Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers/Spurs Reactions

Phillip Barnett —  March 7, 2011

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: It’s a stretch to say the Lakers have somehow been written off in the national conversation about this year’s NBA champion, not when seemingly every opposing player and coach, along with substantial portions of the media, consistently refer to them as the team to beat. Still, for much of the season, the “What’s Wrong With the Lakers?” drum has taken plenty of abuse. Happily enough for the purple and gold, the answer since the All-Star break has been “Not much.” Certainly not Sunday afternoon in San Antonio, when the Lakers went into AT&T Center, a building in which the Spurs have lost twice this season and not at all since November, and totally obliterated them to earn their seventh straight victory.

From Andrew McNeil, 48 Minutes of Hell: There was one sequence during the San Antonio Spurs’ 99-83 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, that gave a glimpse of what had been going on the entire afternoon. George Hill had the ball at the top of the 3-point arc and dribbled off a pick. He planted off his right foot and attacked the basket. Several Lakers defenders clogged the lane to prevent Hill from getting to the basket, so Hill fired off a pass from his chest to a cutting Spur. I’ve seen that pass maybe a hundred times this season and not once did I see it get smothered in arms as thoroughly as it was on Sunday afternoon. The Spurs spent the majority of the day fighting out from under and endless blanket, looking for a breath of fresh air, but Los Angeles provided none.

From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: There it is, amigos. The win we’ve been waiting and pleading for all season long. The crushing show of force that would set off air-raid sirens around the league, letting everyone know the champs were getting serious. The Spurs have been the class of the NBA through the first three quarters of the regular season, but this afternoon they were a little bug hovering in the breeze as the Laker windshield plowed through their airspace at 80 miles an hour. The 99 to 83 final score only hints at the one-sidedness on view at the AT&T Center. If you’d told me ahead of time that today’s game would be a rout, I frankly wouldn’t have guessed that the Lakers would be the routers and not the routees. Already this year, San Antonio had beaten the Lakers twice, and they came into this game having won 22 straight in their own gym

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: he home run the Lakers hit Sunday was a prodigious reminder of who remains the NBA’s clean-up hitter. The Lakers could not wipe out San Antonio’s 71/2-game lead on them in the standings in a single day, but their 99-83 rout showed what they could do on the Spurs’ home court in a potential playoff series and how potent the two-time defending champs can be. “We’re starting to understand,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of his players’ defensive focus. On offense, the Lakers scored on a stunning 12 consecutive possessions to turn an 8-8 tie into a 34-13 lead.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Before the game Phil Jackson mused about the San Antonio Spurs’ uncommon fortune with health this season and said: “They must have Jesus Christ working on their bench as a trainer.” The Spurs would’ve needed J.C. on the court to beat the Lakers on Sunday. It might just turn out that this was Jackson’s last trip to San Antonio, because anyone banking on the Spurs beating the Thunder in the potential 1-vs.-4 matchup in the Western Conference playoffs must think that San Antonio’s 40 percent 3-point success rate in the regular season automatically transfers over to postseason games. “They’re having a magical season,” Jackson said nicely enough before the game while still making it sound like people should pay no attention to that man Gregg Popovich behind the curtain.

From Elliot Teaford, LA Daily News: Andrew Bynum leaped for a rebound, then a dunk, then a blocked shot and then another rebound in the opening seconds of the Lakers’ showdown Sunday afternoon with the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Bynum set the tone in no uncertain terms, and the Lakers were well on their way to a 99-83 victory, their seventh in a row. They went on to score on 12 consecutive possessions during a 22-3 run en route to a 34-13 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Spurs (51-12) played as if they wanted to win the game, which was all well and good, but the Lakers (45-19) played as if they needed to win. The result was the Lakers’ first victory in three tries this season against the league-leading Spurs.

From Mike Monroe, Spurs Nation: In four seasons with the Spurs, from 1994-98, Chuck Person was renowned for one thing: Scoring, primarily from long range. His 190 3-pointers made and 463 attempted in 1995-96 stand as club records. Never was he known as a lock-down defender. Longtime Spurs fans will be surprised to discover Person has been tasked by Lakers coach Phil Jackson with helping the two-time defending NBA champions get their defense on track for the playoffs. Jackson credited the stifling defense the Lakers played against the Spurs in their 99-83 blowout victory at the AT&T Center on Sunday afternoon to Person drilling the Lakers on some new defensive principles during practice sessions that followed the All-Star break.

