Out of Bounds: Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Out of Bounds with Jason Riley

There are any number of things I could choose to write about here. The Lakers not showing up to another game in Houston. Phil Jackson’s curious coaching gaffes throughout the series. Derek Fisher’s disappearing act. Pau Gasol’s slow transformation into a marshmallow. That really tall guy wearing #17 and pretending to be Andrew Bynum.

The media has blamed Phil Jackson. They’ve pinned it on Kobe Bryant. They’ve pointed in the direction of the role players. Some fans have blamed the meager refereeing; others have cried conspiracy theory by the NBA; most have said the Lakers have no heart. The deplorable struggles of the Lakers have been dissected, re-examined and dissected again on radio broadcasts, TV shows, podcasts, newspapers and blogs from Los Angeles to Tatooine (Yes, that Star Wars reference just happened).

In the end, it’s nothing more than talk, and that’s exactly what the Lakers have been so far in these playoffs. While they like to say all the right things at the right time to the right people, what if they actually told the truth? Well, it might sound a little bit like this:

Reporter: Derek, explain what you’re trying to do to contain Aaron Brooks?
Derek: Look, my legs are dead. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not 26 years old anymore. I’m really only on the floor because of what I have done over the years, not because of what I’m contributing now. And, can someone please tell me who Aaron Brooks is? In six games, I’ve only heard his name announced, I haven’t actually seen him.

Reporter: Pau, how is it that you’re struggling to score against two guys half your size?
Pau: I’m from Europe, what did you expect? I shoot jumpers and hook shots; I don’t bang with anyone that actually pushes me back. You can’t ask me to suddenly change my game; this is how I’ve always been. When it comes down to it, I’m going to flop or shoot a fade-away before I intentionally absorb some contact. You knew this when I came here. If you don’t like it, I’m sure you can swing a deal to get Kwame Brown back.

Reporter: Kobe, how do you explain your low shooting percentages from the floor in this series?
Kobe: Have you seen my teammates shoot the ball? Derek hasn’t hit a shot since March. Pau & Drew kick the ball back out to me with less than five seconds on the shot clock at-least a dozen times per game. Sasha’s last good game was around the same time he got a haircut. If my guys would make a few open shots, I wouldn’t have thirteen defenders hanging on me when I drive. Give me a damn break.

Reporter: Phil, what have you done to help motivate your team to play hard?
Phil: I occasionally wear one of my nine championship rings. What else do you want from me? I’m not William Wallace.

Reporter: Drew, can you explain your struggles during the post-season? …
Reporter: … Hey, has anyone seen Andrew Bynum lately?

I’ve decided to call this the Rocky series. It’s the classic match-up between the “heavily favored, overly confident, sometimes unlikeable” Apollo Creed and the “way undersized, completely inexperienced, really likable” Rocky Balboa. The only real difference is that, unlike the current Lakers, Apollo was the reigning champion, so it made a little bit of sense for him to be as egotistical as he was. Hell, at least he went out and proved he was the best. Explain to me again why the Lakers have this unwavering sense of confidence that is totally unrelated to what they’ve done thus far in the playoffs?

Sunday isn’t just a big game, it’s a colossal game. The acquisition of Pau Gasol, the emergence of Kobe Bryant’s leadership, the brilliance of Phil Jackson’s coaching… Game 7 on Sunday at Staples Center will write a paragraph in history about all of those things. It will be the difference between struggle and failure; between a bump in the road on the path to success, or the very end of the road all together. It will provide us with an opportunity to learn our lesson at an affordable price, or to learn it at the cost of bankruptcy. Most importantly, it will mark the beginning of a clean slate, or an off season of questions and disappointment.

They say adversity exhibits to the world what lives on the inside of a person. For the Los Angeles Lakers, we have seen the flickering lights of greatness that simmers somewhere inside of them.

Will it show up on Sunday? I’d put my money on it.

And, if it doesn’t, then what we really saw wasn’t greatness at all.

