Don’t things seem a little brighter today?
Sure, the Lakers are still going to be without Bynum for a few months. But yesterday at noon I felt like I lived in a gulag. Clouds darkened the sky, food was without taste, everything seemed like hard labor.
Today the sun has pierced the clouds. Hope has returned. There are a couple reasons for that
First, there was the slow realization that while this is not good for Bynum, this is totally different than last year. Rehab starts in a couple weeks, hard rehab gets underway in about a month. He should be back for the playoffs. Listen to the words of Bynum himself:
I was worried until we got the results of the MRI, obviously I didn’t want to miss the whole season because I just did that last year. After we got the results back they told me it was a pretty severe sprain but it’s better than anything else that could have happened. No surgery needed, I’m just going to rehab it and get back on the court…..
When you have a doctor tell you this is the best thing that could have happened to you, having seen the play, you get a little bit relieved, and he said no surgery, which was a little more of a relief.
The other thing was the reminder of just how special Kobe Bryant is, and how beautiful and fun the game can be. We shouldn’t need that reminder, but we Lakers fans have come to take the amazing as the expected from Bryant. We take is greatness for granted.
It takes the extraordinary — like dropping 61 in Madison Square Garden on the Knicks — to make us stop for a second again and really appreciate Kobe. Appreciate the footwork. The basketball intelligence. The Athleticism. The Passion. He is part of a select group that can elevate his game and the game to artistry.
Last night was also a reminder that even without Bynum, this team is still a contender. This is not the team that went to the Finals last year — this is the team that went to the Finals with Trevor Ariza added to the mix and a year of experience for the then-overwhelmed younger players. This team is very, very good. Can it beat Boston then Cleveland on the road this week? Who knows? Who knows if they could have won these two games on the road with Bynum? But right after the Bynum announcement I would have said they could not, with a night to sleep on it I can say maybe. And that gives me hope. And more importantly, my hope extends to whether or not they could beat those teams in a seven-game series.
I know, from the comments here and around the Lakers Nation, some Lakers fans have resigned themselves to the gulag. I just can’t be that guy. I would urge all of you to step into the sunshine and bathe in its warmth. Everything is not lost, far from it, there is so much fun and excitement ahead of us, so many amazing moments of great basketball and exciting series to come. The journey is the fun part. And we have no idea where that journey will end, but there is still hope and belief that it can end where we want.
dan reines says
brother, i’m with you — as great as the lakers have been with andrew, they’re still a finals team without him — as you say, they’re a finals team even before the addition of ariza and a year of experience.
my concern right now is not that the lakers won’t be able to hold it down in bynum’s absence. my only concern is that his absence, like last year, will be longer than we expect. if it’s not, i think the lakers will be alright.
I’m just so disappointed in these “fans” that think our Title hopes are over. I use quotations because any real fan who watches these Lakers consistently cannot possibly really think this team has no shot without Bynum. It’s not logical.
I think this team is better than last year, and now they have extra incentive to prove that Bynum is a luxury, not a necessity.
I’ve been reassuring my friends that this is still a very deep team and one that can handle the regular season to get a top seed still.
Kurt, is it a sprain or a tear? Reports were saying it was a tear but your quote above says sprain. That would certainly present a better scenario for recovery and hopefully not extend it out like last year.
I can’t even describe how I felt watching Kobe last night. I’ll just leave it at, how much I appreciate having the opportunity to witness such excellence.
Good timing by Kobe, we needed that.
A kneee injury with no surgery, back by the end of the season – great news considering how bad it looked when it happened.
This is also an opportunity. This team is now the same team that got blown out in game 6 in Boston (except as noted above). They have a chance to redeem themselves on the stage of their most crushing defeat and to send Boston a big message. When Andrew comes back all the better.
Something over the years that Phil Jackson has shown he is a real master of is the ability to guide a team through the ups and downs of a long season. There is alot to work on. The second unit needs to ramp it up again. The defense needs to improve.
Other than the fact that I was supposed to start a vacation in Hawaii today (cancelled because of business reasons), I feel much better.
Kurt, I am sorry but I guess I ‘m a “half-empty” type of person and like #2 said above said it might be longer than we expect. Can Kobe score 81? Yes but that does not make us a better team? No. Can he do it against teams like the Celtics? No. W/O Bynum our chances are “slim and none” and like Chick use to say…and slim just left the building.
Beyond Kobe’s ridiculous numbers last night you can really see his personality rubbing off on our guys.
Pau going as strong as I’ve ever seen him go to the hole was great. After he got stripped in the first half you could tell he decided that was it. Ariza making the Knicks pay for ever getting rid of him, LO taking it strong to the hoop and just playing incredibly smart.
Help defense was pretty solid most of the night despite the little run that allowed the Knicks to get 115 or whatever they ended up with.
I like our chances against the “big 2” of this trip, we are playing with a chip on our shoulder, and for once it’s not just Kobe.
Sorry for being the contrarian, but despite getting 61 points from Kobe and a monster game from Gasol and still just beating the pitiful Knicks by 9 points, I am absolutely not thinking that we can take Boston or Cleveland without Bynum.
Still a finals team…but we need the big fella back to win the finals. Kobe was incredible last night. 61 on 31 shots? WOW.
we can take boston and cleveland.. we just need the 2008 kobe.. the guy who dropped 61 on the *knicks* looked more like the 06 vintage..
Whenever I see a comment that starts with “Sorry/I’m sorry”……I ignore it.
You got to believe to achieve.
It is a long season…
We were a half inch earlier this year from losing Kobe for a few weeks…
The single most important factor in the season is the one you cannot predict: Injuries.
Not wishing ill on anyone, but be honest, if the Cavs lose Lebron, or the Celts lose Pierce, or the Magic lose Howard, they are all in far, FAR, worse shape then the Lakers are right now.
I hope that Bynum will make it back for the last weeks and the playoffs, but even if he doesn’t, the Lakers are a championship contender, and not just because of Kobe. Gasol/Odom/Ariza can all play a bit too…
Great game last night.
And honestly, win or lose, Kobe is worth watching.
Here you go again.
Did you watch the game?
If you did, then you would know that the game was OVER before the Knicks “cut” it to 9 points in garbage time. The Lakers were up by a lot more than that. You’re caught up in superficial stats and bogus final scores. The Lakers had control of the game from the outset.
