Tuesday, May 27, 2008

There is no title to this post

So I've dealt with some very severe personal struggles about how to accurately analyze this game. Personally I feel some very strong emotions about the the final 5 minutes of game 4 and how the game was refereed. I traditionally have chosen not to comment on refereeing unless doing so under some sort of "impartial" guise, but in this instance that may be impossible. Rather than toy with some unachievable mask of objectivity which would inevitably be drenched in disingenuous posturing, I've decided to let the full extent of my feelings flow freely. Let's get down to business:

I think the refereeing in the final 5 minutes of game 4 between the Lakers and Spurs was bullshit. B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T. Bullshit. Every single time a Spur drove into the lane, a Laker made body to body contact with him. The Spurs never received a foul call and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. The injustice (or what I have so originally renamed BULLSHIT) occurred when every Laker that drove to the lane and drew body to body contact with a Spur received a foul call. This reached its breaking point when Lamar Odom blatantly reached over the back for an offensive rebound and drew a defensive foul nonetheless.

Listen, any NBA realist will admit that Stern and the Association have an economic interest in seeing certain teams succeed. The Spurs have been a part of several of the least watched NBA Finals in the history of the league. But at a certain point the preference for profit over principle becomes unbearable and I believe that point is now. There is something rotten in the House of Stern. I will, at least for the time being, make no mention of the fact that Joe Crawford, in his enduring wisdom and unassailable impartiality, was chosen to referee this crucial game. I, for one, can't think of a single instance in the history of the Spurs franchise which would disqualify him from being fit to serve in such a capacity.

But I am picking at the scraps of Stern's table. If I am to gnarl at the meat of the issue, I must address the final shot, taken by Brent Barry. In the NBA there is a precedent. When a Shooter pump-fakes and causes a defender to leave his feet, and that defender, out of control, brings his body down on top of the shooter, a foul is called. Continuation is granted according to the motion and intention of the shooter, but at minimum a foul is called. During the final moments of the Spurs-Lakers game this evening, Brent Barry pump faked, causing Derek Fisher to rise into the air. Fisher, unable to avoid Barry, brought down his torso and elbow on Barry's body. Barry, unable to avoid contact, was physically restricted from taking a shot. In every single NBA game I have ever witnessed, what transpired in the final moments of game 4 between the Lakers and Spurs is called a "foul." Spell it with me now. F.O.U.L. That's right, a f-o-u-l. Take your time if you have difficulty pronouncing it.

Now many players traditionally receive a foul in that situation. Some where purple and gold. Others green and white. Unluckily the individual shooting in the play just described was wearing silver and black, which disqualifies him from actually getting a fair call. There is a player presently, of the purple and gold variety, with the surname Bryant, that would receive such a call repeatedly and without question. I assure you if anybody made as much contact with Kobe as Fisher made with Barry the call would have been automatic. But then again, a Spurs-anybody final isn't going to bring in the big bucks now is it? So we can't have that, now can we?

Well, congratulations Lakers. You played a decent game and were launched solidly over the hump in Sterns booster chair. I'll be honest with you. I think this Lakers team has more talent than the Spurs. I think this Lakers team is better than the Spurs. I have said for sometime that if the Spurs were going to make it out of the Western Conference it was going to take a victory over a superior squad and the squad I was referring to was none other than the Los Angeles Lakers. But, I'm sorry, I give them no credit on this evening. If they take this series, I will be a gracious loser. I will commend them on their poise and their focus, and wish them luck in the NBA Finals. But on this evening they will receive no such commendations. They didn't deserve to lose tonights game, but they sure as hell didn't deserve to win it either.

On that note, lets discuss the type of things that traditionally are supposed to determine the outcome of a game, like how each team actually played:

Rebounding: The Spurs got absolutely hammered on the boards in the 1st half. We did an excellent forcing the Lakers into tough 1st shots, but we killed ourselves by allowing so many trash buckets off of offensive rebounds.

Ginobili: Well, way to not show up Manu. Listen, I know your finger is messed up and you have an arthritic ankle, etc... but a 2-1 game at home down in the Western Conference finals is a must win game and its important that your top scorer put up more than 7 points on 2-8 shooting.

Barry: the white Jesus played tremendously this evening. He shot 7-14 from the field and his 23 points were a classic example of the type of gutsy veteran play that has put this team over the top time and time again. But it wasn't just his shooting. His 5 rebounds and 2 steals also played a crucial role in the the ability of the Spurs to stay competitive in this game. Sadly, his heroic play wasn't enough.

Lakers Role Players: In a first half in which Odom decided to disappear again (can we officially put to rest this idea that Odom is some huge match-up problem for the Spurs even though they have held him to his worst numbers of the playoffs?), Luke Walton and Vladimir Radmanovic stepped up to ensure the Lakers maintained the lead. Role Players don't need to win it for you, but the effort those guys put in during the first half is crucial to the chemistry that creates a championship team.

