So much for rust.
After both the Lakers and the Suns had a week off, one would have thought that maybe the offenses would have suffered. That maybe it would take some time for both teams for find their rhythm. That both teams might struggle to make some shots. Uhh, not so much. This game was an offensive duel and the Lakers were able to put the ball in the basket in a way that they haven’t all post season and took out the Suns 128-107 to take a one game to nil series lead in the Western Conference Finals.
And since the game was all about offense, you would have thought that the Suns would have the upper hand. After all, they are the team with the top ranked offense; the team with the nearly unguardable P&R; the team that has the all world point guard, the hammer of a PF, and shooters flanking them on all sides. And while Nash, Amar’e, and Richardson had good games, the story on offense wasn’t about those players.
The story on offense was how the Lakers played. The story was the effectiveness of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol (and Lamar Odom off the bench – but more on him in a bit). Much like game 4 of the Utah series, Kobe and Pau combined for big numbers and paced the Lakers on offense the entire evening. On the night the Lakers had an offensive efficiency of 137.8 and if that number doesn’t astound you, I don’t know what will.
Leading up to this game, the big story was how Kobe’s knee was acting up again and that in recent days he had to have it drained of fluid. Well, tonight you couldn’t tell there was a problem at all as Kobe went wild with 40 points on only 23 shots. He made 11 of his 12 free throw attempts and half of his 6 three pointers. The man was simply on fire and regardless of what Sun tried to defend him, Kobe picked his pots, found his range on his jumper and could not be stopped. Kobe truly exploded in the third quarter by scoring 21 points in the period and was the catalyst behind the Lakers run that created the gap that the Suns would not be able to overcome for the rest of the evening. And just to show that he wasn’t just all about scoring the ball, he chipped in 5 rebounds and 5 assists for good measure. After the game Phil talked about how even though Kobe wasn’t practicing in the week between the end of the Jazz series and the beginning of the WCF, Kobe was still getting in all of his shooting practice and was getting his mental reps on how to attack the Suns. I think it’s safe to say that, tonight, it showed.
And then there was Gasol. For months now, Pau has been playing tremendous basketball and tonight was no exception. Pau made 10 of his 13 shot attempts, scoring 21 points in a myriad of ways – all of them looking easier than what they actually were. Whether he was beating the shot clock by sinking a contested jumper or gathering in a lob and then shooting a pretty turnaround jumper while falling on his back, Pau was supreme on offense. He always looked in control and seemed especially determined to attack when he got the ball in his hands. His favorite player to battle against was Channing Frye as Pau went to work on the Suns sharp shooting big man and attacked him relentlessly whenever they were matched up. Much like Shaq used to do in playoff series past, it looked like Pau understood the best way to slow down the offense of the Suns’ key reserve was to make him work on defense and Pau succeeded by going at him all night (Frye only shot 1-7 from three and missed his only 2 point attempt as well).
But while Kobe got 40 and Pau only missed three times, the true big time performance came from Odom. After the game LO said that he’d had a tough first two rounds of the playoffs but that during the break he had a chance to work on his individual offensive game and that tonight he was going to be aggressive and not let the game come to him. Well, his post game summary is exactly what we saw as our lanky lefty was active from the moment he got on the court – instantly making things happen on offense by making a short shot from in the paint and then a three pointer within 90 seconds of checking in half way through the first period. All night Odom attacked off the dribble, leaving the Suns bigs trailing him as he extended his long left arm for easy shot after easy shot. He totaled 15 points in the first half, got 19 for the game and for good measure grabbed a team high 19 rebounds as well (including 7 offensive). If Odom can perform even close to as well as he did tonight in the rest of the games of this series, the Suns are truly going to struggle to defend the Lakers.
But even though this game was all about offense from both sides (Phoenix also did well for itself with a 113.8 off. rating) I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Lakers did do some good things on defense tonight. Even though Amar’e made 8 of his 13 shots and scored 23 points, more than half his makes came from outside the paint on jumpers. Plus, on the evening the Suns only shot 5-22 (22.7%) from behind the arc and recorded only 4 fast break points. And then on the Suns P&R, the Lakers guards (especially Fisher) fought through screens and rode Nash away from his sweet spots while every Laker defender had active hands in the passing lanes forcing bad passes and causing deflections when the Suns tried to thread the needle to cutters and spot up players on the wing. Granted the Suns still scored the ball well and shot a good percentage from the floor, but the Lakers disrupted their sets more frequently than any opponent has so far these playoffs. And while the Suns will surely look to make adjustments, it was good to see the Lakers execute their defensive plan and make the Suns miss from deep and while also forcing them to rely on a lot of long made two point jumpers to sustain their offense.
