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Caught in the Web: Previewing Game 3 of Lakers-Suns series

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Lakers links

-The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner explain in great detail the value Lamar Odom brings to the team.

--The Times' Lisa Dillman highlights Andrew Bynum's admission that he's looking forward to a Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals matchup.

--Count The Times' Bill Plaschke down as a fan of Staples Center's Kiss Cam. Aren't we all.

--The Times' T.J. Simers tells a touching story of how Bill Walton has overcome his numerous health problems. He also becomes emotional when speaking about his son, Luke.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr describes power forward Pau Gasol as a "perfect fit" for the Lakers.

--NBA.com's Art Garcia compares and contrasts Gasol's stints with Memphis and the Lakers.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky lists five things to watch for Game 3.

--The Riverside Press Enterprise's David Lassen highlights Bynum's contributions through injuries and all. He also details the Lakers' contention that they won't let down in Game 3.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin praises Bynum's willingness to delay surgery so he can help the team make a championship run.

--The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller takes ESPN's Bill Simmons to task for wrongfully tweeting that Odom was at a NYC nightclub Saturday at 3:44 a.m.

--NBA.com's Sekou Smith says focus will be the Lakers' biggest factor in Game 3.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford focuses on how the Lakers hope they can sustain the momentum they created in the first two games against Phoenix.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius and Silver Screen and Roll's Saurav A. Das break down Game 3.

Suns links

--The Times' Turner details how Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire pledges to turn around his play.

--The Arizona Republic's Paul Coro details Phoenix's plan to simplify its defense in Game 3. Coro also explains how the Suns plan to get their "mojo" back.

--The Arizona Republic's Doug Haller reports Phoenix guard Jason Richardson is fine with playing a secondary role.

--The Arizona Republic's Haller and Coro report that Stoudemire hasn't made a decision on his future next season, refuting an ESPN.com report that suggested otherwise.

--Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears doubts Stoudemire's chances to play with Phoenix next season.

--Fox Sports lists five reasons the Suns are out of this series.

--Bright Side of the Sun's Panama Sun breaks down Game 3.

Tweet of the Day: "If you're having a hard time sleeping, ESPN is re-airing the Celtics-Magic game now. That should do the trick." -- Arash Markazi (ESPN Los Angeles NBA reporter Arash Markazi)

Reader Comment of the Day: "1. The Lakers recognize that Boston will sweep the Magic in 4 games, and come out determined to do the same to the Suns. Result: Lakers win. 2. The Lakers come out totally distracted thinking about Boston, but because of the matchup advantage, the Suns have no chance anyway. Result: Lakers win. 3. The Lakers come out so distracted thinking about Boston, they lose sight of their immediate opponent, and fail to play with enough energy and focus. Result: Suns win. 4. The Suns see Orlando's humiliation and play out of their minds and out of their league, prospering from home -court advantage. Result: Suns win. The odds point to scenarios #1 and #2. This is a Lakers team much more mature and much more talented as a whole than anything we've seen in years. Scenario #3 would be an unexpected disappointment. But don't count out Scenario #4. Steve Nash is a far better leader than Dwight Howard; Alvin Gentry has proven he can get more out of what he has to work with than Stan Van Gundy gets out of the Magic. Still, I rate Scenario #4 as a longshot. This year's playoffs have been all about matchups." -- Rick Friedman

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Suns power forward Amare Stoudemire has had his hands full with Lakers power forward Pau Gasol in the Western Conference finals. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

 
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SMILES, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE
The Real Playoff,. Episode 5, Season 1
The Moderator

.....

A special thanks to all those enjoying the posts emanating from these pieces. They are only written as a way of opening discussion for topics not normally covered by the usual sources.

Universal love and may the force be with you.

...
What do Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and Lebron James have in common? Well, for starters, they haven't accomplished the ultimate mission and very purpose of the sport they play - winning a championship.

What else?

Well, they are all watching, or soon to be, on their television sets, the NBA Finals. Which will be a square off between the last two championship caliber ball clubs.

What more?

They have very large contracts, certainly they make a great sum of money for playing the game and participating in the sport. Outside of the contracts with their respective organizations, they have agreements with a bevy of companies who use their image to promote their brands. Routinely, these players are mentioned as three of the top five or seven players

Why is this substantial? Why is this relevant? Where is the connection?

Well, let's be curt about this. When a player receives the maximum dollar before they win the ultimate prize, or achieve the primary goal of the sport - they've settled. They, with the help of their big entourages, feel like royalty in their respective circles and can not possibly put in the work required to achieve greatness. Fans are routinely robbed of players reaching their apex because they essentially 'come' before their time.

Over and over.

Again and again.

Carmelo Anthony? Lebron James? Dwight Howard?

