More Change Will Require More Patience

Darius Soriano —  June 14, 2012

The torches are raised, the moat has been crossed, and the rebels are at the castle gates ready to storm.

The Lakers are again home watching the Finals rather than participating. For fans, this is a special type of anguish as they expect the Lakers to be where the Thunder and Heat are year after year. The fact that they were just there two seasons ago can actually make this harder, as being that close and then receding to a lesser position can be worse than attempting to climb the mountain in the first place.

Expectations, though, aren’t always rational – especially when we’re talking about sports. And now is the time for expectations to be slotted correctly.

The Lakers are in the midst of a transition and have been since being swept by the Mavericks a bit over a year ago. That defeat sent Phil Jackson into retirement and set off a string of events both in and out of the Lakers control:

  • Rather than hiring Brian Shaw, the Lakers decided Mike Brown was the better fit. Bringing in Brown meant the Lakers would have new schemes on both sides of the ball. For the key, long time Lakers (Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Fisher) this would be a radical shift from the ones they’d grown accustomed to running.
  • The lockout wiped out any pre-season teaching opportunities and drastically affected the learning curve for the team.
  • In the pre-season the Lakers – likely recognizing the need for roster change in accordance with their new systems – pulled off a trade for a franchise altering talent. However, that trade was then vetoed and the Lakers were back to square one.
  • The fallout from that trade, however, was that one of their key players who would have been dealt felt his position with the team was untenable and asked to be traded. The result was him being dealt.
  • In season, the Lakers again recognizing the need to shift their roster, performed two other significant trades. One brought in a point guard and the other brought in a serviceable back up big man (that also saw the departure of another key leader). Both players had to adjust on the fly to new roles with new teammates and had an up and down stretch run with the team. Meanwhile the team that remained had to adjust to not having one of “their guys” in the bunker with them.

To summarize, in the past year the Lakers have: changed coaches, traded key players, and added key players to “replace” the ones lost. The result was mish-mashed year that provided flashes of ability to contend for a title and flashes of a team that may have trouble escaping the first round. What ended up happening was the Lakers getting to the 2nd round (in a hard fought series) and then winning one more game than they did last year in the playoffs.

This was, pretty much, a failure. The fans wanted better, the players wanted better, and the executives in the front office wanted better. In the face of that, there’s a need to look in the mirror and see how better can be achieved.

This will likely mean more change. In fact, it’s already started. Ettore Messina has left after his lone season as an assistant coach/consultant to Mike Brown, heading back to Europe to coach CSKA Moscow. Quinn Snyder is still in house but is one of the final 3 candidates to land the head coaching job with the Charlotte Bobcats.

Beyond the coaches though, there will surely be changes on the roster. Gasol’s name will be floated heavily (after all, he was already traded once last pre-season). One can only assume Andrew Bynum’s name will also come up as a potential piece to be moved for a player (or players) of better quality and/or fit. Free agency will be explored and there have been hints that the Lakers may even look to get into a higher slot of the draft to add another young player.

These are all options the fans want to see happen. Two straight flameouts require change. However, as the landscape of the roster shifts more adjustments will follow. Players will need to get used to playing with each other. Coaches will need to learn the strengths and weaknesses of those players and learn how to get the most out of them. Players will need to adjust to what it means to play for the Lakers and the distractions that come with. These are things that take time.

So, as we all sit back and wonder what the next move will be; how the Lakers’ brass will fix this team it’s best we also acknowledge the fact that whatever changes are made they will not be ones that instantly make anything better. What we’ll see are surface changes. But to win at the level the Lakers want to win, surface changes are only the beginning. It’s the changes that happen deeper; the changes that happen after real connections are made that make the real difference and lead to long lasting success.

We’ve seen this before in 2008 when the Lakers were transformed via the rise of Bynum, the acquisition of Gasol, the return of Fisher, and the proper slotting of Odom that all combined to change the DNA of the team. But even that year saw a terrible defeat in the Finals before they took that next step to be champion. It’s important that we remember this when we get the change we seek. It’s a long and rocky journey to get where the Lakers want to get back to. Best be prepared for it.

