Posts Tagged ‘Lamar Odom’

GAME REVIEW: Raptors at Lakers [Nov 30]

December 1, 2008

When you read other reports today that detail the Raptors’ loss to the Lakers, pay close attention to which ones focus on the ineffective play of Chris Bosh and the absence of Jermaine O’Neal …

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 99, LAKERS 112
Game Info

as the principal reasons for the eventual L, and which ones do not.

Yes, Chris Bosh, the Raptors’ best player, had a sub-standard performance [i.e. 36:54/MP; 4-13/FGM-A; 3-4/FTM-A; 12 Pts; 6 Rebs; 3 Ast; 1 St; 4 To]; and, yes, Jermaine O’Neal was missing from their line-up.

However, these are NOT the main reasons the Raptors lost yesterday’s game.

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Beginning at the 10:00 mark of the 4th Q, in what was then a 6-Pt contest, this is the specific sequence of Possession Outcomes which determined the eventual outcome.

PositionLAKERS—-vs—-Raptors
PG/1——Farmar———-Ukic
OG/2——Vujacic———-Kapono
SF/3——Ariza————Moon
PF/4——Odom———–Graham
C/5——-Bynum———–Bosh

LAL 90, Tor 84

#1. LAK Poss 1 – Vujacic beats Kapono off the bounce; Makes twisting Layup slicing between Moon & Graham … LAL 92, Tor 84
#2. RAP Poss 1 – Graham Misses a Pull-up Jumpshot
#3. LAK Poss 2 – Odom fouled while posting-up vs Graham
#4. LAK Poss 3 – TO [Ariza]; Steal by Bosh
#5. RAP Poss 2 – TO [Ukic]
#6. LAK Poss 4 – Farmar Misses Jumpshot [vs Ukic]; Team Rebound to LAL
#7. LAK Poss 5 – Ariza Makes Turn-around Jumpshot/hook vs Moon … LAL 94, Tor 84 
#8. RAP Poss 3 – Ukic Misses Jumpshot
#9. LAK Poss 6 – Bynum Makes Dunk on lob pass; Bosh helping vs Odom [fronted by Graham] … LAL 96, Tor 84 
#10. RAP Poss 4 – Graham Makes Layup vs Farmar … LAL 96, Tor 86
#11. LAK Poss 7 – Ariza Makes Jumpshot vs poor switch by Moon [with Graham] on the ‘Post-Split’ action … LAL 98, Tor 86
#12. RAP Poss 5 – Graham Missed Turn-arond Jumpshot/Layup vs Odom
#13. LAK Poss 8 – Bynum Makes Dunk + fouled on rejected Pick & Roll with Farmar; Graham late arriving with weak side help [coming off Odom] … LAL 101, Tor 86

07:26 mark of the 4th Q … Calderon replaces Ukic; Bargnani replaces Graham

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What should you have noticed from these 13 possessions?

In General:

* The Lakers were able to generate 2 extra possesions. One, when Odom was fouled, in the Low Post by Graham; and, two, from their Team Rebound.

* The Lakers were too quick, athletic and physical for the Raptors to handle [which ultimately resulted in a decisive Rebounding edge over the course of the entire game, i.e. Total Rebounds: LAL 54, Tor 36].

Specifically:

#1. Jason Kapono is an inferior NBA athlete, in comparison with Sasha Vujacic.
#2. Graham’s strength is not his Pull-up Jumpshot. As a perimter player, Graham is effective when he can ‘Catch & Shoot’.
#3. Odom vs Graham, in the post, is a mis-match [despite the fact that Odom picked up an offensive foul earlier in the quarter, in this situation]. Graham should not be defending Odom.
#4. Bosh is a capable Post defender … when he uses his quickness.
#5. Ukic is an inexperienced PG who sometimes makes poor decisions with the ball.
#6. Ukic is a solid NBA athlete at the #1-spot. The Lakers size & athleticism is difficult for the Raptors to handle … especially with Kapono [too slow vs Vujacic] and Moon [too weak vs Ariza] and Graham [under-sized vs Odom] on the floor together … the Raptors have difficulty gaining possession of loose balls.
#7. Ariza is too strong for Moon to handle on the block. Moon needs to check Vujacic. Graham needs to Ariza. Humphries needs to check Odom.
#8. Kapono cannot dribble the ball vs Vujacic. Ukic is a poor perimter shooter.
#9. Graham should NOT be checking Odom.
#10. Graham is a solid Low Post option for the Raptors.
#11. Moon is not a strong enough player to check Ariza.
#12. Graham is a solid Low Post Option for the Raptors. Odom, however, is too big for him.
#13. Bynum is among the VERY BEST ‘Aerial Finishers’ in the NBA. Graham should not be cheking Odom. 🙂 Graham should be checking Ariza, with  Moon checking Vujacic, and Humphries in the game, checking Odom.