Which one of these players has kept with the NBA tradition of Hall of Fame players and worked in the off-season to truly upgrade and revamp their game? Lebron still has no post-game or reliable jump shot. Not even a sweet spot on the floor to go to in required situations. Carmelo? Aside from his mid-range stroke mixed with his football like forays into the hoop, he sprinkles in an occasional three-ball. Is that any different from the rookie version? Dwight Howard? After reaching the Finals and being exposed for his sever lack of post play, what did follow-up with? A 1-on-1 trashing from Kendrick Perkins where he was reduced to shooting running right handed hooks like a bad record stuck on repeat.

Unwatchable.

Unguardable?

Pause for laughter.

...

Is this what makes Kobe Bryant speical? The same quality that propelled the great Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson? What is this intangible quantity? What can it be sized up as?

Killer instinct.

"Experts" in the major media complex suggest that killer instinct is a quantity which can be gauged only during the forth quarter, with five, three, or two minutes left - depending on which side of the bed you wake up on. The theory when put into frame is laughable and patently absurd.

It starts hours before the ball is tipped, and the referee's blow their first whistle. It's days before the big game, and weeks before the pre-game interviews. It's months and years of hard work, dedication, and fire - ultimately, which creates the diamond.

Certainly, Kobe Bryant has it. For the 13 season's he has started as an NBA player, Kobe would have reached the NBA Finals seven times (counting current year). That is more than fifty percentage points plus of reaching the apex of the sport. If you don't measure "NBA's best player" by those numbers, but by regular season statistics and endorsement deals, than so be it.

As Dwight Howard smiles his way through a Eastern conference sweep, Lebron lies to himself as he indirectly blames his teammates and the entire city of Cleveland for his inability to reach the precipice. Moreover, Carmelo, high on marijuana smoke and MTV skits, is destined for the title of another millionaire-failure - spoken of in current times but never to be revered, never to be remembered. Big houses, big cars -- no heart.

The videotape doesn't lie.

...

Spell-check omitted,

The Moderator

SHOOTING FOR GREATNESS !!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I may be in the minority on this but count me as one Lakers fan who is thrilled to see the Celtics playing great. I’ve said many times that greatness begets greatness. Playing against Larry Bird and the Celtics provided Magic Johnson and the 80’s Lakers the stage on which to achieve greatness and vice versa. Now Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and Rondo and the Celtics appear ready to revive and reprise the greatness of the most storied rivalry in sports as the 2008 and 2009 NBA champs continue on their crash course to collide in the 2010 NBA Finals.
~
I find it ironic how Boston’s beat down of Orlando has made many Lakers fans wary and even fearful of the vicious buzz saw the Celtics suddenly appear to have become. There is little doubt both teams are keeping one eye pealed on their longtime bitter rival even as they throttle their overmatched conference final opponents. Look for the Lakers to respond to Celtics thrashing of the Magic at home by dismantling the Suns on the road. It’s now the Lakers turn to make a statement in this media-fueled ultimate game of team one-upsmanship.
~
More than any other major sport, basketball is all about the matchups. That’s why Orlando’s 8-0 early playoff run was fool’s gold. It’s also why the Celtic’s merciless pounding of the Magic or the Lakers thrashing of the hapless Suns won’t translate into a momentum edge for either team. Instead, momentum will depend upon how Kobe plays on offense, whether any Celtic will be able to defend him like Posey did in the 2008 Finals, and whether Kobe can reprise his stopper role against Westbrook and the Thunder and shut down Rajon Rondo.
~
It will depend on whether the Lakers “trade” for Ron Artest to guard Paul Pierce proves to be a great move. It will depend on whether a hobbled Andrew Bynum can offset the physicality of Kendrick Perkins and whether a finesse Pau Gasol can play tough enough to neutralize a bullying Kevin Garnett. Will Derek Fisher still have enough gas to fight through those double screens to keep Ray Allen in check? And finally, will Lamar Odom and the Lakers bench be able to match the energy and effort of Rasheed Wallace and the Celtic’s bench? The answers to those questions will determine which team grabs the momentum and ultimately triumphs.
~
Offensively, look for the Lakers to play inside-out basketball by pounding the ball inside to Bynum and Gasol and isolating Kobe and Artest in the post to force the Celtics to double and open up the lanes for their cutters. The front court matchups should heavily favor the Lakers this time as both Bynum and Gasol have better inside post up games than Dwight Howard, not to mention that they are both also capable of making their free throws. Also look for the Lakers to push the ball aggressively in transition for easy scores before the Celtics setup their vaunted half court defense. with Drew and Pau sprinting to beat the older Celtics big men down the court. The younger, faster, and quicker Lakers offense should dominate the slower, older, smaller Celtics.
~
Defensively, look for the Lakers to play the Celtics not much differently than the Suns in that they are going to force them to take non-paint 3’s by stopping penetration with Kobe shutting down Rondo, Artest locking down Pierce, and Bynum and Gasol closing down the lane and protecting the paint, while Fisher and Odom and the rest of the Lakers use their superior speed, quickness, athleticism, and length to chase Allen, Wallace, and the other Celtics long range shooters off the 3-point line. I expect Rondo’s “greatness” to be given the same dose of reality that Howard’s “greatness” just suffered. The Lakers will turn him into a jump and free throw shooter.
~
In the end, the Lakers should win the series easily for several reasons: They have the home court advantage, a Paul Pierce stopper in Ron Artest while the Celtics have lost their Kobe Bryant stopper in James Posey, and a 7-foot 285 pound Andrew Bynum to matchup against Kendrick Perkins to free Pau Gasol to play power forward against Kevin Garnett rather than center against Perkins. Bottom line, the 2010 Lakers are a much better and tougher team even with an injured Andrew Bynum than the 2008 team who lost to the Celtics in the Finals while the 2010 Celtics are an older, less talented version of their 2008 team. Lakers win in 5 games.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

