All Balls Don’t Bounce

Completely Random Sports Non Sequiturs From A Completely Random Hip Hop Head

Lakers-Suns: Completely Un-Live Live Blog

Posted by hiphopmama on November 20, 2008

Here’s the deal. I’ve wanted to try out this live blogging thing, but I can never do it because the games are on while I’m getting my daughter ready for bed. So I recorded this one and wrote it up as I watched. No game times are listed, because I’m a lazy bastard and couldn’t be bothered, but it’s all chronological, I assure you. I will probably never do it again, but here goes anyway. Full game recap to follow.

First Quarter

We’re defending better – when someone gets into the lane, the team is collapsing to take away the threat. It will take a while to see if their rotations are sharp enough to contain the kick-out passes that are sure to come out of team defending in the paint. Nash will definitely test this out.

I know I said no thanks to having Shaq back in LA, but one positive would be that he could teach Bynum a thing or two about playing the post. He has some of those moves down to a science and, when he’s interested in actually executing them, he’s almost impossible to stop. 

Oh my god. I actually saw Radmanovic do something. He just countered Barnes with his own three pointer early in the first.

Bynum looks like a novice out there next to Shaq, on both ends of the floor, but he has continued to demonstrate the benefits of the work he put into developing a mid-range jump shot during the off-season. 

We’re still not shooting well. Kobe’s stroke looks off, and Fisher is still working his way into the season.

Holy crap, Radmanovic again. Another three. He lives! 

And then he disappears in his coverage on defense. Oh well. At least we had a sighting.

Why don’t we go to Pau by design more early on when he just had an incredible game against Chicago? He gets 24 points in the first half two nights ago, and then he disappears for the early going of this game. We don’t even look like we’re running any kind of offense, just throwing it around. If it weren’t for Radmanovic’s two threes, we’d be down by close to double digits.

Coming off the bench seems to suit Lamar Odom pretty well. He’s an immensely skilled player who by all accounts should be a first option starter somewhere, but he can’t seem to shoulder the burden of a team’s offense. Because of this, the farther he is down the pecking order, the less pressure ther eis on him to perform, the better he does in his time on the court. I would love it if he could be a first-choice starter for us, because he’s got infinitely more to offer than either Radmanovic or Ariza, but Phil likes to have energy guys like that to bring off the bench so more power to him as long as it keeps working.

When Kobe goes to the rim, he almost always creates something good, whether it’s his own shot or an opportunity for a teammate. Why does he insist on just pulling up from distance all the time?

Great drive by Ariza in the last minute of the first. He made Grant Hill look his age (which is what? 40? 50? does he qualify for Social Security yet?). I still don’t want him making any decisions out there, but give him the ball with a sliver of daylight and let him go to work. He’s a great athlete.

FIRST QUARTER THOUGHTS (26-24): How the hell are we leading after that? (Aside from the 8-0 run with the super subs, I guess. They sure do their job.) Raja Bell nailed a couple open threes, Barnes added one of his own, and we shot pretty poorly. I would have thought we’d be down by around 5 points. I guess it’s a good sign that we can claw our way to about even when we’re doing so average. The Suns didn’t look too stellar, either, and Nash was no factor at all. Still recovering from the indignity of that scrum with Houston?

Second Quarter

Vujacic starts the quarter playing like “The Machine,” nailing two open jumpers on the wing. I like him…as long as he’s scoring and not running his mouth. By all accounts, he’s like that piece of food you just can’t get out from between your teeth that keeps on nagging you. Except with long hair. If he does his job, I think we’ll all deal with it.

Ooh, nice post move by Bynum. Maybe it’s starting to come together for him. It wasn’t against the Great Wall of Shaq, but nice nonetheless.

Great steal by Farmar against Singletary, although he almost messed up the lay-up.

Enough with the stupid fouls! If you’re going to take a clear foul, knock the shit out of the guy and make sure he doesn’t score!! It’s Grant Hill, for Christ’s sake! If he gets a chance for an and one, you fucked up.

