Preview & Chat: The Miami Heat

Darius Soriano —  March 4, 2012

Records: Lakers 22-14 (4th in West), Heat 28-8 (2nd in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 103.6 (14th in NBA), Heat 110.3 (1st in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 100.9 (11th in NBA), Heat 100.5 (9th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Heat: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony
Injuries: Lakers: none; Heat: none

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers have won 2 in a row and looked (mostly) good doing it. The offense has finally started to look better (though, to be fair, against defenses that aren’t near elite) as ball and player movement have picked up and players look much more comfortable in Mike Brown’s sets. In a report at Land O’ Lakers, Dave McMenamin explains the better execution stems from Mike Brown letting go and has the principal parties explaining it. This quote from Fisher does a good job explaining why he thinks the Lakers are doing better on O:

I think there are a number of reasons why we’re doing some things better on the offensive end and so I think it’s a combination of him trusting us and us trusting him in terms of not just whether he’s calling the plays or not, but the plays we’re running, the things we’re looking for, putting the right guys in the right position to be successful and I think most importantly, not just him letting go, but us as players saying, ‘Regardless of what he’s doing in terms of trying to orchestrate, the five guys that are on the floor are the ones that make the difference.’ So, as five players on the floor, it’s up to us to figure out how to be successful within whatever the coach is trying to do.

Fisher’s quote (and others by Gasol, Bynum, and Kobe) that bring up increased freedom and the resulting comfort level not only speak to Brown’s coaching style but to the mentality of this Lakers team. Remember, this core group played in the triangle for years and is used to having more responsibility on the floor in dictating the flow of the offense. So, in that sense, it doesn’t surprise me that with the reins loosened, and the players given more responsibility to make things work, the results are better. Of course, it also helps that the team has had some time to actually learn how to make things work.

The Heat Coming in: Coming into today, people will focus on the Heat’s last game – a loss to the Jazz – and see that LeBron once again passed up a game winning shot and use that as some sort of referendum on James (and to some extent this team). And, in some ways, that’s fair. In that contest LeBron led the Heat back from a big deficit with several amazing shots but when the game was on the line, he made the pass even though the shot he would have taken was not unlike many he took in leading the comeback. On the other hand, on the play in question LeBron drew two defenders, made a good pass to a wide open player that has a history of making the exact shot he happened to miss on that possession. It was a good play that didn’t work out. It happens. Plus, look at LeBron’s numbers from that game and it’s hard to criticize: he made two-thirds of his shots, scored 35 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out 6 assists. It was a monster performance.

Forget LeBron though, and, forget that loss. Before that game the Heat had won 9 straight games and all of them by double figures. They’ve been steamrolling opponents with strong defense and an opportunistic fast break offense that produced countless highlight reel plays. In the half court their sets look more refined and their teamwork has improved. This team has been playing with style while also delivering substance and it’s one of the reasons they’re the favorite to win the championship.

Heat Blogs: Check out the Heat Index for tons of insight and analysis on this team.

Keys to game: I know this can be said for every game, but for the Lakers to win this contest they’ll need to bring a combination of their best energy and execution. The Heat will be up for this game (national TV, the Lakers, coming off a loss) and the Lakers must match that.

From an execution stand point, the Lakers must best today. The Heat’s athleticism can turn this game into a laugher early on so the Lakers need to avoid turnovers (especially live ball ones) and need to grind the game into a half court contest that’s run cleanly. A point of emphasis for the Lakers must be making clean entry passes and good reads out of double teams because the Heat are fantastic at closing down passing angles in the blink of an eye. This is especially important for Andrew Bynum who will see a fair share of one on one coverage but will also be attacked on double teams. When those doubles come, he must make quick reads and crisp passes to teammates moving into position to make a play themselves. The Heat turn open passes into steals and open jumpers into highly contested ones better than any other team in the league and the Lakers must be ready to combat a team that has such strong perimeter defenders.