Jason Riley is a columnist for the Lakers Nation. In addition to this column, he writes on an array of topics that you can check out by visiting J-Ri.com. You can email him by clicking here, look him up on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter for live, in-game coverage and analysis.

  • djbreakdown

    Nice read! That whole reporter section made me smile because its so true. I can’t believe its gonna be game 7 but im sure they will wake up on sunday

  • (AL)theLakerFanyou’dliketomeet

    Yeah real good article. I don’t know what to think other than they should start Jordan Farmar. This WILL be the deciding factor in Jordan’s career here in LA will he be the aire apparent or the other guy who didn’t pan out(Smush Parker,Gary Payton,CHuckie Atkins,and Nick “the Quick” Van Exel who I loved as a Laker until he hit the ref and stop playin D.) It’s time to bring Fish off the bench and let Fish get the mindset to come in and play 17-20min a game of some hard physical back upguard. As much as I don’t like to admit effort we are in a 7th game serious series in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Remember last year when Boston went through like three 7game series or sum Sh!t like that. It’s adversity and if Lakers want to win a RING it has to be NOW there back is up against the wall right now it’s up to them to bring it or go home. Luckily they play in LA!

  • bynumite

    We will win Sunday for sure. There’s no way we aren’t.

    Lions shouldn’t have to play with their food. Only wear your shoe size, don’t act it

  • Farmabrick

    For God’s sake, Zenmaster/zenmoron, start Farmar! Stop out-thinking yourself.

    If the Lakers lose Sunday, Phil needs to retire: his “coaching” has been, at best, indifferent.

  • James

    Awesome perspective on the whole series, and yes the whole series, because I can’t believe it made it to game 7. Great take on Phil, maybe he should start wearing all nine rings. Oh, he should also consider playing Kobi a little more in the 4th. quarter in a close-out game. I believe Kobi sat on the bench for 7 to 8 minutes in that quarter.

    I’m sure they will bounce back on Sunday and win as they hang onto the shorts of Kobi, oh I’m sorry I meant to say shots of Kobi. I sure hope there is enough stregth left in him to carry us through Denver who is waiting, rested and far better than Houston.

  • LifeLongLakerFan

    I loved the article dude!

  • 123kid

    i think this time it comes out to winning at any means possible. whether the team loves it or hates it, it has to come down to playing the guys who are willing to play perfect basketball sunday. everything really starts at the tip off and at the end of the 1st quarter. lastly, kobe said theres no such thing as momentun games, but i disagree. I think if you make it to where you build on momentum for every game, then you’ll succeed in these playoffs. and they should erase what ever happened yesterday and just build off an even better momentum off of game 5.

  • Lakers!

    Let Fisher guard Yao! He has done a great job guarding Yao in game 3. Let him guard Yao again.

  • LA4LIFE

    Can someone please send this article to Kobe and Phil? I would love to do it but im up in Canada. They have to read this

  • LA4LIFE
  • phil sucks

    Im tired of pj’s arrogance. His inability to coach this team was even more exposed in this series as much as he’s done in years passed. he was just bailed out by great players like mj, shaq and kobe.

  • normal person

    All the comments are terrible. You are the most fair of fair weather fans.

  • Xavier Roga

    I hate to tell you,but as much as I love the Lakers they will not win a title until probably 7 more years when Andrew Bynum and TreAnthony get together,he is now 13 years old and he is the best point guard in the permian basin I know this might sound funny to you guys but I am bringing him to you guys,just wait.

  • phil sucks

    is this an advertisement page??

  • kevin 0.

