I have this theory that in order to be a Championship contending team you have to have a set style and be able to really enforce it on other teams. For example, the Spurs play a slowed down defensive half-court style and no matter who they play, they are going to play that style.
The pre-Shaq Suns were the same way. The advantages to this are pretty obvious: If the Spurs are playing a team and they are both playing Spurs style basketball then the obvious advantage will be with the Spurs. That was one of the big reasons why I felt the Lakers weren’t at that elite level more than anything else because they really don’t have a set style that they enforce on their opponents. If their opponent are bad, they tend to play bad. If they play fast, they play fast. If they play slow, etc. etc. This pretty much carried over into the playoffs.
I think the most amazing thing about this victory was not that we blew them out, but that we blew them out at their own game. We didn’t beat them by thirty points by speeding up the tempo and outgunning them or anything like that. We beat them by thirty by holding them to 71 points. If anything else we slowed the game down (at least defensively.)
Another important thing I noticed about this game, was how they increased the lead in the fourth quarter. In Games 1, 2 and 6 of the Jazz series, the Lakers came into the fourth quarter or the half with big leads and every time the Jazz fought back and came close to stealing each game. That was a big concern I had when the fourth quarter started, but Pop decided to clear his bench.
Giving up in a playoff game? The Spurs?
I don’t think they have the firepower to come back against the Lakers if they take a big lead and I think they know it. Unfortunately for them, I think the Lakers know it now too. Even more unfortunately for them, the Lakers are the best team in the post-season at coming out the gate with a big lead.
The Michael Jordan Award for MVP of the Game: While this could very easily go to Kobe for doing his typical Kobe thing, I really have to give it to Lamar. His help defense on Duncan and Parker and whoever else dared entered his one man zone of terror was the big key to our victory. He realized Ben Gay Bob was a ghost of himself and punished the Spurs for believing in him. How low the mighty have fallen…
The Dominique Wilkins Award For Highlight of the Game: Jordy’s block on Udoka. The NBA: Where Redeeming Yourself After Being Brutalized by Deron Williams for 6 Games Happens.
The Vince Carter Award for the Half Man/Half Hearted Performance of the Game: Greg Popovich. I like him a lot as a coach, but pulling his starters when there’s still a full quarter left is just not a sane move. In fact, it looked like a pretty VINsane move.
The Lamar Odom Award for Getting the Same Amount of Points as Rebounds: After recording his second true Lamar of the post-season last game with 8 points and 8 rebounds (he did have a about 4 near Lamars) Lamar Odom follows it up with a very un-Lamar-like +8 points to rebound differential. The Big Fundamental on the other hand must have been paying extra close attention to Lamar Odom the last game, because with 12 points and 16 rebounds it looks like he picked up the fundamentals of the Lamar Odom stat line pretty well.
Final Thought: When the Pau Gasol trade went down nobody on the Lakers expressed any real joy but instead expressed sorrow that Kwame Brown would be leaving their family. Even Phil Jackson who is probably third behind Michael Jordan and Gilbert Arenas on the all-time list of most shots taken at Kwame, only had kind words to say about him. By all accounts, he believed very much that he could still turn it around.
So what does this have to do with today’s game?
During the TNT post-game show, Charles and Kenny were throwing a lot of jokes around about how the Gasol trade was a swindle and how they got Gasol for nothing. Kobe was also sitting there with them, and after deciding he’s had enough, he butts in and says Kwame’s still his man and basically to lay-off him.
Now think about that for a minutes. This is Kobe. During his career in the NBA, he has at various times thrown Phil Jackson, Shaqille O’Neal, Tex Winter (I think), Del Harris (probably), and most recently the entire Buss family (except for maybe Jeanie), Andrew Bynum and Mitch Kupchak under the bus.
And yet he has never said anything even remotely unkind about Kwame Brown.
You know what that means don’t you?
Kwame Brown must have been one hell of a guy to party with!