That elite wing D also means Kobe can’t simply try to work in isolation to get his baskets. The Heat can throw the best trio of wing defenders in the league (Wade, LeBron, and Battier) against him, so Kobe must work well off the ball and get good screens set for him to get him open. Curls to the paint, quick pin downs that open him up at the elbow, and quick cuts off the ball into the post will be needed for him to shake free and get good looks at the rim.

Defensively, slowing the Heat in transition is the biggest goal. The Heat play at the 7th fastest pace in the league and use their speed to get good looks of all types. I’ve mentioned how turnovers can fuel their fast break attacks but the Heat are just as dangerous in early offense chances, pushing the ball to collapse the defense and then hitting open shooters in rhythm for three point shots. It was actually this style of game that the Heat were allowed to play in the last match up, a game where Miami hit half their 18 attempts from behind the arc. The Lakers, then, will need to slow the ball earlier and mark shooters when they run to the three point line. Especially key is getting to Battier and Mike Miller in the corners and Chalmers trailing to the shoulders of the arc for wide open J’s.

All that said, even if the Lakers can successfully make this a half court game, they still need to stay disciplined. The Heat run a lot of P&R’s with Wade, LeBron, Chalmers, and Cole and the Lakers must know who they’re guarding and how to defend those actions based off the personnel. LeBron and Wade have avoided taking three pointers this season and are more focused on attacking the paint when coming off picks. The Lakers must lay off these two and entice them to shoot the long two pointer rather than playing them closely. Both of them possess superior quickness and will beat their men off the bounce if crowded. In fact, both will beat their men regardless so the Lakers back line help must be ready to step up early and deter drives to the rim, and if met at the rim, contest without fouling.

Bosh – who’s expected to return today after tending to his grandmother’s funeral – must also be accounted for in the half court. The Heat love to run pick and pop actions with Bosh while also running sets to isolate him at the elbow. All these sets maximize Bosh’s ability to hit the open 18 foot jumper so the help and recover schemes of the Lakers must be ready to contest his shots and also step up at the rim should he use his show and go moves to get into the paint. Bosh’s versatility has long given the Lakers problems so Gasol (and Bynum/Murphy) will have their hands full this afternoon trying to limit his effectiveness.

Ultimately, this is a game the Lakers would love to have as it’s a measuring stick contest for them. If they can get a win it would serve as a stepping stone and, potentially, propel them towards a strong second half of the season. Not to say it would erase some of the needs this team has, but it would show that they do have the potential to raise their games. Regardless of the result, though, I’m simply looking for a good showing. The Lakers are at home and have been playing well. I’d like that to continue today.

Where you can watch: 12:30 start time on ABC. Also listen live on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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117 responses to Preview & Chat: The Miami Heat

  1. This quote from Fisher does a good job explaining why he thinks the Lakers are doing better on O:

    Sure, but some it is playing against Sacto (28th in DRTG) Minnesota minus Love (15th) and Portland (10th but in a slump). The Dallas win was pretty good, but the Lakers match up pretty well with Dallas in terms of age/speed.

    Obviously, it is going to be a lot tougher to win with multiple passes/looking at multiple options against the team they are facing today.

  2. Robert,
    Haha. Define punk. It was a loser move for sure. He was being outplayed by Kobe and was frustrated. Wade lost a lot of respect from his peers on that one. Trust me. Hard fouls are good. Hard fouls in all star games are great. That was not a hard foul. That was a cheap shot from behind with Howard ready and waiting to challenge Kobe’s lay up. So it was a needless cheap shot as well.

  3. Darius,
    As you know you can always count on me to correct you 😉 Shane Battier is no longer an elite wing defender. He is no longer a good wing defender. He is no longer even a solid NBA basketball player. This isn’t three years ago 😉 If it were the Lakers would have a much better record.

  4. Kobe has to recognize the double teams, and not try to force his shot up over defenders in those cases, but instead use sharp passing to find the open man/cutter, (this means the other guys need to be active/in motion, too). Kobe needs to be a decoy sometimes in this game, keep the defenders honest from blatant double teaming him every time he touches the ball.

    if he tries to force up shots over double teams, it’s going to be a lot of fast breaks the other way as one defender will leak out, and get the football pass for a slam dunk. this is very demoralizing for the rest of the team… so Kobe, when they swarm you, find a way to pass out of it!
    (same for ‘Drew as well).