So for the third time in three post season series the Lakers take a 1-0 lead. And they now get to see if they can extend Phil Jackson’s streak of 46 straight series wins (with zero losses) when winning the first game. Surely, the future games will be more difficult but in this game the Lakers again showed that their combination of length, agility, and skill are a tough combination to overcome. Phoenix will definitely need to find a way to crack the code of the Lakers’ long arms and quick feet if they’re to win game two. And the Lakers are going to need to be ready for cleaner offensive sets from the Suns and subtle tweaks to their offense to get their players the looks that they want. That said, if the Suns don’t find a way to slow down Kobe and Pau while also containing a suddenly alive Odom, none of it may matter.
Suns in 6
/Stein, Hollinger, Suns blogger
Yea I think they meant the first 6 minutes of the game.
Too bad games are 48.
LO makes the Lakers really special, because he is so versatile. What a luxury to have him come off the bench! It’s almost like when Bynum picks up two quick fouls, the Lakers fans actually get giddy knowing that LO can come in and dominate like this. Sure, he has his ups and downs, but we rarely miss his downs that much because Pau is so consistent, and Bynum delivers once in awhile, too. As someone mentioned, as long as two of our 3 bigs play well, the Lakers are tough to beat. When all three play well, we bring out the broom.
It’s a good day to be Laker fan, but I think better days have yet to come.
Did Bynum play well? I asked this in the other thread, with little response, but since I only saw the end of the 3rd and the 4th Q’s I never really got to see Bynum play. Was he timid at all on that knee? How was his O and D? Thats 3 stinker stat lines in a row for him…
“Show me the teeth.” is what I kept screaming throughout the game. Kobe’s will to win is the backbone of this team, and he is so focused on making adjustments and leading this team to the next victory and the next. This is a stronger team than 08 and 09. It is a veteran team in the best sense of the word. Great unity of spirit, that’s great double meaning of “playing for the ring.” An inner goal and an outer goal. “Show me the teeth, Kobe, show me the teeth.”
no. He was very slow and tenative. missed 2 bunnies from 2 feet and lost Lopex a couple of times.
He is really slow right now and is wrong aganist this team.
LO was really good with 19 boards and going to the hole.
I feel andrew should be rested in hopes he will be stronger for the finals.
Drew played less than 20, and I doubt its going to go much higher than that in this series.
Darius, 7 more like that?
My post on the 16th. i guess this makes me the Newport Beach Hollinger!
Looks like the Sun is getting real hot in the desert.
Richardson is really good when left open to shoot. I am sure Phil knows that and puts Ron on him. Not good for Rich.
Also means Kobe on Hill and not good for him.
I see no one stopping Kobe or Pau. They will have double on them which means lots of open shots.
Lakers are not a care unit Blazer team or a too old to play 3 series Spurs team.
One of my companies is in Az so I have the kitchen sink on this series. I am 100% sure barring new injuries that we beat the setting Suns with or without help from Andrew.
You can take that to the bank! Bring on the mean green machine!
We’ll give this one to the Candyman…cross another one off the mirror boys and girls, 7 to go.
Enjoy this one.
This series is much better suited for Odom than Bynum, with his better P&R defense and being quicker in general. Sure, It’s great to have a big body in Bynum but we’d only need him for Lopez in this series, to be honest. He should rest up for the Finals. =]
It’s going to really mess with the Suns heads when PJ gets a standing O from the Phoenix crowd on Sunday.
Phil is a genius. 🙂
7 more like that is a bit too much to ask for Odom. 3 is really stretching it, but against the Suns, he just might.
Off topic, but anyone know what it means to have fluid drained from your knee? An ounce? What fluid are we talking about here?
It sounds worse than boxers cutting their bruises to let blood out so that they can see…
*never mind, just googled it; depending on where, it could’ve either been a wound or arthritis…
Travis Y. says
This series goes to show you how great the Thunder were defensively.
Credit goes to Lamar, who looks like he has nursed his wounds and had a pep in his step tonight. His game reminded me of the Orlando series game 5 last year. When he’s hitting his 3-pointers and driving to the lane our team jumps to another level.
