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Caught in the Web: Previewing Game 2 of Lakers-Thunder series

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Lakers links

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan details the Lakers' varied moods after Monday's practice.

--The Times' Mark Heisler expresses concern about Kobe Bryant's assorted injuries.

--The Times' Broderick Turner details the adjustments Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons wants to see the team make in Game 2 against Oklahoma City.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore highlights how Oklahoma City guard and former UCLA standout Russell Westbrook gave the Lakers fits in Game 1.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr highlights the media circus surrounding the Lakers. She also lays out some possibilities on why Bryant has been struggling lately.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky highlights how Shannon Brown's patience in Game 1 paid off in a few sequences.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's David Lassen details the Lakers' struggle in playing a complete game.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Doug Mann does some number crunching from Game 1.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi reports that Lakers froward Ron Artest considers defense to be his drug. It's unlikely in this case the Lakers will stage an intervention and force him into rehab.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin details Bryant's grumpy mood after Monday's practice. To McMenamin's credit, he was the lone reporter to get Bryant to smile after asking him about D.J. Mbenga's glasses.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford has medical updates on Lakers centers Andrew Bynum and D.J. Mbenga.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell catches up Lakers reserve guard Jordan Farmar.

--The Orange County Register's Randy Youngman explains why the first round of the NBA playoffs puts him to sleep.

--Silver Screen and Roll anticipates the necessary Game 2 adjustments.

Thunder links

--The Daily Thunder has a detailed video breakdown on how Artest limited Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant in Game 1.

--Though Durant shot only seven-of-24 in Game 1, his teammates express confidence to The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry that Durant will have a much better outing in Game 2. Mayberry also explains what makes Thunder forward Jeff Green such a versatile defender.

--The Oklahoman's Barry Tramel argues Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook, given his Game 1 success against the Lakers, should try to take over the series.

--Lakers.com has details on Chick Hearn's statue unveiling.

National links

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper explains why Durant loves Oklahoma City so much, even if he's not offered a long-term contract.

--NBA Fanhouse's Sam Amick details the difficulties Bryant must overcome with his various injuries.

--ESPN.com's John Hollinger gives his take on what adjustments the Lakers and Thunder need to make in Game 2.

Don't have an insider subscription? No worries. Sports Illustrated's Britt Robson breaks down the adjustments he anticipates in Game 2.

--Sports Illustrated has a nice collection of Bryant pictures from his storied career. My, how much he has grown.

--Fox Sports' Randy Hill wonders whether Durant will bounce back from his poor performance.

Tweet of the Day: "if Kobe isn't looking to dominate - which he shouldn't since the bigs should win this series - he makes Sefolosha a non-factor" -- EricPincus (Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus).

Reader Comment of the Day: "Silence runs deep on the part of Kobe. A man who is injured cannot continue to be a miracle worker. He's there in the court with the guys, I think that is enough courage to be applauded by others. Don't expect too much from Kobe. Help Kobe and Kobe's presence on the court will help everyone get their scores. Without Kobe there, other players will have a hard time get their scores especially Bynum and Gasol because they will surely be doubled and fouled hard until they get hurt. It is the Odom, the Farmar, the Artest, the Brown who should contribute more. Kobe will get his score but he cannot be continue to be the workhorse at this time." -- Edwin Gueco.

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Kobe Bryant goes for a reverse layup after gliding past Thunder center Nick Collison on Sunday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (28)

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You picked up an excellent Comment of the Day, MM.

Can't wait for the game tonight (still in Paris).
Now though it's Inter-Barcellona.
And although I am a Milan supporter, and although Pau loves Barça (which is by far best team in the WORLD right now), I am Italian and I will support Inter nonetheless ;)

Catch you all in chat.

Be faithful, Laker Fam.
Be confident, my Lakers.

Let's take this too.

;)

Artest is going to have to be even more agressive with Durant this game because the Thunder will be looking to set multiple screens to get Durant going early and often. We to continue pounding the ball on the inside where we have a huge advantage.

