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Phoenix's fourth-quarter adjustment on Kobe Bryant makes difference in Lakers' 115-106 Game 4 loss to Suns

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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant stood wide open behind the perimeter, waving his arms up and down, hoping the outward body language would help get him the ball. But Lakers guard Derek Fisher didn't see the movement, too busy fixated on driving through the lane. With the shot clock ticking down to five seconds, Bryant flailed his arms again. But Fisher didn't see Bryant again, and instead, attempted a corner three-pointer, which Phoenix forward Channing Frye quickly swatted away.

On the other end, Suns forward Louis Amundson set a screen on Fisher, Phoenix guard Goran Dragic dribbled around Pau Gasol, and Amundson rolled inside. Frye then curled to the nearside perimeter and caught Dragic's pass before finding Amundson down low. He missed the lay-in but drew a foul on Odom, converted on one of two free throws and gave the Suns a 10-point lead with 4:37 remaining in the game.

The described play served as the most visible example that despite Bryant's tremendous effort with 38 points on 15 of 22 shooting, 10 assists and seven rebounds, the team actually didn't do enough to allow Bryant to carry the Lakers when nearly all parts of the team's game, including the post play, bench, three-point shooting and defense, had fallen apart in its 115-106 Game 4 loss Tuesday to Phoenix. Yet, the following play also illustrated how Phoenix made the necessary fourth-quarter adjustments in double teaming Bryant after he scored 15-second quarter points by playing off the weakside of Phoenix's 2-3 zone. With the Lakers trailing by nine with less than two minutes left in the game, Bryant manned the point, met a double team from Frye and Steve Nash on the perimeter and met help defense from Jason Richardson above the circle. Bryant had no choice but to pass to the far corner where Ron Artest stood unmarked for a pretty obvious reason. His shot wouldn't fall. Bryant, on the other hand, wouldn't be given an inch from the Suns' D.

Said Bryant: "It's just knowing that when you catch the ball they have three guys around you, somebody else is open."

"They knew where he was," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said regarding the Suns' defense on Bryant, who attempted only four field goals in the fourth quarter. "He really had put in an effort to riding that hot spell he had during that period of time [in the second quarter]. They had a double team design out there that they had tried to use to try to limit his touches."

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That couldn't have been more apparent at the beginning of the fourth quarter, when Bryant ran off a pick set by Andrew Bynum on Phoenix guard Jason Richardson. Just as Bryant appeared to drive the lane, Richardson swiped the ball, which bounced off Bryant and went out of bounds. There was a play where Bryant caught the ball on the right block and immediately met a double team, causing Bryant to kick the ball out to Lakers reserve guard Jordan Farmar, who missed an open three-pointer. And then there was the time Bryant drove the lane, met an aggressive Goran Dragic and kicked the ball out in mid air to Shannon Brown, who also missed an open three-pointer.

Yet, plenty of sequences in the fourth quarter simply illustrated the Lakers didn't fully utilize Bryant's ability to take over a game.

After catching an entry pass from Farmar in the near post, Bynum didn't notice an open Bryant on the weakside. Instead, Bynum passed the ball out to Farmar, who missed a corner three-pointer. Then, Amundson boxed out Lakers forward Lamar Odom and cleaned the glass. Moments later, Dragic ran the break, crossing past Farmar into the lane. Bryant caught up to help, while Brown confronted Dragic from down low. But Dudley stood open on the nearside corner. Bryant reacted quickly and contested Dudley's shot, but it went in and widened the gap to 98-89 with 6:47 remaining.

On another play with nearly five minutes remaining, Bryant cut to the top of the key once Artest fed Gasol an entry pass. After getting double teamed by Amundson and Dragic, Bryant waved his arm, but it didn't get Gasol's attention. Gasol didn't necessarily make a bad decision, kicking the ball to an open Fisher in the near corner. But had Gasol seen Bryant continue cutting to the far end of the court and passed the ball to him on the play, Bryant likely would've produced a far better result than Odom's mishandled shot in the paint.