Phillip Barnett

Posts

28 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers/Spurs Reactions

  1. Look across the country at the cHEAT, and the real turmoil they are going through. Our team is gelling at the right time, and the team is finally playing with that singular purpose on defense (witness Bynum).

    That said, I don’t write off Popovich’s team. When he know it’s not their night (and it was about the end of the 1st when he probably realized it), he essentially waves the white flag. But maybe that’s why Phil kept the starters in at the end, to fire a warning shot at the bow of the sterling Spurs ship; this team is going to be coming at you with all this length all day.

    The more I look at it, I’m glad the FO didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline. The cHEAT jettison players like spare parts, which does wonders for your team’s chemistry. The Celts have added 4-5 players since the deadline, so it’ll be a chore to get them all incorporated. We get Barnes back and I’m loving how this team is coming together. And kudos to Bynum for his mindset of being Ben Wallace incarnate (i.e., getting 15+ boards even though scoring less than 10 points).

  2. These two quotes from Bynum in the second Ding article say it all:

    “I realized where I could be a huge help, and that’s on the defensive end of the basketball,” Bynum said. “Try and get every rebound. Try and block every shot.”

    “This team is going to win regardless if I get 15 points or if I get four points; that’s the kind of team we have,” Bynum said. “This team won’t win if we don’t have defensive toughness on the inside.”

    Heck yes, big fella!

  3. any_one_mouse March 7, 2011 at 9:46 am

    I think the Heat will be fine. They are losing a lot of close games, not getting blown out (except for the game against SA). If a couple of those last minute jumpers fall, we are talking a different story.

    San Antonio has had a good run so far. But they are old, undersized and far too dependent on outside shooting. They have been shooting amazingly well this year, but once the playoffs come around teams will do a better job of running their shooters off the 3pt line. Looks like Duncan is about done.

  4. TIMMAY needs his wheelchair!!

  5. @3

    I agree with you 100%. While the Spurs will be a tough opponent, they are not the Spurs of old. They are no longer the defensive juggernaut they were in years past. They are very reliant on three point shooting. And they play more of an outside/in game where they depend on dribble penetration vs. going to Tim in the post. Once Parker gets into the lane, teams collapse, and he kicks out shooters sitting on the perimeter. A great strategy is simply to let him score his points. Don’t help and don’t leave anyone on the three point line alone. It is better to have him score his two points on a floater than to have him pass to Bonner or Manu for a three pointer.

    The other thing is they are small up front. If Pau and Bynum are clicking the Spurs will have a very difficult time beating LA four times out of seven. LA’s trump card against every team is the one-two punch of Gasol and Bynum with a body blow in Lamar Odom for good measure. When those guys are on (and getting the ball) the Lakers are very difficult to beat.

    With that said, it is time to put this game behind us. It doesn’t get any easier from here. Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, and Orlando are all waiting. There is no time to gloat over the Spurs game.

  6. T. Rogers,

    Yep – I’m really looking forward to the rest of the games. Though racking up the wins is important, I’m more concerned about whether the defense stays consistent, and if the offense gets better.

  7. I feel like this loss could be a blessing in disguise for the Spurs. They have a lot of time to identify the adjustments they must make. Better to have this happen now than in Game 1 of the WCF.

    When I think about yesterday the first image that comes to mind is Matt Bonner holding the ball at the 3pt line, and Artest immediately bodying him up, pushing him out of his comfort zone, and forcing him to hit a driving runner. It’s intelligent plays like that are just as deserving of a fist pump and a roar of approval as Shannon’s one-handed dunk.

    As for the Heat, I feel people are being a little myopic. There are two problems here. Everyone talks about their inability to close games, but what about the pattern of losing leads and momentum?

    What I did find a bit ridiculous was Lebron telling his teammates that he would cease failing his team in big moments, as if that admission were a magical incantation that would instantly fix things.

    I know Steve Blake has gotten a lot of flak for his play, but his situation reminds me a lot of Lamar last year. Lamar never really got a lot of praise for the little things he did, like taking care of the ball and allowing the offense to flow through him.

    Blake is who he is. His primary job is to facilitate the flow of the offense and not turn the ball over.

    We didn’t get him for his defense. If anything, by being somewhat of a liability out there, it forces the Lakers to focus on defending as a unit.

