. If he can become confident in his legs come playoff time and play without thinking about it? I think we know how that story ends. That was a really good point you made about his tendency to defer to teammates on rebounds and it’s definitely a symbol of his role within the team. Phil knows he’s a capable low post threat but he has always emphasized that Drews role is rebounding and defense, always “keeping him in his place”. With Kobe Pau and Lamar (and of course DFish) as the main leaders of the team, he seems to be embracing his role as enforcer. Also, with all of his injuries, he must have a somewhat humble or modest attitude within the team…I feel like that would just be natural, given the situation.

  38. Bynum should get crunch time over odom because he is a better defender, rebounder, and free throw shooter. Not sure statically on the last one but odom did miss both his free throws in the end of this game and I’d like to see how Bynum does in those situations

  39. Anonymous: we haven’t seen Bynum in those situations, and it was actually pretty rare to see LO in that situation. Most often it’s been Pau or Kobe and with good reason…

  40. Why doesn’t kobe understand? He may be one of the best ever, but the more isolation plays he runs, the harder his shots become and the more that gap between him and other players on the court shrinks. If you have michael jordan versus me, obviously we know who wins. But if he is shooting three point shots and I’m shooting lay ups, then I’m beating him.

    Kobe doesn’t look very good when he forces up crap shots in isolation. Him and the team would look much better if he passed the ball more and took, better shots.

  41. Personally, it’s going to take a few more games before my confidence in the team is restored completely.

    Let’s see how they do in the next two weeks, especially the latter (SAS, ATL, MIA and DAL).

  42. 41, this isn’t directed at you specifically, but that type of unwilling confidence reminds me of the whims of an adolescent unwilling to risk “falling in love” because he/she was hurt before. Not trying to be a dick, just trying to make an analogy.

    I think a lot of people, not just JM, have reservations about really enjoying the Laker season and really throwing themselves into the games because they don’t want to deal with the sting of losing. If they don’t really invest themselves, if they’re super-negative throughout season, whether the Lakers win or lose is a win-win for them.

    If the Lakers lose, they can say “well I told you so,” and cite all the negativity they listed throughout the year. And if the Lakers win, they can say “yea the Lakers win!!!!!” and still bask in the glory of a championship.

    Now I’m not saying it’s wrong to have that attitude, but I do think it’s a little half-assed. If you’re going to cheer for your team when they win, you should be able to take the full-blown sting of a loss. And in a way, it’s like going into a relationship with someone and thinking that as long as you don’t commit yourself, you won’t get hurt. That really dampens the whole experience, in my opinion.

    I’m not saying don’t be negative (or realistic, as some would argue), but I would say stop holding yourself back and really throw yourself into the season. Not every season will the Lakers be as competitive as they are now (think 2004-2007), so I think it would be a waste not to throw yourself completely behind this Laker team, just to avoid the possibility of feeling the full pain of a loss.

  43. Wow, lots of people are making a big deal out of Kobe moving up the all-time regular season scoring ladder. I’m way more interested in Kobe marching up the all-time playoff scoring ladder. At this point, he is 935 points behind the leader, Michael Jordan of course. For some perspective, Kobe has posted totals of 633, 695, and 671 points in the playoffs the past three seasons.

    So even though Kobe has pretty much no shot at claiming the top spot on the regular season scoring ladder, he’s almost certain to retire as the top playoff scorer of all-time.

  44. Re: the earlier mentioned (lack of) fouls on Kobe, he usually gets his fair share of calls but he’s so vocal in his demands that some refs have turned a deaf ear over the years – Javie probably being one. The sandwich late in the game was especially egregious though – Kobe went to the floor hard and he was in obvious pain, had some difficulty peeling himself off. I was stunned when he didn’t go to the line. Does anyone know what got him t’d up? I’d normally assume an f-word or something but I watched the replay and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

  45. Adam,
    I was intrigued by your comment that Phil was “keeping him in his place”, with regards to AB.

    IMO that says a lot about both men. Phil seems to require a stable hierarchy to insure success and he will do all sorts of mind games to keep this in order. Unlike George Karl, he cannot handle chaos very well. Of course, when you have some of the best players who have ever played the game under your command it is easier to have a firm chain of command. Still I think this was part of the problem with handling Kobe during the time Shaq was here. It also would explain why he insists on a system offense.

    This isn’t a rant on Phil’s coaching, just an observation on his personality.

    In any case, I suspect Andrew Bynum will do better after Phil leaves. He will have learned all he can under Phil and will then be able to spread his enormous wings. Remember, Andrew came here as an inexperienced high school player with a rather mellow personality. He was put in his place as a rookie under Phil (lower than dogs***). He has had to function as the #5 player on the team – yes he is after Fish, because Fish is depended upon in crucial moments. If Kobe starts to decline, I suspect he will take the mantle away from Pau – certainly from Lamar – and become the dominant force on this team. He may always be a gentle giant, but so was Kareem – in a lot of ways.

  46. @31

    Those rebounding splits were based on only the last 11 games vs the Thunder. It was the focus on what to watch for in that big game. The season splits do show a similar trend but not to the same magnitude (only a 7% difference in defensive rebound rate instead of 16% for example).

  47. To reinforce and elaborate on what #46, Walter said, the reason those splits were based on only the 11 OKC games was due to concerns about noise. The author acknowledged that it’s hard to get a large enough sample size normally due to teams only playing each other a few times a year and the personnel changes that happen in between.

    In that article, the author thought it was a unque situation to be able to have a decent sample size while there was no significant personnel changes between the two teams. Between last year and this year’s regular seasons and playoff games, there was enough data to examine with minimal noised.

