Preview and Chat: The Oklahoma City Thunder

Emile Avanessian —  April 22, 2012

Records: Lakers: 40-23 (3rd in the West), Thunder: 46-17 (2nd in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers: 106.1 (11th in the NBA), Thunder: 109.8 (2nd in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers: 104.3 (13th in the NBA), Thunder: 102.9 (9th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Ramon Sessions, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Thunder: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha
Injuries: Lakers: none; Thunder: none

The Lakers Coming In: With 96 minutes of ball remaining in a breakneck regular season, and just one day between the end of Game 66 and the beginning of the postseason, veteran playoff-bound squads – particularly those with a nicked-up superstar – are likely engaging in some late-stage R&R. Not in Lakerland, where the Purple and Gold – full complement of talent now in tow – are hustling to get back up to speed while locked in a tooth-and-nail, cross-hallway battle for playoff position and a division title.

After a seven-game absence, Kobe Bryant and his presumably less sore shin returned to action on Friday night in San Antonio. After a slow start in which he made just two of six shots, Kobe found his footing, finishing 7-of-12 from the field for 18 points in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, much of the remainder of the starting five – be it Pau Gasol (4-10 FG, 11 points in 30 minutes), Andrew Bynum (TWO rebounds, just days after grabbing 30 against the same squad) or Ramon Sessions (5 points on 2-of-9 in 24 minutes) – fell well short of the standards they’d set in the Mamba’s absence. With Tim Duncan and Tony Parker scoring an efficient 41 and Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Daniel Green and Gary Neal connecting on 80% (8-of-10) of their 3-point attempts, I’m not sure any team has the bullets in its gun to down the Spurs, but at this time of year, there’s really no excuse for putting forth that lackluster an effort on the boards and offering so little resistance in the midst of a third quarter blitz.

Looking forward, the Lakers welcome to Staples an OKC squad that’s given them fits in both meetings this season – running the Lakers ragged in a 15-point home win on February 23, then overcoming a brutal start in L.A. on March 29 and riding Russ Westbrook’s 36 to a nine-point win on the Lakers’ home floor.

The Thunder Coming In: The Thunder enter Sunday’s showdown in a situation similar to that of Lakers, trailing San Antonio by one-half game for the West’s top spot. Though they’ve won four of five, OKC is hardly firing on all cylinders. Since April 1, they’ve not only failed (in five opportunities) to notch a victory against playoff-bound opposition, but have fallen short of the 100-mark on each occasion and only once connected on better than 45% of their field goal (45.2% v. Memphis on 4/2) and 32% of their 3-point attempts (46.2% on 4/11 v. Clippers).

Rightfully, all eyes with be on OKC’s dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but it’s the remainder of the roster, and their ability to neutralize the Lakers trio of stars. In the paint, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins (averaging 17 points, 19.5 rebounds and 5 blocks in the previous two meetings), with glue guy extraordinaire Nick Collison off the bench, will lock horns with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, whom they’ve “held” to a combined 37 points and 20 rebounds per game.

Meanwhile, in the backcourt, Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden will look to extend Kobe’s struggles against the Thunder. In the two previous meetings, Kobe has managed a combined 47 points on an awful 14-of-49 (28.6%) from the field, due in large part to the length and athleticism of OKC’s defenders.

Thunder Blogs: For the latest news and insight on the crew from OKC, check out the excellent work done by Daily Thunder and Welcome To Loud City.

Keys to the Game: Win the battle of the bigs. It’s tough to imagine Kobe hitting the floor in full facilitator mode, but he will do well to work off of his elite duo of seven-footers on the inside. Conversely, I’d look for the Thunder to pack the middle in an effort to entice not just Kobe, but all of the Lakers perimeter players (I am including Gasol here) to abandon the inside-out approach in favor of a jump-shot heavy approach. Be it via strong entry passes or dribble penetration, a top priority for the Lakers on Sunday will be to knife into the paint and take advantage of the defensive aggressiveness of the OKC bigs to earn frequent trips to the foul line and frequent, foul-induced trips to the bench for Perk and Ibaka (especially Ibaka, with whom on the floor, the Lakers’ offensive efficiency drops to just 86.7, compared with 108.6 without; great stat from Matt Moore, via Twitter).

Additionally, and thanks to Darius for his great input here, there are two areas of great importance. First, the Lakers’ ability to deal with Westbrook in the pick and roll will be vital. In the teams’ last match up, Russ was dialed in from mid-range, which, combined with the Lakers’ bigs (namely Bynum) sagging below the screens proved deadly. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers maintain this approach on Sunday, or tweak their scheme by having the bigs play the screen a bit more aggressively. This is not to say that the bigs will must hedge hard, but by playing a bit higher on the screen, Westbrook will have to deal with a defender – one prepared to contest the mid-range J – earlier, and perhaps be forced into more rushed decisions.

Finally, and every bit as importantly, the Lakers must get back in transition. It is vital that the Lakers effectively “build a wall” against Westbrook’s penetration, while also staying with the Thunder players filling the lanes. The keys here will be better floor balance and the perimeter guys prioritizing transition D over crashing the offensive glass. With Pau and Bynum – two of the best in the biz – already attacking the offensive boards, MWP and Matt Barnes will be far better served in working to limit OKC’s easy buckets by limiting run out opportunities.

Whether it ultimately results in a victory remains to be seen, but with the Clippers nipping at their heels, a possible second round matchup looming and third career scoring title in the balance (27.9 per game, v. Durant’s 27.8; yeah, you’re right, Kobe probably doesn’t care at all about that), look for Kobe and the Lakers to ratchet up the intensity on Sunday afternoon.

