From Silver Screen And Roll: It smells like… *sniff, sniff*… mmm, points. My favorite! All of a sudden, the Phoenix Suns aren’t the only team with extra-large servings of points on the menu, and I think I’ll stop now with the culinary metaphor. The point of it is… well, points are the point. The Lakers offense, wan and sputtering all year long, has risen from the depths to become competent. Good, even. More so than the three-zip lead over the Utah Jazz, of whom no one really doubted the Lakers would handily dispose, the rebirth of the Laker attack is the story of the second round ‘round here. It started in Game Five against Oklahoma City and has pretty much done nothing but pick up steam since then.
From NBA Fanhouse: If you enjoy any of the following things: Being reminded that Utah Jazz fans are intense; reading Bill Plaschke; or hearing once again the strange, twisted, and thoroughly moving saga of how Derek Fisher ended up back with the Lakers, click here. Otherwise, gather up your mental baggage, and come along with me. The gist of Plascke’s piece is that, when it comes to booing and generally piling vitriol on visiting Lakers teams, Utah hits no one harder than Fisher. It’s a little murky exactly what the sin was — the late Larry Miller, no dummy he, gave Fisher his blessings to walk in 2007. It was, after all, a way to get out from under a contract with an aging guard. And while Fisher’s infant daughter was at a New York hospital that fateful summer, and Utah has a wonderful medical center, you can’t really question what he thought was best for his kid. Plus, Fisher had lived in Los Angeles a long time and had a support system there.
If you haven’t already, check out Brain On Funk, a hilarious collection of picture essays as game recaps. You can check the Lakers/Jazz Game 3 recap here. But check out all of his stuff, good work over there.
From Hardwood Paroxysm: In today’s post, I’m particularly interested in the Time Of Possession box. Haven’t seen this in an NBA box score before. NFL, yes, but this is new territory for basketball analysis as far as I can tell. The number tells us how long each team controlled the possession for the game. For example, in the box score from Suns-Spurs Game 1, we find that the Spurs had possession of the ball almost 2 minutes longer than the Suns did (24 mins 51 seconds vs. 23 mins 09 seconds). Simple stuff but has some interesting implications for our understanding of pace.
From the Los Angeles Times: The Lakers have done plenty in their rich playoff history, winning 15 championships and appearing in 30 NBA Finals, results any franchise not named the Celtics would gladly accept. But for all their parades and champagne-dousing moments, one thing they don’t often do is sweep. The Lakers are in position to do it Monday against Utah, holding a 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals, one victory from only their 13th sweep in 100 best-of-seven series since their 1948-49 inception.
From the Los Angeles Times: Lakers forward Ron Artest arrived at EnergySolutions Arena 2 1/2 hours before Saturday’s Game 3 against Utah, apparently figuring that some extra shooting would get him out of his shooting funk. Even though he had maintained all season that he never worried about his low shooting numbers, or even his shot selection, the topic irked him enough to lament about the topic via Twitter because Coach Phil Jackson had publicly criticized his shot selection, particularly with his seven of 42 (16.7%) clip from three-point range in the first eight playoff games.
From the LA Daily News: The Lakers faced some serious backcourt pressure Saturday, so Pau Gasol stayed back to help. They threw him a pass and he dribbled deftly into the frontcourt as if he was a point guard rather than a very powerful forward. On another trip down court, he reached over an opponent in pursuit of a rebound. He couldn’t quite clutch it since his opponent had boxed him out, but he did the next best thing and swatted the basketball into the basket for two points.
From The Salt Lake Tribune: The finality of the situation hadn’t set in for the Jazz as they gathered Sunday morning for possibly their final practice of the season, in advance of what could be their final game tonight in trailing the Lakers 3-0 in the conference semifinals. They opened the playoffs a wounded team without injured starters Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur and could finish the playoffs in the same state after three excruciatingly close losses to the defending champions in this series. As much of an accomplishment as they enjoyed in upsetting Denver despite being so short-handed in the first round, the Jazz run the risk of letting it go to waste if they can’t win tonight to avoid the first four-game playoff sweep in franchise history.
Practice report from NBA.com (with video): Phil Jackson teams win close games. The Jordan and Pippen Bulls, the Shaq and Kobe Lakers, the Kobe and Pau Lakers… Certainly the 2009-10 version is no exception to that rule. And while many would credit the cold-blooded nature of Bryant, or simply superior talent in general, both Bryant and Derek Fisher explained that their head coach plays a crucial role.
From ESPN.com: Kobe Bryant sat in a seat along the baseline after Sunday’s practice, peering out at the EnergySolutions Arena court laid out in front of him. Look to his left and he’d see the spot on the left wing where Lamar Odom hit a 3-pointer to put the Lakers up by one with 2:25 remaining in Saturday’s Game 3 win. Look straight ahead and he’d see the spot at the top of the key where he dropped in a triple of his own to tie the game with 54 seconds left. Swivel his head slightly to the right and he’d see the spot on the right wing where Derek Fisher hit his latest and greatest clutch 3-pointer, the one that put Los Angeles up for good with 28.6 seconds left, coming off a Bryant pass.