Did you watch the game??
You’re right. I just can’t help it sometimes. There’s just so much illogical reasoning, front running, negative, and bandwagon fans going on lately, it’s hard to keep frustration in.
Kurt, what is the deal with Henry over at True Hoop? He has an article this morning where he says that Bynum attacked Wallace. It seems like he is purposefully using language to color an incident and a player in a very unfair manner.
All I have to say is, if you can shoot 60% from the field, you have my blessing to shoot at every opportunity. I’m inclined to extend my blessings to those who shoot 48%, even.
Defense is important because that’s where you really need a team.
On offense? A team is nice, if only to get them flowing on defense, but if you got Kobe, you don’t need no team offense.
Just be ready to rebound & defend.
the other Stephen says
odom may have started at power forward last night, but trevor still closed out the game over him.
Do we still even need to humor Joe’s responses here?
Personally, after reading a lot of the back and forth between the posters here and Joe over the last few days, I think the whole thing has gotten tired already.
Like Kurt said, we should “step into the sunshine and bathe in its warmth”.
Let the naysayers and/or anti-fans sully by themselves in their cold, miserable spots.
David Rivers says
In comparing this year team without Bynum to last year’s team, you’ve got to account for the loss of Turiaf. That guy could play defense, hit an open jumper to 15 feet and rebound.
Who gets those 25 minutes a game? Former Clipper Great Powell? the memory of Chris Mihm? or the NBA’s best back story DJ Mbenga (when he heals)? Can 1 of those guys produce against San Antonio, NO, and the east monsters? Its not promising.
Joe and Azzemoto- Did you watch the game? The final score is very deceiving. We built a big lead and, then inserted some scrubs to finish the game. Sure, the lead was reduced but no one really cared at that point as the game was clearly out of reach for the Knicks. Relax son, the sky is not falling.
As far as the C’s and the Cavs, let’s take it one game at a time. Realize that that the C’s game is the second of a back-to-back so the Lakers will not have any meaningful practice time in to deal with the loss of Bynum. The team will likely have to wing it – so there is a good a chance the C’s will win. As far as the Cavs, they are still not at 100% so its a toss up. Either way, you have to keep in mind that Bynum just went down a couple of days ago and it will take some time for this team to absorb his abscense and get back into a Bynum-less rythum. So, even if we lose both games, the truth is that it would be too soon to start predicting that we “absolutely” will not beat Boston or Cleveland. Additionally, keep in mind that after this week, we will not see either one of these teams for the remainder of the regular season, so the team needs to be more focused on the competition in the west rather than the teams in the east. Besides, even if we assume that the Lakers make it to the finals, who knows if the C’s or the Cavs will be there also.
guys, the sky is not falling. Remember that Drew was always a 3rd or 4th option and it was not until the last couple of weeks that we saw tremendous improvement – and no one can really say whether that was the end of a short streak or the beggining of a long one. I also remember that many of us were a little frustrated at Drew because he was not pulling numbers like he should -and even though he was not producing stellear numbers the Lakers still had the best record in the NBA prior to his resurgence.
So, the way I see it, we still have a very strong chance. Sure, not having Drew around hurts our chances, but I think this team plays better as an underdog. Plus, we now have the added benefit of giving meaningful minutes to guys like Powell and Mihm who will be important collaborators in any playoff run. In short, there’s tremendous opportunity here in the long haul even if we experience some losses in the short run. So don’t get all flustered over what-if’s and what happens in the next 3 games. Let’s be patient and see what develops in the next 2 months instead.
I thought Joe was through with this forum and never coming back.
You guys that are saying the Lakers can’t beat Boston in the Finals act like the Lakers got creamed in the finals. Outside of game 6 every game was close. They win game 4 (which with another year and more poise they probably do) and this team are probably the reigning champs. Let’s just enjoy the fact that we all get to watch Kobe Bryant on a nightly basis.
P.S. I can predict the future: http://jonesonthenba.com/2009/02/nate-jones-can-predict-future.html
Thank you for this post.
I posted the final comment on other thread, in which I said basically waht #6 said (Joe) said. Kobe going off for 61 in NY was fun–but it is also a sign of the relative weakness of the team.
I do not see a title without Bynum.
Craig W. says
Spoiled is not a strong enough word for quite a number of “Laker fans”. “Glass half empty” doesn’t cover it either.
This team, this organization, has a very long reputation for excellence. We are in the middle of a very talented team, with both young and very experienced players. The only team with comparable composition is the Celtics – and their bench isn’t as deep.
We actually may not win the Championship this year, but we are certainly very much in the hunt.
To listen to about half the comments here, I would think our team is the Clippers. Somehow, last year the fan comments weren’t as black as they are this year and much less was expected of that team. Good Grief!
Eh.. he’s probably still looking to bait someone here. Not that it matters now anyway, people here are wise to him already.
As for Henry, I guess I respect him enough to let him say what he thinks about the Bynum situation. So he thinks Bynum attacked Wallace… we can’t really do anything about a person’s personal convictions.
I guess knowing for myself that Bynum didn’t really mean a single bit of it according to his actions later on, and the fact that lots of other people acknowledge this, is pretty much enough for me. I’m content with that.
20. But it was just one game.. right? It’s not like it’s going to happen every night. I’ll be concerned if Kobe’s going to do this until the playoffs come around, but until that happens, I’m just going to consider this a hiccup in the usual flow of the Lakers’ offense in games.
Why are fans that don’t automatically go “half full” on receipt of terrible news labeled anti-fans? That’s pretty weak Laker Nation. If some of us haven’t claimed silver lining yet or don’t feel good about the injury, it shouldn’t kill your high.
That said, as a self admitted Kobe lover, until he can go nuclear on one of the current contenders, I’m not getting too excited. One of those on Thursday would be real nice and would make a lasting statement for the playoffs. That 61 raises his case for best in the L right now, though.
23. Hmm, you’re right clutch. Guess even the most positive fans went through some depressing patches themselves as well.
I think most of the guys here are just riled over some guys here doing it at such a consistent basis. How can someone be so negative for such a long period of time?
I was under the impression that fans stay depressed for a bit, then get over it and move on.. not dwell on it over and over and over and over again, as if trying to irritate the more optimistic fans.
