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Lakers' two losses to Cleveland this season reveal same trends

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The Lakers pledged they had learned their lesson Christmas Day in a 15-point letdown against Cleveland, a performance as disappointing as the fans throwing foam fingers onto the court when the pending result became inevitable.

Yet, the Lakers' rematch against the Cavaliers on Thursday yielded the same result, a 93-87 loss. The defeat itself may appear, at least statistically, to be an improvement. It could be, considering the Lakers were theoretically still in contention in the game's final minutes. But that isn't actually the case.

Aside from the fact that this loss gives Cleveland home-court advantage if the Lakers meet the Cavs in the NBA Finals with identical records (Nike has its fingers crossed), the trends that transpire from both losses appear just as troubling.

Lacking physical presence

Lakers fans are surely tired of this word. 

SOFT.

What started out as a legitimate criticism of the Lakers during the 2008 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics quickly became an easy talking point to regurgitate without thought when breaking down the Lakers the following season (specifically Pau Gasol).

Well, that word is creeping back, and for good reason. 

On Christmas Day, Gasol's streak of eight consecutive double-doubles came to an end with 11 points on four-of-11 shooting. Andrew Bynum didn't provide much help with four points and six rebounds in 26 minutes.

On Thursday, the Lakers allowed Cleveland to score 42 points in the paint while the Lakers scored only 26. Gasol had 13 points on five-of-14 shooting, while Bynum had only seven. That's a pretty small effort compared with that of the Cavs' front line, featuring Shaquille O'Neal (13 points), Anderson Varejao (11) and J.J. Hickson (11). 

Gasol and Bynum got pushed around all night and fell into early foul trouble. The most egregious examples include, a) Hickson's 14 rebounds nearly matching the combined effort of Gasol and Bynum on the glass (16), b) Gasol missing two free throws with 24.1 seconds remaining after admitting he lacked the mental toughness to focus, and c) Varejao beating the Lakers for a loose ball after missing a free throw with 20 seconds remaining. Coach Phil Jackson thought Varejao fouled Ron Artest, but the play epitomized the Lakers' lack of hustle.

Kobe Bryant neutralized

Bryant's performance Thursday against Cleveland was both memorable and frustrating for Lakers fans.

His free throw with three minutes remaining in the second quarter made him the 15th NBA player -- and youngest -- to reach 25,000 career points. He had scored 20 points in the first half, including scoring the first five in the game.

By the second half, that was a distant memory. He finished with 31 points, demonstrated questionable shot selection with his 12-of-31 clip, and had only four points on one-of-six shooting in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, LeBron James, who carries a rivalry with Mamba only in Nike puppet commercials, had 37 points, shot 13 of 25 and dished out nine assists, including 12 points in the last stanza.

The first meeting played out in similar fashion, with Bryant scoring 31 points on 11-of-32 shooting and James dropping 26 points on a nine-of-19 clip.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Kobe Bryant passes after Cleveland guards Delonte West (13) and Anthony Parker put on the defensive pressure in the second quarter Thursday night. Credit: Tony Dejak / Associated Press

 
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last night's game showed me all i need to know about this team..... by obtaining the ring, being fatigued (2 straight FINALS trips), and new contracts..... complacency has set in with this team and everyone knows it..... unless there is some kind of miracle attitude adjustment, this team may not make it out of the west.... i truly hope i'm wrong, but the evidence is glaring....

I would trade Bynum for Bosh in a heartbeat.

Bosh is a more complete player and more versatile player. He is the only 20 and 10 player in the NBA, has a more consistent jump shot, can shoot the three, plays better one on one defense, and it only 3 years older than Drew.

Trade Andrew Bynum.

THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST


Once upon a time there were two great mid 80’s teams called the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics.
Houston Rockets had a twin tower couple whose names were Hakeem and Ralph. One of them was an inside beast and the other was a finesse and smart player. For 3 years they both were healthy and they scared the whole NBA even reaching the finals in their second year together (burning our legendary ’86 Lakers in five on the Conference Finals). Then tragedy took over and Sampson got seriously injured.
Boston Celtics had a twin tower couple whose names were Robert and Kevin. One of them as a veteran inside beast and other was the most lethal post player in the last 30 years but never averaged more than 9 rebounds per game in his whole hall of famer career. For the whole 80’s decade they scared the whole NBA, winning 3 nba finals and bringing several nightmares to our fan community back then.
Some years later something happened in San Antonio and Detroit that we all know for sure (Twin Peaks and The Wall Aces).
Even Boston was capable to assemble a great couple recently (and unfortunately) with Kevin and Kieran.

Once upon a time there were two big men called Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Andrew was supossed to be the next big scary thing since Dwight Howard …. the BEAST.
Pau was signed to bring Post scoring and passing for the Lakers to become a contender again, he was supossed to be as he has been since he was 18 years old and played small forward in Barcelona… finesse , great fundamentals, a great scorer with high basketball IQ …. The BEAUTY.

¡¡ what an amazing couple !! eeeer ¡¡ NO !!

Bynum started to look himself in the mirror asking who was the prettiest of the two , I am …I am …he repeated, I’m the Prince of Bel Air,…I’ve been at the Playboy Mansion !!!! I don’t want to be ugly like Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace , I am a dancer on the paint ¡¡ Kareem told me !!,I am the future of the franchise ¡¡Mr. Buss told me !! Angeline Jolie ? no way man, no way, I’M THE REAL BEAUTY….. OF TORONTO.

One day the Lakers traded Drew to the Raptors for Chris Bosh, and Drew played happily ever after with Andrea Bargnanii. They were both seven footers and they were known all around the world as … The Brokeback Mountain Dudes.

Meanwhile Frodo Bryant, with Gasol and Bosh on his team, won so many rings that he was putting a couple of them on his toes …repeating to himself with a big smile on his face … ¡ oh lord ! … ¡ Kwame and Drew ! … god bless them.

Also, the "soft" stuff is old. Move on media. Get over it.

LeBron is at his peak in terms of basketball abilities, BTW. He's not getting any better than he is right now, and once the physical gifts that allow him to bull his way down the lane are gone, he will be a shadow of what he is now. Kobe is a far better player than LeBron when both players are healthy. Keep LeBron out of the lane and make him shoot jump shots, and you've neutralized his game. What was he last night 1 - 9 on threes? With a healthy shooting hand?

