Tag Archives: pau gasol

Lakers’ physicality the key in Game 1 win over Celtics

Kobe and his teammates attacked the paint and pounded the Celtics on the boards in Game 1. (Pic via Getty Images/Christian Petersen)

There was a time when Pau Gasol wanted nothing better than to let his teammates do the dirty work. There was a time when he appeared to be genuinely afraid of Kevin Garnett.

Those times are only a distant memory now.

Gasol scored 23 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and even blocked three shots as the Lakers cruised to a 102-89 win over the Celtics in Game 1.

The game was won in the second and third quarters, when the Lakers turned up the intensity and began looking to run against the aging Celtics.

L.A. held a 42-31 edge on the boards and was able to get to the basket at will. The Lakers are the bigger team in the series, and also the more athletic team.

Boston needs to play harder and smarter to have a chance.

Rajon Rondo finished with 13 points and eight assists, and had a +/- of -17. Meanwhile, Nate Robinson was scoreless in 13 minutes but had a +/- of +10. Amazingly, the Celtics offense looked better when Rondo was on the bench.

Rondo was content to settle for jump shots against Kobe Byrant’s sagging defense.

Kobe finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. He looked extremely fresh and active after another extended layoff.

Doc Rivers has some adjustments to make heading into Game 2. Kevin Garnett scored 16 points in 34 minutes but wasn’t very effective. He looked exhausted by the third quarter and struggled on both ends. Rivers needs to reduce his minutes a bit.

The same can be said for the wounded Kendrick Perkins, who was outplayed by the wounded Andrew Bynum. Perkins can barely get off the ground thanks to a balky knee.

Rasheed Wallace has played well when given a chance in the playoffs and should get starters minutes in the remainder of the NBA Finals. His shooting ability helps the Celtics space the floor for Rondo and Pierce to get to the basket.

The Celtics will look to bounce back Sunday in Game 2.

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Amare stands tall and talented as Suns take Game 3

Amar'e dropped 42 on the Lakers in Game 3, but his defense and rebounding made the biggest difference. (Getty Images)

Amar’e Stoudemire has an amazing combination of size, strength, and athleticism.  There’s no reason he can’t dominate whenever he puts his mind to it.  In Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, he finally put his mind to it.

Ultra-aggressive from the opening tip, Amar’e scored 42 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.  He played harder defensively, even taking a charge in the third quarter.

Stoudemire’s performance showed that he is worth a max contract.  He endured a onslaught of well-deserved criticism in the days following a horrible performance in Game 2, but didn’t make any excuses or lose confidence in his ability.

The Suns’ best defense against Pau Gasol is to attack him on the defensive end in pick and rolls.  Amar’e and Robin Lopez destroyed the Lakers in Game 3–Lopez erupted for 20 points in just 29 minutes.

The attacking Suns shot 37-of-42 from the foul line in the game, while the Lakers attempted just 20 free throws.

Alvin Gentry’s strategic adjustment also helped the Suns take Game 3.

The Suns scrapped the double-teaming concept against Kobe and turned to a 2-3 zone.  Although zone defenses rarely work in the NBA, the Suns did just enough to bother the Lakers.  L.A. settled for long jumpers and 3-pointers against the zone, ignoring Pau Gasol for long stretches of the second half.

Kobe Bryant, who finished with 36 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists, didn’t shoot his first free throw until the third quarter.  He did much of his damage from outside the lane and didn’t look to penetrate against the zone.

Phil Jackson and his staff appeared to be caught off guard by the zone defense.  Expect the Lakers to make adjustments, starting by pounding the ball inside.

Both teams played well throughout, making Game 3 a delightful watch in what has been a very disappointing playoffs thus far.  The Suns might not beat the Lakers, but they won’t stop fighting.

Here are some other notes from Game 3:

-Steve Nash was brilliant–offensively at least.  17 points, 15 assists, and one turnover.  He was responsible for leaving Derek Fisher open throughout the game: Fisher finished with 18 points.  That really shouldn’t happen.

-Jason Richardson had 27 points in Game 2.  Somehow, his 19 points in Game 3 seemed much more important.  He shot 4-of-7 from behind the arc and hit a number of big shots.

-Robin Lopez is an ugly, ugly, man.  He looked exhausted by the end of the game, but he did work throughout.  His offensive game is much improved and he won’t back down from Pau Gasol.

