The Credits 6/6/09

Are you concerned with how we won Game One?

Yes, it's a serious question.  Are you concerned?  Yesterday, there was a discussion on Timbo's "View from Orlando" that revolved around the way we won.  A way that could be a cause for concern.  How is that possible?

We scored 56 of 100 points in the paint.  Only took nine 3-pt shots, and made three.  We out-rebounded them 55-41.  15 of those rebounds, offensive.  We forced 30% on FG's.  Off shooting nights result in the low high 30's or low 40% variety.  Not 29.9% the Magic had.  We whipped them.  Right?  That's what I saw.

Well, supposedly it was a win due to the simple fact that the "Lakers made their midrange jumpers while Orlando missed their midrange jumpers."  Kobe went "Iversonian" on us, "chucking" for the win going 16-34, with "a couple nifty moves to the rack, sure, but mostly jumpshots, amazing though some of them were. Mr. McMamba hoisted 34 shots to score 40 points. That's high, high, high volume but just semi-okay efficiency."

Hmmm.  "Semi-okay efficiency?"  Here's what 20 Second Timeout's David Friedman had to say:

(In the comments.  Thanks, Gils.)

"A major problem with basketball statistical analysis is that without watching the games you cannot separate the wheat from the chaff. Kobe's 15-27 shooting enabled the Lakers to build that huge lead. His 1-7 shooting after that was irrelevant to the outcome of the game but after this series is over some fool will crunch all of those numbers and try to rank Kobe's overall performance vis a vis other Finals performances--the same mistake that people made last year regarding Kobe's performance in a losing effort and the same mistake that the "stat gurus" often make in other situations as well. A scout or coach who watched game one understands that Bryant's decision making and execution in the screen/roll killed Orlando but a "stat guru" looks at the numbers and says that Kobe had an average shooting night."

Out of those 27 shots Kobe took, 19 of them were with 16 ft.  Either in the paint, or at the elbow, and we all know how deadly Kobe can be from there.  He started off slow, missing easy looks, but then he went 11-19 in the 2nd and 3rd Quarters - when we opened up what was, at one point, a 29 point.  Even the 4th quarter, in which he went 1-7 in a 25+ point game, all 7 shots were within  15 ft.  This wasn't the 18-20 ft. jumper spree we see from time to time.  These were efficient, low risk, in the lane jumpers being defended by smaller, weaker opponents.  So, if Orlando is going to keep letting Kobe control the game and get those easy looks, Kobe should keep taking them.  Sooner or later Orlando will have to adjust and when they do, we might see Game 6 from the Nuggets again.  Mind you, Kobe still managed to have 8 assists.

So what about our defense?  Was it defense or luck? 

Timbo said:

"It is not indicative of anything but a bad night from the field for the blue team....the fickle rims said no.  They lost."

Maybe it's just me, but I saw a very active Lakers' defense rotating the best I've seen them all year.  Hedo and Rashard missed shots, because they were run off the3-pt line into shots not nearly as comfortable.  Did they miss some shots they might normally hit?  Some, I'm sure.  But, we were great on defense.  Great because we were able limit Dwight.  That was the key.  We're taller, and more athletic than the Cavs.  The Magic shooters can't shoot over us once they are forced out of rhythm and that makes all of the difference in the world as to why they missed those shots.  They may make more shots in Game 2, but as long as we're able to be effective in our defense of Dwight, those shots will not get easier.  Every miss multiplies, and right now, the pressure is on them.  We are a match-up nightmare for them, not the other way around.  Except for a healthy Jameer (more on him in the links).

So, even if you agree with the sentiment that Kobe took many shots, it doesn't matter because we won.  Handily.  There are no style points at this stage.  A win in the Finals is a win in the Finals.  It's one step closer to holding up the trophy.  The pressure is now on the Magic.  I'll take another game like that from Kobe every night, if that's how Orlando wants to play it.  The Magic cannot guard Kobe, specifically because of his post-up game, something LeBron doesn't have.  Another thing LeBron doesn't have are teammates that do not allow a team to effectively double team without getting burned.  So what will they do?  There's no doubt that the Lakers are hoping that they send double teams, because if they have to, this series is over.

Your Lakers Links after the jump...

 

 

Behind the Scenes: Going to the Finals – The Adventures of a Credentialed Blogger - Silver Screen and Roll
SS&R's Editor-In-Chief, Josh Tucker, is a member of the credentialed media for the Finals. Starting with his trip to Los Angeles, Josh gives you a complete inside look at Game 1 of the Finals.

Forum Blue And Gold " Game 2: The Pivotal Game
"It is the second game and not the first that dictates the tempo and the mood of the series." -Brent Musburger before Game 2 after the "Memorial Day Massacre".