After watching last night, I came to the blog looking for something one
of the Bynum fans might say.

Oddly enough, they seem to be absent.

So now that we're over the hump mark, 3 observations:

1. My critique of Bynum seems to be spot on.

2. We miss Rambis.

3. Our season hinges upon the rotation of Bynum/Gasol/LO.

LakerTom & Friends,
Aren't you supposed to make some comment about how Bynum is/will
become a beast. Aren't you supposed to tell us to wait for the future?

KB Blitz,
Can you name some physical C's who might flourish with us?

hobbitmage whispers: Can you feel a trade coming?

For some much-needed comic relief, the Hollinger power ratings this morning has the Lakers as #1. We actually moved ahead of the Cavs by losing to them! Good thing we didn't win, or we would have fallen to #3 or worse. What a great system he has!

The Lakers looked pretty bad yesterday. Even though they didn't loose by all that much, they just looked weak. In any case, take this with a grain of salt, remember last year against the Magic? Right, the Lakers lost the season series and the Magic looked superior. I wouldn't even be surprised of Phil uses this to his advantage. Every year that I've watched him coach, he seems to space out on an important game. Almost as if he wants the team to loose. Perhaps he then uses that to motivate the team. However, I guess you can argue that, because the same thing happened against the Celtics two years ago. We will see...

from charley rosen at foxsports,

So which of the Lakers was the primary culprit?

Kobe can’t be blamed for getting worn down. Neither can Gasol be faulted for playing with more finesse than power. And after 10 1/2 seasons of throwing his weight around, it’s only natural Artest has lost his quickness.

The onus falls on Bynum. For being totally reactive and never forcing the action. For reverting to the tentative and confused state of his early seasons. And, mostly, for playing scared.

For the love of god Kobe, take a few games off and rest the finger so you can SHOOT THE BALL.

Is no one else incensed that he's basically acting as a diversion on the floor? His shot isn't there, the finger IS affecting him, he needs to rest the finger.

Someone just take this guy aside and remind him of the big picture...JUNE.

This was a really tough loss for me to digest. I had trouble sleeping after this one.

I've been a Bynum supporter since the early days of his young career. I appreciate LakerTom's enthusiasm and his unwavering expectations. If Bynum would perform at HALF the level of LT's expectations, he'd be unstoppable. But the truth is this:

He seems to have lost his competitive drive. Remember that fateful game against the Suns on Christmas Day 2007? Bynum was teeming with enthusiasm as he dunked on Amare, he was jumping around like a school kid as he hustled for rebounds. He was playing with passion. He was dominating. Where is that Bynum? Where is the high-dollar contract player who wants to grab every board, who wants to punish the man guarding him, who wants to protect the paint with every ounce of his spirit?

Shaq outplayed Bynum in December, and he outplayed him last night. Shaq got anywhere he wanted to get, got every look he wanted, and he made Bynum look totally inadequate. It was saddening.

We've won it before without Drew. We might just have to do that again.

Go Lake Show!

Are us fans anymore surprised? I don't expect us to win every game and all teams are gunning for us, but we just simply cannot be swept by any team, let alone our potential adversary in June. There was no teamwork or team play last night. We were the usual "softies" and a bunch of lip service prior to the game, you know who!!! Sigh...

It's frustrating, but I can't say it's not true. Maybe the Cavs ARE for real this year, because 1) LA was supposedly "up" for this game, and 2) Artest was supposed to make LA tougher and more geared towards stopping big 3-men like LBJ. Maybe, just maybe, Shaq makes a difference for the team. It's GOT to be discouraging the Cavs won without Mo Williams.

Of course, this follows a common trend every regular season. Teams get up to play the Lakers, and a no-name, do-nothing guy comes up big every night for the opposition when he sees the purple and gold. It happened last night.

But . . . LA's big men had to get beat up by the C's in 8 games in 2008 before sweeping them the next regular season. Plus, the Cavs might not even make it to June. So, be concerned, but don't worry, fellow Lakers fans. These guys proved they can be ready when the time comes.

Well, all you people missing the Celtics trolls will be happy. I'm sure we'll hear from them today and probably some Cavs trolls as well. Wouldn't surprise me if Mike T even posted to reminisce about Kwame's transcendent calves.

Ain't no thing. Last season Orlando beat the Lakers twice during the regular season as Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson seemed unstoppable. And we all know how much good that did Orlando during the finals.


Speed's our only weapon against Cleveland. Cannot let Shaq lope down the court cause he will out power you when he gets there. Can't out muscle the Cavs.

Pau's better than that, Phil's better than this, and we live and die with Kobe.

They made bigger shots. 93 wasn't a bad defensive effort. Gotta get at least 95 to win most Laker games.

Pau has been pretty good at the line; alas he is not perfect and therefore, although it was disgusted when he missed 2 precious ones with 20 secs left in the game, it was not completely unexpected. These things happen with the best of them. On the other hand losing is bad, ugly but losing also teaches experience, motivation for next time. It is a long seson; there is much basketball left to play; I certainly hope the Lakers will do very well with the rest of the trip. Last year the Lakers swept the Cavs in the regular season series and lost both games to the Magic; yet they were able to beat the Magic in the Finals. This loss is part of the many nuances of a long basketball season. I was depressed for 5 minutes after the game but there are alot to look forward to.
GO LAKERS!!! (and Pau, relax at the line and do not miss anymore).

A Few Observations From A Lakers Secret Agent After Being Tortured At His Lucky Barstool During A Lakers Loss:

1. I missed the final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter because Direct TV went down. I could hear the audio, but not see the video. There was one television in the corner where the video went through, but I refused to leave my lucky barstool. Bad choice. It has come to my awarenesss that the lucky barstool doesn't work unless I can watch the game. It was torture listening to a room of LeBroniacs cheering constantly in the closing minutes of the game.

2. From what I did see, it just seemed like the Lakers rushed their shots in the second half, thereby diminishing not only their high percentage shots, but also undermining the potential for their players to get offensive rebounds.

3. Bynum's early foul trouble just killed us, but I'm not sure that he deserved all those fouls. It sure seems like he gets called for ticky-tack fouls against significant big men. It seems like there is a bias by the refs. They don't let the kid play against major opponents.

