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NBA Kings vs. Warriors NOV 9
Records: Lakers 24-5 (1st in the West) Warriors 9-22 (11th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.1 (3rd in league) Warriors 106.1 (17th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102.2 (4th in league) Warriors 112.1 (28th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Warriors C.J. Watson, Marco Belinelli, Stephen Jackson, Brandan Jacobs, Andris Biedrins

Lakers notes: After the Laker win, there was a gracious post up at Celtics blog saying that if you are going to call Pau Gasol soft, then you need to give credit when he steps up and performs.

J.D. Hastings in the comments made the same case for Lamar Odom, who is oft-maligned by some Lakers fans.

I want to make sure to mention something I haven’t seen getting enough attention. Lamar Odom’s intensity during the Boston game was a huge factor. He was a team high +17. I don’t think anyone else was even in double figures. The uncharacteristic drive and energy he brought that helped set a tone.

One play on defense he threw KG to the floor before he could get the ball. He was called for the foul, but it was a great moment considering how KG had been manhandling Pau every time down before he could get the ball.

Even the 3 pointers that made me cringe had an attitude with them that the team needed to display against the Celtics. To say nothing of his Kobe-like hook floater in traffic.

Not to take anything away from anyone else (and I do agree with playing Bynum to close), but considering what LO has sacrificed for this team, his contributions are worth noting.

SMT added that Odom pushing KG around after KG threw an elbow at Sasha — Odom from the tough streets of New York will stick up for his friends.

Secondly, Odom has had the best (or tied for best) +/- numbers on the team the last three games. He leads the team in raw +/- for the season, the only player in the double digits positive. Certainly the +/- stat has some flaws as a way to define who is playing well, but the bottom line is that if your team is doing better when you are on the court then when you are off, then you are doing something right. And are a key part of the team’s success.

Welcome Back Ronny: I still miss the guy, dancing around on the sidelines and hustling his butt off when in the game.

I get why he moved on — that was more money than the Lakers should have paid and up north Ronny gets more burn (about 20 minutes a game lately). In his game, Ronny is still Ronny, he is not shooting great but he is getting to the line often and is contributing at both ends of the floor. It will be good to watch him play again.

The Warriors Coming In: In case you missed it, they beat the Celtics, too. This is a team that, like the Knicks, has a different style that can throw teams off their rhythm and beat them if you overlook them. The Warriors are playing at the second fastest pace in the league.

Obviously, this was a team that wanted Monta Ellis as the go-to guy, but he is not back from injury yet. Also out is Jamal Crawford, who has played fairly well in the up-tempo style, and Corey Maggette. That said, they are getting some increased production from other guys.

The guy who is really thriving this season is Andris Biedrins. He is averaging 14 and 11, has an impressive true shooting percentage of 56.7% and leads the team in PER (20.7). Most importantly, he is a real hustle guy, and one of the few Warriors who seems to do that at both ends of the floor. Stephen Jackson also apparently likes the system, and he was the go to guy against Boston with 15 points in the fourth quarter.

Keys To The Game: Discipline is at the heart of what the Lakers need to do. Bottom line with the Warriors right now, they are not a disciplined team. If you are disciplined, you can force them into mistakes at both ends. But, if you get sucked into their game (something the Lakers do all too often) it could look a lot like Friday night for Golden State. The Lakers need to live by the old John Wooden mantra tonight: Be quick but don’t hurry.

If the Lakers can force the Warriors into a half-court offense, this is a good team to trap. That’s because they are not a good passing team. Bad passers and guys don’t get to open spots like they should.

The battle of the boards will be key, the Lakers are longer but they can be lax in that area, and the Warriors are very aggressive on the offensive glass and are eighth in the Association in the percentage of offensive rebounds grabbed. That is a little ironic, because they are last in the NBA in the percentage of defensive rebounds grabbed. The Lakers should be able to get some second chance points in this one.

While teams shoot a pretty high percentage against the Warriors, don’t expect to get bailed out with a foul. They don’t send teams to the line often.

The Lakers need to recognize the personnel on the floor for the Warriors — you can’t let Azubuike or Belinelli shoot the three, they will kill you from there.

On offense, I would love to see a little screen and roll from the Lakers tonight, because Watson is weak at defending it. And he doesn’t get a lot of help, because the overall concern on defense from the Warriors is not impressive.

Where you can watch: 6:30 start here is Fox Sports in LA or the League Pass options nationally.

Preview & Chat: The Boston Celtics

Kurt —  December 25, 2008


Records: Lakers 22-5 (1st in the West) Celtics 27-2 (1st in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.4 (3rd in league) Celtics 110.4 (5th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102.5 (4th in league) Celtics 98.6 (1st in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Celtics Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

No big breakdown, this game has had nearly as much hype as Santa today.

