The Roller Coaster Is At Its Low Point

Darius Soriano —  May 6, 2011

Here at FB&G we’ve always talked about the peaks and valleys of a season. How you have to enjoy the ride and appreciate the wins rather than expect them.

Right now, I think it’s fair to say that no one is enjoying this part of the ride as we’ve entered the deepest and darkest valley of our long journey as fans of this team.

After losing 98-92 to fall behind 3-0 in this series, the Lakers are now in a position that no NBA team has ever come back from; a place where past championship experience and pedigree mean little. It’s a tough place to be in as a fan of a team we’ve expected so much from, but here we are anyway.

As for the game itself, I thought commenter JM did a good job of summarizing the general good and bad that we saw from the Lakers:

What I did not like:
– Gasol. I can’t explain what happened to him along the way, but I am disappointed and frustrated with him, as I’m sure many also are.

– Instances of weak defensive rotations gave Dallas ample opportunities for wide open spot-up 3’s. Nowitzki had plenty of open looks, and he made us pay, as expected. The Mavericks shot 41.4% as a team. Although most of the makes (6) were in the first quarter before the Lakers made adjustments, the defense was still not good enough.

– Rebounding: Oftentimes, the players who were not in the paint simply stood and watched the trajectory of the ball, as opposed to putting themselves on a body or extending their arms to block out. This might have gone unnoticed due to the fact that the interior rebounders often ran and got to the ball before the unchecked Dallas players.

– The Lakers stopped going to Drew in the second half. Bynum scored seven points (of his 21) in the second half on three buckets and a free throw. He was 3 of 5 in the second half. The last miss by Drew? 11:42 left in the fourth quarter.

– Peja scored the same amount of points as our entire bench. That is unacceptable. Conversely, Odom did not continuously attack Stojakovic in the post, often dribbling out the clock and settling with a jump shot. At one point, Kobe clearly yelled at LO, “Get in the effin’ post! Post his ass up!” Lamar should have exclusively operated in the post on Marion and Peja. They can’t stop him.

What I did like:
– Phil Jackson finally showing some fire that I had never seen before.

– Bynum. The single positive I took from this game. Drew showed determination, perseverance, patience, and effort. You can’t ask for more than that. I thought he played great, it’s just unfortunate that the Lakers decided to stray from the first half game plan.

– The bench. I thought they played reasonably well. Blake showed his patented patience and discipline to run the Triangle. Shannon cut down on his bonehead plays and helped contribute offensively. Barnes led the Lakers with a +4; the only Laker not in the negative.

– The Black Mamba played within the offense, all the while setting up his teammates. Offensively, the Mamba scored with great efficiency, making 8 of 12 at one point.

In adding to that, I thought Lamar Odom’s play was also a key to this game in both positive and negative ways. In the first half his size was a great bonus as a help defender in the paint and as a rebounder. Whenever the Mavericks ran a P&R, it was Odom that was leaving Marion to clog up the middle of the floor to limit the penetration that often opens up shooters. Offensively, Odom got involved in a lot of P&R’s as a screener and used his agility to make catches on the move and either finish in the paint or move the ball on to an open teammate. I also thought his patience as both a post entry passer and a post up player helped the Lakers control the tempo and helped them take the lead. These were the benefits of having a power forward play small forward. He was simply great.

However, in the 2nd half and especially in the 4th quarter, the Mavs started to take advantage of Odom being a PF playing SF. Rather than leave the ineffective Shawn Marion on the floor, the Mavs went to Peja to space the floor. The Mavs then did a great job of isolating Dirk and Terry so that they could attack the Laker defense. This attacking preyed on Odom’s penchant for helping off his man and it left Peja open for shots that he knocked down to close the gap. After the Mavs were able to get the game close, they then continued their masterful run of top notch execution to stave off the Lakers.

What was also damaging, of course, was the Lakers inability to run their own offense down the stretch. I thought a key sequence was when Gasol hit a basket and drew a charge on back to back plays and then the Lakers tried to milk that momentum by going back to him on multiple possessions. Meanwhile, Bynum (who had been playing great the entire game) was ignored on offense and the ball got stuck on one side of the floor against a stacked up defense. This led to the shot clock winding down and the Lakers unable to generate good shots. It’s trend that we’ve seen countless times this year but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with (or comprehend) when such an important game is lost because of it.

All that said, this series isn’t technically over. In Kobe’s post game presser he basically invited reporters to call him crazy and said that he’s still of the mindset that the Lakers can win this series. While I think we’d all agree that’s a far fetched idea, I’m looking forward to Sunday’s game in the hopes that the Lakers can get a win and bring the series back to Los Angeles. Not because I see some miraculous comeback on the horizon, but because I’d love for just a few more days of Laker basketball. You see, I love this team (especially the core guys) and I’ll support them until the series is actually over. Again, I’ll let JM take it from here:

You know what?

I’m sticking it out with the Lakers until the bloody end.

I don’t care that a comeback is a statistical improbability. I don’t care that we would have to win four in a row, including two in Dallas, to avoid defeat. I don’t care that the bandwagoners have begun their exit, that the “analysts” have already written us off, or the fact that the Lakers played as well as they could, within their odd limitations, and still lost.

I know it hurts like s***. Trust me, I’m feeling it. But I’m not going to take the easy way out, accepting resignation in hopes of preventing further disappointment and heartache. I’m going to gut it out.

Until. The. Bloody. End.

Darius Soriano

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81 responses to The Roller Coaster Is At Its Low Point

  1. That is a nice sentiment, but I will be very surprised if the Lakers show up Sunday.

    I think all of them except Bynum have had enough, so to speak.

    I don’t mean this in a mean-spirited way, but as I and some others have noted, if they lost tonight, as they did, almost all signs point to an ugly loss on Sunday–something like 100-85.

  2. The dirty secret? The elephant in the room?

    Kobe has been as competitive and consistent as anyone from either team this series, but, we have won, are winning (though not now, for precisely this reason) and will win because of one main factor: OUR SIZE. Therefore, while we don’t necessarily need Kobe’s “closing”, what we DO NEED is continuous and consistent execution of getting the ball inside — particularly to Bynum.

    The 4th quarter failures we’ve witnessed has a major correlation with the exclusion Andrew Bynum from the offense (though the P&R defense has been just as bad). Is this because Kobe would rather lose trying to close down the 4th quarter than consistently and purposefully playing through Bynum throughout the whole game?

    I think this series is exposing the fact that, as great a closer and player Kobe is, Dirk has shown to be every bit as ruthless, clutch and even more unguardable as Kobe Bean. So while Dirk and the Mavs are good enough to win whether Dirk carries the load or he shares the load with other teammates stepping up (a la Barea Game 2, Peja tonight), the question is whether Kobe and the rest of our Lakers are good enough to win whether Kobe’s the only one to step up or whether Kobe facilitates and needs other teammates (other than Drew) to step up.

    But, to be blunt, choosing not to play through Bynum down the stretch, is like deciding to climb a mountain without any equipment. It can be done, but 9 times out of 10, it ends up being fatal.

  3. As angry and disappointed as I am of what this team and Gasol has become I also thanks them for winning the past few years. The signs of slipping were all there andvI still blame Mitch for not making this team younger and more athletic. Fisher is a great guy but should not have remained a starter. Blake, Barnes, Ratliff and Joe Smith were a downgrade from Binga, Powell, Farmer and
    even Sasha. The rest if the west got better and the Lakers just got older. I can
    only hope for some big changes next year and some younger smarter players in Kobe last few seasons. Thanks for the memories!

