Wednesday, June 18, 2008

So now that it's all over...

...surprisingly I'm not as dejected as I've been in the past. Maybe it's got something to do with the current team having so little time to gel together (~30 games left in the season less games where gasol was out). Maybe it had to do with Boston being the overwhelming favorite from the moment KG was signed. Maybe it had to do with LA's positive outlook considering their youth. Or maybe it was because summer's finally here and my rehab'd knee is finally good to go. (so I can mangle it again)

Truth (no, not THE Truth) be told, I'm not an optimist but I think the horizon looks a lot better than ones in recent memory. In fact, the last time I had such a bright outlook on the upcoming season, it was when Kupchak signed the soon-to-be-retiree's as free agents, those being Malone & Payton. Yes, things didn't turn out all rosy but I'd like to point out the differences:
i) we currently have a set bench rotation where role players will be coming into their 2nd & 3rd years in familiar positions
ii) our starting PF is under 30. although not hall of fame material, gasol still has time on his side
iii) we don't have a lumbering, injury prone (knock on wood) center that takes the first 20 games of the season off in order to tend to his injuries
iv) familiarity between the core of the team. LA might still be able to shuffle around some players in the offseason but the majority of the team & coaching staff have had time to gel together

Lastly, as I admitted before the series began, Boston was indeed the superior team. If the Lakers had stolen game 1 the series may have taken a different tone entirely. Powe may not have had the luxury to reclaim his minutes, maybe Cassell gets more PT for experience, who knows... all in all, I'm happy that KG finally got his ring

In closing, this is a comment that I left over on Kurt's blog (Forum Blue & Gold):
i noticed that although most opinions are that the lakers are going to be better next year with the addition of bynum, NOBODY has thought of how they're going to get better by subtraction.

dumping kwame, cook and smush was huge in itself, nevermind actually getting gasol, ariza and fisher to play their minutes. with bynum out there, shifting gasol and odom (or equal caliber player via trade) down the line, the lakers get better in defense, rebounds AND post presence. why's that? because we won't be wasting minutes on radman the daydreamer and walton. i love walton's court game has but he's not a $5 mill per player, and certainly not a starter on a championship contender. boston attacked our weakest link (SF) with reckless abandon and the luxury of having odom playing at SF with ariza/walton as backups (def/off subs), i personally think that takes us to the next level. unfortunately we still have to keep radman around with his disgusting contract so we're limited in how we can beef up the bench, but i think that's a pretty good start.

And that's my mindset at this point. Just to let everyone know that I do intend to post during the offseason. What would summer be without trade talk & speculation?!

Friday, June 6, 2008

June 5, 2008 - John Locke spotted in Boston

Come to think of it, these two share more than just their quest for The Truth. And here I thought that Lost was a fictional tv series. I'm a little curious as to how John Locke managed to turn back the clock 30 years in order to get his 3 point range back but nonetheless, a very courageous outing for him. If I could walk, run and jump 5 minutes after being in a wheelchair, I'd be searching for The Truth as well...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

THIS is not a foul in Boston

ray allen NOT fouling kobe bryant

Lakers vs Celtics - Game One Impressions

Well this game went almost as expected... from Boston coming out backed by their home crowd to the Lakers settling down in the 2nd quarter and punishing Boston by getting them into foul trouble (with aggressive offense, btw). Boston's been coming out hot in the 3rd quarters this year and just as I mentioned that to the person I was watching the game with, Pierce gets mugged by an out of control Radmanovic and converts the 4 point play. Bigups to Pierce for a great game but I thought the Lakers could still eek it out in the fourth quarter. This might sound like sour grapes to some people, but that fourth quarter was incredibly difficult to sit through.

