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Friday, May 11, 2012

Kevin Ding Once Again Hits the Ball out of the Park

Kevin Ding is one of the few NBA beat writers who not only can write a basic game recap but also uses his close access to the NBA to provide genuine insight about the sport. Ding's latest column explains the major difference between an all-time great like Kobe Bryant and Bryant's talented but not elite big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol:

It's precisely what the Lakers' brass feared after the humiliating end to last season: Gasol and Bynum--along with Lamar Odom--having made their safe deposits of multiple championship-ring boxes ... and just not wanting it enough anymore.

It's why the Lakers were so right and so ready to trade Gasol and Odom for ringless Chris Paul before the season and plotted the follow-up trade-deadline swap of Bynum for ringless Dwight Howard.

As wrong as it seems to condemn people for having proved themselves already, it's human nature to let up after difficult accomplishments. In this regard far more than even the mental toughness of playing hurt, Bryant is superhuman. Frustrated by a second consecutive game of missing killer instinct from his teammates, Bryant lifted his flame up to the light Thursday night for a rare moment of full disclosure about his drive.

"Psychologically, you have to put yourself in a predicament, in a position, where you have no other option but to perform," Bryant said. "You have to emotionally put yourself with your back against the wall and kind of trick yourself to feel that there's no other option but to perform and to battle. When you have that, when you put yourself in that mind state, then your performance shines through."

Ding also makes the same observation that Jeff Van Gundy repeatedly stated last season and that I have mentioned as well: the Lakers' bigs "have jogged slower instead of racing faster to get back on defense," something that Ding attributes to the flagging motivation levels alluded to in the preceding paragraphs. Ding concludes with words that must alarm any Lakers' fan:

A better effort back home should be enough to win Saturday night, but how many mind games and magic rabbits can Bryant pull if Gasol and Bynum already have hats in hand and Oklahoma City truly wants it more?

Here in the first round, Bryant is already down to his final trick.

He has to take one must-win game ... and make all the complacency of Gasol and Bynum suddenly disappear.

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:21 PM

4 comments

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4 Comments:

At Friday, May 11, 2012 11:04:00 PM, Anonymous Charliegone said...

Kevin Ding got it right on the dot. Both Bynum and Gasol played with no sense of urgency at all. In fact they could have been replaced by the reserves and it probably wouldn't have made a difference all game; that's how bad they were. To top it off, you saw a few smiles in there in the 4th quarter while a sick Kobe Bryant was out there trying to bring them back. Kobe looked like he even asked Mike Brown to leave him in the game during the start of the 4th to see what they can do about the large lead the Nuggets had accumulated. After the game, Kobe Bryant clearly called out the whole team saying that he's glad that Ron Artest was coming back because he knew he could count on him to play hard every night, which speaks volumes on how much Kobe thought of the teams (particularly Bynum and Gasol) effort in the game. As a Laker fan, I was angry and disappointed. I wouldn't have mind the loss if they had played hard and simply got outplayed, but to show no effort at all? It really bothers me and I'm sure it bothered the Lakers front office and in particular Kobe Bryant, who defend both of them on numerous occasions. Let's see how they react in game 7. To be honest, I'm not sure what to expect anymore from this team.

 
At Friday, May 11, 2012 11:42:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Charliegone:

The odds and the history suggest that the Lakers will win at home because their role players will be more comfortable in L.A. while Denver's role players will not duplicate their great game six performances--but by letting this series extend to the max the Lakers have exposed themselves to a winner take all game that could be decided by foul trouble, an injury or some other unpredictable factor. Some teams have been forced to play a game seven early in the playoffs and then rallied to win a title (including the 2008 Celtics) but the Lakers do not look like that kind of team at all; they look like a team that will escape this game seven only to get their doors blown off by OKC.

 
At Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:43:00 AM, Anonymous DanielSong39 said...

While I believe the Lakers will win Game 7 then lose to Oklahoma City, I don't see the series as a "gimme" for Oklahoma City at all.

Certainly, their youth, energy, and athleticism could make the series a rout, but they'll have to overcome the mental weaknesses that cost them dearly vs. Dallas last season. There were flashes of the same mistakes in their last meeting vs. the Lakers and they must be overcome if they are to advance.

I think there will be more growing pains for Oklahoma City this season as they will finish short of the NBA Finals.

 
At Sunday, May 13, 2012 9:03:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Daniel Song 39:

The Thunder are more talented, deeper and more consistent than the Lakers. This series could get very ugly very quickly for the Lakers. I just hope that Bynum et. al don't start delivering cheap shots like they did at the end of the Dallas series last year.

 

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