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Caught in the Web: Lakers with a chance to surpass San Antonio in the Western Conference standings

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--The Times' Mike Bresnahan looks at what the Lakers would need to do to secure first place in the Western Conference standings.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding explains that the Lakers clinching the Pacific Division would serve as the first tiebreaker over the Dallas Mavericks should they end with the same regular-season records. Head-to-head matchups would then be the second tiebreaker.

--The San Antonio Express-News' Buck Harvey reports Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Antonio McDyess would've played Monday against Portland had it been the playoffs.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky previews the Lakers' upcoming week.

--Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe picks the Lakers as the favorites to win the NBA title.

--The San Antonio Express-News' Mike Monroe details the Spurs' latest struggles.

--Fox Sports Southwest's Mike Piellucci believes the Spurs will turn out fine.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford breaks down the West standings.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell highlights Kobe Bryant's Western Conference player of the week award.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano offers various quick-hit thoughts on the Lakers.

Tweet of the Day: "Late thought of the night: If Lakers catch the Spurs for top record in NBA, is Kobe the MVP?" -- ramonashelburne (ESPN Los Angeles columnist Ramona Shelburne)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "That's one of the things that makes Kobe a champion...he doesnt focus on other teams, but on his game & his team. His attitude (and that of Phil) has trickled down to others on the team, which helps explain the horrific SPANKING they put on the Spurs in San Anton' earlier this month. If the Lakers play anywhere NEAR that level in the playoffs, home court edge will be irrelevant vs the Spurs, although chasing them down in the race for best record would most likely seal the deal. The genius of Phil Jackson (and Laker management) was clearly shown in the willingness to PAMPER Bynum during the fall & let him take his sweet time in returning to form. Drew had to suck it up & play through pain in last year's playoffs...this season he hasnt even had his knee drained yet, though that remains an option during the playoffs if necessary.

As a longtime Laker fan, it is especially gratifying (and not at all surprising) to see the aging Celtics circling the drain after Doc Rivers made such a big deal about getting home-court advantage. Even as the season started it sounded totally presumptuous of him to expect the AGING trio of Allen/Garnett/Pierce to have the best record AND still be fresh in May & June. The only reason Boston peaked in May & June last year was because they COASTED the second-half of the season, barely going .500 after the All-Star break.

The ill-advised Perkins trade has also badly hurt the team's chemistry, which is apparent to anyone who has watched them meltdown in the 4th-quarter of recent games vs the Pacers, Bobcats & Grizz. Even the Love-less T-Wolves erased a 25-point deficit & nearly beat the badly fading Celts. Add to that the fact that Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was the architect of the Celt's lockdown defense that helped them win the 2008 title & Boston is dead-in-the-water. Even if they beat the chemistry-challenged Heat, the Celts will NOT beat the Bulls...Chicago & Miami are the FUTURE of the Eastern Conference & Boston is clearly the PAST. Lakers>Bulls in 6 games for the 3-PEAT." -- Verballistic

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest keeps Spurs guard Manu Ginobili at bay with a well-placed elbow during their game last month at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Tmes

 
Comments () | Archives (30)

The comments to this entry are closed.

re: all of the Fish bashing.

http://www.dailynews.com/lakers/ci_17711178

snippet:
EL SEGUNDO - Every season, or so it seems lately, Lakers fans line up to criticize the play of Derek Fisher.

They complain on sports talk shows, email letters to the editor and vent their frustrations on the Internet, which makes Phil Jackson smile a little.

"He knows how to execute the skills that are necessary in the offense we run," the Lakers' coach said Saturday when asked what he likes about Fisher's play.

snippet:
Jackson chuckled when asked about the complaints that Fisher can't stay in front of the elite point guards in the NBA, including the New Orleans Hornets' Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder or Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls.

Even the top guards can't stay in front of each other, according to Jackson.

