Two out of Three Ainâ€™t Bad: First off, I promise never, ever to quote Meat Loaf in a post again. But heading into three home games against Sacramento, Milwaukee and New Orleans, I think the Lakers need to go 2-1, with the game against New Orleans the must win. Yes, Iâ€™d like 3-0, but evidence suggests this team showing up focused for three straight games is a long shot. But two out of three ainâ€™t bad.
As for the standings heading into tonight, the Lakers and Kings are in a tie, with the Hornets one game back (damn it Clips, help a guy out) and the Jazz two back (same to you, Suns).
Better music and Lamar Odom: Odom, who made a great cameo in HBOâ€™s Entourage last year, continues his cameo run with a brief appearance in the latest Dilated Peoples video, â€œBack Again.â€ A nod to Henry at True Hoop for finding and posting this first.
Kobe gets the leading roles in his own commercials, but Odom is the Philip Seymour Hoffman of the Lakers, getting the great character roles.
(If you just had to Google Dilated Peoples to find out who they are, you are not hip. And welcome to that club.)
Rest in Peace, Ray Meyer: The legendary DePaul basketball coach, who passed away recently, also indirectly help shape the Laker reputation as one of the great NBA franchises of all time. It was Meyer that shaped George Mikanâ€™s game in college, the man who went on to be cornerstone of the franchiseâ€™s first titles.
Artest v. Kobe, round three: This is one of two great defense versus offense matchups in the next two days, the other being Afflalo on Morrison in the UCLA/Gonzaga game.
As for the matchup at hand, judgesâ€™ scorecards gave the first round to Kobe but the second round to Artest. While there will be no knockouts â€” this is where you insert your own melee in Detroit joke â€” this will be the third and deciding game this season between the teams.
But Artest has not really slowed Kobe â€” in the two games theyâ€™ve been matched up, Kobe has shot 54.4% (eFG%, an increase of 6.2% over his season average) and a true shooting percentage of 56.8% (up 1.8%). Kobe also has hit 8 of 15 three pointers in those games. What Artest does not do is foul Kobe â€” he has just 7 free throws in the two games. Combined.
The Kings coming in: As Kwame a. mentioned in the comments, the Kings are not only in the second game of a back-to-back, they played a fast paced game last night in a win over the Sonics. All the better to wear their legs out, we can hope. Artest was the big offensive force for the Kings: 34 points on 10 of 18, plus getting to the line 15 times. He was the inside (although he hit two three pointers) to go with Bibbyâ€™s outside and quickness, plus the 30 he dropped.
On the season, the Kings shoot 46.9% (eFG%) on no days rest, down a little from their 48.6% season average.
The Kings, as we know, have been getting great play all around lately. Kenny Thomas is shooting 53.8% and pulling down 9.4 boards a game in the last 10, Brad Miller is shooting 47.6% and pulling down 8.6 rebounds. Kevin Martin is shooting 55.3% in that time.
More on the Kings: Sactown Royalty is one of the best blogs out there, despite being up in some cow town.
Things I want to see tonight: Part of the Heat/Pistons game. My gut still tells me Detroit destroys them in a seven-game series, but I have seen little of these teams lately and Detroit has wobbled a little while the Heat have beat up the inferior with little in terms of a big test. Should be interesting.
Keyâ€™s to a Laker win: Kwame plays great man defense on the block, but when his man moves away from the basket â€” like the Cleveland game â€” he is slow to follow. He better not do that against Brad Miller. Smush is also going to have to stay in front of Bibby and not let him carve up the Laker D.
Kobe and Artest will be entertaining, but itâ€™s Odom who must make the Kings adjust to him, that will free up other guys to get good looks. He needs to drive the lane (as does Smush). This is a winnable game and would be a key bit of insurance in the drive to make the playoffs.
kwame a. says
c’mon kurt dialated peoples has been repping cali since the mid-90’s, i saw them live at Occidental College once, great live performers as well. Pick up “The Platform” if you want to hear their best. However, their fan base is uh, how do i say, found of the gonga, and if Lamar is at the video shoot…(joke).
