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Lakers' confident attitude may come back to haunt them

In painstaking detail, Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons outlined the scouting report to his players prior to Game 4 of their series against New Orleans with heavy emphasis shutting off the driving lanes for Hornets forwards Carl Landry and Trevor Ariza.

In return, the Lakers allowed them in their 93-88 Game 4 loss Sunday to New Orleans to combine for 35 points on 14-of-28 shooting, just one example of the disconnect between the Lakers recognizing a problem but failing to properly execute it.

"They make me look awfully smart, but at the same time, it's a shame," Cleamons said. "We didn't slide our feet and take the drive away. If that's my observation, I want you to make this adjustment. That's what I'm telling you. Do I have to treat you like a four year old, hit your knuckles or get the whip out? It's a shame, but sometimes you make it harder on yourself."

The Lakers are well accustomed to fitting that storyline. They enter Game 5 Tuesday at Staples Center against New Orleans with a 2-2 series, replacing a lost opportunity in taking control of a series with the possibility that their season-wide complacency could catch up to them.

Yet, the Lakers don't appear worried. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson spent plenty of his time with reporters throwing zingers, even though he had spent the previous night saying the Hornets "punked us" in Game 4. He split hairs about his characterization that the Lakers lacking "desperation" isn't the same as the team lacking "effort" or "urgency." And during an unpleasant four-four flight that involved the team landing in Los Angeles at 3:30 and Kobe Bryant receiving around-the-clock treatment on his sprained left ankle, Jackson couldn't help but find good humor amid all the negativity.

"The state department was landing the same time we were," Jackson said, "so we know the government is working for you, even if the Lakers aren't."

The Lakers' even keeled nature during adversity considering that philosophy has proved largely instrumental in securing back-to-back championships. But it's also given them a false sense of invincibility, believing any lapse in play can immediately be rectified at the flip of a switch. I've outlined in detail before how that notion is misguided, but the Lakers' playoff history has validated their feeling they can play roulette with their playoff fortunes.

It was only a year ago when the Lakers had a 2-2 series against Oklahoma City and Bryant wondered why reporters were wondering if the Lakers' "backs are against the wall," answering with an overwhelming Game 5 victory en route to first-round win in six games and ultimately an NBA championship. It was only two years ago when the Lakers went a full seven games with the Houston Rockets despite the absence of Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutumbo and Tracy McGrady, testing the insanity level of every Laker fan out there. But after a pendulum swing between boredom and effort between games, the Lakers ultimately prevailed. This time, the Lakers are making it harder for themselves again.

"We've been playing this style of basketball all year. It would've been nice to sweep them over there and finish it off, but it didn't happen for us, Lakers center Andrew Bynum said. OKC just surprised the heck out of us. we didn't realize they were capable of putting together games like they did. tTis team, we were able to win four teams , but they learned from it."

Yes, the Hornets learned that the Lakers' size advantage only works if the Lakers are actually aggressive, making them an unreliable factor all series, preventing them from making offensive rebounds for a near three-quarter stretch and beating them 20-4 in second-chance points, a statistic Jackson said "made a big difference in the game." The Lakers instead, as indicated by Cleamons, are fending off for themselves. They're tuning him out on defensive assignments. Bryant is refusing diagnostic test, including an MRI and X-rays on his left ankle, even though it'd give him and the medical staff a better idea of the severity of his injury and won't jeopardize his playing status for Game 5. And Lakers forward Pau Gasol seems reluctant in taking charge of a leadership role, leaning on the fact Bryant will likely play instead of using it as an opportunity to help alleviate his workload.

This attitude may not hurt the Lakers in this round. But it could against the likes of Portland or Dallas, Oklahoma City or anyone in the Eastern Conference, all teams that will present greater challenges than Chris Paul and the Hornets can present. Hopefully for the Lakers, they'll be awake by then.