"All these guys are dynamic point guards who can speed up the game and also score," he said. "This offense (the triangle) doesn't require that, it requires the point guard to be a quarterback of sorts, but he doesn't have to score the touchdowns."

hobbit says: Well, I think that's pretty conclusive.

ps. KobeMVP888, feel free to quote me the next time you defend D-Fish.
:) [ olive branch. *chuckle* ]

MVP honors and Kobe are like oil and water, just don't mix well:

Kobe is an attacking player, attack first, all out frontal assault, no prisoners, ninja assassin, a lone wolf. Because of these traits it makes it difficult for others to see him as a MVP material, just not in his DNA, so be it. This town is just not big enough for Kobe's solo act, let alone include his team mates in this saga of Kobe as a MVP. There is something about Kobe that just does not equate to MVP honors. So instead go win the 6th!!

I would like to praise MM for making some changes in the blog. In the past few threads yesterday, I noticed there were fewer threads released and allowed posters to converse, reply to one another within a thread dealing with various subject matters including cats and dogs. I think this is more preferable than going thru several threads interrupting conversation among passionistas and commentaristas. Yesterday, the topic was on cats and dogs, today will it be about the vanishing male testosterone vs. diminishing aging women libido? Just asking....

It is not hard to know more than kobe because he only has a high school education.
Posted by: island priest | March 28, 2011 at 05:11 PM

Wow! You post A LOT of ridiculous rants that make no sense but that has to be one of the most ignorant post I have read on this blog in a long time. You obviously live in a bubble and have never stepped outside of that bubble and know nothing about intelligence outside of what the system brainwashed you to think.

Did you know that he speaks fluent Italian &Spanish, how many languages do you speak? He had a SAT score of 1080 that must mean something to a puppet that thinks like you? I’m sure the guy could have been whatever he wanted to be and would have been that. Kobe is the most intelligent and fundamentally complete player to ever play the game period!

I guarantee he is more cultured and worldly than you could ever hope to be. I think he made a wise business decision to not go to college just like Bill Gates. Watch Good Will Hunting and come out of the bubble:)

Island the only thing you own is the most ignorant puppet of the blog!

Posted by: hobbitmage | March 29, 2011 at 09:02 AM

glad that you quote Phil and here is another nugget from Phil after a loss to Heat:

"I like to see everybody involved in the game," Jackson said. "I've tried to preach as a basketball coach, even though we have a guy that dominates the ball in Kobe, basketball is not a one on one game — it's a team game."

Posted by: hobbitmage | March 29, 2011 at 09:02 AM

glad that you quote Phil and here is another nugget from Phil after a loss to Heat:

"I like to see everybody involved in the game," Jackson said. "I've tried to preach as a basketball coach, even though we have a guy that dominates the ball in Kobe, basketball is not a one on one game — it's a team game."

Edwin,
Maybe today we can do Anarchy. That way we get chaos AND Dogs and Cats sleeping together!! This 4 days between games just isn't good for us. Heck, I might be forced to watch a portland game just to get a mild fix!

JR

NBA4ever,

I agree with all your points on the ignorance of island priest. I have to point out that your examples are horrible. Bill Gates did go to college, he just didn't finish. It is true that Kobe, like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, don't have a college degree and are still highly intelligent people. A college degree doesn't make you smart, there are millions of examples out there.

Your other example of the movie Good Will Hunting, while correct, is a fictional movie. I think a better example would have been The Pursuit of Happyness.

It is true that Kobe, like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, don't have a college degree and are still highly intelligent people. A college degree doesn't make you smart, there are millions of examples out there.

Posted by: rage777 | March 29, 2011 at 09:44 AM

Please lets not get too carried away with lumping Kobe with Bill and Mark, what a riot!!

Kobe has spoiled us so much that nobody's mentioned that he has passed KA Jabbar with the most games played as a Los Angeles Laker. His most recent game was the 1,094th of his career, one more than Kareem. Longetivity, durability and reliability are the results of hard work, dedication to one's craft and professionalism. The great talent that Kobe has been blessed with has been shepherded by him into an incredible career. His talent and his unprecedented work ethic is a hard combination to top.

Is Manu trying to kiss Ron's Bicep?

Verballistic,

Congratulations on winning The Friedman. Nice comment.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

@Rage777

My examples are horrible? I don’t know about that. They were more tongue & cheek examples. What did Gates go for one year? The point was he made a smart business decision and because he doesn’t have a piece of paper that doesn’t make him any less intelligent. As far as Good Will Hunting I think that is a perfect example of my point, you can be self educated at a high level without the institution. Your example of The Pursuit of Happiness is a horrible example for the point that I was trying to make. That movie is an example of determination and persistent work ethic with a few breaks being in the right place at the right time can get you far.