Just sit back and enjoy this one. Remember that over at TrueHoop Kevin Arnovitz is live blogging all five games today, because he loves basketball or is a masochist (or some combination of those two).

I leave you with a few thoughts from Gatinho on the Lakers on Christmas day:

In ‘88, ‘02, and ‘03 the Lakers lost on Christmas and won the Championship

This will 35 times that the Lakers have played on Christmas dating back to 1949.

This will be the fourth time playing the Celtics.
(’51 L, ‘55 W, ‘70 W)

The Celtics will be playing in their 25th Christmas game, only one of those games has been played in Boston.

Among Laker opponents on Christmas are the Fort Wayne Pistons, Indianapolis Olympians, and the San Diego Rockets.

Daddy’s Got A New Pair Of Shoes

Kurt —  November 26, 2008

Welcome to the new look of Forum Blue & Gold.

A few things are different, but most things are the same. We’ve added a Lakers schedule widget just to the right — it comes up as a map but if you click the schedule button at the bottom of the widget you get a more traditional schedule.

Also, some of our standing columns — like about the new stats here or “what’s the deal with the name of this site?” — now have standing links across the top.

Aside that, things should work pretty much as they did before, just with a new look. The comments will follow below and be sort of straight line (not in threads, that was a hard call). We’ll be using more photos and graphs, but the focus here will always be on trying to provide some quality content and staring some interesting conversations.

Poke around a little and if you find any problems (bad links, what have you) put it in the comments or send me an email. There are always bugs, but we think we’ve caught as many as we could.

Many thanks to Vivien at eWebscapes for the design. I think it makes our little home on the web just a little more comfortable.

Forum Blue & Gold T-shirts

Kurt —  October 21, 2008


Here it, the official Forum Blue & Gold T-shirt. It’s perfect for wearing to Staples Center, to the local bar, to your living room — wherever you watch games. (Or, if your a Trailblazers fan, it’s a perfect rag for washing your car.)

Long-time reader and friend of the site Steve (Gatinho’s brother) did the design and came up with the brilliant idea of using the old Forum itself as the main image. (Click on the image above to see a larger version.)

There are four versions of the shirt, the front is the same in each case but there are three different phrases on the back, each one a modified Chickism:

#1: FB&G: Dribble drivin’ through the blogosphere
#2: FB&G: It’s a 20-foot layup
#3: FB&G: Yo-yoing up and down on the Web since 2004
#4: Back blank.

The shirts are available through zazzle.com (they handle collecting the money and shipping), the good news about that is that you can modify your shirt — put it on gray instead of white, chose a woman’s cut shirt, put it on a long-sleeve shirt, whatever you think works.

So follow the link to order your shirt, then wear it in good health. Maybe even to a parade this June.

What we are going to see tonight is far from a full picture.

What we will see tonight are the first few brushstrokes of a painting that will take all season to complete. By about 20 games in we can get a pretty good idea of the form the painting will take, but even then we are just one injury away from everything going Jackson Pollock on us.

Still, there are things to look for. Starting with how Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum look together. In case you haven’t seen it, Kevin Ding in the OC Register has Phil Jackson calling the duo “clumsy” together and Tex Winter suggesting Bynum could come off the bench to start if things don’t change. Maybe the most discouraging statement is this one from Drew:

“This is the first year where it’s kind of a little bit boring just because we have to run through the same stuff we already know,” he said (of the practices).

The pairing of Bynum and Pau was something I think will work out well — I even told that to Brent Edwards at Fanhouse for his division preview — but it doesn’t have to work perfectly from day one. Bumps and slow spots are to be expected.

The NBA season is a long, long grind with plenty of time for things to mesh. For the Lakers to be at their best, Bynum and Pau have to be on the floor at the same time. But that doesn’t have to happen the first preseason game in Anaheim, or even in the season opener against Portland. But tonight (with very basic offenses on display as neither team really puts in a detailed game plan) is a good time to start working them out.

The other thing I’ll be watching tonight — how does the defense look. Rust and missed rotations are to be expected right now, but is the team generally getting its head around the new system yet will be something to keep an eye on.

Bottom line — I’m just happy there is a game. Preseason or not. Let’s get it on.

PS. Baylor out of the Clippers front office? He has had that job for 22 years, but because of the owner there I’m not sure we really know how good a GM he was or could have been. Good luck to Dunleavy. You’re going to need it.

We’ve got some new friends here at Forum Blue & Gold, and I think you should meet them.