X’s & O’s of Basketball: Magic Make No Defensive Adjustments in Game 1
In watching the third quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals last night between the Lakers and the Magic, I kept thinking to myself, when are the Magic going to change up their defense against Kobe Bryant? From the second quarter on, the Lakers could see that the Magic were going to play Kobe 1v1 and go under on all ball screens, so Kobe just went crazy. I almost thought for sure Stan Van Gundy would make an adjustment in the third quarter, maybe doubling Kobe on the perimeter, or trapping him on ball screens, instead they kept the same defense, and the final result was predictable, a Lakers rout.

(X's and O's shows a pictured breakdown of how the Lakers beat the Magic with Kobe.  They expect the Magic to double team.  We hope theat  they do.)

The Los Angeles Times:

Lamar Odom is ideal left-handed complement for Lakers
If Kobe Bryant is the Lakers' heat, then Lamar Odom is their humanity, a simple guy fighting through life's complexities with sad smiles and soft wisdom.

'Stabilizer' Luke Walton seizes his opportunity
Twice, Luke Walton has lost in the NBA Finals. And both times it left Walton in agony, always wondering what he could have done differently, done better, done to help the team, even if it was in a small way.That moment arrived for Walton in the second quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, a brief moment in the grand scheme of things, but a moment the Lakers needed at that point against the Orlando Magic.

Magic may need to color outside the lines
The Magic has been down this death march before. Orlando trailed Philadelphia, 2-1, in the first round of playoffs games before rallying to win the series, 4-2. And it was down, 3-2, to the defending NBA champion Boston Celtics before forcing a Game 7 in Boston. The Magic won that one, stomping all over those pesky leprechauns with Celtic pride on their side. It's reasonable to assume that Orlando won't wilt that easily again against the Lakers. But there's also the ominous forecast of more misery and heartbreak. The Lakers aren't Philadelphia, Boston or the one-man band over in Cleveland.

NBA works to feed world's audiences
As newspapers in the United States lose staff and fewer media members travel to big events such as the NBA Finals, over 250 international journalists have already arrived in Los Angeles and more are expected in Orlando, according to the NBA.

Bynum Using Brawn… and Brain - Lakers.com BasketBlog
Somewhere in L.A.’s Western Conference Semi-Final series against the Houston Rockets, two things happened to Andrew Bynum, one physical and one mental: He started to get closer to his pre-injury conditioning level just as a strategic light bulb flipped on in his head. The 21-year-old center realized that if he committed fully to protecting the rim, rebounding and getting up and down the floor in defensive transition, the Lakers would be very hard to beat. Makes sense, right? His offense would come naturally, but couldn’t be his focus.

(Yes.  He realized this a few games ago, and it was the reason we won Game 6 against the Nuggets handily, and the reason I pick the Finals to go no more than 5 games.  He seems engaged on defense, and he learned what a clean hard foul was.  It only took him 2 1/2 series to realize why Phil was giving him the quick hook.  No easy forays to the basket.)

Basketbawful:

2009 NBA Finals: The Worst of Game 1

Game 1 Press Conference: Kobe Bryant
Funny.

Game 1 Press Conference: Stan Van Gundy
This too.

The New York Times' Off the Dribble - Trevor Ariza Has Found a Home With His Hometown Team
Trevor Ariza is living the dream, playing for an N.B.A. championship in his hometown. It just took a few detours to get here, and one fateful assist from the Orlando Magic.

Here are some links regarding the Jameer Nelson Dilemma:

ESPN: Nelson returns to mixed reviews
Jameer Nelson's first game in over four months was an utter rout, but he had his moments, Chris Broussard writes.

The New York Times:  Magic Gambles With Unexpected Return by Jameer Nelson
The hope now is that Orlando has overcome its Game 1 jitters, that Nelson has shaken off any rust and that Alston, if he was bothered, quickly recovers. The Magic should be stronger with Nelson back in the fold, and there is time to re-establish team chemistry. Getting Nelson back to full speed, however, will take longer.

The OC Register:  Orlando confused by the new Alston-Nelson split at the point
The reality is that the Magic did the right thing by playing Nelson, who is so good and tough-minded that he can absolutely help the team win. But Magic coach Stan Van Gundy needs to have a better plan and clearly convey whatever his plan is to his players.

The OC Register:  Alston gets a cold shoulder from Van Gundy
"He played really well in early in the second quarter, annd so I continued to go with him," Van Gundy said of Nelson. He didn’t give Alston the same love. "As far as Rafer, having that affect his play in the second half, that’s up to him," Van Gundy said. "If I’m looking from the outside, that sounds like an excuse to me."

The Los Angeles Times:  Lakers expect to see plenty of Jameer Nelson
One would think the Lakers would be satisfied with their performance in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic. The biggest adjustment [Brian Shaw] expects from the Magic will involve Orlando's All-Star guard Jameer Nelson. "I wouldn't be surprised at all if Jameer Nelson is starting in Game 2 on Sunday," Shaw said. "He didn't show as much rust as a lot of people think that he would."

