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Looks Like Another Perfect Day

May 10, 2012 2:00 AM

Criticism of Gasol, Bynum Unfounded

Bynum doubled.jpgDo you ever read a sport article and wonder if you watched the same game the writer did? After Game 5 between the Lakers and Nuggets I read this column by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News in which he criticizes Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol and believes, "the Lakers' difficulties have clearly stemmed from the no-shows of their big men." That is certainly not clear to me and I've watched every single minute of this series.

I can understand how he could come to this conclusion. He brings up what he calls "an ongoing chicken-and-egg debate" of whether Kobe Bryant stifles his big men by demanding the ball or do the big men force him to take too many shots because of their inadequacies. It makes sense to bring up this debate when you look at the box score from Game 5. Kobe Bryant took 32 shots and Gasol and Bynum combined for just 19. Bryant nearly led the Lakers to a huge come from behind victory with 14 points in the fourth quarter but it was not enough. But the loss should not be pinned on Gasol and Bynum.

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May 9, 2011 4:30 AM

Beyond Embarrassing

Bynum exiting vs Mavs.jpgEmbarrassment is an understatement. It was an embarrassing effort from the entire team until Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum ratcheted it up to reprehensible. This was an affront to Phil Jackson, one of the best coaches ever, and the Lakers, one of the best franchises ever. The Lakers were outplayed and outclassed in every single aspect of the game. The Lakers dynasty did end with a bang. But it was the bang of J.J. Barea's body hitting the floor after a forearm shiver from Andrew Bynum.

The Mavs exposed the Lakers' biggest weaknesses en route to a 122-86 - I don't think there is any single adjective to describe it - loss.

The bench play of J.J. Barea, Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovich illustrates everything the Lakers' bench lacks. Barea is a quick, young guard that can penetrate and distribute. He offers a nice change of pace from the more methodical Jason Kidd. The Lakers on the other hand have Steve Blake. Blake was supposed to play nearly equal minutes to Fisher and be a strong defender and 3-point shooter. He proved to be neither of these in the playoffs and underperformed in the regular season.

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May 7, 2011 4:50 AM

Another 4th Quarter Collapse

Kobe loses to Mavs.jpgThrough the first two games it was easy to explain away the Lakers losses. In Game 1, despite poor games by both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant just missed the game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds. In Game 2, they missed their first 15 3-pointers and went 2 for 20 with the majority of those being open looks. If they poorly instead of horrifically poorly they could've won that game. But after the loss in Game 3, it's clear the Mavs are the far superior team.

The Lakers were able to execute their game plan in the beginning. They pounded the ball inside to great effectiveness. Lamar Odom was slashing to the rim and even Gasol got a few looks to go in in the first quarter. But the star was again Andrew Bynum. Tyson Chandler couldn't handle him and gave away great positioning. Bynum was able to catch and score on that little jump hook of his. He even did the best job guarding Dirk Nowitzki. Late in the first half he managed to deflect a pass to Dirk and took it the distance for the dunk.

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May 5, 2011 2:30 AM

3-Point Woes Might Mean No 3-Peat

Fox Dushku.jpgWhere's Robert Horry nowadays? Can the Lakers pull Rick Fox away from Eliza Dushku sitting courtside and suit him up? Heck, I'd even settle for bringing The Machine back from the Nets. The Lakers missed their first 15 3-point shots on their way to a 2 of 20 night. It was a bad day for the team to have its worst 3-point shooting night of the season by far. It's not as if the Lakers were perfect in all other areas but if they have an average night from behind the arc they probably win this game. Instead, the Mavs win easily, 93-81 and take a 2-0 lead heading back to Dallas.

The Lakers once again had no answers for Dirk Nowitzki. They actually did a worse job defending him than they did in Game 1. His numbers were fairly similar but he got better looks than he did on Monday. His primary defender, whether it was Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom, often got lost on switches and Dirk wound up with a smaller opponent on him. He was able to get open looks and good ones with players like Shannon Brown or Derek Fisher on him.

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May 4, 2011 1:30 AM

Keys for the Lakers in Game 2

For real NBA fans there's not much better than Game 2 of a playoff series. Both teams have had a chance to look at the tape. The coaches make their adjustments and the Chess match can truly begin. The Lakers didn't play particularly poorly in Game 1 - they had more rebounds, points in the paint and second chance points - but there are plenty of areas where they can improve in an attempt to tie this series.

Defending Dirk - Lamar Odom was the primary defender against Nowitzki with Gasol defending him on a handful of possessions. The Lakers left these two out on an island to attempt to defend one of the top scorers in the league. Given the assignment they actually did a decent job. For the most part they limited him to jumpers and forced him into some tough shots. Unfortunately, shots like fadeaway jumpers off of one foot aren't all that tough for him. No one can shut him down one-on-one. The Lakers will need to bring over some guard help early to disrupt his rhythm. They can swipe at the ball and try to force the ball out of his hands.

Limiting Open Jumpers
- It will be a fine line for those guards helping out on Dirk. They need to get in quick but be ready to bounce back to their man. The Mavs got too many open looks and converted on 9 of 20 3-pointers. They have to be aware of the shooters who are threats. They have to make sure Peja Stojakovic never gets an open look and do what they can on the rest of the guards.

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May 3, 2011 4:00 AM

Mavs Shedding Negative Reputation

Dirk on Odom.jpg

Both of these teams have been labeled 'soft' at various times. Usually, the criticism of the Lakers is followed by something about them lacking interest. For the Mavs, it has been attached to a decade of disappointment in the postseason. It has to do with them not being able to close out games. With not being physical enough. With not being mentally tough enough to overcome adversity. Last night the Mavs showed their toughness with a 96-94 win in Los Angeles.

