From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: It was a terrific all around game for El Spaniard, who was key in helping the Lakers remain in the game after the Thunder got off to a hot start. 13 points and six rebounds, with baskets coming from inside, outside and all points in between. He finished the game with 18 points and 11 boards, five of which came on the offensive glass. His impact was also felt on the defensive end. Shots were contested all night, and he drew a massively important charge against Russell Westbrook under the rim with 17 seconds left in regulation.
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: When Kobe Bryant passed Hakeem Olajuwon last January on the all-time scoring list, it wasn’t just a climb up the ladder. It marked the start of quest to slay giants. With the exception of a certain two-guard compared to Bryant roughly every six seconds, the remaining targets are all big men. Kareem. Malone (Karl). Wilt. Shaq. Malone (Moses). And now Elvin Hayes, brushed aside by a floater banked off glass at Nick Collison’s expense. Two all-time greats, with commonalities beyond their ability to fill up a bucket. Like Bryant, Hayes was no stranger to controversy over the course of his career, and according to his NBA.com bio, several issues ran parallel with problems plaguing Kobe at some point.
From Royce Young, Daily Thunder: It felt like last April all over again. The Lakers were in town, the arena was beyond loud and there was just another level of intensity on the floor. The officials swallowed their whistles for most the game, it was extremely physical and just in a general sense, it felt like a playoff game. Even down to the halftime show, things felt the same as Peter Rabbit returned (he performed twice at halftime during the playoffs). But just like last year, the Thunder came up juuuuuuuust a little short. Down three with 10 seconds left, Oklahoma City had two shots to tie, with both 3s — one from Kevin Durant and one from James Harden — rimming out. Hey, at least it wasn’t a Pau Gasol tip this time, right? Right?
From Sebastian Pruiti, NBA Playbook: With 9.8 seconds left, the Oklahoma City Thunder trailed the Los Angeles Lakers by three points with the ball on the side. The Thunder ran a decent play, but a heads up play by Pau Gasol allowed him to challenge the shot, preventing Kevin Durant from hitting the three. The play starts with a staggered screen for James Harden. Gasol is positioned way off of his man, Nick Collison. This is a very smart decision. With the Thunder needing a three pointer, Collison isn’t a threat, so Gasol playing off of him doesn’t hurt the Lakers. Also, it prevents the area where the staggered screen is being set from getting too crowded.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Wow, it’s kind of bright in here all of a sudden. Everything was dim and shadowy just a few minutes ago, but now there’s illumination to spare. It’s like someone has caused energy to flow through the metal filament in a small glass bulb hanging from the ceiling. Maybe – I mean, hypothetically – they did so by toggling a small, plastic, wall-mounted component available in fine hardware stores everywhere. It’s almost like someone…. flipped a switch? Perhaps that’s taking it a smidge too far. It’s still too early to say the Lakers have overcome their pre-All Star difficulties. But the break appears to have done them a world of good. They’ve roared into the regular-season homestretch with four straight impressive wins, the latest a closely fought 90 to 87 road victory in Oklahoma City.
From Jeff Laztke, OC Register: The Lakers aren’t sure what to expect when they see the Oklahoma City Thunder with playoff nemesis Kendrick Perkins in the lineup next time. Until then, they’re doing their best to build up a cushion in the Western Conference standings. Pau Gasol had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Kobe Bryant scored 17 points and the Lakers firmed up their grasp on third place in the West by beating the Thunder, 90-87, Sunday. “They’re a dangerous team now, they’re a very good team now and probably Perkins is going to help them, especially in the playoffs,” Gasol said. “But we’ll see. That has to be seen and proven.”
From Mark Medina, LA Times: The Lakers made late-game plays in their 90-87 victory Sunday over Oklahoma City. That sentiment may not have lasted had the Thunder converted on their last possession. After Lamar Odom missed two free throws with 10 seconds remaining, the Thunder immediately called timeout when Kevin Durant grabbed the rebound with nine seconds remaining. On the next play, Durant caught a pass curling off a screen, but Ron Artest and Pau Gasol closely contested his three-point attempt. Thunder center Nick Collison tipped the missed shot to the top of the key to James Harden, whose trey hit off the back iron. But credit the Lakers’ defensive effort in forcing OKC into making tough shots at the end and many possessions before that.