    We expect Blake to hit his 3s, but we must also expect his teammates to create those opportunities for him. We knew going in Blake is there to spot-up from deep, not hit step-back jumpers or bomb from deep after a one-bounce dribble.

  8. Listening to Jon Barry this morning, I heard him say that Andrew Bynum would never be a #1 player in this league and the Lakers will need to get a #1 guy when Kobe retires/slows down.

    I think we should remind Mr. Barry that Andrew has spend almost his entire basketball life – he didn’t play that much in high school – with the Lakers in the NBA. He started out as the youngest player ever to play in an NBA game and remains so to this day.

    Andrew was molded by the Lakers to fit into Phil Jackson’s system and has known nothing else for the last 6 years.

    Andrew does not have a belligerent personality and people take this for his not being competitive – I remember another nonbelligerent person named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and I seem to remember his career turned out pretty well – oh, and John Wooden held him in check in a system for the four years he spent at UCLA.

    Andrew has tremendously soft hands, a very sweet shooting stroke, and superb footwork for a 23 year old – especially at the center position. He is also almost 290 and 7’1″, with very long arms.

    In a system with Kobe, Pau, and Lamar I don’t think we can say that he will not be a #1 option as he grows older. From his dominance in the middle, I would put my money on him being a pretty central figure, however, we will need a pass first PG to get him the ball after the triangle is done here.

  9. The great thing about this point in the season is that every game matters now. No one is catching San Antonio, but Boston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and Dallas are all in a scramble for seeding. It is shaping up to be a great post-season and it is starting in March.

    Also there are number of young teams that are exciting to watch in Chicago, Oklahoma City and (am I really saying this?) Memphis. Throw in the once again relevant Knicks and you couldn’t ask for more.

  10. The Lakers and Celtics are on course for an epic rematch.—Book It !!!!!!!!

  11. @7, chibi
    What amuses me is that Lebron has said that before, when he was playing in Cleveland. It didn’t help then. Will it help now? I don’t know… but I’m looking forward to seeing if the Heat ever manages to figure out how to play together. As the Friedman article someone (The Dude?) linked to in the previous thread pointed out, it’s been over half the season and they are still “trying to figure out” how to play together as a team.

    As you say, the pattern of losing big leads is one that should worry both Heat fans and coaches. You don’t win rings by slowing down and “switching off” in the third or fourth. And in a 7-game series, where the opponents can adjust from game to game and have plenty of time to prepare… I don’t think they’re going to be knocked out in the first or second round, or that anyone going up against them will have an easy opponent, but when all is said and done, I remain convinced that the road out of the East goes through Boston.

  12. I was very impressed with the way we beat down the Spurs yesterday, but I think it would be a mistake to get overconfident and think we couldn’t easily lose 3 or 4 straight like we’ve already shown this year.

    On another note, what has happened to Steve Blake’s jumpshot. He has to get his shot going cause we’re gonna need him in the playoffs.

  13. I can’t believe that Dwayne Wade has actually bought into the us against the world mentality. I understand that certain motivating factors like this work for brief periods of time (ie an underdog through a playoff run), but to keep that edge on you for the entire course of a season must really wear on a person.

    I also find it ironic that for a team of stars who did what’s best for their families and nobody else, they’re sure putting quite a bit of stock into what those other people are thinking.

    I could never imagine Kobe Bryant releasing such a statement, especially after our four game losing streak. Pity points don’t count on the scoreboard – I’m glad our guys understand that and have kept themselves positive throughout.

  14. @ Craig W

    Excellent post bro. Bynum needs to be what he is on this team. We are trying to win championships NOW not in the future (yet)!!! To overlook that fact can result in missing the opportunity that is before us now. Let Bynum grow into the scoring beast when Kobe retires. What he is now is what the Lakers need: A defensve presence.

  15. I’m loving Bynum’s maturation. I’m glad he’s bought into being a defensive presence over scoring. As the years go by his scoring will increase and his defense will keep getting better, as well. With this kind of maturity I think the Lakers’ championship window will remain open for the next couple of years. That is awesome!!!

  16. Bynum’s strengths are his defense and rebounding, not offense. I think the last time he complained about not getting the ball, he did nothing against Cleveland (Is there anyone over 6-9 on their squad? Do they even have a center?) Bynum has shown that he can score, but I think the defensive effort we’ve seen against the Spurs is what we need. Bynum doesn’t set strong picks on the offensive end, which is too bad. A pick and roll with a 7 footer is pretty easy, especially if the center understands the footwork. Unlike Kareen, Bynum is not always a threat when he posts up, in part because he can take a looong time to get position. I never understood trading him, but the offensive end needs work.

