From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: In news that didn’t require Nostradmus’ services to predict, Ron Artest has officially been suspended for Friday’s Game 3 in Dallas. The offending sequence, which took place with 24.4 seconds remaining in the game, featured Artest swinging his arm to basically clothesline Jose Barea. The unprompted, absolutely intentional act was so WWE, Ron might as well have borrowed Jack Nicholson’s courtside chair for the purposes of bashing the diminutive guard. So inevitable was this outcome, Phil Jackson didn’t even attempt to spin the possibility of Artest going unpunished in his postgame presser. So what does this mean for the Lakers in Game 3? Well, in a nutshell, it ain’t good.
From Beckley Mason, Hoop Speak: If the Lakers can’t miraculously pull out this series, many will hail their failure as the end of an era–they got too old, too reliant on Kobe, or too thin beyond their top four players. But the truth is that, all mitigating circumstances aside, they’ve just played bad basketball. It’s systemic only in that they’ve performed this drunken dance all season long, but the flaws are not so inherent as arthritic knees or a dearth of talent off the bench. The Lakers players may not have had their collective fastball last night, but Phil Jackson stubbornly shook off signs to change things up and Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks are hammering him for it. When lambasting the players’ failings, keep in mind they were operating in a flawed gameplan.
From Sam Amick, Sports Illustrated: It was all so funny at the time. Before the Lakers’ incredible era reached this unforeseen point of peril Wednesday night, their coach was being pestered about his latest book. This was the one that hadn’t been written yet, the chapters of Phil Jackson’s final season unfolding with every passing day but the actual idea of publication a ways off in his mind. “The book is way, way, way down the road,” he said with his trademark wryness. “It has no function, no form, no structure yet, no outline. Nothing.” What it might have, as it turns out, is a surprise ending. Dallas delivered a devastating blow to the Lakers’ quest for a three-peat at Staples Center, taking a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals with a 93-81 victory. The outcome left the locals incensed about the plot twist and the notion of a 12th championship looking unlikely for the man who swears this stand will be his last.
From Nadya Avakian, Lakers Nation: If you’re a Lakers fan, it’s hard to see the beauty in what the Dallas Mavericks did to completely dismantle the Lakers to take a commanding 2-0 series lead without ever playing a single game on their home floor. It’s difficult to set aside your own biases and just watch a player like Jose Juan Barea weave his way in-and-out of the Lakers defense and come up bigger for his team than his physical stature would suggest. How much time has to pass for Lakers fans to appreciate the excellence in what Dirk Nowitzki has been able to do offensively against their team? He at times takes the most difficult shots and makes them look so effortless.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: For a Lakers team that truly needs everyone to come together now, here was the start. Kobe Bryant strapped it up and actually practiced with the team Thursday. There was no heavy scrimmaging, but there was a lot of work to do – a lot of teamwork – in defending Dallas’ spread offense, especially. It was Bryant’s first practice since his April 15 cameo two days before the playoffs even started, and every Laker reported afterward Thursday what a productive session this was. Then again, if you were out there sweating through practice every day for the past seven months and the league’s glamour boy and game-ball dominator wasn’t, you’d probably think this is more like it should be, too. In any case, there was a noticeable good vibration about the team as it came off the practice court Thursday, far different from the stink that emanated from them on the Staples Center court just hours before Wednesday night.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: I didn’t exactly have to consult a psychic or run an NBA 2K11 simulation to predict Lakers forward Ron Artest would serve a one-game suspension for his clothesline on Dallas guard Jose Barea in the final seconds of the Lakers’ 93-81 Game 2 loss Wednesday to the Mavericks. But I may have to regarding what the Lakers’ lineup change to offset Artest’s absence ???will entail. After all, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wasn’t entirely forthcoming about his plans, simply saying with a smile, “You’ll know that [Friday].” Here are a few possibilities.
I’ve listen on AM710, and the new is Gasol broke up with his girl friend, that’s the reason why he did not play well . They also said when he was in Memphis, he also lost games in the playoffs because of the same reason. Jeannie Buss should have a blind date for Gasol in the last several months.
Can’t the Laker girls do something? C’mon girls, it’s the playoffs. Gasol needs your help.