True, the Lakers had a hard time making shots, most of their misses coming with the game already out of reach in the last 2 minutes, but the refs were so inconsistent with their foul calls that the Celtics could run whatever they wanted and they'd end up at the FT line. A couple plays come into mind:
  • shotclock nearing zero and Allen drives right, then switches left at the FT line and gets a bailout foul on Sasha.
  • PJ Brown battling Walton for a rebound on the Celtics' end. Both are clutching each other and then PJ pushes off with his left arm to get seperation
  • Pierce getting scratched by Odom on a rebound - Pierce pushes off with his left arm, Odom hits his chest on the way down. We go 90' for more Celtic FTs
  • foul just past midcourt as Fisher tries to trap Rondo. Very minor contact considering how much mugging was going on in the first half and Celts nowhere near getting into their offensive set

I'm not going to dwell on this topic much longer. The calls were certainly nowhere near consistent throughout the game. I've thought that the Celtics have been allowed by the NBA to play more D with their hands throughout this year's playoffs and today was no different. First half was consistent: LA was taking it to the hoop and those hard fouls were actually called. Second half, I felt that the Celts' contact eased up a little but bailout calls and inconsequential fouls were called in their favor to continue the parade to the line. End result? 35-28 FT edge for the Celts (29 LA fouls to Boston's 22), but it took a LOT less contact for the Celtics to get the calls in their favor. Keep in mind, Laker's didn't even intentionally foul at the end, though Sasha picked up 1 in the last 20 seconds.

And please stop with the storylines and drama. Sheep.

NBA Finals Predictions

Yeah, I just couldn't resist;)

Big picture: LA Lakers in 6 games
Breakdown: (which I'll probably revise after each game lol)
Game 1 - Boston - too much adrenaline and hype, LA gets overwhelmed
Game 2 - LA - LA's bench gets their act together and
Game 3 - LA - momentum continues for LA
Game 4 - Boston - Celtics make adjustments and steal a game at the Staples' Center
Game 5 - LA - The show gets back on track and LA rolls to another win
Game 6 - LA - LA's been great in closeout games this playoffs and I think they take it to Boston in front of their home crowd
Game 7 - Umm.. I said 6 games, didn't I?

Obviously you know which way my bias is towards but here it goes anyways...

For the record, I DO truly feel that Boston has the better team on paper. You don't storm through a regular season with 66 wins and not have any truly great weapons. Boston's issue is that the bench, along with Ray Allen, have lost Coach Rivers' confidence throughout the playoffs. Tony Allen, Kendrick Perkins, Sam Cassell, James Posey, Eddie House and Leon Powe were such important pieces of the puzzle throughout the first 82 games. Then once the playoffs started, Doc Rivers shortened his rotation and with fewer minutes came even less production. So for that reason, I think that the Lakers can exploit their advantage in this series.

BTW I'm watching the intro right now... I'm trying to hate Boston but that track they're playing during the intro video is THE SHIT. Makes me think of Jared Leto and trackmarks.

Now with all that said, for me to say that I don't hope for a Game 1 win is a little out there. Naturally I hope that LA steals both games in Boston but I'd definitely be more surprised than expectant if that were to happen. Boston is a great team in their own right and I think it's more an issue of them allowing LA to contain their weapons rather than LA playing and matching up really well throughout the game. Ok, on to the game... and please Sasha, limit your downtown huckjob to under 6 shots, I've got a bad feeling about your nerves tonight!

Apparently Phil Jackson Doesn't Like Stats

Known for his mind games and sarcastic/dry remarks, Phil Jackson explained why the two losses to the Celtics earlier in the year weren't noteworthy. Game one was played after Thanksgiving, so turkey dinner was the culprit. Game two was, for those that chose to suffer through it, known as "The short-shorts" night. Thank the lord that we only had to see this for half of the game...

Here are the scores in case you didn't (or didn't want to) remember:

Game one
November 23 @ Boston
Loss 94-107

Game two
December 30 @ LA
Loss 91-110

Who wears short shorts?
Fisher wears short shorts!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Retrospective: Kobe Caught In Hoops Purgatory?