NEMAIA… “…unlike many on here that have at least given Bynum some credit(including PJ, Kobe, LO, Gasol and many others)for playing through another knee injury, you seem to find anything to discredit or criticize him. You continue to call him a big mouth and yet it hasn't stopped you from running yours.”
~
Bravo. Thank you for speaking up. I have grown so weary of Blitz’s constant vitriolic sniping that I don’t even read his posts any more. I don’t mind fans criticizing Bynum but anybody can easily see that Blitz gets literally unhinged whenever the subject of Andrew Bynum comes up. He is like a caricature monkey with his eyes shut and ears covered so he does not have to listen or see anything that might force him to accept truth and reality. Criticize all you want, Blitz, but please try to do it in a respectful and courteous manner without calling names. Otherwise, you reveal yourself to be nothing but a hater with a sad bias and agenda that is not constructive.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
MARK G… “LT, Why would you think you're in the minority? Obviously you aren't the only person that wants to see a Real Final. It's not quite the 80s, but it's as close as we're going to get for a while.”
~
LOL! Glad to have you along, Mark, although I still think we are riding on a minority bandwagon, smelling the fumes of all of the anxious and worried Lakers fans who are praying that the Magic at least win a game or two to tire out those fearsome unstoppable Celtics. Most fans still think in terms of single championships rather than of dynasties. I think having a championship caliber foil (noun, not verb, MM) is going to catapult the Lakers to greatness and clearly solidify our Big 5 players as the core of many future Lakers championships.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
MODERATOR… “Carmelo Anthony? Lebron James? Dwight Howard? Which one of these players has kept with the NBA tradition of Hall of Fame players and worked in the off-season to truly upgrade and revamp their game?”
~
Superb post, Moderator. The hype these guys get is just a reflection of the total immersion of the sport in the growing unconscious unstoppable stream of information put out by the now unfettered national sports media. Next up will be John Wall, the greatest point guard prospect since Magic Johnson, who will undoubtedly be coronated by ESPN and the network heads before he even has a dependable outside shot, much like Rondo, who I predict will be exposed as just another pretender by Kobe and the Lakers in the upcoming Finals.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

The Moderator,

Your writing remains inspired.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

Hey All,

I'm off to my gangster bar for work. I'll be distracted all night watching the Lakers, but my thoughts will be with VICTORY and Laker Nation.

God Bless The Los Angeles Lakers!!!!

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

FATTY… “I have the Lakers in 6, but will not be surprised much with a Lakers sweep.”
~
Thanks for the kind words and also for bringing up the revenge factor, which I completely neglected to address. I agree with you 100% that the revenge factor is going to a critical intangible, especially for Kobe Bryant who is going to be highly motivated to prevent Boston from winning again on his watch. I think Kobe is going to win his second straight Finals MVP, setting the stage for Phil to come back next year and win his 4th three-peat.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

"Also look for the Lakers to push the ball aggressively in transition for easy scores before the Celtics setup their vaunted half court defense. with Drew and Pau sprinting to beat the older Celtics big men down the court."

I agree with you LT. You attack the weakness not the strength of a defense.
Run their old guys hard. The Celts have shown that the 4th Qtr is their weakest Qtr. And the Lakers strongest Qtr.

VMAN… “Agree on all points and especially love the conclusion: Lakers over Celtics… I agree, it's great to have the Celtics in top form. Let the best team win. It's good for the fans, it's good for the game.” Thanks for the words of support, VMan. I think we are going to see the Lakers come out tonight highly motivated to make a statement similar to what the Celtics did against the Magic. Time for greatness to prevail.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CHICNSTU… “I agree with you LT. You attack the weakness not the strength of a defense. Run their old guys hard. The Celts have shown that the 4th Qtr is their weakest Qtr. And the Lakers strongest Qtr.” We should be able to take out the Suns in no less than 5 and very possibly in 4 straight unless Stern’s refs pull an equalizer.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

too...
long...
between...
games...

must...
hold...
out...
and...
not...

