Los Angeles Lakers: Game 3

Lakers Late Night Replay - Game 3 vs. Oklahoma City

May, 19, 2012
5/19/12
12:17
AM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The Lakers got off to a great start, but from there Friday's game turned into a slugfest. In the end, though, they came out on top, effectively saving the season and giving them a chance to knot up the series Saturday night.

We broke it all down on Lakers Late Night with special guests Arash Markazi and Dave McMenamin!



Click below for all the postgame moving pictures, from Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Mike Brown, Andrew Bynum, Ramon Sessions, and Steve Blake.

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Lakers vs. Thunder, Game 3: What to watch

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
9:28
AM PT
By The Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive


There is a popular saying that a series doesn't really begin until the home team loses. History, however, says that when the home team holds serve in the first two games, the series is over. Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, teams up 2-0 have won 94.2 percent of any series. Even the Lakers, among the most successful franchises in sports history, have only won 10.5 percent (2-of-19) after falling into this hole. The last successful bucking of the odds required a miracle shot from Derek Fisher (ironically now playing for the squad looking to eliminate the Lakers). That's what ultimately made the inability to close out Game 2 even more painful. A split in Oklahoma wouldn't have put the Lakers in the driver's seat, but an upset at least would have felt somewhat feasible. Instead, a battle uphill from the outset has taken on the feel of K2.

For more thoughts on Game 3, we conducted an instant-message exchange with Royce Young from the True Hoop network's Daily Thunder blog. Below is the transcript.

Andy Kamenetzky: As much as Game 2 was about the Lakers' failure to execute down the stretch, it was also reflective of the Thunder not giving up and remaining opportunistic. How characteristic is that of their nature?

Royce Young: Very. Game 2 Wednesday was extremely similar to Game 1 against Dallas in which OKC came back from a seven-point deficit with a few minutes remaining, capped by a Kevin Durant game winner. The Thunder have made a habit out of those types of wins. They feel like as long as they have time on the clock, they're alive. Which they should, because at any moment Durant, Russell Westbrook or James Harden can go on a burst and get them back in a game.


Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
Failure to execute late in the game proved costly for the Lakers.


From the other side, is it like the Lakers to let a lead slip like that?

AK: Unfortunately, yes. Not necessarily at the end of a game, because the Lakers were 10-4 this season in games decided by three points or fewer. But a loss of focus is always a threat to plague them at any moment. All season, this team has suffered inopportune and self-induced lapses. Sometimes, they've resulted in losses. Other times, wins became more complicated than necessary. But either way, the Lakers are a team of bad habits, which makes slippage in the last two minutes not necessarily stunning.

But full disclosure, I was jaw-dropped by this. I just kept staring at the TV with this far-gone look on my face, like Private Pyle during his last scenes in "Full Metal Jacket."

RY: Allow me to be honest, as well: I had given up on the Thunder after Bynum's hook shot went down to make it seven. I just didn't see a way back, not with the way they were executing offensively.

AK: Speaking of execution, you've mentioned before the Thunder's periodic tendencies to go iso-happy and bog the entire offense. Wednesday night felt like one of those nights. Do you agree, and if so, to your eye, what caused it?

RY: I'm not entirely sure the Thunder played all that differently than they did in Game 1, but two things stifled the offense: The pace favored the Lakers, and the shots didn't fall with great regularity. Durant had attempted only eight shots entering the fourth quarter, instead choosing to kick out off his drives. The Lakers adjusted well on Westbrook and forced him into a poor shooting night. And the bailout guy, Harden, wasn't able to get going. That's where that ugly, ugly offense can come from. It's a strange thing, since they're so wildly talented on that end. But sometimes, it just doesn't work. But the Lakers deserve a lot of credit for that.

Brian Kamenetzky: I thought the Lakers' adjustments in the pick-and-roll, with the aggressive trapping and activity from the bigs, frustrated OKC. Coverages were more proactive and consistent, a big change from Game 1. Combine that with the work they did limiting the Thunder's transition opportunities, and it seemed like OKC was frustrated.

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PodKast: Game 2 disaster, looking to Game 3, Sessions, and more

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
8:47
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Sometimes with a night's rest, the dawn of a new morning, and the opportunity for some fresh perspective, in the rear view mirror a game can look a little different.

Sometimes.



