Crucifido's Corner

Postby BDG on Tue Apr 29, 2008 1:18 am

BDG wrote:Great writeup crucifido ... Kobe was absolutely sensational in the fourth quarter. He really carried us to a series-clinching victory in that final period.
Image
Slava laughed at the suggestion his skills might be affected by the down time. "Are you kidding?" he said. "Basketball is like ball. It's all a circle."

BEST VIDEO EVER ... AND AND THE SECOND BEST.
User avatar
BDG
Retired Admin
 
Posts: 40952
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2003 10:45 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Postby crucifido on Mon May 05, 2008 1:14 am

Thanks BDG!!

So I guess 6 days off was a good thing after all.

Lakers vs. Jazz (Round 2 / Game 1 5/4/08)

Rest & Rust Wins Game 1

There’s always been two schools of thought – those who say staying in an every other day kind of rhythm does a team best and those who believe that rest between rounds is the key to long term success. Me personally, I think it depends on the team. Today, the Lakers showed that they’re the kind of team that can not only dispatch a team quickly, but can benefit from it pretty dang well too.

I expected a bit of rough start in the 1st quarter but the Lakers did exactly the opposite, coming out with a focus that wasn’t too much unlike a team with a greater goal in mind. The biggest difference in the Laker game from the outset was the defense of Derek Fisher.

For a guy who’s had some serious trouble keeping up with the speedier guards in the League Derek did a fantastic job of staying in front of Williams. Of course being the guy who mentored Williams as he came into the league doesn’t hurt, but nonetheless, there were few times that Williams out and out beat Derek off the dribble. When Derek did have trouble keeping up with Williams (often on a lateral run) Derek did well in getting around traffic to at least have a presence or a hand in his face afterwards.

Offensively, Derek played like a point guard today. There were few times he settled for the jumper as a first resort which was beyond great to see. There were plenty of times Derek saw a small opening and got the ball moving further into the paint than he has in a long time. The best of these plays came when he worked a great screen and roll / a simple give and go game with Pau. Derek was in top form dishing and moving, bringing Williams with him off the ball allowing Pau quick and plenty of room to operate on Utah’s softening low post defense.

Pau had a bit of an off game actually. What he did do well is what he excelled at his whole career, being in the right place at the right time and having his hands ready. There was one shot clock crunching possession where Pau bobbled the ball in the low post but other than that you’d have been hard pressed to find Pau not ready for anything that came his way this game. That’s the thing with Pau, for his shortcomings in the low post strength department, which got exploited by Boozer today; his mobility today had the Jazz a bit ragged as to whom to run to the low post to cover his post work.

Pau’s movement off the ball had some confusion in it today, as one timeout with Brian Shaw, Kobe and Lamar giving him pointers as to where to move would attest to. It seems of all the players that had a bit of a rough adjustment to this series, Pau had his moments of uncertainty. Then with all that said, Pau still played a good game. It wasn’t an historic performance, but his style of game is something the Jazz may have trouble contending with in conjunction with guarding Lamar.

Speaking of Lamar, the guy just couldn’t buy any love from the refs. Granted, a lot of his calls came from some late rotation on his part, but for the most part the physical game that Lamar has developed since Pau’s arrival was never really allowed to get any momentum. Next game Odom will be well served to watch his diving down to help on Boozer on the post. When he gets caught up on the mid-range defensive game, he was dragging getting himself into a decent post help position.

Then, just like Pau, Lamar didn’t have the game of his life, but yet it still managed to have an impact. Lamar did a real good job of making the Jazz pay for their attention to Pau on the high post, especially in the first half. There were a couple drives along the baseline, opened up by the attention paid to Gasol that Lamar really cashed in on. His finishes were strong on the offensive end. In Game 2 he will hopefully not back off of his rebounding ability due to the calls thrown his way.

Radmanovic played an unusual one. His shot was in and out, but he didn’t get many attempts as the Jazz were looking to crowd Vladi at the earliest chance. What Vladi did well today is what he does well most times, making other parts of his game have some kind of impact. His defense on the post against the Jazz was highly suspect, and Sasha’s massive amount of playing time in the 2nd half will show that. But what Radmanovic was in the mix down low today. He was keeping himself at least aware of where plays were heading and did a good job hustling to help on loose ball situations.

The under the radar key matchup in this series, as far as the bench goes at least is the Harpring Walton matchup. Due to Luke’s cold / upper respiratory infection he wasn’t the killer he had become in the Nuggets series. But Luke did a good job neutralizing Harpring today. When the Jazz’s bench unit tried to get something going via cuts through the paint and some pushing into the low post through Harpring, Luke was having none of it. Though he did do his fair share of reaching due to being a touch slow with his footwork, he kept the Jazz’s bench from ever getting going.

Aside from Luke’s understated performance one big standout today was Sasha. The guy was on the mark today. This is what makes the Lakers so dangerous – the possibility of having a different guy come off the bench and have a big game very night. Today was Sash’s turn./ In fact this series could be a big turn for Sasha. Today he had some good battles with Korver as they both attempted to keep up with each other. What made Sasha a touch more unpredictable was his willingness to put the ball on the floor today. Simply by getting the ball into the paint the one strong drive he had (with the great ball fake and the lay-in) Sasha put the Jazz on their heels against him.

He took great advantage of the green light he had from range, hitting some seriously dead-eye shots when the Lakers needed them most. In that key run during the 2nd quarter when the Laker bench just out hustled the Jazz, Sasha (along with Luke) played an integral role. That role was played well because of choice shot selection off of sharp off ball movement by Sasha. Though most of his long shots won’t be argued against at this point, Sasha had every shot in rhythm today.

In fact, that’s where the Lakers excelled offensively. There were few shots, made or missed that were taken out of the context of the offense. When the Lakers did start shooting off one pass, or forced post shots during the 3rd the Jazz caught up. But, a big change with this year’s team is their ability to correct these mistakes without letting them snowball into a loss.

That ability to right the ship has been a growing development for this team over the last couple of season, but this game showed just how far they’ve come, as it never really felt like the Lakers were out of control of this one. Even when the Lakers let the Jazz get within 4 at about the 5 minute mark in the 4th, there was never a sense of panic.

That control had a good deal to do with Kobe and his calm steady leadership today.

Kobe played this game with an absolute perfect balance of individual and team play. Once again, he got the team rolling early with some seriously amazing passes both in traffic and off of drive and kicks. When Kobe wasn’t pushing the ball down the Jazz’s throat, he was using himself as a decoy. With Kobe being as unstoppable as he can be, on e big dividend comes from the overage defensive attention paid to him. Today the jazz had no choice but to double him quick on the post. Once that double came, between the movement of the Lakers to their pass option spots, the cuts they ran along the weak baseline defense of the Jazz and Kobe being able to see these moves as they happen, there was little hop for the Jazz.

The absolute key moment in the game, when you knew the Jazz got put on the ropes was the 5th foul on Kirilenko (followed shortly by the 5th on Boozer). After that it was so satisfying to finally see the Lakers, via Kobe’s strong inside play take Boozer out of the game. It all played off of Kobe as the control got greater in the game, the Jazz’s frustration grew. No matter what run the Jazz went on, the Lakers had an answer. With Kobe on the court that answer found its way into the game through every player on the court. That right there is why he’s the MVP. He simply had the Jazz on a string today while managing the game from all points on both ends.

Of course the defensive boards have got to be taken care of better. The Jazz won’t shoot as poorly as they did today, and giving them that many 2nd chances again will be tough to overcome. On the positive side, the Lakers will also not be as rocky as they were at times. You have to expect that Pau will have a bigger game, Lamar won’t be in as much foul trouble and the Lakers will now know that Jazz are looking to clog the lane on every shot.

There also has to be earlier help on drives. The Lakers were late in rotating to the middle especially on drives. From that late rotation there was a lot of hip bumping and reaching fouls that were completely unnecessary.

The Lakers have also got to body u on Boozer early in sets. They were playing one on one with Boozer being deep in the paint too much. There has to be some kind of movement into help positions to keep Lamar and Pau from getting cheap fouls again. Boozer is tough customer in the post, but today the Lakers let him bully his way deep too much. The size of Lamar and Pau should give more trouble to Boozer and Okur. The Jazz are a good inside team, but there’s no reason for the Lakers to back down as easily as they did at times today.

Lastly, the Lakers saw today how much refs favor the aggressor. The Lakers have got to turn the tables, maybe taking some early fouls in the process, but overall show the aggression to the boards and defense through the middle the Jazz showed.

It wasn’t perfect for either team, but when all is said and done the Lakers got the win. Barring some major magical re-adjustment from the Jazz, the Lakers should be able to sharpen their play for Game 2. For now, winning this first one was huge. The rust has been shaken off and in doing so the Lakers strike the first blow in what is sure to be an increasingly physical series.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby Ed Guru on Mon May 05, 2008 3:38 pm

Good write-up, where was Farmar today?

As you say, someone different can step up any given time and we'll need Farmar to have Fish's back.
..with the sharpness..
User avatar
Ed Guru

 
Posts: 630
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 2:26 am
Location: Unofficial New Zeaaland Rep

Postby crucifido on Wed May 07, 2008 11:00 pm

Farmar has been quiet in this series so far, but its O.K.. Williams just over-matches him right now. All Jordan has to be concerned with is keeping up with CJ Miles and the jazz's b3ench smalls. I just don't think this is going to be the series where Jordan makes his mark, Williams is just too good for him right now.

Lakers vs. Jazz (Round 2 / Game 2 5/7/08)

One Trophy Down Two To Go

It’s been a heck of an exciting time for the Lakers and their fans these last couple of days. The Lakers went up 1-0 in this second round and above all else; Kobe finally snagged his first MVP trophy. As the presentation went off without a hitch and all the rigmarole wrapped up there was still business to be done.

That business was taking Game 2.

To start things off, you knew it was going to be a good game when you saw Rick Fox at the scorer’s table during Kobe’s ceremony.

Loved the activity going inside out really early on. The Lakers weren’t settling for the jumper, much like Game 1. They were looking to at the very least jab the ball into the mid-range defense of the Jazz. If it wasn’t jabbed inside every single Laker was at least making a cut to get the Jazz to pull down onto the baseline and off of the mid-range shot.

Pau was doing particularly well with Odom moving in the middle. Every time Pau got the ball in the low post, Lamar was getting himself free to make a move into the paint. If Gasol didn’t see him Odom was still disrupting the set defense of the Jazz.

What the Lakers did pretty poorly (in the 1st quarter that is) was getting out to shooters. If they got caught crowding the deep paint, nobody was popping out to the perimeter to even get a hand in the face of shots. The Lakers can’t just be giving range shots to the Jazz. They won’t be shooting as poorly as in Game1, but for some reason tonight in the 1st quarter, the Lakers were almost daring them to make really open shots.

Radmanovic’s hitch in this one was his sluggishness getting to his man on the perimeter. What Vladi did well on defense was body up on Kirilenko in the post any time he got the ball there or worked his way into it. Also, Radmanovic played the help role on the perimeter fairly well. What Radmanovic has to be careful of on the help is completely losing sight of where he can recover once the ball’s been passed out of the trap or the shot goes up. That’s where Vladi tends to get lost, sometimes leaving Lamar or Pau to guard 2 Jazz players under the board.

Lamar tonight was more active than he’s been thus far in the playoffs. The amount of good footwork he had going from the first tip of the game was fantastic. There was nowhere on either end that Odom wasn’t involved with the play. As he went from grabbing the board on the defensive end to taking Millsap in the post on a nice bank shot in the 1st.

It was good to see Ronny have a bit of an impact tonight. However, when he was playing Millsap he had a tendency to look strictly for the block when he should be bodying him up as soon as he gets below the free throw line. That aside though Ronny’s activity, like Lamar’s on the inside was good to see. Ronny had yet to really make a showing in the playoffs, but tonight Ronny got involved.

What he can do to improve his defense, which had suspect moments, is to stop turning his back to the play. When he tries to keep track of the weak side rebounder coming into the paint, he’s turning away from the actual play way too early.

Overall, Pau simply struggles against the physical type of team. He had a below par showing in Game 1 (despite the double-double). Tonight he was looking apprehensive once the Jazz threw him any kind of tough defense in the paint. Though he did have a couple nice steps, like the step around against the shot clock for a dunk, he had trouble getting into rhythm off the low block.

What Pau can do to improve his offensive game is stop trying to initiate his shot through the post. He’s having the same trouble Luke does when he goes up against stronger defenses. If Pau would step out of the post a bit, use his ball handling to pull traffic out of the lane, pass it off, then take his spot on the side of the key he’ll rack up points like crazy. Pau has got to set himself up as a decoy of sorts. Right now he’s trying to match the physical game, but that won’t work.

One unsung player tonight was Sasha. What made his game such a big improvement over some games he’s had this year was his decision-making. The ball fakes, making the extra swing pass (like the one to Derek for 3 late in the game), and taking shots that aren’t rushed or off kilter were all elements of a pretty solid game from Sasha. Defensively he’s getting lost among the trees a bit, but that’s almost to be expected with the size the Jazz can throw down low. Sasha would be well advised to try and cut underneath the play along the baseline to pop out on the other side of traffic. He can’t do it every time, but when the Jazz pack the middle he can use his speed to catch up on the weak side of the play.

Derek was just money tonight. From that opening shot in the first 5 seconds, the guy played a great game. His defense on Deron Williams was again surprising, surely some comes from him mentoring him in Utah, but its still impressive to see him keep up with Williams as well as he has. Between him and Kobe anchoring this game, there was rarely, if ever, a moment of doubt that the Lakers would come out on top. That calm is a big result from Phil, but hopefully people won’t forget the big impact Derek has on this team, especially in games like these last 2.

Lastly, Kobe was spectacular tonight. The thing that struck me was that when he looked like he may be forcing shots, he had a pass in mind the whole time. That pass to Pau in the paint in the 4th quarter was pure beautiful basketball. He made some amazing shots, but most of all the cont4rol the Lakers showed when Utah made their run stemmed from both him and Derek. That right there is why he’s one of the best leaders in the NBA, if not the best.

The Jazz were still getting too many inside rebounds, but the difference in this game was that the Lakers, Lamar in particular, was seriously contesting every single board. That kind of effort on those missed shots will eventually wear down the Jazz’s physical play and get the Lakers back on a better rebounding track.

Key defensive moment came in the 4th around the 5-minute mark when Lamar and Pau teamed up to stuff Boozer in the lane. That plat right there is what the Lakers were doing well in the first half but sloughed off on. They have got to crowd the lane when Utah tries their 4th quarter push into the paint. It’s been 2 games now where the Jazz suddenly tries to play a drive and kick, but moreover a straight up driving game in the 4th quarter. The Lakers have got to be aware that it’s coming and keep crowding the lane with good enough spacing to put a hand in the face of a shot. They can do it, as that and other plays this game showed. Now it’s a matter of doing it quicker before Utah busts the leads down to shallow single digits.

Since Boozer has been pushed out of the paint effectively in these games it time to look to Millsap and ways to keep him from getting position so often. No doubt the guy is quick and strong but the Lakers look like they’re falling asleep on him far too often. They’ve got to get to him early as he looks to push from the side of the key inwards.

A 2-0 lead does not a series win, but its also not a bad jump to get as you go into one of the toughest places to play in the NBA.

If the Lakers maintain their admirable passing, communication on switches out up top and look to keeping that gorgeous balance of inside and out they had tonight, the wins should come no matter where they are.

For now, its not time to get cocky for the Lakers (and their fans), its time to hunker down and finish this team off as soon as possible.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Fri May 09, 2008 8:59 pm

Lakers vs. Jazz (Round 2 / Game 3 5/9/08)

The Lakers Beat Themselves In Game 3

The Lakers’ home court was defended. Now in Game 3 came the task of taking the same intensity, the same desire, and the same team play to the NBA’s toughest road arena.

