Hello everybody, first time fan post.
I've been watching the Lakers since the early 80s. As a young man I loved wearing an Atlanta Hawks jersey, thought Moses Malone was the greatest (named my son Moses by the way), and had a blast watching 'Nique, Spudd, and everybody else. As a native Californian though, I've always been a fan of the Lakers, and revelled in their glory through the 80s, into the 90s, and most recently at the turn of the millenium. Finding this blog makes me feel a bit normal now, in that "oh there's other people like me after all". It's hard explaining the Lakers to my wife, but it's great to hear my two year old shout "Lakers" at the top of his lungs.
I'd like to post some observations as a long time fan that will hopefully spark some comments. No stats, no popcorn machine, just comments from a dude that watched the game...
Initial reaction: So I wasn't really that bummed out the Lakers lost. It sure didn't feel like the Houston or Nuggets series when I felt like strangling the starting five, couldn't stand the media adoration of the Rockets and Nugs, and was generally in a pissy mood after a loss. It also isn't like the 2003-2004 campaign, when during the finals I had horrible dreams about the Lakers, Snoop Dog, and Rasheed Wallace. Yeah, I know, pretty sick, but I did watch probably 95% of the games that season. Anyway, I liked the intensity the Lakers brought, even though there were many missed opportunities (and free throws) that let the game slip away. I guess I just feel much more "confident", and I believe the Lakers feel that way too. They didn't throw this game away, the tried, and I like that.
Kobe Bryant: If Spike Lee had shot a film about the last three quarters of this game he would have named it Kobe Bryant: Hitting the Wall. He looked spent, emotionally and physically. His desire to win is almost visible, it oozes from his body, you can tell by his body language, play... everything. Two more wins is practically written across his face.
He looked great in the first quarter, it was one of his best this year, and certainly one of the best this playoffs. Unfortunately, he started to slump. He shot poorly, and more suprising than that, he was horrid from the stripe. You could just see from his shot, something looked off. I think that sometimes people get so used to seeing KB do the amazing that it becomes almost mundane; his turn arounds, foul and 4-point play opportunity, his awesome pass to Pau, things of beauty. I believe he's tired, and it's starting to show. I expect fire from him next game, and he'll probably shoot 1000 free throws before Thursday's game.
Lama Odom: Lamar the enigma. He was a beast on the defensive end, with his blocks, his effort, and his intensity. I liked it, a lot. He does not back down from Howard the way some of our players do. He goes up for the block, goes for the finish, blocked shot be damned. That's the best way to take it to Howard. Don't back down. Lamar came alive in the fourth, and I hope to see the same fire next game.
Trevor Ariza: He continues to play hard on defense, and he is shooting the three nicely. I hope to see him drive to the basket some more. During one play he drove in and shot this sideways quick layup as Howard approached. He looked intimidated. I was happy to see him go up for the dunk on Howard a little later. He needs to continue to take it at him as a way to draw fouls and stay aggressive.
Bynum: I'm impressed with Andrew's fundamentals. Although Howard appears to be stronger and quicker than Andrew, I believe that Drew has the edge in fundamentals. I'd sure like to get Andrew some more touches, and want him make the aggressive moves. He was effective in the paint when taking it strong. He was swatted when taking the jump shot. Four points and four rebounds in 23 minutes is not enough. I understand he's trying to handle Howard, but I hope to see some more agressive takes next game.
Fish: I think he played well, but should have been sat once Rafer started to penetrate and make a big difference. I remember one play when Kobe was jawing for the ball and Fish went baseline and hit a little jumper. Derrek has always done that, he's been the guy that would go to look somewhere else for scoring (other than Kobe).
Pau: I'm so impressed by this guy. He's playing strong, taking a beating, and he's not backing down. This guy is tough, he is physical. He didn't have many rebounds this game, but then again Orlando didn't miss much. He's a key to our game, and seeing him make those dunks in the first half, coupled with some nice turn around left handed shots down the stretch is great. He brings the total game to the table. Hopefully he'll drive a bit more to the hoop, and try and get Howard into the air and into foul trouble.
Bench: Thanks for keeping us in the game Jordan. Hey was that Mbenga?! I would have liked to see Shannon, but then again I'm a fan of the underdog/overachiever. I've got this mini-fantasy playing in my head of The Girls Next Door and I... oh wait not that fantasy <cough>. Really though, I'd love to see Shannon stuff one down on Howard like when he clipped the Bird Man. That would be great. Did I mention Mbenga?
Orlando: Howard sure does get away with a lot of banging, he leads with the elbow a lot, and you could just see him slamming into Pau. Given Kobe's foul with his little elbow he shot Lee, I'm surprised Howard hasn't picked up an offensive or two a la Shaq. Oh yeah, he's also a much better free throw shooter than Kobe (at least this game, Sarcasm guys!). Hedo? Wow. The guy can play, he can shoot, and his drives looked like they were killing us. Rafer was also on fire, and it looked like we were chasing Tony Parker around or something the way he was disecting us. They shot well. Okay, they shot lights out. Okay, they were freaking awesome. Some people are posting like this is the norm. Sure they're hot, but not 63% hot. I look for them to cool down a bit next game. Hey Lewis, shave that scraggly beard thingy. I just wanted to say that. Nice shooting though.
The media/commentators: Is it just me? Am I the only one who is tired of the commentators? I don't know what it is exactly, but they're annoying the hell out of me. Sort of like the media in general. Van Gundy this, Superman that, blah blah blah. It's getting old. Why don't they do a color piece on Josh Powell's hair stylist, or Sun Yue or something.
Predictions game 4: I'm going to drink some more beer. Probably Pacifico, because it was on sale. I'm also going to take a walk at half-time, instead of listening to the half-time show. As for the Lakers, I think they come back and win by a healthy 5 points. Kobe will be back to his old self, Pau and Odom will continue to play well, and Andrew will get a dunk in on Howard. Sasha will come in for approximately 38 seconds and foul someone away from the ball.
Sorry for Rambling, I just had to let that out.