-Andrew Bynum is basically worthless at this point.  He played seven minutes in Game 3, scoring two points and committing four fouls.  The Lakers would be wise to shut him down for the remainder of the playoffs.

-TNT analyst Doug Collins spoke briefly about his new job as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, saying he was excited to go back to the City of Brotherly Love.

Game 4 is Tuesday evening.  Don’t bank on a Celtics-Lakers finals quite yet.

Defenseless: Adjustments the Suns need to make in Game 3

Amar'e has been at the center of the Suns' defensive shortcomings against the Lakers. (Cal Sports Media/Pic via everyjoe.com)

Throughout the broadcast of Game 2 between the Lakers and Suns Thursday night, TNT analysts Charles Barkley kept hammering home a simple point: the Suns are simply too small to beat the Lakers. Citing Steve Nash’s comments, Barkley astutely pointed out that the Suns probably aren’t going to get taller during the series.

We hear you, Chuck.

Even though the Suns aren’t going to get any bigger, it’s very obvious that they could (and should) do a few things differently in Game 3 Sunday.

The Suns need to play with more effort and more intelligence on the defensive end.

Pau Gasol is absolutely abusing Amar’e Stoudemire, who hasn’t gotten in a defensive stance during his entire NBA career. Gasol is a tough cover for anyone; he has incredible footwork and a wide-array of post moves. But he had at least six layups/dunks during Game 2 thanks to bad rotations by the Suns and horrible pick and roll defense by Amar’e.

At some point, it has to become a matter of pride. Amar’e believes in himself and his ability to dominate on the offensive end. The Suns need to make a better effort to get him the ball and see what he can do. Even if Amar’e doesn’t hit shots, he needs to at least make Gasol and Lamar Odom work on the defensive end.

If Amar’e isn’t aggressive offensively, he might as well be on the bench. He brings no value to the Suns.

A little more effort from Amar’e could limit Gasol to around 20 points. That would be enough to give the Suns a pretty decent chance, especially at home.

Aside from Stoudemire’s struggles, Alvin Gentry’s strategy to double-team Kobe in Game 2 clearly backfired. Kobe looked comfortable from the opening tip, finishing with 21 points and a playoff career-high 13 assists.

When the Suns doubled, they left the wrong people open. Ron Artest is capable of hitting standstill corner 3’s. Derek Fisher has made a career out of it.

The Lakers are simply too good to double team Kobe. Just play him straight up with Grant Hill or Jared Dudley, make him work, and hope that he slowly starts to lose his burst as the series drags on.

How long with series last? The prevailing sentiment after Game 2 is that the Suns have no chance. But the Suns aren’t going to stop scoring–the Lakers probably won’t get 120 again in Game 3. Role players tend to play better at home–meaning Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar are unlikely to replicate their strong numbers in the first two games.

How often does a road team score 107 and 112 points on the road and lose? Frankly, it shouldn’t happen.

Time to man up, Phoenix.

Flashback: Kobe drops 40, Lakers hang 128 on horrible Suns defense

Gasol and Odom dominated the paint in Game 1, and Kobe did the rest. (Pic via NBAE/Getty Images)

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals stirred memories of vintage Kobe Bryant and the historically soft Suns defense, as the Lakers cruised a 128-107 win.

Kobe looked energized, exploding to the basket and elevating on his jumpers.  He connected on 12-of-23 shots from the floor, including 3-of-6 from downtown.

But the real difference in Game 1 was in the paint.

Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol combined for 40 points and 23 rebounds.  Odom was very aggressive all night and played with unusual physicality.

The much-improved Suns defense looked overwhelmed against the bigger Lakers.  Robin Lopez looked good in his first game since late March, but Amare Stoudemire got abused by Pau Gasol all night long.

Stoudemire finished with 23 points and just three rebounds.  Steve Nash finished with 13 points and 13 assists in limited minutes.

Kobe had to work against Grant Hill, but exploded for most of his 21 points after Hill went to the bench with his fifth foul in the third quarter.

Leading by 14 going into the fourth quarter, Phil Jackson left his starters in while Alvin Gentry rested Nash and Stoudemire.  The lead quickly ballooned to 20 and that was that.

