The Fundamentals

» April 26, 2009 11:42 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

Charley Rosen of FOXSports.com:  “For the game, Bryant’s 38 points came on 16-of-24 shooting overall. Even more impressive, however, was Kobe’s making 14-of-20 shots longer than 15 feet — some of them being nothing less than miracle-makes. And he came out of the chute with fire in his eyes — hitting his first five shots and scoring LA’s first eleven points. Kobe’s stellar performance was partly a function of his brilliant talents only because the lethal sharpness of his competitive edge is always his primary motivation. In fact, the only member of the Lakers family whose will to win matches Kobe’s is Phil Jackson — as evidenced in this particular game by the way in which PJ got into Odom’s face for some slack play late in the fourth quarter despite the Lakers overwhelming lead. In sum, a great team beat a good team — and will again on Monday in L.A. One reason why the Lakers qualify in the former category is because they have a dynamic go-to scorer. BUT the one overwhelming reason why the Jazz are merely good — despite the considerable skills of Williams and the lefty-leaning forcefulness of Boozer — is that they lack a super-duper-star like D-Wade, LBJ, or better yet, Kobe Bryant.”

Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune:  “‘We played harder,’ Lakers guard Derek Fisher said. ‘It’s that simple. The defense was much better tonight than it was on Thursday. We did a better job of limiting them to one shot, and we did a much better job controlling their points in the paint.’ That defensive effort showed up in two key junctures — one being the 20-2 run that turned things around in the second quarter and the other the 16 points the Lakers held the Jazz to in the third period. There were no easy looks for Utah. The pick-and-roll offense, so effective in Game 3, was almost non-existent on Saturday. Every shot was contested and the Jazz got almost no easy buckets in transition. ‘They pulled one of our tricks on us this game,’ Utah guard Ronnie Brewer said. ‘They stretched out the pick and roll, and they forced Deron [Williams], to the baseline and that had an effect on us. They also did a good job of taking the cross-court pass away, and that limited our open looks.’”

John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune:  “The Hornets would’ve sunk against Denver on Saturday if Posey hadn’t been around to keep them afloat, likely would’ve left the New Orleans Arena court with something a lot less pleasing than a 95-93 victory that pulled them to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series if the hardened veteran hadn’t injected some poise, cool and shot-making. ‘We had a rough start,’ Posey said. ‘Rough’ barely grazes the surface of the totality of New Orleans’ early awfulness. With 4:35 left in the first quarter, the Hornets, who virtually had guaranteed they’d play better in Game 3 than in Games 1 and 2 because they’d be playing at home, trailed the Nuggets 22-6 and looked as if they had never before set foot in the Arena. Tyson Chandler and David West each had two fouls, and New Orleans had as many turnovers (three) as field goals. But the first thing Posey did after subbing in for West was make a couple of foul shots with 3:57 left. And less than a minute after that, he hit a 3-pointer. He added another 3-pointer with 2:14 left, and when the horn sounded, the Hornets had closed the quarter on a 15-4 run, with Posey scoring 10 points in the final 4:35.”

Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post:  “None of the Nuggets believes the team needs to make major fixes. Anthony pointed to the hustle categories, such as offensive rebounding and getting after loose balls, which the Nuggets did well Saturday. ‘We’re fine,’ guard Chauncey Billups said. ‘We’re up 2-1 and have an opportunity to try and steal one here on Monday night. We’re going to put everything we have into trying to do that.’ Coach George Karl has praised his team all season as being one that doesn’t let failure linger. The Nuggets have shown the ability to forget about tough losses. Forward Kenyon Martin said there’s no reason to think the Nuggets won’t do that again Monday night. ‘I don’t expect anything less from this team but to come out and compete better than we did today,’ Martin said. ‘We just (have to) come out, put everything on the line.’ The Nuggets haven’t lost consecutive games in more than a month, since a three-game skid March 6-9. Since then, the Nuggets have been nearly untouchable.”