Series is not over after one game. Nash didn’t play the entire 4th quarter and is bound for at least one big game in Phoenix.
I loved our defense against the PNR. Active hands, using our length, switching and just daring Stoudamire to face two bigs in the paint.
Credit to Artest for hitting some easy jumpers and containing Richardson, who was hot to start the game. If he scores less than 20 we have a good chance of winning the game.
This is just a great matchup for us b/c they don’t have a legit defender on Kobe, a dominant post player, or a great team defensive scheme.
One game at a time, don’t even think about the East.
The problem with teams trying to out-offense the Lakers, is that LA’s quality of play is predicated on momentum. It’s easy for us to get into a rut (post All-Star season) and it’s easy for us to hit a spark and ignite (post OKC series). So while a team like Phoenix may have an overall better offensive rating throughout the course of an entire season, if you don’t play defense, the Lakers have the best offense in the league by far.
Giving Odom and Bynum easy baskets will just fire up our bench, which will give them confidence, which will make them play fearless basketball. Gasol dunking and Artest driving will get Kobe cheering and yelling and giving him room to explode like he did in the 3rd quarter.
You can’t get into an offensive duel with the Lakers. They have overwhelming weapons at virtually every position and they’ll bury you inside of a quarter and then have the energy to defend what you have left. You best bet is to play hard-nosed defense and get LA to over-think and second-guess themselves. That will lead to bad shot selection, transition baskets, and a deflated bench. If you don’t put LA in a slump early, you’re done for. Hence…
Lakers in 5.
Congatulations Lakers, on dismantling/blowing out/taking down and out hard, the Phoenix Suns in the 1st game of the WCF, keep it up, you too LO. I do not think this game was a fluke and that the Suns can match up with us, ever this Post Season, it is just like the Regular Season as far as I am concerned, we own them.
I know it’s only 1 game, but I really can’t resist since i’ve been following the blog and comments all year:
Imagine if we actually had a good point guard.
Remember when this Laker team wasn’t going to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers because the Cavs were the best team in the league, especially after the trade.
Imagine how much better we would be if Pau and LO weren’t so soft.
I wish Phil Jackson would actually do some coaching this year. (Especially now that G. Pop is the best coach in the league).
@ ray 🙂
You are so on point. Its not like this team has been flipping a switch, its just slowly improving, and its build for now.
I love how Fish has been playing through out the playoffs.
Pau Gasol is really special. I wish he got more credit. Kobe was amazing – but he gets his share of the limelight.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more skilled big man. (Note: that doesn’t mean a better big man, or a more dominant one).
This guy hits midrage jumpers; this guy switches hands in the middle of his move and finishes with his left hand like nothing. And that no look pass to Kobe? That was just f****** sick. He’s just so technically sound: the spin moves, the hook shots, the footwork..freakin amazing.
And Kobe? goddamn Kobe just frustrates players. Grant Hill got a technical!!! Haha, I don’t think people realize how unlike him that was. It’s even nicer to see Kobe do this well in spite of all the personal attacks. Today’s latest was from Henry Abbot (surprise)-“Yet another parallel between Kobe and Jordan – Jordan also had his knee drained….in Washington” (paraphrased).
The implication there is disgusting.
Anyway, props to all the Lakers and here’s to 7 more!!
I was a bit uneasy, unsure of what to expect and who may decide to show up from our guys tonight (apart from Pau of course) but oh, boy, that felt good to open the series in such a fashion. I haven’t seen Kobe with the that much zip in his stride for a while and driving to the hoop for and ones – imagine what a summer off could do for him…This series are far from over as tonight we had a few breaks from the refs (the fouls on Grant were a bit too much for much taste), Phoenix’s impotency from the three point and Nash not being quite himself (by his standards). Nevertheless, even when during the next several games our shooting is not as hot as tonight’s, Lamar scores 5 points and Sasha makes another ‘It wasn’t me’ face after fouling a three pointer shooter, the impression that I have from tonight is that we will be ok. What worries me though is as well as we played tonight we might not still be ready to face the Celtics but for now relishing in a opener beating should sugar sweet enough for while for most of us.
Renato Afonso says
Maybe Bynum should’ve had the surgery after all… He could miss the entire Utah series and If LO plays plike this, he could even miss these series as well…
However, game 2 will be the most important. Scoring will certainly be lower and the Suns will do all that they can to stop us. I predict a 3-point game…
cheif youngblood says
what was the deal with adam morrison , were he at?
