Posts Tagged ‘Rockets

17
May
09

The Nuggets are good, the sole reason the Lakers will not lose

The Lakers took possession’s off, they didn’t play defense, and they barely escaped the undermanned Houston Rockets.  What is going to happen in this next series?  According to Chuck (Sir Charles) Denver wins.  We all know the Lakers are the most talented team in the NBA, yet as we have come to ask the whole Houston series, where is the heart?  Where is the intensity?  Where is the fight?

According to everyone the Lakers will not match up with Denvers physicality, intensity, or day in and day out fight.  I beg to differ.  As I said earlier and as we all know the Lakers are deep and extremely talented.  They have a history of getting a big head and thinking that they are entitled to get to the finals again.

Going into the Houston series, the Lakers were laid back.  They had not lost to this team once during the regular season and felt as though they would walk all over them.  Game one was an eye opener as Houston stole home court and the first game.  Phil and the boys made their adjustments and went on to win games two and three.

Yao Ming goes down with an injury and the Lakers get complacent once again.  The Rockets stomp on the show and the Lakers answer back with an even bigger spanking.  Game six the Lakers had the Rockets with their back against the wall, and once again the boys in Purple and Gold got complacent.  Game seven well the Lakers new they had to come to play and that is what they did to clinch the series.

The reason the Lakers will win the Denver series is because Denver is good.  There were four must win games for the Lakers this season.  Two against Cleveland and two against Boston.   The Lakeshow won all four of those “statement” games.  When they have to come and play they will do so.  As bad as that sounds, this is the Los Angeles Lakers team we have become used to seeing.

The reason the Lakers will not be complacent to the Nuggets, because they are a good team.  The Lakers almost lost this last series to a not so good Rockets team.  If they do the same against this team, well its game over.  Due to the fact that the Nuggets are far better than the Rockets it then makes the Lakers all that much better and have them bring their intensity.

Houston was that wake-up call in which all Lakers and Laker fans were looking for.  With a small line up, it allowed Bynum to get extra minutes to get his confidence back to a level near what it was when he got injured.  A speedy Aaron Brooks helped the Lakers figure out how they best defend against the pick and roll.

If Bynum comes out and plays the way he did in game seven, the Lakers play with energy, and they guard the pick and roll the same way they shut down Brooks in game seven they will get the series 4-1.   After all that said I am hesitant in even remotely thinking that there will not be a repeat performance of games four and six from the Lakers.  Lets see what they are made of.

Buttnuggets here we come-

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10
May
09

Where is the heart?

I have been dreading opening up the laptop and pushing these keys for the last hour and a half.  Emotions running through my body as though I have been dumped, cheated on, and let down.  For ninety-one games I have sat quarter-by-quarter watching the “most talented” team in the NBA attempt to make it back to the NBA Finals and hang one more banner in the rafters of Staples Center.

All season long we knew this could be the year.  We had the pieces put into place and the motivation of being embarrassed from the previous years Finals fueling our fire.  The Lakers came out of the gates hot and on a mission.  The first fifteen games of the season, the Lakers looked unstoppable and hungry, the way King James and the Cavs look now.  Then the boys in purple and gold got complacent, got relaxed, and developed a very bad habit.  It was the first time since the departure of Shaq where the Lakers seemed as though they could score at will.  We had Bynum and Gasol putting up All Star like numbers inside.  Kobe and Fish held down the outside.  Odom and Ariza averaging double doubles.  Vuj and Farmar off the bench, making them look like the Bench Mob of the Kings back in the early 2000’s.  It was pure offense.  Yet we all know pure offense does not win Championships.

This season in Laker land was good, not great.  We did not drop a game to Cleveland of Boston. Yet in the back of my mind as much as I wanted to ignore it, we took trips on the defensive end off.  We relied to heavily on our offense.  All season long I have had to listen to Jeff Van Gundy and Marv Albert say the Lakers took plays off, settled for threes, and did not close teams out.  The Lakers would turn it on when they needed to and turn it off when they were up by sizeable leads.

All season long the Lakers would get up twenty in the fourth, have Kobe and Gasol on the bench, and some how be up by five with three left.  It even got to the point in several games where the guys knees were iced up and they had to take the ice off to bring the starters back in.

Why could the Lakers not hold the lead?  Why could the Lakers not show that intensity that we all know they are capable of?  Why do they take plays off on the defensive end?  Is it because they are too talented?  Is it bad habit?  Is it the laid back nature of this city and state I love so much?  What ever it is, it needs to change.

What I witnessed today, as Erving “Magic” Johnson said at halftime was straight up “embarrassing”.  I know I am not in that locker room, and I do not play professional sports, but seriously Lakers.  What is the deal?  You were up 2 games to 1 and Yao is out for the remainder of the playoffs.  You had a chance to put Artest and the Rockets on the ropes, yet you did not.  The game was over after the first five minuets of play.  Did you think the Rockets were going to give you the series?  Did you think they were going to just not show up?

I thought that the game one loss was a good thing for Los Angeles.  I thought it was going to be their wakeup call.  I thought it was going to fuel the fire.  I was correct, well for two games.  Yet as the Lakers have done all season long, they have blown the lead, they have let the “underdog” back in it, and given the guys in Houston confidence.

I have to hand it to Battier and Brooks.  They straight up killed it today and sent yet another message to Los Angeles.  They played great.  Houston came and laid it on us from the tip off.  As the series shifts back to Los Angeles all I can do is sit around and wait.  Wait to see how the Lakers come out, with their backs against the wall while the Rockets are playing with house money.