  5. Piggy – backing off of what Aaron mentioned n the last thread, it’ll b interesting to see which Kobe we get this afternoon. Coming out of the All Star Break, he’s been very aggressive offensively. However, against LeBron led teams, he doesn’t seem to bring it. Seems passive for whatever reason and doesn’t have good games. Considering the hype regarding this game, maybe he’ll take a different, yet smart, approach & have an excellent game.

    Also will have my eyes on Metta. Can he, at least, slow LeBron down. He’s n NBA Basketball Shape now, so lets see if he can give us what he’s paid to do. Nuetralize the opposing teams top wing scorer. Wasn’t at all successful against the 2nd best small forward n the league, hopefully he can have a better showing against the Best n the league.

  6. #3. May be time for you to actually start your own site so you can put down your own thoughts. I tire of you thinking that you’re always right with nothing to back up your opinions other than “I’m smart”. Sigh.

    Also, I didn’t call Battier “elite”. I said the Heat can throw the best trio of wing defenders at Kobe. I should have worded it better because I mean that no team has 3 wing defenders *on one team* as good as Miami does.

    That said, if you want to look at some numbers, Battier’s PER against as a SG is 5.8 and as a SF it’s 8.9. This isn’t the end all be all in terms of stats, but it’s meaningful that the numbers his man puts up, in terms of PER, while he’s guarding them are so awful.

    Where I will say Battier has struggled this year is in his shooting and on offense as he slumped horribly most of this year. But he is coming off a game vs. the Jazz where he hit 6 of his 7 three pointers…

  7. The drive-and-kick always kill us. We’ve got to contain Miami’s peripheral players from hurting us. Every time we’ve played them, it’s been someone like a Chalmers, Haslem, or Miller who have made the difference in the outcome. If we contain these guys, we win.

    For the most part, we all know Lebron, DWade and Bosh (if he plays) will get theirs, just like we can safely assume that Kobe, Drew and Pau will get theirs. Our role players need to step up, hit open shots and play smart defense with confidence. Go Lakers!

  8. Tra,
    I think Artest is still as good of a defender as you do. But I probably think LeBron is a better player than you do. I just don’t think there is a player past or present that can defend James one on one. But if there was one it would either be Pippen or 2004 Artest.

    I’m too lazy to start my own site and I would hate to take half your readers with me 😉 Are you saying to think Battier is still an average defender in this league? I just feel he is too slow laterally at this point. I would say his PER against is more a result of who he has to guard on this team. LeBron or Wade are guarding the other teams effective wing players.

  9. Darius,
    You make a hundred points a pregame and postgame wrap ups and on average I disagree with one out of a hundred. That means in agreeing with you as much as I agree with anyone on this planet basketball related. So when we differ on something I like pointing it out as I’m always interested in your logic.

  10. Needless to say, this will be a very tough challenge for our Lakers. NO WAY the Lakers win if Kobe has more fga’s than both Bynum & Gasol combined. In addition when Bynum & Gasol receive their opportunities, they have to go to the basket STRONG. None of that light cute layup stuff. Both LeBron & Wade are able & love to block bigger players shots.

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see our big 3 all play about 40 minutes today. I’m expecting the Heat to come out smoking after being upset by the Jazz in their last game. Last but not least, forget all that stupidness about “hard foul revenge” on Wade. Too much has been made about that by the media and the refs have heard from “the Stern One” to be on the lookout for cheap shots.

    In short, the best revenge is handing the Heat a 2nd lost in a row.

  11. After 3 qtrs:

    Rondo 13 pts/15 AST/9 REB/3 TOs +11

    Lin 6 pts/3 AST/3 REB/6 TOs

    Bos 80, NY 72

  12. Good God, Iman Shumpert just annihilated Garnett. That was vicious.

  13. Lakers need at least 20 points from three to win. Miami will sag on Pau & Drew an use their close out speed to get to the shooters. If Fish, Blake, Barnes,Metta knock down threes early it’ll keep Miami’s defense honest.

