Remember, join us here at 1 pm Pacific today for a live chat with myself and Jeremy from Roundball Mining Company.
You had to like that win. It was a gutty win when the Lakers were outplayed most of the night. When they were out shot. You had to love that after a night where they struggled Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher made the plays at the end. You have to love Kobe Bryant. The Lakers were tough — as they have been for a while but still don’t get credit for.
Sure, there were a lot of things I didn’t like. I didn’t like that when the Nuggets were aggressive with cutting off easy post entry passes the Lakers didn’t counter (late moves across the lane, cross picks). I didn’t like that early when Gasol and Bynum did run the floor and get early position they were not rewarded with the ball. I did not like Spike Lee cheering on the Lakers. I did not like how much the Lakers ran the pick and roll instead of their standard offensive sets.
But it’s a win. And we can get into more detail of the likes and dislikes in this breakdown of the end of the game. We join the action with 3:20 left, after Phil had called a timeout to remind everyone that Melo just scored, again, and maybe they should try to stop him (it worked, he didn’t score again).
3:20, 96-92 Nuggets: The Lakers get the ball to Kobe who dribbles across the top of the key to his right and since Nene is the closest defender five feet off him Kobe rises up and buries the 21 footer. Not a sequence Denver will remember fondly, no real pick and nobody on Kobe? That can’t be the defensive game plan.
3:12, 96-94 Nuggets: Billups spends the first 10 seconds of the clock directing traffic, then from five feet beyond the three point line goes away from the high pick. Odom switches nicely and follows him in, forcing Billups to go deep under the basket then pass baseline to Nene who drives into the middle of the lane and tries a little runner that Pau Gasol blocks.
Gasol is taking heat in some quarters for his performance, but: 1) the Lakers did a poor job of getting him the ball in good position (credit to the aggressive Nuggets defense here as well); 2) He made the plays when it mattered. He played like a veteran.
Back to the game. Kobe starts the run-out off Gasol’s block and outlet, but Denver gets back, then traps him, so he does a little jump pass to Ariza. Then the Lakers putz around with the ball for a few seconds, I’m not sure what else to call it, before Bryant decides to not wait for the screen and just take his man off the dribble. He was able to do that in this game, something that did not happen last series. Denver lets him go right (Battier was great at forcing him left) and by the time he gets to the elbow three Nuggets are there to greet him, Kobe passes to Fisher all alone in the corner, so alone that he can set his feet (and, frankly, run out to the concession stand, buy a water and get back) and he buries the three. Staples erupts.
2:29, 97-96 Lakers: Billups brings it up again, and again 10 seconds are off the shot clock by the time they start to run their half-court set. With all those athletes shouldn’t they push the ball more? Anyway Billups can’t find a post pass to Melo he likes so he picks up his dribble and gets hounded by Kobe. But now Melo realized hc can’t get the ball as deep as he’s like so he gives up position for possession. Kobe comes off the Billups to double in the post, but Melo had turned his back to him, faced up and wants to drive. Gasol anticipates, gets over and draws the charge. Another good defensive set from Gasol late.
Now Fisher brings it up for LA and early in the clock he and Kobe cross and Fisher hands the ball to Bryant who drives left this time, pulls up at the left elbow, then feeds Gasol with a pretty bounce pass. That was a good entry past to the post by the Lakers, you can count those on one hand in that game by the Lakers.
Gasol does what Lakers fans had wanted him to do and backs K-Mart down into the paint and while he doesn’t make the shot he draws the foul. We need to see more of this next game. The problem is he misses both free throws.
1:53, 97-96 Lakers: Billups has gone into attack mode. He pushes the ball up but sees nothing, still he starts probing early. Nene comes out and sets the screen, but when Billups tries to use it Gasol shows out well and takes away the move. So Billups shoots the contested three with Gasol right there. Nothing but net. Credit Billups for playing some of his best basketball in years.
1:38, 99-97 Nuggets. The ball eventually works to Kobe in the right corner, but he has no shot, instead he dribbles out using a pick set by Gasol but still there is nothing there so it is out to Fisher with the ball and an reset. But that doesn’t reset the shot clock so Fisher tries to draw the foul with an ugly looking three that misses badly.
Fortunately Gasol is there for the offensive board. Those were absolutely the key to the game — the Lakers had 17 offensive rebounds and 22 second chance points, That kept tem in it despite the Lakers bad shooting night and not getting to the line. It got them the win. Gasol got fouled and made his free throws.
99-99, 1:13 left: Again Billups is looking and probing, and doing so with a sense of urgency, eventually he goes around a high pick from the Birdman, and both Laker defenders focus on Chauncey. Birdman does a little delayed roll to the hoop and gets the pass as he cuts. Odom rotates over early and is a statue with its arms up that Birdman has to drive into and shoot over, and he misses. Letting Birdman shoot anything but a putback dunk is good for the Lakers.
In the ensuing scramble there is a jump ball called between Birdman and Odom. Birdman wins the tip but tries to send it up near the basket, a play no other Nuggets seemed to be in on, so Gasol grabs it.
Kobe has the ball on the Lakers end and he is probing, He gets a high screen from Gasol but noting is there. The Lakers ran entirely too much pick and roll in this game – because of their athletic and quick bigs Denver defends this very well, their can show out and recover. I’d like to see more just straight triangle run against Denver.
Eventually Kobe goes isolation and drives right and pulls up for the 17-footer that misses but Pau is underneath fighting for the offensive board and while he doesn’t get it he forces Billups to tap it out of bounds, it remains Lakers ball. Timeout to set up a play, not to mention see another commercial from that amazingly unfunny Mikes Hard Lemonade campaign.
The Lakers inbound to Kobe who again starts to drive sweeping to his right across the top of the key, but this time K-Mart joins to double Kobe, then makes an amazingly foolish reach-in foul. Just a terrible foul — not only is Denver is in the penalty (and Kobe goes to the line and sinks two) but you essentially give the Lakers the two-for-one they wanted. We said before the game that keeping the Lakers off the line was key, and the Nuggets did a good job of that most of the night. But this was a big exception.
:30, 101-99 Lakers. Out of a timeout Anthony Carter is inbounding the ball at halfcourt, and as Phil has done all year he puts the very tall Odom on the inbounder. On the far side away from the ball, Billups sets a screen then surprises Ariza by racing straight out high rather than running underneath the basket and into the corner (clearly the corner is the preferred spot because Ariza played him to go there, then on the next inbounds play, the one where Billups hits the three after stepping out of bounds, he did go to the corner to get the ball).
As soon as Billups bolts toward halfcourt Ariza just starts to sprint to recover. But from Anthony Carter’s perspective Billups both looks wide open and he has to get the ball over Odom, so he lofts it. Ariza never quits and gets the steal. Another Laker with a bad game who made a big play late.
Also, credit Ariza and the Lakers here for not just taking the breakaway dunk, but pulling up and running time off the clock. It was the smart play. As was getting the ball to Kobe and letting him iso Anthony Carter. Kobe is fouled, hits the free throws and the rest is history.
It will be interesting to see how this Denver team responds. Some teams will lost a game they feel they should have won and just pack it in the next game until they get back home. Others will think this validates they can win, just with some smarter plays. I know how Billups will respond, but will his teammates follow?
Because the Lakers certainly can play better.
If Kobe says he won’t get another technical foul, I believe him.
Last year during the regular season he had 15 TF and he never got that 16th.
I don’t understand why people are making a big deal out of his TFs. Kobe knows what he’s got to do.
Simmons RIPPING on the Lakers on his chat – nothing new.
Gasol, Odom, Ariza and Fisher all made big plays down the stretch, which was good to see because they all had subpar games. I would be highly surprised if Pau has another game like that on. Martin is physical, which can sometimes effect Gasol’s game but I do not think he can guard him (assuming the Lakers get him the ball where he can score). Nene can do a better job because he is bigger but ha will have to stay out of foul trouble.
It will be interesting to see what adjustments are made. Denver has no answer for Kobe so I think they will just have to live with him scoring 30+ a game. But they have to do something about cleaning up the defensive glass. I think this will be a huge advantage for the Lakers all series long. Denver is not a good defensive rebounding team while the Lakers are a great offensive rebounding team. The Lakers will try to find a way to get the ball into Gasol and Bynum (who I thought played decent until he got in foul trouble) in the post.
Having Anthony Carter out there in the 4th quarter was an awful move. Not only is he an offensive liability (bricked a wide open jumpshot late in the 4th with everyone deliberately leaving him uncovered), but on defense he thinks he’s a Kobe-stopper despite giving up more than a few inches in height. That foul Kobe drew on the turnaround where AC could only catch his forearm on the contest was awesome.
This was the best Laker game I have ever attended – by far.
Anyway, can someone explain to me two things:
1) Why is Sasha on the floor when Brown is more effectively defensively and offensively?
2) Why don’t we throw Lamar at Melo more?
j.d. Hastings says
I thought the last second foul on JR Smith was brilliant. As the announcers were saying PJ is reluctant to do that, but with Smith having to bring the ball so far from the basket, fouling him made great sense. Especially since refs have shown this post season that they aren’t likely to give continuation to people turning around and chucking a supposed 3 up as soon as they know they know the foul is coming.