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

Emile Avanessian


224 responses to Preview and Chat: The Oklahoma City Thunder

  1. PnR defense

    Ibaka offensive rebounds


  2. Kobe Alert: I am going to call out my guy KB in today’s Kobe Alert.
    1) He must step it up on Defense. I pointed out our loss of the TO war in 53 of 64 games so far this tear. Well KB needs to step up here. He is averaging 1.19 Stls and 3.53 TO per game He hasn’t had a single steal in forever, + still needs 4 steals to eclipse Magic for 15th all time and the #1 Laker ever. How bout doing that before the end of the season?
    2) Scoring title: He has the slightest of leads over KD coming in, + KD has an extra game. If KB has any chance at the scoring title, he must trounce Durant today. IMO – this is our only shot to win the game as well. So KB – I am looking for 40+.
    Those are the two goals : )

  3. We don’t need Kobe chasing steals. Staying within the same area code as the guy he’s guarding and getting a hand up will be quite sufficient.

  4. Joel: The point is that he has not been active on defense at all. We certainly do not want the status quo of the defense he has been playing in let’s say the last 10 games that he has played. And he has hardly been chasing the steals during that time (almost none). Also, just like the bench scoring, we can’t spot the other team the TO battle every night, so the gap between KB’s 1.19 Stls + 3.53 TO must be narrowed.

  5. Good to see that Drew isn’t letting his two-rebound performance the other night panic him into putting forth any more effort in the early going today.

  6. MWP is a boss

  7. If we get down 10 to these guys its game over.

  8. steve blake on harden.

  9. Perhaps Mike Brown wants to see what Jordan Hill can do with the second unit.

  10. I thought there would be more kudos to MB for playing Ebanks and Hill early in this game.

    The Lakers are going to come back in this game….

  11. game over.

  12. The server wouldn’t allow me to post fast enough once i saw harden on Blake – nice to see hill get some burn though

  13. Why cant steve blake make a god damn entry pass without turning it over ONE effing time! HOW is this guy a better option than goudelock? Can we still add a player from the D League and carry them into the playoffs??

  14. I do hope our bench is planning on completing one or two plays without turning the ball over this afternoon.

    Hill sighting before Murphy and McRob? I wish our roster had been set earlier, but I can’t complain that MB is giving him a good look. Give everyone a chance.

    I really hope Presti has a brain fart and takes Ibaka over Harden, even though I know it won’t happen. Ibaka is replaceable. Harden is just too good.

    Edit: Hill looks phenomenal on the boards. Very glad MB is giving him a look.

  15. This genius Brown puts Blake on Harden? Fire this guy.

  16. Hill Gasol>Bynum Gasol

  17. So Murphy was playing over Hill because…

  18. Joel,

    Because Hill was injured an unavailable before 4 or 5 games ago.

  19. Jordan Hill still looks like his knee is weak but is a giant improvement over anyone the Lakers have off their bench over 6-7. Now if we can get out other d leaguer (Blake) out of the rotation.

  20. Nice to finally see Hill out there. I don’t know about Blake on Harden though…

  21. So so you guys still think Bynum can be the number 1 option on the Lakers? Think he would still be great without a Kobe around? I like Bynum as a person, but as a player (as of now) I don’t! He’s lazy and selfish! He only plays defense when his offense is going good.. & you have nerve to compare hime to Howard or Garnett—those guys always treat him like a child!

  22. Monster offensive rebound by hill

  23. Kareem,

    Fair point, I knew he was out but I kind of lost track of when he returned.

  24. You guys see Hill’s energy and how he switch men with Pau on the PnR. Such a great sight.

    Bynum comes in back door jam. sigh. make that 2 dunks

  25. Funny we’re always caught napping on defense when Bynum is in the game. Bynum is just not exuding a sense of caring about this game. He’s lacked a bounce in his step on defense for too long now. These last few games he needs to pick it up defensively to be ready for the playoffs.

    I’ve watched Jordan Hill play ever since his days at Arizona. Good to see this high octane player get healthy enough to get game time. He’ll continue to improve as he gets in game shape.

  26. Does Jordan Hill having a good game mean that we won’t see him get any more playing time in the future?

  27. If Hill can improve his finishing inside he could be a tremendous player off the bench. Kudos to MB for not just playing him, but giving him some extended run.

    For shame, Sessions. No point in that reach-in from behind when Harden was gone.

  28. Hmmm…just chiming in to say I wonder why MB waited so long to play Hill. He’s been available for the past two weeks, and as we can clearly see, he’s one of the best rebounders in the league.

  29. Wow. Bynum actually got a foul call when someone grabbed at him.

  30. Jesus Christ Artest…

  31. That was unintentional, but he deserved the ejection I guess?

  32. Intentional?

  33. Wow. I was sure on the original play he was just celebrating and it was an accident. But on the replay now it does look on purpose. Nasty play.

    Screw you, Breen. In your holier-than-thou, judgmental tone.

  34. Artest is a nut job. Screw up the game and wil get suspended. Stupid!

  35. How many games is this going to be?

  36. why did harden bump him after the basket? that’s what you get, tough guy.

  37. Ron Artest with a dunk and then ejected after an elbow to Harden. Will he be suspend and if so will it be for games in the playoffs? He will likely be suspended for multiple games.

  38. Well guys, hope ebanks is ready to be a starter in the playoffs. Ron is gonna get 3-5 games.

  39. That was intentional.

    Ron was too hype

    He won’t play in the playoffs. Guranteed

  40. Based on what drew got last year this looks like five games to me–similar type of play from the league’s perspective–plus it’s a laker

  41. I think that he barely grazed Harden there honestly. Then Harden laid on the ground to sell it. That’s disappointing.