Darius Soriano

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72 responses to More Change Will Require More Patience

  1. “rebels are at the castle gates ready to storm” Excellent Darius ! And behind those gates I picture a Prince, gnawing on a drumstick and drinking wine. And whenever he sees a scout or anyone who works in the FO he says: “Off with their heads”.

  2. I don’t say Jim Buss is an answer to anyone’s prayers, but I do note that Mitch had to endure a number of years of “throw the bum out”, “he can’t hold a candle to Jerry West”, and other, less repeatable, comments from us fans.

    We seem to have an amazing capacity of hatred for a Laker organization that has delivered as many championship appearances as it has. It makes me glad I don’t live in the glow of celebrity.

  3. 1, Rob – That’s hilarious because as soon as I read “rebels are at the castle gates ready to storm” I had a picture of a faceless Robert at the front of the mob, chanting, “No more ‘6th!’ No more ‘6th!'” while waving his torch :D With Ken/Ko behind him repeating the same point over and over again.

    Good post. Patience is certainly needed. Still holding out hope we can somehow get Kobe to #6 but looks very unlikely at this point.

    Craig – don’t forget the Fire Kupcake website. Fans actually created a website out of hatred for the man.

  4. The choice of Mbrown as a coach was a decision of Jimbuss, Mitch was also surprised by this decision. The decision to cut costs was also the decision of the new owner not GM’s choice. So practically, Mitch was handcuffed this season and he was able to produce “magic” in trading Kapono, Luke and Fisher for what we have today. We want more but nothing was really available in the end. Those trades were consummated in the last few seconds of the deadline.

    i think Darius was right that we need more patience from a lone wolf decision back to a committee of a F/O telling him what is good for the team. Mbrown has one more year of test before he gets the final verdict.

    Well, next season it adds more flexibility in dangling twoCenters and see if we can get the bigger F/A’s. Sessions and Hill are not that bad, I’ll take them any day, anytime against those who left. We are just enamored with Fisher today because he’s playing in the Finals. I think it is the best scenario for him wherein he’s no longer the targetted PG but more of an inspirational PG. Lakers got a little speed with Sessions but he has to keep up with snail paced two bigs. Yes, it needs a little patience to get to a full equilibrium.

  5. These are things that take time.

    That is all true, but it was also obvious prior to the season that the Lakers simply weren’t as good as OKC, and they would not have been as good as OKC if they had hired Shaw, and kept the Triangle, Odom, and Fisher, and the draft picks, either. Practice time and continuity can only take you so far. For those who are skeptical about that, look at the Memphis Grizzlies, who, with HCA, lost to a Clippers team that had had massive off-season and in-season personnel changes. Continuity helped some teams this year, but as Phil always said, it comes down to talent.

    Had the Paul trade gone through…well, we will never know, in part because Paul might have lead to Howard (recall that there Paul + Howard rumors right after the lockout ended and Dan Gilbert said very specifically in the email that he wanted the deal blocked in part because he thought it put the Lakers in position to get Howard).

    Also, Kobe and Pau turn 34 and 32, respectively, in August. So “patience” is in many respects not the operative word for this franchise right now.

    That said, nothing is going to happen for a little while, as the first dominoes to fall will be Ramon Sessions’ own “Decision” and Deron Williams’ free agency. So patience is definitely needed in the short-term, and “blowing it up” is not nearly as simple as some people talk like it would be.

  6. rr,
    My point is, even in a world where the Lakers make enough moves to make them comparable to OKC (or any other elite team from a talent perspective), the gelling of those players will take time. We’ve seen this several times in the past few years.

    Also, I don’t deny the other circumstances that are affecting the Lakers. But, if someone is promoting various forms of “blow it up”, they better be ready to deal with the ups and downs that come with building a contender back up from the rubble. Whether that starts with a superstar (or more) in hand or multiple high draft picks.

  7. delivered as many championship appearances as it has

    Well, Jim Buss, Glenn Carraro, and Mike Brown are not Jerry Buss, Ronnie Lester, and Phil Jackson. Kupchak, although he gotten the big things right, is not as shrewd as The Logo was, IMO.