So maybe it was more obvious than brilliant, but it was one more way that PJ won the coaching battle in the final minute (Carter trying to inbound over Odom?). In the post game interviews Billups and Anthony seemed to take the game in stride but Karl was despondent and one of the few things he could bring himself to say was that he wished AC had called a timeout. I’m hoping that bodes well for LA. When a coach starts finger-pointing, that usually isn’t a good sign.
Gr8 Scott says
Bill Simmons is coming to grips with the fact that his Celtics had their one year of glory and now will be a solid contender, but nothing more. I take all of his comments with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, his team is at home and we are still playing.
I hope our guys get plenty of rest…
kwame a. says
Ryan- I agree. If Bynum can stay out of foul trouble, I can see him scoring 15 ppg this series. He can get his shot off against Martin whenever he wants. Nene defended Gasol differntly than Hayes did. Where Hayes was solely focused on pushing Pau off the block, Nene extends his defense against Pau all the way out to the 3pt line. He was guarding Pau very closely. Pau should be able to take him off the dribble and keep Nene in foul trouble.
Coffee is For Closers says
I think I’d like to see Luke get more of a chance on Melo if Ariza continues to have trouble. Luke really came in and settled the team in the first half when they needed it most.
I like simmons, but he sounds very o.t.r. on his chat today. he’s blaming officiating? really??? agree, like everyone, with our prejudices must be taken with a grain of salt.
and thank god kenyon martin is still a bonehead.
re: kenyon martin – not only did that swipe on kobe cost his team, but he also cost the team with consecutive obvious fouls on Pau. I’m particularly thinking of the blatant shove with both forearms when Pau was posting him late
By now, I think it’s wisest to tune out the critics.
It’s playoff basketball, enjoy the Lakers, no matter how much they infuriate you at times, and just enjoy the ride and tune out the haters.
As long as we the fans can appreciate the Lakers, that’s all that matters.
Yesterday was a good day.
My UC Irvine Anteaters Baseball team gutted out a win in the 10th inning 5-4 over UCLA.
The Angels gutted out a win against the Mariners 6-5
The Lakers gutted out a win over the Nuggets 105-103.
Damn good day.
Of course Bill Simmons is going to complain about officiating. He’s from Boston; all they do is whine.
It looks to me that we start the game with that play that Ariza ends up the left side of the court beyond the arc for the 3pt shot. Is this planned or it just happens? I say this because we dont come out and run our offense, that gets us in a deep hole sometimes. If we come out on the first posession and pound the ball in i think we’d fare much better…so says Captain Obvious 🙂
Joe A. says
Not sure if this kind of analysis is interesting or not- might be old news around these parts, but anyways:
Kobe Bryant in the Houston series:
27.2pts, 23 FGA, 45% FG%, 6 ft. per game.
Game 1 vs. Denver:
40 pts., 28 FGA, 46% FG%, 12 free throws.
The only real difference between last night’s game and the Houston series statistically was that Kobe took more shot attempts, and got to the foul line more. If we take away the clock-stopping free throws at the end of the game, Kobe really didn’t do much different than he did on average against Houston.
The big difference to me though was that he was working much harder on D. I thought he had a bad series defensively against Houston- sagging off his man too much, but not getting much out of it.
I think Denver’s lack of Kobe’ D doesn’t necessarily mean that Kobe will have much better offensive games- it means that he’ll have a lot more energy to devote to the D’side because he isn’t working as hard on offense.
It’s true that more often than not he’s going to get his on the O-side- it’s just a question of how hard are you going to make him work for it.
Joe A. says
Some of my other banal thoughts so far. I’d be interested to see where people disagree with me, but otherwise feel free to ignore:
-The Nuggets go for a lot of blocked shots- and it puts them out of position to rebound- so they give up a lot of offensive rebounds. I think this will make a big difference in this series. Gasol will have trouble scoring straight-up against Denver’s physicality, but he won’t have trouble scoring off of easy putbacks.
-When they show those iso-camera replays on Kobe- he is incredibly chippy, and is initiating a good percentage of the contact in the post. I don’t think he or Laker fans have much ground to complain when he doesn’t get foul calls in that situation. One of those times he traveled badly and wasn’t called. Plus he gets plenty of touch calls on his pull up jumpers to even it out.
(Overall though- I think the refs were definitely giving the Nugs a lot of “‘physical team benefit of the doubt”)
-The Nuggets aren’t going to win many games if Billups and Smth both shoot bad. Combined 7-20.
I don’t trust their bigs to score unless it’s a dunk.
-Lamar Odom is so hot and cold it’s incredible. If he didn’t do his dissapearing act every other game and consistently played to his potential- the Lakers would be unstoppable.
-Ariza makes big defensive plays- put I think he’s overated as a lockdown perimeter defender . He’s about average in staying in front of people. (Some of this is funneling to the bigs- but when the Lakers don’t rotate- it causes big problems. See the first quarter of last night’s game.)
Adam Schenker says
A few thoughts – Gasol had a number of good defensive possessions late which was encouraging to see, and our bigs did a solid job rebounding after the up-and-down job they did against Houston’s frontcourt
Luke came in midway(?) through the fourth just after Ariza got his fourth foul. So-so defensively, but he had one memorable play where he had an entirely uncontested 12-13 foot jumper near the right baseline, but passed up the shot and hit a streaking Gasol for an emphatic dunk. Terrific read and pass by Walton.
Shannon Brown shows a lot of grit and I’m almost more comfortable with him taking a 3 than Sasha at this point. A long as he limits his turnovers, he’s earning extra minutes.
Joe A – I’d have to agree with you about Ariza. He’s great on smaller quicker players where can he give more of a cushion to avoid getting beat while using his length to contest the shot, but on guys his own size he gets crossed up an awful lot. His value on defensive is reading and anticipating the passing lanes more than locking down individually.
Mark Sigal says
One great thing about last night is that it is EXACTLY the type of game they were money to win this year; namely, games that are super close that come down to who executes in the final 2-4 minutes.
That gives me a lot of hope for the rest of the series (as far as Lakers mental focus/resiliency down the stretch).
j.d. Hastings says
re: Simmons. I love my Grandmother, but know better than to talk politics with her. I enjoy much of Simmons’s work, but know to expect him to gloat at every Laker slight he can conceivably throw at us. You don’t have to look at what he says. It doesn’t affect the actual games at all.
And if the Lakers do overcome the odds to take the title, the schadenfreude will be just a little sweeter. And if they don’t, well whatever. Nobody hates the warriors because they’ve never been good enough to inspire such feelings.
kwame a. says
Sasha didn’t have a good game offensivley, but I think the coaching staff was happy with his D on JR. Sasha has still contributed this postseason by eliminating Korver and Wafer, if he help keep JR under 10pts a game, it’s a win for us, any 3 balls are just gravy.
Why doesn’t Phil just let Bynum foul out? He was effective last night, even when he was fouling.
It has to mess with his head–right now 3 fouls effectively fouls Bynum out, as Phil pulls him and sits him the remainder of the game. If he does come back in the game, he’s out of synch and might as well stay on the bench. Should it suprise anyone the way Drew pouts and moans anytime a foul is called?!
Let Drew know that he doesn’t need to worry about fouls and play him like you would until he fouls out. I’m not worried playing in the penalty until the end of the game anyway. Let him play to six fouls and find his way back into his offensive and defensive rhythm.
Ironically, I think Bynum’s concern with fouling is only leading to the type of tentative play that leads to more fouls!
kwame a. says
PS- Why do so many folks get mad at the Simmons of the world. The goal of articles or “tweets” or posts that blindly hate on the Lakers is to rile up Laker fans into checking out the post, commenting on it and driving traffic for the haters site. Like PeanutButter said, enjoy this run. Find something you’d rather read than help Billy Simmons.
19. I can’t talk politics with any of my relatives.
Also, good luck Nuggs in finding four games in this series where you both play better than last night (Melo 14-20, 4-5 from 3; twice as many freethrows as LA) AND find the Lakers playing worse (not likely, but possible given the recent weeks’ history). It will necessarily require that combination (and maybe a little home court cooking) to top last night’s outcome.
It will be very interesting to see the Nuggs confidence level Thursday.
I don’t buy that Kenyon Martin is physical. Naturally anyway. But there’s a book out on Pau. Play him physical and he’ll get timid. Martin is going to do that.
Pau kept coming high and receiving the ball in the pinch post and looking to pass. That is not where he should get it. He needs to keep his but down low, and use his repertoire. He can and should get Denver’s bigs in foul trouble. As Kurt mentioned in his chat, all Pau needs to do is pump fake, and Denver’s bigs will bite because they want to block everything.
i don’t want the Lakers relying on Kobe to win games. We need Pau to make our offense efficient.
Exactly kwame a.
Nothing the critics or the haters say can take away the win from the Lakers.
Joe A. says
Other than Melo obviously, (and maybe K-mart- at least as far as making shots) I didn’t think the Nugs played that great. Their bench got badly outscored by the Laker bench, and Billups shot poorly.
The first quarter they looked good, but that all broke down after that.
The Nuggets will probably get more free throws every game- they averaged almost ten more per game than the Lakers over the regular season. (30.3-19.5)
There’s a lot of ‘if’s’ for both teams every night. If all the ifs pan-out, the Lakers probably win. Otherwise, it’s game by game IMO.
I saw a lot of this same kind of thinking in the Houston series too, and the Rockets still managed to take it to 7.
kwame a. says
Wondahbap- I thought Nene spent more time on Pau than Martin did. It seemed like Martin guarded Bynum and Odom for most of the game.
