2003-2004 NBA Season

Casey Trowbridg

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Yeah, I also agree with Magic that people just need to lay off of KG. I think he deserves the MVP, and if you know how much I loathe to praise anything associated with Minnesota sports, that's a big consession on my part. (My hatred for Minnesota teams does not extend to the Twins, who got in my good graces when the pinheaded comissioner offered them up for contraction. He wants them gone, which is all the reason I need not to hate them)

Anyway, KG is clearly outmaned in this series...I don't think they'd won with a healthy Sam Cassel but the series would definitely be different. I also agree with those guys that you can't play the will he or won't he game, that if Martin is going to start that decision needs to be made a day ahead of time, for basically the reasons Barkley Kenny and Magic all gave.

I'm hoping for a game 6 if only because it will give me something to watch on Monday night, although to have 8 days off before the finals would be a nice deal also.

Oh, and lost in all of this, the announcers tonight, at least Doug Collins made a mention of the fact that there was one time that Hack-a-Shaq actually worked, although he did not go in to detail of when that was, and against who he just said it worked one time.

Oh my god...I just thought of something horrible. If it is possible, we could be in for some even worse playoff matchups in the East next season. Consider this, there will be 3 divisions in each conference now, so 3 division champions will be crowned.

Take a look at this...

South East
Atlanta
Charlotte
Miami
Orlando
Washington

I'm hoping right now that Orlando can turn things around quickly or that Miami doesn't somehow regress.

Indiana
Detroit
Cleveland
Chicago
Milwaukee
that should be the best one...

and
New York
New Jersey
Toronto
Boston
Philadelphia
can be interesting if some of these teams make nonstupid moves and don't manage to get worse instead of better.

I believe that the other divisions are...
Minnesota
Denver
Utah
Seattle
Portland

Dallas
Houston
Memphis
San Antonio
New Orleans
*that should be fun...

L.A. Clippers
L.A. Lakers
Golden State
Phoenix
Sacramento
*I'd love to see the Warriors get things going forward again, for reasons I don't want to explain right now, I kind of have a soft spot for that franchise.

Oh crap...wondering about this a bit more, wouldn't it be interesting if say next year you have a division winner from 1 division and then the second place team in that division has a better record than either of the other 2 division winners...so basically Detroit for instance would be like the 4th seed? Which would mean a matchup with the 5 seed which would probably be a tougher draw than the 2 division winners with worse records would end up getting. Its not so bad when its only a difference between playing the 7th seeded Knicks or the 6th seeded Bucks (going by this year's playoff results) but there's a bigger difference between playing the 7th seeded Knicks and the 5th seeded Hornets, maybe not in the outright winner of a series but perhaps in the number of games it takes to finish them off...the more games the more possibility something can go wrong injury wise and so on.

So basically, I'm praying that the East improves a ton this offseason.
 

Jan H

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What I mean by 'best all-around' is that his complete package of skills is unequalled. He is not in the Bird-Magic-Jordan class yet, due to their uncanny ability to will their team to championships, but I firmly believe he'll get his one day. But probably not this year...
 

Seth Paxton

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Wrong, because New Orleans heads west for next season.
Oh man, I forgot about realignment for the Bobcats. Well that's just great. Another talented big man moves West.



Didn't get a chance to post about the LA/Minny game, but it's starting to look like a 3 man team for Minny, and I mean 3 studs and a bunch of duds. Wally, Spree and KG looked like the only guys worthy of being on the court most of the night. I like The Mayor, but he's a far cry from those other guys. If Cassell were healthy (and wouldn't Hudson be nice about now) it might be a little better, but Minny just doesn't have enough to answer with IMO, at least as it looks like now.

Personally, I think LA's style is just relaxed, which passes for "bored" because they look the same to me no matter how well the game is going (or not). After all there is such a thing as confidence. I just think that what looks like low effort is generally just them feeling comfortable, even when they are losing (or do lose).

And I've said it a million times, it's KOBE who makes all the bad things go away. No matter how bad the set, how low the clock, whatever, that guy will get you points and make you forget how close you came to almost blowing it.


As for Indy/DET, I did say I thought they would get it handed to them in game 3 and then could win game 4, especially if they could get their shooting up. If there is one thing in the NBA I know, its the Pacers.

Jones was not quite on tonight, but he's looking better. Al had a much more typical game for himself. Bender seems moderately confident out there.