    In addition, there are now new scouts and a new, more restrictive CBA in place. I do think that Ko and Robert are often way overboard in how they talk about Brown and Buss, respectively. But the “in the Lakers we trust” meme simply doesn’t apply here. Too many changes have been made, from the top down.

  8. But, if someone is promoting various forms of “blow it up”, they better be ready to deal with the ups and downs that come with building a contender back up from the rubble

    I agree with this, and would add that there is no guarantee that a contrender emerges from the “rubble.” And the actual mechanics of “blowing it up” are not that simple in any case, given the structure of the league, the CBA, and the Lakers’ limited trade assets.

    As to the first point, there is truth in that, but that also goes back to payroll and the ages of the stars. I think it is OK to talk about “needing time to gel” when you have a bunch of 21-24 year olds in the early years of their careers and you are under the cap, looking ahead. With the team the Lakers have, I give that less weight.

  9. It’s comical to see people point out the extreme elements of criticism towards Jr. or Mitch Kupchak to make a feeble point. There are plenty of valid criticisms about those guys made here and elsewhere. That seems a lot more worthwhile to discuss.

  10. rr,
    Not sure what you mean by “giving it less weight”, but I’ve yet to see a team – outside of the 2008 Celtics – that came together on the fly and were able to win right away. And, even that team had its ups and downs with serious questions about their playoff chops as they were advancing to (and ultimately winning) the Finals.

    So, again, if you’re saying they may not have time to be patient b/c of the aging Kobe, I agree with that. But, I’d still argue that just because they may not have the time to be patient, it won’t change the fact that it will take some time.

  11. Not sure what you mean by “giving it less weight”,

    “Gelling” in large part means “players getting better” or “adding a key piece you didn’t have before.” If you have a lot of players who are at their peak or past it, they are probably not going to get better and are likely to get worse. They may get more comfortable with each other, or with the sets, but those things happen a lot at the margins and can easily be offset by age, lack of talent, and physical decline.

    For example, there has been a lot of talk this year about James and Wade playing off each other better this year and to some extent they have, probably. But the fact that Wade is 30 and dealing with a knee issue IMO is largely offsetting any advantages that may accrue from that, and we just saw how vulnerable they are without Bosh.

    As to the 2008 Celtics, they lost a couple of close games to the Hawks, but also blew them out four times. That series was not as close as its length indicated. Cleveland took them to 7–but there is only one LeBron James and again, they lost a couple of very close games. They took out the Lakers and Pistons, very good teams, in 6. The “questions about their playoff chops” were largely sample size issues.

    So, the Lakers will likely benefit some from more practice time, etc. But they will also likely be hurt by lack of talent and team age, and I think that the latter is far more important than the former.

  12. It is not that I, or others, wouldn’t like to win next year. It is that the combination of old stars and inexperienced youth, laid on top of our new system and no practice time was a very bad combination to expect to win the championship this year. Next year will be an evolution. If it is a revolution that is either desired or obtained, we will likely have most of the same issues next year.

    We are in the midst of rebuilding fellow fans. Perhaps this may mean Kobe wins no more rings, but the age and financial structure of the Lakers – in the new CBA world – is a very tough nut to crack. We can’t just throw things around to make next year work out the way we would wish.

    P.S. Give it a couple of years and the Thunder will face some very tough problems of their own. Miami will be facing that future sooner than OKC.

  13. Great thing about practice time next year is players get to work on defense. Guys can be more intune with each other on the floor and we may see less breakdowns. And hopefully that can help Lakers create turnovers.

    And team roles can be defined. Lakers can learn the offensive system. No more playground ball. The thing about the triangle was each position already had a role established. More practice time helps with teaching a conventional offense.

  14. I love West, but let’s not forget that West had plenty of misses too and didn’t always get the small things right.

    Where I think Mitch has excelled is his understanding of cap rules and how money concerns affects teams. That’s how he pulls off some of his better moves.

    Ever since Luke’s deal, he’s also not given a contract longer than 3 years to any role player that’s up for an extension.

    Mitch may not be West, but he’s still a good cut better than most I think.

    I still reserve judgement on Jimmy.