Play Download

Game 2 Wednesday in Oklahoma City doesn't qualify. As we stepped into the studio about 17 hours after those fateful two minutes in the fourth quarter in which the Lakers blew a seven point lead, the sense of what they gave away was just as strong. I'm not going to lie, those hoping to be uplifted by the newest edition of the Land O'Lakers PodKast aren't going to like what you hear. After noting another critical example of poor execution -- Andy and I unwittingly showed up at the office in nearly identical outfits, among the more mockable things a brother writing/radio tandem can do -- we dive into the the big issues ...
  • After briefly touching on L.A.'s final play, we get into why the loss in Game 2 was so significant. Yeah, it's nice the Lakers played OKC tight after the Game 1 blowout, but in a playoff series the lesser team can't afford to lose games they ought to win. In the process, we shoot down just about every moral-victory-encouraging-going-forward argument out there. Again, it's fairly depressing, which is why we make sure to drop a little Double Rainbow Guy in there.
  • Is there any hope going forward for the Lakers to pull the upset?
  • Ramon Sessions. He hasn't played well in the postseason. Why? What can change, and how does his poor playoff run impact his decision whether to become a free agent, and whether the Lakers should re-sign him?
  • A quick look at the Clippers vs. San Antonio. We're no more optimistic about the chances of the red, white, and blue.

We're normally pretty chipper folk, but not today. Listen, but be prepared to shed a tear.

Lakers Late Night Replay - Game 3 vs. Denver

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
10:38
PM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Put away the brooms, Lakers fans! Visions of a sweep are officially dead.

The Nuggets got out to an early lead Friday night in Denver, and parlayed that hot start into a 99-84 win. As has been the case in all three games, Denver crushed on the offensive glass, and rebounding was probably the single biggest reason the hosts controlled the game from nearly start to finish. That, and defense. The Nuggets played some, while the Lakers only periodically bothered, especially in the first quarter, and especially when it came to protecting the rim. Thus, Ty Lawson did his thing, and JaVale McGee suddenly became a factor.

On tonight's show, we detail the ginormous hole the Lakers put themselves in thanks to a lackluster start, as well as...
  • A tale of two halves for Andrew Bynum. Scoreless in the first, dominant in the third, worn out by the end.
  • Tough sledding for Kobe Bryant, who continues to struggle offensively at the Pepsi Center. Was his 7-of-23 a blip in the series, or the start of a trend?
  • Limited help from the supporting cast. There were no "wild cards," as George Karl put it before Game 1.
  • Questions about the limited burn for Devin Ebanks. Would it have hurt to have him on the floor more than 16 minutes?

That, plus some funky, funky timpani!

Watch live streaming video from espnlosangeles at livestream.com

Lakers vs. Mavericks, Game 5 -- What to watch

May, 8, 2011
5/08/11
9:17
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Ninety-eight have tried, 98 have failed.

If the Lakers are to be the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a seven-game series, the comeback will start this afternoon in Game 4. The team can find motivation from a variety of sources. Think of Phil Jackson, for example. As a Laker, do you want to be the guy who sends him out on the wrong end of a sweep? Think of your fans, who might like one more chance to cheer (or boo, I suppose, given what happened in Game 2) the team bringing home consecutive titles. Think of pride, personal and collective.


Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
The battle of stars has favored Dirk Nowitzki heading into Game 4.


But most of all, think of the mothers. Is it right to ruin their day?

Here's what to watch for in Elimination Game No. 1 ...

1. Fight. Thursday afternoon after arriving at DFW, I found myself riding the shuttle to the rental car station with another member of the media. We talked about the series to that point, and kicked around thoughts on Games 3 and 4. Both of us felt confident the Lakers would throw the kitchen sink at Dallas in Game 3, and they did. (In the end it didn't matter, but they did.) But as we played out potential scenarios, he was convinced the Lakers wouldn't get swept. If they lost Game 3, under no circumstances would they lose Game 4.

I felt strongly otherwise.

It's not simply a question of matchups on the floor, many of which are working against the champs (gotta call them that while there's still time), but of the team's collective mentality. The Lakers are a group interested in winning titles. Having reached a point where it's pretty clear it won't happen, how do they respond? If they understand eventually the end is coming, do they really care if the final count is 4-0, 4-1 or 4-2? The question wades deep into moral victory territory, something for which these Lakers have no use. "Win title/lose title" is their only relevant measurement.