>what was the deal with adam morrison
with everyone else healthy, he didn’t suit up.
a couple things to keep an eye on..
– Suns shot 32 FT to Ls 24
– Ron continued his abysmal 3pt efforts, 1-5
LO is most crucial to this series because of his rebounding. The bigs are constantly out of rebounding position due to the P&R, which is a big problem for Gasol and Bynum who rely on positioning for a lot of their rebounding. Odom on the other hand never gets good rebounding position but is just naturally better at tracking down the ball, so the rebounding match-ups play right into his strengths.
what a great game that was! i really think that if shannon finished that dunk over j-rich, it probably would´ve been the dunk of the playoffs :
there really is nothing more to add except that i think that ron can do a better job vs richardson the next game and that i loved how hard fisher tried to go over the screens.
3 more to go (or, as hollinger calls it: a hard fought series where we will inevitably lose in 6 because the stats say so!!!)
just trivial matter, how many technicals does kobe have? does the suspension for a certain number (15?) of techs apply in the playoffs?
seven more please
RC FROM TEXAS says
I think we need to start really appreciating KOBE. We may never seen a player like him play for this team again. And I know Kobe has maybe 4 or 5 more good years ahead but he is truly remarkable to watch. I am only 22 years old so I really could not appreciate watching MJ but I will take watching Kobe over anybody. He has not weakness in his game. He can make any shot in the book and he might be the best post player in the NBA. Kobe is an assasin and will go for your heart everytime. I truly am fortunate to be able to watch KOBE play. I will be telling my grandchildren about KOBE. There was a man and his name was KOBE…… and somebody go tell Grant Hill his ankles are still on the court.
I liked what I saw Fisher do a few times to mess up the timing between Amare and Nash. If the developing pick and roll was set inside the arc, coming around the pick he’d just stop and lean on Amare while Amare was trying to dive to the hoop. Fish would just hold his hands up, keep his body on Amare and force Amare to walk him into the paint.
Meanwhile the flashing big would step out just enough to slow Nash down but also know that the wall was behind him already since Nash was deep enough there wasn’t a lot of room to roam and cause havoc.
That usually caused Phx to have to reset their play. Of course part of this was helped by Amare’s indifference. He really didn’t dive hard to paint and try to get around Fish when this happened.
Just a great overall game by Lakers.
John Morris says
That’s the kind of game I’ve been waiting to see from the Lakers all year. They looked unstoppable last night. When Kobe & Pau score so efficiently for the Lakeshow they are tough to beat.
Brian M says
The Suns are an awful defensive team, and that is one thing to keep in mind while we heap this praise on the Lakers.
Sure, the Lakers played their best game of these 2010 playoffs last night but let’s not forget that the Suns allowed approximately 105 PPG during the regular season. Before this series started, I said that if the Lakers can average at least 110 PPG this series (including last night’s game that should be very easy), they will win.
So far, so good.
Also, one other thing to keep in mind. Unlike past games against the Suns, the Lakers didn’t attempt that many more shots. I believe they averaged 84 FGA/game and shot, what, 88 last night? They were extremely EXTREMELY efficient on offense and that was a joy to watch.
P.S. Nash STILL carries the ball 😉
Craig W. says
What all the Fish bashers don’t understand it that Fish really fits this team. He wouldn’t be starting on any other team in the NBA, but he starts here. This is not because we have such bad point guards, but because he fits the combination of our system, our athletic front, our personality of front-court finesse. Fish’s savvy and toughness is what the rest of our starters need to compliment what they do best.
Most teams struggle to have one person who wants to take the last shot and can make it, we have two – not only two, but one is the best in the game and the other will defer to #1 unless needed. There just isn’t a combination like that elsewhere in the league.
Fish is what this team needs.
So, what will Odom’s numbers be on Wednesday? As was noted by Darius, myself and others in the “X-factors” post, when Odom plays like that, the Lakers almost never lose. Add that to Pau and Kobe hitting, you get 128-107.
I remain opposed to having Bynum play through this injury. I don’t think it is helping him or the team. If the team does make the Finals, I do allow for the possibility that even a a gimpy Bynum will help.
I think ray was being sarcastic to make fun of all of the negative comments all year.
@ Rc from texas. You are right we may NEVER see another player like Kobe in years!!
@ Laker fans.
