LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts against the Oklahoma City Thunder during Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 95-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Los Angeles won today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know. I had a text from a friend, ‘Los Angeles won today. Hell, yes. Catchyas.' That doesn't mean anything. It may have been yesterday. (See: ‘Outsider, The' by Camus, Albert)
Los Angeles a gagne aujourd'hui. Ou hier, peut-etre. Je ne sais pas. J'ai reçu un texte de mon ami, ‘Los Angeles a gagne. L'enfer, oui. Salut.' Qui ne veut rien dire. Il peut avoir ete hier. (Dans le langue originale, le francais. C'est une parodie de partir de ‘L'Etranger', de Albert Camus)
I am currently running on a combination of caffeine and extremely loud music, as otherwise the sleep deprivation would likely kill me. As such, I have descended into the realm of the brutally insane and have decided to switch it up and stray from the tried-and-true method of writing an article (the very same method which funds my Maserati allowance), and instead place into dot points whatever comes into my head regarding this game. Expect an insight into the human mind similar to that provided by Albert Camus' ‘The Outsider'. Oh, and there'll probably be some basketball analysis thrown in there... somewhere.
Side-note: I apologise to those who were misled into thinking this was an interview with Ron Artest by the title. Unfortunately, I am not (yet ;]) famous enough to garner an interview with his highness Ron-Ron, and he's too busy getting ready to make those fools who voted for the likes of LeBron James and Josh Smith over him for Defensive Player of the Year wish they'd never been born to conduct interviews, anyway.
Prepare for craziness to the level of which none of you could have ever imagined, after the jump.
And yes, I like talking in italics.
- Checking the boxscore, the first thing that jumps out to anyone is ‘Jeff Green: 2-11 shooting'. Last game? ‘Jeff Green: 4-12 shooting'. Last game, he could have gone 60% from the field and the final score would still swing in our favour, but this game was close enough to be worried that our victory may simply be due to Green being in a cold stretch. Pau Gasol is a good defender, but holding a guy like Green to sub-30% over a series? Unlikely. Therefore, we have to win by larger margins. Simple conclusion derived from probability.
- Kevin Durant, actions speak louder than words. If you reckon you'll usually make those shots, then go make them before you start talking crap. This isn't trash-talk from me, it's friendly advice; as really, nothing could make life worse for you than disrespecting the guy whose 260-pound frame you have to haul all around the court. But this is moot, as now after that massive disrespect in DPoY voting, Ron is gonna lock you down so bad that some of the toughest looks you got over the first two games will be easier than the easiest shots you'll get from here on out.
- Kobe hasn't been turning the ball over too bad. Especially considering this is against Thabo Sefolosha, this can only be a good sign.
- Speaking of Kobe, 39 points on 28 shots is nice, but 43% shooting from the field, not so much. Only one assist, even less so. Even accounting for the Fisher and Artest brickfest, one assist? C'mon, man.
- My hypothesis for Artest's shooting slump is that the weight he lost has automatically increased his vertical, and thus he is jumping higher with the same amount of effort on his jump shots, thus not even realising the extra vertical, and thus extra power, on his shots. As such, what used to be his natural shot is now going long, and when he tries adjusting to compensate for the loss in weight, the shot goes all over the place. My solution? Sweep OKC, and then get in a gym and focus on making 1,000 threes a day until the next series.
- A long, long, time ago, in a galaxy far, far... oh, wait, wrong movie. Never mind that last line. Nonetheless, what I was saying before the caffeine possessed my fingertips was that earlier on in the season, Pau demanded more touches, and back then it was laughable. After the last month or so, however, it is not only well deserved, but long overdue. Kobe's shot totals are generally under control these days, but Derek Fisher should NOT be taking double-figures shots in a game. Hell, he should barely scrape 10 shots in this whole SERIES, let alone in a game. Derek Fisher, GIVE PAU THE BALL. 8-14 for 25 points vs. 2-10 for 5 points. Who do you chose?
- Kobe getting to the line 15 times shows some nice aggression. And shooting 87% from there is a miracle, considering his finger.
