From Silver Screen and Roll: So, it’s been a long road since the onset of this season, and along that road much has occurred. Injuries, shooting slumps, hot streaks, team-wide lethargy. A plethora of things have happened. So, now, while we’re bored off our asses waiting to get back to basketball – I’m thankful for the rest to our players, but this break is mind-racking, and it is pathetic that simply due to TV contracts, a series where one contestant advanced well after we did starts before our series – it seems as good a time as any to look back at the members of this Los Angeles Laker squad and take a look at their progression (or regression) throughout the season. It shall certainly be an intriguing exercise to examine how individuals have performed in comparison to preseason expectations.
From Land O’ Lakers: Steve Nash is capable of putting the game on a string if allowed. Beyond the need for a solid team defensive scheme, one more strategy teams employ for controlling Nash is to make him work on the other side of the floor. It’s no secret the two time MVP isn’t a lockdown defender. Saturday at practice, Derek Fisher was asked if he would look to be aggressive offensively against Nash. Yes, Fish said, it’s important to put pressure on him, but he and teammates can’t get so wrapped up in running Phoenix’s PG they start making poor choices. That would take the Lakers out of their offense, and likely serve to fuel the Suns.
Practice Report from Land O’ Lakers (with video): After a week of waiting, players seem to be running out of answers to questions we’re running out of ways to ask. The rest has been welcome, no question. Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum got one more day each of much needed rest, for example. But at this point I’m fairly sure everyone just wants the games to start. I know I do.
From NBA Fanhouse: When Rudy Tomjanovich goes golfing now, all of his senses are in working order. He sees the lush fairways and greens, smells the grass, feels the sun, hears the peace and quiet that wasn’t on his course so many years ago. “I was so into the job that I rarely saw the other part of life, and I had some revelations that were shocking — like the fact that the weather in Houston was nice in the winter,” said Tomjanovich, whose 13-year coaching career with Houston and the Lakers ended in 2005.
From NBA Fanhouse: One day this summer, Derek Fisher might need to stop by Kinko’s and make all those decisions. What type of font does he want on his resumé? What tint of paper? Or maybe not. The Los Angeles Lakers point guard will be a free agent this summer. But he wants to stay where he is, and not have to send out any resumés. Talking to Fisher, you get the idea the chances are a lot higher he’ll be back if the Lakers win a second straight NBA crown.
From The No Look Pass: It was 2007. The Phoenix Suns eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round for the second year in a row. In the summer, Kobe Bryant infamously demanded a trade. The trade never happened. The Lakers are now appearing in their third consecutive Western Conference Finals. And guess who’s going against them? The last West team to eliminate them from the postseason: the same Suns. These two teams are completely different now. The Lakers are the top dogs in the NBA while the Suns have a different cast of characters now save for Amar’e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and Leandro Barbosa. This promises to be one hell of a series.
From Basket Blog: With L.A.’s health being among the few malleable things from practice-to-practice in a six-day span without games, Phil Jackson was asked by a reporter after Sunday’s session how his team was coming along from that standpoint. “We’re good,” he said. “We’re as good as can be.” Most notably, Jackson’s statement didn’t exclude Andrew Bynum, who did not participate on Sunday but suffered no setbacks from his run in Saturday’s practice.
From the OC Register: Phil Jackson has now won more playoff games with Kobe Bryant than with Michael Jordan. Jarring to hear, hard to believe … and inspiring to understand. That’s how much redemption we can find with people – even people who drive us crazy (as Kobe drove Phil) or people we think don’t give a crap about us (as Phil left Kobe thinking). Even on the sunny Southern California pier of paradise, thick icicles hung from their relationship. So Bryant and Jackson predictably parted ways in 2004, so sick of each other that neither cared enough even to bother breaking off the icicles to backstab.
From the OC Register: It’s easy to forget how young he is, partly because we’re always looking up to him – literally – and partly because his four-year contract pays him the same amount we’d earn only after working 725 years! Sorry, we’re probably not going to last that long, although these NBA playoffs just might. But then Andrew Bynum starts talking, and we’re reminded that, back in a different era, he’d only be nearing the end of his rookie season.