Yes I’m back. I must say after taking a few weeks off from the board-the tone is highly optimistic, unlike before. So I will be the one to remind you (fans) of a few points that I stressed when we weren’t so hot.
#1. Many of you bashed Fish for his lack of horrible play. Well yes he’s old. But far as I know Oldddd guys still know how to brang it when the time comes. Sure we may need a new pg next year–but this guy still has the fight that wins rings. Recognize.
#2. Bynum is not going to be the difference maker in the playoffs. He sure can make life easier–but not the dm. I hope to see him get surgery on that knee in the off season.
#3. We need Pau to play great to win!. Pau has always been really good and consistent. But in order for us to win a bring he must play great. So that means besides the 20/20 games he has to be a force on defense and a presence in the paint. He MUST play tough. He should give nobody a reason to call him soft. They are only call ’em as they see ’em. He needs to raise the level of his play to 20pts, 15boards, and 5blks, no turnovers. Now that is the Pau i’m waiting on.
#4 You asked “where was the Mamba, right?” I always knew where he was-you should have too.
#5. Phil is a lazy coach. But when you’re as good as he is-you can do that.
#6. Lamar will never be what you want him to be. He will ALWAYS play up and down games as long as he’s in the triangle offense.
#7. Sasha is not needed to win a ring!
#8 The bench can surely help us win a ring, but collectively they won’t. LO will make a great difference so will Shannon Brown. And we may see a three or so from Farmer worthy of conversation-but nothing more.
#9. Lebron is not better than Kobe. Kobe has proven that it’s not just scoring that makes you the best. It’s heart and determinaion also. Kobe will never quit-like Lebron did. And only reason he quit was because he knew they were going fishing for the summer and couldn’t handle it. So he (Lebron) prentended to not care-but say he care-but show a look like I don’t care- just to confuse people. But the truth is-he cared a whole lot! He wanted to out-do Kobe and couldn’t even get to the finals.
Again, Kobe is the BEST PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE!
#1 PLEASE RESPECT KOBE BRYANT. He has his off days. He sometimes tries to do too much.. But he’s a winner! He’s the reason we made it this far and the reason we go to the finals again. Don’t harp over dudes mistakes-he’s human. But he’s the BEST and we have him–enjoy while it lasts!! Respect
I’m concerned about Bynum and have no idea what the best decision is, hopefully the Lakers do. If after a week off this is indicative of where he is at then that’s a problem. Not in this series but in the finals where he will be needed. I’m hoping that the suns style is just a bad fit for Drew or that he just did not get going, Lamar did and that was that.
I don’t think surgery now is an option, as I said in another thread people or looking at the Roy’s early comeback as the new rule but he has a different body type and was still not effective that series
Suns shoot over 50%, Nash gets 13 dimes, Amare’s 7 for 9, their “big,” Robin Lopez is in double-figures, and the Suns only get within 30 pts due to garbage-time production?!? There isn’t a snowball’s chance in Phoenix that the Suns win 4 games, unless…
Game 2 is a total trap game, and last night’s beatdown has me nervous that complacency may set it. It is clear we have the personnel and game plan to easily dispatch the Suns, but we still need to execute. Here’s hoping for more Kobe-scowl-intensity in Game 2!
RE Bynum: He played exactly how we needed him to play. He’s obviously not healthy, but besides his lumbering gait, he’s doing fine. He was a presence in the defensive paint, got a couple of dunks, and used his size effectively on both ends. I know many will point to that missed lay in, but I’ll live with some of those if he can give us 20 quality minutes. Last night he gave us 19 – right on target.
I’m not sure why you even brought up Gasol in way that isn’t 100% in favor of the way that he’s playing. Pau’s been our most consistent performer for the past 2 months. Kobe’s tremendous, but his run of excellent play started in game 5 of the OKC series. Pau’s been playing top level ball since the start of March (before that really, but his game has gone up a notch in that time).
Also, we get it – you like Kobe. We all like Kobe. But can’t we leave the Kobe/Lebron talk alone? And that’s not just referencing you, but everyone. They’re both tremendous players. I’m glad one of them plays for our team and I’m glad it’s Kobe.
26: Players all start with a clean slate for technicals in the playoffs. IIRC the playoff limit before a suspension is 7.
I’m actually not sure how many Kobe has, though I recall that he came fairly close in the playoffs last season.