Popovich resting his players brings to mind last year's controversy when Cleveland chose to rest LeBrawn at the end of the season. Fans complained that they had paid good money to attend a Cav game only to find that Brawny wouldn't be playing because he needed "rest".

Because the 1st round of the playoffs seem to last forever, it would make sense for David Stern to arrange for the regular season to end on a Friday, and for the playoffs to begin 8 days later, on the Saturday. This would give teams time to heal nagging injuries, gameplan and begin the postseason refreshed. It would also eliminate some of the necessity to "rest" players. And it would give the media a whole week to get the hype machine rolling. As things stand now, the season usually ends on a Tues. or Weds, and the playoffs begin the following Saturday. Not much chance for the players to catch their breath.

The first round could then be compressed and finished in 2 weeks instead of the 3 weeks it usually takes now. I think something like this would be more fan considerate in regards to late season decisions to "rest" star players and at the same time allow players to compete at a higher level once the playoffs start.

Congrats, Verballistic on the Friedman! Well said!

Is Manu trying to kiss Ron's Bicep?

Posted by: Mark G | March 29, 2011 at 10:09

LOL...Mark G!!

The triceps need love too.

Sincerely,

Manu

RANDOM THOUGHTS . . .


LAKERS ...

#1 SEED IN THE WEST ~~
The Spurs are working through injuries to their "big three" (nothing serious, but certainly nagging), amidst three games in the upcoming week versus Boston, @Houston, and @Atlanta. Include the 4/12 game @Lakers and you have a scenario that definitely favors LA. [Tie-breaker would favor Lakers by the way. Season series would be even at 2-2 if LA wins 4/12 game, so next tie-breaker would be conference records, which would favor LA.]


#2 MVP FOR KOBE ~~
With two weeks left in the regular season, a shift can be felt in MVP sentiment similar to the last (only) time Kobe won league MVP. You might recall the 2008 race hinged on which team finished with the better record (LA or NO) as the swing votes followed that outcome. Now we see Kobe and D Rose becoming the finalists. IF LA finishes with the best record in the NBA, I would not be surprised to see Kobe win the MVP in a close race.

PERSONAL ...
1. Exactly 168 hours ago, my first grandchild was born! What an incredible first week of Grandfatherhood I have enjoyed! Thanks again to all the well wishes here.


2. EDWIN: I always appreciate your Elder Statesmanship here. You have contributed so many good things through the years. Regarding KOBEMVP888, I have always enjoyed mutual respect with him. In your efforts to help move things along, I just wanted you to know that.


3. KOBEMVP888 & HOBBITMAGE: You both possess great analytical minds. Perhaps you both would do well to just pass on the temptation to over-analyze one anothers perceived tones. I for one would love to see you both keep your keen focus on B-ball matters which leads to consistently amazing analysis and thoughts. I make it a habit around here to not take sides in any disputes. But, I want you both to know that there are a lot of us who look forward to your posts when they center on your B-ball observations and analysis.

LakerMike

@"Verb..." Congrats on The Friedman.

The Lakers are so darn good -from the top down - that they're "under-appreciated." They're so darn good that they cause Lakers fans to want more! Funny thing is this: in June, they almost always deliver :-) Thank you Lakers!

"We're worried about our execution. That's all we did then and that's all we'll do now." #24 K. Bryant


"Everything about the Lakers is geared toward winning playoff games. It's what they do." J.A. Adande


"Even when we didn’t make the playoffs, I thought we'd win the championship." Dr. Buss


Go Lakers & In Buss We Trust!!


[repost]

I just watched the Lakers Classic Kobe's 62 against Dallas. Here are a few of my thoughts from the game:

-Del Harris looks the same as he did when he coached Kobe during his rookie year.

-DJ Mbenga sighting.

-Laron Profit looks very similar to Kobe. I'm not talking about his game. I'm talking about their body structures. If you put Kobe's face on Laron's body or vice versa, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. [Laron Profit was one of my favorites coming off the bench. Sucks he got a season ending injury that year and was waived. I wish him the best.]