  4. It feels horrible.

    But as JM said, I’m sticking it out with the Lakers until the bloody end.

  5. Yeah it hurts alright. What hurts the most is that everyone knows why we lost the lead, not going into Bynum, and it was so predictable.

    If everyone on the comment boards, everyone watching on TV, and even the opposing team know what we should be doing, why don’t the Lakers do it? Can anyone answer that question? Is this Bynum’s fault for not demanding it? Kobe’s for not making Bynum set up in the post and then feeding him? Odom’s for taking jumpers over Peja/Marion instead of backing them down and demanding a double that would have freed Andrew for easy buckets?

    All of these plays work. I have seen them work, know how to run them and have never been a coach on any team in my life. Why can’t the Lakers set up and run these plays that are obviously best for their success?

    I am sorry if this sounds stupid but I just don’t get it. And I do know there is another team there playing defense. I did not see the Lakers trying and failing to do what they wanted, they didn’t seem to run these plays/sets when they could have and should have.

  6. Jeff Fogle at HoopData has made a big deal of Kobe not getting to the line.

  7. I like the fact that the Lakers showed up to play hard tonight (which I expected). Really disappointed with the outcome, especially since we had such a great chance to win.

    Overall, I think this game is a darn good microcosm of this 2010-11 version of the Lakers.

    – We get a lead and then quit doing the things that got us that lead in the first place.

    – Don’t continue pounding the ball into the paint, especially ignoring Drew when playing well.

    – Bench being outplayed.

    – Too much iso, not enough player and ball movement.

    – But most emblamatic of all, really poor execution down the stretch on both offense and defense. Last year we got all the stops we needed on defense, this year not only don’t we get stops but more often than not the opponent gets *good/great* looks at the hoop. On offense too much standing and watching Kobe (which killed us in 2008 against Boston, but we’d figured out the last couple of years).

    I’ll be watching on Sunday, and even though my brain says the Lakers are done, my heart can’t believe that yet (My heart still thought the Lakers had a chance after both Magic and Byron tore their hammies against Detroit!) If the Lakers lose, go down fighting, not like they did in 2008.

    You hear all the time, in all sports, that each season is a different animal, even if the team has the same players. That’s been especially true this year as the 2010-11 Lakers despite having basically the same guys are/were a very different team in important ways than last years team. If I’m about to be hyperbolic, I think it’s only slightly, but in *relative* terms this 2010-11 Laker team exhibited a much lower BBIQ than last year, for all the reasons mentioned above.

    Darius, at some point in the future I’d like you, and other high IQ basketball people around here, to give me your best judgment as to *why* this Laker team was so subpar in late game execution. Usually that’s a strength for veteran teams like the Lakers, but was a major weakness for this team, this year. *Really* hard to understand.

  8. Well said, JM.

    I, too, was a little bit shocked at the fire Phil showed, actually hitting Pau in the chest at one point. I did enjoy the change. Too often Phil has sat smiling on the bench as the ship sinks, and we forget he’s as competitive as they come. I don’t blame him for tonight one bit. If this is the last run for the GOAT, I’m not going to snipe at him as he goes out. Phil took a late 90s Lakers team that broke my heart year after year, and turned them into something special.

  9. Why not stay to the bloody end? It’s not going to be that long. A team that was going to win the championship would have won games 1 and 3. But if you’ve got two straight championships in the bag you’re playing with house money. Mustn’t be greedy. Boston has to be satisfied with just one.

    This series has been demonstrating something we’ve been seeing all year, which is that the Lakers really ought to have somebody who hits the three point shot as a profession rather than as a hobby.

    And here’s a zen koan to take with you into the strike: If you have an offense that works when you stay in it but players have a hard time staying in it, is that really an offense that works?

  10. “the switch” May 6, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    do you think now is the time to flip me?

  11. Sunday’s mantra: for Phil! Don’t let it end with a sweep for our Captain. I can’t see phil jax coaching again after this team. Very sad.

  12. #9 Robert Fiore: “And here’s a zen koan to take with you into the strike: If you have an offense that works when you stay in it but players have a hard time staying in it, is that really an offense that works?”

    There’s a lot of wisdom in that. The triangle has brought the Lakers championships and given the team a focus. BUT if you’re not going to run your offense down the stretch of close games what good has it done you. When you’re a championship contender the regular season in a lot of ways is your ‘pre-season’. It’s where you develop the habits that you’ll use to win in the post-season. Maybe the Lakers would have been better in late-game execution if they’d been practicing one offense for the entire game, rather than two. Of course, this is also an argument for just continuing to run the triangle at end of games. :)

  13. Let’s not point our fingers at Kobe Bean,shall we?He has been the staple for this beautiful 4 year plus run.The only thing is, he has been Sternized by the refs for about six years now.He just cannot buy a call while Wade and Bron are enjoying 15 FT nights regularly.

  14. 10 – nope.

    Lights out.

  15. @Nimble It doesn’t help that Kobe has been settling for jumpshots.

  16. This series really just reminds me of the year the 2003 Lakers ran into the Spurs, going for their 4th straight title.

    Everyone thought they could just flip the switch as usual, but they simply just ran into a better team and there was nothing they could do to stop the inevitable.

  17. I’m a long-time season ticket holder (300’s) and I hate to say it, but we’re done and probably by this Sunday. All season we’ve seen the Lakers abandon Drew, their strong inside game in the 4th Q, and ball movement in favor of stagnant iso play. Is that really going to suddenly change in the 92nd game of the season? All second-half of the season we’ve heard Pau Gasol admit he needs to play more aggressively but, except for a few Black Swan moments, he hasn’t. Is that really going to suddenly change in the 92nd game of the season? For the last 3/4 of the season, we’ve seen inane and incompetent play from the bench. Is that really going to suddenly change in the 92ng game of the season.

    How the Lakers are playing now — ineffectively, foolishly, selfishly — is the byproduct of 91 prior games of bad habits and poor execution, neither of which is going to change by Sunday. I’m obviously still a passionate fan, but I haven’t seen anything to indicate history is going to be made by the Lakers in this series.

    Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but the front office certainly has to bare some of the responsibility for our ineptitude. I didn’t have an issue with our trading Sasha since he wasn’t even getting on the court, but I do hold Mitch and ownership accountable for simply taking salary cap relief in return rather than basketball assets. Additionally, Peja Stojakovic was equally available to the Lakers at the trade deadline as he was the Mavs. Given our woefully deficiently perimeter shooting all season, why didn’t we try to upgrade like Cuban did? While it’s hard to be overly critical in light of the fact that the Buss family is maintaining the highest payroll in the NBA, if you are going to do so, you need to be “all in.” And by not upgrading at the trade deadline with a nice complimentary piece or two like the Mavs did, we were penny wise but pound foolish.

  18. @17

    Can you really say that? Buss has had the highest or close to the highest payroll in the league for a few years now. He clearly he has dived in with both feet. One reason the Lakers couldn’t just pick up players as easily as other teams is the Triangle. Ron Artest still can’t run in it correctly and he played in prior to coming to LA and has been here for almost two years. Pau Gasol was really a special case. Most NBA players are not as cerebral as he is. They won’t pick up the Triangle fast enough and won’t be of much use. For this reason LA can’t just snatch up any players available. The players have to actually fit. That was why everyone was so high on Blake at the beginning of the season.

    I can’t be upset with Mitch. He is not a wizard waving a wand. He had very real financial limitations last summer. Barnes and Blake were good pick ups for the money Mitch was working with. It just didn’t work out. And sometimes its like that.

