There's No Even in Beating

First off, I'll be frank about something. Three and a half games in one day is a lot. By the time that Warriors entrancement came down, I was in my own kind of daze, had some things to tend to, and slightly off my usual ecstatic viewer game. So pardon if this lacks the usual trembling assonance.

My favorite shit ever was the halftime analysis during Warriors/Mavs. Magic was strangely disgusted by Golden State, who had the same effect on me as yellow jackets, sharks and cop cars with the sirens on. Kenny was talking like his house had just been robbed, especially when he exclaimed that Al Harrington was (roughly) "a big guy, playing undersized power forward, but doing things in the paint." It reflected how I felt about the first two quarters: lots of mayhem and spirit from Golden State, though with that weeping sense that Dallas had competence on their side. They were also so hungry, and so seat-of-the-britches, that I felt disaster knocking on every portal. After the break, though, all of a sudden they got legit. While I don't want to trot out "playoff basketball" again, when Baron Davis took over the whole operation tightened up. That game came down to a team rationing out their garrulous playmaking and strategic gambles. Like if you had an entire team based around this year's version of Stoudemire.

When the TNT crew all broke down and praised Baron, it came true to me that we could be looking at this year's other major postseason lightning rod. At for FreeDarko's purposes: I was so over-amped about T-Mac yesterday that I'm not even going to link to it—you can scroll down a bit for that. Davis, however, has his own kind of mild sorrow around him, and Billups grouped them together as gusty kings of a Deadwood-like East that gets dismissed as an uncivilized badlands. So feel free to start shedding all the tears when he wins the next one for them, too.

Oh, and I really underestimated the Nuggets. I guess I hadn't recognized just how immense (in game, not girth) Nene's suddenly become. And Melo really, really came to show something today, making it impossible for Bowen to contain him. So both got all the room they needed, and suddenly Nene and Camby are looking like a frontline to fear. If you don't see me bouncing about over this one, it's because they looked that good. The Nuggets handled biz, the scorers got their points, and the Spurs lost to the better team.

Kobe got tired. Though that first half allowed me to realize something about him: fuck LeBron. Kobe is darn close to basketball-perfect, and without so many mediocre tendencies. Henry asked me once if at some point, LeBron's shortcomings become more than just obstacles to ascension. Like when do they turn into flaws? I'm sure I'll change my tune if he gets into a meaningful series and has to send the tide across, but for now I'm fed up with James.

My one marginally scout-like thought for the day: when Barbosa curls under the basket or cuts around to it, he always swings out a little too wide. Like his arms are sooooo long that he needs all kinds of extra room for his shot.

These are the scattered thoughts of an alligator. I found out today that chimps cannibalize rival gang members that they kill in dust-ups. I will never be the same.

Whoa. . . Andrei Kirilenko breakdown?

PLAYOFFS 2007: CHANGE NEEDS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Update: Some Links

-My esteemed FanHouse colleague Miss Gossip put together this ultra-essential NBA Playoff Hair Watch.

-The esteemed Kelly Dwyer directed me toward this video of Derek Fisher being interviewed today in Jazz practice. Basically, he confirms everything we've always suspected about AK-47's decline, both on the court and in the mental. Actually, hearing that dude is incredibly frustrated with the team and his role in it, to the point of nervous collapse maybe, makes me fall in love with him all over again.


At 4/23/2007 1:15 AM, Blogger Ravi said...

Barbosa was absolutely ridiculous tonight...

I know there's only a .00000000001% chance of this happening, but can you imagine the ramifications of both the Spurs and Mavs getting bounced in the 1st round?


At 4/23/2007 2:21 AM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

I'll ride and die with AI, but my confession from darkest recess is that I wondered if he would ever regain that 2001 form. One game isn't hermetic proof, but suddenly I feel unchained.

And I remember when BD was wrecking shit in the playoffs with the Hornets. Penetrating, dishing, robbing, and stabbing at people's hearts from beyond the arc. Dude's built for the playoffs. Nice to see him realizing himself again.

At 4/23/2007 2:33 AM, Anonymous Petey said...

"Oh, and I really underestimated the Nuggets. ... suddenly Nene and Camby are looking like a frontline to fear."