4. Speaking of refs, I wouldn't say this was an awfully called game, but it wasn't a very well called game. Little consistency in terms of calling fouls.

5. I am finding my antipathy for LeBron James moving to active hatred: The way he apes for the crowd, the way he constantly travels and gets away with it, the way when he's called for a foul he cries like he's just been unjustly arrested for murdering his crackhead mother... it just drives me nuts. The guy just seethes with attention-addicted narcissism.

6. The Triangle is above movement. Ball movement. Flow. I just don't get it why players start standing around. That doesn't work. What works is ball movement and playing like a team. That works. That wins for us. I don't understand why we didn't do that in the second half.

7. Pau, come on, man! You've got to make those freethrows when the game's on the line! Urgh.

8. I thought Luke played well when he was in.

9. A very frustrating loss.

10. Now I get to enjoy reading hundreds of posts by trolls, haters, chicken littles, and fair-weather fans until we beat the Celtics. Urgh. Great. Fricken great.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!!

MM,

I know that your analysis seems very plausible and may be correct when you are looking at the surface of the game as it progressed. Certainly, Pau and Andrew got muscled about the key. Certainly, Gasol fell flat with those missed FTs. But, he's done that before. Kobe missed some jumpers. But he made a big one. Fish made a big one. Artest made a big one. Farmar made a big one.

What you are missing is what we almost saw happen:

We almost saw PJ, Kobe and Fish pull out another improbable win in a hostile environment on a night when LBJ was absolutely on FIRE.

That finish was designed by PJ and Kobe way back in the beggining of the 4th quarter. The two of them were aiming the game towards that final defining moment. None of those missed plays lost the game for the Lakers. Do you understand?

The problem is, after spending an entire night constructing a final moment, the moment never came. That holding call on Artest took that moment away.

It is like one of the two gunslingers in a dual dying of a heart attack moments before the utterance of the word, "draw!".

That finish was so anticlimatic. I am not going to say it was a bad call. It was a good call. It was the right call. But those two have been battling each other under the basket that same way all game long. Neither expected a whistle in that situation.

It was a gift. And Varejao, to his credit, took full advantage of it, realizing immediately what good fortune has just fallen into his lap.

That made LBJ's driving layup the most important basket of the game.

Does anyone actually think LBJ was burning us by taking all those open jumpers in the fourth quarter? Really? The plan was for LBJ to take just one more jump shot. If you look at the play, every laker almost was already in the paint when LBJ got the ball. We were counting on him to miss and for someone to get that rebound.

LBJ decided that his best move was to revert to his strength. Which is his strength, and he bowled over three Lakers to get that layup. He refused to take the bait -- to his credit.

We put the right guy on the foul line at the end of that game. That guy misses a FT as planned. We double-team the offensive rebounder and allow Fish to get the rebound. EVERYONE knew Fish would get and secure that rebound.

WE were going to run a play whereby Kobe (60%) or Fish (39.9%) or someone else (0.1%) was going to take that 3. EVERYONE knows (including those refs) that if Kobe or Fish takes that shot, it was going in.

It was planned.

Kobe and PJ are the smartest, most crafty, most wicked, most cold-hearted player-coach duo in the whole league. They were planning on ripping Cleaveland's heart right out through their jerseys.

IF that game had gone into OT. You best believe the Lakers would have prevailed.

But, "the best laid plans of mice and men..."

Sometimes, things just don't go to plan.

That call was the right call, but at the same time, it was a terrible call. That ref knew that by blowing his whistle, he had taken the game out of the players' hands. He know that. Everyone in the arena and on TV knew that. He effectively ended the game 12 seconds early.

It was like watching opera it was so compelling. Except, the fat lady never came out to sing.

*C'est la vie*

On to the next game. It would suck to be a Nick right now...

--FEARless

Even Magic missed free throws in crunch time. FOUR IN A ROW!!! To be exact.

It happens.

Grow up, Bynum!
What a wuss. You played like a scared bunny.
We're paying you $12 Million a year. And we get this mess of a game.
Grow some balls.

Gasol, you need to show some balls too. You were SOFT.
What became of the tough Gasol from last year?
Stop playing for Spain. You're shortening your career by this.
During the summer you should hit the weight room, instead.

Artest, what happened to your King of Defense mentality?
You played like a wuss also.
Where's your aggression?
Did you lose your balls when you hit your head?

Dang.

Entertaining game. Gasol's achilles' heel has traditionally been crunch-time toughness and focus, and it seemed to be magnified against Shaq. As for Lamar, he may want to put his hands in LeBrawn's face when defending a jumper.

Off topic, but what happened to the K bros? I noticed they're at espn now. They used to run a pretty exclusive fiefdom in these parts.

Instead of the MVP Chant or Beat LA, All together now,
"TRADE BYNUM," TRADE BYNUM, TRADE BYNUM

BRING BACK ARIZA!!!!

Good morning CRUE!

I'm really not happy. Woke up at 4 am today dreaming about losing to the Crabs. That's just not right....

I HATE LOSING - especially to the Crabs & the C's.... I hate losing to these teams because they embody all that I hate when it comes to spoiled, pampered, idiotic, lunatic players.... (read Princess Jimmy there).

What a tool. Yeah so you beat us last night. SO WHAT? Make it out of the East and then come talk to me.

In the meantime, shut your pie-hole and act like a professional. UUGGGHHHH - I hate me some Princess Jimmy.


Still - I'm mad about the loss. I'm mad about the lack of heart displayed. I'm mad.... That said, it's halfway through the season and we really have NOT played our best basketball yet. I know we will improve. I know we will repeat. We got this.

GO LAKERS!!!

Nothing but another title will suffice.

I think this sums it up pretty well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtk8q4wf-h8

Lebron caught fire in the second half mainly because they were able to get Odom to switch onto Lebron at the top of the key. From there, Lebron would take two baby steps forward which caused Odom to back off five feat, Lebron would pull up and nail the 18 foot J. The most egregious example was in the fourth when Odom didn;t even bother to throw his hand up and Lebron buried the shot in his face. Seriously folks, that happened at least 5 times and may well have made the difference in the game.