    DUDES FOR REAL LAKERS FANS ARE THE SUCKIEST EVER EVEN THE JAZZ FANS ARE FAITHFUL AND BELIEVE IN THEIR TEAM BUT THE SO CALLED LAKER FANS
    GEEZ THEY’RE ALL FAGGS I MEAN I’VE BEEN READIN A LOT UV SHYT IN THE SHOUTBOX ABOUT THE LAKERS LOSIN GAME 7 VS ROCKETS ARE U SHITTIN ME???? THOSE GUYS REALLY DONT KNOW ANY SHIT ABOUT BASKETBALL I MEAN I’M 110% SURE THE LAKERS WILL WIN GAME 7 AND EVEN PROBABLY A BLOWOUT BUT WHAT REALLY WORRIES ME IS THE NUGGEETS THEY WILL REST LIKE A WEEK BE4 PLAYIN THE LAKERS, BUT SHYT FUKCIN LAKER FANS GET THE FUK OUT OF THIS SITE IF U DONT BELIEVE IN UR TEAM!!!!

  • kevin 0.

    AND IM SAYIN SOME OF THE FANS NOT ALL OF THEM BY THE WAY SO REAL FANS DONT GET OFFENDED

  • phil sucks

    kevin 0.
    May 15th, 2009 at 11:10 pm Click this link to quote this comment in your reply

    AND IM SAYIN SOME OF THE FANS NOT ALL OF THEM BY THE WAY SO REAL FANS DONT GET OFFENDED
    yea ryt

  • http://THELAKERNATI.COM BrownMamba101

    I lol’ed at the Gasol ‘interview’.
    Good stuff.
    Lakers should win sunday, by alot.

  • farmabrick

    [Comment ID #71526 Will Be Quoted Here]

    No, nitwit, these are the comments of Passionate fans. I guess you like losing. If so, may I suggest that the Clippers may be more your cup of tea?

  • Jay

    Lakers need to use Derek Fisher from the bench and start Jordan Farmar. Jordan Farmar has a lot more motivation and intensity once he’s in the game. We all saw what he did in Game 2 where he started. He would be an awesome asset to the Lakers first quarter push.

    Derek Fisher on the other hand is a good all-around player. He’s the Lakers X-Factor. He can motivate the team and keep them in the game. Use Fisher from the bench. It’ll keep him fresh and the Lakers will have a stronger bench that can keep them in the game when the starters need a break.

  • lakers4lyfe

    It doesnt matter what phil, kobe, pau, or anyone does. The NBA is rigged. All sports are rigged. Think about it…WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD PHIL SIT KOBE IN THE FOURTH FOR THAT LONG?? Hes not that stupid unless he was really trying to lose that game. Its all about the ratings ladies and gentlemen. Stern wants more games so he can make more money, the game is being called according to how people bet on it and which series would get the most ratings.

  • jerry

    kevin o, you are a tool! You “real” fans just can’t handle the truth!! I like MANY other bloggers, have watched and admired and rooted for the Lakers from the Jerry West days. We’ve seen the ups and downs of the Laker franchise and know when a team has that fire to win and the heart of a champion. These Lakers are talented no doubt – but they absolutely suck in terms of passion. This is either PJ and the coaching staff’s problem or the players themselves – either way it’s just pathetic that they can show up for only 1 game in 3.

    This is the first time in my life that I am honestly embarrassed to be a Laker fan. I want to root for a team that remembers what it felt like to lose in game 6 of the finals and come back with a vengeance that no team can stand in their way of the ring. This team has the capability to do that but they don’t have the heart or the brains to do what they need to do. No need to rehash what so many people have already written.

    They’ve played this way the entire season and I don’t even care to watch any more of their playoff games. It is just too frustrating. If they lost tight games and played hard that is an ENTIRELY different story. I will root for that team til the end – but this team is so full of friggin girls that I refuse to let their lack of effort ruin my Sunday. Even if they win game 7, they are going to get clobbered by Denver or the Cavs.