Regardless, your point is 100% correct. Pau has to give us the consistent production he gave us all year-long. Nene has quick feet, but Pau has to find a way to score. If he can rediscover that 15 footer it will open everything up for him again.
Bill Simmons has some deep rooted issues with Lakers and Kobe and I do not ever see him giving credit to them. Even if Lakers win the championship, he is bound to come up with something new.
My suggestion – if you do not like this stop reading his columns. Why read something which is not giving you any pleasure or any new insight. I am telling you, if enough of you stop reading his columns, he will have to rethink what he writes.
I have been reading Kurt’s blog for a while now, rarely post here. But I have seen the number of posters grow exponentially here over the last 2 years. It is just a tribute to his writing. From what I have read I have never seen Kurt’s posts to be biased because of his personal opinion. Which is why a lot of people like reading his stuff.
Simmons did seem pretty salty throughout that chat. I don’t know what he’s going to do to himself if the Lakers win the title.
I think Kurt touched on part of the problem: the Lakers didn’t really do anything to counter Denver’s tactics in denying him the ball. From what I remember, Gasol just stayed on the same side of the court while the guards tried in vain to lob the ball over Nene or Martin. They need to move him around a bit and make it harder for the Nuggets’ bigs to play him that way.
Kwame a. matches what I saw, the Nuggets went with Nene a lot to slow Pau when they could. Bynum, ideally, but Odom also need to make the Nuggets and K-Mart pay for that strategy.
And if Bill Simmons really said that officiating favored the Lakers yesterday, he’s delusional. Even Nuggets posters including some on this very site agree that Denver had the advantage yesterday with respect to officiating.
Kwame & Kurt,
You’re both right. it was Nene Hilario on Pau most of the time, but you can substitute LO in my comment.
Gasol and Bynum: I was listening to the first quarter on my drive home, and realized about 5 minutes into the game that I hadn’t heard either of their names yet. Why did the first three plays go through Ariza? Were we trying to get Melo tired/in foul trouble from having to play D? If so, that didnt work too well.
I still say the game plan early should be to pound it down low. Gasol is an All-NBA All-Star talent this year. And we didn’t use him. If we can get Nene/Martin/Anderson in early foul trouble, the Nuggets have nowhere else to go, and will have to play less aggressive D (less aggressive than actively holding Laker players in full body hugs, man there was some rough stuff last night).
Regarding fouls and refs: they let last night get out of hand and should have called a tighter game both ways. Regarding Kobe, I wonder if the refs think “well you got a T rescinded by the Office, but dont expect to get another call from one of us anytime soon.” Or if they just called nothing both ways.
A random observation: Sasha, similarly to Tyrus Thomas or Josh Smith (as strange as that sounds), always seems to have a great offensive possession immediately after a great defensive contribution. Whereas Thomas or Smith often finish a “block on defense-trailer on the ensuing break-alley-oop” sequence, with Sasha it was a good challenge on Nuggets a jumper, tapping the ball back in and then hitting a three on the other end (if I remember correctly). Like a burst of energy or confidence gained from the contribution on defense. Reminded me of getting a gold star on Super Mario and being energized for a certain period of time.
Also, I love Kobe defending more on the ball than off the ball. He does expend quite some energy that way, but he seemed to handle it just fine. Playing on the ball or covering the first option (Melo), he doesn’t overhelp or sag off to much on the weak side and leave solid shooters (Battier, or possibly JR Smith in this series) open. His reputation also helps in not getting too many foul calls despite towing the line as far as physical contact goes.
Chris J says
Simmons and Doc Rivers need to go soak in a hot tub together and console one another about the big, bad evil conspiracy that doomed Boston this year.
Doc’s rant about injuries yesterday was just comical. Yes, they lost a key starter and great reserve — yet no one in Boston was willing to acknowledge that same advantage last year when Bynum and Ariza missed all/most of the playoffs. And last we checked, Orlando had an All-Star out for that last series too.
As for Monday…
Totally agree with Coffee… Aside for some big plays at the end, Ariza had a bad night. Credit to him for fighting through it and making a couple of big plays late, but Luke’s minutes against Melo will be key to this series. He totally stabilized that second unit group that made a nice run to get L.A. back in the game in the second quarter.
— Also agree with those who’ve said the guards need to involve Pau and Bynum more. They had good position a lot last night but would go possession after possession without getting the ball. Hopefully that changes.
— As block happy as the Nuggets are, could we please see some headfakes to get their bigs into foul trouble?
There was one play last night when Andersen was just flying out at Farmar on the three-point line. Had Jordan simply jumped up and let him run into him, easy foul. (Instead, he stepped left and took an uncontested jumper. A good shot, but the foul opportunity was there.)
One or two fakes per quarter and the Nuggets’ bigs will all be in foul trouble.
— Not to cry bias one way or the other, but the refs really do suck anymore.
They already gave the Nuggets a win against Dallas with that blown non-call when Melo hit the three. Last night, they almost threw the outcome again when Billups clearly stepped out of bounds in front of two refs, yet neither called it and his late three from the corner counted.
I can’t wait until they blow a Finals game over a bad call. That’ll do wonders for the league’s reputation.
(Cue Dallas fans saying the refs have already cost a team the Finals…)
— Lastly, Monday was one of those nights to appreciate how great Kobe is. He’s so good night in and out we can take him for granted. Last night, his value was proven yet again.
kwame a. says
Wondahbap- I agree. Our best offensive mismatch when our starters are in is probably Bynum against Martin. We should go to Drew a lot to start Game 2.
Coffee is For Closers says
Its funny, both Simmons and Abbott wrote pieces this year about how they think they analyze kobe and the lakers without bias. I had an email back and forth with Henry for an entire day about it. My point to Henry was that everyone comes to the table with prejudices and bias, and to refuse to acknowldege any existence of it whatsoever was naive. At the end of the day, as a laker fan, you should be able to hear anyone’s criticisim of your team, analyze it, and take it for what its worth. i do get a little bit annoyed with simmons persistent complaint that the officiating is slanted to favor the lakers because i think it furthers a myth in the general public’s mind.
While I agree that the refs certainly seemed to be against us yesterday, if a team is good enough to be in the conference finals they shouldn’t need the refs’ help to win. As we proved last night. 🙂
I’ve always liked Bill Simmons except when he is talking about:
1) The Lakers.
2) The Celtics.
On any other subject, I find him relatively insightful. Heck, his Manny stuff since the suspension pretty much admits that in his mind, yes, this does cast some doubt on the two recent Red Sox WS championships. I have many Red Sox fans in my Friends and Family circle, and I find that most of them refuse to even consider that possibilty.
Coffee is For Closers says
Any word on JR Smith? If he’s out for any extended period in this series, that really hurts Denver. I hope he’s ok. I’d rather see the lakers beat them at full strength.
Mavis Beacon says
We need an adjustment or two defensively. Melo was absolutely fantastic and the Lakers need to find a way to make him less so. He had it all on display, the shooting touch, the driving skills, and the beastly strength. He’s a handful and clearly nobody can manage him one on one so we’ll have to hope the staff has a better strategy for containment in the 2nd game. Otherwise, I smell trouble.
Coffee is for Closers –
The officiating myth of which you speak is firmly ingrained in the minds of many, many NBA fans. Not just the rabid homers, and not just the Laker hater types.
As to this myth and the Lakers, I think the high points occurred with the Showtime Lakers and with the Shaq/Kobe years. For the latter, see Game 6 against the Kings.
I’ll be honest – it’s hard not thinking that there’s some kind of conspiracy going on when (1) the reffing is inconsistent and poor, and (2) the [insert team you don’t want to win] win more than they lose.
I suspect that the problem lies in the subjectivity of many foul calls – how much contact is too much, was that a block or a charge, etc. – combined with the gross disparity in talent between some of the players. I don’t think you could plausibly argue that Kobe has not been the beneficiary of many star calls during his career. So did Jordan. So did Shaq. So did lots of players who were that much better than the competition. It’s not their fault, and 98% of me doesn’t believe that there is any insidious agenda at work.
But when you’re a Minnesota Timberwolves fan, and you watch season after season of incompetence, and you watch your best player win a championship immediately after he’s unloaded, it’s hard not giving into that 2% once in a while.
I didn’t see last night’s game, and didn’t see any of the calls that Simmons is going crazy over. But if Denver is latching onto the idea that the refs gave the game to the Lakers, then they should just give up. Totally winnable game – and the Lakers deserve credit for even having the stamina to put up so many points after a brutal series with Houston.
I think we took Melo’s best punch and still got out of their with a win. I am still a little weary of their bench and chauncey, but i think if pau steps it up (BIG IF) and kobe plays like kobe, this is over in 5
To those saying “if you don’t like Simmons, don’t read him,” I reply with, “if I only could.”
Bill Simmons is one of the most widely-read sportswriters on the planet, for reasons that completely, COMPLETELY escape me. I read his nonsense not because I enjoy it, but because I prefer to be aware of the general discourse around sports.
Simmons in particular is an unfortunate necessity because of his wide influence over internet sports media, which leads to the inclusion of many of his memes in writing other than his own.