The Suns are certainly going to try harder on D than this embarrassing effort going forward, and we probably can’t count on Kobe always being able to carry the team (or Odom dominating every night for us like in Game 1).
I generally like how Fish fought through screens and we squeezed Nash on the P&R (despite a few miscues with Robin Lopez and Bynum being generally ineffective in the 2nd half, leading to wide open jumpers for Apostrophe). So long as we keep harrassing their shooters (and Artest clamps down harder on Richardson), I expect us to weather the Suns’ comeback attempt in Game 2 and take full control of the series heading into PHX.
I like having Bynum play through the pain. I think it’s the right call. Especially in this situation where no further structural damage can be made and playing against teams where there’s a higher margin for error with the size advantage.
Bynum needs court time and learning experience. This is a good lesson for him in knowing how to play through the pain and being effective despite not having full range of motions.
Besides one of the complaints about Bynum before was he relied too much on his size and reach. This will be an opportunity for him to get back to his fundamentals, to box out and get into the right position where he can maximize his height and bulk.
Lots of people have been citing Roy coming back so quickly. But did anyone really pay attention to how he did? After the initial adrenaline rush of the first game, Roy was pretty ineffective. I thought Portland was actually worst off when he came back. They didn’t know how to adjust for a limited Roy. They were expecting the regular Roy.
Bynum playing through pain is good. He’s learning to adjust. The team is learning what they can expect from him. All the people complaining about his stat line last night sound like the same people who also complain about how Hollinger puts too much emphasis on stats.
Watch the game! Sure he wasn’t dominating. But Bynum made his presence felt. He took up space and made Phx work. He commanded a double team from Phx a couple of times opening things up for other players. He’s also actively looking for teammates when he’s doubled. He saw Pau open under the basket and just missed the pass bouncing it off Pau’s leg.
But the point is he saw it and tried it. He’s adjusting and learning. This can only help down the road.
As to G2 being a ‘trap’ game: obviously, it is almost certain the game will be much closer. The Suns will knock down more triples and and the Lakers won’t shoot 58% again. Odom is the key, IMO.
Bynum? We will see. But I don’t think he helped much last night.
RC FROM TEXAS says
ESPN BREAKING NEWS!!!!!
Detectives have just found Grant Hills ankles…..
they were found at Duke University and this just in
HE STILL CANNOT GUARD KOBE!!!!!!
Dudes….Its just one game! Your talking like the series is over! Congrats to the W, but you still have to come 2 PHX!
Did anyone catch Vanessa Bryant’s wearing a “Do I look Illegal?” T-Shirt at the end of the telecast? Nice little jab at AZ right there, and now we know where Kobe and the fam stands on the issue.
EDIT – and it looks like Kurt mentioned it on his blog. He’s always one step ahead that guy 🙂
we really only need Bynum for the finals. He’s not going to be that effective against a team that spreads the floor this well.
Ron played pretty well I thought. A lot of those 3’s were basically shots he had to take with the clock running down. He was 5-9 on 2pt FG’s. Not bad.
Fish playing D this well is more of a factor than any shortcomings from Bynum or Ron. He was the difference maker in sweeping the Jazz. 7 more games like that from Fish and we have title 16.
Funky Chicken says
Well, it might only be one game, but I think last night pretty much settles the issue I was asking about earlier in the week. All the hype about the Suns improved defense was just that. Hype.
I watched this game very carefully, looking for some evidence of improved defense, and I didn’t see anything that would support this argument. The Lakers played very well at times, but the score was not the result of a stellar offensive game. The score was the result of what has to be one of the worst defensive teams to make the conference finals in a long time. How many layups did the Lakers get? And this, without much of anything from Andrew?
What we saw last night is why I thought that this series would be over in 5 (and why I now think that might be too generous to Phx). The Suns are just a very bad defensive team. Even if your rotations are slow, where is the effort? Where is the toughness? Gasol, Bynum and Odom shot ONE FREE THROW between them. Throw in Artest, who bullied his way into the post against a smaller defender and the Lakers four biggest guys shot 3 total free throws. You can’t let a team dominate you in the paint and not send them to the line. But that’s the problem with Amare. He is so worried about getting in foul trouble that he basically plays no defense. His effort when Lamar took him off the dribble from the top of the key was indicative of the whole team’s effort.