Go Lakers, defend the permimeter
My rap/hip-hop litteracy is a weak spot. Outside of seeing Public Enemy live once, I have nothing. Now, if Odom shows up in a Social Distortion video….
Tom Z. says
Odom in a Social Distortion vid will happen when Slava Medvedenko gets love on a Living Legends track.
I think tonight is going to replicate the first matchup of the season: a Bibby-Bryant shootout. One difference is the foul thing: Ron-Ron just doesn’t let opponents get to the line. Kobe was 13-13 in that first game, and both Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia were mired in foul trouble.
Bibby has proven that Smush and Sasha can’t guard him. Expect lots of shots from MB10, at the very least.
Another nugget: Brad Miller played awful on offense last night (4 pts on 4-12 and 0-2 FT, 1 OReb, and an absolutely whopping 1 assist). He always bounces back bigtime from crappy games. (And it doesn’t hurt that Shareef owns Kwame and Bynum.)
chris henderson says
I think the key to tonight is Smush putting a body on Bibby, if he lets Bibby get that first step, and winds up chasing him to the hoop, that means our bigs are gonna get in foul trouble as the last line of D. we are already short in the bigs dept. (undermanned, not short as in height), so we need Smush to FOCUS, PLAY D, BE AGGRESSIVE….AND FOCUS! this is one game he can’t be posing, arguing with the refs, or pouting and stop playing when the play hasn’t officially been blown dead.
It’s a good question to ask: What would make Smush’s defense better, getting up on people or staying a step off and using his length? Thoughts?
kwame a. says
watching smush play for awhile now, i would prefer to see him play tight. when he plays now he already rarely gets a hand up in the shooters face in a substantial enough fashion to alter the shot. also, playing tighter and picking up full-court would at least eat more time off the shot-clock and make the entry passes that have been going for layups tougher.
Tom Z. says
Well, I can only as far as playing Bibby goes: You can’t step back on him. Mike would much rather stick a jumpshot in your face than work himself into the lane – especially since he’s a bit bulkier and a tad less quick than in previous years.
Bibby has cooled off on drawing fouls since the mid-season, when he was going to the line at Kobe-like rates. It’s to Bibby’s clear detriment that he relies so much on the jumpshot when he is great at driving and drawing the foul.
But Bibby does so much off the screen that the key is fighting through picks and staying in front of him. When he’s one-on-one, you almost need to double unless you have a stud defender.
(This is also all more fodder as to why Brad Miller is underrated – his shooting ability makes his picks so much more valuable. That, and he’s good for a nice cobweb-shaker in the backcourt against the opposing point guard once a game. Milt Palacio might have gotten a concussion earlier this season.)
Does anyone want to keep count of how many times Bibby dribbles to his left off of a screen and pulls up at 18 feet? Watching that will probably be as painful as watching – as you said – Kwame not defend Miller at around 15.
Looking at the personell of both of these teams, I think Sac clearly has the better team. Consider that the Lakers have roughly the same record and could have or should have won, oh, 10 more close games, I really feel like the Lakers are overachievers.
Here’s a question: Seeing what Artest has done for the Kings, would any of you have traded Odom for Artest straight up if that trade were proposed to you? At the time I would’ve said no, but now I’m not so sure.
8 (Jason), I think there was never any doubt that Artest was going to make a team better on the court instantly. Would the Lakers be better right now with Artest (plus the salary filler) than with Odom, probably because Kobe would have gone to initiator, Artest would be a beast on the block and play defense.
But, when does the timebomb go off? Will he make it through all of next season? If I were a GM, after watching how the time off after the suspension did not change what happened in Indiana, I would have been very wary of trading for Artest. I’m not sure I would have made the Odom trade as the Lakers â€“ it works this year but what about next year â€“ but it made sense for Sac to make the trade for Peja, who was likely gone at the end of the year anyway.