Gr8 Scott says
Kurt – great post. My six year old son and I marveled as Kobe added another piece of Laker lore to his growing legend. You summed it up beautifully.
Wondahbap – Thanks for trying to keep the negative fan who shall not be named (nfwsnbn) in check. 🙂
All – This team can win a title (with or without Bynum). If you don’t think they will use this as a rallying point, think again. Kobe is likely going to ramp back up to full attack mode and the rest of our bench players will see more minutes because of this. Take Bynum at his word and hope for the best, but don’t write us off because of the injury. We still have the greatest player in the game today, an All Star in Gasol, a veteran PG in Fisher, an all around presence in Odom and a bench that still boasts Ariza, Farmar, Vlad, Powell and the Machine. We might lose a few more games without Bynum, but we will thrive. Go Lakers!! This is a time to really believe in our team and what it can do and I’m glad your with those of us who are glass is half full.
clutch824 you are CLUTCH! You expressed my sentiments exactly. Thank you.
It was so awesome watching Kobe “in the zone” last night, to paraphrase from Lamar.
I was watching the game, thoroughly depressed over Drew’s knee and then BOOM! KOBE! First time witnessing a 60+ game from Kobe, I never thought I’d see another one again. The only difference was, this time, Kobe looked so downcasted, I think he was punishing himself for Drew’s knee. I wanted to give him a big hug.
chris h says
I don’t know if anybody has mentioned this yet, but last night our team had 8 blocks!
without Drew, I’d say that’s pretty darn impressive.
It says something about this team when having lost Andrew Bynum, one of the best centers in this league, we fans can still have hope to beat Cleveland and Boston.
Apparently you didn’t catch the Lakers in San Antonio when Powell produced jump shot after jump shot in Tim Duncan’s face in the clutch?
Our bench is more experienced and even stronger with the addition of a healthy Trevor Ariza. We can handle any team in the west any night, and there is no doubt about that in my mind.
I simply don’t get how the loss of Bynum makes us not a championship team, did people watch the 2007/2008 season/playoffs?
I think the Lakers are still a contender. Are they better with a healthy Bynum? Of course. But the Lakers made it to the finals last year without Bynum, and this years team without Bynum is better than last years (at least on paper since they have only played 1+ games without Bynum you can’t say that for sure). We got older, more experienced, hungrier, added a healthy Ariza (who has been playing great this year), and Kobe and Gasol seem determined not to have the same results as last year. Its not like the Lakers got swept in the finals last year. Other than game 6 all of the games were close. If the ball bounces differently in a couple of those games the Lakers could be defending a title this year. Losing Bynum makes it harder, but its not like the Lakers lost Kobe.
Maybe I’m an idiot, but I just don’t get the urgency that so many people seem to be feeling about Bynum’s injury.
1) It was Bynum. He’s only one guy. A big guy. A key guy. But still…one player on (arguably) the deepest roster in the league got hurt.
2) Doesn’t every other legit contender have some key player(s) injured right now? Or who has recently come back? Cleveland. New Orleans. Orlando. San Antonio. None of them have played this season without at least one guy sustaining a significant injury.
Granted, the Bynum’s fall looked REALLY bad when it happened live on Sat. But all the news from the locker room since then has been to the effect of “the sky still hangs above the earth.”
That said…I’m encouraged by the news that Bynum is expected to be ready for a play-off run. It won’t be an optimal situation for anyone in the Lakers organization. But that’s life in the NBA.
Oh…and there’s still this Kobe Bryant guy. He’s pretty good.
P. Ami says
We haven’t played the Cavs in a series so it is much harder to try and compare the teams against each other. Point being, we know the Celtics much better then we know the Cavs and the the fact is, I’m in the camp of Lakers fans who are a bit traumatized by how last season ended so I’m more inclined to discuss the differences between the Lakers this year as it effects games against the Lepers.
Gasol was effective for long stretches against the Celtics last season. People also forget how effective he was in defending Garnett. His effectiveness was limited most by Perkins, seeing that Gasol was able to defend Garnett with Perkins out and he is less effected by Garnett’s length then Perks girth. This is one of the many things that make Bynum valuable against the Celtics. If you recall the sequences that ended this season’s Christmas game Gasol had room to make those shots because the Celtic interior defenders had to stay with Andrew. Neither Turiaf, Mihm or Mbenga were players that the Celtics felt the same way about (btw, anybody watch Turiaf on Duncan last night? Kid was very effective. I think he held a very hot Duncan to 4 pts in the 15 minutes he was assigned to him in regulation and he had some very nice blocks in general. I digress). If Mihm gets some PT and JP gets more as well, I think they are both players the Celtics will have to cover for the split second longer it takes for Gasol or someone else to make a play. It effects how the Celtics get to pack the paint. If you have JP making his baseline 12 footer that, ladies and gentlemen, opens up the paint. If Andrew is back, it becomes an even bigger problem for them, what with his ability to go up for lobs, to make jumpers in the lane, to match Perkins in size, to out long anybody on the court and in changing Rondo’s shots in ways our other bigs don’t.
Ariza… Dude can be put on Rondo or Pierce. He is not going to shu them down but nobody does. He is capable of limiting the damage. This allows Kobe to guard his energy by defending lesser players for longer stretches, and all those shots that fell short last year, they might actually go in this time around. If Ariza gets hot and is catching and shooting with confidence during the series… it will be even more difficult to to pack the paint.
Gasol is more agressive this year. How much of that is gaining a comfort level and how much of that is not having to bang against centers? We will find out over the course of the next couple of months.
No PJ Brown and no Posey. The Celtics have very little bench depth. Powe has improved since last year but I am no more impressed with Big Baby or House then I was last year. I think Veal is getting more time this season and its not because the Celtics are blowing out more teams. What size the Celtics have in the starting line-up is basically all the size they’ve got. The same cannot be said for us and that is assuming AB is gone for the season. I think experience is less of an issue then is being made by Kobe but I’ll defer to him. My thoughts are that other then Cassell and Posey, nobody on the Celtics had made it to the Finals either. Other then Garnett and Pierce, nobody on the Celtics had made it to the conference finals. While we were a younger team then they, they had issues of inexperience to pretty much match ours. I just think our team is more talented so it has more room to grow then the C’s.