(By the way, I think Van Gundy had to play Nelson.  The Magic’s ceiling is much higher with Jameer. I don’t care how well Rafer was playing. He can’t win a series for them. Jameer back in the groove can. The Magic had to immerse him ASAP.  He looks healthy. Can’t wait for the right moment. Expect him to start. If I’m a Magic fan? Who cares if Rafer is upset?

I say this under the assumption that the Magic feel Jameer is healthy and ready to go.  I think Van Gundy realized in the 2nd Quarter (when Nelson played all 12 minutes) that Orlando cannot beat the Lakers taking jumpshots. I think he knows Dwight is in for a tough series, and he needs point guard penetration to soften the defense up, and get everyone good looks . That is NOT Alston’s game. He is a set shooter, not a penetrator. Top top it off, he’s very streaky. Given that, Van Gundy might as well get Nelson ready as early as possible.

Also, I like Rafer being upset.  He doesn;t paly well when he is.)

Slam Online:

Links: Finals Diary Day 2
We’re talking about practice…

NBA Finals Notes: Day 1 & 2

ESPN:

Daily Dime

  • Can Dwight go dunkless in Game 2, too?
  • J.J. Redick Plays Defense?

Can the Orlando Magic bounce back after Game 1 Finals loss?
With Lakers rolling on all cylinders, and Magic struggling in almost every area, can Orlando bounce back?

The Orange County Register:

Orlando finds no answers for Bryant
Most teams know by now that whenever Kobe Bryant gets that steely-eyed glare they might as well pack up and go home. Game over. Come back tomorrow.

Piercing interviews highlight off-day
Jeff Miller asks the silly questions

Howard sees Kobe in his nightmares
Dwight Howard doesn’t like to think about the first time he played against Kobe Bryant. So we will. It was his rookie season. A November night. In Orlando. Howard scored five points, Kobe 41. But it was Kobe’s first two points, a booming dunk, that haunts Howard four years later. "He baptized me, brought me into the NBA and back to reality with one play," he said Friday.

LA Daily News:

Lakers know importance of keeping focus -- on themselves - LA Daily News
The Lakers said they are determined to play Game 2 on Sunday at Staples Center the same way they played Game 1. Rather than worrying about what the Magic might do, they said they would remain focused on their play, on their emotions, on their energy.

Don't hand the Lakers the trophy just yet -
Remember those series against Houston and Denver? The Lakers would follow a big win by an incredibly lackluster defeat. The Lakers are famous for being consistently inconsistent. How in the name of Jack Nicholson - the one consistent thing about the Lakers - could they all of a sudden find consistent, solid play in the NBA Finals?

Game 1 loss has Magic reading a familiar story
When the Magic played a full game, as they did in Game 6 against the Cavs, everyone could see how good the Magic could be. The question is: Will we see it on Sunday? Thankfully for the Magic, they have short memories, they learn quickly and they have Friday and Saturday to tinker. They wouldn't be here if they couldn't make the necessary series adjustments.

NBA Fanhouse:

L.A. Ate All of Orlando's Rebounds
Among the myriad failures begotten by Orlando's Game 1 suck was a bad effort on the defensive glass. This is unusual, as the Magic ended the regular season as the third best defensive rebounding team in the league, with Dwight Howard's singular gravity allowing an otherwise slight roster to control the glass.

Shaq and Kobe Reunited? No Chance
Of course, there's also a rumor in there -- a rumor that Shaq wants to reunite with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles for one last hurrah....I mean, if Shaq truly wants this and believes it to be viable, he has to be the least self-aware person around. All anyone on T.V. can talk about is Kobe's inhuman desire to win a championship without Shaq. And Shaq thinks a man he has insulted time after time will just drop that, an emotion so tight and vital to his current existence? It's hilariously out of touch.

As Howard grows in stature, Shaq shrinks
Dwight Howard used to idolize Shaquille O'Neal. In return, Shaq has only belittled the Magic's new Superman.

The Sporting News:

Bryant in No Mood for Jokes, Just Wins
It’s not a bad thing for a player, especially a star player and a team leader like Bryant, to shrug that off. Bryant is essentially telling all of us that he’s not much in the mood for goofing off at the moment. He wants no questions about candy, and he wasn’t very responsive when asked about a video game in which he is depicted wearing a Knicks jersey. Byrant’s message has been consistent, before Game 1, on the night of Game 1 and now, before Game 2. "I’m just focused right now," he said. "I just want it so bad."

Ariza Another Symbol of Knicks' Crazy Past
What about the details of his time with the Knicks? Which are of course mad sordid, since it was the Isiah era.


Audio/Video:

Lakers Practice Report 6/5/09

Lakersmedia.com HD Game One Highlights

The Lakers must have the lamest player introductions ever.  Did someone let the Staples center know this is the Finals?

The B.S. Report

Lil Wayne does a song about Kobe (and even throws shots at leBron.  Take that Jay-Z.  As hot as Wayne is right now, Kobe's support is going to go through the roof when he wins the Chip and Finals MVP):


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