Maybe Odom was just another victim, but I would think that at some point he would start to anticipate the same move being used over and over...

anybody else find Lebron's game kind of boring btw?

Option One: Kobe keeps playing with his broken finger. 12 for 31 doesn't cut it. If Kobe had shot his career average or even made his FTs, we would have been ahead at the end of the game.

Option Two. Kobe sits and heals for a couple of weeks while Brown and company do the best they can and we win it all again.

Option Three: Unfortunately, Brian Sean Griffith, the former bodyguard to Tonya Harding is no longer available to us, having gone to the great Southeast Portland Tavern in the Sky, but perhaps we, the dedicated bloggers, the pure of heart and firm of purpose, could take up a collection and find someone to nobble Lebron James.

Jon K,

When the game gets re-televised and you get a chance to watch it:

Look at the play of Bynum, Gasol & Odom.

Then look at the play/position of Shaq & Verajao.

The *soft* label is back and in affect.

JJ Hickson had 14 rebounds. Pau + Andrew = 16

Varejao & Odom were a wash. Shaq outplayed Bynum in the 2nd half.

If Kobe is complaining about complacency, he's probably in the place to
see it. Gasol is *NOT* playing with the same fire that he played last year.
Neither is Odom. Let's not talk about Bynum. ugh.

If Kobe didn't have a busted finger, he could have played savior.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. They wanted it more. They
took it. If we play like this in the playoffs, we won't bring home #16.

I'm curious to know if Coleangelo got a phone call this morning. :)

It's amazing that we as Laker fans talk about how the Magic's beat us twice last season and we rolled them in the finals. Well Boston beat us the year before and rolled us in the finals. Cleveland is a much better team and this Laker team need a some one to step up as a physical beast. Complacency has set in, Thriller is not it, to slow, no lateral movement, can't jump James totally abuse him. Bigs to soft i mean soft as butter, no toughness, my sister girls high school basketball team center is tougher then Drew and Pau together, and looks like Mark Eaton. It's trade time, we need a spark ,Bosh may be the answer.

The Outlaw,

"This was a really tough loss for me to digest. I had trouble sleeping after this one."

I must concur with that.

The Lakers fell apart in the second half.

The Clippers fell apart in the second half.

Rough night.

I compensated by taking one more drink than I should have and throwing myself into my bed. Urgh.

Go Clippers!!!

GO LAKERS!!!

"anybody else find Lebron's game kind of boring btw?"

As someone who has coached before, it's hilarious to me when people say that. First of all, because so many people equate "risky, stupid moves" with "entertaining" and "intelligent, efficient moves" with "boring". If you want that kind of excitement, why don't you just watch And 1? I'd rather watch good basketball. Second of all, it's funny because every time Lebron entertains the crowd outside of gameplay (where it belongs) he's ridiculed by Laker fans as an narcissistic egomaniac "aping" for the crowd.

Personally, I'd watch Lebron's game over Kobe's, any day.

Kobe needs to take some time off, does any one have the stones to tell him he's hurting more then helping. 12-31 shooting that's becoming his regular output, sit down, competing in 82 games is not that important at all. Jon K somebody is not listening to what we play for.

The real question though is, would bosh have done anything to alleviate this? I say no. Kwame might have, because he has proven he can keep Shaq outta the lane, but of course, there are those C3PO hands that he has....

I say the real culprit is coaching. I might have put DJ Mbenga in there to absorb some fouls and put Shaq on the line. Not on purpose, mind you, but to keep Bynum and Pau from taking those fouls and having to play essentially handcuffed.

Not only that, but where was the rotation off the double teams? They do not have a cohesive defensive strategy like they did last year, nor do the have Trevor Ariza, who probably couldn't guard LeBron, but could get out to those 3 point shooters and run the break to counter.

I still think this matchup doesn't matter much unless we face them in the playoffs. I still am unconvinced that the Cavs can replicate that in the playoffs. As many have said, like many contenders, they feel as though they can beat the Lakers, and were out to prove it.

The fact remains that the Lakers will be the team to come out of the West, while the Cavs have several daunting matchups out East that can counter their style of play better than the Lakers can.

So I'm disappointed, not worried. While I'm open to it, I definitely don't think a trade for Bosh will cure this ill....we just need a guy that can keep Shaq outta the lane.

Jon K

"It seems like there is a bias by the refs. They don't let the kid play against major opponents."

I'm not big on ref conspiracies, but they do get biased and Andrew hasn't been able to stay in a game against a quality opponent to date. That's got to change, and will change with good consistent energy and experience. This is still a "process", which we all know really means "frustrating as hell". I'm thinkin' come playoffs, Phil starts his famed ref bias rap in the press as only he can and Andrew starts to get a break.

Nothing's broken, save for Kobe's finger. Still the champs and the road to a ring is Chick Hearn Drive.

At this stage in his career Kobe is not the best in the association, James has past Kobe and distancing him every game, James is MVP.

hey, I'll take 7-1 if we can get it.

The Cavs have my respect, but there are answers to their offense over a 7 game series.

Its basically bully your way in with Shaq or Lebron, kick out to the shooters, hustle to get the rebound.

I actually more optimistic we'll have something for them if it came to 7 games....but it goes to show we had no special prep for them, whereas every team, including the Cavs have has special preparations for us.

FEARless,

I really enjoyed your analysis.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!


HOBBITMAGE

Gasol is not playing with the same fire at last year because he is less involved in offense because he has to contribute to "develop" the big baby Bynum.
Odom is not playing with the same fire at last year because he averages 14p14r 6a for a few games and he goes back to the bench to "develop" the big baby Bynum.
Gasol and Lamar have never been (or will be) clutch players or inside beasts. They are sound fundamentally players, very smart and versatile. Pau has also been blessed with a heck of offensive post skills.
There is a lot of confussion with inside roles. We need a beast inside to rebound and get physical wherter his name is Bosh, Chandler, Camby or David Lee.

Would love to hear your comments on this.

NBA seasons are long, strange trips. Easy to look back and find key moments that led to a championship (or not) even if that hindsight is really just guessing anyway. Even harder to do during a season, so I hesitate to draw much from this one game. But, I do worry about two things:

1. Intensity. Are some of these guys waiting for June? Holding back, easing up, not burning for it the way we as fans do?