    Lakers have to make the extra pass as well. It’s creases in Miami’s defense Kobe Iso’s and post ups for the majority of the game won’t work today.

  14. On defense stay glued to Chalmers, Battier, Miller if that means James and Wade get their points so be it. They can’t have both points and assists.

    Pau and Drew have to play big stand tall tough defense without fouling.

    And when driving find Bynum Anthony plays alot of help defense the bigs should be open for easy buckets.

  15. ‘In addition when Bynum & Gasol receive their opportunities, they have to go to the basket STRONG. None of that light cute layup stuff.’

    Couldn’t agree with you more BigCitySid and I love how you emphasized the word Strong.

  16. Holy crap Aaron!? Please do start your own site and see if you can take half the readers…LMAO. You have a humongous ego pertaining to your basketball “knowledge.”

    I almost want us to lose this game by a large amount *if we are going to lose, so that the FO will be forced to make some kind of move. I hate even writing that, because I never root against my team.

    Gah! Overtime.

  17. Lakers-Heat game can be seen on ESPN News until the NY-Boston game is over.

  18. KenOak,

    KBros talked about that–how or if this game will affect the FO. If Miami blows the Lakers away, that might make them say, “Why spend more if we not legit?” OTOH, if the Lakers win or lose close…maybe that convinces Buss that the team can contend with a little push.

    The KBros didn’t guess…just said that there might be an effect.

  19. Guess I’ve got my answer regarding Kobe.

  20. Kobe off to a very good start in this game, love the Lakers energy so far.

  21. rr-

    I like the KBbros take much better than my previous one! That allows me to cheer completely unfettered like usual! 😛

    Also, Kobe is en fuego!

  22. Any one for 40+ looks like Kobe has score to settle

  23. Blake with a nice pass to Barnes for the alley-oop slam dunk.

  24. Looks like it’s open season on Kobe’s head again. Is this simply massive incompetence or is it a directive from league headquarters?

  25. Yeah, he can’t buy a whistle unless its flagrantly obvious.

  26. How many players can handle lebron in the post? 2 and their both on the lakers

  27. Aaron @2: What you describe is being a PUNK – so we are agreed – even though most others are not in agreement with you today : )
    Edwin/mud (from previous): I am with you guys even though I don’t always seem to be. I am a vocal, exuberant Laker supporter. I always cheer during games, and when I am at the game, I annoy the celebrities by actually cheering and screaming !!

  28. I am all for inside out ball if our shooters are knockin’ it down. Love me some Goudelock!

    Small tweaks gentlemen. Just a couple small tweaks.

  29. Lakers are playing under control. Great pace to the game

  30. Kevin 27,

    I hope you’re not referring to Matt Barnes as a player “handling” Lebron. LeBron’s manhandling him. But yes, as Aaron and others have pointed out (and I’m in agreement), World Peace is playing titan defense.

  31. Bynum is playing some great ball right now. He’s making the right reads and taking his man if single covered.

  32. Kareem-

    I think he is referring to MWP and Kobe as being able to guard him in the post.

  33. @32 Kenoak – The thing I like about Bynum is that each season, he improves another facet of his game. This is really the first season where he has been consistently double-teamed, and his reads have improved by leaps and bounds from earlier in the season when the opposition first started doing it.

  34. I love the way the offense ran through Bynum during that long stretch. Beautiful spacing, shooters in the right places, and great patience from Bynum. Great re-entry passes too after the initial pass out. Reminded me of the Shaq-triangle days.

    Bosh is a huge difference-maker, at least against us. He always seems to eat Gasol alive.

  35. We have to be better about taking advantage of their smallball lineup. Can’t let them front like that. Easier said than done, considering how fast and strong James is.

  36. Dude-
    You’re absolutely right. I came down on him a bit earlier in the year because he was making some bad passes out of the double-teams, but he has looked pretty damn good for the last 3 weeks.

    If Bynum can just stay healthy (Knocking on all the wood in reach.) then I would keep him over Howard. He’s still getting better whereas DH12 seems like he has peaked.