    I am just as disappointed as everyone else. But there are 29 others teams. The Lakers are not winning the title every year. Its times like this I am glad the Lakers have proven, committed ownership. The purple and gold will rise again.

  19. I personally think the 4th quarter dysfunctional offense has a lot to do with Kobe going into iso “hero mode.” But, I appreciate him for what he’s done for the Lakers franchise. I think this is the end of an era. RIP

  20. I’ll be watching on Sunday if only because it might be the last game that actually counts for the Lakers until end of October–just about six months w/o Lakers basketball!

    No doubt, there will be endless–overwhelmingly mindless–speculation and a lot of “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” and the tiresome throwing of the players, coaching staff and front office under the bus but that’s not nearly as entertaining as screaming, cheering and actually watching basketball.

    Darius and JM thank you for an insightful and thoughtful post at a time when thoughtfulness and perspective is shipwrecked in a sea of facile condemnation and schizophrenic vilification among the peanut shells of bandwagoners and hard-cores alike.

    I’ll cook Mother’s Day dinner for my 66 year-old mother, who turns 67 on Tuesday, and for my two sisters while huffing and puffing my way through Sunday’s game (trying to enjoy it)–even if it turns out to be the last one this once promising season.

    May the Lakers fight and earn their way back into this series…or got out with a bang and not a whimper. Salud! Cheers!

  21. I doubt the Lakers roll this one over on Sunday.

    With Artest back there is another wrinkle that the Mavs have to deal with – the Lakers don’t have to play Matt Barnes. Since his injury his jumper has been super-flat and he hasn’t been nearly as aggressive at the boards. Expect to see more of the Lakers BIG lineup in the next game.

    And then, I would expect the Super Big as well (Kobe 1, Artest 2, Odom 3, Pau 4, Bynum 5), as if they run the Kobe Pau pick and roll then, Dallas will not be able to cross match.

    Lakers lost this game on the defensive end, and now theyve got to win 1 (cant win four at once), to extend their season and bring it home to Staples.

    Win 1 and we bring it home. Win 2 and pressure suddenly is on the Mavs to close in 6. The Mavs have been playing with almost no pressure on their backs all season (or really since 2007 GSW).

    Just gotta win one game at a time. Maybe in the next game, going into the fourth, maybe not play the subs the first SIX minutes……

    Also, Kobe’s legs were dead at the end of the game tonight, which is why I think instead of Odom/Gasol at the end Shannon should have been in. He was crashing the boards like crazy (same as Odom and Gasol), and was really bothering Terry on dribble penetration.

    The Lakers are playing with 1 guy on the court in the last 4 minutes that is any good at penetrating, and Dallas is sagging into the paint daring Odom to shoot threes.

  22. Numbers:

    The Lakers outscored Dallas 56-20 in the paint.

    For the series, 3s:

    DALLAS 29/74
    LAKERS 10/52

    For Game 3:

    DALLAS 12/29
    LAKERS 3/13

    FTS

    DALLAS 24/29
    LAKERS 11/14

  23. haha- nice to see you’re still pumped Darius. We should win game 4 and 5, I agree with Kobe. Game 6 is going to be the toughest though if we have any shot left.

    http://25twofour.com/2011/05/07/where-do-kobe-bryant-and-the-los-angeles-lakers-go-from-here/#more-1456

  24. I don’t care about the “probability” either. History is never made until it has a chance to be made. If… when the Lakers pull this off, it will be the sweetest frosting on a cake 3 years in the making.

    As a sidenote, I haven’t commented on this site in almost a year (even though I read daily), but tonight I wanted to go somewhere that felt comfortable. I love this site.

  25. For all the talk about the Lakers being so “OLD”… has anybody noticed that Dallas isn’t exactly a bunch of spring chickens themselves???

    J. KIDD IS 38!!
    STOYAKOVICH IS 33!!
    TERRY IS 33!!
    MARION IS 33!!
    NOWITZKI IS 32!!

    THey are actually older than the Lakers!!!
    But the truth is they’ve figured out how to beat this team and they want it more!!
    They are simply outplaying the Lakers, and that includes K. Bryant not matching Nowitzki (never thought I would actually live to see Kobe Bryant getting outplayed by him!!

    hard times.

  26. Lakers need to just focus to win game on sunday thats all. they should not worry about winning 4 straight. lets just win on sunday and you can build from there.

  27. “Bench being outplayed”

    Do we watch the same games?

    Bynum -9
    Gasol -7
    Kobe/Fish -6
    Lamar -1
    Barnes +4
    Blake -2
    Brown -1
    Smith -2

    Tonight, the bench began the 4th with a 6 PT lead, 72-66. Gasol came in for Odom and Kobe came in for Barnes at the 7:35 mark. 79-71. Fisher and Lamar then came in for Brown and Blake at the 5:35 mark. 83-78.

    Next:

    “Peja scored the same amount of points as our entire bench. That is unacceptable. Conversely, Odom did not continuously attack Stojakovic in the post, often dribbling out the clock and settling with a jump shot. At one point, Kobe clearly yelled at LO, “Get in the effin’ post! Post his ass up!” Lamar should have exclusively operated in the post on Marion and Peja. They can’t stop him.”

    Did you forget that Lamar started tonight? So please, exercise your brain and compare like with like.

    In any event, Lamar: 8-16, 2nd highest scorer (tied with Kobe) and a -1 over 42 minutes, the most played. See the above again for the other starters’ +/-. And for Lamar to post Peja and Marion “continuously”, one of Bynum or Gasol need clear the area, or else we will need a shoehorn to separate all the players down low.

    Next, the game was lost here:

    4:01 Pau misses jump shot 87-81
    Peja makes 3 PT
    3:24 Kobe TO
    3:23 Kobe foul
    Kidd makes 2 FT
    2:57 Kobe misses jump shot
    2:40 Bynum foul on Dirk
    Dirk makes 2 FT 87-88

    Lastly:

    “This attacking preyed on Odom’s penchant for helping off his man and it left Peja open for shots that he knocked down to close the gap.”

    Jaysus, lad, Peja hit 3 threes in the 4th, 1 while Lamar was on the bench. And the gap Peja closed was three points on Lamar, as Peja’s first three was early in the 4th, and by the time Lamar was subbed out, as noted above, at the 7:35 mark, the bench had managed to extend the lead by 2 PT from end of the 3rd. So a single shot, and not “shots”. And so you well and truly get the point, when Peja was busy scoring 5 of his 11 in the 4th early in the 4th, Gasol was on the bench, so Lamar was PF and Barnes was the SF with responsibility for Peja. After those 5, then came the 3 PT while Lamar was riding the pine. Then the 1 3PT when Peja was Lamar’s responsibility. Oh, and JM, when Lamar was in and Gasol out, Dirk was on Lamar and so he would have to post up Dirk (Marion didn’t otherwise enter the game in the 4th until there was a whopping 0:18 left). So, Darius, you might want to rework that one paragraph, as the premise therein is a fail. A single 3 PT doesn’t speak much to the PF playing SF. And JM might want to ask how Lamar posts up Marion and Peja when Dirk is on him. And so the record, or the play by play, is clear, as crystal, 3rd quarter for Lamar: makes 4 foot shot, makes driving layup. 2nd quarter: makes 6 foot shot, makes 1 foot shot. 1st quarter: makes 2 PT shot, makes tip in, makes 1 foot shot. So he did what some wanted when he had the advantage. Then went 1-2 in the 4th after he came back in and Peja was on him, one a 4 footer and the other that wretched 6 footer.

