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Lakers have strong record in close-out games


There's really no use for the Lakers to allow Utah to prolong this series any further. A Jazz Game 4 win would add little concern to the Lakers since no team in NBA history has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit. Sure, the Lakers could also generate additional revenue with Game 5 on Wednesday at Staples Center. And the added game would keep fans entertained for another night instead until who knows when the Lakers play Phoenix in the West Finals.

But really, the Lakers should get it over with, for several reasons. Although the Lakers are healthier than they were toward the end of the season, Kobe Bryant (finger, left ankle, right knee), Andrew Bynum (right knee), Lamar Odom (right knee, left shoulder) and Ron Artest (left shoulder, left thumb) will never turn down recovery time. It'll also prevent possible injuries with an extended series. And it would give the Lakers extra time to look ahead at the Suns.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they've had a strong record in closeout games. They went 4-1 during last year's title run. Though Oklahoma City gave the Lakers trouble in the first round, they eliminated them in their first close-out opportunity with a 95-94 Game 6 victory. With the Lakers playing Game 4 tonight against the Jazz, the Lakers have a clear blueprint that will close out the series.


Putting the game away early

All but one of the closeout games last season featured the Lakers deciding the game early. The only exception entailed a 95-80 Game 6 loss to the Houston Rockets in the West semifinals, after allowing Houston to storm out to a 17-1 lead and missing their first eight shots of the game.

The Lakers pulled a role reversal in the other contests. Perhaps capturing the Lakers' complacency against Houston all too well, the Lakers responded to their Game 6 loss with an imposing 89-70 Game 7 and series-clinching win over Houston. The Lakers never trailed, Houston missed its first 12 shots and before you knew it, the Lakers' leads ballooned from 10 in the first quarter to 20 by halftime to as many as 31 in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers only needed one attempt to close out their playoff series last year again Utah, Denver and Orlando. But they followed a similar formula. In the Lakers' 119-92 Game 6 victory over Denver, the Lakers closed the first half with a 53-40 lead, thanks to a 12-3 run that featured Kobe Bryant scoring seven of those points. The Lakers' fate never appeared in doubt, with their shooting (57.3%) and 24 made free-throws largely dictating the tone the entire game.

The same thing happened in the Lakers' Game 5 99-86 title clinching victory over the Orlando Magic. They went on a 16-0 run in the second half, where Trevor Ariza scored seven points and Derek Fisher had five in a span of four minutes and 25 seconds. The Magic managed to cut the Lakers' lead to five in the third quarter, but Lamar Odom made two consecutive three-pointers to put the game out of reach.


Key contributions

Even if their 95-94 Game 6 victory over Oklahoma City this season didn't feature the same dominance, the Lakers still featured key contributions. It appeared the Lakers would go to Game 7 when Bryant's 13-footer from the wing hit the rim and bounced to the right side. But Lakers forward Pau Gasol's putback with five-tenths of a second remaining clinched the Lakers' victory.

Various players made key plays in the final minutes to ensure the Lakers' victory. After Kevin Durant's layup gave the Thunder a 94-91 lead with 2:30 remaining -- Oklahoma City's largest lead of the night -- Gasol set a high screen on Durant, Bryant drove to the far corner and made a pull-up jumper, cutting the gap to 94-93 with 2:11 left in the game. On the next possession, Odom blocked Nick Collison's putback, a play that marked Odom's third block of the game and stopped the Thunder from answering. Two possessions later, Odom grabbed the rebound off Westbrook's missed three-pointer, keeping the Lakers within striking distance, trailing 94-93 with just a minute remaining in the contest.

In the Lakers' blowouts in close-out games, those contributions came from everyone. The Lakers' closeout win over Utah last year featured Bryant (31 points) and Odom (26 points and 15 rebounds). The Lakers' series-clinching victory over Houston showcased balance with Gasol (21 points, 18 rebounds), Ariza (15 points), Andrew Bynum (14 points) and Bryant (14 points) leading the charge. The Lakers' dominance over Denver included more of the same with Bryant (35 points, 10 assists) leading the way along with a three-tiered effort from Gasol (20 points, 12 rebounds), Odom (20 points, eight rebounds) and Luke Walton (10 points, three assists). And the Lakers' championship clinching win showcased Bryant's dominance (30 points, six rebounds and five assists) and the frontline's assistance, with Gasol and Odom combining for 31 points and 25 rebounds.