Mamba

Im feelin the bynum bandwagon but I didn't say im sold on him just yet.. jurys still very much out so let's put a hold on the cartwheels and champagne for now.. It was one game against a soft euro center so lakertom is far from exonerated.

But I'm feelin the positive energy vibes and let's keep it spreadin like a wildfire all the way to staples.

Lakers in 4! Wooohoooo!


Mamba24, I'm always up for a Drew bandwagon. Lakers need him this year.

Rick F.- Anyone > J. Meyers, IMHO.

Spero is good though, I wish they would trade places.

Scary game tonight, but then again, all of 'em will be scary from this point.

It's all about the hand. Great to have Andrew makin' his presence known on both ends of the floor, but without Kobe being the Kobe teammates and fans have come to depend on... y'all know the rest of that sentence.

We can play better offensively, and tonight we'll undoubtedly have to. A nice double digit, convincing W would be a nice runway to take this playoff season off.

@YELLOW FEVER, Sorry bro., my bad. I'll take you off right now. But after tonight I guarantee you will want to get on board. Lol!
Mamba24

Im not yet on the Drew bandwagon but if he can continue this play throught the playoffs then i might hop on. He just needs to stay injury free.

Greetings from the LBK!

I've missed posting on the blog for a few days, but I think I'll be able to make the live chat tonight.

I love the fact that the regulars are posting on the blog again. It's good to see The Outlaw and Faith again. I wonder where East Coast Jessie went?

Anyway, I'll most likely see you all on the live chat tonight. I presume that the game starts at 7:30 PDT? If so, I'll be out of my night class for sure.

Hope everyone is having a good day!