"They certainly play better when they're in a desperate mode," Jackson said. "There's no doubt about that. we've had times in the season where we go out and do the job we're requierd to do. this particular night we didn't fulfill it all the way through."

--Mark Medina

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

 
Comments () | Archives (42)

The comments to this entry are closed.

umm Medina, how bout you approve your 'moderated' posts before putting up another article? oy vey

I can't believe I'm saying this....but I agree with the PSP.

Now I need to go gargle - excuse me please....

JAMF - Getting tests don't take long and not doing it gives the medical staff a disadvantage on what they might need to do to treat it. If they don't know the exact severity of it, it makes it harder to do their job. Bottom line is the medical staff has deferred to Kobe and given him the space when need be, the least he can do is give them that same courtesy

JAMF

Would the said gargling be to rinse the PSP or MM out? Or both?

Thanks
PSP Intern

Let's do this tonight Lakers. Take care of business.

You guys lose tonight and all hell will break loose.

Go Lakers!

So, I thought I would put my two cents worth in on the Bynum/Howard issue(s).

First of all, when two GMs make a trade they do it with their team's interests in mind. So, right now, ignoring opt out situations et al, who in their right mind would trade superstar Howard for an injured Bynum straight up? The Orlando GM is not stupid. The next CBA will probably be even more restrictive than it is now, so the salaries don't match for one thing, nevermind the relative body health.

Now there is always a possibility AB will be uninjured the next 8 years or so (I hope and root for this - as I know personally what these injuries he endures does to a mediocre player nevermind a potential star like AB), but history tells us not to bet the ranch on it. GMs are mostly pessimists, so they are reluctant to waste their owner's money on gambles. Jerry Buss is one of the few actual gamblers who owns a team. Most owners are in it for the fun of saying they have a pro team (boyhood egos and rush most of us males have), but they got rich by not doing stupid moves in their investments/careers. So, if I am a GM, I see certain stats and health history comparisons that are not identical, as a starting point for evaluation of a trade.

OK, so we have three strikes against a Bynum for Howard trade as I have stated above. Health/salary mismatch/upside vs current abilities. Without some significant throwin, the Lakers cannot get what JIM Buss thinks AB is worth! And quit with the Luke trade/throwin garbage! NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WANTS LUKE (who I have always liked, but is way overpaid for his worth on any other team, with his present skill set)!

Now, the Lakers do have one and realistically only one major trade asset, which is Pau. On certain other teams Pau could utilize his 'finesse' game once again like he did in Memphis. That makes him very valuable to those teams who may be interested in that style (any D'Antoni team for example). Although Pau is lumbering slow in a transition game, he still has enough skills for a mid-range game to interest some GM somewhere.

AND QUIT WITH THE KOBE TRADE GARBAGE ALSO! Kobe will retire a Laker, period.

So, if Orlando had it in their mind to trade Howard to the Lakers, Pau would be the only asset they could really consider. Of course that would mean they would have to run a small game, as Pau really has never proven himself to be anything other than a 4 standing in the 5 spot on any team he played for.

Bottom line, we must root for AB to get healthy, because nobody is going to gift us a perrenial All-Star 5/center like Howard. We have no attractive add-ins to give someone to make the salaries match either. Pau for Howard or someone like that would be the only Orlando trade they may even answer the phone to consider. AB is here for the duration (or some trade like AB for someone like Gortat), so we need to root for his health as we do Kobe's.

"If they don't know the exact severity of it, it makes it harder to do their job. Bottom line is the medical staff has deferred to Kobe and given him the space when need be, the least he can do is give them that same courtesy

Posted by: Mark Medina | April 26, 2011 at 09:19 AM
"

YES! The only professional way to do this. They can keep his medical stuff private anyway (HIPPA).