Everything I went through above is to build an argument that, even without Bynum, the Celtics will have a harder time packing the paint and that was probably the single biggest reason we could not score like we’d like last season. Kobe can attack the rim and gather fouls in ways he could not last season. I think the Lakers rely less on reaching in defending on the perimeter and now defend using their feet more. Ariza is a big part of that. If we defend just a bit better then last season and they can’t pack the paint quite as much, if Kobe is kept fresher because there is no Posey to guard and Ariza can cover some of Kobe’s assignments, well, I think that is the difference between beating the Celtics in a 7 game series and not.
All that said, come back soon Andrew.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is how to present your ideas, be they right or wrong, without coming off like a troll.
I’m not calling people who see the glass half empty anti-fans because they hold those sentiments. I question their knowledge because they have no real reason except for the sake of over reactive worrying. I seriously doubt that a couple of the commenters watch the Lakers on a consistent basis due to their illogical comments. Someone complaining about a 9 point difference in a game when we were up by 19 with 2 minutes left is absolutely ridiculous. We’re supposed to think he has some clue and put up with his so called foresight? No. It’s not a difference of opinion.
I like this blog because of it’s quality of contributors. People can think or recite what they want, but at least give a well thought out, rational reason as to why. All we’re getting is fretting. Why should we be so worried? Boston isn’t the same team as last year. Cleveland has even more to prove then we do.
For those that think Kobe scored too much for your taste: Basketball at the NBA level is a game of matchups. You exploit the matchups in your favor until the other team adjusts (then you adjust). If the other team does not or cannot adjust? You just keep going to the well.
I don’t mind Kobe going for 61 if he is shooting 60%. The Knicks could not adjust to stop the Lakers two stars, so the Lakers kept going there. The Raptors see that and plan accordingly, suddenly Odom or Fisher or whoever has good looks.
I agree with that. Also, people fail to realize that Kobe did that BECAUSE HE CAN. Who cares who scores the points, as long as they’re scored. I’ve said this before, there is a level of NBA basketball we cannot fully comprehend. We love Kobe because he can do these things with ease. The Knicks were the perfect game to make that statement against. I have no problem with Kobe putting on a show when he can. Will he try this against the Celtics or Cleveland? I doubt it, but if he’s hot like that against them and can, then go ahead.
Jones already said in post 22, but it deserves repeating. Even without AB, this team is a better team than the one that lost to the Celtics in the Finals last year simply due to the addition of Ariza, whereas the Celtics are clearly weaker due to their diminished bench.
And let’s not forget that in last year’s Finals the Lakers were robbed in Game 2 (28 more FT attempts by the C’s), and gave away Game 4, and despite that still managed to make it a 4-2 series. There’s no reason to believe that we can’t get back there again and win it all this time, with or without Bynum. (I’d prefer with, obviously, because the kid deserves it).
PS – I’m starting to lose all respect for TrueHoop Henry. His repeated usage of terms like “attack” in reference to Bynum’s foul on Wallace is both ridiculous and intellectually dishonest.
P. Ami, I like most of what you said however you lost me when you said “Kobe can attack the rim and gather fouls in ways he could not last season.” Really? I think he is going to the rim LESS this year. What games are you watching?
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I sure would like to see Mihm play more. I always thought he was a good center and he’s healthy this year.Maybe Phil wants to see him practice more with the starters before playing him.
Reading other reactions to Kobe always makes me smile…
I just imagine: “Kobe discovers cure for cancer! Jordan still the best!”
Ultimately, there is no way to truly compare eras.
MJ was in a nice window of talent, where he was clearly superior at his position and in his area of the floor. His only real competition in terms of talent were centers (Hakeem) or flame-outs (Kemp). The greats had slowed and were moving on (Bird and Magic) and the kids were just getting to the league (Kobe, Garnett).
If we reversed Kobe and MJ, switched them up in a freaky friday way, who knows what that would have done. Would Kobe have 6 rings with Pippen? Would Jordan have vetoed the trade for Shaq to begin with? No way to know.
What I do know is that Kobe is the best scorer I have ever seen, and I understand everytime I watch him that his game is a tribute in ways to all the greats that proceeded him.
And each time, I am glad I saw it. Last night was wonderful.
P. Ami says
My point was that with the paint less packed, due to the issues I already listed, Kobe “can” attack the rim if need be. Last Finals he just couldn’t and one wonders if some of why he has been attacking the rim less is an attempt to develop consistent responses by his teammates to what it is the Celtics forced onto them last season.
MagicLover, I think we will see more of Mihm. Last night, with the rather soft four/fives the Knicks roll out, the toughness of Powell was a good counter to that and so he got the minutes. I think we may see that pattern again in Toronto.
But when the time comes that the Lakers need more length in the paint off the bench, when more traditional centers are called for, we will see Mihm. I too hope he makes the most of it.
hey kurt + fb&g community,
longtime reader and fan of the site, first time commenter. just wanted to share a thought that struck me today…
for most of the season so far, lebron looked like he was pretty much going to be the mvp this year. but hearing that msg crowd, and seeing how kobe totally dropped 61 on purpose just to give his team (and us fans) a boost… that’s EXACTLY the kind of thing mvps do, right? if the lakers manage to finish with the best record in the league after this bynum injury, doesn’t kobe HAVE to repeat as mvp? as a lakers fan, i would obviously say kobe is always an mvp candidate, but in terms of the way the national debate is going to turn, i feel like this really opens up kobe’s chances, whereas it seemed like before bynum’s injury, lebron pretty much had the thing locked up. obviously a lot can happen from here, but just at the margin, it feels like kobe has a better shot now than before.
this is significant to me not b/c i put individual glory above the team at all. it’s just that when kobe finally got that mvp, it seemed like nba nation felt that one was enough for such a controversial, polarizing figure. i think kobe being a repeat mvp would just really… go a long way towards marginalizing the haters’ intellectual framework. i don’t think any hater would ever have imagined kobe being a REPEAT mvp (like the beloved nash).
sorry if this rambled. it’s my first time. am i delusional or what?
31 – No, #61, err #81, my bad # 24 is the one that’s clutch. I’m just spectating, but thanks.
39 – wondahbab, I wasn’t calling any one person out or blindly supporting one poster. I was just pointing out all fans don’t deal with this bad news or poor game performances the same, and we shouldn’t immediate attack a guy for stating so…as long as they’re not trolling as P. Ami said.