2. Injuries. Hamstrings and fingers, especially index fingers, are fickle. They seem like minor things, but can turn into real problems later on. I personally wish Kobe would shut it down for a couple of weeks. This could help with #1 as the team would be motivated to show what they can do and, worst case, when Kobe came back, the Lakers could have a real need to win a lot of games.

Personally I hoped for a championship last year, but still worried given Bynum's injury. Perhaps the Magic were the perfect opponent for this team -- physical at one position, not across the entire front line. That's where the Lakers seem to struggle. I guess I should hope for the Magic or the Hawks to advance! Although, I think the Lakers will beat the Celtics.

On the plus side, the loss to Cleveland made the Lakers number 1 on Hollinger's Power Rankings. http://tinyurl.com/yfrom2h

"anybody else find Lebron's game kind of boring btw?"

As someone who has coached before, it's hilarious to me when people say that. First of all, because so many people equate "risky, stupid moves" with "entertaining" and "intelligent, efficient moves" with "boring". If you want that kind of excitement, why don't you just watch And 1? I'd rather watch good basketball. Second of all, it's funny because every time Lebron entertains the crowd outside of gameplay (where it belongs) he's ridiculed by Laker fans as an narcissistic egomaniac "aping" for the crowd.

Personally, I'd watch Lebron's game over Kobe's, any day.

Posted by: LA Guy | January 22, 2010 at 09:41 AM

how 'bout an unbiased, I'd go and watch both? No, that not possible, no way.

Geez, people like you make it seem as though were voting for a political candidate.

Lighten up, just because you don't like Kobe doesn't mean you shouldn't watch him.

The Lakers will not repeat this year. The only ones who look hungry are Kobe and Shannon Brown. Ron Artest was a mistake. He looks slow, unathletic and dumb. Ariza was the answer. Andrew Bynum wears panties and Pau Gasol is a stringbean who is scared to play hard. Derek Fisher shouldn't be starting in this league. Lamar Odom doesn't care. Kobe should leave because with this crew of losers, it won't get any better. They need a real power forward who plays hard -Bosh or Stoudemire. Trade Bynum now. This is the truth and anyone who denies it is blind.

Posted by: Mike Tyson | January 22, 2010 at 09:54 AM

No worries Mike, the rest of the nation said we wouldn't win it last year. the year before that, the 'experts' said the Lakers were an 8th seed at best (hey, before you get technical, the Lakers were #1 in the West when we got Pau...we woulda came out of the West).

We'll be fine. Pau has shown he's the best big in the World in the past 2 years. he can have an off game in the regular season.

hobbitmage,

"JJ Hickson had 14 rebounds. Pau + Andrew = 16"

Yeah. I noticed that.

I'm okay with LeBron scoring 40. I'm not okay with letting the rest of the Cavs have big nights.

We looked good in the first half and then played like an entirely different team in the second half.

It almost looked like during halftime the Cavs cheerleaders went into the Lakers locker room with a HUGE platter of pierogies soaked in melted butter and bacon and the Lakers were like, "Oh, great! Pierogies! The crown jewel of Slavic cuisine! Awesome! Why don't we engorge ourselves with pierogies soaked in butter and bacon with sour cream? What could happen?"

And after 10 minutes of craming dozens of pierogies down their gullets the Lakers went back on the court and decided basketball suddenly wasn't as fun a game to play.

Urgh.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

I'm not going to complain about Pau missing 2 ft. Lets be real, sometimes they going to miss, and Pau shooting so far 86% for this season, either career high or close to it. Our problem is Bynum, I just want you to recall this kid who in his rookie season was so happy to dunk on Shaq, and I was asking myself "Fast forward 5 years later Shaq still playing and where is this kid gone now?"
Unfortunately LakerTom, biggest defender of so-called Beast is absent, to offer us a reasonable well thought out explanation about what do we have on our hands, because when Lakers needs to deal with even mediocre center somehow Beast more and more looking like a Bust. And I don't event want to hear, about Drew scoring many times more than 20 this season, I don't care when he is scoring on undersized opponent, or teams playing without center. So, right now, this supposedly trade for Bosh is not looking like a bad idea, I did not watch Toronto too much, but judging from what I seen from USA Olympics team, where he clearly outplayed Howard, I liked what I seen. If he can not play with Pau, one more reason to trade him, because Pau here to stay.

Guys a new post is up. Poll question...

MM

dwntown atty,

"anybody else find Lebron's game kind of boring btw?"

It was a lot more boring when he used to have one offensive move: Crab dribble/travel with five steps down the lane to the right side of the basket and dunk the ball.

He's developed a nice outside shot and become a lot more versatile in the last two years.

Still, can't stand the guy.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

First of all the Cavs are good. You can beat them without the whole team being involved. When Kobe dominates the ball like he did last night, esp when he's 12/31, Lakers aren't going to beat the Cavs often. You have 3 other guys besides Kobe that have been all stars, they took a combined 29 shots last night.
If you want to trade Drew for Bosh, that's fine but the idea that last nights loss was all on Drew is ridiculous. Shaq had 13 points and 6 rebounds. Drew had 7 points and 8 rebounds. That's not exactly Shaq domination.
Why didn't the Lakers get the ball to Pau more, when he had Hickson checking him?
This loss means nothing as far as getting out of the West goes, there are no challengers in the West, but if we see the Cavs in the finals we'd better be a different BB team. Otherwise Shaq will get to 5 before Kobe does.
Remember Mo Williams didn't even play last night.

You guys are fools to blame Bynum. This game is on Phil, Pau, Kobe and Fish.
Kobe to many shots and and not enough makes
Phil for keeping D.Fish in starting lineup
Pau for his girly defense and poor play. 2 mised FTs again after the Sacramento game? How bout when Reggie Miller was making fun of Pau's defense on national tv? When accouncers call out your D on national tv this is not good. Let's hope they find the fire in there belly because I just don't see it this year.