So, to those who are Simmons fans that say “if you don’t like his writing” (and I really, REALLY don’t – it’s been terrible for the better part of a decade and it confuses me greatly why anybody would continue to defend it), just don’t read it. Great idea. Others don’t share my opinion of the man or his work. That means I can’t ignore it, because it perpetually crops up again – I cite as evidence, this very chat thread (along with at least a half-dozen others at Forum Blue and Gold alone, within the past year, that I can think of off the top of my head).
So please don’t try to tell me not to read him. I’ll be able to avoid him as soon as the rest of the world wises up. I don’t -expect- that any time soon, so I sigh, pull up the page, and steel myself against the nonsense I perpetually see. All in the name of the discourse that will follow.
*shrug* That’s how it is.
Now that I’ve unburdened myself, a comment on the game itself:
The Lakers need more Lamar. More of Lamar with the ball in his hands at the top of the key, driving – even when he misses his lefty layups (and they’re ALWAYS lefty), he opens up the lane for lots of ORebs and putbacks, and Game 1 showed how vulnerable Denver can be to them.
I just real BTB on BDL and it got me thinking. Has anyone played more games than Kobe in the last 10 years? More minutes? I would doubt it. I would think probably nobody is even close. Kobe does not games off, he’s hardly ever injured. Most seasons the Lakers have gone deep in the playoffs. And Kobe has averaged a lot of minutes each season.
The only person I can think of who could be close is Tim Duncan. But he has been injured more and Pop gives him more games off.
It will be interesting to know if anybody has access to this data.
lil' pau says
Here’s an annoying thought:
If the Lakers go up 2-0, then are in garbage time en route to a Game 3 win in Denver, should Kobe deliberately pick up 2 Ts in the last minute so he can sit out game 4 in Denver, then have a zero technical balance starting in game 5? Assuming we lose game 4 without him, that still gives us 3 chances to beat Den with Kobe playing and takes away any concern about him having to sit out a game in the finals.
‘No way! Too risky!’, you exclaim, and that’s fine, but what if he unintentionally picks up a T in game 2 or 3 and is now 1 T away from a suspension? Do you do it then??
Don’t tell me there’s anyone here who won’t be on eggshells if Kobe starts the NBA finals with 6 Ts…. What a stupid rule– could you imagine Kobe getting suspended for a game in the finals despite being mostly technical free after the first two rounds?
Craig W. says
I don’t agree with you – on either point.
1) I don’t keep Simmons on my Bookmarks list and I don’t link to his articles when referenced in this blog – hasn’t been done over the last few threads.
2) Lamar has incredible talent, however (isn’t there always a however), he never seems to be thinking beyond his next step and has the same shooting motion close to the basket. This means he can be a walking turnover and he gets a lot of shots blocked – not a good thing against a team that likes to block shots like Denver.
An earlier comment mentioned that Lamar is a walking triple single. He fades in and out of games. Making him a primary focus of our offense is just inviting disaster.
Is anyone else surprised how George Karl took the loss?
I’m not sure I want my coach being so pained. Sure, it was a tough loss, but how you going to prepare and get your team ready, strategically and mentally, if it breaks you up that much? Especially when he coaches a team that is now 1-11 against the Lakers in the past 2 years.
Anyone else think along these lines?
lamar odom seems to be leaving jumpers wide open a lot of times
48. Lil’ Pau, that’s not how it works. For every other technical after #7 there is another suspension (#9, #11, etc). So getting the intentional does not help.
By the way, the drama is over. WWE’s RAW moves to Staples Center Monday night. Seems LA left the date open…..
wondahbap- Two words: Chauncey Billups. Maybe Karl can get away with that speech and demeanor because of Billups presence. I too was surprised and I didn’t like the body language but Karl is a brutally honest person by nature.
1) I’m not saying one ‘has’ to read Simmons. But I’m of the opinion that doing so allows one a broader understanding of the discourse of internet sporting websites. I desire to have that broader understanding. though I wouldn’t say I do so with regularity, I probably read something in the realm of 30+ to 40+ sports blogs at least fairly regularly, at probably a dozen or so are on my daily trawl. Simmons, or information that often has been derived from him, shows up in at least one of them fairly often.
Imagine a highly-ranked politician, with whom you disagree vehemently. If you choose to stay current on political discourse, you still have to be aware of what he says, despite disagreeing with it.
2) I actually don’t mind blocked shots as much as many people do – especially when they’re “KG” blocked shots (Denver’s specialty), as opposed to “Tim Duncan” blocked shots. KG-style blocks, the big swinging volleyball ones, are often blocked out of bounds, or blocked back to the offensive team – the probability of a turnover really isn’t that high. Duncan-style blocks are tipped to the defensive player, and are the equivalent of a steal.
Denver’s penchant for going for blocks, combined with Odom’s identity as a ‘blockable’ player, will encourage them to leave their rebounding responsibilities in order to try and garner shotblocks. And even when they succeed, they won’t retrieve the ball more often than not.
I went and looked at Game 1’s play-by-play. Denver had 8 blocks. The following happened after each:
1) K-Mart blocks a Kobe shot to Fish, who passes to an open Ariza for two.
2) Melo blocks Pau and corrals the ball, leading to a Chauncey 28-foot 3-pt shot.
3) Birdman blocks Bynum, Melo corrals the ball, passes to Anthony Carter, who gets blocked by Farmar on the runout.
4) Nene blocks a Fish layup, Lakers get the ball back and Ariza gets fouled on a shot-attempt.
5) K-Mart blocks Kobe’s layup (the uncalled goaltend), leading to a Melo dunk.
6) Dahntay Jones blocks Pau’s layup (*sigh*), Kobe gets the rebound, Fish gets a lay-up.
7) JR blocks a Kobe jumper (Kobe’s tech), Andersen gets the rebound, Fish fouls Billups in the backcourt.
8) Birdman blocks Sasha’s layup right to LO, who misses the lay-up attempt.
So on 8 blocks, the Lakers got the ball back 4 times, and had good looks on all 4 of those possessions (a lay-up, a wide-open J, a shooting foul, and a missed lay-up). Of the 4 possessions Denver ‘gained,’ they got a missed 30-foot 3-pointer, a bad runout, a dunk off of an uncalled goaltend (watch the Lakers, half of them stop to protest the non-call, which is what leads to the dunk), and a bad foul by Fish 60 feet from the hoop.
And that doesn’t factor in the times a Nugget moved to block a shot, missed, and the Lakers got one of their *17* offensive rebounds in part because of that fact. So taking the ball out of Odom’s hands because the Nuggets would be looking to block his shot more seems unwise to me.
This whole WWE “drama” and move of the event to the Staples Center just made a lot of Lakers fans amongst wrestling fans.
Vince McMahon on SportsCenter playing it up. Kobe jersey, his “good friends” at the Staples Center, Kroenke this, Kroenke that.
I agree with Underbruin.
Simmons’ is too well known to not be aware of. He has a huge audience, and unfortunately his “thoughts” and “opinions” become “fact” for some.
Robert Wuhl said, “When legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Bill Simmons makes the myths true for some.
Not everyone is a well informed Lakers fan, so like my dad, who is a Lakers fan, but doesn’t really watch much, people will believe what they read or see.
lil' pau says
Kurt, thanks for the correction.
Add me to the list of those who found Karl’s sad-sack act bizarre and, how to put it, uh, not conducive to team resilience in the face of a difficult defeat.
John Paxson’s gone.
Just shows how fickle the NBA business is. He (and Colangelo, and others) were hailed as geniuses just a few years ago.
I can’t criticize Paxson too much for not making a move. Sometimes, patience works out (Kupchak not trading Bynum). Other times, with the Bulls, it backfires. It’s easy to blame executives after seeing the results, but often times the methods and logic is the same.
(To be clear, he’s not completely gone, he’s still the VP, but no longer the GM. So he’ll have influence on moves without bearing the full burden).
Chris J says
I hate the fact that we’re going on and on about Simmons, but I’ll chime in…
He can be very funny. I often laugh at his jokes and enjoy his wit. But the Boston bias, which he wears like a badge of honor, can clearly affect his credibility on some subjects, most notably the Lakers and Kobe.
I hadn’t read his chat today until people brought it up here. (Lends weight to Underbruin’s theory). So then I went ahead and read it. It’s comical at best.
The refs favored the Lakers in the last few minutes, he claims, yet Denver somehow shot 11 more free throws.
He offers no good evidence to support the first point, even saying he can’t remember which call for Kobe was particualrly awful. But he then says the Nuggets got more calls because they were more aggressive taking it to the rim.
Well what, exactly, did the Lakers do at the close of last nigh’s game when they began getting calls? Taking it to the rim.
He also said the blown call when Billups stepped out of bounds didn’t matter because “the game was over by then.” That shot pulled them to within one point with six seconds to play. That’s not over in the NBA by any stretch of the imagination.
But it fit his weak argument, so why not trot it out, right?
Boston shot 38 free throws to the Lakers 10 in Game 2 last year. They won the game by six. After that giveaway, no Boston should never be allowed to say the another team benefitted from the officials ever again. Anything he says about the Lakers should just be dismissed as a biased rant.