Fast forward to the 4:23 mark and you have Gasol unsuccessfully shooting over Amundson and Dudley in the paint instead of kicking the ball out to Bryant, left unmarked at the top of the key. On the other end, Dragic manned the point up top against Fisher, dribbled left, crossed to his right and then spun past Fisher at the free-throw line. Odom attempted to help, but Dragic switched to his right hand and converted on the layup, widening the gap to 103-90.

When I asked Gasol if a better effort should've been made for Bryant to get more looks when he had them, it appeared Gasol didn't want to come across criticizing Bryant considering the work he put in Game 4.

"I don't know," Gasol said. "He obviously shot the ball extremely well last night. He also made big plays as far as assisting. It was a great game on his part. Unfortunately we couldn't capitalize on it and make it a better chance for us to win the ball game. I don't know if he could've taken any more shots. I think in the fourth quarter, they threw two or three guys at the zone on him to make sure he got rid of the ball or made somebody else make a play. When that happens, we have to understand that we have to be aggressive."

Surely, that's understandable and there were plenty of areas that the Lakers could've sharpened to ensure a victory. But there were a few plays Bryant served as the better option where he had a rare open look.

--Mark Medina

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

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, encourages his teammates after hitting a three-pointer over Phoenix guard Jason Richardson, left, in Game 4 on Tuesday. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.

Photo: Phoenix center Louis Amundson tries to get to the basket after pulling down a rebound in front of Lakers forward Lamar Odom, left, and guard Kobe Bryant during Game 4 on Tuesday. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (140)

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Is there any substantiated news on the whole Le Bron's Mom, thing? I kinda feel like it's all hooey as I can't imagine ESPN wouldn't jump down the throat of this one.


I dunno, stranger things have happened:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SprsUaX5j78

This Blog & Chats Lately Have Become TROLL-VILLE!!!!

Haters With Nothing Positive to Add!!!!

If Kobe has a Bad Game, they Bash Him. If they Can't Bash Kobe, they Bash Gasol. When they couldn't Bash Gasol, they Bash Fisher. Etc., etc., etc.

When they can Bash the Whole Team, They Get a Thrill Down Their Leg.

They're as Bad as Whaquille O'Neal when he was trying to get Kobe traded!!!! Nothing But Negativity!!!

Bad Kharma!

TIME TO STOP FEEDING THE TROLLS!!!!

LET THE TROLLS FEED ON THEMSELVES FOR ONCE!!!

Mamba24, Justa, Jon K., LongTime, and All the Other True Laker Fans: KEEP THE FAITH!!!

MarcB is OFFICIALLY IN EXILE! Saving My Positive Energy for the Game!

GO LAKERS!!!! ONE, TWO, THREE, DOMINATE!!!!

SIGNING OFF...

I'm anxious about this game, but I believe in our team. I LOVE it when Kobe is PO'd, mad, angry, growling at his teammates. Boys are turned into men.

to Jon K.

I´m here to practice me english writting. And, of course, in my opinion, Pau GAsol is Willt and Bill "all in one" You has another opinion???, well, no problem.

Hey Mamba, I think Jesus Santos "no te quiere".

Jesus, Mamba is a clown obviously, but is entertaining bro. I learn a lot of Trash Talking from Mamba.

Good Morning Kids

Pleasure to assist, Mamba.
Justa has it right.. "STARVE".

And Justa, absolutely right about the gender/increased insult phenomenon.
Some guys (no names) (santos) (oops) attack because they're really afraid...
A blog is a perfect place to be a macho coward.

I smell a blowout tonight!


The Series will end in 6 (and I mean the WCF, not the ECF).

The question is, which team will win it?

I guess we find out tonight. My money is on Kobe & the Lakers.

Now, here's my take on the "politics" issue:

Is Fisher undermining the team?
Yes

Has he been doing this the whole season?
Yes

Is he doing it on purpose?
Not by intention. He wants the PT, he wants the glory, he wants another paycheck - so his greed is mostly for himself, he's actually TRYING to win the games and look good, he's just really bad at that right now

What about Gasol?
He's really an awesome player when paired with the right player in the right system. He's not the greatest big man in the game like Doug Collins likes to say, but he's really close and when paired with Kobe, he may as well be the best big man in the game. There's no way he would intentionally throw a game, he just doesn't know what to do when Kobe isn't feeding him freebies or the defense isn't handing him single coverage by a weak defender. He has his strengths and weaknesses just like most everyone else - and PHX (with a willing LAL) has taken away his strengths and exasperated his weaknesses.