[REPOST] WHERE IS OUR GAME DAY SPIRIT TODAY

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LOS ANGELES LAKERS GAME DAY
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WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS
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LOS ANGELES LAKERS vs NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
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April 24, 2011 Round 1 - Game 5
Venue: Staples Center
Series: LA 2 - NO 2
Game Time: 7:30 PST
TV: FSW, TNT

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LA TIMES LAKERS BLOG ROLL CALL
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[_|___|__|___|__|__|__|__|__|__\
|____ LAKERS 3 PEAT BUS _\__\__
l__________________________----l
\_(O)-(O)____________(O)-(O)___/

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Rick Friedman – This Season is Dedicated to You!
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Cornell - Kobe is a warrior. He knows if he can play or not.


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THE LAKER NATION WILL PREVAIL!!!
**************************************

All together now...May we stay focused and have the inner strength to reach our goal of ultimate victory. Keep us free from injuries and injustice.
Keep us strong, determined and give us the will and stamina to overwhelm any and all obstacles.
We are the Los Angeles Lakers, and we spread the FEAR.
No one can beat us but ourselves, and we say to all, bring it on!

THIS IS A MUST WIN GAME...THE BLACK MAMBA IS NOT 100%...

WE NEED THE REST OF THE TEAM TO STEP UP...

PAU GASOL YOUR NUMBER IS BEING CALLED...

LAMAR ODOM GIVE US SOME OF THAT 6TH MAN MAGIC...

RON ARTEST YOU SAID YOU HAVE KOBES BACK...

DEREK FISHER GET THEM BOYS FOCUSED AND FIRED UP...

BYNUMITE SHOW US YOU ARE THE FUTURE...

KILLER BEES STING THEM DAMN HORNETS...

LAKERS DYNASTY - THE NEXT GENERATION...

#17 COMING UP BAYBEE!!!

Complacent? Doubt it. These guys don't want to play more games than they have to. Maybe overconfident, as we all have been.

Our superstar isn't healthy enough to be super and they got a guy that's longer, quicker and knows him as well as anyone wearing another jersey. Kobe, hopefully, will defer tonight and not write checks his ankle can't support.

One thing: when Phil gets whimsical, I wonder. I wonder, if you're about to end the most prolific pro coaching career in history, are you totally focused on the present? The players have to the playing part, but the light at the end of Phil's tunnel is pretty bright right about now.

"Believe what you want. Enjoy your fantasy basketball dreams. But when the Lakers three-peat and Drew shares Finals MVP honors with Kobe, your mouth will start to get dry. Then this summer, you’ll choke on cold crow for not respecting or appreciating Drew as you watch Dwight get traded to another NBA team and Drew rewarded with a multi-year extension to keep him in purple and gold.

Here’s the question for the Drew for Dwight supporters, would you finally accept Drew as the Next Great Lakers Center if he remained healthy and we not only win the championship this year but also next year? I would like to hear some of your answers to that. Frankly, in two or three years, Dwight will be to Drew like LeBron is to Kobe. And his fans will suffer the same sad fate as LeBron’s admirers.
….………………………………………..
TOM"


Wow. There's a lot to address here.

1. If the Lakers win the title this year (and Andrew does not worsen his knee along the way), and do it again next year with a full year of Andrew playing healthy and in top form, then of course that would have to be taken into consideration. However, there isn't anything about the past that suggests the next 14 months will go down that way, so I'll reserve judgment.

2. Even if the next 14 break down the way you describe, the question at that time will simply be this: going forward, who would be the better center for the Lakers. Under your scenario, the odds the answer is "Andrew" will be substantially higher than they currently are, but the ultimate outcome will depend on how Howard has developed during that time. What if Dwight developes an even better low post game offensively to go with his defensive dominance...?

3. Andrew Bynum is not going to be the co-MVP of the Finals. I'm not sure how you can even type that with a straight face. He isn't even co-MVP of this series against a pathetic Hornets front line.