  15. Craig W: “We seem to have an amazing capacity of hatred for a Laker organization ”
    I love the Lakers. There just happens to one or two individuals (one really) in key positions that I would prefer not be in said position : )

    rr: I am not “overboard”. I like everyone else am still on deck listening to the band playing, while the FO rearranges the chairs.

    Snoop: Glad I can amuse you : )

  16. Let’s picture the Lakers as a building in need of renovation. We all agree on that to some extent. Where we disagree is that some feel that a little paint and cleaning is all that is needed (think RS and JH type players). Others feel the place should be condemned. I feel that it should be major reno or tear it down. When I say “futzing” – what is happening is the team is putting paint on a building that is in need of major renovation or perhaps should be leveled (the mle and the Vet Min are a coat of paint on walls that are crumbling).

  17. I feel that it should be major reno or tear it down.

    Perhaps, but like I have said, you don’t seem to know where to get the bulldozer or how to hire the demolition workers. So “feel” is the operative word there. Also, you don’t really want to tear it down–you actually want to buy a Ferrari and a Lotus and move into a new house in the neighborhood in the next zip code where the really nice houses are, and bring your vintage Rolls Royce with you when you move. Two different things.

  18. 11 home playoff games in 08, 12 in 09, 12 in 2010. But only 6 in 2011 and 6 in 2012. With a high payroll and luxury tax Lakers need more home playoff games to offset such harsh taxes. Bringing in a superstar who will spike sales in merchandise and ticket sales would have a positive impact. More tweaks I’m afraid will won’t help create revenue.

  19. Funky Chicken June 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I disagree with the notion that it almost always takes time to “gel” when you bring new players together. The ’08 Celtics were mentioned as an example, but that’s just one of many. Our very own ’08 Lakers came together on the fly and became a title contender with the mid-season addition of Pau. Miami made the finals in year 1 of the big 3. Dallas brought in Tyson Chandler & several key reserves and won title the same year. The Clippers had a major roster overhaul this year and gelled quite nicely.

    “Gelling” is something that happens with younger players who grow into their roles and their teams, much like the late-90’s Laker team with Kobe & Shaq, but when dealing with veteran players (and that’s the only way the Lakers will contend for a title during Kobe’s remaining years), it’s either going to hit pretty quickly or not.

  20. Robert: When one of the people you dislike in the organization is the owner, you (the fan) are in a particularly bad situation. This is the reason I cannot support the Clippers. This is the reason I am very conflicted about the Thunder winning a title.

    See…I too have issues with ownership, however, I don’t have the same issue with Jim Buss – I don’t love him, but I don’t hate him either – or I would have an equally hard time supporting the Lakers. I really don’t envy your situation.

  21. The Chris Paul trade would’ve created revenue, buzz and cut the team’s salary. Very positive impact on the money side of the business. Lakers are being strapped with the new cba. Mitch said “I see no way we’ll be out the luxury tax next year”. Minus well go for the juggular and go get a Ferrari.

  22. Craig W: I appreciate your concern – thanks. It does detract some, however I will always love the Lakers. I watch almost every game, I attend some road games when I travel, and as you know I participate in posting on-line : ) No matter who owns the team, it is still My Team.

    “Invest in businesses any idiot could run, because someday one will.” (Warren Buffett)

    Unfortunately this does not apply to NBA teams.

  23. Robert: Might that quote be hanging in Jim’s office. lol

  24. Westbrook is SOOO out of control!!!

    Westbrook thinks he’s as good as Durant, he’s not content with being Robin to Durant’s Batman. See that’s the problem with two young players on a team. There’s no way that Westbrook should be 0-5 while Durant is 1-2!

    OKC needs to make Wade pick up that dribble instead of bouncing it all the way to the hole.