This is an awkward line-up. Farmar, Vujacic, Ariza, Odom, and Bynum. I don’t see where the offense is going to come from.

Have we ever been able to guar the three point line? It seems like that has always been our Achilles heel, even when we were winning championships. 

Boris Diaw still looks strong out there. It’s crazy that he’s blossomed into such a good player. When I hear his name, I still automatically think of an old NBA Live game (2002, I think) when he was one of those players who was always available as a free agent. I remember thinking every time, “Who the hell is B. Diaw?”

Occasionally we’ll play a possession or two of really good half-court defense, swarming the ball and forcing bad passes, and it makes me wonder why we can’t string more of those together. It’s like we haven’t quite locked in with our focus for the full 48 yet. Hopefully with time that will come.

Radmanovic!! Another three! Haven’t I always said how central he is to this team?

We’ve done a better job of crashing the boards as the game has gone on, giving up fewer second chance points and getting out on some good mini-breaks before the defense can set up.

That’s how you close a quarter! We did it at the end of both the first and the second, turning  a deficit into a decent lead. That’s another thing we did well in those championship years. We’d look like crap most of the quarter, then go on a big run and finish the quarter up a good 5+ points. It demoralized the other team and set us up for the next quarter. Except the third. We always sucked in the third quarter.

FIRST HALF THOUGHTS (50-44): Where is Pau Gasol?? He made a couple passes and took a hard elbow in the chest from Shaquille, but he’s been positively Radmanovic on the offensive end. It seems like we should be making a concerted effort to get him involved early to get him going. I remember Stu Lantz saying of Cedric Ceballos way back in the day that he averaged all his points without the Lakers ever running a single play for him. Well, Pau is not that kind of player. I think he’d really benefit from our working to get him the ball in good positions. As a team, we’re playing halfway decent, but we look like we’re trying to skate through the game, which is a little worrying. At least the Suns offense hasn’t looked particularly potent. Shaq seems to have neutered their offensive attack. He may give them more muscle down low, but not enough to counter the lack of scoring.

Third Quarter

Too many turnovers for the Suns, even by Nash. We’re scoring easy points off them, which is a killer. For our part, one of the few things we’ve done well is hold onto the ball, turning it over very little.

Bynum has played better as the game has progressed. He’s one of those guys who really needs that confidence, and now that he has it he looks much smoother out there.

Aside from giving up some offensive boards, we’ve played more like a team the first few minutes of the third. Running the floor, moving the ball, taking good shots – all improvements from the first half. That fourth foul on Bynum hurts, though. He was just starting to warm up.

Radmanovic! Four-for-four! My favorite number from my new favorite player! 

Momentarily, of course, as he just missed his next heat-check three.

Is anyone playing well for the Suns? They keep feeding Shaq, who is playing well, but Nash is M.I.A. and Bell has disappeared as well. Diaw has been the only real bright spot, so I’m not sure why we haven’t seen him yet this half. Match-up problem? Stoudemire’s having an okay game too, but nothing spectacular and not enough to keep the Suns on pace, at least not yet. 

More good ball movement by the Lakers leads to an open shot, Mind you, it’s a shot we probably would have missed in our last few games, but it was a god offensive possession with a positive result.

Another rainbow three from #10! Five-for-six from Vladimir, and counting. This is honestly the first time I can remember noticing him on the floor all season. I hope it’s not the last.

D-Fish for three! Off a behind-the-back pass from Gasol. It was probably unnecessary, but it looked nice.

This is at least the third time tonight I’ve seen Odom come over to help on defense only to stand there with his arms down while the opponent took and nailed a shot with him playing way too far off the ball. Thanks for sliding over and all, but at least wave or clap at the dude. Maybe yell in his face or duck your head and charge toward him, anything but just stand there.

Another strong close to a quarter. That’s three-for-three.