Daniel Myers says
Smushy needs to lay off the guy he is defending.
If he lays off of them, knowing that they will have to settle for the jumper, he can use his length to jump out at them and get some blocks.
Also, he needs to start going over the screens and not under. Usually they get wide open jumpers because our guys go under the screen and theres no one up top. If you go over the screen and trail the offensive man, the only shot he can take in a running floater. Plus, it draws them into the paint where he can get some help.
I’m feeling a BIG win tonight.
Daniel Myers says
Oh yeah forgot:
CAN I SEE KOBE GO TO THE LINE TONIGHT!!
He was getting murdered last game and went to the line maybe twice.
Daniel Myers says
I’ll take Odom over Artest.
Doesn’t Odom average more Rebounds? I dont know.
Plus he’s an overall better teammate.
kwame a. says
ill take Lamar post all-star break over Artest
Can the Lakers guarantee jim jackson like a million a year if he intentionally injures Artest?
12. (Daniel), Odom is a far, far better rebounder. That would be what thhe Lakers would have given up.
Those last few minutes were so painful. I had visions of Cleveland, luckily Kobe is around, or the Lakers were gonners.
9 – Good points.
The game was pretty entertaining tonight. Refs I think had an overall bad game (not necessarily biased, just not all that impressive). Too bad the Kings didn’t really show up in the first half.
It’s the perfect time for Kwame to start gettin hot. It’s definitely time to get Kobe some rest (only had to toss up 20 shots!).
Derek Banducci says
The 4th quarter let-downs against Sacramento and Cleveland were totally different.
In Cleveland, the Lakers gave the game away by taking poor shots. Run down the court, take a three, miss, repeat.
Against Sacramento, open jump shots and contested layups were just not falling.
I never felt nervous about this game because we were playing good baksketball and things just weren’t going our way for a stretch. That happens.
What’s frustrating is when you give up a big lead by making stupid decisions, as the Lakers did in Cleveland.
Current odds of making the playoffs 96.6% (coolstandings.com).
chris henderson says
Bibby had 5 points at halftime, then we took him out by banging knees, (good job Smush..hehe) and the Lakes never looked back..
well, maybe they got a little nervous in the 4th when they got within 5 pts.
but as we all know, this game is a game of streaks, momentum..Mr. MO..
and the key is being able to withstand those streaks that go against you, be it a combination of them getting hot, us getting cold, the refs conspiring against us, (or for us) and I think ol’ PJ has some good insight on how to weather those storms…(the team doesn’t necessarily, ot fate, work to the plan always, but I do believe he has some plan/experience in these situations). last night, it was about getting the D, the stops at a critical juncture, and getting a shot or 2 to drop on our end.
the nice thing about Kobe, we all know how hard he works, year round, and his desire to win is above anyone else in the league, (sometimes to a fault), but my point here is that “luck” IS a factor in any sport, but in order for luck to have any affect, the shot has to be close. for the shot to be close on a consistent basis, you need to be able to have the drive/focus and dedication to be a gym rat, work on fundamentals until you’re SICK AND TIRED OF IT, but that’s what it takes. once you’ve got those basic fundamentals down to the point they are ingrained in your brain, that you know the exact moment of release, rotation, the clearance to get the shot off, from any spot on the floor…well, what looks like a “pray for a miracle” shot by kobe, and would be by many in the league, he actually feels like it has a shot…
and that’s whyhe made that late trey in the 4th, taking the wind out of their sails, and ending their comeback.
conversely, because of all the same reasons that he made it last night, he can do what we’ve just been bitching about “treyaholics”…so we gotta learn to take the good with the bad, and Kobe needs to learn that he can deal the blow, or find an open man, whatever it takes to get the W! and when he learns that, the Lakes will go to the next level…no doubt.
In defense of the Lakers in the Cleveland game, if I drive and get assaulted by the defense and I’m not getting any calls, I’ll start launching treys as well.
So Phil wants us to finish the season by going 11-2 in our last 13 games. How realistic do you guys think this goal is?