Indy fans cry for Kenny Anderson, but this is the 2nd playoff game in which he came in with a 20 point lead and left a little bit later with it down to 10 (roughly). Maybe when he was playing all the time he was stronger, but the reality is that right now he is worthless. Jamal may not be healthy but that doesn't make Kenny a good option. Better to go with 2 SGs than force Kenny in there.

Everyone's talking about AC and the spacing, which was a big factor, but his game is not much of a surprise. He didn't look stronger than Sheed, but he is quicker than him and can hit the outside shot. It reminds me of how he took advantage of Robert Horry in the 2000 Finals. DET will counter this of course, but with Freddie and JB looking to get more dialed in now, especially at home, I expect you will be seeing several other new matchup problems even as the AC issue gets "solved".

Plus, the Indy outside shooters generally shoot a lot better at home, and that means spacing even without AC.

And unfortunately some of the "AC factor" got mixed in with Kenny Anderson as AC left when Kenny came in and then returned when Kenny left. So it looked like AC made that happen, and he may have helped, but a lot of it was also getting Kenny out of there. Just look at Billups numbers in the 4th when Brown had him attack the hell out of Kenny over and over.



Okay, finally, WHOSE KNEE GOES THAT DIRECTION?!? Seriously, that's disturbing to see. That leg bent so far the wrong way I expected JOs kneecap to pop off. Gotta hand it to him, he came right back with a big block, and then gutted out the rest of the game.


A stat on the situation, beyond the odds of 2 teams both winning being up 2-1. Indy has NEVER LOST a 7 game series in which they won the first game. They have also never won a 7 game series in which they were down 2-1 (and they even had home court for a couple of those). Something has to give this time...I'm voting for the Indy win.
 

Seth Paxton

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I'm not sure neither of these teams can be L.A.
I'm sure neither of them want to, they are great as is.

Oh, I bet you meant "beat".



I forgot to mention my favorite moment of the game was like a 2 man version of Larry Bird. Late in the game Croshere swung the ball to Reggie for the 3, which he hit. But it was Artest on the weakside that was already going back the other way with his arm raised, index finger in the air, counting the shot while it was still in flight, ala Bird in the 3pt contest all those years ago. ESPN even caught it in slow-mo where you can see the ball in-flight behind his head and Ron's not even looking at it. Maybe cocky, but he sure was right about it. (I can see why a Piston fan wouldn't think this was such a great moment)
 

Seth Paxton

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This is just for me to brag on myself a bit. :b

Carlisle said after the game
But to protect their defensive issues Carlisle had to go to a zone for the first half of the 4th, so while they give you points they hurt you at the other end. Of course Indy was winning the "let's play offense" version so maybe that's what Rick needs to go to, a bit more tempo and offensive guys.
 

Gabe D

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Indy has NEVER LOST a 7 game series in which they won the first game. They have also never won a 7 game series in which they were down 2-1
Pacers have never won any NBA series in which they trailed at all, period. So hopefully that will change.

And the Pacers were able to win the all important Game 4. Happy birthday to me. I'll be rooting hard for the Pacers to win in 6, even though that would ruin my best gift: a pair of $105 tickets to Game 7.
 

george kaplan

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Sorry, but I need to vent again.

I'm sitting here listening to the local sports radio, and these two brothers who run a local show on Saturday. These guys actually used to be pretty good, but they've become more and more homerish and now are just ridiculous.

Now they want a national call for the firing of Craig Sagar (TNT's sideline guy) because he compared Kobe to cops and firefighters (actually he compared the brain chemistry of Kobe under playoff conditions with the brain chemistry of firefighters when fighting fires, etc.). Now that might be ridiculous (but then so are most of what people say about sports), but it's not ground for firing. And there's a hell of a lot of hyprocrisy in these two schmucks. These guys are 'outraged' at his remarks, and outraged that there isn't a public outrage calling for his ouster (and if TNT doesn't fire him, we should all boycott TNT according to them).

First, we know that Kobe cheated on his wife. We don't know for certain anything else, but with the news this week that the prosecutor's own testing shows that there was another man's sperm in her and on her panties when she went to the hospital, it's beginning to look more and more like she's falsely accusing Kobe of rape.

So, Kobe has to deal with what appear to be false rape allegations that threaten to send him to prison, and then play games and perform well. Is that heroic? Maybe, maybe not. Certainly not like firefighters or cops. But, it's certainly impressive (how many of us could face that kind of threat, and then turn around and do a great job at our work, completely focused?)