The Dude Abides says
re last night’s officiating:
Bill Bridges called it before the game. This was the most favorable crew to road teams this season, they worked the Game 1 loss to HOU at Staples (29 FT HOU vs 19 FT Lakers), and they subscribe to the view that “physical” teams can push the Lakers around, but a “finesse” team like the Lakers cannot play the same style. Before Kobe drew the and-one 5th foul on Nene on his left-handed layup with about 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the game, it was 29 FTs for the Nuggs and 11 FTs for the Lakers. While LA had shot more 3-pointers than DEN, there were still plenty of shots in the lane where DEN went for the strip and didn’t get called.
During the game chat last night, it was posted that the Lakers needed to go the hole in the 4th quarter, because even if the FT disparity has favored the road team up to that point, if the home team goes to the rack in the 4th, they will get calls that they didn’t get all game. Sure enough, that’s what happened. Meanwhile, Denver’s drives during crunch time were directly into our defense (no open lanes), resulting in charges (Melo against Pau) or misses (Birdman against Lamar).
The only remotely ticky-tack call was K-Mart’s reach-in on Kobe, and it was a legitimate foul, just not one that the refs had called against DEN for the first 3 1/2 quarters. Anyway, the roundabout point of my post is that it’s unlikely the Lakers will have such an unfavorable officiating crew for the rest of the Staples games, so (1) look out Nuggs, and (2) great job by the Lake Show of playing through the one-sided officiating and getting the victory. Oh, and the Lakers are soft and they got lucky [snark].
Simmons is at his best when (a) reminiscing about a movie or television program from his adolescence, (b) covering a spectacle, e.g. the NBA All-Star Game, and (c) writing quick, general analyses of a given sport, team, player, controversy, etc. As a journalist, he shines most brightly doing (c). As your funny, articulate college roommate, assuming you get along, his (a) and (b) stuff can be very entertaining. But as soon as the issue becomes personal, i.e. he’s covering one of his home teams or their nemeses or, worse, both, (c) goes out the door while (a) and (b) glom into the kind of inch-deep blather that, well, you’d expect from a suddenly emotionally charged college roommate. If the emotion is anger, you get sulkiness and sneering. If it’s joy, you get sneering and bathos. Hide-your-head-in-embarrassment-bathos; he is perhaps, in this context, the most sentimental sportswriter living. His Kobe piece for ESPN The Magazine was dreadful. It read like the work of a cocky, glib freshman in his first week of Introduction to Critical Writing. “Kobe is so selfish, you know how I can tell, my friend who’s a Knicks fan emailed me that he was and my other friend who’s also a Knicks fan called me and said that he was and when I was talking to my dad about it he agreed with them both! And also I read that someone said that he was in a BOOK, if you don’t believe me. Yes, a real book, published and everything! TWO books.” Etc. etc. He spent a few seasons passionately condemning Doc and Ainge for their cowardly, desperate tactics, but when those tactics finally paid off, in the form of a motley Dream Team, he leaped shrieking girlishly onto the bandwagon. Once it collapsed under all that sweaty weight (as it was bound to; shoddy means shoddy; sin comes home to roost; etc.), Simmons evinced the classic reaction. Self-hate can only be dispelled through humility. But humility, you can’t really learn that from Karate Kid. Someone should vivisect that Kobe piece. It rates a D, D-, tops. Re last night’s win, and Kobe in particular, I think William Blake said it best:
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
Burn on, Kobe.
For those of you who saw charles and kenny’s comments last week after the boston game, what do u guys think of wat kenny said about lakers not deserving to win a championship because they dont play hard enough. I think kenny and charles and marc jackson are all frustrated as us laker fans that they dont play hard every night. But to say they DONT DESERVE to win the championship is a bit too much…wat do u guys think?
Coffee is For Closers says
Wow, LeBron follows thru and slaps down on dwight howard, no call. He’s going to be awfully tough to beat if he gets free reign like that.
Brian Tung says
PurpleNGold (63): I think you need to stop posting from a cell phone. 🙂
The TNT crew is well known for speaking off the cuff. Usually, it’s pretty funny–I enjoy their act more than most. Even when I disagree with them (and I think it’s silly to say anyone doesn’t deserve the title who wins it, unless all their opponents also aren’t playing hard), it’s still just trying to generate a bunch of heat.
You need a link. I only remember you commenting one other time (on Reed’s “psychology” post following the victories against Boston and Cleveland) but you’re pretty good.
Bethlehem Shoals of FreeDarko was interested in some of your work for possible guest post. Did he ever find you?
#47. I did a check at basketball-reference (the second greatest basketball website behind forumblueandgold), a found that in the 10 years from the 1999-2000 season to 2008-09.
i.) Kobe has played the second most regular season minutes (29,476) behind Dirk (29,735).
ii.) Kobe has played the most playoff minutes (5,791 and counting), followed by Shaq (5,311) and Duncan (5,259)
I did quick tabulations of total minutes played and here’s the top 10
1. Kobe 35,267
2. Dirk 33,801
3. Duncan 33,230
4. Kidd 32,515
5. Pierce 31,995
6. KG 31,845
7. Iverson 31,380
8. Rasheed 30,832
9. Marion 30,661
10. Ray Allen 30,503
Outside the top 10 are Shaq, the Pistons guys (Rip,Billups,Ben Wallace), Vince, Mike Bibby, Finley, Jamison and Andre Miller.
These might not be 100% accurate but it is clear that Kobe has, by far, played the most minutes in the last 10 years.
I think that Kenny meant that if you were to hand out the title right now on basis of merit, they wouldn’t be deserving of it. I personally think he’s right, but that the Lakers are starting to turn it around, who ‘deserves’ it doesn’t matter anyway, it’s who wins that matters.
Damn, the Cavs look pretty friggin impressive with Lebron out of the game. Williams and West are creating open shots for others, great ball movement. Admittedly the Magic defense is suspect so far, but their play with Lebron out isn’t dropping off at all so far.
Many people have gone on and on about the psychology of it, but I find it really interesting that Lebron’s goofy and relaxed personality rubs off on the rest of the team – and yet they’re so singularly focused when they take the court. I’d say something about Kobe’s intense personality not rubbing off on the Lakers’ makeup, but I’m sure that’d raise a lot of controversy. Oops.
It’s more a matter of, if you managed to make it that far, you’ll deserve to win. By the time the NBA Finals are about to happen, both teams should be good enough that they both are a deserving champion–even the one who’s leading scorer gets to shoot free throws if the opposing bench look at him too often… Yes, I’m looking at you Dwayne Wade. Yes, I’m looking at you Lebron James.
Snoopy2006 – I don’t think you would be starting a controversy if said Kobe’s personality doesn’t rub on his team. I’d probably agree with you.
Also, re: total games played (playoffs and regular season in the last 10 years). The top 5 is as follows:
1. Bowen 916
2. Duncan 901
3. Dirk 889
4. Rasheed 888
5. Kobe 885
Meaning that Kobe will be in 3rd for most games played by the end of the Denver series.
I was surprised by Karl. My wife showed the sort of concern for him that I’d expect if she witnessed a panhandler get struck by a car and roll helplessly into a ditch with an amazed, so-this-is-death expression on his ashen bug-eyed face. She’s a Laker, but that press conference was like a funeral wherein the deceased somehow dimly reawakens for a moment and is asked give the closing thought. If Denver fans have something to be worried about, it’s that, not losing game one against a talented team on its home floor. It was like the opening of Patton the only difference being that instead of a stirring speech filled with gruff humor and adamantine defiance the old general after violently repressing a fit of howling weeping offered traumatized mute despair as a sure way to buoy the troops.
E-Roc – yeah, I hope not, it’s pretty much a fact. Kobe = intense assassin. Our team = bipolar. Pretty different. But I feel like some people would jump all over that, at least maybe prior to the Houston series they would.
That was just a beastly block by Lebron on Howard.
And then next play Lee challenges Lebron on the break (and succeeds). Gutsy.
Rashard Lewis edges out Kendrick Perkins for the Most Satanic Goatee award.
This Magic team is seriously underrated. Cleveland needs to get the King back on the court ASAP, he’s the only one getting anything done for them.
Cayucos Surfer says
I would almost agree with you about the goatee, if it weren’t for the fact the Perkins always looks like he just ate a baby.
Man, I wish Courtney Lee would’ve dropped to the Lakers. He’s a really good player.
Rashard Lewis is awesome to watch.
Do we want the Magic to challenge the Cavs like this? If we hopefully make it to the Finals, I can’t decide if we’d rather have a “tested” Cavs team or one not used to adversity. It’s probably an overrated concept. (Not to underrate the Magic at all, they could pull this out.)
Someone disagree with Dex so that he finds a reason to stick around… He’s a good friend and always utters beautiful truth.
I’m not sure what I want, but I expect this series to go at least 6 games. I think a lot of people are seriously underestimating the Magic.
I disagree with Dex.
kwame a. says
Mo Williams sure plays a lot tighter when his team isn’t up 15 points. A lotta Cavs playing tight.
Since you’ve said it twice, I’ll chime in. I don’t think the Magic are underrated. I think they’re rated just fine. Their offense is stupid. The question is are the Cavs o-v-e-r-a-t-e-d? I say yes.
And I definitely want the Cavs to get pushed to the brink. I’m so sick of the media lovefest.
So because the Magic aren’t getting destroyed like everyone predicted, the Cavs are now overrated?
This is probably the first time I’ve ever seen Lebron tired. Weird.
Lewis is stroking it, ridiculously.