If the Lakers truly believe they can do what has thus far been impossible over the course of NBA history and are motivated to try, they can win Sunday afternoon, pressing through whatever adversity comes in the process. However, if deep down Game 4 is collectively viewed simply as a way to delay the inevitable and maybe save a little face, the Lakers likely won't see Game 5.

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Gasol pushes back on rumors, Bryant shoulders blame

May, 7, 2011
5/07/11
6:34
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The playoffs have been incredibly unkind to Pau Gasol, and the offseason is unlikely to be any different. But while he hasn't been able to formulate any sort of explanation for his decline, Saturday afternoon on the floor of the practice court at American Airlines Center, Gasol took the opportunity to address one supposition currently sweeping the web.

Referencing rumors published on internet gossip sites suggesting relationship problems are responsible for his poor play, some inferring Kobe Bryant's wife helped facilitate a breakup of Gasol's relationship with his girlfriend -- good lord, this is so high school -- Gasol said his relationship with Bryant is just fine. "Chemistry is great, actually. There has been a lot of talk, even rumors and stories made up that I don’t know where they come from, but it’s unfortunate. Apparently it comes with the situation that we’re in. People try to find reasons, throw stones at us at this time, and it’s part of the deal.”

Gasol said the impact of the rumors isn't so much on him, but those around him.

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The empirical vs. the emotional and a 3-0 hole

May, 7, 2011
5/07/11
11:56
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Kobe BryantMatthew Emmons/US PresswireIt's tough to believe it's over when you believe so much in the belief.
Friday night's loss didn't come for want of want.

Recognizing their season on the line, the Lakers poured everything they had into Game 3, on the floor and on the bench, and lost anyway. There was another blown lead fueled by offensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter and blown defensive rotations they'll lament deep into the summer, but blame the flesh, not the spirit. After, the Lakers continued to talk of beating themselves and missed opportunities. Of being right... there... if they could make a couple plays.

All true, except that's how good teams lose to other good teams in the playoffs, littering the path with if-only's and indelible moments swinging games one direction or the other. The Nuggets remember two botched inbounds passes in the '09 Western Conference Finals. The Magic dwell on Courtney Lee missing at the rack in Game 2 of the '09 Finals. Key plays and key minutes always seem to swing towards the better team, and in the NBA, the better team wins a seven game series.

For the first time since losing to the Celtics in '08, the Lakers aren't it.

The evidence has been there for a while. Historically, championship squads don't suffer extended losing streaks, as the Lakers did multiple times this season. They don't lose multiple games by double digits on their home floor. For all their skill, the Lakers have over the course of the season had stretches where scoring became remarkably difficult, putting pressure on a defense not quite up to the task. 17 wins in 18 tries out of the All-Star break seemed to change the narrative, but in reality was only a vibrant, dazzling echo of a championship sound. This year's soundtrack for the Lakers was the other 64 games, one many- too often including themselves- didn't want to hear.

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Kobe, meet Pollyanna. Pollyanna, meet Kobe. (video)

May, 7, 2011
5/07/11
1:27
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
"I might be sick in the head or crazy, because I think we're still going to win the series. I might be nuts."

No, Kobe Bryant, you're none of those things (well, maybe nuts), but you're also extremely unlikely to be proven correct. Not with the Lakers losing three straight against the Mavericks, putting their 2011 postseason record at a less-than-stellar 4-5. Not when no team in NBA history has managed to erase a 3-0 deficit, and particularly when these Lakers don't seem capable of beating anyone four times in row, let alone a talented, deep, and red-hot Dallas squad. Still, Bryant said, the proverbial journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.

"Win on Sunday, go back home, and see if they can win in L.A."



More on Game 3 below, particularly the defensive breakdowns plaguing the Lakers through the fourth quarter, the timely nature of Dallas' shooting, Dirk Nowitzki, missing Ron Artest, and so on...

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Lamar Odom to start Game 3?

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
2:12
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The Lakers are required by NBA statue to submit an expected starting lineup early on game days, and the name currently listed in the game notes to replace the suspended Ron Artest is Shannon Brown, with Kobe Bryant sliding to the small forward spot. "It might be right, and it might be wrong," Phil Jackson, notoriously tight-lipped about these sorts of things, said with a smile Friday afternoon after shootaround.

If Lamar Odom is to be believed, put your money on "wrong."