    I would suggest a substitute paragraph, to wit, ’round about the same time that Lamar got caught pinching in, Kobe bricked, then turned it over, and then committed the shooting foul. You might also want to address how the pathetic guard defense is even more exposed the further Kobe slides towards defensive mediocrity, what with Terry going 7-10 (2-4) and 7-8. Lucky for the team, Kidd went for a pathetic 3-12 or else it wouldn’t have been as close as it was.

    Sorry, one more. I get the failed bench, but the main stories are Pau being intimidated by Nowitizi, who has never been known as an intimidating presence (and it is intimidated and not mental fatigue) and, second, with Kobe’s continued defensive decline, the poor guard defense is ever the more exposed. You can add as a bonus, the notion that the base premise of the Triangle is that the ball moves faster through the air than on the ground and so with a good passing team like the Mavs, how could we ever hope to not have rotation problems if we have to “help” on the double-team or the penetration?

    And, Darius, I love the site, so keep that in mind. But word of advice from lawyer me, to wit, if you assert a proposition, make sure you’ve the facts in support. I agree, one bad play on Peja there. But that was it. I am not so much defending Lamar as I am the attempt to use our 3 bigs at the same time. Been waiting for this for a while now. If we had a younger Kobe and Fish, the team would be unstoppable with that lineup. And I can’t really say how declined Kobe’s defense is, since I tend to think that he just does not approach the matchups with the same intensity, unless it’s against a Wade. But I know that Terry doesn’t torch the team when it was younger Kobe. And for a bonus add on, while I love Fish as well, let us not pretend that his whole reason for being on the team is to give us the big moment come the post-season. The Fates made sure it was more even career wise, and so that ridiculous foul on Terry on the sideline and then that wretched pass to Lamar, back to back, and game over. And unless The Fates are feeling truly generous, season over as well.

  28. well this is it….still hoping lakers will create a miracle and break the odds that no sports team has ever done before…four straight win??? WHY NOT??? Go Lakers!!!

  29. I’m a fan of NBA basketball and my favorite team is the Los Amgeles Lakers. I’m looking forward to Sundays game not just because I want to see one last Lakers game before the season ends but because I have an unwavering believe in my supreme knowledge of the NBA game. You see… I believe that talent always wins out in a seven game series and I know the Lakers have the most talent. There hasn’t been a team with more healthy talent to lose a series since I have been alive and I don’t think it’s going to change now.

    I think there is a reason coach Dave Miller is working on the radio… The guy for a coach is pretty dumb. But you can learn anything from anybody and what he said tonight really struck me. When a caller phoned in complaining about then lack of touches Bynum got in the fourth quarter Dave Miller said the following… “Basketball is about habits. The Lakers throughout the entire season have neglected to fead their big men in the post. You can force yourself to live a certain way for a certain amount of time… But eventually you’re going to go back to what you’ve always done.”. That line about habits and basketball couldn’t be more true. To that effect I blame the coaching staff. For most of it actually on many levels. The reason it wasn’t a habit to get the ball down low is because Phil hasn’t pushed it until the playoffs. More over… Phil wanted the team to throw the ball down low into Bynum the last five minutes of the most important game of the season? Maybe the team would have more confidence in doing so if Bynum was even on the court the last five minutes of even three games the entire year? It took Phil till the third game of the western conference semi finals down 2-0 to finally care enough about winning to have Andrew on the floor in crunch time. Nice coach Jackson. Maybe if he cared enough throughout the year to have Bynum on the floor in winning time the rest of the Lakers would be more comfortable throwing him the ball with the season on the line. Maybe if he was on the floor down the stretch the Lakers would be up 2-0 heading into the fourth quarter of tonight’s game?

    I won’t recap the season until the season is over. I will say I’m very proud of the way Andrew played. People speakmof Fisher and Kobe being the leaders of the team. But when it came down to playoff time it was the 23 year old kid who called everyone out… And it was the 23 year old kid who put a grown man whooping on the Dallas Mavricks. It was that 23 year old kid who was barking orders on defense amd demanding the ball on offense. If the Lakers have to move on without an aging Kobe Bryant in the not too distant future they have a pretty great guy with a nice post game to help lead the way.

  30. Bye Pau. Thanks for the two rings.

    Hi Dwight :D

  31. The day they saved a few bucks and let Ariza go, the dynasty is destined to end if not for all the lucky bounces of 2010 playoff that prolonged the inevitable. Let the second most athletic player go and keep all those ” can’t shoot, move slow” players, the GM has a lot of explanations to do.

  32. Renato Afonso May 7, 2011 at 4:12 am

    The problems with against the Mavs are really easy to fix but we seem not to understand them at all…

    a) Keep feeding the ball to Bynum. He is playing like a beast.
    b) Kobe was right with LO. Post Peja and MAtrix. They can’t guard him. Too bad we can’t expect consistency from him.
    c) Bitchslap Gasol! In the first quarter, at a certain point, the Lakers could’ve open up the game to a double digit lead and it was Gasol’s fault we didn’t. Dirk went 3-for-3 from 3-pt range because Gasol simply abandoned his man to help on a Jason Kidd penetration. This is absurd and at no point I can understand how an NBA player commits such a mistake. Nowitzki is as good as it gets and you give him 6-feet? Of course he knocked down those shots. He was wide open!!!!

    For all the things people say about the Lakers, I really think we played an ok until the 4th quarter, but two people simply faultered when it mattered more. LO and Gasol. And I won’t even speak about Gasol’s offensive game, which still makes me cringe in my seat. I stayed up until after 5am (GMT) to watch them commit mistakes that I don’t see on U-18 teams… Seriously…

    That being said, I still think we’re going back to Dallas for game 6 at least, and then we’ll see what happens…

  33. My version of Zen involves lambasting the shit out of this team now on Twitter (living in the moment) and appreciating what they’ve done when the season is over.

  34. You can’t blame this game on the refs….but wow. For a long stretch of the game they were calling phantom or ticky tacky things on us while we got pounded on the other end. Particularly with Jason Kidd. He was fouling the hell out of Kobe NON F’ING STOP on post ups/drives/anything and allowed to do it too.

    Gasol. Wow. Just wow. You know that one friend you have that you probably shouldn’t be friends with anymore? The guy that stole a girl or two from you. The guy who owes you money etc. Well you’re still friends with him because you’ve been through a lot of sh!t and you know KNOW when it really really matters, he’ll be there for you. That’s what Pau has been since losing to Boston. Sure he’d play like his vagina was bleeding like a stuck pig half the time, but when the playoffs came around….he played tough, mentally and physically, and played intelligent defense and scoring efficiently. This post season has been a disaster. You can talk about how he just holds the ball on offense for what seems like an eternity. Or taking fall away 15 footers for no reason. But where I am most disappointed is these 2 things.

    1. His pathetic showing offensively gave Dirk almost complete pass on defense. Pau would just take the easiest way out with a long jumper or pass it out. The absolute only way to slow Dirk down is to pound his ass on defense and wear him down. Pau was a JOKE.

    2. How many times in the series (none the less the 1st quarter of Game 3) has Pau just 100% LEFT Dirk to guard air? 30? 40? Who even knows. If you watch the replays you can’t believe what you’re seeing. Pau just turns his back and doesn’t pay attention to him. He’s not helping or hedging, he’s just literally walking away for no reason. That is so fuking inexcusable it’s ridiculous. How can you let one of the best shooters in the history of the league just sit at his spots without even paying attention? I can’t fathom what is his problem

    Fisher has looked for his shot WAY WAY WAY too much when the inside play is working. And add in his bad TO and otherworldy stupid foul on Terry and it was hard to stomach.