  17. I’m in agreement about Bynum’s newfound maturation, but at the end of the day, no one questions his ability, just his health and shaky knees.

    We’ve never had the pleasure of utilizing a 100% healthy Bynum (I think this may be an oxymoron) in the playoffs, and the past two years, we have won championships with a hobbled Bynum.

    I know the question has been tabled somewhat by the facts on the ground (or court), but will we see Bynum ever closing out games this year?

  18. 10. Stephen. I don’t know. That was my prediction at the beginning of the season, but Chicago has looked really good while missing key players during different stretches of the season (Boozer then Noah). Plus I would have to say that Rose would be my vote for MVP. They are only 3 games back from Boston and if they end up with the best record in the east they will be hard to beat. Imagine if they had a decent SG?

  19. DY,
    Your question on Bynum closing out games is shared by some of the rest of us. However, I think Phil has shown his hand – that he is afraid of Andrew getting injured – and he is both limiting his minutes and not putting him in the end-game situations because he doesn’t want to lose his closing rotation at or near the playoffs.

    This is, after all, Phil’s last roundup and I suspect he really wants to go out on top – ala John Elway.

  20. @ Ryan—Good point!!! — No question that at this time the Bulls are the biggest threat to the Celtics getting out of the East. Yes–Rose is the MVP. Miami and Orlando have dropped back from the pack. If Chicago finished with the best record in the East there is at least a chance of knocking off Boston– but I doubt it. If Boston finishes with the # 1 seed– forget about it. Boston goes to the finals. Too deep—too much experience.

  21. 19. Craig W., I hear you. One day, the young cub known as Bynum will curiously ask Papa Phil why it is he who is on the bench during crunch time.

    Wonder what ‘clicked’ in Bynum’s mindset, or is this just a game-to-game thing. Remember, he recently questioned how many touches he was getting.

    I guess Fisher is fine from his injury, but given his age, he should be careful (though his Iron Man streak may be on his mind). Also, Barnes looked a bit rusty but great to have him back. I did notice a little lack of explosiveness, but I guess that may be a result of his torn MCL.

  22. Re: Bynum Defensive Mentality

    I disagree with most people on this site, Andrew hasn’t changed his mindset… He just has finally got in shape and started to regain his athleticism. That is why his defense and rebounding and returned to his old form. Bynum has done this the previous three seasons when healthy.

  23. aaron- he had done that in previous years…when he got fed on O. What people are noting as a shift (as stated by Drew himself) is that he doesn’t need to be fed on O in order to protect the paint and dominate the boards.

    That is a big shift in mind-set and in my opinion another example of Phil’s greatness. The idea of role players and every player….from Kobe to Luke, having a role they need to play. Drew acknowledges his role and that is great to hear.

  24. 24, Luke’s role: bench.

  25. chicago’s greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. derrick rose is the engine that drives their team. while they can survive many of his coldsnaps because of their stout defense, he is vital to their championship aspirations.

    remember what denver did to chris paul a couple of years ago? aggressively trapping him, beating him up by making him defend screenroll, and knocking him to the ground at every opportunity? Rose is going to receive that kind of treatment. The question then becomes who’s going to step up for the Bulls?

  26. You just get the feeling that when all the chips are on the table, the Lakers and the Celtics are still the 2 teams with the talent, drive, depth, and cerebral capacity to get to the finals, even with the league being about 7 or 8 teams deep with real contenders. Since the KG and Pau trades in 2008, the Lakers and Celtics have been the only 2 teams that have walked the walk when it really matters.

    For Drew, I’m excited he’s playing as well as he is on defense. He’s had a great year in terms of not having setbacks with his health, and he has slowly progressed to where he’s at now. It may be true that he’s injury prone, but it’s still true that he’s young. Sometimes part of learning the game is learning how to avoid big injuries through body preparation, finding the right exercise and therapy program, and generally knowing when not to leap. Let’s hope he’s figuring that out, too.

  27. @ aaron i think what people are pointing to are the comments bynum made where he just feels he focuses on defense more than offense. This is the first time I can remember where he just cared about defense without worrying about O.