At this point in the regular season … with these two player rosters assembled by their respective GMs:

* The Lakers are 14-1 and poised to amass 70+ wins; as forecast by this corner last season, prior to their predicted loss in the 2008 NBA Finals;

while,

* The Raptors are 8-8, on pace to put up approximately 40 wins; and, in all likelihood, finish in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference.

Despite a less-than-stellar performance yesterday by the Dinos, the signs are there, however, that this group of players [at these positions] …

Starters
1/Calderon + 2/Moon [3] + 3/Graham + 4/Humphries + 5/Bosh

Key Bench Subs
1-2/Parker + 4/Bargnani [3]

Situational Subs
1/Ukic, 2/Kapono [3], 5/O’Neal [or a different veteran Big]

either [i] without JO altogether, or [ii] with him in a decreased role …

has the capacity to become a solid contender for a playoff spot in the EC, down-the-road, if those responsible for running the basketball operation at MLSE, in fact, [A] know what they’re doing, and can [B] begin to make the best use possible of the resources at-hand [i.e. current players & draft picks, plus coaches].  

In the NBA … every organization has access to a similar set of ingredients. What separates the performance of one from another is the manner in which their Head Chefs choose to combine those ingredients in their recipe.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Anonymous

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Worthwhile analysis of two NBA games

November 21, 2008

When Kelly Dwyer [BDL] gets the fat part of the bat on the ball … which is generally acknowledged to be the single most difficult action to do proficiently in all of team sports … there’s a good chance that said sphere is going yard.

Without an excessive reliance on hard & fast empirical statistics, i.e. either ‘new-age’ or ‘old school’, when he simply conveys what he sees happening on the floor, in a general sense, from each of the participants, and his arrows’ strikes are true … as they are in these two specific instances, concerning last night’s Celtics/Pistons & Suns/Lakers match-ups, respectively:

——————————–

Behind the box score, where the C’s don’t let up and Detroit does
Exhibit A
Coaching matters. Stern decisions have to be made, and a lot of that “buck stops here” nonsense actually helps. It helps drive away excuses, and it helps to make you cringe should you have to spit out “we’ll get ‘em next time” after the game. If it hurts to say that, you’re on the right track. If you’re shrugging your shoulders, then something is missing. And I don’t care that the season is 82 games.

So when you see the Piston reserves acting like pampered former All-Stars, or Detroit failing to close out on shooters, or stepping into open lanes in order to make sure that the open lanes cease to be open lanes, you have to wonder when the buck is ever going to be able to stop.

This isn’t to say that Detroit played the same poor way the entire night, far from it. They just did it long enough to lose handily again. That’s the difference between a pretty good team that occasionally plays great and … the Celtics. The Celtics are just about always there.

Exhibit B
Winter is the architect of the Lakers’ offense, and likely the strongest principle of his famed Triangle offense is the way players are supposed to penetrate the defense. With a pass (preferably, because that means there is an open player somewhere in the teeth of that defense), a drive, a shot, or a rebound.

The last two may not seem like the best moves overall, because shots over the top of the D and ugly offensive rebounds don’t seem to go hand-in-hand with the spacious and aesthetically-pleasing Triangle offense.

But these things are important, especially when the player creating the penetration is among those (like, say, the Laker youngsters that come off the bench) who might not be the most structurally-sound Triangle denizens. There’s a reason Derek Fisher starts, you know.

So there LO is, shooting the ball, or getting into the lane for a lefty runner or hook that might not fall. Not only is his per-game numbers way down from last year, but his per-minute numbers have taken a dive as well. Even with all those chances to pad his stats among the bench corps. And yet, he’s helping. So, so much. Don’t let them convince you that he isn’t.

——————————–

it’s a pleasure and a treat to read the man’s prose about the game, and how it works at this level of competition.

First-rate stuff, right there, by the one, the only KD.

