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Credits 6/14/09

Here are today's Lakers Links:

(They will be updated throughout the day)

Pay the Critics No Mind: Kobe Bryant Has Been "Amazing" - Silver Screen and Roll
We're in the middle of the 2009 NBA Finals, and Kobe Bryant is at center stage. He is a mere 48 minutes away from erasing his critics' single biggest talking point – the fact that he has yet to win a championship without Shaquille O'Neal. But while a Lakers championship is considered all but guaranteed at this point, Bryant's critics aren't giving up, choosing instead to highlight a couple of poor shooting games by Kobe as a way of detracting from the magnitude of his performance in the Finals. This brings us to a primary error in the way many people perceive and discuss the game of basketball: They think that they can look at a box score, especially a player's shooting percentages, and that the numbers will tell them how effective the player was on the floor, and what kind of impact he had on the game. They are wrong.

NBA Finals: Jerry West likes what he's seeing from Kobe - ESPN
For whatever dismay you want to voice with his shot selection in the past two games or the five free throws he uncharacteristically clanked in L.A.'s Game 3 defeat, be advised that Bryant is one of just three players ever to average at least 30 points and eight assists through the first four games of the Finals while also shooting a passable 42.9 percent from the floor. The other two are Jordan in the 1991 Finals … and West in the 1970 Finals. ...."When you're that great, sometimes people don't want to give you the credit. But when Kobe walks away from this game, he's going to leave huge footprints, just as Michael Jordan did. "This is a once-every-25-years player. Appreciate him while he's here."

SHELBURNE: Hardened Lakers now show their true grit - LA Daily News
They have been brilliant before. Exciting, fast-breaking and smooth. They have been angry before. Snarling, tough-minded and crude. But they had never dug this deep. For the better part of the past two playoffs, the Lakers have been the most talented team on the court. During this year's run, the Lakers have easily been the most poised team on the court. But Thursday night, in Game 4 of the NBA Finals — when they arm-wrestled the Orlando Magic — the Lakers were finally the toughest team on the court.

NBA Finals: Orlando Magic vs. Los Angeles Lakers scouting report, Game 5 - ESPN
It is experience that keeps a team from panicking when they are down five with under minute to play. It is experience (and intelligence) that helped Kobe Bryant anticipate the pass inside so he could be in position to wrap up Dwight Howard in front of the rim and prevent the game-ending dunk with 11.1 to play, forcing Howard to the line for the biggest free throws of his life. It is the experience of being there before that allowed Derek Fisher to calmly send the game into overtime with a 3-point shot, then put the game away with another. And it is experience that doesn't have players questioning rotations in the season's 105th game. Game 4 proved that it is precisely because of Finals experience that it is the Lakers, not the Magic, who lead this series 3-1.

Stop the Phil, Kobe Bashing -- NBA FanHouse
So after the Lakers dispose of the Orlando Magic within the next few days during these NBA Finals, cover your ears. The Phil and Kobe bashers will scream louder than usual, because Jackson will have his 10th world championship to break his tie with Red Auerbach for the all-time record among coaches. Worse for those bashers, Bryant will make it official that he can win it all without You Know Who. He'll also have four rings to LeBron James' zero. I mention LeBron, because on The Likeable Scale, LeBron is the people's choice compared to Kobe. This makes no sense. LeBron has those childish things on his resumé such as tossing chalk into the air before games, embarrassing opponents by clowning with his teammates on the court and sprinting into the night after his Cleveland Cavaliers were shoved out of the playoffs. Still, LeBron isn't viewed by the Phil and Kobe bashers as "arrogant" -- you know, one of the cleaner words they use to describe Bryant.

What If? at BasketBlog
What if Courtney Lee’s layup as regulation time expired in Game 2 went in? What if one of Dwight Howard’s two free throws, or both, went in with 11.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of Game 4?

It's time for Lakers' Phil Jackson to get his due - Andy Staples -

Small steps could lead to big things for Bynum -

Mark Jackson's view: Lakers make the plays - Los Angeles Times

For Lakers, there's nothing to get too bubbly about, yet - Los Angeles Times
They are on the verge of their 15th championship, holding a 3-1 lead over Orlando with a chance to end the NBA Finals tonight at Amway Arena. One by one, the Lakers promised they realized the importance of being this close to a title and not getting lost in visions of championship celebrations culminating with a victory parade in downtown Los Angeles. "It's true," forward Trevor Ariza said. "[Game 4] was a big win for us, but it's not over yet. We've still got one more win to go. If we want to do that, we can't get big-headed and think that the series is over or that the other team is just going to lay down."

Kobe Bryant says 'no' to idea of leaving Los Angeles Lakers early - ESPN
On the eve of Game 5 in the NBA Finals, one win away from his first championship in seven years, Bryant was asked Saturday if he can imagine playing for anyone other than the Lakers next season. "No" was Bryant's fast response, accompanied by one of his rare smiles in this series, as part of a media session that was by far his most relaxed and light-hearted in days. "Won't be an issue," Bryant insisted.

Hardwood Paroxysm " Blog Archive " The Nightmare
All-time greats the 2009 Lakers may not be, but they’ve taken care of business against a tough Magic team under the most scrutiny imagineable. Kobe’s done his work, Pau has been incredible at times, and Lamar Odom has led an entire supporting cast in filling the team’s most gaping holes. All of this came through in one fiendish smile, in excellence, moxie, and resolve personified. Fish smiles not because the Lakers live, but because the Magic dies. That’s the mindset that it took to elevate these Lakers to their eventual throne, and take note: we’ve just seen the awakening of something truly powerful.

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