From Royce Young, Eye On Basketball: For the first time since Pau Gasol broke Thunder fans’ hearts, the Lakers returned to the scene of the crime. They returned to the daunting arena that claimed them twice in the playoffs last April and a place where they escaped from by the skins of their teeth in a classic opening round Game 6. And just like the last time these two teams hooked up in Oklahoma City Arena, it came down to the final buzzer. The Thunder missed two game-tying 3-point attempts with 10 seconds left as the Lakers slid past OKC 90-87 in a playoff-like atmosphere. Kevin Durant got a pretty clean look after curling off a Nick Collison screen, but his attempt rimmed in-and-out. Collison tipped the ball back out again with it ending up in James Harden’s hands. But Harden’s 3 went begging just long.
What none of you guy’s ever seem to realize, or write about is that Pau is at his best when he play’s against softer opponents. Then, in addition to that, as good as he is, he’s even better with the Lakers because of all the attention Kobe receives on every given night.
It amazes me that what credit people will say about others, they will not say about Kobe. Why is that, even in our own blogs, we continue to take a stab at him about something. Don’t get me wrong, am not advocating special treatment for our superstar, but we often down play what he doing, maybe because we are so use to it, but we always point out what he’s doing wrong. Here’s an example, Kobe had a poor shooting night, yes, but did anyone mention that Kobe switched on Westbrook in the 3rd, and Westbrook scored zilch in the 3rd. Where’s the love for that? This was huge! and while am at it, if I may, why is know one talking about Fisher being the worst PG in the NBA?
1, Aaron…. your disguise isn’t working; we can totally tell it’s you…
Is it me, or has OKC taken Portland’s place as the new “young team who gives problems to LA in their home court”, minus the injuries? Remember how a couple of years ago everyone was saying how LA does not want to face Portland in the playoffs, because of POR’s homecourt record against the lakers?
haha, Zephid … so true … the catch phrases “what none of … seem to realize” (except the all knowing Aaron, of course) and “… worse PG in the NBA …” are dead giveways.
haha, not to mention the weird turns of phrases bordering on non sequiturs
it would be ironic if it really was Aaron, and he chose the moniker Sportswriter to agree with him, as if that’s the premier authority that we all respect
Um, IP address? Please?
@abusaud 3, You’re right about OKC’s homecourt, but I’m still scared about POR now that they got GWallace. Plus, taking the place w/ “young team” qualifier is consistent with the seemingly endless barrage of injuries and additions of camby / miller
5 – Don’t be silly. Sportswriters wish they knew half as much as Aaron.
“What none of you guys ever seem to realize” is that Blake’s “the worse PG guard in the NBA”. In fact, the Lakers FO signed Blake so Aaron would stop calling out Fisher as the worse.
“it’s as simple as that.” < — (another Aaron tag line).
Darius Soriano says
I know Zephid’s comment was in good fun, but comment number #1 is not Aaron.
To be fair to his (#1’s) comment I know that folks can be hard on Kobe, but Lakers fans are hard on everybody. At one point last year I commented about how no one is really immune to criticism when it comes to the Lakers. I mean, at one point, just last season, the following players/members of the organization were harshly criticized by several fans as either losing it, being soft, being completely unreliable, needed to be traded or replaced, or just outright buried as being someone that couldn’t help the team: Mitch Kupchak, Phil Jackson, Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Odom, Artest, Fisher, Shannon, Farmar, Sasha, Luke, and Josh Powell. I think the only guys immune from criticism were Mbenga and Ammo and that was because people understood that they weren’t contributors or were perfectly happy with/understanding of their non-contributions/limitations. So, if you’re counting that’s nearly every player, the coach, and the GM of a team that went on to win it’s 2nd consecutive title that spring. Essentially, criticism is not new and every fan has at least one player/member of the organization that they’ve completely buried at some point. That will continue for the rest of time.
Craig W. says
We fans all have our soft spots – mine is frustration that Phil just can’t seem to give Andrew any minutes at the end of close games; even if that is only to practice for some future injury/foul problem – but this is a team. Removing each part and plugging in our favorite replacement changes the working of the entire model. You can’t replace a part in a watch with another, slightly different, one and expect it to continue to keep perfect time.
It is the need of fans to keep selecting different tools and insist on using them, regardless the situation, that separates them from the professional managers in the game.
The observation that gets me is when ‘talking heads’ say, “Wait until Perkins gets in the lineup and you will see the Thunder beat the Lakers then.” With Perkins this is a different watch, errr… team.