BD

well i'm glad to see that i'm not the only one who lost sleep last night. i think the lakers have failed to realize one thing, and if we don't correct this problem, we will end up forfeiting the championship.

we can be a finesse and skilled team and win against 98% of the teams in the nba. but there are two teams that this strategy will not work against...boston and cleveland. boston and cleveland have brutes, and bashers for pf's and centers. and when we do play them, we have to match their bruteness as well as throw in our skill and speed. it has been proven that no center in the league can guard bynum, so why for the love of God did he only have 5 attempts last night? had they dumped the ball into him, we would have worn z's slow behind out, and gotten shaq and mop head in foul trouble. instead, we fell in love with out 50% shooting avg. at halftime and continued hoisting jumpers like a car with and dead battery. because we made no attempts to give the ball to bynum, shaq could play without foul concern at the end of the game, and that's when he's at his best. you can not expect to shoot 50% the entire game against the cavs, it's not gonna happen. what's the point of having bynum who can score at will on the block if you're only gonna pass the ball to him 5 times? i remember the series we played against the suns a few years ago when lamar wore them out on the low block...he can't be guarded down there either! why the hell is is out there on the wing shooting 3ptrs all night long?! we are the best team in the league because we have the best combination of speed, skill, brutenss, and defensive. phil HAS to know when to play the finesse game as opposed to the throw it in the paint and wear their arses out! last night was clearly not the night to fall in love with the jump shot.

NBA All Star voting: Bryant had 2.46 million votes but was passed in recent weeks by Cleveland forward LeBron James (2.55 million) to finish second in overall voting!

After Cavaliers' sweep of Lakers I look forward to the tone change in the playful cartoons on Bryant-LeBron. That will definitely impact the Kobe's attitude toward 12 for 31 shooting and self-indulgence on being right when teammates are something to blame for... for what? That you, Kobe, don't empower them with your play-making and quality passes. We know you are better than that and we saw it in your game before.

You, Kobe, should drop the childish "I am hungry and they know that now". Strive to be a teammate that will do anything to empower your guys. When you strive, you may succeed, but it is not granted... basketball is a team sport and I don't like watching you alone shooting the hoop during the game. Every self-respected player know that there are days when you are in a groove and when you are not. When you are at 50%, stop shooting at play for your teammates. Respect YOURSELF, respect our intelligence.

Wish the best!

Coach ArtuM

WE were going to run a play whereby Kobe (60%) or Fish (39.9%) or someone else (0.1%) was going to take that 3. EVERYONE knows (including those refs) that if Kobe or Fish takes that shot, it was going in.
FEARless

FEARless keep dreaming !!!! And where did you come up with those FG%'s.

And Laker whiners, stop with the Lebron jealousy, you sound like a bunch of biatches !! Kobe is better than Lebron !!! Lebron had a great game last night.

And I have no idea why you think Stern has it out for the Lakers, he gave the Lakers Paul Gasol for Christmas. Lakers would not have a Championship team without that PRESENT !!!

Hate LeBron James??? That seems like a really strong word, and hopefully an exaggeration. I'm a fan of basketball first, and the Cavaliers second. I enjoying seeing good basketball from anywhere in the world. I enjoying watching Kobe Bryant play (no other like him) and LeBron (no other like him either). I also enjoying watching my home team out play another team. But I don't hate Kobe, Gasol, Dwight Howard, etc.

Also, whoever posted about LeBron's mom being a 'crackhead', you are a very sad and misinformed individual. You do your fellow fans a disservice as well. You probably didn't attend the same high school as LeBron (I did), and you probably don't know the people that you slander on a personal level. That doesn't excuse your conduct. Find your head and your heart.

ArtuM,

In general I agree with you, maybe it was sounded too harsh, after all Kobe bailed team out on so many occasions even this season. But you're right, when Kobe shooting 12 of 31, it's time to play a decoy role and create for your teammates, who obviously not as talented as Kobe, but in order to get in the groove needs some touches as well. 12 of 31 won’t get job done.

BD

No one said this loss is completely on Bynum, I'm examining this season as whole. Just take a long hard look when Lakers playing facing team with the real center. Listen, they played dreadful NJ Nets with Lopez as a center, the one more talented than his twin from Suns, and Drew was outplayed hands down. I did not see how Fish was a guilty yesterday; he shot 2 of 4 for respectful 50%. When Phil put back UPS/Farmar combo they did not exactly light up court either, especially Shannon getting 1 of 6 and very often shooting too early in shot clock. They were not the same as we seen during Orlando game, in fact if you count how many times they played the way they played against Orlando, you probably will come up with no more than 5-8 bearing mind Lakers already played more than half season.

Would all those "Lakers Fan" who are freaking out because of this loss just shut the hell up! They lose 2 regular season games, that's right regular season games and the freakin sky is falling. Bottom line the real season doesn't start until the regular season ends, and the last time I checked the Lakers still had the best record in the league. God sometimes it's embarrassing being associated with some of these panicking "Laker Fans".

To beat the CAVS you have to be physical. They have the most length of any team the LAKERS play. AND they have energy into the 4th quarter. That is their style of play. Plus they have the best defense in the NBA. Do not blame the refs. Varajao was fouled by two LAKERS at the end. Jackson should shut up - Varajao's will to get the ball was rewarded. His energy caused the fouling by the LAKERS.
Let's hope that the LAKERS can win the West so they can meet the CAVS in the finals.

Real simple the Cavs are better than our Lakes. Regular season anyway...............

Ron Artest, I do not get it? What has he done? Go tweet to your dwindling LA fan club 'bra.

Otherwise, we good. Someone posted earlier Orlando swept us last year. Nuf said.

Ronny, step it up or I'll throw a bear on your lame arse.

What do we play for $$$ lot's of $$$. EARN IT!

Everyone talking about Bynum should also remember that he usually gets hurt pretty badly around this time of year. With him being so young, that might have something to do with it. But they need more out of him this year than they got last year.

We should also hope that when the games slow down in the playoffs, Our Test will be at his best.

King James is clearly a better player than Kobe. You can see that other players enjoy playing and play harder with Lebron. You don't see Lebron yelling and screaming at his own players. Kobe does that all the time, especially during crunch time. Did you guys see his facial expression to Gasol toward then end? I would hate to play with this guy. When it's crunch time, especially when the Lakers are down, he tends to be his old self and ball hog. It's so predictable for the other team that Kobe is not gonna pass the ball. They would just double or triple team him and watch Kobe jacks up an ugly shot.

Also, the "soft" stuff is old. Move on media. Get over it.