THIRD QUARTER THOUGHTS (80-67): An overall better effort. The Suns’ offense is struggling, so I guess I have to give credit for that to our defense. We don’t appear to be doing anything out of the ordinary, which speaks even better of us since maybe it’s the kind of performance we can expect in the future. So far the role players are carrying us on offense. I could care less a long as somebody’s doing it. Let’s see how the second unit does, since I’m sure that’s what we’ll see from Phil to start the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

More good defense and disciplined offense, leading to an easy bucket for Farmar. More of the same, please.

I know I said Gasol shouldn’t be given the Cedric Ceballos treatment, but I think Trevor Ariza should. Don’t ever make him a focal point or decision-maker, but give him the freedom to roam a little bit and attack when there’s an opening. That seems to be his forte.

Shit, Nash for three. Let’s not let him get going. That would make it a tough finish.

Ooh, we’re stroking the ball now, finally. Even Ariza is hitting open perimeter jumpers. And now Odom for three. This is how we should be shooting all the time. 

Bynum is back on the floor after picking up that fourth foul. With no Shaq in the game, he should be able to do some damage, or at least stay in the game for a while. On his first touch, he makes a nice move with good footwork across the lane and takes what looks to be a good sweeping shot, but the left hand lets him down and it fails to reach the rim. That one make take a little longer to develop, Andrew.

Wow, everything is clicking right now. Farmar is draining contested shots from the baseline? Stoudemire can’t make an open lay-up? I guess it’s just not Phoenix’s night. They are missing Leandro Barbosa, but I don’t think that explains it.

Ariza’s energy just bought us another basket. He dove in for an offensive rebound off Kobe’s free throw miss, got the jump ball, then did enough with the tip for Sasha to snatch it away and drain an open shot. 

Phoenix took Shaq out and has been playing small ball the whole fourth quarter, but it hasn’t seemed to do much for them. They’re still down 15, so why not bring O’Neal back in? He could at least get those last couple fouls on Bynum, and possibly a few more on Odom and Gasol, neither of whom could guard him tonight. I guess they figure why tax him in a game that looks increasingly unwinnable.

Fabulous pass from Luke Walton to Farmar. I really love Luke. He’s a solid player with great vision and good court awareness, and I’d like to see him get more playing time. We seem to be stacked at the small forward position, but he couldn’t contribute less than Radmanovic at this point. Okay, tonight he was helpful, but can you say that about him in any other game this year? Luke has a history of performing for us when we need him and I know he knows the triangle, so give him a shot. 

We have shot so well in the fourth that we have a decent overall shooting percentage for the game (I think Marv said something like 47%). That’s saying something when Kobe is shooting poorly; I can’t imagine he’s better than 40%.

And the depleted, pro-Lakers Phoenix crowd goes nuts. Some fat guy rips up a paper Suns sign on the sideline as the buzzer sounds. That’s always a good sight: away fans cheering you on.

FINAL GAME THOUGHTS (105-92): This was the kind of win I wanted to see from them. They did okay on Tuesday against Chicago, but they should have beat them more thoroughly. Tonight, they got off to a slow start but built on their performance each quarter, eventually stomping over the Suns in the late third and fourth quarters. The passing was crisp, they executed pretty well, and the defense did its job, holding the Suns’ big guns in check (Nash was a mere 3-for-9 with 8 total points while Stoudemire was 9-for-21 with a quiet 21). The Lakers had 25 assists to just 7 turnovers; the Suns were 22 and 15, which is a high number for a Steve Nash team. The team played well up and down the roster, with Radmanovic turning in a surprisingly strong effort as the team’s second leading scorer with 15, and the bench all played well too. Pau Gasol’s disappearance after his great game two nights ago is a little worrisome, but it didn’t detract from an overall great game. This is the best the Lakers have looked since that early win against the Rockets, when they did the same thing: slowly build up to a blow-out after a sluggish start. Maybe the revamped pre-season approach Phil keeps talking about really did focus effectively on the defensive end. I hope so, because we’ll need considerable improvements there if we want to do better than we did last year.


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