  25. A side note filed under WTF!!!!!!!

    For months, rumors have been swirling that BK was testing a bacon sundae in Nashville to go head-to-head with Jack-in-the-Box’s milkshake. Today’s press release confirms the speculation. The after-Whopper-dessert has soft serve vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate fudge and caramel, then sprinkled with bacon crumbles, and rounded out with but a big ‘ole “thick-cut, hardwood smoked bacon” strip. You may as well forgo the utensil and just spoon that sweet and salty goodness from the bacon strip itself.

    http://www.delish.com/food/recalls-reviews/burger-king-introduces-bacon-sundae-and-sweet-potato-fries?ocid=delsh11

  26. rr: “where the really nice houses are”

    That is exactly what I want. The Lakers need to shoot for Malibu (that is where the Heat and Thunder live). In my case, I am willing to live in a hostel (we can sleep right in a bed next to MJ) for a while to save up the money. The Laker management seems intent on having the team live in a duplex with a 10 year lease (the Atlanta Hawks live on the other side)

    You also seem to forget how we set this up. You are the GM – I am the owner : ) My instructions are to get a contender or re-build. It is a very fair deal. The only way you get fired is if you “futz”.

  27. @24 Chearn – I agree with you. Actually, I was thinking about that yesterday…Is that West is young and wants to be a star (like every kid in college….duh) or is he being pressed by his agent to score, score, score so his value grows (and the agent makes more money)?

  28. IMO and it may only be mine, but what makes players like Kobe (great) and Westbrook (good) is their stubborness in thinking that they can perform better than everyone else on the floor. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it doesn’t. Kobe taking over causes our bigs to stand and watch. We have an older team so our players don’t cut or flash to the basket when Kobe turns and backs his player down. When they see him dribble to death or just stare at the clock, they do nothing.

    As a result, we have a mis-matched team. We have four players Sessions, Barnes, Hill, McRoberts who would love to get up and down the court. We have a couple of old guys who can’t run (Pau and Kobe) and one who refuses (Drew).

    The Lakers, by adding pieces, need to either morph themselves into an elite post-up team who can run when needed, or through trades, make themselves a team like San Antonio who runs the floor, but who can post when needed. The Lakers can not become Miami or OKC because of the age of the team but we can be the best at what WE do and make others ajust to us.

  29. Okc falling in love with the jumper taking bad shots. Miami showing it’s experience 1st half.

  30. Lmao watch the OKC crowd on the slow-mo replay of Lebron’s drive. There’s a lady with her hands clapped to her mouth in horror, like she’s watching a gruesome car accident take place. These Thunder fans really love their team.

    Looking at the OKC crowd, it seems like 70% of them are middle-aged or older. Amazing how much noise they make for old people.

  31. With all due respect to Michael Jordan (the best prime player of all time until now)… There has never been a player playing as well is LeBron James has this year. If all the pkayers that have ever played… Played today (completley not fair to former players) nobody would be as good as LeBron.

  32. i say if we cant make changes with our starting lineup because of our stiff salary cap, we fix our bench and be good with it. our main problem is when our bench mob goes to play, they play softball with no heart. we need a reliable wing man or a point guard that can push the tempo during rest quarters. instill energy.

  33. In game one Westbrook was out of control. He held onto the ball too long, froze out Durant, and basically hogged the ball. The difference was he made his shots and didn’t turn the ball over. Now he’s missing shots and turning the ball over. This is just how he plays. I was talking to his cousin last week and the kid feels like he is better than Durant and wants MAX money. His ego will be his downfall. Hopefully it won’t cost OKC too. Think Marbury and KG in Minny.

  34. Brooks playing Perkins on Bosh is equivalent to Brown playing Blake on Harden. Not Smart.

  35. What puts him ahead of Jordan is size and basketball IQ. LeBron is as smart or smarter than Magic Johnson. He almost always makes the right play.

  36. Aaron, my god man your posts get more and more ridiculous as time goes by.

    Don’t EVER put Lebron and MJ in the same category. EVER.

    PLEASE get off Lebron’s jock strap

  37. Snoopy

    Why am I behind? Been Laker fan longer. I feel insulted..

    I have nothing aganist Jim. I just feel he dosen’t have the basketball knowledge and understand the game. The gene seldom translates to success. See George Bush JR, Chris Gynn, Billy Baldwin, Nick Montana, DJ Strawberry, Kenny Rogers Jr(who I used to manage) and Aaron JR etc etc.

    As for Brown I think he us a stat guy and lacks the on court feel needed to make adjustments.

  38. Someone please make Lebron a jump shooter.

    Guy hasn’t developed a jumper after being in the league all these years.