From the Los Angeles Times: Phoenix Suns series has plenty of intrigue, even for an NBA scout who is home for the summer with his family after a laborious season of games and travel. Game 1 of the Western Conference finals is Monday night at Staples Center, and this West scout said he’ll watch every game. “I would watch this series because it’s a matchup of two different styles,” the scout said. “It’s the three-point shooting and pace of play by the Suns and size and length of the Lakers.” The Suns are a fun team to watch play, perhaps even the most entertaining one.
From the Los Angeles Times: Finally, there will be a game. The Lakers haven’t played since completing a sweep of Utah a week ago, but the circumstances are more considerable, the results more weighty when they begin the Western Conference finals Monday against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. They’re four victories away from a 31st appearance in the NBA Finals, but they’ll get there only if Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum shake off knee injuries that have basically kept them off the practice court the last week.
From the Los Angeles Times: The Lakers huddled up at the end of practice Sunday with Coach Phil Jackson detailing the final game plan for the team’s upcoming Western Conference finals series against the Phoenix Suns. Lakers forward Lamar Odom described the contents of Jackson’s discussion as “nothing different than he usually says,” with forward Pau Gasol adding the conversation entailed a “little bit of both” strategy as well as how to mentally prepare for the Game 1 showdown on Monday. “We have a report and we talk about making sure you understand that,” Jackson said. “But the reality is reaction. It’s about getting yourself ready to react and play. You can do all the strategizing you want to do. If you can’t make the appropriate reactions, then you’re going to have trouble. We hope they feel that impulse tomorrow.”
From the Arizona Republic: During the seven-day break, Steve Nash went to the park. A 3-year old boy approached him with great curiosity. He wanted to know why a grown man was wearing a bandage on his face. Nash told the child that he bumped into someone’s elbow. “He said, ‘What’s his name?’ ” Nash said. “I said, ‘Tim.’ And then he ran away.” The reaction tickled Nash. Such indifference will be hard to find going forward.
From the Arizona Republic: Suns coach Alvin Gentry said the long layoff between the end of his club’s second-round sweep of the San Antonio Spurs and the start of the Western Conference finals against the Lakers might be a “blessing in disguise” for the Suns. Question is, are the Lakers benefiting from an equally well-disguised blessing?
From the New York Times: If eight days off before the start of the Western Conference finals on Monday seemed interminable, then leave it to the Lakers, who if they are not always able to provide drama never fail to deliver a story line. So, moments after Los Angeles had polished off undersize and undermanned Utah in four games, Kobe Bryant sneered when asked if he was looking forward to the next morsel on his team’s plate — the Phoenix Suns, another undersize if not undermanned team the Lakers feast on. “What do you think?” Bryant hissed. “You already know the answer.”
From ESPN.com: After a six-day layoff, the Lakers are finally set to start their series with the Suns. Coach Phil Jackson said that squaring off against some unfamiliar faces would be a welcome sight after the intense amount of intrasquad scrimmages caused things to “get a little bit feisty” during the time in between series. “We had some decompression,” Jackson said. “We have to build the pressure up again to meet the expectations of an opponent that’s geared up and ready to go.”
From Yahoo! Sports: Kobe Bryant has barely touched a basketball in a week, giving his gimpy ankle and arthritic finger time to heal. That purplish, jagged gouge over Steve Nash’s right eye also should be one week less ghastly by tipoff time in the Western Conference finals. Although both stars play a beautiful game, Bryant and Nash realize postseason basketball is rarely pretty, and they wouldn’t expect to escape the postseason without a few ugly souvenirs of the playoff grind. After both teams got a week off to rest and recalibrate, the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers will attempt to reach their third straight NBA finals when they take on the Phoenix Suns, starting in Game 1 on Monday night.
From TIME: After the Los Angeles City Council passed legislation banning the city from doing any further business with the state of Arizona because of its new law targeting illegal immigration, some Los Angelinos are hoping that the Los Angeles Lakers will get behind the cause. In a bit of serendipitous timing, the Lakers are about to face an Arizona team, the Phoenix Suns, in the NBA Western Conference Finals, starting Monday. Obviously, it would be absurd to expect the Lakers to boycott their series with the Suns. But as the representatives of an area with the largest Hispanic population in the country, could the Lakers take some kind of stance, symbolic or otherwise, against a law that the NBA Players Association has already called “disturbing?” Especially after the government of the city it represents has passed a bold measure? “The Lakers are critical to continuing the momentum,” says Los Angeles City Council member Jose Huizar, who moved to the U.S. from Mexico when he was four years old.