However, that smart play that won Games 1 & 2 was left back in L.A..

In this one it wasn’t the arena that made it rough on the Lakers it was the Lakers themselves. I’ve said it for a while that the only team that can beat the Lakers right now is the Lakers. Tonight proved that point to a T as the Jazz simply swooped in on terribly disjointed and abnormally vacant play by the Lakers on both ends.

The first play with Pau and Kobe in the 1st quarter was exactly how Pau can take his game to the Jazz. He played a passive role, setting a screen, simply rolling while letting the attention go towards Kobe, and then got the pass for the easy deuce. That’s how Pau can do major damage.

But, Pau again had trouble tonight when he tried to go up one on one with strength or with the Jazz pulling Kirilenko or Boozer down into the paint. The blocked shot in the 1st quarter only needed a slight head fake or better yet, a pass back out to the perimeter to reset. Pau has got to use his smarts to make the Jazz almost forget about him, instead of him trying to power through an already strong interior Jazz D.

In the 4th quarter when Pau did just that, made himself a quiet sideline kind of player, the Jazz got scrambled on defense. He has got to step back into the shadows just a bit attacking much more from the quiet weak side of the ball rather than trying to be the bullying go-to guy down low, which he simply isn’t.

Early on that’s what the Lakers had trouble doing, getting the passing game going. They had a quick lead, but it was off of passing sets. As soon as the Lakers get lethargic in their off ball movement, the passes begin to take a backseat to one on one play that got the shot clock down too far or gave the Jazz time to really get set in their defensive spots. The key to this series is movement on all fronts. If the Lakers begin to think they can play one on one offense with a maximum of one pass per set, this series will get extended far longer than it should.

Kobe as again brilliant baiting whatever Jazz player was guarding him into the foul on the shot. Kobe’s 2nd half was much more efficient, but most of all it much more thought out. There was more help off the ball (at times) but mostly, it was Kobe putting his head down and really taking control of himself as he looked much more like the slicing Kobe of the first two games. What Kobe needs to watch is forcing the action. That’s his one hitch in his game, pushing the ball too deep into the clock without cycling the ball through the rest of the team.

When Kobe is driving and kicking in rhythm the Lakers are all moving off of him. In this game (in the 1st half) the Lakers were in watch mode. Hen Kobe did get the ball inside there was little to no movement around him. When the Lakers did move (as Ronny did early on) easy shots opened up all over the floor.

Well, now that I mentioned Ronny, the guy played Boozer real well. He played him just as you should. His spacing on him was perfect. He gave up the 10 to 12 footer but never really let Boozer have any room to get around him to get the easy lay-ups. Ronny only got lost on double screens sets that got Boozer a little freer inside, but in large Ronny played real solid defense.

Vladi looked fairly alert on the defensive end tonight initially. As soon as Kirilenko was getting the ball on the perimeter, Radmanovic was pressed right up on him, giving him no room to do anything but pass. The problem with Vladi’s defense tonight was that as the game wore on, Radmanovic lost sight of his man more and more. You’ll see Vladi get yanked out of the game as you did in the 1st half tonight abruptly because of this reason. That non-defense on Kirlenko’s 3 in the 3rd quarter was inexcusable.

The Jazz were trying to push Lamar out of the post tonight, Odom had none of it. He made a much more concerted effort to hold his ground on the inside. There was no easy pushing out in this one. Odom had trouble in the first couple of games keeping his spot. That wasn’t so in this one. The problem Lamar had tonight though is doubling off of Okur far too much and often when it was unnecessary.

Derek had a real good game through all the muck. His defense on Williams was invaluable right now. Also though his defense running off the pas was spectacular. I don’t think he got enough shots in this one really. But when Derek did get a shot he made good decisions with the ball. In particular Derek did a great job moving off of Williams sand surprisingly enough around screens.

It was the help D once Derek did get screened out that really kept the Lakers from keeping the jazz from cutting through the paint at will.

One of the keys to the Jazz having a better run of it in the 1st half was Derek’s foul trouble. When Farmar has to come in to defend Williams, the Lakers are at an inherent disadvantage simply because of size in the backcourt. So when Williams gets around Farmar, as he has fairly easily this series so far, the help has got to come early and not off of the perimeter, ala Lamar coming off of Okur. The help can come from Kobe off of Brewer preferably, leaving the Jazz a mid-range shot here and there but not giving them the chance for Okur, who can be streaky as heck, to get it going from beyond the arc.

Another key was the Lakers surviving the worst 18-minute span they’ve played in this series so far without being blown out. With Kobe shooting minimal shots, several easy shots missed, some bad decision on defense by almost everyone, the passing game voluntarily disappearing, Farmar running some odd plays (like the quick lay-up towards the end of the quarter), the turnover infection and some other clunky play they came out of it only down by 9. That right there was a sign that even when the Lakers play far below the top of their game, keeping up with the Jazz, even in Utah, isn’t impossible whatsoever.

At 5.24 in the 2nd quarter the Jazz were out of fouls. From that point on, the Lakers shot a minimal amount of free throws. Due to the game being in Utah, you had to know the fouls wouldn’t come in bunches like they did in the first 2 games. However, the Lakers did a better job in the first 2 games taking advantage of a foul-crippled Jazz team.

In the 4th you once again saw a tandem of Pau and Odom shut the middle down with a block a piece. Like I said in the last game, its that firm footing and smart positioning kind of defense on the inside that will force the Jazz to become more of a jump shooting team.

WTF Of The Game: The Jazz having the nerve to freak out about Kobe’s hook in the 3rd quarter. If The Jazz got called for that in every game, these games would be 30-point blowouts in the Lakers favor. I don’t think I’ve seen the Jazz have one drive (outside of Deron Williams) where someone hasn’t thrown an off arm a Laker’s way.

So here’s the thing – you beat brawn with brains and tonight, the Lakers just didn’t play smart. They started out doing alright, but fell apart as the turnovers and stagnant footwork took over. The Lakers did everything they could to give the game to the Jazz and the Jazz took it.

When you look back on this game you can rest assured that the Lakers lost it for themselves far more than the Jazz just beat them. Everything that could go wrong did at some point, yet down to the last second the Lakers were still within serious striking distance.

That in and of itself is a big positive to build off of. You can’t expect the Lakers to play as dimwitted as they did tonight in Game 4. Every Laker now knows what the Utah environment is like and the rash of mistakes that plagued the Lakers throughout this game simply won’t (and can’t) happen again.

Don’t freak out, the Lakers are still up 2-1. Going undefeated in the playoffs just wasn’t going to happen, everyone had to know that. Sure its odd, since the Lakers haven’t lost in a month to see them drop a game, but it happens. This is the playoffs, its never easy. Losing this game may actually work to the Lakers favor. It shows them that they can’t skate through the West. No matter what the regular season records are, everyone steps up in the second season.

Game 4 is now the time for the Lakers to step it back up.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Mon May 12, 2008 4:49 pm

Lakers vs. Jazz (Round 2 / Game 4 5/11/08)

All Tied Up And Back To L.A.

The Lakers went into Game 4 looking to get the win and wrap things up back home in 5, which would’ve been a real nice way to get some more rest before the next round and let the (now multiplying) bumps and bruises get some own time.

But, as we all know, it didn’t happen.

Before I get into the hows and whats of the game though, remember this in your pre-panic phase. The Lakers have yet to truly be beaten in this series. Both of these dings on the Lakers’ otherwise perfect playoff record have come largely in part to the Lakers not taking care of business. There hasn’t been something magical Utah’s done that has taken the Lakers out of their game. Both losses are mainly because of what the Lakers did wrong, rather than what Utah’s done right.

This isn’t to take credit away from the Jazz. They could’ve easily folded, but they fought back to tie it up. Great for them and all, but what is great for Laker fans is a couple things.

One, they’re getting tested. This kind of push into a 6 or maybe 7 game series can go a long way to fortifying this team. It gives them even more experience under duress (in more ways than one) and shows them that they can’t just cruise through these tough Western playoff rounds without giving it their concerted effort for 48 every night out.

Second, a longer, tougher series can get this team more sure of what they can and can’t do. It vividly illustrates the things they need to improve on, but on the more positive side it also shows them exactly what they can do that other teams can’t cope with.

Sure, the series is tied when it could’ve been finished with or been done this Wednesday, but things are what they are. And right now, things need to be addressed in order for the Lakers to finish off this series in their favor like they should.

First off, the giant positive in this game was Lamar. When Kobe tweaked his back and the Lakers had limited options (due to Pau playing in spurts), Lamar seriously took over. He showed elements of leadership in both keeping his teammates spirits up and becoming very aggressive to the basket. Lamar started things off a bit sleepy, letting the couple of alley-oops behind him go off with barely a nod. But once those were done, Odom woke up.

One instance came in the 2nd quarter when Sasha made an unsuccessful hustle play for a loose ball, but Odom came sweeping in, helped him up and got him back in the game, giving him a hand and making him get back in the game instead of sulking. That’s a Lamar that I don’t think anyone ever thought would emerge. If Kobe’s injury affects the team more, and even if it doesn’t, having yet another morale lifter on the court can keep the Lakers motor running when they hit those flat spots.

The entire game, I thought that the Lakers should have fed Lamar far more than they did. Not only because of his assertiveness, but because he flat out had Boozer’s number on both ends. Boozer was a no-show in the first half and that was because of Lamar again establishing position and holding it fervently even when the Jazz would try to push their way through. If Lamar is operating that successfully the rest of the Lakers (and the coaching staff) have got to swing the weight of the offense towards Lamar. He looked like he was ready to handle it yesterday. Hopefully come Wednesday’s Game 5, he’ll still be in that same alpha mode.

Pau improved his game as well. He wasn’t holding the ball so long in the post and even better he was stepping out of the paint more often waiting for the drive to collect attention and for him to swoop in. He was looking to pass it out, took more varied shots from the post and overall didn’t look like he was being overpowered at every turn.

Defensively he got into the mix better and made his presence known on a couple of boards. But as the game wore on, he still didn’t have that same positive hop in his step running the floor and moving without the ball. For the Lakers to get back to where they were in the first 2 games, Pau has simply got to be active on all fronts.

Derek was stellar in this one. Not only did he play under a ridiculous amount of juvenile ridicule puked his way by the less intelligent of the Jazz fans, he was playing like the vet the Lakers needed a couple years ago against Phoenix. That run of 3s he hit in the 4th was the old Fisher that can have an impact at any given point. More importantly Derek had a knack of doing what he had to when the Lakers needed it despite some heavy traffic in Utah’s defense. He’s gotten back to playing more of a point guard role, jabbing a bit here and there and throwing down some takes to the hoop once in a while as well.

Defensively, he has Deron’s number at times. Williams’ speed still stumps Derek but Fisher used his strength well working off of Utah’s screen sets. When Williams would beat him off of screen, Derek bullied his way through Utah’s traffic almost every time, keeping his body in front of Williams’. What he has to do next game is stop swiping at the ball. The refs are obviously sensitive to attempted steal this series and Derek has to adjust to stay on the court longer.

Luke did a good job of keeping physical with Harpring and moreover Korver, taking Korver off of his shooting game when he did. Luke was battling and had some real nice buckets in traffic to show for it.

Kobe’s back tweak had to have you squirming a bit. It most definitely had a hit on the Lakers’ morale. He lost his spring on his drives and subsequently lost some ability to pull Utah’s defense wherever he wanted them to go. Once his drive and kick took a backseat, so did the Lakers movement off the ball. They had poor movement for most of the game anyway, but when Kobe had trouble letting guys play off of his motion, it got worse.

It’s not fair to be too judgmental on Kobe because of his injury. Hopefully next game his back will shore up a bit and he can get back to inspiring the Lakers to move into option positions sharper than they did in this one.

There were a bunch of things the Lakers have got to kill by Wednesday.

One of the most subtle (as far as noticeable goes) things is going away from the hot hand. When Vladi had it going in Game 4, the Lakers left him out of the passing cycle for too long. In this one Fisher had it going early and the Lakers just didn’t exploit it enough.

Sasha has got to guard Korver according to his game. All Korver is in there for is to shoot, everyone knows that but for some reason both Sasha and the help off of screens with Korver let him loose way too easily on the arc. And really anywhere else he wanted to go.

The Lakers did a terrible job dropping to the level of the ball on both ends. Offensively when the ball was put in the paint, the driver was left almost alone. There were no options gotten through movement to the open spots, resulting in some blank drives that could’ve been easy scores. Defensively, when the ball was moved into the middle or along side the key the Lakers did the same thing. They’d have one defender dropping down and nobody else on the wing moving down with them. If they did move down they lost all sight of spacing to the outside shot and again let easy shots fly in from all over.

Every single Laker has got to stop leaping at the first he4ad fake they see. The 1 block out of every 10 leaps they do isn’t worth the chunk of points they give away by letting the Jazz run right by them unabated.

Bad shot decisions coupled with and apart from one pass offensive sets won’t get you anywhere on the road or at home.

Free throws – don’t miss so dang many free throws. 1 make out of the 10 missed would’ve finished that game in regulation – just 1. Don’t let it happen again.

Watch the 3rd quarter. Utah scored on almost every possession in the 3rd simply because the Lakers looked lethargic on defense. They know better and should be trying to keep extra sharp coming out of halftime.

Every chance the Lakers had to take the lead when they were tied was botched by rushed play or taking their eyes off the ball. Maybe some was due to the pressure, some due to the crowd, but mostly it was due to the Lakers not keeping their minds on the game.

Alright, I could go on but let me end on a big positive – something to take into Game 5s victory. Despite all the b.s. in the 1st half, the Lakers came out of it tied. They did that by keeping their composure. That veteran type of control in tough circumstances is what can get them through this round. They showed the focus is there, it just needs to be tapped into - it’s not that far beneath the surface.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Wed May 14, 2008 10:57 pm

Lakers vs. Jazz (Round2 / Game 5 5/14/08)

The Big 3 Play Big – Game 5 Goes The Lakers’ Way

It was Game 5, the most important game in a 7 game series if you ask me. Game 5’s usually swing momentum, regardless of home court, to the winner. With some fight, some spectacular play from the Lakers’ big 3, Game 5 went the Lakers’ way.

Immediately, better footwork from all on defense, but with some bad side effects. They just can’t let pushing up on guys and getting after a man right after a pass let the weak side get loose. It’s mainly up to Gasol to keep an eye to that diving man on the backside. It was Brewer getting crazy wide open looks at any place in the paint. From the alley-oops in the 1st quarter to the put back in the 3rd, he was running roughshod over the Lakers’ interior defense with very little resistance.

Kobe came out of the gates storming the Jazz. Most impressively his fast hands on defense had the Jazz committing some uncharacteristic early turnovers. When the ball got moved around him he was diving into the depths of the key with purpose.

Lamar did a strong job in the middle fending off the flailing off-arms of Okur. On every post Okur had, he was throwing his arm into Odom’s chest, but Lamar was giving up no ground without a fight. Since Game 3, Lamar has really improved his solid footing in all posts.

Offensively, Lamar is using his skill in breaking down the Jazz’s interior defense to get good looks for shooters (ala Radmanovic in the 1st quarter). He’s pushing the ball right into Boozer knowing that he can do nothing to keep up with him except foul. He was setting up the Jazz for those kick out passes is exactly what Kobe was doing in the first 2 games to major success. The aggression of Lamar on the offensive end to get to the post spots was great to see. From the outset, Odom was moving from defense to offensive postposition without any hesitation whatsoever. To that end, the Lakers have got to look to clear space in the lane for Odom.