  42. That elbow was semi-intentional. Dumb play, but Harden played with fire and got burned. OKC likes to get in the path of opposing players when they’re running up the court to draw charges, and Harden could have easily avoided contact with MWP after that dunk.

  43. Harden walked up to bump Artest after the dunk, he had no business doing that. I hope the league takes that into consideration also.

    The game will get very physical from here.

    There you go Bynum back up your ejected player. We have to go up to DUNK everything around the rim. Ibaka’s since of indignation is heightened since Artest got in a defensive stance against him. He’s going to do what all good basketball players would do. And that’s to take it out on the other team in the game.

    We are going to have to match OKC’s energy and sense of outrage in the second half. They are going to come with it!

  44. daaaammmm… Artest….

  45. Who cares what Harden did or didn’t do? Artest has just screwed us over for at least the first round of the playoffs.

  46. The more replays you watch, the worse it looks.

    Is it true now that since Harden didn’t shoot his FTs he can’t come back in the game? I know there’s a rule like that but not sure if it applies to flagrant 2’s.

    Durant is going to go off on us now.

  47. Now the Lakers have zero chance to win in the first round. Way to go Artest 🙂

  48. Ibake treating Bynum like a child again!

  49. Mwp could take ibaka by the way.

  50. 43

    Are you serious? He caught him flush in the face!!!!

  51. I bet MWP gets 5 games for that.

    Which means he misses most of the 1st round at minimum.

    In the case of a Flagrant 2 -the player who took the Flagrant does not have to take the free throws if they go to the lockeroom for medical treatment.

    Harden can come back in.

  52. wow… looks like artest will be gone for 2-4 games. its really a shame, because right now he is playing incredibly. i mean, look how fit his body is right now. the last play: bumping durant then dunking with his left with ibaka right behind him… very athletic play that i thought we´d never see him do after the way he started the season this year.

  53. @49 – I thought it was more of a technical foul flagrant than an actual formal flagrant, because it happened after a made basket when the ball was dead. So, perhaps Harden can return to the game.

  54. Well we had the Veto at the beginning of the season, and now the commissioner’s office will make a significant ruling on us at the end of the season. I think the best we can hope for is 3 games.

  55. Artest is officially back. I’ll take awful Artest plays like that if they come with old school Artest basketball plays. Need to take the good with the bad. When RonRon is at his best he can also be at his worst. Unfortunate reality.

  56. That fool lost the season. Now 5th place and no Artest for playoffs aganist Griz. 1st round and out. Amnesty that fool next year. Amazingly stupid.

  57. Got to take the good with the bad when you’ve got Ron-Ron on your team. My guess is he gets five games, so he’ll miss the last game of the regular season and return for Game 1 of the 2nd round 😀

  58. I’m in disbelief that Ibaka wasn’t given a technical for running after Ron like that… I’m okay with the flagrant 2 call, but OKC wasn’t completely innocent either.

  59. I hope that’s Ron’s last game as a Laker no room for that in Lakerland. Stupid just stupid

    Lakers image is getting destroyed last 2 years. Sad.

  60. I’m glad people here at least are talking about the aspect that the ESPN talking heads are not going mention even once, which is Harden walking up to Artest to impede his path after the dunk. To do that to one of the strongest and also most volatile players in the league is to take a risk, and purely to make a little bitch move. That’s not to condone Artest, but it deserves a mention.

  61. The weirdest part is that his awesome dunk pulled them within 1. It wasn’t like Bynum’s cheap shots against Gerald Wallace and JJ Barea where the Lakers were being embarrassed.

  62. Dm, I think in that circumstance – just let it go.

    Can’t defend Ron on that one in any way. He may not have “intentionally” done that do Harden but,

    it was a highly likely result because Harden was right next to him.

    Outside of the basketball court – thats a violent battery.

    Human nature is going to suggest that Ibaka reacts. Ibaka shouldn’t be punished – no fists were thrown.

  63. Artest is guilty. Period.

    But Harden was very smart bumping on him after the basket. And he acted up, as expected.

    He’s fine and will come back.

  64. What are the rules regarding playoffs suspensions and regular season suspensions? I mean missing 8 regular season games is pretty much the same thing as missing one postseason game right? It would be fair for Artest to be suspended from one regular season game and one post season game at most. Or around 5-8 regular season games this year and next year. But common sense doesmt usually come into pkay when it comes to the NBA.

  65. The Lakers playoffs just got infinitely harder thanks to MWP’s impending suspension. Artest was playing well before this happened.

  66. Kevin,
    Are you a Lakers fan? I just don’t think you are. Why would you want the Lakers best defender and SF off the team? Did you want Magic cut when he bumped a referee?

  67. Brillent post Aaron ! You know basketball! If the Lakers finish 5th because of that nut they have little chance of beating Griz with home court.

    You will be posting into the wind!

  68. @63) BlizzardOfOz, right Harden was low key going to bump Artest knowing that Artest is a volatile player. Harden sacrificed himself for the sake of the team. This leads me to believe that they are afraid of MWP and the Lakers. You make moves like this to incite the other player or team into an uncontrollable emotion when you know they are better than you.

    This will clearly test where the Lakers are as a team. If they care about MWP they’ll come out and execute on offense and defense. My team once rallied back from 13 for the win against a Drew Gooden led team in high school when one of our players got dunked on and fouled out.

  69. Best case scrnario: 2 games. bc its ron artest, and bc stern doesnt give time off for good behavior, he’ll get 5.

    and if barnes ankle thing is worse, out SF spot just got really weak…

  70. That was like inticing a pitbull! What fool taunts a pitbull? Harden was wrong too!! Artest had a mental lapse that’s it. I don’t think he actually meant to hurt the guy. It looks worse then it is. If it was so hard he wouldn’t come back out to play.