Turnovers: The Lakers had a lot more turnovers than the Spurs (14-8), but something about the fact that several of the Spurs TO's ended in an open Kobe Bryant dunk felt more significant, didn't it?

Ime Udoka: One rebound, one assist, one personal foul, 0-0 from the field in 8:25 of play. We could have used a tad bit more from you there, Ime.

Finley: Whatever tonights outcome, the argument of who is a more effective part of this Spurs squad, Finley (who had a +/- of -18) or Barry (+24), should be over.

Farmar: I'm really glad Jordan Farmar went 1-6 for 2 points tonight. I hate that guy.

I may or may not be back with extended thoughts on tonights game. I will be back with a debate a friend of mine and I had during the game about the nature of refereeing in the NBA (the debate occurred during the 1st half, far before I was in the mood to spew such venom, and is in no way related to the particularities of tonight's refereeing). I'll be honest, for the Spurs to climb out of their present circumstance it would take an unheralded amount of talent and will. I'm not saying its impossible, but certainly the odds are against us from here on out.


Sax Mann said...

I have to agree with you on that. I've seen that guy wearing a yellow and purple jersey with a 24 on the back get a foul doing the exact same thing White Jesus did.

But, there is still hope. Even though the Spurs are against the wall because a 500 lb gay Big Show is cornering us, we will fight back. We'll prove to all gay Big Shows of the world, and to the gay Big Show whose initial is D.S. that the Spurs will get to the Finals.

Unknown said...

Way to be selective in your claim that the refs were favoring the Spurs last night. I guess you were forgetting everything that happened before the final shot.

Fisher shot hit, H.I.T, HIT, the rim, hence the shot clock should have been reset, and White Jesus wouldn't even have a chance for the last shot.

The block by Odom on Parker was clean and not a goal tending, there goes another 2 points.

There are more calls/non-calls that happened in the game, for both sides. No one is trying to get you, Spurs fans. You guys won 4 titles in the last decade. Did you forget you were at the receiving end of a good one game "trade" last season, Horry for Diaw and Stoudamire?

Joey Crawford awarded Duncan with so many FTs and if he was really out there to get you guys, he would've called that goal tending as a block (as it should be). But no, it was a difficult call, a 50-50 call, and he called it in your favor.

Back to the final shot, had Barry gone up and made the contact, then yeah, it would probably be called. Instead, he dribbled away from the contact. Sure, if it was KB24, he probably would have gotten the call, but that would be because he'd know to jump and force the shots, instead of running away from the contact.

I, as a Lakers fan, didn't like the way it ended last night. I admit that we were fortunate not to be called for a foul on Barry, but again, we should have sealed the game when Fisher shot grazed the rim, bounced off Horry's foot and the shot clock should've been reset.

The Dude Abides said...

Irsan, good points, as Manu would have gotten that call, but I don't think Kobe would have gotten the call in the Barry/Fisher situation. He didn't get sent to the FT line even one time during the game, despite numerous drives to the basket where he was getting fouled pretty hard (e.g. the baseline dunk where Timmy hit him on the head, and the ill-advised bank shot with 35 seconds left when Timmy pushed him in the chest). The goaltending call on Odom and the non-reset of the shot clock after Fisher's shot hit the rim were also egregiously bad calls in the final minute of that game. So, the tally for the final minute went three bad calls/bad non-calls in the Spurs' favor, and one bad call/non-call in the Lakers' favor. Bottom line, Lakers win in five.

Unknown said...

Here's a novel idea: when you're the defending champs playing a must win game at home, actually take the lead at some point in the game. I know this might sound crazy, but having the L.E.A.D. can L.E.A.D. to winning!

But I'm sure you'll be able to go back and find a missed foul call on every play the Spurs failed to take the lead and play like the defending champions that they are. Or should I say, were.

Chris said...

Why is it that small market teams (or their fans) make the same lame "Stern wants the ________ (Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, Bulls) in the playoffs for ratings." How come, after the first lame finals with San Antonio in 1999, he allowed THREE MORE FINALS with that bad small-market draw? Why didn't he tell the refs to keep SA out of those finals as well?

Maybe it's because the refs are human and they do not want to award the game to SA on the final play. Let the Spurs win the game on their own merits! At least Pop has some honesty and says it's a non-call.

By the way, where was the traveling call on Tim Duncan? And all the ticky-tack fouls on the Lakers in the first half and NONE by the Spurs on Kobe in 28 shots?

The Lakers wanted this game, the Spurs wanted to go home and go to bed. I have never seen a worse effort in the Conference Finals from a former championship team. To cry about officials belies the real reason the Spurs lost. They are old and not athletic.

fartface said...

According to the official rules of the NBA, picking up your pivot foot while the ball is in your hand is called a travel -- T.R.A.V.E.L. (see what I did there? har har har!)
Look at the replays, broham. Barry traveled before the contact. 99% of the time they're not going to end the game on a travel like that, so count your blessings...would you RATHER have lost on that call?