The thing about Lamar was the leadership for the second straight game. When Lamar was the go-to guy or the Lakers needed a big bucket, Odom was the catalyst almost as much as Kobe was. Lamar played the entire game without making one poor decision. He had his eyes open to every play on the court. Couple that with the overall passion he’s shown the last 2 games and we all have a massively improved Lamar. While the Jazz have a big problem brewing for Game 6.

In one spell during the 2nd quarter where Pau stuck with his post shot 3 times to get the foul, it looked like Gasol found his groove. That play alone showed that Pau can get in there and at least mix it up with the rebounders of the Jazz. By even getting inside to cause traffic (like he does well on defense with Lamar against Boozer) he can disrupt the Jazz getting such easy boards. It may not pay off every time, but over the length of a game if Pau stayed persistent, helping to wear down the Jazz’s rebounding.

Pau had success tonight in diving down the lane for the running pass. The Lakers were running that play all year long and there’s no reason they can’t in this series. The Jazz were sagging off of Pau on dives tonight, the big difference was that both Pau and the passer was looking for it. That confidence from the dives translated into solid short range shooting from Pau. Once the shot started falling you saw Pau use that clogging position he got in the lane to get that huge lay-in late in the game and to get to the line as the second half wore on.

Pau was the factor that he was when he first got here. It looked like this game he finally found where he can be effective. After 4 games of spotty play, it looks like Pau has gotten to where he needs to be for the Lakers to move on.

It looked like the juvenile Jazz fans have fired up Fisher even more so. I don’t think it’s a giant factor in Derek’s motivation, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt Derek’s desire to see that group of disgraceful Jazz fans show their truly ugly colors. He’s had a real good series up to this game, but in this one his fire was shining through big time. His defense kept up the pace with his first 4 performances, but most of all you had to love the fight he was giving to get the ball inside a couple times in the 1st quarter.

The tenacity (like that dive for the loose ball with Boozer) of Fisher went a long way to setting the pace and style for the Lakers’ defense. Seeing Phil pulling him a touch too early was good. Avoiding those fouls that have sat Derek down in the last 2 is vital in the Lakers keeping Williams in check. But when Derek was in the game he did an admirable job of fighting around screens instead of jumping beneath them without ever putting up a fight. In fact, be still our collective hearts, but Derek was getting over screens today more often than he has in a long, long time. That alone had Williams running into his own man instead of finding wide open space to drive, pass or shoot.

When the Lakers were shooting on every foul in the 4th Derek played Williams off the ball to perfection. If he didn’t get the free throw he had Deron pulled away from every play in the paint. Deron’s quick hands were taken out of the equation.

Ronny was losing track of his man off of traps too much. In his effort to push the ball out of the high post, Ronny was giving up even better position down low, often fouling with reaches to try and make up for that lost ground. The coaching staff orders the trap, but that trap doesn’t have to be real tight pressure. Ronny can maintain his spacing between the trap and his man by backing off of his push a bit.

Good morning Mr. Farmar. He came onto the court looking tentative but the 3 he hit and the real nice lay-in through traffic for the 3-point play will hopefully get Jordan back to the level of confidence and hustle he’s shown all year. Jordan needs to go right back into Williams when he gets ran on himself. If Deron wants to push the ball at him, Jordan needs to push right back, not sink into a passive role on the offensive end.

Kobe was a warrior – again. That flat 3rd quarter saw Kobe absolutely imposing his will on the Jazz defense. Despite whom they were throwing his way, Kobe was breaking them down off the dribble. A couple MVP-ish fouls were in there, but for the most part he had every Jazz defender immediately backpedaling to try to keep up with him.

Once Kobe got the Jazz more worried about the foul on him than playing help defense, Utah expended a ton of energy on defense and the offensive game took a hit. It was Kobe’s ability to pick and choose his spots in this one that really got the Lakers in rhythm when they needed it most.

I said it my first article of this series, the match up with Harpring on the floor is the one to watch. As the Lakers’ defense on him or as Harpring has gone, so has the bench play of both teams. The Lakers were letting way too many good spots go under the basket with no contest. As Lamar was looking for Boozer, Harpring was getting loose far too much. Between those possessions and the spots given up to Brewer for open scores, the Lakers let the Jazz close the gap in the 1st quarter too quickly without really running any play.

Tonight saw an interesting ploy by the Lakers, playing units to speed the pace up. When they did it took the Jazz out of any kind of grind it out style they want to impose with their bench. The bad thing was that since Phil threw that lineup in the Lakers looked like they were caught in that mode. They were playing far too panicked, looking to make ill-advised plays about every other time down the floor. From those ill-advised plays (actually compounding on the Lakers’ earlier sloppy ball handling) came the turnover parade.

Unforced turnovers, not just turnovers, but these wild errant passes from the Lakers simply can’t happen. They had a lot of easy possessions with plenty of time on the clock, yet for some reason the Lakers were forcing tough angled or traffic-laden passes.

A lot of Lakers can prevent some of these ticky-tack reaches. Every Laker at one point or another is running at slashers when they have plenty of time to stop in the pathway of the drive. One small short stop can draw a charge, get the Jazz to throw a bad pass or push them into a tougher / lower percentage shot.

I could go on, but the important thing is that the Lakers had faith in each other tonight. From Kobe trusting Sasha with shots even though he was as cold as he’s ever been and Lamar looking for spot-ups on drives, moments of decent communication on D (though it could be a lot better in Game 6) and keeping each other going when the game got tight or someone was cold (ala Kobe staying on Farmar from the moment he came in the game to when he sat), the Lakers looked not so much like one player on a mission as in the past.

The Lakers played that 4th quarter like a team on a mission.

They say the series doesn’t start until a team wins a game on the other’s court.

Well its time for the Lakers to start and finish this series in Game 6.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Sat May 17, 2008 12:25 pm

Lakers vs. Jazz (Round 2 / Game 6 5/16/08)

Utah Thwarted – 8 More To Go

The Lakers move onto the Western Conference finals, but not after some interesting games in this series and above all the Lakers might have learned more about themselves in this series.

Right from the beginning the Lakers came out with that first hard strike that has served them well all year. Sure, they’ve let teams into games, but it was so vital to dive into this game with determination to get the Jazz on their heels, the arena quieted down and the game within their pace quickly. The Lakers did just that, pushing the Jazz into a bit of a scrambled defensive mode in the 1st quarter.

Every score for the Lakers in the 1st quarter and in the 1st half in general was coming easy. It was coming easy because the Lakers learned that between Lamar pounding the ball right down the middle of the paint and Pau filling the sides of the key, the Jazz had no recourse but to let someone free for an easy shot. Watching the Lakers finally realize this inherent advantage (simply because of personnel) was a big step in the hopefully long-range success of the team. If Lamar can continue to jab into the paint with his dribble, taking a power forward along with him for the ride the court will open up real wide.

If you noticed (and I’m sure most did), the more aggressive Lamar was getting into the teeth of the Jazz’s defense, the more space Kobe, Derek and most of the Laker shooters had to operate. It wasn’t just open shots, but it was creating room for everyone to move off the ball better. That off ball movement is the absolute lifeblood of the Laker machine.

That movement had Utah looking downright confused at points. They were sent into a bit of a panic mode on defense while the Lakers continued to expand the lay-up drill that was the 1st half.

Meanwhile the Laker defense did a fantastic job of packing the middle early on. Any drive the Jazz attempted was met with early help and tons of traffic in the paint. So as the jazz tried to open up the middle of the Laker defense, they were forced to kick it out for lower percentage shots and at the very worst, even normally open drives for Utah were met with some kind of opposition.

The Lakers looked like they learned the benefit of early help on quick guards and small jabs into the side of the paint.

And again, the defensive stand-out was Derek. The defensive ability he showed this entire series was amazing to see. As he struggled with screens and picks all year, this series saw none of that. Surely some come from knowing how the Jazz like to run their offense, but the majority of Derek’s good defensive play came from smart vision. You could tell the communication was improved in this game. What Fisher really did well was attacking off the weak side of the ball. When a drive was going in, or a break got by someone, Derek swooped in really nicely a couple of times in this game (most notably the cleanest steal of the year off of Williams in the 2nd half)

There were still moments of Derek running under screens here and there, but his recovery speed came out of nowhere in this one. When he couldn’t recover the Lakers did a good job of sealing up wide-open looks in the key.

Offensively, Fisher has just been on fire this series. His percentage from beyond the arc has been great and better yet, this series saw a bit of a revival of Derek taking the ball to the rack like a point guard again.

Another thing the Lakers learned in this series was exactly how Pau can be most effective. Pau did a slightly better job in this one of keeping the ball away from the quick hands of the smaller players, but still struggled with his swing move for the hook shot or baby jumper. Mostly though, Pau was playing the low post complementary to his style. He wasn’t necessarily getting into the meat of the mix on boards, but he did a good job of waiting on the wings and swooping in from the side of the key to give some height into the middle.

What Pau lacks in physicality, he more than makes up for in intelligence and almost stealthy play at times. Pau got some confidence in running the middle back, but still has to get back to that crisp movement he had earlier in the regular season. I expect if the Lakers play a less physical team (which they will in the next round) Pau’s movement will free up quite a bit. Pau still looked tentative on a lot of shots in this one. Maybe he was afraid of being blocked, but whatever it was, Pau has got to be stronger in his conviction to finish a play he easily can.

The recurring dividend in this one (and in the series really) came on the defensive end. Pau has really done a good job being part of the help in the middle and rattling off some unforeseen blocks that shored up the inside D. He didn’t leave Lamar alone in the middle (as the Jazz did with Boozer), at almost every turn Pau was right alongside of him making easy inside scores tough for the Jazz to get.

For my money, I think Sasha played a key role not only this game, but in the whole series. When Farmar fell beyond flat, Sasha did a more than respectable job of coming in to spell the backcourt. Then when Vladi had off games, Sasha came in and filled that void as well. In this game, Sasha had some moments of ragged manic play on the offensive end, as he is apt to have. But couple with that were a couple of real nice plays, the least of which was the great drive he had in the 2nd (and later on the 3rd) quarter when he had the Jazz set up for him tossing up a 3. I like his fearlessness in shooting in this one too. Shooting 1-11 last game, a lot of players would lose confidence, but it was great to see it have no effect on a young player like Sasha.

Sasha also had a good game of getting to his spots earlier in sets than he did in Game 5. There was rarely a time that Sasha was out of step.

Defensively, Sasha did a better job on Korver than he had ion previous games. Korver wasn’t getting free off of his baseline runs at all. Sasha, did real well not getting tempted into futile help in the middle, letting Korver get free along the 3 point line.

I touched on Lamar earlier in this, but I don’t think enough can be said of the absolutely huge role he played in this game, but more importantly, Lamar was a massive reason the Lakers got this series done inside of the dreaded 7th game. It was mostly on the offensive end where Lamar really had the jazz stuck with no answer. His recognition of open lanes, even pretty tight ones, in this game was on the money. For the 3rd time in a row Lamar had almost a flawless game in regards to decision making.

Kobe was Kobe again tonight. That shot he hit off the board in the 4th was goose bump-worthy. For the 6th game in a row Kobe’s quick first step (even with the bad back) tore up the jazz’s inside defense, and the subsequent help by forcing the jazz to play defense with their hands rather than their feet. Underscored in this game was Kobe’s defense.

The easy looks that Brewer and Deron got on the inside were all shut down buy some very good defensive spacing by Kobe. There was no room left for the Jazz to move once Kobe found his spot on the defense in between the off man and the drive.

What Kobe needs to be careful of on the defensive end is taking a step away from his man when they pull p for the shot. There were several times in this game where his man would rise up for the shot but for some reason Kobe was backpedaling instead of standing up where he was with hands up or getting a hand in their face.

I mean, there’s not much more to say, but Kobe had you watching this game and this series with your mouth open wondering what else he can be capable of.

I don’t think picking on Farmar will prove any point. Suffice it to say that Jordan’s game can take a big step forward if he stops putting his teammates in bad spots like he did in this one. Make the early pass and cut off of it. Jordan knows what to do; he showed it this whole year. It was a bad series for him; the next round will hopefully be different.

Luke did a good job today of not letting Harpring get free for shots in this one. Game 5 saw Luke struggling to keep up with Harpring’s movement, but Luke did a considerably better job running through traffic to stay on Harpring’s hip.

Ronny had trouble staying on his feet. Looking for the block is fine, in fact he had a real strong one in this game, but for Ronny to have more of an impact he’s got to pick and choose his leaps much better than he did in this game.

Alright, so, I know it was along article, but its hard not to be excited about the prospects of this team. With each of these first 2 rounds you’ve seen the Lakers learn about the kind of team they are, use that to their advantage and best of all, close a series out when they had the chance.

Sure the Jazz had a comeback in this one, but these are the best 8 teams in the league, they don’t go down without a serious fight (as this whole second round can attest to, outside of the Orlando / Detroit series).

The big thing in this Game 6 (and subsequently the playoffs so far) was/is the calm the Lakers played with when things got hairy. The control of a veteran team that’s confident in what they need to do to win was happily evident.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Wed May 21, 2008 9:43 pm

Lakers vs. Spurs (WCF Game 1 5/21/08)

Utah Thwarted – 8 More To Go

The Lakers move onto the Western Conference finals, but not after some interesting games in this series and above all the Lakers might have learned more about themselves in this series.

Right from the beginning the Lakers came out with that first hard strike that has served them well all year. Sure, they’ve let teams into games, but it was so vital to dive into this game with determination to get the Jazz on their heels, the arena quieted down and the game within their pace quickly. The Lakers did just that, pushing the Jazz into a bit of a scrambled defensive mode in the 1st quarter.

Every score for the Lakers in the 1st quarter and in the 1st half in general was coming easy. It was coming easy because the Lakers learned that between Lamar pounding the ball right down the middle of the paint and Pau filling the sides of the key, the Jazz had no recourse but to let someone free for an easy shot. Watching the Lakers finally realize this inherent advantage (simply because of personnel) was a big step in the hopefully long-range success of the team. If Lamar can continue to jab into the paint with his dribble, taking a power forward along with him for the ride the court will open up real wide.

If you noticed (and I’m sure most did), the more aggressive Lamar was getting into the teeth of the Jazz’s defense, the more space Kobe, Derek and most of the Laker shooters had to operate. It wasn’t just open shots, but it was creating room for everyone to move off the ball better. That off ball movement is the absolute lifeblood of the Laker machine.

That movement had Utah looking downright confused at points. They were sent into a bit of a panic mode on defense while the Lakers continued to expand the lay-up drill that was the 1st half.

Meanwhile the Laker defense did a fantastic job of packing the middle early on. Any drive the Jazz attempted was met with early help and tons of traffic in the paint. So as the jazz tried to open up the middle of the Laker defense, they were forced to kick it out for lower percentage shots and at the very worst, even normally open drives for Utah were met with some kind of opposition.

The Lakers looked like they learned the benefit of early help on quick guards and small jabs into the side of the paint.

And again, the defensive stand-out was Derek. The defensive ability he showed this entire series was amazing to see. As he struggled with screens and picks all year, this series saw none of that. Surely some come from knowing how the Jazz like to run their offense, but the majority of Derek’s good defensive play came from smart vision. You could tell the communication was improved in this game. What Fisher really did well was attacking off the weak side of the ball. When a drive was going in, or a break got by someone, Derek swooped in really nicely a couple of times in this game (most notably the cleanest steal of the year off of Williams in the 2nd half)

There were still moments of Derek running under screens here and there, but his recovery speed came out of nowhere in this one. When he couldn’t recover the Lakers did a good job of sealing up wide-open looks in the key.

Offensively, Fisher has just been on fire this series. His percentage from beyond the arc has been great and better yet, this series saw a bit of a revival of Derek taking the ball to the rack like a point guard again.