I warned all y'all not to sleep on my Powder Blues.

And just remember that they won this one while getting absolutely nothing from Kleiza and J.R.

But while I understand that this series is far from over, I'll note that I fear Phoenix. Denver has dream matchups against San Antonio - an old 'n' slow team against the Nuggets' quickness - but not so much against Phoenix.


"I'll ride and die with AI, but my confession from darkest recess is that I wondered if he would ever regain that 2001 form."

AI has looked really good the past 3 years. He's just needed some better players than Marc Jackson and Willie Green to ride shotgun.

"And I remember when BD was wrecking shit in the playoffs with the Hornets."

I thought about that series tonight. AI's back to the basket series winning fling was pretty damn epic.

At 4/23/2007 3:19 AM, Blogger T. said...

KellyDwyer and I read the same forum (clutchfans.net!) but I already knew that because he posts there as KellyDwyer

I linked to the SL Tribune article that describes AK-47's breakdown in the last comments section if you're really interested.

At 4/23/2007 3:46 AM, Anonymous MGone said...

Okay Too soon to say. But its noticeable. THE west ELITE had the whole NBA analyst "darlings" vibe going. These early upsets may paint a different picture in the upcoming week. Upsets are always fun

At 4/23/2007 8:06 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Frustrating to be a Lakers fan - I'm not sure the Lakers will be able to make the Suns look so weak for similarly long stretches of one of the next games.

I do have to question some of the decisions by Phil Jackson though. Barbosa was killing everybody the Lakers tried on him, but Smush Parker was especially terrible early in the 4th when the Suns closed the gap, he should have been pulled way earlier.

And when the Suns finally tied the game with 7 or 8 minutes left, PJ's line-up to counter that was Farmar (rookie, although he did a good job overall), Vujacic, Cook, Odom and Kwame Brown. That's exactly one guy that can get his own shot or could even be classified as a borderline good scorer. Cook hadn't played at all, Vujacic barely and badly, and Farmar isn't quite there yet. And Odom, who is much more dangerous against the Suns down low, had the ball up top all the time. Plus, this is not really a strong defensive unit either.

Why not let Kobe have his breather earlier and then have him, Walton and maybe Mo Evans out there for the stretch? Why not try to go big with Kobe-Evans-Walton-Odom-Brown? I'd rather have Kobe guard Barbosa, giving him a few feet and challenging his shot, than Barbosa breaking down the whole defense like he did against Parker and Farmar.

Also, and maybe my memory doesn't serve me well, I can't remember any Laker possession in the last five minutes that had a player in the low post as a first option. It always seemed to be a high pick and roll, mostly followed by a bad Kobe fade-away that missed. The whole offense ground to a halt, it was just terrible to watch.

After this game, I'm inclined to say that the Lakers' biggest disadvantage is in the strategy department.

At 4/23/2007 8:52 AM, Blogger Martin said...

Speaking of BD and T-Mac. I am reminded of the epic series back in 2003. When BD's hornets drew T-Mac's Magic in the first round. While T-Mac was bitching and moaning about having a worse supporting cast, Davis was wrecking shop, rebounding, assisting, penetrating- he even had one 50pt game. BD's stats totally dwarfed T-Macs production. Of course in the second round BD ran into a superior JKidd who put Davis through the school big and strong point guards. But to echo Mr. Six- Dude was built for playoff basketball.

On AI- well I may have not totally given up on him but his legend has faded with time. I find myself doubting him and expressing genuine surprise when he has a good game. But I do know this- any game AI nets 30-40pts is a W for the Nuggets. They are built for playoff defense with the 'twin towers' of Nene and Camby plus they have a solid scorer in Melo. Adding AI just pushes them over the top.

The Lakeshow is dead-Kobe gave the Suns all he could and then some but still came up short. It has become a sad 1-5 futile struggle. At best I see the Lakers stealing one game from phoenix. It will make for a painful demise as we are forced to watch Kobe's solitary dying kicks of pure basketball excellence.

At 4/23/2007 11:23 AM, Anonymous Brendo said...

I want so badly to see BD rock the sunglasses and leather like it was Oakland in '79.