  48. 46, 47. Thanks.

  49. Personally, I can understand the cautious nature of fans not yet ready to fully believe in this team. I think we all have a sense of what’s possible and what’s not and in the past couple of years fans on both sides of the fence have been proven wrong (ie those that thought the Lakers turned a corner found a bad loss looming and those that thought the team couldn’t win found another deep playoff run).

    This is why I, personally, try to avoid feeling like any result is a sure thing. I think the Lakers are good enough to win but understand that other teams are too and the Lakers may end up falling short. There are no guarantees so I try to enjoy the season as best I can while (as Zephid notes) appreciating that the Lakers *are* as good as they are now. A loss in the end will hurt and I know that there’s a chamionship or bust mentality with the executives, coaches, and players. But I have the luxury of not being a member of those groups and I’ll try to appreciate everything that comes from this season, even if it ends in a loss. One of the most satisfying seasons for me was 2008 because the crush of that final loss to Boston was less than the joy of a deep run by a team that so many doubted when the year started.

    Obviously every year can’t be like that – where a team comes from no where to make a Finals run – but every year I do try to appreciate those seasons where the Lakers are one of the true 4-5 teams that can win a title because those are rare. At some point, that won’t be the case and these seasons will seem even more special regardless of the end result. Thus, I try to look at them that way *now* and appreciate what we really have.

  50. #47

    Exactly! That was one of the reason I wrote that article. I thought it presented a unique opportunity to look at match-ups without too many changing variables skewing things.

  51. Darius, good recap man.

    I think about this a lot. If kobe wins the ring this year and the finals mvp. then over the next 3 years he averages roughly 22ppg, 5rbs, 7assts (would expect his assists to go up if scoring goes down and if this group can 3 peat w ith him I see no reason he wouldn’t save himself even more next year and defer upping his assists) I really wish it was more incorporated into his game even now he can be more deadly if people know he’ll make the right play at the end. anyway. if those are his numbers He will pass michael Jordan all time in scoring eventually. for the next three seasons he plays 22, 7,5. and gets 2 more rings. 1 more finals mvp. Then decides at 35 he can play a few more years (which he can just not sure if he would) and prolongs his career by playing more of a rip hamilton/ray allen role where he spots up for 3s or comes off screens and averages about 15ppg 4rbs and 4assts per game for the next 3 seasons and somehow the lakers win one more ring that would put him at 8. Where would you rank him in terms of GOAT? personally I do feel that kobe has worn down a little, but sometimes I watch him and just think….man if he could take a year off. He could easily dominate this league again I just feel that he keeps going and that wears him out and his injuries are catching up to him. but people forget michael took a year off and he played in college. Kobe is a tank and I think its his most underrated quality. he’s going to be seen as a true warrior when its all said and done and if he chooses to prolong his career and in the end at 38 just be raining threes on people (he does have the most 3s in one game) I really feel that he could pass karl malone for sure and maybe even catch kareem. I just wish he could take that year to have all the surgeries and rest he needed and recover. what do you think? wouldn’t that be insane if kobe ended his career as the all time leading scorer, 2nd most in championships with 8, because nobody is ever catching russel…. he would be the greatest player of all time to me if he even got to 7 rings one more finals mvp and 2nd on the scoring list. I hate when people put larry bird and magic ahead of him. they are great players but people don’t understand they both played with multiple Hof players. that makes a difference. talent wise I would argue kobe is in the top 2 because i think michael jordan’s consistency is undeniable but he also played in a different era. for example if michael played the kind of defense he did back then he would get a lot of touch fouls, he didn’t have to go up against other star gaurds really in their prime. The league is so much more talented and athletic now it makes a difference. its all just fun to thinka bout.

  52. #42/Great points, Zephid. I’m also not targeting anyone specific but unfortunately in general terms there are a lot of Laker fans who don’t go “all in” or as you describe it are “half-assed”. Laker fans are spoiled. I think it’s inevitable that relatively successful franchises in all sports do have a contingent of band-wagon fans. They check-in or check-out depending on the success of the team. In my opinion we can’t compete with the fervor of Knicks, Thunder, Kings, Cavs or even Clipper fans just to name a few.

    #40/ Kaveh: I agree that Kobe doesn’t always make the right choice for the team but I can sometimes live with it because that’s what makes him the Black Mamba. He’s going for the jugular. He’ll definitely never be accused of being tentative. I think he’s matured of late to where he has improved over time but still has lapses. Overwhelmingly he does more good than harm so I can overlook this on occasion.
    JLV

  53. My personal approach to games is usually calibrated to the team’s potential and effort. If the team is playing to the best of their abilities, I can usually live with the results. If they are showing improvements even in defeat, then I can hope and enjoy. It’s when they don’t that and just mail it in I feel frustrated and find it hard to believe in them.

    This approach was crystallized for me after Magic retired. I knew those teams weren’t going to be championship contenders but as long as there was progress and growth, I was okay. I still enjoyed watching the early to mid 90′s Lakers because they competed hard and had players that were enjoyable to watch. By that same token, that’s why I couldn’t enjoy the 05 Lakers. So many guys who were not playing together or just mailing it in. Joyless exercise even when they won.

    There’s a lot of joy for me in watching a team become a team and playing for each other. If they do everything they can to try and reach their potential I as I fan can only enjoy and appreciate it.

  54. 42. Zephid,

    Well said.

    This team has only won two straight Chips, but still, people say things like “it’s going to take a few more games before my confidence in the team is restored completely.” Like the Lakers haven’t proven enough? Some fans still doubt them? Hello?! Anybody home?

    If one can’t keep faith and KNOW you’re team can/will win, then how can one really enjoy winning?