Another thing the Lakers learned in this series was exactly how Pau can be most effective. Pau did a slightly better job in this one of keeping the ball away from the quick hands of the smaller players, but still struggled with his swing move for the hook shot or baby jumper. Mostly though, Pau was playing the low post complementary to his style. He wasn’t necessarily getting into the meat of the mix on boards, but he did a good job of waiting on the wings and swooping in from the side of the key to give some height into the middle.

What Pau lacks in physicality, he more than makes up for in intelligence and almost stealthy play at times. Pau got some confidence in running the middle back, but still has to get back to that crisp movement he had earlier in the regular season. I expect if the Lakers play a less physical team (which they will in the next round) Pau’s movement will free up quite a bit. Pau still looked tentative on a lot of shots in this one. Maybe he was afraid of being blocked, but whatever it was, Pau has got to be stronger in his conviction to finish a play he easily can.

The recurring dividend in this one (and in the series really) came on the defensive end. Pau has really done a good job being part of the help in the middle and rattling off some unforeseen blocks that shored up the inside D. He didn’t leave Lamar alone in the middle (as the Jazz did with Boozer), at almost every turn Pau was right alongside of him making easy inside scores tough for the Jazz to get.

For my money, I think Sasha played a key role not only this game, but in the whole series. When Farmar fell beyond flat, Sasha did a more than respectable job of coming in to spell the backcourt. Then when Vladi had off games, Sasha came in and filled that void as well. In this game, Sasha had some moments of ragged manic play on the offensive end, as he is apt to have. But couple with that were a couple of real nice plays, the least of which was the great drive he had in the 2nd (and later on the 3rd) quarter when he had the Jazz set up for him tossing up a 3. I like his fearlessness in shooting in this one too. Shooting 1-11 last game, a lot of players would lose confidence, but it was great to see it have no effect on a young player like Sasha.

Sasha also had a good game of getting to his spots earlier in sets than he did in Game 5. There was rarely a time that Sasha was out of step.

Defensively, Sasha did a better job on Korver than he had ion previous games. Korver wasn’t getting free off of his baseline runs at all. Sasha, did real well not getting tempted into futile help in the middle, letting Korver get free along the 3 point line.

I touched on Lamar earlier in this, but I don’t think enough can be said of the absolutely huge role he played in this game, but more importantly, Lamar was a massive reason the Lakers got this series done inside of the dreaded 7th game. It was mostly on the offensive end where Lamar really had the jazz stuck with no answer. His recognition of open lanes, even pretty tight ones, in this game was on the money. For the 3rd time in a row Lamar had almost a flawless game in regards to decision making.

Kobe was Kobe again tonight. That shot he hit off the board in the 4th was goose bump-worthy. For the 6th game in a row Kobe’s quick first step (even with the bad back) tore up the jazz’s inside defense, and the subsequent help by forcing the jazz to play defense with their hands rather than their feet. Underscored in this game was Kobe’s defense.

The easy looks that Brewer and Deron got on the inside were all shut down buy some very good defensive spacing by Kobe. There was no room left for the Jazz to move once Kobe found his spot on the defense in between the off man and the drive.

What Kobe needs to be careful of on the defensive end is taking a step away from his man when they pull p for the shot. There were several times in this game where his man would rise up for the shot but for some reason Kobe was backpedaling instead of standing up where he was with hands up or getting a hand in their face.

I mean, there’s not much more to say, but Kobe had you watching this game and this series with your mouth open wondering what else he can be capable of.

I don’t think picking on Farmar will prove any point. Suffice it to say that Jordan’s game can take a big step forward if he stops putting his teammates in bad spots like he did in this one. Make the early pass and cut off of it. Jordan knows what to do; he showed it this whole year. It was a bad series for him; the next round will hopefully be different.

Luke did a good job today of not letting Harpring get free for shots in this one. Game 5 saw Luke struggling to keep up with Harpring’s movement, but Luke did a considerably better job running through traffic to stay on Harpring’s hip.

Ronny had trouble staying on his feet. Looking for the block is fine, in fact he had a real strong one in this game, but for Ronny to have more of an impact he’s got to pick and choose his leaps much better than he did in this game.

Alright, so, I know it was along article, but its hard not to be excited about the prospects of this team. With each of these first 2 rounds you’ve seen the Lakers learn about the kind of team they are, use that to their advantage and best of all, close a series out when they had the chance.

Sure the Jazz had a comeback in this one, but these are the best 8 teams in the league, they don’t go down without a serious fight (as this whole second round can attest to, outside of the Orlando / Detroit series).

The big thing in this Game 6 (and subsequently the playoffs so far) was/is the calm the Lakers played with when things got hairy. The control of a veteran team that’s confident in what they need to do to win was happily evident.


Focus Wins The Day

The rust was apparent as the game opened. Though the Lakers had moments of good play, they definitely looked like a team that has had a bit too much time away from game situations. Defensively there were moments of obvious breakdowns that weren’t happening when the Lakers were in rhythm. However, this is a totally different team than the Jazz or Nuggets and adjustment will happen.

In the end, the Lakers showed patience and concentration that Phil Jackson teams always have. It served them well in what is hopefully the most disjointed game they’ll play in this series.

What’s important for the Lakers is that the period of adjustment is as short as possible. This is practically the same team the Lakers’ leaders Kobe, Phil and Derek have seen time and again.

Fisher has got to always remember to give up ground on the outside, not to give any room for Parker to move down and into the paint. The obvious key with parker is keeping him out of short range. Early on in the game Derek was giving ground way too easily on the outside, letting Parker get into the paint with virtually no resistance.

Derek would be well served to not necessarily try to beat the speed of parker on defense, but to at least get the ball into his chest, making him backpedal or need help from the Duncan or Odom. If he can get the Spurs to move off of the side posts on defense it would not only vary his game up, but it would get open looks for Gasol (especially) and Odom on the easy shovel passes. You saw in the 3rd quarter when Derek had a nice take on the Spurs to get the lay-up in traffic. He’s got to pull that move off almost every other time, balancing between outside and inside better.

Gasol tends to not use the glass when he’s trying to throw in a chippy from short range. If he’d look to use the bank shot on closer shots he may have better luck in getting those to fall. The nice post move he had on Duncan in the 1st quarter is the kind of mobility that he can exploit against Duncan’s D. Pau just has to do what he did with Utah successfully, step 2 steps out of the paint and let drives give him the room to scoer easy.

Lamar has got to keep fighting through no calls or fouls he thinks he should get like he did in the 1st quarter. There were 3 instances where Lamar got tapped on his way up to the rack, but he did a good job of keeping at the rebound despite no whistle. Lamar just looked like he eventually got caught up in the refs and let it affect his transition game and ultimately his concentration.

That first 3 hit by Farmar couldn’t have been a better sign. The Spurs’ points are much more suited to Jordan’s game. The aggressive lay-up with the foul he got in the 2nd spoke volumes to Jordan looking like he found a bit more space for his game against the Spurs.

Defensively Jordan got a long run in the 1st half, doing a better job of spacing off of Parker, letting him get more open outside shots than views into driving lanes. But as theat run kept going Farmar looked intimidated again. For some reason he’s shying awayfrom the contact on drives that he was so willingly giving during the regular season. He did better in his time on the floor, and I don’t think this is a permanent thing for his game. But for Jordan to get more minutes he’s got to keep moving like he showed everyone he can. Moving to one spot and stopping never to move again in a set doesn’t work on either end of the floor.

Radmanovic did alright in this one, looking to do more than chuck it up from range. There was a nice tip-in a couple good takes right down the throat of the Sours’ D and overall Vladi played a much-needed active and varied game. Again though, the problem came on defense, where he just looks a half step slow no matter who he’s guarding. He was getting lost off of screens and any kind of traffic.

Ronny did a great job on Duncan in the 1st half. In particular he stayed on his feet perfectly. He didn’t bite on fakes, let his blocking instinct take a backseat and really bodied up on Duncan early in the post. Then came the 3rd quarter where Duncan just straight up used Ronny on the post. He started going for the fakes and left the floor one too many times, letting Duncan get to the line. Those trips to the line slowed the Lakers pace and often got them off kilter right when the rhythm looked like it was going to kick in.

The match up serves well to spell Odom or Gasol for small runs, but I think Phil left Ronny on the floor about 5 minutes too long in this one.

Kobe was so in pass first mode that there were at least 3 wide-open lanes directly in front of him that he was out and out turning down. This pass first mode for Kobe is great to have come from your superstar, but I’d hope that in the rest of this series (which is going to be tight the whole way through) Kobe doesn’t wait 2 and a half quarters to fire the game up.

Tonight though he did a great job in just firing up the team. Once he got his game going, you saw the huge jump in everyone’s play and activity. Most of it was in the sharpness of play. Everyone was back to getting to spots crisply and being in option spots they ignored earlier on. There came a bit of a watch Kobe play time in the 4th, but it faded quickly after a timeout.

When all is said and done Kobe played like an MVP – again. He stepped in when the team needed him most without taking the whole game away from everyone and took the game into the win column on his back.

Sasha was player of the game for my money. He was the only one I’ve seen this playoffs finally making Ginobli go right. He shaded him at every chance to his right and never really let Ginobli find a lane that wasn’t dictated by Sasha’s defense first. Once that drive was taken away Sasha did incredibly well coming off screens to keep up with him.

And in the end for a young player like Sasha to hit 2 clutch free throws like that was awesome.

There was obviously good in the game, but there was quite a bit of junk coming from the Lakers too.

Good rebounding effort on the defensive end. Long rebounds looked to be a bit of a problem as the Lakers did do a good job of packing the middle. This is a differently rebounding team than the jazz, but the Lakers looked like they were still expecting the highly physical inside play that Utah threw at them. The traffic in the middle is good to see though; it just can’t come at the expense of sending someone out to about 6 or 7-foot range to rove for longer boards.

The Lakers had some decent cuts / dives while they looked to push the ball inside early. The blocking foul Odom drew on Oberto in the 1st quarter was a good example of the Lakers not looking to play to the Spurs defense, but rather have the Spurs adjust to their aggressiveness.

There was a bit too much manic play once the ball got into the high post. The Lakers looked like they were pushing the tempo a bit too fast to stay within the methodical offense that serves them best.

The Lakers had the ball hit multiple stagnant points on offense. When the ball got caught up on the sides of the court, motion stopped and the Lakers looked stifled. The problem was that stuck play was the fault of the Lakers. The Spurs played good solid defense in the middle but it wasn’t enough to keep the Lakers from moving to pass option spots and easing up their spacing more.

There was a fantastic / stupendous sign in this game. At the first timeout in the 2nd quarter the Lakers evened the game up without Kobe on the floor – and without Kobe scoring point 1 yet.

The Lakers got beat far too much. There was no help coming onto Parker on his drives and when the Lakers did finally do something to get in their way, they were playing the last resort hands-first defense.

One to no pass offense was pervasive tonight. They did nothing to rotate the ball around the perimeter. No movement off the ball, minimal cuts and basically the Lakers were a team of guys standing around waiting for the other guy to wake up first.

7 missed lay-ups don’t help. It speaks loudly to the amount of mildew that was all over the Lakers’ game.

And the thing is I can go on with everything the Lakers did wrong. Yet despite all of this (and more) they came out with the win. I really don’t think the Lakers could play any worse for about ¾ of the game. The fact that they won (and they won without going 3-point crazy which was great to see develop) is a testament to this team’s newfound (to this season) ability to stay under control in the worst circumstances.

Being home or not, you’re talking about a mostly inexperienced playoff team (in regards to Conference Finals experience) coming back from a 20-point deficit to steal a game against a far more seasoned veteran championship caliber team.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby revgen on Wed May 21, 2008 11:52 pm

^ I understand why Kobe wasn't shooting in the first half, but he should have started scoring right when the 3rd Quarter started instead of waiting halfway through it.

In the end I wasn't worried when were down 20 since Kobe hadn't scored much yet, and we all know Kobe can get his whenever he wants to.
"Every time he’s hurt, he always plays, he always comes through."

- Metta World Peace on teammate Kobe Bryant
revgen
HDTV/Multimedia Guru
 
Posts: 21721
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 10:53 pm
Location: Southern California

Postby crucifido on Fri May 23, 2008 10:31 pm

Lakers vs. Spurs (WCF Game 2 5/23/08)

The Killer Instinct And Game 2

The monster comeback still fresh in their minds, the Lakers came into this one obviously looking to hold home court. But they gave themselves, and us, much more. They showed the drive of a team looking to dominate, not just win.

All the doubts we as fans (and to some extent the coaching staff) had about this team’s willingness to step on the throats of a downed opponent are now erased.

Watching this team expose that aspect of their collective personality was simply beautiful.

The start was great – as the 2 coldest guys on the court, Fisher and Odom, had real nice aggressive takes to the hoop before the Spurs even got their feet set on D. That aggression didn’t quit and that’s what made this game so special. The Lakers showed a killer instinct to the level of an assassin. When they were up 9, they pushed to 18, up by 18 they pushed beyond 25. This was the kind of game the Lakers have got to deposit in their memories permanently.

Better yet, Derek kept it going by really looking to get the ball jabbed into the Spurs’ defense. That kind of genuine point guard play will get the Spurs backing off of the mid-range game that can be lit up by several Lakers. By getting away from the exclusive outside shooting (especially since it wasn’t working last game) it opened up Derek’s game exponentially.

Good god, Lamar’s confidence is beyond sky high. The multiple strong takes he had to the middle, cutting off of outside ball movement and making the Spurs part the seas in the paint for his move to the rack were amazing. Having a guy with his height to stay in Duncan’s chest, keeping him on his heels while he uses his now excellent footwork to keep looking for space around him was nearly indefensible.

The thing with Lamar in this game is that not too long ago when Lamar had a bad game he’d string together a couple more behind it. Now with this year’s playoffs Lamar is coming off of bad games with a chip on his shoulder. He did a great job in staying aggressive on every single rebound and making his presence not only felt, but painful for the Spurs to try and rotate over to. I don’t remember a single defensive rebound coming off the board or rim that Lamar was not in the thick of the mix for. It got to a point in the 3rd that the rest of the Lakers were even backing off of the paint, letting Lamar take over underneath and getting out on the break quicker than they have in the playoffs yet.

That was Lamar’s best playoff game yet as a Laker.

Pau has to make real sure that once Duncan gets into the post he does his best in keeping him from getting those 2 dribbles into the paint. Once Duncan gets those 2 steps in on Gasol or anyone who’s guarding him, it’s a guaranteed bucket or foul. What Pau did real well was work the high post, dribbling down low then looking for the dish. That increasingly aggressive move as the game went on started paying off more and more as Lamar found his room. That’s the kind of game that Pau can excel at – 3 steps out of the block and using his mobility to get Duncan going backwards.

The pass he had to Lamar towards the end of the 3rd was outstanding. It was that perfect example of keeping Duncan in a backwards motion, unable to either keep up with Pau moving onto the baseline or turn to help a cutting / diving Lamar.

Welcome back to the fold Jordan. After that amazing block he had on Udoka, Jordan’s confidence was soaring. You could see it in his dribble coming into the frontcourt. There was a more certain hop in his step and above all he wasn’t turning down open shots. It is so important for Farmar to be a part of this run. Being able to sit Derek for as long as Phil did in this game will pay huge dividends not only in this series but also in the Finals if the Lakers make it that far. The best aspect of Jordan’s game was his movement off of passing on offense. Versus Utah he passed and stood still waiting for the play to come back to him. Tonight, you saw the Farmar that passes and cuts to the next spot in the set without hesitation. That right there will get him more looks and keep the Spurs’ small guards out of the paint and away from swiping distance on posts and drives by the Laker bigs.

Man that block and moreover the hustle to get back on D was incredible.

Sasha, for the second time in a row, played stupendous defense on Ginobili. The shading to the right is so simple, yet brilliant and above all Sasha’s motion while Ginobili tries to shake him loose off the ball is exactly where it should be. His spacing off of him is perfect.