Game Review: Raptors at Lakers, Oct 19

October 20, 2008

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 89, Lakers 112
Game Information

The fundamental inequities which exist between the rosters of these two teams were on full display in last night’s exhibition game.

———————————————-

At the 02:41 mark of the 3rd Quarter, the Lakers made 3 substitutions:

* Replacing V-Radmanovic with Lamar Odom,
* Replacing D-Fisher with Trevor Ariza, and
* Replacing A-Bynum with Jordan Farmar;

while, the Raptors made 1 substitution:

* Replacing A-Parker with Jason Kapono.

9 seconds later, at the 02:32 mark, the Raptors made a 2nd substitution:

* Replacing J-Calderon with Roko Ukic;

and leaving each team with the following line-ups on the court:

RAPTORS – Ukic [PG], Adams [OG/SF], Kapono [SF/OG], Bargnani [C/PF] & O’Neal [PF/C]

LAKERS – Farmar [PG], Bryant [OG/SF], Ariza [SF/OG], Odom [PF] & Gasol [C]

After Jason Kapono made 2 Free Throws to put the Raptors ahead, 72-70, the Lakers closed the quarter with a 10-4 run which put them up, 80-76. 

During the run, the Raptors made 1 substitution, at the 00:30 mark:

* Replacing J-O’Neal with Chris Bosh.

To open the 4th Quarter, the Raptors made no new substitutions, while the Lakers made 2 substitutions:

* Replacing K-Bryant with Luke Walton, and
* Replacing P-Gasol with Chris Mihm;

leaving them with the following line-up:

LAKERS – Farmar [PG], Ariza [OG/SF], Walton [SF/OG], Odom [PF] & Mihm [C].

Without bringing Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, or Andrew Bynum back into the game, the Lakers then outscored the Raptors in the 4th Quarter, 32-13, to seal their victory.

The following table indicates the substitutions made by each team during these respective phases of the game:

RAPTORS

Time

Score

LAKERS

 

3rd Q

 

 

Calderon, Adams, Parker, Bargnani, O’Neal

02:42

70-70

Fisher, Bryant, Radmanovic, Gasol, Bynum

Calderon, Adams, Kapono, O’Neal, Bargnani

02:41

70-70

Farmar, Bryant, Ariza, Odom, Gasol

Ukic, Adams, Kapono, O’Neal, Bargnani

02:32

72-70

 

Ukic, Adams, Kapono, Bosh, Bargnani

00:30

76-77

 

 

4th Q

 

 

 

12:00

76-80

Farmar, Ariza, Walton, Odom, Mihm

 

06:23

83-96

Farmar, Ariza, Walton, Powell, Mihm

Ukic, Adams, Moon, Humphries, Bargnani

05:42

84-98

 

 

03:28

86-104

Farmar, Ariza, Yue, Powell, Mbenga

 

00:00

89-112

 

while the final table reflects the playing time alotted to each player for both teams who saw action during these two sequences of the 3rd and 4th Quarters: 

 

RAPTORS

Minutes

LAKERS

Minutes

Calderon

00.09

Fisher

00:01

Adams

14:41

Bryant

02:41

Parker

00:01

Radmanovic

00:01

Bosh

06:48

Bynum

00:01

O’Neal

02:11

Gasol

02:41

Ukic

14:32

Farmar

14:41

Kapono

08:59

Ariza

14:41

Moon

05:42

Odom

08:18

Bargnani

14:41

Walton

08:32

 

 

Mihm

08:32

 

 

Powell

06:23

 

 

Yue

03:28

 

 

Mbenga

03:28

———————————————-

When assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the Raptors and the Lakers, it is comical to think that some other NBA observers are actually considering the current version of the Raptors:

1. To be a ‘legitimate’ contending team in the NBA this season; or,

2. To be a ‘legitimate’ contending team in the Eastern Conference this season.

As is … the cold, hard, reality is: 

I) When Jose Calderon is not in the game, the Raptors do not have a capable back-up Point Guard who they can use to run their team against a high calibre opponent.

[Note 1: In part, this is because they have shown little to no interest, thus far, in using Anthony Parker … a capable ball-handler and decision-maker … in this capacity.]