  37. Loving the defense right now – like Van Gundy said, the physicality is starting to frustrate the Heat.

  38. It’s a tough pass for our PGs to make because their man is right up on them. No one respects Fish or Blake off the dribble. I know that’s an obvious statement….

  39. Still looking forward to seeing either Barnes or Artest knocking Wade silly on at least one play, although at this point it may just be wishful thinking.

  40. At least Fish grabbed a rebound in the first half to get in one positive stat on the box score. One thing about playing Miami is that Chalmers always seems to eat Fish alive.

  41. Dare I say that Fisher is playing some halfway decent defense. This is really a total effort. Not to creep in some pessimism, but ten points are not much of a cushion with Miami. They’ve closed larger gaps in less than 2 quarters.

    KenOak, fair enough, although Kobe’s only got 1 quarter of great D against the likes of Bron.

  42. Ron Artest with the three. Any scoring Lakers get from him is a bonus.

  43. Off Topic:

    But I know that I’m not the only 1 tired of these ‘Soft’ (and I’m being kind with my words here) Blake Griffin Commercials?

  44. LOL @ Van Gundy talking about the different types of flops…

  45. kehntangibles March 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    This sudden display of offensive competence warms my heart

  46. Bynum is reading the double team like Shaq. Gasol has rubbed off on his game left hand hook, patience on the post.


  48. The pessimist in me just hopes we can play this kind of defense with Bosh in the game. He always seems to take us apart. His combination of silky J’s, strong drives off the dribble, and finding creases in the defense usually lessens the defensive pressure on Wade and James and frees them up. Against most teams, Wade/James free up Bosh. But against our team – with strong individual perimeter defenders – I feel like Bosh is often the one opening up our defense.

    I said it before, but it bears repeating: Bynum’s patience on the block has been beautiful. Amazing how the game changes when a good shooter (Goudelock) is in there.

  49. yea Kobe

  50. So it’s okay for Lebron to be physical, but Gasol can’t…

  51. All: Win or lose changes nothing. Do not think we are fine if we win, and we are not doomed if we lose. Stay focussed (especially the FO). This televised game is not a definition of where we are. We already know where we are – and we all just have different opinions as to what to do about it : )

  52. I agree Snoopy. If we win this game, then it will be tempered by the fact that Bosh did not play and he seems to do very well against Pau.

  53. Pau is getting push around on the block. That’s the type of stuff that makes him expendable.

    Heat spaced the floor Lakers have no counter for that

  54. Nothing like a Murphy airball to kill the momentum.

  55. Battier doing an excellent job on Kobe. Not allowing him the post position that was granted by Dwade.

  56. Kevin, Pau is not being “pushed around,” he’s fighting for position against someone who weighs about as much as him, if not more (LeBron). And he’s battling hard and getting called for the fight (while LeBron isn’t). I don’t understand all this unfettered Pau hate.

  57. Great close out to this quarter!

  58. Meta WORLD PEEEAAAACCCCEEEE. Throwback game for Ron Ron.

    And not to heighten the rhetoric more than it already has been, but Aaron, your assured (smug) comments that Battier isn’t an “elite” wing defender is clearly absurd, at least extrapolating from his work thus far on Kobe. He’s doing about as good as you can against the Mamba. Any apologies? Or was Darius’s statistical refutation already enough?

  59. That. That right there! That’s what I want to see. Go Gasol!

  60. yea – love it – push that Bronze medal off the court

  61. Don’t back down from that bs!. Love the way the team is stepping up.

  62. Lmao – watch Tough Guy Lebron on the replay: as he’s shoving Murphy and Gasol, he’s looking around for the refs to come in and stop it before World Peace or someone actually tough enters the picture.

  63. Gasol showing some fire. Lakers closed out the third quarter very well.

  64. What was kurster thinking breaking that up?

  65. Thank God for MWP.

  66. kareem: Pau is power forward he showed some grit in that scrum. love it

  67. MWP came to play! The add in a little Bynum smash!

  68. I think that Lebron went to the KG school of tough guys!
    The ending is the best part 🙂

  69. God that was a bad call on Barnes. Refs gave them a 4 point play.

  70. Amazing what could happen if this team consistently had a 15-ppg scorer at the 3 or the 1. Shore up just 1 of those 2 positions and give me 2-3 good shooters off the bench to complement Bynum, and this is a completely different team.