Then with Sasha playing such hustle defense on him he has Manu looking over his shoulder on every single possession. When he takes that second glance its throwing him off of his shooting rhythm and taking away that quick first step he uses to get himself into the Laker paint. I don’t think enough can be said about Sasha’s contribution to this series so far. The guy has been an unexpected giant player against some seriously formidable competition in Ginobili.

Moving from Ginobili to Barry, he did a real good job chasing him in off of 3-point line and keeping an eye on his popping out to the arc. As Sasha moved through the Spurs defensively, he wound up having an adverse effect on their entire offensive game plan. It was a performance from Sasha that hopefully won’t get buried beneath Odom’s astounding game.

The Lakers cannot let Bowen get the look from the corner for his 3’s. It’s a simple screen and roll to the outside that escapes the Lakers’ view. It’s done well with Duncan usually giving the screen, but whoever is switched onto Bowen form that can’t just stop at the screen. They’ve got to fight to get around it. Right now, the Lakers are looking like they give up and going onto underneath the board, leaving Bowen truly wide open way too much.

There was a spectacular bounce pass from Ronny to Kobe in the 1st. Then comes a couple off passes that Ronny that loves to try. It’s the flat angled passes that he’s trying too much. He’s got to turn down the notion to pass through traffic in favor of resetting the ball outside with Kobe or Lamar.

Kobe was smooth as silk today. The setting up of his teammates did take a back seat in favor of some quick strikes. You saw how those strikes got the team buzzing around quicker. By Kobe taking his shots at varied times in games, he’s keeping the Spurs guessing at how to defend the Lakers. I wouldn’t be surprised that in Game 3 Kobe goes back to waiting in the weeds until a little later (say mid-2nd quarter) to make his move.

Really, this game was not as much about Kobe’s stats as it was about how he used the attention of the Spurs defense to his teammates’ advantage.

There was a spot in the 2nd quarter where the Spurs scored only 2 points in 3 minutes and the Lakers had some real trouble cashing in on it. There were a lot of ill-advised passes inside and some bad communication on passes off of screens that had the Lakers looking more scattered than they should’ve been in a flat stretch by San Antonio.

Defensively the Lakers have got to stop helping so early on Duncan. Gasol definitely has problems with him but you can’t help onto Duncan before he even gets the ball on the floor. When they rotated so quickly to double Duncan it opened up pass options (particularly in the corners) far more and wider than when they let Pau play one on one.

Yes, the Spurs had some serious runs of poor shooting, but I attribute a whole bunch of that to the Lakers coming out with a defensive mindset form the beginning. The Lakers came into the game not looking to get incredibly offensive against the Lakers. Every man stayed tight on their man and did a more than decent job of help and recovery, giving the Spurs a real rough time finding not only a good shot, but a good shot in the rhythm of the offense or individual player.

It goes to show that when the Lakers come into a game looking to put their focus on the defensive end first, they get a ton of confidence on the offensive end. That’s the way successful teams work. That defense gave the Lakers enough toughness to look to get inside early and kept their footwork getting more and more crisp as the game went on.

So yeah, this was amazing (and any other adjective you can think of) but the series is still going on. Sure the Spurs now have to win 4 out of the next 5 games to advance past the Lakers, but you cannot just count them out. These are the defending champs who have the experience, talent and know-how to prevail. These are good days for the Lakers right now, but the team can’t buy into their own hype.

The Lakers have got to remain not just hungry, but ravenous going into San Antonio. Win this game on Sunday and the stranglehold is on. Right now the Lakers have knocked the Spurs to the ground, but the main goal can’t be ignored. Take advantage of this jump and knock them out for good by playing with passion, heart and the desire they showed tonight on Sunday.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Sun May 25, 2008 8:10 pm

Lakers vs. Spurs (WCF Game 3 5/25/08)

Frozen From The Outside And Stagnant On The Inside

Everyone, Spurs included knew that coming into this game the pressure was squarely on the shoulders of the Spurs. Unfortunately the Lakers looked like a team that was counting on that cushion to shield them from a motivated Spurs team instead of getting after them early and getting their backs against the wall quickly.

It was a rocky start with the Lakers bobbling the ball on the offensive end and looking a bit scatterbrained on the defensive end. Once the Lakers hook the jitters off, they began to play with remarkable control. Even when the crowd noise started swelling a bit and the Spurs were looking spryer, every possession up the court was taken with calm strides. No matter who was taking the ball up, the Lakers were looking in control of themselves and the pace of the game in the first half.

The problem was that the Lakers, though playing calm, were playing slow. All the good footwork from Games 1 & 2 took the sideline as the watch and run away game took over.

The Lakers did an immediately good job on the inside D. They crowded every lay-up or chippy the Spurs worked for and subsequently rattled the Spurs into either missing the shot or got the board with relative ease.

Kobe opened up the game hot. It wasn’t but 1 minute into the game when you already saw the hop in Kobe’s step that always spells danger. He did a fantastic job in hitting his outside jumpers and thereby pulling Bowen out of the high post. As he got pulled out up high there was plenty of room for Odom and Gasol to move through the paint uncontested.

What Kobe was doing oddly was taking his drive into the teeth of the Spurs offense when he had plenty of room for an outside to baseline run. Maybe some is to break down the interior defense, but Kobe has to be careful about turning down the easy shot in favor of taking the tough one. Obviously the Spurs want to funnel him into Duncan and the PF on the court at the time.

Defensively Kobe had some moments of brilliant help. One in particular was off of Bowen into Duncan in the 1st quarter, causing Duncan to absolutely chunk an easy shot. It was a matter of the Spurs hitting so many outside shots from questionable inside defense that pulled Kobe out of the middle, allowing the Spurs to remove the Lakers’ best defender from the place he was doing his damage in.

Farmar’s confidence may be back in full. After his sizzling game in Game 2, you could see the same Jordan come onto the court right away. He had a beautiful lay-up with Parker glued to him in the 1st quarter. So not only is the shot falling (ala his first of the game – a 3), but that slashing motion he used earlier in the year from the side of the court along the baseline looks to be back as well. Giving Derek the room to play more aggressive defense and not worry about his fouls is gigantic.

Derek came out playing Parker with perfect spacing. He got Parker moving laterally up top rather than moving up and down through the key. Derek’ struggle came on the offensive end. Those determined takes he had in Game 2 were there to be taken, but Fish didn’t take them. He’s got to remain as aggressive as he was in Game 2 on the inside. Ease up the rickety outside game by getting that ball in deep. Duncan had 2 fouls in the 2nd quarter but there was far too little takes to the hoop from anyone outside of Lamar (who was losing concentration on his small shots or Kobe).

Pau had a game where for some reason or another decided to stop passing when in trouble. There were a lot of times with Gasol trapped with a bad look in the post, but he chose to go up with a bad shot rather than simply reset the play.

When Pau did have a decent look he was rushing his shot way more than he had before. Again, step out of the low block and use that mid-post kind of area to set up the shot. He can hit those jumpers from the 5-foot range or so, use it. Duncan has too much strength in the block to give up position.

On that point the Lakers spent then first half and the first couple of minutes in the 3rd going away from that quick passing game that served them so well. When they kicked in the passing game in then half court at about the 9-minute mark in the 3rd the deficit was cut from 13 to 9 with very little sweat.

Radmanovic had a real good active game. Cut after cut to the middle getting lay-ins off of motion. I think he as the only player on the entire Laker squad that was even looking to make those dives. It paid for him, but it should be paying for the whole team.

Standing around on both ends never helps.

There were several times in this game though the Lakers had ample opportunity to go up by more than the slim margin they held early. They have got to cash in on those chances with more inside play, not by shooting 15 footers. If they do shoot the range shots, they’ve got to knock them down while the Spurs are slumping – no bulletin there. Conversely when they were down in the 3rd quarter, the Spurs were almost handing them the chance to get the lead back, but they opted for some seriously out of context shots. They were looking to make passes from stagnation rather than make the pass from motion off the ball as the offense dictates.

The Lakers have got to watch Ginobili getting into a groove not only in general, but also from the same spot no less. It’s easy to push him more to his right rather than let him constantly find his way to his comfort zone. They have to remember the quick-footed play they had on Manu in the first 2 games. Get in front of him early and don’t let him sink into his rhythm. Once Manu began hitting those outside shots, the drive came back and his game found its way back.

There was an unusual amount of running away from the offensive boards today. Lamar was left on an island alone when a lot of rebounds were getting tapped. If one more Laker stayed even out on the high posts, they could’ve walked away with quite a few offensive boards. Come the second half and it turned into everyone moving into transition instead of even trying to get a board.

Make your easy buckets – free throws, lay-ups swing thru pay-ins, whatever – concentrate on the shot and hit it. At halftime while back by 10, you have to look to the easy ones. If made, they would’ve had a 1-point lead (5 missed FTs and 3 missed open chippies). And it didn’t improve in 2nd half either. The “on the road” excuse doesn’t fly with me. You have to make your easy shots, especially the ones your offense is designed to get for you.

I know that double teaming Duncan is the order of the day, but I still contend that you can play one on one with Duncan ion the post with the length the Lakers can rotate to help with. By staying single covered on Duncan these 3-point shots the Spurs had looks at will taper off. You have to know at some point the Spurs are going to hit their 3-pointers. By immediately giving up that extra man on the perimeter before Duncan even gets the ball, you’re crippled before you even have to be on defense. Duncan was getting the ball on the high post for the most part; so worrying about his turn is a moot point at least until the gets the ball. There were just way too much early double teams for my liking.

Look, the Lakers and Spurs simply changed places. The Spurs couldn’t hit an outside shot in L.A. to save their lives. Now in San Antonio, the Lakers do the same. At some point you’d expect the outside shooting to even itself out.

WTF Of The Game: I’m not one to complain about referees as a reason for a win or loss, but come on. The Spurs are without a doubt a clean team, but there’s no way in that they play this clean of a game so as to not foul once in the 2nd half until the 8 minute mark in the 4th. And Kobe doesn’t get his first FT until the 6.12 mark in the 4th as well? The best was Oberto’s holding of Lamar’s jersey on one play in the 4th with the ref right there and no call. Look, I’m not saying this is why the Lakers lost, but you have to admit (whether you’re Spurs or Lakers fan) – that’s pretty dang ridiculous.

When all is said and done, the Spurs did what they had to do. They couldn’t go down 3-0. The big thing is that the Lakers have to play these road games with the same aggression they played their home ones with. They can’t give the Spurs this kind of easy run back into the series. Having a 2-0 lead doesn’t allow you to sit back and not close this thing out.

Game 4 will see the Spurs in another must win situation, let’s hope the Lakers see it as the same.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby DHL on Tue May 27, 2008 8:59 pm

crucifido wrote:
There was an unusual amount of running away from the offensive boards today. Lamar was left on an island alone when a lot of rebounds were getting tapped. If one more Laker stayed even out on the high posts, they could’ve walked away with quite a few offensive boards.


good call :jam2:
Lakers fan since 1997
I LOVE THE CLUBLAKERS SIGNATURE RULES!!!!
User avatar
DHL

 
Posts: 2733
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 5:00 pm

Postby crucifido on Tue May 27, 2008 9:14 pm

Lakers vs. Spurs (WCF Game 4 5/27/08)

Pacing vs. Panic

There were spurts of the Lakers imposing their will on the Spurs. Then there were times when the Lakers looked like a cornered animal freaking out for no reason when control was the order of the day. The Spurs kept in the game, but the Lakers held them at bay with some tight outside defense and holding Ginobili to almost nothing again.

Words can’t say how big the win was but the difference between 2-2 and 3-1 going back home is obviously enormous.

Game starts and so do the Lakers that was the way to get this game not only going but also going directly to the pace you need to set on the road. Aside from two easy Parker penetrations the Lakers’ did well in keeping the Spurs out of the post early on. Keeping the Spurs from setting up that deadly Duncan game in the post early on is beyond key.

You live with Tim making shots from the high post, free throw line or further out. What can’t happen is relenting that low block position without ever trying to hold position first.

With the Spurs looking to avoid putting Kobe on the line at any cost, you’d have to think that would work heavily to Kobe’s advantage. If Kobe gets any kind of look in the open court in particular there is no reason it shouldn’t be taken hard to the rack. It’s not something you have to beg Kobe to do, but the Lakers need to make sure to stay with the run rather than staying back and watching Kobe work. Sending at least one other person with Kobe going to the middle will prevent that running away from the offensive boards habit the Lakers had in Game 3.

All in all Kobe played an odd game for him. That possession with Kobe not stopping to get the free throws late in the game was beyond strange to see. Come Game 5 I don’t think there’s a doubt in all of Lakerland that this absent-minded forced game Kobe showed at times won’t be showing up again.

Pau did better defensively keeping on his feet in the posts. He was biting on the tiny head fakes far too easily in Game 3, but right off the bat it looked like Pau was making a conscious effort to keep grounded at all costs. That mentality had Pau in much better position to contest Duncan’s shots fading to the middle and it also gave him the chance to keep his hands more active when Duncan turns to shoot.

On the offensive end you could see Pau worming his way right into the deep posts before shots were even thrown up. Before Pau was waiting for the shot to be in the air before trying to get position. Tonight had Pau in the post as soon as he made the kick out pass. That’s how Pau can pull the defense off of the outside shot and in turn get himself in far better rebounding position.

Lamar’s aggressiveness to the offensive boards was evident. It started off quickly in the 1st quarter with 2 offensive boards within San Antonio traffic. Odom’s foul trouble came when he was getting into the posts too late. When he doesn’t get position early he has a tendency to reach over or through the guys on the block. His fouls come from light touches much more than plain old rough fouls. So with that in mind, Lamar has got to stay as aggressive and assertive as he was in the first 8 minutes of the game.

When Lamar took Duncan off the dribble at the 6.32 mark in the 3rd, that’s the way he can break down the Spurs 9and the way he did in Games 1 & 2). Duncan and/or Oberto have no hope of keeping up with him if he starts a drive from outside going into the paint from the side.

Derek’s quick foul problems were a result of spacing. The Lakers knew that Parker would be looking to get inside much more this time out, and to that effect Fish should’ve given more room between him and parker out on the perimeter. Once Parker gets that should ahead of Derek on his drive, Fisher’s in trouble. A couple steps between them makes parker a shooter and it keeps him from pushing the ball into Derek, drawing that blocking foul that Derek is prone to get against quicker guards.

Luke has got to stop turning on his drives. When he faces up and pulls a turn at the end of his dribble he’s much better at completing the play. When Luke gets the ball outside and throws that turn into his drive as a first move, he almost always gets out of control resulting in a charge or travel.

Simply put - Luke’s trying to do too much. You saw in the 2nd quarter when he got the pass from Lamar cutting along the baseline what Luke does best – move off the ball. He ‘s got to stop trying to be Mr. Everything and stick to what he does best and in turn what benefits the Lakers’ game best too.

One thing I absolutely love about Sasha is that despite a cold shooting performance he doesn’t quit. That 4-point play couldn’t have been timed better.

Farmar has got to play under control if he expects to get minutes away fro Fisher in foul trouble. The block he gave Duncan and the ridiculous off arm push he threw on Bowen were from him trying to push the ball way to hard into bad situations. If you want one key phrase for Farmar – “jump stop”. If you insist on taking the ball into the trees, put the brakes on real quick, let the guy jump on or by you, then go up. Just taking it up at the easiest to read point in the drive is doing nothing but making the Spurs look better on D.