-Andrew Bynum (a healthy Andrew Bynum) didn't check into the game until 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter. He sat most of the game farthest down the bench.

-Kobe gave Dirk a black eye when he flailed his arms after being fouled. I believe this sort of action was a precursor for Kobe being suspended after he gave Ginobli a black eye doing a similar play.

-Before the crowd was chanting "M-V-P", they were chanting "Ko-Be."

Other thoughts:
I know a lot of people gripe about the Smush Parker days, but I never thought he was that bad of a player. He did have his tantrums and other attitude problems but I think people, including Kobe, expected too much from him. [Hell, who didn't Kobe throw under the bus?] For being undrafted and signed from the summer league only to receive a minimum salary, Smush did overachieve. He would have been a decent back-up. It's not his fault management couldn't sign better players.

Edwin - Thanks for the feedback. I don't ever want to set a quota for threads particularly if there's news but I don't want to over saturate either. Hopefully this is the appropriate amount

@Verballistic – congrats on the Friedman RCOTD. Yes, the Celtics are on life support, but I wouldn’t bury them just yet…at least not until I get to see them with Shaq and JO.

@Bronx LF – Good take on the Bulls. Their defense is great but I don’t know if it’s enough to overcome their offensive deficiencies and make it to the finals.

@MVP – I would say the Bulls defense is much better than OKC’s was last year.

@LTLF - I’ve heard Kobe throw Smush under the bus several times and most recently about a week ago he referenced Smush negatively on an article MM posted here on the blog. We all know Smush had a lot of short comings, but like Mud said, he overachieved for a guy that was undrafted. Kobe should take pride in what he helped Smush accomplish. I just don’t see any point in denigrating him now.

Bay to LA

I thought came to mind about PJ offering specifics and appeasing people who want answers to questions. I don't know if you saw the pre-game show before the Hornets game, but Bill McDonald asked Philip to address the recent poor play of the bench and LO's role in it. PJ gave a very specific answer. Actually I was very surprised how to the point he was!

Phil basically took blame for the bench's poor play because he was not using Lamar properly in the offense with the second unit. As always, Phil's main concern is execution on offense because as LakerTom has repeatedly pointed out, the Lakers are most effective when their offense sets up their defense. PJ said that when Lamar plays with the starters, he is more effective because he plays a guard position on offense, whereas he plays a wing position with the second unit. The main reason is that Kobe is a big guard at 6'6" with long arms, so with LO in the lineup with the starters, Kobe often plays the wing position on offense, whereas when Brown and Blake are on the floor, they are "small" guards, thereby necessitating LO to play a wing position. Phil then talked about possibly having Shannon Brown play the wing position when Kobe's resting, which would put LO back into his more comfortable role as a guard on offense. He felt that the second unit might execute better this way.

Like I said, I was surprised to hear Phil get THAT specific in response to Bill McDonald's question, but perhaps the whole thing was choreographed. That wouldn't surprise me either.

@MVP – I would say the Bulls defense is much better than OKC’s was last year.

Posted by: LRob | March 29, 2011 at 11:15 AM
====

I'm talking about OKC's 2010 playoffs defense. Remember Game 2 when they blocked 17 shots?! What I am saying is that OKC kicked into another gear in the playoffs, whereby I am not so sure that the Bulls have another gear beyond what they are doing in the regular season. We'll see. Don't get me wrong. The Bulls were my pre-season favorites to come out of the East and I still think that they have a great shot at it.

I am just saying that if we should face them in the NBA Finals, we'll be ready for everything that they throw at us but I don't think that they're at the level to match what Kobe & Company will throw back at them. Yes, their head coach has witnessed what the Lakers are capable of, but much like Gasol and Odom had a learning curve in 2008, Noah, Deng and even Rose will have one this season. Boozer is their only Lakers-playoff tested player, but you know how we match up against him.

ODOM'S ROLE . . .