*
BYNUM BELIEVERS/ THE BEAST IS BACK AND HOW – BANDWAGON
*
(01) LAKERTOM – OWNER - My Andrew Bynum glass is truly overflowing. I feel like a proud father watching his young son come of age. Thanks for the Bynum Believers Bandwagon. Reading it is like watching the Making of a Beast. Each line brings a new smile. Each blogger brings a new hope for greatness. I cannot wait for tonight to come. Drew is going to have an even better game tonight as the Lakers crush the Thunder this time. I specifically remember Drew saying that he had been watching the games and was focusing on providing what the team was missing, protecting the rim on defense and attacking it on offense. The big question, of course, is how does Drew follow up the great first game. I think tonight the Thunder will try to attack the rim aggressively to get Drew into foul trouble. Since their big men are not likely to draw fouls on Drew, look for Durant and Westbrook to try and attack him by driving the lane and jumping into his body.
(02) STAPELES24 – DRIVER - Andrew Bynum He was out for the last 13 games of the regular season, he comes back in time for the 1st game of the playoffs, his presence and toughness alone in the paint made a difference. Then he decides to dominate in the offense with his dunks, intimidating and blocking shots in defense. What happens when he gets his strength and rhtyhm back? To make things even brighter, he is exactly what Pau needs, when he is around Gasol's weaknesses are covered. Gasol relies on Drew's power and strength in the paint, it prevents Gasol from loosing his touch of the game. The trio of Bynum, Gasol and Odom is the Lakers strength.
(03) CORNERJ – RIDING SHOTGUN - “Laker Tom, the drinks are on me. Bynum earned his stripes today. In fact, he completely changed the entire dynamic of the game with his athletic, aggressive, early play. He was indeed a beast today. If he can keep this up, the Lakers' chance for another title go way up.” Thanks for the early props, CJ. Another swish from the corner for you. Make that Grey Goose straight up on the rocks with a medical marijuana chaser.
(04) #4
(05) FAITH – DEFENSE COACH - Very well played game by Andrew Bynum. Laker Tom will be pleased ;-).”
(06) EDWIN GUECO – JUDGE - LakerTom must be exceedingly happy with what Bynum exhibited today, he made a beastful presence today.
(07) TOM D. REFEREE - “LakerTom, Been waiting for your post-win post, but haven't seen it yet. I was very encouraged by Drew's play yesterday. I have always been a Bynum optimist. I see the size, the agility, the hands, the touch. All the tools to be a great big man. I've been waiting for him to pull it together, to have the light bulb go on, and I think the two big knee injuries slowed down that process.”
(08) CYBER COSMIX - Bynum showed EXACTLY why the Lakers had been listless the past few weeks while he was gone. They REALLY missed his inside presence, Pau in the paint doesn't make up for his inside game. He is a beast, pure and simple. The Lakers have a lot of talent that surrounds him, but if he had 15-20 more touches per game then he would be in the MVP conversation, no doubt about it! He also allows for L.O. go back to the 6th-man role he's so well filled these past two seasons. Yes, LakerTom truly does deserve a big tip of the hat for defending his man through thick and thin, much props for that! Mark my words, we will ALL see in the coming decade the beast that AB will become, I think that he will more than earn his spot alongside the pantheon of great Laker big men! Like I will continue saying, Bynum will be the best big man by 2012, he will then be 25 and a 7-year veteran, he will be a MONSTER in the paint! In this game though it was like the cavalry came to the rescue right in the nick of time, great to see AB back with a vengeance!
(09) WESJOENIXON - with Bynum back and averaging 4 blocks per game (Andrew, you big lug, you better keep this BPG average if you want another ring fitting) we may just have a shot at another title.
(10) JAMIE SWEET - I hope Bynum tracks upward this year and this is a foundation for even greater success, I think Andrew knows that Pau and Kobe don't have the same strength of will that they had in last year’s playoffs. He knows Lamar is hurt, Fish is a year older and Artest will still be figuring it out for the rest of the year as far as the advanced options of the triangle are concerned.”
(11) PSYCORP - Kudos to Bynum who did pretty well for a first game back. Let's hope he stays in control for game #2 as well and not try to do too much (on Offense that is) just because he's no longer cautious as in game #1. Anybody noticed that since the Lakers started to go away from their big men, Bynum and Gasol after the first quarter was when OKC started their come back?
(12) MARK G. - Mamba24, I'm always up for a Drew bandwagon. Lakers need him this year.
(13) MAMBA24 – Always have been, Always will be a Bynum supporter. Great game young man.
(14) KB BLITZ –
(15) JUSTANOTHERMAMBAFAN - And - by the way - I never should have been left off the Bynum bandwagon. I've been a supporter of this kid for as long as Laker Tom has! HE WILL PROVE HIMSELF WORTHY - just watch!!)
(16) KOBESBAD- put me on the new Bynum Bandwagon. I've been saying for the last 2 years that he is the future of the franchise (regardless of whether that is a good thing[which I've stated repeatedly it is]). GAMEDAY
(17) ZairaAmaterasu Ron Ron always makes me smile. I like his nerdiness and his openess about things he says that might make him sound (and look ;)) "strange".
I find all that very genuine, and I truly appreciate it. All that said: RON!!!! Keepsowing Durant what you did last game. Guy is skilled, but we are the Lakers, right? On the Bynum bandwagon...well, I am part of every bandwagon showing love to our guys. Andrew's efficaciousness can be a relevant key, more than relevant, for us.

Congrats Mang Edwin, very well deserved.

We need to pound the ball inside as much as possible and let them decide whether to go to the hoop or pass back out. Hopefully they will produce and take pressure out of Kobe's mind. I really think the finger his bothering his shooting, other than that I thought he played with great energy.

Congrats Mr. Edwin Gueco!

Kobe is a warrior but even a warrior has to have backup. I remember years back we were talking about how Kobe is taking on too much and with the added offensive depth and flawless execution we could afford for him to focus solely on defense if need be and just be the facilitator. While you never want to lose a dominant weapon like Kobe's offensive prowess it behooves us to use him more as a decoy and occasional dagger-mo changer than have to rely on him solely for scoring. We go through these spells where really we're begging him to rescue us and he shouldn't have to do that right now. Especially not this early on. So it would behoove us to run the triangle and take advantage of all the opportunities we're bound to get with Kobe getting doubles and triples.

