Blog Entry

Playoff Fix: Lakers play for pride first

Posted on: May 8, 2011 1:14 am
Edited on: May 8, 2011 1:38 am
The Los Angeles Lakers look to avoid the sweep, trailing the Dallas Mavericks 2-0 in the Western Conference semifinals. Posted by Ben Golliver.


One Big Thing: Getting swept out of the playoffs is the ultimate shot to the pride for an NBA team defending its title. For the Lakers, as cocky and proud as NBA champions get, losing to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday would amount to a crisis of character, and that's why the major protagonists, coach Phil Jackson and guard Kobe Bryant, are so adamant in their denials that it will happen. Getting swept would ruin a lot of storylines: Jackson riding off into the sunset and Bryant as Jordan redux, not to mention spoiling the three-peat. Game 4, then, is about pride first. While Bryant still believes the Lakers can take the series, first they must save some face.

The X-Factor: The return of Ron Artest from his one-game suspension for clotheslining could be a really good thing, or a really bad thing. On one hand, his presence should shore up L.A.'s perimeter defense, which was out of position and slow to close out to Dallas' shooters in Game 3. On the other, he's been inconsistent throughout the playoffs and forces Lamar Odom back to the bench following the one decent offensive game he's played in the series. The Lakers badly need "fully locked in and making plays" Artest, but have only had "distant look in his eyes, what's he going to do next?" Artest for the last week or two. He's as prideful as anyone on the roster, though, so perhaps he has a last stand left in him.

The Adjustment: Kobe Bryant's "Hero Mode" has its faults, but this is the rare occasion when he needs to do more offensively, a lot more. Bryant was overly deferential in Game 3, scoring just 17 points on 16 shots. He tallied six assists, the most he had put up since Game 4 against the Hornets, but he came up empty late in the game. L.A. simply looked lost and discombobulated down the stretch and while a ball-hogging Bryant doesn't necessarily correct that problem, it at least gives the team a direction. This is a legacy game for Bryant, in that a no-show becomes a fairly big stain on the resume while a big night, win or lose, would help him save some face.  

The Sticking Point:
 The biggest issue for Bryant has been his transformation, almost overnight, into a one-dimensional jumpshooter. A man who as recently as a few weeks ago was arguably the toughest cover in the league (at least top five) has seen vast swatches of his game evaporate. Consider this: Bryant is 31-for-65 from the field against the Mavericks in the first three games of this series. According to, Bryant is a combined 3-8 on shots from inside 10 feet. In other words, a full 88% of his attempts are mid-range jumpshots or further! By comparison, that number was a much more reasonable 60% during the regular season.

Bryant's free throw attempts are down too: He's averaging less than four attempts per game against the Mavericks after taking more than seven per game during the regular season. Given that L.A. has yet to top 94 points in the series, you'd like to see the opposite effect. If the team is struggling to score, Bryant should be driving more aggressively. 

The question for Game 4 is really quite simple: Is Bryant still capable of willing the Lakers to victory?

Since: Nov 28, 2006
Posted on: May 8, 2011 10:59 pm

Playoff Fix: Lakers play for pride first

Or, he was always soft defensively, and the fact that the Mavs played great defense throughout the series meant the Lakers couldn't just fall back on winning the games on offense.  For all the size the Lakers have, they are soft inside.  And Dirk does work.  He just had help.  Granted the threes were outrageous in game 4, but other than that, the Lakers pretty much got out-played from start to finish.

Since: Mar 6, 2011
Posted on: May 8, 2011 3:14 pm

Playoff Fix: Lakers play for pride first

maybe thats it, PAUL Gasol the evil twin brother of Pau, has kiddnapped him and is playing in his place.  Paul is lazy, stupid, fearful and a lush. This could explain things.

Since: Jun 12, 2009
Posted on: May 8, 2011 2:48 pm

Playoff Fix: Lakers play for pride first

This Laker fan is over it.  The Lakers haven't been able to win four straight quarters much less four games.  Thank goodness we have the Dodgers....oops, maybe not.  Thank goodness we have the California girls and wonderful sunshine.

Since: Nov 28, 2006
Posted on: May 8, 2011 2:24 pm

Playoff Fix: Lakers play for pride first

Who cares if they win one game?  There is no way they win 4 straight.  Get over it Laker fans.

Since: Feb 14, 2009
Posted on: May 8, 2011 2:04 pm

Playoff Fix: Lakers play for pride first

Nice post Packerfan, but who's Paul Gasol?

Seriously though, Golliver is right. Kobe is the key, and always has been. Pau Gasol has had arguably the worst playoffs ever for a star, and still the Lakers were in Games 1 and 3 right up until the last 30 seconds. With Pau at full force, the Lakers run away with it, but with Kobe just playing more aggressively, the Lakers can win minus Gasol putting up decent numbers.

Since: Apr 28, 2008
Posted on: May 8, 2011 2:00 pm

Playoff Fix: Lakers play for pride first

Its Pau, not Paul. Why are most of the posts on the boards pertaining to the NBA done by illiterates? Oh yeah, because most NBA fans are idiots.

Since: Nov 16, 2010
Posted on: May 8, 2011 1:28 pm

Playoff Fix: Lakers play for pride first

The only thing keeping the Lakers from being up 2 to 1 is Paul Gasol. I don't know what came and took away the baskerball player he was the last 2 years but he is gone. He has played to weak in the playoffs I don't know who he is. If he doens't play like he has last 2 years today series over. Lakers need Paul to play well and he isn't. This is worse he has played since coming to Lakers. Bynum showing he can be a star. The Kid is playing hard and Paul G needs to help him. When Lakers are playing well as a team they dominated game 1 and 3 until last few minutes.  Games not even be close at that point if Paul didn't play so bad. He even had position to get the key rebound at the end when score 93 to 91 and got sholved out of the way. terrible job at ket time.

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