Say what you like, but the Lakers are nothing if not predictable. After an expected near-blowout loss in Game 4, they came back and won in LA for game 5, pushing the Nuggets to, at the very least, 7 games, and possibly to the golf course.
Before I go any further, let me say this: The next time someone says that the Lakers have no problem scoring, I'm going to threaten him/her with knives. It's become quite the trendy thing to say, that the Lakers can score at will but only defend when they feel like it.
That. Is. Nonsense.
Just because the Lakers can score with relative ease doesn't mean they do. They frequently play stretches where they miss 5 or 6 straight shots from the field. Missed layups, missed threes, missed free throws, whatever, the fact is that they miss lots of shots, and usually when they're playing poor defense. Don't say the Lakers score at will, because if they did, they wouldn't have to play defense. They shoot right around 45% on average, just like everybody else in the damn league. Stop it. It would be a completely different story if they were winning/losing games with scores like 140-135, but they aren't.
Beyond that, I think Los Angeles played two good quarters and two average quarters last night. The fourth quarter, obviously, was their best, as they outscored the Nuggets 27-18 to break a third quarter tie and win the game. They also played a good second half of their third and first quarters, both times remembering they had to play defense to be effective.
I'm still taking issue with Phil Jackson's rotations. He really likes Derek Fisher, and while I'm a Fish fan myself, the best point guard on the floor last night was Shannon Brown. Let the kid play, particularly when his dunk over this clown* was probably the turning point in the game.
Also irritating was the Lakers' refusal to get the ball to their big men, yet again. Gasol and Bynum finished the game 9 of just 17, with Gasol going 5 of just 8. Get the ball to Pau and good things happen...somehow, the guys with the biggest offensive advantages are getting ignored by the triangle. Granted, it would help if Gasol would stop dropping passes from Kobe.
Lamar Odom had a big night, but I think it's being exaggerated a bit. He finished 7 of 15 with 19 points, 4 blocks, 15 rebounds, and 4 offensive rebounds. Those are good numbers, don't get me wrong, but he was taking some Dumb Shots (c) and only shot 4-7 from the free throw line. He missed a lot of makeable shots early on and missed Bryant open in the corner a couple times. It was a good game, no doubt, but certainly not what Odom is capable of.
Game 6 is Friday, and I fully expect the Lakers to lose by 20. Wouldn't it be nice if they won?
Memo to Whiskey's in Boston: It shouldn't take 15 people in Kobe jerseys to convince you to put an NBA playoff game on at least 1 of your 25 TV's. The Red Sox play 162 games...I'm sure your clientele can deal with 2 TV's not showing David Ortiz striking out on belt-high fastballs.
* Steph, in particular, has claimed that she's a fan of Andersen despite his "carefully over exaggerated in-game persona." I, on the other hand, respect his defensive skills (4 BS in 24 minutes), but let's not forget that 1.) he was suspended by the NBA for two years for violations of drug policy, and 2.) that "over exaggerated in-game persona" is something I see as selfishness. He can still do all that dumb Birdman crap without the ridiculous hair/"beard," and frankly I don't see his act as anything more than pandering to the crowd. Basketball is (and always has been) a game of style, but that's something I've never respected. I also don't think someone who's come back from a drug suspension is necessarily worth any sort of commendation. Josh Hamilton also falls into this bucket...your ability to return from your own stupid decisions shouldn't earn you a medal.
Angels 3, White Sox 1
I missed most of this game (as I hope any combination baseball/basketball fan did), but caught the last few innings once I had returned home and had access to my Slingbox and ESPN simultaneously.
First of all, Jered Weaver is this year's Joe Saunders. Weaver's been putting it together quite nicely, pitching 8 innings tonight on just 103 pitches. Weaver's discovery? First pitch strikes. Hell, strikes overall. He threw 67 of them last night, picking up 8 K's to just a single walk, giving up one run on a sac fly. You can't ask for much more, aside from the last three outs, which Fuentes nailed down with little in the way of hysterics. Sure, Frankie looks great as a Met, but I don't miss the angina during his saves.
The Angels, thankfully, have an off day.
- Tim Brown says Torii Hunter is an AL MVP candidate. I agree, but Evan Longoria is the clear choice right now. You can't argue, though, that Torii's become the face of the franchise, and you couldn't ask for a better face.
- The Magic have the chance to eliminate Cleveland tonight. Don't bank on it.
- This site's got some pretty cool shirts. I'm fond of this and this, but this is my personal favorite.
- Also, this and this in the mail. Hilarious sieve pictures forthcoming.