From Yahoo! Sports: Derek Fisher found a picture from a playoff game against the Utah Jazz on the Internet earlier this year. Fisher isn’t certain during which Los Angeles Lakers game the photo was taken, but he knows what it shows: As the former Jazz guard attempts to shoot a free throw in Salt Lake City, a fan behind the basket covers his left eye to taunt him. Fisher also knew what the photo meant. The fan was mocking his young daughter, Tatum, who had cancer in her left eye. Fisher left the Jazz in the summer of 2007 to return to the Lakers so his daughter could receive what he considered was the best medical care available.
Craig W. says
The Jazz will not quit, but if there is a hammer late in the 3rd period, I think the Lakers can carry it from there. There is a point where the spirit cannot carry the body any longer and the Lakers need to reach that point in some latter point of this game.
Kobe understands this better than anyone playing the game today.
I will be watching this game tonight and have the feeling that the Jazz will be playing with a MUST WIN game mentality. They are not going to mail it in tonight at all, this will be the toughest game to win against this Utah team in this series. I have a good feeling also that the Lakers will come out ready to take them down, and hopefully we will be sweeping the court with them after the game. Phillip, another very good morning link fest…
People enjoy reading Plaschke? The fact that he wins so many awards speaks volumes about his peer group and the standards they use.
I have very little to no respect for his writing style, analysis and logic. Ugh, can he get traded to San Francisco and LA gets Scott Ostler back?
[Bringing it up from the previous thread since I posted it at the end. The context was trying to figure out whether Hollinger’s stats are really good.]
What we need is a regression analysis. For each game in games 40-70 of an NBA season (when we have enough data and also the games still all matter), figure out the aggregate weighted PER of all the player on each team at that time, and look at the fraction of time the team with the higher PER wins. Then do the same with other statistics, such as weighted +/-.
I am assuming PER will be the best since Hollinger must have done something of this type to train his PER formula. But looking at HOW MUCH better it is than simpler +/- etc will tell us the extent to which we should trust him.
If anyone is game for helping with this kind of analysis, send me an email at ashishg-at-stanford-dot-edu .
“Matter of fact, when I was dribbling the ball, I looked at him and told him to be ready,” said Bryant. “I knew they were going to help (on) me, and he (could) step in and knock it down because he’s done it so many times before.”
(Kobe and I) made eye contact, and he said, ‘Be ready.’ At that point, I knew he was going to do enough to draw the defense in to kick (the ball to me where) I’d have a look at it, and sometimes when you lock in on the rim, you don’t even see anything else
This is why Fisher is still the starting PG. Kobe and Phil trust him to step up at crucial moments. Plus Fish and Kobe have been together so long that they lean on each other in crunch time.
Amen Chownoir. If I had him in crit writing 101 I’d hurl him through the window by his ankles
Plaschke is a frog.
Not necessarily my opinion, just paraphrasing you-know-who.
“Plaschke is a frog.
Not necessarily my opinion, just paraphrasing you-know-who.”
Craig W. says
You keep talking as if there is a statistical system we could develop that would give us definitive ways to evaluate players. I recognize from your background/interests that this would be a natural for your focus.
My problem is that there is an emotional/physical component to people that we are so far from understanding that these types of formulaic answers never provide a complete picture, not even close. First our measurements have to account for minute actions, taken at varying points in the game, resulting in no immediate advantage, but resulting in momentum change or other psychological impacts.
In other words, numbers can’t tell it all. We have to actually watch the game, record the game, and re watch the game to get the impact of player contributions.
The best analysis I have ever seen was a series of articles on Kobe’s high volume shooting (http://www.littlewhitestatistics.com/?cat=7) where they analyzed when Kobe took his shots in games.
Our fan analysis is simply not nuanced enough to yield the generalizations we make from things like PER.
The fact that no one from the Jazz will address this inexcusable taunting of Fisher makes me sick. I hope the Lakers thrash them soundly tonight.
I’m with Josh.
The game 4 preview and chat is up.
I very much doubt that there is a very accurate prediction system. I am working with some very large data sets right now in a social networking context, and human beings are complex objects.
What we CAN do is measure the accuracy to which a particular statistical system works. For example, are Hollinger’s numbers much better at predicting the outcome of a game than adding up the +/-? Most statisticians provide confidence intervals around their results. eg. “I developed a system for predicting how players are going to perform, and my system can predict game outcomes with 85% accuracy”. My worry with Hollinger’s data is that he touts his stats without making it very transparent how accurate/noisy they are in predicting the outcome of a game.
I think the insults aimed towards Fisher are absolutely classless. Classless acts by classless fans in a classless city. And they wonder why they’ve never won a title.