    I don’t remember a single Lamar jump shot falling so far in this series. Yet he continues to take long 2’s out of the offense with 6’6 guys on him. Peja wouldn’t be able to stop a post up or any slash to the rim and he bailed him out OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Not bringing in Fisher’s pass at the end and the possession where he dribbled the clock out and then passed it to Kobe at the top of the key 30 ft out with 3 seconds left on the shot clock were MURDER in the end.

    Kobe’s ankle must be killing him. I can’t think of another reason why he attempted about a drive per game so far. They’ve turned him into a jump shooter and that is where he is least needed. We need a slashing/creating/defense breaker on the perimeter. Also, getting Chandler/Dirk into some foul trouble wouldn’t hurt.

    Phil. I really thought in the 4th he should have gone with his starting 5 the entire quarter. Rested them with the timeouts he never uses otherwise. We HAD to have this game.

    When it comes down to it, we’re down 3-0. But we could easily be up 3-0.

    In Game 1 Phil almost single handedly threw it away. He let them come back from 16 down without a timeout or any attempt to break the momentum. I understand letting them work it out in the regular season but get your head out of your ass on that one Phil. Stop the run early and get them refocused. You add that in with playing a completely ineffective Blake/Brown/Barnes more than Kobe MOTHER F’ING BRYANT in the 4th quarter and Phil acted like his goal was to make the win as difficult as possible.

    In Game 2, Phil once more made one inexcusable move. Playing Blake 20 minutes after watching him absolutely implode like I’ve almost never seen before was murder. If you get rid of that mistake and hit a couple of 3’s or how about this…QUIT F’ING TAKING THEM, and we’d have had a much better chance in Game 2.

    In Game 3, having an 8 point lead in the 4th QT and not winning in a must win is nauseating. Inexcusable. Disgusting. Every horrible word there is.

    Our entire dynasty. Kobe tying Jordan and making sure Shaq would never tie him. Phil wrapping up 4 3peats and riding off into the sunset. Sealing another season with LeBron not winning a title. All of them thrown away over so few and unnecessary factors is downright depressing. Honestly, Pau owes his team more than this. And if we have ANY hope of winning this thing it will be because he finally manned up. I quite honestly don’t know how he can look in Kobe/Phil’s eyes after the effort and focus he’s showed when it mattered the most. After all, it’s not his legacy he was playing with.

  35. I just think too many people are deluding themselves that the adjustments are easy and the Lakers just need to stick to their gameplan. The reality is that the players that are being discussed as the saviors (Bynum, Odom, Brown) are some of the least predictable or trustworthy on the team, particularly on the defensive end where they are prone to serious brain farts at inopportune moments.

    I agree that Gasol has been bad in this series, and Kobe could go to the rim more (though this is a standard ankle injury effect, which the Hoopdata guy should mention as Rose has had the same thing). But through the year (or in the case of Odom, many years) Bynum, Odom, Brown have provided a large number of game-losing play, perhaps as often as game winning ones. For better or worse, Phil trusts the guys he trusts and who look like they know what they’re doing. I disagree with it (I would have sent Fisher packing last year) but within that strategy I don’t see much point saying that in the second round it’s time to make the go-to guys those who’ve never come through before.

    Impressed with Bynum in the early part of the game tonight, though. It looked like a leap.

  36. Dallas will discover Sunday that the close-out win is the hardest to get. The law of averages has to appear in this series. Dallas cannot continue to shoot lights out from 3, especially in the 4th. If the Lakers can keep it close, that ball will become heavy in the hands of the Mavericks. (See Portland, 2000; Sacramento 2002)

    Win Sunday, and you’re back home for game 5. Can Dallas win all 3 games in Staples? Down a break in tennis, you hold serve to make your opponent have to serve out the match. That would be game 6 in Dallas, where the Mavs would have tremendous pressure to close it out. Again, let’s see how those 3’s turn out when the ball is a little heavy. (Queue the game 7 bricks from Peja in 2002).

    Get it to game 7, where anything can happen. Whom do you trust there? A Lakers team that won game 7 against Boston last year, or a Mavs team that has no history of success?

    The Blackhawks were down 3-0 to Vancouver in the opening round of the NHL playoffs. All it took was winning game 4, and the series suddenly changed. Next thing you knew, it was game 7 in OT.

    That being said, I am extremely disappointed with the poor quality of shots this team is taking down the stretch. Peja cannot guard anybody. 33 years old and status-post back surgery. It’s mystifying that the Lakers can’t run a simple set to create a mismatch against him. Can we see a simple guard-big cross screen? A 3-out-2 in high/low action? Screen the screener?

  37. I saw only the fourth quarter, but the contrast there was remarkable. Early in the fourth, everyone was passing and cutting and staying in the offense. I was impressed, and it slowly dawned on me that these were the subs (+Bynum) playing at such a high level. They were also doing quite well on defense.

    Then Kobe came into the game and the passing stopped and the standing started. Lots of ISO plays.

    I’d love to see someone chart the number of passes made when different units are in the game.

  38. Can’t put blame on management. The team addressed needs and at least on paper were great moves. I still hope we keep Barnes and Blake. I think we still have another run in us. Bynum will have a breakout year and Gasol will just need to visit Artest’s shrink.

    Anyways till the bloody end… History and statistics may be against us but who better to change history than the “history-making” Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant. Keeping the faith…we still have a pulse.

    JLV

  39. I would love to see the lakers at least extend to game 6. It feels like they were the better team in games 1 & 3 but the Mavs just played like better down the stretch in those games.
    I am sick of Mitch being blamed for everything. His hands have largely been tied for the past several years due to their bloated payroll. I remember quite clearly how most people were elated when he signed barnes and Blake last summer. Its not his fault barnes got injured and Blake had a subpar year. And speaking of ariza vs artest I am confident the lakers wouldn’t have won game 7 of last years finals without artest.
    I am as frustrated as anyone( if not more so) but the lakers made it to 3 straight finals and I am not convinced this group is done for future seasons with some tweaks.
    And btw the lakers are NOT getting Dwight for pau.

  40. The primary difference in this Laker team and the 2009 team from two years ago is Kobe’s mangled index finger. We got by on smoke and mirrors last season after the injury, but it’s so bad now that the refs could be sticklers and call him for carrying it over on just about every possession. The difference between today’s Kobe and pre-December 2009 Kobe is stark, especially on isolations. Then when you take his knee into account and the fact that he can’t practice with the team, it means a less efficient triangle offense when the team runs it.

    Yes, it was pretty obvious that for the team’s execution to improve down the stretch, Drew needed to get some touches. Unfortunately, this has not happened all season. I’d love to see Phil go with the guy down the stretch who’s showing fire. We’ll see if that happens.

  41. DirtySanchez May 7, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Well at least LA went from playing 36 mins of good ball to 43 mins. A lot of dribbling at the end of the game, no player movement, and an offense as creative as your local YMCA pickup game during money time. Thats what has disappointed me the most during this series, the amount of indecisiveness when the game is on the line is very frustrating. I still believe this team can play 48 mins and do the things it takes to win until they walk off the court for the last time this season. I hope between now and Sunday LA will find the fortitude to press on in a time of desperation.

  42. It would be really dissappointing to see the Lakers go down in a sweep. To me the school of thought saying this series is just a colmination of what they’ve struggled with all season long is very accurate but what I’d like to know is why can’t they play like they did to start the season out 8-0? Or like they did coming out of the All-Star Break?