  39. Comparing magic to James is like comparing The Beatles to The Monkeys

    Paul Newman to Steven Segal or Tom Green

    Sophe Loren to Snooky

    Bud Ferrilo to Aaron

    Phil Jackson to Mike Brown

    Enough!

  40. Ibaka was having a great impact and he’s on the bench. Brooks with some bad decisions this game.

  41. Aaron go look at Lebron’s shot chart, go look at game 1s shot chart. Notice anything?

    He can’t shoot outside the paint!!!!!

    MJ was deadly from everywhere on the floor.

    Please learn the sport of basketball better

  42. Honestly if Westbrook ever cuts down his turnovers and bad shots, the guy could be the best PG in the NBA

  43. Wow okc got absolutly screwed by thevrfs this game, that was onevof the most one sided offiatibg jobs i have ever seen inbhe unals

  44. Lebron’s most clutch play in the 4th tonight was when he fouled Durand and Westbook on that possession with 12 seconds left and the ref didn’t call either of them. Durant should have been at the line to tie the game with 9 seconds left. And thats not even taking into account the multiple blown calls for at least a total of 8 points that were given to the Heat.

  45. Nice blown call at the end of the game to win it for the Heat, refs.

    Still, Miami should have easily won this game from start to finish. I’m wondering if the relentless attack from the Thunder won’t eventually wear them down, especially if the Thunder stop giving them 10+ pt handicaps at the beginning of every game.

  46. Miami got lucky. But Okc has to play better to start games. 3 straight games being down double digits at halftime.

  47. Ko – Ha didn’t mean anything symbolic by you standing behind Rob. Next time I’ll have you next to him. I agree with MB and the lack of in-game adjustments, for sure.

    On one of the turning points of the game, it looked to me like Sefolosha lost his damn mind. Or was the shot clock running down? It looked to me like Thabo got the rebound at the 3-point line with a full shot-clock and decided to forsake Durant, Westbrook, and Harden to attack by himself off the dribble. I’d have to go back to check and make sure the shot clock wasn’t running down, but that awful decision was huge (compounded by him knocking the ball out of bounds).

    The last Durant shot probably was a foul. I say probably only because officials let so much contact go at the end of games. It looked to me like Durant felt the contact and released too quickly, expecting the whistle to come. If that’s the case, he made a pretty big mistake – you never assume the ref will blow the whistle at the end of the game. I thought he could have gotten a better shot (or a more patient release instead of trying to get the shot up right away) but I could be wrong, I’d have to go back and look.

    Fun, fun game. 5 more, please.

  48. I can’t figure out who’s the worst standard quote machine. Spoelstra or Brown?

  49. Kevin – Spoelstra just makes no sense to me. He seems very friendly and intelligent but he speaks (purposefully, I’d imagine) in such a convoluted way that I don’t think he actually says anything. Just talks about fighting the noise and not letting go of the rope. I have to listen for a long time before I figure out if he’s actually going to make a point or just making the media jump through hoops.

  50. OKC went into hero-mode, everybody trying to score on ISO…tsc, tsc… Their biggest strength is to play as a team, utilizing their bench and pacing the game.

    Brooks learned a lesson. Durant was great but learned a lesson as well.

    All part of the process…

  51. It will kill me to see stupid glasses without glass Lablown doing a interview if they win.

    Even worse watching Battier make shot after shot (see Lakers sign Kapono, see Lakers sign Murphy, see Lakers sign McRoberts).

    And some of you gave the front office a B?

    B as in BAD.

  52. Snoopy2006: I agree. Too many analogies.

    MagicPhil: After seeing what Harden did to Lakers, Mavs, Spurs with his dribble penetration. Don’t know why Brooks doesn’t put the ball in Harden’s hands more late in games.

  53. Win or lose this series give me Durant over Lebron any day of the week. The guy is 23, already has a far superior arsenal offensively than Lebron, is improving on the defensive end, has far more upside, and a longer lasting style of play the older he gets.

  54. I think Miami’s physicality will win out in the end. That is Durant’s one flaw and Lebron’s advantage over him. Same thing with Wade over Westbrook, they are just tougher and will wear down the Thunder. Bosh is a better player than Ibaka. Miami in 6.