Darius Soriano says
To quote JD Hastings on Twitter:
“Of course “As reported this morning by Colin Cowherd” is a poor way to lead off a story to add credibility.”
I’m not saying this isn’t true, but we really don’t know anything beyond what rumor-mill sites are reporting.
Samy Harmoush says
Lakers fans – I wager my basketball dignity on the fact that Phil Jackson is using Andrew Bynum as a mouthpiece because he’s lost complete control of the Lakers. And how can you tell this? Easy. In every abusive family there’s always one or two members who have to suffer more than the others because they can’t handle what’s happening. The family unit is one of the most dominant forms of group interaction known to mankind. A social phenomenon, with signs laid out by thousands of phycology case studies. So let’s look to the Lakers with eye for “clear and convincing evidence”.
Clue one, Pau Gasol, featured in telenovelas in South America, and dropping approximately 5 ppg, and 3 assists throughout the course of the season? Go ahead and put aside the differences in his numbers, his passion and confidence are muted.
Clue two, Ron Artest, miserable all season until his play picked up in the 17 game winning streak. That was until yesterday when the guy committed the dirtiest foul since Raja Bell’s clothesline on Kobe in the failing Phoenix-led seasons.
There’s a problem in the Laker tribe and the Shaman is working to fix it.
As a basketball fan I am ultimately a fan of Phil Jackson. Only when the curtain is lifted do you see the outward success of a basketball team. Somebody has to write the script. In games, Jackson is notorious for sitting his players during the course of huge runs, or leaving them out to dry. Ultimately he controls the ability to be seen on the greatest stage of criticism and love.
By playing with rotations recently Jackson has been making it very clear that his view of the status quo has changed. There are no extreme injuries like Bynums knee in seasons past. Not even a sprained ankle as in last week’s headlines. But we’ve seen Pau Gasol head to bench as the first man to check out of the game. We’ve also seen Phil sit Kobe and the first unit for longer and longer stretches in the fourth quarter. Perhaps to observers it’s just a coach opting to give his players more rest. I promise you this – Kobe does not want rest in the fourth quarter with the team down 6. Phil Jackson’s use of timeouts and decisions on substitutions are his greatest tools.
Perhaps otherwise clueless members of the Buss family take credit for Bynum’s retention. But at a deeper level it is evident that Byum is a player completely molded on Phil’s principles. Unlike Kobe, who’s personal drive defined him long before he became a coach. Add in Michael Jordan before him. Even Pau Gasol and Shaq were established entities in the league before calling Phil coach. None have been exclusive products of Phil’s wisdom.
What do we know about Bynum that makes him similar to a young Phil Jackson? He’s an intellectual with the means to be great and who arrived from the draft with no ingrained knowledge of the game. Tablua rasa. Bynum is Phil’s greatest achievement and a testament to the idea that true greatness is features in the season-long contest that lasts far longer than 48 minutes.
Andrew Byum, is my favorite player on the team. He is the guy I often spend most of my time watching on the court. He is exactly my age. But from knowing him so well, it was immediately apparent from his diction in the interview after the Game 2 loss to Dallas that someone had given him developed arguments to present to the media. Perhaps from someone who is eloquent yet capable of being frank when necessary in front of the media. Someone who has been winning over crowds of reporters since he arrived in 1999. What Bynum orated last was the final chapters of a yet to be completed, “Gospel of Phil.”
When asked if the problems in the locker room were “personal thing or a basketball thing?” Bynum replied with the almost biblical conviction and clarity of Aaron, “I mean, it’s basketball so it’s definitely both.”
Consider Bynum’s astute evaluation in the context of their close-relationship which became public during the post-All Star win run – Jackson put his protégé to use. As evidenced brilliantly in Ronald Lazenby’s book on Jackson, Sacred Hoops, the press conference featured Jackson’s deft use of personality and timing in forcing a final public shift of a team’s leadership.
Using the center’s defensive stature and offensive promise, Phil Jackson is elevating Bynum to the Alpha dog role. More importantly, Jackson is telling the world that Bynum is the Laker’s greatest hope for a return to greatness.