  • laker fan

    look we played bad on thursday but instead of hating we need to be positive.
    I think the reason these series has been so tuff is miss matches and great defence
    from the Rockets our biggs dont play well together or against smaller players. I think going small is gonna be the key. I agree with Farmar starting I also think Phil should start Walton for smarter passing(we have been turning the ball over early in the games) and bringing Odom,Fisher,Ariza off the bench.
    Anyway if you dont want to stick with this team through thick and thin then youre not a real Laker fan get off this site and go cheer for the Rockets for disloyal panzies.
    O and in case you guys forgot remember us sweeping the Nuggets last year? we will take them in six this year. We match up verry well with them and no one can Guard Kobe on that team.
    To real Laker fans
    Go Lakers

  • cjm

    these lakers should be playing in the wnba.

  • James S

    Bottom line, the lakers are not getting beat by the Rockets, they are getting beat by themselves, its irrelevent who they are playing against, it could be the Cavs, it could be the Clippers, the way they are playing the game, they will get beaten by any professional basketball team that is trying to win. They don’t need to make adjustments or blame it on miss matches. They have all of the favorable miss matches, Two 7 footers that are more offensively gifted and roughly a foot taller than the guys guarding them, the best defensive and offensive player on the floor at any given time (Kobe), the definition of a miss match in Lamar. The Rockets are the team that needs to be making adjustments, and they aren’t, they are doing the exact same things that they did in Game 4, 5, 6, and the same thing that they will do in Game 7. Hope to god that Luis Scola can dominate in the paint, and hurl up 3 pointers. If those things happen, like they did in 2 of the past 3 games, then the Rockets have a chance. Of course if the Lakers play with any heart and for the entire 48 minutes with great effort, there is basically no way that a severely under manned and less talented team such as this incarnation of the Rockets can beat them.

    Phil Jackson is a horrible coach, always has been. He has always had the luxury of having 2 of the absolute top players on his teams, surrounded by a bunch of above average role players that are hungry, smart, and know their roles. This team doesn’t have those players. But it does have way superior talent. Unfortunately for Phil, he is going to actually have to earn his paycheck during this playoff run. In the end, coaches don’t win championships, or even games, players do, and it is up to them to show up. They all know how important the next game is, and we will learn everything that we need to about this team in the next 48 minutes of basketball that they play. If they play up to their potential, they cannot be beaten by any team in the NBA.

  • http://steveodesignedge.wordpress.com/ dEDGE

    Here’s one more for you…

    REPORTER: Sasha, why is your shot be so off this season?
    SASHA: Well, I, you know, hav-a you know, many many rituals you know, and I, you know, hav-a been havin’ a kinda problemo with my-a head-a band-a. Iya canta decide-a on whicha one-a to wear, you know. Wide-a one, skinny one, smooth-a and silky one, hair clip-a or no hair clip-a, hello-kitty one-a, so, so, so many-a decisions to make-a…

  • Ronnie

    nice article. If they win, it was simply a bump in the road and overconfidence. If they loase….the greatness goes with them and I dont think Mitch Kuptcheck can do any more. He has bent over backwards building around kobe and he still cant win? Lets put it this way, if the lakers lose (no matter what kobe does) then kobe bryant is NOT the best player in the game today, nor is he the GREATEST player of all time. I think we can say easily that he is the best scorer of all time but seriously, dont even talk about kobe and jordan in the same breath, or kobe and lebron in the same breath if the lakers lose sunday. Simple as that. Hes the leader, he should motivate

  • James

    Hey Kevin O. I’m sorry to inform you that passionate fans (yes passionate) do get frustrated and sometimes pissed off when their team doesn’t play up to it’s full potential. I’ve known this kid for quite some time and remember when he use to throw stuff at the tv while watching games and used alot of profanity when they lost.

    However, I think he grew up a little and stopped throwing stuff and using profanity. MAYBE YOU SHOULD TRY DOING THE SAME. O, he also turned into a pretty damn good writer (opps – did I say damn) please pardon my profanity.

    Hey NORMAL PERSON, your name is pretty sufficent and does even need a comment, but I definately agree with Farmabrick – the Clippers are waiting.