Zephid, to comment on what you said in the last thread, about your relatonship analogy, here is what I have to say. All is my “opinion” btw. You could be in love with your gf for a long time, but if she does something drastically bad to break that trust, I think it is very in line to be cautious with her and not trust her fully. She would have to earn your trust back. The Lakers are very similar with me. In the beginning of the year they had my full trust, even before the season started. They lost a few games after the 8-0 start, and they still had my trust. But they went on to play some of the worst basketball I have ever seen any Laker team play. Losing to bad teams and badly. Getting killed by the top dogs of the league. Now you can say “it is only regular season Joe,” but that is not how I and other fans look at it as a very poor record versus the elite to me is really alarming regular season or not. However, the importance of regular season and how telling it is is another argument anyway.
Another point is this. You want us to be motivated believing fans no matter what, but the Lakers have a tendency to play with no motivation themselves, which is disgusting for any professional team to do. I take that as an insult toward myself and other Laker fans.
Also, and I don’t know about other fans, but I am not just negative at times to protect myself hurt like you were describing, but rather that is just how I feel at the moment and I express it. It is part of who I am as a person. Even when the Lakers win I bash the team!
So bottom line, I don’t think it is completely out of hand on our part to be cautious and to have to earn some trust back from our team before we become ultra confident gangbusters like you and Darius.
Darius @ 8 , “Criticism … that will continue for the rest of time.”
Kinda like the Yankees, another team that’s enjoyed a fair amount of success over the years. (but never enough for the faithful, of course).
@1 – I think most of the criticism I saw of Kobe from the last game was his ISO offense at the end of the game. The threat of his offense is essential. At times it will be needed (see end of regulation in Portland), but the Lakers have enough skilled players to do more than that most nights.
Darius Soriano says
Nice to see that I’m an “ultra confident gang buster”, Joe. I just try to preach patience and balance when analyzing the team. I’ve consistently taken the stance that things aren’t really as bad as they seem and that’s because the team can play better. I’ll argue with anybody – from commenters here to close friends to writers that I correspond with that run other sites – that any team (including the Lakers) shouldn’t be judged by their worst games nor should their best play just be assumed avaiable at any moment.
What I try to do here is promote a conversation and community where all opinions are welcomed but those same opinions should be backed up with *something*. I’m willing to lean on past years play as well as specific games this year as evidence that the team can play good basketball. That said, I’ve never once claimed this team will *win* anything. Only that I think they’ll be ready to play strong ball come the playoffs.
Others, though, are more than willing to offer up below standard play as proof that the Lakers *won’t* win and I find issue with that. It’s one thing to question whether or not the team will win and point to specific reasons why. It’s another step, though, to claim that they won’t. I’m not willing to take that step just as I’m not willing to take the step that they will win. Is that such an awful position to take? (That’s an honest question, too.)
Hmm, I could have sworn I complained about Mbenga’s tendency to jack up a shot faster than Sasha being the reason for his lack of minutes. And I think I complained about Ammo’s suit choice on the bench. I say Darius was wrong that either of those two were immune from criticism. LOL!
Not at all Darius. I never once said I disagreed with your mentality. As a matter of fact, you probably have a better mind set than I do. If I could be like you or Zephid that be cool, but I don’t come from your worlds. I come from around the Philly area, and I was conditioned to be a fan like this.
However, I also don’t think I ever said or implied the Lakers “won’t” win. I don’t think they will, but I have said they could surprise me. They did it before they can do it again. I honestly would not mind because I like being surprised.
Pff, Darius, you’re probably comparing the commenter’s IP to Aaron’s and then concluding that it can’t be him. I could easily see Aaron re-routing through a proxy IP just to fool you :-P.
10, Joe, yeap, it is totally your choice to be a fan however you want. I just wanted to present a case that it’s not so bad being on our side of the fence; if you tried it out, you might like it.
Also, I wouldn’t describe myself as confident in the team, mostly because I’m well aware that there’s a very good chance that the Lakers won’t win the championship. In any given season, I would say the Lakers would be extremely lucky to have a 15% or greater probability of winning the championship. This season, I’d probably put it at somewhere between 7-10%. Last year was probably around 15%, the year before 20%, mostly because KG got hurt in 09 and the West was really weak in 2010. Do I think the Lakers have as good a chance as any other team? Yes, but do I think they have a much greater chance than the other teams? Absolutely not.