On Kobe's part though I'd like to see him drive more. I know it's technically counter-effective to his injuries (his hand will surely get banged up more), but it also solves the dilemma of 1.) being doubled off the key that's requiring him to have to work harder to get to the basket. 2) driving and dishing works everytime with Bynum and Pau in great positions.

Thanks MM and Zaira, tho' I really don't deserve that accolade, it is just an honest observation what the Lakers need to move to the next level. As the game progresses, Kobe learns how to play with his injury, the bandage becomes part of the finger, he learns how to play with pains onhis knees and joints, it is all about the spirit of winning that drives injuries away.

We'll get the Thunder tonight by hook or by crook from Artest. lol! I just hope no more injuries to our Lakers.

I think what Yoko Ono said is appropriate for the Lakers: " Healing yourself is connected with healing others. "

Go Lakers! Rootin my A$$ of from Dana Point to KC

Edwin,
You have been ON all day! Nice to see it recognized.

JR

Thanx mud

for the intel on the LA Times malware. I was beginning to think my antivirus was acting up. Btw, it continued to alert me today - twice! Can't you remove this annoyance, Mark? Isn't T.J. Simers virus enough on this site? >8-D

Now I must continue to block out images of bad playing. Let's D up! GO LAKERS!

Mamba24: Thank you sir for the 'out-freaking standing' - always brings a smile to my face =).

A lot of people look to Artest's scoring as a barometer of how he plays. Artest has totally changed his offensive game to fit the Lakers this year, if anything he has gone too far away from his game to be a good teammate. Of course, this isn't the Yao & T-Mac-less Rockets from last season in which he did what he had to do to get his team wins (and he was not only the best offensive player the Lakers faced in last years playoffs but led the undermanned Rockets to a 7th game and helped make the Rockets the toughest team the Lakers faced).

Artest has toned-down his offensive game, but has ramped-up his defense - especially the last couple of months. That is EXACTLY what the Lakers need! His defense right now is rock-solid. Had he been more demanding of touches I'm sure he would have gotten a few more points a game, but props for him for adopting a 'team-first' mentality even if it meant he may not have got enough looks to keep his jumper sharp. His true value is in his defense, and he is showing he's still got the quick hands and physical smartness he's always had.

So, again, THIS IS WHY THE LAKERS GOT RON ARTEST!!!