4. Your analogy of "Dwight will be to Andrew what LeBron is to Kobe" not only doesn't work--it proves the opposite point. I see no reason to accept this premise, but even for those who do, are you really suggesting that after this season or next season you would not trade Kobe Bryant for LeBron James? If not, you're crazy. You don't make personnel decisions based on past performance; you make personnel decisions based on likely future outcomes. You can look to the past to help with predictions of the future (precisely the reason many of us are concerned about Andrew from an injury standpoint...), but that alone is not dispositive. Over the next 5 to 7 years it is fairly likely that LeBron will be the better player. In their respective primes, it's Kobe hands down, but Kobe is A LOT older than LeBron, and you'd be nuts to build around Kobe if you have the chance to build around LeBron. I know that's cold and unemotional, but I think that is precisely how a G.M. has to look at the world....

Lol bcoz he (koby) thinks he can jus go out there n demand to win.... Those time r over

Posted by: God | April 26, 2011 at 09:49 AM

Excellent argument and very practical viewpoint versus views of zealot fans!

It is good to know that there exist God to protect the weak and weary from Blogs tyrants, adamant on shoving Bynum koolaids down the throats of down trodden laker fans!!

Forget about next year.
We are talking about THIS year. Our three-peat is here before us. Let's go and take it!!!
Let's go Purple and Gold!!!!! L.A. is behind you guys!!!

We have a lot of time acting as GM's after the playoffs. Right now, the problem on hand is New Orleans Hornets, the only edge we got back is the home court advantage. We need an answer for CP3, if nobody could defend, at least Lakers should outscore the Hornets at Staples. Winning means a lot to all Laker fans and it's the only thing that a player should focus.

Kobe's injured foot reeks of poor judgement all over the place.

First, the team has every right to want to know the status and extent of the injury.
Could he make it worse to the extent of being unavailable for the next series?
Could he make it worse to point of permanent damage which might shorten his career?

Maybe, maybe not, but how can the medical staff and the team mgmt make an informed decision on how to proceed?

Kobe's bullheadedness is a strength and a weakness.
Certainly he has a couple of spare hours to get the MRI or xrays.

Not only is this poor judgement on Kobes part, it is also poor judgement on mgmt's part.

They have a right to want to know the status of their $25 million man.
They have a right to order him to do it since they are the one's paying him and it's their financial investment at risk for the next few years.

That the team mgmt is not insisting on this being done shows just as poor decision making as Kobe refusing to get it done.

the best Lakers trade should be Pau Gasol to the Celtics for Rondo and Big Baby. That´s the best trade for both teams. Pau will play for a Team with te best NBA history and Lakers have a great PG and a legitimate big body in the middle. Pau Gasol will be happy, too, b/c he will play for both teams, Lakers and Celtics. Can you imagine Pau playing alongside KG, Allen and Pierce?????Wowwww.

Next year:

Lakers: Rondo, Bryant, Odom, Big Baby, Bynum
Celtics: West, Allen, Pierce, Pau, KG

I agree with green lanter. The best trade for Pau is Boston. Here in Spain want Pau playing for the Celtics with KG, Pierce and Allen. I think the Celtics will be happy with this trade.

@LEWSTRS: Thanks for the Game Day efffort! I wish I could be as hopeful, but..........

repost:

It is harder and harder to continue my Kobe worship, when this medical advice refusal seems odd to selfish, at least.............. I guess there is a ME in TEAM somewhere.

I'm not even in the mood to be gung-ho about 'game day' anymore. Almost to the point of TiVo experiment in post season, which is very bad sign.............. I almost never have a celebratory feeling when they win recently.....just a sigh of relief when the barely enough effort travesty is over and the Lakers have a W. Not a fun way to be a fan these days.........

Fan since 1957 (Minneapolis) here.

'worship' = admiration for the work ethic and take-no-prisoners drive for excellence

Posted by: NuggetsCountry | April 25, 2011 at 11:26 PM


I would love to see a full team effort resulting in a win tonight to assist our Mamba in his time of need!