Radmanovic had one of his “everything but” games. When his shot wasn’t going at times he did well in keeping active off the ball. He did an especially great job in moving along the baselines. When he isn’t shooting the Spurs are basically leaving him almost unguarded. They’re not thinking he’s going to do anything but prop himself up on the arc then run back for D. Fortunately for the Lakers, Radmanovic saw the Spurs pull this early and did real well in using that to free up his game. Now if Vladi wants to be ultra-effective (as he did here and there during the regular season), hit a 3 after a couple possessions on the inside. As it stand Vladi isn’t getting to his shooting spots quick enough to get the open looks he gets when he’s most successful.

Defensively Vladi has got to watch his help D. He’s helping alright, but he’s sticking with the help too long instead of getting back to his assignment.

The most significant change from Game 3 to Game 4 was the aggressiveness in the posts on both ends from the Lakers. Not only in setting up shots, but also in looking to swoop inside to grab a rebound. Every Laker on the floor was looking to cover up the otherwise empty spots off the sides of the key.

All that post aggressiveness had the Spurs absolutely shaky on their defense. They were looking to cover up the now rough to hold posts and in turn letting a lot of room go on the outside on all fronts. The mid-range jumper was opening up and the passing lanes were wide open. The Lakers need to cash in on those passing lanes a bit more than they did tonight.

Tonight had tiny flashes of the Lakers shooting themselves sin the foot after good defensive sets. The points off turnovers were decent, but when the Lakers had a good run on defense, they would get a good look on the inside only to miss it by losing concentration.

It is maddening to watch the Lakers still back off of shooters. Essentially guys like Brent Barry are one-trick ponies, only looking to spot up (and slowly at that) to shoot the long ball. There is no reason that Barry should have been as open as often as he was tonight. It’s been a thorn all season long and I hoped it would be watched tighter by now.

My favorite part of the game was when the Lakers were playing 8 on 5 in the 1st half they still went into the half with a lead. Between that and the Lakers having an answer for every Spurs run, the guy showed that they have the tenacity it takes to complete a rough game. That right there showed the incredible fight and desire this team can have. That kind of determination will go a long way to finishing off this playoff run – hopefully all the way.

So now there’s blood in the water and the sharks are circling the Spurs - time for the Lakers to strike and get back where they belong – the NBA Finals.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Fri May 30, 2008 1:09 am

Lakers vs. Spurs (WCF Game 5 5/29/08)

Always Be Closing

Game 4’s controversy has come and gone and the Lakers moved into Game 5 looking to wrap this series up and avoid the dangerous trip back to San Antonio. Everyone looked for the same quick starting fire they had in Game 4,but it as nowhere to be found.

There were plenty of mouth agape moments watching the Lakers let the Spurs run the game to whatever they needed.

Stagnant footwork and lethargic movement from everywhere on the court does nothing to help your cause no matter who you’re playing.

The Lakers were getting shut out of the middle by a Spurs team looking to pack the paint with bigs to avoid getting out-rebounded. Unfortunately the Lakers played right into their hands by shying away from the middle as shots were going up. Too many times the Lakers only sent two players into the paint once the shot was coming off the rim. That’s too late. The Lakers had it right in Game 4 where they were getting guys in position as shots went up. For some reason the Lakers were completely without that same desire to grab very board in the 1st quarter of this one.

As the 1st continued to wear on, the Lakers just couldn‘t make a shot. When they had looks on the inside they forcing up contested shots when they had an open shot when they got the ball at about 3 or 4 feet. That and not being able to hit anything from anywhere, going on a Spurs-like scoring drought certainly didn’t help the Lakers’ chances.

You kind of got the feeling that when the game started the Lakers were buying into their own hype a bit before they proved themselves. Almost like they expected the Spurs to just play 1 or 2 minutes and roll over. Not going to happen. Playing the lazy game they did in the 1st quarter is beyond dangerous. You can’t play any game like that – let a lone a closeout game against a resilient defending champ.

Luckily when the 4th quarter kicked in, so did the Lakers defense. They did real well in stopping the easy posts. Even better they prevented the Spurs from easily filling the paint with rebounders by simply getting there first. One guy in the paint, Gasol had a pretty shoddy 1st quarter and first half in general, but once the second half came around Pau did his damage outside of the scoring column. Pulling down a record number of rebounds (19) Pau did a superior job in stopping almost all of the second chance points the Spurs were getting so smoothly in the 1st half.

Pau was playing far too soft against a team that threw Thomas in really early to keep from getting dominated on the boards. If Pau is going to see Thomas and Duncan in the middle like he did tonight, he’s got to up his effort even more so in the middle.

Pau should have stopped shading Duncan as much as he does. Without somebody able to rotate over from the mid-range to help and Lamar trying to hold off cuts, he’s opening up too much room for Duncan to have options. Playing the opponent’s big straight up and straight ahead will be how Pau can use his reach to his advantage.

What has been so interesting in these playoffs so far is the further evolution of Odom. He’s had a good run up until this series, hitting the wall here and there, but when the Lakers finally woke up in the 2nd half, Lamar’s energy began to rise off the chart. Who among anyone would’ve thought they’d see Lamar yelling at the top of his lungs after a made bucket or getting himself and others fired up after completing a pretty and 1? The guy has matured into someone who looks like they want to win. As along for the ride as he was at times, Lamar did excellent fighting through the bizarre refereeing and not letting it affect his game.

So many times this year Lamar has let one bad part of his game affect the rest of his effectiveness. Not tonight. He had some rocky moments getting in foul trouble, but it never rattled him.

Sasha again played above average defense on Ginobili keeping him bogged down in traffic and never letting him get into a groove inside or outside. Offensively it could be way better for him, but the 3 he hit in the 4th to push the lead up to 7. Again, another player that in no way would anyone have expected to have such a big impact on such an important playoff series.

Some of Luke’s game tonight will go unnoticed. He didn’t get into the box score too much tonight, but what he did do is play a disruptor kind of role to perfection. By moving into the point and giving the Lakers an extra body along the baseline on rebounds or high posts, it kept the Spurs spread out on the floor and less able to concentrate their defense into one area to force the Lakers into mostly outside shots.

Derek has got to remember his spacing on quick guards. He was pressing up on Parker too much and paid the price by getting caught on screens easily. Again, a couple extra steps away allow Fisher to keep up with the fast little guards, as he has throughout the playoffs so far. Some of it looked to be overzealous play, but for the most part Derek was just pushing too much to be physical rather than keep in mind who he was guarding.

That first 3 from Radmanovic was pretty dang funny. Vladi plays this odd cruise control game along the arc sometimes. On that shot he does real well in coyly getting to the open spot in the play. He slipped right through 2 Spurs defenders on the outside to get a real good look. The same happened in the 4th as the Lakers were trying to put the Spurs away. It’s been Vladi’s quiet killer kind of play that has really come in handy this series.

You have to hand the spark of this game to Farmar. He was the only Laker that came into this game not looking scared to get inside and finish. He made good decisions on his drives. Along with that he was concentrating on his drives and finishing easy shots when it seemed like nobody else could. He did very well in keeping space on Parker and keeping an eye on the screens trying to pop up behind him. As he got aggressive and his feet under him the entire team followed his lead and woke up out of their daze.

The bench unit played real well in the 2nd when Kobe, Lamar and Pau were on the bench. That run, not letting the lead go berserk and holding pace with Duncan and Parker on the court was key in getting the Lakers out of their sleep and back into the conscious world. It didn’t only help in this game, but having faith in your bench like that will pay huge dividends in the future too. That was brilliant coaching by Phil.

Duncan does / did not need the triple teams he was seeing early in this game. One on one coverage with a quick jump to help and recovery is all that’s needed. Giving up one, let alone 2 open men on the offensive end is a massive mistake against a smooth footed power forward.

If you insist on double-teaming a post player like Duncan, then the Lakers have got to follow the Hornets lead and double that man before they even gets the ball on the floor.

Why in the world is Barry left open at all this game?! Hopefully in the Finals the Lakers learn to guard (or at the least not double off of a quality shooter) the outside bombers better. And better defense would mean that whoever guards that person to glue themselves to their hip and make them a slasher. Stopping them won’t always happen, people will get free, but you can do better in keeping them out of rhythm.

And then there was Kobe. The guy threw down a legendary performance. Watching Kobe take control of this game the way he did while still integrating the rest of the team was fascinating, exciting and truly incredible. The entire time he had his game in mega-overdrive, it never felt like he was ignoring the rest of the team.

Some of the shots he was taking were unbelievably tough, but he made them look easy. Kobe’s ability to take a game over like he did without shutting everyone out is a dream come true. In fact, Kobe at this moment entered himself into the pantheon of great playoff performances. I don’t think there are enough adjectives to describe what he did tonight.

By the way - congratulations to Kobe – you got a foul called for you at 3.38 in the 2nd. That may have been the play of the game!

My favorite moment of the night came during the Western Conference trophy presentation oddly enough. When Kobe and the team was standing behind Mitch and Ernie Johnson, Kobe went from standing alone ahead of the other guys to sliding back into the arms of his teammates. That subtle move right there was an amazingly poignant and moving microcosm for the season.

So the Lakers now officially best in the west – but there’s a far bigger goal yet to go
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:20 pm

Lakers vs. Celtics (The Finals Game 1 6/5/08)

Its Only 1 Game

The weeklong wait is over and the Lakers tipped off Game 1 against the hated Celtics. As the ball got thrown into the air, one thing was clear no matter which side of the fence you fall to – this is going to be a fight.

As the game started, the Lakers played patiently extremely well. They got the ball working through the posts, they weren’t pushing shots and above all they didn’t looked phased by the environment of playing in Boston. It was good to see that the composure of the team was in check. As they fell behind in the 1st half you saw zero panic in the eyes, body or play of any Laker. That is Phil’s influence and why his coaching has such a huge impact on any team he coaches.

Though the Lakers may have taken that easy going attitude a bit too far at times, it did serve them well in keeping them in the game throughout 2 and a half quarters.

Derek played well from the start to the end. He was possibly the one Laker that looked like he had focus the entire game tonight. His hustle was great in steals, loose balls and transition defense. He kept up with multiple assignments on defense very well and kept getting to his strong spots on offense.

Lamar has to use his natural advantage on the boards by being far more assertive with soft rebounds. The tough rebounds you can fight for position with, but you can’t just saunter over to easy to get boards with the Celtics sending 2 or 3 people underneath to make up for the difference in the paint.

With that in mind, the Lakers have got to box out Perkins early. If he doesn’t get quick postposition he has a tendency to stand behind the play. Lamar or Gasol has to get in low with a guy behind him to keep the Celtics from getting multiple looks like they did in the 1st quarter a couple of times.

Offensively, this is yet another team with no answers for him on the defensive end. When Garnett goes out and he’s the lead with the bench squad he has got to instantly look to can any jump shot, unless its crazy open, for the drive. There is no shot blocker with the Celtics’ bench in there and nobody that can keep up with him or take away his drive.

That goes for everybody – when Garnett goes out, the Lakers have to move in.

Early in the game the Lakers did real well in keeping Garnett out of the low post. Only one mess up when Garnett had a jump stop drive inside for a dunk, but other than that every shot Garnett got was from the elbow or outside of the paint. Garnett wasn’t able at all to get any kind of rhythm from the inside, which took the Celtics down to a one trick pony – outside shooting. You live with the outside shots going down in the like they were. The Lakers are playing the percentages. The difference between letting the Celtics get going from the inside with high percentage shots and letting them test their lower percentage shots is and will be huge. If the Laker can continue to keep Garnett out of his comfort zone on the low block, the series will get a whole lot easier – and quick.

For Pau’s offense to start kicking in he’s got to mix in a head fake or two. When he swings to the middle everyone is looking for him to shoot right off the first stop. One simple up fake and every Celtic will go jumping to block his shot. Likewise, he can use that same fake as a way to attract an extra defender and get a good look at a pass for cutter.

Actually it wouldn’t kill the Lakers to learn the art of the jump-stop. On every shot within 10 feet, the Celtics were jumping at it. On simple hit of the brakes lets the Celtics fly by or gets them out of position to make those traffic laden inside shots a ton easier.

Pau did something nice and quietly on the offensive end too. When he got into each play he stayed on the high post, keeping Garnett out of the middle. That right there opened up plenty of room for the Lakers to at the very least get good looks at the traffic in the middle. As Pau kept on the high post and when he sank his first couple of shots from outside, it forced Garnett to ignore the help defense on the posts that he was doing so well against the Eastern teams.

Sasha has got to learn that it’s more important to keep up with Ray Allen rather than worry about cutting off the passing angle. He’s looking away from Allen to see where the ball’s coming from rather than keeping both eyes fixed on Allen movement along the baseline and through screens. All Allen is going to do is shoot – its vital that somebody (hopefully the guy assigned to him) is in his face t all times.

My favorite part of the game was without a doubt the absolute control the Lakers played with. Seeing them play with calm the way they did (particularly in the first half) was what will be the massive difference in this series.

Kobe’s command over where he wants to go is amazing, but its never amazing enough to get through 5 guys on defense. Yes, Kobe forced action a bit too much when his shot wasn’t falling, but the rest of the Lakers did no service to their offense by playing the watch Kobe game either. The entire 2nd half saw every Laker around Kobe find a spot and plant themselves in it. There’s no reason to run away from an offense that was obviously working well with ball and off ball movement.

If the off ball movement gets to a stand still the passing does as well. When the Laker passing game gets still, then that makes the offense nearly impossible to run as prescribed.

Did the Celtics play good defense – eh, it was nothing more than the Lakers saw with Utah or San Antonio. The big difference between those games ands this one was the Lakers inability to A) hit the shots that were falling all playoffs long and B) the aforementioned stagnation off the ball.

Also, you would’ve hoped that after the Utah series the Lakers would learn that defensive rebounding is a tad important. Is Gasol out-sized by Garnett? Sure he is, but there’s no reason that the game changing put back dunk by Garnett should’ve happened. It was lazy defense looking at the ball rather than your defensive assignment. Just like Sasha with Allen and a couple other Lakers with their assignments, there was way too much focus on the ball instead of on your man where it should be. When you concentrate on the ball so much all the good help defense (like Lamar was doing in the 1st half) grinds to a halt.

When that defense went away the Celtics were free to move through screens and keep their feet active on offense. That was where the Celtics outplayed the Lakers tonight. It wasn’t really anywhere else but on the off ball activity on offense. Where the Celtics were using their screens to keep open lanes for their guards and small forwards, the Lakers set screens and either ran away from them or just didn’t move at all

WTF Of The Game: P.S., Pierce’s time out of the game was not an injury. Last I checked an injury isn’t something you just jump back into the game from without any kind lasting effect. Just because Pierce showed his degree from the “Dwayne Wade School of Overacting Everything” (which he’s got expert at this year) doesn’t mean this was some historically heroic performance. The only effect from his woe is me 3 minutes out of the game was that the Lakers didn’t swoop in on the opportunity to take the Celtics out right there.

Honestly, its only Game 1 and I’m already tired of the cry baby acting, the incredible amount of jersey holding, the flopping all over the paint, and the overall feeling of hatred that stems from playing these over-hyped Celtics. By the way, anyone – and I do mean anyone - who says the Lakers get all the calls is plainly not watching the game.

No, I’m not blaming the refs for the loss. The Lakers played terrible offense (especially in the 4th 5 for 30 won’t beat anyone), had little to no communication in the 2nd half on defense, shot free throws awfully yet again (8 missed FTs in a vital time of the game didn’t help much) and looked like a team lost when it came to the hustle plays. There were a host of other things too, but I can’t make this a 10 page diatribe.

They had Garnett being more of an outside threat, had Pierce off his game until they relaxed after his oh-so-dramatic “injury”, had Ray Allen driving instead of shooting, had Perkins become a non-factor and limited Posey’s impact on the offensive end.

This was a Laker loss more than a Celtic win. Everything that was done wrong is easily fixed with more concentration and remembering what got the lakes to the Finals in the first place.