LeBron is at his peak in terms of basketball abilities, BTW. He's not getting any better than he is right now, and once the physical gifts that allow him to bull his way down the lane are gone, he will be a shadow of what he is now. Kobe is a far better player than LeBron when both players are healthy. Keep LeBron out of the lane and make him shoot jump shots, and you've neutralized his game. What was he last night 1 - 9 on threes? With a healthy shooting hand?

Posted by: The Hoops Freak (a.k.a. Pig Miller) | January 22, 2010 at 07:53 AM

HA HA HA HA HAAAAH...THAT COMMENT'S BIZARRE!!!
4 of his last 5 "daggers" were jumpshots. yeh...he's in a shooting slump from 3 for the past 2 games, but even with that, he still shot 13 for 25 (as opposed to 12 of 31 from kobe).
sounds like your little stradegy works better on kobe than it does lebron. make him shoot jumpers. lol

p.s.
for his entire career (and counting) lebron has a higher field goal percentage. jumpers or not!!!!

MM, Great post!! I think you're really wonderful!! A teeny comment if I may. LO is a PF too. Just saying! OK, much love!!

Kobe is fantastic, ok. But I guess I will never understand some of the shots he takes. He's been in the league how long?

Shack is playing very well and makes everyone else in the business look small. Good for Shack. His entry into the game knocked the Lakers off their tempo, and knocked Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum out of the low post and the game plan which had worked until that moment visibly changed and went away. Cleveland shuffled their big guys in and out and together it worked very well. The Lakers never recovered, they chased the game the rest of the night. It was an even game the rest of the way and Cleveland deserved to enjoy their victory. LeBron James, in an after the game interview, said it best, and said it with a smile, his defence took Ron Artest out of the game. In the battle of offense and defence, that made the difference. I am beginning to think that Ron Artest is a bad fit for the Lakers. It may be just me, but I cannot see any pattern in his game. He does things, but both his inside and outside game looks weak and never overpowers anyone. There is no consistancy to his game that I can see. Everybody talks about how strong Ron Artest is, and he may be that, but I think that he scores too few points for the number of minutes he plays. I hope he changes that. The Lakers have given him a starting role and he needs to fill it. Placed in perspective the Lakers are still the best in the west and one of the premier NBA teams. Now is not time to worry, but even with their win record being the best in the west, something looks wrong. It is not Kobe Bryant or Derek Fisher.

Lakers D last night stunk in the 4th qtr... Letting Lebron isolate on Artest over and over?? Come on, put more pressure on him and make someone else on the Cavs hit a shot...

Lakers free throws killed them too... missed way too many

with all the firepower the lakers have, explain to me why kobe has to take 30 shots every game?..the only way the lakers can achieve their full potential is to get everyone involved...taking too many shots leaves the rest of his teamates cold...this is the difference between kobe and lebron...lebron may not have as much talent surrounding him, but he trusts them and gives them an opportunity to prove their worth.../

We need a player like Perk from Boston..he plays mean, nasty and always hard, always......

Kobe should take time off, heal completely and then get back to playing basketball. He can be the captain from the sideline just as good. Him playing with reduced ability is not helping him or more importantly the team. Learn from what Billups and Melo. When Kobe is taking 31 shots the rest of the team is just watching. We love you but please give it a rest Kobe!

Wow, all that bagging on the Lakers and how poorly they played against Cleveland and how
they were pushed around, lacked physical presence, Kobe being neutralized, etc, etc.
And yet, the game on Cleveland's homecourt came down to the final seconds before it was decided.

Good thing Gasol missed those free throws. Must have been that "physical presence" the Cavs have
that made him miss. Good thing they "neutralized" Kobe as well. And here I thought it might be his broken shooting finger
that might be neutralizing him a bit. Wonder how Lebron's outside shooting would be like with a broken finger?

Gee, hope for the Cavs sake the Lakers don't get it turned around!
Seems I heard this same BS after the Magic swept the Lakers last regular season. How'd that turn out for the Magic?

This may sound crazy, but I am not worried or upset by the lost last night to Cleveland. Someone on here made a great statement that some no name that has not played worth 2 cents so far gets up when they meet the Lakers, and then the next game they fall right back into the same old player they were before esp when playing a team that has a losing record. Look at the Spurs after beating the Lakers they lost how many before starting to win again. Mark my words the CAV's will feel the pain, ands Shaq will not be any help down the road. But I do wish Bynum would step it up esp. against a player like Shaq that has no moves deown low except to bang and can't shoot a free throw to save his life. Make him step out and shoot a jumper because he can't shoot. Also Pau you don't have to hit the weight room to get stronger, you have a great outside shot, so when you are low in the paint on the boards JUST POWER THE BALL BACK UP USING YOUR HEIGHT AND THROW AN ELBOW INTO SOMEONE"S FACE, KNOCK THERE TEETH OUT ETC. Bet you will get your message across. Lastly don't bet too much on the CAV's getting to the finals, because LB can't do all in the playoffs and except for Mo Williams he doesn't have much help.

"Also, the "soft" stuff is old. Move on media. Get over it."

Ya stinks to read your team is a bunch of softies all the time, totally understand. Truth hurts.

"LeBron is at his peak in terms of basketball abilities, BTW. He's not getting any better than he is right now, and once the physical gifts that allow him to bull his way down the lane are gone, he will be a shadow of what he is now. Kobe is a far better player than LeBron when both players are healthy. Keep LeBron out of the lane and make him shoot jump shots, and you've neutralized his game. What was he last night 1 - 9 on threes? With a healthy shooting hand?"

And yet you've lost twice to them this year, and Kobe's stats show. This isn't an article about longevity, it's an article about the Cavs taking it to the Lakers, yet one more time. I can see that you are fighting real hard to make yourself feel better, that's good ! However your intentions are as transparent as the Lakers D fence last night. Suck it up pal.

DFish,

"WE were going to run a play whereby Kobe (60%) or Fish (39.9%) or someone else (0.1%) was going to take that 3. EVERYONE knows (including those refs) that if Kobe or Fish takes that shot, it was going in.
FEARless

FEARless keep dreaming !!!! And where did you come up with those FG%'s.

And Laker whiners, stop with the Lebron jealousy, you sound like a bunch of biatches !! Kobe is better than Lebron !!! Lebron had a great game last night.