II) When some combination of Chris Bosh, Jermaine O’Neal and Kris Humphries are not on the court together, the Raptors are incapable of rebounding the ball in a way which is consistent with being a legitimate contending team in the NBA … given the deficiencies of their back-up players, like Andrea Bargnani [C/PF], Jason Kapono [SF/OG], Hassan Adams [OG/SF] and Roko Ukic [PG], in this specific area of the game.

III) The absence of QUALITY DEPTH on the Raptors’ roster is going to be an achilles heel for their team this season, in comparison with the other top flight teams in the NBA this season,

e.g. Boston Celtics, LA Lakers, Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Hornets, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers;

as well as, the other 2nd & 3rd tier teams that are in the ‘chase pack’ alongside Toronto.

Observations from Curt Schilling

June 9, 2008

Sitting beside the Lakers’ bench during last night’s match-up between the Lakers and the Celtics, Curt Schilling (pitcher for the Red Sox) had a chance to watch an NBA Final’s game ‘up close & personal’.

His observations are certainly intriguing … 

Manny, JD, Papi, Lester and the NBA Finals.
… it was a fascinating bit of insight for me to watch someone in another sport who is in the position of a team leader and how he interacted with his team and teammates. Watching the other 11 guys, every time out it was high fives and “Hey nice work, let’s get after it” or something to that affect. He walked off the floor, obligatory skin contact on the high five, and sat on the bench stone faced or pissed off, the whole game. Just weird to see another sport and how it all works. I would assume that’s his style and how he plays and what works for him because when I saw the leader board for scoring in the post season his name sat up top at 31+ a game, can’t argue with that. But as a fan I was watching the whole thing, Kobe, his teammates and then the after effects of conversations. He’d yell at someone, make a point, or send a message, turn and walk away, and more than once the person on the other end would roll eyes or give a ‘whatever dude’ look.

==========================

There are several specific reasons the Celtics are going to win this series.

What Mr. Schilling observed last night … even as a self-professed basketball ‘neophyte’ … is a revealing portrait of the inner workings of two divergent NBA teams, each operating at an elite level, and a prime example of more than one of these specific reasons.

Rebounding Differential, We not me … and, Ubuntu!

Rock & Hammer – How the Spurs won Game 3

May 26, 2008


What’s the reason(s) San Antonio was able to rebound last night and win Game 3 against the Lakers, at home, trailing 0-2?

 

Reason One

 

According to last night’s TNT broadcast this is the quotation which hangs on the wall in the San Antonio locker room, inscribed in each language spoken by a member of their team:

 
————————————————–

When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much a a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” – Jacob Riis (American newspaper reporter and photographer, 1849-1914)

————————————————–
 

This is all you need to know about Air Force One.

 

Reason Two

 

If you’ve followed what this corner has had to say about this Spurs team, this season … in this space and elsewhere (i.e. different Live Blogging Events and other sites run by other bloggers) … you already know it was suggested earlier in this series that two of the things which HAD TO HAPPEN, if the Spurs were going to be able to get themselves back in it were: (i) Gregg Popovich was going to have to solve a certain riddle, pertaining to one Lamar Odom (6-10, 230) and the “normal rotation” of the Spurs and that, if Coach Pop finally does “figure it out”, (ii) the proper players for him to use more this series are (A) Robert Horry and (B) Brent Barry, in place of Ime Udoka.

 

Well … as the old saying goes,

 

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” – Anonymous

 

Robert Horry, Brent Barry & Ime Udoka, Game 3
 

Reason Three

 

GINOBILI!


Manu Ginobili, Game 3

 
Nuff said.

 

 

 

 

It is going to take a special team to knock the reigning champs out of this year’s NBA title chase; a very special team.

 

How the Spurs lost Game 1

May 22, 2008

Winning and Losing playoff games in the NBA … against a top notch, high calibre opponent … does NOT happen on account of:

* Good/bad Offensive Efficiency
* Good/bad Defensive Field Goal Percentage (True or otherwise)
* Ast:Turnover
* 3Pt Field Goal Percentage
* Free Throw Attempts
* Points Scored Per 100 Possessions (PSPHP)

or, any other current Game Stat (‘old school’ or ‘new-age’) you, or any Sabermetrician might care to mention.

Terrific, closely contested battles between two quality opponents, like last night’s Game 1, are decided by specific, individual plays/decisions (made or not made) by specific individuals (players or coaches) engaged in specific individual match-ups, AND the Momentum created/stopped/reversed/etc. by said plays/decisions, at Key (i.e. Fulchrum Possessions) Points in said game. FULL STOP.

