Tag: Mavericks Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three

NBA Playoffs: Game 4, where we find out if the Lakers care


We can talk about matchups — like how the Lakers need to get some kind of production out of the point guard spot — but that’s not really the biggest key in Game 4 in Dallas on Sunday.

It’s which Lakers team shows up.

More than anything, the Lakers have looked mentally fatigued in this series. Which is something that could come trying to make a fourth straight NBA finals. You see it when Lakers are not helping the helper on defense, when they fail to execute at the end of games. These are things the Lakers have done in the past, even this season, but have stopped now. The Mavericks are pushing them, playing great basketball, but the Lakers of previous years responded to those kind of challenges with a renewed fire and energy that this team just has not shown.

Do those Lakers fight in Game 4, or do they roll over?

I expect fight, but we’ve been expecting that for a while now and not seen it.

The Mavs will play hard — this series seems to bring them a sense or redemption. For the 2006 finals. For the 2007 collapse in the first round to Golden State. For all the playoff losses. It may not feel like redemption in the locker room, but they are sure playing like it does. And for the fans, this would be the sweetest of victories.

In terms of strategy, it’s nothing new. The Lakers need to get the ball inside to Andrew Bynum. He was the best Laker on the floor in Game 3 but he got no touches, no shots in the final 10 minutes. That’s not on Bynum, that’s on the Lakers guards for not getting him the ball. The Lakers more than any other team seem to go away from what works for them when the game gets tight.

For the rest of the Lakers, they need to get a good game from their point guards (good luck with that), they need a rested Ron Artest to take on some offensive load. And they need Pau Gasol. The one from last year. Credit Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas for playing good defense, but Gasol is capable of being one of those players (like Dirk) where the defense doesn’t matter when he’s going. He just has not been going this playoffs.

The Mavs just need to keep running their pick-and-roll action that the Lakers defense can’t solve. They need to be tough inside. They need Dirk to be Dirk. Basically, they just need to keep doing what they have been doing.

If they do that, it seems not to matter what Lakers team shows up.

Lakers’ Gasol admits he needs to “snap out of it”

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two

One thing we have learned from this postseason — the Lakers are not nearly as good without Pau Gasol.

Technically they have had Gasol. He has played 36 minutes a game through the Lakers’ nine playoff games. But he hasn’t been the same guy as he was in the regular season. That Gasol put up 18.8 points per game on 52.9 percent shooting. The Gasol of the playoffs has averaged 13.4 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting. Dirk Nowitzki is shooting 76 percent this series when Gasol is on him. Gasol’s regular season PER of 23.3 is All-Star level; his playoff PER of 16.9 is just a slightly above average player.

The Lakers can’t win that way, and Marc Spears of Yahoo quoted Gasol after Game 3 as saying he realizes that.

He’s “out of it” mentally and hasn’t been able to be “effective or comfortable out there,” but couldn’t explain why and says he needs to “snap out of it.” Time is running out….

“It’s been tough,” Gasol simply said. “It’s been tough more than anything [because] of the losses.”

When asked if this poor playoff season ruins his previous Laker accomplishments, Gasol sternly responded: “You tell me? Should it? I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

It shouldn’t — the Lakers wouldn’t have the two rings they do without him.

I’ve know all about the rumors of the strife in Gasol’s personal life and … it doesn’t matter. That’s his personal life and it should stay his personal life.

Whatever the reason for his play, he does need to snap out of it. But frankly, it’s too late for this season.

Lakers to start Odom, Gasol, Bynum in one long front line

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two

All season, the only real chance that Lakers fans got to see what Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum looked like playing at the same time was on NBA 2K11. Because Phil Jackson almost never ran that lineup out there — 2:30 for the entire season. Total.

But with the season on the line — down 0-2 to the Dallas Mavericks heading into Game 3 Friday night — and Ron Artest out suspended, Jackson is going to his literally big three.

Lamar Odom said he would be starting for Artest (beside Gasol and Bynum), although Jackson declined to be specific, according to Lakers.com. This is Phil Jackson, what actually happens when the ball goes up may have no resemblance to what was said pregame. But as of now it looks like Odom starts, not Matt Barnes or Shannon Brown as had been expected.

This does some interesting things to the matchups.

It gives the Lakers options in dealing with Dirk Nowitzki, who has been the best player in this series. Odom has had more success as a defender on him than Gasol.

On offense, this moves Kobe to more of a wing attack position, where bringing help defenders could be harder, notes Darius from Forum Blue & Gold. Kobe has gotten just one shot at the rim in two games, this could give him more room to attack (if his ankle can support it). It also pretty much forces Dallas to guard Kobe with Kidd.

Look for Dallas to counter with Peja Stojakovic early — force Odom to come out and defend him at the arc, spreading the floor.

This is going to be one fascinating game.

Lakers may start Brown, have Barnes come off bench

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Phil Jackson needs to find a spark, because his team has lacked one for two games now.

So you can throw the conventional wisdom that Matt Barnes will step in and start for the suspended Ron Artest out the window — Shannon Brown may be getting the start, Kevin Ding reports at the Orange County Register. Brown would be the two guard, Kobe Bryant would slide to the three spot.

Frankly, both Barnes and Brown have been inconsistent with shots and been less than impressive on defense. Both are going to get their chance, one of them has to step up. That or Luke Walton… yea, better count on Brown or Barnes if you’re a Lakers fan.

Some Lakers fans are calling for the Lakers to go with more of a tall lineup that has Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom playing at once. Don’t expect it. Phil Jackson barely tried this during the season (only a handful of minutes all season), if he breaks it out now it’s more a sign of desperation than thoughtful strategy.

If Lakers lose big roster changes could be on horizon

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two

There is a historical precedent for this.

The Lakers won three consecutive titles from 2000-2002, then lost in 2003 to the Spurs. The next season they had nine new players. That 2004 team lost in the NBA finals to Detroit, The next year they had 10 new players.

So while the Lakers won it all the two years before this, Derek Fisher warned of what could come if they fall short now to the Dallas Mavericks, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“If you want to stay on this bus and take this ride and play for the Lakers and everything that this brings to you, then do everything humanly possible to push through,” Fisher said. “Management is still going to make decisions that they feel like are best. But the best way to impact that decision is to win.”

Coach in waiting Brian Shaw echoed the same thoughts.

“When it doesn’t work out and you have the talent that this team has, you think going forward, it’s not going to be the same afterwards if you don’t get through it,” said Shaw on Thursday.

For the record, the Lakers have their core under contract for next year. They have eight guys under deals and both Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown have player options that could bring the total to 10. But if the Lakers do fall short, Mitch Kupchak may be busy on the phone lines.