Here's looking back at an article written on May 19, 2006 by Scoop Jackson titled Kobe caught in hoops purgatory

Wow, how so much can change in the past two years. I try my best to filter through the crap that we've come to know as 'ESPN', but I've been a Scoop Jackson fan for quite a while now. Two years ago, I thought this was an absolutely great article chronicling how Kobe can do almost everything right (on the basketball court), yet have it construed as failure. In this day and age it seems normal to have stars torn apart and compared to the greats of the past. Think of all the 'next' Michael Jordans; Grant Hill, Kobe, Lebron, etc... They're all great players in their own right, so why do they get so much criticism even though they give their all on the court? Well, my only explanation is that everyone is searching for something that doesn't exist... perfection.

Which brings me to my point. At this stage in Kobe's career, after this last 12 months, it seems like he's truly on top of it all in terms of basketball. He's won the MVP, didn't chase and hurt his team's record in search of another scoring crown and most importantly, is playing in his first finals without Shaquille O'Neal. His teammates are expecting the kickouts in late shotclock situations and are ready to knock down those shots (well, for the most part anyways). He's not forcing the issue against great defenders, instead he's taking what they're giving him and Kobe's being very disciplined with his shot selection. Everything's hunky-dory right? Well...

Scoop Jackson closed his article with the following:
"Overlooked in all of this new Kobegate is a point Kenny Smith made during and after the infamous Game 7. He talked about Kobe being in a place no other basketball player exists. A damned if he does, damned if he doesn't place. Hoops purgatory. A place where he can't win.

Which is funny, because the first comment out of Kobe's mouth the other night was, "We play the game to win."

Unfortunately for Kobe, you can only play basketball to win.

The game that is his life has slowly become a no-win situation."

I'll admit, things look REALLY great right now. However, if the Lakers don't go on to win the NBA championship, lets see how quick the media is to jump on the MVP for his mistakes. No, I don't think they'll crucify him but the pity card would be just as insulting.

Things that make you go hmmm.... Smush Parker

Although I've been a lifelong Laker fan, over the last few years I've found myself stuck on the Smush Parker era that the Lakers so painfully had to endure. This was easy enough to explain when Smush 'dazzled' Phil Jackson by going over the 20 point plateau in 4 of his first 5 games as a Laker, and was subsequently awarded the starting PG job for the rest of the season. By 'easy enough to explain' I'm referring to actually having to suffer through watching the next 77 games, wondering what mistake was going to happen next. Wondering which play Smush was going to give up on. Wondering how much every basket was contributing to his ego. Well... fast forward a year and a bit and we got to see exactly how bad it got for Smush. He lost his starting PG job in the last week of the regular season to Jordan Farmar and thankfully was not brought back. Even better, the Miami Heat offered him a 2 year contract (wow, what a great judge of talent Pat Riley is)!

Now don't get me wrong, I can appreciate success stories. I love to hear how people have overcome adversities and conquered their weaknesses because in the end, they've bettered themselves and are able to afford luxuries to those around them. This case, however, I don't have much sympathy for. Smush 'shake & bake you' Parker had the starting job handed to him because they Lakers were a depleted team in the rebuilding process... and instead of using that opportunity to add facets to his game and learn from those around him, he chose to focus on making the showtime plays and pouted when things didn't go his way. Sorry man, this is how the cookie crumbles. Maybe the And-1 tour is next on his list... or not. Afterall, NBA stars CAN'T take a step down and play for the 'Me-Me-Me' tour right? Thank GOD he wasn't one of the four PGs we had on our roster at the start of '07-'08.

Smush Parker @ Wikipedia
Smush Parker's official site (which still has Laker GoogleAds btw)

2007-'08 NBA Finals Schedule

I still don't buy the reasoning to give the underdog 3 games in a row at home. I'm a firm believer that it indeed changes the complexion of the series and puts a huge amount of pressure on the home team to win games 1 & 2. Then again, I suppose this favors the Lakers... so what exactly am I complaining about again?

Schedule is as follows:

All Things Lakers Now Online!

Hello world! Welcome to All Things Lakers... where you'll find lots of Los Angeles Lakers related news. From box scores to game recaps to trade rumours, I'll try to cover as much as I can. Currently they're awaiting Thursday which will be the first game of the 2007-2008 NBA Finals... Here's hoping they get 'er done