Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 at 9:30 am  |  36 responses

Did Lakers ‘Conspire’ to Meet Thunder in the Playoffs?

The Lakers/Thunder first round Playoff series became a reality last night in Portland, but after the strange ending to their game against the Blazers on Sunday, the Daily News wonders if that’s what L.A. wanted all along: “If you’re the Lakers, wouldn’t you rather face the inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder than the Blazers or the San Antonio Spurs? Beating Portland Sunday would have all but ensured a Lakers-Blazers matchup. Let’s review. Kobe Bryant shanks two free throws. Derek Fisher bricks one of two. Bryant makes 81 percent and Fisher 85 percent. So that’s plenty weird, right? Then Fisher sticks out a mitt and fouls Martel Webster, who is trying some ridiculous off-one-foot 3-pointer with time running out. Why not let him shoot that mess, right? Webster hits all three free throws to give the Blazers a 91-88 lead. During the ensuing 20-second timeout, Lakers coach Phil Jackson designs a play for Pau Gasol to take a 3-pointer from straight away. This is the same Pau Gasol who is 0-for-4 on 3s this season. The same Pau Gasol who admitted he doesn’t even practice 3s. The same Pau Gasol, who usually catches the inbounds pass from Lamar Odom or Ron Artest and feeds a crisp pass to Bryant for the winning jump shot at the buzzer. Gasol missed his shot a bit long and the Lakers fall to the Blazers, who now have a terrific chance to move up and avoid the Lakers in the opening round of the playoffs. So, am I wrong to raise an eyebrow at the endgame Sunday? You tell me.”

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  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    If the Lakers WANT to play OKC, then it was a smart, calculated move by them.

  • kobesbestfriend

    The Zen master strikes again…easy sweep for 1st round guaranteed!

  • maeng

    that’s just stupid. the lakers can beat both okc and portland easily in a 7 game series. but i think the thunder is more dangerous than the blazers. they are my darkhorse for the playoffs. they may be inexperienced but they defend, has a bunch of scorers and are very quick. compared to an injury depleted portland team who now dosent even have their main man broy.

    this post is freakin stupid.

  • http://www.twitter.com/NotebookNick NotebookNick

    Seeing as Portland with BRoy has the Lakers number this year, I’d want to play OKC, too. But the fact that Roy is out right now would make me want to play them. Much less scary.

  • http://thekobebeef.wordpress.com LDR4

    Eyebrows most def raised. Crafty Zen. Its a little odd to think of a team tanking games not to get a bettery lotto change but to get certain playoff matchup. Didn’t work out well for the Mavs in ’07.

  • http://gmail dirty frank

    As crazy as that was if the Lakers were trying to throw the game then why get the offensive board after Kobe’s missed free-throw. The play for Pao is pretty strange though.

  • AL29

    Some people are saying it was Jackson’s way of punishing Pau for calling out Kobe for taking too many shots. I don’t know if it’s true, though. Who cares.

  • http://jayemmbee.blogspot.com/ ClutchPerformer

    Its like the Cavs giving Verajao the Game winning shot, maybe they wanted the Bulls over the Raptors? who knows

  • http://jayemmbee.blogspot.com/ ClutchPerformer

    Its like the Cavs giving Verajao the Game winning shot, maybe they wanted the Bulls over the Raptors? who knows

  • underdog

    If I were the Lakers, I would rather play against the Blazers for old time’s sake.

  • vtrobot

    kobe and phil and co. are a bunch of talented b*tches, but i don’t think they’d prefer to play OKC instead of PDX. i hope OKC pulls some golden state sh*t on LAL.

  • ab_40

    Maybe the lakers are complecant? But they’re in trouble with the magic and the cavs finishing the season with a better record as the lakers

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Wow, it all makes sense now! haha
    On another note, is Brandon Roy injured? I read somewhere he’ll miss a bunch of weeks…

  • Overtime

    I actually hope this is what they wanted to do, cos the ending to that game was ugly. Tho I get what people are saying, i’d much rather have Portland than OKC, even with BRoy.
    People keep saying about the Thunder’s inexperience…discounting Andre Miller and Marcus Camby, how much experience do the Blazers actually have?

  • http://www.dimemag.com Royal

    Why would the Lakers seek to play a young, fearless OKC team? Why would they want to be host to Durant’s first playoff series? This conspiracy doesn’t make sense considering OKC just drubbed LA in OKC a few weeks ago. So suddenly LA wants to face them again? GTFOH

  • T-Money

    The Varejao shot wasn’t a set play. / I don’t think LA wanted OKC. Thabo actually plays Kobe very tight. I agree with Kornheiser: I think it was Phil’s way of saying to Pau ”shut the f— up”. Pau spent all year complaining about touches and shots and saying that Kobe had to play more of team game. Phil basically told him ”you want to be the man? there you go big boy, bail us out like kobe does”

  • Exile

    Durantula to attack the Mamba. Tune in.