L.A.'s award winning sixth man said he believes when lineups are announced before Game 3, he'll slide into the first five. "I think that's what [Jackson is] going to go with. I'm not sure, [but] I think," Odom said. "I haven't played small forward in a couple years now, but it makes no difference, you know what I mean? It's not like [the Mavericks] play a lot of isolation ball with their small forward anyway, or anything like that. So defensively, I won't be on an island or anything like that."

Given how little the team's "big three" of Odom, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum have played together this season- a couple minutes, which for all intents and purposes equates to not at all- and even stretching back to last year when Jackson at least toyed with the configuration, adding Odom to the starting lineup for such a critical game is a bold move.

It reflects, too, how hamstrung the Lakers are without Artest available. Matt Barnes hasn't been the same since coming back from injury, while the play of Shannon Brown and Steve Blake hasn't exactly inspired confidence of late. The working theory, should Odom start, could very well be to get the best players on the floor as much as possible, and limit the other guys. This is one way to do it.

But make no mistake, it's a big change.

"It's not a lineup that we would use or have used regularly or often, only in need. I guess we are in need now," Gasol said when asked about the potential of Odom starting. "When we're out there, Lamar is a versatile player, and can play any position pretty much on the floor, so we've just got to be working together defensively and offensively. Once we do that and we communicate, everything just works better, whatever the lineup is out there."

Offensively, Odom can do anything Artest can inside the system, and has the benefit of adding a better ball handler and facilitator than either Brown or Barnes. His presence could allow Bryant work more off ball, always a good thing. As Gasol touches on, it's the defensive side where the Lakers would have the biggest adjustment to make. Defense is about continuity and communication as much as anything, and obviously the three bigs aren't used to working on the floor at the same time. Then there's the question of how Jackson handles substitution patterns through the rest of the game, and how he counters when Rick Carlisle tries to spread the floor with a smaller lineup.

It's an uncomfortable choice, should it happen, because if this was a lineup the coaching staff thought would be productive in big moments, we'd probably have seen it far more frequently by now. We haven't, and frankly when we have the returns haven't been exhilarating. At the same time, do you have more faith in the alternatives?

I don't.



Click below for this afternoon's film of Phil Jackson, talking about the need for shooters to remain confident (he did point out- with a smile- after the 0-16 start from 3-point range in Game 2, they've gone 2-4 since), and more on Game 3.

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Impact of Artest's suspension

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
2:35
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
In news that didn't require Nostradmus' services to predict, Ron Artest has officially been suspended for Friday's Game 3 in Dallas. The offending sequence, which took place with 24.4 seconds remaining in the game, featured Artest swinging his arm to basically clothesline Jose Barea. The unprompted, absolutely intentional act was so WWE, Ron might as well have borrowed Jack Nicholson's courtside chair for the purposes of bashing the diminutive guard. So inevitable was this outcome, Phil Jackson didn't even attempt to spin the possibility of Artest going unpunished in his postgame presser.

So what does this mean for the Lakers in Game 3? Well, in a nutshell, it ain't good.

The already daunting prospect of escaping an 0-2 hole just turned even more difficult. Yes, Ron is coming off a terrible Game 1 and a solid-but-unspectacular Game 2. And yes, Ron doesn't have a true defensive assignment in this series, plus his attempt at physicality to slow Dirk Nowtizki didn't have the effect some (myself included) predicted. But all in all, Artest has played well in the postseason and the Lakers can't afford in their current situation to be down a key player.

Especially with the options in Ron's place hardly tantalizing.

I'm guessing Phil will start Matt Barnes at small forward, but I don't think it's out of the question he'd dust off Luke Walton for the first time in the playoffs purely to keep the rotation intact as possible. (Don't kill the messenger, people!) Either way, the former has been ineffective since returning from knee surgery and the latter has strung together maybe 20 minutes of quality basketball this entire season, so the prospect of extended PT for either doesn't inspire overflowing confidence.

There's also the possibility Kobe Bryant will seem more time at the 3, but to a large degree, that approach is dependent on either Steve Blake or Shannon Brown playing well enough to keep Bryant out of the backcourt. Thus far, neither is doing his part.

One twist I don't see coming, to address a question popping up in today's chat and throughout the season, is Lamar Odom replacing his long-time friend in the first five. LO, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum have barely played together over the course of four seasons, and in extremely small sample sizes, the results have been horrible. Plus, the Lakers are extremely out of sorts at the moment, making it hard to believe such a big adjustment could be handled on the fly. Jackson's unconventional nature leaves the door open, but I'd be very surprised if he made such a radical move.