  71. Please Bynum…don’t fall down anymore. You scare the crap outta me!

  72. D-Wade is a punk bitch. He deliberately kicked out at Bynum.


  74. Wade is falling apart out there!

  75. Wow Blake is shining on defense.

  76. That’s right, suck it Dwayne.

  77. LoL at D-Wade…

  78. JVG is an idiot. That wasn’t a foul? Wade came from behind and got all hand

  79. All right KenOak, Simonoid, and others; Wade deserves everything we can dish out at him. He is a PUNK.

  80. Three straight 30+ with the mask

  81. I had wanted a Bynum elbow to Wade coming into this game. Now, I realize that watching Wade foul out with still minutes left in the 4th and watching his expression is even better revenge.

  82. Wow. MWP played his body and his mind back into ‘Ron Ron’ shape. He’s back.

  83. I’m with Snoopy. Karma’s a female dog.

  84. Kobe Bean Bryant.

  85. Yes Snoopy, it is probably better this way also.

  86. Guess the Refs can’t handle the truth. Bulls..t technical foul called on Coach Brown.

  87. Snoopy-
    Could not agree more! Love seeing him melt down and then sit on the bench as his team loses without him. Good stuff.

  88. Look where Metta is making LBJ catch the ball! No one else is capable of making him catch the ball that far away from the rim.

  89. I feel sorry for the poor old lady whose foot LBJ (read: man gorilla) stepped on.

  90. And there’s Fishie learning from Goldie.

  91. Old man winter closes the game down. Love it Fish!

  92. MB needs to find out how to make MWP play this way.

    This is a Game 7 type performance

  93. Pretty sure Fisher was trying for the alley-oop but the ball goes in.

  94. They’re not awarding a blocked shot to Drew on that shot by Lebron? It was from seven feet away and it went three feet short!
    Edit – ok, they gave it to him

  95. Snoopy: excellent point about Bosh. Van Gundy just re-iterated it for everyone else in America not reading your post.

  96. This game doesn’t shake out this way if Bosh plays. I still think we need some help, but this was an encouraging win for this team.

  97. Aaron: Kobe was the best player on the floor today. I am going to count this as our second agreement of the day !!! : )

  98. I guess Buss did make a move. He traded Metta World Peace for Ron Artest.

    Miami is a much easier matchup for the Lakers without Bosh…but i agree one takeaway is that the Lakers are still pretty tough if they get something out of the 1 and/or the 3.

  99. KenOak: Yes – please see comment 52. However it is a great win, and we needed one like this !!!

  100. Our offense was very solid today. The Heat did a really got job of ball denial for the most part, but our guys still moved the ball pretty well. Total team effort on defense. Drew, Kobe, and MWP were huge, Pau was less effective but still had a double double with four assists, a steal, and a block and he fought hard on defense. Blake moved the ball well, Fish made two free throws, Barnes had a lot of energy, Murphy had four rebounds, two assists, and three blocks, and the rook made a couple big threes.

  101. great game overall.well done Mr Bryant!

  102. MWP was the key. This is a project for MB – he has got to get the most out of MWP. We need him for defense in the playoffs to have any chance against the elite teams.

  103. 9, every reader you take with you would be one I would gladly lose.

  104. Bosh definitely changes the complexion of the game, but at this point, I think we’ll cross that bridge if/once we come to it in the Finals. For now, I’m extremely happy with the physical defense we played (slowing down Wade and Lebron is never easy). I’m in awe of the level of difficulty on Kobe’s shots, and his continued efficiency. And I’m appreciative of Bynum’s combination of power and patience on the block. That second quarter offense with Drew passing out of the double/triple-teams was gorgeous. I had flashbacks to the 3-peat days.

    Going forward, we need to address better ways of beating teams that front us in the post.