Did Kobe do something wrong? Sure, he had an affair. But if you threw out everyone in the NBA who had done so, then you'd basically have A.C. Green on the court playing with himself. OK, A.C. (an ex-Laker by the way) is retired, but you'd be hard pressed to come up with enough players to play even one game.

And that's what so fricking hypocritical about these morons on the radio, is that if it were a Spur who was found cheating and accused (perhaps wrongly) of rape, and then played well in a game, they'd be cheering him up and down. These guys are Spurs homers, and the Spurs lost to the Lakers on the court, so they have to rip the Lakers elsewhere, and if you have the gall to say something positive about them (even if it was poorly thought out), then you should be fired!

I've never quite understood why Craig Sager has a job, he's pretty incompetent at it, and probably should be fired, but NOT because of what he said about Kobe.

If anyone should be fired it's these clowns on the radio who can't be objective about the Spurs and the Lakers. The ONLY thing Kobe is known to have done wrong is sleep with another woman, and if most, if not all, of the Spurs players haven't done the same thing, I'll become a Sacramento Kings fan.

Ok, venting over.
 

Casey Trowbridg

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I never gave a second thought to what he said, as I figured what he meant when he said it so to me it really wasn't a big deal. He wasn't saying that Kobe was as heroic as cops and fire fighters are in their jobs.

Seth, yes I meant beat...although I'm sure that many of them would like to be a Laker, what with all those championships and everything else that comes with being a Laker.
 

BrandonM

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Also, while Sager said it, I'm pretty sure it was a Lakers team psychologist who had given him the information. If I remember correctly, Sager was mentioning how he spoke to a psychologist and they told him how Kobe was able to perform well after a day in court.
 

Seth Paxton

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I think it was Payton who said what I think is most accurate.

If you are facing losing your entire life, especially pro ball, then how do you NOT come out and put everything into what could be your last games. If anything it's like people feeling a greater zest for life just after they almost lost it.

Kobe may be guilty and he certainly put himself in a very bad situation in the first place. With his stardom even being unfaithful could be done with a lot less risk and with a rather large group of choices, like any number of celebrities that I'm sure would jump at the chance just as an example. So rape or not, the dude put himself in an awful position, not unlike walking down a dark alley on the bad side of town. Maybe he was naive, maybe he is guilty, but it sure as hell was avoidable.

But back on track, even if he didn't do it the court system isn't always perfect and the risk of jail does exist right now. So in that way I sort of think we should be expecting such results on the court from him. Of any Laker he is certainly the least likely to be "bored" on the court at this point, as its his one sanctuary, the one place he can turn to where he feels he has some control.

I'd compare him to a guy who just found out he has cancer and might not live through the treatments. That guy is more likely to increase his love of the life that remains, not curl up in a ball and hide (though that could happen too).

And even more so because athletic efforts are prescribed as very good STRESS OUTLETS, they are the very thing people do turn to under stress and which work very well to relieve it. It's nothing like a fireman or policeman because in taking action they INVITE NEW STRESS they aren't reducing it with their efforts. After a day of policework or firefighting those guys would go play ball to unwind. Kobe would never go work homocide to relieve the stress of the NBA and no one would think that would be the result even if he did.


Sager should be fired for his suits, not that comment.




BTW, just think if Kobe were to be found guilty how weird this year would be (hey, it already is but I think we are just used to it).
 

Seth Paxton

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Speaking of Kobe, am I the only one that finds it disturbing to see a shot of Mike Tyson (with big face tatoos and all) hold up a "Free Kobe" sign at Staples Center?

If I were Kobe I would be like "dude, stay off my side".
 

Casey Trowbridg

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Ok, I have a question...I don't get a lot of NBA games that aren't ESPN/ABC/TNT, so I've wondered this. Ok, you know how they show the celebs at the Laker games at Staples?

For those that have seen Clipper home games, what kind of celebs are at those games? Screech from Saved by the Bell? Ircle? I don't know why, but I really need to know it.
 

Brandon_T

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Seth, I want to personally thank you for not rubbing it in my face about the game last night. I am just thinking of it as a bad game for the Pistons, and hope they pull it out. Unlike you however, I am hoping the stat of never coming back from a 2-1 deficit is what holds true!
 