    MWP ashame on you! But his reputation is still holding against him regardless of the great things he’s done…

    I would suspend him for 3 games and Harden should get suspended for one game because he inticed this… these players know better than running into a fool! : }

  71. Meltdown World Peace!

  72. Aaron: no room for dirty plays. Bynum and Artest should go.

  73. Watch it at regular speed. It’s not intentional. Harden runs into Artest and bumps him and initiates contact. Artest is in mid-cheer. Slow motion reveals Artest never looks at Harden once, let alone aims for him.

    I can understand the ejection on principle alone, sure. And a suspension for a game is fine if only because it’s Ron Artest and it’s David Stern.

    Any more than that, and it’s stupid.

  74. LMAO some of the things people are saying on here are borderline crazy.

    The Thunder are afraid of the Lakers?

    Harden should be suspended one game?

    Next thing I’m going to read is that Mike Brown is going to get a statue in front of Staples.

  75. barnes has got to body durant up and deny him good position.

  76. Sure would be nice to see Sessions play point guard. He’s not playing good.

  77. Some of the bias on here is astounding.

  78. Bynum got 4 games, but he did it after the season was over, effectively. My guess is Artest (not going to call him World Peace today) gets the Sacto game, 2 playoff games, and 2 reg season games next year.

    I agree it looks worse than it was, but he should still obviously be suspended. Doesn’t matter if Harden bumped him.

    Also, Westbrook and Durant were 4/16 at the half and the Lakers were down 5. No reason to think the Lakers can win a series against this team.

  79. Some of the bias on here is astounding.


    Sure, but this is a fan site, at the end of the day. Always has been.

  80. Yes afraid of the Lakers. No one in the league wants to see the Lakers get it together. They want Miami, OKC or Chicago to be in the finals.

    Just listen to the announcers they are totally anti-Lakers. David Stern started the year anti-Lakers.

  81. I mean – Laker fans aren’t going to want a suspension – but its going to happen.

    And its only going to increase if Harden has to miss games because of a concussion – which he likely has.

    Aaron – I would think – as a matter of deterrence – that the league wouldn’t want to separate conduct in the regular season from conduct in the playoffs. These are still people, at the end of the day, playing BASKETBALL.

    If there was some sort of excel spreadsheet that called for Artest to get 10 games – than playoff games should be included.

    It sucks – but its inevitable.

    And – I don’t think its fair to bring in Artests past history here – its been 8 YEARS since the melee, and he has been a pretty good NBA citizen since.

    Thats why I think it will be 5 games – unless Harden misses games – which then Artest will lose additional games to what Harden is expected to miss.

  82. You think Durant prefers being guarded by Barnes as opposed to Artest?

  83. there’s a rule that says artest is suspended for as long as harden is out?

  84. MWP = ratings
    Very dirty play, he was obviously still seething over the Ibaka elbow. Three games max, but then you would have to consider his past grievances…

    Everyone talks for four months about how MWP is the worst/second worst player we’ve got. Now he might miss out on the playoffs opening round and we’re automaticly sunk?

    I hope Harden’s ok, he’s been the Laker’s bane all season. OKC can beat us without him, but then look at Lakers v Mavericks last year, playoffs tell a different story.

  85. Kobe’s really rusty

    Bynum is quitting. You see that Aaron

  86. Horrible and indefensible foul by Artest. For those posters who claim to think it was some kind of accident, why didn’t Ron react and look over if he was indeed surprised by the contact?! Instead, he followed through and kept running. 100 percent intentional.

    This was an ugly play that may cost us the playoffs. I think it’s at least a 5 game suspension and wouldn’t be completely surprised (given his history) if he is just banned from postseason play entirely.

    I was really developing huge love for MWP, but the demon within could not be contained, I guess…

  87. So no one takes offense to Durant hitting Kobe in the face with no aim on the ball?

    Announcers: “Oh that’s just an emotional hit!”

    Really? Kobe hit Durant in the eye one play before that on accident when he was going for the ball. Durant turns around on the very next play against Kobe and goes for Kobe’s face but no outrage. Why, because Durant is perceived to be a good guy.

  88. when you come behind someone when their back is to you, your intent is always to not only impede their progress but to irritate thru the element of surprise. let’s just say he got more than he bargained for and leave it at that.

    what’s up with bynumb ? kobe’s out of control, and galsal is not soft, he’s weak.

    can’t wait for the playoffs??

    Go Lakers !

  89. the whole team has quit – call a frackin time out

  90. Harden been asking for trouble ever since he was talking smack to Kobe in Okc.

    Stern you stoped the best PG in the NBA from being a laker. Please be nice with this suspension. 🙂

  91. Chearn, I am sorry but that is ludicrous.

    The Thunder almost took the Lakers 7 games the year they won the title 3 years ago.
    The Lakers are older and not as talented, the Thunder are older and much more mature and talented.
    The Thunder have crushed the Lakers this year and are in the process of doing it a third time.

    This is the 2012 Lakers team, NOBODY is afraid of them.

  92. durant just happened to poke kobe in the eye after kobe accidentally raked his face?

  93. also something to point out – its close to the end of the 3rd and we have 55pts

  94. Mike brown playing lineups he hasn’t played all year 2 games from the playoffs.

    Laker starters shouldn’t play til the postseason. clear their heads and get focused.

  95. frustration everywhere, except Bynum laughing with Westbrook during Sefolosha’s free throw.

  96. Well coached team. Kobe is terrible. I can only hope Brown and Artest are gone next year when Lakers get crushed in first round.