CYBERCOSMIX… “There is NO DOUBT that some of the poor shooting that has plagued the Lakers during his absence can be attributed to the lack of an active low-post player, now that Bynum is back the rest of the team will benefit not only from the easy baskets he scores, but in the better looks he creates for everyone else.”
~
Excellent point, Mike. I agree 100%. I commented several times while Drew was out that the reason we were having trouble playing inside-out basketball was that it’s hard to do it without an inside game. I would like to see us continue to pound the ball inside after the first quarter. Why go away from the formula that is working. We should be finishing the game the same way we started it – by feeding the Beast and Pau in the post.
~
I have to believe if Scott Brooks is any good as a coach that we will see some adjustments to minimize the impact of Bynum in the post. The Thunder’s best strategy would probably to have Durant and Westbrook attack the rim in hopes of drawing contact and fouls on Bynum and put him in foul difficulty. Drew will both have to be careful not to succumb to that strategy. Unlike Pau, Drew wants to challenge every shot without worrying about having to sit because of foul problems. He’ll need to show more discretion and pick his spots.
-
“Sundays game was the reason the Lakers got Ron Artest. When he shuts down the best scorer in the league like that all opposing coaches must cringe because he makes the Lakers that much tougher. Artest didn't just shut Durant down, he stole his lunch and ate it too. So I repeat, THIS IS WHY THE LAKERS GOT RON ARTEST!”
~
Right on again, Mike. Durant, Pierce, Melo, LeBron – those bigger, more physical small forwards who Ariza was not physical enough to defend. Replacing Ariza with Artest was a trade of speed for power, offense for defense. Between Artest for Ariza and Bynum for Odom, the Lakers starting lineup these playoffs has over 100 pounds of extra muscle to provide the stopping power you need to dominate in the playoffs. This team will be a much better defensive team by the time we hoist the trophy again in June. Maybe one of our best ever.
~
It will be interesting to see what changes Brooks has in order to get Durant going. Attacking the rim will be a big part of the change in strategy in my opinion. Trying to shoot jumpers over Artest is playing right into his hands. Durant needs to be on the move so Ron can’t clamp down on him. Another strategy that I did not see much of at all was Westbrook running pick and rolls or pick and pops with Durant. I look for the Thunder to run Durant off of picks a lot more tonight just to get Artest off his back. The different moves and adjustments that teams can make when playing a series is one of the beauties of the NBA playoffs.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
2PHATT… “I'm one who truly believed that Bynum might not reach his potential due to being injury prone. LakerTom was one of the first to say that this young man may be the second coming, I didn't see it. Always flashes but not enough substance WELL WELL, WELL, if we get a follow-up game like the first. Turn out the lights... the party is over, the BEAST has truly arrived.”
~
Well said, 2Phatt. You better get ready because I think Drew is going to have an even better game tonight. He will be the X-factor these entire playoffs. The Lakers Big Three of Kobe, Drew, and Pau will rule. As for being injury prone, I think we still need to see Drew finish these playoffs and go through an entire year injury free. Most importantly, though, it does appear that Drew has finally regained confidence in his body and is not holding anything back as he goes after shots and rebounds. THAT is the best news we could have right now.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
RIZZO… “Let me be the first one to say that although Bynum is young the only area he gives up ANYTHING to young shaq is the area of sheer POWER, Any other part of Shaqs game anyone would like to add thats better than Bynum? Now if he would only stay healthy.”
~
Wait a minute, which Rizzo is this. LOL. Good to see you posting again. I love Drew and hope someday he will be able to back people down the way that Shaq does but without ending up as a giant muffin. I watched Shaq abuse Noah yesterday, just backing him into the lane for a little jump hook. Shaq may be an over-the-hill fool but he can still ball. But I agree with your analysis. Drew’s skills are sick compared to Shaq’s, including his free throw shooting.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

BLOG CRUE
The silver lining in all this Kobe hurt talk is that I HOPE he'll take the summer off and rest. Come November, hopefully he'll be rested. I'm glad Utah beat Denver last night.

Colorado loves our World Champion Lakers!

sorry and there is no disrespect intended, but i couldn't keep up with every comment since sunday's game. I did notice that the ration of intelligence and good writing as opposed to trolling went way up, but y'all probably knew that already.

RE westbrook and our defense on him- Fisher looked a bit slow on Sunday, but at least he knows his limitations. He was usually in the right place even if he couldn't stay in front of Westbrook. I say it like a broken record, but there isn't a pg in the league good enough to guard the fastest pgs one on one. Aaron Brooks can't guard aaron brooks, westbrook can't guard westbrook. The best strategy is to funnel them the direction you want them to go and have your post players rotate.

But here's my point- it's not that we played bad defense and got lucky that durant had an off night and the OKC front court (whoever they are) didn't show up. WE TOOK AWAY DURANT. WE SHUT HIM DOWN. The NBA's leading scorer was reduced to trying to draw fouls (which the officiating was happy to give him, but that's the way it goes). We didn't guard durant cause it was easy and fail to guard westbrook cause he was that good, we wanted westbrook to be the offense.

We know we can't shut everybody down, so what did we do? Like a good martial artest sorry, artist, we used their momentum against them. If they want to run westbrook around Fish's off side and into the paint for a lay up attempt on every single possession, more power to them.

Sure Kobe and Fish looked a bit out of it on defense, and we committed too many silly fouls, but when we ran a set defense, it worked. Gasol and Bynum won the inside, they didn't have foul trouble, and they dominated the boards.

Except, of course, on the fast break. OKC scored too many easy points on the fastbreak. But with apologies to Faith, fast teams don't get fastbreak points because you play bad defense, fast teams get fastbreak points when you play bad offense. A lot of OKC points came when on what i like to call our stealth turnovers, taking low percentage outside shots.