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:  “This was about more than Wade again tattooing all defensive comers in a 29-point, eight-assist, seven-rebound performance. It was about more than O’Neal dominating in the post to a degree far greater than his 22 points and 10 rebounds would indicate. It was about knowing that Atlanta has to win on this court at least once to advance, and knowing the Hawks have now lost their last five playoff road games by 130 total points, with Game 4 back on this court Monday at 8 p.m. ‘The bottom line,’ Hawks coach Mike Woodson said, ‘is they’re outworking us.’ That hunger was typified when Wade refused to take his normal rest at the start of the fourth quarter, even with the Heat up 14.”

Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:  “If the Hawks can’t come up with a better plan for slowing down Wade, it’ll be a painful end to what was once a promising season. The NBA scoring champ led the Heat with 29 points, eight assists and four blocks, and also had seven rebounds. ‘If we don’t find a way to slow him and the Heat down, we’re going to keep getting our heads busted like this,’ Hawks forward Josh Smith said. ‘We’re up against it now. And we’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror and realize that we can’t get out of this mess without doing it together.’ While the Hawks have looked like a fragile bunch coming apart under the pressure of the playoff glare, the Heat is playing inspired basketball. They collected a franchise-record 12 blocks, sending the message early that, whatever the Hawks thought might be easy after their Games 1 blowout of the Heat, was not to be.”

David Moore of The Dallas Morning News:  “Think back to the first-round loss to Golden State two years ago. The more former coach Avery Johnson raved about Baron Davis, the more he talked about his will to win and how true stars put teams on their back, the bigger indictment it was of Nowitzki. There is no need to point fingers at Nowitzki in this series because the Mavericks have a 3-1 lead. The players have picked up the offensive slack. They’ve got his back after he’s had theirs for so many years. Don’t look now, but a team is coming together before our eyes. ‘Guys are selling out for one another,’ forward Josh Howard said. ‘It’s about us, these guys in the locker room. We put everything aside and are just going out there to play.’ It’s not just offense. The Mavericks won for the first time all season Saturday when shooting less than 40 percent from the field. Who made a key defensive play late by taking a charge? Nowitzki.”

Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News:  “Bonner has stretched defenses, as Horry once did, and Bonner has been statistically better than Horry ever was. Bonner finished the regular season shooting 44 percent from 3-point range. Horry was never higher than 38 percent in San Antonio, and last season he dipped to 25. Still, it was never about how many Horry made. It was about when. His Game 5 in Detroit will forever be legend in San Antonio, but he changed first-round series, too. He did in 2007, in Denver, in both the third and fourth games. That’s often overlooked in this era. As dynastic as the Spurs have been, their success could have been derailed by one play in April. No one mourned Horry’s loss this season, especially as Roger Mason Jr. hit big shots in the regular season. Besides, if there’s anyone the Spurs have missed, it’s been Manu Ginobili. Then came Saturday. As Parker and Duncan filled up the box score, they were missing more than Ginobili. They were missing the other 10 guys in uniform.”

Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press:  “In the playoffs, teams are expected to bring at least one player to an interview room to answer questions. Friday night, Rip Hamilton drew the short straw. Of course he didn’t want to be there. That was apparent. But let me tell you: He was fabulous. When somebody asked about finally being on the short side of a lopsided playoff series, he said, “This is killing me, I’m not gonna lie.” And then, when asked about at least showing heart Friday night, he said this: Oh, how I would love to hear those words from Rasheed Wallace. After Game 2 in Cleveland, Wallace snarled at the media for approaching him — “I don’t know why y’all are hanging around my locker for” — and sat there, in his game shorts and no shirt, sending what I assume were extremely important text messages. He should do better this time. Let’s see the Rasheed that his teammates like, instead of the one fans dislike.”

Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer:  “Zydrunas Ilgauskas has a new nickname. During their afternoon film session at a suburban Detroit hotel Saturday, Ilgauskas’ teammates roared when the clip of him ‘executing’ a fast break in Friday’s Game 3 victory over the Pistons. On the play, Ilgauskas chased down a loose ball and ran to the other end. Inexplicably when he reached the foul line, Ilgauskas left his feet and apparently started to panic. Luckily for him, LeBron James caught up and saved the day with a basket and foul and Ilgauskas got a rather sheepish assist. And the new moniker. ‘We’re calling him ‘Magic’ Ilgauskas,’ coach Mike Brown said. ‘The clip of him jumping in the air and floating for two-tenths of a second and making the pass to LeBron … my stomach just turned.’”