Can anyone tell us what the gist of Hollinger’s article today? It’s called “Do Suns stand a chance against L.A.?”. Also, who does Hollinger say is LeBron’s perfect sidekick?
Joel B. says
Espn reported kobe hasn’t practiced since the last round and had a significant amount of fluid drained from his swollen knee???
I’m very excited for this series which I believe will be a Laker romp. Although, I am concerned about reports of Bynum’s knee getting worse. I don’t however agree with J Van Gundy’s statements that Bynum should get surgery or should have gotton surgery. He is basing this off of Roy’s quick return. But he leaves out the fact that Roy was borderline ineffective that series and that Bynum because of his size is likely to put much more strain on any repairs and thus potentially could require a longer recovery period.
At this point I am hoping for a short series or at the very least strategic use of Bynum’s minutes. My gut feeling is we will need him much more in the championship than this round.
Although I find it difficult to read Hollinger, I skimmed both articles. In one, he said the Suns have the right amount of size and offensive weapons to come out on top of that series. In the other, he said Bosh was the perfect teammate for LBJ with Dirk, Amare, David Lee and Carlos Boozer all trailing close behind.
latimes reporting kobe’s knee was drained of fluid.
anybody know if this will impact his game?
standard Hollinger stuff. The suns are a better team due to point differential and the Lakers’ wins in the regular season don’t mean much because the suns weren’t the same team.
It must be pointed out the Hollinger pretty much always finds reasons to hype up the Suns or Jazz every year and we’re still waiting for that pan out.
Hollinger time and time again fails to account for fact that in the NBA match ups matter a great deal.
I read today that Kobe had fluid drained from his knee. Anyone know anything about that in particular or that procedure in general? How common is it? Is it severe? Sounds pretty crazy to me.
Craig W. says
Lebron perfect sidekick is Joe Johnson in Chicago – trade Dang
In my world Lebron’s perfect side kick is beret and one of those long cigarette things. That guy can pack up his bag and go play in Europe for all I care.
The fluid draining is nothing to be concerned about. It’s typical of people who have arthritis or have had torn ligaments in their knee. Fluid builds up in the knee and is drained to relieve pressure and pain.
Kobe not practicing much is just a result of him resting his body. We shouldn’t expect anything from this week to affect his game in a negative way. His timing may be a bit off, but everyone’s will as neither team has played in almost a week.
just a note, fwiw, to those who give no credence to Hollinger’s.. um.. credentials. he still leads the TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown (his only miss so far: Cavs over Celts; but didn’t nearly everyone) (and yes, he picked Ls over Jazz).
Joel B. says
John Ireland talked about the report on Kobe’s knee and he basically said its nothing new and the week of rest helped. It doesn’t sound like anything to worry about because he didn’t indicate the knee is worse then it was when the playoffs started and said it shouldn’t affect his game.
Re: 4 Jeremy
What bothers me most is that *eventually* he’ll get one right and proclaim himself to have been right the entire time.
Last post-season, after the first round, he announced: “welcome to the Cleveland invitational!”. Then, throughout the regular season he belittled the Lakers accomplishment by constantly uttering the words: “I’ll always believe Cleveland was the best team in basketball last season.”
So far this season, he jumped the gun again proclaiming Orlando was invincible.
He contradicts himself constantly. Earlier this season, he said Shaq clogging the middle was not an issue for the Cavs because Lebron would find a way to make it work.
Now in his analysis, one of the key points that he mentions is that Lebron’s future sidekick cannot clog the middle for him.
.I only wish there was a way to hold these people accountable for what they say. At least with Simmons, you know you’re reading a comedy piece so even if he pisses you off it’s ok.
Hollinger on the other hand takes himself so seriously, that his smug attitude towards his commentors is all that more unnerving.