So, here’s my new concern (gotta have something to worry about): this is the first opponent in the playoffs that will do virtually nothing to prepare the Lakers for their next opponent. Even if Orlando gets through, they are a MUCH better defensive team, and play a much more physical style than the Suns. And if it is Boston, well, our guys are going to be in for some serious shock in game 1 (the way Orlando was in their game 1 against the Celts).
Morning links are up.
Check out the look on Kobe’s face in the last picture. When you get that reaction from Kobe you know you did something crazy.
Please don’t take mistake my appreciation for perhaps the second greatest baskeball player ever (Jordan #1)as “like”. By far better words would be, respect, admire, appreciate, value, and ummm I could go on. I am just not complacent with his play. I recognize wholly after nearly 30 years of basketball that if without Kareem, Magic, West, or Kobe we would not have the rings we do-thus not have the arrogance we dispense.
As for as Lebron and the Kobe thang-of course I mentioned it. (Is that what not the blog is meant for-to mention basketball issues that’s on our minds?). It stands to be mentioned as the media tends to forget and has put Lebron ahead of our guy as if he’s King Brons footstool. As a Laker fan I take offense. I believe Kobe needs to have his due respect in the leauge the same way I saw the leauge respect West, Kareem, Magic, Jordan, Shaq, and now Lebron.
And as for Pau. Don’t get me wrong. I really “like” the guy’s play. We have no ring without him. But with that said, he still has to raise the level of his play to INTENSE such as (Kevin Garnett, Shaq of the past, Olajuwan, Ewing, David Robinson, etc.) the great big men. Those guys always played “good” but to win rings they know it takes “great” play.
So Pau’s 20pts, 10 boards games are not enough. We need him to be a beast in the paint blocking shots and tougher on defense. He just needs more fierce intensity. If he adds that to his game he will have 20pts, 20 boards, 5 blks, 2 stl, and a whole lot of intimidated shots..
You certainly don’t think in the finals if we are to see the Celtics that Pau’s “toughness” won’t come into question do you? Of course it is. Again, they call them as they see em. “Pau’s play becomes “soft” for a big man at times. He’s not a small forward. He acts as our center for the most part. As center you are the CENTER of attention in the paint. So don’t let anybody just come in there and man-handle you.
Garnett, Davis, and the rest of the Celtics monster will scare Pau to the bench if he doesn’t get tougher and that’s just fact. “Like” him I do. But he’s on a championship team and now he’s expected to play like a champion not like a “good” ball player. That was my point alone.
#48. Kobemoney (and this will be the last I mention this),
No one discounts Kobe. Maybe in your world where any question of him as a player is “disrespect” this phenomenon exists, but in the world of sports that I follow, Kobe’s reputation as one of the all time greats is not questioned.
And you’re so caught up in your love of Kobe that your take on Gasol is bordering on the comical. Pau’s 20 & 10 isn’t enough? He needs to play tougher? I think this is the 4th time I’ve asked this of you, but please find some perspective. Pau has been playing better than “good”, he’s been simply amazing and for the past two months he’s rivaled Kobe as our best player. If you don’t see that, than I’m not sure what you’re watching.
You’re still waiting for Pau to play well? He hasn’t met your expectations? I agree with Darius regarding your comments, but I’ll add another:
You should respect Pau Gasol. I know it’s all about your hero Kobe Bryant, and I admit, he is pretty good. But remember, Kobe was wallowing as a 7th/8th seed and wanted out of Laker land until Mitch brought in Pau. 2 finals appearances later, 1 championship later, and another deep run into the playoffs, we are again talking about Kobe’s greatness. But remember he doesn’t do it alone. He gets help. And on this team, he gets it from the most skilled big man in the league.
We all respect Kobe here. You should start respecting Pau Gasol
Patrick M says
Kobe does better with Pau Gasol as his sidekick than without him. Gasol opens up a lot of options for Kobe, in that the other team cannot focus solely on Kobe, as the Suns did in past playoffs. The Lakers having Gasol’s talent in the paint means the Suns have to pick their poison. Either way, they get more than they can handle.
If you would take time to fully read what I said you wouldn’t have wasted a spot posting. Again, I said we will win no ring with Pau. We need him and of course Kobe needs him as well as the other players to win the ring. What part of that seems to be ailing your understanding of my rant?
I think Pau is playing fairly well. But as I stated we need more than that for us to win a ring this year! We need him to play possessed!! I have yet to see that from him. I know KG can go there. I know Kobe can go there but can Pau go there?