Williams needed that shot to go in. Maybe that will give him some confidence.
wow if that was the lakers i would hate that call
Who is everyone? No, I’ve thought they were overrated because they got the equivalent of 2 bye weeks with the 2 JV teams they played.
And I have no idea whether Orlando can win this series or not, but I definitely want it to go the distance.
Boy, LeBron is getting very little help down the stretch. At this point I might just double him every time if I’m Orlando.
absolutely epic travel by Lebron before West’s three.
And right on cue, West knocks down a huge 3.
Lebron travels a lot, but so do most NBA players. Turkoglu created that contact, not sure if I like that call.
If the Cavs lose this game, I want to hear all the talking heads say how soft they are, and how they let the Magic come back from a big deficit.
How exactly is that a foul on Howard?
That’s a bad call. Jumps straight up. Do they just want him to let Lebron dunk it?
horrendous call on Howard there. If he hadn’t jumped, Lebron would’ve charged straight into his chest.
Rashard Lewis is en fuego.
boy does lewis have a pretty jumper, please double lebron please orlando
Stupid offense…Yea, it was a big shot, but if you insist on going for 3 with 25 sec left, you should at least make it the last shot of the game. Silly.
Yeah we get it, the team that has scored 107 points at the Q on 55% shooting has a ‘stupid offense’.
kwame a. says
I’m telling ya, the Cavs are now 2-9 against the League’s top 3…just sayin
Lebron James should’ve taken the jumpshot as soon as Pietrus fell.
boy was that close, wow im very impressed orlando
kwame a. says
oops, 2-8…dont wanna short change them.
the media hasen’t really caught on to this but cleveland has absolutely no bench, joe smith is it really, and it killed them tonight
E-roc that would assume that James had confidence in taking that shot. Kobe would have take that shot, James would rather drive using his unhuman size and strength to get to the basket. Orlando just did a good job of not letting him get a shot at the basket.
Craig W. says
I love it, if only to shut those dumb “talking heads”. Of course they will spend so much time explaining why they were wrong, they will consider themselves unbiased commentators.
Cayucos Surfer says
Whoa. Only watching on Gamecast, but that looked like a crazy finish. Stoked the Cavs lost game 1.
Joel, are you a diehard Magic fan? I just would like to know, cause respect if you are. And I have no dog in this race. If anything I want them to win, because I really don’t want to see LBJ in the Finals.
And to my point, tonight they got Howard more touches than any other game in the playoffs by far.
Bill Bridges says
not great for vitamine water. stick with gatorade
Wow what a game. What a couple of Game 1’s.
I guess we don’t have a choice. If we can take out the Nuggets, whatever team we face will have been “tested.”
Lebron played a masterful game. 20-30 from the field, 3-6 from three, 49 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds. The only flaw was a relatively anemic 6-10 from the line. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the crazy good play of Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard, along with some ultra-clutchness from Hedo Turkoglu. Orlando really should re-sign Hedo this coming year, but I frankly wouldn’t be too unhappy with Lewis closing games for them. He’s such a match-up nightmare and an amazing shooter. He can really do it all: low-post, mid-post, on the move, outside off the dribble. Not worth 17mil a year at all, but still, amazing.
1704 comments (and counting) over at 3rd Quarter Collapse.
Can’t imagine why.
orlando wins and james doesn’t look alright (now please God don’t make it a big one or any major injury to anyone from hereon to end).
cleveland might be in for a long fight.
Also, I couldn’t believe Lebron wasn’t using jumpshot down the stretch. He was knocking them down at an epic rate but went away from it in crunch time. His supporting cast’s performance was an epic fail.
You’re right, I’m a closet Magic fan who posts on the Lakers blog on a daily basis. The fact that I don’t think they have a ‘stupid offense’ proves it.
I don’t see what’s so bad about Orlando’s offense. They go to Howard in the post when he has good position. Otherwise they run PNR on the wing or at the top of the key, usually leading to either a wide-open corner three, the most efficient shot in basketball not called a dunk or lay-up, or a pick and pop by Lewis, who was money. They played almost perfect in crunch time, barring one poor three by Pietrus.
Craig W. says
Lebron was very tired. I bet his legs would support continued jumpshots.
Joel – A ha! We’re on to you now!
Craig W. says
Interesting to see how Cleveland responds to some adversity. They only lost twice at the Q before tonight, and all throughout the playoffs we’ve read and heard about how they will romp to the title as LeBron takes his place as the greatest player in the history of history. How will the likes of Williams and West react to this kind of pressure? (LeBron I’m not too worried about for some reason…)
Craig W – I agree, he was tired but the jumper was wide open as soon as Pietrus fell. It was a gimme bank shot. I just thought he completely abandoned it too much in the second half, particularly the 4th quarter.
As a basketball fan, you just love a great game, great plays down the stretch.
Mixed bag of emotions as a Lakers fan. You like seeing the Cavs fall, but the Magic’s offense actually gives our schemes more problems. It’s hard to say who we’d rather see (hypothetically, if we make it to the Finals).
If it ends up being Cleveland, would we rather they come in cruising, so that we can punch them in the mouth and they won’t push back?
I don’t think it’s a huge issue, but it’s an off-night. I’m bored.
If not for the injury to Nelson, I think Orlando would be a worse matchup than Cleveland for the Lakers. We all know how good the Lakers are at defending a) the pick-and-roll and b) the 3-pointer.
LeBron looks scary, but at least you know Kobe is capable of matching him on any given night.
Whoa, Joel. It was a sincere question, not an attack, dude. And I think you can be fans of multiple teams. That’s alright though, we can drop it.
Zephid, they spend most games using Howard as a decoy and they just shoot Js around him. They “let” him do all the work on the boards and no one helps. Late game, they go heavily to Hedo for isolations. They live & die with the 3. And with the way they use Rashard, it makes him and Hedo the same player. Rashard has a solid post game.
I just think they could make things so much simpler if they played a little smarter. With the system SVG had in Miami, I’m surprised he runs it like this in Orlando. Anyway, this may be good enough to get to the Finals. We’ll see.
easier, not simpler
Rashard Lewis is a bad bad man. Overpaid, but seriously Leroy Brown tonight.
Don W says
A good defensive team like Orl is not going to get beat by one person iso-ing all day, taking contested 20 footers. It’s simply unsustainable. A lot of Ilgauskas’ wide open looks off PnR and Williams’ corner threes off weak side screens were contested and taken away by more versatile defenders that could switch. This game showed the long proven rule that to be an elite team you need at least 3 consistent scorers. Cle has 2, and some nights Mo Williams gets taken out of his game.
Hat’s off to LeBron for playing a phenomenal game, but they have to mix up their offensive sets and find a way to get other players involved. I’ve been saying their lack of post presence will hurt them, and I’m surprised LeBron didn’t go into the post more in the second half after being so effective.
People are saying Mike Brown need to go small, but who can they go to? Szerbiak? Joe Smith? Ben Wallace? Their guards are already undersized. They don’t have the personnel to match up. I’m surprised we didn’t see pavlovic at the 3 and LeBron at the 4. Maybe Pav isn’t the same player any more.
I don’t care which team we play, I want to play whoever wins the series because that will be the better team.
Sorry about that clutch, misunderstanding on my part.
I don’t think they really live and die with 3 as much as people think. They live and die with their defense, which is outstanding (led the league in defensive efficiency). The way the league is now firing up that many 3s isn’t that bad of a strategy.
With regards to Turkoglu and his isos, this wouldn’t be as much as a problem if Nelson were healthy.
Joe A. says
Interesting parallel between that Cav’s game and some Laker’s games we’ve all seen a few times in the past.
Kobe/Lebron get so hot it ends up stagnating the offense overall.
Everybody but Kobe/Everybody but Lebron is playing like crap so Kobe/Lebron have to try to put the whole game on their back.
Not sure which one of the two it was…
Kobe’s probably at home right now after watching LBJ’s play his heart out, having a monster game, and losing because none of his teammates could step up thinking “I know how it feels.”
As for Howard, they do forget about him at times but it would help if he had a low-post move other than his running hook across the lane.
I fully agree about Howard having work to do and missing Nelson. And really good (& sad) point about this L now and 3 pt shooting. With those and your point about Cleveland and adversity, we don’t have much of a disagreement. I’m just a little picky about how teams are “supposed” to play in the playoffs. For whatever that’s worth.
And Cleveland already seems really down about this loss. I love it.
I think it was a case of #2 leading to #1.
Of course, Cleveland’s offense is set up more for LeBron to dominate the ball compared to Kobe with the Lakers.
“And Cleveland already seems really down about this loss. I love it.”
After all that hype, the only that would make my summer more than Orlando winning this series is the Lakers winning the title. Both of which are entirely possible.
Lebron sure does get away with some ridiculous travels… And gets some crazy fouls called as well.
Joe A. says
That was definitely true in the past- but the games I watched of Cleveland this year they seemed to move away from the Lebron-iso offense during the regular season.
But if Mo-Will and D. West are going to shoot 30%, I’m not sure what else they can do…
If it interests you, Kobe’s usage stat (one of those fancy-schmancy advanced stats that measures the % of a teams plays used by the player- and might be 100% BS) and Lebron’s usage stat are pretty close- with LBJ’s being just about 1% point higher.
32% to 33%.
last year we wanted boston because they went 7 games in 2 rounds but we know how it ended. so its really confusing now. but first finish off Den in game 2. dont give them hope.