In any event, the margins for error in Game 3 just went from "microscopic" to whatever is the next size down. Everyone who removes his warmups must seriously step up his game in order to avoid an 0-3 deficit come Mother's Day.

And finally, the worst part of this development? You just know Mark Cuban is grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Lakers 100, Hornets 86 -- At the buzzer

April, 22, 2011
4/22/11
9:29
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Oh, so that's why everyone thought the Lakers would roll in this series.

A big 14-point win for L.A., as the champs regained full control of their matchup with New Orleans, taking a 2-1 lead with Game 4 coming Sunday. Here's how it broke down...

HIGHLIGHTS

1. Kobe Bryant. In the first quarter, Kobe gave the Lakers the best of both worlds, giving space for guys like Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum to get going, but staying aggressive with his offense, as well (in contrast to Game 2, in which he barely shot over the first 24 minutes). Bryant did it, too, with a lot of forward motion. Probing before hitting a six footer for his first points of the game. A pull up in transition over Chris Paul, a big dunk off a handoff at the elbow. He finished the frame 4-of-6, for 10 points. In the third quarter, Kobe moved his game to the perimeter, burying a pair of triples to open the half, then hitting a third at the four minute mark, pushing L.A.'s lead back to double digits.


Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Kobe Bryant was controlled and efficient en route to 30 points Friday night.


Bryant was more a steadying force for the offense, rather than a dominating one, an excellent plan on a night where the Lakers found contributions all over the floor. He finished with 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting.

2. Offensive Rebounding. Through three quarters, the Lakers had 32 misses from the floor, but 14 offensive rebounds, a remarkably strong percentage. Not surprisingly, the combination of Bynum and Pau Gasol led the way, hauling down nine between them to that point. Beyond the second chance points the Lakers earned off the ORBs- and they were significant- their ability to attack the offensive glass was a major limiting factor on the Hornets. New Orleans was unable to push very hard off misses, because everyone had to stay home just to keep the Lakers from maintaining possession.

A great use of their superior length inside.

3. Defense. There was a great deal to like from L.A.'s perspective, starting with the way Paul was handled. While his final line was certainly impressive- 22 points on an ultra-efficient 9-of-13 from the floor, plus eight assists and two steals- Paul wasn't able to take over the game as he did in Game 1, dominating as both a scorer and a facilitator. In total, Friday he put together a line implying that was the case, or at least partially so, but the reality was different. In the first half, Paul was a scoring machine, missing only two of ten shots en route to 18 points. But he only had three assists to go with it. In the third, Paul racked up five more dimes, but only had three points. In the fourth, Paul was a non-factor.

The Lakers never allowed him to be both scorer and facilitator at the same time. That'll do nicely.

With Paul under control and the New Orleans transition game contained by the offensive rebounding, the Hornets were forced to come up with other options, and not surprisingly they couldn't. Their bench, so big in Game 1, was invisible Friday, scoring only nine points. Emeka Okafor had a few nice buckets over Bynum and Carl Landry was his typical Laker-killing self with 23 points, but on the wing the Hornets were awful, as both Trevor Ariza and Marco Belinelli had subpar games.

And in a development sure to please the coaching staff, the Lakers played their best defensive quarter in the fourth, holding the Hornets to 18 points while turning the game into a rout.

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The 1-2 pick and roll saves the day

June, 9, 2010
6/09/10
3:16
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
One of the coolest things about the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s win in Game 3 wasn’t simply Derek Fisher’s Big Moment (alternately titled “A Story So Good Even Sportswriters Can’t Screw It Up”), but how Fisher was freed for most of his points down the stretch.

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images
The Lakers broke out the two-guard high screen and roll Tuesday night, helping spring Derek Fisher for a series of clutch baskets.



Pressed by a more aggressive Celtics D, the Lakers offense shriveled in the third quarter and into the fourth as their lead, once as large as 17, dwindled down to one. They had to find better looks, which they did, but not in a way anyone expected: The 1-2 pick and roll.

Coming out of a timeout at the 5:40 mark, the Lakers quickly got the ball to Fisher at the top of the key. Kobe Bryant, guarded by Ray Allen, came up from Fisher’s left to set the screen, rubbing out Rajon Rondo and preventing a surprised Allen from showing or switching. Fish turned the corner and pulled up for the clean jumper just ahead of a closing Paul Pierce.