The Mavs didn't fold after falling down by 16 early in the third and for a change against the Lakers they held their own in the paint and on the boards. The team toughness combined with having the ultimate mismatch in Dirk Nowitzki was enough on this night.

The Lakers most glaring advantage against every team is their size. No one has two post players like Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Bynum was the biggest reason the Lakers handled the Hornets in the first round and why they reeled off 17 of 18 after the all-star break. He's one of the top rebounders in the league and is extremely efficient on offense getting high percentage looks right at the rim. But Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood neutralized Bynum. He finished shooting 3 of 8 for 8 points and only grabbed 5 rebounds. It was just the fifth time all season he has had 5 or fewer rebounds while playing over 25 minutes. The Lakers gave Bynum plenty of chances but he was forced to pass the ball back out when neither Haywood or Chandler gave up an inch while he tried to back them down. Those stats don't even do how ineffective he was justice. Of those 3 made field goals, 2 were dunks assisted on by Gasol.


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April 29, 2011 1:30 AM

Lakers Come Up Big as Paul Comes Up Small

Bynum dunks on Hornets.jpgThrough the first five games of this series it became apparent that the Hornets would need two huge games out of Chris Paul to knock off the defending champs. Instead, they got his worst performance of the series.

It's not like Paul had a bad game. In fact, he just missed out on another triple-double but it wasn't like the massive one he laid on the Lakers in Game 3. In that game he had 27 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds. Last night he finished with 10 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds. After Game 4 I wrote, "If I'm Monty Williams I tell Paul he has to try to take about 20 shots a game." Last night he took 9 shots.

The Hornets are outmatched at every position but point guard. They can't compete with the Lakers' front line and the only chance they have against L.A. is Paul and once again Paul didn't rise to the challenge.

Some of the credit goes to the Lakers' defense. They defended Paul better than they had all series. They kept switching defenders on him like they did in Game 2 and were much more physical with him. They doubled him every time he picked up his dribble and were able to force some turnovers. They did a better job of sealing off paths to the lane but he wasn't nearly aggressive enough. If I'm a Hornets' fan I'd much rather see the Hornets lose a game where CP3 puts up 20 shots as opposed to one where he puts up 9 and they get blown out.


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April 27, 2011 6:05 AM

Kobe's Just Fine and So Are The Lakers

Kobe Bryant posterizes Okafor.jpgKobe Bryant limped off the court after severely spraining his ankle towards the end of Game 4. He did interviews on training tables with crutches next to him. He gingerly got onto the team bus. He said he wouldn't get an MRI and would be ready for Game 5. He slowly walked onto the court as if each step was painful right before the tip. Then, with about 3:30 remaining in the 2nd quarter he threw down probably his best dunk of the season over Emeka Okafor. Yeah - Kobe was just fine. He loves drama and building his legacy and everyone fed right into it. What other explanation can there be? How can someone go from being on crutches just a day earlier to elevating higher than they had all season? Either Kobe played us all for fools or I want whatever those trainers are giving him.

The dunk cut the Hornets lead to two points and on the next possession, Bryant knifed his way to the bucket to tie the game and the Lakers never trailed after that point. But while Kobe would like the focus to be on him, this win was more about the Lakers all-around effort and taking advantage of their size.

The Hornets got off to a scorching start hitting on 13 of 16 shots in the first quarter. They were finally able to help Chris Paul out by hitting the open jumpers. They knocked down 9 of 11 open shots in the first half including five 3-pointers. But the Lakers didn't panic (in a good way this time) and buckled down on defense.

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April 25, 2011 4:11 AM

Paul Does It All for Hornets

Chris Paul on Andrew Bynum.jpgAs Chris Paul goes, so go the Hornets.

Game 1- Paul torches the Lakers for 33 points (including 17 of the final 24), 14 assists and 7 rebounds. Hornets win, 109-100.

Game 2 - He's less assertive, is pushed to the sides and has an average 20-point, 9 assist performance. Hornets lose, 87-78.

Game 3 - After a strong first half, Paul almost completely defers to his teammates and rarely looks to drive to the bucket. After 18 points and 3 assists in the first half, he has just 4 points and 5 assists in the second. Hornets lose, 100-86.

Last night, he was back to playing how he did in Game 1; like one of the best players in the world. Paul recorded his second career triple-double with 27 points, 15 assists and a career-high 13 rebounds (more on this later). This is the Chris Paul the Hornets need to stand a chance in this series. The entire offense must run through him on nearly every play because the Hornets aren't talented enough to win any other way. When the ball is in his hands and he is making plays they have a chance to beat anyone.

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April 23, 2011 1:56 AM

Chris Paul Disappears as Gasol Reappears

Chris Paul with Monty Williams.jpgI don't think anyone will deny that the Lakers have way more talent than the Hornets. I don't think many would even argue that besides the point guard position, every starter for the Lakers is more talented than the Hornets' counterpart. Chris Paul is the only player that can tear down the Lakers. He did it in Game 1 and he did it in the first half last night. But for some reason Paul left it up to the rest of his teammates to try and get back in the game and that strategy failed.

At first Paul was getting into the teeth of the defense. He'd drive to the hoop and kick off of often triple-teams to wide-open teammates. But Carl Landry, Marco Belinelli and Trevor Ariza all missed open shots (Belinelli missed a handful of open looks). That's when Paul took the game into his own hands. If his teammates weren't going to help him he would do it himself. The Hornets ran pick and rolls and that left Paul open to hit the mid-range jumpers and he knocked down nearly every one of them. He was hitting the exact same shots his teammates couldn't. Paul was 8-for-10 for 18 points at the half.

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