And I have no idea why you think Stern has it out for the Lakers, he gave the Lakers Paul Gasol for Christmas. Lakers would not have a Championship team without that PRESENT !!!

Posted by: DFish | January 22, 2010 at 11:13 AM"

Those weren't FG%, but percentages on the times those plays are run. As in, 60% of the time, Kobe takes that shot. and about 40% of the time it will be Fish. Only in a total break-down does anyone else in the building take that show (0.1%).

Sorry I wasn't more clear. They are still estimates, but I think they are pretty accurate.

--FEARless

If you want a trade, how about Pau for Bosh. I keep Andrew for sure. Andrew is blamed for every loss. No one will talk about Kobe's 30% shooting in all the losses including Christmas against Cleveland.

Keep Andrew and get him the ball more often. How about that. Also, Phil, how about letting him play a little more. He didn't even play in the final quarter and you see how that worked out.

First of all, please do NOT question the number of shots Kobe and LeBronze shot. They both put up a similar number of actual jump shots. LeBronze actually hoisted up 30 shots last night. Kobe, 33. That's a statistical wash. You can't say LeBronze dominated the ball any less. In fact, LeBronze ran WAY more isolation plays last night than Kobe. And, LeBronze shot 6 times last night where he had the ball all by himself for almost the entire shot clock and no one else ever touched the ball. Six times. We jump on Kobe if he does it once.

He just made those shots. He doesn't normally.

BTW, you guys forget that if you are fouled while taking a shot it doesn't count as an attempt unless you make it? LeBronze in NO WAY only shot 25 times last night. LeBronze had 5 of his attempts erased that way.

Last night, LeBronze didn't pass the ball any more or less than Kobe, nor did he shoot any more or less than Kobe. He was more efficient. And, he was lucky, because with all of those things working in his favor, Kobe and PJ's master plan still almost snatched that game from him.

Does anyone still not quite get the significance of that? Kobe and PJ almost won the NBA finals right here in January (if Cleveland makes it out of the East, that is).

If LeBronze is smart, he still has to think, "what if the ref doesn't make that call at that time? Did my monster night really hinge on Kobe/Fish missing a potential game tying/winning shot?" Deep down, how does anyone not see that all of LeBronze's greatness only accounted for barely win?

This is what LeBronze should be thinking about (if he's smart and doesn't drink his own Cool-Aid):

1) LeBronze was on FIRE!
2) Lakers' bigs were thoroughly outplayed.
3) Pau Gasol became Pau Gasoft.
4) Bynum became 22 again.
5) Artest was lost. I mean LOST!
6) Odom was Odom.
7) Cleveland fans were INSANE!
9) The Lakers still almost beat us if not for one whistle.

People, the sky is definitely not falling here. How many years has PJ been our coach? How come we fail to realize that he risked this game for the possible playoff payoff. And, obviously, Kobe is completely on board with that.

They are cold-hearted cats.

--FEARless

I love LA media. The Lakers are done, they are soft, the sky is falling. lol

The Lakers barely lost last night to a good team on the road. It's going to happen sometimes. Gasol makes 2 free throws, and it's a completely different game. Anderson Varejao gets a foul on the free throw attempt, instead of Artest, and the Lakers have a shot. Or even Gasol gets the call on Varejao where he bumped and hacked him under the basket w/ 40 seconds left. Any of these things and it could have been a Laker win.

The Lakers didn't get any breaks down the stretch, and they didn't hit their outside shots.

Are the Lakers under achieving to this point? Yes. And there are plenty of things to point to, and people to blame, but it's not the end of the world.

Well, it isn't the end of the world but it does reveal some bitter facts. The NBA is all about match-up regardless of records and the bitter fact is that LAL does not match up well against the Cavs or for that matter the Celts either. The Lakers can beat the pants off any other team in the league but will have serious problems against the Cavs or Celts because these two teams have front-line that can absolutely destroy the Lakers' front-line. There is just a HUGE gap in physical toughness between the Lakers and these opponents. Having Artest helps a little but still, Bynum+Gasol+Odom still equal SOFT. It is rather disappointing to see that despite all his talent and skill Lamar could have been a much greater achiever if only he has some more toughness and meaness in his game.

Let us cross our fingers and hope that the rest of the East will do them a favor and help the Lakers avoid facing the Cavs or Celts in the Final. Like I said it's all about match-up and the rest of the East can probably neutralize these two team's size and physicality by running uptempo game to tire out the big guys. Too bad that's one thing that's just not in the Lakers' arsenal to use against such opponents: an uptempo running game!

PS: Actually the Lakers do possess the capacity to run BUT to do so would mean benching Fish and putting Brown/Farmar on the floor and that's just not going to happen with Phil.

It doesn't matter who you are cheering for. View the last quarter of the game. Here are the FACTS:
1. The game is important for both teams since they are expected to reach the Finals;
2. When Kobe starts a game waxing hot, it is COMMON SENSE that he continue playing and shooting. Afterall, it isn't everyday that a Player gets to start really HOT. It is therefore, fair to let him play more time than how he is usually being played by the coach. But Phil, believing that he is a true genius, would deprive kobe each time by resting him too long that it will require Kobe another 3 minutes to get hot again and re-calibrate his shooting touch;
3. Kobe is the STAR player of the Lakers. It is odd that he was on the bench most of the 4th quarter of a very important game;
4. Kobe had 27 pts and LJ 25 when Kobe took that 7-minute vacation. At the end of the game, Kobe had 31 and LJ 37. That 6-pt difference was the Cavs' winning margin;
5. The referees or Kobe Bryant or even Gasol had nothing to do with that monumentally stupid loss to the Cavs;
6. By benching Kobe in the 1st 7 minutes of the 4th quarter of a seemingly perfect close game, Phil Jackson threw away the game. He didn't want to win it with a Star Player. He wanted to win the game as a Brilliant Coach. Unfortunately, he wasn't brilliant in that game;
7. A team will always need a Star Player ESPECIALLY in the entire last quarter of a close game. That's exactly the point why they get Star Players. & Star Players are born, trained, built and designed to play in every second of ANY close game. I can't imagine NOT playing the Star Player in a close game.
The story of the game was told in the 1st 7 minutes of the 4th quarter of that Lakers-Cavs game. Those are the facts...


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