Now to the ECF
Game 6 determines the winner. It's sort of fun to see the Celts getting a dose of their own medicine and not being able to withstand it. I'm not sure I want to face either team in the finals, but I think Orlando would be about as tough as PHX and the Celts... well, ORL just found out how to squash them like a bug.

If foul trouble strikes again... unleash the Congo

Magia32

I'm thinking Kobe comes out tonight chewing a piece of gum like a mad man

(name on top just in case you guys want to scroll)

And if Stat man starts playing high energy... unleash the Congo

Ricky, a clown is a guy that is NOT a Lakers fan (like you, right? You said you're Gasol's fan and if he goes to the Knicks, you'd be a Knicks fan...your words) and still insists to come to the Lakers blog and say bad things about bloggers that been here for years.
Now, let's see if you're a bit intelligent.
Can you understand portuguese? Oh, c'mon, it's pretty close, I bet you can....let's try:
VAI PRA MERDA!!!!


Jon K:

You wrote:

I call such people true "Haters" and, as a result, people of your ilk are the ultimate "problem" in society.

Response:

Since we are on the topic of "haters", you forgot to include the other true "haters" who have been posting tirades after tirades and hate posts after posts on David Stern? I am sure you are not one of them and I often wonder if those poster have German heritage?

Jon please enjoy the game tonight from your lucky bar stool and remember don't drink and drive.

Have a wonderful day in beautiful city of Cleveland.


Tim-4-Show

President Obama said Pau Gasol is the best player in NBA. Don´t you respect your President?????????? Pau Gasol is the new leader, The New Messias in Lakerland. Kobe Bryant is the pass, Pau is present and future. Pau Gasol is "Bill Chamberlain" version 2.0. Obama have pointed over Pau like the new MVP finals.

To Magic. Obrigado, molto obrigado amigo.

Can you understand spanish??

COOOMEMELAAAAA GILIPOOOLLASSSS

Every Laker fan -- every pro basketball fan -- knows the playoffs is a marathon where a team hits several "walls" due to talent, depth (lack thereof), health, age, and mindset, or a combination of two or more of those things.

As much as it's hard for me to stomach, the Suns are a good team. They're pros. They won nearly 55 games and have had a great playoff season. And they're playing with grit that I honestly haven't seen from a Suns team since the KJ-Chambers-Majerle days.

The Lakers are what they are. Kobe is Kobe. Pau Gasol is a very polished and consistently productive player. LO is the difference in every game, win or lose. Fisher gives you big shots and whatever else he can at his age. Bynum will not be a healthy, solid option after March. And their bench, especially Vujacic and (often) Farmar, seem to have senioritis, content to be on a championship team moreso than *part* of one. They're a team that can lose focus and get frustrated. But they're still one of the best teams in the league, and of course, the defending NBA champs.

Houston posed the same problem last year. They were smaller, but they hustled, were aggressive, forced the issue, and relied on Aaron Brooks and Our Test to push LA to the brink. Denver pushed them very hard, and were as capable of winning a title as anyone. But once LA plugged the holes, those teams didn't have a chance.

I figure the same will happen with the Suns in 2010.

Now, what happens if and when Boston (likely) returns from the brink, appreciating its own mortality, and rolling into Staples with a sense of urgency and relish at taking back "its" title? Who knows?

But if LA can figure it out, Boston doesn't stand a chance either.

Just to clarify some rumors. Mamba 24 is not me lol. I don't think I deserve the comparison. I appreciate the compliments on professionalism and what not but that doesn't mean Mamba 24 isn't. He has a valued presence to this block. Justanothermambafan is right that it is the readers that make this blog great. I'm merely the traffic cop. That doesn't mean though that justa is going to the ASG.

MM

Wow, what a morning!
Next thing we're going to have is a blog tag team cage match: Mamba24 and JonK (with their manager Ms. Justa (I can see the business suit, hair in bun, little glasses...) vs Jesus Santos and Ricky. Prematch will be Ouchhhhh vs The World.

Lighten up people. It's GAME DAY!!! The past is gone, the future is not yet written, life is beautiful...unless you're the Suns.