That said I often agree with your post and #41 is another example. The hate against Kobe is silly, I have gotten tired of arguing it, online & off. When someone’s the BEST scorer in the history of the L, that means he will often take a lot of shots and score a lot of points. He may not get a lot of assists, why would he? He’s the goods, best in the business. And as a Kobe fan, as long as he’s not shooting us out the game, he can take 50-60% of the shots. And yes I said best in history! He may be equaled, but he hasn’t been bettered. Stop taking him for granted. The show won’t last forever…
A couple more sunshine rays, that it looks like no one has mentioned yet… Pau Gasol went for 31 points and 14 rebounds against the Knicks (and should get a bit more props for that than he’s gotten so far, btw). Lamar only had six points, but on the other hand grabbed 14 rebounds, so I’m willing to forgive him.
Yes, I know, I know, “it’s only the Knicks”, but to me those rebounding numbers look like we are going to have a pretty good presence on the boards while Andrew is out rehabbing his knee.
To the glass-is-half-empty posters: Andrew is only one person on a team, and it is good teams that win basketball games. If great players could do it on their own, Kevin Garnett would have created a dynasty long before he came to Boston.
To the glass-is-half-full posters: If our dominant and aggressive starting center gets in the habit of injuring one of his knees just before the all-start break every year, the team is eventually going to be in trouble because of it because every time we finally get back in rhythm with him we will need to start over without him.
Or to say it in other and fewer words, both sides have good points. Personally, I’m not going to side with either one of you, until someone can explain to me why there is a glass in front of me when I clearly ordered an espresso.
I was at the garden last night. I got lucky and scored some tickets. And being there in person to witness something like that is special indeed. I felt maybe within two minutes that something that Kobe was going to go off that game. You just knew it. The whole crowd knew it. And yes this game was about Kobe. But seeing those Ariza tomahawk dunks in person was also awe inspiring. What a night to score tickets to the Garden. A perfect New York evening to see a Los Angeles legend go off.
Celts Nation says
Brian – it is a mistake to think that the Celts have a weaker bench than last year. Sure, we lost Posey but the play of Big Baby, and the improved production from Rondo, Ray Allen and Tony Allen make up for it. (Ray Allen was struggling badly last year, look it up). And as far as Ariza is concerned, he doesn’t have a shot at defending Pierce, who is way too big for him to defend.
Without a healthy Bynum, the Lakers have no shot, as you will see come Thursday night.
38) P ami – good post.
And don’t forget how close the first three Lakers losses in the Finals were. The Celtics were the better team, but not by very much.
truehoops has been so poor lately.
Hey guys.. I’ve been reading and posting on FB&G for like 2 years now… and as a college student from Riverisde in NYC I scraped together some money to go to the game last night and OMG! We snuck down and grabbed courtside seats for the second half and witnessed KObe go from 40-50-60-61… It was amazing. After the game a friend and I got in the visitors section after the game and I stood right next to Bynum (he was holding a crutch) and saw his family. Got a picture with Ariza, DJ, Brian Shaw, Sasha and Luke. Jordan never came up to take pictures but I saw him too after the game. Craziest night ever…
Kurt I can e-mail you some pictures if you’d like…
Note – Ariza arms are almost as long as my body – jesus no wonder he can dunk like a monster.
#53 – you must be the only Celts fan who thinks that. Everyone else that I know is greatly worried by the bench this year. And how can you discount Posey? He was the only one who could guard Kobe, and he was your clutchest shooter off the bench.
Do you honestly think that your team is *better* than last year? Because I can say without a doubt that with or without Bynum, the Lakers are definitely better.
And FYI, Ariza and Pierce are the same height. Pierce has more bulk on him, but it’s not like he’s Shaq or anything.
19) David Rivers,
You are exaggerating Turiaf’s on-floor contributions. In the playoffs last year, he averaged 10 mpg, 2 pts, 1.5 rebounds, 1 block. That is not hard to replace.
I think Powell is actually a better overall player than Turiaf; he will get a chance now to show it.
Celts Nation – Don’t kid yourself. Your bench is far weaker than last year.
1. You lost your best bench player and the only possible “Kobe container” in Posey.
2. Big Baby is shooting 7% worse from the field with the same stats as last season. Look it up.
3. Tony Allen is not improving (his best season, by far, was two years ago). Look it up.
4. Ray Allen had a forgettable regular season and early playoffs last year. He turned it up in the finals and he is still playing at that elite level. He should have made the all-star team over Pierce.
5. Paul PIerce is having a weaker season than last year. Shooting worse from the field, less dimes, etc. Look it up.
Don’t say “look it up” if you actually want people to look it up. They will prove you wrong. Lesson learned.
Agreed – the only place area of the game where Ronny is superior to Powell is on defense, especially weak side shotblocking. But Powell is a much better and more consistent shooter, and I think he’s better on the glass too.
I agree with you regarding Kobe’s MVP candidacy, but I think the tide started to turn some a couple of weeks ago, when he went for two triple doubles. He’s closing the gap. Now, with Bynum going down, the door has opened considerably.
He knows this. Expect HUGE games from him when the opportunity arises. Expect him to be very efficient in games against Boston and Cleveland, with close to double digit assists.
What is your moniker at Celticsblog?
The only fly in the ointment here, so far as I am concerned, is the ability of the team to radically alter its makeup to assimilate Bynum back when he returns in the middle of the playoffs.
Would it be wiser to play him for match-ups at that point off the bench, or just plug him back into the starting line-up and pretend that chemistry will magically reappear?
Why don’t we stop worrying about the Celtics for a bit guys. As I said earlier, the outlook for theThursday game is not too hot considering that the coaching staff and the players will practically would have had a whopoing two practices and two games of playing time without Bynum. What you will likely see is a Lakers squad running on instinct and not a well oiled and well prepared machine.
Having said that, who wins a championship by winning a single game in February (or X-mas day for that matter)? Let’s not get carried away here guys, this is simply the second of back-to-back away games.
I hate to admit it, but the Celtics-Troll has a point that the Celts are a scrappy bunch, so we need not discount them this early in the season. Where we disagree, however, is that if I was a Celtic team I would be more worried about Cleveland and Orlando than the Lakers. But, to be fear, we should be a bit more concerned about the Spurs and Hornetts than the freaking Celtics.