On the next trip, the Lakers try it again. Twice, actually. First going left, then coming back right. This time, Rondo is able to escape both Bryant screens and stick with Fisher, aided by Allen who showed on the screen to slow Fish down. The Lakers, though, reverse the ball and do, in fact, get an open look (I’d say a good look, but at this point in the postseason I’m not sure a corner three from Ron Artest qualifies).

It doesn’t fall.

But rather than get away from the set, the Lakers come right back with it. After Artest forces a turnover on Glen Davis, with about 4:40 remaining Fisher again uses a Kobe screen moving to his left. This time, Allen can’t slow him down as he turns the corner. Fish gets penetration and he hits the floater off the glass as Rondo trails behind. The Lakers go up by five.

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Derek Fisher's postgame comments

June, 9, 2010
6/09/10
8:15
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
We noted the fourth quarter performance of Derek Fisher in Tuesday's Game 3 win. If you didn't get a chance to see his postgame media session, click below and you can see the transcript.

I particularly enjoyed an exchange about three-quarters of the way through in which Fish talks about the significance of having the type of night he had 14 years into a career.

Worth a read.

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Lakers 91, Celtics 84: Derek Fisher rises again

June, 8, 2010
6/08/10
9:17
PM PT
By The Kamenetzky brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
It takes a lot to reduce Kobe Bryant into just another guy setting screens, but Derek Fisher managed to get it done.

After building up a 17-point lead in the second quarter of their critical Game 3 matchup against the Boston Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden Tuesday night, it seemed like the Lakers were headed to the sort of dominant road victory with the potential to define a series. After the break, however, the Celtics cranked up their defense and the Lakers responded by hoisting up jumpers and moving very little in space. The results were predictably ugly.

When Rajon Rondo went from his three point line untouched for a layup at the other end, the once large lead was down to one with 9:45 to play.

Normally, this would be the time for Bryant to step up and will his team to victory... except he was part of the problem. Stuck on the perimeter, forcing jumpers.


Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Derek Fisher iced the game with a coast-to-coast layup, absorbing a brutal foul in the process. Fitting, since Fisher's play in the fourth was the reason there was a game to ice.



Enter Fisher. Throughout the regular season, Fisher had been trailed by so many shovel-toting fans and media tossing dirt on him, he might as well have been working the garden department at his local Home Depot. His response was always the same- absorbing the criticism, pointing to a team (generally) succeeding on the floor, and noting his moment would come. And this postseason, just as it was against the Magic last year, Fisher has again proven himself a wise, wise man.

Between the 8:56 and 4:33 marks of the fourth quarter, Fisher scored eight of his team's 10 points, including a pair of clutch jumpers coming off the 1-2 screen with Kobe setting the pick. He would cap the game with a tremendous full court drive off a Ray Allen missed triple (one of eight Game 2's hero would clank on the night), dropping the layup through as he was being crushed by three Celtics. His free throw iced it, and the Lakers, just as quickly as they gave away their home court advantage, grabbed it back.

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Monday afternoon quarterback: To foul or not to foul?

May, 10, 2010
5/10/10
4:45
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Lost in some of the hullabaloo surrounding the incredibly exciting final three minutes of Saturday's Game 3 win in Utah was how the Lakers handled one of basketball's great tactical quandaries: Up by three and in the penalty with only a few seconds left in the game, is it best to intentionally foul a shooter and put him on the line before a potential game tying shot can be launched?

Or do you play it straight, and ask your team to make a single defensive stand to win the game, potentially allowing a better look but shortening the game and leaving no (likely) outcome worse than overtime.

Phil Jackson generally won't choose to foul, but on Saturday he did. It worked out in the end- the Lakers won the game- but tactically could have backfired. Derek Fisher sent Williams to the line with six seconds to play. Williams made both his shots, and the Lakers called timeout to advance the ball. On the inbound, however, Ron Artest couldn't hit Fish with the inbound pass (in part because of a great open field tackle by Wes Matthews), giving Utah the ball back with a chance to win.

They didn't, of course, but had either Williams' jumper or Matthews' buzzer-beating tip dropped, there would have been plenty of Sunday morning quarterbacking around town.

Everyone has his own philosophy on how to handle this sort of situation, but to get a better feel for it I talked to a former NBA head coach to get see what he would have done.

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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0