This site has struck a deal to have most of its content at both Lakers Nation — the meta Lakers site run by the former Get Garnett guys — and with them on the Web site for 570 AM KLAC, the Lakers flagship station and home of the Lakers in Southern California. Lakers Nation is just that — a nation, home to its own blog, its own message boards and its own social-networking system (ala Facebook).

What that means here is that you will see more connections to Lakers Nation and 570, things that will grow as we get closer to next season (and after a redesign of this site planned for later this summer). Both sites offer some interesting things that I think people here will like. And the stories here will be seen both at Lakers Nation and at 570’s Web site.

While this means some growth, there will be no changes to what the core of this site is about. We will do in-depth (hopefully smart) analysis of the Lakers and NBA news. The commenting policies on this site will not be changing. The goal is to expose what we do here to more people, but we are not changing who or what we are.

What makes this site special, what makes the growth possible, is the community here. Bottom line is you people make my day, and make my thought processes about the Lakers far more informed and fun. Protecting the integrity of that community remains goal number one. But I don’t think that precludes growth opportunities.

So go over and meet the new friends at Lakers Nation. They’ve opened up new message board forums today and they are large and growing community with which you all have at least one thing in common — you’re all Lakers fans. And that’s a good place to start a friendship.

You Like Me

Kurt —  April 24, 2008

You really, really like me.

Seriously, I am touched to have won the “Sixth Blogger of the Year” (best team-focused blog) in the Hardwood Paroxysm recent NBA blogger voting. Especially when I think of all the fantastic blogs I read and think, “Man, I wish I was that good.”

This little site has grown into a fantastic community, where I serve as caretaker and conversation starter. But it is the community that keeps me (and I think many of you) interested. So, thanks for voting for me.

PS. I am so going to rub this in Ziller’s face.

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Blogs, Credibility and the NBA

Kurt —  February 18, 2008

Sparked by emailed questions and conversations with people in the business of NBA information, I’m using the All-Star Break to look at some bigger picture questions about NBA blogging. Today’s topic: How credible are blogs? And how NBA teams are dealing with them?

It’s the first question asked about bloggers, the first charge thrown out by those criticizing something written on a blog — what makes this person credible? In the case of an NBA blog like this one, why put any credence in what I write? What other NBA bloggers write?

I asked that question of Clipper Blog’s Kevin Arnovitz and his answer matches my own thinking — obsession-compulsion combined with the ability to work the TiVo rewind button. I’ve said before I could never do this blog without my DVR. Plus I went to the old John Wooden Basketball Camp for two straight summers as a kid, so that should count for something, you’d think.

Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty (and AOL FanHouse) gives better-phrased version of a more common answer I often give:

What qualifies me is the same thing which qualifies the newspaper’s beat writer or the national columnist: I watch the games. I pay attention to what the players and coaches say. I understand the league. The great thing about new media and especially the blogdome: It’s all meritorious. We’re obligated to read the beat writer’s take (especially in one-paper towns), we have to go through him or her to get the info. You don’t have to read the local team blogger. If you do, it’s because you appreciate what they do and gain something from it. Having an audience, that vindicates your opinion, I think.

The Lakers have some great beat writers in guys like Mike Bresnahan at the LA Times and Kevin Ding of the OC Register. But you don’t have to go through them to get the information. You don’t have to take their word for what Phil Jackson or Luke Walton said after practice. Instead, you can go to Lakers.com and watch the video posted of those interviews after practice.

And in a world where there is more access like that, fans are looking for something different when they read up on a team. That’s at the heart of why Arnovitz said blogs are both credible and popular.

Blogs are filling a vacuum with more concentrate in-depth analysis of the team. Beat writers suffer from the constraints of their media. Once upon a time — before Tivo, before the internet — if you went out to dinner at 7:30, or had an evening class, or worked nights, then you missed the game. When you got out of the restaurant, maybe you’d be lucky enough to catch the score on the radio. Otherwise, you’d have to call a friend, get thirty seconds at 11:28 p.m. on your local news, or wait for the thwack of the paper on your driveway the next morning. The sports section was the only place to get any detailed description of what happened, and for that, it had intrinsic value. But these days, you can get a live box score and even a play-by-play rundown of the game instantly. By the time the beat writer finishes his recap, the dedicated fan is already informed of the game’s general narrative. If he saw the game live or on television, the beat writer doesn’t really add anything other than a pat quote from a coach or a couple of players. What the fan wants to know is *why* the defense fell apart in the second half. Who was slow on the defensive rotation? Why did the zone fail? How did the opposing PG manage, time and time again, to penetrate without resistance? But the beat writer can’t do this — or isn’t allowed to, or doesn’t care to. The rare exceptions are pros like Brian Windhorst at the Akron Beacon-Journal, who does a stellar job of breaking stuff down. But most beat writers either can’t or refuse to inject the kind of subjectivity that would elucidate the game for the loyal fan.