Jason Quick of The Oregonian:  “The frustrating aspect of Aldridge’s mind games is that double-teams and defensive schemes to stop him are nothing new. He estimated that he was double-teamed in about half of the Blazers’ 82 regular-season games. He says what makes the Rockets different is that Scola is beating him to the spot where Aldridge likes to set up on offense, on the edge of the block, where players line up for free throws. When Scola beats him to that spot, he is able to push Aldridge out on the perimeter, where it becomes easier to trap him with a double-team. On the rare occasions when Aldridge is able to get the deep post position, Scola is fronting him, making it tougher for the Blazers guards to pass him the ball. Through it all, Aldridge is battling his mind. If he had his druthers, he would just play basketball — catch, dribble, shoot. But in two of the three games now, his mind has led to his defeat. The worst part about it is he usually realizes that it’s happening.”

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle:  “For the Rockets, the challenge is to move the ball quickly and find the open spots. They didn’t do this in a Game 2 loss, did it much better in a Game 3 victory. Adelman believes Yao could help himself by not fighting so hard for position. When two guys are shoving each other, refs don’t know who to whistle for the foul. He wants less of the grabbing and holding, but in the end, believes Yao could do some strategic things differently. ‘He’s got to relax and let them do all the work, and then pick his spots and let us try to find him,’ Adelman said. ‘He’s working too hard to try and get position. As a result, he’s getting wrapped up and can’t move to the ball with his hands free. Even when he goes to the offensive board, they’ve got a hand locked up. He can’t release his hands. I want him to pick his spots where he can go get the ball. That’s all he can do at this point.’”

Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times:  “In Game 3, the Celtics continued to block Rose’s path to the hoop, derailing the Bulls’ draw-and-kick game by having Kendrick Perkins (6-10, 280 pounds) or Glen Davis (6-9, 289) leave their man and help defend Rose when he drives the lane. Rose finished Game 3 with nine points on 4-for-14 field-goal shooting. ‘They’re doing a good job of it,’ Rose said. ‘Wherever I drive, [Perkins is] always there, or Davis is there. So it’s kind of tough driving to the hole. But I’ve got to find a way to get to the hole and make plays for other people.’ The Bulls don’t have the same wide bodies with which to help clog the lane for Rondo, the man Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro called a ‘one-man fast break.’ Noah is 6-11 but only 232 pounds, and Tyrus Thomas is 6-9, 215. And even if Rondo finds a roadblock, he has found ways to get the ball to teammates. He’s averaging 9.7 assists. The Bulls must move the ball better than they did in Game 2, when they had 14 assists and 22 turnovers. ‘We’re playing 2-on-1 on the weak side,’ Del Negro said.”

Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer:  “The difference between the regular season and now is the fluidity of the strategy throughout the game. In the regular season, the defense shown the Magic was the same for an entire game. Let’s look at it even further. When Howard catches the ball, back to the basket, he seems to look both ways as if he’s crossing a street, checking for the oncoming traffic. But this is about rhythm. The beat of Howard’s move is almost audible: One dribble, lean, next dribble, lean, third dribble, bounce, step, up, shot. Give Howard his points – and the Sixers have – just don’t give him rhythm. And they haven’t. After six or seven possessions with one-on-one defense, the Sixers will release a second defender whose only responsibility is to change Howard’s rhythm.”

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:  “The Sixers mostly have defended him superbly by taking away Turkoglu’s pet play, trapping the pick-and-roll with a double-team. Turkoglu was stationed at a side basket on Saturday, shooting baskets by himself. It seemingly was one of the few times he has been on a court without a couple of 76ers bird-dogging him. It’s as if Turk’s seeing double. ‘They’ve done a very good of trapping his pick-and-rolls, which is a big part of his game,’ Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said. ‘I think we can create some offense out of that, but we have to do a better job moving the ball. We need to try to get him some opportunities where he’s not seeing two guys. Quite honestly, I haven’t done a very good job getting him in those situations.’”