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom has his shot in the lane blocked by Utah forward Paul Millsap in Game 3 on Saturday night. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

Photo: Utah guard C.J. Miles fouls Lakers power forward Pau Gasol on shot attempt in Game 3 on Saturday night. Gasol would finish with a workmanlike 14 points and 17 rebounds. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) gives a leaping bump to power forward Pau Gasol as they celebrate taking a 95-94 lead after Gasol's put back of a Kobe Bryant miss with less than a second to play Friday night in Oklahoma City. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (24)

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right, repost

I thought it would be nice to stop and comment on the actual article by FCM at the top of this thread, since nobody else who posted a comment bothered. (why do i feel i have to ps that with a ': )' ? nobody did.

anyhoo, FCM, i was a bit confused as to your initial statement that you felt the Lakers are better this year than last, followed by a raft of statistics that all seemed to be in favor of last years team.

However, i am also in agreement with the statement, as i feel that the statistics cited not only fail to take into account the rather obvious fact that the two teams cannot play each other, (and i also would look forward to the ron ron- ron ron smack twitters, but not as much as Kobe '09 guarding Kobe '10 and vice versa) but also a fact that i don't think you mentioned; the quality of the opposition. Here's a question; which are better, the other 29 teams in '10 or the other 29 teams in 2010? that to me is the real question.

also- LTLF- i like the effort you put into your calculations, but FCM, wouldn't how much money the Jerry Buss (and other team co owners, since i know there are several) actually take in vs how much they spend? I don't question the accuracy of LTLF's calculations per se, but my limited logic seems to argue that as the Lakers are one of the or outright most profitable teams, and they only pay their players a total of maybe slightly more than twice as much as the lowest salary team, but their total income would have to be a lot more than two and half times the income of say, Memphis.

Anyway, i'm just thinking out loud, but it might be an interesting conversation to have.

whoops; mixed two thoughts- FCM- i think this would be an interesting topic; the specific question is to everybody or at least long term laker fan. anyhoo...[trails off and looks around confusedly] mother? Did you say something? what's that? You want me to put the cat in the dishwasher and feed the dishes? Ok.

Good afternoon fam!

I probably won't see too much of the game tonight (final in approx. 45 minutes), but I wanted everyone to know that I'll be there in spirit.

I'll get back to being on here with some regularity once finals stuff dies down (probably on Wednesday night or so).

There are too many people for me to name, but if you and I have had an interaction in the past 2 years, I just want to say "Hi" and I also hope you've had a good day today. I know everyone is looking forward to the game tonight!


Cali, phred

If only you two had been here for the German/Bulgarian-Metaphysics-Clown-Elephant thread last week or so.

mark g- sure, sounds like it was great fun for everybody. sorry i missed it.

You know your game is a low broadcast priority when either Keven McHale or Doris Burke are doing the Color.

phred - Sorry if the previous article arouses confusion. I didn't argue that the Lakers were better or worse than last year. I mentioned that the statistics seem to indicate that's the case. But then that argument is clouded because the Lakers are in much better position in this year's semifinals than in last year's. But as I stated before that doesn't mean the team is better because Utah seems to be an easier matchup than Houston and OKC seemed more difficult than Utah in the first round. All in all, I don't have a definitive take. My intention was to show why it is hard to say which team is better than the other.


Mark G.

"If only you two had been here for the German/Bulgarian-Metaphysics-Clown-Elephant thread last week or so."

If only.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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


FCM- I guess i was just basing that on the second and third paragraphs, ie 'this years lakers appear to be better based on the numbers' followed by 'all these numbers show that the lakers stats were better relative to the rest of the league last year'

i get that the overall tone of the article was posing a question, and i thought your accumulation of comparisons of overall stats, individual stats, and team records split between both this and last regular season and the two playoffs was quite impressive, so as a total sum the article was well done. but the first couple of paragraphs were sort of confusing.

FCM- as always, you are not to blame for my failures of understanding, but sometimes i think that the level of comprehension you are writing for is higher than that to which i am accustomed in the general media. this is of course, only fitting as you are of course writing for one of the most intellectually advanced populations on the internet.

