May 22, 2012

Lakers Eliminated by Thunder

The Los Angeles Lakers are now out of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.

Like what happened last season, the Lakers have been eliminated from contention in the Western Conference semi-finals. But in stark  contrast the Dallas Mavericks' verteran savvy in 2011, it was the youth and energy of the Oklahoma City Thunder that the Lakers in.

Kobe Bryant did his best "back-against-the-wall" scoring performances with 42 points in Game 5, but it was clearly wasn't enough. Pau Gasol was more aggressive and scrapped inside the paint to get boards, but that also wasn't enough.

Not enough for sure-- definitely not against this version of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers needed to execute for 48 minutes to have a chance in this series, not 45 or 46. There were breaks that would have swung the series completely in the Lakers favor, but faulty late-game execution led to its early exit in the playoffs.

I'm sure there will be plenty of soul-searching happening in the off-season for the Lakers and fans all over are looking for something to optimistic about, but right now for, it's easy to look at what just happened: another fruitless Lakers season.


May 21, 2012

Odds Not in Lakers' Favor

Down 1-3, the odds are not looking good for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The last time the Lakers were down 1-3, they succumbed to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals. If you ask me, this version of the Lakers team has yet to show a fight when down that deep. In this Western Semi-Final against the much improved Oklahoma City Thunder, I foresee a similar ending in the 2008 Finals.

Even in the NBA, only a few teams have recovered from a 1-3 series deficit, with the Lakers being a victim of the Phoenix Suns in 2006, when the Suns climbed out of a 1-3 hole behind Steve Nash.

If you ask the oddsmakers, the Lakers are not in good shape. The current line for the Lakers is 9/1, or 10%. That's pretty low, considering there are eight teams in the second round of the NBA playoffs. If you think about it, if all teams had equal chance to win the crown, the odds of one team winning is 12.5%

In any case, the quest for the franchise's 17th championship and Kobe Bryant's sixth ring is likely to end in the next few days.


May 18, 2012

Lakers Squander Game 2 vs. Thunder

Seven points. Two minutes.

Usually, when those two are said in the same sentence, it usually means the winning team preserved the lead and kept the loser at bay.

However, Game 2 of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference Semi-Finals, it was not the usual ending. The bad thing is that the Lakers were the ones that squandered the lead in the final two minutes and ended up in a 0-2 hole against the up-and-coming Thunder.

It's easy why people are already writing the Lakers off-- they have failed to execute in Games 1 and 2, with the latter game the more crucial as the team has struggled to win on the road all season.

Can the Lakers still even the series after the stops at Los Angeles?


May 15, 2012

Lakers Get Blasted by Thunder in Game 1

Somewhere in Oklahoma City, Derek Fisher is smiling.

In Game 1 of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder,  the Lakers lost in humbling fashion to a team that's well-rested and very eager to exact revenge-- Fisher included.

Derek Fisher was sent packing to Houston during the trade deadline and was moved to OKC soon after. Fisher played quality minutes behind Russell Westbrook, who played almost flawlessly in the initial game. With the Lakers failing to stop the perimeter play of the Thunder, and their seemingly fatigued performance, the outcome was pretty much expected as early as the first half ended.

Can the Lakers even the series in Game 2?

I think so, but this has to do with more perfect execution on the defensive side, such as:
  • Preventing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook open looks 15 feet from the rim
  • Disrupting the Thunder's offensive flow (forcing 4 turnovers won't cut it)
  • Better face up defense without giving too many free throws (The Lakers gave up 24 free throw attempts)
I can make this list longer but the bottomline is defending better in Game 2.

Otherwise, Fisher may end up getting Championship Ring #6 ahead of former teammate Kobe Bryant.


May 11, 2012

Lakers On the Verge of An Epic Playoff Meltdown

WTF, Lakers?

Just last week ago, the Hoops world was already anticipating a massive matchup between you and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now, you're just one loss away from repeating the 2006 playoff debacle where you squandered a 3-1 series lead.

What the heck happened to your defense? In Games 5 and 6, you let the Denver Nuggets score an average of 107.5 points on 49% shooting. (And people say playoff basketball is more grind it out).

Ugh, this is really a frustrating time to be a Los Angeles Lakers fan.