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:  “Magic F Rashard Lewis has been dealing with some personal issues the last month or so of the season. Lewis said his one-year-old daughter, Gianna, is doing well after battling an illness that had stumped doctors and specialists. She was in and out of the hospital after developing high fevers, muscular pain and rashes. Coach Stan Van Gundy said he thought the problems were affecting Lewis’ play. Lewis said after Saturday’s practice that his younger brother has been stricken with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. ‘My daughter’s doing well. We got some medicine. It was a virus, but she’s doing good,’ he said. ‘I was going through a lot going through my head at the time. I found out my brother had cancer and then my little girl gets sick. Obviously, family is more important than the game of basketball. But we got through it, and it’s time to get back focusing on the game.’”

Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe:  “Jennings is averaging 6.3 points, 1.9 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.5 rebounds, and is shooting 23.1 percent on 3-pointers through 41 games (16 Euroleague). While his statistics aren’t stellar, he is a teenager playing against grown men, and he is improving quickly against competition better than he would face in Division 1 college basketball and getting more time to work on his game. With that in mind, NBA personnel have been taking the long flight to scout the projected top 10 pick. ‘A lot of NBA teams are here now,’ said Jennings. ‘The Warriors were here for a couple of days. The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors were here. A lot of NBA scouts are starting to come over. Now I really have to finish strong and try to give them just a little taste of what I got. Of course I think I’m ready. The NBA is an open game. It’s more one-on-one. It’s more free play. Out here, it’s not so much free play. If I can get on a team that goes up and down, the sky is the limit.’”

Pete Thamel of The New York Times:  “Fran Fraschilla, an ESPN analyst who covers college games and analyzes foreign players in the N.B.A. draft, noted that if Tyler played in the second division in Spain, his competition would be former college stars like Wayne Simien (Kansas), Taylor Coppenrath (Vermont) and Danya Abrams (Boston College). ‘He’s going to have to be mentally and physically tough,’ Fraschilla said. But Fraschilla added that he was certain Tyler was not going to Europe for the money. He said he could easily earn $200,000 in the United States. ‘He could pretty much get that money illegally, either via a college or an agent, willing to funnel his family the money,’ Fraschilla said. ‘I’m hoping this is a savvy move to really improve his game.’”


10 Responses to “The Fundamentals”

  1. mookie Says:

    It will be interesting to see how Jennings’ performance against grown men is rated against those of guys playing against boys in HS and College.

    This will increasingly become a problem as the popularity of Jennings’ route to the pros increases.

  2. Tsunami Says:

    “— is that they lack a super-duper-star like D-Wade, LBJ, or better yet, Kobe Bryant.”

    Oh thank goodness. Kobe finally had a good game, I was getting bored there for a while, people were actually starting to think he might not be the second coming of MJ.

    Rosen hadn’t written any articles in a while either, seems he was waiting for Kobe too. We all know he’s just “pacing” himself anyway.

  3. john amaechi Says:

    after that performance, if KOBE!! doesn’t win MVP i will never watch the NBA again.

    KOBE!!was so hot he raised his playoff FG% to 43%!!

  4. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Tsunami:

    You’re right. Kobe’s 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting and 8 assists in Game 1 was an abomination. And the Lakers should have cut Bryant after he scored 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting and dished out 9 assists in Game 2. Charley’s just getting warmed up.

    ;)

  5. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    JA:

    Actually, Bryant is shooting 46.3 percent from the field. But who’s counting?

    :)

  6. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    mookie:

    I think pro scouts are smart enough to realize that Jennings is playing a limited role against superior competition. Very few collegiate players are drafted because of their numbers. Take Tyler Hansbrough, J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison for example. Those guys dominated the college game. Redick and Morrison have really struggled in the NBA thus far. I think Hansbrough will be lucky to carve out a career similar to Nick Collison in OKC. Most teams evaluate skill sets and draft players based on potential, which gets them into trouble at times, but it’s still the best way to evaluate predraft talent.

  7. Tsunami Says:

    What’s the TEAM shooting for the series?

  8. Tsunami Says:

    56%?

  9. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Tsunami:

    The Lakers are shooting 50.5 percent as a team. But that’s really irrelevant. You shrugged off Bryant’s shooting exhibition in Game 4 as his first good game of the playoffs, when in reality, he’s played very well in three of the Lakers’ 4 games thus far.

  10. john amaechi Says:

    when talking about KOBE!! accuracy statistically isn’t important. what is important is that nobody wants to win more than KOBE!!

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