(not that this is saying much, i suppose)

Shout-out to Hobbitmage {11:12AM today}!

He corrected Edwin Gueco`s claim {8:19AM today} that Abraham Lincoln is regarded as the greatest US President ever.


We all know the greatest "prez" ever was the 14th...President PIERCE!!!!!


You said "maybe WE can help educate him?"

Hmm such an enticing offer but gonna have to pass.. Gracias pero no gracias..

U gonna have to fly solo there.

No hablo espanol.

Sorry my laker compadre..

Vaya con dios! :)

Phil Jackson is cracking me up calling that Sloan thing a "message." This is too funny. He literally wants Kobe to read and re-read that statement, then read it again and think about it until he's ready to re-read it and think about it again. It's not a message at all. He said it, and that's it. Or, that would be it, but poor Slone has PJ in Kobe's ear as he re-reads that thing for the tenth time.

This is great theater.



I agree , this is pretty entertaining.

MM, do we get a thread on Miss Americagate?

And for Jerry and the Utah boys, I give you this, the greatest and saddest folk song in the history of great and sad folk songs--written and unwritten.


LTLF…Great recap of the impact of more or fewer playoff games. As we both know, the other factor that you cannot ignore is the appreciation in the value of the franchise. In other words, how much did the value of the franchise increase. Championships definitely have big impact on the team’s value. Probably adds another $10-25M to the “real” income this year. Of course, we still have to win.

Mark G - I'm not on the road so I don't have the exact comments. But I might try to see if we can do something on in the next few days


We all know the greatest "prez" ever was the 14th...President PIERCE!!!!!

Posted by: RED`S LOVE CHILD | May 10, 2010 at 05:50 PM

How does 'President Pierce' enjoy being guarded by Lebron? OMG, the ASG 3-point shooting champion is clanking 4 of 18 in the CLE series from 3-point range? Even Ron-ron has better 3-pt shooting in the 2nd round.

A guy making $20 mil is averaging 11 ppg in the second round of the playoffs? OMG.


I'm half-joking, def don't do it on my account. It will be interesting to see if Kobe becomes the Destroyer of Worlds tonight. Maybe Sloan just doesn't want to comeback to LA?

Kenny and Barkley where singing "Here she comes. . ." on the halftime show.

And make sure you drive safe gosh darn it!

That last game was so special, I just hope it doesn't all end like the .04 year ended. I've probably watched the replays 10-20 times. Too much, I know, but it just doesn't get boring, it never turns out bad. They win everytime I watch it.


wes - i agree that rewatching that shot against San Antonio never gets old. seems to impossible to pull off, but it happened.


Mark G - "destroyer of worlds"? - you a Stargate afficionado too?

wes - do you have the game "taped"? Or did you find it on-line somewhere? I forgot to DVR it - figures it would be so exciting... Anyhoo - I'd love to see the whole thing again... any links or anything?

Justa, I watch clips online.


>>>> Championships definitely have big impact on the team’s value. Probably
>>>>adds another $10-25M to the “real” income this year.

They won a championship last year. Presumably that income was rolled into the Operating Income reported in Forbes.

Okay, I didn't say it this time, but I did when I originally posted my estimates last summer: I don't have access to the Laker books. I have no idea if the number they reported to Forbes was their exact profits or not. Maybe there's something that wasn't rolled into that number.

My estimate was a "back of napkin" kind of estimate. I had a couple of numbers that were supposedly public knowledge and I extrapolated from there.

And note that everyone is assuming there MUST be MORE money than that. So everyone is claiming - OH, that must not include merchandise. or Oh, that must not include additional money because they won a championship.

Granted. Those are both possibilities. I don't know.

But you also have to consider that this was a recession year. So it might be that more people snuck in snacks from home rather than paying $7 for nachos at Staples Center. And maybe less people sprang $50 for a jersey because they had to save what they had to make rent.

In other words, some of the money that WAS flowing into that number last year, might have been trickling this year.

But as a ballpark figure, assuming the Forbes numbers are accurate and account for everything and assuming the hoopshype salary figures are close to correct, then if they make it to the finals and play out about the same number of playoff games as last season, Buss makes 10 million.



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