  97. This is the 3rd game in a row where MB does not control the flow of the game when it is getting out of control – the team does not play hard for him and as we saw in cleveland he does not command any respect from his players – reality is now that we will be out of the first round and the team is getting blown up next year, no chance gasol is on the roseter and we are paying 50+ million in TAX in top of the 50 million we will be paying in rev sharing to be a one round and out team next year – new CBA is gonna screw up he big markets and overall NBA revenue will fall because no one gives a crap about milwakee or charlotte

  98. Basically I’m sayin MWP’s foul was semi-intentional. Players throw elbows all the time–all game long. MWP just threw one at the wrong time and it connected the wrong way… He did mean throw it but i doubt he meant it to be so flagrant!

  99. bynum should be benched he can care less about playing – with all of the press on locker room issues on the lakers i wonder if he will sign with us long term

  100. Bynum is the most overrated player in the league. How can you call him the best player on a team?

    Brown has to play Blake because Sessions is inept at this point.

    Lakers miss Kuester. Offense is in shambles without him.

    Thing is it was a game before the elbow.

  101. Oh boy this is so damn f*king annoying.

  102. Another 3rd quarter where the Lakers let the game get out of hand.

    This last week of basketball proves the Lakers aren’t an elite team.

    They can stick close for a little bit – but once the other team has their run – they don’t have the defensive capability or the offensive firepower to spurt back into it.


  103. Not sure what’s worse this game: Bynum’s energy level or fans saying Harden was “asking for it”.

  104. lakers are still in this one. need to bookend the 4th quarter with fat runs.

  105. 93 Lakers8884, it may be but it’s my opinion and I like everyone else is entitled to that.

    MB might want to paste that on the Lakers board and maybe they’ll believe that the league is afraid of them and play like they belong. Right now they are doing a slow turn to the ground like the wicked witch of the west in the Wizard of Oz: Melting!

    I’ve been around this game long enough to know that there are cycles to whom the champions will be. LOL.

  106. Brown ” I don’t know. i didn’t see it”. Does he know anything?

  107. If nothing else, these games are making it clear once and for all just where the Lakers stand in the Western conference picture…

  108. How could we win it all when..
    1. Bynum doesn’t give a damnnn!

    2. MB tryin new lineups going into the playoffs…. wow, really MB?

    3. MB pulls out a playcard, lol?

    4. We have nobody that plays 4 quarters of defense!

    5. No MWP for defense in the playoffs early.

    6. Session/Blake on floor at same time.

    7. Gasol playin out of position. He’s clearly a 4.

    8. Kobe tired.

    9. No bench

    10. no team spirit!

  109. Its the code of hammurabi out there today. And the refs letting it happen. The masked Mamba will return!

  110. There is very little precedent for this type of suspension. I do not think they will split it between this year and next year unless they run out of games. I think they will set the #, and he will miss the SAC game and then the # of playoff games necessary to complete it. So if it is a 5 game suspension, he will miss the SAC game and the first 4 playoff games. There have been many multi gamers given in the playoffs, where the penalty was completed in the next regular season (Ex: Bynum), however a multi gamer in the regular season being completed in the playoffs is a rarity.

  111. I respect your opinion Chearn, I’m just saying it’s not logical. But we can both agree this is getting out of hand.

    Great post Darius, that was one of the cheapest shots I have ever seen in a game. Artest knew exactly what he was doing and to whom.

  112. I wish Fisher would get more minutes. Lakers might have a chance. 

  113. Frank the Tank April 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Bynum is coasting until playoffs, he doesn’t want to get injured. Kobe is rusty and not looking like himself, but I think this will improve in the playoffs. He is still harassing Westbrook on the defensive end.

    Ron’s play is indefensible, but once he returns, do not underestimate the power of having an enforcer on the team. Harden will think twice about doing that next time.

  114. There we go. Get the ball into the post!!!

    I’ll take this loss if Hill gets into the rotation

  115. @Darius, you quoted please saying “asking for it”. A quick search of the page reveals that phrase doesn’t appear once. No one said that, only that Harden is not blameless. All the moralizing from the commentators is so lame. Artest is volatile, emotional, and a bully; those same qualities make him both a great defender and prone to stepping over the line. Deal out the suspension, but spare us the elaborate outrage rituals complete with smelling salts and fainting couches, that’s all I’m saying.

  116. 113 Lakers8884, I concur, it’s out of hand but the Lakers are in transition without the front office clearly stating so, we are re-building.

    One thing though when Kobe thought he was the man, once he believed that he never backed away from that notion.

    I’ll take whatever the Lakers give us this year and in the future…until we get a SUPERSTAR.

    Lean years are a coming, but such is the decision to follow the Lakers rather than the hottest team in the league in any given year.

  117. AB is just a lazy self centered p layer who after 7 years shows he will never be more then a one way player.

  118. oh for pete’s sake Aaron, seriously you can’t tell the diff between Magic bumping a ref and Artest elbowing someone in the head?!

    I mean, really …

    Oh, and fans – you know, people who post here – who don’t like Lakers players acting like total nitwits aren’t Lakers fans. At least, that’s the world according to Aaron, on “Aaron Blue and Gold”.

    Yeah, and by the way, I’d say “nitwit” is a pretty good description of Ron Artest or whatever he calls himself these days. His momma must have dropped him on his head when he was a baby.

  119. If we didnt split the last 6 sets of free throws this would be a 6 point game

  120. One positive: Kobe’s played Westbrook about as well as you can hope for.

  121. how was that not a moving screen!!!!

  122. BTW this is not garbage time and the Lakers are at least making this a game.

    Sans Bynum! Hmmmmm…….

