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.