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Lakers have strong record in closeout games

61205634The trend is as reliable as a Lakers sellout game.

The performances become as notable as the Laker flags waving all around Los Angeles.

And the record reveals about the same dominance as the Lakers' 16 NBA championships.

Ever since Phil Jackson took over as the Lakers' head coach in the 1999-2000 season, he has gone 27-7 in closeout games, a good sign for the Lakers entering Game 6 Thursday at New Orleans, where they have a 3-2 series lead. Because of differing personnel, it's misleading to look at the 12-2 closeout mark the Lakers' three-peat teams established in their 2000 to 2002 championship years, pointless to revisit Jackson's only major blip when the Lakers blew a 3-1 series lead to the Phoenix Suns in 2006 and even wonder why it took seven games before the Lakers beat the Houston Rockets in the 2009 semifinals since the defending champions have gone 8-1 in closeout games the last season.

The most valuable blueprint on how the Lakers can close out their first-round series against New Orleans and face the winner between Dallas and Portland in the West Semifinals beginning Monday points to the 2010 postseason, considering their entire starting lineup and Lamar Odom remain on the team. They went 4-0 during closeout games with Game 6 victories against Oklahoma City (first round) and Phoenix (West Finals), a sweep against Utah (West semifinals) and winning that memorable seventh game against Boston (NBA Finals). Below the jump are a few areas the Lakers perfected in closing out the series on the first opportunity.

Clutch performances 

Pau Gasol let out a roar. Kobe Bryant waved his hands like an airplane in front of Phoenix Coach Alvin Gentry. And Ron Artest blew kisses to the Staples Center crowd after making a game-defining three-pointer against Boston. Yes, as clich├ęd as it sounds, closeout games feature clutch performances. Gasol made a game-winning putback in the Lakers' 95-94 Game 6 victory April 30 against Oklahoma City. Bryant and Gasol teamed up for 55 points in the 111-96 Game 4 win May 10 over Utah. Bryant and Artest combining for 52 points in the 111-103 Game 6 win May 29 over Phoenix. And Artest's Game 7 against Boston earned him good graces among the Lakers faithful and led to one of the most memorable postgame press conferences.

The Lakers' closing out against New Orleans might require the same type of effort, whether it's Bryant dominating again despite a sprained left ankle or Gasol and Andrew Bynum maintaining their aggressiveness inside. Considering Bryant has scored at least 30 points in eight closeout road games during his 15-year career, it's a pretty good bet that could happen again.

Overcoming lapses

Laker fans can laugh about it now, but the anxiety level reached an all-time high when they saw Sasha Vujacic's elbow to Goran Dragic suddenly lead to the Phoenix Suns slashing a double-digit deficit and remaining competitive in the game. Bryant, in a serious look, told TNT's Craig Sager, "I'm still going to kill him." But it's good Bryant decided to hold off because Vujacic hit two free throws to clinch the Lakers' Game 7 victory over Boston. None of these closeout games has ever been perfect. But the Lakers managed to avoid lapses in play that resulted in a loss.

Bryant airballed a potential game-winner against Oklahoma City, but Gasol made that a non-issue by delivering the putback. The Utah Jazz sliced a double-digit lead into single digits in the fourth quarter and Bynum didn't do his part in exploiting the Lakers' size advantage, finishing with only six points on two-of-six shooting. But the heroics from Bryant and Gasol made that a non-issue. The contentiousness between Vujacic and Dragic almost set off an international criss in Slovenia, but there was no crisis in Phoenix thanks to Bryant and Artest lighting it up from the outside. And Bryant was on the verge of tainting his legacy with 23 points on six-for-24 shooting, but timely shots from Artest, Vujacic, Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol and 15 rebounds from Bryant himself helped offset the poor shooting night. It's very plausible the Lakers will meet different challenges against New Orleans, whether it's Chris Paul proving to be unstoppable, Bryant experiencing setbacks with his ankle or Gasol's increased aggressiveness fading, but the Lakers have plenty of other talent and resiliency to make up for it on other ends.

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Kobe Bryant avoids the block attempt of Hornets power forward Carl Landry before throwing down a dunk in Game 5 of their playoff series on Tuesday night at Staples Center. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / April 26, 2011

 
Comments () | Archives (15)

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testing

Hi Lew,

Why am I left off the roll call? I know I havent been here that often but still :(

It's game day, time to close this out in 6 games. I will be at working so I am sad to be missing the game. Can't wait for round 2 to start. Here is to praying the blazers win


Next!

dreaded re-post...
Nice job on the game day Roll Call Lew, as always!
Congrats on the Friedman TNTLakerFan - totally agree - I wanna see a steady diet of Lakers post-ups tonight, be it Drew, Pau, Kobe, Ron or Lamar - post those ****ers up!
I Love Lakers Close-Out Opportunities - best TV in sports!
I Love that Kobe still never fails to amaze us.
I Loved Heisler's "Kobe Rules" piece and this little byte from Kobe:
As for his tomahawk dunk over Emeka Okafor, Bryant said, "It looked like he was going to challenge me at the rim, so I accepted the challenge."
Challenge Accepted! Time To Close-Out! Winning Time!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od9FkRvvnrg

CP3 will be CP3 no matter who is guarding him; he dropped 31 points on Rondo, who is on the 2010 All-Defensive First Team.

Shut down Ariza, Landry and Okafur, and we will be fine.

