June 13, 2004

Since someone has to, : Pistons gut out another one. LA looked to be in it, but unraveled near the end as Detroit pulled away, and LA couldn't tie the series. Discuss.

posted by hincandenza to basketball at 11:45 PM - 26 comments

The fix was in.

posted by dusted at 11:49 PM on June 13

BTW, while we shouldn't talk as if it's over- a Game 5 loss by the Pistons would send it back to LA, and anything could happen- I'd say at this point it's time to start serious debate over the playoff MVP. My vote: Big Ben. Sure, Rip Hamilton will probably get it with good point numbers and 7 rebounds a game, and a big game 3 performance, and that'd be fine. But I'd say that that defense- and offense- start with the big guy in the middle. BW doesn't have the gaudy point numbers that are usually associated with the MVP, but is an invaluable presence in every game, skying to tear down another rebound or box out. Kobe once again showed why he is, for all the sometimes pretty little moves and 3 pointers, nothing but a pale shadow of the truly great players, found it necessary to hoist up ugly fading jumpers from the corners all night long, while the largest person in the building was tearing it up. His ego makes him think he's the most dominant person on that team, but this game could have gone to the Lakers if he'd kept up what he did for a brief period in the 4th- drive in to draw attention and then feed it to the big guy. Contrary to dusted, while I think the officiating as a whole is a little touch and guy- sometimes they call everything tight, sometimes they call everything loose- I didn't see any officiating bias. The Lakers got beat by being out hustled and out defended, and let their frustration get to them.

posted by hincandenza at 11:58 PM on June 13

On the MVP debate... Ben Wallace is a good choice, being he has the uneviablr task of being pushed around all game on the defensive end...but he's put up decent numbers (for him) all series. Rip Hamilton will get consideration, but he's been too inconsistent to be called the Pistons best player. I honestly think it's a dead heat between Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince. Chuance has been the most consistent offensively, and has embarassed Gary Payton on both ends of the floor. Tayshaun, however, has made Kobe Bryant look human in all 4 games so far. That is itself gives him a handful of votes...

posted by MeatSaber at 12:20 AM on June 14

1. Shaq wears out. OK. Everyone saying Kobe should have gotten Shaq the ball, the reason it doesn't work is Shaq stops getting good position by the 4th quarter. He's too tired. BTW, I would say that's the reason the Laker's are D.U.N. done is the 'Shaq wearing out' phenomenon shows even more on one day of rest. They announcers even mentioned it during tonight's game. 2. I can't believe Lakers fans would complain about officiating. Have you noticed what they've started to let Shaq do? Because he's getting the ball a little further away from the basket, now he's just taking two steps to get a little closer before he starts his move. It's incredible. He doesn't even try to dribble. He just picks up both feet and takes two baby steps to the basket. The first time I saw him do it I didn't believe what I was seeing, so I rewound the TIVO, and sure enough Shaq just takes two steps towards the basket. And it's not the first time I've seen it in this series. 3. The Lakers are just getting beat to the ball. They can whine all they want about the officiating, it isn't going to help them. In fact I hope they do. It's exactly what I expected out of them and their fans. Can you imagine the Bird Celtics at the end of their title run, whining about the officiating, blaming that for losing? Some teams struggle to the bitter end, even when they have every reason to give up. Some teams blame the officiating and fold.

posted by Mike McD at 12:32 AM on June 14

If the Pistons win again, the MVP will go to the player who came up the biggest in that game. You could make a case for several different players at this point -- if Rashid has another game like this one in him, it could be his award. Great team. The fouls are being called against the Lakers because the Pistons are driving to the basket and outhustling them on rebounds and other plays. Shaq was incredible, though. It's wrong for a player that big to be so freaking fast.

posted by rcade at 12:34 AM on June 14

Tom Tolbert's suit was so bad I watched all of his segments on Tivo. He's like a giant Brady.

posted by rcade at 12:35 AM on June 14

Kobe once again showed why he is, for all the sometimes pretty little moves and 3 pointers, nothing but a pale shadow of the truly great players Completely agree. The title of this series should be 'Exposing Kobe'. Now that Shaq can be played with one man, we're seeing all of Kobe's weaknesses exposed. I loved the press conference. Kobe challenged the reporter who brought up his fg% to a game of H.O.R.S.E. What a man, what a stud, he can beat a reporter at H.O.R.S.E. Then Kobe made some comments about how his teamates couldn't make the shots he set them up with. I can't wait until he goes to another team and finds out what being 'the Man' is really like, when defenses gameplan around him, not Shaq.