  43. Once again, our bench got absolutely manhandled by the Mavs. I know Odom started but they got outscored a staggering 42-15. In this series they have been outscored 112-52, and this is over the course of 3 games!

    That and our 4th quarter execution was horrible once again. We deviated away from Drew, settling for jumpshots. On defense when we doubled Dirk, Peja or someone drained a clutch shot and when we didnt, Dirk made impossible shots.

    Anyway, hopefully Mitch does nothing with the core this summer. The bench is where we really help. Hopefully Shannon exercises his player option and finds a better contract outside of LA. We need a better backup for Kobe. As for Blake, we are pretty much stuck with him for the next few seasons.

  44. I’m with Darius! To the bloody end!!

    Let’s take it to ‘em!!

  45. I wrote on this blog before, Bynum has to carry Lakers team to NBA Finals this season. Phil&Kobe did not want to believe this truth. How can you win championship when PJ said the reason they lost a game on Sunday to Denver in LA because players couldn’t get up early ? How can you win a playoff game in the last 2 min when the ball is on Kobe’s hand and he can’t shoot over 38 years old Jason Kidd ?

  46. I think Aaron’s and Coach Miller’s point is right. The Lakers have made it a habit to: 1) ignore Bynum in the post; 2) rely on Gasol in the post; 3) let Fisher and other perimeter players take questionable shots while ignoring the post.

    When confronted with chaos, we instinctively stick with our habits, routines, and instincts. For the past few years, we have fortuitously gotten by despite developing very bad habits. Last night, and in this series, our bad habits were utterly exposed.

    Look, I am a Lakers fan to the end. But let’s be realistic here. We are facing the real possibility of having some large personality chasms between our star players. If whatever rumors re: Gasol are true (and especially if it involves Kobe), that is a big problem down the road. Also, we are facing the real possibility that Bynum and Kobe are about to embark on an epic clash re: being the man. Bynum has been the most consistent player and most deserving of touches. It was almost criminal and reminiscent of how the all-stars tried to freeze out Michael Jordan in his first all-star game. Are they resentful of Bynum’s ascendancy? Do they still think he’s that chubby pup who was drafted out of high school? Lots of questions, very little answers.

    It’s been an epic run. Even if we do the impossible and win this series, we will probably run out of gas. For Phil Jax’s sake, hope he gets a chance to close his career out at Staples and have the crowd give him the applause and accolades he deserves. Not like this, Phil’s amazing run can’t end like this, in Cuban’s dungeon. A hero like Phil deserves better.

    Win one for Phil…win four more for your own sake!

  47. Mav’s fan here. Everyone talks about Bynum not getting touches late in each game.

    I frankly don’t think they can get him the ball.

    I think the Mav’s strategey has been to not get Chandler/Dirk into foul trouble early so they let points in the paint go early in the game so they can play more aggresively in the 2nd half. It seemed they started doing this more in the 2nd part of the Portland series because Chandler kept getting into foul trouble and rode the pine for large portions of the game. Just a thought.

  48. For the love of Lakers and their fans, can Derek Fisher and Luke the-most-overpaid-bench-warmer Walton retire? We appreciate what Fisher has done for the franchise. But you just can’t do it now. You are way past your prime. Please come to terms with reality. And Luke, with the money you are collecting, it’s criminal.

  49. Success breads complacency! See the 2011 Lakers!

    One positive we can take from this series: This is now Bynum’s team and Kobe needs to play second banana!

    I too, Darius, am ALL in. If any group of players are capable to making history by being the first team to win a series after being down 0-3, its the Lakers!

    I still believe! I STILL believe! I STILL BELIEVE!

  50. NewportCoastguy May 7, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Told you it would be pulled. Rose collared glasses is a much better way to live life then to deal with the cause and effect of truth.

  51. #47. Joel,
    That’s an interesting perspective, RE that the Mavs are playing a looser D early in order to tighten it up late. However, the trends that we’ve seen in terms of not going to the post enough late in the game have been year long issues. The key is that the offense devolves into “one pass and stand around” rather than quickly getting into their sets and then moving the ball into and out of the post while the players off the ball cut and screen. Some of this is Kobe, some of it is the rest of players not following through with their responsibilities.

  52. Don’t want to get into too much psychological analysis, but I suspect one of the main factors in Pau’s shitty play has been the growth of Drew’s game and confidence. Once the kid’s mentality changed into Alpha, Pau’s inherent passive traits took over and he’s just been deferential. I fully expect that one of our twin towers will be moved in the offseason.

  53. Darius, in the “we-need-a-basket” moments, I don’t think we trust Bynum. To be honest, his footwork isn’t that great. I think he gets away with a lot of traveling violations. When he’s not making a simple move in the post, and has to pivot, I get nervous. It may have something to do with his knees, or a mental thing where he’s worried about his knees.

  54. For all the talk of what the Lakers are doing wrong, and I am just as frustrated, they’d be up 2-1 or maybe even 3-0 if Pau was playing to 80% of his potential.

    Whatever got inside Pau’s head, and even he has said he doesn’t know why he’s lost confidence, it has literally cost the Lakers another chip.

    And even then, if they had thrown it in to Bynum in the post just a few times down the stretch of games 1 & 3, they’d likely be up 2-1.

    Almost like a plane crash, it seems this kind of crumbling of a team requires multiple failures at once. It’s certainly depressing.

  55. I would be highly, highly surprised if any of our top 4 players are moved this offseason (barring some off-court divisions that drive one of them to ask for a trade). This core has plenty of life left, provided we can surround them with the necessary shooters and role players.

    I’m too young to make comparisons to Kevin McHale’s foot injury, but I wonder if Kobe playing through the broken finger has accelerated his decline. He’s overcome the shooting disadvantage splendidly so we don’t notice, but his lack of dribble penetration seems to me a hand-related issue more than a question of legs. Often when he drives and a competent defense collapses, he fumbles the ball under pressure and either turns the ball over or struggles to finish. I don’t know if the finger would have healed properly had he given it time, instead of it becoming arthritic.

  56. Pau is in shell shock right now. I can’t recall another player losing his mojo so quickly, aside from Nick Anderson of the Shaq-era Orlando Magic. Unfortunately, Anderson never regained his confidence after missing clutch free throws.

    In the case of Pau and the Lakers, I wish I knew what was going on with him- is it one event or a nebulous array of things that have just caused him to lose confidence? Hopefully he gets his confidence back, so the team can benefit, and more importantly so he can benefit – it’s really difficult to watch such a great player underperform to the ire of everyone. He seems too aware of how he’s perceived right now.

  57. Im looking at it this way.
    -they have to now win one game
    -if they do that they have a home game to win
    -then they have to really play well win one more in dallas
    -then a game 7
    you can’t give up
    maybe lakers start playing well again
    maybe dallas doesn’t shoot as well as they have
    they have to win one tomorrow

  58. #53. Matt, I agree with that. This is a Kobe/Pau team and if they aren’t getting it done (and Pau isn’t right now while Kobe has been very good but not phenomenal) this team will lose. Bynum has been fantastic and maybe there will be a changing of the guard in the next year or two (a topic to be discussed at length in the off-season, surely). But the dynamic if *this* group is still tilted towards Kobe & Pau.

  59. Thanks for the mostly reasoned analysis guys. It’s still highly disappointing, but having some reflection won’t make it so painful in the long run.