KobeMVP888, I had the same reaction when I heard Jackson answer that question with such self-incrimination. It was both refreshing and enlightening. (Made me immediately think of you, LAKERTOM, as I wondered if this signaled the possibility of that "big" lineup bantered about off and on the past couple of seasons (Drew/Gasol/Odom on the floor together). Not sure if BillyMac tips his hand to Jackson before they go on air or not. Knowing Jackson, I doubt it matters. He is one of the best I have ever seen who can think on his feet when dealing with the media.


As far as Odom's role with the bench, I really think the issue is as simple as two things:
--MADE SHOTS: when the outside jumpers fall, they look great.
--HUSTLE PLAYS: seems like Barnes absence and the transitioning back into game shape have effected the overall energy of the bench.
No matter which role Odom fills (guard or wing), when the shots are falling and the energy is high, the bench (Odom/Barnes/Blake/Brown) are a potent weapon.

LakerMike

When the Lakers were struggling, it was important to remember that it is a long, long season. Every team goes through flat stretches. Every team deals with injuries (Kobe, Drew, Barnes, etc). When Miami came out the gate strong, or when they went through their losing streaks, it all got magnified beyond proportion.

Now it is San Antonio's turn, having seemingly all their injuries at once. But the Spurs are still a great veteran team, and those guys will be back. It's a bit early to count on the best record, or even the second or third best. Any team can get hot. The Lakers could still stumble to the finish line. That's why the play 'em.


But the point is, when all dust settles, the Lakers have weathered a long Bynum-less stretch, and long periods where Kobe was at less than full strength, and the lack of a healthy back up center, and some periods where they lacked focus. And yet here they are, right where they belong, battling for one of the top spots in the HCA battle.


It's a long season, and quality shows over 82 games.

PLAYOFF ENERGY . . .


KobeMVP888, you raise a valid point about the Bulls defensive effort being at a high level PRIOR to playoffs. It seems that their success level has peaked. Watching them play, I cannot imagine them giving MORE than what they currently do. Especially Rose/Noah/Gibson... those three work non-stop. I don't see "another level" for them to raise their intensity to come playoff time.


But other teams like Lakers, Boston, etc. definitely have another "intensity gear" left to them. I believe this is why the Lakers have such an advantage come playoff time. All season long the Lakers get other teams' "playoff intensity gear". Then the when playoffs arrive, the Lakers expectations of their opponent are easily and accurately calibrated to regular season games, whereas their opponent face a very different experience in Laker's intensity.


This is why I believe teams like OKC and Portland may be difficult to beat, but not a serious threat. We get their BEST during the REGULAR season, while they get our... whatever. Come playoff time, the "intensity field" is leveled off and suddenly those teams hatred for Lakers is matched by Lakers hunger to win. Advantage LA.

LakerMike

@MVP/LRob
I still think the Celtics will come out of the East. Though I think OKC did kick their defense up a gear in last year’s playoffs and with the addition of Perkins they will be even more formidable I don’t think they have the depth of experience needed yet to get over the hump.

The Bulls on the other hand have been in some grind it out series. Can’t forget that epic series they had against Boston in 2009. With the addition of a tested Boozer and the knowledge of Tom Thibodeau I think they can beat the Heat but may need one more year to get past Boston if the Celts are at full strength with Shaq.

The only team that can match the Lakers is the Celtics with their depth and experience. The Spurs have all the same credentials as the Lakers and Celtics I just don’t know if they have the system and defense to get it done in the playoffs. All of this is assuming everyone is healthy on every team. Saying all that, I think this year we roll into the Finals and out of them as the 2011 NBA Champions

the celtics,like the spurs look tired.But i am not to count either out of the confrence finals.if shaq can give the chowds 20-25 minutes, they can slip through.i don't think they can beat the bulls. when timmy comes back,the spurs HAVE TO play a half court game. i think their up-tempo game was just to rest the bigs and get a good berth for the playoffs. i think the lakers are playing so well that 3 or 4 days off may rest everyone, but the timing is such a fragile thing that i hope they find it in the first half or else run the risk of playing catch-up. i just love to see cuban lose to the lakers.


>>> I’ve heard Kobe throw Smush under the bus several times and most recently
>>>about a week ago he referenced Smush negatively on an article MM posted
>>>here on the blog.

There's a difference between commenting on the skill level of an ex teammate and throwing them under the bus.


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