posted by Mike McD at 12:46 AM on June 14

The whining and the meltdown by the Laker's at the end of the game was priceless. Instead of nutting it up and getting back into a close game and perhaps salvaging a shot in the series they implode and piss it away. Beautiful. After the infamous Sacramento Game 6, Lakers lost any rights to bitch about officiating ever anyhow. Though I will admit the T on Phil early on was probably a bit hasty. On Phil, if he is such a great coach, why doesn't Gary Payton have an ass full of splinters? He shoulda been benched somewhere in the Spurs series. Will be interesting to see the finger-pointing, fallout and excuse making for all of this in the off season.

posted by pivo at 01:46 AM on June 14

Will be interesting to see the finger-pointing, fallout and excuse making for all of this in the off season. Oh yeah, me too....I mean, that's the only real suspense left, isn't it?

posted by smithers at 02:07 AM on June 14

I think Tayshaun deserves consideration as MVP, but his offense is probably too inconsistent - Billups is a fine choice. Any of the starting five is a fine choice! But I am very much enjoying Tayshaun's vindication (versus the Carmelo Anthony pick)!

posted by BobbyC at 08:08 AM on June 14

Last night was the first game I watched in the series, and was struck by Kobe's ineffectiveness. Especially when they called the technical on him, and he wouldn't shut his mouth. Learn your lesson, dude. But a big part of Kobe's ineffectiveness was Detroit's defense. They were in his face like herpes all game long. Anytime he got the ball, they were on him. It was a really exciting game, a lot of fun to watch Shaq play and carry the Lakers while Detroit just played team ball. Lots of assists, lots of passing. And toward the end, when Detroit started to run away with it, it felt great. And I'm sure we're all thinking the same thing about Game 2: if Detroit hadn't fallen asleep at the end, this series would be over.

posted by rocketman at 11:12 AM on June 14

*blinks* In his face...like herpes?

posted by Succa at 01:28 PM on June 14

I am so using that simile. Just not at work.

posted by chicobangs at 02:07 PM on June 14

Does anyone have the ability to make a screen cap of Tolbert's suit(s)? I tried explaining them to the NBA haters today at work, and I just can't do them justice... The one last night slapped the one from Tuesday's game silly. I didn't see what he was wearing on Thursday, but I now have a reason to watch at halftime. I love that 'Sheed left Portland and is set to get a title. LOVE.

posted by togdon at 05:42 PM on June 14

Kobe guarantees a win. I don't know how seriously it will be taken after his game 4 performance. The Lakers need to play some defense and give Shaq the damn ball if they are to have any chance of bring the series back to LA. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that PG and PF would be the weak spots!?

posted by dusted at 06:25 PM on June 14

The officials are trying to make up for every foul discrepancy of the last four years in one game. I was glad to see Dusted admit that the Lakers needed help from the refs to win their rings. The Lakers need to ... give Shaq the damn ball This is the most hilarious refrain from the Lakers fans. I liked how the announcers recounted Shaq's explanation for why he plays better on two days of rest. Shaq said "If you keep chopping at a tree eventually it's going to fall over. But if you give a tree time to nourish it's roots it grows strong." I wonder if Shaq appreciates the irony considering he moves like a freaking tree these days. The problem with the Lakers is Shaq. Shaq can't play hard for four quarters. He can't move well enough to consistently establish post position. He can only play in spurts. Open your eyes Dusted. I know it's hard to accept but Shaq is on the decline and he's never getting better. 32 year old 400lb lb guys don't have a long shelf life.

posted by Mike McD at 07:25 PM on June 14

Mike McD: I don't think dusted (lest I put words in his mouth) or anyone else disagrees that Shaq is in decline. But SHIT, it's hard to argue with 36 and 20. He also does a pretty nice job intimidating in the paint. Is he the reason the Lakers are losing this series? Sorry Mike, not even close.

posted by smithers at 08:54 PM on June 14

I agree with smithers. If Shaq hasn't had his monster game, then they would have got totally blown out of the water. If Kobe just played the damn game and didn't bitch, Lakers would have won that game.

posted by jmd82 at 09:11 PM on June 14

Shaq looks like the only advantage the Lakers have, so why not exploit it? 36 (with a 75% field goal percentage) and 20 sounds like an effective strategy. Eyes wide open here, although I'll admit I wasn't in a good state of mind after the game. A glass of wine and a great dinner that my girlfriend cooked for us, and I was my usual happy self again.