  123. Give me Hill’s effort over Bynum’s skill with no effort!

  124. maybe we did have a bench all year but MB is an idiot

  125. Lakers making a late run in this game. Blake’s three puts LA down 5.

  126. Lets get this. Gotta make free throws the rest of the way!

  127. Ebanks is fighting. He’s doing a great job when the refs aren’t letting Perkins run him over with his moving screens.

  128. +126

  129. Ebanks is the only SF in the league who is almost as long as Durant. Must be an adjustment for KD.

  130. Jordan Hill has made a huge difference today. Can we finally glue Murphy to the bench indefinitely?

  131. Well what do ya know Lakers playing defense

  132. Snoopy,
    Exactly. PGs can’t be effective against athletic bigger wing players. Ask Derek Rose last year against Miami. Kobe has shown he can stop any PG.

  133. Lakers fighting just needed some very very good stops.

  134. we are a bit more of a pressence in the picl and rolls thats because bynum is on the bench

  135. if we win the game? i take it all back.

    Go Lakers !

  136. After that rebound by Ebanks, I guess no one saw Perkins walk up behind him and bump him?

    Wait…watching Blake this period, I guess you know why MB stuck with him.

    The Kobe System!

    BTW, no Sessions either and I haven’t even noticed.

    No, no one wants the Lakers to figure this season out because of Kobe Bean Bryant. There is no quit in him!

  137. 110

    And by that I mean just as good as OKC. What did you think I meant? 😛

  138. WOW KOBE!!!! Three pointer gives Lakers the lead by 1

  139. Stop! Kobe time!

  140. Lakers need effort and heart over skill without heart

  141. Biggest difference between Brown and Phil Jackson… Phil never stayed with hot lineups down the stretch. Brown did. So far so good.

  142. Just need very good defense 1 or 2 more stops and we take this one.

  143. I like the fight in the Lakers! That’s all I want is a GAME!

    Again, no Bynum or Sessions. Ouch!

    I think Ebanks and Hill are ready for a little more primetime play.

  144. Kobe with another 3 to beat the 24 second clock.

  145. I dont care if they r tired. Keep this team on the floor for all the OT

  146. it’s overtime and gotta take the wifey grocery shopping……

    Go Lakers !

  147. Hell of a game

  148. Our pick and roll defense looks so much better when we have a quick, athletic 4 next to Pau.

    But you can see the offensive limitations of this lineup. It’ll take more Hail Mary’s from Kobe to score. This wouldn’t be a bad time to go back to Sessions, we need another creator out there right now.

  149. Win or loss, happy with the effort down the stretch. OKC proving they still have some things to work on, namely stupid fouls, turnovers, and all jump shots before they can win a championship.

  150. This is what EFFORT looks like!

  151. Great defense on Westbrooke! What would we do without Pau?

  152. Where the h is andrew?

  153. Anyone else notice that the only guy who didnt applaud when the buzzer sounded was drew? Guy is the worst teammate on the planet

  154. Playoff basketball here

  155. why wasnt that a charge on westbrook

  156. Why did Kobe run the clock down in that case? I don’t want a 2-for-1 if there’s no good shot, but it makes more sense to at least try to create something instead of running time off and giving them the last shot again.

    Loving, loving, loving Ebanks’ work on D.

  157. Play on players!

    Funny how Pau the soft player is always out there grinding in tough games.

    Double Overtime, who would of thunk?

  158. I know you can’t put him in cold here but it would be nice to have a shot blocker on the floor for this last defensive stand here. We will see what happens.

  159. this lineup is playing hard put only 2 real threats on offense

  160. 2nd overtime, still waiting for the wifey to get ready to go grocery shopping…

    Go Lakers !

  161. Hill an intense +19

  162. I think you have to go to your starting lineup. Everyone is tired now and the Lakers have two bullets to fire (Bynum/Sessions) while the Thunder have Harden out.

  163. jordan hill = taj gibson

  164. Bynum deserved to be benched. Guy played with zero effort the last few games. Good job Mike Brown for doing what he should’ve done the past week.

  165. So. Much. Fun.

  166. Kobe wants to win this game! Let’s hope Bynum is learning something about winning and being alpha but I’m not overly hopeful.

    The leader gathers the team for a huddle. Go Kobe, go Kobe.

  167. This is the NBA game of the year we are watching

  168. Brown is amazing . Nice time to make a point you henius,

  169. I don’t have access to the game. Is Westbrook just having a bad game or is there more to it? Who’s covering him/how are they scheming him and is it working?

  170. Where’s Kuester when you need him??

  171. This Kobe fella has a future in the league.

  172. Frank the Tank April 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Kobe freaking Bryant!

  173. Happy, happy, happy. This is Lakers basketball!

  174. Why not double Kobe? Because it seems he is taking very tough shots… Of course for Bryant they are not.

  175. +168 – he is the big man off the bench we have been looking for a la gibson, arthur speights role – better finding him late than never

  176. Even tho there are offensive limitations with this lineup, this is the best defense we can put out there right now where every pnr gets hedged.

  177. Look at Bynum sulking!! How in the world is this guy consider by some to be the Next Best Thing! Yeah right! As I said I like the guy but he’s showing his immaturity. Ibaka is only 22 and acts like a real MAN… so what’s Bynum excuse?

  178. Frank the Tank April 22, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Kobe has played all world D on Westbrook and simply kept the Lakers in the game on both ends of the floor. Fantastic game, win or lose.

  179. Kareem, Kobe has done a decent job of guarding Westbrook but in all seriousness Durant and Westbrook have missed a TON of shots they normally hit.

  180. best game of the season,Kobe’s incredible defense on Russ.

  181. i hope this shows Bynum what a playoffs effort is all about

  182. Kobe and Ebanks with clutch FTs

  183. Kobe, Ebanks and Blake with clutch FTs to ice the game

  184. Defense causes players to miss shots. At least, that’s what they say when Kobe misses.

    Durant, Westbrooke and Harden love to party in Los Angeles.