JR

MM!!!!!!!!

I always stick up for you and the fab job you're doing here!!

Don't let the idiot trolls sway you into thinking I'm doing it just for the ASG in LA ticket, cuz I'm NOT!!!!

YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO TAKE ME!!!!!!

VoteForJusta.com

I'll hold your beer while you interview people. Hell - I'll even buy you one!!

JON K ON MAMBA24 . . .

For the past couple of weeks, I've withdrawn to only reading and not writing on this blog. I just have no appetite for being drawn into the idiotic barbs cast by society's "losers"(to quote JON K) on personal matters that have little or nothing to do with NBA issues.

But, I cannot sit idly by and fail to affirm "people on this blog enjoy Mamba24's posts, his enthusiasm, his energy, and his creativity" (direct quote from JON K.). I love Mamba24's input. He has his own style, as do so many others. His playful spirit is a gift. His passion is contagious. His frequent affirmations are encouraging. And yes, his mistakes are obvious, for which his frequent apologies seek to correct.

Please, enough with the personal hate and attacks. Enjoy the passion and diversity of perspectives. Be mature. Don't be losers. Revel in the spirited debate that sports affords us! But, don't use this venue to spew venom.

I challenge YOU ALL to consider the destructive nature to personal attacks, no matter the "freedoms" that "Free Speech" rights might afford.
--"Losers" ask the question, "CAN I?" before speaking or acting.
--Mature people ask the question, "SHOULD I?" before speaking or acting.


Let us COLLECTIVELY make the mature choice.

Now I return to my protective shelter, less unsavory attacks rain down on me.

Mike

Mark Medina:

A point well taken. Looks like all the banter has gotten your attention. Just so you know it is all a big joke and as Chick Hearns would say no harm no foul. Although, I am afraid for my physical safety...hahahahaha.

JR - so.. you picture me in your mind's eye, do you? LOL! You're close... so close... but yet so very far away. I only look like that on meeting days. Nothing says 'professional woman' more than a bun & some little glasses.

LMAO!

Jesus Santo - Well put man. Just trying to give credit where credit is due you know?

MM

To MM

I´m sure your ancestor have been spaniards from "Castilla La Mancha" or "Castilla León"

I have any problem with your "Multipersonality". Is obviously for everybody here that LakerTom, Hobbitmage, Mamba24 and others have the same writting style that you, with differents tones (Mamba24 is the clown, LakerTom is the expert and Bynum Homer and Hobbit, well, Hobbit is Hobbit), yes, but finally, the same Style. Sorry, but you has been "desenmascarado".

"...But if LA can figure it out, Boston doesn't stand a chance either."

Posted by: Peace | May 27, 2010 at 09:39 AM
**************************************************

That was a PERFECT post my friend... concise and to the point... not as BLUSTERY as I usually do it... but AWESOME all the same.

You laker fans never cease to amaze me. You have more excuses than pfizer has pills. The suns outplayed you in games 3 and 4 and our coach outcoached old Phil. Let's not forget how the suns bench slapped your bench and starters around. Don't get too cocky yet flaker fans.

Mamba24:

Jokes and all the banter aside I would love to hear your insight on tonight's game and what you think the Lakers must do tonight to win the game.

Have a great day!!


Jesus Santos,

Trust me, Mamba24 is Mark Medina (Multipersonality)

You laker fans never cease to amaze me. You have more excuses than pfizer has pills. The suns outplayed you in games 3 and 4 and our coach outcoached old Phil. Let's not forget how the suns bench slapped your bench and starters around. Don't get too cocky yet flaker fans.

Posted by: Tom | May 27, 2010 at 09:55 AM
*******************************************

I have a favorite saying that goes, "The sun has got to shine on a dog's @zz some days."

In this case you got two straight days of Suns-shine, (lol, see what I did there?) BUT today's forecast calls for Purple & Gold Storm Clouds with a HEAVY chance of WHOOP @ZZ!!!

Bring an umbrella, you're gonna need it.

Lakers problem is all about getting the offensive and defensive rebounds. All there big man are just standing and waiting for the ball to come to them.How i wish brown is a seven footer to do that job.How could they beat east champions if they dont play defense and play tough to opponents. They always under estimate there opponent....Kobe, fish, and ron show toughness. now it's Gasol's turn to show how tough he could give.