He is an employee he should be forced to take the tests. Kobe’s stubbornness and his teams arrogance IS going to catch up to them. IF THEY LOOSE TONIGHT THERE WILL BE NO 3PEAT, and it’s really that simple. Post season, this team needs to be broken up. I’m really getting sick of this teams attitude, and approach to this season.

Here's a wild theory. Kobe does NOT like to discuss his injuries, but he also isn't stupid. Perhaps he privately got his MRI at some point yesterday, then privately shared it with Gary Vitti so that the treatment and subsequent taping of the foot/ankle was appropriate for the precise injury he sustained. That would be consistent with the way Kobe would want to handle something like this. Wild theory? Admittedly. A possibility? You never know.

repost:

Believe what you want. Enjoy your fantasy basketball dreams. But when the Lakers three-peat and Drew shares Finals MVP honors with Kobe, your mouth will start to get dry.
….………………………………………..
TOM

Posted by: LakerTom | April 25, 2011 at 10:48 PM

----------------

pretty bold.

i've always loved (emphasize on loved) your posts and your optimistic stance on drew, but that was a little too much. if drew can't step up and carry the burden for kobe in the first round (now), there's no chance he even gets considered for finals mvp (assuming they make it that far). i'm one of the people banking on drew to have a 50/30 game tonight, but we know that won't happen. i can't even recall if he's had a 20/20 game.

if anyone is to be mentioned in the same breath as kobe for finals mvp (again, assuming they make it that far), it would be pau... only because he has more to prove. until black mamba/swan age into their late 30's or leave this team, drew is just a role player with a huge role. he was fulfilling that role after the all star break. hell, the whole team was fulfilling their roles. and until he does that consistently, he really can't be mentioned.

we'll see how it goes tonight. i won suite tickets. first.playoff.game.EVAR.

BALLIN! #BICEPKISS

None of the Hornets or their staff are buying into all this Kobe injured ankle rutkus, it's all false propaganda. The Hornets are going after the Lakers tonight and are going to bring it all. GEAUX HORNETS!

MM - you said it yourself - "the team gives him that authority".

If he's got it, he can use it - no? The "least he can do" is NOT about having the test. The "least he can do" is focus on getting treatment so if he can go tonight he'll be as ready as possible. It's not a "courtesy to the coaching/training staff" thing. In my opinion, it's a "leave me alone so I can do everything possible to be ready to go" thing.

Now let me add what I think about THIS post. You've gone off the reservation - again. The Lakers ARE a confident bunch. They KNOW what it's going to take to achieve basketball immortality if you will. There's no "false sense of invincibility"... WTH are you talking about?? Even-keeled is just that. They don't get too high - they don't get too low. They know they can be beat and they're not taking it for granted that every team will just roll over and give them the W. Come on now... this is getting ridiculous. You've said you're not a Laker fan, just a basketball fan. I'm starting to believe the first part.

The over-confidence is the unfortunate after-effect of coming back from 3-2 deficit in last year's Finals.

It's the 'Why should we worry about losing today? After all, we came back from 3-2 against BOS, we could surely come back from 3-2 against the NOH' kind of attitude...

"we'll see how it goes tonight. i won suite tickets. first.playoff.game.EVAR.

BALLIN! #BICEPKISS


Posted by: soshibo | April 26, 2011 at 10:23 AM
"

NICE! How do you win tickets to a suite!? I would even fly in from Colorado if I could get in this way!

Okay my two cents on the Kobe “situation”. Management has given him the authority to make certain decisions regarding his body. They must be cool with him not getting the MRI otherwise they would have insisted. I see no problem with his decision or with management allowing him to make it. I’m assuming if FO suspected the injury was more severe it would not be a player option.

I expect the bigs to much more active today with Kobe picking his spots.

@Let’s Go L’s – enjoyed your post.

@Lew – Thanks for the roll call. I'm fired up and ready for game time.