I like Hollinger… but he should take some other things into consideration besides his numbers because…
Do these advances stats take into account the Lakers were playing without Bynum for the last month of the regular season and also mainly without Kobe as well because of injuries? Do they take into account match ups? Do they take into account home court advantage? I think advanced stats are good when grading regular season performances by teams… but in no way can it be a good tool for predicting playoff outcomes because if the stats had the Lakers beating OKC in the first round but Kobe and Bynum were in street clothes I probably would bet on the Thunder. I am confused how educated men can pick a series based strongly on regular season stats. I don’t even base my predictions on regular season records. I bet based on match ups and home court advantage… hence why I picked the Spurs over the Mavs, the Celtics over the Cavs, and would have picked the Magic over the Cavs. How a team matched up with 29 teams in the regular season has very little to do with how a team matches up with one team for 7 games. Jon has to know the match ups… and he has to know how the regular season stats have been skewed. Hollinger knows his stats and knows his basketball… but occasionally he shouldn’t let his stats get in the way of his basketball.
just a note, fwiw, to those who give no credence to Hollinger’s.. um.. credentials – oh wait, I already posted that. hi, gxs! : )
Gil Meriken says
@Phillip – Draining the knee should not affect Kobe in this playoffs, but it definitely is not good news long term, as it is only a temporary fix to a larger problem – namely, overuse of the knee … Here’s to hoping Kobe rests his knee this off-season, as continuous draining of the knee only relieves the symptoms but does not eliminate the source of the swelling.
I’m not going to go too far down this road but Hollinger’s approach has flaws.
Just for a start he bases much of his analysis on the his power rankings which look at point differential (nothing wrong with this). However this depends entirely on the premise that having a cut off of one regular season is correct. Why is this so? He doesn’t say. The only reason for using an 82 game season as opposed to a rolling 100 games or 2 seasons or 40 games is for journalistic reasons.
Thus a team like the Lakers who for the most part has been together for 3 years and consistently played at a high level looks inferior to the latest “hot” team like say phoenix who starts playing well the last 3rd of the season.
Now maybe we should only look at 30 games or so but he doesn’t do that consistently.
There are so many faults really. As GSX mentioned he is inconsistent about the use of the injury excuse to the point where the beginning on the Phoenix season is dismissed but the Lakers obvious slow down due to rest/injury concerns is not used.
I’m not trying to argue that he is not a good journalist who consistently can provide interesting material. However it’s important to realize that like everyone he has a bias and is not fool proof (again like everyone)
it would be fair to ask (Hollinger): in your final rankings for the reg. season you had the Jazz ranked at 4 and the Lakers at 10. so how could you possibly pick the Lakers to win that series?
I don’t know if he’s answered this question, as I don’t subscribe to Insiders, but he must make his picks, in the event, based on injuries (Okur and AK-47), matchups (Williams vs. Fish : ), and (gulp) hunches. just like the rest of us. (discounting homerism)
Hollinger also is the king of making double predictions. For example in the Utah vs. Lakers series. He picked the Lakers to win for the stat geek thing. But earlier on in one of his original playoff preview articles he took Utah to beat the Lakers in the 2nd round. So no matter who won that series he would have “got it right”. I’m pretty sure he pulled the same thing in the same matchup (Utah vs. LA) either last year or the year before also. His stat metrics ALWAYS love Utah and he always has to backpeddle off of that somehow.
Anyways, it goes without saying that Hollinger would be cheering hard for Phoenix and Orlando. He needs Orlando to win the title as a validation of his point differential theory. Having the Lakers (t-6th best point differential) vs. the Celtics (9th best point differential, barely above OKC) in the finals would not only greatly damage his theories on the NBA, it would force him to cheer for the Lakers in a series, something I don’t think he’s done since 2006.
One point that has to be mentioned for the upcoming Phoenix vs. LA series that I don’t think Hollinger even managed to touch on. The early games where we blew out Phoenix were not just early in the year where the schedule makers apparently had a grudge against Phoenix (seems like they spent the entire first 2 months on the road), they were 2nd games of back-to-backs, at the tail end of even more extended game stretches. You can’t take those results at face value.
I also hated how not just Hollinger but the whole national media isn’t giving Artest credit for some of the Suns’ offensive struggles. Richardson has had a string of bad games against the Lakers and nobody wants to give Ron even a LITTLE credit for that? Disappointing.
John Morris says
Duh! Duh! Duh!Duh!Duh! Duh! GAMEDAY!
Craig W. says
Exactly why do we need anyone to respect the Lakers? Will it make the series any closer? Will it make a difference in who wins?
The Lakers have made it to 30 NBA finals. That is enough to make anyone jealous.
I don’t mind detailing where these experts (a drip under pressure) are faulty in their logic, but I really don’t let any of this get under my skin.
I want to celebrate a Laker win, not cheer because Hollinger is proven wrong.
The game 1 preview and chat is up.