In the process Phil is placing the blame of this Maverick induced Watergate on an denying elephant with the sting of a Black Mamba. This last trick begs the question, what was the Mamba’s crime?
Perhaps it was setting a bad example by taking on huge multi-national corporate sponsorships that pull players away from the team? Or maybe it was just not running the offense?
What do you guys think?
First let me begin with the most significant question these days. I believe Kobe is greater than Jordan as an icon and a master of the game.
With that said I have been witnessing this bizarre case study called the LA Lakers play out beginning the day Shaq was deported to Miami. Growing up in a Shaq and Kobe California, Shaq’s departure was the greatest shift in what it meant to be a kid who played basketball and followed the Lakers. Needless to say the drama of what has unfolded since is a part of how I have come to interpret political science, psychology and of course, basketball. I transitioned from sports sections of the LA Times to the blog posts at FB&G in 2005. On a daily basis I read Kurt Helin (until he went to found my second favorite site) while sifting through the insightful comments of Darius, kwame a. j.d., Aaron, Chris J, lil’ pau. I have always been amazed by my basketball community’s knowledge of the game inside and out. I can say that the group has always connected to the deepest part of my heart – my passion for basketball and social dynamics. At what may be the end of an incredible run – thank you immensely for helping me along. I hope you view my post as the type of contribution we appreciate at FB&G.
At this point, I’m ready to see some Trey Johnson. He can’t possibly shoot worse than 2-20 from 3, right? Surely can’t be worse than ShameWow or Stevie Blake
It’s time to rally around Phil and our boys for their Last Stand tonight. I’ll be there, proudly representing FB&G.
Don’t underestimate the effect a big win would have tonight. The Lakers’ struggles appear to be more a lack of confidence and engagement that a lack of health, youth, or talent.
Dallas is going to dare us to hit the 3 tonight, continuing to pack the paint. Hitting the WELL-TIMED 3 ball will break the back of the Dallas D, allowing our Bigs to dominate and Kobe to slash to the hoop.
It only takes one good night to get shooters’ confidence back and if we get LO, Barnes, Blake, and/or Shannon hitting 3’s tonight, and deliver a demoralizing win on Dallas’ home floor, I give the series even odds (even if we lose Game 4).
This is it.
lil' pau says
In terms of options given RA’s suspension, I am confident Phil will choose the option I like least– namely, starting Luke. Every time I can remember, Phil moves the #3 guy into #1 role so the #2 guy’s minutes and spot in the rotation remains unchanged.
What would I prefer? Just about anything, but my vote would be for starting Blake or Shannon besides Fish – probably Shannon – and letting Kobe start at the 3.
Luke has just been abysmal this year– he really looks like he doesn’t even belong on a d-league team, but i am quite certain we’re going to see his goofy Dead tattoos sharing love with Joe Smith around 6:43. At this point, please ignore the screaming you hear; I assure you, I will be okay, eventually.
I think it’s very easy to over-analyze and read into things that are not there. I also think that as fans, it’s easy for us to put too much emphasis on outside distractions. As fans, we want there to be a reason for why our team is losing, and we want the reason to be “valid” and acceptable.
In this case, however, outside factors and locker room drama are irrelevant. There are plenty of successful teams in the history of the league who were successful despite having chemistry issues off the court. Our Lakers lost the first two games against the Mavericks because they played like total **** and the Mavs didn’t. FB&G has already outlined why, so I’ll let the excellent blog posts speak for themselves. I will only say that as I was watching Game 2, it gradually became clear to me that I was watching some of the ugliest basketball I had ever seen. My team looked frustrated, slow, and angry, because nothing they did was working, and they knew it. They were unable to adjust and that made them angrier, and it all collapsed into a hideous downward spiral of embarrassment.
The Mavericks meanwhile just kept on executing and make their shots, and the Lakers handed them the win.
No offense intended, but the last thing our team needs right now is a shrink. They need to execute their game plan, they need to, bluntly put, do what they’re paid to do. Most of us here have jobs, and most of us have at one time or another been in a situation where we hate and distrust our co-workers, life outside of works sucked, and the project deadline steadily drew nearer… and we still managed to pull together and do our job. These people are professionals. Professional behavior is expected and encouraged, and that includes leaving any non-work issues outside of work when you clock in.
lil' pau says
6, sure… easy:
to maximize ratings, the NBA wants the Lakers to play on as many sundays as possible: hence, game 4 on may 8 and game 7 on the 15th.