  55. Magic Phil-Westbrook rarely passes the ball late in the shot clock the longer he bounces the more apt he is to take the shot himself. He did this the first 4 possessions of the game and no one said anything to him. Durant took his mouth piece out of his mouth several times and looked like he wanted to say something.

    Coach Brooks exhorted the team to pass the ball in the first half when OKC repeatedly looked for the knockout punch in the first few possessions of the game. It’s bothersome that OKC feels confident that no matter the score they’re going to come roaring back. If they play like this in Miami they may not get another game at home.

    I’m more confident than ever that this will be a 7 game series. Sefelosha was reluctant to shoot (I almost had a flashback to Blake and Sessions) he either passed the ball or tried to drive to the basket. He played tough nosed defense throughout the game but made awful decisions on offense.

    In back-to-back games Battier scores 17 points at what point does OKC decide to play defense on him. Wade got the Heat the lead in the first half and James took over in the second half.

    We complain about the Lakers not having a bench that scores, neither of these teams got much production outside of three players. The difference between the Lakers and OKC and the Heat is that their role players are doing other things for their team. Chalmers offense wasn’t there tonight but he got a charge against Harden late in the game. And, Sefelosha’s attributes were mentioned earlier.

    Fun series. I still think that OKC will win but only if Ibaka, Sefelosha, Harden and another role player play flawlessly.

  56. LeBrawn’s biggest advantage is his size and athleticism. He has become a better jump shooter over time, but most of the time he just bulls his way to the basket. If he drives left, he pushes off with his right arm and vice versa. Brawny gets away with more pushoffs and travels morethan anyone in the league. A great player to be sure,but he leaves me kind of cold on an aesthetic level. His game has no refinement of skill, IMHO. I’d take Magic, Michael or Kobe in their prime over LBJ all day, every day.

    Agree with several posts that mentioned Westbrook’s lack of control last night. I thought his poor first quarter put his team in a big hole. He’s a very good young player who is still learning.

  57. whether the end plays didn’t look good for most basketball fans, it still wont save them OKC for losing this game. they played poorly in the first half, dug their own grave and hope that KD can rescue them. every game starts 1st quarter, and giving up opening to the enemy at this stage of competition where your opponent is championship caliber will surely bring bad results. for all we know, it could be the last game played in OKC this season.

  58. Lebron is 4/30 shooting outside of the paint the last 3 games. I would treat him the same as Rondo if I were coaching against him, lay off him 5 feet and force him to shoot.

  59. Warren Wee Lim June 15, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Interesting question popped into my head: Among the teams that won a championship before and lost the year after, how many of those teams have gotten back to the level in which they gave themselves a chance to win?

    Spurs 01 – came back 03 and 05
    Lakers 02 – came back 04 but lost
    Celtics 08 – came back 10 but lost

    No other teams in the last 2 decades have done this.

    1991-1993 Bulls
    1994-1995 Rockets
    19996-1998 Bulls
    1999 lockout Spurs
    2000-2002 Lakers
    2003 Spurs
    2004 Pistons
    2005 Spurs
    2006 Heat
    2007 Spurs
    2008 Celtics
    2009-10 Lakers
    2011 Mavs
    2012 Thunder or Heat

    In short, the same core will no longer win it as proven by 2 decades of data. Also notice Jim Buss “intrigued” whether which teams win, the old methodical ones or the new fast ones. Guess which 2 teams went to the Finals.

  60. Warren Wee Lim June 15, 2012 at 8:13 am

    StepUp,
    Except unlike Rondo you cannot stop brute force that strong and talented as he is.

  61. http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/17/sports/sp-lakers17

    I forgot about this. Before the summer of 09 and the Ariza contract mess. David Lee wasn’t too complementary of Lakers front office the year before in discussing Bynum’s extension in 08. Thinking back that may have led to Mitch choosing Artest over Ariza.

    Does this bad blood still exist 4 years later? Will Lee push Bynum towards testing FA?

    There was a slight threat in one of those quotes. And Lakers definitely blinked first on this one.