And yeah, some of that was justified. They crammed everybody into the paint and gave us the three, and we obligingly returned the favor by missing it, some of the time. But here's the clincher- We won the game.

So, re iterate, when we take away Durant, let the point guard drive on set defense, play inside out basketball and then pass out to the open shooter if they don't make a coverage mistake on our bigs, and take the highest percentage shot IN THAT PARTICULAR COVERAGE. It goes our way more often than not, and we will win.

So, that takes care of OKC. No biggie. Of course, that will work as long as we don't play a team that has more than one guard who can either drive or shoot, has a SF that can pass, and has enough post size to get more rebounds or put our bigs in foul trouble.

Well, dang.

Oh well, we still have all the stuff that Kobe and Lamar can do that they haven't showed us yet. Sefoloofa is probably the best defender Kobe will face in the west, and Odom didn't really have to work very hard for most of Sunday's game, so he should be well rested for the next series.

At least that's my take. I expect there will be some adjustments tonight, but i'm cool with that, because veteran teams with good coaching and playoff experience usually adjust better than really really young teams with no experience to speak off.

I hope.

Kobe's demeanor is understandable given his injuries and the way Lebron James is playing head & shoulders above the rest. Rather than try to force the game with his injuries Kobe should relax and use his savy to boost Bynum & Gasol's performances which can more than make up for his own injuries, besides being the best strategy! Brown could be the best defensive stopper the Lakers have for Westbrook matching his size & jumping ability better! LO, JF, SB, DF & Artest should all attack the basket more and urge Kobe to prevent further injury by taking open 15ft jump shots instead of figting his way through 3 defenders. The missed 3 pointers provide OKC with more run out opportunities. The team defense rotation should make Durant & Westbrook the focus. The others do not demand any double teaming other than deny passing lanes to Durant & Westbrook. Force the others to take the jump shots and the Lakers will get a 2-0 start!!!

EDWIN… Congrats on another comment of the day award. Soon you’ll have one for every finger just like Phil.
Good to see one of the originals still showing he has game. Well done, my friend.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

MM:

I like this web summary, so I don't spend the entire day looking at every one of the Laker related links I go through twice a day, much to my wife's chagrin!

Let's hope for some tweaks Kobe is working on to start to produce tonight! Gotta go to OKC 2-0.

Nuggets Country - Thanks man for the feedback. I'm glad to hear that it makes it easier to get your fix on Lakers news.

MM

Jeanette!
Putang Ina Mo my Filipna sister!

Go Lakers!

Posted by: O'Shea Jackson | April 20, 2010 at 01:08 PM

So, are you "Mother Theresa?" You are not my sister!

What i make from most of what i hear on here is people expecting any team including the Lakers to be solid at every position. Keep dreaming folks. Root for what we have now. Not what we will get in the future. I think some of you just watch the game to look for fault because even as good as the Cavs are playing they are not solid at every position. The Lakers will put forth every effort they can to win another Ship and when next year comes around you can complain about that team and everytime i hear the Ariza versus Artest argument it makes me sick. This is the team we have now so this is the team i am going to root for. The complainers will continue to find fault because that is their nature.

@O'Shea Jackson,

I don't remember commenting back on any of your posts. I was very very upset. I just lost my mother a year ago and you do not have the right to disrespect her. I have been said of what you said in my entire life. No one in my family said those words ever. I felt sadder because you claim to be a fellow Filipino. You are a disgrace.

Bless your heart!

Mamba24 Please add me to the Bynum Bandwagon in any position available. As a long time Bynum fan( Since his draft) I loved his soft hands. I do wish that they would teach Farmer and Brown how to feed the post. You can't feed it from the top of the circle when a defender is playing in front or beside your center. You must get the ball into the corners to defeat that defense. Dribbling at the top of the key by the Joy Boys don't get it. As I've said before on this blog, "The best way to stop Andrew is to insert Farmar and Brown into the line up"

Jack


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