All the Lakers need is a split in Boston and the job is done. Its definitely not panic time for the Lakers and their fans, but its certainly time for the Lakers to regain their focus. This loss is merely a hill, not a mountain.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby farhan810 on Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:25 am

Nice work as always, cruc.
User avatar
farhan810

 
Posts: 679
Joined: Mon May 30, 2005 9:49 pm
Location: CA

Postby revgen on Sat Jun 07, 2008 11:38 am

Great Writeup Cruc. Keep it up! :jam2:
"Every time he’s hurt, he always plays, he always comes through."

- Metta World Peace on teammate Kobe Bryant
revgen
HDTV/Multimedia Guru
 
Posts: 21721
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 10:53 pm
Location: Southern California

Postby crucifido on Sun Jun 08, 2008 8:56 pm

Thanks farhan and revgen. the Lakers had better wake up and the refs had better start calling the game like basketball or I'm going to lose!

Lakers vs. Celtics (The Finals Game 2 6/8/08)

Game 2 – No Better

This game started like Game 1, with the Lakers having good ball movement and a spring in their step off the ball. That more crisp movement had the Celtics scrambling to keep up with everyone off of screens and moving through the key. When the Lakers began to get the Cetics in more of a backpedaling mode on defense, they had a much easier time with any shot that came their way.

And where did that come from? From off ball movement and not watching everyone else play the game. Then came the rest of the game. The Lakers went right back to playing into the Celtics’ hands by standing around and letting the Celtics play an almost zone defense on them. The Lakers did nothing to force their game back to the inside like they did early in the game. Did they just expect the Celtics to stand back and crumble? I hope not, but it certainly looked that way.

The Celtics were giving lanes for drives and the Lakers did a good job of getting into those lanes and staying aggressive with it. When their concentration waned on a couple easy put backs and lay-ups they didn’t begin to settle for other shots. They took the shots that were given to them.

One good thing came early on in this game off of Radmanovic’s quick 2 fouls – the insertion of Ariza back into the rotation. I honestly think that with his athleticism and size, despite being a touch out of game shape, he should be the starter at the small forward. His closing out of Pierce’s drives as soon as he came in the game was vital for the Lakers to have.

Once Trevor got into the game there was an immediate change in Pierce’s approach on offense. Ariza has a better ability to space and recover from that space on defense than Radmanovic and that ability to get in and then back off of Pierce had Pierce pushing the ball off to someone else along the arc instead of being able to pretty much take it into the paint whenever he wanted to. Even though it wsas a short-live stint in the 1st quarter, Trevor did a good job in taking Pierce out of rhythm. When Luke came in Pierce was still stuttering a bit, trying to find his lane.

To that effect, Luke did well in coming in and being physical with Pierce, giving him another element to contend with. This is simply good defensive strategy against a scorer. Give them different looks and never let the get into a groove against your defense. However a team does need the tools to carry this off, and carry it off is what Ariza and Walton did fairly well.

That hyper aggressive take and even more aggressive finish that Pau had in the 1st quarter was exactly what he needs to show more of on the offensive end. There can be no backing down even with Garnett’s shot blocking and defensive ability. It happened again in the 2nd quarter with Gasol completely taking advantage of Pierce guarding him in the low post. Its good to see, but the main key with it is Pau using that drop step and turning speed on the post more often and with strength every single time. No, Pau is not a low post player by nature, but he’s in that position right now and it is working for him when he gets angry. So, get angry.

Lamar did well in keeping after missed shots. When everyone else ran away from boards and the paint, Odom did real well in sticking with the ball. He got a couple good put backs through persistency alone.

Letting the Celtics have someone outside of their main scorers get off on you the way Powe did tonight is criminal. Coast to coast possession for Powe – are you kidding me?! This was a ridiculously juvenile defensive “performance” against an absolute scrub. The Lakers have a hard enough time keeping up with the primary Celtics scorers, now by letting someone with a limited skill set get their game going as easily as they did, they give themselves another player in rhythm to stay with. Its one thing if you’re containing the Celtics primary guys, but the Lakers weren’t keeping many players in check (sans moments with Pierce being team defended) consistently.

One thing is apparent; the Lakers have no need to double team as frantically and quickly as they do. There is nobody on the Celtics, outside of Garnett getting into his post move that needs to be double. Despite that the Lakers saw fit to further crimp their defense by doubling way to early and in turn having to run around in scramble mode for 3 quarters of the game.

The infamous, can’t defend the 3-profile came to fore – again as well. There’s no need to go into it other than wondering once again why the Lakers refuse to make shooters put the ball on the floor.

Did you see the fire in Kobe in the timeout during the 3rd quarter? If you listened closely he said something to the effect of “You may only get one shot at this now COME ON!” That kind of attitude shouldn’t have to be instilled in these guys at this point of the playoffs. This is for everything, there’s no reason you should ever need someone to get your head in the game.

WTFs Of The Game: This is patently ridiculous. Any idiot that says the Lakers get all the calls is an out and out moron. If you believe this, you are a complete buffoon who does not watch games. The entire first half with Lamar getting people jumping on his back, 2 hands in Pau’s back the whole half, Kobe getting called for tiny hand contact that normally goes unnoticed, No Celtic getting whistled for traveling, all resulting in the Lakers no being afraid to play defense. And who cam blame them? How do you play defense when you have no idea what is and what isn’t a foul. From possession to possession the rules change. There is no way for any team to be able to play up to the level they have to get this far if they can’t breathe on opposing players.

I have NEVER blamed a game on the refs, but this series is already ridiculous. With the jersey grabbing of Game 1, the traveling and swipes on the arm on shots of Game 2, there’s no way anyone can say that the refs are not having an adverse effect on every game. How in the world can any team play defense when game-by-game you have no idea what a foul is. It was even down to the last seconds when Posey fell out of bounds with the rebound and Derek got called for the foul becuase Posey fell down. It is impossible for any basketball team to play the game when they have no idea of the parameters of the rules.

2 free throws in a half (1 tech and 1 off of a made shot)? So what you’re saying is this the best and cleanest defensive team of all time! Please…

Apparently I can’t let this Pierce “heroism” junk go. I’m sorry, but during the 1st quarter did I hear Mark Jackson say, “Give the Celtics credit, they held the fort until Pierce came back.” It was 1.45 off the actual game clock that Pierce was out. If that’s holding the fort, maybe now I understand why the press thinks why getting the vast majority of their 66 wins against the lowly Eastern Conference is something special. That knee sure looked hurt today didn't it? You crybaby.

One more thing as long as I’m whining. If it’s a foul on one guy, then it’s a foul on another. When Ronny got called for his foul from momentum, Garnett got away with the exact same kind of play on the other end. Calls will be missed; it’s no big deal. What gets everyone’s ire up is when the officials decide to change their calls depending on the situation of the game or the players it involves. How many problems need to come off of the officials calling an entirely inconsistent game before something is done?

On the positive side, now that I’ve been able to calm down a touch (but not much) all the Celtics did is what they’re supposed to do. Now its time for this Laker team to wake up and realize they need to play basketball to win a basketball game, fight the biased refs, keep their head up and show themselves and us why we should still believe that this team can do it this year.

The comeback was nice, that’s for sure. It showed to me why this Celtic team is undeserved of the championship. They are Arrogant and play accordingly without any reason to be that way. Anyway, it was good for the team’s confidence to get that comeback rolling, but how about not waiting until you’re down by big double digits late in the game to play smart, hustle D?

When all is said and done – this was embarrassment with a slight twinge of positivity here and ere. Now its time for you – Lakers – play like you belong in the Finals. This isn’t a scrimmage kids, it’s what you play basketball for. Now show yourselves and us that you want it!
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:41 pm

Lakers vs. Celtics (The Finals Game 3 6/10/08)

Game 3 – The First Must Win Is Just That, A Win

Now that most of the frustration has dissipated from game 2, it was time to get down to the business of Game 3, the second most pivotal game in a best of 7 series (Game 5 being the most important).

What the Lakers discovered in the 4th quarter of Game 2, they continued (for the most part) in this one. They had a look of a team that caught on to a couple things that beat the Celtics.

The Lakers had the Celtics doing what they wanted as the game started. Garnett was shooting outside, shots were being contested, help defense was flashing at guys instead of sticking on them and overall the Lakers looked focused on the defensive end. A good chunk of that early focus was moving Kobe onto Rondo (as one poster on the Club Lakers message board wisely suggested). When they had the Celtics out of their groove, it held for most of the game. Sure the Celtics came back but they came back from the Lakers backing off of what worked rather than stepping their game beyond something the Lakers could keep up with.

That was the most frustrating thing about this game (and so far this season) – for some reason or another the Lakers go away from what works. When they got the ball moving, they reverted to one or no pass offense. When they moved off the ball, they suddenly got into watch mode. They had decent control of the boards in the 1st half, then wandered away from that as well.

By moving Kobe onto Rondo, it forced Rondo TO give up the ball early in sets, often to Pierce. So it made Pierce turn into a play initiator rather than moving off the ball and finding lanes to slash to the hoop. Once the Lakers got Pierce handling the ball on pass-offs or trying to get a play going, the Lakers had a much easier time both guarding pierce and with help and recover on D.

Pau did a real good job in getting inside early on shots and establishing rebounding position before the Celtics got their feet set. When he started getting, muscled out Pau figured something out. With his ability to hit the 10-foot jumper, he can pull Garnett out of the paint a touch. So with that he began (in the 4th quarter) to start his rebound run from the high post to the inside. Now keep that in mind for Game 4. Don’t try to be the strong guy inside without Lamar in there to help – it won’t work.

Offensively I have no idea why Pau is so opposed to throwing in a head fake once in a while. When Garnett blocked his easily read shot in the 1st quarter, it was simply a matter of one quick look up to the rim to get Garnett off the ground. With him off the ground at the very least you lean in to get a foul – at the best you have an easy shot a foot from the rim.

In a sea of odd plays on the defensive end from the Lakers’ frontcourt, Ronny was on an island by himself. He did a fantastic job in making sure he was both involved in every single possession underneath and doing a strong job on any post player thrown his way. Even when he couldn’t get the rebound he did very well in making sure that position was held by a Laker, instead of giving up room for the Celtics to swoop in for a board from any or all angle(s).

Ronny did really well in keeping Garnett out of any kind rhythm. He would not let him get onto the block where he flourishes. Most every shot by Garnett was not only from outside, but well within the 10-foot line from the rim. If anyone deserves the credit for the Lakers getting into the half with a 6 point lead, a big part of that credit goes to Ronny.

Luke needs to himself a favor and keep his yes on the rim when he gets a little shot. In the 2nd quarter when he missed the little gimme shot, he looked around for a shot blocker before the ball left his hand. All he has to do is keep his sight where the goal is, not what may or may not happen around you. Here’s another guy that just needs to not overplay his game. He has got to keep on the high post, and start everything in his game form there. When he did, the Lakers move entirely different than when Luke gets stuck in the low post.

There were some good defensive moments from Luke tonight and they came from him using his physicality rather than trying to be speedy, which he will never be.

For Lamar on the offensive end, he has got to get rid of the ball on broken plays. He isn't the guy you want to handle the ball when things get rocky on offense. If Lamar looks to dish it off and cut to the basket (like he did earlier / a lot this season) his offense will pick up big time.

Quietly, Derek played a strong game tonight. it looked like he got worn down by a lot of the physical play, but he did have a decent game.

One thing that was aggravating to see was the Lakers unable to get both ends of the court together at times. When they played crisp defense, they played sloppy offense, when they played sharp offense, they were mentally dull on defense. When they got both ends of the court going at the same time, the Celtics had no answer.

Now this has nothing to do with refereeing whatsoever. It has more to do with a lack of consistent focus on the Lakers’ part. If they expect to win anything in the regular season or playoffs, they have got to keep their heads in the game at all times.

On that note…

Radmanovic on the other hand was barely helping on the boards. He sauntered into the paint on many occasions, more getting in the way than helping out on the boards. He has got to be as aggressive helping on defense as he is in finding his spots in the offense. When he got his 3rd foul, he was walking to the loose ball instead of hustling to it. If he had just motivated to get at least in the way of Posey, the ball would’ve went out of bound on Boston and he avoids his 3rd.

That goes for the whole team – the little plays and the hustle plays matter most.

I really would’ve liked to have seen the Lakers milk Sasha’s hot streak in the 2nd quarter a bit more. They stayed away from him a little too long, but I guess that was proven wrong when Sasha did get the ball after all that time and still hit his shot. In general though, the Lakers can’t afford to stay away from anyone that is getting into a groove.

While I’m talking about Sasha, this was the defining game of his season. The Lakers in no way would’ve come close to winning this game without Sasha’s incredible persistency and concentration. There was a play in the waning minutes of the game when Sasha got knocked to the floor, but instead of rolling around ala Paul Pierce, he got right back up and kept the ball from getting to House on the 3-point line. That right there showed what Sasha’s game was about – always keeping your head up and always keeping your mind on the game. Great game from Sasha, just great!

Kobe was spectacular. Right when it looked like he may be dominating the ball too much in the 3rd quarter, he backed off. He trusted his teammates, and Sasha proved that it was the right choice. The closing of the game was exactly why you cannot count the Lakers out.

The take through Brown and Garnett was unbelievable. The step-through move he had on Allen was gorgeous and in general the way he controlled both teams in the last 1.39 of the game was simply brilliant. His help defense was alright, but where he has to watch is when someone gets away from him on defense through screens. He has to stick with the Celtics shooters running through, he can’t immediately point to someone for help.

But really when all is said and done, Kobe’s calm was what the got the game swinging in the Lakers favor. If you wanted him to play like the MVP – then you got it tonight.

Free throws, oh man, the Lakers finally get a bunch of them, but now they blow 13. Wwith the calls being so back and forth, you have got to make use of the trips to the line that are coming your way.

5 keys (although there’s more) to a series tying Game 4 and a ultimately the championship, here’s my opinion on it:

1) The other starters have got to contribute something in the scoring column. Whether it’s from the low block, the high post or the perimeter, Radmanovic, Gasol and Odom have got to stop shying away from shots they can make. Also Pau and Lamar – finish strong – always

2) Control your defensive boards – the entire game.

3) Make Pierce play the role of initiator, rather than slasher.

4) Keep Garnett shooting from the outside. If makes them you live with it, but you cannot let Garnett get into rhythm on the block. You saw the result of that tonight.

5) The entire bench has to play as strong as they did tonight.

When it comes down to it, the Lakers do best when everyone does what they do best. You can’t overstep your bounds as to what you’re on the team to do. If everyone is doing what they do best, that’s the essence of a team game. If you lose doing what ever you could’ve done to win, then so be it. You have to always leave the court, your job or anything you do knowing that you gave it everything you had to push yourself to success.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Sun Jun 15, 2008 11:30 pm

O.K. guys...

I didn't write an article for Game 4, I was too tired and pissed off to write one. Besides, I don't think I would've said anything rational at the point I usually write these things.

Anyway, I'm going to finish up my article for Game 5 (woohoo!!) tomorrow at work just so you know.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Mon Jun 16, 2008 3:36 pm

Lakers vs. Celtics (The Finals Game 5 6/15/2008)

Game 5 – Live To Fight Another Day

Now that the frustration, aggravation, bewilderment, pain and anguish of Game 4 is nothing but a memory, it time to move on to bigger and easily better things – Game 5.

The funny thing is (well not funny, but odd really) was that this one started out eerily like the Game 4 nightmare. The Lakers did a fantastic job doing what they do best – moving the ball around the perimeter with jabs inside and getting their feet moving off the ball. Couple that with a well timed running attack and you have the formula for yet another banner 1st quarter.

Then as the game went on, visions of the collapse came flooding back as more than the Celtics asserting themselves, the Lakers let them back in the game.