    Jordan Hill got 15 rebounds! Rebounds are hustle plays…period!

    Wait Jordan Hill had his first double double as a Lakers…awesome.

    Pau should not play in the Sacramento game, let him rest, 49 mins this game.

  185. Huge game; Double OT; the MWP incident; Kobe for 26 with Durant for 35; Hill out of nowhere for 14/15

    Put it in the vault – cause that 1 is a classic !!!!!

  186. This game shows me that the Lakers problem on defense isn’t coaching.

    Their problem on defense isn’t that their slow.

    Their problem on defense is two words – Andrew Bynum.

    Lakers played consistently good defense once he was relegated to the bench. Because all of their players hustled up and down the floor.

    Imagine how good this team could be if they had a real center?

  187. I am in shock!

  188. Amazing game – send it to the NBA vault !!!

  189. Keys to game: Brown leaving hot lineup in/Blake being moved to SG with Kobe at PG when Ramon is on bench.

  190. This is why the NBA is FANtastic

  191. we may have lost an Artest but we gained Hill+Ebanks off the bench. You add Barnes to that lineup and all of a sudden you have 3 very good rebounders to crash the offensive glass on a unit that struggles to shoot.

    Also, I am going to take credit for this win by not posting comments as the Lakers made their comeback and won. This *magically* aided the team. I’m sure of it!

  192. Hey Aaron where was your all world center?

  193. Incredible game

  194. Keys to the game: Bynum sitting and putting Hill in. After that, both Pau and Hill would hedge aggressively allowing Kobe and Ebanks to recover on Durant and Westbrook. It was the defense that won that game. And it was a good move to put a listless Bynum on the bench.

    If Ebanks plays that inspired defense every game, we can weather (hopefully) MWP’s suspension.

  195. Just have faith and believe in this team. Down 18 in the 4th, this team rally. Patience is a virtue. Now, if only Mike Brown do realize what J.Hill can do in this team.

  196. Crazy game! I know Brown had to be thinking of subbing in somebody at the start of second OT just because of the minutes played. I am glad he didn’t. Ebanks, Hill and Blake (Blake!) deserved to close it out.

  197. play hill for defense late in games from now on.

    kobe with incredible shot making. and neutralized westbrook all game

  198. Agree with Aaron–while I haven’t been impressed with MB’s coaching in general, he deserves credit for keeping Blake, Ebanks, and Hill in for the rest of the game when they sparked the comeback that allowed Kobe to “do his thing” and send it into overtime.

    Thunder did a very Lakers-like thing, coasting on an 18-point lead and jacking up long misses. Nice to see it happen to another team for once.

  199. So, how many games do you think MWP will be suspended? I hope Harden is okay.

  200. Cdog, could not have said it better re: the team defense, this is mostly why Lamar finished games before instead of Andrew.

    I know there was no Harden, but things suddenly seem brighter if Hill is going to be a regular contributor.

    At least Ron-Ron is only really needed vs. Pierce and Durant, although Ebanks did allright today.

  201. That game was nuts. Must be pretty cool seeing 10th and 11th guysplaying with heart and energy. But if Hill and Ebanks have to get big minutes in the playoffs, Lakers are in trouble.

    OKC gave this game away. Specifically, Durant and Westbrook. Durant won’t get that many open j’s at their next practice. Westbrook – just reckless. What a game by Kobe. Total liability for three quarters, then just kills it.

    Andrew Bynum – I really don’t get it. Maybe he’d have a different attitude if he had played for the Nets or the Raptors for a few years before being lucky enough to play for a perennial contender. Knucklehead, and a terrible teammate.

    And then Artest. He shouldn’t see the first round. Recidivist, nasty, intentional, and then he played dumb afterward. If this was hockey, Cole Aldrich would’ve suplexed Kobe.

  202. How about some praise for Blake? All 3 of his three’s were huge and he also hit those two FT’s in the end.

    Blake has deserved some of the criticism he’s received through the year. But he’s played well since Kobe’s injury and he stepped up big today.

  203. What a great win by the Lakers. Loved how they fought back. They will clinch the Pacific Division and #3 seed if Clippers lose another game or the Lakers beat the Kings in the last game of the year.

  204. I hope Mike Brown plays Hill from now on. Gotta give credit to Blake, he stepped up big time.

  205. Great comeback win for the Lakers. Great games by Blake, Ebanks, and Hill. When looking at Hill and Ebanks it shows the Lakers do have some young talent. They just need more playing time. Next season with a full training camp and more practice time I expect Devin and Jordan to pay real dividends.

    With that said I still don’t know what to make of this team. Some nights they look like they can be the best team in the league. Many other nights they look lost and apathetic. After getting blown out by the Spurs Friday I won’t get too over joyous about this win. I am glad they got it, but I will stop short of saying they are on their way.

  206. Finally Brown plays Hill.

    This likely makes OKC the 2 and the Lakers the 3.

  207. What a classic! This is why I love the Lakers, through good and bad, up and down. Can’t ask for more than this. And Kobe is unlike anyone I have ever watched play. Not trying to compare him to MJ or anyone else — he is simply unique.

  208. Bynum -18

    Hill +27

    Gibson finishes games for chicago all the time. maybe brown should play hill late games for defense

  209. if all 3 teams, lakers, clippers and grizzlies are 41-25, who will be #3-5?

