Blog Entry

Which Lakers will show up?

Posted on: May 28, 2009 11:04 pm
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The psychology of the Lakers is hard to figure, even for someone like Derek Fisher, who has the smarts and just enough Zen to be a coach one day.

At some point, if he wants to, Fisher will be standing on a court somewhere trying to predict how the team he’s coaching will respond in a closeout game on the road. For now, he’s just a point guard trying to do the impossible: predict which Lakers team will show up Friday night in Denver with the chance to close out the Nuggets when there’s a potential Game 7 at home in their pocket?

“Game 7 is there because of the schedule, but it doesn’t necessarily exist,” Fisher said after practice Thursday. “Just go out and play and we can close it out [Friday] night. We haven’t been able to do that so far in these playoffs. We look forward to that opportunity.”

But is it an opportunity or a pitfall? The Lakers trounced the Rockets by 40 points in Game 5 of the conference semifinals at Staples Center, only to return to Houston and lose by 15 in Game 6. Part of it was that they simply got beat. A big part of it was that the chameleon-like Lakers knew they could fall back on a closeout game at home. New series, same situation. What happens this time?

“Well, I’m not one to say we’re going to play the same way we played in the previous game,” Fisher said, speaking from experience. “But I do think we’re continuing to learn from things that are happening as we go on. And I do think because of what we experienced in the Houston series, in the Utah series, our playoff experience from last season, as we get closer to that light that’s at the end of that tunnel ... it’s starting to become in our sight. I think we’ll continue to see the type of intensity and concentration and focus that’s required generally every time out in the postseason. But we’ve had a difficult time, I think, knowing that the end of the tunnel is there, but when it hasn’t been in sight, I think we’ve gotten off track.”

Will things be different this time? Fisher thinks so. And in an interesting twist, the Lakers may have run into a team that is just as schizophrenic as they are.

“We’ve got to come out swinging,” the Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin said. “Nothing more, nothing less. We know we can beat this team. We feel we’re better than this team. We’ve proved it at times. There’s a game in front of us that we can get if we just worry about the task at hand.”

Fisher believes the Lakers’ focus has intensified as they’ve gotten closer to the ultimate goal; this was exemplified by the “5 Mo!” that was written in impeccable penmanship on the erase board in the Lakers’ locker room Wednesday night. But Fisher also believes the way the Lakers attacked Denver in Game 5 was significant. It’s taken five games, but Fisher believes the Lakers have finally begun to win their collective battle with the counter-intuitive nature of Phil Jackson’s triangle offense.

“In this system, when there’s pressure, you go away from it,” Fisher said. “You don’t force pressure, you cut away from it. Cut around it. Cut behind it. Pass the ball and move. If two guys are cutting off a space, you pass the ball to somebody else. At times, we have fought that one constant as a team. Don’t fight the pressure. Invite it and then pass it and move around it. And the games seem to get very simple in the second half once we start to do that. Pick the ball up, pass it, and trust that he’s going to make a play.”

That’s what Kobe Bryant did in Game 5. He had his fewest shot attempts in a 40-plus-minute game in more than a year. Kobe would like you to know, by the way, that he’ll have a little more in the tank going back to the Mile High City than he otherwise would. Remember how he was doubled over in exhaustion there earlier in the series? He needed the rest he got in Game 5.

“I didn’t have to work as hard,” Bryant said. “They were really trapping me out at halfcourt. They were determined not to let me beat them. And I think because of that, I have a little bit more energy today and will have more energy [Friday night].”

With a game in hand, the Lakers didn’t respond well in the Houston series. They barely showed up for Game 4 and couldn’t close out the Yao-less Rockets in Game 6. Phil Jackson knew better Thursday than to try to predict how his team will respond this time.

“I can’t tell you if we learned anything,” Jackson said. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens [Friday] night.”

It was Bryant who said Wednesday night that the Lakers need to be “cold blooded” in Game 6. Who sets that tone, he was asked? “Who do you think?” said Bryant, never one to miss a punchline. “We’ve just got to execute. That’s what we talk about. You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low. Just try to cut 'em up.”
Category: NBA
Tags: Lakers, Nuggets

Since: Mar 27, 2008
Posted on: May 29, 2009 5:36 pm

Which Lakers will show up?...I already used this!

I should have publishing copyrights to this issue. I Brought it up in the Houston series. Lakers got the Jeckyl and Hyde thing goin on as far as team personalities. I am looking for the rough and tough Lakers to show up and prevail. I have little doubt that Denver will fight tooth and nail to the very end tonight, and might even pull out a win but my heart says Lakers close.
Wheres my royalties Berger?Money mouth

Since: Oct 13, 2007
Posted on: May 29, 2009 3:22 pm

Which Lakers will show up?

Only marquee teams with TV appeal and a nice backstory will get airtime and the chance to play in the FinalsLuckily this isn't always the case, but I see what you mean as to how it seems to be this way most of the time.  I loved the San Antonio-Cleveland finals in 07, and who the beep cares if the ratings were low?  The Spurs, hailed as "boring" by some, were great to watch during their four titles because they were a great team!!  Funny how those people who claim to love basketball and love the game start to shoot it down once a marquee team isn't involved.  Lame.  How about that Dallas-Miami finals in 06?  Wow.  If the cowboys and dolphins were in the SB, the world would stop.  Same should be said for their BBall teams then!!!   Fair weather all around!!!!!!!!
The NBA Finals will be on television until the day we are all long dead and gone, no matter what the ratings are.  Same goes for Baseball.  Phils vs. Rays??  That's better than the yankees being in it!!  low ratings, so what?  The world series will be on TV until we are long gone and then some! 

Since: Mar 5, 2008
Posted on: May 29, 2009 1:03 pm

Which Lakers will show up?

Hey Berger, might as well add the Lakers to your favorite teams up there along with Alabama and Indiana.  Biased journalism at its finest from the national media.

Since: Dec 4, 2008
Posted on: May 29, 2009 9:08 am

Which Lakers will show up?

Gooooooo.......... Away!!!

You sound silly!!! The Nuggets beat Dallas cause the Mavs suck!!! They don't have enough firepower... simple as that! 

Trust me, the Cavs will lose...............and your Nuggets.

Since: Feb 29, 2008
Posted on: May 29, 2009 8:05 am

Which Lakers will show up?


It won't matter which Lakers show one realizes that these games are going to go the full distance anyways? The NBA let the Nugs beat the Mavs in less than 7 because everyone is tired of Mark "Cuban Crises" and his little rants. The nuggets series and the Cavaliers series will go 7 games apeice and the NBA front office will get their Queen James vs. Koboring series just llike they want. The Lakers don't need to pay anyone $50,000 for that win anyways, the leaugue was just trying to make it look good. The Nuggets will win tonight at home...go back to LA and lose and no one will be shocked because LA will have homecourt advantage. Only marquee teams with TV appeal and a nice backstory will get airtime and the chance to play in the Finals...oh and guess what the Finals will go 7 games saw it here first.

Go Nuggets!!!!!

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