Those numbers are probably over my head anyway. 😉
The point I was getting at is that the Cavs have the personnel to be successful just by iso-ing LeBron at the top of the key because they have 3 spot-up shooters on the court with him at all times. Unless Kobe has a clear matchup advantage the Lakers aren’t really built to play that way.
I know there’s been a lot Simmons bashing, and while I don’t want to get too much into that, I do think he was completely off base with his fawning over Cleveland. Not to say that Cleveland isn’t a great team, but they have real matchup issues when facing Orlando (as a lot of teams do). The Magic’s front court is the exact type of C/PF combo that is going to give Cleveland fits. Howard is a guy that can dominate Z with his speed/power/athleticism combo and Lewis is the type of PF that won’t be bothered by AV’s strengths (tough interior D, taking charges, flopping) because of his perimeter oriented game. Then Lebron has to chase Turk all over the court and play P&R with Howard (one of the only C’s in the league with the body to really clip him on screens) hitting him on almost every single play. I know the announcers were talking about the layoff contributing to Lebron’s fatigue, but I also think him having to carry the load on offense AND defend Turk is going to wear him down in games and over the course of the series (especially if/when Pietrus/Lee put the clamps on West/Williams). Cleveland is in for a fight and I wouldn’t doubt Orlando’s ability to win this series in six games.
j. d. hastings says
I’m thrilled that Cleveland’s bench completely evaporated, but watching Lebron is terrfying. When his outside shots are hitting nothing but net I can’t bring myself to watch. And Orlando won because they can also be scary good. As are Denver and the Lakers…
When was the last time the 4 teams remaining at this point were so clearly the 4 best teams in the league?
I think you have to take Simmons comments in that chat with several grains of salt. Orlando just knocked out his beloved Celtics, and he’s also positively giddy at the thought of LeBron surpassing Kobe (and cementing it by winning a ring). His “analysis” was even more biased and hyperbolic than usual.
I don’t see why Lebron should be tired. Over a weeks worth of rest, young, fresh legs, and freak athleticism should have been enough. Maybe he’s not TOUGH ENOUGH!?!?
But really, I expected better out of Cleveland. They looked a lot like the Lakers tonight. Superstar dominates while no one else is doing anything, at all. And when the game comes down to the line, the rest of the team is the deciding factor in the loss.
But unlike the Kobe and the Lakers, you can bet Lebron isn’t going to get any of the blame.
it’s a tough call – but i still prefer orlando to win – for the lakers to win/beat if they make it to the finals – the biggest concern of orlando is guarding the 3 point shot – but LBJ really worries me with the lakers
the tipping point for me is that the lakers have home court over orlando but not cleveland – i am really nervous if the cavs win and the lakeshow starts in clev – it will remind me of last year in boston – until the lakers prove they can win a road game against a tough team (we will see in denver) i would be worried about that
also i am sooooo sick of hearing about LBJ better than kobe -and i am not sure i will be able to watch the hyperbole for a kobe /lbj finals – it sickens me – and so does the hype about kobe vs. jordan uggh
I just realized that:
Dwight is 6’11″ 265 lb.
Lebron is 6’8″ 250 lb.
Carmelo is 6’8″ 230 lb.
Kobe is 6’5″ (he admitted in an interview he was actually 6’5″ rather than his listed height) and is currently listed at 205 lb (he used to be 220 but his site said he lost 20 pounds).
I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: Kobe defending Lebron/Melo is truly impressive, because he’s actually defending out of position. Wings are not interchangeable, Lebron and Melo are true forwards where Kobe physically is a guard. (Kobe vs Ginobili or Roy is a fairer matchup).
Kobe guarding Lebron is a bigger physical disadvantage than if Lebron guards Dwight Howard. Same height disadvantage, but a bigger weight disadvantage.
Think about that. Would Lebron ever step up and offer to guard Dwight the way Kobe does?
Nothing against Lebron, but it just makes Kobe’s leadership defensively that much more impressive to me.
chris h says
question for you’all
lil pau brought this up way up there, with regard to Kobe’s 5 tech’s.
I thought that when the team got out of the west and into the NBA finals, the tech count restarted.
is that true?
let’s hope so.
It restarts at the beginning of the playoffs, and that’s it. The technicals will definitely be a factor in the Finals if Kobe gets a bit too vocal.
To me, Orlando is a new version of the championship Rockets teams of the mid-90s. World class interior presence surrounded by three point shooters.
I really didn’t get that before tonight, I saw them as really missing a piece without Nelson, and they are and may well not beat Cleveland this series. But that team is a nightmare matchup for everyone next year. Nightmare.
Joel R says
Anonymous up there beat me to it, but there’s one simple reason I’m rooting for the Magic to upset the Cavs: if we take care of business and meet Orlando in the Finals, we’d have home court.
I know some folks here think the match-ups are tougher against Dwight & Co. than against LeBron and Co. (a fair assessment, albeit based on a relatively small, regular-season sample size) but it seems to me that having four games at Staples instead of three would trump any of those concerns.
Okay, maybe I’m also rooting against Cleveland because it would be awesome to see the Kobe vs. LeBron hype machine derailed. Just a little.
Kurt – I agree to some extent, the foundations are similar. But I think the key difference is that Hakeem was on another level than Dwight offensively. Comparing the Dream Shake (the 2nd most unstoppable post move in the history of the game) to Howard’s simple, clumsy sweeping hook isn’t possible.
Why is that important? Because the Rockets were truly built from the inside out. Hakeem created nearly everything for them, even more than Shaq did in our 3-peat days. The Magic don’t have that luxury; Hollinger’s article revealed how many games the Magic have won where Dwight’s actually taken less than 10 shots.
What that means is this Magic team relies far more heavily on its perimeter players creating (namely, Hedo) than the Rockets team of 94 did, if I’m not mistaken. Howard kept the Magic in the game early, but IMO Hedo won the game for them with nearly perfect decision making, in true point-forward style.
So they’re similar on the surface, but really the Magic rely far more on perimeter players creating offense than the Rockets, who truly went inside-out.
To me, the Kobe-Lebron hype machine is worth it, if Kobe can take Lebron out. If the opposite happens, we’ll be subject to pointless articles detailing Kobe’s flaws (and how Michael wouldn’t have let his team lose!) for years to come.
I’m not sure why I feel this way, but Orlando beating Cleveland made my day.
It being a close contest (like ours) made it even better.
Oh this is too good.
Just read the Bill Simmons chat: I’ve never seen him that bitter (hahaha!) Just to add to the pile-on… during his last podcast he expressed amazement that Angelinos disagree with his Kobe-hating theories, even exclaiming in disbelief “you can’t bring up the rape (sic) here”. He went on to spin an elaborate theory to explain this this involving the strangeness of people from Los Angeles. Seriously, what is it about Celtics fans? They seem so dense. Would any of us, if we went to Boston and started trashing Paul Pierce, be confused when the locals didn’t agree with us?
Snoopy, I never meant to suggest Howard is anywhere near Hakeem (although for the second title they had Clyde the Glide helping create offense off penetration). But more is asked of the Magic players standing out at the arc. I just think the basic tenants are similar (and if it works, use it).
Question will be, how often will Dwight Howard foul out? And how early?
If Howard gets some calls his way (or noncalls) this is going to be very exciting for the Magic.
Simmons hates Kobe (yes, Bill, you hate him; it isn’t a crime — it’s okay, in sports, to hate your arch-nemesis; the man who, even in defeat, makes the recent, short-lived achievements of “your” Celtics paltry and jerry-rigged by comparison; “your” Celtics; and the entire state of Minnesota’s; and New York’s; and wherever else Ainge and Doc rousted an aging star with no roots in Boston whatsoever and signed him with the understanding that he could move the hell back to his actual city as soon as they’d won a championship.
But who’s championship was it? It was basically Garnett’s, wasn’t it? — Garnett the Timberwolf, who shall always be a Timberwolf, and never, ever not look incongruous in his baggy green costume — think of Malone and Payton in L.A., only fifty times worse — for I haven’t seen many moving tributes to Paul Pierce, or Ray Allen, or Doc Rivers, or Rondo, with glistening eyes as they softly caress the trophy. No, this championship was about Garnett finally winning one after years of ignominious failure in the state that made his name and fortune.
So — here you are, pretending that an aging miscellany of bounty hunters and frustrated uprooted veterans qualifies as an actual Celtics team. No matter that they’ve no ties to Boston, that you haven’t cheered for them from youth to manhood — come on, those green jerseys speak for themselves. No matter that Pierce, without this dramatic intervention, without the team nobly tanking half a season on the chance that mediocrity and incompetence (and quisling surrender) would be rewarded, — no matter that he would have wasted his career on one of the great clownish franchises of the NBA — see, he’s got that ring, and that’s what matters. And it’s inspiring to see Doc weep into the microphone about injured players this, injured players that; LA’s loss of Bynum, who was just coming into his own, was quite a terrible blow itself, but not apparently the kind that a coach can point to as the reason for his ignominious departure from the playoffs.
Phil Jackson seemed dry-eyed, but then again he and Doc have such different styles. Phil is calm, humorous, self-deprecating, but all business; he ca articulate why his team failed on a given night. Doc’s style, which is endearing, is to smile desperately into the cameras beslimed in sweat and give the other team credit because his guys kind of sucked, which in no way says anything about the character and excellence of his guys.
