Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Old Nemesis

Tough Laker loss tonight, though a road loss to the Spurs is never shameful. What made the loss tough was how well the Lakers played in the first half, completely outplaying the Spurs. Then the third quarter came, and by the end of that 12 minute period the Lakers went from a 9-point lead to a 10-point deficit. 19 point swing in a quarter - that is tough to stomach.

And you know the worst part? It's all my fault. You see, I was in my apartment watching the first half, and everything was clicking. Kobe was orchestrating the offense beautifully, telling guys where to go, making his move, and then hitting them in the exact spot he'd just told them to occupy. The defense was swarming. The Spurs looked old. Then, at halftime, I decided to TiVo the second half and go get some chicken katsu curry with friends.

Well, that chicken katsu curry was delicious. Really, really good. Hit the spot. Spicy, steaming, crispy, perfect. And, with every bite, I was dooming my team. You see, when your team is clicking, you don't move. You stay where you were. You try not to shift positions, let alone get changed, leave the house, and record the game. I could argue that I was hungry, but I had ramen. I had the number to Domino's. The Spurs beat the Lakers just because I couldn't resist the siren call of chicken katsu curry.

A few thoughts:
  • In the first half, Turiaf had a very strong performance. He played tough defense on Duncan, even blocking a Duncan fadeaway, and showed impressive versatility in cutting hard to the basket for a few dunks and mixing in some mid-range jumpers as well. Unfortunately, we stuck with Kwame for all of the third quarter, probably due to his greater size and strength playing Duncan. Rony is a good change to throw at post players once in a while, but Kwame still is a better position defender.
  • Kwame over Turiaf hurt our offense a lot, though it's unclear that that was the main problem. Kobe came out gunning in the third and put up some very questionable shots, and the rest of the team fell into a dismal pattern of standing around and watching. So much for conducting an orchestra - this was more like punching the concertmaster in the face and stealing his violin.
  • The most frustrating part of the Lakers offense was Lamar Odom. Throughout the game, he was defended by a smaller man - Mike Finley, the surprisingly effective Udoka, Brent Barry. To his credit, Lamar did try to post up a few times, but didn't get the ball. Too often he would float out to the perimeter and just swing the ball. He also got called for an obvious offensive foul once by shoving Finley, clearly frustrated that he wasn't getting the pass and/or the inside position he wanted. There were no Odom drives to the hoop, and while he did work hard on the glass, I thought it was too passive of a game for LO. Get post position, and demand the ball! Stop thinking about your bong!
  • Then again, maybe Phil needs to tell his team to feed it to Odom more in a game where he's drawing the obvious mismatch. That would help. So would not having so many mental lapses by throwing the ball away.
  • On defense, the Lakers just need to get smarter. Believe it or not, Sasha, it's not a smart move to leave Brent Barry to collapse on a driving Jacque Vaughn - and he did that two or three times. You have to know who's driving, and Jacque is not going to finish around the basket. The D overall wasn't bad, but players seemed a little too willing to help when the primary defender didn't need the help.
  • DJ Mbenga was horrible. Worse than Kwame. Mbenga : Kwame :: Kwame : Bynum.
But hey, the first half was beautiful. If only I'd resisted the most delicious dish in the world.

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