posted by dusted at 10:21 PM on June 14

No, it's easy to argue with 36 and 20. Ten years from now, when passions aren't so high, it will be obvious to see. This series will mark the decline of Shaq. Just like what people remember about the 91' series, that it marked the decline of Magic, what people will remember from the series is that Shaq went from being a guy who could win rings to being just a guy. What I really object to is people are blaming this on the role players. It's not. It's all Shaq. Look at the Nets series two years ago. Shaq averaged 36 points a game with the Nets throwing double and triple teams at him. And what really bothers me (and should bother Lakers fans) is that he just doesn't want it enough. What you see is a guy who takes the easy way out through the season and then trys to turn it on in the playoffs. Well, you're getting what you should expect, which is inconsistency. Take a closer look at Shaq's game Sunday. He had 36 pts and 20 reb. He also had one block and one assist. And he was single covered all game. Kobe is the same guy he's always been. The guy who's changed is Shaq. Everyone saying, give the ball to Shaq, that's not what they really mean. What they really mean is get Shaq the ball three feet from the basket. But that requires some work on Shaq's part. You know, moving without the ball, establishing good position, sealing his man. Unfortunately, Shaq just can't do that on a regular basis. He can still play in spurts and have a great game but he can't carry a championship team anymore. As a final comment, just think about those 91' Lakers? Do you remember the role players? Do you say, if the Lakers just had a better bench they would have won? No, you remember the Magic just couldn't get it done anymore, and rightly so. Just apply that to today and what I'm saying should be clear.

posted by Mike McD at 06:51 AM on June 15

mmmmm.....Todd McCulloch, Kenyon Martin, Aaron Williams, and Jason Collins. Or Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Eldon Campbell, Mehmet Okur? NJ needed to throw doubles and triples at Shaq cause they were so small and weak in the post. Detroit doesn't have that problem. You can't boil this whole series down to Shaq being lazy. If you're going to simplistically boil the whole down to one factor, then in my opinion it is Larry Brown exposing Phil Jackson to be the fraud that he is.

posted by smithers at 07:29 AM on June 15

For some perspective here are Shaq's Pt-Reb-Ast totals from the Pacers and Sixers series. Pacers: 43-19-4, 40-24-4, 33-13-1, 36-21-1, 35-11-3, 41-12-1 Sixers: 44-20-5, 28-20-9, 30-12-3, 34-14-5, 29-13-2 You tell me what's different? BTW, I'm not saying Shaq is being lazy this series. He's trying his @ss off now. I'm saying his approach to the game is lazy and he's paying the price now.

posted by Mike McD at 07:43 AM on June 15

Appears Sam Smith agrees with me: He was that Shaq again on Sunday, having one of those Wilt-like nights when big people bounced away like toys. He had an extra day's rest and the desperation of a great player. It will be interesting to see whether O'Neal can sustain it after playing 47 tough minutes in Game 4. If he can, the Lakers can still be playing after Tuesday. But it comes and goes now. O'Neal averaged 30 points per game or close every playoffs in his career but his first. He's been barely above 20 per game in these playoffs. Nine times he's failed to score 20 points. He used to average over 30 in the Finals every year. He's still great, but not as he once was.

posted by Mike McD at 08:10 AM on June 15

He's still great, but not as he once was. As I pointed out in my earlier comment, I do not dispute this. He used to average over 30 in the Finals every year. So now he's down to Finals averages of 28.3, 11.5, and 65%FG against the best defence in basketball? Please... For some perspective here are Shaq's Pt-Reb-Ast totals from the Pacers and Sixers series .... You tell me what's different? Easy. To Exhibit A above concerning New Jersey's woeful inadequacy in the paint, I now bring forward Exhibit B, culled from your link, entitled "Indy Even More Woeful and Inadequate in the Paint": Dale Davis, Rik Smits, Austin Croshere, and Sam Perkins. These guys ain't gonna do shit against Shaq besides saying "you're welcome".

posted by smithers at 10:10 AM on June 15

I know it's a waste of time since you don't intend to be bound by reason or objective facts, but back in 2000 Smits, Davis, and Perkins were considered pretty good defenders. Perkins, BTW, was considered a good defensive player throughout his career. And I suppose you're also saying that Mutumbo (multiple defensive PoY), Geiger, and Hill were all bad defensive players too? You know Ben Wallace is only 6'8". Not exactly the ideal defender. The Lakers are darn lucky that they didn't get swept. SWEPT. Forget the hype for a second and look at what's really happening. The Pistons are annihilating the Lakers. That just wouldn't of happened to the Shaq of three years ago. It's Shaq, Shaq, Shaq. If the Bulls had lost to the Jazz, would we say 'well Pippen really had a bad series'? No, we'd remember Jordan slipping, no longer being able to carry a team. If you look, it's all there. Take the regular season, Shaq had worse numbers this year than he did his ROOKIE year? Ten years in the league and he's getting worse. That is telling. So you say it's Davis, Smits, and Perkins but that just exposes how short your memory is. 28.5 pts/game is a far cry from 38 pts/game. p.s. more from Sam Yeah, Bryant doesn't always throw the ball to ONeal when it looks like he has the advantage, but O'Neal doesn't always come to get it, work for his position and power up like he did in Game 4.

posted by Mike McD at 11:52 AM on June 15

I wrote a really clever and lengthy reply earlier, but SpoFi ate it..........meh. I'm not typing it again....I'd rather agree to disagree.

posted by smithers at 11:10 PM on June 15

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