Mike in the Mountain West says
Its misleading to say we’re the same team as last year plus Ariza. That’s only looking at personnel and not at how those players are performing.
A big part of our success last year was the strength of our bench, specifically Farmar, Vujacic, and Turiaf. This year Turiaf is gone, and both Farmar and Vujacic are not playing anywhere near they played last year.
Ariza is actually playing better than last year and helps to make up for the decline in production by Farmar and Vujacic, but if those two don’t pick it up I think this team is actually a little worse than last year’s team.
Mike in Mountain West,
If you’re looking at stats, then most of the team’s stats appear to be down individually. The stats do not tell the story. Farmar and Sasha have been very good as of late. We have more players producing, it adds up to more than last year. Don’t forget that Bynum and Ariza’s production are big reason why player’s numbers are down.
Craig W. says
McHouse & Brian,
Celts Nation has posted here before. He may not be a hater, but he is very close to that and just loves to simply ‘stir the water’ and see what happens. We have learned to simply ignore him. Any references seem to tweak his appitite/ego.
Craig W. says
Mike in Mountain West,
When we started the year with Bynum & Ariza everyone else’s roles changed. It takes younger players longer to adjust to new roles – Farmar, Sasha. Also, Powell is a different kind of player from Turiaf and that also takes adjustment. As the year went on Farmar was injured and Sasha improved, within the framework of the new roles.
The roles is the key. Last year Turiaf and Sasha had to play more minutes – at least until Farmar got hurt this year. I am hoping we will see Farmar continually improve and for Sasha to fit in. We don’t need for them to reproduce what they did last year, because we have Trevor to do much of their heavy lifting.
Powell will probably play more now and we will see how he compares with Turiaf last year. Of course we also have Mihm and that may reduce his role from what Turiaf had.
Anyway, we need to think of the system and roles within the system before evaluating this year’s team being stronger or weaker.
Adam T says
In other news – Jamal Nelson tore his labrum in his shoulder. It will eventually require surgery, but they are deciding whether or not to move forward with the surgery or rehab him and keep him for this season. It sounds most likely that he will have the surgery and miss the remainder of the season…What a rough time for injuries in the League…This is going to cause major conflict for a hot Magic squad
Adam T says
And i’d like to clarify – that’s JAMEER Nelson, not Jamal….one of those days
P. Ami says
One point that was not made to Celtic Nation, how exactly does referencing the improved play of your starters address criticism of a weak bench? Are you not planning on resting Allen or Rondo? Tell him his shoes look worn and he replies that his hat’s been brushed.
Beautifully put, Kurt. Last night was a joy to watch, and I think Kobe was letting the rest of the team flourish and blossom during this season, anyway. Now that the reins have been tightened, it will be a better measure of what these Lakers are made of (unless Kobe and Pau plan to carry the load by themselves for the duration of Bynum’s rehab). Anyway, great post.
Regarding Kobe driving into the paint more last year vs this year, that’s come up before.
I can’t find the link now, but as of 15-20 games ago? Someone did a chart and he was driving into the lane the same percentage as he was last year.
If I remember correctly, the gist was, shot attempts are down so it seems like he’s driving a lot less but percentage wise it’s the same.
I do wonder how much it’s changed if at all the last 15-20 games.
#12, that’s ridiculous. If Lakers had lost Kobe, instead of Bynum, we’d be just as bad as those teams. Why would you use the likes of Howard and LeBron (best players on their respective teams) to compare to Bynum, who is the third best player on the Lakers?
the other Stephen says
53. i think this is the same celts nation who probably came in here several months back stubbornly arguing that bynum would have had no impact on the outcome of the finals last season if he had played, and that bynum is supremely overrated. and now he’s saying that without him, we have no chance. these have loosely been the sentiments of countless celtics fans, yes? personally, i think big baby and tony allen are among the worst players in the league who play comparable minutes.
This is the first time I’ve been to this blog. I am currently in living in Phoenix surrounded daily by … Suns fans. Its tough, but as of late its been a lot nicer. I moved from LA & its hard to find someone who gets the Lakers. I read this blog & its funny. I refreshed espn.com about 5x every minute waiting for the results & as soon as they posted the headline it seemed as though the clouds did get darker and my 30 minute lunch hour here at the office just didnt matter. Kobe’s game last night was a beautiful performance (I loved Spike Lee’s description of him being an genius) & I feel at home with this blog. Just wanted to say thanks & post my first blog on FB&G and plan to read up on it every day!
Keep it up! Go Lakers
thanks for replying! i guess it’s still pretty early to be talking mvp [which didn’t stop lebron nation (i’ve gotten into the habit of calling things ______ nation now, usually as a negative)] but i’m glad you agree. as much as i am rooting for the best record in the league for noble, championship-winning purposes, i’ll be secretly rooting for a better record than the cavs, b/c i hope that tips the mvp scales to kobe’s favor the way it did last year vs. chris paul. hopefully i’m not inadvertently disrespecting dwight howard’s work so far but i have to believe it’s going to come down to lebron and kobe ultimately, barring the unforeseen.
also you just reminded me how amazing kobe is. in all the excitement over 61, i actually forgot that kobe nash just happened too. kobe is just the ultimate swiss army knife. he can be a nash-style mvp or play the more traditional mvp role, sometimes in the same game! the sheer breadth of his toolbox is in itself a valuable thing, and he has one emergency tool no other mvp candidate can offer: going totally bananas with the scoring. i find last night more impressive than the 81 game from an mvp perspective b/c of the timing and the intent, with morale so dangerously low. even if lebron drops 62 in msg tomorrow, it’s not the same kind of value that kobe just provided to his team, when considered in its full contextual totality. anyway i won’t argue it too much. still early, and still what i’m supposed to be secretly watching instead of sharing openly. but i know kurt has created an excellent community of cool heads here. =)
Totally agree with everyone who mentioned that:
A. a healthy Ariza makes a big difference
B. Boston’s bench is weaker than last year
Having Bynum made a title much more likely but his absence isn’t a deal breaker.
All I want, is for the Lakers to take one game at a time, for the bench mob to step it up.
Last year, I think one of the reasons we did so well during the February to playoff run was because of Pau’s acquisition. It just sparked everything, teams didn’t know how to play us, the Lakers themselves were rejuvenated by the trade and didn’t wallow in Drew’s injury.