Can the Lakers play like we all know they can or will they play like we have seen them play all season long?  Do the Lakers have that killer instinct?  Allen Iverson said it best; “I would rather have more heart than talent any day.”  Today the heart beat out the talent.  Lets see if the talent can get that heart, lets see if there is any heart in Los Angeles.  As a die-hard fan it is difficult to question my team like this but when are they going to play the way we know they can?

I guess we will find out Tuesday at 7:30.

04
May
09

The NBA playoffs owe their excitement to Beijing…and Kobe Bryant

April through June is definitely my favorite time of the year as a sports fan.  Many would say March purely because of March Madness, and that is very hard to argue.  The difference for me is that we have baseball back, the NFL draft and the NBA playoffs.

Until last year, the NBA playoffs were just a long and boring end to a season filled with much more excitement than the playoffs could provide.  The 2004 playoffs were the last playoffs that I cared about because my team (Minnesota Timberwolves) had the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs and it seemed as if Kevin Garnett could finally get out of the first round.  They did so by beating the Denver Nuggets in 5 games and then proceeded to give me the greatest sporting experience of my life in Game 7 against Sacramento in round 2.  Unfortunately they met an immovable force in the Conference finals and lost to the Lakers 4-2.  For those of you who are staunch Lakers fans, keep two things in mind these playoffs.  First, without Minnesota, you wouldn’t have the Lakers.  So whatever success your team achieves, recognize where the talent started.  Second, even with Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers choked hard against the Pistons.  Look it up, the Pistons just stifled the heck out of Kobe and Shaq.  But that is neither here nor there.  The point of this post is to point out a part of this year’s playoffs that should make them one of the best ever.

Ever since getting together to win the summer Olympics in Beijing this past summer, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade have grown closer together as friends.  They all challenged each other while playing for the gold and, I think, had direct effects on each other’s seasons this year.  Kobe is an incredible defender and no doubt worked with Lebron and Dwayne on their defense this year.  Then magically, this year, Lebron and Dwayne had their best years defensively.  Kobe was an elder on this Olympic team and took these guys under his wing and may have created two new monsters to take over for him whenever he decides to call it quits.  They became good friends and with any good friendship comes a little competition.

It all started back on a chilly February night in New York City.  No matter how terrible its inhabitants are, Madison Square Garden still seems to be the basketball Mecca.  Whether it is rumors of Lebron coming to the MSG permanently or Nate Robinson being a more successful version of Gary Coleman, it’s the place to play.  Kobe Bryant decided that he would drop a MSG record 61 points and cause the usually hostile Knicks fans to chant “MVP, MVP!”  It was surely a sight to see.  Bryant, after the game, got a text message from his friend Lebron that was something along the lines of “Good work…but you know I’m going to try and do better”

What happened the next night at MSG?  Lebron James showed up at MSG and put up maybe the most impressive numbers of his career.  James dropped 52 points, 9 rebounds and 11 assists.  If you remember back that far, the NBA actually took away one rebound from James and stripped him of a chance to have one of the most memorable triple-doubles in NBA history.  James made good on his promise to upstage Kobe and he certainly did.  He may not have scored 61 but he definitely filled the rest of his stat sheet better than Kobe did.

Examples of how Dwayne Wade upstaged Kobe and Lebron?  Easy…Dwayne just carried his team through the regular season and to being one win away from a second round match up against friend Lebron James.  I wonder at what point Wade will have to address his chronic back and knee problems.  Having to carry an entire franchise can have its negative effects (ask Kevin Garnett and his playoff playing minutes this year).  Now that Wade is out, look for Kobe and Lebron to try and upstage each other each night until they eventually meet in the Finals.

On Monday, James was crowned the NBA MVP.  Rightfully so, he was the best player in the NBA from game 1 to game 82 and continues to dominate in the playoffs.  Many of you who read this may be Lakers/Kobe fans, I am as well, but lets be honest.  Lebron James is a monster and is better at this point in his career than Kobe Bryant was.  I can hear you now, “Well, who has more championships?”  Easy answer, both have the same amount of championships.  Lebron has been in the league for 6 years and has not won a title yet.  Kobe Bryant has been without Shaq since 2004 and hasn’t won a titled without Shaq.  He’s come close but…oh wait, so has Lebron.  So as far as I’m concerned, that argument is completely nullified by what I call the “Shaq-Factor”.  Could Lebron have won titles already if he had the most dominant center since Wilt?  We’ll never know, but I’ll just guess yes.  Until Kobe wins a title without Shaq, this argument ends in a tie.  Until Kobe gets rid of the Shaq-Factor, he and Lebron are in the same boat.

Here are my second round predictions (Celtics/Magic game just ended and I made up my mind about their series before this game 1 ended)

Magic over Celtics 4-1 (KG just matters too much.  Brian Scalabrine can only take you so far and Dwight Howard is an absolute wrecking ball)

Cavs over Hawks 4-0 (maybe 4-1 if that Hawk swoops down and brings about a phobia of birds in Lebron)

Lakers 4-1 over Rockets (Rockets sneak in a win in Houston in game 3 but that’s it.  Kobe just spanks Ron Artest for 5 games)

Denver 4-2 over Dallas (Battle of the delinquents.  Josh Howard and Jason Terry get to go home early…and something tells me that they don’t mind too much)




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