Craig W. says
There are no single answers to what ails the Lakers – this is, after all, a team game.
However, the link above to “From Beckley Mason, Hoop Speak” does present a point I have made during this playoffs. Phil Jackson is not doing a great coaching job. Sure there are other factors, but this is the time of year Phil is supposed to be supreme. To this point he is not.
If you know you are going to retire very soon, are you going to be motivated to do the best job you can? I don’t think the answer is a definite yes for everyone.
kwame a. says
Samy- Great post, I hope that was an obit though!
We are not done. Darius will get into X’s and O’s, but I just want to see the proverbial grit and heart of a champ tonight. We win this game, anything can happen.
As far as Ron’s minutes, I would love to see a LO/Pau/Drew frontline, but doubt Phil does it.
I’m actually done with having “intellectuals” and espousing a player “esoteric tastes” and how it translates to them being a better basketball player. Right now, this team needs sheer, visceral aggressiveness from its bigs. We need players who “analyze” the situation, but guys who will execute in an instinctive manner when things break down.
Right now, something is holding them back from doing so. Ron Artest’s face-off blow was in some way a reflection of that. The lid on this team has been artificially closed, and we need something to blow it off. Screw intellectualism for now, give me some “beast-mode” play.
If I was going though a performance evaluation that would determine my last paycheck, yes, I most certainly would. :p
Craig W. says
I totally agree. However, Phil has been somewhat immune from criticism over the years. While he is arguably the best NBA coach in history, that doesn’t mean he is either perfect or right all the time.
His philosophy of leaving his players to figure out their own solutions – within his structure – has shown some very good results, but there are players and situations that Phil has not been able to deal with.
His using Kobe as the “whipping boy” while Shaq was around may have been genius, but it also was a prime reason – IMO – why their relationship was not fated to last more than 3 years after Phil got there.
Phil has not been a superb Xs and Os coach, because his system relies on the players to make these decisions.
Now he is in a situation where his team has somewhat “come apart” during the playoffs and he, seemingly, has no answers during games. He just follows his own predetermined script. Rick Carlisle has clearly out coached him and even Monty Williams was able to acquit himself very well against “the master”.
I certainly hope Phil makes me eat my words tonight, but I fully believe he is currently “part of the problem” and should not be able to rise above comments, based on his exemplary NBA record.
Well, Phil Jackson has already collected his paycheck. So I don’t think it’s a far fetch to say it seems like he might be mailing it in, at least to me.
I can’t wait for the game. Actually, it is the best moment of the whole season (as Igor said in another post).
I am very optimistic about this series, I have always been with these Lakers.
kwame a. says
C’mon guys. Question his strategy, but the guy would love to go out a winner, let’s not suggest Phil will happily be swept.
We may start LO/Pau/Bynum…this could be start of something very interesting. At this point, Im game for anything, especially having our best 5 on the court.
Funky Chicken says
1. Shannon Brown is starting, with Kobe moving to SF. Hopefully, playing with the starters will cause SB to be a little less early shot clock jumper-happy.
2. If Pau Gasol is playing like garbage through 8 playoff games because of girl problems then you have all the evidence you will ever need that he is SOFT.
3. Tonight’s game is the latest experiment in the balance between being “calm” and lacking urgency. Calmness (preached by Phil Jackson) is about maintaining your ability to perform in the face of outside pressure. That’s a good thing.
Unfortunately, there is a negative corollary to calmness. It’s playing without the necessary sense of urgency that playoff basketball requires. Too often, it seems like these Lakers exhibit more of the latter than the former, and that is what causes them to routinely give up big leads, and to lose games to inferior opponents.
Perhaps facing the prospect of a humiliating playoff loss (a sweep is not out of the question) will be exactly what the doctor ordered for this team to strike the proper balance and be calm in the face of a jacked up Dallas crowd while also playing with the needed sense of urgency to beat an opponent that they are better than.