HEY! How bout this for a trade idea if the Lakers lose in the finals:

Lakers trade Andrew Bynum to Minnesota for:

Darko Milicic
The rights to Ricky Rubio
The #'s 4, 16, and 23 picks in this year's draft.

I know Darko's no Bynum, but he'd be a third big with some experience and some shot blocking and defensive skill.

Plus Rubio is your PG of the future.

And the 4, 16, and 23 allow you to infuse the team with some young talent - one very likely good player and two gambles on potentially good players.

You take DeMarcus Cousins with #4, and whoever's the best talent on the board with the other two picks.

Ya gotta love this quolte from Pau Gasol if you're a Laker fan....

"We really try to never take any games off, especially during the playoffs," Pau Gasol said. "We might do it unconsciously during the season, but we cant afford to do that during the playoffs, otherwise you pay the price. You put yourself in a position where you could lose a game, lose a series and get knocked out. We understand where we're at, what we're playing for and what's at stake. I mean, we're a veteran team. This is not our first rodeo."

"This is not our first rodeo." Yes...go on, Pau!!! That, to me, is the perfect attitude. Take nothing for granted and go for it!!

My bad on spelling...of course it should be quote, not quolte.

LT,

I forgot to mention, I also thought your analysis was pretty much spot on. There's just one area where I disagree with you a little and that's Rondo. I think he deserves all the hype he's getting right now. I have no doubt he's their best player and he's the one that drives this team. His J is suspect but that's just a confidence thing and will improve in time, hopefully not this year though.

I'm dying of curiosity to see how PJ deals with him.

Looking ahead, I think that the pendulum has swung in the matchups between the Lakers and that hated team from Boston. In 2008, the strength of Boston's team was its frontcourt. Garnett was at his peak and Pierce was at a very high level. Today, with Rondo emerging and Ray Allen still playing well, the C's boast a much stronger backcourt. Fish usually plays Ray Allen to minimize the wear and tear on Kobe. Ray runs through too many screens. Kobe will have his hands full with Rondo this time around and will have to play more attention to him than last time. The Lakers' biggest advantage must come up front. If Bynum can give them good minutes, it will take some of the pressure off LO and Pau and allow the Lakers to capitalize.

MARK G… “I forgot to mention, I also thought your analysis was pretty much spot on. There's just one area where I disagree with you a little and that's Rondo. I think he deserves all the hype he's getting right now.”
~
I don’t disagree with you that Rondo is a terrific player. And it really pains me to see the Celtics actually draft a guy who turns out to be a real player. But to categorize Rajon Rondo as a “great” player and catapult him ahead of proven veteran elite point guards like Daron Williams or Chris Paul who can actually shoot the ball and do not have a HACK-A-MAN free throw strategy named after them I think is ridiculously pre-mature. It reminds me of ESPN’s ludicrous coronation of LeBron as the King. Seriously, do you think the Hornets or Jazz would trade their point guards for Rondo? I’m not saying that Rondo is not an outstanding player just that he is has not done enough to call him as the best point guard in the NBA. Expect Kobe to put him in his proper place.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

No matter who the Lakers play (Suns/Celtics), the likes of Farmar, Brown and Ron are going to get open looks. They hit their shots the Suns/Celtics are done.
And while Rondo may cause a few problems, he won't cause as much trouble for the Lakers as, what's his name, uh, oh yeah, Kobe will cause for the Celtics.

I don’t disagree with you that Rondo is a terrific player. And it really pains me to see the Celtics actually draft a guy who turns out to be a real player. But to categorize Rajon Rondo as a “great” player and catapult him ahead of proven veteran elite point guards like Daron Williams or Chris Paul who can actually shoot the ball and do not have a HACK-A-MAN free throw strategy named after them I think is ridiculously pre-mature. It reminds me of ESPN’s ludicrous coronation of LeBron as the King. Seriously, do you think the Hornets or Jazz would trade their point guards for Rondo? I’m not saying that Rondo is not an outstanding player just that he is has not done enough to call him as the best point guard in the NBA. Expect Kobe to put him in his proper place.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM


Posted by: LakerTom | May 23, 2010 at 03:15 PM
PERFECT!
We all saw what happened to Durant in Artest's hands...
Cheers.

LT

Here's the thing, and I like D Will a lot as a player, what exactly have CP3 and D Will done when you think about it? Nothing really. What's intriguing about Rondo is he seems to have that competitive edge that you need to be a great player. Maybe you're right, he might not be there yet, but if I had to bet, I'd bet he makes it. Again, hopefully not during the finals.


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