But this time, it feels different. Like, there isn’t going to be a miracle trade to wake the team up.
All I ask is that Sasha, Jordie, Vlad, Luke, D-Fish, Josh, and Chris to realize what they have to do. I don’t really need to address Trevor since he’s always producing.
Obviously, Kobe exploding for 61 isn’t going to happen every night, imo, the best way the Lakers have a chance at winning is:
Every game, Kobe (20+ points), Pau (20 points+), LO (15+ points) all need to score in double figures with at least two role players coming off the bench to score in double figures as well.
Balance scoring, balance attack, is the only way we can make up Drew’s absence.
barry g says
gasol going through training camp and a full season w/ the team is also a huge part of why the lakers are doing so well this year. team chemistry is even stronger than last year (and it was pretty awesome last year), and i don’t think kobe and fish are gonna let anyone on the team put their heads down right now.
isn’t depth one of our huge advantages? now’s exactly the time to show the league just how strong our team is from top to bottom.
“Every game, Kobe (20+ points), Pau (20 points+), LO (15+ points) all need to score in double figures with at least two role players coming off the bench to score in double figures as well.”
Pretty sure that you are not quite right with this one… Last night, for instance. If you go down the roster, there are seven players besides the ones you mention that can easily score 20+ in a game.
But you are right, this time it does feel different. That’s because this year it’s not 2007-8. Expectations are different, certainly.
I think that our current team is markedly better than last year (yes, even without Bynum). One thing that you never hear from contra-Laker fans is LO’s contract situation. I expect LO to make a huge push for a new contract with Bynum out (don’t forget, Odom is only 29) , and, what’s that? That’s just what the Lakers need?
As we assess our situation, one thing comes to mind: Thank GOD we didn’t trade Odom.
Wait for the bench mob to step it up. We know they are capable, and Phil has spent the season learning the strengths and weaknesses of his players.
We are a very deep team; one player 86ed doesn’t spell curtains (Kobe is exempt).
The Dude Abides says
The difference between Andrew’s injury last season and his injury this year is that this year there is certainty regarding the specific nature of the injury. Last year, he subluxated his patella (momentary dislocation of the kneecap but then it popped back in). I’ve had the same type of injury two or three times, and each time I was back at full strength after one month. However, Andrew’s subluxation was so violent that he also suffered a severe bone bruise, an injury that can take a long time to heal. I once bruised a bone in my foot, and I wasn’t back on the court until two months later.
So, the uncertainty regarding the bone bruise was one factor last year regarding whether or not to have surgery. When it got to mid-May (four months post-injury), and he couldn’t make that final step in rehab, they decided to have his NY doctor take a look. He recommended surgery, and one of the important actions he took in surgery was to smooth the edge of the kneecap, which apparently was rendered a little bit jagged from the subluxation.
In contrast, the partial tear of the MCL is a much more common injury with a straightforward and certain rehab process. No surgery necessary, just strengthening the muscles around Andrew’s knee and increasing the range of motion. I would not be surprised to see him in a game by April 1st.
Listen to the Dude. And to what Andrew said last night during the telecast when John Ireland interviewed him, when he said that his doctor said that based on reviewing the footage of the play, the injury that he actually suffered was the best possible outcome of that collision.
An MCL injury is, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively minor knee injury in terms of treatment and post-rehabilitation success. Drew should heal up just fine, and should be back within the specified time frame.
you have to listen to luke’s interview. aha
78. David, welcome.
Good/great post about the right thing at just the right time like you always do. Well, I guess I better get used to this from here on out, I read 60 comments and hit refresh and then there are another 30 to go until I get here and this is a slow day. It’s OK, I enjoy what I read here by the posters and Kurt, FB&G is still a quality blog in the cyber universe. What the ‘fangirl’ said in the last thread is kinda how it is about people and Kobe. We need to remember that Bynum just started playing very good recently, if you had him on a fantasy team, you understand where I am coming from (whatever barameter that is?). I am not saying that we do not need him but our chances of a championship just have not changed in my mind. Thanks for putting the commenter’s name at the top of the comment in your site re-vamp, I will leave it at that.
Be thankful for what you have.
I didn’t literally mean that the breakdown of scoring had to be EXACTLY like that, but what I meant was that in order for the Lakers to be successful with Drew out, the rest of the team has to pick up the scoring load and not rely Kobe and Pau to go supernova.
Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers play against Toronto.
Here’s my post from the previous thread–accepting and embracing the current Laker realities.
Notice that it is more than two sentences long, explores possibilities, and reflects an “enjoy the journey” approach to the Laker’s prospects.
It may be fun to discuss “toughness,” comparisons to last year’s teams, MVP, etc., but some of the immediate consequences of a Bynum injury to the next two games of this road trip might be more interesting.
The rest of the games this season and the playoffs are way outside the scope of your personal Oiji Board.
The gloom and doom in Lakerdom surrounding Andrew’s injury is premature and misplaced–just as it was last year.
Rather than a disaster, we may come to see Andrew’s injury as an unfortunate detour. This event may even have increased the prospects of a Laker championship this year. At the very least, it might be an opportunity to appreciate the Laker team and organization in a deeper way.
The race for “best record” is far from over, even considering the many road games and the loss of Andrew for the Lakers. Injuries and matchups are issues both in the Western and the Eastern Conference. The Lakers have an advantage in that it is easier to win in the West. In addition, the Lakers only need to face Boston, Orlando, and Cleveland twice (they’re 2-2 so far); the Eastern Conference leaders must face each other 4 times.
We must consider that all teams have injuries–not just the Lakers. The Leprechaun swoon coincided with shoulder injuries to Perkins. Cleveland is without their center. Orlando just lost Jameer Nelson.
The key concept we must appreciate with the Lakers is “redundancy”–the team has selected, developed and financially supported unusual depth: more outstanding players than available playing time. Compared to last year, Lamar has been playing reduced minutes, Luke and Vladimir have been playing reduced minutes. Mihm virtually none, and Mbenga has been rarely even able to suit up. Turiaff has been replaced by Powell, who has gone from a starter with the Clippers to spectator with the Lakers.
The price of diminished minutes is rusty performance. With injuries, though, redundancy can reveal a different team that actually outperforms the “healthy” team as forgotten players with renewed playing time take on new roles.