What a shocker. One of the fouls I hardly even noticed has been upgraded to a Flagrat 1 against Kobe last game. They should re-evaluate EVERY non-call when Kobe is hammered if they are going to pull a stunt like this. The transparent Hatred toward Kobe by the NBA is out of control. Instead of letting the NBA fans around the world savor "The Dunk," they decide to distract from it with this load of crap:

http://lakers.ocregister.com/2011/04/28/kobes-foul-reclassified-as-type-1-flagrant-foul/53613/

@888 - Larry Brown, who is a defense-oriented coarch, recently remarked that will these restrictive 'Stern rules', the college game is now much more physical than the NBA.

"What a shocker. One of the fouls I hardly even noticed has been upgraded to a Flagrat 1 against Kobe last game. They should re-evaluate EVERY non-call when Kobe is hammered if they are going to pull a stunt like this. The transparent Hatred toward Kobe by the NBA is out of control. Instead of letting the NBA fans around the world savor "The Dunk," they decide to distract from it with this load of crap:

http://lakers.ocregister.com/2011/04/28/kobes-foul-reclassified-as-type-1-flagrant-foul/53613/

Posted by: KobeMVP888 | April 28, 2011 at 01:34 PM "

Yeah I don't like the idea of going back after the fact and making calls in games, especially since it is too late to change anything. It did look like a pretty obvious flagrant to me but if the three officials on the court don't think it was, why worry about it now? They can't go back and give New Orleans the ball out of bounds and they also can't change any of the other calls that were made incorrectly. Either we have human error in the games or we don't. The league needs to make up their mind.

Since this was announced, I guess Shannon is off the hook for his elbow? In the only similar case I can remember, Trevor Ariza got an ejection and one game suspension for a missed elbow swing last year.

Blow out, Hose out, Close out...let's do this tonight.

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

Here are some clips:

Kobe foul switched to flagrant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IphZ7D_EWCQ

Shannon Brown elbow attempt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlwNp0cvAys

Trevor Ariza elbow (ejected and suspended) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nrgd5v184Xs

"There ought to be a law - only teams that have been at least to the Finals should be allowed to chant 'Beat LA' in their arenas. Otherwise, it cheapens the experience..."-The Snake

YESSSSSSS! My choice for RCOTD.

Can't stop the Lakers from closing it out tonight:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfOdWSiyWoc

The Snake

I have watched plenty of NBA basketball since 1968. If you watch games from the 70's, the defenses were like sieves compared to now and even in the late 90's with the physical Bad Boy Pistons, the scores were much higher. I respectfully disagree with Larry Brown and anyone else who argues that players aren't as physical as they used to be. Refs simply don't call all the banging that goes on in the paint, and there's a ton of that. The players today are more muscular, too. A player like Nene and Kenyon Martin, for example, are as physical or more physical than bigs from yesteryear, but those observations go unmentioned. Tell me that Okafor and Carl Landry aren't physical players.

As for the college game, that had to be a tongue in cheek comment by LB given how atrocious college basketball has become since the new "one and done" requirement for star high school players. Maybe it's just me, but this year's NCAA tournament resembled basketball that was a cut above good high school basketball.

Anyway, there are a whole generation of fans who will put the Jordan era in its own stratosphere no matter what. In all sports, the athletes become bigger, faster, stronger and more athletic with each passing generation. That applies to the NBA just as it does to Major League Baseball and the NFL. They may have permitted harder fouls back then, but the possession-to-possession physical contact seems greater to me now than it did back then. How often do we complain about our bigs and Kobe getting hammered without a call? If they called that stuff, the bigs would back off, our bigs would be dunking all day, and you wouldn't see such low scoring games. I just don't agree with it.

Yeah I don't like the idea of going back after the fact and making calls in games, especially since it is too late to change anything. It did look like a pretty obvious flagrant to me but if the three officials on the court don't think it was, why worry about it now? They can't go back and give New Orleans the ball out of bounds and they also can't change any of the other calls that were made incorrectly. Either we have human error in the games or we don't. The league needs to make up their mind.

Since this was announced, I guess Shannon is off the hook for his elbow? In the only similar case I can remember, Trevor Ariza got an ejection and one game suspension for a missed elbow swing last year.

Posted by: Bay to LA | April 28, 2011 at 01:52 PM
====

Like I said, I barely even noticed it when I watched it. Such crap.

"Like I said, I barely even noticed it when I watched it. Such crap.

Posted by: KobeMVP888 | April 28, 2011 at 02:02 PM "

I noticed it and was VERY surprised they didn't call it. They have been calling flagrants for much less than that lately. There is so much inconsistency on how the game is called from game to game.

Just a few good men: As lakers continue to role through the Nba playoff i will hope that the management is doing what it could to keep the rest of the coaching staff intact for when Phil Jackson leave,i also hope that Phil would still make a contribution to to the team in one way or the other.I think that Brian Shaw would be a good headcoach and with Jim Cleamons and Frank Hamblen additions the Lakers will be a likely contender for another Nba title next year.Sir Alex Ferguson have coached Manchester United one of the top club team in the world for about 20 years and he is still doing a good job coaching the team,he has won every major trophy in football,he has won about 19 or more premier league titles,2 champions league and a world club competition all that to his resume,and i dont want to mention domestic trophies.So Phil Jackson should be given some kind of post within the Lakers organisations,there are a few good men remaining.


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