I think in Los Angeles, for all the media attention paid the Lakers are given, that vacuum of analysis is seems even larger. Outside of Frank Burlison at the Press Telegram (who spends the vast majority of his writing on high school and college) there is precious little insight onto the Xs and Os, the analysis of the NBA game and players. The soap opera is the focus — not a shock for a bottom-line driven media where drawing a large audience is all that really matters at the end of the day.

For the readers, from what you said when I asked you, credibility is something is earned. And in today’s crowded media marketplace, that is true for the columnists at ESPN or the NY Times or the LA Times as it is for bloggers. Commenter Underbruin summed up many commmenter’s thinking when he wrote:

I feel that trust can be earned pretty quickly. When I read a site that makes a fair amount of sense in its visible front-page posts, that gives me a good reason to believe it’s worth at least coming back to check out again. I don’t feel specific institutions such as print media automatically deserve more or less trust than a blog. If anything, they sometimes have financial concerns that make them less trustworthy because they have to keep in mind that the team is their ‘meal ticket,’ so to speak.

Clearly readers did not equate with credibility was access — it wasn’t handed out with media passes.

Still, getting some of that access matters to many bloggers, both for what insights might be gleaned being that close, and as a matter of respect. But teams are not sure how to deal with bloggers, and the level of treatment varies from city to city. Golden State has been receptive to bloggers (of course, Golden State of Mind has put together events that helped fill seats, and money always talks).

One interesting event has taken place the last couple of years in Atlanta, where the Hawks hosted a “bloggers night.” For one night, bloggers of the Atlanta Hawks (who should be pretty happy the last few days) got a chance to sit in on press row. Micah Hart, manager of Websites for the Hawks (and Thrashers of the NHL) explains the night and adds some perspective.

We have done Blog Night the past two seasons (and once so far with the Atlanta Thrashers, with their second night still to come). My rationale for doing it is with a team like the Hawks, we lack for national coverage because we have been so bad the past several years. I/We want to get more people talking about the team (good or bad), so I am hoping that by doing these kinds of activities it will inspire more of our fans to take an active interest in following the team.

I thought both years Blog Night was successful. In terms of how we decided who to invite – last year we basically cast a wide net, inviting any local bloggers (hawks-related or not) to come out and join in. This year, we were a little more selective, but that’s more because there are more Hawks bloggers out there now. We had about 10 people each year, which I thought was a pretty solid turnout. And, most importantly, the amount of posting these bloggers have done on the team seems to have spiked afterwards, which is really what we as the team were hoping to get out of it.

In terms of access, the Hawks have been pretty careful about doling it out. The bloggers were invited to listen to the coach’s post-game presser live, but not ask questions. Also, as it turned out, I got to take them into the locker room to talk with Al Horford, which I think everyone got a huge kick out of.

I don’t think you’ll see us giving credentials to bloggers any time soon, but that’s a PR decision, not a website one…. I do think it will happen in time as blogs become more mainstream.

Brian Kamenetzky from the LA Times Lakers blog has season media passes (which he puts to good use) and he adds some thoughts to this:

Some teams are more progressive than others in terms of recognizing the role of the blogger, though I understand the need for quality control. In terms of providing regular access, it does make sense for teams to be discriminating in which outlets they’d let in. Not all sites are created equal. It would be smart, though, for teams to differentiate between those independent sights with a well-established readership and reputation for quality content and provide access to those writers.

I have not personally ever asked the Lakers for access or an interview (other than questions sent to Ty Nowell, the guy who oversees content on the Lakers Website). There are really two reasons for this. First, this is still a hobby to me, I have a family and a job that take priority in my life. I can’t skip work to go to practice, I’m not going to go to a ton of games whether I have a pass or not because those are nights away from my kids.

But the second part is this: What can I do with a pass that would add to the insight of this site? Going to practice, scribbling down the same quotes as everyone else and putting them up here with some witty commentary is not adding to the understanding of the team or the game. We’ve got good beat writers doing that already. What I picture doing is more stuff like the Henry Abbot True Hoop interview with Kurt Rambis, which gave some interesting insight into the triangle and the Lakers thinking. (Although, I would have had to ask about growing the moustache back.)

As passes become available to bloggers, we need to ask ourselves how we are using this passes. What are we doing that is different and special? How do we not become like the media we think is often lacking?

Maybe as long as we’re asking those questions, we stand a better chance of keeping our credibility.