  • ka

    I baleeb it? But yah, blazers whupped lakers couple’a times so MAYBE

  • The D Train

    @overtime: Portland made the playoffs last year. They lost, but it still counts for experience, right? Also LA has lost something like 9 of the last 10 in Portland and the Blazers seem to play them about as well as anyone else on the left coast. It’s all moot now, but a healthy Roy-led Blazers teams probably worried Phil and Co. more than Durant and OKC. They haven’t really been setting the world on fire in the past week or so, and the pressure is just starting to rise. Playing in Portland last night, with Roy on the sidelines, the Thunder looked totally out of sync. I know that Durant is great and all that, but a lot of folks are going way overboard heaping all this praise on them as a potential playoff nightmare. Durant definitely gives them a chance to compete, but history has proved over and over that teams with no playoff experience have little chance of making much noise in the tourney, especially when matched up against the defending champions.

  • riggs

    i hope it bites them in the *ss

  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/42594-hoops4life Overtime

    @ D-Train, the Blazers do have experience indeed, but for most of them, its only against a Houston Rockets team in the first round?
    I do agree with you. In all honesty, the way the Lakers lookd right now, they probably don’t want anyone in the first round. It is going to be harder than it should, they wouldnt hve swept either team, and all this rest they are trying to get is going to be wasted on playing 1-3 extra games.

  • Aaron

    I’m certain OKC has a decent chance of ousting the Lakers 1st round. More so than Portland. Face it people.

  • memyselfand9

    yeah right. this is too dumb.
    if they really wanted to tank it why did they let banged up kobi play heavy minutes in that game?
    some of ya’ll ain’t too smart, sorry.

  • J-Ro

    Doesn’t that loss from Sunday also ensure Orlando home court for the Finals?

  • The D Train

    @Aaron…what makes you so confident in OKC’s chances? Is it their 1-3 record against the Lakers this year? Or is it their lack of experience matching up against a coach with 10 rings and a star player who will get every call in a close game who has his own 4 rings? Or maybe it’s the fact that since 1984 an eighth seed has defeated the top seed a grand total of three times?

  • The D Train

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see OKC take down the Lake Show, but I try to be realistic. History is not in OKC’s favor. In fact, neither is the current situation. Be on Durant’s jock all you want, but if you think Kobe is going to let his team become one of the greatest upset victims of all time, you obviously haven’t been watching him for the past decade-plus.

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    I surely hope that the Lakers didn’t “conspire” to meet OKC.

  • Jackie Moon

    I love this one, Laker haters can’t choose an appropriately hating side.

    If Lakers legitimately lost, there was no “conspiring” to hate on. If they conspired to lose, it means they were actually good enough to win.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Biggest..Upset..Ever? Serve that one up!

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    By no means am I a Laker hater; however the Lakers aren’t doing so well against young, athletic, up and down teams this year. Particularly the Thunder. Of course I’m not saying that the Lakers will lose, but I don’t think that there going to just step on them either

  • Pingback: Playoff Matchups Begin to take Shape « The Kobe Beef

  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/42594-hoops4life Overtime

    The Thunder do have a fairly legit chance.
    Think about it: Russell Westbrook against Derek Fisher…who you taking?
    Durant may actually be contained, with Lamar/Kobe/Arest handling him, bu then Jeff Green will be huge.
    Of course, the Lakers have Pau…and the Thunder have little to answer that.
    True, they are 3-1, but that one was the last one, and the Lakers need a pickup badly, the Thunder wnt go easy

  • bnets

    Im not sure about that cause they needed that win, now da Magic are goin to get da home court advantage if they ever meet in da finals

  • The D Train

    How do we qualify terms like “fairly legit” and “decent chance?” To me both of those have to mean at least a 50% chance of winning, right? So if history is on the Lakers side, Kobe is on the Lakers side, Phil is on the Lakers side, etc. can we really say OKC has a better-than-average chance of pulling off the upset? I understand if a team matches up extremely well, but LA won the season series 3-1. Head-to-head has to mean a little something, right? And having Kobe and Phil has to mean a little something right? And being the defending champions has to mean a little something, right? Christ, the OKC bandwagon is ridiculously gigantor at this point. And as much as I want to see it happen, is there any legit reason to think that OKC will somehow become only the 4th team in 25+ years to win a 1-8 matchup against arguably the 2nd best player and best coach in that time period? I would be content with people saying that OKC has a chance, or might provide an early test for LA, but to say they are “fairly legit” or have a “decent chance” is totally dismissive of history in general.

  • chintao

    WRONG. Fphil’s an idiot and Blowme Kryant is an overconfident a$$hole. Nice try, though.

  • http://blomsteve@yahoo.com Steve Blom

    The Lakers don’t have to conspire to meet anybody. They can beat anyone in the league. I’m actually glad they’re meeting the Thunder because of the Kobe Bryant-Kevin Durant matchup. That’ll be incredible to watch!