Lakers will blow em out tonight. Stern has it scripted.

Or, we lose, and we stage a miraculous, 2002-ish comeback to once again get to the Finals.

I think Stern will help us out one way or another.

Rest assured, LakerNation. LOL

Celtics will close out Magic 100%.

Stern has it scripted that Celtics get to the Finals to rematch with us, but wanted more games. He wouldn't risk a game 7 vs. Orlando @ Orlando.
-------------------
On the other hand, this Lakers series will probably go the full 7. This will further the bullshit Lakers-Suns rivalry. In actuality, it's brutally one-sided. Sure, they've beaten us plenty, but 15 banners to ..... zero??

Aside from lakers superstars kobe and fish other players on their roster doesn't know what urgency means, toughness, and will to win. It takes a lot of "heart" to be a champion. Gasol, Odom, and the bench mob if you cant score try to hassle and rebound, "Can you hear me now".

bitoty,

Lakers don't have heart collectively.

Champions don't give up an average of 110 points per game in the POSTSEASON to a wimpy phoenix suns team. Champions clothesline pussies.

The success to win a game is everybody understand what there individual role's are...... Lakers you have to defend and rebound.Being a 7' footer is useless if you guys are just waiting for the ball. If gasol, bynum, and odom doesn't like to get the rebound... Hey give Mbenga the chance to do that.....Remember you have the best closer of the league "kobe" and fish the toughest guy of the lakers. All other guys just give your best and make some hassle to contribute.

Ricky,

"I´m here to practice me english writting"

Let me be frank with you...

The reason why so many people on this blog don't like you is because you are here for YOU. Meaning, you are here for self-centered, selfish reason and it comes through in your "english writting."

It's distasteful to us. So, know that you are practicing writing in a way that will not be appreciated by proficient English writers and readers.

The majority of people are here to share a singular passion: The Los Angeles Lakers. If you do not share that passion, you do not belong here.

It really is that simple.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!!

You laker fans never cease to amaze me. You have more excuses than pfizer has pills. The suns outplayed you in games 3 and 4 and our coach outcoached old Phil. Let's not forget how the suns bench slapped your bench and starters around. Don't get too cocky yet flaker fans.

Posted by: Tom | May 27, 2010 at 09:55 AM
===============================

Take advantage of those 2 gift wins. Phoenix have no chance.

Jon K:

I hear and see where you are coming from with regards to Ricky. Please allow me to propose a solution and not compound it. For starter lets level set, i.e. that this blog's mission is to provide a platform for Lakers fans to vent, present their views and share information pertaining to the Lakers and in return enjoy. Having said that, there is no way LA Times can impose what people want to post, so there is one solution. The onus is on individuals like us to either take the bait and respond to a post or be selective in what one responds to. So no one is mandating that you read a post or even respond to a post that is offending to you. So with due respect I suggest that you scroll past a post and only focus on the ones that you enjoy reading or responding to. The truth of the matter is that you are to be blamed for compounding the issues by reacting to it. Does this resonate with you? By the way if I recall you were in the past a practicing Monk, so practice self control.

My two cents and no pun intended. I do enjoy some of your posts and look forward to your insights!!

All the best!!

I say bring Mbenga into the game. He doesn't score but he hustles and blocks shots. Odumb and Gasoft are just in a daze. If there is any pride in the Lakers the score tonight should be LA over 100 and the Suns under 100.

You guys and your passion crap really kill me. If your team had passion it would be another story. The chemistry on the lakers team is pathetic and it's a 1 man show. Hey Kobe, there is no I in team work. Bring your best tonight as you are going to need it.

Listen Kobe I know you are reading my comments on your blackberry. Don't mind the noise in the market you are primed to be as good as MJ was. It will start on the defensive end. You need to harassed Nash to no end get him flustered. When Dragic comes on the floor do the same thing to him. Plus I hope you already had a one on one with Gasoft. Finally, I say channel your inner MJ. Channel it and prevail. No 100 point game for the Suns. Go get em.

Well done Kobe. There wasa committment to defense and you almost kept the suns under 100 points.

 
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