The Kobe-Hill matchup should be interesting to watch as this series continues.  Jared Dudley is much too slow to stay with Kobe, and Jason Richardson is too small.  It’s Hill or nothing for the Suns.

Postgame audio and Shannon Brown missed dunk coming in a bit.

Size Matters: Highlights of Lakers’ Game 2 win over Jazz

After two games, it’s clear that the Jazz simply have no answer for the Lakers’ size.

Pau Gasol scored 22 points, Andrew Bynum added 17 points to go along with 14 rebounds and four blocks, and Lamar Odom finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds off the bench as the Lakers held off a late rally by the Jazz for a 111-103 win.

The Lakers held a 58-40 advantage on the boards and blocked 13 shots in Game 2.

Kobe looked good for the second straight game, scoring 30 points on 10-of-22 shooting. More importantly, he had good lift, elevating on jump shots and exploding to the basket.

There is no question Kobe’s knee is worth paying attention to as this series continues.

The Jazz might need something drastic, like for instance an injury to Kobe or Pau Gasol, to have a chance in this series.

Carlos Boozer really struggles against bigger players. The absence of Andrei Kirilenko forces 6-4 Wes Matthews to check 6-8 Kobe Bryant. Undersized Paul Millsap can score against larger opponents, but gets killed on the boards.

One thing is certain: the Utah Jazz won’t go down without a fight.

This is Pau Gasol beating the Thunder

After watching the Thunder give the Lakers all they could handle, there obviously wasn’t much of a difference between the two teams. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are the reason the Lakers survived Round One against the upstart Thunder.

Gasol tipped-in Kobe Bryant’s miss with 0.8 seconds remaining to give the Lakers a 95-94 win over the Thunder Friday in front a frenzied OKC crowd.

After dominating Game 5, Bynum and Gasol were quiet for much of game six. Bynum tallied six points and four rebounds while Gasol finished with just nine points but grabbed 18 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant scored 16 of his 32 points in the third quarter to help the Lakers fight off a pesky Thunder team.

Kevin Durant had another miserable shooting game, finishing with 26 points on just 5-of-23 shooting. Russell Westbrook put himself on the map by dominating the Lakers at times throughout the series. He scored 21 points and dished out nine assists in Game 6, committing no turnovers in 42 minutes.

The future is bright for Oklahoma City, which has a ton of cap space and two blossoming superstars. Chris Bosh is rumored to have serious interest in joining the Thunder, regardless of where LeBron ends up.

Things won’t get any easier for Kobe and the Lakers, who will have to scrap and claw to survive in the West.

Lakers overwhelm sluggish Magic in Game 5 to capture 15th title

Strong performances from Gasol and Ariza in Game 5 helped Kobe win his first title as the main man.

Strong performances from Gasol and Ariza in Game 5 helped Kobe win his first title as the main man.

Kobe Bryant got plenty of help from his teammates throughout the finals as he continued his quest to win a title sans Shaq. Another balanced effort by the supporting cast Sunday night helped Kobe and the Lakers win the NBA Championship with a 99-86 win over Orlando in Game 5.

Kobe was named MVP after averaging 32.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and 7.4 apg in the finals. His control and leadership in the series boosted his already-impressive resume.

Meanwhile, the Magic wilted after a strong start. Trevor Ariza keyed a 16-0 run midway through the second quarter that catapulted the Lakers into the lead. Lamar Odom’s back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter pushed the Laker lead to 11 and put the game out of reach.

Dwight Howard showed no signs of the ferocious play he displayed in Game 4. Ariza dominated Hedo Turkgolu, who scored a quiet 12 points in what could end up being his last game with the Magic. Rafer Alston, also perhaps playing his final game with the team, responded to increased playing time by launching shots at every opportunity. Jameer Nelson was even more aggressive; the duo shot a combined 7-22.

Stan Van Gundy had to be disappointed in his team, which played with almost no energy or intelligence in the second half.

Kobe led the way in Game 5 with a workmanlike 30 points, but Odom’s 17 points and Ariza’s 15 keyed the victory.

Phil Jackson claimed his 10 NBA title and could choose to finally walk away from the game at age 62. Or maybe he will hook up with LeBron in a couple years to go for No. 11.

Next year is right around the corner.

Stay tuned for highlights and the postgame press conference.