- Speaking of aggression, Lamar Odom was being aggressive today, but sometimes his shoulder just won't let him ball like he is capable of. All we can do is admire that he is playing through such an injury without as much as a single excuse or complaint, and hope it doesn't act up too often.
- Derek Fisher + Ron Artest = 6-25 from three over the series. And that includes a 3-6 performance by Fish in Game One. Excuse me while I go pray to voodoo gods to grant us a hot streak like that which blessed Shannon Brown, Trevor Ariza, and Lamar Odom last playoffs.
- 37.5% from the field. Atrocious. The fact that our defense (and Kobe) can pull out a win, even on such a horrendous shooting night? Reassuring.
- On the same note, OKC was 39.2% from the field. Jeff Green hits some shots, and that becomes a respectable (for a defense-oriented series) 43%, and we lose. This game was too close for comfort.
- The difference in accuracy is even more notable when looking at true shooting. Los Angeles has a 46.5%TS for the game, OKC had a somewhat respectable 52%. Truly, we are a sucky shooting team.
- What kept us in the game, then? Grabbing a ridiculous 39.6% of our own misses. Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum were monsters on the offensive glass, and Pau made positive contributions, as well.
- Also, despite our crappy shooting, we seemed to execute well, 60.6% of our shots were assisted, and while we turned the ball over 16 times, considering the pace of this game and our well-known issues keeping hold of the ball, that wasn't atrociously bad.
- Pau Gasol, sub-70% from the line? C'mon, what happened to the dead-eye Pau Gasol of old?
- Drew had a down night compared to Sunday, but was still better than many would have expected coming back from missing 13 games due to injury. His 10 boards, 5 offensive, were sexy, and his lack of offensive rhythm when the Oklahoma City Thunder packed the paint was understandable, considering he's only had 1 game and maybe 3 practises prior to this night. All in all, he looks promising.
- Russell Westbrook's points-per-shot is ridiculous. 42 points off 26 shots? If he and the Thunder coaching staff realized this and were more aggressive in utilising it, Los Angeles would be screwed. It's not as if he's only scoring so efficiently because he's only taking wide-open jumpers, it's that he can get a wide open shot or lay-up against out sad crop of PGs any day. Hopefully, if he does decide to go into scorer-mode, Phil realises quickly and has Kobe play him.
- Serge Ibaka, 7 blocks? Shannon Brown needs to teach him how Ronny Turiaf felt, next time Serge tries to block the ShanWOW.
- Speaking of blocks,17 for Oklahoma compared to 3 for Los Angeles? With the Lakers' height advantage? Disconcerting, to be sure. C.A contended that it shows how old and slow the Lakers are playing, whereas I am not yet as concerned. I'd rather they play on the floor now and conserve their energy for the later money rounds, than go all-out athletically throughout every game and either tire or injure themselves before it really matters. This team IS a combination of old and injured; Shannon's thumb makes dunking risky, as does Lamar Odom's shoulder, and Andrew Bynum's Achilles, and Kobe's plethora of injuries, and Farmar's hand. Luke's back makes it hard to dunk (trust me, back injuries really screw with your vertical), Artest has a small vertical, Sasha is out, and our only other rotation player, Derek Fisher, is too old to dunk. That's just reality. What Los Angeles has to do is manage it well. And hey, with their defense, they can win whilst playing under the basket.
- The Los Angeles offense is good, but no longer great. With no dead-eye shooters left, the spacing is screwed. Age and injuries mean the famed speed and athleticism are compromised. And, most of all, the players seem to have developed a literal inability to execute correctly. It's too late in the season to entirely fix it. We will only go as far as our defense will take us. The defense has been holding steady so far in the playoffs, albeit in a small sample size, and if they can keep it up, all that's needed is to pull the offense into the top-5 for a decent shot at winning it all.
- Back in the SSR Roundtable Predictions, I predicted the Lakers to win in 6, dropping their first home game and their first away game, respectively. Being wrong once, I can understand. Being wrong twice? I find hard to believe.