I’m not questioning Phil Jackson’s desire to win. Perhaps his ability to do so (if Kobe is forced to re-earn respect every post-season, Phil should be as well), but not his motives. Phil Jackson is a very competitive man, and even if he wasn’t, it’s basic human nature to want to avoid public humiliation.
Phil wants this series. He just needs to figure out how to get it.
Conflicting reports as to who is going to start tonight. LO says he is starting in place of Artest…
Considering how little Bynum, Gasol & Odom have played together on the court, I’ve got to think Kobe will slide to the 3 and Shannon or Blake will start at the 2. At this point, who knows? Whatever it takes for a W.
where is Kobe’s clenched teeth we saw last year? It was scaring everybody on opposition and driving our team to play motivated bball.
where are his flailing arms/legs when not getting the ball when team is trailing that we saw last year?
i havent seen many games this year. but i watched game 2 against Dal. he appeared slow against Kidd (for crying out loud). but still he was our best player.
if he chews the team out in locker and comes out with his trademark “Clench” teeth we make it another round. Else we see a whole new team next year
Phil should start Odom at the 3. This would create havoc on the defensive end for the Mavs if they execute properly and create mismatches. I think this would also all the lakers to trap and double dirk with 2 big men. The lakers have to force the Mavs to match up with them, not vice versa. When ever phil is forced to throw in unusual lines, the lakers struggle.
But if this stuff is true about Gasol, I’ll lose a little respect for him. I understand that people are human and that basketball isn’t their entire lives. But when anyone in any business goes to work, they’re expected to check their attitudes and leave their personal issues at the door. There are certain circumstances where that’s impossible and in that case, athletes shouldn’t be playing or people shouldn’t go to work. But great athletes have been able to play through adversity. I mean Dirk found out that his pregnant fiance was a con artist last season. If Gasol is mad at Kobe because of Kobe’s wife and it’s causing him to play like crap. 1. Thats messing up phil’s legacy and it’s a disgrace. 2. That’s breaking the man code and he needs to man up. It’s not like the Shaq/Kobe when they had a deep seeded hate for one another.
If Brown is starting, Phil has not told Lamar:
Oops– 22 beat me to it.
THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING…
Phil Jackson is a great coach… he is a great coach because he sticks to his principals and doesn’t deviate. That philosophy has won him many more games and championships than it has lost him. It might however lose him a 12th championship.
After the All Star break it was clear Andrew Bynum was quickly becoming the Lakers second best player and the only player on the squad that was attracting consistent double teams. Phil Jackson however continued to keep Bynum on the bench during crunch time. I don’t think its a stretch to assume when Andrew Bynum mentioned trust he wasn’t only speaking of the defensive end of the floor. Its my guess that when a teams most dominant offensive player only shoots the ball 8 and eleven times in the first two games of a series there are serious trust issues going down. The fact is these 30 something year olds on the Lakers either don’t want their 23 year old Center to get the ball and the credit… or they don’t trust him to continue to dominate in the low post the way he has been for months.
I love Kobe but he no longer is being double teamed. Its hard to score in the playoffs as a team when nobody is doubling your number one option. Think about this… Bynum is 7th on the team in offensive touches while being the only guy who is constantly attracting extra defenders. This veteran Lakers team understandably wants to keep their place among NBA royalty… but to do so they might have to accept its going to be a young star that will keep them their.
Darius Soriano says
The game preview is up.
Darius Soriano says
No one is getting double teamed. The Mavs are sagging their defense and forcing the Lakers to make outside shots. No one did on Wednesday and we saw the results. I know your love for Bynum is great, but please don’t simplify the game so much that you ignore what’s really happening to try and make a point that’s not really accurate. Kobe sees extra defenders more than any other Laker. Whenever he’s below the FT line on the low block, the extra attention is lurking. This happens more frequently than with Bynum. Especially in this series where Chandler and Haywood have been reasonably effective in slowing down LA’s big men.
Aaron excellent post. I think Jackson does want to go out on top and his latest move by having Bynum call out the team was his last ditch attempt to put the teams problems out on the table. Look at Fishers play… arguably more aggressive than in playoffs series in the past. The old gaurd had their chances now Bynun Phil, LO and Pau need the rock.