I’m digressing, it’s too late in Chicago, where the songbirds sing all night. In short, Simmons, Kobe is beyond your comprehension. You recognize that you once had someone like him in Bird, and you recognize that you shall not see that again in your lifetime. In a Boston jersey, I mean.
You reveal your hand when you accuse Kobe, la de da, of reacting to Bynum’s second injury with nought but self-interested rage and frustration. Your evidence for this? Kobe’s inscrutable face in those horrible minutes after their collision. I suggest he was suffering agonies of a complexity far, far more complicated than your armchair diagnosis allowed, which apparently you arrived at by interpreting a few quick glimpses of Kobe’s taut and haunted face — in the manner of, yes, a hater.
Come on, Simmons, we’re all haters to an extent; that’s why rivalries are thrilling and glorious or thriling and tragic depending. Your Kobe piece was maybe the weakest apologia, the timidest defense, I’ve seen since I was grading papers written by freshman who didn’t give a damn. If by chance you read this, I fart in your general direction; let’s take the claims in your ESPN Bryant piece and scrutinize them a little.
For example, your response to Kobe’s masterful performance in the Garden, which had three-fourths of the crowd on their feet chanting “MVP” in the exuberance of having witnessed something close to sublimity, was not merely flimsy as a cobweb, but a hilarious contradiction of what you’d demanded of him prior to 81. Let’s do this, Apollo, you can batter me around a little, I’m nothing. You’re Bill Simmons, with a mailbag and a book and TIVo, a diploma. I’m Dex with a homemade Kobe Bryant t-shirt. Come on, fight me a little. You accused Kobe of some pretty hard things in that ESPN article. Come on, let’s see you go a couple rounds with someone who’ll hit back. I’m sure you’ll maul me, you’ve got nothing to lose except your reputation as a fanboy hater.
Like some of you, I felt really good watching the Magic come back and steal this one from the Cavs. Earlier, I was hoping the Cavs would continue their ride to the Finals, and the Lakers could come in as the underdog and win the chip. I know I’m getting ahead of myself (all due respect to a great Nuggets team), but now I think I’d rather see the Magic in the Finals. The main reason is that I’d love the Lakers to win the championship in Los Angeles, and I don’t like the thought of games 6 and 7 in Cleveland.
Bah, I’m being way too picky. Please Lakers, win the championship, I don’t care how it happens.
Seeing the Cavs celebrate after their first quarter made the Magic’s win really sweet for me, I can’t stand their demeanour sometimes…
We need to thank Orlando for reminding us once again that basketball is a team sport.
We should be able to remember when Wilt’s Kansas basketball team lost the NCAA championship–or Wilt’s failure to win championships for most of his career–that even an athlete as exceptional as Wilt couldn’t do it alone.
Kobe has already gone through a transition towards team that makes Lakers appreciate him much more. It is to Kobe’s credit that he scored only 14 points in the game 7 victory over Houston.
Lebron has been going the other way with his Cavs. Good to see him score 49 and watch his team lose.
The difference between Kobe and Lebron. Kobe works out for tone instead of girth. He has grace and stamina and he can play through injuries. I hate to say it, because I like Lebron. I never thought this before I saw last night’s game. He muscles his way through games, and now his muscles are exploding with blood. Sadly, he may be juicing.
You beat me to it. I’m a bit torn though… on one hand, I want the Cavs to loose, just because that may, (may!) slow down the media’s blind worship of him and everything he does. On the other, I am a lot more confident in our ability to beat the Cavs than our ability to beat the Magic.
That said, for right now, we should probably focus on beating Denver. They’re going to be even more motivated now, after losing the first game like that.
Don W. says
Pat I have to say that I have never really looked at Lebron’s amazing girth until last night. I mean, it is astounding. He has always been a specimen, but wow. I just can’t imagine him juicing though, I mean he has done everything right to this point. However in today’s climate, you just don’t know.
Pat, I wouldn’t be surprised if a third of the league is juiced up.
It’s obvious just by looking at NBA players and international players, high school and college players, rookies and veterans…
Pat – Lebron would have to be on some new drug that no one knows, and I highly doubt he is. Just because he’s ginormous and runs like a gazelle means he’s doping. Does Dwight Howard fit that bill, too? Or how about Kobe? He could be stacking like A-Rod did while gaining huge amounts of strength without the girth. Is Terrell Owens doping? How about Adrian Peterson? Julius Peppers? We get a few guilty parties and everyone wants to wear shaded glasses.
Dex, I’m begging you, please email that post to Bill Simmons, with the subject line “I fart in your general direction.”
That was glorious.
Unless he’s crazy, Simmons probably has any emails with “Kobe”, “Mamba”, “24”, “8”, or “Lakers” in the subject line going straight to delete.
Dex’s comment finally made me stroll over to see what the latest Bill Simmons ****storm was about. Once I got to the transcript, I changed my mind. One more emotional, hate-laced tirade from Simmons about Kobe and I might put him in the city landfill with Hollinger.
158. Dex, you just made my morning. Hilarious yet true. well done lakerboy 🙂
Ryan O. says
I’d like to third (fourth?) the praise of Dex’s posts. Fantastic.
Why doesn’t it surprise me that you and Reed are friends? You’re two of the finest posters on this forum, and the competition is pretty fierce.
158) Dex –
Great! And loved the Python reference.
Yea, I was slightly ambiguous, but yours was fourth.
And what’s the over/under Kurt doesn’t put this in his game 2 post?
kwame a. says
If Kobe dropped 50 and his team lost there would be lots of “he didn’t get his teammates invovled” and also there’d be some criticism for missing 3 free throws. And Lebron, how are you cramping up in a playoff game? better drink some more vitamin water.
172 – My guess is Kurt won’t because this site is primarily about the actual game of basketball, and acknowledging Bill Simmons in a regular post would basically say that blatant homerism and stupidity gets you attention. Then again, it was an exceptional piece of writing, so I could be wrong.
Vitamin Water is a farce.
jim smith says
Dex, what did Bill say exactly to cause your diatribe? I read his the transcript and didn’t find anything that could be construed as Kobe-hate. I guess in your eyes anyone who doesn’t think Kobe is the still the best player in the NBA is a hater. And what has Kobe done to the Cetics that could cause Bill to hate him? Kobe isn’t exactly a Celtic killer, as his pedestrian Finals performance last year has shown.
Its funny, just last year people were ready to anoint Kobe as the best player ever. This year, he wasn’t even one of the top three players in the NBA. Kobe has has a great career thus far but I personally don’t believe that he was even the best Laker’s guard ever and his athletic skills have clearly diminished.
You also posit that the Celtics’ championship was Garnett’s. How you came up with this is beyond me since Pierce was the MVP, but anyways, if the Lakers win this year could we also say that this would be Pau’s championship? Don’t forget the Laker’s were basically irrelevant until they got Pau gift wrapped and handed to them on a platter.
You need to realize that not everyone who says something critical about Kobe/Lakers is a hater.
Been there done that, Kwame. Many times.
Snoopy, call it a tie.
I wrote this yesterday and I reiterate again. By reading and discussing Simmons columns you are just giving him more incentive to write more of the same stuff.
Stop reading and it will affect him much more. You might think – it’s only just me. How does one person make a difference. But seriously, try it. It does make a difference. The Lakers fans are probably the biggest fan community in the NBA. And Kobe is by far the biggest star inspite of how much Stern tries to force him down our throats.
174. You are wrong.
There is now a new post up dedicated just to Dex’s comments on Simmons. I thought about it, my first instinct was to say “not on a game day, if this was August…” but the fact is I really liked the writing. It is a great critique of Simmons.
Plus, this is likely to tick off people in the ESPN brass, and I have an affinity for biting the hand that feeds me.
Try to keep that post discussion on Simmons. Around noon or 1 I will have the game two thread post up, and we can get back to hoops.
Kurt – I have to admit, I’m a little surprised. Talking about Simmons reminds me a little of talking about NBA gossip – vaguely related to basketball, but mostly nonsense. Seems out of character for FB&G a bit.
“Plus, this is likely to tick off people in the ESPN brass, and I have an affinity for biting the hand that feeds me.” lol I like that.
(That wasn’t intended as criticism or anything. I actually like the opportunity to bash a moron like Simmons, I was just surprised. Plus putting it as an actual post (and hopefully Henry sees it) increases the chances of Simmons actually reading it. Well done.)
Ryan O. says
jim smith – Dex wasn’t commenting on the transcript of Simmons’s recent chat, but on his article from a month or so back where he “defended” his criticisms of Kobe.
You seem to fancy yourself a thoughtful provocateur on these forums, but every comment of yours I’ve read just seems to be aimed at antagonizing someone, and not at thoughtful discussion. The fact that you’d immediately jump on Dex’s comment without taking the time to understand the context just reinforces that.
jim smith says
181, ya that was my bad. I mistakenly thought that Dex was responding to something current. My reply still stands as Dex was still attacking Bill as being a Laker Hater.
You jump on me for my perceived antagonistic comments yet you say nothing about Dax’s personal attack on Bill. (Granted Bill will probably never read his commments.) Would this be an example of hypocrisy? Have I ever personally called anyone out? If you feel I am wrong then point out the parts of my comment that you feel are incorrect instead of resorting to ad hominem attacks or better yet don’t respond at all.
Game 2 chat up