Season ‘averages’ are irrelevant.
Relative ‘performance stats’ … are irrelevant.
Statistics, in general … are irrelevant.

==============================================

4th Q
Sas 81, LAL 77

6:56 Sas/Finley subbed out for Udoka; Oberto subbed out for Duncan

which produced the following individual player match-ups:

PG – Fisher (6-1, 210) vs Parker (6-2, 180)
OG – Vujacic (6-7, 205) vs Ginobili (6-6, 205)
SF – Bryant (6-6, 205) vs Bowen (6-6, 200)
PF – Odom (6-10, 230) vs Udoka (6-5, 220)
C – Gasol (7-0, 250) vs Duncan (6-11, 260)

and the ensuing series of possessions

6:38 Sas/Udoka Turnover: Bad Pass (1 TO) … Gasol Steal
6:32 LAL/Fisher: Jump Shot: Missed (open/Ginobili) … Ginobil Rebound
6:09 Sas/Parker: 3Pt Shot: Missed (open/Fisher); Duncan Rebound
5:51 Sas/Udoka: Jump Shot: Missed (shot fake semi-contested/Fisher)
5:50 Sas/Duncan Off Foul: Loose Ball (3 PF)

5:50 LAL/Team Time-out: Regular

5:30 LAL/Bryant Jump Shot: Missed (contested/Bowen) … Parker Rebound
5:25 Sas/Parker Fouled [Fisher: Personal (4 PF)]  
5:06 Sas/Parker Jump Shot: Missed (fumbled pass, contested/Vujacic) … LAL Team Rebound
4:57 LAL/Gasol Fouled [Bowen: Personal (4 PF)]
4:48 LAL/Vujacic 3Pt Shot: Missed (open/Ginobili) … Duncan Rebound
4:35 Sas/Ginobili Turnover: Bad Pass (4 TO) … Fisher Steal
4:32 LAL/Fisher Fouled [Parker: Shooting (2 PF)]; Free Throw Made (1 & 2) … Sas 81, LAL 79

4:32 Sas/Udoka subbed out for Finley

which produced the following individual match-ups:

PG – Fisher vs Parker [same]
OG – Vujacic vs Ginobili [same]
SF – Bryant vs Bowen ([ame]
PF – Odom vs Finley (6-7, 225) [new]
C – Gasol vs Duncan [same]

and the ensuing series of possessions

4:13 Sas/Ginobili Layup Shot: Missed (contested/Gasol [Blocked Shot]); Sas Team Rebound
4:10 Sas/Duncan Jump Shot: Missed (open/Gasol) … Fisher Rebound
4:03 LAL/Odom Layup Shot: Missed (contested/Duncan) … Finley Rebound
3:40 Sas/Duncan Jump Hook: Missed (contested/Gasol & Odom) … Odom Rebound
3:39 LAL/Odom Turnover: Lost Ball Out of Bounds (3 TO)
3:34 Sas/Finley 3Pt Shot: Missed (open/Odom) … Vujacic Rebound
3:18 LAL/Odom Layup Shot: Made (contested/Finley) … Sas 81, LAL 81

3:11 Sas/Team Time-out: Regular

3:11 Sas/Finley subbed out for Udoka

which produced the following individual match-ups:

PG – Fisher vs Parker [same]
OG – Vujacic vs Ginobili [same]
SF – Bryant vs Bowen [same]
PF – Odom vs Udoka [new]
C – Gasol vs Duncan [same]

and the ensuing series of possessions

2:57 Sas/Parker Turnover: Lost Ball (2 TO) … Fisher Steal
2:42 LAL/Bryant Fouled (Bowen: Personal [5 PF]); Free Throw Made (1 & 2) … LAL 83, Sas 81
2:28 Sas/Udoka 3Pt Shot: Missed (contested/Odom) … Gasol Rebound 
2:17 LAL/Bryant Jump Shot: Made (contested/Duncan & Bowen) … LAL 85, Sas 81
1:58 Sas/Udoka Jump Shot: Missed (contested/Fisher & Odom); Parker Rebound
1:55 Sas/Parker Layup Shot: Missed (contested/Gasol [Blocked Shot]) … Bryant Rebound
1:32 LAL/Fisher Jump Shot: Missed (contested/Udoka) … Sas Team Rebound
1:22 Sas/Ginobili Fouled (Fisher: Personal [PF 5]); Free Throw Made (1 & 2) … LAL 85, Sas 83
1:05 LAL/Odom Floating Jump Shot: Missed (contested/Udoka & Bowen) … Duncan Rebound
1:04 Sas/Duncan Turnover: Lost Ball Out of Bounds (TO 4) … NO FOUL CALL by Official [Bob Delaney/Center, not in correct position], Duncan Fouled [Gasol hack]

