Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lakers Prepare for the Ultimate Battle

"NO MERCY"...Kobe exhorting his team mates in the 3rd Quarter!

Photos courtesy of the LA Times

DENVER(AP) Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are heading back to the NBA finals after dispatching the pesky Denver Nuggets with a 119-92 victory in Game 6 on Friday night.

Bryant got plenty of scoring help from Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom as the Lakers shot 57.3 percent from the field to avoid having to play a Game 7 in the Western Conference finals back at the Staples Center.

They will finally get some much-needed rest after playing every other day for a grueling two weeks.

These Lakers, who are headed to their record 30th NBA finals and are seeking their 15th title, are a more grizzled group - but also more bruised and battered - than the one that fell to Boston in the finals last year.

"Now we're in a place where we didn't get the job accomplished last year,'' Bryant said. "Hopefully we will this time.''

Instead of cruising through the West this time, the Lakers survived an arduous seven-game semifinal series against Houston and a physical test against Denver.

The Lakers will face either Orlando or Cleveland in the finals. The Magic lead 3-2 and can clinch the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night at home in Game 6 and prevent the Kobe Bryant-LeBron James final that has basketball fans and corporate sponsors atwitter.

The finals begin Thursday, at Los Angeles if Orlando wins, and at Cleveland if the Cavaliers prevail. (Read entire article)
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Mitch Kupchak, whom I tend to be relatively hard on, was classy as ever, especially receiving the Western Conference Championship trophy from old school, Showtime Era, James "Tomahawk" Worthy, 3 time World Champion and one time finals MVP.

This team has been beleaguered and maligned from all angles, even from Lakerdom, but tonight, just like in Game 5, they manifested the will, the valor and the temperament of a professional championship sports team!!!

*On a personal note, this post is dedicated to my fellow Lakers fanatic and infidel brother in arms, Jaco Pastorius, over at the Infidel Bloggers Alliance.

Pastorius with your depth and knowledge you should be working for the Buss Family/Lakers in some high end capacity!!!


Pastorius said...

Oh, I don't think so. I'd love to think I had excellent basketball knowledge, but when I watch individual plays, I know I am lost. Most of the time, I can't figure out what happened until they show the replay, and then I see the defensive breakdown.

Big Game James is great at breaking down plays. That's one thing you're not getting back there in Miami. During the half, and after the game, James Worthy goes through a series of significant plays and shows where the breakdowns occurred, and precisely how the plays developed for better or worse.

However, I do like to believe I can spot talent.

The one person I have always been a champion of (and this has been hard over the years) is Lamar Odom. I think Lamar is one of the best players in basketball. The past two games we have gotten to see why I think so. And, he had some great games in the Rockets series as well.

Pau is great, and he is legitimately the Lakers number two go-to guy now. But, Lamar is the only guy on the Lakers, other than Kobe, who can take over a game.

Thing is, Odom simply has no ego. So, he seems to only really play great when it is absolutely needed. And, his rep suffers terribly because of that.

I was, indeed, very excited. I watched replays and analysis for an hour after the game. It was just awesome. But, of course, in Lakerville, all that matters is the Ring.

Pastorius said...

By the way, why are you hard on Kupchak?

A couple years ago, I was so angry with Kupchak that I wanted him fired, and wanted West brought back.

But, it seems to me Kupchak has proven he is a genius Basketball GM. It was his moves that kept Bynum, kept Odom, brought Gasol, Brown, and Ariza.

And, what did we sacrifice for all that? Very little.

Who else would have seen Brown or Ariza coming? Who would NOT have traded Bynum when Kobe was all but demanding it?

Carlos Echevarria said...

To quote the northern light of freedom and restoration, in reference to rings being the most important:

"You Betcha"

NO REPEATS OF '04 or '07.

Believe me losing to Boston, Philly and the Bulls in '91 is all too ingrained in my mind...

Big Game James was one of my favorites during the '80's, especially those nasty, facial tomahawk dunks over people!!!!

Yes, living in Miami we don't get that only the Heat, which I never follow unless they are playing LA.

The unheralded Lamar who was so humble last evening and reiterated that this is not the end but rather the beggining of the end to paraphrase Churchill. (whom as you know compared the Koran to Mein Kampf)

Pau was spectucular, like he was in Feb '08 till the playoffs last season...

BTW, he is from Barcelona, Catalan, but his English is excellent isn't it???? Better than alot of American players, LOL

We have returned to the Promise Land, now let us take our 15th crown...

Co-coach Kobe was very emphatic about this...

Take care buddy and Go Magic! (yes, I know we lost to them, as opposed to Cleveland during the year but I like our matchups better)

Carlos Echevarria said...

I remember Mitch as a player.

Basically the same reasons you cited but last year and this one he has turned the corner for me.

Yes, I was partial to Mr. Clutch like you, so it stemmed from that.

He came in the Shaq deal from the Heat, which now makes alot of sense, although seein Shaq and Wade win in '06 gave me pause!

Hopefully, we can keep him after this season...

Pastorius said...

Yeah, and I thought the Shaq deal with the Heat was friggin' ridiculous. That was what started me off hating Mitch Kupchak.

The thing he did which pissed me off was that he openly admitted that he HAD to trade Shaq.

He didn't HAVE to trade Shaq. He could have kept Shaq around and cowed him and embarrassed him.

But, instead, admitting openly that it was fully his intention to trade Shaq created a situation where he could not get a fair trade.

Now, getting Odom in return was a decent trade, but the rest of it was ridiculous. Odom for Shaq is not anywhere near to a straightup trade.

By the way, by that time, I didn't like Shaq, and I wanted him gone. So, I was on board with the trade. I think very highly of Shaquille O'Neal, placing him in the basketball pantheon up there with Wilt, Magic, Michael, Kobe, Dr. J, and Elgin Baylor, BUT, it was time for him to go, because he wouldn't face facts, and realize that Kobe was the emergent dominant force, and he would have had to settle for playing number two.

Ironically, of course, he accepted the number two role with the less talented Dwayne Wade.

Now, isn't that friggin' petty?

And then, of course, there's the whole "Hey Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes", which while funny, is more of a glimpse into Shaq's mind than any of us really cared to have.

In the end, Shaq will be remembered for how great he is, and how funloving he is, but he will also be remembered as among the pettiest divas in sports history.

Pastorius said...

By the way, that's true about Pau. He does speak English better than most native speakers. I heard him on a hip radio program out here in LA. The station is not even that well-known. They just play cool music. Pau was the guest DJ for a few hours. He is very articulate, and obviously cares about good music.

He is a pretty well-rounded individual, apparently.

Culturist John said...


We have had some very sweet trades. Pau was the most important of trades. Ariza and Brown were minor steals, but steals nonetheless. I am still not sold on Andy B. But, wish him well as a Laker. So, overall, I see Mitch as pretty solid.

Pastorius, I agree with you concerning Lamar Odom's talent. But, of course, he displays it sporadically. It is never clear whether he'll show up or disappear quarter by quarter, let alone game by game or series to series.

If we can get a good game or two out of Sasha, Luke, Farmar, or Fish, that would really help. But Lamar Odom is the Key.

Kobe and Pau will be solid. I have no doubts.

All we can do is wait and cheer and say . . .