That’s where the biggest frustrations lie for me, the fact that the Celtics haven’t really taken anything to the Lakers. It’s been the season long problem of the Lakers going away from what’s working. For some inexplicable reason, this team sees fit to abandon the elements of a game that get them out front with what at the time looks like insurmountable energy and desire.

As the points rolled in, you couldn’t help but cringe a bit, knowing that this is nothing but a one quarter lead, something the Lakers have had trouble keeping a hold of all season long, let alone theses Finals.

Immediately, the biggest difference in the Laker attack was Pau on the inside. Whether he just got fed up with playing tentative, finally got his legs under him or maybe figured out exactly what he can get away with on Garnett is unclear, but one thing was – the assertive game that Pau showed when he first got here was back in full form. The early foul trouble on Garnett was the biggest dividend of Gasol’s aggression, but aside from that it was more than great to see Pau pushing his way into the mix under the boards.

Lamar wasn’t left on an island alone, as Pau looked to be at least a pestering part of every shot that went up. Defensively, you have to like what Pau is doing. Playing out of position all season long and playing against a naturally strong-bodied player like Garnett, Pau did a decent job in this one in keeping Garnett out of his comfort zone. When Garnett looked to pound the ball in to Pau on the post, Pay didn’t give up ground without forcing Garnett into fade away shot or tough up and under moves.

Is Pau outmatched strength wise on the post? I don’t think there’s a debate there. But what Pau did in this game was what he did for 3 quarters in Game 4, turned Garnett into a post player looking to take 10 foot jumpers. Pau took away the alley-oops, or the quick rolls from outside the paint to the middle for easy dunks or lay-ups. Even if Garnett did get his points the way he likes to here and there, Pau made him work for it. For a guy playing where he ism, with the type of game he ahs, that’s all you can ask of Pau. In this one, he delivered.

Lamar was in and out of game consciousness again. His numbers were better but what it looks like Lamar struggles with in this series is getting back into his groove once he sits on the bench. He’s had a tough time finding his spots off the first pass of a play. Once the ball cycles to him at the top of the arc and he passes it off, he looks stuck in mud. When he does break free and get himself back into cutting mode, like he did so effectively this season, he becomes that indefensible force that baffles the rest of the league.

Odom did better in getting involved in the defensive rebound hunt this time out. He ahs to watch his over the back jumps though. He can easily avoid those by pushing his way into traffic (moreover through Garnett or Brown). He can’t expect to reach over players like he ahs in earlier rounds with the length the Celtics have in the middle.

But you know that when Lamar is hitting a 3 at any point in game, that he has his shot going and things are going to be alright with him. He did real well in picking his shots and not forcing action at any point. That alone kept the Lakers turnovers down and kept him going back to the pass and cut game he excels at.

For my money, Derek had to be in serious consideration for player of the game. It wasn’t a box score filling performance, but it was gutty beyond belief. Right when you think you have him figured out or right when you think he’s going to relegate himself to something, her surprises you with games like this. His take into Garnett’s chest for the lay-up in the 1st quarter was beautiful. With the Celtics not abler to play Rondo and use his speed to counter Derek’s drive, it allowed Fish to exploit the Celtics slower perimeter D.

Speaking of point guards, Farmar was impressive. He did excellent in creating lanes that weren’t there offensively. His use of even quick to slight screens was perfect. The no fear aspect of his game came in real handy as he got into the paint numerous times and finished among the trees without hesitation. He did great in using his body to give himself that extra inch of space to finish his drives. The best part of his game in this one was his passes off the dribble. They were thought out and done crisply every time, taking advantage of the movement into the paint the Laker showed flashes of.

What Jordan has to watch is getting stuck along the sidelines. He (and Luke) has a problem in getting right up against the sideline and turning it into another defender when it’s not necessary to corner himself like that.

Kobe struggled again (although 20+ points, 5 steals and 7 rebounds is rarely a struggle for most players in the Finals) to get going. You watch these games waiting for Kobe to burst, but it hasn’t happened – yet. What Kobe needs to do is simply relax. He’s panicking against pressure and letting that panic turn into awkward shots instead of easy passes out of it to someone else. But Kobe’s defense was tight today. The 2 steals in the 4th quarter he had were beyond critical. If he can transfer some of his stifled offense to that kind of passion on the defensive end, the offense will take care of itself. He kind of has to look to break the Celtics down reverse to what he normally does. Make them work on offense through your sharp D and then take it right into them when their energy gets sapped trying to get around you.

Some things (obvious and not) to work on to bring this thing to 7:

1) No more 1 or no pass offense. T at ball has got to touch 3 player’s hands before a shot goes up (unless it’s a breakaway or a painfully open shot).

2) Defend the 3. It’s not tough when you see shooters line up on the arc and plant themselves there. There was one play where Posey, Allen and Pierce were standing dead still on the arc, yet the Lakers collapsed to the inside unnecessarily, leaving them open to shoot an easily telegraphed 3.

3) When you find something that works, stick with it until they make you change it. I have yet to see the Celtics force the Lakers into a game plan. Every time there’s something clicking the Lakers run away from it themselves.

4) When /if you get the steal on D, don’t force a run-out unless its there. There were 4 separate occasions the Lakers got a nice stop or steal and chose to push the ball into 3 or 4 Celtics defenders instead of calming down and setting up a play. And in general, relax, there’s no pressure on the Lakers to win, everyone expects you to lose. Use that and settle down.

5) Everyone has to make an effort for boards. There were way too many planted feet in the 2nd quarter in particular on rebounds. When that shot goes up, there shouldn’t be a Laker in the area standing still. Fight for position, fight for the ball and don’t stop until you get it.

6) Be quicker to pass option and help spots. Too many guys are being left alone on plays with no way to get out of it but turn it over or make a rough pass. You know the plays, you know where you should be, get there.

7) When you have 5 fouls on Garnett, get that ball inside every time. Pau was doing well with Garnett in, without him in there Pau should be dominating. If not scoring, that ball shouldn’t be cycled around the key without seeing the post at least once. Drive inside, post low and use what you’ve built to your advantage.

8) The Lakers collapsed to the middle well in the 1st quarter. But when it fell off to wide open lanes in the paint, it had to be sealed earlier. There has got be earlier recognition of help. Some of those drives to the hoop were inexcusable.

It’s a lot to work on, but everything listed above (and some not listed) are things the Lakers have shown themselves to be more than capable of doing. Again, the Celtics have yet to impose their will on the Lakers. This series has been more about what the Lakers haven’t done rather than what the Celtics have done.
And for the record, I like Phil putting Mihm in. The only thing is I would’ve liked to have seen Mihm use his 6 fouls for hard hits on anyone that came inside though. It’s an odd but understood gamble Phil did, it just has to be used to shore the middle up with strength.

So we all move on to Game 6. Let everyone say the 3-1 comeback has never been done, let them say it over and over. Every time it’s muttered its nothing but inspiration.

The Lakers showed the pride on their home court we wanted to see them close the home season out with, now show that same pride on the road and close this thing out with a parade.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:49 pm

Lakers vs. Celtics (The Finals Game 6 6/17/08)

Game 6 - Disappointment, Aggravation, Embarrassment

We all held out hope and for good reason. Game 5 was encouraging, seeing the Lakers play with heart and pride in not letting the Celtics celebrate on their court. Unfortunately, that passion turned into panicked absent-minded play as soon as the Celtics got a tiny 1-point lead.

It all started out well enough, but the Lakers literally fell apart when the Celtics played with a small amount aggression on offense. The Lakers played like a team with no concept of their own offense. Creaky offense takes away the Lakers biggest advantage in this series.

There were thing that could’ve been done to force Game 7 though.

One big way Lamar can make things easier on himself – slow down. He does well in getting boards for the most part, but when he gets in traffic he tends to do a little panicky dribbling to get out of it, rather than holding it high and looking for a pass out.

Pau has got to hold the ball up high in the post. There’s too much dipping down with the ball. He starts with it high but tends to lower it for no reason with small guards always looking to swoop in and grab the ball.

Also when Pau starts his post up moves, he cannot back off of his initial aggressive dip into his defender. He gets the first hit off fine, and then he eases up. That first tough bump has to turn into a second and third bump to get the points out of the post he should be getting.

Vladi, if you’re having trouble keeping up with Pierce’s first step, then back off and let him shoot distance. The Laker help to drives is slow, so letting any kind of lane develop from impatient defense isn’t going to help. Take 1 or 2 steps back and if worse comes to worse, he makes his long shots. But at the very least you’re playing the percentages. If he keeps bodying him up so tight on the perimeter (or anyone he’s guarding) his slow foot speed is always going to get beat. 20 foot jumpers, even when shot by the best, are a lower percentage shot over the long haul when put up against wide open lay-ups.

That kind of hustle play by Ronny in the 2nd quarter for the rebound and getting the call is what the Lakers need from everyone on the court. Quick screen and rolls were on the money too. There was no hesitation on where to g after the screen. Watch Ronny, he pops out, sets the screen and immediately moves.

The one play with Luke cutting off the double team to get the nice pass from Gasol for a lay-up is exactly the kind of off ball movement the Lakers have mysteriously been avoiding this series. The cutting lanes have been available, the Lakers just haven’t filled them up. That one play should be held up for the whole team as exactly what good foot movement can accomplish.

Too much of a one-man rebound team at times. If it’s not Lamar, its Ronny the rest of the Lakers are running away from on the offensive end. You can see just how vital the offensive boards are. It’s no major problem to figure out just why the Lakers are struggling on the boards. Some is bad positioning for sure, but the other big part of it is the team not even looking to get inside to even contest rebounds.

So if House, Allen, Posey or Pierce is planted on the arc, what do the Lakers think they’re going to do? This is the easiest form of defense there could be – standing by a guy standing still. Its burned the Lakers all year long and apparently its something that’s not going to be looked after any time soon.

Again – run your plays. Getting in transition is great but not when there’s zero room to do so. You can’t force a break.

Well enough with the game analysis, the plain fact is the Lakers played intimidated, scared and like a team that was overmatched mentally more than anything else.

That’s a big thing that’s killed me in this series. The Lakers had the chance but denied themselves the trophy they fought so hard to get a swipe at through self-destruction.

There wasn’t one single game where the Celtics overpowered the Lakers. Every single loss was self-inflicted. Tonight was a great case in point – a microcosm for everything the Lakers did poorly in the Finals.

Unforced turnovers
Ignoring shooters
Letting post players get position with no fight
One to no pass offense for big chunks of quarters
Off ball movement slowing to nothing
Ball movement dying in a player’s hand
No team rebounding on either end
Inconsistent play from everyone
Forced action when there was no room to force it

And so on…

Its pretty much everything that I, other people, posters in the forums and every Laker fan at one time or another had trouble with this season.

Above all, it’s the injuries that hampered the Lakers. There’s not a soul alive that can deny that with Bynum this series is completely different. The health curse that has hit the Lakers long and hard over the last couple years reached a climax in these Finals.

Just a couple of positives this year:

The Lakers through misfortune got fortunate in getting Gasol
Kobe finally got recognized for his excellent play
Lamar found his role on the team as the 3rd (soon to be 4th) option

Above all, the biggest positive for me is the Lakers being one year ahead of schedule. There were very few that expected the Lakers to have a Finals run this year. I knew they’d get out of the first round and possibly through the first, but it was gratifying to see the Lakers have the drive to win the West and become a contender again.

Now in (very) brief, things to work on for next year (as always there is more, but I don’t want to make a 20 page book right now):

Don’t run away from what works. Don’t be afraid to destroy teams. When they lay down to take the beating, give it to them. Relentlessness doesn’t only happen in off-season workouts, it has to happen on the court too.

Calm down. Everyone knows how and what to run on both ends of the court so take a breath and relax.

Rebounding is a team concept. Never rely on one guy to control the boards.

Help is not just a cute afterthought on defense - it is vital. See help situations early; don’t wait for someone else to step up.

Kobe: Your teammates are ready to help. Even when they play a touch slow, don’t turn away from making the pass in favor of a forced play. Also, you don’t have to help out with every position on defense when it comes to letting your man loose.

Lamar: He’s found his role; he’s found his game, now he can’t look away from it. The inside is where his game flourishes; get in there at all costs. Just like Kobe, don’t push plays when they’re broken or have been defended well. Lamar’s improve skills aren’t the best in the league and he needs to recognize that in broken situations he has to give up the ball quickly before defenses collapse on him and he makes an ill-advised play. And biggest of all, don’t let the minutia of a game take away the bigger parts that make you effective (refs, fouls, etc.).

Pau: Add 20 pounds to your lower body. Better leg strength will allow Pau to become part of the play inside when Bynum is back on the court. His body held him back in the Finals from abusing the defense with his wide skill set. A wider stance on defense and getting to the high post (as Bynum will fill the low next season) is critical.

Derek: He’s the one guy that I thought played a consistently tough and well thought out Finals series. For Derek he still needs to vary his offense (like he did this post-season) and not just become a spot-up 3-point shooter at any chance.

Jordan: Control is his strong suit. When he plays with control (especially in traffic) he excels at both small lane passing and completing drives. He did better in stepping away from the outside shot and using his speed on his drive. That has to step up yet another notch next year. Speed has to increase as well as not quitting on defense. He tends to slow down on screens (and like other Lakers) look for someone else to cover his gap instead of getting there himself.

Luke: No more offense from the post. Start your offense from the high post, pass it off and cut. Off ball movement is what he does best, but he has a tendency to try and be Mr. Everything when he doesn’t have to be. Learning how to expand his game while playing within his skill set is Luke’s challenge.

Ronny: Continue to develop that 10 to 12-foot jumper. It’s a valuable weapon to open up the paint for his good runs into the trees. He has to learn control on defense. Wanting to block every shot is an admirable intention, but it won’t happen. Learn when to stay grounded and when to swat at the ball. He needs to also work on spacing on defense, giving his man a little more room so he isn’t always jumping over the back.

Trevor: Keep working on the outside shot. His athleticism is deadly from all points on the court and if he keeps learning the seams on the offensive sets, he’ll blow up next year. The starting SF position is his to grab, but it’s going to take 2 things – playing within the system and keeping healthy.

Sasha: The shot has arrived and he did incredibly well finding his spots and getting to them very well. Also, his shot decisions got increasingly sharper as the year went on – hopefully that trend continues. Keep that in mind for next season, because his role is going to get nothing but bigger. His tenacity on defense is his strong point there, but it’s also his undoing. Defense from the half court line down is a good idea, but you can’t get beat out that far without cramping the rest of the defense. Balance defensive aggression with control.

Vladi: He has to play smart at SOME point right? There’s nothing much to say about Radman’s play other than he has to have his head in the game when he’s on the court at least.

I’m not too sure if Mbenga, Karl or Newble will be on the team next year (hopefully Mbenga makes a return as I thought he could’ve played a role in the Finals).

Phil: He can’t set the trend on the team of going away from what’s effective. A lot of the Lakers inability to play consistently when things were rolling was from Phil yanking out players unexpectedly for long periods of time and expecting the rest of the team to cover up the difference.

So this year is over. It wasn’t a terrible disappointment, but getting this far and letting it slip away on your own accord is aggravating. Losing isn’t fun, but if you do lose you have to leave knowing you gave it everything you had. The Lakers didn’t leave that feeling with me in this series.

Luckily for us, the next season is coming sooner than a first round exit brings. And with that season I truly think great thing s are on their way. Its tough to lose the Finals, but you have to turn the negative into motivation and come back next year driven, focused, mentally sharp and above all – healthy.

Go Lakers!!!
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
crucifido
Clublakers Analyst
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby Chicano on Tue Jul 15, 2008 3:59 am

Looking forward to your always insightful & amazing blogs next season cruc. :jam2:
Chicano

 

Previous

Return to Lakers Blogs

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron
Advertise Here | Privacy Policy | ©2008 Sculu Sports. Come Strong.