Can you guys not see that’s the problem with Orlando’s D Howard? He can’t accelerate his level of play to CHAMPIONSHIP caliber, and as I type Stoudamaire can’t either, Boozer couldn’t and Lebron couldn’t. D. Wade did it (he just didn’t have enough other weapons to help) and the Celtics as a unit are doing it now!
I continue to inform you guys that I don’t worship Kobe-i just recognize, respect, and appreciate greatness.. If he played for some other team I wonder what you would think of him than.
As for Pau being the best player on the team for a minute. He did hold down the forte while Kobe was dealing with injuries. In the meanwhile we happen to look like a bird with no wings around the end of the season. It wasn’t until Kobe was able to get some healing that we were able to regain confidence in the Lakers. You know its true. IF Kobe was still hurt you wouldn’t even think of winning another ring. He is and and has been our BEST player all year long (including the time he played un-Mamba like).
One thing you have to understand being the best doesn’t always reflect on the stat sheet.
The greatest players (best one on the team usually) knows how to motivate, encourage, inspire, and pull the best efforts out of his supporting cast. His attitude is always “we can win”. He never lets em see him sweat (worry) about winning–to the great (best) player its his destiny. There were many games this year that we loss and I didn’t see it in Kobe eyes until the final buzzer but it was written all over Pau’s face.
Pau will have to play tougher, meaner, and out-right physical basketball to bring that parade to LA. That is just it. Kobe will do his thing, Lamar will be up and down, the bench won’t contribute much, Fish will try hard, Artest will have a game or two worthy of thought-nothing more, and Bynum (bless him) will be a non-factor.
So that leaves Kobe and Pau to do the job. Yessssssss they need the team but they will bare the brunt of the war. Kobe will show up but will Pau do what he needs to do (and that’s more than just score 20 pts–we could get Shannon Brown to do that or more than just grab 10 boards–Lamar does that with his eyes closed.
Who will be our beast in the paint? Who will keep Rondo out of there with his floaters? Who will show KG he can’t intimidate every player? Whoooo? I hope it is Pau because that’s the only thing missing from his game is physical and mental toughness. He has superior skill and a nastyyyy left hand–but I can run off a list of guys that had such and still never got a ring.
That’s my perspective.
of course I meant we will win no ring WITHOUT PAU!
“Who will keep Rondo out of there with his floaters?”
Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson
“Who will show KG he can’t intimidate every player?”
Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass
but your argument is that we won’t win a ring without Pau playing to the level you want him to: which u stated as 20,15 5 blocks and no turnovers. Would you like him to drive the team bus as well?
Your expectation is off base that he plays great if he has 5 blocks and no turnovers. I’d counter that he’s playing pretty damn great right now. He is playing amazing basketball: scores inside, runs the offense, makes amazing passes and is playing pretty damn good basketball. Just because you don’t see the “fire” that Kobe does or KG shows doesn’t mean he plays without that intensity. Just because he doesn’t clench his jaw after every bucket or pass doesn’t mean that at all.
You also assume that he isn’t banging down in the post right now. Are you expecting Shaq to just bully people over? Cuz Pau isn’t that type of player. He fights for position every play, bangs inside, and will continue to bang with whoever they throw down there. Don’t forget he was the primary defender last year against “the best center” in the league during the finals.
We agree that we wont win the series or a championship without, but the other parts of your perspective confuse me:
1. Pau has to do more than get 20 points. Having a second option get 20.3 points per game in the playoffs at 58.2% shooting isn’t good enough for you? Why not? Also, you think we can get Shannon Brown to score 20 points a game??
2. Needs to do more than get 10 RPG? We can just get LO to do that? LO can play great, but I think most of us will agree LO isn’t consistent (you even state it)
3. Plus you want Pau to get more than the 1.9 blocks he’s been averaging. You actually state that he needs to average 5.0 blocks?? Seriously? 5 blocks? Do you know what the highest blocks per game average is in the playoffs? 3.3. By the Dream.
4. Pau is still missing Physical and Mental toughness?? How? Did you not watch the Finals last year? Bynum didn’t play much. Pau was the primary guy in the post defending against a much bigger, stronger D. howard and he played exceptional defense. Is he still not physically and mentally tough because of the Boston series? Or because he took off time to rest his hamstrings early on in the season?
He is more than just a guy with serious skill and a nasty left hand man. You need to realize he is playing great right now. And he will be our beast in the post if we make it to the finals. And is by far the best big man left in these playoffs.