I came to the realization yesterday that the only time I find the San Antonio Spurs more annoying than in their regular, workmanlike regular season is when they actually really have to try. Jacque Vaughn diving for ball just pissed me off for some reason...

At 4/23/2007 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacque Vaughn = new dirtiest Spur

At 4/23/2007 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I declare this "the summer of AI" dude is one feisty mo-fo. He has become the emotional and on-court leader of the Nuggets. He was high fiving and ass patting teammates, hitting clutch shots and drawing contact for foul shots when the offense went flat. All I want to see now is AI stepping defiantly over a fallen Tony Parker after breaking his ankles with a cross over and draining a jumper- shades of what AI did to Lue in 2001.

At 4/23/2007 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


give me more AI in the playoffs!

At 4/23/2007 12:25 PM, Anonymous Petey said...

"Jacque Vaughn = new dirtiest Spur"

Damn fucking straight.

There's something wrong with Popavich for producing Bowen, and turning a nice guy like Jacque Vaughn into Ron Artest.

At 4/23/2007 2:04 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

AI has looked really good the past 3 years. He's just needed some better players than Marc Jackson and Willie Green to ride shotgun.

He's looked fantastic the last three years, but he didn't seem to be able to figure out how to work with yet another so-so crew. And so instead of apparent joy in his exploits, he appeared as a man able to turn coal into jewels ... in a society that trades only metals.

wv: krmdbnj -- karma database, new jersey

At 4/23/2007 2:29 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Allow me to agree with Iverson Fan here (who hasn't posted yet) in his criticism of Kobe. Kobe's amazing first half doesn't erase his 1-12 finish. Maybe he got tired, and maybe that's Phil's fault for not resting him more (or the GM's fault for not getting him more guys to help out so he could rest more); but Kobe needs to be able to recognize when he's forcing it, cause he put up a hell of a lot of really bad shots down the stretch when the game was tight.

The turning point in the game, IMO, was Farmar picking up his 4th foul with 3:35 to go in the 3rd (apparently for being run over by Amare). Up until that point Barbosa had only had two points in the 3rd quarter and when Farmar went out it was a seven point lead for the Lakers. But with Farmar's 4th foul, he immediately went out and in came Smush, who proceeded to allow Barbosa to put up 8 points over those last three and a half minutes of the 3rd quarter. Then to start the 4th quarter Smush started off with a turnover while allowing Barbosa to get two basically uncontested layups (he did give a really weak foul on one which became a three point play). Smush left the game for good after less than two minutes of play in the 4th quarter with the Suns up by two points, meaning that in the just under 5 minutes Smush was in the game the Lakers were minus 9 and Barbosa had scored 13 points (he'd go on to score only 4 more points for the remaining 10:20 of the game). That means that Barbosa played the last 20 minutes of the game and had 19 second half points, but 13 of them came in the 5 minutes that Smush Parker was guarding him.

This led to Kobe adopting the all-too-familiar "desperation, I want to be the hero" mindset while the Suns sent two to three guys to cover him the rest of the way. Didn't stop Kobe from jacking up ridiculous shots though, and eventually he shot the Lakers right out of it. Some might say "Kobe was hitting those shots in the first half" but the difference there was that in the first half the Suns were only sending Raja Bell to cover him. Not so in the 4th quarter. Kobe's the best basketball talent alive, and might even be more talented than Jordan was, but he's got to have better recognition of game situations and be able to assess his own shot selection and read the defense better to ever legitimately be compared to the best that have ever played. It's not even about getting his teammates involved or anything like that - all he had to do yesterday was just start taking it to the hole once his outside shot stopped falling.

All that said, if I was the Suns I would be worried. Not about the Lakers though, who will be lucky to win one or two games in this series, but if I was Phoenix I'd be worried that a truly bad Laker team with little to no inside presence was able to make them slow the game down to the extent that they did. This doesn't bode well for the Suns who will almost surely face a similar strategy in every opponent they face from here on out. Surely George Karl and Pop are paying attention.

At 4/23/2007 3:33 PM, Blogger dean said...



At 4/24/2007 12:50 AM, Anonymous blindblue said...

man, watching AK-47 blinking back tears in post-game is painful. you're only down 2-0! step it up, AK. use your annual gratuity if you have to, but get your mind right.


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