  • http://yahoo.com PG16

    Lakers will win tomorrow, Lakers will beat denver in 6, Lakers will beat the cavs and win the championship.

  • http://www.j-ri.com Jason Riley

    Jay – Couldn’t agree more, it’s time to get Jordan & Shannon in there more.

    James S – Agree with you on the Lakers, it’s about themselves, not there opponent. I don’t agree that Phil has always been a terrible coach, but I do think he look pretty un-interested during these playoffs.

    Ronnie – As much as it pains me to admit, I agree with you. Kobe can’t lose on Sunday.

    PG16 – I sure hope you’re right!

  • spongebob

    josh powell is the best laker at guarding scola

  • Justin

    I think it’s clear that Phil Jackson does not feel like making adjustments during games this year. I see the talented players we have as victims of poor coaching.

    Andrew Bynum where are you???

  • kobe8

    we will win on Sunday. then Denver is gonna see how good the Lakers really are. i think we got caught off guard when Yao got injured but we will be fine.

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  • MR JUAN_YOUR WARLOCK

    Screw the Lakers. I am done with them. I hope the Cavs or the Celtics win the championship.

  • ab4sure

    [Comment ID #71622 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Definitely not a Laker FAn

  • Deport Sasha

    We have too many players that are a liability on the floor.

    Sasha – we need to DEPORT this A-hole. He can’t make a damn thing. The Contraption.

    Luke – he is a complete joke. Can’t run, can’t shoot, can’t shoot, the notion that he is smart is BS. $is “post moves” look like they are right out of the Special Olympics. Why does Phil keep playing this rag? He is an airball and turnover machine. He should not even be in the league. He needs to be working FULL TIME in his restaurant.

    And Fisher, or more appropriately Dead Fish. Brooks is making a laughing stock out of him. Dead Fish has to be the worst guard at making layus. It is almost laughable the way he flails away in the paint. Turnovers, airballs, no D. He has had a strong career but it is time to pull the plug!

    To those “ture Laker fans” who cite the Lakers sweeping Denver in last year’s playoffs – their GM added a quality point guard named Billups, while our GM was happy to stand pat with his roster. Unfortunately we will all see the results of these front office decisions.

  • Los Angeles Debutantes

    deport sasha – I agree wholeheartedly with you!! If the Lakers get past Houston – Billups is going to torch them. He has been on fire (the entire Denver team has). We don’t guard 3 pt shooting – and Billups was just nailing them over and over. He will take all the air out of their hopes.

    Lakers should have gone after Artest – many of us knew that because we need some toughness (crazy mentality) to win this ring. We have a bunch of school girls who are polite and don’t know how to close out anything. If they get a bad start on Sunday, it’s all over. And they won’t follow the game plan of pounding it inside – they will start with their stupid jump shots and give this series away.

    And at the end – Phil and his 9 rings will blame it on something else. No more excuses because this team is loaded and has no injuries. Truly pathetic that he can’t get them to play to their potential. Adelman is squeezing every ounce of talent from each of his players.

    Also, this is their last chance at this. Portland is going to be crazy strong and so is Denver. We need to get rid of all the girls on this team and rebuild. Jerry West was right when he said this wouldn’t work out (2 7 foot girls) – we should have known the logo saw flaws in the scheme.

  • laker fan

    Deport Sasha I agree with that. except Denver does not have the big men to hang with the Lakers You have to look at what teams Denver has played. A tired/old and undermanned Spures. and Dallas a jump-shooting team with less inside game than even Denver. Billips is a nice addition ill give you that but hes much slower that Aron Brooks or Utah’s Daron Williams our Guards can keep up with him more and like you all have heard before you live by the jumpshot you die by……. When your shots are going down your the best team but how quickly we abandon our team when things go wrong not fare guys lets be positive. Denver Sucks and the Lakers will prove it.

  • LakersFirst

    [Comment ID #71631 Will Be Quoted Here]

    agreed