    For the next game, I say start LO/Bynum and have Pau come off the bench. You know Drew and Kobe will be firing to start the game so no use leaving Pau in there to defend Dirk. We should try to match LO’s minutes as closely as possible with Dirk, since it’s become clear Pau cannot exploit Dirk’s deficiencies on defense. If Pau decides to show up, he will show up with the bench.

  60. Careful with the starters versus bench minutes. Terry is technically a bench player, but he played 36 minutes last game (as compared to Stevenson’s 11:25) and went for 7-10 (2-4) and 7-8 for 23 (with 4 of the 7 FT following the 2 intentional fouls). Add in 15 from Peja and you’re at 38 on those two alone. Barea provided the other 4 in 13:36. If you sub out Terry for Stevenson, that would be 42-23+3= 22. So 22-15 if you make it comparable minutes played. And even that isn’t so bad when you consider that Peja played 23:18 to Marion’s 29:42 and also that Brown played the most off the Lakers’ bench at 18:30.

  61. Aaron very good points.

    Also you would think Phil will experiment with the lineup of Odom, Bynum, and Gasol more than few minutes during the regular season, so that not only Bynum can close the game but so can Odom and Gasol rather than Artest in some instances.

    Another frustrating thing in this series is the free points the Lakers are giving up to the Mavs. In game 1 Gasol’s foul on Dirk, in the last game after Kobe had the turnover of throwing the ball of Gasol’s back he fouls Kidd and because they are in the penalty Kidd gets two free throws. And Fisher fouls Terry with a few seconds left on the shot clock for two free throws.

    Also others have pointed out that Kobe’s Lakers have usually gone out in an embarrassing way when they can not win the series so a sweep is expected. But it is not only the Kobe’s Lakers but the Lakers have several instances in their History. During the Magic era for example in 86 against the Rockets after winning game 1 lose 4 straight and lose the series 4-1. In 1990 (if I am not mistaken they won over 60 games) against the Suns they lose 3 straight and the lose the series 4-1. In 1991 in the Finals against the Bulls after winning the first game they lose 4 straight including 3 straight at home to lose the series 4-1.

    So I am hoping that at least they will be like last year’s Orlando team after falling 0-3 to to Boston they forced a game six or better yet be like the 2003 Blazers who after being down 0-3 forced a game 7 in Dallas (against the Nash and Dirk Mavs) and going into the fourth quarter the Blazers had a 2 point lead but lost by 12.

  62. I’m still shocked to see Pau get destroyed by Dirk on both ends. My respect for Gasol has decreased slighty BUT my respect for Dirk has skyrocketed. Having said all that even the Kobe of last year would have made up for it. If Kobe Bryant would have brought anything less than his A game we would have definitely lost that Phoenix series and probably even the Oklahoma series.

    Pau Gasol wilted under the pressure for sure, but Kobe couldn’t bail us out this time.

    Let’s be frank here. The days of Kobe bailing out the Lakers when everyone else isn’t bringing their A game is probably over.

  63. I frankly don’t think they can get him the ball.

    ___

    I wouldn’t go that far, but I agree on one level: Lakers fans (and most fans, actually) tend to forget there are two teams on the floor. Dallas is packing the paint to force the Lakers to take jumpers, and they are paying more attention to the low post down the stretch. I think it is harder to get Bynum the ball in a good spot than Lakers fans realize, and part of that is Dallas.

    The “get the ball inside” and “run the sets” meme has merit, but the Laker fanbase and media overuse it.

    In the case of Game 3, I do think it was in part a pecking order issue. The Lakers have said–out loud–that they have a pecking order. So in a game like Game 3, they are not going to think “Get the ball to Drew” with the season in the balance.

  64. One thing Phil absolutely has to do is get Gasol off Nowitzki. Nowitzki is 19/25 from the floor when Gasol is on him. Try Artest, Bynum, start Odom and use Gasol with the 2nd unit, whatever–but that needs to happen if they are serious about making Dallas sweat.

  65. The biggest reasons why this Lakers team is getting beat are Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson, and the most ridiculous defensive scheme I’ve seen since Don Nelson was coaching. Pau’s lack of competitive spirit and discipline on both sides of the ball is appalling. Phil’s stubbornness and refusal to just put Lamar on Dirk is just as appalling. Honestly, I would put Joe Smith on Dirk before I allowed Pau back on him. With that said, if the Lakers pull game 4 out, strangely enough, I think they could win the series.

  66. So can NBA fans lay off the Pau Gasol trade was the most unfair trade in history non sense? Ironically, we will get to watch the Memphis Grizzlies battle it out for a spot in the West Conf and NBA Finals thanks to the salary cap space which yielded Zach Randolph; the trade that gave them Marc Gasol, and the draft picks which were Darrell Arthur and Grevius Vasquez? Whatever cosmic/karmic retribution has now been paid and balanced.

    Please, just bring the game back to Staples so Phil can go leave LA with the fans rightfully applauding him.

  67. Funky Chicken May 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    This disastrous series is the result of two equal ingredients, one part Dallas great play, one part Laker pathetic play down the stretch.

    I give Dallas a lot of credit for being mentally tough. They didn’t collapse after being down 16 in game 1, they didn’t rest on their laurels and just phone in game 2, and they once again were the (far) better team down the stretch and came from behind in the 4th quarter of game 3. They did all of this by, in many cases, hitting absolutely amazing shots. Dirk is the shooting the ball about as well as I’ve ever seen. Obviously, giving him wide open 3’s is ridiculous, but many of his shots have come against very good defense.

    As for the Lakers, I’m really disgusted. Years of getting by with Kobe dominating the 4th quarter and breaking from the offense has caught up to them. They once could win with that strategy, but clearly no longer. The team is so used to just standing around and watching Kobe as games wind down that there is no sense of fluidity to their offense down the stretch. Kobe can’t close games like he used to, and that is clear. The final minutes of last night’s game were embarrassing and painful to watch. The Lakers looked like a lottery team trying execute simple out of bounds plays.

    Bottom line: when your team takes a six point lead into the 4th quarter and then spends the final 12 minutes accumulating a grand total of ONE ASSIST you can pretty much count on losing the game. You can get one assist just by accident. How does a two time defending championship team, with Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Fisher and Kobe not manage to get more than one assist in the 4th quarter of a game they need to win?

    It’s over.

  68. Matt’s point about the Lakers not “trusting” Bynum with shots at end of games is a great one. It certainly has to be a part of the reason that we’ve gone away from him even when he’s played well.

    Going back a couple of summers there was lots of discussion as to whether we should start Pau/Drew or Pau/LO. Even though we settled on that issue something else has happened since then: Drew has started to grow, especially since the middle of this season.

    Having a big center demanding the ball down low is an entirely different offensive animal than having a team without that kind of traditional center. In hindsight it’s not too surprising that the team as a whole, as well as individual players (I’m thinking Gasol) has struggled trying to incorporate that into the offense.

    Going forward the coaching staff, and players, are going to have to deal with Bynum’s growing presence.

  69. In game 3, the Lakers tried to double Nowitzki late in the shot clock. But since he was always ready and willing to move the ball and they had two more solid shooters out there almost all the time, they still got good shots at the end of the 24 seconds.

    If the Lakers continue that scheme on Nowitzki, I think they’ll have to rotate with a bigger focus on defending the three-pointer. When the Mavs swing the ball late in the clock, they tend to do so around the perimeter and not to the inside. I’d rather have Chandler end up with an easy dunk or two than weak-side shooters like Peja, Terry or Kidd get their rhythm going from outside.