    Overall, though, complete focus from everyone who played tonight on our side. It’s been a few years since we beat a Lebron team. That was so, so satisfying.

  105. Solid team win today. Metta World Peace had his best game of the year, more of this please. Lakers continue their excellent play at Staples Center. One thing to note from the game, the Heat had more offensive rebounds 18 than defensive rebounds 17.

    Gasol and Bynum both with a double double and Kobe continues his excellent play since the all-star game.

  106. Oh, I forgot. Lebron, SMELL THE RINGZ!!!!11!!

  107. Hey, the last time these two teams met it was Wade who is absent. Now, its Bosh who is absent. its just the same. When Wade was absent in the last game, Kobe has a horrible shooting night and now, Wade is playing Kobe has an excellent shooting. What can you say folks?

  108. Loved it when Magic stated that Kobe was back in the MVP conversation. He never should have been out of it. Besides the voters owe us one. For you historians – going back to 2001. They gave it to AI over Shaq which was a crime. However, by the standard they gave it to AI that year (in other words – where would his team be without him), KB is a sure thing this year. MVP !!!

  109. Robert,
    Ha. Nice. I got you to agree with me twice in one day. I’ll take whatever I can get. Yea… You can’t ask Battier at this stage in his career to guard Kobe one on one. The heat decided to let Battier back off him a half a foot and make him shoot jumpers. I would have forced Kobe to the basket and sent him to the help. I guess they thought they had ’08 Battier or something.

  110. I forgot who said it during the game but these are the games that make you think Gasol is expendable. In playoff type games he gets pushed around by smaller players. I don’t expect him to score against LeBron but he had other guys on him most of the night and did nothing on the ball. At this point in his career he seems to be a very good role player. He moves without the ball ad can play good defense and rebound.

    On that same note these playoff type games show you what Artest is. He is a playoff big time player. He is built for playoff games. Super strong player, plays hard, great defensively and hits big shots. People forget that Artest had his best playoff series of his life last year against the Hornets.

  111. Very good win. I really like how Kobe paced himself this game. He didn’t force shots after a hot first quarter, in a game that started out looking like he was trying to go for 50, which had the double benefit of (1) letting everyone else get into the flow, and (2) giving him plenty left in the tank to make all the big shots that were needed down the stretch.

    Also, if MWP plays like this even 2 games out of 3, the Lakers are real, real tough to beat in a series.

  112. Also, it seemed like the Lakers did a better job overall of closing out quarters, which has been a big problem throughout the season.

  113. It’s crazy how Metta always shows up for big games.

    Kobe set the tone off the bat with a huge 18. He still sits atop that top SG spot. Sorry I every doubted you 24

    Heat shot 37% but had more off. rebounds than def. 18 – 17

    Finally a signature win

  114. And for the record Gasol didn’t always have this problem. In his prime he used to be able to use his quickness when guys tried to push him around. Now that he has lost a step he just can’t seem to get away from guys who are bodying him up.

  115. An abbreviated recap is up so you can move your comments to the new thread.

    A full recap will be up a bit later.

  116. Yes, a signature win. For once, the Lakers played to their strengths–solid D against a good offensive team (especially around the bucket), getting the ball to the big men on offense, and of course Kobe being Kobe when it counts. Artest actually hitting shots was surprising, but his D wasn’t–he’s always pumped up when defending strong, elite opponents like LeBron or Pierce.

    Yes, Bosh would have definitely helped the Heat, but this year, every win for the Lakers counts, especially against an elite team.

    Still an open question whether the team needs to make a major move (which would cost Pau and/or Drew) versus tinkering around the edges to somehow get a decent PG without touching their Big 3. At least wins like this puts the Lakers in a relative position of strength–if Orlando wants to deal, they have to do it on the Lakers’ terms, not the other way around.

  117. @117 – Bynum for Howard is OK. I’m fine with Bynum, fine w/ DH too…either way. Or whatever happens.

    But keeping Pau, IMHO, is a MUST.

    Artest is a very good defender.

    LBJ is mentaly unstable.

    Lakers rock!