Haha… Well played. I’m the one person though who has never called Pau soft. I always defend him. I always have said that he is a PF and like a KG should never have to play out of position. Commenter number one gives the same silly argument Gasol haters like to make. Of course Gasol plays better when he plays “softer” player… Except softer isn’t the right word… The right word is PF. Whe Gasol plays against players at his same position he dominates. Toughness has nothing to do with it. KG is pretty tough….he never has to play Center although he is Pau’s size and length. And btw… Gasol takes kevins lunch every time. It was Perkins who had his way Waugh Gasol.
And btw… Darius… You didn’t add me on facebook? Ouch. That hurts.
Darius Soriano says
#17. I haven’t logged in there lately. Ha.
Frankly, I have know idea who this Aaron fellow is, and to that point, I must say, if he has called out Fisher for the bum that he is, then unequivocally, thank you.
The Lakers will get to the finals, at least that is the general consensus. However, the road is more challenging than last year or the year before. Teams have gotten better, and with the added experience and younger legs it is going to be a dog fight.
The issue I have with Fisher is the fact he can not guard a waste paper basket. People do not fear him, if he makes a shot they say,”Oh well”, better him than Kobe, but with our collective breath we say,”thank God” he made it. We should not be in this position to compete for a title and you win titles with defense.
Joe A says
I’m surprised no one’s mentioned it (or I missed it) . . . but does anyone remember a shot that was made during a crucial stretch against OKC that involved Shannon Brown, a corner three and the backboard?? Hilarious, but it was a difference maker and it was an absolute prayer.
I’m happy for the win, but my confidence is not high. I don’t understand why LAL continues to seemingly struggle against teams to which they are clearly superior? I hate the regular season . . .
And I can’t edit comments from my iPad for some reason… So excuse all the typos. And yes I have an iPad. I’m better than you.
– Sent from my iPad
I used to call out Fisher. Because… You know… He isn’t good at anything but making clutch open shots. But after his 4th quarter of game 3 I promised to never say anything bad about him on this site. I will no longer harp on him and haven’t the whole season. He deserved that much.
Lol Aaron you actually typed sent from my iPad?
I imagine the dialogue between new best friends Sportswriter and Aaron as Aaron having a conversation with himself in his head, filled with inconsistencies and “I never said that” or “thats not what I meant”
Just messing with you Aaron, i certainly appreciate some of your views, and thank you for not bashing fish this season
Sorry Zephid, your work might double
23, eh it’s ok, keeps things fresh around here. Nothing was worse than when the Lakers were 13-2, rolling, and nobody had anything interesting to say ;).
If I have to write one more sentence for a joke I will go the extra mile. it’s the least I can do for the readers on this site 😉
-Sent from your moms house
For anyone who wants a dose of nostalgia, I highly recommend watching this:
I love clips like this, they always take me back. But seriously, what was Fisher doing in the Rookie Game? What was Matt Maloney doing playing basketball at all?
Zephid, your Aaron comments had me LOLing. I was picturing him (not that I have any clue how he looks) huddled over a computer with a mischievous snicker, thinking “I’ll show them, muahahaha”.
In reference to where we stand relative to the other powerhouses, I think we are in an amazing position to three-peat (even if it doesn’t seem that way now). As most would contest, the third run in a three-peat is always the hardest. The same goes for the repeat. Every time it gets more difficult, and with all of the offseason personnel changes around the league, other teams really have moved into the same tier as the Lakers talent-wise.
As it stands, here are the Vegas odds for the NBA Championship for some reference (including teams with any relevant chance at possibly winning, last teams left off were Portland & NO). For those that aren’t familiar w/ betting, Miami pays out 1.8-1 if they were to win, LAL 3.25-1 if they were to win, as so on:
Miami Heat +180
Los Angeles Lakers +325
Boston Celtics +350
San Antonio Spurs +450
Chicago Bulls +1200
Dallas Mavericks +1200
Orlando Magic +1700
Oklahoma City Thunder +1700
New York Knicks +2000
So as we can see, we have three tiers: Mia at the top, Boston, LA, and SA next, and then the “if everything went PERFECTLY” tier of Chi, OKC, Dal, Orlando, and New York. Obviously, they have varying levels of likeliness, but you get the picture. The oddsmakers view Miami as the favorite, but this is just as much as reflection of where the money is at as well. A lot of people jumped on the Heat bandwagon after “The decision”, dramatically shifting the odds. My view on Miami is simple: The playoffs (especially in the East) are a war, battle after battle, and I do not see them displaying the mental fortitude to come out of all of those battles victorious. The reg season is nothing on the playoffs, and they have been shown to shrink on relatively small stages. They need Riley on the bench (to piss on Bron’s ego), which won’t be coming this year. Boston is hungry as ever; Chicago has one of the best coaches in the league that has designed his defenses to defeat a team just like Miami. Orlando will be a handful as well (D12 is #2 MVP behind Rose IMO), and we aren’t even thinking about the Knicks who just beat them last night in a game Miami had no business losing.