  62. Durant is a skinny wimp!
    have you seen his boney arms?

  63. @Kevin
    Why would Bynum be upset he’s been paid close to 17 million a year during the 5 year contract and has only played one full season. The Lakers have actually realized a ROI for 1 shortened season and two years where he played hurt. Add all of his games together you might get one full season and one half season. So, essentially Bynum has been paid 59.5 million to be unavailable.

    The Lakers have been long suffering in this deal.

  64. Starters are always blamed in a loss. DFish comes in off the bench and didn’t shoot any worse than OKC’s other role players or the Heat’s starters and role players. Perkins and Ibaka were worse than Fisher.

    Though, I think Coach Brooks should have gone with Dequean Cook when Westbrook stunk up the first quarter and got two fouls.

  65. Anonymous, that skinny wimp is putting numbers up against a much larger defender in Lebron. Spare me the strength crap, he is a Superstar of the highest caliber.

    Warren, yes you can stop brute force if you put yourself into better position to take charges. See what Dallas did last year with a less talented and athletic team? They played better defense by putting themselves in better position early so that they would be in the right spots when Lebron drove.

  66. Chearn: I’ve already discussed bynum at length. I was speaking more to the relationship between Lakers FO and David Lee. Being that they haven’t seen eye to eye a few times he might implore Bynum to test FA. That is unless Bynum’s true desire is to remain a Laker then we’ll have a resolution sooner rather than later.

    They gave in to Lee in 08 but didn’t in 09 with Ariza. Something to keep an eye on. Dwight was swayed back and forth pretty easily by his inner circle. Just don’t want to have to go through that next year with Bynum.

  67. @ KennyT and Step UP

    Good points on the limitations on LeBron’s game (and his undeniable gifts as well).

    Those points are why I’ve viewed LeBron as being to the wing position what Shaq was to the post position–and that he will suffer the same fate–good and bad.

    Shaq had a stretch where he was an unstoppable force of nature, irrespective of the fact that he didn’t work on the nuances of his game. Once his massive physical advantage eroded with time, his career took a precipitous drop.

    If LeBron doesn’t start working on his game, he too will enjoy a healthy but finite stretch of overwhelming production, punctuated by a very brief, very spectacular plunge at the end. His game is so predicated on pure physical advantage vs nuanced basketball skill that any other outcome is simply unlikely–again–unless he starts working on his game–really working on it.

    LeBron could be a top -10 all timer, a top-five all timer–even in the discussion for GOAT before all is said and done–he could also be history by the time he’s Kobe’s age–we will see.

  68. I prefer the Shaq & Kobe Lakers, Jordan, Dr. J, even Lebron over skinny wimpy Durant! He should put some meat on those bones…. HIs style bores me, i just dont enjoy that team. If anyone even breathes on those players the refs are calling fouls and setting them up for easy points. It’s just wimpy compared to what Shaq had to endure!

  69. So many people on this site just jumping on the OKC bandwagon! Everybody hates lebron, blah, blah, blah….

    We’ll guess what, Lebron has endured more than Durant. This is his time. He deserve’s a championship more than Durant! And he will get it.

  70. The overblown hate for LeBron has skyrocketed to outlandish proportions because of a single man. It’s crazy how Bayless has gotten in fans minds and jaded their vision. Rarely do legends win every finals appearance.

    LeBron is in the Magic, Jordan, Bird, Kobe conversation as a talent already. When he wins whenever that is it only enhances his status among the greats.

    It’ll be funny to see some journalist eat crow. The same ones who said Jordan is selfish and a scoring champ will never win a ring ate crow. The people who said Kobe will never win without Shaq ate crow. And all the ones who dismiss LeBron will eat crow too. Happens every time.

  71. Warren Wee Lim June 15, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I too am on Miami’s bandwagon.

  72. LeBron is having a phenominal playoff. If Kobe had played this well we mighthave the Kobe Lebron match up we were all thinking of in years past. Now a lot of you pups are new school and some of you dogs are old school but some of us are pre school lol. How many pre schoolers out there think that KD is the reincarnation of the Ice Man? also LeBron reminds me of an old Indiana Pacer and former 76er by the name of George McGinnis. Same body type raw power etc. any thoughts on the comparisons?