  210. Lets compare who contributes more to the following categories between Jordan Hill and Bynum:

    –Team Speed – Hill
    –Transition Defense – Hill
    –Pick and Roll Defense – Hill
    –Hustle – Hill
    –One on one offense – Bynum
    –Teammate – Hill
    –Full utilization of Pau and Kobe’s playmaking skills – Hill
    –Ball Movement – Hill
    –Salary – Bynum

  211. So for every 100 “Mike Brown is a bad coach comment” I’ll give one “Mike Brown is a good coach” comment. The Lakers won because…

    1) Mike Brown played his best back up big man off the bench. Jordan Hill has been a solid NBA PF his entire three year career. Nothing new here.

    2) Mike Brown decided to stick with the hot lineup for the fourth quarter and both OT periods. Many coaches including Phil Jackson would re insert his “closing” lineups for crunch time and any OTs. Mike Brown couldn’t have been too wrong as the Lakers eventually won in two extra periods.

    3) Mike Brown moved Steve Blake to his most natural position of spot up shooter. With Ramin on the bench and Kob Bryant def not 😉 … Brown made Kobe the triangle PG and let Blake play of the ball. Mike Brown is making all of the proper rotational adjustments all at the last few games of the year. Wow. Hmmmm…. Interesting…. I dont think its a cooincidemce. He had the bigger picture in mind all along.

  212. oh… And I would advice against the few “trolls” on this site. To even rea

  213. Hill said that he had to learn the defense and the team system. He was not rushed in because the need for his input was less needed as compared to Sessions. MB phoned Hill after the Spurs game, so MB knows something about Bynum that we don’t.

    Sessions has done an incredible job being thrown in the fire the way that he has. I appreciate his willingness to learn the plays by spending all of his spare time learning the Lakers players and the teams offense. Does he have a ways to go to learn their defense. Yes, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. So give him time. I’m sure that he’s learned that to be an NBA starting PG he’s going to have to play defense.

    Great game by Pau, Hill, Ebanks, and Blake. Nothing for Kobe as he just does what he does each and every game.

  214. Did Aaron collapse from stress in the middle of his post? ;-

  215. @213 the Lakers, because they won the season series against both teams.

  216. AFAIK, the Clippers hold the tiebreaker against the Grizzlies, and the Lakers hold the tiebreaker against both. If they all go 41-25, the Lakers are the 3, the Clippers are the 4, and the Grizzlies are the 5.

    If the Clippers lose on Wednesday night in New York or Tuesday in Atlanta (I am assuming they will win tonight), the Lakers will not need to win the Sacramento game.

  217. Whatta game! The Laker combo that finished that game showed tons of heart and just out and out hustled their butts off. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the Lakers outwork a team and want it more than their opponent. I loved it!

    2 guys who take tons of criticism from Laker Nation came up big today. I’ve got to give props to Steve Blake and Mike Brown. Steve was all over the court hustling and hit some huge shots. He was instrumental in the 4th quarter comeback. And Mike Brown had the good common sense to nail Andrew Bynum’s azz to the bench during crunch time. I know it’s a small sample size, but Jordan Hill played a fantastic game. Brown may finally have a club to use to get Bynum’s attention. If Jordan can play well, Mike can ration out Bynum’s playing time according to how Drew is playing. If Drew can’t muster the effort on defense, Brown now has a viable alternative in Hill.

    Kobe, Kobe, Kobe!! I thought he set the tone early with his defense on Westbrook. He simply would not allow Russell to have his way and it allowed the Lakers to hang close in the 1st half. Kobe held Russ way below his season average, but according to Jeff VG, it was Thabo who was so so outstanding on defense. Kobe’s defense and his outstanding late game heroics showed once again why he has been and still is one of the great two way players of all time.

    Of course, the game was marred by the ugly, inexplicable elbow that Metta threw. He hurt his team as badly as he hurt Harden. Peace is sure to be suspended at a time when the Lakers need all their chambers loaded. A total meltdown.

    I hope the Hornets take out some of their season long frustrations on the Clippers tonight and knock Paul and co. into the fourth seed. That’ll allow the Lakers to disregard the last game in Sacto and give the team a chance to rest Pau and Kobe for about a week before the Big Show begins.


  218. It really ticks me off that Devin Ebanks has not been able to find some playing time this season. He did a great job defending Durant. His offensive game is still raw but I’m sure that is because of a lack of opportunity and not because of a lack of talent.

    Brown and the Laker braintrust really had the chance to infuse some youth and athleticism into The Show this year. They missed the boat on Gerald Green and have allowed Ebanks and Morris and GLock to languish on the bench all year. And while Sessions was a much needed upgrade at the point, I’m just greedy enough to wish they could have gotten the Beasley trade done as well. Being so conservative cost the team a chance to add some youth and athleticism to an aging crew.

  219. I think that Sessions’ shoulder is really giving him problems, and it really shows on the defensive end. Ramon is what I call “pick-shy”. He has trouble dealing with screens, especially from a goon like Kendrick Perkins who the refs allow to play like an offensive lineman. Ramon needs to bulk up his upper body in the off season. Running into those type of screens is no fun.

  220. People call out Aaron, Aaron calls out trolls, trolls… divine justice.

  221. Bynum pisses me off to no end…I hope he felt like the jackoff he is watching EFFORT win a game…24 and gives the effort of a 60 year old…bum

  222. Aaron

    Coming from the guy who said Andrew he a all time great and Spurs will be out in the first round now Brown is coach of the year.

    He had no choice today. Ron had a brain cramp so he had to use Eubanks and Andrew was again loafing.

    Better question would be why did Eubanks get 20 DNP and why was Hill sitting and growing his hair on the bench the last month.

    Lakers won because they finally played hard with 3 reserves. Not because Brown is Popovich smart.

    If we lose that game with Andrew and Sessions sitting for 22 minutes while bench guys burn out then what is Brown then? Mad scientist.