My point is, Vegas is way off having Miami as clear cut favorites. After them, though, we’ve got three teams with similar odds, as well as many internal similarities: Lakers, Celtics, Spurs.
All three teams have some strong similarities that put them in the top tier: experience, veteran know-how, team chemistry, good coaching, relatively deep rosters, and star power.
These are the characteristics that separate Boston, LA, and San Antonio from any other team, and why I can’t imagine any other team winning the championship. Dallas and Chicago don’t meet all of these requirements, as Dallas has never proven they can get over the hump, and they really will miss Butler in the halfcourt offense (Also, Carlisle?). Chicago is in its first year of “contendership” and it’s their coach’s first year there as well. They will have growing pains, and this year is when they are showing “We’ve arrived, and we’re not going anywhere”! But it’s not there time…yet.
So, as I said yesterday, if we and Dallas maintain the 2 and 3 seeds, that would mean the Lakers would have to beat the 6-7 seed (Portland, Denver, Utah, whoever), then Dallas in the 2nd round, followed by one of San Antonio or OKC in the WCF. I like the Lakers chances of certainly returning to the WCFs, and that’s when it will get fun. We’ve always owned Dallas, and there’s nothing that says we won’t own them again (Tyson Chandler? please…)
San Antonio will be a true test, but I’m fairly confident they will not beat us 4 out of 7 games, not when our league’s best front line will match-up against an over-the-hill Duncan, an undersized Blair, a rookie named Splitter (underachieving), and no-knees McDyess. Just, no…not in Phil’s last stand. Their only advantage is at PG, where TParker has always been a headache. I’m not saying it’s a slam dunk, but I think we’ve got a great, GREAT opportunity to defend our title in the finals. I’m not going to talk hypothetically beyond that, but any fan that doesn’t believe the Lakers have an amazing chance to three-peat is just pessimistic and not really seeing the big picture. The season is a grind in which we can get caught up, but NO COACH (none) better prepares his team to be playing its best basketball in the playoffs than the Zen Master. He is a true master in this respect, and I think its his greatest quality, just ahead of his chemistry-building.
So Lakers fans, don’t expect a free ride to the Finals, because that never happens. It will be hard, harder than any year in recent memory. But our team is also STRONGER, more equipped than ever before as well. Barnes’ energy will have an underrated impact on games, Ron’s becoming more comfortable in the offense, and Blake is an upgrade at backup PG. Assuming Andrew stays healthy, he will have his best playoff run yet. Pau and Kobe will still be there, and Odom has been more focused than ever before. Although it may not look like it right now, this is our best team in the past 4 years, and there’s no logic to say they can/will not together when it’s most needed in the playoffs.
Sorry for the long post, I’ve got some downtime as I search for jobs post-grad. Thanks for reading.
… Oh… And Darius accepted me on fb. Everyone… Don’t worry… everything is now fine between us.
John Morris says
The Wizards bought out Bibby’s contract. I sure wish we had him instead of Steve Blake right now.
23) Think Smeagol and Gollum.
Andreas G. says
I never have a problem with people critiquing players, the thing that I don’t understand is when it turns into constant bashing. I always develop affection for the players that I’m rooting for, which means that I constantly overvalue them. I’m sure that it doesn’t come as a surprise that I consider Pau to be the best pf in the league, but I can also talk myself into thinking that Drew is the best center of the league for instance – at least based on potential;)
I guess we’re all different.
i appreciate mike bib’s shooter’s mentality. I’d like for our bench players, especially Steve, to be just as aggressive.
Defensively, we may have the shotblocking to minimize his infamous lack of lateral quickness.
The Lakers haven’t been linked to Bib in reports, so I will take that as a good omen. Hopefully Kupchak is lurking in the shadows waiting to ninja-sign him.
Darius Soriano says
A new post is up.
For all the Bynum supporters and I include myself in that group. Here’s another killer article from C.A. Clark at Silver screen and roll. He consistently kills it and this article is no exception.
Tony Parker out 2-4 weeks…I doubt it’s enough to supplant their #1 seed, but at least the Spurs have now had an injury. It’s their first of the entire year for their core so we can now rule out any crazy voodoo going on down in TX