  70. Funky Chicken May 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I think the trust issue goes much further than a lack of trust in Bynum down the stretch. It’s no surprise that the team shares the ball better early in the game, where no single possession is that critical. It is a lot easier to “trust” your teammates (to make the right decision on defense, or hit the shot on offense) when the result of the possession is not critical.

    It’s MUCH harder to overcome your lack of trust as the game winds down and each possession becomes much more relevant to the outcome of the game. To me, that’s why the Lakers (starting with, but not limited to Kobe) see their assist numbers radically drop in the 4th quarter.

    Case in point: 4th quarter, game three, shot clock winding down, and Kobe takes a contested, off-balance, fade away three pointer instead of making the obvious pass to a wide open LO who could have taken an uncontested, on-balance three pointer. In that instance, Kobe demonstrated that he did not trust Lamar as much as he trusted himself. Oh, and Kobe missed the shot by a mile….

  71. I really don’t understand why Dirk isn’t being pushed on defense (which he’s never been particularly strong at) in order to try and wear him down. Yeah, I have gained some respect for him in this series when I really haven’t liked him for a long time, but at least try and take some of his energy and legs out of him on the defensive end so he’s less effective.

    I always thought ‘drew’s relegation to the bench at crunchtime was worrying. I’m not saying he always should have played….but what kind of message did that send to ‘drew, especially when he was playing very well. I think the Lakers’ failure to play him at crunch time is now coming back to bite them coz their rotations and routines are out of whack. ‘drew deserves to be on the floor and Phil’s lack of variety in his rotations has led to ‘drew and the team being unable to experience together and gel with ‘drew on the floor.

    I really hope the Lakers show up on Sunday and I’m hoping till the end. This series could very easily be 2-1 Lakers or maybe even 3-0, but if the sun shone in Seattle as much as it does in LA, well, Seattle would be LA. Credit to the Mavs, they’ve been better down the stretch. I dunno if the Lakers will come back….but their core is strong. They’re tired. BUT FIGHT ON!!!

  72. Samy Harmoush May 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Reposting this for feedback..

    I wager my basketball dignity on the fact that Phil Jackson is using Andrew Bynum as a mouthpiece because he’s lost complete control of the Lakers. And how can you tell this? Easy. In every abusive family there’s always one or two members who have to suffer more than the others because they can’t handle what’s happening. The family unit is one of the most dominant forms of group interaction known to mankind. A social phenomenon, with signs laid out by thousands of phycology case studies. So let’s look to the Lakers with eye for “clear and convincing evidence”.

    Clue one, Pau Gasol, featured in telenovelas in South America, and dropping approximately 5 ppg, and 3 assists throughout the course of the season? Go ahead and put aside the differences in his numbers, his passion and confidence are muted.

    Clue two, Ron Artest, miserable all season until his play picked up in the 17 game winning streak. That was until yesterday when the guy committed the dirtiest foul since Raja Bell’s clothesline on Kobe in the failing Phoenix-led seasons.

    There’s a problem in the Laker tribe and the Shaman is working to fix it.
    As a basketball fan I am ultimately a fan of Phil Jackson. Only when the curtain is lifted do you see the outward success of a basketball team. Somebody has to write the script. In games, Jackson is notorious for sitting his players during the course of huge runs, or leaving them out to dry. Ultimately he controls the ability to be seen on the greatest stage of criticism and love.

    By playing with rotations recently Jackson has been making it very clear that his view of the status quo has changed. There are no extreme injuries like Bynums knee in seasons past. Not even a sprained ankle as in last week’s headlines. But we’ve seen Pau Gasol head to bench as the first man to check out of the game. We’ve also seen Phil sit Kobe and the first unit for longer and longer stretches in the fourth quarter. Perhaps to observers it’s just a coach opting to give his players more rest. I promise you this – Kobe does not want rest in the fourth quarter with the team down 6. Phil Jackson’s use of timeouts and decisions on substitutions are his greatest tools.

    Perhaps otherwise clueless members of the Buss family take credit for Bynum’s retention. But at a deeper level it is evident that Byum is a player completely molded on Phil’s principles. Unlike Kobe, who’s personal drive defined him long before he became a coach. Add in Michael Jordan before him. Even Pau Gasol and Shaq were established entities in the league before calling Phil coach. None have been exclusive products of Phil’s wisdom.

    What do we know about Bynum that makes him similar to a young Phil Jackson? He’s an intellectual with the means to be great and who arrived from the draft with no ingrained knowledge of the game. Tablua rasa. Bynum is Phil’s greatest achievement and a testament to the idea that true greatness is features in the season-long contest that lasts far longer than 48 minutes.

    Andrew Byum, is my favorite player on the team. He is the guy I often spend most of my time watching on the court. He is exactly my age. But from knowing him so well, it was immediately apparent from his diction in the interview after the Game 2 loss to Dallas that someone had given him developed arguments to present to the media. Perhaps from someone who is eloquent yet capable of being frank when necessary in front of the media. Someone who has been winning over crowds of reporters since he arrived in 1999. What Bynum orated last was the final chapters of a yet to be completed, “Gospel of Phil.”

    When asked if the problems in the locker room were “personal thing or a basketball thing?” Bynum replied with the almost biblical conviction and clarity of Aaron, “I mean, it’s basketball so it’s definitely both.”

    Consider Bynum’s astute evaluation in the context of their close-relationship which became public during the post-All Star win run – Jackson put his protégé to use. As evidenced brilliantly in Ronald Lazenby’s book on Jackson, Sacred Hoops, the press conference featured Jackson’s deft use of personality and timing in forcing a final public shift of a team’s leadership.

    Using the center’s defensive stature and offensive promise, Phil Jackson is elevating Bynum to the Alpha dog role. More importantly, Jackson is telling the world that Bynum is the Laker’s greatest hope for a return to greatness.

    In the process Phil is placing the blame of this Maverick induced Watergate on an denying elephant with the sting of a Black Mamba. This last trick begs the question, what was the Mamba’s crime?

    Perhaps it was setting a bad example by taking on huge multi-national corporate sponsorships that pull players away from the team? Or maybe it was just not running the offense?

    What do you guys think?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLkHMCsNMO0&feature=player_embedded#t=324s

  73. Nice write-up after this distressing loss, Darius and JM. There are many, many great comments in this thread, I felt the need to read what everybody had to say, in these times of turmoil. I still have not recovered from Wednesday’s loss (destruction), and yesterday’s loss will hit me later on, I imagine. I am bummed out at the moment for sure, but I am looking forward to the Sunday game, and any Laker game after that. I do not believe the Lakers will be swept. Yes, I will hang in there until the bloody end, rooting for my beloved NBA World Champion Lakers. Let’s make history by coming back from 0-3!

    “Accept the pain, cherish the joys, resolve the regrets; then can come the best of benedictions – ‘If I had my life to live over, I’d do it all the same.” – Joan McIntosh

  74. Thanks for a good reminder-“to the bloody end” indeed. Let the band wagoners jump off. Even though there is trouble in Laker paradise, let’s be hopeful about tomorrow.

    Accept the pain and cherish the joys, for sure.

  75. Ken from Newport May 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Guys! Clearly Pau and Kobe have a personal issue. it will not change any more then then Shaq/Kobe personal issues. Believe me now or wait to the off season when Pau is traded.

    Watch the body language if the two. They don’t even stand or sit next to each other in time outs.

  76. Wow I love this site Darius

  77. Ken from Newport May 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Watching Mem/OKC. Clearly Paul Gasol is a much, much, much better offensive, defensive and rebounder then Pau.

    Who would have thunk it?

  78. Paul Gasol?

  79. Great post Jonathon:

    Lakers in seven!