I think the complacency issues on the team are exaggerated. Yes they lose to some teams they shouldn't but every single team in the NBA does. Some nights you don't have it. Some nights your opponent is just better than you.

I think some people overrate the team to the point that they think lack of effort and indifference is the only reason they're not 82-0. It's not that easy. Every once in a while, they have one of those nights where they start out making 11 out of their first 12 shots and people say that is the real team and that's the result when they actually try. If they could do that every time they felt like it, I guarantee they'd do it 82 games a season.

soshibo - have fun!! Represent!! Make noise!!

I agree with green lanter. The best trade for Pau is Boston. Here in Spain want Pau playing for the Celtics with KG, Pierce and Allen. I think the Celtics will be happy with this trade.

Posted by: Green lantern | April 26, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Imagine that ... the Green lantern agreeing with the Green lantern.

No, the Celtics would not be happy with this trade. We dont need or want a soft big. Spain is gonna have to live without Pau playing for the Celtics.

"Next year:

Lakers: Rondo, Bryant, Odom, Big Baby, Bynum
Celtics: West, Allen, Pierce, Pau, KG

Posted by: Green lantern | April 26, 2011 at 10:13 AM

I agree with green lanter. The best trade for Pau is Boston. Here in Spain want Pau playing for the Celtics with KG, Pierce and Allen. I think the Celtics will be happy with this trade.

Posted by: Green lantern | April 26, 2011 at 10:15 AM "

Did you forget to change your handle before you replied?

NICE! How do you win tickets to a suite!? I would even fly in from Colorado if I could get in this way!

Posted by: NuggetsCountry | April 26, 2011 at 10:40 AM

--------

raffle at work! =]

soshibo - have fun!! Represent!! Make noise!!

Posted by: justanothermambafan | April 26, 2011 at 10:42 AM

---------

CHYEA

Green lanter have bipolar personality (hahahahahaha) The best trade for Pau is Miami. Pau for Haaslem and ZZ.

131-92

You dont know the Green Lanters Coorp?????? In this DC Universe we have many green lanters (Hal Jordan and others....)

haha ... poor Ricky got busted! Well, we all knew it was Ricky before he even posted

It is a darn SHAME, a 3-peat opportunity does not come along often and the Lakers play like they didn't know it was the PLAYOFFS. Confidence or not, they make it a lot harder than should be; they could rest and wait for next opponent instead of prolonging this round; and worst of all they are giving the Hornets alot of CONFIDENCE. This is playoffs, play some playoffs defense, that means clean, hard fouls keep the opponents out of the lane. Playing with fire often and one of these days, the chance of 3-peat will be burned.

It's winning time Lakers...let's take care of business tonight...GO LAKERS!

@ green lantern, no team will run with 2 starting pf's. at least not successfully. and trading pau for rondo is not a realistic trade. our pg position is not our problem. our agressiveness from our bigs is our problem, big time. since the loss to denver our 2 bigs have all but abandoned their posts. they show up but thats about all. even the games we have won were not in part to them at all. they seem to have lost it. whether its aggression, effort, or interest in the game, its gone and doesnt seem to be coming back anytime soon. til then we can only hope that we catch some breaks and kobe and odom do it all. take care all

@JAMF - I'm simply being objective. When the Lakers play well, I'll praise them. When they aren't playing well, I'll criticize them. We all have different opinions, but there's no hidden agenda or ill will against the Lakers

Tonight will be a Lakers defensive masterpiece.

We cried all season long waiting for the "real" season to start. Drink it in folks. This is what a 3-peat tastes like.Oh yeah.

GO LAKERS ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

GO HORNETS!!!! WHO DAT? WE DAT!!!!! GO HORNETS!!!

Lakers aren't confident without reason, and they are more of a cool and at ease. Unlike some teams that panic the Lakers dont they have Phil Jackson's personality. Watch Kobe's greatest games http://kobegames.blogspot.com/


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