Jan H

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Casey,

I've seen every Laker game this year except Game 1 of the WC finals (opening night of a play I'm directing), and the celebs that absolutely don't miss a Laker home game are Jack (duh), Dyan Cannon, Eddie Murphy and Leo (and his band of brat-packers including Tobey McGuire). The only celeb Clipper fan that has that same level of attendance that I'm aware of is Billy Crystal.
 

Casey Trowbridg

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Jan, that's interesting.

Way to let the other team finish the half strong their Lakers!

Seriously, I'm really not liking what's happened, they had what turns out to be a 16 point swing in momentum from up 10 to down 6.

I hope they turn things up in the next half...and tonight its not the matter of them not showing up, they came out strong and seemed to give it all back.
 

george kaplan

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I completely disagree. Tonight we saw what happens when they decide not to put in the effort for long stretches of a game. This is unacceptable. I realize no player can sprint down the court full speed for a full 48 minutes. But what passed as effort tonight was just pathetic.
 

Casey Trowbridg

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I have sort of a different view of things than does George.

98-96 was the final score.
The game was more like 106-96 if you know what I mean.

The T-wolves got to the Lakers tonight. Maybe the Lakers looked disinterested at times, but I think that was more a function of what was happening in the game than just them not caring. In game 2 I fealt that they didn't give a damn from the opening tip onward. Tonight, I don't believe that to be the case, I believe they came out strong. When Minnesota got back in the game and built that large lead is where I fealt they lost interest and didn't care. They got it back for a time and turned this in to a game late, but really it was too little too late by then.

Minnesota did great tonight, they managed to win without putting Shaq on the line over 20 times, what did he have 11 free throw attempts?

Shaq had a quiet game, and the Lakers lost. It should be obvious to anyone by now even those that seem the least willing to give Shaq any credit that as Shaq goes in this series, so goes the Lakers.

Minnesota played like tonight was game 7, but unfortunately for them they have to play at least one more and maybe 2 more game 7's before it is over.

The East winner benefits from this a bit because the Lakers won't have a week off before the finals now, like they would've if they had won tonight's game, and that can only help the team that comes from the conference which could use all the help it can get.

I said Lakers in 6 and this is loss number 2 so it is going like I thought it would go.

Again, nothing tonight surprised me.

Now if Minnesota wins game 6 that will surprise me.

But

It ends in Staples on Monday Night.

I think the whole thing went to hell though for that brief time in the second quarter when the Lakers went with that small line-up. That won’t work against the T-Wolves, not having Shaq or Malone, or even Medvadenko on the floor was really not a good move.
The Lakers had a chance to end it early in the game they were up by 10, and then went a stone cold 4-14 from the field, that’s not good. I call it lack of a killer instinct. I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating, I don’t think this team has the killer instinct that was there for the Bulls teams that Phil Jackson coached. In otherwords, I feel that if the Bulls of that era were playing tonight this series would’ve been over.
 

Carlo Medina

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Good game by the Wolves. I knew that they'd play well in front of their home crowd, and I also was doing the math in my head as to what 19000 fans x $500 avg ticket price at Staples (that's 9.5 mil) and figured we'd see a Game 6.


And before you accuse me of 20/20 hindsight I basically told all of my coworkers that on Friday so I have about a dozen witnesses! :p)

I wouldn't label the Lakers performance tonight as disinterest. But I will say that Kobe looked lethargic at times, and was unwilling to get his teammates involved like he did in Games 3-4. They also went away in large stretches of going through O'Neal. And by that I don't mean that Shaq didn't hoist up 20 shots. The ball has to go into him first, and then he kicks out to open shooters or cutters if he's doubled. Like they did in Games 3-4. The other successful thing they run that works is the pick-n-roll w/ Payton. Almost none of that tonight.

It's funny how they go away from everything that worked in Games 3-4. It's not like the Wolves ever showed them that they could stop any of those tactics I mentioned. But whatever. Fish's shot at the end (in fact the whole Laker run at the end) was more a statement I think than anything. The Wolves were up 10 most of the time, and then the Lakers basically said "whatever momentum you were hoping to take back to L.A...here ya go!" Swish.

Looking forward to Game 6 though. I would have been bummed to have no Laker ball to watch until next weekend. Hopefully this won't bite them in the ass (i.e. not giving 100% for this game, or following their established game plan and having Minny steal one on the road forcing a one game series).
 

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