The clearest example of this last year was the Houston Rockets, who went on a long WINNING streak after they lost Yao Ming for the season. This year, with a healthy Yao, the Rockets seem unable to recapture that chemistry with apparently much better players.
The Lakers were similar to last year’s Rockets–but they found their redundant player through a trade for Pau Gasol. Unlike the Rockets, however, the Lakers were able to reestablish chemistry with the return of Andrew (and Trevor).
With the loss of Andrew for much of the remaining season (at least), the Lakers will become a different team. Scouting plans by opponents will have to be rethought. How different and in what way remains to be seen.
If the Lakers “stand pat,” they are likely to use Lamar at the power forward and Pau at Center. Presumably, Mihm could back up Pau, and Powell could back up Lamar.
The Lakers might look for another “big.”
I’m not aware of any veteran “bigs” available as free agents, but I could imagine several potentially available in trade that could step right in. The most interesting (to me) would be Marc Gasol, with the Grizz. Given the Grizz season record, they may be looking for salary dumps. If Marc came to the Lakers, brother Pau might be available to remain at power forward under more circumstances. I don’t think anyone thinks Marc is “soft.”
This new/old Laker team might not be as offensive without Drew, so they might have to do better switching and better transition defense. We got a glimpse of that when the Laker D (with Chris Mihm and no Bynum) only gave up 38 points in the second half.
Whatever happens–the journey just got more interesting.
Note concerning a trade: don’t think that the Lakers aren’t exploring possibilities. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.
Celts Nation – I agree that Ray was way off in the PO, but he did peak against the Lakers. If he had peaked earlier, I think Boston would not have taken 7 games to beat Atlanta at least, but he really hasn’t improved from LA’s point of view.
And I like to reiterate – selfish or not, the ultimate sacrifice is doing whatever you think is best for the team to win. Whether that’s now or later is another question to ponder, but if the goal is to win each and every game, you do what works best.
If Kobe is shooting 60% and Gasol is shooting 60% while other teammates are shooting 30% or less, you let Kobe and Gasol shoot, unless there is a very clear opportunity for your teammate to make a particular shot.
It’s easy for Kobe to dish the rock to Lamar at the 3 and pretend selflessness; the higher road is to know that Lamar probably won’t make that 3 and taking the shot himself, knowing all too well that he’ll be critized for not passing.
#38 – Great post, P. Ami.
Just one thing, though – Ray Allen also made the conference finals with the Bucks in 2001. That makes all of their big 3 being on that stage at some point in their respective careers. The experience was there; the question was simply one of cohesion.
90) Agree – the Lakers starters w/o Andrew will be quicker, so their transition defense should be better. Probably no dropoff in rebounding; and they can probably make up what Andrew prvoided on offense by a combination of Odom and a little more from Kobe and Gasol. They will be worse in half-court defense. Powell and Mihm should be able to come close to what Lamar provided off the bench.
So overall, I think that there will only be a slight dropoff, after a few games to work out the new rotations and get some of the rust off.
P. Ami says
I have to admit I am getting a bit excited to see what Mihm has left in him. There was an interesting combination of chippy and skilled in his game. With some of the above posts I’m starting to warm to the prospects of how the team might grow from this.
Thanks for the comments on my post. It felt good when I made contact on that one.
Kurt, you wrote previously:
“3. I recently wrote a post arguing that Lebron James should be the MVP this year. Do you think I am right with my assessment? If not, who do you think should take it home?
This will piss off some of my readers, but I’m with you. LeBron is the MVP this year. He has been the best player in the league, his defense has improved, he can take over games and get teammates involved depending on what is needed. Kobe has a better team around him, he doesn’t have to do what LeBron does right now, but how LeBron is doing it is amazing.”
Hmm… after last night’s performance… does this still stand?
Personally, my speculation is this: nothing.
Nothing, that is, until we finish the road trip in Cleveland and Boston. There are no truer tests to the Lakers’ chances before the playoffs, in my opinion. Though unlikely, I’m hoping the Lakers somehow sweep the road trip and show everybody what we’re made of.
Until then, speculation is meaningless. If Lakers win or lose against Cleveland and Boston, new speculations will arise. If we win, everyone will proclaim that Bynum’s injury isn’t nearly as vital to the team’s success. If we lose, the Lakers’ play will be nitpicked apart.
Etan Thomas basically had the same injury. It will be interesting to see how he comes back from it.
Anyone else think that play #6 here looks really familiar?
I guess the stealing wasn’t one-way (see: Bryant and Paul) in Beijing.
Adam T says
m0nkey – I agree with you about the media, how we will not be congratulated for success, yet scolded for losing..blah blah, but…
I do not agree that these games against Boston and Cleveland will bear foreshadowing for June. Sure, mental edges will be gained, but outcomes won’t be decided. I have faith that Drew will be back in the playoffs, maybe late 2nd round. I think that’s what would make me comfortable…
Get him back in time to crush our second round opponent, and get him most likely ready for San Antonio, or perhaps New Orleans…..that may very well be our ideal situation – and most realistic.
Adam T says
Simon – I think I’ve seen that Play #6 from somewhere before, haha gotta love the constant evolution of the game.
Is it just me or does King Crab Legs use his patented dribble on all of those plays?
juan de la cruz says
im starting to feel that truehoop is a bit anti-laker.maybe thats just me though.
I just wanted to say to everyone who thinks the lakers cannot beat the Celtics without Andrew Bynum, that you are wrong. We all know this laker team is pretty much the same team we took to the finals last year, minus turiaf, but we do have ariza back which should help greatly. Besides that, the celtics aren’t the same team as they were last year. Rondo may be better but he doesn’t solve their size problems. All it takes for the lakers to win is for Kobe to dribble penetrate and get bostons bigs in foul trouble. Behind Perkins and Garnett are two undersized center/forward players in leon powe and glen davis. I know you all feel like powe killed us last year in the finals and he did, but I think after a whole year of watching tapes of how they were outhustled by the undersized big man, the lakers, namely odom and gasol will put up more of a fight. People don’t realize this, but teams with great length can easily beat the celtics. Their lack of depth and length at the forward/center positions hurts the celtics greatly.
[edited for trade speculation]
new post up
ahh sorry about the trade speculatoin. I’m new to this.