1:04 LAL/Team Time-out: Short

0:56 LAL/Gasol Dunk Shot: Missed (contested/Duncan [Blocked Shot]) … Sas Team Rebound

0:55 Sas/Udoka subbed out for Finley

which produced the following individual player match-ups:

PG – Fisher vs Parker [same]
OG – Vujacic vs Ginobili [same]
SF – Bryant vs Bowen [same]
PF – Odom vs Finley [new]
C – Gasol vs Duncan [same]

and the ensuing series of possessions

0:41 Sas/Duncan Jump Shot: Missed (contested/Gasol) … tipped in by Bryant & Odom … LAL 85, Sas 85
0:23 LAL/Bryant Jump Shot: Made (contested/Bowen) … Bryant Off Foul/NOT CALLED (ala MJ vs Russell-B … ‘MVP No-call’) … LAL 87, Sas 85

PLEASE NOTE:
Key ‘Fulchrum’ Play  in the game … Lakers ran a High Middle/Elbow Pick & Roll with Bryant & Gasol; Spurs responded with Trap/Double-team (Duncan & Bowen); Bryant reversed his direction, kept his dribble alive & STRUNG OUT the Double Team to the Left Sideline, forced Duncan to LEAVE, retreating back to the Key, and making Finley rotate out to find Gasol (open in the Left Corner); Isolated Bryant vs Bowen, for the Middle Drive … PUSH OFF & Pull-up Jump Shot: MADE.

0:20 Sas/Team Time-out: Regular

0:20 Sas/Bowen subbed out for Horry

which produced the following individual player match-ups:

PG – Fisher vs Parker [same]
OG – Vujacic vs Ginobili [same]
SF – Bryant vs Finley [new]
PF – Odom vs Horry [new]
C – Gasol vs Duncan [same]

and the ensuing series of possessions

0:09 Sas/Ginobili 3Pt Shot: Missed (contested/Vujacic) … Vujacic Rebound
0:07 LAL/Vujacic Fouled (Finley: Personal [PF 1]); Free Throw Made (1 & 2) … LAL 89, Sas 85

0:07 Sas/Team Tim-out: Short

0:07 Sas/Parker subbed out for Udoka

whiche produced the following individual player match-ups:

PG – Fisher vs Udoka [new]
OG – Vujacic vs Ginobili [same]
SF – Bryant vs Finley [same]
PF – Odom vs Horry [same]
C – Gasol vs Duncan [same]

and the ensuing series of possessions

0:02 Sas/Finley 3Pt Shot: Missed (open/Bryant) … Odom Rebound
END OF GAME

==============================================

WHAT IS RELEVANT in situations/games like these … are:

* A Brialliant play/decision by Kobe Bryant (a Superstar player)
* Good/bad coaching maneuvers/decisions by Phil Jackson (i.e. down-sizing to his ‘small’ line-up with 1/Fisher, 2/Vujacic, 3/Bryant, 4/Odom & 5/Gasol, and sticking with it) & Gregg Popovich (i.e. failing to respond properly to the shift of Odom to the 4-spot and repeatedly substituting with Udoka & Finley INSTEAD OF Robert Horry, until the Moment of Truth HAD PASSED and it was too late for the Spurs)
* 1 crucial Turnover & 3 untimely Missed Shots by Ime Udoka (an inexperienced player for the Spurs)
* Two crucial NO CALLS by NBA OFFICIALS
* The Spurs No. 1 Scorer, Manu GINOBILI!, missing a contested 3Pt Shot with 7 seconds left in Regulation Time … which would have given the Spurs a 1-pt lead

The Lakers were better than the Spurs, in Game 1 … of what promises to be an outstanding Western Conference Finals.

Will Pop figure it out?
Or, will PJ be able to stay one-step ahead of him?

Now … it’s on to Game 2.